Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Birth of a Cosmos: Cosmogeny Recapitulates Psychogeny

Back in the womb from which I came, I had no God and was merely myself. --Meister Eckhart, speaking of his own womb with a pew

Is the human species "maturing" -- which is to say, evolving -- with time? Consider the "Muslim world," which is either more or less mature than the West as a whole. It is a yes or no question, but in order to answer it, one must have either an implicit or explicit theory of human development, as every developmental theory is guided by a telos, i.e., an end toward which the organism is striving. Thus, in order to know whether mankind is evolving, one must first understand the purpose of the human station.

Dr. Sanity believes that millions of Muslims suffer from "Teddy Bear Syndrome" (coined by Victor Davis Hanson), which is "the tendency of many Muslims to judge Westerners and those who do not adhere to Islam as 'blasphemous' when they exercise freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of choice, and freedom of religion; and to react in an intolerant, inappropriate and violent rage, demanding death or some other extreme punishment for the accused."

Yes, Teddy Bear Syndrome shares many similarities to left wing political correctness, so it must be a variant of a potential that is present in everyone, a primitive impulse that must be "outgrown" -- like throwing temper tantrums when you don't get your way, or ramming through complex legislation that no one has read, or suing to overturn the 2000 presidential election. The TB syndrome is why nowhere in the West does one find more intellectual immaturity than on an elite university campus.

But fortunately, most people are not left wing university professors. Yet.

Regarding the etiology of Teddy Bear Syndrome, Dr. Sanity writes that part of the problem results from the failure of Islam "to evolve from its medieval and primitive origins" (emphasis mine). But on any traditionalist view -- including traditional Christianity -- religion does not evolve. Rather, the whole point is that it is fixed and final. However, just like everything else, scripture looks very different to a developmentally mature mind than it does to an immature one.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I gave up childish ways. First the milky way; then the meaty way.

The psychological immaturity of the Islamic world is generally mirrored by a pseudomature response by the "liberal" West. As Hanson writes, "the reaction to this madness is now stereotyped. Often apologies -- not condemnation -- follow from contrite Westerners. To prevent a recurrence, Western writers, filmmakers, teachers and religious figures quietly edit their work and restrict their speech -- but only when Islam is involved."

When this happens, it is analogous to allowing the baby to run the household. Children naturally try to manipulate parents, but a good parent knows how to set boundaries and to be consistent. However, over the past 40-50 years, especially with the Baby Boomer generation, these psychological boundaries have been discarded, which has resulted in an indiscriminate blending (as opposed to a true synthesis or integration) of the sexes and generations, and of high and low.

One of the reasons for this is that the Baby Boom generation may have been the first to actually prevail in the perennial battle between adults and children, thus providing no check on the tendency toward omnipotence. In other words, in prevailing in the Oedipal struggle, they lost, for the downside of vanquishing Father is that one ends up orphaned.

Yes, some positive things obviously came out of the 1960s, but one of the most baleful ones was the Genderless Adultolescent. This is a person who by definition can never be mature, but only give the appearance of being so. It is much more difficult to be a Genderless Adultolescent on the right, whereas it is more or less normative on the left, as exemplified by their current low-standard bearer. Anyone who reads left wing blogs knows this is so.

As for myself, being primarily a vertically oriented person, I think of politics -- as it typically plays out -- as a distraction from reality. On the one hand, I do not conflate salvation with conservative political success. Rather, it's just that the left is so incredibly dangerous and destructive on every level -- intellectual, economic, psychological, and spiritual -- that it must be combatted. In fact, most conservatives would prefer to ignore politics and be left alone to enjoy their lives, but this would be irresponsible so long as the left pursues its antihuman agenda with such religious fervor.

The problem with most history, even to this day, is that it is too sweeping and general, and ignores the reality of the unconscious and the insights of developmental psychology. It makes it difficult to comprehend something as fundamentally irrational as Islamism. The left, for example, treats Islamism as a rational response to something we have done, which seems like "empathy" or sensitivity but is actually the very opposite, a kind of self-congratulatory indulgence of an enraged child.

In One Cosmos I quoted John Bowlby, one of the early pioneers of attachment theory, who wrote that "The truth is that the least-studied phase of human development remains the phase during which a child is acquiring all that makes him most human. Here is still a continent to conquer."

Similarly, Tolstoy wrote that "From the child of five to myself is but a step. But from the newborn baby to the child of five is an appalling distance." Or the anthropologist Norbert Elias: "It seems as if grown-up people, in thinking about their origins, involuntarily lose sight of the fact that they themselves and all adults came into the world as little children. Over and over again, in the scientific myths of origin no less than the religious ones, they feel impelled to imagine: In the beginning was a single human being, who was an adult."

But in reality, In the beginning is a neurologically incomplete, helpless little baby, utterly dependent upon caretakers who may or may not be up to the task of raising him, and who themselves bear the unconscious scars of their own childhood trauma. Thus, it is not so much that "in the beginning is the baby" as "in the beginning is the dynamic relationship between an unformed nervous system that will develop (or fail to develop) its potential in rapport with its caretakers."

Take the myth of Genesis, for example. This can be misleading, since it begins with the creation of a male adult, followed by a female adult (who comes out of the male), and lastly, a couple of children.

But in reality, the reverse is true: first there is a baby, out of which comes the mother, who then bifurcates (from the infant's point of view) into a mother and father. In other words, the baby cannot possibly imagine that the mother gave birth to him, as doing so would require abstract language, boundaries, a conception of linear time, the differentiation between inside and outside, etc.

Rather, as Winnicott observed, there isn't actually such a thing as a baby (at least as far as the baby is concerned). Instead, there is a true union of mother and infant, a (hopefully) harmonious psychological matrix (matrix being etymologically linked to womb) through which the baby will eventually "discover" the mOther -- and only later her consort, who is Fa(r)ther away in developmental time.

Fascinatingly, Genesis is psychospiritually capacious enough to be supplemented with the infant's view of the cosmic situation. This was an idea developed by James Grotstein, but it is also implicit in the interpretations of some mishnavous rabbis who view Genesis as an orthoparadox about man's movement from psychological infancy and dependence to maturity and independence.

As Kass writes, "Eating from the tree certainly produces a death of innocence. Through judgmental self-consciousness, human beings become self-separated; the primordial childlike, unself-divided, and peaceful state of the soul 'dies.' Thanks to reason and freedom, protoman becomes a different being -- the old one dies. This death, repeated in every human life, we have all experienced for ourselves; the contented and carefree life that we knew as innocent children is in fact permanently lost to us, the inevitable result of our rise to self-conscious knowledge of good and bad."

The rabbinical tradition often turns scripture inside-out or upside-down in order to squeeze out a little additional wisdom. Don't worry, scripture is resilient. It can handle rough play, and will return to its original shape. In Grotstein's case, he begins with the psychological fact of infantile omnipotence. One can argue whether or not God is omnipotent, but infants certainly are, for how could they know otherwise?

Thus, the omnipotent baby (again, from the baby's point of view) is quite obviously the creator of the cosmos, including its mother and father. Clearly, a brand new cosmos comes into being with the birth of every child, does it not? There is no cosmos at all in the absence of consciousness, so it is simply an existential fact that cosmogenesis is repeated afresh with every newborn baby: cosmogeny recapitulates psychogeny, so to speak.

Here is another aped quote from the Coonifesto, this one from David Darling, author of Equations of Eternity: "[W]e may reasonably view an infant's dawning of awareness on two levels: as a consciousness arising in the individual and, simultaneously, in the universe as a whole.... we can watch an incredibly condensed version of the growth of awareness on this planet, and in the cosmos, in each developing child."

But only if you are a sensitive parent. Isn't this a big part of the joy of parenting, re-participating in the birth of a fresh new cosmos, as your child -- and his world -- changes from day to day? Jesus made so many sensitive comments about children and about the relationship between a child's consciousness and spiritual awareness, that it's a little surprising that people fail to make the explicit connection.

God is the newest thing there is; the youngest thing there is. God is the beginning, and if we are united to him we become new again.... My soul is as young as the day it was created. Yes, and much younger! --Meister Eckhart

Monday, November 15, 2010

If Good Times are Bad, What Makes a Lifework Leafing?

I try to take human beastlings as I find them, not as I wish them to be. And I find humanity at large to be a pretty appalling bunch. Half of them, anyway. Half the time. In any given school year, the class is half fools.

Does this make me a misanthrope? Hardly. There is a stark distinction between objectivity and cynicism -- or idealization, for that matter -- neither of which is an acceptable stance for the truth seeker. One of the major differences between conservatives and liberals is that the former tend to love people but believe mankind stinks, while the latter love mankind but have no use for the actual people whom they wish to dominate and control.

In his book Human Accomplishment, Charles Murray writes that "We human beings are in many ways a sorry lot, prone to every manner of vanity and error. The human march forward has been filled with wrong turns, backsliding, and horrible crimes."

Nevertheless, he takes the nuanced Raccoon position that "in its grand sweep, it has indeed been a march forward. On every dimension, the last half-dozen centuries in particular have brought sensational improvement which, with qualifications, continues to this day."

In the book, Murray attempts to quantify the great things humans have accomplished, but it seems that for every achievement there is an equal and opposite monument to our depravity. He asks, "What can Homo sapiens brag about -- not as individuals, but as a species?"

He notes, for example, that military accomplishment is out of the question, since "putting 'Defeated Hitler' on the human resumé is too much like putting 'Beat My Drug Habit' on a personal one." He also rules out mere governance and commerce, since these "are akin to paying the rent and putting food on the table" as it pertains to our species as a whole.

In other words, these are things human beings must do in order to survive and prosper. They are not so much accomplishments as prerequisites for them. What took (and continues to take) so long for mankind to simply get out of its own way? (In fact, I would actually put successful commerce high on the list of accomplishments, as it is something that the vast majority of human beings -- most especially the tenured -- not only do not understand, but actively interfere with, e.g., Keynes, Krugman, & other Krackpots.)

Now, this progressive view of mankind goes directly against the traditionalist view of a degenerating mankind. Again, traditionalists locate perfection in the past, to such an extent that they often seem to think their thesis requires no empirical support.

For example, in The Order of the Ages, Bolton writes, "We think today about progress, and about how much society has advanced in the last few decades, but the evidence for this could equally well be used to argue that these are times of extreme decadence, when all natural and human standards have been overturned and we await the inevitable dissolution of all that the modern mind has created. Either we are moving toward new, higher standards of science and civilization or we stand at the very end of an era, on the verge of Apocalypse."

Bolton believes the latter, but on the third hand, both could be true: as we proceed through time, the polarity or tension within the human soul just becomes more and more extreme:

There was a bright light,
A shattering of shop windows
The bomb in the baby carriage
Was wired to the radio

The news of most any day reminds us of this ironic polarity, that "these are the days of miracle and wonder," so "don't cry baby, don't cry." For every Simon there's a Garfunkel, and yet, the two together create a third that is more successful than either.

Murray writes that "the human capital for great accomplishment and the underlying human attraction to excellence are always with us, but environments for eliciting great accomplishment are not."

I mentioned this the other day in the context of the so-called Palestinians, a culture so depraved that it literally provides the individual no opportunity to even be adequate, let alone excellent. Rather, it demands madness, bloodlust, sadism, hatred, and depravity, which has probably been true of most human cultures down through the ages. Just as he is free to choose evil over good, man, because he can know, can know many things that aren't so. And most of what he knows falls into this latter category.

Michael Novak writes of a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D’Souza on the subject of atheism:

"In it, I heard Christopher describe his own view of the world, which may be abbreviated as follows: It was just 100,000 years ago that humans finally appeared on this planet. On average, these poor creatures died by age 25, and suffered (often horribly) from disease, earthquake, flood, famine, and cyclones -- not to mention murder and warfare. Only after some 96,000 years does Jewish history begin, and only after some 98,000 years does Christian 'salvation' come. For all those thousands of years the Creator/Designer left human beings to suffer. Then, even after Judaism and Christianity arrive, the suffering continues almost unabated. In addition, these poor human beings are badly designed. They have developed too much adrenaline, and the frontal lobes of their brains are too small. All these together leave humans in a bleak condition in a bleak world, and with very little hope."

Now, I happen to agree with Hitchens, at least as far as he goes. In fact, so does the Pope in a recent encyclical. Novak writes that

"Benedict agrees that the condition of humans before the Jewish and Christian news of God’s intentions was as bleak as Hitchens says. The idea of progress was not present in consciousness.... The idea that each human is free in his individual conscience -- not the conscience solely of city, tribe, or even family -- had not been introduced. The idea that the human mind is proportioned to the world as it is, and capable, in the image of the Creator, of creating new inventions, discoveries, and means of progress in history, had not yet been grasped by the mind of humans."

So Pope Benedict is obviously not a traditionalist in the Guenon/Schuon sense, but a crypto-Coon who recognizes genuine progress and therefore doesn't blow up the baby with the bombwire. He knows that progress has occurred, but at the same time, that it is never enough to satisfy the soul of man. But don't cry, baby. Novak continues:

"Even the human capacity for invention and technological progress, we find, is not a consistent bearer of hope. Humans remain both free and also drawn to self-love, arrogance of power, irrational ambitions, and moral decadence.... Thus, at any time even instruments of great good can be turned into instruments of unparalleled evil. Of this we had much evidence during the 20th century.... [T]he horrific evils that millions experienced in the last hundred years required more than logic, science, and crazy utopian ideas. Hitchens and others are free to accept or to reject the hope that Judaism and Christianity implant in the souls of many. The fact is that this Jewish and Christian hope, once it became the driving force of Mediterranean and European civilization, produced an unrivaled and enduring burst of optimism, inquiry, and stunning progress."

So we come back to what I stated at the outset of this post about taking man as I find him: "Judaism and Christianity have the advantage of dealing with the world as it is. They take it with all its hurt and folly, stupidity and egotism, natural disasters and disasters by human hands. Both faiths prepare their daughters and sons to face a vale of tears, to meet much suffering equably, to keep their hopes unbroken no matter what, and to show courage worthy of the children of the True God. For both faiths, suffering is an irremovable fact of life."

I would suggest that you're lucky to be alive during an era when you can say It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, because for most of human history, it has mostly been the latter, which leads to something like this sentiment: "It is the worst of times, but we remember the best of times, even if they only exist in myth and story."

Traditionalists, insofar as I am able to determine, believe in a literal "best of times," a "golden age" that had no simultaneous and intrinsic "worst of times."

But those on the left believe in an insane mirror image of this: that these are the worst of times and that we can perfect mankind and build a utopia which will be the best of times.

But to paraphrase something very infallible that the Pope said a few years ago, before he was even Pope, "the loss of transcendence leads to the flight to utopia." The leftist program is a surefire way to create a true worst of times, as they proved time and time again in the 20th century. A Jew in Nazi Germany or a political prisoner in the Soviet Union, or Cuba, or China, can be forgiven for believing "these are the worst of times, full stop."

So a Raccoon believes that the very conditions of our human existence somehow necessitate this outwardly absurd tension of good times, bad times, of which I've certainly had my share. Yes, the song and dance remains the same, even if you can't dance to to the song. For what is a Led Zeppelin, anyway? It's really a promethean lead balloon, which might get you high, but not for long. "Oh the humanity!"

In the days of my youth
I was told what it means to be a man,
Now I've reached that age
I've tried to do all those things the best I can.
But no matter how I try,
I find my way into the same old jam.

Of course you do, pagan! There's only one way out, and it's not in the past, nor is it in the future.

James Joyce planted it in zoso many pages: perpetual fall and redemption, and irreconcilable dualities within a cyclical but spiraling time that mixes darkness and light, AKA the Nightmare of History:

The fall of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. (Those broken financiers who leapt from Wall Street buildings in 1929 only fell back to the earth, same as the high flying bubble-blowers of 80 years later.)

Hohohoho, Mister Finn, you're going to be Mister Finnagain! Comeday morm, and, O, you're vine! Sendday's eve and, ah, you're vinegar! Hahahaha, Mister Funn, you're going to be fined again! (The same vine produces wine and vinegar, for every fun there's an equal and opposite fine, and every fin, or end, is a new finnagain, or beginning.)

Gricks may rise and Troysirs may fall (there being two sights for ever a picture) for in the byways of high improvidence that's what makes lifework leaving and the world's a cell for citters to cit in. (Cit is the sanskrit word for consciousness, which is simultaneously liberation and prison.)

And even if Humpty shell fall frumpty times as awkward again... there'll be iggs for the brekkers come to mournhim, sunny side up with care. (Fall and rise, fall and rise, olden pneumagain, same old same old, to break from the infertile eggheads you've got to om a lot -- in your own way, of course.)

The movibles are scrawling in motions, marching, all of them ago, in pitpat and zingzang, for every busy eerie whig's a bit of a torytale to tell. (Every political program's got a bit -- or more than a bit -- of its opposite, so don't get all excited when one end of the sleazesaw is up. Fascism, the lust for control over others, is in the human heart, so every loving lefty is the frightful righty he fears, just as every hysterical olbermann's a banal undertaker.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

When Small Men Cast Long Shadows, Darkness is Approaching...

... yeah, but so too is a new dawn.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Time: What It Is and What To Do About It

Although we have a single word for it -- "time" -- it has three equally distinct and mysterious modes (past-present-future) which appear to be as different from each other as, say, mind is from matter. If one considers mind and matter apart from each other, it seems that there could be no way to put them together. And yet, there they are harmoniously entwined in Life, living in wholly matterimany.

The point is that mind and matter are human abstractions, just as are past, present and future. In fact, life is a kind of link between spirit and nature, just as the present is a link between past and future. But this is to speak only horizontally. There are also vertical links throughout (↓↑), both in time and space (another duality that can only be artificially abstracted, for if One is present, so too is the Other).

The present is the "place" where the past brings the future into being (→), but also where the the future flows into the now and becomes the past (←). As Bolton writes, "everything in the past was once future, and then present; everything present was future and will be past; and everything future will be present and then past."

Based upon this, the past would appear to be fixed, but is this really so? Not if the past is inherently entangled with the future. Future events can occur which will give the past an entirely different meaning, always predicated on human choices in the now. For example, if one wrote a history of the 19th century prior to World War I, it would look very different than a history written after World War I, because only as more of the future became the past could one understand events that were implicit in the past, but yet to play themselves out in time.

In other words, the past had hidden potentials that were still playing themselves out in the future. As Bolton writes, "the contents of the past are thus in constant change by virtue of their changing relationship to the present."

In so many ways, the mission of MSM state-run media is to enclose the now so as to define the past and therefore control the future. But that's a subject for a different post.

In physics, there is only a one-way arrow of change, from past to future. But as Bolton explains, "to give the experience of change," time "must form a combination of static and dynamic elements. A time series which consisted of pure dynamism could not supply any kind of experience because every element in it would have become something else before it could be known." Alternatively, "a purely static time would not be temporal at all. Only a mingling of the changing with the unchanging can constitute time..."

This is why I not only believe music to be the most adequate way available to us to think about time, but why we are so drawn to it: because it reveals the very form of time, which in turn brings inherent pleasure, similar to the epistemophilic pleasure of discovery, or "erotics of being." We love it because it is true, or conveys principial truth about the nature of things.

In short, the ear can tell us much more about time than the eye, but all of science is biased more toward the eye in its mapping of reality. Indeed, science ultimately aims to map all of reality in such a way that it specifically excludes time.

For example, a "grand theory of everything" would consist of a single equation that unifies all of the forces in physics -- forces which result in the "illusion" of time. But what if the cosmos is more like a grand symphony, which has a complex vertical structure (i.e., the "spatial" chords) and a more open and horizontal "melodic" aspect that wends its way through the chords, like a jazz soloist?

Zuckerkandl writes that "The knowledge of space that hand and eye possess is exactly matched by their ignorance of time.... A true image of time must be an image for the ear, an audible image made of tones.... Thanks to music, we are able to behold time."

Now, a work of serious music is obviously a "whole," but it is again a temporal whole with a complex array of vertical and horizontal relations. In fact, in rereading Eliot's Wasteland yesterday, I could hear how very "musical" it is, with complex motifs recurring and commenting upon one another as the poem unfolds, just as in a symphony. Thus, it seems that poetry in general would represent a closer approximation to the structure of reality than any ordinary linear prose.

I am sure this is what Schuon means when he says that a simple believer in literal creationism is surely closer to the truth than any form of materialism can ever be. To say that Genesis is "poetry" is hardly to denigrate it; rather, it is to point out that it employs the appropriate modality to even begin to talk about ultimate reality. It does not pretend to be able to capture the unsayable in language (unless you have no poetic sense and have missed the point), but to use what can be said to disclose what otherwise can't be said or even thought about.

The word became flesh and dwelt among us. Language, like music, is deployed in time. Because of this, you cannot comprehend the meaning of a statement by analyzing its constituent parts, i.e., by breaking it down into its individual words and letters. It is not that the words and letters additively reveal a meaning; rather, they are all in the service of a higher meaning, and were chosen for the very purpose of conveying it.

Here again, much of the pleasure in writing is searching for and "discovering" the correct word or phrase for the meaning one wishes to convey, very much as a musician will try to find the proper notes to say what he wishes to say in a solo. This is one more reason there can never be "artificial intelligence" except in its linear sense, but never in the holistic way in which the higher mind operates.

Consider the vast differences between a chess-playing computer program and a chess master. The computer program must consider trillions of possibilities before deciding on a single move, whereas "even the greatest human player considers at most a few thousand, and usually far fewer." Thus, this "billion-to-one advantage in calculating power is nullified by the human grandmaster's power of understanding" (National Review). It is this depth of understanding that instantaneously excludes literally billions of blind alleys.

As does a profound philosophy of life. In particular, I'm thinking again of how revelation is intended to provide a musical structure with which one may adequately play the "cosmic suite." No computer program could ever do this, because in life, the choices multiply exponentially as compared to a chess match. How do we reduce the chaos to meaning, without reducing meaning to meaninglessness, as does scientism?

Religion begins with the idea that ultimate meaning exists, and that it is this meaning that "sponsors," so to speak, all of the meaning we encounter on a moment-to-moment basis, no matter how trivial. Meaning is meaningful because Meaning is always there propping it up; or words are there (including everything from DNA to the mathematical constants that govern physical reality) because the Word is there "behind," "beneath," "within," or "above" them. "Meaning" and "Wholeness" are two aspects of the same principle, since meaning is only grasped by sensing the wholeness of parts.

In fact, in the absence of wholeness there could obviously be no parts, because they wouldn't be parts of anything. They would be their own wholes, which is what existentialism pretends to be on the human plane, in which each person is a total assoul.

This is patently true of "spatial" objects, but what about temporal ones? If we try to analyze time by dissecting it into its constituent parts, do we not eliminate the very melody we are attempting to hear, the Song Supreme? This is the domain of metahistory, which is apparently no longer fashionable, except that it actually is, in the same way that the Left presents us with a counterfeit version of any profound truth. Leftism is like an inverted mirror of falsehood, through which deep truths are presented upside down and backwards, for example, the doctrine of materialism. Materialsm is just an ass-backward religion that starts at the wrong end of reality and proceeds to elevate its absurd error to an absolute.

But the moment one treats parts in an atomistic way, as if they are unrelated in time, one has falsified reality. This is precisely why physicists are powerless to understand the most profound and shocking facts of the universe, e.g. Life, Mind and Spirit. They cannot even discuss these things without a priori turning them into something they are not. But as we wrote in OCUG, "Only by changing our perspective to a 'top down' one, from spirit to mind to life to matter, does the cosmos become intelligble in its totality, a totality that unquestionably includes biological and psychological dimensions."

Thus, in the Raccoon view, "when we talk about a 'relationship' between Life and the cosmos, we are dealing quite literally with a tautology, a statement of equivalence." Given the temporal entanglement of the cosmos, in order to not mislead, we cannot refer only to "the universe," but to something along the lines of "the living universe" or "the universe in the process of becoming locally conscious," because only in such a way do we not exclude the most important fact of the cosmos, i.e, the observer expressing this truthful statement.

The universe is intrinsically and not just accidentally conscious. It has never been unknown to human beings that this can be proven in mystical experience, but I believe it can also be proven through transrational logic. Certain things must be, and one of them is that our individual consciousness partakes of a much greater consciousness, in the same way that our little ego relates to the cosmic Dreamer who dreams us. One image Alan Watts used to employ is that of a lampshade with hundreds of pinholes. Viewed from the outside, it will look as if there are hundreds of little lights, but in reality, there is only the one bulb at the center.

Oh yes, about that little "slot" where we dilate time and gain a more expansive view of the cosmic goings-on. Mouravieff writes that this slot is like a keyhole -- or key to the whole -- that opens many mysteries.

I've written about this before -- about the "A influences" and the "B influences," the former coming "from the world," the latter from outside or "above" it.

One of the first steps in any spiritual practice is, of course, to tap into a stream of B influences, through which one begins to liberate oneself from the chaotic A influences (which are alternatively coercive, seductive or hypnotic, but always average out to "zero"). As one begins to actualize one's own latent esoteric center (which I symbolize as (¶) in my book), it proceeds to operate as its own "magnetic center" which draws nonlocal assistenance from other Coons, both living and technically dead. Now that you are plugged into Coon Central, I am sure this has become a basic fact of your day-to-deity life.

I can't possibly do justice to this topic in a slotted time, but let's just highlight the fact that spiritual knowledge can never be reduced to "know how" in the absence of "be who," for it always involves an expansion of being, not merely the accumulation of intellectual knowledge, or (k).

Furthermore, once this be-who (n) is assimilated, it works on us in a way that (k) never can; in this regard, it is much more analogous to medicine, or perhaps a catalytic enzyme. But as it figuratively impregnates us, it literally impregnates us, and in spirituality one can definitely be "a little bit pregnant," as (¶) grows and expands within our womb with a pew.

Now, the present can be so narrow as to be functionally non-existent for the average person. So distracted is he by the world of A-influences, that the slot of the present -- the only place where be-who can occur -- narrows down to nothing. It might as well be the past, which is why people in thrall to the A influences are technically dead, and why Jesus said that they should just bury their fallow trivialers.

But there is another present -- I believe this is the present Petey was referring to on page 15, where he axes, You haven't perceived the hologram to your private particle? Come in, open His presence, and report for karmic duty. Why, it's a Tree of Life for those whose wood beleaf!

Mouravieff writes that the present "necessarily has extension," but that for exterior man, "this extent is very short.... if we reduce this Present to the zero we think it is, it becomes purely and simply cessation of existence. It is thus that death actually occurs."

Ah ha! Life, therefore, has something do to with the expansion of the present. But for someone who abandons himself to A influences, the gift of the present is taken away. D'oh!

But all forms of concentration, meditation, intellection, and prayer, are aimed at enlarging the present, which is in reality the only "place" that is outside time -- or "above" it, so to speak. If time is a line, this allows us to exist at a right angle to it, where we can begin to perceive time in its fullness, exercise a more profound degree of free will (verticalisthenics), and make deeper connections with the non-temporal realities that vertically flow into time (gymgnostics).

This is what Mouravieff believes Jesus meant when he cracked about the "strait gate": For wide is the door and broad is the path that leads to perdition. Many are they that enter it. For strait is the door and narrow is the Path that leads to life, and few are they that find them.

And this is precisely where Jesus and J.R. "Bob" Dobbs merge, for this narrow path is the way back "upstream" to the source of our cosmic s'laq.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Truth Decay and Other Historical Phallacies

Whether because of my Americanism, my native optimism, or my raccoon genes, I just can't go along with the idea that time is inevitably proceeding in the direction of degeneration and dissolution. Yes, it is a superficially plausible idea, but the fact that it has always been plausible tends to undermine its plausibility.

In other words, I don't think there has ever been a time that people haven't noticed how messed up the world (and its unhappitants) seems to be. I mean, look at some of the lamentations in the Old Testament.

It is difficult to reject a thesis that contains so much truth; then again, it's the same reason I reject natural selection as an all-encompassing paradigm -- plenty of truth there as well, just not THE truth.

Just as natural selection represents a facile way for spiritually unevolved people to avoid straining their brains with metaphysics, the idea of historical entropy is an easy way for more spiritually attuned people to explain the state of the world. For the latter, it is impossible to ignore the gulf between the celestial and terrestrial, or Reality and appearances. But this gulf -- this middle earth -- is where human beings live, and will always live.

So people have always been concerned with the direction of history, which, at any given time, appears to be going badly.

To cite one particularly glaring example, Jesus appeared at a time when it was felt by the Jewish masses that things could hardly get worse. Everyone was anticipating the messiah, convinced that historical degeneration was so complete that the end was near. But according to Bolton's thesis -- and of the traditionalists in general -- ancient Rome would have been much closer to the "Golden Age" than our time. This has always struck me as almost pure fantasy, divorced from historical realities.

Traditionalists seem to feel it is so obvious that history is going in a "negative" direction, that the assertion requires no historical support at all. But if you examine the actual conditions of the average Job living in Ancient Egypt, or Greece, or Rome, or the Middle Ages, it was a horror. However, because the traditionalists are extremely aesthetically- and philosophically-minded, it's as if they make sweeping historical conclusions based upon the most beautiful and lofty objects and thoughts that have survived to this day.

Yes, the Egyptians left us some impressive artwork, no doubt. Then again, they had 5000 years to do it in, a figure so vast that it is inconceivable to us. Frankly, I don't think we can even grasp the fact that when Augustine -- who had the greatest influence on Western thought for 1000 years -- did his writing, it was already going on four centuries after the time Jesus lived. We don't even know all that much about Christianity during its first two-plus centuries, a period of time as long as the United States has existed.

But the further back in history we go, the more we "compress" the time, which not only obscures all of the (often gruesome) details, but ends up being no better than a psychological projection into the past.

Thus, for example, if you are on the depressive, pessimistic, or alienated end of the psychological spectrum, it's easy to conclude that the present more or less blows, since we see all the horrifyng, disgusting detail of our own age up close and personal. One glancing below through the glass-bottomed boat at the sewer of Huffington Post, and one would be forgiven for believing that mankind cannot stink any lower and that the end is at hand.

It's very similar to what psychotherapy patients do on an individual basis. People tend not to consciously remember much before the age of five, and only scattered details between five and nine.

But obviously, life was just as rich and detailed then as it is now -- in fact, more so, since every single day was an alternatively delightful or calamitous novelty, largely depending upon the quality of parenting. Life was overflowing with the fullness and the presence of being, but we just didn't have the language or the concepts to reflect upon it and store it within language. My son is the happiest and most intense person I know, but he'll never remember it, except unconsciously.

Patients who come in for therapy often have what are called "screen memories" of their childhood. They will remember this or that event with great detail, but upon investigation, it will turn out that it is a sort of "composite portrait" of a whole period, rich with symbolic meaning that needs to be "unpacked" and articulated. It's never just a literal memory, but more of a holofractal pneumagraph that can reveal layer upon layer of meaning by "turning" it ever so slightly, like a blinky toy.

Perhaps history is the same way. I know it is for me. It's like a huge black canvas upon which we project things from the present. Since the past is behind us, we imagine that we can take it into our view, but this is obviously impossible. There are huge lacunae that we just fill in with myth and fantasy, much in the same way that we fill the hole in our field of vision, where the optic nerve meets the eye. In a very real sense, it's true: there's nothing new except the history you don't know.

I tried to present just a fraction of the historical evidence of how bad things were in the past in Chapter 3 of One Cosmos, but obviously, that chapter could have been expanded into a whole book. My purpose was simply to make the point and then move on. Either you get it or you don't.

For example, no matter how violent things appear in the present, they simply cannot compare to how violent human beings were in the past. Michael Medved cites statistics indicating that "New York City is on track to have fewer than 500 homicides this year, by far the lowest number in a 12-month period since reliable Police Department statistics became available in 1963.... But within the city’s official crime statistics is a figure that may be even more striking: so far, with roughly half the killings analyzed, only 35 were found to be committed by strangers, a microscopic statistic in a city of more than 8.2 million."

In contrast, according to Lawrence Keely's War Before Civilization, the homicide rate of some prehistoric villages "would have been 1,400 times that of modern Britain or about 70 times that of the United States in 1980." Likewse, the Middle Ages were almost inconceivably violent. We just have no idea how "tame" and domesticated mankind has become in the past several centuries.

Indeed, we have only to look at the contemporary Mohammedans to get a glimpse of the psychotic violence that prevailed in the past. I remember reading about the Crusades recently, during which battles took place where the combatants were knee-deep in blood.

Yesterday I was reading about the sacking of Rome in 410, when the Gothic warriors mercilessly "raped, pillaged and murdered for nearly three straight days." As Dawson writes, the Goths did not regard themselves as barbaric. Rather, "as they understood it, Alaric and his men were loyal Romans and only desired formal recognition as legitimate armed forces." Yeah, like the Palestinians. They just want to be recognized.

I remember reading about Ancient Egypt in a book entitled Slaughter of the Innocents: Child Abuse Through the Ages and Today, and it was a pretty strange place, to put it mildly. Their politics were very different from ours. Especially their erections.

For example, Breiner writes that "The phallus was honored and vitally important in the religious and cultural life of Egypt. The gods are shown with an erect phallus, and a pharaoh was expected to demonstrate in public that he had one, too. At certain ceremonies, the pharaoh would stand before the people and show his erect phallus. Indirectly, this would be shown many times when his erection would lift his loincloth."

By this low-hanging standard, even Bill Clinton was a great defender of the principle of separation of crotch and state, despite what we've heard about the spate of his unions undressed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Progressing Toward the Origin

As we were discussing yesterday, with the scientific revolution, the idea of progress began to be taken for granted in western civilization. It's not so much that progress wasn't occurring -- which it obviously was -- but that it was only a specific type of very visible progress rooted in the scientific method and in technology. This being the case, it became easy to confuse scientific progress with progress as such, just because the former is so visible and quantitative.

The idea of progress contradicted what had been believed by virtually all human groups prior to the scientific revolution, which is that everything was subject to a steady decline and degeneration. There was no "moving forward"; rather, the idea was to try, insofar as possible, to arrest entropy and approximate the Golden Age of the past. Slack was in the rearview mirror, not up ahead, and every day meant further disenslackment on the road to nowhere.

The idea of universal degeneration was no doubt rooted in empirical observation. For example, everyone has the personal experience of their own body aging and degenerating.

More generally, there has never been a time when man was unaware of the universality of the second law of thermodynamics, or entropy, which mandates that in the long run, everything tends toward disorder. Although there can be local areas that seem to defy entropy -- such as biological organisms -- it is only temporary. Furthermore, close examination of seeming exceptions to the law of entropy reveals that they always deplete more energy than they create, resulting in a net loss of energy. (Or at least according to physics; spiritually it is another matter.)

Irrespective of whether or not the phenomenal world is inevitably winding down into chaos, we can see how the very idea of automatic (as opposed to self-willed) progress can lead to increased societal disorder. As Bolton explains, "The belief that the new must be the best nearly always works in favor of the bad." This ironyclad rule has been dramatically proven time and again since "progressivism" made its great leap backward with the New Deal.

The foolish idea of "new = good" is like a virus that, in the long run, will eventually eliminate wisdom and Truth, as we see most vividly on leftist college campuses, where virtually everything is simultaneously new and wrong. And the only solution (as far as they can see) is newer ideas, which only results in further chaos and confusion -- further distance from the ideal, or from principial truth. The idea that Truth lies in the past -- for example, in the Bible -- is laughable to them.

Civilization, according to Bolton "cannot undergo real historical change unless it possesses a structure of permanent principles which impose limits on the possible scope for change."

Indeed, this is something that all classical liberals (i.e., conservatives) realize. The leftist wants radical change, "which is more deeply opposed to real historical change than is institutionalized permanence, since the permanent at least contains the potentiality of change. Universal change, on the other hand, has no potentialities at all, since everything in it is actualized already, so that a final cessation is the only new frontier it could cross."

One important allied idea of Bolton's is that we are wrong to think that we either exist or do not exist; rather, there are degrees of existence, existence being rooted in difference (in other words, there can only be existence to the extent that something is "different," or "stands out").

Thus, for example, the first act of the Creator is to separate. Conversely, any kind of indiscriminate blending of divinely ordained differences is the very definition of evil.

Bolton points out the obvious psychospiritual disaster of blending male and female, and now adult and child, resulting in a potential race of neutered obamalescents. The next illogical step down this slithery sleep into the nihilistic effacement of archetypal differences is "homosexual marriage." (In other words, the whole point of marriage is to preserve and sacralize the differences in a dynamic union, not to efface them.)

Because of the idea of progress, we must -- either consciously or unconsciously -- believe ourselves to be superior to our ancestors. This is very much in contrast to traditional societies, where ancestors -- and the truth they handed down -- are venerated.

Now obviously, neither extreme is warranted, i.e., ancestor worship (which would cause complete stasis) or kneejerk rebellion (which leads to the loss of mankind's accumulated wisdom, or the spiritually fatal disease of the Boomer generation).

But again, we can see how the morally and intellectually superior progressive always knows better than the most illustrious minds of the past. Because of the accident of time, the contemporary progressive can look back, say, at the Founders, and regard them as mere "objects" in his cavalierview mirror. We can see them, but they can't see us.

But this is true only in the most crassly materialistic sense. For example, Shakespeare is "in the past," but do we really know him? No, of course not. His plays will always understand us -- which is to say, humanity as such -- better than we understand him.

Likewise, it is difficult for us to imagine the stupidity of the typical leftist who believes himself superior to the Founders because some of them owned slaves. This is what the idea of progress (wrongly construed) can do to a mind, which is to say, destroy it. Obama is free to critique the Constitution of the Framers; but imagine if they were here to critique him! Upon hearing that this malevolent cipher taught constitutional law, would they ever stop throwing up?

I generally see the same problem in the so-called "integral" thinkers, which is one of the main reasons I don't relate to them. In their dubious color-code system -- well, to quote one of them whose dreadful book I was asked to review, Winston Churchill and Pope John Paul are typical examples of "traditional consciousness," and are therefore lower on the evolutionary scale than the more evolved representatives of "modernist consciousness" such as Carl Sagan and Margaret Sanger. In turn, they are lower than the lofty beings who embody "postmodern consciousness," such as John Lennon, Joan Baez, Margaret Mead, and Allen Ginsberg.

I don't deny that there is some inevitable truth in "spiral dynamics," but any scheme that places Joan Baez above Winston Churchill is not even wrong (unless your criterion is that of the "eternally grating").

Now, one factor that was different about the past is that people were unaware of other religious traditions, let alone genuine science. Therefore, they lived in a kind of "innocence" (which literally means "without knowledge") that is impossible for us to reestablish. If we wish to be "spiritual," we must do so consciously. Therefore, in some sense we are obviously more "awake" than our ancestors, but the question is, to what?

Bolton writes that one compensatory factor for us is that in the past it was "really only a minor achievement to live spiritually in an age when spiritual values are established and expressed everywhere and the unspiritual is marginalized." (Just as, conversely, it is no big achievement today for a high school student to understand the physics of Newton.) There was a collective religiosity, but this generally came at the expense of personal development, or individuation in a spiritual context.

Bolton even makes the provocative suggestion that the true way is only fully realized when everything is more or less opposed to it. Thus, in this respect, perhaps we have the potential to travel "higher" than our (average) ancestor, if only because it is so exceedingly difficult to do so.

I suppose it's analogous to exercising where there is more gravity, say, on the earth as opposed to the moon. Not only are we "swimming upstream," but we are much further from the source, at least in the horizontal sense; in a relative sense, horizontality takes us further and further from the source, even if, in an absolute vertical sense, it is always the same "distance" away.

And in fact, this is a recurring idea in traditional metaphysics, that the very purpose of "incarnation" is to evolve under adverse circumstances, ultimately to "spiritualize matter." Bolton writes, "Such is the meaning of the Cross, as well as the purpose of ensoulment in the material world." There is an orthoparadox at play here, in that, in one sense, materiality seems to be the furthest distance from spirit.

But as Bolton explains, there is a deeper principle involved, "a law of polarity according to which only the highest cause can extend to the lowest level of effects."

In other words, most causes and effects in the world are in the "middle range," and therefore of little cosmic consequence. Only the highest cause extends to the lowest realm, which perhaps explains why "the meek shall inherit the earth," or why "spiritual bankruptcy" is so often a prerequisite of spiritual conversion. The testimony of thousands of seekers reveals that when you are near the end, you are near the beginning.

One subtle danger of simply "returning to tradition," is that the traditions themselves have been subject to the same corrosive forces of historical entropy that afflict the individual. Let's say we want to "return" to the "original meaning" of Christianity. Doing so is not as easy as it sounds, since Christianity necessarily exists "in the world," and absorbs qualities of the world in order to continue to exist.

As such, Bolton writes that "the function of tradition can actually be inverted under modern conditions," since the monotheistic religions "have each grown increasingly absorbed by their historical social roles, so that it has become an exercise of awareness to relate to the spirit which they nevertheless embody." In my opinion, Tradition is usually defined in hindsight. Could this mean that under the inverted conditions of postmodernity, spiritual evolution is the quintessence of Tradition?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Prehistory, History, Post-history, Trans-history

One thing reasonable people should be able to agree upon is that wisdom exists, that it is a very different thing than "knowledge," and that it tends to inhere in the group as opposed to the individual, since a group's experience will be so much more wide and deep, i.e., extending far into the past and encompassing the knowledge and experience of countless older ansisters and brothers.

No one individual in a single lifetime could possibly experiment with every way of living and determine which was best. You can't start life from "zero," with a pneumacognitive blank slate, any more than you could do so with a genetic one.

Genes, for example, may not embody wisdom per se, but they do encode an inconceivable amount of information about the world in general and about the "average expected environment" in particular. Thanks to our genes, we don't have to learn how to recognize human faces, how to bond with others, or how to speak. Rather, these things will all come naturally if we are simply placed in a human environment.

There was also a time when we didn't have to think too much about philosophy, or about metaphysics, or about God, because it had all been done for us by groups that preceded and enveloped us. It has only been about 300-400 years that religion (in the West, anyway) went from being an unconscious matrix to a conscious enterprise that must be carried out by the individual.

While this creates spiritual obstacles that never existed in the past, it also creates unprecedented upportunities for spiritual growth. For example, the most unsane visionary of medieval times could not possibly have conceived of a day when one could so easily purchase an indulgence over the internet from Petey, my household gnome.

There are two major contemporary obstacles to spiritual growth, materialism, and its corollary, the idea of progress. I'm currently in the middle of a fascinating book that discusses this, The Order of the Ages: World History in the Light of a Universal Cosmogony, by Robert Bolton. Bolton points out that our traditional division of the human adventure into prehistory, history and post-history is not exactly accurate. This is because prehistory didn't really end 5000 years ago, or whenever written records begin.

Rather, for all intents and purposes, prehistory continued until the time of the scientific revolution, which didn't really get underway until the 17th century. Consider, for example, ancient Egypt. Although it is considered a part of history, it "retained the same theocratic form for some five thousand years without any radical or irreversible change in its spiritual or social order."

This is a rather staggering idea to contemplate; I'm not so sure we even can contemplate it, since we are so imbued with the ideas of progress, change, and evolution, which were inconceivable for the ancients.

As Mead suggested in God and Gold, I don't think we understand the extent to which we are all -- religious and secular alike -- living in a world with such radically different assumptions than any humans who existed previously. In short, we are consciously living in history, and must therefore cope with linear, irreversible time, whereas premodern peoples lived in a more timeless state -- or, to be perfectly accurate, a cyclically temporal state that resonated with eternity.

Traditionalists maintain -- and they may well be correct about this -- that this premodern, timeless mode is normative for human beings, and that we were never meant to be where we are "in history." Certainly the numbers are on their side, given that human beings only stumbled into this thing called "history" so recently. Perhaps life is so confusing because we are not supposed to be here -- we literally drifted into this strange temporal viaduct, and now we can't get out or find our way back into the timeless (which is the purpose of religion).

Again, it's almost impossible for us to think in this way, because we have to eliminate from our minds all of the anxiety that goes along with the temporal mode, which is also intrinsically quantitative and materialistic.

For example, we are naturally very concerned with the linear amount of time we spend on the planet -- the quantity of our years -- in such a way that it can eclipse the actual moment-to-moment quality of our life. Part of the reason for this is that in the modern world, quality no longer resonates with eternity, so it might as well be just more quantity.

In other words, in the modern world even quality tends to be reduced to quantity. We can all experience this, for example, in the bland "flattening" of aesthetic qualities. Most everything is constantly "different," and yet, just more of the same.

This especially becomes noticeable if you are able to step outside history and live in a more timeless mode. There is a kind of constant change which, ironically, is no change at all, since change is only possible in light of permanence. If everything is changing, then it is logically equivalent to nothing changing -- like fashion, it's difference without a difference, or mere agitation on the surface. So it's a kind of timelessness, but somehow the opposite of the timeless plenum enjoyed by our premodern furbears. How to describe it? It's sort of an empty plenum or overflowing vacuum, is it not? A cornucrapia of BS.

Now, just when you were getting used the idea of being condemned to history, Bolton points out that we are actually no longer living there. Rather, that ended way back in -- well, people can argue over exactly when history ended, but it was definitely over by the start of the 20th century.

History over? How can that be? World War I, World War II, communism, the British invasion, the collected poetry of Suzanne Somers? Yes, just agitations in the posthistorical void.

Bolton notes that as late as the fourteenth century there was "nothing that need necessarily have led to anything different after another five hundred years, whereas the pattern of changes from the fifteenth century onward was unmistakably cumulative." So that is when history truly began. But it was very, very different from our post-historical situation, since it still resonated with the timelessness that preceded it, and in fact, can be seen as a sort of "prolongation" of those timeless qualities, only now concretized in time.

With the entrance into history proper, Bolton writes that it was as if a damn had burst, so that all of the potential in these eternal ideas flooded out into time. But eventually the force of the "explosion" weakens, until we have reached our present state of exhaustion, in which we are collectively more distant than ever from the living principles that animated our civilization.

To a large extent, time, history, and change are all tied in with the development of science, which, for the first time, introduced real -- and seemingly inevitable -- progress. However, again, our technical progress over the past few hundred years is so "directly demonstrable and tangible" that it "can almost stifle any sense that something else may have been lost at the same time." In fact, Bolton argues that these tangible changes serve to orient us solely to nature, which has the consequence of masking "a relentless loss of both a consciousness and of a spiritual energy of a far more essential kind."

According to Bolton, this has to do with the nature of time and our fall into materiality and quantity, and the consequent historical movement away from a kind of consciousness that is no longer familiar to us. Or, to be perfectly accurate, it is still accessible, but it must be self-willed. For reasons we will get into later, in the post-historical world, consciousness contracts unless active counter-measures are taken.

To be continued....

I have remarked that the materialist, like the madman, is in prison; in the prison of one thought. These people seemed to think it singularly inspiring to keep on saying that the prison was very large.... these expanders of the universe had nothing to show us except more and more infinite corridors of space lit by ghastly suns and empty of all that is divine. -G.K. Chesterton

Monday, November 08, 2010

Purchasing Eternity With the Gift of Time

... God, freedom, unity. Three things which are one, for you cannot realize freedom and unity unless you realize God... --Sri Aurobindo

The question of whether mankind is degenerating or progressing inevitably touches on other fundamental complementarities such as evolution/creation, authority/personal experience, tradition/modernity, science/religion, and ultimately time/eternity. In my view there is a dialectical and generative space between the two poles, where what Mead calls "dynamic religion" may take place.

The central point, I think, is the question of the importance of time. Ironically, both science and a certain kind of religiosity devalue and even dismiss time as illusory and even pointless -- which it must in fact be if, on the one hand, there is only nature, or, on the other, only God.

But I believe time not only serves a metacosmic purpose, but that there can be no eternity in the absence of time, and vice versa. That being the case, there can also be no creation without evolution, no authority without personal experience, and no science without religion (and vice versa).

Put it thisaway: the One breaks out of eternity into two (i.e., duality), but this duality is resolved (and progress occurs) within a dynamic and transitional trinity. Thus, history can be seen as a sort of rolling catastrophe (as in catastrophe theory) in hyperspace, as the many make their winding way back to the One. History is ultimately the straight book that God tries to write with crooked liars.

Let us stipulate that history either has a direction -- and therefore a purpose -- or it doesn't. If it doesn't, then there's no point to anything, including religion. It would be like an endless baseball season with no World Series. Instead of a 162 game season that only seems endless, the season would actually be endless, with a new game every day, day in, day out.

Eventually, players would stop scratching their crotches and begin scratching their heads and ask themselves, "why are we doing this? Why are we playing all these stupid games?"

So the founding gods of baseball bifurcated the teams into a duality which we call the American and National leagues, and then invented this third thing called the World Series in order to create a sense of purpose and finality. Thus, when you win the World Series, you have reached the highest pinnacle, the "absolute," the baseball equivalent of enlightenment, or the toppermost of the poppermost.

But just as in religion, there is apparently more than one Absolute, since there is a new champion each year, and it is not as if the new champion surpasses all the previous ones. The 2010 Giants are not better then the 1954 Giants. Baseballically speaking, both went as high as it is possible to go in this world. Sure, you could argue over which team is better, but that's like arguing over whether Plato or Eckhart was a better hitter.

But in the case of the World Series, deep down some of us realize that it is something we merely invented for the purposes of finality. We simply superimpose it on the individual games, in order to give them a higher meaning, so to speak. Since there is this finality to an otherwise endless season, it creates intensity and drama, very much as does death (the playoffs are exciting because teams are always facing "sudden death").

If you knew you weren't going to die, it would be analogous to an endless baseball season. No, worse than that. Like an endless soccer season. No, worse. An endless soccer game. Just a bunch of people running around in circles ending in a 0-0 tie.

If history has no purpose, then it is bound to get worse, i.e., to degenerate. This is for the same reason that the quality of professional baseball would degenerate in the absence of a World Series. No one would bother acquiring a player to improve their team at the trading deadline, since there would be no deadline. Standings wouldn't matter, since there would be no point to them. Wins and losses would be just like Monopoly money, a symbol of nothing.

To the extent that things are getting worse in the world, could it be linked to the widespread belief among our elite that history has no purpose, no direction, no telos? Interestingly, this is where the secular far left and traditionalist far right converge. As an anonymous commenter mentioned, given his 'druthers, Schuon, the hardcore traditionalist,

"considered a 'totalitarian' [in the traditional religious sense] society preferable to a secular society. Religion, culture, science, art, and soccer, should all be under one heading, if you will. He was obviously opposed to secular totalitarian regimes, like the Nazis or the Soviets, but not religious totalitarian regimes. One can also see this in the leaders he writes positively about -- Charlemagne, Napolean, Franco, and even Lincoln (Lincoln's temporary measures during the Civil War are clearly those of a monarch)."

It seems to me that we have only three choices. One can go along with Schuon and other traditionalists who affirm that timeless and total truth has already been revealed to us, and that it is only for us to conform to it. Alternatively, one can be a member of the psychospiritual left, and maintain that history has no meaning except that which we impose upon it (which is no meaning at all, just self-deception).

Or, you can be one of our pneumacosmic coonfolk and maintain that timeless truth does exist. However, for our purposes, it exists in the future, not the past. Primordial man does indeed gambol above the clouds in the sacred garden atop the cosmic mountain. However, this is not just situated in the longago but the heretocome.

Our intimations of paradise are just that -- they are what Bion called memoirs of the future. Being so, they are the vector that guides history and confers its real meaning: the arc of salvolution through which we are given the uppertunity of a lifetome to dwell in time but to aim our eros at the heart of eternity. Our days are measured, guided, and given meaning by a sense of growing proximity to this sacred, nonlocal ground.

If this dimension is in the "past," then each day that passes is simply a measure of how far we have fallen from the ideal -- a meaning, to be sure, but a kind of "anti-meaning." Again, what's the point except to wait to die?

Conversely, for a member of the psychospiritual left, what's the point except to deny death and lose oneself in the senses? In this view, a Bill Maher or Hugh Hefner are the wisest men on earth.

Now obviously, various Christian theologians emphasize different sides this dialectic, hence the argument between faith and works. If eternity is all that counts, then faith is all that matters. But if history has a purpose, then works take on much more significance.

Long story short, faith and works just have to do with the practical applications of time and eternity.

Manifestly, the unrestrained use of individual illumination or judgment without either any outer standard or any generally recognizable source of truth is a perilous experiment for our imperfect race.... [T]he whole tendency of development of an individualistic age of mankind [goes] back to the one dominant need of rediscovering the substantial truths of life, thought and action which have been overlaid by the falsehood of conventional standards no longer alive to the truth of the ideas from which their conventions started.... [M]an has to circle back towards the recovery of his deeper self and a new upward line or a new revolving cycle of civilization. --Sri Aurobindo

Thursday, November 04, 2010

This is the Moment When the Rise of the Oceans Began $peeding Up Again

Well, rather than trying to edit and wryclean my soiled bobservations in public, I think I'll take another little break. Besides, I have full responsibility for the Boy for the next few days, since Mrs. G. is visiting her mother in Sarasota.

Here he is wrestling some kind of sea monster to a draw (taken with a phone; he ain't really a shiny albino):

But more importantly, if you look closely, you can see that the ocean has already begun to rise again since last Tuesday. Which is good news for me, because it means that in my lifetime I have a chance for beachfront property. I mean, I'm about eight or nine miles inland, but Malibu is only 13 feet above sea level, so you do the math.

This is what I call truly progressive egalitarianism, in that it would leave entertainers such as Barbra Streisand and Mel Gibson -- who have made enough money -- literally underwater in their mortgages, while common folk such as myself would see their property values multiply by a factor of ten or twenty-- a true reversal of the financial world order that should make Marxists happy, if only they were capable of happiness.

Meanwhile, open thread. Suggestions for future topics welcome.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Beyond the Devil and the Deep Blue States

Our Unknown Friend writes that it is the marriage of imagination + will that engenders demons. However, it is actually the union of an intoxicated will and imagination that does so. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with the will so long as it is subordinated to intelligence and virtue, and there is nothing wrong with the imagination so long as it is not unmoored from the images of archetypal truth.

But intoxicated will and imagination always go too far; they release inhibitions and partake of other forces -- usually infrahuman in their origin -- that have nothing to do with the matter at hand.

Again, this is something the left does by definition; since they deny the vertical, it returns in a disguised and perverse form, which provides them with a preternatural energy that conservatives can rarely match. The moment a conservative becomes "ecstatic" about politics, he's no longer a conservative. Intoxication certainly has its place. Just not in politics, where sobriety should rule the tarry night.

Obviously, because of their psychically unbound energy, young people are more prone to the varieties of psychic intoxication (unless they have an unusually developed center), so it is no surprise that Obama took two thirds of the youth vote in 2008 (the vote was 50-50 for actual adults). To paraphrase someone, these children wish to give us the full benefit of their inexperience.

My first presidential vote went to Jimmy Carter, who, for those of you below a certain age, was the Obama of his time. He too promised dramatic change, which came in spades -- soaring inflation, increased unemployment, emboldened enemies, loss of respect in the world, diminished confidence at home. And yet, it didn't matter. I still voted for him again in 1980.

UF points out that even Marx and Engels could have avoided intoxication -- and prevented the birth of a hideous genocidal demon -- if they had actually just considered the plight of the poor in a detached and disinterested way. But instead, they went far, far, over the line, into cloud cuckoo land, insisting that God did not exist, that history obeyed scientific laws, that "all ideology is only a superstructure on the basis of material interests," etc.

It is the same with the Darwinists. If they would just maintain a little sobriety, instead of drunkenly careening into areas in which they have nothing to contribute, all would be well. But like a loudmouthed know-it-all at an academic crocktail party, they just can't stop themselves. They'll tell you everything about love, beauty, truth, God.... It's all wrong, of course, but that's the thing about being drunk -- it feels good.

Of the founding fatherless children of the left, UF writes that "there is no doubt that with them it was a matter of an excess -- a going beyond the limits of competence and sober and honest knowledge -- which they did not in any way doubt, having been carried away by the intoxicating impulse of radicalism."

You must understand that the radical wants to be intoxicated -- with outrage, with self-righteous anger, with smugness, with superiority, with iconoclasm, with fear (e.g., of "domestic spying," or the "theofascistic takeover of the nation"), with the omnipotent demands of "social justice."

And like any other drug, radicalism is addictive because of the feelings it engenders. This, I think, explains why so many of my generation refuse to grow up -- because they are literally addicted to the feelings produced by radicalism, which mimic transcendence, only from below.

For example, they do not want racism to be over. For a white liberal, it gives such an intoxicating feeling of being on the side of righteousness, that it's impossible for them to let it go. For you Raccoons of color out there, you probably realize that every white liberal condescendingly imagines that he is noble Atticus Finch, and that you are poor helpless Tom Robinson.

By the way, a boneheaded -- and intoxicated -- commenter compared opposition to the redefinition of marriage to racism. But opposition to "gay marriage" isn't learned. Rather, it is innate, i.e., in conformity to the cosmic law. Anyone with a rightly ordered soul is naturally opposed to it. Rather, they have to unlearn what is natural and normal in order to be passionately pro-homosexual marriage.

I well remember being innocently "homophobic" as a boy, but I was never racist. In reality, I had no idea what a homosexual was. Rather, it was just the innate knowledge that boys should act like boys -- that there was an ideal to which we should aspire. Boys who didn't were suspect. It was a kind of mutual self-policing, like fighting in the NHL.

In fact, it's more than a little perverse to even call it "homophobia." Rather, it was really just about learning The Art of Manliness, which all boys need to do -- especially today, when manliness is opposed on all sides by passive-aggressive liberal wimps for whom whining isn't everything, it's the only thing. Marriage is one of the principle ways that boys become men. Therefore, it is no surprise that liberals want to undermine the institution.

In contrast, racism must be learned. Yes, I know it is ubiquitous in history, but it is nevertheless learned. It is mostly about cultural and ethnic differences, and race is simply a handy marker for this.

The left also doesn't want poverty to end, because this too would eliminate the cause of their righteous indignation. Otherwise they would define poverty in absolute instead of relative terms. So long as they define it in relative terms, a certain fixed percentage of the population will always be "poor," no matter how fat, affluent, and diabetic.

The left is animated by the intoxicated desire to "change everything utterly at a single stroke. And it is this fever to *change* everything utterly at a single stroke which gave birth to the demon of class hatred, atheism, disdain for the past, and material interest being placed above all else, which is now making the rounds in the world" (UF).

You see how it works? The ideology legitimizes the intoxicated expression of envy, anger, murder, whatever. It is what allowed Bill Ayers, for example, to want to attempt mass murder of his fellow citizens in good conscience. When you're full of that much righteous rage, what else can you do? He still has no regrets, because he is still drunk. But like all drunks, he stays drunk in order to avoid the pain of regret -- regret for a wasted life spent wasted on a spiritually barren ideology.

Again, this is the counter-inspiration of the Devil, and it is a caricature of genuine spiritual grace and the transformations it facilitates. For as the latter descends from the Divine down into the cosmic lowerarchy (↓), the malediction of Satanic Grace rises up from the inconscient and infrahuman, and works to transform the recipient into its deathly image.

I now pronounce you Manacled for Life, 'til death do you impart.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

To Be Perfect is to Change Often

Some further thoughts on Walter Russell Mead's God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World.

One of Mead's central points is that "the choices between faith and unbelief did not appear as stark to much of the English-speaking world as they did elsewhere." Rather, here we have been able to maintain a creative tension between faith and reason, which forms the essence of "dynamic religion."

The dynamic religion of the Anglo-American sphere has not just been able to coexist with, but thrive upon, the same sort of skepticism that is so corrosive and ultimately fatal to static religion. In other words, the Anglo-American style of religiosity was well-suited not just to usher in science, but to then assimilate it and endow it with a transcendent meaning it cannot otherwise possess. Without this transcendent meaning -- or vertical orientation -- science can become something monstrous (just as can religion divorced from the natural/horizontal world).

People naturally seek the comfort and security of a closed system of thought, whether they call it religious or "scientific." In the West, we have been able to reconcile the absolute and relative, time and eternity, change and permanence, through the notion of progress, or evolution (understood in its broader, non-Darwinian sense).

Mead does a good job of showing how the Anglo-American world is animated by the spiritual deep structure of faith in the idea that progress is both possible and good. Thus, we can assimilate and make sense of change, whereas overly tradition-bound cultures see change as the enemy, and therefore reject the notion of progress.

At the same time, English society "decided that reason cannot stand alone as the basis for a human society." Indeed, it is a truism that "the 'scientific' societies of the Communist world, boasting of their objective grounding in rational and scientific truth... were considerably less flexible than the Western societies they opposed," just as "there was less freedom in France under Robespierre and his Reign of Terror than under the less systematic and less 'rational' revolutionary governments that preceded it" (Mead).

Virtually all of us in the Anglo-American world are progressives, which sets us apart from almost all cultures that have preceded -- and coexist with -- us. This is why a Raccoon believes in darwhiggian evolution. Of course evolution exists, as it is a necessary consequence of a creation separate from its Creator.

The only place evolution cannot occur is "within" (some might argue "beyond") God, or in the ground of the Absolute, which is necessarily outside time and therefore free of change. The leftist university tries to create a "shadow eternity," cut off from reality. But that is a temporary and and ultimately unstable condition that cannot endure, irrespective of their struggle against change and progress.

It is telling that Obama's entire fund of knowledge appears to consist of nothing but the leftist bromides and platitudes he absorbed in college, thus, his inability to recognize reality; rather, like all Marxians, he wishes to change reality before understanding it.

Progress can only exist in the light of permanence, otherwise it is merely random and arbitrary movement. The secular folks who go by the name "progressive" are in fact mere "changeists," since they reject that by which change can be objectively measured, i.e., God, the Absolute. So in this regard, Obama has certainly succeeded in bringing Change to Washington.

Mead notes that Milton was one of the first to recognize that "truth is revealed in a process," so that "knowledge of God [as opposed to God in Himself -- GB] must necessarily change and deepen over time." Of Truth, Milton wrote that "if her waters flow not in a perpetual progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition," the perfect image of a closed system -- and only an open system is susceptible to evolution.

In the English-speaking world, change was eventually understood "as a permanent, necessary, and even sanctified element of true religion." This also plays a role in our inherent optimism, which is a kind of earthly analogue of Christian hope.

Mead makes the critical point that in the Anglo-American world, We are all Abraham now. The idea that we can and should have "a personal relationship with God" has "for more than three centuries been strengthening its hold in American life." That we must all "answer the call" and discover our own identity, vocation, and meaning, testifies "to the power of the Abrahamic archetype in the American mind":

"The Abrahamic believer, convinced that God is leading the way to an unknown future in a new land, is ready to accept not only the personal but also social consequences" of his freedom -- including his economic freedom. Those grounded in static religion naturally have difficulty accepting change, but "for the dynamic believer, change is both a sign of progress and an opportunity to show the growing virtue of faith." Thus, "with an energy that no centralizing power could ever summon or shape, millions of Americans through decades and centuries spontaneously" struggle to improve themselves and progress toward God.


In the last two sections of the book, Mead addresses the Lessons of History and the Meaning of it All. He largely rejects the postmodern view that "no single story line can capture the complexity of contemporary life."

As mentioned yesterday, there are three (or possibly four) mutually exclusive grand narratives in competition, 1) European style socialism (which subsumes such hideous developments as identity politics, multiculturalism, moral relativism, deconstruction, victimology, and the unintentionally ironic rejection of all grand narrative except for its own), 2) Islamism, and 3) Anglo-American classical liberalism.

Thus, we should not be altogether surprised at the de facto alliance between the left and the Islamists, as they share the common enemy of American liberalism and its foundation in Judeo-Christian principles.

Now, a Raccoon has his own "grand narrative," but it is cosmic -- even metacosmic -- as opposed to global. To be perfectly accurate, he places global events in the larger framework of cosmic evolution, of the 14 billion year drama of cosmogenesis-to-cosmotheosis, AKA the arc of salvolution. This is the true Meaning of it All, and the only real way to comprehend both the Meaning and the Lessons of History. Otherwise you are within history, a conditioned subject of your own narrative.

To put it another way, the meta-cosmic narrative is the only one grand enough to comprehend us, rather than vice versa. In other words, if your grand narrative is rooted in mere reason, it will explain everything but the grand narrator, who is the most important part. How grand can one's narrative be if it doesn't even explain oneself?

Mead writes that "History as we know it began about three or four thousand years ago," when "a wandering herdsman named Abram heard what he believed to be a call from God."

But in our view (and the view of Genesis, properly understood), History actually began 13 or 14 billion years ago, when an ordered cosmos uniquely suited to the development of life and mind sprang into existence from "nothing." True, Abram took the mysterious call, but it was from the nonlocal Author of this mysterious cosmos, not just some local tribal deity. Of course, he couldn't have known that at the time, but still, this means that there is a thread that connects the origin of the cosmos to the origin of America and ultimately to the destiny of the world.

Put it this way: in order for Alpha and Omega to meet in the herebelow, the emergence of ordered liberty is absolutely necessary. For to err is genetic, to evolve divine.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Pimp-Slapping Obama and Conserving Our Metaphysical Dream of Progress

I wouldn't worry about that goggle-eyed, wicked old witch. After tomorrow, Pelosi's powerless:

No new post. Thanks to the Board of Psychology, I'm now several days behind in my work, so you can thank them for setting back the progress of cosmotheology for 72 hours.

But I'm reposting something from several years back, which may have immediate relevance to the news of the day, as the nation prepares to awaken from Obama's metaphysical nightmare and begin properly dreaming the American dream again.

I'm going to condense a series of posts that reflected upon Walter Russell Mead's excellent God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World. The review ranged over a number of posts, so I'll try to eliminate the inessential. If the transitions are too abrupt, I'll just throw in some asterisks.

Supposing you knew every "historical fact" in existence, and then fed them all into a supercomputer. What do you suppose the computer would come up with? Would it be able to synthesize all the facts into a suitable dream? Of course not. Only a dreamer can historicize, even as history discloses the Dreamer Who Dreams It.

Of particular interest to me is the religious dream that has allowed the Anglo-American world to succeed where all other dreams have failed, to such an extent that it is by far the most powerful dream the world has ever known.

In fact, at present there are three primary dreams in competition for who will Dream history 1) American classical liberalism (i.e., conservatism), 2) European statist secular leftism (including its American variety), and 3) Islamism. The world isn't big enough for all of these dreams, and yet, only one of these dreams is big enough for the world. (And I suppose one might have to add a fourth, Chinese style authoritarian capitalism, or whatever one would call it.)

Mead's book is divided into five main sections, each of which is fascinating in its own right. But of particular interest to me is the third section, Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, which gets into the religious metaphysics -- our metaphysical dream -- which allowed the Anglo-Saxons to come to dominate the world over the past several centuries.

Seen in the light of Mead's explanations, the Marxist counter-dream just looks silly -- i.e., that our success is based only upon oppression, or violence, or exploitation, or class warfare. Rather, our success is because our dream is much closer to reality -- or our reality is much closer to the Cosmic Dream and its Author.

For example, Mead gets into a subject I discussed in the Coonifesto, which is that only open systems can evolve, both individually and collectively. In a closed society, adventure is exchanged for security. Everyone knows their place or role. The tyranny of custom and tradition is complete, as in the contemporary Islamic world, or, to a lesser extent, among the ironically named "progressives." Because of their dominance, there is no place less intellectually -- let alone spiritually -- free in America than on a leftist university campus.

Likewise, the left represents the main organized opposition to that which, more than any other factor, has created so much progress in the world, the free market, compared to which the progressive movement has contributed essentially nil to the betterment of mankind.

As Mead writes, "the journey from East to West is a journey from relatively closed to relatively open society," both historically and geographically. For example, even in contemporary America, the culture of the New York Times is the quintessence of a closed, parochial, backward-looking world view, especially as compared to the view here from Raccoon Lookout in Upper Tonga. But further east from New York to Paris, the view gets even more closed and cramped.

Later Mead notes that "History is in large part the record of efforts, more often successful than not, of the advocates of closed society to shut down open societies."

For example, what is the contemporary culture war but the effort by leftist elites to strangle debate with political correctness and to enforce their idiosyncratic views on the rest of us, through the news media, through Hollywood, through acedemia, by packing the Supreme Court with anti-Constitutional activists, etc.? Mead writes that "History may be understood as a series of efforts to tame the disruptive intellectual and political forces of an open society and restore the closed society with its stability and reassuringly eternal and absolute qualities."

Now obviously, it isn't just secular leftists who want to shut down progress and create a closed society. In the past, traditional religion has most often been the main adversary of the open society, and therefore progress. A large section of Mead's book is devoted to explaining how we in the Anglo-American world got it just right in terms of religious metaphysics, in such a way that progress not only became possible, but inevitable.

But it is always a very tricky balance, and it's not something we should take for granted. Rather, as we shall see, it involves a "trinity," a three part dynamism that Mead calls tradition-revelation-reason. Societies that move too far in one of these directions become dysfunctional, and either cannot endure or cannot evolve.


Since the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Anglo-Americans have been on the winning side in every international conflict. And we didn't just win these conflicts, but proceeded to reorganize the world in our image. Much of the resentment toward us has to do with the fact that in order to survive and flourish in this world, you must adapt your dopey culture to the world we both discovered and made, which is to say, "reality" -- and nothing is the source of more resentment than the demands of reality.

Never confuse "Anglo-American" with "European," much less "white," let alone "French." "It is France that has most often attempted to defeat or at least most often contain" the Anglo-Americans. "Whatever we call it, the hatred and fear of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants and all of their doings is one of the motors driving the world" (Mead). It is "one of the key organizing principles that many observers use to make sense of mysterious events," i.e., it is an unconscious paranoid process that animates resentful and envious people who don't really have any ideas, only rebellious anti-ideas. Anti-Anglo-Americanism is a constant in world history. It just takes different forms. Thus, the hatred of President Bush, both here and abroad, is nothing new.

Very early on, the Anglo-Americans discovered the dynamics of complex systems, i.e., the "invisible hand." They understood that order emerges from chaos, not just in economics, but in virtually every realm -- politics, the marketplace of ideas, science, relationships, etc. Most cultures -- including half of our own -- still struggle with the idea that most things will improve if only you leave them alone.

For at least a couple hundred years, sensible Anglo-Americans have been predicting the End of History -- the end of poverty, war, stupidity, and all the other follies of fallen mankind. We are tempted to imagine that world peace is just around the corner, under the assumption that the rest of the world will naturally come to its senses and adopt our liberal values, since they are obviously so successful. George Bush may be the latest victim of this sanguine view of mankind, i.e., giving Muslims the gift of freedom and expecting them to appreciate or make use of it

A brief asnide -- Heidegger is an even bigger assoul than I thought: first he proclaims Hitler and Nazism to be "Europe's best and even noblest protection from the twin threats" of Marxism and "Americanism"; then he concludes that the latter "is the hideous final destination on humanity's road away from a meaningful way of life"; and then he finally decides that "the Marxist machine, for all its evil, was less dangerous than the American." And Heidegger's vision "remains central to much European and Latin-American anti-Americanism today...." (ibid).

All Raccoons know this, but it's worth repeating: in (economic) reality, only the free market respects the masses, as it efficiently responds to their genuine needs, even if elites have comtempt for them. In traditional or elitist societies it is "the rulers and well-born whose tastes must be studied, prejudices indulged, and caprices made much of." "The power of mass consumption, harnessed by flexible markets to the economic interest of the talented, may be the most revolutionary human discovery since the taming of fire. The changes that have come and will come from this union of the ambitions of the elites with the aspirations of the masses are incalculable" (ibid).

By the time Marx was dead and writing all his books, middle and lower-income families were already enjoying "a higher standard of living in some ways than even the most aristocratic households had enjoyed only a half century before" (ibid). Thus, his ideas were born obsolete, one more reason why leftist academia is such a soul-killing environment.

It is because Anglo-American governments have been so relatively weak that they have been so strong. Like the free market, they must respect the wishes of the people and lean on voluntary cooperation instead of coercion. Thus, big government will necessarily become unpopular, because it no longer need respond to the citizenry and instead must coerce or use force. [Say it again! Tomorrow.] This is why everyone hates the IRS or recognizes the failures of the education establishment or the problems with social security, but no one can change them. Imagine the permanent nightmare of nationalized healthcare, which constitutes some 17% of our economy.

Again, all Raccoons know this, but societies that overvalue reason and devalue tradition and revelation become dysfunctional and cannot evolve. "Dynamic religion" is the philosopher Bergson's term for "the angel that calls people forward to ever more open societies." Those who have read the Coonifesto will be familiar with my idea that only open religion specifically engages the eschaton, O, luring the open system toward it, both individually and collectively. Mead notes that open religion can take many forms, such as "a feeling of restlessness and unease, a yearning for new experiences, a voice in the head shouting warnings or commands, visions, dreams, or ideas." It is living religion, or O → (n).

Dead or "static religion" is the historical norm, certainly outside the Judeo-Christian world, but often within it as well. And radical secularism can be as much a static religion as any other. In this regard it is the form -- the deep structure -- not the substance, that counts. Put it this way: whoever you are, you either practice a dead religion or a living one:

"The tragic choice that many self-consciously 'modern' observers see between the black-and-white realism of open modernity and the visionary colors and imagery of closed tradition and myth disappears if Bergson's dynamic religion is taken into account" (ibid). We cannot do without our great visions that "light up the western sky" and "stir human souls to the depths," driving us to "to pull up our stakes and move on," which is to say evolve, both within and toward O.

Which is why Raccoon philosophy is simply the operating system of reality in both its vertical and horizontal dimensions; it is what we might call "dynamic" or "evolutionary neo-traditionalism."

To be continued...