And that is not all. For such a period of deformation "can impose itself so massively on a man that he conforms to it and consequently deforms himself by making deformed existence the model of true existence." Like a pine tree at the equator or a palm tree in Alaska, we can become deformed -- or uninformed -- by virtue of being planted in the wrong (or less than human) environment.
This isn't just a problem, but might well be THE problem with mankind. When we speak of man as fallen, this may be what he has fallen into, i.e., a deformed existence in exile from truth; and one deformation leads to another, 32 feet per second per second. It may or may not be in the genes, but it is certainly in the memes.
Note that Voegelin speaks of levels of deformed existence. Since man is spread across all levels of existence, from matter (and below) to God (and above, so to speak not) -- or from Ø to O, if you like -- then he can be the picture of health on one level but quite sick on another. Or, he may not manifest at all on this or that level.
We all know perfectly intelligent -- even brilliant -- people who are, say, intellectually or spiritually autistic, or who have no taste in music or literature, or who have the kind of body that no animal other than the human being could ever devolve to.
A lion, for example, can eat whenever and whatever it wants. So how come we don't see any fat lions? And Michelle Obama seems to have a healthy diet, but what ugly flab above the neck and behind the eyes!
I don't mean to be hard on human beings, because being human is hard. For one thing, we have many more levels to manage than does any other animal: emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, interpersonal, political, historical, genetic, economic, spiritual, religious, archetypal, physical, metaphysical, dietary, cultural, sexual, psychosexual, etc. It is easy for one level to get confused with another, or for the legitimate needs of one level to be displaced to another.
To cite an obvious example, it is extremely common for people to substitute food for emotional sustenance, just as it is common to conflate spiritual and intellectual need, or to try to patch up an interpersonal deficit with political or economic power. Indeed, it is fair to say that such fevered displacements, unfortunately, "make the world go 'round."
Why, for example, does Obama seek power over us? This is a difficult question to answer, in part because I'm quite sure he doesn't know. While he will no doubt provide reasons -- to give us free stuff, for example, or to prevent Mitt Romney from murdering us, or to keep y'all from being put in chains -- we can dismiss such pretexts. We know Obama is deformed. But how is he deformed? Which level is confused with which?
These are not questions to be asked in 2012. Rather, they should have been asked in 2008. For just as a period of deformation "can impose itself so massively on a man that he conforms to it and consequently deforms himself," something even worse can happen: the deformed man, given sufficient power, can impose himself so massively on the collective that it is forced to conform to him. Then the collective becomes as deformed as the deformed fellow at the top. See history for details.
This is not a matter of speculation or subjective opinion. Rather, there are real, measurable, and lasting ways that we (including unborn generations) are all being forced to conform to Obama's deformations. But when you think about it, isn't this the very essence of the left? Isn't this what they do?
The leftist has an idea of "how things ought to be," as indeed do we all. The difference is, we do not have the arrogance, self-righteousness, and presumptive wisdom to impose our vision on everyone else. This is supposed to be an empire of liberty, not an empire of dependence. The leftist grasps that liberty is a dreadful thing -- otherwise everyone would cherish it -- but seems constitutionally incapable of perceiving the dreadful deformities engendered by dependency.
I will be the first to admit that I don't know exactly what is best for you, since I'm busy enough trying to make moment-to-moment decisions about what is best for Bob and his immediate family. I realize that Obama wants to help, but I already have a mother-in-law, and besides, she's actually helpful.
It seems that the nation is roughly 50-50 with regard to the percentage of deformed reformers vs. well-formed normals. Again, because we value liberty, we usually don't care about what goes on in our neighbor's head, so long as he doesn't try to include us in his delusion.
The problem is that "the deformed sectors of the field [of experience] acquire the status of true reality, while the sectors of true existence are eclipsed by the imagery of deformation" (Voegelin). But enough about the educational establishment...
The result is a "scotosis of truth," which is a very handy image, since it conforms nicely to the primitive psychic defense mechanisms that prevent us from seeing a reality that is right before our eyes. A scotoma is a hole in the field of vision, as in where the optic nerve connects to the back of the eye. We do not consciously notice this hole because our mind fills the space, leaving no visible scars at all.
Now, transpose this concept to all of the other levels alluded to above. For example, we all have a rough idea of "history," with categories such as neolithic, ancient, medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment, industrialization, modernity, postmodernity, etc. But every time I read a good history book, I discover another huge scotoma that was invisibly sitting right there before and behind me.
Gee, do you think Obama has, say, an economic scotoma or two? A religious scotoma? A constitutional scotoma? A racial scotoma? A budgetary scotoma? An ethical scotoma?
"Without scotoma" is a fine apophatic, or negative, definition of God, i.e., the whole-in-one. Thus, the most frightening being on earth -- because the most destructive -- is the man with vast power over others, who imagines he is without scotoma.
They gonna shoot y'all, and put a hole in your soul!