Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thursday Morning Metaphysical Rant

Hello. This isn't part of the rant. Rather, the rant is now over, and I am now identifying it as one. A Get off my celestial lawn! moment, you might say. Getting stuff off my chest, AKA externalizing the fourth chakra. Venting the nonlocal spleen. Perhaps I should do it more often. After all, it's only how I really feel:

This should not be a controversial statement, but a first principle of any intelligent human being -- or a human being who endeavors to exercise his intelligence to the fullest: "Man by definition is a center, or 'the center' in a given universe" (Schuon).

Let's leave other hypothetical universes to the side, and restrict ourselves to this one. In this cosmos man is central, which is to say, Pontifex Maximus: not so much the Bridge Builder as the bridge itself.

Which we must simultaneously build. Irreducible orthoparadox, you see. How to put it... We are the bridge we construct in order to get from here to there. Not a horizontal there but a vertical one. In short, man is a vertical bridge, or a bridge of verticality to the father shore.

Better yet, just look at the caption of the icon in the sidebar: Your life is a path for the Spirit to pass from periphery to center. Thoughts and choices -- truth and virtue -- are the paving stones. To which I would add beauty, each integrated with and reflecting the others.

Anticipating objections, if man is not central, who or what is? Is there a greater being we might consult, one who "contains" us or puts us in context?

Well, yes and no. Of course there are men who are greater than we are, but they are men nevertheless. To the extent that they are greater, it is because they are more central, more integrated, more actualized. They do not belong to a different species, although it sometimes seems that way. They are like men, only better. Others are like men, only worse. There are always two possible perspectives on the worstovus: subhuman? Or all too human?

Which highlights the verticality of it all. In the absence of verticality there is no better or worse, just the multicultural relativistic mush of the left. I don't mind that they don't believe in superior people and civilizations, only that they want to outlaw them (even while privileging the worst).

We're getting a little far afield, but verticality and centrality are two sides of the same reality. In a purely horizontal universe, it would of course be absurd to suggest that man -- or anything else -- is central. Therefore, the materialist is correct that there is no center in the context of materialism. But once the materialist makes such a universal statement, he has actually left materialism behind and has placed himself at the center of creation in spite of himsoph (or sophistry, to be exact).

Now we see that verticality and centrality have something to do with universality. I'm just going to throw all my cards on the table and say that these three in turn relate to eternity, infinitude, personhood, and the Absolute Subject, AKA God. None of these categories can stand alone -- which is why it is strictly impossible to be a consistent atheist, but that is a slightly different argument. Let's stay focused on this scattershot rant.

The Absolute Subject is the only conceivable principle that ties the cosmos together. Put conversely, remove or deny the A.S. and everything falls apart: we are well and truly banished to the periphery. Not even the periphery, because that presumes a center. Unending alienation in an abyss of blind nothingness -- like being stuck in a liberal university forever, with no possibility of graduation. Or an eternal waiting room with CNN droning in the background. There are no words. Only a bone-rattling cry of existential pain from abdomen to larynx to void:

But there are words, and here again, words not only connect us to the center, but are its emanation. Not for nothing does man get to name the animals. Why? Well, for starters because they are relative to us, as periphery is to center. Note that (maybe) the most degrading effect of metaphysical Darwinism is to invert this reality, and to render man relative to the beasts! Which simply cannot be.

Think about it, genius: to even say the word "Darwinism" is to have transcended Darwinism. In so doing, you have placed yourself at the center of creation, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it, short of giving yourself a lobotomy and eating your neighbor. If you're an agglomeration of selfish genes, start acting like it, hypocrite! Don't partake of the detritus of Christian civilization while pretending your withered soul can subsist on the holy communion of sacred matter.

It's like the cult of Global Warming: I'll believe it when beachfront property is worth as much as a mobile home in Death Valley. Likewise, I'll believe in metaphysical Darwinism when liberals start behaving like uncivilized beasts.

Right. Let me put that in a different way.

Obviously the barbarians of the left place themselves at the center, but in the manner of the infant, who is also the center of the universe. Most of my readers probably have children, or at least were once children themselves. It is right and proper that we nourish the delusions of His Majesty the Baby, and treat him as the center of the world. We do this so he can eventually outgrow the delusion, and see that each person is a representative of the same center.

Two errors: deny him this delusion, or indulge it to excess, and the baby will spend the rest of his life in search of the Lost Entitlement. You will have created a monster. In other words, a liberal.

Bottom line for today:

"God became man that man might become God": the absolute Subject, perfect in Itself, descended into contingency so that contingency could be reintegrated into the perfection of the absolute Subject. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life": Christ identifies himself with the divine Subjectivity, which "is incarnated" in the world of contingency, in conformity with the saving tendency of the Sovereign Good....

God is intrinsically "I"; He is "He" only extrinsically and from man's vantage point.... God is the only and perfect Subject and His intent is to reintegrate the multiple and imperfect subjects...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Metaphysical Dunning-Kruger & the Elephant in the Cosmos

The other day I saw a headline on Drudge to the effect that American children are more anxious than ever. I have no idea if this is true, but I believe it. But first we have to define our terms.

Now, anxiety as such is prima facie evidence of an un- or even disintegrated mind. However, one must first determine whether the lack of integration is a cause or an effect.

For example, one may have a hormonal disturbance that causes a lack of psychic integration, which then causes anxiety. Or, think of someone with incipient Alzheimer's disease: as the mind begins to unravel, the person will start to experience anxiety, persecution, and even paranoia.

This is quite different from a primary diagnosis of anxiety. Which is also very different from normal and even necessary anxiety. Frankly, most people aren't nearly anxious enough. Or, they are anxious about the wrong things. Think of the anti-Trump hysterics. They are certainly anxious and definitely in need of treatment. But not for the Trump hysteria. Rather, they need to find out what the Trump hysteria is concealing.

We've all had that One Great Teacher, right? My own esteemed Professor Worthwhile once said... I actually have my old lecture notes hidden away somewhere, so I bet I could find the exact reference.

In any event, he said that with an anxious patient, always assume (once purely biochemical causes are ruled out) there is something in their life they're Not Paying Attention To. The anxiety is a consequence of the Elephant in the Room which they are ignoring, avoiding, repressing, or otherwise pretending doesn't exist. It is the Thing that isn't integrated but needs to be.

Some of the biggest things can't be integrated, so they require the most pretending. For example, Death. Wait. Is this true? That Death can't be integrated? Just this morning, while randomly bumping around the internet, I was reading of Lou Reed's death:

I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou's as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn't afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life -- so beautiful, painful and dazzling -- does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.

For Christians, Jesus is meant to be the final cure for death anxiety, such that death is swallowed by life instead of vice versa. We'll return to this idea -- or real-idea -- later.

For the moment, let's play with this notion that anxiety and integration are inversely related. A rock, for example, is completely integrated and therefore has no anxiety. But it's easy to be integrated if you're a rock, for what is there to integrate? The reason why man is the most anxious critter in all of creation is that he has the most to integrate. Loose ends everywhere!

Indeed, man's very reason for being is the integration of everything. It's our privilege and our burden. That's what you call a Tall Order, but it is nevertheless the case, and everyone knows it, even if most pretend otherwise. Despite the pretense, it is the Prime Directive (or at least one dimension of it).

Alert readers will have noticed a zinger by Thomas Aquinas at the top of the comment box: Since a soul can know all things, in a way it is all things, and thus it is possible for the completeness of the universe to exist in one thing.

This is just another way of saying that man is in the image of the Creator, who is the Complete Person. Absent the Complete Person, no completeness of any kind would be conceivable, much less attainable, on our end. The very idea of the cosmic area rug would be a childish dream.

That's the good news. The bad news is that we are driven by a kind of anxiety until we fulfill our reason for being. Which can be accomplished in various ways, but not without God's help. For one thing, just imagine the futility of pretending a perfect integration that excludes God. Talk about ignoring the elephant in the cosmos!

Revelation is here to assure that every soul can attain this integration, regardless of various terrestrial contingencies -- existential, cultural, historical, etc. Nevertheless, unlike God, we are always trailed by shadows of the nothingness from which we were gratuitously plucked. That would be the ultimate source of our anxiety. IMO.

White makes this very point in The Light of Christ:

[T]he human being is created toward or unto the image of God because this image is not only static but ultimately dynamic.... [T]he human being remains the summit of the visible creation and can become more profoundly so only if he develops a more dynamic, perfect relationship toward God.

However. I want to say: insert Fall here. In other words, all the Trouble is located right here, in the literally infinite space between man and God. Call it what you will, but there is room here aplenty for every kind of mischief. Or just say History.

Gosh. It's one of those mornings that I have much more to say than the ability to say it. I'm trying to wrap my mind around something that is quite obviously larger than myself, but you can't swallow an elephant in one bite. Perhaps if I had all day. In this circumstance I have but one option.

Help, Mr. Schuon, help!

"Knowledge is total or integral to the extent that its object is the most essential and thus the most real" (emphasis mine).

This most essential and real object is none other than the Elephant in -- and beyond -- the Cosmos. When we say "everything is relative," what we mean is that everything is relative to this Elephant, without which there would be no relativity at all, just a kind of absolute mush. A left with no right.

Intelligence gives rise to "the awareness of our superiority in relation to those who do not know how to discern" (discernment between the real and unreal being the function of intelligence).

However, one of the first fruits of this intelligence is awareness of the relativity of our superiority, in that it is either relative to the Elephant, or it is Nothing at All (except for maybe the anxiety of being permanently sealed in total ignorance and futility).

And of course, many people are far too stupid or ignorant to understand how stupid or ignorant they are. Metaphysical Dunning Kruger is a real thing.

Here is our omega for today, which will be tomorrow's alpha: "The human vocation is to realize that which is man's reason for being: a projection of God, and therefore a bridge between earth and Heaven."

There is degree of anxiety so long as we are suspended on this rickety bridge called life.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dirty Harvey and the Image of God

We are in the midst of a discussion of the human telos, which, if I am not mistaken, has something to do with Harvey Weinstein.

Why Dirty Harvey? Because even liberals seem to understand that he is a poor example of humanness. That being the case, something must have gone wrong in his development; something must have prevented him from being the Harvey God intended him to be.

Again, the two operative words are integration and actualization. And as usual, as soon as I start thinking about a subject, books fall into my hands that relate to the same subject. I wonder about that: is it just because my preoccupations are so vague and universal that everything speaks to them? In that case, what looks like synchronicity is just inevitability in disguise.

I don't know. We can never see beneath the veil on this side of the rug. But I just started reading a seemingly unrelated book that has an awful lot about integration -- specifically, the metacosmic integration made possible by Christ. Indeed, if Christ is who believers say he is, then he is in principle the last word in both integration and actualization. Or first and last, which is to say, archetype and fulfillment.

Now, man must love and will the good; indeed, willing the good is a function of loving it, which "completes or perfects the human being teleologically." We must also love truth, such that real knowledge is another form of teleological completion or perfection.

In any event, we can see that what we "must do" -- i.e., what is necessary for man -- is very much a function of our purpose. Because there are things that we cannot not be, there are things we should not fail to know and do.

The "Catholic intellectual vocation," says White, calls its practitioners "to be people of a holistic integrity." Off the top of my head, this may be what most distinguishes us from the animals: they too should be integrated, but they can never attain a holistic integration.

A dog, for example, may achieve a perfect integration with its archetype, and thus be honored by the Westminster Kennel Club. But a dog is nevertheless enclosed in its archetype. There is nothing holistic about it, in the sense of being ordered to, and integrated with, the Whole.

Not so with man. Why? Because our archetype is ultimately the Godman, being that we were created in the Image and Likeness of the Absolute.

In this context, "microcosmos" is too confining a word. "Micro-theos" is more like it, so long as we don't misunderstand the implications. Dirty Harvey, for example, certainly pretended to be a "micro-god." Big difference. Still, we need to know why it is so different, and why his approach is intrinsically deviant, i.e., what one mustn't do.

"Every facet of our life needs to come progressively into the light of Christ," so that "we may live in a more truly human and divine way," the one being a reflection of the other:

When human beings are integrated morally, intellectually, and spiritually, their intellectual concerns and their moral patterns of life cohere. Their artistic sense and their capacity for self-giving are united. Their forms of recreation and rest are in harmony with their sense of worship and commitment. Their relationships of human love are deeply related to their aspiration to divine love (emphases mine).

What this really amounts to is an integration that is both vertical and horizontal; or better, horizontality integrated with verticality. Horizontality inevitably involves an element of contingency. Indeed, if there were no verticality then man would be condemned to either a pure horizontal contingency or an unyielding determinism. Only our verticality lifts us from these twin hells. Transcendence is always there amidst our immanence.

But it is not enough for man to merely be free; rather, freedom in the absence of a telos is just nihilism by another name. Dirty Harvey's worldly power made him "free" to engage in all sorts of intrinsic transgressions. And don't think for one moment that thousands of other reptilian Hollywood denizens don't want to be just like Harvey! They just don't want to get caught, that's all.

For example, in this morning's jolt, Jim Geraghty writes that

For decades, the stars and powerful players of Hollywood instructed us about which political candidates deserved election. They told us which causes were worthy of support and which ones needed to be opposed. In their works and in their speeches, they told us how to be a better person.

(!)

That's the key: our moral superiors in Hollywood don't just tell us whom to vote for and what policies to support, but how to be better human beings. And you cannot presume to know what is better without an implicit standard of what is best, i.e., without a telos. What -- or who -- is their telos? They don't really ever say, but it's usually someone who is Really Brave, by which they mean someone who Stands Up to Republicans and all they represent. In short, someone like Dirty Harvey, who is a bully for the left, which absolves the rest of his bullying. Or did, until a week ago.

But real integration -- and therefore integrity -- is "rare in the world today, where we are constantly confronted with stories about morally divided lives.... De-Christianization leads to re-paganization. We begin to serve multiple gods and suffer the division [read: dis-integration] of our selves. Without the grace of Christ, the integration of the human person is made more difficult, and even on many levels impossible" (emphasis mine).

I think you can look at this in two ways: yes, without the grace of Christ, integration on many levels is impossible. But you can turn it around, such that "integration of many levels" is the grace of Christ, precisely. That such integration is even possible, let alone actualized, is nothing less than the Trinity in action, call it what you will.

For In the Beginning are the uncreated Persons of the Trinity. It is that ultimate harmony of which we are the image and likeness.

I don't mean to leave you hanging, but that's as far as I've gotten in the book. However, I'm also rereading Schuon's Roots of the Human Condition, which not only complements the above, but provides an even deeper... integration.

The title provides a hint, doesn't it? Roots of the human condition. You might say that our task herebelow is to trace the latter up into the former, i.e., to scamper up that venerable Tree with Roots Aloft and Branches Down Below.

Example. Okay,

To know, to will, to love: this is man's whole nature and consequently it is his whole vocation and duty. To know totally, to will freely, to love nobly; or in other words: to know the Absolute..., to will what is demanded of us by virtue of this knowledge; and to love both the true and the good, and that which maintains them here below; thus to love the beautiful which leads to them.

That's a tall order, but is it really? Eh, I don't think so. Seems like the bare minimum. Indeed, it should "come naturally" (or supernaturally naturally, to be precise) to us, just as eating grass comes naturally to an herbivore. In order for it to not come naturally, something must get in the way. What could that be? Who or what is trying to prevent us from being ourselves, i.e., from actualization of our archetype and integration with our telos? More on that later. Because we're outta time.

Let's just say that Reality -- ultimate Reality -- is not actually that complicated. Rather, we are. Also the world, what with its crosscurrents of turbulence, contingency, karma, fluctuation, relativity, finitude, and other people. The Conspiracy.

Nevertheless.

"Intelligence is the perception of a reality," which is ultimately rooted in "the perception of the Real as such" (emphasis mine). Because we can know, Reality Is; but this still doesn't go far enough. For Being Is, and Being is a communion of Persons characterized by love, truth, and beauty. And we are not other than That.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Intelligent Stupidity and Well Adjusted Insanity of the Left

The infrequency of posting over the past week isn't due to an absence of ideas or inspiration -- AKA coonstipation -- just lack of time.

The irregularity does, however, make the continuity of logorrhea more of a challenge -- like going back to sleep and trying to resume the dream one was having. I can do that sometimes. Just not after a week.

What was the dream? Something about how to tell if conservative liberals are no better than illiberal leftists who use politics as a way to manage their psyche (mainly by projecting hatred and other impulses and emotions into conservatives). Although it's always best to deal with left wing arguments on the merits (in a face-to-face setting), this doesn't mean we can't afterwards examine leftism on a deeper level and laugh behind their backs.

As we've discussed in the past, leftism is a collective psychological defense rooted in primitive mechanisms such as denial, splitting, projection, delusion, fantasy, acting out, and even hallucination (what else to call it when someone looks at our president and sincerely "sees" a racist, or Russian spy, or anti-Semite?).

What I mean is that, if I'm having a conversation with a leftist, I don't just tell him to his face that he's crazy, or a retard, or needs to grow up. That would be rude. Nor do I like to play the Psychologist Card, because that is one of the tricks of the left. However, it doesn't mean that privately I don't regard the ineducable leftist as more in need of psychotherapy than dialectic.

In this regard, we want to do the opposite of the left, in that they dismiss conservative arguments by simply attacking our motives -- for example, we are opposed to affirmative action because we are White Supremacists, or don't accept AGW hysteria because we Hate Science. Much progress could be made in "healing our divisions" if the left would simply deal with our arguments on the merits instead of habitually accusing us of that which they are unconsciously guilty.

People who condemn imaginary motives may or may not be correct on this or that policy, but they are certainly immature, and immaturity is never the answer (and soon becomes the problem).

For example, a group of emotionally stunted liberals may "believe in free speech" as much as you or I. But this doesn't for one moment prevent them from violently prohibiting opinions they don't like, because of the nature of splitting. Splitting is a defense mechanism that allows one to simultaneously believe two opposite theses without any cognitive dissonance, or even any real awareness that one is being illogical.

To back up a bit, you might say that mature defense mechanisms are rooted in a horizontal division between the conscious and unconscious mind, whereas primitive defense mechanisms are a result of vertical splits that extend from the conscious into the unconscious. We've all heard of "multiple personality disorder," which is simply an extreme case of vertical splitting, in which the sub-personalities are autonomous and split off from one another.

But this is simply an extreme case of a much more common and mundane phenomenon. It's what humans do. Think, for example, of all the Hollywood feminists who, until a few days ago, loved Harvey Weinstein (HT American Digest). Now, if your mind is whole and integrated, then it is impossible to simultaneously "respect women" and "love Harvey." But with splitting, all things are possible!

Think of it: how can you detest Christopher Columbus, even while your public detestation is an outgrowth of the European values he brought to this erstwhile bleeding-edge world of Stone Age barbarism? Or, how can Black Lives matter to you, when your movement will result in thousands more blacks being murdered by other blacks?

Indeed, how can you protest the very flag that symbolizes the sacred right to petition government for the redress of grievances? Go ahead! Petition away! But why do so in a way that severs the limb you're protesting on? Granted, these protesters may well be borderline retarded. But that is no excuse for being crazy. Plenty of people with IQs lower than 85 are capable of understanding principles. Children certainly are (emotionally healthy children, I mean).

The other day it occurred to me that there are two main kinds of liberal: there are those who are susceptible to correction (as indeed was I), and those who are absolutely fixed in their beliefs -- who cannot benefit from any amount of fact, logic, information, or experience, no matter how brutal the mugging.

So, what explains the difference? It is certainly not a function of intelligence, or there would be no intelligent leftists such as Noam Chomsky, nor the stampeding herd of tenured lemmings more generally. Chomsky may be a genius for all I know, but this does nothing to prevent him from being a malignant retard. How is this possible?

Well, if the concept of vertical splitting didn't exist, then we'd have to invent something like it to explain someone like Chomsky. In a well-worn analogy, think of the mind as a wristwatch. We can observe the movement of the hands and changing of the date, but we have no idea why the actions are taking place. The best we can do is propose a theory that explains the phenomena. But we can never actually observe the causes beneath the phenomena, for subjectivity by definition cannot be objectified.

In this context, the concept of splitting is a way to imagine how a person can harbor mutually contradictory ideas. How, for example, is it possible for a Catholic to be a leftist? In (mere) reality it isn't possible, but that hardly prevents it from happening. Examples abound: Nancy Pelosi. Ted Kennedy. Joe Biden. Pope Francis.

You may argue that these people aren't mentally ill. Okay. But how exactly do you define mental illness? Mental illness, in my opinion, cannot be defined socially: for example, a well-adjusted, conflict-free Nazi or native American cannibal who fits in well with all the other Nazis and cannibals is nevertheless sick. But by what standard?

Ironically, psychology cannot answer the question, because it long ago drained the multicultural Koolaid to the dregs, so Who Are We To Judge? In this inverted world, judgment and discrimination based upon objective and universal standards is evil, such that the healthy person is rendered sick. Nice trick!

There is a bill in California that will make it against the law -- punishable even by prison -- to Misgender someone. In other words (to paraphrase Ace of Spades) it will be a crime for us to properly gender someone who misgenders himself.

As we've discussed before, there is rebellion and there is inversion, the latter far more pernicious than the former. The modern left has gone all-in for inversion -- for things that cannot be and mustn't be, the former going to ontology, the latter to morality; and if your ontology is wrong, then your conscience will follow.

Now, back to our definition of mental health. I dwelled on this question in the bʘʘK, but only after about two seconds of cogitation. In other words, the answer just popped into my head, but even so, I've never come up with a better one since then.

Two words: integration. And actualization. Despite the brevity, these are full of implications. Take the first, for example: the cure for the splitting described above is integration. And what is the cure for immaturity more generally? Well, immaturity presupposes maturity, maturity presupposes a developmental telos, and a telos presupposes an objective end of humanness, AKA actualization of an archetype.

So, what is this objective end? Note that the left would dismiss the question as either meaningless or pernicious. We'll pick up the thread tomorrow. If I wake up early enough. If not, then Friday.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Help Wanted: External Enemy, Must be Existential Threat

We'll start with some arresting passages from Who Are We?, until one engages my blogging gear and we take off from there. Maybe we can even find their hidden unity and wrap them all together.

National interests derive from national identity. We have to know who we are before we can know what our interests are.

Historically, the emergence of nation states in Europe was the result of several centuries of recurring wars.... [But] in one estimate only seven of one hundred and ten wars between 1989 and 1999 were not civil wars. War is now more often the breaker of states than the maker of states.

The notions of nation, national identity, and national interest may be losing relevance and usefulness. If this is the case, the question becomes: What, if anything, will replace them and what does that mean for the United States?

Historical experience and sociological analysis show that the absence of an external "other" is likely to undermine unity and breed divisions within a society.

"You" and "I" become a "we" when "they" appears...

To define themselves, people need an other. Do they also need an enemy? Some people clearly do. "Oh, how wonderful it is to hate," said Joseph Goebbels.

Humans, Freud argued, have only two types of instincts, "those which seek to preserve and unite... and those which seek to destroy and kill." Both are essential and they operate in conjunction with each other. Hence, "there is no use in trying to get rid of men's aggressive inclinations."

"A part of being human," as a committee of psychiatrists put it, "has always been the search for an enemy to embody temporarily or permanently disavowed aspects of ourselves."

BING! This I think goes to the essence of the left: they simply cannot exist without projecting disavowed aspects of themselves into conservatives. We aren't the violent ones, obviously. We don't riot when we don't get our way. We don't burn down our cities. We don't use violence to suppress contrary opinions on college campuses.

The other day I read that fifty percent of the crime (or maybe it was the shootings) in this country occurs in two percent of the counties -- and you can be sure they aren't red counties. Without looking, I would bet they are Democrat strongholds that have been run by Democrats for decades.

Let's be honest. In other words, let's indulge in a thoughtcrime, which is to say, unvarnished truth. We don't need gun control. Rather, we need to prevent people who cannot even control themselves from controlling guns. Who might these people be? Who and where are these people who are incapable of governing themselves? They are not evenly distributed. Not remotely. If not for certain violence-prone subgroups, America would have the crime rate of Tonga.

In any event, you always know what a leftist is thinking, because it consists of what he accuses conservatives of thinking. In short, his imputations and accusations are just his own impulses and emotions experienced by proxy.

Think of, say, Keith Olbermann. It is difficult to imagine a person more unhinged with fascist-level rage. But we are the fascists. Right. Isn't it obvious that he is simply managing the content of his own disturbed mind via imaginary others? What is MSNBC but a kind of mental therapy for liberals in need of projected enemies? Lawrence O'Donnell? I've never been close to that angry in my life, over anything. What would be the point? It doesn't help solve the problem.

It all comes back to, as Bion put it, the problem of thoughts and what to do with them. Yes, they're a problem, and our whole life consists of managing them. I am reminded of the man who, on his death bed, lamented that his life had been full of troubles, the great majority of which never happened.

Think of the SJW. Whether male or female, her life is FULL of troubles: racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, patriarchy, white privilege, etc. There can be no peace of mind in such a psyche, ever. Rather, her life takes place amidst a swarm of imaginary threats and enemies.

But don't even try to relieve her of this burden, because without it, she will be left to her own buzzing hive of envy, hatred, and persecution. A paranoid deprived of enemies is literally reduced to psychosis; in order to heal, the person must own these psychic fragments and rebuild a coherent sense of self without projecting them into others.

In developmental terms, it is called transitioning from the paranoid-schizoid to the depressive position. It is very difficult to achieve this with a single patient. Impossible when dealing with millions of them, especially when their delusions are reinforced and rewarded by the dominant cultural establishment. And when sanity is positively punished.

Which it always is: for you will be persecuted for my sake. If you are not being persecuted, then you're doing it wrong. Ah ha! How then is this different from the way the leftist feels persecuted by his imaginary demons? That's a very good question. I'll come back to it.

In any event, for all practical purposes, the best one can hope is to manage what amounts to a psychotic core in such a way that it doesn't cause too much destruction. Not for nothing is politics called the organization of hatreds.

Like anyone short of a saint, I have a Greedy and Acquisitive side that cannot be satisfied. I don't try to completely stifle it, nor do I project it into my ideological enemies. But I don't let it wreck my life, or detract from my Infinite Satisfaction for the Gift of the Moment.

Rather, I let it blow off a little steam by, for example, collecting CDs. Or, I let my aggression out by hating the San Francisco Giants. Or, this weekend it will be the Arizona Dirtbags. Who knows, maybe John McCain will be in the stands, so I can double my enmity. But it's all harmless. Like the way dogs play by enacting their aggressive instincts. Except I really do detest John McCain. But I don't want him dead. I just want him to go away.

Which is one of the main sociological purposes of sport: I HATE YOUR GUTS HA HA HA! Which is why it is so distressing -- and depressing -- for the genuine haters of the left to inject their unmanageable rage into our fantasy space. The point is to pretend we're at war, not to actually foment civil strife.

Back to the question of how to tell if you are no different from an SJW who uses the political space to manage her psyche. It's too vast a subject to cover in the remaining time. It's really another way of asking, What are the characteristics of objective psychological maturity? I'll try to tackle this tomorrow....

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

You Had One Job, Assoul

Man has one job. Or three, rather: know truth. Cultivate virtue, AKA do good. Create and love beauty (or at least refrain from making the culture even uglier).

Each of these is related, so it's really a one-in-three situation. The rightly ordered soul loves truth, wants to do good, and is repelled by ugliness. Or, truth is the virtue of the intellect, virtue the beauty of action, and beauty the truth of creativity.

Before we proceed any further, let me say that this is an off-the-cuff meditation on evil -- the sort of evil carried out in Las Vegas three days ago. My only promise is that it will be a completely inadequate exercise in futility.

Everyone wants to know "why" he did it. Usually we "know" why right away: he was an Islamist, or a Bernie Bro, or a cop-hater, or whatever. As if that is a sufficient explanation! We could say that Stephen Paddock did it because he wanted to kill a lot of people. Obviously.

But even if we eventually discover that he was motivated by an ideology or religion, that doesn't really answer the deeper question, which is, Why do people want to murder innocent people? How and why does this thought ever enter their minds? In no other species does this occur. If not a function of humanness, it is certainly a feature. Why is someone attracted to a murderous ideology to begin with?

Thinking about this yesterday, I was reminded of Freud's theory of the death instinct, which few people ever took seriously. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean the phenomena the theory tries to explain don't exist and aren't in need of explanation.

For example, I've had a number of leaks in my tires lately. Let's say I have a theory that my liberal neighbor is sneaking into my garage at night and pounding nails into them. Even if this theory doesn't pan out -- and I'm working on it -- that doesn't mean the leaks aren't real. Much less does it mean that I shouldn't sneak into his garage and flatten his tires for being such an irritating moonbat.

What exactly was Freud trying to explain with the theory? Let's find out! Prof. Wiki writes that "the death drive (German: Todestrieb) is the drive towards death and self-destruction":

The death drive opposes Eros, the tendency toward survival, propagation, sex, and other creative, life-producing drives. The death drive is sometimes referred to as "Thanatos" in post-Freudian thought, complementing "Eros"...

It's very much as if we exist in the crosscurrents of two arrows, one ascending upward into love and unity, the other downward toward the inanimate state. Instead of a one-way movement from the inanimate to the animate, it is more like a complementarity between the two: Freud "found it ultimately 'an urge in organic life to restore an earlier state of things' -- the inorganic state from which life originally emerged."

There are people who hate themselves -- who are self-defeating, intro-punitive, guilt-ridden, and prone to shame. Freud would say that this is the death instinct turned inward. Others turn it outward, AKA externalize it. And again, even if we reject the death instinct explanation, there is no doubt whatsoever that such people -- millions and billions of them -- engage in this defense mechanism.

This subject is very much tied in with the problem of aggression. Man is an aggressive animal, or at least potentially so. To back up a bit, all animals are either predator or prey. Wolves and sheep. Man is both, but this isn't the source of his flaw. One man -- our police, or military -- uses aggression to protect the sheep. Another uses it to slaughter them.

I'm sure you are aware of how many people -- especially liberals -- see aggression as the problem, as opposed to the uses to which it is put. Nuke imperial Japan to end World War 2? Good. Nuke Japan because you're a crazy and paranoid dictator? Not good. "Enhanced interrogation" because you're dealing with a known terrorist and are trying to save lives? Good. Torture people for the thrill of it? Death instinct. Or something.

So, yesterday I was wondering if there might be some way to update the death instinct.

By the way, I think there is something like this operating in certain types of addicts. A heroin addict such as Tom Petty or a barbiturate addict such as Kurt Cobain have very peculiar motivation, as if they want to return to the blissful oceanic oneness of the womb -- before there was all this duality, tension, asymmetry, and frustration. It is one surefire way to make the torture stop in the tortured soul. It's like a living death. Or, life without the hassle of being alive.

(I know the feeling well from my two post-colonoscopy experiences with fentanyl. Paradise is guarded, but there are ways to slip past the cherubim.)

Now I am reminded of Dracula, which I watched the other night. You know, the undead. Note that in order to maintain his undead status, he needs the living blood of victims. That is of course a myth, which is to say, entirely true. The left puts the bite on various victim groups, draining them of their living individuality in order to go on being as a viable political entity. Can you imagine a more vampirish woman than Hillary Clinton? I can, but we're running out of time.

Anyway, I pulled some of my old psychology books from the closet to see if I could find a way to update this thanatos business. Back in the day, one of my main influences was Ignacio Matte Blanco. He has this to say about the death instinct: the study of biology is embedded in standard, classical logic, but "there is some evidence of bi-logic also in biology." That is, in order to be, "life requires death, and in a way both are co-extensive."

To be or not to be is not the question. Rather, how to negotiate their complementarity. It's the difference between a living death and a life-in-death.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Random Thoughts on Randomness

I wasn't planning to post. In the wake of yesterday's horror story, I am reluctant to say anything, because most anything one says will sound trite, vicious, stupid, or agenda-driven. I suppose that's the point of a trauma: it shatters one's usual categories for interpreting and understanding reality, and we are left to reassemble the pieces of our narrative in more or less defective ways.

Leading up to the trauma (any trauma), Everything Makes Sense. Of course, it -- meaning life -- never really makes sense. Rather, we simply superimpose a grid of logic and predictability, which most of the time works. But trauma comes along and reminds us that our narrative grid is just a fairy tale.

On a more micro level, think of Tom Petty. I was reading this morning of how he was a tortured soul who struggled with an abusive childhood, insecurity, severe depression, a miserable marriage, heroin addiction, and alienation from his children.

Nevertheless, he apparently came through it all, and then BOOM! The worst sting of all, just when you least suspect it. Indeed, if Petty were conscious, he might well have said something like, "What's this?! This can't be! I battled my demons for decades and came out the other side of hell! You know, resurrected!"

That same cosmic BOOM is awaiting us all, no matter how many comforting stories we tell ourselves. And perhaps more often than not, it will be a Total Surprise, as it was for the victims in Las Vegas. Were they ready for it? What a stupid question! How many people have the luxury to meditate on their death every day, to keep it front and center, such that it is the Constant Companion? And even then.

People understandably don't like to ponder the randomness of it all. If our personal fairy tales are there to deny the power of chance, our collective ones attempt to do so in a more systematic way.

As to the latter, you might say that this approach tries to situate the random element in a higher order -- similar to how Thelonious Monk could take the sour note and integrate it into a deeper harmonic structure. That requires a large musical mind. The smaller mind will just hear the wrong note and not know what to do with it. It's just a mistake instead of an uppertunity.

I think it takes a wide and capacious soul to acknowledge the power of chance, which amounts to conceding our permanent and insurmountable ignorance.

Churchill for example, observes that "The longer one lives, the more one realizes that everything depends upon chance," and that "Chance, Fortune, Luck, Destiny, Fate, Providence" are but "different ways of expressing the same thing, to wit, that a man's own contribution to his life story is continually dominated by an external superior power":

If anyone will look back over the course of even ten years' experience, he will see that many incidents, utterly unimportant in themselves, have in fact governed the whole of his fortunes and career.

Especially in war, "Chance casts aside all veils and disguises and presents herself nakedly from moment to moment as the direct arbiter of all persons and events."

Churchill knows of what he writes. Examples from his life abound, but on one occasion during WWI, when stationed at the front, he was called to a pointless meeting that was ultimately canceled anyway. Five minutes after he grudgingly took off for it, a bomb landed in his trench.

What is one to think in the wake of such a near miss? Yes, "I was spared." But why? And by Whom? And why not the others? Etc. Churchill was aware of a "strong sensation that a hand had been stretched out to move me in the nick of time from a fatal spot." But he doesn't pretend to understand the nature of the Hand.

Can we control the Hand? No, of course not. The best we can hope to do is tip the scales. There is no 100%. I would compare it to the casino, where the odds are always tipped in favor of the house.

Indeed, the house -- Death -- always wins in the end. But perhaps we can do things to delay his triumph. I, for example, have type 1 diabetes. That's a big tilt in favor of the house. Therefore, I do everything I can to nudge it back in my direction, for example, taking medications to keep my blood pressure and cholesterol even lower than they already are, working out every day, avoiding stress, sleeping well, getting enough alcohol, etc.

But we can never actually see the state of the playing field. I'm trying to tip it in my favor, but there is no controlled experiment. You can do everything right, but things nevertheless can and will turn out wrong.

Perhaps in the end, the best we can do is place the randomness in a higher order, a la Monk. Is this an intellectual dodge? I don't think so; chance presumes predictability; randomness must be parasitic on order. Indeed, the only reason we can perceive chance is because of order. Otherwise the two would be indistinguishable.

Robert Spitzer writes that "Death and loss are intensely negative moments within an ultimately loving eternity."

In this context, our brief lives are "a time for choosing who we are and who we will become." Thus, "Death is significant for only one major reason -- to compel us to make the fundamental decisions that will define our eternal character."

We know when things go wrong. But we will never know how many times the angel of death has passed us by. No one can hear or see the countless bullets flying past as we navigate from one horizon to the other. There is one with our name on it, but that should only serve to keep our souls concentrated on that distant shore.