Thursday, August 30, 2012

MSNBC: Not Monstrous Jokers, Just Ahead of the Curve

For Voegelin there is one permanent order, or structure, of human existence, which is the "tension between truth and deformation of reality," or between what we call O and Ø. O cannot be possessed but it can be realized within the flowing presence we call history. Ø, however, can be possessed, which is the problem, precisely, because soon enough one is possessed by it.

Man lives in the tension between "perfection and imperfection, time and timelessness... order and disorder, truth and untruth, sense and senselessness of existence... between the virtues of openness toward the ground of being such as faith, love, and hope, and the vices of infolding closure such as hubris and revolt; between the moods of joy and despair; and between... alienation from the world and alienation from God."

As mentioned in yesterday's post, we are woven of "determination and indetermination," hence we are free. And our freedom lies within the vertical space of this O <--> Ø continuum.

To deny this structure -- to pretend to live outside it -- is to "lose consciousness and intellect," to "deform our humanity and reduce ourselves to a state of quiet despair or activist conformity to the 'age,' of drug addiction or television watching, of hedonistic stupor or murderous possession of truth..." (ibid).

In short, "dream life usurps the place of wake life." Darkness displaces light, but like a bat, the little darkling learns to rely on other senses to get him through his self-imposed night.

Which reminds me of an image: when we look at a star, we are seeing the past, depending upon how distant the star. In a certain sense, astronomy is cosmic history.

Now, imagine the time it takes for the darkness to arrive after a star has gone dead. It could be years, centuries, or millennia. What about human darkness -- or the time it takes for the darkness to dawn after the human light has been extinguished?

This is precisely what Nietzsche, the last intellectually honest atheist, was driving at. To say "God is dead" is to say that the light has gone out of the cosmos. But how long will it take for the darkness to arrive?

As far as Nietzsche was concerned, he was the first person in whom the darkness had fully registered -- or who could tolerate its implications -- in all its naked gløøm and døøm. He was the Prophet of Darkness, the Antichrist, if we understand Christ as the primordial Light of the world.

There are prophets of Light, obviously -- those human fleshlights who not only bring us the good nous, but who embody it. Nietzsche was the first self-confessed Darkworker and Nightbringer, as it were.

In Experiments Against Reality, Roger Kimball notes that "Of all nineteenth-century thinkers, perhaps only Karl Marx surpasses Nietzsche in his influence on the twentieth century," to such an extent that "much of what makes the modern world modern also makes it Nietzschean."

Like how? Oh, how about his "glorification of power and his contention that 'there are altogether no moral facts.'" These are certainly "grim signatures of the age. So, too, is his enthusiasm for violence, cruelty, and the irrational" (Kimball).

Nevertheless, Nietzsche is to be admired, first for his literary panache and his vivid description of the darkness, but mostly for his profoundly honest acceptance of the implications of the death of God. We would take atheists more seriously if they took their own doctrine as seriously as did Nietzsche, all the way into nihilism, amorality, and madness.

Speaking of which, I am always amused by modern sophisticates who posit religion as nothing but a kind of individual and collective defense against madness (which it sometimes is, e.g., Islamists). Given the pervasiveness of religion, this would have to mean that man is pervasively mad. Could be.

But if this is true, the only way to confirm it would be to "reverse imagineer" the containing structure of religiosity, and experience the intrinsic pre-religious madness that afflicts man. In other words, in order to be more than an idle pneumababbler, the irreligious person would need to descend to the level of madness that brought religion into being.

Here again, this is why I give credit to Nietzsche, because this is what he did. It's very easy to talk bravely of godlessness in a culture founded upon and permeated with Christian values and assumptions. It would be another thing altogether to celebrate atheism in a completely atheistic environment -- say, a prison for the criminally insane. In that case, you'd be desperate for the monsters around you to grasp some dim notion of obligation to transcendent demands, like "it's not good to strangle a guy for his cigarets."

But if God is dead, then this is what the world is reduced to: a prison for the criminally insane. It is a prison because there is no vertical exit, not even via death; and it is insane because there is absolutely no measure of sanity, not to mention decency, beauty, truth, or anything else. Rather, what there is, is power and will.

If God is dead and atheism is the case, then Nietzsche is quite correct that man is necessarily "beyond good and evil." But Nietzsche would have had nothing but contempt for the current crop of weak-willed neo-atheists who casually adopt such an explosive idea.

As Nietzsche said, I am no man, I am dynamite. Again, quite true. A true blue atheist can't just stand in the luxury liner built by Christians, while condemning it and the passengers. Rather, he needs to dive headlong into the deep, and say Yes to the cold truth of absolute negation!

Think of the Joker in the Dark Knight. Now there is a true Nietzschean with the courage of his absence of convictions: "You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve." And "the only sensible way to live in this world is without rules."

The Darkness will have fully incarnated when it reaches the Last Man, by which time the cannibalism will be well underway: "The event itself is far too great, too distant, too remote from the multitude's capacity for comprehension even for the tidings of it to be thought of having arrived yet" (Nietzsche, in Kimball).

When it does arrive, then out goes the childish nightlight of Christian morality, and we are finally free of God and his perverse concern for the meek, the weak, the vulnerable, the children, of all things! Hellelujah!

But "who or what will take the place of God? What prodigies will fill the vacuum left by a faltering morality?"(Kimball).

Let us count the waves of barbarism, of idolatry, of credentialed stupidity and tenured apes!

Here is what tears a person such as Nietsche apart from the inside out. As Erich Heller wrote (quoted in Kimball), Nietzsche "had the passion for truth" but "no belief in it"; and "this is the stuff from which demons are made" (emphasis mine).

This is a critical point, for all men come factory-equipped with a passion for truth -- which is, of course, one of the markers, or logoi, of our createdness. But it is hard to think of anything more dangerous and destructive than a passion for truth in the absence of truth, or of religious impulses in the absence of religion.

Think just of the bloody 20th century, and all of the wholesale murder and destruction caused by truthless men with a profound passion for truth. But don't let these enormities distract you from the deep structure of the problem, or cause it to go unnoticed when it is happening in slow-motion.

(What slow-motion darkness looks like: A Party of Trolls)

70 Comments:

Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

MSNBC: Monstrous Subjournalists who are Not Behind the Curve.

8/30/2012 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

At the antipode of MSNBC, Kimball's review of Ryan's epic beatdown of the Darkworker.

8/30/2012 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

I have become more optimistic--especially after Paul Ryan's speech--that enough people may begin to realize the current administration is not only a sham, but a dangerous one.

Let's hope that those that understand this live in Florida, Ohio, Colorado, etc.

8/30/2012 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"But if God is dead, then this is what the world is reduced to: a prison for the criminally insane. It is a prison because there is no vertical exit, not even via death; and it is insane because there is absolutely no measure of sanity, not to mention decency, beauty, truth, or anything else. Rather, what there is, is power."

Lefties sure acted criminally insane after Ryan's speech last night.

And power is what they crave. To force their criminally insane will on the restuvus.

8/30/2012 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

If more self-professed atheists were as brutally honest as Nietsche was there would be a helluva lot less self-professed atheists.

8/30/2012 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I only watch the MSNBC coverage. It brings back wistful memories of my internship at Camarillo State Mental Hospital, minus the responsibilities.

8/30/2012 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ben: and if they could write as well as Nietzsche, they'd never sell any books.

8/30/2012 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

... and experience the intrinsic pre-religious madness that afflicts man.

Yep, it seems like a dangerous path. In the Old Testament records most people who encountered a Theophany freaked out and thought they were going to die on the spot. And, sure enough, Moses was allowed to see only God's back, for no one sees His face and lives.

(I might possibly have just a hint as to why that is, but I'm keeping it to myself. I have no problem waiting a few more years to find out if I was on the right track.)


My wife insisted that I come in and listen to part of Ryan's speech last night. I thought it was good, and I agree with Kimball that Ryan dealt in more substance than is typical. Still, it's a lot like a contest in skipping stones across the pool at the entrance to Moria. I don't know what is going to happen.

Recalling that apocalypse means unveiling and that John said there are many antichrists, I wonder if we should not be more worried about the antichrist apocalypse than the zombie apocalypse?

The antichrist apocalypse probably doesn't offer the marketing potential for cool knives and bullets. Yet.

8/30/2012 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Most atheists today ain't really atheists.
They're just hiding from God or lashing out at Him.
Or they just think it sounds cool and rebellious.

Even the militant ones that attack religion are pikers, compared to Nietsche.

8/30/2012 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There's an interesting-looking book called American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas. I'll hit on it if the used price comes down to ten bucks...

8/30/2012 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ben: yes, rendering God impossible is not the same as disproving his existence!

8/30/2012 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Bob, if a filmmaker could somehow capture just a glimpse of what Nietzsche saw it would scare the crap out of folks too much to ever make a profit as well.

8/30/2012 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Re: MSNBC, I can see why. Talk about looney and unhinged!

I think their line-up are true believers of the cult of leftism/fascism.
I detect no self awareness whatsoever. Just pure, undiluted delusion.

They kind of remind me of howler monkeys too.

8/30/2012 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

But don't let these enormities distract you from the deep structure of the problem, or cause it to go unnoticed when it is happening in slow-motion."

Advice we can all use. We got a lot more hard work ahead of us if we wanna reverse course.

I think Romney/Ryan is a step in the right direction.

But yeah, the structure of the problem run deeper than just our culture and politics.

Very sobering to coontemplate.

8/30/2012 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"if a filmmaker could somehow capture just a glimpse of what Nietzsche saw it would scare the crap out of folks"

Guess you never saw Big Momma 3.

8/30/2012 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Actually, think of Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. There was another joker who took his Nietzsche seriously!

8/30/2012 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

When Rudy Met Fred: Steiner did meet the philosopher around 1900, and wrote on him illuminatedly here--Friedrich Nietzsche: A Fighter for Freedom

"In the words in which he expressed his relationship to Schopenhauer, I would like to describe my relationship to Nietzshe: "I belong to those readers of Nietzsche who, after they have read the first page, know with certainty that they will read all pages, and listen to every word he has said. My confidence in him was there immediately... I understood him as if he had written just for me, in order to express all that I would say intelligibly but immediately and foolishly." One can speak thus and yet be far from acknowledging oneself as a "believer" in Nietzsche's world conception. But Nietzsche himself could not have been further from wishing to have such "believers." Did he not put into Zarathustra's mouth these words:

"You say you believe in Zarathustra, but of what account is Zarathustra? You are my believer, but of what account are all believers?

"You have not searched for yourself as yet; there you found me. Thus do all believers, but, for that reason, there is so little in all believing.

"Now I advise you to forsake me, and find yourselves; and only when you have denied me will I return to you.

Nietzsche is no Messianic founder of a religion; therefore he can wish for friends who support his opinion, but he can not wish for confessors to his teaching, who give up their own selves to find his."


FN requires readers of understanding like Steiner, not psychosis like Holmes

8/30/2012 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That's a great example, as well as the Joker which you already mentioned!

I guess what I really meant was if more of the audience took the Joker, let's say, more seriously and understood that we have a lot of jokers and jokers in the making in the US, stoked by the race, class and sex baiters...and what that implies to nearly half our country...whoa nellie!

The Sultan's post is an excellent side dish to todays entree!

Dennis Prager wrote an article awhile back about why more folks don't consider class warfare as bad as race warfare (it is).
I'll see if I can find it.

8/30/2012 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Indeed. Tens of millions more have died of class warfare than racism.

8/30/2012 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In fact, racism is fairly innocuous unless it is aggravated by ideology, e.g., Nazism.

8/30/2012 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of MSNBC racists: the latest from Chris Matthews. What a steaming load of a man!

8/30/2012 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

Actually, think of Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. There was another joker who took his Nietzsche seriously!

I was on the verge of making that very comment. Much of Cormac McCarthy's work revolves around the depiction of nihilism that does not conveniently borrow its foundations from Christianity.

Most of today's so-called "nihilists" are really just sexually mature children (regardless of actual age) looking for an excuse to do whatever (and whoever, however) they want.

If these "Big Lebowski"-style nihilists were honest with themselves about their claimed "philosophy", they would all look like "White" from McCarthy's "The Sunset Limited" and rush to personally nuzzle death's bony cheek as quickly as they possibly could.

Instead, they waste all of their energy desperately trying to self-justify and self-atone by arguing that neither justification nor atonement actually exist.

I am not sure a man could seriously be a true nihilist without losing his sanity, his humanity, and eventually his life, all by his own hand. But I suppose it would be an honest choice.

8/30/2012 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Found it. Finally.
Class Warfare

Good point about it being worse than racism. Deadlier for certain.

8/30/2012 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Good point about McCarthy in general. The Kid's first encounter with Judge Holden in Blood Meridian is perfectly Jokeresque. The scene that gets me in NCFOM is Chigurh's murder of Moss's wife because Moss defied him, even though Chigurh had recovered the money -- a perversion of the idea of honor.

And what is the The Road but the inevitable hell when nihilism has reached its zenith?

8/30/2012 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

You could almost say that to stay alive, a nihilist must always have an enemy -- externalize the emptiness.

8/30/2012 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

And then there are the little things like this to let one know just how deeply the idiocracy has burrowed itself into the body politic. Things like this.

Though it's nice to have been given a heads up.

8/30/2012 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, and "holding down the fart" is gassist.

8/30/2012 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

One thing I have really enjoyed about McCarthy's writing is that he is always careful to depict what happens to relationships as characters choose one path or the other. As characters veer toward the darkness, all of their relationships begin to crumble and even people they have never met treat them with suspicion immediately. As they stay the course, not only to they bring about their own destruction, those that they were in relationship with begin to be destroyed as a result of their actions as well. "Outer Dark" is probably the best depiction of this, but he revisits these themes in NCFOM as well.

Melville also did a wonderful job of depicting this in "Moby Dick". It was not only Ahab that was destroyed by his infernal passion, but everyone that he was in community with (save Ishmael) was killed as well, consumed by the sea in the end just as thoroughly as Ahab was consumed by his demonic desire in the beginning.

8/30/2012 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

The money quote:

“Much has been written about whether the etymologies below are true or merely folklore, but this isn’t about their historical validity,” Robinson writes. “[I]nstead, it is an opportunity to remember that our choice of wording affects our professional environment.”

Translation: it doesn't matter if any of it is true, so long as language can be controlled.

I wonder why the English language in toto isn't declared "insensitive". That does seem to be the inevitable conclusion!

8/30/2012 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Maybe instead we can all speak pig latin. Or would that be insensitive to our porcine brothers and sisters!

8/30/2012 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What the left has done to language is unspeakable.

8/30/2012 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Crimes against the logos are serious matters, and fall under the authority of the 4th Commandment.

8/30/2012 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There is no leftist who is not a repeat offender, incorrigible even.

8/30/2012 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

To turn it around, if we simply insisted that words mean what they mean, the left would be out of business.

8/30/2012 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Obama's whole campaign revolves around a particularly brazen assault on language. In fact, an associated feature of narcissism is a highly disturbed relationship to language, over which the narcissist exerts a kind of godlike omnipotence. To put it colloquially, narcissists are inveterate liars, first and foremost to themselves.

8/30/2012 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Destroy language and you destroy the ability to think coherently along with it. Logos is replaced with nihil.

"When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything." -G.K. Chesterston

Which might seem exciting at first until some Joker comes knocking at your door i.e. someone who is actually willing to follow this line of nihilistic "thinking" to the end.

(This, btw, is all elaborated in Dostoevsky's novel "Demons". Well worth the read, imho.)

8/30/2012 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Squint-eyed and tight-lipped, Eastwood whisspered to the camera in close-up: "Go ahead and make my November day, America. Pull that lever for m'man Mitt!... You feelin' lucky, punk?"

8/30/2012 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Skorpion said...

Another person who approached the stark vision of Nietzsche, but never quite transcended his own obvious bitterness and self-loathing, was the late George Carlin. Ever seen any of the routines he did in the last ten years of his life? Anti-God, anti-human, anti-civilization nihilism, wrapped in an easy-to-swallow hipster-comedy coating.

8/30/2012 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He had a coke-related heart attack when he was in his 40s, I think. Probably had a little arterial insufficiency in the brain thereafter....

8/30/2012 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Skorpion-

I agree. I think it relevant that one of Carlin's later albums was entitled "You are All Diseased". It wasn't "*We* are All Diseased". By implication he had exempted himself somehow of the "disease" he attributed to all others.

8/30/2012 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It seems to me that normal people become more sweet and kind as they age. Which probably explains why they become more conservative. Conversely, there's always something pathetic and more than a little seedy about an old radical.

8/30/2012 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Romney really tore a hole in Won.

8/30/2012 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

And he did a good job deconstructing the destructiveness of Obama.

8/30/2012 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

dedestruction?

8/30/2012 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Of course, no one can describe it like Velociman:

Velociman‏@Velociman

I think today is the day the oceans of bullshit began to recede

8/30/2012 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That's it, Jack!

8/30/2012 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Ben-

...and not a moment too soon!

8/30/2012 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Aye! :^)

8/30/2012 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

John Hayward‏@Doc_0

MSNBC: when you want to hear the psychotic delusions of people who listen to every third word of a major speech."

And the other words that were never said.

8/30/2012 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger Howard Coward said...

True story, but not in the "paulist" vein of truth (or as I heard on the street tonight, "If I'm Lyin' I'm Ryan!"):

After watching tonight's Daily Show, I thought I'd check in with a different viewpoint for some balance. After a few feeder bands, I sought the eye of the storm, the OC community.

After a time away, what struck me anew was the coded language, still at the førefrönt. (Pardon me if I can't remember why you are obfuscating your message. I think, last I checked, that it's because the restüvus are too dumb to understand and it's too much trouble to bring mere mortals up to speed, right? That, and we can't possess sufficient adaequatio to perceive the acuteness of your viewpoints unless we've slogged through your book...? I can't remember, as the OC truth is one balanced on a razor's edge. I do remember that.)

Anyhoo, here's as far as I got:


Gagdad Bob said...
It seems to me that normal people become more sweet and kind as they age. Which probably explains why they become more conservative. Conversely, there's always something pathetic and more than a little seedy about an old radical.

8/30/2012 05:10:00 PM
USS Ben USN (Ret) said...
Romney really tore a hole in Won.


Mirrors are still førbidden in ØC, I take it?

Keep fighting the good fight, cistern & brethren. You are dearer to me than you'd imagine. Please don't change.

Rex

8/30/2012 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I wonder if they will drop condoms instead of balloons at the DNC convention?
It would be keeping with their theme.

Oh, and those Code Pink clowns dressed as vaginas. They should get lots of those freaks running around.

The DNC keynote speakers are gonna be comedy gold and prime insultainment.

Charlie Christ! Sandra Floozy! NARAL! NOW!

I can see that going over well for middle America.

8/30/2012 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What could be more kind than tearing a hole in Won?

8/30/2012 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I forgot, the donks secret weapon: a fake Indian!

Everyone like fake Indians.

8/30/2012 10:23:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That was my thought, Bob. Afterall, Obama is always wanting people to let him be clear.

8/30/2012 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

I spoke too soon ... what's that on the bottom of my shoe?

8/30/2012 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Speaking of coded language, which is the latest pitiable projection of the leftest leftists to control the narrative, Ed and Rachel both came to the same conclusion that Mitt's line about when something big needs to get done, an American is needed, was code for birtherism. Yep ... instead of following the actual speech where Mitt was emphasizing that American exceptionalism needed to be restored in the world ... the brightest msnbc has to offer thought Mitt was saying Obama wasn't an American.

Truly pathetic.

8/30/2012 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

MSNBC is the Joe Biden of journalism. Every day they discover some creative new way to be nuts.

8/30/2012 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

MSNBC sure has a crack(pot) team to diecipher all those code words spoken by conservatives.

They enjoy murdering language.

After pondering it awhile, Clint may be right, Biden may very well be the intellect of the democrat party.

After driving Artur Davis away who do they got left?

8/30/2012 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Sir Clint! You may have been better off w/ a teleprompter or our suggested 'brevity' approach.... just happened to arrive at this most memorable performance to refresh the palate

8/31/2012 04:06:00 AM  
Blogger Sal said...

Or if you need something shorter than McCarthy, there's O'Connor's the Misfit:

Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead . . . and He shouldn't have done it. he thrown everything off balance. If He did what he said, then it's nothing for you to do but throw everything away and follow Him, and if he didn't, then it's nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can - by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him.. . .

8/31/2012 05:28:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

Ah, O'Connor. It still amazes me that in spite of how openly and frequently she discussed her writing, none of it ever loses its mystery. You can discover the themes she discusses, discuss her goals in writing a particular story, and re-read the stories over and over with an analytical eye for a lifetime without ever exhausting the mysteries of her writing. There's always more "there" there, waiting to be discovered.

8/31/2012 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

...or you can just throw all analysis out the window and soak in the eerie, often terrifying, sanctity of her stories.

8/31/2012 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I had to read her when I was in college, but was completely ill-equipped at the time...

8/31/2012 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

What really opened up her writing for me was reading some of her letters. She was insistent in writing to a friend that all of her stories were a depiction of a "moment of grace".

She wrote about a powerful and loving, but jealous God, who is not content to have us mucking around with lesser lovers and distractions.

The moments of grace she depicts are the actions of a God who is determined to get the attention of his bride, to break through whatever illusions and false hopes they have set up for themselves. "Good Country People" is, to my mind, one of the easiest of her stories in which to see these themes.

We tend to think of grace as a peaceful, vague sort of thing. She saw it as the actions of a determined God, breaking through to His beloved at any cost, often violently.

What often makes her writing so haunting is not just the violence of this Grace, but that the stories tend to end just as the focal character's defenses come crashing down around them. We rarely get to see their response.

8/31/2012 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Here is what tears a person such as Nietsche apart from the inside out. As Erich Heller wrote (quoted in Kimball), Nietzsche "had the passion for truth" but "no belief in it"; and "this is the stuff from which demons are made" (emphasis mine)."

Yeats' "The Second Coming" comes to mind:
"...Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity..."


Interesting how it fits with the pesticism of the other day "that well-known pest, the person who becomes a revolutionary because he "has been unable to endure himself.", what other option is there when you have a passion for truth, but no belief in it, but to inflict your substitute upon others?

9/01/2012 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Cond0011 said...

"In Experiments Against Reality, Roger Kimball notes that "Of all nineteenth-century thinkers, perhaps only Karl Marx surpasses Nietzsche in his influence on the twentieth century," to such an extent that "much of what makes the modern world modern also makes it Nietzschean."

Nietzche was the Theorist - an originator of Modern Day Nihilism, Karl Marx was the first to engineer it into application (Then Lenin, then Mao...). But I shouldn't give him all the credit. After all, The French Revolution and its attempt to supplant god with a manufactured Idol (Robspierre and the cult of the supreme Being) came before Nietzsche - along with all the destruction that followed such an abomination.

"We would take atheists more seriously if they took their own doctrine as seriously as did Nietzsche, all the way into nihilism, amorality, and madness."

Absolutely, Bob. In this era, its hip to be an Atheist. Thank goodness, virtually all of them do not follow its logic into the depths.

Brrrrr.......

"...you'd be desperate for the monsters around you to grasp some dim notion of obligation to transcendent demands, like "it's not good to strangle a guy for his cigarets." ...If God is dead and atheism is the case, then Nietzsche is quite correct that man is necessarily "beyond good and evil."

Its no small wonder that as an animal, via scientific evidence, we almost became extinct.

9/02/2012 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Cond0011 said "Karl Marx was the first to engineer it into application (Then Lenin, then Mao...)"

I think you're still giving Marx far more credit than he's due; you'd be hard-pressed to show a single significant idea that he originated or first 'engineered' into place.

IMHO he was little better than an opportunistic marketeer who repackaged the ideas of others, Rousseau in particular (Western Civilization as a sickness, denial of Free Will, the environment as shaping the masses, the evils of private property, monogamy, etc) and Hume, Kant & Hegel, into something that would sell well to the tenor of the times.

And besides... it's ironical fun thinking of the father of modern communism as a slick salesman... and pisses off leftists to no end.

9/02/2012 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Cond0011 said...

Hi Van,

Karl Marx's ideas are simplistic at best (comparative to the names of the Philosophers you mentioned). He also applied his philosophy to politics by works such as 'The Communist Manifesto' which allowed certain political rabble rousers something to grasp so they had a vessel for their pursuit for raw unadulterated power - thus my 'engineering' comment. The Philosophers you mention never got down to the brass tacks of making a 'workable' system for people to live-by such a Marx did (and 'Muhammad' with his Quran, or John smith with his book of Mormon). None of them dared to shape and mold a religious/political ideology.

This is why Karl Marx has his face on t-shirts of common men and Rousseau does not.

On the other hand, I believe Marx is roasting in hell for such an abomination that he has inflicted upon humanity - but thats just me.

9/08/2012 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Cond0011 said "This is why Karl Marx has his face on t-shirts of common men and Rousseau does not."

I wouldn't disagree with that, but still, 'Engineer' seems to give him more intellectual respect than I can muster. He was a salesmen, a marketer, and in that role, he did an outstanding job of repackaging the ideas of others into a product that would sell to generations who'd been raised on those ideas, but hadn't actually grasped their implications.

And I'm pleased that Marx is the face on the T-Shirts, rather than Rousseau's - I'm sure if you put your ear to Rousseau's grave, it'd sound like a clothesdryer filled with lumpy clothes on high heat, what with the amount of turning over in his grave he's doing over the slight of it.

9/08/2012 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Cond0011 said...

Perhaps a better metaphor is that he is a producer and perveyor of the finest snake oil this side of Western Civilization:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTZmyZ8jtw0#t=1m49s

The panacea for all societies' ills.

Better? :)

9/09/2012 07:31:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home