Monday, May 08, 2006

Cosmic War I

I’m very pressed for time this morning and undoubtedly don’t have enough time to say what I wanted to say. Once again, the idea occurred to me on a whim, after leaving a comment on American Digest in response to Van der Leun's piece about the left’s meltdown upon hearing George Bush refer to the war on terror as ”World War III”.

Remember the other day, I made reference to Bion’s idea about “attacks on linking,” in which the individual dismantles the thinking process so as to be unable to recognize truth? The left’s reaction to the President’s statement is a fine example. In order to not perceive the simple truth that we are in a world war--if for no other reason than our enemies are in a global war with us--the mind must unconsciously “attack” any evidence that leads to that conclusion. Thus, it may look like President Bush is being attacked, but he is incidental to the deeper process of attacking and dismantling a reality that the left does not wish to see.

Anyway, in response to the piece, I impulsively typed the comment, “I realize that it's not fashionable to say so, but it's actually the denouement of Cosmic War I.” That is, we divide history into this or that war, but if we truly stand back and take a “martian’s eye view” of the situation, and try to look at history from without rather than within, we can see that this is so. In reality, human history has been just one long battle.

There are two ways of looking at this, one way rather pessimistic, the other way more optimistic. The pessimistic view is that there is something innate--perhaps even genetic--that makes human beings love war. There is this romantic notion that deep down human beings are gentle and peace-loving noble savages, but I presented some of the latest research in my book explaining how this is not the case. Rather, primitive groups were actually much more violent than we are. It’s just that the violence took place on such a small scale, that it’s not as noticeable.

In his book Constant Battles, archaeologist Steven LeBlanc noted that the “cruel and ugly” truth is that in traditional societies an average of twenty-five percent of the men died from warfare. Anthropologist Lawrence Keeley, in his War Before Civilization, noted that “Whenever modern humans appear on the scene, definitive evidence of homicidal violence becomes more common.... If anything, peace was a scarcer commodity... than for the average citizen of a civilized state.”

Indeed, LeBlanc writes that the homicide rate of some prehistoric villages would have been 1400 times that of modern Britain and about 70 times that of the United States in 1980. Although roughly 100 million people died from all war-related causes in the twentieth century, Keeley estimated that this figure is twenty times smaller than the losses that might have resulted if the world’s population were still organized into bands, tribes and chiefdoms.

Keep that last figure in mind in considering the nature of World War III---or what I believe is Cosmic War I. At the moment, our enemies are limited to killing only as many as they can. But what if they were only limited by how many they wanted to kill? I think you get Keeley’s point. The primitives with whom we are at war are limited only by the means, not the will. We, on the other hand, are not limited by our means, but by our will. If any of you read that gruesome story this weekend about the beheaded Iraqi journalist, it is hard to imagine that our enemies would repeat this infinitely evil act upon millions and millions of people if only they could. And yet, they would--to you, your children, anyone they could get their hands on

Because of “attacks on linking,” we are not even allowed to think about the possibility of using nukes against Iran, because that would be "too cruel." But should Iran obtain nuclear weapons, I imagine the only thing that might stop them from using them is that they would not be cruel enough.

Well, I’m really running short of time. What I really wanted to discuss was the nature of Cosmic War I, but I see that Van der Leun has beat me to the punch anyway. His wonderful essay this morning, Clear History, touches on many of the themes I might have if I had had the time. He captures the pan-historical sweep of the war we are engaged in, whereas I barely have time to spiel-check what I’ve just spieled.

One more thing--I mentioned that there is an "optimistic" way of looking at the cosmic war we are engaged in. Van der Leun implicitly touches on this, but unfortunatley I am flat out of time, so it will have to wait until tomorrow.

*****

Good thing it's only a hammer.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Vindicating the Sixties: Throwing Out the Babies With the Bong Water

Nothing happened in the sixties except that we all dressed up. --John Lennon

When I write my posts in the morning, I just start writing--or typing, anyway. When I begin, I have no idea whether the topic that has chosen me will actually sustain an entire post, much less round itself out with a nice beginning, middle and end. But somehow, it usually does. I’m starting to realize that by working in this more spontaneous way I come up with better things than I could have if I had relied upon my conscious mind to think things out in advance.

Today is a case in point. I have just the germ of an idea that popped into my head yesterday, but I have no idea if I will be able to flesh it out into an entire post. It’s as if I picked up the end of a thread. If I follow it, will it lead anywhere? Or is it just a worthless piece of string? I guess we’ll find out. Petey will let us know.

The idea occurred to me while writing about the “seven deadly sins,” and associating these with a lot of the nonsense that was unleashed in the 1960’s: “Ideas have consequences, bad ideas as much as good ones. And toxic ideas that are hatched in the high country of the mind have a way of flowing downhill, trickling into the rivers, streams and creeks below.... One of the central psycho-spiritual ‘mind parasites’ that infected all of the water in the 1960’s was the idea that our outward, civilized personalities are inauthentic. Rather, the ‘real you’ is that repressed id, your undisguised animal drives and passions.... You can see just how pervasive this attitude has become. It gets to the heart of the ‘culture war,’ one side celebrating ‘authenticity’ and its close cousin, ‘attitude,’ the other side wishing to preserve traditional standards of excellence and decency.”

The problem here is that I consider myself a full-blooded “child of the sixties,” and I did not take away the above lesson. For just as there was an obvious shadow side of the 1960’s, the very presence of the shadow must indicate that there was light somewhere. In my case, I believe I absorbed a lot of the light, but instinctively rejected the darkness.

I think a lot of it has to do with my age. Most people would situate the “long 1960’s” between the date of JFK’s assassination in November of 1963, when I was just eight years old, and Nixon’s resignation in August of 1974, when I was still nineteen. Interestingly, Rudolf Steiner says that we do not become completely “ensouled” until around the age of nine, from which point on we have a more or less continuous recollection of our past. Before that, our memories are usually somewhat spotty.

That’s certainly how it was for me. My conscious mind started coming “on line” at exactly the same time that the 1960’s really got underway. I was still eight years old when I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964, which for me was that “Wizard of Oz” moment when the world suddenly turned from black and white to color. I was just 11 during the “Summer of Love” (way too young to do anything about it but enjoy the spectacle), 12 when King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, 13 for Woodstock (thus greatly enjoying drugs without ever having actually tried any at that point), 14 for Kent State, and 17 when the draft ended, making for a particularly carefree senior year of high school. I was really not aware of the ugly politics of the era, except as a sort of dramatic backdrop. From my vantage point, it just looked like a lot of people trying to have fun vs. a lot of people trying to stop them from having it.

It is impossible to convey to someone who wasn’t there the importance of the Beatles. For me and for all of my friends, they were so far beyond music--they were like magicians or religious figures. There was simply no way that anything else in life could compete with them--not school and certainly not religion. By comparison--with the exception of sports--everything else in the adult world seemed comparatively “dead.” They seemed to be the only grown-ups who “got it” and were having fun. It’s as if they had seen through the cosmic joke.

You see this in the early press conferences, with the stiff, unhip, and clueless reporters--just like today--asking their inane questions. But instead of taking them seriously, the Beatles just made fun of them--not in the obnoxious, angry, profane, or self-righteous way that celebrities do today, but with wit and charm. The Beatles ran circles around them, but the reporters didn’t even know what was happening. It is obvious by their condescending attitude that they thought themselves superior to the Beatles, but the Beatles never responded in kind. They simply toyed with them and used them as props.

I suppose what bothers me is that the Left considers itself the heir to the 1960’s, when they are the actually the same clueless and tedious people who didn’t get it then and don’t get it now. We saw it just the other day with their reaction to the Stephen Colbert routine at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Bush, in the best irreverent Beatles-Monty Python tradition, ran circles around the clueless establishment press, but was followed by the scolding and sanctimonious Colbert, who threw water on the proceedings by being even more establishment than the conformist establishment press: the angry head sheep of leftist flockthink.

I suppose that’s the central issue: who is the repressive establishment, and who are the liberating revolutionaries? Who are the fun-loving, life-affirming bob vivants, and who are the sour, dogmatic, angry, no-fun-allowed crowd? Put it this way: have you ever read anything the least bit witty on dailykurse or huffingtonpissed? Of course not. Again, these are the same people I have objected to since 1964. One of the reasons I enjoy National Review so much is that it is so funny. But leftists, as usual, never get the joke. I subscribed to The Nation back in the 1980's, and I don't remember a single witty or lighthearted comment. It was like Katrina van der Heuvel with PMS, if that's not redundant.

I am not one of those people who believe that political labels mean nothing, but they can be quite confusing. For example, in my lifetime, the word “liberal” has gone from meaning “liberal” to now meaning “illiberal.” In point of fact--with the exception of a relatively brief flirtation with true leftism while in graduate school in the 1980’s--I am the same liberal I’ve always been. It’s just that now classical liberalism is called “conservatism.” Don’t get me wrong--don’t confuse “conservatism” with “Republicanism.” Furthermore, there are certain annoying strands of conservatism that I don’t relate to at all. It’s just that if you are a classical liberal, there is no longer a place for you in the Democratic party, which is now a leftist, not liberal, party.

One of the great insights of psychoanalysis is that the surface structure---the conscious mind--might change, but the deeper structure of the unconscious endures and “calls the shots.” Now, one result of the 1960’s is that we do in fact have much more freedom in terms of lifestyle--sexual freedom, educational freedom, occupational freedom. There really is no limit to one’s lifestyle choices today, especially as compared to previous generations of Americans.

But this outward freedom can be deceptive, for if we are not inwardly free, then we will simply have a greater range of options with which to express our unconscious enslavement. What’s that, Petey? Yes, Petey says that the rest of this post is probably worthless, but that this is a key point, so I’ll say it again in a different way: the left confuses license with liberty, and resents any effort to link freedom and transcendence. In short, they want only more horizontal freedom with which to act out their mind parasites in good conscience.

Take the case of that all-purpose lowlife, Madonna, who, if you major in “Women’s Studies,” you will learn was a great liberator of female sexuality. But in reality, she’s just a pathetically sick soul, acting out her psychopathology for all the world to see. However, 100 years ago, she wouldn’t have had the freedom to act out her pathology in this way--much less be celebrated for it. Instead, she would have undoubtedly been a frustrated housewife or garden variety hysteric with strange physical symptoms as a result of “sexual repression.”

Today, unlike 100 years ago, psychotherapy is available to help such individuals resolve these issues. But at the same time, people are much more free to simply act out their conflicts and fixations in a multitude of unhealthy ways. Thus, nothing has changed for such a person. Although they do indeed have more “freedom,” the freedom is simply squandered, for freedom that does not converge on something higher is meaningless. People were also much thinner in the past, but that is only because less food was available. Calling Madonna sexaully “free” is like calling an obese person “healthy,” just because there are so many more ways to be fat today.

(By the way, it is the same way with religion. In the past, religious a-holes only had religion through which to express their repressive religiosity. Now they have so many other means available--atheism, materialim, leftism, scientism, feminism, Marxism, existentialism, etc.)

Obviously, freedom itself cannot be the goal of freedom, for that is a nonsensical tautology. But for the left, it is. This is why most leftist “liberation” movements quickly devolve into the liberation of one’s own inner slave master to further enslave them. Thus, the feminist movement has nothing to do with truly valuing femininity or allowing a woman to truly become herself in the deepest sense. In order to do that, you must specifically rebel against feminist dogma. Likewise, “sexual liberation” hardly leads to anything beyond self-indulgence. The civil rights movement which began with such noble ideals quickly became nothing more than an entrenched establishment platform for venal ethnic lobbying and special consideration. This reached another new low last week, with the massive criminal marches all over the U.S. Why does the left relate to these entitled narcissists? Oh, that’s why.

This comes back to Polanyi’s vital distinction between the open and the free society, which I discussed a couple of days ago. As a result of the 1960’s, we have much more freedom--which is all to the good--but also much more openness--which is bad. For the free society uses its freedom to aim at something higher. Paradoxically, freedom actually binds us in the same way that truth does. That is, since we live in a free society, we are free to discover truth. But if truth actually exists, isn’t that a contradiction in terms? In other words, while we may freely discover truth, we are, at the same time, bound by the truth so discovered.

We are also radically free to discover lies and even to live them. But what kind of freedom is that? Doesn’t real freedom imply acquiescence to reality, whatever reality is?

Because we live in freedom, we are free to discover the truth of ourselves. But for the left, our freedom is confused with relativism, and that is again the key point. For once you place freedom above truth, you have converted freedom itself to a massive lie and to another form of enslavement.

Let’s bookend this post with another quote from John Lennon, who said, “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination." This is exactly right, but it all depends on what you mean by the term “imagination.” For as applied to spirituality, imagination is a term of art, not to be confused with the lower, dreamlike imagination. This lower form of imagination is somnolent, passive, and present in beasts. Much spiritual warfare specifically involves the struggle against this hypnotic state in which most human beings will spend their entire lives. The noetic use of imagination is oriented in a direction diametrically opposed to this, and involves actively gathering and assimilating forces and influences emanating from a higher world, not the lower one. Dwelling in religious symbolism is specifically a way to imaginatively engage in pure intellection of higher realites.

So reality does leave a lot to the imagination, if by reality you mean the mere horizontal wasteland where we are enslaved by our meaningless freedom. “Imagine there’s no heaven, it isn’t hard to do.” Indeed. Nothing above and no one below--except for those who believe there is something above. They're the lowest, because they remind the rebellious ego of the illusory, shadow side of freedom.

*****

Who am I? One hand on my entitlement, the other hand hammering away at the foundations.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Classical Mind Parasitology: The Seven Deadly Sins (or Seven F***ing Awesome Virtues)

In the latter times the man of virtue appears vile. --Tao Te Ching

After my recent post on the envy of the left, a number of readers suggested that I do a series on the other “deadly sins.” One reader in particular observed that the left not only rejects the entire concept of sin--much less “deadly sins”--but that they actually seem to elevate these sins to virtues. Before even thinking it through, I knew that the reader was right. Just one of those instantaneous insights provided by Petey.

As a matter of fact, in the past, several readers have asked me if it might be possible to correlate my concept of “mind parasites” with the deadly sins. I said “sure,” even though I had never thought that out either. But if two things are true, then they can’t contradict each other, even if they might appear to on the surface.

It reminds me of when I was frantically trying to finish my book exactly two years ago. The deadline was approaching, and at the last minute I had disassembled the entire last chapter and was in the process of trying to put it back together again. I was trying to come up with a suitable ending, and I thought to myself, “why not show how the Ten Commandments and the Upanishads, understood esoterically, convey the identical perennial psychospiritual know-how to serious seekers? Call them the ten ‘Commanishads’ or ‘Upanishalts.’”

As soon as I thought of it, I knew that it was possible. But I needed help. At the time, I happened to be on a plane flying back from New York to L.A. I was on the right plane, because I needed a rabbi in a hurry. Normally I’m not the kind of guy who just walks up to to a total stranger and introduces himself, but something came over me.

I had seen this guy enter the plane, and if he wasn’t a rabbi, then he was hardcore Orthodox, and that was good enough for me. I walked down the aisle to where he was sitting, absently flipping through a magazine, and blurted out, “are you a rabbi?” He seemed a little disconcerted at first, but he could see that I wasn't Arab and I explained to him that this was a spiritual emergency and that I needed some immediate assistance. He didn’t know anything about the Upanishads, but when I mentioned that some people believe that “Abraham” and “Brahman” might be etymologically related, he was intrigued. I have no idea if that’s true, but at least it got the conversation going. I knew we were on the same wavelength when he started his discourse by saying that the first five commandments have to do with man’s relationship to God, while the second five govern man’s relationship to man. “Hey, vertical and horizontal! You 'da mensch!” And now you know the rest of the story.

So anyway, at the moment I am in need of priest or a Jesuit. Not having one around, I’ll just have to do my best to cobble this together with the assistance of Petey, who, like Muhammad, has passing, if often rather garbled, acquaintance with many other traditions.

“The Greek monastic theologian Evagrius of Pontus first drew up a list of eight offenses and wicked human passions. They were, in order of increasing seriousness: gluttony, lust, avarice, sadness, anger, acedia, vainglory, and pride. Evagrius saw the escalating severity as representing increasing fixation with the self, with pride as the most egregious of the sins. Acedia... denoted ‘spiritual sloth.’

“In the late 6th century, Pope Gregory reduced the list to seven, folding vainglory into pride, acedia into sadness, and adding envy. His ranking of the Sins' seriousness was based on the degree from which they offended against love. It was, from most serious to least: pride, envy, anger, sadness, avarice, gluttony, and lust. Later theologians, including St. Thomas Aquinas, would contradict the notion that the seriousness of the sins could be ranked in this way. The term ‘covetousness’ has historically been used interchangeably with ‘avarice’ in accounts of the Deadly Sins. In the seventeenth century, the Church replaced the vague sin of ‘sadness’ with ‘sloth.’”

So first we have to decide which system we’re going to use. I think it makes sense to merge vainglory and pride, and we certainly want to keep envy in the mix. But I think we lose something by conflating sadness and acedia. In fact, sadness belongs to a special category, since there are definitely times that it is self-indulgent (more often than you would think), other times when it is clearly a clinical condition outside the person’s control. So I’ll go with pride, envy, anger, acedia (encompassing sloth), avarice, gluttony, and lust.

Bill Clinton is adored by the left. In fact, in his new book, Manliness, Harvey Mansfield calls him “the envy of vulgar men.” How true. For Clinton embodies so many of these sins as character traits, including pride, gluttony, lust, and acedia, while Mrs. Clinton complements him and rounds out the mix with anger and envy. As a team they are quite nakedly avaricious, certainly for power. Thus, a complete set. The perfect liberal couple.

For me, what immediately comes to mind in attempting to correlate the deadly sins with mind parasites is the theoretical system of the great psychoanalyst R.D. Fairbairn. Here again, his ideas, like those of Michael Polanyi discussed yesterday, are so simple, and yet profound and far reaching. For Fairbairn was the first psychoanalyst to move away from Freud’s “drive model” of the unconscious, to an interpersonal and intersubjective model that now goes by the name of “object relations.” The nomenclature is confusing, because in Freud’s model, the “object” refers to the aim of an instinct--for example, the instinct of hunger seeks out the breast as its object.

But Fairbairn turned this theoretical formulation on its head, and regarded the object as primary, not something we seek simply for the purposes of instinctual release. In other words, we come into the world human beings and not just animals. As such, from the moment we’re born---and probably in the womb as well--we primarily seek relationships, not with “objects” but with other subjects. Therefore, it would have been less confusing if the new theory had been called “subject relations,” but what can you do? Just as early Christians went to great pains to link their new theology with the more established and venerable tradition of Judaism, Fairbairn didn’t want to appear too radical, and wanted to demonstrate the continuity with the established orthodoxy of Vienna.

Freud actually developed two different models of the mind, first the topographical (conscious, preconscious and unconscious), later the structural (id, ego and superego). But in each case, the implicit assumption was that human beings were fundamentally animals with a veneer of civilization on top. In order to be civilized, we had to repress and sublimate our animal instincts (the id), while internalizing the sometimes arbitrary restrictions of civilization (the superego). (I’m simplifying and streamlining things for the sake of moving the argument along.)

Now interestingly, Freud was immediately seized upon by the Marxist left as an adjunct to their diagnosis of human alienation, especially in the 1950’s and 1960’s, in the form of very popular (but now completely irrelevant) thinkers such as Herbert Marcuse (e.g. Eros and Civilization) and Norman O. Brown (Life Against Death). These vulgarizations were not really fair to Freud, who was both a genius and a subtle and hard-headed thinker who would have been deeply skeptical of their left-wing utopian nonsense.

But ideas have consequences, bad ideas as much as good ones. And toxic ideas that are hatched in the high country of the mind have a way of flowing downhill, trickling into the rivers, streams and creeks below. So one of the central psycho-spiritual “mind parasites” that infected all of the water in the 1960’s was the idea that our outward, civilized personalities are inauthentic. Rather, the “real you” is that repressed id, your undisguised animal drives and passions: “If it feels good, do it.” “Love the one you’re with.” “Do your thing.” Why don't we do it in the road?" “It’s my life, and I’ll do what I want.” "Looking out for number one." (There were so many others, but I can’t think of them at the moment. However, the lesson was obvious to all who heard it: express yourself and let your freak-flag fly!)

I think you can see just how pervasive this attitude has become. It gets to the heart of the “culture war,” one side celebrating “authenticity” and its close cousin, “attitude,” the other side wishing to preserve traditional standards of excellence and decency. In fact, this is where it is almost impossible to even have a meaningful conversations with someone who has been contaminated by the toxic water of the vulgar Freudians: So what if Janet Jackson exposed her breast on national TV! She was just expressing herself! So what if Bill Clinton was serviced by an intern in the oval office! At least he’s not a hypocrite!

Here we truly do see a monstrous moral inversion at the heart of the left, in which our animal nature is exalted above our higher human strivings, while the realm of the truly human is devalued and denigrated as hypocrisy. This, by the way, is why there is so much cursing on the left. It seems like a small thing, but it’s not. On most any left-wing blog, you will see that they can rarely express themselves without cursing, as profanity is a sort of “stamp of authenticity.”

Now the truth of the matter is that pervasive cursing is a helpful shorthand that allows us to discern those people who are incapable of expressing themselves without it. Therefore, we needn’t take them seriously. As one blogger expressed it today on huffingtonpissed, “If you don’t like obscenity, you don’t like the truth.” What he means is, “I’m so angry I can’t even express it, but you will know the emotional truth of my omnipotent anger by my profanity.”

In fact, there is another story there of Madonna’s recent performance last weekend, she being the poster child for barbaric crudity masquerading as daring and courageous authenticity. “During an energetic rendition of her song I Love New York, Madonna roared, ‘Just go to Texas and suck George Bush's d**k.’”

Of course, I suppose it could be argued that she is simply extolling the virtue of thoroughness to her fans, since even Madonna can't be everywhere, and Bush’s is one the few that she personally overlooked.

Well, with that, I’ve run flat out of time. More tomorrow on Fairbairn, sins, virtues, mind parasites and the left.

*****

"Mmmmm,shiny.... I want, therefore I am."

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Yes, You're Offensive. No, I'm Not Offended.

Apparently my little Cosmos has been reduced to one remaining leftist who is hanging by a thread. I’m going to continue yesterday’s post on my problems with leftism, despite the fact that there is apparently no way to say what I want to say without being offensive. I’m not sure why what I wrote yesterday was offensive, except perhaps to Jimmy Carter. After all, I was only analyzing the situation at the most abstract, ontological level. Nobody expects to lure someone into a food fight by saying, “dude, your ontology sucks."

I personally am not easily offended by hearing viewpoints with which I disagree, not because I don’t think the viewpoints are offensive, but because the emotional state of being offended gives one no “added value,” and in fact, is almost always detrimental to one’s spiritual well-being. You see, being offended is one of the tricks the ego uses to justify itself. The ego secretly enjoys and gets a thrill out of being offended. When you are in this state, the ego achieves a false sense of nobility by elevating itself above whatever it happens to be offended about. Most "activists" are people who perversely enjoy being offended--it's like an addiction to the ego.

Thus, the most low, common, and coarse individual can feel better than others by being in a semi-permanent state of offense, as you will have no doubt noticed that the left tends to be in. If you take away “being offended,” what’s left of the left? Just listen, if you can tolerate it, to Air America, or read Dailykos or the New York Times editorial page. They are “all offended, all the time.” Indeed, we are now in the midst of World War III because a bunch of religious fanatics are chronically offended, whether it's angry jihadis in Khartoum or jihadis angry about a cartoon.

Think of people like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Howard Dean, Cynthia McKinney--again, all angry all the time. But does this anger in any way correlate with exemplary character? Hardly. Look at Ronald Reagan. Did you ever see him gratuitously angry and offended? Or George Bush, who has been the subject of constant bile, vilification and hatred for six years. Does he ever respond in kind? Of course not. He is a gallant man. Most of all, he’s a man. A man does not behave like a hysterical woman. If you have to shoot someone, you just shoot them. You don’t first wallow and indulge in the state of being offended. As Churchill said, if you have to kill a man, it costs you nothing to be polite.

Last night I saw this play out in real time at the White House correspondents dinner. After a truly hilarious and self-effacing bit by President Bush and a Bush impersonator, on came comedian Stephen Colbert with his razor-sharp sledgehammer. Since politics is their religion, the left politicizes everything, and this evening was no exception. Colbert’s bit was so mean-spirited that it mostly drew awkward silence. He had absolutely no sense of the occasion, the purpose of which is to drop partisan politics just once a year and laugh at ourselves. I checked out dailykos afterwards, and they were lauding Colbert for courageously “speaking truth to power.” Speaking truth to power? At a comedy dinner? When the president is already mocking himself? It was the Wellstone/Coretta Scott King funeral all over again. Is it a lack of class or just a sort of autistic inability to read the emotional tone of the situation? It’s both, but I would suggest that the underlying mechanism is the state of being offended, which allows one to lash out and falsely ennoble the ego.

Speaking of low and coarse character, Alec Baldwin is an excellent case in point. Like most of Hollywood, he is drawn to the anger of leftism because it allows him to elevate his vulgar and boorish personality above those with whom he disagrees. Thus his utterances, as is true of so much of the left, are “content free.” The point is that he is higher and you (if you see things a bit differently) are lower:

“America is in trouble... We have a weak, unintelligent, incompetent President, a lying, thieving, diabolical Vice-president, an ineffective intelligence operation and a Congress made up of Republican lapdogs... Everything we stand for is under assault in this country, and not from some outside force. Our rights, liberties and economic security are threatened by the Republican party as it operates today... Distort. Cover up. Make excuses. No plan for change. No hope for an end to the disarray, futility and loss of lives, both American and Iraqi, under current US foreign policy... We live in a society of extremely hardworking people. Those people pay taxes. Those taxes, when raked into a pile, make a very big pile, and that money is used to float an extraordinary standard of living. It is also used to maintain a military whose might and reach are beyond compare.... [W]e'll turn around and America, in the domestic policy sense, in the civil liberties sense, might be unrecognizable. And we'll wonder if all of this was worth it. We'll wonder what happened to that great country that was so worth fighting for.”

By inference--which is the whole point of this ego-driven diatribe--this smart-aleck Baldwin is strong, intelligent, competent, honest, giving, angelic, peace-loving, courageous, guileless, hard working, and on the side of all that is decent, just like George Clooney, Tim Robbins, Barbara Streisand, Richard Dreyfuss, and all the rest of the Hollywoodenheads.

Angry? Obviously. Stupid? Of course. Vacuous? Naturally? Offensive? Quite. But am I offended? No, not at all. Being offended just detracts from the clarity required to see how stupid and offensive the man is. Hopefully, Kim Basinger didn’t sit around for too long being offended by his physical abuse and verbal bullying. She simply showed him the mansion door. It costs you nothing to be polite in telling a man that if he comes as close to you as the next county, the authorities will pounce on him like a leftist on a bombastic phrase.

Because of the way we’re built, we tend to assume that the other person matches our own emotional intensity when we are very angry at them. This is why children become frightened of the person with whom they are angry. If the child is chronically angry toward his parents, as an adult he may become chronically frightened of people in general, and often even lash out at them in a preemptory manner--shoot first and ask questions later. Anger will trigger fear and reprisal.

This is actually the basis of paranoia, for the paranoid mind converts fear into anger and anger to fear. One of the most important elements of paranoia is how it affects cognition. In other words, it is not just the content of the paranoid mind, but its process, which is troublesome.

That is, the paranoid mind engages in a caricature of thought, in which they carefully scan the environment for confirmation of the paranoid thought or idea. This has nothing whatsoever to do with intelligence. For example, Noam Chomsky may well be a genius, and yet, if you read his political works, he certainly comes across quite literally as a clinical paranoid. All of his considerable intelligence is marshaled in the effort to confirm his preordained paranoid beliefs, in an absolutely closed loop. In turn, Chomsky becomes the intellectual axis, the bull goose loony around which other, far less intelligent paranoids of the Dailykos/Huffington variety orient themselves through the magic of his authority.

Every clinician knows that you cannot argue with a paranoid. Doing so immediately raises their paranoid defenses, and they will simply incorporate you into their delusions. You must not be offended. Rather, you must lay back, remain noncommittal, and almost use a Socratic, "rope-a-dope" method in dealing with them. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to do this on a national level. In other words, you can do it with an individual, but what do you do when mass paranoia has gripped an entire political party?

The philosopher Michael Polanyi drew a sharp distinction between what he called a "free society" and an "open society," using the practice of science to illustrate his point. A truly free society does not merely consist of everyone believing whatever they want. Science, for example, is a free and spontaneous intellectual order that is nevertheless based on a distinctive set of beliefs about the world, through which the diverse actions of individual scientists are coordinated. Like the cells in your body, individual scientists simply independently go about their business, and yet, progress is made because their activities are channeled by the pursuit of real truth.

In contrast, in a merely "open" society, there is no such thing as transcendent truth, perception is reality, and everyone is free to think and do as he pleases, with no objective standard by which to to judge it. This kind of "bad freedom" eventually ramifies into the cognitively pathological situation we now see on the left, especially as it manifests in its pure form in academia (the liberal arts, not the sciences).

Intitially, the politically correct assault on the existence of objective truth seems liberating, as we are freed from the dictates of arbitrary authority. However, the whole idea of the individual pursuit of truth was a deeply liberal project, since truth was not accepted a priori but was subject to criticism and logical or empirical demonstration. But with deconstruction--the Swiss army knife of the intellectual left--the entire concept of truth is undermined, so there is no way to arbitrate between competing notions of reality.

Therefore, whoever has the power may enforce their version of reality, which is what political correctness is all about: Truth is arbitrary, but you had better believe my version, or be branded a bigot, or a homophobe, or a white male oppressor! One more reason why contemporary liberalism is deeply illiberal. Their ideas cannot be argued on the merits, so they are enforced by the illegitimate authority of political correctness. If you are on the left, you are probably not aware of this bullying pressure. If you are on the right, you feel it all the time--cognitive “stop signs” that impede you from uttering certain truths in public for fear of triggering offense. The easily offended person is also a passive-aggressively controlling person--hardly a victim, but an aggressor.

Thus, the deep structure of the left-right divide in this country goes beyond the secular vs. religious worldview. A purely secular society is an open society, where all points of view, no matter how dysfunctional, are equally valued (e.g., multiculturalism and moral relativism), whereas a truly free society must be rooted in something permanent and transcendent. It doesn't necessarily have to come from religion, although it inevitably leads in that direction. Mainly, in order to be truly free, one must acknowledge a source of truth that is independent of man, an antecedent reality that is perceived by the intellect, not the senses. Miraculously, our founders knew that the self-evident religious truths that constrain us actually set us free.

You may note that this has direct relevance for the current debate between strict constructionists vs. the notion of a "living constitution." In reality, strict adherence to the constitution results in increased freedom and democracy, while the "living constitution" quickly devolves into judicial tyranny. If you enjoy playing blackjack, your freedom is not really enhanced if the dealer can either hit or stand on 16, depending on his interpretation of the living rules of blackjack.

*****

"I'm not offended. Just go away."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Left and Right: What You See is What You Beget

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. --2 Corinthians 3:17

I’m going to attempt yet one more time to explain as clearly as possible the philosophical, metaphysical, and spiritual basis of my opposition to leftism. I realize that I (apparently) have some left-leaning readers, for which I am grateful, and by no means do I intend to be needlessly inflammatory or offensive. Please again bear in mind that I am not talking about this or that issue or person, but about a primordial error--lie, really--that I believe is at the heart of leftism.

Furthermore, please remember that I am not talking about “Republicans” and “Democrats.” These are political parties, not philosophies. More often than not, in terms of specific policies and practical matters, one party is no better than the other because their primary mutual concern is always power, self-preservation, and votes. This is why we are often powerless to enact polices even when there is overwhelming support among the citizenry: reducing the size of government, simplifying the tax code, ridding ourselves of illegal immigrants, shunning the U.N., promoting school choice, etc.

The principles I will be discussing are very simple, really, and yet, they have profound implications as they resound through historical time and space. For if your fundamental conception of reality is in error, then your system is built upon quicksand and will eventually collapse. Even more so is this true if you have a fundamentally erroneous conception of human nature. In that case, you will eventually receive sharp blows from reality, but you will not know why, especially if your conception of reality is also faulty. Nothing will work, and you won’t know why. You will simply tinker about the edges of the monument to your folly.

Those of you who were conscious or sober during the Carter years will remember that that was a time when nothing worked. It was also the last time that we had a federal government completely free of the conservative principles that eventually rescued us from Carter’s disastrous mismanagement of the country, a mismanagement that we--and the rest of the world--will likely pay for with blood and treasure for the rest of our lives.

Forget 9/11--to this day, Carter’s abetting of the fall of the Shah of Iran represents the singular achievement of the Islamic terrorists we are fighting today, infrahuman monsters who are on the brink of possessing the greatest terror weapon known to man. Carter didn’t lift a finger to assist our friend the Shah, whom he considered a violator of human rights. And yet, the Khomeini regime murdered more people in its first year than the Shah’s secret service allegedly had in the previous twenty five (and don’t forget, the Shah was dealing with people like Khomeini; oh, how we could benefit from his likes today, someone who would regard Abu Ghraib as a reward for good behavior).

Just consider what Carter’s mindlessly liberal policies did to the economy. At the time he left office, annual growth rates were roughly half of what they had been in the 1960’s. Inflation was at a staggering 13.3% in 1979, while mortgage rates had climbed to 20%. Unemployment had reached almost 8% in 1980 (much higher in minority communities, which are always the most harmed by liberal fiscal policies), and the crime rate had increased 50% during the 1970’s (again, always more damaging to minority communities, both in terms of victims and the percentage of those imprisoned).

And yet, Carter famously blamed the nation's ills on our own selfishness, on a “moral problem” afflicting Americans, lecturing us that we would just have to get used to the idea of a permanently lowered standard of living in the future (a classic case of Carter projecting his own envy and greed into Americans, as we discussed yesterday). Carter is still venerated in liberal circles today, to such an extent that at their 2004 convention he was given an honored seat next to Michael Moore.

I’m digressing, aren’t I?

As I was about to say, in the final analysis it all comes down to two questions: 1) What is the nature of reality?, and 2) What is a human being? In both cases, ontology is prior to epistemology. If you get your ontology wrong, then anything else you “know” will be infected with that same ontological poison. Yes, sort of like that ultimate ontological choice faced by Adam. We are all faced with that same choice.

Yes, because of the liberty implanted in our soul by God, we can even choose to not be what what we are and to live in illusion. Of course, we can also choose to be what we are and to live in reality. But that’s not really a choice, is it? It’s more of a simple acknowledgment that follows from seeing clearly. For the most important things are not proven but seen in the palpable superabundance of their metaphysical clarity, by means of the uncorrupted intellect.

In fact, that introduces the first of the fundamental choices faced by our proto-Adam (who is always you and I). For scripture does not have to do with what happened "once upon a time" in the past, but with what always and inevitably happens in the now. You have the same choice right now: is there a source of truth higher than, and independent of, man? Or, are we the Last Word of the cosmos, able to arrive at the truth of our situation by means of sensory data and rational operations alone? If you choose the latter, then you have, with the wave of a hand, obliterated any antecedent, hierarchical reality that can only perceived by the the intellect properly so-called--the nous, or eye of the soul.

That’s okay--I mean, if the transcendental realm is just an illusion or comforting dopiate for the contemptible grazing multitude anyway, then the leftist is morally obliged to sweep it away. Morally obliged because... because... because why? Doesn’t moral obligation imply a universal, and therefore, transcendental, standard? No. Please. It is simply because the leftist knows what is best for you. Unlike you, he doesn’t live in illusion. His eyes have been opened. He is, in all humility, the measure of all things: a "humanist."

But respectfully, Mr. Leftist, how do you know that? I mean, how is it that you know anything at all? Specifically, you deny that transcendental realm which logically ends with the absolute and infinite One. Therefore, all reality is relative, contingent, and accidental. But your knowledge claim implies an absolute standard, does it not? If it doesn’t, then honesty compels you to acknowledge that your beliefs are arbitrary, does it not? Therefore, is it not an act of bad faith to make any appeal to truth, a truth that you have already a priori thrown overboard?

Since the leftist cannot appeal to truth, is it not accurate to say that, in the final analysis, truth for the leftist will be a function of power? In other words, truth will be purely a matter of convention, enforced by coercion, either physical coercion or through more subtle pressure, such as political correctness. For it is not possible to reject truth just once and be done with it; you can throw it out with a pitch-forked tongue, but truth, like nature, will always come rushing back in. Rather, the leftist will have to establish structures and mechanisms to prevent or discourage people from finding truth or even believing that it exists, things like universities, which are actually relativities in disguise. To become a king in the secular realm, it always helps to have attended one of our Elite Relativities.

Now, relativity always engenders the spirit of rebellion, which is not to be confused with the spirit of liberty. Scratch a leftist and you will always find a rebel. It won’t even matter what he is rebelling against--it can be “the corporate mentality,” or “heteronormativity,” or “sexual standards,” or “the class system,” or “rigid gender relations,” or “White European males,” or “the Western Canon,” or “arbitrary standards of beauty,” or “societal hypocrisy.” It doesn’t matter. Is not a passing state, but an abiding ontological stance at the deepest core, a result of that that primordial act of rebellion (which is ongoing). It is a chronic malady or “pneumapathology” against the Absolute and anything that reminds one of it. It is de facto an egoic state, at war with anything that calls to mind the contingent, derivative, and dependent nature of the ego. Therefore, this rebellion, no matter how attractive it may appear on the surface, is always a self-justification for the fallen ego. The policies it pursues will always be a symptom of the illness it proposes to cure.

There is no “perfect” or "ideal" rebellion, any more than there is ideal ugliness or untruth. Rather, rebellion is always reactionary--it is a “running from” disguised as a “running to.” Liberty, on the other hand, is not derivative of anything. It is a spiritual gift, ours to receive or reject. Liberty itself exists independent of free creatures, whereas rebellion only exists in them. Liberty is “an immutable essence in which creatures may either participate or not participate.” It is “the possibility of manifesting oneself fully, or being perfectly oneself,” a reflection of the “ineffable liberty of the Infinite” (Schuon).

The leftist would like to bestow this gift of liberty upon you, as if it ultimately derives from him, not from God. But what he really wishes to bestow upon you is the gift (or curse) of rebellion. Thus, he speaks only of rights, not of responsibilities, including our ultimate responsibility to the Source of our liberty.

For liberty is meaningless if it is not used as a means of assent (and ascent) to Truth. In other words, if liberty is not “oriented” to anything other than itself, then what is it, really? It is a monstrosity, a terrible mistake, a cancer on the body of nothingness, just as the naughty existentialist says it is. For freedom in this sense is mere nothingness. Since you have no essence, no choice is any better than any other choice. So the key instead becomes commitment. It doesn’t matter what you choose, so long as you are committed to that choice. Since you are not real, the act of choosing--especially rebellious choosing--gives you a sort of bogus or counterfeit “solidity.” Then you are authentic, which is the “highest” you can be in the ontological flatland of secular leftism. To rebel--especially if you do so with "attitude"--is to exist.

So you may have noticed that the far left historically reveres not the heroic conformist but the authentic rebel: Che Guevara, Mumia, Arafat, Malcolm X, Michael Moore and the Islamist “freedom fighters” of Iraq, Mother Sheehan. In order to succeed in leftist politics, you will always have to cast yourself as a rebel and an outlaw.

But our founding fathers were not rebels. Rather, they were revolutionaries, for to re-volvere is to turn around, to roll back, to return to the source. And what did their revolution involve? It involved an undoing of mankind’s primordial rebellion, for, as Jefferson wrote, “the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” This is a self-evident truth, something that can only be seen by the higher intellect, never proven, much less granted, by the rebilious ego.

Well, I can see that I’m just getting started. Better save some blogviating for tomorrow. But not before a cosmic doggerel and puny show, respectively:

*****

Sheol is out, summa vacation in the pneumatosphere. Off to see the River Man, starry-eyed and laughing, cloud-hidden, who-, what-, why- and whereabouts unknown, bathed in the white radiance of ecstacy central. In the garden mysty wet with rain, eight miles high, far from the twisted reach of yestomaya & no todeity. Insinuate! Now put down the apple and back away slowly, and nobody dies. Here, prior to thought, by the headwaters of the eternal, the fountain of innocence, the mind shoreless vast and still, absolved & absorbed in what is always the case, face to face in a sacred space.

Let's blake for a vision: ah, remama when she satya down in a crystal daze, grazing in the grass, loose & lazy beneath a diamond sky with both hands waving free, into the blisstic mystic, no you or I, nor reason wise, a boundless sea of flaming light, bright blazing fire and ecstatic sinder, Shiva, me tinders, count the stars in your eyes. A church bell in the distance, chimes of freedom fleshing. The key to your soul, egnaughted in wonder. Om, now I remurmur!

Friday, April 28, 2006

United 93: No Heroic Deed Goes Unspoiled by the Left

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I know how to completely eliminate the left. Well, maybe not completely. But at least 75% of them.

Would it be through better education? No, being that wackademia has been hijacked by the left, that wouldn’t help at all. More often than not, the most educated people are simply the most indoctrinated people.

Would it be through the inculcation of religion? No, that wouldn’t necessarily do the trick. After all, the greatest enemy we face is religious, so religion obviously cuts both ways. Not to mention the fact that many Christian believers go in for “social justice” and “liberation theologies” that are simply Marxism with a pseudo-spiritual patina, as is generally true of liberal Judaism, which is often genuine leftism with an imitation Jewveneer.

What if we had better child rearing practices? What if we could try to make sure that children have both a mother and a father and a parent at home to care for them, instead of farming them out to stranger care? Yes, that would produce happier and more emotionally secure and self-reliant proto-conservative children--not to mention fewer criminals--provided that their parents are not crazier than their daycare providers, which is an unrealistic assumption.

And parenting can cut two ways as well, since overindulgence and poor parental boundaries can engender serious narcissism in a child. And there are some difficult cultural issues as well. Cultures, just like people, self-replicate, and some cultures are frankly so pathological that they simply churn out more of the same. To take an extreme case, how would you explain to an Egyptian family that genital mutilation is not such a hot idea? To take a less extreme case, how do you explain to a doctrinaire leftist that boys are very different than girls, and require manly role models in order to become men?

Okay, let’s give liberals what they supposedly really want, their ultimate fantasy: high taxes and income redistribution. Would that work? No it would not. Why not? Because enacting such a policy would simply be treating the symptom, not the cause, because the desire for this kind of heavy-handed “economic justice” is not an economic issue but a thoroughly psychological one. It is simply a smokescreen for the covert operation of that most sinister and destructive of mind parasites, envy.

One of the most important but little known concepts in psychoanalysis is that of envy. It is a term of art, not to be confused with the dictionary definition. Technically, I shouldn’t call it a mind parasite, because it is believed to be innate, not acquired (it probably had to do with evolutionary selective pressures that favored social solidarity in small human groups in the archaic environment.) It is potentially present in all people, but becomes much more problematic when aggravated by primitive defense mechanisms such as splitting and projective identification.

If we could somehow eliminate envy from the human genome, there would be almost no reason for the left to exist. They would instantly lose that which animates them, for example, envy masquerading as justice or economic theory.

In order to be happy, we must all keep our envy in check, because envy is the opposite of gratitude. Envy does not appreciate what one has, only what one doesn’t have. And our capacity to imagine what we do not have--and that someone else is enjoying it--is literally infinite, as is envy.

According to Webster's, envy is defined as "malice," and a "painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, joined with a desire to possess the same advantage." The psychoanalytic understanding of envy is that it is an unconscious fantasy aimed at attacking, damaging, or destroying what is good, because of the intolerable feeling that one does not possess and control the object of goodness. As such, it is an aspect of what Freud called the death instinct, since it ultimately involves a destructive attack on the sources of life and goodness. Particularly envious individuals cannot tolerate the pain of not possessing and controlling the "good object," so they preemptively spoil it so that they don't have to bear the pain.

What is critical--and so perverse--about envy, is that it is not an attack on "the bad" or frustrating, but a hateful attack on what is good. As a result, the psyche of such individuals confuses what is bad and what is good, and cannot experience a sense of gratitude toward the good, the sine qua non of happiness and mental health. The envious person does not want to have a relationship with the good object, but wants to control or be that object. If it cannot, then it attacks it to eliminate the tension.

By far the best general study of envy is Helmut Schoeck’s classic, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior (in sidebar). The only other source I know of that discusses the critical importance of envy is in the psychoanalytic literature, which unfortunately is too technical and specialized for the layperson.

I haven’t read Envy in a while, but it contains many arresting ideas that have always stayed with me. One important one is that envy is ubiquitous in primitive groups, and in fact, is the very thing that keeps them primitive and undeveloped. In order to advance into capitalism, human beings had to get past the “envy barrier” and tolerate the idea that some people will have more than others. In primitive groups, envy is so pervasive that no one is allowed to have more than anyone else--they are trapped in a "zero sum" theory of economics, just as are many liberals today. To naive leftists, a primitive culture may look like an egalitarian paradise, but it is actually a paranoid and envious hell, with everyone fearful of the “evil eye” of his envious neighbor should he acquire more than him. For this reason, primitive groups mindlessly destroy surpluses or engage in sacrifices to their “envious” gods.

Since envy is ubiquitous, we must have a cultural means of expressing and channeling it. This is how I regard the left on a psychological level, as the institutional means through which envy may express itself. For example, this is the role of trial lawyers, who are naturally the greatest contributors to the Democratic party. Most--obviously not all--trial lawyers are free-floating agents of envy, on the prowl for deep pockets that they might empty on behalf of their envious client. The socialist countries of Western Europe are driven by the attempt to placate envy, which only ends up creating more of it. Once you inculcate a sense of entitlement in your people, you have opened the floodgates of envy.

If you have an “ear” for envy, you will detect it everywhere in the liberal world. In psychoanalytic parlance, it is also called “spoiling,” or devaluing. Again, because the envious person cannot tolerate the good, he attacks the good and makes it bad. So even in my crappy little paper, The Los Angeles Daily News, they can’t help themselve. For example, the headline regarding yesterday’s upbeat economic news was “Fed Chief Warns of Stagflation.” This is typical. One could be cynical and say that this is just “spin,” but I don’t think it’s generally conscious. Rather, I think it’s unconscious envy and spoiling.

Even the liberal movie reviewer cannot help himself from getting envious little political digs into almost all of his reviews, including today’s for United 93. Although he liked the movie, in seeing it, “It’s impossible not to think of the image of George W. Bush reading the pet goat story in Michael Moore’s ‘Farenheit 9/11.” This same idiot would never review Farenheit 9/11 and write, “it’s impossible to look at this shrill leftist propaganda without thinking of the image of a stewardess having her throat slashed with a box cutter by a Muslim barbarian that Moore would call a freedom fighter.”

In fact, be on the lookout for envious attacks on United 93, that is, “spoiling.” The envy campaign started early, with the “too soon” meme, but that is simply a case of disguised spoiling.

I’ll be right back. I’m going to go over to Huffingtonpissed right now and prove to you what I mean......

Okay, I’m back. Here are some comments, plucked at random. This first one is not actually about United 93, but it so perfectly demonstrates how envy operates, that I’m including it: “As a nation we urgently need to develop a disdain for people who are transfixed on wealth. We should never allow them to take public office -- never again.” (Leftists constantly project their own greed and envy into the wealthy, so unconsciously she's saying that we should never again allow envious and greedy, wealth-obsessed leftists such as herself into power. Not a bad idea.)

Here’s another good one: “George Bush et al are paying cronies to do fake work in Iraq so that billions of dollars earmarked for humanitarian purposes instead goes to private bank accounts.... here's what we must do.... Tell the story of Bush's crony capitalists using our money to line their pockets in the name of rebuilding Iraq.” Again, the envious person sees envy everywhere, here projected into President Bush and his “cronies.”

With regard to United 93, no one even cares whether or not it is a good film. Rather, the only concern is whether it may somehow benefit the war on terror, and that cannot be tolerated. The movie must be attacked, smeared and devalued. Here are some sample comments:

--“I haven't seen the movie yet, but there's no question in my heart and mind that 9/11 has been grossly exploited for political purposes.”

--“No one should see this propaganda. Maybe there are some patriotic projectionists out there that'll do the public a favor and run one of the myriad 9/11-debunking documentaries instead.”

--“Is it exploitative? Absolutely. Without a doubt this film exploits everyone in the country.... a resounding slap in the face of everyone who was on board that flight and all the families that are/were affected by it.”

--“This film needs to be boycotted, protested, and shunned by the public. To take an event like 9/11 and turn it into a profit center for NBC/Universal (General Electric).... This is just another form of profiteering as far as I'm concerned.”

--“in the movie we see the terrorist in control of the aircraft diving steeply for two minutes or so. Evidently all laws of physics were suspended at that precise moment, since the magic aircraft did not lose a single engine and the passengers were not fatally thrown around the cabin. Oh well, it's Hollywood and it can be as fictitious as it gets, but the 911 Commission wanting to sell us this ridiculous story as what really happened? Not a chance.”

--”Excuse me for not joining in the paeans in honor of a Hollywood film about 9-11. I sincerely doubt that what really happened that day is going to be uncovered by a Hollywood pseudo docudrama or whatever it is. I want to see an independent invastigation on 9-11 and one who will investigate the 9-11 Commission too while they are at it. I'm not buying the bullshit coming from either Washington or Hollywood.”

--“Has anyone checked further into the rumors that flight 93 was shot down by American forces? Apparently that would be more consistent with the wreckage. And it would not necessarily be the wrong thing to do, if we knew that the plane had become a weapon. However a coverup would not only be wrong, but would be entirely consistent with the hatred for freedom that the Bush mob has continually displayed.”

Here’s a commentor who really has the big picture: “The REAL TRUTH would implicate [the White House] in a well conceived plan to create another "Pearl Harbor" event. This event would would scare the s**t out of most Americans, which would allow them to start a "War On Terror" which would lead to invading Iraq where the "enemy" in the "War On Terror" was hiding with "WMD's" and other scary stuff. Then in the name of national security in "wartime", allow an amassing of power in the "unitary executive" which would lead to secret illegal spying on Americans toture, illegal detention and other "suspensions" of the Constitution all in the name of "National Security". Meanwhile fattening all the purses of Administration friends with huge no bid contracts to re-build IRAQ (which we would not have had to destroy in the first place to get rid of Sadaam) .....need I go on?”

No, not at all. I think we got it. Unfortunately he is more paranoid than envious, but I think you can see that the two work together to pack a potent one-two punch of leftist boilerplate.

Envy is such an important but generally ignored concept, probably because people don't want to consider the sinister ways it operates in their own lives. But it is a key that unlocks many mysteries, particularly in politics. So strong and pervasive is envy, that you cannot have a political system that doesn't accommodate or find some way to manage envy. You might say that one party will generally represent the envied, the other the envious. Guess which ones.

More generally, the international left does not attack the United States because they hate us. Rather, they hate the United States because they envy us. Precisely because they cannot tolerate our unparalleled goodness and success, they attack it and turn America into a uniquely bad, greedy and envious object. It is pure projection. In engaging in this projection of their own greed and envy, they damage what is good and conflate good and evil, but at least it helps to temporarily diminish the pain of their own envy. They do the same thing with Israel. But to use one of Freud's most famous phrases, when it comes to the projection of envy and greed, "the one who smelt it, dealt it."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thinking On Your Knees

This is wisdom we preach among the perfect, yet not the wisdom of this age nor of the leaders of this age, which will become nothing. We preach the wisdom of God, mysterious and hidden... --I Corinthians

“Gnosis.” “Esoterism.” “Mysticism.” It seems that each of these words has negative connotations, not just for the secular mentality but often even more so for the religious person. But these are actually at the heart of any spiritual conception of reality, for they simply involve any knowledge that touches, either directly or indirectly, the Divine plane. In other words, gnosis is simply that knowledge of God which “brings the letter to life.” Esoterism is the means to that knowledge. Mysticism is union with it, or the deep realization of its truth.

Humans are unique, in the sense that we inhabit two distinctly different worlds--the outer, objective world of sensible forms, and an interior, subjective world of thought, emotion and reason.

As we discussed yesterday, one of the baleful consequences of religious literalism or “fundamentalism” (which is not actually fundamental, but a very modern deviation) is that it places religious knowledge on the same horizontal plane as empirical or rational scientific knowledge. In so doing, it places itself in competition with an inferior mode of knowledge that nevertheless copes more effectively with a lower plane of being, i.e., matter. At the same time, it willfully cuts itself off from the higher and more interior planes to which it is appropriate. Placed in competition with science in this way, religion quickly devolves into pagan magic, whatever you wish to call it.

Although I sympathize with so-called literalists, in the long run their position is simply untenable. But equally untenable is the position of the secular materialist who clumsily attempts to utilize the coarse tools of science to study the interior world.

Gnosis is not to be confused with debased forms of spirituality such as occultism, channeling, mind reading, “the paranormal,” and the like--the sorts of freaks, sociopaths, and con men you might see on Larry King. One of the central tenets of genuine gnosis is that it involves subjectively objective knowledge, which is the converse of Kant’s realization that all of our supposedly objective, exterior knowledge is actually subjective, i.e., limited by, and filtered through, our ways of knowing it. Science begins its investigation from our mysterious, subjective center and moves toward the periphery, studying the multiplicity and variety of the contingent exterior world. Esoterism operates in the opposite direction, from the periphery back upstream to the center, to the objective metaphysical principles that underlie reality.

Anyone who wishes to pass beyond mere “book knowledge,” beyond the realm of mere “information,” is an esoterist, whatever the field or endeavor. For in the absence of gnosis, the world we encounter is simply a brute fact with no depth or meaning at all. Facts do not speak for themselves, but must be imaginatively synthesized in the mind of a knower. No sensory or perceptual experience can tell you what you are experiencing. In other words, there is no knowledge at all at the level of the senses.

So in order to construct a world, we all engage in an imaginative leap, the secular fundamentalist no less than the religious fundamentalist. But this does not mean that the world is unknowable and that we are hopelessly enclosed in our own subjectivity. For one thing, unlike animals, we are aware of the fact of our subjectivity. But the moment we realize this, we have lifted ourselves beyond the plane of subjectivity in a way no animal can. We have begun to to acquire the state of objectivity. All forms of prayer and meditation, of “silencing the mental substance,” are in fact exercises for elevating ourselves and deepening our objective consciousness.

Gnosis represents the reconciliation of philosophical idealism and scientific naturalism. It has long been recognized that there are two philosophical temperaments, the “Platonic” (or idealist) and the “Aristotelian” (or naturalist). The naturalist, or scientist, would say that laws are derived through observation and induction and that “truth” is simply the correspondence between objects and accurate knowledge of them.

The idealist, on the other hand, believes that consciousness is prior to every “thing,” and that the world is a reflection of the intellect, or “ideas.” Another way of saying it is that for the Aristotelian the particular is antecedent to the general, whereas for the Platonist the general is prior to the particular--for example, the general idea of “dogginess” allows us to identify and categorize particular dogs.

You might think that science is a default Aristotelian enterprise, but this is not so. For example, the majority of great mathematicians are Platonists, in that they believe that mathematical ideas are real, immutable, and prior to our discovering them. 2 + 2 = 4 will be a true statement in any possible cosmos. Likewise, most of the great physicists of the 20th century were led to a Platonic conception or reality because of the a priori truth and beauty of the few equations that undergird all of reality.

But gnosis is neither naturalistic or idealistic. Rather, it is logoistic. That is, the truth of things is found neither in the external world nor in the mind that contemplates it. The esoterist worships neither gaia nor the intellect. Rather, he worships the eternal Word that is the source of each. As expressed by an anonymous Christian friend, reality is founded upon the Word, or Logos, “whose objective manifestation is the world of prototypes underlying the phenomenal world, and whose subjective manifestation is the light or prototype of human intelligence”: “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

So therefore, the only truly true and objective knowledge is knowledge of the Word. Objects are only real in the sense that they inhere in the Word--otherwise we could not know them. And our intellectual conceptions--our gnosis--are only true insofar as they reflect the Word. Real truth is not a construct or acquisition of the ego, but something to which we humbly submit.

Ultimately, gnosis represents the reconciliation of the vertical and horizontal. Science represents the quantitative world of the horizontal, whereas religion has to do with the vertical, qualitative world. Gnosis entails nothing less than crucifying ourselves at the innersanction between the vertical and horizontal, where the Word is perpetually dying away and being reborn. It is not a synthesis of science and religion, but a mode of consciousness through which the reality of the living Word shines in its metaphysical transparency. It’s just “there,” waiting for you at the crossroads, where to live the objective truth is to die a little.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Just Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale...

The Church of Peter is visible, and continuous like water; that of John... invisible, and discontinuous like fire. John became “brother” of Christ and “Son” of the Virgin, and, further, he is the prophet of the Apocalypse; Peter is charged to “feed my sheep,” but his Church seems to have inherited also his denials... however, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” John “tarries till I come,” and this mystery remains closed to Peter.

In the perspective of gnosis, Christ, “Light of the world,” is the Universal Intellect, as the Word is the “Wisdom of the Father.” Christ is the Intellect of microcosms as well as that of the macrocosm. He is then the Intellect in us as well as the Intellect in the Universe and
a fortiori in God; in this sense, it can be said that there is no truth nor wisdom that does not come from Christ, and this is evidently independent of all consideration of time and place. --Frithjof Schuon

This is probably going to be a fruitless discussion, but I’ll try it anyway. It’s an important one, because it gets to the very heart of what the mind can and cannot know about God. And it touches on the very purpose of this blog.

As I have emphasized before, a merely mental understanding of God is entirely insufficient in my view. Yes, I am an esoterist, but this does not connote “elitism.” While there is a hierarchy involved, the hierarchy does not inhere in the esoterist but in the nature of things, for the nous, or intellect properly so-called, is higher than the mind.

To the extent that anyone understands God with the nous and not the mind, he is de facto an esoterist and therefore “higher,” not in the sense of moral superiority--as if he is a better person--but in the same way that algebra is “higher” than math. Likewise, anyone who reduces religion to a mere literalism has given the game away to the rationalism of the ego. For esoterism is both folly to the rationalist geeks and a stumbling block in the pews.

In the past, I have attempted to discuss this dilemma in terms of the bi-modal logic of the mind. Our little surface ego moves and has its being in the bright and well-lit world of classical or Aristotelian logic. I will be the first to acknowledge that the world accessed by the ego represents a world. But by no means does it represent the world. Rather, the ego gives access to one plane of being. I won’t say that it’s a “low” flying plane, because, as a psychologist, I am fully aware of how many people fail to get off the ground and reliably enter it due to various developmental issues and fixations. But it is an “intermediate” world, with degrees of being both above and below.

In the esoterist view, the planes above the ego are developmentally later but ontologically prior, and therefore more real. Every below in the cosmos is “contained” within an above, while, at the same time, the above is uncontainable and is necessarily present “within” the below. To animals, the ego is clearly both “higher” and more inward.

But we must never forget that the epic story of cosmic evolution does not end with the ego’s exteriorization of its limited understanding--its colonization of a small portion of consciousness. Think of the ego as analogous to a bright flood light in the dark. Wherever the light turns, there is an area of bright illumination. But we must not be fooled into believing that the foreground of illumination--the little spot lit up by the ego--is all there is to reality.

As Kant properly noted, the ego creates a world in the form of its own sensibility (the phenomenal world) and then takes it for the real world. Therefore, it is as if we dream a dream and then inhabit the dream as if it were real. The ego becomes thoroughly entangled in its own exteriorized and reified fantasies. This is what it means to be a fallen ego in a fallen world. The fall is both literal (i.e., vertical) and metaphorical.

With the scientific revolution in full force, Kant saw what was coming and was actually trying to rescue the realm of religion from the predations of a cognitively greedy scientific rationalism. Since the ego ultimately has access only to its own phenomena, this left the infinitely greater reality of the noumena untouched, unknown and unknowable. This is precisely where Kant erred, because in saying that the noumena was unknowable, he essentially reduced religion to a mere sentimental fideism. It would simply be a matter of time before it became wholly irrelevant to “sophisticated” moderns.

Again, either religion embodies real knowledge that surpasses our egoic understanding, or it is simply an absurdity that is defiantly embraced in the teeth of reason and logic. But if it does embody real knowledge, what kind of knowledge is it? Is it mere information, occupying the same horizontal plane as factual scientific information, like saying “water freezes at 32 degrees and Jesus walked on it,” or “the ribs enclose the chest cavity and women are made of one”? In my way of looking at things, this is a gross confusion that simply invites people not to take religion seriously.

Let us imagine that the totality of reality constitutes a vast field of consciousness. In navigating its dimensions and coordinates, there are two principle dangers. One involves being shipwrecked on the rocks of a rational but fixed and “frozen” mental conception that ultimately forecloses spiritual evolution. The ego stakes out its little piece of territory. It knows what it knows, and that’s all it wants to know. The vast majority of cultural and religious beliefs are of this variety. Some belief systems stake out a slightly wider area, but each, to one degree or another, places an arbitrary boundary around reality.

The other danger is to become lost at sea with no fixed coordinates at all. This is to be engulfed in the symmetrical unconscious with no bearings to guide one’s journey.

Religions are indeed fixed, and must be so. But they are not fixed in order to reduce reality, but in order to navigate through it and ultimately to colonize more of it. They are not the destination, but the means of arriving there--at one’s deustination.

Therefore, the question is not, strictly speaking, whether or not this or that dogma is true or false, in a narrow, purely egoic way. I believe dogma is critical. Critical for the same reason that a ship is--not merely for the purpose of floating statically on the water, but moving through it.

So all you cosmic castaways,
we're here such a brief, short time.
We have to make the best of things,
thanks to Adam's crime.
But Petey and old Gagdad Bob,
will do their very best,
to make your journey vertical,
in this horizontal mess.
No angry trolls, no leftist loons,
no doctrinaire moonbats,
Like Dailykos and Huffington,
and other gynocrats.
So join us here each day my friends,
we'll sail right through the fog.
Obnoxious Bobservations,
here on Gag-a-dad's blog.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Beauty's in the Eye of the Beer Holder

I think it’s fair to say that on this side of manifestation, God (saguna brahman) is a verb, whereas the God-beyond-being (nirguna brahman) must be a noun. That latter aspect of God is called silent, still, unchanging, unqualified, etc., whereas the only God we can know must be “Godding” somewhere about the vicinity, or we couldn’t know about him.

In fact, the only way we ourselves can know about God is by religioning. A religion is not primarily something you “have” or “know.” Rather, it must be something you do--like playing a musical instrument in order to make music present. I always say that one does not become religious after deciding with the mind or ego whether or not God exists. Rather, one becomes religious in order to find out. Just as science is the appropriate means with which to study the properties of matter, religion is the means with which we study the properties of Spirit.

Whatever the quantum world is in itself, science is helpless to say. Looked at this way, it’s a particle. Looked at that way, it’s a wave. It is just so with religion. Religions are ways to look at (and even “through”) God in order to reveal different aspects and dimensions of him. But this doesn’t mean that the entire enterprises is subjective, any more than quantum physics is subjective just because knowledge of the subatomic realm depends upon the way we look at it.

So the question really isn’t whether or not God exists. The existence of God can easily be proven to someone who is inclined to believe the evidence. To someone not so inclined, no amount of evidence will suffice. This is an idea that Petey heard from Assistant Village Idiot, but to whom he would ungraciously prefer not to give credit (typical).

A clear way to express it is, being that God is real, how do we actually make him ex-ist? That is, the literal meaning of exist is to “stand out.” Thus, in this way of looking at things, something can be real but not exist.

Speaking of my extended family, the saddest thing that’s ever happened in my life was the sudden death of my sister-in-law four years ago, who was only 39 years old at the time and left behind a two year old son. A year after her death there was an “unveiling” ceremony at the cemetery, as in Judaism one waits a year before inscribing the person’s name on the tombstone. But although nominally Jewish, the in-law side of my family is rather militantly secular, so there was no rabbi there, no sacred words, no ritual, no “religioning.” Somebody read a poem, but it mostly made the poet present, not God. Everyone stared at the tombstone, looked at their shoes, shuffled around awkwardly, and that was it. No religioning whatsoever. In fact, God wasn’t even invited.

Given how much I’ve changed between then and now, I think that today I would have felt more comfortable in doing my little part to try to bring God into the ceremony. Free-lance holy man that I am, I’m sure I could write something appropriate to the occasion, and in fact, I would feel obligated to do so. Because as you grow spiritually, the obligation to conform to God should extend to every detail of your life, from the simplest thing to the most profound and important.

Personally I would have a great deal of difficulty being an Orthodox Jew. And yet, I have a profound respect for this tradition, because they put into practice the ideas I am discussing here. For the purpose of all the rules and procedures is to create an environment of spiritual ascent, and this is something everyone needs to do in their lives, regardless of their spiritual approach.

While we cannot manufacture grace, we can do many things that interfere with its operation or which facilitate our awareness of its presence. One of my greatest influences, Frithjof Schuon, emphasized the importance of beauty in all aspects of one’s life. Beauty, he believed, represented a plane within the realm of sensible forms that is pierced by radiation from the Divine light. Contemplating this Divine light can draw us back upstream to its ultimate source.

Schuon identifies three essential spiritual elements that one cannot do without: Truth, Virtue, and Prayer. Each of these is actually an aspect of the others. A fourth element is beauty, but it is considered extrinsic because, strictly speaking, one may still advance without it--for example, if you are stuck in a jail cell.

But we should not minimize the importance of beauty, especially in this day and age, filled with so much ugliness and barbarity wherever we look. Unfortunately, we have come to increasingly inhabit a world that is the very opposite of what the Orthodox Jew attempts to create in his life. That is, we have created a descending world that constantly fragments and disperses our attention, and which drags our consciousness down and out, from the center to the periphery.

Here is what is at the ultimate root of the so-called “culture war”: are we going to live in an ascending culture or a descending one? In just my lifetime, I have seen how these positions have been reversed. When I was a boy growing up in the 1960’s, there were still many elements and reminders of ascent all around. There were plenty of virtuous and heroic men to look up to, both in real life and in the media. There wasn’t the secular hatred of the higher life, nor was there the obnoxious celebration of everything that is coarse, vulgar, and “authentic.” There was implicit awareness of a spiritual hierarchy, and some acknowledgment that it was worthwhile to try to aspire upward--not materially, but spiritually.

Today everyone is equal, but the only way you can achieve that is by assaulting and negating the vertical. I hope my son always knows that there are people lower than him to whom he is obligated, and people higher than him to whom he has the obligation to revere and emulate. Never emulate someone lower, and never presume to instruct or consider yourself equal to the truly Superior Man. Both stances are spiritually toxic. Schuon is just one of about a dozen such personages to whom I look up with reverence, awe, and gratitude.

The most insignificant object in your life can be a trivial knickknack or it can be a metaphysically transparent gift from heaven. If we wish to become more aware of God’s presence, it is critical to create an ambiance in which he is more likely to appear. Again, in the final analysis, God can be excluded from nowhere. This is not his problem, but our problem. But do not deliberately make matters worse than you have to by choosing situations and environments that obscure God’s presence.

For beauty is a form of vertical recollection. Through it we recall our divine origin. Schuon believes that the best way is to imitate the beauty of virgin nature insofar as that is possible. Nature has an inherent equilibrium, harmony, simplicity, dignity and humility. I am always reminded of this when I ride my bike in the hills around my house. In looking at the spontaneous patterns produced by the wildflowers below or the clouds above, I am constantly reminded that no artist could achieve this simple perfection of form. The world effortlessly tosses up these beautiful patterns and forms, everything in its proper place--just as if all creation is a spontaneous prayer.

So in our own lives, it’s best to imitate the simplicity of nature, to make our ambiance as natural as possible. I began simplifying my life many years ago, mainly to create more “slack” with which to engage my spiritual practice. I did not know at the time that this simplicity was not just a support, but an actual means of spiritual recollection.

Lisa will appreciate this, for even our outward comportment is of the utmost importance: our posture, our bearing, how we carry ourselves, our gestures--each of these can enhance our nobility and bring us into conformity with our divine center, or can reflect spiritual apathy and a loss of dignity. Our bearing, to the extent that we can achieve it, should reflect the motionless center, the still point within. Try it some time. In other words, don’t just go searching for that still center. Rather, assume it’s already there, and begin walking and acting in conformity with it--back erect, head head high, stately comportment. You’ll find that you get “feedback” right away from that calm center. You will reflect it.

Likewise, clothing is critical. No, this does not mean being a self-absorbed “dandy,” nor does it have anything do do with the opposite extreme in the Muslim world. But if you go to a mall and see the horrifying manner in which people dress these days, you feel the effect. It is literally unfit for the dignity of human beings. Nor does it have anything to do with prudery. A thirteen year old girl wearing pants with “juicy” emblazoned on her butt is an incipient lost soul who is probably the luckless victim of absolutely clueless and spiritually bereft parents. Obviously, tattoos are a nonstarter, for they detract from the body’s natural beauty. God did not intend your body to be a crass billboard for your ego’s inane advertisements. Your body is a material reflection of the divine nature. You can highlight that or detract from it.

Even needless sloppiness should be avoided. By its very nature, according to Schuon, Spirituality has an aristocratic air that is fundamentally at odds with the democratizing spirit of the times. The denial of beauty is just one more way that our culture denies Truth.

Your home environment is especially critical to an ambiance of ascent. Again, according to Schuon, “what dress is to nudity, one’s dwelling is to the natural environment,” in the sense that we should seek simplicity, use natural materials if possible, minimize clutter, and have sacred art and liturgical symbols to remind us of the vertical. “Your dwelling should be a a sanctuary in which everything works together in disposing your soul toward Prayer. It should be a garden or oasis in the midst of life’s turmoil where movement toward God is unimpeded by the world’s noise and distractions.” At least one corner--preferably a room---should be set aside solely for the purposes of divine reading, meditation and prayer.

You must also be extremely careful about what and who you allow to enter your soul. Everything has an effect, including music, television, newspapers, magazines. I’m sure that well over 90% of the the content of these things creates a tamasic atmosphere of descent. When I pick up one of the major liberal newspapers, or a Time or Newsweek in an office, I am primarily struck by how stupid they are. It is a world of breathless trivia, urgent superficiality, pseudo-sophisticated nonsense, and elevation of the momentary to far beyond its importance.

And perhaps most importantly, it is absolutely vital to associate yourselves with “men of ascending tendency.” Of course, there are many relationships we cannot avoid--coworkers, relatives, etc.--which is all the more reason to be part of satsanga or association of people who are serious about the spiritual life.

Clearly that is one of the purposes of this blog. I am sure there must be others, but I know of no other blog that explicitly attempts to reverse perspective and deal with contemporary events in an ascending manner, from the standpoint of eternity rather than time. I try my best to provide not “all the news that’s fit to print,” but all the perennial truth that the roaring torrent of eternity will fit into my meandering creek (or crock, depending on your politics) of a post.

*****

Frithjof Schuon, whom I consider easily one of the greatest religious geniuses of the 20th century, is for many people a difficult read. Frankly he is not for everyone, for his is a way of jnana or pure metaphysics. Some of the above discussion was inspired by a book entitled Advice to the Serious Seeker: Meditations on the Teaching of Frithjof Schuon, by James Cutsinger (see sidebar). Even it would probably be a challenge for most readers who are not themselves of a jnani temperament. No need to worry, however. In the future I will continue to do my best to make Schuon’s ideas accessible and hopefully useful to all. As I said, while I do not agree with his every teaching, he is nevertheless one of about a dozen of my go-to guys.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Most Obnoxious Man in AmeriKKKa?

Petey's going to be awfully disappointed, not to say envious, because he was hoping to become a household gnome.

But the title goes to..... ME!

And Will is my insufferable DEPUTY JERK!

There is now an official "Gagdad Bob Derangement Syndrome."

This was actually on Dailykos last week. I only noticed it because I was fooling around with my site meter and noticed that someone had come straight from Dailykos over here. That was a first!:

The Most Obnoxious Man in America???
by kingfelix

Fri Apr 14, 2006

No, it's not Bush and it's not Cheney. It's Robert Godwin. Not heard of him? Well, this man, a clinical psychologist, continually attacks the left and liberals as mentally ill, as having pathologies, of being sick in their soul. He does this in a beautiful way, as he is undoubtedly intelligent, just severely severely skewed.

Go ahead and check out his latest post on his blog. Sample quotation:

"Leftism continues to be a children's crusade against the adult world, and we are in desperate need of adults who will stand up to the children and not worry about trying to be their "friends." As a parent, you simply have to do what you need to do, because children don't really know how to raise themselves. (If I had more time, this would be a good place to expand upon this vis-a-vis Will's comment below on the spirit of rebellion that animates the Left. This rebellion is an inevitable artifact of childhood, and is oedipal to the core. To gratify it is to create a monster.)"

Comments:

(One Cosmos readers, determine for yourself if my observations in the above paragraph are ironically confirmed in the childlike comments that follow)

by gad
what a pompous twit.

by bumblebums
some people should never be educated
they just spew nonsense with fancy words and that fools the REALLY dumb people

by RumsfeldResign
how much does he get paid to say that filth? And by whom?
Follow the money!

by Tamifah
i think he does it from a sense of duty which is perhaps more worrying than doing it for $$$. it is a disorder.

by kingfelix
Are you sure it's not a sense of "doody"? He's a mean, mean, doody-head. Doody, doody, DOODY!!!

Seriously, even if he's sincere, the party of the rich always has enough money to see to it that their mouthy little spokesturds like him never have to eat ramen or worry about the rent. Follow the money, indeed. There's always enough to keep scumbags like him and Tucker Carlson in clean bowties.

by drewfromct
Thanks for highlighting the circus sideshow named Godwin.
Gads these guys are scary.

by Cool Blue
A sophmoric twit for sure, but the most obnoxious man in America, for the 18th consecutive year, is Pat Robertson.

by Olds88
what i find interesting about Godwin is his repeated assertions that his political opponents are infantile, mentally ill, etc. to my mind, potentially, and given his professional capacity and his erudition, it makes him more a full blown obnoxious fascists than robertson , limbaugh, o'reilly, and falwell.

by kingfelix
This shrink guy is just an embarrassment to his profession.

by Olds88
yeah, but if the caysh was'nt there he'd be sellin some other snakeoil, or some line of bs. Ain't none of these guys doin any of that stuff for nothin'. I bet you he's into porno and hookers.....and wears women's lingerie when he's psychologizin'.

by Manix
We could temporarily revoke, uh, Godwin's Law, and compare this guy Godwin with members of a certain German political party.

by Manix
whenever I think about this guy, I can't help but do a Nazi salute.

by lazybum
This guy's bad. And Pat Robertson and his ilk are bad too, but I wouldn't say obnoxious. Awful pieces of dog shit who are dangerous to America, yes. But obnoxious implies that certain nails-on-the-blackboard kind off effect when you hear their voice and their comments.

by GUGA
That post has its historical basis in the way white southern men viewed themselves as Cavaliers, noble and pure in soul, as opposed to the debased and wretched northern Puritans. Opposition to slavery was the prime example of Puritan soullessness.

by YellowDogBlue
his hatred is obviously self-hatred directed outward at those he secretly admires.
Conservatives are mentally ill. He is a classic example.

by theyrereal
An egregiously bad writer.
Stick to your day job, Robert, whatever it is. And the next time you feel the compulsion to write, lie down until the feeling goes away.

*****

One thing I don't understand. Why do my relatives have to use all these crazy nicknames? And I never told them about the bow ties and lingerie. That was just a lucky guess.

*****

This is pretty weird. You know how kids want to imitate their dad, right? So mine finds out that I'm the most obnoxious man in America, and next thing you know, he wants me to buy him a kufi. What's that all about?