First published in 2015, Pantheon: Adventures in History, Biography, and the Mind is now available as an audio book.
(Click on the cover image above for purchase information).
My second book, Pantheon, is now available. You can find out all the specific details on the book and its contents by clicking on the “books” tab in this website’s home page, and then selecting “Pantheon.”
What is the book about? I am concerned with what makes men great, or greater.
To probe this question, we must rely on historical and biographical example, as well as the hard-won wisdom from life’s rough-and-tumble.
So, we are building on the foundation laid in Thirty-Seven to make the edifice of self-knowledge stretch higher and higher. As the spires reach skyward, so do we.
If we can keep company with the best of men, we cannot help but become better. Nature has endowed us with a lively curiosity about the workings of personality and character; and we should make use of this inquisitive nature to better ourselves.
That man who is indifferent to the higher things in life will not be swayed by appeals to such principles. But we do not direct our efforts to such a man.
The example of moral good, and glorious actions, cannot fail to inspire awe in the idealistic man. It is to him that my book is directed.
If we can provide a consistent example of virtuous deeds and conduct, we can fill the idealistic heart with a dominating purpose.
This purpose is my purpose.
My intention is for you to embark on the conquest of your world. I have forged the sword. And now you must grasp the pommel.
And we cannot help but generate action, and a noble purpose, which is the first step in self-realization.
Help me, O Muse, and carry my words aloft,
On swift and airy currents, that they may solace
The expectant calls of seeking hearts.
My second book, Pantheon, is on schedule to be released this week. It is the culmination of a great deal of effort on my part.
I have forged the sword. It is now for you to grasp the pommel.
Pantheon is a longer (35% longer, to be precise), more complex, and more textured work than my first book. We continue our exploration of history, biography, and philosophical problems, with a continuing emphasis on character and Fate.
Compared with Thirty-Seven, there is a much greater emphasis here on the perfectibility of man’s soul, the resolution of moral problems, and the union with the Divine.
Many of the essays in Pantheon are greatly extended and reworked pieces that have appeared at Return of Kings. I consider these to be the definitive versions of these essays. But there are also many new essays, including:
Prologue (A historical fiction narrative)
The Ghost Of Christopher Hitchens (A philosophical dialogue)
The Fortress Of The Mind
Smashing The Paradigm
The Source-Book Of Plotinus (a treatise on Neoplatonism)
The Consolation Of The Natural World
The essays are extensively documented. As before, I have made a point of reading sources in their original languages, whether it be Latin, Arabic, or Portuguese. The footnotes form an integral part of the text.
Platonism also makes a strong appearance here. One chapter constitutes nearly a book-within-a-book, and proposes to instruct the reader, in a step-by-step way, in the basic tenets of Neoplatonist philosophy. I consider this subject to be an important one for the creative and probing mind.
I can say with confidence that there cannot be found another book quite like this one in the contemporary literary scene.
A further announcement will follow when the book actually makes its appearance.
It is hoped that readers will now not begrudge this exhausted writer some rest. I will shortly turn, bleary-eyed, to a much-deserved trip to a favorite foreign destination. Life is short, and the advance of time must never dull our appreciation of the rewards of an active and fruitful regimen.
[The excerpt below is the foreword to the book Pantheon: Adventures in History, Biography, and the Mind]
An author’s foreword often takes the form of an apologia. So it is with this one. We find ourselves compelled to renew our study of the nature of man, and the many dimensions of masculine virtue, which first began with the publication of Thirty-Seven in 2014. The favorable reception of Thirty-Seven made it clear that new approaches to man’s ancient problems were desperately needed, and would be gratefully welcomed. The unchanging themes of the life of man had cried out for a new voice, and a new technique, that might give them a contemporary resonance.
For too long, the study of masculine virtues had been cloaked in feeble apologetics that neither dignified nor elevated man’s struggles. What had been needed was a return to the basic sources in history, biography, and philosophy. The nature of adversity, the struggle for personal mastery, the vagaries of Fortune, the triumph of visionary effort, and the moral dimensions of character: these were subjects that demanded a refurbishment, and a modern perspective, that nevertheless paid homage to ancient models.
I have found the essay to be the best vehicle for the presentation and discussion of these themes. Finding the right balance in each essay between a merciful brevity and a tiresome length is a delicate balancing act; and the author, perched on his quivering tightrope, can only hope that his audience is not offended by his occasional deference to either extreme. I do not pretend to impartiality. For this I offer no apology, nor any equivocations. The current age calls not for a bland neutrality, but for a conviction that will ignite the imagination, and kindle its fires. My method has been to use the essay as a bacteriologist might use his microscope, or as the astronomer might employ his celestially-directed lenses.
Through the use of historical examples, the study of philosophical questions, and the examination of moral problems, our knowledge of ourselves grows measure by measure. The scope of these questions intimidates the author as much as it does the reader; and we can only hope that the awareness of our ignorance will serve as a constant stimulus in our quest for wisdom. Effort in seeking wisdom is never wasted, for our goal is a noble one. We may respectfully disagree with Seneca when he warns us,
Whether reason or fortune has concealed these things,
Let what has been hidden remain hidden, always awaiting discovery;
As the Truth, unearthed, always brings misfortune to its discoverer.
The essays in this volume have been selected for their treatment of the themes listed in the paragraphs above. I have decided, in addition, to give extended treatment to the topic of Neoplatonism. The final chapter of the book contains a detailed summary of all fifty-four treatises of Plotinus’s Enneads. It is the product of a thorough study of the original texts, and constitutes nearly a book within a book. I do not need to be told how rash this effort was; but being rash, I elected to proceed.
Neoplatonism and mystical philosophy is a subject of some interest to me, as I believe that its dedicated study can bring a vastly expanded appreciation of one’s spiritual potential. Every reader, of course, will have to decide for himself. We can only strike forward, and make our way as best we can, swinging our machete at the bramble of vines in the inhospitable jungle of the mind. We recall Virgil’s lines (Aeneid II.494): Fit via vi. The road is made with force. So we force our way through.
With the vast range of topics covered, it is certain that there will be differences of opinion among reasonable men about the finer points of analysis on a given topic. The translations in the text from Latin and Arabic are my own, and to me alone must be ascribed errors in interpretation, if any may be found. The writing of a book is a solitary endeavor, and at the same time, something of a collaborative one. Ideas are plastic: they need to be worked, shaped, molded, and discussed, before they can take a final form.
I owe several debts of gratitude in the preparation of this book. Winston Smith, editor at Return of Kings, devoted much effort in reviewing the final manuscript, and made many welcome suggestions. I am also appreciative of the many readers of Thirty-Seven who contacted me personally to offer enthusiastic statements of support and encouragement. They are legion, and are heard. Finally, my special thanks go to Roosh Valizadeh, for his consistent backing, unflagging energy, and many expressions of faith in the project. A special place in this writer’s own pantheon must be reserved for the accommodating kindness of these selfless souls.
[To see purchase details, click on the book cover above, or here]
 Sive ista ratio sive fortuna occulit,
Latere semper patere quod latuit diu;
Saepe eruentis veritas patuit malo. [Oedipus IV.825]
My next book, Pantheon, is nearing completion. It is expected to be released in late March or early April 2015. Like Thirty-Seven, it will also be a collection of essays. The themes of the book are: redemption through suffering, the importance of masculine character, victory through perseverance, the finding of a moral purpose, and the glory of struggle.
But this is a more ambitious project than my previous effort. A conscious effort has been made to examine sources in their original languages. There are some efforts at historical fiction, as well as philosophical dialogues. Most differently, I have summarized and condensed the entire text (all fifty-four treatises) of Plotinus’s Enneads. It almost forms a book-within-a-book. The Enneads is the foundational text of Western mysticism, and I have long felt that a basic knowledge of this subject is essential for any man seeking to journey inward, as well as outward. Much has been written on the physical journeys required by man; we must now explore the inner journey.
More will be posted as information becomes available.