Friday, February 11, 2011

Rage Machines Raging Against the Machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Greed, Compulsion, and the Turn Toward SatAnality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ravenous Emptiness and Existential Hunger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appeasing Gluttony, that ravenous and insatiable emptiness:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Gluttons for Punishment and Punishment for Gluttons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Path of Lust Resistance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A great love is a well ordered sensuality.

A naked body solves all the universe’s problems.

Sex does not solve even sexual problems.

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

God is the substance of what we love.

Eroticism exhausts itself in promises.

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

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