For a long time now he had been living in an egalitarian society, which is to say living in a block of ice.
Taken from the book itself, such is an apt description of the predicament of the titular protagonist in Tito Perdue’s 2017 novel, Philip.
First appearing in an earlier novel, Morning Crafts (Arktos, 2012), the mononymous Philip was then a bespectacled adolescent wunderkind and rival with fellow student, Leland Pefley (a central figure in Perdue’s oeuvre).
Now, at age 32, Philip lives and works in New York City and has for some years. Dapper, handsome, and gentlemanly, he delights the ladies and disarms his male co-workers with his easy Southern charm and quick and clever but harmless bon mots.
With the exception of a fine wardrobe, Philip allows himself very few nice things, almost to the point of asceticism (he doesn’t even own a bed and sleeps on his couch), preferring the metaphysical over the merely physical.
A rain lover, and a lover of the recondite, “the linguist,” as the narrator sometimes refers to him, enjoys his ombrophiliac comforts at the whim of the gods while pursuing his private studies in “the verbal sciences, in language and thought, not to mention philosophy, philology, physical bibliography and, he liked to claim, German lexicography especially.”
Philip is morbidly fascinated by all the rot of New York, that “most execrable of cities,” and sometimes amuses himself by strolling about Manhattan with easel, pencils, and sketch pad, sketching the people, scenery, and objects he observes. His observations, with or without his art things at hand, tend toward the negative:
The days were growing longer and the nights concomitantly short. Nor did he find the slightest suggestion of rain anywhere in the sky. He paced hurriedly for about two blocks before diverging into a tavern and then jumping right back out again when he saw the place was crowded with homosexual queers…the automobiles, as numberless as always, were especially testy today in this headquarters of the world’s most concentrated wealth. It was the most fortunate, most sophisticated and most tolerant locale-he tried not to laugh, failing-most tolerant and just plain best place anywhere. It smelled of fumes and burnt rubber, and there was a drunk sitting in the gutter. But what displeased him most of all was the vision of a disproportionate number of unambiguous negroes dressed in suits. Already mistreated by history, these people had recently been dislodged from their parallel society and thrown willy-nilly into direct competition with White people.
Or, after a typically unpleasant encounter with a third world cabbie:
He did so loathe them, Philip, these stunted people, Jews and Mongols and Latin Americans of all description, each new lawyer superimposed upon those already here. How he longed for Georgia or Alabama, where houses were made of candy and looked out upon actual horizons!
On one such outing, after a date, in a newly-discovered “rather tiny bookshop,” that keeps late hours, he encounters his former classmate and rival Leland “Lee” Pefley. They were both gunning for the same rare edition of a Giordano Bruno tome when they recognized each other. Neither knew the other was living in New York.
Over dark beer the two catch up and the conversation soon turns to hypothetical plans for a grand hierarchical society ruled by a tiny number of anonymous austere geniuses avowed to poverty.
A closet elitist and inveterate solitary at heart, Philip is obliged to shift for himself at a crass-if tolerable-corporate office job. But when his boss insists Philip’s new job description is to baby-sit the company’s newest affirmative action hire, he refuses and quits.
Now without an income but with some savings, Philip exits New York and, his spirit and mind ever-ripening, embarks on a journey across the American countryside on a southerly course: a physical journey which also becomes a personal and racial existential quest.
Philip, a man of the mind, lives internally, introspectively. He’s an introvert who’s become expert-in order to survive-at faking gregariousness. Up to a point. Almost a mystic, and immune to romantic love, he would have made a good medieval eremitic scholar of some secret order.
In this novel, Perdue, a metaphysical writer, implicitly presents a practical question: One wonders how many Philips there are in enemy-occupied White North America; meaning those who know what we know but show little or no outward indication of it.
One could contrast Philip’s quiet detestation of-and eventual escape from-the degenerate, White-hating, post-modern urban world around him with the career of another of Perdue’s fictional personages:
In the author’s book, Rueben (Washington Summit Publishers, 2014), the title character-though himself brilliant-is an implacable man of action who literally takes over half the world-the Northern Hemisphere-by employing, among other tactics, threats of, and actual, physical punishment (Bigly).
It’s likely there are untold considerable numbers of racially aware erudite loners in metropolises. Men like Philip. But there must be many more men of average intelligence who are instinctively aware: White flight-driven family men in suburbs (and even exurbs and small towns) with their wives and children kept awake in their beds listening as the jungle thumping and crime screams get a little closer and a little louder every evening. Perhaps they feel helpless. Have they made themselves so?
The threat of the Dammerung, the twilight, or, as Philip puts it, “the gloaming,” of Western Civilization is gathering. But is it inevitable?