Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Combining Western Know-How with Eastern Be-Who

As the two world-historical streams -- the Abrahamic and Brahmanic -- meandered and ramified, they took very different courses before arriving at oddly parallel conclusions. In the West, science pursued the material world down to the atom, eventually passing beyond it to discover an implicate realm of unbroken wholeness flowing beneath our misleading perceptions of duration and solidity. Vedanta proceeded in the opposite direction, tracing the illusory contours of our world-representation down to the explicate self, and then smashing it to discover another vast realm of unbroken wholeness and unity beneath our contingent and transient egos.

In the West, Kant and later Schopenhauer (his biography by Magee is outstanding) took metaphysics as far as the Western dualistic paradigm would allow, to the threshold of the noumenon, the unknowable ultimate reality that lay hidden behind our evolved perceptions (or what we like to call O). Kant maintained that we could only know the phenomenal world, the one revealed by our senses and categories of thought. Whatever lay outside those categories was utterly unknown and unknowable for us.

Schopenhauer went further than Kant, in that he realized that fleeting glimpses of the noumenon could be experienced, for example, in sexual union or in moments of aesthetic exaltation, especially through music. By the way, note that noumenon must be singular, not plural; there can be no "noumena," because that already presumes an egoic standpoint detached from it. In Coonskrit, it would be analogous to suggesting that there could be more than one O, when we all know there can onely be (n)one.

Schopenhauer never imagined that we could actually evolve beyond the neuropsychological walls of the ego and know the noumenon directly. That is, until he discovered the Upanishads, which you might say was the first point of reconnection between our two search parties, the Abrahamic and Brahmanic.

(Although there is, of course, much interesting, perhaps kooky, speculation as to how much Jesus was influenced by Eastern ideas, and why not? First century Palestine was an extraordinary melting pot of religious influences, and we can really have no idea what Luke exactly means by the statement that Jesus "grew in wisdom and stature" (2:52) or how he did it, for what does the Son of God need to learn in order to grow and become wise, and from whom does he learn it? Very early on, Jesus began to be officially "Helenized" at the same time he was de-Judaized, which is perhaps why some of the early fathers who gave Christianity more of a Vedantin twist are still regarded with suspicion, e.g., Denys -- who seems to have been familiar with Eastern ideas -- and his greatest acolyte, John Scottus Eriugena.)

After Schopenhauer had already completed his magnum opus, The World as Will and Representation, he discovered one of the first available copies of the Upanishads to appear in the Western world, a poor Latin translation of a Persian translation of the original Sanskrit. And yet, he immediately recognized that the Vedic seers had come to the identical conclusion about the world that he had -- except that they had found a way to pass beyond it, not through thought, but by somehow transcending thought.

For the rest of his life, Schopenhauer read a few pages of the Upanishads every night before going to sleep. He called it "the most profitable and sublime reading that is possible in the world; it has been the consolation of my life and will be that of my death." It is one of the ironies of Western civilization that its elites -- often for good reason -- rejected Christianity, only to rediscover some of its buried truths in a form more acceptable to them in Eastern religions. Obviously the same thing occurs today among the non-elite, with countless people embracing pseudo-forms of Eastern religion (i.e., "realizationism"), since big-box Christianity continues to bury much of its own mystical and intellectual Light under a bushel of divine salesmanship.

In any event, the problem that developed in India was that, in recognizing the illusory nature of the phenomenal world, they focussed only on escaping it. The only true reality was Brahman, transcendent, immobile, unchanging, beyond this world of illusion and suffering. It is fair to say that this dismissive attitude toward the world hindered economic and political development in India for hundreds of years, for the world is real, just not ultimately real -- or, if you like, it is illusion, but not only illusion.

In the West, we enthusiastically plunged into the external world, and yet, we are in danger of being marooned there in a spiritual wasteland of material abundance and sensory pleasure. Throughout history, human beings have been dreaming of the amenities we take for granted, and yet, it is never enough.

I am anything but a free-market basher, but our material abundance has become spiritually problematic for many -- who are like those bleating last men prophesied by Nietzsche, wallowing in their pitiable comfort. Obviously, most Americans still hunger for spiritual experience, and yet, all too often they don't seem able to make religion "work" for them -- something seems to be missing, some key that would unlock the inner significance of religious belief and practice. If a religion is working, it should lead to real knowledge and real change. It shouldn't just come down to simply accepting this or that doctrine and hoping for the best.

In my view, the Judeo-Christian and Esoteric Hindu traditions are the missing parts of one another, at least in form if not in substance. In exploring and conquering the material world, the former extends from the center to the periphery, or from the One to the many. Vedanta proceeds in the other direction, from the periphery back to the center, from the many back to the One. In reality, neither approach is completely valid or invalid. Rather, the Real would be a dynamic synthesis (not mere blending) of the two, a "transcendent position" that unifies the Eastern and Western hemispheres of the global brain, allowing us to live in a third dialectical or "transitional" space between the external world and the mysterious Subject that is the source of both the world and ourSelves.

V. Madhusudan Reddy writes that "Mankind has benefitted broadly by the two central spiritual streams which were complementary to each other. The one that watered the West has been essentially the aspiration for the salvation of the world, the emancipation of humanity [through] the descent of God's grace.... The [stream] that was perfected in the East and especially in India was the liberation of the individual through his ascent into the Divine himself. An exclusive stress on the first results in preoccupation with the material world, whereas the all too exclusive preoccupation with individual liberation leads to complete disregard of the world of humanity. An integration of these two ways, a wider and luminous fusion of their insights, will provide a tangible and enduring basis of spiritual life on the earth."

In the last 6,000 years, human beings have undergone various revolutions. The agrarian revolution involved learning how to grow things, while the industrial revolution involved learning how to make things. The current information revolution involves knowing things. The coming onto-noetic revolution will involve learning how to be something. Or more simply, knowing how to be (which is to say, unKnow and non-do in order to grow into no-thing).

Monday, February 04, 2008

World-Historical Interior Evolution, or Earthlings, Get Over Yourselves!

In keeping with the theme of yesterday's non-post about yoga and Christianity, I dug up this early one about the world-historical significance of the developing Anglo-Hindu alliance. It strikes me as pedantic. But at least it's long. I wouldn't recommend it. I'll just post part one and see if anyone expresses interest.

***

Under the radar of the MSM, the Bush administration has been working to create a new Anglo-Hindu alliance. It is now the policy, or "Grand Strategy of the United States," to assist India in becoming "a major world power in the 21st century." I consider this a development of potential world-historical significance, which I would define as a point in which vertical energies pour down from above, either to assist mankind in evolving to the next phase or breaking through an evolutionary impasse whereby human beings cannot rise above themselves. My fellow Subgenius readers might think of these as celestial "bursts of slack" that have appeared from time to time, and without which the Conspiracy would be in total control of our lives and destiny.

For example, one world-historical moment is known as the Axial Age, a period of general spiritual awakening between 800 and 200 BC, when all of the initial major revelations of mankind were downloaded: the Old Testament prophets, the Greek mystery schools, the Vedic seers of the Upanishads, Confucius, and Lao Tzu's original Tao te Slack.

If you are Christian, you probably have no difficulty understanding the incarnation of Jesus as a kind of depth charge dropped down into history from on high. The temporal reverberations from that spiritual shaktiwave continue to wash ashore over the present. After all, even if you don't believe in Christ, you are nevertheless the benefactor of his presence, say, in the decisive manner in which he affected the thinking of the American founders.

In Hinduism, an "avatar" refers to an incarnation of the divine. Unlike Christianity, they believe there have been many avatars, and yet, this principle is not really at odds with either Christianity or Judaism. That is, you can think of an avatar as something short of a literal manifestation of the one God; many righteous rabbis and saints would qualify as avatars, not necessarily as a literal descent of the divine, but perhaps as embodiments of an ascent to holiness or to the divine.

Some people are born with a divine mission to accomplish, even if it isn't explicitly spiritual, say, Charlemagne or Alexander. Sri Aurobindo refers to them as vibhutis -- figures who appear on the world-historical stage at precisely the right time and place to either "rescue" mankind or advance it to a new level of moral, political, or aesthetic understanding. These people are often consciously aware of being seized by a transcendent power in order to accomplish a mission. The American founders would obviously be prime examples. Other examples might include Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, and many others, both detected and undetected by written, "daytime" history (vibhutis often work anonymously, under cover of darkness, so to speak; people become aware of them only on a "need to know" basis).

Evolution requires time and experimentation but also a telos, or meaningful endpoint. If you stand back from world history and view it in the widest possible coontext, you can think of it as a journey out of Africa that began some 60,000 to 75,000 years ago, with various search parties setting out to discover what they could. Diverse cultures and civilizations may be thought if as the embodiments of the discoveries and solutions these groups came up with, some good, some bad, some perfectly awful. Only now are we in a position to call a new meeting to order and compare and contrast what these different groups found in their world-historical journeys. Importantly, this would represent the exact opposite of the U.N., which functions to justify and perpetuate the very worst in mankind.

What I am advocating represents multiculturalism in a positive sense, because it doesn't mean accepting any and all cultural nonsense as beautiful and helpful, as does the left. Rather, our task is to critically examine what various human groups have discovered or developed, and keep the good and throw out the bad. For example, Chinese Maoism? Bad. Chinese Taoism? Good. Chinese food? Even better! The Hindu Upanishads? Sublime. The caste system? Good in principle if allowed to express itself spontaneously, very bad if imposed from the top down. The American constitution? Unsurpassed. American materialism? Troubling, e.g., metaphysical scientism, addiction to fleeting pleasures, etc.

Now, an existential fork in the road took place in mankind's evolutionary journey sometime after the 10th century BC, when both the Torah and Upanishads appeared, signifying a split between what might be called the Abrahamic and Brahmanic traditions.

Since we are wading in it, we are pretty familiar with the path the Biblical stream took, winding its way through Jesus, the late Roman Empire, Western Christendom, the scientific revolution, the American founding, etc. Many if not most readers may not know much about the other stream that began with the Vedas. The reason why this split is so important is because it represented two differing conceptions of ultimate reality, one seeing it as more radically transcendent (the Judeo-Christian stream), the other as immanent in the person (the Vedic stream). (There is actually more than a bit of both in each, but it is a matter of emphasis.)

WARNING: PEDANTRY AHEAD

The word "veda" simply means knowledge. Each of the four Vedas is divided into two parts: work and knowledge. The former deals with myths, hymns, prayers, and instructions for rites and ceremonies -- mantras, incantations, ritual formulas, etc. The second part concerns itself with the highest experiential basis of religious truth. These latter, more metaphysical Vedas are collectively known as the Upanishads (I suppose this is my favorite translation; like the King James Bible, it may not be the most faithful, but it the most beautiful.)

Vedanta represents the esoteric core of Hinduism. Veda-anta actually means "end of the Vedas," and can be taken both literally and metaphorically. That is, the Upanishads not only appear at the end of the Vedas, but also represent the "end" of relative knowledge -- they represent a special kind of knowledge that transcends both ordinary and scriptural knowledge. It is knowledge of the direct experience of ultimate reality.

There are one hundred eight Upanishads, but only ten have come to be known as the principal Upanishads. The literal meaning of Upanishad is something like "sitting near devotedly," but may also be understood as "secret teaching," for this is a kind of oral knowledge that may only be handed down from "one who knows," from a guru who has experienced the ultimate reality to an earnest disciple who seeks it. This is a kind of knowledge that is very much bound up with a radical notion of liberty, for it "destroys the bonds of ignorance and leads to the supreme goal of liberation."

The Upanishads are different than the scripture of the Bible, in that they do not record historical events, revelations, or prophecies, but the direct experiences of the Vedic saints and seers (but sometimes presented in story form, such as a conversation with Death). Their main conclusion -- or "I-witness" testimony -- is that the ultimate reality beyond name and form, or Brahman, the Self of the universe, the eternal I AM, abides deep within each individual, or Atman. Ultimately, Atman and Brahman are One. Well, not exactly. It is perhaps more accurate to say that they are not-two. Importantly, the Atman is not to be confused with our surface ego. Rather, it is the indestructible and changeless Self behind the superficial personality. It is actually located not in the mind but the heart. A Vedantin would consider it the beating heart of the living cosmos.

END PURE PEDANTRY HERE

One of the reasons why the United States represented such an evolutionary advance is that it was the first to consciously embody Judeo-Christian principles. That is, there had been Christian nations, but never before an explicitly Judeo-Christian one. I won't outline the entire argument here, but an excellent book that summarizes the evidence is On Two Wings, by Michael Novak. In total contrast to the crude anti-Semitism of Europe (which continues to this day), the American founders were deeply influenced not just by Christianity but Judaism. For example, John Adams wrote, "I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation." Thomas Jefferson saw the United States as "God's American Israel," leading human beings out af a decadent Europe to a new way of life.

I believe America and the world are at another evolutionary crossroads, or perhaps even impasse. Yes, the modern children of Israel successfully escaped the decadent world of Europe for the new American frontier. That frontier expanded westward, until there was no frontier left, so it expanded upward into space, downward into the oceans, and "beneath" or "behind" the illusion of solid materiality, into the subatomic world. Where is the new frontier for the American children of Israel?

It is into the only truly infinite frontier -- the inward frontier explored and mapped out by the forgotten little search party with whom we parted ways three thousand years ago: the lost tribe of the Brahmanic peoples. This does not imply a blending of the two traditions, only that our exteriorized western religion must recover its own rich interior dimension, which already exists, but has rarely been emphasized in the institutional forms of Western Christendom.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

This is Not a Post About Vedanta and Christianity

I AM has sent me to you. --Ex 3:14

Before Abraham was, I AM. --John 8:58

NO, this is not a post, but my own attempt to assimilate some ideas I've been working with, a private logiary, if you will. Feel free to read along, but this is mainly an exercise for my own benefit. I don't intend to resume blogging anytime soon, but I do intend to continue thinking and writing in connection with my new project. I guess I've just become used to writing with a bunch of people staring at me. But these won't be polished, plus they may abruptly begin and end. And I probably won't take the time to pedantically explain obscure points that I already understand. Just think of this as a bootleg post that fell into your hands.

Just finished a serious and challenging book called Christianity and the Doctrine of Non-Dualism, by an anonymous French "Monk of the West" (although his identity is known). This is an area that is particularly dear to me, since I find myself equally drawn to Yoga and Christianity. Being that I am unable to choose between the two, perhaps it is my destiny to try to recooncile them.

Of course, that doesn't mean blending them, which would only reconsully both. Rather, it's more like "cross referencing." In so doing, one must proceed very cautiously, because it is possible to use words in a manner they were never intended just to achieve a superficial ecumenism. For example, the idea that Jesus was "just another guru" -- or an instance of the avatar principle (the descent of the divine in human form, or "Godman") -- would be a non-starter, doing violence to both Christianity and Yoga. One has to be willing to consider the idea that avatars exist, but that there is only one begotten son. Likewise, although "ascended masters" have surely passed this way, to restrict Jesus to the category of a mere fleshlight would be to miss the whole point.

In the end, the Monk makes only the claim that Orthodox Christianity and the classic Vedanta of Shankara are not incompatible, as opposed to being identical. For example, Meister Eckhart, according to no less an authority than Vladimir Lossky, expresses "a vision of the unity of being which is not pantheistic monism, but rather a Christian 'non-dualism,' appropriate to the idea of the world created ex nihilo by the all-powerful God of the Bible -- 'He who is.'" In other words, at the very least, Christianity is capacious enough to formulate a doctrine of non-dualism in its own terms.

As usual, I find that Orthodoxy and Catholicism are far more open-minded and accommodating to such an exploration, as many (not all, or course) Protestants are likely to say that "it's all in the book," and that what's not there isn't true. The Monk dismisses such facile arguments, citing, for example, the authority of St Thomas, who taught that "integral doctrine is not circumscribed within the limits of 'what is written,' but that by reason of its excellence, not only is Christ's teaching not totally contained in the written accounts, but cannot be so contained" (emphasis mine).

The Monk refers to the last verse of John, where it is said that there are countless "other things which Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." What a beautiful way to put it, for how could mere words ever contain the Word if the entire cosmos cannot? The very idea should be understood as blasphemy -- of turning scripture into a graven image -- but somehow it's not.

The Monk also cites a declaration from the Secretariat for Non-Christians, who wrote that Christians are to "refrain from a priori rejecting as necessarily and wholly monist and non-Christian, the ideal of identification with the Absolute which dominates Indian spirituality" (i.e., tat tvam asi, or "thou art That," which is to say, Atman and Brahman are not-two).

That statement by the Secretariat is a fascinating one to ponder. In fact, the Monk goes into considerable detail explaining how Indian mysticism has historically been confused with pantheism or simple monism in order to dismiss it, when it is anything but. To the contrary, there may be no metaphysical doctrine that is more explicit about avoiding the conflation of world and God.

Elsewhere he refers to an encyclical by John Paul II -- what a Man -- who wrote that "the strength of belief on the part of members of non-Christian religions -- this too, the effect of the Spirit of Truth operating beyond the visible frontiers of the visible Mystical Body -- should shame those Christians so often brought to doubt truths revealed by God and announced by the Church."

Once again we see the hubris in believing that the "Spirit of Truth" can somehow be tamed, domesticated, and made to serve man. I would agree with Bion that Truth itself is Messianic, in the sense that it perpetually shatters that which would limit and constrain it. Every time. In fact, the Monk says that a more accurate translation of the Word would actually be the Verb, which testifies to its intrinsically dynamic and active nature. Thus, it would appear that the Verb is not static, but has -- so to speak -- a truine capacity to create, preserve, and destroy (i.e., Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, not perhaps a hypostatic union, but still a "three-in-One" or "Whole in three").

Finally, the Monk again cites St. Thomas, who wrote that "the power of a Divine Person is infinite and cannot itself be limited by any created thing. Hence it may not be said that a Divine Person so assumed one human nature as to be unable to assume another." Naturally this cannot mean that there could be a "plurality of unique sons." But what can it mean then?

In the preface to the book, Alvin Moore describes Christianity at its core as "a bhaktic esoterism," while in common practice it is "an exoteric religion of love," thereby accessible to "a considerable sector or mankind." He goes on to say that since only God can truly know God, to know God is to "become him." Or, if that doesn't sound quite right, our knowledge of God "is God's knowledge of Himself through man as instrument," a formulation that might well have come from the pen of Meister Eckhart.

Now, exactly what is Vedanta? Unlike Christianity, there is no doctrinal unity in Hinduism, but Vedanta is essentially the experiential confirmation of "the mystery of the divine Absolute, the transcendent Self which constitutes the deepest stratum of our being." It is the highest sacred and esoteric wisdom of Hinduism, preserved in the Upanishads, which one might roughly say are to eternity as the Bible is to time.

That is, the Bible is primarily a linear account of the historical dealings of God and man, whereas the Upanishads are mainly timeless accounts of purely vertical encounters between the ancient "Vedic seers" and the Absolute. In turn, the Bhagavad Gita may be thought of as an attempt to "horizontalize" the vertical message of the Upanishads in a mythological form for a more popular audience. This is only superficially analogous to the Bible, because the Bible's theology is derived from the story, so to speak, whereas in the case of the Gita, the story is the instantiation of the theology (although there are purely philosophical/theological parts of the Bible, e.g., Proverbs, and purely metaphysical rants by Krishna, the god-man of the Gita).

I suppose it's no coincidence that my favorite Christian theologians (e.g., Dionysius, Eckhart, Nicholas of Cusa, John Scottus Eriugena) often sound like vedic seers. For example, I might well have cited Nicholas to support the Cosmogenesis section of my book:

The infinite is incompatible with otherness, for nothing can exist outside of it.... Thus the infinite is at once everything and nothing at all. No name is suitable for it, for every name can have a contrary, and nothing can be contrary to the unnameable infinite. It is not a whole opposed by parts, and it cannot be a part....

O?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

God Help Us From the Selfless Left

Another old post from way back, this time freely edited by Bob's unconscious.

*****

Along the lines we were discussing yesterday, insufficient attention has been paid to the destructive effects of our primitive human groupishness, which is anterior to the developmental and historical emergence of our individualism.

Again, we are born in a neurologically incomplete state, in which we are merged or fused with our primary caretakers. Twoness -- and then Threeness -- will only gradually emerge from this prior condition of Oneness, or the "background object of primary identification" (Grotstein). And although this unusual situation has its dark side, it is also the reason why, underneath our individual existence, we may fall in love, deeply connect with others, and escape from our little egoic I-land.

But please bear in mind that two means of escape are possible, one a big broad, the other a strait and narrow itty biddy: down and back into the seductive but engulfing arms of the Great Mother, or up and out toward the Father -- whose "dark side" or "better half" is none other than the Source Mother, or the Virgin (i.e., Male is being, Female is the eternal womb beyond-being; thus, in keeping with "as above, so below," there is a lower maternal pole that is the inversion of the higher).

Leftists in particular always assume that the world's problems are caused by excessive individualism in the form of aggression, greed, and selfishness, which is why they wish to cure the problem with a heavy-handed, top-down collective, the state, instead of through the timeless-tested method of cultivating virtue by conforming ourselves to our divine archetype, thus becoming (relatively) free of our lower selves in the process, and therefore free.

The leftist approach only ends up perpetuating the disease it purports to cure, since socialism doesn't decrease selfishness but increases it. First of all, it is wholly materialistic, thus robbing man of his reason for being, which is pricelessness itself. Secondly, it replaces self-interest, which is the foundation of a rational spontaneous social order, with selfishness, which is its opposite.

For example, if we end up enacting some version of socialized medicine, I suppose it will economically benefit someone like me, since I have a chronic disease (type 1 diabetes), but only in the short term, and at the expense of diabetics being born today. I'll be dead by the time they have to deal with the catastrophic effects of socialized medicine. Yes, my healthcare is very expensive, but guess what: it's worth it. Just a generation ago, my mother didn't have the tools I have to control my diabetes, so she had a stroke at around 60. If they had had socialized medicine back then, it's unlikely that the drug companies would have made the advances that have made my life so much easier.

As mentioned above, humans are born in a neurologically incomplete state with fluid boundaries. The psychoanalyst Winnicott made the apt observation that "there is no such thing as an infant," at least from the infant's point of view, since the infant is unable to clearly distinguish itself from the mother. (One could also say that the same holds true in the unconscious of the mother, where she psychically "holds" the baby in an ocean of right-brained reverie. Just observe a mother and her infant, and you'll see what I mean, as together they dream the baby's experience.)

What this means is that human beings are fundamentally a group animal; we are "relational," not just in a social sense, but at the core of our own being, where we are always two-in-one or one-in-two, depending upon the way we look at it. In other worlds, before we ever relate to the outside per se, we have an interior relation that Bion described in a couple of very unsaturated ways, either as container (♀) and contained (♂), or as primitive "beta (ß-) elements," or "thoughts without a thinker" that will be given coherence and meaning by what he called "alpha (∂-) function," or the internalized reverie-function of the (m)other. Just think of alpha function as the most primitive form of thinking, without which no proper thinking is possible. (We won't get into Threeness at the moment, for this discussion of Twoness is already a crowd.)

So, we all harbor the unconscious residue of an infantile matrix out of which our individuality only later emerges. In developmental psychology, this process is known as "individuation," and there are many things that can go wrong on the journey from infantile symbiosis to individuation and mature independence (and therefore mature dependence; many leftists replace mature dependence upon family and friends with immature dependence upon government).

One of the things that frequently goes awry in this process is that the drive toward individuation is overcome by the opposite trend, the regressive pull toward fusion and dependence. Becoming independent is fraught with anxiety, and can trigger a host of emotional problems in someone with a history of insecure, traumatic, or ambivalent attachment. My son is pretty confident, but I can still see him waver back and forth between independence and fusion with Mommy. It's as if he takes an ecstatic step toward independence, then notices he's out on a limb by himself, which triggers a bit of separation anxiety. It's much more noticeable when he makes a significant developmental leap, which brings new abilities but leaves his old familiar self back in the dust. It's very much like puberty, only repeated several times between birth and six or seven years of age.

What did Tolstoy say? "From the child of five to myself is but a step. But from the newborn baby to the child of five is an appalling distance.”

Likewise, from a child of five to a committed leftist is but a step. But from illiberal leftist to conservative liberal is an appalling distance! No wonder they hate us.

Now, a casual or even formal, black-tie survey of history reveals that human beings are a deeply troubled species. Arthur Koestler observed that we err in placing all of the blame on human greed, selfishness, and assertiveness -- that is, excess individualism. Rather, he pointed out that the amount of crime committed for personal motives is inconsequential compared to that committed by large populations -- that is, groups -- in a completely self-transcendent manner on behalf of religion or ideology, king or country.

The Islamists are a case in point. Suicide bombers obviously do not selfishly kill for personal gain, but selflessly to advance the cause of their group. Yesterday they tricked a couple of mentally disabled women into blowing themselves up and murdering 91 human beings, not for profit but for prophet. (This moonbat doesn't see this latest horror "as a sign of desperation. I see it as a sign of adaptation and a brilliant one at that.")

As Koestler writes, "the historical record confronts us with the paradox that the tragedy of man originates not in an excess of individual self-assertiveness" but in a malfunction of the affiliative, group tendencies of our species. Koestler also had the intuition that this had something to do with an excessive "need to belong" triggered by infantile experience, leading to an unquestioned identification with the group, a suspension of critical thinking about the group's beliefs, and a trance-like submission to a powerful parental substitute.

(You will have noticed that Obama, despite his vacuity, seems to trigger this in his enthusiasts; he is pure Mother, alternatively hypnotic and seductive. Tom Sowell mentioned that he is the youngest candidate with the oldest ideas, but this is because, developmentally, the Mother precedes the Father. Hillary is far more masculine, which is why she has so much more female support. Apparently, women know better than to vote for that pretty but frivolous tart, Obama.)

As Adam Smith knew, individuals may be selfish, but they are also self-interested. This makes them rational, predictable, and comprehensible. On the other hand, no one knows how to deal with the individual who has given over his identity to the group. Such a person does not possess an individual mind, but a group mind which is not critical, rational, or predictable. As such, they may react violently to any kind of threat, not just a physical threat, but any questioning of their worldview. A harmless wimp may be transformed into a beast of depravity by identifying with the powerful group, tribe, clan, party or religion. A Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards, relatively harmless kooks, can become monsters if given great power over others.

Leftists routinely accuse the United States of being the most "selfish" and individualistic nation on the planet. Ironically, this may explain why the United States is, by a wide margin, the greatest force for good the world has ever known.

In contrast, countries that have attempted to dissolve individual identity by promoting a regressive merger with the nation/group (and remember, "nation" is etymologically linked with "nativity," the realm of the mother) have been a source of unqualified evil: Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, communist China, Castro's Cuba, and now Islamofascism. This actually constitutes a large part of the "war on terror": trying, for example, in Iraq, to bring individuation and psychological maturity to a people who have known only infantile merger with the tribe, faith, or "strong man" (who is always a weak man's impersonation of a strong man). The task is made all the more difficult as a result of the approximately fifty percent of Americans who are merged together in an ovary tower of sheliocentric group fantasy.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Primacy of Illusion and the Co-creation Reality (2.02.10)

A fundamental problem for human beings is that unreality, magic and illusion are actually their "default" state, while reality and disillusion are only learned (if they are acquired at all). This is a subtle argument, so please pay attention. It's one of the keys to the Enigma of Man, who is ultimately responsible for imagining all of reality, so that if his imagination is undeveloped or misused, he will fail in his gnocturnal O-mission and miss the whole point of being here in this dream.

Just remember, we are speaking in great generalities, which is always the case in metaphysics, which involves the most general statements one may make about reality. You may even think of what I am about to say as a "modern fable" about our psychic origins, a fruitful myth of psychogenesis.

Because human beings are born in a neurologically immature, completely helpless state, we are steeped in illusion and fantasy while our brain and nervous system are being assembled. Early experience is "hardwired" in, so that the substrate of the human mind is built on the illusion that we are not really helpless and powerless, but that our painful and frightening needs will be magically alleviated through our wishes and desires. No one is as powerful as an infant, since an infant is omnipotent.

For example, we are cold, lonely and hungry. We cry. Suddenly we are swooped up, carressed, comforted, and spoken to in a soothing manner. Nourishment appears out of nowhere, converting painful stomach contractions into pleasant fullness, while at the same time we are bathed in the radiance of a soft, enveloping, benign universe we will eventually know as "mother." But at this point it doesn't have a name. It just is. It is the psychic ground from which the (m)other will gradually emerge.

Given good-enough parenting, we will gradually become “disillusioned” from the idea that we are the center of the universe, that our feelings are urgently important to other people, that life is fair, that it is possible for all our needs to be magically taken care of -- that it is possible for heaven to exist on earth. Under ideal circumstances, we will first have the edenic experience described above, only to be gradually awakened from it in a non-traumatic way, as the reality principle seeps in little by little. A conservative is born!

For a variety of reasons, other children will never experience this blissful paradise, experience it only sporadically and unreliably, or be traumatically banished by the premature impingement of reality. For such individuals, there will always be a painfully nostalgic longing for what they missed, the infantile utopia in which frustration does not exist and desire is instantly converted to satisfaction. A few of these individuals will be lucky enough to obtain lifetime tenure at a major university, but the rest must deal with an unyielding world that does not mirror our unresolved infantile needs.

I think this underlying template of infantile illusion has a lot to do with false beliefs. Not merely false in the sense of “untrue,” because no one can know everything, and it is not possible to get through life without holding some beliefs for which there is no proof or which will later be proven wrong. Plus, healthy fantasy plays a vital role in the ability to imagine and engage with the Real. What I am talking about is not so much false beliefs as what might be called “motivated stupidity.” These are beliefs that are not only untrue, but could not possibly be true, and yet, are embraced just as fervently as any truth. You might call this the realm of "lower vertical fantasy."

In fact, one of the giveaways that we are dealing with motivated stupidity is that the false belief is held onto more fervently than a demonstrably true belief. Someone who thinks something is true is generally more than willing to submit the truth to scrutiny and to allow reality (i.e., the Real, not to be confused merely with the exterior world, the fallacy of scientism) to arbitrate. But when a belief rooted in motivated stupidity is challenged, it raises the psychological hackles of the individual, triggering a cascade of easily observable defense mechanisms: projection, denial, splitting, etc.

I think the problem of motivated stupidity especially afflicts contemporary liberalism. President Bush is not Hitler. He is not, as Cindy Sheehan said, "the biggest terrorist in the world." The war in Iraq is not being waged for the purpose of enriching his "wealthy friends." "Global warming" during the seven years of his administration did not cause hurricaine Katrina (in fact, global temperature has been unchanged since 2001). This has not been the worst economy since Herbert Hoover, another thing that is easily provable, since it is finally undergoing a downturn after what, 24 consecutive quarters of growth? President Bush is not a racist. Unlike liberals, he doesn't hate Condi Rice or Clarence Thomas just because they're black. There are not 200,000 veterans living under bridges that are crumbling on them. Women don't earn "87 cents on the dollar," the middle class isn't shrinking, real income is rising, more jobs are created than lost as a result of global trade, third world poverty is not caused by our wealth, and the environment is getting better, not worse.

True, we are in a crisis, but as always, it is a crisis of stupidity.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, it is much more difficult to do battle with a weak mind than a strong one. You understand their assumptions but they don't understand yours, so you inevitably end up on their level. Plus, weak thinkers embrace their false ideas in a manner disquietingly similar to religious groups who predict the second coming, or the arrival of space ships, or the Cubs winning the World Series, but who do not modify their beliefs when the event fails to come about. In fact, it is a well-known observation that a few of the disappointed may depart from such a group, while the majority only become more thoroughly entrenched in their belief system, defending it all the more stridently. No matter what happens, attendance never dwindles at Wrigley Field.

What this obviously means -- obvious to a Raccoon, anyway -- is that the primary purpose of worldly beliefs is not necessarily to comprehend reality. Rather, belief systems are superimposed on a deeper ground of emotional need for comfort, predictability, and meaning. There is a deep emotional need for the world to make sense, even if the explanation actually makes no sense outside its own closed cognitive circle. This is why people throughout history have believed such nonsense. (This also touches on the critical importance of a revealed belief system, but I won't get into that at the moment.)

What sets humans apart from the animals is not just our ability to know reality, but our even more striking ability to not know it -- to create patently erroneous systems of thought that we then inhabit, and which actually compromise our survival prospects or reduce the quality of life (cf. Sick Societies, by Edgerton). No lion ever entertained the idea that it might be healthier to live on grasses rather than flesh. Penguins don’t decide to live near the equator, where it isn’t so cold. Only human beings can hold ideas that are completely illogical and self-defeating, since only human beings are desperately in need of an ideology, or "mental-emotional environment," to organize the external world and their internal experience, irrespective of whether it is actually functional or true.

In fact, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the majority of beliefs human beings have held about the world down through history have been false, usually ridiculously so. For example, just consider medicine. Until the early 20th century, the average visit to a doctor was likely to leave one in worse shape, not better. But useless or harmful treatments helped people cope with their otherwise intolerable anxiety, and were obviously psychologically preferable to the frightening truth: that no one knew why you were sick or how to cure you.

Even today, the majority of Americans, and certainly all liberals, are economically illiterate, much preferring wishes to indisputable facts and principles. As it pertains to Republicans, it's as if they have a chronic condition, whereas for Democrats it's intellectually fatal. Ron Paul is not wrong about everything.

Last night, while watching parts of the Democratic debate, I wasn't just struck by the vacuity of the combatants, but equally importantly, the low intellectual level of the MSM questioners. In all of these debates, nearly all of the questions come framed in wacky leftist assumptions, as if they are just natural to the human condition instead of a perverse aberration. Why doesn't someone ask, "where in the Constitution does it say that the federal government is permitted to run healthcare?," or "on what grounds do you think it is permissible for the government to steal people's money at gunpoint in order to fund your collectivist fantasies?"

So there is something about human beings that makes them uniquely susceptible to bad ideas. Therefore, it would appear to be axiomatic that there must be something about bad ideas that is paradoxically adaptive. But adaptive to what? Clearly, they are adaptive to internal reality, to the emotional needs and anxieties of the person who holds them. Leftists don't really want Bush to be Hitler. They need him to be. Desperately. As uncomfortable as it is, it is far preferable to being left alone with their own internal infantile anxieties, with nowhere to project them. The internal world is just as real and enduring as the external. Thus, it will be interesting to see what they do with their hate should a Democrat win the White House.

In fact -- and this should go without saying, but it doesn't -- the internal world is ultimately the source of the external world, since, if we remove the human subject, there is no world at all. Unless we deeply understand the nature of this human subject -- both vertically and horizontally -- including its genesis, its purpose, and its pathologies, we will end up not knowing where we came from, why we're here, or how to get where we are supposed to go; in short, our origins, our present being, and our cosmic destiny.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Left-Wing Paranoia Squared

Why is there so much paranoia on the left? Not necessarily because they are inherently paranoid, as in someone with a Paranoid Personality Disorder or Persecutory Delusional Disorder. Rather, paranoia is first and foremost a psychological defense mechanism that arises in infancy, when our psychological boundaries are so fluid and porous, and we are easily able to relieve stress by projecting the bad content of our psyche into the external world. If the mind couldn't do that, it would be a closed system from which we could never escape, for example, by means of truth or love. But it is also possible to affect a faux escape through means of lies and hatred.

Psychological defenses become heightened in times of stress. In fact, that is their primary purpose: to help the psyche cope with stress, pain, and frustration.

Stress results from the mind's need to adapt to change. The past two and a-half decades have been extremely stressful for liberals. Prior to that, they had control over most everything: the presidency, the congress, the judiciary, the media, academia, entertainment, virtually all professional societies, talk radio, ecomomic theory, etc. But gradually they have seen their power erode in all these areas, with no prospect of ever regaining it to the previous extent. Loss of control is profoundly stressful in itself, but what is even more stressful is the alienation that comes from seeing one's internal world no longer reflected in the external world. Just look at how intolerant the left is of a single non-leftist source of TV news, FNC. It drives them crazy.

We all carry an unconscious image of how the world should be, and when the world conforms to that image, we feel at peace. But to live in a world that clashes with that template is extremely jarring, and causes an irruption of anger or depression, depending upon the person. One must either grow and adapt to the real world, or, in the case of so many liberals, regress into paranoia about it.

This is why leftist arguments are always so emotional and persecutory: on the ground floor level of their psyche, they are angry, frightened, and frustrated about the loss of their beautiful group fantasy, and then project those feelings into the right, in a vicious circle. It's the same thing a baby would feel toward its mother if, say, they were abruptly weaned before they were ready... not that the welfare state is like a giant teat or anything. Obviously, it's the same thing Islamists do in response to modernity. You'd be paranoid too if you woke up one day to find your watch running about 700 years slow.

I remember a histrionic speech (is there any other kind?) given a few years back by Al Gore that typifies the mental process we're discussing here, about how President Bush supposedly betrayed our trust! He played on our fears!

On another occasion he bellowed, "I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America’s fabled 'marketplace of ideas' now functions."

Psychologist's translation:

"I trusted daddy and he let me down! I hate him! The more I hate him, the more he frightens me, and the more he frightens me, the more I hate him! He's a big monster! The anxiety I am feeling is a grave danger to my emotional stability. I can't ignore the strangeness of a world that no longer mirrors my deepest infantile needs. I know that I am not the only left-wing paranoiac who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in our fantasy world of liberal utopia, which has been stolen from us by a tyrannical father who wants to keep mommy all to himself and ravage her with his big c-carbon footprint. Together, let's steal mother earth back from the bad father, merge with her, and heal together in blissful union."

****

One of the most important elements of paranoia is how it affects cognition. In other words, it is not just the content of the paranoid mind, but its process, which is troublesome.

That is, the paranoid person engages in a caricature of thought, in which they carefully scan the environment for confirmation of the paranoid thought or idea. This has nothing whatsoever to do with intelligence. For example, Noam Chomsky might well possess a genius IQ, and yet, if you read his works, you can see that he is helpless in the face of his dark paranoia. All of his considerable intelligence is marshalled in the effort to confirm his preordained paranoid beliefs about how sinister America and Israel are, in an absolutely closed loop. In turn, Chomsky becomes the intellectual axis around which other, far less intelligent paranoids of the Daily Kos variety, orient themselves through the magic of his authority.

Every clinician knows that you cannot argue with a paranoid. Doing so immediately raises their paranoid defenses, and they will simply incorporate you into their delusions. Rather, you must lay back, remain non-commital, and almost use a Socratic, "rope-a-dupe" method in dealing with them. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to do this on a national level. In other words, you can do it with an individual, but how do you deal with mass paranoia?

Ironically -- but then again, I suppose not -- even though there is now more information available than ever before, there is also more opportunity than ever before for a paranoid community to enclose itself in a hermetically sealed cognitive loop that prevents contact with reality. Therefore, increased freedom of speech can just as easily lead to a contraction of one's psycho-spiritual worldspace. How can this be?

The philosopher Michael Polanyi drew a sharp distinction between what he called a "free society" and an "open society," using the practice of science to illustrate his point. A truly free society doesn't merely consist of everyone believing whatever they want. Science, for example, is a free and spontaneous intellectual order that is nevertheless based on a distinctive set of beliefs about the world, through which the diverse actions of individual scientists are coordinated. Like the cells in your body, individual scientists independently go about their business, and yet, progress is made because their activities are channelled by the pursuit of real truth.

In contrast, in a merely "open" society, there is no such thing as transcendent truth: perception is reality, and everyone is free to think and do as he pleases, with no objective standard by which to to judge it. This kind of "bad freedom" eventually ramifies into the cognitively pathological situation we now see on the left, especially as it manifests in its pure form in academia (the liberal arts, not the sciences). This is one reason it mystifies me that George Soros could think himself an acolyte of Polanyi, since their beliefs are 180 degrees apart (appropriately enough, Soros' fascistic political foundation is called "The Open Society Institute").

The deep structure of the left-right divide in this country goes well beyond secular vs. religious worldviews. A purely secular society is an open society, where all points of view, no matter how stupid or dysfunctional, are equally valued (eg, multi-culturalism and moral relativism), whereas a truly free society must be anchored in what is permanent and transcendent. It doesn't necessarily have to come from religion, although it inevitably leads in that direction.

Mainly, in order to truly be free, one must acknowledge a source of truth that is independent of man, an antecedent reality that is perceived by the intellect, not the senses. Miraculously, our founders knew that the self-evident truths which constrain us actually set us free. In contrast, left-wing ACLU types think that mere freedom sets us free, which is preposterous. This is to confuse being lost with being free.

In the real world (i.e., the archetypal vertical world), responsibilities are antecedent to rights, for a right has no meaning in the absence of its virtuous end, just as intelligence has no purpose in the absence of truth. Thus, the most proudmouthed advocates of "intellectual freedom" unwittingly argue for intellectual tyranny, or mandatory error.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Homo Psychosis, the Cult of Sacrifice, and the PC Virus

I was going to add some second thoughts on my second post, but I think I'll just let it stand, with some light editing.

*****

If one is going to engage in comparative religion, one needs to exit history and take a martian's-eye view of the situation. From that trans-historical viewpoint, the Judeo-Christian tradition emerges not as religion, but the cure for religion. Allow me to explain.

The default religion of human beings is the practice of human sacrifice (cf. here and here). This is a pathological virus planted deep in the heart of the human species, which has been given insufficient attention by both theologians and morally relative anthro-apologists. Virtually all primitive cultures and ancient civilizations engaged in it. For reasons I try to explain in my book, there is something spontaneously "holy" or "sacred" in the taking of innocent human life.

For example, Aztec religion centered around the sacrifice of thousands of innocent human beings a year. As such, it was the disease it sought to cure. Again, taking the martian's-eye view, humans are a sick and troubled species. They especially need a cure for their priomordial religion.

Obviously, the foundation stone of the whole Judeo-Christian tradition -- where it all begins in the timeless archetypal realm -- is the injunction against human sacrifice, when God tells Abraham not to kill him a son out on Highway 61. Superficially, Christianity may be seen as a resuscitation of the sacrificial motif, with the murder of the innocent Jesus, but in reality, this is clearly intended to convey the idea that when we murder innocence, we murder God. The crucifixion of Jesus is meant to be the last human sacrifice, in such a way that our murderous impulses are sublimated. (Bailie's Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads extends the idea of Jesus as universal scapegoat for our sacrificial violence.)

Unfortunately, Islam seems to involve an explicit reversion to the sacrificial motif, and a return to "mere" religion. If one reads the Koran, one is struck by how frequently Allah instructs his followers to murder in his name. While Christians have obviously behaved badly in the past, there is nothing in the actual Christian message that justifies it. As such, the Biblical text is ultimately "self-correcting." Not necessarily so with the Koran. There is nothing in the Koran that categorically forbids the Islamists to do what they do, and much that encourages it. Far from engaging in some kind of religious aberration, the Islamists are not just following the letter of their law, but the spirit of human "religiosity" in general.

Political correctness is a specifically western perversion of Christianity, since Christianity is the religion that elevates the ultimate victim to the status of Godhood: in the bi-logic of the symmetrical unconscious, God is the innocent victim and the innocent victim is therefore God. (Importantly, I am not speaking here theologically and consciously, but anthropologically and unconsciously; because of the influence of Christianity, people in the West develop different unconscious assumptions about mankind, even if they are not explicitly religious.)

Therefore, improperly understood, this Christian cognitive template puts in place a sort of cultural "race to the bottom" in competition for who is more oppressed, and therefore, more godlike. One can see how Jesus' truly radical message that "the meek shall inherit the earth" can be perverted to mean "the victim shall be all-powerful." The demagogic John Edwards campaign was almost entirely based on this perversion.

Once you understand this dynamic, you see it everywhere. What we call the "news" is almost entirely shaped by this unconscious template. For example, the Democrat presidential race is pitting one liberal victim group against another, with bizarre but predictable consequences, e.g., the gynecidal Ted Kennedy has "victimized" women by endorsing the black candidate, who is probably not really a victim anyway, since his father was Kenyan, even though all Africans are by definition victims; four years ago the press tried to paint John Kerry as a victim of the noble men he victimized with his grotesque anti-American rhetoric; and so on. You can also see that the sub-prime mortgage "crisis" is mostly a crisis if you believe that it is the government's job to rescue victims who are victimized by their own bad economic judgment (Tom Sowell touches on this today).

People who actually practice Christianity don't generally have this confusion. Rather, it is only secular types who are nevertheless parasitic on the deep structure of a specifically Christian phenomenology.

Once victim status is secured, then any behavior is excused and sanctioned. This is how, say, the Palestinians (and the left in general), always "get away" with such bad behavior. For once you are the victim, you are virtually omnipotent and can do anything with impunity. Like OJ, you can murder someone, but if you can manage to depict yourself as the victim, you are innocent. A victim is always a bully, and the unscrupulous person seizes victim status in order to mask his aggressive bullying, spuriously converting sadism into righteousness, e.g., Jimmy Carter, Al Sharpton, et al.

One of the problems with political correctness is that it is not just a weakness of thought, but a defense against thought. In other words, "dangerous" thoughts that threaten to undermine the PC world view are pre-emptively attacked.

Ironically, it is much more difficult to wrestle with weak ideas and thinkers than strong ones. This is because different minds reflect different levels of cognitive development, and while someone at a higher level possesses all of the capacities of the lower, those on a lower level literally have no point of contact with the higher. In the Darwinian sense, ideologies compete for minds, so leftism has a huge advantage, given the weakness and flabbiness of most minds.

For example, it is easy to disprove to a logical thinker that the sun does not revolve around the earth, much more difficult to prove to a primitive thinker that the earth doesn't rest on the back of a giant turtle. Likewise, it is easy to prove to a logical thinker that men and women have intrinsic differences, that hurricaines have nothing to do with man-made global warming, or that most poverty and criminality are caused by bad values, but impossible to prove these things to a PC mind. (This new book by Sowell, Economic Facts and Fallacies, absolutely demolishes every irrational liberal cliche about the economy.)

In fact, not only does the PC/primitive mind not understand your arguments, but they convert and distort what you are saying into something that reflects their own childish level, and then project it back into you. Therefore: you don't care about the environment, you just want to enrich corporations; you don't care about actual economic principles, you just want tax cuts for the wealthy; you are only against affirmative action because you hate blacks; you are for privatization of social security because you just want to enrich giant mutual fund companies; you want America to prevail in Iraq because you are an imperialist racist; etc., etc., etc. Pure projection to which it is practically impossible to respond in an effective way, any more than you can convince a three year-old that the moon doesn't follow them when they walk. You just have to wait until they grow up.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rewordgitating Thoughts & Other Refluxions

My very first post, with bonus material.

I think I mentioned awhile back that Bion published a book in 1967 called Second Thoughts. The first half of the book was a collection of his early papers from the 1950s, while the second half of the book was his commentary on them from a completely new vantage point, based upon his revolutionary metapsychological advances in the 1960s. Thus, there is a double or triple meaning in the title, e.g., second thoughts, or reservations, about his early thinking, which Bion, in typical fashion, used as an occasion to dwell on the nature of thought in general.

That is, presumably Bion's "second thoughts" would eventually require third thoughts, fourth thoughts, and so on, as he changed in relation to them. For example, of one of his early papers, he writes, "I am not unappreciative of the account; I think if it were some other psychoanalyst's report I would think it quite good. But as it is, I do not recognize the patient or myself." In fact, this is how real thought develops, which is to say, in dynamic rapport with an evolving thinker. The trick is to realize that this doesn't make truth relative, because it is "guided," so to speak, by an absolute of which it can never be more than an approximation.

Another unappreciated problem is that of too rapid understanding, which is no understanding at all. As Bion writes, it is possible for a patient to see the meaning of something so quickly "that the psychoanalyst is surprised to find a moment later that the patient has apparently no understanding of what has been said to him. The speed of his thoughts makes him able to closure the statement being discussed before he has had time to understand it."

As an aside, this is no doubt why Jesus spoke mainly in parables, so as to prevent such rapid nonderstanding. As another aside, this is very much a central problem in theology, for there is no rapid understanding of God. Or, to put it another way, it is possible today to take a helicopter to the top of Mount Everest. But is that the same as having climbed it? Let's just say that if you take communion, don't forget to chew, or you'll never be swallowed by God.

Oh yes. I was extremely moved by some of the comments yesterday, more than I can express at the moment. Some of you bastards actually succeeded in choking me up. I can't tell you how much it means to me that I've had an impact on you. It's as if reaching a deep part of you simultaneously reaches a deep part of me, and the one isn't possible without the other.

*****

Q: We don't need another blog. Why are you inflicting your beastly opinions on us?

A: To those of you who are new to this site, join the club, as I am still in the process of trying to understand the author's intentions. For surely, there are already far too many books and blogs, with no way any human being could ever assimilate the information contained therein. Actually, the problem we face is how to relate all of this fragmented and sometimes contradictory knowledge into a coherent picture of our world -- to move from mere facts, to knowledge, to understanding, and to wisdom.

I am a clinical psychologist with a background in psychoanalysis, and, like Shrinkwrapped, Dr. Sanity, and other Uncle Fromms, will attempt to "put the world on the couch," so to speak. If you can detach yourself somewhat and try to "hover" above it, the news of the day may be regarded as the free associations of a very troubled patient called Homo sapiens, a self-flattering designation meaning "wise ape." This patient, now about 40,000 years old (before that we were genetically Homo sapiens but not particularly human), has many sub-personalities of varying levels of emotional maturity, and one of his problems is that these different aspects of his personality are constantly at war with one another, which tends to drag down the more mature parts.

You could almost go so far as to say that this collective patient suffers from the kind of severe splitting and "acting out" characteristic of Multiple Personality Disorder. One of my axioms is that geographical space reflects developmental time, so that different nations and countries embody different levels of psychological maturity. In this regard, the Islamic world bottoms out the scale at the moment.

More broadly, what I hope to bring to the inner table is an appreciation of the "vertical" dimension of human history, culture and politics. For example, historians typically view history in a horizontal manner, leading from past, to present, to future. Likewise, we divide our political mindscape in a horizontal fashion, from left to right. However, as in a great novel or film, the "horizontal" plot is merely a device to express the artist's greater intention (the theme), which can only be found in a vertical realm, by standing "above" the plot.

Every patient who comes into therapy is the star of a motion picture that isn't going quite right. They will spend the first few sessions telling you the plot, but soon the therapist will be aware of a vertical dimension where the true but unKnown "author" of the plot lies (or, to be precise, truths). This is called the unconscious. However, this is just one realm of the vertical. Spirituality is also located on the vertical plane, both very low (as in jihad or human sacrifice) and high (such as genuine mysticism).

Q: Why "One Cosmos?"

A: The title of the blog is taken from my book, One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit. You might say that the book tries to follow the vertical thread that runs through the entire cosmos, ultimately uniting us with our source. That thread runs through physics, biology, psychology, religion, history, anthropology, art, and much more, and yet, it is somehow all One.

Perhaps the central theme of both book and blog is that the frontiers of knowledge and understanding lay not in the further extension of various fields and subspecialties, but in the borderland between them. Around 40,000 years ago, our patient, Homo sapiens, began splintering into its diverse groups, but underneath all of the bewildering diversity is a vertical unity that this blog will attempt to illuminate in various ways. For the key to growth is understanding ourselves, both individually and collectively. Without it, we remain a child forever.

Q: It seems like you find a way to flog your book in every post.

That's not a question. However, you have a point. Mainly it's because I purchased 100 copies of my book from my publisher, and I would like to get rid of them. After that I'll tone it down. (Note: those books are now gone.)

Having said that, it would be a shame if the book disappeared into obscurity without reaching its intended audience. There is a certain type of person out there --somewhat difficult to describe, but you know who you are--for whom my book will be just the thing. (Note: there is now a name for these people Raccoons.)

Q: Who are you, anyway?

A: "Clinical psychologist Robert Godwin is an extreme seeker and off-road spiritual aspirant who has spent no less than one lifetime in search of the damn key to the world enigma. A high school graduate at just seventeen and a-half, Dr. Godwin attended business school until the vagaries of academic probation and expulsion led him to pursue other missed opportunities. Capitalizing on a natural ability to simultaneously enjoy movies and lower his expectations, Godwin eventually earned a film degree in just four terms (Ford/Carter and parts of Nixon/Reagan. Initially denied admission to graduate school on grounds of "inadequate" academic preparation (their words), Holy Happenstance intervened in the nick of time, and Dr. Godwin went on to obtain two advanced degrees in psychology without allowing it to interfere with his education or with ongoing spiritual research conducted in his suburban liberatoreum. Lengthy periods there of higher bewilderment and intense non-doing resulted in important advances in egobliteration and karmannihilation. At the same time, Dr. Godwin spent many years searching and researching for his book, only to conclude that it did not exist, and that if he wanted to read it, he would have to write it. Having now read it a number of times, he is happy to share that burden with a wider audience of fertile eggheads interested in peering behind the annoying veil that separates them from ultimate reality."

Q: Who's Petey?

A: Petey is my discarnate collaborator, or "household gnome," as he calls himself. He is somewhat obnoxious and unreliable, but he often provides me with ideas to write about. He'll generally just throw something out -- a cryptic or possibly craptic word or phrase -- and leave to me to elaborate.

Q: Why the spiritual mumbo-jumbo?

I don't think it's healthy to orient your life around politics 24/7, as does the secular left, for which politics is their substitute religion. Politics must aim at something that isn't politics, otherwise, what's the point? Politics just becomes a cognitive system to articulate your existential unhappiness. Again, this is what leftists do -- everything for them is politicized.

One of the general purposes of this blog is to try to look at politics in a new way -- to place the day-to-day struggle of politics in a much wider historical, evolutionary, and even cosmic context. History is trying to get somewhere, and it is our job to help it get there. However, that "somewhere" does not lie within the horizontal field of politics, but beyond it. Thus, politics must not only be grounded in something that isn't politics, but aim at something that isn't politics either.

This is not an abstract, impractical or esoteric notion. The ultimate purpose of politics should be to preserve the radical spiritual revolution of the American founders, so that humans may evolve inwardly and upwardly -- not toward a manifest destiny but an unmanifest deustiny.

For example, when we say that politics must be grounded in something that isn't politics, we are simply reflecting the philosophy at the heart of the American revolution, that the sacred rights of mankind, as expressed by Alexander Hamilton, are written in human nature "by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased by mortal power." In short, human beings possess a "spiritual blueprint" that is antecedent to politics, and which it is the task of politics to protect, preserve and nurture.

But not for its own sake. The founders, who were steeped in Judeo-Christian metaphysics, did not believe in mere license, which comes down to meaningless freedom on the horizontal plane. Rather, they believed that horizontal history had a beginning and was guided by a purpose, and that only through the unfolding of human liberty could that "vertical" purpose be achieved. Our founders were progressive to the core, but unlike our contemporary reactionary and anti-evolutionary leftists, they measured progress in relation to permanent standards that lay outside time -- metaphorically speaking, an eschatological "Kingdom of God," or "city on a hill," drawing us toward it. Without this nonlocal telos, the cosmos can really have no frontiers, only edges. Perhaps this is why the left confuses truth with "edginess."

Liberty -- understood in its spiritual sense -- was the key idea of the founders. This cannot be overemphasized. According to Michael Novak, liberty was understood as the "axis of the universe," and history as "the drama of human liberty." Thomas Jefferson wrote that "the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time." It was for this reason that Jefferson chose for the design of the seal of the United States Moses leading the children of Israel out of the death-cult of Egypt, out of the horizontal wasteland of spiritual bondage, into the open circle of a higher life. America was quite consciously conceived as an opportunity to "re-launch" mankind after such an initial 100,000 years or so of disappointment, underachievement, and spiritual stagnation.

Although it may sound slightly heretical, without human liberty, the Creator is helpless to act in the horizontal. This does not diminish the Creator but exalts him, for a moment's reflection reveals that an intimation of our spiritual freedom absolutely belies any mere material explanation found within the horizontal confines of history. For ours is an inwardly mobile cosmos, and as the philosopher of science Stanley Jaki writes, our free will brings us "face to face with that realm of metaphysical reality which hangs in midair unless suspended [vertically] from that Ultimate Reality, best called God, the Creator."

Tip O’Neill is evidently responsible for the cliché that “All politics is local.” The greater truth is that all politics is nonlocal, meaning that outward political organization rests on a more fundamental, “inner” ground that interacts with a hierarchy of perennial and timeless values. Arguments about the surface structure of mundane political organization really have to do with whose nonlocal values will prevail, and the local system that will be established in order to achieve those nonlocal values.

Q: Who is Gagdad Bob?

"Gagdad Bob" is the name I began using over at LGF. I became an avid fan of LGF very early on, and initially posted under the name "Bob G" in the primeval days before Charles even required registration. At first Bob G. tried offering intelligent comments, sometimes expressing anger at the latest MSM-Lefist-Islamic outrage, but after awhile he began trying to lighten things by offering humorous little one-liners, many of which are actually thought up by Petey. (Some of the perceived "Islamophobia" is actually Petey's editorializing.)

Gagdad Bob tries to challenge himself to see humor in the most dire or disgusting news of the day. He has adopted the philosophy that we should spend less time being frightened of Islamists and more time mocking and ridiculing them -- "joking them out of their holes," so to speak.

Monday, January 28, 2008

One Cosmos Under Construction

No post today, and possibly for the foreseeable future. I don't want to speculate about if or why I'm stopping, because I'd rather wait and find out for myself. It's not really my decision to make, anyway. I didn't ask to be a blogger, nor did I ask to stop. In both cases, I'm just going with the flow, or lack thereof.

I'll probably go back to the beginning and repost things that strike me as postworthy, which will undoubtedly be boring for long-time readers (however, this will give me a chance to edit them for the first time). As such, feel free to just use them as open threads to keep in touch with one another. I'll also continue to put my current reading in the sidebar, in case anyone's interested.

One thing I'd like to do is finally sort through the Gnowa's Arkive -- which now amounts to well over 800 posts -- and reduce it to some kind of order. If I don't do it soon, it will just get too unwieldy to ever do it. Plus, I have a limited amount of free time, and I'd like to use it to work on another project that is bubbling under or over the surface. Let's just call it Project GODISNOWHERE.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Combatting Spiritual Gravity with Deep Levitas

Modernity's quantitative and idealistic conception of liberty implies by definition freedom for evil, hence also freedom to abolish all liberty. --Frithjof Schuon

One major difference between left and right, or illiberal leftists and conservative liberals, is that for the former, liberty is wholly abstract and quantitative because horizontal, whereas for the latter, it is concrete and realistic because vertical.

In fact, now that I am about to cease thinking about the subject and begin contemplating it, this might be the defining difference between the two ontologies, and the type of people they help engender (or ungender, in the case of the leftist castrati). It cannot be overemphasized that the two systems result in two very different kinds of human beings. Or, you could say that one system results in the possibility of human beings, while the other results in something even worse.

I say "ontology" rather than philosophy, because in my opinion the differences go deeper than mere thought, or (k). Rather, the differences are very much rooted in being, hence the passions generated by the "culture war." Really, it's a question of being vs. non-being -- "to be or not to be" -- since, in the absence of vertical liberty, one can only pretend to be. That is, one can only exist in arbitrarily different ways -- "lifestyles" instead of living in proper human style. Leftism is not a race, except to the bottom.

Thus, if you're not following me, and I don't blame you if you are, the primordial "pre-political" divide would be between essence and existence; or being and nothingness; or the trees of Life and Death; or, to put it in the most polyunsaturated way possible, between O and ø, which, in the human microcosm, comes down to (¶) vs. (•). I don't want to dumb it down too much, but you can also think of it as sane vs. tenured.

Perhaps because most people are an unconscious blend -- i.e., they simply fit themselves into whatever the environment -- they don't notice the vast difference, or perhaps they are upset by all the "angry polarization." But in this regard, it must be said that so-called moderates are generally just retarded or limping liberals, since they are simply "adapted to change" as opposed to anything real and stable, i.e., transcendent. Thus, as man falls, these chameleons fall along for the ride inside the time crapsule, and therefore conflate "average" with "normal."

Another way of saying it is that any person or institution that is not explicitly conservative will inevitably dissipate and drift toward liberalism, in keeping with man's corrupted nature + the law of cosmic gravity, or 2 + 2 = forewarned. This is why one searches in vain for any left-wing levity. These O-holes can neither elevate nor laugh at themselves, which is why it is so important for us to laugh at them twice as hard for their spiritual benefit. My laughty relevations are intended to be a guffaw-ha experience, a wake-up call for the benefit of the alarming clucks among us.

As someone at the razzer's edge once said, "My jokes are easy, my words enlight." I don't mean to be some kind of hoppy jester bunny on the one hand, or reptiblican punster from the black lampoon on the other, but I'm only pulling the leg you don't have to stand on, hoping you'll trip and then gag on your own absurdity. Yes, you might need a hipness replacement for your groove disability, but If you could only laugh at the wisecrack in the cosmic egg, your sunny side wouldn't be so scrambled. When I post and riposte about these matters, it's a ridicure for what ails you.

Even some of my supporters accuse me of religious sincretism, but I'm jest praying the field in order to reach the widest potential Odience. We're not all bozos on this bus, and that's the problem. If I can be a comicalzee riding a farcical made of clues, perhaps I can blow open a big enough whole that you can catch a glimpse of your facetiousness before you were born. In mother words, for you feminists out there, I just want to tickle the rib of which you're maid mary, so you too can give birth to a lila wordplay of your own.

Okay, back to the mano-a-manologue, or hand to hand combat without hands or jokeholds.

A liberty that is wholly quantitative is ultimately absurd, since it not only can have no purpose, but it cannot even justify its own existence. In this regard, leftist political philosophy must be tautologous and taught to all of us in a totolerantarian way. Since it bears on nothing outside its own closed circle of jerks and smirking clerks, it is a cirque d' so-lame that it tries to root liberty in the demands of the collective, which is self-refuting in principle and self-defeating in practice.

In turn, this is why there is in fact an inverse relationship between leftism and freedom. Any institution taken over by the left results in the the diminution of freedom on the basis of the demands of the group. The travails of Ezra Levant before the Canagaroodian Court of Subhuman Rights is a vivid example, but one could cite countless other pouches of liberal tyranny. This morning reader Steve sent me this fine example.

But conservatism is always a tough sell, since it it relatively "empty" of content on this plane. In other words, it is very difficult to get elected by promising to do nothing, which is in most spheres the most important job of the government. As Schuon writes, "We often hear it said that criticism is 'sterile' because it does not involve any 'constructive' proposals; this is like saying that because one is not able to show someone the proper path one has no right to tell him he is walking toward a precipice..."

Perhaps this is why conservatism accomplished more in the 1990s as an opposition party than it did in the 2000s as the majority party. When in the opposition, conservatives are more in a position to stop or slow down liberals, whereas when in the majority, they end up imitating liberals. One wishes it weren't so, but if wishes were hearses, we'd all ride around like spiritually dead liberals.

I give up. This post was written under great duress, trying to type and watch a 2 3/4 year-old in the same timelessness. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking it to you. Probably no posts this weekend either, but we'll see, for "the windbag bloweth when he will."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Political Truth and the Cosmic Errors of Liberalism (1.10.11)

I believe contemporary liberalism (i.e., leftism) is not just historically, accidentally, or "merely" in error, but intrsinsically, cosmically, and "principially" (if there is such a word) so. It is wrong not in this or that elaboration of its principles and policies, but in its very substance. As such, it's like trying to use defective bricks to erect a building, or magical thinking as the basis of science.

I hope it goes without saying that contemporary "Republicanism" is hardly the opposite of leftism. Rather, it's more like an obstacle, or bump in the road to socialism. More often than not it's just the crooked officer who wants his piece of the pie and can be appeased with bribes. Although more people call themselves conservative than liberal, there are in fact more "principled" liberals than principled conservatives.

Schuon is never explicitly political, but he frequently slips in a page-stopping observation that is pregnant with political implications. It would be strictly impossible to be a student of his and also be a leftist, just as it would be impossible for any seriously religious person to be a leftist. Not that there aren't religious leftists. It's just that their values are deeply at odds with the "perennial religion," and when push comes to shove, it is clear that they derive their values from politics, not religion; or, if from religion, they deeply misunderstand its esoteric and often even plain meaning. Rather, they simply use religion as a vehicle to advance their political agenda, an agenda that is rooted in ungoverned feeling. Everyone knows this, which is why the Democrat candidates are so awkward and unnatural when they talk about religion.

Edwards is a case in point. From where did he derive his mandate to end poverty -- as if such a thing could be possible, given the constants of human nature? He never explains how the sudden conversion to this mission came about. If it's just his ideology, that's one thing, i.e., the usual Marxist politics of envy, resentment, victimhood, entitlement, and theft. But if it is a "religious" impulse, he needs to explain his reasoning, and how and why it is permissible to force his religious beliefs on the rest of us, for it is hardly self-evident that "charity begins with government coercion."

To the contrary, there is reason to believe that charity ends with government coercion, for it places man either at odds with the collective or helplessly dependent upon it -- a helplessness that will be encouraged as "normative" once the system is in place and human nature, i.e., "gravity," takes care of the rest. Furthermore, this kind of socialist "charity" easily goes "hand in hand with complacency, which annuls its spiritual quality" (Schuon). Socialism never cures human selfishness but breeds it.

A spiritual virtue -- let us say charity -- is "nothing other than consciousness of a reality," in this case, the reality that all men are created equal and that our neighbor is equally precious "in the eyes of the lord." This is fundamentally a consciousness, not merely a "sentiment." If only the latter, then it is likely to be perverted by various forms of "intelligent stupidity," discussed in the last couple of posts.

Thus, "when virtue is purely sentimental, in the sense of being ignorant of the reality to which it relates, it may have a relative utility, but it is nonetheless a spiritual obstacle and source of errors" (emphasis mine). Again, true charity is rooted in consciousness of a reality. It is the very opposite of, say, self-created victims exploiting our sentiments to perpetuate their victimhood and therefore legitimize the presence of their hand in our pocket.

Metaphysical truths, in order to be effective, must become operative in the will. Thus, to transfer responsibility for a dimly perceived spiritual truth to the collective is to render it inoperative, since it relieves man of having to be personally conscious of the principle. But demagogues and narrow-minded moralists don't like to be reminded if this complexity, as they imagine that their "straightforwardness" absolves themselves "of the need for reflection."

For example, a John Edwards or Dennis Kucinich flatters himself by thinking he "speaks truth to power," when he actually speaks seductive lies to the powerless in order to keep them that way (and to keep voting Democrat). After all, it isn't as if the simple behavioral principles for avoiding poverty aren't well understood. But since they require the cultivation of certain timeless virtues -- and don't allow the sentimental liberal to feel good about himself -- the liberal isn't interested.

Is there a single leftist who understands the following principle?: "Too great an indulgence toward others is often caused not by an innate weakness of character but by an actual inability to conceive the frailty of men and the malice of the devil." And the reason they can't conceive of the frailty of men is that it would require too much painful self-examination.

One immediately thinks of the Hollywood left, who presumably project their deep character flaws into those they presume to rescue, which then absolves them of the need to root out their own frailties and rise above themselves. But "to take fallen man as the human norm is to end up idealizing not man but the human animal, the thinking beast." This is why no one is more anti-human than a humanist, for they undermine man's sufficient reason for being, not to mention his rootedness in the transcendent.

A Bill Clinton embodies the "qualities" of earthly intelligence and oily charm; or cunning and seduction; or calculation and hypnosis. As Harvey Mansfeld wrote, he is "the envy of vulgar men," and deservedly so. But as Schuon explains, "cunning" is no more a normal mode of intelligence than paranoia is a normal mode of perception. The latter is not perception but apperception, i.e., the systematic confirmation of one's malevolent suspicions. Keith Olbermann has to be the current poster boy for this dark side of human "knowing"; he is as brutally charmless as Clinton is "charming" to the willfully naive.

Suspicion becomes "illegitimate as soon as it becomes a tendency and a kind of principle, for then it engenders a sickness of the soul that is incompatible with virtue and hence sanctity." "Bush Derangement Syndrome" reflects this principle "gone wild," and we can see the dreadful consequences for the soul drowning in its dark waters. Rational thought becomes impossible, since it it organized by hate, not love. It is similar to moralism, which sunders beauty from truth. In fairness, one also sees this latter problem in certain annoying precincts of the religious right. Morality should never be made to look "disproportionate" by detaching it from truth and beauty. Moralistic virtues merely imitate their archetype, and can in turn become "a form of idolatry" (Schuon).

Here is another principle to which liberals are oblivious: "Rights that are defensive for an isolated individual become aggressive for a collectivity." The latter situation arises from envy and entitlement, not any virtue. As Schuon explains, "There is no legitimate connection between humility and a mere leveling down, for such a leveling is a form of pride since it denies the natural hierarchy of values and men; by this negation it is also opposed to dignity. Humility -- or simplicity -- is never a synonym for egalitarian mediocrity or weakness." Racial quotas based upon group identity are an affront to cosmic reality.

But "To take a collectivity as such as an intellectual norm means the progressive strangulation of intelligence." It means ignoring the reality of man's fallenness, however you wish to conceive it. It amounts to saying that man has "unlimited rights," but no responsibilities. "The consequences of such an attitude are evident: it opens the door to all the vices of human nature and unleashes the downward force of its fall; this is enough to prove it false."

Sorry I have to end abruptly.... no time to edit or spell check.

All the Schuon quotes taken from Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts

BTW, I hope you've all seen these videos of someone being dragged before the leftist inquisition. I think I have a man-crush....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Erotic Tales of Metaphysical Ignorance and Tenure

The cult of intelligence and mental passion distances man from truth: intelligence narrows as soon as man puts his trust in it alone; mental passion chases away intellectual intuition just as the wind blows out the light of a candle. --Frithjof Schuon

In today's post we shall continue circumnavelgazing human intelligence and try to discover why it poses such a problem in the wrong heads. Obviously Man is intelligent. That's the problem. In fact, almost all his troubles are caused by his intelligence, through which he believes so many amazing things that can't be so. More often than not, the greater the intelligence, the more catastrophic the error, which is why it has been remarked that philosophy is "error on a grandiose scale."

There are many reasons man is in need of salvation, but because of the contemporary under-appreciation of gnosis, few people understand that they are especially in need of intellectual salvation in order to prevent their minds from "rotting in hell," so to speak. (I don't care if you understand all of this metaphorically, so long as you understand it.) There is a reason why so much foolishness comes from the secular left in general and liberal academia in particular. It's not an accident or coincidence, but absolutely "in the nature of things." We all fall, but only the secular left sanctifies the fall and renames it "tenure," for their left brains don't know who their right brains are screwing.

Taylor goes into great detail about how all of the impulses that eventually lead to the despiritualized secular world were rooted in religion. Only later did they become detached from spirit, at which time a new, self-flattering narrative was invented, depicting intellectual liberation as a revolt against spirit instead of its extension and elaboration.

Now we have a situation in which things like science and democracy have been severed from their metaphysical roots -- as if they just "happened," or were developed by people who rejected religion. This is the secular fairy tale we are asked to believe. But all religions have founding myths, and secularism is no different. Atheism is at odds with the humility necessary to receive Truth, and always -- either implicitly or explicitly but always obnoxiously -- "takes itself for a form of moral heroism" (Schuon).

Schuon writes that "modern man collects keys without knowing how to open a door." In contrast to this, a generative metaphysical doctrine "is the mental incarnation of of a universal truth."

Thus, what makes most modern thought so fruitless is that it is detached from its proper object, which results in a kind of sterile cognitive narcissism -- just "brains rubbing together." Since it adam & evesdrops only on the plane of middling relativities, it can only proceed in an absurcular manner, and can never even account for its own fallen activity. In other words, it "seeks the culminating point of the cognitive process on its own level," which, intellectually, is a little like marrying your sister. When that happens, don't be surprised if your offspring are a little off.

This is the difference between the intellection of a fertile egghead vs. the mere intellectualism of academic wacktivists. Most of the people we misleadingly call "intellectuals" fall and fall into the latter category of mental inbreds. They incubate thoughts and ideas to succubi, which are ultimately by the dead and for the tenured (and vice versa).

I suppose one has to have spent 20 years or so in the looniversity bin, as I did, to appreciate the full ghastly picture, but to be granted tenure is to be given access to the wider intellectual jerk circle of mutual master-, bachelor-, and doctorbation. It's really just a form of pornography, and like its sexual cousin, is so boring because no one's ever naked. And in case you don't know what I mean, when I say "no one's naked," I mean that it's full of jaded cynicism, joyless irony, and other posemoderns that are the consolution prizes for its spiritual vacuity and lack of intercourse with the Real.

(I don't want to get sidetracked again, but perhaps I should review my understanding of pornography, as the sexual kind must be just a symbolic sub-category of a wider phenomenon [as I explained in previous posts here and here]. In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce's alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, discusses the criteria for great art. He says it is the task of the true artist to record "epiphanies," that is, the sudden ingression of spirit into matter, when something leaps through its outer appearance and reveals its true nature in a way that illuminates the soul.

Didactic art is the opposite of this -- in fact, it is not art at all. That is, it lowjacks the medium of an art form and tries to cram some merely worldly message into it. In other words, instead of transmitting radiance from another dimension -- from the higher -- it forces in a message or "lesson" from the lower, from this side of manifestation. This is why nazi or communist or leftist art is so tedious. It is also why so much contemporary art is so awful. It's not really art, but what Joyce called pornography.

Pornography has nothing to do with sex per se; from the Greek, it means "writing of whores," which pretty much summarizes my point. It occurs whenever we completely despiritualize anything and divest it of its otherworldly radiance and spiritual telos. Therefore, there is much that is pornographic that is not sexual at all. By this definition, most contemporary music is indeed pornographic, as is most TV, certainly MSM news. Most literature is pornographic. Even religion can easily be pornographic. And certainly most politics.)

Yesterday, what smelled like a probable denizen of academia left a comment to the effect that this blog and its "true believers" are just plain stupid, proving once again that the wisdom of this world is folly to Godwin. I didn't argue with him, because I know exactly what he means, even if he doesn't.

That is to say, as Schuon points out, a metaphysical truth can never be exhausted on the mental level, as this would be absurd, for the same reason that a three-dimensional sphere contains an infinite number of two-dimensional circles, none of which are "wrong" on their own level, but nevertheless can never be equivalent to the sphere if added together. This is why it is so easy for the Intelligent Stupid to argue that one circle looks different from another circle, therefore the sphere doesn't exist.

In turn, this proves the adage that "when one denies the supernatural it is unwise to hold forth on matters that have no meaning without it" (Schuon). Such critics apply a kind of deranged but impeccable logic "to things that a priori elude them." To paraphrase Schuon, what such a person calls "objectivity" is simply an honest confession of their genuine inability to distinguish truth from error, and then congratulate themselves with the title "objective." You will notice that liberal MSM boneheads do this habitually. They really don't see their bias. Yes, they're that stupid.

The whole point is that a traditional doctrinal formulation is a symbolic emanation of O, so to speak, which "realizes a mental form capable of communicating a ray of [infinite] Truth to one who is intellectually fit to receive it." Thus, it is not we who embrace truth; rather, it is Truth which deigns, or coondescends, to embrace and "become" us.

Everything revolves around truth and the will; the one must penetrate the other. Truth illumines the will, which, when illumined, vivifies the truth.... Intelligence is nothing without truth, and without virtue it is unable to contain truth in a really adequate and absolutely stable way. --Schuon, Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts

Think outside the postmodern box:

And don't be like the drunk who looks for his keys under the street lamp because that's where the light is: