The Death Cult and its Strange Nasolabial Gods (11.22.11)
We're still in the middle of that old card, Death. UF properly relates the grim ferryman to mechanism and materialism, which are "not at all the realm of answers, but rather the graveyard for real questions." In other words, to embrace scientistic reductionism as a metaphysic (as opposed to a method) is to live as zombie. You're not really alive. You're just undead.
For example, just ask a typical victim of reductionosis -- as Julie attempted to do -- what a smile is. A purely horizontal person could in good faith respond that it involves "the contraction of muscles in the region of the mouth and cheeks, and this latter through electrical impulses transmitted through the nerves from the centre called the 'brain.'" But this would be like trying to understand a telephone conversation by analyzing the electrical impulses that pass within the wires. The most complete analysis will necessarily be completely inadequate. Such an approach hardly explains the smile, but simply provides the occasion for a metasmile.
The same is obviously true of the mind/brain relationship. Smiling is a manifestation of joy, or humor, or bemusement, which "set in motion both the muscles of the mouth and the electrical impulses of the nerves." As I mentioned somewhere in the book, every reductionistic explanation harbors a cognitively pathological dualism that results in one side of the dualism spilling over into the other side.
In other words, like a psychotic patient, the materialist's explanation is always put forth by that which is denied in the explanation. Making a question go away is not the same as having answered it. As UF points out, the question remains, but it is simply shifted from the conscious to the unconscious mind.
If you ever want to know why so called "rational" people believe in such weird things -- global warming, Obama worship, the designated hitter -- this is why. They descend into a kind of chaotic and disorganized form of unconscious thinking, because you can no more make the unconscious go away than you can make the sympathetic nervous system go away. All you can do is discipline and channel it, the same way you create electricity from a wild river.
You don't make the Colorado River go away. You build a damn, which is to say, a boundary condition, which harnesses the "lower" in order to allow for an emergent "higher." If I were a reductionist, perhaps I might say that this post is being typed on a computer, which is plugged into a socket, which is powered by Hoover Dam, which is just a big wall with holes in it, which is why this post is ultimately all wet.
Now, one of my main beefs with psychoanalysis is that it does a fine job of describing the lower vertical, but at the same time, tries to reduce the upper vertical to the lower. Only a handful of psychoanalysts don't do this, Bion being among them. With him, you retain all of the vast explanatory power of psychoanalysis without infringing upon the upper vertical, the domain of religion, mysticism, gnosis and magic.
As I mentioned above, the materialistic thinker always ends up unwittingly mired in a dark swamp of unconscious thinking. One of the purposes of religion is to provide a luminous framework for fruitfully thinking about -- or within -- the upper vertical. And in fact, it also does a fine job of structuring the lower vertical -- or at least it used to.
I'm thinking of all the extraordinary wisdom embodied, say, in the Talmud or in classical elucidations of the cardinal virtues and deadly sins. A while back we did a series on the esoteric meaning of the Ten Commandments. Same idea. Just as there is such a thing as a healthy body -- obviously -- there is also such a thing as a healthy soul and spirit. But if you deny the soul and spirit up front, then if you remain spiritually healthy, it will be by accident, not design.
So many decent morons of the left hypocritically retain "religious habits" with no religious belief. For example, they insist that marriage is sacred -- so sacred, in fact, that we should extend it to people for whom it is strictly impossible to be married, thereby undermining its very definition (which again, is only in the vertical; to reduce marriage to some sort of purely horizontal arrangement is to destroy it -- as well as the sacred itself).
It's analogous to saying, "eating salad is healthy. So healthy, in fact, that I will place my cat on a strict diet of fresh vegetables." Good logic. Wrong species. Which pretty much sums up the left. It reminds me of a great line from the Gary Shandling show, when his bitter agent says "our job would be so easy if it weren't for fucking talent." Leftism would be so great if if weren't for fucking humans! Humans are the problem. So let's give them more power over us!
Most people don't have the time or ability to be metaphysicians, which is one of the practical blessings of religion. If you eliminate religion, you'll just usher in bad metaphysics.
This is the true meaning of the culture war. The United States used to be one culture with two political parties. The two parties basically represented different groups of interests with the same underlying culture. But beginning in the 1960s, the Democrat party started to represent a new culture, which is not American, for American culture is rooted in Judeo-Christian principles, among other things. All culture is rooted in the cult, which is the "interior glue" that holds a people together and makes them "brothers."
Which leads us to ask: what is the interior glue that holds the nasolabians of the left together? What is the common interest, say, of the corrupt labor leader, the abortion activist, the dysfunctional Teachers' Union, and the homosexual agenda? What is their common cult? Who is the god to whom they all make their sacrifice?
I'll let you answer that question. UF makes the point that our vertical freedom is a miracle, by which he means something that transcends any purely mechanistic explanation. You might say that everything that isn't either chaotic or mechanical is a miracle, i.e., a vertical intervention.
And because of our freedom, we can see that the higher illumines the lower, not vice versa. In other words, in the absence of freedom, we could not know truth, because truth would be reduced to a kind of mechanical operation that excludes us, precisely. So, to say "truth" is to say "freedom" is to say "spirit" is to say "miracle":
"The minimum is only the reduced maximum and it is through the maximum that one understands the minimum, and not vice versa. It is consciousness which renders the mechanical and unconscious comprehensible, the latter being only consciousness reduced to a minimum, not vice versa. It is man who is the key to the biological evolution of Nature and not the primitive organic cell."
The point is, it is the most complete and final form that "illumines and explains the previous stages." Which is why man explains evolution, not vice versa. But what explains Man? Or is that too obvious?
Oops. Out of time. See you tomorrow.