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.