Human Normalcy and the Top 45 Conservative Songs of All Time
It is interesting to me how many of you instantly understood my brief aside about the dark spirit of the 1960's and its damaging effect on the soul, both individually and collectively. I wasn't even sure that anyone would appreciate my point, but many of you obviously did. This issue is so deep, that I'm not sure I can formulate my thoughts about it yet. We are still so immersed in much of the abnormality of that time, that it is sometimes difficult to see it.
It is like the proverbial fish that has no way of knowing that it lives and moves in a watery medium, and that there are other beings who move in a gaseous one. I am aware of the fact that it caused very real damage to me, if only in the form of a lot of precious time that I can never get back. Time is all we have, and if we do not use it wisely, we have wasted our lives and ultimately squandered eternity. I feel as if I am still catching up with things that should have been foundational to my being.
The spirit of the 1960's basically obliterated the human foundation and called it "liberation." But it is a false and destructive liberation that is not rooted in rock solid reality -- which is to say, our transcendent source. It is like living without gravity (both literally and figuratively). Without it, there is nothing to push off of, no way to vault yourself upward. You can try to spring yourself this way or that, but you're just fooling yourself. Ultimately, you are just drifting in an existential vacuum. What is most striking about so many people today is that they are simply "adrift." Without their hostility to those of us who are not adrift, they would have nothing whatsoever to push off of and "know where they stand." Our trolls are an obvious case in point. They are reactionary to the core (or absence thereof).
It's one thing to not realize that you live in the water. But what if you've spent your entire life swimming around in polluted water? In such a case, you would sense that something is wrong, but you would have no way to know what it is. I think this is a pretty apt analogy as applied to our existential situation. So much modern philosophy is a reaction to the abnormal conditions of the murky, unhealthy water in which modern man swims. Therefore, it is a prescription based upon an inaccurate diagnosis.
All forms of leftism fall into this category, for not only do they give the incorrect diagnosis and treatment, but the treatment always aggravates the underlying condition it is trying to cure. In the end, it will only result in more polluted water and more soul-sickness. At this time in our history, I truly don't know how much murkier the water can get and still be consistent with human survival. Or, we may survive physically, but the human being will not survive, because there will simply be no cultural conditions in which the human soul may nourish and articulate itself. Here again, you will either understand exactly what I am talking about, or you will have no idea what I am talking about. It all depends upon your ability to perceive the water we are swimming in.
And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God. (Rev 22:1)
In fact, the only way we can perceive the abnormality is to reconnect with what is normal, but doing so requires a considerable amount of.... I don't know if "courage" is the right word, but you must be extremely secure in your beliefs, and you must be willing to stand out from the group and risk rejection and ridicule. As I have mentioned before, human "groupishness" long preceded the emergence of true human individuality, and 99% of human evolution took place in an archaic environment in which the group took precedence over the individual. Therefore, human beings have many built-in evolutionary tendencies that we must actively counter in order to be spiritually "normal," one of which is the desire to "fit in" and sacrifice our individuality to the group (and leftsim begins and ends with our primitive groupishness).
Another way of saying it is that we have many traits that are biologically or genetically "normal," but humanly abnormal. Much of religion, in its more conventional, exoteric sense (which I am not in any way belittling) involves teaching us what is normal for our created self, or soul. A perfect example is the Ten Commandments, as we were discussing a couple of weeks ago. None of the commandments are "normal" in the Darwinian sense. Rather, if we were to assemble a list of Darwinian commandments, it would be very short -- perhaps as few as two: 1) survive, by any means necessary, and 2) reproduce, by any means necessary. That's pretty much it, is it not? At best, you could extend it a bit to possibly include some superficially altruistic behaviors, but they would ultimately have to link back to the survival of one's genetic line.
That in itself is a critical idea: that there are cultural arrangements and attitudes that are normative for human beings. The source of these is not found "below," but "above." It is not genetic, but archetypal. We have a human past which is genetic, below, and behind, and a human future that is archetypal, above, and ahead. Spirituality allows us to be drawn into the attractor of our true self, which is located in the "future," but is in reality outside space and time-- to requote Schuon, The purpose of freedom is to enable us to choose what we are in the depths of our heart.
A couple of days ago I was idly channel surfing and caught a bit of Christopher Hitchens on the Daily Show, promoting his new book, God is Not Great. As much as I respect his unwavering support of our war against Islamic fascism, he strikes me as having a pretty malevolent soul. Or perhaps it's just me. Or, to be completely fair, one of us is not just wrong, but probably nuts. It is for others to decide who.
Please bear in mind that when I say this, I say it in a very dispassionate and matter-of-fact way. Please do not picture in your head some religious nut screaming from the pulpit. But there is such a sinister darkness to devoting the gift of one's considerable intelligence to mock, ridicule, and undermine intelligence itself, that one cannot help pointing out the obvious.
I also couldn't help thinking about what it might be like to debate him on the issue, even though it is something I would never consider doing (nor would I ever be asked), the reason being that metaphysical stupidity -- even a kind of broad intellectual buffoonery -- has all the advantages in such a situation. After all, that is why you can discuss such "ideas" with lightweights such as Jon Stewart or Larry King or Chris Matthews and be completely at home. Hitchens has no religious ideas that cannot be understood by an 8th grade mind, but almost nothing of what we discuss here could be so understood. In short, I will admit up front that I am not a trained debater and that I would lose any such debate -- unless it were in the form of writing, in which I could not lose, but then, he would have no way to realize this, so there would be no point.
In any event, there is no way to have a serious discussion about a serious subject with a spiritually frivolous person who necessarily has only frivolous ideas about the subject. What kind of person would react to the death of a great soul such as John Paul II by dismissing him as "an elderly and querulous celibate who came too late and who stayed too long"? What a thing to think, let alone, say.
Probably not fair to quote wikipedia, since it may or may not be accurate, but it says that Hitchens "no longer considers himself a Trotskyist or even a socialist; yet he maintains that his political views have not changed significantly. He points out that, throughout his career, he has been both an atheist and an antitheist" -- in other words, he is not just indifferent to God, but aggressively antagonistic. Being that he comes across as a generally angry and antagonistic man (which might just be an act for TV, for all I know), it would be fruitless to debate him on substance unless one first identified the unconscious source of his reactionary hostility toward God. It is probably safe to say that the same emotional, irrational factors in his soul that attracted him to Marxism account for the religious hostility, because such impulses are way "below" the level of the conscious intellect. Rather, intellect simply serves its unconscious master. IQ is completely irrelevant to the uses to which intelligence will be put. That will be determined by one's conscious values or by unconscious factors, not by one's intelligence.
As I have mentioned before, although I was on the left when I was younger, it was only because it was the cultural water everyone swam in back then, before there were any other sources of information -- talk radio, the internet, etc. I literally did not know a conservative, let alone a conservative intellectual. True, my father had a conservative inclination -- as indeed all basically normal people do -- but he was not an intellectual, and could not have really articulated his beliefs in any systematic way. Plus, he probably voted Democrat half the time, which it was possible for a "conservatively inclined" person to do back then. This is no longer conceivable. There are undoubtedly some normal older people who are basically Democrat out of habit, but to be a dailykos/huffpo type person, you have to be rather frighteningly abnormal.
It's also hard to know whether the drinking is just part of Hitchens' TV schtick, like Dean Martin. The wiki article says he "admits to drinking heavily; in 2003 he wrote that his daily intake of alcohol was enough 'to kill or stun the average mule.' He noted that many great writers 'did some of their finest work when blotto, smashed, polluted, shitfaced, squiffy, whiffled, and three sheets to the wind.'" That's true, but the same thing cannot be said of any great theologian, as it is simply a psychological truism that "spirits" are a substitute for Spirit (I use the word "theologian" in its orthodox sense, not as someone who just writes or thinks about God, but who knows God; there can really be no valid theology without mysticism and vice versa). So take what you will from a heavy drinker trying to write something true about God.
Hmm. I didn't mean to get sidetracked into a discussion of the state of Christopher Hitchens' soul. Rather, the point I was about to develop is that, unless there is normalcy, there can be no deviancy. Unless there is health, there can be no pathology.
And pathology itself is an interesting idea, since it introduces an undeniable element of teleology into the human condition. What does it mean to be normal? If we seriously examine this question, I believe we will discover that the essence of leftism is an assault on the very assumptions underlying this question. Not only cannot it not be answered, but one is not allowed to ask the question. But I think I'll ask it anyway in tomorrow's post.
Speaking of conservatism and normalcy, I assembled a new Finetunes list, The 45 Greatest Conservative Songs. It's not actually definitive. Rather, they were just picked off the top of my head, and I am sure there are better ones I haven't thought of. In fact, feel free to come up with your own.
The songs emphasize a number of themes, such as unapologetic love or appreciation of America and its traditional values (including one by a well known God-and-America-hater); tributes to freedom, low taxes, maturity, and independence from obtrusive government and illegitimate authority in general; a pro-Israel song by the famous ex-leftist, Bob Dylan; an ode to the type of manly and normal Democrat who basically no longer exists except for maybe one Joe; tributes to the virtues of hard work with no complaining; a bum who is proud of the fact (and who would never pose as a "homeless" victim); a few songs about the cruelties of communism and socialism by David Bowie, Scott Walker, Creedence, and others; an anti-drug song by a guitar god from Austin, Texas; a lighthearted look at capital punishment by an American icon; a couple of attacks on the welfare state; an anti-Islam number; a song about military life by the King; and some noteworthy contributions by blacks who refuse to be victims of white liberals.
(The set list is here. I believe you can fast-forward to the next song there by hitting "play" again.)