In the Wake of the Impossible Dream
In honor of the simmering soulstice, I think I'll just pluck something from exactly one year ago and see if it still has any relevance. Frankly, I write these things in such a daze that when I go back and review them, it's almost as if someone else wrote them and I'm reading them for the first time. I've added a few additional thoughts as they occurred to me.
Which reminds me of one of Bion's books, Second Thoughts. Between the 1950s and mid-1960s, Bion underwent some sort of profound transformation in which he changed from being an ordinary, if gifted, psychoanalyst, into an unorthodox visionary mystic philosopher. The book is a collection of scholarly essays written by his old self, looked at from the perspective of his new self. Thus, "second thoughts" has a double meaning, in that one naturally has second thoughts about things written by a self that is effectively dead and no longer exists except insofar as the tracks left on the printed page.
In a way, it is as if one has the responsibility of being one's own literary executor. The first half of Second Thoughts presents the essays, while the second half is a commentary in which Bion essentially deconstructs himself, almost as if -- no, exactly as if -- the earlier Bion were "dream material" presented for the purposes of the later Bion's analysis.
For most people, they don't undergo sufficient growth in their lifetime for this to be an issue. I was thinking about this the other day, when I made the comment about my own past being so radically disconnected from my present. Further thoughts along these lines were provoked by Will's interview of Mrs. G.... about which I'm starting to get a little jealous. I wish he'd interview me! I want some attention!
Anyway -- shh! please be quiet -- F.L. is over there, actually amusing himself, so I have a moment to develop a thought -- as I was about to say, one of the downsides of radical change is that it necessarily creates a kind of alienation -- from one's past, from previous relationships, from the culture, from any number of things. One dies to the world, and with it, one's previous self. Through the mid-1990s I had undergone a lot of change, but I was still more or less myself. I could draw a continuous if winding road from there to here.
Looked at from this angle, I can understand why so many of my generational cohort of baby boomers are so stuck in the progressive past. They're all still basically caught up in the dream of the 1960s, with no new self to critique the dream -- which is why the dream turned into a nightmare. I was about to say that my generation has got to be the most un-introspective and un-self aware in American history, but I suppose it happens with every generation, which has difficulty seeing outside its own narrow reality tunnel.
This came up just yesterday with the bulletin about how 90% of the journalists who give financial support to political candidates are leftists. At the same time, these people are so clueless that they don't even know how biased they are. Ignorance is one thing, but unconscious ignorance masquerading as sophistication is another thing entirely. But that's our MSM: self-congratulating unreflective ignorance on stilts. Increasingly they just speak to themselves, ensuring their own lack of growth -- like an animal that tries to live on its own excrement.
To the extent that you have undergone significant growth, you must necessarily look back at your past and cringe at the moronic things you thought, said, wrote, and did. You must interpret the dream from the standpoint of being awake. It's painful, in part because one must essentially "write off" a good portion of one's life as having essentially been a waste -- if not actually harmful -- or at best, a series of inevitable lessons, given the inclinations and architecture of one's particular soul. One did one's best with the knowledge and materials at hand.
But the New York Times still proudly displays the Pultizer Prize awarded to Walter Duranty, who was Stalin's greatest mouthpiece in the West. Rather than speaking Truth to Evil, the Times was the latter's stenographer. But do they have any "second thoughts?" Obviously not. The left hasn't undergone sufficient growth to be capable of that kind of self-reflection.
For the left, nothing changes, since leftism is an abstract pseudo-religion uninfluenced by the ravages of time. Indeed, that is one of its central appeals. It is "effective" not in the world, but in the soul, so to speak. That is to say, like Islamism, it is believed because of the transformative -- even intoxicating -- effect on the personality (emphasis on the toxic). I always think this while reading most any leftist writing: how intoxicated they are!
Ironic that they are at war with "faith," but real faith always questions. Because faith is faith, it can be questioned from both within and without. No one need accept faith to begin with, and once accepted, it can be constantly questioned from within. Not so leftist faith. From the beginning it has been confused with enlightenment values, hence the "science" of dialectical materialism and all its latter day descendents, including all of the major Democrat candidolts at war with true liberalism.
Hmm, this almost turned into a full post after all.
The devil [is] the humanized personification -- humanized on contact with man -- of the subversive aspect of the centrifugal existential power... --F. Schuon
What is it with these hostile powers? Why are they afflicting so many spiritually sensitive souls at this particular time? What do they want and when will they go away? Why am I and so many other cosmonaughts experiencing these bizarre dreams and inexplicable physical symptoms?
In World War II, millions of good men traveled to hell in order to fight the latest incarnation of evil. What was going on then -- not politically, but cosmically? No mere human psychology can explain the level of pure evil embodied in the Japanese and German governments that inflicted such infra-human brutality on their millions of victims.
[Update -- I recently got a refresher course on the demonic brutality of imperial Japan in the book A History of the English Speaking Peoples Since 1900, which, for some reason, is still not widely appreciated -- one more reason why the left can conflate what goes on at Gitmo or what happened at Abu Ghraib with "torture." In addition to being a disgraceful torture of language -- one of the left's specialites -- it's such a dishonor to the memory Americans (and Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders, and other English speaking peoples) who were hideously tortured by these monsters. For that matter, I'll bet one in a thousand leftists doesn't have any idea what actually went on in the real Gulags. One of the reasons it is so very dangerous for the left to be in control of the educational establishment and almost all mainstream organs of information dissemination is that leftism can only operate in the dark interstices of ignorance it first must create in order to thrive -- economic ignorance, spiritual ignorance, psychological ignorance, historical ignorance, etc.]
I just finished an excellent new history of the Cold War, and it is the same story. I mean that literally, for history itself is the same story. The drama of exterior or "horizontal" history can obscure the deeper reality of interior or "vertical" history. Outwardly it looked as if a “world war” had ended in 1945, but nothing could be further from the truth. Pure evil cannot surpass itself, but Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot (and now the Islamists) and others gave it their worst shot. And they did so not only largely “under the radar,” but aided and abetted at every step along the way by an elite anti-divine and anti-evolutionary spiritual movement called “the international left.”
Although atheistic, it must be emphasized that there is nothing unspiritual about these people, being that spirituality exists on a vertical axis that descends into a kind of "negative space" below the horizontal horizon. It is a dark "dream world," just as positive spirituality operates in a kind of light-filled dream world (the cosmos itself being the warp and weft of the cosmic Dreamer).
Thankfully, this movement did not fully insinuate itself into the Democrat party and hijack liberalism until the early 1970’s, so it posed no existential threat to our ability to name and extinguish evil, for evil cannot triumph so long as virtuous and courageous men can recognize it and mercilessly burn it from our midst.
But things are different today. Once again the same evil -- the same hideous death-worshipping ontological evil that lived through men like Mao, Hitler, Stalin, Tojo -- has now lodged itself into the heart of a religion and a region of the earth. But like any other parasite, the evil that animates this movement has adapted and learned from its mistakes. It knows that its only hope of success is to convince sophisticated and cultured men that it does not exist.
Perhaps you remember the absolute outrage among sophisticated leftists when Ronald Reagan acknowledged and named this evil exactly 25 years ago, in June of 1982. Not only did the left dismiss him as wrong, but, just like President Bush, he was regarded and reviled as the real source of evil in the world. You may think that we ultimately won that particular linguistic battle once and for all, but the opposite is true. As I have had occasion to mention before, the left learns nothing from history -- that is not its role in the cosmic drama. Rather, it exists to obscure those lessons, for they issued the identical howls of outrage when President Bush recognized and named the most recent incarnations of ontological evil.
Here is what President Reagan said, updated with some obvious edits. You tell me if the left wouldn’t react identically today if these words were uttered:
“I've often wondered about the shyness of some of us in the West about standing for the ideals that have done so much to ease the plight of man and the hardships of our imperfect world....
“If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. We see around us today the marks of our terrible dilemma -- predictions of doomsday, anti-American demonstrations, a terror war in which the West must, for its own protection, be an unwilling participant. At the same time we see totalitarian forces in the world who seek subversion and conflict around the globe to further their barbarous assault on the human spirit. What, then, is our course?... Must freedom wither in a quiet, deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil?
“We must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings....
“All the democracies paid a terrible price for allowing the dictators to underestimate us. We dare not make that mistake again. So, let us ask ourselves, ‘What kind of people do we think we are?’ And let us answer, ‘Free people, worthy of freedom and determined not only to remain so but to help others gain their freedom as well.’
“What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term -- the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Islamo-fascism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people....”
Those who lived through it well remember how Reagan was absolutely despised and reviled by the left. Their hatred of this particular speech was not the issue. Nor was Reagan himself the issue, any more than Hitler or Stalin were the issue. Reagan was simply a vehicle of much larger forces, and was opposed by the identical impersonal, anti-Divine forces that would oppose him today.
One again, our brave men are in hell, fighting satan. But the morally twisted left, which cannot recognize evil, sees the opposite. Dennis Prager routinely asks callers opposed to the liberation of Iraq if they can at least acknowledge one thing: that we are fighting evil. Not only will they not concede this point, but they are generally outraged and insulted by the question. Rather, America is the aggressor imposing its will on an occupied people.
Here is what a clear mind, uncontaminated by the toxic thinking of the left, sees:
“In the overheated exchanges that too often substitute for reasoned political discourse, definitions and distinctions can blur. But there is a huge difference between Coalition forces and the wanton, sociopath terrorist with no vestige of honor, who knows nothing but destruction and has no plan for the future other than the subjugation of others while on the path to some psychotic pathology inured by tribal culture and carcinogenic beliefs that will, if left untouched, leave people living in mud huts and slitting throats of historical enemies for another thousand years, or, if slightly more science-minded, leave them seeking nuclear weapons to reach out and destroy the world.
“We did not create this evil, although it does reveal itself more sharply by comparison in the presence of decent people. When the tactics of an enemy cross the line, sentient peoples recognize that they are no longer entitled to be called opposing forces, insurgents, freedom fighters, revolutionaries, or Jihadists -- they are terrorists....
"No living creature is safe while a rabid predator roams. No. Our people who have truly stared into the face of this terrorist demon have seen the ruby glow in its eyes. This is not a myth. This is not a politically contrived caricature, this demon is real. It usually stalks the easy prey -- children, women in crowds, families focused on prayer, rescue workers responding to people in need. Some terrorists manage to get our soldiers.”
But what I really wanted to touch on in this post was the nature and role of this ontological evil, and the effect it is having on spiritually sensitive souls at this particular time, as it wells up from the bowels of the earth-consciousness, opportunistically roaming about, looking for minds to colonize. I’ll have to get to that tomorrow.
There is another type of vibration, remarkable for its suddenness and violence; the seeker literally feels these vibrations swooping down upon him.... These are what Sri Aurobindo called the adverse forces. They are highly conscious forces whose sole aim, apparently, is to discourage the seeker and divert him from the path he has chosen. The first sign sign of their presence is easily perceptible: joy is clouded over, consciousness is clouded over, everything becomes shrouded in an atmosphere of tragedy....
Thus there is kind of threshold to cross if we want to find the true life force behind the troubled life of the frontal man. --Satprem