Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Gluttons for Punishment and Punishment for Gluttons

The third circle of hell seems especially relevant for our age, since it is the Circle of the Gluttons. No sooner do we solve the problem of hunger, than we have an epidemic of obesity. This is a perfect example of how man, in his fallen state, cannot long remain in a condition of static balance and harmony. That is, he is either (unconsciously) descending or (consciously) ascending.

Or, put it this way: if you're not rising, then you're falling. Trying to maintain a static balance between those two cosmic tendencies is like trying to stand perfectly still on a tightrope. We can will upward or downward, but we cannot will stasis, - which is really a kind of deadness -- so long as we are in the world.

We think of hell as a fiery place, but this particular corner is said to be cold, wet and sodden: eternal rain / Accursed, cold and heavy / Thick hail, dark water, and unending snow / Come pouring down athwart the murky air -- / Their quality and cadence never changing -- / Upon the putrid earth.

Upton writes that "the punishing rain is a parody of real mercy," and that the gluttons "experience God's mercy and grace as dirty kitchen water; they reject mercy because they are disgusted by it."

In psychoanalytic parlance, this is the realm of orality, which is our first post-uterine neuro-developmental stage. Clearly, our first orientation to the world is via the mouth. Freud, because of his positivistic and scientistic bias, looked at this stage in wholly mechanistic terms, as if it were just a question of instinctual discharge. In other words: baby is hungry; baby seeks breast; baby suckles; baby is content, or at equilibrium (or alternatively, frustrated, enraged, and at disequilibrium, which an infant cannot long tolerate without blowing a circuit).

Long story short, this view has evolved considerably over the decades. First of all, babies are not machines that seek dissipation of tension. Rather, they are persons right from the start. That being the case, they primarily seek a relationship (one cannot say "relationships" at this early stage, since the infant does not have the capacity to abstract from the flow of experience as such). Thus, our first relationship is via the mouth, but a relationship is very different from an instinctual discharge.

D.W. Winnicott was perhaps the most sensitive theorist of infant development. Long story shorter, it is not just food that is imported during the oral stage, but love, trust, containment, taking and giving pleasure, and the general ability to dissolve into boundary-less love in an interpersonal context -- all is symbolically attached to the food, which is precisely what makes food so much more than it is.

I haven't kept up with the research, but in graduate school, things like anorexia and bulimia -- and disordered relationships to food in general -- could be easily traced to profound disturbances in the mother-infant dyad (for example, the aptly titled Starving to Death in a Sea of Objects: The Anorexia Nervosa Syndrome).

Now, there is no question that a kind of grace is operative in infancy. But the grace flows in two directions, a fact to which any normal mother can attest. There is a flow of grace, a "reciprocity dance," between the partners, in a kind of expanding circle of love. And importantly, all of this takes place in the realm of being, which will become the background of any later "knowing."

Another important theorist, R.D. Fairbairn, discussed what occurs as a result of maternal deprivation or impingement during this phase. He called it the "schizoid position," which may essentially be thought of as a private, closed-off world that serves as a kind of defensive sanctuary.

Importantly, when he is "rejected" by the mother, the infant feels that his own love is bad or tainted. Thus, this defense actually defends others from one's own "toxic" love. In other words, the emotionally enclosed schizoid person is not primarily protecting himself, but others. Their love feels "damaging" to them.

Another outcome of problems at this stage can be the false self, which one might think of as a self-created maternal container for the true self. The false self hovers over and protects the vulnerable true self (all unconsciously, of course). It is an adaptation to a disappointing or frightening world.

If all goes relatively well (or "well enough"), the infant is ushered into an expansive but non-persecutory space, which becomes the background of being. Grotstein describes it as

"a joint enterprise from the mother's and infant's imagination to allow for the latter's playing and imagining. It is vouchsafed [a] space which is both guaranteed and protected but is also free for playful expansion, discovery, and rehearsal. Later it becomes internalized as a space between the world of internal objects and of symbolic object representations. Utmostly, it is the place where illusion... occurs. It is the locale of the creative act and the 'spontaneous gesture.'"

Here is a slightly more mythopoetic description by the same author:

"The 'blessed' infant shoves his playful little hands into the primal soil of nothingness and chaos and, in time, he imagines forms emerging from them which he claims as his own unique creation.... The sense of secure 'I'ness is thus launched, and the infant can claim his own existence, history, and destiny. That is, by creating the world and then exploring what he has created -- and then discovered -- in it, he has developed an origin, a self-continuity, a 'going-on-being.' He is then ready for the world he did not create but which created him..."

In contrast, the "cursed infant" is victimized by "the intergenerational strife which mother (and father) project into him, 'cursed' by lacking a holding-containing environment, a matrix, a background presence of primary identification, 'cursed' by a heredity of perverse chromosomes, and/or 'cursed' by the failure of his imaginary mental life to make benevolent mythical sense of his dilemma." This is the mind-parasite infested person, whose freedom is sharply curtailed.

Such a person may alternatively "own" a sense of being evil or malevolent in order to "protect" the mother, or plummet "into the abyss," the "'black hole' where he is forever transformed, stigmatized, and doomed."

In other words, these people tend to become either victims or victimizers. Or, they can just become liberals and be both. For the victim feels he has moral license to victimize, while the victimizer must create new sacrificial victims to feed his vampiristic soul. The creation of victims by liberal policy is not a bug but a feature. Without victims, the liberal is stuck in his own private hell.

Way out of time. Time only for a question and a comment. First, could there be a relationship between inadequate parenting -- especially infant daycare -- and a disordered relationship to food, ending in obesity?

And second, I intuited long ago that psychoanalysis was a kind of modern pseudo-religion that provides a new way of talking about some very old realities that were already discussed by great spiritual thinkers of the past. In short, you can really see that Grotstein is talking about a kind of heaven and hell.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Path of Lust Resistance

Midway upon our guided tour through hell, your strutting psychopomp came down with the flu and deviated from the path that does not stray. Now having lost the plot, he wonders if he can regain his former momentum, or whether he should just chuck it in and issue a full refund. He wishes to remind us all that he is no more a scholar of Dante than you are, so this verticalisthenic exorcism is venturing perilously close to resembling actual work, heaven forfend.

We were into Canto V, where, in the words of Upton, Dante "descends into the Second Circle, the true beginning of Hell": Thus I went downward from the topmost ring / Into the second, where in a smaller space / The greater torments bring forth cries of woe.

Now, the first thing that occurs to us is that this is the inverse of the celestial spheres, which also represent a series of concentric circles. However, in their case, they have the paradoxical quality of becoming more expansive as one approaches the center. Obviously this is "geometrically" impossible, which is why geometry can only "indicate" but not actually map these areas of theometry.

As we know, there are seven "deadly" sins, including lust, gluttony, greed, acedia, wrath, envy, and pride; and these correspond to their seven virtues, chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility. This particular circle of the inferno houses the lustful.

Obviously, when it comes to lust, context is everything. Certain types of lust are not only permissible, but encouraged.

Analogously, the temperate person enjoys food just as much as (if not more than) the glutton. But in the case of the latter, something has shifted within the soul, so as to attach much more significance to the object of gluttony than there is in it. I mean, it's only food. What's the big deal? But this is precisely the detached attitude the glutton cannot take toward the act of gastric intercourse.

It is the same with lust. Like the appetite for food, it is a kind of real power that can become detached from the central self that would "humanize" and elevate it, so to speak.

Upton notes that that Dante attaches special blame to the romantic poets who delve "into deep psychic material without seeing its spiritual implications, which would have allowed them to raise it to a higher level." Being that Dante is a poet, he knows full well "how romantic glamour can lead to the loss of eternal life."

Note that these are sinners who do not just lust, but who vilely yield / Their reason to their carnal appetite. And please do not confuse "reason" with mere rationality -- as if the correct path would involve the rational ego merely repressing these lower urges from above. Rather, Dante is talking about the higher intellect, the psychic being, the central self, what we symbolize with the pneumaticon (¶).

It is critical to bear in mind that the latter is always a function of vertical integration, not repression or splitting. And this is indeed a central theme of the Divine Comedy, in that the whole purpose of "descending into hell" is to recover, redeem, and sanctify lost and missing parts of the self. The only good reason to make this descent is because the lower vertical places an upper limit on how high one may ascend without being blindsided and dragged back down to hell.

Now, as we were saying a few posts back, there is a kind of pseudo-transcendence that occurs when plunging into the lower vertical. Obviously, being swamped by lust -- or by anger, or booze, or anything else -- temporarily disables the ego, bringing with it a subjective sense of freedom and expanded space.

Think of all those phony gurus who use this fact to prey upon their devotees, e.g., Adi Da, Chögyam Trungpa, Muktananda, and all the rest of that miserable bunch of new age mythofolkers and crockseekers. Their circle of hell will be described later, as we move closer to the center. (As we know, John Lennon's Sexie Sadie was actually about Deepak Chopra's randy guru, the infamous Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.)

Upton notes that in our debased culture, it is as if sexuality has entirely displaced spirituality, so that it becomes simultaneously much more and much less than it actually is: "in our culture we almost consider this blinding to be legitimate because we see reason as a tyrant, whereas in Thomistic theology, reason (ratio) is one of the first fruits of the Intellect (Intellectus, the direct intuition of spiritual Truth), and also its servant."

Upton also points out that the souls in this circle are not as deluded as those we will encounter later. In one sense, they enjoy their entrapment in the lower imagination, not knowing that this type of sexuality is a promise that can never be kept. In hell it is this perpetual disappointment and disillusionment that is experienced, the mourningafter the naughtybefore.

Think, for example, of what motivates the gambling addict. In that fleeting moment when his money is on the line, he experiences a kind of infinite hope. But like a rubber band, he is then snapped into an infinite despair when he loses the wager. In this way, his displaced hope keeps him simultaneously alive and dead in a pseudo-eternity of perpetual acting out.

In reality, such a person has turned against Spirit, but has "spiritualized" something unworthy of the name. The souls in this circle are blown about by the wind, just as they were in this life. Wind is "a symbol of the Spirit, but since the damned have turned against the Spirit, they experience it as turning against them" (Upton). Thus, as the "higher love" leads one up and out, a love that excludes God is a "satanic parody" that can never be sustained.

Along these lyin's, note some of the many excellent aphorisms of Don Colacho on this website I just discovered (HT Vanderleun):

A great love is a well ordered sensuality.

A naked body solves all the universe’s problems.

Sex does not solve even sexual problems.

The 19th century did not live with more anguish because of its sexual repression than the 20th century with its sexual liberation. Identical obsession, even when the symptoms are the opposite.

God is the substance of what we love.

Eroticism exhausts itself in promises.

To liberate man is to subject him to greed and sex.

The souls of the lustful in the infernal his & hurricane.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Hitler as Darwinian Word Made Flesh

Genuine religion is a defense against ideology of all forms; or, you might say that ideology is a reaction to religion, which is why the worst ideologies -- the ones that do real damage -- become pseudo-religions, drawing on religious energy and emotion to sustain themselves, all the while pretending to themselves that Spirit does not exist.

Genuine religion -- either consciously and explicitly or unconsciously and implicitly -- puts one in touch with first principles that define man qua Man, and allow one to understand the adage, as above, so below. This means that the archetypal Man (Adam Kadmon) is fashioned after the Absolute, and that the arc of our lives is (or should be) a movement toward greater conformity to that archetype.

False religions such as metaphysical Darwinism or Leftism always either obscure their first principles or fail to draw them out. As a result, they can't help lying, whether consciously or unconsciously. The dim or passive ones -- which is most of them -- lie unconsciously, whereas the bright ones do so consciously and disingenuously.

In fact, that is one of the difficulties in assessing a liberal. For example, Obama or Pelosi are so "cosmically ignorant" (as PowerLine put it) about economics, one necessarily wonders: do they actually believe what they say? In short, are they stupid or malevolent?

The Darwinist cannot or will not see the reality of "as above, so below." Not only does he deny it, but to the extent that Darwinism reveals the truth of man, then the reverse must be the case: as below, so above.

In other words, if Darwinism were true, then there is absolutely nothing -- not love, not truth, not art, not virtue -- that cannot be reduced to a battle down below for genetic survival. Translated to the field of politics, it is reduced to a brawl for power.

People say it is unfair to blame Darwin for social Darwinism, but to the extent that Darwinism reveals the "truth" of man, and this truth begins to take root on a widespread basis, only a rank hypocrite, weakling, or sentimentalist would fail to apply the doctrine to the conduct of his life. Besides, there can be no fairness or unfairness in Darwinism.

This is most certainly how Hitler felt about it. Furthermore, he was at least consistent and clear-sighted enough to know who the real enemy was: the religious, beginning with the devils who were responsible for the whole thing, the Jews. In order to apply his new anti-religious religion, he had to extirpate the old religion root and branch. Jews were the root. The branches would come later.

Even in a thoroughly trivial case such as Charles the Queeg, notice how this radical Darwinist has had to go about purging his blog of the religious. The underlying pattern is identical, again, because religion is the inoculation against bad or evil ideologies, so the battle against religion will always be at the front line of Cosmic War I, AKA the Forty Thousand Year War.

This is what groups such as the ACLU are all about, regardless of what they say they are about. Again, many of its members are just stupid, while others are disingenuous. But underneath it all, they know that in order to advance their infrahuman and anti-human agenda, they must eliminate the one force that would prevent it: religion.

Oddly enough, Hitler was actually more crafty and subtle than the ACLU. One of the things that marginalizes the ACLU in America is that they attack religion so brazenly. In Hitler's case, he knew that he had to progress in stages in order to gradually "Nazify" Christendom. If he had gone after Christianity more directly, more resistance would have arisen.

And he didn't even go after the Jews on the basis of religion per se. Rather, he first converted them to a race, again consistent with the principle of "as below, so above." In other words, their "evil" ideology could be reduced to a kind of genetic defect, and thus eliminated from the body of man. The pathology was not in our stars, but in the blood.

One author has defined fascism as the violent resistance to transcendence. From this angle, the ACLU is not fascist, since they engage in non-violent resistance to transcendence. And yet, the distinction is not so clear cut, since the ACLU wants to use the law to gain a monopoly on religion (the religion of materialism), and the law is always backed by state violence.

But at the same time, it's not as simple as saying that fascism is opposed to transcendence. Rather, it simply inverts it, so that transcendence will be sought from "below," in the emotions, instincts, and senses. What the Nazis sought was a kind of frenzied and irrational religion, or religion purged of any kind of hierarchical ascent. A large part of this necessarily involved a disabling of the conscience, which is to the individual what real religion is to the collective.

Hitler was well aware, for example, of how the Ten Commandments represented a very real barrier to what might be called "transcendence through descent." He wanted to breed a new "race" of ecstatically violent men who would have no such scruples -- authentic born-again pagans with no "impure" Jewish conscience to get in the way. In this inverted religion, man could be totally fulfilled here on earth by transcending individuality from below.

As Van Vrekhem writes, Hitler believed he "had been sent, and was constantly guided, to change the conscience and morality of man into something like the opposite of Christianity." This would be "a new system of values based on brutality and violence." Hitler actually saw Christ as his precursor, in that he would be the "link," so to speak, between the Volk and their most primitive instincts. Again, it was very much as if he were "word made flesh," except that in this case, the word was the primordial lie from below. Hitler said that,

"Providence has predestined me to be the greatest liberator of humanity.... I liberate man... from the foul and humiliating pangs of a chimera called 'conscience' and 'morality,' and from the demands of a liberty and personal independence of which anyway only a few are capable."

To the Christian teaching about the infinite value of the individual soul, "I oppose with icy clarity the liberating teaching of the nothingness and insignificance of the individual and his development within the concrete immortality of the nation." The Fuhrer would release "the mass of the believers from the burden of the free decision."

You see? Like nature herself, Hitler cared for the survival of the German species, not the individual. Like a multiculturalist, he believed that eternity was concretely located in the group's essence, not in the fanciful individual soul: "Hitler saw the human individual as nothing more than a cell in a body, an ant in a nest."

Hitler wrote that "the life of the individual should not be given such high value. A fly lays a million eggs, they all die. But flies survive." As Van Vrekhem notes, "the perspectives this opens reveal something of the real dimension of the evil to be discovered behind all the destruction and slaughter caused by this German Messiah."

At its very core, Hitler's vision was radically anti-Christian, anti-Enlightenment, anti-modernity, and anti-progress. His revolutionary goal was to create a "Spartan totalitarianism, in which people would be smiling, healthy, fanatical, and soulless robots, totally integrated into the common body of the Volk and disdaining individual dignity as a kind of psychological leprosy." This new man would place will above intellect (and certainly conscience).

Here again, this is the precise inversion of the religious man, for whom will is a prolongation of intellect, or "truth in action." But for the Nazi (or the metaphysically consistent Darwinist, for that matter), there can be no truth.

Rather, "truth" is just the prolongation of genetic will into the illusory area of the "mind." Truth is a function of power, as any good leftist knows. Thus, Hitler was in complete accord with your average de-Christianized leftist professor, that "the propaganda which produces the desired results is good and all other propaganda is bad."

*A reminder to the stupid: when I refer to "Darwinism," I am always talking about philosophical or metaphysical Darwinism, not the actual science. And before you get all sensitive and defensive, remember that the radical Darwinists such as Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris do not hesitate to call religion evil. I am merely responding in kind, for if one of these metaphysics is true, and you value Truth, then the other must inevitably be evil. Finally, it should go without saying that I am in no way suggesting that Hitler would have consciously regarded himself as a Darwinist, even though his perverse view of human life shares some of its most important assumptions.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Left Wing Proglodytes: Marching Boldly into the Future Toward an Imaginary Past

One more repost and I think tomorrow I'll be good to go, back into the Inferno. But this is not just filler, because I'm actually interested in re-examining a previous series of posts on Hitler in light of Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945. So I'll be adding a lot of new material as we go along.

Can any general principles be derived from something that seems so uniquely evil, i.e., the Nazi phenomenon? And not just banalities such as "don't appease bullies," or "genocide is bad," or "get rid of that stupid little mustache."

[The first thing that occurs to me is that, not only was Nazism not unique, but if we are honest, we must admit that we actually required the assistance of forces that were every bit as evil as Nazism in order to defeat it.]

[In reading Armegeddon, it seems that Churchill was very much aware of the depth of Stalin's evil, whereas Roosevelt (to say nothing of the left in general) was quite naive about it -- which caused Churchill considerable grief. He didn't want to liberate Poland or Czechoslovakia from the Nazis, only to hand it over to monsters who were even worse! But by the time of Yalta, Churchill held little sway].

[Wikipedia: Churchill believed Stalin "to be a devil-like tyrant leading a vile system," whereas the clueless FDR said "I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of a man. ... I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace." Thus, Churchill was fighting a losing battle, not only against FDR and our communist-infiltrated state department, but in his own homeland, where many of the soldiers -- not to mention intellectuals -- were men of the left who believed themselves to be fighting for socialist principles.]

As mentioned yesterday, one of the important contexts of Nazism was romanticism, which was itself a reaction to the alienation that was felt as a result of the industrial revolution in particular and modernity in general. Veith writes that "people felt alienated from nature, from society, and -- because their identity had become such an enigma -- from themselves. The rationalism of the Enlightenment, which seemed responsible for this malaise, was answered in the 19th century by Romanticism."

Marxism is rooted in the myopic fallacy that things were getting worse for the average worker, when the reality was that, for the first time in 10,000 years, they were actually getting dramatically better.

In this regard, Marx was not just economically illiterate, but appallingly ahistorical, a malady that continues to afflict the left to this day. The free market will eventually solve most problems that leftist policies will only perpetuate or aggravate, which means that the left is the very disease it attempts to cure. In order to carry this off, the leftist relies upon people being riveted to the ahistorical moment, so they may implement a radical solution to redeem the future. But the former never works and the latter never arrives.

Let's consider the idea that sudden progress may evoke sudden regression -- or at least make certain people more vulnerable to it. Yesterday we mentioned the 1960s. Why would the most affluent and pampered generation in history suddenly revert to neo-paganism, earth-worship, deconstruction, moral relativism, polymorphous perversity, and a rejection of the very civilizational inheritance that allowed such unprecedented affluence to begin with?

It reminds me of an unfortunate incident that occurred last Sunday, when Mrs. G backed her car out of the garage, and in the process managed to amputate my driver's side view mirror. So for the last few days I've been rolling the Coonmobile without one, and it's more disorienting than you might think. You realize the extent to which successfully moving forward requires one to keep an eye riveted on the past. Without that view of the past, it can sneak up on you in surprising ways. Your every move risks colliding with someone else's unfolding line of spacetime. Furthermore, I found myself reflexively looking for the past in the usual place, but finding only a "hole" -- except that the hole was filled with the present.

In the 1960s, the boomer generation gleefully tore the rearview mirror off the vehicle of civilization, while simultaneously believing they could put the pedal to the metal on the engine of progress. Is it therefore surprising that so many fatal accidents occurred? The breakup of the family, soaring crime rates, subrealistic art that became a celebration of the primitive and infrahuman, a deteriorating educational system at all levels, a general recrudescence of neopaganism, with its cult of the body and exaltation of the instincts, women emulating men, men emulating women, the rejection of our own Judeo-Christian wisdom tradition, etc. All because a bunch adolescents went on a joyride and tore the rear view mirror off Dad's car.

Will makes the point that "Nazism was, in a sense, a stab at progress, and a spiritual progress, to be sure. Doomed to failure, of course, because it, like communism, attempted to transcend collectively, an impossibility. I think we should make no mistake, though -- there is a meta-power in the collective that can be harnassed, channeled. Thus Nazism was a mysticism gone bad, and when mysticism goes bad, it becomes evil."

Precisely. In Hitler and His God, we read of Aurobindo making a similar comment, only in the 1930s: "Hitler is a new type, an infra-rational mystic, representing the dark counterpart of what we are striving to arrive at: a supra-rational mysticism.... He is a mystic, only a mystic of the wrong kind! He goes into solitude for his messages and waits till they come."

This was true. Hitler's "voice" was inconsistent with any garden variety psychosis, in which the individual has no control over his delusions and hallucinations. But in Hitler's case, he would court and call upon "the voice," in the same way an artist might call upon his muse or I might call upon my household gnome.

So who or what was the voice? Whatever it was, it gave him a kind of absolute conviction, plus the complete fearlessness and unwavering faith to carry out its promptings. Now, who does this remind us of? Yes, the Islamists follow that same pattern, with their insane faith in the transcendently evil. Clearly, it is no coincidence that Mein Kampf is a perennial bestseller in the Muslim world, or that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was an ally of Hitler, or that Jew hatred is central to both ideologies.

Just as the Divine leaves its traces in time, Satan always leaves his scent, so to speak. It reminds me of one of the final scenes of Batman Begins, where the Lieutenant hands Batman the Joker's calling card. For what is the Joker card? It is simultaneously nothing and anything. In fact, it can be anything you want it to be, from the highest of the high (the king) to the lowest of the low, or anything in between. It can even be another gender (the queen). As such, it abolishes all distinction and hierarchy, except that in a perverse way, the nothing-anything of the Joker is the "top," as he stands completely outside -- he transcends and upends -- any established or meaningful order.

Now, this is surely a kind of mysticism, but it is again a mysticism "from below" rather than above. It abolishes distinctions before they even have a chance to become distinct, which was again one of the central features of Nazism. You might say that there were only two real distinctions, 1) the Volk, and 2) the Führer -- who was truly a nothing and a nobody who became the German "all."

There was also the SA and the SS, but in both cases, their admittance into the hierarchy very much depended upon the degree to which they had subordinated their own will and identity to the Führer principle. The SS in particular was a sort of esoteric mystic body; in fact, they modeled themselves after the Jesuits, only absolutely committed to Hitler instead of Christ. In Armageddon, I couldn't help drawing an inverse parallel between them and the early Christian martyrs, in that they were absolutely ready and willing to die for their führer, even into May 1945.

In his comment, Will also noted that "Personal responsibility arises from genuine individualism and self-awareness -- meaning the attempt to overcome one's self-love, one's own lower instincts. When the emphasis is on a collective responsibility -- meaning making sure you recycle and pay respects to Gaia, etc. -- and personal responsibility is distinctly de-emphasized, then we're veering close to a mysticism gone bad."

As Will implies, the nationalism of Germany was a parody of the patriotism of the United States, the latter of which must first involve defense of the sacred principle of the individual. But in the case of German nationalism, it was in defense of the innate superiority of the German people in the collective sense. Again, this was conceived in terms of a mystical essence that emanated from the Volk, and only through the individual in a derivative way. There was a "German genius" that was in the blood, not on "paper," as it is in the case of America's founding documents.

Therefore, in the case of Nazi Germany, they needed to eliminate "foreign blood" in the same way Americans must constantly battle against "lies," or more precisely, "the lie." Hitler had no scruples whatsoever in lying, murdering, or backstabbing in order to further his "higher" truth, which was the racial purity of the German spirit. In fact, in that context, no degree of barbarism was off limits. Everything followed logically -- or infralogically -- from his first principles, which were written in the blood.

Van Vrekhem makes the interesting point that it is no coincidence that the Protestant revolt began in Germany with Luther. I have no idea whether this is generally accepted by other scholars, but Van Vrekhem notes that Christianity always had an uneasy relationship with the German psyche, and was very much superimposed on a more primitive pagan mythology that was never forgotten among the "volk." Therefore, when Luther came along to declare independence from the central church, he was merely exploiting collective psychic energies that were already very near the surface.

Führermore, it seems that the longing for a "strong man from above" was a continuous feature of the German psyche. As Van Vrekhem notes, "This need for an all-powerful master was an important feature in the psychological make-up of the Germans long before the strong man became the paragon of Fascism in many European nations. The Fürher was longed and prayed for; he was expected before he took the shape of Adolf Hitler. It was not the least of of Hitler's intuitions that he knew exactly how to take on the part and act in a way to which the German masses subconsciously responded with religious fervor." Another observer wrote that "The cry for a leader arose from the searing wish for somebody who would provide meaning in a secularized time, which apparently burdened the individual with an excess of individual responsibility and made him feel lonely" (emphases mine).

Van Vrekhem relates story after story of how strong men -- generals, diplomats, artists, intellectuals and journalists -- were reduced to Jello in Hitler's presence. He clearly transmitted a kind of preternatural power to which many individuals attested. So the ultimate responsibility is not in the führer but in the volk from whom he draws his very substance.

Speaking of which, is there an "artist" in Hollywood, or a celebrity journalist, or a tenured mediocretin, who didn't fall under Obama's spiel? Yes, a few, but only a few. Obama clearly has a similar kind of power, at least over the susceptible -- for example, his vaunted ability to make Chris Matthews' pasty thigh tingle. Obviously it can't be Obama's ideas, which are so banal, nor his accomplishments, which are nil.

As was very much true of Hitler, Obama's words usually make no literal sense on paper, and yet, he personally has this undeniably potent persuasive power. And he especially has this power over people who are not inoculated by genuine religion. In other words, he has a "religious effect" on the secularized mind. Deepak could be speaking of Hitler when he writes of how the Annointed One will bring about a "quantum leap" in human consciousness. How could anyone believe such sacred cow manührer?

Michael Burleigh writes of how Germans marched "boldly into the future in search of an imaginary past." In so doing, they created a gilded mythology in which they were the superior ones the world was waiting for. So don't blame Obama. Blame the sick mythofolkers who fuel the fantasy.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Left Wing Fascism: Different Strokes for Different Volks

Still on the road to recovery. The Boy's pediatrician says it's a virus, something worse than a cold but better than the flu. At least it's giving me the opportunity to finish Max Hastings' chilling Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945.

Not too long after the successful landing of D-Day in June 1944, everyone realized the Allies would eventually win. As such, there was no rational reason for Hitler to continue the war, much less with the frenzied sadism with which he did so. But then, there was no rational reason for him to have started it, either.

The last year of the war was its most bloody, destructive, genocidal, and hellish. The suffering that took place is truly beyond imagination -- and this includes the suffering caused by the Allies, which wouldn't have been at issue if the Nazis had simply relented. And the sadism and barbarity of the Russians might actually exceed that of the Nazis, if that is possible. The Russian savagery that took place in east Prussia is in the same league as the Holocaust.

Anyone who is sanguine about human nature needs to read this book and get a clue; also anyone who doesn't appreciate the rare and beautiful thing we had going in this country until the left got the upper hand. They will not rest until we are just like the decadent Europe we rejected long ago.

Anyway, this gives me a chance to reflect on an old post about a book called Hitler and His God: The Background to the Hitler Phenomenon.


Now, not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we shall soon see that Nazism represents a perfect shadow of what we might call "Christian evolution," or the possibility of further spiritual development within a Christian framework. In virtually all areas, Hitler wished to invert Christianity and literally create a new religion that represented its very opposite. As John Toland wrote, "National Socialism was a religion and Hitler was its Christ."

Van Vrekhem makes a convincing case that there actually wasn't any such thing as "Nazism" in any consistently articulate sense. Much less was Nazi Germany primarily "fascist." Rather, its ultimate principle was not only the fuhrer in general, but Hitler in particular. Truly, just as Christianity is not fundamentally a religion of "ideas" but of a person, so too can it be said that Nazism was a man. Furthermore, as we shall see, he was most definitely a kind of "word made flesh," only in a very different sense than that with which we are familiar.

Nevertheless -- and this is another key point -- the Hitler phenomenon could not have occurred in the absence of our intuition of the cosmic principle that allows word to become flesh. In other words, it was as if Hitler were hijacking a legitimate channel for a very illegitimate end. But when you think about it, this is not fundamentally different than when someone uses language in order to lie. Our cosmos is created in such a way that objects and symbols may embody, encode, and transmit truth. But for that very same reason, they may encode and convey lies. Likewise, if art is to exist, it will be capable of transmitting the celestial beauty from above as well as diabolical ugliness from below.

Van Vrekhem goes into considerable detail about the utter trauma sustained by the German people in the wake of losing World War I. For most Americans, our history has been so comparatively uneventful that we just can't imagine what it would be like for every pillar of stability to be obliterated. I suppose we got a taste of it in the Great Depression, which was precisely why so many nations lurched toward a fascist solution.

There is no doubt that FDR rode to power on a similar messianic wave as Hitler, which is precisely what allowed him to usurp and wield presidential power in a theretofore unprecedented way. Most of what FDR did was demonstrably harmful to the economy, but the need was so deep for a "strong man from above," that the people actually embraced it. Again, there was a kind of perfect resonance between the messiah and the masses. (We will later discuss this in the context of Obamania, as it is a reflection of these same enduring principles.)

Now, to back up a bit, there is no doubt that man has been dealing with an ongoing existential crisis with the onset of modernity. I'm not going to press the point, partly because it's just too obvious, but the rupture between the Middle Ages and the scientific revolution was so great, that we are still dealing with its implications. It is as if there are tectonic plates in human time, more or less continuous planes that occasionally shift, causing an earthquake in history. One such quake was the "axial period," during which most of the world's revelations were downloaded from above.

Then, after the world was largely oriented around these revelations came the massive quake of the free markets, democracy, and the industrial and scientific revolutions. In his book Modern Fascism, Veith discusses the deep alienation that resulted from the dramatic change from an agrarian, religious, hierarchical, and essentially timeless (or cyclical) existence to one that was suddenly ordered around the machine, the clock, democracy, and (small r) reason.

If we say that man appeared approximately 200,000 years ago, his outward circumstances changed little between then and the Agricultural Revolution some 10,000 years ago. Afterwards not a lot changed for the average Joe until the Industrial Revolution, beginning in the 18th century. So in the overall scheme of things, our current lifestyle is truly just a blip -- 300 years out of a total of 200,000. No wonder, therefore, that humans have such a strongly romantic and nostalgic streak.

But some people are more romantic than others, none more so than the late 18th and early 19th century Germans -- perhaps as a reaction to how rapidly they found themselves hurtling into a new and unknown world. While they apparently represented the apex of "civilization" by the onset of World War I, that civilization was superimposed, so to speak, on some very experience-near collective memories of blood, soil, and mythology that were not just bubbling under the surface, but existing side by side with the advances.

Back to that idea in just a moment, but we can get a glimpse of the same phenomenon in our contemporary culture, in which, for example, the most cutting edge science exists side by side with the most primitive new age magic and mythology, a la Deepak and his ilk. Instead of seeing these things as opposed (i.e. scientistic fairy tales and new age mythology), perhaps we should see the new age as a kind of fascist revolt against the anti-humanism of postmodernity.

In any event, as we shall see, the cultural matrix that gave birth to Hitler was a deeply "new age" one, with all sorts of books, movements, and secret societies exploring the occult -- seances, spiritism, chanelling, reincarnation, hidden knowledge, etc. This phenomenon was only ramped up in the wake of the catastrophic loss of World War I. For example, Van Vrekhem discusses how much interest there was in contacting the dead, given how many parents had lost their sons to the war -- some five million dead between the German empire and Austria-Hungary.

Veith writes that "fascism is essentially a response to the alienation that has been a part of the spiritual landscape of the West since the Enlightenment.... Science, technology, and the economic realities and environmental damage of the industrial revolution isolate the individual from nature. There has thus been a genuine yearning for community and for an organic unity with the natural world."

Living a life of cold logic is intrinsically alienating. There is nothing Rational about living a life of pure (again, small r) reason. But nor is there anything rational about abandoning reason altogether and living a purely instinctual life, which is clearly what occurred with Nazi Germany, but also to a lesser extent in the 1960s, not just in America, but all over the developed world.

I remember a particular patient who was maybe a decade older than I, and who was a young adult by the end of the '60s, whereas I was still a young teen. He was a deeply alienated man, and quite hostile to religion. Interestingly, he frequently articulated his alienation in the form of nostalgia for the 1960s, which, you might say he missed out on. He was more a witness than participant in the dionysian frenzy of that decade, which made him feel as if that is what was missing in his life. If he could only go back and relive the '60s, but this time do it right -- completely obliterate his ego and live some sort of communal life with no tension, instant sexual gratification, no boundaries, etc. For him, it was as if there had been this giant, boundary-less party taking place, but he had been on the outside looking in. (The film American Beauty also explores this theme.)

But again, this was just a symbol of my patient's current alienation, which could only be resolved now, not by dreaming and fantasizing about the past. The blogosphere is a pretty sorry place, but some of the sorriest people of all are the ones like my patient, who are now in their 60s and posting on dailykos about how much they miss the 1960s, and how the Obamessiah is going to bring back that sense of community and oneness.

Again, this is anything but progressiveism; it is pure romanticism, which is always backward looking -- and not just backward looking, but backward to an idealized past that never existed to begin with. It is pure projection of present existential pain, and escapism into the past. No one is more conservative than a progressive. It's just that what they want to conserve is childhood and all of its privileges, e.g., irresponsibility, dependency, entitlement, rebellion against the grown-ups, polymorphous perversity, weak boundaries, etc.

Which is perfectly understandable. For someone who lives without any religious telos, the denial of impulses seems stifling and arbitrary, because it "leads nowhere" (since God does not exist), and merely becomes bourgeois respectability or rank hypocrisy.

Thus, as Veith writes, "If objective knowledge is alienating, subjective experience is liberating and healing. Authentic experience comes from unleashing the emotions, cultivating the subjective and irrational dimension of life." So never ask why the left is so hysterical and irrational, because that is the whole point. It is a way of life. You will look in vain for the "rational end" they are seeking, because the emotional irrationalism is its own end. I am quite convinced that leftism is simply a "way of life" -- or, more precisely, a way of managing one's emotional life, of dealing with the pain and conflict of existence. It will be with us so long as cosmic alienation is with us, as an alternative to religion.

In Hitler & His God, Van Vrekhem goes into considerable detail about the "volkisch movement" that was a big part of the appeal of Nazism -- or which Nazism co-opted, to be precise. At the root of this movement was the idea that Christianity was a foreign influence superimposed on a much deeper reservoir of primitive beliefs. Christianity unifies people through a common belief system, but "volk" indicates "a tribal unity of blood, unmodified by ideas of a common humanity. Religious in the intensity of their beliefs, volkists had had no real equivalent in other Western nations."

The concept is especially difficult for normal (non-leftist) Americans to comprehend, being that we are the first nation explicitly created around abstract and universal principles instead of more primitive modes of blood, soil, mythology, etc. But here again, we can see how the modern doctrine of multiculturalism is in reality a quite primitive reversion back to earlier ways of life. Multiculturalism is specifically a rejection of American principles, what with its obsession with blood and race instead of ideas. This is why when you criticize Obama's ideas, they accuse you of being a racist.

For Americans -- and for Christians -- "essence" is in the individual. That is, we are created in the image of God, so that our deepest personal essence partakes of divinity. But for the volkists -- and for the multicultural left -- essence is in the group: "Volk is a much more comprehensive term than 'people,' for to German thinkers ever since the birth of German romanticism in the late eighteenth century, Volk signified the union of a group of people with a transcendental 'essence.' This 'essence' might be called 'nature,' or 'cosmos' or 'mythos,' but in each instance it was fused to man's innermost nature and represented the source of his creativity, his depth of feeling, his individuality and his unity with other members of the Volk. The essential element here is the linking of the human soul with its natural surroundings, with the 'essence' of nature."

Now, why do you suppose "global warming" has become the left's new religion? Here again, you need only scratch the surface of their irrational rhetoric to appreciate a reservoir of primitive, volkisch-like sentiments of "unity" with mother earth, of healing the planet, etc. Never mind that premodern humans were the worst stewards of the planet imaginable, in part because they were so fused with it that they didn't know the environment existed. Ironically, we only know about the environment because in the Judeo-Christian metaphysic, man transcends nature. But again, in the absence of a truly integral religious framework, this transcendence will be experienced as alienation, as if human beings have been exiled from mother earth, and need to come back down and re-merge with her like the prodigal mama's boy.

For (non-left) Americans, the individual stands above the state, and derives his inalienable rights from the Creator. But for the volkist, the group is the supreme identity that stands above or behind the state. Truly, in Nazi Germany, there was only one individual, Hitler; but in turn, he was merely the "embodiment" of the volk, which is rooted in blood and soil. Thus, "it was the genius of Adolf Hitler to wed the volkisch flight from reality to political discipline and efficient political organization."

To be continued....

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A Cosmos in Leafing Color

Hey, wait a minute -- this is no cold, this is a flu! I won't say it's "the" flu, since I always get a flu shot. But it's certainly a flu, what with the aches, the fever, and the sweats last night. The latter means I've turned a corner on it. But I slept way too late, plus I have to work today. And on top of that, I'm still in the process of debriefing Will on his supersecret mission to locate a shortcut between the interior horizon and the northern territories of Upper Tonga.

So the best I can do is rewordgitate an old post that even I don't remember. It doesn't seem like the sort of thing thing that can be skimmed. Rather, it must be lingered over and pondered in order to even be properly misunderstood. In my opinion.

An allnewtous commenter observes that "the three primary colors of light (not pigment) are red, green and blue. Looking at the wavelengths of these colors, red is the longest (lowest frequency), blue is the shortest (highest frequency) and green is intermediate between the two. Now, as you follow the red wavelength to its extreme it approaches a flat line, that is, the horizontal, and as you follow the blue wavelength to its extreme, it approaches a vertical line. The point of intersection (middle ground) is that of the cross (El Christo). Also note that the red and blue spectrum venture beyond the limits of our visual detection, whereas that which lies in between (the green primary color) represents the visual spectrum.

"It is no accident that the primary colors are trinitarian. Following the principle of metaphysical correspondence (as above, so below), the red (horizontal) corresponds to the Spirit (think immanence and timeline, as in 'he has spoken through the prophets') and the blue (vertical) as the Father who is beyond (think transcendent, depths of the ocean, blue skies, deep space, the Father is greater than I). Both of these persons of the Trinity are 'unseen', whereas the Green (think intersection, cross, middle) is the visible person of the trinity, El Christo."

What are the messages we may derive from this correspondence? That "1) God is present with us, even in the horizontal, 2) The metaphysical has its expression in the physical, 3) To use Bob symbolism: Spirit (bidirectional horizontal arrow) and Father (bidirectional vertical arrow) = intersection = where Christ is to be found, and 4) The arithmetical expression of number three above is 1+1+1= 1."

This reminds me of a riff by Schuon in Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts, in which he goes off a deep end in a curiously precise way about the spiritual meaning of the various colors. Most of it struck me as deeply true, and yet, it also left me wondering, 1) how did this guy come up with this stuff, and 2) what kind of cosmos is it, whereby such things can be even remotely true, since the official scientific view is that color is absolutely meaningless? Remember, in the Newtonian view, color is simply an optical illusion produced by energy vibrations.

But what if the existence of color holds certain keys to our understanding of the whole existentialada? Put it this way -- would it really make no difference if we lived in a world in which there were no color, just light and dark and nothing in between?

Schuon writes that colors are part of the formal order, and yet, are independent qualities that exist separately from tangible form. As applied to the Spirit, he writes that "affective and combative spiritual positions are 'red'; contemplation and quietude are 'blue'; joy is 'yellow'; pure truth, 'white'; the inexpressible, 'black.'"

In themseleves -- i.e., archetypally -- he says that "red has something of intensity, of violence, blue of depth and goodness. Our gaze is able to move, to lose itself in blue, but not in red, which rises before us like a wall of fire. Yellow partakes at once of intensity and depth, but in a 'light' mode; it has a certain 'transcendence' compared to the two 'heavy' colors; it is like an emergence toward whiteness. When mixed with blue it gives to the contemplativity of this color [green] a quality of 'hope,' of saving joy, a liberation from the enveloping quietude of contemplation."

How does this stack up with our commenter's formulation, that green is the intermediate principle where the height of the transcendent is to be found in the depths of the immanent, thus engendering hope?

Schuon goes on to say that "Red excites, awakens, 'exteriorizes'; blue gathers and 'interiorizes'; yellow rejoices and 'delivers.' Red is aggressive and moves outward; the radiance of blue is deep, welcoming, and leads inward; the radiance of yellow is 'liberating' and spreads in all directions. The combination of inward withdrawal (blue) with joy (yellow) is hope (green); hope is opposed to passion (red) because unlike passion it does not live in the present, but in the future; it is opposed to passion in its two aspects of introspection and joy."

And green is indeed an odd color. It is obviously the color of elemental life, i.e., the mystery of photosynthesis, which converts the pure light of the celestial center into green leaves -- just as the Tree of Life is a center of pneumasynthesis for those whose wood beleaf. Schuon says that green possesses an ambiguity because "it combines two colors that are opposed in two different respects," thus giving it "a character of 'surprise' and 'strangeness.'"

No one expects green to appear in a dead cosmos! One could go so far as to say that the sudden emergence of a green planet is about the oddest thing one could imagine after 9.85 billion years of a lifeless cosmos following the big bang. Green is always saying Boo! But in a good way.

As Schuon explains, green "has two dimensions -- whence its mystery -- whereas its opposite color, red, is simple, indivisible, instantaneous. Green is hope, promise, happy expectation, good news; it has an aspect of gaiety, and mischievousness; it possesses neither the violent action of red nor the inscrutable -- and inwardly unlimited -- contemplativity of blue; nor is it the open, simple, and radiant joy of yellow."

Christ's own passion (red) is resolved in hope (evergreen, as in the Christmas tree). I suppose this is why satan is always depicted as red. Red "is the present moment. Green, its opposite, is duration with its two dimensions, past and future, the future being represented by yellow and the past by blue. Seen spatially blue is space and yellow the flashing center, a center that reveals itself and liberates, displaying a new dimension of infinity. It is the sky transpierced by the sun."

So I suppose Christ would be a balance of blue and red, crowned in yellow in a backdrop of green. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Child is Father to the Evolving Man

The only reason to come up with a new post today would be to prove to myself that I could do it even in the teeth of this lousy cold. Which is not a good enough reason. All aboard the Knowa's Arkive!

Let me express myself in an even clearer way. The fruitful person gives birth out of the very same foundation from which the Creator begets the eternal Word or Creative Energy, and it is from this core that one becomes fruitfully pregnant. --Meister Eckhart

In his Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800, Stone writes that by the 16th century, new and unprecedented trends in human psychological evolution were clearly emerging. In particular, there was an increase in individualism, characterized by a growing capacity for introspection, or exploration of the interior world.

Not surprisingly, we see the first real novels appear at this time, which explore the interior life of everyday individual characters, instead of dealing mainly in archetypes, religious fables, heroic epics, and more stock characters. There is also a growth of personal autonomy, marked by awareness of the individual conscience, empathy for others, affectionate marriage, and the uniqueness (and therefore, value) of the individual.

Since these things are completely taken for granted in our own time, it's difficult to try to imagine what life would be like in their absence. Another important point, as Elias has pointed out, is that we cannot think of these changes as having been brought about in any conscious manner. No one invented them, nor were they brought about by the ideas of a few great and influential men. Rather, they just "happened."

Or did they? Is there a hidden "law" at work in the movement of history?

Magnus left a pertinent comment yesteryear, writing that he wonders "whether modern civilization could even have come to exist had not the Nativity Story been burned into our minds year after year, generation after generation, millions of times through the centuries." This reminds me of how Gil Bailie looks at scripture. That is, we have our own ideas of what it's all about, but what if God has his own agenda of which we are not consciously aware? What if he's trying to nudge all of mankind in a particular direction, so to speak, by tinkering with our unconscious template?

In Bailie's case, he sees the central gospel message to be about putting an end to mankind's perpetual scapegoating and sacrificial violence, which was and is endemic in the pre- and non-Christianized world. The sacrificial act fosters a temporary unity achieved through ritual violence, which must be repeated again and again.

However, the unconscious message of the gospel is that when we murder the innocent victim, we murder God. Such an idea was utterly novel in the world of ancient Rome, just as it is today in the Islamic world, where might makes right and the meek inherit dad's rusty Kalashnikov.

Similarly, if Magnus is correct -- and I believe he is -- then another unconscious message of the gospels would be about the manner in which we are to regard children. Again, it is difficult -- and even painful -- for us to put ourselves in the mindset of antiquity, when children were regarded as essentially worthless, and not infrequently used for sacrifice to appease their gods: "Many ancient pagan societies believed that parents possessed an unqualified right to kill their own children for any reason." Indeed, the Roman Law of the Twelve tables "actually required a father to put to death a deformed child" (Hutchinson). Conversely, "Jews were almost alone among ancient peoples in their opposition to infanticide," and Jesus himself "had a singular appreciation for the wondrous spirit of children, which was rare in the ancient world" (ibid.).

Note that radical pro-abortionists affirm without apology that the human fetus has no intrinsic value -- that ending its life is fundamentally no different than removing a decayed tooth. The mother determines its value. But who determines the value of the mother? Don't ask.

However, in a world in-formed by the gospel message, one can no longer believe this about children. Rather, there will be an awareness of the moral offense, which is why the left must promote abortion so radically and so fanatically, for to entertain doubt about the matter is to be convicted by one's conscience.

The point I am attempting to make is that our conscious mind understands things one way, while the unconscious understands them in another way, which may well be at odds with what the conscious mind believes. We do our best to "consciously" interpret the divine message, but is this even possible? Isn't it a little like a two-dimensional circle trying to circumnavelgaze a three-dimensional sphere? A sphere moving through two dimensions can be described as a series of circles of varying sizes. But it will require a leap of imagination for the flatlander to "see" that these apparently separate circles are all partial reflections of the one sphere.

To extend the analogy, what if God, or "God's word," is, say, a ten-dimensional object moving through our four dimensions? We will attempt to detect the contours of this object in a linear way, when in fact, it takes a vast leap of imagination to en-vision the Divine Reality.

Looked at a certain way, O can have no fewer than 6,928,198,253 dimensions, which is to say, a number equivalent to the human population at this moment. Is this an argument for relativism? Not at all. I am arguing that there is an absolute object with at least 6,928,198,253 dimensions, and in whose shadow -- or light -- or both -- we live. Remember, every bit of light we see -- and of which we are made -- is just a part of the sun. We imagine that the sun is a distinct object 93 million miles away, but this is pure fantasy. Not only are we right here in the middle of it, but it is simultaneously entangled in us.

Similarly, our own I AM is plugged directly into the hyperdimensional subject in the manner described by Meister Eckhart, so that "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me." So is it my eye? Or God's eye?

In order for a knower to know an object, there must be a third thing called "light," and the supraformal light is always superior to any formal object it illuminates. For as Schuon wrote, "the formal cannot exhaustively express the informal," nor can metaphysics be reduced to creed without some part of O escaping the formulation.

Man partakes of the divine being, therefore he Is. However, since he is not God, he -- alone among the animals -- may "become." God and man are not one; but nor are they two. I suppose the best way of saying it would be that God and man are three. Two of the parties are obvious, which is to say, the Absolute and the relative, the latter of which must exist in light of the existence of the Absolute. In other words, the relative is a necessary consequence of the Absolute, the latter being infinite and extending into relativity, as the central sun extends to all the millions of eyes with which it sees itself.

The Great Mystery is why this middle term exists, this uncertain mode of being-becoming. For it is in this space that the ongoing creation -- or fertile reproduction -- of the human takes place.

Now, what is a baby? Or, to put it in a slightly different way, what does a baby symbolize -- at least for those of us with a Christianized unconscious -- which is to say, virtually all of us in the Judeo-Christian West (for remember, there was a critical context for the valuing of babies, and that was the Jewish culture of antiquity; Jesus pretty much had to be a Jew).

In a baby, heaven and earth touch, and the circle is yet unbroken. The child, by virtue of his im-maturity, is "an incomplete state which points toward its own completion" (Schuon). The child represents what was and is "before," that is, "what is simple, pure, innocent, primordial, and close to the Essence, and this is what its beauty expresses; this beauty has all the charm of promise, of hope and of blossoming, at the same time that of a Paradise not yet lost; it combines the proximity of the Origin with the tension towards the Goal" (ibid.).

Thus, "The man who is fully mature always keeps, in equilibrium with wisdom, the qualities of simplicity and freshness, of gratitude and trust, that he possessed in the springtime of his life" (Schuon).

Friday, January 28, 2011

Slipping into Darkness

In Canto IV, Dante and Virgil cross the river Acheron to hell proper, the "abyss of woe." Of the nine precincts of hades, the first five are reserved for the more self-indulgent -- one might also say impulsive -- sins, while the next two are for those who willfully hurt and inflict violence upon innocent others.

The last two are for the truly malicious who not only hurt others, but sin against God and goad others into doing so. How many demons has Karl Marx converted? The figure is incalculable, but he might be Satan's greatest recruiter.

Note that many of our elite universities forbid recruitment by the United States military, one of the greatest forces of good in human history. But it is unthinkable that these leftist seminaries would ever forbid their Marxists, neo-Marxists, pseudo-Marxists, and crypto-Marxists from recruiting fresh demons into their ranks, since this is their central mission. This tells you all you need to know about the moral perversion -- and inversion -- of academia.

I don't know how many literature departments still discuss Dante, but if they do, it can only be in a faux-sophisticated spirit of withering irony, narcissistic temporo-centrism, and narrowly childish superiority -- or the usual combination we see on the left of cynical contempt and credulous gullibility. It's what makes their intellectual world go 'round and then flat.

The three levels of hell reminds me of three levels of psychological illness: the neurotic, the personality disorder, and the sociopath. As we have mentioned before, the neurotic mostly suffers from internal conflicts, and in many ways is just a "normal" human being. We all have conflicts, but only when they seriously interfere with happiness do we generally seek treatment for them.

The personality disorders are much more serious and much more difficult to treat, the reason being that they generally involve damage to the container as opposed to conflictual "content." It's like the difference between a house in need of routine repairs vs. one with a seriously compromised foundation. In order to repair the foundation, you might have to tear down much of the structure and rebuild from the bottom up.

If you don't appreciate the pervasiveness of personality disorders, then you cannot understand Man. You might think that these are relatively rare, but they are quite common. These people are generally quite resistant to change, because they have no insight into their condition. This is because insight requires critical distance in order to see how one part of the self is in conflict with another.

But in the case of the personality disorder, you might say that the pathological part has taken over, so they are often aware of no internal conflict at all. Instead of understanding their conflicts, they act them out with others (or with society, as in the case of certain political activists). People with personality disorders not only live in hell, but inevitably make the lives of people around them a living hell (at least the "extroverted" types).

Over the last couple of decades, the Narcissistic Personality Disorder has gotten a lot of attention, but there are actually about ten varieties of personality disorder. Furthermore, these may be subdivided into levels of intensity. In my view, what is called the Borderline Personality Disorder is not so much a distinct entity as a more primitive level of development, so that, say, a narcissistic personalty can be closer to neurotic or to borderline, along a continuum, depending upon the health of the underlying structure. (Keith Olbermann, for example, would be a prime example of a borderline narcissist, in that no matter where he goes, he cannot help inducting others into his psychodrama and making those around him miserable.)

One of the classics of psychoanalytic literature is Neurotic Styles, by David Shapiro. For example, the impulsive style has a distinct mode of cognition and behavior which may superficially appear to be "active," but is in fact quite passive. Specifically, they are passive in the face of their own impulses, like a child. An immature child is not necessarily "willful," just unable to suppress impulses and resist temptations.

Subjectively, the passive/impulsive person has the experience "of having executed a significant action, not a trivial one, without a clear and complete sense of motivation, decision, and sustained wish." Thus there is action, but not "completely deliberate or fully intended." "These varieties of experience -- whim, urge or impulse, and giving in -- are essentially similar from the standpoint of their formal qualities."

It is critical to note that these people may appear to be self-confident and uninhibited, especially to the inhibited and unconfident. They can radiate a kind of infectious charisma, often on a very primitive level. They can be charming and playful, until one realizes that they cannot be sober or deliberative.

I think this is the secret of certain gifted actors who are completely crazy in their personal lives, e.g., Marlon Brando. Now, there was a man with no boundaries. You might say that he was a saint of the lower vertical. Lower than that would be an Adolf Hitler, whose primitive aggression was completely uninhibited. I suppose this is why men on death row are never without love letters from adoring females, or why Yasser Arafat was such a heartslob on the left.

But this is getting a little academic. Back to the Inferno. Upton notes that the first souls Dante meets in Limbo are similar to the neurotics described above, in that they are capable of insight and self-understanding: "They are better than all others in Hell because they alone understand what spiritual loss really is." While it is a sightless realm, "In this particular circle of the 'blind world,' however, the inmates are conscious of their blindness." And because they are aware of their blindness, they can ultimately be helped.

As I have mentioned before, there are three types of atheists (similar to the above schematic): the lazy/indifferent, the willful, and the obligatory. The obligatory atheist has thoroughly cut himself off from spiritual reality, in such a way that there is no helping him outside a serious implosion of grace (and even then, he will probably reject it). Their spiritual foundation is so compromised that nothing can be built upon it. Such a person is "spiritually insane" or autistic.

Note also that these are the activists who feel compelled to recruit and enlist others into their condition, à la PZ Myers and all the rest. They are anything but passive and indifferent, like those in the first circle of atheism. They cannot leave God alone.

Which, ironically, can, in a few cases, result in an eventual breakthrough, as in the case of Anthony Flew. One must be careful about spending one's life pondering God's absence, because one might accidentally run into him. This is somewhat how it happened with me. ʘO¶s!

The souls in limbo can progress spiritually, but it is a rather slow struggle, since they cannot actively participate in the process. This is not much different from psychotherapy, which is difficult enough to conduct with someone who seeks it, but impossible to impose upon someone who doesn't want to be there. It is not like performing an operation on an unconscious individual. Rather, you need full conscious participation, because ultimately the person is learning how to operate upon himself. You can't do it for him.

Note that there is a portion of salvation even for those atheists who nevertheless have lived their lives in service to truth, to those who honor every art and science. These are upright and dignified souls who speak rarely, and in quiet tones. One might say that they have ascended as close to God as it is possible to do in the absence of a conscious participation in Christ (and Dante understands Christ in a deeply meta-cosmic and even meta-Christian way).

The One Cosmos waiting room:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Lazy Man's Way to Hell, or Don't be Astoneaged at All the Meandertale Men

Now joined by his faithful sidekick Virgil, Dante ventures in Canto III into the antechamber of the underworld, which will reveal nine concentric circles, each housing a different type of offender. There is an upper and lower hell, the former being more of a minimum security prison, the latter housing the real sociopaths.

This reminds me. Shortly after I completed graduate school and was trying to start a private practice, I thought about hanging a notice above the door, the same inscription Dante places above the Gate of Hell: Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here. But how many people would get the comedic reference, or appreciate it if they did? (Speaking of comedy, I did not know this, but the working title for the Divine Comedy was I Love Lucifer. Not surprisingly, the suits at DanteLu nixed the idea.)

Not to make too much of the comparison -- which is a little too romantic for my taste -- but there is an obvious resonance between the psychoanalytic journey and the cartography of hell. This will become more clear as we proceed, but it is easy to see how Freud largely medicalized and secularized ideas that had been circulating in the collective psyche for centuries.

Heh. I was just trying to find a reference to this in a book by the psychoanalyst James Grotstein, and found this in the foreword: "In... attempting to speak about [this book], I feel a bit like humble Dante being guided through the underworld by Virgil. The wonder, the marvel, the splendor, and the terror of the unconscious as portrayed by Grotstein is reminiscent of Dante's portrayal of the underworld in The Inferno. Grotstein brings to life for the reader the excitement that Freud must have experienced as the immanence of another order of experience first began to reveal itself to him through his exciting/frightening encounters with the female hysterics who had overwhelmed Breuer [an early influence on Freud].

"The mystery and the awe became all the greater as Freud followed the trail of his thoughts and feelings in his journey into the underworld of his own mind and body and spirit, an underworld occupied with subjects and objects and invisible presences with their own utterly alien and utterly familiar subjects and objects and history and sense of time and space."

Or as we call them, mind parasites. One purpose of therapy is to "turn ghosts into ancestors," or parasites into fossils and artifacts. Drained of their numinous power -- which can only be appropriated from the central self -- they can no longer fascin-ate, which is etymologically linked to fascinum, or witchcraft. They are also linked to fascism, but that's another storey. We're only on the first.

Regarding the journey into the unconscious/underworld, Grotstein writes of wanting "to bring psychic entities, the unconscious and its denizens (its internal subject and internal objects), as well as the ego and id, out of the shadows and mists that have enveloped and obscured them in the misleading garb of deterministic science, which was Freud's oeuvre, and restore them to their true aliveness."

For Freud, the unconscious was structured around unrecognized and mis-recognized desire. Similarly, in hell "The soul travels quickly to the place of its desire" (Upton).

In the words of Joyce, the nightworld of the unconscious is a primitive meandertale where "the ignorance that implies impression that knits knowledge that finds the nameform that whets the wits that convey contacts that sweeten sensation that drives desire that adheres to attachment that dogs death that bitches birth that entails the ensuance of existentiality."

But who hasn't thought that?

Upton notes that we assume every soul "would automatically choose Paradise," but this turns out to be as wrong as the notion that human beings will choose the Good in this life.

When a person comes in for therapy, it is generally because of some form of self-defeating thought and/or behavior that precludes happiness. This is a result not just of faulty ideas that can be eliminated through reason, but of internalized mind parasites with agendas all their own. And again, this is hardly a new idea, just a modern way to talk about a truth that was clearly recognized by Dante, only expressed in a different framework.

Upton observes that "in order to desire Paradise, one must possess a soul which resembles it." In short, one must purify and purge (as in purgatory) those elements that are incompatible with, and turn away from, the Life Divine.

But the first circle of hell is reserved for souls who didn't so much actively turn from God as passively drift -- one might say "Fall" -- away from him: "The souls in this circle, the circle of the whirlwind, are damned because they simply went along with circumstances..." (Upton). Heaven expelled them... / And yet deep hell refuses to receive them.

One thinks of the impressionable and emptyheaded "independent voters" who decide our elections and usher in a nightmarish future that none of them intended. But because of their spiritual and intellectual passivity, they open the way for political actors with very bad intentions indeed. For Dante, these are souls Who mourn the lack of intellect's true light.

Thus, this is also "the circle of the Cowards who, ironically, are also in another way fearless" (ibid). As Upton explains, since they "have no fear of God" they "are complacent," most especially about the evils in our midst. Not for nothing does wisdom begin in the fear of God, for this fear is a natural consequence of understanding what is at stake. Importantly, the fear emanates from love, not vice versa.

Upton makes another critical point, that to drift along with the tide of the world is to reject one's most precious gift, which is the unique self. When this occurs, it leaves an empty core of gnawing, existential envy. As Dante says, these are people who had never lived, so they are naturally envious of the living. (It is striking how much envy Sarah Palin provokes in the dead. Indifference I can understand, but why the delusional frenzy of hatred?)

As I discussed in the book (p. 243-44), envy might be thought of as a kind of psychic "referral pain," which transforms inner emptiness into a painful longing for what others seem to have.

Thus, the diminution of envy is both a commandment and a gift. It is a gift, because it is a natural result of recognition of one's true self -- i.e., the O <---> (¶) axis -- which is the only way to spiritual contentment. As the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein recognized, Envy <---> Gratitude are located along a continuum. Thus, as Upton explains, souls in paradise "envy no one," even when "they occupy the lowest level among the saved," while the envious are perpetually driven forward in an endless quest to find and fill themselves.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When You Go to Hell, Be Sure and Bring a Loved One

I guess we're going to be fighting through the Inferno canto-a-canto. Upton sets the scene in Canto II, noting that "In the face of Hell, Dante's courage begins to fail."

Technically we haven't yet crossed the threshold of the nether world, so there's still time to back out and leave it alone. You know what they say -- the devil you know is preferable to the one you don't. (Although for New Jersey Devils fans, it's getting close.)

Here again, this reminds me of why I don't recommend this blog to anyone. Rather, I only offer it. It's certainly here if people want to come in, but you're not going to get anything out of it if you think you can avoid the heat of the lower vertical. People who try to develop spiritually while ignoring the dark side are generally two things: 1) annoying and 2) shallow. And often dangerous, because they only project into others what they deny in themselves.

Anyway, just when Dante is wondering whether this is such a great idea, in pops Virgil, who lets him know that "he has been sent to help him by Beatrice, acting as an emissary of Divine Grace" (Upton), thus bolstering his flagging courage.

"Eh paisano, don't sneak up on'a me like'a that!"

By now we all know about the various nonlocal operators who are standing by, ready to assist you. Virgil is just such an operator. Did Dante attract Virgil, or vice versa?

I mention this because this phenomenon clearly operates within a field of attraction, fundamentally no different than the way attraction operates, say, in the field of terrestrial love. When it all works out, the loving couple exist within in a pregnant space of attractor-to-attractor. It is a very specific feeling to be in this vibrant space, where the two attractors become one.

As I mentioned on page the 224th, it is only because we have this "divine attractor" within that we are drawn to God, and vice versa: "Being that we are made in the image of O, perhaps it is no surprise that we have our own 'magnetic center,' that is, an internal faculty that draws us like a magnet toward inner truth." While this can "take the form of uncanny synchronicities and meetings with mysterious helpers at just the right time," it can also "produce major tensions and upheavals in the soul" (Smoley) -- we refer to these as birthquakes -- most especially when its higher needs are not acknowledged.

I don't know how to reproduce the symbol, but an operator such as Virgil is an example of what I mean on p. 228, with the ↑ inside O. According to me, such individuals "have ascended the ladder of consciousness from our side of manifestation, and can therefore show the hidden passageway that leads out." Such fleshlights are qualified to teach, because they are "instructed by O," so to speak. They are Men of Achievement, quite the opposite of a tenured ass bearing a load of books.

I like how Franklin Merrill-Wolff describes it: the presence of such an individual tends to "produce a condition such that the latent and indigenous Inner Light of the individual is aroused sympathetically into pulsation and thus, ultimately, 'catches on,' as it were, for Itself."

The whole point of this verticalisthenic is to experience a shift in one's consciousness, so that one inhabits a new "center of gravity," so to speak. Please bear in mind that this is not remotely abstract, but rather, a straightforward and literal description of something that should be very experience-near. This shift is critical. It is what the words "repent" and "metanoia" are referring to. The Raccoon calls it the center of levity, which is the true source of divine comedy.

In the final analysis, Virgil actually represents a projection of Dante's own deeper self. He is attracted to the projection because it is his own unborn self, which can only be accessed via encounter with an external model.

Please note that this is no different than in any other human endeavor. I know that for me, my life can be seen as the gradual actualization of traits and capacities that I first encountered in others.

Assuming that this attraction is rooted in love and truth -- as opposed to the many dark currents that can crapsize our boat, such as narcissism or a lust for power -- then the field will be "fruitful" and result in the assimilation of the exterior ideal. We will become what we love. So be careful!

Note that this is precisely what animates Dante's relationship to Virgil: May my long faithful study of your book / And my great love for it, avail me now! / You are my master, and my very author: / It is from you alone that I have taken / The lofty style for which men honor me.

Note also the words of Lucia to Beatrice: O Beatrice, true praise of God, / Why not assist this man whose love for you / Is such that he has left the vulgar throng?

As we have discussed many times, man inhabits the "middle world" between the upper and lower vertical. Indeed, he is like an arrow that passes through, and partakes of, every level, from the highest to the lowest.

This is what it means to be a micro-cosmos, or a local branch of the central treasury. If this were not the case, then knowledge of the cosmos would be impossible. But because of our verticality, we can obtain genuine knowledge of every layer of the existentialada, from physics to biology to psychology and on to metaphysics and theology.

Obviously, the Inferno is a representation of the lower vertical, which has a number of distinct sub-levels, as we shall see. In a more general sense, as Upton says, "entry into the Inferno reverberates with the quality of the Fall of Man, which was [I would say is] a descent from a higher form of corporeality into a more animal-like condition."

Now, as we have been discussing in recent posts, spiritual progress is characterized by space, freedom, time dilation, and slack retrieval in general. Not surprisingly, the descent into hell is the opposite, a kind of "contraction" (Upton). Instead of time dilation, we are squeezed by and for time. There is nothing to do, and never enough time to do it. Have you ever suffered depression? Then you know what it means when it takes all day to get nothing done.

More hideously, there are humanoids who require a whole life to accomplish nothing. In fact, this will inevitably happen if one doesn't turn around. Or, to put it another way, if you don't change directions, you're liable to end up where you're headed.

So, "If we give ourselves completely to manifestation, we are giving our souls up to the river that leads to Hell" (Upton). Like all worldly rivers, this one flows downhill.

But there is a celestial river on which we may float upstream. In order to find the river, we must first notice the little nonlocal springs that dot the landscape. This can occur, for example, when celestial beauty radiates through phenomena, in what Schuon called the "metaphysical transparency" of the world.

For Upton, these "noble signs... are there to lead counter to the direction of the manifestation itself, and ultimately carry us back to our Source in the Unmanifest."

Note the watery language: "Are you then Virgil -- that great fountainhead / Whence such a flood of eloquence has flowed?"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Middle Age Crazy

As we know, the Divine Comedy begins with a hint of what it's all about, which is to say, the Mother of all mid-life crises: Midway upon the journey of our life....


We think of the "mid-life crisis" occurring in middle age. When I was a lad, the tripping point was around 40, but nowadays it seems to be more like 50, or perhaps even later. This is not necessarily a positive development, for it only means that we can put off the crisis a little longer by nurturing the illusions that maintain us and confer a bogus meaning upon our lives.

But make no mistake: any meaning short of God is no meaning at all. It's either God or nothing, Yahweh or the low-way, O or Ø. PZ Myers may be sociopathic (Taranto also comments on his moral depravity here), but at least he's intellectually honest enough to acknowledge that for the atheist, a baby can be no more intrinsically valuable than a burger. (My site meter indicates the presence of PZ readers, based upon the allegation that I wish to attract his attention. Do not flatter yourselves, children. Nothing does not attract us, although many nothings are strangely attracted to this blog for reasons only they don't understand.)

The good news is that if there is true meaning -- AKA Truth -- then there is God.

Now, life is not a mathematical equation. Rather, it is a mythsemantical journey, so one cannot actually assign a number to "mid-life."

Rather, as I believe I once heard Donald Fagen say, life itself is a continual crisis. Every stage of life is a mid-life crisis. For example, my son is having a mid-life crisis between the oedipal and latency stages of development. And it's no less intense than it is for some pathetic One Cosmos troll and obsessive stalker who wakes up and realizes he's a crock roach.

How do we know Dante is in crisis? Because he tells us so in the second line: I found myself within a forest dark. For us, the forest is a place of primal beauty, of slackful relaxation, of peaceful nature unsullied by civilization.

But for premodern man, the forest was a place of great danger. It marked the edge of safety, beyond which you were taking your life into your own hands. To venture in alone would be almost suicidal.

Hey Don, don't forget the hot dogs and beer!

Even outside the forest, the darkness of the premodern world was unimaginable for us. But inside the forest it was even darker. At night, you wouldn't have been able to see your hand in front of your face. There is an evolutionary reason why children are afraid of the dark, because darkness is where the monsters literally dwelt. You wouldn't even know what ate you. Thus the old adage, he who hesitates is lunch.

The little clearing of civilization is where things are illuminated. But this area of light is a hard-won prize, surrounded by darkness. No wonder people cling to their stupid cultures, since they are preferable to living in the dark.

In other words, whatever else a culture is, it is a collective defense against the dark. Never ask why people believe such idiotic things. Just remember the danger of the surrounding forest.

In this regard, it is analogous to the ego, which serves the same purpose on an individual basis. In treating patients, one of the first things Freud noticed is that you cannot simply confront them about their irrational beliefs. Reason is impotent, because the irrational belief is a defense against the dark. Just like culture, the ego, whatever else it is, is a little area of light surrounded by darkness. Freud called the darkness the "unconscious," but this is very misleading.

A better term would simply be consciousness, which is to the ego as the cosmos is to a planet. It is "relatively infinite," while the ego is the attempt to reduce infinity to some manageable chunk. It is not actually possible to do this, the reason being that the contained can never contain the container. But people never stop trying. Only when it reaches the point of absurdity do we call it "pathological."

For example, the compulsive personality reduces reality down to, say, a struggle with germs. He becomes preoccupied with cleanliness, washing his hands repeatedly, disinfecting everything, taking multiple showers a day. In this case, reality has become a kind of narrow beam of light, beyond which is the dangerous forest full of microscopic monsters.

But all ideologies -- and I mean all of them -- are just the same process writ large. Again: God or nothing. Everything "outside" God is just a nasty case of OCD.

It is the same with paranoia. The paranoid personality attempts to manage the forest by projecting it outside the self, into others.

I don't want to jump too far ahead, but the forest Dante is talking about is obviously the interior/unconscious one. To rip a vivid example from the headlines, liberals routinely manage their rage by projecting it into conservatives, as they did in the case of the Arizona mass murderer. They fear what they hate, because the projected hatred returns to them on the rebound. It's all an intrapsychic process, reinforced and leant legitimacy by the collective nature of the neurosis. Just as in the case of a primitive culture, there is safety in numbers.

I don't want to get sidetracked, but Taranto has been doing a great job exposing the absurdity of it all. Most people mark it down to hypocrisy, but it's much worse than that, since many leftists actually believe what they're saying. When we say that a defense mechanism is unconscious, we mean unconscious. It has to be unconscious, because these people obviously aren't stupid, and it requires no intelligence to see that the charges are not true.

Third line: For the straightforward pathway has been lost. Why is that? Because, as we have discussed many times, the realm of the unconscious (and supraconscious) is not governed by linear, aristotelian logic.

Rather, it is the world of symmetrical logic, as described by Ignacio Matte Blanco, so to plunge into the unconscious is to give oneself over to a world with very different rules. In the unconscious, linear math is of no assistance. For example, in this world it is completely unproblematic that One should equal Three, and vice versa.

Because the unconscious is always in us -- or, to be precise, we are in it -- a deadly crisis is always just around the coroner. As Upton explains, "This is the point where outward manifestation has reached its limit, after which a person must either ascend spiritually or be content to live within the progressive deterioration of the form of his life."

In other words, life is either ascending or descending, for the same reason that there is either God or nothing. Absent the ascent, then gravity and entropy take over.

But we cannot properly ascend with our little ego, which again, is just a defense against the dark. Rather, we must first colonize the darkness. We must redeem our own personal hell, so to speak, in order to be fit for the greater Light. The great balls of purifying fire precede illumination.