Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lies and Other Parasites on Truth

So, the point I was attempting to make yesterday wasn't really an aesthetic one but an ontological one. I was trying to use an experience-near example to think about evolution, discontinuity, and higher spaces; or, to be precise, the discontinuous evolution into these higher worlds.

Just like Darwinian evolution, this process cannot be reduced to a single level, flatland cosmology, on pain of rendering the whole cosmic system nonsensical. For example, to place humans and animals on the same level merely obliterates the space where truth can be known, and a truth-bearing animal is infinitely higher than one without this capacity. Looked at this way, the distance between man and animals is as discontinuous as the gap between truth and falsehood, since no animal can know truth. Darwinists may insist that apes gradually shade off into humans, but a lie doesn't gradually shade off into the truth, so the distance between man and apes is likewise infinite.

As a matter of fact, the lie is obviously entirely parasitic upon the truth, whereas truth is independent and autonomous, and is by no means dependent upon the lie. It stands alone and endures, even if not a single human being believes it. But a lie can only exist if someone knows the truth. Therefore, a liar is someone who knows truth but places other things above it.

For example -- and I don't want to get sidetracked, so this will be brief -- if you watched any of the Democrat infomercial last night, you could see how much of it revolved around truths that are known but must be denied. Looked at this way, a lie is just an inverse way of illuminating a truth. It is a kind of "luminous darkness."

The PowerLine boys addressed this subject, noting that Michelle Obama's speech "all but shouted: We are normal! We are like you!" The whole exercise was a result of the urgent need to remake her into someone who wasn't ashamed of her country until a few months ago. That wasn't the Michelle Obama I know, the one who bitterly clings to her dreary leftist ideology and paranoid church.

When someone is shouting at you for no apparent reason that they are patriotic and normal and just like you!, you can probably take it to mean that they are anything but -- that their words are simultaneously concealing and conveying the opposite sentiment.

I'm very accustomed to this sort of thing in conducting psychological evaluations, during which you must always assess a patient's credibility for the quality of information they are providing you. (Yes, you too can earn cash money by developing your very own bullshit detector!) In that case, if the patient starts insisting upon how abnormal they are before their seat is even warm, that's usually a clue that you're dealing with a malingerer. The craziest people often don't even feel their craziness; rather, you feel it for them. In other words, mind parasites, by their very nature, are projected into other people, and you can feel the projection when it's taking place (this is called "projective identification").

Anyway, once you realize that truth is both higher and discontinuous (if you try to understand it from the bottom up), the whole materialistic paradigm -- including Darwinism -- falls apart. Let's even accept at farce value the Darwinist's claim that the human being has evolved toward Truth. If that is true, then we can never embrace the sterile idea that evolution "ain't goin' nowhere."

Rather, if truth exists and humans may know it, then evolution can be nothing less than a gradual unveiling of reality. And this unveiling is synonymous with what is called the spiritual ascent. Evolution = the irreducibly spiritual ascent into higher degrees of reality. In so doing, the nonlocal ladder is anterior to us, even though we must paradoxically build the local rungs as we make the climb.

Darwinists claim that "all is flux" and that is surely a partial truth. But to make such a banal claim is to insist that at least one thing is not subject to change, and that is the truth that "all is flux." And once you realize the full implications of this, then you understand -- well, as Petey expressed it in a koan the other day, you understand that Man is a diaphanous / gem of light suspended on / a fine web of truth.

Now, you may ask yourself: why is Bob bringing this up today? I thought we were talking about Hitler. Then we're suddenly talking about the Beatles. What's going on here? This is not my beautiful post.

Right. Your point is well taken. As I have mentioned, Hitler & His God spends the first 522 pages discussing the Nazi phenomenon from every possible conventional angle, before making a sort of discontinuous leap, at which point it looks to the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo to make sense of it all.

Why are people so fascinated by World War II in general and Hitler in particular? I think part of the reason is that it is a kind of numinous experience to contemplate that level of evil, which "surpasses" (I suppose "subpass" would be a better term) all our faculties.

Remember, "numinous" does not necessarily have positive connotations, for it mainly signifies confrontation with an object that is strange, mysterious, and "other." An encounter with God is always numinous, but so too is a brush with Death. For those of you who have lost a loved one, you are familiar with that experience of being ushered into an eery, numinous space. People are simultaneously attracted to, and repelled by, this space. It is why, for example, we enjoy horror movies. Much of the romantic movement was explicitly infatuated with Death, which I suppose is why so many of those poet-johnnies committed suicide. Will will know.

During the course of 522 pages, Van Vrekhem provides the testimony of any number of historians, who have conceded that, in the end, Hitler and Nazism simply exceed our ability to understand them. On the one hand, history is there to teach us "what happened." And yet, in this case, we can know exactly what happened "on the surface," and yet, don't truly understand it at all. I'm guessing that there are more books on Hitler and World War II than most any other subjects, and yet, what do we really know?

Van Vrekhem begins with the modest proposal that in attempting to wrap out minds around an "effect" of such magnitude, there must be a cause of equal magnitude. Looked at this way, then Hitler can't possibly be explained by such comparatively trivial causes as resentment over the Treaty of Versaille, or economic hardship, or even rabid nationalism. Any number of countries have been humiliated in war, but they don't start putting people in ovens to cope with their bruised feelings.

So we are confronted with a mystery. Yesterday I was attempting to use an experience-near example to talk about another mystery, that being the obvious discontinuity between even the greatest virtuoso and the true genius. Genius clearly transcends mere virtuosity, and can never be reduced to it. Rather, the musical genius partakes of and transmits a kind of palpable mystery, through which we may have the experience of entering a higher world that is shockingly different from the ordinary musical space. As a number of people pointed out, one can say the same of Van Gogh's paintings. If you are open to them, they truly are shocking, even breathtaking. Why is that? How can that be?

In my opinion, it is because Van Gogh introduces us to the real world. His paintings are particularly vivid examples of how great art is not on the same plane as "reality," and surely not a lower dimensional representation of it. Rather, it is a higher dimensional representation, so to speak. Yes, Van Gogh was an artist, but he was also a seer, or perhaps you might say a "visual prophet," just as Beethoven was an "aural prophet," transmitting information about higher spaces with pure sound. Again, how can such a thing be possible? What kind of cosmos is this, anyway?

Back to Hitler. To begin at the end, Van Vrekhem demonstrates how Hitler's ideology was in many cases a mirror image of Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary philosophy. Again, I don't want to get sidetracked, but I don't think it would be particularly difficult for some enterprising theologian to recast Christianity in evolutionary terms. In fact, I am quite sure it's already been done, not just by Teilhard de Chardin, but, for example, by this guy, about whom I know nothing.

I don't intend any scurrilous attacks on Darwinism, but Van Vrekhem quotes one prominent Nazi who said that National Socialism is applied biology. Think about that for a moment. If someone is foolish enough to believe that biology reveals the truth of man, then exactly what prevents him from drawing the ultimate implications from this: that nothing is absolute and everything is permitted?

It doesn't bother me that simpleminded Darwinists such as Queeg exist. What I do mind is that they try to pretend they're something other than what they are, which is intellectual barbarians. Such offenses must come, but we don't need to participate in their absurd self-flattery to the effect that the lower one falls, the higher one is. These liztards all clamor to the bottom, proud to declare the truth of no-truth, the virtue of indecency, and the beauty of ugliness.

Again, the Lie is parasitic on Truth. That's just how it is. As a result, you might very well say, "the greater the Truth, the bigger the Lie." But conversely, you might also say, "the bigger the Lie, the greater the Truth it is attempting to deny and conceal." Feel free to take this as a metaphor, so long as you understand its higher truth: Satan is first and foremost a parasite on Truth, Light and Beauty. Second, little parasites are everywhere. Oh, and you can learn a lot about God from a demon like Hitler.

In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility. --Adolf Hitler

to be continued....

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rockin' in the New World

Damn, for some reason I'm sleeping like an hour later, leaving me almost no time to penetrate the overmental pneumatosphere and bring down a nugget of joy. Must be going through a transpersonal growth spurt or something.

I wanted to write about something that may seem like a deviation from the recent series of posts about Hitler, but I promise that it will eventually all come together over me. In fact, it goes to the very heart of the matter, even though you will no doubt wonder how and why.

The other evening while on the exercise bike, I was staring ahead at my beloved CD collection, and the thought occurred to me that there is a kind of infinite gap between the truly great musician, versus those who are occasionally able to produce something great. Unfortunately, I have to limit myself to forms of music with which I am most familiar, but the same thing no doubt applies to classical music. I imagine that there is a kind of discontinuous gap between a Bach or Mozart and the rest of the field.

In other words, if we consider musical excellence, any person with an adequate aesthetic sense can hear that it is on a continuum, with some people better than others. That's weird enough, but weirder still is the fact that there are certain geniuses who are "off the scale." It's not as if they are just "better" versions of the lesser talents.

A I said, let me stick with idioms with which I am familiar. An obvious case in point is the Beatles. Something unavoidably "mystical" happened to them between the time of their failed Decca audition and the time of their first Capitol album just a few months later. The Decca executive who failed to sign the Beatles was later widely ridiculed, but he was correct in his judgment. They weren't even mediocre. There was no spark, no magic, no sense whatsoever of what they were later to become. For those with ears to hear, there is literally an infinite gap between the Decca audition and the transcendent glory of Twist and Shout, recorded just a few months later for their first Capitol album.

The same pattern holds for Ray Charles. In fact, the moment he "invented" soul music is captured in the film Ray, and it is pretty close to the truth. Up to that point, he was a quite mediocre and derivative talent, no different from hundreds of other singers. But with I Got a Woman in 1955, he suddenly found his voice and style, and the rest is history. Once again, the body of work he recorded between 1955 and 1960 is so gloriously transcendent that it defies any simple, reductionistic explanation. It is so much better than anyone else, that there is once again that infinite gap, as well as the discontinuous leap between what he was and what he became.

Same thing with Aretha Franklin. She had been recording with Columbia Records since 1960, but was nothing special. She only "became" Aretha at a particular recording session in 1967, with I Never Loved a Man. Afterwards, for the subsequent eight years or so, she was so good it was frightening. During those years she consistently reached a level of perfection that can again only be called "transcendent." I say this because it is not as if, say, we are dealing with a scale that goes from one to ten, and she kept hitting "ten" with her recordings. Rather, the whole point is that she "broke through" the scale and entered some other kind of aesthetic space. Again, it's hard to describe, but any real music lover will understand what I'm talking about -- when an artist takes you into that higher space, which is luminous, expansive, free, and clear, like a wide open sky. (Sorry for the cliche, but that's how it feels to me; it's also a kind of "electrically charged" space.)

I could go on and on. Although Van Morrison made some competent R&B during his years with Them, no one was prepared for the leap he took with the appearance of Astral Weeks in 1968. Ever since then, he's been consistently operating out of that higher space. He is not just "better" than other artists, but in a different category altogether -- again, if you have ears to hear.

Or Sinatra. Although he produced a lot of nice music in the 1940s, no one could have predicted the depth of artistry he achieved with his string of classic Capitol albums in the 1950s. Again, he is not just "better" than the competition, but in an entirely different category. No amount of practice can get you there, because it seems that an element of "grace" is involved. For just as there is obviously spiritual grace, there is also aesthetic grace. And like the spiritual kind, it "blows where it will." Why Frank Sinatra? Why John Lennon? Why John Coltrane?

Part of the answer -- but only part -- is the level of dedication and the purity of intent. Whatever else you think about Sinatra, he was so artistically driven, that he would never allow anything to compromise his vision. Occasionally circumstances forced him to record some commercial pap to throw out into the market, and you can tell in an instant that he's not into it.

Or consider the Beatles. When they were finally signed by Capitol Records in 1962, George Martin wanted them to record a piece of crap called How Do You Do It, which he thought would be a sure-fire hit to launch the band. But the boys refused, insisting that they could write something better. First of all, this attitude was completely unheard of in pop music, which was "company driven," or "producer driven," not artist driven, especially "teen music." It never even occurred to anyone that what they were doing had anything to do with "art." Rather, they were just throwing out hamburgers for hungry teens.

Now, the Beatles had been toiling away for some five years up to that point. They had no money, no prospects, no real future. And yet, something inside already made them absolutely committed to their artistic vision, even before anyone would have called it art! Nevertheless, they put their foot down and insisted on recording their own music. Of note, their producer, George Martin, hadn't signed them on the basis of what he heard in their audition tape, which was again rather mediocre. Rather, in meeting them personally, he just felt that there was some x-factor, some kind of palpable charisma that he hoped to be able to capture and cultivate. Having read a number of biographies, I think what he experienced in meeting them was "the future." It was more than charisma, but a kind of evolutionary force.

And when I say "evolutionary force," what I mean is this. As I said, there are countless artists who are able to achieve a "nine" or "ten" with a song or two, or even in a whole career. But there are other artists who break through to a different dimension, almost like explorers who discover new lands that other people can later come along and populate. In the case of the Beatles, or Bob Dylan, they opened up an entirely new aesthetic space that had only existed in potential up to that time. It was very much as if there were a "ceiling" that was kept in place by convention, and the Beatles crashed through it. Once they did, many others followed, both for better and worse.

Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking. But you cannot blame the Beatles for what others did -- and continue to do -- with that space, any more than you can blame Jesus for the Inquisition or Marconi for Air America.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Adolf Hitler? First of all, let's look at how the founders of the great religions all discovered and opened up new evolutionary spaces for mankind to explore. Are there any spaces left, or is that it? In other words, are we in a situation analogous to the closing of the American frontier in the late 19th century? Or are there other dimension to be discovered and colonized? Is mankind being held back from fulfilling its potential by custom and convention?

to be continued....

Talent is like the marksman who hits a target others can't reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target others can't see. --Schopenhauer

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Assessing Ethical Impairment with the Ten Commandments

I just had an odd thought that may be of no relevance to anyone but myself. But it occurred to me that when I do a psychological evaluation of someone, part of that involves assessing the degree of psychological disability. This is intrinsically impossible, the mind being what it is, but the law is the law. So in analyzing the overall disability, you have to break it down into eight "factors of disability," and rate the person's impairment in each of the factors, such as the ability to perform simple and repetitive tasks, the ability to follow directions, the ability to get along with others, etc.

But that only refers to workplace impairment, and only a Marxist would reduce the psyche to one's ability to work. What if, say, we also had to rate an individual's "moral disability?" Perhaps we might use the Ten Commandments to assess a person's ethical impairment.

Let's take, say, Obama. Just how ethically impaired is he? It's a little difficult to say when one is immersed in an ideology that has its own ethical norms. For example, in Obama's world, infanticide is permissible, even a sacred right. Furthermore, it would seem that he has an ironclad defense, since his ideology also values multiculturalism, which means that there are no objective values that can be judged from outside the culture in question. Therefore, from "within" Obama's ethical system, murdering a baby who is "accidentally" born alive is not problematic.

Likewise, if we surrender in Iraq and genocide ensues, it is "not our problem," since Obama is for peace. People who are against peace are bad, whether it is people who want to commit genocide or people who want to stop them from doing so.

With multiculturalism, it goes without saying that one cannot say "you shall have no other gods before me." Rather, this is inverted to say "you shall have all other gods coequal or even above me, since I'm such a demanding and judgmental tyrant. In fact, the more the merrier." Nor can you have an injunction against bearing false witness, since multiculturalism and deconstruction insist that there is no such thing as objective truth, and that truth is a function of power. Of course, this only proves that the left is power mad, but you're not supposed to notice that.

I could go on and on, but here are commandments five and six in our series. Please be culturally sensitive, and remember that they do not apply to liberals.

*****

Never fail to respect the sages. See the divine in your mother, father, and teacher... --Taittiriya Upanishad

The fifth of the first five “vertical” commandments is “honor your father and your mother.” This is an important point, because the verticality of this commandment means that it is clearly not just referring to our earthly parents. At the very least, the commandment implies a link between the earthly and celestial dimensions, filtered through the family. The trinitarian family of father-mother-child is an intrinsic reflection of God's design, another instance of the microcosm reflecting the macrocosm (“as above, so below”). Also, being the last of the vertical commandments, it is somehow an important link to the next five "horizontal" commandments that allow the wider human community to properly function.

Naturally, a large part of the leftist project is to undermine this commandment and to de-sacralize the family, so that it essentially becomes "just anything." Thus, the vertical family that is ultimately oriented in a hierarchical manner toward the divine is reduced to a wholly horizontal entity in which the members are only oriented toward each other. A family is “any two or more people or animals who love each other.” Not “honor your mother and father,” but “honor your father and father,” or worse yet, honor just earthly love. But earthly love alone cannot sustain a family, which is one of the reasons for the increased incidence of divorce. If you enter a marriage thinking that another person is going to make you happy and fulfill all of your needs, you are bound to be sorely disillusioned.

Some may think that the onus of this commandment is upon children to honor their parents. But I believe this is a misunderstanding of the total context of the commandments. For an equal burden is actually on the parents -- especially the father -- to be an earthly reflection of the celestial Parent. Indeed, this is a father’s only claim to legitimate (i.e., post-biological) authority -- the extent to which he is a dignified and noble man through whom divine authority radiates “downward.”

Parents do not own children -- this was one of the radical innovations of Judaism, in contrast to other ancient (and contemporary) peoples who practiced infanticide and other forms of systematic abuse.

In raising a child, you are deputized by the divine to help usher your child from his earthly caretaker -- i.e., you -- to his celestial benefactor. Even if you are not particularly religious, this is still the aim of your parenting, but it will merely go by another name -- for example, instilling good values. Few people outside the Muslim world actually consciously want to raise their children as antisocial, homicidal beasts. And even these Moloch-worshipping parents are under the delusion that they are on a divine mission to raise their children in this perverse manner.

Arab parents are now naming their children “Hizb’allah” and “Nasrallah,” a genocidal group and a genocidal fanatic, respectively. These children will surely grow up to honor their father -- the father of lies. These parents are spiritually unfit to bring children into the world, because they inflict the worst possible psychic injury to the child: failing to provide them with a parent worthy of honor. Like most any abused child, the child will still do his part -- he will honor his parents -- which will have the practical effect of making him lower than the beasts, unless the child somehow sees through his warped parents and locates his father “who art in heaven.”

Obama, whose father was an alcoholic bigamist, abandoned him when he was a child. As a result, he spent much of his adulthood searching for a father worthy of honor. That he chose someone like Reverend Wright speaks volumes. One can see how bad fathers are always available to children who have had no experience of a good father, just as there is no shortage of bad men for confused women who were never properly loved by a noble father. If all girls had good fathers, the pool of bad men would soon dry up, since they would be deprived of sexual partners.

In short, to the extent that our parents are worthy of of honor, it is because the archetypes of our otherworldly Mother and Father are revealed to us through them. Not only do many parents fail at this fundamental task, but they even usurp God’s rightful power, becoming bad gods and “lording it over” their children (as undoubtedly happened to them).

More generally, the pure love we receive “vertically” from our parents is like a seed that is planted deep within our psyche. Children can have no idea how much they were loved until they have children of their own. This is as it should be, because the task for the child is to spread this divine-parental love horizontally, out into the world. If children loved parents as much as parents love their children, it would be very difficult to break out of that closed circle and evolve psycho-culturally. When children "worship" their parents, it puts an end to personal and cultural evolution (and this pseudo-worship is usually a result of some kind of abuse, rooted in fear and unconscious hatred).

And just because we have left our earthly parents, it hardly means that we have no further need of parenting. Again, there is something primordially true in the trinitarian arrangement of father-mother-child. In order to continue to grow spiritually as adults, we must in some way "become as children" and establish an ongoing rapport with the divine masculine and feminine. As such, the commandment also implies that we should honor worldly representatives of the divine, for example, the avatars, saints, and spiritual masters who, just like our own parents, have made incredible sacrifices for our benefit, and who extend truly priceless wisdom, guidance, and even salvation. Thanks to these exemplars, the vertical hole in creation is always accessible.

There is nothing which is more necessary and more precious in the experience of human childhood than parental love.... nothing more precious, because the parental love experienced in childhood is moral capital for the whole of life.... It is so precious, this experience, that it renders us capable of elevating ourselves to more sublime things--even divine things. It is thanks to the experience of parental love that our soul is capable of raising itself to the love of God. -- Meditations on the Tarot

***

Worlds there are without suns, covered up with darkness. To these after death go the ignorant, slayers of the Self. --Isha Upanishad

The sixth commandment is often erroneously translated as “thou shalt not kill” instead of “thou shalt not murder.” Killing has no inherent moral consequence one way or the other (i.e., it depends on the context), whereas murder specifically refers to the deliberate taking of innocent human life.

In the West, I know of no one outside the left who argues otherwise. For example, one routinely hears leftists insist that there is no difference between deaths that occur as a deliberate policy of Islamic terrorists vs. those that occur as a result of Israel defending herself from Islamic terrorists. One also routinely hears George Bush described by the left as a terrorist -- indeed, “the world’s biggest terrorist” -- which again simply highlights the broken moral compass at the foundation of leftist thought. It's like a house built on a cracked foundation.

The same broken moral compass is present in animal rights activists who equate the killing of animals with the murder of humans. One also hears leftists perversely invoke “thou shalt not kill” in order to try to prevent murderers from being put to death. But again, the commandment specifically forbids the deliberate taking of innocent human life, and no one is less innocent than a murderer. The “golden rule” maintains that we should treat others as we would have them treat us, and it is just so with capital punishment.

As Schuon writes, it is absurd to want to abolish the death penalty "on the grounds that one would not like to be in the condemned man’s place; to be in the place of the condemned man is at the same time to be the murderer; if the condemned man can earn our sympathy it is precisely by being able to recognize his crime and by desiring to pay for it with his life, thereby removing all antagonism between him and us.”

But there are many ways to murder a man without killing the body, and these also fall under the authority of this commandment. One can even draw out the implications of the commandment, in that, if we are to refrain from the taking of innocent life, we are necessarily enjoined to promote, preserve and protect innocent life in all of its manifestations.

At bottom, what the commandment is emphasizing is that life is sacred -- it is of infinite value; therefore, do everything you can to honor and protect it. Clearly, not all cultures do so. Some, as in so much of the Muslim world, explicitly worship death, not life. And this inversion is reflected throughout these sick cultures, in that they are “fruitless.” That is, they produce nothing but misery, both to themselves and to others. They produce nothing for the body, i.e., no medicines, no new ways to produce food; they produce nothing for the mind, i.e., no science, no translations of books, no freedom of inquiry; and they produce nothing for the spirit, i.e., only the spiritual shackles of their medieval death cult.

Most soul murders are undoubtedly committed by those who are already so spiritually damaged as to be functionally dead. These undead souls such as a Nasrallah, an Arafat, or an Amahdinejad, speak to us from “the other side,” from the shadow world that is created when the soul has been so damaged that it essentially withdraws from the body, leaving only a human animal in its place. But other demonic energies rush in to fill the void, so that the individual becomes a sort of “antihuman.” At their core, they are filled with unbearable envy toward the living, and the only way they can assuage this envy is to kill and kill plentifully. Life is a painful reminder of their own living death, hence, “death to Israel,” that primordial symbol of life: l’chaim.

The undead also cannot help converting their children to their way of non-being. In ways both subtle and profound, they will interact with their children in a pathological manner, causing the children to internalize the same virus that afflicts their parents. Regardless, the virus always goes by the name of “love,” which simply further confuses the child. In the end, they will not be able to distinguish the difference between love and hate or truth and lies, any more than they can distinguish between spiritual life and death.

That depraved Muslim couple that was going to use their baby as a bomb surely love their child, except that the love flows out of death, not life. Likewise, the proud Palestinian parents who raise their children to be mass murderers undoubtedly love their children, as do the Muslim parents who murder their daughters for holding hands with a Christian boy. Death loves, just as the person who doesn't believe in truth seeks to accumulate “knowledge.” Our universities are filled with lie-roasted academia nuts who know much. They too worship death -- the death of the intellect and its innate spiritual wisdom.

Oddly, just as life spreads and propagates, so too does death. In other words, death has a sort of life all its own -- just as disease isn’t the opposite of health, but a pathological form of living. The undead soul attempts to overcome and “transcend” his soul death by killing, by substitute sacrifices. Human sacrifice is a way to “steal” the life essence of the victim in order to give the undead a spurious sense of life. This is why the Islamist butchers ecstatically scream "allahu ackbar" (the god of death is great!) as they chop off another head.

In this regard, the Izlambies are no different than Jeffrey Dahmer, who would attempt to have an orgasm at the exact moment his victim was dying, the idea being that the victim's life force would somehow pass into him. Islamists believe that by exterminating Israel, the life essence of Israel will pass into and revive their undead souls and cultures, but this is simply the most perverse of unconscious fantasies. If tiny Israel had never existed, the same massive death cult would have simply metastasized into the geographical area now called Israel. Life departed from Gaza a couple of years ago, but Death merely rushed in to occupy the void created.

Again, the implicit message of the sixth commandment is that we must promote Life in everything we do, not just limiting ourselves to innocent human life, but to the Good, the True and the Beautiful, for these are the principal manifestations of the uncorrupted, living soul. As I wrote in the Coonifesto, “There is a culture of Life and a culture of death, and the cultural necropolis can only maintain itself by an increasingly brazen assault on Truth (as well as beauty and decency). It is therefore also a cult of hypnotic enslavement, for only the Truth can liberate us from this zone of illusion. In your day-to-day life, you must refrain from activities that advance the infrahuman tide of ugliness, barbarism, and falsehood in our endarkened world.”

Friday, August 22, 2008

Of Messiahs and Monsters (2.3.11)

I was building up to this important point about Nazism, progress, transcendence, and mysticism, when Will appeared out of nowhere and stole my God of Thunder. (BTW, I haven't had time to check it out, but that site looks like a pretty interesting.) As he pointed out, "Nazism was, in a sense, a stab at progress, and a spiritual progress, to be sure. Doomed to failure, of course, because it, like communism, attempted to transcend collectively, an impossibility. I think we should make no mistake, though -- there is a meta-power in the collective that can be harnassed, channeled. Thus Nazism was a mysticism gone bad, and when mysticism goes bad, it becomes evil."

Precisely. In Hitler and His God, we have to get to page 568 before we read Aurobindo saying the same thing, only in the 1930s: "Hitler is a new type, an infra-rational mystic, representing the dark counterpart of what we are striving to arrive at: a supra-rational mysticism.... He is a mystic, only a mystic of the wrong kind! He goes into solitude for his messages and waits till they come."

This was true. As a psychologist, I find the description of Hitler's "voice" to be very different from any typical psychosis, in which the individual has no control over his delusions and hallucination. But in Hitler's case, he would court and call upon "the voice," in the same way that an artist might call upon his muse or I might call upon my household gnome. So who or what was the voice? Whatever it was, it gave him a kind of absolute conviction, plus the complete fearlessness and unwavering faith to carry out its promptings. Now, who does this remind us of? Yes, the Islamists follow that same pattern, with their insane faith in the transcendently evil. Clearly, it is no coincidence that Mein Kampf is a perennial bestseller in the Muslim world, or that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was an ally of Hitler, or that Jew hatred is central to both ideologies.

Just as the Divine leaves its traces in time, Satan always leaves his scent, so to speak. It reminds me of one of the final scenes of Batman Begins, where the Lieutenant hands Batman the Joker's calling card. For what is the Joker card? It is simultaneously nothing and anything. In fact, it can be anything you want it to be, from the highest of the high (the king) to the lowest of the low, or anything in between. It can even be another gender (the queen). As such, it abolishes all distinction and hierarchy, except that in a perverse way, the nothing-anything of the Joker is the "top," as he stands completely outside -- he transcends and upends -- any established or meaningful order.

Now, this is surely a kind of mysticism, but it is again a mysticism "from below" rather than above. It abolishes distinctions before they even have a chance to become distinct, which was again one of the central features of Nazism. You might say that there are only two distinctions, 1) the Volk, and 2) the Fuhrer -- who was truly a "nothing" and nobody who became the German "all." There was also the SA and the SS, but in both cases, their admittance into the hierarchy very much depended upon the degree to which they had subordinated their own will and identity to the Fuhrer principle. The SS in particular was a sort of esoteric mystic body; in fact, they modeled themselves after the Jesuits, only absolutely committed to Hitler instead of Christ.

In his comment, Will also noted that "Personal responsibility arises from genuine individualism and self-awareness -- meaning the attempt to overcome one's self-love, one's own lower instincts. When the emphasis is on a collective responsibility -- meaning making sure you recycle and pay respects to Gaia, etc. -- and personal responsibility is distinctly de-emphasized, then we're veering close to a mysticism gone bad."

We'll discuss the nature-worship of Nazism in a later post. But as Will implies, the nationalism of Germany was a parody of the patriotism of the United States, the latter of which must first involve defense of the sacred principle of the individual. But in the case of German nationalism, it was in defense of the innate superiority of the German people in the collective sense. Again, this was conceived in terms of a mystical essence that emanated from the Volk, and only through the individual in a derivative way. There was a "German genius" that was in the blood, not on "paper," as it is in the case of America's founding documents.

Therefore, in the case of Nazi Germany, they needed to eliminate "foreign blood" in the same way Americans must constantly battle against "lies," or more precisely, "the lie." Hitler had no scruples whatsoever in lying, murdering, or backstabbing in order to further his "higher" truth, which was the racial purity of the German spirit. In fact, in that context, no degree of barbarism was off limits. Everything followed logically -- or infralogically -- from his first principles, which were written in the blood.

Van Vrekhem makes the interesting point that it is no coincidence that the Protestant revolt began in Germany with Luther. I have no idea whether this is generally accepted by other scholars, but Van Vrekhem notes that Christianity always had an uneasy relationship with the German psyche, and was very much superimposed on a much more primitive pagan mythology that was never forgotten among the "volk." Therefore, when Luther came along to declare independence from the central church, he was merely exploiting collective psychic energies that were already very near the surface.

In fact, it can easily be seen how Luther was a kind of proto-Hitler, in particular, with his appalling anti-Semitism. (I'm not trying to compare him to Hitler, as I just don't know enough; but I wonder if someone like Jakob Boehme -- or Meister Eckhart before him -- was the "bright side" to Luther's "dark side" of the German psyche?) Van Vrekhem notes that Luther exploited the same divide "that had opposed the Roman civilization against the barbarian world of the Germanic tribes," and that Germans "had been ready for a long time to recapture the fortress stolen by Christianity." "German utopianism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries almost always meant a return to pre-Christian, pagan spirituality in some form."

Furthermore, it seems that the longing for a "strong man from above" was a continuous feature of the German psyche. As Van Vrekhem notes, "This need for an all-powerful master was an important feature in the psychological make-up of the Germans long before the strong man became the paragon of Fascism in many European nations. The Furher was longed and prayed for; he was expected before he took the shape of Adolf Hitler. It was not the least of of Hitler's intuitions that he knew exactly how to take on the part and act in a way to which the German masses subconsciously responded with religious fervor." Another observer wrote that "The cry for a leader arose from the searing wish for somebody who would provide meaning in a secularized time, which apparently burdened the individual with an excess of individual responsibility and made him feel lonely" (emphases mine).

I want to emphasize that I am not trying to invoke Godwin's law in demonstrating the parallels between this and the Obamessiah hysteria, but parallels there are (not in the ends, but in the deeper structure of the infrarational mysticism). As we continue this series, I will be very curious to analyze the language and imagery of Obama's acceptance speech at his Nuremburg-like mass-hypnosis rally at Invesco Field before 75,000 adoring "fans" (which is the proper term, since this whole creepy exercise is "infra-poltical" and emotional, devoid of intellectual substance).

I just did a quick google search, and found this typical story, which says that "In a little more than a week, 75,000 lucky ticket-holders will head for Invesco Field, ready to usher in a new era of photos for their Facebook pages.... And eventually, upon the entrance of the Great Half-White Hope, they will be reduced to one giant goosebump.... But it won't just be the arrival of Barack Obama that will send chills down their spines. Obama, no doubt, will enter the stadium to the tune of some inspiring piece of pop music. Whose song will it be?.... Which song will electrify the crowd next Thursday?"

I don't know, WWLD? That is, what would Leni Riefenstahl recommend? A little Wagner? Interestingly, there is no question whatsoever that she was a gifted artist. But look at the mesmerizing effect Hitler had upon her will -- and she is hardly alone in this regard. Van Vrekhem relates story after story of how strong men -- generals, diplomats, artists, and journalists -- were reduced to Jello in his presence. He clearly transmitted a kind of supernatural power to which many individuals attested. Is there an "artist" in Hollywood, or a celebrity journalist, who hasn't fallen under Obama's spell? Yes, a few, but only a few. .

Obama clearly has a similar kind of power, at least over the susceptible -- for example, his vaunted ability to make Chris Matthews' pasty thigh tingle. Obviously it can't be Obama's ideas, which are so banal, nor his accomplishments, which are nil. As was very much true of Hitler, Obama's words often make no literal sense on paper, and yet, he personally has this undeniably potent persuasive power. And he especially has this power over people who are not inoculated by genuine religion. In other words, he has a "religious effect" on the secularized mind. Deepak could be speaking of Hitler when he writes of how the Annointed One will bring about a "quantum leap" in human consciousness. How could anyone believe such utter sacred cow manure?

In Riefenstahl's case, she writes of how she read a single page of Mein Kampf and was hooked: "The book made a tremendous impression on me. I became a confirmed National Socialist after reading the first page. I felt a man who could write such a book would undoubtedly lead Germany. I felt very happy that such a man had come."

Michael Burleigh writes of how Germany went "going boldly into the future in search of an imaginary past." In so doing, they created a gilded mythology in which they were the ones the world was waiting for.

Sri Aurobindo stressed the crucial importance of the individual, always of a higher consciousness than the group or the mass, and the center or 'dynamo' of the cosmic forces in humanity.... The message of Sri Aurobindo lay precisely in the possibility and necessity of an upward transformation of the human being, the only way of real progress. --Georges Van Vrekhem

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Careening Through History Without a Rear View Mirror

I probably shouldn't even try. It's already 6:40, I have a dental appointment at 2:00, and I have to get a lot of work done in between. Nevertheless....

I guess one thing we're trying to do here is figure out if any general principles can be derived from something that seems so uniquely evil, i.e., the Nazi phenomenon. And not just banal things like "don't appease evil," or "genocide is bad," or "get rid of that stupid little mustache."

One of the important contexts of Nazism was romanticism, which was itself a reaction to the alienation that was felt as a result of the industrial revolution in particular and modernity in general. Veith writes that "people felt alienated from nature, from society, and -- because their identity had become such an enigma -- from themselves. The rationalism of the Enlightenment, which seemed responsible for this malaise, was answered in the 19th century by Romanticism."

Interestingly, romanticism is a regressive phenomenon that occurs in the context of progress, almost the way that a child will regress in the midst of psychological development. As a matter of fact, that's happening to my son right now, as he has suddenly developed the urge and the capacity to toilet train himself. Clearly, his ability to do this is a result of countless synaptic connections taking place below the surface. As a result, he's being ushered into a whole new and unfamiliar world. His desire to sit on the toilet is just the tip of the assberg, so to speak.

To cite one obvious example, he sees that most of his friends are housebroken, and he's suddenly self-conscious about it -- which is to say, a tad ashamed. But just a few weeks ago he wouldn't have had this introspective capacity, nor the ability to look at himself from the standpoint of the Other, which is a prerequisite for shame. This is why two year-olds and trial lawyers do not feel shame.

But just as with every previous developmental leap, he is clearly experiencing a lot of ambivalence about his new capacities, so he's also engaging in more regressive behavior -- at times more clingy, or more angry, or more frustrated, etc. One can well understand why. Just think back on your own relatively sudden transition from child to adolescent. I remember it well. One day you're hanging out with your friends, playing baseball, joking around, hating girls. The next day....

It's very disorienting. And it's now understood by developmental neurologists that one of the reasons it's so disorienting is that the brain literally disassembles at these developmental cruxes, and then reassembles at a "higher level," so to speak. In other words, human psychological development is not like an addition to your house, or building a new floor above the existing one. Rather, it's more the way a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. It's a transformation, not just a transition.

Anyway, it's these "in between" phases that are fraught with such difficulty, those interstices between one stage and another. That is precisely where a lot of the mind parasites get imported, because that is when the brain is much more "fluid," open, and unstable. Could the same thing be true of history? The first thing that comes to mind is Marxism, which specifically developed in that gap between the premodern and modern world. It is fundamentally rooted in the myopic fallacy that things were getting worse for the average worker, when the reality was that, for the first time in 10,000 years, they were actually getting dramatically better.

In this regard, Marx was not just economically illiterate, but completely ahistorical, a malady that continues to afflict the left to this day. The free market will eventually solve most problems that leftist solutions will only perpetuate or aggravate. But the leftist relies upon people being riveted only on the now, which then requires some sort of radical solution to redeem the future.

For example, how many Americans realize that gasoline actually reached its peak price in the early 1960s if adjusted for inflation, while it reached its low point in 1998? For the demagogues of the left, it is vital that you not know that, just as it was vital to Marxists that people be unaware of the fact that for the average laborer, the 18th century was almost a straight upward line in terms of increasing affluence.

So, let's play with this idea that sudden progress is going to bring with it sudden regression -- or at least make certain people more vulnerable to it. Yesterday we mentioned the 1960s. Why would the most affluent and pampered generation in history suddenly revert to neo-paganism, earth-worship, deconstruction, moral relativism, and a rejection of the very civilizational inheritance that allowed such unprecedented affluence to begin with?

It reminds me of an unfortunate incident that occurred last Sunday, when Mrs. G backed her car out of the garage, and in the process managed to amputate my driver's side view mirror. So for the last few days I've been rolling the Coonmobile without one, and it's more disorienting than you might think. You realize the extent to which successfully moving forward requires you to keep one eye riveted on the past. Without that view of the past, it can sneak up on you in surprising ways. Your every move risks colliding with someone else's unfolding line of spacetime. Furthermore, I found myself reflexively looking for the past in the usual place, but finding only a "hole" -- except that the hole was filled with the present.

It is no exaggeration to say that in the 1960s, the baby boom generation gleefully tore the rearview mirror off the vehicle of civilization, while simultaneously believing that they could put the pedal to the metal on the engine of progress. Is it therefore surprising that so many fatal accidents occurred? The breakup of the family, soaring crime rates, a naturalistic or surreal art that became a celebration of the primitive and subhuman, a deteriorating educational system at all levels, a general recrudescence of neopaganism, with its cult of the body and exaltation of the instincts, women emulating men, men emulating women, the rejection of our own Judeo-Christian wisdom tradition, etc. All because a few adolescents tore the rear view mirror off Dad's car. You know, guys like Obama's good buddy, Bill Ayers.

We all know that conservatives realize that liberals are usually well-intentioned but merely ignorant (or immature, or stupid), while liberals imagine that conservatives are evil -- that they are driven by sinister motives. You know the drill -- if you want to liberate the Iraqi people, you really want to enrich oil companies, or if you think Obama is a vacuous celebrity, you're really a racist, or if you think global warming is a hoax, you really hate the environment, etc., etc., etc. Being that leftists flatter themselves by calling themselves "progressives," like a child, they imagine that the conservative must be the opposite. You might say that they imagine that conservatives want to drive the historical car by looking only in the rear view mirror.

But obviously, if you try to do that, you will be no more successful than the leftist who tries to go forward without reference to the past. You'll inevitably get into a lot of accidents, but they will be of a slightly different nature.

Now, as it so happens, there are conservatives who do try to do that. But I don't like to call them conservatives, since it conflates them with the true conservative, who tries to drive forward while having a deep and panoramic view of the past, where objects may be much, much larger than they appear in your mirror.

I realize I'm rambling here, but one theme that leapt out in this book on Hitler is the parallel between the Nazi movement and the traditionalist movement as articulated by people such as Guenon, Schuon, and Coomaraswamy. First of all, let's eliminate up front the idea that I am calling them "Nazis," or some other such nonsense. However, you don't have to search very far before you discover a persistent critique of Traditionalism, to the effect that it is essentially a fascist movement. That is, it is entirely backward looking, authoritarian, cultish, romantic, and very openly repelled by all things modern.

As it so happens, Schuon spent most of his childhood in Basel, which is situated right over the border between Switzerland and Germany. He was born in 1907, and there seems to be little doubt that his childhood was immersed in the volkisch sentiments of the time, as discussed yesterday. For example, he writes of Basel as a "fairy tale city," where he developed a deep appreciation of its romanticism. His biography notes that he was "Germanic to the core," and "impregnated from childhood by that poetic and mystical culture whose particular expression in fairy tales and traditional melodies he never forgot.... His sensibility led him quite naturally in the direction of German romanticism, nurtured by the Middle Ages, at once chivalrous, enchanted and mystical."

But at the same time, he felt profoundly alienated, as if he were more comfortable in the past than the present: "An introvert, he felt like a stranger, misunderstood by those around him." This led him to explore museums "for the traces of past wisdom which seemed to him like windows opening onto a lost world." He was too young to have taken part in World War I, but interestingly, he reflexively blamed the war on modernity, when in fact, as we shall see, neither it nor its second act, World War II, can be understood outside the context of that same backward-looking romanticism that led Schuon in a very different direction. In other words, these wars may have used modern means developed by science, but they were thoroughly rooted in magic and mythology. Just as the current war against Islam, these were medieval people with modern weapons.

I want to re-emphasize that in no way do I intend to denigrate Schuon, whom I consider to be one of the most profoundly gifted spiritual geniuses in human history. But he's definitely not an "American" thinker, a metaphysic which I believe has the best chance to synthesize past and present into a viable future characterized by real progress. But now I'm out of time, so I'll have to continue this line of thought tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Similar Hoax for Different Volks (2.02.11)

Yesterday we left off with the idea that the scientific and industrial revolutions created a kind of historical rupture or existential earthquake which continues to be felt today. In his book Modern Fascism, Veith discusses the deep alienation that resulted from the dramatic change from an agrarian, religious, hierarchical, and essentially timeless (or cyclical) existence to one that was suddenly ordered around the machine, the clock, democracy, and (small r) reason.

If we say that man appeared approximately 200,000 years ago, his life was essentially unchanged from then until the Agricultural Revolution some 10,000 years ago. Afterwards, not a lot changed for the average Joe until the Industrial Revolution, beginning in the 18th century. So in the overall scheme of things, our current lifestyle is truly just a blip -- 300 years out of a total of 200,000. No wonder, therefore, that humans have such a strongly romantic and nostalgic streak. You would too if you were living in an alien environment and couldn't find your way home.

But some people are more romantic than others, no one more so than the late 18th and early 19th century Germans -- perhaps as a reaction to how suddenly they had advanced in the previous century. While they apparently represented the apex of "civilization" by the onset of World War I, that civilization was superimposed, so to speak, on some very experience-near collective memories of blood, soil, and mythology that were not just bubbling under the surface, but existing side by side with the advances.

Back to that idea in just a moment, but we can get a glimpse of the same phenomenon in our contemporary culture, in which, for example, the most cutting edge science exists side by side with the most primitive new age magic and mythology, a la Deepak and his ilk. Instead of seeing these things as opposed (i.e. scientistic fairy tales and new age mythology), perhaps we should see the new age as a kind of fascist revolt against the anti-humanism of modernity. In fact, if I am not mistaken, Jonah Goldberg makes this connection in his book on Liberal Fascism, but I could be wrong there.

In any event, as we shall see, the cultural matrix that gave birth to Hitler was a deeply "new age" one, with all sorts of books, movements, and secret societies exploring the occult -- seances, spiritism, chanelling, reincarnation, hidden knowledge, etc. This phenomenon was only ramped up in the wake of the catastrophic loss of World War I. For example, Van Vrekhem discusses how much interest there was in contacting the dead, given how many parents had lost their sons to the war -- some five million dead between the German empire and Austria-Hungary.

Veith writes that "fascism is essentially a response to the alienation that has been a part of the spiritual landscape of the West since the Enlightenment.... Science, technology, and the economic realities and environmental damage of the industrial revolution isolate the individual from nature. There has thus been a genuine yearning for community and for an organic unity with the natural world."

Living a life of cold logic is intrinsically alienating. There is nothing Rational about living a life of pure (again, small r) reason. But nor is there anything rational about abandoning reason altogether and living a purely instinctual life, which is clearly what occurred with Nazi Germany, but also to a lesser extent in the 1960s, not just in America, but all over the developed world.

I remember a particular patient who was maybe a decade older than I, and who was a young adult by the end of the '60s, whereas I was still a young teen. He was a deeply alienated man, and quite hostile to religion. Interestingly, he frequently articulated his alienation in the form of nostalgia for the 1960s, which, you might say he missed out on. He was more a witness than participant in the dionysian frenzy of that decade, which made him feel as if that is what was missing in his life. If he could only go back and relive the '60s, but this time do it right -- completely obliterate his ego and live some sort of communal life with no tension, instant sexual gratification, no boundaries, etc. For him, it was as if there had been this giant party taking place, but he was on the outside looking in. (The film American Beauty also explores this theme.)

But again, this was just a symbol for my patient's current alienation, which could only be resolved now, not by dreaming and fantasizing about the past. The blogosphere is a pretty sorry place, but some of the sorriest people of all are the ones like my patient, who are now in their 60s and posting on dailykos about how much they miss the 1960s, and how the Obamessiah is going to bring back that sense of community and oneness!

Again, this is anything but progressiveism; it is pure romanticism, which is always backward looking -- and not just backward looking, but backward to an idealized past that never existed to begin with. It is pure projection of present existential pain, and escapism into the past. No one is more conservative than a progressive. It's just that what they want to conserve is childhood and all of its privileges, i.e., irresponsibility, dependency, entitlement, rebellion against the grown-ups, polymorphous perversity, weak boundaries, etc.

Hey, who wouldn't? For someone who lives without any religious telos, the denial of impulses seems stifling and arbitrary, because it "leads nowhere," and merely becomes bourgeois respectability or rank hypocrisy. As Veith writes, "If objective knowledge is alienating, subjective experience is liberating and healing. Authentic experience comes from unleashing the emotions, cultivating the subjective and irrational dimension of life." So never ask why the left is so hysterical and irrational, because that is the whole point. It is a way of life. You will look in vain for the "rational end" they are seeking, because the emotional irrationalism is its own end. I am quite convinced that leftism is simply a "way of life" -- or, more precisely, a way of managing one's emotional life, of dealing with the pain and conflict of existence. It will be with us so long as alienation is with us, as an alternative to religion.

In Hitler & His God, Van Vrekhem goes into considerable detail about the "volkisch movement" that was a big part of the appeal of Nazism -- or which Nazism co-opted, to be precise. At the root of this movement was the idea that Christianity was a foreign influence superimposed on a much deeper reservoir of primitive beliefs. Christianity unifies people through a common belief system, but "volk" indicates "a tribal unity of blood, unmodified by ideas of a common humanity. Religious in the intensity of their beliefs, volkists had had no real equivalent in other Western nations."

The concept is especially difficult for normal (non-leftist) Americans to comprehend, being that we are the first nation explicitly created around abstract and universal principles instead of more primitive modes of blood, soil, mythology, etc. But here again, we can see how the modern doctrine of multiculturalism is in reality a quite primitive reversion back to earlier ways of life. Multiculturalism is specifically a rejection of American principles, what with its obsession with blood and race instead of ideas. This is why when you criticize Obama's ideas, he accuses you of being a racist.

For Americans -- and for Christians -- "essence" is in the individual. That is, we are created in the image of God, so that our deepest personal essence partakes of divinity. But for the volkists -- and for the multicultural left -- essence is in the group: "Volk is a much more comprehensive term than 'people,' for to German thinkers ever since the birth of German romanticism in the late eighteenth century, Volk signified the union of a group of people with a transcendental 'essence.' This 'essence' might be called 'nature,' or 'cosmos' or 'mythos,' but in each instance it was fused to man's innermost nature and represented the source of his creativity, his depth of feeling, his individuality and his unity with other members of the Volk. The essential element here is the linking of the human soul with its natural surroundings, with the 'essence' of nature."

Now, why do you think that virtually all leftists are hysterical environmentalists and Ice Age skeptics? Here again, you need only scratch the surface of their irrational rhetoric to appreciate a reservoir of primitive, volkisch-like sentiments of "unity" with mother earth, of healing the planet, etc. Never mind that premodern humans were the worst stewards of the planet imaginable, in part because they were so fused with it that they didn't know the environment existed. Ironically, we only know about the environment because we have transcended it. But again, in the absence of a truly integral religious framework, this transcendence will be experienced as alienation, as if human beings are "suspended" above the earth, and need to come back down and re-merge with it.

For (non-left) Americans, the individual stands above the state, and derives his inalienable rights from the Creator. But for the volkist, the group is the supreme identity that stands above or behind the state. Truly, in Nazi Germany, there was only one individual, Hitler; but in turn, he was merely the "embodiment" of the volk, which is rooted in blood and soil. Thus, "it was the genius of Adolf Hitler to wed the volkisch flight from reality to political discipline and efficient political organization." Reminds me of someone....

To be continued....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dialogue With Death

I'm so preoccupied with this book on Hitler, that I don't think I can blog about anything else. The problem is, I haven't had time to reflect upon or assimilate it, so I will have to do so in real time, with you as guinea pigs. I think I last did this almost a year ago, with the book God and Gold, by Walter Russell Mead. That book was so rich with implications that I spent a couple of weeks "dialoguing" with the author.

This book is also rich with implications, although I still can't say whether I can give it a general recommendation, due to the Aurobindo factor (I also haven't quite finished it yet). Actually, there's not a single mention of Sri Aurobindo for the first 522 pages, which analyze the Nazi phenomenon from every angle, including its well documented immersion in the occult. Only in the last 140 pages or so does the author attempt to tie it all together with Sri Aurobindo's spiritual vision of the cosmos, which will not be to everyone's taste. (Oddly enough, the book ends on page 666.)

But it seems that I'm not getting a lot of traffic these days anyway, so I can't really drive away more readers. So here we go. A rambling dialogue with source and causes of ultimate evil, to try to see if we can derive any general principles, and whether or not they have any cosmic consequences. In any event, if these posts are more rambling than usual, now you know why.

But let's first wrap up the last few posts about the source and end of cosmic evolution, because that itself might provide an important context for understanding "ultimate evil," which will in a sense represent "evolution gone wrong." For if evolution has an ultimate point, or destination, then anything that interferes with the process of realizing it will be more or less evil (but not absolutely everything, for if evolution were a "smooth" and linear process with no obstacles, little could be gained from it; let's just say at this juncture that there are "legitimate" or intrinsic obstacles and "illegitimate" or extrinsic ones).

To cite one obvious example, if reconciliation with the absolute principle requires that we first individuate from the group, then any political system that is hostile to individuality will be a priori evil. Thus, on that basis alone, Nazi Germany, or communist China, or any other nation that radically subordinates the individual to the group is evil, because they specifically prevent the emergence of the "many" that can be reconciled on a higher level with the One. Rather, they impose a "false oneness" from on high, or in the case of the left, enforce a radical diversity, or absolute relativity, from below. But in both cases, power ultimately trumps truth and prevents evolutionary progress, which rests on the synthesis into higher unities, both individually and collectively.

In Reason Through Revelation, Errol Harris attempts in the last chapter to reconcile Christianity with cosmic evolution in a manner that is strikingly compatible with Sri Aurobindo's vision (not to mention Teilhard's Phenomenon of Man, which was only posthumously published in 1959, a year after Harris' book). Harris writes that,

"It is therefore in and through the human mind in its moral organization and its social setting that the cosmic process fulfills itself, and the completion of its fulfillment would be the final perfection of conscious personality. The perfection of man thus merges into the perfection of God" (so to speak, God "in himself" not being subject to change). He quotes Charles Raven, who remarked that "If history is the completion of the story unfolded in its earlier stages by biology and psychology, [then] theology, whose primary data are the lives and experiences of the saints through whom God most fully reveals himself to us, should be at once the culmination of the whole."

Once again we are confronted by the idea of wholeness, which for me is the missing ontological key, without which nothing makes sense on any level. Wholeness is a thread that courses through every artery of the cosmos, unifying the above and below on the vertical axis, but also accounting for the relative totality of any given horizontal level. It is why there can be the relatively autonomous worlds of matter, life, and mind, but also why they are descended "from above." In the absence of wholeness, there is no accounting for either fact.

Harris then goes into a discussion of Jesus, whom he describes as an ideal of "human perfection which is the truth of all other ideals and the fulfillment of every other doctrine of human good. It is that upon which all moral and political theories converge. And it is an ideal of human personality, realized in a community such that every possible achievement in every field of human endeavor would be open to its members -- for what, in such a society, could serve as a bar to progress in other respects, so long as this moral achievement were assured?... This would be the commonwealth of God, and the charge upon its citizens is to be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect. The final perfection of man and the perfection of God are identified" (emphases mine).

Now, this comes very close to the Raccoon ideal of "political truth" outlined on pp. 178-180 of your Coonifesto. For there it is written that the universal criteria we may apply to the goodness of a culture is in its ability to foster or impede integration and actualization. As I wrote there,

"If you apply these simple criteria, you will quickly come to the realization that for ninety-nine percent of human history, most cultures have actively stifled the expression of any unique potential, while at the same time erecting preposterous worldviews encouraging psychological fragmentation in the form of bizarre rituals, scapegoating, belief in strange gods, paranoia between the sexes, racial hatred, institutionalized violence, pointless taboos, and the abuse of children. This is why, with regard to history, my specific recommendation is the same as it would be for anyone involved in an abusive relationship: get out."

Now, not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we shall soon see that Nazism represents a perfect shadow of what we might call "Christian evolution," or the possibility of further spiritual evolution within a Christian framework. In virtually all areas, Hitler wished to invert Christianity and literally create a new religion that represented its very opposite. As John Toland wrote, "National Socialism was a religion and Hitler was its Christ."

Van Vrekhem makes a convincing case that there actually wasn't any such thing as "Nazism" in any consistently articulate sense. Much less was Nazi Germany primarily "fascist." Rather, its ultimate principle was not only the fuhrer in general, but Hitler in particular. Truly, just as Christianity is not fundamentally a religion of "ideas" but of a person, so too can it be said that Nazism was a man. Furthermore, as we shall see, he was most definitely a kind of "word made flesh," only in a very different sense than that with which we are familiar.

Nevertheless -- and this is another key point -- the Hitler phenomenon could not have occurred in the absence of a cosmic principle that allows word to become flesh. In other words, it was as if he were hijacking a legitimate channel for a very illegitimate end. But when you think about it, this is not fundamentally different than when someone uses language in order to lie. Our cosmos is built in such a way that objects and symbols may embody, encode, and transmit truth. But for that very same reason, they may encode and convey lies and ugliness. Likewise, if art is to exist, it will be capable of transmitting the celestial light from above as well as diabolical darkness from below.

It seems that in the midst of chaos, uncertainty, and rapid change, human beings will begin to long for a messiah. In some sense, the messiah answers to a need in human beings, even a built in archetypal expectation. If one studies the cultural matrix of first century Judaism, one can better understand the context in which Jesus appeared. Given the difficult situation of the Jewish people at the time, there was much general longing and expectation for a "savior from above," who would smite their enemies, restore order to the world, and bring about justice for the wronged and oppressed.

Similarly, Van Vrekhem goes into considerable detail about the utter trauma sustained by the German people in the wake of losing World War I. In contemporary America, our lives are so stable that we just can't imagine what it would be like for every pillar of stability to be obliterated. I suppose we got a taste of it in the Great Depression, which was precisely why so many nations lurched toward a fascist solution. There is no doubt that FDR rode to power on a similar messianic wave as Hitler, which is precisely what allowed him to usurp and wield presidential power in a theretofore unprecedented way. Most of what FDR did was demonstrably harmful to the economy, but the need was so deep for a "strong man from above," that the people let it slide. Again, there was a kind of perfect resonance between the messiah and the masses. (We will later discuss this in the context of Obamania, as it is a reflection of these same enduring principles.)

Now, to back up a bit, there is no doubt that man has been dealing with an ongoing existential crisis with the onset of modernity. I'm not going to press the point, partly because it's just too obvious, but the rupture between the Middle Ages and the scientific revolution was so great, that we are still dealing with its implications. It is as if there are tectonic plates in human time, more or less continuous planes that occasionally shift, causing an earthquake in history. One such quake was the "axial period," during which most of the world's revelations were downloaded from above.

Then, after the world was largely oriented around these revelations came the massive quake of the scientific revolution, with all of its implications and challenges, blessings and curses. To be continued.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The New and Improved Evolution, Now With Added Meaning!

Why don't I post on Sundays and take Mondays off? Mondays are always a squeeze. And why is that? Because there is insufficient time to find my end, and therefore my beginning.

You see, these posts only discover what they are about in the process of being written. They are definitely about something, there's no doubt about that. But unlike my competitors, they are completely improvised and omade, so it can take awhile for me to get what I'm driving at. I can't just get to the point if I don't know what it is. Unless I actually do know what it is, only implicitly instead of explicitly. If that is the case, then what we call evolution, or developmental time, is a function of an implicate order becoming explicate, perhaps as understood by David Bohm.

This, of course, is the whole point of psychoanalysis, where it is assumed that by free associating -- that is, by saying whatever pops into your melon -- a deeper order will emerge from the seeming chaos. However, it generally takes a trained professional to recognize this order, but not always, any more than you need a literary critic to understand the deeper meaning of a novel. But you do need to disable your left brain, so to speak, in order to allow the right brain to give its deposition. You will notice that that is something with which the scientistically minded always have great difficulty, which is why they habitually confuse their mental abstractions with reality.

So that's what we do here, in the "faith" that order will emerge from chaos, and the post will find its attractor state before it's time to go to work. Which means that the future is in some sense implicit in the present, at least as it pertains to thought. As Brand Blanshard writes, "So intimately are end and process bound up with each other, that thought can be defined only with reference to its end; indeed, it is that end in the course of realization."

Now, what if the cosmos is more like a giant thought than a giant object? If looked at in that way, then many of the most paradoxical aspects of existence will suddenly make a lot more sense, including evolution. Because as it stands, biologists can only pretend that evolution makes sense, so long as they place it in the matrix of an outmoded 19th century scientism. But nothing whatsoever aside from prejudice, convention, and lack of imagination prevents them from understanding evolution in a more cosmic context. As mentioned a couple of posts back, much of the problem results from placing arbitrary, manmade lines where there are none.

Or, as I put it in my book, who can actually say what a mature cosmos looks like, unless you either already have an implicit idea already, or ignore the question altogether? Physics operates under the assumption that all time slices are equivalent (or value neutral), but in a developing cosmos, that can't possibly be true. I mean, no physicist actually lives his life as if one slice of time is no different than any other slice. There are people who do live that way: they are called autistic or psychotic. Or sometimes even just a severe depression can do this to you: suddenly time is devoid of all of the qualities that render it meaningful. Rather, life becomes just meaningless duration, which is to say, a living death.

Likewise, the biologist assumes that evolution is a wholly lateral reshuffling of genes, so that any vertical development is illusory. It's just our opinion, say, that a human being is higher than an ape -- and even there, a lot of people, such as PETA members, are at least philosophically consistent in insisting that human beings are not more valuable than animals, and that "murdering" 6 million chickens is morally equivalent to the Holocaust. Colonel Sanders really is as evil as Adolf Hitler. But these moral retards obviously don't denigrate Colonel Sanders, only trivialize Hitler. In so doing, they actually make genocide more likely, because if murdering a human being is no worse than eating a chicken, what's the big deal? (I know it sounds crazy, but Dennis Prager had on a PETA spokesman who insisted that one could draw no intrinsic distinction between humans and chickens.)

It all makes no sense, for any normal human being knows implicitly, and with absolute veracity, that human beings are infinitely more valuable than animals -- if only because we can know how valuable animals are! I'll join PETA the day that animals open up hospitals to take care of humans, or when mosquitos get together to try to eliminate malaria.

But most human beings are not normal. True, they are average, but average is not normal. The average Palestinian wants to murder every last Jewish man, woman, and child, but that is not normal. But what is human normality? Here again, if you attend a major university, you will learn that there is no such thing -- that what we call normal is abnormal for another culture. Values are a function of culture, not a reflection of timeless truth, since the latter is strictly impossible on any Darwinian/materialistic basis. One person gives their daughter a sweet sixteen party, while another person chops off her head because she held hands with a Christian boy. We are in no position to condemn the latter.

Nor can we condemn Putin for invading a small country to secure oil for itself, since we did the same thing in Iraq. Which is odd, because we don't see nearly the kind of hysteria emanating from the left over the Georgia bashing as we do over George Bush. All leftists know that George Bush is an evil liar who invaded Iraq in order to enrich the oil companies. But why then is their rhetoric so muted, so nuanced, with regard to Putin? Because leftism not only lies, it is a lie.

That is, once you eliminate objective truth and virtue, then whatever you say is merely arbitrary. It is said in order to achieve an end, which ultimately comes down to power, because that is all there is in a Darwinian and materialist cosmos. Never ask why leftist thought is so inconsistent and ad hoc. It has no principles except that there are no principles. Which means that there actually is one principle: power, or survival.

When a leftist says that he cannot say when human life begins, because it is "above my pay grade," one can only laugh. Since when do leftists refrain from making sweeping moral condemnations? They do when it is a matter of power and convenience. They can never openly disclose the first principles that animate them, for to know their beginning would be to know their devious ends. Obviously, in actual practice, the secular leftist has no difficulty whatsoever in insisting that a human fetus is of no more intrinsic value than a decayed tooth. A woman has an absolute right to do whatever she pleases with "her" body, so the fetus doesn't even properly exist. Why not just say so?

Again, because if a leftist just blurts out their first principles in mixed company, people -- spiritually normal people, anyway -- will be repelled. A leftist cannot say in polite company that there is no moral distinction between the U.S. and Russia, even though their every word and deed would actually have you believe that the U.S. is worse.

A conservative is inconsistent in the application of his principles, which is called "hypocrisy." But a true leftist is inconsistent in the articulation of his principles, because they are rooted in convenience and are therefore not even principles, just nihilism by another name. One day the left can fight against racial discrimination, the next day they are the only organized ideology that openly defends it. Why? Because they don't actually care about racial discrimination per se, unless it can result in the acquisition of political power. That is the only consistent thread that unifies the otherwise irreconcilable opposites.

The other day, Dennis Prager published an essay entitled Why I Am Not a Liberal. Agree or disagree, you can see how easy it is for a conservative to lay out their first principles in an open and transparent way, something that a liberal can never do, on pain of never being elected. Hence the need for nuance. "Nuance" is a word invented by liberals to cover the rhetorical divide between what liberals actually believe and what they must say in order to get elected. "Simplistic" is the word they use for people who can articulate moral truth in an unambiguous manner.

For example, a conservative can come right out and say, like Prager, that "I believe that the bigger government gets and the more powerful the state becomes, the greater the threat to individual liberty and the greater the likelihood that evil will ensue. In the 20th century, the powerful state, not religion, was the greatest purveyor of evil in the world." In contrast, the leftist believes that "the bigger government gets and the more powerful the state becomes, the greater the enhancement of equality and the greater the likelihood that social justice will ensue. In all of history, religion, not the powerful state, has been the greatest purveyor of evil in the world." Again, that's what they actually believe. But what they say is a different matter, at least outside college classrooms or Kucinich campaign headquarters.

Likewise, for me it is a commonplace to say that "the American military has done more to preserve and foster goodness and liberty on Earth than all the artists and professors in America put together." In fact, there are actually no courageous leftist artists, despite their constant self-flattery about "speaking truth to power." Speaking truth to power is what Solzhenitsyn did, not what Sean Penn, George Clooney, or the Dixie Chicks do. I mean, imagine the courage of George Clooney to condemn Joe McCarthy! How do you explain such uncommon valor, especially in a cynical age in which young American fascists join the military to advance George Bush's evil empire! For years, I heard the left complain about how Saddam and so many other authoritarian regimes were our responsibility. If that were true, then one would think they would be pleased that someone finally came along and did something about it. Fat chance.

One could go on and on. My point is....

Uh oh. What is my point?

Well, one point is that when listening to the left, you must always read between the lyin'. But that's not much of a point. No need to champion the bobvious.

The other point -- a more implicit metapoint -- is that, as Errol Harris writes, "if anything is to be what it is, the whole must be. Because of this implicit presence in every finite being, every finite being proclaims the existence of God." In other words, "the final emergent is logically prior to the undeveloped forms. They can be rightly conceived only in terms of what they are becoming, and so can the process itself. The finally mature is the key to the nature of every immature phase. The developed form, therefore, is logically prior, even when it is temporally posterior, to every other form."

Now, don't you know, this goes to the heart of my beef with Schuon, who believed that the cosmos was necessarily "winding down" into increased evil, chaos, and disorder, the further time takes us from the ideal. But if this were true, we would live in a very different kind of cosmos on every level. Unfortunately, I don't have time to fully make this point, but I think I've finally resolved my painful dilemma between the entropic cosmos of Schuon and the evolutionary one of Aurobindo. In a sense, it is the "third way" for which man has been searching ever since the scientific revolution began to oust him from his comforting religious framework some 400 years ago. Virtually every -ism, -ology, and -osophy since then has been an attempt to resolve this tension, usually at the expense of eliminating one side of the dialectic. But the third way would unify science and religion at a much deeper level, and reveal the One from which they are both an omanation.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Let Go and Let Bob

When all the senses are stilled, when the mind is at rest, when the intellect wavers not -- that, say the wise, is the highest state. --Katha Upanishad

The fourth commandment, “remembering the sabbath,” is another one that materialists naturally strain to comprehend. But like the other commandments, it has a literal meaning, a moral meaning, a symbolic meaning, an esoteric meaning, and a Raccoon meaning.

The literal meaning, of course, follows from the idea that God purportedly took "six days" to create the world, and on the seventh, sat down, cooled his heels, and just enjoyed the show. Furthermore, he didn’t merely spend the time doing “nothing.” Rather, he specifically contemplated the fact that his creation was “good.” Since we are created in the image of God, we are called upon to imitate this pattern by being productive for six days but then resting and rejewvenating on the seventh -- to relux and call on a deity.

But this commandment has so many important implications that it’s almost impossible to cover them all in a single post. I discussed some of them in my book, specifically, on pp. 236-238. First of all, if “observing the sabbath” meant nothing more than taking it easy on Saturday or Sunday, it would hardly have much intrinsic spiritual significance. But clearly, since it is included in the Decalogue, it must be of the utmost spiritual importance. But how? I don't know. Go ask a rabbi. Let me finish this coffee and think for a minute. Hey, where's Petey, anyway? It's already 6:30. Late again. Oh, I forgot.... it's his sabbath.

In order to understand this commandment, we must go back to the very beginning of Genesis, where God eternally “creates the heavens and the earth.” In the esoteric view, this refers to the continuous separation of the vertical (heaven, eternity, the Absolute) and horizontal (earth, time, the relative world). So long as we are in the horizontal -- the horizontal alone -- we are indeed “strangers in this world.” In the absence of the vertical, it is a sort of absurd hell, or at best, a meaningless pleasure palace in which we should mindlessly chase after our lusts and desires until crying time. “A raging animal inside of a dying carcass,” as I believe I once heard Alan Watts put it.

But “remembering the sabbath” has to do with vertical recollection, and cultivating the leisure necessary to achieve it. It is literally re-membering, for it involves reacquainting oursophs with our ground of being before things get too out of hand. In other worlds, it is possible to get so lost in the horizontal -- one’s horizontal commitments can become so complex and all-consuming -- that it is difficult to find one’s way back to that OMnipresent hole in creation known as the sabbath.

For the sabbath ultimately represents a shorthand way of discussing those little springs that dot the landscape of being, through which vertical energies bubble forth from the ground. Every night, before going to sleep, I make it a point to remember how and where I drank from one of these springs during the day. No matter how difficult my day, I can almost always remember some point at which I was “given my daily bread,” so to speak -- some point at which the vertical energies shone through and lit up the inside. Come to think of it, it often happens while making one of these little morning raids on the wild godhead. It’s a big reason I write them. I wake up looking for one of those little springs bubbling up around my computer. As always, the challenge is to make sure I bring a big enough crock.

In any event, it is specifically because the sabbath is “built in” to the cosmos that vertical energies can enter and leave the “kingdom of man.” In other words, we aren’t trapped here below deck in the dark hull of the horizontal, merely sailing toward our doom. It is the reason why prayer, meditation, contemplation, and lectio divina all work. These are all activities that make the vertical presence present, because they allow us to step outside the relentless stream of time and sit on the shore for a bit, “watching the river flow.”

Through these inactivities, we may turn toward what is “behind” or “above” the external world and its nihilocracy of urgent nonsense. Existence is woven from the warp and weft of horizontal and vertical energies, and if you are wholly committed to the former, you can well understand how you might become completely warped.

Now critically, the purpose of the sabbath isn’t just to gear us up for the horizontal, a brief reprieve from the toil and drudgery of existence. Rather, the reverse is true. Although there is a rhythm and a dialectic between the sabbath and the worldly, in my view, the entire purpose of creation is the sabbath, not understood literally, but esoterically as our ever-present link to the whole. Keeping the sabbath holy is etymologically linked to the idea of “wholeness” and healing. I don’t intend to bash the left again, but one thing you will notice about “progressives” is that they are relentless. The idea of the sabbath is foreign to them, because it has been replaced by the idea of trying to force perfection in the horizontal, something which can never happen. For one thing, it is already happening. But only now. And now. And now.

In other words, you must occasionally step back from creation -- as did God -- and realize that it is already good. It is only for us to realize it. But this realization is more of a challenge than you realize. Like the injunction against envy -- which is actually a reward and not an “order" -- the ability to truly experience “sabbath consciousness” is also a reward. It is something that most people have a great deal of difficulty achieving. Therefore, they displace their own inability to experience the simple joy of being, and project it into the future, when the revolution creates Sugar Candy Mountain on earth -- when everyone uses mass transit, when Walmart is driven out of business, and when the last real man has been castrated with the entrails of the last conservative. In short, progressives habitually turn an existential defect into a virtue, since politics is their religion, 24/7/365. To “remember” the sabbath would mean forgetting about the revolution, and that would be the one sin.

When we are caught up in the stream of time, the unity of reality is broken up into hopes, dreams, regrets, wishes, plans, resentments, etc. You cannot get away from these things so long as you are in time, because they are a function of time. The only way out is up and in, where we are called upon to live as if we are already in paradise. In truth, the sabbath is not a recollection but a “memoir of the future.” Here, the world does not need to be worked on or improved, merely enjoyed as it is. In a strange way, we would live in paradise if people were only capable of realizing that we already do. Just toss a frame over your shoulder and enjoy the work of the old master painter.

After all, this present moment of your life is the end result of thousands and thousands of little plans, goals, choices, and decisions you have made over the course of your life. Are you able to step back for a moment and realize that this is it, that this is the very moment you've been waiting for, the result of all your plans coming to fruition? Or are you in reality simply addicted to “planning” as a way to escape the moment?

In the final unalysis, the sabbath must be internalized, so that one has access to it at all times, like a portable slacktuary, a zone of silence, a realm of inner peace between you and the world. For as much as you may think that you are in the world, the opposite is generally true. The world is in you, pal -- it sinks its teeth into you and will not let go, which is why we have to consciously practice letting it go and “dying” to the world.

For the sabbath is also a rehearsal for the Big Sabbath, when it is dark and no man can work anyway. As Petey quipped in One Cosmos, “The paradox at the heart of the sabbath is that you must live your life as if you already abide in the eternal, because you do, but aspire to get there as if your life depends upon it, because it does. The former is more difficult than the latter, because your worries, anxieties, plans, and conventional aspirations trick you into thinking there is another way out. And if you believe that, you are doing the adversary’s heavy lifting for him, and giving him his black sabbath rest.” So relax and die a little.

Lay me down / In silence easy / To be born again / To be born again / In another world / Got a home on high / Ain't nothing but a stranger in this world / I'm nothing but a stranger in this world / Got a home on high / In another land / So far away / Way up in the heaven / In another time / In another place --Van Morrison, Astral Weeks