Friday, March 04, 2011

A Message from the Academy of Farts and Sinuses

Did I just hear the distant bleating of a rump trumpet? Then we must be in hell or among the tenured, where the two ends of the digestive tract are routinely reversed -- where pompous gasbags talk trash and pull facts from their behind. The technical term is zonal confusion. The colloquial term is bullshit.

But first had each of them stuck out his tongue
Between his teeth, as signal to their leader,
And he made a trumpet of his rump
. --Canto XXI

Upton notes that Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise all correspond to states of being. Although it certainly smells like something crawled up and died here, if it's too much of a leap, you needn't regard them as postmortem, since their odor is readily detectable in this world.

The "higher states of being" -- those associated with Purgatory and Paradise -- "are higher in every sense: they are closer to Reality" (Upton). Thus, as we travel further hellward, we drift further and further from the Principle, but draw closer to Hell's principle. The former is O, or the "Sovereign Good," while the latter is....

Well, first of all it is Ø, which means that it is not something positive, but rather, the negation of O, whatever that might mean.

As we venture down into the lower vertical, O at first becomes blurry and out of focus. But eventually we cross a threshold, in which its inverse -- Ø -- begins to acquire a kind of "solidity."

However, unlike O, it is not a translucent solidity but a dark and dense one. The darkness and density then become a kind of pseudo-reality, and it is this reality to which the materialist fleedom flighter clings and calls "courage" or "clarity." It is the false sobriety of someone who lives in a dry county in which no grog is available anyway. Suffice it to say that someone who is drunk on God is infinitely closer to reality than someone who is sober on matter.

Ironically, nothing is as it appears to be in Hell, which is why deconstruction -- or absolute relativism -- is such an adequate symbol of it. For the deconstructionist, there is no stable reality, only the interpretation they give it.

This elevates deconstruction above construction -- or, let us just say destruction above creativity. In practical terms, it elevates an ordinary feminist nag above the Bible or Shakespeare by revealing the "patriarchy" or "oppression" of these texts. But what the feminist actually demonstrates is her virtuosity on the rump trumpet.

Since the lower realms are only pale reflections of reality, we might think of them as existing in a negative space. If Heaven is +12, then Hell is -12. Importantly, the downward descent is in one sense a "dissipation" and loss of substance and (truth) force.

But in another sense, the further away from O, the more it becomes a kind of persecutory presence or shadowy recollection. Thus, as Upton describes it, the closer one gets to the "most hideous, most hellish parts [of Hell], the areas where existence is the most unbearable, the nearer one has come to letting the good break through."

This is why it is a truism in psychotherapy that a crisis can be an extremely fruitful opportunity. During a crisis, the psyche is "laid open," much like a body opened up by the surgeon's knife. The superficiality of mere coping or "bumbling along" is effaced, and the "unreality" beneath it all is exposed.

And in being exposed, it evokes a longing for the Light, for healing and wholeness. Truly, the darker the night, the brighter the day. Although this is not a hard and fast rule, since the spirit "blows where it will," countless saints will attest to this pattern.

If God is "completely Himself" -- or, in Thomist terms, pure act -- I wonder if this means that Hell might be thought of as pure motion, or a kind of infinite potential that never attains itself? It remind me of what economists used to say about Brazil: it is the country of the future, and always will be.

This suggests that Hell is a place of "false infinity," again analogous to the auto-cannibalistic deconstructionist who must eventually dine on himself, the only thing left standing after everything else has been deconstructed.

Thus, the deconstructionist is both "omniscient," in that he can trump all knowledge, but "omnipotent," in that his single intellectual tool can reduce anything to dust. Again, if nothing is what it is, then everything is what it is not, which is to say, nothing. That would be Hell.

Upton is on the same page, where she notes that "a destructive psychological complex ends by destroying itself." Here again, this is an inverted image of the "creative destruction" involved in ego transcendence. Taking a wrecking ball to a structure in order to build a new one is not the same as flying an airplane into it just to please one's dictatorial mind parasites.

Note that one -- and only one -- civilization created human flight in order to facilitate further creation. But the other culture -- which, left alone, couldn't have invented the toaster -- can only parasitize ours, and use its creativity for destructive ends. The Arab world as presently constituted is a symphony of rump trumpets.

Another orthoparadoxical fact is that "as deeper levels of Hell are reached, the damned have more character -- understandably, since the more grievous sins are the more deliberate ones, which are worse than simple passions or weaknesses" -- the latter of which are more contingent to the central self.

But for the true evil-doer, the condensed nothingness of evil has become central, which is why an Osama, or Arafat, or Ahmadinejad, or Hitler, have such character. For truly, they are incorrigible but also incorruptible, in the sense that they will not deviate from their anti-principles, so no Light reaches them.

No, I will not pull your tail again!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Armies of the Blind Clashing by Night

Twenty-second canto, eighth circle, fifth valley. This is starting to get as complicated as the tax code. No wonder most people prefer to adopt a simplified, binary, flat death tax: heaven or hell, thumbs up or thumbs down.

However, it can't be that simple, for if there are no degrees of sin, then this is not a hierarchical cosmos. But it is, and there is no hierarchy without a top and a bottom and various degrees in between.

Anyway, the place is rather crowded, because these are the embezzlers and "buyers and sellers of public office," which I suppose back then mainly applied to religious office. To embrace politics is to touch pitch, so perhaps it is appropriate that the denizens here are immersed in boiling tar.

"By nature," the sins here "are sticky and opaque" (Upton). It is almost impossible to get involved in politics without getting covered in pitch, which is why we should revere the men who remained pristine, such as George Washington. To promulgate the myth that he "never told a lie" is infinitely closer to the Truth than whatever revisionist twaddle the tenured are peddling these days.

What is it about mundane politics that fascinates people? As I've mentioned before, the more "political" one is in the vulgar sense of the word, the more politics is merely a kind of existential container to organize one's psychic and emotional life.

However, the difference between the contemporary left and right is that conservatism is based on ideas and principles, whereas liberalism is rooted in raw power and self-interest concealed beneath a lot of pseudo-ideals.

The left cannot admit to themselves that they are motivated by material self-interest, or race, or class, so they project this onto the right, which is why they can never actually deal with our arguments.

Instead, they dismiss our arguments with ridiculous projections such as the imputation that our real motivation is to further enrich the top five percent of income earners, or that our effort to address fiscal bankruptcy and the crisis of public sector unions is an "attack on the middle class." In other words, the left pours its own pitch onto us, and then attacks us for being so filthy.

Yes, the idealists in Wisconsin are engaged in a revolution, so long as one remembers that Revolutions do not solve any problem other than the economic problem of their leaders (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

One cannot see clearly in a world of pitch. Thus, the left profits by the confusion they sow, because then they can make an appeal to primitive emotionality, such as being "for the little guy." But Social problems are the favorite refuge of those fleeing their own problems (DC).

There is no clarity in the world -- and certainly no moral clarity -- in the absence of spiritual Truth. Along these lines, Upton has a wonderful passage by Maximus the Confessor, who wrote that "the spiritual world in its totality is manifested in the totality of the perceptible world..." Conversely, in the words of Don Colacho, Relativism is the solution of one who is incapable of putting things in order.

In other words, the spiritual world contains the material world, for the converse could never be true. Likewise, spiritual principles explain science as such (and the scientist!), not vice versa.

For example, the practice of science would be impossible if scientists were not beholden to the principle of objectivity and disinterested truth, which is none other than a reflection of the Absolute on the scientific plane in question.

Maximus continues: "And the perceptible world in its entirety is secretly fathomable by the spiritual world in its entirety, when it has been simplified and amalgamated by means of spiritual realities."

What this again refers to is the enduring spiritual hierarchy beneath appearances, without which we could never organize or comprehend reality, including human reality.

Human development is situated along a continuum of maturity, including intellectual, spiritual, emotional maturity. And there can be no standard of maturity in the absence of a telos which organizes everything below. We only know there are idiots and sociopaths because there are geniuses and saints.

The left opposes all natural hierarchies, and replaces them with a simplistic and artificial binary of race, or class, or gender, or sexual orientation. These destructive ideas appeal to the ignoramuses of the left, for as Don Colacho says, Every non-hierarchical society is divided into two parts, and Leveling is the barbarian’s substitute for order.

Back to the corresponding vale of Hell. Upton writes that the evil here "has begun to manifest an inverted power." This is power in the absence of truth, virtue, sobriety, Light. This is where President Obama parks his big bus, under which are all the people who became inconvenient and are no longer of any use to him.

Upton further notes that there is something "militaristic" about this principality, for the evil here is organized. Now, how can there be organization in the absence of hierarchy? (For there can be no hierarchy that doesn't converge on Truth.)

Think of organized crime. In what way is it organized? What is the center around which it is ordered? That is one of the reasons evil cannot triumph, since it has no enduring center. It can only be a perverse and inverted shadow of the reality it feeds off. It can never be intellectually consistent, plus it has darkness rather then light, hate rather than love, at its core.

Truth can be known by virtue of what even evil people must pretend is true.

Frank Rich's replacement is pitched into the New York Times editarial boardroom:

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Your Immortal Soles are in Danger!

We're finally up to the canto we've all been waiting for, in which Deepak Chopra gets his just desserts. For this is the valley of rapacious brutes who debauch themselves for gold -- who distort spiritual reality by treating it as a profane thing to be bought and sold.

Folks here are buried head first up to the knee with their feet exposed, the soles of which are on fire. Strange image. I wonder what Dante had in mind?

Upton writes that the souls here "are buried in an inverted position because they have inverted the spiritual hierarchy."

As we know, the principial world is an inverted tree, with its nonlocal roots above and its convenient branches down here below.

Therefore, the inverted position of these vulgar simoniacs -- or maniacs -- is simply an image of what they inverted -- and perverted -- in life. Thus, their feet, which symbolize the terrestrial world, are at the top, while their heads, which symbolize the celestial, are at the bottom. This reveals their true values and motives, which cannot be hidden from God.

This brings to mind what may be my favorite letter of Meditations on the Tarot, The Hermit. The hermit is a properly right side-up man, and for this reason will appear upside-down to the worldly.

Such a man does not deny the world but sees it -- and its contents -- in its proper order. He does not place what is both priceless and of urgent importance above what is ephemeral and insignificant. Which is why The common man lives among phantasms; only the recluse [i.e., hermit] moves among realities ( Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

Furthermore, the hermit is the cosmic locus of the synthesis of heaven and earth, i.e., their union, not polarization. He represents the harmony of intellect, emotion and will, or mind, heart and strength.

But again, such a man will appear upside-down to the tenured, for Modern society works feverishly to put vulgarity within everyone’s reach (DC), and largely succeeds now that so many of us attend college, those somnambulant seminaries of factsimian sophistry.

For the properly spiritually oriented man, his soul is on fire and God is the water. But in this vale of hell, the soles are on fire and there's no water to be found. Dante also notices that the fire flickers back and forth between the heel and toes. Upton suggests that this is another inverted image, this one of the purifying spiritual fire, since in Hell it moves horizontally rather than vertically.

In a foot note, Upton reminds us of the spiritual hucksters who charge good money to teach idiots how to walk barefoot on hot coals. I always suspected that Tony Robbins was a preview of hell.

The valley of the hotfoot is also a parody "of the baptismal font," in that these sinners "are horribly baptized by the fire of the Holy Spirit they sought to buy and sell" (Upton). But the Divine Fire is not a plaything. To imagine that one can control it sufficiently to truck and barter in its activation is about as wise as selling nuclear secrets to Islamists. You end up with the Agni, but no ecstasy.

In the next valley it gets even hotter, for it is the vale of the spiritual pundits, the magicians and diviners who "impiously sought to pierce the veil of the future" (Upton). These people cause much more mischief than you might imagine, for they are spiritual prometheans whose reach exceeds their grasp -- or whose mental being surpasses what they have properly assimilated and actualized. They are engaged in the dangerous practice of driving in front of their headlights; in other words, they are operating in the dark with knowledge (k) in front of being (n).

Therefore, in this valley of hell they are perpetually facing backward. Once again it is an inverted image of how they functioned in life; in being turned backward, they remind us "of a 'vanguard' cadre in politics or an 'avant-garde' movement in the arts, which, after a few years, turns out to be totally reactionary; their attempt to conquer the future binds them to the past" (Upton).

Is there anyone more nauseatingly predictable and reactionary than the political "progressive" or artistic "transgressive"? Even the word "progressive" implies an ability to see into the future. But when their future arrives, it is always an atavistic hell. Obama does not look forward but backward, to Jimmy Carter, LBJ, FDR, and the whole failed ideology of illiberal collectivism and state coercion. Likewise the public employee unions, for whom it is always 1930.

And of course, such people are not only looking backward but down, toward matter. No one pretends that the unions are fighting for any ideal except their own material gain. But in the words of Don Colacho, there is no faster way to corrupt an individual than to teach him to call his personal desires rights and the rights of others abuses. Such a soul is upside-down, inside-out, and assbackward.

Hey, it's a Tony Robbins seminar, and it will only cost your soles!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Falling at the Speed of Lies

Next up: the eighth circle of Hell, which is divided into ten separate valleys for its unhappytants. Here we encounter the deceivers, panderers, seducers and flatterers. It has since been renamed the William Jefferson Clinton Memorial Low Way.

At the bottom of this valley, souls are immersed in filth. And not just any filth, for Dante cannot help noticing that it seems to come from human privies. Which is to say, they are submerged in their own crap, just like San Francisco.

As mentioned in last Friday's post, we have now crossed the threshold from impulse (or weakness) to will (and willfulness), so we are now circling Hell's lower vertical attractor in pneumacognitive phase space. For as Upton explains, "The Flatterers and Seducers are beginning to participate directly in the realm of illusion" (emphasis mine).

These souls are not passive victims of the Lie, but active architects of it. They are "inverted creators," as it were. But unlike God, who perpetually creates something from nothing, these ghastly spinmeisters ultimately create nothing from something.

Lies race through the world like fire, reducing the structure of reality to ashes of promethean fantasy. Which is why The results of modern “liberation” make us remember with nostalgia the abolished “bourgeois hypocrisies”, and why Man does not have the same density in every age (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

For the Lie is simultaneously dense and hollow, like the head of a troll, whereas Reality is both solid and supple, like Dupree's sacred cluebat.

In this realm we see the state of the soul beneath the beautiful portrait of Dorian Gray. Gray, of course, is an unholy mixture of light and dark in order to conceal from the Light what one does in the Dark. But here the false light is eliminated, leaving only the true darkness. And nothing grows in the dark but nothing.

In the world, these assouls "tried to put a false face on their actions," so in Hell "this face is removed" (Upton). Remember what we were saying a few posts back about the shameful behavior of "shame cultures" such as Imperial Japan? Recall that in reality, such a culture produces people who are unable to tolerate shame, so the culture becomes a kind of collective lie in order to protect everyone from the experience of shame.

In this valley of hell, the false self -- the persona -- is removed, so the souls here live with the shame they attempted to deny in life. Note that this especially applies to the shameless, who are probably the most dangerous people on this earth, for shame has a proper function in the harmoniously balanced and integrated soul, whereas the shameless are capable of anything.

The above crack about Clinton was no joke, because what creeps people out about him is his utter shamelessness, his disingenuous ability to lie with such transparently false sincerity. And yet, in the words of Harvey Mansfield, Clinton remains the envy of vulgar men who wish to be just like him. He is indeed the patron satyr of narcissists, for Depravity always arouses the secret admiration of the imbecile (DC).

Again, everything in Hell is inverted, so just as the flatterers and seducers "led others astray, so now they are being driven. In life they felt they could manipulate others easily; in hell they are harshly pushed" (Upton).

This is an important point, because for all the honey-coated seduction of the left -- the beautiful lies of Sugar Candy Mountain and free stuff for everyone -- it all ultimately redounds to coercion. It is the neocortex in service to the mid- or hindbrain, or thought in service to raw muscle.

As Walter Williams writes (HT American Digest),

"How about what car you drive, where you live, whom you marry, whether you have turkey or ham for Thanksgiving dinner? If those decisions were made through a democratic process, the average person would see it as tyranny and not personal liberty. Is it no less tyranny for the democratic process to determine whether you purchase health insurance or set aside money for retirement? Both for ourselves, and our fellow man around the globe, we should be advocating liberty, not the democracy that we've become where a roguish Congress does anything upon which they can muster a majority vote."

Which is why communism is hell on earth. And leftism is in the attractor of communism, which is why it always tends in that direction. Its first principles are not America's first principles, no matter how they try to spin it and obscure those principles. When the state does something for you, it always does something to you (excluding, of course, those things individuals cannot do for themselves).

For the leftist, God helps those who help themselves. To other people's money.

Dante also notes that the flatterers and seducers are subject to "eternal circlings" in Hell. This is again because they did not submit to reality, but elevated themselves above it with their "easy faithlessness" (Upton). They made their lies, and now they must bed in them. Forever.

The seducer "manifests something that he cannot be" (Upton). Thus, he is a genuine phony who can only fake sincerity. Furthermore, he cannot help but have a secret contempt for the people who fall so easily for his lying sincerity, since he knows better than anyone what credulous dupes they are.

For "flattery is always an expression of self-interest" (Upton). And the ultimate self-serving flattery is described in Genesis 3. The serpent is the father of all flatterers and seducers. Crawling on his belly, he is horizontality personified. He seduces Eve, Eve transmits the lie to Adam, and gravity takes care of the rest, as they fall out of the Creator's orbit and into the wily one's obit.

Delegates at the Democratic National Convention drowning in their own bullshit.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Beginner's Guide to the Beginning

It's hard not to post. Feels like I forgot to do something. Therefore, I wondered to myself, "self, I wonder what I posted exactly five years ago today?" Turns out it roused only four commenters at the time, so it was little noted and long since forgotten. I've decided to resurrect it with some editing Light.

Let's begin with two stipulations, one very old, the other of more recent vintage, treating them not as religious statements per se but metaphysical ones:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,


In the beginning was the the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

And in the spirit of multiculturalism -- and in the effort to increase our depth of vision with an additional I -- let's toss another bon mot into the mix, this from the opening of the Isha Upanishad: In the heart of all things, of whatever there is in the universe, dwells the Lord.

What does it mean, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth"? As I have mentioned before, I believe it has to do with the creation of the most fundamental complementarity (not duality) of the cosmos.

This complementarity can be viewed from many angles, but can be summarized by saying that "in the beginning God created the vertical and the horizontal," for this complementarity subsumes the irreducible (irreducible in terms that can be thought about) categories of quality and quantity, interior and exterior, eternity and time, whole and part, implicate and explicate, subject and object, Absolute and Infinite.

In each instance we are dealing with a limit case, beyond which thought cannot traverse. In fact, the one side of the complementarity necessarily evokes the other, and provides the conditions of thought. Nothing "mental" can be made without the vertical/horizontal duality as a precondition (and nothing can be made that isn't completely mental, I must say).

With the second statement we introduce an unexpected twist and shout: In the beginning was the WORD, or LOGOS! Moreover, this Word was with God, implying that it was there "before the beginning," before the great creative activity of the first album. Indeed, if John is correct that the Word is God, this can be the only logical conclusion.

This then apparently raises language to a most exalted status. But clearly not if we merely look at it in the usual way. It's so easy to take language for grunting, when in reality we are dealing with something that is frankly magic.

In fact, the very same Biblical passage cautions us about this, pointing out that the Light of the Word "shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it." Or, to put it in the slightly more orthoparadoxical terms expressed in the Cosmogenesis section of the Raccoon Kookbook, "the weird light shines in the dark, but the dorks don't get it. For truly, the weirdness was spread all through the world, and yet, the world basically kept behaving as if this were just your ordinary, standard-issue cosmos."

One additional point would appear relevant. From Genesis 1:26 and 27 we read "Then God said 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness'.... So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them." We are particularly interested in how our capacity for creativity might mirror the primordial creative activity of the Divine Mind.

So, what is language, anyway? What is a word? As a matter of fact, a word is a very special thing, because only it has the capacity to bridge the complementary worlds introduced by primordial creation. Apparently words can do this because they are somehow prior to the great duality and therefore partake of both heaven and earth, above and below, vertical and horizontal.

The literal meaning of the word "symbol" is to "throw together" or across, as if words are exterior agents that join together two disparate things.

But the Biblical view would suggest that langauge actually has this "throwing together" capacity because it somehow subtends the world on an interior level: language is what the world is made of, so it shouldn't surprise us that with it we are able to apprehend all kinds of deep unities in the cosmos. The unities are there just waiting to be discovered, and language is our tool for doing that.

"In the beginning" of human consciousness there is also a fundamental complementarity or dialectic between the conscious (horizontal) and unconscious (vertical) minds. It is incorrect to visualize the mind in spatial terms as a sort of unconscious space below, with a line separating it from the conscious mind above.

In reality, each moment of consciousness involves a generative, ceaselessly flowing "translation," or unfolding, of multi-dimensional, nonlocal mental space that cannot be thought about into a local, linear, and particularized expression that can be thought about.

Again, in a healthy person there is a fluid and generative dialectic between these two realms. But many things can go wrong with that process -- in fact, most forms of psychopathology have to do with the person being caught up and entangled in one end or the other.

I don't have time to get into that now, but suffice it to say that there are some people -- let's call them the obsessive-compulsives -- who live their lives wading in the shallow and rocky shoreline of the conscious side, while others -- let's call them hysterics and borderlines -- are inundated by the storm-tossed sea of the unconscious side.

Again, the key is a dialectical rapport between the two dimensions. That's where one is truly "alive." And much of that aliveness has to do with language, that secret key to the universe.

Again, a word serves as the I-AMissary between the two worlds. On the one hand, a word refers to something particular in space and time -- a cup, a tree, a dog. On the other hand, a word is by definition an abstraction with no localized or localizable being: we only recognize the cup or tree or dog because they are a function of cupness, treeness or doginess.

Therefore, words are the local tools of the translating function of vertical into horizontal being, of infinite into finite, of eternity into time -- if we know how to use them. If we do not live in the uncomprehending dark.

Speaking of which, I've been typing this post -- like all my recent posts -- in the darkness of the dawn. They say that dawn is the friend of the muses. I suppose this is because at dawn we still have one foot in the mouth of the waters of our night-sea journey into the multidmensional dream world. Perhaps my posts only make sense at dawn and cannot withstand the brightly intense beam of darkness of trolltime logic.

In any event, that blanding light is now shining through my window, signalling to me that I am once again late for my daily horizontal exhale. But I'll be back. Back before the beginning tomorrow morning, where we will plot another raid on the formless infinite, and attempt to translate it into terms we can think about.

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.