Reviewer: Philip Hartley, “Each Arrow Overshot His Head.” Berchtesgaden Review of Books, Vol. 1, No. 1, May-June 2012
It is an unseasonably warm day in March. I sit with Fahy under an awning of an Italian restaurant in Poughkeepsie, NY a handful of blocks from the edge of the Hudson River. Overhead, a bald eagle tucks in its wings and aims for the horizon like a missile. Several minutes pass before Fahy and I speak again about practical matters. He is thinner than I remember and his hair longer, but the lightning flashing in his eyes is unchanged. I have made the trip to talk about his novel Orchard Park, which although popular in Germany, remains obscure in North America.
In person and in writing, Tom Fahy is openly hostile to Christianity and this has made Orchard Park’s analysis difficult for liberals and conservatives alike. Although Fahy’s weltanschauung proscribes implicitly superstitious systems of belief, it does not discount counter-universalist systems of belief uninterested in spiritual devirilization. The cult that recurs throughout Orchard Park is referred to as Baldrist; that is, one adheres to the tenets of ‘Baldrism,’ after fair Baldr, a Norse god and second son of Odin. Baldrism, simply stated, opposes Christianization of the soul, and seeks to reinvent the soul of Western man in the image of his ancestors, initiating him through intimative prose. “The initiated reader,” Fahy says while shaking his empty coffee cup at a passing waitress, “is a blood-brother and –sister, a good Celt, intuitive, a natural seer, soulful, and intellectually racinated.”
In the context of Orchard Park, Baldr and Baldrism are the integral expressions of Fahy’s creation, ‘Transcendental Fascism,’ which is first and foremost an idea, as opposed to a pure political initiative. “Transcendental Fascism takes advantage of the innate individualistic tendencies in its members, and in its first phase is necessarily leaderless,” says Fahy. “It is requisite, then, that each member abide by an enduring survival instinct, never resort to half-measures, and aspire always to the cause of essentialism. The primacy of Essence is all-important to a Transcendental Fascist, but the Essence of a man’s soul should not be conflated with the essence of mere things, the existence of which is not, in my opinion, worth debating.”
If not an attempt to create a new religion, Orchard Park, in a very practical sense, serves a regenerative purpose, drawing out of ancient pyres ideas-of-old which contrast starkly with those of the over-civilized present, reemphasizing the eminence of Nature to which at all times the overzealous intellect is subservient. Orchard Park itself is a peripheral township undergoing general resorption into the landscape at the end of an Age; cyclicity is represented by urban decay and that decay is celebrated, and often defended, from renewal. “A perennial Struggle was concluded in the twentieth century—a struggle against general degeneration. It was not a winnable struggle, but it was a noble one; it is in the nature of heroic men to challenge the Fates, to thwart intellectual falsity…but at the end of an Age, the valiant among men are granted a reprieve from the Struggle. They withdraw from the cities into the country, while the metropolis’ are turned into worlds of ice and mist.”
And like the perennial ‘Struggle’ to which Fahy referred, our interview was thus concluded.