Monday, December 10, 2012

Ask Not What Being Can Do For You

Not much time this morning. We had a zero dark thirty projectile vomiting situation, so I got a late start. Amazing what a boy can do in his sleep. Only lightning reflexes spared me from a worse fate.

Is it possible for man to be at home in the Cosmos?

Yes and no.

First of all, think of how that question doesn't arise for other animals, which cannot transcend their immediate environment.

A dog knows nothing whatsoever of a cosmos; or, its cosmos consists of nothing beyond the orderly succession of meals, walks, naps, and the like.

And so long as that pleasurable order is maintained, the dog will have no complaints -- similar to how the grazing 47% have no complaints about Obama.

But a man who is adapted only to his immediate surroundings is hardly a man. Rather, in a very important sense, man is never adapted to the environment, and is constantly trying to break out of it with questions, abstractions, theories, myths, rituals, drugs, etc.

Think of how slaveowners didn't want their slaves to learn how to read, because they didn't want them to even conceive of the wider psychospiritual world beyond the plantation.

Same with the slaves of North Korea, and, to an increasingly shocking extent, the passive American humanoids whose mental horizons don't extend beyond the academic rantations of the left.

No wonder Obama wants to drive literature from the classroom, as it has always been one of the great windows on the wider world.

Then again, if students are just going to be exposed to leftist subhumanities anyway for the sake of "diversity," it hardly matters if they read that kind of wet excrement or Obama's dry executive orders.

Now, sanity, according to Sheed, "involves seeing what is."

That is a fine definition, but the first question a dishonest man -- or the aspiring sophist -- will ask is: is, in relation to what?

And this innocent sounding question is the loophole that has been discovered by the secular left, which allows them to affirm that nobody is insane except for those who believe somebody is.

In other words, the left, in their denial of God as the source and vector of transcendence, has devolved to the infrahuman notion of sanity as nothing more than conformity to the environment (e.g., "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter").

There is no privileged perspective outside this or that environment that permits one to make any objective judgments about sanity as such, because any such judgment will just be another conditioned perspective, undoubtedly rooted in power or self-justification.

Ultimately, we can say that in the absence of God, there can be no such thing as sanity -- including moral sanity. There can be no answers to our incessant "why" questions, and the sooner you stop asking them, the saner you will be. From a Darwinian standpoint, such ultimate questions are pure noise, with no possible answers.

Here is a perfect aphorism by Goethe: "Every epoch which is in the process of retrogression and disintegration is subjective, but all progressive epochs have an objective trend."

Which is why we can state with certainty that self-styled "progressives" are objectively disordered -- or insane if you like.

I don't want to pretend I spent the weekend hanging out with the venerable Goethe. Rather, that quote is from a typically lucid little book by Pieper called Living the Truth.

The book actually consists of two separate works, one on Truth, the other on the Good. But he links the two in such a way that one can see how human goodness is entirely dependent upon truth: ought must be rooted in is, or you will inevitably end up doing what you oughtn't.

As soon as you think about it, it's a little obvious, isn't it? Obama, for example, has done all sorts of things he oughtn't have done. Why? Because he has never been exposed to any Is other than that which he assimilated from his leftist professors in college.

Thus, like so many others who have spent too much time in the looniversity bin, "everything President Obama 'knows' about American history comes from left-wing academics like American University professor Peter Kuznick."

In short, Obama's Is isn't. Not even close.

Pieper sums it up very neatly: "All obligation is based upon being. Reality is the foundation of ethics. The good is that which is in accord with reality."

As such, "he who wishes to know and do the good must turn his gaze upon the objective world of being. Not upon his own 'ideas,' not upon his 'conscience,' not upon 'values,' not upon arbitrarily established 'ideals' and 'models.' He must turn away from [these] and fix his eyes upon reality."

Or, as my good friend Goethe once quipped, "All laws and moral principles may be reduced to one -- the truth."

20 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Holy cow. From the common core article linked in the post,

Consider that one of the “informational texts” recommended as a replacement for, say, Great Expectations is “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.”

My brain hurts just reading that title. If this is what kids are being taught, not only will they be indoctrinated, they will be illiterate. I can't imagine any more effective means of turning a growing mind away from the pleasures of reading and learning, short of delivering electric shocks at any hint of interest in written material.

12/10/2012 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. the vomiting situation, I do hope it resolves quickly! Poor little guy; when one kid is puking, everyone is miserable.

12/10/2012 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

" Pieper sums it up very neatly: "All obligation is based upon being. Reality is the foundation of ethics. The good is that which is in accord with reality."

Yep. And I've yet to meet the leftist that's on good terms with realty. I've met a few who don't mind taking a short stroll down ISness ave., but none who don't do an about face as soon as the scenery gets a bit challenging to the view that they're willing to see.

12/10/2012 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Julie, regarding the 'common core' (which I've been railing against for years... and 'they've' been promoting, in its essentials, for well over a century), this part made me laugh:

"The government has nothing much against literature, per se. Rather, this initiative is driven in large part by the desire to promote political propaganda in the classroom."

Just what is it that you suppose they thought good literature was good for, if not innoculating you against falsehoods and other such worldviews?

Did they really suppose it's just entertainment? Yeah? Well, as I said, it's been underway for a long time.

12/10/2012 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I was kind of ambivalent when I heard they were pulling Catcher in the Rye, but, as depressing as Salinger may be, I can't believe they would try to get kids to read government-ese.

The new education motto: We will bury your truth with information.

12/10/2012 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Yesterday I was running, and some guy in a passing matatu yelled at me to run faster. Fucking Kenyans and their natural abilities. People here say all sorts of shit to you if you go running. Sometimes they say "jogging" just to piss you off. It's all part of the work out.
[got a kick out of that]
from blog stumbled upon

12/10/2012 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Indeed, it is all part of the working out. Great Observations.

12/10/2012 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Frederick Froth said...

Yes but Christianity is based on the presumption that human beings are inherently separate from the Living Divine Reality, from the World Process, and from each other.

The fiction of separateness, and the denial of the universal characteristic of prior unity, is a mind-based illusion, a lie, a terribly deluding force, and a profoundly and darkly negative act.

The individual and collective denial, and active refusal, of the Universal Condition and Intrinsic Law of prior unity is the root and substance of a perpetual and self-perpetuating universal crime against humanity, performed by every one and all of humankind.

In the present-day, the culture and politics of illusion controls the world. As a result there are now 7 billion human individuals (and, otherwise, large numbers of competitive and mutually dissociative groups, cultures, traditions, races, religions, corporations, and nation-states) that are, characteristically and even strategically out of touch with each other - like dust, and bombs, and petty traffic, all blowing in the wind. That wind steadily blows all prior unity into the bits and particles of human chaos.

The world is mad. Humankind is in a constant state of extreme psychosis. Dont you know?

12/10/2012 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

You have just described the Fall. Don't you know?

The answer, however, is not to force all of those separate bits of human dust back into the mold of the universal prior unity; that would be about as effective as rendering an entire tree into sawdust, then gluing all those bits of sawdust back into the shape of the original tree. Even if you lose not a single molecule, even if you can artfully arrange it such that it looks exactly like the original, you still have nothing but the corpse of a tree.

The only way to bring those pieces back into unified life is to allow them to decompose into the ground, then be taken up again into the body of an entirely new tree, born perhaps of a seed from the father tree, before all the ages...

12/10/2012 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

I know you are depressed by the election, & so am I & so should we all. It is really unprecedented that even lip service to the Constitution can be jettisoned and actually give you higher poll numbers (added to vote fraud to get victory). At the risk of irritation and beating a dead horse, I'd like to recommend a book I am working through (my father and I are arguing about it - he is closer to your perspective).
http://www.amazon.com/Liberty-God-That-Failed-Constructing/dp/1621380068
It is horrifying to contemplate the removal of literature, but Ken Craven at Dead Hermit's Blog had the same reaction - let people read and discover good stories at home, maybe it's for the best, in a twisted way? If I believed in conspiracies, I'd think he was a reptilian from another planet. I had hoped the first African president would be an actual conservative. Ferrara's book makes a strong case that this country, from the beginning, North and South, paid homage to the abstract God of Mother Liberty, rather than the Ordered Freedom of the medieval world.

12/11/2012 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Am going to buy your whole book soon, and read it, maybe over the holidays. Saw it in Powell's, in Oregon, & almost grabbed it.

12/11/2012 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger David J Quackenbush said...

Frederick, your perspective makes me think of Teilhard, and one of the things I admire most about him. When he looks at the great mass of mankind -- say, during WWI in the trenches, or sitting in China during WWII and watching the Japanese abuse the Chinese and wondering if anything human would survive -- he has a persistent confidence that there is a great motion going on in humanity. Our freedom is involved, of course, but when we try to see what we could do, or convince people of, that would "turn the tide" we quickly see that this is beyond any conceivable human agency. But still there is the mysterious sense that something having deeply to do with overcoming our separation from the "Living Divine Reality" -- or, as you would have it, our presumption of that separation -- is actually underway, and that we must serve it as we can. Julie's new tree is a vision of faith, in the sense that we cannot see how a new and living union of all men in God is possible. The peacefulness of holy men comes in part, I believe, because they catch glimpses of how even our stupid, mass, frenzied ignorant rushing about are being deployed in service of the formation of that new tree. What patience of soul it must take to watch, wait, and serve.

12/11/2012 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

@Van:

"And I've yet to meet the leftist that's on good terms with realty. I've met a few who don't mind taking a short stroll down ISness ave., but none who don't do an about face as soon as the scenery gets a bit challenging to the view that they're willing to see."

Well, don't leave us in suspense.

What is the part that causes the challenge, based on your experiences.

What triggers the flight response?

12/11/2012 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

@FF:

"Yes but Christianity is based on the presumption that human beings are inherently separate from the Living Divine Reality, from the World Process, and from each other.

The fiction of separateness, and the denial of the universal characteristic of prior unity, is a mind-based illusion, a lie, a terribly deluding force, and a profoundly and darkly negative act."

I'm pretty sure that I'm not God.

I'm also pretty sure that I'm not Van.

In any event, isn't the solution that we are both united and separate?

Both/and, rather than either/or?

I suppose that it's true that murder is suicide. But it's also murder.

12/11/2012 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

David:

My spidey sense tells me that Mr. Froth does not share your sensibility, and that he is coming from a very different place. There are two kinds of unity, one of which is a nightmare.

12/11/2012 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He's also a well known troll with a new moniker, previously known as Grant and then Open Trench.

12/11/2012 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger David J Quackenbush said...

Right, his perspective made me think of Teilhard's because the latter is such a richer and more generous way of looking at the same painful mess.

12/11/2012 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...



JP said "Well, don't leave us in suspense."

Having a memory lapse? You don't recall any of the exchanges here over the years?

"What is the part that causes the challenge, based on your experiences."

Those points where what they wish reality would be, conflicts with what reality will never be. They're usually perfectly willing to go along with appearances in those aspects of daily life that don't get their juices flowing, but the moment they have to actually examine reality, and risk seeing the disconnect... they run.

"What triggers the flight response?"

Lots of possibilities, in fact any particular concept that you ask them to walk back to its roots in reality will do, but that can take a while. If you just want to see them turn tail and run, what I've found to be pretty much fool-proof, and there are mucho many examples here in OC if you google it, is ask them to explain what Rights are.

If they don't run immediately, they will within the next few steps.

12/11/2012 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

JP said "I'm also pretty sure that I'm not Van."

I can verify the reality of that.

12/11/2012 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Matthew, of course I was only able to make a quick scan of the table of contents, forward and intro, but the seeming conflation of Liberty with Democracy, and that the contents seems to want to find useful & substantial comparisons between Locke and Hobbes, doesn't bode well.

And just hazarding a guess... does he have kind words for Lincoln? No? Go figure.

12/11/2012 09:46:00 AM  

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