Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Messianic Mystique and Mythic Mistakes

If mankind is unavoidably rooted in mythos, what is the myth of liberalism? For if we can decode their mythology, then perhaps we can understand the deep structure that binds them to their strange gods (re-ligio meaning literally to "bind").

I suppose I wouldn't so much mind their strange gods if it didn't cost me so much in the form of tribute every April 15. Also, it's not fair, since while we are not permitted (and rightfully so) to establish a state religion, they are permitted to establish a religion of the almighty state.

At least a religious person is aware of the fact that he has "faith." But another annoying characteristic of the left is that they also have a faith, except that it is detached from right reason and moral imagination, so that it is ultimately and literally grounded in "nothing."

Let's begin with the dictionary definition of myth, which is "a traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of a worldview of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon." It is a parable or allegory, meaning that it must be interpreted, not taken at face value.

In this regard, myth is to exegesis as empirical reality is to the scientific method. Both science and religion begin with a certain type of "material," but do not end there.

Again, as I mentioned the other day, science begins with the empirical world -- rocks, animals, planets, whatever -- but searches for deeper principles to unify the seemingly disconnected events that present themselves to our senses. For example, it requires a huge leap of imagination to realize that the falling apple shares an underlying principle with the circling planet, which we call gravity.

Religion also begins with empirical (or experience-close) reality, e.g., existence (both in its subjective and objective modes), scripture, beauty, virtue, the sacred, etc. Consider Eckhart, whom we've been discussing. He begins with scripture in its literal sense, just as the scientist begins with matter in its empirical sense. But as McGinn explains, "the literal sense of the biblical text is only the starting point for grasping the inner meaning of what God wants to convey to humans."

In this regard, I think you can see a rather transparent parallel between religious and scientistic fundamentalists who cannot see beneath the matter because of a misguided fidelity to biblical literalism, i.e., to the surface only. Materialists take the most stupid possible approach to scripture, and then call it "stupid."

But in reality, just as the material world has layer upon layer of deeper meaning, so too does scripture. Again, "For Eckhart, the profundity of the Bible, indeed, of every text in the Bible, means that it contains an inexhaustible fecundity of truths." But you cannot expect the uninitiated to be capable of articulating the inner richness of this truth, any more than you can expect him to understand quantum mechanics.

For Eckhart, the Bible reveals a densely interconnected spiritual world beneath its superficial diversity of source, mode, and style. But always, he focuses on the distinction between inner and outer, in that, in the final analysis, everything in the Bible is about the soul.

As such, more than the surface understanding, "it is the presence of the Word made flesh here and now that is his concern." Indeed, to engage in this activity is to mirror the Creator in the highest sense, in that "the very act of preaching, as creation of the word to be heard by others so that they too may find the source from whence the word is formed," is a reflection "of the God-world relation."

Now, back to the impoverished mythology of liberalism and scientism, which are deeply related and arise from the same meta-cosmic blunders (and which then become the foundation for an intrinsically disordered world, since it can no longer be a terrestrial reflection of the celestial archetype, i.e., the "shining city on a hill"; and disordered souls cannot be expected to be capable of a properly functioning political order -- I mean, if you can't even master your own domain, please don't presume to master mine).

First of all, we need to distinguish between the real mythos and the counterfeit variety, which we'll call mythical, since it connotes fantasy in the purely imaginary sense, e.g., the myth of JFK's "Camelot," or of Obama's "hope and change," or that FDR saved us from the Great Depression instead of making it worse. These are not true myths, since genuine myths are not manmade. While they come "through" man, they do not, and could not, originate in him.

As Russell Kirk explains, "Real myths are the product of the moral experience of a people, groping toward divine love and wisdom -- implanted in a people's consciousness, before the dawn of history, by a power and a means we have never been able to describe in terms of mundane knowledge."

For example, to appreciate the depth of Genesis is to understand that no primitive tribe of wandering barbarians could have possibly come up with a body of timelessly true divine wisdom that utterly transcends their own (quite limited) experiences. After all, the Jewish tribes that were vouchsafed this spiritual treasure were not more advanced than the civilizations around them, but less advanced. They only became more advanced through fidelity to the Covenant.

In contrast, the "false myth," or mythical, results only from "the fancies of individuals," whether of a Paul Krugman or an L. Ron Hubbard. Nevertheless, irrespective of its spiritual poverty, "no great ethical or political movement comes to master the minds of men without some sanction of myth." And "the ephemeral character of the liberal movement is in consequence of the fact that liberalism's mythical roots always were feeble, and now are nearly dead." Superficial appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, liberalism "is expiring under our very eyes for lack of higher imagination." (Of course, we may perish with it, but that's a different subject.)

Let's contrast the examples of Reagan and Obama. Both men rode into office on a wave of myth. However, one was genuine and rooted in the transcendent truth of collective American memory and experience, while the other was a pure counterfeit -- like a psychic poultrice that drew the immature and unarticulated spiritual energy of the left up into it. In this regard, real myths are regenerative (since they are close to the Source), whereas false ones are degenerative and rapidly exhausted. This is why, for example, Christian truth has flourished for over 2000 years, while the myth of Obama couldn't even sustain its spiritually drunken illusion for a year.

To be continued....

(The Kirk quotes are taken from The Essential, which is highly recommended, but more importantly, cheap; the Eckhart quotes are from McGinn's Harvest of Mysticism.)

36 Comments:

Anonymous Henry said...

UF made the point, too, that science works from bottom up - facts to principles to laws. Whereas true religion from top down - mysticism to gnosis to magic (or practice) to book (ie. Scripture).

Science itself is a search for the absolute, but cut off from God, the Ultimate Source, it can, as you say here, only become a false or misguided faith.

Excellent post today, Bob.

12/30/2009 09:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're talking smack about Americans. Why? What have they done to you? Where have you presented any proof of your views?

Where does the ordinary citizen, working and playing, raising her family, paying taxes, fit into your picture of a warped society with an inadequate "mythological basis?"

Pooh bah to that.

There can be only one response decent citizens can make to the likes of you, and that is "bite me."

12/30/2009 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

"Materialists take the most stupid possible approach to scripture, and then call it "stupid.""

Aw Man!! This is the OC joke of the year.
It was worth waiting for. Didn't even know I was.
Bob, take whatever you want from the top shelf.
Back tada post...

RR

12/30/2009 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Myth is a word in great need of desaturation.
I hope you spend even more time in it.

Great post. Great.

RR

12/30/2009 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

VDH on the failed and dysfunctional mythology of Obama.

12/30/2009 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh the right has its mythos all right, and the vacuous cowboy actor Reagan embodied it perfectly. But the appeal of that mythos is dying out, as the real America is increasingly urbanized, educated, multicultural, and cosmopolitan -- and Obama embodies THAT perfectly. Don't like it -- too damn bad. You've killed your mythos by having it be championed by a series of incompetents and lunatics; nobody wants it any more.

Here's a new term for the crappy myth-makers on the right: Donner Party conservatives, who pine for the old days of rugged individualistic cannibalism.

12/30/2009 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

One anonymous asks us to bite them; the other informs us that we are cannibals. Such are the vagaries of primitive oral projection and the unconscious myths of the nursery.

12/30/2009 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

More on the myth of the new emperor's empty suit.

12/30/2009 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Newman said...

The last anonymous doesn't sound convinced of his own statements, but rather desperate. Like a fading shadow trying to hold onto something real...

12/30/2009 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Yes, quite. To quote Bob -- or was it Churchill? -- a hysteria wrapped in twaddle inside an enema.

12/30/2009 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger xlbrl said...

The question might be, why, if it is impovershed--which it is--is the mythology of liberalism and scientism so ever-present and so strong?

Hayek will tell you that this is so because socialism is was formed deep in the instinct of primitive man--an isolated man would have soon been a dead man. The instinctive moralities of altruism and solidarity had welded together the small group and secured cooperation, but at the cost of hindering its expansion.

'Mankind achieved civilization by developing and learning to follow rules first in territorial tribes, and then over broader reaches, that often forbade him to do what his instincts demanded, and no longer depended on a common perception of events. What are chiefly responsible for having generated this extraordinary extended order are the rules of human conduct that gradually evolved. These rules are handed on by tradition, teaching, and imitation, rather than by instinct.'

In one thing Hayek and Freud agreed--all civilization is the renunciation of instinct. That is why the socialist find it so easy to find their way back.

12/30/2009 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No doubt true, but there's another factor that we'll be getting into, that socialism and materialism are parasitical Christian heresies, or shadows of the real deal.

12/30/2009 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

A few thoughts:

Faith is like light, which is to say, (paraphrasing Lewis) that it allows us to see things, and is not itself a 'way of seeing' nor is faith itself 'seen'.

Second, I think I understand why of the seven cosmic virtues, the three Faith, Hope and Love are called theological.

Recalling the admonition in the letter, "The demons believe and they tremble!" faith itself is not a virtue, nor is hope, nor is even - love. (Another Lewisian aside: When love becomes a god, love becomes a demon;) the earth-cosmic virtues attain status as virtues by inter-relation; just as the cosmos is ecological; i.e. a system which must be open and interchange energy, life, etc.

Those are the 'horizontal' virtues.

The three 'theological' virtues are so called because they are only virtues when they rest upon, in, or are oriented around God.

I think the postmodern view tends to be that 'love' is theological, 'hope' is theological, and 'faith' is theological. But my understanding is quite the opposite; all are simply natural unless oriented towards God; then they become a theological virtue. There is nothing godly about either of the three outside of being through, about, in or oriented around God.

I think this would certainly be a Christian conviction, but I would not be surprised if the Sufi and the Jews would agree; not to mention classical philosophy.

12/30/2009 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Correction, I mean that faith is not an organ of seeing. 'Way of seeing' is probably the best way to put it ;)

12/30/2009 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deficit spending, the issuing of paper-secured bonds, etc, are simply mechanisms whereby the welfare state confiscates the output of productive members of society to finance its numerous programs and give-aways.

This mechanism hasn't changed since it was instituted in 1913, and numerous presidents including Reagan did nothing about it.

So where do you get that Obama is any worse or different than Reagan or Bush? You can hear it in the rhetoric, I guess, but any real conservative president would stop deficit spending and return us to the gold standard.

So, the question of Mythos should be, why are we ALL colluding to dwell continuously in the socialist, atavistic mythos?

Has nobody any stones in this country?

The Notorious Mr. Pibb.

12/30/2009 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Anonymous Pibb,

If you want to get us back on the Gold Standard you can read up about how you'd have to do it (to name one of your proposals.) Put in a short fashion, it is not something that a president alone can do. Nor is it something that most men who are shrewd enough to get to the office would be willing to waste their political capital on.

If there is one telling thing about your comment, it simply is that it is idolatrous; certainly the next Xerxes will come into office and ignite a conservative revolution... just like Obama came into office and turned it into a progressive utopia...

You know, stopped the wars, got everyone on healthcare, closed Gitmo, made everyone love us...

Speaking of being mythical!

12/30/2009 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"But another annoying characteristic of the left is that they also have a faith, except that it is detached from right reason and moral imagination, so that it is ultimately and literally grounded in "nothing.""

Very true, in keeping with their deterministic bent, the left performs mental calculations only, absent any trace of moral imagination at all.

I've been reading a few essays by Russell Kirk this weekend, on Justice, THE MEANING OF "JUSTICE", THE CASE FOR AND AGAINST NATURAL LAW and
Three Pillars of Order: Edmund Burke, Samuel Johnson, Adam Smith, and if there's one theme among them all it is that, that the failure or absense of moral imagination, and how the unseen darkness easily sweeps into the resulting vaccuum.

Another goodie, but perhaps a bit bracing to conservatives, is Charles Ryn's Debacle: The Conservative
Movement in Chapter Eleven
, in that he doesn't hold back from question sacred cows of conservatives, like Reagan and Locke or showing the Jacobin side of republicans... bracing, but IMHO, true.

12/30/2009 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Materialists take the most stupid possible approach to scripture, and then call it "stupid." "

LOL!

12/30/2009 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"As Russell Kirk explains, "Real myths are the product of the moral experience of a people, groping toward divine love and wisdom -- implanted in a people's consciousness, before the dawn of history, by a power and a means we have never been able to describe in terms of mundane knowledge.""

Ha! I Shoulda known you'd beat me there!

"... in the final analysis, everything in the Bible is about the soul."

, as, in the final analysis, all questions of Justice resolve to as well. The disordered soul acts out as either simply unjust in the individual criminal sense, or through pretense and sophistry, seeks to drag all of society into it's disorderly views, by renaming the most unjust actions "social justice", 'legitimizing' what otherwise would be criminal behavior, through mass approval and the myth of the collective.

The leftist myths take us back to the limited world of external tribal myth's, whereas those of the Bible take us on an unlimited inward journey into all encompassing Truth.

Ok... enough... I'll try and hold my fingers and finish reading.

12/30/2009 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Xlbrl said "'Mankind achieved civilization by developing and learning to follow rules first in territorial tribes, and then over broader reaches, that often forbade him to do what his instincts demanded, and no longer depended on a common perception of events. What are chiefly responsible for having generated this extraordinary extended order are the rules of human conduct that gradually evolved. These rules are handed on by tradition, teaching, and imitation, rather than by instinct.'"

Ummm... partially true... but does nothing to explain why the "rules of human conduct that gradually evolved... handed on by tradition, teaching, and imitation, rather than by instinct..." went nowhere in all other cultures (with the partial exception of China, who came darn close at one point, but veered off into the jungle again), but that of the west, and there, survived mostly only through the English branch.

Comes close to making the error of omission which Locke made, thinking that in some "State of Nature" men made a contractual arrangement to secure their Rights and property, when such ideas themselves only were developed and identified much later, and even then only given their proper perspective in human affairs, after the coming of Christianity.

I'm going to dig into one of the best examples of this in my next "Justice" post, with the best example of a Lockean "State of Nature" (sixty some years before Locke's treatise's) with Hooker's branching off from other settlements to found Connecticut... in contrast to the even more true "State of Nature" of the Indians... mostly hostile... in the woods beyond their settlements.

Man's 'Proper' state of nature, is only attainable after a higher development has been achieved... which is what Athens has to do with Jerusalem.

12/30/2009 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

River said "The three 'theological' virtues are so called because they are only virtues when they rest upon, in, or are oriented around God."

Yeah, I see them as results of, and in proper attention, quickeners of, Virtue. But without the higher source, each could take you down the spiral staircase.

"Another Lewisian aside: When love becomes a god, love becomes a demon "... I really like that... which C.S.Lewis was that from?

12/30/2009 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Sheesh are these trolls boring.

Mr. Pibb (not necessarily including your comment with them, but trying to keep my comment streak to only six in a row), the last proper classical liberal (what the best of conservatism seeks to conserve) was Calvin Coolidge, and even then it was hard to roll back the damage which Wilson imposed, let alone Taft and T.R.

No real change will happen without, on the operational level, the repeal of the 17th and 16th amendments, and a new amendment forbiding congress from establishing alphabet agencies whose regulations have the force of law.

But before even that could have real effect, Education must be salvaged from the Deweyish pragmatism and emphasis on utility and efficiency, back to the higher oriented Education from which our Founding generation came from, one whose emphasis was on "right reason and moral imagination".

Btw, charter schools and private schools will do little or nothing to effect that change, because the teachers all come from the same 'Teachers Colleges'... Home Schools, or classically oriented schools with educated people teaching them, are the only way out of the flatlands we find ourselves in.

12/30/2009 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Naturally I love that last comment, Van. :)

12/30/2009 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger C W Seper said...

"Science itself is a search for the absolute...."

I've never bought into Hegel's notion of an absolute being unless we mean a being which is only dependent on other beings, but there is something I believe God is dependent on, and that is space. How do we know God exists? Because he does things. Even if that "thing" is just thinking, it still denotes a material object/being. All energy has mass, and all mass has energy. Even thinking requires a kind of energy and therefor mass. If it doesn't, then someone needs to at least provide a viable hypothesis as to how it is possible without tripping off into mystagogical poetic nonsense about circles with no circumferences etc. Ergo, if God so much as thinks, he must have mass, and if he has mass, he must have some kind of space to exist in that has been here at least as long as he has.

God may very well be the first-fruits of another kind of space and reality. The thought of such a thing may be spooky even to one such as he.

12/30/2009 09:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

We think because we are finite creatures, but there's no need for God to think because God is omniscient.

12/30/2009 10:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well CW seeper and Henry, et al.

Next time you go out your front door, your hand (God stuff) contacts the doorknob (God stuff) as you think about where you are going (God stuff) and so forth.

Your hand is composed of atoms shot through with life energy..

The doorknob is atoms without life0energy.

Your thoughts are biochemical/electric energy.

All of it is God-stuff, in various forms. You can't escape from God, It composes everything.

Everything is God. It has composed the cosmos, infests and inhabits each atom, is present in all thoughts and in all energy.

You can't get outside of God, you are involved up to your eyeballs.

Best to just find out what it wants. Resistance is futile.

Quacks say "I am God." They are 100% correct about that. Its just they aren't the WHOLE THING, so they are just as confused as anyone else.

God is confused about Himself. Heh heh. Does anyone else find that funny?

12/30/2009 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger C W Seper said...

"...there's no need for God to think because God is omniscient."

Wisdom without thought is illogical unless there is another God guiding God.

"All of it is God-stuff, in various forms. You can't escape from God, It composes everything."

Perhaps, but you're making an assumption based on a theory based on nothing. If it's true, there's no way to know it. God may live in a completely different kind of matter, a different kind of world, or even a different universe for all we know. This world may very well run on a sort of autopilot where answers to prayer and so forth are built into the system, a system that may work similar to a computer program with call and response codes. Rather than God actually being everywhere at once, it would only appear so because the system is his proxy.

There are a lot of possibilities as to God's makeup. I would never assume any of them to be correct.

12/31/2009 06:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think liberalism is a flawed system because it is punitively constructed out of forever choosing the opposites of judeo/christian morality.

One might think he can become a better hitter than Ted Williams or Joe DeMagio, but gripping the bat by the fat end probably won't get you there.

SteveH

12/31/2009 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger C W Seper said...

No offense, but anybody that can't spell DiMaggio probably isn't that much of a baseball fan to begin with.

I think you have a decidely non-Christian attitude towards liberals that's not going to bring you any influence with them. At least you haven't stooped to grade school status by calling them trolls.

I liked the way Tom Selleck described the difference between liberal and conservative thought several years ago, and if he's not a Christian, he at least sounded very much like one:

"My reputation as a conservative is valid in a lot of ways," he says, "but what disturbs me is what people think conservatives are. What conservatism represents to me is civil libertarian thought. To me, it's as simple as this: We all agree we need to solve social problems. My leanings tend toward individualist solutions. I don't like to characterize anybody, but I think liberals tend to have collectivist solutions. The twentieth century has been a collectivist century. Most of our solutions to social problems--even the term social problems--are collectivist. We've had this global experiment, and we're starting to see the end of the chain letter. I say let's try new things. I can't guarantee you they'll all work. If thirty percent of them work, I'll be happy. It's just time to reassess things and say that maybe this idea of the common good has to be translated through the individual.

"I've learned by hanging out in Hollywood, where I disagree politically with most people, that most people's hearts are in the right place, and the only thing we have to argue about is the way to solve the problems. So I don't like it if the conservative philosophy becomes an 'anti' philosophy, just sheer negative thought.

"If that's conservatism, I don't want to be labeled a conservative. If I can be an advocate of individualist solutions to our society's problems that are affirmative solutions, that to me is what conservatism means.
"

12/31/2009 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Van: That comes from 'The Four Loves'.

12/31/2009 07:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CW..a grammer critique? I'm amazed you didn't tell me my post had no merit because i'm just a big ole meannie. Lol

Glad to see i can tweak a liberals inner child that easy.

SteveH

12/31/2009 08:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I admit CW has point. I asserted that God infests all matter and energy, but actually I do not know that for a fact.

I stand corrected. It is still my opinion however.

12/31/2009 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger C W Seper said...

Steve,

Liberals don't generally quote Tom Selleck.

I'd say I'm a centrist with very conservative leanings. There are things in this world worth being liberal about, but many more that are worth being conservative towards in my opinion.

I'll be Frank, I see the Democratic Party as full of organized crime sympathizers and enablers. Since the late 60s, has there ever been a mob boss or union racketeer that didn't have his hand in a democrat's pocket?

But on the other hand, nowadays we're seeing a ton of republicans in bed with big oil, big auto, and power companies to name just a few.

As far as the liberal mindset, there are things that work well as a collective such as a military, police departments, fire departments and so on. I'm not sure we would have these things if not for liberal thinkers.

The trouble as I see it is that today's conservatives don't know the difference between socialism and civilization. They want to call any kind of collective thinking and living a form of socialism and aren't particularly bright when it comes to knowing where and when the line has been crossed.

I love my Republican Party and conservative brethren, but they're really starting to alarm me. Maybe it's because Kirk and Buckley are dead and there's been nobody left that's been able to fill their shoes and lead us. If all we have now are these idiotic talk show hosts, I'd sooner be a hermit.

12/31/2009 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger C W Seper said...

"I asserted that God infests all matter and energy, but actually I do not know that for a fact.

"I stand corrected. It is still my opinion however."

I'm not saying you're wrong, only that we can't know. Actually, I tend to think something similar to you.

12/31/2009 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger C W Seper said...

Actually, the big question to me isn't whether or not we live in something like the mind of God; it's more a question of, what does God live in?

12/31/2009 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

CW Seper said "There are things in this world worth being liberal about, but many more that are worth being conservative towards in my opinion... on the other hand, nowadays we're seeing a ton of republicans in bed with big oil, big auto, and power companies to name just a few"

I really dislike the common usage of 'liberal' today... our Founding Father's were Liberals - defenders of Liberty (not license)... today we have only leftists - proregressives who, after the backlash following Woodrow Wilson's terms, absconded with the name 'Liberal'... sullying it deeply... and who are lately, after having again soiled the reputation of their stolen name, are attempting to revert to the largely forgotten term of 'progressive'.

Those who are properly termed 'Conservative' (as opposed to 'republican', a party which absorbed the Teddy Roosevelt variety of progressives, along with traditionalists and actual Liberals fleeing the democrat party at the influx of proregressives), are seeking to conserve the ideas of what now has to be termed 'Classical' Liberals. That doesn't mean mindlessly repeating or emulating the founders in a literalist WWFD (What Would Founders Do?) fashion, but revering and defending the ideas of Liberty which they had clarified in the Declaration of Independence and in the long process of writing and ratifying the Constitution - much of which can be found, in their proper context and relations, Here... look at the Preamble, and you'll see what I mean.

However, with
"As far as the liberal mindset, there are things that work well as a collective such as a military, police departments, fire departments and so on. I'm not sure we would have these things if not for liberal thinkers."

, you are in danger of confusing radical libertarians (Murray Rothbard variety) with conservatives. There is nothing collectivist (in political terms) about the military and judiciary, on the national level, or the police and fire departments, on the local level. These are the proper functions of Govt, necessary for defending and upholding the proper rights and property of the people, and there is NOTHING socialistic about that.

12/31/2009 03:57:00 PM  

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