Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shame and Contempt, Suicide and Genocide

In the second ring of the seventh circle is the Wood of the Suicides. As mentioned a couple of posts back, it is difficult for us to understand how violence against the self could be morally lower than violence toward others, so let's see if we can make sense of Dante's scheme.

Upton summarizes what is at issue by noting that "the ego did not create the soul and so the ego cannot destroy it; that is the problem with suicide." However, the ego also didn't create anyone else's soul, so this seems neither here nor there.

Dante and Virgil then come upon a fellow -- the particulars are unimportant -- "who killed himself because he couldn't endure the disgrace," and this gets closer to the heart of the matter, to what might be thought of as a lethal combination of shame and narcissism.

Upton elaborates: "Those who habitually scorn others have, in effect, built their whole lives upon scorn, which is why they can't stand being scorned; they have developed no other psychological or spiritual foundation."

As we all know, there are shame cultures and guilt cultures, the former much more psycho-developmentally primitive than the latter. Most people fail to draw a distinction between shame and guilt, but shame is developmentally prior, and hence, more problematic if it becomes dysregulated due to early trauma (i.e., damage closer to the foundation causes more weakness to the structure).

The problem with shame cultures is not shame per se, but dysregulated shame. What results is a mass of people who actually cannot tolerate shame, and therefore build their culture around that fact. The culture becomes, in effect, a collective defense against shame.

As an aside, our Judeo-Christian culture is -- or should be -- a guilt culture, which is developmentally higher and more mature.

But what is shame that we should be so mindful of it? How can something that arises in three year olds become so deep, persistent, and painful, to the point that one would prefer suicide to enduring it? A psychotically shame-prone person -- or culture -- would prefer to annihilate the eyes that judge him than endure their gaze. If he can't destroy them, then he'll destroy the self (but note that the gazing and judgmental eyes are just a projection of the shame-prone self).

All of this was brought home to me quite vividly in Max Hastings' Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45. Because of the fascination with Hitler, Japan's enormities tend to be given less prominence, but on the scale of evil, they were every bit his equal.

But what could these very different cultures possibly share in common? Racism? Imperialism? Militarism? Yes, but each of these was in service to something much deeper: racial and cultural superiority, on the one hand, and its underground twin, intense shame. The superiority and shame are just two sides of the same narcissistic coin. Thus, it is no surprise at all that thousands of Japanese and Germans committed suicide in the wake of their loss of World War II. The shame was just unendurable.

One of the reasons why shame is deeper and more problematic than guilt, is that the former has to do with being rather than just action. Guilt pertains to merely doing wrong, but shame applies to existence itself -- to being wrong (or rather, wrong being). It is "existential," which is why so many Germans and Japanese simply could not endure the pain of a world in which they were not only conquered, but ruled, by their contemptible "inferiors."

The examples in both Armageddon and Retribution are far too numerous to catalogue, but one of the things -- perhaps the only thing -- that made Japan such a formidable enemy was their absolute lack of concern for the lives of their soldiers. Obviously, American GIs wanted to survive the war and go on with their lives, but this placed a sharp limit on what they were willing to do in order to achieve victory.

The Japanese had no such limits, except in scattered individual cases. For them, it was literally a suicidal war, and they knew it. However, they believed in their hearts that they could so impress and cow the allies with their suicidal displays of psychotic violence, that we would eventually back down. "Many shared a delusion that human sacrifice... could compensate for a huge shortfall in military capability" (Hastings). The commander in charge of kamikaze operations said that "If we are prepared to sacrifice twenty million Japanese lives in 'special attacks,' victory will be ours."

Well, yeah. In reality, *only* 4,000 kamikaze pilots are known to have died, about one in seven successfully inflicting major damage to an allied ship (Hastings).

In this regard, the Japanese were exactly like the Islamists, whose only advantage is their belief that they love death more than we love life. A corollary to this is that -- to paraphrase Golda Meir -- there will be peace in the Middle East when Arabs love their own children as much as they hate Jewish children.

Here again, the parallels with Germany and Japan are exact. For example, so unconcerned were the Japanese with individual survival, that they they didn't furnish life rafts on their ships (furthermore, if soldiers knew they could survive, they might not fight to the death). To be taken prisoner was completely unacceptable, again, an unendurable shame. It was assumed that fighting to the death and then going down with the ship was preferable to living with the shame of being taken prisoner.

Likewise, while Americans would go to great lengths to try to rescue downed pilots from the sea, the Japanese usually left theirs to perish, despite the high cost of training skilled fliers. And of course, this also explains their savage treatment of allied prisoners, whom they regarded as subhuman in their willingness to prefer captivity over death.

One of innumerable examples: "Thousands of Japanese civilians in Saipan chose to kill themselves, most by leaping from seashore cliffs, rather than submit to the American conquerors" (Hastings).

Japanese soldiers were routinely placed in situations in which death wasn't only probable or likely, but absolutely certain. We all know about the thousands of kamikazes, but the ground soldiers were just as bad. They knew full well that they could not prevail in places like Iwo Jima, and yet, they fought on to the last man (or last suicide).

Before the battle, soldiers were explicitly told that they should regard their foxhole as their grave, which they were to defend from the Americans who wish to desecrate it. Military handbooks warned that "The man who would not disgrace himself must be strong.... Do not survive in shame as a prisoner. Die, to ensure that you do not leave ignominy behind you!"

I might add that Stalin treated his own POWs the same way. Russian soldiers who had been taken prisoner by the Germans were not only given no sympathy, but imprisoned in the Soviet Union long after the war ended.

It is amazing to think that one of the cards Stalin played at Yalta was the disproportionate number of Soviet soldiers killed in the war. But the only reason so many Soviet soldiers died is because Stalin couldn't have cared less how many Soviet soldiers were killed. As with the Japanese, they were routinely placed in situations in which death was a certainty. And anyone who resisted was shot or hanged on the spot. (The Japanese preferred the bayonet.)

The magnitude of the catastrophe resulting from Japan's dysregulated shame is beyond conception. By 1944 it was clear that they could not win the war, and yet, they fought on: "In the last phase, around two million Japanese people paid the price for their rulers' blindness, a sacrifice which availed their country nothing" (Hastings).

Because of the inability to tolerate shame, certain thoughts were literally unthinkable for the Japanese. Due to primitive defense mechanisms, their minds "couldn't go there."

As Hastings explains, "such habits of culture and convention represented a barrier to effective decision-making, which grew even harder to overcome as the war situation deteriorated." In such a psychotic atmosphere, unwelcome news is simply denied. It cannot be. "No one was allowed to say what he really thought," so it was impossible to "explore better ways to do things."

The Japanese also engaged in systematic rape of those they conquered, which in addition to everything else, involves a kind of psychic transmission of shame to the victim. This reflected the low status of women in Japan, which is again an artifact of shame. Anyone who is prone to shame is going to need others to devalue, and into whom they can project their own inferiority.

Hastings notes that "many Japanese soldiers took pride in sending home to their families photographs of beheadings and bayonetings." In the diary of one dead soldier, he "wrote of his love for his family, eulogised the beauty of a sunset -- then described how he participated in the massacre of Filipinos during which he clubbed a baby against a tree." As Hastings, observes, these types of incidents weren't just aberrations but the reflection of "an ethic of massacre."

So I think we can see the problems that arise when suicide becomes a collective virtue.

Immobilized by shame, paralyzed by suicide.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bullheads and Horse's Asses

Speaking of which, just a short post for Presidents' Day, the stupidest holiday of them all, on which we pretend that Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama share something in common with George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan. In short, it is a day of historical leveling, of belittling greatness and celebrating mediocrity.

Within the seventh circle -- which houses the violent -- there are different levels, or "rings," corresponding to the degree of seriousness. You might say there is first, second, and third degree violence, against man, self, and God.

All of the violent "have fallen under the power of gravity" (Upton). As we have discussed in the past, man lives between two vertical attractors, one above and one below. The Law of Gravity is complemented by the Law of Levity, and our free will determines whether we float upstream or swim downstream with the terrestrial and eventually subterranean tide.

There is blood at both ends of this stream. If the redemptive blood of the Savior is at the top, then the immorally violent "are immersed in Phlegethon, the river of boiling blood." One might say they are perpetually burned in the blood they have shed -- the innocent blood which cries out from the earth.

To express violent anger is liberating, but in a false manner. It "may feel like a kind of expansion, but it ends by turning us to stone" (ibid.). Children raised by violent parents have a way of turning themselves to stone. They literally shut down sympathetic responses and brain reactions, and "play possum," so to speak, on an interior level. They are able to pre-emptively endeaden themselves in the face of stress or danger.

I see this all the time in adults raised by violent and uncaring parents. Ask them about it and they either "zone out" or confabulate a stream of disjointed gibberish.

Of note, this can even occur in children who are brutally shamed, for dysregulated shame is a kind of internalized attack on the self. Experience of the wider reality grinds to a halt amidst a cascade of neurobiological processes and even postural changes, e.g., slumping, as if one could hide one's head in one's shoulders.

And blushing -- one of the biological markers of shame -- may be thought of as a kind of blood that boils to the surface.

At the deeper levels of the unconscious mind, the separation between psyche and soma become blurred.

Note that for Dante, the violent are ruled and guarded by the Minotaur and centaurs, respectively, who are half animal and half-human, i.e., part psyche and part soma. Both are sub-human, but in differing ways. Furthermore, as Upton notes, each is a kind of mockery or "demonic parody of the Incarnation."

Recall that the centaur has a horse's body with a human head, whereas the Minotaur is a human body with the head of a bull:

For the Minotaur, anger completely dominates the pneumacognitive faculties, whereas the centaurs at least have some degree of human control. But the centaur's faculties are ultimately enslaved "from below, from the unconscious" (Upton). While they may "have good native intelligence," they "are in bondage to their passions" (ibid.), which drag down and limit the intelligence.

The distinction between centaur and Minotaur marks the transition from the merely luciferic -- in which darkness constantly interferes with the Light -- to the truly demonic, in which Darkness rules.

The latter types are truly frightening, since they are literally mammalian or even reptilian. The Minotaur is "the evil genius within the soul whose conscious thoughts are demonic." These are the the souls who conceive "of evil systems, both philosophical and social" (Upton), not to mention political and economic.

One of the central goals of psychoanalytic therapy is to "make the unconscious conscious," so that one may gain insight into the infra-human centaur, so to speak. The Minotaur also makes the unconscious conscious, but in a perverse way.

Actually, the Minotaur renders the conscious unconscious, by legitimizing our most barbaric tendencies, often by calling them "natural" -- as if savage nature is anything for humans to emulate!

For It is above all against what the mob proclaims to be “natural” that the noble soul rebels. And When a revolution breaks out, the appetites are placed at the service of ideals [the centaur]; when the revolution triumphs, ideals are placed at the service of the appetites [the Minotaur] (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

Note that the denizens of Hell "are there for 'pleasure' in the sense that in life they were attracted to the evils that now torment them" (Upton).

Here we are reminded of another A. by D.C, Hell is the place where man finds all his plans realized. For the Minotaur, the "head" is no longer an image of God, but an image of animality triumphant.

And to live as an animal is to abrogate one's freedom and submit to bondage, whether to impulses, genes, instincts, natural selection, dialectical materialism, "corporations," it matters not.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Violence and Fraud Against Man and God

Moving on to Canto XI, we can tell by the nauseating stench that we are now well into the lower and more interior circles, i.e., closer to Hell Central. Dante's scheme is at times a bit counter-intuitive and will require some reflection.

Virgil explains that circles seven and eight are for violence and fraud, respectively. This in itself is a bit surprising, but the worst violence is always rooted in the Lie, so it is appropriate that fraud -- the more "interior" of the two -- be the deeper offense.

Virgil also properly notes that violence itself is not the problem. Rather, it becomes evil when the end is wrong, a truth which liberals routinely betray, for it is simply a truism that the end often justifies the means. For example, our violence against Islamic terrorists is completely justified, whereas their violence against us is completely unjustified.

This is the source of much of the left's perennial moral confusion and corruption -- for example, comparing our liberation of Iraq to a tyrannical occupation, or Gitmo to a gulag, or capital punishment to murder, or Israeli defense to Islamic savagery. Ironically, this fraudulent characterization of moral violence only plunges the left more deeply into hell, for fraud displeases God the more.

I might add that the left's fraudulent attempt to blame conservatives for the violence in Tucson is, in Dante's scheme, even more morally repulsive than the violence itself. Note also how deeply rooted is this sin. The New York Times simply cannot stop its compulsive fraudulence. The Lie is no longer an exterior action but an interior trait.

If this still seems counter-intuitive, I am reminded of a Talmudic law to the effect that the person who falsely (and knowingly) accuses another of a crime should be subject to the same penalty as the accused would have been had he actually been guilty.

Thus, for example, a Johnnie Cochran would be eligible for the death penalty for falsely accusing Los Angeles police officers of a capital crime in framing O.J. Simpson for murder.

This makes sense, for if the entire judicial system were ever to be completely infested with people as morally corrupt as Johnnie Cochran, no earthly justice would be possible, so the rule of law would be replaced by the law of the jungle. In the end, there would be much more immoral violence.

Think of how rapidly the world would be cleaned up if the fraudulent were aware of the moral danger they place themselves in! We'd immediately see the rats scatter from the UN building like people from a sinking ship.

Upton notes that immoral violence involves a perversion of will, while fraud involves a perversion of intellect, so again, the latter is deeper and more interior.

A more subtle point is that violence is "a parody of Divine Absoluteness," fraud a parody of "the Divine Infinity." Upton doesn't elaborate, but I believe she means that immoral violence is a parody of absolute justice, while fraud is a parody of infinite or eternal truth.

Later she notes that fraud -- which is predicated on the Lie -- is "an attempt by man, created in God's image, to claim for himself divine creative power," as if "one had the power to create truth... 'out of nothing.'" Thus, it is a kind of satanic creativity, which must always be parasitic on the real thing (i.e., the lie requires Truth, but not vice versa).

Have you ever known a compulsive liar, or even just an annoying "topper"? Psychologically, these people usually harbor a pathological narcissism that causes them to believe they can omnipotently manipulate reality by inducing people to believe the lie. Certainly our Narcissist in Chief is overqualified for residence in circle eight.

Note that the less serious sins only "degrade the divinity in man, but do not deny it," whereas the really bad ones "directly deny the Divine/Human center, and this is the essence of injustice" (ibid.).

Analogously -- and this is another counter-intuitive point -- Dante feels that violence against oneself is actually worse than violence toward others, since it is more "inward" and "therefore closer to an attack upon God."

Here again, I find a psychoanalytic parallel that might help illustrate this. I've had occasion to think about this recently in reading two books about the last horrific year of World War II, Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, and Retribution: The Battle for Japan. The level and extent of savage barbarism inflicted by the German, Japanese, and Soviet armies is quite literally beyond one's ability to comprehend, much less assimilate. Just as today, vis-a-vis the Islamists, our worst conceivable aberrations aren't nearly as repulsive as their norms.

But how did they get this way? How do people become such monsters? Again, the only way is for violence to have become so interiorized that exteriorizing it becomes "natural."

Some psychoanalysts feel that the most primitive fear is that of annihilation. Therefore, the most primitive defense mechanisms would involve defenses against annihilation, often by violent lashing out.

In fact, if you want to unleash the most primitive violence in people, just tell them they are under threat of genocide. This has been the method of the Palestinians, but virtually all totalitarian states tell their subjects they are under siege by outside forces in order to justify their own tyranny.

In America, the left perpetuates a similar lie in telling blacks that conservatives are racist, which in turn justifies left-wing violence. More generally, since the best way to know what a liberal is up to is to pay attention to what they accuse conservatives of, they will have much to answer for in the Court of Cosmic Justice.

To review, the three levels of violence, in order of seriousness, are against man, against oneself, and against God. For to deny God is to deny the very ground and basis of all that is good, or true, or beautiful, or moral, or just.

If this is difficult to comprehend, just look at the psychotic levels of sadism attained by the most systematically godless regimes, e.g., Nazi Germany, the USSR, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jung Il, et al.

Falsifying the past is how the left has sought to elaborate the future. --Aphorisms of Don Colacho

Left wing journalism is the first rough draft of rewritten history. --Laphorisms of Don Pietro

Dante and Virgil discover Paul Krugman hiding under his big desk in the eighth circle of hell.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

From History to Cosmos and From IT IS to I AM

A few more thoughts about Canto X before moving on to XI. Recall that "To see humanity as only earthly is to deny the human state" (Upton). In Hell, this denial manifests as the inability to see -- or be in -- the present moment. Or, let's just say BE, fool stop!

Again, as mentioned in yesterday's post, there are two "presents," one animal and one human (and therefore divine; or, if one prefers, vertically higher). "In life" the neo-barbaric Epicurean limits himself to the former, "to the empirical [animal-sensory] present, the present simply 'as is'"; he is therefore "denied the Eternal Present" (ibid.). As a result, in being denied the present, he lives only in the past and future, which are not real.

Now, what are the past and future from the human perspective, as opposed to their mere quantitative meaning? One could say hope and regret, or worry and nostalgia, or contrition and resolve.

I suppose one could even sum up the future as "anxiety" and the past as "depression." For if we are not anxious about what the future might bring, we're not really alive. And if we don't feel the absolute unrecoverability of past -- and of how things might have been -- we didn't really live it.

However, there is a way out -- or up, or in -- and that is the present in its divine-human mode. Really, it is our only sanctuary from the anxieties of the future and the loss of the past. And it is precisely this that the hellbound Epicurean is denied.

Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

For the Epicurean, this is inverted: be extremely anxious, even panicky, about the future, in the hope of escaping the evils of the present.

Nor can these souls "let the dead bury the dead," or put their hands to the plough without looking back (Luke 9:62).

There is a reason why Only the unexpected fully satisfies (Don Colacho). The unexpected delights because it escapes our attempts at control, which only end up strangling the present.

There is actually an analogue of all this in psychoanalytic developmental theory, something we have discussed in the past. I can't get into all the details, but one of Melanie Klein's most important contributions was the distinction between what she called the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions. To achieve the depressive position is to have attained a degree of maturation, integration, and continuity of being that extends both spatially and temporally.

Another very bright fellow, Thomas Ogden, says that a better name for the depressive position would be the historical position, because of its profound effect on one's perception and appreciation of time.

First of all, note the similarity between the paranoid-schizoid position and the inability to transcend the empirical moment: in it, "sensory experience is unmediated by an interpreting subject," so that events simply "are what they are."

This state of being is analogous to a plane with "two faces and two faces only." The person is in one state or the other, with no higher vantage point "from which more than one emotional plane can be taken in."

For the person in this stage of development -- and this is critical -- their current state of being determines their "truth." "History is instantaneously rewritten" for the purpose of "maintaining discontinuities of loving and hating aspects of self and object." Here, truth is in the service of emotion.

If you have ever had a borderline person in your life -- and most of us have -- then you know how this works: "the present is projected backward and forward, thus creating a static, eternal, nonreflective present." You are drawn into the momentary primitive emotional storm of the borderline person, who dismantles time and history. It is simply impossible to argue with an un- or dis-integrated person, because they constantly throw out arguments from different planes, aggressively unaware of their contradictions.

If you're having difficulty picturing the process, then I suppose you didn't attend college, or else have a small family. Just imagine living with Keith Olbermann or Ed Schultz. In addition to the shear unpleasantness, one would be unable to escape from their psychotic attacks on time and history.

According to Ogden, the depressive position coincides with the true "birth of the historical subject." Note that the shift is not analogous to any linear process -- say, "piecing together a jigsaw puzzle" -- but is more like the sudden emergence of the three-dimensional image in those Magic Eye pictures.

Or, in the words of Don Colacho, Doubts do not fade one by one: they disappear in a flash of light.

Recall the image of a plane with two sides only; there is no "space" for the sense of I-ness to emerge, a stable mediator between experience and thought. Nor is this person aware of the other planes, for if he were, this would imply the third dimension from which they are declensions.

Thus, "in the depressive position," the person "no longer has access to the kind of Orwellian rewriting of history that is possible in the paranoid-schizoid position."

This is why progressive beliefs that absolutely shock our conscience don't do the same for them. Since the progressive has already preemptively rewritten history with himself as hero, he is able to slip through the nets of logic and evidence. He has a kind of freedom the mature person lacks, but this is a meaningless freedom; really, it is the illusion thereof, just as burying one's head in one's ass provides the illusion of tenure.

Now, back to Canto X. Note that the Epicureans are "ruled by Proserpine, Goddess of the Moon, queen of the underworld," which is another name for the nightworld of the unconscious.

In contrast to her is Beatrice, who symbolizes -- now, wait for it -- a "wisdom" and "wholeness of perception" that is specifically opposed to the "partial perception" symbolized by the loony moonbat goddess.

Another point: the depressive position is not only the historical position, but the threshold of the "transcendent position," which might be thought of as the "space of wisdom" (Bob) which "reveals the whole form and meaning of one's life sub specie aeternitatis" (Upton).

Thus, one might also call it the "meta-historical" or Cosmic Position. It is where one transcends the deuce in order be-a-trice.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An Ass Always Gets What He Brays For

In Canto X, among the heretics who possess and overvalue "fragments of the truth," we "encounter the tombs of the Epicureans," a thoroughly bourgeois, pharochial, and conformist philosophy that might appear daring or avant-garde to the spiritually opaque, but which is "inherently complacent." For in reality "it is a narrow vision of things pursued in the name of safety and security" (Upton).

Epicureanism, like most any other brand-name philosophy from materialism on up, surely possesses a "fragment of truth." Indeed, this is what makes philosophy -- and intelligence -- so dangerous. Intelligence + pride = disaster. See Genesis 3 for details.

Great stupidities do not come from the people. First, they have seduced intelligent men. --Don Colacho

Speaking of which, yesterday I had a pleasant conversation with a very cultured man who describes himself as an "absolute materialist." I informed him that if his metaphysic were true, he couldn't possibly know it.

It wouldn't be quite accurate to say that he failed to understand, for the space where "he" should be has been colonized by an anti-human philosophy that has possession of his soul. His intelligence has turned upon itself like a scorpion, which happens much more often than people realize.

For if the purpose of language is to conceal thought, the purpose of secular philosophy is to conceal man from himself.

Who are these Epicureans of whom Dante speaks? They too are materialists who deny "the immortality of the soul" and "give up their lives to externals" (Upton). Which means that the Epicure is a symptom of the very disease that afflicts him.

Now, the soul is not just the interior of the cosmos, but interiority as such. Therefore, these are people who have not only turned the cosmos upside-down, but inside-out.

However, please note that the one inevitably follows the other: for to dwell at the bottom is to live in the exterior, while to cling to the exterior is to live at the bottom. All bottom-dwellers externalize the soul to the point of dissipation. And all dissipated souls live outside reality.

Just as Life employs the language of DNA to free biology from matter, language frees man from the prison of biology. Biology exists within one morphic space of possibility, mind in another. Language vaults us over the confining prison wall of the senses, and into the world of Imagination.

Upton concurs that "The life of the senses is a tomb. Thus the punishment endured by the Epicureans for their denial of the soul's immortality is to be forced to spend eternity as corpses."

In other words, Epicureans believe that the soul dies with the body. And they are correct. For the materialist doesn't believe what he sees, but sees what he believes.

In this circle of Hell, Virgil appropriately cautions Dante about the misuse of language: Here your words must be appropriate (or well-considered). This is for reasons alluded to above; as Upton explains, "Appropriate speech is a way of keeping one's distance from the damned."

This is difficult to do, because one must remain in one's spiritual center without being seduced or hypnotized by the speech (and emotionality) of the damned. It is especially difficult for half-formed children in college, the latter of which serves as the most important recruitment center and seminary for Tools of the Conspiracy.

Please note that the sophisticated yahoos and trousered barbarians of the left -- whose institutional stupidity is crystalized and enshrined in academia and the MSM -- are "the 'civilized damned,' whose sophisticated style can almost make a damned soul look attractive" (ibid.)

Think of all the damned souls who have attracted the left at one time or another: Castro, Stalin, Mao, et al. But every hero of the left has a little Stalin in him, for the totalitarian temptation is intrinsic to leftism.

As Upton explains, "To see humanity as only earthly is to deny the human state." And to deny the human state is to usher in the infra-human State to fill the vacuum.

Another subtle point: there are two "presents," one animal, one human (and therefore Divine). There is a merely "sensory" present, and then there is the present that is a prolongation of, and window to, Eternity. The materialist is fixated on the former, which prevents him from climbing on the inscape of the ladder.

Note that the leftist never understands the present, only a projected past and future. This is because, as any neurologist can tell you, the sensory present is already past; it is merely "the light from a dead star," to plagiaphrase Don Colacho. And let the dead bury the dead.

The Rule of Wholes: if you find yourself in a grave, stop digging.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Satanic Resurrection and Death Everlasting

In Canto IX, our friends make it through security to a rarely visited corner of hell, where they come face to face with the Dark Feminine. There they encounter three talon-nailed demons -- the shrieking furies who serve Medusa, the Queen of Never-Ending Lamentation who turns men to stone and men's stones to jello.

Yes my friends, you're watching The View!

Virgil has been on the program once before, and is not eager to repeat the experience. For if you should chance to behold the ghastly visage of that repulsive gorgon, Joy Behar, face-to-facelift, never again shall you return to your normal programming!

Life is a journey, a movement, an adventure. Where is the movement taking place? That depends upon the vertex. There is intellectual advance, moral progress, artistic development, spiritual attainment, etc. Ideally none should be separated from the others, but one of the baleful effects of postmodernity is to separate them, the result being that one ends up growing "nowhere."

It is analogous to, say, a man who is obsessed with building his biceps. Eventually his upper arms will balloon in size, until he resembles Popeye.

But this only results in an absence of harmony that renders the whole either monstrous or silly. I suppose when men do it it's just silly. But when women do it, it's monstrous -- you know, those female bodybuilders who have some kind of perverse, manmade aesthetic that is unrelated to the female archetype.

We should always feel as if our life is in movement. However, it is critical to bear in mind that the movement we are discussing is always supernatural; or, if you are one of those substitious types who denies the supernatural, just call it extra-natural.

It is extra-natural because it obviously exceeds nature. Even if you are a strict metaphysical Darwinist, you must concede that the genes only account for a ridiculously narrow range of behavior, i.e., physical survival and reproductive fitness. Everything outside this is extra-genetic: truth, beauty, virtue, music, literature, poetry, mystical experience, etc. Genes permit these things but in no way determine them. To pretend otherwise is to be a genuine imbecile.

Now, if one is not progressing, one is more than merely "stuck." Rather, one is in hell, precisely. If you have been there -- and we all have been -- then you know what it is like. Not only is there an absence of movement, but there is a loss of dimensionality. This is an important point, because a fully functioning human being possesses the capacity for integrated movement in hyperspace.

What I mean by this is that, just as length, width and depth combine to make three-dimensional space, intellect, aesthetics, and virtue -- the Good, True, and Beautiful -- combine to make the hyperdimensional space where human beings have their freedom of movement.

And just as we can abstract the concept of "width" from three-dimensional space, it is possible to, say, abstract mathematical quantity from hyperspace. But space is not the sum of three lower dimensions, any more than mind is a sum of physics and chemistry, for the whole is prior to the parts.

Danger only arises when we take the abstraction for reality -- which is precisely what the metaphysical Darwinian -- or any other scientistic believer -- does. Note that there is no way to logically reconcile the metaphysical Darwinian with the "metaphysical physicist," i.e., the physical reductionist.

This is because Life Itself is a higher dimensional reality from which any moron can abstract two seemingly irreconcilable principles, "biology" and "physics." We can never put these two back together from the bottom up, because they were never separate to begin with.

Again, it was just our abstraction that created the the duality. Add mind to the mix, and we're talking about a higher space that is far too rich to be modeled in any way analogous to physical space. But in the words of Don Colacho, The lower truths tend to eclipse the highest truths.

Now, just as being stuck is hell, Hell is being stuck, i.e., to "turn to stone." Upton writes that within these deeper circles of Hell "lies the center of despair, of the fear that no return [i.e., vertical movement] is possible."

One thing I always explain to depressed patients is that their depression has put them in a very different kind of space -- again, a space of fewer dimensions and of complete stasis.

Now, this stasis is also a kind of eternity, only the "bad eternity" of utter endlessness as opposed to timelessness. While movement is possible, all movement is arbitrary, since one has lost touch with the higher-dimensional archetypes and values that normally guide and attract us.

Sometimes it is difficult to appreciate the reality of these archetypes (and their graces) until one is depressed and no longer guided by them. Then one is like a ship at night on a flat and windless ocean.

Here our virtual adventurers encounter the heretics, those who have sinned against God and the Holy Spirit. Note that they are reunited with their bodies, in a perverse mockery of Resurrection. Rather than death and rebirth in a higher dimension, this is endless living on the lower dimension, which becomes a kind of endless death. They cannot die, death being the ultimate movement or transition. For all birth is a death, and vice versa. Life is a series of birthquakes and deathwakes.

Another important point is that love does not avail in a hell this deep. Rather, as Upton explains, one must again rely upon righteous anger as a kind of protection. One is reminded of the rabbinical axiom that those who are kind to the cruel will be cruel to the kind.

From a slightly different angle, Upton quotes Nietzsche, who wrote that If you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you. Indeed, "One of the greatest dangers of the lower psychic forces to a spiritual traveler is that under their influence he may become fascinated and transfixed by the Outer Darkness, the power that leads one always further into the externals of things, where the soul must die" (Upton).

The satanic resurrection, AKA tenure in the Monoversity of Hell:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Righteous and Self-Righteous Vomiting

The River Styx -- actually, it's more of a filthy marsh or pestilent swamp -- flows between the fifth and sixth circles of hell, where the more serious offenders are housed. Here our vertical adventurers come upon a huge tower with two flaming torches at the summit; off in the distance there is another faint light that somehow "answers back."

Upton calls this an "infernal watchtower" which represents "an inverted sense of spiritual guidance." This brings to mind the last thing Jesus says to the disciples before his betrayal: watch and pray.

In order to pray, we enter the "interior watchtower." In the words of Theophan the Recluse, "we must enter the inner room or 'closet.' Where is this room? It is our heart. How then can we learn to pray there? If we go there, as well as we are able, God will help us."

This interior watchtower is also the "magnetic center" of which we have posted in the past. It is the space which both "attracts God" and where God draws us toward him. Put simply, it is the space of (↓↑); (¶) is the "attractor" that grows as a result of this spiritual metabolism.

Now, in order to understand these deeper dimensions of hell, we need only invert the above description. I mean, if Dante and I are on the same page. Let's find out.

In the next scene in Canto VIII, an obnoxious boatman ferries Dante and Virgil across the Styx. He proceeds to engage in a little trash talk, mocking them for bringing such a weak game into his house. In this regard, Upton notes that "the very demons who draw souls into Hell scorn them for being there," just like Larry Bird in Boston Garden.

When Dante stays within his spiritual citidel (¶) and refuses to "take the bait," the boatman is enraged. He "feels a sense of personal insult when he discovers that Dante is not damned" like he is (ibid).

This, by the way, is why we do not respond to trolls except by way of targeted ridicure, piercing laphorisms, and jehovial witticisms. Please note that if you do choose to react, you will soon find yourself at their level. This is how it must be, for they are obviously not going to come up to yours.

Once again we are reminded of another excellent aphorism of uber-Raccoon Don Colacho: Whoever insists on refuting idiotic arguments ends up doing so with stupid reasons. Or, to paraphrase someone else, it is much more difficult to argue with a weak mind than a strong one. For remember, it is always Yahweh or the low way.

Indeed, Virgil turns the tables on the bitter and resentful demon and engages in a little trash talking of his own. He gives the boatman a shove and says, Away there, with the other dogs! For In life, this flaming ferryman was both arrogant and cruel; / No good repute adorns his memory; / Hence is his shade so furious here below. Many souls in the same boat "stalked the earth as kings," only to find themselves wallowing in the filth and mire.

Here I am reminded of the neo-Kleinian cartograpy of unconscious and perversely narcissistic hells (looks like an interesting article, BTW):

"The destructive narcissism of these patients appears often highly organized, as if one were dealing with a powerful gang [read: mind parasites] dominated by a leader, who controls all the members of the gang to see that they support one another in making the criminal destructive work more effective and powerful. However, the narcissistic organization not only increases the strength of the destructive narcissism, but it has a defensive purpose to keep itself in power and so maintain the status quo."

Upton raises a critical point: what is the difference between the boatman's mockery of Dante, and Dante's mockery of the boatman? "Dante's anger is not essentially demonic because it liberates his soul from the Hell he is passing through." It is the difference between righteous and self-righteous anger, the latter of which is motivated by pride. But some anger clearly praises God in its expression.

Schuon had many useful things to say about this distinction, which places you on the long or short end of the Styx. For example,

"Holy anger is a movement of concentration and not a going outside oneself; it is like an 'incarnation' of the divine Wrath in the human microcosm, which must at that moment be free from passionate anger. The inner criterion of holy anger is precisely calmness, whereas passionate anger carries away the entire being and brings forgetfulness of God; it has no centre, that is to say it is entirely peripheral and dissipated. Holy anger exists only by virtue of a motionless centre, an implacable truth which determines it; when driving the money-changers from the Temple, Christ was impassible."

Therefore, anger can be liberating, so long as one is angry at the right things and in the right measure. Note that liberals are generally angry at the wrong things, for the simple reason that they blame "society" or "corporations" or "people of colorlessness" for their loserhood. You might say that the left runs on sheer loser power, which is -- to say the least -- a farce to be reckoned with. To pretend it is not a real power in this world is to fail to understand the ubiquitous and perennial appeal of the seductive doctrine of the Adversary.

Another key point: righteous anger is objective, in that it is a completely appropriate and proportionate response (not reaction) to its occasion. It reminds us of something Don Colacho said about moral indignation -- that it is not truly sincere unless it literally ends in vomiting.

In this case, vomiting provides objective information about a spiritual situation. I mean, if some politicians don't make you sick to your stomach, there is something wrong with your digestion. For Who said it: because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit thee from my mouth.

Whew, this river stynx!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rage Machines Raging Against the Machine

Dante's fourth circle of hell is reserved for the greedy -- discussed yesterday -- but also the wrathful and sullen. What is the common demonimator holding these three seemingly disparate sins -- I would prefer at this exploratory juncture to use the less saturated "states of being" -- together?

No idea, but we'll keep the question in mind as we proceed.

To begin with, it seems that in each case, the sense of proportion and perspective has been lost. With regard to the greedy, Dante has Virgil say that each one of them / Was so asquint, he could not see to spend / With any sort of measure or restraint. (By "asquint" he means "squint-eyed," or looking at the world through a microscope of greed instead of the teloscope of faith and magnanimity.)

The greedy have lost faith in Providence, and in effect, try to become God by exerting absolute control over Fortune. As Upton explains, both the miser and the spendthrift behave as if Dame Fortune has been -- or could be -- conquered.

Luck let a gentleman see / How nice a dame you can be / I've seen the way you've treated other guys you've been with / Luck be a lady with me.

But as the great tragedians teach us, no one is brought so low as the high and mighty who again imagine they have cheated the Law. Just when you have everything under control, the Muslim Brotherhood is asking for your head on a platter, or that shadow on the x-ray turns out to be an inoperable tumor, or your financial advisor is running a Ponzi scheme. Hey, A lady doesn't leave her escort / It isn't fair, and it's not nice!

This has an important economic dimension, because only in a free market economy does luck become a factor woven into the very system. In any socialist command economy, elites attempt to control fortune by exerting top-down authority. And as we all know, this only results in less wealth and fortune for everyone. "To cry out against Fortune while demanding Justice is a contradiction" (Upton), because it ends up eliminating both.

In order for the free market system to work, it is critical that we do not envy those upon whom Fortune has smiled or whose bones she blows -- unlike the controlling brute who who insists that A lady doesn't wander all over the room / And blow on some other guy's dice.

Interestingly, Upton notes that Fortune has a kind of cosmic function, as it is "a manifestation of the Divine impartiality," which is "stable in the higher realm, but unstable and capricious -- though only apparently so -- in the lower one." If we could control fortune, it would be equivalent to being God. We would certainly have no need to rely upon God, because we could control our destiny as easily as we control, say, electricity.

But thank God we do not have this kind of control over our lives, because, like the socialist economic planner, we simply do not have sufficient information to make rational decisions. And pretending we do immediately renders us irrational.

In other words, if Hayek's "knowledge problem" applies to markets, how much more so does it apply to the soul's terrestrial journey! As they say, more tears are shed over answered than unanswered prayers. "Thy will be done" implies "my will not be done" -- or, more to the point, my purblind willfulness not be done.

Referring back to a comment from a couple of posts ago, the alcoholic can only begin his recovery once he abandons the illusion of self control, and gives himself over to a "higher power." But the reason AA works is that it simply enunciates principles that are universal, regardless of whether one is an addict.

Please note that the Christian God is not a God of "control," but of abandoning control in the most shocking way imaginable. All pagan religions -- including paganized Christianity -- are doctrines of magical control. In contrast, Christianity recognizes the "power of powerlessness," so to speak: the meek shall inherit the earth, and so on.

To paraphrase our Unknown Friend, not only does God not control history like an Obamunist czar, but he is crucified within history, submitting to it entirely. This is a strange, strange, doctrine, far too weird and counter-intuitive for anyone to invent.

The envious left is preoccupied with certain classes of people upon whom Fortune has smiled, but never in any consistent or intellectually honest way. Productive CEOs are paid too much, but you certainly don't hear them complaining about worthless actors' salaries. Corporations are greedy, but never the state. Pharmaceutical companies that discover life-saving drugs are enemies, but parasitic trial lawyers who contribute nothing to society escape notice. And so on.

A little deeper down in the fourth circle are "the souls of the angry" who "attack each other forever" (Upton). Each of them is an enraged little OlbermanBearPig shrieking about his worst person in the world!

Upton makes the important point that, like lust and gluttony, wrath is a normal mode that is sharply exaggerated and out of balance. Its "higher archetpe" is justice, which means that the wrathful are obsessed with some perceived injustice.

But since injustice is everywhere, this means there is never any shortage of pretexts for the wrathful to vent their rage. The reason the left invented the meaningless term "social justice" was in order to legitimize their perpetual rage. Dreams of infinite terrestrial justice evoke omnipotent outrage. Which is when the real killing begins.

The question, as always, is whether the anger is divine or demonic, righteous or merely self-righteous. Proper anger "is that which allows us to take an aggressive stand, but it needs to be tempered by service to something higher than itself" (Upton).

But cut off from its higher archetype, anger becomes petty, distorted, and permanently aggrieved. And once it roosts in the psyche, it serves as an attractor that seeks out what it requires in order to go on being. It "sinks back into itself" and draws "souls into a horrible stagnation" or fevered swamp. Are there people on the right who do this, in imitation of the left? Yes, and I can't stand them.

What about the sullen? Don't you know any sullen people? They are impossible to be around, because they try to infect others with their sullenness, which is a kind of aggressive attack.

Dennis Prager makes a big point about this, and insists that happiness is a moral obligation. In other words, even if you are unhappy inside, it is not right to inflict your unhappiness upon others, and to draw them into your toxic attractor. At first blush "immoral" may seem like a strong word, but it is no different than spreading the flu, or not bathing and inflicting your beastly smell on your coworkers.

Greed, anger, sullenness. What's the connection? In each case, the person forgets all about real justice, and converts his own petty concerns into narcissistic idols that become far more important than they actually are. And "in doing so, one turns away from God's Will and toward self-will: and this is the essence of Anger" (Upton).

I do not know of a sin which is not, for the noble soul, its own punishment. --Don Colacho

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Greed, Compulsion, and the Turn Toward SatAnality

The fourth circle of hell is a kind of tipping point, from exterior to interior, from impulsiveness to willfulness, from corrupt behavior to soul corruption. It is where souls go from being rotten to the core to being rotten from the core.

Lust and gluttony -- circles two and three -- involve impulses directed toward external objects. Superficially, greed might appear to involve attachment to objects, but it's usually the other way around. For the greedy, "appetite" has become completely detached from any rational purpose, and becomes a compulsive and marauding force in its own wrong.

In this regard, it is important to bear in mind the distinction between the impulsive and the compulsive. Outwardly they might look similar, but they're actually opposites. The impulsive person suffers from an absence of will, while the obsessive-compulsive person has an excess, to the point of willfulness. (Obsessions are compulsive thoughts, while compulsions are obsessive behaviors.)

The impulse is not carefully planned or motivated, just "discharged." Such weak-willed persons can resist anything but temptation. According to Shapiro, they are often "remarkably lacking in active interests, aims, values, or goals much beyond the immediate concerns of their own lives," and usually don't have "abiding, long-range personal plans or ambitions." Frankly, they are very much like animals. And they're out there. I meet them all the time.

Again, the compulsive style is quite different from this. Shapiro notes that they have been called "living machines," which is an apt description, since at least impulsive types can be very lively to be around. They can be "live wires," even if their wires habitually short-circuit.

But there is a grimness and rigidity around the compulsive person, plus a narrowness of interest and focus. In other words, the rigidity doesn't just affect behavior, but the soul itself, which becomes sclerotic, predictable, and closed to new facts and experiences. Not for nothing are they called anal, which in turn has immediate associations with the lower strata.

Obsessive-compulsives no longer "see" what is not a part of their compulsiveness. Theirs is a life of trees, with no forest at all. Think of the miserly Scrooge, for whom everything and anything is quantifiable into money, and money is all that matters.

But please note that one can be an "intellectual (or emotional) miser" every bit as much as a financial one. This is because greed is first a state of the soul which only secondarily attaches itself to objects, and the objects needn't be material. It's really more about illusory control, or attempting to control the uncontrollable.

As Shapiro describes it, the normal person can be "obsessed" with something, -- I am all the time, for compulsiveness is only an exaggeration and distortion of a normal human mode -- but "has the capacity not to be gripped, the capacity to detach himself" and "to shift his attention smoothly and rapidly, now to this aspect, now to that aspect."

One might say that the compulsive person is devoid of ironic detachment, to say nothing of humor. One thinks of all those humorless left-wing, single-issue fanatics who are so deadly serious and cannot laugh at themselves -- Al Gore (speaking of living machines), feminists, heterophobic activists, ACORNballs, et al. In the end, the obsessive-compulsive person loses all contact with reality, so narrow is his focus.

Shapiro even compares the obsessive-compulsive to a brain-damaged person, in that they share the feature of a "general loss or impairment of volitional mobility of attention." Thus, they worry and ruminate over things that a normal person dismisses or places in the background, and dismiss things that are of central concern to a normal person.

Note that such people have their place in a Full Employment Cosmos. For example, I don't mind if my neurosurgeon or airplane pilot are a little compulsive. Spontaneity and joie de vivre are fine, but I don't want my dentist to drop what he's doing on a whim because it's a nice day outside.

So at the very beginning of Canto VII, we hear Plutus, the god of wealth, call out to his master, Pape Satan, Pape Satan, aleppe! Apparently, no one knows exactly what aleppe means, but we can assume from the context that the souls here have definitively turned toward Satan, toward the darkness rather then Light. This is where "conscious worship of the satanic principle begins" (Upton).

This is the realm of both misers and spendthrifts, who are just two sides of the same koan. As Upton describes, they "roll heavy weights in opposite directions, run into each other, quarrel, retreat, and then run into each other again on the opposite side of the circle.

For as always, extremes meet -- which is why spendthrift liberals are constantly meeting miserly conservatives in their dreams (from which they never awaken).

Note that the two trends -- greed and miserliness -- are depicted by Dante as two opposing waves that ultimately cancel each other out, but in so doing form a kind of "false center" (Upton). For "both avaricious Misers and prodigal Spendtrifts are attached to wealth; both have rebelled against Providence..." They have "so radically lost any sense of proportion that no real individuals remain among them" (ibid). Again, they are merely typal, caricatures, facsimiles, living machines.

Down in the herebelow of middle earth, everything is subject to change and transformation, growth and decay. But this is precisely what the greedy person attempts to defend himself from -- as if through accumulation of possessions, one may cheat the rules of life. This only results in a progressive deadening of the soul, for to live is to risk and lose all, a kenosis with no earthly paddle unless one has an oar in the ether.

In this regard, I am reminded of some excellent aphorisms of Don Colacho, such as Whoever lives long years is present at the defeat of his cause, or Not all defeated men are decent, but all decent men end up being defeated, or Man is important only if it is true that a God has died for him.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ravenous Emptiness and Existential Hunger

If you haven't already seen it, you should read this post by Vanderleun on the left's inversion of the seven deadly sins. Seems a shame to call it a mere "post," because I think he's stumbled upon a formula that may be more profound than he realizes: that the left not only rejects the notion of sin, but elevates it to virtue.

Which means that they actually do believe in it, only in an inverted way: for where would the left be without wrath, pride, envy, greed, lust? These are the forces that drive their whole project, so they must constantly be stirred up.

That being the case, I wonder if it is also true that progressives regard the classical virtues as sins? I'll let you ponder that one, but show me a prudent leftist -- prudence being the cardinal virtue -- and I'll show you a neocon, i.e., a recovered liberal.

For "none but the prudent man can be just, brave, and temperate, and the good man is good in so far as he is prudent" (Pieper). Prudence is another word for wisdom, which is precisely what is jettisoned in any materialistic philosophy. Thus, most progressives categorically reject objective truth and morality, but "whoever rejects truth, whether natural or supernatural, is really 'wicked' and beyond conversion" (ibid.) -- which is to say, beyond even the reach of God, God being Truth.

Progressives also transmogrify actual justice into the totalitarian monster of "social justice" -- a justice which is simply subordinate to their justice-denying policy preferences. This is par for the coarse and vulgar, since the imprudent man "will often call lies and cowardice prudent, truthfulness and courageous sacrifice imprudent"; but "all virtue is necessarily prudent" and "prudence is the cause of the other virtues' being virtues at all" (ibid).

And "courage"? Forget about it. When Hollywood leftists are called courageous for making films in praise of their courage for making left-wing films for each other, you know the word has lost all meaning. The Dan of Steel had it right: Show biz kids making movies of themselves / You know they don't give a fuck about anybody else.

We never finished gluttony, which is a somewhat ambig & fatuous category for the left, as they tend to displace spiritual health to the medical arena, and then be preoccupied with trivial threats to one's physical well-being, such as "second hand smoke" or condoms for heterosexuals to avoid overwhelmingly homosexual diseases. Therefore, like the First Lady, they may be concerned about obesity in their own way, but not for any good reason. If they were only so concerned about the soul's health, the rest would take care of itself.

Nazis too were quite preoccupied with the pursuit of physical ideals. They were anti-tobacco, anti-obesity, and pro-natural lifestyle. (Just found this rather strange article that praises Nazi science for its awareness of the dangers of tobacco and asbestos -- which is like saying the ice cream was delicious except for all that bovine excrement that was mixed in. But as with Obamacare, the bullshit is non-severable.)

As Upton writes, gluttony is "a perversion of a natural instinct" rooted in "an attempt to become complete, to fill an empty place in one's soul.... [F]or the damned the quality of fulfillment, which is based on a spiritual ascent they cannot accomplish, only intensifies their peculiar distortions."

This provokes several associations in me. First, as mentioned yesterday, the phase of orality is actually rooted in a relationship. For the baby, the act of suckling is accompanied by a sense of taking in warmth, comfort, and love, which "fills up" a painful emptiness inside -- an emptiness that is clearly "beyond words," since the baby has no language with which to symbolize it.

Human beings never stop needing the translinguistic experience of emotional/spiritual fulfillment. Furthermore, to the extent that they missed out on it on the "ground floor" of childhood, they will later seek it in all sorts of inappropriate, dysfunctional, and self-defeating ways that are guaranteed to produce frustration and misery, not just with food, but sex, alcohol, drugs, shopping, texting, whatever.

A critical point to bear in mind is that, through what Winnicott called "good enough mothering," the baby gradually goes from a condition of "oneness" to that of "twoness," or from omnipotence to reciprocity. At first the "ruthless baby" imagines that it conjures the breast out of its own need, but gradually the (m)other comes into view.

You'll see this transition in your baby when they become aware of a desire to please you -- to return the love and to give fulfillment instead of just taking it. It's a beautiful thing to experience, because it's as if all that infinite love you've poured into your baby starts returning to you. Which helps make up for the financial loss.

One of the things I learned in my psychoanalytic training is that patients with issues related to this stage have a great deal of difficulty "taking in." It may be at either extreme; for example, one patient may want to "devour" the therapist, while another peevishly "spits out" every interpretation you make. Another might take in your help, only to secretly vomit it out after leaving the session.

But in order to be properly (psychospiritually) nourished, we must first be aware of the emptiness and need inside. This is precisely what the narcissist, for example, cannot do. The narcissist imagines himself to be perfectly complete -- except his painful lack of completion unconsciously leaks out in the need to be noticed, admired, and idealized.

For the narcissist, the world becomes the infantile mother who registers in her face the wonderfulness of the baby. Which explains the infantile rage of the narcissist when the world-mother fails to mirror their grandiosity.

Upton touches on something similar, noting that implicit in gluttony is a kind of psychic imperialism, a "power complex, a hunger to incorporate everything in one's surroundings," which allows "the ego to inflate beyond its true limits."

Here it is important to understand that envy is a primary cause of greed. Since the envious person cannot tolerate the painful feeling that someone else has what he wants, he attacks the object of envy -- which only makes him more intensely greedy because of the absence of fulfillment. It's one of the perennial votercycles of the left: envy --> greed --> envy --> greed. The constant class envy only results in the desire for more.

Which is why for progressives, it's Never Enough. The eventual Supreme Court decision on Obamacare will officially determine if there is any limit to what the ravenous state can force one to do.

Upton also makes a subtle point about human sacrifice and psychic cannibalism, which are not motivated by the desire to accumulate possessions so much as the will "to incorporate the very soul of another."

This very much reminds me of Citizen Kane, who attempts to fill his empty soul (which resulted from traumatic maternal separation) with that absurdly overstuffed warehouse full of material possessions (which are dispassionately consigned to flames at the end of the film). And recall that the very first murder in recorded history occurred with the envious citizen Cain whacking his brother, since he couldn't tolerate the emptiness Abel provoked in him.

Appeasing Gluttony, that ravenous and insatiable emptiness:

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.