Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Shout-Outs From the O-->(k) Chorale

Just so it's clear, the semi-annual "throwing of the bones" to Dear Leader is not -- not only, to be exact -- a vain exercise in empty flattery or ego boosting. So long as it is not too over-the-top and doesn't cross a certain line into creepy idealization -- which is just the shadow of devaluation -- it serves a vital purpose. For when you think about it, your cosmic witness -- the amen from the Coon choir -- is the only way I can know if my writing is having the intended effect.

Yesterday I mentioned how a true musician -- as opposed to a mere technician -- is able to convey the "substance of music." It is impossible to say this without sounding grandiose, but when I write about spiritual matters, I am attempting in like fashion -- so to speak -- to convey the "substance of metaphysical truth," to the extent that I am able to do so. Now, trying to accomplish this and actually doing so are two very different things. Who knows? It may actually be impossible, even if it does make for a very compelling hobby. But since it is an experimental form of writing, the only way I can gauge the effect is through your fawning, er, objective feedback.

In other words, it is not enough to know that someone simply "agrees" with me. This is the usual a priori error of trolls who come here to start an argument. To be honest, to agree or disagree is in a certain sense to have missed the point. The point is that I am attempting to "reproduce" an experience -- not my exact experience, but your own experience. This is why "disagreeing" with me is to miss the point, but also why merely agreeing with me (i.e., being a subservient "racclone" or "Bobbist") might be even worse.

This is not intended to be a mere exercise in (k) on the mental plane, where knowledge can be passed from mind to mind in such a way that it does not change the object or subject of knowledge. In the case of the transfer of conventional (k), it can truly be said that the mind is more or less a bag full of stuff (speaking euphemistically). I do not sit here at 5:00 AM trying to come up with more stuff to put into your bag, which is already overflowing anyway. If anything, I would actually like to remove some of the stuff -- or perhaps to actually expand your bag, baby.

When you are in the realm of O-->(k), the instrument of knowing is transformed by the knowledge. To "know" something in this way is actually accompanied by an alteration in being. To take an extreme but illustrative example, Paul did not merely "learn" something on the road to Damascus. In fact, I was just rifling through my Bible in search of some more examples, but I can see that the Gospels are full of stories that reinforce the point about O-->(k). There are millions of people -- including many Christians -- who "rationalize" Jesus and reduce him to a sort of prophet who expressed some fine moral sentiments which they endorse. Here again, this is to have missed the point entirely -- the point being that Jesus is hardly conveying (k) or even O-->(k). Rather, if you are a Christian -- indeed, what defines you as Christian -- is that Jesus is O.

So it means little to me if someone simply agrees -- let alone disagrees -- with me. Imagine the absurdity of attending a musical performance, and instead of clapping, the audience yelled, "WE AGREE WITH THAT INTERESTING SEQUENCE OF CHORDS! DO IT AGAIN!" It means everything to me if we are all in this together, making a daily raid on the wild godhead and coming back with a little O-->(k). That is the point of the book and of the blog.

Here, this fine example just came in. Walt writes, "I find the political commentary very supportive, partly because I agree with the depth of your passionate opinions, and partly because I CAN -- i.e., they refer to something I already have 'organized.' But you add a twist, which is unique: presenting the politics as though aimed 'upward' at the vertical; always integrating the day-to-day with the higher, nudging us to 'think vertically' and showing the relevance of the one to the other." While I won't say I am not appreciative of the compliment, it means much more to me that Walt has had the experience of integrating the internal and external and being "nudged vertically." That makes my day.

Ricky Raccoon wrote, "I have never read a book that caused me so often to reread lines for more understanding and really for the pleasure they bring by just re-experiencing the message… or the re-awakening of messages I always had but didn’t realize I had them. I can’t quite describe the feeling of when things suddenly are shown to make ‘sense’. I can’t recall ever having written things in the margins for my own pleasure. My copy has my notes on nearly every page. Multiple notes on some pages." There you go. Provoking his kind of metaphysical disturbance is my fondest hope.

Most of the comments yesterday were in this vein. But you will notice that no one really made it about me. Rather, it was about their own O-->(k). In fact, even the troll who calls himself A Low Form of Life (and who sounds like Will putting us on) -- wrote quite eloquently of a powerful experience in what might be called "upside down O-->(k)," or envy of O. Even if he is not real, he actually articulates a certain very real, "anti-Divine" mind parasite that afflicts many people. Imagine that he's not addressing me, but God: "I feel compelled to oppose you. I read every day, hoping that you'll make a mistake so that I can put you down. I want you to hurt like me. I want you to feel as unappreciated and small as I feel.... For me, One Cosmos is all about emotions. Bad ones.... I can't stop. I must read and wallow in my feelings of shame and inadequacy. I derive some sense that I actually exist when I do this. So, to you Bob I have a mixed message: please keep blogging, I need it. And yes, quit. That would be the ultimate burn. I might feel happy for five minutes."

Now, all of this segues perfectly into the discussion of how transcendental beauty -- "the glory of God" -- reveals itself through religion. For religion is never about mere knowledge, "the true." Rather, the more one ascends toward O -- the source of religion -- the more Truth will be clothed in beauty, and vice versa. In fact, it is because of cosmic analogy -- "as above, so below" -- that truth and beauty even converge on the material plane. For example, world-class mathematicians know that the deep structure of mathematical reality is not only beautiful, but that beauty serves as a sort of guide for the mathematics.

I've been thinking about this issue because I have been re-reading Hans Urs von Balthasar's magisterial -- a word that somehow falls short -- The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics. Before you decide to casually wade into the world of Balthasar, bear in mind that this is a seven volume project, each book consisting of some 400 to 700 pages, and that this seven volume series is only part of a trilogy consisting of six additional weighty books (the Theo-Drama and the Theo-Logic). If Balthasar is not the greatest Christian theolgian of the 20th century, then he is certainly the most wordy.

I discovered Balthasar because he wrote the afterword to Meditations on the Tarot -- which only serves to emphasize how misleading the "tarot" is in the title of a book that is quite esoteric but nevertheless kosher. Off hand, I cannot think of anyone other than Schuon who so emphasizes the centrality of beauty to the spiritual life. Schuon, who fundamentally agreed with Plato that "beauty is the splendor of the true," wrote that, "like the sun," beauty "acts without detours, without dialectical intermediaries." And like love, "to which it is closely connected, it can heal, unloose, appease, unite or deliver through its simple radiance."

Schuon further noted that "beauty stems from the Divine Love, this Love being the will to deploy itself and to give itself, to realize itself in 'another'; thus it is that 'God created the world by love.'" As such, while the cosmos may contain ugliness, in its totality it cannot but be beautiful. This is actually one of the sources of Christian hope, which may be coonceptualized as beauty expressed temporally. In other words, no matter how bad things may look in the "now," somehow the pain or ugliness of this now will be redeemed in the end, in the "fullness of time" -- which is to say, eternity.

Obviously, religion is not dealing fundamentally with exterior beauty but interior beauty. Or, to be perfectly accurate, the external forms are there to support the experience or "recollection" of interior beauty. Beauty is "something limitless expressed by means of a limit," but the limit -- i.e., the form -- is required in order for the beauty to "enter" the world. Through it, "the unfathomable mystery of the Self is 'deployed' in Being."

Properly understood, beauty allows us "to pass beyond the appearance and to follow the internal vibration back to its roots." A couple of days ago we spoke about the importance of having a center and living from the inside out, as opposed to our consciousness being dispersed and living from the outside in. Metaphysical beauty can contribute to centration and union because it communicates, so to speak, "the substance of O" in a direct and unmediated way. This is because it is ultimately "the outward projection of a universal quality immanent in us, and quite obviously more real than our empirical and imperfect ego gropingly seeking its identity." Because beauty is "unitive," it "excludes, with a kind of musical evidence, the fissures of doubt and anxiety."

I'm running out of time here, but this all circles back to O-->(k), because metaphysical beauty -- the glory of God -- is clearly something that bypasses the mind's ability to reduce the divine plane to something "containable" by the lower mind. To put it another way, nothing as ugly as atheism could possibly be true.

Monday, February 19, 2007

On Hearing the Cosmic Suite Without Getting Eaten by the Swedes

As Van noted yesterday, what eludes both atheists and religious literalists "is that form and meaning are complementary." For example, in order to play music, harmony, melody and rhythm are necessary. In their absence, there is only disorganized noise, not music. But to think that music may be reduced to musical theory is also wrong, for form is simply the vehicle but not the substance of music. This is why quite "primitive" musicians are able to convey the substance of music, while many mere technical virtuosos are not.

In Western religion in particular, form cannot be divorced from substance. It is different in Vedanta or Taoism, but not really. For example, the Upanishads represent close to pure metaphysics, but since most people are not metaphysically gifted, the revelation must be presented in a more "human" (so to speak) form, which is why the Bhagavad Gita (which expresses the stark truths of the Upanishads in a more mythological mode) is much more beloved among rank and file worshipers.

In fact, you might say that the East begins with pure metaphysical doctrine which is then embodied in myth and history, whereas the West reflects upon history itself (beginning with the Jews) in order to arrive at metaphysics -- to try to intuit the nature of God through the unfolding drama of history. Both Judaism and Christianity are quintessentially "historical" religions, and in fact, are incomprehensible in the absence of their historical form. You might say that Vedanta is a purely "spatial" revelation or descent -- it does not require time, for time can only "decay" or deviate from the timeless message, which is that Brahman (the ultimate reality beyond being) is One and that Atman (the individualized spirit) and Brahman are not-two.

But Judaism and Christianity are temporal revelations which cannot be understood outside their historical manifestations. It is the difference between a painting -- which depicts everything at once within the frames -- and a symphony, which can only unfold through time, which will in turn illuminate the meaning of what has gone before. As such, it is also the difference between the eye and the ear, which is why it is no coincidence that the West regards God fundamentally as word rather than vision. In fact, is it not written that no one sees the face of God and lives? Curiously, one can hear the voice but not see the face. (Of course, it is a matter of emphasis, for any theology limits things at the front door which it allows entry at the back door; thus, for example, the three who were privileged to witness the transfiguration atop mount Tabor.)

One of the main reasons the West leapt ahead of the East so dramatically is that the former regarded time -- and therefore history -- as fundamentally real, whereas the latter considered it a part of maya, and therefore unworthy of our attention. The Jews adopted a "middle position," in the sense that they lived and toiled within time for six days but returned to the timeless on the seventh (which is the ultimate purpose of the other six). Each week represents in miniature the full cycle of creation repeated endlessly. As such, it combined the temporal with the atemporal, as history awaits the ingression of the messiah.

Christianity obviously widened out that cycle to include all of history, past, present, and future. Instead of repeating the cycle endlessly, it sees us in the middle of one big cycle -- somewhat like a cosmic symphony -- with a beginning, middle, and end -- or the ages of the Father (the Jews), Son (Christ), and Holy Spirit (apocalypse and revelation, as history is brought to its denoument, or the eschaton).

Van correctly noted that scripture is traditionally understood to have four levels, the literal (or historical), the allegorical or symbolic, the moral, and the mystical or esoteric. The latter mode also has to do with the vertical -- with “leading upward” and with “final things," both on an individual and historical basis. And in fact, this is where the pure metaphysics of the Upanishads converges with Western scripture, as we ascend from the logos as deployed in historical time to the pure logos at the tip-toppermost of the vertical, as in Dante's vision of the paradiso.

Thus, as also noted by Van, "To stop at the literal level of the text as a Rev. Jerry Falwell or Sam Harris would, is to leave most of the meaning out, and [to] deify the Bible itself for their purposes (either pro or con) and to miss out completely on the doing of its meaning being actively threaded through the reader's soul." Exactly, for the modern deviation of "fundamentalism" is no less a form of debased materialism than materialism proper. In fact, it represents the reaction of a weak soul to the abnormal conditions of modernity -- an attempt to combat materialism by fully conceding its assumptions.

Quite obviously, the Bible is not "the word of God." It is not the logos. Rather, it is inspired words -- inspired (or even "authorized") by the Word -- about the Word. Once again, this conflation of the Bible and the Word -- or bibliolatry -- is a modern deviation that essentially concedes all ground to the horizontal flatlanders. It is a reduction of that which can only by understood by the nous to that which may be understood by the material ego.

Now, this is a coincidence -- then again, I suppose not. Reader Paul G. just emailed me to say that:

"I read somewhere that India is the most religious nation and Sweden is the least, and that the U.S. is a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes. How long can this go on, given the condition of our higher education that cranks out legions of Swedes who populate and rule all of our institutions of business, culture, government, etc.? Seems to me something's got to give sooner or later."

Very true. Again, if we think of India as being the land of pure metaphysics and Sweden as the land of no (or patently silly leftist) metaphysics, it means that the United States is rapidly becoming nothing less than a silliocracy -- as anyone can tell by the dangerously frivolous antics of the pro-defeat, America-hating Democrats last week.

We were once a serious nation founded by serious men of vertical substance, but no longer. Today, for reasons of pure self-preservation, our silly liberal elites would never tolerate someone as morally serious as the man who saved our union, Abraham Lincoln, because he would throttle them with his bare hands. As he said during the Civil War, "Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged." It is anyone's guess what he would do to copperhead newspapers such as the New York Times who brazenly support America's enemies, but it would be swift and severe. No wrapping oneself in the first amendment to justify treason. (A reader informs me that the Lincoln quote has been disputed. If Lincoln didn't say it, then he was obviously remiss.)

Anyway, Van -- who was apparently en fuego yesterday -- wrote that it has slowly dawned on him that religion involves "erecting a scaffold of illusion, laying out a foundation in God, and a soaring structure of Wisdom, Goodness, and Truth.... [W]ith that scaffold of illusion solidly in place, the speaker and the audience have a footing, a frame of reference for placing what is coming into proper place and perspective. Throughout the coming speech or activity, all involved -- if they have been properly illusioned, will be 'erecting' their words and actions in line with that scaffolding, and at some point the new structure will stand on its own. At that point the scaffold can be cast off, but having guided the building of the structure, it will remain in spirit and be inherent within it."

This is exactly what I meant by the paradoxical use of the term "illusion" yesterday. To paraphrase someone, a work of art is a lie that conveys the truth. If it is timeless art -- say one of Shakespeare's plays -- then it is something that never happened which embodies what always happens. This is exactly how certain more poetical aspects of scripture -- say, Genesis -- must be understood in order to appreciate their fullness. Genesis does not just describe what happened "once upin a timeless" but what happens again and again and again in the field of time.

I had intended to get into how the three traditional transcendentals -- the Good, the True, and the Beautiful -- are inseparable, and how transcendental Truth -- if it is Truth -- will always be embodied in a form (the "scaffolding") that conveys God's intrinsic beauty, or glory (which is one of the important but neglected proofs of God). But I've probably written enough for today, so I'll save that for tomorrow, pneumalogical weather conditions permitting.

By the way, people sure are disinterested in this stuff. As I've begun focussing more on spirituality and less on politics, my readership has plummeted, as has interest in the book. Oh well. I must keep our motto in mind: the few, the humble, the Raccoons, "an army of the One." But sometimes I do appreciate a little encouragement, because there are times I can't help feeling that I am essentially speaking into a rapidly shrinking void, as we stand surrounded by coonibalistic Swedes who have the disgusting taste for coon pie.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cynicism, Sincerity, and Illusions of Reality

A cynical man is never a sophisticated man and therefore can know nothing of the divine plane. Or, to be perfectly accurate, a cynical man is always a sophisticated man in the original sense of the term, for somehow the meaning of this word has been turned upside down. It is related to such pejoratives as "sophism," "sophist, and "sophistry," which involve the fallacious use of reason for deceitful ends. According to Webster's, "sophisticated" connotes such things as not being in a natural, pure, or original state; adulterated; deprived of genuineness or native or original simplicity; and worldly-wise.

Likewise, "sophistication" has to do with the use of sophistry; making impure or weak; and lastly, the process of becoming cultured, knowledgeable, or disillusioned. One reason sophisticated people cannot know God is that they have become disillusioned, precisely. Illusion in its healthy and functional sense is what makes us human, and a person we call "disillusioned" is usually a sadly disappointed person -- someone whose childhood illusions -- which are so vital to one's psychological health later on -- were not supported by an empathic environment.

For example, my primary task as a parent at this early developmental stage is not to disillusion my child -- which would be an unimaginable cruelty -- but to nourish and prolong his illusions, for it is only in the space of his illusions -- what the brilliant psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott called the "transitional space" -- that such quintessentially human things such as love, hope, trust, creativity, and imagination will come into being. The transitional space is also the space where religion takes place, so to prematurely foreclose it -- to disillusion your child -- is to create a machine or monster or at the very least a world-weary sophisticate who will get a perverse kick out of doing the same thing to others, i.e., "disillusioning" them.

A disillusioned (and therefore disillusioning) mind parasite is often the unconscious motivation behind the militant, obligatiory atheist. (I call an "obligatory" atheist someone who does not know God because they cannot know God.) It is also the motivation behind much contemporary art, which aims at "authenticity" as a poor substitute for transcendence. A bestial "naturalism" or "realism" are all that is left to the artistically inclined person who has lost all contact with the sufficient reason for art's existence, which is to render the transcendent present to our sensibilities. Thus, properly speaking, there is nothing ontologically real about "realism," which is always sub-realism from the human point of view, hardly distinguishable from frank pornography -- which is ironically called "adult entertainment" when its appeal (to the extent that it becomes a substitute reality) lies specifically in a failure to achieve adult psychosexual maturity.

Thus, to pick a name at random, one may think that, say, Bill Maher, is a highly "sophisticated" man, when in fact he is obviously quite sophisticated. Cynical, worldly-wise, disillusioned, etc. He may or may not be "intelligent" in the narrow and morally and developmentally neutral sense of the term, but I can assure you that if you were to be cornered into a conversation with him, you would immediately become uncomfortably aware of the "narrowness" of his soul horizons -- or shall we say the "thinness" of his being. For depth of being is not only the measure of soul, but soul is the very measure of depth in the Cosmos.

Or put it this way: there is nothing intrinsically deep in the world, there are only deep souls who make it so. Animals do not experience cosmic depth, only surfaces. And quite obviously, "depth" is a thing entirely apart from mere intelligence. The presence of depth is one of the first clues of the awakened mind as it journeys back to God, who is obviously the ultimate source of the depth. There can be no depth without God, if for no other reason that there can be no interior without God, "the interior of interiority," so to speak.

Let's take William Shakespeare and, say, Steven Pinker or Noam Chomsky. Here are two statements that are equally accurate: "William Shakespeare was an expert in language," and "Noam Chomsky is an expert in language." Obviously this is an absurd comparison, because next to Shakespeare, Chomsky is a frivolous ass and a silly retard -- full of sound and fury but signifying tenure.

Here is the difference, my fellow Coons: what Chomsky knows -- or thinks he knows -- of language may be explicitly specified. He can write it down and put it in one of the sophisticated books he writes for his sophisticated audiences -- and which are used to abuse and poison children for the rest of their lives by making them disillusioned and sophisticated, just like he is -- which is the whole point of the tedious exercise. (Yes, I realize that he used to write "scientific" books, but I believe his simplistic approach to language fosters his paranoid approach to politics.)

No writer is more popular than Chomsky on the campuses of liberal academia, which is a tragic statement if you consider the purpose of education to be the perfection of the soul. This type of perverse education is soul-killing, and once the mind is infected with it, it may never recover. We can see it in the morbid, death-infused writing of the two bloggers who were hired by the transparently sophisticated shyster lawyer, John Edwards. (Speaking of whom, the reason why an uncorrupted soul experiences such palpable toxicity upon hearing a John Edwards or Hillary Clinton speak is due to their utter lack of sincerity and innocence, more on which below.)

Unlike Chomsky, the protean Shakespeare could never, ever, pen a treatise in which he explicitly articulated the nature and extent of his unfathomable linguistic expertise. In fact, if he could do so, he would not be Shakespeare, for it would mean that his depthless creativity could be limited and contained by some mechanical set of rules. Rather, his expertise was simply "lived" but could never be specified. It was literally inexhaustible, in the same sense that the perfect circle will always elude the explicit equation of pi, no matter how many billions of decimal places it is extended.

Nor, for that matter, will there ever be a "Theory of Everything" which the cosmologists quixotically seek -- at least not in any mathematical form. There is already an adequate theory of everything -- in the sense of being adequate to the Real -- but it is embodied in the symbology of religious metaphysics, not in any mathematical equation. No scientific finding can ever undermine primordial Truth, to say the least. DNA does not contain the secret of life, but life contains the secret of DNA.

It is the same with music. No amount of learning the rules of musical composition could ever contain or be superior to Bach's non-explicit mastery of music. A work of art is not beautiful because it is artistic but artistic because it is beautiful. Otherwise, how would we know it is beautiful?

The scientific rationalist believes that something is true because it is logical, but it is the reverse: something is logical because it is true. Naturally, what is true of one transcendental is true of the other two: for example, something is not virtuous merely because it is legal. This is another one of the fallacies at the heart of contemporary -- which is to say, sophisticated -- liberalism, in that it reduces morality to legality and in so doing strips man of his moral soul.

What is virtuous for the uncorrupted soul can no more be specified in manmade law than the rules for beautiful art can be specified by a pointy-headed academic. But this is what the left always does -- displacing the reality of the soul with coercive rules and laws. In so doing, its cure for mankind eventually kills the patient -- political correctness, "tolerance," moral and cultural relativism -- these are all death to the intellect and to the soul.

One is reminded of the boneheaded Sandra Day O'Connor, who wrote that affirmative action would be necessary so long as racism existed, when the opposite is true: racism will exist so long as affirmative action exists, for racism is not against the law, it is against the soul, and since liberalism is ipso facto against the soul, it cannot help but foster a climate of racism -- just as feminist ideology has hardly increased harmony and understanding between the sexes but caused great damage to proper coonjugal relations. Few things are more pathetic than a cluelessly sophisticated feminist such as Maureen Dowd, whom a proper man wouldn't touch with a barge pole {shudder}.

Now, quite obviously, God cannot be reduced to man's categories, so the whole idea of an "academic theology" is absurd. A true theologian -- and this sense of the term is preserved by both Orthodox Christianity and by Vedanta -- is not someone who "knows" God but who does God, whether in word or deed. One could no more explicitly specify the theology of a Schuon, or a von Balthasar, or an Eckhart than one could specify with explicit rules the music of Beethoven.

In the case of Beethoven, or even a Thelonious Monk, the music always transcends the rules, and the same is true of the great theologian. Naturally this does not mean that dogma is unnecessary -- any more than Beethoven could do without a piano or the rules of music. But pianos are for playing, not for "figuring out." A piano tuner with perfect pitch is not an artist, any more than Noam Chomsky -- whose vulgar manner of expression is always so coarse and ugly -- is a language expert.

One thing the modern sophisticate never wishes anyone to believe of him is that he is naive. This is the horror of horrors, much worse than merely being wrong. He never wants the wool pulled over his eyes, so to speak. He is happy to be wrong so long as he is not naive -- which, of course, is a form of pride, which always excludes knowledge of God. The proudly cynical and disillusioned man won't be taken in, especially by religion. His cynicism will make certain of that. Thus, he thinks that he is a tough-minded cynic because he knows God does not exist, when God does not exist for him because of his pathetic cynicism.

The opposite of cynicism is sincerity. A cynic is never actually sincere. Rather, his bluntness is just a caricature of sincerity -- again, a Bill Maher comes to mind. Sincerity, as Schuon has written, is "the fundamental quality of goodness." Leftists especially hated Ronald Reagan, not just because of his beliefs but because of his obvious sincerity. In fact, they hate President Bush for the same reason.

It is fascinating to me that the vast majority of leftists who criticize President Bush on the grounds of his so-called lack of intelligence are not nearly as intelligent as he is -- yes, especially you two longtime middle-brow trolls. Don't think I don't see you. As noted in a recent American Thinker piece, "George W. Bush's SAT score of 1206 has been widely reported. The SAT score (if taken prior to 1995) can be used to estimate IQ, to compare to the general population, and to compare to occupational averages and popular figures in history. Using such estimates, President Bush's IQ is between 125 and 130 which ranks him as more intelligent than over 95% of the population, more intelligent than most college professors and medical doctors, and similar to Abraham Lincoln, Rousseau and Thackeray (comparative IQs of 128)."

Yes Coons, it is his sincerity they hate. But if you are in revolt against God, how could you not hate sincerity? You must become disillusioned, so that you too can become as sophisticated as Noam Chomsky, or John Edwards, or Bill Clinton, or Bill Maher.

The horror.


Speaking of the soul-corrupted Edwards bloggers, Iowahawk has gotten ahold of one of their resumes:


"Seeking challenging, fast-paced thought leadership position in major Western industrial phallocracy. I have experience in a number of positions, including chapters 1-6 of the Kama Sutra, and an established record of speaking angry truth to theocratic power through edgy PostModern Riot Grrrrl punk feminism, which I am happy to disavow at your request....


"A2/01/2007-2/13/2007: Blog Master, Edwards For President, Raleigh NC. Managed campaign website for top Democratic presidential candidate. Crafted strategic economic and military position papers, spearheaded outreach programs to progressive online community, led cross-functional archive-erasing teams, coordinated crisis management program, achieved follow-through on apology plan, renegotiated labor contracts, spell-checked resignation letter, successfully avoided pregnancy. Reason for leaving: international theocratic christofascist conspiracy."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

How To Be a Self-Centered Baby and Develop an Interiority Complex

Something miraculous is happening with Future Leader. Yes, I realize that children in whom you do not have a direct genetic stake are intrinsically boring, but bear with me. I only bring this up because it may be of cosmic significance.

Ever since Future Leader was conceived, he has been on the hyperactive side, both in the watery medium of the intrauterine world and the gaseous medium of this one. He was constantly banging away in the former -- as if he couldn't wait to get into the next world -- but has been the same way in this world. In fact, if we had taken our eyes off of him for 30 seconds, he would probably have been in the extra-extrauterine world by now. He is always trying to push beyond his edge of competence.

He became especially relentless once he learned how to crawl, which I believe was by about late November 2005. Things only escalated when he learned how to walk, which would have been in around May 2006. From the start, he attempted -- constantly -- to crawl before he could move, to walk before he could stand, and to run before he could walk. His restless search went on from the moment he opened his eyes until the moment he fell asleep, and his hands had a life of their own. Literally. Even while pausing to eat, one hand would prop up the bottle while the other groped around, looking for whatever. He was half kitten, half monkey. Imagine the nightmare of a kitten with opposable thumbs, and you appreciate God's mercy.

Now, although we really had no explicit expectations, this is not what I had envisioned when I was forcing Mrs. G. to eat all those Omega 3 eggs during her pregnancy in order to enhance Future Leader's brain development. Nor is it the purpose of attachment parenting, the point of which is to lavishly indulge (so to speak) the infant on the front end so as to create a strong and secure foundation on the back end.

Now, Future Leader has always been bright, funny, and very engaged, but perhaps not as "centered" as one might have hoped. But in the last two weeks, something in his brain development clicked into place, and it has been a wonder to behold. He is suddenly calm, centered, and able to imaginatively play by himself and sustain his attention for hours instead of seconds.

Yesterday I took him to the park, and it was the most extraordinary thing. He got out of the stroller, calmly walked over to the little motorcycle (which is connected to a spring so they can rock back and forth) and just sat there. For 45 minutes. I sat there with him perhaps 15 - 20 feet away and just watched. It was not as if he were bored. Rather, he was totally engaged, calmly observing the swirling activity round him, checking out the other kids, looking up at the clouds, occasionally looking at me, smiling beatifically, now and again rocking back and forth.

It is difficult -- probably impossible -- for me to convey, but there was such a calm but palpable presence radiating from his interior, from the inside out. I could actually feel it coming out of his eyes and entering mine -- which triggered immediate laughter on my part -- as if it were a literal exchange of energy (which I believe it was) tickling my insides. If you've ever noticed the difference between the eyes of a reptile and the eyes of a mammal -- say Mike Tyson vs. a cow -- you know what I'm talking about. In the latter, you can "see" a more developed kind of consciousness.

As I have mentioned before, one of the things that characterizes human consciousness is the ability to "mind read," that is, to experience the interior of another. This is the whole basis of empathy, of counter-transference in psychotherapy, and of intimate communication in general. It is why words may be unnecessary in a particularly deep relationship, because you can directly relate "interior to interior."

As a matter of fact -- this is a bit of a tangent -- I am quite sure that this factored into my relatively late-in-life desire to have children. I was never part of a big family, in that my father's side is back in England, while there are just a couple of distant cousins on my mother's side. I lost my parents when I was a relatively young adult -- yes, I looked under the refrigerator -- and two of my three brothers are estranged from me due to issues of their own. Still, I very much enjoyed that unglishable feeling of what it felt like to be a part of a family when I was growing up -- the wordless "interior connection," so to speak -- and I knew that children are the last word in wordless connections. It was as if one day I woke up and realized that this dimension was missing from my life. The issue was not so much children per se, as the interior connectedness they engender, if I may put it in a weirdly clinical way.

Anyway, as to the cosmic significance of all this, I cannot think of a greater gift that a parent could bestow upon a child than the firm and secure presence of a calm center through which life may be lived from the inside out. Most people live their lives from the outside in, which is what causes the frantic, lifelong search for something that will finally bring peace and tranquility. But as all religious traditions teach, this calm center cannot be found in the horizontal. Rather, you will only become further lost and entangled. The prodigal son, and all that.

It is the difference between the dispersal and the centration of consciousness. For example, when one thinks of Jesus, or Buddha, or Lao Tsu, it is unthinkable that they were possessed of a restless, externalized, and dispersed consciousness. In fact, I imagine that to have looked into the eyes of Jesus would have been literally -- for how could it not be so? -- to have looked into the very depthless center of creation.

Not to conflate spiritual categories, but this is also true, to a lesser extent, of any genuine saint, guru, or spiritual teacher. As I have mentioned before, I keep a number of darshan pictures and photos on my desk, and consult with them on a regular basis. And when I say "consult," all Raccoons should know what I mean and not think me bonkers.

According to Schuon, darshan is not just "the contemplation of a saint, or of a man invested with a priestly or princely authority," but "the contemplation of the Divine in nature or in art." It is "the visual assimilation of celestial qualities; the ideal being the coincidence between an object that manifests beauty or spirituality and a subject gifted with nobleness and depth, hence gratitude. And this is also the quasi-alchemical meaning of sacred art in all its forms."

For example, this is the whole point of the ikons of Orthodox Christianity. In his wonderful book The Orthodox Way, Bishop Kallistos Ware notes that the seventh Ecumenical Council of 787 proclaimed that "since Christ became true man, it is legitimate to depict his face upon the holy ikons; and, since Christ is one person and not two, these ikons do not just show us his humanity in separation from his divinity, but they show us the one person of the eternal Logos incarnate." Eventually we may even realize that "Christ is looking at us through the eyes of all those whom we meet."

Ware writes of the more general principle embodied in the ikons: true mysticism involves the discovery of "the extraordinary in the ordinary," the ability to "see all things, persons, and moments as signs and sacraments of God." In our spiritual vision we see things in their metaphysical transparency, as "each points beyond itself to him who made it."

The task before us, according to Eckhart's disciple Henry Suso, is "to see the inward in the outward": 'He who can see the inward in the outward, to him the inward is more inward than to him who can only see the inward in the inward." This is to "look at nature with the eyes of Adam in paradise," to see "that the whole universe is a cosmic Burning Bush, filled with the divine Fire yet not consumed." Or, to quote Eckhart himself, "He who abides always in a present now, in him does God beget his Son without ceasing."

I am always puzzled by atheists and other materialists who downplay the significance of the earth and of human consciousness, as if Kepler or Darwin actually succeeded in displacing the human drama from the very center of creation. True, if one looks at the cosmos horizontally, then the "temporal center" would be approximately 7 billion years ago. It is impossible to say where the "spatial center" would be -- apparently it is everywhere and nowhere -- but all we know is that the edge is billions of light years away in every direction.

However, if we view the cosmos vertically and hierarchically, then human beings are obviously at its very center -- as the heart is the center of the body, humans are the heart of the cosmos. Or, to be perfectly accurate, being that we are in the image of the creator, we represent "the center at the periphery," as Schuon has written. If you imagine a pyramid or a cone, then the vertical center runs from the tip to the base, not along the base. It is this vertical center that human beings are privileged to inhabit at one point or another along its continuum.

Evolution in the spiritual sense -- as in Saint Paul's three-part evolution from infant to child to man -- involves increased interiority and centration as we ascend vertically. As this occurs, the dispersal of consciousness that is responsible for "maya," or attachment to the unreal, is naturally countered. In other words, an inevitable consequence of our dispersed consciousness is that we will more or less frantically search for our center at the periphery. The one is a function of the other.

Likewise, as we increasingly locate, develop, and live within our center, we inevitably discover that it overlaps with God's peaceful center, which is sat-chit-ananda, or being-consciousness-bliss, or love-truth-beauty. I hope it goes without saying that this kind of "self-centeredness" has nothing in common with narcissism, which appropriates the "radiation" of others in order to create a false center within the narcissist. The narcissistic center feeds on others, while the true spiritual center radiates and nourishes others.

Which is why it was such a delight to see Future Leader radiating from his newly developing center.

Don't panic. Let the game come to you (click to expand):

"Looking into the eyes of eternity."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Acting Out the Fantasies of the Left and Overturning the Order of the Cosmos (2.07.09)

I suppose what bothers me most about the left except for the bad hygiene is that it institutionalizes man's fall and reverses the cosmic order. This order can be known with the higher intellect, which is why "job one" of leftism is always the elimination of the intellect properly so-called. Leftism is intrinsically anti-intellectual, in that it must abolish that part of man which is capable of seeing the error of leftism in a direct and unmediated way. In fact, a major part of the leftist agenda involves displacing the higher mind with the lower, that is, "small r" reason in its mechanical sense. Worse than the ideological takeover of academia has been the simultaneous eclipse of the higher mind, thus reducing man to a cultured beast.

The leftist program follows the split in the western world which occurred with the Enlightenment, which had its radical version in France and its skeptical version in England and Scotland. America has been by far the most successful nation in history because it was a product of the skeptical Enlightenment (i.e., classical liberals such as Adam Smith) and because our founders -- since they were so securely anchored in Judeo-Christian metaphysics and therefore "innoculated" against leftism -- categorically rejected the savagely utopian schemes of the romantic radicals.

Now, all purely secular philosophies that exclude the vertical are more or less error a grandiose scale, but at least most of these philosophies do not include -- as part of their intrinsic philosophy -- the imposition of their philosophy on everyone else. The whole point about being a classically liberal conservative is that it preserves at its very heart the right of anyone to reject it. It doesn't impose anything on anyone, which is what is so ironic about paranoid leftists who constantly fantasize about the imminent Christian fascist takeover!

The pneumapathology at the heart of leftism always includes acting out, which is one of the more primitive defense mechanisms, as it bypasses thought altogether and replaces it with action. This is why leftist intellectuals are always "activists," which simply means that they are more concerned with changing the world than understanding it. Naturally, classical liberals have no objection to change, but only so long as the change is rooted in understanding, including especially an understanding of human nature. For if your understanding of human nature is faulty or grossly incomplete, then your political philosophy is going to be nothing less than a disaster. The disaster may happen quickly or it may slowly unfold with time, but the disaster is inevitable. Anyone who lives in error eventually receives sharp blows from the world.

A couple of days ago while driving to work I was listening to Air America and caught a bit of the abysmally tedious program of professional unfunnyman Al Franken. The guest was a gold-plated leftist bull-goose paranoiac, Joe Conason, who has published a new cry for help, er, book, with the harrowing title, It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush!!! The shrill and paranoid title is just a measure of how free of irony the left has become -- as if we didn't just have a freaking election a couple of months ago that effectively undermines Conason's entire thesis. But reality is hardly a consideration for the reality-based community. As any competent psychologist can tell you, truth is irrelevant when someone has an emotional need to believe something.

Conason's unintentionally ironic title is a takeoff on uber-moonbat Sinclair Lewis' 1935 screed, It Can't Happen Here. Lewis is revered by contemporary moonbats for his boneheaded dailykosian remark that "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Brilliant! Sean Penn couldn't have said it better! As always, the left confuses hysteria with "courage" or "insight," so that Lewis stands in a long line of courageous leftists such as Cindy Sheehan and Al Franken who don't speak "truth to power" but excitedly bark at their own omnipotent psychological projections.

Like all leftists, Lewis seems to have merely externalized his own existential misery and called it a political philosophy. I can't say I know much about his personal life, but his Wikipedia entry is instructive: "Alcohol played a dominant role in his life; he died of advanced alcoholism in Rome." If so, we can be fairly certain that Lewis was 1) miserable, 2) weak, 3) a slave who was not psychologically mature enough to handle spiritual liberty and who squandered his own, and therefore 4) in need of a political system to save himself from himself. Please feel free to correct me if he wasn't a total idiot, but I have never been drawn to didactic "realist" literature.

All leftists must know that somewhere deep inside, beneath the histrionic bluster, they are weak, dependent, envious, racist, and so on, because they wish to impose a political system on those of us who do not have those particular problems. If you are not envious, you don't give much thought to CEOs who earn more money than you do. If you are not a racist, it doesn't occur to you that Barack Obama is half white or that the Constitution might actually mandate racial discrimination. If you love women, you would not be drawn to the loathsome philosophy of radical feminism; etc.

The description of Conason's book on amazon sounds like it is taken from the nursing notes of a recent psychiatric hospitalization for acute paranoia:

"Despite recent election, patient still believes America in great danger. Hopeless re future. Doubts existence of democracy. Government conspiring with 'big business' and 'big evangelism.' Asked him 'what about big entertainment, big media, big labor, big education and big trial lawyers?,' but patient incorporated me into delusions. 'You're just part of Big Health. You're not helping me. You only care about bottom line!, etc.' Obsessed with nameless ideologues and religious zealots 'attacking logic' and 'scientific method.' Asked patient if he meant Al Gore -- became extremely hostile. Incoherent babbling: 'ruling party encourages xenophobic nationalism based on irrational, manufactured fear.' Confusing -- asked him if he meant irrational manufactured fear of Bush. Patient became agitated -- required sedation and restraints. Carotid veins visible, face flushed like Howard Dean, screaming something about 'party in power seeks perpetual state of war to maintain power -- willing to lie, cheat, and steal to achieve ends.' Empathically suggest to him can't happen here. More agitation -- 'it can happen here, damn you! My 'book' says so -- select group of extremely powerful right-wing ideologues driving us ever closer to precipice, etc., etc., etc.' Intravenous push of diazepam; patient now watching Keith Olbermann and quietly mumbling to self."

At American Thinker there is a wonderful article entitled Cultural Marxism that demonstrates how Marxism hardly died with the dramatic fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. As it so happens, Raccoon lore maintains that leftism can trace its squalid genealogy all the way back to the origin of mankind. For the "fall of mankind" was specifically a rejection of the divine-cosmic order (and partnership) in favor of a wholly man-made one. This lesson is reinforced time and again in scripture (and its shadow in the herebelow, history), as man repeats his fall, 32 feet per second per second, and suffers the consequences.

The author of the American Thinker piece, Linda Kimball, traces the various permutations of the leftist mind parasite which, like all parasites, knows how to survive. Although the "New Left" of the 1960's collapsed and fell apart, it simply underwent what I would call an "interior diaspora" into various ideologies that all have roots in the same infrahuman ideological swamp: leftist "revolutionaries reorganized themselves into a multitude of single issue groups. Thus we now have for example, radical feminists, black extremists, anti-war ‘peace' activists, animal rights groups, radical environmentalists, and ‘gay' rights groups. All of these groups pursue their piece of the radical agenda through a complex network of organizations such as the Gay Straight Lesbian Educators Network..., the ACLU, People for the American Way, United for Peace and Justice, Planned Parenthood, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States..., and Code Pink for Peace."

This is why if you attack leftism frontally, it will simply mutate into all of these other viruses. The only way to effectively confront it is from "above" and "below." In other words, its common root must be attacked at its base, but only from a higher psychospiritual perspective. As Kimball notes, neo-Marxism thrives because it has mutated into various superficially appealing code words such as "tolerance, social justice, economic justice, peace, reproductive rights, sex education and safe sex, safe schools, inclusion, diversity, and sensitivity." All of these words and phrases imply one thing but actually mean the opposite -- i.e., tolerance is intolerance, social justice is economic tyranny, sex education is the rebarbarization of the sex drive, diversity is uniformity, sensitivity is a constraint on unwanted truth, etc.

Kimball goes into the intellectual history of Marxism, noting its intrinsic hostility to the Christianized West. If Marxism is to succeed, then the Christian West must fall. It is an either-or proposition: the West must be "de-Christianized, said Gramsci, by means of a 'long march through the culture.' The new battleground... must become the culture, starting with the traditional family and completely engulfing churches, schools, media, entertainment, civic organizations, literature, science, and history. All of these things must be radically transformed and the social and cultural order gradually turned upside-down with the new proletariat placed in power at the top."

Just read the whole thing. In fact, Dear Leader commands all Coons to bookmark American Thinker and check it out every day. It is one of a handful of sites I always fail to not miss.

One of the most important points raised by Kimball is that, for the left to succeed, "intellectual firepower was required: a theory to pathologize what was to be destroyed." As such, "Christianity, capitalism, and the traditional family create a character prone to racism and fascism. Thus, anyone who upholds America's traditional moral values and institutions is both racist and fascist." The human being is "but a soulless animal," so it naturally follows that contingent existence (or existential contingencies such as skin color) determines essence, rather than vice versa. Again, this is a complete rejection and reversal of the cosmic order upon which the American founders based our government.

And so we come full circle to Joe Conason raving in his hospital bed and chaneling the paranoid alcoholic Sinclair Lewis in the Al Franken nuthouse. An empathic and disinterested psychoanalyst would deal with Conason by respectfully acknowledging the urgency of his concerns and reflecting back to him an innocent but loaded observation, such as "I hear what you're saying. An extremely frightening and hostile force is trying to take over your world. Let's stand back a bit and try to understand who or what this force could be, shall we?"

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Navel-Gazing at our I-ambilical Cord (2.22.09)

Yesterday while driving to work I was navel-gazing again. Yes, I was thinking about my belly button. For what is a belly button? I can see that Future Leader is already curious about his and fascinated by mine, and I well remember wondering about mine when I was a kit. No, I did not obsess over it, but it is interesting that the human body bears the permanent mark of its own incompleteness and its own previous life in another dimension. The human body is so perfect, and yet, no matter how perfect the body, there is always this odd "scar" we all carry right at the center of our physical being, the reminder of this other existence: "I once abided in the infinite, and all I got was this lousy belly button."

To continue our navel-gazing, what does this scar signify? Well, let's see. First, it memorializes our transition from life in a watery medium to life in a gaseous one. In this regard, life during our first nine months could not have been more different than life after the dramatic caesura of birth, as Bion called it. Our watery existence is hardly irrelevant to what comes later, as more and more research is documenting the importance of our intrauterine experience and how it "carries over" into the next world.

In our case, we did not just treat Future Leader as a human subject from the day of his birth -- with all the dignity and nobility entitled to any human being -- but from the day of his conception. I would guess that about a third of modern Western mothers do this, either consciously or unconsciously. (The percentage is far lower in non-Western cultures, where even the child is often not treated with dignity as a full subject.)

Our preparation for extrauterine life takes place under circumstances that are quite different from those that will later prevail. From the vantage point of the fetus, intrauterine life appears to be a "thing unto itself," and yet, it is actually pointing toward something beyond itself. The fetus cannot know that its intrauterine existence is actually a preparation for the "big event," which always comes as a bewildering and disorienting shock.

In this regard, our physical birth is not only a transition but a death, as are all births. It is the stark end of one way of life and the beginning of another. The navel is a reminder that we were once directly connected to the source of life, whereas now we must tolerate being separate from it and renegotiate a relationship with it. In fact, the key to early parenting is to try to foster the conditions of intrauterine life in order to ease the transition and make it less traumatic. Even though the baby has left the physical womb, he remains -- or should remain -- in an external one -- a womb with a view -- for some time, so that psychological "hatching" will gradually take place over many months.

Following the method of cosmic analogy -- as above, so below -- what can birth tell us about the spiritual life? It is interesting, is it not, that Christianity is so permeated with the archetypal iconography of womb and of birth? "Virgin," "word," "conception," "pregnant," "child of the Holy Spirit," the name "Immanuel," which means "God with us." Each of these has a deeply resonant archetypal meaning for the spiritual life.

Just like intrauterine life, extrauterine life is not merely a thing-in-itself but a preparation for something else. It too has a trajectory that points to its own end, although that end will come like a thief in the night and no one knows the hour or day. All the more reason not to waste time -- to work while it is Day, for the Night will come when no man can work.

Time is all we have in this life, and to waste time is to waste eternity. The First Thing -- all else pales in significance -- is naturally to avoid being an astral abortion. Odd, but there are abortionists everywhere who will eagerly help you end your pregnancy. If this happens, you will continue "living," but in the manner of a spiritual stillborn or "existentialist" whose existence does not point beyond itself. For what has specifically been aborted is essence from existence -- or spiritual seed from the womb of time.

While men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.

Now, just as our physical body bears the scar of its incompleteness and separation, so too does our soul bears its own version of this. For it also has a "hole" at its center that we may spend our lives trying to fill in inappropriate and ultimately fruitless ways. But the hole is there for a reason. It is actually a theocentric hole, and there is no way to fill it unless one is properly oriented to the source of our being. We are connected to the source of our being by a vertical channel through which energies pass up and down -- we call these energies aspiration and grace.

How to find that I-ambilical cord through which we are spiritually nourished? Everyone is looking for it, and there are countless Spiritual Salesmen who will claim they can sell you one. But each of us must find the path of access that leads to the way: For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

In other words, He who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

We are either in the wilderness or on the path. But once on the path, there is no turning back. One cannot return to the wilderness but must continue pushing onward. In other words, you cannot be a little bit pregnant: Whoever has put his hand to the plough and then looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God.

As Boris Mouravieff writes, the world is constituted of "A" influences and "B" influences, and it is through the assimilation of the latter that our "psychic center" will grow. There are a number of ways to conceptualize the "A" influences, but let us say that they are horizontal, exterior, and ultimately random, canceling each other out and adding to the sum of zero, or physical death. Most men are subject to the rule of the illusory "A" influences, chasing after one or another until falling into the abyss. This is the way of the Exterior Man.

But the interior Coonman orients himself around the esoteric Center from which "B" influences enter the field of life. Unlike the "A" influences, these do not cancel each other out, but are all oriented in the same direction and are actually the only enduring reality. To quote Mouravieff,

"In life, every being is subjected to a sort of competitive test. If he discerns the existence of the 'B' influences; if he acquires a taste for gathering and absorbing them; if he continually aspires to assimilate them better; his mixed inner nature will slowly undergo a certain kind of evolution. And if the efforts which he makes to absorb the 'B' influences are constant and sufficient in force, a magnetic center can be formed within him."

If one is successful in forming this magnetic center, it will not just attract the "B" influences but actually deflect the "A" influences. I hope this is not sounding too esoteric or "gnostic," because it should be a common experience to most Raccoons in some form or fashion. It may be new to Kit Scouts, all the more reason to listen closely to your elders.

I have come to realize that one reason I enjoy blogging first thing in the morning is that I have unwittingly set up a situation in which I shut out virtually all "A" influences and instead attempt to gather and align myself with "B" influences. In so doing, I actually reinforce my own magnetic center, which then stays "strong" for the remainder of the day.

I thought of this yesterday in reading a comment Schuon once made to a disciple, emphasizing that

"What we do in the morning is very important for the whole day; it is good not to quit the morning japa before one is certain that it has determined our being and therefore also our entire day. The brain is a sponge that absorbs the stream of appearances [i.e., 'A' influences]; it is not enough to empty it of the images on which it feeds, one must also satisfy both its need to absorb and its habitual movement.... One must infuse into the mind, as far as it will carry it, a consciousness of the Real [i.e., 'B' influences] and of the unreal; this consciousness will provide the framework for the rest. The world is a multiplicity that disperses and divides; the divine Word... leads back to Unity [and] absorbs the soul and transposes it imperceptibly, by a sort of 'divine stratagem' into the calm and unchanging climate of the Absolute..."

Speaking of Schuon, Mouravieff also writes of the benefit of maintaining contact with men whose own magnetic center is stronger than ours. This is also the value of spiritual community -- including Coonland -- for what is One Cosmos but a spiritual pediatrician's office in which we can all -- myself included -- talk to the other moms, make sure that we are getting the proper nutrients, and be reassured that everything is proceeding normally in our pregnancy?

We'll meet again. Up ahead, 'round the bend. The circle unbroken, by and by. A Divine Child, a godsend, a touch of infanity, a bloomin' yes.... Blissfully floating before the fleeting flickering universe, stork naked in brahma daynight, worshiping in oneder in a weecosmic womb with a pew, it is finally... --Cosmobliteration, The Coonifesto

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Darwin Was Not a Darwinian (1.31.09)

New commenter Flash Gordon left a provocative challenge yesterday, noting that Dear Leader is "interested in the origin of life and intelligence. Darwin was interested in those things also. He made a valuable contribution to our understanding of those things."

The first two points are entirely true, while the third is a bit more ambiguous, since I am more interested in the origin of life and of specifically human intelligence, while Darwin's contribution was to the origin of species and of animal intelligence (which humans also naturally possess).

Starting with the former, natural selection can have no bearing on the origin of life, since natural selection by definition requires living organisms to select.

While I am aware of the fact that some theorists are attempting to apply principles of natural selection to the non-organic world, as I explained in One Cosmos, what both they and orthodox biologists fail to appreciate is that any type of natural selection presupposes a metaphysical principle that must be anterior to both organisms and the cosmos itself: wholeness. Neither life nor natural selection could exist in a cosmos that did not have a principle of wholeness woven into its very fabric. In fact, to say "cosmos" is to say "wholeness," since a cosmos is by definition a unified and ordered totality -- just like an organism (which is its more or less distant reflection: as above, so below).

In an organism, no matter where or how deeply we look, we find fractal wholeness at every level. You could even say that the essence of pathology is an absence of integrated wholeness -- some part of the whole has broken away and is "doing its own thing," like my pancreas. The same is true of the first hyperdimensional organ, the human mind, which in health is a dynamically integrated whole -- a rolling catastrophe in the phase space of subjectivity, as it were. The essence of mental illness is the existence of semi-autonomous autopoietic subpersonalities (i.e., mind parasites) with agendas all their own, and which don't really give a hoot what you think or want. These spectral entities haunt the mindscape and look to infect others or to draw them into their little psychodramas in a way that is self-defeating to the host.

Mr. Flash left a quote in which Darwin expresses the sentiment that (referring to his scientisic vision of universal Darwinism), There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

El Cabeza Gordo concludes by asking, "How can you say intelligence is strictly forbidden in [the] 'Darwinian view?' Your equation E=RE+EF is ridiculous."

Let's "break this down for my omies," as I once heard Arsenio Hall put it. "There is grandeur in this view of life." Is that true? Is there? If so, one wonders how it got there. Why, on strictly Darwinian grounds, would any mental view of anything be a sponsor of "grandeur." It's impossible to know exactly what Darwin meant by the use of this term, which has no non-poetic or exact meaning. Rather, it is entirely subjective, since it connotes things such as "magnificence," "glory," lofty," "sublime," and "wonderful."

Now, I personally have no difficulty with any of these categories of human experience, as I do believe they disclose objective realities. But I wonder what evolutionary purpose they serve? Let us suppose that I am one of our ancient furbears, and that a random genetic mutation has given me the heretofore unknown ability to be in a state of aesthetic arrest as I contemplate, I don't know, a grand sunset or a magnificent mountain. Remember, there is nothing intrinsically grand or magnificent until a human subject makes it so, just as there is no such thing as a ball or strike until an umpire says so. So I'm staring with astonagement at the sunset and a lion pounces on me, or a rival Neanderthal conks me on the head and places me on the menu. The gene for grandeur dies on the vine.

Let's not kid ourselves. We really only have two choices. Either this cosmos is in fact grand -- not to mention, beautiful, awesome, sacred and numinous -- or our genes, for reasons we cannot know, randomly mutated in such a way that we imagine that such entirely chimerical things as grandeur and beauty exist. But in reality, we are simply prisoners of our genes, and by extension, our nervous systems. I don't see how one can say that it is a "grand" view of the cosmos if the grandeur is simply an illusory side effect of our nervous system. There is an obvious contradiction at the heart of Darwin's sentimental view of his own theory.

Endless forms most beautiful and wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Here again, I have no difficulty agreeing with this statement, but one naturally wonders what Darwin meant by "beautiful" and "wonderful." Obviously, on any strict Darwinian view, "beauty" cannot objectively exist. Rather, there can be only the illusion of beauty that is put there for some reason related to reproductive fitness. To us, a peacock or a butterfly is "beautiful," but in reality their markings are just there to attract the opposite sex of their particular species. It's actually none of our business.

Which is true of nature in general. Animals are only interested in other animals to the extent that they can 1) eat them, 2) can have sex with them, or 3) need to run away from them. No antelope, in the midst of running for its life, thinks to itself, "I give that lion credit. It sure is a magnificent beast." No goat or rabbit says, "pity I have to eat this beautiful flower. It would look so nice on top of the telly." No fly, while struggling for its life, says "hmm. Check out the fabulous geometric design of this web. Such stark neo-industrial beauty!" (unless he watches "Queer Eye For the Straight Fly").

Now, I can well understand on Darwinian grounds why the sons of heaven would have the illusion that the daughters of men are so beautiful. Which they are. Especially Mrs. G., which I would say even if I hadn't totally forgotten that this is Valentine's Day. But I do not see what this has to do with seeing other species as beautiful. What's the point? What is the added value to our reproductive fitness? There are things that are beautiful to the eye, just as there are things that are beautiful to the ear. Beautiful paintings, beautiful poems, beautiful symphonies and cathedrals, beautiful equations, beautiful theories, beautiful theologies, beautiful afternoons, beautiful moments in life. There is beauty hidden in every fold and cranny of existence. Did humans somehow "awaken" to a cosmos that just so happens to be permeated with beauty? If so, how did all the beauty get in there? Isn't a beautiful object the reflection of a beautiful subject? Who was the Subject of all this Cosmic Beauty before human subjects were here?

Perhaps, like wholeness, it cannot not be here. For what is wholeness? In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce's alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, discusses the criteria for great art. He says that it is the task of the true artist to record "epiphanies," that is, sudden spiritual manifestations, or ingressions. Following Aquinas, he says that the three things necessary to beauty are wholeness, harmony, and radiance, or claritas. It is this third category that has to do with epiphanies, when the soul of the thing, its essential whatness, leaps through its outer appearance and reveals its true nature. This supreme quality of beauty transfers light from another world, provoking a spiritual state in which we apprehend the luminous reality behind appearances and see things in their metaphysical transparency.

Now Bob, "How can you say intelligence is strictly forbidden in 'Darwinian view?' Your equation E=RE+EF is ridiculous."

First of all, this is not my equation. Rather, it is the equation that forms the basis of Darwinism, which is that all change in the phenotype is a result of random genetic mutations that either enhance or diminish our reproductive fitness. To the extent that a species is "intelligent," the intelligence is always in the service of something transcending, guiding, and limiting it, which is reproductive fitness. In other words, either intelligence, like beauty and virtue, transcends and therefore cannot be reduced to genetics; or, it is an ultimately meaningless side effect of our genes. (In fact, we shouldn't even say "our" genes, since this reverses the relation of ownership. According the strict Darwinians, it is our body, or phenotype, that ultimately "belongs" to the "selfish genes.")

But what is human intelligence, really? As mentioned above, if there is aesthetic discernment, then surely there is beauty. Likewise, if man is intelligent in any meaningful sense of the term, then surely there is reality to be apprehended and there is truth to be known. For if intelligence does not know reality or disclose truth, then it hardly deserves the name. In other words, if it is just a more elaborate way to know falsehood and delusion, then truly, there is nothing further to debate, because truth cannot even be conceived, much less known.

Is it possible that strict reductionistic Darwinism could be "true" without contradicting its own principles? I do not see how. As Schuon has written, human intelligence "is the perception of the real and not the 'intellectualization' of the unreal." The discernment of intelligence allows us to pass "from appearances to reality, from forms to essence, and from effects to cause." No animal can know of the reality behind appearances or intuit the essence beneath the form.

Why is human intelligence so perfectly adapted to invisible realties that played no role in the selection of our genes? Why is there nothing in the world commensurate with the nature of human intelligence, which easily transcends everything into which it comes into contact, including our own evolution? If we comprehend our own evolution, isn't this another way of saying that we transcend it? And if we don't comprehend it, isn't Darwinism, ipso facto, false?

Schuon notes the truism that "It is only too evident that mental effort does not automatically give rise to the perception of the real; the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error." How can this be? First, it results from an intelligence "that is exclusively 'horizontal,' hence lacking all awareness of 'vertical' relationships." Secondly, it results from "an extra-intellectual element, such as sentimentality or passion; the exclusivism of 'horizontality' creates a void that the irrational necessarily comes to fill." In short, as all psychoanalysts and true theologians know, reason is more often than not a slave of the passions.

Man is intelligence, just as he is beauty. For this reason, no normal person sets out to love ugliness or know error. Just as good character involves distinguishing between good and evil and willing the former, the virtue of intelligence is its intrinsic love of truth. Was Darwin a truth lover? I would say there is no question that he was. His passion for Truth is obvious at every turn. Therefore, he cannot be a philosophical Darwinian.

Man is intelligence, and intelligence is the transcending of forms and the realization of the invisible Essence; to say human intelligence is to say absoluteness and transcendence. --F. Schuon

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Terrible Simplicity of the Terrible Darwinian Simplifiers (2.14.09)

I'm going spend one more post wrapping things up with Before the Dawn before moving in. When I say "moving in," I mean that literally, for one of the interesting things about reading a book such as this is the exteriorizing effect it has on one's consciousness. Immersion in this kind of infrahuman ideology really can destroy a soul. I do not mean that in the way that a spluttering creationist might mean it, but in a much more subtle way.

However, I am sympathetic to the person of faith who objects to being bullied by this kind of ham-handed, totalitarian scientistic ideology. The uncorrupted soul naturally recoils. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I can well understand how a religious person might read just a few paragraphs of this book and dismiss it as "satanic," because in a very real sense, it is. It's very creepy to immerse oneself in this desolate, simplistic, and one-dimensional world that is so disproportionate to the dignity and majesty of the human soul. I will try to explain what I mean, even though I am not sure I will be able to successfully do so.

You needn't believe in the literal existence of satan in order to know that satan is a deceiver, and that the most dangerous deceivers are the terrible simplifiers -- i.e., Hitler, Stalin, and less radical but still extraordinarily dangerous demagogues such as Barack Obama (relax, troll, I am not comparing Obama to Hitler, even though his simplistically appealing radical agenda would destroy the United States as we know it). I forget who coined the term "terrible simplifiers," but I just googled it and came up with this relevant passage (on an unrelated topic) that gives a sense of what I'm talking about:

"The lack of a correspondence between abstraction and reality is all the more significant, since the real world is profoundly complex and contingent and an abstraction is inevitably simple. The terrible simplifiers who love abstractions cannot stand conditions and conventions muddling their perfect, clear theory. If life does not fit the theory, then it is life that has gone awry and must be made to fit. The terrible simplifiers are always perfectly willing, then, to embrace ideological crusades, violence and upheaval to better realise their 'principles'...."

The promise of violence always follows in the wake of the terrible simplifiers, but the violence to the soul actually occurs at the outset. The physical violence is a consequence of the rebarbarization that goes hand in hand with the simplification which sanctions the violence by encouraging man to be less than he is.

I am not accustomed to reading a book this simple and "mechanical." Although I breezed through hundreds of them in the course of writing my own, it's been awhile. Naturally, in order to complete chapters 1, 2, and 3 of One Cosmos, I had to familiarize myself with the latest findings in cosmology, theoretical biology, paleoanthropology, etc. My specific concern in writing those chapters, now that I think about it, was mainly one thing: origins. What is the origin of the cosmos? Of life? Of the human subject? If we could know these things, then there would be nothing we didn't know: existence, life and mind; or being, will, and interiority. What is the nature of these things? What do they imply about the cosmos?

In posing these questions, my view was much wider than the scientist, for I didn't just want to know how life arose, but what it means that a supposedly dead cosmos can spontaneously come to life. What does this say about the kind of cosmos we inhabit? Is it just a meaningless and trivial fact, or does it cause us to rethink what sort of cosmos this is from the ground up?

Irrespective of whether humans became human 45,000 years ago or 15,000 years ago or 6,000 years ago, what does it mean that our cosmos has an interior horizon -- this calm, reflective center in the midst of swirling creation -- in which it may contemplate its deepest truths? For I can understand how humans could change as a result of becoming better adapted to their changing environment. What I do not understand is what this has to do with our miraculous capacity for transcendence of everything, including ourselves.

Only man is built for transcendence. A man who fails to transcend himself sinks beneath himself. He is not a proper man, but a beast among beasts. What can it mean that the cosmos has produced a being who hangs halfway suspended between what he is and what he is to become, between is and ought, between our genetic blueprints and our transcendent blue prince? (Sorry -- couldn't resist the pun.) For there is no humanness in the absence of the ought. But here again, subverting this reality is behind the agenda of the materialists, for there can be no "ought" in a purely material world. Rather, there is only is. With this brutal reduction, man, whose roots are aloft, is severed from himself and condemned to a narrow ideological prison of his own making.

It is instructive that I can rapidly skim a book such as Before the Dawn in my spare time in a day or two, and fully understand it. There is nothing remotely difficult about it.

On the other hand, not only can one not skim, say, Meditations the Tarot or casually enter the spiritual cathedral of Meister Eckhart, but it takes a lifetime of preparation and "interior work" in order to appreciate them at all. They will be entirely opaque to the uninitiated, regardless of what they think they understand. Furthermore, any work of a true spiritual master is infused with a light and a force that facilitates a direct transformation and mysteriously keeps their words both fresh and inexhaustible, so that one may return to them time and again for new insights. At different times in your life and at different levels of spiritual maturity, they will speak to different parts of you. This is axiomatic: "When I was a child, I understood as a child."

Back to the terrible simplification of the modern Darwinian synthesis. This is it: Everything = Random Error + Environmental Feedback (E = RE + EF). Got it? That is all you need to know because that is all you can know -- although just how you can know it is a bit of a mystery, since it too must be reducible to RE + EF.

Nevertheless, it easily answers all questions. Religion? E = RE + EF. Human groups that engaged in it had more reproductive fitness, that's all. Language? E = RE + EF. Apes that spoke had more babies. Love? E = RE + EF. A trick of the genes. Just a way to get you to reproduce. Beauty? E = RE + EF. The creation of illusion in order to make the pursuit worthwhile. Intelligence? E = RE + EF. Intelligence implies progress, something which is strictly forbidden in the Darwinian view. Nothing is any more or less intelligent, only better adapted to its environment. Wisdom? Don't even go there. No, can't even go there.

E = RE + EF. Got it? Now that you've got it, please bear in mind that you are not permitted to have any other thoughts about reality, because this is the answer that exhausts all questions. It is the graveyard of curiosity, which is now rendered a pointless hindrance to your reproductive fitness. E = RE + EF! E = RE + EF! Are you deaf?! E = RE + EF!

Ironically, this satanic reductionism cannot avoid carrying a sacred ought of its own, as reflected in the anti-religious jihad of the obligatory atheists -- the simple Dennetts and simpler Harrises. Yes, The Gospel According to Darwin (Tail wiggle: Walt) insists that the good news of E = RE + EF should be celebrated on Darwin Day, February 12, the day our savior was born. For this is the day that the word -- the only word there actually is, E = RE + EF -- became flesh. Naturally, before that, the word existed -- it cannot not exist -- but no one knew it.

But why a celebration, unless it is a funeral, since E = RE + EF spells the end of our humanness?

Because it's built into our genes, silly. Celebration increases social solidarity and therefore reproductive fitness. In short, how else are these unappealing losers supposed to get a date on a Saturday night?


Tom Sowell notes that for the terrible environmental simplifiers of the left, their favorite argument is that there is no argument. Furthermore, you're a nazi if you don't accept the illogic.


How do atheists get dates, anyway?

The Love Song of Daniel Dennett:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
No, that would be stupid,
Even though Little Danny
As he is unfairly called by some
Because I had just gotten out of the water
I swear
Does find thee as hot as July,
At risk of sounding needlessly "poetic."
But in reality
Thou art neither lovely nor temperate
Nor anything else, really,
Since I am only attracted to thee because my genes
Hath created the beguiling illusion of thy beauty,
Making thee look worthwhile enough
That I might more ardently pursue thee
Until I get into thy bloomers,
Thus ensuring that my genes survive.
And when the illusion of thy beauty hath faded,
Which it inevitably will,
You know how that works,
I shall move onto a younger coed
With a more appealing hip-to-waste ratio,
Thus signifying her reproductive fitness
And reviving Little Danny's flagging spirits,
To put it delicately.

Happy Valentine's Day, my precious Darwin machine!


Monday, February 12, 2007

The Darkest Hour is Just After the Dawn of Consciousness

I awakened with thoughts of Before the Dawn dancing through my head, so I suppose this is what I am supposed to continue writing about.

I hope my wisecracks about the author's metaphysical shortcomings are not taken to mean that this is in any way a bad book. As a matter of fact, it is an excellent book, and I wish I'd had it on hand when I was working on mine. It does an outstanding job of summarizing what we know about human origins, which is an udderly fascinating subject in its own right. My only beef is with the author's bovine reductionism and scientism, but this simply goes with the academic territoriality.

Scientists are not philosophers, much less metaphysicians, so we should not expect them to be grounded in realities that are above their play grade. Wade is actually a science reporter, and we all know what happens to anything that is filtered through the parochial cultural lens of contemporary liberal journalism. Plus, Dupree -- who exerts a "light" editorial touch on everything I write -- just enjoys sticking it to materialists as much as they enjoy sticking it to us. They're so cluelessly passive aggressive, so they're always surprised when someone hits back. Needless to say, Dupree is never unconscious of his aggression, the unfortunate incident with the non-existent murphy bed notwithstanding.

This is why I so value people such as Whitehead and Polanyi -- the former a gifted mathematician, the latter an accomplished scientist -- who only became philosophers midway through their lives, after having thoroughly seen into -- and beyond -- the inherent limitations of reductionism and materialism. Both Whitehead and Polanyi were well into their 50's when they became philosophers.

Another excellent philosopher of science is the Benedictine priest Stanley Jaki, but of course he comes at it from a specifically Catholic point of view. Speaking of which, Raccoon emeritus Teilhard de Chardin was one of the first visionaries to sketch out the Coon agenda, and in many ways he represents a Western replica of Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary vision. There are a number of books that draw out the parallels, including this one (now apparently out of print) by Beatrice Bruteau, who seems like a lovely person.

As I said, Before the Dawn goes into all of the fascinating research which uses the human genome to make all sorts of clever inferences about our origins. In this regard, it is quite separate from physical archaeology, and there has yet to be a synthesis between the two fields. As you might expect, archaeologists are loath to accept purely abstract genetic inferences if they contradict all of the physical evidence. And with the genetic approach, we are dealing mostly with inferences. It is not analogous to the way DNA is used in the legal system, for example, in the Simpson case, where it was statistically impossible that Simpson was not the murderer. It is more as if the genetic evidence could only place Simpson in the general vicinity of Los Angeles and the decade of the 1990s.

Having said that, some of the implications are rather mind-blowing to contemplate. For example, there is a good possibility that all living humans and infrahumans are descended from a tiny band of us -- as few as 150 -- who somehow, and for unknowable reasons, escaped Africa 45,000 years ago. This is -- probably not coincidentally -- when behaviorally modern humans suddenly appear, after having been anatomically modern for as long as 150,000 years prior to that. Again there is that mysterious gap between human beings and actual humanness.

But is the gap really so mysterious? Yes, I suppose it is. It is something of a black hole in which one is free to speculate as to what happened to facilitate that sudden transition. In my opinion, to simply say "the genes did it" is a major exercise in question-begging and ultimately tautology. It's like asking how Homo Gretzky suddenly evolved so far beyond any previous Homo hockius: his genes did it! Yes, but.... how? How did a hockey player with eyes in the back of his head suddenly arrive out of nowhere?

As a matter of fact, there is a major bit of speculation at the very heart of any program of strictly reductionistic evolutionary psychology, since no one has even a hypothetical clue as to any actual mechanism that might explain how a gene translates into behavior. It is just assumed that there is some link between the two, but no one has any idea how it might work. Nor can it account for the obvious exceptions. Let us say, for example, that man was "selected" for male-female pair bonding. If this were true, then there is no plausible explanation for homosexuality, for any genetic predisposition to this maladaptive behavior would have been weeded out of the genome tens of thousands of years ago. Likewise, it is easy to say that humans have a genetic predisposition to love their children, but how then to explain the universality of child abuse, which is more horrific the further back one travels in history?

You will also no doubt notice that, whatever the scenario, there is a genetic just-so story that can account for it. Homosexuals? Er, people kept them around because they were good at decorating the interior of caves. Music? Er, to get chicks. Same as now. Religion? Er, since it's all bullshit, it must have been for... for social solidarity! I see. Are you saying that man evolved delusions in order to cope with reality? If so, how did you escape this genetically fixed propensity to be out of touch with reality? I see. You didn't. You're a liberal.

Another thing the book confirms is that the idea of the "noble savage" is pure mythology. Rather, the human being is a bad citizen, an extraordinarily violent and bloodthirsty animal. Again, the further back in history you travel, the more violence and mayhem you see. Go all the way back to primitive man, and the rates of homicide vastly exceed anything seen today.

In my book, I referenced the work of archaeologist Steven LeBlanc, who wrote in his Constant Battles that the “cruel and ugly” truth is that in traditional societies an average of twenty-five percent of the men died from warfare. He estimates that the homicide rate of some prehistoric villages would have been 1400 times that of modern Britain and about 70 times that of the United States in 1980. Although roughly 100 million people died from all war-related causes in the twentieth century, Keeley estimated that this figure is twenty times smaller than the losses that might have resulted if the world’s population were still organized into bands, tribes and chiefdoms.

In my opinion, the human genome contains virtually limitless possibilities. It is not that our genes determine this or that possibility in a mechanistic way. Rather, depending largely on cultural factors, one will have the opportunity to actualize one's latent genetic possibilities or essentially waste one's life without ever having been psychologically -- let alone spiritually -- born.

Take the case of my son. Yes, he was born with a certain raw temperament that is undoubtedly rooted in genetics, but it couldn't be more clear to someone who has a thorough grounding in modern attachment theory that the temperament could develop in widely divergent ways depending upon how Mrs. G. and I interact with him. Our brains are not genetically determined. Rather, nature endows us with a vast overabundance of neurons that are either reinforced or ruthlessly weeded out during the first two years of life. All of the broad assumptions of developmental psychoanalysis are now being confirmed by neurobiological research, much to the surprise of scientists who had rejected psychoanalysis as an unprovable mythology.

It is this understanding that I attempted to bring to the analysis of our human origins presented in Chapter 3 of One Cosmos. Since it is possible that I am the first person to attempt this, and since I am hardly an expert in paleoanthropology, there is no reason whatsoever to believe that I am correct in all of the details. However, at the same time, I do not see how I could be completely incorrect in terms of the broad outlines of the argument, which is that the human interior co-evolved with the evolution of parenting. Indeed, it is only through intimate and devoted parenting that a human subject comes into being at all. It is not merely a function of big brains. Humanness must be "teased out" of the brain, so to speak. It doesn't just happen by itself, but emerges within the intersubjective space between mother and infant.

Nowadays, when I take Future Leader to the park, I never cease to be appalled by the unconscious manner in which so many mothers treat their children as objects. I can already see the roots of pathology in some of these children wth my Coon vision. And these are the "good" mothers. It probably sounds judgmental to the defensive, but I literally cannot conceive of subjecting my son to the cruelty of daycare. I'd sooner sell my house than abandon him in this way.

If a mother treats her baby like an object -- undoubtedly because she herself was treated this way, which in turn eclipsed her own subjectivity -- that baby will grow up with major "lacunae" within their field of consciousness. I am quite certain that you have encountered people -- it's a common experience, actually -- who are more "object" than subject. You can see it in their blank, almost dead, eyes, and hear it in their affectless voices that are devoid of "song." They will be limited in their ability to experience you as a subject. It is very much as if their mind can only extend into your consciousness to the exact degree that it extends into their own.

As a matter of fact, this is why most people are so boring. Did you know that boredom in the presence of another is pathognostic? This was an observation of D.W. Winnicott, who said that the analyst's counter-transferential reaction of boredom actually conveyed objective information about the patient's interior. A boring person is in some form or fashion a psychically dead person, which is to say he has become "objectivized." I believe this accounts for why we idealize artists who, despite their human flaws, appear very much alive. Marlon Brando, for example, was completely crazy, but could channel the otherwise unbound craziness into a dramatic role. John Lennon also comes to mind. Both struggled with deadness and depression in their personal lives, but there was a vitally alive and unbound part of themselves that survived and expressed itself through art.

From time to time people ask me for a referral, and I think this is a good rule of thumb for knowing whether or not you are in the hands of a good therapist. A gifted therapist will instantly be able to see within you more deeply than you yourself can see. Furthermore, if he is good, he won't tell you flattering things about yourself, but rather unflattering things in a "containing" way.

I learned very early in my career that it is very easy to comfort the afflicted, which is what lame, "hand-holding," overly maternal therapists do. Rather, the hard part is afflicting the comfortable. This in my view is actually a higher form of empathy -- or at least it must go hand-in-hand with the other kind -- almost exactly parallel to the differences between mother love, which tends to be unconditional, and father love, which tends to have conditions attached. Both are needed. Much narcissism and sociopathy is bred where there is an abundance of the former and an absence of the latter, as in "urban culture," where fathers have been deemed unnecessary by our liberal elites. (Not to mention their belief that there is no difference between men and women anyway).

Contemporary liberalism itself is a gender identity disturbance that revolves around a rejection of masculine virtues and the adoption of a unisex feminized personality as normative. But of course you knew this already.

Speaking of the world's casual cruelty to children and the left's almost definitional moral confusion about it: The Real Children of War. And the Identification With Murderous Aggressors goes gland in hand with the deficient masculinity of the Bill Clinton-Barack Obama type of girlish seducer. You will notice that only liberals are seduced by their likes. Of course Osama would celebrate the election of Obama. He's a little more clued into gender differences than the average liberal.