A partly precogitated post from about 18 months ago. Why? Just because.
Actually, in retracing my steps this morning, I suppose it was prompted by this piece at American Thinker, The Community Organizer Who Would Be King
, in which Feldman touches on the fact that Americans seem to be waking up from their beautiful dream of Obama, and are pissed
. It's mourning in America. And anger is the second stage, after denial.
Obama's "delusions of grandeur have become objects of ridicule.... He may be the only person left in Washington who has not yet realized how inadequate he is to the tasks before him." As a result, "the people and the press are beginning to turn on him, and as his failures become even more obvious with each passing day, more people will feel free to attack him and his policies and their attacks will become ever more savage as the gap between the promise and reality grow ever more stark."
All true, but it's not exactly fair or mature to blame Obama, of all people. This is like giving your six year-old the keys to the car and then blaming him when he crashes it. There was never
any warrant for the inflated hopes and dreams projected into this vague nobody from nowhere, who can't even construct a coherent sentence that isn't written out for him before hand. In fact, even more basically, there is never
a warrant to project this type of energy into any
Rather, our regard should be reserved for what is true and good, not for the person who champions it -- except, of course, when doing so is at great personal peril, as, say, John Paul standing up to communism in the face of Soviet plots to assassinate him, or America's founders risking their lives, property, and sacred honor for the sake of self-evident political truth.
In short, the individual can glorify truth and decency in a penumbra of courage, prudence, or justice, but he himself is not, and cannot be, the source of truth. Truth is reality, not a politician.
Now, for the Christian, truth is indeed a person, but it is a one-time-only occurrence that should, if nothing else, temper the inveterate human tendency to elevate man to god -- which, ironically, doesn't so much speak to the recipient of the projection as to the projector.
I remember some 20+ years ago, when I was undergoing psychoanalytic therapy, I mentioned to my analyst something about a particular professor whom I idealized, and whom I thought perhaps I should be seeing in therapy instead of his mortal ass. He calmly pointed out to me that it was my own narcissistic vision of perfection that I was projecting into the professor for "safekeeping," so to speak. You might say that he was the unconscious "god of Bob" in deusguise.
In other words, it was an unconscious way of keeping the "dream of perfection" alive and safe from impingement and disappointment. Especially in hindsight, I can clearly see this. It's not that he wasn't brilliant or worthy of emulation, only that there was an additional "x-factor" coming from my end, that inflated him beyond reality.
In fact, this is often the dynamic that the cult leader preys upon to hypnotize and seduce cult members. The leader will usually have some sort of genuine gift that he uses to hook people who are prone to idealization. Thus the centrality of humility, on the one hand, and sobriety, on the other, in avoiding such entanglements.
With this in mind, the collapse of Obama should be an occasion for introspection and self-examination (in which the liberal media cannot engage and remain liberal), not just anger at, or ridicule of, Obama. Otherwise, the same people who suddenly realize he is a "dick" will have no way of seeing what dicks they are. They're just engaging in the opposite side of the same immature projective process. The only people entitled to call Obama a dick are those who always recognized it, not all these johnson-come-latlies.
This is well understood in both theory and practice. One of the things I learned from the brilliant professor mentioned above is that if a patient comes in idealizing you, watch out
, because anger is on the way. This is because projection involves either irrational idealization that conceals anger and disappointment, or irrational denigration and devaluation concealing anger at an idealized object who disappointed them in the past.
If Obama were a normal person, he wouldn't have identified
with the idealization, but would have found it deeply disconcerting. A virtue such as humility, even if only respected and not fully assimilated, would have rescued him. But as in the case of the cult leader alluded to above, the narcissist's need to be ideal finds a perfect psychic fit with the people who need to idealize.
What people don't realize is that for every narcissist there must be many "inverted narcissists," so to speak, who are as committed to the ideal as the narcissist, except in projected form (just as every abuser needs an abusee). Both the narcissist and anti-narcissist harbor the same delusion of human perfection. Indeed, there are some on the right who seem to be doing this with Sarah Palin, which can only result in a very Rude Awakening.
Anyway, here is the earlier post. Let's see if it still has anyseed to sow:
Beneath all the hysteria on both sides, it's difficult to say exactly what is going on and where it will lead. It would appear that Obama has now crossed the threshold from the "cracking" to the "collapse" stage, which no one should celebrate, any more than one should celebrate when a neurotic but still functioning person undergoes a psychological breakdown. Yes, the breakdown is necessary to reintegrate at a higher level, but even the most seasoned psychotherapist would find it difficult to have more than one or two such cases in his practice.
First of all, we don't have any idea how Obama, whose privileged life as a leftist mascot has shielded him from any accurate feedback about himself, will react to the impingement of reality. With anger? Depression? Vindictiveness? There is simply no way of predicting how such an emotionally immature person will react under stress, and this should be cause for concern to us all. Suffice it to say that he will not be able to handle it with the grace and dignity that President Bush did during the left's 4,204,800 Minutes Hate (not counting leap years). Notice that he never lashed back in kind.
Importantly, the President is not just the leader, but the collective fantasy leader
, and when people feel their organizing fantasies slip away, they experience a tidal wave of irrational anxiety -- the very anxiety that had been "contained" by the perception of a strong fantasy leader. Again, despite his economically destructive and self-defeating policies, one must nevertheless give FDR credit for remaining a strong fantasy leader who kept the nation from crumbling into psychotic anxiety. Suffice it to say, Obama is not this kind of *man*.
In 1994, President Clinton had the good sense to bring in a "group therapist" -- albeit a sleazy and manipulative one to match his own character-- Dick Morris, who was able to help him make sense of reality and to adjust his policies accordingly. But Obama may be too proud and too brittle -- not to mention, too ideological -- to make this adjustment. But if he fails to do so, it will only ensure further crumbling, and at some point the collective anxiety will turn to rage. Again, the rage may feel empowering to those who harbor it, but few people make good decisions when angry.
In order to understand the depth of Obama's fall, one must reexamine the ridiculous heights to which he was elevated. Remember, when a man falls, he only falls back to the ground with the rest of us. But if he was absurdly elevated through primitive fantasy, this tends to create a "snap-back" phenomenon, through which the person crashes through
the ground. For example, let's say that the person is up in the rarified world of +12 fantasy (which one might think of as a "positive mind parasite"). When he crumbles, he will snap down into -12 anti-fantasy. Then the people will blame him for ruining their fantasy of him.
This is because the narcissist specifically develops his narcissistic defenses to shield himself from the unconscious belief that he is worthless. This is why the narcissist's defenses are so brittle, and why they so easily cast people under their ever-ready bus. With even a hint that you are not propping them up with idealization, under the bus you go.
Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair.... The tens of thousands of new voters Obama brought to the polls tonight came because he wrapped them in that experience, because he let them touch politics as it could be, rather than merely as it is.
A black man with a white mother became a savior to us. A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall.... This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better.... If you look at Barack Obama's audiences and look at the effect of his words, those people are being transformed.
Continuing with our analysis of the Devil Card, our Unknown Friend
(UF) writes that the excesses of the left are always "owing to an intoxication
of the will and imagination which engenders demons."
For example, if Marx and Engels had merely behaved as good Jews or Christians and "simply defended the interests of the industrial workers without having let themselves be carried away by their intoxicated imagination," then their ideas wouldn't have been so apocalyptically destructive. After all, every spiritually normal person wants to help the deserving poor and needy, but it is axiomatic that helping the human animal while killing the human soul renders any spiritual benefit inoperative for both parties.
Further, as Schuon commented, "Progressivism is the wish to eliminate effects without wishing to eliminate their causes..." To paraphrase him, the leftist wishes to make himself as useful as possible to a collectivity which renders the individual as useless as possible in the process. But,
"one must never lose sight of the fact that there exists no higher usefulness than that which envisages the final ends of man. By its divorce from traditional truth... society forfeits its own justification, doubtless not in a perfunctorily animal sense, but in the human sense. This human quality implies that the collectivity, as such, cannot be the aim and purpose of the individual but that, on the contrary, it is the individual who, in his 'solitary stand' before the Absolute and in the exercise of his supreme function, is the aim of purpose of collectivity. Man, whether he be conceived in the plural or the singular, or whether his function be direct or indirect, stands like 'a fragment of absoluteness' and is made for the Absolute.... In any case, one can define the social in terms of truth, but one cannot define truth in terms of the social."
Moreover, the left always couches their supposed empathy for the downtrodden in fantastically broad and sweeping generalizations of historical "and even cosmic significance, such as the statement that God does not exist, that all religion is is only the 'opium of the people,' [and] that all ideology is only a superstructure on the basis of material interests." UF wrote this in the early '60s, but it is no different today, with the intoxication that fueled and pervaded the Obama campaign:
"What we hear from Obama is the eternal mantra of the socialists; America is broken, millions have no health care, families cannot afford necessities, the rich are evil, we are selfish, we are unhappy, unfulfilled, without hope, desperate, poverty stricken, morally desolate, corrupt and racist. This nihilism is the lifeblood of all the democrat candidates.... When Michelle Obama claims she is only newly proud of her country, she does not exaggerate. In her world as in Obama's, they believe we are a mess, a land filled with the ignorant and unenlightened, filled with despair" (Fairchok
Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes, not divine, but demonic.
--Pope Benedict XVI
As UF writes, it is always a "matter of excess -- a going beyond the limits of competence and sober and honest knowledge," which the left never doubts, "having been carried away by the intoxicating impulse of radicalism, i.e., by a fever of the will and imagination to change everything utterly at a single stroke."
It is this fever dream of sweeping existential change
that animates the left no less than the Islamists, since both deny the possibility of real
spiritual change, which is an individual matter; in the deepest sense, man's existential situation cannot be altered, only transcended.
As Lee Harris has written, a fantasy ideology such as Islamism is obviously not a rational response to the world arrived at in a logical, sober manner. Rather, it is a transformative
belief, meaning that its primary purpose is to psychologically transform the person who believes the fantasy. And believing the fantasy is an end in itself -- it has no purpose other than to make the fantasy seem like reality -- as if it might actually be true. Therefore, the real reason for 9-11 wasn't actually to bring down western civilization -- which only the left can do anyway, from within. Rather, it was for the Islamists to deepen their trance.
Likewise, anyone with a basic familiarity with economics knows that leftist ideas don't just fail, but backfire. They cause all sorts of unintended consequences that the leftist never connects to the original policy -- e.g., how the welfare state eroded the structure of the black family, how racial quotas inevitably harm blacks, how rent control causes housing shortages, how subsidizing higher education simply drives up the cost, how socialized medicine leads to rationing, and how the government forcing banks to make bad loans to unqualified people is at the epicenter of today's economic problems.
Now, UF explains that the virtue of temperence
protects us from the intoxicating counter-inspiration of radical fantasies -- including religious fantasies, which are not actually religious but manmade. As such, it is foolish to blame God or religion for things that emanate from the lower vertical in man.
UF makes the subtle point that one cannot in reality engender a positive
collective mind parasite. This is related to the principle that the mind parasite is an effect of "congealed" or "coagulated" psychic energy. As a result, it always "enfolds," whereas the good radiates
The former is an inward, contracting movement, whereas the latter is an expansive, radiant movement. This may sound overly abstract, but we are all familiar with the ontologically closed world of the left, whether it is their elite university campuses or the myopi-ed page of the New York Times. If you approach these things with your charlatan-activated cʘʘnvision, you can literally experience them as a sort of dense, black hole of "inverse radiation."
Now, why did people respond to, say, Ronald Reagan? For the opposite reason -- the radiant positive energy of which he was a mere vehicle. This only became more apparent when placed side by side with Jimmy Carter's withered and constipated presence.
I suppose the novel thing about Obama is that he is selling the same constipation, but with a kind of cheap and meretricious radiation that one must be intoxicated to appreciate. Indeed, as Fairchok writes,
"That is his appeal; he is [ironically] an actor, a performer, a cinematic presence that stirs simple emotions, emotions that have little grounding in truth. His speeches are the inane lyrics to a popular song that endures only because it has a great beat. One must not think too deeply on what Obama says, for it turns to smoke and disappears in the light of day. Ezra Klein is correct, Obama's speeches do not inform, they pander, they propagandize, they harmonize with the mythology of despair and the chimera of entitlement. As his hagiographies proclaim, he represents a new Camelot, but one that does not hold America quite so precious, a Camelot of globalists, moral relativists and communitarians."
Now, how to drive out a demon? Easy. As UF explains, "Light drives out darkness. This simple truth is the practical key to the problem of how to combat demons. A demon perceived, i.e. on whom the light of consciousness is thrown, is already a demon rendered impotent.... A demon rendered impotent is a deflated balloon."
As the farcical Marx taught us, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. But what comes after that? We're still dealing with the tragedy of the New Deal and the farce of the Great Society. No doubt Obama is a farce to be reckoned with, but I see two possibilities. If we divide history into Petey's descending stages of Gods, Kings, Men, Weasels, Beasts, and Chaos, I think FDR would be the king, LBJ the man. Clinton the weasel.
This would suggest that we are about to enter a beastly chaos, from which the only solution would be the return to a new age of gods, or, more properly, God. God or chaos. Vertical Man or horizontal beast. Sounds about right. We're back to first principles, and it's cosmogenesis all over again.
Now those memories come back to haunt me,
they haunt me like a curse.
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true,
or is it something worse?
That sends me down to the river,
though I know the river is dry.
--Bruce Springsteen, The River