Spiritual Itinerary, 1927

excerpt 1. Guidelines I begin, with these pages, the publication of some notes, or observations, or reflections, or monologues regarding our generation. The decision is not presumptuous, or unrealizable. It will be said that as long as a generation exists, it's a fluid continuity, pulsating with life and therefore with contradictions. Trying to observe its details, isolating it, establishing its features is, to say the least, unscientific. The soul of a generation is difficult to reconstitute even with the help of time and of history. Because a generation – and by generation I obviously understand the elite – cannot be singularized unless it is being tormented by a crisis of catastrophic proportions, as was the War, for example. The generations that endure minor crises – a philosophy, a religion, a political doctrine, an artistic experience – maintain their extreme mobility. At the same time, reactions, parallel or subterranean trends, contests, anticipations meet.And still, every generation has its own necessities, tortures, and ambitions, elements which make up an organism. They have to make up an organism – even with the pain of restraining some urges, of extirpating others. Contradictions are fertile, indispensable, fatal. But this – as long as they remain individual experiences. Contradictions are paths that lead to acknowledgement, to integration in the life and conscience of a generation. Under no circumstance can I make up a handbook for the million souls that search for their light, fatally gravitating to the same orbit. We manage – if only we try – to find the configuration of each generation, the neuralgic area of collective consciousness, the imperative and its means of creation. We must nor be afraid of confusions, of exaggerations. The method is safe and many contemporary minds have experienced it with unexpected results. And – because in these pages we are only interested in the rising generation – I make one last observation for this special case.Do we have the right to be objective with ourselves, to analyze ourselves, to elaborate conclusions related to our inner life? And can we do it?The answer must be decisive and vertical: only WE have this right, and only WE will manage to reach concrete and fecund results. What can the others know about our souls, about our pains and our hopes? How can we expect others, older than us, to counsel us on our way with advice and experiences which don't suit us anymore? How will we be able to remain unaware of our possibilities, letting ourselves be dragged down by life, creating at random, without knowing of one another, without searching or understanding one another, without rallying up together? Our duty, the duty of the youth, is to strive to get as deep as possible into people's souls. In this way we'll be able to find our fruitful seed. From our anxiousness and our desires and our preoccupations – we'll learn the representative values that we must defend and impose. Anticipation is thus neither dangerous, nor presumptuous. It will clarify our intuitions, and force us to cultivate, to develop and to promote in the conscience particular and fertile seeds. It will make us be ourselves. It will enlighten us. And we will fight to prove ourselves as we know we must become. "The conscience of a generation" is an abstraction, but it will live in each and every one of us. It will be a living force, concrete and filled with fruits. Spring is an abstraction, a mere concept. But we can actualize spring, we can experience it or be inebriated by its fluid, we live it, we feel it real and powerful. The real spring – only a quarter of the year. But in an enthusiastic soul, spring can be actualized, or lost, or enjoyed even in the middle of winter.That's exactly what happens with the "conscience of the generation" – which must descend from the semi-concept plane (not in its Croceian meaning ) into light, life, vital energy, organizing force, coherence, sympathy, creation in specific frames.Therefore – WE. For he who understands – we are the most blessed generation, the most promising of all that existed in this country so far. We must take into consideration only the elite.We are those who, as children, have been through tragic and diverse experience, who have known life, reflected on the faces of our parents. Some have suffered more, others have suffered less. But we have all asked ourselves questions, which hasn't been done before. The religious crisis was for us more powerful that the crisis of the previous generations. Before the war, the teenager reader of Enigmas of the Universe or of Force and Matter found himself an atheist almost without surprise. He was gliding day after day on a ground which had absolutely no connection with religious phenomena, in whose light, religion obviously appeared as madness and foolishness. Just as Debussy (Pagodes, for example) would appear in a sausage shop. We cannot condemn a teenager of former generations for "demolishing" religion with biological arguments, or with the help of the Inquisition – just as we cannot condemn an apprentice sausage maker, who answers for the meat and pepper mixture's staying the same, with or without listening Debussy's Arabesques. The confusion made before us, which is still made by university teachers as we speak – hasn't been made by us, because we have witnessed a more complete life. We have experienced situations which led us to reason, to art and mysticism. We are the first who can differentiate these from reality, and who can understand that every man has his own life and laws. Being painfully and precociously hit by life, we have become accustomed with realities unknown to others.That is why, for us, the inner life is so brutal, so diverse, so protean and tormenting. In us, the Spirit triumphs. We have understood that suffering in life is motivated – because the Spirit needs to be concrete, and living, and actualized.The Spirit – as we understand it – it is not the Hegelian one. And it is not the "ideal" of sentimental youths. It is the conscience of a life that must be lived, absorbed, educated carefully. The obsession of the spiritual values that need to be differentiated and lived and disseminated.It shouldn't be considered that we mumble this word – Spirit – like a helpless child, just because we have read it in books and have seen it mentioned in Western polemics. I will demonstrate later that we both understand and live it; and we are not intimidated either by the sufficient sarcasm of intelligent old men, or by the grown-ups' reprimands, or by the jokes of imbeciles of both sexes, or by the carelessness of those who pretend today to be our spiritual guides, or by the dry indifference of the scholars. We will prove that we know our own strength well enough to attempt to look them straight in the eye, and weigh their blows. And, because we know we are going to be met with opposition – we are not going to wait, but we'll strike first.We want the values that are not derived from political economy, nor from technology or from parliamentarism to be victorious. Pure, spiritual – absurdly spiritual – values, the values of Christianity. This will be understood later, when we will research the need for mysticism.One of the features of the rising generation will be, therefore, the critique of sufficient reason, the opposition to all post-positivist ideas that still endure in these parts. We feel and explain the necessity of the functional plurality of conscience. By differentiating the levels we understand that the shrewdest logician can be at the same time a mystic, just as he can be an avant-garde artist. Other universes, other organisms following different laws, other values and other cognitive (or experience) methods. The intersection of impulses and conceptions, the infinitely varied dosage of aptitudes and possibilities to distinguish one of the three levels, the harmonious blend of – or tragic conflict between – masculine sensuality and cerebral life: these are the ferments of personality. In my paper The Apology of Virility, which will be published abroad, you can find explanations; I cannot dwell upon this issue here.Therefore, we are the first generation tortured by the imperative of synthesis. This can be understood by meditating on the plural preoccupations that torture and delight us, especially the way in which we capitalize on and convey the cultural elements that we assimilate. We don't remain neutral recorders or inspectors. We animate and synthesize – organically, with force and intuitions born from our authentic inner self.The tendency for synthesis is a sign of our days. But we, the young, will succeed in realising the most complete synthesis, fused with personality itself, because we know and we endure; and the mystical experience – with all its ferments, and forces, and cohesion, and light they bring to the soul.After having traced these guidelines on the future soul map of the generation, the purpose of the pages to follow will be easy to understand. They are meant to take stand against the old methods; to sketch the critique of the few personalities that still hope to be our guides; and to affirm the values, the preferences, the goals. Brought on by a process of conscience, they reveal all the flaws and features of exalted truths spoken out loud, with an unflinching eye. To others, they may be faulty; to us, they are only the truth. Let us not be told that what is to be written in this Itinerary doesn't always correspond to reality, and that the "young men", even the elite ones, are not exactly as those portrayed here. The enquiry I have conducted among friends and enemies justifies all claims. And even if here and there the Itinerary surpasses reality, it is for the better. Our generation will surpass itself as well. Thus, the Itinerary will not content itself only with observations, but it will also be a handbook. Cuvântul (The Word), 3rd year, no. 897, Tuesday 6th of September 1927, pp. 1-2

by Mircea Eliade (1907-1986)