Monday, December 06, 2010

It's a Wonderful Reality Tunnel

The miracles of Jesus Christ reveal the secret of the influence exercised by individuals for the universal, and by the universal for the individual. --Valentin Tomberg

Let's talk about miracles. According to Schuon, the phenomenon of miracles "has in itself nothing mysterious or problematical about it: the so-called natural laws of a lower degree of Existence can always be suspended through the intervention of a higher degree, whence the perfectly logical term 'supernatural.'”

In other words, there is in any phenomenon a combination of both horizontal and vertical causes. Some things are almost all horizontal, while others -- we call them miracles -- are predominantly vertical. Thus, what appears supernatural on the horizontal or terrestrial plane is actually “'natural'” on the universal scale."

Scientists, of course, "confuse the miraculous with the irrational and the arbitrary," but Aristotle was correct in his outline of the four types of causation: material and efficient, which are horizontal; and formal and final, which are vertical. This is why scientists are baffled by anything that clearly manifests final causation, such as free will. Acknowledging final causation would destroy their faith in matter, so they attempt to explain it through material and efficient causes only, which ends in self-refuting absurcularity.

According to Tomberg, the seven miracles recorded in the Gospel of John "represent the healing of the seven principal infirmities of human nature in both individuals and groups." As such, they are "not just miracles," but "signs of the future spiritual and bodily healing processes within the human organism, which is sick as a consequence of the fall of humanity" (emphasis mine).

Please note that healing of any kind has a teleonomic aspect, in the sense that it is an attempt on the part of the organism to "return" to its archetypal form (which is always "above" in space or "ahead" in time).

Three orthoparadoxical statements come immediately to mind: 1) The kingdom of God is within [or among] you, 2) Seek ye first this kingdom, and 3) from the Gospel of Thomas, The Father's kingdom is spread all over the world, but the folks cannot see it. Hold these thoughts for later.

Just as the scientist can deny the miraculous, it is possible for the religionist to deny the mundane, so to speak. And he would be ontologically correct in doing so, although it would make functioning in the world difficult. I mean, someone has to grow the food, make the clothes, and take out the trash.

The point is, since verticality takes priority over horizontality, we could say that there is an "upper vertical" magic and a "lower vertical" magic (one is reminded of the observation that Isaac Newton was not the first scientist but the last magician).

Which is why signs and wonders are happening all the time -- i.e., the Father's kingdom is spread all over the world -- but the interventions are so subtle that we may underlook them, so to speak.

We may also fail to notice them because we can only scamper through one reality tunnel, and cannot see the other timetube that "might have been" in the absence of the vertical influence. It is not possible to conduct a double blind study on reality, which is why faith is unavoidable, whether secular or religious (e.g., Paul Krugman and other leftist economists have the faith that if only Obama had spent a few trillion more, the economy would be in great shape).

Of course, this is the great spiritual lesson of It's a Wonderful Life, which is about a man who spends his life selflessly aligning himself with the good, at great personal cost. However, in his case, he is shown the alternate reality that might have been had he spent his life pursuing only his egoic desires. Thus, he is able to understand that by acting so selflessly, he was actually socking away capital in a moral bank account that is "not of this world."

Another way of saying it is that George is granted the spiritual boon of a clear vision of all the miracles and magic that had occurred in his life as a result of unselfishly aligning himself with the Good.

And realizing this is the greatest miracle of all, for with this realization, the magic that had always been operating in his life bursts upon him like a sudden downpour of grace. What a tragic waste of life to miss the magic that is happening all the time, for this magic is precisely what nourishes the soul and feeds the "second birth." Living for others is a great liberation.

The same lesson is present in Dickens' Christmas Carol, in which Scrooge is first given a vision of the forces that went into exiling him from the greater reality and enclosing him in the cold world of his bitter and envious ego.

Envy and entitlement are literally forms of "reverse magic," in that they will spoil whatever they acquire. Envy may or may not help you get what you think you want, but it will also prevent you from enjoying it once you have it. Conversely, gratitude is both the cause and effect of spiritual awareness and contentment.

This lower vertical magic forms the basis of the leftist agenda, which is why they only become more bitter upon getting what they want. The bitterness of the left has not remitted one iota since prevailing in the 2008 election, because envy is an addictive way of life.

Leftism begins with the childish observation that the world is not perfect -- that it does not conform to their fantasies -- so that even things that work miraculously well must be attacked. Which only results in more problems that the leftist will decry and demand that the state remedy. If this downworld spiral is not arrested soon, it will eventually reach bottom.

In hermetic terms, the subtle rules the dense, and the deeper the effect, the higher the cause. The highest cause being God, aligning ourselves with this cause should, so to speak, lift us out of the closed circle of horizontality and manifest in our own lives in terms of the "subtle ruling the dense."

Now, this is not to say that the dense -- the horizontal -- can ever be wholly eliminated. We are not angels, which is to say, purely vertical beings. But it does mean that we can do our part to reverse the fall and restore the priority of the vertical over the horizontal. Obviously, if everyone did this -- individuals working on behalf of the universal -- we would have "heaven on earth," or a kind of earthly analogue of paradise.

On the other hand, "hell on earth" is the leftist agenda of the individual being forced to work on behalf of the (false) universal which is the state. For the true liberal, the individual is the true universal, not the collective.

Now, the first miracle recorded in Genesis is the archetype of all others, for as our Unknown Friend says, creation ex nihilo -- or out of nothing -- "is the highest possible expression of magic, namely divine and cosmic magic." This is why the primordial act of creation was not so much a bang as a blossoming seed. As he says, this is "not too difficult to imagine, because each little acorn is such a 'constructive bomb' and the oak is only the visible result of the slow 'explosion' -- or blossoming out -- of this 'bomb.'" What is a butterfly but an exploded worm -- or in our case, a buddhafly caterpultered from a christallus cocoon?

The seed has both a husk and kernel. The husk is there to protect the kernel, but it is possible that we can come to identify with the husk, thus defeating its purpose -- and the purpose of our lives -- by arresting the "blossoming explosion" of our true self. This blossoming -- once you begin to experience it -- is the "personal magic" that mirrors the magic of creation itsoph -- of God's unfolding, creative self-revelation. You too are a Big Bang.

The kernel, since it is internally related to the whole, seems miraculously able to draw the people and materials it requires in order to fulfill its mission. Or as a rabbinical expression puts it, "God spends most of his time arranging meetings and marriages."

Better stop now. Late for work....

Friday, December 03, 2010

I Am Who I Will Be, or What Has I Done For Me Lately?

We cannot understand what we really are unless we understand what we are capable of becoming --Robert Bolton

Well, duh. A human being cannot be limited, defined or contained by his past or by what he is at any given moment, but only by his developmental potential -- by his most mature and developed form, which is nonlocal -- in other words, archetypal -- not local. The soul is the form of the body, which carries a spacial connotation; but the soul also requires time in order to reveal its nature.

Thus, just as time is the moving image of eternity, we might say that our life is the moving image of our soul. Alert readers will have noticed that one of the powers of the B'ob is to channel the roaring torrent of O into the feeble stream of cyber-k. Do you see the connection? This blog is nothing more and nothing less than the local exteriorization of my nonlocal interior. It's got my grubby soulprince all over it.

But we could say the same thing of the collective experience of mankind, which has spent the last 40,000 years downloading and extruding various artifacts -- poems, plays, paintings, philosophies, theologies, symphonies, game shows -- that are the vapor trail of the soul's temporal sojourn.

And despite everything man has produced thus far, it is just a single grain of sand on an endless beach. Truly, the bleat goes on forever, whether we lileks or gnat.

The saint, the sage, the true artist of word, image or sound, each is respectively the highest embodiment of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. There are saints of knowledge, just as there are artists of truth and sages of beauty. In fact, to the extent that each transcendental fails to partake of the others, something vital will be missing. In other words, truth is the virtue of mind, just as virtue is beauty of soul.

The painorama of human evil is ultimately reducible to "the problem of increasing numbers of persons who lack power over their lives spiritually as much as materially, the two problems being closely related" (Bolton).

Well, duh. There is hardly a material problem without a spiritual cause and a spiritual solution, but the reverse is almost never true. For example, unscientific and simpleminded liberals like to pretend that "poverty causes crime," which is a smear of the so-called poor, the vast majority of whom are not criminals. Likewise, to suggest that poverty causes genocidal Muslims to think and behave as they do is simply an indictment of Islam.

The reason why leftism is an intrinsic psychopneumatic illness (and when I say this, I'm talking about the true believers, not the ordinary confused, apathetic, or misinformed citizen who votes Democrat) is that it represents the "opposite movement" of the cosmic procession of spirit.

In a way, it is "natural" for man to fall into such slavery and servitude. The problem is that for man, it is unnatural for him to be in a state of nature. Rather, he is made for transcendence, or he is nothing at all.

The left takes advantage of the fact that it has always been true that the majority of people will fall into servitude if left to their own devices. If liberty were natural to man, it would have appeared much sooner in history, not just a few hundred years ago.

Nor would half the population in the freest nation that has ever existed be working so hard to limit and roll back that freedom. "Natural man" will always take security in exchange for liberty. Only transnatural man can say "give me liberty or give me death," since only he knows that there is something higher than nature, and that there are certain worldly political arrangements that are not worthy of man.

Quite simply, it is difficult if not impossible to become what the Creator intended if one falls into the parallel looniverse of the left. Rather, one will be what the state intends one to be -- which is simply an anonymous cog in their horizontal machine. Rage all you want, but don't look at me.

True independence and individuation are marks of the spiritually mature, so long as one's prior dependence upon spirit is acknowledged and appreciated. Otherwise, the isolated individual is a monster, a mere caricature of uniqueness and wholeness. An original perhaps, but an original nothing -- creativity in service of death, vanity, and ego-aggrandizement. It is simply the opposite side of the same worthless material coin.

In the cosmic hierarchy, mysticism is above, material science down below. In between, linking these two, is the principial world of metaphysics, which has things in common with both, without being reducible to either. Materialism (or scientism), on the one hand, and new ageism and fundamentalism, on the other, are false paths which ironically share more in common than they diverge from one another. Ideology is always nourished by religious roots.

For example, the irrationalism of fundamentalism converges with the irrational ultra-rationalism of scientism, and both movements shun the higher intellect.

Likewise, while some traces of valid metaphysical thought may be found in the new age/integral movement, it is nearly always confused, partial, contradictory, idiosyncratic, self-serving, and certainly cut off from any kind of institutional grace, plus it is "out of contact with the historical roots of civilization" (Bolton).

Thus, it merges nicely with the modern material ego, which is why it is also almost always left wing. The new age and integral movements are riddled with mushheaded moonbats who keep deepakin' the chopra like a rented mule. In any event, both it and fundamentalism end up drifting "into becoming a part of the cosmic process [they] should serve to overcome" (ibid you adieu).

Thursday, December 02, 2010

On Taking Yes for an Answer

... yes I said yes I will Yes. --Shem the Penman

As we were saying a couple of days ago, a fellow "is free from some of the practical implications of morality only by identifying with the intelligible source from whence morality arises" (Bolton).

Incidentally, this is something we're really trying to emphasize in the moral development of Future Leader. That is to say, rather than transmitting the cosmic Law in wholly negative terms -- as a list of things he shouldn't do -- we're trying to foster an awareness of the plane from which virtue arises, i.e., the Good. So far, so Good, in that he's wonderfully empathic, caring, and well behaved, but in a spontaneous way, i.e., without being at all repressed.

Conversely, when I was a kit, the realm of morality was pretty much defined by NO!, but in reality, there is -- and must be -- an affirmative realm of YES! behind the NO! The lives of the saints teach us that abiding in the YES! can pretty much take care of the NO!, i.e., once the mind parasites and other impurities aren't dominant.

But for the average man who can't even control what he puts into his mouth, he requires the top-down NO! rather than the inside-out YES! to govern his appetites and impulses. (No wonder we see more and more legislation regarding food and tobacco.)

Which, by the way, is why our nation is being systematically undermined by the left, since the good man doesn't require all the thousands and thousands of coercive laws enacted by the left. He neither needs nor wants to be governed and micro-managed from without, which was how things stood in America prior to the unprecedented expansion of the state by Hoover and FDR. In freeing man from moral standards, the left simply imposes its own standards through the state (and extra-judicially through political correctness).

Once things that should be done spontaneously are demanded by law, the locus of moral control dissipates from the individual and is invested in the state; in other words, because people have less self-mastery, it is outsourced to the government.

Thus, for example, the majority of black children grow up without fathers, so paternal authority is just located downstream, in the judicial system (people with flesh-and-blood fathers generally don't require brick-and-mortar ones). Or, feminists who imagine they don't need men, just replace Daddy with an intrusive paternalistic state to care for them. This is why, as Dennis Prager says, "the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen."

The Superior Man is free not just to do anything, but to do good, which is the only real freedom -- just as freedom to know truth can be the only real intellectual freedom.

Virtue is a kind of slavery that frees, which is a fine example of how Jew-Know-Who I AM conveyed universal principles in the form of light yokes and rustic paradoxables, so that their truth could be freely "discovered" rather than "imposed" from on high.

Among other things, this is one of the ways the secret protects itself. Which it does, an ontological fact to which our malodorous trolls provide smelloquent testimony. God never forces free will, nor does he grossly interfere with it.

Here is a key point -- call it a key of gnosis. Bolton writes that "Once it is realized that the everyday world depends on an unseen world with a reality of its own, values can be understood as the points at which this unseen world enters our awareness of the visible one, rather as the mountain tops of a submerged continent appear to us as islands" (emphasis mine).

This is a wonderful metaphor that applies to all of the transcendentals, i.e., the True, Good, Beautiful, Existence, and Unity. In each case, it is only known by virtue of its "piercing" through the phenomenal realm.

To put it another way, phenomena have a "metaphysical transparency" (Schuon) through which humans have constant access to the noetic Light in all its modes.

This is not speculation, but a very experience-near fact of moment-to-moment existence. If it were not true, we wouldn't even be animals, but something truly horrible. Most of the real damage in the world is caused by people without this awareness. Drained of spirit, the world becomes a preyground for predators.

Better yet, turn the image upside down, as with the Upanishadic Tree, with its roots aloft and branches down below. The branches and leaves pierce the world of maya from above; or, as I expressed it in the book, they take the form of little flowing springs of grace that dot the landscape. We encounter and drink from them every day, all day long.

Indeed, were it not for these springs, the world would truly be a barren, good-for-nothing wasteland, a literal prison, a gulag, a concentration camp, an income tax audit, a proctology exam, an MSNBC program, sharing a single bathroom with Rosie O'Donnell.

This is precisely where revelation, truth, love, beauty, and all the archetypes come into contact with, penetrate, and hijack this terrestrial plane. It is absurd to think that they randomly lojack us from "below." Let the dead bury the tenured. Ho!

This is also the area where we leave behind those worldly A-influences and come into contact with the transnatural B-influences. We must follow the B-influences back upstream to their source. This is obviously the meaning of the sacred river, whether it is the Ganges or in Revelation: And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

This source is prior to thought, the latter of which is down in time: it is up there by the pure headwaters of the eternal, by the fountain of innocence, next to the vantastic "garden misty wet with rain."

Oh yes, don't you remama? When she satya down in a crystal daze, toddling loose & lazy beneath a diamond sky with both hands waving free? No? Yes! I do. ¡Straight into the blisstic mystic, bright blazing fire and ecstatic cinder, Shiva, me tinders, count the stars in your eyes! --The Cosmobliteration of the Wholly Coonifesto

I guess that's enough for today....

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Beaming Down from Dreamland without a Transporter Accident

Flaubert said that "writing history is like drinking an ocean and pissing a cupful." Unless you're a leftist, in which case it is the opposite, resulting in a golden shower of tenurinary tracts from bladdering idiots who tell us it's raining.

While neuroscientists think of consciousness as the remembered present, there is another vital aspect of human consciousness which might be called the "unRemembered memory of the present," or what Bollas calls the "unThought known."

One of the reasons it is unremembered is that if we had to equally contend with the foreground and background of the present moment, we'd be too distracted to deal with the former. In reality, there can be no foreground in the absence of a background, and vice versa; conscious and unconscious are actually complementary, and in no way "opposites." They give rise to one another in a process of circular feedback.

This is why some people will give perfectly good money to a psychoanalyst in order to undertake a systematic exhumination of the background container of the present -- things we unconsciously recall but don't want to (or, more likely, that recall us), and that simply distort the moment and interfere with our happiness and fillfullment.

Just so, a collectivity is always more or less hindered by reminiscences that impede progress, and the more one believes oneself to be free of these irrational influences, the more influence they have. Hence, for example, the left's ubiquitous memories of paradise which they insist on imposing on the rest of us in the present. (Indeed, the general problem with Enlightenment rationalists is that they forget all about the endarkenment that operates outside linear logic.) Likewise, Islamists are haunted by unconscious recollections of which they are utterly blind and lacking in even a sliver of in-sight.

Without question, the larger part of memory -- the ocean, so to speak -- is not that which we recall, but that which recalls us. For example, every night we are "forgotten" by O, as we dissolve into the unconscious dreamworks, only to be re-collected and reconstituted in the morning. In this regard, it is somewhat analogous to being beamed down by the transporter each morning:

"A transporter is a fictional teleportation machine used in the Star Trek universe. Transporters convert a person or object into an energy pattern (a process called dematerialization), then 'beam' it to a target, where it is reconverted into matter (rematerialization). The term transporter accident is a catch-all term for when a person or object does not rematerialize correctly."

Indeed, perhaps you may have noticed that O is not (and could not be) entirely consistent in this regard -- that you might have had a little transporter accident overnight. It is as if the transporter left a few molecules out when it reassembled you in the morning.

Or to use a computer analogy, you're a little "buggy." One morning you wake up feeling this way, while the next morning you wake up feeling that way. Perhaps something is "missing," not some easily identifiable content, but again, more like the background context that would allow it all to make sense. Often the only "cure" is to go back to sleep and reboot. Sometimes death is perceived as the only way, hence, suicide.

Now, if there were seven days of creation, there must have been seven nights that were equally important -- perhaps we might even speak of the "seven dreams" of God, during which time the previous day's accomplishments were worked over and the next day's activities incubated.

The idea of the Creator having an "unconscious" has always appealed a bell in me. Since we are in his image, and a conscious mind is unthinkable in the absence of an unconscious mind, this must mean that God has some analogous dialectic. And in fact, I think Eckhart's distinction between God and Godhead speaks to this reality, as do the distinctions between Being and Beyond-Being, nirguna and saguna brahman, or the ain sof / keter of kabbalah. (One could also look at Father and Son in this way.) Kataphatic theology applies to God, whereas apophatic theology applies to Godhead. Again, neither one is "superior," since both are not only required but inevitable.

Anyway, according to Tomberg, "Just as the full reality of human life consists of days and nights -- of the bright day-consciousness and the dark sway of the unconscious (or subconsciousness or superconsciousness) -- so the full reality of humanity's biography, the history of mankind, consists of a day aspect and a night aspect. The day aspect comprises the account of the actuality of that which has become, and the night aspect embraces the activity of becoming."

Another way of saying it is that there is horizontal history and vertical history, both individually and collectively. Each involves a different kind of causation. Horizontal causation may be linear or non-linear, but it operates from past to future. Let us call this the "causality of the day."

But vertical history does not ultimately operate on the basis of mechanical causation. Rather, it is guided organically and teleonomically by a goal, or what is called finalism. (It is also guided by certain perennial archetypes, thus there is formal causation as well.)

For example, a patient might come into psychotherapy imagining that there is some event or experience in their past that is causing their present troubles. If they can just remember and identify what it was and bring it into the light, then the vexatious pattern that is imposing itself upon their psychic life will be drained of its potential to cause problems.

But it only works that way in the movies. This is because the thing they're looking for is not in the past but right here in the present. It is not "behind" but "below," influencing things from the bottom up.

Furthermore, it doesn't work in a mechanical way, nor is it like the fabled "pressure cooker" of instinctual energy that needs to be released. Rather, it has a goal and an agenda of which we are unaware. We want one thing but it obviously wants another -- something very specific, usually a certain kind of relationship, even (or especially) if it brings pain or frustration. Neuropsychoanalytic research suggests that it is not a figure of speech to say that the left brain doesn't know what the right brain is doing (or worse yet, knowing or being).

One of the reasons liberal solutions don't work is that they fail to take into consideration the nocturnal mission of history. And one of the reasons they fail to do so is that leftism in general consists of a stagnant memepool of the over- and undereducated -- or maternalistic elites (the dreaded "vaginocracy dentata") and the losers for whom they know what's best.

Furthermore, this pathological dance of losers creates a "night time" influence of its own, in that the solutions and programs enacted by the elites have inevitable unintended consequences that make the problems worse, thus creating a greater need for maternalistic elites (a perverse alliance of men with breasts and women without them, e.g., feminists).

This is why one is sometimes tempted, as is Rush Limbaugh, to think that the damage inflected by the left must be intentional. I don't generally believe this. Rather, I believe that the majority of leftists have good intentions, but are honestly blind to their self-defeating ideas.

As Thomas Sowell has noted, liberal policies are guided by feeling -- in particular, a self-deluding "compassion" -- not by thought. As such, they never take into account what he calls "phase II," or unintended consequences of their policies. This is because their idiot compassion blinds them to the system of destructive incentives a policy puts into place.

Looked at collectively, this pattern is entirely self-defeating, just like a codependent patient who constantly complains about her husband, unaware that her codependency -- her narcissistic rescue fantasies -- prop up and fuel her husband's bad behavior.

But there is a great side benefit ("secondary gain") to the codependency, as it allows the woman to 1) project a damaged or devalued part of herself into her husband, thereby distancing herself from her own psychic pain, 2) feel contempt for, and triumph over, the weak and devalued part of herself, and 3) elevate herself and feel morally superior to him.

Thus, we should not be surprised if we see in leftists the same pattern of projection, condescension, and sanctimony. Indeed, where would the left be without their projected fantasies of the weak and dominated woman, or the po' hepless negro?

It is quite striking how blacks can tolerate the utter contempt that liberal politicians and the MSM have for them. They are infantilized, held to lower standards, excused of behavior that would not be tolerated in others, and worse. Only on the left could lowlife thugs such as Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson run for president without provoking comment, much less deep soul-searching. It is not ironic. It is inevitable.

But it takes two to tango to a tangle of pathology, and it is always tempting to overpathologize the abuser and underpathologize the abused, when the dysfunctional system needs both parties in order to function as a national rescue party -- to party heartily (or in the end, heartlessly). Just as sadists with their preydar are on the prowl for masochists, masochists are always on the lookout for sadists, driven to find their dissing half.

It reminds me of something a caller mentioned yesterday on Dennis Prager: "Tell a loser he's a winner and he'll fight for you. Tell him he's a god, and he'll kill for you."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Present is a Foreign Country

No, The past is a foreign country... --L. P. Hartley

Wait, you're both right!

A particular passage by Dawson struck me, so I'm striking him right back with this leaden post. He once wrote in a letter that "it seems to me that there is no more sense in asking, 'What is the use of history' than asking what is the use of memory. An individual who has lost his memory is a lost individual, and a society that has no history and no historical consciousness is a barbarous society. It is as simple as that."

If this is true -- which I believe it is -- it leads to the questions, what is human memory and what is it good for? Neurology has revealed that memory is not some sort of exact imprint of the past on the brain. Rather, it is always very much a "work in progress," with things constantly being added, deleted, and synthesized into a more or less comprehensive picture. Thus, our memory is much more analogous to an impressionistic painting than a photograph. (In reality, it is a pneumagraph or lengthy lifetome we develop though a recursive externalization and internalization of the soul.)

Looked at this way, there really is no such thing as a wholly objective past, only our ongoing construction of it in the present. But the present is obviously never stable, so we might look at history as "the presence of the past," which is to say, an extension and probe of the present into the past, rather than vice versa -- which is why history must be rewritten (or at least reevaluated) by each generation, since the past keeps changing in light of what is revealed by the future. In other words, the past includes its meaning, and the meaning can change in light of the present.

Or, at the very least, these two modes must be considered dialectically: the past extends into the present, just as the present reaches into the past. What we call "history," or the re-collected past, is more like a dynamic whirlpool created by these two streams.

Furthermore, there are implicit and explicit currents going in both directions, not to mention vertical and horizontal. For example, the unconscious agenda of a historian (what we might call the "pre-collected past") will guide what he considers historically important, while some past events are of such magnitude that they impose themselves on the historian, sometimes to the exclusion of events and conditions that are subtle but more important. (For example, psychohistory attempts to understand the subjective psychic conditions of a particular era, as opposed to the objective conditions only.)

These are some of the main reasons two historians can regard the identical reality -- even utilizing the same materials -- so very differently. One historian looks at the American revolution as a rare and glorious irruption of Light into the nightmare of history, while another sees it as a frank power play by wealthy and self-interested elites. One sees demagogic anti-anti-communists as gallant adversaries of paranoid right wingers, while another sees them as pathetic Soviet dupes.

Thus, the past is clearly conditioned by the psychic present of the person interpreting it, but the psyche itself is always conditioned by its own past, so there is a kind of double recursiveness. When I read leftist "revisionist" history, the first question that occurs to me is not "why is this person wrong?," but "why is this person such an assoul?" They would no doubt feel the same way about me, but perhaps dishonestly convert the feeling to an intellectual statement. But in reality, the gut feeling is actually the more accurate and direct conveyer of truth, so long as one's gut is not disordered by, say, logorrhea or coonstipation.

Is it possible for one's gut to be in the wrong place? Of course! Referring back to Dupes, consider all of the leftists who have positive gut feelings about Castro, or Gorbachev, or Hugo Chavez, or Daniel Ortega, or Jimmy Carter, or John Edwards, or Obama. Conversely, just consider the gut feelings they had about Ronald Reagan. I was there. There is no question whatsoever that they hated him more than the Soviet Union, just as contemporary leftists hate George Bush more than Islamists.

So the proper functioning of one's gut is quite important, a reality that usually goes unnoticed by infertile eggheads who are adept at rationalizing gut feelings into sophistry, in what is known as intellectualization or "shit masquerading as scholarship."

You will notice that intellectually inferior leftist elites do this constantly, that is, disguise simple contempt (which comes first) as intellectual superiority (a mere by-product of the emotional state), whether they are talking about global warming, economics, religion, "right wing talk radio," Sarah Palin, etc. Again, they are just like everyone else, only prone to disguising their feelings under a veneer of tenurebabble or MSM groupthink.

And this is why they are so incredibly blind to their prejudices: because they are first felt and only then disguised as self-evident "thoughts." And because these liberal feeling-thoughts are not self-evident to the conservative, the liberal imagines that it must emanate from malevolence, which is to say, evil.

For example, liberals always mischaracterize Rush Limbaugh as hateful, when I can't even remember ever hearing him angry. Rather, the predominant mood of the program is nearly always one of joie de vivre -- as in joyously kicking liberal's asses. Just because they hate having this done to them, they imagine that Rush is hateful.

This is why conservatives generally think that liberals are simply innocently ignorant or willfully stupid, while liberals feel that conservatives are evil. And since we are evil, there is no reason to develop sensible arguments to deal with us. You don't argue with evil, you condemn it. Thus, invective, defamation, and moral condemnation are the left's stock-in-trade (e.g., "The Worst Person in the World"), from the mountains of academia, to the midloons of the state run media, to the lowbrowlands of Hollywood, and into the sewer of dailykos and huffingandpuff.

Psychoanalytic therapy works exactly along these lines -- at least the form of therapy in which I was trained. That is, whatever a patient says about the past, it is presumed that he is actually (in some sense) making a statement about the present -- about his own present psychic organization, about his relationships and conflicts, and especially about the here-and-now reality of the therapeutic situation.

In fact, this is what Bion meant by O. That is, as he sat there with a patient, he considered the reality of the situation to be an evolving bipersonal field -- an ultimately unknowable, noumenal reality that shifts and changes on a moment-to-moment basis. One must notice the subtle changes in the state of this field, and not necessarily get distracted by the content, since the content is more like the penumbra around O. (You married cats out there, think, for example, of when there is an, er, disturbance in the force. You only find out later -- if at all -- what it was really about. Marry a female, and you are signing up for continuous reports on the emotional weather.)

In order to intuit O -- or for O to evolve into (k) -- we must, as Bion wrote, "suspend memory, desire, and understanding." When in the presence of anyone, there is an unstated, preverbal reality between or "around" the two of you. This reality -- which is an aspect of O -- is as "real" as the conscious speech that passes between the two parties. You could say that it is more like the background, context, field, or "container" for what transpires within it. And it isn't an "empty" space, but -- as in modern physics -- a space that conditions the content "within" it. (Someone once said that you know how you really feel about someone by the instantaneous feeling you have when you receive a letter and see their name.)

We all notice this field, even if only (or especially) unconsciously. Call it the "vibes" of a situation if you like. As a therapist, one is trained to pay close attention (but not react) to the vibes given off by a patient (the "counter-transference"), since they speak volumes about the psychic reality in which the patient lives and has his being. Furthermore, one must be especially careful not to confuse the patient's vibes with one's own, which is easy to do if one lacks insight and awareness.

We all experience this from time to time. For example, we might be in a bad mood, so we experience our spouse as a different person than we did yesterday -- as a persecutory presence. Or perhaps you have listened to a particular piece of music, thinking you didn't like it, when it was just the mood you were in.

Sometimes we can awaken from a powerful dream, but the emotional state of the dream will persist during the day. For me, it is a common experience that certain types of music are inaccessible if I am not in the right frame of mind. What can sound like the music of the spheres one day can sound like music of the squares the next.

To be continued.....

Monday, November 29, 2010

Anti-Religious Bigotry and the Cultivation of Stupidity

(Formerly titled On Cutting Off Your Nous To Spite the Face Before You Were Born, which was too oblique.)

Just as behind all religion and all spiritual philosophy there is a metaphysical assent -- the affirmation of Being -- so behind materialism... there is a metaphysical negation -- the denial of Being -- which is the ultimate and quasi-mystical ground of the materialistic position. --Christopher Dawson

What if the ultimate purpose of education were not simply to receive the state's idea of knowledge (k) but to nurture and strengthen the Light which makes it possible to know at all? For if one cannot know what it is important to know -- and why -- it hardly matters what one does know.

Knowledge always exists in a context -- a container -- and if the context is false, it renders the content dubious at best. For example, the left can never understand America, because the container of its "adversary intellectuals" distorts the country into one that is fundamentally racist, or sexist, or homophobic, or greedy, or what have you.

I suppose there are still some people who bitterly cling to the idea that Obama is unusually intelligent. But even if this were the case, his container is so messed up that whatever native intelligence he does possess is steeped in the Lie. I think this becomes more evident with every passing month -- that Obama has a deeply flawed vision of America and of reality more generally (i.e., economics, religion, science, history, psychology, etc.).

As it so happens, the purpose of a (classical) liberal education is, as the adjective suggests, to liberate the mind from various contingencies -- i.e., to truly adequate oneself to the diverse manifestations of the Real in a disinterested manner. Therefore, those who run our educational establishment are mainly engaged in something else entirely. They may be ideologues, or propagandists, or technicians, or mechanics, but they are anything but liberated from their narrow agendas.

It is no wonder that young adolts are generally more stupid coming out of a liberal university than they were going into it. Because if one is not exposed to the Light, one will simply assimilate the darkness and try to use it to illuminate one's life. I am convinced that this is one of the primary reasons why the left is so confused, and why its adherents cannot argue or even think logically. They value education but not the Light from which it derives its value -- just as they value art without beauty and the maintenance of politically correct beliefs without individual virtue.

The dehumanized and anti-intellectual climate of our university system is obvious to us today, but Dawson noticed the problem some fifty or sixty years ago -- that it was starting to become disturbingly illiberal, un-scholarly, and post-literate because anti-religious. This wackademic mania "arose among the half-educated and gradually spread both upwards and downwards."

Among other distortions, the upside-down education of the left emphasizes such impossibilities as knowledge without truth, rights without duties, self-esteem over self-transcendence, and the antihero over the hero, since the former is the authentic nihilist who sees through the sham of authoritarian hierarchy, oppression, perennial values, and first principles.

The left idealizes these monsters because they have the courage -- i.e., violence -- to permanently solve the annoying problem of classical liberals and their delusions of freedom, private property, and individual conscience. (And anyone who thinks I'm being polemical ought to read the extensively documented Dupes: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.)

A genuine hero is only heroic to the extent that he risks life and limb for a real and permanent good that transcends himself. Since transcendence doesn't exist for the secularist, the hero must therefore be an idiot or a manipulative liar. One saw this deep moral confusion in the torture debate. Even if one regards waterboarding as torture, only a moral imbecile cannot see that it makes all the difference in the world whether it is in the pursuit of evil ends -- just as there is an infinite difference between an American violently killing a nazi and a nazi killing an American. Same act, different context.

The religiously super mensch differs from the Nietzschean superman, in that the former "is free from some of the practical implications of morality only by identifying with the intelligible source from whence morality arises" (Bolton). He is free not just to do anything, but to do good, which is the only real freedom -- just as freedom to know truth can be the only real intellectual freedom.

Another way of saying it is that the hero is free to defend reality, while the antihero is "free" to be hostile to spiritual reality and to therefore live in fantasy. Leftist intellectuals are certainly free within the constraints of their two horizontal dimensions (who, because of the tamasic inertia caused by the absence of grace, also inevitably fall into a third dimension, the lower vertical), but in the absence of the transcendent, their freedom doesn't even have the value of animal freedom, since it will always be tainted by a guilt-stained recollection of the Real, or what Joyce called the agenbite of inwit.

Yes, the left has its heroes, but when you scratch the surface, you will see that they are always worshipped for their destructive, not creative, capacities. For example, one of the reasons I was against the MLK holiday is that I knew the left would simply turn it into a partisan anti-holiday celebrating anger, bitterness, envy and division -- the opposite of what a holy-day is supposed to accomplish, which is the facilitation or recollection of the wholeness or transcendent unity that makes a nation possible.

The problem isn't with King, at least to the extent that he was simply trying to make America comport with its first principles, which are so obviously rooted in the transcendent, i.e., "all men are created equal." The problem is how the left cynically uses King to advance principles that have nothing to do with American ideals. Ultimately, the left is a revolt against the vertical order, or "defiance of the cause of their own existence," i.e., pneumacognitive cluelesscide.

Why do leftists instinctively and unreflectively embrace the environmental hysteria of the climate change fanatics? It is because in the absence of mature spirituality, they have no metaphysical bullshit detector, so they essentially convert a spiritual crisis into a weather crisis -- the externalization of inward evils. In the hierarchy of being, Man is above the natural environment, not an entity that is reducible to it. Nature is not actually our mother, unless balanced with the transcendent male principle, i.e., immamanence + patranscendence.

But if "liberated" from transcendence -- i.e., the Father -- we are swallowed up in the infra-rational realm of the Great Mother. Free of the One, we simply fall back into the orbit of the (m)Other. If this were ever completely successful, the result would be, in the words of Bolton, "an opting out of [Man's] place in the cosmic hierarchy, while retaining a dominance over nature based on human powers and techniques alone. Nothing further from truth and stability could be conceived, nor anything better calculated to result in a stampede into the jaws of Fate in its most inhuman form." In other words, leftism in itself is an environmental crisis of the first magnitude.

This reminds me very much of depressed patients who cannot bear their depression and therefore experience it only in the body, i.e., the "physical environment." I recently evaluated just such a woman, who was clearly profoundly depressed but consciously unaware of being so. However, she had pain in nearly every part of her body, in the absence of any objective medical findings to account for it.

In her case, her conscious mind very much existed on a two-dimensional plane that excluded emotional (and therefore intellectual) depth, so that the only way she could "think" about her depression was through the body. In other words, one can no more deny the unconscious than one can pretend one doesn't have a body. To the extent that it is denied, it will simply return in some other misrecognized form.

It is no different with Spirit -- both good and bad. To the extent that it is denied, it will simply return in some disguised form. And this is why, to paraphrase Richard Weaver, all attacks on religion inevitably result in attacks on the mind, for how could it not be so? To cite just one obvious example, if we are nothing more than materialistic Darwinian machines, then there could be no way for us to know that truth. All truth, by definition, is transnatural and could never have come from mere matter. Nor could goodness or beauty come from nature -- unless nature is not what you think it is.

This is why we can say that all good comes from God, even if indirectly -- which is almost always necessarily the case, given the hierarchical complexity of manifest existence (just as your brain must work through so many layers and systems to accomplish even the simplest goal; it doesn't accomplish its ends by magic -- except that it actually does). Real power is always spiritual power, the ability to make an idea manifest in the material world. In this sense, we are all mirrorcles of the absolute, in that we have the capacity to make the word flesh. Civilization itself is nothing but word made flesh.

What, you think dirt just becomes flesh and flesh becomes Word on its own? Then you're a moron and you desperately need to know it, which is the only reason why I say it. Believe me, it doesn't give me any pleasure to do so. Dupree, that's a different story. Nevertheless, extremism in the defense of reality is no vice, just as tolerance of the intolerable is no virtue.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bonus Post for Givethanksing About: A Truth-Bearing Cosmos!

For this one I waded deep into the knowa's arkive for some early bloggerel from exactly five years (or some 1,575 posts) ago. I wonder if it still makes perfect nonsense?

*****

Several readers have asked me to comment on the issue of intelligent design, for this is a debate that sharply divides even conservatives.

For example, last week the estimable Charles Krauthammer wrote a biting editorial claiming that ID was nothing more than a "tarted-up version of creationism" which "may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological 'theory' whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God."

He goes on to say that ID "violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be science -- that it be empirically disprovable. How does one empirically disprove the proposition that God was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the 'strong force' that holds the atom together?"

While Krauthammer is brilliant with regard to politics, here he is simply mischaracterizing ID in order to heap scorn upon it. It is not surprising that many conservatives reject ID, because conservatives are generally logical people. However, one can prove anything with logic, so long as the conclusion follows logically from the premise. If your premise is faulty, then so too will your conclusion be faulty. Garbage in, garbage out.

Perhaps I should emphasize up front that I wholeheadedly agree with Krauthammer that intelligent design should not be taught as science per se. For intelligent design accepts what science discloses as true, but then asks what it means on a higher or deeper level.

It's like the difference between studying history vs. studying the meaning of history, two entirely different things. Science generates only tentative conclusions, which is as it should be. It is the job of theology and philosophy to decipher the meaning of what various disciplines disclose about reality.

Science itself is devoid of meaning, which is, again, as it should be. In itself it can make no pronouncements whatsover on the (absolute) origin of the cosmos, the source of Life, the meaning of consciousness, the role of human existence, the purposes to which science should be put, etc. It's just a shame that children are no longer taught philosophy, and instead are taught idiotic and fraudulent things like African American studies, feminism, multiculturalism, etc. As a result, even if they can technically think, they are unable to think about thinking.

Bottom line: teaching intelligent design in a science class may be good metaphysics but it is bad science. However, at the same time, using science to justify a materialistic philosophy is junk metaphysics, because doing so is simply dressing up assumptions as conclusions.

In fact, we could take Krauthammer's exact words and apply them to scientistic reductionism: "it is simply a tarted-up version of materialism which may be interesting as a sort of godless theology, but as philosophy it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological stance whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, cosmic evolution -- they are to be filled by chance. Materialism violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be philosophy -- that it be logically coherent. How does one logically disprove the proposition that pure chance was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the 'strong force' that holds the atom together?"

Science is simply a method designed to quantify and measure objective realities. By its very nature, it is barred from addressing subjective reality, nor can it measure qualities without reducing them to quantities. Scientistic fundamentalists who dismiss ID generally elevate the methodological reductionism of science to an ontological reductionism, which is completely unwarranted and inappropriate. It is to announce that what science systematically ignores cannot exist.

Krauthammer suggests that ID is a closed system, when in fact, the opposite is true. The very reason why science, when elevated to a metaphysic, generates so much paradox and absurdity is that it is a closed system, regarding only the material realm as ultimately real. Therefore, everything outside materiality escapes its purview.

In point of fact, science, if taken to its logical extremes, undermines its own assumptions in several ways. That is, science has run into a number of limit cases that long ago proved its inability to account for the whole of reality. In my book I go into a lot more detail, but I will simply hit some of the highlights here.

One of these limits is disclosed by modern physics. Bell’s Theorem proves that reality is nonlocal, meaning that the universe is internally related and that it has deep connections that transcend space and time, the implication being that the universe itself cannot be contained within our artificial bounds of space and time. Physics provides us only with a mathematical net or “container,” but not the content, which slips through the container like water through a sieve.

The world, even at its most fundamental level, exceeds our ability to measure or contain it. Science begins with the assumption that the cosmos is composed of externally related parts (logical atomism), while modern physics shows that the universe is fundamentally an internally related whole that has the capacity to operate "vertically" in a top-down manner, i.e., from whole to part. Indeed, this newer understanding of wholeness allows us to transcend many scientific paradoxes and blind alleys in a way that materialism never will.

Another limit of science is called the “Universal Complexity Barrier" (UCB), an idea developed by William Dembski. In addressing the origins of life, the real problem is the origins of information, not just any information, but the staggeringly complex information found in the DNA of the simplest living thing.

There are only four ways this complexity could have come into being: 1) chance, 2) necessity, 3) some combination of chance and necessity, or 4) design. Not too long ago, scientists simply assumed that chance would have eventually resulted in the emergence of life. However, this was before it was understood that life has only been here for 3.85 billion years, and that the planet was too hot to sustain life prior to about four billion years ago. Therefore, there was only a window of about 150 million years for chance to operate, which is far too short a time.

The problem encountered here by scientific fundamentalists is that the hypothesis of chance runs aground against the dictates of the UCB. To take an example, a hundred typists pounding away at a hundred pianos will never produce the works of Thelonious Monk. At most, they may produce a few bars of Ugly Beauty or Misterioso or Think of One, but there will always be an upper limit to how much “complex specified information” (CSI) will result from pure chance, and beyond which the typists cannot go.

Other scientific theories to account for the emergence of life are just variations on the same theme, but they all come up against the UCB, and assume complex information for which they cannot account. Besides, the combination of chance and necessity can result in a little more CSI, but nothing approximating the complexity of life.

Scientists have also been searching for an “evolutionary algorithm” in nature that can account for the emergence of life, but no matter what they try, they cannot surpass the UCB. In short, it is a completely scientifically accurate statement to say that the simplest living cell could not have come about through any neo-Darwinist scenario of chance and necessity.

Therefore, one may safely conclude not that God exists, but that the universe was either full of complex specified information from its very origin, or else that it cannot be a materially closed system subject only to horizontal causes found within nature.

However, if you simply leave the matter there, you are a curiously uncurious person. Personally, I have no difficulty at all positing the existence of a cosmos with more dimensions than four, and which has both horizontal and vertical causation. After all, this is how our minds operate vertically to control the horizontal processes governing our material bodies, and I believe the form of our subjectivity reveals important information about the form of existence.

The cosmos cannot be a little bit pregnant with meaning. It's either/or, period. And to deny cosmic meaning is to perform an astral abortion on oneSelf. Sure it's legal, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Also, one must remember that natural selection is proposed in a medium called language, which natural selection is helpless to explain. To be perfectly accurate, either language explains natural selection, or natural selection explains language. Both cannot be true, for if language is reduced to a completely materialistic explanation, there is no reason to believe that it is capable of encoding and transmitting truth, so the assertion becomes logically self-refuting. Go ahead, just try to prove the truth of something with something that is proved by what you are attempting to prove.

Speaking of which, another limit of science is Gödel’s Theorem(s), which forever proved that there is no logical system that doesn't contain assumptions that cannot be justified by the system. The implication of Gödel's theorems is that any consistent logical system will be incomplete, while any complete one will be inconsistent.

Gödel also believed he had proven that semantics -- that is, meaning, or quality -- can never be reduced to syntax -- mere order, or quantity. As such, the mind can never be reduced to matter, and the mind's ability to know far surpasses any reductionist explanation. Roger Penrose later used Gödel's theorems to prove that the mind cannot be a computer, and that the mind exceeds the ability of any formal system to capture it, much in the same way that nonlocality shows how reality exceeds the formal system of quantum physics.

Gödel further believed that any scientific theory that tried to eliminate all paradox and inconsistency was doomed to failure and that "sooner or later my proof will be made useful for religion, since that is doubtless justified in a certain sense."

Bottom line: if blind materialism is true it is untrue, for it can never account for how matter may know the truth of itself. And if it is only matter speaking, what reason do we have to believe what it is saying? There is no knowledge at the level of the senses.

Once you acknowledge that human beings are capable of knowledge -- which is another name for truth, or it is nothing at all -- then you have lifted yourself out of any mere materialistic explanation. When matter is placed over spirit, all qualities are reduced to quantities, semantics to syntax. You thereby circle around and meet with the cognitive pathologies of the left, which also deny transcendent Truth. Extremists meet.

Intelligent design does not prove the existence of God -- at least not the God uniquely disclosed by the Judeo-Christian tradition. There are much better ways to do that. It's just that science, properly understood, doesn't disprove it, and I think this is what animates the misguided impulse to try to teach ID as science proper.

The God who is dismissed by the detractors of ID is simply a caricature, a "straw god" that they apparently internalized somewhere along the way due to an unfortunate encounter with some boneheaded or debased version of religion.

Have a wild turkey day:



But not too wild:

Hey, it's only a flesh wound!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Inward Christian Soldiers!

Interesting that early Christianity spread in part by virtue of the sadistic violence visited upon its adherents. This is in conspicuous contrast to Islam, which metastasized primarily as a result of sadistic violence perpetrated upon others.

Even today, we have no real way of knowing how many actual Muslims there are in the world, for how many would remain Muslim if given the choice? Obviously true conversion can only take place in the heart, not at the end of a sword. How rapidly would Christianity spread in China or Saudi Arabia or Iran if the authorities allowed anything like a free marketplace of religion? But the spiritual customer can only be sovereign in a place free of religious or secular totalitarianism.

Islam also differs from Christianity, in that Christian martyrs were (and are) victims of mass murderers, whereas Muslim martyrs perpetrate it. According to Birzer, the actual Christian martyrs of the second and third centuries were "an inspiration to a decadent population, devoid of any higher understanding, but still seeking something higher than itself." He cites the example of St. Perpetua, who, "when a gladiator approached her in the arena... took the gladiator's trembling hand and guided it to her throat."

Repeated countless times, these saints "became the dying witnesses to a purpose in this life and the life beyond. Their blood led to mass conversions among a lost Roman people." But do people actually convert to Islam as a result of its "martyrs" killing and maiming thousands of innocents? Where is the appeal, except to eternal hatred?

Once Christianity became the state religion and the era of persecution ended, a new kind of "interior martyrdom" emerged, as serious seekers fled to the desert in order to find God in the solitude of the heart. These souls engaged in a kind of extreme seeking that is also difficult for us to comprehend. I mean, it's one thing to join a monastery and become part of an interior community, but they didn't exist until much later.

Then again, perhaps there are spiritual challenges and temptations in our day that people from even one hundred years ago couldn't imagine. Most of us will never know what amounted to constants among pre-modern people, including hunger, disease, war (up close and personal, not in a distant land), chronic pain, constant loss, and early death.

Thus, for any thinking person, the utter futility of the world must have seemed quite obvious. It's the same with the Buddha's advice -- it wasn't nearly as difficult to detach from the world when the world had so little to recommend it. What was one giving up, really? Few had any possessions, any private property, any aspirations, anything to read, or anything to do except subsist.

So in an odd way, the present world undoubtedly requires its own kind of spiritual athleticism in order to transcend it, since the temptations and distractions are so much greater. In a way, the more fulfilling the world is, the more pain there is. How did people in the past endure the routine loss of a child? I would guess that infant mortality was so high, that the vast majority of parents had lost at least one child. Nowadays, this constitutes a tragic minority. Indeed, even a miscarriage is an occasion for grief, whereas I can't imagine premodern people giving it a second thought.

As I speculated in the book, this must have affected the way the premodern psyche grew and developed. We now know that the psyche is formed on the basis of attachment to early objects, and that any kind of disruption in the attachment process leaves emotional and cognitive scars for life.

Of course we can never know with certainty, but there is good evidence that prior to modernity, parents didn't invest a lot of emotional energy in their children until there was a good chance they'd survive infancy, so I don't see how this could not have resulted in what we would call schizoid (i.e., detached), depressed, or paranoid personalities (i.e., bitter, distrusting, and angry people) on a widespread basis.

For us, the modern world is so alluring that we can forget all about transcendence. It gives the illusion that it can fulfill us, but this is a promise that it can never keep. Unconsciously, this attachment to the world probably just makes us feel less secure. In a perverse way, the more secure we actually are, the less secure we may feel, because we expect things to go perfectly. We can come enticingly close to controlling most of the variables in our lives -- which only makes it more maddening that in reality we are promised nothing.

I am sure this is what animates the angry and hysterical control freaks of the left. They always wants to make things "better," with no appreciation of what a miracle it is that things work at all. They have no earthly conception that the optimal will never be perfect, and that in pursuing perfection, they will only engender the sub-optimal. Their attempts at control always generate chaos, for which they recommend more of the same. Today we have roughly the same percentage of the population living "in poverty." But I know of not a single leftist who is prepared to declare the 45 year "war on poverty" a failure.

Similarly, the housing bubble clearly wasn't caused by the free market, but was a direct consequence of massive federal intervention in the mortgage industry for four decades. It is the same with healthcare and the cost of higher education. Both operate outside any rational system of actual market prices. You can only know how much something actually costs when you allow the market to set the price.

Likewise, leftists whine about the treatment of homosexuals and other minorities, when they have literally never had it so good. Without a doubt, 21st century America is the best place there has ever been to be black, female, or homosexual. Water and air are the cleanest they've been since it has been possible to measure them, and one of the reasons healthcare is more expensive is because there are so many drugs and procedures that didn't even exist a generation ago.

Hey, if you want to save on healthcare, just limit yourself to the treatments that were available in 1975. But this is about as likely as wealthy liberals voluntarily giving more money to the government, instead of forcing others to do so.

Because of their materialism, the left frets over the natural environment when the greater threat comes from the psychic environment. Dawson felt that (in the words of Birzer), history involved a "battle for possession of the human soul," and that "to protect the order of the culture and the polity, one must first protect the order of the soul. Without the order of the soul, all will fail." What he wrote in the 1940s would apply with equal force today:

"England and the whole world are passing through a terrible crisis. We are fighting not merely against external enemies but against powerful forces that threaten the very existence of our culture. And it is therefore vital that all the positive intellectual and spiritual forces of Western culture should come together in defense of their common values and traditions against their common enemies.

"The defeat of totalitarianism... 'depends in the last resort, not on the force of arms but on the power of Spirit, the mysterious influence which alone can change human nature and renew the face of the earth.'"

But preservation and destruction are constants in history, always occurring simultaneously: "to the Christian the world is always ending, and every historical crisis is, as it were, a rehearsal for the real thing."

In this regard, it is critical to bear in mind that evil ideologies are never truly creative, and therefore ultimately subject to the entropy and degeneration of the world:

"The tyrannical ideologue can neither be creative nor imaginative," and is "merely a shadow of the true Enemy, himself just a creature, albeit a very powerful one within time." Islamism on the one hand and leftism on the other are "blind powers which are working in the dark, and which derive their strength from negative and destructive forces."

I don't worry at all about the things that consume liberals, such as what the weather might be like in 100 years, whether we are mean to terrorists, or why open homosexuals can't serve in a military the left despises anyway. What concerns me is whether we can continue to nurture a psychic environment capable of sustaining the human soul, and whether, because of various technological developments, man will blind himself to the deadly consequences of his spiritually self-destructive behavior.

In short, the spiritually "dangerous and treacherous" have "been made artificially safe," so that "the distinction between wisdom and folly would seem to be an irrelevance." As Bolton writes, "high forms of culture can usually continue for at least another generation after traditional moral restraints have given way, creating the impression that a society can have the best of both worlds." But this is only a fool's paradise, for the bill eventually comes due.

If there ever was a widespread conversion to truth as a vocation, most of the problems of society would solve themselves, since it would remove the basic evil of aimlessness. It was for this reason that Pascal said that the whole calamity of mankind was owing to the fact that a man cannot remain quietly in one room for any good purpose.... [T]he security of any society depends on the presence in it of minorities and individuals who are spiritually alien to it, who have a mission which goes far beyond the basic practicalities which rest on everyone. --Robert Bolton, Keys of Gnosis

Suffice it to say that none of us would be who or where we are had it not been for the existence of such impractical men -- interior and exterior martyrs of various kinds. So let's be thankful these magnanimous fleshlights passed through these parts and illuminated a narrow teloscape for the rest of us.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Logotomized Always Lie

With dumb-as-a-postmodernity, much of Western civilization has undergone a spiritual logotomy that results in the removal of one's higher spiritual sense. But just like a victim of lobotomy, the logotomized person doesn't even know what hit him, for he is now missing the part that might know.

In the not-too-distant past, no one was really religious, or "chose" religion in the way that we must consciously be and do. Rather, it mostly chose them. It was simply the pneumatic context in which humans lived, and one thing modern developmental psychoanalysis has discovered over the past 40-50 years is the priority of the mind's container over and above its content. Or, at the very least, one must always regard container and contained dialectically, for there can never be one without the other. (Think of modern physics, in which "objects" are no longer radically separate from the space that contains them.)

True, truth is truth; nevertheless, it makes all the difference in the world what sort of receptacle or "matrix" contains that truth. If the container is false -- i.e., determined by the Lie, or hatred, or envy -- then it will color all of its content in ways that may be imperceptible to the individual except in the form of symptoms, i.e., emotional or cognitive pain or dysfunction. These symptoms are alternately "absent presences" (anxiety) or "present absences" (depression).

To take a simple example, consider the truth of justice. Human beings are born with a precognitive, archetypal understanding of justice -- a preconception, or empty category, that must be filled out by experience.

Leftist attitudes toward justice (i.e., the insatiable moloch of "social justice") essentially result from a deformation of this pre-existing truth, as they enforce their idea of justice in fundamentally unjust ways -- i.e., racial quotas, income redistribution, attacks on private property, class warfare, etc. All forms of modern leftism are essentially dishonest appeals to truth, unjust appeals to justice, unfair appeals to fairness, coerced appeals to generosity, etc. Again, it's the container that is so destructive, since it damages even "good" content, i.e., charitable impulses.

Please note that the omnipotence of the fantasy -- the end -- justifies the means required to attain such a beautiful thing, which always requires the coercion (and implicit violence) of the state. The same dynamic explains the terribly unjust and coercive monstrosity that is Obamacare, which will only require more state coercion in order to "fix." At each step along the way -- from kickbacks, to bribes, to penalties -- state coercion is required.

There was a time that the Church, broadly speaking, was generally able to contain the human spirit and provide a vehicle for its articulation and development. For some one thousand years, the vast majority of people in the West lived, thought, felt, worked, and died within this meaning-generating container.

Now, a spiritual container must not only be capacious enough to hold the human spirit -- which tends toward the infinite -- but must also paradoxically provide a sort of "friction" against which we may think and move.

In other words, thinking spiritually in a truly creative way means that there must be an interaction between container and contained that produces new thoughts. Indeed, if religion could not do this, it would not only be entirely static, but would provide no satisfaction for the soul's intrinsic desire to grow with knowledge. The Bible really would be the end of theology instead of the beginning, and the importance of the great saints, doctors and mystics would also be rendered meaningless. And history would have no purpose at all, since the truth would all be located in the past.

This specifically human form of knowing -- the dynamic interplay of what Bion symbolized as ♀ (container) and ♂ (contained) -- is a critical factor that distinguishes us from the beasts, since it is not only analogous to play, it is play. It is well understood that certain young animals play -- i.e., puppies and kittens -- but that virtually all adult animals lose this capacity as they grow into their mature archetype, which is essentially fixed and final.

But man only fulfills his destiny by preserving his neoteny -- i.e., the retention of a childlike, epistemologically open attitude -- to the end of his days. Not only is man born immature, but he must remain so on pain of putting an end to the growing process. But again, since man verges on the infinite (♀) and the soul is all it knows (♂), there can be no end to the maturational process.

Now obviously, there are mature and immature ways to preserve our immaturity. When Jesus says that we must be as children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he surely doesn't mean that we must stamp our feet and throw a temper tantrum until God lets us in. Rather, he's talking about things like openness, spontaneity, creativity, timelessness, and trust (or faith).

Now, "openness," "spontaneity," "timelessness," etc., all apply to the container, not the content. For example, spontaneity is not a content or specific idea that one may hold in one's mind like an object and be done with it. A -- perhaps the -- major task of parenting is to raise one's child in such a way that he will have a happy, healthy, and productive container for the rest of his life, irrespective of the specific content. And in all likelihood, if you do things right, your child won't even be consciously aware of this blessed container until he has children of his own to contain!

This was an idea that was probably first worked out by the developmental psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, who wrote about how, for example, one's lifelong capacity for "basic trust" is forged in the first 18 months of life, largely depending upon the quality of parenting one receives. No one talks much about Erikson anymore, as his ideas have been extended, elaborated, and fine-tuned by others, but his basic conception is correct. Note how each of his stages has primarily to do with the container, i.e., trust, autonomy, identity, generativity, etc., not any specific content.

The trusting person sees the world very differently from the non-trusting -- which is to say, paranoid -- person. Surely it is no coincidence that the Muslim Middle East has the lowest quality of parenting and the highest degree of paranoia, along with an almost total lack of creativity, openness, and autonomy. This is obviously worrisome, since democracy and free markets can only flourish in a high-trust environment.

To put it another way, trust is huge enabler of market efficiency, removing all kinds of obstacles to doing business with one another. Almost any American can do business with any other American, whereas in tribal cultures, the circle of trust is greatly narrowed.

But I want to return to the topic of religion as the container (♀) of an explosive force, or content (♂). Call it the "spiritual drive," or the "pneumaphilic instinct," but whatever it is, just like any other human capacity, it requires a container to guide and channel it -- just as, say, music requires a system of musical notation to structure and give it depth.

Bach, for example, was born with a "musical drive," but what if he had been born at a time prior to the western system of musical notation, which allows one to think with such complexity within the chordal space of vertical musicality? The point is again that an adequate container is critical for one to achieve one's potential in any given area.

It is no different with religion. The other day, I was reading of how Dawson felt that different historical eras were literally different worlds which we could not really understand by projecting our own world onto them. This makes total sense to me, because true empathy of a patient involves not just understanding their content, but their container.

Furthermore, real change generally doesn't involve the patient obtaining this or that piece of missing information. Rather, it involves a slow alteration and repair of their container within the context of the therapeutic alliance. Truly, therapy is just something you do to distract the patient while his mind is healing itself, mainly as a result of an intimate relationship with another.

So anyway, my point is that modernity -- e.g., the scientific revolution and the birth of the individual self -- essentially exploded the religious container that had contained the mind and spirit up to that point, and there is no going back to that innocent world. You cannot put the bats back into the belfry or the truthpaste into the tube. Different world.

They say that modern physics displaced earth from the center of the universe, just as natural selection displaced man from the center of the biosphere, thus rendering the religion of Christianity hopelessly quaint, what with its cognitively reassuring firmament above and a God who just happens to be in the form of a man.

Whatever. The point is not to argue over facts, which is to say, the content, but to understand the cosmic, and even metacosmic, nature of Christianity, so that it may serve as a container for the historical middle world we happen to inhobbit. I suppose that's the point of both my book and this blog, which is why I never argue with the other guy's content when his container is so messed up. One Cosmos "Under" God is really another way of saying One Mother of a Cosmos Contained by Father God. And they say God himself was marrily contained for awhile, but that's amother story.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Word War I and the Battle for the Bridge

Of the basis of religion, Birzer writes that it is rooted in "the recognition of a superhuman Reality of which man is somehow conscious and towards which he must in some way orientate his life" (all subsequent quotes are from the same book).

Thus, if man is the bridge that spans the ontological ocean between matter and spirit, then religion is the perennial clueprint that encodes the engineering principles, so to speak, of this bridge building innerprize. Conversely, if the radical secularists are correct, then man is just another bridge to nowhere.

Far from being an "opiate for the masses," it is modern secular ideologies "which serve as nothing more than addictive drugs for decadent and lost peoples." Most perniciously, they still treat man as a bridge, except that he becomes a bridge between the way things are and the way our elites would like them to be. In short, he becomes a bridge between big government and bigger government -- or between the powerful state and the omnipotent one. First they seduce us with the Mommy state, but then coerce us with the Daddy state.

Now, revelation does not -- cannot -- stop with the written word: "On the contrary, the whole history of Christendom is a continual dialogue between God and man, and every age of the Chruch's life, even the most remote and obscure, has some important lesson for us today" (emphasis mine). This would imply that the present is not more important than the past; but nor is it less so.

I find that traditionalists have a sort of inferiority complex about the present, and conversely, tend to idealize the past. But if each epoch of history is in some sense providential, then the question is, what is the metacosmic purpose of the present time in which we are living?

Perhaps it has to do with sanctifying the scientistic "reign of quantity" and bringing it back into harmony with timeless religious principles in a higher synthesis of spirit and nature. Which is to say, same as it ever was, for as Augustine wrote, to the extent that science and philosophy reveal truth about the world, "we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it."

In so doing, just as paganism was incorporated and sanctified by Christianity, perhaps our task is to sanctify these modern forms of neo-paganism. This endeavor is hardly opposed to science, but rather, attempts to place it in a context in which it is able to "become" or "reveal" what it actually is in the larger scheme of things. Science is not self-explanatory, but is explained by something transcending both science and certainly the scientist.

Another way of saying it is that postmodernity has shattered the unity of the world into ever-smaller, disconnected and isolated fragments, in a process that is indistinguishable from decay. But this is not just a passive process of entropy; rather, the forces of secularism oppose any attempt to put the cosmic egg back together into a greater hierarchical synthesis.

Thus, on a very deep level, secularism tries to impose a religiously anti-religious lowerarchy on the rest of us, which is what liberal intolerance is all about -- diversity, moral relativism, multiculturalism, political correctness, etc. Each of these, at its root, elevates division to an absolute.

In this specific sense, one cannot be "in love with the world" without hating God; for to love only the world is to reduce man to matter and therefore to a machine, and ultimately to a means rather than an end. But then secularism slips in its own teleology, converting man into a means of achieving wholly materialistic ends as defined by the "progressive" who substitutes terrestrial perfectibility for spiritual evolution.

Thus, there really are "two Americas," the one that exists in reality and the one that exists in the fantasies of the left, i.e., "Sugar Candy Mountain." Secular ideologies "promise much by taking much," which is to say, your soul.

Another important point is that the left must be intrinsically anti-family, since the family is the "first institution" and is obviously prior to the state. As such, it is a competitor with the modern welfare state, something that has become obvious vis-a-vis Western Europe or the black family in America.

Since man is a social animal, if his most intimate bonds are not with the family, they will be with something less. Should the family collapse, "society itself must collapse or change in a fashion so drastic as to be no longer recognizable." This is the sort of radical and fundamental change promised by Obama.

Indeed, this is what the whole debate about the re-definition of marriage is all about. It has nothing whatsoever to do with "homophobia," but with a prudent appreciation of the profundity of the issues involved -- i.e, not with homosexual "rights" but with heterosexual duties. It's like performing a needlessly radical experiment on a body that is already taxed and trying to maintain its health and equilibrium. Except the experiment is conducted by a handful of lawyers instead of doctors, so we can't even sue them for malpractice.

"There is a point at which the world of spirit comes in conscious contact with the world of matter. That point is man." Dawson felt that "most heresies have come from the inability to walk between the two extremes," so that "to privilege either the spiritual or material at the expense of the other is to verge into a modern form of Gnosticism."

Thus, in reality, man's "whole destiny depends on the proper co-ordination" of matter and spirit; since Man is a bridge, "the lower world is in some sense dependent on him for its spiritualization and its integration in the universal order." And man's true order does not -- and cannot -- come from the material and temporal world, but from the timeless and atemporal. To ignore this reality is to commit cluelesscide as it pertains to one's genuine humanness.

"All true progress comes from the proper use of language." As God "spoke" the cosmos into existence, man "speaks" culture into existence. If the family is the first thing undermined by the left, then language is the second. What is always most startling about leftist discourse is the inebriated and intoxicated abuse of language. Call it discoarse. They truly are at war with the Word, so we can say that Word War I has been going on since the beginning of human time. The contemporary left is just a new whine in a very old battle.

"The 'mastery' of professional historical methods and 'techniques will not produce great history, any more than a mastery of metrical technique will produce great poetry.' The true historian, or the metahistorian, will recognize that 'something more is necessary -- intuitive understanding, creative imagination, and finally a universal vision transcending the relative limitation of the particular field of historical study.'" Thus, the genuine historian must also be a poet in the true sense of the word.

History has both upper and lower vertical aspects, or infraconscious and supraconscious: "What we see in history is only a partial and uncertain manifestation of the spiritual activity which is taking place at once below and above the level of historical study." "We modern sophists... are the ones being unscholarly in discounting a higher power, a power unseen and unknown through our five physical senses, but recognized by all human cultures prior to the advent of modernity."

"Christian culture is always in conflict with the world," whereas leftist culture is always at odds with reality, i.e., the unchanging spiritual reality from which the world derives its meaning and man his significance. To perfectly adapt to the world in the manner of a Darwinian animal is to be a perfect animal. Man's task is surely to adapt, but to the real world of truth, beauty, virtue, and unity.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Horror of Existential Shrinkage

It is only in the poetic imagination which is akin to that of the child and the mystic that we can feel the pure sense of mystery and transcendence which is man's natural element. --Christopher Dawson

Dawson felt that imagination was the most important mode of the metaxy (discussed in Wednesday's post), the divine ←→ human vertical bridge that is Man; and that creativity and imagination were "the greatest gifts God had bequeathed to the human person" (Birzer). Or, if you prefer the psychedelicized and mushroom cloud-hidden words of a raving ethnobotanist,

"The imagination argues for a divine spark in human beings. It is absolutely confounding if you try to see imagination as a necessary quantity in biology. It is an emanation from above -- literally a descent of the world soul" (Terence McKenna).

In order to know reality one must first be capable of imagining reality, something no animal can do. This kind of higher imagination is "the ability to see clearly beyond the here and now into the reality of eternal forms -- thus allowing one to order one's soul to the eternal community."

In the absence of the seer-view mirror of imagination, the human being loses the ability to order anything beyond his immediate sensations and appetites; reality flattens out, so that animals become indistinct from humans, men from women, gods from kings, kings from men, men from monsters, art from entertainment, superstars from benchwarmers. With 20/20 houndsight, all the world essentially becomes analogous to pornography, which is sex drained of eros, or matter drained of soul, or knowledge drained of wisdom.

In contrast, the task of the true Christian -- not unlike that of the improvisational orthoparadoxical bohemian classical liberal Judeo-Vedantin neo-traditionalist -- is to unite matter with soul in order to sanctify the world. Given the ontological fact of the two vertical arrows of existence, there is the possibility of an upword inscape from the world toward the Abbasolute; or a downward escape into the considerable charms and snares of Mamamaya.

But where we are supposed to live is within the innercourse of the two, or more precisely, the One, which can be trimorphically envisioned but not seen; or only seen with higher vision, which is to say, imagination. With our intelligence we may discern the contours of this reality, but with our imagination we may unite ourselves to it. The former is mind, the latter is heart, and their union is the basis of the higher I-mage -- the mage who imagines. That would be us. Like the three magi who discerned the celestial arrows and saw Christ in an anonymous baby in a manger.

As usual, Schuon says it best: "The vice of outwardness is the lack of harmony between the two dimensions: between our tendency towards the things that surround us and our tendency towards the 'kingdom of God which is within you.' What is necessary is to realize a spiritual rootedness that removes from outwardness its tyranny at once dispersing and compressing, and that on the contrary allows us to 'see God everywhere'; which means to perceive symbols, archetypes and essences in sensible things....

"Similarly regarding matter: what is necessary is not to deny it -- if that were possible -- but to withdraw from its seductive and enslaving grasp; to distinguish in it what is archetypal and quasi-celestial from what is accidental and indeed too earthly; hence to treat it with nobleness and sobriety. In other words, outwardness is a right, and inwardness a duty..." The superior man is always fishing for complements, such as heaven-earth or time-eternity.

A one-sided, unimaginative, and dryasdust outworldliness is an affliction that particularly afflicts the psychospiritual left. Even back in his day, Dawson could already see that most liberal statists were "simple-minded secularists and utilitarians who failed to understand truth, beauty and goodness" and "lacked the power of imagination. They were quantifiers and calculators, sophisticated men of the world, but not of the soul. They had been duped by worldly wisdom" (Birzer).

This low altitude is both a cause and consequence of the mechanization of man, and renders him "less than God intended him to be." To put it another way, the inevitable outcome of radical secularism is that one is free, but not free to realize one's spiritual potentialities, and therefore only free in the manner of an uncaged beast; or a beast with impenetrable barriers he cannot see, thus giving the illusion of freedom. But we are creatures and not beasts, for the same reason we are citizens and not subjects.

Imagination mediates between the possible and the actual, and converts walls into windows, windows to doors. It is what allows the infinite and absolute to become intelligible, i.e., to be re-presented in the finite and relative realm.

As Bolton writes, "each relative world contains only a cross-section of the universal possibilities," and each person is just such a relative world. This world can be quite vast and expansive or small and cramped, depending upon the individual case. In other words, the size of the exterior world in which one lives and moves is merely a projection of the human interior.

For example, when we consider the inconceivable vastness of outer space, only a materialized mind living under the "reign of quantity" fails to realize that he is really contemplating the relative infinity of his own soul, for the physical cosmos is neither large nor small, whereas the soul is all it knows. The world it encounters is just the canvas upon which we paint beautiful or ugly pictures with the materials available to us; or the darkwomb in which we develop our pneumagraphs.

Bolton writes that "it may seem strange to speak of the mind as though it were a thing having a physical size, but it undoubtedly has its own analogue of spatial capacity." Furthermore -- and this is a critical point as it pertains to scientism -- the ability "to grasp one part of reality brilliantly while being oblivious of the other things that human minds are capable of can be more opposed to the truth than the perceiving of all things equally dimly."

And this is why, as I have mentioned before, even the literal creationist is surely closer to the reality of the situation than the unimaginative and spiritually autistic atheist who has drained reality of its most essential ideas, archetypes, and principles. His mind contracts the cosmos in order to make it adequate to the cold and shrunken proportions of his own being. This is what the world looks like when you peer into the wrong end of the teloscope.

This existential shrinkage would be a great embarrassment to atheists if only they realized how silly they look to us in their misosophical nakedness, but like children and savages, they live in a kind of naive cognitive innocence without so much as a fig leaf of metaphysics. They have no idea why we laugh at them, which for them is a mercy.

Regarding the "intelligent error" of those shrunken secularists, Schuon writes that "It is only too evident that mental effort does not automatically give rise to the perception of the real; the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error. The paradoxical phenomenon of even a 'brilliant' intelligence being the vehicle of error is explained first of all by the possibility of a mental operation that is exclusively 'horizontal,' hence lacking all awareness of 'vertical' relationships."

In turn, this exclusively horizontal Ørientation "creates a void that the irrational necessarily comes to fill." And of course, there are not just scientific materialists but religious ones, those "whose intellectual intuition remains latent, this being precisely what constitutes the 'obscure merit of faith.'" In other words, even if one cannot understand Truth, one should still believe and have faith in it.

Reason can never arrive at reality, and it is the height of unreasonableness to imagine otherwise. At best, it can remove obstacles in the way of our imaginative vision. As Schuon explains, reasoning is analogous to "the groping of a blind man, with the difference that -- by removing obstacles -- it may bring about a clearing of vision; it is blind and groping due to its indirect and discursive nature." Reason is surely a gift, but a gift that gives -- or facilitates -- something beyond reason.

That is, reason "is a means of knowledge, but this means is mediate and fragmentary like the sense of touch, which enables a blind man to find his way and even to feel the heat of the sun, but not to see." To put it another way, it allows us to uncover the transcendent vision "which one possesses a priori," i.e., vertical recollection.

What does it mean to say that the cosmos is expanding? Again, if one is only referring to physical reality, the point couldn't be more banal. Who cares? In the absence of a stable frame of reference, expansion and contraction are just figures of speech.

In a very real way, the only thing that is actually expanding in the world is man's inwardness, is it not? And if you're not expanding, then you are contracting, for the mind cannot cease its dynamism, its metabolism of reality. You are what you eat, and if you eat the quantified and atomistic sawdust of secularism, you will inevitably be spiritually malnourished, just a shell of your future self.

Slowly, through grace, each Christian is sanctified, the debris of the world being gradually removed from the order of his soul, and then the human as the metaxy serves as the bridge between the spiritual and material worlds. --Bradley Birzer