Always the Horizon - A Review

“Why are we still here? Just to suffer?” is a question asked by many these days. And though we may ask it in jest at times, playing at yet another absurdity of modern life, its sentiment still rings true to all of us. When did things go so wrong? Can’t we just start over? Why even bother? Why?

It is a question that would not be out of place in the world of Always the Horizon, the debut novella by Murdoch of Murdoch Murdoch. A gloomy world, wrapped in a miasma of darkness, ever-enveloping the twilight of European civilization. A world between life and death, fantasy and fiction, philosophy and deed, it houses the remnants of a once-great people. It is a world that wants to be saved, but is condemned to decline, no matter the hero’s strength. It is something that must be overcome.

This is the world our hero finds himself in. He is not a typical hero, not a knight in shining armor, for how could such a man overcome the world to which he has sworn his oaths of loyalty? Instead, we are presented with a rogue, known throughout the book as the Sacred Clown. Cunning, yet not all-knowing, he has become wise through a lifetime of experience. He knows this world and its pitfalls. And though he is part of the dying world, he is not beholden to it.

The court jester is an archetype, known for speaking truth to power. Murdoch’s Sacred Clown is no exception to this rule – in fact, he is almost constantly elaborating on his world-view, its origins and intricacies. There is one curiosity however: the Sacred Clown is not travelling alone. He is accompanied by a silent companion, known only as the Rider. And although our Sacred Clown is anything but mute in the face of enemies and strangers met along the way, most of his words are directed at the Rider. We, the readers, are this Rider. The Sacred Clown is speaking his truth to us, to the power hidden within all of us.

What is that truth? Without spoiling too much, it is fair to say that Murdoch continues to build upon an existing concept – that of Europeans and Aryans as an expression of creation’s desire to know and understand itself. Fans of Murdoch Murdoch will already be familiar with this idea from Guardians of the Rune and other episodes. Yet Always the Horizon goes above and beyond this concept by linking it to the Nietzschean theme of eternal recurrence and the cyclical nature of reality itself. Contentment cannot – must not – ever be in our reach. The only thing truly worth striving for is eternally out of reach, continuously causing us to grow and expand the bounds of an ever more complex reality. Hence we have no choice but to assume the role of the rider, the eternal seeker. And though we may leave our crumbling cities behind, abandoning them to the darkness, it is not a flight, but rather a scouting ahead. To find new grounds for our people, giving new forms to the very essence that animates them. This is our fate. And as the ancients taught us through their great epics, fate is something that should not be evaded, for the consequences of such actions are dire.

These are just a few of the lessons given to us by the Sacred Clown. Let us ride on.

Stylistically speaking, Always the Horizon is most definitely in a category of its own. Murdoch Murdoch fans will find themselves reminded of the trademark Murdoch monologue, most commonly featured in the closing segments of their longer works. Expect a flood of references to history, philosophy, popular as well as fringe imageboard culture. Expect critiques of the dissident discourse woven into the narrative. Expect a grand mix of (ever so slightly stilted) eloquence and deep honesty. This is a text worthy of the imageboard culture it sprang from, as weird as that may sound to the uninitiated.

Trying to compare Always the Horizon to other works of literature, one inevitably draws a blank. Personally, I was reminded of a curious mixture between Bronze Age Mindset, Thus spake Zarathustra and Wagner’s Ring Cycle. But where Bronze Age Mindset is aloof and sarcastic, Always the Horizon is empathetic and authentic. Where Nietzsche’s Zarathustra prances around in mental gymnastics, Murdoch’s Sacred Clown is fighting for his mere survival, both physically and spiritually. And rather than extolling an eternal circle of death and rebirth in the manner of Wagner and the Eddic verses, Murdoch is looking beyond, towards an expanding horizon and the transcendence hidden within it. I can honestly say that Always the Horizon is unlike any book I have ever read. Dispensing with many rules and conventions of popular literature, it may at times seem a little disconcerting to the uninitiated reader. I urge you to push through this impulse. For hidden within this book lies something that no style guide or editor could ever provide: a vital spark, of life, genius and that mysterious yearning that unites us as sons and daughters of Europa.

It is said that you can give a man a why and he will bear any how. Always the Horizon has given us that why.

Theodor Runen
December 31, 2021