Order and Chaos: the pillars of sacred geography

1.    Philosophy of places and Geophilosophy

Order and Chaos are fundamental structures and constitute a pivotal nexus of reality as a whole. These concepts can thus be understood as consistent poles of the basic dynamic that characterizes and produces life, movement and relation themselves: without the connection between Order (the fixed, constant коород, that ensures the ontological and epistemic stability of the Unus Mundus) and Chaos (the pre-formal energetic dimension from which everything derives and toward which everything comes back, in a dynamic, dialectical and polemological process)[1] nothing could be properly understood — and even before that, nothing could appear in the domain of visibility, in the reign of the “clearing”, the Lichtung, to adopt Heideggerian language (Di Somma, 2017; Chai, 2014). As can be seen, Order and Chaos have a significant religious, symbolic and metaphysical core, which originally connotes these concepts through their cosmogonical and theological origin which is later acquired, discussed and embodied within philosophical speculation.

The geographical and geopolitical domains can also be interpreted trough the hermeneutical lens of these two concepts. What we intend to show, however, is that these archetypes are somehow especially suitable for the interpretation hereby proposed due to the fundamental sacral dimension connected to the places themselves — and this relevance of the sacred in the places5 structure makes the two archetypes fundamental for all the disciplines that study and consider places as their main analytical object. It is precisely that holy and sacred dimension that links Order and Chaos to geographical and geopolitical sciences. This thesis could astonish the contemporary reader, but it should be considered as merely the simple acknowledgement that the original relation between men and Earth, as understood by anthropology and history of religions, is mainly mythico-symbolic and spiritual. This connection takes place through the hierophany in which the sacred appears in the shape of archetypal models into concrete and empirically experienceable reality: “The manifestation of the sacred ontologically founds the world55 (Eliade, 1961, p. 21) and within archaic communities the places themselves are conceived as real, authentic, full of meaning, only when they’re pervaded by the suprasensible dimension.

This mythic-symbolic hermeneutics, which we have broadly presented and discussed elsewhere, in connection to questions of philosophy of religion (Siniscalco, 2020a) and aesthetics (Siniscalco, 2019) will be applied in this essay to the role of Order and Chaos within the interpretation of philosophy of places, sacred geography and geopolitics — different branches of a common research perspective on the Earth, the meaning of the places that constitute it, the people that inhabit it, and their power relations.

Particularly interesting in this perspective is the geophilosophical approach developed in Italy by Luisa Bonesio (2002) and Caterina Resta (2012): through their respectively peculiar philosophical interests and approaches, these two scholars have identified a common research perspective into the synthetic (and not analytic) study of geography and the morphology of places through symbolical, archetypal and ontological structures. If the term “geophilosophy” originally comes from Deleuze and Guattari (especially from the fourth chapter of Qu’est-ce que la philosophic?, published in 1991) and from the miscellaneous volume Penser ГЕигоре à ses frontiers(Agamben et al., 1992), the conceptualization of this concept acquires a different standpoint in Bonesio and Resta. In fact, for them geophilosophy means a philosophy directed towards Gaea and its secret and invisible topography. The horizon of geophilosophy is the “radical rethinking of human inhabiting on earth, rediscovering, after the drastic modern process of world standardization, the singular quality of places, which, no less than the plurality of singular existences that inhabit them, cannot be reduced to mere 'territory5 destined, in all its different forms, to the same intensive exploitation55 (Resta, 2010, p. 13).[2] [3] Places are characterized by specific and irreducible qualities that derive from a fruitful relation between nature, human culture and civilization, and the spiritual dimension. Geophilosophy does not naively presume to rediscover a dismissed (and probably never existing) 'original5 or 'pure5 nature: its 'ecological5 component is linked to a holistic approach, based on the integral and structural mixture of a plurality of levels of being.

In order to elaborate a fruitful approach to conquer this relation to the loci in a new way, it is fundamental to overcome the theoretical and practical problems that Modernity brings with it: extreme rationalism, scientific reductionism and positivism, mathematization of the world, secularism, linear and mechanical progressivism, and the ideology of unlimited economic growth (i.e. capitalism) are all negative sides of a cultural paradigm that has conceived the world either as a dead and unwilling object (with which we can have no authentic relation) or as a pure creation of a dominant subject’s will (that is the subjectivist and promethean/faustian ideology).[4] On the contrary, the pars construens of valid philosophical reflections should establish the interpretation of place as topos, as the point of convergence and recollection {Versammlung^ according to Heidegger), as the significant safekeeping of that ontological density which is particularly present in the symbol of the Axis Mundi (Eliade, 1953, § 112), in the Cross (Guénon, 2001) and in the Geviert (the TourefokT) — the Heideggerian fundamental-ontological map that names the “gathering” of earth, sky, mortals and divinities (Heidegger, 2001a; 2001b).

In all these symbolical paradigms, the poles of Order and Chaos play a significant role as an archetypical representation of the ontological and spiritual dynamical tension. This relation is also fundamental in the symbolic interpretation of the traditional symbol of the mountain, a privileged place for encountering the divine and the numinous, and a valid embodiment of the essential connection between Order and Chaos. In fact, as expressed by De Tomatis in his philosophical recognition of the existential dimension of mountaineering, only on the groundless amplitude of chaos, very real but without measure, ascending paths can be truly interpreted [...]. But this means that every singular elevation to soaring heights in archetypal, supra- celestial uniqueness, is exposed to the blind chaos of min, in the continually free ascent in suspension, opened only by the grace of the increasingly empty horizon. Only from the top the detachment from the abyss is completed, trough the contemplation of all its unfounded measure. But even just the safety of the summit, with a greater vertigo, tells us how much it is itself the true, divine abyss (2014, p. 233).

In line with Caterina Resta, we can state that place preserves and safeguards man’s stay on earth, not as a casket that holds its precious content within itself, making it inaccessible in some way, but, on the contrary, illuminating it and bringing it into that light in which only each thing will be able to unfold its essence. It is that Open that every time, everywhere, opens up a world, making it habitable space for man, in the reciprocal correspondence of heaven and earth, human and divine, at the convergence of those directions that intersect in space-time, generating Places.

The geophilosophical perspective has been summarized by Caterina Resta in her manifesto, 10 theses of Geophilosophy (1996). These ten theses, which describe how to deeply and radically rethink the relation between men and their dwelling on Earth, are the following:

  1. The assumption of nihilism as an epochal horizon

    Geophilosophy is geopolitics

  3. Geophilosophy must contribute to the process of European unification
  4. Geophilosophy is a radical philosophy
  5. Geophilosophy is a topology
  6. Geophilosophy is an idiology and an idiom

    Geophilosophy imposes a different conception of frontier, belonging and community

  8. Geophilosophy is a geo-sophia and a geography of the imaginal
  9. Geophilosophy is a thought of the heart
  10. Geophilosophy prepares the encounter between the East and West, North and South of the World

All these points are fundamental in order to understand the essence of geophilosophy and its philosophical routes. More interesting for our current research, however, are points 2, 5 and 8. They allow us to connect, confirming our research perspective, the geographical and geopolitical sciences to an ancient philosophical and sapiential heritage.

The main feature of geophilosophy is the invitation to consider places not as dead objects or representations that we are compelled to analyse only trough analytical parameters, but as vital, dynamic, concrete levels of our living world, a nexus of reality in which visible and invisible dimensions (culture and nature, but also matter and spirit, archaic archetypes and signs of the future) are always related. As a topology, geophilosophy underlines the pivotal importance of places — understood as ontologically different from landscape5, that is the aesthetic, anthropocentric, abstract and representational reproduction of the concrete and living place (a production of that modern reason that was theorized trough Cartesian speculation, the product of the disenchantment of the sacred and numinous places). This view is linked, in Heideggerian language, to a contestation of the privilege accorded by the West to History. It juxtaposes to a linear conception of time the idea of a topology as a space-time opening to the Event, understood as taking place. The happening opens, from time to time, a singular, unprecedented space of time, although always inscribed in a tradition. To understand an event means therefore to approach its taking-place, to place it not in a succession of facts but in the space of to-be opened by the event’s coming to us as an original spacing, inaugural space-time opening. Geophilosophy as a topology of having-place discovers a precious ally in Geography, especially when it takes on the 'physical’ element in its cultural innervation (Resta, 1996).

This also means rediscovering the symbolical and imaginal character of reality, the archaic knowledge that modernity seems to have hidden and forgotten, but which the advent of postmodernity, in its contradictory and dualistic structure, could re-open.[5] If we have been used to asking: “Which modernity?”, challenging the different political and cultural options and choices that have been fighting between one another in modern times, then we should nowadays ask: “Which postmodernity?” That means: Is it currently possible to build (or let be5) a 'mythic- symbolic5 and pluralistic postmodernity that recognizes a pivotal role for the symbolic dimension and its geophilosophical connections, with a new perspective on the relation between global and local, political order and metaphysical chaos, traditional structures and the impact of virtual disintermediation? Is it possible to find, in line with the Schmittian legacy, a new communitarian legitimation of the Political (1996) — generically understood as the place where decisions that influence human inter-relations take place?

In fact, within the symbol spiritual and sensitive elements appear perfectly fused in the same image. The Earth on which we live, before being legible within the paradigms of the exact sciences, [...] is the incorruptible symbol of the womb from which we come and in which we are destined to return, in the unceasing alternation of creation and destruction. It is also a symbol of extraordinary perfection and beauty, that emerges in the punctual scanning of day and night, in the succession of the seasons, in the extraordinary variety of living species, landscapes, morphologies. Geophilosophy is therefore a geo- sophia, as interrogation and contemplation of the mysterious face of the Earth, captured in its spiritual and symbolic elements (Resta, 1996).

Geophilosophy, according to Resta’s second thesis (1996), is also geopolitics. This connection had already been introduced by Massimo Cacciari in his famous texts Geo-jilosojìa dell’Europa (1994) and L’Arcipelago (1997), where the geopolitical radix of European civilization is precisely recognized within its philosophical root and destiny, based on multiplicity, pluralism and relations with the Other. Every European locus says something about this dynamic Nomos that has recently entered in crisis during the process leading to modernity. But this crisis, this dusk, reveals the essential nature of the Western as occasus or Abendland,, the 'region where the sun goes down5: willing its own dusk, Europe will decide for its very essence and will maybe find a new fruitful relation — Heidegger used to speak about the Neuer Anfang, the ‘New Beginning5 — also with the Machenschaft, the domain of the technique (the Heideggerian Gestell).

Caterina Resta (1996) explains that the up-to-dateness of geophilosophy as geopolitics is linked to the recent collapse of the Soviet Empire and the advent of a monotonie unipolar perspective (pax americana). But this international situation is nowadays collapsing, due to the emerging of a plurality of “clashes of civilization55 (Huntington, 2011) and “the disturbing return of conflicts with an ethnic, nationalistic and religious background, which accompanies the dissolution of previously imposed systems55(Resta, 1996).

Here the archetypes of Order and Chaos emerge again. Still present in the elementary qualitative constitution of places — earth, for example, embodies the structural and original quality of cosmic Order, whereas sea is an archetype of the virtuality and always changing dimension of Chaos — they clearly emerge in the power relations studied in geopolitics. In this field the realization of political institutions and sovereignties structured in ordered or chaotic elements is not a matter of fate, but depends on human decisions. The Untergang des Abendlandes (Spengler, 1991) can always open to new dawns — in fact, “what are dawn and dusk in the absolute? Human stationing markings55 (Jtinger, 2009, p. 17).

In fact, it is a matter of a decision that our time imposes on us and from which we can in no way escape. A different Nomos can order the Earth, if only we are able to fully welcome the dissolution of the ancient systems, without any more nostalgia. Schmitt’s hypothesis of large spaces, each capable, in its own sphere, of exercising a concrete order, starting from homogeneous historical and geographical units is able, for example, to provide us with useful indications in this sense. Only federative forms of this kind, based on the self-determination of people in the recognition of a common cultural horizon, can prevent the imperial idea of the great space from degenerating into an imperialist will to power. Only a plurality of large spaces is able to break the monotony of the universe, giving rise to a pluriverse in which the differences are not only tangible but must be safeguarded, none of which aspiring to total, planetary hegemony. Of course, in order for them not to conflict it is necessary to access a different conception of confrontation, force and power. Beyond any abstract declaration of the rights of abstract men, what really can and must be shared by all is the safeguarding of the common difference, which generates neither integration nor conflict, but an in-terminable confrontation and dialogue. This excludes a priori any fantasy of extermination and cancellation of the other (Resta, 1996).[6]

In this geopolitical and cultural context, directed towards multipolar and pluralistic horizons, geophilosophy “takes on the arduous task of drawing up the cartography of a forgotten and now invisible land: this terra incognita,, in order to be discovered, however, requires a drastic conversion of the gaze, without which it is destined to sink into definitive oblivion” (Resta, 2010, p. 37). Geophilosophy, in conclusion, is not only a method and a content, but also a specific requirement for an authentic — both interior and metaphysical — metanoia,, a radical inner transformation of our worldview. Through this interior process the new anthropological figure that will be the main character of the new world rising above the ruins of the previous civilization will perceive in its living flesh the polarity of Order and Chaos as the original, Heraclitean principles of reality.

2. Genius loci: where Chaos establishes Order

The qualitative, spiritual and archetypal dimension of spaces — which should define, according to the previous analysis, the new spaces structure waiting for us in the near future — is deeply connected to the concept of Genius loci. This notion, which has recently been brought to the fore by Christian Norberg-Schulz (1979) — who theorized the loss of Genius loci in modern era as a loss of memory, orientation and identification —[7] finds its origin in the ancient Latin civilization: according to a famous definition by Servius, “Nullus enim locus sine genio est (Servius, 1965).[8] This numen, or spirit, which protects a place is precisely the Genius loci, that is a divine companion and defender of the quality and interior essence of a place. Every locus (or topos) guarantees through its Genius the existence and safeguarding of the transcendent immanence that finds different manifestations in different places. Thus “in classical, Greek and Roman mythology, the genius loci designates the 'spirit5 that animates and supports, protecting it, a particular place inhabited by human beings who, following and carrying out the rites essential to the sacralisation of the space chosen for the foundation of the village (or the city) that will become their stable home, have somehow recognized the power of this spirit and have invoked its favour and protection55 (Luppi, 2020, p. 487).

The Latin Genius is also deeply connected to the Greek Daimon (5aipcov), the numinous figure that anticipates in itself the Hellenic horizon: this was a minor God that used to inhabit sacred places but also human souls (it is a famous anecdote that Socrates used to pay attention to his inner Daimon). The philosopher Plotinus (203/205-270 d.C.), whose work was collected by his disciple Porphyry into the Enneads, also believed in the existence of an Anima Mundi that proceeds as an emanation from the Unum (the metaphysical principle). Plotinus also thought that individuals souls were part of the Soul of the world and that this Anima Mundi was available in every place. But not every place is characterized by the same hierophany of the Soul of the World.

There is thus a strict correspondence between a place and its own Genius loci. According to Dugin (2020a), we should understand Genius loci as the whole relation — thus beyond subject-object dichotomy — of man and God happening in place. The place inhabited by the Genius is a place open to the Ereignis, the eschatological event in which the Being (Sein) relates itself to the man (Dasein). This integral and holistic dimension — which can be found, with different names and definitions, in all human civilizations —[9] allows us to underline that a sacred topology is another way of philosophically comprehending the essence of spaces, beyond modern secularism and naive positivism. In this connection, wherever in sacred place the human and the spiritual subjectivities enter into relation, the figures of Order and Chaos also manifest themselves as poles of this original, at the same time eternal and dynamic, exchange. The Chaos is the energetic and primeval power that gives life to the place and that is mastered by the Genius loci. Thus, according to Dugin (2020a), “the very concept of %àoq (chaos) was originally related from an etymological point of view to the empty space. Chaos is in fact an empty space between heaven and earth. It is a transitory state of space, until it has become a place, that is, for instance, a place for the spirit. Therefore, the spirits of the place are the guardians of chaos, they organize it, transforming the void into full” (p. 368). But man also has chaos within himself, and therefore aspires to reach the spirit of the place (Genius loci) as interior balance and the metaphysical centre. The place inhabited by the Genius loci is somehow reminiscent of the Axis Mundi, the symbolic Centre of the World.

Genius loci becomes visible and present when the numinous dimension dwelling into the place trough rites, sacrifices, liturgy and mystical experiences, becomes stronger and takes possession of the human subject along the path of inner search. In this phenomenon the relation between subject, Genius loci and place go beyond any dualism and realizes the foundation of a new Order, in which the chaotic dimension can be seen as the core "engine5 of the process.

The individual relation between men and Genius loci also has a communitarian counterpart. According to Mircea Eliade “one of the outstanding characteristics of traditional societies is the opposition that they assume between their inhabited territory and the unknown and indeterminate space that surrounds it. The former is the world (more precisely, our world), the cosmos; everything outside is no longer a cosmos but a sort of "other world5, a foreign, chaotic space, peopled by ghosts, demons, "foreigners555 (1961, p. 29). In this very specific perspective the founding of the village (town, or city) attributes a sacral meaning to the space trough the recognition of the Genius loci and its sovereignty over Chaos. In fact “if every inhabited territory is a cosmos, this is precisely because it was first consecrated, because, in one way or another, it is the work of the gods or is in communication with the world of the gods. The world (that is, our world) is a universe within which the sacred has already manifested itself’ (Eliade, 1961, p. 30). Genius loci can be thus symbolically understood also as Genius terrae, within which the spiritual pole of the Genius is taken into account in relation with the telluric and elementary dimension of Gaea, considered as sacred place par excellence. As we have elsewhere underlined:

The Genius terrae can be understood as a hermeneutic key to decrypt the epochal upheavals of the current postmodern age. According to the Jiingerian legacy, we can affirm that today we’re facing a process of inversion of the Weltgeschichte — the history of the post-Herodotian world, linearly understood in the Oedipal sense (history reduced to technical mechanisms, dominated by ‘planetarization’, to employ a Heideggerian notion) —, in Erdgeschichte, the history of the earth conceived from an organical and metamorphic point of view, i.e. the qualitative history crossed by mythical-symbolic forms, analogical and archetypal structures. We are witnessing, in parallel, the emergence — often confused and partial — of the domination of the ‘underground’, that dimension removed from Western Enlightenment and rationalist culture, which spreads either on a plane of axial verticality (the summit: the archetypal and noetic dimension) or in the telluric depth (the abyss: the subrational and demonic dimension). In this context, Genius loci can suggest a radical discussion of the Earth question — primarily considered on a symbolic and hermeneutic level, which can also acquire interesting repercussions on a political, geopolitical, even economical side (Siniscalco,2020b, p. 800). 

Profane cultures have considered the original relation between Order and Chaos within the sacral space of Genius loci as a superstitious interpretation by religious consciousness. Thus, this spiritual interpretation of relation between transcendence and immanence has been transformed, especially through Cartesian dualism and the 17th century Scientific Revolution, in a kind of mechanical, deterministic and causal relation. Thanks to utilitarianism and the development of modern technique, places have been understood as pure 'containers’ of riches, material profit and energy. Yet, the already considered shift to the postmodern era can open new perspectives into the thick and dense “fissures in the Great Wall” of modernity (applying to postmodernity the famous image proposed by Guénon [2004, pp. 172-176]). By working into the increasing of these slits, new spaces for the defence of Genius loci (Sciortino, 2020) will be reopened.

3.   Sacred geography and the path to Geopolitics

Order and Chaos can also be considered the fundamental pillars of sacred geography, which is the symbolic and esoteric interpretation of the essence of spaces. “Not all the loci are obviously the same. The concrete space is not homogeneous, or isotropic (like Cartesian space): sacred geography is based precisely on a map of the most full or sacred places, to which the adjective genialis or daimonios is eminently appropriate” (Cuniberto, 2017, p. 266). The perspective of sacred geography could be considered as the archetypal view on spaces that anticipates and properly founds the already analysed philosophy of spaces. Genius loci is a pivotal character of this mythic- symbolic perception of spaces. It is a perspective that is testified by the already quoted René Guénon: “There are places particularly suited to serve as 'support5 for the action of 'spiritual influences5, and on this fact has always been based the establishment of certain traditional 'centers5, whether principal or secondary, the oracles of antiquity and the places of pilgrimage furnishing the most outwardly apparent examples of such 'centers555 (2004, p. 134).

Sacred space is not always three-dimensional and areal. Stoddard (1987) argues that sacred points and lines, as well as areas, are significant components of the geography of sacred spaces. Believers recognise that sacred areas are endowed with divine meaning, which separates them qualitatively from secular or profane places. Migration patterns to such sacred areas (as in pilgrimage) are influenced more by spiritual than practical objectives, so that cost- or distance-minimisation are less important than the very fact of getting there or being there (Park, 2003, p. 251).

This ancient awareness survived in Christian civilization and on its spiritual map, made of monasteries, churches, significant ritual places and pilgrimages towards them: it is significant that the first geographers were theologians and missionaries — on which point scholars speak of “ecclesiastical geography55 (Park, 2003, pp. 9-10) and “Biblical geography55 (Park, 2003, pp. 11- 12).

Even today, in the secular age, spiritual centres have not ceased to exist. But we are not able to recognize them anymore, it is just the communication between modern men and the subtle spiritual domain that has been reduced to a minimum. This is basically a matter of faculty of perception.

An important contribution to the contemporary reconstruction of sacred geography comes from Alexander Dugin’s research. Dugin’s awareness that territory is deeply connected with history, cultural, philosophy, semantics, is reflected in the Neo-Eurasianist comprehension and interpretation of the cosmos. It is, according to Dugin, a place of spiritual Order in which all levels of reality are interconnected. “The Eurasianist cosmos is permeated with subtle trajectories traversed by fiery, eternal ideas and winged meanings. Reading these trajectories, revealing them out of concealment, and extracting complex meanings out of the corporeal plasma of disparate facts and phenomena is the task of humanity” (Dugin, 2020b). This means that the essence of place is not only material, but strictly archetypal and symbolic: “For the Eurasianists, the cosmos is an inner notion. It is revealed not through expansion, but rather, or on the contrary, through immersion deep within it, through concentration on the hidden aspects of the reality given here and now” (Dugin, 2020b). Through this doctrine, which is not conveyed as an abstract ideology, but as a pragmatic and concrete way to experience reality, men can perceive in the world its sacred dimension. Every people, according to their traditions, master a different interpretation of the sacred pillars of spaces. The Russian Cosmos, for example, is understood as a pluriversum in which the identity of the holy, sacred Russia is the primary dynamic energy, understood as relation between Russian territory (seen as Hearthland, Land of civilization) and Russian man. As we have considered analysing the figure of Genius loci, the experience of hidden dimension of places reveals a post- or extra- dualistic dimension, where subject and object, matter and spirit, are the same.

Thus, the very notion of Eurasia encompasses the idea of a synthesis of East and West, Europe and Asia, that point where the antagonistic forces of sacred geography can and must find balance. In conjunction with sacred geography and Neo-Platonic topology (in the spirit of Proclus’ commentaries on the story of Atlantis from Plato’s Critias and Republic) geopolitics assigns the 'Russian world’ and 'Russian cosmos’ yet another dimension: Russia is not simply one world among others, but is that world which is destined to become the most important space of world history where historical antitheses clash and the fate of humanity reaches its culmination (Dugin, 2020b).

At the same time, however, the Russian pluriversum is part of the universal (but not universalis tic) pluriversum, where all cultures can find and express their own identity. This is not a modern relativistic perspective, instead it is the discovery of a fundamental process at the core of reality, which we could define as 'ontological perspectivism’. Many traditions and many gnoseological approaches to reality exist on the same, horizontal level. But this fascinating difference hides a deep, ontological unity (Siniscalco, 2020c): every Kultur,; going deep into its own cosmos, can near the common — hidden, 'apophatic’ — true subject and object as such. In other words, the Russian becomes an all-human to the extent that he is more and more Russian, and not vice versa, without losing his Russianness in exchange for something formal and externally borrowed from other peoples and cultures. The same can be said of any representative of any other cosmos. But the presence of this supra-cosmic unity cannot be a known given. It must be experienced in practice. One must traverse the whole path. One could hope that at the end of one’s path to themselves in their cosmic roots, a person will reach the common core of humanity, that is the matrix of the cosmos as such, its secret center. But this cannot be claimed in advance. Moreover, it would be a mistake to substitute the concrete experience of one culture with putting it up in advance as something common to all and universal (Dugin, 2020b).

If we consider the visible and clear aspect of culture (Kultur) as the concrete manifestation of the celestial Order on the Earth, we are allowed to consider the “hidden, ‘apophatic’” core of sacred geography as the chaotic pole, the magmatic metaphysical dimension from which Order acquires its own foundation.

Dugin’s pragmatic idea of the sacred allows the conclusion that “only those who have reached the heart of their cosmos can issue a weighty, solid judgement regarding the universal” (Dugin, 2020b). This kind of “cosmic pluralism”, embodied in traditional sacred geography, can still be reactivated by a process inverse to the famous modem attempt to “disenchant the world”, as Max Weber wished. It is, on the contrary, necessary to “re-enchant the world”, fighting Western colonization not just in its political and economic roots, but especially in its powerful capability to condition and influence the collective imaginary.

This opportunity has recently been developed in Italy by the geopolitical analyst and researcher Daniele Perra, whose latest publication (2020) is explicitly devoted to finding the language of sacred geography at the origin and foundation — or at least the archetypal paradigm — of modem geopolitics. By considering, following the Traditionalist school, that modem profane sciences are just traces of ancient traditional sciences,[10] Perra finds that this process operates in the geopolitical domain as well: in fact at its core it is possible to recognize “a profound residual impact of the archetypes of sacred geography, settled in the collective imagination, which determines the very structure of geopolitical thought” (2020, p. 10). Among them we can consider the poles of Order and Chaos. They appear in so many mythologies, images and narratives concerning all the populations around the world that is not possible here to present even a synthesis of the religious and symbolical role of these concepts. However, we can state that they appear at least on two main hermeneutical levels: the deepest one, from a metaphysical and esoteric point of view, is the already considered ontological unity that all the traditions recognise as the main feature of the metaphysical Origin. In this dimension all the opposites dissolve in the coincidentia oppositorum (coincidence of opposites), in the Unum. In this domain we can consider Order and Chaos as two sides of the Same: Chaos is the magmatic and generative dark side that manifests itself through the clarity and formal structures of the cosmic Order. Then, on the second hermeneutical level, traditional cultures usually define themselves and the spaces that their political regimes inhabit as kingdoms of Order, understood as political and secular embodiments of metaphysical principles, as opposed to the negative powers of Chaos as dis-order, often linked to moral corruption, cultural and religious decadence - Modernity. If the first hermeneutical level counts in the metaphysical and esoteric experience, the latter prevails in the philosophy of history and the phenomenology of cultural processes.

From both perspectives geopolitics inherits a style of description and expression based on a modernized interpretation of spatial symbolism. Such significant concepts as East and West, North and South, Land and Sea, borders and territorial expansion, pole, centre, Empire have a broad religious and symbolic background.

From a traditional perspective we could consider, for example, the geography of the West as the symbolic embodiment of decadence (the 'sundown5 of spirituality and culture), whereas the East is the territory where the sun arises (Ex Oriente lux), where gods and the sacred always manifest themselves. In this analysis the West overlaps with Chaos (Devil, decadence), the East coincides with the Order (Good, Tradition). This paradigm inevitably affect — although most of the time in an unconscious way — current geopolitics, which still remain under the influence of that sacred geography that includes the Neo-Platonic topology, according to which everything has a specific ontological meaning and position, a structure and a metaphysical reason, and which is under attack by rationalism and modernism.

Furthermore geopolitics reflects on the relevant connection between populations, political structures and territories. To avoid a strict deterministic interpretation (the origin and evolution of a specific culture or religion exclusively depends upon its geographical setting) does not mean ignoring the deep link between these poles. Sacred geography should thus be understood as an attempt to overcome epistemological dualism: subject and object, human and nature, geo- and politics are perceived at its centre on the same level. Again, the poles of Order and Chaos appear as a declination of those balanced metaphysical principles which, for example, Chinese cosmology has developed trough the concepts of Yin and Yang.

The importance of these concepts has survived into contemporary geopolitics. Referring to the two hermeneutical levels considered before, we can state that usually it is the latter to be mostly applied in its secularized form within geopolitics. Order is mainly understood as a positive political arrangement or pattern with an internal (national) and external (international relations) side. In geopolitics the opposite of order is disorder, i.e. an unsteady situation of political international relations. Disorder is not a strict synonym of Chaos, but has similar qualities. Hence why political scientists usually associate disorder and chaos as long as they are used to describe the same destabilized situation. The attempt to create geopolitical order and the intention to determine international destabilization are two opposite but sometimes convergent political and diplomatic tendencies.

Within geopolitics Order means also 'political model5 or 'paradigm5. In recent history three main models have existed: bipolarity (during the Cold War); unipolarity (the USA order after USSR collapse); multipolarity (the current and still emerging international framework).

According to Dugin’s theory of multipolarity (2019), it is possible to deduce that multipolarity is the geopolitical model that is most suitable — because of its intrinsic pluralism — to a rediscovery of the sacred dimension of places. If we recall the main points hitherto discussed, this conclusion appears quite logical and evident: multipolarity allows for perceiving international relations as plural and multidimensional; different traditions and civilizations are considered as simultaneously coexistent, dignified and politically relevant; the Genius loci of every territory can come back and acquire a public recognizable status; multipolarity is thus more than a Western values-based multilateralism and it does not limit itself to the recognition of the role of modern nations, which are considered as contingent historical states that the current trend will likely eradicate by restoring, through the constitution of huge continental spaces (Grofiraume, according to Carl Schmitt) of integration, the ancient idea of Empire; civilizations come back onto the stage of history, as pointed out also by Huntington (2011) - history is not finished at all. In Dugin’s perspective the concept of multipolarity has both a phenomenological and programmatic value: it describes a state of affairs that the scholar sees more and more becoming true, on the basis of the power relations established between the international actors involved, but at the same time defines a desirable and fruitful scenario, the acceleration of which is a primary task for those interested in regaining the sovereignty of peoples through the integration of large spaces, where the clash of civilisations could be substituted by a dialogue of civilisations. 

By going through a period of international Chaos, a new counter-hegemonic and multipolar Order will be established: it will be the reign, revising Machiavelli’s famous expression, of "the plurality of the Prince” (Dugin, 2019, pp. 191-197). In these horizons, the notion of Chaos acquires a new and positive meaning, concerning the dynamic structure of the multipolar Order, where the balance of poles can always change, opening to the pivotal role of history and political decisions: "There is always a time, for every civilization in the multipolar world, when great decisions must be made. And each time the decision-making principle can theoretically fluctuate from one segment of civilization to another. This greatly complicates the structure of international law [...]. But, at the same time, it releases the full inner natural force (potestas), the element of historical existence [...]. Here, the concept of 'chaos of international relations5, also present in the classic paradigms, is quite appropriate and relevant55 (Dugin, 2019, pp. 199-200). The Russian geopolitical analyst Leonid Savin has also understood the importance of Order and Chaos as fundamental pillars of current international affairs. In his recent "contribution to the development of the theory of multipolarity55 (2020, p. 3) Savin considers through a great amount of references to academic literature the different scenarios which scholars imagine as concretely possible in a 'post-American future5. The end of the recent 'Pax Americana5could basically create either a new hegemonic unipolar world order, dominated by a reformed US or by a new power (such as China), or a chaotic Order, characterized by a living and dynamic multilateralism, by a polycentric and pluralistic asset, in which different poles of civilizations could make alliances or fight together developing a new kind of multipolar globalization. This latter option, which according to Savin and his various sources is the most probable one, needs a significant intervention of Great Politics in order not to leave the world in a state of complete disorder: the tough and rigorous deconstruction of the modern Western rationalistic paradigm calls for a simultaneous elaboration of a 'balanced pluralism5, devoted to giving Order to Chaos and establishing an international relations structure in order to avoid a permanent state of conflicts. A source of inspiration could come from the economic-materialist concept elaborated by Marx and Schumpeter and defined as "creative destruction55(Savin, 2020, p. 75): 'nonpolarity5 is a theoretical abstract framework that does not correspond to reality, which always assumes a polarized structure, in which every disruption is linked to new reconstructions. Chaos and Order are always connected. Pure Chaos is a fake hypothesis in geopolitical scenarios; the question is: how much disorder can the current framework accept and balance in a constructive way? Multipolarity seems to be the most realistic choice for a concrete pluralistic and polycentric geopolitical paradigm. Furthermore, according to Amaya Querejazu, "taking the pluriverse as an ontological starting point, implies not simply tolerating difference, but actually understanding that reality is constituted not only by many worlds, but by many kinds of worlds, many ontologies, many ways of being in the world, many ways of knowing reality55 (2016, p. 3).

Multipolarity itself presents many risks and dangers. Referring to John Mearsheimer5s multipolarity analysis (2014), Savin distinguishes between "unbalanced multipolarity55 (a multipolar system with potential hegemony) and "balanced multipolarity55 (an asymmetric multipolar system without hegemony): the latter is the more desirable one, although we should always remember that "multi-polarity often created an unstable and unpredictable world, characterized by shifting alliances and by the aspiration of the rising powers to change the balance of power and create a new order” (Savin, 2020, p. 80).

However, as has already been pointed out by Alexander Dugin, multipolarity seems to be the ideal geopolitical paradigm to allow for the plurality of traditions, metaphysics and archetypes to manifest themselves in the contemporary age. Savin shows that the concept of polycentricity and pluriversality (2020, pp. 125-148) have also been developed outside of Western culture, with the elaboration of really interesting models that directly derive from different traditional cultures. Significant is, for example, the Chinese contribution to the theory and practice of multipolarity (duojihua in Chinese) that has been already expressed in the five principles that constituted the basis of the 1945 treaty with India: “1. Mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty 2. Non-aggression 3. Non-interference in internal affairs 4. Equality and mutual benefit 5. Peaceful coexistence” (Savin, 2020, p. 85).

The confrontation with different cultural paradigms and symbolical representations is very fruitful in order to rethink the global pluriversum in a more complex and shareable way. We have to take into account that “the world each being inhabits is populated by entities (persons, objects, theories, practices) that are ontologically configured in processes of choosing and decisions that produce the establishment of reference frameworks that people use to situate themselves in the world. Accordingly, these reference frameworks are very different to a person in the Amazon than to a person raised in a Western city” (Querejazu, 2016, p. 5). In this postmodern scenario, according to Savin, it will be easier to take in consideration the “principles of the sacred division of space” (2020, p. 185), giving new recognition to the metaphysical and mythico-symbolic role of Order and Chaos. 

Our brief itinerary through different approaches to the deep and symbolic meaning of spaces — philosophy of spaces, sacred geography, geopolitics — is of course not exhaustive. It was understood as a synthetic and incomplete presentation of different but converging perspectives directed to show the deep correlations between archaic and current elements within the contemporary comprehension of topology. Our research has particularly intended to underline the significant role of Order and Chaos as pivotal elements of an integral hermeneutics which could be fruitfully developed in the future for both theoretical and pragmatic purposes. In the end, “it is clear that a multipolar and pluriversal political geography must be devoted to the cause of returning the numerous spaces of our planet to their true ontological status” (Savin, 2020, p. 186).


[1]  Chaos, conceived in this Greek and ontological dimension (Mutti, 2013), is not at all homologue of that “nothing” that has became the protagonist of the speculative reflections of the 20th century within the debate around Nihilism. It is furthermore about the generative and original dimension that comes before all the visible and phenomenological forms of reality. Also the Eastern wisdom embodies this ancient metaphysical knowledge, in which Chaos can be understood as openness, pluralism and spiritual fecundity. Also as void, according to Buddhism. “The void — Andrei Plesu summarizes — is, for the oriental thinkers, the imperiously necessary condition for the world to be habitable. Consciousness must reach it to be inhabited, when the moment comes, by enlightenment. Talking about the emptiness of the world does not mean talking about its relativity, but about its extreme availability” (2018, pp. 166-67). The void is, in conclusion, “an infinite possibility, the universality that nourishes every manifestation” (p. 170).

[2]  The translation of all the Italian sources quoted in the essay is due to the author.

[3]  On the discussion about the etymological origin of the latin word locus see the different interpretations of Cuniberto (2017, pp. 264-267) and Dugin (2020a, p. 358).

[4] The promethean/faustian ideology as the distinctive character of modern anthropology is a broadly spread concept (among others: Jiinger, 1993; Baumann, 2013). This thesis, that seems to be accepted by the great part of the 20th century Western philosophers, is in reality coloured in a more complex and pluralistic way, also in the thinkers that have critically considered the question of technique — such as Ernst Jiinger, Oswald Spengler, Martin Heidegger, etc. Technique is a problem and a risk, but also an historical opportunity for a new civilization. This y>M<9-technical attitude, that Resta and Bonesio’s reflections try to fight, is deepen and appreciated also in some conservative-revolutionary, transhumanist and neofuturist authors, such as Locchi (1982), Faye (2010), Campa (2010) and Jorjani (2020). See also the great synthesis proposed on this issue by Boco (2009).

[5] In this discourse we consider postmodernity as the era where the phenomenological framework elaborated by postmodernism is became reality. And postmodernism “is basically a revolt against the rationality of modernism [...] which searches for universal truth and meaning, usually through some kind of metadiscourse or metanarrative [...]. In practice, postmodernism has taken the form of a revolt against the too-rigid conventions of existing method and language” (Dear, 1988, p. 265).

[6] Resta defines this anthropological (but also ethical and political) perspective, available in a pluriversal and multipolar world of human and political relations, “hospitality policy” (vs “hostility politics”) referring both to Lévinas and Derrida (Resta, 2010, pp. 17-18).

[7]  Similarly, Heidegger had spoken about Entortung as that process of delocalization and eradication that Schmitt has understood as the destruction of the Nomos of the Earth — linked to the division between the Order (<Ordnung) and the Location (Ortung) (Bonesio, 2000; Luppi, 2020).

[8] “There is no place without Genius”. An interesting commentary to this sentence is proposed by Bevilacqua (2010, pp. 11-16).

[9]  The presence of subtle worlds in the experience of all the cultures allow us to identify a “religious ecology” that depends on the recognition of the veneration of nature as holy site of spirits (and more broadly divine forces) (Park, 2003, pp. 246-249).

[10]  Similarly Schmitt affirmed that “all significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts” (1988, p. 36). We could therefore consider geopolitics as a “secularized theology” (Mutti, 2019). This idea is convergent with the famous Mircea Eliade’s thesis (1963, pp. 162-193) that the entire modern culture is crossed by an hiding of the sacred into the profane shape, but also with the more recent thesis that “religious beliefs, for most believers, are not just theories. They offer codes of moral behaviour that provide a guide for action and a particular lifestyle. This is [...] the latent function of religion (it provides a socially cohesive force), in contrast to its manifest function (of explaining that which is outside humankind and mysterious to it). Even many recently secularised societies preserve features of past religious traditions, and it is often rather difficult to determine where religious factors end and secular ones begin” (Park, 2003, p. 42).

[11] We’ve tried, when it was possible, to use and quote the English editions of the considered authors. In the other cases we’ve referred to the original version of the sources. In very few cases, to the ones we had the opportunity to examine.


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