Friday, March 09, 2012

Religious Knowledge and Secular Belief

Yesterday we took a peek from behind the veil that separates us from five years ago. Today -- since I am once again pressed for timelessness -- we shall dial the time machine back four years, to March 2008, in order to examine the state of the cosmos at that particular moment.

Since this blog is an exercise in vertical downloading -- or verticalisthenics -- time should be of no consequence anyway.

I'm not saying they always succeed, but even stale bobservations are supposed to retain a degree of freshness, since things that are temporally distant in the horizontal are co-present in the vertical -- just as in our hyperdimensional dreamspace, where past and present blend into the eternal yesternow.

Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to say that the previous 1,899 posts -- like them or hate them -- have been "the work of a moment," that moment being the now. As such, in addition to revealing whatever they do about this and that, they should also reveal something about the contours of the now, i.e., the form and not just the content.

So, what is the form of the now? Well, for one thing, it is not reducible to efficient causation, since that specifically runs past-to-present, and is the domain of science. Rather, this is a vertical causation that runs from the top down. You might say that, of the four forms of causation, material and efficient are in the horizontal, while formal and final are in the vertical.

Anyway, on to the post, which now includes a bit of horizontal editing:

[R]eligion translates metaphysical or universal truths into dogmatic language. Now, though dogma is not accessible to all men in its intrinsic truth, which can only be directly attained by the Intellect, it is none the less accessible through faith....

[I]ntellectual knowledge... proceeds neither from belief nor from a process of reasoning, [but] goes beyond dogma in the sense that, without ever contradicting the latter, penetrates its "internal dimension," that is, the infinite Truth which dominates all forms
. --F. Schuon

As we have discussed in the past, what makes man unique is not just his capacity for knowledge, but his capacity to know so many things that are manifestly false. To call this latter thing "knowledge" is a perversion of the term, for knowledge that isn't true isn't proper knowledge at all. Then what is it? Why are human beings so prone to believe nonsense?

Even for most so-called intellectuals, most of what they know is not necessarily knowledge. Rather, it is plainly "belief." Belief is knowledge once or twice removed, for it means that we are placing our trust in the experience of another, or participating in the knowledge of another knower. We don't really know, but somebody does, and we trust them.

For example, no one asks if you "know" about global warming; rather, they appropriately ask if you "believe" in it. And whether you believe in it depends upon whom you trust. In my case, I have enough common sense not to trust those who claim to know what the weather will be like in 100 years.

So much of what people think they know -- but which they really don't know at all -- comes down to whom they trust. For example, with regard to economics, I trust, say, Thomas Sowell, but judge Paul Krugman to be not only untrustworthy, but desperately in need of mental health services.

But it's much deeper than that, because one's understanding of economics is always shaped by one's values. For example, I value individualism, low taxes, the rule of law, and a limited government regardless of the economic implications, because I believe these values create better human beings.

On the other hand, the leftist values collectivism, dependency, big government, high taxes, and an extremely elastic law interpreted by elites, depending upon the needs of the state. I derive my values from religious metaphysics and natural law, whereas the leftist derives his from... from what? From his feelings, I suppose.

For example, if an economist came along and "proved" that slavery created more wealth and affluence, I would still reject that economic theory on deeper grounds. Likewise leftists who reject the principle of non-discrimination, and insist that the law should discriminate on the basis of race. I am against discrimination for the same reason I am against genocide or child abuse. Even a little of it is not a good thing.

Belief cannot establish its own legitimacy, but derives its legitimacy from someone who either knows, thinks he knows, or pretends to know. In this sense, it is superficially similar to faith.

However, belief is generally a static thing. It takes the unknown and superimposes the known upon it, thus foreclosing the unknown. Once one believes something, the issue becomes settled, even if in reality it isn't.

Again, for those who believe in global warming, the science is settled. But it's actually the reverse -- that is, the science is only "settled" because they believe in the theory. Nothing is truly settled until we have arrived at a first principle, or axiomatic truth. Anything short of that is just arbitrary.

Secular fundamentalism has certain superficial similarities to religious belief -- for example, our faith that the universe was created. For me, this is indeed a "settled" matter, and no amount of sophistry could change my opinion. But that is not to say that my opinion is "static."

To the contrary, with the exercise of faith -- which is to be distinguished from mere belief -- one's understanding will deepen and deepen, in a kind of endless spiral. Looked at in this manner, faith is merely a placeholder for the accumulation of meaning.

This is again because profane belief is foreclosure of the known, whereas living faith is a dynamic engagement with the greater unKnown. Faith, properly understood, is not a cognitive structure or grid to be superimposed upon reality. Rather, it is a psychospiritual probe with which to explore transcendent reality -- somewhat like the way a blind person might use a cane to to construct an internal image of the dark space around him (to borrow an analogy from Polanyi).

Furthermore, unlike mere belief, faith should be convertible to real, i.e., "eternal" knowledge. It is actually a subtle and sophisticated way to gain knowledge that transcends the senses, not a means to provide false but comforting answers and to vanquish curiosity.

Scientific knowledge, by definition, is always relative, whereas religious knowledge is the closest human beings can come to knowledge that is "absolute." In fact, religious knowledge partakes of the Absolute; or, to be exact, it is "infused" with the Absolute, so that any part of revelation mirrors the whole, so to speak, as in a fractal. (Or, in the words of Joyce, a part so ptee does duty for the holos.)

Thus, many people of faith are actually "people of (implicit) knowledge," whereas many so called intellectuals are actually no more than simple "people of faith." You can really see what little genuine knowledge people have when the discussion revolves around something you do happen to know about, whether it is quantum physics or plumbing repair.

For example, in my case, I happen to possess a lot of theoretical and first hand knowledge of psychology. Most intellectuals who claim to know about psychology don't actually have this kind of first hand knowledge. Rather, they have simply placed their trust in an expert whom they choose to believe. Thus, they have placed their will higher than their intellect; or, at the very last, their intellect is in service of the will to believe.

This is not a bad thing, so long as the will is in the service of Truth. But most of the really serious problems of mankind -- the real wholesale evil -- are a result of the will in service to falsehood, e.g., communism and national socialism.

I remember having a number of discussions with a world-renowned leftist historian who shall go unread. His historical thinking presumed a great deal of psychological knowledge, for how can one claim to study human history without some kind of implicit or explicit theory of human development and motivation?

And yet, his psychological ideas were so outdated and unsophisticated as to be laughable. Yes, he had his own psychological "experts" whom he relied upon -- probably some fashionable ideas he picked up here and there from fellow leftists in the faculty lounge -- but I knew that his faith in these experts was entirely misplaced.

Ironically, it is just so in any debate between an obligatory atheist, or secular fundamentalist, and a man of genuine faith or gnosis. True, many people of faith simply place their trust in someone who knows -- or claims to know -- and leave it at that.

But others do know. They know directly, in the manner of vision or hearing. How then to discuss this knowledge with the obligatory atheist -- that simple and unsophisticated secular man of faith -- who has placed his childlike trust in those who not only do not know but obnoxiously insist that there is nothing to know and no way to know it anyway?

Imagine, say, an 18th century medical expert, the kind that killed George Washington. He has all of the latest knowledge on disease. He knows all about the four humors, about the proper placement of leeches, about how germs are spontaneously generated by bad air, etc. Someone comes along and tells this arrogant fellow that germs aren't spontaneously generated. Rather, there are invisible microorganisms covering his hands, living things that he is actually unwittingly transmitting to his patients. Would this doctor not be far closer to the truth if he ceased believing his experts and stopped trusting his self-confirming personal experience?

As expressed by Josef Pieper, "belief has the extraordinary property of endowing the believer with knowledge which would not be available to him by the exercise of his own powers."

Furthermore, "being wise with the head of someone else is undoubtedly a smaller thing than possessing knowledge oneself, but it is far to be preferred to the sterile arrogance of one who does not achieve the independence of the knower and simultaneously despises the dependence of the believer."

Since we begin the spiritual path without explicit knowledge, we must inevitably place our faith in the testimony of someone who does (or did) know (or who is perhaps knowledge itself). Ah, but how do we know that this person isn't a mere believer himself? How do we assess their credibility and trustworthiness? By what signs do we judge the false from the true prophet?

Human beings are equipped with means to apprehend exterior reality. But we are also curiously equipped to apprehend the interior reality of persons. It is said that a sophisticated scientist, strictly speaking, does not only judge the merits of a scientific theory on the basis of whether it is "true" or "false." Rather, he does so (at least partly) on the basis of its generativity, that is, by how much it explains, how well it ties together various other facts and observations, and the extent to which it gives rise to new and "interesting" problems.

Have you ever known a generative person in whose presence you experience the bracing flow of "life" along your keel? Have you ever been in the presence of a stagnant and lifeless person in whose psychic presence you feel your soul being sucked out of your body?

The spiritually generative lumin being does not merely report reality. Rather, such an individual imparts reality. You might say that they are a door. Or you might say that they are a way. Or perhaps they are even the life.

They know. And we know that they know. And soon enough, we know too. Call it recollection and recognosis.

An esotericism is addressed precisely to those "that have ears to hear" and for that reason have no need of the explanations and "proofs" which may be desired by those for whom esotericism is not intended.... Christ necessarily spoke from an absolute standpoint, by reason of a certain "subjectivization" of the Absolute.... --F. Schuon

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Navigating the Cosmic Winds to the Edge of the Known

Unlike most blogs, this really is one, in that it is a "web log," or public verbal diarrhy that charts my own little cosmic adventure in time and space. What I mean is that it is always taking place in "real time," similar to jazz improvisation, which is being composed on the spot.

To put it another way, if I were just some kind of "expert," presuming to tell you what I supposedly know, then it would be another thing entirely. When I write, it is always with a sense of discovery. I don't know what attracts readers to my writing, but I do know what attracts me to it, which is precisely this sense of adventure that is taking place in the moment. I have no idea what's going to happen next, any more than you do.

Now that I think about it, an image comes to mind, of literally being at the edge of the (or my) known cosmos, and trying to use language to push further into the unknown. I don't expect it to be like this for anyone else, but that's what it's like for me. If I learn something through the process -- which I do -- it is a result of abandoning myself to forces or agencies of which I am not consciously aware. They are very much "other," like the Dreamer who dreams our dreams.

Again, the image comes to mind of a sailor, who is guiding his vessel via forces he cannot see or touch, i.e., winds and currents. Are there cosmic winds and currents? Of course there are cosmic winds and currents.

Which is why, when I repost something, it is like revisiting where I was in the cosmos on that particular morning.

Okay, busted. What I really mean is that I'm pressed for time and have to get ready for work. So here's where I was in the cosmos five years ago this month:

What the devil?

Good question. According Schuon, the devil be "the humanized personification -- humanized on contact with man -- of the subversive aspect of the centrifugal existential power; not the personification of this power in so far as its mission is positively to manifest Divine Possibility."

In other words, the Absolute, insofar as it manifests in time and space, radiates from a cosmic center to the periphery ("the centrifugal existential power"), somewhat like a series of concentric circles with God at the center. God's energies are like radii emanating from the center outward, while the different concentric circles are the various levels of being, or the cosmic hierarchy. (You can also picture it as a cone, with the "point" of God at the top, degrees of manifestation below.)

Therefore, although everything is ultimately God, not everything is equally God. The idea that everything is equally God leads to pantheism, which is an indiscriminate flatland philosophy no more sophisticated than bonehead atheism. It is logically equivalent to saying everything is not God. Or one might simply say "everything," and therefore "nothing" -- it doesn't matter, or mind, for that matter.

In any event, nothing is that simple, let alone everything, let further alone the Divine Nothing-Everything at the center of it all.

Now ultimately, everything "is God" in some sense, but God is not the sum total of everything. Things vary in their proximity to God. You yourself know when you are close to, or distant from, God, even though God hasn't gone anywhere.

We call the movement toward God "evolution," but we should probably come up with a different term -- perhaps Adam & Evolution -- so as to not confuse it with mere natural selection, which reduces the transcosmic fact of evolution to a random and mechanical process of meaningless change.

But it goes without saying to anyone with common sense and uncommon vision, that the greater cannot be derived from the lesser, and that there is presently no plausible theory whatsoever that can account for the miracle of the human subject, which represents a miniature "cosmic center" within the whirling microcosmos of man.

And like the cosmic center of which it is a mirror, the individual center has a natural tendency to radiate outward and lose itself in the playful phenomena of its own creation, or the form of its own sensibility, as Kant would have it.

However, in its properly balanced way, this radiation leads to further centration, not dissipation. For example, when we love what is beautiful, we identify the soul's "within" by locating it in the without, which has the effect of strengthening our central being.

Conversely, if we love that which is ugly or "know" what is false, this has the effect of diminishing our center -- which, at the same time, necessarily pulls us further from God, the cosmic center.

The periphery must be -- i.e., there must be things that are more or less distant from God -- but this does not mean that they need be evil. Nevertheless, as Schuon implies, the divine radiation results in "cosmic interstices," so to speak, where evil enters the picture. This is where the soul-cancers arise and take root. It is one of the inevitable even though unsanctioned possibilities of the Divine radiation, somewhat like an existential blood clot.

The cosmos is permeated with arteries that carry "oxidized" energies away from God and veins through which creation returns to its source. Only human beings may partake of this circulatory system in a conscious way, and become co-partners in the divine plan. It's an offer we can and do refuse, although no one in their right mind would do so.

On the one hand, creation is already "perfect," being that it is a metaphysically necessary but unnarcissary objectification of God. Nevertheless, by virtue of not being God, it cannot be perfect, but can only "become" perfect through man's conscious participation.

Or let us say that perfection is only a possibility because it is woven into the very warp and weft of creation. If it weren't, we wouldn't even have the word. Nor would we have the words for truth and beauty if they were not coursing through the arteries of existence as divine possibilities. Truth is either "invented" or it is "discovered." If invented, then it is not true. If discovered, then it is of God -- or at least underwritten by God, the Absolute.

Now, today we find ourselves in a struggle of truly cosmic proportions between forces representing the human personification of the centrifugal existential power -- which is a very real, even if derivative and parasitic, power -- and those representing the center (or evolutionary return to the center).

It's funny where one can pick up important ideas, but a couple of days ago I heard a promo for the new Dennis Miller radio program. In reference to the weather hysteria of Al Gore, Miller said words to the effect of, "hey, I'm not worried about the earth -- I'm worried about the world."

Exactly. The earth is simply an object deposited somewhere roughly in the middle of the arc of creation. The human world, on the other hand, is very near the top -- or at least the bottom of the top. If you imagine that the earth is a fragile and delicate thing but the world is not, then you are quite naive.

In particular, the world of the West -- the wonderful world created by Judeo-Christian principles -- is without question the most rare and precious thing in all of creation, since it represents the apex of the possibility of the cosmic return to God. In a sense, it is even more precious than individuals -- who are intrinsically infinitely precious -- since it is the only guarantor that the individual may actually discover his unique idiom and become himself, thereby being an individual reflection of the cosmic center.

Let's be honest -- this is why it would suck to have to endure the horror of being born in most any other time or place. Given the choice, would you want to be born a Saudi? A "Palestinian?" A feudal serf? An Argentinian? A Cuban? Lost most anywhere in the continent of Africa? Why? What would be the point? In most times and places, there has been no way for you to do anything but remain frozen in your little cosmic rut with no options.

Now, the cosmo-political battle in which we are engaged is ultimately between forces who deny hierarchy and those who affirm it; and those power-mad drunks who ride the centrifugal waves to the periphery, vs. those who soberly partake of the centripetal return.

Importantly, those who deny hierarchy do so -- either consciously or unconsciously -- with the intention of replacing the natural hierarchy with their own illegitimate one. This is where all the false absolutes of the left enter the picture and set up shop (remember those cosmic interstices alluded to above). Left alone they become cancers, which means that, as they grow in strength and intensity, they actually begin to take on a gravitational attraction of their own.

You might even say that they become an alternative cosmic center that sets itself against the real one. It arrests progress -- the cosmic return -- by pulling both the innocent and guilty into its dark principality. Its methods are moral relativism, multiculturalism, and "critical theory," or deconstruction; its defender and guarantor is the coercion of political correctness rather than the "lure" of Truth; and its goal is the reversal of the cosmic order, the instantiation of the Fall, the obliteration of the vertical, and the exaltation (and therefore bestialization) of man, thus sealing his spiritual fate and ending the possibility of divine co-creation and theosis, or God-realization.

It is appropriate that these cosmic tyrants are called "Democrats," for democracy is a system of information flow that can lead to the higher or to the lower. In fact, it will inevitably lead to the lower if we do not acknowledge at the outset that there is a higher toward which democracy must orient itself. In other words, in the absence of hierarchy, demo-cracy will become exactly what the word implies, which is to say, tyranny of the horizontalized masses, or demo-crazies.

This is why the ads for Air America can insist that they are the "real majority," a bizarre statement on its face unless one understands that this is the leftist substitute for truth. Or as Jim Morrison sang, The old get old / And the young get stronger / May take a week / And it may take longer / They got the guns / But we got the numbers / Gonna win, yeah / We're takin over / Come on!

Who's taking over? In point of fact, the crazies of the left are half correct, in that we are ultimately faced with the choice between democracy and theocracy. The American founders, in their infinite wisdom, chose theocracy, in the sense that the only legitimate purpose of democracy could be to preserve and protect the spiritual freedom of the theocentric individual. In short, they created a benign theocracy that would be mediated not from the top down -- which is never a real theocracy, but man-archy -- through thousands and now millions of godlings, or "divine centers." But a democracy mediated by mere animal-men will sooner or later lead to the Reign of the Beast.

In the specific sense we are using the word, theocracy is "the only guarantee of a realistic liberty" (Schuon). Otherwise, the centrifugal riptide in which secular man stands soon leads to the following ideas: that "truth amounts to the belief of the majority," and therefore, that the majority for all intents and purposes creates the truth, which is one of the explicit assumptions of the left -- i.e., "perception is reality."

Under such berserkumstances, authority cannot appeal to truth, but "lives at the mercy of the electors," which in the end degrades them by patronizing them. Schuon adds that this doesn't mean democracy is impossible, but that "it is primarily a question of... an inwardly aristocratic and theocratic democracy" as envisioned by the Founders.

The adage vox populi vox Dei has no meaning except in a religious framework which confers a function of “medium” on the crowds; they then express themselves not by thought but by intuition and under the influence of Heaven..., so that the feeling of the majority coincides in any case with what may be called “the good".... --F. Schuon

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Come for the Sex, Stay for the Tyranny

I've been thinking lately of the "break in being" represented by man as we find him. Everything else in the cosmos just "is," from matter on up through animals. But man is always in some way divided from himself, which you might say is his gift and his curse.

With regard to the gift, what sets man apart from the rest of creation is his "self-consciousness," which implicitly posits a self of which we are conscious.

Ah, but there is the split: consciousness on the one hand, self on the other. Animals -- or let us just say "life" -- are also split off from the cosmos, except they have no conscious awareness of this fact. In order to know this, consciousness would have to wrap around itself, as it does in human beings. Only man may become "critical," so to speak, capable of offering everything from reasons and explanations to pretexts and likely stories.

In "hindsight" -- which is also "downsight," vertically and ontologically speaking -- humans can see the various splits that are necessary for humanness to exist. We could also call these "multiplicities" that are necessary for the higher unity of humanness to reconcile in order to be "one."

For example, life seems to somehow exist apart from matter. While obviously dependent on matter, it dances upon its precipice, somewhat like a whirlpool, which is a form created by the ever-changing water coursing through it. Thus, the form cannot be reduced to "water," since the water is always changing.

Same with life. Any biological entity is a kind of stable form through which courses matter and energy. The same can be said of the person, except on a higher plane. Our minds are constantly taking in information and emotion, and metabolizing them via experience. For human beings, existence is the metabolism of experience.

Evidently, man cannot be man without being aware of the splits that define him. Take, for example, Genesis. The "story of man" begins with the story of a primordial division that exiles man from his true station.

In this excerpt of J.G. Bennett, he writes of how parents and culture encourage and facilitate this split condition, which they apparently regard as "normal":

"If we study our own childhood, and that of any children growing up around us, we can see how, by every means, we and they are led to accept, and to prefer to exist in, the dream state. The one thing that everyone without exception impresses on children is the need for insincerity, the need to appear to be other than what one is, to hide what one is and appear different" (emphasis mine).

This is a systematic form of "crazy making," because it forces one to distrust one's own perceptions and eventually reject and abandon one's intuition. In raising my son, I am very much aware of not doing this to him. For example, when I was a child, I couldn't help but notice that certain adults were creepy, or crazy, or anxious, or annoying, or weird, or stupid, etc. But I could never discuss these intuitions in a free and frank way with my parents. Rather, adults were people one respected.

I also teach my son to respect -- or at least be polite to -- others, but not to ignore the subtle stream of data given to him by his perceptions. Thus, of our neighbors, he knows that this one is a harmless nut, that that family across the street is rather loud and unrefined, that this lady is anxious and prone to projection, that that mother is a fearful, humorless, controlling, and judgmental "liberal" who is afraid of toy guns and thinks there is no difference between boys and girls, etc.

When the person is alienated from himself, it is not as if the alienated core just closes up shop. Rather, as Bennett writes, "there is a progressive shutting out of all the experience of possibilities, and their replacement by dreams, and, with dreams, just living in the functional life only."

As a result, "man gets divided into two parts. He gets shut up in the world of facts and shut out of the world of possibilities" (emphasis mine).

I was propelled down this path this morning after reading this excellent talk on The Origins of Political Correctness (ht Vanderleun). Lind correctly points out that the regime of political correctness is just a new from of Marxism, or of Marxist principles applied to man and culture instead of economics, where it is too easily disproved.

What is so insidious about it is that, like Genesis -- which it explicitly replaces with its own counter-myth -- it recognizes the primordial split referenced above. Any religion begins with a "diagnosis" of man, for which it then offers the treatment.

Likewise, the pseudo-religion of cultural Marxism begins with a diagnosis of man, and finds him to be irredeemably stupid, to such an extent that he is incapable of recognizing his own interests (never ask why liberals are so sanctimonious and superior, because this is how they see you if you aren't one of them). If you are not a liberal, it is only because you are essentially infested with mind parasites of various kinds, including religious, patriotic, class, gender, and sexual parasites.

Thus, you need to be purged of these impurities. Since not everyone can afford to take the cure at an elite college, the purging process has to be much more widespread, extending into elementary education, entertainment, and media in general. Only then will you be capable of recognizing your own economic interests (and there isn't any other kind).

As Lind explains, Marxism and Freudianism had a baby known as "critical theory." This theory has no "positive content," so to speak; to be perfectly accurate, it does, but it conceals this sinister content behind an epistemological omnipotence -- i.e., industrial grade cynicism -- capable of dissolving the most settled truth acquired by man in his slow struggle up from barbarism. Thus, it truly results in the re-barbarization of man, at which point the "new man" may be programmed into him.

As alluded to above, never wonder about the source of the liberal's sanctimony and superiority; likewise, never wonder about the barbarism, i.e., the body mutilation, er "art," the celebration of animal sexuality, the replacement of morality with "authenticity," the promotion of homosexuality and other deviations, the mindless attacks on tradition (which are fundamentally no different than the Taliban blowing up religious statues), etc. Man must be demolished and demoralized in order to begin history anew.

Thus, the purpose of Critical Theory "is to criticize. The theory is that the way to bring down Western culture and the capitalist order is not to lay down an alternative. They explicitly refuse to do that. They say it can’t be done, that we can’t imagine what a free society would look like (their definition of a free society). As long as we’re living under repression -- the repression of a capitalistic economic order which creates (in their theory) the Freudian condition, the conditions that Freud describes in individuals of repression -- we can’t even imagine it. What Critical Theory is about is simply criticizing. It calls for the most destructive criticism possible, in every possible way, designed to bring the current order down" (Lind).

Consider the bait-and-switch involved in the "sexual liberation" of the 1960s. Yes, animal sexual was "liberated," so to speak, with the result that human sexuality was eclipsed. As Murray documents in his Coming Apart, the liberation resulted in a vast increase in cultural pathology, including broken homes, fatherless children, criminality, abortion, new and deadly venereal diseases, etc. But progressives do not call this "pathology." Rather, for them it is progress: the progress of breaking eggs in order to cook your goose.

Herbert Marcuse was one of the most prominent feelers of the new left, and was quite explicit about the use of sex for political ends (which we saw repeated just last week with the disingenuous Georgetown Skank):

"Classical, economic Marxism is not light, and most of the radicals of the 60s were not deep. Fortunately for them, and unfortunately for our country today, and not just in the university, Herbert Marcuse.... saw the 60s student rebellion as the great chance" to begin refascining man.

In Eros and Civilization, he "argues that under a capitalistic order... repression is the essence of that order and that gives us the person Freud describes -- the person with all the hang-ups, the neuroses, because his sexual instincts are repressed. We can envision a future, if we can only destroy this existing oppressive order, in which we liberate eros, we liberate libido, in which we have a world of 'polymorphous perversity.'"

This is the bait: "here is a guy writing in a way they can easily follow. He doesn’t require them to read a lot of heavy Marxism and tells them everything they want to hear which is essentially, 'Do your own thing,' 'If it feels good do it,' and 'You never have to go to work.'"

Here is the switch: "America today is in the throes of the greatest and direst transformation in its history. We are becoming an ideological state, a country with an official state ideology enforced by the power of the state.... The terror against anyone who dissents from Political Correctness on campus is part of it.... it’s not funny, it’s here, it’s growing and it will eventually destroy, as it seeks to destroy, everything that we have ever defined as our freedom and our culture."

Mission accomplished!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Of Moonbats & Sunspots

About those degrees of knowledge: we all know what they are, even if we can't explain how they relate. After all, no one treats rocks like persons, or mathematical equations like bricks, or spirits like-

Not so fast!

As we know, there is a neurological condition called synesthesia, in which the senses are confused. Thus, for the synesthete, colors may have distinct sounds, sounds may have flavors, or numbers may possess personalities. This is commonly experienced under the influence of psychedelic drugs, e.g., "listen to the color of your dreams" (J. Winston).

In fact, there was a lot of this going around in the '60s: strawberry alarm clocks, electric prunes, peanut butter conspiracies, chocolate watchbands, marmalade skies, etc.

But as it so happens, my pal Bion developed a heuristic device he called "the grid," which looks like this:


The grid is so simple, that I'm surprised no one ever thought of it before. Basically, the vertical axis has to do with the evolution of thought, while the horizontal axis has to do with the uses to which the thought is put.

Thus, for example, it is indeed possible to treat ideas as rocks, as the left proves every day. On the grid, the "rock idea" would be at the intersection of "concept" on the vertical axis and "action" on the horizontal.

You might say that this political synesthesia involves the use of sophisticated ideas such as "liberty" or "democracy" for purposes that are sub-ideational. (The converse can also occur -- the sophisticated deployment of a primitive idea -- for example, when Islamists use a telephone, airplane, or toilet.)

Consider the primitive manner in which the ACLU uses the Constitution. They love the Constitution, not for its intended purpose, of course, but as a bludgeon with which to club opponents and impose leftist polices.

The grid explains how and why, when the left uses words such as "equality"or "justice," they mean -- or intend -- something entirely different than we do. It is why leftists are always "activists," and why they all want to change the world (and man) before they have undertaken the formality of understanding the world.

Which is why you must never deal with a leftist as if they are intellectually honest, because that is the one thing they cannot be. If they were, then they couldn't win a single debate. They win by assuming your honesty, just as the Islamists win by assuming our decency.

To understand the world is to change the world, one assoul at a time. Which is not fast enough for the left, which doesn't care about individuals anyway. As Obama says, they want to fundamentally transform the nation, in a vast top-down imposition of central authority.

In the Degrees of Knowledge, Maritain proposes to outline a synthesis of the integral man, "starting with the experience of the physicist and ending with the experience of the contemplative."

Again, we can all agree that there is an empirical world revealed to us via sensation, e.g., touch, sight, and sound. Above this is a rational-mathematical world that cannot be perceived by the senses. Rather, it is in the realm of abstract thought, but certainly no less real and enduring than the sensory world.

Science as we have come to understand it deals with worlds one and two, although there are some sciences that consist of more or less pure abstraction and deduction, others that rely upon observation and induction.

Bion, for example, specifically attempted to make psychoanalysis more of a logico-deductive discipline than an empirico-inductive, by developing a system of abstract symbols to stand for various psychic categories and entities. In my book, I attempted the same thing vis-a-vis the spiritual dimension. It can be done. It's just that no one will really care until around 2075, when the Raccoon movement goes viral (or parasitic, depending upon your point of view).

After the rational/mathematical comes the metaphysical, although it should be clear that one can't really have worlds one and two in the absence of some (usually) unarticulated metaphysic containing implicit but necessary propositions.

For example, science cannot operate without various metaphysical assumptions such as the unidirectionality of time, the principle of non-contradiction, or the reality of the external world. Similarly, Darwinism cannot account for the cosmo-organismic wholeness that is a prerequisite for natural selection to operate. It cannot explain wholeness, only work with it.

While metaphysics leads to certain necessary truths, such as the existence of God (in the form of first cause, unmoved mover, pure act, etc), it cannot disclose the "within" of God. Thus, metaphysics leads us to the penumbra of the Ultimate Real, but not beyond a certain threshold. Knocking on heaven's door, as it were.

Having said that, because of the properties of this Ultimate Real, the latter can indeed radiate down into metaphysics, leading to an intellectualized form of "infused contemplation," or a metaphysic that reflects some of the luminosity of the Divine Object.

For me, Schuon accomplishes this, as he always makes it clear that he's attempting to communicate a vision, not just articulate a thought. Or perhaps it is a thought-vision that is still at least one degree removed from the beatific vision -- like standing in the corona of the sun, but not fully within. Schuon would be the first to draw this clear distinction, no matter how sublime the metaphysic.

But of course, when you get right down to it, we're all in the sun, aren't we? We can draw a distinction between the light flooding into my window and the vast explosion going on in the heart of the sun, but no such line can actually be unambiguously placed anywhere -- any more than there is a real ontological divide between a baby inside and outside the skin-boundary of the mother (speaking of intellectual honesty interfering with a desired action).

So, who's to say that the photosynthesizing leaf is separate from the photopropagating sun? Perhaps a leaf is just the sun's way of establishing centers of light elsewhere in the cosmos, just as the exploding stars of which we are composed are just the big bang's way of making a lot of little bangs.

Or, better yet, perhaps the sun is just a way to make sure the universe will contain leaves.

One question, Bob. Can I buy some pot from you?

Monday, March 05, 2012

Tracing the Dimensions of the Soul

Ah. Now I remember why I was intrigued by Maritain's The Degrees of Knowledge back in the day, when I was working out the Raccoon metaphysic.

To back up a bit, recall that I only completed the latter project in the spring of 2006, subsequent to mountain biking after a brush fire had passed through. The fire had exposed a vintage Kaiser Willys, with a skeleton in the front seat still clutching a rough draft of the Protocols of the Elders of Bensonhurst sketched out on a badly decayed cocktail napkin.

This provided the missing piece for which I had previously searched everywhere for well over ten minutes -- the area rug that pulled the entire cosmos together -- and which represented the crapstone to our solution to the World Enigma.

Finally, I had in my trembling hands the means with which to March Fourth on a soph-surfing trialogue at the edge of the subjective horizon on wings of rest, i.e., Slack, the latter of which is the soothing "interstitial fluid" in the handy spaces within necessity.

As I have mentioned before, I didn't initially come at this huge mythunderstanding from a Christian perspective. Which was ultimately a good thing, because frankly, I never could have done what I did had I known what I was doing. Because I didn't know any better, I was free to violate disciplinary boundaries, blend irreconcilable thinkers and doctrines, engage in friction-free leaps of logic, and obey revealed hunches as demanded by expediency.

Now comes this Maritain fellow who claims to have accomplished the same thing from a Christian standpoint! In 1932! Why didn't I know about this? Indeed, the Thing had essentially been accomplished some 700 years ago, and only required some touching up and tinkering at the edges in order to make it fully conversant with the scientific progress that had taken place in the interim. Here was no apologetic Uncle Thomist, but a Thomist apologetic capable of speaking to our age of stupidity.

When we talk about "the degrees of knowledge," we implicitly acknowledge the degrees of being that correspond to them. In my case, I divided these into the convenient categories of matter, life, mind, and spirit, each reflecting a different mode of being and requiring a different manner of knowing.

For example, one cannot know spirit empirically. However, one can know matter spiritually, being that truth emanates from the top down, not the bottom up.

When we talk about these essential distinctions, we are really talking about the vertical. As Maritain says, "Every attempt at metaphysical synthesis, especially when it deals with the complex riches of knowledge and of the mind, must distinguish in order to unite." What is necessary above all is "to discriminate and discern degrees of knowing, its organization and its internal differentiations."

Looked at in this manner, any form of scientism, for example, is a non-starter, because it reduces the hierarchical complexity of the world to a vulgar monism. In so doing, it reduces reality to our most simple way of knowing it, and in the process denies any reality outside its narrow scope. "Leveling," says Don Colacho, "is the barbarian's substitute for order."

In the past, I have discussed the idea that the measure of soul is depth. To put it bluntly, a developed soul will see much more deeply into the nature of reality, whereas a shallow soul is satisfied by staying on the surface of things. The deep soul knows that no merely scientific explanation can ever satisfy man, whereas the shallow soul seems content to play in the little blandbox of efficient causes.

However, Maritain adds to this the dimensions of length, breadth, and height, which I had basically subsumed under depth. In any event, when we refer to these categories, we are referring to hidden or implicit dimensions of reality that are just waiting to be unpacked by man.

In a phrase I am very much tempted to steal, Maritain refers to the fundamental fact of a cosmos that is boundlessly intelligible. But it is only boundlessly intelligible to the extent that there exists an unbound soul to witness and testify to it.

To cite an obvious example, for the Marxist, the world is surely intelligible, but not boundlessly so. Rather, Marxism serves the function of placing sharp boundaries around reality. Dialectical Materialism explains everything, with no remainder. Indeed, if you deny it, you are actually an instance of it.

I came across an unintentionally funny example of this at HotAir this morning, Does college really turn people into liberals? The authors cite some silly studies to deny the obvious, and conclude by stating that if you believe otherwise, then it's only because you are trying to protect "economic power." In other words, they trot out a classic Marxist explanation to deny their own Marxism, reducing great complexity to a simple pseudo-economic explanation.

Which reminds me of a quip of Don Colacho to the effect that the easiest way to dismiss a counter argument is to attribute it to its supposed motivations. This is the cognitive Swuss Army Knife of the left, in that any idea that threatens these wusses is attributed to racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. Which is why, as Don Colacho says, the denial of hierarchy ultimately results not in "equality," or the elimination of class, but in two classes. And you are in the wrong one.

Back to those dimensions of depth in the soul. For Maritain, "length" bears upon "the manner in which the formal light that characterizes a particular type of knowing falls upon things and defines in them a certain line of intelligibility."

For example, in my case, I attempt to trace things back to (and before) the big bang, or forward, through the realms of matter, life, mind, and spirit. To put it another way, to deny this line of continuous development is to deny and even maim a vital dimension of the soul.

"Breadth" has to do with "the ever-increasing number of objects thus known." As such, a truly all-purpose metaphysic that is worthy of man, will explain the material world as well as the subjective world, without reducing one to the other. But to reduce mind and spirit to matter is the ultimate case of denying the breadth of the soul.

"Height" involves distinguishing the "different sorts of knowing" and "the degrees of intelligibility and immateriality of the object." In other words, it deals with vertical differentiations in the hierarchy of existence and being.

Finally, "depth" speaks to all those "hidden diversities," i.e., those relatively autonomous sub-worlds which are constantly disclosed to the mind that is free -- i.e., the liberal mind, as opposed to one that is servile to ideology.

To be continued....

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Immortal Soul

I'd like to get back to "music Saturdays," or at least post about music from time to time...

Am I a serious collector? Well, Uncle Rico, things are getting pretty serious right now. I mean, I spend, like, two hours every day on it, so I guess you could say things are gettin' pretty serious.

But seriously, as a serious collector of all forms of cosmo-American music, one is always on the lookout for something one might have missed, some great-but-unknown artifact of cosmoAmericana.

Let's take, for example, the case of Otis Redding. Otis died in a tragic plane crash in December 1967, at the peak of his powers. No more Otis. Unless...

The amount of music Otis produced became finite -- a thing of the past -- on December 10, 1967. But that doesn't mean we've heard everything he put down and committed to tape. Thus begins the usual exercise in barrel scraping exploitation, in the attempt to squeeze every bit of revenue from his legacy.

The Beatles Anthology series turned barrel scraping into big business, since which time the music industry has attempted to identify every last barrel in its possession in order to dump the contents on boomers with too much money and nostalgia.

Actually, if memory serves, this first started with Jimi Hendrix, whom I believe put out three albums while alive, but, according to Amazon, now has 1,731. When we die, our fingernails keep growing. But do too does our back-catalogue. Truly, death for Hendrix was an exceptionally shrewd business move, as it was for Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin.

After all, had any of these three lived, they would have aged just like their peers, and no one gets excited about the prospect of a new album by Grace Slick or Joe Cocker, or even the Who, the Stones, Ray Davies, etc.

Today Hendrix would be 69. If he were still above the sod, perhaps he'd be like Sly Stone, homeless and living in his van; or imprisoned on drug-and-shootin'-at-the-bitch-made-me-do-it charges, like James Brown; or room temp in a crack house, like doomed Tempt David Ruffin.

Or maybe his dad would have bust a cap through him, like Marvin Gaye. Or maybe just faded into self-parody, like Ray Charles, or living fat on his legend, like Aretha. Or maybe he would have found and lost and found God, like Al Greene; or been a victim of a hideous accident, like Curtis Mayfield and Teddy Pendergrass; or alive but severely brain-damaged, like Jackie Wilson. So many career options!

However, every once in awhile you do find that previously undiscovered gem, such as this demo performance of You Left the Water Running on an outstanding collection called The Fame Studios Story 1961-73. In fact, that set contains many fine examples of Cosmo-southern soul that I hadn't heard before, and like I said, I like to think I'm a pretty serious collector and passionate negrophile in general.

On balance, one probably has the best chance of finding those undiscovered gems in soul music, one reason being that so much of it was recorded on tiny independent -- or even fly-by-night -- labels with no national distribution.

For example, some guy has put together a couple of box sets of obscure gospel music, Raw, Rare & Otherworldly African-American Gospel and This May Be My Last Time Singing: Raw African-American Gospel on 45RPM. I haven't purchased them, but the samples sound fascinating. I don't know that it's even possible anymore to produce gospel music so spontaneously and unself-consciously, with no eye on market considerations. It really is "other-worldly," from a world that no longer exists.

A seriously anal collector is always on the lookout for that great artist that has eluded his attention. Well, just last week I found one. I'd heard the name before, and even heard a song or two, but only last week did I finally order this collection, The Complete O.V. Wright on Hi Records. If you want everything he did prior to 1975, that will only set you back $254.29. That would be a major commitment.

One often hears the term "criminally underrated" tossed about. Well, I am pleased to report that this guy is the Real Deal. In his case, dying at 41, just a few years after this performance, did nothing for his career. He'll even make you believe fish have hands, that's how strong it is. Take a listen:

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Georgetown Skank & the Pursuit of Horniness

Some scattered brain droppings to get us started:

The following is either paraphrased or a direct quote from Maritain: Each genuine science has its own distinctive light, corresponding to the formal principles by which it attains its object, or makes the object known.

Now, there are also supernatural principles, and these are made known by the light of faith. For there is an "object of pure intelligence" that cannot present itself to us -- or which we cannot make known to ourselves -- in any other way. We must meet it on its home turf, not ours.

There are necessary truths accessible to our reason. To the extent that one denies truths that compel our assent -- such as that the world is intelligible and that truth exists -- one is floating about the earth untethered to anything but the winds of opinion, fashion, preference -- in a word, desire.

What do these ethereal thoughts have to do with, like, anything -- you know, important stuff, like whether it is true that the Constitution forces us to subsidize the hysteromaniacal sex life of some Georgetown skank?

Glad you raised that point, because it is a perfect example of the distinction between a legal system rooted in principle and one based upon getting laid.

Call me an old-fashioned liberal, but it never occurred to me that one of the state's enumerated powers is to assure me abundant sex without consequences. Indeed, if the government were in charge of sex, then I'm sure that all women would look like DMV clerks, or maybe Miss Fluke herself (that's the DMV clerk on the left).

I know what you're thinking: Bob, you silly assoul, you never attended law school! What makes you think you understand the Constitution?

Fair question, but I've done some research, and it turns out that this Constitution thingy wasn't actually ratified by the Harvard Law School faculty.

Rather, it was presented for approval to the people, who are its author and its source. Our Constitution is sovereign over the people only to the extent that we are sovereign over it.

I know. Weird!

And of course, we can only be sovereign over it to the extent that we are sovereign over ourselves. But it sounds to me like the Georgetown Skank has no such auto-sovereignty, because you've got to be either really stupid or quite the bimbo -- or maybe just Paris Hilton -- to spend a thousand dollars a year on birth control.

I'll be frank: back when I was in college, I was never that lucky. Nor is it any measure of Cupid's favor to end up in the sack with the indiscriminate Miss Fluke. Rather, if one attends Georgetown -- or maybe just lives in the greater Georgetown area -- that is inevitable.

In fact, having sex three times a day for three years is beyond lucky. Rather, it's a compulsion. So does Obamacare cover the Georgetown Skank's sexual addiction? Because if she doesn't get treated, I don't know how she's ever going to graduate. Unless she's sleeping with her professors. Right.

Besides, if she wants to screw that many people, why not do it the old-fashioned way, by getting a judicial appointment?

About the question of law reducing to libido, or desire. That's no gag, because as Arkes points out, constitutional law took a one hundred eighty degree turn with the Griswold case of 1965.

In fact, you might say that it took a three hundred sixty degree turn, in the sense that it represented a "new start" for the forces that had been trying to undermine the Constitution for decades.

Griswold is only superficially about birth control. Rather, it simply used that as a pretext to usher in a new epoch of state intrusion into our lives. As Arkes explains, Griswold and Roe have become "the new touchstones in our jurisprudence," to such an extent that "any theory, any doctrine, of the law" which yields "the 'wrong' result" is "instantly marked as suspect or invalid."

In other words, instead of using the powers of deduction to apply constitutional principles to individual cases, we have a new standard that insists that we must toss out the principle if it clashes with the desires of the new vulgarians. For example, if I don't want the states to legislate abortion, then I conjure a constitutional reason to make it illegal for states to do so. That's what you call conjurisprudence.

Arkes says that "It could hardly be an overstatement then to say that Griswold and Roe mark the center, the core, of liberal jurisprudence in our own time."

The irony, of course, is that in reality the state -- the state, of all things! -- couldn't care less about your privacy. For example, it can reach into your wallet and force you to buy products you don't want and enter contracts you'd rather not.

But even leaving Obamacare to the side, have you ever been audited by the IRS? I mean, not over some small error, but the full proctological exam? That's when you find out that your privacy is a joke. And, for that matter, that you are guilty until proven innocent.

Another irony is that, in order to force the New Deal and Great Society upon us, the court had to take an entirely different tack prior to Griswold. Otherwise, how does one justify the huge expansion of state power to regulate every aspect of our economic behavior? Protest to FDR that you have a right to privacy -- for example, that you are free to charge as much as you want for a fucking chicken -- and you would have been arrested and tried.

But choking your chicken?

No, that's a poor example. Statists want to get involved in that activity as well.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Cosmoanalysis: The More We Change, the More We Become the Same

Disclaimer: this post veered off in an unexpectedly self-indulgent direction. It was interesting for me, however, because it again reminded me of how little and much I've changed. Or, one might say that the essence is the same. Only the contingencies have been eliminated...

I remember back in graduate school when it dawned on me that I wasn't studying "knowledge," but rather, being.

This came as a shock to a would-be intellectual, because it meant that no amount of memorization -- of conforming the mind to the body of knowledge called "psychology" -- would render me superior to the uncredentialed, the un-overeducated, the untenured rabble. Rather, I was just like everyone else, except that my particular form of knowledge was useless.

Where's the point? I mean, if one doesn't have what it takes to become wealthy, a person of average intelligence can at least console himself by pretending to be smarter than everyone else. But now that rug was pulled out from under me as well. All your wisdom is folly to the unconscious!

The point about being taking priority over knowing is especially true of my racket, clinical psychology. In fact, I can't think of a field in which it is more true, with the possible exception of theology. But even there, we have dogma and revelation, which are given, not anything we come up with on our own.

I suppose mystical theology would be the closest approximation, because that too is a reality inaccessible to mere knowledge (k). Rather, it is experiential, so that real knowledge of it must proceed from experience, knowing from being.

In contrast, an experimental psychologist can spend his entire career designing various moronic studies and convince even himself that this constitutes real knowledge of man. Or, one can be a neuropsychologist and administer tests showing a correlation between this deficit over here and that part of the brain over there. Or, one can be an evolutionary psychologist and make up Darwinian fairy tales to account for this or that human trait or ability. Music? Poetry? Art? All just genetic booty-calls. Now, where's my Ph.D.?!

In the words of J. Winston Lennon, one thing you can't hide is when you're crippled inside. You cannot fake being, because doing so is the very quintessence of fakery. To not be who you are -- to pretend to be someone or something else -- immediately exiles one from being. It seems that most people (for reasons we will get into) cannot tolerate being, so it is preferable to be something else. But then you're not being, are you? You've just rendered yourself null and void. D'oh!

Now that I'm in this wistful and reminiscent frame of mind, I'm flipping through my dissertation, which was completed in 1988 and unread since. In it I see that there is a section entitled I Think Therefore I Am: Knowing Separated From Being. Let's see if it contains anything relevant to our present endeavors, shall we?

"Philosophy and science -- that is, mind and matter -- were not always in the incommensurable position they find themselves in today."

Okay. Tell me more.

Well, this oldBob -- who was quite the intellectual romantic -- goes on about the "mystical and transforming power" of real knowledge. But in a world in which knowledge is excised from being, it inevitably devolves to a function of desire" (which I would now say includes power, not to mention control).

Blah blah yada yada, this Descartes fellow, with his "I think therefore I am" business, helped usher in "the erroneous belief that knowledge can be totally separated from being, and furthermore, that 'being' is the inferior side of the equation."

As it applies to psychoanalysis, it resulted in the implicit idea that the "cure" is "the result of gaining proper knowledge about the workings of the unconscious mind." But this only ends up trying to "contain" what cannot be contained by mere knowledge, for the drop cannot contain the ocean.

"It took some time for psychoanalysts to realize that the true reality of psychic life had to do with intimate emotional experiences, and that knowledge could never be made separate from this underlying matrix.

"[T]he mystery of the mind must be tolerated, and one must not eliminate the pain of 'not knowing' by formulating doctrines and explanations which claim a final understanding.

"When knowledge becomes a completely rigid or closed cycle, it leads to alienation from the generative ground of reality: enchantment and wonder are bartered away for security and safety," contributing profoundly to what oldBob calls "the demystification of being."

What we call "treatment" actually revolves around explicating the patient's relationship to truth. This "must be investigated freely, as freely as the patient's associations, only at a higher level of abstraction.... only by arresting habitual thought patterns can one sever the threads that bind one to the explicate order."

Wait, there's more!

Believe it or not, this knowledge is "deeply and mythologically rooted in the firmament of the sacred," the latter of which "cannot in any way be detached from being.... Psychoanalytic change proceeds first from being what one is, and then knowing one's experience."

Tell us more about this ultimate knowledge rooted in being, oldBob.

Okay. This knowledge "binds one to the whole of things, 'the primordial ground, the ever-present starting point of all creation.'" Suffering in this view "is indeed conceived as ignorance, but not in the same sense of being ignorant of mere information. It is a much greater kind of ignorance, which has to do with alienation from the ground of being."

Bottom line:

"Human beings have the capacity to participate in a perpetually open cycle of creativity arising from a timeless, implicate order. This is the realm from which spring not only creativity and art, but genuine in-sight."

The common core of the sacred is "the experience of a completely ineffable and transcendent, and yet immanent and and prehensible, fact. The nature of this fact relates to the 'cosmic dimension' of human beings."

Yeah, I guess I pretty much invented cosmoanalysis, so I got that going for me.

Plus le Bob change...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Whaddya Know? And Whodya Be?

O Wisdom which reaches with strength from one end of the world to the other and makes extremes one! --Jacques Maritain

It seems to me that everything hinges upon whether or not man may know. If we cannot know, then our whole pretentious house of cards collapses, and we are reduced to competing forms of nihilism, or survival of the frivolous. But if we can know, then...

To approach this question is truly to begin at the beginning, because no other questions can be answered until we establish the fact that questions are answerable -- i.e., that man may possess true knowledge of himself and the world.

Indeed, some thinkers believe we must go even further back, and first establish the existence of the world. For example, this is what Kant does, and concludes that it doesn't exist. That being the case, we cannot know anything about it. The end.

That's an exaggeration, but only an uncharitable one. The point is that Kant placed a dark line between What Is and What We May Know About It, which ultimately results in an unbridgeable chasm between being and knowing.

Yes, we can still know, but this knowledge is ultimately of our own neuropsychology, not of the Real. We don't perceive the world, only (through) our categories. We are in the position of a submarine captain who navigates by instrument but never sees or touches water.

Since truth is the conformity of mind to reality, the very notion of truth is poisoned at the root. Thought and Thing go through an ugly divorce, and Thing gets to keep all the real properties to herself, since you Kant take 'em with you. Man becomes closed upon himself, and tenure takes care of the rest.

The whole thing can be boiled down even further, which is why I developed my irritating system of unsaturated pneumaticons. For truly, it all comes down to O and/or Ø, does it not?

For Kant, O supposedly exists (hello, noumena!), except that there is absolutely nothing we can know or say about it. That being the case, it is but a small giant step backward to jettison O altogether, because even to say that we can't say anything about O is to say something about it. Therefore, it makes much more sense to simply dismiss O and stick with Ønly.

In short, Kant pulled his punches and tried to have his crock and eat it too. But you cannot eat from an imaginary crock pot. Likewise, you cannot have knowledge of an unknowable world. But still, these postmodern crackpots insist with a straight farce on calling it knowledge.

In approaching this question of knowledge we need to bear in mind Maritain's reference to the "freshness of vision that is lost today," to "the youth, the virginity of observation, the intuitive upsurge of intellect, as yet unwearied, toward the delicious novelty of the real."

Specifically, even if we ultimately conclude with modern man that we may only have knowledge of phenomena, we shouldn't start there, because we cannot start there. In other words all men -- as men -- start with the pre-philosophical and pre-scientific conviction that of course there's a real world, doofus. WTF are you talking about?

Indeed, it takes many years of schooling to eradicate this conviction and replace it with its converse. Of course, no one actually believes it, but that's the subject of a different post. Let's just stick with what people think they believe.

"Every metaphysics that is not measured by the mystery of what is, but by the state of positive science at such and such an instant, is false from the beginning" (ibid.). Man is uniquely instructed by O, which is why the rigorous discipline of Truth is a transfiguring and purifying process. For man, as he inevitably finds himself in the herebelow, is a mixture of substance and accident, or truth and error.

In other words, we all have an essential nature -- the soul -- but the exigencies of life and the imperatives of adaptation result in the importation of various impurities that we call "mind parasites," or a condition of (•••), of multiples subselves with varying agendas, the most fundamental of which is a desire to go on being. We might say that (•) is to world (or a world) as (¶) is to O.

Let us say that man may know. But what does this mean, to know? What is going on when we know something? The answer isn't obvious -- at least not anymore -- but for Maritain it is an irreducibly spiritual event through and through. For

"There is a vigorous correspondance between knowledge and immateriality. A being is known to being to the extent that it is immaterial."

This formulation, so obvious to common sense, is nevertheless filled with paradoxes that need to be resolved. For example, "to know is to be in a certain way something other than what one is: it is to become a thing other than the self..." Thus, knowledge isn't the thing, but nor is it the self. So what is it?

To be continued...

Being is, indeed, the proper object of the intellect.... [T]he intellect, if I may say so, "loops the loop," in coming back, to grasp metaphysically and transcendentally, to that very same thing which was first given to it in its first understanding of the sensible. --Maritain

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Human Nature: The Adventure of a Lifetime

According to my unofficial records, I originally read Maritain's The Degrees of Knowledge over a decade ago, when I was so much older and couldn't possibly have understood what he's on about. While I clearly grasped some of it -- the highlighted passages tell me so -- attempting to read it cold, with no background in AristThomilean philosophy, is a little like pulling a textbook on quantum chemistry off the shelf and expecting to get anything out of it but a headache.

Two of the things I did understand are playgiarised within the bʘʘk (on pp. 73 and 93 for those keeping score at home):

"The mind, even more so than the physical world and bodily organisms, possesses its own dimensions, its structure and internal hierarchy of causalities and values -- immaterial though they may be" (emphasis mine, because that is a bold statement: the mind has more structure than the physical world? Well, it's true, otherwise we couldn't apprehend all the structure in this mythterious world of boundless intelligibility.).

The other passage is this: "Existing reality is therefore composed of nature and adventure. This is why it has a direction in time and by its duration constitutes an (irreversible) history -- these two elements are demanded by history, for a world of pure natures would not stir in time; there is no history for Platonic archetypes; nor would a world of pure adventure have any direction; there is no history for thermodynamic equilibrium."

These two statements bear upon ultimate reality, the former on the substance of human beings, the latter on the form of history. But the two cannot be separated, since history is what happens to humans; in a way, it is the substance of our lives. Therefore, an individual life is also comprised of nature and adventure. Your life is an adventure in nature, or nature having an adventure. Bon voyage! And véridique, while you're at it.

In this context, the word "nature" has nothing to do with vulgar naturalism. Rather, it is a term of art referring to the "nature of things," i.e., their essential nature (which is what the Founders intend when they refer in the first sentence of the Declaration to the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God"; they are referring to natural law, not to physics or biology).

A common caricature of conservatives is that we are all for nature (i.e., transcendent order), but not so big on adventure. Conversely, contemporary liberals are all about adventure, but reject any essential, God-given order.

But the True Path, as suggested by Maritain and reaffirmed by Petey just this morning, again involves nature and adventure. Except that the former word, because of contemporary accretions, no longer captures and conveys the intended meaning.

Nor, for that matter, does the phrase Chance & Necessity, in Monod's formulation; or Order Out of Chaos, in Prigogine's; or Adventures of Ideas, in Whitehead's; or Design for Evolution, in Jantsch's; or Science, Order, & Creativity, in Bohm's; or Psychoanalysis, Chaos, and Complexity: The Evolving Mind as a Dissipative Structure, in oldBøb's; etc.

There was a time that I believed those works did the job, but again, I was so much older then. Only now that I am far younger is this blog even possible, in the sense that its operation involves grabbing the wheel of the cosmic bus and plunging forward on an adventure in nature -- into the nature of things. If this latter did not exist -- if there were no road, or worse yet, a road to nowhere -- then our path would be just a big nul de slack.

Or, to be perfectly accurate, the plunge into chaos would at first feel like an adventure. That part is true, because I remember it. But the absence of order would get old very quickly. Then we'd be flailing around for some kind of order to replace the one we denied.

Now you understand how the chaologists of the left inevitably veer into tyranny, with an "unnatural nature" of their own invention imposed upon us. The anarchic Summer of Love quickly devolves to the coercive and bullying Climate of Hate (that part of manmade climate change is true).

In other worlds, only by denying our real nature, our essence, can leftists proceed with their grim project. Once one denies human nature, then one can do anything with impunity: redefine marriage, jettison liberty, appropriate private property, break (or coerce) contracts, steal from future generations (or just kill them), whatever.

Back to this world. Maritain discusses the question of how the cosmic laws can be necessary, while the events are contingent.

Well, just because there is a Law, this doesn't imply any mechanistic/deterministic framework. For example, there are strict rules in baseball, but every game is different. I've been a baseball fan since I was nine years old, and I still see things I've never seen before.

One reason science is inadequate to disclose reality is that it deals in the necessary, not the contingent. A wholly contingent reality would not be susceptible to scientific description.

Interestingly, this bears on the human adventure, in that science obviously applies to human beings. And yet, every human is unique, an unrepeatable individual. How does that work?

Again, our nature is on an adventure. And the nature of human nature is diversity within form, so no one is having the same adventure, even though there's only one nature and one world.

This post shall be called Human Nature: The Adventure of a Lifetime. But I guess it could equally be called Human Adventure: The Nature of a Lifetime. Or Human Lifetime: The Nature of an Adventure.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I Was So Much Older Then...

There are only three areas in which the ancients still speak to us -- intimately, profoundly, universally. These would be in the domains of truth, of virtue, and of beauty; or, how to know, what to do, and why to create. Otherwise, there's pretty much no point in wasting one's time familiarizing oneself with these dead white sages, prophets, and saints.

I am once again reminded of this by Maritain, who suggests that we consult these great souls "because we want to hark back to a freshness of vision that is lost today."

Jesus makes a point of counseling us to be as children, but surely he doesn't mean this in any pejorative sense, e.g., credulous, naive, easily led, Democrat.

For what is a child? Well, for starters, it is what man uniquely is, in the sense that -- alone among the animals -- he specializes in immaturity because his neoteny never ceases.

Except when it does, which is when man dies, precisely. In other words, man is quintessentially an open system, not just biologically (which is obvious), but psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. To the extent that one becomes closed, or at equilibrium, in any of these areas, then one is dead on that particular level.

To say neoteny is to say neo-nate, which simply means "new birth." Thus, to say that man must be "born again" implies that one must not conflate, say, biological and spiritual birth.

Now, one of the soul's most important powers is, of course, abstraction. For example, we may consider physical and spiritual birth, and ask ourselves, what is common of the two? Birth as such represents the crossing of an ontological caesura; it is a kind of new being in a new environment -- except that something of the old being must persist, otherwise there would be nothing to undergo the change, which would be absurd.

"I was blind, but now I see." Among other things, this is a statement about birth. A new being has been born, but it is nevertheless the same "I" who was once blind but now sighted. So don't you ever forget it!

Anyway, Maritain writes of the ancients that "No treasuring up of experience, none of the advantages, none of the graces of thought's advancing age can possibly replace the youth, the virginity of observation, the intuitive upsurge of intellect, as yet unwearied, toward the delicious novelty of the real."

Allow that to sink in for a moment. While you're at it, allow something else to slink out.

I remember reading a record review of a new anthology of a musician who had peaked some half century ago. It doesn't matter who the artist was, but the critic said words to the effect that he envied the person who would be hearing this music for the first time, with fresh ears: "And when they say, 'Uncle, this has changed my life,' you can reminisce about how it changed yours as well."

However, as we know, one of the magical properties of grace is to "make all things new." It especially makes love new, but also knowledge and beauty. In the absence of this vertical renewal, life would pretty much be the worst day ever, gosh!

Speaking of which -- no, not Napoleon, but Jacques -- the latter recognized this unpleasant truth by the age of 20 or so. He must have been a rather intense lad, for

"In 1901, Maritain met Raïssa Oumansoff, a fellow student at the Sorbonne.... Both were struck by the spiritual aridity of French intellectual life and made a vow to commit suicide within a year should they not find some answer to the apparent meaninglessness of life. Bergson's challenges to the then-dominant positivism sufficed to lead them to give up their thoughts of suicide, and Jacques and Raïssa married in 1904. Soon thereafter... both Maritains sought baptism in the Roman Catholic Church (1906)."

Once again we see confirmation of my point about the only cure for cynicism being more of it. I too arrived at this completely skeptical and cynical point of view by my twenties, at least in terms of mind and spirit, or what we may know and who we are. Perhaps I was saved by my emotional immaturity, which caused me to remain rather innocent and viscerally (and even painfully) idealistic in that area. Compared to emotional reality, one's mental superstructure (if not grounded in the transcendent real) is just a shack in a hurricane, so I couldn't find that old crackerbox now if I tried.

Camus made the point that the only important philosophical question is whether or not to commit suicide. He's right. It doesn't mean you have to kill yourself all at once. Rather, you can spend your whole life doing it, like the finest rock stars and jazz greats. Or, more to the point, once one has committed spiritual suicide, then one is a dead man walking this way anyway, a grotesquely living corpse, like Steven Tyler.

Now a child, just because he is constantly learning and therefore "permanently immature," is not thereby a nothing. Rather, he represents our very own eros shot into the heart of the divine center, and my, getting bigger each day! -- which is to say, more height, more length, more breadth, and more depth (which are the measures of the soul's dimensions).

Schuon expresses it beautifully in observing that the child "of whatever age remains close to the paradise not yet fully lost": “And it is for that reason that childhood constitutes a necessary aspect of the integral man: the man who is fully mature always keeps, in equilibrium with wisdom, the qualities of simplicity and freshness, of gratitude and trust, that he possessed in the springtime of his life.”

Or, in the words of our young unKnown Friend,

"There is nothing which is more necessary and more precious in the experience of human childhood than parental love.... nothing more precious, because the parental love experienced in childhood is moral capital for the whole of life.... It is so precious, this experience, that it renders us capable of elevating ourselves to more sublime things--even divine things. It is thanks to the experience of parental love that our soul is capable of raising itself to the love of God."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pissing in the Stream of Progress

Continuing with yesterday's post, we are a firm believer in evolution. What we do not understand -- in principle, mind you -- is how a believer in natural selection can simultaneously maintain a belief in evolution, since the one precludes the other.

Let's define our terms. In order to avoid a common misconception, I should point out that when I say evolution, I do not mean evolutionism, which is another species entirely.

The latter is the metaphysical doctrine that says that ultimate reality involves a kind of unfolding from primordial substance. It reduces to pantheism -- or elevates matter to God -- as everything is seen as an explication of what lies hidden in potential in mere matter. It violates reason and common sense, as it not only tries to derive the higher from the lower, but ultimately, if pressed to its conclusion, everything from nothing. Life must reduce to death, mind to matter, truth to falsehood, and your little theory of evolutionism to a sacred cow pie. And you just stepped in it.

As mentioned in previous posts, the idea of evolution had literally been around for thousands of years (two thousand, anyway) prior to Darwin. Maritain points out that a number of the pre-Socratics hit upon the notion, which is not surprising, since it is one of the possibilities presented to us as we first attempt to see beneath phenomena to the Real.

If we think of these men as analogous to children (by which I do not mean to insult them; rather, that, philosophically speaking, man was in the position of a child, starting with nothing), then we can understand how one might arrive at the notion that all is change, or being, or one. In other words, they are searching for the ultimate abstraction, or principle, which can account for each and every particular instance (which is indeed the purpose of metaphysics).

So Maritain reminds us that various forms of evolutionism were taught by Greek thinkers of the fifth and sixth centuries BC, such as Anaximander, Empedocles, and Heraclitus, the latter of whom is famous for teaching that "all is change," and that one cannot step into the same stream twice.

But again, if this is true, then it must also apply to Heraclitus' doctrine, so that if he is right, he is wrong. The same applies, of course, to modern Darwinists, to the extent that they elevate the science to a metaphysic.

Maritian traces the evolution of philosophy -- which is to say, the increased proximity to wisdom -- from these early thinkers, through Plato and Aristotle and on to St. Thomas. And when I say evolution, I mean evolution. I do not mean random change, as if there is no essential difference between Heraclitus, Aristotle, and Thomas, and that one might as well flip a coin to determine which of them was closer to truth.

No, when I say that philosophy -- and science, for that matter -- has evolved, this is what I mean: that it betrays a clear and recognizable direction that only the fool or tenured could deny.

Not to speak ill of the dead, but this denial is precisely what my late uncle-through-marriage -- the esteemed University of Chicago historian -- maintained. It so happens that he was friendly with Thomas Kuhn, who wrote the celebrated Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In one of those rare occasions that I was completely wrong, I argued that Kuhn was not implying that there was no such thing as objective scientific progress. Admittedly, I didn't actually know this. Rather, I just assumed that no one could be that stupid. I was a little naive back then.

So, when we talk about philosophic or scientific progress, what are we really talking about? In other words, what is the measure of progress, besides getting a lot of free stuff from the government on somebody else's dime? So far Maritain hasn't come right out and said it, but perhaps the most noticeable change we see between, say, the pre-Socratics through Aquinas, involves the power of abstraction.

In fact, we can trace this path all the back to animals, who have no powers of abstraction. In many ways man is defined by this power, which is largely rooted in language, and prior to that, in my opinion, the hand. Yes, the hand, because it is nature's first all-purpose tool. Because the hand can do this and the hand can do that, we grasp the underlying principle of grasping.

Remember a couple of posts ago, our discussion of how applied cynicism is the cure for a corrosive cynicism gone wild? Wouldn't you know it, the very next day Maritain made exactly the same point vis-a-vis the Socratic method, and here I was thinking I was being original again.

Note that both the cause and effect of cynicism is the absence of truth. I suppose postmodernists must pride themselves on being the first humans to be courageous enough to embrace the truth that there is no truth, but that is an ahistorical fiction.

Rather, this kind of relativism had already taken philosophy to a dead end by the time Socrates arrived on the scene.

I'm starting to run out of time, so I'll just let Maritain take over the cosmic bus from here. Bear in mind that he's talking about conditions 2400 years ago, not today:

"[T]heir concepts were embroiled in confused strife, an interminable battle of opposing probabilities. The immediate and obvious result of these attempts at philosophizing seemed the bankruptcy of speculative thought."

"It is not, therefore, surprising that this period of elaboration produced a crisis in the history of thought, at which an intellectual disease imperiled the very existence of philosophic speculation. This intellectual disease was sophistry, that is to say, the corruption of philosophy.

"Sophistry is not a system of ideas, but a vicious attitude of the mind.... For the aim and rule of their knowledge was no longer that which is, that is to say, the object of knowledge, but the interest of the knowing subject....

"[T]he most characteristic feature of all alike was that they sought the advantages conferred by knowledge without seeking truth.

"They sought the advantages conferred by knowledge so far as knowledge brings its possessor power, pre-eminence, or intellectual pleasure. With this in view, they put themselves forward as rationalists and walking encyclopedias; to every question they had an answer, deceptively convincing....

"They did not seek truth.... For with men and children alike destruction is the easiest method of displaying their strength.... Every law imposed upon man they declared to be an arbitrary convention...."

Well, that's the history. It reappeared in the 1960s, this time as farce. Time will tell if we ever reenter the stream of progress.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Christian Cure For Religion

No time for a post made of all-new materials, but almost enough to properly edit this precogitated one from exactly five years ago, which is likely before you were born again anyway. Although it was essentially dug up at random, wouldn't you know, it addresses concerns that have lately been bubbling up or trickling down into my local CIA branch (the Cosmic Intelligence Agency).

For example, near the end of yesterday's post I mentioned that "If one takes the long view of man, I believe one will see something like the following: a kind of original immersion in mythological subjectivism, followed by a gradual awakening (at least in the Christian West) to an objective apprehension of the exterior world (which sees the first stage as hopelessly childish), followed by a return to, and recovery of, our original position, only now able to assimilate "the world" (in the scientific sense) into its grand meta-mythos. In a way, it's like thesis-antithesis-synthesis, in this case, of cosmos, man, and God."

I bumped into similar concerns in Jacques Maritain's Introduction to Philosophy, which attempts to take the Story of Wisdom as far back into the recesses of history as the evidence will allow.

What is somewhat new to me is the attempt to sketch a kind of linear development between what amounted to mere animals to the full flowering of philosophy represented by Plato and Aristotle. Prior to that, there were innumerable false paths and nul de slacks that left man enslaved to his lower nature. Clearly, something had to happen -- something extra-genetic -- in order for man to awaken to his full potential. As for why an animal supposedly fashioned by the random accidents of natural selection has this infinite potential -- well, don't ask. I mean, don't ask the tenured.

In any event, this unexpected discovery of the true path "must be regarded as extraordinary when we consider the multitude of wrong roads taken by so many philosophers and philosophic schools" (ibid.).

For Maritain, philosophy is none other than wisdom, "the wisdom of man qua man." Interestingly, he suggests that the full flowering of Greek philosophy c. 600 BC was not just a development but a recovery, something that Schuon and other perennialists maintain. For example, as Joseph Campbell well knew, the truths of various primitive myths, no matter how degraded or corrupted, often betray a kind of metaphysical blueprint. This common deep structure, according to Maritain, suggests a "primitive tradition, common to the different branches of the human race and going back to the origin of mankind." (BTW, that book I linked to yesterday was Campbell's magnum opus in his lifetime study of these primordial myths.)

To the extent that this collective wisdom existed, it "inevitably deteriorated," as "little by little the rust of oblivion gathered upon it, error defiled it, and it fell prey to the corruptions of polytheism and the more degraded forms of religion," e.g., sacrifice, magic, idolatry, global warming, etc.

I'd better stop now, because I'm running out of time to edit the old post. But let's read it in light of what has been suggested above:

In the Coonifesto I wrote of the "big bang" of consciousness that occurred around 45,000 years ago, when genetic Homo sapiens sapiens crossed the vertical threshold into actual humanness, an event that is most vividly memorialized in the beautiful art that suddenly appears in the more trendy caves of the Upper Paleolithic.

However, it is a bit of an understatement to say that human cerebration wasn't necessarily a cause for celebration, since we continued roving about in what anthropologists call "bands" of hunter-gatherers, but what we now call "urban wilderness gangs," or "the NBA." Each of these gangs numbered about 50 homie sapiens, and each gang was at war with all of the others. Paranoia ran deep, because any encounter with another roster of creeps would usually result in violence, death, serious injury, rape, or theft of your bling.

Therefore, according to Nicholas Wade -- and here is something I hadn't considered before -- the evolution from foraging to settling down, or what is called "sedentism" (i.e., "wifing your baby-mama"), represented a revolution nearly as radical as the creative explosion itself. In fact, Wade says exactly this:

"Archaeologists have little hesitation in describing the transition to sedentism as a revolution, comparable to the one that defines the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic 50,000 years ago when behaviorally modern humans emerged from their anatomically modern forebears."

The human ingression into the interior of the cosmos -- the vertical -- truly occurs at what might be conceptualized as a "right angle" to history as such. The first dramatic evidence of this right angle occurs roughly 45,000 years ago, but it turns out that the revolution of sedentism was hardly less dramatic, in that it went against the grain of most everything that had passed for humanness up to that time. The biggest hurdle was that humans had to learn to somehow get along in larger groups without killing each other. In order to do this, they had to develop a more abstract way than kinship to forge a unity. In a way, they had to develop a deeper understanding of abstraction itself.

Now, perhaps you may have noticed that one of the points of my book and blog is to widen, so to speak, the "arc of salvation" so as to encompass the entire history of the cosmos, beginning before the big bang and venturing into future (or spatially vertical) realms beyond ego. But if one considers Genesis esoterically, it does this as well.

One of the supernaturally odd things about scripture is that it is always one step ahead, somehow awaiting us when we arrive there. As such, it speaks -- with great wisdom, I might add -- of both of these revolutions that preceded the formal arc of salvation that begins with the covenant with the ancient Israelites. Somehow collective or archetypal memory of these primordial events -- events which occurred before the dawn of writing -- is encoded in scripture.

Someone yesterday complained again about my tendency to get sidetracked when I promise to write about a certain topic, but Coons, this is very easy to do when you are trying to write about the entire cosmos. In doing so, you have to develop a certain wide angle frame of mind that doesn't lend itself to dwelling in particulars for any length of time, at risk of losing the vision of the whole.

Here is a perfect example of a cosmic artery that I could venture down and which could justify an entire book, but I don't want to get too sidetracked here. Suffice it to say that the fine book The Beginning of Wisdom goes into great detail about what the Torah has to say about human behavior before the covenant, and it is does not flatter mankind. It is so much more deep and wise than the typical PC romantic view of human nature that it is somewhat breathtaking.

Trad Coon Joseph forwarded me something by Frederick Turner (I don't know the source), who writes that "The most ancient of the religions of history, Judaism, might be the deepest taproot of human religion, our strongest and clearest connection with the whole creative history of the universe. Judaism's collective mythic memory goes back even before the Black Sea inundation, over seven thousand years ago, with hints in the Cain and Abel story of the dawn of the Neolithic revolution, when the farmer Cains replaced the hunter-gatherer Abels [i.e., the revolution of sedentism and the beginning of human sacrifice]; there is even a kind of reflected whisper, in the story of Eden, of the time when humans first recognized their own uniqueness as animals and imagined their own personal death [the big bang of consciousness 45,000 years ago]."

In fact, scripture contains many references to mans' default religion, human sacrifice, as the Torah is even honest enough (for how could it not be?) to document the Jews' own backsliding in this area (spiritually untutored man's "default God" is Moloch). To this day, I would guess that the majority of useless academics will argue that human beings were not cannibalistic despite the mountains of evidence that they were. Again, this just emphasizes how much more unblinking wisdom there is in Genesis than in gliberal academia. Genesis is anything but politically correct, which is perhaps one more reason that leftists despise it so. Naturally, scripture explains them much more adequately than they could ever explain it. In fact, it is perfectly accurate to say that Genesis "saw leftists coming" in a number of delightfully ironic stories.

There are many good books on mankind's practice of human sacrifice, but perhaps the best one is Violence Unveiled by Gil Bailie, because he places it in the context of the overall arc of salvation. I cannot possibly do justice to his full argument here, but in his view, mankind at large was actually in desperate need of a cure for religion, and Christianity turned out to be this cure. "Ironically," Jesus was a victim -- and as a result, a permanent reminder -- of one of the things he came to cure, the ritual scapegoating of victims in order to forge social solidarity and drain off the violent impulses. For nothing creates social cohesion and temporarily eases the war of each against all so much as when everyone's aggression is hypnotically focused on a sacrificial victim, in a process that represents "unanimity minus one."

Once you understand the sacrificial mechanism, you only see it everywhere. It is a sort of master key that explains the inexplicable, especially in regions outside Judeo-Christendom untouched by the arc of salvation. To cite one obvious example, what do you think it is that maintains any semblance of solidarity in the entire Muslim world (or the U.N., come to think of it) -- including, sad to say, the majority of Muslims blessed to be living in the Judeo-Christian world? What unifies this disparate group that would otherwise mindlessly be killing each other, as they are doing in Iraq?

Obviously, it is the ritual scapegoating of Jews. I have no opinion as to whether there may actually be some obscure light of vertical revelation contained somewhere in Islam -- the existence of certain Sufi sects argues that there might be, but they represent far, far less than 1% of all Muslims, and nowhere are they considered remotely normative. No, sorry to say that what unifies the Islamic world -- including wretched Muslim spokesholes such as CAIR -- is human sacrifice. But this irrational obsession with hatred of scapegoats is not an "aberration" if we consider the entire arc of salvation, including the period of time before the old covenant, i.e., Phase I.

As I mentioned yesterday, not only did the ancient Jews begin to reflect superior ideals that far surpassed their contemporaries, but these ideals have still failed to permeate into many modern groups -- e.g., in Africa, China, and Islam. Not only that, but the modern West has produced its own permanent counter-revolution in the form of the international left, which, since it rejects the cure for religion, is reverting back to primordial religion -- undisguised born-again paganism in the form of body mutilation, magic (almost all new agers and integralists are leftists), infrahuman entertainment, the cult of celebrity, blood worship (multiculturalism), pantheistic environmentalism, sexual license unbound from any sacred context, etc.

To be continued....