Sunday, June 11, 2006

Will the Real Reality Please Stand Up?

Antibob reader Copithorne saw nothing unusual in the left’s reaction to Zarqawi’s death. In fact, he took me to task for “writing thousands of words” about a “private reaction” that doesn't exist "outside [my] own head." In other words, just like you and I, the left had a normal human reaction and celebrated the demise of this monster of depravity. Case closed.

Could Copithorne possibly be correct? This is one of the reasons I generally do not respond to critics. Even when the critic seems to be an otherwise intelligent and articulate individual, the problem is, we are usually dealing with two very different realities. The best I can do is delineate our differences as sharply as possible and say “here is an example of someone who literally lives in a different reality than I do.” I won’t even speculate as to the reasons why.

As for Copithorne, he believes he does have the answer for why our realities are so irreconcilable. That is, I am not actually conversant with reality. Rather, what I call "the left" is simply “a projection” of my own “disowned super-ego.” In Freud’s system, the superego is a construct that describes the internalization of parental values. How this figures into my perception of the left, Copithorne does not say, but I invite him to do so. I suppose it means that when I talk about the left I’m really talking about my father. Anything is possible, but I confess to not seeing the family resemblance at all.

Perhaps he was talking about Melanie Klein’s developmentally earlier conception of the pre-oedipal superego, in which case I might conceivably be projecting the “bad breast” into the left. But if I project anything into the left, it is the infantile mouth in search of a bounteous governmental breast, so that doesn't really work either.

Copithorne also disagrees with my shallow new-age, “Thomas Moore” theological blathering. He offers a sharp and unambiguous corrective, assuring me that In every theological tradition, the soul is understood as unconditioned. It does not get sick.

This is an interesting view, and I must again confess to never having encountered it, despite the fact that I have never read Thomas Moore. I don’t quite know what to make of it, because if it is true, it runs counter to all of my understanding and experience. In my view, only God is by definition unconditioned. As a Christian Vedantist, I believe that in our deepest ground we are Atman, and that Atman and Brahman are “not two.”

But the Atman is not the personal soul, which is of course conditioned. Otherwise, all souls are identical, all souls are God, and there is no reality separate from God, which strikes me as a profound misunderstanding--an intrinsic heresy. Yes, on some level we are not-two with God, but it does our soul no good whatsover to say that we are God until we realize the extent to which we are not God.

In my reality--which is different from Copithorne’s reality--the entire purpose of any religious practice is to purify and elevate the soul. In other words, we are not perfect as we are. Far from it. This, in fact, is one of the divides between left and right. The left generally believes that man is basically good and that society is therefore perfectible.

Evolutionary traditionalists such as myself believe that human beings are neutral at best, but probably inclined to evil in their spiritually untutored, "horizontal" state. Our souls are anything but “unconditionally perfect” and not subject to purification, purgation, illumination, and growth. Orthodox Vedanta specifically holds that the soul incarnates in order to undergo evolution and growth. Orthodox Christianity maintains that the ultimate purpose of our existence is to undergo theosis, or the divinization of the soul. God became human so that humans might become God; likewise, Brahman becomes maya so that maya might become Brahman.

I honestly don’t know where the contrary theological idea comes from. I always assumed that it was one of those wacky new-age deviations with which I constantly do battle, but Copithorne comes along and informs me that I am actually a member of the new age Thomas Moore school of theology.

Confusing. Again, all I can do is clarify our differences as sharply as possible and concede that we do indeed live in two different realities. However, I must insist that only one of these realities is the real one. Even I am not that much of a new age liberal.


Don't miss this insensitive and celebratory video. Woo hoo!

Oh the Zarqman
Has no teeth, dear
'Cause we blew them
Clean outta' sight
And no virgins
Has old Musab now
And his walkin'
Just don't look right


Anonymous said...

just curious, why do you take down non abusive challenges to your thoughts that appear (briefly) in the comments section ?

I have found few blogs that have such a consistent policy of doing so.

Gagdad Bob said...

I don't take them down. Perhaps you may have missed today's post, entitled "Will the Real Reality Please Stand Up?," in which I respond to a non-abusive critic who only thinks I'm out of my mind.

I do generally remove frivolous comments, but I'll let yours stand. Readers will enjoy its richly unintended irony.

Hoarhey said...

>>"I suppose it means that when I talk about the left I’m really talking about my father. Anything is possible, but I confess to not seeing the family resemblance at all. "<<

There may be a little projection going on.
In my opinion if you scratch not far past the surface of a leftist this is exactly what you will find. A person battling against their (F)ather who because of their inability or refusal to overcome childhood anger, resentment and ingrained victimhood has made a complete 180 degree turn and rejected even benevolent patriarchal authority thus becoming completely dysfunctional in the opposite direction from the caricature they see as their father through the foggy lens of their anger. Unable to see their own rage and the way it distorts reality, they then take this distorted view into the realm of politics to “straighten out” and “make right” the rest of the world and in many cases become more destructive to the world than their parent ever dreamed of (the parent, intuiting their own dysfunction, and ashamed of it, kept it confined to the immediate family, the leftist spreads it into the world through legislation). The reality is that their is no satisfying that sort of repressed rage and no depths to which a country might sink when caught in the grip of such people. Just take a look at all the socialist utopians of the 20th century, total nut jobs, coming from the most dysfunctional of homes who gained enough power to force their own wills upon hundreds of millions. Beware the politician, activist or guru who has yet to overcome themselves and their own compulsive vices.
People who find the exit door from this insanity are the ones who achieve true forgiveness for the parent such that their minds are healed and they are then able to see reality, achieve temperance and work for the good of all, beginning and in most cases ending with their own family. Thinking globally IS acting locally.

Hoarhey said...

Rare is the non-abusive, ego laiden challenge on this blog.

Hoarhey said...

meant to say NON ego laiden challenge.

Gagdad Bob said...


I do believe that supergo projection plays a huge role in the pschology of leftism. But I disagree with Copithorne that I am doing the same thing in my analysis of the left. If anything, he might say that I am projecting my primitive and rebellious id into them. I don't agree, but at least it would represent something that isn't a priori implausible.

will said...

Yup, one huge mistake that not only some New Agers, but also generations of Christians have made is that everyone's soul is of equal "merit", so to speak. Obviously untrue. Would be he same as saying everyone shared the same depth of spiritual perception.

And in fact, there are people walking around today who are literally soul-less.

copithorne said...

Thanks for replying.

I can't really say that I understand Zarqawi very well. Let's say he has his religious faith or his pretensions of religious faith. Out of that faith comes his conviction that his activity of violence expresses the will of God. He also has the belief that anyone who doesn't appreciate that his bombs are the will of God doesn't have true faith, doesn't have a true relationship with God.

Now, you have your religious faith and out of that faith comes your conviction that the violence you suborn expresses the will of God. And you argue that anyone who doesn't appreciate your violence doesn't understand God, doesn't have a true relationship with God, is "sick" in the soul.

It would be a good use of your talents if you were able to look at yourself and share an understanding of how people begin with faith and end with violence.

That doesn't seem to be your interest.

I can witness to you without any doubt that there does exist genuine religious faith that does not involve the belief that dropping bombs is the will of God. Your cup seems full and you aren't taking in anything from the living saints. But truly, a lot of people of faith and spiritual attainment can witness this possibility.

You still haven't come up with a "left" that you disagree with. You didn't write thousands of words because Mr. Berg said "the death of anyone diminishes me." If you come up with someone you disagree with, we could talk about that.

You can see or imagine that Zarqawi is not accurately perceiving America and the Shiites but rather he is projecting his own internal conflicts onto the world. This is really the way of all violence. Until you can show that "the left" is something outside your head, we would infer that it is an internal object.

I continue to disagree with you theologically -- at the very least you are leaning to port. The soul is unstained. It is continuously brilliant just as the sun is always shining. The soul cannot be hurt or damaged or killed. It cannot be purified by you or your religious practice. This is very important to remember. Tat Tvam Asi.

scaredstraight said...

The reason our realities are so different is simple: We listen to and believe in different sources of information. As an example, if I were to use the local ABC affiliate news as my only source of information I would believe that the insurgency in Iraq has stepped up and caused more havoc than usual since Zarqawi's death;however, when I investigated this assertion on the internet I found that the opposite is actually true. Different sources of information and a desire to believe only what fits into our preconcieved mindset is why our realities are so far apart...
There is only one truth and our point of view never changes what is for real.

Gagdad Bob said...


Once again I find myself in the position of not knowing how to respond to someone who is not even wrong. Tat tvam asi--thou are that--is a heresy if not preceded by deep and simultaneous understanding that thou aren't anything, much less that.

It also goes without saying that it is deeply immoral to conflate moral and immoral violence, for it is an escape from making moral distinctions. A religion that cannot even identify or combat human evil is of no earthly good.

copithorne said...

It's all of a piece. Your belief that you can purify your soul through your own effort is going to have the same structure and play the same role as your belief that you can do God's will through violence.

Again, your cup is full and it does't seem that anybody is really going to be able to reach you. You won't even accept the Veda's word for it. I can only witness to you that your soul is purity. You cannot possibly purify it.

Here I am, making moral distinctions and confronting evil. It isn't fitting your paradigm, clearly. But I'll still witness, that I am speaking from a religious perspective.

I agree that it is immoral to conflate moral and immoral violence for it is an escape from making moral distinctions.

Hoarhey said...

I guess I may have not made myself clear in that I was speaking of Copithornes own projection of his problems with father onto you.

If you want to truly understand Zarqawi, I mean reeeeaaaly understand the guy, google up the Nick Beg beheading video and take a gander. If that doesn't give understanding to what he was and his cohorts are all about, nothing will.

Hoarhey said...

Sorry again, the Nick BERG beheading

Gagdad Bob said...


Your understanding is so garbled that I can only guess at what you're trying to say, but you seem to be confusing soul or jiva, which are prakriti, and atman, which is purusha. The individual soul or jiva is not atman.

You are free to keep posting your nonsense, but I'm going to have to ignore you.

Hoarhey said...

I agree with your assessment of peoples perspectives coming from where they get their news.
Case in point:
The current uproar over the three detainees at Gitmo who hanged themselves.
The world is up in arms that this happened and are banging the drum of the U.S. committing war crimes and that Gitmo be shut down. They condemn one U.S. military spokesperson for having the nerve to say it was a political stunt. What people do is to project their own feelings into the detainees (if I were detained with no hope of being released in the forseeable future I too would be suicidal) and then come to a conclusion according to a false premise.
Getting my information from sources other than the BBC, Al Jazera and the mainstream media in the U.S.,I have a differing perspective.
A couple weeks ago I heard an interview on talk radio (yes the eeeevil talk radio) with the man in charge of the Guantanamo Bay prison. It was shortly after the unsuccessful suicide attempt of one of the prisoners and the ensuing riot. When asked why the prisoners were going on hunger strikes and attempting suicide, he conveyed the story of how one inmate had a dream inspired by Allah (my opinion is that it was inspired by his unconscious understanding of the left wing media) that told him that when 3 (could have been 4) of the prisoners had died there, the rest would then be set free.
Now you could say that this story was made up propaganda from the military and not to be trusted and that was the reason it wasn't picked up by the media. (the military "warden" seemed to me a decent, honest, down to earth person during the interview) Or one might say that it doesn't fit the template of the left wing media and thus was cast aside. Or it could also be said that the media didn't even ask the man in charge about what happened, relying instead on lying jihadists for their sources. (many have been interviewed since being released)
I believe that the truth can be discerned by watching what happens when the magic number of deaths is reached. We are either at that number now or have one more to go. If the suicide attempts and the hunger strikes stop, reasonable, informed people will know who to believe.

HV said...

I assume Copithorne's comments are coming from his conditioned self. An unconditioned self would not care one way or another what Bob thinks or expresses on his own blog.

PSGInfinity said...


"I can't really say that I understand Zarqawi very well. Let's say he has..."

...There's your first problem. You're starting from the wrong premise; your assuming that an artificially constructed equivalence has any bearing on reality.

Ever SEEN the beheading videos? He enjoyed his role. If you call enjoying the act of beheading a helpless human equivalent to Bob's religious faith, you're one sick puppy.

I can witness to you without any doubt that there does exist genuine religious faith that does not involve the belief that dropping bombs is the will of God."

I can, too. But I can also see that acting on that faith would suggest volunteering as a medic, or helping the medical community as it assists God's faithful as they wage a Just War (look it up) with those who would enslave you, me, Bob, and everyone else on this planet.

So, preventing groups like the Iranian mullahs from taking over the planet is no different than them? You're one sick puppy.

"Until you can show that "the left" is something outside your head, we would infer that it is an internal object."

I pity you. You must deny the existence of International ANSWER and EarthFirst, Noam Chomsky and Lynne Stewart, because to acknowledge the reality of their evil would melt your worldview.

Start the furnace. you have much work to do.

copithorne said...

Tat Tvam Asi is so 'garbled' that you can't understand it? We can't make it any more clear simple and plain than that. Not in this medium, anyway.

In traditions of religious faith we say that the teachings are like a mirror. You look and behold yourself.

It reminds me of a song...

Reach out your hand
if your cup is empty.
If your cup is full
may it be again.
Let it be known
there is a fountain
that was not made
by the hands of men

copithorne said...

hv, language is conditional. So, that's a safe assumption.

The word "soul" is not a soul.

psg, I guess I have seen the videos. Gagdad Bob asserts that he enjoys the contemplation of two five hundred pound bombs dropping on a house killing seven people including two women and perhaps a five year old girl. I can certainly understand that people with a particular theological perspective can appear to enjoy violence. How do people like Zarqawi and Gagdad Bob come to that appreciation?

I am familiar with the concept of a Just War. I understand it as a term from the Roman Catholic tradition. I haven't heard of a Catholic Bishop or theologian who thought the war in Iraq was just.

Are you afraid of being enslaved yourself? I would think you are not afraid and that you are using rhetoric. But if you are afraid, I would be interested in hearing about it. To me, I don't think that fear is very realistic.

The other people and groups whose 'evil' upsets you seem pretty powerless to me. Not worth the concern you give them. But if there are quotes or actions by these people that trouble you I'd be happy to talk about them with you.

jwm said...

Bob: you hired this guy, right? You figured that we needed a good game of whack-a-troll, so you paid ol' copithorne five bucks and a pint of 20/20 to sign on for everyone's amusement. Too funny! Get him fitted for a clown suit, my nephew has a birthday coming up.


jwm said...

Does he know all the words to "Truckin'"?


Gagdad Bob said...

Truly, Copithorne's level of cognitive and moral development speaks for itself. I cannot improve upon it. I will let him have the lost word.

ben usn (ret) said...

A moral relativist, with pacifistic leanings, who thinks everyone has a pure soul.
I believe in the exact opposite, which is why I take measures to support those who protect our country, and I exercise my liberty to protect my family and friends.
You see, Copithorne, there really is the compacity for man to commit evil.
Finding out the hard way isn't recommended.

karrde said...

Being the pedant that I am, I tried to figure out who Thomas Moore was so that I could understand the challenge better.

The candidates include an Irish poet, an American congressman, a British judge, founder of a theological college...or a modern psychologist and author.

But it doesn't matter much, it seems: the question isn't who Thomas Moore is, but what reality is.

It may be true that none of us has an undistorted image of reality taking residence in our heads. Whether or not this is true, the next question is "how much distortion is in the image I carry around in my head? What can I do to decrease that distortion?"

copithorne said...

Ben, I'm neither a moral relativist nor a pacifist. But I stand foursquare behind the idea that your soul is radiantly pure. I know it is.

It is sad that you feel that you and others are impure and evil. You will feel this way if you are identified with other parts of yourself, but these things are not true of your soul which is always pure and whole and always available.

The hard way of learning about the capacity for for man to commit evil is to commit evil oneself. May we all be vigilant against that possibility.

will said...

THE TROLL PRIMEVAL (inspired by Copi)

trolls come and go
like days of sun and days of snow -

one pictures them as tiny things
with crooked backs and insect wings -

and eyes that roll like a drunkard's moon,
and florid breath, aye, one could swoon -

from whence they come? well, no one knows,
but a school of thought says: from Black Holes!

with their clamminess and dark thought ramble-ly,
some think they're of the mushroom family,

that they grow in forests where the sun is nil
and sprout small legs eventually, but still

others think that their rife debasement
means they were conjured in some voodoo basement -

each theory has merits I must entertain
for as we have noticed, as they appear yet again,

all of them, down to the last nutter
is as though designed by cookie-cutter:

the garbling, the syntax, the fever of brain . . .
the notions themselves - they're all the same!

what if - no, it cannot be -
yet they bend the mind towards conspiracy

most foul and thoughts all undone
for what if there's not many a troll . . but one!

Aye, one massive troll, always in flux,
the size of one of those Monster Rally Trucks -

let's say it lives in the death valley gloom,
because, c'mon, who's going to rent it a room?

it's got glowing red eyes and giggles a lot
as it squats huge over its cowering lap top

as it posts its dribble and nonsensical spume
under one of many a nom d' plume,

be it "Copi" or "Benedict", the dithering fuss
(when the troll is drunk, it's default "anonymous")

and when the troll shifts buttocks on the dried up rivers,
somewhere a Richter needle shivers -

all right, OK, this is only a guess -
perhaps I need an aspirin and a good eve of rest -

but when the hour is wee and the lights dim,
and your thoughts begin to churn grim,

you'll wonder if the fluttering leaves
aren't really fat massive fingers working the keys -

but enough! you all have your own memes -
goodnite, sleep well - and oh yes - sweet dreams!

Tusar N Mohapatra said...

And therefore, THE LIFE DIVINE is the last word. The nemesis of confusion and delusion. Further, there is SAVITRI. So, start reading and stop worrying.

will said...

Heh, perfect.

Ever get the feeling life is a comic strip?

Hoarhey said...

>>"The hard way of learning about the capacity for for man to commit evil is to commit evil oneself. May we all be vigilant against that possibility."<<

Another hard and often foolish way is standing around with twiddling thumbs until the evil is (back) at the doorstep. Thank God there are men and women who are a bit more visionary, who recognize and are willing to go deal with that evil before it gets to your doorway. Your relative peace in this place on this earth is payed for with the blood of your superiors. Pristine soul or not.

Hoarhey said...

You tryin' to drum up some bidness?

ben usn (ret) said...

Thank you Hoary, for that splendid reply to a pacifist philosophy.
Your words say otherwise.
Your new age idea that all souls are
pure doesn't wash with me.
There is original sin, or the fall, that clearly shows that man cannot redeem himself.
If we could, there would be perfect people.
We can't have a pure soul, without God.
We must repent (turn away) before God.
Men such as Zarqawi are the extreme example of how men can sear their consciounce, and not only do evil, but become evil.
There is no way that those kind of subhuman monsters can possibly have pure souls.

Dan Spomer said...


I thoroughly enjoyed the thought of Zarqawi and gang ending up on the business side of a couple of 500 lb. JDAMs.

I am also tickled beyond belief at the thought of his "posse" ending up as ceiling spackle.

I am saddened at the death of his wife- a 16 year old girl- but only because I see a child that never really had a chance being raised in such a horrid belief system.

I am pleased as punch to continually witness the application of precise yet massive force to jihadists of all stripes and color.

I am also proud of the fact that of all the countries on earth, I happen to live in the one that provides a stretcher and medical assistance to enemies who were trying to kill Americans just moments before.

In short, take your moral relativism and shove it. The way I see it, it's really quite simple: you are either for us or against us.

What I CAN'T understand is how the left can't see the plain truth that THEY are higher on the jihadists' target list than me. It just boggles the mind.

End of confession. But I have no idea what that makes me. A warmonger? A neo-con? A crusader? No matter.

I can still spot evil LONG before the left can. I guess I'd refer to that as a "survival skill" on my part and a fatal evolutionary flaw on theirs.

reality based skeptic said...

here's where critics have trouble with your "analysis of reality"

your wrote on June 10:

"That leaves at least seventy percent of the population generally spiritually adrift and untouched by religious truth. How to reach them? For whatever reason, they have lost contact with the natural simplicity and nobility of their souls, so religion properly so-called no longer speaks to them. Thus they drift into hedonism or its twin sister, new-age spiritualism, with no grounding in the intrinsic meaning provided by authentic revelation and grace. ...

but the great middling masses--leftist dominated academia, the creators and purveyors of popular culture, media elites in the MSMistry of Truth--entirely miss the boat in this regard. They are just intelligent enough to reject religion but not intelligent enough to understand it, and they obviously exercise a huge, dominant influence over the culture at large. How to win that battle?"

But the highly respected pew forum on religion and public life ( finds that 43% of americans attend worship sevices regularly, 32% often and 25% rarely and that only 7.5% self describe themselves as secular and 3.2% as agnostic,

So, logically thinking, those of us raised in the world of reality would ask:

are the vast majority of the 75% of the population often or regularly attending worship services spiritually addrift ?

out of the 90% of the population that do not self describe as agnostic or secular really buying the truth of the MSMinisters and not the ministers at the religious services they so often attend ?

why is the secular agnostic elite so unsuccessful in adding adherents to its secular agnostic doctrine, depite their control of the media and academe ?

just some reality based ?s for you based on hard data. Unless you have better empirical data that the Pew Center. If so, please post the source.

Jenny said...

Bob, you're the sane one. You are right on about how you view the left. They have some kind of mental blind spot. Kind of blew me away when I first realized a few years ago how large of a divide there is between their reality and ours.

This kind of "blindness" is also mentioned in the Bible. Supposedly it'll get worse and worse until eventually it will be almost impossible for anyone to believe in God. You can see them trying to wipe out God as we speak. Society will become so monstrous and without direction people will lose all hope. There will be attempted suicides on a massive scale, but people will be unable to kill themselves. I'm thinking they will be unable to kill themselves because medicine will be so advanced we'll have microbot implants or something that will immediately go to work to heal any attack against the body. So we have a ways to go yet. I have a feeling we are living in the last days of innocence tho.

Anonymous said...

Yes Jenny, you're right,

That 10% of the population that is agnostic or secular is wiping out god everywhere in america and the 90% that are believers are just so paralyzed by shock and fear that they can't react.

It's a good thing we have some folk like you fighting the good and lonely fight !!!

copithorne said...

Ben, I'll still disagree with you when you say that your soul is not pure. Even if you don't feel like you are with God, I assure you that God is with you.

The Doctrine of Original Sin is not a description of the soul.

copithorne said...

When people resort to sarcasm and name calling it means they've lost the debate of reasons and arguments and that the ideas being defended are the operation of pscyhological defenses rather than the result of a free inquiry into truth.

It was Gagdad's choice to go all in on this one saying that there are two versions of reality at stake, but only one can be right. Then, he had to fold his hand.

Jenny said...

No, Copithorne, it's just that we know when we're talking to a brick wall and how useless it is.