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.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I've Discovered the Gene For Ignoring my Genes! (2.21.09)

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm in the midst of reading a relatively new and state-of-the-art book on human origins entitled Before the Dawn. I was going to wait until I was finished with it, but I've highlighted so many passages that I probably wouldn't be able to fit it all into one post. Plus it's what I happen to be thinking about at the moment, so now you're stuck with it.

The book is full of all kinds of new factual information, which is always good. However, it is written from the perspective of a primitive New York Timesman, so that all of the facts are implausibly shoehorned into a bland and predictable materialistic paradigm. Therefore, there's a bit of inherent frustration in reading the book, because the writer is an unquestioned devotee of the Darwinian faith, so no matter what anomalies he discovers or mysteries he unearths, the simplistic a priori explanation is always the same: it's all genetics.

As always, mighty "randomness" is the all-powerful "God of the saps" for the metaphysically blind. It explains everything, therefore, dipso fogso, nothing. It is a perfect example of what I wrote the other day about the "demystification of the world."

But that's okay. Facts are facts, no matter how the simple devotees of scientistic magic may try to spin them.

It reminds me of what a friend of mine once said in the midst of enjoying a certain spirited musical performance in the American negro tradition: "If you're not dancing, you're wrong!" This is how I feel about the cosmos: if you're not in awe, you're just wrong. And if you intentionally try to eliminate the awe, well, you're like one of those tight-a** Puritans putting up a sign that says "No Dancing," just because you've long since forgotten how.

Now, even in reading just the first few pages of this book, I can well understand how a traditionally religious person might regard the entire Darwinian enterprise (in its needlessly reductionistic bonehead form) as intrinsically satanic, and just toss the book aside. But this is something that Coons should never do, for our perspective is both wider and deeper -- not to say, higher - than that of mere science. Fitting science into a religious metaphysic should pose no difficulty whatsoever, or it's not much of a religion, is it? If science can't fit comfortably into a little mansion or even double-wide trailer home of God, what kind of God is that?

Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998), arguably the greatest religious metaphysician who ever lived, had no use for evolution and rejected it outright. On the other hand, Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) had no problem at all with it, perhaps even going too far in the opposite direction. In his case, he had a very different personal history than Schuon, which no doubt accounts for their divergent outlooks. In the case of Schuon, he was a deeply alienated European who could not find spiritual sustenance in the decadent environment of 1920's Europe, and therefore looked to the East (including Eastern Christianity, Vedanta and Sufism).

In the case of Aurobindo, he was from exactly the sort of traditional culture that Schuon idealized (India), but received a marvelous education in the West, at Cambridge. This put Aurobindo in the rather unique position (at that time, anyway) of seeing how the decadence of India actually obscured the perennial message at the heart of the Vedanta. He knew that India needed to move forward, not backward, in order to actualize its spiritual destiny. You might say that he saw how India needed to become more Westernized -- i.e., more focused on the material world -- while the West needed to become more "interior" to balance its relentless exteriorizing dynamic.

This is exactly how I see it. I believe our conquest of the the external frontier must be followed by an exploration and colonization of the interior horizon. It is truly the "final frontier": vertical globalization.

And as a matter of fact, this is exactly what has been going on in the West -- albeit in fits and starts and with a lot of wrong turns -- since the time of the closing of the American western frontier in the late 19th century. Just at that point, there was an "interior turn" throughout the West. We see this in art, literature, music, psychoanalysis, and the sudden interest in mysticism, theosophy and the occult. Afterwards, the evolution of this inward turn was disrupted by cataclysmic world-historical events, including World War I, the Great Depression, and then World War II.

Thus, it is no coincidence that we began to see this interiorizing impulse reappear as if from nowhere in the late 50's and 60's, but people such as Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley were just a continuation of what had really gotten underway with the American transcendentalists such as Emerson. Obviously, Emerson can still be read with great profit today, as many of his observations were quite prophetic and remain entirely fresh and contemporary, to say the least. Indeed, viewed from a cosmic-historical standpoint, Emerson is hardly "in the past." He is just yesterday. Or perhaps just up ahead.

The whole new age movement, which emerged out of 1960's style pagan spirituality, represents a false and intrinsically wrong turn in our evolution. It takes certain truths and distorts them, dabbling in things that are not necessarily harmful "from above" but "from below." (I realize that my analysis is somewhat polemical and bobastic, and ignores many exceptions, counter-trends, and ironically positive unintended consequences, so the Bi-Cosmic Deputy may no doubt fine-tune my point in a less ham-handed way.)

In other words, most of the new age blathering that goes by the name "integralism" is nothing more than a co-opting of half-understood spiritual ideas for the purposes of narcissistic inflation (i.e., the lower seizing the higher instead of being transformed by it). These various approaches are spiritually vacuous to Coons because they are generally detached from any timeless revelation and any true source of grace, without which one can only turn around in circles and exalt the self in compensation. "Followers" are required in order to create a space in which infantile omnipotence is projected onto the master, which then creates a blowback of pseudo-grace. This is the trick of the new age careerists. A normal person would be nauseated by such adulation.

My fellow Coons, do you think for one second that Dear Leader couldn't do this if he were possessed of a black heart? Naturally I could not do it with you, because you would see through me and flee in the opposite direction with vomit bags billowing in the wind. But hoo boy, I know full well that I am equipped with the minimum amount of charisma -- if not the requisite sociopathy and narcissism -- to open my little window in the New Age Traveling Salivation Show and promise things I cannot deliver -- to fleece all the Nobodies who want a relationship with an idealized Somebody in order to not feel like the former. But the Somebody also needs to surround himself with Nobodies in order to not feel like the latter. As you may have noticed, only Somebodies are allowed to be Coons. Very substantial Somebodies, not fragile Nobodies. Needless to say, I have no desire to surround myself with Nobodies. I know for a fact that many people come here for the spiritual Somebody-ish comments of readers, not just my post.

Now, how the hell did we get here? I was talking about the book on human origins. I'll be right back. I need to reread what I just wrote......

I give up. Anyway, the book does broadly confirm a number of important points discussed in chapter 3 of One Cosmos, Psychogenesis. Instead of looking just at the archeological evidence, Before the Dawn discusses all of the new research made possible by the Human Genome Project. The data can be studied in all kinds of clever and innovative ways in order to deduce various conclusions about our origins.

The book confirms the fact that there is a vast difference between "anatomically modern" and "behaviorally modern" human beings, the former of which appear as early as 200,000 years ago. And yet, truly human behavior does not emerge until as recently as 45,000 years ago. And it emerged quite suddenly, in such a way that it defies any traditional Darwinan explanation. In fact, many traditional paleo-anthropologists reject the sudden emergence of our humanness, but only because their religion (strict Darwinism) makes it impossible. Therefore, they argue that the transition must have been gradual, even though this is not what the archaeological evidence shows. What do you call someone who maintains a belief system despite contrary evidence?

Anyway, genetics comes to the rescue, because the author of Before the Dawn says that Darwinian evolution must be able to occur much more rapidly than any of us had previously realized. Therefore, whether the transition from ape to human was slow or sudden, it's all good. Darwinism explains it.

What do you call a philosophy that is so elastic that it accounts for opposite scenarios? "I was for the gradual descent of man before I was against it."

You will never hear it come out of my mouth that genes are unimportant things. However, the author makes the point that our DNA is 99% identical to that of a chimpanzee. Oddly, he uses this statistic to emphasize the importance of genes, when to me it would appear to highlight the opposite. I say this because a moment's reflection will reveal to you that the ontological gulf between a human being and any animal is actually infinite.

Put it this way: how would you characterize the distance between an animal, whose every behavior is genetically determined, and a being who has transcended his genetic program to such an extent that he is able to pick and choose those aspects of it that he would prefer to ignore? Again, being that he is a primitive New York Timesman, the author doesn't give a moment's serious thought to religion, but dismisses it with a passing observation buried in a sentence to the effect that it was selected (of course) by our genes "as a means of social cohesion." If so, one can only wonder how he and all of his fellow Homo crapians among the secular left managed to escape this gene's influence?

Again, he seems to be arguing that genes are all-important, but not so important that you can't simply ignore them if you wish. In fact, you can even have contempt for your own genetic religious proclivities (projected into others, of course), which is a rather odd thing. Ever heard of a chimp who had contempt for his banana?

Well I have a busy day ahead of me, so I'd better stop this preluminary discussion for now. It looks like Mrs. G. is giving birth to her first kidney stone today, so my assistance will be required to entertain the savage beast, which I am genetically programmed to do any way. I'll address the book in more detail in a subsequent post.