Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Almighty B'ob, Master of Trolls

I dreamt that the Celtics thumped the Lakers tonight. Let's hope that this was not a pre-cognitive dream, and that Petey was just messing with me again. I actually woke up with a lump in my throat. I'm still bitter about Don Nelson's shot in game seven of the 1969 finals.

One other trivial item I want to mention. The other day I read a review of Christopher Hitchens' new memoir, in which it mentioned that he writes 1,000 words a day. That got me to wondering. How many words does Bob write? I checked a few of my posts, and they all came in at over 1,000 words. Being that I have written some 1500 posts, that means well over a million words.

And now you know why the arkive will never be organized, and why a second book is probably impossible. Unless I can find a way to cap this underwater gusher, but I have no idea how to do that. First I need Dupree to tell me whose ass to kick.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program. If we're going to seriously or even jocularly employ the Ø <-- (•) --> O schematic, the first thing we need to recognize is that (•) --> O is impossible and even unthinkable in the absence of the reverse flow of (•) <-- O, or grace. In fact, to think otherwise is one of those intrinsic heresies we've been gabbing about. And when I say "intrinsic," I mean that it is an error not just for a theology, but theology as such.

To put it another way, to the extent that one imagines that one can successfully approach God unaided and on one's own, this represents the most rank form of cosmic chutzpah and spiritual grandiosity, because it is really just a roundabout way of saying that you are God -- which, in a certain sense, you are (as is everything else, so it qualifies as a truism).

But this hardly means that the converse is true, that God is you. To paraphrase something Schuon said, before you can declare "I AM THAT," you had better realize the extent to which DUDE, NO WAY AM I THAT! Communion is only possible in separation, just as ignorance is a prerequisite of knowledge. Spiritually speaking, the peace, quiet, and openness of (o) and (---) are prior to (n). Or, first faith, then knowledge, faith being a kind of preconceptual foreknowledge.

The left and right sides of my schematic are literally different universes, which is why to be born again from above only changes everything.

Speaking of which, would it not be accurate to say that those readers who fundamentally mis- and disunderstand what I'm saying have not been so reborn, and that they are therefore trying to understand O through Ø -- that the left side doesn't know what the right side is doing? If this is the case, it would certainly explain the intrinsic stupidity of their questions and observations, would it not?

(And as always, I mean this literally, not as an insult. If you are being cosmically stupid, it is an act of mercy for someone to point it out to you. You needn't get sore about it. No one knows who you are. We're just goofing on you for the purposes of higher insultainment. Whack!)

Imagine, for example, a devoted reader who obsessively pores over each and every post, and still cannot penetrate the hull and reach the kernel. He says -- oh, I don't know, "but Bob, that's illogical!" What's really going on here? What if this person isn't only a malevolent, parochial, joyless, and ill-tempered troll, but is honestly confused. What to do? How to help him?

Well, first of all, is it not obvious that Bob cannot help such a person, since Bob may be qualified to be a nursemaid or au pair for a short time but certainly not your cosmic midwife? In a manner of speaking, of course. In other words, exactly who vested in me this power to awaken others from their spiritual slumber? I have never represented myself as some kind of "guru" or "spiritual master," and never will. All I know for certain is that some people say they benefit from these public verticalisthenic exercises in self-help. And that some say they don't benefit. But why the latter keep coming back is a bit puzzling.

For those who do benefit from my improvisational cogitations, I think we would find that, to a person, it is because they have already been -- however you wish to coonceptualize it -- "born again from above," so that their principial orientation is to O, not Ø (and certainly not to me, God forbid!). So for a premetanoiacal troll to ask me for answers I can never provide is a priori evidence of a problem I can't help them with, since -- for the benefit of morons and imbeciles, not regular readers -- I am not O. Rather, for the Raccoon, vertical re-orientation and grace are everything. We are not deus-it-oursophers.

I've mentioned this before, but I'm thinking of when a Christian student came to Schuon for guidance. He said words to the effect of, "fine. But just remember: Christ is your Master. So in response to that flurry of asinine questions and comments yesterday, I suppose my first question to them would be, "who is your Master?" The answer to that question should automatically provide answers to the others.

It's a little startling to me how Pieper's and Zizioulas' books are lining up on this discussion. I keep going back and forth between one and the other, and it's as if the two are conversing in my head. I find it fascinating that one of our trolls persistently mischaracterizes our position as one of certitude and finality, when precisely the opposite is true. Only the atheist has that kind of bovine certitude. Again, for the person in (•) --> O, we are always on the way, never at our final deustination.

In this regard, Pieper has a fascinating discussion about the delicate balance required of the already but not yet, and the various vices and sins that result from over- or underemphasizing one side or the other. In other words, the "already" implies a kind of certitude, while the "not yet" implies imperfection, progress, doubt, "seeing through a glass darkly," etc.

He begins by defining the nature of virtue, which is "the enhancement of the human person in a way befitting his nature." Virtue involves "the most a man can be," but again, it is always more of an orientation than an accomplishment. It is "the steadfastness of man's orientation toward the realization of his nature, that is, toward good." I cannot imagine a clearer description of (•) --> O.

But again, as alluded to above, (•) --> O is impossible, precisely. Rather, "theological virtue is an ennobling of man's nature that entirely surpasses what he 'can be' of himself" (emphasis mine). It is "the steadfast orientation toward a fulfillment and a beatitude that are not 'owed' to natural man," a transnatural "potentiality for being" that is "grounded in a real, grace-filled participation in the divine nature..."

Although Pieper is, of course, speaking in a Christian context, it is difficult to imagine a better description of the (•) <-- O that must complement (•) --> O if we are to get anywhere, vertically speaking. (Alternatively, one could simply say, no ↓, no ↑.) And memo to trolls: stop trying to make me your ↓, and get a Master -- and a clue. Then perhaps you'll understand what's going on here.

That's 1150 words. To be continued tomorrow....

This is important enough to embed. It describes what happens when a nation loses contact with O:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Atheism: There's Nothing To It!

No one commented on my little schematic the other day, but it really does tell the whole story about faith, hope, and love, and about man's ontological situation in general. To simplify it, we could just say (and please don't be put off by the symbols, which shouldn't be difficult to understand, but which will accumulate meaning through their use):

O

(•)

Ø

That's you in the middle (•), right between Nothing (Ø) below and the Absolute (O) above. But existence is never static, therefore you are always moving in one direction or the other, even if you're not trying. (One thinks of the three gunas of Vedic metaphysics, which convey the idea that human beings are always rising, falling, or expanding with the cosmic winds; it is also interesting to note that these correlate with creation, destruction, and preservation -- i.e., the trinity of Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu, respectively.)

Now, as we were saying yesterday, the Raccoon lives in the Light of the already but not yet. In contrast, the existentialist, the village atheist, the materialist, the secular leftist, the troll -- all try to live and navigate their lives in that beam of darkness we call Ø.

And please note, this is not some kind of insult or jab, but an objective account of their own acknowledged metaphysic. Any variety of materialism obviously reduces to nothing, unless you're just too stupid, frightened, or dishonest to draw out the ultimate implications of your first principle.

For a Raccoon, being is dependent upon O. Therefore, all reality is infused with the light and truth of O -- not to mention the beauty which is its penumbra.

Furthermore -- and we'll get more into this later -- just as truth is the light of O, I think we can all agree that love is its "warmth." But where there's heat there's light (and vice versa). Not for nothing does Genesis characterize carnal love as knowledge. Oops! He said a dirty world! But not really. Only if you forget about O. Indeed, you might even say that pornography is the sexuality of Ø.

Unless you are severely retarded and completely stuck in the now, your life is either oriented to O or Ø. To be oriented toward the former means to live in faith and hope, while to be oriented to the latter means to live in concrete. By definition it means that life is hopeless, and that there is no reason whatsoever to have "faith." You already know your future and final end, which is death and nothing more.

But since you know the future, the future infuses the now, which is why you have that damned hellhound on your trail. Everything you do and think is just a distraction from the reality of Ø, and you know it. You are constantly receiving "visitations" from your hopeless future, from the black angel of Death, which is why you have created your Death Culture (in other words your frantic denial of Death always contains traces of Death, precisely.)

I hope this isn't going too slow, but I can only proceed at the rhythm of O.

Everything in the cosmos -- with the exception of the human being -- simply "is what it is," and nothing more. But a human being always lives in the "not yet." Only a human being is aware of time, and therefore stands outside or above it (while still being in it, of course). Thus, as Pieper explains, this "not yet" is a janus-faced thingy which "includes both a negative and a positive element: the absence of fulfillment [Ø] and the orientation toward fulfillment [O]."

Pieper further explains that the former orientation results in a closer "proximity to nothingness that is the very nature of created things."

In other words, the Raccoon is quite aware of Ø, which is a necessary condition of existence, of a creation separate from the Creator. This is important to appreciate, because while horizontal man does not recognize O, the Raccoon actually acknowledges the "reality" (so to speak, i.e., the relative reality) of the materialist's god, Ø.

To put it another way, you could say that Ø is simply the ultimate destination of man's fallenness. Zizioulas explains this well, noting that the state of fallen existence involves "the rupture between Being and Communion," or between O and ʘ, and therefore resulting in (•) and even worse.

Let me explain in more detail, or put some flesh on those bony pneumaticons. Zizioulas notes that "the fall of man -- and for that matter, sin -- is not to be understood as bringing about something new," since "there is no creative power in evil."

Rather, this fall -- and it really is a "fall," from verticality to horizontality -- should be understood as "revealing and actualizing the limitations and potential dangers inherent in creaturehood, if creation is left to itself." This is because if man denies O, he makes himself "the ultimate point of reference in existence," which is to say, he will "become like God," authorized to determine for himself what is good and what is evil. In merging with Ø, he is the god of all nothingness, or a king in hell.

And that's how you end up at MSNBC.

Now any form of materialism -- I hope this isn't too obvious -- necessarily makes Ø the ultimate frame of reference, but this ends -- and must end -- in fragmentation, the impossibility of truth, and hatred of the Other (who also rightfully claims to be God, the bastard!). Why is this? Because "the fall consists in the refusal to make being dependent on communion, in a rupture between truth and communion" (Zizioulas).

In order to understand why this must be so, you must see that Truth is prior to Being. If Being is prior to Truth -- as existentialists believe -- then the simple fact of your (•) becomes the ultimate substance of truth. In other words, your so-called truth actually emanates from Ø. And you don't "commune" with this truth so much as sink into it and dissolve, nothing to Nothing. You are just one fragmented object among an infinite number of others. Frankly, you're a leftist, but we won't get into that. I just want to make sure Stevenonymous is paying obsessive attention.

But if the essence of existence is communion -- and therefore Love -- then your union with truth and reality, O, is prior to your alienation, or fall, from it.

Which is again where faith and hope -- and, of course, love -- come in, which are nothing more than orientation toward reality, or O.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Future is Now Because Now is Not Yet

Continuing our discussion of the theological virtue of hope. As we mentioned yesterday, hope is thoroughly entangled with the idea that we are on a journey. But this journey is obviously not to a physical destination. Rather, "it refers to the innermost structure of created nature," and is the "inherent 'not yet' of the finite being." Human being means being on the way to humanness -- or to fully realized human personhood, to be precise.

This gets a little complicated, but the fact that we are created simultaneously introduces the possibility of hope and of hopelessness, depending upon whether we turn toward or away from our source. Ironically, the man who imagines himself to be wholly self-sufficient turns away from this source and necessarily falls into a kind of loveless nihilism (or at least that is its tendency and end). The existential price for this denial and refusal is what we might call hell.

Let me see if I can back up and explain this more clearly. As it so happens, I'm reading another important book at the same time, Being as Communion. Pieper's Faith, Hope, Love was so fraught with implications, that I needed to put it down for awhile and assimilate what I'd read so far.

But this book is equally profound, plus it is resonating with the other one in such a way that they are feeding off one another and creating a luminous arc in the space between them, i.e., in my melon. Thus the need to post on Saturday and Sunday to try to keep up with the flow of (n). As always, this verticalisthenic exercise is as much for me as it is for readers. It's probably a little sloppy as well, but at least it's completely half baked.

Anyway, Zizioulas writes that "the being of God is a relational being," so that "without the concept of communion it would not be possible to speak of the being of God." It seems that many theologians have failed to properly draw out the implications of the Trinity, for its immediate implication is that God cannot be a "substance"; or, to be precise, the substance would be posterior to the essence, which is pure relation -- a relation that ultimately reduces to love.

I remember when I was a child and forced to attend Sunday school, on the wall in large gold letters was the statement GOD IS LOVE. Of course it made no sense to a child, and as I grew older it just seemed like sentimental nonsense.

But in reality, this conclusion was a result of the daring and sophisticated thinking of the early fathers, which transformed God from a remote and abstract substance to the very essence and possibility of personhood. The latter is in sharp contrast to mere biological humanness, which is given to us by nature. Real personhood is intrinsically transnatural and can only be conferred from on high (which is why in order to progress along the path, one must be "born again from above").

I'm not sure if Zizioulas' ideas are controversial, but they absolutely resonate in me, vis-a-vis my own ghostly spookulations regarding the intersubjectively trinitarian nature of the developing psyche. A human being is irreducibly intersubjective. I'm not going to make a rehash of the entire argument here, as it is covered in detail in the book. Suffice it to say that our own mysterious intersubjectivity is an analogue of God's interior life, so that to be means to be in relation. There is no being without relation, not even in God:

"There is no true being without communion. Nothing exists as an 'individual,' conceivable in itself. Communion is an ontological category" (Zizioulas).

To turn it around, to deny this ontological communion is to eradicate the person at the root. Thus, any kind of materialistic metaphysic that crudely regards man as a self-enclosed thing is nothing less than ontological genocide. There is no scientistic way to get from the biological human to the unique person whose being is loving interior relation.

The latter conception frees man from the "ontological necessity" that bounds him in the closed system of biology, and instead renders him an open system, both horizontally and vertically. Again, the Person is not "an adjunct to being, a category we add" to a supposedly more fundamental biological entity.

Rather, Personhood is itself the substance of being, both its principle and its (vertical) cause. Our substance -- and God's substance -- "never exists in a 'naked' state," the result being that we may affirm that real personhood is an uncreated mode. It is intrinsic to God, and given to us -- if we accept it. (Interestingly, Zizioulas derives our own absolute uniqueness from the uniqueness of the only begotten Son.)

If we choose not to accept it, we are essentially choosing our own ontological self-sufficiency. But again, the existentialists are correct that this radical freedom necessarily ends in nihilsm, so that the person becomes the negator of his own ontology, which is ultimately loving relation. Zizioulas:

"It thus becomes evident that the only exercise of freedom in an ontological manner is love.... Love is not an emanation or 'property' of the substance of God," a "secondary property of being." Rather, love constitutes God's being, and is his very "mode of existence." Which in turn introduces the human dilemma, which is "either freedom as love, or freedom as negation."

So, what is the proper relation between the biological human and the post-biological person, or between the old man and the new? As Zizioulas suggests, it implies a "movement, a progress toward realization" rooted in hope.

You might say that for vertical man, his personal roots are aloft, his biological leaves and branches down below. Thus, the person is "maintained and nourished, by the future. The truth and the ontology of the person belong to the future," and "are images of the future."

This speaks to the paradoxical position of vertical man, that of "already but not yet." For to draw our substance from the above is to draw it from the future, so that both are in a sense already here -- as they say, the kingdom of heaven is spread upon the earth, but men do not see it. Not with their biological eyes, anyway.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Liberalism

Pieper begins his discussion of the virtue of hope with the observation that for man -- and man only -- well, Christian man, anyway -- life is a journey, and we are pilgrims.

In short, the span of time between conception and death is a pilgrimage, a meaningful movement in which the purpose is to journey closer to our true end by metabolizing and assimilating its "substance," so to speak. Thus, each moment of life is conferred -- or partakes of -- ultimate significance, since it bears upon our eshcatological end, so that our being is never just that, but a meaningful becoming in the direction of Being itself, or the source of our borrowed being.

Or, as I would prefer to say, the end, or telos, casts its shadow "down and back" into our lives, while simultaneously serving as the attractor (telovator, or eschalator) that lures us up into the phase space of O, the Absolute, God.

Also, my view is that this is not just "Christian anthropology" but universal anthropology. Christianity would not be true if it didn't comport with The Way Things Are. I'm not one of those people who believe that Christianity is true only because "God said it." I don't think the Creator would abuse our intelligence in that way.

Rather, he wants us to know that there is no conflict between revelation and Reason, and that we need the latter to comprehend the former. At least for the most part. There are, of course, certain things we couldn't know in the absence of God revealing them, but even then, probably fewer things than one might imagine.

For example, it is often said that the Trinitarian nature of God is one of those things, but I gradually arrived at a similar conclusion based upon metaphysical speculation on the thoroughly intersubjective nature of the person. Indeed, that is what allowed me to appreciate the breathtaking philosophical daring of the early fathers at arriving at such a formulation, since they did so without the benefit of 21st century neurodevelopmental attachment theory.

The point is that a person -- as opposed to a merely biological human -- cannot be a monad, psychically closed system, or radically isolated individual, but is intrinsically and irreducibly communitarian, so that human minds are members of one another.

This is not something "added on" to the individual, but the very basis of even the possibility of the individual <----> social dialectic within which we live and have our being. If you don't believe me, just ask Julie about the metaphysics of the mother-infant bond, and the interior substance that flows back and forth between them. The oneness is not imposed from the outside, but apprehended from the inside -- which is none other than the very "cosmic interior" that makes love possible, more on which later. (Exteriors cannot love, only be attracted or repelled by one another.)

As Pieper explains, one who has "arrived" is no longer "on the way." Rather, his journey is over. This can happen in two ways, one good, one bad. The bad way occurs as a result of any of the intellectual heresies we have been discussing, say, materialism. If the world is ultimately matter, then the only journey in life is from death to death, which is no journey at all.

Or, for a relativist, there can be no progressive journey, only an infinite number of lateral ones. In the absence of the Great Attractor, there is nothing that can confer absolute meaning upon our own otherwise arbitrary movements.

In my book I discuss various intellectual pathologies such as materialitis and reductionosis, which obviously infuse leftist thought. Thus, my disdain for leftism has nothing to do with the left per se (much less the slaves who are in its grip), but with their intrinsic betrayal of cosmic truth.

To cite just one particularly glaring example, they are always talking about "the poor," as if there is any such thing. Rather, there are only poor individuals. But the left converts a temporary adjective that applies to individuals into a reified characteristic of a permanent "group."

But a bare acquaintance with economics reveals that very few people spend their lives in this reified category of "the poor." First of all, as Sowell points out, it is simply a truism that anyone can divide the population into abstract quintiles, so that by definition there will always be five of them, no matter how hard the left tries to outlaw the number five.

The point is that most of those individuals are no longer in the bottom quintile after a decade, and the ones who remain there usually do so because of easily recognized pathologies and self-defeating behaviors such as drug abuse or having children out of wedlock.

But in reifying this quintile, the left is able to create this mystical entity called the poor, thereby converting a temporary weigh station to an enduring state of being. And most importantly, this state of being robs the poor person of the virtue of hope, which is where the left comes in, in that they offer false hope to the hopeless dupes they have created -- the false hope of dependence on the state rather than individual initiative, good values, prudent behavior, etc. This is why, for example, the incomes of married black families are virtually identical to married white families.

As I've said before, I'm sure I would have qualified for "poor" during the many years I was putting myself through college and graduate school. But while I knew I wasn't wealthy, I certainly didn't identify with this state of being that the left wished to confer upon me.

Rather, I knew that finances would improve, because I had hope. But even then, I never, ever, confused "economic hope" with genuine hope, i.e., the theological hope that converts otherwise biological life into a spiritual path. To convert life into a mere journey up the economic quintiles, as the left does, renders life nothing more than a nihilistic death march to empty prosperity. I want no part of it. Unless a wealthy benefactor wishes to make a generous donation to the, er, Foundation for Missing Raccoons.

Now, one factor that motivates our journey is the occasional glimpses of our end that we are granted. Faith (or vertical openness) comes into play here, because faith is a kind of tacit foreknowlede of an as yet undiscovered reality -- not dissimilar to how the gifted scientist is guided in his explorations by a tacit sense of moving in the right direction -- which is why good questions can contain as much light as their answers, whereas the kinds of stupid questions asked by, say, our anonymous troll are already so full darkness that there is no room for the light they pretend to seek (similar to Helen Thomas's darkly loony questions at presidential press conferences, which no light could ever penetrate, much less satisfy).

The critical point is this: "it is astonishing how many basic concepts of theology have a meaning in reference to the state of being on the way that is different from their meaning in reference to the state of total possession" (Pieper). For this being on the way is precisely the journey from outer to inner, from existence to essence, from image to likeness. "Hope" is simply a side effect, so to speak, of being properly oriented in the vertical, in contrast to the "enlightened despair" of the flatland secular fantasists who hopelessly look to matter for meaning.

Essentially, you could boil and half bake it all down to a symbolic schematic:

O
↑↓
ʘ <---> (L), beatitude, or sat-chit-ananda
↑↓
(¶) <---> (n)
↑↓
(•) ---> (+K)

(•••) <---> (H)

Ø <---> (-K)

Friday, June 11, 2010

How to Know When God is Speaking to You

Jumping ahead again, this time to Pieper's wonderful book on the theological virtues, Faith, Hope, Love -- which is perhaps even better than his book on the cardinal virtues, although both are essential.

And when I say "essential," I don't mean it in the sense that it is essential for you to read them; rather, I mean it in the sense that he directly communicates the spiritual essence of what he is discussing (you might say that essence is to the vertical what existence is to the horizontal).

This is always the hallmark of a gifted religious writer: the direct communication of essence; or, to put it another way, their communication is spiritually infused with the "substance" of the reality under discussion. In fact, if this essence -- or substance -- is not present, then something ain't right, either in the transmitter or the receiver (i.e., him or you; but if the problem is in you, you will be incapable of discerning a fraud from the real thing, a Deepak from a Dionysius).

It reminds me of something my most gifted professor taught me in graduate school: if either you or the patient aren't aware of an emotional disturbance in the session, then something is wrong (in other words, the two of you are probably colluding to avoid some primitive material).

Pieper actually touches on this issue in his section on faith. "In speaking to men, God does not cause them to know objective facts, but he does throw open to them his own Being" (emphasis mine). Do you see the profundity of this statement? When he communicates, God quintessentially communicates his own essence -- which, on our end, is subjectively accompanied by awareness of the sacred. And awareness of the sacred is nothing less than innate consciousness of the presence of God (Schuon).

Again, to turn it around, if, for whatever reason, a person has rendered himself unable or unwilling to sense the sacred, he will be unable to sense the presence of God. Conversely, when one is aware of the sacred, God is present. Of course he is always and everywhere "present," but in order to be aware of that fact, we must become a vertically open system, i.e., (↑↓).

Or, to paraphrase Petey, if you haven't received the hologram to your private particle, you need to come in, open His presence, and report for karmic duty.

Note that the "essence of the essence," so to speak, of the divine revelation, utterly transcends any ability to draw a distinction between signifier and signified, symbol and symbolized, for the two merge in God. Thus, "the Incarnation of God and the revelation in Christ are one and the same reality" (Pieper; emphasis mine).

This revelation of being is only offered to us, never forced (interestingly, my above referenced professor once remarked that he never, ever, recommended psychotherapy, but only offered it; I can certainly say the same of this blog).

The "content" of revelation is ultimately Revelation as such, which is to say, a loving invitation to "participate in the divine life." Which in turn is why faith is so critical, for faith is essentially the acceptance of God's offer -- or of his self-revelation, to be precise. "Divine revelation is not an announcement of a report on reality but the imparting of that reality itself" (emphasis mine). To have "faith" means to actually take God's call, and not just put him on hold or play phone tag with him.

As I've mentioned before, Schuon's writing is always characterized by its essentiality, so let's see what he has to say about the human ability to know the sacred. I really don't see how someone could be more exact, while at the same time not "confining" the human spirit. To the contrary, I find that Schuon's exactitude is always liberating, as it bears upon, and opens up to, the Infinite (again, it is vertically open):

"That is sacred which in the first place is attached to the transcendent order, secondly, possesses the character of absolute certainty and, thirdly, eludes the comprehension and control of the ordinary human mind. Imagine a tree whose leaves, having no kind of direct knowledge about the root, hold a discussion about whether or not a root exists and what its form is if it does: if a voice then came from the root telling them that the root does exist and what its form is, that message would be sacred."

Which is why, in the words of Petey, It is a Tree of Life for those whose wood beleaf.

"The sacred is the presence of the center in the periphery, of the immutable in the moving.... The sacred introduces a quality of the absolute into relativities and confers on perishable things a texture of eternity" (Schuon).

Elsewhere he says that "It is the interference of the uncreate in the created, of the eternal in time, of the infinite in space, of the supraformal in forms; it is the mysterious introduction into one realm of existence of a presence which in reality contains and transcends that realm..."

Traces of the sacred are everywhere -- those life-giving springs dotting the horizontal landscape -- but it is up to us to hone our ability to detect them: "To feel this concretely is to possess the sense of the sacred, and thereby the instinct of adoration, devotion and submission." It is to be simultaneously aware of the "immense remoteness and miraculous proximity" of O. Which in turn is why the Raccoon is always on the way to his deustination. He is simultaneously there and not yet there, which in-forms the dialectical tension of his life journey into O.

By the way, for Pieper, the closest human analogue to God's disclosure of his Being is....

Any guesses?

How about I. Love. You.

Why is that? Because this simple statement is simultaneously a revelation of what it reveals. In other words, it is not a factual statement about love, but its direct transmission from human to human (one especially notices this with young children, whose verbal expressions of love are so spontaneous and pure that they are literally heartbreaking. Ouch! Hurts so good!).

I love you is also a direct and intimate revelation of the deepest identity of the one who loves. Thus, there are three elements unified in the one utterance: the "self-witnessing" of the I who loves; the affirmation of the reality of love; and the revelation that one is beloved.

Which is why in God, one must not draw an artificial distinction between love and knowledge, for his revelation is a direct transmission of his loving nature, of love, and of our belovedness in God. Divine communication and comm-union are one and the same.

I feel like I barely got started, and now it's time to stop. To be continued....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Inadvertent Wisdom of Christopher Hitchens

I'm not really sure whose ass to kick this morning. There are no unhatched ideas in my head clamoring to be born, no thoughts in search of a thinker. This happens every once in awhile, and when it does, I usually just hand the ball off to Bob's Unconscious and start typing. Which I will proceed to do.

I'm still stuck on the idea of intellectual heresy, and I wish more people understood and appreciated what I was talking about, especially the people whose asses I would like to kick. This has nothing to do with content, for example, science vs. religion.

Rather, this is a truly universal problem that cuts across all disciplines. In my opinion, it is the central cause of man's betrayal of himself, and undoubtedly the primary infirmity of the tenured. Some of these intellectual heresies only wound the person who commits them, while others are death to the intellect, and therefore aggravated cluelesside.

At the very least, the intellectual heretic participates in his own astral abortion. But the real miscarriage occurs if one is a teacher or in a position of influence, whereby one participates in mass murder, or at least attempted murder. In other words, since the soul is the form of the body, to commit soul murder is to destroy what is essential in the human being. When young people with skulls full of mush are the victims, then we're talking about mind-fucking, and therefore intellectual pederasty with intent to commit skulbuggery.

The other day I heard Christopher Hitchens on the Michael Medved show promoting his new autofelltatiography, and there is no question that this is an "intelligent" man. Nevertheless in five minutes he commits enough intellectual heresies to render his own intelligence impotent. He is so full of an externalizing pride and passion that he seems incapable of genuine self-understanding. He is also a vulgar and blustering intellectual bully, which is not wholly beside the point, since truth -- and the truth lover -- attracts. Truth, like goodness (or the Light it is), simultaneously radiates and enraptures; it does not "harden" and compress upon itself, thereby giving no Light. Which is why a Raccoon does not argue truth, only offer it.

For example, let us suppose that his gradual evolution from a man of the hard left -- a committed Trotskyist and true Useful Idiot -- represents some kind of evolution, or "growth." Exactly what has grown? Is he more intelligent today than he was then? Doubtful, if only because of the alcoholic toll on his brain cells. Is he wiser? I don't see how "wisdom" would be permitted in his narrow world view, for it immediately implies transcendence and therefore common cause with traditions and people whom he despises.

In other words, there is no "wisdom tradition" on the left. To the contrary, the left can only remain the left through a systematic blindness to mankind's accumulated and revealed wisdom. The left is and must not only be ahistorical, but irreligious, irrational, and dismissive of anthropology (in the sense of apprehending the transcendent and universal archetype that defines man).

Schuon writes that wisdom involves a combination of intelligence and character, and is ideally "represented by gnosis, which a priori is set on the restoration of the primordial perfection of man." So if Hitchens is a better man than he was 40 or 50 years ago, he is closer to that absolute perfection that makes possible the relative degrees of improvement.

In other words, in the absence of an implicit absolute standard, there can be no real "improvement" of any kind, only meaningless lateral change, or at best, better "adaptation" to the environment (and even then, only for the purposes of sexual reproduction).

Schuon further notes that wisdom "consists not only in knowing truths and being able to communicate them, but also in the sage’s capacity to recognize the most subtle limitations or hazards of human nature."

In other words, wisdom, in order to be wisdom, must recognize man's aboriginal infirmity, or risk committing the intellectual heresy of omniscience. Ironically, this is something the traditionalist is always mindful of, whereas the secular man regards it as a fable or fairy tale, which has the practical effect of collapsing the vertical and conflating man and God.

To put it another way, Hitchens obviously believes that man is not only capable of knowledge (and therefore truth), but even the ultimate knowledge that permits him to absolutely deny the Creator. Thus, in his own weird way, he insists that man's intellect is indeed an adeqation (or mirror) not only to reality, but ultimate reality. If man is uniquely capable of pronouncing on ultimate reality, what does that make him? Certainly not a Darwinian beast!

Schuon asks, "whence comes this demigod who accuses, and whence his power to accuse?" For "if the accuser himself is right, this must mean that man is not so bad and that there exists within him a capacity for adequation" (emphasis mine).

Which is precisely the Raccoon's missionary position: that the human intellect is an adequation to reality, not a passive reflection of the Darwinian environment, nor a mirror of the "material world," whatever that could mean in the so-called "mind" of a materialist.

Hitchens' views on religion are not only wrong but absurd, and the only way he can maintain them is through his snarling contempt for religious doctrines that are even more stupid than his own (and fortunately for Hitchens, there is never a shortage of those, any more than there is a shortage of political, artistic, or cultural stupidity).

There is nothing in Hitchens' metaphysic that would permit "a sudden burst of intellectual and moral objectivity [to] come about in a merely biological and quantitative development" (Schuon). Rather, if man is capable of objectivity and adequation, it could not be explained by the radical contingency of atoms in the void or genes on the make.

There is so much more one could say about Hitchens' crippling infirmity, but this is obviously not about him; rather, it is about mankind and its proneness to intellectual heresy. For the fact that man's intellect is indeed an adequation to the Absolute -- something with which Hitchens, in his hubris, implicitly maintains -- then this is a "refutation of the ideologies of doubt" and cynicism. Rather, "if a man is able to doubt, it is because there is certainty," just as "the very notion of illusion proves that man has access to reality" (Schuon).

No mere animal could have the trajectory of Hitchens' life, at the end of which it reflects upon itself and thinks, "boy, I had a melon full of illusions 40 years ago, but now I finally know reality and the truth of my species!" Animals can only deviate from their archetype, not spend their life evolving toward it and becoming wiser.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Journey to the Center of the Cosmos

If we were to define the capital intellectual heresy -- an adolescent peter pandemic in our day and age -- it would have to be the denial of the Absolute, and with it, the negation of the multitude of archetypal "relative absolutes" that give boundaries and meaning to human existence.

The immediate corollary is that all is relative, which immediately renders the mind that believes this stupid, for it posits the intrinsic absurdity -- and strict impossibility -- of "absolute relativism." (For those who might be a little slow on the uptake or haven't yet had their coffee, to affirm that "all is relative" is self-refuting, for it posits its own uniquely privileged absolute truth.)

But the intellectual left is willing to barter away the above referenced celestial boundaries in order to gain "permission," so to speak, to believe anything on earth they wish. Thus, omniscience is covertly transferred from God to man, even while the absolute relativist denies that he's doing anything special, just seeing "what's there." But once one denies the intrinsic meaning that is generated between man and his archetype(s), one is "free" to substitute any old manmade meaning one wishes.

At the end of the deity, this is the central argument of the existentialists, who insist that, since we are not "created," we must create ourselves. Every moment faces us with choices through which we forge ourselves on the anvil of existence.

In other words, our inclinations and choices do not emanate from some prior essence, i.e., our soul (although some of them essentialize the godlike genome, and attribute our choices to it). Nor do we create a "soul," since there is no such thing. Rather, in the flatland view, there are only beings and choices, which ultimately reduces to the "nothing" of Sartre's magnum dopiate, Being and Nothingness.

Thus, when an existentialist talks about "freedom," it is by no means similar to what America's founders meant by the term; really, the existentialists should get another word, because Sartre is correct that freedom can have absolutely no meaning if it doesn't bear on a higher reality (believing otherwise is an act of "bad faith").

Sartre was closer to the mark when he called it nausea, that existential dyspepsia that results from our being condemned to the nothingness of radical freedom. But in reality, man is condemned to transcendence, a truth that is proven by its every denial. (Thus Eckhart's ironic and misunderstood wise crack about how every blasphemer praises God.)

In a comment yesterday, our wisely anonymous troll expressed the existentialist view of my mid-20s, affirming his belief that "philosophy has been going for 2500 years or more and hasn't produced a single answer to anything." Again, such a boneheaded conclusion forms the gelatinous underpinning of all forms of secular leftism, since it allows the leftist to make of reality -- and of human beings, which is where the real nightmare comes in -- anything he wishes.

In other words, since a human being has no essence and no truth, the left is free to use the instrument of the state to form man into whatever he desires.

Note also the critical point that for the leftist, truth ultimately reduces -- and must reduce -- to power, since thinking (which is the essence of philosophy) cannot produce "a single answer to anything." It reminds me of a film noir -- I can't think of the name -- in which the head mobster tells one of his beefy underlings something to the effect of, I think. You hit. As we can see, nothing has changed about the "Chicago way."

Thus we clearly see the left wing convergence of freedom and nothingness; indeed, you might even say that on the political spectrum, the left shades off into the black nothing that represents the indiscriminate con-fusion of all colors, while the right (by which I specifically mean contemporary conservative classical liberalism) converges upon the white light -- i.e., the Absolute -- that, upon contact with being, breaks out into the diverse colors of terrestrial existence.

For the absolutist, "color" reminds us of God's immanence in the reignbelow, while pure Light reminds us of his transcendence in the reignabove, which form the two poles of our vertical prismhouse. A color is just "light," but not the Light -- just as a ray of sunlight that reaches the earth is nothing other than the sun, even though we can still draw an ontological distinction between it and its source in the sun "above."

But please note that you cannot draw any such existential line between sunlight and Sun, for any such line is arbitrary, a product of human convention. Furthermore, if a flatlander were to say that we are all "inside the sun," he certainly wouldn't mean what a Raccoon means by the same statement. This is an example of how the flatlander can be technically correct -- or correct on one plane -- while being not even wrong on another, as with his kooky statements about man's "freedom."

There was a brief time that I suppose I was an existentialist, or at least trying to be. It was actually before I entered graduate school, at a time when I was still completely unformed intellectually. On the one hand, I had no correct answers, but at least I didn't yet have any incorrect ones, certainly nothing I could really articulate and defend in any comprehensive manner.

As I have mentioned before, when I was around 23 or so, some kind of intellectual light unexpectedly switched on in my soul (or, one could say that my soul, or what Aurobindo calls the "psychic being," began moving to the forefront), and I began devouring philosophy, psychology, and classic literature.

Naively assuming that philosophy, like science, was a kind of linear enterprise, I assumed I could just skip the old and presumably discredited stuff (Aquinas? Please. Give me a break.) and get right to the latest findings, so to speak. (This is when I also plunged into the shallow end of new age psychological thought, again assuming that it completely superseded the dark ages prior to the late 1950s or so.)

But fortunately for me, since this philosophical adventure had been rooted in a spontaneous movement of the soul -- as opposed to any extrinsic cause such as good grades, tenure, employment, esteem, etc.), my soul could find no rest in existentialism. Rather, it quickly broke free of those finite boundaries of absolute freedom, and continued the infinite adventure of consciousness toward the Absolute -- the old eros shot into the heart of being.

The original desire for the good takes its energy from the ever-pulsating momentum of that Origin in which man, answering the creative call of God, flew across the abyss which parts nothingness from existence. It is the moment with which the possible bursts forth with a roar into the radiant dawn of its first realization: the swift current of a stream that originating in the bright darkness of mere Nature and steadily fed by its source, crosses by the dictates of innate conscience into the realm of freedom --Josef Pieper

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.