Winks, Links, Finks, and Shrinks
Some understandably weary readers have requested that I immediately delete the comments of those who obviously don't get what is going on here, because they merely drag down the dialogue in entirely predictable ways. But that usually just inflames them further. There is something about troll-nature that just can't handle being spurned. It actually encourages them, in the manner of the mental patient who is addicted to the "bad object."
I certainly hope I am never a "public figure." If I am, it won't be my fault. I have a feeling that if it ever happens, it won't be because of the small number of people who enjoy what I have to say but because of those who detest it, but, for whatever reason, cannot stay away. In fact, that might be an interesting topic for a post. Looking back at my own life -- I'm thinking this through for the first time -- there are certain people to whom I was mysteriously drawn that I couldn't stand at the time, and yet, couldn't keep away from -- people who actually got me very irritated and annoyed -- but whom I now revere. Didn't C.S. Lewis call it the "hound of heaven?" I am guessing that most Raccoons know that hound and originally recoiled from it, in keeping with our terrestrial "lower raccoon" nature; and yet, we remained engaged with it.
Bion talks about subjects and the links between them. To a certain extent, if you truly understand this concept, it is all you will ever need to know of psychoanalysis and of mind parasites. Our minds are linked to other minds by L, H, or K: love, hate, or knowledge (a desire to know). Take the common example of the child who is abused or mistreated by his parents. In order to maintain the L link -- his lifeline to the world -- he will have to split off the frustrating, disappointing, and depressing aspects of the relationship, and dispatch them to what is called the unconscious.
It is incorrect to say that we merely repress experiences, or emotions, or thoughts. Rather, what we specifically repress is the relationship -- which consists of a subject, an object, and the link between them. Importantly, because of the nature of unconscious logic, the person can identify with either pole of the relationship -- i.e., he can become the child toward the parent, or he can turn things around and become the punishing parent in relation to his own externalized child-self.
Thus, for example, the abused child is naturally enraged at his parent. This emotion is too dangerous and upsetting to contemplate, so an unconscious "object relationship" is formed between an angry subject and a hated object. However, the relationship is hardly forgotten. Rather, it is relived again and again through substitute objects later in life. This explains the mystery -- which isn't really a mystery -- of why people are hypnotically drawn to people who frustrate or abuse them. They think they are seeking an L-link, when it is really the mind parasite looking to live out the unconscious H-link. However, an H-link can at times conceal a hidden K-link or even an L-link. (Ask Mrs. G. to tell the story of how we met, and about her initial impressions of me. Let us just say that a passionate H-Link was aroused, to such an extent that it induced abominal distress. In short, she wanted to vomit. That was almost 23 years ago, since which time the nausea has gradually passed.)
I am reminded of Dennis Prager, who mentioned one day that he occasionally googles his name to read the sort of passionately hateful and distorted things people say about him. One day his young son was with him and read some of the comments. Naturally, he was astounded and a bit disturbed. "Dad, they're talking about you? That's not you." There was an object lesson involved, however, as Prager wanted his son to know that people say all sorts of crazy things, but that it didn't bother him. It was if they were talking about someone else. Except not "as if." The person has a passionate link to Prager, no doubt. Except they think it is is a K-link, when it is actually an H-link. Or, you might say that it is a "hateful K" link. The person forges a link between themselves and Prager with hateful knowledge about him, but it's all fantasy.
Only I and those who know me (and many readers know me remarkably well without ever having met) can understand the extent to which some of the over-the-top comments about me are detached from reality -- an H-link masquerading as a K-link for whatever unconscious reason: cult leader surrounded by needy and anus-hooked jackals, misogynist, Most Obnoxious Man in America, self-serving, polemical, intolerant, partisan hack, crusher of dissent, seeker of blind adulation, egomaniac, authoritarian, self-styled "minor deity," fascist, and not really spiritual because I don't "turn the other cheek" (which has to be oddest one, since I rarely bother to respond to these wild mischaracterizations, and if I do, it's just to make fun of them. Sorry, but for a Raccoon, light-hearted ridicule is the other cheek).
The passion behind these characterizations is quite extraordinary. Obviously I touch a nerve. Of course, if I respond at all, I am then hypersensitive. You have to laugh. What am I supposed to do, get angry? At what? Someone's fantasies about me?
This "cult" business always cracks me up. Anyway, one other note of housekeeping before we proceed to the exciting conclusion of our approach to scripture. You will notice in the side bar that I put in a link to the other One Cosmos on Wordpress in case Blogger acts up and won't allow me to publish, or in case the world ends. In the case of the latter, I'm sure I don't have to remind all Raccoons to calmly assemble there with Petey and to await further instructions; and do remember to bring two pairs of clean tennis shoes and a roll of quarters.
Now, as Jimmy Carter might say, back to our regularly scheduled pogrom.
There are only four sources of knowledge, 1) empirical (through the senses), 2) rational, 3) pure intellection, and 4) revelation. For a metaphysical naif such as Sam Harris, whom we briefly discussed yesterday, there is only empiricism and reason, which is the beginning and end of his startling contribution to philosophy. As if we haven't known for the past couple hundred years that the absurd philosophy of materialism exists. For how absurd is it to employ a faux version of intellection to prove that intellection does not exist?
In other words, we have access to no empirical data that tells us that only empirical data exist. There is no knowledge at the level of the senses. Likewise, no rational operation can provide its own content. Rather, a person decides the purposes for which he will use his powers of reason. Evidently, it does not go without saying that this personal decision cannot be reduced to reason. Not only that, but so much is now known about "emotional intelligence," that this alone should suffice to put the kibosh on any form of unalloyed rationalism. Knowing is a deeply personal experience, both in telling us what is important to know and in assimilating the depth of the truth of what is known. It is possible to be deeply stupid, but in order for that to happen, you generally have to be quite intelligent.
I've been saving this link for the past month. I knew it would come in handy some day:
"Maybe no one else does this, but when I'm reading a book and I come across a paragraph I particularly like, I'll pause, take a breath, and then read it again out loud, just to savor the sound and revel in its resonance.... I'd be hard-pressed to name a favorite paragraph [of the book King Dork], but I read this one twice:
"'I'm not any religion myself, but for the record, I'm pretty sure I believe in God. It's just a feeling I have. I can't prove it, but since when are you supposed to prove a feeling? God is the only situation where they expect you to do that.... Even if I didn't believe in God, though, I'd probably say I did just out of spite. To irritate people like my mom who think believing in God is tacky and beneath them. They're wrong about everything else; chances are they're wrong about that, too. Plus, God embarrasses people. Which I totally enjoy.'
"Not even Gagdad Bob could say it better, or more efficiently."
Yes, that's probably true, isn't it? I do tend to go on. But this is where rationalism obviously falls short, for -- to paraphrase someone -- you can't talk a person out of what they were never talked into. Nevertheless, this is what these clueless MENSA types such as Sam Harris or Daniel Dennett are endeavoring to do with their new anti-religion campaign (which is nothing more than very old whine of reductionism in a new battle).
Hmm, we haven't talked about me for a few paragraphs, have we? Let's get back to me. You trolls are naturally free to reject me and my ideas and to try to reason me out of them, but you are pissing up a rope. For this is the bottom line: either my spiritual writing is a product of intellection, spontaneously produced on the spot each morning just because I enjoy doing it; or it is a product of delusion. But either way, it is not susceptible to rational refutation. Either you get it or you don't. (I shouldn't even put it that way, because it implies that I'm infallible or something; let us just say that you either enjoy it or you don't -- the ultimate purpose is not to promulgate a dogma but to provide material for the reader's own intellection.) Those who do get it are, like me, either deluded or just enjoy the intellection. It's just a feeling we have. But feeling, like everything else, runs along a vertical continuum. There are feelings and there are feelings, but they are hardly the same thing (another good topic for a future post).
Now, this is not always true of my political writing. Obviously there are some areas "at the margins" that are subject to a purely rational approach; for example, raising the minimum wage either causes inflation and unemployment or it doesn't. That's an empirical question. Likewise, either the models used to predict catastrophic weather changes are accurate or ridiculously flawed.
But even with politics, I would say that the majority of my stances are a result of intellection, not reason. For example, my understanding of the spiritual primacy of liberty leads me to reject the left, which always erodes liberty. My opposition to "affirmative action," or government enforced discrimination, is rooted in principle. This is not something I can be "talked out of." Likewise, my belief in low taxes and a small federal government is a reflection of my principled belief that this arrangement produces better human beings and is vital to our collective spiritual evolution; or my belief that competition will produce a better educational system, or that capital punishment for murderers is a deeply moral act of cosmic and divine justice.
(Perhaps I should add, when it is carried out by civilized people, not barbarians -- which gets into a whole different set of issues. For example, I am open to the idea that Muslims should not carry out the death penalty until they can comprehend the sacredness of life -- in short, unless or until they develop Judeo-Christian values, for the identical act of punishment can be a result of justice, or mercy [for the victim but also the perpetrator if he is able to understand that wishing to be put to death is the only way he can even begin to show atonement for his crime], or sadism, or scapegoating; once again, it is the "link" that is most important, and nowhere in the Islamic world is there the regard for life that those of us who are beneficiaries of the Judeo-Christian tradition take for granted.)
Well, I've really gotten off track today. Time to just hit the publish button and continue the discussion tomorrow. Not much traffic on Sunday anyway.