Sunday, September 10, 2006

More Thoughts on Metahistory and the Cosmic Path to 9-11

All our destinies are interwoven; and until the last of us has lived, the significance of the first cannot finally be clear. --Hans Urs von Balthasar

I was trying to place the controversy of the 9-11 movie in a larger context, when I thought of the great historian Christopher Dawson, who made the provocative and yet axiomatic assertion that being an eye witness to history is of no consequence whatsoever to historical insight. Obviously, most of us lived through the Clinton years, so we think we know what happened. We were there. But were we really, at least historically?

Dawson uses the example of the Battle of Hastings, which every British schoolchild evidently knows: “A visitor from another planet who witnessed the Battle of Hastings would possess far greater knowledge of the facts than any modern historian, yet this knowledge would not be historical knowledge for lack of any tradition to which it could be related; whereas the child who says ‘William the Conqueror 1066’ has already made his atom of knowledge a historical fact by relating it to a national tradition and placing it in the time-series of Christian culture.”

Similarly, an eye witness to the crucifixion of Jesus would have undoubtedly taken as much notice of the two criminals who were crucified beside him. Only in hindsight was the centrality of Jesus’ death recognized. It is fair to say that no one who witnessed it thought to themselves, “Hmm, interesting. This is the center and still point of history. Yesterday was BC. Tomorrow will be AD.”

As Dawson writes, “Behind the rational sequence of political and economic cause and effect, hidden spiritual forces are at work which confer on events a wholly new significance. The real meaning of history is something entirely different from that which the human actors in the historical drama themselves intend or believe.” A contemporary observer cannot have imagined that “the execution of an obscure Jewish religious leader in the first century of the Roman Empire would affect the lives and thoughts of millions who never heard the names of the great statesmen and generals of the age.”

Thus, there is an unavoidably eschatological aspect of history. Events cannot be fully understood without reference to their finality, that is, what they point toward and reveal only in the fullness of time. As Dawson says, “The pure fact is not as such historical. It only becomes historical when it can be brought in relation with a tradition so that it can be part of an organic whole.” Another historian, Dermot Quinn, writes that “The fact does not tell the story; the story, as it were, tells the fact. It is the latter that gives pattern and meaning; it is the former that lacks a meaning of its own.”

Therefore, in order to be a proper historian, you had better have your story right. And what is the story? Ah, that’s the question, isn’t it? For it is fair to say that left and right are operating under the umbrella of vastly different stories--politically, culturally, economically, psychologically, theologically, and in just about every other -ally way.

If history involved nothing more than the accumulation of facts, it would be of no use to us. Detail alone does not constitute history, any more than randomly played notes constitute harmony and melody. Only by knowing what history is for can we know what is of importance in history. Since history as it happens consists of unique and unrepeatable events, it is unintelligible unless bound into a larger scheme of order.

As Quinn puts it, “Randomness has no meaning. Yet to give meaning to events in time is to remove them from time itself, to deny them the singularity that makes them historical.” Likewise, as the philosopher Michael Polanyi argued, to see meaning beyond the local is to see it in the local. A fact does not and cannot speak for itself. Depending on your nonlocal understanding of history, you will see completely different facts and regard them very differently.

For Dawson, it was the incarnation of Christ that gave history its center and therefore significance: “Viewed from this center the history of humanity became an organic unity. Eternity had entered into time and henceforward the singular and temporal had acquired an eternal significance. The closed circle of time had been broken and a ladder had been let down from heaven to earth by which mankind could escape from the ‘sorrowful wheel’ which had cast its shadow over Greek and Indian thought, and go forward in newness of life to a new world.” On the other hand, people outside the Judeo-Christian tradition tended “to solve the problem of history by a radical denial of its significance."

Thus, Dawson admits his metahistorical prejudice at the outset. And whether they admit it or not, all historians operate under a similar “metahistory.” Without one, they could not “see” or imagine history at all. I know I have my own metahistory. It is outlined in my book, where I did my best to take into consideration all of the facts of existence--scientific, biological, psychological, anthropological, historical, and theological--and weave them into a tapestry of 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution. Based on this model, I know what is of historical significance to me. It is those things that either facilitate or impede the cosmic evolution of which human consciousness is the leading edge.

In ether worlds, I attempted to place history in the ultimate context, for in the absence of an ultimate context, secular history really is a dark prison from which there is no hope of escape: “It is a prison in which the human spirit confines itself when it is shut out of the wider world of reality. But as soon as the light comes, all the elaborate mechanisms that have been constructed for living in the dark become useless. The recovery of spiritual vision gives man back his spiritual freedom” (Dawson).

The radically secular culture of the left can only exist by keeping us in the dark. So don’t ever be surprised when they attack the Light.

When the prophets are silent and society no longer possesses any channel of communication with the divine world, the way to the lower depths is still open and man's frustrated spiritual powers will find their outlet in the unlimited will to power and destruction. --Christopher Dawson

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Day and Night Time History

I really like Jonah Goldberg. He’s a guy who wears his intellect rather lightly, but is actually quite brilliant. If he wanted to, he could be just like those pretentious academic windbags of the left, but he just seems to have a pleasant and unassuming temperament.

In this latest editorial, Analogy vs. Analogy, Goldberg touches on something I’ve been thinking about, the question of what lessons, if any, we can really draw from history. Human beings cannot help being historical, for the simple reason that we exist in time, whereas animals essentially exist in the passing moment. But what is time? More on that below.

Here is an excerpt from Goldberg’s piece:

“’Example is the school of mankind,’ proclaimed Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, ‘and they will learn at no other.’

“Burke was disparaging the folly of French revolutionaries who believed that man could break the iron chains of history and create utopias through willpower and planning.

“This argument about whether history has anything to teach us has been the essence of the left-right debate for most of the last two centuries. Conservatives said: ‘There's nothing new under the sun.’ The left said: ‘Until now!’

".... [M]y favorite summary of this mindset comes from Stuart Chase, the intellectual often credited with coining the phrase ‘New Deal’ for FDR. ‘Are our plans wrong?’ he asked. ‘Who knows? Can we tell from reading history? Hardly.’”

Goldberg then goes on to point out that in the present divide between left and right, each side is guided by a different historical analogy. For the right “it is 1938 in Iran and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is Hitler,” whereas for the left it is always Vietnam: “For many liberals of a certain generation, Vietnam is a universal peg, fitting perfectly into analytical holes of any shape. Indeed, the closest thing we get to a neat left-right divide on foreign policy these days is between those who see Vietnam as the Rosetta stone of international conundrums and those who see early 20th-century Europe as the universal translator.”

But are either of these analogies ultimately useful? History clearly has a phenomenal aspect (i.e., that part which we may know) and a noumenal aspect (whatever it is in itself). And of the phenomenal aspect of history, only a small subset of that is available to us in the form of written history. In other words, as Goldberg points out “we have a tendency to look for our car keys where the light is good. Our usable past is the past that is illuminated to us.”

“But what if there are historical parallels lurking in the shadows of our ignorance? What if the jihadists are more like the Muslim Barbary pirates made famous in the Marine Hymn with the line about 'the shores of Tripoli'? Or maybe they're more like the Thugees, an 18th-century murder cult in colonial India. Or the Panslavist Black Hand.... The point is, we don't know. But surely the ocean of historical experience cannot be summed up by the tributaries of Vietnam and Nazi Germany.”

One thing we do know--and this is without historical parallel--is that, thanks to technology, “second-rate powers like Iran, as well as basket cases like North Korea and modern-day Thugees like Bin Laden, can quickly attain destructive power Hitler only dreamed of. As science proceeds, this reality will loom ever more frightening.... It's ironic that just when the left has come to admire the utility of history, history may be offering us a blank page. The sobering question is: What kind of analogy will we provide for future generations?”

In my formulation--borrowed from Valentin Tomberg--I find it useful to consider history as having a “day” aspect and a “night” aspect. For example, the 9-11 movie that will be shown on ABC this Sunday night gives us a glimpse into the night time of history between the two Twin Tower attacks in 1993 and 2001. This is why it has the left so hysterical, for it completely undermines their clean and simplistic “day time” narrative of those years. But clearly, during the bright and carefree Clintonian daze, sinister events were incubating in the night time womb of history. And I’m not even blaming Clinton. We all wanted to ignore the gathering threat and sleepwalk through history at the time.

In fact, the majority of the country--and virtually all of the left--would like to return to the undisturbed slumber of daytime history. George Bush, on the other hand, is vilified for confronting threats head on while they incubate in the dark. Is a nightmare real if you wake up before it happened? This is the problem with the immature and anti--intellectual left. They chide Bush because Korea developed nukes on his watch, but also for preventing Saddam from developing them. Let’s be honest--anyone who thinks that Uday and Qsay would not have developed nuclear capability is just kidding themselves.

History, according to Tomberg, “is not to be understood as something which plays itself out on one level, but must be comprehended also in its dimension of height and depth.” Furthermore, “the key concepts for understanding the night aspect of history are ‘degeneration’ and ‘regeneration.’” Degeneration involves a gradual, step-by-step descent from a higher level, while regeneration is the opposite: re-ascent to a higher level. This is why, both personally and collectively, in the absence of periodic “booster shots” from above, things will simply degenerate below. Our much-rumored "fall" didn't just happen once upon a timeless, but is repeated on a moment-by-moment basis.

These periodic booster shots often enter history like depth charges from above. An avatar is not merely a human embodiment of the logos, but anyone--whether political, scientific, military, artistic, or religious--with a divine mission. For example, I consider the American founders as celestial emissaries par excellence, charged with a divine mission to regenerate a literally exhausted mankind. Subtract these and similar avatars from history, and history becomes a dark place indeed: imagine history without Abraham, Paul, Lincoln, Churchill--all people who saw into the night of history and altered its course.

As Tomberg puts it, “All movements of a social, political, artistic, intellectual, and religious kind may indeed have different speeds of devolution, but one thing they have in common: if no reinforcing impulse is given after a certain time, they will inevitably exhaust themselves. A thing of motion or or of life becomes a corpse unless 'reawakening impulses' intervene.”

Now the reactionary, illiberal left has repackaged itself as “progressive,” when the very nature of leftist assumptions prevents it. Because they are wholly horizontal and “live by day,” they can only regenerate themselves on their own excrement, so to speak. If you have any understanding of Freud’s developmental model, you will appreciate this in a quite literal way when reading, say, the explosively anal missives of dailykos. Talk about a historical rearguard action.

But in its own fumbling way, the conservative movement is clearly oriented to the “above,” always mindful of looking for regeneration outside the things of this world. The inspiration of the American founders did not come from the visible world. Indeed, they even say so: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” and “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men...”

History is a circle, but it is an open circle, or spiral. However, it can only maintain the upward spiral if it is specifically oriented to the finality of spiritual ideals that are not located in the field of time. These revivifying impulses from above eventually exhaust themselves unless we keep them alive. This is the esoteric meaning of conservatism. In its absence, gravity takes over and human nature takes care of the rest. Grace is to hitch a ride on one of the ubiquitous spiritual streams that course through the arteries of the cosmos, luring us toward our deustiny.

The historian of the future... will not compose a history of civilization--that is, the story of technological progress and sociopolitical struggles--but will trace the path of mankind through the stages of purification and illumination to its ultimate attainment of perfection. His narrative will detail mankind's temptations and their vanquishment, the standards set by particular individuals and groups, and the progressive lighting-up of new insights and the awakening of spiritual faculties among human beings. --Valentin Tomberg

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Struggling With the Issue of Faith (updated 9.05.07)

That’s the title of Dr. Sanity’s thoughtful post today. Being in this somewhat murky state of mind, I decided to just steal it rather than come up with my own title.

In an interview last year, Siggy asked Dr. Sanity if she believed in God, and her response was, “I guess I have to say that I’m an agnostic and don’t take a position on whether God exists or not. I am aware of a very strong emotional part of me that wants very much to believe in an all powerful and all good deity that cares about me and all of humanity. But I also a very strong scientific and rational part that demands objective evidence of the existence of a Supreme Being. These two parts of me exist in a sort of dynamic tension right now and I expect that some day I might find a way to integrate them. Or, maybe not.”

Today, a year later, she says “That dynamic tension remains and the struggle continues unabated. I don't seem to have progressed too far along in resolving that conflict, but I have progressed. And, it is reassuring to realize that Siggy is correct when he says, “To struggle with faith is as much a part of faith as anything else.”

I think that last statement is very accurate, in the identical sense that we could say “To struggle with knowledge is as much a part of truth as anything else,” or “To struggle with love is as much a part of relationships as anything else.” Humans, by definition, are fated to inhabit--or at least span--the vast middle realm between being and nothingness, the absolute and the relative, matter and spirit, time and eternity. The paradoxes of human existence are impossibly difficult if you give them even a moment’s reflection.

Despite all of our scientific and technological advances over the past 300 years, I see no evidence that human beings are any happier than they have ever been. If anything, happiness might be even more elusive, because life is so much easier than it was for past generations, in that we expect things to go well and are devastated when tragedy and disappointment hit, which they inevitably do. No one in the past felt they were entitled to the things we take for granted--health, plentiful food, absence of physical pain, a long life, thriving children. Thus, it was no doubt easier not to become overly attached to the temporary and transient. Death was a constant reminder of the fragility and fickleness of existence. (In fact, this proximity to death probably conributes to the fact that the Islamists are willing to die for their idiotic beliefs, while so much of the West cannot muster the enthusiasm to defend itself.)

You could probably even say that this attitude prevailed in the West--let alone in undeveloped nations--through the great depression and World War II. As recently as the 1970’s, inflation was completely misunderstood by economists, and therefore untamable. The “boom or bust” business cycle really only began to seriously flatten after the Reagan revolution, in that our inevitable recessions are far less severe than in the past.

LIkewise, I am blessed to have diabetes at a time when it is so easy to control it with different types of insulin and instantaneous digital readouts of my blood sugar, but my mother, just one generation before, had no such control, with devastating results. My father died at 57 of an abdominal aneurysm that is easily detectable today with a $35 dollar exam at a health fair.

Given these profound existential changes, I think it is natural that humans began to focus on this side of the “time-eternity” divide, and look for our spiritual sustenance in the things of the world, so to speak--relationships, children, possessions, experiences. But does it work? I suppose for some. For others--perhaps we’re just neurotic, I don’t know--there is nothing in the field of time that will suffice or answer to this deeper call of the Spirit. It is a part of us that cries out for something that is not found in the objects of the world, and is only satisfied by one thing.

Is it real, this part of us that cries out for transcendence? I don’t know if that is the proper question. It’s somewhat analogous to falling in love and asking yourself if love is real or just an illusion, a trick of the nervous system. I’m imagining the Gagboy 10 or 20 years down the line, when he is at the peak of his enchantment with the opposite form of the complementary gender. “I know it looks like women are attractive, but don’t be fooled. It’s just Darwin playing tricks on you, trying to get you to reproduce. In reality, woman aren’t attractive or unattractive. To the extent that you find them beautiful, just remember that it’s an illusion programmed into you by evolution.”

“Gee, thanks, Dad!”

But isn’t this the same kind of “sophisticated” advice we might receive from the typical college professor regarding religion? “God? Probably nothing more than an illusion programmed into our nervous system. You can ignore it.” But doesn’t that just beg the question of whether everything isn’t just an illusion built into our nervous system, including the statement that everything is? That way madness lies. But also tenure, so there are compensations.

If we consider religiosity on a continuum from extreme atheism on the left side (“zero”) to mystical union on the right (“one hundred”), let us suppose that Dr. Sanity is at 50. Well, probably more like 49. I myself started at closer to zero, or at least veered in that direction after an initial interest in Eastern religions prompted by the Beatles’ (especially George’s) adoption of yoga. But I became seriously interested in philosophy during my college years, and virtually all modern philosophy is essentially atheistic, whether existentialism, positivism, phenomenology, what have you.

Just recently I have begun to think of religiosity as simply “the right way to live,” so to speak. After all, these are traditions that somehow nourished the human soul for hundreds and thousands of years, almost as if we were made for them and they were made for us. Regardless of whether or not we may attribute these traditions to a creator, I find that there is a wisdom in authentic religion that far surpasses what any single mind could have come up with.

It’s a bit like marriage and the family. No one “invented” either, but for most people it is simply the “right way” to live. Sure, you can experiment with other ways. Like Bill Maher, you can date porn stars, substitute dogs for children, and worship gaia, but is this really the way we’re built? Does he look happy or well adjusted to you?

I didn’t actually dive headlong into religion until 1995. In my case it was yoga, but once I did, the part of me that was hungering for transcendence all along began to “grow.” It reminds me of what they say about babies--”sleep begets sleep.” That is, if they nap more during the day, they sleep better at night. Likewise, faith begets faith. Just by taking that leap and living in the way humans have always lived, something automatic seems to kick in.

I don’t mean to trivialize it, but it reminds me of sports. I think it has to do with the arrival of the Gagboy last year, but before that, I was an absolutely fanatical Dodger fan. To be honest, the spell started to be broken when they were purchased by Fox from the O’Malley family, but from the age of nine, I lived and died with each win or loss. And yet--especially as an adult--I would sometimes reflect on the absurdity of my devotion. As Seinfeld said, when it comes right down to it, since the players constantly change, you're essentially rooting for laundry. But was I any happier when I thought this way? No, not at all. In fact, it just spoiled the fun.

There’s an old saying in baseball: “Don’t think, you’ll hurt the ballclub.” I think most philosophy falls into this category. There are ways to think that will be metaphysically fruitful and add to your fulfillment, other essentially circular forms of thought that are spiritually barren and go from nowhere to nothing (and certainly won't help you hit a curveball). To be honest, they aren’t worthy of man, itself a statement that touches on the mystery of what man actually is.

The "good news" of religion is that the world is not a closed circle, that it is not an eternal prison, that it has an exit and an entrance.... "Perdition" is to be caught up in the eternal circulation of the world of the closed circle... [whereas] "salvation" is life in the world of the open circle, or spiral, where there is both exit and entrance. --Meditations on the Tarot

Monday, September 04, 2006

One Cosmos Under a False God

Regarding yesterday’s post, Grant has graciously conceded that, as Will put it, “obnoxiousness in the defense of the Spirit is no vice" (it certainly can be, but it is clearly not always).

“However,” notes Grant, “there remains the sticking point of unity. In most credible spiritual systems, and as implied by the title of your own book and blog, everything that exists is of one piece, making Springsteen, moonbat that he is, contiguous with you, me, and everyone else. There is an appearance of division among people into separate beings but it seems clear that there is no actual division at all on a deeper level.

“The implication I am making is that everyone is the Self, and therefore it is logical to treat everyone as least as well as one would treat oneself. Following this line of thought, would you call yourself a moonbat or a spokeshole if you found yourself wrong about something? [Er, yes. I have many times made reference to my youthful jackassery.] Suppose you were mistaken about certain things, and you wanted to firmly correct your own behavior or beliefs--wouldn't you handle your self-correction with love, consideration and respect, even while being firm and severe? [Not really. In these matters there is no higher consideration than truth.]

“People are harsh on themselves sometimes--they may have inner dialogues that are terribly cruel. As rocker Graham Parker put it, ‘nobody hurts you harder than yourself. This self-inflicted pain is counterproductive. Therapists inculcate self-regard whenever possible, along with an ability to critique oneself honestly but without rancor or shame. [This is not true. Self-regard is worthless, if not harmful, if it is not based on an accurate view of reality, both internal and external. Both spirituality and good therapy aim at truth, not “self-regard.” Likewise, we should not treat others as they want to be treated, but as we--and by extension they---deserve to be treated. ]

“To finish my argument, I just have a lingering 10% suspicion that obnoxiousness, while effective for fostering changes, is unhealthy for the human corpus at large, the group Self, and the purposes that obnoxiousness serves could be accomplished in healthier ways. Could not Springsteen be seen as a mistaken friend rather than an alien entity to be belittled and discounted? Does Self love preclude severity and the ability to critique others?”

There are several points to be addressed here. First of all, you are confusing the meaning of “one,” something that new-age types generally do (although I have no idea whether you are in that category). As Coleridge put it, "two very different meanings lurk in the word, one."

As I wrote some time ago, “it cannot be forgotten that the positing of the One is not merely a dogma, but an experience--an experience vouchsafed to Moses on Sinai, as well as others before and since. In this regard, it is very similar to Vedanta, in that the Upanishads simply record direct encounters with the ultimate Mystery.”

“Allegorically, we enjoyed a continuous oneness with the Creator in Eden. However, this was not unity but oneness, something clearly not as lofty as unity, for unity requires our separateness from God, but then reconciliation at a higher, more complex and differentiated level, not a lower one of mere undifferentiated blending.... The name of God is the Name of the Unity of All Being. (Unity, not oneness.)”

The analogy with your body is exact. Your body, with all of its inconceivable complexity, is somehow a unity (in fact, disease, both physical and mental, may be thought of as a breakdown of this unity). If it were merely one, then it would simply be a pile of undifferentiated protoplasm.

In another post, I wrote that

“The difference between spiritual progressives and secular reactionaries is that they worship different gods--or more accurately, they have entirely incompatible understandings of the meaning of One. There is an antinomy between these two Ones: there is a left one and a right One--or more precisely, a higher One and a lower one.

“The Christian hermeticist Valentin Tomberg uses a visual image to conceptualize the problem. Imagine two cones placed base to base. At the top there is a point, in the middle an ‘equator’ where the bases meet, and at the bottom another point. Now imagine this as a sort of crystal. At the top is the white point where pure light, which is the synthesis of all colors, enters.

“As the light moves down toward the equator it becomes more and more differentiated into the various colors of the spectrum, until they reach their maximum degree of separation and intensity at the equator. Moving further down, the colors begin to merge until, at the bottom point, they once again lose all of their distinction and become black, which represents the blending and confusion of all colors. There is one sort of synthesis or Oneness above (the white point) and an entirely different kind of oneness below (the black point).

“The white point is analogous to wisdom, for it represents the underlying unity of all the different types of knowledge available at the equator, where all of the individual colors represent various disciplines and sciences.

“Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this, for it touches on the central point of my book and of this blog. The synthesis of all our seemingly contradictory truths lies ‘above,’ toward the white light of wisdom. If two seemingly contradictory things are true, say, the Book of Genesis and the theory of evolution, then their common source of truth must be found above, not below. There is a way to resolve the contradiction, but not by finding a compromise between the two at the "equator" or by simply confusing and blending them together below.

“For example, teaching intelligent design as an adjunct or alternative to natural selection is simply adding another color to the equator. Even worse, teaching it as the only truth would take both the Creator and science down to the black point, merging and blending science and theology in an unhealthy way. In fact, this is what is done in the Islamic world. Yes, they have intellectual and spiritual unity there, but it is the bad unity of the black point: One Nation Under God’s Boot Heel, so to speak. The identical thing happens in secular totalitarian states, or on leftist college campuses, where intellectual diversity is not permitted. What we want is to allow maximum diversity but to synthesize it on higher level, not eliminate it on a lower one: this is the meaning of One Cosmos Under God.

“Ironically, the secular left in America regard their fellow religious citizens as an incipient Taliban that wishes to enforce a black-point unity, when the opposite is true. That is, to the secular left, there is no white point above or black point below. Rather, there is only the equator, where we all live in our beautiful, diverse cultures and subcultures, none better than any other: multiculturalism, moral relativism, no objective or ‘privileged’ truth. And yet, multiculturalism and diversity are enforced from on high despite the fact that the left supposedly does not recognize the existence of morally superior cultural perspectives. What’s going on?

“In reality, the left is enforcing their absolute black point god, but simply denying it. They don't really care what culture you're from, so long as you are committed to diversity itself, and intolerant of any other view. This is nothing less than the unholy god of the black point flexing its muscle while pretending to be just another beautiful color in the reignbelow.

“In reality, there is no absolute system at the equator that can synthesize knowledge and explain our existence. There is only diversity and contradiction there, which is as it should be. Otherwise there would be no creation, nothing separate from the Creator. However, it is only the white light above that illuminates and unites everything below. We must maintain a commitment to that absolute white light that is reflected in all the relative truths at the equator, not to this or that relative truth enforced absolutely from below.

“Or we may simply affirm the trinitarian root of all goodness that is found on any coin: Liberty, In God We Trust, and E Pluribus Unum.”

On this Middle Earth plane we inhabit, God’s very purpose--or so we have heard from the wise--is to create a Unity starting from scratch, or from “bang,” if you will. Human beings are central to this task, as we embody the full spectrum of cosmic existence, and serve as the very link between above and below, the celestial and the mundane, the one and the many. There are forces opposed to this evolutionary progress, and it is our task to correct them, occasionally with divine severity. So yes, ultimately I am “one” with Bruce Springsteen and other moonbats, only on a level of reality that is inaccessible to them by virtue of their own benighted philosophies.

For it is written, "sometimes you have to crack on a bad egg to make an Om alight." Zen masters do it all the time. WHACK! Speaking of which, here's a koan: who's buried in Grant's duum?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Higher Bobnoxiousness

Reader Grant writes, “Jeez Bob, in the course of this blogorama on music you have referred to Bruce Springsteen as a ‘moonbat’ and Ann Coulter* as spiritually and aesthetically ‘autistic.’ Even if elements of what you say are true, still it smacks of hyperbole and cuteness. I am willing to concede the existence of your much-bruited obnoxiousness at this point.

“The question which arises: can obnoxiousness and godliness coexist in an enlightened person, or is this combination diagnostic of a divided and egoistic persona? Have there been obnoxious seers and saints in history, or have they all been, like Jesus, invariably free from the tendency to noxious commentary?

“I request that the issue of obnoxiousness in spirituallity be taken out for a test drive in one of your blog entries, Dr. Godwin, if you don't mind.”

First of all, it’s somewhat difficult to nail down the precise meaning of this term. Webster's’ Dictionary defines obnoxious as “liable to a hurtful influence,” or “odiously or disgustingly objectionable,” while the Oxford simply says “extremely unpleasant.” However, in common parlance, the word usually just refers to a garden-variety jerk, like Howard Dean, Keith Olbermann, Randi Rhodes or Bill Maher. Sometimes it refers to people who don’t know how not to be a jerk--Jimmy Carter, Helen Thomas, Maureen Dowd, Ted Kennedy.

However, there is also a form of obnoxiousness that is both temporary and beneficial. It is something that comes into play in both psychotherapy and in spirituality, for both enterprises involve breaking through defenses and introducing unpleasant, sometimes even catastrophic, truths.

In this regard, all effective psychotherapists and true spiritual teachers had better be obnoxious at one time or another. A therapist who does not occasionally confront the patient with unpleasant truths is likely to be little more than a “hand holder” or “professional friend.” And a guru or spiritual teacher who does not point the finger directly at you and say, in effect, “You are one f***** up individual,” is not likely the genuine article.

In this latter sense of the term, I don’t have time to count the many obnoxious sayings of Jesus: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” He says that most people are incapable of walking his narrow path, refers to listeners as a “brood of vipers,” goes ballistic on the money changers, curses a fig tree, calls people hypocrites, characterizes the religious authorities as “fools and blind,” and frankly says that most people are headed straight for hell.

Likewise, in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna repeatedly rebukes Arjuna for his cowardice, ignorance, and narrow-mindedness: “If you refuse to fight this righteous war.... you will be a sinner, and disgraced. People will speak ill of you throughout the ages. You will be like the mooonbats, like Bruce Springsteen.” “In every age I come back to deliver the holy” and “destroy the sinner.” “The ignorant, the faithless, the doubter goes to his destruction.” “The entire world is deluded by moods and mental states.... The evil-doers turn not toward me. They are sunk low among mortals. Their judgment is lost in the maze of Maya, until the heart is human no longer, changed within to the heart of a devil, like Jimmy Carter."

The Upanishads also make it clear that most people are idiots: “Rare is he who, looking for immortality, shuts his eyes to what is without and beholds the Self. Fools follow the desires of the flesh and fall into the snare of all-encompassing death.” “Worlds there are without suns, covered up with darkness. To these after death go the ignorant, slayers of the Self.”

Shankara is particularly rough on the metaphysically ignorant, referring to them as “suicides” who “clutch at the unreal and destroy themselves. What greater fool can there be than the man who has obtained this rare human birth... and yet fails, through delusion, to realize his own highest good?” “Know that the deluded man who walks the dreadful path of sense-craving moves nearer to his ruin with every step.”

I am also reminded of an obnoxious comment made by Sri Aurobindo about why most people are unsuited for his narrow spiritual path: "I do not readily accept disciples, as this path of Yoga is a difficult one and can be followed only if there is a special call." In another letter he balked at the notion of trying to create some kind of mass movement, because "For serious work it is a poison.... a movement in the case of a work like mine means the founding of a school or a sect or some other damned nonsense. It means that hundreds or thousands of useless people join in and corrupt the work or reduce it to a pompous farce from which the Truth that was coming down recedes into secrecy and silence."

And Schuon probably made more obnoxious statements than even Jesus or Petey: “Contemporary man, in spite of his being marked by certain experiences due to the senescence of humanity, is spiritually soft and ineffective and intellectually ready to commit every possible betrayal, which will seem to him as summits of intelligence.... In a general way, the man of the ‘last days’ is a blunted creature, and the best proof of this is that the only ‘dynamism’ of which he is still capable is that which tends downwards, and which is no more than a passivity taking advantage of cosmic gravity; it is the agitation of a man who lets himself be carried away by a torrent and who imagines that he is creating this torrent himself by his agitation.”

So, am I obnoxious? I certainly hope so, at least to that brood of vipers out there who have somehow accidentally stumbled upon my blog.

*****

*Not quite accurate. I simply said, in response to someone's comment that Coulter was a "Deadhead," that I wasn't surprised, because she strikes me as somewhat spiritually and aesthetically "autistic." I meant this more in the technical sense of a mode of intelligence which is lacking or underdeveloped. Perhaps Grant reads Coulter for spiritual sustenance or aesthetic insights, but she strikes me as almost entirely worldly and political, at least based upon her written and spoken word. One could say the same thing about most political infotainers, both left and right. I readily acknowledge being autistic in certain areas in which they excel.

I do have high regard for, say, Mark Steyn's highly developed aesthetic judgment. If he were to somehow emerge as a Deadhead, then, out of respect for his authority, I might have to reconsider my stance. Likewise, I find Dennis Prager to possess unusual spiritual depth in a field not known for it.

On the other hand, Springsteen is an unalloyed moonbat--an arrogant, pernicious fool and useful idiot for the hostile forces intent on destroying even the possibility of truth and decency. He is much worse than an infotainer. He is a spokeshole for the other side.

******

On townhall.com today, Jesus, Jihadists and a Just War, by Doug Giles:

"There’s a prevalent perception among Christians that when it comes to conflict (like the War on Terror), Christ’s teachings go limper than an ED laden Pillsbury Dough Boy after six hours in a Sioux sweat lodge.

"Yeah, Jesus is seen in certain sectors of emasculated evangelicalism and in some spiritually castrated Catholic circles as an altruistic bearded lady who traipsed around Israel spitting out courteous clichés and nifty narratives like an over-medicated Garrison Keillor....

"When you take the accounts of Christ’s life straight... you come away with an entirely different picture.... You do not see Him as a passive peacemaker in the face of evil.

"So, what about all those “love your enemy,” “do good to those who harm you,” “turn the other cheek,” “howdy, bad neighbor” verses? Well, as far as I can tell, these passages apply to personal insults and injury... like the ones I get week after week from those who hate what I write....

"However, when it comes to terrorists sticking planes into buildings and blowing up trains, buses and Pizza Huts around the planet, I think the balance of the scripture and the common sense God’s given us show the multifaceted Jesus morph from being a gentle lamb into a rough lion....

"So. What do I suggest a Christian/Christian church should do? Try this... Drop the repellently corny “let’s love ‘em” slop. You sound, and are, ridiculous."

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Circle Game

First of all, thank you for all the kind comments. I guess my audience isn’t very large, but very loyal. And obviously very hungry for a certain point of view that is not really available elsewhere. If it were, I wouldn’t need me. I could just be someone else.

It is true that when you submit yourself to a spiritual process, some strange and unpredictable things happen. In fact, I would say that that is one of the stamps of authenticity, because it makes you very aware of the fact that you are dealing with “the Other,” however you conceptualize that Other.

It is definitely a “spiraling” process as well. And what is a spiral? A deepening circle. You keep circling around the axis of yourself, but with each pass, hopefully you move a little deeper. You even keep encountering the same things--the same patterns, the same impasses, the same issues, both personal and existential--but you see them from a different perspective. What was above you is now below you. What contained you is now contained by you. But there are always new obstacles and vistas.

I was trying to convey this idea with the circularity of my book: “We make a detour around the universe to get back to the self.” But it is not the same self you started out with. While you have rearrived at the celestial resting place from which you started out, you may now know it for the first time.

Over the past year, I feel as if I’ve completed another go-round, developing and expanding some of the ideas in One Cosmos. But here I am, back where I started. It’s time for another cycle to begin, but there are cycles of input and output, cultivation and harvesting, reflection and expression.

I feel the need to cycle into the cultivation and reflection mode on pain of repeating the same cycle instead of taking it a notch deeper. I am presently working on a book proposal, and that requires some reflection and synthesis. If nothing else, I must pause and take a breath.

One of the reasons I removed the knowa's arkive, or bobblehead reliquary, is that I want to rummage through it in order to see what is useful for the next project, which will be to history and politics what One Cosmos was to science and theology. It will focus in on the microcosmos of our historical sprint down from the trees of Eastern Africa, into the historical flatlands below, and up the Upanishadic tree of life at the end of history, its roots aloft, its branches down below. I believe the outcome of our current crisis hinges on the mass of humanity making it safely to that other side of history.

In so doing, I will republish some of those things, only edited and reworked. Plus, I will post whenever the spirit moves me, instead of trying to post something every day. In short, I am stepping back into the unknown, hoping for some even stranger things to happen.

And yes, Phil, I will continue updating the musical recommendations (books as well).

Give Me My Rapture Today
(by Van Morrison)

There are strange things happening every day
I hear music up above my head
Fill me up with your wonder
Give me my rapture today.

Let me contemplate the presence so divine
Let me sing all day and never get tired
Fill me up from your loving cup
Give me my rapture.

Won't you guide me through the dark night of the soul
That I may better understand your way
Let me be just and worthy to receive
All the blessings of the Lord into my life.

Let me purify my thoughts and words and deeds
That I may be a vehicle for thee
Let me hold to the truth in the darkest hour
Let me sing to the glory of the Lord.
Give me my rapture today.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Blog that Can be Blogged is Not the Eternal Blog

There are times that I think to myself that this blog has come to the end of the line, and that there’s nothing left to say but “any questions?”

After all, even the Bible, the Upanishads, and the Tao Te Ching don’t go on forever. Especially in the case of the latter two, they made their points in an extremely compact and pithy way, and then got out of the way. The fact that they are “closed” gives them all the more authority, for it forces one to look more deeply within the text (and the Self) than to keep looking beyond it. I’m trying to imagine Lao-tzu with a blog, but this would definitely fly in the face of his own counsel to

Express yourself completely,
then keep quiet.

In fact, Lao-tzu tells us the score in the very first stanza of the Tao Te Ching:

The tao that can be blogged
is not the eternal Tao.

and in the last stanza:

True words aren’t bloggable;
bloggable words aren’t true.
Wise men don’t endlessly blogviate to prove their point;
men who endlessly blogviate to prove their point get on my nerves.

If Lao-tzu is correct, then instead of eloquently trying to prove my point, it may be time to shut up in order to facilitate some actual truth and wisdom. Seal the loose canon of the Blogavad Pete-a, so to speak, and move on to my next Mission Impractical.

So, what have I left out? Does anyone have any questions or ideas for future topics, or have we pretty much covered the weirderfront?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Evolutionary Politics: Conserving the Radical Spiritual Revolution of the Founders (updated 9.07.07)

Unfortunately, I started something I am unable to finish this morning. Hardly even enough time to spell-check, much less coherence check. We'll have to continue the discussion tomorrow.

I have noticed that many people reject religion on the basis of a fundamental misunderstanding of it, which is easy to do, given the way religion is depicted by its enemies in the liberal media and by our profane culture at large. If that were my only exposure to religion, I too would surely reject it.

A case in point is this editorial by Heather Mac Donald, a secular conservative woman who is very uncomfortable with what she perceives as the dominance of the modern conservative intellectual movement by the Christian right:

“Upon leaving office in November 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft thanked his staff for keeping the country safe since 9/11. But the real credit, he added, belonged to God. Ultimately, it was God’s solicitude for America that had prevented another attack on the homeland.

“Many conservatives hear such statements with a soothing sense of approbation. But others—count me among them—feel bewilderment, among much else. If God deserves thanks for fending off assaults on the United States after 9/11, why is he not also responsible for allowing the 2001 hijackings to happen in the first place?

“Skeptical conservatives—one of the Right’s less celebrated subcultures—are conservatives because of their skepticism, not in spite of it. They ground their ideas in rational thinking and (nonreligious) moral argument. And the conservative movement is crippling itself by leaning too heavily on religion to the exclusion of these temperamentally compatible allies.”

MacDonald provides a worthy and thoughtful critique, not at all like the angry and unsophisticated atheists of the secular left. Still, it seems that her only exposure to religion has been to the kooky and/or superficial kind, but it should go without saying that kookiness and superficiality are most certainly the norm in virtually all human endeavors. One might just as well reject music on the basis of the aural garbage one hears on the radio these days.

MacDonald seems to have the greatest difficulty in reconciling an omnipotent God with the existence of evil. For example,

“The father of Elizabeth Smart, the Salt Lake City girl abducted from her home in 2002, thanked God for answering the public’s prayers for her safe return.... But why did the prayers for five-year-old Samantha Runnion go unheeded when she was taken from her Southern California home in 2002 and later sexually assaulted and asphyxiated?”

But this simply highlights the incoherence of a particular religious view that reduces God to an omnipotent anthropomorphism. This is closer to the unsophisticated manner in which Muslims view Allah, as “vertically” causing everything to happen on a moment by moment basis. I have heard many Christians of this temperament say words to the effect of “everything happens for a reason”--i.e., God caused it--which makes no sense whatsoever to me. Mac Donald is correct to reject such a simplistic view.

Personally, I am drawn to religion because it is a much deeper and more sophisticated metaphysic, and explains much more than any secular philosophy. It also illuminates dimensions of reality that will tend to go undetected or undeveloped in the absence of religion--the holy, the sacred, the existence of grace, etc. But the idea of an omnipotent personal God that answers to one’s beck and call seems to me fundamentally unchristian (and certainly un-vedantic). After all--one is tempted to add, “hello?!”--in Christianity, God himself is crucified in history. What do you think that means, that God himself fully submits to history, to the relative, to the temporal?

As I have emphasized before, a merely mental understanding of God is entirely insufficient in my view. Anyone who reduces religion to a mere literalism has given the game away to the rationalism of the ego.

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 noumenon untouched, unknown and unknowable. This is precisely where Kant erred, because in saying that the noumenon 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.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Higher Sanity (8.25.11)

Ahh, if only everyone were sane. But what does it mean to be sane? The dictionary is of little help to us--it simply says that to be sane is to be healthy, to be "free from hurt or disease," to be "mentally sound, especially able to anticipate and appraise the effects of one's actions," or "proceeding from a sound mind: rational."

First of all, it is not an either/or question. That is, there are clearly degrees of sanity, and therefore, degrees of insanity. Apparently--except at the extremes--all of is are more or less sane and insane at the same time, or sane about some things and less sane about others. This implies that there are degrees of reality, as opposed to the more stark dichotomy of reality/unreality.

Sanity cannot be reduced to merely being rational, for a rationalism pushed to the extremes becomes patently irrational. Rather, reason must always be in the service of something else--something called intelligence, and intelligence is beyond reason. In other words, no rational operation accounts for intelligence itself or is able to judge why and how some people are so much more intelligent than others. Only intelligence can discern and judge intelligence.

And what is intelligence? If intelligence is to be a useful or meaningful construct, it can only mean one thing: the mind's conformation to reality. For no matter how high someone's IQ, if their intellect isn't conformed to reality, how intelligent are they really?

But what is reality? Animals are beautifully conformed to reality, but does that mean that they are sane? No, because they are conformed only to the lowest degree of reality, the outer shell or "epidermis" of the cosmos, the material world.

Unlike animals, human beings are consciously aware of the paradox of inhabiting two worlds, an external world of objects and quantitites, and a subjective world of thought, imagination, values, feeling and will. Thus, if sanity is conformation to reality, what does this mean as it pertains to the subjective world?

We are currently in the midst of a triangulated war for the future of civilization between Islam, Western European Socialism, and American style liberty, free markets and individualism. Only one of them is sane, or at least more sane than the others, i.e., more adequately conformed to both external reality (the way the world works) and internal reality (the way humans are). However, it would be a mistake to view this struggle in terms of three competing ideologies on a horizontal plane. Rather, like most important historical events, this war is taking place in vertical historical space.

In this regard, you may view the United States and its spiritual allies as reflecting a transcendent position above, the Western Europeans occupying a fully immanent one on the two dimensional plane in between, and the Islamists down below, in a transcendently evil and infra-human space. Importantly, this infra-human domain is not to be confused with the animal realm, for there is no animal that would or could sacrifice its own life for a transcendently evil cause, as do Islamists.

Most of the real wholesale evil in history is caused by groups inhabiting this lower vertical area. Moreover, just as there are messiahs and avatars who can purportedly "come down" to the earth plane and embody the upper transcendent, there are avatars of evil who embody and give voice to the lower vertical: bin Laden, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, et al. The awesome power of these men is trans-human (or infrahuman, to be exact), and cannot be explained by recourse to any mere human psychology.

If there is a purely animal-human realm lacking in transcendence, then it is actually the immanent-horizontal space occupied by Western Europe and the international left. Although they think of America as "selfish" because of our low taxes and smaller government, it is actually the other way around. While socialism may superficially appear to be more humane, Mark Steyn points out that "nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: Once a fellow is enjoying the fruits of government health care and all the rest, he couldn't give a hoot about the broader social interest; he's got his, and if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence, well, as long as they can keep the checks coming till he's dead, it's fine by him." In this sense, social democracy is eventually "explicitly anti-social" (NR, 11-7-05).

There is a further corrosion of the soul that takes place with European style socialism, in that, because it elevates material desires to the highest, it cynically cuts the heart out of any transcendent view of the world, anything beyond one's immediate animal needs. As Steyn explains, it perversely elevates secondary priorities such as mandated six week vacations over primary ones such as family and national defense. And political change eventually becomes almost impossible, because the great majority have become dependent on government, which causes a sort of "adherence" to horizontal. You cannot rouse the ideals of a nation that has lost its ideals. Any politician who threatens the entitlement system cannot get elected in Western Europe. The situation is analogous to an addict who has given over his power to the pusher.

By attempting to create the perfect society on earth through government coercion, it actually diminishes our humanity, since it relieves human beings of having to exert the continual moral effort to make the world a better place, as this is only possible by maintaining contact with the realm of transcendent moral ideals. In other words, European socialism is actually a flight from morality, thereby making people less humane, not more. It is a bogus kind of freedom, because it merely frees one from the vertical while condemning one to the horizontal. As the new Pope has written, "I am convinced that the destruction of transcendence is the actual amputation of human beings from which all other sicknesses flow. Robbed of their real greatness they can only find escape in illusory hopes.... The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia."

As Valentin Tomberg summarizes it, the human being is always faced with the choice between two basic attitudes or outlooks: that of existential being or that of essential Being. According to the choice he makes, he is either "orphaned" in the purely material, deterministic and horizontal realm with no reality higher than the individual self, or his individual being is grounded in the more essential, trans-subjective Being which is his true home. The European existentialist lives shackled in the Egyptian "house of bondage," in manacles forged by the deterministic/materialistic outlook, whereby one is situated in in a fully material reality in which the past fully determines the present and the present determines the future. That is, no vertical causes can arise in the closed chain of cause and effect, so that one is truly imprisoned as it pertains to the moral/spiritual realm.

From the existential outlook follows a host of disastrous ideas, such as class determines consciousness, poverty causes crime, free will is an illusion, private property is theft, hierarchy is evil, the vertical dimension is a hoax or "dopiate" for the masses to keep them oppressed, and worst of all, the idea that a coercive state is needed to enforce equality (vs. the American belief in a Creator who endows us with spiritual freedom which it is government's primary job to protect). The freedom of mere animal passion forges the fetters that bind Western Europe to the horizontal wasteland.

So, back to our original question: what is sanity? Sanity is not reason, but intelligence. And intelligence is conformity to the real--both internal and external--which is truth.

Intelligence is the perception of a reality, and a fortiori the perception of the Real as such. It is ipso facto discernment between the Real and the unreal--or the less real....

It is only too evident that mental effort does not automatically give rise to the perception of the real; the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error. The paradoxical phenomenon of even a “brilliant” intelligence being the vehicle of error is explained first of all by the possibility of a mental operation that is exclusively “horizontal,” hence lacking all awareness of “vertical” relationships....
--Frithjof Schuon

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Islamists and their Symbolic Struggle Against Reality (and Real Struggle Against Irony)

As I have said before, the war on Islamo-fascism will be over the day Muslims can laugh at their dopey religion instead of seeing insults and slights everywhere and demanding respect that they have never earned.

Did you hear the latest horror (HT Dr. Sanity) about the two journalists kidnapped by the Palestinian beasts? According to the story, they were videotaped in long Muslim robes reading a statement announcing that they had converted to Islam.

If it weren’t so serious, what with two men’s lives at stake, you would almost have to laugh at the preposterousness of this stunt. It’s like a bad Monty Python skit. Imagine the brilliant discussion that went into it, probably not dissimilar to the dozen or so leftist revolutionaries in Life of Brian who spend the movie plotting how they are going to overthrow the Roman empire. In one scene, in the interest of diversity, they debate whether a man should be able to call himself Loretta and have babies:

LORETTA: It's every man's right to have babies if he wants them.
 
REG: But... you can't have babies.
 
LORETTA: Don't you oppress me.
 
REG: I'm not oppressing you, Stan. You haven't got a womb! -- Where's the fetus going to gestate?! You going to keep it in a box?!
 
LORETTA: [crying]
 
JUDITH: Here! I-- I've got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can't actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody's fault, not even the Romans', but that he can have the right to have babies.
 
FRANCIS: Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have babies, brother. Sister. Sorry.
 
REG: What's the point?
 
FRANCIS: What?
 
REG: What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can't have babies?!
 
FRANCIS: It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression.
 
REG: Symbolic of his struggle against reality.

****

PALESTINIAN #1: Let’s kidnap some infidel journalists and force them to convert to Islam on video!

PALESTINIAN #2: Why? What's the point?
 
PALESTINIAN #1: Huh?
 
PALESTINIAN #2: Oh, I get it. This is brilliant, Hassan. Just brilliant. Once they convert, the journalists can hold themselves hostage, so they can negotiate with themselves for their own release and leave us out of it. Maybe while they're at it they can hold a knife to their own throats unless the infidels vote for Ned Lamont.
 
PALESTINIAN #1: It is symbolic of our struggle against the Zionist occupation!
 
PALESTINIAN #2: Yeah, right. Symbolic of your struggle against reality is more like it.

*****

In a recent editorial, Roger Scruton suggests that the Muslims' habitual readiness to take offense is just one step removed from terrorism. It is

“not yet terrorism--but it is a sign of the deep-down insecurity of the Muslim psyche in the modern world. In the presence of Islam, we all feel, you have to tread carefully, as though humoring a dangerous animal. The Koran must never be questioned; Islam must be described as a religion of peace--isn't that the meaning of the word?--and jokes about the prophet are an absolute no-no. If religion comes up in conversation, best to slip quietly away, accompanying your departure with abject apologies for the Crusades. And in Europe this pussyfooting is now being transcribed into law, with 'Islamophobia' already a crime in Belgium and movements across the continent to censor everything at which a Muslim might take offense, including articles like this one.”

In short, seriousness is a serious problem for Muslims--and therefore, for us. Scruton concludes his piece by noting that “Whenever I consider this matter I am struck by a singular fact about the Christian religion..., which is that it is informed by a spirit of irony. Irony means accepting ‘the other', as someone other than you. It was irony that led Christ to declare that his ‘kingdom is not of this world,’ not to be achieved through politics. Such irony is a long way from the humorless incantations of the Koran. Yet it is from a posture of irony that every real negotiation, every offer of peace, every acceptance of the other, begins. The way forward, it seems to me, is to encourage the re-emergence of an ironical Islam, of the kind you find in the philosophy of Averroës, in Persian poetry and in ‘The Thousand and One Nights.’ We should also encourage those ethnic and religious jokes which did so much to defuse tension in the days before political correctness. And maybe, one day, the rigid face of some puritanical mullah will crack open in a hesitant smile, and negotiations can at last begin.

Amen. We can’t just smoke ‘em out of their holes. We have to joke ‘em out of their holes.

The comedic “hands off” attitude toward Islam betrays more than a "soft bigotry of low expectations.” Rather, it is a hard bigotry of no expectations toward the Muslim world. The Palestinians receive no criticism from the left (and the world community at large), not because they think so highly of them, but because they think so badly about them--in fact, they actually have no expectations whatsoever about them. In other words, it is not because the Palestinians are so wonderful that they are immune from criticism and mockery, but because everyone knows that it would be absurd to hold Muslims to the same standards as Christians, or Jews, or Zen Buddhists--to any standards of decency at all, really. No one is shocked at the barbarity of the Islamic world, whether it is committed by terrorists, or perpetrated in the name of the Saudi or Iranian governments.

Why is there a blackout on jokes about Palestinians, who are so eminently jokeworthy, perhaps the most laughably dysfunctional culture on earth? Likewise, the MSM goes out of its way to treat Islam not just the same as other religions, but better than other religions (and yet, somehow more fragile at the same time). This is so ironic, because it obviously has nothing to do with the secular left's affinity for religion, which they otherwise despise. In other words, Islam is not a protected species because it is a religion. It is protected because it is anti-Western, because its adherents tend to have slightly darker skin than caucasians, and because it has been granted victim status. Therefore it is untouchable.

As far as I'm concerned, the fact that we don't mercilessly make fun of our enemies is part of the same syndrome that has prevented Hollywood from making any movies about the war on terror, for fear of insulting Muslims (and, of course, because they don't want to show our military engaged in a heroic struggle against evil). We live in a morally upside down world, in which making fun of the Islamist ideology is forbidden, but committing mass murder in the name of Islam is explained away. Humorless bigots such as Juan Cole heap scorn on the United States but make every excuse imaginable for the moral failings of Islam. We will know that Muslims have come a long way when they can start making fun of themselves in the same way that Americans have always made fun of themselves, their institutions, their politicians, and their religions.

Oh well. What can you do but laugh about the situation, with a compendium pre-enjoyed One Cosmos gags from the past several months?

Do you remember when Arafat died, how his wife, Suha, rushed from Paris to be by his side? Turns out that was actually part of the pre-nup: they had agreed to be together over his dead body.

Jeopardy answer: "Thuggery, buggery, and skullduggery."
Question: "What were Yasser Arafat's favorite activities?"

At least the Palestinians are trying to do something to rid their classrooms of the psychotic anti-Semitism. I don't know if I like that idea. It means their children will end pick up bits and pieces of genocidal ideology from each other, instead of from an expert.

But anti-Semites have it so easy. If you want to boycott the Palestinians, what are you supposed to do, put off purchasing that new suicide belt? And now the Palestinians even use teenage girls for suicide bombers. In fact, the girls don't actually use suicide belts. Rather, they call them "chastity belts," because it's the only way to be certain they'll never be seen holding hands with a Christian boy.

Bottom line: in Palestine, it's every parent's nightmare to die before their children. But I give the Palestinians credit. They've evolved from primitive kinship structures to barbarous gang affiliations. With luck, they can eventually became a racket, and then perhaps a crime syndicate. Evolution doesn't happen over night.

Now the Palestinians are complaining that it's unfair for us to withhold funds until Abbas institutes some meaningful reforms. I guess they have a point. It's like we're biting the hand that steals from us. At least with Abbas, they finally have a moderate in there. Sure, he's a holocaust denier, but at least he's a moderate holocaust denier. That is, he believes that six million Jews were genuinely inconvenienced in WWII.

So much conversion to the Nation of Islam goes on in American prisons, it's more accurate to call it them "Islamic gated communities." It's making some judges a little concerned. One guy was sentenced to eleven years behind bars, double that for good Muslim behavior.

But we need to be fair. According to CAIR, when Muslims give money to charity that ends up in the hands of terrorists, it's no different than when charitable donations end up in the hands of the military wing of the Salvation Army. On the positive side, CAIR has issued a strongly worded statement that unambiguously condemns kidnapping journalists by either side.

But I think I have a solution to the problem: we could just kidnap one of their journalists, say, Christiane Amanpour, and arrange a hostage exchange. Of course, first we’d have to get her on video confessing her love for the United States.... but only as a symbol of our grasp of irony.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Humanism is Subhumanism

The noble man is one who is sovereign over himself; the holy man is one who transcends himself.... The spiritual man transcends himself and loves to transcend himself; the worldly man remains horizontal and detests the vertical dimension. --Frithjof Schuon

Another important post by Dr. Sanity (ricocheted off a post by ShrinkWrapped), entitled Getting to the “Root” of Root Causes. You might want to go over and read the whole thing while Petey and I wait here. But don’t take too long, since Petey has to be “elsewhere” in a bit. (I say that in bewilderment rather than just sarcasm, because I’m not sure what “elsewhere” means to a purely vertical being.)

Both Dr. Sanity and ShrinkWrapped make reference to the willful misunderstanding and misappropriation of Freud’s ideas by the left. Specifically, since Freud argued that our behavior was determined by unconscious factors, free will is an illusion and no one is really responsible for their bad behavior. To a certain extent this misunderstanding is understandable, for there is no question that Freud was an anti-religious determinist and a materialist. However, as ShrinkWrapped points out, Freud also emphasized that behavior was “overdetermined,” meaning that a multitude of factors contributed to any particular thought or action.

Just as there are no Marxist economists outside academia, it is fair to say that there are virtually no strict Freudians outside academia either. At least for clinicians, Freud’s hydraulic model of the mind has been replaced by an emphasis on the self, which represents our total subjective experience of ourselves. By definition, it cannot be understood as an object, but as the subjective experiencer of experience, both internal and external.

Humanism always results in subhumanism, because, among other things, it denies the very free will that defines us as human. Interestingly, both Islam and the left share the common view of seeing man as determined rather than free. One of the impediments to development in the Islamic world is the concept of “fate,” meaning that Allah wills everything on a moment-by-moment basis.

This is radically different from the Judeo-Christian view, which sees God creating the universe but then “standing back,” so to speak, in order to facilitate and encourage freedom. While miracles still occur--indeed, must occasionally occur because of the vertical axis of reality--they are clearly the exception, not the rule. In Islam, it is as if every moment is miraculously caused by Allah in a top-down manner, with no horizontal causation at all. This is partly what accounts for the deep irrationalism of the Muslim world.

But while Islam is “subrational,” we might say that the left is “hyper-rational,” in that they categorically deny the vertical, which leaves them only with horizontal causation. Since free will can only be located in a vertical sphere that transcends horizontal causation, once you have successfully eliminated the vertical, you end up with the infrahuman, mechanical universe of the left. Bad behavior--as well as good behavior--is simply caused by some antecedent state, instead of being the free choice of an autonomous self that is situated above the stream of temporal cause and effect. This is why leftists believe such clichés as “poverty causes crime” instead of “bad values cause crime,” or “Israel’s existence is the cause of terrorism” instead of “delusional beliefs are the cause of terrorism.”

Another Freudian idea misappropriated by the left is the “superego,” which Freud felt was the source of morality. Since the superego is an internalized object based on family and cultural experience, this implies that there is an unavoidably arbitrary aspect to morality. One culture thinks it’s bad to eat people, another thinks that human flesh is delicious. Who are we to judge? One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, even if terrorists don’t believe in freedom. Whatever. Giant fans are no different than Dodger fans--they just express themselves by throwing batteries and used hypodermic needles at players instead of cheering and booing.

But morality actually has three sources: 1) revealed law, 2) the voice of conscience, and 3) the superego. In my view, Freud conflated the conscience--which is a living “revelation” of God implanted in our heart--with the superego, which is indeed a contingent mechanism of socialization that may or may not even be moral. The true conscience can only be located in the vertical, whereas the superego is wholly horizontal (or lower vertical). More often than not, it is actually a corrupt enabler of bad behavior than a source of objective morality. (I discussed this at greater length in a post entitled Conscience, Superego, and Huk al Berri.)

There I explained “why the emphasis on truth is so vital. For in the Arab Muslim world, they are so inundated with vicious lies about America and Israel that it would be ‘immoral’ for them not to hate us. In a racist or anti-Semitic society, the superego will actually demand that its members be racist and anti-Semitic. For example, the nazi movement in Germany was animated by extremely high ideals, without which they could not have engaged in their project of exterminating the Jews. Once the lie is established as truth, then the superego takes over, impelling the individual to act in a ‘moral’ way, consistent with the implications of the lie.”

Therefore, because of the truth-loving nature of the uncreated conscience, if you can establish a lie as the truth, the furtherance of evil will take care of itself.

What largely defines man is his free will, which implies both intelligence and objectivity, for if we aren’t free, then we cannot really possess either truth or goodness. Animals cannot leave the closed system of cause and effect, whereas human beings clearly can. In our vertical aspect, we can see a range of potential choices before us, whereas the animal is simply spurred by the demands of instinct.

Thus, to call free will into question is to make us less than human, which is why humanism is always subhumanism. The most subhuman places on earth are specifically those places where free will was and is denied or atrophied: in communist countries, in the Islamic world, and in urban areas where free will has been eroded by 40 years of leftist brainwashing and social engineering. In the latter case, you might say that poverty does indeed cause crime--the impoverished metaphysic of the left.

Liberty in itself is an aspect of divinity in which we may either participate or not participate. This is a truth that our founders found to be be self-evident, and we can be sure that, in their wildest nightmares, they did not anticipate an illiberal counterrevolution from the left that actually denied the entire basis of the American ideal.

Likewise, George Bush, who is in the philosophical mold of the founders, clearly did not anticipate the anti-liberty forces of the left or the Islamic world, who now work in concert to deny freedom to millions. Without freedom, there is no human existence--or perhaps we might say, no existence worthy of humans. For liberty is the very possibility of manifesting oneself to the utmost, of becoming fully human, of becoming what we already are--and of knowing the divine spark that manifests through us. Nothing is less human than the merely human. The “perfect horizontal man” of leftist utopian thought is simply a perfect animal or robot.

But even that isn't quite right, since there is an inherent dignity and nobility to animals in their natural state, whereas in its verticality, man's natural state is supernatural, so to speak. Thus, reduced to mere animality, man becomes lower than the animals.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Autobangography of a Small Cosmos

Dr. Sanity has a very eloquent piece today that touches on the mysterious relationship between mind and brain. I left a little comment, recalling the truism that “if the brain were simple enough to understand, we'd be too simple to understand it. Then again, the great mystery is how the virtually infinite complexity of the brain resolves itself into the simple, unitary experience of an ‘I.’ It doesn't get any simpler than that, and yet, what an extraordinary tangle of complexity to make it possible!”

I suppose that that dialectical tension between mind and brain, or subject and object, is what spurred me to write my book, for that’s the ultimate question, isn’t it? That is, how does matter give rise to consciousness? More generally, how does mere existence become experience? How is it that the cosmos has given rise to an interior through which it may experience itself?

To a large extent, a philosopher is somewhat like an annoying child who persists in asking “why” after others have stopped. Some people, like my father, just intuitively realize that such questions are ultimately pointless, that no matter how much we think about existence, no one will ever really figure it out. So why bother with such an impractical and ultimately fruitless endeavor? The history of philosophy is simply a chronicle of error on a particularly grandiose scale. As sometwo once said, it is “an an abuse of language invented for that purpose,” or “a journey of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.”

But some cosmonauts and vertical adventurers can’t help thinking about these things. For one thing, human beings have an intrinsic need for meaning. And what is meaning? Meaning is revealed when things come together in such a way that the union of particulars reveals what they are pointing toward or converging upon.

For example, the meaning of letters is revealed in the word, just as the meaning of words is revealed in the sentence. Once you know how to read, your mind doesn’t even notice the letters of which the words are composed. They fade into the background and become “invisible,” as your mind sees through them, to what they are pointing toward. Nor, as you read this, is your mind focussed on my words (at least until I brought your attention to them), but is instead focusing on the meaning I am trying to convey through words. Words and letter are simply the vehicles of meaning, not its creator. Or, you might say that words are necessary but insufficient to account for the meaning that transcends them.

The reason why human language exists--can exist--is that the cosmos is composed of language, or what is called the logos or Word. For example, astrophysicists search for the mathematical language that governs the big bang. Physicists have discovered the mathematical language that explains both the macro (relativity theory) and micro (quantum theory) realms, but cannot figure out how those two are related. In other words, they are searching for a “higher meaning” that would unify those two outweirdly incompatible theories.

Likewise, DNA is obviously a highly sophisticated language, a language that “speaks” biological organisms. But strict materialists are mistaken in thinking that any purely Darwinian paradigm is sufficient to account for life. For one thing, natural selection presupposes a very special cosmos in which one thing can stand for another and carry messages. In other words, before we even talk about the “message” of DNA, we must have a medium capable of carrying the message, just as, in order to write a book, you need something like rock and chisel, paper and a pen, or computer chip and bits. And no biological theory can account for the existence of biology, for the simple reason that biology presupposes the presence of biological entities, including the biologist studying them.

Furthermore, natural selection presupposes a wholeness of which the organism is an expression. In other words, wholeness is not an emergent phenomena, but an anterior one. Wholeness can manifest in organisms--or in the genome, or in human consciousness--because wholeness is somehow built into the cosmos. In a whole--as opposed to a mere agglomeration of parts--the parts are internally related to one another, so life and consciousness presuppose an internally related cosmos--which our cosmos just happens to be, based upon the testimony of quantum physics, which reveals a vast sea of entangled energy underlying our perception of clear-cut boundaries and separation.

Obviously the universe is ultimately “One,” for it cannot not be One and still be a cosmos. That is, if there is something that cannot resolve itself into the unity of our cosmos, then it is part of another cosmos, not this one. So no matter how “dualistic” things may appear on the surface, any dualism must ultimately spring from the same nondual source.

This nondual source has always been known and recognized, except perhaps in postmodern times. In Vedanta it is called Brahman. In Kabbalistic Judaism it is called the ain sof. Lao Tsu called it the tao. In Christianity it is called the “godhead” or “ground” (by Meister Eckhart). Steely Dan refer to it as the El Supremo at the top of the stairs.

But because the One is truly One, it necessarily contains the many. That is, the One, by its very nature, is a unity, not a sum. Therefore, while every part has its own relative existence, it is ultimately one with the ground.

As the One “blows itself out” or bangs into existence, it creates the ineluctable primordial dualities of subject-object, part-whole, form-substance, time-eternity, wave-particle, quantity-quality, vertical-horizontal, and others. Therefore, wherever you see one of these, you must see the other. If there are objects--which there surely are--then there must be a subject. And if there is a cosmos--which there undoubtedly is--there must be a Subject.

It is said in the Upanishads that this Subject is hidden in the universe as cream is hidden in milk. The cosmos is actually suffused with a subjectivity of which we are all the beneficiaries. You might say that we are all sparks of this divine Subject--not “I think, therefore I am,” but “I am, therefore Being is.”

Or, as I mythunderstood it in One Cosmos, there is only the

One brahman deathless breathing breathless, unknown origin prior to time and space, fount of all being, unborn thus undying, beginning and end of all impossibility, empty plenum and inexhaustible void. Who is? I AM. A wake. A lone. Hallow, noumena!

And that is the story of your cosmic birthday, my child. Now open His presence and report for karmic duty.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Envy and Gratitude (9.14.08)

Man is so caught up in the toils of mechanical life that he neither has time to stop nor the power of attention needed to turn his mental vision upon himself. Man thus passes his days absorbed by external circumstances. The great machine that drags him along turns without stopping, and forbids him to stop under penalty of being crushed.... Life passes away from him almost unseen, swift as a ray of light, and man falls engulfed and still absent from himself. --Boris Mouravieff.

“Zoom!" What was that? That was your life, mate. Oh, that was quick, do I get another? Sorry mate, that's your lot. --Basil Fawlty

We conclude our little tour of the inner meaning of the Ten Commandments with the tenth, “thou shalt not covet.” It is a fitting capstone to our journey, since the injunction against envy is really more of a reward for a life well lived than an ultimatum. For envy is the most corrosive of emotions (or perhaps more accurately, “mental states”), in that it undermines any possibility of personal happiness or spiritual fulfillment. While it often takes the form of longing for what one doesn’t have, it is usually built on an unconscious foundation of being ungrateful for what one has, or even actively devaluing what one has, so that one constantly feels deprived. Thus, envy is often the residue of the inner emptiness caused by unconscious devaluation, "spoiling," and ingratitude.

Ultimately envy is a self-consuming process that leaves nothing but itself standing, like Michael Corleone at the end of Godfather II or Charles Foster Kane at the end of Citizen Kane. Both endings represent envy triumphant. All that is left of Kane is a huge warehouse of meaningless objects frantically acquired during a lifetime spent trying vainly to fill a psychological and spiritual void with possessions. It is appropriate that they are consigned to the fire, as workers absently toss one after another into the flames.

Here we discover a certain confluence between Buddhism and the Judeo-Christian tradition, for Buddha is famous for his wise crack about desire being the source of our suffering. But actually, he was trying to make a point about attachment to desire. Desires will come and go, like smoke driven by wind. It is only when we attempt to hold on to them that they become problematic.

But even then, as I pointed out in One Cosmos, I find it useful to draw a distinction between appetite, which is natural, and desire, which is often mimetic, meaning that it is not spontaneous but prompted from the outside. Many people give themselves entirely over to this process, and lead lives of simply wanting what others seem to want. They are pushed and pulled around by fleeting desires, impulses and passions, but when one of them is being gratified, it gives rise to a spurious sense of “freedom,” when in reality this kind of ungoverned desire is the opposite of freedom.

It is very difficult to avoid this dynamic in a consumer-driven culture such as ours. It’s the kind of cliché that Petey detests, but we are constantly bombarded with messages and images that fan the fires of envy and mimesis. Sri Aurobindo referred to this as the “vital mind,” and the fundamental problem is that it cannot really be appeased. In other words, it doesn’t shrink when we acquiesce to it. Instead, it only grows, like an addiction or compulsion.

Importantly, the vital mind does not merely consist of impulses seeking discharge. Rather, it can take over the machinery of the host, and generate its own thoughts and rationalizations. We’ve all seen this happen in ourselves. Yoga in its most generic sense involves a reversal of this tendency, so that we may consciously yearn for what we actually want, rather than mindlessly willing what we desire. This tends to be a constant battle at the beginning. But only until the end.

I’m currently reading Peter Guralnick’s magisterial biography of Elvis, and it is amazing how elaborate the vital mind can become if left unchecked. It seems that someone can become so wealthy and powerful that they lose the friction necessary to distinguish between fantasy and reality. A sort of hypnotic, dreamlike imagination takes hold, which can become quite elaborate and unnatural. I am sure this accounts for the general nuttiness that comes out of the typical left-wing hollywoodenhead. They are so far from what you and I know as reality, that they are both ontologically and epistemologically (not to say spiritually) crippled.

“Job one” of the vital mind is to foster a kind of I-amnesia, so that we repeatedly fool ourselves into believing that fulfillment of the next desire will finally break the cycle and bring us real contentment, but most of us know that drill. For in that gap between desire and fulfillment lies the hidden key. In that gap there is both anticipation and hope. But like the referred pain of a back injury that we feel in the leg, this hope is misplaced onto a realm incapable of fulfilling it. For, as it is written--probably on a bumper snicker somewhere--”You can never get enough of what you don’t really need.”

This pattern of desiring what we don’t really want or need is well beyond merely affecting our spiritual lives. Rather, it is starting to seriously compromise even our physical well-being. At some point in the last 10-15 years, affluence became a much more serious threat to health than poverty. The levels of obesity, type II diabetes, and other related health problems have become epidemic. Why? Because people are able to live in the vital mind as never before. The Western world is increasingly full of “poor” people whose bodies look like the most prosperous people of the past. They are still impoverished, but it is a spiritual impoverishment that causes them to try to fill the void with food and meaningless sedentary activities, such as television and video games. In a way, they are more poor--not to say pathetic and lacking in dignity--than the poor of the past.

Natural appetites can be satisfied, but the gods of abstract metaphysical desire are omnipotent and require constant tribute. That is one of the paradoxes, for one might think that the spiritually developed person lives in an “abstract” world, while the bovine, slack-jawed grazing multitudes live in the concrete world, but it is quite the opposite. The spiritual person becomes very concretely aware of subtle and fleeting little concrete joys on a moment-by-moment basis, where as the BSJGM’s are only tuned into the most gross forms of sensory overload, whether in music, entertainment, or food (and I imagine the porn industry taps into this same dynamic as well).

Here again we must bear in mind the limitlessness of the human imagination. We can always imagine something better, something that we don’t have. Any clown can do that. Much more tricky is being grateful for what we do have. Thus, the cultivation of humility and gratitude actively counter the vital mind and its constitutional envy. This may initially feel as if we are being deprived of our horizontal liberty, such as it is, and this is true. However, the whole point is to replace that with a more expansive vertical freedom that is relatively unconstrained by material circumstances, excluding the most dire cases.

And, just like my absurcular book, the commandments circle back around to the beginning, back to where we started, with the holographic first commandment that contains all the others: “The secular left turns the cosmos upside down and inside out. As a result, instead of being conditioned in a hierarchical manner from the top down, it is conditioned from the bottom up. This results not in true liberation, only in rebellion and pseudo-liberation, for there can be no meaningful freedom outside objective Truth. The left rejects top-town hierarchies as intrinsically repressive, but the opposite is true--only in being conditioned by the higher can we actually elevate and liberate ourselves from contingency and relativity.”

Or, as Will put it “Like any physical attribute, if the human intellect is not yoked to and governed by the Higher Intelligence, it runs amok and eventually goes crazy. It's taken some time to get there, but currently, the spiritually bereft intellect is basically in charge of most of the world's influential institutions, which of course means the world is in deep stew. As far as definitions of the Antichrist go, I think this would do OK.”

On the spiritual level, there is simply nothing more satanic than envy. The sword of gratitude is our only defense.