Dinah Kolka

Where do we go from Here? The paths to Liberty and Heritage – Book review

Last August, a group of leading dissident right thinkers have gathered at a conference titled ‘Where do we go from Here? The paths to Liberty and Heritage’. Each speaker discussed in detail their own idea and concept of how to get the future they want – be it a libertarian pipe dream, an idyllic Hobbiton-like quasi-communist Trumpton, or a reactionary haven. Despite the speakers coming from a vast variety of backgrounds, they were all united by a few common goals – the desire for change, an appreciation for tradition, love for aesthetics and liberty.

Despite not being able to attend the event in person, I had the privilege of reading and reviewing the book that contained all the speeches from the event. I humbly, and not so modestly believe that the choice of the reviewer (me) was perfect – as I can cast an outsider’s eye into the book and review it from the outside as someone who hasn’t even stepped foot in the Warwick University, where the event took place.

The concept of the PATH FORWARD was a brilliant idea to, for once, put the dissident right towards a shared goal – instead of continuous Twitter-based infighting they could all contribute and map out their vision for the future. Bring out the wholesome, squash the grim and bleak.

There was a fair share of similarities – the themes of community, aesthetics, and traditionalism shone forth, which was only a good thing – it showed that despite any apparent differences, there is a common goal.

There were a few notable speakers that many of us have heard names of more than once – our very own Mallardite – Samuel Martin, the famed Academic Agent, and even Carl Benjamin – the creator of the popular Lotus Eaters Podcast.

Many speakers have mapped out the problems with the current world, to then proceed to explaining how to move on forward.

Naturally, one of the most hard-hitting speeches was the one written by Academic Agent, who decided to cover one of the subjects he seems to often hyper-fixate on – ‘Culture is Downstream from law’. Using many studies, research and quoting Caldwell, AA has elaborated on the subject which, I believe, links to the main theme of the event by expressing the need to be in power in order to legislate in order to enforce your own positive vision of reality in the form of Trumpton – an idea which was generally critiqued in the later speech done by Carl Benjamin.

It felt like AA’s essay hasn’t delved too much into the concept of the ‘where do we go from here’ as he already touched on this point many a time in his own YouTube channel – building a network of 10s, the new elite who are best in everything they do, the elite of the new Ubermensch, so to speak.

Following AA, we had speeches/essays by Alexander Adams and Edward Slingsby, both focusing more on the concept of aesthetics. Slingsby was concerned with the matter of architecture and how far it has been bureaucratised. He outlined a few clever ways of how to retake the architecture and return it to traditionalists. He suggests that the architects should try to build their networks with the likeminded individuals and find other creatives who would do the same. This was generally a very strong theme that permeated the entire book – the need for a strong community of likeminded men who can ensure the success and preservation of the values and ideas. 

Adams, however, structuring his essay in a highly academic manner, debated the concept of choosing your opponents wisely and ensuring that you don’t alienate people who could help you which was a nice touch. Adams focused on the current tendency to censorship and how to avoid it. Adams is likely one of the best people to talk on this subject considering he published a book last year that discusses a similar subject titled Iconoclasm, Identity Politics and the Erasure of History. He also suggested that we need to steer clear from accelerationism advising that ‘you can’t take the Canterbury Cathedral and move it to Idaho’, as you lose the people and the atmosphere in the process. I disagree with this statement – one could make a very similar argument for returning the artifacts to their original place. You can and you SHOULD dismantle and take the Canterbury Cathedral with you. At least you saved it from the imminent ruin. It’s a tribute to the great of the past. But let’s not go on a tangent here because other than this, Adams certainly has a point – He continues by advising of the need of the preservation of the texts in the form of physical copies as well as the return to traditional means of communication – letters and email (how far we’ve fallen since email feels like a ‘traditional’ concept).

One of my favourite essays in the entire book was the one done by Samuel Martin (and I am not saying this because he is literally publishing this piece and he agreed to postpone my deadline on multiple occasions). Sam added a Zoomer-like breath of fresh air to the conference and a passion I have not sensed from other speakers. He decided to talk about the Utopia project. Utopia Project did specifically that – attempted to sketch out a positive idea for the future. Martin goes on to explain:

‘I have never understood why the right focuses so much on strategy. It’s not an irrelevancy, it’s very important. But surely you can only construct an effective strategy if you have a cohesive idea about what you want to achieve. You don’t build strategy first in the hope that you will get somewhere.’

And this captured the pure essence of the book – the creation of the cohesive idea of where we are going.

Ferro decided to dissect and deconstruct Klaus Schwab’s book titled ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and explain why it’s of the utmost importance that we ought to reject the kind of globalist technology he is proposing and ensure we return to tradition.

What I really liked was Not So Obvious’s article, very grounded, very focused on authenticity. He brought up something a lot of us don’t even realise sometimes, I think – how far we are removed from authenticity. The fact that money isn’t physical, the digitalisation of society, friendship, and romance. He offers a cure – by ensuring that we do more authentic friendship-building and doing more things in the real world.

One of the most wholesome elements of the book was the call for getting involved on the local scale in whatever way you can do it. Buy art from your fellow dissidents, read their magazines (worth noting, the Mallard was mentioned), start businesses, make meaningful friendships, find yourself a Twitter autist waifu. Some (Po the Person) even suggested that we should get involved in our local Conservative community and go drink wine with dusty old men who care about housing in your local area. Others advised learning a skill.

What I feel was very important that came across from it was that the path to liberty and heritage really starts from us. If you dislike the modern world, you must take steps to change something. First, you may need to change your outlook (Po the Person, Jogging to get somewhere), look to God for hope (Lambda, What Reactionaries can learn from the Bible), or if you’re a female, quit birth control (Aydin Paladin).

Once you’ve worked on yourself, you can try to tackle issues on the small, local scale, such as rejecting globalist technology and starting your own thing (Ferro, The Technology Problem), institution-building and networking (Samuel Martin), or doing things out in the real world (Not So Obvious).

The essays were all very well done with the speakers clearly highly knowledgeable within their chosen areas of discussion. The calls to change show that there are so many of us so strongly disaffected with the current reality. And this book and these essays map out of how we can disentangle this messy path of intertwined ideas and concepts and find a common goal we can all go towards – maybe not a utopian one but something clearer and more down to earth – a preservation of beliefs and values and passing them on to more people so we could make a meaningful change one at a time. If you’re interested, there is another event coming up relatively soon – if you’re interested – check out the website.


Picture Credit

Audubon’s Legacy of Birds and Tomfoolery

For someone who has anger issues, entering the Audubon’s The Birds of America exhibition was like entering a whole new world. Upon the entry, I saw giant screens showing details from Audubon’s work and I could hear quiet bird noises in the background. It was an incredibly calming experience, as much as one can consider stuffed birds and plates depicting birds massacring another bird calming. Naturally, this wasn’t the centre of the exhibition – it truly celebrated the skill and the creativity of the bird illustrator with a passion for nature.

The exhibition is running in the National Scottish Museum in Edinburgh from the 12th of February to the 8th of May of this year. It displays over 40 plates, each measuring almost one metre in height. Most of them have never actually been shown to the public before. It is split into 4 sections, each of them with its own theme – the first one, ‘Meet the Birds of America’ introduces the ‘world’s most expensive book’ and Audubon, in general.

John James Audubon was a 19th-century ornithologist and naturalist. He made a point of studying and cataloguing the birds he encountered in their natural habitats. A son of a sugarcane plantation owner and a chambermaid, he must have had a conflicted childhood. Audubon moved to the US to avoid participation in the Napoleonic Wars – and focused on birds instead. 

The second section of the exhibition titled ‘An Art and a Science’ examines the influence of other illustrators on Audubon as well as the scientific, or sometimes quasi-scientific context. With the Industrial Revolution clashing with the Romantic movement, the transcendental search for nature was at its peak. The illustrations at the time were generally quite dull due to drawing from taxidermy and lifeless study skins.

Audubon, however, made a point of painting directly from wildlife, by personally hunting the birds and sometimes getting others to hunt for him. He would then paint the birds he gathered by pinning them into lifelike poses observed in the wild. This resulted in his art being vivid and life-like. He didn’t want to paint the taxidermied birds as he felt this would take away their lively spark from them. He was known for sometimes romanticising the birds he saw in the wild, for example when painting the Mocking Bird, in which a rattlesnake attacks birds in a bush, where it would be impossible for a rattlesnake to do so. Audubon would also sometimes add more human behaviours to the birds to allow the audience to relate to the birds. He was sometimes accused of not exactly presenting the truth.

The third part of the exhibition called ‘Audubon in Edinburgh’ explores the role of Scottish intelligentsia in ensuring that Audubon was embraced by the art society, after his rejection by the scientific community in Philadelphia. He befriended William Home Lizars and started engraving. Edinburgh was central to Audubon’s beginnings as a bird illustrator, making it extremely relatable to the Scottish audience, and it became somewhat a privilege to live in the same city where Audubon once found inspiration and was embraced by the art world.

The fourth section called ‘The Great Work: The Making of a Masterpiece’ deals with technical and artistic achievements. There are short films available for those whose attention span is longer than mine. However, this section also shows the bound edition of Birds of America which is extremely large (100 x 130 cm when open). Audubon insisted that the illustrations would show the birds life-size. Only two paper mills in the UK were capable of printing these, as he used a double elephant folio which is 96 x 66 cm. For those who are capable to rotate shapes in their head, this number will probably mean a lot.

The fifth section ‘Naturalist or Showman’ focuses on his contribution to discovering new species. Audubon identified 25 new species. This part of the exhibition explores some of the ‘controversies’, for example, Audubon was known for his strong belief in phrenology, the science which is now deemed ‘pseudoscience’ by some. Phrenology suggests that one can find details about someone’s personality from their skull shape. Seeing what kind of person he was, he probably used phrenology to mock his rivals. He was often accused of plagiarism and scientific fraud due to misidentifying some species and fabricating scientific data. Sometimes he invented new species to impress people who might then buy his work. Reportedly, he even stole the specimen of Harris’s hawk from his subscriber to then pretend he never knew him. He also lied in his own autobiography.

The sixth and final section of the exhibition ‘Birds of the World’ considers the impact of the modern era on the preservation and extinction of many birds. Some, such as the Carolina parakeet is entirely extinct – they used to always flock in large groups which made it easier for the hunters to kill them. They’ve also been considered a pest by farmers, which contributed to their demise. The exhibition ends on a thoughtful note, advising us to consider the repercussions of human behaviour on the natural world.

This prompted many conversations, such as the possibility to clone the extinct animals using their DNA tissue, however, so far, this was only tried with Pyrenean Ibex in 2003, but this one died not long after from lung defects. It might be a way forward in the future though.

The exhibition was a visual feast for the eyes and the birds are engraved and painted beautifully. The sheer skill of Audubon’s art is undeniable, and it trumps any accusations he received. He may not have been rigidly adhering to the scientific advice, but he created something that’s still worth looking at. Audubon inspired George Bird Grinnell to create the National Audubon Society in 1905 (although the idea goes back as far as 1895 when the first Audubon Society was created). The organisation protects the birds and their habitats in the Americas. If you like birds, you can donate here.

Audubon’s exhibition included a wealth of important items, including some study skins of birds and many taxidermized birds as well as his diaries, plates, and his hunting double-barrelled rifle. The exhibition is beautiful, thoughtful and certainly fascinating. For anyone who craves the return to transcendentalism and ancient values – it’s a feast for their eyes. If you fancy a trip to Edinburgh before the end of the exhibition on the 8th of May – make a point of stopping by at the National Scottish Museum to look at some birds, I strongly recommend it.

Quote: The exhibition was a visual feast for the eyes and the birds are engraved and painted beautifully. The sheer skill of Audubon’s art is undeniable, and it trumps any accusations he received.


Picture Credit

Audubon’s Legacy of Birds and Tomfoolery

For someone who has anger issues, entering the Audubon’s The Birds of America exhibition was like entering a whole new world. Upon the entry, I saw giant screens showing details from Audubon’s work and I could hear quiet bird noises in the background. It was an incredibly calming experience, as much as one can consider stuffed birds and plates depicting birds massacring another bird calming. Naturally, this wasn’t the centre of the exhibition – it truly celebrated the skill and the creativity of the bird illustrator with a passion for nature.

The exhibition is running in the National Scottish Museum in Edinburgh from the 12th of February to the 8th of May of this year. It displays over 40 plates, each measuring almost one metre in height. Most of them have never actually been shown to the public before. It is split into 4 sections, each of them with its own theme – the first one, ‘Meet the Birds of America’ introduces the ‘world’s most expensive book’ and Audubon, in general.

John James Audubon was a 19th-century ornithologist and naturalist. He made a point of studying and cataloguing the birds he encountered in their natural habitats. A son of a sugarcane plantation owner and a chambermaid, he must have had a conflicted childhood. Audubon moved to the US to avoid participation in the Napoleonic Wars – and focused on birds instead. 

The second section of the exhibition titled ‘An Art and a Science’ examines the influence of other illustrators on Audubon as well as the scientific, or sometimes quasi-scientific context. With the Industrial Revolution clashing with the Romantic movement, the transcendental search for nature was at its peak. The illustrations at the time were generally quite dull due to drawing from taxidermy and lifeless study skins.

Audubon, however, made a point of painting directly from wildlife, by personally hunting the birds and sometimes getting others to hunt for him. He would then paint the birds he gathered by pinning them into lifelike poses observed in the wild. This resulted in his art being vivid and life-like. He didn’t want to paint the taxidermied birds as he felt this would take away their lively spark from them. He was known for sometimes romanticising the birds he saw in the wild, for example when painting the Mocking Bird, in which a rattlesnake attacks birds in a bush, where it would be impossible for a rattlesnake to do so. Audubon would also sometimes add more human behaviours to the birds to allow the audience to relate to the birds. He was sometimes accused of not exactly presenting the truth.

The third part of the exhibition called ‘Audubon in Edinburgh’ explores the role of Scottish intelligentsia in ensuring that Audubon was embraced by the art society, after his rejection by the scientific community in Philadelphia. He befriended William Home Lizars and started engraving. Edinburgh was central to Audubon’s beginnings as a bird illustrator, making it extremely relatable to the Scottish audience, and it became somewhat a privilege to live in the same city where Audubon once found inspiration and was embraced by the art world.

The fourth section called ‘The Great Work: The Making of a Masterpiece’ deals with technical and artistic achievements. There are short films available for those whose attention span is longer than mine. However, this section also shows the bound edition of Birds of America which is extremely large (100 x 130 cm when open). Audubon insisted that the illustrations would show the birds life-size. Only two paper mills in the UK were capable of printing these, as he used a double elephant folio which is 96 x 66 cm. For those who are capable to rotate shapes in their head, this number will probably mean a lot.

The fifth section ‘Naturalist or Showman’ focuses on his contribution to discovering new species. Audubon identified 25 new species. This part of the exhibition explores some of the ‘controversies’, for example, Audubon was known for his strong belief in phrenology, the science which is now deemed ‘pseudoscience’ by some. Phrenology suggests that one can find details about someone’s personality from their skull shape. Seeing what kind of person he was, he probably used phrenology to mock his rivals. He was often accused of plagiarism and scientific fraud due to misidentifying some species and fabricating scientific data. Sometimes he invented new species to impress people who might then buy his work. Reportedly, he even stole the specimen of Harris’s hawk from his subscriber to then pretend he never knew him. He also lied in his own autobiography.

The sixth and final section of the exhibition ‘Birds of the World’ considers the impact of the modern era on the preservation and extinction of many birds. Some, such as the Carolina parakeet is entirely extinct – they used to always flock in large groups which made it easier for the hunters to kill them. They’ve also been considered a pest by farmers, which contributed to their demise. The exhibition ends on a thoughtful note, advising us to consider the repercussions of human behaviour on the natural world.

This prompted many conversations, such as the possibility to clone the extinct animals using their DNA tissue, however, so far, this was only tried with Pyrenean Ibex in 2003, but this one died not long after from lung defects. It might be a way forward in the future though.

The exhibition was a visual feast for the eyes and the birds are engraved and painted beautifully. The sheer skill of Audubon’s art is undeniable, and it trumps any accusations he received. He may not have been rigidly adhering to the scientific advice, but he created something that’s still worth looking at. Audubon inspired George Bird Grinnell to create the National Audubon Society in 1905 (although the idea goes back as far as 1895 when the first Audubon Society was created). The organisation protects the birds and their habitats in the Americas. If you like birds, you can donate here.

Audubon’s exhibition included a wealth of important items, including some study skins of birds and many taxidermized birds as well as his diaries, plates, and his hunting double-barrelled rifle. The exhibition is beautiful, thoughtful and certainly fascinating. For anyone who craves the return to transcendentalism and ancient values – it’s a feast for their eyes. If you fancy a trip to Edinburgh before the end of the exhibition on the 8th of May – make a point of stopping by at the National Scottish Museum to look at some birds, I strongly recommend it.

Photo Credit.

It’s probably a good time to re-colonise Shakespeare

The Renaissance was a spectacular time for literature, arts, and anatomy. The sheer wealth of geographical expansion reinvigorated Europe and invited it to explore, research, and discover. This period was crucial for the conflict between religion and knowledge, a subject thoroughly explored in Doctor Faustus. The Italian Renaissance especially brought forward many crucial questions about life and death, religion, exploration and other issues.

But this is no longer at the forefront of Renaissance studies. The calls for decolonisation have been sounding for quite a while and it’s slowly becoming a subject mainly discussed by right-wing self-proclaimed pseudo-intellectual political commentators. Is it still worth talking about? It might be. 

Many students join the English departments armed with an entire collection of Shakespeare’s works and a copy of Doctor Faustus, anticipating learning all there is to know about Renaissance in literature. 

Well, those students would be sorely disappointed. The loudest calls for decolonisation have been coming from The Globe, the first Shakespearian theatre. On the very front of their website, we can see ‘Anti-Racist Shakespeare’ in big red letters. When looking at their blog entry from August 2020, a completely innocuous and not totally coincidental date, the quote from Professor Farah Karim-Cooper sheds a lot of light on what’s happening with Shakespeare: 

As the custodians of Shakespeare’s most iconic theatres, we have a responsibility to talk honestly about the period from which he emerged and challenge the racist structures that remain by providing greater access to the works and demonstrating how Shakespeare speaks powerfully to our moment.

This is fascinating, as this then led to many movements to decolonise the literary genius. Universities advise students to listen to a podcast about the importance of ‘decolonising Shakespeare’ and the first lecture is basically a lesson on why Shakespeare is not universal and must be redefined. 

The lecture material encourages students to look out for ‘colonial oppression’ and invites students to not only decolonise Shakespeare but also the Renaissance. Put your Marlowe in the rubbish, the reading list is now filled with race-related, women-related plays, geared not at looking into the genuine literary wealth of Shakespeare, but at intersectionality. The anti-Semitism in The Merchant of Venice is barely visible under the colossal shadow of the potential ‘queerness’ within the novel. The patriarchy and the search for something that isn’t there take precedence over trying to uncover important truths. 

The lecturers may find it laughable that some people oppose decolonisation. They seem to be engaging in strawman ‘oh does that mean that we’re not going to teach Shakespeare? Of course not!’ But that’s not the point. 

I think that if we’re tearing down statues in Bristol and across the US, Shakespeare is potentially one of the cultural statues that could come down

Professor Ayanna Thompson, ‘Shakespeare Teachers’ Conversation’

If universities endorse the above message, what signal are they sending to their students? Of course, they may laugh trying to explain that it doesn’t mean literally tearing down Shakespeare, but the point stands. What they are trying to do is to reconstruct the existing understanding of Shakespeare and re-create it in order to accommodate people who hate them. 

Shakespeare was a white Anglo male and lived during the beautiful age of colonial expansion. No one should be worried about saying this one way or another. There’s nothing wrong with it either. I personally believe that Doctor Faustus is a far more important novel than ‘The Masque of Blackness’ by Ben Jonson who wrote quite a dull play about black people searching for the land where they can become white and beautiful. 

I understand that this is supposed to make the students uncomfortable and convince them to engage critically with the racism in the past; but don’t we all already know this? Isn’t it much more productive to focus on the plays that could relate better to contemporary issues? Apparently not. 

Midsummer Night’s Dream is apparently about patriarchy and The Merchant of Venice is gay.  The problem with academia these days is not that there are modules that are ideological; no, the ideology very easily just seeps into everything. There is no way out anymore – most academics are left-wing so naturally their modules will be geared in that direction also. This wouldn’t be an issue as this has been happening for aeons. The problem is that this then creates a whole army of impressionable young people whose main focus will be the discussion on intersectionality and race when there is so much more that Shakespeare can offer. The only way to circumvent it is to rediscover the truths that Renaissance literature has to offer. Reject intersectionality and race and embrace tradition. 


Photo Credit.

Scroll to top