Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shining a Radiant Celebrity Ferret On Our Limitless Capacities to Hookup with God

Just saw this SteamingLoad at HotAir: Oprah Winfrey: The greatest existential philosopher ever?

But it really poses some different questions: What is the value of a Ph.D. in the humanities from an elite university? Less than nothing. And if the author weren't an associate professor of sociology and African Diaspora studies, would he be employable? Yes. In the Feminist Studies or Queer Theory departments.

The piece is impossible to parody: "Her celebrity guests, book club inductees,'hookups,'and numerous selected themes help us tap into our limitless capacity for growth and change." Is this where he learned his limitless capacity for bad writing? From a celebrity?

"The breadth of Oprah's personal talent and the scope of her intellectual reach enlist us to ferret the deep-seated metaphor lurking at the surface of our core being." What does this gibberish even mean?" Ferret a metaphor at the surface of our core?

"She shines a florescent radiance on our fragility"? Why florescent? What does that have to do with anything? Besides, I don't think people want to have their fragility exposed. Would Dr. Lee like it if someone shined a radiant light on the fragility of his prose?

I would have a lot more respect for liberals if they would just come out and be straight with us: "Look, we all know that we have a lot of morons in this country. Someone has to employ them. The real purpose of big government is to create a vast jobs program for the talentless, the mediocre, the dysfunctional, the person who cannot compete in the marketplace. You don't want to see what would happen if these people all lost their jobs and were on the street. California is set to release 46,000 prisoners due to overcrowding. How would you like to release 5 million freeloaders from federal, state, county, and city governments?"

Okay, I get it. But why do we have to pay them so much? It's not like they can go anywhere else. And why can't it be a (supposedly) temporary remedy, like racial quotas?

It reminds me of an article by Kevin Williamson in the May 2 National Review, A Nation of Sharecroppers: "This brings up the uncomfortable fact that the public sector presently serves as a supplementary welfare state. For a person of average intelligence and the endurance to muddle through at the local community college, the surest route from real poverty to the middle class is a government job.... government work offers above-market compensation and glorious shelter from the Darwinian competition of the global marketplace."

Granted, that isn't nothing. But we should at least be honest about it.

Williamson cites hard evidence that "government work attracts disproportionately those not endowed to thrive in more competitive markets." For example, college students who major in education have markedly lower SAT scores, so the public school system ends up being another way to employ these folks. But it's for the children!

"People of modest intellectual ability are the biggest part of the unemployment problem." But it's still a real problem, since 50% of the population is of below average intelligence. Again, I am sympathetic to the idea that government work is a way to allow such people to attain a standard of living that would otherwise be out of reach. But there must be a more efficient and less costly way.

Anyway, let's move on. "Work" is perhaps the SlackMeister's least favorite subject. He agrees in principle with the sentiment expressed by Bobby "Blue" Bland: Now lookie here / I don't like work / And work don't like me / And we stay away from each other / That's the way it ought to be.

We have been shining a florescent radiance on the idea that slack is woven into the very fabric of being. Or, put it this way: if it isn't, then there is no possibility of slack.

And if you don't believe me, perhaps our celebrity guest, the Pope, can tap into your limitless capacity to ferret the slack from the surface of your core:

"If there is only one kind of causality" -- the horizontal kind -- then the human person is "reduced to an element in mechanical causality, in the realm of necessity." If personality -- our individual essence, our very own I am -- does not abide in the very ground of reality, then it is nothing: "Either freedom is a possibility inherent in the ground of reality or it does not exist."

Personality is a very strange thing. In the scientistic worldview it is (necessarily) explained away as a meaningless side effect of brain activity, thus dragging itself by the brutestraps into the void.

But in our view, the trinitarian person is at the very heart of reality. With this properly right-side up orientation, we are able to illuminate (without eliminating) any number of cosmic mysteries without creating a host of new ones. One has only to accept the initial premise that persons are real. At once this establishes our dignity and supreme worth on inviolable grounds, and explains how we are able to know the truth of reality.

This view is also distinct from any simple or rationalistic monotheism that places God beyond the reach of men. If reality is "intersubjective relation," then our personal subject always has access to the metacosmic Subject of which it is an image and potential likeness.

This also has profound implications for the mystery of communication. For human communication doesn't just involve passing exterior objects from mind to mind. Rather, minds are a priori intersubjectively related, and this intersubjectivity is the actual "medium" of transmission. If it weren't present in the background, then there could be no true communion of minds, only the passing of objects, like ants that bump heads with each other.

Now, God is Word, and a word always has two sides: it is simultaneously idea and comprehension, or signifier and signified, or message and receiver, or speaker and hearer, or intelligence and intelligibility, etc. A word is pointless unless it is addressed to someone who can hear and understand it.

The cosmos as such is word -- or a derivative thereof -- which is why it "speaks" to us in such a multitude of ways: scientifically, aesthetically, poetically, mystically, musically, etc. None of the latter would be "in" the world unless there were simultaneously an intelligence to comprehend the messages.

Here again, this two-way relation is at the heart of Christian metaphysics, in which Father is the archetypal "speaker" and Son is the archetypal "hearer." As the Pope translates the first line of John, "In the beginning was the Word, and the word was in communion with God." Thus, God is interior relation -- as are we.

This being the case, we also have a basis for understanding how it is that eternity may be present in time, and vice versa. More specifically, it not only makes the Incarnation possible, but makes it possible for us to "share" in this eternal dialogue.

As the Pope explains, when Jesus says Abba, or Father, "It expresses his whole being," so that "all he says to God in prayer is ultimately only an explication of his being." The Son eternally speaks to the Father who speaks him, which one might say is the ever-renewing spiral of being.

If the Father is a polite ?, then the Son is the emphatic !, a Yes to the free gift of our being. This forms a unity, to be sure, but one that, "through the unifying power of love," doesn't "destroy the twoness of I and Thou, but welds it into a profound oneness." It is the losing that is finding, the giving that is receiving, the surrender that is victory, the supreme attainment that is abject humility. Ultimately it is the Love that is our cause.

17 Comments:

Blogger teej said...

"Rather, minds are a priori intersubjectively related, and this intersubjectivity is the actual "medium" of transmission. "

Have you ever written about autism? I'm not trying to be flippant, it's a subject that interests/puzzles me: what actually is 'missing' in that condition?

5/26/2011 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Intersubjectivity, for one thing.

5/26/2011 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

She shines a florescent radiance on our fragility

I think the author is envisioning a black-light check of the motel bedspread.

5/26/2011 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Ferret a metaphor at the surface of our core?"

I believe that that used to be illegal in most states.

5/26/2011 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/26/2011 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

From the other article linked from within the first CSM one:

"She became the high priestess of a secular spirituality.
The end of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” may simply be her way of acknowledging that she has succeeded."

You might even say, it is accomplished.

5/26/2011 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Big Soul Mama's Kissed Grits said...

I disagree with your post across the board.

The derided prose is not what you like, but so what? Many people can't understand your confusing prose either. Strike One.

Our fine Federal and State governments are staffed by competent people. Except for one--you. Strike Two.

Oprah Winfrey is a kind and decent human being who has done a lot to empower women--so they can skewer the likes of you as you manipulate and control. Stike Three and your out, buster.

Put that in you pipe and smoke it.

5/26/2011 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous flunky said...

Oprah, and the art of business.

Once upon a time, I privately met with a successful and respected small business loans officer/advisor who I had met at a small business seminar. I told them: “I have a strong aerospace engineering background, and abstract, spatial and mechanical aptitudes that’ll knock your socks off. I love doing all kinds of cool mods on my own residences, elegant designs, built to last, for dirt cheap. I want to go into business doing residential design/build mods. I figure I can easily enter the market with my credentials and portfolio, and if I give people a bargain price, how can I lose?

She emphatically replied: “You WILL lose. Most people are not like you. They do not make decisions based on logic. They make them based on emotion, and rationalize afterwards. That is Rule #1 for small business.” She said a lot more but I don’t want to waste space here. I walked away dismayed, but knowing she had spoken some truth.

So I began to tivo Oprah.

5/26/2011 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous flunky said...

Oprah is an extremely successful private businessperson who sells liberal values.

Yet, I know of conservative psych blogger (not Bob) who is profoundly anti-government. Yet... has not been able to do much more than pay the bills working almost their entire life in the public sector.

Go figure.

5/26/2011 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous flunky said...

Racial quotas are a consolation prize for minority leaders to keep the peace.

Everybody knows it’s all who you know. (Well, most everybody, but you’ll figure it out sooner or later.) Back in olden times, all the players you had to suck up to were these old waspy guys.

The minorities knew this and developed strategies. The Asians spread the meme that they were a hard-studying hard-working hard-saving lot who could also make good food. This was accepted by some of the old waspy guys who granted them entrance into the system.

The Africans tried this same meme too but it got little traction. In fact, James, the freed slave blacksmith, rode into town willing to do blacksmithery for half price, since, you know, he used to do it for free. But the townspeople avoided him because he was a “ni(*DONG*)r”. So Africans began spreading the meme that they were mad as hell and weren’t gonna take it anymore. They did some rioting too.

The waspy old men in power said: “We gotta keep the peace!” Give them ni(*DONG*)r’s a consolation prize or something.

And now we have racial quotas.

(*Disclaimer: Big solutions often have unintended consequences. This comment serves merely to explain, not to condone such action.)

5/26/2011 01:18:00 PM  
Anonymous scory said...

I pretty much agree that Oprah epitomizes the modern position on religion, morals and feminism. She is also very successful having made lots of money by adapting a message that millions can accept without discomfort. She says what people like to hear - it makes them feel good about themselves.

Not for anything in this world would I trade places with her.

5/26/2011 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

fine + dandy but.... how could THIS be? Guinness' top single sellers in UK---ever!

1. Status Quo - 61
2. Queen - 52
3. Rolling Stones - 51
4. UB40 - 51
5. U2 - 40
6. Depeche Mode - 40
7. Bee Gees - 38
8. Pet Shop Boys - 38
9. REM - 38
10. Manic Street Preachers - 37

actually that 'MATCHSTICK MEN' lp of SQ is a fave

5/26/2011 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous flunky said...

No Beatles?
No Elvis?
No Strawberry Alarm Clock?
Could this be an MSM plot?
Or a Koch Brothers Machination?
A hidden message from God if one reads the list backwards?
Did you know if you do a full screen of this this YouTube you can almost imagine you’re inside a kaleidoscope?

5/26/2011 04:05:00 PM  
Anonymous One Flew Under said...

Sky?

5/26/2011 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger phil g said...

Flunky,
The Asians didn't 'spread the meme' the reality of the facts that their group generally ARE smart, hard working, conscientious, honest and make good food made their reputation.

When blacks as a group can demonstrate similar traits they too will make it into the system or create their own.

5/27/2011 05:35:00 AM  
Anonymous flunky said...

I tried getting the Africans to spread the good-at-sports, good-at-singin’-and-a-dancin’, good at soul food memes, but only a few listened.

Ever notice how Palestinians in Gaza, "as a group" are these angry screwups, but their compadres living inside of Israel have no such reputation? Is it the hidden variable the freedom? The slack? The memes?

My theory is that a few individuals will always do well no matter what the growing conditions are. They’re built like weeds. The rest are far more easily influenced by conditions, having more tender sensibilities.

5/27/2011 11:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Reefer Madness said...

Flunky, Scory, and others: Wow, good stuff.

I'd like to a national group must prove prowess in combat to enter the 'in crowd.'

The Japanese,Vietnamese and Chinese are in. They were formidable foes in warfare and earned respect.

The Russians are in, for Stalingrad. They will always be in.

Israelis for their victorious wars.

Other nations have not really put up a good show and respect is elusive.

Insurgencies don't count; you've got to come out with mechanized armor and duke it on an open battlefield or you will not get your bones.

5/27/2011 12:26:00 PM  

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