Monday, March 14, 2011

Incarnating the AntiWord

Is it getting hot in here, or are we getting close to the center of Hell? We haven't yet bumped into any religious founders -- that will have to wait until the next canto -- but I do see a Pope up ahead, in the rear-view mirror.

Why, it's Pope Boniface, who does indeed have the insolent mouth of a maliface criminal. What did he do to get here?

Probably not much. If you're Pope, the standards should be higher, should they not? I don't want to go to a doctor who knows no more about medicine than I do.

The same goes for a doctor of the soul. But it's very tricky when you institutionalize these things. There are inevitably a few rotten apostles in the barrel. And it's no less tricky if you don't institutionalize the ordainment of hOly men, because then you end in a cult o' vultures or deepack o' jackals.

Come to think of it, it really reminds me of psychology. I am a "licensed clinical psychologist." As such, I can assure you that the title is absolutely meaningless. It means precisely nothing. It implies no skill, no talent, no gift, no special knowledge, no intellect, no expertise, no wisdom. The difference between a good and bad psychologist is more or less infinite, even though they have the same coarse crudential.

Indeed, quite often it implies just the opposite of wisdom and good sense, for there is no indoctrination like the indoctrination of the educated. Since they move in herds, it's easy to corral them.

It's not just psychology, but the social sciences in general. Again, there is more wisdom in one of Don Colacho's aphorisms than in whole university departments, which is not surprising, since these subversive little depth charges generally teach the opposite of what is taught in a typical graduate school.

Example?

Okay. The psychologist dwells in the slums of the soul, just as the sociologist dwells on the outskirts of society. (1)

The idea of “the free development of personality” seems admirable as long as one does not meet an individual whose personality has developed freely.
(2)

Poverty is the only barrier to the throng of vulgarities that whinny inside souls.
(3)

He who understands least is he who he stubbornly insists on understanding more than can be understood.
(4)

Our maturity must re-conquer its lucidity daily.
(5)

How can one claim to be a psychologist and not understand the distinction between soul and psyche (1), or the proper uses of freedom (2), or the nature of sin (3), or the limits of human knowledge (4), or the proper goal of the human maturational process (5)?

Forget any one of these, and you have fallen into a parallel looniverse of tenured nonsense. You are so far from being a nuisance Coonical Pslackologist that I can't even smell you from here.

Back to Boniface. How did he get here? I'm not sure if we can trust Dante, since he clearly has a vendetta against the man, and I certainly know nothing about him.

Says here that "Boniface, for Dante, is personal and public enemy number one.... Dante now settles his score with Boniface in the Divine Comedy by damning the pope even before his death in 1303 (the journey takes place in 1300)."

Let's let wikipedia sort it out.

This doesn't look good. There were rumors that he pressured the previous Pope -- a saintly man -- to resign, and "One of his first acts as pontiff was to imprison his predecessor in the Castle of Fumone." He "put forward some of the strongest claims to temporal, as well as spiritual, power of any Pope, and constantly involved himself with foreign affairs."

Uh oh. His chief minister denounced him as "a heretical criminal (and practitioner of sodomy)," and "There were rumors he had died of suicide from 'gnawing through his own arm' and bashing his skull into a wall."

Well, who knows? The point is that if he were guilty of such acts, Dante is showing us the appropriate punishment.

For Dante, one of the worst sins allegedly committed by Boniface was to preemptively absolve a man of sin -- in other words, to forgive him of a sin he was about to commit for his own benefit.

Today we refer to it as "teaching children self esteem" for doing both nothing and anything. No one has more self-esteem than the criminal or the leftist who boldly believes he is entitled to your stuff.

Boniface's "evil counselor," Guido da Montefeltro, is in Canto XXVII, while Boniface himself is first referred to back in Canto XIX, where we are told that he will reside in another precinct of the eighth circle for "taking by guile" and violating the "Lovely Lady," i.e., the Church.

Can't get much worse than that. If the Church is the temporal prolongation of Mary, where the eternal Word is ceaselessly conceived and given birth in the ground of the soul, then to violate Her is to poison the pneumacosmic economy at the very root. It is rape, it is incest, it is murder, and it is suicide, all rolled into one.

Which reminds us of another aphorism: What is thought against the Church, unless it is thought from within the Church, lacks interest.

20 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

For Dante, one of the worst sins allegedly committed by Boniface was to preemptively absolve a man of sin -- in other words, to forgive him of a sin he was about to commit for his own benefit.

It's like an attempt at spiritual money laundering. Heh - perhaps that's where the Mafia got the idea.

3/14/2011 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Great Post, Bob.

Prediction: you are gonna love "John Adams"

3/14/2011 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"He who understands least is he who he stubbornly insists on understanding more than can be understood."

Still catching up from a weekend trip on the last two from last week, but this is just sooo So nails it!

3/14/2011 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boniface's "evil counselor," Guido da Montefeltro, is in Canto XXVII, while Boniface himself is first referred to back in Canto XIX, where we are told that he will reside in another precinct of the eighth circle for "taking by guile" and violating the "Lovely Lady," i.e., the Church.

Never trust a guy called Guido.

Skully wizdum 666

3/14/2011 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

How can one claim to be a psychologist and not understand the distinction between soul and psyche (1), or the proper uses of freedom (2), or the nature of sin (3), or the limits of human knowledge (4), or the proper goal of the human maturational process (5)?

Damn straight. If I ever see another psycho doc I will use this template to verify and save time.
It's increasingly difficult (almost overwhelmingly so) to find a good shrink.

3/14/2011 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Deepack o' jackals would be an appropriate name for a death metal band.

3/14/2011 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

The difference between a good and bad psychologist is more or less infinite, even though they have the same coarse crudential.

Aye. Thankfully, it doesn't take long to identify a bad psychologist.
They can't help but regurgitate some deepacrapraisms.

3/14/2011 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger philmon said...

"I am a 'licensed clinical psychologist.' As such, I can assure you that the title is absolutely meaningless. It means precisely nothing."

And it is precisely because of this recognition that, had I need of one, I'd go straight to you. Assuming I was sane enough to recognize your recognition. Ah, curse you recursiveness!

Ooooh. I particularly like these two:

Poverty is the only barrier to the throng of vulgarities that whinny inside souls.

He who understands least is he who he stubbornly insists on understanding more than can be understood.

3/14/2011 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Philmon said "Ah, curse you recursiveness!"

And people say infinity is hard to imagine.

3/14/2011 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Verdiales said...

Bob, good stuff. Don Colacho is great, but I don't get what looks like his monarchist streak. Dante had a similar bent. I agree with a lot of DC's critical aphorisms, but his positive case still seems vague to me. It had to do with hierarchy, and I see the value of that in some spheres, but in all? No. There's something marmoreal about Colacho's "reactionary" that I think is unwise. I'm trying to sort it out.

Thanks for this series on Dante, which is like a spiritual Thoreau's version -- in the sense that your reflections aren't academic, but felt on the pulse.

God bless.

3/14/2011 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Verdiales, I've noticed the same thing. It seems quite common among non-American traditionalists, including Schuon, HvB and Tomberg off the top of my head. Personally, I don't find it off-putting, I think it just comes with the territory - European descent, beneficiary of the class system, etc. At this point in history, the American experiment is still an anomaly. Democracy as it's being tried in other places tends to devolve into socialism, compared to which monarchy actually has a certain appeal, inasmuch as with a benevolent ruler restrained somewhat by law and tradition, the people may flourish.

For that matter, as we are learning even here, the state of the head of state has a tremendous impact on the state, be it a monarch or a president. Even here there is hierarchy, it's just that it is (in theory) easier to move between the levels.

3/14/2011 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger katzxy said...

Re Verdiales and Julie following:
Democracy is not the point, liberty is. Democracy is a means to that end.

That idea is not original to me. I got from Popper, "The Open Society and It's Enemies."

3/14/2011 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Democracy is of no value, in and of itself.

Not even Liberty is a value, in and of itself.

Truth, or better yet, because they should never be attempted to be separated in our thoughts, the Good, the Beautiful and the True, are values without which we can have NO values, in and of anything... at all.

The Good, the Beautiful and the True, are hierarchical by nature, and by following and adhering to them in reality, we are able to experience Value, Liberty and Happiness.

Another point is that the ideas of Popper were and are the enemies of the open society. Perhaps a bit unfair to say since I don't have the time to detail why, but I have here several times, and I believe Gagdad has at least once. But as a shortcut, Popper's ideas relied heavily upon the ideas of Hume, whose ideas form the basis of 'we can't know anything at all, let alone what is good, or beautiful... and 'true'? don't make me laugh!'.

3/14/2011 06:29:00 PM  
Anonymous njcommuter said...

B'ob, please pardon my nuisancing, but the February page lacks the articles between 1/31 and 2/10. I was just going back to read up, but ....

3/15/2011 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger phil g said...

Democracy is not necessarily a means to the end of liberty see the Middle East. Our culture has for a long time now used democracy and liberty so interchangeably that the distinctions have become blurred.

Fact: there can be a lot more LIBERTY in a properly ordered monarchy than a DEMOCRACY.

Fact: our form of government and that of the West is not a Democracy but a Representative Republic or Parliamentary Republic that have certain characteristics of a Democracy with lots of firewalls.

Dante was probably partial to monarchical form of government because that was the most common form and when done reasonably well provided the most order and liberty to its citizens/subjects. The best monarchy's were anchored in the concept of divine right which functioned as a form of moral guide...not perfect but far better than what we see with most modern dictators. Monarchy's powers were also typically quite constrained by parliaments, challenges and finances. Was England generally better off with a functioning monarchy and parliament or the hot head dictator Cromwell?

One of the worst forms of government I can imagine is Libertarian which is really not government at all but rather no government posing as government.

3/15/2011 04:19:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Phil_g said “Fact: there can be a lot more LIBERTY in a properly ordered monarchy than a DEMOCRACY.”

Definitely. We are a constitutional representative republic, some of whose members are democratically elected. The Founder’s were very much aware of what Democracy was, and did their very best to ensure that we would never become one.

If we sink to that level, through measures such as the 17th amdt, and allowing a 'living constitution' interpretation of the Constitution... that's our fault, not theirs.

“One of the worst forms of government I can imagine is Libertarian which is really not government at all but rather no government posing as government.”

Agreed.

3/15/2011 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

I tend to agree with Van - Truth has primal value - other values come later. Westerners value Liberty as at least co-equal.

Dante's beef with the pope probably revolved around the Holy Roman Empire and the growing power of the secular popes. Dante was a Ghibelline in the factional conflict against the Guelphs. The popes were usurping the primal sacral nature of the dual-natured God-King of ancient Europe. By contrast, Dante's faction believed that society should be ordered and lead by a warrior-priest, whose power and relationship with God were direct, without investment from the priestly orders.

I think this is pretty accurate. De Monarchia is Dante's exposition of such.

3/15/2011 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

njcommuter:

Try it now. I changed the arkive to weekly.

3/15/2011 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger katzxy said...

Van,

I'm aware that there are serious issues around Popper, but since that is where I got the idea, I've got to give him credit.

The thread was about the monarchist cast to Don Colacho, and my point is that liberty is a higher value than democracy.

3/15/2011 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Katzxy said "...since that is where I got the idea, I've got to give him credit.
... my point is that liberty is a higher value than democracy."

Ah, gotcha, ok.

(Annoying and probably unnecessary attempt at a last word - Except that Democracy is a means that will only seem to approach, but will ultimately destroy those ends.)

3/15/2011 09:08:00 AM  

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