Advice for the Modern, High Functioning Flasher
For example, let's say I'm a prominent politician -- one of the most visible and combative in my party, even -- and I'm caught gifting anonymous women with candid photos of my congressional staff. Predictably, our puritanical press goes nuts.
Now what do I do? I mean, after denying it, then lying about it, then asking the ladies (none younger than high school) to help me cover it up, and then smearing my accusers? I do what I should have done at the outset: obtain the wise counsel of my good friend Alec Baldwin.
First of all, Alec is a forgiving man, so long as you're not married to him, or employed by him, or maybe happen to be his thoughtless little pig of a daughter.
I know what he'd say: hey, kid, cut yourself some slack. You're a modern human being. No, check me on that: like me, you are a modern, high functioning man. Do you have time to figure out why you have a compulsion to open your raincoat over the internet?
Hell no! Besides, all that crap about "know thyself" and "the unexamined life yada yada" is for the ancient or medieval man, not the space-age modern man.
I know it takes a lot of time and energy seizing upon every opportunity to tell people how great you are as a human being. Hell, I'm the same way. Who has time at the end of the day for self-analysis? You've never been a business man -- or frankly had any way to make an honest buck, for that matter -- but you are surely a busy man. You are under the constant pressure of self-analysis before adoring and uncritical audiences, so forget about what I just said about having no time for it. It's all you do!
Like me, politicians are special people. Not as special as actors, but special nonetheless. We need something to take the edge off. The low functioning modern man might choose, I don't know, having a couple of beers, playing with his children, or maybe even having sex with his wife.
But you? You are always on the go. You don't have time for that. Besides, how can sex with a real woman compare with the reliable high of cyber-sleeping with someone?
Does this make you "pathetic?" Maybe in the eyes of the premodern world, but not to the modern, high functioning man. For us, this is sex nowadays. No time for romance! Porn? No way! Too two-dimensional for the modern man. You want someone breathing, something you can feel, someone -- okay, someone cheap, but nevertheless, someone doing it just for you -- unlike real women, who are so concerned with their own selfish needs that it's not worth the hassle.
Married? Yeah, that's a factor, but only one. You know what it's like to have that cell phone bursting with numbers of gals just waiting around to gaze at your junk mail. So you do what any modern, high functioning man would do: you open your digital trenchcoat, yield to the gentleman from down south, stand firm with the little guy, and wave your congressional probe.
To shift if not grind gears back to the subject at hand, we were discussing... what, exactly? I would say we are discussing universality, which is at once a hallmark of truth, but also the cure for the type of moral relativism that would place Baldwin's "high functioning, modern man" on the same plane as the actually high functioning man.
But if there is no high there can be no low, so low becomes high. As has been oft commented, one of the rewards of being a leftist is that it is impossible to be a hypocrite, since they have no objective standards.
Which is obviously not quite correct, not by a dongshot. For the leftist does have standards. It is just that these so-called standards replace -- and displace -- the classical virtues.
Thus, so long as one has the correct political stance -- unless it is a little too wide -- all else is forgiven. In the case of Weiner, yeah, it's not ideal that he's a pervert with a psychiatric disorder. But on the other hand, he's always fighting for you, e.g., the dispossessed, the disenfranchised, the disordered, the dissolute, the disgruntled, the dyslexic. As they say, troubled times require a troubled man.
Ratzinger, in the same lecture we were discussing yesterday, makes the critical point that in its earliest years, Christianity did not attempt to align itself with other religions. Rather, it "sought a connection with philosophies," even the finest philosophy available. Some misguided Christians regard this as some sort of error, an intrusion of "Greek thought" into what should be pure revelation. But this would not only particularize Christianity, but put it on the same plane as any other pagan religion.
The point was surely not to associate Christianity with a particular culture, but to attempt to transcend culture through the universality conferred by abstract philosophy. This is not to place philosophy above revelation. Rather, the point is to "connect with those movements that seek to escape from the prison of relativity."
Thus the identification of the Son with the logos, not to reduce the former to the latter, but to elevate the latter to the former. The logos is not just a philosophical abstraction that knows nothing of our being, but a person with whom we can form a vibrant relationship.
Conversely, the high functioning, modern man can know nothing of this relationship. Nor does he take full advantage of one of its analogues in the herebelow, marriage. The passionate interior relationship of sacramental marriage could hardly be more different from the externalized and self-divided relationship of two internet strangers.
In psychoanalytic developmental theory, there is a critical distinction between what is called "part-object relating" and "whole-object relating." Our developmental telos is away from the former -- situated in what is called the paranoid-schizoid position -- and toward the latter, which is in the depressive position.
Put simply, whole-object relating is between person and person, in a fully integral sense. Conversely, part-object relating is unable to transcend the ambivalence attendant to any relationship. The person in the paranoid-schizoid position deals with ambivalence by splitting it off into a sub-personality that is impelled to seek an object relation outside the central self. (This is essentially the same as a mind parasite.)
For example, let us say that I am unable to integrate love and lust in the same object. Love is reserved for, let's say, the wife, while a more immature and unintegrated form of primitive desire is split off and directed toward another object, say, a stranger in cyberspace (which is all the better, because knowing the real subject might interfere with the fantasy needs of the part-object relation).
According to the Dictionary of Kleinian Thought, "A part-object exists... in relation to the bodily sensations of the subject. Through projection into the object it becomes a narcissistic extension of the ego's own experiences and the separateness of the good object is not acknowledged. Only when the object comes to be recognized as whole does it properly take on a separate existence from the subject."
It is fair to say that this represents not the opposite, but an earlier stage on the way to what Pope John Paul II wrote of the "celebration of human sexuality as a gift of God for the sanctification of husband and wife," and "marital intimacy as an icon of the interior life of the triune God."