Monday, October 16, 2006

The Left-Handed Fall into Nihilistic Destruction (10.04.08)

Our four-part fall from grace is nearly complete, having plunged from liberalism to realism to vitalism. All that remains is our last leg of the journey into destructive nihilism.

One wonders what, aside from sheer ignorance, animates people to adopt doctrinaire leftist ideas when they have proven time and again to not only be ineffective, but to generally make matters worse. At a certain point, you have to begin wondering whether there is actually an unconscious desire to do just that--perhaps something reflecting Freud’s idea of a death instinct in human beings.

In taking the long view of history, it is almost necessary to posit such an anti-divine force in the world, if for no other reason than to have an explanatory “place holder” until we discover what this force actually is. It’s the same with the notion of satan, or the old Zoroastrian idea that cosmic history is a battle between Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, or light and dark respectively. If it’s not, then it might as well be, no?

(Name the true man who said it: “God has created [the United States] and brought us to our present position of power and strength” in order to defend “spiritual values--the moral code--against the vast forces of evil that seek to destroy them.” Answer* at bottom.)

You can put any fancy spin on it that you wish, but no one can convince me that our struggle with Iran or with North Korea is anything other than a struggle against pure, unalloyed evil. But what if you are too sophisticated to believe in the primitive idea of evil? Then I’m afraid you may be too sophisticated to survive your own magical ideology. In naively embracing “peace” you are ensuring your own doom, which frankly wouldn’t bother me if I and my friends and family and beloved cosmonauts didn’t have to go down with you.

At this point, I wish we could have two separate countries, Red America and Blue America. Then, once and for all, we could have a true test of which ideas are the more functional and create more economic prosperity and moral goodness. In Blue America they would have high taxes, a huge, intrusive federal government, marriage for any two or more people who wished to do so, socialized medicine, economically crippling Kyoto-style restrictions, government enforced racial discrimination, open borders (except into our country--to preserve the integrity of the experiment we’d have to have a big fence to keep them from escaping into our beautiful Red America), a permanent ban on vouchers to ensure the stranglehold the Teachers Union has on education, a religious test to keep people of faith out of public life, no guns, no smoking, lots of abortions, even more special rights and protections for criminals and terrorists, a ban on evil places like Walmart which provide vital goods to people of modest means at rock bottom prices, free college for everyone no matter how stupid, and a high minimum wage to suppress employment, spur inflation, and keep tax revenues down.

As I mentioned a couple of posts back, if your conception of human nature is faulty, then your political philosophy is going to be dysfunctional. One of the reasons leftism is so inherently dysfunctional is that it revolves around the appeasement of perhaps the single most spiritually destructive human emotion of them all, constitutional envy. In the formulation of the brilliant psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, envy is the primary mode of expression of the death instinct. It is present in everyone, but can be exacerbated by early childhood experiences so that later in life it becomes a crippling barrier to psychological health and happiness. For envy prevents one from appreciating what one has. It can only attack the person or system believed to possess what one lacks. In this regard, it is the polar opposite of gratitude, which is one of the prerequisites of human happiness. As a matter of fact, Klein’s most famous book is entitled Envy and Gratitude.

At the heart of leftism is envy. Now, I am not a libertarian. I do not believe we should rid ourselves of all leftist ideas even if we could. But this is not because I believe leftist ideas work. Rather, it is because I believe that the force of envy is so strong in human beings, that the culture absolutely must have some means to channel it in an officially sanctioned way, or the society will explode from within. But the question is, how much should we appease envy? Because if you go too far, as they have in Europe, then you will reach that tipping point where the society begins to spiritually rot from within, because envy is a sick and unhealthy beast that can never be made healthy.

In America we try to appease envy by tolerating such odious things as trial lawyers, overtaxing the wealthy and productive, lottery tickets, racial quotas, and a general relaxing of standards in every arena so that people might feel “special.” The problem is, none of these things work to eliminate envy, for the simple reason that you cannot eliminate envy. The leftist thinks that the solution is to further appease envy, which simply leads to a vicious cycle of more and more envy, until no one is allowed to have any more than anyone else.

This, of course, was the ideal of communism, which ended up creating the most petty and envious population you could imagine. It wasn’t just in the Soviet Union, but even in the idealistic socialist experiments of the early Zionists. They had the idea--contrary to all scripture and all understanding of human nature--that the kibbutzim would eliminate the problem of envy and create heaven on earth. But the opposite happened. Envy could not be appeased, and found ever more minute and petty ways to express itself. Today very few kibbutzim remain, as Israel eventually adopted American ideals of free market capitalism which unleashed tremendous creativity, innovation and economic growth because it tapped into its most critical natural resource: Jewish culture.

Since leftism is a magical belief system that is no more effective in the long run than a kooky religion that keeps predicting the second coming or the landing of aliens, one must conclude that its benefits are mainly psychological and emotional. Based on my past flirtation with leftism, I think this is pretty much on the mark. It is also no coincidence that I wasn’t religious back then, so it obviously tapped into that archetypal dimension that was going unused at the time. In other words, leftism rides piggyback on properly religious impulses from which it derives so much of its energy and fervor. Leftist ideas may be ineffective in the world, but they are highly effective (in a perverse way) in transforming the psyche of the person who believes them, and that is the point.

A religious person knows that the world is corrupt and fallen. In fact, this banality falls under the heading of something one cannot not know. However, depending upon whether or not one is religious, one will respond very differently to this realization. For the leftist, it means that the present social arrangement is corrupt to the core and must be torn down--with extreme revolutionary prejudice if necessary.

It is no accident that leftists believe that there is some unique “culture of corruption” among conservatives, when the most generous analysis will demonstrate that the corruption is spread about equally between left and right, because the problem is within the human heart, not with ideology per se. But I’m pretty sure that if you conducted just a little investigative research, you would find that the corruption is much more common and pervasive on the left. People must have very short memories, because the Clinton administration was one of the most corrupt in history.

Let’s look at a recent example of corruption, Mark Foley, who was instantly denounced by Republicans and forced into retirement as soon as the naughty IMs became known. But Democrat Gerry Studds, who actually homosexually raped (assuming the age of consent was 18) an underage page? Here’s how the liberal media eulogized him yesterday. See if you notice any difference in treatment of the two cases:

“Gerry Studds, the first openly gay member of Congress and a demanding advocate for New England fishermen and for gay rights, died early Saturday at Boston University Medical Center, his husband (sic sic) said....

“[H]e was also a leading critic of President Ronald Reagan's clandestine support of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. He staunchly opposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, which Studds once described as ‘the Edsel of the 1980s’ -- overpriced and oversold.

“His homosexuality was revealed through scandal. In 1983, he was censured by the House of Representatives for having had an affair 10 years earlier with a 17-year-old congressional page. For Mr. Studds, formal and dignified, a model of old New England reserve, the discovery sparked intense anguish, friends said.

“Once outed, however, Mr. Studds refused to buckle to conservative pressure to resign.... [H]e never apologized. He defended the relationship as consensual and condemned the investigation, saying it had invaded his privacy....

“And in addition to speaking on the House floor on behalf of same-sex marriage, he set an example. In 2004, he and his longtime partner, Dean Hara, became one of the first couples to marry under a Massachusetts law allowing same-sex marriage.

“Though his name had barely been mentioned in Washington since he retired, the resignation late last month of Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., revived interest in Mr. Studds' dalliance with a teenage page in 1983.”

So let’s get this right. Foley is a vicious homosexual pervert and child predator that corrupt Republicans knew about and condoned merely because they wanted to hold on to political power. But Studds was a courageous openly gay congressman who was outed and persecuted by Sandinista-hating conservatives who invaded his privacy merely because of a dalliance with an underage page.

I think I get it. If a Republican homosexual asks a page for a photograph, he’s a pervert and a pedophile. But if a Democratic homosexual rapes an underage page, he’s a champion of gay rights. Any questions?

Let’s give these people the congress!

To be continued tomorrow.

*****

*Harry Truman, back before the left ran all the liberals out of the Democratic party.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Free of God, Animalized Intellect, Encased in Mud (10.03.08)

When we were young as a babe’s I AM and our world was fresh and new, Heaven touched the earth and angels whispered their secrets to us through the wind, rivers, mountains and stars. But as we lose our naiveté and innocence, the world is increasingly demystified and we become subject to the brutal “reign of quantity” inside the prison of the senses.

Life at the center is exchanged for life at the periphery. It is as if we are trapped below a sheet of ice: “Mistaking the ice that imprisons us for Reality, we do not acknowledge what it excludes and experience no desire for deliverance; we try to compel the ice to be happiness” (Schuon). A strange new world is created, built from the bottom up rather than the top down. But since this barren world contains no real Truth, it cannot satisfy the exiled soul, which begins its endless quest for greater thrills and excitement to fill the void. New. More. Faster. Rage Against the Machine--not up, but further down and out, where only one last barrier remains: blasphemy and destruction.

Press release: “Slayer, the fastest, heaviest and darkest band on earth retakes its unholy throne with their first studio album in six years, Christ Illusion, its first studio effort with the original lineup since 1990’s Seasons In The Abyss. The album will be available on June 6, 2006—that’s right, 6/6/06.”

Can music adversely affect the soul? That's a stupid question. Can beautiful music elevate the soul? When I give my son his nightly “big sendoff” into dreamland, I sing him lullabies, the music of choice usually being angelic Beach Boy songs that spontaneously pop into my head, such as In My Room or the beautiful Hushabye:

Hushabye, hushabye
Oh my darlin' don't you cry
Guardian angels up above
Take care of the one I love

Lullabye and goodnight
In your dreams I hold you tight
Lullabye and goodnight
Til the dawn's early light

Pillows lying on your bed
Oh my darling rest your head
Sandman will be coming soon
Singing you a slumber tune

Bear in mind that this song was recorded by grown men without irony just a couple of generations ago. It might as well have been 1,000 years ago, for such unguarded innocence is almost unthinkable in today’s musical climate.

*****

The Vital Beings are the ones who do not wish to recover their humanity and who are fully at home in this fallen world. Breaking through the ice would involve surpassing themselves, the one thing the vital man is loath to do. For he loves the world with all his heart, all his soul, and all his mind--which is precisely to lack heart, soul and mind, or at least to deny their provenance. It is to be “born again from below.”

Lately the news has focussed on some of the increasingly routine horrors being perpetrated against children in our schools and elsewhere. Father Rose, who wrote his piece on nihilism in the late fifties, prior to the vast explosion in crime caused by lenient liberal social policies and a forgiving attitude toward evil, predicted all of this. As he writes, “Crime in most previous ages had been a localized phenomenon and had apparent and comprehensible causes in the human passions of greed, lust, envy, jealousy, and the like; never has there been anything more than a faint prefiguration of the crime that has become typical of our own century, crime for which the only name is one the avant-garde today is fond of using in another Nihilist context: ‘absurd.’”

That is an excellent point, for the absurd sadism of so many of our crimes--far too many to chronicle here--matches the absurdity of an art that celebrates ugliness or “authenticity” and an educational system that promulgates the lie that truth does not exist. When your elites spend several generations creating an absurd world, don’t be surprised if you end up with absurd people and meaningless crimes.

“When questioned, those apprehended for such crimes explain their behavior in the same way: it was an ‘impulse’ or an ‘urge’ that drove them, or it was a sadistic pleasure in committing the crime, or there was some totally irrelevant pretext, such as boredom, confusion, or resentment. In a word, they cannot explain their behavior at all, there is no readily comprehensible motive for it, and in consequence... there is no remorse.”

I just flipped on the news today, oh boy, while giving a bottle to His Majesty. A 22 year-old man arrested in Iowa for murdering his parents and three sisters. Family of four in Florida murdered. High school football players remove their helmets and use them as weapons to beat their opponents.

As a brief aside, I remember studying film noir back in film school. The professor divided it into several sub-genres that evolved--or devolved--over the years, and which seemed to reflect the societal degeneration of which Father Rose speaks. I won’t get into a whole dissertation here, but early film noir such as Double Indemnity depicts a man who is pulled down into circumstances beyond his control due either to bad luck or some identifiable motive such as greed or lust. But in late film noir, the entire world has become corrupt, both the criminals and law enforcement. In fact, every human institution has become corrupt. In such a world, the antihero or outlaw becomes the hero with whom we identify. The corruption extends even into the family, which becomes a breeding ground for psychopaths, as in White Heat (starring James Cagney) or The Godfather saga. In these films, evil merely fights evil, so we inevitably find ourselves identifying with evil. There is no “good.” There are only hypocrites.

In the Real world, Spirit is substance, matter is accident. Spirit precedes matter, the latter of which is the final deustination of God’s involution into time and space. A corresponding world of the senses arises, but this shifting realm is hardly the world of reality. Rather, the uncorrupted intellect knows objective reality as the Spirit.

As mentioned in a previous post, a counter-religious movement gained steam in the 1950’s, led by the “Beats,” by confused psychoanalysts such as N.O. Brown, and by charming rogues such as Timothy Leary and Alan Watts, for whom transcendence was the last thing on their minds. Just as N.O. Brown wrote that repression was the essence of pathology and that we would live in a sort of eden if we would merely express our lower instincts in an unmediated way, the new age teachers created bastardized forms of zen and taoism to exalt “spontaneity” and “naturalism” so as to obscure the deeper desire to stay high and sleep with coeds under a veneer of spiritualism. (Ironically, Rose was a student of Watts at the Academy of Asian Arts in San Francisco in 1955.)

The human being has an animal nature which is not by definition beneath him. It only becomes so “when man renounces his humanity and fails to humanize what he shares with the animals” (Schuon). To humanize is to spiritualize, which is to “open the natural to the supernatural whence it proceeds ontologically.” In other words, this hardly represents repression, but a recovery of our true being. If anything, the uninhibited and shameless vital man represses his humanness, for one can just as easily repress what is higher as what is lower.

Interestingly, just as sexuality, in order to be properly human, must be spiritualized, Schuon notes that intellectual (i.e., spiritual) knowledge has an ecstatic dimension to it, if for no other reason that it is known with the heart (or mind in the heart, the “location” of the higher mind): “There is a spiritualization of sexuality just as there is, conversely, an animalization of intelligence [what we are calling the vital mind]; in the first case, what can be the occasion of a fall becomes a means of elevation; in the second case, intelligence is dehumanized and gives rise to materialism, even existentialism, hence to ‘thinking’ which is human only in its mode and of which the content is properly subhuman.”

But then, these subhuman philosophies become the justification to fall further into vital animality. Postmodern philosophies use the spirit to deny the spirit, leaving us with a wholly horizontal wasteland of matter and instinct. This intellectual operation is a complete success, even though the patient--the human qua human--does not survive it. A new kind of infrahuman is born, forgetful of his fall and “at ease in a world that presents itself as an end in itself, and which exempts man from the effort of transcending himself”--which is to have shunned and bypassed our reason for being here.

The fall is nearly complete. But not before we drag this whole despiritualized existentialada down with us, which we will do tomorrow in discussing the final stage of the nihilist dialectic: destruction.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Reality-Based Community of Base Emotionality (10.02.08)

As mankind falls from plane to plane, we can see how realist man opens the door to vital man, for as Peggy Lee sang in one of the most weary and cynical lyrics of all time,

If that's all there is my friends,
then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

Let’s have a ball! There is an age when doing so is appropriate, probably somewhat inevitable, and even charming. You don’t want to prematurely disillusion a child’s pure vitality and joyful engagement with the world. They’ll become disillusioned soon enough. If not, they will become pathetic, as they fall into the vital as a means of escape from boredem, meaninglessness, and the emptiness in the heart of one who has severed their contact with the divine planes.

I’ve been thinking about this category of “vital man,” and for some reason I’ve been having difficulty putting it into words, even though I am quite familiar with the type of person we are talking about. I can tell in an instant if I am dealing with a vital man, but it happens on such an intuitive level that I’ve never really put words to it. But the more you develop spiritually, the more you will recognize a gulf between yourself and this kind of person.

Incidentally, it does not matter whether this person is outwardly “religious,” because there are plenty of vital types who get involved in religion--and not just exoteric religion. Even creepier are the vital beings who get involved in esoteric religion, for then you start to touch on the demonic. I’m sure my Minister of Doctrinal Enforcement will be able to explain what I’m talking about here.

If, like me, you are intuitively repelled by Bill Clinton, this is probably why. Now, I am the first to admit that there was a time that I was not repelled by him. The repellence has only come with spiritual development. And it has nothing to do with ideology per se. After all, he largely governed as a rudderless, poll-driven moderate, and he seems to have no ideological core that isn’t negotiable anyway. I was certainly never a Clinton hater, nor am I now. Rather, he radiates a very specific essence that bears on what we are discussing today. For Clinton is a purely vital man in all he thinks and does.

Clinton is obviously not an unintelligent man, but that doesn’t matter either. For as Sri Aurobindo noted, there is a realm of the psyche called the “vital mind,” so it is not at all uncommon to encounter a vital intellectual, just as it is not uncommon to encounter a noble and light-filled common laborer. It’s all about the light, not the intellectual content. If you were to attempt to slog through Clinton’s autofellatiography, I believe you would find it tedious beyond belief, and this is why. For although he is a passionate man, his passions are on a very low “earth plane,” while spiritual development specifically involves the “subtilization” of emotions.

In fact, you will notice that some exoteric paths involve the repression of emotion rather than its transformation. I am afraid that I have noticed this pattern on a fairly widespread scale in the religious movement of which Clinton is a part. This is not to tar everyone with the same brush, as the exceptions are obvious and many, but there is an aspect of southern Christianity that seems to almost express itself in a bipolar way, going from vital expression to vital guilt and manic reparation and then back again.

I recently got an intimate glimpse into this dynamic in reading the biography of Elvis, who was a profoundly spiritual man in the sense we are discussing. I’m now reading a biography of Johnny Cash. Same thing. So too Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke, Hank Williams, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, and so many others. They never really escaped from the vital, but instead swung from pillar to post between expression and repression.

But true spiritual growth involves a spiritualization, transformation, and subtilization of emotion. Emotion becomes “finer,” lighter, more translucent. I am now at the point that I have some difficulty being around crowds of vital beings, such as a sporting event. But part of the problem is that the teams now increasingly pander and cater to vital beings.

For example, I used to love to go to Dodger Stadium, because it was like going to a park. It was positively edenic. No loud and annoying rock music blaring from the speakers, no ads filling every square inch of unused space, and a certain gentility among most of the fans. But now, they literally don’t give you a silent moment to ruminate and enjoy the natural rhythm of the game.

And the fans are much more loud, vulgar and animalistic. When I was a kid, no one cursed in public at a game, but now it’s constant. I sensed a real shift about a decade ago, when they had a baseball giveaway promotion. The umpire made a bad call in the seventh inning, at which point baseballs rained down of the field, endangering the umpires and players. Fans wouldn’t stop, so the Dodgers had to forfeit the game.

You may think this is a small thing, but on a cultural level it is huge. When I attended games in the 60s, 70s and even 80s, this type of behavior among Dodger fans would have been unthinkable. Perhaps they would have done something similar in San Francisco or Oakland--Giant or Raider fans always attract and celebrate the vital--but not in the Sacred Temple of Dodger Stadium.

Something “tipped” in the 1990s, and hasn’t stopped tipping ever since. No one set fire to their city after winning a championship until what, 1991, with the Chicago Bulls? Now it’s a barbaric tradition. You can easily hear the same phenomenon in music and see it in TV, movies, and modern "art," as our culture becomes increasingly crude and falls into the vital. Here we are at the cusp where vitalism slides into destruction, the fourth stage of the nihilist dialectic.

This is obviously going to have to be a two parter, because I’ve barely cleared my throat....

Father Rose points out that the fall into vitalism is at the heart of the reverse utopias of the left, which immamentize Christian hope and try to create a “vital heaven” on earth. For if higher truth is eclipsed as a result of “realism,” then leftism results from the flight from despair that such an erroneous and subhuman metaphysic entails.

Bear in mind that, as we discussed a few days ago, the spiritual impulse remains, but now it is no longer guided by traditional channels. It becomes “unhinged” so to speak. I am quite sure that most of you bobbleheaded Children of the Light can read dailykos and know exactly what I am talking about. The well attested creepy feeling one gets from any writer or commenter on that site is your own higher mind sensing the unbound vital, completely detached from more refined emotions and from the intellect properly so called (i.e., the nous or noetic faculty). {Shudder.}

As Father Rose points out, “there is no form of Vitalism that is not naturalistic,” which again goes to the many pseudo-religions that are an expression of vitalism. Here again, if you are remotely sensitive, you will notice this with regard to most “new age” spirituality, which is vital to the core, a cauldron of subjective fantasies, a “rootless eclecticism” of half-understood fragments, earth worship, narcissistic "realizationism," and sometimes frank satanism (even if unwitting). In reality, these pseudo-religions are “a cancer born of nihilism.”

It looks like our coming election this November is going to be a purely vital affair, giving voice to the lower vital and sanctioning the "ideas" of the vital mind. Even more than this or that policy, this is what makes it so frightening. Because there may come point when vitalism swamps the light of the higher mind, as it has already done in academia and the mass media. The prospect of an awakened multitude animated by the “terrible simplifiers” of the left is not a sanguine one... then again, "sanguine" comes from the French word for blood.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Fall into Mere Reality (10.01.08)

Continuing from yesterday’s post, we are tracing the dialectic of nihilism in the postmodern world through the stages of liberalism --> realism --> vitalism --> nihilistic destruction, as outlined by Father Seraphim Rose.

Incidentally, as reader Alan pointed out yesterday, hardcore traditionalists tend to prefer monarchy as the proper form of government, and although this is undoubtedly a nonstarter for Americans, the traditionalists have their reasons. I may discuss those reasons later, and although I must ultimately reject them, I certainly appreciate where they’re coming from. Traditionalists are concerned with the inevitable dark side of democracy--demagoguery, the tyranny of the stupid and emotional, the plummeting of standards, the loss of the spiritual center of civilization, etc. The question of how we reconcile tradition and progress is an absolutely critical one, so perhaps I will address it after we complete our four-part fall into nihilism. The future of civilization will depend upon how we balance the two.

Let us stipulate that religion deals with absolute truth, or at least purports to do so. In the end, in the absence of absolute truth, the only option left open to one is nihilism, because nihilism is simply the doctrine of relativity drawn out to its logical conclusion. An honest nihilist such as Nietzsche realizes this: “God is dead and therefore man becomes God and everything is possible.” In the final analysis, the existence of God is the only thing that prevents honest human beings from inevitably coming to Nietzsche’s stark conclusion: “I am God and all is permitted.” Nietzsche also knew full well that once the appeal to absolute truth is vitiated, raw power comes in to fill the void.

As a brief aside, we are all aware of how petrified the left is of religious Christians. I was thinking about this yesterday, and it occurred to me that this speaks volumes about the nihilistic temperament. For to be truly religious is to be humble, to be humble is to pray, and to pray is to think on one’s knees. While I am not literally on my knees as I type these posts, I can assure you that I am figuratively. But this is the one thing you cannot imagine a leftist doing. Can you picture a truly arrogant nihilist of the left--say, Randi Rhodes or Bill Maher or Keith Olbermann--ever humbling themselves before God prior to a show and asking for the light of truth and the ability to express it? Of course not. Otherwise they wouldn't conduct themselves the way they do. The essence of being fallen is the pride that comes with one’s utter independence from God. (And no, I am not saying there are no arrogant demagogues of the right. I am speaking in large generalizations about the wider philosophies and what they imply.)

Yesterday Dennis Prager was on the Larry King program, and made, of all things, a truthful statement about the Foley scandal. King, speaking for fallen man and media, responded with words to the effect of, “forget about that. What about the perception. Isn’t that what counts?”

Scientific or logical truth is always relative truth. Thanks to Goedel, we know that there is no system of logic that can fully account for itself, or that can be both coherent and complete. Rather, completeness is always purchased at the price of consistency, while a rigidly consistent system will be woefully incomplete--say, a consistent program of materialism or determinism. Such a philosophy will leave most of reality--including the most interesting parts--outside its purview. This is why Marxism is such an inadequate theory. In explaining everything, it explains nothing. But at least it’s consistent, like Darwinism.

But if there is no absolute there is only the relative, incoherent though that philosophy may be (for the existence of relativity, or degrees of being, proves the absolute, for the relative can only be assessed and judged--or even perceived--in light of the absolute). In the face of the the absolute we are easily able to judge various cultures on the basis of their proximity to the ideal. But once we have destroyed the absolute and descended into relativity, then what necessarily follows is multiculturalism, moral relativism, deconstruction, “perception is reality,” and Larry the Lizard is King. All cultures become equally cherished, with the exception of the culture that believes some cultures are better. All truths are privileged with the exception of Truth itself. Belief in Truth itself is "authoritarian" or "fascist."

In the relative world of nihilism, I am necessarily all. The world literally revolves around me, since my truth is absolute. The ultimate questions have no answers except for those I might provide. This is why leftist academia has become so corrupt, for how can it not be “corrupting to hear or read the words of men who do not believe in truth?” “It is yet more corrupting to receive, in place of truth, mere learning and scholarship which, if they are presented as ends in themselves, are no more than parodies of the truth they were meant to serve, no more than a facade behind which there is no substance” (Rose).

The emptiness of relativism evokes the next stage in the nihilist dialectic, realism. This is an entirely new kind of realism, for, prior to modernity, it had referred to any philosophy which affirmed the self-evident reality of transcendental categories such as truth, love, and beauty. In short. it testified to the reality of the vertical. But this new type of debased realism entirely excluded the vertical, and affirmed that only the horizontal realm was real--that is, the material, external, and quantifiable world. In one fell swoop, a philosophy of unreality became the paradigmatic lens through which mankind was now to view the world.

In my sidebar you will see a relevant quote from Richard Weaver: “The modernistic searcher after meaning may be likened to a man furiously beating the earth and imagining that the finer he pulverizes it, the nearer he will get to the riddle of existence. But no synthesizing truths lie in that direction. It is in the opposite direction that the path must be followed.” Nevertheless, it is in this downward direction that our fall inevitably takes us.

Here philosophy is officially replaced by modern misosophy: hatred of wisdom. It is a childishly naive ideology that confuses what is most obvious with what is most true and what is most fundamental with what is most real. The cosmos is officially turned upside-down and inside-out, bizarrely elevating insentient matter to the the ultimate. This is certainly intellectual nihilism, but we have a ways to go before we hit bottom, which we will proceed to do in my next two posts.

As Father Rose writes, “Worship of fact is by no means the love of truth; it is, as we have already suggested, parody. It is the presumption of the fragment to replace the whole; it is the proud attempt to build a Tower of Babel, a collection of facts, to reach to the heights of truth and wisdom from below. But truth is only attained by bowing down and accepting what is received from above. All the pretended ‘humility’ of Realist scholars and scientists... cannot conceal the pride of their collective usurpation of the throne of God...”

Such an individual “becomes a fanatical devotee of the only reality that is obvious to the spiritually blind: this world.” Human beings are reduced to races or classes, spiritual love to animal sex, higher needs to lower desires, while the earth is elevated to Goddess, the dramatic to the significant, the celebrity to the important. If there is only this world, I’m going to get mine and have a good time. A new kind of human monster is born, and takes his place a bit lower than the beasts. It is Vital Man, whom we shall discuss in the next post.

Which may not be until Monday. Due to popular demand, I may cut back to five posts a week, so that people may have a bit of time to chew, swallow, metabolize... and flush if necessary.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Psychophysics of Falling and the Dialectic of Nihilism (9.30.08)

(late for work!--not spiel-checked)

One’s political philosophy, whether one acknowledges it or not, is going to depend upon one’s conception of human nature. And if your conception of human nature is wrong, then your philosophy is going to be warped and your system of governance is going to be dysfunctional. I believe leftism is rooted in a naive and faulty conception of human nature, which is why it does not work.

I haven’t read it yet, but yesterday Dennis Prager was talking about an article in the new Vanity Fair--of all places--that discusses this in reference to European socialism. These socialist countries are dying precisely because, within a couple of generations, they produce a new kind of man: indolent, dependent upon the government, spiritually empty, essentially nihilistic. Eventually a tipping point will be reached in which there will not be enough productive people to support the unproductive ones, and that will be the end of Europe as we know it.

Thus, not only is your political philosophy dependent upon your conception of human nature, but once in place, your philosophy will produce radically different kinds of human beings. We don’t have to look very far to see how this has played out in the United States, for example, with respect to all of the Oh, Great! Society programs that had the cumulative effect of taking a wrecking ball to the black family, leaving it much worse off than before government got involved. One of the last great liberals, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, saw this coming in the 1960s, writing about the “tangle of pathology” that afflicted urban culture. If I am not mistaken, the liberal meme “blaming the victim” was first applied to Moynihan.

One of the central divides in the culture war is the question of whether or not mankind is “fallen.” Actually that’s not quite right, because for at least half the country, the whole idea of mankind being “fallen” is precisely nonsense. To the extent that they give a moment’s thought to the question, it is only to mock and dismiss it. Modern secularists are way too sophisticated to ever believe in such crude mythology.

As I have had occasion to mention many times, revelation contains timeless wisdom and objective metaphysics that must be “unpacked.” This can only be done through a combination of preparation and grace. No amount of study or of intelligence alone will help you finally “get” religion in the absence of grace. In fact, “getting it” is a fine example of the operation of grace. In this sense, the uncreated intellect--that part of our being that may know divine truth--is itself a supernaturally natural revelation of God (as Schuon has expressed it).

There are so many different ways to consider the question of our fallenness. Before he became Father Seraphim Rose (1934-1981), Eugene Rose began work on a book that he never finished, entitled The Kingdom of Man and the Kingdom of God. He completed only one chapter, on what he called “stages of the nihilist dialectic,” tracing modern man’s fall into the abyss of liberal nihilism. Because in the end, that is what the culture war is really about: objective truth vs. nihilism.

Rose saw our descent as happening in four stages that he called 1) liberalism, 2) realism, 3) vitalism, and 4) destruction. The first of these, liberalism, is already a sort of “passive nihilism,” because it opens the door to everything that follows--it is a “breeding ground of the more advanced stages of nihilism.” Why is that? Partly because, under the guise of “tolerance,” liberalism slowly begins to distance itself from, and no longer take seriously, the very ideas and traditions that made liberalism possible.

You see this for example, in the vast rhetorical gulf that exists between the great classical liberal thinkers who founded America and the petty, small-minded leftist liberals who rule today.

“We hold these truth to be self-evident.” That phrase alone would be evidence enough to deny tenure to an aspiring political scientist or philosopher. It gets worse. In the Declaration of Independence, God is explicitly named four times: he is the One who has endowed human beings with unalienable rights that no government may trespass; he is the author of the laws of nature (meaning that our founders took “intelligent design” for granted); he is the “Supreme Judge of the World” and therefore the source of our objective morality (i.e., the founders were not modern liberal moral relativists); and he is “Divine Providence," the source and end of all our worldly activities.

This kind of intemperate language would never be tolerated by today’s liberals. God? Judgment? Absolute truth? Intelligent design? Objective morality? Reliance upon God? These white European males who founded America were theofascists, just like President Bush!

In recent weeks a couple of readers have suggested that I believe I am always right, and that I never acknowledge any errors. First of all, I acknowledge errors all the time, except that I simply call it “growth.” I don’t necessarily stop to chronicle how my thinking differs today from last week, last year, or five years go. But from my end, it feels as if I continue to get a deeper grasp of things as I go along, so that previously held “partial truths” may well be discarded. Furthermore, perhaps you may not have noticed that my Minister of Doctrinal Enforcement often makes subtle corrections in my tendency to make extreme statements to illuminate a point. I will be the first to concede that I do not possess “judicial temperament.”

One issue that I was very wrong about was that of “liberty.” This is such a transcendent value for me, that I mistakenly believed that it was implanted into the bosom of man, and that it was only for us to remove the obstacles--say, in Iraq--and watch liberty blossom.

But I was wrong about that. Most human beings do not actually crave liberty. As a matter of fact, history will demonstrate the opposite--that human beings by and large find liberty to be repellant, and much prefer security. This is the difference between classical liberals and modern liberals, and it is also the difference between Europe and America. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says that the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. True enough. But what about all those places where the Spirit isn’t? There you will neither find liberty nor the desire for it. I now better understand that liberty is a spiritual value that half the country and most of the world does not necessarily share--certainly not the Islamic world. After all, the Islamists would rather kill every last Iraqi man, woman and child than allow them to live in freedom.

The modern liberal, in his descent into nihilism, values security over liberty, equality over freedom, “truths” over Truth. FDR, that patron saint of modern liberalism, unveiled a host of new “self-evident truths” that had somehow eluded our founders in a famous speech: “Now that the war was in the process of being won, the main objective for the future could be ‘captured in one word: Security.’”

Roosevelt argued that this actually meant something new and entirely unprecedented, that is, "economic security, social security, moral security." Classical liberalism, which had always been associated with negative liberties--i.e., the right to be left alone by the government--was to be replaced by a new vision of positive liberty that now forms the essence of modern liberalism. The government's job was now to even keep us free of fear, and “Freedom from fear is eternally linked with freedom from want." But since “want” is literally infinite, this sets up the need for a government that is infinite in its powers. For as the adage goes, any time the government does something for you, it does something to you. Since it now proposes to do everything for you...

In effectuating this new promise of security to all American citizens, Roosevelt argued for a new tax policy "which will tax all unreasonable profits, both individual and corporate." Unreasonable profits. Obviously we are still having that debate today, aren't we? What is an unreasonable profit, and why is it unreasonable? Here you see how the anti-libertarian, pseudo-religious language of Marxism insinuated itself into our discourse, further accelerating the Fall of liberal man: we "cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people--whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth--is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.”

Sunstein continues: “At that point, the speech became spectacularly ambitious. Roosevelt looked back, not entirely approvingly, to the framing of the Constitution. At its inception, the nation had protected ‘certain inalienable political rights--among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures,’ he noted. But over time, those rights had proved inadequate, as ‘we have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.’”

Comes now fully fallen Leftist Man with a new revelation and a new Bill of Rights:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation.

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.

The right of every family to a decent home.

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.

The right to a good education.


Sounds good doesn’t it? No, better than good. It sounds positively utopian! Because now, with my new Bill of Rights in hand, my absence of responsibility and my victimhood are complete. The Government owes me a meaningful, well-paying job, fairness, a house, free medical care, an absence of fear, and full protection from my own bad decisions throughout life!

Obviously, many people want that new deal. But it is the quintessence of a Faustian bargain, in which you have traded God for government. You are now Horizontal Man. You have fallen all the way down.

Wait, that’s not quite right. We still have three more stages to go before man’s degeneracy is complete. To be continued.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Attack on Unforgiveable Meanings

One of Michael Polanyi’s most important insights had to do with the difference between subsidiary and focal knowledge. Most of what we know--especially the more we know--is not explicitly available to us, as it is in the form of a tacit and “unspecifiable” integration of particulars that allows us to peer more deeply into reality: “all knowing consists of the integration of subsidiary and tacitly sensed particulars into a focal and articulate whole.”

Polanyi used several examples to illustrate his point. Take the human face. Although we can recognize a single human face out of a billion, we cannot say how we do so. Each face is constituted of the same features--eyes, nose, lips, etc.--but these merely become the background in apprehending the whole face. We could not see the face without these subsidiary particulars, but the face cannot be reduced to them.

As a matter of fact, there are some autistic and psychotic people who are unable to recognize faces. Instead, they see only the disconnected fragments of a face, which they cannot integrate into a meaningful expression.

Although there is no indication that he knew about Polanyi, the psychoanalyst W.R. Bion noted that particularly ill individuals actually reverse the process he describes and attack or prevent the emergence of unwanted meaning. I personally see this all the time. That is, even a neurotic individual will often attack or block the emergence of a particular meaning so as to reduce it to its meaningless particulars. Once you understand this process, you will see that the left (in its broadest sense) habitually engages in it, both voluntarily and involuntarily. For example, it is the reason why they think the economy is doing poorly despite the fact that it is performing spectacularly. Stock market at an all time high? Don't mean nothin'. Alls I see is that dang prevert congressman.

What is political correctness but an all-out assault on the ability of people to arrive at certain unwanted conclusions? What is deconstruction but a frontal attack on any meaning that places western civilization in a positive light? There are no conservative deconstructionists, because what is specifically being deconstructed--that is, attacked--is the truism that America is a good and decent nation, that western civilization is a uniquely precious gift, that America is not a racist-sexist-homophobic society, etc. None of these conclusions are permissible on the left. They must be assaulted both intellectually and physically, as when the fascistic Columbia students attacked the Minutemen last week.

Yesterday I made the point that science, properly understood, can only exist in a free society. Amazingly, some commenters disagreed with this axiomatic statement, which only goes to show how far cultural relativism has seeped its way into the collective mind. Has anyone ever heard of Soviet psychiatry, which is simply leftist psychiatry writ large, or drawn out to its ultimate implications? For in the Soviet system, the definition of mental health was dictated from the top down, determined by the needs of the collective. One was “sick” to the extent that one had thoughts, beliefs or behaviors that were inconsistent with the needs of the glorious revolution. Freely discovering one's own meaning--which is the meaning and purpose of liberty--is precisely forbidden.

In psychoanalysis, the purest of psychotherapies, the first rule is to “say whatever comes to mind.” Ironically, you could even say that one is “cured” when one is finally capable of actually doing this. But in any totalitarian society, saying whatever comes to mind is what one must never do. Eventually one is not even aware of the suppression, because it becomes internalized. There are whole areas of the psyche that are marked off with signs and barriers: do not enter! One eventually suppresses oneself, and even projects the part of oneself that wishes to be free into others.

This is at heart of the Islamist pathology. You could say that their own “id”--understood in the much broader sense as all that is unactualized and stillborn within the psyche--is projected into aggressive and sexually degenerate Jews and infidels. Importantly, once something is banished from conscious awareness, it undergoes a bizarre transmogrification, as it is subject to the very different laws that govern unconscious logic. This is why the rhetoric that emerges from the Muslim world takes on such florid and bizarre proportions, as documented every day by memri.org. It probably also accounts for the phenomenon of Bush derangement among the left’s kook base.

Imagine a Palestinian going to a Palestinian psychiatrist and free associating. “You know, I’ve been having these weird thoughts.... I don’t think that Jews are responsible for all my problems.... In fact, I’m starting to think that they’re an admirable people, and that we should be imitating them instead of murdering them.... Let’s be honest, Doc, Arabs have contributed nothing to the world, but just by being in proximity to Israel we were the most prosperous Arab ecomomy, but we stupidly destroyed all of that with the meaningless intifada. We actually cheered when those planes went into the Twin Towers, but now I’m starting to have second thoughts, Doc. Am I crazy?”

“Yes. Not just crazy but evil. As a way of curing you, I am recommending that you be hung by your ankles from the nearest lamp post and be disemboweled by an angry mob.”

Is it really any different in America? Of course it is. Here they don’t string you up by your ankles, but merely fire you or ruin your career, like Lawrence Summers at Harvard, who had the temerity to utter a banal scientific truth about the differences between men and women in that ovary tower of maleicious feminist drivel. Conservatives are routinely vilified in this manner by the left, merely for having ideas of which they do not approve--Robert Bork, Rush Limbaugh, Samuel Alito... the list is endless. You will notice that they never actually engage the ideas, but attack the person who holds them as being malicious, evil and sinister. This is why the left must rely on scandal and judicial tyranny to advance its otherwise unpopular agenda. In a battle of ideas they lose every time, which is why it so so critical for them to keep the Foley matter on the front burner.

The matter of leftist control of my profession becomes particularly annoying for me every two years, when it is time for me to complete my 36 hours of continuing education in order to renew my license. Ironically, it is the one time of the year that I must temporarily suspend my education in order to absorb some semiannual left wing claptrap.

In a previous post, I wrote of my experience with the oral examination to became a psychologist. The examiners read you a little clinical vignette and ask you questions about it. What are your thoughts? How would you treat this person? What’s their diagnosis? They then change little details, asking what you’d do in this or that situation.

But then they come to the really, really important part, the holiest of holies, Cultural Competence. This is where you are presented with the opportunity to fall over yourself--which you had better do--in demonstrating how politically correct you are. It is one of the best examples I know of for how the left insinuates itself into virtually every profession, converting political dogma into what is essentially law. For a license is a legal document, and it is therefore “illegal” for me to not toe the leftist line on issues of multiculturalism, cultural relativism, victimology, and political correctness.

Normal people don’t think about these things, but leftists are not normal people. As activists, they are always active. You and I may go about our lives earning a living, raising our children, enjoying our hobbies, but the activist has no life, so he is actively involved in making your life more difficult. He will not cease his activity until there are no victims left on whose behalf he can activate.

So anyway, just when you think you’ve covered the clinical vignette from every possible angle, out comes the cross-cultural screw ball: what if the patient were African American?

African American! Oh my God! A negro! What would I do? That changes everything! They're not like us. They’re a completely different race, I mean, culture. The same rules don’t apply. They don’t think like you or I do. What’s crazy for white folks might be normal for them. Don’t forget the anger over slavery. And don’t forget they won’t trust you, because you’re white. No, that’s not paranoia. Perception is reality. You d’ Man. You an authority figure, and they don’t trust authority. And don’t forget, they have a matriarchal culture, so don’t mention the “F-word” (father). They just choose to organize their families differently, so don’t be projecting your own racist 1950’s Ozzie and Harriet values about marriage or the need for a mother and father. And remember, they’re rough on their kids, so don’t call it abuse. Mama don’t play!

I wonder how this process works for blacks taking the psychology exam. Are they presumed to be “culturally incompetent” to treat white folks? Are homosexuals incompetent to treat heterosexuals, secular psychologists incompetent to treat Christians? To even ask the question is to expose the nuttiness of the left.

But that’s not the end of the leftist fruit hoops through a licensed psychologist must jump. Oh no. They can’t risk you lapsing into cultural incompetence once you’re licensed. At heart you are an incorrigible racist and homophobe. Steps must be taken. The mandated thirty-six hours of re-indoctrination is another chance for the activists to activate.

My mandatory ethics class was a case in point. In over twenty years of seeing patients, only a couple come to mind who had AIDs. And yet, my ethics class was obsessed with the rights of homosexuals, in particular, those with HIV (not that it's a gay disease!).

Here are some samples from the course:

“HIV/AIDS has its own unique ethical issues. Because HIV can be transmitted through sexual activity and by sharing drug equipment, it evokes significant personal feelings and judgments in the general public, as well as in health and social service providers.

You shall not judge the victim! Don't be leaping to conclusions about their "drug equipment." It's not like they smoke cigarettes in public or something.

“The principle of justice assumes impartiality and equality. It means that a clinician will treat all clients equally and give everyone their due portion of services. This principle applies to the individual client as well as on the larger societal level.”

You shall not prefer certain people or cultures over others! Doing so is unjust. And make sure that 13% of your patients are black and 52% are women. After all, that's their "due portion" of your services.

“Individuals have the right to decide how to live their own lives, as long as their actions do not interfere with the welfare of others. This principle respects the unconditional worth of the individual and promotes the concepts of self-governance, self-determination, and self-rule.”

You shall not make any moral judgments! Doing so is immoral. Everyone is unconditionally valuable, except for people who think they aren't. And we must value self-determination and self-rule, except for official victims whose lives are determined and ruled by white male victimizers.

“The impact of welfare reform may augment concern about access issues. Adding restrictions to a population that is already disenfranchised will require more creativity, patience, and determination on the part of the clinician who is trying to advocate for a client.”

Your job is not to "treat a patient” but to advocate for a client! And you must help your disenfranchised client register to vote (Democrat, of course), so that we can undo welfare reform.

“For some counselors, the knowing transmission of HIV is as serious as hearing their client threaten to kill someone. There are differences, however, between knowingly transmitting HIV and murder. For one, the campaign to stop the transmission of HIV has encouraged people to protect themselves. Therefore, every individual is responsible for safer sex practices, so it is not entirely the responsibility of the person with HIV.”

You are not a victim if someone intentionally gives you HIV. Hey, wait a minute, I don’t get this one... Finally, a real victim!

“Providers should consider the following questions: How can providers, and society in general, ensure that resources are distributed fairly?"

Easy. By becoming Marxists, of course. To each according to his need, and all that.

"How can such allocations be free of bias and assumptions about certain individuals, cultures, and populations?”

Umm, by having a load of politically correct cultural biases and assumptions about them?

“Cultural issues often are glossed over... For example, a gay, African American client may have difficulty dealing with his homosexuality and as a result may be having anonymous unprotected sex impulsively.”

Hmm... What if he's a closeted congressman who sends dirty instant messages? Should we cut him any slack? And what if having impulsive anonymous unprotected sex is the whole point of the subculture? Shouldn't we be sensitive to that?

And my favorite: “Dual relationships should be avoided if possible. A clinician who knows a client via a past sexual encounter should not assume a professional role with that client.”

I looked up the word encounter: a chance meeting; a direct often momentary meeting.

Do not, under any circumstances, be a provider of mental health services to a client with whom you’ve had a chance, momentary meeting without your clothes on.

Not that there’s anything wrong with it. You're probably just an African American who can't admit you're gay. Either that or you’re Bill Clinton.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Children of Light vs. the Communist Maninfestation (7.04.08)

Communists have been overturning the order of the cosmos since, what, 1848? That’s when the great anti-Moses belched forth his reverse Sinai revelation and laid down the left-handed version of human history and ontology. But was he merely giving voice to a much older conflict? Was it just an old whine in a new battle?

There is a rabbinical tradition that attempts to read between the lines of scripture to discern its hidden meaning. In so doing, the rabbi will invent a midrash to illuminate a passage. These are often full of paradox, puns, wordplay and other midrashcally rabbitorahcal devoices, almost like zen koans.

Sometimes a midrash is necessary when you encounter a couple of Bible passages that seem to contradict each other. I have always been intrigued by the fact that Genesis tells two very different versions of the creation of man. Most people seem to just skim over this inconsistency, but maybe God is trying to tell us something. Perhaps we need a midrash to reconcile the two.

Boris Mouravieff had an interesting way of reconciling the two passages. That is, he felt that they were not referring to the same event, but to two distinctly different ones. In the pre-Adamic account in Genesis 1:27, both man and woman are created simultaneously. But in the second version in Genesis 2:7, God forms man “out of the dust of the ground,” and more importantly, “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” so that he became a truly “living being” with a divine spark within.

You might say that God first created “horizontal man,” who is capable only of organic or biological growth. But he then corrected this deficiency by creating “vertical man” who is capable of spiritual evolution. This new kind of man, who had had a living soul breathed into him, “possessed in a latent state a potential that the purely animal world does not possess, that of passing on to the human and even superhuman stages of development."

Before you get all high and mighty, bear in mind that this was all before the fall and much subsequent miscegenation between the children of light and the daughters of the earth: “Pursuing the mirage of temporal goods,” Adam and Eve lost touch with the higher intellectual center through which they had enjoyed direct contact with God. “The beauty of the daughters of men did the rest. Adam turned away from his real ‘I’ and identified with his personality.”

Waylon Jennings gives a similar account in his Black Rose:

When the devil made that woman
Lord he threw the pattern away
She was built for speed, with the tools you need
To make a new fool every day

So, the question is, is the planet still inhabited by two kinds of people, children of the Light and sons and daughters of the earth?

Oh, I think so. Can’t you tell when you’re in the presence of the former? Is it just me, or when you look into their eyes, don’t you see something roughly halfway between animal and human?

They even speak differently. Not only is there no light in their speech, but there is darkness visible. Here, check this out:

“The field of scientific research in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, 2006, at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great, prosperous, powerful socialist nation.... The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent. It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the Korean People's Army and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defense capability. It will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the area around it.”

Sounds like a combination of a Chinese restaurant menu and a scientology flier. It is actually full of truth, for, as we have mentioned in the past, one must know the truth in order to lie about it. Those truths include the fact that North Korea has no democracy, no science, no greatness, no prosperity, no indigenous wisdom or technology, and no intention to defend peace and stability anywhere. Other than that, it is an honest statement.

“No science.” What do you mean by that, Bob? Doesn’t the nuclear test prove that these Sons of Darkness indeed have science?

No, not at all. That is precisely the problem. Like Iran, this is a country that could have never developed science, nor would it ever tolerate science. They can only steal and imitate science, just as they can only imitate and ape democracy, wisdom and prosperity.

For science developed only in one time and place on earth, because a precondition of science was the Judeo-Christian ideal of liberty. Science is the exact opposite of a topdown enterprise--Dr. Evil or Lil’ Kim shouting at his Number Two, “build me a bomb! Now!” All of the hundreds and thousands of little discoveries that made nuclear technology possible could only have been made by hundreds and thousands of scientists freely investigating reality--pure and unfettered curiosity about the way the world works.

Would this type of absolute freedom to pursue one’s curiosity be tolerated for one moment in Iran or North Korea? Of course not. Thus they have no science and can only steal from liberty in order to enforce slavery. Very ironic. I often wonder if the Iranians realize that they are messing with “Jewish physics.” Hitler certainly did, which thankfully delayed his plans to develop a weapon of mass destruction. It’s a little difficult to develop a nuclear device with the Aryan physics of Newton or with an abacus.

Bob, I’m still a little uncomfortable with your division of human kind into two different species.

Okay, first of all, it is a metaphor, a heuristic device. Secondly, don’t forget about the miscegenation. While there are exceptions who retain more pure characteristics that betray their provenance--a Stalin or Marx on the one hand, Lincoln or Reagan on the other--most people are a mixture that tips one way or the other.

Here’s a banal example. You tell me if you simply disagree with this man, or if you might as well belong to a different species.

The New Yorker calls this Princeton professor, Peter Singer, the world’s “most influential living philosopher.” It is Singer’s belief that “middle class families in the United States have a moral obligation to pay 33 percent of the first $30,000 they make to combat poverty around the globe.” After the first $30,000, they should pay 100 percent. He explicitly rejects the theory of property rights as an ‘unacceptable ethical view,’” and argues that certain animals are “persons” that have “the same special claim to be protected” as humans. He also maintains that infanticide is in some cases morally obligatory (Larry Arn, in a special edition of the Hillsdale College Imprimus).

Just as Korea does not have science, Princeton apparently does not have philosophy, certainly not in the literal sense of “loving wisdom.” Singer would undoubtedly find my metaphor of two kinds of humans to be repellant. This is because, like all radical secularists, he knows that there are actually no humans. For equating animals and humans does not elevate animals so much as denigrate human beings. At least those in whom God breathed a living soul.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hey Hey, We're the Monkeys! Evolving and Adapting in Cyberspace

If the news didn’t exist, where would you start to look for it? If we didn’t have the New York Times to dictate what is important, how would we know where to direct our attention?

As I mentioned the other day, the news is not just the news, but the appropriation of an institution for the promulgation of a particular worldview. Although the left makes a big deal out of the existence of Fox Cable News, I frankly find little difference between Fox and the liberal media with regard to their implicit views on the nature of reality. Based on their allocation of resources, both think that the Foley scandal is of earth shattering significance. So too was the story of the nut who falsely confessed to the Jon Benet Ramsey murder.

Somehow, all the major newspapers and TV stations end up covering the same stories. The Foley and Ramsey stories would have been noted only in passing in the blogosphere, except perhaps by some people with very peculiar interests. (We are not discussing the left wing blogosphere here, as it is simply the MSM with profanity.) Likewise, Abu Ghraib would have been a one day story, in contrast to the New York Times, which had dozens of front page stories on it in order to mislead the public and advance their leftist agenda.

My father used to wonder how it was possible that all the gas stations sold gas at roughly the same price, within pennies of each other. How was this possible? Was there some kind of collusion, some kind of gentlemen’s agreement to set a certain price and not go any lower than that?

This occurred to me while reading the new book on the philosopher Michael Polanyi. Prior to officially becoming a philosopher at the age of 58 in 1947, Polanyi had been a very successful scientist, publishing some 200 or more papers. But his scientific background formed the basis of his emerging philosophy, because it was through his own scientific experimentation that he realized that the nature of knowing is not what people--especially scientists--believe it to be.

That is, Polanyi understood that the caricature of the detached and dispassionate scientific observer was all wrong. Rather, the creative scientist was “passionate in his quest to make contact with a reality that he necessarily believes is real and knowable” (Mitchell). Furthermore, he recognized long prior to the elite economists of his day that, just as a planned economy results in hunger and privation, a planned science would destroy science.

Rather, science could only be grounded in liberty, not just any liberty, but within a teleological liberty aimed at disclosing transcendent truth. One must be committed to truth while, at the same time, refrain from explicitly defining that truth at the outset. One of the reasons why Polanyi was such a creative scientist was that he came to science as an outsider, and was therefore not committed to certain widely held "truths" that had stymied other scientists. One can say the same thing for his philosophy, as he approached problems in an entirely fresh way, not knowing that he was “wasting his time.” In so doing, he avoided the institutionalized errors of professional philosophers.

Polanyi was fascinated by the paradox of how we can know truth before we know it, in the form of tacit presuppositions that guide our quest for knowledge. That is, 90% of the battle in science is identifying a deep and fruitful problem, one that can be solved. But how does one know ahead of time what is a good problem? One doesn’t actually begin with a random hypothesis, for if the scientist “were required to make a list of every possible solution and then test each one systematically, he would spend a lifetime on one or at most two very simple problems. In reality, the scientist eliminates the vast majority of possible solutions without testing them. How does he do this?”

In other words, a good--or bad--hypothesis is already a deep statement about one’s unarticulated beliefs about the nature of reality. Mitchell puts it this way: “When we seek understanding, we either know what we are seeking or not. If we know what we are looking for, we need look no further, for we already possess understanding. On the other hand, if we do not know what we are looking for, how can we proceed? It is impossible to pursue what we do not know, and it is unnecessary to pursue what we already possess.”

One may think that this is an arcane philosophical point, but many civilizations have been shipwrecked on its rocks. The Muslim world, for example, decided long ago that science was unnecessary, because if it discovered something that contradicted the Koran, then it was false, whereas if it discovered something that confirmed the Koran, it was unnecessary. With this tautology, Muslims said ta-ta ta' modernity.

In fact, I believe this epistemological problem is at the heart of the three-headed civilizational battle we are currently waging between leftism, Islamism, and classical American liberalism. The problem of Islam speaks for itself. But the same problem applies to the left, for it too attempts to seal the book of knowledge and prevent thought from straying into forbidden areas. Just as it believes in a topdown command economy, it believes in a “command intelligentsia” that enforces a particular view of reality from on high. Its means is the takeover of the elite media and of academia from preschool through graduate school, and its method is political correctness. And the higher you move up through the system, the greater the pressure to conform to a certain tacit worldview.

For example, as a psychologist, I feel this pressure acutely, as my professional organization has been taken over by leftist activists who determine everything from the nature of mental illness to the ethics that must inform our practice--even if it means that illness must be called health and morality must be called unethical.

Back to our original question of why the mass media is so blandly uniform. Clearly, in order to move up the ranks of the liberal media machine, one must internalize a certain view of the world at each and every step of the way. This is why you can turn on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and it’s all the same--the same as the New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, et al.

But this is also why these institutions are slowly dying, whereas talk radio and the internet will continue to grow and gain in influence. With regard to the internet, it will eventually bring down the liberal media because it mirrors the practice of science in obeying the laws of how our understanding of reality is deepened.

That is, just like science--and unlike the liberal media--the blogosphere is polycentric, made up of hundreds and thousands of individual minds, each with its own view of reality. However, a spontaneous order emerges due to the constant horizontal feedback between individual practitioners. Unlike the liberal media, no one is “calling the shots” and deferring to some ultimate arbiter of reality like the New York Times. While it is a very messy process, it is in the end a much more accurate one, since it will quickly evolve, adjust and adapt in ways that the rigid liberal media cannot possibly do.

It is well understood in complexity theory that rigid order produces disorder, while spontaneous order emerges from chaos. Just as an infinitely complex and ordered economy emerges from the chaotic free market, the same principle applies to the internet. The attempt of the liberal media to impose its view of reality on the rest of us leaves all sorts of interesting and critically important interstices and niches that are completely ignored by the MSM. People such as Charles Johnson at LGF have jumped in to fill those niches. And this is why Err America is such a dismal failure, because they are attempting to fill a niche that does not exist, as it is already filled to the brim with the bland and predictable views of the liberal MSM.

Rule One in evolution: if you want to evolve, identify a new niche that no one else inhabits. This is what pre-human monkeys did when they came down from the trees and began wandering around the savannah. As little blogging monkeys, we can look behind us and see our empty-eyed and slack-jawed big media furbears contentedly sitting up in their sky-scraping trees. But that is the past. They are like our present day monkeys and apes whose ancestors made that fateful decision to play it safe and scoff at the hairless little upright bipeds scurrying about chaotically below.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Petey Said it. I Believe it. That Settles it.

You will have noticed that moonbats regularly try to lure me into an argument. Occasionally I relent and try to speak truth to their cognitive powerlessness, but it is almost always a mistake. Even though I prevail in every argument, the opponent never realizes it, so there’s no sense of satisfaction anyway.

Now, when I say that “I prevail in every argument,” that undoubtedly sounds arrogant. However, that would be a mistaken impression. For example, T. Jefferson famously asserted that it was self-evident that human beings were created by God and that God intended for them to have certain nonnegotiable rights. The purpose of government was to protect these natural rights, not to invent new ones, much less to take rights away because some neo-Marxists thought it would be a good idea. For example, government must protect and nurture the institution of marriage, because marriage is obviously anterior to government. It is not the government’s job to invent or sanction new and unnatural ways to be married.

It doesn’t sound to me like Jefferson was open to argument. If a modern day moonbat were to counter, “dude, if you just let people do what they want, they’ll do bad stuff,” the only response can be that Jefferson and the founding mooonbat share irreconcilable visions of God, of the nature of human beings, and of the purpose of government.

Take “discrimination,” for example. “Discrimination” is just another way of saying “generalization,” and to think--let alone philosophize--is to generalize. One cannot think without generalizing.

Naturally, some discrimination will be unfair, but I do not believe it is the job of the federal government to monitor it, except perhaps with regard to race (although even then, I believe that anti-discrimination laws have had a net negative impact on both society and the intended beneficiaries, as they tend to reduce them to victim status, create a new industry for corrupt lawyers, and diminish the importance of moral suasion and of shaming in bringing about positive social change).

For example, conservatives are obviously the targets of widespread discrimination in the news media and academia. In newsrooms, the ratio of liberal to conservative often approaches 25-1, and the typical humanities department in an elite university is over 90% leftist. But do I therefore believe that the federal government should get involved in forcing looniversities to hire more conservatives? No, not at all, because it would fly in the face of my first principle, which is that liberty is among the highest goods, even though flawed human beings are bound to do bad and stupid things with it. To say that one is opposed to anti-discriminaton laws is hardly equivalent to saying that one is in favor of discrimination toward this or that group.

Imagine if the federal government had gotten involved in forcing universities and the media to have a 50-50 split between leftist and classically liberal conservatives. Rather than helping the conservative movement, it probably would have stifled it. There would be no talk radio, no Rush Limbaugh, no National Review, no vibrant intellectual counterrevolution to leftist orthodoxy. As the leftist domination of elite universities and MSM is allowed to play itself out, I believe we will see--we are seeing--that these institutions will increasingly be regarded as the jokes that they are. That is certainly how I see them. I cannot imagine paying a penny to subscribe to a silly paper like the L.A. Times, let alone over $100,000 to send my son to be brainwashed at an elite university. It’s just a matter of time before the secret is out.

Back to the matter of why Petey is always right. Why do human beings even have “philosophies” to begin with? What are they looking for? What purpose do they serve? And why are some philosophies so much more adequate than others?

Human beings are, as Bion put it, epistemophilic. That is, we are born with an innate drive for meaning that is no less built into us than our drives to eat and reproduce. I can see it in my son, who is almost 18 months old. He is constantly studying, focussing intently, trying to make connections, attempting to make sense of things, trying to figure out what makes women tick, etc. And when he does make a connection, one can see that it brings great pleasure and satisfaction.

What makes us human--some of us anyway--is that we never lose this drive to deepen our understanding of reality. For although reality is real and external to us, it is also accurate to say that meaning occurs in the evolving transitional space between our neurology and the external world. That space can be very deep or it can be very shallow. But everything happens in that space--love, beauty, wisdom, etc.

As Michael Polanyi expressed it, when humans search for meaning, they are actually guided by an invisible gradient of deepening coherence within that space. The world is full of “particulars,” of loose ends and bits of disconnected information. The deeper philosophy will be the one that connects the most fragments into a unified whole. Therefore reality is both “present” and hidden from us, depending on our skill in pulling it all together.

And it is an art or a skill, not just another piece of information that can be passed from mind to mind. This is a critical point. One reason there is no purpose in arguing with a moonbat is that I cannot simply show someone what I see, any more more than Mozart could simply show you what he perceives in musical space (this is for pedagogic purposes only, not to compare myself to Mozart). One must first develop the skill in order to access the reality in question.

Take psychotherapy, for example. A great psychoanalyst, say, ShrinkWrapped, in listening to a patient’s free associations, will literally “see” a whole world of meaning that only exists in disconnected “bits” for the patient. One of the purposes of therapy will be to help the patient bring these bits together into a meaningful whole. Isn’t this also the task of the great historian--to take the literally infinite jumble of historical facts, and convert them into a deep, coherent, and satisfying vision? Isn’t this what Karl Marx did, or secular leftists do, only in a preposterously shallow way that appeals to moonbats but is repellant to the deep and thoughtful?

But can you argue with a neo-Marxist moonbat? No, you cannot, because it is a matter of competing visions. I can see the Marxist vision perfectly well, because it is so on the surface of reality. But I know of no Marxist who can truly share my vision, for if they did, they would be “converted.” They may think they get it, but they only understand the words. You know the story--folly to the geeks, a stumbling block to the clueless, and all that. Truth cannot be told so as to be understood and not believed, said Blake.

Again, do not be confused by the word "conversion," because I believe this goes a long way toward explaining the obvious hostility in our culture war. As Mitchell writes, “When opposing frameworks are so different that adherents of one cannot speak intelligibly to adherents of the other, the possibility of one partisan convincing another of the superiority of his position is slight. But even when persuasion becomes impossible, conversion remains viable."

In other words, all one can do is attempt to expose the poverty the opponent's position, and “to stimulate interest for [one’s] own richer perspectives; trusting that once an opponent has caught a glimpse of these, he cannot fail to sense a new mental satisfaction, which will attract him further and finally draw him over to its own grounds” (Polanyi).

Thus, in the final analysis, I am not looking for arguments but for converts--not to my particular point of view, but simply to a more encompassing vision of reality. I cannot give this vision directly, but I know for a fact that by sharing it and giving people the opportunity to “dwell” in it, they can be, in their own way “converted” to their own vision. I have received enough letters of thanks from former liberals to know that "conversion" is not too strong a word. Again, not to belabor the point, but it is not a conversion to "Gagdad Bobism," but to their own personal vision that begins to see the greater spiritual depth in things.

Back to arguing with moonbats. The reason they are powerless to persuade me is that there is simply no way I am ever going to revert to a philosophy that is so paltry and unsatisfying compared to my present one. It’s just not going to happen, any more than I would give up my wife for a watermelon.

Frankly I'd rather kiss a goat.



Or maybe a pig.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Epidemonology of Men Without Ombilical Chords of Mystic Memory

I was going to write a post about the deep structure of the histrionic--or possibly nefairyous--Foley-a-deux between the Democratic party and the MSM, but Dr. Sanity has written a post that is even more relevant to what I wanted to say, entitled The New Religious Socialists.

Dr. Sanity and I are both huge admirers of Steven Hicks, whose book Explaining Postmodernism is the clearest exposition I have ever read on the cognitive and spiritual pathologies of leftist thought. (I have previously reviewed it in a post entitled From the Lofty Kant to Lefty Cant.) The book so clearly describes the disease that incoming college students are about to expose themselves to, that all freshmen in elite universities should be required to read it. Certainly doing so would be more important than teaching them about condoms, because a venereal disease only affects the body, whereas postmodernism destroys the mind and soul. (No, I am not engaging in hyperbole.)

In my review, I concluded by stating that “The only problem with Hicks’ book is that he stops short of explaining how to overcome what I call the logopathologies of the left.... In reality, there is no defense against these destructive ideas within the bounds of common reason--as soon as you descend into mere reason, you have already given the game away, for there is almost nothing the rationalist mind can prove that it cannot equally disprove.” (By the way, this should not be seen as a criticism, just an acknowledgement of the boundaries of Hicks' project.)

Let’s examine some of the behavior and rhetoric described in Dr. Sanity’s piece. At Columbia University, left wing extremists took over the stage and shut down a talk by the founder of the Minuteman Project, Jim Gilchrist, overturning tables and chairs and attacking him and his colleagues. “Having taken control of the stage, the students, led by the student chapter of the International Socialist Organization, unfurled a banner that read, in both Arabic and English, ‘Nobody is Illegal.’” The vandals “jumped from the stage, chanting in Spanish and pumping their fists triumphantly [and yelling] ‘These are racist individuals heading a project that terrorizes immigrants on the U.S.-Mexican border... They have no right to be able to speak here.’"

Dr. Sanity does an outstanding job of diagnosing these sick individuals, who, in the final analysis, are steeped in a perverse ideology that is antithetical to everything America stands for, but simply co-opting American ideals as a way to undermine America and advance their revolutionary socialist agenda.

So that is the illness. But I would like to get into the etiology and the cure. As it so happens, I am reading a new book on the philosopher whom I believe to have identified the nature of this disease both earlier and more accurately than any other thinker before or since: Michael Polanyi. If I get into a full biography of this great man, this post will go on too long. But suffice it to say that his philosophical thinking--which especially developed between 1947 and 1975--was largely ignored by mainstream academic philosophers. In hindsight it is obvious why, because he represents intellectual Lysol to their cognitive pathogens.

More than any other strictly secular philosopher, I regard Polanyi as the cure for what fails us in the form of postmodernism. Although not in any way overtly religious, his thinking is entirely compatible with the Judeo-Christian metaphysics that fruitfully underpinned western civilization for hundreds of years before the voracious tenurmites began eating away at the foundation. Most importantly, Polanyi manages to correct the deficiencies not just in the excesses of postmodernism, but in the equally problematic results of the enlightenment rationalism that Eliot describes thus:

Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.

In his body of work, Polanyi covered a broad range of subjects in an exceptionally lucid way, including economics, political theory, philosophy of science, epistemology (how we know what we know), meaning, morality, religion, and the nature of art. Today I will restrict myself to his political theory, while perhaps tomorrow I will get into his philosophy of science, for it has some very relevant applications to the differences between the dead and dying liberal MSM and the vibrant and living blogosphere.

One of the problems with our enlightenment science is that it served to make progress appear so inevitable that “the stage was set for utopian aspirations to run their course unhindered by the very forces that in an earlier age would have moderated them--and perhaps even strangled them in their infancy. Indeed, one might well describe the twentieth century as the bloodiest period of utopian political experimentation the world has ever witnessed” (MItchell).

Why? What exactly happened? First there was the attack on tradition. While there is no question that this was a vitally important development in the initial progress of science, the problem is, it went too far in trying to rid the mind of all preconceptions or “transcendentals”--as if it were actually possible to grasp reality barehanded in a wholly unmediated and objective manner.

Ultimately this approach to knowledge failed us “by exalting what we can know and prove, while covering up with ambiguous utterances all we can know and cannot prove, even though the latter knowledge underlies, and must ultimately set its seal to, all we can prove.” It necessarily leads to “skepticism about the very things we once held most dear.” In this regard, Polanyi’s conclusion is identical to that of one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, Kurt Goedel, who proved the same thing with ironclad logic: that we know infinitely more truth than we can ever specify in an objective, linear, mechanistic way.

However, the demand for explicit proof reduces the much wider realm of what can be known to the comparatively puny realm of what can be proven, thus shrinking the magnificent cosmos down to the proportions of our senses. Ironically, this does indeed place man at the center of the cosmos--not vertical Man who has access to primordial truth, but horizontal man who is restricted to his sensory ape-eratus. The result , as described by Arthur Koestler, is a new species of “men born without umbilical cords.”

Now see what happens next, and you will have the magic formula that explains everything from the thugs at Columbia, to communist totalitarianism, to nazism, to dailykos, to our present culture war (being that I am Godwin, I am exempt from his Law). This post is starting to run long, so I will be brief.

Although the postmodernists have done their best to undermine the principles underlying western civilization, nevertheless, the memory of Christianity remains, since it is in our very blood and bones. This memory produces a “passionate urge to pursue righteousness,” even though the assumptions of postmodernism deny the very reality of objective moral truth. Once traditional morality has been shattered, in the words of Polanyi,

“moral passions are diverted into the only channels which a strictly mechanistic conception of man and society left open to them. We may describe this as a process of moral inversion. The morally inverted person has not merely performed a philosophical substitution of material purposes for moral aims; he is acting with the whole of his homeless moral passions within a purely materialistic framework of purposes.”

Thus, at the foundation of postmodern moral inversion is always the same thing: “the combination of skeptical rationalism and moral perfectionism, which is nothing more than the 'secularized fervor of Christianity.’” But whereas “moral perfectionism within a Christian context is moderated by the doctrine of original sin and deferral of perfection to the end of history, the perfectionism of a post-Christian world provides no such moderating counterbalances.”

Therefore, the dynamic of this moral inversion allows both societies and individuals “to commit appallingly immoral acts--acts which, according to the skeptic, are not really immoral, since morality is an empty category.” Leftists are therefore sanctioned to “bring about a purely immanent perfection without the hindrance of moral limitations on the means to the end.” This utopian fantasy demands the immediate and total transformation of society, which may be pursued without limit.

Now you know why the socialist thugs at Columbia may say with a straight farce, “Nobody is Illegal": because they themselves are beyond law and morality. And you also know why they can say that traditional Americans who believe in the rule of law are “racist individuals” who have “no right to be able to speak here."

A reminder: moral passion in the absence of traditional morality has murdered more people than all other unnatural causes combined.

*****

Related: The God that Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, and

The End of Commitment: Intellectuals, Revolutionaries, and Political Morality in the Twentieth Century