Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Wizard of Washington and His Cowardly Lyin'

Just as the American economy is so robust that it takes a genius to screw it up, the concept (never mind reality) of God is so deep and enduring that it generally takes a dyed-in-the-woolyheaded gnostic to oust him from the cosmos.

"By gnostic movements," Voegelin is referring to such ersatz religions as "progressivism, positivism, Marxism," not to mention "communism, fascism, and national socialism." He tosses in psychoanalysis, which is only half-true (but more true when this was written in 1960), and would require some lengthy qualifications, so we won't go there. At least for long.

Suffice it to say that there was a time that psychoanalysis took on the trappings of a hierarchical, gnostic cult that had all the answers to life's conflicts and enigmas, with analogous rituals such as sacrifice (of money), descent into the netherworld, forgiveness, rebirth, and initiation. It can become a kind of closed world, which is precisely when it becomes pneumapathological (as is true of any open system).

For me, the psychoanalyst W.R. Bion provided the means of escape from psychoanalysis without invalidating it. It's too bad something analogous can't happen with Darwinists and other reductionoids, since it is simply a statement of fact that no ideology can enclose the soul, unless the soul wants to be enclosed, which is to say, swaddled in twaddle, muffled in piffle, and cocooned in buffoonery. When one realizes this (?!), it is either liberating or terrifying, depending on one's politics.

Bion: "I shall use the sign O to denote that which is the ultimate reality represented by terms such as ultimate reality, absolute truth, the godhead, the infinite, the thing-in-itself. O does not fall in the domain of knowledge or learning save incidentally; it can 'become,' but it cannot be 'known.' It is darkness and formlessness but it enters the domain K when it has evolved to a point where it can be known, through knowledge gained by experience."

Similarly, "the reader must disregard what I say [that means you!] until the O of the experience of reading has evolved to a point where the actual events of reading issue in his interpretation of the experiences."

See how that works? I am never just writing, always provoking (especially myself). Or at least that is the I-deal I've made with mysoph. I haven't succeeded if I haven't "irritated" something in you, although whether the irritation is interpreted as pleasurable or painful is on you.

O "stands for the absolute truth in and of any object; it is assumed that this cannot be known by any human being; it can be known about, its presence can be recognized and felt, but it cannot be known. It is possible to be at one with it. That it exists is an essential postulate of science but it cannot be scientifically discovered.... The religious mystics have probably approximated most closely to expression of experience of it. Its existence is as essential to science as it is to religion" (ibid).

Those two extended quotes come close to expressing our overall credo, or telegraphing our open stance toward this queer cosmos.

You can see how Bion would be considered "controversial" among fellow analysts, especially the old-school ones of the time who were well up in the hierarchy of the Church of Psychoanalysis. The peevish poobahs whose pride and identity revolve around their superior intellect don't generally like to be informed that they not only know nothing, but that what they know is a kind of cowardly lie in the face of the uncontainability of O. Silence!

Back to Voegelin. He writes that none of the above-noted gnostic gruesades "began as a mass movement." Rather, they always begin with some intellectual clown, or posse of clowns, who tries to enclose O and thereby drink the ocean. If their arguments were compelling, then no one would have to be forced to accept them, which shows the lack of intellect at the heart of this destructive intellectualism.

You will have noticed that Obama always speaks as if everything he says, believes, and prescribes is self-evident (which it no doubt is to the provincial tenured and indoctrinated media). But again, if it were true, then no one would have to be forced to accept it. If he actually had faith in truth, then he would simply express it and wait for others to nod in agreement, as they did back in college.

But to employ legislative and judicial treachery to force transformative political and cultural changes down our unwilling gullets, implies a lack of faith in both truth and in Americans. He is sowing seeds of dissent and conflict that will long outlive him, just as occurred with the judicial perversion of Roe v. Wade (for just as there is pneumapathology, there is what might be called "lexopathology," to almost coin a term).

One conspicuous irony -- and this is vividly displayed in the rantings of Obama's spiritual mentor -- is that these types of political religions are ultimately "modifications of the Christian idea of perfection" (Voegelin). For the Christian, life is a pilgrimage shaped by its telos-attractor beam, which is not attainable in this world, even though it is the source and vector of meaning in this world.

But gnostic man simply transposes this journey to the immanent plane, which thereby becomes both his axis in space and his destiny -- or fate -- in time. Indeed, this is precisely what it means to be a "progressive." It is what Obama is saying when he subtly proclaims that "white peoples' greed runs a world in need." Doesn't get simpler than that, nor is the solution more self-evident once the premise is accepted.

They call it "black liberation theology," and it is definitely liberating, after a fascion. But to be liberated from O is like being liberated from gravity -- exciting at first, until the oxygen -- and money -- runs out.

When the teleological component is immanentized, the chief emphasis of the gnostic-political idea lies on the forward movement, on the movement toward a goal of perfection in this world. The goal itself need not be understood very precisely; it may consist of no more than the idealization of this or that aspect of the situation, considered valuable by the thinker in question (Voegelin).

You don't say. Breaking news from 2008!

I'm a good wizard, just a very bad president.

16 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

It is what Obama is saying when he subtly proclaims that "white peoples' greed runs a world in need." Doesn't get simpler than that, nor is the solution more self-evident once the premise is accepted.

I'm reminded again of the problem of Jew hatred and the effect that it always has on cultures that foster it. If one believes that all-powerful Jews are running this, that and the other major industry, one must then come to believe that all one's problems are the fault of those in power. If that's how bad it is when one blames Jews for all one's problems, how much worse and more crippling must it be if not only Jews, but every person of pallor is engaged in a conspiracy to keep one down?

But gnostic man simply transposes this journey to the immanent plane, which thereby becomes both his axis in space and his destiny -- or fate -- in time. Indeed, this is precisely what it means to be a "progressive."

And I suppose this is why it's perfectly legitimate for a person who really wishes (when it's convenient) that she was of a different race to simply claim it. If it's a progressive's destiny to be Cherokee for a little while, who is anyone else to judge?

5/23/2012 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Related: the left is a religion.

5/23/2012 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Hi Bob,

When I read Voegelin, it sometimes come across he may be against any sort of immanent spiritual disposition. From his perspective, any sort of orientation that is teleological and immanentized has a danger to it. However, all the ersatz religions he mentions were not truly grounded in spirit, and looked at only part of the total picture. As such, maybe a spirituality that has a "movement toward a goal of perfection in this world" could work if it's only goal is the evolution of consciousness in culture. What's your take?

5/23/2012 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"The Wizard of Washington and His Cowardly Lyin'"

Ok, that just got me.

Ok then, moving on to the first sentence....

5/23/2012 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ted: Yes, that would be the (small o) orthodox view of things. There is an (happily) unresolvable dynamic tension between immanence and transcendence, and what we call "evolution" takes place in between, in what Voegelin calls the "metaxy."

5/23/2012 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

@ted

My impression is that the problem with the immanentized telos is that its proper end cannot be earthly, so it is always a mistake.

Some do not attempt any realization of perfection in this world, which is somewhat extreme. Others though, to varying degrees, try to attain as much perfection in this life/world as is sane and possible, with the knowledge that whatever perfection there is, it must point beyond this world.

5/23/2012 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Thanks, I haven't come across the term metaxy yet. Works for me.

5/23/2012 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In capital O Orthodoxy they often speak of the journey from image to likeness of God, or from potential to actuality.... Which is why we should keep our feet in the ground but keep reaching for the starets.

5/23/2012 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sobornost Also related, and somewhat to the topic. Sometimes it is called 'conciliarity' or 'community' - a kind of metaxy of its own.

5/23/2012 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Ted said "As such, maybe a spirituality that has a "movement toward a goal of perfection in this world" could work if it's only goal is the evolution of consciousness in culture."

Ted, what faith would live in a movement toward this goal?

5/23/2012 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/24/2012 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

@EbonyRaptor:

Could be any reasonable faith or a new one. Christianity in itself has been about this, but gets framed in many different ways depending on where the aspirant is at. I am just stating in a way that is culturally relevant and metaphysically coherent for me.

5/24/2012 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

It's more than consciousness, though... the stuff - matter - is quite inert and slow to change - as long as man is embodied consciousness alone does not suffice.

5/24/2012 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

@River: True, so let me revert to Nagarjuna's pronouncement that form is emptiness, and emptiness is form; only that form is evolving. So consciousness, the way I am defining it, is both form and formless.

5/24/2012 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

@Ted

I may have misunderstood or not understood well enough, but I thought you meant to strive toward an unatainable goal to get as close as possible. It seems faith would be put in the ability of man rather than in the grace of God. Its the difference between striving to grasp rather than striving to be receptive ... if that makes sense.

5/24/2012 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

@Ebony: "striving to grasp rather than striving to be receptive"

Yes, that does make sense, and I really like how your put that. Thanks!

5/25/2012 08:08:00 AM  

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