Cosmic Divorce and the Quest for Missing Unity (5.23.09)
Our founders, being that they were deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian principles, had no illusions about the desirability of political "unity." To the contrary, they set up the Constitution in such a way that it would be practically impossible to achieve -- or impose, is more like it -- unity, with the separation of political power into competing branches of government. Naturally, this doesn't preclude synthesis, which is another thing entirely.
As it pertains to contemporary politics, you might say that the left is the pro-"static unity" faction, while the right is the pro-"dynamic synthesis" faction (which in turn is why the left shades off into fascism, while conservatism -- not the GOP, mind you -- is the last bastion of American liberalism). This can be seen quite clearly in the lust for "unity" that we are told drives the Obama campaign. I don't know about Obama's handlers -- who I assume are as cynical and calculating as any political hacks -- but with his followers it is a different matter. Being that "the hypnotized never lie," I suppose we should take them at their word that they are not being disingenuous, and that they actually believe the loony things they say. They actually believe the dream.
I don't have time to look it up, but I remember a few years back, a study came out about the damaging psychological consequences of divorce. As a psychologist, I can assure you that almost all psychological research that emanates from academia is not even wrong. Rather, it is thoroughly politicized with leftist assumptions dressed up as conclusions. As a result, there is no free inquiry; rather, certain conclusions are mandated, while others are forbidden, so the whole exercise is mostly an anti-intellectual farce.
But this study made a subtle point about the lasting consequences of divorce. But even more importantly, it comports with common sense. That is, the child who grows up in a broken home will be deprived of the experience of a harmonious synthesis at its deepest level, which derives from the union of male and female. Obviously, marriage is an organic synthesis -- especially as it transforms through time -- not a mechanical union (although it certainly can be; there is no guarantee that someone from an "intact" home will know the type of higher unity we are discussing). The point is that the psyche of the child of divorce can be "fractured" in ways both subtle and enduring.
As we have discussed before, early psychoanalysis focused exclusively on the "content" of the mind, consistent with its roots in the naive mechanistic positivism of the 19th century. All bad philosophies presuppose what they need to explain, and in this regard, psychoanalysts didn't even think about the psychological container, only the content, i.e., "id," "ego," and "superego."
But beginning in about the 1960s there was much more of an appreciation of the priority of the container over the content, especially for more serious forms of mental illness, e.g., what are called "personality disorders," which are enduring forms of maladaptive thought and behavior. These lifelong conditions are to be distinguished from the "neuroses," which are more easily conceptualized in terms of "bad content," so to speak. But even then, if you scratch the surface of most neurotics, you will find issues of "containment" to which the neurosis is a sort of adaptation.
Am I being too jargony? I'm afraid I'm losing readers at this point. In my book, I talk about "mind parasites." When you think about these, the image of a discrete foreign invader no doubt comes to mind. But the deepest mind parasites -- excluding purely genetic and biochemical things like schizophrenia -- are much more analogous to autoimmune disorders, in that they are not so much the content as the context. Just as an autoimmune disorder attacks the body's own tissue, a person with a "bad container," so to speak, attacks his own mental content (not to confuse things, but he can also project the content into other people and attack it that way, as do, for example, the rabid Bush haters).
One of the odd things about human beings is that we do not come into this world with any kind of adequate container. This is a remarkable point, and one that is fraught with consequences, both good and bad. No other animal needs to be "contained." Rather, they are driven by instinct, which you might say defines the "outer limits" of their consciousness. No animal is terrified of infinity. No animal worries about death, or the end of being.
But man, being that he is in the image of the creator, is born into "infinity," so to speak. I shouldn't even say "so to speak," because I am being quite literal. The purpose of containment is ultimately to "translate" infinity into time, which is none other than to think. Which in turn is why real thinking is a "transformation in O," or O-->(k). But there are many counterfeit forms of thinking, and most of them ultimately have to do with various issues of containment. To put it another way, the perfection of mystical union might be thought of as becoming at one with the "container" of all Being.
Let's take an obvious example. As Lee Harris has written, the jihadi doesn't become a jihadi because there is any realistic hope of creating a unified Islamic caliphate worse than death on earth. Rather, the reason he becomes a jihadi is to share in this intoxicating fantasy. To believe it is to be transformed by it, so the real motivation is strictly personal, just projected onto the world-historical stage.
In so many ways, leftism shares this same dynamic, in that it always promises things that by definition it can never deliver. We know this ahead of time. But that's not the point. The point is to believe and to be transformed by the belief. This is why the left is such an odd grab-bag of losers, perverts, crackpots, ideologues, dimwits, and evil geniuses. (This book looks like a promising exploration of these themes; just ordered it.)
Let's take a recent example. Last week a single judge on the California Supreme Court (being that it was a 4-3 decision) decided not only to redefine the accepted meaning of marriage, but to impose this idiosyncratic definition on 35 million others. This is something that even Californians do not want, but it doesn't matter. Unity has been imposed from on high by a single fascist judge. And as is true of all forms of fascist unity, it actually undermines the possibility of real synthesis, being that it attacks the very institution that makes it possible at the deepest level, i.e., the union of male and female.
This kind of leftist judicial pathology presupposes a materialistic paradigm. Atheists talk a good game, but if you could be magically transformed into an actual materialist, you would die of the unremitting horror. To actually be consigned to materialism would instantly drain the world of its spiritual content and context, leaving a sort of barren landscape with no intrinsic meaning whatsoever. It sounds paradoxical, but it would be a kind infinite finitude from which there would be no vertical escape. It would be a kind of living spiritual death which you can scarcely imagine, unless you have attended a major university, for it is the death of the human imagination, and with it, our "spiritualizing" faculty.
Now, Obama is the product of a deadbeat father and a hippy flake of a mother. Is such a person automatically consigned to a leftist hell in search of the Lost Unity? No, of course not. That would be a gross over-simplification. To cite just one example, God's grace is real, and can help deliver one from a fractured state.
What did Obama do? He went and joined a pathological church that repeated the trauma of his childhood, so two wrongs made a Wright! Paranoid, delusional, spiritually fractured, riven by projection, and driven by the chimera of "black unity." Of course he wants Unity, for he wants to clean up after the mess his parents made.
The sacred marriage, consummated in the heart, adumbrates the deepest of all mysteries. For this means both our death and beatific resurrection. The word to "marry" (become one) also means "to die," just as in Greek [it] is to be perfected, to be married, or to die. When "each is both," no relation persists: and if it were not for this beatitude, there would be neither life nor gladness anywhere. --Ananda Coomaraswamy
In alchemy, the true hero, "son of the cosmos" and "savior of the macrocosm" is he who is capable of offering a virgin soul into the embrace of transcendency. --M. Aiane, in The Spiritual Ascent
Marriage between man and woman is not an end in itself but a divinely ordained arrangement for the purposes of receiving the grace that will transform both parties. A dysfunctional marriage is one in which no spiritual transformation takes place -- it is spiritually "stillborn," so to speak, or "infertile" no matter how many children it produces -- like a Kennedy marriage.
This is why, strictly speaking, there can be no "secular" marriage. Or put it this way: to the extent that your marriage is only a secular affair, I do not see how or why it could transcend the state of essentially being -- as Glen Campbell sang -- "shackled by forgotten words and bonds and the ink stains that have dried upon some line." Anything short of spiritual union involves using the other person in one way or another. It merely creates the conditions for narcissism rather than its transcendence, which is surely one reason why there are so many divorces. Marriage can never do for you what it was never intended to do, which is to make you "happy" or "fulfilled" in the material sense, at least not for long. No mere earthling can do that. --Petey