Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Don't Get Stuck on Smart!

This topic of intelligence has stimulated more interesting and provocative -- even poignant -- comments than I might have predicted. It really is a big problem in a secular society, because it means that we begin to venerate intelligence instead of truth. And by extension, it means that we begin to exalt the genius instead of the messiah or savior (and I don't necessarily want to reduce this to a Christian understanding, but look at it in more general terms. As always, we want to know "by virtue of what principle" any particular instance is true).

We have now endured six or seven years of disparaging references to President Bush's intelligence. First, these references are generally from boneheaded liberals who are intrinsically less intelligent than President Bush, but let's leave that aside. Obviously, the question is not whether someone is intelligent, but whether they are correct -- and probably even more importantly, whether they are good. But once you have acceded to the cult of intelligence, then questioning someone's intellect serves the same purpose that questioning someone's faith did in an earlier age.

Think of all the left-wing "geniuses" who excoriated President Reagan, not just during the eight years of his presidency, but from the 1960s right up to the present. Does Christopher Hitchens have an IQ higher than president Reagan? Maybe yes, maybe no, but it certainly didn't stop Hitchens from devoting his intellect and talents to a stupid and evil ideology, Marxism, while Reagan was devoting all of his gifts -- heart, mind and soul -- to driving a dagger through its vampiric heart. That one was a God lover, the other a God hater, is certainly not incidental to their ability -- or lack thereof -- to spontaneously apprehend reality and know moral truth.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned my blog to a colleague. Usually I keep it a secret, since I don't want to offend anyone's sensibilities, and psychologists are nearly always leftist and irreligious. In the course of the conversation, she said words to the effect of "so smart!," but I immediately said, "no, that's not the point. If it were just about being smart, about displaying my intelligence, I would have no interest in it. Rather, it's solely about truth, and about my being subordinate to that. Yes, I want to be entertaining and amusing, but mainly I want to be elevating. If I fail at that, then any intelligence that went into it will have been wasted. It's certainly not about any kind of ego gratification, or exaltation of me."

Interestingly, I had a somewhat similar conversation with a staff member who is not a psychologist. However, she is religious, and she seemed to understand in a nanosecond where I was coming from. You will notice that many of our trolls complain that I am only here to strut and preen before my audience of adoring Coons, and to devour their slavish compliments in order to glorify my ego. As a result of your charcoal activated cOOnvision, every single one of you knows that that is not true and that it could not possibly be true. For one thing, if it were true, there is simply no way I could write about the things I do. The moment it were to become about me, the source of my inspiration would close tighter than a leftist's mind on Sunday. Likewise, if I were to ever become "popular," I would know that something had gone terribly wrong.

To put it another way, I guarantee to all Coons here and now, that if the tentacles of fame ever come close to me, you will see someone torpedo this opportunity in the most stunningly self-defeating way you have ever witnessed. For example, I've imagined once or twice what it would be like to be interviewed by Larry King. At some point, I promise to say, "Larry, I can't answer your questions because I've forgotten how to be so stupid."

There is no philosophy more anti-human than humanism, since, as Schuon puts it, it exalts fallen man and not man as such -- the latter being pre-fallen man, which is to say, our divine blueprince. Thus, "the humanism of the moderns is practically a utilitarianism aimed at fragmentary man; it is to make oneself as useful as possible to a humanity as useless as possible" (emphasis mine).

Think about the implications of that last Wise Crack, for it "explains everything" and pretty much embodies the doctrine of the whole existentialada. From the viewpoint of the left, mankind is indeed useless -- except for the purposes designated by the left. It has no higher, intrinsic purpose whatsover. In fact, we see the naked expression of this odiology in the fanatical environmentalism of Al Gore and other greenhouse gasbags, who believe that we are here to please the earth rather than vice versa. In reality, we have reversed cause and effect: the barbarism of radical environmentalism is the logical outcome, the "final common pathway," of a soul that has long since abandoned God.

Schuon makes reference to the truism that "every soul contains two poles, but normally they are complementary and not divergent." The two poles can be conceptualized in diverse ways, but ultimately it is a matter of horizontal and vertical. To overvalue one at the expense of the other will lead to an imbalance and loss of one's "transcendently immament" center. Nor can one have "two centers," for this is functionally to have no center.

No. The task in this life -- at least for a Coon -- is to embody unity in diversity, the archetype of which -- at least for Western man -- is Jesus Christ (I am quite sure there is a Jewish equivalent, but I don't have time at the moment to elucidate; in fact, balancing these two poles forms the essence of Jewish spiritual life, which addresses the issue in the most beautifully comprehensive manner).

Immediately we appreciate the problem of the "decentered genius" of modernity, and why genius in the absence of spiritual grounding tends twoard the duomonic. You will have noticed that America has never trusted the intellectual, and with good reason. It is one of the reasons why America is the greatest nation the world has ever known. In Europe and South America, things are different. There, intellectuals wield great power, and with disastrous results that are there for everyone to see. For there is no idea so stupid or evil that has not been championed by some prominent left-wing intellectual.

And now you are in a position to understand the great gulf that exists between lefitst academia and normal Americans with traditional, classical liberal American values. In reality, we shouldn't wonder why these ghastly pinheads hate America so. They hate America because Americans don't take them seriously, as they do in Europe.

In Europe, Noam Chomsky is a "rock star," whereas in America he is a paranoid crank embraced only by empty-headed celebrities, addle-brained kids, and their developmentally arrested professors (although in the past decade or so, we have also seen a marked deterioration in our MSM, to the point that there is no longer any discernible difference between, say, a Chomsky and the idiotorial pages of the New York Times, which is the real reason for the latter's economic failure and increasing irrelevance).

Schuon had some very astute things to say about the modern cult of genius, which, in the postmodern world, has replaced the saint and hero. He writes that the genius is "all too often a man without a center, in whom this lack is replaced by a creative hypertrophy." Again, think of the prolific Chomsky, who writes one book after another, each more worthless than the last.

This attitude also embraces the "art for art's sake" credo. That the lives of these so-called artistic geniuses are so full of decadence and strife is of no consequence. I have mentioned before that when I was in a rock band, I could see that I lacked the requisite "desperation" to succeed in that world. I simply had too many other options. Which in turn explains so much of the darkness that comes out of the pop music world. With notable exceptions, these are often desperate losers, any accidental genius notwithstanding. The list is far too long to chronicle here.

But as Schuon says -- and he was referring to the wider artistic trends of the 20th century -- "That geniuses of this kind have often been unfortunate and desperate persons [whose lives] have ended in disaster, does not deprive them of any prestige in public opinion; quite the contrary, people find them all the more interesting and 'authentic,' and let themselves be attracted by the seduction, indeed the fascination, which emanates from their siren songs and tragic destinies." Just yesterday I read a quote from some musician - the name escapes me at the moment -- who was wondering when and why music became so ugly. Life is ugly enough. The purpose of art should be to elevate us above the ugliness, not wallow in it.

The so-called genius who is alienated from the higher planes will tend toward materialism and self-indulgence: "as an intellectual, this man will forge a philosophy, but it will be determined by his materialism and his love of pleasure." But these are not actually joyous people who take pleasure in "the simple things." Rather, you will often see that their pleasure-seeking takes on a compulsive quality. At best, they become an epicure or an aesthete who is often reduced to making ultra-fine distinctions in the realm of what displeases him, to the point that the capacity for true innocent pleasure is lost.

I see how this absurdity operates in my own hobby as a hi-fi enthusiast. I can chase better sound until the day I die, but I know in my heart that music will never sound better than it did when the Beatles were coming out of the AM radio of our 1964 Ford Country Squire. To put it another way, I can always get better sound, but it will never sound better.

American movies have always recognized the demonic possibilities of the horizontal or inverted intellectual. Villains are routinely depicted as off-kilter geniuses, and with good reason. As Schuon writes, "it is not astonishing that a man who is at once a man of genius and lacking a true center should easily become a psychopath -- and this is precisely on account of his unbridled subjectivism -- whether he be a schizoid artist, a paranoiac politician or some other caricature of grandeur."

There is much, much more to say about this topic, but I'm running out of time here, so we we'll continue this line of thought tomorrow. Just remember: don't ever call me an intellectual, much less an artist. Them's fightin' words.

50 Comments:

Blogger CARL TOFFLE said...

I used to be an ‘audiophile’ until tinnitus became so prevalent I was forced to rely on other resources to enjoy music. My best sound system is in an entry-level four-banger (Polk components); yet I find no greater enjoyment than listening, reclined in bed, to a disc player with those tiny earphones. My wallet recognizes the difference, but my soul doesn’t.

5/23/2007 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yup. For me, the greatest musical pleasure now comes from mountain biking with the ear buds in.

5/23/2007 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

I've just graduated with a Master's Degree. My last class was taught by a German professor. He was a good man, but most of the political theory, Rawls and Habermas, he taught was bunk. I had a hard time understanding why the professor and a few of my classmates didn't immediately see it. Interestingly enough, most of my classmates were on the same wavelength I was. We were just going through the motions. My final paper was filled with arguments as to why these theories were bunk. I got an A in the class, but I would never make it through a PhD program. My grad school experience validates everything you said here. Thanks

5/23/2007 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

It's a sad commentary on our education system, but even in the mid-70s most of my university profs (liberal arts) were already "stuck on smart". Although it took me a few years, once I figured it out, I was able to get straight A's for capitalizing on that horrible weakness - and just parroting back to them what they wanted. I didn't retain much, but I did get my degrees!

5/23/2007 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger juliec said...

Nomo,
I'm reminded of a teacher I had in a high school class, Honors English. She was so determined to squeeze every drip of meaning from the classics she assigned for us (Moby Dick, the Scarlet Letter, The Crucible), she would practically swoon if we came up with something completely incoherent that used a few big words. When we got to Moby Dick (which none of us actually read), we all glanced over the cliff notes and chose a few of the more nutty symbolisms referenced therein. When my group gave our presentation, we said that Moby Dick's tail symbolized all meaning in the universe. Somehow, we managed not to laugh as we said it, and of course we all got an A on the project.

The one good thing about that class was that it showed me that teachers and professors are only human, and not infallible.

5/23/2007 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger juliec said...

And speaking of intelligence in education, Protein Wisdom today has an article about the University of Colorado's plans for a program of Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence (which is to say, why all white men are bad and your parents are stupid for having moral values).

I hope and pray that my hypothetical future kids will have better educational opportunities than that if they decide to go to college.

5/23/2007 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

He's so smart that he
found the secret code
it's eight five three two one one
spring me outta here

5/23/2007 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

I don't think anyone who regularly reads AND likes what you write would dispute what you say here. I would say, however, that secularism, in large part, has been able to make inroads and dominate "culture" because Christianity, as well as America, has been particularly negligent in making profound intellectual arguments in explaining and defending its point of view--as they both tend to undervalue this dimension. This is a primary theme in Richard Weaver and Rene Guenon's critique's of modernity. Indeed, it is the responsibility of the intellectually gifted within the faith to bring forth the profound arguments against it's intellectual enemies. Failing this, secular enemies, first within the Church, and then without, have been able to lure those with an intellectual disposition away from the faith. For me, it has taken people like Schuon and his school, and now you, to maintain my deep and abiding devotion to things spiritual.
I also believe we need and wish for, at this time in US history, a president who is both good and smart. Sometime's, in some positions, being good just ain't enough.

5/23/2007 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous ubercoon mutant trollbat said...

Well, Bib, I thought you were a theologian and a writer. If that isn't intellect and artistry, then what is?

I don't get why you call them "fighting words." What you probably meant to say is that your intellect and artistry are means to an end, and not the end in itself.

Are you a throughgoing egotist? Yes, Bob, you are. But you have made the decision to become egoless, and that counts for much.

You can't quite see your way out to forest yet but you are near the margins and hiking in the right direction.

5/23/2007 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Yes, I prefer the term (for myself) pseudo-intellectual... I know how to think, but I never can seem to think the right things...

And artist? Hmm, probably not so much. I would prefer to be an Artisan to being an artist anyday.

E3's been bubblin' an boiling recently... wonder what will surface?

5/23/2007 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Joseph,
Your point raises an interesting question, because I can't agree that it's the failure to make cogent arguments that has hampered Christianity. I just don't think things have worked that way since the sixties.

Let's just look at your last statement about presidents who are good and smart. Go back to Ike and think about how the prevailing culture portrayed each president. With the probable exception of Johnson (seen as dumb because he was from the South), all Dems were "smart" and all Pubs were "dumb".

The point is that such groupthink doesn't seem to be data based. Something happened in the sixties where cynicism became the rule and the aspiration. At first, just tried and true Christian attitudes were seen as trite and antiquated, while there was a brief upsurge in the earnest pursuit of Eastern religions. But gradually, everyone became too cool for school, love became sex, good became bad, and the worst thing anyone could do was to take themselves or anything else seriously.

That's really a societal form of self-denigration, which is one of the reasons that cynicism is essentially depressogenic. Try telling a depressed person that life ain't really so bad, that someday the clouds will pass from the sun or one of the obvious cogent anti-depressant arguments. It's water off a duck's back, and I think that's what would have happened -- would still happen -- to an earnest defense of Christianity in the current secular environment.

5/23/2007 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger CARL TOFFLE said...

Intellectual artistry attends the thoroughgoing mind of the egotist and the foolishly consistent little hobgoblin. ~ anon

Bob, I’m sure you’re thrilled to be the recipient of uebercoon’s imprimatur - keep plugging away in the correct direction. How wonderful it will be to meet him on the egoless plane where he resides in such condescensionless non-grandeur.

5/23/2007 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Obviously, the question is not whether someone is intelligent, but whether they are correct -- and probably even more importantly, whether they are good.

This is going to get engraved on a plaque and hang in my office at work. So simply true.

*****
Speaking of work, someone told me yesterday that to understand today's office culture, just pretend you're in junior high.

*Sigh* I hated junior high.

5/23/2007 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Someone recently told me that their mother used to tell them the difference between a smart person and a wise person is....The smart person learns from their mistakes and tries not to repeat them, the wise person learns from other people's mistakes!

5/23/2007 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Webutante said...

Wouldn't the Jewish equivalent be Moses? Through whom God gave the Law to show that no man was perfect or intellectual or elite enough to keep it?

5/23/2007 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In general what the world wants, and therefore, what religious institutions tend to provide, is social association and optimistic talk, perhaps in combination with self applied techniques that people can use as means for consoling themselves. Therefore, in the modern world, instead of cultures of right practice, there are religion businesses and workshops. With rare exception this is the only kind of "religion" available in America and is definitely all that you will find within exoteric religion whether "progressive" or "conservative". No profundity allowed. It is taboo even.

The modern world is a fragmented world, full of individuals who regard their own separateness and independence as absolute, who demonstrate no profundity, and who are not moved by profundity. In this modern world, human beings are becoming progressively more and more preoccupied with self gratification only, and with all of the whatevers than can be pursued within the framework of egoity and worldliness.

In the modern world, people are obsessively interested in what is "out there" and what they do with one another in the common world. They remain involved in mere exchanges of words and superficial socialising. This exclusive preoccupation with self and what is "out there" is a disposition that is now manifested everywhere on Earth, with dreadful results. Listen to the global "daily news" of terrible violence and threats. Look at the absolute emptiness of the consumer egoity that now rules the world. It is madness.

By contrast Real Intelligence is tacit, or intrinsically wordless living existence. It is prior to the thinkety think mind that obsessively manufactures words.

If you were truly aware of mind, you would not want it to go on. It is a terrible, horrific source of bondage. It is a dreadful trap. Human beings are not only trapped in the mortality of their physical bodies, they are trapped in the absurdity of mind.

5/23/2007 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Anon - While much of what you say may be true, there is Real Hope - because God deals with each of us individually. Just because one associates with a particular group means nothing in God's eyes (except coons of course). ;o)

"In the next world, you're on your own." (Firesign Theater)

5/23/2007 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

My hubby still looks up to the farmers he grew up with in his rural hometown. He admires the hard-headed common sense and creative problem-solving that farmers typically display. He has no patience for what you are describing here.

He once had a mentor who was wont to say, "It is good to be highly educated. It is better to be educated from on high. It's best to have both."

Now that he works in an academic setting (with very bright students), he can see exactly what you are illuminating so brilliantly here. In the academic world, where frequent publishing and highly praised lecturing are the way to the top, it's too easy to get swept into a cult of intelligence and bow down to your own mental construct of reality (and expect others to do so as well).

For those willing & humble enough to receive, one good solid dose of the manifest presence of the Almighty is usually enough to cure us of our high opinion of ourselves and our thoughts. "Your thoughts are higher than mine," is all you can concede.

Turning back to a good solid classical education would fix many of the educational problems in our country...but even that does not bestow complete immunity from cerebral top-heaviness, especially if you revere your own inflating head-knowledge as an end in itself. I find classical study invaluable and enjoyable, but mostly I read because I *need* to know those things in order to best understand my heritage, which has produced the finest and freest society the world has seen to date. The authors are interesting to read in and of themselves, but they were human as I am, and not infallible. Even the venerable Augustine had some weird ideas. :)

Not everyone is academically inclined, and not everyone will get the same enjoyment out of egghead pursuits. But everyone needs to know something of history in order to give context to the present, and so, knowledge must have a purpose. You'd best get to the useful-application (rhetoric) stage at some point in your study.

Kind of like the farmers, who knew the ins and outs of their old tractors so well, they could convert them into all kinds of useful machinery on the farm (sawmills, etc.).

Scripture values the getting of knowledge in light of the ultimate application of it--which is wisdom.

If you don't get to the wisdom stage (i.e., able to build and be built up in love), you become "puffed up" and worthless as a human being.

I think that's all I got to say about that, at the moment.

5/23/2007 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Oh, and Julie, I've had the exact same experience. :) The easiest tests to ace in college were English lit. essay tests. ;)

(The hardest were my constitutional law prof's classes in grad school. Whew!!! He was a hard-liner and once ran as a candidate for the Constitution party.)

5/23/2007 02:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

If you're a fertile egghead with your sunny side up, the yolk is easy.

5/23/2007 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous USS Ben said...

"Yes, I want to be entertaining and amusing, but mainly I want to be elevating. If I fail at that, then any intelligence that went into it will have been wasted. It's certainly not about any kind of ego gratification, or exaltation of me."

Precisely, B'ob!
One of the multitude of things I love about my fellow Coons and Cosmonauts is the fact that they recognize BS immediately with their exceptional Coon-vision, and Coon-hearing (not to mention the often underrated Coon-sense).

The "Super powers", or, to be more accurate, these Supernatural gifts, and there are more than I mentioned, have One thing in common, which is Truth and Wisdom (there is more, but for the sake of brevity I'm simply gonna use these few examples).

Truth and Wisdom work best when they are used in synch.
IOW, when they are both on the same frequency or vibe, or dimension.

Both (or either one) easily blow mere intellect out of the water.
And, it's comforting to gno that if B'ob, or Van, or myself, or any Coon were to veer off the path to and of Truth, even one iota, the CoonO'sphere would erupt into gentle correction with WTF's! and WTH's! galore!

I've experienced that "gentle" correction as every Coon and Truth-seeker has, and it helps me stay detached to the attached, or passionate in a dispassionate way.
IOW, focused on the Truth and all that flows from Him!

I'm grateful that we have that Supernatural Rod of Correction!
It may be uncomfortable or outright painful sometimes, but the prize of Wisdom and Truth is well worth the Divine Discipline and God uses His Coons to help mold each other's Character!

And we all do it with Love, although it may appear that Cousin Dupree and Skully et al actually enjoy their work, which really isn't a bad idea.

There's no blind sheep here, I tell you what!
Thank God for that!

Great post, Bo'b!

5/23/2007 03:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its me again.
Speaking of profundity. Ronald Reagan was as profound as a TV commercial. He WAS a TV commercial!

Buy this product and feel good about yourself was the message.

5/23/2007 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

There's nothing wrong with a commercial, anonymouse, if what it advertises is true and piques the interest.

If you're trying to bash something you think we hold dear, you're really going to have to do better than that; if you meant to be flattering to the man, same thing.

5/23/2007 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Joseph & Maineman

Only a moment here, while I don't want to try and debunk the argument for Intelligence and cogent arguments swaying (or not swaying) the general public, I think that the intellectual debate was bypassed by more of a two pronged attack (from Arts & Philosphy), and that's been responsible (well... at least the active tool) for the fall and resurgence (slowly but surely) of Classical Liberalism & conservatism in the publics eye.

I think people overlook the sway of "Cool" which distills both Culture and Ideas, for the non-intellecually interested (not saying intelligent or dumb) public. How? Well, it takes diffident sniff's from the school teachers, then laughter, mockery & repulsiveness from the Art's, and then later on sniff's from the professors, - and whatever the target (in this case Classical Liberalism), if it hasn't mounted a two pronged counter attack of its own - it's done for.

Think back over Pop-culture from the days of Ike to Carter.

As soon as something is successfully tagged as uncool, it's gone - intellectual or not, unless and untill, someone else successfully revives it. The intellectual arguments for that attack were made 200 years ago, the Philosophers first poisoned the Professors, who got the teachers... and while there was a good 150 years of teachers & professors sniffing at Classical Liberalism & Patriotism... not that much happened, until they got to the writers, musicians & artists. Then in short order, Hats, suits, manners, patriotism ... all went away through the 'not cool baby' onslaught of the musicians, movies & T.V. first - and only then was it taken up by the public too.

Much as I admire Babbitt, Weaver, Rand, Von Mises, C.S.Lewis, Hayek, Reagan - if they hadn't received entry past the bouncers of Cool, we wouldn't have made the headway we have in the last few decades.

Who admited them entry? Much to the astonishment of all - and stick with me on this - I'd say Star Wars did.

Think back. At least in the Teen age group (and it's really only in that late 70's + group and following age groups where right & wrong are getting stronger again - the 60's hippies were too far gone), belief in right and wrong was out. gone. done. The anti-hero ruled and the norm of cool was Jack Nicholson, or John Belushi, the best it got was Clint Eastwood, and while his characters were tough, they didn't stand for right & wrong. They may have killed the worse guys, but that's not the same thing.

Characters that stood for right & wrong were wimpy dad's like Apples Way, or Mr. Cunningham & the biggot boob Officer on Happy Days - not at all cool.

But after Luke Skywalker & Obi-wan? Right & wrong were Very cool once again. Pres. Carter? Wimpy! Not Luke like, not even Vader Like - plain old not cool! Out! Reagan? The force was with him. And that was at least foreseeably cool.

Well, my 'moment' has trickled out in random moments over the day... over simplified? Sure. Other problems with Star Wars, etc? Sure. But still, I think there's something to it. "Cool" is the fashion police of the Poets - very dangerous to discount.

5/23/2007 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Long day at work, time to go home... but I see we've had a wannabe troll.

Please.

If you're gonna push some of us off the whackatrolls Annonymouse wagon... you gotta do better than that.

Sheesh.

5/23/2007 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Van,
As always, you said a lot. Have to take time to process it, but I like the Star Wars idea. I remember the Joseph Campbell connection, "Hero with a Thousand Faces" and all, and I remember the early teens who mortgaged their futures to go see the movie as many times as possible -- I think that was the first time that happened, which must say something about the zeitgeist.

And I do remember having a visceral reaction to the clarity of the good v evil thing. I can see how it was not far removed from the Eastern stuff that swept the campuses in the late '60s, too.

It was 1977, the era of "the malaise" and the lead-in to Reagan -- that feel-good commercial who won the cold war along with John Paul and Maggie. Wonder where the next trinity will emerge from.

Speaking of Annonymous, sounds like a Tolle Trolle to me.

5/23/2007 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Annonymouse said "If you were truly aware of mind, you would not want it to go on. It is a terrible, horrific source of bondage. It is a dreadful trap. Human beings are not only trapped in the mortality of their physical bodies, they are trapped in the absurdity of mind. "

As the glutton speaks of food, and the gambler speaks of the horses. The only thing you are trapped by, is your insistence on being trapped by it, looking for it wherever you go. Again, and again and oh... again and umm, ahh yes... agaaain, and mmyummmbwah-hah... again.

The words chatter less when you think on and with their meanings. Look up and out. And quite whining about it.

5/23/2007 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

You know, if you look at cultures, they come on with zeal, cool off with reflection, the elites realizing the 'obvious' folly of their myths, wealth & lost conviction turn to license, weakness and vice, the conservatives attempt to restore the empty old beliefs, fail, and the new crew fired up with their new myths come in and clean house.

Shake, stir, rhyme and repeat... for thousands of years.

The West has followed the same pattern, somewhat, but we've got something that none of the others had. An actual, viable and sound intellectual tradition stretching from Greece & Rome, through Judeo-Christian thought, the Renaissance & Enlightenment to Classical Liberal thought. And not only empty speculation, but thought with proof in the pudding; not only of the West in general when compared to the rest of the world, but of America in particular.

It works. It has a track record.

The last 100+ years may have distracted us from that, but I do think that people are waking up to it's being an empty distraction. In contrast to the conservatives of old(JWM ;-) "The wheel of time turns..."), our traditions aren't made of only empty tales and rituals, we've got a still sound and functioning foundation of thought, art and spirit. Humanism (excluding the rotted corrupt filth the progressives have been posed in its place), Science, Technology, Constitutional Republicanism, Capitalism and belief in a Moral spirituality over and above all else.

Walt mentioned to me the other day, about the image of a Huge Oak tree in Atlas Shrugged, that is found to be rotted away within and completely collapses in a storm. I think that holds true, and has held true as the rhyming wheel of history has turned in the past.

But our Tree is far from rotted, thunk it - it is still solid. Look at this blog - we aren't the only ones, only the only ones we know. For the first time in history, the Remnant is not only hearing what they need to hear, but are able to speak to eachother and also reach others not yet aligned with them. THrough the blogosphere & radio, the shy members of the Remnant are able to speak loud and clear without sacrificing their sacred privacy and slack.

Think about it. We've got some parasites to be sure, but I think a little care and attention can still cure it. A Quickening doesn't necessarily have to portend an end, only a correction - which it'll be is up to us.

All we have to do is not let it go.

5/23/2007 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Van -

I'll repeat in public what I stated the other day:

"Your energy in dedication to the Truth, is very appealing (well, not to trolls), and I only wish there were more with your outlook."

5/23/2007 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Van,
RE Star Wars, I remember some film critics of the day. Their take on it was “it’s just a simple good vs. evil story”. Basically their advice: big deal – just dismiss it. Pay no attention to that movie behind the curtain.

Very few listened. I also remember you could see that movie - I want to say for nearly a year at some theaters? Do you remember that? Most movies now last a few weeks if they’re lucky. You didn’t ask your friends if they saw it. You asked them how many times.

Don’t forget Yoda.

5/23/2007 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob said,
“At best, they become an epicure or an aesthete who is often reduced to making ultra-fine distinctions in the realm of what displeases him, to the point that the capacity for true innocent pleasure is lost.”

I work 5 feet from this person.

She is now trying to convince me that I shouldn’t like the pizza that I...hmmm...oddly seem to enjoy.

5/23/2007 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "Thus, "the humanism of the moderns is practically a utilitarianism aimed at fragmentary man"

As usual, the proregressives have tried their best to swipe the name, keep the stature associated with it, toss out all that it always meant, while stuffing it with their worthless bric a brac.

I wouldn't take a hundred splintered Derida's for a single and whole Cicero. What's really awful, is that the Humanities courses used to be the rigorous classes that students dreaded. Assignments and essays had to be orderly, sensible, and pass muster from a Professor who knew the material thoroughly. There were no "Moby Dick's tail symbolized all meaning in the universe"(LOL!) would have been pegged as a Whale of a tale, and no more.


"...we see the naked expression of this odiology in the fanatical environmentalism of Al Gore and other greenhouse gasbags, who believe that we are here to serve the earth rather than vice versa" Yeaahhh! You know, I think that if I were a troll, I'd still hang out here just for the fun of picking up all the puns & neadholes!

5/23/2007 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ricky Raccoon said "You didn’t ask your friends if they saw it. You asked them how many times."

And waiting in lines that went around the theater in 115* Vegas heat, that was saying something!

And then driving home from the theater in my best friend David's '69 Mustang - it was just amazing how much it resembled the Millenium Falcon! It stirred up much that had grown dusty within, I do remember that.

('Once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia')

5/23/2007 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Modern secular liberalism has rather ancient roots -- it is fundamentally Gnostic: emphasizing knowledge over character and morals, detaching action from ideas, profoundly pessimistic. I discussed the parallels in greater depth here several years ago.

Fundamentally, Gnosticism substitutes mind for spirit, and is therefore incapable of overcoming the evil in human nature -- and in fact tends itself toward greater evil, as you pointed out.

5/23/2007 11:55:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Ricky said:
"She is now trying to convince me that I shouldn’t like the pizza that I...hmmm...oddly seem to enjoy"

OMG! Talk about someone who really, really, really needs to get a life.

And I'll bet she thinks her efforts mean something special, like she's doing you a favor or saving you.

Complete surplus-society horses**t.

Only someone who is confident they'll never go hungry could possibly be this idiotic & profoundly, stupidly clueless.

5/24/2007 04:05:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

ximeze: I do draw the line at lite beer though.

I'm not picky though - eating at a college cafeteria for four years cured me of that.

5/24/2007 05:16:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Walt said "...and I only wish there were more with your outlook."

And that's where I can now answer - there are. Many more.

I'm no pollyanna. I can be biter and pessimistic as well - only lately, even with the MSM as it is, it is less and less. I'm nearing Whittles post that JulieC ref'd the other day, and it looks like he sees it too.

You remember the commercial that ran after 911, showed a neighborhood street, the narrator says 'terrorists sought to change America' then it shows the same street with flags out in front of all the houses & says "they did". That touched on what is driving the leftists nuts. Sure those streets are mostly back to how they were - temporary emotional reactions pass, that's normal - for us. What drove the leftists nuts, and what they soon began deriding as 'now that you've put your flag out, what are you going to do?', was the fact that the flag still exists within all those people. It's still there, and they thought they'd killed that. They really did.

The other thing that drives them nuts, is that we've gone back to our normal lives. No nationwide burden of sacrifice. Infuriating! Not that they'd want to sacrifice, not even, but they'd hoped to be in charge of defining what was to be sacrificed, and more importantly, to collect the sacrifices! But there are none. We've actually prospered since!

And most galling of all to them, and most inspiring and telling of all - the much lamented gen x'rs, y'rs, next'rs, lost'rs - are voluntarily enlisting in the military. Voluntarily! You can't fudge another vietnam anarchic rebellion with volunteers! WTF!. The flag is still there, and not only is it cloth waving, it's blood stiring. And spilling, yes, horribly true, and there is the true sacrificing that's going on, but even so, it's not stopping the inner waving. I see these kids, day in and day out. My oldest intends to be on of them next year, and believe me, that gets your blood pumping at a chilled temperature, but they are volunteering. For the first time in history, the Remnant is able to see that they are not alone - and not only not alone, but apparently existing in isolation in huge numbers.

Can't stress it enough. Speak out in small gatherings and parties when some assumptive lefty troll cracks on Bush or America. Calmly & methodically call them on it, and be sure to laugh at them as well. An incredibly powerful weapon.

And of course, be a Raccoon. Do that, and we won't let it go.

5/24/2007 05:28:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ximeze said "Only someone who is confident they'll never go hungry could possibly be this idiotic & profoundly, stupidly clueless."

No kidding. And against Pizza. Pizza! How can any self respecting person put down pizza! Verbally or physically!

Poor, poor Greeks, they only had Ambrosia - we, we lucky few, we have Pizzzzzzaaahhhh!!!

mmmMMBWAH-HAHAA-AHHH!!!!

5/24/2007 05:32:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Van, you are on a *roll.* :D

Dr. Bob, I read your entry and also your latest. Great stuff! Blogrolled you so I can come back later. Thanks!

5/24/2007 05:40:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Susannah said "Dr. Bob, I read your entry and also your latest. Great stuff!"

Hey Dr. Bob! I didn't realize you were that Dr. Bob! You had a post many moons ago,"Apollyon Appears"(I think?), that Van Der Leun linked to & through some comment links, I think that's how I first found my way here... so... Thanks!

5/24/2007 06:08:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Being smart is very useful. I just read this morning in a Norwegian science magazine about some fish that evidently mastered logic. When a male fish had lost a fight with another male, and then saw that other fish losing a fight, he avoided the new winner, thus demonstrating that fish understand IF A IS LESS THAN B AND B LESS THAN C THEN A IS LESS THAN C. Now to enroll them at university. We might need more fish tanks, but we should now be able to label them Think Tanks.

5/24/2007 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger juliec said...

Magnus - LOL!

Dr. Bob - thanks for the link to your post. I don't visit your site nearly often enough; I'll have to change that. Also, I loved the two comments in response to that article. The first one demonstrated your point quite neatly, I thought.

5/24/2007 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Walt,

I enjoyed what you had to say. I wonder, and this question is for all "coons" in coonland: Does one have to defend George Bush to be considered a "coon"?

5/24/2007 08:12:00 AM  
Anonymous joseph said...

Ooops,
Sorry, that question should have been directed to Van...

5/24/2007 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger MEANA55 said...

Bob,

A couple of things:

1. Thanks for this post and your blog. It's been a daily read for me for a few months now.

2. The musician's quote you referenced about ugly music is from Artie Shaw, and the object of his observation was the then-contemporary jazz. I think I saw the quote on Powerline.

3. The following thought about intelligence is pretty well restricted to the horizontal, but I'm curious to know what you might think of it: It has been my observation that the magnitude and direction of the difference between a person's actual capacity to reason and his self-perception of his intelligence are the most useful indicators of how much of a problem that person is going to be. Nearly all of the difficulties in life are visited unto us by those who delusionally overestimate their reasoning capacities.

4. A metaphorical minor observation (this time not so restricted to the horizontal) on coolness: In a footrace in the horizontal world, also-rans vastly outnumber the few winners. "Cool" is how some runners back in the pack can suddenly declare an alternate finish line during the race and have the charisma needed to attract enough followers to mask the inherent ridiculousness of doing so.

Thanks again for your blogging!

-Mike

5/24/2007 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Joseph said "... question is for all "coons" in coonland: Does one have to defend George Bush to be considered a "coon"?"

Defend? I don't think so... perhaps not denigrate for absurd reasons? There is much... let me try that again, much I disagree with Bush on, but that he's Indecent, evil, stupid, greedy, hateful, conspirator, dufus tool of Darth Cheney or Emperor Rove? Those kind of sentiments do tend to bring out the urge to whackatroll, and I suppose to defend Bush, but in the way I'd defend anybody from Scurrilious insults - less to do with Bush, than the nature of the attack and attacker.

5/24/2007 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

MeanA55 said "A metaphorical minor observation (this time not so restricted to the horizontal) on coolness: In a footrace in the horizontal world, also-rans vastly outnumber the few winners. "Cool" is how some runners back in the pack can suddenly declare an alternate finish line during the race and have the charisma needed to attract enough followers to mask the inherent ridiculousness of doing so."

hmmm... I think I'd label that as Spin and Hucksterism. My use of "Cool" yesterday was some tongue-in-cheek and hurried, but to continue it, I think that in your example, 'Cool' would be the guy who finishes 5th, isn't upset, congrats the winner "Veery nice run Man, well done", isn't sweating, and as the Race Queen bathing beauty puts the wreath around the winner, she's trying to keep an eye on the cool guy hoping to get to him before the others do.

That would be the ideal of 'Cool'... unfortunately it can be culturaly redefined to become just as you described, and if and when everyone wants to be like that type of 'cool', well... that just ain't Cool.

5/24/2007 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

MeanA55 said "It has been my observation that the magnitude and direction of the difference between a person's actual capacity to reason and his self-perception of his intelligence are the most useful indicators of how much of a problem that person is going to be."

Leaving Reality out of the feedback loop, is a guarantee of disaster for anybody, and the defining philosophical characteristic of Leftist thought.

5/24/2007 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger MEANA55 said...

Van,

RE: "Cool". I am so sorry to have been unclear enough to have completely non-sequitur'd off of your response. My reference was to Bob's recounting of his rock band days and his recurring theme about the appeal of the anti-hero.

I agree with you completely that the problem with "cool" is that the real thing is too easily cheapened through "cultural interpretation", deconstruction, and ultimately, cargo-cult-like confusion of the trappings for the quality itself.

The funny thing about this is that there is nothing wrong with popularity or with following charisma. The challenge is keeping the right goal popular and discerning between the leaders who will get you there and the pretenders.

-Mike

5/24/2007 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

MEANA55 said... "RE: "Cool". I am so sorry to have been unclear enough to have completely non-sequitur'd off of your response..."

Lol - no problem, liked the rest of your comment.

;-)

5/24/2007 11:51:00 AM  

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