Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Great Inscape: On Using Language to Scale the Walls of Language

A science of the finite has need of a wisdom which goes beyond it and controls it, just as the body needs a soul to animate it, and the reason an intellect to illuminate it. --F. Schuon

We intuitively and routinely use language in such a way as to imply that the mind is a space. But what kind of space is it? Is it a birthquake or merely a crock?

For if it is holographic and multidimensional -- which it is -- then we need a language that parallels that fact, or else it will simply mislead, as the mind will appear to take on reified properties of the language used to describe it. It will be like trying to represent a three-dimensional cube on a two-dimensional piece of paper. Something vital will be lost. One thing lost will be the dimension of "depth."

What does it mean to say that something is "deep" on the human plane? That it partakes of multiple dimensions, even if -- as in primitive mythology -- we are not consciously aware of all of them. Authentic scripture is a kind of language that is deep and resonant. Inexhaustibly so. It can never be fully explicated, since it partakes of the Absolute. Therefore, as Origen knew, it is fine to treat scripture as literal, but never only literal, for to do so is to deny oneself access to a multitude of other humanly critical dimensions.

The problem with much religious language is not so much the literal/symbolic divide as the question of whether or not language is being used in a generative or a static way. If it is static, then it is not really about religion, but simply about language, about saturated words pointing to each other. It is like a glorified case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, which amounts to a circular nervous system chasing its own tenure.

The last thing you want is to be tied up in such a tight neural knotwork, because it will not only leave you on this side of the cosmic veil, but transform the veil into a wall. Then, all your theologizing is just a nice painting on the prison wall or a fanciful story about life outside the prison gates. But a human being is not deserving of the name if he isn't always plotting his great inscape from this gloomy cage. Spherical man was not made to live in a cubicle, no matter how much you pound on him.

Properly understood, a religion is very much like a scientific paradigm, in that it is a "frame of reference" that allows us to “see" the religious facts it iluminates. Otherwise this inexhaustible bounty of transnatural facts goes unseen. Astute scientists understand that "percept follows concept," i.e, "Never trust a fact without a good theory to support it." Neither scientific nor spiritual facts "speak for themselves." For example, it took hundreds of years to develop a coherent theology around the "fact" of Jesus.

A fact is a relation between two events. We are one of the events. God is the other. Thus, in order to think about God, we must move from epistemology to mystepistemology, toward the unKnown source of Truth that in-forms our knowledge. For if your ontology is not planted in a fertile field, your epistemology will surely fallow.

When spiritual communication is generative, something quasi-magical is taking place, as it becomes the translating function that renders the translinguistic "religious object" (O) present in the form of subtle energies of various kinds. To a large extent, the "purification" that is always preluminary to the religious quest is a means of eliminating the dross, the contingencies, or "noise" that compete with and drown out the energies.

Religious words are never just words, but words + music. To speak religiously -- to use language in such a way that it actually mirrors and partakes of the the domain of spirit -- there is a certain rhythm and a certain felicity of phrasing that must be achieved (or at least a-spired to): not to merge with the ocean but to use language to gather it in. Language must be unsaturated enough to either "bite" into spirit or "lure" spirit into it. Yes, grace "blows where it will," but it's always better if you don't use language in such a way that you're voiding into the wind.

To speak of Spirit, one must have one foot firmly planted in reality. But not both feet. One foot must be equally planted in trans-reality, in the world that is prior to the material. You have to catch it before it quickens and congeals into the illusion of solidity. As I get older -- especially now with a child -- I am more deeply entangled in the world than ever. But at the same time, I am more deeply rooted in the other realm as well. Put the two together, and you have a man who passes his timelessness in a dialectical space between now and forever.

It reminds me of looking into a placid lake with a tall tree on the other side. On the lake there will be a mirror image of the tree, going in the opposite direction, one up, one down -- or, in the case of the cosmic Tree of Life, one exterior, one interior, meeting at the Crossrood where life must be lived. Similarly, when I look into my son's eyes, it is like gazing into an eternity that extends infinitely in two directions -- into him and into me (and beyond). Growth is growing in both directions, not one or the other; the soul penetrates God just as God penetrates the soul.

Reality is logos, absolute Word and infinite speech. But language is always communication. It is to someone. It is from someOne. Why spend your life decoding the message but never ask who is speaking?

Sufficient language for speaking of God has yet to be perfected. I take that back. The language has been perfected, but few remember how to speak it any longer. We've run out of competent trancelighters who are able to demonstrate it while speaking it. An evolving logos will evolve the consciousness of the person who contemplates it -- it will not only in-form but trans-form, not just push in but draw out.

The logos itself does not evolve, but causes evolution upon contact with mind, so to speak. This is why religious doctrine "has an aspect of system and an aspect of indeterminacy," for if it didn't, it would simply be God, and no communication would be possible between the Absolute and his middling relativities, or between God and man.

How to speak of the Omninameable One? It is not that we can say so little about it, but so much. As Schuon writes, the problem is "not through a lack, but through a superabundance of light." Language does not contain it, but It contains language, absorbing words like a sponge or shedding them like water off a duck's back. It cannot be done without paradox, symbolism, wordplay, myth -- all the linguistic tools available to half-awake language-bearing primates.

To be able to combine the religious symbolism of Heaven with the astronomical fact of the stellar galaxies in a single consciousness, an intelligence is needed which is more than just rational.... The tragic impasse reached by the modern mind results from the fact that most men are incapable of grasping a priori the compatibility between the symbolic expressions of tradition and the material discoveries established by science.... Man, when he trusts his reason alone, only ends by unleashing the dark and dissolving forces of the irrational --F. Schuon, Stations of Wisdom

Friday, March 05, 2010

Coming Face to Face With Reality

I'm waaaay behind in my workwork, so we may be reduced to stale bobservations for awhile. I'll try to select ones that seem to have been little-noted nor long remembered, having generated few comments at the time.... As always, it is edited and fortified with essential and existential vertimins.

Beauty is a crystallization of a certain aspect of universal joy; it is a limitlessness expressed by a limit. --F. Schuon

Ever since the scientific revolution, we have tended to divide the world into a public sphere of objective, measurable reality and a private sphere of ephemeral, subjective perceptions. In this view, the external world is considered the fundamental reality, while consciousness is reduced to an epiphenomenon, so that all our perceptions of the world -- its vivid colors, sounds, tastes, and textures -- are rendered meaningless, revealing nothing intrinsic to the cosmos. All subjective qualities are reduced to quantities -- for example, our perception of the redness of an apple is reduced to a particular frequency of light, or music is reduced to vibrating air molecules striking against our ear drums.

As we wrote in our book of the sane gnome, "science begins with the one world we experience with our senses (where else could it begin?), but quickly saws off that familiar limb by 'excluding everything that can be imagined or conceived, except in abstract mathematical terms,' consequently relegating everything outside mathematical description -- the very world it started with -- to 'an ontological limbo.'"

Only this second, abstract world is considered to disclose valid information about the universe, whereas all of our initial impressions of color, sound, texture, beauty, and meaning supposedly reveal nothing "really real" about the universe, only about our own peculiar neurology.

But one of the fundamental tenets of esoterism is that the universe not only has a within that is uniquely accessible to humans, but that the very cosmos is the "exteriorization" or crystallization of this same within. In other words, the universe is not simply an exterior made up of discrete parts that are external to one another. Rather, by looking at the parts in a certain way, we may intuit a wholeness in the world that in turn reveals its interior dimension. Parts show us only the exterior of the cosmos, while wholeness lures us toward the Great Within.

Here is how St. Augustine characterized this Great Within: "Men go to gape at mountain peaks, at the bottomless tides of the seas, the broad sweep of rivers, the encircling ocean and the motion of the stars; and yet, they leave themselves unnoticed; they do not marvel at themselves."

It seems that we originally gain access to the Great Within through the human face. As infants, our whole world is oriented toward the mother's face. Obviously, in looking at a face, we don't first attend to a nose here, an eye there, a mouth there, and then inductively leap to the conclusion that faces exist. Rather, without even knowing it, we spontaneously attend to the face as a whole, and can instantaneously distinguish one face from another and one expression from another. (Thus, we are all born disciples of Polanyi, in that facial features are "subsidiary knowledge" on the way to the "focal knowledge" of the face.)

In attending to the mother's face, the baby gradually discovers that the mother has a living interior, and through her changing expressions -- or, specifically, through a dance of reciprocity between faces -- he begins to discover his own interior space. In other words, a space opens up between the two faces. This space is everything, for it is the opening of the "transitional space" where thought takes root. Thought begins with the simultaneous affirmation and negation of the sensory realm.

Severely autistic children, for example, do not see whole "faces," but only a collection of parts, so that they are never fully ushered into the intersubjective Withinness of the cosmos. Instead, they can be left isolated in the bizarre and frightening existence of a living death -- immersed in a sea of things that move and have independent existence, but reveal no intrinsic meaning. Adhering to the strict scientistic view -- which regards the "within" as mere subjective "noise" -- one would have to say that people with autism are more in touch with reality than anyone else, which is absurd.

Just as the face allows us to see the within of the person "behind" it, the wholeness of the cosmos invites us to see beyond its surface. (One of the central points of my book is that modern physics reveals the cosmos to be an internally related whole, not just a collection of exterior parts.)

Paradoxically, -- but not really -- we can know the interior only by focusing on the exterior. Just as the face is the meaning of its features, the meaning of existence can be discovered by dwelling in its features. Poets, for example, have always understood that by indwelling nature we can intuit what dwells within nature -- we are floating atop a sea of subsidiary clues that focally point beyond themselves to a hidden reality, which in turn throws out in-sights like sparks from a central fire. By attending to things and events in a certain "actively passive" way, we allow them to "speak" to us, and this in turn in-forms us about their nature.

Gerard Manley Hopkins coined the term "inscape" to refer to this more intense experience of observing things in such a way that their intrinsic qualities emerge. He believed that by allowing one's attention to be drawn to a bird in flight, a tree, a landscape, we allow their character to act upon us through a union of the inner and outer worlds. Similarly, Goethe argued that we discover the true nature of things through a contemplative kind of looking which he called "seeing with exactitude." By doing this, we can open ourselves to what the cosmos is telling us about itself (and by extension, ourselves).

This being so, we can also see that exploration of the Great Within will yield valid insights about the cosmos. As Schuon writes, certain gifted metaphysical or mystical poets such as Dante are able to express "spiritual realities with the help of the beauty of their souls." In this regard, "it is a matter of endowment far more than of method, for not every man has the gift of sincerely expressing truths that go beyond ordinary humanity." One secret denied the materialist is that the world is as beautiful -- or as meaningless -- as the soul's capacity to see it.

This has obvious theological implications. For example, what is scripture but an exterior narrative that tells us of the within of God? Just as it is a mistake to view nature as an object, one makes the same mistake in viewing scripture only as a historical narrative of external events. Rather, those events have a within which is their truest teaching. As Meister Eckhart wrote, "If you would have the kernel, you must break the shell."

It can also be argued that the figure of Jesus answers the deepest human longing to "see the face of God," and thereby know his Within most intimately. Again, the whole point of the gospels, if you are a Christian, is that their external narrative reveals the interior God. You cannot dismantle or deconstruct the gospel stories, for this would be like disassembling a human face to try to understand its expression. We see by a sort of interior light when we dwell in faith, for faith is actually foreknowledge of as yet undiscovered truths -- knowledge of approaching discoveries over the interior horizon of things.

As the poet Novalis put it, "The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet." If you are feeling boxed in by the materialistic paradigm of modernity, know that you may escape it any time through any of the infinite inscapes that both surround and abide within us. For being mirrorcles of the Absolute, we may penetrate nature only because it penetrates us in a higher realm of transcendent union.

The sacred mountain, seat of the Gods, is not to be found in space even though it is visible and tangible.... For the man of the golden age to climb a mountain was in truth to approach the Principle; to watch a stream was to see universal Possibility at the same time as the flow of forms.

In our day to climb a mountain -- and there is no longer a mountain that is the "center of the world" -- is to "conquer" its summit; the ascent is no longer a spiritual act but a profanation. Man, in his aspect of human animal, makes himself God. The gates of Heaven, mysteriously present in nature, close before him
. --F. Schuon, Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Life Goes On Within You and Without You

Wow, March Fourth really snuck up on me this year... this month... this week... actually just this moment. For the benefit of recent initiates, I could republish a post on the metacosmic significance of the date, but, in the spirit of conservation, why not save some valuable space and just link to it?

I notice that the coffee is not working its usual magic on my delicate norepinephrine receptors, which must mean that I am jetlagged. Therefore, I am in no condition to come up with a new post. But perhaps I can weave some new thoughts into a previous one.

My father-in-law was perhaps the most cultured person I've ever known, and yet, there was almost no intersection between his and my idea of culture (this is not a criticism, mind you, just an observation). Or, if there was an intersection, we interpreted it in diametrically opposed ways. He knew a little bit about virtually everything, and I would estimate that his IQ was in the 150 range. Plus he had a phenomenal memory, almost like a computer that could draw up raw data in an automatic fashion. But the computer naturally doesn't "understand" the significance of the data it draws up; it merely does so at the command of another, and for purposes it knows nothing about.

In my father-in-law's case, his head seemed like a vast museum with no organizing principle -- or perhaps after an earthquake. Thus, a dinosaur skeleton might be next to the Picasso, which was adjacent to some illuminated manuscripts (which might be nice to look at, but are of course devoid of meaning), which were next to a controversial film about World War I, which was next to a conspiracy-theory book of non-fiction about how Jesus didn't actually die on the cross.

From my perspective, it all seemed like a jumble. But the jumble would come to life for the purpose of argument.

It always seemed to me that argument was not a means to an end for him -- the end being truth -- but an end in itself. I shouldn't say "always," because it took me quite a while to grasp this. For example, when we first met, I was still in graduate school and very much under the influence of the left. When I would give him the naive but earnest talking points of the left, he'd easily shoot them down with conservative arguments. But as I matured and became more conservative, we'd still get into arguments (again, it was his primary mode of social intercourse), only now he'd come at me with those stale leftwing talking points that I had long ago discarded.

So I eventually realized that for him, argument was very much analogous to sport, or play -- the way boys roughhouse with eachother. There was no ultimate meaning to it, and certainly nothing personal, any more than there is ultimate meaning to the Stanley Cup (unless you're Canadian). It was like lawyers who are at each other's throats in the courtroom, but cheerfully go out to dinner afterwards. It's all forgotten. Literally. Tomorrow's arguments would have no connection to today's. Which is quite the opposite of how my mind works, in that I always look for the interior connection of everything.

Anyway, I brought along a book to read on the plane, but it turned out to be so dreary and depressing (it was a straight history of the Reformation) that I put it aside. So I looked through my FIL's huge library for something to read on the trip back. With the exception of the classics (which would be too difficult to read on a plane), I couldn't find a single book that caught my interest, until I found a lone conservative volume, Smiling Through the Cultural Catastrophe, by Jeffrey Hart. I don't know how it got in there. Maybe it was a gift, or else the New York Times must have had something positive to say about it.

I'm guessing that some marketing genius came up with the title, because it's very misleading. Actually, the book is about a topic we frequently discuss here, which is the higher unity of science/philosophy and theology/mysticism, or what Hart refers to as the Athens-Jerusalem dialectic that has always been at the root of western civilization. Eliminate either side of the dialectic, and that is where the cultural catastrophe comes in.

But now I'm running out of time. The following post is from a year ago, and discusses some of the ideas of Charles DeKoninck, a neo-Thomist philosopher who had a subtle grasp of the science<-->religion or Athens<-->Jerusalem dialectic.

Of all the vicious circles one could imagine, that in which the materialist encloses himself is the most primitive, restrictive, and binding. --Charles DeKoninck, The Cosmos

How does a cosmos that is supposedly purely exterior, become interior to itself? Or again, how does mere existence become experience? How does a primordial nuclear conflagration become conscious of its own truth? It seems that to even ask such questions takes us to the threshold of the unglishable, beyond which lies... what?

But pretending that the question permits of no answer is hardly the same as having answered it. This is an example of how an intrinsic deficit of the scientistic approach is converted to a metaphysical dogma -- a minus is covertly turned into a positive, as it were.

DeKoninck illustrates the problem with the example of a simple electron. One could hypothetically follow its trail "from the water of a spring through the grass eaten by a cow and the cow in turn eaten by this gentleman," but it's the same electron. The electron will have remained identical as it passes from water to cow to gentleman -- even perhaps participating in his thoughts of how yummy the cow tasted. So how does an electron that is part of the pure exteriority of water become part of the pure interiority of a man's psychic life? How does the yummy become the yumminess?

In tracing this electron, there is no conceivable experiment -- nor could there ever be one -- that could disclose the ontological significance of the electron's activities, which simply "are what they are." Only up here, on the macro level of human experience, can we appreciate the infinite gulf between the electrons of a rock and those of a human subject.

But the same can obviously be said of our genetic endowment. Biologists tell us that the DNA of chimps and humans is 99% identical, or whatever it is. Does this mean that a chimp has 99% of the capabilities or ontological value of a human being? Only a moral idiot would suggest such a thing. For whatever else DNA is, it cannot account for the infinite gap between humans and animals. When it comes to electrons or genes, context is everything.

Coincidentally, I see that James has touched on this same issue this morning. The absurcular materialist philosopher asks "how can the intellect be immaterial when no one can imagine how the immaterial can interact with the material?" But "It’s odd that people view this as an objection. I look at the same facts and view it as a proof. Of course you can’t imagine the interaction. That’s the whole point! Did you think we were kidding when we said 'immaterial'? If I could imagine the interaction, then I’d be wrong! Don’t you see that I’m insisting that you can’t imagine any interaction?"

Again, the scientistic bonehead essentially says, "Duh, I don't see anything immaterial. So it must not exist." Which is about as sophisticated as a child putting a blanket over his head and asking "who turned off the lights?!"

The point is, any attempt at an even minimally adequate ontology or epistemology breaks down if we fail to admit the reality of the immaterial. But once you admit the immaterial, then you are on a path that inevitably leads straight to God -- or O, if you like. Therefore, the contemporary materialist would prefer to promulgate a hopelessly incoherent worldview to ceding an inch of ground to any form of theism. I am quite sure this explains the spluttering hysteria and anti-intellectualism of a Queeg and his rabble of howling clones.

Raccoon metaphysics looks at the same mysteries as science, but regards them as doors or windows instead of walls. We begin with the idea that the interior of the cosmos is not something that is magically and unaccountably added later on in a wholly inexplicable manner. Rather, we say that there cannot not be an interior, for the simple reason that any outside by definition has an inside. We can only know of the without from the standpoint of the within.

For example, when Jesus says that his Kingdom is "within," this is what he means. In the Gospel of Thomas, he says the kingdom of heaven is spread out across the earth, only people do not see it. Even if you question the authenticity of that book, I'm sure this is a sentiment Jesus would endorse. (One might even say that the kingdom is withinness as such, with certain qualifications.)

So, in Raccoon metaphysics we begin with interiority as an irreducible cosmic category. Indeed, if you try to reduce interiority to anything else, you are what we call a "moron." Nor will we bother debating you, for you are in essence affirming the thoroughly self-refuting position that neither truth nor the intellect that knows it actually exist in any real way. Go away and think some more. Preferably on your knees.

The notion of cosmic interiority is a key that opens many locks, and is the unifying concept that helps us to fruitfully approach most of the other mysteries in which we seem to be plunged. These would include wholeness, intelligibility, beauty, morality, love, individuality, creativity -- pretty much everything that defines the human world. In contrast, the bonehead materialist must reduce these interior realities to meaningless side effects of the more fundamental exterior, again destroying that which he presumes to explain. This is nothing less than intellectual and spiritual genocide.

I came across an all too typical example yesterday, which was breathtaking in its breezy confidence and abject stupidity -- you know, in the way that members of the MSM always combine those qualities. Let's see if I can track down the link... Here it is: Why Dreams Mean Less Than We Think. In short, move along, nothing to see here. A couple of scientific experts have "proved" that dreams are just a "complex but observable interaction of proteins and neurons and other mostly uncontrolled cellular activity." In a statement of unsurpassable naiveté, the author assures us that "After all, brain activity isn't mystical but — for the most part — highly predictable."

What's with the qualifier he slips in there, "for the most part"? What, is brain activity 51% uncontrolled cellular activity and 49% mystical? The tenured ape. If my dreams are nothing more than "uncontrolled cellular activity," why have they gradually transformed in tone and content as I have grown spiritually? Even on the face of it, the scientistic position is absurd. When you are granted one of those epic transformational dreams that are so pregnant with meaning, you know that you could no more have produced it than you could have made Citizen Kane in your sleep.

Here again, this is a classic case of scientistic bait-and-switch, of "(implicit) materialism in, (explicit) materialism out" -- of a metaphysical assumption dressed up as a scientific conclusion. In one therapy session, I could prove to these scientists that they are not even wrong about dreams. Or maybe not, depending upon their level of defensiveness and denial.

O, endarkened trolls, remember the sacred guffah-ha! experience, for we are not laughing with you, but at you and the inrisible yolk you can never crack!

But it is with the philosophical sense as it is with the sense of humor. All the arguments in the world aiming at showing the humor of a farce cannot make a person without a sense of humor laugh. A farce has lost its savor when one has demonstrated its risible qualities. The man without humor will follow our dialectic, but he will not laugh.... [And] we will laugh all the more at the spectacle infinitely more comic of the man without a sense of humor's grotesque disdain for that which he cannot apreciate. --DeKoninck

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

With Each Human Birth, the Cosmos is Created and Perfected Anew

At the moment, I'm hoping -- I wouldn't say praying, since I don't like to trouble the Creator with my trivial little dramas -- that I don't end up stuck inside of Georgia with the LA blues again, since there's a winter storm warning that may delay our connecting flight back through Atlanta.

I hate to admit my selfishness, but until now, I guess global warming had never directly affected me.... But perhaps we should cripple the world economy to correct this problem of too much and not enough snow, depending upon the day-to-day propaganda needs of the warmists.

Oh well. At least I have time to republish something from 365 posts ago, now cleaned up and edited.

DeKoninck -- who obviously knew what it meant to inhabit a right side-up cosmos -- wrote that "It is only in human understanding that the cosmos becomes a universe in the full sense."

In other words, the "end" of the causal chain cannot be found in the endless horizontal iterations of abstract matter, but in our concrete vertical understanding. Which is another way of saying in truth, specifically, the truth of being.

In this regard, it is critical to bear in mind that "God does not act" -- or only act -- "on things, but from within" them. Thus, it is as if God comes to his own fruition, so to speak, in the uncreated (following Eckhart) light of our interior understanding (or in love or virtue, but that is a subject for a slightly different post). Therefore, "Creation is essentially a communication," a communication of being; or a communication of beyond-being to being, if one prefers.

In fact, to turn it around, it would not be possible for God -- since it would contradict the divine nature -- to "create a cosmos which was not essentially ordered to an intra-cosmic intelligence." In other words, God could no more create an unintelligible universe than an evil or ugly one. (This is not to limit God, only to affirm the truism that God is God.)

So when we see that being itself is overflowing with truth and beauty, we should not be surprised. Awed, but not surprised. The really strange thing, as that famous awedball Aquinas observed, is that "the perfection of the entire universe can exist in one of its parts." That would be us. "For this reason, philosophers have held that the ultimate perfection to which the soul can attain consists in embracing the whole order of the universe and its causes."

In my book, for reasons that should be apparent to achild (or rather vice versa), I use the pneumaticon ʘ to symbolize this state of the soul in its relation to the totality of O, or of human part to divine whole.

O is not just source but end; ontologically speaking, it is both alpha and omega. But this is to be expectorated, since the "ultimate cause" must also be a spittin' image of the "ultimate end." Thus, the Poeliot is not just being poetical but quite literal when he speaks of the end preceding the beginning, and how both are "always there," for these are Things that Must Be. It is the Law. Some poets -- some -- are indeed the unacknowledged legislators of the world. Others are just political hacks.

Meaning, interior, wholeness, unity -- these are all interconnected aspects of the same prior reality. It should be a banality to point out that the cosmos can have no meaning unless there is an interior where it can be apprehended. Nor can there be meaning in the absence of unity and wholeness, for meaning essentially consists of the reduction of multiplicity to unity -- or the apprehension of the hidden unity behind or above the veil of appearances.

Now, if there is an "ultimate meaning," there must be an "ultimate interior," so to speak. Or, to turn it around, to say that the ultimate meaning could be found in empiricism or profane reason -- i.e., matter or mechanical thought -- is not only to say that there is no meaning, but to abolish the very ground and possibility of meaning. Here is how DeKoninck describes it:

"In order for the world to have a raison d'être, in order for it to be profoundly one and a universe, it is not enough that it be composed of parts and that these parts physically constitute a whole; it is also necessary that all the individual parts be oriented toward that one in which all together can exist, that each of the principal parts of the universe should be the entire whole, that each of these universes be in some fashion all the others."

In other words, the universe must be both interobjective and intersubjective, with both properties emanating from the a priori wholeness and interior unity of O, the origin, the one, the OMega. In short, the cosmos must fundamentally be a place in which everything preserves its "partness," even while each part holographically participates in (not just with) all the others.

In otherother words, the universe, since it is one, is an internally related totality -- which is why we all intuitively apprehend the unity of being, from which the truth (not to mention, goodness and beauty) of being radiates, both from objects and the subjects that apprehend and bring them to their own fulfillment.

For the truth "flows" from objects into subjects, even while the object completes itself in the knowing subject. Without objects there is nothing to be known, and without subjects there is no way to know it. But in the end, both flow from the same prior unity, i.e, Truth as such.

It is not so much that "being is transcendentally accessible to intelligence" (DeKoninck). Rather, that is only half the story, for if that is the case -- which it is -- then it must mean that being and truth are one -- or at least not two. After their little game of hide and seek, or bride and seeker, they return to themselves and embrace in the one fleshlight of the divine-human subject.

Being is "good," for, among other reasons, it is open to intelligence, to which it gives of itself without reserve. There is indeed a kind of divine marriage, or sacred bond, between being and intellect, as the two become united in one flesh. As this marriage matures, we can see in the cosmos "a tendency toward the thought in which all its parts are united and lived; the cosmos thus tends to compenetrate itself, to touch itself in the intelligence of man, in which it can realize this explicit return to its First Principle."

You might say that the emancipating journey from cosmic infancy to metacosmic maturity begins in an inside-out universe of "pure exteriority. The world was so to say entirely outside, separated from itself, imprisoned in itself and its own obscurity" (DeKoninck).

You know -- for it is written in the New Testavus -- pure emptiness, a formless void without mind or life, a shadow spinning before the beginning over a silent static sea, unlit altar of eternity, fathomless vortex of the Infinite Zero.

In this murky state of affairs, the world "is dead, empty, an abyss of division." And yet, here we are, like mushrooms that have sprouted in the darkness of the cosmic naughtmare. For "intelligence must appear. This demand is written in it from the beginning.... it is necessary that the universe fall back in a certain way on itself, and that it close in on itself, that it interiorize, and it is just this interiorization that will permit it to open onto itself."

In ether worlds, it is only our understanding of the cosmos -- our divine wisdom -- that makes it possible. For if we couldn't understand it, surely we wouldn't be here. The ultimate cause of the cosmos is its truth, a truth we may know and renew in the timeless ground of the metacosmically transcendent intellect. So when I say that "I caused the universe," I am not really making any special claim for myself. Now and again I do it all the timeless. I just wish I could make it stop snowing in Atlanta...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What is Man that the Genome is Mindful of Him?

Well, time for one more post before I take off. Don't tell the new readers that it's a repost from last year...

In Wolfgang Smith's The Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology, he discusses the distinction between the corporeal world -- i.e., the real human world that we can see, touch, hear, and taste -- vs. the merely physical world that is abstracted from the former.

The corporeal universe is "the world to which human sense perception gives access. And this is indeed our world; the world in which we find ourselves. This corporeal universe, moreover, is in fact the only objective world which our human faculties -- sensory and mental -- allow us to know."

In contrast, the physical universe is the "described universe," as seen through the lenses of our abstract descriptions. It is at least once removed from the corporeal world, and is irreducibly subjective.

Take, for example, the subatomic world: is it composed of waves or particles? It all depends upon how we look at it, or the questions we ask. Science is a systematic way to interrogate nature, so nature, like any good witness, will give its answers in conformity to the question.

Or, you could say that a scientific theory is like a net that we cast out over the ocean of being. It will catch certain facts, while others will either slip through the net or tear it to shreds. And others facts are swimming so deep below the surface, that the net can't extend that far (to say nothing of the winged facts that soar and glide in the atmansphere above).

Smith says what amounts to the same thing: "The physicist, it turns out, is not simply an observer, but a creator of secondary realities: he observes by creating, one could almost say."

However, this is not creation ex nihilo; it doesn't mean, as many new agers suggest, that the world is somehow entirely subjective, and that we "create reality" through perception. Rather, it is a much more subtle process, which I believe is most adequately described by Michael Polanyi, in particular, by his theory of tacit knowing and the distinction between subsidiary and focal knowledge.

Timelessness doesn't permit me a full evasion this morning, but Polanyi beautifully explains how scientific progress is only possible because of the human ability to simultaneously discover and create the world.

It sounds paradoxical, but it really isn't. Our scientific abstractions are analogous to the cane of a blind man, which he uses to "probe the dark" and construct a model of his surroundings. In so doing, where is the reality: in the solid matter touched by the cane, or the model he tacitly constructs in his head? Obviously it's a kind of dialectic, an ongoing interaction between the two. But the blind man obviously doesn't pay conscious attention the bare sensation of the cane against his hand. Rather, those sensations become (subsidiary) support for the (focal) interior map he creates.

Does this mean there are two worlds, or that our corporeal world is somehow an "effect" of the physical world? Think about it. Physicists describe a subatomic world that is shockingly different than the corporeal world, so much so that it is difficult, if not impossible, to see how they relate. To cite one obvious example, the simple act of willing my hand to make a fist has causes all the subatomic particles that supposedly constitute my hand to alter their courses, in such a way that the relatively crude model of physics is powerless to account for how it happens.

But the problem is only a result of a reductionism that inverts the cosmos and conflates the physical and corporeal worlds -- as if the quantum world is corporeal and not simply an abstraction. But "all knowledge of the external world begins in the perceptible realm: deny the perceptible object, and nothing external remains.... Contrary to what we have been taught in schools and universities, real tables are not 'made of molecules'" (Smith). No one can actually surf on a wave function, any more than you can feel the intentions of a selfish gene.

Now, what goes for physics goes for biology. Obviously, Darwinism does not explain man; rather, I think we can all agree that man explains Darwinism. That much is self-evident, except perhaps to metaphysical Darwinians, who put the genetic cart before the organismic horse, i.e., the physical before the corporeal. Humans are no more "made of genes" than this table is "made of atoms" or my consciousness is "made of neurons." Ironically, consciousness is not just "part" of the corporeal world, but its very essence, for what could be more concrete than awareness of your own being? You are fundamentally aware of being, not electrons or genes.

Once we invert the cosmos and reinstate our proper orientation, we understand its Reason. As DeKoninck writes, "The being in which resides the end of the cosmos must be both immobile and cosmic; both spirit and matter must be found in it, its essence must be composed of a spiritual principle which integrates the cosmos."

Thus, "Man is manifestly the raison d'être of the whole of nature," the "end of all possible natural forms." Indeed, "every natural form tends toward man." Furthermore, "nature could not be ordered to God except through man. God being the end of the universe, it is necessary that the universe be capable of a return to its Universal Principle. But only an intellectual creature is capable of such a return.... In other words, only a creature capable of making a tour of being can return to the source of being" (emphasis mine). So,

Life is the meaning of matter, that to which matter points and converges upon. Similarly, Mind is the meaning of Life, that to which it points. And now we realize the meaning of our very existence, that to which it has always been pointing and converging upon: the Unity of Reality. Once again, by turning the cosmos upside down, ultimate meaning is found not at its material base but its immaterial summit.... Only then do we find out what we are made of -- a Divine substance that has returned to itSelf, even though it never really left in the first place. --The Book of Toots

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Cosmically Infrahuman Agenda of the Proglodyte Left

This is kind of a longish post -- gosh! -- but that's on purpose, since it may have to hold you bobbleheads for awhile. I'll be indisposed for a few days for a memorial for my recently departed father-in-law. It's what he wouldn't have wanted -- he was a passionate atheist -- but we're doing it anyway just to spite him. Carrying out his actual wishes was just too impractical: pouring his ashes into the gearbox of the Popemobile.

This is also a repost, since I'm pressed for time. But it's full of fine insultainment, so it should provoke the anonymi into their usual fits of lashing out at truth and reality.... Plus it has the usual editing to weed out heresies and bring it up to current standards of metaphysical comedy.

Another universal trinity as it pertains to man's vertical development is that of purification --> realization --> union (even though it is not exactly a linear process, since each is holographically in the others; in other words, purification is a kind of realization and union, etc.).

Perhaps these three phases can also tell us something about our collective history, which -- let's face it -- is either a process that is leading somewhere, or just horizontal randomness onto which we superimpose fanciful patterns.

Obviously I believe the former is true; and in fact, one of man's prerogatives -- one of the things that defines him as Man -- is the ability to think historically. In other words, prior to this or that particular history is the intuition of absolute history itself. We could not understand any history if we weren't embedded in this total cosmic-historical drama.

Speaking of which, Dupree alerted me to the most appallingly fatuous piece of scientistic gobbledygook on dailykos the other day. If anyone wants to know why I so despise the secular left -- why it is the mortal enemy of the Coon way of life -- perusing this infrahuman dispatch from the bowels of metaphysical ignorance and tenure would serve as well as any, for it reveals the ultimate premise and goal of the left in all its hideously naked barbarity, which is to turn man into a beast. Entitled Science Friday: You Are Not That Special, it reads,

"a pair of recent articles point up the folly of making tool use the test of humanity. It appears that chimpanzees had their own 'stone age.' Around the same time the pyramids were being constructed in Egypt, Chimps in West Africa were using stone tools to get at hard-shelled nuts. It's not only chimpanzees of the past who use tools. It's long been known that some bands of modern chimps use sticks to tease insects from their hives."

There, you see? This ignoramus looks at the vast panorama of creation and concludes that one of the seven wonders of the world is indistinguishible from a hungry monkey cracking open a nut. By this logic, Kos himself is nothing more than a grubby chimp poking his little joystick into a cyberhole to satisfy his animal impulses. Which, of course, is entirely true, but that's beside the point.

The beast in question then asks,

"how can you draw the line between us and them? Emotions? Language? The answer is that you can't. There are no lines. Deeply unsatisfying as it is to the desire to group items into black and white (a tendency also not limited to humans), all the answers of science are grey."

Oh, really? What could be more black and white than suggesting that there is absolutely no distinction between animals and human beings? For example, even my dog knows better than this. Frankly she is in awe of Dear Leader and his magical powers -- indeed, even of Future Leader and the mysterious Trail of Food he leaves in his wake.

This somehow omniscient kosmonkey then presumes to inform humans -- but how would he know? -- that "Your species is not that special. Reading the text of paleontology and history, there is no bold message of certainty. Winding back the clock reveals no inexorable march in our direction, or even the triumph of 'better' over 'worse'.... [H]uman history has been defined as much by fortuitous placement of natural resources as it has been by human action. You're the tail end of the tail end of a process that much more closely resembles random chance than progress toward an objective."

Furtherless, "Your world is not that special. Your planet is not located at the center of the universe. Neither is your star, or your galaxy. Perhaps most disturbing at all, as telescopes have revealed to us the enormity of space, both astronomy and geology have revealed the breathless expanse (sic) of time. We are not just insignificantly small items living in a vast ocean of space; we're living in a moment so brief that it's barely a single tick of a clock that's already run through millennia without us, and will not pause when we are gone."

I don't mean to dwell on this moronic diatribe, but it is important. Don't worry, we're almost done. He concludes on a bizarre note, by assuring us that

"No, you are not that special. And yet, you are a wonder, absolutely unique and irreplaceable. Your species is a wonder, gifted with physical and mental resources that provide boundless opportunity. Your planet is a wonder, swarming with life in infinite variety and complexity. Your universe is a wonder, based on laws so precisely balanced that the slightest variation in any of them might have caused everything -- space, time, and everything that moves through both -- to never have appeared."

Let's de-deconstruct this confused and vacuous elegy to nothingness for just a moment, since it does such a fine job of articulating the satanic agenda of the left, and presents such a perfect mirror image of reality, so that everything is precisely backwards and upside down.

According to Valentin Tomberg, all evolutionary progress in the vertical is accompanied by a sort of shadow version in the lower vertical. (Catholics know full well, for example, that the shadow of evil unavoidably entered the church with its inception; or one could go back to Genesis, in which man's very self-awareness co-arises with knowledge of Death, as it must.)

Will has referred to this as the "ape of God" -- not "ape" in the animal sense, but in terms of aping, or imitating. It would be perfectly accurate to say -- and all true theologians know this -- that leftism itself is the ape of the primordial doctrine. It is not analogous to, say, paganism, which, as Will has pointed out, had its role in the arc of salvation. After all, religion had to start somewhere, as does any developmental process. It only becomes pathological if the developmental process becomes arrested, if there is a regression to the earlier mode, or if there is a "fixation" or a "complex" -- a closed and bounded area that does not enter the stream of development, but becomes "stuck" in exactly the manner of a mind parasite.

In other words, a human being can be quite developed in certain areas but completely fixated in others. One thinks of Alan Watts who, on the one hand, could speak so eloquently and charismatically about matters of spirit, but on the other, was an alcoholic with a masochistic spanking fixation.

(This is a topic for a different post, but it is possible to provoke an influx of spiritual energy before one is prepared -- i.e., to have realization prior to sufficient purification -- which can severely unbalance the personality, because it's as if everything gets infused with the Force, mind parasites included. Hence all of the warnings against jumping onto the path unprepared or without guidance. Nor do I mean to single out Watts, for one could cite dozens of examples.)

You will note, for example, how deeply flawed were certain heroes of the Old Testament -- David comes to mind, or even a secular hero such as Alexander the Great. These men had a critical civilizing mission to accomplish, and behavior that was perfectly acceptable in Phase I of the Arc of Salvation would be entirely unacceptable in Phases II or III. We are called to a much higher moral standard, but let us never forget that the gulf between animal-man and Phase I man was probably even greater than the distance between Phases II and III.

In his context, David is as great a man as any who has ever lived. Who knows, perhaps even Mohammed can be better understood in this context, since his task involved the evolution of the nomadic animal-men of the Arab world into Phase I. Islam began moving toward Phase II some 700 years ago, but then pulled back for a variety of reasons. And now they wish to re-impose Phase I on the rest of the world, completely halting its evolutionary progress.

Back to leftism. It is not not just a fixation, a regression, or an arrested mode of development. Rather, it is in every respect a parallel, or "shadow" of principial truth. Let us review the sinister faith of the bipedal kosmonkey referenced above:

1) Man is an animal, fundamentally no different than any other.

2) Values are an illusion; nothing is actually any better than anything else (e.g., the Giza Pyramid is a stick in an ant hole and Shakespeare is Maureen Dowd).

3) Emotion and language -- or heart and head, meaning and truth -- cannot actually exist in any intrinsically human sense. My dog knowing where to poop or when it's time for a walk is fundamentally no different than the theory of relativity.

4) Nothing can be known with certainty, which is simply another way of saying that nothing may be known except falsehood -- which is no knowledge at all.

5) Cluelessly ironic though it may be for a "progressive" to say, there is actually no direction in history, no objective standard of measurement, no better or worse. Our unique Western values have nothing whatsoever to do with our extraordinary "success" as a culture. As that other fourteen-karat boob, Jared Diamond, has argued, it's just a matter of geography, disease, and fortuitous placement of natural resources.

6) There is no intrinsic meaning in the cosmos, much less in your life -- which is simply a tale told by a tenured idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying a cushy lifetime gig at taxpayer's expense.

7) The secular leftist takes an appallingly violent wrecking ball to the entire realm of the vertical, in that not only are you not special, but you are insignificantly small. Furthermore, the world is not special -- which of course makes us wonder -- but not really -- why all these leftists cheer the fanatical message of Al Gore, which is obviously premised on the doctrinal truth that the earth is of infinite importance; here again, a fine example of the "ape of God."

8) Neither human beings nor the planet are at the center of the universe, since there is by definition no center once the vertical has been demolished by tenured monkeys with sticks.

Again, the correct doctrine is that of course human beings are at the very center of the cosmic drama if viewed vertically. The center of a three-dimensional cone is a line that descends from the point to the base, not anything located along the base. Reduced from three to two dimensions, we are left with only a circle at the base. This is the self-imposed "circle of hell" inhabited by the the secular left, which they -- no different than the Islamists -- would like to impose upon the rest of us.

No, we're not done, because once the leftist has annihilated the vertical -- which is Job One for the left -- he performs a bait and switch, inserting the horizontal values of the left into the hole he has created with his clumsy monkey stick. This is where the "ape of God" comes into play. Some leftists are more slick and clever than others -- i.e., Obama or the Clintons -- but the kosmonkey is not subtle, to say the least. In one sentence he declares,

1) No, you are not that special.

And then, in the very next sentence, 2) Yes, you are a wonder, absolutely unique and irreplaceable!

As you folks with a rudimentary grasp of logic will have noticed, there is no way to derive (2) from (1), the eternal yes of life, love, hope, meaning, truth and beauty from the NO! of abject nihilism.

But here your troubles have only just begun, because -- to paraphase someone -- hell is the place where logic is rendered null and void, as in a Kafka novel, or the Keith Olbermann show. I will just end with something I wrote a while back, and let you draw your own conclusions:

"As Scott summarizes him, Michael Polanyi pointed out that what distinguishes leftist thought in all its forms is the dangerous combination of a ruthless contempt for traditional moral values with an unbounded moral passion for utopian perfection.

"The first step in this process is a complete skepticism that rejects traditional ideals of moral authority and transcendent moral obligation. This materialistic skepticism is then combined with a boundless, utopian moral fervor to transform mankind.

"However, being that the moral impulse remains in place, there is no longer any boundary or channel for it. One sees this, for example, in college students (and those permanent college students known as professors) who, in attempting to individuate from parental authority and define their own identities, turn their intense skepticism against existing society, denouncing it as morally shoddy, artificial, hypocritical, and a mere mask for oppression and exploitation. In other words, as the philosopher Voegelin explained it, the vertical is 'immamentized' into the present, expressing the same religious faith but in wholly horizontal and materialistic terms.

"What results is a moral hatred of existing society and the resultant alienation of the postmodern leftist intellectual. Having condemned the distinction between good and evil as dishonest, such an individual can at least find pride in the unblinking 'honesty' of their condemnation. Since ordinary decent behavior can never be safe against suspicion of sheer conformity or downright hypocrisy, only an amoral meaningless act can assure complete authenticity. This is why, to a leftist, the worst thing you can call someone is a hypocrite, whereas authentic depravity is celebrated in art, music, film, and literature. It is why, for example, leftist leaders all over the world were eager to embrace a nihilistic mass murderer such as Yasser Arafat, or why they so adore the anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-capitalist thug Hugo Chavez."

Let us stipulate that we are engaged in a cosmic struggle between human beings and monkeys with sticks, newspapers, academy awards, Supreme Court seats, UN resolutions, suicide bombs, tenure, and more. Choose sides wisely. It's up to you, but my advice is to choose the side for which the possiblity of genuine spiritual wisdom exists, and to steer clear of the side that ecstatically thrashes it to dust with its primitive tools.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On Economic, Intellectual, Spiritual and Political Bubbles

We all know that there are economic bubbles that inevitably burst and punish investors for their irrational exuberance and willing suspension of disbelief about the laws of economics.

In fact, it seems that these bubbles are not so much built into the free market system as built into man, since we have more or less averaged about one per generation over the past two or three centuries. Thus, the "law of the economic bubble" is a painful lesson that each generation must learn anew.

I'm not an economist, but it seems to me that a bubble occurs when price outruns value, and it bursts when price returns to value, i.e., its actual worth. In 2006, the price of my house was absurdly higher than its value. In fact, even now its price is too high, but that's California for you.

But this is not a post about economics; or perhaps we could say that it is about "psycho-spiritual economics," for what I would like to suggest is that what occurs in economics reflects a deeper principle, and that there also exist intellectual and spiritual bubbles that eventually burst and send their investors hurtling to the ground.

To cite the most recent dramatic example, the climate change industry has been revealed to be a classic intellectual bubble. As with economic bubbles, its worth as a scientific theory became absurdly overvalued, to the point that more and more outrageous claims were required to prop it up. People were willing to pay the price, so long as the illusion of value was maintained. But since the bubble has burst, intellectuals who invested heavily in it are left holding penny stocks that even then no one will buy, for they are essentially worthless.

Most people are not scientists, just as they are not economists. Therefore, they rely on economic advisors to tell them how and where to invest, and they rely on science to tell them "what to believe," i.e., where to invest their credence. But science itself becomes a classic bubble when it morphs into scientism, because it pretends to know things it not only cannot know, but can never know in principle. And because man is everywhere man, this is when science begins taking on all of the trappings of a primitive and poorly thought out, ad hoc religion.

Darwinism is another example of a classic bubble. Obviously the theory of natural selection has some genuine value -- it is hardly worthless -- but nor is it remotely as valuable as its fundamentalist adherents make it out to be, for it is way out in front of its headlights. For the Darwinian faithful, the theory is virtually "priceless," since it explains "everything." It is a totalistic worldview into which the Darwinian invests all of his cognitive and spiritual funds.

But one of the first rules of investment is diversification. You want to invest in a variety of instruments with differing timelines of maturity, depending upon one's stage of life.

In my case, for example, I have some safe, short term investments in science, and some liquidity in the form of common sense and practical wisdom, but the bulk of my longer term investments are in religion, which is unaffected by transient intellectual bubbles (excluding, of course, heretical "manias" that predict the Second Coming, or a new caliphate, or a messiah in the White House, etc.; you might even say that false religions are always spiritual bubbles).

We all understand why it would have been a mistake to ask a man who had all of his holdings in real estate about the health of the real estate market in 2006. Even if he had his doubts, it would be very unlikely that he would broadcast them and place his economic position in peril.

Just so the global warmists. Even before the rest of us, they well understood that their theory -- and their intellectual fortune -- was in peril, so they needed to essentially engage in the sort of thing Enron did -- insist to all of its investors that their money was entirely safe and that the theory was "sound as a dollar." In order to do this, they had to "borrow" truth that did not yet exist. In other words, they used the collateral of their present knowledge to take out loans on future certainty. They assumed that the science would eventually pay off and confirm their intuitions despite the contrary findings.

But they cooked the scientific books in order to take out those intellectual loans, and now that the loans are due, they are in a position of intellectual bankruptcy. In 1995 they assured their creditors that 15 years hence, the planet would be dramatically warmer. This was good enough for the investors. But unfortunately for them, the planet did not cooperate, since there has been no appreciable warming since 1995. This is analogous to a business borrowing millions of dollars based on an economic forecast of a certain amount of profit and growth which fails to materialize.

At that point, the only option is bankruptcy and dissolution. Or a government takeover, which is what is occurring with the warmists. Their theory -- and their industry -- is simply "too big to fail," so now we are in the absurd position of the government not only owning failed automobile companies and banks, but non-viable scientific theories. But a non-viable scientific theory is in many ways indistinguishable from a religion, so the state is in the position of propping up and favoring an established religion, the religion of "radical environmentalism."

Science, just like the free market, is supposed to reward success and punish failure. Thus, under normal circumstances, there are built-in mechanisms of "progress" and "conservation" in both, the former promoting risk, creativity, and leaps of imagination, the latter promoting caution, consolidation, and extraordinary proof for extraordinary claims.

Thus, just as investors should have been skeptical of the extraordinary financial claims of a Bernie Madoff, people should have been far more skeptical of the extraordinary scientific claims of the warmists before investing in the theory. It might have passed as a decent intellectual hedge fund, but certainly not one's core investment.

President Obama is another example of a classic bubble. Why did otherwise sane people invest so much in this cipher? Indeed, why did they ignore all of the evidence that he was absurdly overvalued?

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Evolving Under the Banyan Tree with the Holy Spirit Dangling Down

Man is himself "made in the image of God": only man is such a direct image, in the sense that his form is an "axial" and “ascendant” perfection and his content a totality. Man by his theomorphism is at the same time a work of art and also an artist; a work of art because he is an “image,” and an artist because this image is that of the Divine Artist. Man alone among earthly beings can think, speak and produce works; only he can contemplate and realize the Infinite. --F. Schuon

Some commenters failed to understand my point about Man, -- not this or that man, but Man as Such -- that he cannot evolve further, because he is the end of evolution. As Northern Bandit put it in a comment, we are adequate to the Absolute, and that is as far as you can go -- unless you think you can "be" the Absolute, which is an absurdity on the way to a crime.

Of course this does not preclude such categories as improvement, learning, purification, illumination, union, etc. Again, we are not the Absolute; we only know it. Nor are we (yet) the likeness of God, only the image. I accept the Orthodox view that our own personal evolution, as it were, takes place between image and likeness, or potential and actualization. To put it another way, all men are born with the potential of becoming the likeness, but few people make it all the way. We call them saints, or starets, or mystics.

A few readers will no doubt wonder how this squares with Sri Aurobindo's cosmic evolutionary scheme, but I don't think his views can be wrenched from their Hindu context. We're talking mostly about Christianity here, in which the "descent of the Supermind" has already occurred; we call it the Incarnation, which is the bridge between God and man that assures us that our own little ladder goes all the way to the top floor. In the absence of the descent, we could only ascend so high from the doubthouse to the repenthouse.

I have said before that in my view Aurobindo was (without knowing it) very much "Christianizing" Vedanta, no doubt because of his western education at Cambridge, in which he absorbed not only Christianity and evolutionism (which was all the rage at the time -- and not just the Darwinian kind), but the whole Western canon.

Other methods of yoga are purely "ascending" paths, like, say Plotinus in the West. Only Aurobindo's is a descending, this-worldly path, the goal of which is to "divinize" oneself and creation -- very much analogous to the Christian goal of personal theosis and of redeeming the world. This is not to immamentize the eschaton, in which the distinction between transcendence and immanence is obliterated and man is made God. Rather, it is to live in the dynamic space between them.

And I fully accept Aurobindo's thesis that in order for there to have been an evolution, there must have been a prior involution. This idea is concordant with hermetic Christianity and Kabbalah, and basically means that God is both the ladder and the goal.

Just yesterday I was reading a very clear expression of these ideas in Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Church, in which he describes the point at which "Christianity" really began. Was it with the Incarnation? The Transfiguration? The Resurrection? No, not exactly. Those were all cosmically necessary, but not quite humanly sufficient causes. It was with Pentecost, which marks "the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles at Jerusalem.... On that same day through the preaching of St. Peter three thousand men and women were baptized, and the first Christian community at Jerusalem was formed" (emphasis mine).

The preaching that day that was so effective because it embodied a horizontal propagation of the vertical descent into Peter. Absent the descent, his words would have been mere pneumababble with no intrinsic power (or celestial mandate) to convert others.

Have you ever seen a banyan tree, like the ones in Florida, where I'll soon be visiting? It's a very strange tree, in that it sends down filaments from the branches, which descend to the ground and create what looks like another ascending trunk of a separate tree; it's as if the root system is above, not below. No wonder they're considered sacred symbols in India. You might think of the body of Christ as analogous to the banyan tree, which has all the individual "trunks" that are really just part of the single tree descending from above.

Elsewhere, Ware perfectly describes the (↓) (↑) symbols used in my book, as applied to Christianity. He quotes St. Paul's statement about Christ sharing "our poverty (↓) that we might share the riches of His divinity (↑)." This process of man's gradual divinization is called theosis:

"No one less than God can save humanity; therefore if Christ is to save, He must be God. But only if He is truly human, as we are, can we humans participate in what He has done for us. A bridge is formed between God and humanity by the Incarnate Christ who is divine and human at once."

And here is the money quote, from John 1:51: "Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending (↑) and descending (↓) upon the Son of Man." And as Ware adds, "Not only angels use that ladder, but the human race." (Please note the critical point that when the Third Person of the Trinity Incarnated as a man, he also did so as mankind, otherwise we would have no access to the ladder.)

I think that Schuon was the quintessential humanist, in a way that a secular humanist can by definition never be, since the latter denies any genuine possibility of the (↓) and (↑) that are our lifeline and our salvation. Some of his observations about Man are luminously and beautifully accurate:

"Man is spirit incarnate; if he were only matter, he would be identified with the feet; if he were only spirit, he would be the head, that is, the Sky; he would be the Great Spirit. But the object of his existence is to be in the middle: it is to transcend matter while being situated there, and to realize the light, the Sky, starting from this intermediary level. It is true that the other creatures also participate in life, but man synthesizes them: he carries all life within himself and thus becomes the spokesman for all life, the vertical axis where life opens onto the spirit and where it becomes spirit. In all terrestrial creatures the cold inertia of matter becomes heat, but in man alone does heat become light."

"Man -- insofar as he is distinct from other creatures on earth -- is intelligence; and intelligence -- in its principle and its plenitude -- is knowledge of the Absolute; the Absolute is the fundamental content of the intelligence and determines its nature and functions. What distinguishes man from animals is not knowledge of a tree, but the concept -- whether explicit or implicit -- of the Absolute; it is from this that the whole hierarchy of values is derived, and hence all notion of a homogeneous world. God is the 'motionless mover' of every operation of the mind, even when man -- reason -- makes himself out to be the measure of God."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Evolution Without Darwin

We had another troll last night arguing that free will doesn't exist. I won't get into his ridiculous arguments -- which he wasn't free to make anyway, nor am I free to accept -- but perhaps they illuminate a central reason why the left doesn't value liberty: it doesn't exist. And they have Darwinism to prove it!

In fact, the denial of free will is a kind of all-purpose dogma for the left, as it is the underpinning for so many of their cherished beliefs: poverty causes crime, America causes Islamist terror, Israel causes Palestinian savagery, etc.

But they never hold this dogma consistently, for they don't apply it to white collar crime; nor have I ever heard a leftist argue that Islamic terror is the cause of "American imperialism," or that Muslim Jew hatred is the cause of "Zionist expansion," or that provocatively dressed women are the cause of rape, or that blacks were the cause of their own lynching. It's always a one-way denial of free will that excuses the left's various mascots while robbing them of their dignity and humanity, i.e., their free will.

Oddly, only the enemies of the left have moral freedom. But they always exercise this freedom in an evil way, in order to exploit and harm their victims. This is what "hate crime" legislation is all about. Leftist mascots have no free will, so "hate" doesn't enter into their crimes (remember, they are passive pawns of "societal forces" and similar ghostly presences). But white European males do have the gift of free will, so they require an extra penalty for having willed their crimes in a hateful manner.

Conversely, the left never wills anything bad, despite the disastrous consequences of their policies. Millions of Africans dead from malaria due to the banning of DDT? We meant well! Destruction of the black family due to welfare and other perverse entitlement programs? Oops! Skyrocketing crime rate due to judicial leniency? Sorry! Hispanic children who are illiterate in two languages due to bilingual education? Lo siento! Real estate bubble due to government-mandated loans to unqualified people? D'oh!

The problem with Darwinism is that it can (if we are generous) account for will, but not free will. For what is free will? It is conscious choice between two actions, including actions that may clearly be counter to our genetic interests. Remember, it only takes one black swan to prove that all swans aren't white, and it only takes one act of free will to undermine genetic determinism.

Another point that persistently eludes our trolls is that Darwinism does indeed reveal evolution, but that evolution undermines Darwinism. For the benefit of careless readers, I most definitely believe in evolution. What I do not believe is that natural selection alone can account for it. I believe that evolution is directional, whereas Darwinism insists that their kind of pseudo-evolution has no direction, meaning, or end.

I believe human beings are the end of evolution and all this implies, whereas for the Darwinian, every organism is transitional -- a means to some other genetic end. Which is why I believe that human beings are infinitely precious, because they are the "last word" of evolution, which is none other than the "image of God" -- and one cannot "evolve" higher than that.

Evolution cannot produce something "higher" than man as such, since man knows the absolute, and the absolute cannot be transcended, whether we are speaking in terms of truth, beauty, or virtue. To imagine that somewhere in the cosmos there is a writer superior to Shakespeare is pure fantasy, but it is also a failure to understand Shakespeare (and timeless and universal art in general).

Please bear in mind that there is nothing "anti-evolutionary" about Christianity. To the contrary, Genesis clearly reveals the workings of a God whose creation unfolds in time. Man does not enter the scene until after light, planets, stars, water, land, oceans, vegetation, and animals. Here is how Jaki describes it:

"What Darwin and the Darwinians failed to see -- and this is why Darwin's theory, though not his vision of evolution, failed -- was that time needed a womb, a purpose, if it was to issue ultimately in the most purposeful activity of science and not merely in its stillbirths. For evolution has a a direction marked by time's arrow, analogous to the one designed to mark direction, which through its very meaning serves as a pointer of purpose" (emphasis mine).

The only answer of the Darwinians is that the second law of thermodynamics does not preclude the possibility of local areas of negentropy. This is entirely true, but transcendental truth, beauty and virtue are not mere instances of local negentropy that will decay with time! It's not as if the radiant truth will eventually rust and decompose into a dusty pile of worthless lies.

Rather, truth is true forever, in this or in any other cosmos. Stephan Jay Gould famously said that natual selection was so random, that if we could unwind evolution and start it over, it would have taken an entirely different course that wouldn't have included human beings. I won't get into that argument, but I can say with absolute certainty that evolution would never have resulted in 2 + 2 equalling anything other than 4, or E equalling anything other than MC squared, or murder being anything other than wrong, or in slavery being preferable to freedom.

Unless you are a Darwinian living in an upside down cosmos. For example, as T.H. Huxley said, "the thief and murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist." Or as Darwin himself wrote -- and nothing could be more contrary to genuine evolution -- "A man who has no assured and no present belief in the existence of a personal God or a future existence with retribution and rewards, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones."

This is a recipe for destroying in a generation what it took eons of evolution to create. But enough about the left.

As Jaki observes, "a society which does not believe in angels cannot lay claim to policemen who behave like angels." Rather, like everyone else, they're just self-interested replicating machines following their impulses: Every cop is a criminal / and all the sinners saints.

But do not despair. Darwin was still an optimist: "Looking at the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world." For genocide is just doing what comes naturally.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Myopia of the Darwinian Vision

Of the many philosophical problems of Darwinism, "the question of purpose is the most fundamental" (Jaki). As mentioned in my book, Darwin simply took the world as he found it, and did not trouble himself with the (very specific) kind of cosmos necessary for life -- or evolution -- to even exist in it. In short, he "never engaged in speculations about the nonliving world" (ibid).

This reminds me of what Thomas Sowell calls the fallacy of "one day at a time" rationalism, which involves the strict application of logic to an artificially constrained situation -- for example, treating wildfires as discrete crises instead of predictable outcomes of environmentalist policies that create overgrowth.

Sowell is mainly talking about intellectuals who ignore historical context and long term trends, but the same principle could equally apply to space as time; call it "one space at a time" rationalism, in which, for example, the evolutionist posits a narrow theory that ignores everything outside its little field of application. This ends in the absurdity of the Darwinist who devotes his life and career to the purpose of proving that purpose -- i.e., final causation -- does not exist. But instead of pretending that final causation doesn't exist, or that it is an illusion, why can't they at least be honest and just admit that they have no idea why final causation exists, since their theory by definition cannot account for it?

Darwinism begins with the assumption that life operates mechanistically. In reality, it is a way to find out what we can about the the biosphere by viewing it mechanistically. Which is fine. There is nothing wrong with the scientific method. It's only when one confuses method and ontology that problems arise. For example, I don't mind that my wife's doctor looks at her body as a machine. But if I were to do that, we'd have problems. (Come to think of it, we'd also have problems if he looked at her as I do.)

A method can easily transform into a vision, often without the person even realizing it. I certainly saw this in my psychoanalytic training. However, in my case, I didn't care for the vision that was emerging, which is why I never completed the training. I knew that it was somewhat like joining a religion, and that in order to be an effective psychoanalyst, I would have to go the whole hog and assimilate the entire vision. But in order to do that, one must exclude so much reality -- most especially, the realm of spirit -- that I knew I couldn't continue without doing violence to myself.

This happens with any vision, whether it is Marxism, or feminism, or environmentalism, whatever. Look at how feminists saw the Tim Tebow Superbowl ad. Instead of perceiving what was plainly there -- a loving and playful exchange with his mother -- they literally saw an act of violence toward women! But this is what their vision compels (and condemns) them to see. I give them credit for being honest, as tragically crazy as they are.

We also see it with global warming, which has long since transformed from theory to vision. Please note that a vision cannot be falsified, so that, for example, if there is a little less fog in the San Francisco Bay, it's a consequence of global warming, as is too much fog. Or, if the Great Lakes fail to freeze over, that's global warming. If they do freeze over, then that's global warming too.

Now, do traditionalists have overarching visions? Of course! The difference is, we call them by their name: visions. For example, we have a vision of limited government and a virtuous empire of liberty in which all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and duties. Can I prove this scientifically? No, of course not. These are values, not a scientific facts.

Conversely, the Darwinian believes that free will and purpose cannot exist because their theory cannot account for them. Thus, you can see that this is a caricature of true science, since science must at least begin with the facts, not just eliminate them through the magic of deductive thinking.

Deduction naturally has its place, but, as in the case of physics, it should lead to legitimate new discoveries, not just make unwanted facts go away. This is what occurred in the 19th century, just prior to Einstein's revolution. The mechanistic paradigm, pursued to its logical end, resulted in persistent anomalies for which mechanism could not account. Only with Einstein's breakthroughs was there the basis for a new paradigm that could account for the anomalies.

If this is true of physics, why do Darwinians pretend it doesn't apply to biology -- i.e., that their paradigm generates anomalies for which it cannot account? There's no shame in that.

Again, look at contemporary physics. As sophisticated as it is, it still has no idea how quantum and relativity theories -- i.e., the subatomic/micro and the cosmological/macro -- relate. So what? The fun is in trying to discover how they do relate. Eventually some brilliant scientist is going to come along and make a breathtaking creative leap that unifies the two. I personally have faith in this, because I know -- or perhaps I should say that in my vision -- the cosmos really is one, i.e., a harmonious totality of objects and events. There cannot be two "fundamental" theories to account for it, for the same reason that there cannot be two Gods.

In other words, as incredibly accurate as their theories are, physicists nevertheless realize that they are "wrong" -- or incomplete -- in the ultimate sense. Why can't Darwinists acknowledge the same thing? Why pretend that today's knowledge is final? The irony is that in the Darwinian vision, nothing can be fixed and final. A human being is not the "end" of anything, just a genetic resting place on the way to something else that cannot be foreseen. Thus, how can the meaningless cognitive effluvia of an intrinsically changeable being ever know an unchangeable truth?

Again, to quote Darwin himself, "the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there were any convictions in such a mind?"

No, of course not. But that just highlights an instance of Darwin's "one space at a time" rationalism, which becomes self-refuting if mindlessly applied to a human space which self-evidently plays host to true convictions.

In his autobiography, Darwin asked if "the mind of man which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but probably depends merely on inherited experience?"

As you can see, there is a premise in the question, and if one accepts the premise -- that the mind of man is not fundamentally different from any other animal mind -- then one must either accept the conclusion or rethink the premise.

Or, put it this way: the radical skeptic can have no ontologically real mind with which to doubt. "Darwinism is, therefore I'm not."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The One Cosmos Cult: Controlling Minds Since 2005

For today's Sunday morning repast, I decided to see what was cooking in the Cosmosphere three years ago. This one caught my attention. It has to do with the ins & outs of how I operate my cult to keep you people under my thumb.

Which I may need to reimagineer, since the cult has only grown smaller in the interim. Have I made mistakes? No, that's impossible. I was just so busy getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of me that I think I lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the Raccoon nation about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values. I realize this makes no sense, but that's what Petey put into the blogoprompter.

Perhaps I need to create more of a mystique around myself. I'll have Dupree work on that. Or maybe increase the annual dues, since people devalue what they get for free. Yeah, that's it. New policy: as of today, the initiation fee is increased from $1.50 to $1.75.

As a perceptive troll observed yesterday, "What we see in this post is a drift towards a 'cult' mentality. All cults require a dire threat from the outside in order to create an 'us against them' atmosphere. Without the external threat, a sufficient level of internal cohesion cannot be created.

D'oh! I hate it when trolls find out the truth about the Transdimensional Order of the Friendly Sons & Daughters of the Cosmic Raccoons.

But what took this genius so long to figure it out? Without an external threat, how can Dear Leader be expected to maintain internal cohesion and cult discipline -- as the left does by villifying George Bush and promulgating apocalyptic fantasies of global cooling.... er, nuclear winter.... ahh, global warming.... umm, climate change?

As you are about to see, I've been playing up this dire existential threat in order to create a "Coon-against-the-world" siege mentality ever since my very first post on October 5, 2005 (which we celebrate as "Metacosmic Coonday"). In what follows, I'll go through that post paragraph by paragraph and demonstrate how the left really is such a boon, I mean existential threat, to our sacred fundraising efforts on behalf of the cult:

1) "I don't think it's healthy to orient your life around politics 24/7, as does the secular left, for which politics (including radical environmentalism) is their substitute religion. Politics must aim at something that isn't politics, otherwise what's the point? Politics just becomes a cognitive system to articulate your existential unhappiness. Again, this is what leftists do -- everything for them is politicized."

This is axiomatic. In a famous remark that reflects one of the defining characteristics of modern conservatism, Eric Voegelin noted that the very basis of the leftist project is to "immamentize the eschaton," which, in plain language, means to horizontalize the vertical. Just as the Roman Empire collapsed partly as a result of "horizontal barbarians," leftism represents a kind of vertical barbarism for which nothing transcending the immediate senses is ontologically real.

Thus, for example, all truth is relative, free will is attenuated through the cult of victimology, envy (perhaps the greatest enemy of spiritual fulfillment) is promoted as a defining virtue, and transcendent moral obligations are reduced to an arbitrary cultural agreement.

Leftism is defined by an externalizing consciousness that locates the reason for unhappiness or failure outside the self. Conversely, one of the greatest gifts of a proper spiritual education is that it teaches one to locate the reasons for one's unhappiness within. Every leftist politician arrives with the perverse gospel that, "it's not your fault! You are a victim! Don't be responsible for your life! Liberty is a pernicious illusion anyway! Transfer your power to me, and I will rescue you!"

2) "One of the general purposes of this blog is to try to look at politics in a new way -- to place the day-to-day struggle of politics in a much wider historical, evolutionary, and even cosmic context. History is trying to get somewhere, and it is our job to help it get there. However, that 'somewhere' does not lie within the horizontal field of politics, but beyond it. Thus, politics must not only be grounded in something that isn't politics, but aim at something that isn't politics either."

Here again, it goes without saying that this is a kind of talk that is unknown -- because unknowable -- on the left. Their project always involves the diminution of spiritual freedom in order to attain a purely worldly goal that third parties -- horizontal leftist elites -- deem worthwhile. Thus, a few days ago, Hillary Clinton promised that if she is president, she will confiscate the profits of legal corporations at the barrel of a gun and use them in the way she sees fit. Likewise, she will no doubt attempt to take health care out of our hands, and appropriate a substantial portion of the economy through government rationed healthcare.

3) "This is not an abstract, impractical or esoteric notion. The ultimate purpose of politics should be to preserve the radical spiritual revolution of the American founders, so that humans may evolve inwardly and upwardly -- not toward a manifest destiny but an unmanifest deustiny."

This one almost goes without saying. The left does not value spiritual liberty but horizontal equality. Once you recognize this distinction, you will see how it animates nearly every one of their domestic policies. To the extent that they value freedom at all, it is only the shadow version of true liberty represented by license -- which is generally much closer to vice than it is to liberty. Just as our freedom to know is only meaningful if we use it to conform ourselves to truth, our liberty is only meaningful if we use it to conform to virtue.

4) "For example, when we say that politics must be grounded in something that isn't politics, we are simply reflecting the philosophy at the heart of the American revolution, that the sacred rights of mankind, as expressed by Alexander Hamilton, are written in human nature 'by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased by mortal power.' In short, human beings possess a 'spiritual blueprint' that is antecedent to politics, and which it is the task of politics to protect, preserve and nurture."

Here again, this idea is entirely foreign to leftism, which is a wholly materialistic philosophy. For them, the purpose of politics is hardly to preserve and protect our liberty, but to impose ideological conformity and to diminish freedom through government intervention. There is probably no place less intellectually -- let alone, vertically -- free than liberal academia, which eliminates dissent through political correctness and speech codes. As Dennis Prager says, "the larger the state, the smaller the citizen."

5) "The founders, who were steeped in Judeo-Christian metaphysics, did not believe in mere license, which comes down to meaningless freedom on the horizontal plane. Rather, they believed that horizontal history had a beginning and was guided by a purpose, and that only through the unfolding of human liberty could that 'vertical' purpose be achieved. Our founders were progressive to the core, but unlike our contemporary reactionary and anti-evolutionary leftists, they measured progress in relation to permanent standards that lay outside time -- metaphorically speaking, an eschatological 'Kingdom of God,' or 'city on a hill,' drawing us toward it. Without this nonlocal telos, the cosmos can really have no frontiers, only edges.

A ubiquitous project of the left is to deny and undermine our unique Judeo-Christian heritage. As I have said before, they are callously destroying the vertical habitat in which the Raccoon -- and any other higher mammal -- actually lives.

6) "Liberty -- understood in its spiritual sense -- was the key idea of the founders. This cannot be overemphasized. According to Michael Novak, liberty was understood as the 'axis of the universe,' and history as 'the drama of human liberty.' Thomas Jefferson wrote that 'the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.' It was for this reason that Jefferson's original idea for the design of the seal of the United States was Moses leading the children of Israel out of the death-cult of Egypt, out of the horizontal wasteland of spiritual bondage, into the open circle of a higher life. America was quite consciously conceived as an opportunity to 're-launch' mankind after such an initial 100,000 years or so of disappointment, underachievement, and spiritual stagnation."

The left believes there is nothing special or exceptional about the United States -- unless it is exceptionally bad, as famous leftists such as Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Michael Moore never tire of telling us. Just the other day, John Kerry mentioned at an international conference that the United States is a pariah among nations. I give him credit for his honesty, as all lefists believe this, but, just like Yasser Arafat, never reveal their true feelings to the wrong audience.

7) "Although it may sound slightly heretical, without human liberty, the Creator is helpless (in a manner of speaking) to act in the horizontal (since his primary activity is vertical). This does not diminish the Creator but exalts him, for a moment's reflection reveals that an intimation of our spiritual freedom absolutely belies any mere material explanation found within the horizontal confines of history. For ours is an inwardly mobile cosmos, and as the philosopher of science Stanley Jaki writes, our free will brings us 'face to face with that realm of metaphysical reality which hangs in midair unless suspended [vertically] from that Ultimate Reality, best called God, the Creator."

Again, true freedom can only involve aligning our will with the Creator, otherwise there can be no such thing as liberty -- just as there can be no such thing as knowledge unless it involves aligning ourselves with Truth.

8) "Tip O’Neill is evidently responsible for the cliché that 'All politics is local.' The greater truth is that all politics is nonlocal, meaning that outward political organization rests on a more fundamental, 'inner' ground that interacts with a hierarchy of perennial and timeless values. Arguments about the surface structure of mundane political organization really have to do with whose nonlocal values will prevail, and the local system that will be established in order to achieve those nonlocal values."

What leftist would ever say such a thing? Since a leftist is by definition a metaphysical yahoo, his only recourse is to ridicule that which he does not understand.

*****

So that pretty much lays out the basis of our little cult in my very first post. The question is, do we really have an enemy -- i.e., is the left really opposed to the Raccoon platform -- or are we pretty much "on the same page" as our fellow Americans, with only minor quibbling at the margins?

I do not personally adhere to this sanguine view of our differences. I will speak only for myself. When you talk about the differences between me and a typical leftist, you might as well be talking about different species. The left, of course, is obsessed with trivial racial differences, but the differences between me and a white leftist are infinitely greater than any differences based on race, class or gender.

A Raccoon is a member of the same race as anyone who shares his values. Therefore, Tom Sowell and I are members of the same race, just as Margaret Thatcher and I are members of the same gender. On the other hand, the girlish John Edwards and I are the opposite sex, and Al Sharpton is from another planet altogether. "Race" hardly defines our differences in any meaningful manner, and yet, the racist left believes that it is All Important.

There is a reason why leftism is an ideology that appeals to victims, losers, misfits, the envious, the unhappy, the self-defeating, the educated-beyond-their intelligence, and the addle-brained young. It is not that leftism creates the demand. Rather, these people demand an ideology to cater to their various pathologies and deficits. In other words, it is a demand-side politics that arises from certain unfortunate but ubiquitous trends in human nature. However, once the ideology is created, then its central task becomes the creation of more lost souls who demand the ideology of leftism. Here again, this is one of the keys to understanding most any leftist policy, which fosters dependency, envy, narcissistic entitlement, and victimization.

So which is the real cult?