Ugly Fantasies and Beautiful Truth
As we just witnessed with President Bush, a leader who fails to resonate in this unconscious manner simply will not be perceived as effective, no matter how competent he is. From even before day one of his presidency, Bush was unable to use language in such a way as to bind up the anxiety and hatred of liberals. First, just as it is difficult for the non-evil to understand the evil, it's also difficult (at least without training) for the non-crazy to truly understand the crazy. On top of that, Bush never appreciated the level of liberal bitterness and resentment over Al Gore's unsuccessful attempt to exploit the judicial system to steal the presidency to which liberals were entitled.
Frankly, there is probably nothing he could have done about that short of deinstitutionalization of the tenured and media elite, which would have caused a huge new problem with homeless mentally ill.
In order to perform a fantasy analysis on a text, one records all strong feeling words (including anything related to the family, e.g., mother, father, baby) regardless of context, plus any unusual metaphors or gratuitously repeated words. One also eliminates negatives, because of the symmetrical logic of the unconscious, which converts a negation to an affirmation (for example, the more liberals complain about people questioning their patriotism, the more it emphasizes their lack thereof).
As deMause writes, "most political meetings are usually held not to make decisions but to deepen the social trance, to switch into political alters, and to entrain the group's unconscious emotional strategies for handling the inner emotional problems of its hidden world." Because liberals are by nature such emotional creatures who project so much unmetabolized emotion into politics, they are much more transparent in their fantasies (indeed, as is true of any more primitive group).
I have no idea whether or not fantasy analysis works. But I do know that it's fun, and that it can suggest surprisingly primitive emotional themes beneath what is an otherwise tedious formality. Anyway, here goes:
sacrifices... gathering clouds... raging storms... crisis... war... violence and hatred... badly weakened... greed... failure... adversaries... threaten... crisis... sapping of confidence... nagging fear... fear... conflict... discord... petty grievances... false promises... recriminations... worn-out... young... childish... strangled... lash of the whip... fought and died... struggled... sacrificed... raw... birth... crisis...
ground has shifted... consumed us... too big... too small... ill... ill... crisis... out of control... perils we can scarcely imagine... blood of generations... child... threats... threat...
terror... slaughtering innocents... broken... weakness... bitter swill... dark... old hatreds... conflict... ills... destroy... starved bodies... hungry minds... suffering... levees break... cut... darkest hours... child...
children... father... birth... coldest... dying... icy river... abandoned... enemy advancing... snow stained with blood... father... alarmed... danger... dangers... hardship... icy currents... storms... children's children...
Hmm. Lots about abused, threatened, and neglected children, capped off with cold, icy, and abandoning father. I wonder what that means?
More generally, it seems to me that Obama is attempting to induct us into a social trance in order to condition us to the extraordinary and unprecedented measures he will have to take in order to deliver us from the apocalyptic evils he lays out in the speech, i.e, the ground has shifted, things are spinning out of control, and we're about to be eaten by this threatening Moloch.
It would be one thing if he were using this overheated rhetoric to describe nazis or Islamists, and to mobilize us to recognize the danger. But let's face it: he's declaring war on the American way of life. Economically, he wishes to destroy America in order to save it. It all seems so appealing! I mean, he just promised to help all Americans get well paid jobs, free healthcare, and a dignified retirement. Government. What can't it do? (besides govern itself). Father has been ousted. Mother government to the rescue.
As the farcical Marx taught us, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. But what comes after that? We're still dealing with the tragedy of the New Deal and the farce of the Great Society. No doubt Obama is a farce to be reckoned with, but I see two possibilities. If we divide history into Petey's descending stages of Gods, Kings, Men, Weasels, Beasts, and Chaos, I think FDR would be the king, LBJ the man. Clinton was the weasel. This would suggest that we are about to enter a beastly chaos, from which the only solution would be the return to a new age of gods, or, more properly, God. God or chaos. Vertical Man or horizontal beast. Sounds about right.
Just remember: in the Age of Obama, dissent is no longer the highest form of patriotism but the last refuge of a scoundrel. But don't worry. Even if you're a white devil, you can still embrace what is right.
I hate touching pitch. That's enough of that. Let's move on. And in. And up. I'm hesitant to dive into the Balthasar business, because this may be the last post of the week. If I do go in that direction, it is very likely that it will take me the rest of the year to complete the project. So, do I really want to commit mysoph to that, especially since I don't know whether I can do it to begin with? Imagine Meditations on the Tarot, only x 15. Also, Balthasar makes Unknown Friend's rambling look like a monument to brevity.
Why Balthasar, anyway? Hell, I don't know. Just because that's where the Spirit has lead me, I guess. But if I do do this, I'm really going to have to hand things over to Bob's Unconscious for an extended period of time, because there's no way in the world that the conscious mind could ever wrap itself around this mammoth tusk. I'm afraid I'll end up driving the rest of the readers into extinction.
Then again, whenever I reach this impasse, I always return to my first principle. Which is what? I guess that this blog is primarily a personal spiritual exercise that you folks are allowed to peek in on. As soon as I deviate from O, I lose the interior thread. It reminds me of that film about Picasso, in which the camera is placed behind a glass canvas, so you can see him at work. This computer screen is like my canvas, and you folks are sitting behind it. Maybe I should even get one of those cameras, so you could see it happen in real time.
How to begin.... That is actually the first question which thought must ask of itself, and if you avoid that question, then it is likely that you'll never recover the Way. Appropriately, this is precisely where Balthasar begins: "Beginning is a problem not only for... the philosopher," but "a primal decision which includes all later ones for the person whose life is based on response and decisions."
This very first decision is one that remains with us and conditions, if not determines, all of our subsequent steps. Indeed, the first word we choose must be one which we "will not have to take back, one which [we] will not afterwards have to correct with violence, but one which is broad enough to foster and include all words to follow, and clear enough to penetrate all the others with its light."
Okay. So what is this first word? For Balthasar, the whole purpose of the first seven volumes of his theological trinity is to focus on the transcendental category of beauty in order to reveal the truth of God. Thus, "Beauty is the word that shall be our first." That beauty exists, no one could deny. "Glory" is the name we give to divine beauty, another property that no proper human could deny (although improper ones may well insist that this beauty is only in the beholder, and that the experience of it does not correspond to any real object or inhere in the world).
Thus, the first seven volumes of Balthasar's trilogy deal with beauty; the second five with the good (the theo-drama); and the last three with truth (the theo-logic). Of the three, Balthasar clearly feels that beauty is first among equals, in that it radiates the other two transcendentals in a particularly holistic manner (each of the transcendentals participates in the other two; I would go so far as to say that they share the same substance in three modes, so to speak). As Balthasar puts it, beauty "dances as an unconstrained splendour around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another."
It is one thing to "speak truth to power," which has nearly become a cliche due to liberal abuse. But how about speaking beauty to power? To speak beauty to the ugliness and barbarism that surrounds us? Who shall speak beauty to a degraded art, to a sterile and technocratic knowledge, and to a human being rendered ugly through the degradations of materialism, leftism, and metaphysical Darwinism?
A world that isn't penetrated at every moment by the divine beauty is surely not worth living in. Such a world would be a living hell, minus the living. "Naked matter remains as an indigestible symbol of fear and anguish." The human soul, who is meant to be the "bride of God," is instead forced into an arranged marriage, an impossible union with the "object of his impotence," "which finally spoil's man's taste for love."
Furthermore, in a world without beauty, "the good also loses its attractiveness, the self-evidence of why it must be carried out." Once we have descended to this plane, it is but a step to the other side, "for this too is a possibility, and even the more exciting one: Why not investigate Satan's depths?" Lies, ugliness, transgression. Vanquish beauty and you have vanquished the mystery of Being, so the mystagogic and mystifying non-being of various alternative universes becomes the default position. You can no longer even speak to people with the language of divine beauty, for they have forgotten how to perceive it, let alone appreciate its connection to total truth.
Yes, "the Witness borne by Being becomes untrustworthy for the person who can no longer read the language of beauty," for such a person cannot know the interior language of God. The Word and its world have become illegible. He is of the world, but no longer in it.