Monday, November 12, 2007

The Adventure of Reality and How to Avoid It

As Mead exhaustively demonstrates in God and Gold, the Anglo-Americans have been by far the most successful people in the history of the planet. You could go so far as to say that they even "invented" success, which is to say, "progress." Before the 17th century or so, the world was essentially static, going nowhere. There was no democracy, no science, no free market, and no freedom of inquiry. The vast majority of people lived their lives as anonymous peasants or slaves performing back-breaking work, and were lucky to live to the age of 40, by which time their worn out bodies would be "old" by our standards. War, famine, and plague were either present or on the horizon. Rates of infant mortality were appalling, so there was little point in emotionally investing in children until it was too late.

That is, we now understand that a deep emotional investment during the first two years of life is the most critical for psychological health later in life. Its absence leaves permanent scars, including depression and emptiness, unregulated anger, shame and envy, paranoia and distrust of the world, and inability to establish emotionally rewarding bonds of love with others. Thus, in my opinion, mankind was in a deep rut, a vicious cycle of dysfunctional cultures producing dysfunctional people, century in, century out. (This is explained in more detail in my book.)

Today we look at, say, the Palestinians, and see a comprehensively depraved and dysfunctional people, unable to evolve out of their deep rut. But they probably wouldn't have been out of place 500 years ago, when most groups were angry, murderous, paranoid, self-defeating, and prone to magical thinking (not to mention, anti-Semitic). The only difference is that they probably would have been much more successful in such a context, given their homicidal ruthlessness.

So when I say that the Anglo-Americans both discovered and created reality, I am being quite literal. And please don't cite all the exceptions to the rule. Of course there are bad Anglo-Americans and good and decent people from other cultures. Of course Anglo-Americans have perpetrated some awful things. But that is not because they are Anglo-Americans. It is because they are fallen human beings. Immorality is the rule in history; it hardly needs explanation. Decency is the exception; thus, people are puzzled by "the problem of evil," when the much deeper coonundrum is the problem of good.

The question is, how did human beings ever escape the enduring rut they had been in for so many centuries? The whole notion of progress didn't exist, because it wasn't something that anyone had personally experienced in their lives. Rather, change was almost always bad, so the natural impulse was to try to prevent or suppress it.

Perhaps I shouldn't say "natural" impulse; or at least we have to admit of a counter-impulse in the direction of novelty and adventure, or else we never could have escaped the rut. Humans are obviously equipped with both impulses, and the idea is to balance them, not exaggerate one or the other. You might even say that we are born with "conservative" and "liberal" impulses, not in the political sense, but in the sense of a dialectic between security and adventure, established knowledge and curiosity, closed stasis and open dynanism, boundaries and drives.

When we speak of the impulse toward curiosity and adventure, consider the original human beings who ventured out of Africa some 50,000 years ago, or whenever it was (the exact date escapes me at the moment, but I do remember that it was on a Tuesday). Originally we were a tiny band of oddballs numbering perhaps 5000 or less. For reasons we can scarcely imagine, these explorers decided to venture out of Africa, and keep venturing -- north, east, and west, then further west until there was no place to go but up and now in. From our vantage point, we can see that, all along, this has been an adventure -- no, the Adventure of Consciousness.

But obviously, there have been roadblocks and obstacles along the way -- personal, collective, cultural, economic, bacterial, viral, genetic, psychological, political, educational, religious, ideological.

Today, for the average person privileged to live in the West, none of these roadblocks exist, with the exception of the personal/psychological. If your life is not an adventure of consciousness, then it's most likely your own damn fault. Or even if it's not, then there is plenty you can do about it. You can change. You can progress. You can grow.

Unless you are still imprisoned in a culture or ideology untouched by Anglo-American ideals. Let's again take the example of the Palestinians. Let's say there is a Palestinian who actually wishes to be good. He would prefer to live in freedom, and he does not wish to murder Jews as the universal solution to all of life's problems. Practically speaking, this is not something he is free to articulate publicly, let alone choose. Palestinian savagery toward Jews is perhaps only exceeded by what they do to their own "collaborators." In a morally twisted culture such as the Palestinians, one is simply not free to be good, which is an awful catch-22 to be in. Those necessarily silent people, whoever they are, certainly deserve our sympathy.

Now, the West has its own version of a dysfunctional ideology that puts up obstacles to personal development and which runs counter to the Adventure of Consciousness: the psycho-spiritual left in all its insidious varieties and permutations. Let's take an example that comes readily to mind, the attempt to shackle black people in a cognitive prison in which they are indoctrinated to believe that their greatest obstacles are not within, but without. In spite of all empirical evidence to the contrary, condescending leftists try to indoctrinate blacks with the notions that they are hated and despised, that personal effort is futile, and that they will get nowhere in life without the assistance of white liberals.

As such, to a leftist, there is no one more hated than a black person who not only proves them wrong, but who has contempt for them in return.

For example, Clarence Thomas, without a doubt one of the greatest and most courageous living Americans.

A recent article by Shelby Steel in National Review calls him "The Freest Black Man in America." Steel's essential argument is that blacks have become so accustomed to living by the kindness of white liberal racists, that it has become a sort of addiction. Of so-called "civil rights leaders" who reinforce the same dependency that segregation imposed, he writes that "In the very bowels of slavery there was never a more egregious form of Uncle Tomism than this determination, even in the midst of freedom, to portray one's own people as nearly helpless victims.... There simply could be no greater threat to civil rights organizations than the themes that most animate Thomas's life: individuality and will." Another way of saying it is that the left erodes individuality by equating the will with futility, so that the adventure of consciousness can never get off the ground

By the way, Steel does not argue that blacks have no reason for having this attitude; rather, he emphasizes that it was a strategy born of centuries of group impotence and intense insecurity. But as a result, this historically meant that group identity became the enemy of individuality: "In its insecurity, the group is naturally threatened by the impulse in some of its members to think for themselves. Individuals like this seem to put the group at risk." Steel writes that it is as if the group is saying, "Your indulgence in individuality jeopardizes the carefully constructed mask we present to the powerful majority. Your individuality collaborates with them. So knock it off. Get in line, or we will shun you to the point of extinction."

Thus, white and black leftists do not, as do the Palestinians, physically lynch such an individual. But they do so psychologically. That is, they engage in gang rape of a person's good name and reputation, as they did and still do with Thomas. And as Dennis Prager has eloquently written, the rape of a name can be as emotionally devastating as the rape of a body, and is every bit as despicably immoral.

Indeed, because of the issue of abortion, Thomas essentially became the "poor black man nailed to the cross by wealthy white women." This was the price he paid for his individuality by virtue of stepping outside their liberal racist stereotype -- for straying off the plantation. He was still free to be an individual and do the right thing. But because of liberal racists, taking advantage of that freedom required much more courage than most of us will likely ever need.

14 Comments:

Anonymous dloye said...

Bang.. sunk that nail in one whopping hit. Money quotes all over the place! Thanks.

11/12/2007 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yet another demonstration that democracy without liberty, a republic, and most importantly the cultural maturity to back it up is simply tyranny by a different name.

On a completely unrelated note, Smoov, you might like Eric Whitacre (it's a flash-based website; on the left side, click on the little lightning bolt to turn off the weather, click the mp3 player, and scroll down to "Lux Aurumque"). The sound is like an audio version of the paintings of Paul Jenkins, or maybe stained glass dancing on ocean waves. Anyway, I thought you or some of the other raccoons might enjoy it.

11/12/2007 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

Joshua Holland
demonstrates the mordacity of the Left for turning on a black woman and engaging in gang rape.

11/12/2007 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Of course there are bad Anglo-Americans and good and decent people from other cultures. Of course Anglo-Americans have perpetrated some awful things. But that is not because they are Anglo-Americans. It is because they are fallen human beings. Immorality is the rule in history; it hardly needs explanation. Decency is the exception; thus, people are puzzled by "the problem of evil," when the much deeper coonundrum is the problem of good."

Hardly needs explanation... unless you happen to believe in the RueSowian dream of the happy-happy joy-joy Noble Savage, where there is no immorality other than what is introduced by conservative traditions and restraints.

"...the much deeper coonundrum is the problem of good." which is similar to the error my fellow geeks make with thinking that they can program a deterministic intelligence that will be able to think.

Getting a computer to appear to 'think' isn't going to be the problem, getting a computer to be able to be Wrong, to make an error in the human sense, and to choose to make an error. Do that, and I'll be impressed.

"If your life is not an adventure of consciousness, then it's most likely your own damn fault."

Yes indeedy.

11/12/2007 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

"It is because they are fallen human beings."

I Came Upon a Child of God
arc of salvation
snaking back to the garden
bad dog on a leash

11/12/2007 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Steve Chandler said...

"If your life is not an adventure of consciousness, then it's most likely your own damn fault. Or even if it's not, then there is plenty you can do about it. You can change. You can progress. You can grow."

THIS is what your blog does for me; the adventure is begun.

11/12/2007 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm...but I have noticed, particularly in sports and music, that the blacks aren't about the team but rather glorify the juke and jive (You see that move???maaaannn!), ie., the individual performance...it appears that it isn't about the game (team) or song(words and meaning), it's about the performance by the individual, and rules, team standings and songwriters intent, be damned. So how does that correlate with mr. Steel???

11/12/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Narcissism is merely a tawdry imitation of true individuality. You're conflating the two. It's as P.J. O'Rourke says: you can be assured ahead of time that someone covered in tattos and festooned with piercings won't have an original thought in his head. On the other hand, Raccoons, who are intrinsically interesting, tend to blend in with their surroundings.

11/12/2007 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Premium post today, Bob! This deserves a broad audience (as does a broad audience deserve it).

I wonder if, in part, it is our "adventure of consciousness" that makes us so exciting to God. Think of how exciting the adventures of our own children are to us.

wv: yqufs (keepin' it simple)

11/12/2007 05:47:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Yes, many bohemian types are shallowly predictable and boring. Excessive blunt smoking has a way of narrowing ones grasp and communication of the universe to a sophomoric dysphemia. And I'm NOT speaking of people from the western part of the Czech Republic.

11/12/2007 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

If you've ever been confined in close quarters with... oh... say the members of a rock band, driving 400 miles across the desert ('on a horse with no name'... sorry, just popped out) in a van, for hours on end - three things you can be certain of:

1 - The healthy ones (healthy, in a relative, musician sense) will find a way to make the trip something you'll tell stories about for years.
2 - The glory hogs, those afflicted with lead singer syndrome and so forth, will complain ad nauseum until the others assure them that their life IS in danger.
3 - Unable to strut or draw attention to themselves, they will sulk in a whirlpool of boredom.

Steer clear of them, or they'll suck you in.

11/12/2007 09:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Talkinkamel said...

Bob, a book I think you might find interesting in "Christianity on Trial---arguments against anti-religious bigotry" by Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett. It not only talks about anti Judeo/Christian prejudice, but also gives an interesting, and quite non-traditional, overview of Christianity's history, and its influence on science, society, the abolition of slavery and how it is connected to the foundation of the west (and, hence, anglo-America.)

11/13/2007 07:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Jacob C. said...

Kamel: Pish tosh! Who would ever believe that Christianity could be a positive influence?

11/13/2007 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Before the 17th century or so, the world was essentially static, going nowhere.

I am sympathetic to much of what you have to say. But this is just an astonishing overstatement. Unless you mean by "or so" to mean off by 20 centuries.

Um, Venetian City-State? The Byzantine Empire, a/k/a, the Eastern Roman Empire? The 12th Century Italian Renaissance (not the later, more famous one)?

Progress has been slow and intermittent, and certainly less rapid than now.

11/19/2007 11:30:00 AM  

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