The word patriarchy has come to mean an oppressive power structure run by men and the systematic abuse and exclusion of women. It describes the ignoble sins of men throughout history and the plight of women who have always been victims of men; patriarchy is a word synonymous with ‘injustice’ and seen exclusively through a social justice lense. Of course, beyond the historical exclusion of women in public life, even today women who are rape victims are stoned to death for adultery or burned alive as witches for possessing an ‘evil eye’. In the face of such past and present…

The next Messiah won’t be televised

In this commentary, I don’t want to indulge in any elation about the crushing of that minor tyrant in the pantheon of world historical tyrants, Donald Trump. Elation is a harmful form of delusion, and it always comes before a fall.

Instead, let us be stoics here and dare to look at the real. Firstly, we should acknowledge that Trump has had an interesting effect on the world, both negative and positive. Carl Jung might say he was a sort of trickster clown-the trickster clown being one of the oldest archetypes operating at the back of our unconscious mind. …

Recently, I published a series of short meditations on philia, one of the classical of greek forms of love/friendship, a term which means something like ‘brotherly love’. I drew on Aristotle, who said that there are three kinds of friends: the ones that are useful, those who give us pleasure, and those that orient us toward the good. Aristotle also spoke eros (passionation, erotic love), storage (deep enduring love), and agape (unconditional, divine love). Of course, none of these forms of love are separate and each inform (and form) the other.

There is another type of love/friendship relationship worth exploring…

A talk given at The European Men’s gathering in Denmark, August 2019

The Matrix

In the film Matrix, Neo is given a choice. Is he going to become the ‘new man’, and take a radical risk, which means a dangerous trip down the rabbit hole? Or will he remain in the dark, narrow, comfortable, familiar, known womb called the Matrix.

Neo is, metaphorically speaking, a Shaman in training. And the first step of his training — and our adventure here as well — begins with feeling that ‘there is something wrong with the world’. This is what the buddha called, dukkha, or dissatisfaction.

If you don’t have a sense of dissatisfaction then you might…

Originally published on Parallax ( on July 1, 2020

Jean-Jacques Rousseau got it backwards when he said ‘Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.’ On the contrary, men and women are born in a state of radical un-freedom. We come into the world attached by the umbilical cord to mother, family, and tribe — and only after a great struggle can we dream of any kind of relative freedom. Freedom could only exist in a web of responsibility, contingency, and interdependence.

When John Lennon wrote the song Imagine he was similarly off the mark. Imagine is the ultimate hymn to romanticism: that is its anthemic power…

Paul Cézanne’s ‘Nature morte de pêches et poires

Originally published at on June 11, 2020

.Now is the time to re-invent the world, to make it beautiful. We need to actually become beautiful, John Vervaeke tells us. Vervaeke isn’t speaking of aesthetic or cosmetic beauty particularly, but something more intrinsic—related to virtue and wisdom. Vervaeke uses the latin term reinventio, which means to create but also to discover the beauty of the world.

Becoming beautiful doesn’t mean becoming what Hegel sarcastically called: the beautiful soul—or the one who is overly precious, sanctimonious and refined. No, beauty also has her rough edges and provocations.

We often think of…

Beauty has become an ugly little word. Because we’ve got it all wrong.We think it is waxed bodies, engineered curves, or a youthful glow. But real beauty not, as Byung-Chul Han says in his wonderful essay Saving Beauty, a kind of smooth surface without any depth or pathos. Real beauty is something that strikes us with blows.

What is called beauty in the digital age is actually porn—an instant gratification of the senses that erases intimacy. And most of what we ingest in the digital age is porn in one way or another—including news, tv, and nature shows, it’s largely…

Awakening from The Meaning Crisis (Episodes 49,50) commentary. Concluding Remarks

Making my way through the 50 videos of ‘Awakening From The Meaning Crisis’ has been similar to reading a big fat 19th Century Novel—even if John Vervaeke’s style is much more hospitable and congenial than that of Fyodor Dostoevsky. The series is intricate, highly conceptual, but at the same time Vervaeke is on fire with dramatic urgency. I suspect most people will give up listening at around episode 20 due to the conceptual complexity of the series, but the hard core listener will be rewarded richly if he or she can make it to the end.

Awakening From The Meaning…

A short commentary on John Vervaeke’s Awakening from The Meaning Crisis (Episodes 46, 47, and 48)


In the final episodes of ‘Awakening from The Meaning Crisis’ series, John Vervaeke proposes certain ‘prophets of the meaning crisis’? But what does he mean by prophet? And who are the prophets we should listen to—as one world falls apart and we move into a brave new world with all its dystopian and utopian possibilities?

The prophet sees the kairos, which means a threshold or turning point in history. He or she is not a fortune teller or an occultist in Vervaeke’s formulation, but more like a philosopher sage. The prophet is someone who deciphers the seemingly impossible paradoxes, double-binds…

Andrew Sweeny

Compressed scraps of angel melody, stories, essays, rants against reductionism, commands from the deep.

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