Friday, March 07, 2008

Secular Fundamentalists and Other Simple People of Faith (3.09.12)

[R]eligion translates metaphysical or universal truths into dogmatic language. Now, though dogma is not accessible to all men in its intrinsic truth, which can only be directly attained by the Intellect, it is none the less accessible through faith.... [I]ntellectual knowledge... proceeds neither from belief nor from a process of reasoning, [but] goes beyond dogma in the sense that, without ever contradicting the latter, penetrates its "internal dimension," that is, the infinite Truth which dominates all forms. --F. Schuon

As we have discussed in the past, what makes man unique is not just his capacity for knowledge, but his capacity to know so many things that are manifestly false. To call this latter thing "knowledge" is a perversion of the term, for knowledge that isn't true isn't proper knowledge at all. Then what is it? Why are human beings so prone to believe nonsense?

Even for most so-called intellectuals, most of what they know is not necessarily knowledge. Rather, it is plainly "belief." Belief is knowledge once or twice removed, for it means that we are placing our trust in the knowledge of another, or participating in the knowledge of another knower. We don't really know, but somebody does, and we trust them. For example, no one asks if you "know" about global warming; rather, they ask if you "believe" in it. Whether you believe in it depends upon whom you trust. In my case, I have enough common sense not to trust those who claim to know what the weather will be like in 100 years.

So much of what people think they know -- but which they really don't know at all -- comes down to whom they trust. For example, I generally read a few economics books per year, but I could hardly claim to be any kind of expert. And yet, I do have my opinions regarding economics -- even strong opinions. To a certain extent, my opinions rest upon which experts I trust. In my case, I trust a Thomas Sowell but deeply distrust a Paul Krugman. I expect the former to tell me the truth and the latter to lie and distort (there is also the critical matter of the "light" that emanates from the former and the "darkness" that radiates from the latter, but I don't have time to get into that). For example, the left is now claiming that we are in a recession. But since they claimed in 2004 that it was the worst economy since Herbert Hoover, this must be the worst economy in three years, which isn't saying much.

But it's much deeper than that, because one's understanding of economics is always shaped by one's values. For example, I value individualism, low taxes, and a limited government regardless of the economic implications, because I believe these values create better people. On the other and, the leftist values collectivism, big government, and high taxes. I derive my values from religion, whereas the leftist derives his from... from what? From his feelings, I suppose.

Belief cannot establish its own legitimacy, but derives its legitimacy from someone who either knows, thinks he knows, or pretends to know. In this sense, it is superficially similar to faith. However, belief is generally a static thing. It takes the unknown and superimposes the known upon it, thus foreclosing the unknown. Once one believes something, the issue becomes settled, even if in reality it isn't. Again, for those who believe in global warming, the science is "settled." But it's actually the reverse -- that is, the science is settled because they believe in the theory.

Again, this has certain superficial similarities to the religious person, who, for example, has faith that the universe was created. For me, this is a "settled" matter, and no amount of argument could change my opinion. But that is not to say that my opinion is "static." To the contrary, with the exercise of faith -- which is to be distinguished from mere belief -- one's understanding will deepen and deepen.

This is again because belief is foreclosure of the known, whereas faith is a dynamic engagement with the greater unKnown. Faith, properly understood, is not a cognitive structure or grid to be superimposed upon reality. Rather, it is a psychospiritual probe with which to explore transcendent reality -- somewhat like the way a blind person might use a cane to to construct an internal image of the dark space around him (to borrow an analogy from Polanyi).

Furthermore, unlike belief, faith should be convertible to real, i.e., "eternal" knowledge. It is actually a subtle and sophisticated way to gain knowledge that transcends the senses, not a means to provide false but comforting answers and to vanquish curiosity. Scientific knowledge, by definition, is always relative, whereas religious knowledge is the closest human beings can come to knowledge that is "absolute." In fact, religious knowledge partakes of the Absolute; or, to be exact, it is "infused" with the Absolute in holographic way, so that any "part" of revelation mirrors the whole, so to speak.

Thus, many people of faith are actually "people of (implicit) knowledge," whereas many so called intellectuals are actually no more than simple "people of faith." You can really see what little genuine knowledge people have when the discussion revolves around something you do happen to know about, whether it is quantum physics or plumbing repair.

For example, in my case, I happen to possess a lot of theoretical and first hand knowledge of psychology. Most intellectuals who claim to know about psychology don't actually have this kind of first hand knowledge. Rather, they have simply placed their trust in an expert whom they choose to believe. Thus, they have placed the will higher than the intellect; or, at the very last, their intellect is in service of the will. This is not a bad thing, so long as the will is in service to Truth. But most of the really serious problems of mankind -- the real wholesale evil -- is a result of the will in service to falsehood.

I remember having a number of discussions with a world-renowned leftist historian who shall go unnamed. His historical thinking presumed a great deal of psychological knowledge, for how can you claim to study human history without some kind of implicit or explicit theory of human development and motivation? And yet, his psychological ideas were so outdated and unsophisticated as to be laughable. Yes, he had his own psychological "experts" whom he relied upon -- probably some ideas he picked up here and there from leftist lizards in the faculty lounge -- but I knew that his faith in these experts was entirely misplaced. Incidentally, this man also happens to be an atheist who is extremely hostile to religion. But as it pertains to the human psyche, this cynical sophist remains a "simple man of faith."

Ironically, it is just so in any debate between an obligatory atheist, or secular fundamentalist, and a man of genuine faith or gnosis. True, many people of faith simply place their trust in someone who knows -- or claims to know -- and leave it at that. But others do know. They know directly, in the manner of vision or hearing. How then to discuss this knowledge with the obligatory atheist -- that simple and unsophisticated secular man of faith -- who has placed his faith in those who not only do not know but obnoxiously insist that there is nothing to know and no way to know it?

Imagine a medical expert in, say, the mid 19th century. He has all of the latest knowledge on disease. He knows all about the four humors, about the proper placement of leeches, about how germs are spontaneously generated by bad air, etc. Someone comes along and tells this arrogant fellow that germs aren't spontaneously generated. Rather, there are invisible microorganisms covering his hands, living things that he is actually unwittingly transmitting to his patients. Would this doctor not be far closer to the truth if he ceased believing his experts and stopped trusting his self-confirming personal experience?

As expressed by Josef Pieper, "belief has the extraordinary property of endowing the believer with knowledge which would not be available to him by the exercise of his own powers." Furthermore, "being wise with the head of someone else is undoubtedly a smaller thing than possessing knowledge oneself, but it is far to be preferred to the sterile arrogance of one who does not achieve the independence of the knower and simultaneously despises the dependence of the believer."

Since we begin the spiritual path without explicit knowledge, we must inevitably place our faith in the testimony of someone who does (or did) know (or who is perhaps knowledge itself). Ah, but how do we know that this person isn't a mere believer himself? How do we assess their credibility and trustworthiness? By what signs do we judge the false from the true prophet?

Human beings are equipped with means to apprehend exterior reality. But we are also curiously equipped to apprehend the interior reality of persons. It is said that a sophisticated scientist, strictly speaking, does not judge the merits of a scientific theory on the basis of whether it is "true" or "false." Rather, he does so (at least partly) on the basis of its generativity, that is, by how much it explains, how well it ties together various other facts and observations, and the extent to which it gives rise to new, "interesting" problems.

Have you ever known a generative person in whose presence you experience the bracing flow of "life" along your keel? Have you ever been in the presence of a stagnant and lifeless person in whose psychic presence you feel your soul being sucked out of your body?

The spiritually generative lumin being does not merely report reality. Rather, such an individual imparts reality. You might say that they are a door. Or you might say that they are a way. Or perhaps they are even the life.

They know. And we know that they know. And soon enough, we know too. Call it recognosis and ruahcollection.

An esotericism is addrssed precisely to those "that have ears to hear" and for that reason have no need of the explanations and "proofs" which may be desired by those for whom esotericism is not intended.... Christ necessarily spoke from an absolute standpoint, by reason of a certain "subjectivization" of the Absolute.... --F. Schuon

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Audacity of Dreaming and the Power of Losers (3.07.10)

Obama is the candidate who has the audacity of hope. But in order for the exercise of mere hope to become an act of audacity, one must first, for whatever reason, feel unusually hopeless. For example, if one has a cold, one hopes to get better soon. But if one has end stage cancer, then it is pretty audacious to hope to get better.

Which raises the question: is it ever really appropriate to nurture audacious hope, in particular, on the horizontal plane? For to nurture audacious hope would seem to imply the wish for a complete overturning of the order of the world, which is presumably in a hopeless state.

First of all, to hope is "to cherish a desire with expectation of fulfillment," or "to long for with expectation of fulfillment" (Webster's). It can also mean "someone or something on which hopes are centered," such as Jesus, Obama, or Joe Torre, in the case of Dodger fans.

What about audacity? It has to do with the quality of intrepid boldness, but also "bold or arrogant disregard of normal restraints." Thus, on the one hand, it can imply courage, but on the other, a reckless absence of prudence -- for courage without prudence is no longer a virtue.

Now, "hope" is one of the Christian virtues, which is why it is a sin for a Christian to wallow in hopelessness or despair. The whole point is that the Christian -- and the world -- is hopeless without Christ, whose mission it was to save us from that kind of existential cosmic hopelessnes. Therefore, it seems evident that no true Christian would find Obama's message of "audacious hope" appealing, since no Christian should feel so hopeless that he would essentially cash in his vertical hopes for the horizontal fantasies of a silver-tongued leftist.

If Obama were a proper theologian instead of a freelance messiah, he might have entitled his book The Bodaciousness of Fantasy or perhaps Getting Ahead in Life With Sheer Loser Power.

With regard to the latter, one has only to look at the type of person who attends a left wing rally or demonstration to know that Loser Power is a formidable force in the world. (Zombie does a wonderful job of documenting the awesome Power of Losers; the images are from her site.)

As Dr. Sanity writes today, "There is no doubt that both Clinton and Obama, for all their talk of 'hope' are both heavily invested in misery and failure -- both in their economic philosophy, as well as their desire for immediate (if not sooner) surrender in Iraq.

"You would think that people with real 'hope' would see the progress in Iraq and the turnabout that has occurred in the hearts and minds of the people there. You would think that people hyping 'change' would come up with some ideas and programs that aren't beholden to an ideology that has already failed in country after country, and which has made their economies circle the drain.

"The Democratic party has become a bleak house that only knows how to pander to the pessimism and envy of Americans. Since 2000 when Bush was elected, they have been whining constantly and pointing to doom and gloom omens whenever they could about the economy. Their goal? To create a perception of disaster -- even as the economy chugged along like the little engine that could. No group is happier or more excited over the possibility of a real recession than the Democratic elite, who are practically salivating over the word. Never mind that unemployment remains at historic lows... or that manufacturing has actually grown during the Bush years."

Now, hope, according to theologian Montague Brown, is "the will that what is good might be," as in "thy kingdom come, thy will be done." It is another way of saying "may the vertical radiate into the horizontal," or my we align ourselves with the Sovereign Good. It is contrasted with wishing, which is "the desire that what one wants might be." Theologically, the difference could not be starker.

Brown explains that hope "involves the conviction that, despite appearances to the contrary, truth and goodness will prevail. To hope is to commit ourselves to the betterment of ourselves and the world." We would have no problem at all with the left if they understood hope in this way, and exerted all of their effort -- body, mind, and soul -- at improving themselves (first) and the world (second), instead of transferring power to the state in order to force people to do their will -- which, in the end, means being compelled to do the will of audacious losers.

While hope "looks to the future," it is "rooted in reality as it is. In this sense, hope is realistic." However, it is also idealistic, in that "it envisions the perfection of that reality." Furthermore, we must be willing to work for what we hope. Again, this does not mean transferring this responsibility to a coercive and heavy-handed state.

Wishing, on the other hand, "involves the fancy that... our desire will be satisfied. To wish is to invoke fortune to bring us what we want, even if what we want is not good." Wishing is a product of the lower imagination. It "has no particular bond with reality as it is," nor must one dedicate oneself to making the wish a reality. "We wish for all all sorts of frivolous and unattainable things.... [It] is easy and makes no demands on us to choose truth over fantasy or to choose good over evil" (Brown).

Flat out of time. No time to proofread or spell check. That last image is courtesy American Digest.

****

Obama's Messiahship is all about delivering self esteem to losers (TW: Walt):

Obama-world "is a world of Hope; of Action; of Change You Can Believe In; of Yes We Can; of Coming Together; of Moving Forward Into the Future, and of other banalities that can mean absolutely anything to anyone. 'I am asking you to take a chance on your own aspirations.' It's all about us and our good feelings of youth and unity. Nothing so difficult as spelling out tough policy choices or arguing about a particular program's merits or ramifications is involved....

"Unification for 'change,' 'hope,' and 'the future' is perfect for Obama's young, esteem-fueled supporters: just as their academic self-esteem was divorced from actual achievement, and their competitive self-esteem was insulated from scorekeeping, Obama-supplied political self-esteem is disconnected from any actual opinions, policies or analyses."

Loser Power!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Conservatives Defend Us From Our Real Enemies, Liberals Defend Us From Our Enemy, Reality (1.21.10)

Continuing with Monday's pedantic post: in the depressive position, the infant gradually integrates experience into a coherent self which is able to distinguish fantasy from reality, interior from exterior, self from not-self. You might think that this is an unproblematic achievement, but you would be quite wrong. We all carry remnants of the paranoid-schizoid position, some much more so than others

In my book I refer to these enduring, or "crystalized" pathological remnants as “mind parasites”; but remember, healthy functioning always involves a sort of fluid dialectic between the two positions, analogous to metabolism and catabolism. Carl Jung in particular emphasized how a psychological "breakdown" can be a prelude to a new level of integration. In fact, it happened in his own life, when experienced what amounted to a psychotic break during World War I (I forget all the details at the moment).

Here, I'll look it up. This might be helpful. In his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung wrote that after his break from Freud in 1913, "a period of inner uncertainty began for me. It would be no exaggeration to call it a state of disorientation. I felt totally suspended in mid-air, for I had not yet found my own footing." Interestingly, this coincided with the onset of the war, which was experienced as a sort of psychotic breakdown of the world's order. Jung could not distinguish between his internal experience and the world situation:

"The pressure I had felt in me seemed to be moving outward, as though there were something in the air. The atmosphere actually seemed to me darker than it had been. It was as if the sense of oppression no longer sprang exclusively from a psychic situation, but from concrete reality. This feeling grew more and more intense."

Hmm, this is getting interesting. What happened next? "In October, while I was alone on a journey, I was suddenly seized by an overpowering vision: I saw a monstrous flood covering all of the northern and low-lying lands between the North Sea and the Alps.... I realized that a frightful catastrophe was in progress. I saw the mighty yellow waves, the floating rubble of civilization, and the drowned bodies of uncounted thousands. Then the whole sea turned to blood. This vision lasted about one hour. I was perplexed and nauseated."

Soon he was plunged into an "incessant stream of fantasies" that made it difficult to function. "Had I left those images hidden in the emotions, I might have been torn to pieces by them. There is a chance that I might have succeeded in splitting them off; but in that case I would have inexorably fallen into a neurosis and and so been ultimately destroyed by them anyhow."

More on Jung's psychotic break in a later post. For our purposes, the point is that he did not defend himself against the unconscious through manic defenses, but fully plunged into it in an ultimately creative and healing way.

Now, a "borderline" individual engages in severe splitting between good and bad, and has difficulty distinguishing between "inside" and "outside." As such, if you disappoint or frustrate them, they can suddenly perceive you as all bad (which they have projected into you), completely forgetting the many positive experiences they have had with you. It is as if these experiences never happened, and the “good you” no longer exists, because it has been banished to some black hole of unconsciousness (this process should not be confused with garden-variety PMS).

Likewise, a narcissistic individual only has use for you so long as you serve as a mirror for their primitive, paranoid-schizoid grandiosity. As soon as you fail to idealize them, they will react with anger or contempt in order to maintain their illusion of greatness. They will flush you from their life like a bad object.

The manic defenses are those defenses that prevent movement from the paranoid-schizoid to the depressive position, and include contempt, triumph, control and idealization. Basically, you can think of these defenses as coming into play when reality threatens to impinge upon fantasy. In fact, these defenses ultimately consist of attacks on a reality the individual has already dimly perceived but does not wish to consciously entertain.

At the same time, the manic defenses prevent recognition all of the implications of the unconsciously perceived reality, which is obviously a huge impediment to fruitful and generative thought. It explains why the left does not profit from experience, and why they continue proposing irrational and utopian ideas and policies that have already failed and will surely fail again. But only by arresting thought in this way can they keep their audaciously manic hopes alive. (Thomas Sowell calls this the inability to "think beyond stage one," which in practical terms comes down to failing to appreciate the law of unintended consequences.)

In the past we have discussed deMause's concept of the “group fantasy.” In my view, the philosophy of secular leftism is very much rooted in the paranoid-schizoid position, whereas the classical liberalism embodied in the conservative intellectual movement is much more reflective of the depressive position. Here, I hope it should go without saying that I am not primarily referring to individuals, as there are obviously many immature conservatives and mature liberals. Rather, I am specifically discussing the group dynamic.

If I am correct, then we will see in conservatism a much more sober and realistic assessment of mankind. As I have mentioned before, I am of the view that conservatism is as much an inclination, temperament, or “cast of mind” as it is any set doctrine. In fact, the doctrines follow from the temperament -- or, you might say, the depressive position -- rather than vice versa. This would explain why normal people generally become more conservative as they mature and grow wiser, whereas leftism mostly appeals to the young or to the permanently immature of academia and Hollywood.

A while back, I wrote a post which summarized the main tenets of conservatism and liberalism. Let’s review them and see how they line up in terms of the paranoid-schizoid vs. depressive positions. I think they basically speak for themselves.

Russell Kirk summarized the six canons of conservative thought as

1. Belief in a transcendent order; and that most political problems are moral problems resulting from bad values. (To cite an obvious example, if Hispanic or Black Americans adopted Asian American or Mormon values, they would be just as successful.)

2. Appreciation of the ineffable mystery of existence, and with it, opposition to the tedious uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of of most radical systems.

3. An understanding that liberty and equality are contradictory aims; a belief that there are distinctions between men and that classes will emerge naturally and spontaneously in a free society. “If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum.”

4. A belief that property and freedom are intimately linked. “Economic leveling... is not economic progress.”

5. Distrust of radical schemes by liberal intellectuals “who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs” that simply mask the intellectual’s lust for power.

6. Recognition that change and reform are not synonymous, and that “prudent change is the means of social preservation.”

In contrast, contemporary left-liberalism has entirely different assumptions and attacks (manically, in my estimation) the existing social order on the following grounds:

1. “The perfectibility of man”; the belief that education, environment or legislation “can produce men like gods; they deny that humanity has a natural proclivity towards violence and sin.”

2. Contempt for tradition. “Formal religion is rejected and various ideologies are presented as substitutes.”

3. Political leveling: “Order and privilege are condemned,” accompanied by “an eagerness for centralization and consolidation.”

4. Economic leveling: “The ancient rights of property... are suspect to almost all radicals.”

The first six postulates are true or revolve around truth; the second four are false or rooted in falsehood. But worse than that, the latter are manic defenses against the sobering reality of the former. To put it another way, to believe in the latter four is to never "grow up" in the pneumacosmic sense.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

March 4, 2008: International Transdimensional Raccoon Day

Today we cerebrate on another year in the glorious evolution of our Raccoon heritage.

Witnesses who were present at that little speakeasy in Bismark, North Dakota, swear that when Toots Mondello and Herman Hildebrand founded the International Order of Friendly Sons of the Raccoons on March 4, 1907, neither of them were consciously aware of the significance of the date, or much of anything else, for that matter. But March 4th is the only date of the year that is simultaneously a command, a duty, and a rallying cry that encompasses the Coon credo: March Forth into the vertical with noble tails entwined, ye mighty little beasts! Woooooo!

Of course, at first -- and to be honest, ever since -- the yearly cooniversary of our founding was mainly an occasion to hoist a few (and if the stories about brothers Herman and Toots are more than apocryphal, "stagger forth" was perhaps more accurate than "march forth"). This is why tonight at "beer o'clock," all dues-paying adult Raccoons everywhere in the world will raise the spirit of their choice (the "shot glazarus ceremony") and repeat the sacred coontra, Fingers to fingers, thumbs to thumbs, watch out below, here she comes.

Subsequent generations of slightly less libationary Coons came to appreciate the bi-cosmic synchronicity of the date, especially after bylaw, sec. 2 was changed to require a public school diploma for membership. Before that, none of the members had heard of the word "synchronicity."

"Where have we been"? Where are we going"? "Does Gladys look pissed"? These are not just idle questions that Toots posed in the early morning hours of March 5, 1907. Think of how much things have changed in just 100 years. Today he would have mumbled those questions in the back of a squad car instead of a paddy wagon. He would have been fined and given community service instead of being released into the custody of a none-too-pleased Gladys waving that formidable rolling pin. Wasn't that punishment enough? Have we become a crueler society? Or was the greater cruelty being married to Gladys? That was certainly Toots' view.

When we prophylactically reflect upon a century of unadulterated Coonery, we first notice the many things that have changed, including more liberal divorce laws that might have given Toots a chance at coonjugal fulfillment. Perhaps not, for whereas Herman was the more coontemplative "much loved disciple," Toots -- like his latter day servant, Cousin Dupree -- was always the more headstrong, fire-breathing Ovangelist, what with his frequent "celestial fits." Both temperaments were required to accomplish the divine mission, for the "church of Herman" and the "church of Toots" are ultimately one, as we all know.

And since "Raccoon nature" is eternal and unchanging, it is equally striking that the nature of the anti-Coon adversary is also unchanging. For example, the headline of the March 4, 1908 Los Angeles Daily Mirror histrionically warns of false prophets and phony cults, in such a way that it could cause people to indiscriminately lump them together with the benign cult of Raccoons -- the only cult, I might add, that "has no members." Toots always said that if a cult ever formed around him, he would be the first to quit, which he did many times. Thus, to this day, no one can "join" the Transdimensional Order of the Friendly Sons & Daughters of the Cosmic Raccoons, they can only be kicked out -- which sets us apart from Islam, which everyone is compelled to join and no one is free to leave.

Anyway, the sensational headline from 100 years ago:

WHIPPED HIS WOMEN SLAVES
Head of Free Love Cult Ruled Like Czar
Only Divorced Men and Single Women Admitted
Affinities Furnished for Cash Consideration


"A revelation of a strange cult -- one more weird and unusual than that of Jacob Bielhart of the 'Spirit Fruit' fame, more insidious than that of the prophet who conducted his 'heaven' with its corp of 'angels' in Englewood, and more ritualistic than the cult of Mazdamen, which flourishes among Chicago sun worshippers -- was made in Judge Walker's court. Lola P. Sadony asked for a divorce from 'Professor' J.A. Sadony, founder and 'chief' of the cult known as the 'Society of Psychological Science,' or the 'Institute of Mental and Athletic Development.' She attacked her husband in a sensational bill.

"The story of the wife was of a 'healer by hands,' who has gathered together a cult of admirers who worship him under the title of 'Chief,' take his orders as imperative, bow down to his 'chief disciples,' and give him money they obtain by toil and sacrifice....

"Sadony would go into a trance and tell wives to leave their husbands, and husbands to leave their wives. The women were directed to cleave to the pundit and give him all their earnings.... Sadony had a throne in the attic of the house on Winthrop Avenue, where seances were held [and he] went into trances while reclining on a gilded chair upholstered in red plush....

"Seventy-five dollars a week was considered a fair estimate of the prophet's income. Every time he wanted money he would 'throw a fit' and make his wants known. No more than thirteen, including the high priest, were ever permitted to belong to the queer sect. Witness said they had to give practically all their earnings to Sadony, and didn't have enough to buy clothes. However, clothes were not considered essential at the colony."

Yes, there are some superficial similarities -- the seances in the red plush chair, the mandate to "cleave to Petey," the sale of indulgences, the clothing-optional credo -- but to tar the Merry Cult of Raccoons with the same lurid brush is to... get tar all over us.

But today, of all days, is not one for looking back with bitterness. Rather, it is a day for Marching Forth with.... with unbitterness, which I believe was one of the rejected early mottos -- not because we don't believe it, but because nothing rhymes with "unbitterness." The closest thing was "critterness," which some of our southern brothers favored, but gave the fight song too regional a vernacular. In a compromise, the final version of our marching song became,

In the West and in the East
There’s a mighty little beast
For courage there is no other.
When the chips are all at stake
We are proud to call him brother.
So with our noble tails entwined
And a spirit strong of mind
We'll have hearts that cannot melt.
In the forest, in the trees
On the land or seven seas
We're brothers under the pelt


It was felt that there was no need to specifically commemorate our founding by referencing "marching forth" in the marching song, since, after all, it is a "marching song," and no one marches backwards except for progressives. "March forth." It's what we do -- in word and in deed -- but always with "tails entwined." With or without clothing.

Obviously, in his wildest beer-fueled Coon-vision reveries, Toots could not have foreseen the technological wonders of the present age, in which initiates from all over the world could coongregate in their underwear and entwine their tails in cyberspace. I just checked out my site meter, and it shows me that at this moment (7:03AM) there are Coons (or possibly anti-Coons) in ten different countries besides the U.S., including the UK (Beaglehole?), Germany ("das Kulturcoons"), Canada ("Coonucks"), Australia ("Koongaroos"), Netherlands ("Vikoons"), Korea ("Coonfucians"), Saudi Arabia ("soon to be late Coon") and "Unknown Country (probably just some other place outside the U.S. such as Manhattan or Berkeley).

When you think about it, this is remarkable, since my book has not yet been translated into most of these languages. My publisher has informed me that, in order for that to happen, they want me to first translate it into english. They've always been very supportive like that.

A while back we kicked around the question of whether Paul chose God or was chosen by Him, and I think we all agreed that the latter was the case. Even if he had wanted to, Paul could never have chosen, much less designed and implemented, his mission. Most people who "want" to become prophets or gurus or spiritual teachers are driven by impure motives, since it is always out of one's hands anyway. These gifts are graces from heaven, not self-willed, and God generally chooses unlikely vehicles just to emphasize the centrality of grace (although it is certainly necessary to align our will with the grace, which is where free will does come into play).

It was the same coonundrum with Toots and Herman. Did they "choose" Coonhood? Or were they merely instruments of higher forces? Knowing what we know about the early lives of Toots and Herman, I don't think anyone could make a case for the former. Coon lore euphemistically refers to the "boyish peccadilloes" and "legal entanglements" of their youth, but for one thing, since when is a 35 year-old man a "youth," and since when is a state penitentiary a "reform school?" But let's not nitpick on the one day we should all be enjoying a picnic.

Please, I do not stand here today in judgment of the character of our founders, which speaks for itself, at least since those "lost" documents were discovered through the Freedom of Information Act. No, I think we have to be honest with ourselves, and realize that none of us deserves to be called "Coon" -- although we must never stop trying to earn the title, and we must always pay the $2 monthly dues.

For as Toots whispered in his dying breath before sloughing off the pelt, "Why do you call me Coon? There is no Coon but the Grand High Exhalted Mystic Ruler."

And Petey's term isn't up until sunset on March 4, 2012, when we name our new Exalted Ruler during the grand mystic ceremony of the Nocturnal O-mission.

Words to reflect upon and coontemplate on this sacred day. So March Forth and go vertical, young Coon!

From the hallowed streets of Greenpernt,
To the shores of Sheepshead Bay,
From the Verrazano Narrows,
To Canarsie across the way...
We have come together, one and all,
In fellowship to commune,
And to glorify the Grand Exalted
Brotherhood of Raccoons.

Wooooooo!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Obamanic Depression is a Frustrating Mess (1.20.10)

Manic depression is touching my soul
I know what I want, but I just don't know
How to go about gettin' it
--Jimi Hendrix

I’m trying to imagine what it must feel like for Horizontal Man to win -- or even hope to win -- an election. I know that for me and other verticaloids of my acquaintance, there is no great joy upon winning an election, usually just relief that we have managed to temporarily pull the cultural plane out of its death spiral.

But for Horizontal Man, politics is his religion, which is the whole problem with his politics. The Obama phenemonon is the quintessential example of this. He is almost wholly the product of displaced vertical wishes and dreams onto the horizontal plane. Obama most certainly realizes this, which is why he is running one of the most cynical and manipulative campaigns in living memory.

One way or another, vertical man is born again “from above.” Therefore, he draws his energies from the vertical center and radiates them to the horizontal periphery. But since Horizontal Man is trapped in the bewilderness of his contingent being (i.e., maya), he unconsciously projects the above into the future, and thereby constructs a faux spiritual life that attempts to draw on the psychic energies by this self-created illusion.

In other words, horizontal man (if he isn't just an honest nihilist or self-consistent hedonist) practices the religion of progressivism, in which belief in a transcendent order is immamentized and "nourishes" the vacuum where his soul should be. In so doing, he receives a kind of existential consolation which may be compared to a form of counterfeit grace, in particular, when he imagines that he is in proximity to this heaven and therefore closer to being “saved” from the existential situation that afflicts all humans. Obviously, the Obamaniacs are feeling very "close" to this heaven, which ratchets up their creepy fervor. (The depth of spiritual hopelessness defended against by this false hope is frightening to consider.)

You can clearly recognize this mechanism of hoped-for horizontal salvation in action. For if reality were actually as awful as what the fantasists of the left have been saying for the past seven years, we would not see this manic exaltation among their rank and foul. Rather, we would see great sobriety and moral seriousness, as they brood on the monumental work of undoing the theo-fascist takeover of America, of saving the planet from immanent demise from the Bush-caused weather changes, of repairing our "permanently damaged" standing in the world. After all, if all it takes to undo these problems is to elect a smiling cipher, then they couldn't have been that serious to begin with.

The great psychoanalyst Melanie Klein divided human psychological development into two main stages, which she termed the paranoid-schizoid and the depressive positions. (I will try to avoid pedantry at risk of over-simplification.)

For Klein, the primary goal of development was to move from the former to the latter, although in reality, the relationship between the two is more dialectical than linear, similar to the relationship that exists between the conscious and unconscious minds, or between what might be called mental metabolism (building up) and catabolism (breaking down).

In other words, we no longer think of an unconscious mind per se, but a dialectical relationship between the conscious and unconscious. This dialectic can be fruitful and generative, or stultifying and self-defeating, but you can no more rid yourself of unconscious processes than you could speak without the implicit deep structure of grammar.

Human beings are subject to the nuisance of intrusive thoughts long before they are capable of thinking them. The problem for development is to build a robust psychic structure in which one may think thoughts instead of merely being thought by them. Naturally, our earliest psychological reality is almost wholly fantastic, and it is actually the primary job of the parent to prolong this fantasy until the baby becomes capable of discovering and bearing reality. In the absence of unconscious buffers, reality truly would be unbearable -- something like looking straight into the sun, or trying to live on the surface of mars.

This is why you cannot “spoil” an infant. Rather, you must indulge them until they are resilient enough to tolerate the painful and disappointing discovery of reality. Ironically, this can only be achieved if they have a firm foundation of entitlement and generative fantasy -- for example, the fantasy that one’s painful hunger causes a generous and bountiful breast to magically appear out of nowhere. The baby must imagine that this loving breast is his own creation before he makes the disappointing discovery that it actually belongs to mother (let alone a third interloper!), otherwise reality will have to be rejected or even attacked in some form or fashion. We must be provided with, and then gradually disillusioned of, our infantile omnipotence, on pain of trying to hold on to it or resurrect it for the rest of our lives.

The paranoid-schizoid position takes place in the first year of life. Naturally there is no clear sense of psychological boundaries at this time, which is why the psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott made the famous remark that “there is no such thing as an infant.” Rather, there is primarily a harmonious, mixed-up fusion of mother and baby. The baby’s sense of individual selfhood will only gradually emerge from this primordial matrix.

Klein called this the “paranoid-schizoid position” because it is the source of our most primitive psychological defenses -- i.e., denial, splitting, and projection. These defenses are normative for a baby, but only become problematic to the extent that we fail to evolve into the depressive position. At this early age, we shouldn’t even think of them as defenses, but more as primitive modes of "thinking," i.e., of organizing otherwise chaotic mental experience, almost like primitive neurological "categories" or preconceptions.

For example, splitting early experience into a “good” and “bad” breast is analogous to God’s separation of the primordial waters. It is an attempt to achieve safety by placing a distance between what are in reality different aspects of oneself. Projection obviously works the same way, in that it allows the person to evacuate the "bad" or to place the good outside the self for "safekeeping."

End of part 1.

Back-up @ American Thinker:

"The Obama campaign truly has taken on a cult-like quality. His starry-eyed supporters actually believe that simply electing Barack Obama as president will solve, not just this country's, but the world's most difficult problems -- problems that have been with us since the dawn of history.... Witness his messianic campaign slogan, 'We are the ones we've been waiting for,' which is repeated several times near the end of the video. [A fine example of omnipotent infantile solipsism, BTW.]

"Anyone who spends a few minutes thinking about this, knows that a President Obama never will be able to deliver on this [manic] dream of 'change' and 'hope.' And not just because his actual policy prescriptions reflect standard liberal tax-and-spend collectivism. Under any set of policies, the problems facing this country, let alone the world [AKA "reality"], are not going to go away anytime soon. They are part of the human condition. At best, they can be managed and ameliorated.

"Yet how will Obama and his supporters react when they realize that his achievements as president, whatever they may be, will never match his -- or their -- aspirations? Will they react in a mature manner, or will they lash out in anger against those whom they perceive as standing in the way of 'progress'? Will they make a good faith effort to work with independents and conservatives, or will they vilify their political opponents?... Frustrated idealists are not known for their calmness, rationality, and willingness to compromise."

If Melanie Klein is right, I think we know the answer, for frustrated infants are also not known for their calmness, rationality, and willingness to compromise.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Out Through the In Door (3.05.10)

Beauty is a crystallization of a certain aspect of universal joy; it is a limitlessness expressed by a limit. --F. Schuon

Ever since the scientific revolution, we have tended to divide the world into a public sphere of objective, measurable reality and a private sphere of ephemeral, subjective perceptions. In this view, the external world is considered the fundamental reality, while consciousness is reduced to an epiphenomenon, so that all our perceptions of the world -- its vivid colors, sounds, and textures -- are rendered meaningless, revealing nothing intrinsic to the cosmos. All subjective qualities are reduced to quantities -- for example, our perception of the redness of an apple is reduced to a particular frequency of light, or music is reduced to vibrating air molecules striking against our ear drums.

As I wrote in One Cosmos Under God, "science begins with the one world we experience with our senses (where else could it begin?), but quickly saws off that familiar limb by 'excluding everything that can be imagined or conceived, except in abstract mathematical terms,' consequently relegating everything outside mathematical description -- the very world it started with -- to 'an ontological limbo.'" Only this second, abstract world is considered to disclose valid information about the universe, whereas all of our initial impressions of color, sound, texture, beauty, and meaning supposedly reveal nothing real about the universe, only about our own nervous systems.

But one of the fundamental tenets of esoterism is that the universe not only has a within that is uniquely accessible to humans, but that the very cosmos is the "exteriorization" or crystallization of this same within. In other words, the universe is not simply an exterior made up of discrete parts that are external to one another. Rather, by looking at the parts in a certain way, we may intuit a wholeness in the world that in turn reveals its interior dimension. Parts show us only the exterior of the cosmos, while wholeness lures us toward the Great Within.

I recently wrote to a reader about the experience of mountain biking in the open space around our house. One day I brought along the camera so I could bring back some photos for Mrs. Gagdad, who doesn't bike. Just by virtue of having the camera, I found myself regarding reality in an entirely different, more consciously aesthetic way. It reminded me of the young videographer in the film American Beauty, who would simply record seemingly banal things, such as a paper bag blowing in the wind, which elevated them to a transcendent level just by looking at them in this aesthetic way.

It seems that we originally gain access to the Great Within through the human face. As infants, our whole world is oriented toward the mother's face. Obviously, in looking at a face, we don't first attend to a nose here, an eye there, a mouth there, and then inductively leap to the conclusion that faces exist. Rather, without even knowing it, we attend to the face as a whole, and can instantaneously distinguish one face from another and one expression from another.

In attending to the mother's face, the baby knows that the mother has a living interior, and through her changing expressions, begins to discover his own interior. Severely autistic children, for example, do not see whole "faces," but only a collection of parts, so that they are never fully ushered into the intersubjective Withinness of the cosmos. Instead, they can be left isolated in the bizarre and frightening existence of a living death -- immersed in a sea of things that move and have independent existence, but reveal no intrinsic meaning. Adhering to the strict scientific view -- which regards the "within" as mere subjective "noise" -- one would have to say that people with autism are more in touch with reality than anyone else, which is absurd.

Just as the face allows us to see the within of the person "behind" it, the wholeness of the cosmos invites us to see beyond its surface. (One of the central points of my book is that modern physics reveals the cosmos to be an internally related whole, not just a collection of exterior parts.) Paradoxically, we can know the interior only by focusing on the exterior. Just as the face is the meaning of its features, the meaning of existence can be discovered by dwelling in its features. Poets, for example, have always understood that by indwelling in nature we can intuit what dwells within nature -- we are floating atop a sea of clues that point beyond themselves to a hidden reality, which in turn throws out clues like sparks from a central fire. By attending to things and events in a certain "actively passive" way, we allow them to "speak" to us, and this in turn in-forms us about their nature.

The English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins coined the term "inscape" to refer to this more intense experience of observing things in such a way that their intrinsic qualities emerge. He believed that by allowing one's attention to be drawn to a bird in flight, a tree, or a landscape, we allow their character to act upon us through a union of the inner and outer worlds. Similarly, Goethe argued that we discover the true nature of things through a contemplative kind of looking he called "seeing with exactitude." By doing this, we can open ourselves to what the cosmos is telling us about itself (and by extension, ourselves).

This being so, we can also see that exploration of the Great Within will yield valid insights about the cosmos. As Schuon writes, certain gifted metaphysical or mystical poets such as Dante are able to express "spiritual realities with the help of the beauty of their souls." In this regard, "it is a matter of endowment far more than of method, for not every man has the gift of sincerely expressing truths that go beyond ordinary humanity." One secret denied the leftist is that the world is as beautiful as the soul's capacity to see it.

This has obvious theological implications. For example, what is scripture but an exterior narrative that tells us of the within of God? Just as it is a mistake to view nature as an object, one makes the same mistake in viewing scripture only as a historical narrative of external events. Rather, those events have a within which is their true teaching. As Meister Eckhart wrote, "If you would have the kernel, you must break the shell."

It can also be argued that the figure of Jesus answers the deepest human longing to "see the face of God," and thereby know his Within most intimately. Again, the whole point of the gospels, if you are a Christian, is that their external narrative reveals the interior God. You cannot dismantle or deconstruct the gospel stories, for this would be like disassembling a human face to try to understand its expression. We see by a sort of interior light when we dwell in faith, for faith is actually foreknowledge of as yet undiscovered truths -- knowledge of approaching discoveries on the interior plane of things.

As the poet Novalis put it, "The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet." If you are feeling boxed in by the materialistic paradigm of modernity, know that you may escape it any time through any of the infinite inscapes that both surround and abide within us. For being mirrorcles of the Absolute, we may penetrate nature only because it penetrates us in a higher realm of transcendent union.

The sacred mountain, seat of the Gods, is not to be found in space even though it is visible and tangible....

For the man of the golden age to climb a mountain was in truth to approach the Principle; to watch a stream was to see universal Possibility at the same time as the flow of forms.

In our day to climb a mountain -- and there is no longer a mountain that is the "center of the world" -- is to "conquer" its summit; the ascent is no longer a spiritual act but a profanation. Man, in his aspect of human animal, makes himself God. The gates of Heaven, mysteriously present in nature, close before him
. --F. Schuon, Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts

Friday, February 29, 2008

Obama and the Lure of the False Vertical: Worshiping a Groovin' Image

Regardless of whether or not you believe human beings are in need of salvation, they inevitably seek it in one form or another. Some of these forms are both "authorized" and therefore operative (i.e., vehicles of grace, the only real means of salvation), while others are sham versions that -- at risk of conjuring a disturbing image -- may send a tingle up Chris Matthews' pasty and dimpled thigh, but leave you back down on the launch pad in some rancid dimension of hell -- which you soon realize when you look to your left and are assaulted by the beastly image of Keith Olbermann.

Now, among the ten commandments there is one in particular that leftists always poke fun at, and that is the injunction against worshiping graven images. Why would the Author of Creation care about that? And what relevance could it possibly have for contemporary people?

The purpose of this commandment is to check the human tendency to worship the relative, the ubiquitous tendency to "bow down and serve" manmade gods, whether secular or religious. Idolatry occurs whenever one holds a value higher than God, or let us say the Absolute, or One.

Thus it is actually possible to turn one’s religion -- or irreligion -- into a false god, and to value it above all else. Certainly in the Muslim Middle East, it would appear that the worship of God has been completely eclipsed by the worship of Islam. But it is also soph-evident that the secular left displaces the need for religion and salvation to the plane of politics -- i.e., they horizontalize the vertical, and imagine that, with enough coercion, manipulation, and thought control, they can recreate paradise on earth.

The archetype of "messiah" does not belong to the horizontal plane -- or the realm of manifestation -- but to the vertical world, i.e., the principial order. Schuon uses the analogy of the colorless essence of white light, which breaks into manifestation in terms of a particular color. Naturally, the archetypal ideas of the celestial realm must be clothed in human thought; to put it another way, we must use forms to inwardly "recollect" what is actually beyond the local form. Schuon expresses the idea of what might be called the "cosmic Christ" as follows:

"The Redemption is an eternal act which cannot be situated either in time or space, and the sacrifice of Christ is a particular manifestation or realization of it on the human plane; men were able to benefit from the Redemption as well before the coming of Jesus Christ as after it, and outside the visible Church as well as within it.

"If Christ had been the only manifestation of the Word, supposing such uniqueness of manifestation be possible, the effect of His birth would have been the instantaneous reduction of the universe to ashes."

The point is, the plane of manifestation could not possibly "contain" the archeytpe of the Messiah in its fulness. It would rip reality to shreds.

Elsewhere Schuon wrote that "Christ is the Heart of the macrocosm, as the Intellect is the Christ of the microcosm." As such, "He is then the Intellect in us as well as the Intellect in the Universe and a fortiori in God; in this sense, it can be said that there is no truth nor wisdom that does not come from Christ, and this is evidently independent of all consideration of time and place. Just as ‘the Light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not,' so too the Intellect shines in the darkness of passions and illusions."

Now, where does the latest messiah, Obama, fit into this scheme? Clearly -- often in a shockingly naive and undisguised manner -- Obama draws upon (or, to be precise, his enthusiasts draw upon) the universal hunger for messianic redemption, for a cosmic-historical figure who will shatter the existing corrupt order and make us "whole" again, which is to say, at one with God.

Now the fact that even secularized flatlanders sense the need for a messianic redemption speaks to unconscious awareness of our fallen situation. But naturally, the leftist understands the Fall in an unorthodox -- to say the least -- way. In fact, it would be an interesting exercise to "reverse engineer" their outward passion for the Obamessiah, to try to discern their unconscious understanding of what he is here to accomplish, or "undo." In short, exactly what is Obama's divine mission?

I think Julie is on the right track with a comment from yesterday. Obama

"embodies (at least outwardly) everything that leftists wish they were themselves: he's black, but also white; he's American, but also a 'citizen of the world'; he pushes for everything the leftiest of lefties desires, but somehow he also has social skills and charisma, so he makes it all look cool and appealing (as opposed to a Cindy Sheehan, or Code Pinkos, or Hillary, or any of the nutjobs who tend to flock to protests). He doesn't screech, whine or nag (he leaves that to the wife, I guess); instead, he cajoles and (anti)inspires. He absolves them of the sin of being white. He's like a great big mirror, showing them exactly what they want to see; they see their dream selves in him. Which would be all well and good, if what they fervently desired were not the most deadly, self-destructive governmental policies man has ever conceived -- socialism, multi-culturalism, pacifism, etc."

Therefore, our first guess is that Obama is indeed a messiah, only a messiah of the lower vertical, the projection of faux wholeness -- i.e., the healing of spiritual brokenness -- only in a circular, narcissistic, and ultimately "infertile" way. It is the creation and projection of a just and healing god to compensate for the absence of God. In essence, he is a groovin' image for the spiritually grooveless secular masses.

Reminds me this line by Samuel Johnson, quoted today in Peggy Noonan's tribute to Buckley: "How small of all that human hearts endure / That part which laws or kings can cause or cure."

Obama's finest speeches.... elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. --Ezra Klein

Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley: Tribute to a Spiritual Centrist and Vertical Warrior

Speaking of heroes...

Partly because of all the counterfeit heroes, it can be difficult to notice when a genuine hero walks among us. Words like "artist," "superstar," and "legend," are so abused and debased, that they no longer convey any objective meaning. The liberal media tell us that Bill Buckley was a "hero to conservatives" instead of to "mankind." When Noam Chomsky publishes his last and perishes into some post-tenure principality to meet his Marxist maker, he will undoubtedly be lauded as a "hero of the left."

But what exactly is a hero, and how does one gauge his moral worth? As Schuon writes, "virtues sundered from truth do not have the power to raise us above ourselves," and a hero specifically helps to lift or preserve mankind in its most noble sense. Put it this way: intelligence descends from the Truth which it will rediscover, or "recollect," on its virtuous ascent back to the One; or, if you like, to the First Principles of cosmos and man. This ascent -- although it is necessarily marked by many transient descents and other deviations -- is the Hero's Journey, if the the hero and the journey are to have any intrinsic merit.

Hero: "A mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability; an illustrious warrior; a man admired for his achievements and qualities; one that shows great courage; the central figure in an event or period" (Webster's).

An intellectual warrior endowed with superhuman strength and ability? Just consider the scoreboard:

"During his nearly 60 years in the public eye, William F. Buckley Jr. published 55 books (both fiction and nonfiction); dozens of book reviews; at least 56 introductions, prefaces, and forewords to other peoples’ books; more than 225 obituary essays; more than 800 editorials, articles, and remarks in National Review; several hundred articles in periodicals other than National Review; and approximately 5,600 newspaper columns. He gave hundreds of lectures around the world, hosted 1,429 separate Firing Line shows, and may well have composed more letters than any American who has ever lived."

But none of it would be worth the paper it was written on had it not been essentially true, for truth can be the only criterion of its intrinsic value. After all, a single line of the scripture is worth all of the books, lectures, diatribes, paranoid rants, angry polemics, and conspiracy theories of a Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, or other modern idolaters who offer their literary blood to the phantoms of their own imagination.

A man of great courage, the central figure in an event or period:

"William F. Buckley Jr. was arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States in the past half century. For an entire generation he was the preeminent voice of American conservatism and its first great ecumenical figure. He changed minds, he changed lives, and he helped to change the direction of American politics."

Divine descent? Oh, no question -- by adoption, anyway. The following exchange took place at the end of his 1970 Playboy interview:

PLAYBOY: Don’t most dogmas, theological as well as ideological, crumble sooner or later?

BUCKLEY: Most, but not all.

PLAYBOY: How can you be so sure?

BUCKLEY: I know that my Redeemer liveth.

Buckley's heroism would have been inconceivable outside his intimate familiarity with the Permanent, the True, and the Permanently True. In the founding statement of National Review, he famously wrote that the movement it championed would stand "athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it."

This statement is still misunderstood by our liberal elites who conflate progress and history. In fact, progress is unthinkable in the absence of permanent standards that necessarily transcend, but are embodied within, history. Intellectuals (in the debased sense of those who engage in "intellectualism" as opposed to intellection) gradually came to regard these permanent standards as a source of oppression instead of the key to liberation. But Truth cannot oppress, except for those who are so spiritually enfeebled that they collapse under its obligations.

53 years later, the left continues to reject our founding principles "in favor of radical social experimentation. Instead of covetously consolidating its premises, the United States seems tormented by its tradition of fixed postulates having to do with the meaning of existence, with the relationship of the state to the individual, of the individual to his neighbor, so clearly enunciated in the enabling documents of our Republic" (Buckley, emphasis mine). True in 1955, true in 2008, and true, period.

For this is a very old story, foreshadowed in the enabling and ennobling document of western civilization: And the serpent said "you shall not surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. It's pretty simple: you can either have God or be God, and the left chooses the latter. And just as promised, death comes one way or the other (e.g., the "culture of death"). In God and Man at Yale, Buckley wrote of the left's abiding faith that

"All the society’s ills -- the economic, the social, the ethical -- can be ameliorated by Bigger and Bigger Government. No consideration of private property or individual economic freedom is to deter the government from spending 'up to the point where the marginal loss of satisfaction to those providing the revenue is just equal to the marginal gain in satisfaction derived by those benefiting from the expenditures'; and no doubts are expressed as to whether even the wisest governments know where this point is. The government, it seems, is to weigh numerical losses and gains in satisfaction; and just so long as there is a net gain (an intangible which the government is to interpret), any government policy is justified. Individual rights of the sort that for generations were never supposed to be prey to government action, are cheerily disregarded as unjustifiable impedimenta in the way of purposive and enlightened state policies."

But don't worry: for the all- wise and loving government, not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from its will, and the very hairs on your head are all numbered! I thought this was just hyperbole until I was audited by the IRS several years ago. Now my advice for those who die / Declare the pennies on your eyes (George Harrison).

At PowerLine the other day, they tossed out a casual aside of great profundity:

"Obama's appeal lies, in part, in his ability to make liberalism seem palatable. Unlike Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, he is generally not shrill or hectoring. He comes across as calm and reasonable. In this, he really does resemble Ronald Reagan."

However, "There are obvious differences between Reagan and Obama." For example, "Reagan was a life-long student of Communism, while Obama is not yet a life-long student of anything. Most important, Reagan was devoted to conservatism, which is essentially true, while Obama is devoted to liberalism, which is essentially false. This means that Obama's policies, no matter how smoothly he may advocate them, will never be as successful as Reagan's."

Exactly. It will always be true that conservatism is essentially true, just as it will always be true that liberalism is essentially false, for the former is rooted in permanent truths about human nature, and if your vision of human nature is faulty, so too will be everything built upon it.

America's memory is short, especially the vertical memory of its founding principles, which tend only to be recalled in crises: "Ronald Reagan came to power at a time when America had been carrying out, for sixteen years, an experiment with liberalism that by 1980 had brought the country to the brink of catastrophe. Americans did not adopt conservative principles because they sounded good on first hearing. They adopted conservative principles because of bitter experience with the alternative" (PowerLine).

It is amazing to think that there was a greater distance in time between the founding of National Review and Reagan's first presidency (25 years) than there has been between then and now (28 years). So today, the benefit of our knowledge of the catastrophic results of liberal governance has not just been "lost" -- which is far too passive a characterization. Rather, it has been crushed, spindled, mutilated, and disappeared. As a result, "A generation of American voters has not experienced the failures of the Great Society, the near-collapse of American cities, double-digit inflation and unemployment, seventy percent tax brackets, or the disaster of Jimmy Carter's foreign policy. In the absence of historical memory, and with a powerful assist from the ever-forgetful press, liberalism is once again emerging as the philosophy that sounds good. The fact that it doesn't work awaits as an unpleasant surprise for a new generation" (PowerLine)

Veracity, charity, and humility, the three fundamental virtues. For the left, truth reduces to power, so veracity is out of the question. Likewise, the true charity (caritas) that can only flow from the awakened human heart is rendered pointless when All Good Things come from the state. And what could be more grandiose than the belief that mankind is perfectible and that the state knows how to achieve it? "Humility" and "left" are mutually exclusive. The proud leftist always confuses empathy with indulgence, rooted in an inability to clearly see both what man is and what he is meant to be.

Buckley was not a man of the right, but a man of the center, which is to say, the vertical in all its infinite ramifications -- a man on intimate terms with the immutable order of cosmic principles, and therefore able to use his intellect to explicate them in an inexhaustible way.

Jacques Maritain famously said that there were never more than three schools of philosophy: The idealists who believe that getting the truth was easy. These are the conventional liberals, whom Bill gently mocked. The nominalists, the Sophists, who deny truth altogether; these are the hard Left, the true enemy he rallied us against. And finally the realists, who accept that the truth is out there but is fiercely difficult to lock down. Bill's most enduring achievement was to identify and shape conservatism as the political expression of philosophical realism in our time. --Richard Vigilante, The Corner

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Three Thousand Years of Unmediated Heroes, from Moses to Sandy Koufax

I dug out, edited, and generally re-thought this post from two and a-half years ago, as it dovetails nicely with yesterday's discussion of heroes, statesmen, and athletes, oh my.

*****

When I was just a gaglad growing up in the mean and mythic streets of Calabasas -- the Last of the Old West -- in suburban Los Angeles, one of my heroes was Sandy Koufax. Even today he retains a sort of rarified, mythological stature in my imagination, much more so than any contemporary athlete ever could. Why is that?

Probably because when I was a kid, only nine Dodger games were televised all year, the nine road games played up in Candlestick Park against the loathsome Berkeley-Castro Street Giants. If I was lucky, I saw Koufax pitch a couple of times a year. This was in 1966, mind you, not 1926, but I still had to rely on the “words eye view” provided by radio broadcasts in order to conceive my image of his truly super-human exploits. And then he unexpectedly retired when I was only ten years old, keeping him frozen in that mythological state forever more. There would be no new images to superimpose on the hypnogogic visions I cOOnjured as a child while laying in bed and falling asleep with the radio under my pillow.

In his book Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It, author Thomas de Zengotita argues that we no longer have heroes because of the way mass media has affected our consciousness. That is, in order to be a real hero, you must essentially be unreal. For if you think about various heroes of old, it’s because we know so little about them (or have so few images) that their deeds may be imagined and therefore mythologized. As de Zengotita puts it, “real heroes of the past were represented with a frugality that is almost impossible to credit today.” But that doesn't result in knowing less about them -- or about reality -- but knowing more, in the vertical sense.

*****

By the way, while there is the sort of unreflective moonbattery in the book that one expects to see among the over-educated, it's not the flagrant kind, so I was somewhat surprised to discover that de Zengotita is a doctrinaire moonbat who contributes regularly to Huffingtonpost. The uncensored thoughts he displays there are so trite, shallow, and adolescent, and the writing so plain bad, that it makes me wonder how heavy a hand his editor had in writing the book. In any event, it is ironic that he is a victim of the sort of clichéd mass-media liberal groupthink that he analyzes in the book. It's almost as if he's brain-damaged, or channeling Garrison Keillor or Maureen Dowd.

A recent example of his thinking, what one call (-m), or an inverted version of the proper role of the mythic imagination:

"As an old-fashioned leftie I should be skeptical of a mere symbol, shouldn't I? Well, it depends. Obama is a very special symbol. He transcends the culture wars and identity politics simply in virtue of who he is.

[Andrew] Sullivan... emphasizes the impact of an Obama presidency on a world that now fears and despises us. Just the fact of it. Just the face. Just the name. At a stroke, America secures a new beginning -- in its own eyes as well. Nothing else could do it so decisively. So what if he's inexperienced? He's smart. He's a quick study. He'll listen to Dick Holbrooke and Joe Biden and he'll make those sensible, centrist decisions. He's no radical, he's shown that, Lord knows -- he'll be as deliberate and pragmatic in office as he's been in the campaign.

"It's not the policy, stupid, it's the symbolism. Obama actually embodies what he represents. That means he doesn't just represent change. He is change" [emphases mine].

With professors like this, is it any wonder that college students graduate with less wisdom than they had when they entered college?

*****

A heroic myth, like a dream or fairy tale, is particularly “unsaturated,” leaving considerable space for imaginative engagement with its narrative elements. If Koufax were playing today, the reality of his myth would be effaced by saturated media coverage of his every move, including those extra tight close-ups that intrusively force you to see every follicle in the player's nose, every vein in his eyeballs. de Zengotita cites the example of the New York fire fighters who attained heroic status through our imagining their very real selfless deeds, which, for the most part, no one actually saw. However this bubble burst for de Zengotita when he saw the official NYFD “Calendar of Heroes,” featuring photos of the firefighters stripped to the waist, seductively posing and “vogueing” for the camera. The mythic imagination was foreclosed and replaced by the mediated image. (I guess he hasn't seen the picture of a shirtless Obama frolicking on the beach.)

The central irony, according to de Zengotita, is that “we don’t have heroes because they are too real, representations of them are too rich and detailed. There is no space for our imaginations to occupy, no room for us to supply them with mythic life.” The mass media give us only a flattened realism devoid of reverence, depth, or dignity. Instead of heroes we have stars or celebrities, generally disreputable people such as Britney Spears, Madonna, or Paris Hilton, whose exploits we look at in the same way the ancient Greeks might have thought about their gods, who were actually not at all godlike. Rather, they were just like humans only worse -- more jealous, more envious, more lustful, more vengeful.

Likewise, in our day there has been a collapse of the vertical plane, so that the “higher” has been replaced by the lower writ large. In an age that absolutizes the relative and exalts the lower as "authenticity," it is much more difficult to have real heroes, for a real hero, whatever else he is, is never a relativist. Like George Bush, or Ronald Reagan, or Winston Churchill, they are in the service of an unwavering ideal. But today, unwavering commitment to a higher ideal is not called heroism but fanaticism or fascism, as in the case of President Bush. This inversion of principial truth is demanded by the logic of postmodern cynicism.

*****

Speaking of which, yesterday Dr. Sanity posted an excerpt of a recent interview with Henry Kissinger:

SPIEGEL: Isn’t German and European opposition to a greater military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq also a result of deep distrust of American power?

Kissinger: By this time next year, we will see the beginning of a new administration. We will then discover to what extent the Bush administration was the cause or the alibi for European-American disagreements. Right now, many Europeans hide behind the unpopularity of President Bush. And this administration made several mistakes in the beginning.
[…]
Kissinger: … But I do believe that George W. Bush has correctly understood the global challenge we are facing, the threat of radical Islam, and that he has fought that battle with great fortitude. He will be appreciated for that later.

SPIEGEL: In 50 years, historians will treat his legacy more kindly?

Kissinger: That will happen much earlier.

So you see, once the hyper-saturated media images of Bush's presidency are out of the way, we will be able to "see" his legacy much more clearly. At the moment, there is too much information that obscures our knowledge, too much knowledge that forecloses wisdom, and too many pictures that disable the imagination.

*****

In fact, most people can't even recognize a hero unless they somehow become a star -- think of Jessica Lynch -- but as soon as that happens, “they cannot compete with the real stars -- who are performers.” So President Bush can’t compete with Martin Sheen, any more than our troops in Iraq can compete with Hollywood images of warfare. It remains to be seen if McCain -- a hero in real life -- will be able to compete with wholly imagined (in the lower sense) heroism of Obama, who, for the willfully hypnotized and seduced, "doesn't just represent change. He is change."

This brings up a crucial point about the role of imagination in understanding reality. In a recent discussion of the “intelligent design” debate with an atheistic reader, he essentially dismissed any non-empirical reality as being analogous to belief in "pink fairies" (which hardly comes as a surprise, as this is precisely what atheists are condemned to believe as a result of their transcendental infirmity, or pneumapathology). Richard Weaver, in his classic Ideas Have Consequences, argued that it is a characteristic of the barbarian, in all times and places, to believe that it is possible to grasp reality -- the "raw stuff of life" -- “barehanded,” without any mediation by the higher imagination. This not only leads to an absence of understanding, but to the destruction of man as such. As a result, we are left with the “ravages of immediacy,” for without imagination, reality is simply a brute fact with nothing to spiritualize it. The world shrinks down to our simplest way -- animal way, really -- of knowing it, and with it, our souls constrict correspondingly.

In this regard, postmodern cynicism is provincialism of the worst sort, as it imagines that it is getting closer to the reality of things, when it is actually getting more and more distant -- like pulverizing a work of art into smaller and smaller parts to try to get at its meaning.

So the question is, what is more “real,” those beautiful heroic images I internalized of Abraham Lincoln when I was in grade school, or postmodern biographies that argue that he was a closet homosexual that didn’t care a fig about black people? The American founders as secular prophets leading the new children of Israel out of a decrepit Europe, or a bunch of selfish elitists (not to mention slaveholders!) looking after their own economic interests? The luminous Jesus presented in the gospels, so full of empty spaces to fill with the divine imagination, or the work of the Jesus seminarians who argue that he was a radical leftist fighting for social justice for the poor, just like Che Guevara? Sandy Koufax heroically refusing to pitch in the World Series on Yom Kippur, or the eccentric, media-shy recluse?

People generally don't realize that it is possible to substitute facts for truth, to replace the higher reality perceived by the intellect and imagination with the lower reality perceived by the senses. When that happens, we literally become “disoriented,” away from the center and toward the periphery of existence. Today we live in an age in which we are being invaded by vertical barbarians who would ruthlessly strip aside the veils of the imagination to try to get at what’s real, only to find that there is nothing there. Certainly nothing worth living or fighting for. No wonder they're so suspicious and even contemptuous of those who fight, since they know, deep down, that they are far superior to the deluded warriors who risk their lives to enrich Halliburton.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In War, Surrender. In Defeat, Apology. In Peace, Dhimmitude. In Victory... What's That?

In a recent Hillsdale Imprimus, Paul Johnson published a useful little primer on "What Great Statesmen Have to Teach Us." He writes that the foremost lesson is "the ability to see the world clearly, and to draw the right conclusions from what is seen," and then breaks this down into several areas.

Ideas and Beliefs: "The best kind of democratic leader has just a few -- perhaps three or four -- central principles to which he is passionately attached and will not sacrifice under any circumstances." One immediately sees the problem with Obama and the Clintons, for what do they actually believe in aside from socialized medicine, global warming, and appeasing our enemies? Bill Clinton may have been the most unprincipled president in history, and it is impossible to say what his wife actually believes.

And as for Obama, he doesn't seem to have any discernible philosophy except for the usual ad hoc leftism. I say ad hoc because American style leftism operates in a kind of helter skelter way, from the periphery toward the center. It is always concealing first principles that it never articulates, unlike conservatism, whose principles can be stated quite plainly: limited government, local control, low taxes, free markets, strong military, sovereignty, and judges who don't invent laws.

I suppose the problem is, no viable leftist, even if he privately believes it (Dennis Kucinich notwithstanding), can come out and say that his political philosophy revolves around a large and intrusive federal government, burdensome taxes, a state controlled economy, a weak military, appeasement of our enemies, open borders, and elites in black robes dictating constitutional law.

Johnson writes that he is not impressed "by leaders who have definite views on everything. History teaches it is a mistake to have too many convictions, held with equal certitude and tenacity. They crowd each other out. A great leader is someone who can distinguish between the essential and the peripheral -- between what must be done and what is merely desirable." He cites the example of Margaret Thatcher, who, similar to Ronald Reagan, had only three core "musts": "uphold the rule of law at home and abroad; keep government activities to a minimum, and so taxes low; encourage individuals to do as much as they can, as well as they can."

Willpower: The decisive quality of willpower has to do with the ability to make one's principles a reality. Thus, "a politician can have immense intelligence and all the other virtues, but if will is lacking he is nothing." It is fair to say that most politicians have abundant willpower, but I suppose the question is whether this power derives from mere narcissism -- the will to power -- or from a higher source -- the will to serve. I can't even imagine the stamina, drive, and discipline it must take to campaign for president day after day, month after dreary month. Personally, I'd die of boredom, mustering all that fake emotion and making the same stupid speech to the same slack-jawed crowds. It would be like having to be an actor in a bad play for two years, except that the play lasts 16 hours a day.

This is what is so off-putting about the Clintons. Yes, their will to power is impressive, but what's behind it? What actually drives them? Likewise, what actually motivates Obama? He pretends that it has to do with "unity" and "ending divisiveness," but these are bizarre sentiments coming from one of the most far-left politicians in American life. To the extent that he actually believes his own speeches, it only goes to show how out of touch with reality he is.

Obviously, willpower cuts both ways. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Castro all seized and maintained power entirely through the force of their personal will. "Mao's overwhelming will, we now know, led to the deaths of 70 million fellow Chinese. The cost of a misdirected will is almost unimaginably high." Thus, "those three or four simple central beliefs behind the will" had better be "right and morally sound."

Once in power, Bill Clinton proved to have willpower, but it was again a kind of scattered and "flighty" will that was easily derailed and distracted, typical of the American left. As such, he required constant polling of the mood of the country in order to sense where to direct his will. His principles -- to the extent that he had any -- were insufficient to motivate his will. This is reminiscent of the narcissistic but charismatic actor who feeds off the applause of the crowd, which gives him a faux sense of being, but who shrivels to nothing when the curtain is drawn.

As such, Johnson says that mere willpower is insufficient. Rather, it "must be organically linked to resolution, a determination to so see the cause through at all costs." Washington during our eight year war for independence, Lincoln in the struggle to preserve the nation, Churchill during the dark days of World War II -- each displayed patience, doggedness, pertinacity, resolution and even obstinacy. President Bush has shown all of these traits with regard to Iraq, and it remains to be seen whether they will pay off. But to openly flaunt their opposites as if they are virtues, as do the Democrat candidates -- impatience, weakness, and irresolution -- will most certainly yield immediate results, in that they will reward the patience, doggedness, pertinacity, resolution and obstinacy of our enemies.

Next is the ability to communicate. "The value of possessing a few simple ideas which are true and workable is enormously enhanced if the leader can put them across with equal simplicity." Interestingly, unlike Lincoln, whose words conveyed remarkable power, Washington was said to have been a rather unskilled speaker. Nevertheless, his physical bearing was such that he was able to communicate more with his personality, demeanor, and physical presence. This reminds me of something Schuon wrote about souls of great spiritual attainment, who are able to embody and reflect the "unmoved mover" within.

If there is one thing that does impress me about Obama, it is this. At least superficially, he seems to be rather unflappable, and I think people respond to this. He is quite natural and at ease. If he's faking it, he's doing an awfully good job of it. In this regard, he is the polar opposite of a Richard Nixon, who never seemed comfortable in his own skin.

But again, the question is, what is at the center of that unmoved mover? I'm not in any way comparing them to Obama, but Stalin and Mao were also preternaturally unflappable as they sent millions to their death. It's almost as of there is a spiritual peace that flows from the divine center, but a counterfeit version that emanates from a center that is "dead," so to speak. You often see this in great athletes. You wonder how they can maintain their poise under incredibly stressful circumstances, until you hear them interviewed after the game and say to yourself, "ahh, that's how. Just be so stupid that you don't have any thoughts that get in the way."

The final virtue that Johnson discusses is magnanimity, or "greatness of soul." This one is difficult to define, but it is what "makes one warm to its possessor." For example, "we not only respect and like, we love Lincoln because he had it to an unusual degree. It was part of his inner being." I again can't help thinking that Obama radiates a counterfeit version of this virtue. Obviously, his supporters respond to him just as if he is a great soul.

But this would be difficult to maintain in light a quote by Churchill, that he felt embodied the great statesman: "In war, resolution. In defeat, defiance. In victory, magnanimity. In peace, good will." Because for Obama, it would read, "In war, surrender. In defeat, apology. In peace, dhimmitude. In victory... what's that?"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Doing Battle with Hope Fiends, Crockheads, and Moonbatshiners (3.21.09)

Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. --Ezra Klein, blogging under the influence

A black man with a white mother became a savior to us. A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall.... This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better.... If you look at Barack Obama's audiences and look at the effect of his words, those people are being transformed. --Calypso Louis

Continuing with our analysis of the Devil Card, Unknown Friend (UF) writes that the excesses of the left are always "owing to an intoxication of the will and imagination which engenders demons." For example, if Marx and Engels had merely behaved as good Jews or Christians and "simply defended the interests of the industrial workers without having let themselves be carried away by their intoxicated imagination," then they wouldn't have been so very destructive. After all, every normal person wants to help the poor and needy, but helping them at the end of a gun, as the left always want us to do, renders any spiritual benefit inoperative for both parties.

Moreover, the left always couches their supposed empathy for the downtrodden in fantastically broad and sweeping generalizations of historical "and even cosmic significance, such as the statement that God does not exist, that all religion is is only the 'opium of the people,' [and] that all ideology is only a superstructure on the basis of material interests." It is no different today, with the intoxication that fuels and pervades the Obama campaign:

"What we hear from Obama is the eternal mantra of the socialists; America is broken, millions have no health care, families cannot afford necessities, the rich are evil, we are selfish, we are unhappy, unfulfilled, without hope, desperate, poverty stricken, morally desolate, corrupt and racist. This nihilism is the lifeblood of all the democrat candidates, even 'hope you can believe in' performers like Obama. When Michelle Obama claims she is only newly proud of her country, she does not exaggerate. In her world as in Obama's, they believe we are a mess, a land filled with the ignorant and unenlightened, filled with despair" (Fairchok).

Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes, not divine, but demonic. --Pope Benedict XVI

As UF writes, it is always a "matter of excess -- a going beyond the limits of competence and sober and honest knowledge," which the left never doubts, "having been carried away by the intoxicating impulse of radicalism, i.e. by a fever of the will and imagination to change everything utterly at a single stroke."

It used to be said of alcoholism that that you can't drown your sorrows because they learn how to swim. The odd thing about the left is that the purpose of their intoxication is not to drown their sorrows but to deny their blessings. Because if one looks at the plain facts in a sober and detached way, we cannot help seeing that, as Fairchok writes,

"Our economy bustles along, with inevitable ups and downs, but remains strong. Americans live better than ever before. As a nation, we live in the best of times, a place that the rest of humanity covets. We did this by the sweat of our brows and the energy of our people. We have more education, more luxury, more life options, more of everything good and far less of everything bad, less disease, less poverty and less struggle than ever before. We have prosperity, we have employment, we have technology. Hope is what America is all about; hope that has every expectation of success. Consider the millions that are desperate to get here. Even our poor have cars, appliances and entertainments. Our concern for them is not hunger but obesity. Never before in the history of mankind has this contradiction existed."

And it is the fever dream of sweeping existential change that animates the left no less than the Islamists. As Lee Harris has written, a fantasy ideology such as Islamism is obviously not a rational response to the world arrived at in a logical, sober manner. Rather, it is a transformative belief, meaning that its primary purpose is to psychologically transform the person who believes the fantasy. And believing the fantasy is an end in itself -- it has no purpose other than to make the fantasy seem like reality -- like it might actually happen. Therefore, the real reason for 9-11 wasn't actually to bring down western civilization. Rather, it was for the Islamists to deepen their fantasy by getting us to play along with it.

Likewise, anyone with a basic familiarity with economics knows that leftist ideas don't just fail, but backfire. They cause all sorts of unintended consequences that the leftist never connects to the original policy -- e.g., how the welfare state eroded the structure of the black family, how racial quotas inevitably harm blacks, how rent control causes housing shortages, or how subsidizing higher education simply drives up the cost. "Progressivism is the wish to eliminate effects without wishing to eliminate their causes..." (Schuon).

Now, UF explains that the virtue of temperence protects us from the intoxicating counter-inspiration of radical fantasies -- including religious fantasies, such as the Inquisition. Remember, there was a time not too long ago when there was no "secular sphere," so that these demonic trends necessarily expressed themselves within the heart of the Church. As such, it is foolish to blame religion for something that is wholly manmade.

UF makes the subtle point that one cannot engender a positive egregore, or collective mind parasite. This is related to the principle that the mind parasite is an effect of "congealed" or "coagulated" psychic energy. As a result, it always "enfolds," whereas the good radiates. The former is an inward, contracting movement, whereas the latter is an expansive, radiant movement. This may sound overly abstract, but we are all familiar with the closed world of the left, whether it is their elite university campuses or the parochial and hidebound pages of the New York Times. If you approach these things with your activated cOOnvision, you can literally experience them as a sort of dense, black hole of inverse radiation.

Now, why did people respond to, say, Ronald Reagan? For the opposite reason -- the intrinsically unlimited radiant positive energy of which he was a mere vehicle. This only became more apparent when placed side by side with Jimmy Carter's withered and constipated presence.

I suppose the novel thing about Obama is that he is selling the same constipation, but with a kind of cheap and meretricious radiation that one must be intoxicated to appreciate. Indeed, as Fairchok writes,

"That is his appeal; he is [ironically] an actor, a performer, a cinematic presence that stirs simple emotions, emotions that have little grounding in truth. His speeches are the inane lyrics to a popular song that endures only because it has a great beat. One must not think to deeply on what Obama says, for it turns to smoke and disappears in the light of day. Ezra Klein is correct, Obama's speeches do not inform, they pander, they propagandize, they harmonize with the mythology of despair and the chimera of entitlement. As his hagiographies proclaim, he represents a new Camelot, but one that does not hold America quite so precious, a Camelot of globalists, moral relativists and communitarians."

Now, how to drive out a demon? Easy. As UF explains, "Light drives out darkness. This simple truth is the practical key to the problem of how to combat demons. A demon perceived, i.e. on whom the light of consciousness is thrown, is already a demon rendered impotent.... A demon rendered impotent is a deflated balloon."

The lords of Falsehood hold, at present, almost complete sway over poor humanity. Not only the lower life-energy, the lower vital being, but also the whole mind of man accepts them. Countless are the ways in which they are worshipped, for they are more subtle in their cunning and seek their ends in variously seductive disguises. The result is that men cling to their falsehood as if it were a treasure, cherishing it more than even the most beautiful things of life. Apprehensive of its safety, they take care to bury it deep down in themselves; but unless they take it out and surrender it to the Divine they will never find true happiness.

Indeed the very act of bringing it out and showing it to the Light would be in itself a momentous conversion and pave the way to the final victory. For the laying bare of each falsehood is in itself a victory -- each acknowledgment of error is the demolition of one of the lords of Darkness.
--The Mother, Conversations on Yoga