There Will Be No More Mona Lisas


Mrs Apostaticus, the toddler and I spent this weekend just gone in Melbourne. As usual, I came away with deep feelings about the place. Mostly I’m just relieved that I again resisted burning down the Immigration Museum. One day…

The poz is so strong in Melbourne it could drive a good man to drink. Looking at many of the city’s denizens, it has. It is the best of us and the worst, contending for the soul of the nation. Standing in Federation Square looking at the SBS offices and watching PETA equate bacon with cannibalism is enough to make a sound man nauseous. Then you glimpse Flinders Street Station and St Paul’s Cathedral and see the former greatness of our people. The city is a battlefield, one which I expect will be ground zero in the coming Culture War to take the nation back from the left.

I expect it will be more than just pig blood which gets spilled in the coming struggle.

The criticism against reactionaries like me has always been that we are fuddy-duddies driven by nostalgia and an irrational hatred of the present. It’s not true, of course. Nothing the left ever says is. We just believe modernity was a wrong turn. I’m more of a neoreactionary anyway, but that’s beside the point right now. Let’s stick to Mona Lisas and Melbourne.

Melbourne brings out both my reactionary love of heritage and admiration of the past and my very unreactionary love of 21st century cosmopolitanism. I can’t help it. The windy slut gets me every time.

I love her cosy pubs, squalid hidden corners, uneven laneways, absurd creativity, pretentious café menus, decadent shopfronts, her overdressed men and her underdressed women. Sure, most of them hate everything someone like me stands for and would sign a petition for my extermination. Still I love them all the same.

Collins street melbourne photo
The Rialto, Collins Street. Photo by Rexness

But most of all I love the old Melbourne still visible under the postmodern degeneracy; the magnificent monument to Victorian stateliness and ambition which has survived postwar demolition crews and soulless ‘developers’ to remind us of what we could have been, had tragedy not broken our hearts and sophistry our minds during the 20th century.

We could never build Melbourne again. Even if we wanted to, which most of us don’t. It’s beyond us now. We are lesser men, painting and replastering the monuments of our discarded ancestors to prevent them becoming ruins and revealing our barbarism.

It’s a futile gesture. Our barbarism is obvious.

The towering new buildings of postmodern Melbourne are nothing-structures. They could be anywhere, or nowhere. They are alien and hostile, reminding us that we are now occupied mentally and spiritually by foreign powers. They gloat over us, their captors, as we disappear underneath them.

Many reactionaries or even conservatives who ponder such questions of obvious degeneracy in the West have tended to see it as an inevitable and unavoidable process. This follows the path established by such thinkers as Oswald Spengler, whose typically impossible German prose outlines a theory of the rise and fall of peoples as a cyclic and organic process. The way people today think of such things is in linear terms; it’s a very Western way of thinking of history as either progress or regress. It’s a straight line to extinction.

In this way of thinking, our decline into materialism, dysfunction, demoralisation, elite malfeasance and collapse is presented as just a built-in feature of reality. There is no hope for us.

I disagree with this way of thinking. When I go to a modern art gallery (which of course I never do) and see genitals talking about colonialism or a shoe made of glitter, I don’t see this as an inevitable process of decline. When I walk down Melbourne’s streets and see yet another young white girl hanging off her dealer with a glassy stare at the world, I don’t think that’s natural. We’ve allowed this to happen. We chose to be weak because it was easier.

Parliament house melbourne photo
Royal Exhibition Building. Photo by denisbin

We made choices. We chose illusion over reality, feelings over facts, forced equality over natural hierarchy, vanity over humility and a concern only for the present, disregarding both the past and the future. We chose to stop believing in hard things that make life worthwhile, instead choosing to believe in easy things that make life meaningless, purposeless and ugly. We chose the false fun of dissipation over the deep joy of building for posterity.

It takes generations of heartbreak, delayed gratification, brutal honesty and manly striving to create a Mona Lisa. Such a work is not the product of an isolated individual. It is realised through an individual as an expression of a people. In such glorious achievements though an entire people can rejoice, just as through our omnipresent failures do we all stand condemned. I don’t include the foreigners among us in this; I mean Australians, the people whose ancestors built this country.

Without a rebirth there will be no more Mona Lisas in the West. Maybe theorists like Spengler are right, and the West is already dead anyway. Maybe it’s already over. In that case, it’s more than just a renaissance we need. We need a resurrection.

The men who built Melbourne were animated by that manly ambition. Like the Muslims and the Chinese today, they were confident of their worth. They knew who they were, and they cared enough for their descendants to leave behind a beautiful metropolis for them. They’d known hard times, and those hard times had burnt away delusion and narcissism. Their innate human idealism was directed toward the personal and the metaphysical, rather than the political and the mundane. Their priorities were sound, and grounded in reality.

The evil spirit behind cultural Marxism knew it needed to destroy Melbourne to overcome the country. The strong socialist strain in the city’s DNA alongside its high levels of immigration made that job easier. The result is like the face of a beauty who’s now turning tricks after some hard times. Heartbreaking in what it could have been but isn’t, the city is also inspiring by showing us a glimpse of what we’re capable of. A race that can build prewar Melbourne can reach the stars.

Whether by fate, natural cycle or unfortunate chance, we took a series of wrong turns that has created our present spiritual squalor. It’s the emptiness at the heart of our material riches. When faced by a similar turning away from reality in his beloved Florence, the medieval monk Savonarola led the people in the famous bonfire of the vanities. The Renaissance works of art they burnt as degenerate we now hold up as exemplars of the Western civilisational highpoint. Savonarola knew something though – glorious as it was, the Mona Lisa represented the turning away from the truth that would bring down his own age and lead steadily to ours. It was the beginning of our slide into this modern narcissistic rebellion against reality.

The bonfire of our time will be much larger. It will have to be. We’re much more vain.

Photo by Sidneiensis