My new book, an advent offer, and some gift ideas
Today isn’t really the beginning of advent, at least not in my tradition. In the Orthodox Church, we began advent - a word which, in the original Latin, adventus, means ‘the coming’ - on the 15th of November. We have been fasting since that date, and will do until Christmas Day.
It’s not until you throw yourself into the Liturgical Year with gusto, and really practice the traditional Christian cycle of fasting followed by feasting, that you understand the function of a ritual year; how it deepens you and opens up the pattern of the world before you. Then you notice how we in the modern world have abolished the fasting and doubled down on the feasting, in all areas of life. This was because we wanted to be happy. We got rid of the bit that felt like effort and self-denial and extended the bit that felt like fun and self-indulgence. Now we are encouraged to feast all year and not fast at all - unless, of course, we are concerned about our ‘body image’. This gives us lots of stuff, all the time. There are no limits! Hurray! And yet, mysteriously, we do not seem to be happier.
It’s almost as if modernity has got human nature entirely wrong.
Anyway: though today is not the beginning of Orthodox advent, in the Western tradition, or what’s left of it, advent does begin this weekend. Since I am a Western Orthodox, I give myself permission to take the best of both traditions, and so here I am, celebrating the sort-of beginning of the season with some news, a reader offer, and a few suggestions for those of you who are still wondering what to buy your friends for Christmas.
Against The Machine: the book
Since I finished my two-year essay series on the rise and triumph of The Machine this summer, a lot of readers have asked me if and when I am going to turn them into a book. I now have an answer. I’ve recently accepted an offer from Thesis in the US, an imprint of Penguin, to bring out the essays in book form. The working title is Against the Machine.
It will be a while before this hits the shelves: for a start I am going to have to spend the next few months turning my Substack essays into something that looks like a book. But I’m excited about this, and very happy to be able to turn these impermanent pixels into real ink on real paper. I’ll be keeping my readers updated as the process unfurls, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to make some kind of offer to my subscribers here when the thing is published. After all, you helped me to write it.
I don’t yet have a publisher for the book in Britain or in any non-English speaking countries, but I’m hoping this will be on the cards too. If any publishers happen to be reading and would like to help make this happen, please do drop my agent a line.
An Advent Offer
Since we’re now officially in the Christmas season, it’s time to point out that a subscription to this Substack would be the ideal present for any blackpilled, moderno-sceptical, neo-Luddite, Christian-curious, reactionary radical friends or relatives who have a fascination with obscure holy wells. I’m sure there are plenty of these people around. If you know any, why not avail of this shameless commercial offer:
From now until Christmas Day, I’ve reduced the price of an annual subscription to the Abbey by 15%.
To take advantage of this offer, you can just press this little button:
Some gift ideas
While I’m here, I want to plug a few other gift ideas, in the form of writers who I think deserve to be better read, none of whom are bribing me to recommend them:
Ventriloquise is a new collection of poetry by Ned Denny, whose work I’ve only recently discovered. If there’s such a thing as modern traditionalist poetry, this is it. It’s perfectly formed, and is published by a fairly mainstream British poetry press, which itself is a miracle. This book gave me some hope for contemporary British poetry, which is quite an achievement.
County Line Notes is a Substack written by a man I met in America last month, Andy Hickman. Andy not only has a properly interesting life story, but also has a unique way with words and a particular vision. I think he’s some kind of modern day breadline mystic from the other side of the tracks. You should subscribe to his Substack and help support his work.
Another Substack I recommend is Heavy Things Done Lightly, by John Heers, which presents the worldview of modernity/the Machine/the West in a way that unpacks it with a fresh eye, and is fun to read.
Finally, for those of you who, on reading my laments about Machine World, ask ‘but what can we actually do?’ I will again recommend School of the Unconformed, the Substack run by Ruth Gaskovski and her husband Peco, who also writes Pilgrims in the Machine. It’s full of practical advice for parents, families, homeschoolers and individuals who want to live a life as unshaped by the Machine as possible.
And an obituary …
Just as I was finishing this up, news rolled in that Shane McGowan has died. This will just add to an already mournful week in Ireland. If you don’t know The Pogues, now is the time for you to start. Their enormously famous Christmas song Fairytale of New York will doubtless be (over)played even more than usual this year now. But for my money, and facing stiff competition, this is their very best song. Pray for old Shane as you sing along: