Friday, March 11, 2011

Hell is for Heroes Without Virtue

In canto XXVI, Dante meet Ulysses, whose heroism in this world apparently counts for nothing. For although he "worked for victory over Troy," he could only accomplish it through a ruthless combination of fraud and unjust violence (Upton).

It always strikes me how antiquity is still idealized by scholars, even though for most people the pre-Christian world was a kind of hell on earth (and indeed, one reason why it is idealized is because it was not Christian; conversely, it is why the Jews will always be hated for having brought the Absolute into the world, which is a major inconvenience to tyrants).

I briefly addressed this in the tome version, but it is impossible in such a short space to bring to life the horror, cruelty, and barbarism of the ancient world. Actually, it's impossible in principle, because horror cannot exceed a certain limit -- let us call it 1.0

A horror of 1.0 would be, say, being eaten by wild animals in the Coliseum, or helplessly watching your wife be raped, or watching your child be crucified. It doesn't matter if it happens to a million people, because it still cannot exceed 1.0. And in fact, Stalin was more than half-correct when he said that one death is a tragedy but a million deaths is a statistic. (Actually, for Stalin a single death wasn't a tragedy at all, but just laziness or fatigue.)

A single murder or even untimely death is such a horror to both victim and loved ones that we either don't or can't "go there." It is literally unthinkable until it happens. Multiply it times a million, and the effect might even be diminished, because we don't experience it terms of the single soul, which is the only medium of experience. (Bolton discusses the same principle in one of his books, but I don't recall which one off the top of my head.)

The recorded voice of a single terrified person at the top of the World Trade Center, about to burn or suffocate, frantically imploring the helpless 911 operator for assistance, penetrates more deeply than the image of the plane going into the tower.

Note how the collaborationist media will show us image after image of the pranks at Abu Ghraib, but not the horror of an Islamist beheading another innocent victim. Why not? Because it might make Americans want to win this war against the enemies of civilization.

I recently read two books about the last year of World War II (Armageddon and Retribution), and the author was careful to balance the macro and micro in such a way that it was often quite painful to read.

It's one thing to hear that x number of men died in the war, but another thing altogether to read the explicit details of what a single soldier endured, say, in a Japanese prison camp. I mean, how about experimental surgeries without anesthesia performed on captured pilots before an audience of physicians? How does one even imagine such an experience? It is beyond the pale.

I suppose I'm thinking of the footage I've seen of Japan. Have you ever tried to imagine what it would be like to drown? Again, that is terror 1.0.

Note that the Christian religion is centered around just such a single instance of terror 1.0. In fact, this is arguably the only instance of something "beyond" 1.0, since it is not only man, but God, who is being tortured to death.

Christians cannot forget that man is not only capable of murder, but that if given half a chance, he will murder God. Every time. Orthoparadoxically, this is a bug but also a feature, given the potentially diabolical combination of free will and a misguided deiformity -- when man's relative centrality becomes detached from the absolute Center and he makes a god of himself.

Upton touches on this important point, noting that there were countless instances of "godmen" prior to -- and since -- Jesus. For example, most of the various pharoahs and caesars of antiquity were regarded as divine beings (or, think of Kim in North Korea, not to mention Hirohito in imperial Japan).

But as Upton explains, "Christ is true man and true God, not part man and part God, like a centaur or some other mythological monster." In contrast, "the deepest evil, the evil of the Antichrist, will be based on just this kind of parody of the hypostatic union." And in an increasingly de-Christianized West, people will not only be unable to recognize such a beast, but will long for him.

This longing will always be intrinsic to the left, since it represents an inverted version of Christian truth. For just as the Christian's ultimate allegiance is not to a doctrine but to a person, leftism always ends in the cult of personality, the strong man, the national savior, the dictator of the proletariat, the superman who is beyond good and evil, for "When spiritual Guidance is repressed, it still attracts -- but darkly" (Upton).

Yes, it would be so much easier -- and more natural -- to be America's dictator.

Upton notes that in this canto "Dante prays that his talent not exceed the bounds of virtue." Otherwise, he might be tempted to "take the story of Ulysses on the level of foolish hero-worship and forget that this hero is damned."

In the contemporary world, people have replaced the ultimate significance of being "known by God" with being known by the anonymous masses. In other words, the quest for fame and celebrity have replaced the spiritual quest. But fame without virtue is a shameful and humiliating dishonor.

Dante and Virgil peer down into the valley of heroic public employee union leaders.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sinister Ministers and Reptilian Kleptocrats

It's canto XXV and we're still in the den of thieves. One of them -- a slow learner -- makes an obscene gesture, curses God, and even -- if I understand correctly -- contemptuously tosses his stolen goods at the Creator. (The translation says "figs," but one of the definitions of fig is "a contemptibly worthless trifle.")

Evidently, to be reduced to cursing God is itself a kind of curse -- just as contempt, which is the opposite of gratitude, is a kind of ultimate punishment, for the key to happiness is gratitude. To paraphrase Don Colacho, hell is filled with people who are satisfied with who they are and unsatisfied with what they have.

One cannot curse God without renouncing our deiformity, so in this plane of hell, souls have become "bestial, and the beast takes on a human semblance" (Upton).

This is a point Dennis Prager often discusses, and which is absolutely central to Judaism, that is, the bright line between man (neshama, the higher self) and animal (nefesh, the lower self), and the intrinsic sin of denying or effacing it. And equally as important, Judaism emphasizes integration, not denial, of the lower self. God very much wants us to have a good time and to partake of all permitted pleasures.

Here again, destroying this line is intrinsic to the project of the left. One could also express it conversely: anyone who denies this distinction is a default leftist -- or certainly anti-conservative, which is why libertarians and objectivists are by no means conservative.

I read something very interesting the other day about the Scopes "monkey trial," which, if true, suggests that this is one of the most distorted historical episodes since the Galileo affair, for it was not a case of "liberal" vs. "conservative," but more essentially of conservative liberal (William Jennings Bryan) vs. leftist (ACLU).

Bryant was rightfully concerned about the baleful effect of inculcating children with the idea that they are just one of countless other mammals, which -- if one is intellectually honest in a way that leftists never are -- immediately contravenes our founding document.

That man is both created and at the existential "center" of creation are ontological facts -- or rather, principles -- whereas natural selection and heliocentrism are just theories that more or less adequately account for empirical phenomena.

As Don Colacho says, there is a kind of ontological gravity that ironically pulls us downward as a result of denying the vertical, for When things appear to us to be only what they appear to be, soon they appear to be even less. If a man is only a man, he soon becomes less than one.

One of many reasons I would never send my child to a public school is that he would be forced to accept various scientistic doctrines -- which are true enough on their own plane -- as ontological facts applying to planes above matter. Since the leftist denies any degrees of being, his own principles are taught as magically self-sufficient.

Dennis Prager made another important point the other day. That is, the vast majority of Americans -- especially the religious -- agree that it is not a good idea to mix church and state. But if this is true, why is it a good idea to mix ideology and state?

For this is what ends up happening: children are inculcated with an ideology that both justifies and serves the state. For truly, the tenured -- including teachers' unions -- are just the state's way of increasing the size and influence of the state. It is why teachers are literally rewarded for failure, in that the worse they perform, the more money liberals want to give them. Success for public teachers would be totally self-defeating.

The official stance of PETA is that there is no moral distinction between man and animal. I remember Dennis Prager interviewing a PETA spokesperson who insisted that barbecuing a million chickens was equally reprehensible as barbecuing a million Jews.

The problem is, this does not elevate animals to the value of persons, but inevitably devalues man to the status of animal. And sex education in public schools? Forget about it. For starters, the left not only knows nothing of innocence, but systematically destroys it.

So in this corner of hell, "the mammalian nature is totally taken over by the reptilian one," and "empathy is completely negated" (Upton). Souls here are pure envy, which means that they cannot tolerate the painful feeling that someone else possesses what they want (another hallmark of the left). Thus, as Upton says, their "desire to steal something is based purely on the fact that it belongs to someone else."

Along these lines, Don Colacho wields a number of sharp objects, for example, Every society eventually bursts when envy expands too far.

Yes, that would be the giant sucking sound you hear in the distance -- the one third of Americans who are suckling on a government teat which is in the process of imploding.

And speaking of the left, here is a perennial truth about them -- their all-purpose excuse for violating the Constitution: Compassion is the best excuse for envy. And envy, of course, is the best excuse for theft. For Envy differs from the other vices by the ease with which it disguises itself as a virtue (DC).

Thus, The democrat comforts himself with the generosity of the program over the magnitude of the disasters it produces (DC). What the left calls "generosity" we call appeasement of envy.

Which never works, for envy cannot be appeased. Since man has an imagination, any idiot can imagine having more than he has. Which is why Egalitarian societies strangle the imagination without even satisfying envy.

Is the left any less envious today than it was trillions of dollars ago? Hardly! Like a child, their most frequently used word is more!

Furthermore, since the leftist lives in a flattened universe devoid of any higher dimension, envy is totally under the auspices of the appetites, for The poor man does not envy the rich man for the opportunities for noble behavior which wealth facilitates, but rather for the degradations which wealth makes possible.

Ah yes, Modern man comforts himself by thinking that “everything has a solution.” As if there were no sinister solutions! (DC).

Our country has been hijacked by sinister ministers whose ministrations make the country sick.

Er, I'm starting to wonder if envy is a good exit strategy from this place.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Left Wing Grave Robbers and Other Snakes on a Plane

A plane of hell, that is. For this region of Hell is teeming with a loathsome swarm of snakes, / So strange and horrible to look upon / That even now it makes my blood run cold. Dante makes the timely point that even Libya cannot boast of such a cruel and depressing storm of malignant pests.

Here The naked souls are running horror-struck with their hands bound behind them by serpents that thrust their heads and tails out through their loins.

There is also an element of hypnosis going on, which reminds me of a note at the end of last Monday's post, from the Oxford Dictionary: Fascinate ARCHAIC (esp. of a snake) deprive (a person or animal) of the ability to resist or escape the power of a look or gaze: the serpent fascinates its prey.

The serpents "transfix" their victims, at which time the latter instantaneously burst into flames and are reduced to ashes. But as in the Terminator movies, the ashes are reunited of themselves / And instantly resume his spirit's form.

The first thought that comes to mind is, of course, the seductive serpent of paradise, who first draws Eve into its spell before Eve hypnotizes Adam with her charms.

For just as grace operates through various intermediaries in a hierarchical, top down fashion (↓), so too does this inverted version -- which is not (↑) per se, but perhaps (↑) devoid of (↓), which renders it promethean and therefore ripe for a fall.

Indeed the fall is inevitable in such a case -- which, I think, is the deeper meaning of today's aphorism: Why deceive ourselves? Science has not answered a single important question.

The point is that science can only answer important questions if it isn't divorced from reality in the fuller sense. In isolation -- in particular, from the vertical -- it is axiomatic that science cannot answer important questions, for only the mature soul (who ipso facto eludes any scientific explanation) knows what is important. This is called judgment.

Back to the canto. The souls here who are tormented by the serpents are thieves -- not just any thieves, but those who steal sacred objects and vestments from the Church sacristy.

Such a theft is full of implications. One immediately thinks of how the secular west is parasitic on the Christian civilization that gave birth to it, but without so much as acknowledging the debt. This is not just a discourtesy but a grave sin.

Think of how contemporary liberals ransack the Constitution in order to remove and distort what they need in order to confer a fraudulent legitimacy upon their policy preferences. Any sensible American intuitively understands that this involves the theft of something sacred -- not the least of which being the blood that was shed in order to make that Constitution possible and to endure.

For even prior to the Constitution are the courageous human beings who recognized and were willing to risk their lives and fortunes in defense of the Good. To steal this priceless treasure from one's countrymen is morally indistinct from grave robbing. Then the left has the hutzpah to call it a "living" document!

Again, it all goes back to the false promise of the serpent: Ye shall be as gods. As Upton explains, "The primal theft was Eve's theft of the forbidden fruit. Tempted by the serpent, she took something from the Divine realm and enclosed it within the human one."

Note the similarity to what I said above about (↑) devoid of (↓): "Man can descend but not ascend on his own power, because his very existence is a gift from God; he can squander but he cannot earn" (Upton).

I would amend that slightly to say that we can earn, but only through a grace that is already operative in the form of a desire for ascent -- for purification and illumination. In other words, the desire to know God is already God. Obey your thirst!

Upton adds another important point, that "Theft, more than any other sin, is involved with concealment, since both the act and the stolen goods must be hidden." This is obvious in the case of stolen objects, but becomes much more complex when one is stealing, say, our Constitution or civilizational heritage. How does one cover up such a massive crime?

Through endless and systematic lying at the highest levels. People must be taught in such a way that the conclusions of the left become at least plausible. One such way is to teach people that their desires are rights, that their defects are society's fault, that the state is good at "solving" the human condition, that the accumulated wisdom of the past is obsolete, that what is newest is the best, and that someone else's wealth redounds to your poverty.

Something stolen cannot really be assimilated into the self. For example, one can pass a test by cheating, but that doesn't mean one has mastered the material. The initial lie will have to be followed by an even bigger lie, because one will have to pretend one has assimilated the information. One becomes a counterfeit version of oneself, a phony, which is a kind of primordial betrayal and lie.

The worst lies begin by pulling the wool over one's own eyes, or auto-flimflammery, for then one may transmit lies with an undisturbed conscience.

Souls struggling with the primordial Lie that gave them birth

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Get the Lead Out of Your Ascent: All That New Age Glitterati Isn't Gold

We are still amongst the hypocrites who labor under heavy cloaks that are gold without and lead within. Appearances notwithstanding, those new age spiritual glitterati aren't gold beneath the surface.

Which brings to mind one of Don Colacho's Aphorisms: Nothing is more irritating than the certainty with which a man who has had success in one thing gives his opinion on everything.

Speaking of which, I'm thinking of another DC, who, just because he has had success in marketing himself to morons and in pleasing the state-controlled media, believes himself fit to opine on matters of ultimate significance. (Chopra reminds us that that beacon of banality, Time magazine, literally worships him as "one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.")

Chopra accomplishes the difficult task of being simultaneously not even wrong about both science and religion -- which is a little like being given two choices in a coin toss, but losing anyway:

The "theory of evolution has proved victorious over the Book of Genesis and its story of God creating the universe in seven days. Since then, God has been found wanting when measured against facts and data. With no data to support the existence of God, there is also no reason for religion and science to close the gap between them."

As wrong as Chopra is, only a floridly psychotic person has no part of the truth, for in the absence of truth we couldn't survive. Even animals understand the laws of physics in their own way. It is very hard to be completely wrong about subjects as vast as "science" and "spirit" -- which is why charlatans proliferate in both. The hard part is to appreciate their unity without facilely distorting either.

Upton notes that the gold-plated hypocrites "have a certain ability to manifest the Spirit," but that "the whole import of the Spirit is for them materialistic; they only value the Spirit in materialistic terms."

Thus, for Chopra to suggest that "The real goal of a new science will be to expand our reality so that spiritual truths are acceptable," is precisely backward. The goal of science is science. To pretend otherwise is to elevate it to an idol. But Nothing is rarer than someone who affirms, or denies, but does not exaggerate in order to flatter or to injure (Don Colacho).

The hypocrites have a glamorous surface appearance which may appear "light," but this is only because they are actually weightless. I think all readers with rudimentary spiritual attunement will agree with me that a single aphorism of the unglamorous Don Colacho has more spiritual "heft" than the complete works of Tony Robbins, or Wayne Dyer, or any other new age guru.

Thus, "in the afterlife" the hypocrites "are weighted down by the very glittering surface that once seemed so light" (Upton). Unlike here, bullshit doesn't float in hell. Rather, like the Sheen on Charlie, it plunges to the bottom, where it belongs.

It is not surprising that the WindyHindi continues to be one of the most intransigent supporters of perhaps our most outwardly glittering president ever (at least Kennedy had some real lead in his pencil).

Nor is it surprising to us that Obama has turned out to be simultaneously leaden and yet so light in the loafers. But in the teeth of reality, Chopra maintains just the opposite, and that Americans are just too stupid to grasp it:

"Bad faith, it would seem, isn't something Americans care about as long as image works. Obama is a good-faith President who is being punished for speaking maturely and soberly about our complex problems, trying to cobble together a master plan for the future that, frankly, the majority of Americans cannot grasp."

Ho! I think he meant that "Americans cannot afford." And that he has a plan for the state to be our master.

Upton notes that the hypocrite has certain advantages over the virtuous, since he is not constrained by truth: "The con artist will commonly look more sincere than the honest man," since "he can put all his psychic energy into appearing sincere." Conversely, the honest man "will often manifest an entirely appropriate reticence -- which the hypocrite will then attempt to portray as shiftiness or dishonesty."

Inappropriate confidence is a plague of our time -- partly a reflection of the new cultural ideal of "self esteem." No one is permitted to know that they are a genuine imbecile when the imbeciles are running the show.

Upton makes the subtle point that both hypocrisy and its seeming opposite -- cynicism -- are diverse expressions of the same underlying pride. Thus, as much as, say, Bill Maher may attack Christian hypocrisy, he is psychically attracted to it in order to manage his own spiritual affairs.

For "Cynics believe that sincerity consists in exhibiting shortcomings and that to hide them is to be a hypocrite; they do not master themselves, and still less do they seek to transcend themselves" (Upton). Through this sleight of hand they are able to convert shameful failings into virtues like "authenticity." Thus, it is also an act "of theft by which the passional and egotistic soul appropriates what belongs to the spiritual soul" (ibid.).

Which reminds me of another timelessly timely aphorism of Don Colacho: The bourgeoisie is any group of individuals dissatisfied with what they have and satisfied with what they are.

In his spiritual narcissism, Chopra insists that God and truth are not to be found "in the church" but in his "personal experience." If so, then Upton has it all wrong in maintaining that he who has no Guide has Satan for a guide.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Thinking is a Relationship

An interesting little exchange occurs at the beginning of Canto XXIII, in which Dante foretells psychoanalytic truths that will not be "discovered" until the latter half of the 20th century. But then Men change ideas less than ideas change disguise. Through the course of the centuries the same voices are in dialogue (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

I am speaking of the miracle of intersubjectivity, through which human beings are able to escape the boundaries of the skin and participate in the being of another. This first occurs in infancy, and indeed, what occurs there is the foundation of what will take place later, at all stages of thought (which is a kind of relationship) and relationship (which is a kind of thinking).

The recent recognition of "emotional intelligence" obscures the fact that there is no thought without emotion, and vice versa, for to paraphrase Schuon, they are the penumbra of the Divine Light and Warmth, respectively, which can only be artificially separated.

For the first time, Dante's fear begins to spiral out of control, almost as if he is describing a panic attack. He spontaneously calls to for Virgil, who informs him that he was already aware of his internal state, for No faster could I catch your outer image / Than I receive that other from within, so that Your thoughts just now were mingled with my own.

The whole possibility of psychoanalytic therapy is predicated upon that last line: Your thoughts just now were mingled with my own. This is what is called "counter-transference." Beholden as he was to a mechanistic framework, Freud regarded this ubiquitous phenomenon as mere "noise" that the analyst needed to rise above and ignore.

But modern psychoanalysis -- which is rooted in intersubjectivity -- regards counter-transference as vitally important communication about what is really going on, both within and without the patient's psyche. To put it in colloquial terms, we are always "giving off vibrations" in everything we say and do. And these vibrations are often the source -- or expression -- of great dysfunction.

For example, some people constantly give off an aggressive, intimidating, and dominating vibe, while others transmit a weak and submissive one that alternatively says "take care of me" or "kick me." The former is sadistic, the latter masochistic, and you'd be amazed at how frequently the two manage to find one another, for an exciting "spark" is created between them that is often confused with "love."

I was just pondering this the other day, while bathing in some aphorisms of Don Colacho, who is able to reach into the depth of my soul like a handful of others -- almost as if he is "me" at a later stage of the journey. Not surprisingly, he addressed this truth in an aphorism: Phrases are pebbles that the writer tosses into the reader’s soul. The diameter of the concentric waves they displace depends on the dimensions of the pond.

In other words, he has no control over the effect of an aphorism, which largely depends upon the listener's ability to contain and kill it. I was thinking about this when imagining what a particularly cynical man of my acquaintance would think of these magnificent aphorisms, which is to say, how he would kill them in order to maintain the deadness of his soul.

In this regard, cynicism masquerades as a kind of humility when it is really a form of omniscience, an absolute faith in oneself to determine what is real and worthy of assent. The cynic bows before no one, and therefore bows before himself.

Which is not just a figure of speech, for again, in an irreducibly intersubjective world (which is actually trinitarian, more on which later), thinking is always a dialogue between two subjects. In the case of the cynic, the dialogue is between infantile omniscience and a kind of contemptible stupidity, gullibility, or trust.

This type of person cannot help encoding his message in contempt, which is the counter-transference we feel when reading, say, Paul Krugman or Richard Dawkins, or listening to Keith Olbermann or Rachel Madow. They think they are communicating ideas when they are really evacuating the unThinkable.

This verges on the featured sin in this valley of Hell, which is to say, hypocrisy. For what is hypocrisy but an absence of harmony between inside and outside, or appearance and reality? Hypocrisy is fine so long as we understand we are hypocrites, and that we will always fall short of the ideal. But the bad kind of hypocrite deals with his own shortcomings by unconsciously projecting them into others, and then attacking them.

Back to the action of the canto. Note that Dante even explicitly compares Virgil's great solicitude to that of a mother for her infant: My leader instantly laid hold of me, / Just as a mother, wakened by a noise / And seeing how the flames are near at hand, / Will snatch her child and run... / Having more care for him than for herself.

Having more care for him than for herself. Here again, this is intersubjectivity in action, the reality of a profoundly intimate connectedness which is prior to separation, especially for the infant -- both the external infant and the mother's internal infant, for the true source of the mother's empathy is a connection to her own internal frightened and distressed infant.

This is no different than any other kind of empathy, except that it is so deep as to be beyond words (infans means "incapable of speech"). It is more in the realm of gesture, facial expression (especially the eyes) and tone of voice (here again, the tone conveys much more than verbal communication; it is "music" to the infant's ears, and perhaps even the ultimate foundation of music appreciation).

Later Virgil takes more of a paternal role, Bearing me tenderly upon his breast, / More as his son than as a fellow traveler. This highlights the difference between maternal and paternal love, in that the latter is more "horizontal." Maternal love is more all-encompassing, like the background context of being itself. It can scarcely be thought about, for it is the ground of thinking.

In Hell, the hypocrites are loaded down with burdensome cloaks that are dazzling gold on the outside but heavy lead on the inside. Here we see brother Deepak paying for all that fool's gold he peddled to the credulous seekers up here.

As with the sadists and masochists, it is amazing how efficient the spiritual free market is in coordinating buyers and sellers of spirit, the omniscient mythofolkers and their contemptible crockseekers. Again, it is an interior relationship that is merely projected outward.

As Upton explains, the gold-plated and lead-poisoned hypocrites are "unlike the true spiritual Guide," because they "depend upon the projections of others in order to maintain their aura of sanctity." Like all illusions and illusionists, Deepak is just the sham total of what his dupes project into him.

This is in contrast to the true teacher -- oh, let's say, Don Colacho -- who knows that Authentic superiority is intolerable for the fool. Its simulacra, on the other hand, fascinate him.

Fascinate, from the Oxford Dictionary: ARCHAIC (esp. of a snake) deprive (a person or animal) of the ability to resist or escape the power of a look or gaze: the serpent fascinates its prey.

The road to hell is paved with good intent.

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,

and

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).