This afternoon, I completed the purchase of several acres of land. The land will be known as Waldgang, after Ernst Jünger’s book Der Waldgang, which has been translated as “The Forest Passage.” This land will serve as the spiritual and cultural home in the Cascadia bioregion for the tribe I belong to, the Wolves of Vinland.
I’m feeling lucky and thankful to everyone who has supported my work. I was able to pay with this land with proceeds from my writing and my “self-sponsoring” apparel business, Brutal Company. I’ve been more successful than I ever expected to be over the past couple of years, and I could have put the money down on a respectable house for myself or some kind of flashy ride, but that’s not what I care about most. I’m alive in the world and I want to live and take and consume like every other living thing — without apology — but more than that, I want to create something “real” worth remembering.
When I was young and in art school, I was inspired by Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle. (see trailer here) Barney somehow talked his sponsors into bankrolling a series of feature-length films, without plots or narrative (or even dialog, for the most part). Each film was a series of quasi-mythic vignettes, featuring elaborately thought out, designed and constructed props, sets and special effects. I attended art museum screenings of several of the films — I remember sitting in special bleachers designed by Barney for one of them. The Cremaster project was mind-bogglingly complex, esoteric and undeniably brilliant, but in the end it was merely an objet d’art. Its disjointed myths and elaborately orchestrated experiences weren’t central to anyone’s lives or identities, except maybe the artist. They were spectacles presented in the visual language of myth to a profane and detached audience. They were beautiful and impressive, but ultimately insincere.
When I first visited the Wolves at their — now, our — Virginia land, named Ulfheim, like many others I was amazed that a place like that exists in the world. A place where pagan rituals of blood and ash really take place without irony, a place where men fight and drink and play music, in an environment that seems completely out of time — somehow “eternal.” A place where myth was alive. When I went there I wanted to be part of it, and through a progression of events that feels more like destiny than “life-planning,” I found myself in a position where I have the opportunity to build a connected space according to my own vision, with the help of a group of men who have become my closest and most trusted friends. A place for our “we,” our “us,” our “people,” our “tribe,” our Männerbund.
I don’t write as much as I used to, and I stopped commenting regularly on “the news.” A man I used to know often said that “politics is social gossip.” He said that if you couldn’t, using all of your personal power, get the President or whomever to change the color of his tie, your opinion didn’t much matter to him. I didn’t believe it then, but I do now. Most of the world is beyond our control. But even right now, with the world as it is, we have the power to create and inhabit to some extent a social world that we actually want to live in. We still live in times of relative prosperity, and we can either spend that wealth on bullshit to make ourselves feel better about how shitty we think everything is, to make ourselves feel special, or use our time and toil and profit to create something that actually is special. Maybe it only lasts for a moment or a few hours or a few years, but make it something worth remembering, worth talking about more than that politician who doesn’t care enough about your opinion to change his tie.
So, know that when you support my work or buy things from my company, you are contributing to the creation of something different, something special, a place out of time. And I hope that my words and my example inspire you to create that for yourself and your own tribe in some way.
Recently, I was talking with John Mosby from Mountain Guerrilla, and he casually mentioned that the collapse of empire is always a time for ethnogenesis. A few years ago, people were saying that we’ve reached “The End of History” but I believe that we’ve reached the beginning of a thousand new histories — and it is truly an exciting time to be alive.
Waldgang has plenty of trees, but that’s not why I’m calling it the “forest passage.” In old Iceland, Jünger wrote, “A forest passage followed a banishment; through this action a man declared his will to self-affirmation from his own resources.” The forest passage represents a different state of mind, a spiritual revolt, a primal kernel of freedom and creative life energy, a transcendent oasis in the monocultural, mechanized desert of modernity — of the Empire of Nothing. The forest passage is an idea, a sacred mental space where men transform their souls and reaffirm their identities — a mythic axis around which the truth of their entire world spins. My aim is for Waldgang to become the physical manifestation of that sacred internal space. My brothers and I will be building structures and spaces and religious objects — not for gallery patrons, but for us, with total sincerity, shared with the outside world to inspire others and spread the dream of a different way to live. My hope is that one day, not too long from now, someone will set foot on the land and say to himself , as I once did, “I can’t believe this place exists.”