Friday, March 04, 2011

A Message from the Academy of Farts and Sinuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, I will not pull your tail again!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Armies of the Blind Clashing by Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Your Immortal Soles are in Danger!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Falling at the Speed of Lies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Walter Williams writes (HT American Digest),

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Beginner's Guide to the Beginning

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

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

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Geryons and Ligers and Snares, Oh My!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or, if you prefer a musical rendition:

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

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

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

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

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