Monday, December 18, 2006

Political Correctness: Hammer of the Godless... and Mindless

One huge advantage our cultural and intellectual betters have over us is the ability to control or stifle debate merely by registering disdain and contempt for the targeted person or policy. This serves as a sort of shorthand that functions to replace thought, so that the actual idea need never be addressed.

Furthermore, through the magic of political correctness, an abject idiot can elevate himself above you, both intellectually and morally, and imagine that he is a superior person while exercising no effort at all. It’s almost like a secular mirror image of the fundamentalist who thinks he’s better than you merely because he accepts this or that literal dogma.

A fine case in point is the “controversy” over Dr. Dobson’s recent editorial in Time Magazine, in which he expressed the opinion that children do best if they are raised by a mother and father. What is so amazing about political correctness is that it can take something so self-evidently true as this, and make it seem as if Dobson is the extremist -- as if Dobson isn’t merely relating something that all people with common sense understand.

Now, Dobson is not my style, neither theologically nor in terms of presentation. However, I wouldn’t want to take on his or Dr. Laura’s job of being a hated figure merely for dispensing common sense to the masses. In the article, Dobson says that he has been asked to comment on the pregnancy of Mary Cheney, the Vice President’s lesbian daughter. He says that his concern “has nothing to do with politics. It is about what kind of family environment is best for the health and development of children, and, by extension, the nation at large.” Exactly. Are we not even allowed to ask this question?

Of course not! We are to ridicule and sneer at people who ask such questions. They are a priori haters and bigots whose opinions are outside the realm of decency. Because of this intellectual bullying, most people stop right there and won’t try to cross the heavily fortified boundary drawn by the left to prevent thought from encroaching. The penalty is just too harsh.

This is why we need people like Dobson, who are “inner directed” and are not intimidated by the pseudo-intellectual bullies of political correctness. Again, Dobson doesn’t say a thing in the article that isn’t a reflection of mere common sense -- things you cannot not know unless you are highly educated. He writes,

“With all due respect to Cheney and her partner... the majority of more than 30 years of social-science evidence indicates that children do best on every measure of well-being when raised by their married mother and father. That is not to say Cheney and Poe will not love their child. But love alone is not enough to guarantee healthy growth and development. The two most loving women in the world cannot provide a daddy for a little boy -- any more than the two most loving men can be complete role models for a little girl.”

Exactly. It is not a knock on my wife to say that she could never give my son what I am giving him. Nor is it androphobic for me to point out the truism that she provides him with things that are utterly beyond my capabilities. This is controversial? That a woman can make a boy, but not a man? That a boy, in order to become a man, requires “male mothering” -- that is, mentoring from a virtuous and noble man whom he can emulate?

The most controversial part of Dobson’s piece is where he ironically uses the research of a couple of politically correct academics to support his views -- which only proves that these people are not really academics, much less serious intellectuals, but merely politically correct. Dobson writes,

“The fact remains that gender matters -- perhaps nowhere more than in regard to child rearing. The unique value of fathers has been explained by Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School.... Pruett says dads are critically important simply because ‘fathers do not mother.’ Psychology Today explained in 1996 that ‘fatherhood turns out to be a complex and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children.’ A father, as a male parent, makes unique contributions to the task of parenting that a mother cannot emulate, and vice versa.”

And feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan’s research has found that “mothers tend to stress sympathy, grace and care to their children, while fathers accent justice, fairness and duty. Moms give a child a sense of hopefulness; dads provide a sense of right and wrong and its consequences. Other researchers have determined that boys are not born with an understanding of ‘maleness.’ They have to learn it, ideally from their fathers.”

Who needs “research” to know these banalities? They are self-evidently true -- that is, unless they are said by a conservative! Hilariously, Drs. Gilligan and Pruett have both fired off angry letters to Dr. Dobson, demanding that he never again use their research. Instinctively playing the victim card (one immediately wonders if he had a manly father), Pruett says he was “startled and disappointed to see my work referenced in the current Time Magazine piece in which you opined that social science, such as mine, supports your convictions opposing lesbian and gay parenthood. I write now to insist that you not quote from my research in your media campaigns, personal or corporate, without previously securing my permission.”

Nothing like an open mind! Again, this proves that these people are not serious thinkers, merely politically correct activists who will subordinate truth to their agenda, just like the people at Harvard who got Larry Summers fired for suggesting that men and women just might -- might! -- have some intrinsic genetic differences. Can you imagine if the reverse ever happened, say, some religious nut who wrote angry letters to leftists, telling them that they were not permitted to use his research in the context of saying the world was more than 6,000 years old?

These so called academics are fools. Pruett fulminates that “ it is love that binds relationships, not sex." In other words, irrespective of what common sense, research, our conscience, or thousands of years of wisdom tell us, all you need is love. I’d love to have a little chat with him if he ever has a son, in order to see if reality has any impact at all on his thinking.

The histrionic Gilligan was mortified -- mortified! -- to learn that she had been quoted in Dobson’s article. How will she ever be able to show her face again in the faculty lounge? “I am writing to ask that you cease and desist from quoting my research in the future.” After the legalistic language, she even disingenuously alludes to scripture, saying that Dobson’s reference to her work “is not in the best interest of scientific inquiry, nor does bearing false witness serve your purpose of furthering morality and strengthening the family.”

Ha! Here again, you see the naked power that underlies political correctness. There is no appeal to truth, much less debate. Just hysteria, victimization, and petulant demands.

You can see the identical mechanism at work in this denunciation of my post from last Saturday, “The Unthinkable Goodness of America,” at dailykos. Like the hysterical Gilligan and pouting Pruett, it is just mindless condemnation for believing something so offensive -- that America is a fundamentally good and decent nation. The author makes reference to my observation that,

“One of the biggest problems we face in the war on Islamo-fascism is that even the worst of us has such rudimentary decency that we cannot imagine how evil our enemies are, while our enemies -- and most of our friends -- literally cannot imagine how good the United States is.”

Pretty obvious, right? The dailykos writer sarcaustically responds that “Even David Brooks at his most outré might hesitate before offering up that pearl. This whole piece is such a gem of ruthlessly gentle eliminationism, that it deserves study. It is not often one has the chance to examine an alternate world-view of such intensity.”

Excellent. I don’t know what “eliminationism” means, but I glad to know that my piece deserves serious study. Let’s hear it!

But it was not to be. Like Gilligan and Pruett, just vacuous and content-free denunciation from the pulpit of political correctness. It turns out that no analysis is required, for my piece is a priori wrong, even delusional:

“This one is so perfect, I don't think I could stand to dilute the experience of reading it. A little alternate reality goes a long way. I'd like to believe this is a parody, but there's a little too much sincerity in the piece. Read it for yourself, and marvel at the spectacle of a human mind attempting to wrestle the world into conformity with this stark vision.”

Yes, by all means do marvel at the spectacle of a human mind attempting to wrestle the world into conformity with its dark vision. Marvel at the spectacle of how the Left replaces thought with disdain in order to allow the mediocre mind to effortlessly imagine that it is morally and intellectually superior.

I hereby demand that dailykos continue quoting from my blog and misusing my ideas in the future! I need the material.

*****

It's not a knock on Mrs. G., but who else but a father will teach him the proper way to play heir guitar?:

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cosmic Sunday Sermon: Dude, Where Are You?

A Sunday re-run, as per my attempt to cut back blogging on weekends. This one's from about eight months ago, so it may be new to newcomers anyway. Plus I added a few things here & there, as they occurred to me.

*****

So, in the Book of Genesis, after Adam devours the apple and becomes the prototype of fallen, alienated, and egoic man, he goes into hiding. First, he knows deep down that he is naked, with all that word implies. Next, he tries to hide from God among the trees. As if.

The very first thing God says to the newly naked, self-sufficient and fugitive man is, "Where are you?" Evidently Adam has entered a new psycho-spiritual space that is not even familiar to God. Why would it be, if this was his first crack at creating a being with free will? To capture the emotional tone of the situation, it is more like, "Dude -- where are you?" Remember, just a moment ago they were intimate pals who could gambol about the garden together in the cool of the day. But not now. Somebody changed.

The spirit of the primordial lie has been transferred from the serpent, to the woman, to Adam. It has already taken root, to such an extent that Adam seems incapable of telling the truth. Instead -- like most humans since -- he just uses the gift of speech to "plug holes," to paper over, and to confabulate, like a child who is caught red-handed doing something wrong.

Emotion no doubt interfering with the clarity of his diction, Adam momentarily resembles that other archetype of prideful but insecure grandiosity, Ralph Kramden: "Homena-homena-homena.... I was, ah, afraid because I was, er, naked... Yeah, that's it. Naked! Nobody wants to be seen walking around naked in public."

I remember my first big lie. I was about four or five years old, and discovered a bucket of used motor oil in the garage. Not too far away was a paint brush. It was the work of an instant to decide that it would be a good idea to slap a coat of oil on the outside of the house.

Not too long thereafter, I heard the sound of my father's car arriving home from work in the cool of the evening. "Gagboy! Where are you?"

Hiding in a tree in the back yard, of course. There are times that the best course of action is to preserve a tactful silence. It's something I still do at times.

Come to think of it, a reader recently requested that I write something about spirituality and married life. Jot that one down in your notebook -- better yet, tattoo it on the inside of your eyelids: Preserve a tactful silence. It will serve you well in perilous times. No promises, but you may well be able to avoid the old "conversation with the flying plates."

Anyway, there was something about the tone of my father's voice, don't you know. Something that said "discretion is the better part of valor," but of course I wouldn't have expressed it that way as a young gagboy. I just thought it best to make myself scarce until the whole thing blew over in a couple of years.

Upon discovering my whereabouts, my father asked me -- rhetorically, of course -- if I possessed any knowledge of the oil job on the house. Having no familiarity with the concept of "rhetorical," I responded in the negatory. "Ahh, why no. Nothing at all. Never heard of it. Good day at the office, what?"

My son is only 20 months old. Other parents have informed me that it's a bit of a jolt the first time you catch your child in a brazen lie. We can well imagine the somewhat flustered mindset of the Creator, caught off guard in this way.

***

Hieromonk Damascene asks, "How can the human ego, immersed in its own gratification, hide from the ever-present reality of God and the spirit? How else than by a constant state of distraction into sensual pleasures, thoughts, memories and fantasies?"

Thus, man's fall was at once "a fall into distraction, and that is how his consciousness started to become as compounded and fragmented as it is today." Naked and on the run, we seek ever greater props and distractions -- food, drugs, debased entertainment, meaningless sex, popularity, recognition, glory, power, group status.

But that primordial question, "Where are you?," continues to ring out from the depths of eternity. It is not heard by the ego, but by the spirit: Self calling out to self. It is experienced as an unnamed suffering. On a spiritual level, it is analogous to our ability to sense physical pain. Without any sense of pain, we'd soon injure ourselves beyond repair.

Which some people do, for it is the same way with the spirit. There are people who fall so far from the source that they no longer hear the "Where are you?" These people are either difficult to be around, or they are downright scary. The scary ones are the people who have extinguished the still small voice of vertical conscience.

You will know these folks by a mild shudder or revulsion you feel in their presence. Either that, or the hair stands up on the back of your neck (apparently, that's why it's there--sort of a personal demon detector). In truth, these are not humans, nor are they beasts. They are monsters -- big ones, like Stalin, Yasser Arafat, Hitler -- but petty ones as well, which I will refrain from naming. You know who they are.

In Orthodox Christianity, "metanoia" is the word used to describe what happens when we acknowledge the suffering that lies underneath all of the distraction and self-deception. It is translated as "repent," which means literally to humbly "turn around" and face what we have been running from -- to change the spirit, purify the eye of the soul, and realign ourselves around that from which we had been fleeing.

Now, instead of being an open system that seeks "nourishment" only from the fallen world, we turn to another source of vitality, and begin the process of becoming an open system in dynamic rapport with a nonlocal source. It is, as Paul said, to be "transformed by the renewing of your nous," for renewal can only occur in an open system, not a static one.

To embrace the lie -- any lie -- is to enter a parallel universe and a spiritually closed system, alienated from the "really real," as Gregory of Nyssa called it. A closed system is equivalent to death, as all living things are open systems in a state of dynamic equilibrium. Much depends on what you are open to. You are what you eat -- both physically and spiritually.

Mmmmm, medicine of immortality....

According to Hieromonk Damascene, "we know that our metanoia is genuine -- that is, that a Divine change has really occurred in us," when we have a spontaneous revulsion for many of the things that previously appeared "sweet" or alluring to us.

I personally have seen this gradual change in myself. No, it is not complete. But I have seen chain after chain "drop away," not necessarily big things, but just little annoyances that bind you to the ephemeral. Denied nutrients, they just start to whither and die. Every once in a while one might cry out, "Where are you?," but it is increasingly easy to ignore it. "Go away. If you must know, I'm walking around with Petey in the cool of the evening."

UPDATE--

Oh, and since we have a specific request from a reader to toss some Sri Aurobindo into the mix, here's how he describes the psycho-cosmic situation alluded to above in his poem Savitri:

A Nature that denied the eternal Truth
In the vain braggart freedom of its thought
Hoped to abolish God and reign alone.
There was no sovereign Guest, no witness Light;
Unhelped it would create its own bleak world....
It's huge misguided fancy took vast shapes,
It's mindless sentience quivered with fierce conceits....
Leaders of the cosmic ignorance and unrest
And sponsors of sorrow and mortality
Embodied the dark ideas of the Abyss.
A shadow substance into emptiness came,
Dim forms were born in unthinking Void...
Accustomed to the unnatural dark, they saw
Unreality made real and conscious Night.
A violent, fierce and formidable world,
An ancient womb of huge calamitous dreams....
It was the gate of a false Infinite,
An eternity of disastrous absolutes,
An immense negation of spiritual things....
Being collpased into a pointless void
That yet was a parent of the worlds;
Inconscience swallowing up the cosmic Mind
Produced a universe from its lethal sleep....

Maybe I will name names. Nah... let's just reflect on what we can personally do to wake from the lethal sleep that dreams this bleak world.

Fitness and unfitness are only a way of speaking; man is unfit and a misfit (so far as spiritual things are concerned) -- in his outward nature. But within there is a soul and above there is a Grace. This is all you know or need to know... --Sri Aurobindo

Paul the Apostle knew this well; and, being possessed of a very clear understanding of the matter, he wrote in his letters more plainly and with greater lucidity that there are in fact two men in every single man. He says for instance: 'For if our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day'.... Of these two men he tells us that the one, namely, the inner man, is renewed from day to day; but the other, that is, the outer, he declares to be corrupted and weakened... --Origen

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Unthinkable Goodness of America

One of the biggest problems we face in the war on Islamo-fascism is that even the worst of us has such rudimentary decency that we cannot imagine how evil our enemies are, while our enemies -- and most of our friends -- literally cannot imagine how good the Unites States is.

In an interview the other day, Donald Rumsfeld spoke of his concern that, as in the 1930’s, we are in a “gathering storm.” Just as then, we may be victimized by a failure of imagination, as decent people tend not to want to -- or be able to -- imagine how evil our enemies are. Who, in the 1930’s, could imagine that there were people so evil that they would systematically round up all the members of a particular religion and exterminate them in gas chambers? Even now, it is beyond the imagination. Yes, we know that it happened, but on another level it didn’t happen, because it’s too inconceivable. Our minds won’t go there. We cannot imagine the mentality of a person who would herd women and children like cattle into gas chambers. Being charitable, one wonders if this isn’t the cognitive “point of entry” for certain Holocaust deniers -- it’s too evil to have happened, so it didn’t happen.

I am quite sure that the same mentality applies to Hamas, or Fatah, or Hezb'Allah, who are every bit as evil as the Nazis. They are so evil, that many people just don’t see it. Or they make excuses for it, and imagine that there is something that can justify their twisted theology. Many particularly morally loathsome individuals on the left, such as Jimmy Carter, actually sympathize with them.

Grotesquely, the same people who cannot imagine how evil our enemies are, fantasize that people on our side -- decent and selfless public servants such as Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney -- are in fact evil. How often does one hear the scurrilous charge that Vice President Cheney’s motives are entirely pecuniary, and that he just wants to enrich his friends at Haliburton or in the oil industry? If he is motivated by greed, how bizarre that he would step down as an executive at Haliburton -- where I am sure he received a seven figure income -- in order become vice president, for which he receives what, $150,000 a year? When you actually stop to analyze the simplistic but overpowering fantasies of the left, they are so silly that one can only marvel at the very real traction they have in their minds.

In the recent interview with Rumsfeld, he spoke of meeting with the Sultan of Oman shortly after September 11. The Sultan said that perhaps “this terrible thing that’s happened might be a blessing in disguise. It may be the thing that will wake up the world to the danger these extremists pose, before those people get their hands on chemical or biological or nuclear weapons where they could kill many multiples of what they were able to kill on September 11.”

I have treated many cases of psychological trauma, and one thing that is common to all of them is that the traumatized individual is, to a certain extent, not out of touch with reality, but more in contact with it. In other words, in order to get through life, we all routinely engage in denial. No one who gets behind the wheel of their car thinks of the 40 or 50,000 Americans per year who die in auto accidents, or that, barring illness, this is perhaps the most likely way they will die.

But a traumatic event temporarily breaks through our denial, so that the traumatized individual -- usually temporarily -- feels an extremely heightened sense of danger about the world. Not only do they imagine their own demise, but the fear extends to family members, as they constantly brood about how dangerous the world is for their children and loved ones. Which it is. But you just can’t think about it, or you wouldn’t be able to function. So you eventually go back into denial -- back to "normality."

My sister-in-law died four years ago this month at the age of 39, due to a freaking infection. No, not a burst appendix, or pneumonia, or HIV, but a simple staph infection. Our bodies are covered with this bacteria, and occasionally -- completely randomly, as far as anyone knows -- the bacteria will enter the blood stream through so banal a mechanism as a scratch or a hangnail. That’s what happened to my sister-in-law. Despite the finest medical care the world has to offer in Manhattan, she was gone in 16 days, leaving behind her son on his second birthday. I try not to dwell on this nightmare -- my denial has been shored up again -- but as you might imagine, I can never see a scratch in quite the same way. Nor am I looking forward to my son’s second birthday, when I will not be able to help myself from thinking the unthinkable, “what if today I were snatched from his life, at this very moment?”

Anyway, after a trauma, most people reconstitute and get their denial back. I am quite sure that this is what happened collectively within weeks of September 11. As Rumsfeld says, the threat “diminished in their minds, whereas it not only has not diminished in reality -- it has grown because of the advances in technologies. Look at the Johns Hopkins exercise with smallpox called Dark Winter. It was put in three airports in America. Something between 800,000 and 1 million people ‘died’ in some number of months, or a year, from a disease people are no longer vaccinated against."

Rumsfeld is obviously correct that the Bush administration has been a victim of it’s success. In the unimaginative mind of the moonbat, they can only think of our 3,000 men and women who have died in Iraq, but cannot imagine how many Americans will not die if we succeed in Iraq. They cannot imagine it in part because no one can imagine it. If the British had lost 3,000 men in the course of successfully toppling Hitler in 1938, I can guarantee you that no leftist historian would have said, “thank God, we just avoided 60 million deaths!” No, like today’s barking moonbats, they would have only focussed on the “needless” deaths of the 3,000.

So Rumsfeld and the entire Bush administration are also being punished because of their refusal to go back into “denial mode.” Obviously, talk of the threat makes people uncomfortable, as they would prefer to imagine that we live in a safe world governed by reasonable agents. Rumsfeld is absolutely correct that “there’s a tendency for a lot of people to be dismissive of [the threat] and to ridicule it. Churchill’s phrase about the gathering storm -- there was a storm gathering, but there were people in Europe who didn’t believe it and who didn’t take the periodic storm clouds and the squalls as a real threat. They thought they were transitory and, of course, paid an enormous penalty in treasure and life for their failure to understand the nature of that threat. I worry we are in a gathering storm and we do not, as a society, accept it. Many of the elites of our society, the key opinion leaders, are unwilling or unable to accept what an awful lot of people believe to be the case. The penalty for being wrong can be enormous.”

Again, they do not see it because they cannot imagine how evil our enemies are. I was thinking about my son playing at the park with the other children. There are millions of people all over the world who would enjoy nothing more than to put a bullet in his head -- to mow the children down with a machine gun or suicide bomb, just because they are Jewish or “infidels.”

The idea that started this post occurred to me last night. My wife and I were talking about our son’s temperament. He seems very bright, but all parents no doubt think that of their children. I haven’t been around too many babies, but he also seems to have a highly developed sense of humor. But perhaps even more than that, he seems unusually daring and brave -- even a bit of a thrill seeker. My wife was speculating that perhaps he could channel this daring into something truly great -- like being an army ranger or navy seal.

That’s when the irony dawned on me. My son putting his life on the line to try to help a part of the world where many of the inhabitants would kill him in his cradle if they could, so that some day they might have the type of society that produces decent people who don't want to exterminate Jews and other infidels -- who just want to raise their children in peace.

But let’s be honest. In your wildest dreams, can you imagine ever creating another country on earth -- let alone a Muslim country -- so decent that its citizens would be willing to die for your freedom?

America is a victim of its unimaginable goodness.

*****

Speaking of daring thrill-seekers, here's another photo of Ben. Yes, his innocent mug looks benign enough, but....

.... here he is ferociously attacking a man's foot with just his bare face!

Friday, December 15, 2006

This is Your Cosmos Speaking: Are You Listening? (12.06.08)

Eternity drew close disguised as Love
And laid its hand upon the body of Time
-- Sri Aurobindo

Balthasar observes that “the method of each science is the correct one when that science allows itself to be determined and molded by its object.” Our “point of departure” in knowing anything about anything must be “to accept the given as it gives itself, and to allow it its existence as such, in its own truth, goodness and beauty...”

Different aspects of reality “give themselves” in different ways. This is why materialistic science is so easy compared with psychology and theology. In fact, because promiscuous objects give it up so easily, many modern thinkers seize this low-hanging fruit and simply ignore the more problematic domains of psyche and spirit -- even though one of the ways spirit gives of itself is in our inclination and capacity to know the truth and beauty that inheres in objects.

Now, I’m not saying I succeeded, but my book was an attempt to allow the entire cosmos to “speak its truth” to one of its members. That would be me. How does the cosmos speak? What is its language?

As far as I can tell, the cosmos speaks -- or reveals itself -- in four principle languages: matter, life, mind, and spirit. These different aspects are not so much “messages” from the cosmos as the direct imparting of reality itself. Each of them impresses itself upon us in a different manner, and it is important not to confuse the epistemological methods appropriate to each mode of cosmic expression.

Each of these domains has an objective and a subjective mode. For example, matter expresses itself objectively through the abstract equations of subatomic physics. But it also radiates subjective messages through its metaphysically transparent beauty. For example, take a look at some of these outstanding works by the Old Master Painter (HT Assistant Village Idiot), and you will understand the phrase “metaphysical transparency.” Are you able to receive and assimilate the gratuitously truthful beauty of these images as it is given to you?

“Fully to understand beauty... is to pass beyond the appearance and to follow the internal vibration back to its roots; the aesthetic experience, when it is directed aright, has its source in symbolism and not in idolatry.... Perceived beauty is not only the messenger of a celestial and divine archetype, it is also, for that very reason, the outward projection of a universal quality immanent in us, and quite obviously more real than our empirical and imperfect ego gropingly seeking its identity.... Beauty stems from the Divine Love, this Love being the will to deploy itself and to give itself, to realize itself in ‘another’; thus it is that ‘God created the world by love’” (Schuon).

He traversed scenes of an immortal joy
And gazed into abysms of beauty and bliss
Below him lay like gleaming jeweled thoughts
Across the vibrant secrecies of Space
--Sri Aurobindo

The cosmos also speaks in a language called “life.” Here again, life reveals itself both objectively and subjectively. Objectively it reveals itself through the intricate language of DNA. But it also reveals itself more forcefully and directly in a way that vastly exceeds our ability to grasp it. In fact, this is one of the problems that arises as we move up the chain of being, for these realities are like “an inexhaustible light that can never be drunk up” (Balthasar). “This ‘more’... cannot be grasped, although at the same time I must say that it truly does give itself to me and does not withdraw from me.”

If life could speak, what would it say? Forget science. For all language -- let alone the language of DNA -- is ultimately none other than the Voice of Life, no matter how you high or lo go. What poet has ever been able to exhaust the dynamic radiance of life as it reveals its miraculous splendor to us? Could we ever “possess” or contain life, or can we only be witnesses to its fulsome and flowing mystery? Can life ever be shorn of this mystery and captured in any manmade system? Can it ever be reduced to a static genome subjugated by reason?

Er, no. Life is nothing if it is not a continuous rebellion against the heavy and burdensome weight of material existence, a "venturesome leap of spirit into space" (Sri Aurobindo) joyfully met by lonely matter "calling out for love at crying time" (Sri Crenshaw).

There is something about man that draws away from life and tries to contain it -- to drain it of its “holy and manifest mystery”: “We have reached a situation in which nothing ‘gives’ itself any longer or ‘opens up’ to us from within, a situation in which nothing ‘hands itself over’ on its own initiative, and in which, therefore, thought is no longer devoted to the deepening interior source of a thing; in such a situation no opening of horizons... remains possible” (Balthasar).

Knowledge of any kind is only possible because Being, in its generosity, manifests its truth in advance of our even being here. No self-enclosed, post hoc mental system of man can ever be true philosophy, much less theology. To “think” in the Gagdad way is to be be a lover of Sophia -- which is to live at the eternal horizon of our being, where life pours forth from its hidden vertical source. This is true philosophy, a “love-filled longing that propels man man down his questing path...” Oooh-Eeee baby what you do to me!, as one rockabilly cat put it to me over a cold one last evening.

Desire her greatly and she will preserve you; encompass her, and she will exalt you; honor her, that she may embrace you. -- Prov 4:6-8

Speaking of which, how do we conform ourselves to -- or comprehend -- the object called “man,” when man is the subject who conforms himself to the truth that precedes him?

Man is the ultimate symbol of the cosmos. The literal meaning of symbol is to "throw together" or across, as if to join together two disparate things. What does the symbol man symbolize? He is, as Josef Pieper writes, “at the core, someone becoming... not simply made as this or that, not a purely static entity but an unfolding being, a dynamic reality -- just as the cosmos is in its totality."

Only man -- and the cosmos coursing through him -- is a becoming of what he is through time, a journey from what “we are not yet to what we already are,” from the potential of the mirror to the fulfillment of the image. We have a word for man, but we must never forget that man is not man in the way that matter is matter, for only man has the task and vocation of becoming what he is.

Perhaps this is the greatest divide between secular materialists and religious idealists, for the latter regard man’s life as an irreducible ought grounded in transcendence, instead of a mere is rooted in dead matter. Man is the only thing that ought, which immediately takes him out of the realm of both is and of mere things. For to do as you ought is to both transcend and to find yourself.

But what ought we do or be or know or become?

Spirituality is the science of what we already are. And what we are is an arrow shot from the stream of time into the heart of eternity. Or is it the reverse?

It is both. For “man is true to himself only when he is stretching forth -- in hope -- toward a fulfillment that cannot be reached in his bodily existence” (Pieper).

The universe is an order that is so to speak architectural, deployed from the Supreme Principle by way of intermediaries, or of hierarchies of intermediaries, down to earthly creatures....

The Universal Spirit is the divine Intelligence incarnate in Existence; it is like the reflection of the divine Sun in the cosmic Substance: God projects Himself, so to speak, into that “void” or “nothingness” which is the plane of the creature.... This Spirit is thus the divine Intellect immanent in the Cosmos, of which It constitutes the center and the heart; It penetrates as by innumerable arteries of light into all realms -- or into all microcosms -- of the manifested Universe; it is thus that God is present at the center of everything.
--F. Schuon

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm Rubber and You're Sniffing Glue!

As far as I can see, Bob has the compassion of a rabid pit bull. If he were really in touch with Truth (capital T kind of truth), he'd be a lot less angry, condescending, and bitter. His philosophy, as near as I can tell, is conservative dogma. He claims classical liberalism, but what I see is exclusionary thinking, hatred, and jingoism. Not what I'm looking for in a thinker, and certainly not integral in any way.

Peace,
B---


Fascinating, isn’t it, how “I disagree with you and it makes me angry” is unconsciously converted to “you are an angry, bitter, hateful, dogmatic, jingoistic, exclusionary, and rabid PIT BULL!” But at least it was said in peace.

Talk about peacive aggressive.

I don’t want to focus on the content but the process involved in this kind of pseudo-thinking, because it obviously fills our political space. Yesterday Mikez noted that “I have to wonder why so many on the Left confuse disdain with hatred,” and asked, “Is it because there's no middle ground? Can't I dislike you, just a little, without hating you?” Exactly. Isn't there something in between "I think you might be wrong about this or that" and "you've got a rabid dogma!"

I responded that “since leftism is felt and not thought, leftists attach ‘motives’ to issues. In other words, they convert thoughts of mine that make them feel bad into malevolent feelings that they imagine I am having. That way, they can dismiss my positions due to my fantasized malevolence. They do it with all conservatives. Assigning a color to ideas that frighten you is much easier than thinking.”

In Bion’s formulation, he regarded affect, or emotion, as a connecting “link” between two objects. “Object” is a psychoanalytic term of art; an object is actually a subject. The three primary links were Love, Hate, and Knowledge, or L, F, and K (each of these also has a "minus" version as well, which we won't go into here).

When two subjects come together, an ambiguous space arises between them. Humans don’t like ambiguity, so they fill the space with what they already know. Everyone does this to a certain extent. In more extreme cases, the individual will forcefully evacuate the content of their mind into this space, which is known as projection. You can always tell when someone is projecting into you, because it is as if you are being asked to play a role in someone else’s private drama. Another name for this is PMS.

Now, the above individual believes that there is a K-link between him and me. In other words, he innocently believes that he “knows” me and is simply publicizing that knowledge. He does not know that there is an ambiguous space between us and that, in his anxiety, he has filled the void with primitive affect: bitterness, anger, hatred, cruelty, rabid dogs. Where did these affects and animals come from? They’re all real, in the sense that they represent a psychic reality. But what is their source? Are they really emanating from me? Or from him?

Obviously, in reality, not only does this person not know me, he doesn't even want to. That is, as Bion used to say, the answer is the disease that kills curiosity. In order to gain genuine knowledge of anyone or anything, one must first be curious. But for a variety of reasons, people do not want to be curious about certain things, because opening up in this manner can be confused with being passive and being forcefully attacked. So they head off the attack by shutting down their curiosity and attacking the threatening object. (I well remember this process in myself prior to my political conversion. It delayed my political maturity for a number of years.)

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is in large part the study of the space or field between two subjects, namely, patient and therapist. Bion called this space O. All sorts of things will enter this space, and both therapist and patient will be tempted to foreclose it with what they already know. Both may want to reduce O to a more conventional social relationship in order to make the ambiguity go away. Instead, it must be tolerated and studied. But most of all you must remain curious and open about what is provoked and arises in this space.

For example, if, say, a patient reports to me that he is experiencing me in that moment as bitter, angry, withholding, whatever -- I wouldn’t just deny his experience, because the experience is real. We would take note of it, but then we would want to investigate it a little more deeply. In other words, we would take the H-link and subject it to K. I wonder why you feel that way? When did it start? What exactly was it that I said? Does this remind you of anyone? How does if make you feel to feel this way? What do you imagine I am thinking? Might I retaliate? Etc. Again, it all comes down to a study of the space that arises between two individuals.

In a series of recent posts, I have been affirming what I believe about politics and its relationship to spirituality. While I don't intend to give offense, there is apparently no way to say what I want to say without being offensive to people who have a need to be offended. Here again, all we can really say is that there is a space between me and certain readers. Within that space is “offense,” but we need to understand where it’s coming from. Because just as being offensive can cause one to be offended, being offended can cause the other to be offensive (in the mind of the offended person, not in reality).

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

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

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

I am very careful not to be seduced into this egoic game of perpetual outrage. I think most people who call themselves “political junkies” are of this type. For the same reason one enjoys rooting for one’s favorite team and vilifying the other team, one can enjoy political combat. But there's very little K involved. Let alone

Peace!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

America's Founding Avatars: Back to the Future (with updates from mankind's progressive past)

To review: in the perspective of Integral Politics, the first variable to be considered is whether the internal or the external are to be emphasized. People on the Left look to the external world as the source of their difficultues, so all of their solutions and policies reflect this victim mindset. Those on the Right are “internalists” who regard the source of suffering as primarily coming from within. As such, their policies will reflect this stance - -self-reliance, self-improvement, the cultivation of virtue, etc.

The second variable to be considered in Integral Politics “involves the levels themselves: what general level of development is the political party or movement coming from, emphasizing, or acting from?”

The question I have is whether any of any of this integral theorizing of about human nature and the role of the state is in any way superior to what America’s founders already worked out some 225 years ago. I cannot see any advantage whatsoever. In my view, the founders combined timeless truths about human nature with a deep understanding of the dynamics of progress, both material and spiritual, collective and individual. Clearly, they regarded the individual as sacrosanct, and I do not regard any form of leftist collectivism as developmentally “higher” than classical liberalism. More often than not, it is a regressive move backward, dictated by the desire for maternal comfort and security. Occasionally they are on the right side of history --e.g., the civil rights movement -- but not because of any respect for indvidual interiors. In fact, for the past 40 years the left has been the regressive defender of racial discrimination and ethnic and gender spoils.

Perhaps one of the differences between the integral movement and the American experiment is that the former seems to be steeped in Buddhist metaphysics, while the American founders could only have come from a Judeo-Christian perspective that regards the interior and exterior as equally real and valuable. America’s founders, although liberal -- again, classically liberal -- were in no way analogous to modern day “flatland” secular liberals who deny interiors, blame society for their problems, and need a large federal government to help them get through life.

As John Adams wrote, “I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.” In other words, at its core, America is all about the possibility of interior evolution. This has been its very purpose from the start. Leftists have perverted that purpose and taken America further away from its founding ideals and principles. Should they ever prevail, they would eliminate the very idea of America, that “last best hope of earth.”

As I have mentioned before, human beings have a horizontal aspect that develops and changes through time, and is largely conditioned by the environment. However, they also have a vertical nature which it is the purpose of life to actualize or “realize” in the horizontal. You might say that we have a genetic blueprint (the horizontal) and a divine blueprint (the vertical). This is a distinction of which the founders were fully aware. For example, Alexander Hamilton wrote that “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.” Does this vertical awareness sound anything like a contemporary leftist liberal? Hardly. One cannot imagine Howard Dean making such a statement, while George Bush has made any number of statements that parallel the words of Hamilton.

From the start, America’s founders believed they had forged a new compact with God, in exactly the same way the ancient Hebrews had. They were fully conscious of being chosen for a divine evolutionary mission. In his second inaugural address, Jefferson pleaded for the assistance of “that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them” in this new world. This goes completely against modern secular myths that suggest that America was somehow set up to protect us from religion -- from the great interior.

One scholar undertook the task of counting the citations found among the writings of the founders. Of 3,154 references, nearly 1,100 of them -- 34 percent -- are to the Bible. Nothing else comes close.

Like the ancient Jews, America's founders regarded time as linear and progressive, not cyclical. But the operative word is progressive. They did not, like the modern progressive, regard time as linear and going nowhere except toward increasing materialism and collectivism. Rather, as Michael Novak writes, the founders “believed history had a beginning and was guided by Providence for a purpose.... Time was created for the unfolding of human liberty, for human emancipation.” Again, the purposes of time and history were not merely for exterior emancipation but, more importantly, interior emancipation. Or, one might say that the purpose of exterior liberty was for the purpose of interior, vertical development, so that history becomes “a record of progress (or decline), measured by permanent standards, God’s standards...” (Novak).

As Novak notes, “Without this metaphysical background, the founding generation of Americans would have had little heart for the War of Independence. They would have had no ground for believing that their seemingly unlawful rebellion actually fulfilled the will of God -- and suited the laws of nature and nature’s God.” But the founders, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, specifically appealed “to the Supreme Judge of the world for the Rectitude of our Intentions.”

Modern secular liberals often cite the words of Jefferson or Franklin to support their erroneous ideas about the founding of America, but, as Novak writes, “the greatest of all American historians, Gordon Wood.... has not found a single atheist during the Founding period (not even Tom Paine), and certainly not among the Founders. Second, he finds even the least religious of the Founders considerably more religious than the average professor at American universities today. Ours is a far, far more secular age, our leaders and our people are far more ignorant of religious ideas. Third, he finds that Jefferson -- the Founder most attended to today -- was an outlier among the Founders.”

In that same article, Novak cites a letter written by Benjamin Franklin, who, like Jefferson, was one of the least orthodox of the founders. And yet, he wrote that “I believe in one God, creator of the universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshiped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental principles of all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.”

Even Thomas Paine -- whom many mistakenly regard as an atheist -- “was so hostile to atheism that he sailed to France after 1789 to fight against it, holding it responsible for the bloody massacres of the Terror.” This hostility to atheism “was nearly universal in America, on the ground that where there is no omniscient Judge, political power knows no moral check.” Atheism is the exterior philosophy par excellence, completely denying even the possibility of interior evolution.

The founders categorically rejected atheism because it violated all common sense -- and America’s founders were nothing if not common-sensical. As Washington wrote, “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.” Moreover, as Novak writes, the founders were aware that “a free society demands a higher level of virtue than a tyranny, which no other moral energy has heretofore proven capable of inspiring except Judaism and Christianity.” Novak retraces the simple logic of the founders:

Liberty is the object of the Republic.
Liberty needs virtue.
Virtue among the people is impossible without religion.


Again, I do not see “progressives” as having progressed beyond Washington’s understanding. Since what Washington said is eternally true, one can only deviate from it and move backward, which secular and atheistic ideologies have proved time and again. Keep in mind that dreadful figure -- 200 million souls murdered in the 20th century due to atheistic and anti-Christian ideologies.

Yes, things have not turned out as we might have hoped in Iraq. But the “progressive” left sees our mission there as an entirely ignoble, fundamentally evil enterprise motivated by purely venal interests. They see this because, in their flatland view of the world, this is all they can see. Instead of seeing in George Bush an idealist with flawed execution, they see a greedy and self-interested religious fascist. For the left there is no vertical.

It’s not easy to bring the vertical world of liberty to a resistant hellhole such as the Muslim Middle East. Tocqueville wrote that “Fixed ideas about God and human nature are indispensable to men for the conduct of daily life,” even if these fixed ideals are difficult for most men to reach. But eliminate them, and you descend to the horizontal wasteland of the contemporary leftist liberal. “Democracy,” wrote Tocqueville, “favors the taste for physical pleasures,” i.e., the exterior and the horizontal. But “this taste, if it becomes excessive, soon disposes men to believe that nothing but matter exists.” Thus, the downward pull of secular “progressivism” must be actively countered by each generation anew.

*Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from Michael Novak’s On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at America’s Founding

*****

UPDATE

The reviews are in from our enlightened green spiritual superiors at an "Integral" website. As you know, the political correctness that suffocates the left is even more pervasive among the hordes of new age moonbats. I must post on why that should be so. In any event, I think I can confidently predict that my days as a new age guru are OVER. Deepak's job is secure in his interior compound. Wayne Dyer can sleep soundly on his vertical pile of moolah:

"I was surprised to see an interview with Robert Godwin in the current issue of What Is Enlightenment?... The interview didn't get too much into politics, so many readers of WIE? will stop by One Cosmos and be blown away by his hatred of all things liberal." [He means leftist, of course.]

"I was really quite surprised to see him in the pages of WIE? I could say a lot of harsh things about him, as I have in the past, but lets leave it at that. I don't see much value in presenting his views in a magazine about enlightenment. Enlightened he is not."

"I think the said Bob is appallingly ignorant even more so when he writes a book titled One Cosmos. His rantings on OneCosmos have no relation whatsoever to the many themes promoted by WIE magazine. None. He is totally embedded in flatland and a full on apologist for the dominant descender/dominator meme.He certainly isnt enlightened nor is there any trace whatsoever of a Heart awakened intelligence in his work. He uses Reagan,Steyn,Novack et al in support of his arguments. Novack & Steyn would be appalled at most of the contents of WIE magazine---an exercise in confused "relativism". They are also both full on apologists for the Pentagon/Capatalist death machine which is grinding everything to rubble. Both humankind and the planetary ecosystems that support life" (sic).

"Gaddag doesn't know Wilber at all. Who could know Wilber and write such drivel? I could cite a dozen incoherencies in the same blog post. AND YET ... it's a useful post because it shows that Wilber's communication style obviously isn't helping him to reach folks like Dagbad."

Let it be said that I am humbled to be mentioned in the same breath as Mark Steyn.... Let it also be said that in the unlikely event that something happens to my brain, whereby my writing somehow becomes popular among these types, any one of you has my permission (assuming Dupree is indisposed) to TOBASH me (Take Out Back And Shoot in Head -- it's a sacred service Cosmic Raccoons perform for one another.)

*****

Hey, it's our very own dashing cosmonautical navalgeezer, BEN:


"This pic was taken a year later aboard my second ship, the USS Duluth (LPD-6). Here I am in my dungarees, by the 02 weather deck railing."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Just One Thing I'd Like to Know, How You Stay High, and Live So Low*

As we continue our meditation on Ken Wilber’s Integral Politics, I would like to emphasize that I am simply seeking clarity and not agreement. This is something Dennis Prager always says, because in most debates you’re not really going to have any impact on the other side anyway. It's much easier to simply express one’s view as clearly as possible, and see how they stack up against the alternative. Then let the folks decide. So the last thing I want to do is get into a food-fight with Wilber's disciples, who, after all, outnumber me by about a million to one. I don't want Al Gore getting pissed off and taking away my internet privileges.

As a preface, I’ve been saying for the last year that we are in a great global struggle between three major ideologies, only one of which will emerge victorious, 1) radical Islam, 2) European style leftist socialism, and 3) American style classical liberalism. In the opinion of many observers such as Mark Steyn, Western Europe has already lost due to the dysfunctional nature of its socialist paradigm, which produces a spiritually bereft, warped version of mankind that can not even rise to defend itself.

Just yesterday, for example, I heard that England announced that it will no longer employ the term “war on terror” for fear of insulting Muslims! Can you even imagine the absurdity of such a thing in World War II? “We can’t call it a war on nazism, because Germans might be offended.” This is a fine example of how the auto-castrated EUnuchs will simply lie down and show their throats to the Islamo-fascists. More worrisome is the fact that approximately fifty percent of the U.S. is more European than American, and in that fragile balance hangs the future of the world. If the left prevails and we go the way of Europe, then we are headed for a caliphate worse than death.

If Wilber’s paradigm were to ever become a massive movement, then I suppose we would have to add a fourth ideology to the other three. But since “greens” are at the top of the heap in his model, it would seem that, in the final analysis, we are simply dealing with another version of leftism -- even the “elites” of the left. In fact, this is exactly what the character Charles tells us in the book:

“[I]f liberalism stated its own stance more accurately, it would say that liberalism is an elite developmental stance, often reached by a relative minority of people, but whose values insist on treating not just that elite but everybody equally -- an unheard of fairness and generosity. It is an egalitarianism held by an elite. But the typical liberal, not understanding both of those clauses, often arrives at the disaster of a conclusion that it is an egalitarianism held by everybody, or easily could be. Whereas, at this time in history, very few people share that value, and it’s losing ground, by the way -- more about that later.”

Let’s break down this paragraph. First, liberalism (by which he means leftism, not classical liberalism) is an “elite developmental stance.”

....

.........

..................

Sorry about that. I was temporarily stunned. I don’t quite know the best way to respond to this. Since Charles is talking about psycho-spiritual development, let’s get very personal. If what Charles is saying is true, then a place like dailykos, the biggest left-wing website, should be a beacon of psychological maturity that towers above the rest of us. They should be so wise over there, that we can barely even understand them. They should be so spiritually lofty, that a blinding noetic light should shine from the computer screen when you enter the site. They should be so articulate that they don’t have to use profanity with every other word....

I guess this explains why Al Sharpton is so much more classy than Bill Buckley, or why Ted Kennedy walking around Hyannisport with his pants off is like one of those naked wandering sadhus of India....

Charles continues: “I guess I’d summarize this by saying that liberalism is an elitism that is open to everybody, but to actually get there and share liberal worldcentric values requires interior hierarchical development from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric.”

And I guess this means that a worldcentric psychopath like, say, Kofi Annan, is morally and spiritually superior to an amber degenerate such as myself who believes that the United States is infinitely more decent than the U.N., and that it has a special divine mission in the world because of its obvious moral superiority.

The irony is that, deep down, the world realizes this. If there is real trouble in the world, who does the world turn to? China? Russia? France? Germany? No, of course not. There are only two parts of Europe: the part whose ass we kicked; and the part whose ass we saved. Repeatedly. The “world community” has never accomplished any good in the world. The world community is amoral at best. It doesn’t care a fig about Israel’s existence being threatened by Muslim barbarians for the past 58 years. It welcomes it. It doesn’t care about Tibet, nor will it care when Taiwan is eventually swallowed up by the Chinese hordes.

Annan gave his farewell speech at, of all places, the Truman Library yesterday. Claudia Rosett at NRO notes that he squandered “yet another opportunity to apologize for his failures and come clean about the U.N. Instead, he used the occasion to exalt the U.N., especially his own role there, while berating the Bush administration and insulting the people of the United States.” Among other idiocies, he said that “Americans, like the rest of humanity, need a functioning global system through which the world’s peoples can face global challenges together. And in order to function, the system still cries out for far-sighted American leadership, in the Truman tradition.”

Is Annan suggesting that we nuke Mecca and Teheran? Hmmm....

Rosett has penned what might have been a more appropriate speech for this worldcentric elite egalitarian green kleptocrat and tyrant coddler:

“During my decade as secretary-general.... I have shuffled paperwork while ignoring genocides, I have rushed to shake hands with tyrants while deriding democrats.... I have praised a ‘reformed’ Human Rights Council that functions as a complete farce. I have demanded ‘peace’ deals and pushed for a brand of morally blind diplomacy that has paved the way for a terrorist takeover of Lebanon, worsening turmoil in the Middle East, and a nuclear-armed Iran.... At the same time... I have shirked all responsibility for my own failures, shifting blame especially to the United States.”

Back to Integral Politics. At the press conference, the character Charles actually does a decent job of nailing the spiritual pathology of the left, noting that “Instead of pioneering a new wave of interior talk -- higher values talk, higher spiritual talk, higher character talk, higher meaning talk -- it talks only of tepid egalitarianism, a supposed plurality of equal values, tractionless multiculturalism, and an endless yada yada yada of whateverland.... Whereupon every interior, no matter how vulgar and narcissistic and self-serving, is accorded not just equal respect but equal value, period -- and the regressive nightmare is about to begin.”

Exactly. Why then elevate these vulgar and regressive nightmarians of whateverland to such a lofty place in the developmental color scheme? Where’s the upside of this dubious ideology?

Charles then lays out a bit of historical background: “By the 1960s, a new level of consciousness started emerging in the culture at large, and the Revolution of the ’60s began. If you were young and progressive, you were no longer orange, you were green.... A new wave of revolutionaries swept through the streets of Paris, France, in May, 1968, and they were carrying the banner of green, not the banner of orange.”

Is it true that a new level of consciousness emerged in the 1960’s? If so, I see no evidence at all that it was a “higher” level. Rather, as a psychoanalytically informed psychologist, it seems self-evident to me that what actually occurred was a previously unforeseen level of character pathology, specifically, narcissism. ShrinkWrapped has written eloquently of this on a number of occasions, and if I could find the exact link, I would provide it. But in hindsight, I think it’s uncontroversial to say that most of what passed for “progressivism” was merely a mask for unalloyed narcissism, cowardice, historical myopia, self-indulgence, ingratitude, hedonism, pseudo-spirituality, knee-jerk antiauthoritarianism, and an understandable desire to extend adolescence for as long as possible.

We will all be dealing with the damage inflicted during that deeply shallow decade for the rest of our lives. Had it not been for Ronald Reagan, who temporarily put a halt to the skid in the 1980’s, who knows where we’d be today? Here again, the primitive amber man saved us from the economic and spiritual depredations of his spiritual betters, those egalitarian greens. For if Reagan had not been elected, who knows if Milton Friedman’s classical liberal economic ideas would have been put into action?

At the time, the world was entrenched in the “fantasy economics” of the socialist left. By the the mid-1970s, a “combination of inflation and unemployment -- dubbed ‘stagflation’ -- spread throughout the industrial world.... An American ‘misery index’ of 21 percent and Britain’s similar ‘winter of discontent’ ensured that they were replaced by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Both were admirers and friends of Friedman. And these two leaders embarked on economic policies, broadly inspired by his theories, that have given their countries a quarter century of fast economic growth interrupted only by two short and shallow recessions in the U.S. and one deeper recession in the U.K.” (National Review 12-18-06).

But leftism, because it is a product of fantasy, is a beast that you cannot kill. Just as in the 1960’s, it seems that affluence actually only creates more of them. Why? Perhaps because it simply allows more people than ever before to indulge their narcissistic pathology. Just don’t confuse it with something higher.

*Lyric from Morning, Noon and Night, by the great Big Joe Turner, whose wise and witty musical observations often give the One Cosmos slackatoreum a festive atmosphere.

Woke up this mornin' 'bout a-half past four,
Beer cans and bottles all over the floor
Jes' a-one thing I'd like to know,
How you stay high, and live so low

Monday, December 11, 2006

Let's Hear it for Dead Amber Males

I’m just going to try to get as far as I can this morning, knowing full well that the baby is about to go off like a bomb....

Back to the discussion of Ken Wilber’s Integral Politics that we started last Friday. Again, I’ll just provide my spontaneous thoughts and reflections. A character named Charles is at a press conference, outlining the theory. He says,

“Let’s begin our story by noticing that in this country, mainstream Republicans or conservatives have very strong amber/traditional values. Hence, when they say that ‘character counts,’ or that they want to ‘instill values in people,’ or that they are ‘the party of values,’ they almost always mean amber values only, traditional values, ethnocentric values: nationalism, family values, militarism, patriotism, patriarchalism, good ole Biblical injunctions and command morality. They do not mean green values, red values, teal values, turquoise values, etc.”

Here’s where things start to make no sense for me. First, the usefulness of the whole color-coding paradigm escapes me. Secondly, I know of no conservative who values nationalism, or patriotism, or militarism for their own sake. Usually it is because of an awareness that the United States is by far the greatest and most decent nation that has ever existed. In other words, to feel patriotic or nationalistic about the United States is simply based on objective reality. It’s not the same as feeling patriotic about some crappy little country like France, where shame would be the more appropriate emotion.

Wilber seems to conflate patriotism and nationalism with bad patriotism and nationalism, as if they aren’t worlds apart. Iranian nationalism: bad. Palestinian nationalism: bad. Nazi nationalism: bad. If I were a citizen of those places, assuming I wasn’t completely brainwashed, I would hardly be patriotic. Again, this would be an objective assessment of the situation. Those are bad and evil governments that do bad and evil things on purpose.

One of the reasons these color schemes hold no appeal for me is because my primary values are truth and decency. The latter follows from the former, because evil on a widespread scale is usually only possible if it is rooted in massive lies. Nazis murdered Jews because they believed lies about them, just as Islamists want to kill Americans because they believe lies about us. If people simply believe the truth and behave decently, everything else will pretty much take care of itself.

You might argue that everyone is patriotic, so that American patriotism is no different than, say, Mexican or Canadian patriotism. In other words, we have a second rate country to the north of us and a third rate country to the south, and the majority of their citizens are probably just as patriotic as Americans. But this isn’t true. Not everyone is hypnotized by bad patriotism. My father, for example, had the good sense to get the hell out of England and make his way to America just as soon as he was old enough to do so in 1948. He was not blinded by sentimental patriotism for England. He knew this was a much better place. He wanted to live in the greatest country on earth, for which I am eternally grateful.

LIkewise to say that conservatives simply value “militarism” outside a moral framework is seriously misleading. Yes, I would like America to have the most powerful military in the world, for the simple reason that I want the most moral and decent nation to be the most powerful. It’s the same reason why I want the police to be more powerful than the criminals. To suggest that I am merely “pro-violence” would be another serious distortion. I am pro moral violence and anti immoral violence, a distinction that is often lost on the left. Yes, I want to kill bad people before they murder more good people.

Wilber seems to be treating Christianity with some contempt in the remark about “good ole Biblical injunctions and command morality.” If by command morality he is referring to absolute moral standards such as “do not bear false witness,” “do not steal,” and “do not murder,” then I suppose I am for “good ole Biblical injunctions.” They seem infinitely more wise to me than the morally relativistic blather you will hear on the typical college campus.

“But that sort of traditional, conservative political movement -- grounded in mythic-membership and the amber value system -- was the dominant form of governance for most of humanity’s civilized history, East and West, from the great Axial Period (around the 6th century BCE) up to the Enlightenment in the West.”

Oh? Ronald Reagan was no different than a pre-democratic emperor or king? Here is a presumably amber -- or possibly even “red,” God forbid -- man who helped to liberate more human beings than any other ruler in history, and he is lumped together with all the butchers and monsters that preceded him, merely because he had “conservative” values? If we had fought the Soviet Union with green values, we’d all be speaking Russian now.

“This amber value structure, and the governance systems that it supported, were those of the great Republican empires and ancient nations, East and West, North and South, Rome being one of the mightiest. These were agrarian societies..., and therefore typically they had a corresponding mythic-membership culture of amber or traditional values.... At their best and healthiest, and for their time, these cultures were a thing of beauty and wonder.”

Yes, if you like tyranny, slavery, human sacrifice, widespread illiteracy, cruelty to women and children. What these “amber” values have to do with modern conservatism escapes me entirely.

Charles continues: “Beginning around the Renaissance and culminating with the Enlightenment, an entirely new level of values began to emerge -- namely, the orange, modern, worldcentric value system -- and with it, a radically new type of political philosophy was born: liberalism.”

SEMANTIC ALERT: This is also where modern illiberal leftism was born, so be aware of the tendency to conflate the two. There was the radical Enlightenment of France (bad) and the skeptical Enlightenment of Scotland and America (good), and the two were as different as can be, resulting in very different societies and value systems.

“Liberalism reflected many things at once: a move from ethnocentric to worldcentric perspectives; from monarchy/aristocracy to democracy; from slavery to equality; from a society informed by myth to one informed by science; from a role-identity to an ego-identity; from duty and honor to dignity and recognition; from ethnocentric values to universal values (especially freedom, equality, solidarity).”

If “informed by myth” Charles means “informed by Christianity,” then he is dead wrong, at least in so far as the skeptical enlightenment. It is true that the radical enlightenment attempted to throw out all tradition, reinvent man, and base all of their ideas on their narrow notion of “reason,” and we can see the terror and barbarism that resulted.

The American founders were not particularly motivated by the pursuit of equality -- much less “solidarity” or “fraternity” -- as were those of the radical enlightenment. Rather, they recognized that equality and liberty were inversely related, and came down firmly on the side of liberty. Europe went down the other road, and we can see what resulted: perhaps more equality -- since everyone has less -- and far less liberty. In the radical trinity, “equality” and “fraternity” are paramount. In the clasically liberal trinity of America “life” and “liberty” are emphasized, with very different consequences.

Here again, I believe the following statement to be deeply incorrect: “Liberalism grew up in the same flatland atmosphere, the atmosphere that recognized only exteriors, only matter, only things you can see ‘out there’ -- which is precisely why, to this day, most liberals can only comfortably think about what needs to be fixed in the exteriors (such as economics) in order to make society a better place.”

The classical liberals who founded America didn’t think this way at all. But contemporary leftists (who are not really liberal) certainly think in this limited and dysfunctional way. Remember, when that great French classical liberal, de Toqueville, visited America, he was most impressed at how deeply spontaneously religious our citizens were. I suppose Wilber would dismiss them as being primitive, mythological “amber” types, but that seems to me to be a European-leftist prejudice against true American liberalism, which has always been informed by spirit (until the 1960’s, anyway).

“To think about fixing interiors would imply that some interiors are better or worse than others, and liberals usually recoil at the implication -- thus inadvertently paralyzing any effective interior development and focusing almost exclusively on the exterior engineering of social systems.”

I can only assume Wilber is being ironic here. No one is more obsessed with remaking mankind than the typical leftist-liberal. Of course, leftists always deny they are being judgmental, but no one is more prone to nightmarish social engineering to try to remake human beings in their image. These leftist wacktivists have taken over virtually every professional organization, including my own, which is why there are so many things I am not permitted to think. Nowhere is speech less “free” than on an elite liberal college campus.

“But there is also a very positive reason for the liberal reluctance to discuss interior development, and it needs to be carefully noted, namely: the separation of church and state.”

Here again, America was different. Thankfully, there was nothing about “separation of church and state” in our constitution, much less our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, which specifically declares that God is the source of our liberty and that it is the task of Government to protect and preserve that sacred liberty. Far from being at odds with it, government is here to preserve and protect religious liberty. Religious liberty is “higher” than government, as it is its source of legitimacy.

Obviously, what our constitution actually says is that “congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It is just flat wrong to say that our founders wished to go beyond “ethnocentric governance to worldcentric governance based not on religious mythic values or conventional family values, but on postconventional freedoms extended to as many individuals as possible.” As if the founders were a bunch of leftist, U.N. loving, politically correct, one-world cultural relativists who thought, say, the Koran was just as good as the Bible!

“The liberal stance that says all people are equal is itself an elite value reached only by a minority of the population at most times. Liberalism is the product of several major hierarchical stages of growth that then turns around and denies the importance or even the existence of hierarchical stages of growth. Liberalism thus denies the very path that produced liberalism.

Well, not this liberal, nor, I suspect, the vast majority of my readers. We deeply want leftists to understand that there is a superior political philosophy that can only be founded upon emotional maturity, and that will always be attacked on all sides by those who are less mature. It is not classical liberals such as myself who “vigorously deny interior hierarchies and thus effectively dissolve the path to its own genesis.” Rather, it is leftists who do this. Again, they pose the greatest danger to the preservation of classical liberalism. Where they prevail -- as in Western Europe -- the situation is more or less hopeless, as per Mark Steyn’s America Alone. Leftists are more concerned with fanciful theories of global warming than in protecting the fragile conditions that preserve and promote real liberalism, including a powerful military to take on the true “red barbarians” who wish to impose their theocracy on the world. But leftists really do believe that “red” George Bush is no different -- perhaps even worse -- than “red” Osama bin Laden. This is maturity? These are the spiritual elites of our society?

Please. Give me a guy with a “good ole Bible” who knows the difference between right and wrong and knows how to shoot a rifle. God save us from the world-centric, morally post-conventional, post-patriotic green pacifists. If that’s “reality” or “evolution,” then give me myth. At least I’ll live to mythologize another day.

Remember that sniper in Saving Private Ryan, the sharp-shooting country boy who would kiss his crucifix every time he blew away a nazi? That's who I want on my team.

To be continued....

Sunday, December 10, 2006

One Cosmos Over Many

Many adults never metamorphose into moral manhood; if they cannot take the step from moral dependency onto the dry land of political maturity, then they are in an infantile predicament indeed. For dependency will always find a political father to exploit it, as the history of absolutism sufficiently shows. And if a man does not become his own small part in the state, then the state must always seem to him an omnipotent external power. --Weston Labarre

I'll just speak for myself and say that where I live in the vertical, none of us are really “left” or “right,” but overwing, so to speak. Our problem with the left is that it isn't really left, but "underwing," at least from our vantage point. From here, the left doesn't look progressive at all; it's like looking through a reversed telescope. They're very far away from here. Not as far as the Muslim world, but sometimes it's hard to tell, because they're both moving backward at such a high rate of speed. Either that, or time is whooshing past them so quickly that it makes them look as if they're falling backward. As for the right, they’re just sort of static at the moment, essentially “keeping up” with time. --Petey

As I mentioned yesterday, I get so many urgent requests to “give it a rest,” that I think I’ll refrain from posting new material on the weekend. So here’s some additional review of our understanding of the relationship between politics and spirit.

As a preramble, let me suggest that in this Middle Earth plane we inhabit, God’s very purpose -- or so we have heard from the wise -- is to create a Unity starting from scratch, or from “bang,” if you will. Human beings are central to this divine mission, as we embody the full spectrum of cosmic existence and serve as the very link between above and below, the celestial and the terrestrial, the One and the many. There are regressive forces opposed to this evolutionary co-creation, and it is our self-appointed task to correct them, occasionally with divine severity. So yes, ultimately we are “one” with the moonbats, only on a level of reality that is inaccessible to them by virtue of their own benighted philosophies. I don’t mean to be hard on them, but sometimes you have to crack on a bad egg to make an Om alight.

Clearly, political maturity has been a long time coming for human beings. Because of the very conditions that allow us to become human to begin with -- infantile helplessness, neurological incompleteness and plasticity, and extended neotany -- various personal and cultural mind parasites get more or less hardweird in, so that the field of politics becomes a displaced struggle with the projected ghosts of the nursery. Forget about the grave. Leftists demand cradle to cradle welfare. Only the size of the cradle changes.

The plasticity of language is a vehicle of creativity, but it can also easily accommodate itself to infantile omnipotence. But the left takes this omnipotence to a new level, challenging the entire truth-bearing capacity of language. Language is very much tied in with reality -- in many ways, it “is” reality, in that nothing that was made was made without it. But there is a psychotic part of the mind -- an infantile remnant -- that believes that if it attacks language (i.e., meanings and links between words), then it can alter reality.

Nietzsche's famous "death of God" was a turning point in the descent into postmodernism, and was soon followed by an all out assault on the living Word, or logos. "Deconstruction" is the official name of this logocide, as it is really more of a murder, with murderous consequences. For if truth is relative and perception is reality, then no one’s idea about the world is any better than anyone else’s. Fact is reduced to opinion and conformity to opinion is ultimately maintained by the group or institution that has the power to enforce its version of reality.

Ironically, this achieves the opposite effect intended by its "progressive" proponents. That is, if we cannot judge the merit of competing ideas by assessing their relative truth value, then either everyone will have their own private truth or truth will be enforced by the state or some other powerful collective. On college campuses, no one is unsophisticated enough to believe that absolute Truth exists; however, you had better not utter the wrong truth, or you will come face to face with the Dark Cosmocratic Power that has replaced the Luminous Word.

In one version of history, the "secular revolt" may be traced to the alienation and disenchantment caused by the scientific and industrial revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries. There was a deep sense that the organic unity of the world had been fractured -- a widespread perception of a sort of breach with the natural order of things, and with it, a collective mourning over the loss of timeless and familiar ways and customs. Similar to today’s radical “greens,” the romantic movement of the early 19th century was actually a reactionary and nostalgic yearning for an idyllic past, answering to the sense of loss of community and oneness with the rhythms of nature. This backward looking movement idealized the primitive and sought to unleash the subjective and irrational passions (countering the rational and objective detachment of science).

Up to this time, one's personal identity had been based on such objective standards as a clearly defined role within an organic hierarchy, or merger with a large extended family. With modernity, this gave way to an uncertain identity that had to be forged for oneself in the world. The philosopher Charles Taylor calls this "an epistemological revolution with anthropological consequences," as it led to a new kind of human being that had never before existed on a mass scale: the modern, self-defining subject in a world devoid of intrinsic meaning -- the “skin-encapsulated ego,” as Alan Watts called it.

Virtually all modern ideologies, movements and philosophies are somehow aimed at addressing this problem of alienation, of recapturing the broken unity of the world. Communism, nazism, European fascism, the beat movement, the hippie movement, the free love movement, the environmental movement, the new age movement -- all are futile attempts to turn back the clock and return to a mystical union with the "volk," with nature, with the proletariat, with the instincts. You can see this phenomenon in today's leftists, who clearly long for the "magical" 1960's, which represented a low water mark for a resurgence of romantic merger with the group, free expression of the primitive, and idealized notions of recreating heaven on earth: "All you Need is Love," "Give Peace a Chance," "Imagine no possessions, no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man, imagine all the people sharing all the world," etc. As the scientist E.O. Wilson put it in another context: Beautiful theory. Wrong species.

We can see how contemporary liberalism fits the bill as a bogus cure for modern alienation. For example, multiculturalism devalues the concept of the individual in favor of the ethnic group, while socialism in all its forms favors the large and powerful mommy state that unites us all (and suppresses -- for [to paraphrase someone] any time government does something for you, it does something to you). Leftists are uncomfortable with the painful idea of competition, but replace it with the notion of individual expressiveness. Everyone's natural impulses are beautiful, and we must not judge them, much less try to elevate them. Deconstruction throws all objective meaning into question, so no one has to have the disappointing experience of being wrong or denied tenure, no matter how stupid one's ideas. The burden of personal responsibility is mitigated, because one's being is determined by accidental factors such as race, class, and gender, not one's owns values, decisions and actions. Skillful knowledge acquired by intense effort (or just being born smarter) is replaced by an obnoxious, hypertrophied adolescent skepticism that knows only how to question but not to learn. It is grounded in a sort of bovine materialism that is not the realm of answers, but the graveyard of meaningful questions. The primitive is idealized, because it is within everyone's reach.

*****

As my favorite Christian hermeticist Valentin Tomberg summarizes it, the human being is always faced with the choice between two basic attitudes or outlooks: that of existential being or that of essential Being. According to the choice he makes, he is either "orphaned" in the purely material, deterministic and horizontal realm with no reality higher than the ego, or his individual being is grounded in the more essential, trans-subjective Being which is his true home. The secular leftist lives shackled in a "house of bondage," where the past determines the present and the present determines the future. No vertical causes can intervene in this closed chain of cause and effect, so that one is truly imprisoned as it pertains to the moral/metaphysical/spiritual realm.

From this leftist/materialist outlook follows a host of disastrous ideas, such as class determines consciousness, poverty causes crime, free will is an illusion, private property is theft, hierarchy is evil, the vertical dimension is a hoax, and a coercive state is needed to enforce equality (vs. the American belief in a Creator who endows us with spiritual liberty which it is government's primary job to protect and nurture).

The difference between spiritual progressives and secular leftist reactionaries is that they worship different gods -- or more accurately, they have entirely incompatible understandings of the meaning of One. There is an antinomy between these two Ones: there is a left one and a right One -- or more precisely, a higher One and a lower one, a Luminous One and a dark and sinister oneness that results from the blending and loss of distinction of the night.

Tomberg uses a visual image to conceptualize the problem. Imagine two cones placed base to base. At the top there is a point, in the middle an “equator” where the bases meet, and at the bottom another point. Now imagine this as a sort of crystal. At the top is the “white point” where pure light, which is the synthesis of all colors, enters. As the light moves down toward the equator it becomes more and more differentiated into the various colors of the spectrum, until they reach their maximum degree of separation and intensity at the equator. Moving further down, the colors begin to merge until, at the bottom point, they once again lose all of their distinction and become black, which represents the blending and confusion of all colors. There is one sort of synthesis or Oneness above (the white point) and an entirely different kind of oneness below (the black point).

The white point is analogous to wisdom, for it represents the underlying unity of all the different types of knowledge available at the equator, where all of the individual colors represent various disciplines and sciences. The black point below would represent the suppression of diversity, as in the Soviet Union, the Islamic world, or the politically correct totalerantarians of academia.

This touches on the central point of both my book and blog. The synthesis of all our seemingly contradictory truths lies “above,” toward the white light of wisdom. If two seemingly contradictory things are true, say, the Book of Genesis and the theory of evolution, then their common source of truth must be found above, not below. There is a way to resolve the contradiction, but not by finding a compromise between the two at the "equator" or by simply confusing and blending them together below.

For example, teaching intelligent design as an adjunct or alternative to natural selection is simply adding another color to the equator. Even worse, teaching it as the only truth would take both the Creator and science down to the black point, merging and blending science and theology in an unhealthy way. In fact, this is what is done in the Islamic world. Yes, they have intellectual and spiritual unity there, but it is the bad unity of the black point: One Nation Under Allah’s Big Sandal Heel. A similar thing happens in academia, where intellectual diversity is not permitted, only a materialistic substitute enforced by the noxious oneness of political correctness. What we want is to allow maximum diversity but to synthesize it on higher level, not eliminate it on a lower one: this is the meaning of One Cosmos Under God. If you don't like the word "God," then just call it "One Cosmos Over the Many." Or "One Cosmos." Or "One." Or "O."

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

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

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

Or we may simply affirm the root of all political goodness, the trinitarian curse on the left that is found on any coin: Liberty, In God We Trust, and E Pluribus Unum. For if the ACLU had their way, you can bet that our coins would say Equality, In Matter and Collectivism We Trust, and E Unum Pluribus.