Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Intellectual Sainthood and Intrinsic Metaphysical Heresy

While reading a book by James Schall, he mentioned something in passing that has stuck in my mind, that "we know there are intellectual saints," and that such luminaries as Augustine, Aquinas, and Cardinal Newman yield nothing to the intelligence of "any philosopher or wit of any era." And yet, even Aquinas "was not much recognized in his lifetime," and "today he is little studied except in a few isolated places."

Furthermore, we see how a highly intellectual pope such as John Paul II can be dismissed by self-styled secular intellectuals who are absolutely clueless as to their ignorance of the vertical realm that is the sufficient reason of human intelligence to begin with (anything less is simply not proportionate to the majesty and reach of the human intellect). Schall quotes Newman, who wrote of how "the multitude of men, whether by their own fault or not, are wrong in the greatest matters of religion."

I would respectfully tweak Newman's observation to say that the multitude of intellectuals (and all secular intellectuals) are not even wrong about religion, since they are talking about something else, something of their own imagination. In other words, since they deny the very possibility of the vertical up front, when they talk "about" it, they are doing precisely that: talking about it, not within it. It makes no sense to give opinions about that which one professes to have no reality.

In this regard, Schall quotes the historian Regine Pernoud, who quipped that the hopelessly tenured man is "physically incapable of seeing what is not in conformity with the notions his brain exudes." It reminds me of the old and wise crack to the effect that you cannot expect someone to know something when his whole livelihood depends upon not knowing it. A kind of blindness results, "by which we do not see what is in fact there" (Schall).

Elsewhere Schall quotes JP2, who said that the purpose of education is "to give birth to souls for the sake of knowledge and wisdom, to shape minds and hearts," something that cannot be achieved except "through generous service to truth -- revealing it and passing it on to others" (emphasis mine). In other words, the object and purpose of the intellect is truth, even as the object and purpose of truth is birth and growth of the soul through the intellect.

As we have mentioned before, truth and intellect are of the same substance, which is why the intellect may know the truth. Or, one might say that truth is intellect exteriorized, while intellect is truth interiorized. The critical point is that we make neither truth nor intellect, but expand the latter by discovering and assimilating the former.

Anyway, I was struck by that term, "intellectual saint," because now I have a name for something of which I was very much aware, but didn't know what to call. For instance, I would say that Schuon is a clear example of an intellectual saint, someone who spent his entire life in total devotion to Truth, and to generously passing it along to others.

Obviously there are also moral saints, people who devote their lives to goodness. One could also say that there are artistic saints, for example, a Bach, who devoted his life to explicating the Divine Beauty, or the Sound of Heaven.

I remember Schuon saying something to the effect that we could judge the efficacy of a religion by its capacity to produce genuine saints. But again, we typically think of moral saints, and exclude intellectual saints such as Aquinas and Eckhart, or artistic saints such as Michelangelo or Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Would it be possible for one man to combine all three forms of sainthood? Off hand, I can't think of anyone. I suppose some might argue for Sri Aurobindo, depending upon how one feels about the aesthetic (as opposed to spiritual) value of his poetry. Would Dante qualify? I don't know enough about him.

At any rate, from the idea of intellectual sainthood, I immediately jumped to the idea of intellectual heresy. I realized that there are a number of intrinsic intellectual heresies, meaning that they are universal and that they apply to any faith or discipline, religious or secular, for to hold one of these heresies is to rebel against reality (and God), and to therefore reject the truth and damage the soul -- not just one's own soul, but more seriously, the souls of others. If one imparts a lie to another vulnerable mind, the lie doesn't just end there -- any more than the evil deed ends with having committed it.

Rather, the deed and the lie spread out in time and in space, even unto future generations -- just as truth and virtue have endless consequences beyond the moment. This is serious business. Think of the intellectual virtue of America's founders! With luck, their insights will continue to affect the world forever, until the end of history -- or until history finally results in the assimilation these self-evident truths everywhere.

Conversely, we pray that Marx's demonic ideas will eventually stop their metastatic advance through the world, destroying vulnerable souls and murdering bodies in their wake. If there are intellectual saints, then there are also intellectual demons such as Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn, who devote their public lives to infecting others with their pernicious lies, damaging countless souls along the way.

So anyway, a list of intellectual heresies came to me in a flash. In no particular order, they would include denial of the Absolute, and with it, the promulgation of relativism (moral, intellectual, aesthetic and cultural); equality as the highest political value (which generates chaos, disorder, and injustice); failure to discern the intrinsic relationship between truth and freedom; ignorance of Hayek's "knowledge problem" in economics (see here for how it plays out in time); ignorance of Gödel's theorems; nominalism (i.e., that reality -- especially transcendent reality -- is just words; materialism (i.e., denial of the vertical); humanism (replacing God with man); determinism (denial of free will); and denial of the boundary between man and animal.

One of the first things you will notice is the materialist/relativist/historicist/socialist/deconstructionist/metaphysical Darwinist/secular humanist leftist comes out as the ultimate intellectual heretic, in that he somehow manages to combine all of the above. That's quite an accomplicement to evil.

Well, I'm out of time. I may continue this line of thought tomorrow, if I feel like it. In the meantime, I'll leave it to you folks to flesh this out.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Liberal Threats to Liberalism

I'll get back to the cardinal virtues in due time. After all, they've been here for over two millennia, so they're not going anywhere.

But I wanted to discuss a valuable book I recently finished, New Threats to Freedom, while it's still fresh in my mind. It's a compilation of thirty relatively short and crisp essays on -- you'll never guess -- new threats to freedom. I'll just quote from the product description:

"In the twentieth century, free people faced a number of mortal threats, ranging from despotism, fascism, and communism to the looming menace of global terrorism. While the struggle against some of these overt dangers continues, some insidious new threats seem to have slipped past our intellectual defenses. These new threats are quietly eroding our hard-won freedoms, often unchallenged and, in some cases, widely accepted as beneficial."

Of the thirty essays, I would say that about a third are quite good, a third mediocre, and another third slightly lame. I suppose for the sake of "diversity" -- ironically, one of the new threats to freedom -- they included a number of liberal authors, and their intellectually flabby contributions are the weakest, being that liberalism is the greatest contemporary threat to liberty (by its own acknowledgment, since it knowingly barters away liberty for its fantasies of equality).

In this context, it's a little like inviting communists to discuss new threats to private property, or NAMBLA to discuss new threats to children.

Judging by the density of my highlighting, it looks like the greatest threats to liberty are, in no particular order, the decline of American press freedom, the closing of the liberal mind, the new dogma of fairness, single women (this was one of the more important essays, as we shall see), the loss of the freedom to fail, the EU, the rise of anti-religious (really, anti-Christian) orthodoxy, multiculturalism and the threat of conformity, the tyranny of the news cycle, transnational progressivism, anticapitalism, and the rise of mass dependency.

Ironically, one of the liberals wrote on the dangers of anonymous trolls! He has a point, in that cyber-anonymity does permit sixty year old perverts to pretend they're girly adolescents and liberals to pretend they're not, but a sophisticated internet user quickly learns to tune out the extremists. Politics has always been a blood sport, and it's naive to imagine otherwise.

In his essay The Closing of the Liberal Mind, Bruce Bawer discusses the blatant contradiction of so-called liberals and their tacit (and often overt) alliance with Islamic terrorists, not just in Palestine, but all over Western Europe. He cites the example of Amsterdam, where life for homosexuals can be a living hell "because of predatory Muslim youth gangs who know that according to the teachings of Islam homosexuals deserve to be killed."

But the left just doesn't care. Why? One reason is that recognition of the reality would undermine their irrational faith in multiculturalism. They would have to acknowledge the self-evident truth that some cultures are better and more evolved than others, which is an impermissible thought on the left. And God -- or Gaia or Wakan Tanka -- forbid that Judeo-Christian culture be the most evolved of all! That would qualify as the ultimate secular heresy.

I remember getting into an argument with my late father-in-law and my eminent historian-by-marriage, who were insisting that they much preferred the ancient Greek gods to the Judeo-Christian God. No amount of factual evidence of the barbarism of the pre-Christian world had any impact whatsoever. This is the kind of adolescent sentiment I might have expressed back in my 20s, just to show how daring and unconventional I was. But in order to hold such a moronic view in one's 70s, one must literally forego intellectual and spiritual growth for the remainder of one's life. It's like irony and cynicism as guiding intellectual principles (a Christopher Hitchens falls into this camp as well, which ultimately amounts to the glorification of nihilism).

As Bawer writes, liberal values have been "sold out in the name of multicultural sensitivity," the result being that "millions of self-styled liberals have closed their minds to aspects of reality that challenge their ideology -- an ideology that is, in fact, radically illiberal." There was a point in my lifetime that liberals would have cheered the demise of a fascist dictator in Iraq, but as another contributor writes, JFK was the last Democrat president to govern on the principles of classical liberalism. He was as insensitive as Ronald Reagan or George Bush, declaring the Soviet Union to be "a slave state" that was "embarked upon a program of world aggression."

Bawer notes the truism that being a liberal once "meant standing up for freedom, both at home and abroad, against every form of oppression and totalitarianism." But in the last two years, we have witnessed the exact opposite of this philosophy in Obama, who has coddled or bowed to virtually every despot on the planet, while alienating critical freedom-loving allies such as India, Israel, and Poland.

The left is far more upset about Gitmo than they are about Iran executing homosexuals or about hateful Palestinians training their children to be genocidal islamikazes and mullahtov cocktails. Just as they hated Ronald Reagan far more than Gorbachev, they express far more animus for Dick Cheney or Sarah Palin than Arafat, Abdullah, al-Bashir, or Ahmadinejad. And that's just the A's.

But I think the most profound and far-reaching essay -- for it truly has cosmic and world-historical implications -- is Jessica Gavora's Single Women as a Threat to Freedom (she happens to be married to Jonah Goldberg). First of all, the essay is not the least bit inflammatory, although you could never convince a hysterical ovary tower feminist of this. (Ironically, because of their conspicuous lack of self-awareness, radical feminists display some of the worst untransformed traits of femininity!)

But if we accept the premise that the greatest threat to our liberty is the vast, intrusive, coercive, greedy, and corrupt State, then it is a simple matter of fact that single women are responsible for electing politicians such as Obama who promise to grow government -- just as married women and men can be statistically relied upon to oppose the leviathan state.

Before analyzing the reasons why single women wish to replace men with the government and become dependent upon the latter, let's crunch some of the numbers, shall we? Gavora notes that in the 2008 election, single women "delivered a whopping 71 to 29 percent majority for Barack Obama." It is simply a truism that liberty is not high on the list of values that animate the single woman. Rather, they much prefer to be swaddled by the state, largely because "increasingly these women are substituting the security of a husband [for] the security of the state."

This is a major -- and potentially fatal -- problem, because in 2007, "for the first time, the U.S. Census reported that the majority of American households were headed by unmarried people," and I don't see any immediate prospects for a reversal of this sad and dysfunctional demographic shift. This can only mean more government -- and, of course, fewer and fewer people to pay for it. Any remotely conscious person knows that our present economic course is unsustainable. But you can't tell that to a woman who is married to Uncle Sam, and who has made a lifetime commitment to making the relationship work, for richer and for poorer.

Thus, it is no coincidence that the left favors policies that are destructive to traditional family values -- for example, the redefinition of marriage. Because on most all issues, "Americans in traditional families tend to have more traditional values." Furthermore, "the presence and number of children only magnify this effect," making them the most conservative of all.

The problem is, dependency on the state is a self-perpetuating cycle that interferes with the normal evolutionary process of adult pair-bonding in order to grow emotionally and to nurture the next generation. Once women convince themselves that men are unnecessary, this has truly earthshaking consequences. For the cycle of dependency only creates more dependency, which requires more expansion of government, and then more dependent women and children. Here we can see how contemporary liberalism demands the persistence of social pathology, for in order to win elections, it must pander to this huge and growing segment of the population.

Unmarried mothers now "constitute 26 percent of all eligible voters," which is "a bigger pool than African Americans and Latinos combined." We all know how Democrats pander to the latter two groups, but most people aren't aware of the government's seduction of single women in order to perpetuate and expand its power. If the goal of feminism was independence for women, it must be judged an Epic Fail, for they simply wedded their fortunes to the biggest loser of them all.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Three Stages of Left Wing Spiritual Devolution

This is a continuation of Thursday's inflammatory slander on the left. We'll get back to prudence on Monday.

Jonah Goldberg has an insightful article (National Review, 4.07.08) on the politics of left wing gnosticism as it pertains to the Obama campaign, a campaign that goes to the very core of the left's spiritual pathology. The phenomenon demonstrates what happens when one abandons revealed and divinely authorized channels of religiosity for manmade ones, in a process which necessarily elevates man to god and politics to his religion. In so doing, it collapses the critical distinctions between time and eternity, natural and transnatural, freedom and constraint, and all of the other essential complementarities within which man lives -- and without which he isn't a man at all (i.e., as he was intended to be, in conformity with his spiritual archetype).

People without spiritual gnosis -- e.g., atheists, Darwinians, materialists, et al -- are necessarily exterior to the domain it discloses (for gnosis reveals the cosmic interior, precisely), and yet, proclaim this infirmity to be a kind of superiority, or ultimate health (in other words, they pretend they are more in conformity with reality than you are, even though their metaphysic can never explain how a monkey could ever know "reality").

But clearly, a person who is not seduced by the group fantasies of left wing gnosticism is in a superior position to judge them, since he remains within the realm of objective spiritual reality, whereas the radical secularist is confined to the narrow subjective fantasy of materialism (but only consciously, as we shall see, for the unconscious is always "spiritual").

In this regard, it would be interesting to know how many of Obama's supporters, like Obama himself, belong to heretical gnostic Christian churches that preach a spiritually inverted "liberation theology," as this would reinforce my view that real religion is the best defense against false ones.

At any rate, we shouldn't be surprised that the spiritual path of the left mirrors the universal stages of purification, illumination and union, only in reverse. First comes union with the new messiah.

For example, Goldberg notes that "Obama recruiters are encouraged to proselytize not by talking about 'issues' but by testifying about how they 'came to' the candidate..." In short, there must be a conversion process, a "metanoia," in which the scales suddenly fall from the little bratechumenate's eyes, i.e., the thighs tingle, he "sees" the truth, and he submits to the charismatic cult leader. (As we speak, many of these young adolts are going through a crisis of faith. This is normal for any spiritual practice, i.e., the "dark night of the troll.")

Goldberg writes that "Obama’s apostles include his wife, Michelle, who insists she is 'married to the only person in this race who has a chance at healing this nation.'" In this regard, she has testified that “We need a leader who’s going to touch our souls because, you see, our souls are broken.... The change Barack is talking about is hard, so don’t get too excited, because Barack is going to demand that you, too, be different.”

Thus, after one merges with Obama and is illuminated by the murky Truth for which he stands, ones commences with the hard work of purification, as we struggle to make ourselves worthy of the grace we have received. In other words, ask not what Obama can do for you. Ask what you can do for Obama.

Goldberg cites numerous examples to show how much of the messianic language that swirls around Obama "is more New Age than New Testament." He quotes Gary Hart, for example, who says that the Anointed One "is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians,” but is an "agent of transformation in an age of revolution,” whatever that means.

Likewise, Deepak Chopra -- who gives snake oil salesmen a bad name -- claims that Obama represents “a quantum leap in American consciousness,” while another pneumapath and career guru, Eve Konstantine, says that he “is our collective representation of our purest hopes, our highest visions and our deepest knowings.... He’s our product out of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence.” (Product of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence? Why all the pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo? Why not just say that he is the only-begotten Son of God?)

And Oprah Winfrey suggests that Obama doesn't only "speak" truth but is the Truth who will help us “evolve to a higher plane.” Here again, why not just say that the early Christians got it all wrong, and that the real Word is finally dwelling among us?

Of course, in collectivist left wing gnosticism, God does not and cannot work through the individual. Nor does he work through the interior collective, or any kind of "higher we." Rather, he works through the instrument of that glorified labor camp known as The State, which will take control over the spontaneous order of our nation and attenuate the true interior bonds -- the higher we -- of civil society. For progressives, liberty is not the solution, it's the problem, because it tends to lead to the exercise of free will, which in turn emphasizes the sanctity of the individual. The only cure for the interior I and We is the exterior Him and his all powerful Them, the state.

The heart of Goldberg's piece involves a discussion of Voegelin's point that progressivism is a heretical political religion and therefore a form of gnosticism. This religion has "two core assumptions. First, it condemns the existing world as broken and alienating, plagued by evil forces preventing a complete and happy restoration of man’s spiritual and material life." (Which is why they are so desperate to "keep Bush alive" as the manichean explanation for why sugar candy mountain hasn't yet arrived.)

So the progressive, in his own garbled way, indeed recognizes that man is "fallen." However, "the gnostic promise, to borrow a phrase from John Edwards, is that 'it doesn’t have to be this way.'" Thus, the second assumption: as Russell Kirk observed, these religions promise "a mode of deliverance or salvation from the prison of the world for man through a secret gnosis."

By manipulating people with the right policies, we can create a "'kingdom of heaven on earth' -- not coincidentally, a phrase invoked by Bolsheviks, progressives, fascists, and every other variety of utopian collectivist. This effort to lasso the hereafter and pull it down to the here-and-now was dubbed by Voegelin 'immanentizing the eschaton'" (Goldberg).

Different demoninotions of leftism will have different secret formulas and incantations to create their utopia. For Marxists, "the secret lay in the intricacies of scientific socialism.' With just the right manipulation of material or historical forces we could -- ta-da! -- create a land where each lives according to his need....

"For the progressives, the trick was giving ourselves over to the social planners and gnostic 'ideologists of Christ'.... today, the secret is Barack Obama." Goldberg cites a creepy video "in which children testify about the dire state of the world." It then "cuts to a baby opening a copy of The Audacity of Hope, complete with a whispery spirit voice promising a 'secret.' The video concludes with one child after another announcing that the secret is -- Barack Obama."

As I mentioned above, the wave of Obama support rides on a deep structure of religious energy that is unrecognized by those most susceptible to it. In fact, as Goldberg says -- and as I have noted in the past -- "the craving to create a heaven on earth is the inevitable consequence of a godless society." Or, to paraphrase Pope Benedict, "the loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia."

The very definition of "totalitarianism" is the "existential rule of Gnostic activists": "Indeed, the story of totalitarianism is the story of men trying to replace the allegedly discredited old God with one of their own creation." So de-divinization always preceeds the "redivinization" of explicit left wing soulwashing. This is certainly how it worked for me in college. First you discredit religion, and then replace it with with a pseudo-religion that occupies the vacant spiritual territory. It took me years to undo this ironically named "higher education," which specifically forecloses the higher.

From this follows the worship of man -- not even Man as Such, the image and likeness of the Creator -- but usually a man. "Or, in Voegelin’s words, they 'build the corpus mysticum of the collectivity and bind the members to form the oneness of the body.” The result is that the productive individuals are forced to wait upon the narcissism and self-victimization of the progressive mob.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Liberal Academia and False Memory Syndrome

Back to the virtue of prudence. Pieper notes that it has two distinct aspects which essentially have to do with cognition vs. action; the former involves deliberation and objective perception of reality, and may take some time. But once a decision is arrived at, prudence dictates that the wise man slices like a f*cking hammer, as Paul would say. Or, to paraphrase Thomas, "In deliberation we may hesitate; but a considered act must be performed swiftly." It will not do to deliberate for a few seconds and then dither away without acting. (Image of Integral Man via Ace.)

Likewise, to be decisive and resolute in the absence of proper deliberation is no longer virtuous -- say, the way Obama was resolute in ramming through his misguided healthcare and "stimulus" bills. (One could hardly imagine a better example of imprudence than "you have to pass it in order to find out what's in it.")

In the absence of the prior apprehension of objective reality, we see how resoluteness merely devolves to stubbornness. A mule possesses that, but we don't call it a virtue. In short, in order to radiate Paul Anka-like integrity, one must first appreciate The. F*ucking. Way. It. Is! before making one's move and slicing like the proverbial hammer.

But then, Peiper notes that the perception of reality breaks down into three prior modes, which we will call memory, openness, and objectivity, especially in unexpected situations.

First, memory. Clearly, Pieper means more than mere mechanical "recollection." Everyone "remembers," but Pieper is referring to "true-to-being" memory, which means that it must be cleansed of self-interest, wish-fulfillment, mind parasites, ideology, and all of the other things that distort recollection of the real.

To cite one obvious example, for the past 40 years or so, the left has developed an academic-industrial complex (which we call the mullah-terror & nasty old leftist complex) that involves a systematic distortion and re-writing of the past -- which is why our anonymous troll always has a worthless link at his grubby fingertips that can crockument how, say, the barbaric Palestinians are really the righteous victims of the Israelis, or how America was the aggressor in the Cold War, or how Democrats haven't always been the party of racism.

The list is endless. I know, because I briefly fell under the spinfluence of this festering sump hole of debased anti-scholarship back in my addled daze as a leftist. In my case, my motivations weren't the least bit cynical, because I innocently assumed that I was dealing with virtuous and prudent men. Only now do I realize the extent of their moral -- and intellectual -- depravity.

Memory can have nothing to do with prudence unless it is actually capable of retaining and understanding "the past." The doctrine of deconstruction and the cynical practice of historical revisionism are explicitly founded on the idea that this is impossible, and that what we naively call "history" is just a narrative invented by People of Pallor, rooted in power for the purposes of oppression and control. It couldn't be more simplistic, because it all reduces to raceclassgendersexualorientation. It's their answer for everything.

Thus, for example, the readily available historical facts that document the genocidal intentions of Israel's Arab neighbors are dismissed as racist "orientalism" or some other such wackademic nonsense. This is pure projection, because leftist "scholarship" begins and ends with the manipulation of reality for the purpose of accruing political power. "Truth" doesn't even enter into the equation. If it does, it is merely as an accidental means, not the essential end, that guides thought at every step of the way.

For example, I have a relative by marriage who is a highly respected leftist historian. He wrote a well-received book on how there is nothing special about the Holocaust, except in the calculated manner that Israel has cynically used it in order to consolidate political power.

But one cannot imagine a leftist writing a book on how, say, the "Palestinians" were invented by genocidal Muslims for the very purpose of being a permanent dagger aimed at the heart of Israeil; or how sociopathic shakedown artists such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson cynically manipulate guilt-ridden white liberals in order to accumulate wealth and political power; or how lying demagogues such as Al Gore have done the same thing with environmental hysteria; or how woman-hating feminists manipulate statistics to make it appear as if (biological) females are a repressed and persecuted group.

But "the virtue of prudence lies in this: that the objective cognition of reality shall determine action; that the truth of real things shall become determinative."

Again, the left is almost excluded from objective cognition due to the pervasiveness of political correctness, which makes certain perceptions impermissible and drains language of meaning as soon as a word accumulates unwanted content. For example, once "liberal" became too tainted with noxious associations, they changed it to "progressive"; once "global warming" no longer worked, it became "climate change"; once racism faded into the background, it became "code words" and "institutional racism"; once racial quotas were recognized for the evil they are, they invented "affirmative action" and now "diveristy."

The list goes on and on, but in each case there is a systematic attempt to place a barrier between language (and therefore thought) and reality. Thus, the falsification of recollection renders thought dysfunctional and action imprudent, for "memory is the spiritual proto-reality from which thought and volition take their origin.... There is no more insidious way for error to establish itself than by this falsification of the memory through silent retouches, displacements, discolorations, omissions, shifts of accent" (and bear in mind that Pieper wrote these words before the left had taken over academia and institutionalized their assault on the possibility of history as a real container of truth).

And Pieper mainly addresses the falsification of horizontal truth. He doesn't even get into the left's actual denial and obliteration of vertical recollection, which is even more catastrophic (both intellectually and spiritually).

To cite one particularly obvious example, the very book we are now discussing -- The Four Cardinal Virtues -- is nothing less than an exercise in vertical recollection (or verticalisthenics), whereby we are re-collecting the distillation of some 2500 years of accumulated collective wisdom embodied in western civilization. But if you attend an elite university, you are more likely to learn about Indian sweat lodges, aboriginal dream time, or transexual wiccans than you are about the cardinal virtues.

Please note that true recollection is irreducibly infused with virtue, for Truth is the virtue of Intellect (just as, morality is the virtue of action, or beauty the virtue of art). Thus, "the honesty of the memory can be ensured only by a rectitude of the whole human being which purifies the most hidden roots of volition." It is no coincidence that the great universities were founded by religious orders, and that even America's most debased elite universities were once associated with particular religious denominations, for it is strictly insane to try to sunder the vital relationship between God and Truth. Eliminate one and you destroy the other; first comes anti-scholarship, then Anti-Civilization.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

One Stalled Step for Man, One Giant Sleep for Moonkind

Well, I really don't have time for a new post, so I'm reposting this one, to which my site meter alerted me. I have a reader -- I have no idea who he is -- who seems to find occasion to link to one of my posts nearly every day in the comments at Free Republic. I get the sense that he actually has a better handle on what's in the arkive than I do, because he seems to have an appropriate post at his fingertips for every occasion. Whoever he is, he seems able to quote chapter and verse from the vast and unruly libertoreum.

Anyway, that's one of the ways I learn what's in the arkive, for example, this old post which I will proceed to edit and polish up.

There's a reason why hardcore leftists -- and as always, I mean, the True Believers, not just the typical confused, misinformed, or dim Democrat -- are such assouls, since political inclination has more to do with temperament than people might realize.

For example, being that the B'ob is temperamentally such a sanguine, lighthearted, gay sort of man, he could never find his soul's rest in leftism, which is predicated on so much anger, envy, bitterness, paranoia, leaden seriousness, deep unhappiness, and general "sourness." For the leftist, life sucks, and only a huge and intrusive state can turn things around and make it really blow.

That being the headcase, one wonders how Barry Obama, the young stoner with the seemingly laid back, live-and-let-live island temperament, could be a member of an angry and paranoid church that preaches racial supremacy, America hatred, anti-Semitism, and other vile doctrines that can only find fertile soil in a soul that is already enraged and looking for a place to organize, focus, and project the rage? In other words, this kind of church doesn't make you nuts. You have to be a nut in order for it to appeal to you in the first place. What normal person would even enter such a debased place, let alone stay there for two decades?

First of all, Obama has been candid in acknowledging his struggle with identity, at least according to his autobiographer, Bill Ayers. Now, most moonstream commentators -- since they are virtually all materialists -- have reduced this to a superficial materialistic analysis, i.e., that he is "bi-racial" (as if there can even be such a thing outside the race-obsessed leftist's mind), so that he was essentially left without a tribe. And in primitive tribal culture, a man without a tribe is an existentially dead man. A leftist without his tribe is like a bee without his hive, or an ant without his hill, or a rapper without his posse.

Again, this all follows from the leftist's cosmological inversion, in which existence precedes essence, rather than vice versa. In other words, on any properly spiritual view, one is born with a spiritual essence that is anterior to existence, as it is created by God, not a contingent result of accidental cultural and historical forces, such as raceclassgendersexualorientation.

Therefore, the idea that any leftist candidate could ever be "post-racial" is not even a lie, it's an absurdity. It would be like a sheep running for shepherd on the grounds that he will be a post-flock candidate. He can bleat about this all day long, but it is in the nature of sheep to identify and be merged with the flock.

Likewise, the Democrat party is a coalition of groups, not individuals, a Big Chief Crazy Quilt of flocking birdbrains, journalistic hack animals, buffaloed herds, moveable riots, giant snit-ins, snivel rights agitators, and demonstrations of affect, schools of economic fish stories, CAIRing allahgators, herds of poor listeners, ovary tower spinsters, whordes of sex-workers, feline prides of lyin' shemales, old kennels of K - 9 educators who can't learn new tricks, pods of peaheaded publications, plagues of lawyering locusts, boring nests of teeming tenuremites, lowly trolls with holes in their souls, knob-gobbling gaggles of gamboling NAMBLArs, and a boring Goredom spanning the gamut from lying weathermen to those who don't know whether they're men.

So Obama, in order to be a viable Democrat, had to tap into one of the prominent streams of anger, envy, bitterness, and divisiveness that define and animate the left. Oddly, his whole appeal was based on the misperception that he was beyond this sort of destructive divisiveness, but this is about as realistic as an Arab leader claiming to be "beyond the differences between Muslim and Jew," without which they could not be an Arab leader. For what does the Arab political world have to recommend itself except for an officially sanctioned target for their overflowing rage, envy, sexual insecurity, and low self-esteem? In other words, all the Arab leader has to offer his people is death to Israel.

Similarly, what does the Democrat leader have to offer his various tribes except for Bush, or Cheney, or Rove, or Halliburton, or the Wealthy, or scary Christians, or Creationists, or Racists Teabaggers, or misogynists, or "homophobes," or We're all gonna die from climate change? What's left of the Left if you remove these fantasied containers of projected rage and fear? Only the free-floating rage and fear.

Now, America was founded as a -- as the -- Culture of Liberty. But as it so happens, there is no liberty without individuals, and no individual without liberty. (By the way, this is one of the areas where I strongly disagree with the "integral movement," which talks about a "higher we," which is actually just Marxism in disguise, and why they are almost always on the left; there's already a "higher we," i.e., the Body of Christ, understood in its Cosmic dimension -- in other words, the cosmic Body of Christ is the proper "we" with which the individual "I" may be reconciled, bearing in mind that this Christ is merely focussed in the lens of Christianity, but permeates the spiritual dimension in a nonlocal manner, "blowing where it will," including in those "other sheep who are not of this fold.")

And this is indeed bears upon the broad purpose of the spiritual life -- or let us just say Life: to become what you already are. Life's purpose can never be to become what the group wishes for you to be, for this is slavery, not liberty. Classical liberalism enshrines a sort of liberty that implicitly promotes the use of it for higher ends, since it is a "gift" given for that very purpose. Its alternative -- leftism in all its guises -- enshrines the idea that your liberty is a privilege granted by the state, subject to revocation if you do not use it to promote slavery, whether intellectual, political, spiritual, sexual, or economic, for liberty is One.

As Michael Heller argues in Creative Tension, postmodernism has succeeded in displacing man from the "privileged margin" to an "average center" of the cosmos. In other words, flatland materialism actually effaces the spiritual individual and replaces him with the selfish atom, as it were, so that Man's true existential needs -- which are intrinsically spiritual -- can never be engaged in any meaningful way.

So the ascension of Obama was one stalled step for man, but one giant sleep for moonkind.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Carbon Based vs. the Reality Based Community

The following passage on prudence -- or wisdom -- really says it all: "The pre-eminence of prudence means that realization of the good presupposes knowledge of reality. He alone can do good who knows what things are like and what their situation is. The pre-eminence of prudence means that so-called 'good intention' and 'meaning well' by no means suffice" (emphasis mine).

Now, I would add that the most important reality one must know in order to accomplish the good is human reality, which automatically implies the divine reality with which we are always in a dialectical relationship.

To put it another way, if one does not know what a human being is -- which naturally includes what a human being is for -- then one's actions on behalf of human beings (either oneself or others, it doesn't matter) will be misguided, ill-considered, and generally grounded in wish or fantasy rather than objectivity, which is to say "the nature of things," or truth.

Think of it this way: in the absence of truth, there is no possibility of good. There are no doubt exceptions to this rule on the micro scale, but on the macro scale of politics, failure to be in conformity with human truth paves the way for the greatest of evils.

For example, every leftist scheme from socialism to fascism to communism begins with an erroneous conception of what a human being is, and then simply draws out the political implications.

Thus, if your anthropology is off, then your political philosophy will run aground -- unless you actually succeed in the monstrous project of making human beings other than what they are, say, a fundamentally material rather than intrinsically spiritual being. As is plain for all to see, this is something the left never stops trying to do. In order for them to succeed, they must literally obliterate Man as he is and was meant to be. Rather, Man must become what the leftist wishes him to be, which is to say, a cog in their statist/collectivist machine.

What is even more sinister is that the half-educated rank-and-foul leftist generally doesn't even know he is doing this, as one cannot know what one doesn't know: for the leftist, the great vertical realm of spirit is the dark void of the "unknown unknown," hence their arrogant confidence in dismissing it (no different from, say, 19th century doctors who dismissed the germ theory on the grounds that they themselves could not possibly be carriers of such "unclean" entities).

Secular humanists follow in the wake of the late medieval nominalists who convinced themselves that the principial realm of transcendental truth was words only, and that only concrete material things were ultimately real. This ousted them from the transcendent and created the split that continues to this day between realists and materialists. (See Richard Weaver's Ideas Have Consequences for the details.)

In turn, this split is very much at the basis of mundane politics, as conservatism may be defined as that philosophy which sees the world as the instantiation of "permanent things," or archetypal ideas that are not subject to change. We do not judge or measure them, because they judge and take the measure of us. We are either evolving toward, or away, from what we are in our deepest nature.

But because the left has exiled itself from human reality, it can never understand the simple truth that the world is disordered because souls are. And then in its ontic backasswardness, it tries to order souls by changing the world, and is always surprised when disordered souls re-exert themselves and spoil their beautiful plans. As someone -- I believe Eliot -- said, they are always dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good, which is to say, a rightly ordered soul (since souls don't exist for them anyway).

Another critical point: "the good must be loved and made reality" (emphasis mine). In a forthcoming series of posts, I will get into a list I have compiled of what I call the "Top Ten Intrinsic Intellectual Heresies," that is, forms of pseudo-thought that poison the mind at its very root. The doctrine of absolute relativism is perhaps the most obvious one, as it denies the sufficient reason for the existence of mind, which is to say, truth. And freedom is a consequence of truth, so that those who reject truth can never be "free" in any meaningful sense.

But it is not enough that one acknowledge the existence of truth. For in order for truth to be efficacious, it must be loved.

Now, for any human being who is not fundamentally disordered, this statement is self-evident and requires no explanation, for it is both obvious and an everyday phenomenon. Human beings are intrinsically epistemophilic, which means that we simply love to know for its own sake. Indeed, the higher the knowledge, the less pragmatic, until we attain the most useless -- and therefore precious -- knowledge of all.

This is why it is axiomatic that one may be superficially right while being deeply wrong anytime one obliterates the vertical hierarchy that places knowledge in its proper plane, and takes the lower plane for the whole of reality; or, in the words of James Schall, when reason "closes itself off from what is beyond reason." This is not a problem the religious person -- or at least the Christian -- should ever face, as we should love all truth, regardless of the plane. But (vertical) context is everything.

To put it another way, the knowledge of the secular humanist is always merely pragmatic, which means that the gift of the human intellect is bent toward some manmade material end. Naturally this has its place, but if the intellect gives itself over entirely to this lower mode, it literally enters a parallel looniverse split off from the primary one, in a kind of closed and endless loop. Such a person will search for the good where it can never be found, and will never have a sense of peace. This is the Existential Itch that can never be scratched, and which guarantees a lifetime of restless searching for I-know-not-what-because-I-killed-it.

When we harbor a "wrong end," then that end teleologically organizes everything below it. In so doing, we replace the divine attractor with a manmade fantasy, so that we are pulled deeper and deeper into the phase space of fantasy, until it eventually appears not only real but self-evident (cf. the militant atheists).

To paraphrase Aristotle, when we choose what is good, we are the best of animals, and when we choose unwisely, we are the worst. In the ultimate extreme, the human descends from being reality-based to merely carbon-based, i.e., just a statistically rare organization of molecules instead of a molecular instantiation of spirit, or weird made flesh.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Dear Prudence, Won't You Change Your Name?

Prudence is such a lousy name for the Virtue of virtues -- the one that makes all the others possible -- it's no wonder that no one talks about it anymore. For one thing, it's too close to "prudish." And if we can judge by social security statistics on the most popular baby names, Prudence doesn't even make the top 1,000.

In contrast, Sophia -- which amounts to the same thing as prudence -- comes in at #4. And since it split the vote with Sofia, who knows, it might actually be the Cardinal Name for girls.

Pieper deals with this linguistic obstacle at the outset, noting that the word has become too saturated and associated with such qualities as timorousness or small-mindedness.

To which I would add cautiousness, risk-averse, unadventurous, tentative, and possibly even "pragmatic" in that calculating and sociopathic Clintonian way. In other words, the connotations can range from vaguely neutral to pejorative. Not only that, but "imprudence" can be associated with, say, "courageous sacrifice," which further muddies the waters.

A much better word would be wisdom, in-sight, or better yet, sapientia, since the latter has a nice mystical ring to it. Furthermore, it resonates with what a human being fundamentally is, which is to say, Homo sapiens sapiens.

Nevertheless, for the purposes of this post, we'll stick with prudence, which Pieper calls "the mold and 'mother' of the other cardinal virtues, of justice, fortitude, and temperence. In other words, none but the prudent man can be just, brave, and temperate, and the good man is good insofar as he is prudent.... All virtue is necessarily prudent."

Again, as mentioned in a comment or three yesterday, we must imagine a vertical hierarchy, with prudence located at the top. This is one more reason why Darwinism or any other form of materialism is so incoherent, because one simply cannot get from matter to wisdom, and it's morbidly imprudent to think otherwise.

Rather, the world itself is an emanation -- or involution -- of the Principle, which is why reality is continuous from the top down, but discontinuous from the bottom up. Only by starting at the top does the cosmos make sense in its integral totality, which is to say, high and low, interior and exterior.

Therefore, Pieper is absolutely correct in saying that prudence "is the [vertical] cause of the other virtues' being virtues at all."

Here it might be useful to remember the wisdom books of the Bible -- which again, with a less skilled marketing department, might have been called the "prudence books" -- for example, in Proverbs, which repeatedly praises the centrality of wisdom, which is at the origin of all things.

Furthermore, there are obvious parallels between wisdom and the Word, which is both alpha and omega. To say that "no one comes to the Father but through me," is another way of saying that no one comes to the Principle save through the eternal wisdom that is its first fruit. Why, the two -- Reality and Wisdom -- are related as intimately as Father and Son.

Now prudence means on the one hand "the perfected ability to make right decisions" and choices. But what is this ability founded upon?

This, I think, is the key point: that we can only make right decisions if we are 1) open to reality, 2) in conformity to reality, and 3) act in a manner consistent with that conformity. Thus, for St. Thomas, truth is "nothing other than the unveiling and revelation of reality, of both of natural [i.e., horizontal] and supernatural [vertical] reality."

In short, "the pre-eminence of prudence means that realization of the good presupposes knowledge of reality" -- which explains why there is so little wisdom on the left, since they attack the very notion of objective truth, and substitute for it such retrograde idols as multiculturalism, "diversity," and moral relativism.

To employ the symbols used in the Coonifesto, we see that one of the prerequisites of prudence is (o), or "the receptiveness of the human spirit," the latter of which must be in-formed by the Real.

In other words, we must be humbly instructed by reality, or we will surely sooner or later be righteously bitch-slapped by her. As well we should. Mama don't play.

Furthermore, (---) comes into use as well, for as Pieper notes, prudent cognition "includes above all the ability to be still in order to attain objective perception of reality."

Elsewhere he writes of cultivating "the attitude of 'silent' contemplation of reality: this is the key prerequisite for the perfection of prudence as cognition," since it is what makes (↓) possible, the "ingression of grace," or vertical reality.

You know, Be still and know that I AM.

Well, that's all we have time for today. Much more to come.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Honoring Those Who Have Fallen in Defense of the Good

Memorial Day is an occasion... sacred to the memory of all those Americans who made the supreme sacrifice for the liberties we enjoy. We will never forget or fail to honor these heroes to whom we owe so much. We honor them best when we resolve to cherish and defend the liberties for which they gave their lives... --Ronald Reagan, May 1986

For obvious reasons, I think we'll jump ahead today and discuss the third of The Four Cardinal Virtues, fortitude. While on the one hand they form a vertical hierarchy (prudence --> justice --> fortitude --> temperance), they can also be seen as organically interlinked in a horizontal manner, so that, for example, prudence presupposes conformity to objective reality, justice its implementation, and fortitude its defense. Thus, for all practical purposes, the more transcendent virtue of prudence cannot survive in this fallen world without the real flesh-and-blood human beings who apprehend it and are willing to defend it.

The vertical hierarchy should make it perfectly clear that there is no fortitude in the absence of justice, and no justice in the absence of prudence. When the postliterate liberal barbarian Bill Maher talked about the "courage" of the 9-11 hijackers, he unwittingly revealed everything that is pathological in our relativistic secular educational establishment, for if courage can be deployed for ends that are intrinsically unjust and imprudent, then it can hardly be a virtue. One's only response to such "courage" could be "so what? Who needs it?"

Speaking of which, I recently saw an unbelievable (but typical) clip of a leftist student confronting David Horowitz at a university lecture, in which she compares Israel's enemies to America's founding fathers. (Here's another clip in which an Islamist student endorses extermination of the Jews; or how about here, in which the Times attacks Ayaan Hirsi Ali -- someone with real fortitude -- for antagonizing the evildoers who wish to murder her!)

But this is typical of the kind of sick brainwashing to which children are subjected in American universities. As Dennis Prager has said, they should not even be called "universities" but "leftist seminaries," where young adults go in order to learn to be leaders and defenders of that particular faith.

Consider the left's perennial confession of moral blindness, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" -- as if, for starters, the Islamists are fighting for truth and liberty instead of lies and tyranny! As St. Thomas made clear, The praise of fortitude is dependent upon justice. For how could it not be? You couldn't have a "Memorial Day" in the Soviet Union or theocratic Iran unless its purpose were to remember and pay homage to all of the evil and misery they have perpetrated around the world.

Islamists, North Koreans, Chinese, Gazans, Taliban -- they can be rash, or violent, or vainglorious, or thrill seeking, or swaggering, or power mad, or just plain deluded, but they cannot possess the virtue of fortitude (much less prudence) so long as they risk their lives for causes that are transparently unjust, again, unless we live in a flatland world in which transcendent values are reduced to mere behavior. Only in such an impoverished world can the "courage" of the Nazi or Islamist be equated with that of the American soldier.

But ideas have consequences, especially atheistic ideas that reduce conflicts to the mere enactment of violence, irrespective of what the violence is realizing or defending. Only in such a perverse world could a moral retard such as Obama see no distinction between nuclear missiles in the possession of Israel or Iran, and thus argue for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. Hey, why not a gun-free zone in South Central Los Angeles? There's so much violence there, why not just have the police and the gangs turn in their weapons?

Pieper begins his analysis of fortitude at the very beginning, with human vulnerability. Obviously, if we were invulnerable, with no possibility of injury, there would be no possibility of fortitude. To be brave means facing the possibility of injury, including the ultimate injury which is death. Thus, "all fortitude has reference to death. All fortitude stands in the presence of death. Fortitude is basically readiness to die or, more accurately, readiness to fall, to die, in battle" (Pieper).

But again, not for its own sake. Rather, "the brave man suffers injury... as a means to preserve or acquire a deeper, more essential" good. Thus, in order to achieve the virtue of fortitude, "the brave man must first know what the good is, and he must be brave for the sake of the good." Fortitude always "points to something prior," to such an extent that "fortitude must not trust itself," because "without prudence, without justice, there is no fortitude."

One might say that prudence is the "inner form" of fortitude, that which literally "in-forms" it. Fortitude itself cannot realize the good, but it "protects this realization [of the good] or clears the road for it."

Again, "without the just cause, there is no fortitude." Note how for the true leftist (by which I mean the true believer, not the typical confused or misinformed "liberal" Democrat who doesn't even realize that the values of the left are antithetical to his own), fortitude is nearly impossible, since the doctrine of multiculturalism means that no culture is better -- which is to say, more prudent and just -- than another, and they specifically reject the vertical reality that makes real fortitude possible. Therefore, there is no moral distinction between the American soldier and Michael Moore's Iraqi "freedom fighters." Indeed, for a John Kerry, or Noam Chomsky, or Howard Zinn, or Dick Durbin, we are the terrorists. Which we must be in a left wing world without the transcencent virtues of prudence or justice, more on which later in the week.

Our goal is peace in which the highest aspirations of our people, and people everywhere, are secure: peace with freedom, with justice, and with opportunity for human development.... The surest guarantor of both peace and liberty is our unflinching resolve to defend that which has been purchased for us by our fallen heroes. --Ronald Reagan

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Another Blinkered Horse Hockey Post

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cardiomyopia and Cosmic Nearsightedness

I was just reading yesterday in Pieper's The Four Cardinal Virtues -- about which we will be blah-blah-blogging next week -- of how odd it is that for humans, and humans alone, there is such pleasure associated with the senses. The pleasure of taste is perhaps not difficult to understand, as most animals seem to enjoy eating (although they certainly don't linger over it), and my dogs obviously get a kick out of going on a walk and sniffing the latest pee-mail left by their fellows.

But what about the intense pleasures of sound and sight? The lion is no doubt "attracted" to the form of the gazelle, but no one imagines that the pleasure is in any way aesthetic. However, for human beings, sound and vision provide our primary access to the realm of beauty. And there is such a gulf between this quintessentially human concern with beauty, -- which is so distant from the vital needs of the body -- vs. the practical uses to which animals put their eyes and ears, that it makes any Darwinian explanation risible.

Here's how Pieper describes it: "In the case of animals... no pleasure is derived from the activity of the other senses, such as the eye and ear, except as they affect the satisfaction of the drives of hunger and sex; only because of the promise of food is the lion 'happy' when he spies a stag or hears his call."

However, "one frequently reads and hears that in intemperance man sinks to the level of the beast," but this makes no sense, since a beast cannot be intemperate.

Only a human being can sink beneath himself (or his archetype, his reason for being), so that intemperance takes on not just moral connotations, but more importantly, psycho-spiritual/developmental ones. Intemperance is self-destructive because it relates all of man's higher possibilities to immediate sensual gratification, thus foreclosing any access to more subtle senses and sentiments (which of course correspond to and disclose more subtle realities), and ultimately his reason for being.

As we have mentioned in the past, one of the marks of spiritual development is a "subtle-ization" and refinement of senses and emotions. One thinks of our trolls, whose coarseness of affect and intellect always precedes them and infuses their every utterance.

Just as the higher realities may be known by their "spiritual perfume," the lower ones may be detected by that unmistakably acrid scent of miasmal swamp gas given off by the unwashed troll. Thus the truism that "only those who look at the world with pure eyes can experience its beauty" (Pieper).

Consistent with what we were saying yesterday about the relationship between time and music, Schuon writes that hearing "reflects intellection not in its static and simultaneous, but in its dynamic and successive mode..." As such, it "plays what could be termed a 'lunar' role in relation to sight; and that is why it is linked, not to space, but to time, the audible being situated in duration." Note also that "in a certain sense, the sun makes known space and the moon, time."

Now, that is an interesting observation because it implies that the ears are more "feminine," while the eyes are more "masculine" (bearing in mind that the one is always present in the other).

Clearly, men are more visual beings -- think of their fixation on the female form, for example, -- whereas women tend to be more auditory, hence the well-known ability of even gargoylish men to attract women with an appealing line of bullshit. For this reason, men are most often deceived by the beautiful form, while women are most often deceived by the seductive BS.

Note also that "female porn," such as harlequin romances, is primarily verbal, not visual. Also, single women (and feminized men) overwhelmingly vote Democrat, another instance of the tendency of our less evolved sisters to fall for the superficially appealing but vacuous rhetoric of seducers such as a Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, or John Edwards. Truly, leftism is "political porn," just as materialism is a kind of crude "cognitive porn" (and just as porn represents the domain of sexuality wholly exteriorized and materialized).

So sight can indeed become quite cramped and body-bound if it remains entirely invested in sensual pleasure. But in potential, it is the least "self interested" of the senses, for as Schuon writes, "Sight alone communicates to us the existence of immeasurably remote heavenly bodies that are perfectly foreign to our vital interests, and it could therefore be said that it alone is essentially 'objective.'"

And since objectivity is in many ways synonymous with truth, it makes perfect sense "to compare light to knowledge and darkness to ignorance" (Schuon), a metaphor that is present in virtually all traditions.

Furthermore, "the eye becomes the metaphysical center of the world, of which it is the same time the sun and the heart" (Schuon). Just as Eye and Light are complementary, so too Knowledge and Reality, which is why the sage is "illuminated by wisdom."

But the latter is again radiant "heart knowledge," like, say, the icon at the right. This "heart of Christ" is therefore the center of the individual and of the entire creation. Thus, it is "the Eye that sees God -- and that consequently 'is' God -- and by which God sees man" (Schuon). To see God with this heart is equally to be seen, but with an inward sight.

I'll leave you with a provocative quote by Schuon: "The two eyes represent a bipolar projection of the brain into a [horizontal] domain of lesser possibility; the brain is thus the intermediary between the analytical vision of the eyes and the synthetic vision of the heart."

And "if the heart and the brain be represented as two extremities of a vertical element, and the eyes as the extremities of a horizontal element," "we obtain the form of a T," which "symbolizes the relationship between two dualities" -- vertical/horizontal, analysis/synthesis, celestial/terrestrial, form/substance, etc. It's as if we are crucified to the senses, and only by losing the life of the lower do we gain the life of the higher -- and thereby transfigure the lower.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sights and Sounds in the Upper Atmasphere

How are we to conceive and perceive the great vertical realms that transcend the senses? In fact, that very sentence betrays a contradiction, since conceiving and perceiving are two very different modes. Do we merely conceive these realms? Or do we actually perceive them? And with what senses, exactly?

When we turn the world upside down -- which is to say, right side up -- we understand that our five empirical senses have their source above, not below. Not only does this make sense -- and make sense possible -- but it immediately resolves a host of mysteries that will forever evade any Darwinian, materialistic explanation. "Seeing," "hearing," "touching," etc. -- each of these has its analogue in the higher worlds, without which, the lower corporeal mode could not exist.

As Schuon explains, "the eye, owing to its particularly adequate correspondence with the Intellect, lends itself spontaneously to traditional symbolism, and is to be found... in the symbolic language of all Revelations." For example, you've no doubt seen this symbol on the back of our legal tender, minus the descending Arrow of Toots (the founders didn't want to give the whole game away).

Why is the eye -- or vision -- so central to spiritual gnosis? Well, think of it: unlike, say, hearing, which is unavoidably in time, vision takes in an entire landscape in an instant, so it is closer to the timelessness of the principial realm.

Now, all of the senses are in the end more or less refined forms of touch. Sight, for example involves touching photons, while hearing involves touching air molecules. But if we could rank the senses by their level of subtlety, they would clearly descend from sight (light), to sound (upper atmosphere), to smell (lower atmosphere), to taste (upper terrestrial), and lastly, to touch (lower terrestrial).

And yet, it's not so simple and straightforward as that, in that, say, the delicate pianistic touch of a Bill Evans reveals that he had "ears in his fingers," so to speak, while a gifted photographer like Robin can touch the subject -- which is to say, the cosmic interior -- with his lens. Thus, through the law of inverse analogy, all senses are principially vision but manifestly touch.

It is also critical to bear in mind that the senses are always knowledge as well. In the metaphysics of Vedanta, for example, the senses are a descent from Buddhi, or the higher intellect. If I remember correctly, the cosmic descent -- the downward arrow into the whole existentialada -- goes something like this (and I'll skip a few stages): Brahman (the apophatic God without attributes, i.e., Godhead) --> Ishvara (God with attributes, the Creator) --> Prakriti (which is maya on the one hand, but the infinitely creative power of Brahman on the other) --> Mahat (cosmic intelligence) --> Buddhi (intellect) --> Ahamkara (individual egoic I-consciousness) --> five senses.

But again, as Schoun explains, "the correspondence between sight and Intellect" is "due to the static and total character of the former." As such, it also corresponds to space rather, than time, and of the two -- time and space -- the latter would be closer to the Principle, since time is, in a way, the serial presentation of space.

Vision also tends to be less "self interested" and more objective and detached than the other senses. Think, for example, of taste, which takes in what it likes and spits out what it doesn't. You can't really do that with vision. Rather, reality comes into the eyes, warts and all. You can't take in the beautiful landscape and spit out the ugly billboard or powerline.

But in its own way, hearing is as exalted as vision, for it is to time what vision is to space. For those of you who have a dog-eared copy of the The Coonifesto, you know that I carry a soft spot for the ears (see pp. 44-46).

It seems to me that on our side of manifestation, the ears rather than the eyes are the quintessential sense, for to properly "hear" time is to trace it back to its vertical source. "A true image of time must be an image for the ear, an audible image, an image made of tones.... Thanks to music, we are able to behold time" (Zuckerkandl).

What I really mean to say is that for anyone on the "descending path" of the Raccoon, through which we do not wish to escape the manifestation but to spiritualize it, music -- and ears -- takes on that much more significance. You might say that for the Raccoon, our ears are our eyes in the herebelow, so that we may not always see the signs of the times, but we can certainly hear the melody of the timeless.

Think of the principial basis of Christianity, which begins with Word, a word that must be heard. Hence, "you who have ears, listen. Be attentive!" (that means you Rick). "Eyes made new," indeed.

Gosh! Out of time. To be continued...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On the Subject of Objects

Another quick and dirty post. Pressed for time this morning....

Continuing with our discussion of the bifurcation of reality into subject and object, the reason why the subject may know -- and the object may be known -- is that they descend from a Oneness that is anterior to them. If this were not the case, then there would be no possibility of real knowledge, or truth, or cosmic intercourse.

A critical point is that we begin with the idea that the world is true because created, and that it in-forms the subject for the very reason that it is an ex-form of the Cosmic Subject who bears the objects within. This is very much in contrast to Eastern religions that regard the world as maya, or something from which we must escape (which in itself is a misunderstanding of the maya principle, since maya is real and even necessary on its own plane, just not the "ultimate Real").

Nevertheless, the human subject is not nothing -- as if its only function is to be a mirror of the object world. Rather, as Schuon points out, "it bears the element object within itself, in the sense that pure subjectivity potentially contains the metaphysical essence of the knowable."

This is reminiscent of the idea that God is not in the cosmos, but vice versa. Being that we are mirrorcles of the Absolute, we can equally say that we are not in the cosmos, but vice versa, hence, the possibility of the actualization of real knowledge. In other words, the soul is not in the cosmos, but vice versa.

Furthermore, no object is merely an object, or it couldn't properly exist (for it would be like an outside with no inside). Rather, every object -- if it is an object -- has the potential to be known by a subject. In other words, to say that there could be objects that cannot be known is an absurdity. An object is by definition "on the way to" knowledge, like an arrow shot toward the subject who "completes" it in slackful contemplation.

Now, subjectivity comes to us in two modes, one unconscious, the other conscious, which is to say Life and Mind, respectively. Life itself tends toward conscious mind, while the conscious mind obviously has deep roots in unconscious life. One can draw no fundamental line between life and mind, at least for embodied humans (angelic beings are another matter).

This is another dialectic, or complementarity, that prevents consciousness from coagulating into the dead letter of rationalism. Rather, consciousness is always nourished by waters from above and below, which is why man is "condemned to transcendence." Thank God reality is what it is, on the one hand, but always more, on the other!

Schuon points out that the word "objectivity" has moral connotations, which is entirely appropriate, since it is really another way of saying "truth." To know truth we must be objective, impartial, and dispassionate, and overcome petty self-interest.

But at the same time, "subjectivity" has wrongly taken on negative connotations, as if it is a "defect" -- you know, "pay no attention to Bob's ranting, it's all subjective nonsense."

It is obviously possible for subjectivity to become imbalanced and disproportionate, but Schuon says that this ought to be called "subjectivism," just as the scientistic rationalist who pretends that reality can be stripped of the human subject ought to be called an "objectivist" (he wasn't referring to Randians).

Schuon says that ideally, "objectivity" ought to imply "conformity with the nature of things," which comes very close to the cardinal virtue of prudence, pieperly understood (more on which later). And "subjectivity" ought to convey on the one hand the idea that "the kingdom of God is within you," but also that in encountering the object world, we ought to do so with a view to interiorization and a return to our Self.

In other words, the object world is not like a flat, two-dimensional surface; rather, it has a degree of metaphysical transparency that can only be known by a human subject. It radiates not just truth, but beauty and other spiritual essences, from Subject to subject, or O --> (¶).

I am reminded of a commenter at American Digest -- I think that's where it was -- who asked why all of those Hubble photos of stars, planets, and galaxies are are so beautiful. I mean, that's the first thing you notice, isn't it? It's such a strange property to be present in a cosmos, and yet, almost a mundane observation. "Another beautiful galaxy. Whatever."

The Beauty of Woman is quite easy for the Darwinian to explain, since he can assure us that the attraction is just an illusion created by our genes in order to compel us to drag her into the nearest bush and dispatch our genes into the next generation. But this is to put the immanent ass before the transcendent horse, as if the horse's ass is the first and last word of this marvelous cosmos. Which is of course the quintessence of a backassward metaphysic.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Family Reunification in the Marriage of Heaven and Earth

Only time for an abbreviated post....

Unity bifurcates into subject and object, without which there can be strictly nothing and no one to know it. But both subject and object reflect the primordial Unity from which they arise.

As Schuon explains, "under the influence of the principle of Unity, the subject isolates itself and becomes a manifestation of the unique Self, thus of the Divine Subject, which obviously has no partner."

I would interpret this to mean that the human subject is an interior fractal , so to speak, of the Divine Subject, hence our unity, totality, and absoluteness, looked at from one angle. For this reason, each human being is radically complete and infinitely precious, so that, say, to murder one innocent human being is to murder all mankind. In other words, each stands for the Whole.

At the same time, the object pole of the primordial bifurcation exhibits a radical unity as well, without which science would not be possible. The scientist has a (well placed) faith in a cosmos that is not just lawful, but whose laws are consistent and applicable to all time and space -- in short, that the cosmos is radically One, just as is the subject who may know this unity.

Thus, real knowledge is a kind of divine re-union of subject and object; or, knowledge is the legitimate child of their fruitful union. Let's not talk about all those illegitimate and bastardized forms of knowledge.

As Schuon describes it, the object pole of the primordial bifurcation "becomes a participative reflection of Divine Being," thus a reflection of the "objective aseity of the real."

This is an area about which modern science is quite confused and contradictory, but the main point is that reality really does exist and that man may really know it. But to affirm this reality is to transcend any possible scientific explanation of how this miracle actually takes place -- the miracle of the Real object revealing its secret truth to an equally Real subject.

Schuon also explains that there would be no possibility of real contact between these two realms if it weren't for the fact that each "contains" a trace or echo of the other, like the famous yin-yang symbol. In fact, here's one that depicts the single eye with which we see God and vice versa:

Now, even if the Subject is without scientific knowledge, it nevertheless contains all it needs to know, at least in potential -- again, because it is a reflection of the Absolute Real. And this in turn is why scientific knowledge comes and goes and is subject to constant change and revision, while we're still talking about permanent truths arrived at by human subjects, especially in the axial age in which the Jewish prophets, the Upanishadic sages, Buddha, La- Tsu, Socrates, Plato, Zoroaster, and other pre-eminent religious thinkers suddenly appear on the world stage.

"Axial" is indeed an excellent metaphor, for it is as if each of these thinkers discovered the vertical axis of the cosmos, but from slightly different vertices. But again, it's a case of the reunification of knower and known, just as in profane science, except as applied to the vertical instead of horizontal worlds.

Also, please note the different "directions" of the knowledge, in that vertical knowledge leads from the center to the periphery, from principle to manifestation, whereas with science it is the opposite movement, from phenomena back to principles, or to Unity (I believe it was Huxley who said that science is the reduction of multiplicity to unity).

You might say that religion begins where science must inevitably end, except that the scientist again starts -- and must start -- his investigation with traces of that very end, e.g., a unified human subject who may potentially know all there is to know about a cosmos that is truly One. Problems only occur when this lil' subject is detached from the Divine Subject that is its source, which then leads to Cosmic Narcissism and the Bloated Ego of the tenured.

I suppose it's easy to fall into this trap, since, as Schuon writes, "pure subjectivity potentially contains the metaphysical essence of the knowable." For a spiritually normal person this is an occasion for deep humility and awe before the Divine Mind, but something goes awry in the wiring of the clueless radical secularist who blithely takes all of this fantastic knowledge for granted -- as if it requires no metaphysical explanation.

As we can see, it's really an irreducibly trinitarian process of knower-known-knowledge, or, more fundamentally, subject-object-link. The passionate link between subject and object (or subject and subject) may be knowledge (K), but it may also be love (L) or hate (H).

When the link between subject and object is hate (H), this is the formula for psychosis in the individual and madness in the group, for it is an attack on reality and on the links that reveal it. The most common contemporary form of group madness is leftism, for it is beholden to a philosophy which a priori denies such vital categories as absolute truth, vertical hierarchy, the human subject as divine analogue, etc.

As such, the leftist cannot submit himself to reality (in all its degrees and modes) but instead must project a purely manmade version of it (which is no reality at all). In short, he must negate the divine reality and replace it with human fantasy, which his philosophy gives him no right to do anyway, since it denies transcendent truth. It is the dysfunctional philosophy of permanent divorce between Father and Mother, or Subject and Object, Purusha and Prakriti, Shiva and Shakti, Witness and Mayafestation, and can produce no healthy and viable children (cf. the dying, infertile EUnuchs). But the real harmonious cosmic yinfolk might look something like this triyangle:

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Trinitarian Structure of Humanness

Traces of oneness are everywhere, for "Unity is the first principle that penetrates and regulates manifestation, in the sense that it projects its reflections everywhere, and on the other hand brings phenomena back to Unity, symbolically at least" (all of the quoted material in this post is from the essay Concerning Pythagorean Numbers from Schuon's The Eye of the Heart: Metaphysics, Cosmology, Spiritual Life).

What this means is that the One is both the origin and destiny of the Many, and that reality, even though it may appear to be broken into infinite fragments, is always simultaneously on the way from and back to Unity. Thus, "Unity tends everywhere to overcome Duality," which is another way of saying that Three leads back to One (or, to be precise, Three is the return of the One under a new guise, so to speak).

For example, "masculinity and femininity seem to form an irreducible bipolarity"; however, in order for the transcendent third of Love to manifest, it obviously requires Two (and from the other end, the immanent child -- the trinitarian baby -- represents the return of Duality to Unity, because now the couple has a common enemy).

Thus, as explained in the Wholly Coonifesto, the primordial human is father-mother-baby, in an irreducible trinity in which each shapes the other.

Furthermore, masculine and feminine aren't a duality but a complementarity, that is, reflections of the Real as seen from different vertices, which is to say, absolute and infinite, contained and container, child and womb, point and space, ʘ.

Also, another key point is that this Father-Mother-Baby triad is not to be understood as merely exterior. Rather, these categories are intrinsic to human psychological development at the deepest level. I think Bion appreciated and explicated this most clearly, showing how thinking represents the ongoing harmonious interplay of container-contained (which he conveniently symbolized ♀ and ♂).

When we first come into the world, we are unable to contain, regulate, or understand our own thoughts -- in other words, thoughts (or ♂) precede the thinker -- so that we require the (m)Other to serve as our "auxiliary cortex," or container (♀) to help us think and understand our own thoughts.

I'm afraid this may sound overly abstract, but you have only to observe the subtle intersubjective dance of mother and infant to see this going on, the constant transactions of meaning flowing back and forth. For this reason, D.W. Winnicott said that "there is no such thing as an infant," which goes back to Schuon's observation about duality reverting to unity.

The oneness a mother feels toward her infant is so deep as to be well beyond mere words. Rather, words must be used as containers to ferry the meaning back and forth in intersubjective space, which the infant comes to feel as the deep connectedness of love. And although the infant is also transmitting love, he doesn't know it until he is in a harmonious relationship with a sensitive (m)Other who receives the love and returns it to him.

Thus, between mother and infant there is actually -- or should be, anyway -- a continuously expanding feedback loop in which the infant is learning to think his own thoughts, which is to say, give meaning to existence.

Which is why the deepest meaning -- or meaninglessness! -- is well beyond the reach of words, since all of this hyper-sophisticated exchange of meaning occurs before the child is even fully aware of his twoness, let alone of words as symbols radically separable from that which they symbolize. The infant lives in a kind of "poetic" world, in which words are that which they convey. Thus the special musical tone of voice with which mothers speak to their infants, which transmits love both directly and symbolically.

Bion termed this thinking process between mother and infant alpha function. Again, the purpose of alpha function is to transform sense impressions, emotional experiences, and proto-thoughts into meaning. A child with a disturbed attachment to its primary caretakers will eventually internalize a disturbed alpha function, and in one way or another be hindered in the ability to "think his thoughts" and "feel his emotions."

But what happens to the unthinkable thoughts? Let us count the ways: they may be repressed, split off, denied, projected and attributed to others, acted out, sent into exile, placed into others for safekeeping, contained in an obsession or compulsion, dispatched into the body to become a somatic symptom, drowned in drink, etc. The main point is that they don't just go away. Rather, what we call a "symptom" is just a thought in search of a thinker.

Depending upon how you look, the human being is one, or two, or three. Obviously a human being is "one," or we couldn't even say "human being." But in order to truly become human and to actualize our potential, we require the Other (and the accumulated otherness of civilization).

However, the Being of the human being is always on the way to its own true Being, which is to say that we are constantly becoming what we are meant to be, which again goes to the one --> two --> three of our cosmic structure. We are constantly "giving birth" to ourselves.

I notice this about my son. At any given moment -- or stage - of psychological development, he is a whole person, a complete being in his own right, lacking nothing. For example, when he was a baby, I didn't think of him as a defective three year old, and now that he's five, I don't think of him as a retarded adolescent. Rather, each stage has its own absolute validity. Nevertheless, you will notice how many parents -- especially more affluent ones -- treat each stage as only a weigh station for the distant goal of, say, going to the right college.

One thing I can say about my parents is that they really let me be a child, with little pressure about the future. In other words, they gave me my slack rather than projecting their own unthought agenda into me before I could even know what was going on. Many "ambitious" people are simply living out the ambitious mind parasites of their parents.

I'm trying not to do this with my son, which is to say, allow him to live in the fulness of the present, but most importantly, to develop the alpha function to be able to explicate the impossibly rich meaning that is always already here, and can only be here. For if it isn't here it is nowhere, or merely projected into a future that never arrives.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Numbers and How They Get That Way

Let's talk more about the meaning of numbers. Even to say "meaning of numbers" is interesting, for it is another way of saying the "quality of quantities" -- which is to say that numbers cannot only be quantities.

Although this is axiomatic, it flies in the ointment of a scientistic worldview that reduces all qualities to the secondary phenomena of quantities. For example, for the lonely scientist, the color red is just light waves vibrating at a certain frequency.

But as anyone who has read One Cosmos knows, semantics cannot be reduced to syntax, which means that meaning cannot be reduced to order. So reduced it becomes meaningless, precisely.

In other words, to reduce, say, a beautiful pink sunset to a certain frequency of light is to eliminate the sunset. It's analogous to saying that love is really just a side effect of oxytocin, or that there is a "God area" in the brain that explains religion.

But this is what science does, which in itself isn't problematic. Problems only arise when it conflates method and ontology, and thereby confuses its abstractions with reality. Reality is not reducible to numbers. Well, actually, as we shall see, it is. It's just that numbers cannot be reduced to quantity. A number is not just a number.

In the past, I have been frustrated by this subject, as it is often surrounded by a penumbra of occult nonsense, e.g., numerology. If you peruse the numerology department of your local bookstore, you'll soon realize that everything symbolizes everything else, which is logically equivalent to everything meaning nothing. It all becomes arbitrary rather quickly.

But as usual, Schuon discusses the subject in a way that is concise, universal, and essential. By "essential" I mean that he manages to convey the reality of what he is talking about -- the essence -- not just abstract meanings that are detached from that to which they are supposed to refer.

Just as science begins with the reality of the (immanent) world, metaphysics begins with the reality of the transcendent. Both worlds can be described by word or by number, by concept or symbol.

Schuon notes that "The Pythagorean numbers prove that number in itself is not synonymous with quantity pure and simple, for they are essentially qualitative; they are so to the degree that they are close to the Unity, their point of departure."

In other words, the most "qualitative" numbers are those upon which number is based, especially Zero, One, Two, and Three, but also Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, and Twelve (not sure about Eleven). Pure quantity only arrives later, as numbers become increasingly distant from that initial point of departure.

By the way, this is something that many fundamentalists forget, influenced as they are by our scientistic and quantitative age. That is, the Bible quintessentially uses number to express qualitative realities, e.g., "seven days," "forty years," "500 witnesses," etc. Some numbers convey "majesty," others "totality" or "unity," etc.

One obviously stands for Unity, while Two is duality, e.g., man and woman, form and substance, Creator and created, inside and outside, vertical and horizontal. Clearly, Two must be the number of manifestation, for without it, there can be no "second," nothing separate from the Creator. Thus, to say "Two" is to say "world."

Schuon asks if "one might wonder if Unity is really a number," since, "strictly speaking, number begins with Duality, which opens the door to that projection of the Infinite which is the indefinite." In other words, prior to Two, there is only the One, abiding in itsoph.

This is what we were attempting to convey in the opening pages of One Cosmos, except in a non-dogmatic way that would nevertheless express some of the essence of this principial reality. Once you get the jokes, you see that it's all quite literal, e.g.,

It was not good that this Godhead should be allone, so He expired with a big bong and said "let there be higher physics," and it was zo.

To ex-spire is to ex-hale (whole) or give up the ghost, which God does in breathing the creation into existence. And zo, of course, implies life.

I remurmur this like it was yesterday, but bear in mind that it's all really happening -- can only happen -- now, in the ontically vertical reality prior to each "moment" of time. Now is where all the eternity flows in, and there's not a thing you can do about it.

Thus, One's upin a timeless without a second to spore and noplace to bang anyway. The abbasolute day, before eve or any other middling relativities. Only himsoph with nowhere to bewrong, hovering over the waters without a kenosis.

Here again, this conveys the principial Unity prior to the duality of the mayafestation and man-infestation. That being the case, One cannot be in time, but is necessarily "in a "timeless." Only by banging with a second do we end up with those middling relativities, and a manifestivus for the rest of us.

Abba-sol-ute imples Father (abba) and central Sun (sol), while "nowhere to bewrong" conveys the truism (or True Is Him) that "there is none good but the One," since there is nothing yet separate from him.

Only with the self-sacrifice and self-giving of kenosis does the creation (the lower waters) come into existence, and with it, the possibility of evil -- which is inevitable (or in eve-ate-apple), as the ray of creation becomes increasingly distant from the central sun (like the numbers that start with, and partake of, One, but go on forever).

As Schuon writes, "to say Unity is to say Totality; in other words, Unity signifies the absolute Real, and likewise with Totality, which represents the Real in all its ontological 'extent'..."

In this formulation, Unity would signify the Absolute, while Totality would signify the Infinite -- and the One automatically implies the Other. Absolute is prior, but nevertheless contains the Infinite as its first fruit.

In case that wasn't clear, to say One is to say Unity, but to say Unity is to say Totality, the latter of which is deployed in time, hence, the creation.

Which is why we can say that the creation is God -- i.e., not other than God -- but God is not the creation. What this means is that transcendence automatically spills over into creation, thus implying immanence.

But immanence implies transcendence, which is why nothing is really just "what it is," least of all a mere (profane) number. That is, nothing can be completely "contained" by scientistic understanding, since every thing is also a theophany of the infinite God, a divine spark.

In short, One is everywhere and everywhen, especially when Two is Three, as soon we shall see. But that's enough higher mythsemantics for today. To be continued....