Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ego Trip, Stumble, and Fall

All the other vices flee from God, and only pride sets itself up against Him. --Boethius

If there are sins and deadly sins, then there must be something about the latter that is more than a mere act or behavior. Being that they are spiritually fatal, we can continue to "act," even if we are the last to realize we're dead.

The deeper meaning of sin is separation from the Divine plane. Naturally, if we are separated from this plane, we will mindlessly reflect this state in most all of our inward attitudes or outward acts -- just as if we truly love someone, certain behaviors will follow naturally.

The essence of sin is an inversion. The world is turned upside down and inside out, so that we forget the Absolute and the Infinite. Esoterically understood, forgetting is associated with sleeping, and sleeping with death. Thus, in order to restore the world and ourselves, we must remember, wake up, arise and be reborn. For just as there is horizontal recollection -- our conventional memory of the past -- there is “vertical recollection” of the above. And it is literally a re-membering, both because we are dismembered and alienated from vital parts of ourselves if we are exiled in the horizontal, but also because there is such a shock of recognition and familiarity when we encounter and re-collect the primordial Truths that are anterior to us.

Think about it for a moment. Some people stumble upon this blog and have no idea what I’m writing about. They either disagree with me, or accuse me of being oblique or secretive, or suggest that I am some sort of con man instead of a coonman, or accuse readers of being a bunch of bobbleheaded cultists disagreeably nodding off in agreement. It’s not so much that they don’t know what I’m talking about. Rather, they cannot remember what I’m talking about. It would be just as if I were to say to them, “remember when you were born, the doctor pulling you out, slapping your butt, and then slapping yo' mama 'cause yo' ass be so ugly?” “No, I don’t remember anything like that. You’re lying.”

Other people -- a few hundred of them anyway -- know exactly what I’m talking about. And if not exactly, then they have a sort of dim recollection. And as they continue reading and strengthening their vertical memory, more and more of my writing begins to make perfect nonsense. I think if you were to go back and read the comments of any number of readers from over the months, you would see a rather detailed diary of their vertical recollection gradually coming back “on line” and becoming more sharp and detailed. Yes, on the one hand, it is an acquisition of knowledge. But that’s only the content. The actual process is one of recollection and seeing, not with the mind but with the intelligence itself: cOOnvision. You can see the transition as certain commenters become O->(k) teachers in their own write.

This, by the way, is how the gospel story spread so rapidly through the Roman Empire. First of all, the story was not particularly appealing to those sophisticated “sinners” who had no contact with the vertical, with the exception of paying occasional tribute to some godlike human projections of their own making. Nor does the story have any attraction to intellectual elites, either then or now, whose minds are filled to the brim with the latest horizontal fascions. They remember only the dead past, not the living future.

But the story somehow made immediate sense to two categories of people: those who were “poor in spirit,” with uncluttered minds and innocent hearts. But also to the super-sophisticated, those geniuses like a Gregory of Nyssa, or Augustine, or Denys the Areopagite, who had taken horizontal thought as far as it could go, and then beyond the horizon of knowability to the deeper realm of the unKnowable (unKnowing being a higher and deeper form of knowing).

For me, of course, these are the most interesting cases. For unlike the purely secular intellectual, they do not place an arbitrary limit on thought and declare their own little ideas Supreme, like a child. Rather, they continue pushing through until achieving “vertical liftoff,” as in the case of an Eliot, Chesterton, Lewis, and so many others. Thought can lead to what is beyond it, but only for those who are both daring and humble (not to mention intelligent enough to pull it off; frankly, most of our secular priesthood are hopelessly middlebrow intellectual worker bees who know what they know, and that’s all they know). Far from being brave and independent thinkers, they cravenly "worship what is widely worshipped," in the words of Berlinski. Suffice it to say, they can tell us "nothing of interest about the human soul." And yet, their pride convinces them that they are somehow equipped "to face realities the rest of us cannot bear to contemplate." I'll believe that when Hitchens can bear to face reality sober.

And if that isn't obvious, just read the comments of any of our trolls, who are a never ending source of shallow darkness, which can masquerade as a sort of false mysticism, when it's really just mysterbation. Real mysticism is a beam of intense darkness that is most receptive to the divine light, but that's the subject for another post.

In fact, this postmodern relativizing of the intellect automatically leads to a spirit of pride, and with it, rebellion. And pride, don’t you know, is said to be the most egregious of the sins. We can see why this must be so, because forgetting the Absolute combines, in Schuon’s formulation, a “centrifugal passion” with an “egoistic hardening.” In other words, our consciousness is dispersed from the center to the periphery, but tumorangs back to us in the form of a cancerous attitude of the heart -- it is a “being” prior to this or that “doing” or “not doing.” And this is why it is so deadly: we then become not just a “sinner,” but we rekaputulate the entire foundation and basis of sin. This is a state of what I call complete I-AMnesia of the vertical, or the Absolute.

It is not so much that pride “inflates the ego.” Rather, the more insidious effect is that it not only limits and undermines the intelligence, but ultimately destroys it, while at the same time propping up a surface mechanism analogous to the Wizard of Oz: pay no attention to that little ego twirling the knobs and dials under a curtain of maya.

Pride is also the very thing that prevents a person from losing that which could save him. It takes many forms and harbors many rationalizations, for example, cynicism or extreme skepticism. The cynic, according to Schuon, believes that “sincerity consists in exhibiting shortcomings and passions and that to hide them is to be a hypocrite; they do not master themselves and still less do they seek to transcend themselves; and the fact that they take their faults for a virtue is the clear proof of their pride.”

On the other hand, the hypocrite confuses true virtue -- which is a state of being -- with mere outwardly virtuous attitudes or displays; he believes that “the appearances of faith suffice for faith itself.” The problem is not that they manifest virtue, but “in believing that the manifestation is virtue itself and, above all, in aping virtue in the hope of being admired: this is pride, because it is individualism and ostentation. Pride is to overestimate oneself and to underestimate others; and this is what the cynic does just as much as the hypocrite, in a blatant or a subtle way as the case may be.” Again, no one is more proud of his intellect -- but with less reason to be -- than the strict Darwinist.

In both cases, the outward and horizontal ego displaces the vertical spirit and the inner light, thereby misappropriating “what belongs to the spiritual soul.” Nature abhors a vacuum, while Spirit requires one. If God does not fill our existential void, then pride (among other things) necessarily rushes in to take its place. After all, it is what came before the fall -- it is what the ego tripped & felon. It was ineveateapple.

Where then the proper place for self-confidence as opposed to its faux substitutes, pride and the dreaded self-esteem? Self-confidence is faith that we can succeed and achieve a deiform excellence that transcends us, while self-esteem is the self-satisfied attitude that we already have. Confidence results from perfecting one’s God-given talents, while pride results from inflating and overestimating their value, and then claiming them for our own.

Ultimately, when we forget that we have fallen, there is no way to reverse course and rise back up. The loss of transcendence brings with it many howling consequences, too many dogs to catalogue here. Suffice it say that if your culture or sub-culture is foolish enough to deny the antecedent reality of Truth, Love and Beauty, it will generate an abundance of obligatory falsehood, artistic ugliness, moral relativism, and the many varieties of counterfeit love. Then again, tenure has its rewards. As does secular sainthoodlum.

Other vices attach themselves to evil, that evil may be accomplished; pride alone attaches itself to good, that good may perish. --Saint Augustine

Don't be such a big shot. When God's on the line, take the call:

Friday, May 09, 2008

Sorry Darkling, It's a Light Thing... You Wouldn't Understand

A little philosophy, as Francis Bacon observed, "inclineth a man's mind toward atheism." A very little philosophy is often all that is needed. --David Berlinski, The Devil's Delusion

As I've mentioned before, to a certain extent, the structure of my book mirrors the journey from postmodern skeptic to believer-and-then-some. I'm almost tempted to say from post-religious to post-religiously religious (thus the circular structure of the book), but that's a topic for another post. The point is, I started with the world as it is, and ended up realizing that the world is not at all what it appears to be to our natural reason. To paraphrase someone in The Spiritual Ascent, at first I saw the hills in the painting, now I see the painting in the hills -- and therefore the artist.

Again, there are three forms of revelation available to human beings, each of which is necessary to the "full activation" of the others. These are 1) the world, 2) the intellect (the nous or buddhi, not the ego), and 3) scripture. I suppose you could even say that in this formulation, intellect is Father, world is Son, and scripture is Holy Spirit.

My point is that I do not believe in "intelligent design" because I am religious. Rather, the self-evident existence of intelligent design -- or, let us just say cosmic intelligence -- permitted my own intelligence to go the whole hog and embrace a religious view, which soon enough confirmed Augustine's statement that no creature, howsoever rational and intellectual, is lighted of itself, but is lighted by participation of eternal Truth.

That is, once this happened, it was as if the whole of creation lit up from the inside out, in part because I added the third peg of revelation into the mix, which served as a sort of "catalyst" or enzyme that constantly fertilizes the mind. And of course, everything must be infused by grace, the one truly necessary condition; in the words of Thomas Traherne, "These principles are like seed in the ground, they must be continually visited with heavenly influences, or else your life will be a barren field." Or, as Eckhart put it, "It is one flash, the being-ready and the pouring-in. Nature reaching her summit, God dispenses his grace; the instant the spirit is ready God enters without hesitation or delay.... Grace makes the soul deiform. God, the ground of the soul, and grace go together."

This came as a total -- and ongoing -- shock to me. It is truly a combustible combination, and the only way I am able to greet each morning with a fresh post from the wild godhead. The combustion takes place in heart, where the world is like a perpetually burning bush, an immaculate fire that gives off no smoke to get in your I. It is the end that is a perpetual beginning, and that which draws all of creation in its wake, thereby "making all things new." In this way of looking at things, the desire for God is God, and by cherishing and nurturing that desire, it impels us toward its fulfillment. Truly, man is the eros shot into the heart of the world.

As Schuon accurately describes it, "When the heart is opened to the divine influx, the ego finds itself inundated with beauty and glory.... Everything related to the order of metaphysics has, in itself, the power of opening up boundless horizons to anyone who has a true conception of it; this is not a hyperbole or a figure of speech, but it must be understood quite literally, as an immediate outcome of the principles." This is because "the things in question are the most tremendous that exist, and compared with them everything else is child's play.... Everything accomplished in this domain brings into play powers that the ordinary man has no inkling of..."

Among other things, I saw that the intellect had to be anterior to creation, or we couldn't understand the creation so easily and so deeply. No mere created intellect -- that is, created by random accidents and copying errors -- could result in something so sublime and luminous as the human mind, any more than your computer upgrades itself when corrupted by viruses. It is absurd to think otherwise, if for no other reason than it is to render oneself absurd. Consciousness is over, above, behind, below, and within the created order, otherwise we couldn't understand a single truth; in its deiformity, the intellect is both immanent and transcendent. This is not just the religious view, but it is obviously implicit in science as well, as all scientists presume that the world -- if not today, then eventually -- can be "contained" by the mind, however narrowly and perversely conscrewed.

Even if you reduce the world to a set of mathematical equations, you will see that intelligence has already been there, as it is reflected in the tracks of the equations. The more deeply we peer into the cosmos, the more "deep intelligence" is revealed. No quantum cosmologist expects to look beneath the flux of the world and discover equations that are timelessly ugly and stupid. Rather, they will always be beautiful, beauty being the splendor of the true. And this is only a step away from the shocking realization that thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, an the Glory, forever. Very humbling, to say the least.

If premodern men were as stupid as postmodern cynics imagine them to have been, they never could have resulted in minds as "brilliant" as Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. In reality, these low and laughty men represent precipitous declensions from the lofty ones who preceded them. But it was ever thus: When the inferior scholar is told of Tao / He laughs aloud at it / If it were not laughed at, it would not be sufficient to be Tao. So a Sam Harris can say with a straight face that "Judaism is intrinsically divisive," "ridiculous in its literalism," and "at odds with the civilizing insights of modernity."

But vulgar men such as Harris and Dawkins are actually mediocrities by their own -- and only -- standard, since no one will read their words in the space of a generation, but men -- so long as they remain men -- will always be reading the words of the Torah, or Plato, or Augustine, or Eckhart, or Lau-tzu, or Denys, or Steinsaltz, or Schuon, or so many other men of religious genius -- Men with insight / Men in granite / Knights in armor intent on chivalry (Van Morrison, Tupelo Honey).

Scripture itself should be given the ultimate seal of approval by Darwinians, since it survives, while endless secular philosophies come and go. If history is any guide, most of the things believed by postmodern sophisticates will no more survive than phrenology or a Bill Maher monologue.

The earliest preoccupation of man in his awakened thoughts and, as it seems, his inevitable and ultimate preoccupation -- for it survives the longest periods of skepticism and returns after every banishment -- is also the highest which his thought can envisage. It manifests itself in the divination of the Godhead, the impulse towards perfection, the search after pure Truth and unmixed Bliss, the sense of a secret immortality. The ancient dawns of human knowledge have left us their witness to this constant aspiration; today we see a humanity satiated but not satisfied by victorious analysis of the externalities of Nature preparing to return to its primeval longings. The earliest formula of Wisdom promises to be its last -- God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. --Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

The last end is the first mover. --Peter Sterry

Thursday, May 08, 2008

If Darwinism is True, it Can't Be

And when I say "Darwinism," I am making a sharp distinction between the modest claims of natural selection versus the impossibly grandiose claims of reductionistic Darwinism, just as I always distinguish between science and philosophy of scientism, the latter of which far exceeds what is warranted by the evidence, and is only believed by a who's hooter of philosophical boobs & rubes.

Naive Darwinism is a subset, or variety, of scientism. Only an immature mind could believe it, since it requires the simultaneous gullibility and grandiosity of a child. Or, to turn it around, if you can believe that, what won't you believe? For it is pure magic, the kind of magic that always rushes in to fill the void where a coherent metaphysic should reside as an anchor and axis for the intellect. In the absence of real adult religion, people become either superstitious or substitious, but either way they miss the mark, for scientism is just a more sophisticated way of being stupid. It is primitivism for sophisticates, neopaganism for urban barbarians.

Now, I haven't seen Ben Stein's new film on the theory of intelligent design, Expelled, and I probably won't unless it shows up on TV. However, I understand that he makes some rather controversial claims, one being that there is a direct connection between Darwinism and fascism. Let's look at this question in a dispassionate manner, and see if there is any truth -- or even the possibility of truth -- in it.

As a prelude, let's remind ourselves that there is nothing that is more horrifying to the postmodern skeptic (who is really a nihilist) than to be made to look foolish, and that is apparently what Stein did in the film. For example, he made Richard Dawkins look like an ass, so Dawkins is leading the charge against the film while openly playing the victim card -- as if he were somehow duped into appearing in it. Even if that were true, on what basis can he object in a world of pure selfish genes? There are no rules in a Darwinian naïf fight. You can't cry "foul" when a snake eats your birdbrain. There is no "ought" in Darwinism. There is only survival. He just has to realize that "he who hesitates is lunch" and concede that Stein had a free one at his expense. He'll just have to evolve and move on.

As David Berlinkski writes, these folks are just upset because they "seriously overestimated their own ability to think nimbly before a camera. They are as result appalled either by how they look or by what they said.... Without ever once realizing that he is about to topple into the badlands of absurdity, [Dawkins] allows Ben Stein to force him into the acknowledgment that life as it appears on earth may well have been designed by space aliens."

Now, Berlinski is an important voice, being that he is a secular scholar who is one of the most articulate critics of reductionistic Darwinism. Like me, he rejects it because it is absurd and illogical, not because he is religious.

This itself should eliminate the charge that intelligent design is merely a trojan horse for creationism. Undoubtedly it can be, just as Darwinism is obviously a trojan hearse for the intellectual corpse of atheism, but that is utterly beside the grave I'm attempting to dig for it here. We need to examine a theory itself and determine whether it can be justified on its own basis, not whether or not it is warranted on the basis of some a priori belief system. I would agree that if you do that, you are no longer doing science.

But the point is that the simplistic believers in scientism engage in this leap of faith no less than do the believers in creationism. Both interpret the data through the lens of their paradigm. If they would just acknowledge this at the outset, it would actually eliminate the hostility, for then it would not be a question of whether or not natural selection is true in itself, but what it means in the larger cosmic context. Again, in my view, reductionistic Darwinism is absurd on the face of it, and cannot possibly be true.

Among other reasons, Darwinism cannot be true, for if it were, humans could not know it. In the darklight of Darwinism, the human intellect -- the light that shines in the darkness of existence -- is an absolute miracle.

Now, I am hardly opposed to the idea that miracles occur, but they nevertheless require an explanation. In fact, given the structure and economy of existence, miracles must occur. But for the scientist (again the believer in scientism), miracles not only cannot occur, but must be explained away as statistically rare random events. You know, monkeys + typewriters. And if you could see what Scatter did to the liberatory the other day after Dupree forgot to bolt the monkeydoor into the house, you would appreciate the absurdity of this contention. What was once an intelligently -- albeit sloppily -- designed office was reduced to a manifestly unintelligent absence of design. I'm still looking for my cattle prong, but that's another story.

So, what is a miracle, anyway, and why must they occur? Schuon writes that miracles "denote an interference of the marvellous in the sensory realm." In itself, a miracle has "nothing mysterious or problematical about it: the so-called natural laws of a lower degree of Existence can always be suspended through the intervention of a higher degree, whence the perfectly logical term 'supernatural': but this degree also has its laws, which means that the miracle is 'natural' on the universal scale, while being 'supernatural' on the earthly scale." (Indeed, the manifest existence of human free will exerting its top-down influence on our neurology is a daily miracle.)

Now, there are several well known ontological gaps in existence, each of which betrays existence of the miraculous. This is not to be confused with any ad hick "God of the saps" theorizing; rather, these are the inevitable gaps of God which can only be explained by recourse to the vertical ingression, or involution, of the higher into the lower, or greater into the lesser, or center to the periphery. If viewed from the "bottom up," then the existence of these gaps -- or, more precisely, the realities that bridge them -- is a miracle in the profane, colloquial sense of the word, and we are back to the primitive magic of scientism.

One unbridgeable cosmic gap is that between consciousness and matter; extended to its ultimate expression, it is the gap between Truth and falsehood, and more generally between light and darkness, the latter being merely the shadow cast by the former; in itself it has no ontological reality, any more than do falsehood or evil. Viewed in this context, a Truth-bearing monkey is more than a miracle, it is a strict impossibility -- not a statistical impossibility, mind you, but a metaphysical one. As Schuon explains,

"The miraculous is that which is due to a direct, thus vertical intervention of a heavenly Power, and not to a horizontal progression of causality. If one extends the notion of 'nature' to all that exists, miracles too are 'natural,' but in that case words would become meaningless, as it would then be impossible to make the essential distinction between blind or unconscious causes and the supra-conscious Cause, the source of all consciousness and of all power. Scientists confuse the miraculous with the irrational and the arbitrary."

Amen. Not amonkey.

Now -- being that they must explain away everything specifically and uniquely human -- Darwinists must explain away the quintessential miracle of religion that binds man to the Absolute. But if they were to ever succeed in this demonic endeavor, I do not see how Stein could fail to be correct in his apparent belief that it eventually leads to fascism, or at least something similarly nasty. For as George Gilder writes, it's pretty simple, at least if you have the courage of your absence of convictions:

A: If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.
B: If scientism is true, then God does not exist.
C: If scientism is true, then everything is permitted.

Could someone please tell me where this argument fails? And please do so without reference to any transcendentally true moral obligations. Rather, on what strictly scientistic basis is it untrue, in particular, once all religious ideals are successfully swept aside by a triumphant scientism, and no one is constrained by them ?

In Truth, science cannot begin to address the question of "how the ordered physical, moral, mental, aesthetic, social world in which [we] live could ever have arisen from the seething anarchy of the world of particle physics" (Berlinski). No. In order to understand how that happened, you must read the Coonifesto at least once in your lifetome. Or at least buy it. You don't have to read it. Petey will give you an indulgence just the same.

Scientism is, as Gilder notes, "the dominant religion of the intelligentsia." As such, "its religious claims far overreach its scientific content," but knowing much about one tiny portion of reality gives these "barbarians of specialization" the "confidence to pontificate about other subjects to which their expertise is irrelevant" -- or to elevate what little genuine knowledge they do possess into a crude "grand unified theory." But as they say, nothing can be that simple -- let alone everything.

Again we must insist: if a Darwinian monkey were capable of arriving at a true unified theory of existence -- which he is, by the way, except that it is not a "scientific" theory but a realization -- then he cannot be the mere monkey Darwinists make him out to be. Rather, he is something quite apart from anything else in all of existence, a luminous bridge that stretches between matter and spirit, appearance and reality, time and eternity, the one and the many. Why, he is a bloody Raccoon, dammit!

I'm just getting warmed up. To be continued....

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