Pneumagraph #640 of My Summa Vocation
Still, a brief introduction is warranted. I'm short on time again, so I decided to pluck an old one from four years ago. This ended up taking longer than anticipated, because no suitable candidate from June 2008 could be found. I then jumped back to June 2007, but again wasn't terrible impressed.
I eventually settled on this one from five years back -- #640, as it turns out -- finding it to be the least annoying. But in the time it took to wade through the arkive, I could have probably written a new one.
Anyway, either there is an Absolute or there isn't. But if there isn't, there is, since that's an absolute fact. So let's all, believer and non-believer alike, just acknowledge its existence. Don't worry, it doesn't mean you have to identify it with the Judeo-Christian God, or that you need to worship it. You can still be an assoul.
Now, the Absolute necessarily shades off into the relative, but at a point that is more or less impossible to identify precisely. Thus, it is difficult to say exactly where orthodoxy turns into heresy, morality turns into immorality, or a true American turns into an anti-American.
But in each case, people who fall into the latter categories use the existence of this continuum as a pretext to argue that the former are illusions and that "all is relative." In turn, this abolishes the idea of sin, error, and truth, since they imagine that they have eliminated any objective standard.
This is a hopelessly unsophisticated ontology, for it assumes that higher realms are mathematical in their precision. In reality, they are not so much like mathematical equations as they are like, say, magnificent granite monuments. The greatest theologians are somewhat like painters who evocatively can convey an image of this monument with clarity and resonance, but it is nevertheless an image and not the thing-in-itself.
This is what I meant the other day when I said that revelation is the closest we can come to an objective representation of O. Revelation is like an image of the monument, given by the monument itself. Nevertheless, each person's angle on the monument is necessarily going to be different.
Analogously, if you put thousands of people with cameras at the base of the Matterhorn, the photos are all going to be slightly different -- in other words, there will be the illusion of diversity despite the fact that there is only one Matterhorn. With respect to itself, it is not relative but absolute. In short, our view of the Absolute is necessarily relative, but only relatively so -- it is "relatively absolute." There is no such thing as absolute relativity, on pain of total absurdity.
A photograph is not just a literal translation but a transformation, as is perception itself. To perceive something is to transform an object in such a way that certain abstract coordinates and relationships are preserved, while others are distorted.
If you consider the modern art of the early 20th century, for example, artists were attempting to stretch the coordinates between object and image in creative new ways. The invention of the camera was one of the main reasons for this, after which painting became increasingly liberated from the object.
One could say that James Joyce did the same with language. Instead of trying to use it like a photograph to map reality in a 1:1 manner (which is impossible anyway), he used language in a new "holographic" way, so that it in turn mirrored the hyperdimensional nature of consciousness itself. He was actually using language to alter consciousness in such a way that a new view of reality emerged.
For example, let's take the first sentence of Finnegans Wake:
rivverun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
At first blush, this sentence appears to nonsense about nothing. In other words, it is difficult to apprehend the object of which this sentence is supposed to be a representation.
Nevertheless, like the hyperdimensional object scripture endeavors to disclose, this sentence is an adequation to a reality that transcends the senses. This reality is called "history," which in turn is thoroghly entangled with consciousness itself -- the same consciousness that is both the subject and the object of history. For Joyce, history was literally like a dream (or nightmare), in the sense that there is the Dreamer and the dream, but in the end, the two must be one and the same.
Therefore, it is very difficult -- impossible really -- to actually write "straight (or what Joyce called 'wideawake and cutandry') history" and imagine that the historian is not actually its dreamer. We are all in this thing called "history." History surely exists. And yet, we could no more objectively and exhaustively describe it than we could objectively describe the content of a dream. Rather, we can only take our photographs of the Matterhorn.
For one thing, where is the line between the dreamer who dreams the dream and the one who experiences it? In this regard, a dream is very much like a spider's web, which the spider spins out of its own substance and then proceeds to inhabit. Human beings are no different, only on a more abstract plane. Do you really think that the web a leftist spins out of his psychic substance and then inhabits is anything like your web? Or an atheist? Or an Islamist? Each of these, in his own way, is un-ironically entangled in a psychic web they take for reality.
How to extricate oneself from the psychic webs we create? "History," wrote Joyce, "is the nightmare from which I am trying to awaken." When I watched the Democrat debate the other evening, I could see how each of the candidates offered their "prescription for a nightmare." The nature of leftism prevents the one and only true cure, which is to say, "just wake up."
Rather, leftism as such is the philosophy of creating newer and stronger soporifics in order to maintain sleep [see Europe for details]. In so doing, it aggravates the symptoms it is supposedly treating, and simply makes the nightmare worse. Plus, people get hooked on leftist prescriptions, and require more and more of them in order to stay asleep, just like an addict. Rule One of the left is that the state must always grow. Like a shark, it dies if it stops moving Forward.
I am currently reading an outstanding book entitled A History of the English Speaking Peoples Since 1900, which attempts to be a corrective to all of the noxious deconstruction that really got under way in the 1960s. Back then they called it "revisionist history," which sounds innocent enough, but which in reality was highly agenda driven, and attempted to rewrite history in such a way that the English speaking peoples were the villains rather than the (literally and repeatedly) (lowercase s) saviors of history.
It is interesting how easy it is to trace the roots of today's rank-and-foul leftists in a straight line back to their academonic source. For once history is deconstructed, it is very difficult to put it back together again. Thus, the left is operating in an upside down world first made possible by the early revisionists who, among other things, argued that America's founders were just a bunch of greedy white males protecting their economic interests, or that capitalism is pure exploitation instead of an extraordinary liberator of human potential, or that the colonized did not benefit from colonialism, or that America was at fault in the Cold War, or that Roosevelt's economic policies helped rather than aggravated and prolonged the great depression, or that poverty causes crime, or that it was wrong to drop the atom bomb on imperial Japan. These and similar ideas proliferated exactly like a toxin, infecting all of the academic rivers and then flowing downhill into the streams of journalism and politics.
What is so striking about the book is how America has remained constant, while the left has changed so dramatically -- and gained so much cultural power. For example, there is no moral difference between the way Roosevelt responded to the fascist threat of his day and the way President Bush is responding the Islamo-fascist threat of our day. The only difference is that America's motivations have been so undermined by the left, that it is as if we are dealing with two entirely different countries. But when did the "good" America of Roosevelt and the "greatest generation" transmogrify into the evil America of President Bush? It never did. Again, it is exactly the same fundamentally decent country. Only the left has changed.
Actually, one other thing that has changed -- for the worse -- is how utterly ruthless men such as Churchill and Roosevelt were in pursuit of their war aims. If it had been revealed in 1943 that some German or Japanese soldiers had been mistreated in an American prison camp -- which some no doubt were -- I cannot believe that any American would have wasted two seconds anguishing over it. Whatever we did could never approach the barbarity of the Germans, Japanese, and Soviets. And besides, there is no moral equivalence whatsover between what America and her enemies do, any more than there is an equivalence between the police and criminals just because they both shoot people.
To call Gitmo a "gulag" represents a kind of moral stupidity that is satanic in its implications. One of the most horrific consequences of leftist thought insinuating itself into our discourse it that it prevents one from speaking simple moral truths. It undermines everything -- not just morality, but even the ability to speak about morality. I believe this is because, following Descartes, it elevates our capacity to doubt to the highest wisdom. Thus, it ends up with cynicism as the highest ideal: a philosophy of stupidity, including moral stupidity.
Returning to our original metaphor of the monument and the mountain. The leftist notices the unavoidable fact that different people have different views of the monument. Therefore, the monument doesn't objectively exist. Furthermore, anyone's view of it is just as good or bad as anyone else's. As such, Truth is abolished and raw power rushes in to fill the void. The leftist always speaks power to Truth. Always.
In conclusion, this blog represents my ongoing effort to describe the cosmic monument as comprehensively as possible. In short, I am not advancing an argument but re-presenting a vision of what I see. It is a single object, but there are many views of it. I guess this would be #640 so far. Tune in tomorrow for #641.