Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Wheel of Misfortune & the Merry Growround

I really want to get back to our pneumoanalysis of totalitarianism, but haven't had the time. So it's on to Letter X, the Wheel of Fortune, which I originally discussed in the context of a book by Fr. Seraphim Rose, which traces the dialectic of nihilism in the postmodern world through the stages of liberalism --> realism --> vitalism --> nihilistic destruction.

In case you can't make out the action in the card, our unKnown Friend of many years writes that it consists of "three figures in animal form of which two (the monkey and the dog) turn with the wheel, whilst the third (the sphinx) is beyond the movement of the wheel; he is seated on a platform above the wheel."

UF continues: "The monkey descends in order to rise again; the dog rises in order to descend again." Thus, without the sphinx above, the wheel "evokes the idea of a vain and absurd game."

Which indeed life is and must be in the absence of the transcendent "higher third" of which we have spoken in the past. The existence of this higher third, which accompanies us through life, is without a doubt the most shocking feature of this cosmos, and renders any form of materialism utterly beside the point (of life and even existence).

The conquest and colonization of this transcendent position is the true vocation of man, but obviously the vast majority of men prefer the dog and monkey show, as it informs every page of nocturnal metahistory -- by which we mean that the same returns or that history st-st-stutters. The plots change but the theme is pretty constant, otherwise we wouldn't recognize ourselves in the mirrors of revelation and literature.

UF goes on to enunciate the orthodox Raccoon position, which posits the existence of two metacosmic (meaning that they flow from outside time and space) movements (↓↑) that determine whether one's life will be a dreary wheel of misfortune or a veritable merry growround:

"The one is based on the idea of the Fall, i.e., degeneration and descent from above below."

Importantly -- and this is a cornerstone of the whole innerprize, so listen up -- "According to this class of ideas" -- which, of course, is from the vertical perspective -- "it is not the monkey who is the ancestor of man, but rather, on the contrary, it is man who is the ancestor of the monkey," the latter of which "is a degenerate and degraded descendent." After all, if there is evolution, then by definition there is both involution and devolution (which are simply movements on the vertical plane).

If you have difficulty with this concept, just remember the self-evident fact that, just as God is not in the cosmos, but rather, vice versa, man is not in the world. Rather, the world is essentially -- or a priori -- in the human soul. It's all in here, just waiting to be discovered and unpacked -- even atheism (but only in the devolving movement from man to monkey).

It cannot be emphasized too strangely that this inwardness is literally everything. Speaking of God, Meister Eckhart writes that "It is remarkable that anything should pour forth and yet remain within." This pouring forth takes place in the "deep within," so to speak, and "when I say the inmost, I mean the highest, and when I say the highest, I mean the inmost part of the soul -- there I mean them both together in one," a place "where time never entered." It is what we call the inmost upmost vertical bigending (p. 257).

UF continues: "The other class of ideas comprises the idea of evolution, i.e., progress transforming from below above. According to this category of ideas, it is the most primitive entity -- from the point of view of consciousness as well as biological structure -- which is the origin of all beings," and "which is their common ancestor."

So the Wheel of Fortune depicts a quasi-human entity who is on the way down. In contrast, the sphinx "represents the plane and stage of being from which the monkey is moving and towards which the dog is approaching." Now, "Does not the monkey lend itself marvelously to serve as a symbol of the animalization which is effected at the expense of the Angelic and human elements of the prototype being?"

Yes, of course. Man is poised between the two extremes of existence, the spiritual and the material. We are lured by vertical memoirs of the former and hypnotically seduced by misplaced hopes in the latter. Schuon has written that man is "condemned to the absolute," but I prefer to think of it as having a passion for wholeness and a gnostalgia for eternity. The one is aspiration, the other inspiration, or exhalation and inhalation. Our very breath reminds us of the rhythm of eternity.

An insurmountable problem with reductionistic Darwinism is that it only deals with half the circle, which ignores "the ultimate as well as the effective cause of the whole process of evolution," without which it is unintelligible (to the awakened intellect, not to tenured bipeds falling up the academic ladder). Darwinism will always be unintelligible in so far as it "refuses to accept the other half of the circle, that of involution."

Understood esoterically, evolution embodies the mystery of "Fall, perdition, redemption and salvation." As such, one must understand that Darwinism really is fully intelligible to people who have exiled themselves from the fulness of reality. But it would be incorrect to say that they have it "half right," for half of reality is actually no reality, being that it is analogous to living in the "outside" while denying the existence of an inside.

The metaphysical Darwinian is actually a passenger of evolution, not a witness, for to witness it is to have transcended it -- i.e., to have realized the full circle in the flesh. But of course it is an open circle, so that it constitutes the spiraling ontological and temporal structure of being.

Now back to the dialectics of nihilism. Let us stipulate that religion deals with absolute truth, or at least purports to do so. In the end, in the absence of absolute truth, the only option left open to an intellectually honest person is nihilism, because nihilism is simply the doctrine of relativity drawn out to its logical conclusion.

An honest nihilist such as Nietzsche realizes this: God is dead and therefore man becomes God and everything is possible. In the final analysis, the existence of God is the only thing that prevents the intellectually consistent human being from inevitably coming to the same stark conclusion as his Nietzsche brother: “I am God and all is permitted.” Nietzsche also knew full well that once the appeal to absolute truth is set aside, raw power comes in to fill the void. He wasn't necessarily suggesting that this is a good thing, only that it is. So deal with it.

Scientific or logical truth is by definition relative truth. Thanks to Gödel, we know that there is no system of logic that can fully account for itself, or that can be both consistent and complete. Rather, completeness is always purchased at the price of consistency, while a rigidly consistent system will be incomplete -- say, a consistent program of materialism or determinism. Such a philosophy will leave much of reality -- including the most interesting parts -- outside its purview. This is why Marxism is such an inadequate theory. In explaining everything, it explains nothing. But at least it’s rigidly consistent, like Darwinism.

But if there is no absolute there is only the relative, incoherent though that philosophy may be (for the existence of relativity, or degrees of being, proves the absolute, since the relative can only be assessed and judged -- or even perceived -- in light of the absolute). In the face of the the absolute we are easily able to judge various cultures on the basis of their proximity to the ideal.

But once we have destroyed the absolute and descended into relativity, then what necessarily follows is multiculturalism, moral relativism, deconstruction, “perception is reality,” etc. All cultures become equally cherished, with the exception of the culture that believes some cultures are better than others. All truths are privileged with the exception of Truth itself. Belief in Truth itself is "authoritarian" or "fascist."

Ironically, in the relative world of nihilism, I am necessarily all. The world literally revolves around I, since my truth is absolute. The ultimate questions have no answers except for those I might provide.

This is why leftist academia has become so corrupt, for how can it not be “corrupting to hear or read the words of men who do not believe in truth?” “It is yet more corrupting to receive, in place of truth, mere learning and scholarship which, if they are presented as ends in themselves, are no more than parodies of the truth they were meant to serve, no more than a facade behind which there is no substance” (Rose).

The emptiness of relativism evokes the next stage in the nihilist dialectic, realism. This is a novel type of debased realism that entirely excludes the vertical and affirms that only the horizontal realm is real -- that is, the material, external, and quantifiable world. In one fallen swoop, this philosophy of unreality becomes the paradigmatic lens through which mankind is now supposed to view the world. Thus, we somehow purchase "reality" at the price of our own absolute unreality.

My book begins with a quote from Richard Weaver: “The modernistic searcher after meaning may be likened to a man furiously beating the earth and imagining that the finer he pulverizes it, the nearer he will get to the riddle of existence. But no synthesizing truths lie in that direction. It is in the opposite direction that the path must be followed.” Nevertheless, it is in this downward direction that our fall inevitably takes us.

Here philosophy is officially replaced by modern misosophy: hatred of wisdom. It is a childishly naive ideology that confuses what is most obvious with what is most true, and what is most fundamental with what is most real. The cosmos is officially turned upside-down and inside-out, incoherently elevating insentient matter to the the ultimate.

As Father Rose writes, “Worship of fact is by no means the love of truth; it is, as we have already suggested, parody. It is the presumption of the fragment to replace the whole; it is the proud attempt to build a Tower of Babel, a collection of facts, to reach to the heights of truth and wisdom from below.

"But truth is only attained by bowing down and accepting what is received from above. All the pretended ‘humility’ of Realist scholars and scientists... cannot conceal the pride of their collective usurpation of the throne of God...”

Such an individual “becomes a fanatical devotee of the only reality that is obvious to the spiritually blind: this world.” Human beings are reduced to races or classes, spiritual love to animal sex, higher needs to lower desires, while the earth is elevated to Goddess, the dramatic to the significant, the celebrity to the important. A new kind of human monster emerges -- for a monster is simply a human being existing outside the human archetype -- and takes his place a bit lower than the beasts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Is Reality Real, or Just a Name?

We left off Friday with unKnown Friend's explanation of how Christianity in general and the Hermit in particular reconcile the three great antinomies with which any philosophy must grapple, the first one being idealism <---> realism.

The next antinomy is realism <---> nominalism -- which can be confusing, since this type of realism is the opposite of that discussed in Friday's post.

Recall that realism originally referred to the objective reality of abstract universals or platonic forms. But in the sense we will be discussing today, realism is closer to naturalism, since it denies objective reality to transcendent archetypes, and instead grants real existence only to particulars, otherwise known as nominalism.

As UF notes, a realist in the former sense sense of the term is an extreme idealist, e.g., Plato. For Plato, the idea is more real than the things of the world, which are just "copies." But for the nominalist, these so-called objective ideas are nothing more than words which have no independent reality.

Not to get too far ahead of oursophists, but this seemingly innocuous fork in the philosophical road eventually wends its way to deconstruction, multiculturalism, moral relativism,"positive liberties," "gay marriage," etc., the whole catastrophe.

For example, marriage is a natural right that exists prior to the state, and it is not for the state to invent or redefine the archetypes that make us human. Therefore, to promulgate the fantasy that members of the same sex can live in a state of marriage is a kind of barbaric assault on reality. It is mean-spirited, offensive, bigoted, and phobic of reality.

Any scientist who actually takes the trouble to think deeply is a philosophical realist. For example, there is no great mathematician who is not an explicit or implicit Platonist. G. H. Hardy, in his A Mathematician's Apology, wrote that "It would be difficult now to find an educated man quite insensitive to the aesthetic appeal of mathematics.... A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas."

If we consider the whole idea of creation -- i.e., the cosmos....

Wait, let's stop right there: the idea of the cosmos. For that is what it is: an idea. No one has ever seen the cosmos. But it is incorrect to say we just "assume" it exists. Rather, we know in our bones that it exists -- that is, the strict totality of all interacting objects and events, which is a shadow of the Absolute.

There is no part of reality that exists independently of this Absolute. The interior wholeness we see at every level of reality is simply a fractal reflection, or distant echo, of this Absolute. It is what accounts for the organicism of organisms, the nonlocality of locality, the unity of the human subject, and the inner coherence of science.

The realist (i.e., idealist) says that "the general is anterior to the particular" (deduction). The nominalist says that "the particular is anterior to the general" (induction).

Here again, we see how this plays out at the local level, with disastrous consequences. For example, for the left, the collective is more real than the individual, which is why liberals are untroubled by person A getting together with person B in order to appropriate the earnings of person C and give them to person D, so that person D will vote for, and grant more power to, persons A and B.

But the Founders knew that the individual was real and that this individuality was rooted in his liberty, which is the very means through which we become more real -- or realize our reality. It is this idea of liberty which is ultimately real, and which creates the possibility of real individuals (in other words, without liberty, our ideal "created" self will not be able to actualize in time; or, Image cannot embark upon the journey to Likeness).

But for the left, it is only in its concrete particulars that liberty is real, i.e, "positive liberties." In other words, liberty is not real unless the government somehow creates it and gives it to you in the form of cash, favors, and other valuable prizes. You might say that negative liberty preserves the ideal reality of liberty, whereas positive liberty ends in its negation.

For the nominalist, "truth, beauty and goodness do not exist for it as objective realities, and are only a matter of taste," that great leveler of the hierarchical cosmos. One cannot argue with a nominalist, because their first cognitive act is to dismantle the very cognitive scaffolding that makes higher thought possible.

In truth, we clearly need both, i.e., realism and nominalism: "We cannot dispense with realism if we attach any value to the existence of objective truth (science) and trans-subjective truth (religion)."

How to come up with a punchline for this yoke? It's easy, at least if one is lucky enough to have been born in Christendom: "The 'problem' of universals was resolved in the spiritual history of mankind by the fact of the Incarnation, where the fundamental universal of the world -- the Logos -- became Jesus Christ, who is the fundamental particular of the world."

Here, the universal of universals, the very principle of intelligibility, the Logos, became the particular of particulars, the very prototype of the personality, Jesus Christ.

In the words of Eckhart, "he who is devoted to justice is taken up by justice, seized by justice, becomes one with justice." And the just man "is free, and the closer he is to justice, the closer he is to freedom, and the more he is freedom itself."

Which is why for the Raccoon, spiritual knowledge is embodied knowledge or it is no knowledge at all, just nice sounding words.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Herman's Hermits and Harry's Parasites

Slept too long because I stayed up too late viewing the documentary Who is Harry Nilsson?, which I'd been wanting to see ever since I'd heard about it several years ago. It had an extremely limited run, but last I'd heard, couldn't get a distribution deal. Apparently not that much interest in someone who should be much more widely known and appreciated, but just doesn't fall into any easy category. He's sort of his own category. Anyway, the documentary is now up on You Tube in seven eight parts:

I don't know if it will be of general interest to nonHarryheads, but it does tell of a rather dramatic struggle between one's gifts and one's mind parasites. He was dealt a terrible hand in childhood, and at first it seemed as if the parasites would routinely have their way without much interference from the host, what with no interior resources to challenge their dominance.

His gifts nevertheless broke through -- which included a beautiful voice, something like a five octave range, a Brian Wilson-like ease with melody and harmony, clever and quirky lyrics, and well-developed senses of humor and the absurd -- which meant that the parasites had to redouble their efforts to the point of an outright death wish: if we cannot control this host, then we must kill him!

I haven't yet made it through episode six, but I believe he made one last stand before the mind parasites finally succeeded in vanquishing him.

On to Letter IX, The Hermit, which might very well be called Le Raccoon.

At least if memory serves. It is clearly the arcanum with which UF himself most identifies. He says that a person who is "truly young, i.e., living for an ideal," is instinctively drawn to this figure, similar to the Jungian concept of archetypal projection. In other words, the archetype of the Hermit is "within," but we must first locate it without, in order to assimilate its content into the preconceptual form within. Without the experience, the archetype will remain an empty category -- a dead letter addressed from the Self to your self.

The Hermit is "a wise and good father... who has passed through the narrow gate and who walks the hard way -- someone whom one could trust without reserve and whom one could venerate and love without limit."

The reason why there are so many false teachers is that we have an innate need for actual(ized) ones -- just as counterfeit money depends upon the existence of the real thing. But since our culture has largely -- and proudly -- severed itself from its own wisdom tradition, the Deepaks of the world rush in to fill the void. In fact, we can see that Obama is riding the waves of that same archetypal energy field.

Only in a culture that has lost its spiritual bearings could this bumbling cipher be regarded as unusually intelligent or minimally wise. For an insight into Obama's unconscious swamp, just consider the sinister minister he idealized as his own Hermit -- Reverend Wright!

Such an odious choice runs so much deeper than the question of "judgment," for what and who one loves simultaneously reveals who one is and what one shall become. A person who would expose his children to such a spiritually toxic environment is unfit to be a father, much less president. And I mean that quite literally. I cannot imagine assaulting my son's innocence in such a manner.

I am also reminded of an insightful comment by Henry Kissinger that runs counter to conventional understanding. That is, we often hear about presidents "growing into the office," but according to Kissinger, it is the opposite. That is, by the time a man runs for president, he has acquired the bulk of his intellectual capital, and if he should succeed in making it all the way to the presidency, he will simply draw upon the existing capital, not add to it.

For one thing, there is no longer any time to think, to read serious books, or to reflect. This is why Obama seems to shrink smaller and smaller with each passing month, since he didn't have much working capital to begin with -- or, more problematically, it was just the unexamined funny money of the left. And even that seems to have been given to him due to contingencies such as race.

The Hermit "possesses the gift of letting the light shine in the darkness -- this is his lamp." And here is a critical point: "he has the faculty of separating himself from the collective moods, prejudices and desires of race, nation, class and family -- the faculty of reducing to silence the cacophony of collectivism vociferating around him in order to listen to and understand the hierarchical harmony of the spheres."

This reminds me of the task of the psychoanalyst, which is to listen to the patient with "even hovering attention" -- or with the "third ear" -- in order to hear into the deeper layers of the unconscious. One must "unlisten" to the explicit in order to hear the implicit; or delve beneath the plot in order to apprehend the theme. Bion said that one must suspend memory, desire, and understanding, in order to enter a state of faith, or what Bob symbolizes in the book as the receptive and anticipatory mode of (o).

But that is not all, because if it were, we would live in a kind of bloodless idealism which Christianity specifically reconciles with flesh-and-blood reality -- or, materiality, to be precise. In other words, the Hermit unites reality with matter within his own being. Or, you could say that he embodies the ideal, or principle, in imitation of the Master himself (and in whose absence the whole innerprize would be impossible). As UF writes, the Hermit

"possesses a sense of realism which is so developed that he stands in the domain of reality... on three [feet], i.e., he advances only after having touched the ground through immediate experience and at first-hand contact without intermediaries." This is none other than 〇-->(n), or the transformation of prior reality into experience.

So the Hermit is an archetypal reflection of the good father, behind or above whom is the Father in heaven. The Hermit is a little word from our nonlocal sponsor, so to speak.

As UF says, he also represents the method of obtaining valid spiritual knowledge, in that he is able to synthesize within himself the three great antinomies with which any thinking man is confronted, and which any efficacious philosophy must reconcile. These are the complementary pairs of 1) idealism <---> realism; 2) realism <---> nominalism; and 3) faith <---> empirical science.

I remember that when I first read this chapter, I finally appreciated the intellectual and metaphysical brilliance of Christianity, and just what a profound innovation it represents, for it beautifully resolves each of these pairs in a fruitful and dynamic "marriage." I also understood why it is ever a folly to the geeks and a stumbling block to the clueless.

Consider the first antinomy, idealism <---> realism. Most philosophers come down on one side or the other of this pair. It is their first "preconceptual" thought, upon which their subsequent intellectual edifice is built. But they never justify how and why they come down on one side or the other, nor can they ever justify it, because it is totally arbitrary.

Well, not totally. Rather, it will be based upon temperament, or inclination, or just acquiescence to cultural drift, like the eternal question of boxers vs. briefs. Surely it is no coincidence that Bob prefers the "third way" of boxer briefs, for in fact, this is what Toots Mondello was referring to when he spoke of the "sacred undergarment."

Put it this way: Plato was a boxer man, Aristotle a briefs man. But can we possibly fashion a new garment out of these two, one that is both spiritually comfortable but also offers intellectual support, and is not woven of a manmade substance such as polyester?

UF writes that "the idealist (e.g. Hegel) considers everything as so many forms of thought, whilst the realist (e.g. Spencer) affirms that objects of knowledge have an existence which is independent of thought." Where have we heard this before?

Yes. This is surely what Bob was referring to on Page the 26, where he asks, "Where in the world do we begin? Do we have any right to assume that the universe is even intelligible?... Of course we should start our enquiry with the 'facts,' but what exactly is a fact? Which end is up? In other words, do we start with the objects of thought or the subject who apprehends them? And just what is the relationship between apparently 'external' objects and the consciousness that is able to cognize them? Any fact we consider presupposes a subject who has selected this fact out of an infinite sea of possibilities, so any conceivable fact arises simultaneously with a subjective co-creator of that fact."

In the case of realism, "it is the world which bears the word and it is the human intellect which listens." But in the case of idealism, "it is the intellect which bears the word and it is the world which is its reflection" (MOTT).

Who is right? Boxers or briefs?

"Let us not prostrate ourselves either before the world or before the intellect, but let us prostrate ourselves in adoration of the common source of both the world and the intellect -- God: God whose Word is at one and the same time the 'true light that enlightens every man coming into the world' and the creator of the world -- 'all things were made through him, and nothing that was made was made without him" (MOTT).

The source of both world and intellect is the Word, or Logos, "whose objective manifestation is the world of prototypes underlying the phenomenal world, and whose subjective manifestation is the light or prototype of human intelligence." You see, the universe meets in the middle of the monkey, and you are the monkey in the middle of it all.

This formula resolves many philosophical pickles and arms us against many potential falls. For example, our scientistic jester would presumably say that a random contingency which can have no ultimate reality in his system -- the human subject -- is able to affirm valid knowledge of reality, which, as soon as one actually thinks about it, makes no sense.

Therefore, one must not think in order to continue believing it; or else engage in counterfeit thought. But why bother thinking anyway, since the subject isn't really real?

Nor could objects be really real, in the sense that we couldn't really know them. Not really. Rather, we would be trapped in Kant's phenomenal world -- ultimately just our own nervous system -- with no access to the noumenal. But with the Hermit's approach, both objects and the subject who knows them become really real, since they become real in the Word. In turn, assimilating this reality into the Word is to "redeem the world."

*For those who don't know, the "Herman" in the title refers to one of our founders, Herman Hildebrand.

To be continued....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

By the Power Vested in Me, I Declare Myself God

In Letter VII, the Chariot, our Unknown Friend -- although we are getting to know him better -- tells us that this arcanum has to do with that most subtle temptation, spiritual temptation.

It is subtle -- or tricky, cunning, and devious -- because the temptation results from one's very spiritual success, or one's interior freedom of movement, so to speak: "It is the temptation to act 'in one's own name,' to act as master instead of servant." Virtually the entire new age movement is ruled by this particular temptation.

This is why all authentic spiritual paths begin and end with moral development. If they sometimes exaggerate man's depravity, this is far preferable to its opposite -- the unqualified glorification of man -- since one of its purposes is to prevent the spiritual inflation that occurs when spiritual energies are mingled with the unredeemed man, a la Deepak and his ilk. Again, when this happens, one creates a demon, a monster. And it only happens again and again and again.

Schuon said something to the effect that man tests his faith by renouncing, while God tests it by removing. Renunciation has the practical effect of opening up a space where ego activity would otherwise be. Elsewhere in the book, UF says that while nature abhors a vacuum, Spirit requires one. This is in conformity with one of Meister Eckhart's recurrent themes:

"If this work is to be done, God alone must do it, and you must just suffer it to be." Nothing so resembles God "as the human soul. For this reason God wants this temple cleared that he may be there all alone.... Thus, to be receptive to the highest truth and to live therein," we must be "empty and free, receiving the divine gift in the eternal Now, and bearing it back unhindered in the light of the same," AKA the coonspiration of (↓↑).

Here again, the inverse of this would be to furiously deepak our own chopra and spank the Darwinian monkey via The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, or Creating Affluence, or Reinventing the Body, or Unlocking Your Potential For Greatness. He seems to have sold an awful lot of these books. So where are all these great people with reinvented bodies? By all rights we should be crawling with them.

To the extent that Chopra's magical ideas "work," it is because they harness -- or create, rather -- demonic energy. And to the extent that they continue working, it will depend upon how thoroughly one has vanquished the uncreated conscience -- i.e., become less than human, not more.

This is another example of the "negative transcendence" discussed in yesterday's post, and which is intrinsically fascist -- not in the usual insulting way, but literally, since it promises a new glorified man brought to you by... the old unredeemed man. It never works. See 20th century for details.

In a relativistic universe in which there is no difference between up and down, one may become a "superman" merely by obeying gravity. This is why Chopra is apparently regarded as a "wise man" by thousands, instead of the spiritual cancer that he is. For as UF says, "it is not desire which bears magical realization, but rather the renunciation of desire."

Or, one might say, "blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." One must not saturate the space where vertical energies operate. Rather, one must get out of the way.

Here is the key point: "For some the superman has more attraction than the Son of Man, because he promises them a career of increasing power, whilst the Son of Man offers only a career of 'foot washing.'" The ego obviously prefers the way of the superman, and it is to the power-seeking ego which all false teachers and deviant paths appeal.

UF writes that the best curative against spiritual inflation is worshipping that which is above us, which serves as a reminder of the distance between us and the goal. We must not confuse "what we are" with who or "what the worshipped being is."

True enough, in the ultimate sense "all is God." However, it is more accurate -- or less inaccurate -- to say that "nothing is not God." Nevertheless, to paraphrase Schuon, it does one no good to affirm that "I am one with God" until one appreciates the extent to which one is not. Two comes before Three and One.

UF writes that since the purpose of spirituality is the cultivation of height, depth, breadth, and profundity within the soul, inflation is the principle danger for all who would embark upon this path.

As such, this is why there is such an emphasis "on the cultivation of humility," for example, in remaining obedient to orthodoxy (or to the true Master), of systematic and continuous "examination of conscience," and on "the reciprocal brotherly help of members of the community." "Authentic experience of the Divine makes one humble; he who is not humble has not had an authentic experience of the Divine."

This, by the way, is the meaning of the true community of which left wing statism is a caricature. As Russell Kirk writes in Eliot and His Age, the left imposes an exteriorized welfare state that crushes the soul and robs man of his dignity rather than undertaking "the hard and austere labor of thinking through a program for restoring true community."

And because they are "progressive," they actively sever the living link between present and past, the result being that communion with our priceless repository of accumulated wisdom is impossible. To put it another way, the idea of linear "temporal progress" denies the spatial mode of civilization, the psychospiritual "container," womb, or matrix that has nurtured the West for several millennia.

President Obama is suffering from the identical spiritual inflation as Chopra. Note how UF saw him coming half a century ago:

"The reformer who wants to correct or save humanity easily falls victim to the temptation of considering himself as the active center of the passive circle of humanity. He feels himself as the bearer of a mission of universal significance, therefore he feels himself to be more and more important."

And why not, with deeply disturbed creatures such as this serving as his herald:

"You really only get a handful, a smattering, maybe three or four per lifetime if you're lucky or blessed or just so happen to be paying the right kind of deeper karmic attention. Historic events, I mean. Major shifts, upheavals, great leaps forward [!!!!! -- ed.], the Thing That Changed Everything.

"President Obama will be just such a shift, an extraordinary marker, a type and flavor of history that we as preternaturally jaded humans rarely get to experience anymore.... the sheer volume of expansive energy surrounding Obama's run has been absolutely astonishing, a global outpouring of positive interest and awareness like almost no other leader, no other potential slap of progress we've experienced in modern American history. From the international headlines down to the forgotten corners of our own culture we normally never hear from, the message is the same: Something is about to upend. Something seems like it's about to give way."

Yes, something is about to give way (and be taken away) alright. With an Obama presidency, we will now be governed by those least capable of governing themselves, which is a recipe for hell. [Say, how'd that work out, anyway?]

It would not be too difficult to name some politicians whose influence and impact agree very well with the classical concept of the "black magician." Indeed, is it difficult to name politicians who have exercised a deadly, suggestive influence on the popular masses, blinding them and inciting them to acts of cruelty, injustice and violence, of which each individual, taken separately, would be incapable... and who, through their semi-magical influence, have deprived individuals of their freedom and rendered them possessed? And is not this action to deprive men of their moral freedom and to render them possessed the aim and very essence of black magic? --Meditations on the Tarot

Or, if you prefer, straight from the hoser's mouth:

[T]he speech worked such magic.... In essence Sen. Obama's speech said, "I am America," and amazingly enough, people from all walks of life, political persuasions, faiths, and ethnic backgrounds believe him.... Watching cynical reporters and political commentators believe in him almost instantaneously is breathtaking.... If Barack Obama makes it all the way to the White House, it will represent a quantum leap in American consciousness....

True enough, but quantum leaps are not unidirectional.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Between Thought and Expression

Between thought and expression lies a lifetime. --Lou Reed, Some Kinda Love

That pregnant line pretty much encrapsulates the horror of totalitarianism, for what is the latter but a wall between thought and expression?

In the free world, between thought and expression lies exactly one lifetime. Or, the time of one's life consists in the expression of one's thought, precisely, i.e., the actualization of the soul's potential.

And even then, the time one is allotted couldn't possibly contain the expression, which is more or less "infinite." For example, had Mozart lived to 70 or 80 instead of 34, he would have no doubt continued transforming musical thought into sonic expression. It is not as if he -- or it -- would have run out. But he could have also lived to 200 or 300, and we could say the same thing.

Except that if such were the case, works of genius would be so common as to be completely disposable. A play by William Shakespeare would be as rare as a film by Adam Sandler, or a post by some logorrheic spiritual blogger.

There seems to be a cosmic sense of proportion guiding these matters, so that works of genius are accessible without being too common or too rare. To put it another way, in any aesthetic endeavor, 99% of what one encounters will be crap. But if the figure were less than that, we would soon have a glut of excellence, thereby deflating its value.

Back to this question of the nature of totalitarianism. Applied to Lou Reed's formula, we might say that between thought and expression lies a.... state. Or, authority, which is to say, raw power. Or sometimes the means of expression, say, literacy, or a printing press, or the internet. Any totalitarian system must control access to information. Just as it was a crime to teach a slave to read, free access to the internet is forbidden in the totAllahterrorist world.

Perhaps the most concise way of saying it is to reverse the terms: between thought and expression, a lifetime of lies.

This is indeed the peculiar thing about totalitarianism, and what distinguishes it from mere tyranny (or from contemporary authoritarian states).

Think of ancient Rome, for example. As far as they were concerned, you were free to think what you wanted, so long as it didn't threaten state power. There was no need for the tenured to come up with fancy ideologies to legitimize the lust for power, or to reach into the individual soul and try to control its very existence. No one was crucified for political incorrectness, nor were there any low-tech lynchings for having racially impermissible thoughts.

Therefore, one cannot say that a Stalin, a Hitler, a Castro, simply wanted "power." That they already had. For some reason, they also wanted to refashion man by controlling him from within. There was nothing logical about this, because if anything, it only made the regimes more fragile instead of more robust. After all, National Socialism lasted only a dozen years, the Soviet Union less than seventy (ironically, a "lifetime"). By closing off thought in this manner, there is no way for the soul to "let off steam." One either goes insane, numbs oneself (say, with drink), or becomes a rebel.

"The most totalitarian regime is the one where the penetration of the regime into the soul of the individual is complete." Taylor adds that "the people must be made to want what they are allowed to have or to behave as if they want what they have." Therefore, there is always a "pretend" element in totalitarianism, at least until one convinces oneself that the Lie is the Truth. One then lives in "an ideological universe of lies," but no longer recognizes it as such.

I should add that this can be a very subtle process, especially in the non-totalitarian west, where ideology, for the most part, isn't imposed, but rather, seduces and hypnotizes.

For what is ideology but a substitute reality, or anti-world? It is a pseudo reality, like scientism, or materialism, or leftism, something superimposed on the world. Eventually the world is no longer perceived at all. Either it is filtered through the ideology, or critical aspects of reality excluded by the ideology aren't even seen (say, the spiritual world).

I am reminded of a story about a visitor to Moscow who was standing in front of a large Orthodox cathedral. He looked down at the official government map in his hands, but the church was nowhere to be seen. It was forbidden by their ideology to exist.

That is a very ham-handed example of denying reality. But think of the multitude of realities that are forbidden to exist by political correctness. Ironically -- I guess -- there is nowhere in America where thought is more constrained than on a university campus. Between thought and expression lies... speech codes!

Any liberal democracy -- indeed, the very essence of liberalism -- is grounded in the opposite principle: that freedom of expression is the essence of our humanness. Between thought and expression is... everything. It is the potential space -- the transitional space -- where we spend most of our timelessness (assuming we are truly "alive" in the human sense).

One might say that between 〇 and (¶) lies not just a lifetime, but eternity, precisely. It is where we compose our lifetome.

Now, what is totalitarianism but a false absolute? If one's thinking is constrained by any absolute except the Absolute, then one is living under auto-totalitarian rule.

In fact, perhaps totalitarianism is "evoked" by the madness of relativism. Totalitarianism is a solution to a very real problem of modernity, that is, the sundering of a unified worldview into facts and values, quantities and qualities, vertical and horizontal. Totalitarianism "heals" that split -- or, more accurately, stitches the wound closed with barbed wire.

Since man was not made to exist in such an absurd and unintelligible world of absolute relativity -- and to the extent that he rejects the perennial wisdom that articulates the Absolute -- then he will be susceptible to the lure of the false absolute, i.e., the "totalitarian temptation."

This helps to explain the novel emergence of the political religions of the 20th century -- and why public enemy number one of any state religion is always real religion, whether one is talking about communism, Nazism, or the ACLU. If one has ever read a gimme letter from the ACLU, their immorality always comes clothed in a hysteric veneer of moral urgency and crisis -- the perpetual crisis of conservatives who don't want an intrusive state between thought and expression.

Reminds me of Himmler, who, in delivering his speeches to the elect, always did so in the heat of great "moral exhortation." With this kind of stark cosmic inversion, Taylor observes that "We are outside of the human realm..., as though standing before a negative transcendence" (emphasis mine).

This is the very definition of the demonic, in that "these acts were carried out in the name of a good, under the guise of a moral code." And this was a strict moral code. For example, one of the authors notes that German soldiers who routinely murdered Jews were punished if they were caught stealing cigarettes from the corpse.

(This brings to mind Taranto's column yesterday [last story], which stresses the importance of wearing a condom if you are going to have sex with an animal. This is precisely the kind of absurd morality that exists in a scientistic world of negative transcendence.)

As Himmler urged his men, "If we do not find this moral connection, which is the deepest and best connection because it is the most natural, we will never rise to the level necessary to defeat Christianity and to constitute this German Reich, which will be a blessing to the entire world.

"For thousands of years, it has been the duty of the blond race to rule the world and always to bring it happiness and civilization." Emphasis mine, because note the extreme irony of Germans depicting themselves as the chosen people who have the extreme burden of bringing happiness and civilization to the world.

And it was a burden for those poor Nazis. In another address, Himmler said that extermination of the Jews "for those who carry it out is the hardest and most difficult thing in the world." Nevertheless, "I think I can say that this was accomplished without our men or our officers suffering because of it in their hearts or in their souls. Even so, this was a real danger."

I think it is accurate to say that the underlying purpose of ideology is to render the wrong right and the lie truth. It magically allows the means to justify the ends, since the utopian goal is so beautiful.

While there is always a strong element of this in contemporary leftist statism and bureaucratic socialism, there is also the converse: the means justify the end.

What I mean by this is that leftists are not interested in the actual results of their policies. Rather, the policies are always self-justified by the good intentions behind them, for example, forcing banks to make loans to unqualified borrowers, which is at the epicenter of our current economic woes (that and the inevitable day of wreckening for European socialism, since you can toss out economic reality with a pitchforked tongue, but it always comes roaring back; and oddly enough, the burden is once again on the Germans).

To be continued...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A Total Mess Calls for a Total Solution

Why is the left -- particularly leftist intellectuals -- so easily deceived? After all, Obama was their dream candidate. Before him, if the tenured had had their way, we would have had presidents McGovern, Dukakis, and Mondale, not to mention a second term for the despicable Jimmy Carter.

Likewise, intellectuals overwhelmingly supported FDR, and by and large continue to champion his nasty combination of hostility to business, high taxes, big government, heavy-handed social engineering, and income redistribution (even when a program ends up being an income transfer to the wealthy).

Now, believe it or not, I want to be as fair as possible to the left. I am not just trying to engage in polemics, or amuse my readers with the usual two-minutes hoot.

In fact, we can even leave other people out of it, since I can inquire of myself: why on earth did you, Bob, believe all that crap? I was once an intellectual, if by intellectual we mean a person who spends most of his time thinking about stupid ideas that sound good but don't work in practice, especially where human beings are concerned.

So, just how did I get involved in that racket, and how did I extricate myself? In one sense, it isn't difficult to explain. I spent most of my 20s immersed in the world of the tenured, pursuing my BA, MA, and Ph.D. licenses to steal.

But I was never a passive sort of person who was satisfied to simply take the knowledge I was given and use it to furnish my mind for the rest of my life. Rather, I really wanted to understand -- you know, the usual adolescent stuff such as why is the world so f-ing f-ed up, and who the f- can we blame?

Obviously the MSM couldn't be trusted. Back then I would have regarded them as just shallow bimbos as opposed to deceitful and agenda-driven bimbos, although I probably would have also agreed with the proposition that they are all large corporations who don't print or broadcast anything that clashes with their corporate interests (I remember reading Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent with hearty approval).

And conservatism was a priori out of the question. Not only had I had no exposure to conservative philosophy (certainly not in any coherent sense, just maliciously distorted or disunderstood fragments), but would have no sooner turned to it than I would have joined the Nazi Party of America.

Conservatism wasn't just intrinsically false, but plainly malevolent. To say nothing of uncool. Conveniently, I could maintain this fiction because I didn't know any conservatives. Or, if I did, I didn't know about it. Like any other sanctimonious liberal, I truly assumed that liberalism was just common sense and common decency.

Therefore, since I wanted to penetrate beneath the surface, I eventually turned to the usual leftist suspects such as Chomsky, Zinn, the Nation, and all the rest, assuming this was the way any rational and educated person should proceed. So I was among the "seduced" spoken of in The Great Lie, and no one is more seducible than the secular intellectual, for reasons we will get into, if not today, then as we proceed.

One question this collection grapples with is what exactly is totalitarianism? Is it even an "ism," or is it just a tactic? Is it actually a new phenomenon, or just a new name for tyranny? Is it something that human beings gravitate toward, or is it only imposed from the top-down and outside-in? How can two such vastly different cultures -- Russia and Germany -- end in this final common pathway of totalitarianism? And was it an inevitable result of the ideology, or did it have more to do with the men, e.g., Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, et al?

As alluded to in yesterday's post, we shouldn't think of liberal democracy and totalitarianism as opposites, but as situated along a continuum -- or perhaps even like the yin-yang symbol, so there is always a little grain of totalitarianism in the best democracy, and vice versa.

Here is how Vaclav Havel characterized it: "[I]n the end, is not the grayness and the emptiness of life in the post-totalitarian world [he was speaking of 1970s Czechoslovakia under the Soviet boot heel] only an inflated caricature of modern life in general? And do we not stand... as a kind of warning to the West, revealing its own latent tendencies?" After all, if human beings can immerse themselves in the Lie and "be alienated from themselves," it is "only because there is something in them to alienate."

Conversely, if -- as assumed by modern scientism and the philosophical left -- there is no essential self to be alienated, then what's the problem with a massive state engaging in social engineering in order to create its utopian version of a "better" human? Why not?

Furthermore, for the left in general and totalitarianism in particular, there is no intrinsic authority and no moral absolutes, because no God. There is no pre-political truth. As the left teaches us, "the personal is the political," so there is truly no escape from political -- or politicized -- thought and action.

What this ultimately implies is that there is really no individual (much less a free one), which, in a stroke, eliminates the first principle of our liberal Founders.

This would explain how and why self-styled "progressivism" always involves a regression to a pre-individual and collective state of being.

In this context, Taylor notes that communism, fascism, and National Socialism can all be thought of as "a rebellion against this separation, as a project to reintegrate people into a social whole where they find community, duty, and a higher purpose. To the extent that liberal democracy fails to provide these goods, the totalitarian temptation will not disappear."

Meaning that it can never disappear so long as human beings attempt to draw ultimate meaning from politics and/or economics. Nevertheless, this pseudo-religious quest is transparently what the OWSers are all about. The other day, Taranto linked to some representative examples, such as this florid bit of political schlock by a Max Berger:

"The rapid growth of the occupations, the broad public support for the movement, and the incredible amount of media attention it has garnered suggest that we as a people recognize the need to revolutionize our political system and our economy.

"The occupy movement is still in its infancy, but... it has already reawakened the radical imagination, especially for members of my generation by tapping into our surprisingly deep wells of sincerity and authenticity. The unbranded space of the occupation provides the canvas upon which we paint the outlines of our imagined future. In it, we are reminded us [sic] that we all depend upon each other for happiness and survival. In it, we are not consumers or clients; we are citizens in a consensual community that empowers each of us. In it, we are compelled to truly listen to each other..."

And buddy, you must have a heart of stone if that deep well of sincere authenticity doesn't make you laugh out loud.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Neurotic is to Psychotic as Leftism is to ?

Correct! Totalitarianism.

This is one of the many truisms that occurred to me in reading through the essays in The Great Lie: Classic and Recent Appraisals of Ideology and Totalitarianism.

I believe I've mentioned in the past that I was trained in a school of psychoanalysis (let's call it neo-Kleinian object relations) that regards neurosis and psychosis as being more on a continuum, as opposed to being completely distinct and unrelated clinical entities. (There are obvious exceptions, e.g., purely biochemical conditions, but we won't get into that discussion.)

Because of this continuity, I was taught that one could learn a great deal about the workings of the normal/neurotic mind by studying and observing the psychotic mind.

It is as if the psychotic patient has all of the same psychological defense mechanisms as the neurotic, only "writ large," so to speak. Mechanisms that are subtle and difficult to detect in a normal person become all too obvious in the psychotic (or in the normal person under stress) -- which, if you think about it, is true of most pathology. Only when something goes wrong with an organ does one become aware of what it silently and efficiently does under normal conditions.

For example, if you doubt that projection exists, just spend a little time with a psychotic person who is capable of verbalizing his experience. Likewise denial, splitting, distortion, idealization, evacuation, fantasy, somatization, support for Ron Paul, etc.

Or, think of the advances in medicine that occurred as a result of such epic bloodbaths as the Civil War and World Wars I & II. The crazed barbarity of these killing fields nevertheless resulted in important advances in medical know-how. Irony thy name is history.

Bion in particular reconceptualized the conscious/unconscious distinction into more of a psychotic/non-psychotic complementarity. As a result, we are all -- quite literally -- "a little bit crazy," except that the crazy is in a dialectic relationship with the "normal."

However, this implies that "normal" is not opposed to psychotic; rather, normality involves a healthy balance between the two. In order to be normal, one has to be a little crazy. I think this is one reason why people instinctively doubt Mitt Romney's normality. He's just too normal. Conversely, Herman Cain, whose infectious crazy leaks out all over the place, is instinctively seen as refreshingly normal. (One of the problems with politicians is that they have to pretend to be so normal. The most dangerous ones actually believe it.)

Indeed, one can be "too normal," which is the tendency of most adults. Something occurs in their development that causes them to repress or deny the crazy and renders them completely conventional.

In the past, I have noted how ironic it is that my generation -- the baby boomers -- should begin as such self-styled rebels and non-conformists, only to settle into pathetically reactionary liberalism in their geezerhood.

I remember reading an excellent paper called The Normotic Personality that touched on this "disorder of order." (I just remembered that it is actually a chapter in this book, which I hope to discuss in more detail as we go along.)

In a way, the normotic personality is analogous to an auto-immune disorder, or allergy. What is an allergy? It is an overreaction of the body's defense mechanisms to the presence of the not-body. Similarly, the normotic personality scans the psychic environment to shoot down any "not self" -- anything that might threaten one's consciously constructed identity and its narrow reality tunnel.

If we weren't a little bit crazy, the world would be drained of most of its deeper meaning and resonance. We would be like machines, or robots, or atheists. We would be completely boring, in a boring world, like talk radio before Rush Limbaugh, or one of reader William's blogs.

One of the reasons people idealize celebrities and artists is that they seem to live lives in which they are able to give free reign to the crazy. But one doesn't have to read too many biographies to discover that they didn't usually have much of a choice in the matter, and that the crazy eventually swamps the enfeebled non-crazy part of the personality. This was an occupational hazard for jazz and rock musicians, back when those genres were living realities and not just safely contained museum pieces.

In Introduction to the Work of Bion, the authors write that "The multiple experiences of the individual in his contact with himself and with others imply an unavoidable confrontation between his tendency to 'have consciousness' and not to have it, between his tendency to tolerate it and to avoid it." In this context, "the psychotic personality is not a psychiatric diagnosis but designates a way of mental functioning that coexists with other ways of functioning."

As alluded to above, Bion assumes "that all individuals, even the most developed, potentially contain mental functions and responses derived from the psychotic personality, manifesting," among other ways, in hostility toward the mental apparatus.

That latter observation is a key, since one of the ways to most easily detect the psychotic mind in action is via its assault on unwanted meanings. As we have discussed before, meaning results from a union of particulars -- i.e., "facts" -- into a higher principle.

But what if this higher principle is disturbing to the conscious mind, say, the principle that socialism always fails, or that AGW is far from "settled science"? It can easily be dispensed with by attacking any links that lead to that conclusion. Which is why the left's principle method is and always has been attack, slander, defamation, smearing. Paul Krugman's editorials are as clear a contemporary example as one might find of this psychotic mechanism in action.

Reader William inadvertently reminded us of another excellent example of this mechanism, when he (approvingly) linked to a silly Bill Maher monologue suggesting that America's founders would have "hated" the tea party because they were all anti-religious.

To the extent that Maher actually believes such an easily disproved lie, it is only because the left has a whole publishing industry dedicated to legitimizing what leftists wish to believe. But truth infected by desire immediately becomes something less than truth. One of the first things we should learn in life is that the world could care less how we wish it to be.

But there is an intimate relationship between "wishing" and psychosis. I believe this is ultimately traceable to the boundary-less condition of infancy, the one time in our lives when dreams and wishes really do come true, as if by magic.

For example, I have an uncomfortable sensation in my abdomen. I don't know what to call it yet, since I don't have language. Therefore, I begin crying out to the cosmos, and what do you know, a bountiful breast appears, right where I need it! Some people never get over that feeling of omnipotence, which comes down to feeling entitled to the ministrations of the world. The other 90% learn that the world does not owe them a living, that life is unfair, and that it is dangerous (and deluded) to think otherwise.

Another key aspect of the psychotic personality is hatred, or what Bion symbolized as the (H) link. In other words, two subjects can be equally linked by (L) or (H), but the link is just as strong -- and just as needed -- in both cases.

For the psychotic part of the personality, the intolerance of frustration "manifests itself as violent hatred of internal and external reality" (ibid.). Furthermore, the hatred extends to those parts of the personality "that are used to establish contact with this reality and its recognition, that is, extends to everything that has the function of linking."

In The Great Lie, there is a whole section devoted to what the author calls seduction, that is, how so many intellectuals were -- and are! -- drawn to leftism despite its failures and outright horrors. The various chapters touch on what these "thinkers" have to do to their own minds in order to continue their belief in the unbelievable.

In one sense, it is simply the secular analogue of the conversion experience, whereby one has a sudden insight into the redemption of a hopelessly fallen world (indeed, this pseudo-religious aspect is one reason why its adherents have such difficulty with critical thinking and self-awareness).

Russian victims of Soviet tyranny knew all about the reality of Marxism, which is why they could have nothing but contempt for western apologists such as Sartre, Chomsky, and all the rest. Ironically, an imprisoned Solzhenitsyn was at least (spiritually and intellectually) free enough to know that "Marxism has fallen so low that it can now arouse only contempt. No one in our country who wishes to be taken seriously, not even a schoolboy, can talk about Marxism today without a smile."

But western intellectuals still haven't gotten the memo. Or, more likely, consistent with Bion's theories, they simply attacked it away via their unsane principle that anti-communists were more dangerous than communists. The hate is still there, of course, just directed at the wrong people -- much as the left hates George Bush much more than the Islamists.

Well, what was intended to be a very brief introduction has metastasized into a post. To be continued.

Friday, November 04, 2011

To Hive and Hive Not

Arcanum VI, l'amoreux. Oops, pardon our French. We mean zee lover.

Our unKnown Friend from an alternate vertical future -- our own yet-to-be-lived future, to be exact -- writes that the central theme of this card is the vow of chastity, esoterically understood. For "one is chaste only when one loves with the totality of one's being." Therefore, there is no true love in the absence of chastity -- and vice versa.

Chastity is the living unity and wholeness in being whereby body, soul, and spirit become one -- not through a merger that effaces differences but through a harmony that... harmonizes them. This is not uniformity but unity. It is the return of the many to the One, both in oneself and with the other, the former via the latter, meaning that, ironically, it takes two to be at one. (Technically three, but we'll get to that later.)

The bottom line is that two's company and three's a cloud. And whenever two are present, there I AM, raining down.

"There is a difference between spiritual things and bodily things. Every spiritual thing can dwell in another." And "Where I am, there God is; and then I am in God, and where God is, there I am" (Eckhart). When wholeness comes, the partial vanishes (1 Cor. 13:10). Poof!

As usual, the psychospiritual left embodies a direct inversion of this two-in-one principle. For instead of beginning with the individual-seeking-unity, it is in perpetual rebellion against the individual. Rather, it posits the exterior collective -- i.e., the benevilent state -- whereby our fragmentation and alienation are "cured."

Taken to its logical extreme, such a cure represents "perfect integration through perfect fragmentation. That is, the perfect unity of the state requires the utter destruction of all autonomous social bonds, rendering each individual more isolated and powerless..." (Taylor). It is as if the left grinds humanity to dust, molds this desiccated substance, like clay, into its new-and-improved man, and then breaths the spirit of Marx into him.

The critical point is that our drive toward unity can become as perverted and pathological as any other drive. The secular left creates a unity, alright, but it is a physical unity only, a reduction to matter and thus no unity of soul or spirit.

UF writes that "to feel something as real in the measure of its full reality is to love." Obviously, it is no coincidence that Genesis discusses human sexuality in terms of knowledge. Is the Torah simply confused on this matter? Or perhaps disclosing a reality from which the tenured have excluded themselves?

Imagine a typically prudish "human sexuality" class that leaves out the very reality without which sexuality is not human. Obviously, there is no need to imagine it, because the purpose of all leftist ideology is to demoralize and make us less than what we are, which is to say, human (in the full sense of the term, body-soul-spirit).

To love someone is to begin the process of knowing a person in their full reality. The operative word is begin, for as Bion theorized, love is a link (L) between subjects. It merely gets the party started. Until we forge that link, the Other is not really real, just a piece of psychic furniture.

UF explains that -- contrary to substitious materialist sophistry -- the one thing we know as really real is ourselves, the human subject. The materialist denies this reality, rendering the subject a side effect of matter.

Now, matter is obviously a kind of "one," which is an inverted doctrine of spiritual oneness. This material oneness is the false unity that inspires the left, and is the basis of their first political principle, i.e., "what's yours is mine," or "you work, I eat."

How do we escape the prison of our narcissism? Primarily through love, because love partakes of being. There is also knowledge, of course, but unless that knowledge is rooted in love and being via the Intellect, it is no more enduring than smoke driven by wind, and will not survive the Judgment.

UF writes that there are two principle methods of overcoming our cosmic narcissism, generally corresponding to eastern and western religions (although each has both; it is merely a matter of emphasis). The first is obliteration of the illusory ego, so that one becomes a "shadow among shadows." This is the "equality of indifference." If the separate "I" doesn't exist, then we're all one. Being that the ego is the ultimate illusion, just vanquish that illusion, and the doors of perception are cleansed (although nobody's home behind the door).

The other way -- the Christian way -- is to extend the love that one has for oneself to other beings. Instead of "me dead, you dead," it's "me living, you living."

Now, this is difficult to do. Obviously. But you don't try to do it all at once. Rather, you start with a small circle, and then gradually widen the circle. Start at the center, not the periphery. Try loving your neighbor before The Planet. Again, the left begins at the periphery. Obama is the great Unifier. But what kind of unity is it that doesn't even recognize my real existence? I'm not some ant in the leftist hive:

"When a Marxist says 'power to the people,' he isn't talking about actual people.... It takes no time at all to realize that Marxists and their intellectual offspring have no use for actual people in general, and only one use for 'actual people' who do want what they're supposed to want. They treat them like pets."

UF returns to Genesis, where God says that "it is not good that Adam should be alone," which is to say that "it is not good that man should love nobody but hisown." And God wasn't just ribbing, for he then creates the complementary other, who is actually of the same substance as Adam, even a part of himself. To love is to recognize the prior unity: "In the beginning there was only one love and its source was one, since its principle was one."

Again, love has to do with the recovery of higher unity, not the imposition of a lower uniformity. This is a key point. UF agrees that this reality is precisely inverted by the left, but also by old-fashioned Freudianism.

In the case of the left, it elevates economic interest to all. In the case of Freud, he elevated the sexual instinct to all. You might say that the left reduces everything to the first chakra, Freudianism to the second. And both are entirely compatible with materialism, scientism, and metaphysical Darwinism, which try to account for the top by reducing it to the bottom. That's not love. It is hate. Hatred of reality.

Naturalism is not so much a love of matter as a rejection of, or inability to apprehend, that which transcends it. This is why Obama feels that the founders erred in writing a constitution that made it such a hassle for him to appropriate our stuff and give it to others, or why his pal Bill Ayers feels he "didn't do enough" back in his days as a loving domestic terrorist. But he shouldn't worry. As an "educational reformer," he's destroying more young souls than he could ever hope to as a bomb-tossing psychopath.

In the coming year you will see the false love -- the hate -- behind the Obama phenomenon. As his spiritual dementor screamed, God damn America!

Yes, brace yourself for Obama's love, you ungrateful bastards.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

If Nothin' Ain't Broken, Can't Nobody be Fixed

On to the Pope. The central lesson of this card has to do with "vertical respiration," or what our unKnown Friend describes as the double movement of prayer and benediction -- or of (↑) and (↓), respectively. Thus, if you ask why we pray, it's for roughly the same reason we exhale. We do so in order to inhale -- to metabolize oxygen and gita life, buddhi.

The ascending and descending energies are parts of a single movement. In fact -- in a manner of speaking, of course -- you could even say that we are the answer to God's prayers, in that our inspiration is his expiration -- certainly on the plane of creativity.

"The prayers of humanity rise towards God and, after having been divinely 'oxidized,' are transformed into benedictions which descend from above." In prayer, something departs from us, but returns somehow transformed.

The point is, as Schuon once put it, "prayer fashions man." In a way, man is nothing but a prayer placed in the middle of nowhere, a prayer which ascends to the heavens and links the above and below. Man's very verticality -- however conceptualized -- is a prayer, don't you see? And if there were nothing at the other end of our verticality, man as such truly would be a hopeless prayer, just a long bomb hurled by inconscient matter into the cosmic dead end zone.

Even -- or especially! -- the cries of the helpless infant are hope-filled prayers to the Divine Mother. The intersubjective relationship between mother and baby forms a reciprocity dance of mutual projection. When those innocent prayers are systematically unanswered, the infant is ushered into hell -- into some version of autism, narcissism, or depression. An open, intersubjective system with others is not formed, so love cannot enter or escape. While they may later bond with others, it's really a form of external adhesion, not intersubjective relation.

Transferred to the psychospiritual plane, scientism is a kind of autistic bond to the surface of reality. It is also a state of spiritual asphyxia: like expiration with no inspiration. It is the creation of an uncannily lifeless pneumascape by dead and tenured souls.

As UF writes, "Spiritual asphyxia menaces he who does not practice some form of prayer; he who practices it receives vivifying benedictions in some form." There is a reason why the blue states are blue: no spiritual oxygen. When someone has a dead relationship with the Creator, one must always inquire into what it is that the person is projecting into him, i.e., the actual source of the deadness. Suffice it to say that it is within the undead themselves, certainly not within the very source of Life.

Again, there is horizontal respiration, which is between the outside and inside; and vertical respiration, which is between the above and below. UF even suggests that death represents "the abrupt passage from horizontal to vertical respiration," which is why the spiritual life has often been characterized as a rehearsal for death. Apparently, with enough practice, we may convert what is otherwise a sharp right angle into the more gentle arc of spiritual liftoff.

This arc is ultimately a circle that returns us to our(true)selves, the circle being the perfect symbol of eternity. One might say that prayer is thinking within the curved space of spiritual reality, in such a manner that the circle gradually expands.

UF points out that true intellectual or creative work is a prayer. It is fueled by the faith and hope that one's efforts are guided by an end that can only be dimly intuited at the start, never "seen." Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe! Blessed are those who tolerate the ambiguity of facts, that they may penultimately reveal principles, and principles that they may ultimately reveal their Origin. When the world of facts embraces the world of principles, that is a prayer come true. And when God shines through the principles, that is the end (goal) of prayer.

Prayer takes place at night and in darkness. Again, it is a complement to the wideawake & cutandry thought of the day. In fact, it is why we sleep, or more precisely, dream, for to dream is to metabolize the day and weave it into our psychic substance, just as to think and act during the day is to externalize the soul's implicate dreams and visions.

What is human culture but one big soul-dream and/or nightmare? And what is the materialist but a sleepwanker, a man deprived of the vivifying dream of reality, and therefore reduced to mental masturbation?

UF then goes into the critically important theme of the wound, and how it is only through the wound that the cosmos is entangled with itself. The senses are wounds through which we are penetrated by the world on various planes and in various modes.

Until the appearance of life, there was only an exterior cosmos. But with the appearance of life, there was suddenly this new category, an interior. But in order for there to be an interior, there had to be an exterior with which to exchange matter, energy or information, and this can only take place through a wound.

This implies that there actually was no exterior to the cosmos prior to the emergence of life, being that exterior and interior co-arise. Therefore, there was just.... what? You figure it out.

UF reiterates that our senses are wounds, and painful ones at that. Without them, the world cannot penetrate us, but sometimes the penetration can damage us. We feel, but as a result, we are aware of pleasure and pain. We see, but that gives rise to both beauty and ugliness. And if you cannot suffer pain, you cannot suffer pleasure.

It is through the wound that an otherwise closed system becomes an open one. In order to know the objective world, one's mind must be wounded by it, by the "nails of objectivity." Likewise, to know God, one's heart must be wounded, which is to say, a vertically open system.

When we wonder, we are exploring our psychic wound, our intrinsic incompleteness and need for the Other. When we think, we are trying to heal it. How did the wound get here? Animals don't have that particular wound.

And when we pray, we are exploring our spiritual wound. How did it get there? Why this wounded heart?

I suppose so we can know we have one, so that it may be healed in love. God save the man without a broken heart! By breaking it.

We the People of the United States, in Order to... secure the Blessings of Liberty [↓] to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution [↑] for the United States of America....

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Shock Treatment and Mystical Obliturature

We are still mulling over the meaning of the passage from Monday's post, "Nine out of ten authentic mystics agree that the unKnown God is 'superior' to the known God."

In writing it, I was undoubtedly thinking of Meister Eckhart -- or he of me -- whose sermons I have been reading, for this would clearly be one of his takeaway points. Eckhart wasn't saying anything new, nothing that wasn't previously said by such luminaries as Maximus Confessor or Denys the Areopagite.

He was, however, saying it in a new and more pun-loving way, and saying it to a new audience consisting of regular churchgoers instead of concealing it behind the formal latin and linear logic of scholasticism. Eckhart is always aware of the fact that lived experience is infinitely richer than our ability to articulate it.

What Eckhart is really doing is playing with apophaticism, the latter of which is at the heart of any orthoparadoxical approach to, and formulation of, God, and which prevents us from confusing the divine form with its content (or its energies with its essence). It has a venerable tradition, beginning with the unpronounceable name of JHVH, which comes down to the impossibility of reducing the clearobscuro I AM to any cutandry HE IS.

Regarding Eckhart's freevangelical pundamentalism, McGinn writes that he "deliberately adopted a strategy designed to shock the reader" or listener, and "consciously adapted [a] fluid hermeneutic of multiplication [of meanings] and mischievousness for the good of his students and his lay audience."

In so doing, his linguistic jive-alarmamentarium included paradox, oxymoron, chiasmus, parallelism, antithesis, hyperbole, negation, and the negation of negation (McGinn). These modalities contribute to "the 'shock treatment' of a mystical discourse designed to awaken by challenging traditional modes of speaking and understanding" (ibid).

Shock treatment. Reminds me of a swimming pool. As you pool owners know, in addition to regular chlorination, every once in awhile you have to shock the pool with an extra strong dose of chlorine, in order to neutralize all of the little beastlings that survive the regular dose.

The same applies to theology, only more so. You might say that the usual pneumababble and sanctified blah blah is analogous to regular chlorination. You can get so used to it, that you don't really hear it anymore, or it no longer penetrates to the core. Perhaps it keeps most of the mind parasites at bay and algae off your north face, but everyone recognizes the need for the occasional shock treatment, whether it involves going on retreat, intensifying one's prayer life, or exposing the parasites to a deadly dose of One Cosmos nonsense.

Prior to Joyce, I can't think of anyone who played with the possibilities of language -- the word! -- more than Eckhart. Obviously referring to himself, Joyce writes in Finnegans Wake,

"Shem is as short for Shemus as Jem is joky for Jacob. A few toughnecks are still getatable who pretend that aboriginally he was of respectable stemming [but] every honest to goodness man in the land of the space of today knows that his back life will not stand being written about in black and white. Putting truth and untruth together a shot may be made at what this hybrid actually was like to look at." (I think Joyce is speaking of what happens if we shine too bright -- and too unplayful! -- a rationalizing light on scripture, in this case, the Torah.)

Nevertheless, despite his flaws and failings, the author, the conveyor of the Word, "lifts the lifewand and the dumb speak," meaning that his words have the power of life. (For Eckhart, knowledge is life, and vice versa.)

So, as with Joyce, it's difficult to know when Eckhart is just pulling your leg. And even when he does, he's usually just trying to make the wrong one right, so it goes all the way to the ground.

For Eckhart, the ground -- or perhaps groundless ground -- is the Godhead, which is (vertically) anterior to God. That is, "The Godhead becomes 'God' in the flowing of creation."

This is just the kind of statement that can get a man in trouble if his inquisitors lack a sense of humor. And proportion.

Eckhart explains: "Though it may be called a nescience, an unknowing, yet there is in it more than in all knowing and understanding without it, for this unknowing lures and attracts you from all understood things, and from yourself as well."

This results in a kind of soul-flooding -- since we cannot possibly contain the divine essence -- which "runs over and floods into the powers and into the outward man."

It is not just a "turning around" (metanoia, repentance), but a kind of cosmic inversion whereby the world-current is reversed and we live in the state of what we call O --> (n).

In fact, "no man ever went astray for any other reason than that he first departed from this, and then sought too much to cling to outward things.... [T]here are many who sought light and truth, but only outside where it was not to be found. Finally they go out so far that they never get back home or find their way in again" (M.E.).

This is what we have in the past referred to as the "terminal moraine of the senses." But one could just as well call it a desert or dump or OWS encampment.

Reader Gabe expresses concern that "I cannot help but think that when you try to integrate different ways of knowing, after you have found one you trust, you run a risk of picking and choosing what you like," and "when you admit other sources besides the one that brung ya' where you're at, it messes with your frame of reference."

True enough, but there is another side to that coin. It wasn't too long ago -- just a blink of the world-hisorical eye -- that the religions were separated from each other by geographical, linguistic, and cultural barriers. As Schuon notes, each of them speaks of the "absolute," and designates itself as its guardian. But how can there be more than one absolute?

This question generally leads either to a kind of adamantine literalness or a corrosive cynicism, neither of which is conducive to growth. In the words of Schuon, "Confronted with a relativism that is growing ever more intrusive, it is necessary to restore to the intelligence a sense of the absolute, even to the point of having to underline for this purpose the relativity in which immutable things are clothed."

In other words, in order to preserve the absolute from the ravages of relativism, we must not absolutize that in which it is "clothed."

To put it another way, relativism has its rights. To deny relativism is to foster a totalitarian system, a la Iran or Saudi Arabia, where the absolute absolutely bars relativism, including such first degree relativities as liberty, private property, individualism, democracy, rule of law, meritocracy, and science.

What we need is a balance, or better yet, complementarity, between absolute and relative, not one or the other, each of which results in its own particular hell.

In fact, this book I'm working on, The Great Lie: Classic and Recent Appraisals of Ideology and Totalitarianism, fits right in with today's theme, in that the various political religions of the left "utterly deny the legitimacy of the liberal idea of separate spheres in social life and they replace the liberal distrust of politics with an absolutization of the latter."

This is the loony logic behind the intellectual children's crusade of the OWSers, who tell us that "government is corrupt and not to be trusted, and we need lots more of it!"

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

My Absolute Can Beat Up Your Absolute!

I woke up late and just commenced to typin'. This post is probably all over the place. I'll try to tie it together tomorrow, when I have more time. For now, I present it to you fully half-baked, just as it came out of -- or into? -- the fog.

"Nine out of ten authentic mystics agree that the unKnown God is 'superior' to the known God. How could it not be so? It is foolish to imagine that we could ever contain the uncontainable within our borrowed being" (from yesterday's post).

I was about to say that this ought to be an uncontroversial statement, but the comments from yesterday suggest that it isn't. And I can see why not, because it challenges the absoluteness of one's religion. But it shouldn't, because religion is about the Absolute, not the Absolute itself.

As Schuon writes, "the sense of the absolute is situated in each [religion] on a different plane, so that points of comparison often prove illusory."

For example, in Christianity, the Absolute is located in a person; in Judaism, a book; in Buddhism, an experience. Each of these conveys a sense of the Absolute, which, for most people, is "sufficient."

Problems arise when people begin fighting over their version of the Absolute, when we should be much more concerned with the values that flow from recognition of the Absolute.

As Dennis Prager says, it is irrelevant to me whether a person shares my religion. After all, Obama claims to be a Christian. What is much more important is that he share my values, which are the very opposite of his. He too has a sense of the Absolute, but he perversely locates it in the state -- which is only the latest iteration of the progressive "instinct" for tyranny and absolutism.

Speaking of which, I'm currently reading this book about Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism, and one thing that immediately jumps out is that the truth of modern liberalism is even worse than how contemporary conservatives characterize it. Back then, Wilson could innocently present pure liberalism, without spin or deception, equivocation or dissembling.

For Wilson, it was absurd to suggest that the Founders were dealing with universal truths and natural rights. Rather, they were just creatures of their times. We -- meaning state officials armed with Ivy League degrees and good intentions -- needed to toss aside the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, if we really wanted to get things done.

For Wilson, the separation of powers prevented the state from doing what it needed to do for your benefit, you ungrateful peasant. As he said, "if you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface" -- you know, all that abstract stuff about life, liberty, and natural rights conferred by the Creator instead of the almighty state.

Back to where we were ("Nine out of ten authentic mystics agree that the unKnown God is 'superior' to the known God.") Ironically, I think exoteric Christianity conveys this idea on an intuitive level via the Trinity. God the Father "sends" his Son for our benefit. No one has seen the Father, but we can see the Son.

And yet, "I and the Father are one." Wha... Shouldn't the Father "superior" to the Son? It is impossible to answer that question without getting into theological trouble, but from our perspective it would appear so. Which is why the doctrine that they are actually one is non-obvious, and could only be given to us through revelation and faith.

Incidentally, I think the same basic complementarity applies to the exoteric/esoteric dimension, and Unknown Friend even says so later in the book.

Reader Gabe says that "the phrasing [about the superiority of the unknown God] leads me to think this is mostly just fun, but please, what does this mean?"

The question -- and I don't mean this in any pejorative sense -- reminds me of what the fun-loving Meister Eckhart went through in his day. He was considered an eminent and completely orthodox teacher until the very end of his life, when he ran afoul of Church authorities, but for completely political reasons.

I found a copy of the complete vernacular sermons that costs under a hundred dollars, and the introduction points out that Eckhart was basically caught in the crossfire between rival gangs of Franciscans and Dominicans (sounds like a Monty Python skit).

Blame the church? Yes and no. You must remember that back then, there was yet to be a distinction anywhere on earth between the sacred and profane, between power and faith, between politics and God (that had to wait until 1787).

Today we worry about religion encroaching on politics, but back then it was the other way around. Think about the extent to which politics seeps into everything these days (especially for the left), even though we have a specific category for it. Now imagine what it must have been like before we had a separate category to contain it! All of those corrosive impulses got into everything.

This is precisely what the Founders were so concerned about -- not just separating the realms of politics and religion, but then trying to see to it that the realm of politics didn't tear itself apart, as it usually does, redounding back to anarchy or tyranny. Time and again they spoke of the danger of what they called faction, which they treat as analogous to some kind of political "original sin."

For example, Federalist 10 says that "the latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man." For the Founders, "human nature does not improve, and there is no progress to a point where we can stop worrying about the factious nature of men and the pernicious ends toward which it might direct the power of the state" (Pestritto).

Beware most of all the administrative state, the pragmatist, the independent, the moderate, the neutral "problem solver," since these are all just the latest covers for the worst kind of faction. In 2008, America thought it had elected such a person -- you know, just a non-ideological smart guy who would solve our problems.

But today, no less than in Eckhart's time, there is no thinkable thought that is radically separable from religion, and this is especially true of the left, since they have no sophisticated, separate cognitive category with which to articulate their innate religiosity (except for that which they fancifully project into the religious).

As usual, the Bible has more wisdom about the nature of faction than one will encounter in four years of college with three years of graduate school thrown in. What is the first faction? One can look at it in different ways. First there is the rebellion against God, creating the "faction of man" against the Divine. This always leads to disaster, from Babel to Communism to National Socialism to the European Union.

Then there is the faction of man against woman, instead of the cosmic complementarity (and union) of man and woman, i.e., male-and-female he created them. Denial of this complementarity leads to any number of abominations, from compelling women to live in black bags to forcing the "impossible possibility" of homosexual marriage upon the citizenry.

Remember, America was uniquely created in order to preserve and protect our natural rights, one of which is marriage (which is obviously prior to the state, and even a necessary condition for the state). In no metaphysic -- whether religious or biological/scientistic -- could homosexual marriage be considered "natural."

The next faction in Genesis is between the brothers Cain and Abel, and it is characterized by envy. The envy is, of course, located in Cain, but envy victimizes both the host and its target. The envier can kill the envied but will be none the happier for it.

The OWS protesters live in a kind blissful ignorance of this psychic fact, giving free play to their destructive envy, when one of the purposes of life is to transcend envy. It is indeed a key to any kind of personal happiness.

You might call it Chinese politics: you can eat the rich, but you'll be hungry again an hour later.