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...