Friday, February 11, 2011

Rage Machines Raging Against the Machine

Dante's fourth circle of hell is reserved for the greedy -- discussed yesterday -- but also the wrathful and sullen. What is the common demonimator holding these three seemingly disparate sins -- I would prefer at this exploratory juncture to use the less saturated "states of being" -- together?

No idea, but we'll keep the question in mind as we proceed.

To begin with, it seems that in each case, the sense of proportion and perspective has been lost. With regard to the greedy, Dante has Virgil say that each one of them / Was so asquint, he could not see to spend / With any sort of measure or restraint. (By "asquint" he means "squint-eyed," or looking at the world through a microscope of greed instead of the teloscope of faith and magnanimity.)

The greedy have lost faith in Providence, and in effect, try to become God by exerting absolute control over Fortune. As Upton explains, both the miser and the spendthrift behave as if Dame Fortune has been -- or could be -- conquered.

Luck let a gentleman see / How nice a dame you can be / I've seen the way you've treated other guys you've been with / Luck be a lady with me.

But as the great tragedians teach us, no one is brought so low as the high and mighty who again imagine they have cheated the Law. Just when you have everything under control, the Muslim Brotherhood is asking for your head on a platter, or that shadow on the x-ray turns out to be an inoperable tumor, or your financial advisor is running a Ponzi scheme. Hey, A lady doesn't leave her escort / It isn't fair, and it's not nice!

This has an important economic dimension, because only in a free market economy does luck become a factor woven into the very system. In any socialist command economy, elites attempt to control fortune by exerting top-down authority. And as we all know, this only results in less wealth and fortune for everyone. "To cry out against Fortune while demanding Justice is a contradiction" (Upton), because it ends up eliminating both.

In order for the free market system to work, it is critical that we do not envy those upon whom Fortune has smiled or whose bones she blows -- unlike the controlling brute who who insists that A lady doesn't wander all over the room / And blow on some other guy's dice.

Interestingly, Upton notes that Fortune has a kind of cosmic function, as it is "a manifestation of the Divine impartiality," which is "stable in the higher realm, but unstable and capricious -- though only apparently so -- in the lower one." If we could control fortune, it would be equivalent to being God. We would certainly have no need to rely upon God, because we could control our destiny as easily as we control, say, electricity.

But thank God we do not have this kind of control over our lives, because, like the socialist economic planner, we simply do not have sufficient information to make rational decisions. And pretending we do immediately renders us irrational.

In other words, if Hayek's "knowledge problem" applies to markets, how much more so does it apply to the soul's terrestrial journey! As they say, more tears are shed over answered than unanswered prayers. "Thy will be done" implies "my will not be done" -- or, more to the point, my purblind willfulness not be done.

Referring back to a comment from a couple of posts ago, the alcoholic can only begin his recovery once he abandons the illusion of self control, and gives himself over to a "higher power." But the reason AA works is that it simply enunciates principles that are universal, regardless of whether one is an addict.

Please note that the Christian God is not a God of "control," but of abandoning control in the most shocking way imaginable. All pagan religions -- including paganized Christianity -- are doctrines of magical control. In contrast, Christianity recognizes the "power of powerlessness," so to speak: the meek shall inherit the earth, and so on.

To paraphrase our Unknown Friend, not only does God not control history like an Obamunist czar, but he is crucified within history, submitting to it entirely. This is a strange, strange, doctrine, far too weird and counter-intuitive for anyone to invent.

The envious left is preoccupied with certain classes of people upon whom Fortune has smiled, but never in any consistent or intellectually honest way. Productive CEOs are paid too much, but you certainly don't hear them complaining about worthless actors' salaries. Corporations are greedy, but never the state. Pharmaceutical companies that discover life-saving drugs are enemies, but parasitic trial lawyers who contribute nothing to society escape notice. And so on.

A little deeper down in the fourth circle are "the souls of the angry" who "attack each other forever" (Upton). Each of them is an enraged little OlbermanBearPig shrieking about his worst person in the world!

Upton makes the important point that, like lust and gluttony, wrath is a normal mode that is sharply exaggerated and out of balance. Its "higher archetpe" is justice, which means that the wrathful are obsessed with some perceived injustice.

But since injustice is everywhere, this means there is never any shortage of pretexts for the wrathful to vent their rage. The reason the left invented the meaningless term "social justice" was in order to legitimize their perpetual rage. Dreams of infinite terrestrial justice evoke omnipotent outrage. Which is when the real killing begins.

The question, as always, is whether the anger is divine or demonic, righteous or merely self-righteous. Proper anger "is that which allows us to take an aggressive stand, but it needs to be tempered by service to something higher than itself" (Upton).

But cut off from its higher archetype, anger becomes petty, distorted, and permanently aggrieved. And once it roosts in the psyche, it serves as an attractor that seeks out what it requires in order to go on being. It "sinks back into itself" and draws "souls into a horrible stagnation" or fevered swamp. Are there people on the right who do this, in imitation of the left? Yes, and I can't stand them.

What about the sullen? Don't you know any sullen people? They are impossible to be around, because they try to infect others with their sullenness, which is a kind of aggressive attack.

Dennis Prager makes a big point about this, and insists that happiness is a moral obligation. In other words, even if you are unhappy inside, it is not right to inflict your unhappiness upon others, and to draw them into your toxic attractor. At first blush "immoral" may seem like a strong word, but it is no different than spreading the flu, or not bathing and inflicting your beastly smell on your coworkers.

Greed, anger, sullenness. What's the connection? In each case, the person forgets all about real justice, and converts his own petty concerns into narcissistic idols that become far more important than they actually are. And "in doing so, one turns away from God's Will and toward self-will: and this is the essence of Anger" (Upton).

I do not know of a sin which is not, for the noble soul, its own punishment. --Don Colacho

32 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Please note that the Christian God is not a God of "control," but of abandoning control in the most shocking way imaginable.

Along those lines, Father Stephen this week.

Upton makes the important point that, like lust and gluttony, wrath is a normal mode that is sharply exaggerated and out of balance. Its "higher archetpe" is justice, which means that the wrathful are obsessed with some perceived injustice.

Also here.

2/11/2011 08:12:00 AM  
Anonymous just asking... said...

So what exactly is your point here?

2/11/2011 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oy - speaking of rage machines raging against the machine, so is Egypt now to become Afghanistan west? Or maybe lower Palestine? I wish I could be glad they're overturning the old regime, but what they seem to want appears to be much worse than what they had.

2/11/2011 08:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

So what exactly is your point here?

Just to have a little fun at your expense.

2/11/2011 08:36:00 AM  
Anonymous 1st grade teacher said...

Aww, it seems like today's post was a little challenging for some of you kiddies. Let's see if this doesn't make it a little easier:

Don't waste your life being a Grumpy Munchkin or a Whiny McPoopypants.

If you keep on making that mood, it's gonna stay that way forever.

Dante forgot to mention that the swamp is also filled with worms - long thin slimy ones, short fat juicy ones, itsy bitsy fuzzy wuzzy worms...

Mmmkay?

2/11/2011 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

This is some powerful stuff. The thoughts about fortune tie into the scientistic mindset. As has been mentioned before, one of Dawkins' more juvenile gibes is that if Christians had a direct connection to God, they could get the lottery numbers every week. In other words, luck, good or ill, is proof that God does not exist.

Fortune exists because freedom exists ... and the truth will set you free.

2/11/2011 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Brings to mind another Colachoism:

Stupidity appropriates what science invents with diabolical facility.

2/11/2011 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

"..if Christians had a direct connection to God, they could get the lottery numbers every week"

This is the End of Conversation Phase of the conversation.

Jeepers. Does he realize what that would do to the payout?
;-)

Also, file under: do not believe in the same God you don't believe in.

2/11/2011 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. the lotto numbers, I also find it amusing that the underlying assumption is that winning the lotto is actually a good thing.

2/11/2011 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Similar to the "loss of faith in Providence" and the sullen person, it is said that to despair is to sin, I believe.
That's a tough one, no doubt, if not the toughest, since who hasn't either been at the end of their rope or know someone or many someones. But it helps to think in that way in between the rope ends and over the speed bumps. And if there is one Loaf in the boat Who believes.
Imagine if priests or nuns, Saints ran down the street in panic. Thank God for them.

2/11/2011 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Julie,
True that.

2/11/2011 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Forgot to say, Great Post!

And you are right about the "too weird", Bob. I'd reference the part (the instant) of the Bible were this occurred to me, but the secret must be protected. And the flow of lotto numbers.

2/11/2011 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Scary ... to note aspects of these hell realms in myself.

Educational ... to have them described "by degrees," or levels, so as to see them as stations.

Humbling ... to realize I am not mired in them all-ways -- that is, what a Lucky life I have led!

Thanks Bob!

2/11/2011 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good news: three psychologists in a thousand are conservative. I thought it was only two.

2/11/2011 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Heh. Leads me to wonder, if more conservatives were psychologists, would it be a more respected field?

2/11/2011 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Just a brilliant post. Love this meshing of psychology with metaphysical/theological foundation.

Pharmaceutical companies that discover life-saving drugs are enemies, but parasitic trial lawyers who contribute nothing to society escape notice.

And how. In my various business ventures I always seem to be up against the Left in some way. For 5 years in the mid-2000s I was doing commercial aviation security. The "enemy" was of course Islamism, but the natural ally of that enemy was and still is (the Muslim Brotherhood are actually rational secular partners in peace) the Left.

Today we're in a brand new company which right now is attempting to help large pharma firms defend themselves against the incredibly damaging and insane attacks instigated by Leftists, and implemented by trial lawyers, among others. It makes me wrathful, to be sure. One of our clients is about to do for stroke what statins did for LDL. This is an unalloyed good for mankind, yet the Left attacks them mercilessly.

The Left instinctively cleaves unto Evil. What more can you say?

2/11/2011 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Further to the above, Bob has remarked numerous times on the frenetic and oft times titanic surge of raw energy the Left continuously brings to its countless sinister causes. In many industries it is literally becoming necessary to use automated systems to help protect corporate integrity against these constant assaults (we're one of the vendors of such systems, among other products). It very much seems like a losing battle at times. I just want to spend time with my wife and daughter during down time, but it's difficult knowing these demons are methodically hacking away at the foundations of the companies that invent and supply our medicine.

2/11/2011 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger philmon said...

I know you've never been a lady to begin with

Dang, Bob, we've got a lot of musical overlap.

This is one of your better posts (and that's saying something) since I started reading you regularly a few weeks ago.

like lust and gluttony, wrath is a normal mode that is sharply exaggerated and out of balance. Its "higher archetpe" is justice, which means that the wrathful are obsessed with some perceived injustice.

But since injustice is everywhere, this means there is never any shortage of pretexts for the wrathful to vent their rage. The reason the left invented the meaningless term "social justice" was in order to legitimize their perpetual rage.


You know, sometimes there's things that you know that you just haven't found the words in which to put them. This is one of those funky times.

Who is this "Upton" character? Sounds like another book I don't have time to read that I ought to read.

And here's another:

The question, as always, is whether the anger is divine or demonic, righteous or merely self-righteous. Proper anger "is that which allows us to take an aggressive stand, but it needs to be tempered by service to something higher than itself" (Upton).

But cut off from its higher archetype, anger becomes petty, distorted, and permanently aggrieved.


I always knew that there was a dimension to anger that wasn't evil. Or perhaps a better way of putting it is there is a dimension in which anger isn't evil. "Higher archetype". I like it. When anger serves justice, and not any more than needed (temperance) ... well there you have it.

One of the Left's favorite "slams" against America and Western Culture in general is, when we use force to impose our will on others, they come back with, "oh, so Might makes Right, then?"

My response eventually became, "no, but isn't it better if right has might? If right has no might or is unwilling to use it, wrong wins."

2/11/2011 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger philmon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/11/2011 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger philmon said...

(sorry about the delete. The only way I could edit. I left a word out)

Re: Upton

Ah, Jennifer & Charles. For some reason I had it in my head that you were actually reading Dante's Inferno. But it's the Uptons' work on Dante.

Got it.

Call me dense.

I'm about 3/4 the way through "One Cosmos, Under God".

I'm quite glad I got it. Very insightful stuff here.

Engagingly written (for someone like me who likes wordplay and the occasional non sequitur speaking into the camera out of character).

2/11/2011 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. the reading, while I don't think Bob is reading the Inferno, a few of us are. I bought my copy last summer, but found the Longfellow translation a bit impenetrable without some translatory assistance. The Upton is very helpful in that regard, along with some online resources, plus I find it tremendously helpful to have a reason other than my own vague half-formed interest to actually sit down and work through it.

2/11/2011 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger wild said...

In pretty much every area that has excited the attention of "Progressives", be it educational achievement, economic development, scientific advancement, respect for the arts, or the promotion of (greater) liberty and (higher) moral standards, if you encounter falling educational standards, economic decline, abuse of science, cultural nihilism, political intolerance, and the active promotion of immorality, you expect to encounter the active involvement of "Progressives".

Most people it seems associate (both locally and globally) the Left with catastrophic moral failure.

And yet Left have never been so entrenched, so bloated, so unchallenged. You would think that given the association of Leftist parasitocracy with failure, voters would say, go away.

But what do I see? Despite the general recognition that the Left have been an educational, economic, cultural, and moral disaster, I see most people wanting more of the same.

In the UK for example, where I live, the last government are passing on huge debts to our children, and yet instead of being viewed as scoundrels (or should I say despite being viewed as scoundrels) the Labour Party is as popular as it ever was, especially amongst the young!

Maybe humans admire liars who tell us what they want to hear, even though they know them to be scoundrels, just so long we think that it will be somebody else who suffers.

I get the impression that the "Sixties Generation" (in the West) is one of the most selfish and narcissistic in history. How do you get that generation to care about anything other than their next "free" lunch? That noise you hear is the sound of a spoilt and greedy generation crying out for more.

2/11/2011 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

The "progressive" impulse certainly crosses party lines these days, at least economically. Bush for example did little to reverse, and much to accelerate the sharp decline in US relevance in the world. He failed to confront the swelling US Leviathan in any meaningful way.

Partially as a result of America's transformation into a partially socialist economy (anyone who thinks the US is devoid of socialism compared to Europe is high, and not "on life") we have statistics like this: in the early 1990s the US exchanges hosted half of the world's new companies. Last year there were 171 new US companies with a worth of $45B, while internationally there were 1,295 new firms worth $237B.

Meanwhile the average salary of police officers in debt-riddled, 3rd World-esque Camden, NJ is $140,000 per year.

How much of this is due to "progressive" policies? Well, I'd say if you have to ask...

2/12/2011 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

NB,
Unless those 1,295 new firms are all evil petting zoos, then at least it's still happening somewhere.
Are the 1,295 firms spread over the other countries somewhat evenly? Or are they say on the steady increase in a handful of countries? (hopefully countries becoming less socialistic).

2/12/2011 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

We've been in a "liberal" political era since 2000.

Based on prior political cycles, it should last another ten years, at least.

2/12/2011 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

One thing you can say though, but check my math, those new US firms were individually worth nearly double the other countries. Averaging of course.
You could say though that those companies required that kind of return to be worth starting.

2/12/2011 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Bob says:

"Upton makes the important point that, like lust and gluttony, wrath is a normal mode that is sharply exaggerated and out of balance. Its "higher archetpe" is justice, which means that the wrathful are obsessed with some perceived injustice.

But since injustice is everywhere, this means there is never any shortage of pretexts for the wrathful to vent their rage. The reason the left invented the meaningless term "social justice" was in order to legitimize their perpetual rage. Dreams of infinite terrestrial justice evoke omnipotent outrage. Which is when the real killing begins."

Yep, this is definitely one of my problems.

Of course, my issue is that I approach it from more of a moral justice standpoint than social justice.

Probably inherited some of it from my father. He really enjoyed enforcing the moral order within a school environment. He always wanted to be an FBI agent or Secret Service agent. However, at the time, he ended up a high school assistant principle in charge of discipline.

I was one of those teenagers (17-19 or so) who always loved it when the police would bust a local party for underage drinking. Part of it was that to me, it represented rebellion and needed to be put down.

I was always upset that they didn't punish teenagers more so that they would never again be a problem.

2/12/2011 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

In other news, I was reading Bob's book again focusing in the earlier section on matter.

It had never really occurred to me that with respect to cosmic evolution, you have various differnt points that last for unknown (to us, in advance) periods of time.

For example, we have the inflationary epoch that ended between 10^-33 and 10^-32 seconds after the Big Bang.

You have the lepton epoch that lasted 10 seconds at most.

Then the photon epoch that lasted about 380,000 years.

Reionization lasted 150 million to 1 billion years.

So, from that point of view, the fact that humaness has only been around, what 50,000 years, tells us absolutely nothing.

Human history could last for quite some time.

Could be 100 years.
Could be another 10,000 years. Could be another 10 million years.
Coulb be 1 billion years.

From that point of view, it's kind of completely irrelevant how long humans have already been around.

2/12/2011 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"But since injustice is everywhere, this means there is never any shortage of pretexts for the wrathful to vent their rage. The reason the left invented the meaningless term "social justice" was in order to legitimize their perpetual rage. Dreams of infinite terrestrial justice evoke omnipotent outrage. Which is when the real killing begins."

Yep. Never a shortage of results whose causes can be ignored through the application of one particular label or another. And once materialized ('matter-liarized'?), can be dealt with as an isolated something which can be stamped out of existence by the simple and scientistic application of physical force – truth, fortune, choice & free will be damned.

“I do not know of a sin which is not, for the noble soul, its own punishment. --Don Colacho”

Oh… sooo true, the proof is in the putting,

"Greed, anger, sullenness. What's the connection? In each case, the person forgets all about real justice, and converts his own petty concerns into narcissistic idols that become far more important than they actually are. And "in doing so, one turns away from God's Will and toward self-will: and this is the essence of Anger" (Upton)."

2/12/2011 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Messenger boy said...

This just in--instructions for GDB from high up.

"Pundit rests for one day; a seer you will be--

Bring something new from the depths for readers to read--

Tonight at the still lake inside, beside the stony peak--

The one who now summons there shall you meet--

There you will be given what you shall recieve--

And then you shall write of what you percieved."

OK that's it. Delete after reading. Peace out.

2/12/2011 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Van says:

"And once materialized ('matter-liarized'?), can be dealt with as an isolated something which can be stamped out of existence by the simple and scientistic application of physical force – truth, fortune, choice & free will be damned."

Yep. Always a problem. I think is has to do with the engineering, technocratic, determisitic, and materialistic mode of thinking combined with an overlay of puritian moral perfectionistic absolutism.

Individual engaging in error?

Error has no rights. The wages of sin are death. Mark for deletion.

I've never quite figured out what to do with my perfectionary impulse that all those who dare to violate the moral order should be hung from the leafless tree.

If there's one impulse that seems to have no useful purpose, that would be it.

2/13/2011 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

OT and barging in AND asking for a favor!

I am just about to get my first DSLR and take up photography as a hobby. My approach to getting started (especially re. buying gear) would make any truly artistic person go crazy, so I've had to stop asking my really close photographer friend questions.

If you wouldn't mind helping me with two questions I am struggling with, I'd be very grateful. My email is gringagirl18 @ gmail . com

The questions are about lenses and working with an external hard drive/mac.

Thanks in advance,
Leslie

2/13/2011 04:52:00 PM  

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