The Birth of a Cosmos: Cosmogeny Recapitulates Psychogeny
Is the human species "maturing" -- which is to say, evolving -- with time? Consider the "Muslim world," which is either more or less mature than the West as a whole. It is a yes or no question, but in order to answer it, one must have either an implicit or explicit theory of human development, as every developmental theory is guided by a telos, i.e., an end toward which the organism is striving. Thus, in order to know whether mankind is evolving, one must first understand the purpose of the human station.
Dr. Sanity believes that millions of Muslims suffer from "Teddy Bear Syndrome" (coined by Victor Davis Hanson), which is "the tendency of many Muslims to judge Westerners and those who do not adhere to Islam as 'blasphemous' when they exercise freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of choice, and freedom of religion; and to react in an intolerant, inappropriate and violent rage, demanding death or some other extreme punishment for the accused."
Yes, Teddy Bear Syndrome shares many similarities to left wing political correctness, so it must be a variant of a potential that is present in everyone, a primitive impulse that must be "outgrown" -- like throwing temper tantrums when you don't get your way, or ramming through complex legislation that no one has read, or suing to overturn the 2000 presidential election. The TB syndrome is why nowhere in the West does one find more intellectual immaturity than on an elite university campus.
But fortunately, most people are not left wing university professors. Yet.
Regarding the etiology of Teddy Bear Syndrome, Dr. Sanity writes that part of the problem results from the failure of Islam "to evolve from its medieval and primitive origins" (emphasis mine). But on any traditionalist view -- including traditional Christianity -- religion does not evolve. Rather, the whole point is that it is fixed and final. However, just like everything else, scripture looks very different to a developmentally mature mind than it does to an immature one.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I gave up childish ways. First the milky way; then the meaty way.
The psychological immaturity of the Islamic world is generally mirrored by a pseudomature response by the "liberal" West. As Hanson writes, "the reaction to this madness is now stereotyped. Often apologies -- not condemnation -- follow from contrite Westerners. To prevent a recurrence, Western writers, filmmakers, teachers and religious figures quietly edit their work and restrict their speech -- but only when Islam is involved."
When this happens, it is analogous to allowing the baby to run the household. Children naturally try to manipulate parents, but a good parent knows how to set boundaries and to be consistent. However, over the past 40-50 years, especially with the Baby Boomer generation, these psychological boundaries have been discarded, which has resulted in an indiscriminate blending (as opposed to a true synthesis or integration) of the sexes and generations, and of high and low.
One of the reasons for this is that the Baby Boom generation may have been the first to actually prevail in the perennial battle between adults and children, thus providing no check on the tendency toward omnipotence. In other words, in prevailing in the Oedipal struggle, they lost, for the downside of vanquishing Father is that one ends up orphaned.
Yes, some positive things obviously came out of the 1960s, but one of the most baleful ones was the Genderless Adultolescent. This is a person who by definition can never be mature, but only give the appearance of being so. It is much more difficult to be a Genderless Adultolescent on the right, whereas it is more or less normative on the left, as exemplified by their current low-standard bearer. Anyone who reads left wing blogs knows this is so.
As for myself, being primarily a vertically oriented person, I think of politics -- as it typically plays out -- as a distraction from reality. On the one hand, I do not conflate salvation with conservative political success. Rather, it's just that the left is so incredibly dangerous and destructive on every level -- intellectual, economic, psychological, and spiritual -- that it must be combatted. In fact, most conservatives would prefer to ignore politics and be left alone to enjoy their lives, but this would be irresponsible so long as the left pursues its antihuman agenda with such religious fervor.
The problem with most history, even to this day, is that it is too sweeping and general, and ignores the reality of the unconscious and the insights of developmental psychology. It makes it difficult to comprehend something as fundamentally irrational as Islamism. The left, for example, treats Islamism as a rational response to something we have done, which seems like "empathy" or sensitivity but is actually the very opposite, a kind of self-congratulatory indulgence of an enraged child.
In One Cosmos I quoted John Bowlby, one of the early pioneers of attachment theory, who wrote that "The truth is that the least-studied phase of human development remains the phase during which a child is acquiring all that makes him most human. Here is still a continent to conquer."
Similarly, Tolstoy wrote that "From the child of five to myself is but a step. But from the newborn baby to the child of five is an appalling distance." Or the anthropologist Norbert Elias: "It seems as if grown-up people, in thinking about their origins, involuntarily lose sight of the fact that they themselves and all adults came into the world as little children. Over and over again, in the scientific myths of origin no less than the religious ones, they feel impelled to imagine: In the beginning was a single human being, who was an adult."
But in reality, In the beginning is a neurologically incomplete, helpless little baby, utterly dependent upon caretakers who may or may not be up to the task of raising him, and who themselves bear the unconscious scars of their own childhood trauma. Thus, it is not so much that "in the beginning is the baby" as "in the beginning is the dynamic relationship between an unformed nervous system that will develop (or fail to develop) its potential in rapport with its caretakers."
Take the myth of Genesis, for example. This can be misleading, since it begins with the creation of a male adult, followed by a female adult (who comes out of the male), and lastly, a couple of children.
But in reality, the reverse is true: first there is a baby, out of which comes the mother, who then bifurcates (from the infant's point of view) into a mother and father. In other words, the baby cannot possibly imagine that the mother gave birth to him, as doing so would require abstract language, boundaries, a conception of linear time, the differentiation between inside and outside, etc.
Rather, as Winnicott observed, there isn't actually such a thing as a baby (at least as far as the baby is concerned). Instead, there is a true union of mother and infant, a (hopefully) harmonious psychological matrix (matrix being etymologically linked to womb) through which the baby will eventually "discover" the mOther -- and only later her consort, who is Fa(r)ther away in developmental time.
Fascinatingly, Genesis is psychospiritually capacious enough to be supplemented with the infant's view of the cosmic situation. This was an idea developed by James Grotstein, but it is also implicit in the interpretations of some mishnavous rabbis who view Genesis as an orthoparadox about man's movement from psychological infancy and dependence to maturity and independence.
As Kass writes, "Eating from the tree certainly produces a death of innocence. Through judgmental self-consciousness, human beings become self-separated; the primordial childlike, unself-divided, and peaceful state of the soul 'dies.' Thanks to reason and freedom, protoman becomes a different being -- the old one dies. This death, repeated in every human life, we have all experienced for ourselves; the contented and carefree life that we knew as innocent children is in fact permanently lost to us, the inevitable result of our rise to self-conscious knowledge of good and bad."
The rabbinical tradition often turns scripture inside-out or upside-down in order to squeeze out a little additional wisdom. Don't worry, scripture is resilient. It can handle rough play, and will return to its original shape. In Grotstein's case, he begins with the psychological fact of infantile omnipotence. One can argue whether or not God is omnipotent, but infants certainly are, for how could they know otherwise?
Thus, the omnipotent baby (again, from the baby's point of view) is quite obviously the creator of the cosmos, including its mother and father. Clearly, a brand new cosmos comes into being with the birth of every child, does it not? There is no cosmos at all in the absence of consciousness, so it is simply an existential fact that cosmogenesis is repeated afresh with every newborn baby: cosmogeny recapitulates psychogeny, so to speak.
Here is another aped quote from the Coonifesto, this one from David Darling, author of Equations of Eternity: "[W]e may reasonably view an infant's dawning of awareness on two levels: as a consciousness arising in the individual and, simultaneously, in the universe as a whole.... we can watch an incredibly condensed version of the growth of awareness on this planet, and in the cosmos, in each developing child."
But only if you are a sensitive parent. Isn't this a big part of the joy of parenting, re-participating in the birth of a fresh new cosmos, as your child -- and his world -- changes from day to day? Jesus made so many sensitive comments about children and about the relationship between a child's consciousness and spiritual awareness, that it's a little surprising that people fail to make the explicit connection.
God is the newest thing there is; the youngest thing there is. God is the beginning, and if we are united to him we become new again.... My soul is as young as the day it was created. Yes, and much younger! --Meister Eckhart