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Chōkōdō Shujin discusses the importance of efficiency, physical discipline, and mental health in preserving the dignity of the individual and maintaining classical ideals within modern culture.

When we look at national life as a manifestation of culture, I think we must address it from three aspects, on the premise that it should be based on classical ideals and thus deeply rooted in the spirit of tradition. Firstly, is it efficient? Secondly, does it support the healthy development of both the mind and the body? Thirdly, does it allow us to maintain our dignity?

First, let us speak of efficiency. To be efficient, be it as an individual or within the context of a group, life, including work, must first of all be disciplined. By disciplined, I do not mean unnecessarily rigid or pedantic. I do not advocate tedium for its own sake. What I mean here is that one must strive for excellence in one’s work, and also in one’s private life. This requires the development of technical ingenuity, and the attainment of a certain level of mental prowess. It likewise requires a systematic use of effort and time, and a precise order of things. It is also necessary to take adequate rest, for it is important to maintain a clear mind as well. Work, important as it may be, should not be the foundation of one’s life. In religion and the arts, too, discipline is necessary. Modernity has made a god of “busy-ness,” often at the expense of efficiency. One need look no further than the modern educational system, where collectivism and group work are valued over individual excellence. This group work is only “efficient” insofar as it elevates the most mediocre members of the group. As traditionalists, we must fight against this, acting in preservation of the dignity of the individual.

The dismal state of both male and female beauty is the result of feminism run riot, of unchecked womanly narcissism. It is not only women who are guilty of this; also culpable are the unmasculine men who enable the increasingly perverse social and political opinions held by their wives.

Secondly, in speaking of preserving the dignity of the individual, one must also mention physical discipline, that is, one must value one’s body. Health must not be neglected in times of peace, of course, but it must by all means be maintained to the highest degree during times of turmoil. This requires good mental hygiene, proper nutrition, and a good level of physical training. We traditionalists must have a clear awareness of the necessity of health without falling into neurosis. In modern “woke” and feminist circles, a healthy body is considered taboo; beyond taboo, physical health is seen as threatening, and physical beauty even more so. “The acknowledgement of flawless beauty apparently hurts the dignity of modern man,” wrote Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. A century later, this holds truer still. Feminist extremists decry beauty as the enemy. If such is to be the case, then let us be aesthetic terrorists. It should be the case that no one wishes to have an unhealthy or ugly body, but there are many these days who feel that self-esteem, as opposed to dignity or self-respect, is a joyous and happy thing, and it seems that they view their bloated self-esteem as irrefutable evidence of good health. It is obvious that the public does not have a firm view of health, and drawing their attention to this is not enough to raise their physical fitness or otherwise elevate them from their delusional notions. Many proponents of feminism claim to support bodily autonomy, and yet they allow their bodies to become grotesquely obese, forswearing all agency. When asked, they would likely say that such a state of physical ugliness is natural, as though obesity and the myriad ailments which it begets are fated. These women then insist on being called beautiful. Anyone who denies their claims is denounced as a misogynist. These so-called empowered women deny themselves any semblance of control over their own physical states. “If my self was my dwelling, then my body resembled an orchard that surrounded it. I could either cultivate that orchard to its capacity, or leave it for the weeds to run riot in,” the novelist Yukio Mishima wrote in Sun and Steel. In this decadent era, it is a sign of individualism, of free thought, to cultivate one’s body. The dismal state of both male and female beauty is the result of feminism run riot, of unchecked womanly narcissism. It is not only women who are guilty of this; also culpable are the unmasculine men who enable the increasingly perverse social and political opinions held by their wives. For the past thirty or so years there has been a widespread and popular belief that physical health is somehow out of proportion to mental capacity, the prime example being the muscular athlete or slender model being depicted as vapid and unintellectual. This line of thinking, this mass delusion, came about because the world has long since lost sight of what culture should be.

On the other hand, physical health is not all that should be considered when speaking of health. It is often said that a healthy mind is a healthy body, and that a healthy body is a prerequisite for the development and vigorous activity of a strong mind, in particular, the full development and regulation of the brain, will, and emotions. However, when it comes to the subject of mental health, not only is it difficult to make an accurate judgment on one’s own, but it is also difficult to ascertain whether one’s physical health is good enough to be able to follow a doctor’s diagnosis, or to improve one’s constitution and muscles under the guidance of a competent instructor. However, it is not only difficult to judge the mental health of a person in the first place, it is also difficult to judge what, if anything, should be done. Freudian and Jungian schools of thought have been abandoned in favor of self-help, and all manner of deviant notions are espoused in the name of leftist ideology. In a somewhat different vein, what was in the past simply considered either mental weakness or an unpleasant personality is given whichever colorful name is currently en vogue, and the “sufferer” is encouraged to take pride in the faux ailment. In reality, these are maladies that largely affect young, leftist women, wherein they will demand unearned privileges and accommodations, conduct themselves with an outsized, unfounded sense of entitlement, and generally diminish the quality of the lives of all those around them.

I believe that the most important thing for traditionalists at present is to preserve the mental health of their communities, insulating themselves and their families from this pervasive rot. Society is rife with the paranoid delusions perpetuated by the so-called activist class, crudely deployed by various leftist American media outlets. I use the phrase literally, in a diagnostic sense. The DSM-5 defines “paranoid delusions” thusly: “The most common delusion type associated with schizophrenia, these delusions cause a person to believe they are going to be harassed or otherwise harmed by an individual, group, or other organization.” Obviously, I am not claiming that all, or even the majority of the activist class suffers from schizophrenia, only that these perpetually aggrieved mouthpieces of a globalist monoculture repeatedly claim all manner of persecution while providing no evidence to support their assertions. Their “lived experience” is sufficient, in their eyes. Similarly, Marcela Howell, the president and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, stated publicly that “Being a Black trans woman is, literally, deadly. That is unacceptable and demands immediate action.” Similarly, in the June 27, 2020 issue of The New York Times, self-proclaimed activist Raquel Willis said, “…as a black trans woman, I often have to grapple with the question of, what do any of these protections mean if I am dead, if I am still at risk of literally being killed?” What is this if not a paranoid delusion? Only in her mind is she at risk of “literally” being killed due only to her race or sexual deviance. As to what action should be taken, their answers remain as vague as their claims, giving the impression of a perpetual state of chaos and terror. On the Black Lives Matter website, too, we find the following statements: “We are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise” and “We affirm our humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” Such vague yet florid language evokes the specter of genocide – note the use of “systematically” – but if pressed to describe the nature of this “deadly oppression,” their answers remain hopelessly vague, citing statistics without background or context and meaningless platitudes. In this way, they perpetuate mass societal delusions. “Nothing is further from the truth than the claim that the American soul is ‘open-minded’ and unbiased; on the contrary, it is ridden with countless taboos of which people are sometimes not even aware,” Julius Evola wrote in Revolt Against the Modern World.

Thirdly, in defiance of those who consider themselves to be our social betters, let us speak of maintaining dignity, which, as a manifestation of culture, is an extremely serious matter, especially with regard to tradition, culture, and history. Let us be an antidote to a society that has poisoned itself in search of a Maoist year zero, poised to strike against this era of enlightenment that seeks to erase the past.

Human dignity, which can be described as grace, is a complex and subtle element that is difficult to sum up in a single word. If anything, it means that a person has a hint of nobility about him, and that an irresistible power and goodness can be felt in his innate demeanor. Noble does not necessarily mean high status or learnedness. It can also be seen in the purity of a simple and earnest spirit. For example, if a person is honest “like Christ,” he has already made the other person feel something wonderfully noble in terms of honesty, and this is something that has been acquired by the person as a dignity. In some cases, invocations such as the name of Christ are often used carelessly and irreverently, but at any rate, when used with sincerity, they are a confession of a kind of awe-inspiring trust that evokes a certain reverence, the sense that you cannot be mocked, no matter what other appearances you may have. It does not matter whether or not a person has a certain style, social status, or education, if he is able to make such an impression on people, it is precisely because he has something to rely on, even if unconsciously, that he can be said to have a certain dignity. If a person were to pontificate on his honesty and make it a selling point, as it were, the expression “like Christ” would never be used. Openness can on occasion be as admirable as honesty, but if there is something deliberate or stingy about it, it does not enhance the person’s dignity. “Dignity is the outward manifestation of inviolable self-respect,” wrote Yukio Mishima. This is the nature of unspeakable dignity.

The distinction between true culture and pseudo-culture, for example, depends on the presence or absence of this dignity. We traditionalists, who are entrusted to the stewardship of history, beauty, and culture, must increasingly demonstrate this “dignity,” which has been valued since ancient times, in all of our social activities, or we will never be able to win the trust of others in the future. In this sense, the dignity of traditionalists depends first and foremost on whether or not we have an unwavering, unerring sense of pride in our history, tradition, and lineage, and not just espouse it from our lips or hold it as a mere posture.

Human dignity is also found in the purity of the simple spirit, but at the same time it is also shown through truly refined manners and skilled techniques. We see such a spirit in William Wordsworth, who in 1804 wandered throughout the northwest of England, “lonely as a cloud” through breathtaking mountain paths and beside tranquil lakes, uniting the grandiosity of nature and the quiet elegance of poetry in his elegiac verse. I also find more dignity in people who live a solid, principled, unobtrusive life, following the traditions of generations, than in those who live an elaborate, pretentious life in the city. The form of the Japanese tea ceremony also proves this, as seen in the style of those who are called masters of the art, but more than that, it is in the tense, yet calm and contented manner in which the most ordinary person around us, when immersed in his own specialty, can somehow be seen as a kind of temperament that cannot be seen in ordinary life. In this way, you can discover a spark of elegance that is not regularly seen in ordinary life. It is a beautiful, harmonious, clear, and unaffected appearance.

As traditionalists, we should strive to live in defiance of this undignified era, upholding the ideals of efficiency, health, and dignity. I will end this piece with a quote from the meditations of Marcus Aurelius:

Yes, keep on degrading yourself, soul. But soon your chance at dignity will be gone. Everyone gets one life. Yours is almost used up, and instead of treating yourself with respect, you have entrusted your own happiness to the souls of others.

Chōkōdō Shujin

Chōkōdō Shujin is an artist in the tradition of the Shirakaba-ha,or White Birch School, of Japanese literature. As such, his work is strongly grounded in aesthetics, pessimism, and a strong skepticism towards modernity and technological “advancements.” A believer in art for art’s sake, Shujin is a poet, essayist, novelist, and hack writer of short stories. His translations of Japanese literature into English can be found on his substack: https://teikokubungaku.substack.com, and Twitter account: @CShujin. His hobbies include smoking cigarettes and thinking unpleasant thoughts. He resides in Aomori, Japan.

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