Sunday, February 27, 2011

Geryons and Ligers and Snares, Oh My!

We're experimenting with a new blogging schedule, in which I post on the weekends in order to be able to drive the boy to school a couple of mornings a week.


Hey, who's that up ahead? Why, it's Geryon, the Monster of Fraud! Let's hitch a ride on his back and see if he'd be kind enough to take us down into the eighth circle of Hell. Beats walking, and he's headed in that direction anyway.

As you can see from the artist's rendition, Geryon looks like a lizard with bat wings, a leonine body, and a human head. I call it a liger. It's pretty much my favorite animal. It's like a lizard and a tiger mixed... bred for its skills in magic. I tried to draw something similar once. Came out like this:

Anyway the liger, I mean Geryon, is an important symbol, because his function "is to lure souls into the deeper circles of Hell" (Upton). And in order to accomplice this crime, he possesses "the power to delude others" (ibid.). Like his father, he hypnotizes and seduces. He never forces.

Geryon's outward form mirrors that of the human brain, which has a reptilian remnant (the hindbrain), a mammalian component (the midbrain), and a human option (the cerebral cortex, or outer covering). Obviously this cannot be understood in a linear manner. One might say that in human beings these three natures are still one person; although distinct, they are inseparable.

However, in a properly functioning soul, it should come as no surprise that the human part is supposed to predominate. But in the case of Geryon, all three are in the service of "abysmal delusion; thus Geryon's truest nature is his lowest part," i.e., the reptile, whose venom fills the world (Dante).

Geryon's reptilian tail is an even deeper atavism descended from the insect -- or arachnid -- world, in that Dante compares it to the scorpion. Interestingly, Dante likens its soft and seductive web of deception to Arachne's loom, which would seem to imply maya in its most demonically illusory aspect -- the Mother of all bad mothers.

Upton notes that "the tail of a scorpion represents fraud in its essential form: with it he hooks his victims, and then administers the coup-de-gras, the poison of illusion."

Which reminds me of the old joke about the scorpion who asks the frog to ferry him across the river. Halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog says, "why'd you do that?! Now we're both going to die!" The scorpion says, "hey, I'm a scorpion, sucker."

Or, if you prefer a musical rendition:

Dante characterizes Geryon as a kind of con artist (and it is a kind of inverted art) who relies upon the innocence and naivete of his mark in order to accomplish the hustle. He can do nothing on his own, but requires a subject who is in some sense willing -- willfully willing, I might add, like the woman in the song, whose sexual desire allegorically overcomes her common sense.

You know what they say: you can't cheat an honest woman. And you shouldn't let your lizard subordinate the human, nor let the boy overpower the man in you:

The confidence man -- from the tenured on up -- recoils at clarity, and always tries to muddy the water. As Upton explains, these are people who "absolutize the relative," which begins and ends in the destruction of wisdom. And once wisdom is out of the picture, everything is at once conceivable and permissible.

Thus, Geryon is the very image of "the inverted hierarchy" (Upton). We might call it an inside-out brain, in which the reptilian rules the human. There have been a lot of reptiles in the news lately, from godawful to Gadhafi.

But some of the worst examples are the spiritual frauds such as Deepak, Tony Robbins, and the rest of the piety pimps. These lowlifes "are attempting to directly tap the Spirit to embellish their egos" (Upton), and are so objectionable that Dante actually places them in a deeper circle of Hell, because they ruin everybody's lives and eat all our steak. We'll get to them in the next post.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sexual Secrets of the Normal

I'm a little surprised that Dante, like the ROTC, hasn't been formally banned from elite university campuses. For his third ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell is "the zone of the Sodomites, the 'violent against nature'" (Upton). In the liberal world, this is a conversation we're not even permitted to have, for if you have any reservations whatsoever about homosexuality, you are to keep them to yourselves.

It would be nice if the liberal totolerantarian had the tolerance to practice "don't ask don't tell" toward us heterophilic deviants, but that is not how the insecure tyrannical mind operates.

Such a brazen rejection of nature is naturally going to generate doubt -- how could it not? -- so the doubt is dealt with through forced conformity, just as in any repressive religious climate. Anyone who questions the orthodoxy is, in one way or another, burned at the stake in order to maintain uniformity. Human sacrifice is always unanimity minus one. But then, one normal person makes a majority, does it not?

First of all, we are dealing here with the world of principles, not individuals. Let us stipulate at the outset that what Dante is saying applies to everyone, for these principles are universal. As I have mentioned in the past, it is commonplace for heterosexuals to violate these principles, so it would be a mistake to look only at the outward, superficial behavior, i.e., the choice of sexual object.

For example, many heterosexual men may look like they're having sex with another, when they are actually masturbating with a projected fantasy figure. There is no real relation between persons, which is to say, love.

As Upton explains, "the Sodomite is violent against nature because he denies relatedness to the Other; his erotic energy is turned inward." This is indeed the key point. Man cannot engage in mere animal sexuality without sinking beneath even the animals, who are innocent in their animality.

Conversely, properly human sexuality naturally includes animality, so long as it is in the service of the higher, which transforms it into something beyond itself. Nevertheless, It is impossible to convince the fool that there are pleasures superior to those we share with the rest of the animals (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

"If he were to open himself to the opposite sex he would encounter the Spirit, but he doesn't want this. The barrenness of the Sodomite is intellectual as well as sexual; [in Hell] he wanders on hot, barren sands" (Upton).

This is an excellent image, for animal sexuality cannot proceed deeper (or higher), since depth is precisely what is denied in the person exiled from Spirit. Therefore, they replace this with a kind of anxiously compulsive sexual acting out, drifting from partner to partner in search of what can never be found in this way, for you can never get enough of what you don't really need. In short, verticality is replaced by horizontality -- or quality by quantity.

But no amount of quantity amounts to quality, except perhaps the qualities of glut and jadedness. Furthermore, we devalue that which is in infinite supply, so this barren life inevitably devolves to chasing after something that decreases in value with each use -- just like the drug addict. In chasing the high you reach a new low.

Dante contrasts a particular hellbound secular humanist intellectual -- the details are unimportant -- with his own devotion to Beatrice, who is obviously "the Divine Feminine, the symbol of Holy Wisdom." She is very clearly Other, someone Dante does not, and cannot, possess. And importantly, this inability to possess opens up the space in which longing and idealization may occur and grow into love.

Conversely, the spiritual Sodomite "will associate with others only so long as they are in some sense his own reflection. Unlike Dante, he refuses the encounter with anyone or anything which might cause him to witness spiritual realities beyond the circle of his ego" (Upton).

In turn, this is why the left's attempt to efface sexual differences is so deeply demonic, for it would essentially turn us all into heterophobic homophiliacs.

For if sex does not involve an encounter and union of two archetypal Others, then it is either mutual masturbation or homosexuality, just bodies rubbing together. Again, to deny sexual difference is to eliminate the very space in which sexuality is transmuted into something beyond itself. For To mature is to discover that every object desired is only the metaphor for the transcendent object of our desire (DC).

And only the crudest intellect would fail to see how this applies to all worlds inhabited by man, for sexual polarity is merely a higher principle projected into the world of biology. Thus, there are "intellectual sodomites" who "are intelligent on a certain level" but who "remain spiritually blind." These are what we call infertile eggheads, and the ovary towers of academia are full of these yolkers.

Upton makes another subtle point, that "there is something in homoeroticism" that not only "has to do with group identification" but more specifically "with the adolescent peer group, the gang."

This is the stage in which the opposite sex is regarded as "icky," which is precisely how feminists regard both sexes, which is to say, human sexuality itself. These feminist gangsters obviously reject the femininity of which they are deeply ashamed, but also the proper masculinity that would awaken the ancient desire of their femininity.

But men will do pretty much anything for sex, even if it requires them to not be men. So where have all the good men gone? Killed by feminism every one.

It just so happens that I am reading another book cowritten by Jennifer Upton with her husband, Charles, Shadow of the Rose: The Esoterism of the Romantic Tradition, which focuses on the male-female relationship as spiritual path.

The Uptons note that this is a uniquely Christian path, for "if Jesus had not championed the cause of particular men and women," "romance would never have been born in the western world." This involves a new value placed on "the inner psychic encounter with one's contra-sexual archetype," and a way to worship "the Formless by means of form." The so-called battle of the sexes is -- or can be -- a deeper one "between the ego and the spiritual Heart," and a "transformation of lust into true love."

Unfortunately, in the contemporary postnormal world, if holy matrimony-as-spiritual path isn't denied outright, then it is either sentimentalized or unrealistically idealized as way to solve all one's problems. But marriage cannot hold up under the weight of such unrealistic expectations. Just as the church you join immediately becomes less than ideal by virtue of your being a member, any marriage that includes us is going to be marred by our presence.

I will leave you with a couple of contrasting aphorisms:

As the uniqueness of each individual reflects the incomparability of the Divine Essence..., so each relationship of love between two human beings is, as it were, its own 'Name of God.' --Shadow of the Rose

Monotonous, like obscenity. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

Sorry, but you two are not permitted in the faculty lounge.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Atheism and the Wings of Irreligious Faith

Deeper into the seventh circle of Hell are those who are violent against God. Interestingly, they are subject to a pelting rain of fire, which Upton calls "an inversion of Divine Grace, a kind of negative Pentecost." Grace, like sunlight, falls upon everyone (although not everyone is receptive to it). But instead of conveying light and warmth, the inverted version drops Napalm, or liquid fire.

Why, it's a bloody pentecursed, that's what it is. Indeed, one cannot actually curse God without cursing oneself, since all are "included in Him." Thus, the torment of the blasphemers "is the only way they can experience" this inclusion (Upton).

Upton reminds us of Eckhart's wise crack to the effect that the more they blaspheme, the more they praise God. I suppose it's similar to the tenured who deny the existence of truth. The only way they can experience truth is in an inverted form, for to deny truth is obviously to affirm it. Thus, they live in a world of weird conventions and superstitions that hem them into a kind of pseudo version of truth and reality.

It is very difficult, if not impossible, for a serious person to not be preoccupied with God. By this I mean, To speak about God is presumptuous; not to speak of God is idiotic (Don Colacho's Aphorisms). But if one nevertheless idiotically rejects God, what is one to do? This explains the recent reactionary crockload of books by the "new atheists," most of whom are serious if not somber people in their own way.

Being a doctrinaire atheist is obviously one way to be preoccupied with God. And these darkling children do serve a purpose for the believer, in that they help to prevent a descent into intellectual laziness by sharpening the objects that fill one's argumentarium.

Really, to be a believer of any kind is to be religious, because belief in anything requires a leap of faith, even -- or especially! -- for materialists who have no reason to even suppose that contingent organizations of matter may know what is not contingent.

Therefore, instead of taking an absurd leap of faith into faithlessness, or believing in disbelief, one might as well illuminate the muddleman and just be a believer, period.

For Nothing important is reached simply by walking. But jumping is not enough to cross the abyss; one must have wings (DC), i.e., wings of faith. Only wings of faith can carry one safely to the ether side.

Don Colacho has an unusual number of other excellent aphorisms along these lines. Why, just today he said

“Meaning,” “significance,” “importance,” are terms which do not merely designate transitive relations. There are things with meaning, significance, importance, in themselves.

This is such an important point, for to recognize meaning of any kind is to have vaulted oneself -- or to have been vaulted -- into a transcendent space. Virtually everyone recognizes that the world is overflowing with meaning, significance, and importance, in a way that is immediate, which is to say, unmediated by various ideological superstructures that alternately try to explain or explain away the meaning. But after all the explanations are exhausted, there it is (or rather, I AM).

Thus, on the one hand We are fully convinced only by the idea that does not need arguments to convince us (DC). The corollary to this is Our spontaneous aversions are often more lucid than our reasoned convictions. People may imagine they are arguing "for" or "against" God, when they are actually using secondary arguments in order to defend something that is actually self-evident, that is, unmediated (which any experience of God must be by definition, i.e., an experience).

As such, Only to defend our secondary convictions do we possess abundant arguments (DC), again, especially if one is a materialist, since materialism is not something that can actually be experienced by anyone except the dead -- who are no longer there to experience it. Thus, one might say that the materialist actually replaces experience with rational arguments, which is why Sensibility is a compass less susceptible of going crazy or misleading than is “reason” (DC).

And Whoever appeals to any science in order to justify his basic convictions inspires distrust of his honesty or his intelligence (DC). Do you see why? Arguments from science applied to the realm of metaphysics or theology are just arguments from authority, and are far more authoritarian than religion (at least Christianity, which never puts forth a proposition in defiance of our natural reason).

But just as the answer is the disease that kills curiosity, An “explanation” consists in the end in assimilating a strange mystery to a familiar mystery (DC). Which is why materialism, scientism, and atheism manage to be simultaneously mysterious and banal, or mere mystagoguery. For When we invent a universal meaning for the world, we deprive of meaning even those fragments that do have meaning (DC).

In other words, the superimposed dogma of materialism -- and the pseudo-meaning it generates -- either obscures or denies the underlying theophany of the world, i.e., its metaphyscial transparency, or mysterious ability to convey truth and beauty through its veil of appearances. Which is why There are certain types of ignorance that enrich the mind and certain types of knowledge that impoverish it (DC).

You will have noticed that what really separates liberals from conservatives is their very different sensibilities, over which the liberal is prone to superimpose any number of secondary and tertiary explanations.

For example, conservatives spontaneously recoil from the idea of government workers colluding with other government workers to extract money from taxpayers in order to elect more government workers to collude with more government workers and call it a "public sector union," when the correct term is Public Suckler Union: in the first and final analysis, these unions are a fiendishly clever con "by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party" (Barone). Arguments for and against this proposition are just evasions. They do not illuminate but obscure.

Clearly, this is one of the virtues of Christianity, in that it possesses and conveys a meaning that is im-mediate -- which is why it spread so exponentially in its first three centuries. People heard and understood, but long prior to receiving any coherent intellectual explanation. Yes, Only loyalty to a person frees us from all self-complacency (DC).

Indeed, it wasn't until the first Council in 325 that it became necessary to forge a theology that was both universal ("catholic") and intellectually consistent. Otherwise, the "raw" revelation of Christ was too mixed with individual idiosyncrasies to provide universality.

In other words, when Christ meets and mingles with a soul, a "new man" is created, each new in his own way. It is not possible to create a theology in an additive way, out of all these very personal experiences. Even so, there is no escaping the fact that Certain ideas are only clear when formulated, but others are only clear when alluded to (DC).

Thus, ever since then, the Church has tried to maintain the balance between experience and doctrine, which is not possible -- thank God! -- so long as religion is an encounter between free persons. There will always be a living dialectic between the church of Peter and the church of John, between the exterior and interior, between mystics and shepherds. For The truth resides in the indeterminate area where opposing principles interweave and correct each other (all praise to Don Colacho and his loyal trancelighter).

--Could be worse.

--Yeah, how?

--Could be raining fire.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cluelesside in Wisconsin

I think the deadly problem of suicide is similar to the suicidal problem of socialism, in that in both cases one is prevented from rational calculation.

In order to be a rational economic actor, we must begin with the principle of self-interest, upon which all else depends. People who are not-self interested cannot be relied upon to behave in a rational or predictable manner. They do all sorts of things we would never dream of doing, everything from flying planes into buildings to driving our healthcare system into a ditch. All for you!

One wants to say to Obama: mind your own frakking business. But here is a man who has made a virtue of meddling in everyone else's business his entire adult life, and who has never simply looked after himself. But then, The devil can achieve nothing great without the careless collaboration of the virtues (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

Isn't self-governance a big enough job for anyone? Isn't the order of the self prior to the organization of the community? Why skip that stage in favor of bossing other people around? This only results in systematic governance by the ungovernable, which is what we are seeing in Wisconsin.

These selfless protesters are not protesting in the name of their rights, but of your obligations.

My friends, if only you knew. If only you knew the extent of the human dysfunction embedded in the very concept of "public employee" (I hope it goes without saying that we are dealing in generalizations). For such people, there is no feedback from the world that says: you are a failure. Or, accurate feedback is experienced as persecution, harassment, "stress."

Please note that it is unfair to compare their wages to those in the private sector, since so many of these selfless idealists are unemployable. They cannot care for themselves, so we must. Thus, they are engaged in the type of bold adolescent rebellion that pits dependent children against their parents. You say you can earn more in the private sector? Okay, let's see you try!

My house, my rules. If you think you can find a better deal elsewhere, go for it! But for public employee unions, it is always Mom and Dad I hate you! Now can you drive me and Cheryl to the Capitol mall protest?

Von Mises' great insight was that economics -- like human beings -- is intrinsically intersubjective. Value -- i.e., prices -- is determined in the space between two free subjects who agree upon what something is worth. Nothing has intrinsic value except the valuing subjects.

Remove the valuing subjects from the equation, and there is no way to know what anything is worth. An economy degenerates into chaos when prices are not allowed to spontaneously emerge in this way. To paraphrase the rabbi, there is no relief from the confusion when none of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

Now, in a suicidal culture the self is obviously of no value. Therefore, soon enough, nothing else is of any value (except perhaps the prince at the top).

In short, such a culture quickly descends into abject nihilism, as we were discussing yesterday vis-a-vis imperial Japan. I mean, if you don't even care about yourself, what can you possibly be relied upon to care about? And as the rabbi said, If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

God help us the from selfless public servants! Barney Frank. Harry Reid. Nancy Pelosi. Jesse Jackson. Public employee unions. NPR.

In contrast, America's founding principle is the infinite worth of the individual. One wonders, therefore, if the systematic erosion of this inalienable principle by the left is making us a more "suicidal" culture?

I don't think there's any doubt about that. For a preview of coming attractions, just look at Europe, which is in the midst of demographic suicide as a consequence of its cultural, political, economic and spiritual suicide.

Ironically, just as Germany, France, and the UK are beginning to draw back from the abyss, we have a president who is hurtling us toward it. Will we awaken from the nightmare of socialism, multiculturalism, and moral relativism before it is too late? (Note that multiculturalism is another suicidal doctrine, or rather, the same doctrine applied to the collective -- self-hatred disguised as the love of others.)

Note the problem at the root of it all: all of these supposedly selfless leftists who presume to know better how to run your life, thus removing your own rational self-interest -- and therefore self -- and therefore rational calculation -- from the equation. Is it homicide or suicide? Does it matter?

Our victim culture systematically robs people of their agency and therefore dignity. Or, people are sold victimhood at the cost of their humanity.

Here again, in abrogating one's agency, one abdicates the self, except that a monstrous shadow rushes in to fill the void. This is the omnipotent and entitled narcissistic double who can only make demands upon others. It is a caricature of rational self-interest. It is Entitlement personified, or human rights devoid of the human duties that define Man.

But what is Man, in essence? As Don Colacho aphirms, the permanent possibility of initiating a causal series is what we call a person.

And what is a demon? It is none other than The permanent possibility of undermining and denying man's power to initiate a causal series in pursuit of his own rational interests.


"Think of 'public service' for what it really is, a secondary form of welfare, in which 'workers' pretend to work and the government pretends to 'pay' them — just like in the old Soviet Union! I mean, if it weren’t for government jobs, all of these 'non-essential' personnel would be lounging around on their porches, drinking beer and firing unregulated handguns into the air or at each other — or, even worse, at us — unable to deal with the vicissitudes of life and therefore deserving of our public charity. Without public service, politicians such as Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd would have been just another couple of Irish barroom horndogs; Governor Moonbeam, Jerry Brown, another Buddhist moonbat; and Robert Byrd a humble white-sheeted follower of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Public service gave these men jobs — real jobs — and meaning to their lives. And you malevolent capitalists want to take it all away" (David Kahane, HT American Digest).

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: