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on March 27, 2015
I came across Sedgwick's Against the Modern World many years ago and the book delighted me. It opens a useful path into that dark wood of philosophical-mythology, an almost forgotten obsession of mid-century European intellectuals. Sedgewick's direct style and journalistic language are particularly helpful. He cuts across academic specialties and presents the figures that unite fascist political myth with the new direction of political myth, including some very much alive in the Islamic world. You might say that fascist philosophical mythology is the one really enduring political style invented in the 20th century. Those with an interest in the work of historian Michael Burleigh or anyone interested in the careers of Carl Jung or Mircea Eliade will find fruitful paths to a deeper understanding of their period as well as the problems that shaped them.
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on June 18, 2015
Like many others, I was influenced by the Traditionalists without actually reading Guenon or Schuon. Their pretensions, lack of serious scholarship, and simply ridiculous ideas were enough to keep me away. But their followers? Huston Smith? Eliade? I took their works very seriously - as did many others - without seeing the underlying - and frankly disguised - assumptions.

Traditionalism has influenced every area of religious studies in many ways - not the least, the elevation of Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta to the status of ultimate reality - something not accepted in India. Guenon's absurd idea that all religions teach the same fundamental thing - which happens to be Advaita - is disproved at every turn. His idea that there is one underlying "perennial philosophy" has no basis in fact. While there may well be an underlying reality behind all religions, Islam and Hinduism don't teach the same things. And Guenon's mental gymnastics don't change the facts.

But the influential nature of many of his (crypto-) followers has given these ideas a place in the marketplace of ideas that they would not have on their own merit.

In addition, there's a hypocrisy to Traditionalism that this fine books make clear. A traditionalist - in the desire to connect with a stream of the great primordial river - may become an Orthodox Christian, a Latin Mass Catholic, a Muslim (as did Guenon), an Orthodox Jew, a Hindu - with absolutely no real intellectual or emotional connection to that tradition. As though a commitment to a traditional way of life is a suit of clothes that can be changed at convenience.

These were all things I'd sensed. But Dr. Sedgwick's detailed, expert, and genuinely scholarly approach provided me with the key insights I needed to reexamine the Traditionalist movement. For that - and for the courage of addressing such a controversial subject - he deserves our thanks and respect.

And personally? I think the tone of the many one-star reviews goes further to support Dr. Sedgwick's thesis than any positive review.

I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in critical religious ideas - and to anyone who may have considered that the Perennial Philosophy is actually out there...
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on August 6, 2017
Before encountering this book, I had never heard of "traditionalism" as anything but a general, conservative resistance to change--and not necessarily a resistance to the kind of change represented by modernity. The author has elevated and "privileged" the term into 'capital T' Traditionalism by focusing on a single, obscure French author, and many other similarly obscure 'religionists'--to describe a movement that apparently only those participating in it understood. The underpinning of Sedgwick's Traditionalism is a hazy and ill-defined network of mystics who self-identified as Sufis (often described as 'Islamic mystics'); that obscure Frenchman, Rene Guenon, described himself in that way, as did other figures in this narrative. Since there is no received, authoritative history of either Sufism or Traditionalism, Sedgwick is quite free to create a fairly elaborate picture of Traditionalist cultural and religious conservatism, and who is to gainsay its accuracy? While there IS some documentary evidence supporting the interpretation, much of it depends on interviews with persons who also self-describe as Sufis and lay claim to the creation of, or membership in. Sufi "orders." To this reader, whose exposure to 'the Sufi way of thought and action' has largely been through the claims and viewpoint of the late Idries Shah (which see), it is surprising to read of Sufis (as an entire group) as linked with any specific, consistent point of view--much less a firmly conservative one. Shah's major 'historic' survey of the Sufic phenomenon suggests that its practitioners haven't been associated with any particular stance regarding culture, other than a definite commitment to the nurturing of human perceptive ability and creative, rational, evolutionary growth. As an exploration of the way in which some self-identified Sufis have pursued their investigations, and adopted positions with regard to modern (20th century, or post-Enlightenment) societies, this book will be of interest to those curious about the origins and development of a certain kind of resistance to the effects of modernity.
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on September 28, 2017
A bit hard to comprehend because of all the names, details, and notes but that may be because it is well documented.
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on May 9, 2011
This book is by no means as biased as some of the hysterically negative reviews would make it out to be, and I say this as someone who has admiration for Guenon, and Coomaraswamy as well. Indeed, Guenon comes off in this book in a much better light than many of the others who were to later take up his perspective. The only "character flaw" of Guenon's that seems to emerge is his "mild paranoia," and it certainly does not take in depth biographical research to catch a glimpse of it since it comes out in certain of his writings. What is much more revealing are the sections on those who followed in Guenon's footsteps, especially Schuon. His charlatanism (i.e. his willingness to cut moral "exoteric" corners for the sake of "esoteric" practice, something which, as Sedgwick points out, Guenon explicitly rejected) is visible to the discerning eye in his writings. In particular, I recall a piece from Studies in Comparative Religion called "The Problem of Sexuality" which claimed that Christ's teaching is not contrary in principle to polygamy and that the Church should have allowed polygamy, though not to all, but to princes only--try and see what kind of reaction that gets from any practicing Christian! The history of the Maryamiyya (Schuon's "Sufi" order) that Sedgwick ably chronicles only confirms Guenon's contention that syncretized "esoteric" elements (a la Theosophy) cannot constitute a standalone practice or a separate religion.

The other two major currents of Traditionalism that Sedgwick explores are 1) the influence it had on mainstream American religious studies and 2) the influence on Fascist and new-Right circles in Europe and Russia. Though others have complained that too much is made to fit under the category of "Traditionalism" and that this in turn unfairly sullies Guenon and other apolitical Traditionalists by association, Sedgwick is very careful to point out that the Fascist line of development didn't have a whole lot to do with Guenon but was mostly Evola's doing, and that Guenon's Traditionalism in no way necessarily leads to Fascism and an inability to recognize its evils. In fact, it is the general disconnectedness between the far-right political Traditionalism and the more direct Traditionalist off-shoots that can at times make the book difficult to follow, since so many new characters and milieus have to be introduced. As for the subtle but extensive influence of Traditionalism on American academia, Sedgwick's case is well documented. For me, personal experience also bears this out since it was in undergraduate classes on Islam that I first encountered Traditionalist writers like Nasr and Chittick, without at the time having any suspicion that a specific school underlay their ideas. I think Sedgwick's distinction between "soft" and "hard" Traditionalism is well justified, and might more appropriately be called "concealed" and "explicit" Traditionalism because far too many of the "soft" Traditionalist works that have managed to gain wider readership do not clearly acknowledge the provenance of their ideas.

The reason that I take off one star is because, as others have noted, Sedgwick does not adequately engage with or represent the ideas of some of the authors about whom he writes. For instance, he mentions the charges of a-historicality against some of Coomaraswamy's comparisons of Hinduism and Buddhism, but does not mention the fact that most of his Traditionalist-era work still deals with art theory and makes extensive, one might even say exhaustive (and exhausting, for the reader), references to ancient and medieval primary philosophical texts, both Western and Eastern, to support his claims (something which Guenon rarely does). It is also a bit silly for Sedgwick to bemusingly note Guenon's unoriginality when he went to great lengths to be "unoriginal" and not to make assertions which could not be legitimated by an earlier authority. Particularly, Sedgwick fails to trace one of the central Traditionalist claims--which he labels Perennialism--farther back than the Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino when there are clearly indications of the same idea much earlier (St. Augustine, for instance, mentions in his Retractions that the true religion had existed since the beginning of mankind and only started to be called Christianity after Christ came; Islam itself affirms that all the prophets from Adam to Mohammed taught the same doctrine of tawhid or Divine Unity). He tries to use the supposedly recent invention of Perennialism to undermine Traditionalism's internal consistency and make it appear as something more modern than it would like to admit. Perennialism is also the point on which Sedgwick contrasts even the most exteriorly orthodox Traditionalists (Guenon and Valsan) and actual traditional people. It seems to me, however, that the real divergence between the two groups is not in the idea that other religions might contain some or all of the truth (which is an idea historically found in Sufism, even if the Traditionalists emphasize it more than normal) but that one can indiscriminately find effective salvation in all religions (which would probably be beyond the pale for even the most ecumenical sounding Sufis). Finally, Sedgwick seems to think he's made some kind of trenchant insight into Traditionalism by noting that, because it is a reaction to modernity, it might not be as "traditional" as it thinks it is, as though applying the standards of the past to modernity somehow made those standards brand new. But it is a truism to say that the development of modernism affects the development of anti-modernism--obviously, a negative reaction to modernity is not possible without... modernity. So while Sedgwick's portrait of this movement is informative and more or less objective, it fails to fully take account of why Guenon and others were so unsatisfied with the modern world to begin with.
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on March 29, 2013
In the news today, the legal debate over same sex marriage endures in the American Supreme Court. On one side are the traditionalists (conservatives) that argue marriage is a natural and divine union between a man and a woman. On the other are modernists (liberals) that say humans of same sex orientation have a natural and legitimate right to marriage with full benefits thereof. The traditional view in this marriage act case is only a symptom of what you will encounter in Against the Modern World. Mark Sedgwick writes about a form of Traditionalism with a capital T that has a remote relationship with the conservative Defense of Marriage Act position. This Traditionalism views Modernism as a secular assault on sacred, perennial values at levels not imagined by advocates of traditional marriage. You will find no argument about same sex marriage in this book.

Mark Sedgwick is Associate Professor for Arab and Islamic Studies at University of Aarhus, Denmark. He encountered Islam and Sufi groups in Cairo in 1990. By 1996 he began research on the influence of René Guénon's ideas and Traditionalism. He published this historical survey and critique of the influence of René Guénon's ideas in 2004. Guénon (1886-1951) converted to a form of Sufism and Islam in France after years of intellectual and religious exploration within occult and Masonic groups and ideas. He was raised Catholic and educated in a Jesuit school. His doctoral thesis on Vedic teaching was rejected as it was too theological, a twist of fate that led Guénon on his obsessive quest to define the eternal and primordial truth behind all religious impulse. Sedgwick has been identified as a Muslim convert with the Muslim name, Abd al-Azim. Our author specializes in Sufism as well as a range of related subjects, so he is well qualified to tackle this unwieldy movement. His critics claim that he has an axe to grind due to early entanglements with the Traditionalist milieu, but Sedgwick denies a hidden agenda.

The rudiments of Guénonian Traditionalism can be found in Le Théosophisme (Theosophy: History of a Pseudo Religion) published by Guénon in 1921, a book I reviewed for ICSA Today, a magazine published by the International Cultic Studies Association (Volume 3, Issue 3, 2012). I applauded Guénon's effort as he did manage to provide a useful and enduring argument for why the Theosophists and related sects led to a "counter initiation" or to a corrupt spiritual path. Guénon asserts that the counter initiation leads to the very materialism that Theosophists claim to avoid, whereas initiation in the proper sense leads to the perennial realm of the sacred or God. Guénon utilizes the symbol of the cross to illustrate the vertical or heavenly realm of "quality" in contrast to the horizontal or earthly realm of "quantity." In his view, the modern age has lost the connection to the vertical axis, thus descending into an inversion of true initiation or the sacred path. My limited review of Le Théosophisme did not take into account the subsequent Traditionalist milieu inspired and loosely guided by Guénon as documented in Against the Modern World. Sedgwick points to flaws in the Guénonian scheme for human freedom (moksa) from samsara or life in this modern world.

Guénon's book The Reign of Quantity and The Signs of the Times (1945) defines essential ideas that guide various Traditionalist groups, most of which are non-aligned with one another--there are no annual gatherings of major Traditionalist groups and scholars. Traditionalists tend not to broadcast their positions but operate under more practical ventures. For example, Sedgwick identifies Prince Charles of the United Kingdom as leaning toward Traditionalism behind his support of organizations like Temenos under his Prince's Foundation. The Prince is concerned that secularism has caused us to forget "all knowledge of the sacred and spiritual, and those principles of order and harmony which lie at the very heart of the universe" (Sedgwick, 215). If Guénon were here today, he would point to the proliferation of mass media and entertainment that increasingly distracts modern generations from a quality grasp of existence and meaning. In other words, more is not better.

Sedgwick strives to maintain his academic neutrality in this endeavor, but his approach nevertheless grates those that view Guénon as a saint. One has only to read the one star reviews posted on www.amazon.com. Sedgwick humanizes all the Traditionalist heroes including Frithjof Schuon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Julius Evola, (to some extent) Mircea Eliade, and many sometimes surprising others. Guénon has had an unsung ("secret" in Sedgwick's title) admiration among academics and seekers that agree with his anti-Modernist stance and his cult of ideas if not his person. Sedgwick does not accuse Guénon of intentionally creating an identifiable group that he could personally manipulate (or guide if you are a devotee) as did G. I. Gurdjieff. Rather, think of Nietzsche the lone wolf philosopher as a parallel example of having a cult following among existentialists.

Modernism in this view rejects God and any evidence of a primordial or archaic ground of being that informs human spiritual awareness. Traditionalism and Perennialism co-inhabit the idea of an underlying universal religion revealed through "prophets" including Pythagoras, Plato, Moses, Muhammed, Sankara and the Vedic rishis. Traditionalists claim that star dust as matter could not have evolved into complex life forms without the spiritual ground we call God, but no Traditionalist would hold to the Protestant form of anti-modernism that rejects speciation through natural selection and a universe billions of years old. A Traditionalist following Guénon finds evidence of the primordial tradition in ancient Hindu scriptures more than anywhere else, rejects evolution as the cause of life forms, and believes that scientific materialism offers no satisfying answer to the mystery of conscious life.

Despite the Vedic grounding of Traditionalism, we learn from Sedgwick that the vast majority of Guénon's followers tend to adopt a Western hybrid form of Shia Islam. No doubt, imitation of their hero Guénon has a lot to do with this. Guénon lived out his life after 1930 in Cairo as a devout, married Muslim dressing in simple Arab attire, yet his following among Arabs and cradle Muslims remains negligible save for a few scholars like Seyyed Hossein Nasr. If a Muslim or Sufi under a legitimate shaykh finds Guénon inspiring or reaffirming, it is more as a side interest than as a guiding guru. As Sedgwick indicates in his chapter "The Islamic World," Muslims steeped in their tradition have no need of reaffirming it through Guénon who in fact joined them, so why should they join him? Others were able to adapt Guénon's ideas to other traditions: Coomaraswamy to neo-Platonism, Marco Pallis to Buddhism, and in a very private way, Eliade to Orthodox Christianity. The typical Traditionalist will not broadcast his orientation, apparently, which again is why Sedgwick calls it "a secret intellectual history."

Guénon practiced a sleuth form of Traditionalism within Islam. He lived as a Muslim with a Muslim wife in Cairo but remained entrenched in his idiosyncratic Vedic metaphysics. Sedgwick reminds the reader that Traditionalists believe that the modern world is hurtling to self-destruction--it is after all, the Kali Yuga or last age of Vedic cosmology. The remedy is to live a Traditional life--as there is no Traditionalist religion per se established, any religion with a true initiation or revelation of the perennial mystery will do. Guénon insisted that true initiation remains a few religions: Islam, Hinduism, an esoteric form of Freemasonry, and a version of the Templar movement in Christianity among them. He finally relented late in life after followers convinced him that indeed Buddhism also had a Traditional revelation.

Expanding on Guénon, Frithhof Shuon (died 1998) found a traditional initiation within a form of Native American religion as well as in Marian devotion in Christianity and as a result promoted himself above his early Sufi Muslim identity. Shuon established a sect within Traditionalism called Maryamiyya at Inverness Farms in Indiana as a "primordial" community. Shuon to the Maryamis (his cult following) was the Avatar of this age. He was also the pneumatikos, a kind of gnostic that has achieved the very pinnacle of divine awareness. Shuon had multiple wives based on a "vertical" relationship which is anything but the traditional marriage that same-sex marriage protestors promote. Whether or not Shuon was purely platonic with his vertical wives is not confirmed by Sedgwick.

Another extreme adaptation of Guénon's ideas occurs in the Aristasia movement composed mainly of women on the Internet, a kind of virtual cult that emphasizes feminine (not feminist) lifestyles from the 1950s and before. Earlier versions of the Aristasians were known as The Romantics and The Olympians. The movement began at Oxford in England in the late 1960s, founded by an academic called "Hester StClare" (sic). She saw a cultural collapse occurring among hippies and other modernist revolutionaries. Aristanians call that 60s tumult period "the Eclipse." The "inverted" society that resulted they call "the Pit." Inversion is a core concept derived from Guénon who meant something akin to the anti-Christ or "an all-pervasive characteristic of modernity...that people foolishly see as progress" (Sedgwick, 24-25).

After reading this book I felt that Guénon's glaring error, in my humble view, was his failure to recognize the "attractive" aspect of Brahman in the cyclical Vedic cosmology. That which we return to is not the Tradition established in some golden era or the ancient mists of Vedic cultures.

After reading Sedgwick, I think Guénon's zealous devotees take him far too seriously, no doubt affected by their master's imperious writing style. He is after all only one of the 'signs of the times.' Underscoring this position on page 113, Sedgwick reminds us that even Mircea Eliade (a soft Traditionalist) "before 1978 said that what it was about Guénon's work that "irritated me [was] his excessively polemical side, and his brutal rejection of the whole of modern Western culture, as if it were enough to teach at the Sorbonne to lose the possibility of understanding anything.""

My take away from Sedgwick's survey is that Guenon's "excessively polemical style" smacks of Totalism as defined by Robert J Lifton (Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, 1989): "Where totalism exists, a religion, a political movement, or even a scientific organization becomes little more than an exclusive cult" (Lifton, 419). Cults in this sense create a transcendent experience that "stops time" for the follower who feels the aura of a final answer to life's questions. Thereby, "the original exploratory impulse" that got them there freezes, according to Lifton. Nevertheless, there remains something attractive if not compelling in the idea of an enduring sacred Being that human seers can tap time and again to revive what Rudolf Otto in 1917 called the Holy or the numinous among us. And perhaps the two forces of quantity and quality are not as mutually exclusive as hard Traditionalists seem to feel.
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on April 21, 2010
I agree with a previous reviewer that the reviews of this book seem to fall into 2 camps, either traditionalists (Who all give the book 1 star but fail to give any substance as to why) And opponents who give it 5 starts (But again, largely lack content as to why give the book such praise) Hopefully as neither a traditionalist or an opponent my review can be a little more balanced.

First of all many of the critics of the book seem to refer to an online review of the book by a Christian traditionalist (You can find it cut and paste in a few of the below reviews) So I will base a large part of my review around that. The main criticism of the reviewer concerning this book is that in his opinion Sedgwick has 1. A hidden agenda against traditionalist which he was not honest about when writing the book. 2. He is only a recent convert to Islam (This being back in the 90s) And so has little knowledge of Islam (One could as how a Christian priest came to such a remarkable conclusion but thats another matter) and 3. That Sedgwick follows a narrow interpretation of Islam (Based on his recent conversion and his bad experience with Sufism)

Addressing the first point this seems to have come about from the author confronting Martin Lings about a spiritual crisis he suffered on joining the Haqqani Naqshbandi order regarding "Love for a Sheikh" Lings is reported to have replied that love of the Sheikh is a must (Presumably the answer he was not looking for) And this has resulted in a grudge against all traditionalists (Something I find very hard to believe) The second and third points seem to stem from Sedgwick pointing out the rather lax practice of Islam amongst the followers particularly of Schoun in France both during and after WW2. For example their lack of prayer, fasting etc which the author sees as both a departure from Islamic practice itself and in particual from the Alawi Sufi order to which the said they belonged. The critic of Sedgwick quotes from the book a passage regarding a Sheikh who was fasting while in the desert and being enticed to drink water by a voice from above refuses claiming this is the devil trying to tempt him and God would never allow him to do what is forbidden. The critic seems to believe that this is proof of the authors narrow view of Islam without presumably realising that the story of the Shaikh is none other that the Sufi Shaikh Abdul Qadr Jilani! Again this idea that anyone who is critical of traditionalism has some narrow fundamentalist interpretation of Islam is something of a red herring. Nuh Ha Mim Keller a Sufi Shaikh of the Shadhili order has been a vocal critic of the group (See his book "Reliance of the traveller") He has pointed out how traditionalists such as Chittick and others have deliberately miss quoted the books of ibn Arabi and Abdul Qadir Jaziri to fit their needs. Martin Lings was criticised because in the early editions of his biography of Muhammad he narrated that Muhammad put a protective hand over an image of Abraham in the Kaba when all other idols and images were removed (Based upon one very weak narration, a story that contradicts all traditional understanding of Islam) In another words, it becomes clear that far from traditionalism being the authentic expression of Islam and Sufism its something of a western extension of it that has drifted on its own way.

Sedgwick begins his study with Guenon and the meaning of traditionalism. In this he is not entirely clear in his explanation however his biography of Guenon is of some interest. It would seem that Guenon in particularly on his settlement in Egypt did indeed live out the rest of his life as a practicing Muslim though interestingly enough one who did not know classical Arabic and one who it would seem had not read a great deal of classical Islamic literature. It is also of interest that Sheikh Abdul Halim Mahmud, a man who is often quoted in traditionalist circles seems to have never read a book of traditionalism and his endorsement of it stems from nothing more than support of practicing western Muslims both in his native Egypt and Europe. Schoun is something different and Sedgwick is quite right in that its almost unheard of that a Sufi order should take an entirely differnet direction as the Alawi order in Europe did. His biography of Schoun is intriguing and it would be no surprise that traditionalists are so critical of the book seeing as much of their hidden belief and practice is now exposed for public view.

Where I think Sedgwick fails however is his link between traditionalism and Fascism. The links between Guenon and Evola is weak to say the least. In fact the link seems to be nothing more than Evola happened to have read a few books by him. It would be like finding the books of Kipling amongst Stalins books and claiming a link between Kipling and Stalin! Another point is if Sedgwick was trying to claim that there was some traditionalist attempt at world domination through our universities and schools then he failed quite badly in this book. Traditionalist are almost unheard of amongst Christians and Muslims alike. He even points out himself that while Merton may be popular or while some Sufis who became Butichichi's after reading Guenons books its highly unlikely that traditionalism influenced that order or those readers to any great extent. What traditionalism and Sedgwick seem to forget is you cant implant a 50 odd year old tradition on a 1400 year old religion and expect to have much success.

All in all in interesting read. As one quote on the back of the book says "You will never see the allusion to the "Trancendental unity of religions" in quite the same light again"
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on August 21, 2012
"Against the Modern World" is an irritatingly childish book. It is really just a summary of the life of René Guénon and everyone who corresponded with him and read his work. It is not a discussion of his philosophy, which the author scarcely even mentions, until the final page of the book where he concludes that it is "not serious" without discussing any of its claims at all.

Traditionalism is a philosophy. If I read a book about Marx that concluded with "Marxism is evil" without even discussing his points, I would label it two-star propaganda at best. This book deserves the same rating.

The author is utterly confused as to why Turkish Traditionalists deem Evola a spiritual rather than a political writer. The reader is led to suspect that he does not understand the claims made by the writers he is discussing. He seems to believe he is describing some sort of pseudo-religious "movement" called "Traditionalism" that he thinks has "splintered" into, among other things, a radical feminist cult, rather than a philosophical method of approaching the diversity of the pre-modern world, which people from many different backgrounds have found enlightening.

How is it that this book was published by an academic press? It feels like the vanity press work of a crackpot who thinks he has uncovered a conspiracy, or something.
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on June 5, 2013
While I have to admit that I did find the history herein presented rather fascinating, the delivery was slow and unnecessarily detailed, the content was definitely unbalanced, leaning in a particular direction to support a particular view, and the "thesis" or conclusion was terribly weak. The "thesis" was that Traditionalism is a bad idea.This is a book that aims to dismiss Traditionalism/perennialism without really investigating perennialism itself, except in a superficial, historical way, or suggesting alternatives, but rather by aiming to demonstrate how the underlying ideas of perennialism ultimately lead to terrorism, fascism, madness, and/or megalomania! This is done by retelling the "unraveling" of certain Traditionalists' lives or branches of it that became rotten. The picture painted is one of Traditionalism as failure. I suppose that the book has value in examining the possible failings or dangers of Traditionalism, but even this is not done very deftly. It ends up reading like a hit piece on the key personalities of Traditionalism, even though the majority of the material comes across as "objective". For readers new to Traditionalism, I recommend reading the works of the Traditionalists themselves alongside or after reading "Against the Modern World". Then come to your own conclusions whether it is entirely a bad idea worthy of a hasty discarding, or if there is something there of value worth further investigation.
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on June 8, 2009
A useful read for those who want to investigate this current.

As a past reviewer noted, it is amusing to read the reviews of those that seem to be enthralled with the traditionalist authors/expositors/charismatics. This book is a journalistic and historical narrative as much as a brief exposition to the traditionalist movement.

Many of these traditionalist 'loyalists' I have come across are sincere individuals - unfortunately they often conflate real spiritual attainment with charisma, or with a talent for writing, translating, explaining, or using elegant discourse/ metaphor. This is one reason why some of the 'embarassing' or sobering facts about the icons of the alleged movement are met with such irrational sentiments.

According to some I have spoken with - the author was generous in holding back details of conflicts, problems, frank misbehavior and poor decision-making that reveal psycho-spiritual pathos and/or immaturity. This is stuff that continued beyond Schuon and is often overlooked and justified under the rubric of 'esoteric dispensation,' by those subject to an obvious cult psycho-dynamic - a dynamic authentic spiritual practice and guidance, if present, protects against.

Faiz Khan MD
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