Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hurtling Downward Faster than the Speed of Light?

Ironically, one result of modern rationalism has been the ascendence of emotion and sentiment as the leading edge of thought.

Specifically, because emotion is denied as a source of genuine knowledge (both gross because irrelevant and subtle because impossible), the rationalist imagines he can think without it. This only causes the untutored sentiments to take their vengeance on the mind that denies them. One sees this in every feeling-based modernist movement from doctrinaire atheism, to radical secularism, to metaphysical Darwinism, to any form of leftism.

This occurred to me while reading a passage of Schuon. He mentions that while "there are no doubt contemporary philosophical problems," there are nevertheless "no intellectual needs so particular to our time as to render incomprehensible those of our fathers."

Interestingly, the older I get and wiser -- or less dense -- I become, the more true this is. To put it another way, the younger I was, the more drawn I was to the new, the novel, the modern and up-to-date. Now I wonder what "needs" these were addressing, because I now regard the "solutions" as hopelessly superficial and beside the point. They do not address man as he is, but as they wish him to be. But if man were really that way, their solutions would be unnecessary.

Last night I happened to see a short clip of Reagan from before he was president, and remembered how much I despised him back in the 1980s. When I saw the clip, it gave me a totally spontaneous and unmediated "good feeling" about the man. Without knowing anything else about him, there was a prior response of warmth and even trust.

You might say that my present feelings toward Obama are the mirror image of the feelings I had thirty years ago about Reagan. But you would be wrong. Several trolls have made this charge, and superficially it makes sense: I am the same person, but I have, for whatever reason, attached my toxic emotions to a new object of scorn.

But last night, after seeing the short clip of Reagan, I wondered if, thirty years from today, I might happen to see a short clip of Obama on my implanted biocomputer screen and have that same spontaneous emotional reaction of warmth and good will.

No. That is impossible, because the change I have endured is not of the "flip-flop" variety, but rather, of the evolutionary and non-linear type.

Also, in order to revert backward, I would have to "unknow" so much I have learned over the last thirty years, that I would no longer be I.

If anyone should believe in progress it is the self-styled "progressive," but in reality, progressive belief is the one thing in the world that isn't subject to the universal decay that flows from their cosmic nihilism. Empires come and go, but socialism is forever.

It is indeed true that "real knowledge has no history" (Schuon). But the progressive lives in hopeless contradiction, for he posits a world with no transcendent ground and therefore no permanent truths.

Just as Darwinism mandates that every species is an accident on the way to either extinction or another transitional species, it also means that today's truth becomes tomorrow's obsolete opinion, convention, and myth. Except for metaphysical Darwinism, which abides in a transcendent world of permanent truth, right alongside Obama's campaign promises.

It is similar to the supposedly faster-than-light neutrinos we learned about last week. The problem isn't that this is merely a new physical "fact" to be piled atop all the others.

Rather, if true, it would be a fact that unexplains everything else physicists "know" about the foundations of the natural world. Some facts are puzzle pieces, others are explosive devices. This is a neutrino bomb that leaves physicists standing while utterly blowing their minds.

But irrespective of whether we are in for a new physical paradigm, nothing about intelligence itself will have changed. And this is why revelation does not change, because it is and always will be conformed to man. It is addressed to "certain constants of intelligence" (Schuon), which is another way of saying that the intellect is not just in conformity to truth, but ultimately of the same "substance," which is being itself.

Thus, one might say that revelation is a communication of being from (future or timeless) Self to (present or temporal) self. And a modern man is simply "a man who forgets what is known about man" (Don Colacho), which cannot be forgotten without ceasing to be one.

In any event, the mind can readily assimilate any merely scientific finding without ceasing to be what it is. Man will always be higher than that which he knows; if he is lower, then he cannot know (truth), period.

To put it another way, the mind can only accept aberrations such as atheism or metaphysical Darwinism as a consequence of not being what it is.

We could say the same of leftism, being that it elevates man's fleeting desires to timeless and universal rights, and these new rights to someone else's obligation to fulfill them.

In short, it redounds to a tyranny of government of, by, and for the ungovernable. When we devolve from principle to accident, from idea to fact, and from intellect to feeling, we likewise justify any collective action to nurture or remedy these good or bad feelings.

For our founders, democracy was rooted in the conviction that all citizens are capable of being either ruler or ruled. Therefore, people who are incapable of self-rule are specifically unfit to engage in democracy. If you cannot even master your own domain, how can you presume to be sovereign over others?

But in the world of the left, these objectively disordered souls -- or the elected proxies who gain power in exchange for indulging and ministering to them -- become the rulers and exploiters of the self-governed. Their world is precisely ass-backward.

And we mean this literally, since it places man's worthless excreta at the top, and his head -- his truth-metabolizing intellect -- at the bottom. Is it any wonder we've been hurtling downward for the last three years even faster than usual?

It may look as if this is occurring faster than the Light which can save us. But this is only an illusion, for darkness doesn't actually move. It only enshrouds.

Real wisdom does not fade with age any more than does real art. Conceptualist relativism abolishes truth in order to set in its place a blind and heavy biological pseudo-reality. --F. Schuon

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Original Synergy: Nobody Ever Got Spiritually Rich On His Own

Matus writes that "All Christians are, or should be, in some sense, mystics," in that "their faith ought to give them a new vision" and "a different consciousness of themselves, of other persons, and of God." It should gradually penetrate "to the deepest levels of consciousness," slowly and sometimes imperceptibly transforming "their motives, thought patterns, and emotional reflexes." I say "imperceptibly" because it is difficult to remember the assoul we might have become absent the transformation.

Now, Schuon writes that "a metaphysical doctrine is the incarnation in the mind of a universal truth."

Thus, what was said in the first paragraph about the transformative power of faith is a result of the gradual "incarnation of truth," so to speak. Before it is a "cognitive truth" it is an ontological truth, i.e., truth of being.

For example, Symeon didn't understand what was happening when it was happening, since it occurs on a vertical plane that is ontologically prior to thought. When first granted a vision of the Light, he "was at a loss to tell what was happenning; who or what the light was did not emerge at the level of conceptual understanding," of the "conscious psyche" or ego (Matus).

For this reason, in the obscure "One Cosmos" book mentioned in last Thursday's post, the enigmatic author uses the symbol (?!) to categorize the spontaneous mystical experience without thereby limiting it with some superficial manmode cognitive definition.

In these matters -- no different than in a neurosis -- thought can be and often is a defense against experience.

Indeed, this is the self-imposed barrier faced by the gorgon-variety ovary-tower intellectual, who cannot climb in from the comfortable little cage she has fashioned for herself at our expense.

In a passage ripped from the One Cosmos praybook, Matus writes of how for Symeon the vision was "an 'unexpected wonder' which left him filled with 'amazement' but with little understanding."

Rarely does an individual pass their whole life before their I experiences one of these metaphysical freebies.

But many people -- especially the cagebound intellectuals mentioned above -- treat these peek experiences (in which we are granted a peek behind the veil) as mere anomalies to be unexplained away. They exercise a pathological foreclosure of curiosity (-o), ensuring that this experience, so fraught with potential meaning, is just "meaningless."

The (?!) is the ingression of a grace that tells us, among others, that there are more things in heaven and earth than these intellectual whoratios dream up in their philosophy departments and law schools.

Thus, the last thing we should do is close ourselves to the experience. After all, if everyone had done that, we'd still be indistinguishable from apes and liberals. Truth, beauty, virtue, art, music, poetry -- anythink that requires contact with the Subject beyond (and before and behind) would be off limits.

So Symeon did not reject the gift of (?!), but set out in pursuit of its source, of what it meant: "His life thereafter became a progressive initiation into the meaning of his visions" (Matus). This is indeed the Way of the Raccoon: to follow the sparks back upsdream to that big whole in the ground of being.

For Symeon, this upward and inword journey is at the same time "a restoration and reintegration of our original condition." The journey is not from a "here" to a "there" in any Euclidian sense.

Rather, it is via a kind of transpersonal membrane, so to speak, through which energies flow back and forth. Thus, the key practical principle is "openness," or what the tri-curious One Cosmos author symbolizes (o).

From another angle, Schuon describes our spiritual membrain as follows: "[H]uman intelligence makes itself similar to its own universal Essence, thanks to a sort of reciprocity between thought and Reality."

Or in other words, thought makes itself similar to truth, not vice versa. We do not begin with an axiom but an experience, for no axiom can wholly contain the experience. The attempt to do so is like "a man trying to draw the geometrical point by setting out to make it as small as possible" (ibid.).

But just as there is in physics Planck's Constant, which is the smallest unit of energy, there is on our being a constant plank we walk between I, Thou, and the Love and Truth that freely pass between. Truth embraces us, not vice versa.

It is preferable to use these empty symbols because we again don't want to assume too much about what they symbolize. For one thing, as Symeon suggests, it is not actually "possible to distinguish divine activity (or energy) within us from our own," or what is "'infused' from what is 'acquired.'"

One might say that it is always a trynergy, or a case of "yours, mine, and ours," unmixed and inseparable. There can be no sharp "division of labor" between Creator and creature, for nobody gets spiritually rich on his own, only impoverished, both spiritually and, as a consequence, intellectually and politically.

We might say that the above-noted membrane is a kind of light-transducer, no different from any other sense. For example, our eyes transduce photons into the experience we call "light," just as our ears transduce air vibrations into "sound." What the One Cosmos author calls (¶) tranduces (↓) into (n).

You don't even have to know what this means to know that it is true. Not only is it the equation of your birth, but we might say that it is the "Christmas presence" or "Christ principle," in that 〇 (↓) (¶) so that (¶) might (↑) 〇. If we succeed, we are ʘ, so not to speak. (And I do hope that was sufficiently unclear).

Please note that this is of necessity a neverending -- which is to say, alwaysbeginning -- process. Symeon, writing of himself in the third person, says that "If he would wish to write down his experiences, he would run out of paper and ink -- I don't think there would be enough time for him to describe them all in detail."

This, of course, brings to mind the Apostle's dilemma described in the last paragraph of John. Who has the necessary timelessness?! Mine just ran out.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why Give an Enema to a Dead Atheist?

My favorite chapter so far in Yoga and the Jesus Prayer is on Symeon the New Theologian, who seems to be far better known in the east than by Catholics and Protestants.

Although Symeon lived around the time of Y1K, his theology still strikes me as new and improved. He is responsible for drawing the critical distinction between God's essence and energies, only the latter of which are communicated to, and accessible by, human beings.

And when you think about it, this is no different than it is for any other "person," for no matter how close one is to another, one can never directly know their essence, only its appearance and effects.

Naturally we don't think about this when it is occurring, but meaningful speech, for example, involves the transformation of one's essence into air vibrations projected from the respiratory system, causing resonance in some tiny bones located in two holes in another person's head, in the hope that the vibrations will be reassembled into a facsimile of the original "thought," and all it implies.

It's rather remarkable that it works at all, although we generally treat it as exceptional when someone doesn't understand. That our trolls do not understand us is clear enough. But why should they? My energies are reassembled in their heads into something that doesn't resemble the original experience -- O -- with which they proceed to "disagree," and even "attack." I'm not sure how this differs from masturbation.

Importantly, even when successful communication occurs, it doesn't mean that there has been any "mixture" of essences. Thus, as it pertains to God, or O, Symeon provides a model in which there is "a true participation in the divine nature, yet without mixture or union of essences" (Matus). You are still you and God is still God, and yet, there is an intimate communion. Indeed, communion is only possible in a context of difference: two is only possible because of One.

Having said that, it is also true that divine knowledge couldn't be communicated at all in the absence of something inside us that "awaits" and is conformed to it, so to speak. To use a horizontal analogy, the infant is born "awaiting" the breast; there exists a preconception of its later fulfillment by experience. The same is true of any archetype. We are not "blank slates," but come into the world ready to learn, but not just anything.

I might add that one of the insurmountable problems of leftism is that it not only denies our archetypal nature, but tries to superimpose a psychic scaffolding of its own pseudo-archetypes and "values."

Nowhere was this more obvious than in the French Revolution, but now they try to do the same thing in slightly less clumsy ways. In France they abolished the old holy-days and created new ones. They also invented a new calendar that began in 1789, consciously suggesting that nothing prior to that was of any value, but unconsciously equating the Incarnation and the Revolution: man is now God, rather than vice versa.

Regarding our "pre-knowledge" of God, Schuon says that it is analogous to "a divine seed in the heart," with the result that our thoughts are "only very faint glimmers from it." These preconceptual seeds are "an imprint of the divine Light on human darkness," which is why we may "understand" revelation and scripture, precisely.

In the absence of the divine seed, theology -- and the experiences it is anchored in -- would be just as absurd as cognitively crippled atheists make it out to be.

Which is why, in the words of Schuon, "To prove the Absolute is, according to the intellectual conditions of the environment, either the easiest or the most difficult of things."

To be sure, not all atheists are clinically autistic, for there is usually a transparent element of "willfulness" rooted in ambivalence toward someone from the past (i.e., an internal object), and which causes them to narcissistically overvalue the ephemeral cognitive flatulence of a monkey brain that can have no value whatsoever in the absence of the absolute they deny up front. This is why talking to them is so often like trying to put a round peg into an assoul.

Remember what was said above about the transformation of experience to thought, to sound vibrations, and eventually back to thought and experience. Schuon writes that certain men of a "rationalizing disposition are ever haunted by thoughts" (emphasis mine).

Such a person is naturally plagued and even defined by doubt, since there is no thought that cannot be contradicted by another. Thus, these cynics do not perceive "the realities of which [traditional ] doctrines treat" and end up objectivizing "their own limitations," at which point they are granted tenure. And then they accuse us of worshipping a god we have created!

But in reality, "a metaphysical doctrine is the incarnation in the mind of a universal truth." Right? If that weren't the case, then there would be no way to prove anything. Which is why, prior to actualizing this or that seed, a kind of cultivation of the soil is necessary; one must "awaken the intellectual faculty in oneself," and not just superimpose a man-made formulation upon realities that are not explained by, but rather, explain, reason itself.

Note also what becomes of those seeds that are planted only by man. If we are lucky, they come to nothing, or we can pull their shoots from our garden before they take over. These are no more "natural" than some unwanted plant that takes over a field that has been over-cultivated. Soon the field is filled with weeds that are not indigenous to the soil.

This is what the leftist educational establishment does to the fertile souls of innocent children, and it is a perfectly wicked thing to do. It is no wonder they embrace the enfeebled philosophies they do, for their only hope is that God is not just. (Today's example.)

Back to St. Symeon. What makes him so provocative is that he is not dealing in concepts but in experience. While he naturally must deploy symbols to convey the experience, one must transform the symbols back to experience, not just thought per se. This is what makes him the "new theologian," since the "old theologian" deals in concepts but not the experience beneath them. Thus, there are plenty of old theologians walking around. Probably most theologians are of that type, at least as far as I can tell.

Schuon said another helpful thing regarding this problem. That is, "to live in thoughts is continually to replace one set of concepts by another." As a result, these concepts "are worn threadbare without any possibility of their being replaced, on this level, by something better."

This is another way of saying that they become saturated without ever even "fulfilling" us. It is like filling up on some space-filling but nutritionally empty food.

Conversely, the experiential and trans-conceptual food of divine revelation is both nutritious and filling, but not only that. It is also generative, radiant, and compellingly alive. But how could one ever transmit this "aliveness" via sound vibrations, especially if the soul on the other end is more or less "dead" by cluelesside?

Reminds me of the only joke my Jewish bubby-in-law, Hannah, ever told. It had to do with an argument over giving an enema to a dead man. I just remember the punchline: "It can't hurt."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Christian Yoga and How to Keep Your Camel Happy

Might be time for a change of subject. What began as a three hour tour of Heaven and Earth has drifted into a desert isle of 98 recycled episodes.

At this point, my original impetus is so far back in my seerview mirror -- plus I ventured into so many provocative snidetrips -- that I've lost the plot. So, just read the book! I really enjoyed it, and it obviously provided much thought for food. (My site meter informs me that Spengler will be reviewing it in the upcoming issue of First Things. Looking forward to his take.)

In the process of thinking about this millennium business -- and how to defend against it -- I was directed by Petey to an obscure book I had read many years ago, but didn't get much out of at the time. It has the provocative title, Yoga and the Jesus Prayer. Originally published in back in 1984, it seems that it has been republished by a company called -- no surprise -- O Books.

Hmm. I wonder what else they've published? Ah, here.

First of all, why "O"? "O is a symbol of the world, of oneness and unity; this eye represents knowledge and insight." O, I get it!

Here are some of their titles: Reality Transurfing. Shapeshifting into Higher Consciousness. How to Cheer Up a Capricorn. 7 Aha's of Highly Enlightened Souls. 101 Helpful Illusions. The Bible in Limerick Verse. The Boring Bible Series. Christianity in 10 Minutes.

And of course, the all time classic, A Clean Camel is a Happy Camel.

Now, why did I think this book might have something to do with the millennium? Well, because Judaism, Christianity, and certain types of yoga maintain the correct balance, or complementarity, between the millennium, or eschaton, and the now. All millennial movements (i.e., the bad ones described by Landes) essentially try to -- in Voegelin's famous formulation -- immanetize the eschaton:

"In political theory and theology, to immanentize the eschaton means trying to bring about the eschaton (the final, heaven-like stage of history) in the immanent world. It has been used by conservative critics, foremost William F. Buckley, as a pejorative reference to certain utopian projects, such as socialism, communism and transhumanism. In all these contexts it means "trying to make that which belongs to the afterlife happen here and now (on Earth)" or "trying to create heaven here on Earth."

Here is a typical example plucked at random, spouted a few years ago by some obscure community agitator:

"I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment -- this was the time -- when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals."

Despite the patent absurdity of such an impossibility, this type of thinking never goes out of fascism. You might think that modern Americans -- cynical journalists, jaded baby boomers who learned not to trust authority, people with advanced degrees from our finest educational institutions -- are too sophisticated to fall for such nonsense, but you ignore it at your peril.

Mark my words: some day, an obscure messianic figure will emerge as if from "nowhere" and seduce the left in just this manner, with catastrophic consequences to our economy, our national security, and our very future.

So anyway, I'm rereading Yoga and the Jesus Prayer, and this time I'm getting something out of it. What most surprises me is how closely it conforms to another obscure book called One Cosmos under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit, which is in many ways an attempt to cast yoga in Christian terms, except without saying so, i.e., keeping it all unsaturated through the use of empty but "pre-structured" categories awaiting fulfillment or realization.

Matus provides the key to our whole innerprize on p. 1, describing tantric yoga as a spiritual approach affirming "that matter and the body and the senses have deep spiritual value and can be seen as a providential means of spiritual transformation."

Tantric yoga "takes humanity as it is: incarnate, worldly, and temporal. It offers a goal which is not liberation from the human condition but the realization of freedom in time, the world, and the flesh" (you might say that "the Truth will set you free").

In this abstract definition, Both Judaism and Christianity would indeed be forms of "tantric yoga," since the emphasis is on transformation in this world, not escape (or ascent) into a higher one. The latter idea is especially foreign to Judaism, hence its focus on the joys of family, on sensual pleasure, and on the glory of wisdom.

But the same principle obviously defines Christianity (properly understood), since its irreducible essence is Trinity and Incarnation, or relationship and embodiment. It is ultimately a transcendence-in-immanence, and therefore an immanence-in-transcendence. For example, as Matus describes it,

"All experience points beyond the dichotomies of self and other, of subject and object, because it really unites the knower to the known and to the universe which encompasses them both."

Furthermore, "Faith is a way of knowing which points beyond the world, because it is real, personal contact with the Creator." It is a "kind of experience" whereby we become aware of the infusion of "a grace which transforms the believer's mind, heart, and senses" thus revealing "the personal presence of the living God."

So any act of knowing, which seems to result from a prior division of the world in two -- subject and object -- is in reality the revelation of One; or actually, one-in-three, i.e., knower-known-knowledge (just as love is always lover-beloved-and the exchange of love in between).

In the One Cosmos book, the author uses the symbol (↓) as an empty placeholder for experience of the grace. Thus, the word "grace" literally means nothing until it is experienced, i.e., until (↓) accumulates experiential content.

The grace is "pure," at least until it comes into contact with human beastlings, which the author symbolizes (•). As described by Matus, in "Christian experience, the consciousness of the believer's transformation by grace needs to be constantly purified. This process of purification involves the dialectic of alternating states, of ups and downs," of "presence" followed by "absence" and back again.

Hello again, Noumenon!

Matus is in full communion with Raccoon principles in noting that a symbol, as we understand it (i.e., as an empty pneumaticon), "reflects and anticipates the process of growth toward final perfection, both individual and collective."

It also reflects "the intrinsic bipolarity of human nature and the challenge of our existence, between conceptual and non-conceptual knowing, between our being-in-the-world and our ontological tension toward God." Note that this necessary tension is precisely what millennial movements deny.

Now, there isn't actually just the One-way movement of (↓). Rather, there is always, or should be, a circular, or spiraling, movement of (↓↑). Thus, in tantrism the point is "to pass from the gross to the subtle, but then to permeate the gross with the value and meaning of the subtle" (Matus, emphasis mine).

And with that, I'd better stop for now. Long day of work ahead. My camel is filthy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

All Men are Created Equally Racist

As mentioned yesterday, the group -- the interior collective -- shouldn't be thought of as a "location," but rather, a conception. It is only when -- and because -- everyone has the same group conception that we don't see it. It's analogous to, say, an accent. We don't notice our own, so long as we live in a region in which everyone has the same one (although I really don't have one).

Furthermore, it might even be said that the group is a "part" of the individual's functioning, as is, somewhat paradoxically, the "individual." Again, there is always this dynamic complementarity of group <--> individual taking place, out of which our sense of self emerges.

Think of the so-called Palestinians, who claim to want a "state." But they've had a remarkably stable one for 63 years. It is a state of mind that makes them one of the most depraved cultures on the planet, since it is centered around everything that is wrong with human beings: bigotry, hatred, envy, child abuse, misogyny, scapegoating, systematic lying, sacrificial violence, etc.

The Palestinians have exactly the state which they and other Arabs wish them to have. Now they want the world to officially recognize this state of mind by drawing external boundaries around it, presumably on the pretext that this nasty state of cultural mind results from a lack of said boundaries.

Which is more than a little condescending, because for the Palestinians, it is not a nasty, much less dysfunctional, state of mind. After all, doesn't everyone want to exterminate the Jews? The Palestinians believe -- and have every right to do so, given the amount of foreign aid that flows their way -- that "we just have the balls to actually do what everyone else is only thinking."

Hitler felt the same way -- that he was doing the world a huge favor -- at great inconvenience I might add, since genocide can be a messy and thankless job. Look at the poor Turks. Not only does no one thank them for the Armenian genocide, but they have to pretend it never happened. Is the world upside-down?

Ironically, I've been reading Jaffa's classic works on Lincoln, who, at risk of putting words in his mouth, believed that there was only one type of government worth creating and fighting for, since its principles were universal. Any other type of state is just one of the many masks of tyranny, so why should Americans, of all people, grant it any legitimacy? To paraphrase Tolstoy, just governments are all alike; every unjust government is unjust in its own way.

The whole thing reminds me of the words of young Nelson on the Simpsons, whose mother is an alcoholic pole dancer: "I gotta get home. My mom gets upset if she wakes up and no one's there to tell her where she is. Heh.... typical mom."

"I gotta get to the UN and vote on Palestinian statehood. They'll go all intifada on us and start blowing up their kids if we don't give them a state. Heh... typical culture."

Jaffa shows that Lincoln -- his homespun demeanor to the contrary notwithstanding -- spent his life thinking long and hard about just this subject -- almost as if he were being prepared for the messianic (this time in the real sense) task before him, which is to say, a new birth of freedom, only this time truly universal. In one sense, our Fathers (as he always called them) did all of the heavy lifting, so it was only for subsequent generations to transmit it intact to the next.

But everyone knew that there was something at the heart of the matter -- a snake in the garden, a rot at the foundation, a stark internal contradiction -- that threatened to delegitimize the whole noble experiment. For if one man has the intrinsic right to enslave another man, then no man is free, and self-government is a chimera.

Rather, the only consistent principle in which self-rule may be grounded is: all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator -- not by any state, and certainly not any culture -- with certain unalienable rights. This principle cannot be contingent or accidental. Rather, it must be essential, i.e., "self-evident."

And please note that "self-evident" doesn't only pertain to material or efficient causes located in the "past," but to final and ontological causes located both in the future and in the upper vertical.

What I mean by this is that the self-evidence of the proposition only becomes fully clear by virtue of believing and living it. As such, it is very much analogous to faith, which must be similarly lived in order to yield its harvest.

Was that clear? Perhaps not. What it means is that there is a manner in which man was meant to live, and in the absence of which he cannot thrive. It is like saying, "we hold this truth to be self-evident, that babies need maternal love in order to thrive." "But how do you know that? Show me the scientific study that proves there's such a thing as 'love.'"

Well, just see what happens if you deprive the child of this vital substance. He will be alive, but not really. He'll still be human, but only technically, in the sense that he will have been blocked from becoming what he should have. Likewise, it is partly because America was grounded in human truth that it became the most prosperous, powerful, and decent nation in history.

For Lincoln, the above-noted principle embodied in the Declaration is "an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times"; and in order to be secure from those who would deny it, it "must be grounded in a reality that is not itself timebound" (Jaffa). How much political mischief could be avoided if only members of both parties acknowledged this American creed, our "political religion," that was once held sacred by all citizens!

Which brings up a critical point regarding the left's constant refrain that we must seek "compromise," which essentially means that we must not only acknowledge their principles as valid, but respect and ultimately cave into them.

Yes, they are absolutely correct that politics is the art of compromise. But on policies, not on principles. If we cannot agree on the same principles, then compromise is actually impossible.

For example, what is the compromise position between "Israel has a right to exist" and "Israel must be purged of every single Jewish man, woman and child"? What, just exterminate some Jews?

Likewise, what is the compromise position between "all men are created equal" and "some men are created equal," or "all men are somewhat equal," or "the state shall determine who is equal"? Answer: there isn't one. Hence, war.

Just as we have been involved in a war of Jihad for 60 years (great book) without acknowledging it, so too have we been involved in an interior war that is once again striking at the heart of our political religion and tearing us in two. This began in the open latrine of academia, seeped into the streams of the MSM, polluted the groundwater of public education, and now flows from every faucet of culture.

"[I]n our time, historicism and its offspring nihilism have continued to dominate the blind mice of academic discourse." That is to say, "in denying the possibility of moral and political principles that transcend time, historicism denies the possibility of rational judgment of men and events within historic time" (Jaffa).

Do you see why? Because there is no objective standard with which to judge. Who are you to say that Israeli culture is superior to Arab culture? What, are you a racist?

Truly, we are well past the point of absurdity when to affirm that "all men are created equal" is to admit to racism.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why are Liberals Out of their Minds?

The child's inner life and interaction with the environment are repeated in groups and form a conceptual model for a process in which the group forms a cohesive entity, defines boundary conditions and roles, and copes with new issues of power, task and intimacy.

So say the authors of Object Relations, The Self and the Group. Our purpose here is to see if the model described therein helps to account for the otherwise inexplicably irrational millennial beliefs, discourse, and behavior we have been discussing in recent posts.

Although we take it for granted, the human group is a very mysterious thing, since it mostly exists -- and must first exist -- in the mind of the group member, in the subject.

The first group -- the group into which we are all initiated -- is the mother-infant dyad. As we have said before, this is more of a biological category, certainly for all other animals. But for human beings, it takes on an entirely different meaning and significance, based upon what happens later, as we develop (which continues -- or should continue -- for the rest of our lives).

The mother-infant group must be viewed in a complementary fashion, as a kind of oneness-in-twoness and twoness-in-oneness. From the subjective at-one-ment of life in the womb -- warm, dark, silent (except for the mother's voice and beating heart), and free of want, i.e., desire -- the baby is suddenly plunged into a new existence with which it must cope and to which it must adapt.

Thus, the (external) maternal environment necessarily partakes of the existential categories of prenatal existence, and much of the mother's task involves easing the shock of the transition. This is something mothers instinctively know how to do, unless the species wisdom has been maimed by graduate school or feminist ideology.

The point is, from the perspective of the infant -- and this becomes obvious when you think about it -- the existence of Two comes as the shock of a lifetime. Indeed, many of us never recover. Many patients prefer the prior oneness, and therefore shun deep relationships and draw back from intimacy.

Others, for various reasons, are terrified by the devouring maternal oneness in their developmental rear-view mirror, and compulsively seek others to whom they may "adhere" in an immature manner.

For Ashbach and Schermer, "groups, in their evolution, embody and recapitulate the symbiosis/separation-individuation process" outlined by Margaret Mahler. This latter theory "asserts that mentation is established in interaction with significant others, so that to think and to experience is also to participate in a transactional situation."

For example, at this very moment, I am aware of thinking, which is to say, con-versing ("flowing-together") with an Other. There is a dynamic trialectic taking place, between a kind of ground, or deep Subject (Father), I (the subject, Son) and anOther, a sympathetic listener who is trying to understand and to whom I am trying to explain (Holy Spirit). In the end, I am all three of these positions in a mutual indwelling, undivided and unmixed.

Again, it is somewhat difficult for human beings to recognize group dynamics, since there is no human being in the absence of the group. Truly, "groupishness" is the water in which we swim. Yes, in the modern west we emphasize and prize our individuality (roughly half of us, anyway), but this can conceal the extent to which the individual is only made possible by virtue of a specific type of group.

The first distinction we must make is between the "interior" and "exterior" collective, something helpfully outlined in Wilber's Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. An exterior collective is analogous to a group we can draw an external boundary around.

For example, I am a resident of California -- a "Californian" -- although it doesn't mean much to me. It is not something I identify with on any personal, interior level. Frankly. I'd prefer to be in a state that isn't in the process of being destroyed by the left.

This is very much in contrast to, say, the Founders, most of whom had a primary identification with their state, not with the nation they were attempting to forge. Indeed, for them, "nation" was something of a curse word. Most of them wanted an exterior confederation, but thanks to far-sighted visionaries such as Hamilton, we indeed ended up with a nation. Although it took a Civil War to seal the deal.

So, I am a member of a number of exterior collectives that mean little to me. However, one of the intrinsic intellectual pathologies of the left is the ceaseless effort to place us into various group categories with which we do not -- or should not -- identify. For the left, one cannot simply be a member of the human group. Rather, one must be black, or homosexual, or female, or Latina, or wealthy -- these are all exterior categories that cement division and sow disharmony.

Just like individuals, groups clearly exist along a developmental continuum, which is one of the main reasons why the left's forced categories are so useless if not harmful. For example, a person's race or sexual orientation tells us nothing meaningful about a person. What is meaningful are his values.

But for the leftist, to have certain values means that one must be ejected from the group. Therefore, a Clarence Thomas "doesn't think like a black man" and a Sarah Palin has rejected her womanhood. This is a very primitive form of group dynamics, more similar to kinship structures, in which roles are strictly defined and individuality is forbidden.

A key principle is that human beings are open systems. This is obviously the case on the level of biology, for life is impossible in the absence of a continuous exchange of energy and information with the environment.

But it is equally true on the psychological (embodying emotionality and conventional intellect) and spiritual levels. It is specifically because human beings are open systems that such psychological processes as projection are possible.

In other words, projection has become a universally recognized phenomenon, but it can only occur because on a deeper level we are connected to the other into whom we project. This becomes rather transparent when a liberal projects various psychic content into the fantasied "conservative" who only exists only in the liberal's head, but is perceived to be "outside."

Consider the ravings of these selected koslings, and ask yourself: where exactly are the demons who are persecuting them?

"[T]he Republican Party [is an] awful group of neo-facist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, plutocratic, theocratic, sexist, oligarchic, neo-liberal, Orwellians that deserve all the bad things that come/are coming/ and have come previously to them in the world.

"[T]he [C]onstitution... is that peace [sic] of paper Conservative fascists wave at you when they are taking your Democracy away from you...

"Words like tyranny, spending, taxes, regulation, socialism and many others have been rendered meaningless over decades of conservative fascist propaganda in an effort to make the basic use and methods of democracy seem evil...

"The idea of small government and limited government is an attack on Democracy...

"[T]he crowd at the the Reagan Library -- a library dedicated to legacy of yet another American tyrant -- [stood] in applause when Rick Perry’s murderous toll was brought into question. From the Reagan era at least, the GOP has garnered voters by being the 'strong' party -- of course, its strength comes from attacking the most vulnerable among us. Blacks, gays, women, Muslims -- anyone that a typical GOP voter can rise above by squashing their humanity, they’ll do it... In fact, you could say it’s their only real draw as a party -- that someone, somewhere, isn’t worth as much as you...

"The current crop of Republican congressmen seem to look to the McCarthy era as the high point of government, and seem to spend every waking moment deciding how best to use their congressional positions to propagandize against, and demonize, any group or individual that crosses his path. Gay people, brown people, liberals, scary invisible communists that hide under your bed and come out at night to rearrange the eggs in your refrigerator...

"Richard Nixon and Spiro T. Agnew pioneered the tactic of teaching people to fear and hate 'Others.' Reagan refined and vastly improved it...

"Many learned to close their eyes to hard facts and to cast blame for problems on scapegoats... Reagan and Republican strategists knew that low-information voters are famous for their mental compartmentalization. They are unable to get at the root of their economic woes and prefer to center their anger on groups that do no harm at all: gays, immigrants, African-Americans, liberals, Muslims, environmentalists, and advocates of biological evolution..."


Now, just what is going on here? Since I am a member of the group they are describing, I can assure them that their perceptions are not just inaccurate but probably delusional (that is, if they cannot be easily corrected by more accurate information). Indeed, why don't they just ask a conservative what he believes? Wouldn't that be easier?

This is what I do with liberals. I hope I never mischaracterize them in the florid manner they do us (unless for comedic purposes). If I am not mistaken -- and please correct me if I am wrong -- liberals are in favor of bigger government and more spending, more regulation, higher taxes, public employee unions, multiculturalism, reducing the defense budget, illegal immigration, a banishment of religion to the margins of society, and any number of additional positions with which I disagree. I feel no need to project primitive mental content into them, in the manner of the liberals quoted above. It's enough for me that their ideas are wrong. There is no need to go beyond that, and shoot up a corpse on the pretext that it is attacking me.

Again: what is going on in the head of the liberal who lives with these elaborate fantasies of persecution and oppression? Although it can't be pleasant to have one's mind colonized by such malevolent entities, on another level, it must provide a kind of self-soothing.

In other words, let us stipulate that these liberals are not lying about their experience and their perceptions. Let us imagine two subjects; or, better yet, a subject -- the liberal -- and a group-container, i.e., conservatives, with a "space" in between (what is called the "transitional space").

All of the real action takes place in this transitional space. It is analogous to the space referenced above, between I and the Other with whom I wish to have an encounter of Truth. Or, imagine a love relationship. Is the love only in the lover? Or the beloved? No, it takes place in between, in a thousand little ways that externalize and actualize the love. This space is actually co-created by the two lovers.

But in the case of the liberals referenced above, there is no co-creation going on. There is quite literally no input from my end. Importantly, this goes back to what I said about open systems: while the liberal no doubt believes he is an open system in contact with reality, he is in fact only in contact with his own projected violence, hatred, oppression, and tyranny.

The next step -- assuming the liberal in question is capable of introspection and self-criticism -- is to ask why? Why am I doing this, and what does it mean, both in general and with regard to my particular fantasies?

Please note that some conservatives engage in this process, but not many mainstream ones. I am aware that there exists a "right wing fever swamp." Suffice it to say, I do not relate to these people, and as far as I know, they wield little influence over the movement.

For example, one of these sad cases has suggested that bin Laden was already dead before the SEALS found him, and that the later helicopter crash was actually a hit job by the Obama administration. This is a mirror image of leftists who suggested that Pat Tillman had been murdered by BushCheney. (I remember another one who thought tofu was a leftist plot to create more homosexuals.)

As with the liberals quoted above, the "leading edge" or motive-force of this kind of paranoia is uncontainable hatred and fear. It certainly isn't "thought," if by thought we mean the metabolism of experience. It is the failure to think, whereby unmetabolized thoughts are located and misperceived outside the head.

Hey, maybe Obama's hit squad minions can take out the dominionist hit squads, then we'd all be safe.

To be continued....

Monday, September 19, 2011

Messiah Failure Syndrome and Sacrificial Regicide

We're continuing with our exploration of Object Relations, the Self, and the Group in order to see if my hunch is correct that it may hold some keys to the mystery of why millennial discourse and behavior are so pervasive to the point of seeming inevitability. For truly, if Obama didn't exist, the left would have had to invent him.

Oh wait. They did.

Along these familiar lines, Grotstein's foreword mentions Freud's first approach to the subject, in which he proposed "that the group may act in a way which is analogous to the psychology of an individual, and its component members characteristically project their egos, as well as ego ideals, onto the group leader, thereby creating a state of idealization and idealized expectation of the latter."

In the past, I have mentioned that when a patient has an immediate and powerful idealizing transference, one can expect equally strong anger and devaluation to appear later, just as soon as the therapist inevitably fails to live up to the idealized expectations (the reverse can also occur; thus, the apoplectic Bush derangement of the left was a premonition of their absurd idealization of his successor).

Again, this is the stage Obama finds himself in with respect to his supporters. At first they attempted to maintain their own beautiful illusions by outright ignoring or denying Obama's many gaffes, missteps, and general cluelessness.

But interestingly, in order to protect themselves from seeing their own foolishness and naivete, they must go through the ritual of either "discovering" that Obama is not what they pretended he was, or of describing some rationalized scheme whereby Obama somehow deviated from his better self.

Very few millennialists are introspective enough to direct the critical spotlight on their own inner workings, and ask themselves not just "what was I thinking?," but "what motivated me to spin this once-in-a-generation world-historical leader out of my own psychic substance?"

It is like the bad marriage that begins with the self-deception that belives the lie. Soon enough the lovely loving congeals into the hateful hates, after which comes the conversation with the flying plates. Thus, Obama's instinct is to throw plates at the messenger, which would ultimately be you (that is, you apostates who once supported the Messiah; the Times also tosses dinnerware at the stupid misinformed Americans who have disappointed Dear Leader.)

One way to avoid introspection is to convert messianic disappointment to rage. Thus, we are already seeing a considerable amount of outrageous rage being expressed by the left. Yes, this qualifies as a banality, as one could say the same of the left on any day of the year. The difference is, of course, that they are actually directing it at Obama rather than the frightful conservatives of their fevered imaginations.

Remember when criticism of Obama was prima facie evidence of racism, or xenophobia, or "fear of change"? That was yesterday's truth, comrade. Being on the left -- or in the United States of Amnesia -- means never having to say "I remember."

Remember when Rush Limbaugh was an unpatriotic racist for wanting Obama to fail? Now, with the exception of the usual true dead-enders, we all want him to fail on an urgent basis.

Two years ago Newsweek felt confident enough in its collective delusions to assure us that We Are All Socialists Now! Today Obama is reaching Carter-like levels of political radioactivity. The irony is that the progressive wants the sort of superficial "change" that keeps everything the same on a deeper level. In truth they want no change with regard to their visions of infantile dependency and fulfillment via the omnicompetent State. They just want a new mommy to administer it.

Note that the 'Crats are not deserting their stinking shit, as this would be tantamount to abandoning their religulous faith. Rather, they are flushing the craptain down the toilet, with the unconscious fantasy that they can project the source of the stink into him and leave it all behind. Which wouldn't work anyway, because we would still be left with his gaseous number two, Joe Biden.

This is the well-known logic of primitive sacrifice. Just as all of our hopes and dreams my be projected into the fantasy leader, so too may our fear, dread, anger, and rage.

When the latter happens, it is time to kill the king, either in reality or symbolically. But the more things superficially change, the more the wrong remains the same on a deep unconscious level. It's like when a baseball team loses 100 games. What do the owners do? Fire the manager. Then hire another failed old white guy to replace him.

Here is an example of sacrificial regicide, plucked at random from my library: "Frazer has acquainted us with the fact that the king himself may be sacrificed for the welfare of society; it is not surprising that the body of a king can be eaten by his successor. In Nigeria, the king of Julsum was only allowed to rule for seven years. During that period, if he fell ill, or sneezed or coughed, or fell off his horse, he might be put to death." No wonder Michelle wants to control our eating habits!

Speaking of indigestion, this brings up an important point. That is, the fantasy leader must maintain the illusion of strength in order to both contain and withstand all of the primitive unconscious material being directed his way. According to Susskind's new book, Obama himself recognizes this:

“Obama often felt that performance pressure -- having to play the part of president, in charge and confident, each day, in front of his seasoned, combative, prideful team, many of whom had, all together, recently served another president.... As he confided to one of his closest advisers, after a private display of uncertainty, ‘I can’t let people see that, I don’t want the staff to see that... But I get up every morning. It’s a heavy burden.’” Indeed. Especially for the narcissist who has no inner core of genuine strength. Rather, the only strength he possesses is the perception that he is strong. Once the projections are withdrawn, only the little boy remains.

Grotstein continues with a very brief tutorial that explains the irreducible intrapsychic complementarity of group <--> individual, the one conditioning the other:

"Long before brain laterality studies by neuropsychologists established the duality of normal consciousness" (left and right hemispheres), pioneering psychoanalysts such as R.D. Fairbairn discovered that the infant "treats (a) the object as part of the self and (b) the self as part of the object."

As a consequence, we have "an internal subculture of selves conducting 'conversations' and relationships of great labyrinthine complexity which nevertheless seem to bear a correspondence to their counterparts in the external world." This is not so much "as above, so below" as it is "as inside, so outside."

In this view, the "outside" -- including politics and culture -- becomes a kind of language through which we "speak" ourselves. However, at the same time, it means that we are generally restricted as to the who(s) we may speak -- or, more to the point, culture makes certain "selves" possible, while discouraging, punishing, or forbidding others.

Look at the culture of ancient Greece, which elevated man-boy love to an ideal, while denigrating male-female love. The fact that so many men "spoke" this perverse language -- or were spoken by it -- proves that homosexuality is not "genetic" (or certainly not only so).

What sorts of selves do the elites of contemporary American culture permit and reward? Well, they recently awarded their highest honor to a weak, feminized, metrosexual, faux-cerebral pseudo-intellectual with All the Right Beliefs, i.e., a projection of the idealized self-image of our vacuous media-tenured complex.

At the same time, there is nothing they detest more than a man who appears manly, whether it is Ronald Reagan, George Bush, or Rick Perry. For some reason they much prefer manly women, perhaps because the dreaded unconscious male energy needs to be projected somewhere.

Grotstein concludes his foreword by reminding us that "groups, like individuals, appear to have an Oedipal complex, and the selecting of a Messiah and of a human sacrifice seems to be its deeper function..."

Again, the one follows "logically" from the other, in that both are attempts to deal with troubling unconscious material, i.e., thoughts and what to do with them. Over and over again throughout history, men have conformed to the pattern of 1) create an unrealistic ideal, a messiah, and 2) murder either him or convenient scapegoats when the messiah fails us, which he must inevitably do (with one notable exception, whose devotees don't need no stinkin' political messiahs, whether from the left or right; to put one's faith in a political messiah is to have left conservatism).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

One Way Out

I was once in a similar situation. Second floor apartment. Angry boyfriend pounding at the door. Oddly enough, he was employed as a meat cutter. One way out. Balcony to my left. Should I jump? Eventually he departed, so I was able to ease out front, soft and slow. There was no second date. Too risky for my health.

A second opinion, from the angry meat cutter's point of view:

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's the Psychic Economy, Stupid!

With this post, I want to get into the question of why -- why do human groups repeatedly fall into millennial thinking, even though it has never once succeeded in bringing about the hoped for transformation? I'm actually doing this before I have even outlined the persistence and pervasiveness of the phenomenon, but that can be obtained through Landes' Heaven on Earth, and even he acknowledges that he's dealing with only a small representative sampling.

It seems to me that either you get it and accept it as a real and enduring motivation in human beings, or reject it as so much pseudo-historical speculation. Landes himself wonders if his ideas about millennial thinking prove too much.

Which is ironic, because this is precisely what millennial movements do: they prove too much -- everything, really. They have an easy answer to every problem, whether it is kill the Jews, eliminate fossil fuels, board the spaceship, break out the guillotine, or grow the government.

This is going to be an instance of high-risk blogging without a neural net, because I don't yet have any idea if I will be able to answer or even really address this question of why. Rather, I am relying solely on memory -- or, more accurately, the memory of a memory.

That is, I vaguely remember reading this book about fifteen years ago, Object Relations, The Self and the Group. I had plucked it from the shelf at *random* while browsing a bookstore near UCLA, and noticed that not only had the forward been written by a familiar personage, but the book delved into the theories of W.R. Bion, my central influence back in grad school.

Little did I know at the time that the choice hadn't been random, but that my future Bob had directed me to this particular tome because I would need it for my "blog" seventeen years later. But that's the way the cosmos works, isn't it? (Bion called it a memoir of the future.)

Upon reading the book -- which I recall as being pretty dry and academic, probably not recommended to a general audience -- I thought to myself, "gosh, this is the best book I've ever read on the subject of group psychology."

But that's pretty much all I remember. However, I retain the belief that developmental psychoanalysis is the deepest and most comprehensive model of human thought, behavior, and development; and that the individual is obviously the key to understanding the group. So we're about to find out if the passages I highlighted fifteen years ago still have any relevance to the problems of today's space-age Bob.

So here goes. Let's begin with the quote by Freud on the title page: The contrast between individual psychology and social or group psychology, which at first glance may seem to be full of significance, loses a good deal of its sharpness when it is examined more closely.

One of the reasons for this blurring, in my opinion, is that psychoanalysis reveals the individual to be a kind of group -- inhabited by a host of benign and malevolent "objects," or powers and principalities, so to speak -- while the group can be fruitfully regarded as a kind of individual.

One doesn't have to believe the latter to be literally true to see that groups often seem to have a mind of their own that conditions the subjects of which they are composed, especially as applied to riots, herds, mobs, and mindless, reactionary groupthink. But enough about the left.

Likewise, it has been said -- possibly by me -- that a neurosis is analogous to a private culture, whereas a culture is very much analogous to a public neurosis.

Doesn't this explain a great deal? The neurotic obviously doesn't fit in with his surroundings, but the real problem is a kind of civil war within his own psyche: this impulse in conflict with that standard, desire at war with conscience, will power in rebellion against aspirations, etc. In this regard, neurosis is just a part of the human condition.

But think of the craziness of culture. Landes wrote his book knowing that he was in contravention of the academic police, in this case anthropologists who regard all cultures as beautiful and adaptive save for their own.

Due to the dictates of relativism and multiculturalism, one is not permitted to say that many cultures are downright nuts without having one's license to bloviate yanked. So Landes has placed himself at risk by describing the craziness of all these groups, from ancient Egyptians to Marxists, from primitive cargo cults to modern UFO cults.

In my book I attempted to answer the question of why human groups are generally so crazy. In order to fully support the theory, I would need to write another book or two of at least 500 pages each. But that's not the kind of guy I am, which is to say, an academic.

Rather, I am a soph-taught slackademic and gentleman loaffeur, so once something makes sense to me I move on and retain the theory until something better comes along and displaces it. I just have wayyyyy too much ground-of-being to cover to dwell on all the particulars. I do not want to spend my life proving that this or that tree exists, meanwhile underlooking the whole forest. Besides, I've got thousands of other people doing that for me, counting and categorizing all the trees.

Anyway, one of Bion's ideas was that the mind, no different than the "world," was something that required adaptation. Once you think about it, it makes perfect sense: for just as there is an external environment, so too is there an internal environment. The human cosmos always and unavoidably has an exterior and an interior, and much if not most human conflict comes down to trying to get these two to line up.

When we are "in" a culture, we are generally unaware of the extent to which it "contains" us. In particular, a functioning culture contains any number of primitive aggressive and sexual impulses. In the absence of the culture our primitive natures would be "unbound," so speak. Most of us -- especially blue state liberals -- do not appreciate the thin red line that separates civilization from barbarity.
Look at the riots in Europe. Look at Nazism. Look at left wing union thuggery in America. Look at those two undulating heathens on the right, abandoning themselves to the savage voodoo rhythms.

In the book, I suggested that culture is a kind of group adaptation to "mindedness" -- to the exceedingly odd circumstances of having thoughts. After all, thoughts are the problem, aren't they? No thoughts = no problems, an equation to which our two dogs will happily attest.

Only humans have this problem of persecutory thoughts, e.g., worries about the future, regrets about the past, obsessions over our standing in the hierarchy, envious thoughts, greedy thoughts, sexual thoughts, health and death-related thoughts, etc.

Culture serves as a kind of apparatus to contain and direct these; or, to put it another way, if the culture fails to contain them, it cannot last. When it fails, then all the previously contained primitive material seeps through and comes to the fore.

One might say that a culture is subconsciously felt to be "legitimate" when it more or less adequately reflects our interior being. Revolutions are triggered when the disjunction becomes too extreme.

This was the case of our Founders, who were increasingly aware of an unbridgeable gap between their natural rights as British subjects and the unjust laws to which they were being subordinated. Likewise, the Tea Party rebellion is nothing but the reflection of a similar gap between what the Founders intended vs. what the modern left would like to impose upon the nation.

It is as simple as this: Obama's vision is in violation of my deepest values, principles, and hopes. I could never, ever, be comfortable in a leftist world, which, to me, would be hell on earth.

I am sure that leftists feel the same way about traditional American values, since they say this all the time. After all, Obama was elected with a promise to fundamentally transform the country. This should have set off alarms in anyone who loves America and doesn't want to see it fundamentally transformed into Europe, just fixed.

It is beside the point that Europe doesn't even work for Europeans. Rather, it is a question of values, not mere economics. That socialism doesn't work is well understood. Why then does it persist? Because it reflects the values of the people who put their faith in it, and values trump economics.

Here is what Thatcher said on the subject, and it is worth tattooing on the forehead of every leftist professor:

"The economic success of the Western world is a product of its moral philosophy and practice.

"The economic results are better because the moral philosophy is superior.

"It is superior because it starts with the individual, with his uniqueness, his responsibility, and his capacity to choose.

"Surely this is infinitely preferable to the Socialist-statist philosophy which sets up a centralized economic system to which the individual must conform, which subjugates him, directs him and denies him the right to free choice."

Freedom. It's a fearful burden. No wonder the left wants to build a world reflecting this psychic fact.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bending Over Forward to Please the State

Even though the counterculture of the sixties is known more for sexuality than aggression, it nevertheless helped idself to the entire range of millennial styles. There were obvious religious elements, along with pseudo-scientific, rationalistic, Marxist, and fascist ones. 1967 and the Summer of Love can only be artificially severed from 1968 with its domestic terrorists, political paranoia, and campus mobs.

But in truth, the signs were already there, what with the race riots that had begun in 1963-'64 before really hitting stride in '67-'68.

The French Revolutionaries also believed they could begin mankind anew, in their case by eschewing everything but Reason.

But again, the pscyche is whole; one can no more sever oneself from the upper and lower vertical (unconscious and supraconscious) than one may declare that the brain can function in the absence of a beating heart. A human being is an integrated organism at every level; the parts are always subordinate to the whole, not vice versa.

Indeed, pathology -- both physiological and psychological -- can be understood as a part that doesn't know its place, and either usurps the rightful domain of other parts or ceases functioning for the benefit of the whole. My pancreas went on strike seven years ago, but it's not as if there are no implications for the rest of me.

But most diabetic patients I see act just this way (many do the same with hypertension). They live in blissful denial of their diabetes, which is why they end up with strokes, heart attacks and kidney disease in their 40s and 50s. As Homer Simpson once lamented, Why do my actions always have to have consequences!

Mendel is undoubtedly correct in highlighting "the rationalists' problem," which is the absence of any "solid ground of being and purpose to replace religious faith." Thus, in actuality, although they always talk about ends, the left really has no means to get there. Rather, they have only means, which explains quite a bit about self-styled "progressives."

For what is the end toward which the progressive believes the state to be progressing? This end doesn't actually exist; or, even if it did exist as a fantasy of some sort, it could never exist on earth.

Again, if one considers actual ends -- empirical reality -- we see that our gargantuan state and its unsustainable debt are the direct result of the application of progressive means, decade after decade. Yes, here we are, liberal paradise. Isn't it beautiful?

The ubiquitous liberal problem is that it has no intrinsic boundary, no limiting factor. Yes, it is Never Enough: liberals insist

"that the government must do more -- much more -- to help the poor, to increase economic security, to promote social justice and solidarity, to reduce inequality, and to mitigate the harshness of capitalism. Nonetheless, liberals have never answered, or even acknowledged, the corresponding question: What would be the size and nature of a welfare state that was not contemptibly austere, that did not urgently need new programs, bigger budgets, and a broader mandate? Even though the federal government’s outlays have doubled every eighteen years since 1940, liberal rhetoric is always addressed to a nation trapped in Groundhog Day, where every year is 1932, and none of the existing welfare state programs that spend tens of billions of dollars matter, or even exist. "

No liberal ever says, "okay, that's big enough. The present size of the state is perfect." Likewise, they never tell us how high taxes have to be before they are too high. After being forced by the electorate to abandon his liberal agenda, President Clinton bowed to reality and proclaimed that "the era of big government is over." But it was just resting. A new era of Bigger Government commenced on January 20, 2009, with Clinton's full-throated support. Clintonomics!

Now, two of the important modes of unconscious thought are omnipotence and omniscience. Why is this the case? Just logic. To simplify, the deep unconscious knows no clear and unambiguous boundaries, and a boundary is a limit. It also transcends -- or subtends -- linear time, and only knows the now. Add those together, and it is possible to live in a kind of boundless eternity.

I should emphasize that this is by no means inherently pathological. To the contrary, we all long to spend a little timelessness in this mode, but most of us do it in appropriate ways, e.g., religion, meditation, hobbies, family, music, cosmic blogging, sex, grog, etc.

But what if you are the type of person who is unsatisfied or cannot be satisfied with his own life? These are the most dangerous people on earth, especially when given political power. For some reason, the personal happiness -- and even identity -- of these persons is bound up with "helping" others.

Nothing wrong with that -- one cannot be human in the absence of the charitable impulse -- but this is quite different.

For just what makes a person want to force a second person to pay for something he believes a third person needs? Why do we have to radically transform our whole medical system and inconvenience millions of people, just because some vulgar community agitator thinks it's a good idea?

I understand the charitable instinct, but I do not understand the infinite self-belief -- the presumption of omniscience and omnipotence, backed by the force of state violence to impose his will. Have we any right whatsoever to imagine that the people who will administer this system will be wiser, kinder, and more moral than we are?

Here's an idea: how about our government actually making itself useful by fostering the market conditions that would make the medical system more functional? As it stands, the system is so distorted that it has few meaningful price signals, and in a free market economy, price is everything. Once price no longer conveys up-to-date meaningful information, we enter an irrational and incoherent world of too much or too little of what we want and need, and at the wrong price.

A state takeover can only make this worse, not better, for no one knows the actual cost of anything in a command economy. Nor does anyone know whether it is worthwhile to do this or that. There are infinite decisions to be made, with no rational basis to make them, and each with unforeseen and unforeseeable consequences. It is why we had to pass Obamacare in order to find out what's in it (and we still don't know).

Pelosi was being unintentionally honest here, because her statement is literally true. No one can pretend to know the consequences of a 2,500+ page bill on 17% of the economy, which is in turn connected to everything else. The bill could have been 5,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 pages, but one could still never predict its impact, since the information it pretends to understand is literally infinite (Hayek's knowledge problem). The map would have to be as large as the territory, which is both impossible and redundant.

Note that freedom and inequality are two sides of the same coin. We are free because unequal, and unequal because free. If everyone were the same, it would be another way of saying that we are not free to be unique.

But in its attempt to impose equality by force, this is precisely what the left ends up doing. Thus, in the socialist brain of a liberal Democrat, there are large areas devoted to embedded groupthink, generous spending of other peoples money, and smarter-than-thou intellectual sanctimony, but mere remnants of common sense and personal responsibility.

In a command economy, we are only "free" to be what the state wishes us to be, which is no freedom at all. The state is the agent and we are the receiver; it is the manly pitcher while we must lean forward and be the passive catcher. It rewards certain thoughts and behaviors, and punishes others, which places a new and completely unjust cost on the development of individualism.

For Margaret Thatcher, this was the wickedness at the heart of leftism. I found it surprising and fascinating to discover that Thatcher had deduced her economics from moral principles. But as soon as I thought about it, I realized that the left does the identical thing, except they begin with the wrong moral principles. For someone like Paul Krugman, his economics is clearly posterior to his morality -- or, to be precise, his hate-drenched moralism.

As Berlinski explains, "socialism itself" has a corrosive effect on human nature; it has "turned good citizens into bad ones; it turned strong nations into weak ones; it promoted vice and discouraged virtue; and even when it did not lead directly to the Gulags, it transformed formerly hardworking and self-reliant men and women into whining, weak and flabby loafers." It is not a noble idea badly applied, but "an inherently wicked idea," one not susceptible to "perfecting." Rather, it works every time, only in ways unintended.

Thatcher also felt -- and this would apply to Obama's America -- that "Britain's decline was not an inevitable fate, but a punishment" (emphasis mine). No, not for those sins that preoccupy the liberal brain -- imperialism, racism, homophobia, greed, and all the rest -- but "for the sin of socialism." Thatcher:

"How could anyone expect that the idea of 'more of the same' which has nearly brought us to our knees could be seriously entertained?"

For socialism is not just "a folly, but a heresy" (Berlinski); it is actually bad theology, because it is rooted in "the belief that Man is perfectible" (Thatcher). In this naive but pernicious view, "we must do good. We know how to do good, and we have the money to do good. And that inevitably became, and you will be done good to! (Bernard Ingham, in Berlinski).

So, bend over and be done good to, comrade!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Spoiled Children of the World, Unite!

We are toying with the idea that fascism involves the collapse of Ought into Is, resulting in Is becoming what ought to be.

Any form of metaphysical materialism is in an unstable state of "pre-fascism." This mental state is unstable because the materialist doesn't generally have the courage, consistency, or insight to draw out the implications entailed in his premises.

In point of fact, human beings can never actually escape the Ought, for even -- especially -- Nazis were quite certain that various things ought to happen -- things like genocide, world dominance, elimination of Judeo-Christian values. For them, man is fallen, so to speak, but the fall occurred as a result of a catastrophic turn from nature to idea, in particular, ideas that were at cross-purposes with the Will of Nature.

This reminds me of self-styled artists who depict this or that infrahuman reality on the pretext that it is "real," and who claim that the artist has the responsibility to tear away the masks and reveal reality in all its naked glory. Bad naked, not good naked.

Not only is this an excuse for anything, but it violates the prime directive of art, which is to liberate man from his existential prison, and to reveal the noetic light that radiates through bars of time and space. We do not need art to depict things that are readily apparent to our lowest capacity for knowing them. People defecate. What's more real than that? Why not paint it ? Oh, wait.

One of the touchstones of modern conservatism is Richard Weaver's Ideas Have Consequences, one of the consequences being that no form of metaphysical naturalism can be true -- or natural! -- for man. For if the world is intelligible and man is free -- the one entails the other like light and heat -- the materialist is irredeemably wrong.

The irony is that such parochial yahoos necessarily use the spirit to deny it, but who cares what the spirit says if it isn't real?

In placing matter over spirit, quality is reduced to quantity. But is quality just another quantity? Is meaning just another name for meaninglessness? Is man just an animal? Is the world just a brute fact?

For Weaver, this downward pull from mind to matter -- and the attraction is real, something we will be discussing later -- ultimately redounds to the end of ideational life altogether.

To paraphrase Weaver, where fact becomes the criterion of truth, thinking has been rendered unattainable: "Total immersion in matter makes man unfit to deal with the problems of matter" (say it again). The world shrinks down to our lowest mode of comprehending -- or let us just say "sensing" -- it. In the end there is only a purple haze of fleeting experiences superimposed upon this third stone from the sun. Are you experience? No, only the experienced, i.e., an object, not a subject.

Another relevant quote from Weaver before we dive into the feminine fascism of the 1960s: Every group regarding itself as emancipated is convinced its predecessors were fearful of reality. But once all the veils are stripped aside -- all the archetypal forms that serve as "ladders of ascent" -- there subsists "a reality of such commonplace that it is merely knowledge of death." (The downward ideational pull referenced above ends here. Afterwards there can be further "elaboration" but no essential progress, no evolution.)

Whereas the Nazi declares apocalypse, now!, one might say that the sextaphiliac (lover of the 60s) says paradise, now! -- which happens to be the title of Mendel's chapter on the 1960s. He writes that

"In midcentury, two decades after the defeat of fascism, throngs of Western youth flocked to a new credo that was, for opposite reasons, even more radically alien to Western civilization than fascism had been." Really? More radical than fascism? That's a bold statement! Explain.

Well, both involve turning aside from thought, and toward experience and feeling. They also involve a complete rejection of the existing social order, and with it, a transvaluation of values.

Again, in the case of Nazism, aggression came to the fore, whereas with the 60's generation it was sexuality. However, in the deep unconscious these two are inextricably linked -- the lustful sadism of the Nazis was quite obviously sexualized, while the "sexual revolution" of the 1960s was equally obviously a kind of blunt instrument with which to beat off detractors.

The latter were not merely "wrong," which was beside the point. Rather, they weren't enlightened, or "with it," or tuned in, or what have you. Thus, there was a clear gnostic element in the whole enterprise: authentic people in the know vs. all those phonies and hypocrites. The middle class goes from being the foundation of America to the final common pathway of a dreadful disease:

"Why sacrifice one's life to the impersonal and oppressive institutions" that "built and sustained" our civilization, e.g., "enslavement to time, work, success, 'delayed gratification,' efficiency, prudence, and the rest of the code. For the counterculture, it was all a vast hoax, a grotesque deception that had compressed their elders into dehumanized parcels of roles, functions, and skills" which "the young refused to accept as man's fate."

Rather, "they wanted here and now to make that leap into the realm of freedom" -- as if there is such a thing as abstract freedom outside the individuals and institutions that nurture and preserve it.

At this point I would like to quote some songs from the era, with the most pompous lyrics you could possibly imagine, but I don't have time. Well, here's one ridiculous but typical example -- Enter the Young, by the Association (note the apocalyptic overtones):

Here they come, yeah
Some are flying, some just gliding
Released after years of being kept in hiding
They're climbing up the ladder rung by rung

Enter the young, yeah
Yeah, they've learned how to think
Enter the young, yeah
More than you think they think
Not only learned to think, but to care
Not only learned to think, but to dare
Enter the young

Yeah, here they come
some with questions, some decisions
Here they come
Some with facts and some with visions
Of a place to multiply without the use of divisions
To win a prize that no one's ever won

Here they come, yeah
Some are laughing, some are crying
Here they come
Some are doing, some are trying
Some are selling, some are buying
Some are living, some are dying
But demanding recognition one by one

That's some ridiculous songwriting. But no less ridiculous than the influential wrongsighters of the era, such as Charles Reich, Herbert Marcuse, Normon O. Brown, et al.

One of them, Murray Bookchin, wrote of how this "revolution cannot end with the traditional goal of 'seizure of power'; it must culminate in the here and now with the dissolution of power as such," including the power of "parental authoritarianism over youthful spontaneity."

Come to think of it, that last one seems to be what it's all about. "Spoiled children of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but the reality principle!”

Uh oh. I think the revolution is here. Now what? Maybe our parents weren't so stupid after all...

Late, gotta run. To be continued.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Strangling the Last Nazi with the Entrails of the Last Hippie

Let's talk about the millennial movement I know best: the 1960s!

One way of resolving the complementarity discussed in yesterday's post -- between Is and Ought -- is to collapse one into the other.

For example, one can transform Is to Ought, and be all superego (the conventional conscience) all the time: sanctimonious, judgmental, rigid, priggish; such individuals are easy to identify, because they are narrow-minded, conventional, fearful of experience (or of being), and dominated by the defense mechanism of projection (i.e., they see their own split-off and denied sexual and aggressive impulses in everyone else).

The other way -- which appears "cooler" but is every bit as pathetic -- is to collapse Ought into Is, which comes down to elevating appetite, instinct, and desire to a kind of moral imperative: if it feels good do it, free love, free hate, give peace a chance, give war a chance, etc.

Individuals who engage in this can radiate a kind of infectiousness or allure, as they seem to have solved the problem of limits, and appear to live in a world of instinctual plenty. They can also provoke envy, as if they have the secret of life, and we are somehow missing out on it.

As a brief and possibly banal aside, I spent twelve years working in a supermarket -- often the graveyard shift with no adult supervision -- so I would spend a lot of time idly flipping through magazines such as People or Us. (I was a frivolous fellow and it was a union job, so the man-hours always exceeded the amount of work that needed to be done; in other words, lots of slack.)

One lesson I internalized early on is that things aren't always as they appear to be with these quasi-animal, instinct-driven celebrities living in their infrahuman paradises. Especially over the long run -- we're talking twelve years -- I came upon example after example of bliss transforming to catastrophe. One issue he "has it all" -- money, fame, women, the respect of his peers, a golden future, the perfect relationship -- but a few years later, another issue is devoted to the same person's trainwreck of a life. This confirmed in me a kind of sacred hunch that there was nothing intrinsically enviable about these people. If there was a secret to life, they didn't have it. Or, if they did, it had nothing to do with all the outward trappings.

In Violence and Vision, Mendel has two chapters devoted to the second style of millennial fever, i.e., reducing Ought to Is. Typically we think of millennial thought in conjunction with religion or ideology, but in this case, we are dealing with nature.

Now, it is axiomatic that for man, being in a state of nature is unnatural. In other words, there is no mythical man prior to the cultural matrix that nurtures, preserves, contains, and allows expression of his humanness.

For one thing, man is uniquely trinitarian and intersubjective, and cannot be who or what he is in the absence of others, which automatically introduces a kind of constraint on any notion of "pure being" detached from concern for other persons. Indeed, man can only be himself in openness and intimacy with others (both vertically and horizontally).

Another way of saying it is that for man, the supernatural is natural. Man cannot be man in the absence of the good, true, and beautiful -- without courage, justice, freedom, nobility, reverence, love, and creativity, each of which is a luminous facet of the gemlike One.

Nazism, on the one hand, and the Sixties, on the other, resolved the problem of Is and Ought by creating a magical world of isness, of the celebration of instinct.

Let's begin with National Socialism. What was it, really? Historians have been debating this for decades, but it seems to me that, underneath it all, the key principle is the complete legitimization and institutionalization of violence toward the Other.

Think of war: in war, we are temporarily liberated from the dictates of our superego, and are free to engage in violence toward the other. We are permitted to do things we normally wouldn't dream of, like putting a bullet through someone's head. This is normal and necessary. It is a calling and a profession, i.e., the Warrior.

The same principle is sublimated through violent sports such as football and boxing. But even in non-violent sports such as baseball and basketball, there is still a sublimation of the primitive desire to conquer, dominate, and triumph. It is why boys need sports, whereas for girls it's totally optional. Girls don't generally need an outlet to sublimate their violent tendencies. Rather, girls need to sublimate their inborn ability to hypnotize and seduce, i.e., to dominate and triumph in a different way over the weak. Men and women have different "intrinsic struggles" with their lower selves.

Nazism essentially took the unusual psychological circumstance of war, and normalized it. Of course, the first step is to create a kind of all-powerful enemy, which then paves the way for a severely polarized mentality of "annihilate or be annihilated." In this view, the Holocaust was quite literally a simple case of self-defense. If one isn't the hammer then one is the anvil. There is nothing in between.

"In fascism, the Apocalypse found a philosophy that let it act forthrightly and stop pretending that violence and hatred were really peace and love." It "boldly glorified violence as a noble end in itself. As fascists, those who wanted to hurt and kill could do so openly. Might was Right, not because it served the cause of love... but simply because that was the way nature worked and the way Providence wanted it to work" (Mendel).

Someone else characterized fascism as the violent resistance to transcendence, and this too is a good definition. However, when transcendence is immanentized, the immanent -- nature -- becomes transcendent, as necessarily occurs in metaphysical Darwinism. Thus, it is no surprise that the Nazis rooted their ideas in a kind of twisted and yet literal interpretation of Darwinism, which necessarily regards any Ought as nothing but an Is in disguise, just a pretext for purely selfish genes.

"Since nature's primary, if not exclusive, concern was survival and growth, it was entirely appropriate that those strong enough to prevail in the endless struggle for the scarce prerequisites of life should dominate and guide the species into the future. Only unrestrained and unabated conflict could assure the dominance of the healthiest, the strongest, and, therefore, the best among the species, humans included" (Mendel).

Furthermore, "it was right that the weak die before they harmed the species as a whole by multiplying and thereby perpetuating and spreading their weakness. What could be more 'logical,' 'rational,' or 'scientific?'" (ibid).

Don't wait for a Darwinian rejoinder, because there isn't one. Indeed, the Nazis found abundant confirmation for their values in nature.

That being the case, who would be public enemy number one? That is correct: those bastards who made us all slaves to those fraudulent transcendent values, the Jews. Mendel quotes Himmler, who said that "we had the moral right, we had the obligation toward our people, to kill [the Jews].... you may call it cruel, but nature is cruel..."

And before him, Nietzsche wrote of how "the Jew, with frightening consistency, dared to invert" the aristocratic values reflecting the natural hierarchy of strong and weak, master and slave. Indeed, Jews "gave the world the God of thou-shalt-not," not to mention the value of free will, the preciousness of the individual, and concern for the weak.

That noted bio-ethicist, Hitler, wrote of how "the idea of struggle is as old as life itself, for life is only preserved because other things perish through struggle.... In this struggle, the stronger, the more able win, while the less able, the weak lose." And of all the animals, man alone imagines he can ignore and transgress this law written in nature and in our genes." Thus, "our motto should be -- If you will not be a German, I will bash your skull in." And you don't blame a German for doing this any more than you would blame a tiger for eating a gazelle.

In this upside-down cosmos, life -- raw life itself -- becomes a "Law unto itself." It is divorced from any real value that would imbue it with truth or meaning, and becomes a self-enclosed tautology: "Live intensely, never mind whether the aim or stimulation came came from the 'highest' or 'lowest.'" One might say that Nazism involved a masculine fascism, while in the case of the sixties, it was a feminized fascism.

But just as the vertical doesn't go away just because we collapse it into the horizontal, the masculine doesn't disappear just because it is conflated with the feminine.

Rather, we merely end up with perverse, unnatural, stunted, and inappropriate forms of masculinity and femininity. In the case of men, we end up with wimps or barbarians, while in the case of women we end up with something analogous, for which I haven't yet devised a snappy shorthand.

Note how so many intellectuals were seduced by fascism in the 1930s, just as they were -- and are - seduced by the fascism of the 1960s, right down to our current Dear Leader. Which we will discuss tomorrow.