Tuesday, April 15, 2008

If Wishes Were Horse's Asses, Liberals Would Elect Them

All I want is a good time. The rest is propaganda. --Arthur, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Our soul may never have rest in things that are beneath itself. --Julian of Norwich. So there.

The psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott once wrote an article on the psychodynamics of shoplifting, expressing the idea that it wasn't so much motivated by want or greed, but by hope. That is, in the instant the shoplifter is engaged in his theft, he is temporarily buoyed by the hope that the painful emptiness at the core of his being will be filled. But it never is, so he must repeat the process in a compulsive manner.

More generally, as Boethius wrote, if the mere satisfaction of desire were the cause of happiness, "there is no reason why beasts should not be thought blessed, whose whole intention is bent to supply their corporal wants." By extrapolation, a life of pursuing false hope converts man to an animal.

In any compulsion, there is an existential component of hope; but this is not real hope. Rather, it is merely a defense against hopelessness. Nothing is more deflating than an illusory desire satisfied, because its satisfaction co-arises with hopelessness. In fact, we could say that any compulsion -- and few people are completely free of them -- is simply hopelessness deferred.

Most senior Raccoons will be aware of this dynamic in their own lives, as gaining insight into its absurcularity is one of the keys that frees us from "the world" (the abstract world, not the Real world). As Schuon wrote, "To be 'horizontal' is to love only terrestrial life, to the detriment of the ascending and celestial path; to be 'exteriorized,' is to love only outer things, to the detriment of moral and spiritual values."

So the whole bloody point of Raccoon life is to realize the transcendent in the immanent and the immanent in the transcendent. This hardly excludes desire, but elevates and sanctifies it. Raccoons are bon vivants, bearing in mind the true nature of le bon.

Hey, we know that we live in exile in this vale of shadows and tears, and that to try to pretend otherwise is the most fundamental form of illusion. But the spiritually centered Raccoon is able to hold to a steady course and maintain himself "at the center; he never loses sight of the symbol, the spiritual gift of things, the sign of God, a gratitude that is both ascending and radiating." This he accomplishes "in the midst of inevitable distractions and complex occupations" (Schuon).

We are not embittered but grateful, for gratitude is the best revenge -- in fact, it is a preemptive strike -- against the wily one: "Gratitude is a virtue that allows us, not only to be content with little things -- this is holy childhood -- but also to appreciate or respect little things or big things because they come from God, beginning with the beauty and the gifts of nature; one must be sensitive to the innocence and mystery of the divine works" (Schuon).

As we have discussed on many occasion, the philosophy of leftism rests upon an ontology which inverts the order of the cosmos, elevating existence over and above essence. In so doing, it essentially sanctifies the perversion of man as such, as it instantiates at its very foundation false hope. That is, we all know ahead of time that the fanciful schemes and discredited economic ideas of the left can never "deliver the goods" -- neither the material nor certainly spiritual goods.

Obama tells us that the people are bitter. Of course, when he says this, he is projecting his own existential bitterness and resentment -- and the bitterness and resentment at the heart of every leftist -- into the rest of us. And why are they bitter? Because the government is not paying attention to them.

Oh, if only! As Christopher Chantrill writes today at American Thinker, "When liberals are ready to abolish the income tax then we will know that they are getting serious about privacy." After all, 99% of our real, lived freedom is economic freedom, the multitude of little day-to-day decisions we make about our lives. Being that the federal government demands that we tell them everything about our economic activity, this verges on the totalitarian. Why aren't more people alarmed by this? I suppose they are, but like me, they're just resigned to it. You know, properly hopeless.

In distinguishing between "hope" and "wish," Montague Brown writes of the former that it "involves the conviction that, despite appearances to the contrary, truth and goodness will prevail. To hope is to commit ourselves to the betterment of ourselves and the world.... My hope looks to the future, but it is rooted in reality as it is."

In contrast, wishing involves the fantasy that "despite appearances to the contrary, our desire will be satisfied. To wish is to invoke fortune to bring us what we want, even when what we want is not good.... My wish has no particular bond with reality as it is, but feeds on fantasy.... Wishing is easy and makes no demands on us either to choose truth over fantasy or to choose good over evil."

Oddly, the illiberal leftist locates his wishful hopes and dreams precisely where the conservative liberal locates his hopelessness, in the state. That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

As Lee Harris writes of the Islamists, they are not motivated by "reality." After all, no matter how bad things get, they will never succeed in imposing on the world a caliphate worse than death. Rather, they are immersed in a fantasy ideology, the whole point of which is to infuse the person who embraces it with a kind of monstrously transcendent false hope.

So, in the long run, how is this any different from the petty shoplifters of the left? Both result in the loss of truth, virtue and beauty, and the liberty to pursue them, i.e., in happiness.

A vagabond mind running hither and thither among the varying and false delights of the world is tired out, not satisfied, by its vain exertion.... So if you would attain to the fulfillment of that which, once grasped, leaves no more to be desired -- what is the necessity of putting the rest to the test? You run along bypaths and you will die long before you attain the object of your desires along this circuitous route. --St. Bernard.

34 Comments:

Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"So the whole bloody point of Raccoon life is to realize the transcendent in the immanent and the immanent in the transcendent. This hardly excludes desire, but elevates and sanctifies it."

And the meaning of True Hope, I might add.
The evedence of the Unseen.

4/15/2008 08:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How am I supposed to feel about McCain calling me bitter because I want to get a return on my investments? Apparently he has his hopelessness in the market.

4/15/2008 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

And spreakin' of desire...it isn't that desire itself is a bad thing but what we desire that matters.

For if it can't be elevated and sanctified, then it is not Holy but rather holey, and without heart.
Not of the soul but of the flesh and that corrupt.

Surely, every Raccoon gnos that, but it bares repeatin'.

4/15/2008 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Anon-
Yeah, McCain has problems. We get it. Would you prefer the Obamanation or Shrillery?

The snob and the bitch who are both exponentially worse than John McCain?

It's time you realkize you aren't goin' to get an ideal candidate, so you better vote for the one closest to the Ideal.

Right now, the best candidate is John McCain.

We can hope for a better candidate next election, but that's next election.

Until then we hafta vote for the best option, and the best option definitely ain't the two commies.

4/15/2008 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Okay, haven't read the post yet but as I was driving home from a meeting last night "If wishes were fishes..." (and various permutations both modern and archaic) was running through my head. Weird.

4/15/2008 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"But the spiritually centered Raccoon is able to hold to a steady course and maintain himself "at the center; he never loses sight of the symbol, the spiritual gift of things, the sign of God, a gratitude that is both ascending and radiating." This he accomplishes "in the midst of inevitable distractions and complex occupations" (Schuon)."

That is Beautifully said, Bob!
Raccoons bitter?
Um...hell no!
We got God-given gratitude!

Sometimes I forget..for a short time, and I whine n' rant.
Yet I gno, even when I forget,
in that dark shadow of uncertainty where I'm blinder than usual, that there are some things that are eternally absolute, and gratitude...God given gratitude is one of those pillars of my foundation.

What's so great about gratitude anyway? A moonbat might ask, 'cause they base gratitude on the finite and material, and thus it can never last.

But True gratitude lasts foever, and it isn't based on decaying and corrupt flesh, or on ever-changing circumstances or "fate".

No, it's based on God Himself, and without gratitude we can't grow or transcend.
Indeed, without it we lose hope, faith, peace and joy, and much more.

Without gratitude...thanks...we aren't even static...we are in a freefall into the abyss.

4/15/2008 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Okay, I gnew there was a reason I almost always read your entire post before I comment on the portion I have read. :^)

I'm thankful that you, Bob, have such wonderful gifts!
One being communication, and a way with words that sings to our very souls!

IOW's, I much prefer how you describe gratitude, so I'll try to remember to read your entire post before I comment on it. :^)

4/15/2008 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"A vagabond mind running hither and thither among the varying and false delights of the world is tired out, not satisfied, by its vain exertion.... So if you would attain to the fulfillment of that which, once grasped, leaves no more to be desired -- what is the necessity of putting the rest to the test? You run along bypaths and you will die long before you attain the object of your desires along this circuitous route. --St. Bernard."

I can very-fi this!

Superb post, Bob!

4/15/2008 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Oddly, the illiberal leftist locates his wishful hopes and dreams precisely where the conservative liberal locates his hopelessness, in the state. That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?"

In a nut shell!

4/15/2008 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

On the Level
no peaks no valleys
as the machines of flatland
prozac the nation

4/15/2008 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

RACCOON ALERT!

On Dennis Prager's radio show 11am PDT:
Ben Stein's intelligent radio appearance

4/15/2008 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Happy hug a Statist day!

Bear hug of course. And naturally lestists get two hugs for the lice of one.

4/15/2008 11:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Pragmatist said...

I am going to assume that you are not an anarchist, which then begs the question of how do you determine the proper function of the state?

Once you allow for the state to perform some regulatory functions, how do you non-arbitrarily determine where those powers should stop?

4/15/2008 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Bob,

Just received The Spiritual Ascent, which you recommended.

First reactions:
1- Holy Carp!
2- Beach reading, not!

Thanks!

4/15/2008 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Uhhh, enumerated powers of the Constitution?

4/15/2008 11:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Pragmatist said...

The Constitution creates a general set of constraints and capacities, but within that framework there is a wide discretion for what Congress can do. Certainly Congress doesn't, and shouldn't, enact every possible constitutional statute.

The practical political issue then is which statutes, from the vast set of possible constitutional statutes, should Congress enact?

4/15/2008 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Annonymous said "... but within that framework there is a wide discretion for what Congress can do."

Only after the Constitution has been obfuscated and disregarded. No time at the moment, but this will point towards a clue:
Political Loathsomeness and The Enumerated Powers Act

"The practical political issue then is which statutes, from the vast set of possible constitutional statutes, should Congress enact?"
Wrong question, right question is which statutes should Congress retain. Answer? Damn few.

4/15/2008 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

I guess that last comment was meant for Pragmatist, not Anonymous, and BTW, if you do want to understand the Constitution, first thing you have to do is chuck the 'pragmatist' viewpoint as far away from you as you can. If you're willing to at least consider that, then you need to understand what Liberalism was, as the Founders understood it, you’ll find no better presentation than is laid out in a fully referenced line by line examination of the U.S. Constitution at The Founders Constitution, hosted by the University of Chicago Press and the Liberty Fund.

4/15/2008 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Obama would be better because he would be do what we need him too and persuade other countries it is in their interest too, making it more successful. It's a time where most of the policies of the government need to be continued, mainly, the Iraq policy, with a renewed popular makeover, because it will be difficult to continue them if they are too widely opposed by publics here and abroad, and it needs to be continued. Really, they'll all three candidates do what has to be done in Iraq - its too much in the national interest to do anything else.

So is this not necessarily hope in all that the government can do in this respect so much as hopelessness of the necessity of America's role for the world? :P

4/15/2008 03:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Pragmatist said...

I'm not interested in any ideology, Liberalism or anything else. I don't care what it was, what it is or what it could/will be. I also have no interest in what any of the Founders, or anyone else, thought about what the Constitution means.

All that matters is the text. The text of the Constitution is what was ratified and what is binding.

The only rational and moral way to engage with the constitution is to consider all the valid, coherent interpretive strategies and then apply the one that produces the most Good, the most Value.

Any other position places some kind of ideology over the Good, which is irrational.

If you wish to be rational you will chuck your ideology, whatever you want to call it, and embrace the pragmatist method, which is another way of saying Rationality.

4/15/2008 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger Sal said...

Beautifully expressed, Bob. Thanks!

OT
Isn't it about Somebody's birthday?

4/15/2008 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

hmm, Third Wayers, eh. While it is important what you do, certain dogmas establish the core of what you conceive that you can do - which is the proper function of ideology. Without it you are stuck doing the same thing - which you may do effectively now that you don't have to think, but it only goes so far.

Pragmatism is 'there is one thought that stops all thought. And that is the only thought that ought to be stopped.'

4/15/2008 04:58:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

So you have no interest in what meaning the authors intended in the Constitution? The text was written by real human beings, as well as volumes which pretty much made clear their intent. I don't believe it's their fault it has been bastardized over the years.
Maybe we could just ditch it and put you in charge. If you feel you have no ideology but pragmatism, you need to get a clue.

4/15/2008 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

Hi Sal - Yes, his birthday is tomorrow and already denizens are feeling better.

4/15/2008 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

pragmatist said "...Any other position places some kind of ideology over the Good, which is irrational."

You confuse ideology with philosophy - a common error from those unaware of having either.
ideology:
"Ideology ... is usually taken to mean, a prescriptive doctrine that is not supported by rational argument." [D.D. Raphael, "Problems of Political Philosophy," 1970]

Philosophy:
"love of knowledge, wisdom," from philo- "loving" + sophia "knowledge, wisdom," from sophis "wise, learned." ... Meaning "system a person forms for conduct of life"...

Being the flogger that I am, I look forward to your determining what is ‘Good’ and of ‘Value’, without using either philosophy or ideology.

Pragmatism (a better definition): the rejection of Principle, on principle.

Tends towards an amusing string of self refuting statements… amusing, that is, if you can ignore the misery, death and destruction that follows in its wake.

4/15/2008 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Oh ho! This would be OT, except for the "Horse's Asses" pretty much ties it back in, from the best political commentator outside of the OC, Scott Ott at Scrappleface.com:

Hamas Greets Carter with Gift of 'Traditional Vest'
by Scott Ott for ScrappleFace · 46 Comments
(2008-04-15) — Jimmy Carter’s Middle East mission of peace got off to a “promising start“, the former U.S. president said, as he returned today from meeting with prominent Hamas member Nasser al-Shaer, wearing what he called, “a lovely traditional ceremonial vest” that the Nobel laureate received as a gift from Mr. al-Shaer.

Returning to Jerusalem after the session, Mr. Carter toured a crowded marketplace wearing the snug vest which he said “must be made of some kind of expensive, heavy fabric.”

Asked if he planned further talks with Hamas, Mr. Carter said, “Yes. In fact, I expect they’ll call me soon to trigger the next round.”

Wish I had that number!

4/15/2008 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

"Gratitude is a virtue that allows us, not only to be content with little things -- this is holy childhood -- but also to appreciate or respect little things or big things because they come from God, beginning with the beauty and the gifts of nature; one must be sensitive to the innocence and mystery of the divine works" (Schuon).

Ingratitude is one of the most infuriating characteristics of so many people. And, sadly, it does seem to be more pervasive and egregious on the left. Gratitude is a cardinal virtue, almost the most cardinal of virtues. It is the foundation of loyalty, of true patriotism, of faithfulness, of trust, forgiveness and compassion. Yet people, who should be on their knees thanking God every day for the simple fact they were born in America, for the opportunities and freedoms they enjoy, spend all their time, instead, criticizing and fault-finding. I understand it’s politics and you have to disrespect the other party to gain power, but sometimes you just want to tell them if you can’t say something positive could you at least STFU.

Of course, I am guilty of ungrateful at times myself -- it's pretty easy to miss all the good over the one (usually minor) thing that is bad.

Grace and gratitude just go together. The ungrateful cannot receive grace any more than they can extend it to another. Conversely, to receive grace is to be grateful almost by definition. There is a humility in gratitude that makes living God’s life possible.

4/15/2008 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Thanks, Van.

When you're talking about Mr. Carter, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish an Onion or ScrappleFace piece from the Washington Post.

It takes the New York Times or CBS to do something really unbelievable.

As Gunga Dan would say, "fake but accurate".

4/15/2008 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Oddly, the illiberal leftist locates his wishful hopes and dreams precisely where the conservative liberal locates his hopelessness, in the state. That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?"


It does at that. From a quick and short (for me, anyway) post I just put up:
April 15th - Nat'l Mugged by a Statist Day:

"...but even that won't fix things, not without a populace sufficiently educated to understand what to do with themselves, as opposed to relying on Government to do it for them.

As Bastiat put it: "The state is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everybody else." - and by which they seek to escape not only the expense, but the responsibility, of, and for, their own lives."

4/15/2008 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Mushroom said "As Gunga Dan would say, "fake but accurate"."

;-)



wordveri get's into the spirit:yjfohhu

4/15/2008 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Yesterday marked the arrival of the book The Spiritual Ascent, which I ordered from Amazon.com after the glowing recommendation of Dr. Bob here. The package was squashed, drenched and then packaged in a sealed plastic bag. (I wonder if the colloquial phrase "going postal" really means the American postal companies recruit their workers from the ranks of the violently insane? It seems a strange thing to do, unless they demand less pay in exchange for the work satisfaction of doing things like this.) On the very bright side, the book itself was shrinkwrapped and thus arrived pristine. It was also huge. No seriously. Not optimized for reading on the bus. It looks disturbingly like an embodyment of the phrase "Arcane Tome", even unto the sigil on the cover. No wonder its proximity drove the postal worker into a frenzy even when it was hidden in a box.

4/16/2008 02:51:00 AM  
Blogger Fausta said...

True gratitude is the best gift we can give ourselves.
I learned that the hard way.

4/16/2008 05:37:00 AM  
Anonymous dusty said...

I don't really know what the difference is (What, they just renamed it, and maybe a new forward?), but you can get 1971 edition of A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom for around $6 $12 on Amazon. It's basically the same book.

4/16/2008 07:29:00 AM  
Anonymous baldilocks said...

"Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

4/19/2008 05:19:00 PM  

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