Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Logophobia of the Left

Not much time this morning. Let's see what we can cover before it's too soon. I have an early morning doctor's appointment, followed by my day gig.

Speaking of which, any other Coons out there have Reynaud's phenomenon? It's pretty common. It's where your peripheral vascular system goes haywire and makes your hands and feet cold all the time. In my case, I guess it's pretty mild. I looked it up on line, and they showed photos of some bad cases, in which the digits turn either white as a sheet or dark blue because of the lack of blood and oxygen. Mine's nothing like that. Ran it by my endo, but he's useless -- said words to the effect of, "well, it's not my fingers, so frankly I'm not that interested" -- so I thought I'd check with an actual vascular specialist, just to make sure there's nothing I can do about it. Usually it's idiopathic, meaning that the idiots don't know what causes it, although diabetics often have cold extremities. Generally it's just a nuisance, but it would be nice to be able to do something about it.

Anyway, neocoon James picked up on what we was puttin' down yesterday about language, and commented that

'The need to reduce everything to something measurable is fine as far as measurable things go, but what factsimians don't appreciate is that so much of the cosmos cannot be measured at all. I just wanted to point out that this idea applies to many areas considered non-spiritual. For example, how do you measure education, or pornography? I've met many people who consider themselves educated and intelligent. They have taken all the tests, and they have the skills that are measured, but frankly they are complete dinks. I work in higher education and the stereotypes are true. It seems that they have focused on skills that can be tested and measured and haven't really thought about the big picture....

"This trend to measure everything and if it can't be measured or defined precisely then it isn't important creates other problems in society besides the loss of all things spiritual.... What about the loss of human judgment? I think a lot of trouble with our legal system comes from people following the rules and ignoring good judgment or common sense. I'm not suggesting we ignore empirical evidence and return to the dark ages, but we have gone too far the other way. Perhaps the pendulum has reached the limit of its empirical swing, and now it's time to swing back towards human judgment. We need a healthy balance, or a recognition that trying to measure the unmeasurable is folly. The factsimian mindset threatens civilization the same way anti-rational Islamists threaten society. We see one clearly, because we have the lens of history. The other we see darkly because we are living it right now."

Much to ponder here, for James has brought awareness to the ultimate "wedge issue," that is, the wedge that modernity placed between language and essences, or between immanence and transcendence. You might say that modernity initially drove in the wedge, but that the postmodernists pounded it all the way in with the axe, thus splitting the log right down the center of the logos.

This gets to the very heart of the luciferian program of the left, for once you have mauled language in this way -- once you have shattered the sacred covenant between word and thing, whether that thing is a material object or immaterial essence -- you have created a linguistic tyranny that clears the way for political tyranny. America could never have even been founded had the framers not had an unproblematic grasp of "self-evident" immaterial essences such as liberty, private property, and other rights that inhere "in the nature of things."

Put another way, almost everything objectionable about the left begins with an assault on human language, which is not this or that specific language, but our very means of access to a transcendent realm charged with the noetic light of the Other. This simply cannot be overemphasized, for it explains the specific way in which revelation is "eternally true," whereas any form of materialism is "eternally false" -- including secular leftism a priori. You will have noticed, however, that leftism must always -- always -- misappropriate and piggyback on this or that liberal or religious truth, truth that it covertly denies at the outset.

To cite just one obvious example, the use of the the state to force "homosexual marriage" upon us obviously has nothing to do with promoting marriage but destroying its very foundation -- including, of course, its linguistic foundation. "Marriage" is a word that actually means something, both literally and spiritually, which is to say, a sacred union between a Man and a Woman. Therefore, anyone with a remnant of common sense -- anyone not already infected by leftism -- knows without thinking about it that homosexuals cannot marry for the same reason that a baseball player cannot kick a field goal. A classical liberal would affirm that homosexuals are free to invent most any form of human arrangement they wish, but they cannot marry without forever destroying both the literal word and the very real -- but "invisible" -- spiritual state it signifies.

But you will also notice that the illiberal left steals another classical liberal concept in order to undermine the meaning of marriage, which is equality. Because of the abuse of language, the illiberal leftist does not mean the same thing as the liberal does by the term "equality." For the classical liberal, equality before the law inevitably redounds to hierarchy, whereas to the leftist, the natural hierarchy that emerges from equality represents de facto inequality, so that full equality must therefore involve the destruction of all hierarchy.

I hope you're getting the point, and that this is not too abstract, for it is a key idea. For the illiberal leftist, "equivalence" is substituted for equality, so that all of the good things that result from equality -- for degrees of goodness can only manifest in a hierarchy of values -- must be undone by a heavy-handed state to enforce equivalence, thereby undermining excellence. The redefinition of marriage is just one example. Due to various anxiety-provoking psychosexual mind parasites that have always been with us, the left hates the idea that men and woman are equal but not equivalent. Therefore, a major part of their perverse agenda is the effacement of sexual differences and the invention of the concept of "gender." Once everyone is a gender and no longer a sex, they are equivalent. And once the sexes are equivalent, then "homosexual marriage" is no different than marriage properly so-called.

To say that my metaphysics has nothing whatsoever to do with "homophobia" should be obvious to all. But it isn't. To further abuse the language -- and use it to further abuse others -- the left invented a new word, "homophobia," with which to club anyone who does not bend over before their rigid agenda. Which only emphasizes that the illiberal leftist obviously believes in hierarchy, just not a natural one. Rather, they wish to impose their hierarchy on the rest of us, always with the assistance of a powerful state that Knows Best.

This ubiquitous pattern of language abuse by the illiberal left was described by Michael Polanyi back in the 1940s. First, undermine the possibility of truth and meaning, so that there is no way to arbitrate between competing "truth claims." Next, seize positions of power in order to arbitrarily impose your own truth. This is how the academy was successfully taken over by people who do not believe in any truth except the one they impose on others and enforce through the mechanisms of speech codes, political correctness, and denial of tenure to those who do not conform. Free scholarship is replaced by all sorts of mechanisms of coercion. You may not be aware of the coercion until you step outside the bounds of what is acceptable, as we see in the global warming debate.

I only have some peripheral awareness of what this idiot Imus is going through. First of all, Imus' greatest offense is that he is an idiot, not a racist. That there are people who do not notice his idiocy mystifies me. In any event, he is now being ground up by the machinery of the compassionate left for using words in such a way that they do not approve.

But of just what abuse of language can the left disapprove in good faith? Do they disapprove of racial animus? Hardly. The Democrats could not even be a functioning party without guilt-ridden whites who gain power by shamelessly exploiting and caricaturing blacks as helpless and dependent children. Are they opposed to degenerate language? Hardly. In most any other context, they celebrate linguistic depravity as "courage," "authenticity," or "being real." Are they opposed to disgusting depictions of blacks as sex-crazed animals and ghetto hos? Er, I don't think so. I have never heard a leftist attack the generally debased world of rap and hip hip (I know, I know, there are exceptions), let alone with the sort of frenzy with which they are piling on the useless Imus.

But this whole pecadillo begs the question, for if language is just a "play of signifiers," what does it matter what anyone says? Certainly this is always the first defense of any prominent leftist who says something vile, which they only do every day. They immediately skirt the content by emphasizing that they are simply patriots engaging in that highest of callings, dissent. If dissent is the highest form of patriotism, why can't Imus just say that he is dissenting from the PC mind control of the left? For one thing, he's too stupid and probably not devious enough to think in that way.

Unlike the left. A couple of weeks ago, Rosie O'Donnell said something far more hateful, implicitly accusing the United States of blowing up the World Trade Centers -- including all the blacks therein. And in her case, it wasn't even a stupid joke. When called on it, she shifted the debate from the insanely vile content of what she said to the noble process in which she had been engaged, and lashed back at those who would dominate and oppress her in her free pursuit of truth!

Damn. Future Leader is stirring. We'll have to continue this line of thought tomorrow. Just ponder this disgusting non-apology by Rosie O'Donnell -- not just the words, but the abuse of language:

--"9/11 affected me deeply, as I know it did many Americans."

Wow, nothing gets past you, does it! Next:

--"The falling of the twin towers served to remind me that many of the assumptions Americans have about their lives are rooted in false feelings of security. "

Hmm. That's an odd thing to be reminded of when people are jumping to their death from a hundred floors up. Where's she going with this? "Assumptions rooted in false feelings of security." Is she talking about our denial of the evils of contemporary Islam? I guess I'm on board.

--"In light of this reminder, I have begun doing exactly what this country, at its best, allows for me to do: inquire. Investigate."

I see. Very good. So you've been reading the Koran, logging onto MEMRI.org., checking out Little Green Footballs, that kind of thing?

"America is great in so many ways, one of which is the freedom to speak, and indeed think, freely."

Indeed. But you sound a little defensive. What does this have to do with accusing the American government of attacking its own citizens on 9-11?

--"I have, of late, begun exercising the rights bestowed upon me by the democratic system I value, and the exercising of these rights has taken the form of an inquiry into what happened five years ago, an inquiry that resists the dominant explanations and that dares to entertain ideas that push me to the edge of what is bearable."

Wo, wo, slow down, sister. Are you suggesting that you're not really a vicious and paranoid hater and kook, but a daring intellectual adventerer who refuses to be dominated by racistsexisthomophobicwhiterethuglicanoppressors and is courageously skirting the edge of unbearable truth? Is that it?

--"I have come to no conclusions and, given the scope of the subject, will not for some time."

Sounds like you've concluded that you'd better shut your piehole about your daring discoveries in order to appease your corporate oppressors and keep your job.

--"If the very act of asking is so destabilizing for people, than I have to wonder whether the fabric of our democracy is indeed so raveled it is beyond salvage."

I see. The people who are exercising their free speech by questioning your sanity are "destabilized" and evidence that our system is beyond repair. Would it surprise you to learn that your continuing presence on national TV is prima faeces evidence of a liberal news media establishment so lacking in credibility or even basic decency that is broken beyond repair?

--"My own belief is that the act of asking is itself reparative, because it brings to life the values on which our constitution rests."

But why then isn't questioning your evil ideas reparative?

--"I am, therefore, pledging my allegiance, hand over heart, trying, as always, for a rigorous truth."

The news-speak credo of the leftist MSMistry of Truth. Pledge allegiance to the Truth you have spent your life undermining.

Not so strange bedfellows and well-fed bellowers: Rosie O'Donnell, New York Times Honored For Liberal Bias By GLAAD.

More on Imus, the decay of language, and the lost art of really insulting someone. Dupree is taking notes.

More on the disorder of Rosie crass and other fascists.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Tone Deaf Factsimians and Their Haudible Godlessness (4.19.09)

(written in haste -- forgive typos)

Needless to say, I am not impressed with the cognitive firepower of the militant atheist crowd, who strike me as being a few nails shy of a Palestinian ghetto blaster. In fact, in the absence of God, there is no reason to be impressed by anyone or anything, since 1) there is nothing we can know with certainty, 2) loveliness and beauty are simply illusions of the nervous system, and 3) believing untruth is morally indistinguishable from believing truth, since there is no ground for truth or morality anyway.

In London there was a recent debate on the motion, "We'd be better off without religion" (TW: Walt). On one side were three passionate atheists -- including Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens -- on the other, three rather lukewarm sounding theists. They took a vote on the motion both before and after the debate. The vote before was 826 votes for the motion, 681 against, and 364 don't knows; at the end, there were 1,205 for, 778 against and 103 don't knows. In short, the number of people who felt we would be better off without religion started with a substantial majority which increased rather dramatically as a result of the debate.

Very well, then. It's official. God doesn't exist. An angry Marxist writer said so.

Cicero wrote that to not know what happened before you were born is to remain a child forever. Likewise, the ubiquitous problem with these clever atheists is that they haven't read the minutes of the last philosophical meeting -- or any meetings, for that matter. They actually believe that they are starting their inquiry into existence afresh, with no preconceptions borrowed -- or stolen is more like it -- from religion and metaphysics. They might look clever, but they are actually what I call "factsimians," that is, humans who reduce truth to fact and therefore sink beneath their humanness and want to pull you down with them.

Now, as I mentioned at the top, I am impressed neither with the intelligence of the atheists (for intelligence is not intelligent where it "knows" falsehood) nor with any of their arguments, which are all "beneath" the level of that which they are discussing. In other words, we are dealing with the question of "adequation," since the basis of all knowledge is conformity between subject and object. There are empirical questions for which adequation is not particularly problematic, although there are obviously areas where our senses do deceive us -- for example, the sun does not circle the earth.

Then again, perhaps it does. Our naked sense impressions tell us that the earth is the center of the universe and that the sun does indeed circle it. However, rational scientific knowledge tells us that our senses deceive us, and that the earth actually revolves around the sun. However, if we adopt a post-Einsteinian view, it would be equally accurate to say that both views are correct -- just as it is equally correct to say that the earth "falls" to the apple, or that when we drive someplace, our destination arrives at us.

The rational view of the solar system tells us that our senses deceive us and that the earth is not the center of the universe. However, if we transcend mere 19th century scientific rationalism and consider the "post-rational" metaphysics of quantum cosmology, then we understand that the mystics are correct in their unanimous view that the center of the cosmos is both everywhere and nowhere -- or, to paraphrase St. Augustine, the cosmos is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference nowhere. Philosophically, this is an instance of "returning to the beginning and knowing the joint for the first time," for the premodern Augustine is perfectly in accord with postmodern quantum theory.

I am hardly anti-Science, but if we want to know God, we can just as well "cut out the middle man" of all of the intervening "-isms" down through the centuries -- empiricism, rationalism, positivism, materialism, Darwinism, what have you -- and, like Augustine, use pure metaphysics to arrive at universal theological truths that cannot not be. This is why no discovery of science will ever disprove the existence of God. To the contrary, to the extent that science converges on truth, then it is converging on Truth, which is to say, God. God does not embrace falsehood, whether scientific or religious.

Therefore, whether they care to hear it or not, the scientist's passionate quest for truth is a religious one, so that, with regard to the above debate, "God won." In fact, I would have to read the transcript, but it is even possible that if the theists had won, then God would have lost -- just as the theists win every debate in the Islamic world, thereby defeating God. Likewise, any small victory of Reason in the Islamic world constitutes a rare victory for God in that God-forsaken part of the world.

Now, the fact of the matter is exactly as Schuon says it is: if everyone were capable of understanding metaphysics, there would be no atheists. But they aren't and there are. I do not have to read the transcripts of the debate to know that these atheists are not philosophers properly so-called, and that they do not understand metaphysics. Rather, they're just "clever guys" -- perhaps even "very clever guys" -- with an inevitably incoherent metaphysic that knows how to aggressively and even cynically interrogate, but not how to comprehend, for comprehension takes place on a vertical plane, the existence of which subverts their entire argument.

But this is what atheists do -- the clever ones, anyway -- for it is what all intellectuals do. Because they are clever, they are very good at understanding and internalizing the fashionable abstractions of the day. As a result, they tend to live in their abstractions, and there is no theory more abstract than atheism, for it superimposes an ultimately sterile dogma over the mystery of being. While this ground of being is a mystery, it is not an absurdity because it is infused with the very same logos that illuminates the mind and allows us to comprehend it. We see beauty or know truth because both are logos calling out to logos. To paraphrase George Steiner, if all of the religious loans made to science were called in at once, there would be no science left standing. Most notably, science cannot operate without the principles of transcendent truth and the objective mind capable of knowing -- and loving -- it, for truth is not pursued for its own sake, but because it partakes of the beautiful and the good.

Atheism is not just "ignorance of God," but it inevitably redounds to ignorance of everything, since God is the seal of truth. To cite several obvious example, scientific materialism cannot tell us anything about what energy, or life, or consciousness actually are -- but this does not mean that they do not exist or that humans cannot know what they are by other means, for we have reliable testimony that they are three aspects that converge upon the same entity, sat-chit-ananda, or being-consciousness-bliss. You could proclaim this to a scientific audience, but it would have no meaning within the constraints of the abstract paradigm they superimpose upon reality in order to reduce it to scientific understanding -- which is to say, measurable quantities. You could also say that life is to matter as mind is to brain as God is to existence, but it wouldn't mean much to a scientistic atheist.

In his Ideas Have Consequences, Richard Weaver summarizes the situation; I am paraphrasing from memory, but he wrote that without imagination the world is simply a brute fact -- there is nothing to spiritualize it. In the scientistic flight from the center to the periphery, one becomes lost in details which cannot be integrated in a holistic way. This "downward pull" puts an end to ideational life, as the resultant fragmentation leads to an obsession with parts, and with it, an inability to intuit the whole. Hyper-specialization leads to a kind of cognitive deformity, as the world shrinks in proportion to our quantification of it. As a pathetic compensation, modern man is puffed up with the vanity of being able to describe some minute portion of the world, but this is merely postmodern provincialism of the most naive sort. In the end, the separation of knowledge from religion is the separation of facts and knowledge from the metaphysics that explains them and gives them meaning.

Elsewhere Weaver observed (it is possbible that these are my own notes, not his exact words) that “Truth is an antecedent reality perceived by the intellect and not the senses," and that "immersion in matter makes man unfit to deal with the problems of matter. Facts are substituted for truth, but there is no knowledge at the level of sensation. Facts do not speak for themselves and experience cannot tell us what we are experiencing. The world is our primary datum, but we do not end our days with a wealth of sense impressions.”

But this is how science -- which should be the pursuit of universal truth -- evolves into metaphysical scientism, which denies universals transcending experience, and therefore ends in bonehead relativism. Put another way, science reduces the world to a coherent absurdity, while metaphysics expands it into a coherent non-absurdity. And there is no reason to take anyone seriously who believes existence to be absurd, since anything they can say will be equally absurd. And no one is more proudly absurd than the atheist.

Now, one of the reasons it is pointless to debate the existence of God is that higher realties do not stand out except to those who stand in them. Perhaps an analogy will be helpful. I subscribe to Stereophile magazine, which is the Bible of high-end audio. Some of the equipment they review is insanely expensive, and there is a never-ending debate in the audio community between the "ears" and the "engineers" as to whether the sonic differences detected by the reviewers actually exist. For example, the official view of a rag such as Consumer Reports is that there is no discernible difference in sound quality between a cheap CD player and an expensive one. Rather, the only issue that counts is reliability. Otherwise you're just wasting your money. Not only that, but you're probably either a fool or a mystagogue -- just like someone who believes in God without any empirical evidence.

In many ways, a debate between atheists and theists is between ears and engineers. Regarding the audio debate, the engineers imagine that there must be some kind of formal test or instrument that can objectively measure and quantify the supposed musical differences. However, as John Atkinson notes in the latest issue, "the very act of such testing appears to minimize the listener's detection of things that can be disturbingly audible under more relaxed conditions." In other words, "too often it is as if the listener is being asked to distinguish between subtle color casts on photographic prints while a bright light is shone in his eyes."

You could set up a double blind study, and rapidly shift back and forth between one sound system and another, but this hasn't the slightest relevance, because this is not the way we listen to music. While you might be able to detect sonic differences between the two, you would probably not be able to detect musical differences -- and those are the only ones that matter. To really tell the difference, you must immerse yourself in musical experience, which means "spending ample time engrossed in music that stirs [your] soul."

Since I know a little bit about audio and most people know nothing, friends will occasionally ask me for recommendations when they want to purchase a component. But I can no more answer this question than if someone were to ask, "what religion should I be? I don't want to waste time looking for God. Just tell me where he is, so I can get on with it."

But just as you can have sound with no musicality, you can have religion with no God. The other day I did an audio comparison between the new CD reissue of the American version of Rubber Soul and my audiophile vinyl pressing. But there was "no comparison." While the CD sounds very good, the vinyl just came alive. It did something to me, something tangibly real but undoubtedly immeasurable. There was an additional dimension that I am quite sure no scientific instrument would ever be able to detect. For it was a vivid quality of "life" or "presence" that I felt in my rubbery soul, not in my concrete ears.

Atheists try to listen for God with their scientific instruments, when He can only be heard with discerning ears.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter's Unday

(Warning: don't try to make sense of this post, or you might miss its absence of a point. I certainly did.)

*****

That's a coincidence. As you might recoil, yesternow we were in the mist of discussing the secret religionship between trauma and spiritual opening, and here it is, the religious unday of them all, the sonny dei that commemorates the undoing of what was did way back when, on that dark and sinny day in the park. Remama? You know the one. Around Eve, it was. We wouldn't have needed the resurrection if it hadn't a' been for that insurrection in paradise, now would we?

Now that I think about it for the first and possibly last time, Christianity is the only religion that is actually rooted in trauma, for no one -- not even the principle actor -- could know that the "D'oh!" of Good Friday would end in the "Woo hoo!" of Resurrection Sunday.

Or, as I shouted out last year at about this time, "Hooray! Surrection!" In the bread and the brew of life, it's a Hoppy Yeaster to you ale! That ought to get a rise out of you, since he is accompliced by all his adoptees and other sacrificial blood relativities.

But siriusly, speaking of bright stars and fixed lights in the night time sky of history, in order to uppereciate the significance of this day, one must oppreciate the trauma that preceded it -- the utter loss and abandonment. Could this be an uber-metaphor for all spiritual openings?

Boris Mouravieff writes that "When man goes in search of the Way, it generally signifies that something within him has collapsed. Apart from exceptional cases, this collapse is preceded by a reassessment of moral values, which in the searcher's eyes lose the value he had previously given to them. This reassessment itself has been provoked by the accumulation of more or less violent shocks which have given birth to violent emotions."

Paradoxically -- but not really -- Mouravieff notes that for most men, "success and joy, instead of awakening them, plunge them into mental sleep." Thus, "from the esoteric point of view, disagreeable shocks are a better base for work than happy accidents."

For one thing, these shocks will tend to ground you in the sense of humility that is demanded of anyone on the spiritual path. Best to start off broken than to fall from a much greater height later on. For when we fall, we only fall to the ground. And for those who believe themselves to be high above the ground, the height is only in their imagination anyway. Nevertheless, their inevitable fall will feel much more catastrophic when it comes, even if the distance from up there to down here was only in their heart.

Mouravieff writes that unless one is unusually saintly, one will not be able to travel the path of the Way "without first passing through an interior bankruptcy; a moral collapse." Furthermore, "Interior collapse leads to certain consequences." For the person who does not accept the reality of the situation, he turns his back "on the path of Access, and thrust[s] himself further into the wilderness." One form of "wilderness" is most assuredly psycho-spiritual leftism, which constitutes a bogus cure for mankind's collective trauma. It leads nowhere -- certainly not vertically. Rather, it ends up being a further elaboration of, and justification for, man's Fall.

A number of Coons have mentioned recently that they have been undergoing a sort of "reversal," in which worldly things that used to interest and excite them no longer do so. It is not a transformation they have consciously willed, but it is simply happening of its own accord. It seems that this is an inevitable consequence of increasingly living one's life in the light of the Real. In so doing, one no longer takes "mirages for reality." It can also leave one feeling painfully isolated from one's fellows -- from the world, even. Mouravieff reminds us of the following words:

If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world... therefore the world hates you (John 15:18-19. But hey, don't worry about it -- don't get retraumatized all over again -- because I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Come again?

It seems that in some form or fashion, the world itself -- or worldly existence -- is a trauma. In fact, I am reminded of Bion's theory of thinking, which he believed was foisted upon the mind in order to deal with the catastrophic absence of the breast (literally understood metaphorically). If you try to imagine it from the infant's point of view, there is no reason to think so long as he and the breast, the beatific and bountiful source of all life, are at one.

But eventually we make the painful discovery that we are separate from the source. There is a "rent" in the smooth surface of being, as thinking is forced upon the mind, in that infinite gap between mouth and breast. For the liberal, this gap is not tolerated, and is even resented; thus their characteristic absence of thought and the perpetual attempt to resurrect the bountiful breast in the form of the mommy state. Every day is anti-Easter.

Back to the world's hostility. Why is the left so hostile to religion? Perhaps because, as Mouravieff suggests, "if he who lives in the wilderness -- and is satisfied to be there, were he to approve of the attitude of one who walks on the path, it would be equivalent to recognizing his own bankruptcy. The more he progresses with his work, the more he becomes an object of hate."

Therefore, why wouldn't the world crucify Jesus? At the time, Rome certainly represented the world. It had always been and would always be, and it certainly would not tolerate someone who presumed to live -- and taught others how to live -- outside its bounds. But like everything else in the world, Rome had a beginning and an end. Only the one they put to death had an end and a beginning.

For horizontal man, there truly is no exit. The cosmos is a closed circle with no doorway in, up, or out. Or perhaps a doorway in, but certainly no way out short of physical death.

But physical death is not so much a way out as a simple end of the line, a final closing of the circle, a period at the end of the death sentence. Period.

Who was this spiraling Jesus who escaped the circle? In manifesting the celestial nature on earth, he did not seem particularly concerned about making it fully intelligible, at least in words. After all, that's why we're still talking and arguing about it two thousand years later. He simply incarnated his cosmic destiny and largely left it for others to figure out. What did it mean? What could it possibly mean?

Rudolf Steiner wrote that "the secrets of the Mysteries became manifest in Christianity." What secrets? What mysteries?

Today marks a transhistorical, metacosmic day, a day to meditate on timeless truth in its metaphysical transparency. An anonymous Greek Orthodox theologian remarked that "We do not ask whether or not the resurrection happened. It is the horizon in which we live." Dwelling within this vertical horizon is a way to contemplate reality at its deepest level -- a level that is well beyond mere discursive thought. For the Father is the transcendent aspect of God, the Son the immanent aspect. How to reconcile them?

Perhaps they were only ever separated by the veil of death. It is said that upon Jesus’ death, the temple veil was rent vertically from top to bottom. The resurrection is reality unveiled, which is to say reveiled, for it is a mysterious new veil with which to engage reality and to reconcile its ultimate terms. For if your powers of deception were cleansed, nothing would appear as it isn't.

But... Could you shed a little less bobscurity on that?

The Catholic theologian Balthasar wrote that "truth is the unconcealment of being, while... the someone to whom being is unconcealed is God."

In a similar vein, Lucy Beckett writes that "If God does not exist, the transcendent has been wiped away, there is no longer a vertical axis for the human soul, but only a horizontal, that is, a historical, axis for the human mind. More particularly, the vertical never crossed the horizontal in the Carnation."

Nor in us. Now that would be a real trauma, not to mention, folly -- to be up to Greek without any kenosis.

I don't know if any of this is making nonsense. I'll just stop now.

Ascent you a son, amen for a child's job. Telos when it's over. Now. It is accomplished. The circle unbroken, by and by. A godsend for a new beginning, a touch of infanity, a bloomin' yes on a rosy cross.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Post-Traumatic Blessed Syndrome

There was some discussion a couple of days ago as to whether a personal trauma is required for a spiritual opening. It began with a thought by Ximeze in response to the tragic situation Cosa is going through:

"It got me to pondering the seemingly necessary relationship between trauma (T) and Coon vision (C). Not that T on it's own must lead to C, rather C seems to be tied somehow to T: the trauma 'has caused them to be more in touch with reality,' and 'denial has been temporarily disabled.'

"I'm thinking the key is 'figure and ground have been reversed.' Many Coons have spoken about events that spurred their 'development', or in looking back, were some kind of jumping-off point, a change from which it is impossible to reverse direction. A Transformative gnosis, as it were.

"Does the trauma reverse figure and ground, or is the reversal of figure and ground itself a 'cause' for trauma, or.........?

"Too binary, simplistic, and flatly one dimensional to account for the whole existentialada of lumin development, but I can 'feel' that the relationship exists.

"Okay, everybody, help me out here."

There is much truth to ponder here, but let us first, for the benefit of neocoons and non-initiates, not refer to the mysterious gift of "Coon vision," but use a more general term that must precede it, which is to say "spiritual opening," or what I generally refer to in the book as (o). Everything depends on this first step. To the extent that someone is irrelegious, it is merely a frank confession that they are closed to the realm of Spirit which it is the task of religion to engage, explore, explicate, and deepen. If we don't open ourselves to it, then Spirit will remain implicate, which is to say, it will be there in potential but no one will know about it -- no different than all of the beautiful sights that existed before eyes evolved to see them.

But this is misleading in a subtle way, for there is no world that isn't an experienced world. For this reason, the idea of a cosmos that cannot be experienced is strictly inconceivable. On the one hand, it is the surprise of all surprises that human observers, after some 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution, suddenly awakened to a beautiful cosmos. But looked at in another way, it was not only unsurprising but, shall we say, "normative." In other words, this is how a ripe old cosmos is supposed to look -- with self-conscious observers at the leading edge of its interior. It's somewhat analogous to a baby. In one sense, watching him grow and change every day is the most miraculous thing you can possibly imagine. Looked at another way, it is the height of banality. Of course children grow up. Of course the cosmos is conscious. What's the big deal?

To repeat, if the realm of Spirit exists, we will know nothing of it unless we are open to it. This is elementary, just as if you close your eyes, you won't see anything.

Now, one of the -- I don't want to say "design flaws," but let us just say one of the inevitabilities of human existence -- is the tendency to become a closed system, not just spiritually, but psychologically, emotionally, behaviorally, and intellectually. Anyone can see that a major aspect of the "innocence" into which we are born is this radical openness to the environment, to people, and to experiences (although there are some temperamental factors that come into play, as some children are naturally more "cautious"; Future Leader is not one of them).

In fact, a baby is such an open system that there is paradoxically "no such thing as a baby," as the psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott observed, only the mother-infant dyad in a communicative space of fluid boundaries. The mother places her mind into the baby, and vice versa -- in fact, not to get too far afield, but the mother is only capable of this empathic entry into the infant's world because she is unconsciously recalling her own internalized mother-infant dyad. Thus, in the mother-infant situation, there are at least three "others" present, the mother's internal baby, her internal mother, and the relationship between them.

This is another double-edged sword, and accounts for more problems than you might realize, as the children pay for the sins of the grandmother's mind parasites. There is no question that mind parasites are transmitted and processed intergenerationally. It would be an interesting exercise to engage in the sort of genealogy the Mormons do, except with regard to the family mind parasites. For example, how far back can one trace the Kennedy illness? Obviously, it didn't just start with Patrick, or Ted, or Joe. And will Arnold's psychic influence prove to be a terminator for at least one line of the Kennedy mind parasites? Perhaps not, due to a host of other variables. We shall see.

As I noted in the Coonifesto, our openness proves to be a blessing and a curse, for it is the only way that we can discover our interior selfhood and connect deeply with the human community. But depending on certain variables -- especially the quality of parenting -- our psychic and emotional openness results in the importation into the psyche of all sorts of things that do not belong there: mind parasites. The problem with a mind parasite is not just the fact that it "takes over the host" and diminishes free will, but that it specifically becomes a closed system that seeks out and engages in the same pattern over and over and over and over and over and over, like this annoying sentence.

Thus, in a certain way, you could even say that the most problematic mind parasite is the "closedness" itself. Irrespective of the specific nature of this or that parasite, the problem is that it causes the psyche to become more or less closed in certain areas. It is analogous to cancer. All cancers are different, and yet, the underlying problem is the same: a part of the body which has broken off from the "whole" and decided to go its own way. Mind parasites can be just like a cancer, in that they can be "grade I," so to speak, and exist unchanged for years and years. Or, they can "metastasize" and grow, eventually taking over the whole psyche. When I see a Keith Olbermann, for example, I experience someone who has been completely taken over by a malignant entity. And obvously, his mind is "closed" and therefore "dead," despite having an intellect that still functions. But the intellect is easily usurped for the purposes of the mind parasite. As a matter of fact, this is much more likely to happen to an intelligent person than a stupid one.

I remember when I was in my therapy -- I forget the exact mind parasite we were discussing, but my analyst said words to the effect of, "what do you expect? It's as intelligent as you are." Ah ha! Exactly! This explains how, say, someone such as Christopher Hitchens can, on the one hand, have such a formidable intellect, but on the other hand, be palpably demon-possessed when his intellect touches on certain matters.

For example, you may have noticed that when this or that beloved cultural figure dies or is in the public consciousness for one reason or another -- Bob Hope, Mother Teresa, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill -- Hitchens will write a vicious, tasteless, and mean-spirited "dys-eulogy" for the departed, enviously ripping them to shreds. Intelligence in the service of a mind parasite, pure and simple. Bill Clinton is another example. We hear that he is supposed to be of above-average intelligence, and yet, the intelligence was clearly highjacked by a narcissistic desire to be loved -- thus, the art of governance by polling, or "show me which way the mob is running, and I will be their leader." Taken to its extreme, this will result in a Parasite who "gives voice" to the collective parasites -- in other words, a demagogue who "mines the stupidity of his constituency," as Walt put it.

So, spiritual growth is ultimately no different from emotional or intellectual growth, in that the first requisite is an open system. Shifting gears a bit, it is pretty obvious when someone has become a closed system emotionally or intellectually. In the former case, their ability to love will be limited, while in the latter case their ability to know truth will be compromised. Put another way, access to the realms of the beautiful and the true will be more or less compromised.

Now, I have heard it speculated that human "religious ability" is analogous to our linguistic ability. There is a time in our childhood when we are totally open to language, and absorb it like a proverbial sponge. My son is going through this right now, learning and inventing new words and word combinations every day. For example, he's a somewhat picky eater, but we discovered through sheer luck that he likes frozen applesauce, for which he invented the word "app-ice." But the point is that there is apparently a "critical time" in development when our "linguistic module" opens up and learns language with the greatest of ease -- not just one's native language, but also foreign ones, if you expose them to one. The language module eventually closes, which is why it is much more difficult for an adult to learn a foreign language, or musical notation, for that matter.

But when it comes right down to it, everything is language, which is to say, information, including religion -- for what is religion but "information" about God? -- either through revelation, which is the divine intellect objectivized, or the divine intellect, which is revelation subjectivized.

Once again we can see all kinds of mindfields before us, because what happens if a child is "religiously traumatized" during this sensitive period of "imprinting," or, conversely, if he is immersed in no religious language at all, into ontological nothingness? In the case of the former, at least a couple of outcomes can be expected. On the one hand, the person may identify with the trauma and become one of those well-known religious robots that the MSM always trots out as a typical example of a religious person. Or, the person may react to the trauma by rejecting religion altogether. They will still be tied to God, but in an obverse fashion, in that they will "worship" the divine by rebelling against it. Nietzsche is somewhat of an archetype for this kind of fevered worship of the rejected God.

The greatest sin of the homosexual priests is not just what they did to those (mostly) young men, but that they may have caused the victims to turn away from God, to become spiritually closed systems. This is a sin that probably cannot be forgiven, but God knows best.

Now, the person who is traumatized by having no religion is obviously in a different boat, or moat, to be exact. For one thing, he won't even know he has been traumatized, and may well confuse his existential situation with being "liberated." I think you will find that this transparently childlike developmental fixation is a common pattern that is easily recognized, for the ego rushes in to fill the void where God would normally be. Ego thus partakes of the omnipotence and omniscience of God, and voila, the childishly proud and grandiose atheist "prophet" -- the Sam Harrises and Daniel Dennetts of the world. But instead of divine attributes -- i.e., majesty, beauty, certitude -- these people's minds will harbor reverse images of these, or what we might call the apes of God -- arrogance, grandiosity, and a bovine self-assuredness that makes a mockery of the absolute certainty of the awakened intellect -- or, shall we say, instead of "certainty of the absolute," they have "certainty of nothingness," or what a Coon would call "total ignorance."

In his outstanding book, The Pentagon's New Map, Thomas Barnett applies these ideas to our problems with the Islamic world. Like me, he doesn't necessarily see the problem as Islam per se, but the deeper problem that the Muslim Middle East is a closed system, or what he calls a dysfunctional "unintegrated gap" amidst the world's deeply interconnected "functioning core."

As such, if we were to take a "martian's eye view" of the human world (not the earth), the Muslim Middle East is exactly analogous to a mind parasite lodged in the world's consciousness. And, like any other mind parasite, it is closed, it has its own agenda, it is out of touch with reality, and it acts out its pathology with others, whom it inducts into its psychodrama. To say that Israel is not the problem is to put it mildly, for Israel is simply a blank screen for the toxic projections of Islamic parasites. It would not be going too far to say that the Muslim world --speaking collectively -- has never actually experienced Israel, any more than a person with Bush Derangement Syndrome has ever seen or heard President Bush.

Barnett describes the trauma of 9-11 as a "system perturbation," in that -- at least for those of us in touch with reality -- it served the purpose of vaulting us out of our dream-like closed system of the Clinton years. This is not to blame Clinton, for almost all of us inhabited this complacent fantasy world prior to 9-11. The problem, of course, is that millions of "9-10 Americans" -- the backward-looking progressives among us -- dealt with the trauma by denying it and projecting the residue into President Bush in an amazingly crude and indiscriminate way.

I say "indiscriminate," because once this parasite was in place, it took on a life of its own and partook of the primitive, cartoon-like omnipotence of the projector, so that the unimaginably evil Bush became responsible for all evil in the world -- global warming, hurricanes, the ubiquitous and pre-existing America-hatred of the international left, stolen elections, spying on us, a "Christian fascist takeover" of government, Christopher Reeve's paralysis, Michael Fox's Parkinson's, Rosie's Borderline Personality Disorder, etc. In short, the trauma did not "open" these people, but made them pathologically closed.

Likewise, what we are attempting to affect in Iraq is nothing less than a reciprocal system perturbation that will vault the Middle East out of the well-worn grooves of its centuries-long closed system. So yes, our liberation of Iraq was an instance of "overturning the chess board," not for the purpose of merely ending the game, but for the purpose of allowing it to begin.

This is getting pretty longwinded, isn't it? I apologize. If I had more time, these posts would be shorter. Tomorrow we'll try to apply some of these ideas to the relationship between trauma and spiritual opening. Because sometimes you have to crack an egghead if you want to see an om alight.

Friday, April 06, 2007

An Eye For a Wedgie

Yesterday's post provoked a couple of interesting sidebars, the question of whether trauma is a prerequisite for a spiritual opening, and what it means to "forgive our enemies."

Although I am cautious about historicizing revelation, nevertheless, there are times that it is necessary to do so in order to avoid missing the meaning of a teaching. To cite one obvious example, you will often hear concrete and spiritually illiterate liberals citing the adage of "an eye for an eye" to brand an act as mindless and pitiless vengeance, when the opposite meaning was intended by that phrase. First of all, it has nothing to do with gouging out eyes or cutting off hands, but is a figure of speech intended to convey the then extremely novel idea that punishment must be proportionate if it is to be just -- that it must fit the crime. If someone steps on your toe, you do not respond by giving them a third degree nuggy or serious wedgie. In fact, there is nothing in the Torah about "wedgies," partly because underwear hadn't even been invented yet.

Uber-moonbat Mahatma Gandhi is responsible for one of the left's favorite wacksioms, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and the whole world would soon be blind and toothless." But one of the reasons contemporary liberalism is spiritually blind and intellectually toothless is that it is painfully rooted in a false canal of justice, in that they specialize in rewarding bad or evil and punishing good. After all, the primary purpose of a judicial system is not to make us feel good -- as some commenters implied yesterday -- but to make civilization and community possible.

In my opinion, if all good people were to take Jesus' advice out of context and adopt the radical view that we are to turn the other cheek and not resist the evil doer, it would spell the end of civilization, not to mention very sore cheeks from the repeated wedgies. There is the individual and the community, the micro and the macro, but the very possibility of the individual is rooted in community. Therefore, any moral code that intrinsically results in the destruction of the community is for me a moral non-starter. It is narcissistic in the extreme, and there is nothing spiritual about it. There is nothing admirable about Tibet's pacifism in the face of the genocidal Chinese communists. Talk about turning a narcissity into a virtue.

Someone yesterday suggested that Sri Aurobindo was essentially a pacifist like Gandhi, the Dalai Lama (who is apparently not as one-dimensional as his followers -- see link at bottom), or Christian leftists, but nothing could be further from the truth. Nor, as the reader stated, did he believe that evil was simply here for the purposes of our spiritual instruction. For example with regard to World War II, he wrote that a victorious Germany would spell an end to

"freedom and hope of light and truth, and the [spiritual] work that has to be done will be subjected to conditions which would make it humanly impossible; there will be a reign of falsehood and darkness, a cruel oppression and degradation for most of the human race such as people in this country do not dream of and cannot yet realize."

Could these words not apply equally to the falsehood, darkness, oppression, and degradation of Islamist evil? Are we really supposed to turn the other cheek and return their evil with kindness?

Yes, absolutely, for what could be a greater kindness than risking American lives to liberate Iraqis from tyranny and for the first time give their nation of slaves the opportunity to develop their human potential? In the past I have made a joking reference to the idea that, "you take out two of our buildings, and we take out two of your countries." Now, if we had actually wanted to, we could have utterly reduced Afghanistan and Iraq to rubble. This would not have been an eye for an eye, but would have been a disproportionate response.

And in fact, our response to the terrorists represents the quintessence of Jesus' advice about transcending the merely symmetrical justice of an eye for an eye. In its context, I believe Jesus was suggesting that we should go even further than what the law calls for if we wish to be perfect, not to abandon the idea of justice altogether. And in my opinion, Americans are so steeped in Christian ethics that we can hardly imagine doing otherwise. I say this with both caution and humility, but to a certain undeniable extent we are no longer the people to whom Jesus was expressing these novel ideas 2000 years ago, because of the very efficacy of his teachings. In the ancient world, there was not even the conception of a benign leviathan such as the United States that conquers countries in order to liberate them. There was only Rome and other imperial powers, which operated along completely different lines, to say the least.

Perhaps a trivial analogy would be helpful. Imagine if Jesus had discovered the germ theory. As a result, he says, "You have heard from the Jews that ritual cleanliness is important. I say, forget all that. You're not as clean as you think. Just wash your hands several times a day, and you shall conquer communicable disease." Now in its context, this would have represented truly revolutionary and helpful advice. But today, we know all about germ theory. It is "in our bones," so to speak. We are all the beneficiaries of 150 years of awareness of the reality of germs, so the advice wouldn't mean the same thing to us. On the other hand, it is possible that sub-Saharan Africans could benefit from this sound hygienic advice -- just as the primitive Muslim world could clearly benefit from Jesus' advice about turning the other cheek and forgiving enemies. For radical Muslims are taught to return kindness with evil, and destroy only to destroy, not to build.

If you take certain statements of Jesus out of context, you will end up with a deranged and evil morality that is no better than the King of all Spiritual Hucksters, Deepak Chopra. Of our "primitive" Western morality, he has written, for example, that "America leads the world in executing criminals and is among the few Western countries that still retain the death penalty." Obviously the operative word is criminals, although to be accurate he should have said murderers. In the countries we are fighting, the criminals are in charge and murder the innocent, so he has hardly drawn a legitimate comparison.

Chopra has also written that "the U.S. has a higher proportion of its citizens behind bars than Stalin put into the Gulag," a completely idiotic statement in view of the fact that the Soviet Union was a prison -- as are Iran or Saudi Arabia. Chopra says that our prisons "are incredibly inhumane by any standard except a concentration camp." Yes, I'm sure he'd prefer to live in an Iranian or Chinese prison.

How on earth does someone become as morally deranged as Deepak Chopra? What is the source of such an enfeebled ability to reason in the realm of morality? It's not just that he's wrong -- rather, it is that he reverses good and evil, right and wrong, decent and indecent. So it's more than just moral ignorance. It's some kind of active process that bypasses his conscience and makes it dysfunctional. It is a moral dementia.

At least in part, this moral dementia seems to come from a radical leftist application of never resisting evil and always turning the other cheek. Perhaps surprisingly, it doesn't come from orthodox Hinduism or Vedanta. The Bhagavad Gita, probably the most beloved text in Hinduism, takes the form of a dialogue between a frightened and equivocating warrior, Arjuna, and the incarnate god, Krishna. Arjuna is afraid to do what needs to be done -- which is kill the bad guys -- but Krishna responds,

"You ought not to hesitate; for to a warrior, there is nothing nobler than a righteous war. But if you refuse to fight in this righteous war, you will be turning aside from your duty. You will be a sinner, and disgraced.... Your enemies will also slander your courage.... Shake off this fever of ignorance.... Be free from the sense of ego. Dedicate your actions to me. Then go forward and fight."

Likewise, contrary to what reader Ned suggested yesterday, Aurobindo wrote in his Essays on the Gita that it "does not preach indifference to good and evil for the ordinary life of man, where such a doctrine would have the most pernicious consequences." He dismisses the notion that human beings are at a stage in their evolution that they can use "soul-force" (Ahimsa) alone to stop evil, as knaves such as Chopra and Gandhi would have it. In the face of such "soul force," the evil "in men and nations tramples down, breaks, slaughters, burns, pollutes." Resort to passive resistance and "you have perhaps caused as much destruction of life by your abstinence as others by resort to violence."

"A day may come -- must surely come -- when humanity will be ready spiritually, morally, socially for the reign of universal peace; meanwhile the aspect of battle and the nature and function of man as a fighter have to be accepted and accounted for by any practical philosophy of religion."

And here is the key: for it is not compassion which causes Arjuna to reject his mission to fight evil. Rather, as Aurobindo writes, "That is not compassion but an impotence full of weak self-pity, a recoil from the mental suffering which his act must entail on himself.... [It is] also a form of self-indulgence... This pity is a weakness of the mind and senses -- a weakness which may well be beneficial to men of a lower grade of development, who have to be weak because otherwise they will be hard and cruel; for they have to cure the harsher by the gentler forms of egoism" [emphasis mine].

I believe this last statement is a key to Jesus' meaning with regard to evil, both fighting it and forgiving it. Again, as I always emphasize, I am not a Christian theologian -- as if you didn't know, so there is no need to remind me of that, and I hope it goes without saying that all card-carrying Coons are free to disagree with me (I say this because there appears to be an occasional trepidation on that score -- as if Dupree is authorized to discipline Coons in good standing, and not just trolls). Nevertheless, I am moved to respectfully reject certain popular and even authorized interpretations of Jesus for the same reason that I am moved to reject the Vatican's economically illiterate pronouncements on the evils of capitalism.

We must be able to say the following without flinching, both because it is obvious and because it is compassionate: the vast majority of the world still consists of half-civilized men of "the lower grade of development" who must take Jesus' words literally and become weak in order to avoid being hard and cruel. Folks, this is why we cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. It is not a moral problem for America to have nuclear weapons, because we have 2000 years under our pelts of curbing the will to power and showing compassion for the weak. Likewise, if Israel were anything resembling the psychotic delusions of Muslims, there would be no Muslims. Israel would have behaved like uncivilized Muslims and annihilated the so-called Palestinians long ago -- just as the Palestinians would do to Israel in a heartbeat if given the opportunity or if they had beating hearts.

Now, having said that, I must reiterate that I say it with great caution and with great humility, for it is nevertheless necessary for each individual human to internalize Christ's teachings about evil and forgiveness, and to always put them into practice in day-to-day life. It is part of what most of us in the West naturally do in the socialization of our children, in order to make them civilized. You will notice that they do the opposite in the Islamic world, where they specifically inculcate a spirit of hatred and vengeance in their children, something which Charles at LGF has documented ad nauseam. The Islamic world is in desperate need of taking quite literally the words, "I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Only in so doing will they be able to move beyond their present historical, developmental, moral, and psycho-spiritual rut.

I have heard it said by at least one teacher whom I respect, that Jesus' statement should be taken to mean "resent not evil," which again, most of us in the West already adhere to. How many in the West walk around still resenting Germany, or Japan, or Vietnam? But Muslims are still steamed about things that happened a thousand years ago. Likewse, backward-looking progressives will never get over the 2000 election, or Watergate, or the Gulf of Tonkin, or slavery, or you name it. They are the party of institutionalized resentment. Ronald Reagan hated communism, and appropriately so. But was he a resentful man? Hardly.

Furthermore, you will note that there is a symbiotic relationship between Islamists, who are "beneath" Jesus' counsel about turning the other cheek, and leftists, who are "parallel" to it, i.e., who take it literally in order to justify their weakness, cowardice, and moral vanity. Which is why, given enough time, the former will simply give wedgies to the latter before slaughtering them.

Did Christ teach love or is that just a liberal bias? In the current climate, it's hard to remember.... The reversal of Christianity from a religion of love to a religion of hate is the greatest religious tragedy of our time.... [We] can't join any sect that preaches intolerance, yet we can't fight it, either, because by definition fighting is a form of intolerance. --Deepak Chopra

That I address you as a friend is no formality. I own no foes. My business in life has been for the past 33 years to enlist the friendship of the whole of humanity by befriending mankind, irrespective of race, colour or creed. --Letter from Gandhi to Adolf Hitler

It is suggested that Sri Aurobindo was a forerunner of [Gandhi's] gospel of Ahimsa. This is quite incorrect. Sri Aurobindo is neither an impotent moralist nor a weak pacifist.... Peace is a part of the highest ideal, but it must be spiritual or at the very least psychological in its basis; without a change in human nature it cannot come with any finality. If it is attempted on any other basis (moral principle or gospel of Ahimsa or any other), it will fail and even may leave things worse than before. --Sri Aurobindo, On Himself

It is absurd to want to abolish the death penalty on the grounds that one would not like to be in the condemned man’s place; to be in the place of the condemned man is at the same time to be the murderer; if the condemned man can earn our sympathy it is precisely by being able to recognize his crime and by desiring to pay for it with his life, thereby removing all antagonism between him and us. --Frithjof Schuon

*****

A more nuanced view of the Dalai Lama (TW: Walt).

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Living in the Shadow of the Worst Possible Thing

Reader Cosanostradamus brings us dreadful news about the coldblooded murder of a teammate on his son's college lacrosse team. Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with all those who are directly affected.

As Cosanostradamus suggests, evil of this magnitude is literally beyond conception. Faced with it, you are plunged into a world that is beyond logic and sense. Whatever you thought about the world before no longer applies, or at the very least, it is going to be seriously challenged. It does have a distant analogy to my recent encounter with that snake in the wild, only magnified a thousand fold. As he says, "Similar evil scenarios get repeated daily across the globe and it's too easy to come up with some philosophical explanation when it's far enough away. But when it gets close, there is a visceral red gut reaction that comes from the deep. We don't live life just in our heads; we have far more investment here than that."

In what follows, I sincerely hope I do not cheapen anything Cosnostradamus and others who are closely connected to this situation are going through. To "analyze" it at all in a detached way is a form of sacrilege. And as he says, "maybe we are asking the wrong question when dealing with the personal lashes of evil. Maybe we are called only to answer it with fierce love and attention to life."

I think that is true. We must understand evil viscerally and have an appropriately visceral, but always sober, response to it. To the extent that we lose contact with this visceral reaction, it does not make us more civilized -- as the contemporary liberal imagines -- but less so. It alienates us from our core of humanness, and clears the path to the leftist's overturning of the moral order of the world. We end up being like that fooish unnaturalist who attempted to live with grizzly bears. Just as the leftist does with our human enemies, he disabled a deep and wordless part of his mind that connected him with primordial reality -- with nature red in tooth and claw. In other words, he imagined that he was connecting with nature, when he was actually disconnecting from it -- both natura naturans and human nature.

Whoever is responsible for this murder deserves the swiftest and most severe justice available to us, which is the solemn taking of his life. He has stolen something infinite, something priceless, something that can never be replaced, not just from the person whose life he wrenched from the world, but from hundreds and perhaps thousands of others who form concentric circles of connectedness around his epicenter. His immediate loved ones -- parents, grandparents and siblings -- are simply crucified. The rest -- friends, teammates, and others -- will live in the shadow of this crucifixion, many for the rest of their lives.

In a very different way, I too live in the shadow of the Worst Possible Thing, but even so, it is considerably tempered by virtue of the fact that it was not intentional. It was a tragedy, but it was not evil, which I suppose is the only thing that makes it remotely assimilable. I am speaking of the sudden death of my sister-in-law four years ago. She died of a routine staph infection that overwhelmed her body within hours, so that she died of toxic shock within two weeks despite the finest medical care the world had to offer in New York.

As I said, it was not evil, but it nevertheless had the effect of completely pulling the cosmic floor out from under me. I mean this literally, and I am sure others will have experienced the sensation at one time or another. Normally the world is there to catch us when we fall, so to speak. We fall only so far, but no further. We get sick, but only to a point, and then miraculously get better. Bad things happen, but they don't last forever. Somehow, things always turn around -- "all things must pass."

But occasionally we are faced with a "one way slide" that cannot be arrested. Please, I do not intend to make this about me, but this was the feeling that occurred with my sister-in-law's illness. She's in the hospital? Great! That means whatever the problem is, it is now essentially solved. She slid down. Now she will slide back up. Back to what I was doing.

But she kept sliding and sliding down -- and the rest of us with her -- in a way that could not be arrested, all the way to the bottom. As it so happened, she died on her son's second birthday, making it all the more traumatically ironic. Now, my son's second birthday is approaching. I am once again in the shadow of what happened four years ago. And to a lesser or greater extent, I will live in that shadow for the rest of my life. It cannot be forgotten, if only because it will always remember me in some way. Since I am currently closer to the shadow, I cannot help "remembering" things that never even happened to me -- for example, what it must have been like for my brother-in-law, Steve, that first night, when Aiden cried out "mama" in the usual way.

Crucifixion.

For me, the whole realm of "health" has been permanently invaded by this shadow, so that I can never look at it in quite the same way again, mine or others. You could say that I have simply been "traumatized," but I don't think so. Rather, I think it is reality, a reality that most people must deny in order to get through life.

I have treated many cases of post-traumatic stress, and one thing I always mention to them is that, in a way, their trauma has caused them not to be less in touch with reality, as is true of most mental illnesses. Rather, in a certain way, it has caused them to be more in touch with reality. This is because the denial -- which is a defense mechanism -- which allows all of us to get through the world has been temporarily disabled. Figure and ground have been reversed, so they vividly see this or that danger that the rest of us deny.

A typical example is someone who has been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident and becomes apprehensive about driving. But some 40 or 50,000 Americans die each year in automobile accidents, so the traumatized individual is hardly out of touch with reality. Imagine if the ghouls of the MSM kept a running tally of this "grim statistic" every day, day in and day out, as they do with the war in Iraq. Every day, on every newscast, the lead story would be: "Another day of death and serious injury on America's bloody highways, with no end in sight. Today another 100 people perished behind the wheel, innocent people on the way to the grocery store, or perhaps to a well-earned vacation."

Or what if they kept score of all the murders and other serious crimes committed by illegal aliens in America? Do you doubt for one second that this would have a similar effect on the immigration debate as it has had on attitudes toward the war? You might even say that the MSM is attempting, in its always perverse way, to induce a case of post-traumatic stress among Americans so that they lose the will to fight.

I say this because they could easily cause the opposite emotional reaction if they were so inclined, by showing what the terrorists have done to us over and over again, and with that, keeping a running tally of how many of these evil bastards we killed that day. But they never show what the terrorists have done. History is sanitized of this evil, which in itself is a great evil. It is as evil as teaching about World War II but omitting that little part about the Holocaust and showing only Dresden, or teaching about Hiroshima but not Pearl Harbor -- for the former was a great mercy in light of the unforgivable barbarism of the latter. It was civilization responding with all it could muster to pure evil -- something we are apparently no longer capable of doing because of the creeping spiritual disease of leftism.

For if there is one thing that has always characterized and defined leftism -- and what makes them so dangerous -- it is naivete about human evil. One thing for which I give George Bush credit -- and for which history will eventually reward him -- is for never forgetting the nature of the great evil we are up against. Everyone was traumatized by 9-11, but within a matter of days, the left had already begun manifesting a deeply pathological reaction to the trauma, displacing their reaction from the terrorists onto the West in general, America in particular, and President Bush specifically. And it has not let up since. It is so sick and pathological that one could literally post about it every day.

President Bush lives in the shadow of the evil of 9-11 in what I regard as a healthy and realistic way, inevitable tactical mistakes notwithstanding. To his great credit -- because it brings him nothing but internal pain and external scorn -- it is something he refuses to forget. It is not accurate to say that leftists forgot about 9-11 and went into denial. Rather, they remember it in their own twisted way -- Rosie O'Donnell is the current poster infant -- by displacing their rage onto President Bush, which is just about the greatest gift they could offer our enemies. Now, keep in mind, I am not questioning their patriotism. Rather, I don't think there's any patriotism to question. Democrats would much prefer to hand a defeat to President Bush than to the terrorists. It's not even a question.

I remember when I made the "mistake" of listening the audio of the Muslim savages cutting off Nick Berg's head. I say "mistake," but this is actually something that Americans should have been required to watch, hear, and bear within their psyches. But as far as the Orwellian MSMistry of Truth is concerned, it did not happen. But imagine if the reverse had occurred -- imagine if we had actually tortured someone at Gitmo or Abu Ghraib. They would have never stopped showing it. This is why we can say without flinching that the liberal MSM serves evil and is an enemy of America. Please bear in mind that I am not saying that this or that individual is evil. Rather, I am simply talking about the reality of the institution. It serves evil ends. We'll have to get into their motivations in a later post.

In any event, when I heard the audio of Nick Berg's life being snuffed, it absolutely overloaded my circuits. I suppose you only discover how much reality you are capable of assimilating when you are faced with too much of it at once. I did something I had never done before, in that I spontaneously fell to my knees and muttered "oh my God," not in any kind of rehearsed way, but from the depths of someplace way beyond thought. I was just overwhelmed by the truly unspeakable, unthinkable, and unimaginable magnitude of the evil. In a way, I suppose it was also a very pure experience of God as well, because it came from a place that is way beyond mere concepts of God. Undoubtedly, this is what the account of Christ's passion is trying to drive home. Human evil doesn't get more concrete and "in your face" than that.

To paraphrase our Unknown Friend, it is not as if the Christian God exerts complete control over history from the top down. After all, he himself was crucified in it. Something to ponder. But only for a lifetime.

Which circles back to the only appropriate response to what Cosanostradamus is dealing with. As he said, when it gets close, there is a visceral red gut reaction that comes from the deep, and maybe we are called only to answer it with fierce love and attention to life.

Love, yes, always. But the operative word is fierce -- absolute fierceness in defense of what is good, what is decent, what is beautiful, what is holy, and of all that is worthy of love. We are not supposed to "gently" love great evil, a perversion of the meaning of the words, "love your enemy." Love of evil is not love, but a disgusting form of hate. God hates evil. For humans, hating evil -- again, always with solemnity and sobriety, not the intoxication of the left -- is love in action.

When a great evil occurs -- Columbine, Oklahoma City, 9-11 -- you will inevitably hear liberals who come out of the woodwork advising us to "love" or "hug our children," and all that.

Wrong response. We already do that. Rather, if anyone -- or any global movement -- is so evil that they wish to so much as harm a hair on the head of our children, kill them. Doing so is the height of civilization, because civilization can evolve no higher than our willingness to fiercely defend it from its internal and external enemies. Liberals think fierceness is uncivilized unless they are attacking Karl Rove's motorcade, or fiercely fighting for the life of the predator who murdered the teammate of Cosanostradamus' son.

Only by remembering evil can any good come of it. Conversely, forgetting it is to die of it -- both physically and spiritually.

May a just God remember the victims and never forget the evil ones who prey on the innocent.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Hisspered Premises and Sweet Nothings of the Snake on the Cosmic Floor

Regarding spiritual ophiology, reader Magnus Itland commented, "Actually I'm more interested in prevention. Today's entry seems on the verge of some revelation about the part in an otherwise healthy person that is drawn toward the creepy crawling poisonous danger." Maybe, maybe not. We shall see.

There must be as many stories of what attracts one to the snake as there are people. To answer the question, all you must do is look within and remember those times when you felt the hypnotic or intoxicating lure of the Dark One (who can never actually be "one," for he is intrinsically an outward and "dissipating" force).

I mentioned yesterday -- and several commenters confirmed it -- that when you are in the presence of a snake (not as in a zoo, but when the snake erupts into your world unexpectedly), it is an other-worldly experience. And when I say "other-worldly," I mean this literally, for there are different worlds that represent differing forms of our sensibility. There is no world outside this sensibility -- which should not be taken to mean that we create the world, or that the world is not an objective place. Nevertheless, I think you will agree that, for example, if you have ever been depressed, the world becomes an entirely different place. As I mentioned the other day, the only world we can experience is an experienced world, and experience takes place in the fluid and dynamic transitional space between world and nervous system.

This is why it is impossible to imagine what the world is actually like for another animal, such as a woman (that is a compliment, by the way). Colonel Beaglehole once told me that Alan Watts mentioned to him that when we see a fox chasing a rabbit, we imagine that the rabbit is "frightened." But from the rabbit's point of view, he may be no more frightened than we are when we see a flashing red danger sign in a crosswalk. For the rabbit, the experience may be more like, whatever. After all, pedestrians usually don't get hit by cars, and the rabbit usually gets away. But Alan Watts never sobered up, so what must it have been like to be him?

Try to imagine what it would be like if your olfactory system were your dominant sense, as in most dogs. When we took the late Savannah for a walk, she would naturally sniff every tree, every blade of grass, looking for relevant information. Dogs can detect something like one part of urine in 1,000 parts of water. We would say that Savannah was just "reading her pee-mail." She didn't so much see the world as smell the world. As such, after the rain, it would be as if her entire world had been washed away -- just a complete blank. (More generally, what does God smell like? For Savannah, I suppose he smelled like me -- The Man With All the Treats.)

Now, it goes without saying, except that it doesn't, that human beings are armed with a sensory apparatus that give us access to invisible worlds -- worlds beyond the five exterior senses. Indeed, this is what makes us human, for reduced to our senses, the human world absolutely disappears and we are once again animals. The senses "sponsor" a human world, so to speak, but they do not create it. There is no knowledge at the level of the senses. This in itself is an important clue into the ontology of evil, for the Evil One wants us to believe that "reality" is at the sensory, which is to say, self-sufficient material level.

Remember, the world is a form of our sensibility; therefore, the materialist would like for you to believe that the material world is the "real world." But what he is really arguing -- in an incoherent and logically self-refuting manner, I might add -- is that the senses disclose ultimate reality, that the objects disclosed by human touch or sight exist independently of touch or sight. But sight cannot tell you what you are seeing. For that, you require a human knower. Matter does not shout out "I am matter, and that's all there is, folks!," except to bad philosophers who hallucinate, or bad hallucinators who philosophize.

For example, animals cannot hear music. Or let us say, they can only hear it. But a human being can "hold" the musical object -- for example, a symphony -- and hear it reveal its harmonic depth and melodic wholeness unfolding in time. Who is more in touch with musical reality, the materialist dog or the idealist human? Where is this musical object? Is it embodied in the score? Can we look at it and have the same musical experience? And does the musical experience reveal aesthetic truth?

I don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but to extend the analogy: which view reflects more adequate contact with reality, Sam Harris' feeble letter to a Christian nation, or the Bible's timeless letters to the feeble atheist? Forget about God, for the moment. Which book contains wisdom, wisdom embodying the art of human living? Is there such a thing as wisdom, or is there only empirical knowledge, the data of the senses? And if the latter, is that very wise? Of course not. It's very stupid, to say the least. But only humans can be stupid, for the "stupid world" is obviously one of the worlds accessible to humans.

What a human being possesses first and foremost is a means of accessing the interior of the cosmos. For example, we are able to "read" faces in such a way that we are literally able to enter the psychic world of another. And I use the word "literally" advisedly, because either we can or we cannot do this. And unless we are severely autistic or suffering from organic brain damage, we can. As it so happens, this access to interiors is everything for humans, because it is -- again, literally -- the hole in creation through which divine energies flow, where degrees of truth, beauty and decency reveal themselves, and where love abides.

In short, human beings are equipped with a sensory appartus that reveals higher worlds. This is something that has always been known until quite recently, and it is something you probably already know unless you are highly educated in acquired ignorance, like Dr. Qi and so many other untellectual banalators of his illk.

Now, in a certain sense, a religious practice is no different than, say, a workout regimen. You work out to keep your muscles strong, to maintain flexibility, to promote cardiovascular fitness, and to look good naked. Likewise, as I have said before, you practice a religion in order to deepen your relationship to what I call O, by honing your ability to intuit it and ultimately conform and live your life in its light. In other words, you do not first decide whether or not you think God exists, because you can't figure that out with the mind anyway. Rather, you practice a religion because it is the time-tested way to deepen your understanding of the divine reality, and for your soul to look good naked, without all the alibis, rationalizations, and other intellectual fog leaves.

For this reason, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and other obligatory atheists are like tone deaf people who have determined that music does not exist, and who wish to impose their dopey new testavus on the rest of us. Truly, they remind me of "deafness advocates" who are against the cochlear implant, or of academically correctivists who think that all cultures are equally valuable and beautiful, no matter how barbaric and out of touch with reality. Since transcendent truth does not exist, then degrees of reality cannot exist. Rather, there is only the blunt instrument of bovine materialism. In fact, when I think of these atheistic medullards, I imagine not a human head, but a closed fist at the end of a neck.

Now, back to the snake and what he represents. Because humans are human, we can sense both good and evil. Because good "descends" from above, we have access to it and and can sense its contours and dimensions -- its ontological weight. This is why we can cry at certain acts of goodness, for the tears signify that we have touched the divine plane.

I will not get into the disordered state of the soul of such an individual, but let us just say that you have to have a very malevolent agenda -- even if you do not realize it -- to teach young people that the realm of the Good does not exist, or that it is just arbitrary or relative, a human creation. Frankly, you need a millstone hung around your tenured neck, but we won't go there for now.

The agenda of the snake is to sybilistically suggessssst that this anterior world of the good does not really exissssst. Rather, we create it. As such, it is but a small leap to the thoroughly unrealistic but intoxicating conclusion that I am not creature but created, a "bright and gory sun god cast upon an alien shore," as I think Henry Miller put it. Evil is that which, in the words of Schuon, "thwarts a maximum of souls as regards their final end." And who are the great soul-thwarters of the day?

There is Principle and there is its Manifestation. In order for there to be a manifestation separate from God, it cannot be coequal with the perfections of God, but must in some sense represent a privation. Here again, this is something all human recognize. We all intuit that "something's missing" that would make us complete, but the snake reverses figure and ground and suggests that the lacuna, so to speak, is the reality. It is somewhat analogous to the way our eyes work. In the field of vision of each eye, there is a "hole" where the optic nerve connects to the eye. The Evil One turns this upside down, and suggests that the inevitable hole in our vision -- the ignorance, so to speak -- is the reality, when it is simply a partial consequence of being embodied.

As Schuon writes, "the cosmogonic ray" -- the mystery of the “overflowing source of the cosmogonic trajectory" -- by "plunging into 'nothingness,'" ends by manifesting "the possibility of the impossible." In other words, "the 'absurd' cannot but be produced somewhere in the economy of the divine Possibility, otherwise the Infinite would not be the Infinite. But strictly speaking, evil or the devil cannot oppose the Divinity, who has no opposite; it opposes man who is the mirror of God and the movement towards the divine."

This is a nuanced view, so let's consider it a bit more carefully, for it explains how evil can exist in a universe created by the Sovereign Good. It is not so much that evil is determined, but it is more or less "inevitable" (or ineveateapple) due to the conditions of existence. It makes no sense to say that evil is “willed by God”; rather, it is more like willing weather, which will inevitably bring occasional hurricanes and tornadoes. Therefore, even if God "cannot eliminate evil as a possibility" on pain of no longer being the infinite God, God would also no longer be God if his divine nature were not opposed to it. And since we are "the mirror and image," we can see how we must be resigned to evil and error in the world, but never accept it. Rather, we must fight against it.

But the cosmogonic winds blow in all directions, up and down, forward and back, and some people obviously like to get their kicks on route 666 -- which is often paved with good intentions. In this regard, Schuon makes another subtle point, that evil, "by its very nature, tends to communicate itself... but it has this tendency precisely because it is opposed to the radiation of the good and thus cannot help imitating the latter in some fashion. For evil is by definition both opposition and imitation: within the framework of opposition it is ontologically forced to imitate; 'the more they curse God the more they praise Him,' said Meister Eckhart. Evil, insofar as it exists, participates in the good represented by existence." Evil "cannot be absolute," but "always depends upon some good which it misuses or perverts."

Therefore, we have faith that the Good must eventually triumph in the end. However, the Raccoon principle of "March Forth Madness" assures that there will be penalties for having picked and wagered on the wrong bracket in the course of one's life.

Thus, it seems to me that the most dangerous and deceptive form of evil is this grandiose and intoxicating imitation good, or ape of God. Can we just stipulate that this represents the ontological essence of "psycho-spiritual leftism" in all its diverse forms, or must I ssspell it out in another possst?

I dreamed that in myself the world I saw,
Wherein three Angels strove for mastery. Law
Was one, clear vision and denial cold,
Yet in her limits strong, presumptuous, bold;
The second with enthusiasm bright,
Flame in her heart but round her brows the night,
Faded as this advanced. She could not bear
That searching gaze, nor the strong chilling air
These thoughts created, nourishing our parts
Of mind, but petrifying human hearts.
Science was one, the other gave her name,
Religion. But a third behind them came,
Veiled, vague, remote, and had as yet no right
Upon the world, but lived in her own light....
--Sri Aurobindo, A Vision of Science

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sometimes a Snake is Just a Snake

Yesterday while out biking in the hills around the compound, I happened upon the biggest rattlesnake I'd ever seen. Not the longest, but definitely the most substantial -- probably about four feet long, but built like a boa constrictor. This bad boy was well nourished.

There are a lot of critters in our area, but there is just something otherworldly about encountering a snake in the wild. It's very difficult to describe the feeling, but it's so distinct that it may be one of those things that's hardwired into us. It's almost as if time stands still and you suddenly hear the theme from Jaws in your head.

I'm no Crocodile Hunter, but there is also something mesmerizing about a dangerous snake. I slammed on the brakes so I could get a better look at the old boy, but he hissed and slinked away into the brush. That's one thing about a snake. There's something about them that makes them appear permanently hissed off, almost bitter -- perhaps about having no legs and having to slither around on their belly. They could almost serve as the symbol of envy, because they seem so mean-spirited, almost as if they'd bite you just for the hell of it. And the way they eat -- like the envious person, it's not for pleasure, but just to greedily incorporate the object as quickly as possible. They don't chew, they just swallow and it's gone. Where's the pleasure in that, Rosie?

As I continued my ride, it made me think about Genesis, and why the writer was inspired to choose the symbol of a serpent, or snake, for the Tempter, the Father of Lies, and the author of man's fall. The serpent was said to be the most cunning of God's creatures. Other translations use the words crafty, clever, subtle, shrewd, sneaky, and "more able to fool others." Interestingly, one of the alternate translations for "snake" is "French diplomat."

Thus, although man is ultimately responsible for his own fall, nevertheless, it seems that there is something "impure," so to speak, that precedes the fall -- not just the clever and cunning snake, but more importantly, our attraction to him. For "cleverness," "craftiness," "shrewdness" -- these are all faux forms of intelligence, and substitutes for wisdom. When someone says that a Bill Clinton or Bill Maher are "intelligent," I scoff, for it is an abuse of the term. If intelligence does not lead to wisdom, truth, and prudence, then it does not deserve the name "intelligence."

If you want to see how intelligent Bill Maher actually is, you must ignore the clever jokes written by others and read what his mind is actually capable of producing on its own. In this regard, his blog entries at huffingtonpost are embarrassingly clumsy, trite and childlike. Likewise, in order to assess Bill Clinton, we must ignore his sliver-tongued charisma and read his actual thoughts. I think you will agree that they are technically unreadable as a result of their soporific blandness. In other words, they are so vacuous they put you to sleep. But most politicians fall into this category: clever and calculating as opposed to wise or deep. Hillary almost looks as if she is hypnotizing herself when she speaks. Her eyes are dead, almost like a reptile.

I cannot even imagine living that way, for it goes well beyond speaking untruth. Rather, the entire being is a lie -- a false self, or "as if" personality. The personality becomes an object from which one detaches and observes from the outside. Intuitive souls always gained this impression of President Clinton -- that whatever the situation, he was, like the rest of us, observing himself from the outside, playing a role -- now tough, now compassionate, now outraged, but always in a detached and calculating way. His presidency was a narcissistic performance in which one part observed and enjoyed the other part, in the same way the parent adoringly observes the child (for this is where the roots of this pathology lay).

Not to get all French linguist on you, but if we think of the snake as a signifier, what does it signify, and where is the signified today? Where is it hiding, slithering around in the psychic underbrush, below the reach of contemporary language? If we were to write the Bible today, what symbol might we use for the signified -- or in Bion's terms, what semantic "container" for the perennial content? For if we don't have a name or a symbol for it, it will be as if we are blind to things that are right in back of our eyes.

I think without question we would use the symbol "lawyer" or "professor." Obviously there are many good and decent lawyers -- including, of course, some who read this blog -- which should give them all the more concern that we can so easily replace "serpent" with "John Edwards" in Genesis 3 and not miss any of the meaning. When I was a kit, my image of a lawyer was Atticus Finch. How, in the course of one generation of vipers, do we go from Atticus Finch to such oily scoundrels as Johnny Cochran, John Edwards, and Bill Clinton?

First of all, Atticus Finch wasn't real, but a literary creation and a symbol. Nevertheless, what he symbolized was important, for ideals are always important, as they serve as guiding stars that draw us to our better selves. And less than fifty years ago, one could, without irony, employ a lawyer as a symbol of the anti-snake -- a finch, or creature of the air, the higher planes; which is to say, the opposite of the snake, who can never leave the earth plane.

According to Wikipedia, Atticus is the "embodiment of quiet, intelligent strength and conscience." One of his most memorable lines is, "If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." But you can only do that from the "air," not the ground. No one has less perspective than the snake, the horizontal personified.

Atticus is the diametrical opposite of the clever narcissist. The narcihisstic snake is the embodiment of the cold and ruthless absence of empathy. Not only do they not "climb inside your skin," but they shed their own, which has always been a demonic symbol of immortality. It is not the true immortality, but a faux form, in that it symbolically substitutes a sort of willed "self birth" as opposed to surrender and resurrection. If you don't believe me, just look at how many times Hillary Clinton has already sloughed off her skin in the past four years. For example, she was a much more passionate and articulate advocate than George Bush for going to war with Saddam. What happened to that Hillary? A LexisNexis search will reveal the trail of dead skin.

But I didn't intend this to be an exercise in lawyer bashing. Rather, I wanted it to be an exercise in leftist professor bashing. As a matter of fact, it was a good lawyer who sent me the following link to a fascinating article that does a good job of explaining -- for the 100th time -- why I think the left is so very dangerous -- why they are the embodiment of the cunning snake in the garden.

Pay particular attention to the axioms of the "suicide thinker" of the left, who complements the "suicide bomber" of Islam, for the latter could not flourish in the absence of the former:

--There is no truth, only competing agendas.

--All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.

--There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.

--The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.

--Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.

--The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)

--For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.

--When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.

Now folks, I went to college. I have seen the snake up close and personal. Just as on my bike ride yesterday, I was mesmerized by the snake. Believe it or not, there was a time that I believed each and every one of these items on the snake's agenda.

Wait a minute, I'm reading them again.

Yup. I believed every one of them, some more implicitly than explicitly, but nevertheless, I more or less believed these things to be true.

Now obviously, all of these ideas are warped, twisted, and unnatural. No innocent person could ever spontaneously come up with these perversions. No one can believe these things unless they are placed there by an outside influence, or leftist reptool. Nevertheless, as in Genesis, the snake can have no influence over us unless there is something in man that is drawn to the dark, lower world of the snake.

Now, I wonder. Is there something analogous in the soul to that eery and otherworldly feeling of happening upon a snake in the wild? In a way, it is a sort of "high," for it does take you out of the ordinary, into a sort of thrilling and dangerous existential space. It certainly isn't boring.

Could leftism represent the dizzying thrill of the fall? After all, falling is a thrill, at least until you hit bottom, just as -- no disrespect intended here -- being the Crocodile Hunter was a thrill until he hit a stingray, and being a Euro-socialist will be a thrill until their experiment against reality is conquered by Islam.

You don't learn anything useful in a liberal education at an elite university -- nothing that you won't have to later unlearn. But what a thrill to fall so far in just four years!

*****

A soulful lesson in snakes (apologies to George D).