Friday, March 31, 2006

Lies Made Flesh and Other Problems of Embodied Existence

You can learn a lot from a guy who doesn't have a body. No, not just the content, which may or may not be reliable. But it reminds you that human knowledge is unavoidably embodied knowledge, and having the sort of body we do has a direct bearing on that.

This is why I love modern developmental psychoanalysis, because it is the one science that understands the importance of the fact that we are embodied. In this regard, it actually has an interesting parallel with Christianity, because it is obviously the one religion that emphasizes the fact that ultimate truth is embodied--that "the word became flesh."

But the opposite is also true. If truth can become flesh, so can lies--not just this or that lie, but The Lie. This is the hazard of living in a modified primate body. You see, people still think about the body in premodern ways, as if there is a sharp division between body and mind, and that we consist of a sort of immaterial soul that is implanted into a body. (There is some truth to that, but I don't want to go there for the moment.)

Science continues to study human intelligence in the wrong way. There seems to be a default position that intelligence is simply a result of a complex enough nervous system--as if, through blind natural selection, our hominid brains just became more and more complex, until voila, human intelligence popped out. That is a very unsophisticated, pre-post-postmodern view.

For human intelligence and self-consciousness only came about through a very species specific situation, not simply through genes and brains. Although genes and brains were obviously necessary, they were not sufficient to produce humanness.

The situation without which humanness could not (and cannot) emerge is our neurological incompleteness and plasticity at birth. As infant brains became larger and larger, they began to overrun the ability of our female furbears to give birth to them without dying in the process. In order to survive, mothers had to give birth to babies "prematurely" so that much of their brain growth would take place outside the womb.

It was in the hothouse ancestral environment of infantile helplessness, neurological incompleteness, and utter psychological dependency on caretakers that our humanness emerged--and emerges today. Every helpless baby that comes into the world repeats this process, for better or worse, because much of the outcome of development depends upon the quality of childrearing.

As it pertains to the human ability to "know," one of the fundamental problems is that, for human beings, unreality, magic and illusion are actually the "default" state, while reality and disillusion are only gradually learned (if they are acquired at all). Because human beings are born in a neurologically immature, completely helpless state, we are steeped in illusion and fantasy during the time our brains and nervous systems are being assembled.

Early experience is relatively "hardwired" in, so that the substrate of the human mind is built on the illusion that we are not really helpless and powerless, but that our painful and frightening needs will be magically alleviated through our desires. We are cold, lonely and hungry. We cry. Suddenly we are swooped up, caressed, comforted, and spoken to in a soothing manner (or not). Nourishment appears out of nowhere, converting painful stomach contractions into pleasant fullness, while at the same time we are bathed in the radiance of a soft, enveloping, benign universe (or not).

I was thinking about this just the other day with our baby. Of course, we think of him as "the baby" of the house. But in reality, he is the sovereign King, even God, of the house. Every need is attended to, sometimes even before he recognizes it as a need. His every utterance, no matter how inarticulate or ambiguous, is taken seriously. "Yes your majesty! Are we hungry? Do we wish to be held? Do we have a poopy diaper? Your wish is our command!" That's a very intoxicating experience. You can tell.

Infantile omnipotence is a double-edged sword, because without it, we would live in a frightening, barren and hostile universe, indifferent to our needs, to our very existence. The experience of omnipotence is necessary to our psychological survival, but it can have its own dark side, as some people and groups never get past it.

Given good-enough parenting, we will gradually become “disillusioned” from the idea that we are the center of the universe, that our feelings are urgently important to other people, that life is fair, that it is possible for all our needs to be taken care of--that it is possible for heaven to exist on earth. Under ideal circumstances, we will first have the edenic experience described above, and only gradually awaken from it in a non-traumatic way, as reality seeps in little by little.

For a variety of reasons, other children will never experience this blissful paradise, experience it only sporadically, chaotically and unreliably, or be traumatically exiled from Eden by the premature impingement of reality. For such individuals, there will always be a nostalgic yearning for what they missed, this infantile utopia in which frustration does not exist and desire is instantly converted to satisfaction. A few of these individuals will be lucky enough to obtain lifetime tenure at a major university, but the rest must deal with an unyielding world that does not mirror their unresolved infantile needs.

Back to the idea of our embodied minds. I believe this underlying template of infantile illusion has a lot to do with false beliefs. Not merely false in the sense of “untrue,” because no one can know everything, and it is not possible to get through life without holding some beliefs for which there is no proof or which will later be proven wrong.

What I am talking about is not so much false beliefs as what might be called “motivated stupidity.” These are beliefs that are not only untrue, but could not possibly be true, and yet, are embraced just as fervently as any truth. In fact, one of the giveaways that we are dealing with motivated stupidity is that these false beliefs are held onto more fervently than true beliefs, as if clinging tightly enough to an object will reinstate one's omnipotence.

I think the problem of motivated stupidity especially afflicts contemporary liberalism. President Bush is not Hitler. He is not, as Cindy Sheehan said, "the biggest terrorist in the world." The war in Iraq is not being waged for the purpose of enriching his already wealthy friends. Bush is not spying on innocent Americans. Global warming during the five years of his administration did not cause hurricane Katrina. This is not the worst economy since Herbert Hoover. President Bush is not a racist. Republicans do not want children to go hungry.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it is much more difficult to do battle with a weak mind than a strong one. Weak thinkers embrace their false ideas in a manner disquietingly similar to religious groups who predict the second coming, or the arrival of space ships, or end of the world, but who do not modify their beliefs when the event fails to come about.

In fact, it is a well-known observation that a few of the disappointed may depart from such a group, while the majority only become more thoroughly entrenched in their belief system, defending it all the more vigorously. These are the sad Ghost Dancers, those who believe that if we only wish more fervently, we really can alter reality. Just like an infant can do. Think of "War is Not the Answer," "Give Peace a Chance," and all the other liberal bumper stickers.

What this obviously means--obvious to a psychologist, anyway--is that the primary purpose of beliefs is not necessarily to comprehend reality. Rather, belief systems are superimposed on a deeper ground of emotional need for comfort, predictability, and meaning. There is a deep emotional need for the world to make sense, even if the explanation actually makes no sense.

What sets humans apart from the animals is not just our ability to know reality, but our even more striking ability to not know it--to create patently erroneous systems of thought that we then inhabit, and which actually compromise our survival prospects. No lion ever entertained the idea that it might be healthier to live on grasses rather than flesh. Penguins don’t decide to live near the equator, where it isn’t so cold. But the UN thinks that lots of talks and meetings will make the threat of a nuclear Iran go away. Liberals really think that Saddam and his satanic spawn would never, ever, have obtained nukes.

Only human beings can hold ideas that are completely illogical and self-defeating. In fact, there is no doubt whatsoever that the majority of beliefs human beings have held about the world down through history have been false, often ridiculously so. For example, just consider medicine. Until the early 20th century, the average visit to a doctor was likely to leave one in worse shape, not better. But useless or harmful treatments helped people cope with otherwise intolerable anxiety, and were obviously psychologically preferable to the truth: that no one knew why you were sick or how to cure you.

So there is something about human beings that makes them uniquely susceptible to bad ideas. Therefore, it would appear to be axiomatic that there must be something about bad ideas that is paradoxically adaptive. But adaptive to what? Clearly, they are adaptive to internal reality, to the emotional needs and anxieties of the person who holds them. Leftists don't really want Bush to be Hitler. They need him to be. Desperately. As uncomfortable as it is, it is far preferable to being left alone with their own internal infantile anxieties, with nowhere to project them.

The psychoanalyst Winnicott made the apt observation that "there is no such thing as an infant," at least from the infant's point of view, since the infant is unable to clearly distinguish itself from the mother.

What this means is that human beings are fundamentally a group animal, not just in a social sense, but at the core of our very being. We all harbor the unconscious residue of an infantile matrix out of which our individuality only later emerges. In developmental psychology, this process is known as "individuation," and there are many things that can go wrong on the journey from infantile symbiosis to individuation and mature independence.

One of the things that frequently goes awry is that the drive toward individuation is overcome by the opposite, regressive pull toward fusion and dependence (in its healthy form, this drive to merger allows us, for example, to fall in love). Becoming independent is fraught with anxiety, and can trigger a host of emotional problems in someone with a history of insecure, traumatic, or ambivalent attachment.

A casual survey of history reveals that human beings are a deeply troubled species. Arthur Koestler observed that we err in placing all of the blame on human greed, selfishness, and assertiveness--that is, excess individualism. Rather, he pointed out that the amount of crime committed for personal motives is inconsequential compared to that committed by large populations--that is, groups--in a completely self-transcendent manner on behalf of religion or ideology, king or country. The Islamists are a case in point. Suicide bombers obviously do not selfishly kill for personal gain, but selflessly to advance the cause of their group.

Therefore, as Koestler writes, "the historical record confronts us with the paradox that the tragedy of man originates not in an excess of individual self-assertiveness," but in a malfunction of the affiliative, group tendencies of our species.

Koestler also had the intuition that this had something to do with an excessive "need to belong" triggered by infantile experience, leading to an unquestioned identification with the group, a suspension of critical thinking about the group's beliefs, and a trancelike submission to a powerful parental substitute.

As Adam Smith knew, individuals may be selfish, but they are also self-interested. This makes them rational, predictable, and comprehensible. On the other hand, no one knows how to deal with the individual who has given over his identity to the group. Such a person does not possess an individual mind, but a group mind which is not critical, rational, or predictable. As such, they may react violently to any kind of threat, not just a physical threat, but any questioning of their worldview. A harmless wimp may be transformed into a beast of depravity by identifying with the powerful group, tribe, clan, party or religion.

Leftists such as Cindy Sheehan routinely accuse the United States of being the most selfish and individualistic nation on the planet. Interestingly, this may explain why the United States is, by a wide margin, the greatest force for good the world has ever known. In contrast, countries that have attempted to dissolve individual identity by promoting a regressive merger with the nation/group have been a source of unqualified evil: Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, communist China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, and now Islamofascism.

For that matter, look at the infantile selfishness we see in the recent French rioting. They are essentially rioting to maintain the prerogatives of His Majesty the Baby, who must be loved and cared for unconditionally. You do not fire a baby when he is bad. You don't even punish him. In fact, you have no expectations of him at all. European style socalism does the same thing for adults, creating a giant nursery in which the conditions of infancy are perpetuated. In their imagination, angry babies can "fire" the parents that frustrate their omnipotence. But then you have a problem: for the infant still requires grown-ups to fund and implement the nursery. I don't think the Europediocracy will like it when Muslims gain control of the nursery.

This actually constitutes a large part of the "war on terror": trying, for example, in Iraq, to bring individuation and psychological maturity to a people who have known only infantile merger with the tribe, faith, or "strong man." The task is made all the more difficult as a result of the approximately fifty percent of Americans who are merged together in their own infantile group fantasy of eternal suckling on the inexhaustible teat of mommy government: "Don't bother me, I'm eating."

You can't be French forever. Enjoy it while it lasts:

(photo editing courtesy Dilys & Fishy Art)

25 Comments:

Anonymous Bryan said...

Do you think there is any hope? Is it possible to lead people to individuation on such a large scale? How does the process of leading a person with "fusion" disorders to individuation work in individual therapy, and how successful does that tend to be?

3/31/2006 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Such cases are notoriously difficult to treat. They are technically known as "boundary disturbances" or "structural deficits," wherein the problem lies not so much in the content of thought--as in the case of neurosis--but in the structure of the thinker. These are the borderline, narcissistic, histrionic, and schizoid personalities, each in their own way involving subtle or not so subtle disturbances of thought.

Here we can be thankful for all the horizontal causes discussed the other day--how they tend to cancel each other out in the long run.

Of course there is hope! To be alive is to hope. It depends on what you're hoping for. Just do your best to achieve vertical liftoff, and help others do the same. Vertical causes can intervene in the closed circle of the horizontal. It is a miracle, but an everyday one.

3/31/2006 08:51:00 AM  
Anonymous rorschach said...

Bob:

At bottom of which lies the most malevolent of all, the antisocial or psychotic personality. They are perhaps most drastic of all mentally disabled persons.

Carl Goldberg tries to synthesize all the theories on malevolence-as-mental-illness in his SPEAKING WITH THE DEVIL. The will to evil, he theorizes, is end product of long series of self-inflicted problems. First step, encounter that shatters the patient's innocence about ways of the world, usually at a young age; after that, inability to adjust to new perception of reality. Guilt and shame - ordinarily healthy and even useful emotions - mutate into mind parasites, are projected outward in process, against others. End result is person who sees world as hostile place and reacts with own hostility. Recommend Goldberg's book for additional details.

3/31/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous dilys said...

Interesting material from Rorschach. Evil seems to be on many continuums, not least degrees of cooperation by individuals.

On a not unrelated note, I wish to apologize for a certain amount of Bad Mood infusing my earlier comment. That comment adds little or nothing, and when Bob returns from Speaking With WIE, it is my request that he will delete it. Thanks.

3/31/2006 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

Dilys -

Bob may indeed delete your Bad Mood spasm from this commentary, but it shall never, NEVER, I say, be deleted from the screen of my consciousness!!

But seriously, Bad Mood or no, you scored a hit - I'm acquainted with my own puers and they can drive me crackers. You think Bob doesn't get annoyed, angry, teeth-grindingly frustrated at times when contemplating Citizen Sheehan, for example? He still doesn't lose his objectivity about the issue and neither did you.

Keep standing tall.

3/31/2006 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

dilys--

Done, but reluctantly. Personally, I like it when you're all fired up--the Old Testament Dilys.

3/31/2006 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous dilys said...

Thank you gentleman. I apparently only hurt myself with the loose canon of evil humor. Good thing, I suppose.

/s/ OT Dilys<

3/31/2006 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Ben USN (Ret) said...

This is kind of unrelated, but since you mentioned it...
The common idea, that life is unfair.
Why is that?
Is life really unfair?
I contend that life is more than fair, but some things that happen during
life are considered unfair, depending on our perception.
Of core, some things that happen during life are unfair by all perception too, but, is that Life's fault? Or the result of freedom?

3/31/2006 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

I accidently dropped this into the other thread but meant it to go in this one...

You know the lefties that gripe and bitch about America this and that? I get so frustrated at them because to me (and I am not just harping on patriotism) which they always say 'the right' is attacking in the way of their aligning themselves with the same values as the enemy, but it goes much bigger than that for me.

IMHO, I am so blessed to have been born into a country like America instead of some country that doesn't even value women. I feel it's a blessing from the start and to bitch about the environment of a country that I was lucky enough to be part of is to me just ungrateful and tearing down that initial blessing. People should spend more time and wonder what it would have been like being born into less. People should ask themselves "Why was I so lucky to be born into freedom?" I know that I wouldn't want to be born in any other country. I see the blessings and privilege that has been paved for me and I truly wish it for all. I thank God I wasn't born into a country that aborts little girls just because of their chromozones. I thank God that I was born into a country that offers so much freedoms. I haven't ever had to live without them "yet" but I thank God that He allowed me to be born and live in a country that allows individuality. To me...to be anti-American on a global scale as so many artist do these days or people in the media with their own personal agendas continue to do, is just a slap in the face of that blessing from God. Let those that bitch go live in less privileged countries and then come back and rethink it. Instead of tearing down America and the blessing to live here that God granted me...I prefer to thank Him for every day He has given me under the big red white and blue!


P.S. I love the picture today! Ha Ha You should pose that little guy reading your book Bob so that the picture can see the cover and put a fun caption to it!

3/31/2006 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

ben---The common idea, that life is unfair.
Why is that?
Is life really unfair?
---------

Ben, I guess one way we could go about answering that would be to think how each of us percieves a life with sin all around us and also those sinful things inside us and how we go about reacting to and conquering it not only on a daily basis but through out our lifetime. I know that bad things happen directly to and indirectly to good people but one thing I try to stay focused on is how those people deal with it and the beautiful way they teach others about their experiences going through those trials and ugly things thrown at them. Is life's dynamics always fair to us? NO because men are basically inclined to be of a wicked nature left to our own demise....but the good news is...the life after this one is going to be fair and wonderful!!! WoooooooHoooooo!

3/31/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous diz said...

ben

I began to respond to your post, but after just a few minutes, I had to ask myself, is this guy really serious?

You ask:
"Is life really unfair?"
"Is unfairness is the fault of freedom." (paraphrased, but that was your meaning)

Examples of unfairness are so abundant as to not be worth citing.
Most (if not everyone except you) already agree that life is not fair, but disagree on what to do about it.

Perception certainly plays a part in what certain individuals or groups consider unfair, as in the recent French youth and American Hispanic demonstrations. But their idiocy does not negate the real unfairness that exists.

I recently saw a "Cold Case Files" in which a young girl was abused as a child, then she went through 17 foster homes, then was taken advantage of by a pimp, who then tortured her by suspending her in his basement and beating her and cutting off her fingertips all because she didn't want to live that life and make him money anyore, then he killed her and dumped her body in the woods. No one came to her memorial except the cops who found her.

It was one of the saddest stories I have ever heard, and I'm tearing up right now just relating it. That poor girl never had a chance. Sure, she probably made some bad decisions, but what were the options available to her?

Some people's lives just suck from the very beginning. That's unfair. But that's the way it is. We cannot make every life perfect, and the attempt to do so always results in everyone suffering.

Contrary to common folklore, not just anyone can be president, and you cannot make yourself into a Mozart if you just try hard enough.

A true sign of maturity is accepting the fact that life is not fair, by making the best of the cards you have been dealt: accept and be happy with your station in life, while being dilligent to advance it, be the best at whatever job you have, be true to yourself, and love your family and friends.

Ben, I have not seen you post here before, but the fact you identified yourself as usn (ret) means you are proud of your service to our country, and wanted us to know.

I became of age in a time in a time when it was not mandatory, and I chose to not to. But looking back, I wish I had.

Thank you for your service.

3/31/2006 05:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know from having seen it happen to others that I am about to take my virtual life into my hands, but here goes. I, my fellow humans, am what some would call a liberal. (I personally prefer the term progressive or even radical.)

Before I say anything else, let me first say: I am not your enemy (nor am I the Enemy). I'm just someone who, on at least one level, doesn't really understand you. Just like you are someone who doesn't really understand me.

I have a few questions. Everytime I come here to read what Mr. Godwin writes, I start out nodding and thinking, wow, very interesting and yes, I totally get that. And then, invariably, I will get to something that just does not compute. Mostly, I don't really understand the attacks without any clear reasoning behind them on "the Left." (I laugh at this, mostly because there really isn't much of a Left in America, but I digress.)

So first, by Left do you mean the Democrats? (Because really they are not very Left.) And second, what exactly do you object to so strongly? Do you think that Democrats are Evil? I just don't get it. (By the way, I am sure that They do the same thing regarding the "Right".)

The problem with all of this for me is that you dehumanize an entire group of people about whom you appear to know very little. The blog world is not the real world. What people say in chatrooms and email and on bulletin boards is not the real world, at least not in any holistic sense. It just doesn't seem productive to me for either side to call each other not very well-supported names. What's the point?

Also, I find it very funny that you presented this really thoughtful, rational discussion of the development of human intelligence, scientific inquiry, and "motivated stupidity" which I completely agreed with and found interesting. And then you said this,"President Bush is not Hitler. He is not, as Cindy Sheehan said, 'the biggest terrorist in the world.' The war in Iraq is not being waged for the purpose of enriching his already wealthy friends. Bush is not spying on innocent Americans. Global warming during the five years of his administration did not cause hurricane Katrina. This is not the worst economy since Herbert Hoover. President Bush is not a racist. Republicans do not want children to go hungry."

I would like to very gently point out that this, like much of the politically motivated portion of your writing on this site, is a completely circular argument. I say that chair is black and you say, just as loudly that it's white. Neither of us has proved a thing. Moreover, in this case, I would be amazed if you had any way of proving the truth of any of these statements, except perhaps that Republicans don't want children to go hungry. I will give you that, because really, why would Republicans want children to go hungry? That's ridiculous. I'll also give you that President Bush is not Hitler, because as anyone who has spent anytime on the internet knows, once you mention Hitler, the argument is over, i.e., you cannot think of any valid arguments to make, so you just compare Bush to Hitler and no one knows what to say in response.

But how do you know that President Bush is not a racist? Do you know him, have you looked inside his head? Do you think he is not because he says he is not? I would guess that many people in this country, particularly those who have lived for extended periods of time in the South (as has our President)have some less than neutral views of race, at least on a deep level, whether or not they admit it even to themselves. You simply cannot prove that he is not a racist. And I doubt anyone can prove that he is a racist, either.

How do you know that global warming did not cause Hurricane Katrina? (Or do you mean that the Bush administration's actions did not cause the global warming which in turn caused Hurricane Katrina?) Are you a trained meteorologist? Have you looked at the scientific data analysis or have you just read some books that support the view you already hold?

The same thing applies to pretty much that entire paragraph.

I have spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out how someone who is clearly an extremely well-educated, very literate, intelligent man could alternate between logical, valid arguments and unsupported attacks that are unbecoming of his rational mind.

Of course, I realize that the answer to my question is that you are just a man. Human. Fallible. But also, adaptable.

I, too, am just a person, a woman, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend, a sinner, a worshipper, a worker. I laugh, I cry, I have beliefs, I think, I am polite (mostly), I am smart, I feel guilt, I feel joy, I feel pain. I am just like any one of you, except in the details. And I am grateful because the world would be much less interesting if we were all just clones of one other.

That some of my opinions may not agree with yours does not make me the Enemy and it does not mean we cannot have meaningful conversations that make us both think. If I only wanted to hear my own opinion, I'm sure I would be happy to tell it to myself all day long, but that would be more boring than watching paint dry.

We are all in this together, are we not? We can't exactly get off at the next planet.

Surely you can see that it is a waste of time to reduce an entire section of humanity to a few hateful statements which in the end describes none of them.

You certainly have the right to say whatever you want. This is, after all, a free country. But words being what they are, why would you waste them on such generalizations when clearly you have much more valuable and meaningful things to say?

I shall shut up now and come back humbly and quietly later...

Best,
June

3/31/2006 06:39:00 PM  
Anonymous LARWYN said...

Dear Robert,
Thanks for the bit of politics.

rorschach said...
Carl Goldberg tries to synthesize all the theories on malevolence-as-mental-illness in his SPEAKING WITH THE DEVIL.

My question was going to be directed to Robert, but perhaps "Progressive Anon"
would give us the answer:

Your side has had control of the "mental health professions" and for year you have told us that abused children will abuse and therefore they are victims who should not be punished but treated.

Why did not the great progressive minds in the mental health professions immediately identify the vast majority of Iraqis who lived under 30plus years of abuse by Saddam as victims. And then explain to the LSM and the American people that it will take a great deal of work and time to teach these people to trust and to not revert to their tribal instincts/protections???

Why "progressive" ANON?

I'll presume an answer to why you did not share all your pop psychology on Oprah and Dr.Phil and all the rest of LSM "psych" outlets - it would have helped that evil evil Bush.
That's why!

And all your phony lIB BS - is just that when the actions of your "big tent" party do not include help for the Afghan and Iraq women and you do not celebrate new freedoms for 50,000,000 human beings.

I'll wait for your answers, doubt they will be forthcoming or rationale.
Rationalized, yes. Rational, NO!

3/31/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

June anonymous -

I think Bob's busy with an interview today. And nobody sings Bob like Bob, so I can't answer for him.

I will say, however, thanks for your politeness. There was this other "June" who swooped in here, all deux ex machina-like, with a whole bag of nasty, and . . .well, doesn't seem like you.

You say you "don't get it". That's OK, that's honest. I would only ask you to hang in there, I mean long term-ish, and see if, after a while, a clearer picture starts to emerge. Because, honestly, there is something "to get" and it's a good something that addresses the absolutely best part of all of us.

blessings your way.

3/31/2006 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

June--

I'll try to respond to each of your points. Forgive typos.

" Mostly, I don't really understand the attacks without any clear reasoning behind them on "the Left.""

--I have written a rather voluminous amount regarding my reasons. If you use the search engine at the top of the blog, just try "left," "liberal," or "leftist," and I think there will be enough information to keep you busy all weekend.

"(I laugh at this, mostly because there really isn't much of a Left in America, but I digress.)'

--I must admit, I don't understand that comment at all. The left controls the MSM, all the major newspapers except the editorial page of the WSJ, academia, most major foundations, all the professional groups, the major newsweeklies, etc.

"So first, by Left do you mean the Democrats?

--Not necessarily. I'm talking specifically about secular leftist philosophy.

" (Because really they are not very Left.)

--Disagree entirely.

"And second, what exactly do you object to so strongly?

--Again, you'll have to take the time to read everything I've written. I've covered it pretty exhaustively.

"Do you think that Democrats are Evil?

--No, not at all. They can be perfectly decent people. I just think their ideas are bad, that they have destructive consequences that hurt the people they are intended to benefit, and that they unwittingly abet evil and interfere with spiritual evolution.

"The problem with all of this for me is that you dehumanize an entire group of people about whom you appear to know very little.

--I was a lifetime liberal until relatively recently, so I actually know a great deal about leftist thought.

"Also, I find it very funny that you presented this really thoughtful, rational discussion of the development of human intelligence, scientific inquiry, and "motivated stupidity" which I completely agreed with and found interesting.

--When you say "agree," I think we mean different things by that word. Respectfully, I find it impossible to believe you understand my thought at all. You understand what you understand, and then think you understand all of it. But you don't. Trust me.

"But how do you know that President Bush is not a racist?

--Because there is no evidence for it. If you provide any evidence, I'd be happy to consider it.

"How do you know that global warming did not cause Hurricane Katrina? (Or do you mean that the Bush administration's actions did not cause the global warming which in turn caused Hurricane Katrina?)

--The latter. It is scientifically impossible.

"I have spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out how someone who is clearly an extremely well-educated, very literate, intelligent man could alternate between logical, valid arguments and unsupported attacks that are unbecoming of his rational mind.

--Surely you can find better things to do with your time?

"That some of my opinions may not agree with yours does not make me the Enemy and it does not mean we cannot have meaningful conversations that make us both think.

--Respectfully, the purpose of my blog is not for me to learn from you. It is to help those that can benefit from it. Not everyone can. In fact, very few can. I mean, it's obviously a public blog and you are free to read it, but I discuss a lot of esoteric matters that are not meant to be bandied about and debated the way you would on talk radio or in any other forum, really. I'm already pushing the envelope in that regard, in danger of vulgarizing certain teachings by exposing them to all and sundry, regardless of spiritual merit. In any event, I am certainly not here to debate, I am here to help.

"Surely you can see that it is a waste of time to reduce an entire section of humanity to a few hateful statements which in the end describes none of them."

--You've lost me. Accurately and dispassionately describing someone's ideas is not "hating" them.

"But words being what they are, why would you waste them on such generalizations when clearly you have much more valuable and meaningful things to say?

--Because there is nothing more important than the spiritual battle that is taking place in this country. The future of the world hinges on the outcome of that battle.

3/31/2006 08:54:00 PM  
Anonymous MikalM said...

Bob & everyone,

Thanks for enduring that extensive Machen excerpt about evil last night, and for intelligently commenting on it.

Speaking of quotes: Bob, the Arthur Koestler stuff reminds me of a concept attributed to him. Koestler, like George Orwell, fought on the Left side of the trenches in the Spanish Civil War, and like Mr. Blair, had an intimate familiarity with Homo collectivistius.

He's supposed to have coined the phrase, "deliberate stupidity," to describe the forms of brain death and moral vapidity that are peculiar to leftist ideologues. Koestler observed how educated, "intellectual" leftists would expend amazing amounts of time, energy and brainpower rationalizing the insane, and justifying the indefensible in the name of Marxist ideological orthodoxy (or at least, whatever its current definition was amongst its Party Hierarchs.)

What made it particularly damnable, to Koestler, was the conscious nature of the self-deception and intellectual dishonesty. To him, it seemed as people afflicted with this were proud of the skill it took to appear "intelligent," and yet justify the most self-evidently idiotic ideas and sociopathic deeds as evidence of one's own open-mindedness and Devotion to the Cause.

"Deliberate stupidity" is the attitude that has provided cover for "progressive" thugs and butchers from Robespierre to Stalin to Castro, and more generally, seems to be a manifestation of your "mind parasites" playing a particularly ugly game with the human intellect and moral sense.

3/31/2006 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Ben USN (Ret) said...

Diz-
Thank you.
I believe that you misunderstood my comment.
I will attempt to be more specific.
I believe things that happen in life are unfair, such as anothers evil actions (based on THEIR freedom to make such evil choices), or maybe just an accident.
These events can be totally unfair, but they are events, not life itself.
Life itself, is a precious gift, and is beyond fair.
Now someone could freely choose to torture and kill me, and those events would be unfair, I agree.
I became disabled, and that event could be considered unfair, though I don't believe it is, because my life is better than it was, even though I experience alot of pain. Because of that event, I changed my perceptions about my life, and decided to freely choose to be a better person than I was,by humbling myself and seeking God, which, in turn improved my life.
Anyhow, I believe our disagreement is merely semantics, and I hope I was able to express what I meant to say.
I must remind myself: never assume that others know what I'm talking about. Often, I wonder if I know what I'm talking about, but in this case I believe I do.
I apologize for getting off topic Bob.
LiquidLifeHacker: Thank you.

3/31/2006 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Ha Ha Bob...I think you might have to put a warning label in the sidebar of your blog! It would be easy for you to just say go THERE for the explanation! I guess it's just hard for some to come in and read a few of your entries and catch up to your objective here to help others. I know ya got to feel like it's a broken record to break in the newbies!

BTW, I think when you said, "the spiritual battle that is taking place in this country. The future of the world hinges on the outcome of that battle" I agree...the forces working on our country are working overtime. God help us all!

3/31/2006 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Hey Ben,

I am sorry to hear that you experience pain, bless your heart, overcoming that or learning to manage it is a challenge for sure. I think its an inspiration on how you have chosen to cope with it through God's help.

3/31/2006 11:05:00 PM  
Anonymous ben usn (ret) said...

Thanks LiquidLifeHacker!
It has motivated me to choose one of 2 paths; Love and compassion or hate and bitterness.
I chose Love/compassion, and He saved my life. :^)

3/31/2006 11:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Blessings, Ben -

Hey, what d'ya think of that teethy thing with eye stalks that hangs around with Liquids?

4/01/2006 12:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Sal said...

Bob-
Late to the party, as always...
Hope the interview went well.
I'm directing a blogger I respect to your article on "Ghost Dancers". He deals a lot with a religious sub-group (Ultra-traditionalist Catholics) who fit your description with eerie precision. Thanks for a super source.

Admit it, you just maintain this blog so you can post photos of His Majesty the Baby, King Gagboy I.

4/01/2006 05:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Ben usn (ret) said...

Much thanks Will.
The creature you mention (is there a name?) is absolutely brilliant! :^)

4/01/2006 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous diz said...

ben,

I think I understand better what you are saying.

Let me try to summarize:

Life (capital "L") is, in your words, "a precious gift, and is beyond fair", while life (little "l"), are events in one's Life that can be unfair.

I agree. But, Life is a one time event, "the breath of God", bestowed upon conception.
life, however, is what we actually live, day to day.

So my disagreement with you is that I think you are injecting Life into a discussion about life.

I think you will find the essays here interesting.

http://www.interlog.com/~girbe/home.html

4/01/2006 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous SB said...

Nobody's reading this thread anymore, but I would suggest that applying terms like "fair" and "unfair" to life is in itself infantile. Life is what it is. Fair and unfair are human mental constructs. Politics and religion are about how we deal with those constructs.

4/03/2006 10:02:00 AM  

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