Thursday, April 21, 2011

Two Tribes, Two Dreams, One Dreamer

Surmounting all is an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality, and this is the sanction to which both ideas and beliefs are ultimately referred for verification. Without the metaphysical dream it is impossible to think of men living together harmoniously over an extent of time. The dream carries with it an evaluation, which is the bond of spiritual community. --Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences

Trying to locate the "origins of political order" is a bit like trying to remember the beginning of a dream -- which ain't gonna happen. We never remember the beginning of a dream. Rather, we somehow find ourselves in the middle of one, and no matter how many times it happens, we're always surprised and more or less puzzled to be there. You know, like life. WTF are we doing here?!

It is exactly the same with the origins of politics, which must be coterminous with the origins of humanness. There is no humanness without some kind of psycho-political and pneuma-political order.

For just as kinship and tribal structures are the politics of early man, politics as we know it is the tribal structure of modern man. What are liberal and conservative but two different tribes? Hence the primitive emotionality that is unleashed as a result.

There are two ways we can approach the problem. Indeed, one might even say that there are two tribes who approach the problem in alternate ways. Fukuyama clearly belongs to the tribe that believes in rationalism and naturalistic explanations, which is fine. I never question another guy's faith.

But what if politics is actually the unfolding instantiation of something higher -- not just a complicated way for monkeys to organize themselves, but an ingression of cosmic principles?

For while Fukuyama shows a certain respect for the other tribe, he repeatedly lets on that he doesn't really take our orientation seriously, and automatically translates our beliefs into his language.

For example, our tribe sees a direct link between the unique emergence of individualism in the West, and Christianity's emphasis on the infinite value of the individual. Fukuyama, to his credit, acknowledges this historical reality -- which already places him miles above the multicultural crowd -- but then ascribes it to material/efficient causes.

Fukuyama begins his search for the Origin with our prehuman ancestors. Here again, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, and much to admire and learn from -- indeed, I did the same thing in my own book.

But there is a massive difference between saying that man came from the apes as opposed to through them. For just because humanness emerges in a modified ape brain, it hardly means that this trivial change was sufficient to account for the vast differences.

In Fukuyama's tribe, they point to the "one percent difference" in the genome between man and chimp. In our tribe, we point to the same one percent to show the relative insignificance of DNA in distinguishing man from ape.

Perhaps that one percent doesn't constrain but permits. After ninety-nine Noes! that keep consciousness plunged in the body and merged with the senses, a single Yes! liberates it out into the infinite.

It very much reminds us of that otherwise undistinguished novel, Little Big, which depicts the world as a series of concentric circles, with Reality at the center.

However, unlike in the wideawake world of Aristotelean geometry, in this case, the closer one penetrates toward the center, the more expansive the world, until one reaches the Absolute center which is simultaneously Infinite circumference.

In the profane world of geometry, each successive circle becomes more cramped. But with sacred geometry, each world is more expansive. Thus, in the unsane mathsemantics of our tribe, 1% = ; or, to put it anauthor's way, ʘ and O are "not two" (which is also why we can in principle know anything that is knowable).

In our view, the naturalist tribe can only pretend to understand how man managed to climb over the Monkey Wall, and can only devalue what lies on its other side -- the human side, which is to say, the divine/human side.

Their origin myth is no better than ours, and in fact, considerably more primitive and implausible, for it is forever constrained to explain the Greater via the Lesser. In this myth, truth must somehow be a function of truthlessness, consciousness of matter, life of chemistry, and politics of ape warfare.

The irony is that our tribe is expansive enough to easily accommodate theirs (with wombs to spare), whereas theirs necessarily denies ours.

This is a critical distinction, for our tribe believes in complementarity, while theirs believes in duality. For us there is a complementarity between science and spirit, whereas for their tribe there is only a duality that ultimately reduces to science. And for us, the complementarity always points to its resolution "above," while for them it is simply abolished by pulling it down below.

Which is a funny thing for a liberated monkey to do, for it is a little like escaping back into the zoo. But we are all acquainted with monkeys -- indeed, they are everywhere! -- who prefer chained security to a liberty which is simply "nothing" if not "everything."

And in the absence of spiritual awakening and guidance, liberty is indeed nothing, just as the existentialists say it is. Better to beat a hasty retreat back into matter, where we can at least cash in our chimps and be a king of nothingness.

A hopelessly wayward, eccentric, and willful member of our tribe, James Joyce, attempted the same thing as Fukuyama in his Finnegans Wake, but what a difference! And which approach is more "true?" That is one of the questions we will explore as we go along. (I should emphasize that we have barely even touched on Fukuyama's book, so you should reserve any odium until we have at least given him the podium.)

For Joyce, our origins are obscure, to be sure. But he treats the obscurity as a positive presence rather than a mere "absence." As with a dream, just because it is obscure hardly means that it doesn't have its own logic. It's just different than ours, and if we try to apply our daytime logic to it, we will either be misled or generate absurdity.

For one thing, the Dreamer is bigger and more powerful than the ego. The ego cannot really compete on its playing field, for the same reason that a child, no matter how brilliant a prodigy, will never be a literary genius. The ego going up against the Dreamer is like trying to empty the ocean with a spoon.

In describing the obscure style of Finnegans Wake, Joyce said that "It's natural things should not be so clear at night, isn't it now?" It is a book about the night, veiled in darkness, and attempting to express the truth of the night in the idiom of darkness.

To not remember one's dreams -- or at least not know that one dreams -- is analogous to not knowing that man ceases to be ape when he begins to dream -- or, when he crosses the threshold into the world of the Dreamer. The dream cannot be reduced to mere neurology without putting us back to sleep, swaddled in the animal carcass of our tenured furbears.

"What we have rashly labeled a dream, then, might more accurately be called the 'murmury' of a dream. And since all such dreams occur to us -- literally -- when we wake up and assume our conscious capacity to 'remumble' them, to articulate to ourselves in 'murmury,' traducing them in the process, they will help only some in allowing us to know what really happened in the clearer few minutes of the dark half-hour that we wished, in detail, to reconstruct" (Bishop).

Thus, in trying to locate the "origins of politics," we must simultaneously remumble and remurmur a collective dream. Casting the floodlight of reason on the nighttime of the Dreamer is like beating a drum while chasing a criminal.

Two tribes, two dreams.

18 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Their origin myth is no better than ours, and in fact, considerably more primitive and implausible, for it is forever constrained to explain the Greater via the Lesser.

Poor fools, they think that it's actually possible for a man to give birth to the cosmos. Which of course, he can, just not in the way they think. Their version is an immaculate conception minus the higher lOver, which is really just ∅nanism.

4/21/2011 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

"And since all such dreams occur to us -- literally -- when we wake up and assume our conscious capacity to 'remumble' them, to articulate to ourselves in 'murmury,' traducing them in the process, they will help only some in allowing us to know what really happened in the clearer few minutes of the dark half-hour that we wished, in detail, to reconstruct."

Ah, so.

And that's how it is that, after the last supper, where a group of twelve were the first to partake of the Eucharist while sitting at the same table in the same small room as the Dreamer's very own living heart, having taken that very flesh and blood within themselves, they still went out into that very night and failed him. They could not hold onto the reality of the Dream.

4/21/2011 09:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Sticks and Stones Transmute said...

The raccoon, awake and vigilant, looks down as if upon a mountain at the multitudes of sleepers on the plain below.

Sowed amongst the people like seeds, the scattered raccoons have a mission: perfect themselves and then work to wake the sleepers.

Each raccoon has a specific victory to win for the Earth also; wherever inside the raccoon is still dark and muddy, there lies the opportunity for the greatest triumph, the greatest light and clarity. Look for darkness within and turn it to its opposite and you fulfill your mission.

All will follow. Our culture, materialistic and amoral, contains the seed material for becoming the most spiritualized and virtuous culture the globe has ever known, once the raccoon has done his/her work and effected the reversal.

4/21/2011 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>> . . our tribe believes in complementarity, while theirs believes in duality<<

Not to semantically nitpick, but I think the fact that our vision is one of complementarity - ie, it encapsulates the Whole - we escape the bonds of tribalism all together. After all, the dualism of tribalism continually projects "Otherness" onto those who are not of the immediate tribe, an Otherness that is based on unfamiliarity of speech, dress code, skin color, etc.

The tribal-minded can only relate to the superficial differences. On the other hand, the trans-tribalist perceives the unity that exists beyond the superficial.

I'm reminded of an encounter I read about between a Westerner and an African fellow - the Westerner asked the African what he thought about white people. "They're ruthless, soulless animals," the African replied, "they're not even human", etc, etc. Then the Westerner asked his interlocutor what he thought of the neighboring tribe that lived 12 miles down the road. The African fellow replied with the same vehement terms that he had used in describing whites, "They're ruthless, soulless animals," etc. This, I think, is the essence of tribalism.

Perhaps one can't escape a certain degree of tribalism as long as one does not possess a complete "Cosmic Consciousness", but there is tribalism and there is tribalism. And it occurs to me that "Diversity" as is continuously flogged by our social engineers is nothing more than a full embrace of tribalism.

Anyway, I prefer to think of us as "trans-tribalists".

4/21/2011 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The infinite one-percent -- From the monkey's side the asymptote cannot be breached or bridged.

I know this is a dangerous thought, still I wonder if some humans go way up the slope but never make the jump. They are just really, really, really smart monkeys -- possibly even Nobel Prize-winning economists.

4/21/2011 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I possibly just proved Will's point.

4/21/2011 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

On the other hand, the trans-tribalist perceives the unity that exists beyond the superficial.

To look beyond the tribal is to see within each man the imago dei. That doesn't mean, though, that one doesn't notice the extent to which that image is corrupted...

4/21/2011 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Julie, I think that what is done about the corrupted imago dei is key. Certainly such corruption constitutes an "otherness" as far as the trans-tribalist perceives, but the T-T recognizes such corruption within him/herself and labors to sublimate and transcend it.

The tribalist seeks to externally subsume, if not destroy otherness. Case in point - the dream of the Universal Caliphate that would obviate all other faiths in favor of Universal Islam.

4/21/2011 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Will, yes, I think that's it. In a sense, the T-T would see the corruption as both other and not-other: "there, but for the grace..."

4/21/2011 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Will, your observation puts me in mind of the story of the Prodigal.

In a way, the two brothers can even be seen as the tribal and the transtribal, in perhaps a number of ways. Both, of course, are sons of the father, who loves the one no less than the other. In a way, though, the son who stayed can be seen as being of the tribal mindset: having lived what he sees as the righteous life, he suffers from a failure to love his wayward brother, condemning him instead for his otherness. Having never failed (or so he believes), he has no compassion for the one who did. The Prodigal, though, has been out to the limits, and having returned, he sees himself for what he is.

4/21/2011 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Julie, excellent.

I think your analogy could also be applied to that most un-tribal of tribes, the Jews. They too, have been "out to the limits" and through self-knowledge have learned the mystery of compassion.

4/21/2011 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Compassion is indeed key. Without it nothing can be done.

4/21/2011 01:52:00 PM  
Anonymous INtoooishun Calling... said...

It is now the right time to slough off the last of our inhibitions and reservations about living inside--

Dreams, intuitions, hunches, visions, impressions, moods, and internal sensations have priority, dominance and pre-eminence over the rational mind and sense data.

We are taking off. Buckle your seat belts.

4/21/2011 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Google Exodus

4/21/2011 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Completely off topic, but I'm reminded why I refused to take writing classes in my last two colleges: I was afraid they'd actually make my writing worse. Turns out that might have been the least of my problems; had I forced myself to sit through what passes for a writing program these days, I may well have been robbed of my ability to reason altogether (emphasis mine):

"But the objections here were to any infringement on teacher autonomy. Standards and evaluative methods would infringe on the freedom teachers feel in evaluating themselves...

To find a legitimate moral authority in an age where neither transcendental, objective, nor subjective standards obtain any more, Goldstein studied BDSM play groups (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism) and dogs (dogs, yes). In BDSM, Goldstein explained, participants act from constructed identities and therefore adopt a moral system based on what is immediately “useful.” Role-playing BDSM participants do not see a higher personal or metaphysical meaning in the sadistic acts committed on them. Dogs, similarly, do not attach any such meaning to the actions of those they interact with. Both groups, because they act outside of morality based on traditional standards, offer good models for determining justice."

In hindsight, that's not really off topic. This is the inevitable result when the liberated monkeys try to explain reason and justice. Lacking any belief in anything higher, they look to the lowest, most bestial instincts of man - and indeed find as much or more nobility in the beasts themselves - for moral guidance.

God help us, if this is what passes for higher education today.

4/21/2011 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

“For just as kinship and tribal structures are the politics of early man, politics as we know it is the tribal structure of modern man. What are liberal and conservative but two different tribes? Hence the primitive emotionality that is unleashed as a result. “

Two tribes, which a bit of consideration can enable you to see there’s only One, which they’ve split themselves off from, one more than the other. Like a couple of kids who’ve taken over the house while their parents are out, “This is MY side!”... which works great an all, until Dad comes home.

4/22/2011 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"I should emphasize that we have barely even touched on Fukuyama's book, so you should reserve any odium until we have at least given him the podium."

Yehhh... but if it follows along the lines of his "The End of History and the Last Man", or his other essay's and talks about it (and othere there),
or as he says here, in revisiting his theory, he's investigating whether

"Is it all driven by socio economic forces, or is it all an accident"

, which is very much like being 'willing to investigate whether 2+2=5, or does it really only total up to 3'. IMHO, he's very much stuck in the flat line geometry, where the center is always smaller. I think the Publisher's Weekly blurb for "End of History" sums him up pretty well,

" Fukuyama's multifaceted comparative approach grounds politics and government in the demands of biology, geography, war, and economics, and pays appropriately lavish attention to China (he styles the Qin Dynasty of 221 B.C.E. the world's first modern state), India, and the Islamic countries. A neo-Hegelian, he's especially trenchant on the importance of ideology—especially religious beliefs—as an autonomous instigator of social and political change."

He basically thinks, as he says, that the Marxian take on Hegel is that history is developing towards an end, it's just that it'll 'get off the train before it makes it to the communist station'.

Pffft. Doesn't prevent him from having many interesting comments and insights, just gotta remember that the 'In' he's seeing into, is forever out.

4/22/2011 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Thus, in trying to locate the "origins of politics," we must simultaneously remumble and remurmur a collective dream. Casting the floodlight of reason on the nighttime of the Dreamer is like beating a drum while chasing a criminal."

Ha! Love that. Nothing to add, just wanted to see it again.

wv:cainguin
wordveri reminding us of the start other tribes, when the boys didn't think Dad was home.

4/22/2011 07:43:00 AM  

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