Friday, March 14, 2008

E Pluribus Nusquam: Pomographic Liberalism and the Parsing of Nothing

Since leftism is the political expression of nihilism, it is appropriate that the vacuous campaign between Obama and Clinton involves ever finer degrees of nullity on the dark road from nowhere to nothing. From American Digest:

Obama: (Just throwing it out there): This should be the campaign.

Hillary: What?

Obama: This. Just arguing. Arguing about nothing.

Hillary (Dismissing): Yeah, right.

Obama: No I'm serious. That sounds like a good idea.

Hillary: Just arguing? What's the campaign about?

Obama: It's about nothing.

Hillary: No real policies?

Obama: No, forget the policies. --The Pitch.

What is the ultimate basis of the "culture war," and by extension, the conflict between conservative classical liberals and illiberal leftists? What is it's deep structure, the "either/or" at its foundation that is the cause of all the diametrically opposed attitudes on the surface?

The culture war is in fact a "war between the states," the existential states of nihilism vs. theism. For while the left would like you to believe that it is simply a battle between right-wing religious zealots and "free thinking" secular liberals, you can conceptualize it in more subtle ways -- for example, a belief in absolute Truth vs. mere opinion, moral absolutes vs. moral relativism, cultural progress vs. multiculturalism, a complex spiritual hierarchy vs. simplistic "flatland" materialism, meaningful existence vs. existential meaninglessness, teleonomic spiritual evolution vs. the mere random shuffling of Darwinian "evolution," etc. But what is so especially annoying about these hardcore nonbelievers is that they want to impose their new atheocractic testavus on the rest of us.

A while back I mentioned the book Shows About Nothing: Nihilism in Popular Culture from the Exorcist to Seinfeld, by Thomas Hibbs. He believes that in America, most of the purveyors of popular culture are in fact nihilists of one sort or another (in the sense alluded to above). You might say that nihilism is an unnaturally natural implication of certain strains of our liberal individualism.

That is to say, liberal individualism divorced form any deeper spiritual impulse does indeed tend to degenerate into a debased, antisocial shadow of itself. You might call it pomographic (as in postmodern) vs. classical liberalism, the latter of which has always recognized the need to cultivate a virtuous population, with the understanding that the whole system breaks down if responsibilities aren't at least equally emphasized along with rights. But why are there no "civic responsibilities activists," and why do we call the champions of irresponsibility, impulsivity, narcissism and sloth "civil rights activists"?

Pomographic liberalism is obsessed only with rights, entitlements, and the unearned specialness of the oppressed victocrat. As Hibbs writes, nihilism does not simply usher in an era of chaos and disorder -- rather, it "involves a simplification of human nature, a reduction of its complexity and range, and an abridgment of its aspirations." In short, it reduces hierarchy to a crude spiritual leveling, and replaces the telos of spiritual aspiration with the mundane enforcement of material equality. The nihilistic left is comprised of Nietzsche's pathetic Last Men, who "have a calm indifference to all elevated aspirations." In their puffed up vanity and pseudosophistication, they have lost even the capacity to despise themselves, so they certainly have no reason to aspire spiritually and surpass themselves.

In a piece entitled Literary Hoaxes and the Proletarianization of Culture, Roger Kimball notes that "where Americans once looked up the social scale for their ideals, many now look to the gutter. He quotes Charles Murray, who observed that “one of the consistent symptoms of disintegration is that the elites... begin to imitate those at the bottom of society”:

“The collapse of old codes leaves a vacuum that must be filled. Within the elites, the replacement has been tenets, broadly accepted by people across the political spectrum, that tell us to treat people equally regardless of gender, race, or sexual preference, to be against poverty and war, and to be for fairness and diversity. These are not bad things to be against and for, respectively, but the new code, which I will call ecumenical niceness, has a crucial flaw. The code of the elites is supposed to set the standard for the society, but ecumenical niceness has a hold only on those people whom the elites are willing to judge -- namely, one another. One of the chief tenets of ecumenical niceness is not to be judgmental about the underclass.

"Within the underclass, the vacuum has been filled by a distinctive, separate code. Call it thug code: Take what you want, respond violently to anyone who antagonizes you, gloat when you win, despise courtesy as weakness, treat women as receptacles, take pride in cheating, deceiving, or exploiting successfully. The world of hip-hop is where the code is openly embraced. But hip-hop is only an expression of the code, not its source. It amounts to the hitherto inarticulate values of underclass males from time immemorial, now made articulate with the collaboration of some of America’s best creative and merchandising talent."

Hibbs notes that the Last Men in our midst are not the courageous rebels of their narcissistic imaginations, but "timid, enervated, self-enclosed, and self-satisfied," conforming with "the dictates of common opinion.'' Fourteen billion years of cosmic evolution, and what has it wrought: spiritually withered New York Times Man, so insular and hermetically creedbound in his views, and yet, like a pinched little sulzberger, so confident of his childish superiority!

These Last Men hate to be reminded that there is something higher or deeper, something transcending their own rootless and self-generated meaninglessness. They are all sheep and no shepherd. And they don't believe in wolves at all. Brawndead leftists with no mametary glands hate the notion that the work -- the manly work, not just the endless party on mom's government teat -- of history is incomplete, that there are real enemies and real heroes -- superior men like General Petraeus who will name and kill the enemy so that the Last Men may sleep soundly in their beds. They believe that there is nothing to be afraid of but the hero!

In a way they are right, for the hero is a painful reminder of their own existential shrinkage. The society of the Last Man "is adept at satisfying nearly all desires for pleasure, but it cannot satiate, indeed it positively frustrates, the will to excel, to prove oneself superior to others" (Hibbs). They are afflicted with spiritual envy, the Satanic Eucharist of secular fundamentalism. Kill the hero is their motto. The victim is the new God, Master of our domain is their creed.

61 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

worth reading:

Strategic Intention and Mass Man
by J. R. Nyquist


“I looked into Putin’s eyes, and I saw three things, a ‘K’ a ‘G’ and a ‘B,’” – John McCain

There recently appeared an essay by Anthony Daniels, published in The New Criterion, in which he summarized Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset’s notion of “mass man” as the man “who goes from distraction to distraction, who is prey to absurd fashions, who never thinks deeply….” In the first decade of the twenty-first century this is all too familiar. In 2008 we live in a society dominated by “mass men,” overtaken by mass psychology, mass media, mass schooling and the mass ignorance presently crowding in around us.

Today’s mass audience cannot distinguish the important from the trivial. What needs to be acknowledged, and one day will be acknowledged, is the very real distinction between “low-minded” and “high-minded,” between moral courage and venial conformism, between thinkers and fakers. This is what it comes down to. The masses have grown weak and lazy. They don’t want to admit reality because there might be a responsibility clause. This being the main consideration, the denial of key events is best accomplished through a flood tide of triviality – the small man’s escape pod. Once you are lost upon the Great Ocean of Intellectual Junk, any ratty half-truth will serve.

If we were trained to think in hierarchical instead of egalitarian terms, if we understood the basis of our own existence, our critical attention would be instinctively drawn to certain issues touching on our political and economic future. We would know that certain lifestyle choices are destructive to society as a whole, that fiat currencies cannot last, that sparing the rod spoils the child, that if you want peace you’d better prepare for war. It is more and more obvious, however, that today’s mass man has lost his instincts, lost sight of what is important, and judges everything from the false assumptions of a false standpoint.

Once upon a time we had a civilization. We had standards. We had notions of objectivity. We had a culture that wasn’t low-minded. We looked back to great men as we looked forward to our posterity. Art was beautiful and meaningful. Politics was evolving away from tyranny. Economics was about liberty and responsibility. What do we have today? We have Britney Spears and Jerry Springer. Our standards are seriously eroded. Subjectivity has cynically declared that objectivity is impossible. Everything high-minded has fallen to neglect.

But more important, and even more disastrous, the emergence of “mass man” has something to do with the emergence of totalitarianism (which claimed roughly 100 million lives in the last century). And it is safe to say that totalitarianism is going to claim even more lives in the future. But people don’t want to wake up. They don’t want to acknowledge that totalitarianism is something real and ongoing. It grows in the soil of mass culture. It leads to destruction and mass murder because every totalitarian construct is based on lies, sustained by crime and driven by the politicization of personal disappointment and envy. It is normal history when one country invades another, when a cavalry commander or Indian chief commits an atrocity. Men have done terrible things to one another throughout history. But to make terror and murder into a system signifies a new type of regime.

The mass man fails to see the evils of totalitarianism; he fails to see the tendency of Mr. Hitler; he fails to see the letters “K-G-B” behind Putin; he denies the Holocaust; he doesn’t care if Iran deploys nuclear missiles; he doesn’t think Russia or China will ever start a global war. The philistinism of the mass man is found in his readiness to believe totalitarian propaganda. Such is a propaganda that blames the intended victim.

Totalitarianism arises because mass man is susceptible. He is fundamentally ignorant, though remarkably “well informed.” Mass man’s inertia accepts the dictates of bureaucracy. He has no “great idea” or “faith” to guard him against expedient compromise, or participation in genocide. The mass man’s unquestioning opportunism allows him to exemplify that selfsame “banality of evil” referred to by Hannah Arendt in her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem. After all, the mass man under Hitler, under Stalin, would argue that he is doing his job. He is merely following orders.

Is mass man innocuous or sinister? Does he do it on purpose, or does he require an evil mastermind like Hitler? What would it mean to say that the mass extermination of the Jews under Hitler was a sociological phenomenon having nothing to do with intentionality? That is to say, what does it mean to say that the Holocaust was something other than a conspiracy against specific victims? What does it mean to say that the systematic vilification of a people was due to “a historical process”?

I don’t think the result, on one end, is possible without the intention at the other. There is nothing diabolical lest it be intentional. And everything intended is individual. Hitler was an individual. His henchmen were individuals. Each was responsible for his actions. It is no excuse to plead oneself down to a cog. Each derived some private satisfaction in the persecution, looting and killing of Jews. To imagine such people cannot exist, because one’s imagination is too limited, is to forget what history has already proved.

If another genocidal war breaks out, which nations will be the victimized? Which nations are currently vilified and blamed for the world’s problems? Two nations, specifically: (1) The Jews and (2) the Americans. The failure to understand the significance of this vilification, and the failure to recognize its origins, is a sad failure indeed.

As Bernard Chazelle recently pointed out in an essay titled Anti-Americanism: a Clinical Study, there is no such thing as anti-Frenchism, anti-Polishism or anti-Spanishism. Why not? Because “anti-Americanism stands alone: a living testament….” Well, not quite alone. One needs to recall anti-Semitism, and one needs to couple that with the Holocaust. The vilification of an entire people is something akin to tenderizing a steak. The task of vilification makes ready for the oven.

It was Paul Johnson, the British historian, who wrote: “Anti-Americanism is the prevailing disease of intellectuals today.” What he should have said, but failed to clarify, was that today’s “intellectuals” are frauds; they are mass men, exactly like those referred to by Jose Ortega y Gasset in his book, Revolt of the Masses. The pretense of learning, the pretense of thinking, merely covers the underlying meanness of someone who, in Anthony Daniel’s words, “will not recognize his betters.”

The mass man picks up ideas the way a rat picks up plague-infested fleas. He does not think about them. He is infected by them. And it is entirely possible that someone intentionally spread the infection. Consider the following subtlety: When an American strategist thinks about nuclear missiles he is thinking about deterrence. When a Russian strategist thinks of nuclear missiles he is thinking about the annihilation of enemies. American nuclear strategists from Herman Kahn to Peter Vincent Pry were chiefly concerned with deterrence. Russian nuclear strategists from Sokolovskiy to Sidorenko were chiefly concerned with annihilating the enemy. The difference between the two is important – though easily missed.

Hate is the key ingredient, and getting Americans to hate themselves has been a special trick. Perhaps the mass man, hating what is great, inclines to hate his own country if its greatness is sufficient. In that case, a cunning enemy needn’t lift a finger – though the Soviet Union lifted heaven and earth to spread anti-American hate from 1950 to 1991. One of the most effective propaganda techniques involved planting false stories in Western newspapers. Such were Moscow’s “active measures.” With regard to this tactic, the recent SVR/KGB defector Sergei Tretyakov told author Pete Earley: “We said [after the collapse of the Soviet Union], ‘Okay, now we’re friends. We’ll stop doing this’ and the SVR [KGB] shut down Directorate A [Active Measures]. But Directorate A simply underwent a name change. That’s all. It became Department MS [measures of support] and the very same people who had run it under the KGB were still doing it for the SVR.”

The mass man is an easily manipulated creature. He is preyed upon by advertisers, snake oil salesmen and quacks of every description. Please allow, dear masses, that you have been the special target of a higher sort of advertisement. You have been targeted. You have been duped. The ovens are being warmed even now.

Can you feel the heat?

3/14/2008 09:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Episteme said...

Such egotism. Its ironic that you accuse the left of arrogance when you display it with such vigor yourself. This isn't to say that the Left doesn't display it too, but its a case of pot and kettle.

Don't you see that putting everything in terms of Left vs Right, Theism vs Nihilism, Absolute vs Relative, that you miss Reality and Truth, which are in the middle way between these extremes. As much as you loathe Nihilists and Leftists, as you call them, you are simply the other end of the same pendulum. Your work, if one deigns to call it that, feeds the cycle of Polarization and Otherness and creates those you oppose, whose existence and behavior then causes you, or others like you, to exist. As much as you dislike your Others, you need them and they need you.

When you all, on both sides, are ready to stop your childish game, the wise will be here, as always, walking the middle way and waiting for you to join us.

3/14/2008 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

He quotes Charles Murray, who observed that “one of the consistent symptoms of disintegration is that the elites... begin to imitate those at the bottom of society”:

I made my usual stop at the local Starbucks yesterday. It has become a curious sort of meeting ground. There is a clique of people my age (mid 50's), and a group of folks in their early twenties. The two groups intermingle freely.
A young woman, 20 years old, joined us as we sat. She is, -well- plain, as we used to say, and rather heavy set. She was wearing some shapeless bag of a dress that barely covered her butt, and revealed the tattoos on her right leg. The pictures went from knee to ankle. On one side, a badly done pinup in heels and stockings looking vaguely S&Mish, on the other side a bearded viking face with horned hemet. This was the kind of "artwork" best realized in ballpoint pen on 8 1/2 X 11" looseleaf paper, and done to alleviate boredom in history class. She also sported one of those horseshoe things in her upper lip. These decorations had the net effect of turning a plain girl into an ugly one. To add to the irony, the pinup on the girl's leg was sexier than the girl whose leg it was on. I wondered, but didn't say, "In what universe does someone find this attractive?"
You see this kind of thing a lot. Tattoing, piecing, scarrification, have become the rage. It is, all of it, revoltingly ugly.
This is the kind of 'body decoration' practised by tribal peoples who live in neolithic squalor in the jungles of the Amazon, New Guinea, or Africa. It is the kind of thing that was proscribed in the book of Leviticus more than six thousand years ago. It is worship of the Primitive at its worst. And unlike the fashion fads of former decades, this stuff is permanent. These kids will carry that stuff with them to their graves.
Signs of the impending apocalypse? I can't escape the suspicion.

JWM

3/14/2008 10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

epi:
Don't you have a house to haunt somewhere? Or a rope to go piss up?

JWM

3/14/2008 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

"When you all, on both sides, are ready to stop your childish game, the wise will be here, as always, walking the middle way and waiting for you to join us."

Yes, for the psychospiritual left, Truth is the wise middle way between Reality and what we wish it to be.

3/14/2008 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Rabid said...

Fuck off epist! Stop polluting the message board!; And I reject you completely! I can't stand you stupid immature new age Buddhist punks. If I had to spend more than just a passing acquaintance with a person like you, there would be violence.

Damn I can't wait until you fall into bardo, you demon! How's that for compassion.

3/14/2008 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>> . . walking the middle way<<

(from the clunky chronicles of epi)

Yeah, the middle way between pernicious evil and those who call attention to it in order that we may triumph over it is . . . . neither fish nor fowl fence straddling . . .

epi's soul is as bland as his prose.

3/14/2008 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You were on a roll this week but your posts are the weakest when you rail against straw men. Of course nobody can be on all the time :P

3/14/2008 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Zophiel said...

I just finished One Cosmos (the book) the other day, and am still digesting it, as I suspect I will be for some time now. Like with the book, these posts are so very good, my mind so blown that that I am left in a sort of Ralph-Wiggums-state, wherein the only thing I can articulate is something along the lines of "I like cookies." True enough, but not exceedingly relevant.

Having now finally been exposed to the context of the blog I have been enjoying for these many months, I find these posts even richer with meaning and delight.

As for epi, this person reminds me of those irritating people whose statements regarding what Jesus would or wouldn't do betray their lack of exposure to Scripture. Or those students who came to Lit. Class opining about Desdemona or Iago without having actually read any Shakespeare. Epi is making many assumptions about Bob and this community that he really has no basis for, thereby making an a$$ out of himself.

Keep talking epi, all you do is prove your opponent's arguments.

Anyway, Bob, 'nother good post. Good book, too. When I have money again, I'm gonna get copies for my friends. ^_^

3/14/2008 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Anonymous:

Speaking of straw men, stay away from Epi or I'll stuff a mattress with you!

3/14/2008 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

what epi and his ilk do not realize is that most of us have long since graduated from our initial thin gruel, Eastern-like universalism.

like the rank beginners they are, they're puffed up with spiritual pride and they ride the soapbox for all its worth.

3/14/2008 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Incarcerate
a temporary
shelter for mind parasites
recidivism

3/14/2008 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And that strategic intention/mass man article is even worse. Blech. Chicken little conservatives are just as bad as chicken little leftists. There is a logical kink insisting on the importance of individualism and liberty as the basis of society and deriding how blah blah conformist everyone is. ("Ahh! They're conformists! They're all speaking English! They're all wearing pants! They're all walking upright!") That's right, if you are taking both of these positions, you have some sort of fetish in the space between the individual and the collective, as weird as anything else you see at the Folsom Street parade.


In conclusion, do more of what you are doing here, and way less of what Nyquist is doing over there.

3/14/2008 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous broken record said...

Such egotism. Its ironic that you accuse the left of arrogance when you display it with such vigor yourself. This isn't to say that the Left doesn't display it too, but its a case of pot and kettle.

Don't you see that putting everything in terms of Left vs Right, Theism vs Nihilism, Absolute vs Relative, that you miss Reality and Truth, which are in the middle way between these extremes. As much as you loathe Nihilists and Leftists, as you call them, you are simply the other end of the same pendulum. Your work, if one deigns to call it that, feeds the cycle of Polarization and Otherness and creates those you oppose, whose existence and behavior then causes you, or others like you, to exist. As much as you dislike your Others, you need them and they need you.

When you all, on both sides, are ready to stop your childish game, the wise will be here, as always, walking the middle way and waiting for you to join us.

3/14/2008 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous one track mind said...

Such egotism. Its ironic that you accuse the left of arrogance when you display it with such vigor yourself. This isn't to say that the Left doesn't display it too, but its a case of pot and kettle.

Don't you see that putting everything in terms of Left vs Right, Theism vs Nihilism, Absolute vs Relative, that you miss Reality and Truth, which are in the middle way between these extremes. As much as you loathe Nihilists and Leftists, as you call them, you are simply the other end of the same pendulum. Your work, if one deigns to call it that, feeds the cycle of Polarization and Otherness and creates those you oppose, whose existence and behavior then causes you, or others like you, to exist. As much as you dislike your Others, you need them and they need you.

When you all, on both sides, are ready to stop your childish game, the wise will be here, as always, walking the middle way and waiting for you to join us.

3/14/2008 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous at one with god said...

Such egotism. Its ironic that you accuse the left of arrogance when you display it with such vigor yourself. This isn't to say that the Left doesn't display it too, but its a case of pot and kettle.

Don't you see that putting everything in terms of Left vs Right, Theism vs Nihilism, Absolute vs Relative, that you miss Reality and Truth, which are in the middle way between these extremes. As much as you loathe Nihilists and Leftists, as you call them, you are simply the other end of the same pendulum. Your work, if one deigns to call it that, feeds the cycle of Polarization and Otherness and creates those you oppose, whose existence and behavior then causes you, or others like you, to exist. As much as you dislike your Others, you need them and they need you.

When you all, on both sides, are ready to stop your childish game, the wise will be here, as always, walking the middle way and waiting for you to join us.

3/14/2008 11:02:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Once again, Bob:
Can't you ban this clown by isp address?

JWM

3/14/2008 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous cosanostradamus said...

and waiting for you to join us...and the world will be as one.

Imagine. Such wisdom.

3/14/2008 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

epi, as they say in Texas, the only thing in the middle of the road is a yellow strip and dead armadillos.

3/14/2008 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

No need to object to a troll who unwittingly exemplifies Bob's points so illoquently. Unintentional self-parody is the only art left to the left.

3/14/2008 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

I am happy that Epi is not my doctor.

Epi: Walt, let me tell you, you are very sick. You have Godwin's Disease, and the nausea you feel comes from cyclical polarization...

Walt: Geez, I thought that nihilism was causing it! Can it be cured, Doc?

Epi: Well, nihilism is only half the story. It's fatal, true ... but to actually cure it would be, er, harsh! Best to take the Middle Path and just live with it. Besides, Godwin's Disease just makes it worse, by generating the dualistic....

Walt: I think I'll get a second opinion.

Epi: Do NOT listen to that arrogant quack Dr. Bob! Believe me, I can see right through him! No, no, dear boy, surely it's obvious: the wise will be here, as always, walking the middle way and waiting for you to join us.

Walt: (Paraphrasing Samantha Powers) Yerrgh-h!

3/14/2008 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Bob, in all seriousness, if you do assemble a new book at some point, today's post would make a great "theme" for a section or chapter.

The opening part: "What is the ultimate basis ... it's deep structure, the "either/or" at its foundation that is the cause of all the diametrically opposed attitudes on the surface?"

Yeasty!

3/14/2008 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Epi begins today's rant, "Such egotism...blah blah blah".

Epi ends today's rant, "When you all, on both sides, are ready to stop your childish game, the wise will be here, as always, walking the middle way and waiting for you to join us."

Hmmm, I hate to point out the obvious, but...enough said.

3/14/2008 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous episteme said...

Such egotism. Its ironic that you people accuse the left of arrogance when you display discernment with such vigor yourself. This isn't to say that the Left displays it too, but its a case of pot vs hash.

Don't you see that putting everything in terms of me vs you, Left vs Right, Theism vs Nihilism, Absolute vs Relative, that you people miss Reality and Truth, which are the Third Way between these extremes. As much as you people loathe Nihilists and Leftists, as you people call them, you people are simply the other end of the same pendulum. Your work, if one such as myself deigns to call it that, feeds the cycle of Polarization and Otherness which I myself deny any activity in and creates those you oppose, whose existence and behavior then causes you, or others like you, to exist. Thus the reason I'm here attacking you daily. As much as I dislike my Others, I need them.

When you people, on both sides (but really only one side), are ready to stop your childish game, the wise will be here, as I am now here for you, walking the Third Way and waiting for you to join us.
Come Comrades, let us finally realize the bounty which Hope and Change have promised.

3/14/2008 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

"Pomographic"? Hmmm, I think I prefer nomographic, as in

no mo death
no mo sorrow
no mo crying
no mo pain
.

That'll be the day!

3/14/2008 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Nomo,

Sounds like a speech Clinton gave in which he denounced the "politics of personal destruction" and then in the very next sentence, proceeded to personally destroy his opponents.
Ignorance and/or denial of one's own intent is a sad thing.

3/14/2008 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

As to 'what Jesus would or wouldn't do': we ain't Jesus. It's what He would have US do.

Sometimes the question is more WWJBD: What Would Jack Bauer Do?

3/14/2008 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Ximeze - And do we really believe JB does it in 24 literal hours?

3/14/2008 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Nomo:
Somewhere in the timelessness?

3/14/2008 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Anonymous... nice article, but... how about just a link next time?

3/14/2008 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

epissedmeoff said "...you miss Reality and Truth, which are in the middle way ..."

One wonders what value is to be had from an epistemologist who seeks to avoid identification? Not to mention its ethical corollary, Judgment.

Perhaps such a one wouldn't deign to inquire... that might explain the epissedallovergist.

3/14/2008 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "You were on a roll this week but your posts are the weakest when you rail against straw men"

Translation: Ouch!

3/14/2008 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

In addition to What Walt Said, I'd ask what wisdom could be thought wise that neither judged nor identified?

I suppose you're most likely to get the answer to that by asking a dead armadillo. Or epi. Or a newyorktimesmen. Much the same.

Round here, we pretty much call that stupid. And roadkill. Much the same.

3/14/2008 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

I, for one, am a bit disillusioned to find out that Epi is not just a brain in a jar but a dead liberal brain in a jar that projects its rage onto whomever gets in the way of its beautiful ideas.

3/14/2008 04:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

van

will do the link approach next time


pca

3/14/2008 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Maineman said "... dead liberal brain in a jar that projects its rage onto whomever gets in the way of its beautiful ideas."

Pretty much the MO since Rousseau's little 'r' reason taught the French how to cut off the heads of those they couldn't force to be free.

3/14/2008 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"But what is so especially annoying about these hardcore nonbelievers is that they want to impose their new atheocractic testavus on the rest of us."

And therein lies the rub.
I would be perfectly happy if the Left merely played in the middle of the road and didn't try to force us to play there with them.

I mean, if they, the Left, wanna feed the buzzards and hyenas who lead them, good luck with that.

I'll just stay here on the mountain trail of Mount One Cosmos and eat my own lunch, thank you very much.
And drink Grog with my fellow Raccoons as the Lefties try to avoid the Semi's of reality.

3/15/2008 08:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Kenosis said...

Empty yourself and be a vessel of the Holy Ghost.

What else is necessary?

Why then all these vain scribblings and struggles?

Alas, sir, you have placed obstacles in the way of true faith.

3/16/2008 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Alas, not even the apostles could just walk up to people and convey the Holy Ghost. They had to first preach the gospel, and then those who came to the faith could receive the Holy Ghost.

Would that it was obvious to all which Ghost was the Holy one and which ghosts are just dead. But even today, faith comes from hearing.

3/16/2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"Why then all these vain scribblings and struggles?"

Golly, Ken, you're right! Why, if only the writers of the Bible had known that all they had to write was "Empty yourself and be a vessel of the Holy Ghost," they could have saved literally tons of paper and ink (although the printing press may never have been invented, but who would have needed it, since all the scribblings back in the day were in vain anyway, being often about matters of faith)? It's so simple! Jesus should have just said that over and over, instead of wasting time with parables and actually carrying on conversations with His disciples. Then the world would be perfect, with everyone going to church just to focus on emptying themselves and becoming vessels of the Holy Ghost. Never mind that it's much easier said than done, and that life often gets in the way, and that it's not always clear when you've managed to become such a vessel. No need for discussion, thought, creativity or methodology, just Empty Yourself! Right Now! Become a vessel!

*Forehead slap* now why didn't I think of that? Truly, Ken, your genius is something to beholed.

3/16/2008 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous rabid said...

Kenosis:

When exploring kenotic pneumatology, one must not make the mistake of subtly converting the undivine ‘contained’ into utter bullshit, and then exalting it as some sort of superior quality of receptiveness; and you sir, are spurting bullshit.

Kenosis does not entail the disregard for the intellect, reasonable or Divine, or of any God given instrument in possession by the human, in principle. To say that intellectual inquiry and the discipline of writing are vain task in and of themselves makes no sense whatsoever. And to define self-emptying, kenosis, as an injunction to an idle state mind, and in culmination as a bland and lackluster state of non-doing is to pervert and dwindle the very possibility of the indwelling God to descend into the mind/body of the aspiring creature. For as they say, “an idle mind is the devils workshop,” and so, the actual culmination of this sort of non-discipline anti-exercise notion is the forging of an idol—a false formation within the realm of the contained, and by contained I mean the content and condition of the creature at present—which are in principle weak and needy and life denying, and the reining preoccupation of the person, who is now a slave, to a life of servitude and waste; and since the internal idol is weak and needy and life denying, there must be the contrary movement of extending oneself into the environment on mission to criticize, command, and point out errors where there are none so as to satisfy the lack and absence of the indwelling spirit—all this being the result of a mistaken notion of kenosis.

But, it’s not really about kenosis at all, because in the place where the “kenos” should be there is this thing, maybe as an image that looks like one of those hoodoo shrunken heads, or a primitive tribal mask with a hideous face, or perhaps a Christian demon whispering in the ear of the unaware. Regardless, there is a mask preoccupied with the unnecessary, and which ask “what is necessary?” Alas, there can be no faith here.

3/16/2008 01:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Kenosis said...

All your talk and theory is merely a distraction and an excuse to avoid getting down to the task at hand.

The aspects of your mind which resist and which insist on their own importance are the very aspects that will become irrelevant and disappear if and when you empty yourself and allow yourself to be lived by the Holy Ghost.

There was no mention of a bland state of non-doing or any of the other straw-men you drew from what was said.

The writers of the gospels, the good news, wrote what they did and brought that news to the world. There is no need for further expansion of it nor elaborate exegesis.

The Good News is simple and open to all. Simple doesn't entail easy. The fact that its not necessarily easy is all the more reason to get down to it.

3/16/2008 02:52:00 PM  
Anonymous terrence said...

Kenosis, Kenosis, Kenosis. Do you bother reading what you write before you dump it here? You really should do that. Had you read what you dumped here, you just MAY be able to see how internally contradictory it is.

As you say, ‘All your talk and theory is merely a distraction and an excuse to avoid getting down to the task at hand.’ This is most certainly true of what you have dumped here.

As julie so clearly pointed out, Jesus was wasting a lot of time when he preached and did all those miracles. Why, if He was ONLY as smart and as spiritually advanced as you are, HE would have ONLY said "Empty yourself and be a vessel of the Holy Ghost". After all, Kenosis, said so! You must be so much more advanced then Jesus was; all his talk and empty miracles; too bad you were not there to enlighten Him, you could have done so much for Jesus, you pompous, self-righteous twit.

Stop digging the hole you are in, Kenosis, you make only yourself look worse as you go deeper.

3/16/2008 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Kenosis said...

Jesus is the paradigmatic example of emptying one's self and embodying the Holy Ghost.

Everything he did was an embodiment of this. He taught by example. He didn't theorize, he told stories. This is a very natural thing for people to do and a much better, simpler way to teach. He taught, as the Tao Te Ching recommends, without Teaching.

3/16/2008 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Is this yet another joke? I know people who think like that, and they wouldn't recognize the word "kenosis" if their life depended on it, much less some East Asian philosophy.

3/16/2008 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Perhaps Ketosis is a better handle.

"Most medical resources regard ketosis as a physiological state associated with chronic starvation"
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

3/16/2008 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Hey Kenny:

You're story is only part of the whole.... and can therefore mislead.

One following the path needs to test their experiences against reason and the authoritative experiences of genuine saints.

In my experience, Bob's writings help us to clothe our faintest intuitions so we can recognize, articulate and test them against the great spiritual teachings of the Church universal.

Me, I'm empyting myself in anticipation of reading Bob's musings on the Obamanations of Reverend Wright.

3/16/2008 04:45:00 PM  
Anonymous terrence said...

And Kenosis digs himself/herself/itself deeper and deeper. You really should read what you dump BEFORE you dump it, Kenosis. And try reading all your dumps - the endless contradictions are a hoot.

Lisa is right.

‘Ketosis is a better handle.’

"Most medical resources regard ketosis as a physiological state associated with chronic starvation"

3/16/2008 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

It is very easy to be glib in matters of the spirit. Episteme can waltz in with his platitudes about compassion, and now kenosis can toss off his 'anyone can do it' advice about emptying one's self so the Holy Spirit can come in and make it all feel better. (sockpuppets, anyone?) Meanwhile, those in the real world do real battle against real demons (mind parasites). Sometimes you get your ass kicked; sometimes there are victories. Christ spoke of a "comforter", not a fixer.

JWM

3/16/2008 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/16/2008 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Alan said "Me, I'm empyting myself in anticipation of reading Bob's musings on the Obamanations of Reverend Wright."

(Take Two)

Getting a jump on Gagdad's post, I put a short one out on the shocking subject of the good rev's statements.

3/16/2008 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Voltron said...

Bravo! Spot on I'd say.

"For while the left would like you to believe that it is simply a battle between right-wing religious zealots and "free thinking" secular liberals..."

But don't forget what I like to call the "Hare Christians", I'm sure you've run into the type. They seem to believe that god is simply love and tolerance, and there is no evil except that which we create in our own minds. If we'd just openly embrace our enemies we'd find out their not enemies at all...

"They are all sheep and no shepherd. And they don't believe in wolves at all..."

(actually I find the "Hare Christians" far more tedious than the secularists - but maybe that's just me)
LOL

3/16/2008 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Voltron said...

Oh, and The "middle way" is where those WITHOUT convictions stand.

And Epi, while you stand there with your finger in the air I have a suggestion of what you could do with it.

3/16/2008 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Wow! Just wow! This post spoke to me as none before. Thank you, Dr. Bob, thank you.

3/16/2008 07:46:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

I'm thinking Ketosis is really Obamasupporter having returned to the Ashram after a rough weekend news cycle. ;^)

3/16/2008 07:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Kenosis said...

It seems that you would side with Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor. You appoint yourself guardians of the secret and condemn the living God to exile.

3/16/2008 08:50:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Omigod, you culled Kenosis!
You bastards!

JWM

3/16/2008 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

No one here is guarding 'The Secret', just go to your local bookstore and pick up a copy.

3/16/2008 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Emptying yourself to give room for the Divine Spirit is not a on-off switch. Or more exactly, throwing the switch is only the beginning. You give up everything, you give yourself as a living sacrifice... and then you keep at it for a lifetime.

Perhaps it is a bit like the difference between a wedding and a marriage. Without the wedding, no marriage, but the wedding is only the beginning.

Those who think that going through the strait gate is all, should just get on with doing it in their own life. Then they will find the narrow road beginning on the other side, stretching toward infinity. And likely they will find that they need whatever little help they can get.

The first time I spoke in the small group of mystics that taught me, I spoke up to correct another beginner on some matter of doctrine (though I tried to do so subtly and without criticism). At the time, I lived in a childlike bliss of ignorance. I may have expected God's Spirit to reveal to me the beasts of Daniel and the Apocalypse; but the Spirit revealed the beast in me, and has continued this work for decades now.

Like a loving parent, the Heavenly Father slowly lets us meet reality, a little bit at a time, shielding us gradually less from reality.

3/17/2008 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Magnus Itland said: "...but the Spirit revealed the beast in me, and has continued this work for decades now."

Your whole comment is beautifully put, Magnus. How many times have I thought, "I have arrived!", only to find that I've only reached another signpost, or -- worse -- been walking in circles around the same stupid mountain.

Sometimes the most progress is made in those awful moments of clarity about what still lurks beneath.

3/17/2008 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Colonel Robert Neville said...

Dear Bob:

Another fantastic post by you, with some great comments, especially the first one by 'Anonymous'.

I loved your 'Asymetrical Logic of the Left and Islamist etc'.

Just marvellous, Bob.

Colonel Neville.

3/17/2008 06:59:00 PM  

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