Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Political Science is Settled!

Today at American Thinker there is an interesting piece on the dichotomy in "African American" life between what might be called the liberal descendants of Booker T. Washington and leftist spawn of W.E.B. DuBois. Unfortunately, the author makes a fundamental error in suggesting that Obama's split from Wright is an example of this dichotomy, but otherwise the analysis is sound, and probably even deeper than the author realizes, since it is rooted in cosmic realities, not mere political or manmade ones.

(I see that they've already published a letter from a reader, correctly pointing out that Obama and Wright are in reality "two sides of the same coin, whereas Washington and DuBois were on entirely different coins in manifestly different currencies. Obama is the lipstick on the pig of socialism. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. Wright merely represents unadorned socialism. There is not much to differentiate the two. I would rather liken Wright and Obama to Lenin and Trotsky, fighting about details and appearances, yet seeking the same goal.")

This is indeed the Raccoon view. It becomes especially obvious when one listens to the words of Barack's bitter half,* Michelle Obama, the Queen of Soullessness. I'm sure her whining ways are vetted and approved by the campaign; she is the roiling id to Obama's smooth and superficial ego. (*I'm afraid that Michelle Malkin came up with that one before I could think of it.)

As a brief aside or possibly prelude or even coda, I can, to a certain extent, wimpathize with my critics who are drawn to my spiritual ideas but who detest my politics. For one thing, when one discusses politics in a spiritual context, one must be exceedingly careful to do so as a "prolongation" of the spiritual -- of intrinsically true vertical ideas reflected in the horizontal. One must never misuse perennial truth to "put lipstick on a pig" and to legitimize views that are entirely at odds with spiritual reality. One must be especially careful not to derive metaphysical truth from empirical reality, much less from the shifting political winds of the day, otherwise you end up sounding as trite and silly as, say, Alan Watts. For every sound thing Watts ever said or wrote, he said something else that makes a sensible person cringe.

Likewise, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was in many ways a brilliant philosopher, but what is one to think when one comes across the following insanity: "There is no doubt in Radhakrishnan's mind that violence and democracy are incompatible. He has therefore condemned in unequivocal terms the use of violence for the solution of any human problem." Or "Radhakrishna has always been a critic of capitalism; for he sees it as incompatible with democracy.... In his view capitalism is morally dangerous because it permits and encourages the growth of large disparities between the haves and have-nots," etc. Like virtually every innumerate leftist before and since, he believed in "zero-sum economics," which I believe is genetically programmed into us, since we evolved in small bands in which it was adaptive to be a "communist." But that was 50,000 years ago. Time to move on.

A contemporary example of this phenomenon might be, say, someone who argues that God approves of abortion because he is the author of our freedom and therefore wishes for women to do whatever they want with "their" bodies. Here you can see how a timeless spiritual truth is bent to a demonic end. This happens all the time. To a large extent, the left misuses the value of intellectual freedom -- which can only be rooted in a spiritual perception of its human necessity as a "mirror of truth" -- to undermine the very conditions for the intellect to operate. For example, the problem with political correctness is not just that it enforces error and constrains thought, but that it systematically undermines the very context in which truth can be spoken and heard.

I am often disappointed when I read a work by person of some genuine spiritual attainment, only to have the experience tainted or ruined by their delving into the temporal concerns of the day, in such a way that it makes them look like a dullard or a knave. When this happens, you cannot help thinking to yourself, "how bright could this person be?," or even questioning their spiritual insights. Prior to even thirty years ago, it was common for spiritual writers to embrace some form of Marxism, which ends up making them look like asses, dupes, and useful idiots in hindsight.

But this problem is obviously still endemic to the "new age" and "integral" movements, which can trace their provenance to the counter-cultural movement of the 1950s and '60s, so that to this day they are full of neo-Marxist babble, anti-capitalist rhetoric, pacifism, anti-Americanism, environmental hysteria, liberation theology, internationalism instead of patriotism, "sexual liberation," and the radical feminist and homosexual agendas. None of this has anything to do with prolonging the vertical into the horizontal; rather, it attempts to reduce the vertical to a narrow horizontal political agenda which is based on power, narcissism, and metaphysical ignorance, and is necessarily anti-human.

In the American Thinker piece, Taylor writes that "Every Black American is either Washington or Dr. DuBois. He either aspires to self-reliance, or feeds off white guilt. He either proactively affirms himself, or he perpetually reacts against his imagined white master."

As we have noted before, "left" and "right" are not complementarities but opposites, in that classical liberalism is essentially true, while leftism is essentially false. Likewise, as Taylor writes, "Washington's philosophy of self-reliance and Dr. DuBois' sophisticated resentment are contradictions, not contraries. One is true and the other is false. For the modes of existence available to Black America -- self-help or protest -- are not mutually inclusive, like yin or yang. Black existential choice comes down to Washington or Dr. DuBois."

In Washington's case, he "established the prototype for modern Black civilization. His school encouraged enterprise and industry.... He understood that property rights, to wit 'life, liberty and property,' are the soul of citizenship; that protection of property is the US government's basic purpose. He designed his educational system and economic policy to build a nation within a nation of property-owners."

Conversely, DuBois "dismissed Washington's emphasis on property rights as a sellout. He libeled the Black capitalist as an 'Uncle Tom.'" DuBois discarded capitalist enterprise "in favor of protest." DuBois's followers "resent their liberal white masters. But they most passionately hate the Black who would master the universe. They exemplify the crabs that Washington once described, jealously combining to pull back into the barrel the one crab that would climb out." As such, a great man such as Clarence Thomas is despised by these people, while they simply ignore a man of genius such as Thomas Sowell.

Anyway, when I discuss politics, I try to do so by relying upon intrinsically true cosmic principles that can have no expiration date. One such principle -- from which all other political principles must flow -- is that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Once you reject this principle, all kinds of political mischief follow.

I'd better stop now. Need to get some work done.

The Man can't stop us on the road to freedom:

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

♫ Michelle, Dumbbell, These Are Words That Go Together Well ♪

I would prefer to write about a happier subject than Michelle Obama -- and few subjects are more unhappy -- but I just can't get her dumb-as-a-stump speech out of my mind. Hugh Hewitt was playing it on the radio yesterday afternoon, so I heard parts of it on the drive home from work. It was an odd juxtaposition. Driving up the coast, to the left of me, the beautiful blue Pacific. But further to the left of me, the bluest waves of bleak rhetoric you'll ever hear coming out of the piehole of a would-be first lady.

I'm just kidding about the "dumbbell" crack, of course. I don't really believe Michelle is stupid. Rather, I believe she's psycho. To put it another way, never mark something down to stupidity when it is much more easily explained by mental illness. Hewitt took some callers during the speech, and to a person, everyone thought she was not just deranged, but palpably disturbing in a way that only an unhinged person can be, since they are leaking their mind parasites all over the place, to such an extent that they are the last person to notice them. As the PowerLine boys put it, "she is woefully deficient in the ability to see herself as others see her."

One caller remarked that if Obama can't even cheer up his morbidly depressed and paranoid wife, how is he supposed to lift the nation's mood? Put Zoloft in the drinking water?

I wish I had a full text of the speech, so I could fisk it line by line. (Hewitt's website has the link to it, but don't listen to it if you are vulnerable to depression.) As Hewitt writes, "This is the rhetoric of resentment and victimization.... [T]he radio audience reacted with a combination of astonishment and anger. Michelle Obama discounts all the good that is going on in the country, skips over the deep generosity of Americans, and ignores the astonishing economic and social progress made in the U.S. since the close of W.W. II, as she indicts [every] aspect of American life. Her very grim vision chills those who do not share it, which I guess to be the 'vast majority' of Americans."

You just have to be so ahistorically narcissistic to share Obama's bleak vision of the United States. Your mind has to essentially circle in a tight spiral around your own myopia and provincialism, so that it is simultaneously petty, and yet, grandiose and presumptuous. Far from having doors closed to her, this is a woman who has probably never been confronted and brought down a peg, one of the sad legacies of white liberal guilt. This is the very reason why left wing black "thinkers" tend not just to be such cringeworthy mediocrities, but downright embarrassments, such as Cornell West, whereas conservative black thinkers such as Thomas Sowell or Shelby Steele are as brilliant as they come. The left systematically substitutes compassion for standards, which is not a recipe for excellence, to say the least.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with race and everything to do with it, in that left wing ideology systematically rots the mind, but especially in more vulnerable communities (Dennis Prager also discusses this in a column today). In other words, it doesn't so much harm a tenured white leftist professor (at least economically) to adhere to his pathological views, since he's got a lifetime gig at our expense. The people who suffer from the white leftist's dysfunctional ideas are the underclass -- even if they are upper class, like Barack and Michelle, who certainly prove that poverty is not just a state of mind, but more importantly, a state of the soul. When white liberals sneeze their viral ideas, urban blacks catch a head cold. They publish and blacks perish.

I am reminded of P.J. O'Rourke's "graduation speech," in which he mocks those who complain that "Some people make more money than others. Some are rich while others are poor. We'd better close that 'income disparity gap.' It's not fair!"

"Well, I am here to advocate for unfairness. I've got a 10-year-old at home. She's always saying, 'That's not fair.' When she says this, I say, 'Honey, you're cute. That's not fair. Your family is pretty well off. That's not fair. You were born in America. That's not fair. Darling, you had better pray to God that things don't start getting fair for you.'"

That's what I want to say to Michelle Obama: Damn right, life isn't fair. It's not fair that someone as dense as you attended Harvard law school. It's not fair that you pull down $$273,618 for being a "vice president of community and external affairs," whatever that is. It's not fair that that crook Tony Rezko sold you that prime lot at such a discount. It's not fair that the liberal media are in the tank for your husband. It's not fair that he's going to surrender to our enemies, placing me and my family in jeopardy. It's not fair that American blacks are the most wealthy and prosperous the world has ever known. And most of all, it's not fair that your husband made a million bucks from his vacuous book, The Audacity of Hope, but Gagdad Bob hasn't even seen a royalty check for his spiritual classic!

There is also some incisive analysis at PowerLine: "Michelle Obama seethes with bitterness. While she preaches the gospel according to Barack, she wears resentment and bitterness on her sleeve. It is therefore painful to listen to her. She's apparently even still angry about her SAT scores. She didn't test well in school, she explains. Somehow, she has overcome.

"Mrs. Obama seeks to convey convey the impression -- she expands on the theme at great length -- that Senator Obama's campaign is, to borrow Joe McCarthy's formulation, the victim of 'a conspiracy so immense...' It is not clear whether the Obama campaign can overcome the power of these sinister forces.

"According to Mrs. Obama, the Obama campaign has been constrained by nameless forces constantly changing the rules of the game and thereby preventing Senator Obama from securing the nomination. Who are 'they'?... 'They' seem... (incredibly) to include the mainstream media. These nameless forces have approximately the same specificity as the names on Joe McCarthy's list."

As an example of how clueless Michelle is about her projections, one of the central themes of her speech is how frightened Americans are, and how Obama is going to somehow heal this. But if America is controlled by the dark, conspiratorial forces of her imagination, we have every reason to be frightened, and no reason to believe that Obama is equipped to take on an enemy so simultaneously nebulous and ubiquitous.

In this regard, her cognition has the exact structure of a clinical paranoid -- big on generalities, short on specifics. Rather, the paranoid just knows that someone is out to get them. Furthermore, if you don't agree with them, you're one of the people who is out to get them. You are inducted into the conspiracy. So there's your proof that it exists!

In an amazing display of unintentional irony on stilts, Michelle accuses the rest of us of "victimizing our children" with our bleak and frightening world view. This from a woman who deliberately exposed her own children to the hateful ravings of a racist conspiracy monger week after week, in the one place that should be free of such poison!

The Obama's campaign slogan ought to be, We Didn't Make It, And So Can't You! At NRO, Yuval Levin writes of The Unhappiest Millionaire, and her weirdly nostalgic, dystopian and dyspeptic vision:

"In fact, a great bulk of Mrs. Obama’s speech is devoted to nostalgia for a simpler time -- an odd approach for a progressive, yet an altogether common one on the left today. She describes a steady downward path from that golden age of distant memory. 'We know where we’re living,' she tells the slightly confused audience, 'this is where we are right now, and this has been the case for my entire lifetime: that trajectory of hope has gotten more difficult for regular folks.'”

What. Is. She. Talking. About.

"This view of America has been a real problem for the Left in the Bush years. As the liberal labor economist Stephen Rose has put it, 'What progressives generally say about the economy is unrelentingly pessimistic -- stagnant wages, rising costs, overwhelming burdens of debt. It’s a message that doesn’t resonate with the middle class -- not only because it’s overly negative (by itself political poison), but because it’s simply flat out wrong.”

Byron York also has some good analysis. The left always uses and abuses children for political purposes, and he describes a particularly vivid and disturbing example:

"[Michelle] tells the story of a ten-year-old girl she met in Newberry, S.C., before that state’s primary.... After the rally, the girl came up to her and said, with great seriousness, 'Do you realize when your husband becomes the next president of the United States, it will be historical?'

"Everybody laughs; what a cute thing for a child to say. But then Obama asked the little girl what that would mean for her. 'It means that I can imagine anything for myself,' the girl said.

"The crowd begins to applaud; they think they’re hearing a happy, inspiring story. But that’s not where Mrs. Obama is going.

“'And then that little girl started to break down in tears,' she continues. 'She sobbed so hard. She was crying big, huge tears. And I had to think, why is this little girl crying so hard? And I thought, you know what’s going on? This little old girl gets it.”

“This little ten-year-old girl knows what’s at stake. She knows that she’s already five steps behind.... She knows that her hopes for college are already dwindling.... She knows that if she gets sick, maybe has an asthma attack, instead of going to a doctor and being treated, she’s going to be sitting in an emergency room for hours on end.'”

Again, this is not a stump speech. This is a cry for psychological help. Why on earth would you steal the innocence of your children and indoctrinate them with any political ideology, let alone this deeply depressing, hopeless, fearful, and defeatist view of the world? Indeed, one of the main responsibilities of a parent is to shield your children from such concerns until they are old enough to be "disillusioned" by the world. For in order to cope with the rigors of adulthood and deal with its inevitable disappointments and frustrations, we need to internalize a deep well of love, trust, and security from our parents, otherwise we will spend the rest of our lives searching for the Lost Entitlement of Childhood.

Which it certainly appears that Michelle is doing. She is in essence inflicting her own childhood on the rest of us. Hey, I didn't say it. She did. For this little girl -- who is "suffocating under a veil of impossibility" -- is "in all of us."

Speak for yourself, Michelle. You're confusing projection and empathy, condescension and compassion.


Such a different vibe from just a generation ago, when Aretha could sing with such positivity of being

Young, gifted and black / Oh what a lovely precious dream / In the whole world you know / There are billion of boys and girls / Who are young, gifted and black / And thats a fact!

So saith the First Lady of Soul. So cheer up, Michelle. Forget what they told you at Harvard. You're not young, shafted and black!

When you feel really low / Yeah, there's a great truth you should know / When you're young, gifted and black / Your soul's intact!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Highlighting the Highest Light

For when the light of God shines, the human light sets. --Philo

By light we lose light. --Shakespeare

Nothing in particular popped into my head to write about this morning. I was just flipping through The Spiritual Ascent, trolling for an inspirational germ of an idea for an idea, and in so doing, a few thoughts occurred to me. At this point, I'm up to page 521, or about halfway through. I've completed Book One, which --

D'oh! Just spilled my coffee. I guess someone doesn't want me to post this morning. Got some on the book, too. Symbolic, perhaps -- an alchemical procedure to activate and "wake up" the dormant knowledge in a book about waking up.

Anyway, I've completed Book One, which has -- here, I'll count -- two main subsections, Sacrifice-Death and Combat-Action; in turn, those two subsections have seven and nine categories, respectively; and then each of those categories has at least half a dozen additional topics. As I said, it's organized like a fractal, in that it exhibits "pattern across scale," just like the living cosmos itself. Wheels within wheels within wheels.

What's my point? Well, first of all, some of these topics naturally interest me more than others. Some sections are thick with my highlighting, while others were passed over without provoking much of a response in me. In fact, there were some topics I didn't care for at all, mostly the ones on damnation, hellfire, and that sort of thing.

Still, I would estimate that a good 1/3 of the book is highlighted so far. I have a sort of informal coding system, in that some passages have asterisks, others have exclamation points, and some have a mark in the upper left corner of the page, which means REREAD LATER! THIS IS IMPORTANT! This allows me to rapidly distill the essence of a book for later coonsultation.

My first point is this. If an atheist were to read this book -- well, first of all, I don't see how an atheist could get through it or why they would even try, anymore than I could get through a calculus textbook consisting of nothing but esoteric equations. I could flip the pages, but I would just be pretending to understand. It would contain no highlighting, because nothing beyond the dedication page would mean anything to me. (Which reminds me of an unintentional joke; a while back, a famous mathematician died, and one of his colleagues eulogized him by saying that "his contribution to mathematics was incalculable." Somewhere, Gödel is laughing.)

But just because I couldn't understand the calculus book, it hardly means that a qualified person couldn't, including, of course, the author. So, let's say I picked up a used copy of the calculus book, with someone else's highlights. This would prove to me that the book not only made sense, but that it made sense to someone in particular. Or, I could be like an atheist and write a review of the book, in which I explain how it actually makes no sense at all, regardless of whether anyone else thinks it communicates deep meaning to them.

Now, I buy a fair amount of used books, and sometimes they contain the highlights of the previous owner. Without fail, I am always surprised by what they highlighted. Sometimes I think, "why did he highlight that? Everyone knows that." Other times I will think, "why did he think that was important? He missed the whole point of the passage." It's even worse when there are marginalia. That's when you really gain insight into the former owner's mental make-up. That's when you say to yourself, "what a moron. No wonder they sold the book."

Anyway, as I was saying, The Spiritual Ascent is full of my highlights. But in virtually every instance, the highlight signifies that "this is something I already know to be true," but perhaps expressed in a particularly beautiful, novel, or effective way. Other times I am struck at the manner in which a truth from one tradition is precisely mirrored in another. And other times I might be astonished at how what I thought was an original idea of my own, was actually thought by someone else 1,000 or 2,000 years ago.

In short, it is much more an exercise in vertical recollection than anything else, of reinforcing what I have independently discovered to be true. This is always the case in genuine spiritual truth, where there can be no true novelty or innovation, only an increasingly adequate grasp of the pre-existent Real, as it successively reveals more of itself.

But the main point is that I understand. And I understand not just this or that particular passage, but I understand the entire realm from which the passages emanate. Please, don't get me wrong -- I am not suggesting I am omniscient, or anything like that. I am not Petey. Rather, I am making a much more modest claim, which is really no different than when one of you readers out there think to yourself, "I understand what Bob is writing about." It means that, to the extent that you understand, there is something real that corresponds to your understanding, both external to you, and, more importantly within you.

In other words, let's say an atheist rifles through my liberary, plucks The Spiritual Ascent from my bookcase with his grubby, heathen fingers, and flips through it. Naturally, none of it makes any sense to him, any more than the calculus book makes sense to me. As such, the book should properly contain no highlighting, since it is literally void of any valid knowledge to be had. In that regard, even the Bible, or the Tao, or the Upanishads are "empty sets," so to speak, just elaborate linguistic parentheses around nothing.

So the atheist will have to be a bit puzzled to see so much highlighting in a book about nothing. In order to maintain his atheism, what are his options? Somehow he will need to devalue or invalidate my understanding, and show that I haven't really understood anything at all. Rather, I might think I understand, but that is strictly impossible, since you can't have valid knowledge about something that doesn't exist, i.e., transnatural reality. But then, I could say the same about him -- that he is simply elevating his ignorance to a virtue and calling it knowledge.

An additional problem for the atheist is that much spiritual writing is intentionally obscure (even while being luminously so), in order to protect it from being misused and misinterpreted by the unqualified -- which the atheist is, by his own proud admission. Therefore, it makes it all the easier for someone to reject it as nonsense. In fact, The Spiritual Ascent (naturally) anticipates this, as it has a whole section devoted to this problem, i.e., Give not that which is holy unto the trolls, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet...

Epicetus: The written doctrines of philosophy, if poured into the dirty and defiled vessel of a false and debased mind, are altered, changed, and spoilt, and turn to urine or anything fouler than that. Indeed, do our trolls not teach us the lesson of King Midas in reverse?

Romans: Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man...

Udana: ...[T]he mighty ocean consorts not with a dead body; for when a dead body is found in the mighty ocean, it quickly wafts it ashore, throws it up on the shore...

Get it? The secret protects itself, always. O deflects the living dead and turns them to Ø. Only the dead-and-reborn may swim in the living waters of O.

For it is absurd that a man should be forbidden to enter the temples save after bathing and cleansing his body, and yet should attempt to pray and sacrifice with a heart still soiled and spotted. --Plato

If the cask is to hold wine, its water must first be poured out. --Meister Eckhart

He must increase, but I must decrease. --John 3:30

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Circles that You Grind, in Darkmills of Your Mind

A post from May '06. But remember, each weekly reflux is edited for the first time, with bolus gagging inserted for the alert eater, so chew carefully!


It is fascinating that in the near future, this whole musical realm may be a ghost town. All the beauty of generations will still be there, but no one will be able to appreciate it. There are probably spiritual paths that have been similarly deserted. Portals closed forever, once opening into rich, elaborately carved realms of the soul. There the faithful would receive blessing and wisdom, but now only silence and dust reigns. Even the paths to the timeless may be lost in time. "Use it or lose it." --Magnus Itland

The best ideas are so deceptively simple -- for example, complexity theory -- that we can fail to properly appreciate them. As such, they must be repeatedly discovered, lest one continue mindlessly searching after truth. The lower mind -- I have problems with the word, but let’s just call it the ego -- doesn’t really care about truth per se. Insofar as its cognition is concerned, its function, as Sri Aurobindo noted, is to grind. Put anything in front of it -- a TV screen, a cereal box, or worse yet, a newspaper -- and it will simply grind away like a... like a grinding vacuum cleaner.

But in order to truly think productively, it is necessary to throw some timeless truth into the mixMaster. Perennial truth is like the yeast that allows the bread to rise, or the axis around which our mind orients itself and spirals upward. It is clearly of a different order than the limited truths available to our natural reason.

For example, when I get my taxes done, I try to remind my obsessive-compulsive, anal-retentive accountant -- who clearly understands the dreary mathematical truth -- that there is a higher truth which he must always keep at the forefront of his mind: that my taxes are too high, regardless of what his unforgiving calculator says. "Steve, it's not all black-and-white. You and I must creatively work together, left brain and right, to find the true amount I owe to the wasteful and inefficient government."

Many people -- many very smart people -- spend their entire lives searching after truth, even after they’ve found it. For some reason, truth alone does not satisfy the ego. It enjoys the horizontal chase, not the vertical plumbing of its depths. But since ultimate truth is not found in the horizontal, predictable consequences arise for the vertically exiled ego in its dark journey Down a hollow to a cavern / Where the sun has never shone.

Because we all long for Truth. Human beings are intrinsically epistemophilic and are clearly as driven to acquire transcendental truth as they are to obtain food, sex, and slack. It is what makes us human. But if you foreclose the vertical, you will attempt to find ultimate truth in the horizontal, which is strictly impossible. You will simply create a “graven image,” a horizontal substitute for the real thing, such as materialism, behaviorism, scientism, leftism, atheism, etc.

For example, a person who describes himself as a “political junkie” is usually just that, someone who greedily partakes of the 24 hour “all you can eat” news buffet of buffoonery, which only results in mental bloating and spiritual flatulence.

Now, the mind literally metabolizes truth, both in its horizontal and vertical sense. The analogy with digestion is fairly exact, something emphasized by Bion. Our minds are first of all open systems that exchange information (and affect, which is a kind of subtle or gross information, depending) with the environment and with other minds. But believe it or not, there are mental anorexics, people who refuse to take anything in, since they value control over truth, and want to "be their own breast." This is actually one of the main impediments to growth in psychotherapy.

Even that word -- growth -- have you ever thought about what it implies about the mind? What exactly grows? What is it made of? Does it just get bigger? Or more differentiated? What does it need in order to grow? What are the vitamins and enzymes it requires? Are certain things toxic to it? Is the growth predictable and built in, like a biological organism? What and where does it grow into? In other words, does it have an edge? What’s on the other side of the edge? Can our minds objectively discern the difference between a mind that is “grown up” vs. one that is immature or stunted?

Psychotherapy -- and the possibility of mental/emotional growth in general -- cannot really begin until the mind has become an open system and the patient can “take in” the relationship with the therapist. For when our emotional or intellectual (not to say, spiritual) growth is blocked, it is almost always because we have become a closed system in some form or fashion. I believe it was Winnicott who said that in order to be cured, we must first cure ourselves of our own attempt at self-cure -- in other words, we must go from being a closed to an open system, with particular emphasis on openness to emotional truth in the case of psychoanalysis. In the case of spirituality, we must become an open system with you-know-who on the vertical plane.

But once we allow truth in, we must also chew, swallow, digest and metabolize, so that it may become woven into our very psychic substance. I think you can see the problem that arises if we are immersed in a world of falsehood, either partial or total -- say the horizontal world of the secular left or the reverse vertical world of Islamic totalitarianism. In those cases, our minds can be open systems, but what are they open to?

Again, the normal mind will hungrily take in whatever is around it, and it will even grow, after a fashion, in the same way that a palm tree might grow near the arctic or a pine tree at the equator. In the case of the mind, since it can’t get what it really needs, it will demand more of what it doesn’t need in order to make up the difference. But one is not enough and a hundred is too many when you partake of the satanic eucharist. Or so we have heard from Petey, the wise, the merciful!

This is why we have so many fools with Ph.D.s (in the case of the West) or demons with theological training (as in the Islamic world). Since Truth is either rejected (in the case of the former) or unavailable (in the case of the latter), these hungry ghosts end up with a very bad case of spiritual malnutrition. They know something is wrong. But their prescription is more of the same.

So you can spend your entire life in a bloodless and irony-poor acadanemic setting pursuing “women’s studies,” or “queer theory,” or “behavioral psychology,” or “analytic philosophy,” and never come into contact with Truth. Rather, you just bore tunnels within tunnels in the windmills of your mind.

In fact, the most important Truth -- the Truth that makes lesser truths possible -- is generally not even permitted on college campuses. Or at least it is never discussed openly, except perhaps in a substitiously cynical manner. This makes most conventional education a corrupting experience unless one has a bulwark of Truth within -- a preexistent, uncreated framework within which to “think” about lower things, not just intellectual things but aesthetic and moral things as well.

Otherwise, once your life's education is "complete," you'll sadly ask yourself -- but of course it will be too late -- Why did summer go so quickly? Was it something that I said?

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind
--The Windmills of Your Mind (Bergman/Legrand/Bergman)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Atheism and the Unrequited Love of Truth

I am often criticized by a certain kind of 'nadless "spiritual seeker" for my pugnaciousness (or absence of ambiguity), judgmentalism (or discernment), and anger (i.e., the anger I trigger in them, which they promptly project into me).

The truth is, truth is a kind of violence, in that it necessarily severs one thing from another, just like a surgical procedure, i.e., good from bad, true from false, and beautiful from ugly. This is why "the truth hurts," or at least why it hurts some people sometimes.

Put it this way: if you are a pathological liar -- say, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, or Al Sharpton -- the truth doesn't hurt at all. In fact, you don't even feel it. It bounces right off as if nothing ever happened. Lies are your weapon and your shield. If you aren't a pawn of satan, you might as well be. These fölcks don't believe truth because it is true but because it is convenient, which automatically converts truth to something contingent and therefore tainted with falsehood.

Importantly, this does not just apply to religious truth but to scientific truth. Consider the etymology of science, which comes from the Latin scindere, meaning "to cut." It is related to words such as scissors, schism, decision, and schizophrenic. This is the coontext of Jesus' assurance that I came not to send peace, but a sword. Please. Bush is nothing compared to Jesus' divisiveness, but I can certainly understand why the schizos of the left think otherwise.

Furthermore, this is one of the primary reasons people do not alter their beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence, especially once tenure has been secured, as it is painful to do so (it's also one of the reasons I never really enjoyed being a psychotherapist, except with a certain kind of patient who is passionate about truth above all. With them, it's easy).

As I explained in the cOOnifesto, the word believe is etymologically related to belove, and any discerning person can see in an instant how even -- or especially -- supposedly secular people fall in love with ideas that cannot possibly be true. (At the moment, I'm thinking about dopey liberals such as Nancy Pelosi who are simultaneously concerned about global warming and the high price of gas; if you are worried about one, then you needn't worry about the other.) Reason has its own absence of reason that reason cannot comprehend, and if you don't understand how this works, you will likely end up believing patent nonsense, the reason being that Truth is supposed to be luminous and attractive, a fundamental Truth for which secularism cannot account because it's not countable.

In other words, human beings were not created to be pure "logic machines," like a Vulcan or a MENSA member who wonders why he's never kissed a girl, unlike Captain Kirk. The enterprise of logic alone cannot tell us when logic has arrived at a profound truth. Rather, this can only be determined by a higher form of discernment that is "aesthetic" through and through.

Again, this is the whole point of our gööd friend Gödel and his ironyclad theorems. The reason why the theorems are ironyclad is that Gödel employed logic to precisely and irrevocably set the limits of logic, which cannot disclose those platonic truths which humans can surely know but not prove -- or at least prove with mere logic. They can most certainly be proven in a manner appropriate to the realm from which they arise, so long as the person in question has sufficient intelligence and good will, or heart and mind (the former taking precedence over the latter in these eternal questings).

This is why it is impossible to prove the existence of God to people of bad will who aren't all that bright to begin with, and who simply want to believe in their own beloved truth, no matter how homely or unfaithful she is. For example, the classic ontological proofs of God are sufficient to convince a soul who is equipped to understand and believe (and therefore belove) them, and who is not inclined against them. This, of course, is one of the esoteric dimensions of faith, which is a deep intuition that our beloved Sophia could not be unfaithful to us.

Perhaps this is too abstract. Let's bring this luce talko down a couple of nachos, to something more audible. I am a big fan of what is called post-bop, avant-garde jazz, which was a movement that moved from about 1961 to 1970 or thereabouts (this is not to be confused with "free jazz," as it retains a more traditional structure, although it is right on the roiling cusp between structure and freedom, like this blog and like existence itself, which I believe is why I am so attracted to it). Some of the major artists of this genre include Jackie McLean, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, and Sam Rivers, plus the last great Miles Davis quintet that featured Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams.

These names will mean nothing to most of you. And if you were to be exposed to their music, it is likely that they would mean even less, for this is challenging music, and most people do not wish to be challenged by music. They don't want to take the effort to "elevate" themselves to music; rather, they would prefer that music "descend" to them. I'm not even criticizing this, as music, like everything else, has different purposes for different people at different times. I myself don't listen exclusively to this kind of music. For example, yesterday I was blasting the Who Live at Leeds, which every person must now and then do for reasons too obvious to get into here. Needless to say, my delighted three year old -- both inner and outer -- understands the reason for Keith Moon.

Anyway, the point I am making is that although this music embodies a kind of higher beauty, the average person will probably be repelled by it, or at least they wouldn't feel any attraction to it. Indeed, this was initially the case with me. However, I continued listening to other forms of jazz that took me to the "edge" of the avant-garde, so I was gradually able to "conquer" and assimilate it.

But one of the ways I made the leap was through faith. That is, respected critics -- people who knew much more about jazz than I did, and whose taste I came to trust and rely upon -- raved about this music, so it gave me the faith that there really was a "there there," my initial impressions to the contrary notwithstanding. In short, in order to "penetrate" this harmonically dense music, I had to trust that these musical pinheads weren't just böllshitting me and faking the funk -- which certainly does happen with modern art, the recent Aliza Schvarts kerfuffle being a darchetypal example of same.

Also, once you come to trust a particular artist, you accept the idea that they are further along than you are, and that if you have faith in them, they won't let you down. This doesn't mean that they never fail, because they do. Indeed, this is one of the inevitable prices one pays for being "on the edge," as we were discussing a day or two ago. The cutting edge cuts both ways, so it is certainly possible for novelty to be false or trivial -- which, not to get ahead of ourselves, but for Raccoons goes to the question of why it is so important to remain within the confines of an orthodox tradition instead of simply "winging it" on one's own. In the case of avant-garde jazz, if you just compare Louis Armstrong to Freddie Huzbbard, it may be a bit of a jolt. But if you begin with Louis Armstrong in 1925, you can trace a sort of straight line of development that slowly unfolds and eventually leads there in a disorderly ordered manner.

Now, how does this relate to religion? Well, first of all, Raccoon spirituality, like avant-garde jazz, may sound jarring and dissonant to the non-initiate, which is no doubt why my readership is so small and always shrinking. I think it's about 60% of what it was a year ago, which means that I am obviously driving away more people than I am attracting, which is all to the good. I do not wish to be known, much less understood, by a large audience, for that would tell me that I must be on the wrong track, given the barren intellectual and spiritual conditions that obtain in the soul of mass man.

Does this mean we are elitist? I don't think so. In my case, I don't really see how I could be more down to earth or more of a regular guy, for the reality is, in order to penetrate the clouds, like a pyramid, you must have a very wide base, and like a skyscraper, a foundation that extends deep into the earth. No one suspects Peter Parker of being Spiderman, and even he struggles with the concept. Furthermore, there are times that he would prefer not to be, as it's a burden and a responsibility. Reminds me of something Van Morrison said about his "relentless need" to make music:

"Everything is a curse and a blessing," he argues with some vehemence. "There's two sides to everything in this life. Music is no different. Don't think I haven't tried to walk away from it all. I've made a few concerted efforts at walking away. But it's pointless. You have to understand that I don't choose the music; it chooses me. My love for the music is the core of it for me. Maybe there's people who do music for different reasons. Financial reasons or ego reasons. Maybe they can walk away from it. But I can't. Because my connection to the music can't be broken. This is a need. Let's be clear about this -- there is no föcking choice."

To conclude the jazz analogy, there are certain luminous pneumanauts whom I initially did not understand, men such as Schuon, Anonymous, Eckhart, or even a Son of men, for that martyr. Now I understand that they've been stealing into my thoughts and whistling my tune all along.

Kandinsky, Improvisation 31, Sea Battle... it figures

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Jihad is Not Just for Jihadis (5.11.12)

I've had very little time for any sustained reading, so I'm still making my way through the 1,100 page The Spiritual Ascent, a "compendium of the world's wisdom" organized into three main sections that mirror the universal stages of purification, illumination, and union, but with dozens of subsections. In a way, you could say it is fractally organized, in that each section is a part of the whole, even while the whole is in each part. Likewise, every day of our lives is a process of purification, illumination and union, at least if we are consciously aware of this once in a lifetome uppertunity to write our own wrungs on Jacob's ladder.

The book gets off to a very promising start, with the chapters on divine creation, the process of manifestation, man's primordial birthright, and similar felicitous topics. I suppose this is only fitting, being that the Creator's main excuse for the creation was that "it seemed like a good idea at the time," i.e., "God saw everything he had made, and indeed it was very good." But you know what they say about how the beast waylaid the plans of mousy men. Very soon the karmic wheels fell on the creation, ironically due to its crowing achievement and finishing klutz, Homo simian. What starts out in eternal paradise soon turns into a peeved barking lot of womentary maninfestations, right up to the present day.

This remands me to the clostudy of Finnegans Wake, which begins with a sentence about Adam and Eve ("riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay"), but by the third paragraph is into the Fall ("the fall of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all Christian minstrelsy"), and by the fourth paragraph is ringing in the full scale war of each against all ("arms apeal with larms, appalling. Killykillykilly: a toll, a toll").

Anyway, The Spiritual Ascent hits a bit of a rough patch with the chapters on illusion, sin, suffering, sacrifice, damnation, hell, and the like. Nevertheless, these sections do emphasize the existential stakes involved, as well as the fact that "purification" is somewhat analogous to the manner in which a diamond is made. Just take a lump of coal, put it through unimaginable fire and pressure in the middle of the earth, then chip and chisel away what is impure and unnecessary, and you've got a luminous little gem fit for eternity. What a bi-cosmic coincidence that the name diamond derives from the ancient Greek adamas and that most of them originate from Africa. Reminds me of the Johnny Cash song (written by Billy Joe Shaver):

I'm just an old chunk of coal
But I'm gonna be a diamond some day....
I'm gonna spit and polish my old rough-edged self
'Til I get rid of every single flaw
I'm gonna be the world's best friend

I just finished a couple of fascinating sections, Pilgrimage -- Descent Into Hell and Holy War. Speaking of odd coincidences, here's a weird one. After I finished my post yesterday -- which spontaneously floated on the themes of water, sailing vessels, and the soul's journey -- I picked up the book, opened to page 385 where I had left off, and read the following from the Rig Veda: As in a ship, convey us o'er the flood. Then the next passage, from the Epistle of Discretion, about how the soul is like a ship that "attaineth at the last to the land of stableness, and to the haven of health." In fact, the quote I placed at the very end of yesterday's post was only discovered immediately after it was written. Did you ever feel as if existence were just one big coonspiracy?

The section on Holy War is particularly interesting, as it emphasizes that jihad is not just for jihadis. Rather, there is Jewhad, Buhad, and Crusad, in both the interior and exterior senses, as well as above and below. Quite simply, war is not just inevitable but necessary, with roots extending deep into the very structure of the cosmos.

Conversely, it is pacifism that is not only unnecessary but highly narcissary to boot and bootlicker alike; sanctimonious pacifists are usually just people unaware of their viciousness and cruelty, like Jimmy Carter. Pacifism is essentially to surrender -- not just in war, but in the struggle of existence itself. For as written in Exodus, The Lord is a man of war; or in the words of Jesus: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword; or in the words of Krishna: Nothing is higher for a [member of the warrior caste] than a righteous war.

In his introduction to the subject of Holy War, Perry cites Guenon, who wrote that the essential reason for war -- legitimate war -- is "to end a dis-order and re-establish order; in other words, it is the unification of a multiplicity, by use of means which belong to the world of multiplicity itself.... War understood in this way, and not limited in an exclusively human sense, thus represents the cosmic process of the reintegration of the manifested into the principial unity." This reintegration necessarily involves destruction, as catabolism is to metabolism.

Guenon continues: "The purpose of war is the establishment of peace, for even in its most ordinary sense peace is really nothing else than order, equilibrium, or harmony, these three terms being nearly synonymous and all designating under slightly different aspects the reflection of unity in multiplicity itself.... Multiplicity is then in fact not really destroyed, but 'transformed'..."

In another sense, legitimate war is none other than justice, being that justice is really an "equilibrating function" which is "directed against those who disturb order and [has] as its object the restoration of order." The reason we catch and punish bad guys is ultimately to restore order -- to the community, to the wronged individual, within the disordered psyche of the perpetrator, and ultimately to the Cosmos itself. In fact, it is fair to say that the blood of the victims cries out from the earth so long as a single murderer draws breath.

I am immediately reminded of Thomas Barnett's theories of the "functioning core" and the "non-integrating gaps" of the world. For example, think of all the deep and complex world unity that resulted from World War II. Likewise, the ultimate purpose of the war in Iraq is obviously to try to integrate the dysfunctional Islamic world into the functioning core of the West, i.e., to create a higher world unity. There really is no other way. Hey, we didn't start it, but we certainly ought to finish it.

I am also reminded of the intrinsically heretical perversion of Black Liberation Theology, which so attracted the weak-minded and weaker-souled Obama: "Many have been asking what Liberation Theology is all about. Well, it is not very complicated! It is the simple belief that in the struggles of poor and oppressed people against their powerful and rich oppressors, God sides with the oppressed against the oppressors."

Thus, it precisely inverts the true meaning of holy war, in that it imagines that God sides only with "the poor" instead of the righteous, or that he is angry at the wealthy instead of the evil (we should say that the righteous side with God). We can be quite certain that God is very displeased with the Palestinians, who are poor but (and because) evil, as God is preoccupied with goodness, not wealth.

This is just the same cold and dark Marxism trying to steal a little warmth and light -- or heart and mind -- from Christianity. If Obama and Wright were not such jihasbeens, they would understand the true source of liberation, black or otherwise: The "great holy war" is the struggle of man against the enemies he carries within himself, that is to say, against all those elements in him which are contrary to order and unity. Thus, the "unity candidate" is anything but. We will become the ones we've been waiting for only once we become more like the One who's been waiting for us.

Many things must be done in correcting with a certain benevolent severity, even against their own wishes, men whose welfare rather than their wishes it is our duty to consult... --St. Augustine

To be continued....