Thursday, March 24, 2011

To My Detractors: Eat Me!

This culture war has been going on for much longer than people realize. Along these lines, the Divine Comedy actually contains much political "news of the day." However, it would have no relevance to us if it didn't concern themes that are both timeless and universal.

Hey, why don't we shut up and read a little history this morning, okay? Might even learn something.

In Dante's time, Italy was caught between two factions: "While the conflict was local and personal in origin, the parties had come to be associated with the two universal powers," one of which "sided with the Emperor and his rule of Italy," the other "with the Pope, who supported self-governing city-states."

So it sounds a little like big-government Federalists vs. Jeffersonian Republican-Democrats. And Ugolino was one of the Federalistas, except that he apparently conspired with the Papists to secure more power for himself.

Blah blah blah yada yada yada, "Dante placed Ugolino and Ruggieri in the second ring of the lowest circle of the Inferno, which is reserved for betrayers of kin, country, guests, and benefactors. Ugolino’s punishment involves his being entrapped in ice up to his neck in the same hole with his betrayer, Archbishop Ruggieri, who left him to starve to death. Ugolino is constantly gnawing at Ruggieri's skull."

So it sounds like Dante is placing a pox on both these louses. Why?

"Ugolino's gnawing of Ruggieri's head has been interpreted as meaning that Ugolino's hatred for his enemy is so strong that he is compelled to 'devour even what has no substance.' Ugolino, though punished for his betrayal of his people, is allowed some closure for the betrayal that he himself was forced to suffer under Ruggieri, when he is allowed to act as Ruggieri's torturer for eternity."

This makes sense, in that, as we have discussed many times, mundane politics often comes down to mutual projection, or the "organization of hatreds." But projection is always an intrapsychic phenomenon that takes place between two parts of the self. Therefore, Ruggieri is a projection of Ugolino, and vice versa.

One can see this taking place quite transparently when members of one political faction accuse the other of crimes and misdemeanors of which they themselves are guilty. You will have noticed that I never indulge in this kind of hypocrisy, for example, accusing only Democrat politicians of being corrupt. I never pretend to be shocked when a politician of either party is accused of corruption.

While there is indeed a political "culture of corruption," it is underwrotten by a bloated state that has so much money and power with which to corrupt people.

Look at our vice president, who has been quite vocal in his insistence that any president who deploys U.S. troops in the absence of an imminent threat to the country must be impeached. Now, either he believes this, or Biden was simply betraying his country -- a treasonous offense -- when he said it about President Bush. Because Joe Biden never uses words lightly.

One could cite countless other instances of liberals excusing in Obama what they denounced in Bush, but let us move along.

So anyway, it is entirely appropriate that in Hell, Ugolino is permanently reunited with his projected Ruggieri, except in a completely unintegrated -- one might say indigestible -- manner.

In other words, the healthy person integrates various parts of the self -- both horizontal and vertical -- rather than projecting, splitting, and denying them. Please note that we are always one, despite our best efforts to rid ourselves of the parts we don't like, or which clash with the ego's image of itself.

In Hell, Ugolino is reunited with himself, except that he is forever trying (unsuccessfully) to integrate what he projected in this life. In this regard Dante was quite astute in linking this to digestion, as projection arises in the earliest phase of psychosexual development, the oral stage.

Projection in and of itself is by no means pathological. To the contrary, it facilitates the vital link between infant and mother, and indeed, between all humans. We could not meaningfully communicate with one another in the absence of this type of mutual projection, which is deeper than words.

A clearer term for pathological projection might be forced projection, in which, instead of a free flow between subjects, there is a quasi-permanent object within the self that must be constantly projected in order to rid oneself of anxiety, or depression, or low self esteem, whatever. Then the person spends his life in search of suitable receptacles for his projections.

I thought of this the other day while daydreaming behind the wheel. It occurred to me that liberals never accuse conservatives of believing what we actually believe or doing what we actually do. Instead, they take a grossly distorted and exaggerated version of what we believe, and then attack us for it.

Now, if I were actually guilty of what they accuse us of -- e.g., racism, imperialism, misogyny, homophobia, fascism, theocracy, etc. -- I would be the first to attack myself.

There must be a name for this logical fallacy, but I am unaware of it. If it is engaged in consciously, then it is indeed a mere logical fallacy. But I suspect that the majority of liberals do this unconsciously.

In other words, they are simply projecting a primitive part of themselves into us, whether sexual, violent, sadistic, power mad, whatever. And this would explain why it is so difficult to have a rational conversation with a liberal, for when we talk about equality they project racism, or when we talk about marriage they project homophobia, etc.

Again, they seem to be unable to help themselves from accusing us of things we don't believe. They never deal with the actual issue. We can't even have a rational discussion of the fiscal crisis facing state governments, because liberals immediately project into us a violent assault on the "middle class," or some other such primitive fantasy.

I hope I never do this with the left. In other words, I don't accuse them of things they do not do or believe, only what they actually do and believe, which is more than enough for me.

Liberals want a bigger state. I want a smaller one. They want an elastic, "living Constitution." I don't. They want the government to discriminate on the basis of race. I don't. They want more money for teachers' unions. I want vouchers and freedom of choice in education. They want socialized medicine. I want market based reforms. They think the Constitution confers a right to abortion. I don't see it. Etc.

It is sad to think of our trolls eternally gnawing away at my brain in Hell, but that's just the way it is.

Mmm, Gagdad...

27 Comments:

Anonymous will said...

>> . . it would have no relevance to us if it didn't concern themes that are both timeless and universal.<<

Yup, the names and banners may change but the conflict is always the same. There are not "evils", but only one Evil. Just as there is only one Good.

>>. . liberals never accuse conservatives of believing what we actually believe or doing what we actually do.<<

I think this particularly true of the modern atheist whose conception of the religious believer is that of a 12 year old's wish fulfillment, replete with a picture-book God and winged angels and harp-playing souls sitting on clouds. To the extent that this is a projection on the atheist's part shows just how utterly devoid of spiritual awareness they are - but perhaps not devoid of anger at the cosmos, or at God Himself.

3/24/2011 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Will, cooncur. The atheist certainly "believes" something. Can't fool us.
;-)

3/24/2011 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

In other words, they are simply projecting a primitive part of themselves into us, whether sexual, violent, sadistic, power mad, whatever. And this would explain why it is so difficult to have a rational conversation with a liberal, for when we talk about equality they project racism, or when we talk about marriage they project homophobia, etc.

Will, indeed.

Along those lines, perhaps you've seen it already but it's been interesting to watch as the scales are removed from one liberal's eyes. Notably, it's not just that the left is engaged in projection, it's that they must actively strive to hide themselves from the truth, because their projections are so much more compelling.

Mmm, Gagdad.

*shudder*

I don't know why, but somehow the image of one guy chewing on another's brain just became vastly more disturbing.

3/24/2011 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Bob said..
"You will have noticed that I never indulge in this kind of hypocrisy, for example, accusing only Democrat politicians of being corrupt. I never pretend to be shocked when a politician of either party is accused of corruption."

and

"..they take a grossly distorted and exaggerated version of what we believe, and then attack us for it. But I suspect that the majority of liberals do this unconsciously."

I suspect that too.
One of the advantages of having once been a default lib is that now everything (and every one) gets a run through the BS detector. I wouldn't know how to not do it. "Coon's Ear", I think we call it. I wish some libs could get just that through their thick skulls.

3/24/2011 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

(oops; the "Will" part ended up in a random spot there. It was supposed to go at the end...)

3/24/2011 09:41:00 AM  
Anonymous njcommuter said...

It seems to me that when we look at someone doing a thing of which we disapprove strongly, it is easy to say "I couldn't do that unless I were a candy-burning cockroach-feeding DIDDLY-BOOB who goes putting tabasco sauce in children's pudding. THEREFORE the fellow who does that must be a candy-burning cockroach-feeding DIDDLY-BOOB ... and I bet he has stock in the folks who make Tabasco!"

It would seem to be a kind projection, but of a different sort. It does require refusing to see people as they see themselves, and indeed, refusing to see them through any lens except one's own ideology. In the absolute sense, of course, we can't avoid seeing people through our own assumptions, but we can at least try to understand what those do to our perception.

Not so the Leftist, for whom ideology is virtue.

3/24/2011 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"... It occurred to me that liberals never accuse conservatives of believing what we actually believe or doing what we actually do. Instead, they take a grossly distorted and exaggerated version of what we believe, and then attack us for it.

Now, if I were actually guilty of what they accuse us of -- e.g., racism, imperialism, misogyny, homophobia, fascism, theocracy, etc. -- I would be the first to attack myself.

There must be a name for this logical fallacy, but I am unaware of it..."

Wouldn't that be the Strawman?

"...This, of course, is a fallacy, because the position that has been claimed to be refuted is different to that which has actually been refuted; the real target of the argument is untouched by it...."

Also appropriate, since not only is it their favorite fallacy to accuse their opposition of making, but they even resemble the remark, is an Oz sort of way.

3/24/2011 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good point about strawman, but I usually think of that as caricaturing an argument by making it seem weak or silly, whereas liberals make us out to be monstrous and evil....

3/24/2011 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

NJCommuter,

In the absolute sense, of course, we can't avoid seeing people through our own assumptions, but we can at least try to understand what those do to our perception.

I'm reminded again of one of the phenomena of portrait drawing or painting, namely that every portrait is a self-portrait. Artists who are aware of that truth tend to be better able to remove (most of) themselves from the picture than are those who have no idea, a truism I see demonstrated on a near-weekly basis.

As a complete tangent, I'd be interested to see if the same held true in places where people had/ have no access to a mirror...

3/24/2011 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Julie -

>> . . somehow the image of one guy chewing on another's brain just became vastly more disturbing.<<

Some would simply consider that to be "soul food".

wv: "ingod"

Finally I hit the jackpot.

3/24/2011 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Vlad P. said...

Mmm, tastes like Chechen...

3/24/2011 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Will, good point; puts a whole new spin on GIGO. Though I suspect the troll would find Gagdad brains to be indigestible.

On a more serious note, your observation speaks more to the importance of Communion, the ultimate Soul Food.

3/24/2011 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "...I usually think of that as caricaturing an argument by making it seem weak or silly, whereas liberals make us out to be monstrous and evil..."

Hmmm... yeah... but of course that may be because most people get their straw from the haystack, whereas lefties pull it from their guts... which necessarily is going to be less clean and more monstrous and evil from the get go.

3/24/2011 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

D'oh! I just remembered that I had wanted to work in this book about brain-eating, but forgot....

3/24/2011 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Looks like a good read, if a tad pricey.

It's interesting that so many cultures seem to have identified the brain as the seat of isness, so to speak. I seem to recall that in various places and times, the heart held greater significance as something both obviously active within the body and vital to overall function, whereas the brain was sometimes (often?) thought to be just a mass of uninteresting and possibly useless goo.

Also interesting, to me anyway, is the weird prion diseases (kuru, or related mad cow) people tend to develop as a result of consuming cerebral and spinal fluids and tissues. Almost as though there's a built-in biological prohibition against not only cannibalism, but specifically the eating of brains. Not that that ever stopped anyone.

3/24/2011 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "Almost as though there's a built-in biological prohibition against not only cannibalism, but specifically the eating of brains. Not that that ever stopped anyone."

I was going to say that Mad Cow certainly stops the one that gets it... but then there are anomolies... Joy Behar for example....

(rim shot)

3/24/2011 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

:D

Speaking of which, because I lived in England during the danger years and ate the beef, I'm not allowed to donate blood or organs. Prions never die, so they can remain dormant and transmittable for an unknown length of time. If I ever go off the rails, I'm totally blaming the mad cow.

Heck, maybe that's what's gone wrong with England these days...

3/24/2011 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Will said -- ...a 12 year old's wish fulfillment, replete with a picture-book God and winged angels and harp-playing souls sitting on clouds ...

I agree. I always find it difficult to argue with people who expect me to defend concepts I either never held or haven't held since Primary Sunday School class.

3/24/2011 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

Julie said:

"Almost as though there's a built-in biological prohibition against not only cannibalism, but specifically the eating of brains."

I don't know about that. I obviously can't speak for cannibalism (except that there are a lot of animals out there that have no qualms with it), but as a chef and someone who butchers whole animals on a regular basis, I would say that brains, pig brains at least, are delicious. Rich and creamy when prepared properly. It always seems a shame to me to kill an animal and not make use of as much of it as possible, especially when said 'off parts' are so damn delicious.

Anyway, back to reading. I'm really enjoying the posts on Dante! The Inferno is one of my favorite books, every time I read it, I discover something I missed last time...

3/24/2011 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Paul,
my apologies, perhaps I should have been a bit clearer. While I don't know of people having problems from eating the brains, etc. of other animals, generally speaking, the eating of human brains tends to be problematic. In a similar vein, it is thought that mad cow disease originated from the practice of mixing of cow and sheep remains remains into their feed. Needless to say, cows were never meant to be cannibals!

Even so, it should be noted that as usual, I'm pretty much just talking out my backside on this one. :)

3/24/2011 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Roger Scruton makes the same observation lately (he's with Res Publica now, Blond's organization in Britain, which is worthwhile Googling, BTW). http://www.respublica.org.uk/ We all do the projecting, but liberalism elevates it to an ideology. Or, to quote Flight of the Phoenix, "He may have made stubborness a virtue, but you've made it a bloody science!". Thanks, GB.

3/25/2011 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

If you haven't read it, Roger Scruton's Beauty and Desecration - We must rescue art from the modern intoxication with ugliness. is excellent. I can't get to YouTube during the day, but I know he made a full video presentation of this, which exists as a series of vids on YouTube - very well worth tracking down.

3/25/2011 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Van, thanks for the article. This point:

"Indeed, there arose a widespread suspicion of beauty as next in line to kitsch—something too sweet and inoffensive for the serious modern artist to pursue."

is a good one, but also demonstrates how poorly people understand beauty. That is, I think a great many think of beauty as mere prettiness.

3/25/2011 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger philmon said...

Again, they seem to be unable to help themselves from accusing us of things we don't believe. They never deal with the actual issue. We can't even have a rational discussion

Witness Whoopee's response to Trump's pointing out that there is something a little weird about the whole locking down of Obama's past from his college records to the controversy over the birth certificate -- and that maybe Obama should just show the darned thing to make these people put up or shut up about it ... the response had nothing to do with the issue at hand -- that being, is there something to this or not?

No, it went directly to name calling "that's total bullsh*t" (well hey, can't argue with that airtight logical argument) and from there it was a comfortable step into the race card.

Not anything rational like arguing that he's shown the document that Hawaii uses for official documentation or any positive evidence like that to support her position. You can't have a rational discussion about it.

Nope, it's gotta be because you hate black people, Mr. Trump.

3/26/2011 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

She's truly a Whoopi cushion -- when pressed, she emits loud flatulence.

3/26/2011 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger philmon said...

Van, re beauty and art.

Ever see this site? I rather like it. And their philosophy is spot on.

3/26/2011 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Philmon,

Well done, always a fine thing when someone else recommends what you think highly of as well. ArtRenewal.org rounds out the list of ‘Highly Recommended Reading’ on the top right of my blog. That site is one that is difficult to ever recommend enough... especially in a world that would just as soon gaze on zombies.

3/26/2011 11:08:00 PM  

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