The Bestialization of Intelligence
Life at the center is exchanged for life at the periphery. It is as if we are trapped below a sheet of ice: “Mistaking the ice that imprisons us for Reality, we do not acknowledge what it excludes and experience no desire for deliverance; we try to compel the ice to be happiness” (Schuon). A strange new world is created, built from the bottom up rather than the top down. But since this barren world contains no real Truth, it cannot satisfy the exiled soul, which begins its endless quest for greater thrills and excitement to fill the void. New. More. Faster. Rage Against the Machine -- not up, but further down and out, where only one last barrier remains: blasphemy and destruction, or nihilism in action.
The Vital Beings are the ones who do not wish to recover their humanity and who are fully at home in this alien world. Breaking through the ice would involve surpassing themselves, the one thing the vital man is loath to do. For he loves the world with all his heart, all his soul, and all his mind -- which is precisely to lack heart, soul and mind, or at least to deny their provenance. It is to be “born again from below.”
Father Rose, who wrote his piece on nihilism in the late fifties, prior to the vast explosion in crime caused by lenient liberal social policies and a forgiving attitude toward evil, observed that “Crime in most previous ages had been a localized phenomenon and had apparent and comprehensible causes in the human passions of greed, lust, envy, jealousy, and the like; never has there been anything more than a faint prefiguration of the crime that has become typical of our own century, crime for which the only name is one the avant-garde today is fond of using in another Nihilist context: ‘absurd.’”
That is an excellent point, for the absurd sadism of so many contemporary crimes matches the absurdity of an art that celebrates ugliness or “authenticity” and an educational system that promulgates the lie that truth does not exist. When your elites spend several generations creating an absurd world, don’t be surprised if you end up with absurd people and meaningless crimes.
“When questioned, those apprehended for such crimes explain their behavior in the same way: it was an ‘impulse’ or an ‘urge’ that drove them, or it was a sadistic pleasure in committing the crime, or there was some totally irrelevant pretext, such as boredom, confusion, or resentment. In a word, they cannot explain their behavior at all, there is no readily comprehensible motive for it, and in consequence... there is no remorse.”
I just flipped on the news today, oh boy, while giving a bottle to His Majesty. A 22 year-old man arrested in Iowa for murdering his parents and three sisters. Family of four in Florida murdered. High school football players remove their helmets and use them as weapons to beat their opponents. In my own neck of the woods, a jealous boyfriend murdered his girlfriend's six year-old son with a meat cleaver.
As a brief aside, I remember studying film noir back in film school. The professor divided it into several sub-genres that evolved -- or devolved -- over the years, and which seemed to reflect the societal degeneration of which Father Rose speaks. I won’t get into a whole dissertation here, but early film noir such as Double Indemnity depicts a man who is pulled down into circumstances beyond his control due either to bad luck or some identifiable human motive such as greed or lust.
But in late film noir, the entire world has become corrupt, both the criminals and law enforcement. In fact, every human institution has become corrupt. In such a world, the antihero or outlaw becomes the hero with whom we identify. The corruption extends even into the family, which becomes a breeding ground for psychopaths, as in White Heat (starring James Cagney) or The Godfather saga. In these films, evil merely fights evil, so we inevitably find ourselves identifying with evil. There is no “good.” There are only hypocrites.
In the Real world, Spirit is substance, matter is accident. Spirit precedes matter, the latter of which is the final deustination of God’s involution into time and space. A corresponding world of the senses arises, but this shifting realm is hardly the world of ultimate reality. Rather, the uncorrupted intellect knows objective reality as the Spirit.
As mentioned in a previous post, a counter-religious movement gained steam in the 1950’s, led by the “Beats,” by confused psychoanalysts such as N.O. Brown, and by charming rogues such as Alan Watts or frank sociopaths such as Timothy Leary. Just as N.O. Brown wrote that repression was the essence of pathology and that we would live in a sort of eden if we would merely express our lower instincts in an unmediated way, the new age teachers created bastardized forms of zen and taoism to exalt “spontaneity” and “naturalism” so as to obscure the deeper desire to stay high and sleep with coeds under a veneer of spiritualism. (Ironically, Rose was a student of Watts at the Academy of Asian Arts in San Francisco in 1955.)
The human being has an animal nature which is not by definition beneath him. It only becomes so “when man renounces his humanity and fails to humanize what he shares with the animals” (Schuon). To humanize is to spiritualize, which is to “open the natural to the supernatural whence it proceeds ontologically.” In other words, this hardly represents repression, but a recovery of our true being. If anything, the uninhibited and shameless vital man represses his humanness, for one can just as easily repress what is higher as what is lower.
Interestingly, just as sexuality, in order to be properly human, must be spiritualized, Schuon notes that intellectual (i.e., spiritual) knowledge has an ecstatic dimension to it, if for no other reason that it is known with the heart (or "mind in the heart," the location of the higher mind): “There is a spiritualization of sexuality just as there is, conversely, an animalization of intelligence [what we are calling the vital mind]; in the first case, what can be the occasion of a fall becomes a means of elevation; in the second case, intelligence is dehumanized and gives rise to materialism, even existentialism, hence to ‘thinking’ which is human only in its mode and of which the content is properly subhuman.”
But then, these subhuman philosophies become the justification to fall further into vital animality and animal vitality. Postmodern philosophies absurdly use the spirit to deny the spirit, leaving us with a wholly horizontal wasteland of matter and instinct. This intellectual operation is a complete success, even though the patient -- the human qua human -- does not survive it. A new kind of infrahuman is born, forgetful of his fall and “at ease in a world that presents itself as an end in itself, and which exempts man from the effort of transcending himself ”-- which is to have shunned and bypassed our reason for being here.
The fall is nearly complete. But not before we drag this whole despiritualized existentialada down with us, which we will do tomorrow in discussing the final stage of the nihilist dialectic: destruction.