Monday, February 07, 2011

The Path of Lust Resistance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A great love is a well ordered sensuality.

A naked body solves all the universe’s problems.

Sex does not solve even sexual problems.

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

God is the substance of what we love.

Eroticism exhausts itself in promises.

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


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

Friday, February 04, 2011

Hitler as Darwinian Word Made Flesh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 03, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Left Wing Fascism: Different Strokes for Different Volks

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued....

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A Cosmos in Leafing Color

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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