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...