Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Top Ten Cosmo-American Musical Artists

I just recently picked up a cheap used copy of the spectacular Bob Dylan mono recordings box, and it got me to thinking. I suppose this is just an invitation for an argument clinic, but I was wondering to myself, Who would constitute the top ten Cosmo-American musical artists?

By the way, one of the reasons these mono recordings are so superior, is that the stereo versions of some of the early acoustic albums have the vocal coming out of the center, and the guitar and harmonica coming out of either speaker. It's amazing how much more powerful they are coming right at you; or how powerful one man with an acoustic guitar can be. Even Mrs. G. could tell the difference, and women don't have the audiophile gene/illness.

Back then, in the 1960s, stereo was still mostly a gimmick, so you had this very unnatural presentation, as if it is possible to play the guitar ten feet away from where you're playing harmonica. You could only do that if you were eighteen feet tall and laying down. But then, where's the voice coming from? The diaphragm, I guess.

Back to our list. Should I even bother to define Cosmo-American? Maybe after the list. But in order to make the list, your music must be quintessentially American, which implies provinciality, and yet, cosmic in scope.

For example, Bach is obviously cosmic in scope, but not American. Conversely, rap is quintessentially American, but not cosmic.

It seems to me that there are certain artists that must appear on anyone's list, even if one isn't a big fan of that particular artist. Indeed, although I have some personal favorites, I just don't see how they could elbow their way in. Here are some of the artists that come to mind immediately and would have to appear on any list:

1. Louis Armstrong

2. Frank Sinatra

3. Ray Charles

4. Bob Dylan

5. Elvis Presley

Just for sheer influence, those names have to be there, for each, in a way, is the originator, or at least popularizer, of a whole genre. After them there may be a little wiggle room, some allowance for taste, but not much. Personally I would add

6. Miles Davis

7. Aretha Franklin

8. Muddy Waters

9. James Brown

Who's number ten? Think of the luminaries we might have to leave out: Jerry Lee Lewis, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Brian Wilson/Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Brubeck/Desmond Quartet, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Sun Ra.... I imagine a lot of country folk would say Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Patsy Cline, or the Carter Family...

I have an idiosyncratic and changing list of personal favorite Cosmo-Amercan musicians. I recognize that these don't deserve to be in the top ten, but they are nevertheless quintessentially American and cosmic in scope:

1. Bo Diddley

2. Pharoah Sanders

3. Harry Nilsson

4. Buck Owens

5. Sonny Boy Williamson

6. Art Pepper

7. Dexter Gordon

8. Jackie McLean

9. Howlin' Wolf

10. Byrds

So, who's on your list?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Paradise Lost and Found

At least in the Christianized west, it seems that we are all, religious and secular alike, influenced by the implicit idea that time has a particular shape and direction. This form runs from paradise to time to paradise; or from being to existence to being; or from eternity to time to eternity; or absolute to relative to absolute; or, we could just leave it unsaturated and symbolize it P1 --> T --> P2.

The form is quite simple, but people insert different content into it. With this scheme, one can see, for example, that Marxism (and progressivism more generally) is simply a Christian heresy. Nonetheless, it is clearly Christian. It's certainly not pagan or Buddhist or Hindu or Islamic.

And although the form is simple, any number of variations can occur. Just off the top of my head I can think of a big one that might be symbolized: P1 --> T --> P1. In this absurcular situation, there is a push for "progress" back into the state of infantile omnipotence and entitlement. But enough about the Democratic party.

Other variations include the P1 --> T <-- P2 (see below), P1 <-- T (the solution of most primitive, ahistorical, and pre-Judeo-Christian cultures which idealize the past and regard time as purely dissipative and corrosive), and plain old T, which would be the existential/scientistic variant, somehow devoid of both immanence and transcendence; it ultimately reduces to ø.

You could say that the P1 --> T --> P2 journey reflects psychological development, in particular, the vicissitudes of attachment, separation, and individuation. We begin life merged with the m-other, and only gradually separate from this edenic state in order to find out "who we are," as we encounter the vagaries of the wider world.

This wider world is fraught with peril, just like a dark and stormy night and other cliches. Again, there is being and there is existence, and the world is associated with the latter. As Voegelin writes, there has never been a time that man hasn't been aware of the perils of existence, at least prior to the 1960s, since which time we have seen a concerted effort to deny the problems of existence, partly because we have been so successful in mitigating them.

To back up a bit, the list of evils in this world "has been familiar since antiquity," and includes "poverty, sickness, death, the necessity for work, and sexual problems," to which we might add war and governance, i.e., the tyranny of the state. These are not things we would have chosen if given our druthers, but there they are and there they shall remain.

Except for the political gnostic. It hardly takes a genius to imagine a world without these things, but it is a characteristic of the gnostic to "draw up a comparatively lucid picture of the desirable condition" while being "concerned only vaguely with the means of bringing it about." This desirable condition has never existed, and never will exist, existence being what it is.

Well, it has existed, but only back in P1. One of the reasons we have children and love having children is that they remind us of P1, and allow us to relive it, so to speak. Indeed, our primary job as parents -- certainly prior to the age of seven or so -- is to protect P1 from impingement from the world, or in other words, to protect our child's innocence of same (in-nocens implying the pre-lapsarian state of being without knowledge of good and evil).

For Voegelin, man always lives in this ambiguous area between paradises, so to speak. Note that we can deny P2, but this will by no means eliminate it. If man were truly to eradicate all notions of P2, he would sink beneath himself and revert to animalism. Others pretend to deny it while trying to force it, which is another characteristic of the gnostic: there's no such thing as paradise, and we're gonna create it right here on earth!

Man always lives in the light -- or shadow -- of this "third realm," which "is in fact a ruling symbol in the self-understanding of modern society." Nor should we any longer be surprised at the regular appearance of political pests who attempt to bring P2 "into existence by revolutionary action." (Think OWS.)

As there is a new world associated with P2, so too is there a new man to go along with it. These are the übermenschenables, the very ones we've been waiting for.

This is a variant of the messiah principle (we are not using this in a Christian context, but more an anthropological one), and the messiah appears in different guises, depending upon the needs of the day. In the past, he was generally associated with war and conquest, but nowadays we tend to think of him as The Man With All the Answers.

For example, Voegelin writes of "a German and Italian literature in which Hitler and Mussolini are at times glorified as the leaders foretold by Dante." In any event, "the process by which the superman is created is closely related to the movement of the spirit," whereby mystics "drew into themselves the substance of God and transformed themselves into the 'godded man,' the divinized man."

This pattern becomes pneumapathological when applied to politics; it might be symbolized P1 --> T <-- P2. Through it, O is "brought back from [the] beyond into the human soul.... the divine substance is reincorporated in man, and man becomes superman."

Again, there are different types of superman, including the progressivist superman, the positivist superman, and the "Dionysian superman of Nietzsche," which is more fun than the first two, at least as long as it lasts.

Voegelin detects a new variety of superman in western history, the secular intellectual "who knows the formula for salvation from the misfortunes of the world and can predict how world history will take its course in the future." The weather hysterics would fall into this category.

Of course, predicting stuff is hard, especially the future. Thus, forget about Obama's old four-year plan. Let's focus on the new one. P2 is just around the corner.

But here's something the political gnostic doesn't know: "in truth the hereafter is far nearer than the future," for the Eternal is "found at the heart of all temporal development," and is precisely that "which gives it life and direction" (de Lubac). This is the only progress that always and truly is.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Peacocks and Propheteers of the Left

We left off yesterday with the assertion that the lofty program of the mystico-political gnostic is pretty much half-baked if not half-assed, and that his actual goal "need not be understood very precisely."

In fact, this gaseous mystagoguery isn't optional for the political gnostic, since both the goal and the means will be seen as dangerous or cuckoo if spelled out in detail. It's not a bug but a feature. ("You have to pass the bill to see what's in it.")

Expressed another way, the political gnostic needs to arouse and enlist emotion without engaging the critical intellect. Or, if intellect is involved, it must be in conformity with deeper emotional prejudices.

This is why I am convinced that political differences have much more to do with culture than with fact and logic. We talk about a "culture war" as part of a wider political conflict, but it's really the other way around: the political war is a subset of the culture war. It explains why, say, Jews and blacks overwhelmingly vote Democrat against their own values and interests.

The Democratic party surely helps some individual blacks through its corrupt system of victim patronage and racial spoils, but it cannot be seriously argued that leftist policies help blacks as an aggregate, as most recently witnessed by the disparate impact of the Obama economy on blacks and other minorities.

And Jews are so successful in any context that they are almost a case of the "peacock's tail," or handicap principle of evolution. The useless extravagance of the male peacock's tail is said to signal a kind of "conspicuous consumption" on the part of the cock, as if he is saying to the cockette: "Hey baby, look at me. I'm so genetically fit that I can squander my precious genetic inheritance on this crazy tail!"

Likewise, Jews -- and any affluent liberal, really, e.g., actors and rock stars -- telegraph various cultural signals via the adoption of extravagant, wasteful, and inefficient liberalism.

To take just one obvious example of how this might work, it is routine for anti-Semites to accuse Jews of greed, or money-grubbing, or selfishness (or Palestinian hatred, for that martyr). What better way to deflect this oogedy-bigotry than to adhere to a philosophy that pisses away trillions of dollars in the name of altruism? (To paraphrase someone, "my goal in life is to be wealthy enough to vote Democrat.")

I just recently read a book called Four Cultures of the West that adds some useful insights, one of which is that the cultural container is just as important as the content -- almost a variant of "the medium is the message." It explains how, for example, there can be prophet-based cultures that seem opposite but actually share the same deeper structure.

Looked at in this way, a wild-eyed "scientific prophet" such as Al Gore has more in common with the style (style, not content) of Martin Luther or John the Baptist than with Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein.

This also sheds light on a previous episode of cultural conflict, the European religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. In reality, religion was just a pretext to unleash violence and barbarism that had more to do with cultural differences than with religious doctrine. As O'Malley explains, different cultures were "doing battle with one another under the cover of religious polemics."

That line struck me, because I think it applies equally to the present, in which sub-cultures are battling one another under the cover of political polemics. This is much easier for a conservative to appreciate than it is for a liberal, since liberals are always blinded by the conceit that their ideas and policies are completely rational, "reality-based," and universal.

It is difficult for a liberal to recognize that he's actually part of a tribe (it was much more obvious in the 1960s), and that his intellect is influenced by deeper springs of kinship and xenophobia. This is why, even when they are trying to be charitable, they always regard conservatives as some sort of alien species.

Consider this typical example dissected by Taranto yesterday (second story down), a "lurid fantasy" penned by some liberal hysteric who imagines that the people who disagree with him constitute a tiny and irrelevant minority fit only to inhabit reservations. In other words, half the country should confine itself to self-enclosed ghettos. What's especially ironic is that we already have self-enclosed ghettos crawling with political eccentrics and batty moonorities. But maybe he never went to college.

Indeed, it is an enduring theme on the left that the mere fact of conservatism requires some sort of pseudo-scientific explanation, since the ideas and principles it promulgates needn't be taken seriously. Thus, the two cultures are often operating on different levels. Conservatives argue fact and logic, but liberals ignore this in favor of a hermeneutical/deconstructive approach that "interprets" what conservatives are "really saying."

For example, when we say that we cherish the liberal principle of racial color-blindness, they interpret this as a cover for racial bigotry. Or, when we suggest that it is a dangerously radical thing to redefine the essential unit of civilization, they interpret this as "homophobia." When we say that we don't believe women are an oppressed minority, they interpret this as misogyny. Fighting for our natural rights under the first amendment is just the nefarious business of a shadowy right wing cabal.

Here again, the left wages a culture war without even knowing it. They do not engage on the plane of ideas, but only pretend to do so. There is no need to actually do the math to determine if a punitive tax on the successful will do anything to mitigate our fiscal calamity. Rather, this is just another liberal dog-whistle that only the envious can hear.

The four cultures described by O'Malley are the prophetic, the academic/professional, the humanistic, and the artistic. These days the academic/professional mostly goes under the name of science, while the humanistic embodies literature. Ironically, there is a huge culture war between these two that goes mostly unacknowledged, at least on the left.

For example, there is no way to reconcile the goofy relativism and deconstruction of the humanities departments with the type of pompously unambiguous truths churned out by popular science. This leads to all sorts of interesting conflicts, for example, the pseudo-scientific idea that sexual orientation is genetically fixed, vs. the subhumanistic idea that gender is just a cultural construct that is imposed upon us. (Someone -- can't remember who at the moment -- reminded us of the Monty Python skit in which the new father asks the doctor if it's a boy or girl, and he curtly responds, "It's a bit early to begin imposing gender roles, don't you think?")

One could also the cite the Darwinian idea that homosexuality is the one thing that should never occur in a system that revolves around reproductive success, vs. the romantic idea that there can never be anything unnatural about homosexuality.

Obama is a classic case (at least in 2008) of the prophetic genre, even though he and his acolyteweights like to think that they are all about Reality.

Of the prophetic idiom, O'Malley writes that "fundamentalists both religious and secular are comfortable here," for "it is the culture, above all, of the reformer decrying injustice and corruption in high places."

It is the culture that denounces the existing order, while holding out vague but grandiose "promises of better times to come," i.e., weaponized hopenchange. It is "the culture of great expectations, expectations that surpass anything that seems humanly possible." And it is usually gnostic, since it is "revealed to the few, hidden from the many." Which brings us full circle and ends this post.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Wizard of Washington and His Cowardly Lyin'

Just as the American economy is so robust that it takes a genius to screw it up, the concept (never mind reality) of God is so deep and enduring that it generally takes a dyed-in-the-woolyheaded gnostic to oust him from the cosmos.

"By gnostic movements," Voegelin is referring to such ersatz religions as "progressivism, positivism, Marxism," not to mention "communism, fascism, and national socialism." He tosses in psychoanalysis, which is only half-true (but more true when this was written in 1960), and would require some lengthy qualifications, so we won't go there. At least for long.

Suffice it to say that there was a time that psychoanalysis took on the trappings of a hierarchical, gnostic cult that had all the answers to life's conflicts and enigmas, with analogous rituals such as sacrifice (of money), descent into the netherworld, forgiveness, rebirth, and initiation. It can become a kind of closed world, which is precisely when it becomes pneumapathological (as is true of any open system).

For me, the psychoanalyst W.R. Bion provided the means of escape from psychoanalysis without invalidating it. It's too bad something analogous can't happen with Darwinists and other reductionoids, since it is simply a statement of fact that no ideology can enclose the soul, unless the soul wants to be enclosed, which is to say, swaddled in twaddle, muffled in piffle, and cocooned in buffoonery. When one realizes this (?!), it is either liberating or terrifying, depending on one's politics.

Bion: "I shall use the sign O to denote that which is the ultimate reality represented by terms such as ultimate reality, absolute truth, the godhead, the infinite, the thing-in-itself. O does not fall in the domain of knowledge or learning save incidentally; it can 'become,' but it cannot be 'known.' It is darkness and formlessness but it enters the domain K when it has evolved to a point where it can be known, through knowledge gained by experience."

Similarly, "the reader must disregard what I say [that means you!] until the O of the experience of reading has evolved to a point where the actual events of reading issue in his interpretation of the experiences."

See how that works? I am never just writing, always provoking (especially myself). Or at least that is the I-deal I've made with mysoph. I haven't succeeded if I haven't "irritated" something in you, although whether the irritation is interpreted as pleasurable or painful is on you.

O "stands for the absolute truth in and of any object; it is assumed that this cannot be known by any human being; it can be known about, its presence can be recognized and felt, but it cannot be known. It is possible to be at one with it. That it exists is an essential postulate of science but it cannot be scientifically discovered.... The religious mystics have probably approximated most closely to expression of experience of it. Its existence is as essential to science as it is to religion" (ibid).

Those two extended quotes come close to expressing our overall credo, or telegraphing our open stance toward this queer cosmos.

You can see how Bion would be considered "controversial" among fellow analysts, especially the old-school ones of the time who were well up in the hierarchy of the Church of Psychoanalysis. The peevish poobahs whose pride and identity revolve around their superior intellect don't generally like to be informed that they not only know nothing, but that what they know is a kind of cowardly lie in the face of the uncontainability of O. Silence!

Back to Voegelin. He writes that none of the above-noted gnostic gruesades "began as a mass movement." Rather, they always begin with some intellectual clown, or posse of clowns, who tries to enclose O and thereby drink the ocean. If their arguments were compelling, then no one would have to be forced to accept them, which shows the lack of intellect at the heart of this destructive intellectualism.

You will have noticed that Obama always speaks as if everything he says, believes, and prescribes is self-evident (which it no doubt is to the provincial tenured and indoctrinated media). But again, if it were true, then no one would have to be forced to accept it. If he actually had faith in truth, then he would simply express it and wait for others to nod in agreement, as they did back in college.

But to employ legislative and judicial treachery to force transformative political and cultural changes down our unwilling gullets, implies a lack of faith in both truth and in Americans. He is sowing seeds of dissent and conflict that will long outlive him, just as occurred with the judicial perversion of Roe v. Wade (for just as there is pneumapathology, there is what might be called "lexopathology," to almost coin a term).

One conspicuous irony -- and this is vividly displayed in the rantings of Obama's spiritual mentor -- is that these types of political religions are ultimately "modifications of the Christian idea of perfection" (Voegelin). For the Christian, life is a pilgrimage shaped by its telos-attractor beam, which is not attainable in this world, even though it is the source and vector of meaning in this world.

But gnostic man simply transposes this journey to the immanent plane, which thereby becomes both his axis in space and his destiny -- or fate -- in time. Indeed, this is precisely what it means to be a "progressive." It is what Obama is saying when he subtly proclaims that "white peoples' greed runs a world in need." Doesn't get simpler than that, nor is the solution more self-evident once the premise is accepted.

They call it "black liberation theology," and it is definitely liberating, after a fascion. But to be liberated from O is like being liberated from gravity -- exciting at first, until the oxygen -- and money -- runs out.

When the teleological component is immanentized, the chief emphasis of the gnostic-political idea lies on the forward movement, on the movement toward a goal of perfection in this world. The goal itself need not be understood very precisely; it may consist of no more than the idealization of this or that aspect of the situation, considered valuable by the thinker in question (Voegelin).

You don't say. Breaking news from 2008!

I'm a good wizard, just a very bad president.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Here Comes the New Man, Same as the Old Man

So: if one wants to make sure that God's not only merely dead, but really most sincerely dead, one must somehow go after and eradicate the psycho-pneumatic matrix out of which God emerges. One must sow the divine ground with salt, so to speak (which apparently doesn't work, btw), so nothing grows and nothing grows (except the state) .

For Marx and his contemporary heirheads, God can be nothing more than a human projection. Therefore, our task is to withdraw the projection -- to break off negOtiations and summon our I-AMbassador from the divine embassy -- and thereby re-become that which we have dribbled away via projection. In short, the best way to kill a god is to become one.

Ironically, both religion and anti-religion posit a new kind of man, a novel cosmic development. For example, in Ephesians, Paul advises us to take off the old man and put on the new.

Indeed, remaining in the old man's shoes is identified with mental futility, while shedding the old coot is both cause and effect of vertical renewal.

Just so, the (hello,) NewMan of the left isn't just devoid of religious delusions, but "has taken God back into his being. The 'non-man,' who has illusions, becomes fully human by absorbing the 'superman'" (who is like totally gay, btw).

Hence the breathtaking arrogance of the left, which they truly cannot help. After all, when one is the center of the universe, it's a little difficult to hide one's light under a bushel.

An essay by the brolific Doctor Zero, The [lower case r] republican virtue of humility, touches on this theme. You might say that the new man of the left barters away his abstract freedom in exchange for something a little more concrete -- either power, cash, or other valuable prizes.

Doing so is "only natural," whereas placing ultimate value in something as nebulous as "negative liberty" is only supernatural. Thus, under our Constitution you cannot choose to be a slave, but you can get around this by choosing to have masters.

Back to Voegelin. He writes (quoting Bottomore) that "The struggle against religion is therefore a struggle against that world of which religion is the spiritual aroma."

This is why leftist culture is every bit as iconoclastic as the Taliban thugs (but I repeat myself) who blew up those magnificent Buddhist statutes. The left does the same thing, but since we live in a verbal culture, they naturally carry it out with linguistic TNT, but the end result is just as barbarous.

Again, fascism involves the violent rejection of transcendence; although I suppose we should qualify that, since Islamofascism -- or most any other kind of "religious fascism" -- involves a violent rejection of immanence.

In any event, for the liberal fascist, "once the world beyond truth has disappeared," it is necessary "to establish the truth of this world" (Bottomore, in Voegelin). Never mind that truth is always transcendent. That's none of your damn business. Just grab your hoodie and get with the pogrom, okay?

For once the center of power has shifted from God to man, from transcendent to immanent, "it seeks not to refute but to annihilate" (ibid.).

And this is where the real action -- or acting out, rather -- begins, for "Here speaks the will to murder of the gnostic magician.... critique is no longer rational debate. Sentence has been passed; the execution follows" (ibid.).

The new man of the left, because he has taken what is beyond back into himself, "experiences himself as existing outside of institutional bonds and obligations." No shit. That's just how we roll in Chicago. What, you got a problem with multiculturalism?

As in the French Revolution, things can get out of hand pretty quickly, as the will to murder lashes out in all directions Willy-Hilly, and the fickle finger of fatwa falls on whom it will: George Zimmerman. Koch Brothers. Bain Capital. Stay-at-home moms. The Catholic Church. Fox News. Talk Radio. Millionaires and billionaires. Clarence Thomas. There's no logic to it except for the underlying will to murder.

Which no one is permitted to name or acknowledge, hence the institutional amnesia of the media-academic complex, which restricts consciousness to the momentary in time and the immanent in space.

In other worlds (Voegelin's), "the being of the world and ego is restricted to the knowledge of the immediate or existent." It is not just "radically anti-philosophical" but "a work of magic."

On the grave of the murdered God the golem is celebrating a ghastly ritual.... The goal has been attained.... This is the closing act of the order of being when gnostic magicians lay hands on it. --Voegelin

Monday, May 21, 2012

Deicide: This Time No Screw-Ups!

In his parable of the madman, Nietzsche implies that one must be both a little crazy and ahead of one's time to recognize that God is dead -- like a wild-eyed prophet, really, bearing the stark news that men are not yet prepared to accept:

"The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. 'Whither is God?' he cried; 'I will tell you. We have killed him -- you and I. All of us are his murderers.

"But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns?

"'Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

"'How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us -- for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.'"

Again, Nietzsche is refreshingly candid, not to mention poetic, about the implications of deicide. I'll take a deicidal literary genius any day over an atheistic mediocrity, because at least the former points up in spite of himself.

The problem with our contemporary atheists is that they are shaped by an altogether different culture than was Nietzsche, essentially the cramped world of scientism instead of the wider world of art, letters, and literature. You might say that the styleless style of atheism that flows from vulgar scientism is just too facile to be true. With a little education, anyone can believe it, which our trolls prove.

Being a consistent atheist poses as much -- if not more -- of a challenge than being a consistent theist. After all, a theist has the aid of heaven, whereas the atheist must accomplish his promethean -- not to say sisyphean -- task on his own. (Interesting that no matter where man goes, myth has been there first, from stealing light to rolling stones. Myth always comprehends man more than man comprehends myth, unlike, say, science, where this relation is reversed.)

In a way, the mythic situation sketched out by Nietzsche parallels the situation of Adam, or, if one prefers, the first man who awakened to his manhood and thereby became one. These questions confront any man qua man, e.g., Where are we moving? Is there any actual direction, or is this a meaningless question? Is there any up or down, or any vertical at all? Are we not floating, as through an infinite nothing? And how shall we comfort ourselves? What means of atonement, what sacred rituals shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of man too great for a mere man, an unimpressive biped who learned to yap just yesterday and hasn't shut up since? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

If it is true that myth shapes man -- that there exist preconceptual categories through which thought courses -- then each man is heir to the ontological inclinations of all men, irrespective of whether one calls it theism or atheism. Thus, we have "prophets of atheism" such as the above madman, who has more in common with the prophet of God than with the contemporary atheistic scribbler.

Now, man in his natural state is spontaneously oriented to God. This is something no one could deny, because the anthropological evidence proves that there is no culture without the conception of an absolute that accounts for the genesis of the cosmos, the purpose of existence, and the means of salvation.

That being the case, in order for the madman prophet of atheism to succeed, he must not only murder God, but destroy the very conditions that make God necessary. Because if he doesn't eliminate those conditions, then they will continue to evoke God.

Consider a physiological analogy. You can ban sweets, but so long as human beings have a sweet tooth, they will keep discovering and being drawn to sweets.

Continuing with the analogy, the dietary madman can't just ban sweets, but flood the world with anti-sweets propaganda, so that a kind of unnatural aversion is superimposed over the natural attraction.

Ideology functions in the same way, for example, vis-a-vis the homosexual agenda. In order to transform something everyone knows is unnatural into something natural, the instinct of aversion must be displaced, which is how and why "homophobia" was invented. I suppose there are a handful of true homophobes with psychological issues of their own -- people with an irrational animus toward homosexuals -- but the real purpose of homophobia is to shame and pathologize normalcy.

So in order to truly eradicate God, we must amputate, excise, or in some way annihilate that part of man that is spontaneously oriented toward his creator and source. We have seen how this works in America over the past seventy-five years or so, whereby the legal system now functions in this way.

To take just one absurd example that comes to mind, a few years ago the County of Los Angeles was forced by the court to remove a tiny cross from its official seal, which required millions of dollars to track down every last seal on every car, every office door, every building, every piece of stationery. The cross had always been there, as it is a banal historical fact that the territory was settled by Spanish missionaries, but as always, history must bow before ideology. Plus, you know, the government has so much money anyway, we don't know what to do with it.

In Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, Voegelin explains how it all goes down. It is the task of the ideological historian,

"... once the world beyond truth has disappeared, to establish the truth of this world. Thus, the critique of heaven is transformed into the critique of earth; the critique of religion, into the critique of law; the critique of theology, into the critique of politics" (Bottomore, italics in original).

Note that this is no longer a disinterested quest for truth as we have come to understand it, but a kind of mental activism; it is no longer theory, but practice:

"Its subject is its enemy, which it seeks not to refute, but to annihilate.... It no longer acts as an end in itself, but only as a means. Its essential emotion is indignation; its essential task is denunciation" (ibid).

Boy, is that true. In another book I was reading this weekend, I came across this little wise crack, that "Indignation usually erupts into exaggeration." I'm thinking of George Zimmerman, or the Duke Lacrosse team, or that lazy bitch Ann Romney, or Obama's whole reelection campaign, really. State and class enemies everywhere!

To be continued...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blasting into Upper Space On Genesis 1

No time for an all new post, so here's one from several years back, when Obama was still Kenyan and Elizabeth Warren was still Cherokee:

While metaphysics is exact, it generally must be expressed in inexact terms in order to convey the depths of its exactitude.

As Sells explains, we begin with the "unresolvable dilemma of transcendence." Although it is beyond names, in order to unname it, we must give it a name. As such, we must always be mindful of the fact that this name cannot function as a "container" in the way normal words do.

Rather, the transcendent name -- or the name of the transcendent -- is more like a placemarker; it designates a "hole" that we must fill through grace-infused experience, lest we saturate it with a lot of preconceived ideas.

To put to put it another way, the word must simultaneously convey presence while at the same time evoking its own absence; this corresponds to the realm of mystery, which is the quintessence of present absence and absent presence, or like the "dark radiation" of faith.

It is not just God that must be discussed in this manner. The most intense human realities shade off into the ineffable and uncontainable, so that we risk trivializing them if we try to reduce them to some mechanical formula (which, for example, all bad drama and poetry do). Sex, death, love, and winning the Stanley Cup are all uncontainable, even though we obviously have words and even trophies for them.

But for those of you who have, for example, lost a loved one, you no doubt remember how you entered an alternate reality in the presence of Death, a reality that was entirely separate from the common use of the word. Among other things, the nature of time changes, and you are in the realm of the sacred. It's difficult to appreciate until you're in it.

Or perhaps you recall the intensity of the first time you fell in love, of being plunged into a reality that is beyond familiar words and concepts. It is then that you realize, "Oh. This is where all those stupid songs come from."

Likewise, modern people who imagine they are most sophisticated about matters of sexuality are usually the most naive. Human sexuality is like a signifier that cannot be signified or contained, but it can be "channelled" upward and inward, which is one of the esoteric purposes of marriage.

As a perceptive reader pointed out to a sightless troll the other day, one of the purposes of this kind of language is to to set up a seemingly paradoxical or binary opposition that vaults the mind upward toward a nonlocal "third."

For example, you will see a number of these in the Cosmogenesis and Cosmobliteration sections of the Coonifesto. Such orthoparadoxical language is a common -- but inadequate -- adequation to the Real, which is always just beyond the horizon of articulation, and well beyond the possibility of book sales.

The purpose of such spontaneous descryptics is to render our normal understanding of speech inoperative, so as to lure the mind in, up, and out. It is a "creative destruction" of language, very different from the mostly "destructive destruction" of deconstruction.

The distinction we are making is hardly postmodern. Rather, it is transmodern (at a light angle to time and history), and has always been understood by the most sophisticated theologians, e.g., Philo, Plotinus, Dionysius, Origen, Shankara, John Scotus Eriugena, and certainly Eckhart, who may have been the greatest genius in his startlingly fresh and novel uses of language to properly deutsch the undeutschable and eff the ineffingbelievable.

Recall that yesterday we spoke of the fundamental opposition -- or complementarity -- within scripture between its inner and outer meanings, or the spirit and letter; another balance it must maintain is between transcendence and immanence, for it is always both.

Again, scripture must simultaneously convey and yet only "suggest" in a provocative manner (here again, the sayings of Jesus are exquisitely constructed in this regard; not surprisingly, the balance he achieves is "perfect").

In fact, this is one of the ways to instantly recognize true from false revelation. For example, if you have ever read one of those incredibly dopey Scientology brochures, they contain the most leaden and almost retarded prose you could imagine. In fact, it is retarded, for just as one can be intellectually or morally retarded, one can be spiritually retarded.

You also see the opposite, that is, the use of pseudo-forms of religious speech toward wholly unholy absecular ends. Someone who is familiar with these techniques recognizes them in an instant in the vacuous rhetoric of Obama. It is clearly religious speech, but in the absence of the religious object (since it is essentially aimed at religious retards, and therefore, proglodytes who most hunger after transcendence without realizing or being able to acknowledge it).

As dangerous as an L. Ron Hubbard is, a B. Hussein Obama is infinitely more so, being that he is so much more skillful than Hubbard at aping religious rhetoric, including its "rhythms." Hubbard essentially engages in religious pornography, leaving nothing to the (higher) imagination.

Obama, on the other hindleg, specifically misapporoprates the higher imagination (after all, he learned this technique from a pneumapathic master, Rev. Wright). There is plenty of "space" in his rhetoric for the irreligiously religious hysteric to "fill in the blanks," which is a formula for infinite mischief. It is essentially a pseudo-verticalisthenic exercise in bait and switch -- of baiting the religious instinct and then switching the religious object to the almighty state.

In other words, Obama is simply recycling the same old lies of the left, except that he is able to skillfully communicate them as if they represent not just novelty or "change," but transcendence, of all things!

Anyone with spiritual discernment can see that his rhetoric does not point "up" and beyond itself toward the Real, as his hypnotized wackolytes imagine. Rather, it ultimately points down and out, something that becomes increasingly obvious as the campaign wears on. I am as sick of him already as I was of Clinton after eight long minutes.

But we're getting sidetracked. What I really wanted to do is to enter the linguistic wayback machine, which also happens to be in the same loquation as the wayup machine (i.e., Creator and Redeemer are One and the Same).

First, an invocation to announce that we are leaving secular time behind and below, and venturing into the nonlocal origins of All, which can only be discerned in the now, since that's when it was first accompliced for the last time; to quote Eckhart, the beginning of all things "also means the end of all things, since the first beginning is because of the last end."

In The Beginning....

This has all happened before; it will all happen again....

Once Upon a Time....

At the beginning of the beginning, even nothing didn't exist....

One's upin a timeless, without a second to spore....


Somehow, this story, no matter who tells it, always involves water and oceans. Most obviously,

And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

But how about,

From the Light there came forth a holy Word, which took its stand upon the watery substance. (Hermes)

Out of the infinite ocean of existence arose Brahma, the first-born and and foremost among the gods. From him sprang the universe, and he became its protector. (Mundaka Upanishad)

Unfathomable as the sea, wondrously ending only to begin again, informing all creation without being exhausted... (Chuang-tse)

For nor before nor after was the process of God's overflowing over these waters. (Dante)

I could go on, but you get the idea. Now, as Sells mentions with regard to poetry, drama, or most any other form of art, the deeper meaning "risks being trivialized when its meaning is defined and paraphrased discursively" -- like trying to explain the meaning of a joke, which defloats its whole porpoise.

As such, scripture is intended to have a punchline, except that it must be a guffah-ha! experience. There is a fine line between skillful exegesis and simply spoiling the joke of scripture, like a bad straight man who steps on your fine line.

The end.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

We're the Deiciders!

On purely logical and dispassionate grounds, it seems to me that in the absence of God -- however conceptualized -- the existence of thought is a cruel hoax.

Except it can't be cruel, since there is no one responsible for this impractical joke. Rather, it's just an unnecessary, superfluous, and annoying activity that interferes with the real action of existence: food. Sex. Grog. Power. Or pleasure, for short.

It is therefore ironic that the people who most insist that thought has no ultimate significance are the most certain of the ultimate truth of their own thought. For the restavus, we have only faith, not certitude, (o) not (ø).

The world seems so obviously defective, why should it make sense? In other words, perhaps all the disorder in and around us results from the fact that the disorder is built in. We look for truth, for meaning, for order, but in vain, since there is none to be had.

That's certainly one way of looking at it, and we actually respect the person who looks at it this way, so long as he truly lives by it -- Nietzsche, for example.

One of Nietzsche's finer qualities was that he at least had the good sense to merely go insane, instead of trying to impose his insanity on the rest of us, as have so many other existentialists.

If you want to go nuts, hey, go nuts! But what gives you the right to impose your insanity on the collective? What, are you nuts? What if I don't want to be rescued by a bunch of statist nuts?

This gets to the nub of Voegelin's argument in Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. In it he has a chapter called The Murder of God. It's funny that something that doesn't exist needs to be murdered at all, but that's just one more irony lost on the left. Shoot first, ask questions never.

In order to solve a murder, you need what? Motive, means, and opportunity. What could be the motive for this deicide? Hatred? Yes, but of what? Can't be God, can it?

Voegelin writes that the aim of political gnosticism "is to destroy the order of being, which is experienced as defective and unjust, and through man's creative power to replace it with a perfect and just order."

Now, if there is no God, then there is no intrinsic order, not to mention any basis for justice. Therefore, injustice and disorder are precisely what we should expect to see, and we have no right to expect otherwise. There's no crying in Darwinism. Deal with it.

Conversely, for the believer, order is necessary, disorder contingent. In fact, disorder has its own necessity -- "relative necessity," as it were -- because it is not the Order, precisely. Everyone and everything necessarily falls short of its ideal, since we are creature, not Creator.

Therefore, for us, the existence of disorder is a banality, not a crisis per se. Indeed, most of us learn by the age of seven or eight that "life's not fair," and move on. Others become Democrats.

The task of man is indeed to "repair the world" (ticoon O'lam), but this is because there is an ideal, precisely. It is not for us to reinvent the world order, because that's not repair, it's destruction. We are to be jehovial witnesses to this ideal, not witless juvenile idealists.

But for the gnostic, "the givenness of the order of being must be obliterated." The order of being is "essentially under man's control," and "taking control of being requires that the transcendent origin of being be obliterated: it requires the decapitation of being -- the murder of God."

That's a pretty bold statement. Are we seriously charging the left with deicide? Not necessarily. It could be abortion, i.e., killing him in the womb of speculative thought, for the gnostic insists that "man should stop creating gods because this sets absurd limits to his will and action; and he should realize that the gods he has already created have in fact been created by him" (Voegelin).

Beneath the destructiveness there is envy. Envy is built into man, but if unacknowledged and forced underground, it can take on literally cosmic proportions. Thus, one of the motives in deicide is envy of the Creator: "If there were gods, how could I endure not being a god!" Therefore, there are no gods, and I am he!

In the Marxist version, man is a product of nature, which is a process through which man is gradually revealed to himself. Thus, the final apocalypse of man leads to the murder of God, for this bang ain't big enough for the both of us. God and socialist man cannot coexist.

Now, to kill God is to kill man. Except the man survives the operation. But in what form? There is the trembling little man, murder weapon in hand, blood dripping from the blade. Now what?

First, get ahold of yourself! Don't you see what you have done! You have killed god, and only a god can kill a god! Thus "The madman does not go backward, he goes forward," like MSNBC. "[I]f the deed is too great for man, then man must rise up above himself to the greatness of the deed" and become the Olber-man.

But.... "the nature of a thing cannot be changed; whoever tries to 'alter' its nature destroys the thing. Man cannot transform himself into a superman; the attempt to create a superman is an attempt to murder man. Historically, the murder of God is not followed by the superman, but the murder of man: the deicide of the gnostic theoreticians is followed by the homicide of the revolutionary practitioners" (ibid).

In five days we are going to fundamentally transform America!

For we are the ones we've been waiting for, and we are the deiciders!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Triumph of Non-Thought Over Thought

It is difficult to conceptualize the differences between thought and its competitors, because if one hasn't thought about thought (thought² for short), it will look quite similar, if not identical, to non-thought. Non-thought is not no-thought, the latter of which is just stupidity. MSNBC is non-thought. Local TV news is no-thought.

Non-thought is an active perversion of thinking, and often exhibits a great deal of intelligence. It is a type of thinking that is detached from its proper object, -- or end -- which is reality in all its inexhaustible richness and depth.

I first began thinking about thinking, o, about 27 years ago, in the spring of 1985. And now that I'm in this gnostalgic mood, I just pulled a book from the shelf, Second Thoughts, by W.R. Bion (not recommended to the laity). The title is a play on words, because it is Bion thinking about his own thinking, providing "second thoughts" about various papers he had written over the previous fifteen years or so. The book first presents the paper, followed by his second thoughts and re-servations.

I see that one of the papers is called A Theory of Thinking. His first thoughts begin with the idea that his theory covers the same ground as various philosophical theories, with one difference: his theory was intended for use (i.e., clinical work leading to growth), analogous to the difference between, say, abstract theories of meteorology vs. whether you need to take an umbrella to work today (or, leftist economics vs. economics).

For Bion, thinking is "dependent on the successful outcome of two main mental developments." The first of these is "the development of thoughts." That pretty much happens automatically, unless one is in a coma. The second involves the development of "an apparatus to cope with them." Thus, "thinking has to be called into existence to cope with thoughts."

This theory reverses the usual way we think about thinking -- as if thinking produces the thought. But for you thinkers out there, you know that thoughts just come to you, and that you couldn't create one via thinking any more than you could create life in a test tube or Obama could create wealth in any context.

Thus, "thinking is a development forced on the psyche by the pressure of thoughts and not the other way around." Psychopathology may occur at either end, with the creation or management of thoughts; in other words, there may be "a breakdown in the development of thoughts, or a breakdown in the development of the apparatus for 'thinking' or dealing with thoughts, or both."

Now, thoughts are not just of the same order. Rather, they arise on various planes of consciousness which we call "vertical." We can have empirical thoughts, sensory thoughts, spiritual thoughts, emotional thoughts.

Some of our thoughts are quite primitive, and we clearly do not have control over them, as they are essentially "pre-human." Men, for example, beginning at a certain age, are bombarded by sexual thoughts. It's as if a primitive part of the psyche is unleashed, and now the mind has to develop a way to cope with these thoughts. Much of Arab culture revolves around the wrong way to do it.

There are also "empty thoughts," which is to say, categories of thought awaiting "realization." These consist of a kind of space awaiting fulfillment via experience. Jung called them "archetypes," but you could also just call them "human nature."

As Bion describes it, "when the pre-conception is brought into contact with a realization that approximates to it, the mental outcome is a conception." Thus, it is as if there is an implicit or nonlocal thought that only becomes explicit and local through experience -- somewhat analogous to the wave/particle complementarity in physics, where observation pulls the latter from the former.

Some thoughts are "unwanted," which means that emotion has clouded the picture. In other words, what happens if we have a true thought that we nevertheless don't want? The mind has a number of mechanisms to deal with this exigency, just as the body has ways to deal with unwanted invaders.

But just as the body can mistakenly attack itself -- what are called autoimmune disorders -- the mind too can mistakenly attack its own substance. For example, if man is in the image of the Creator, then any form of vulgar anti-theism would represent a psychic autoimmune disorder (with predictable consequences).

There are several mechanisms to avoid thinking unwanted thoughts, ranging from the primitive to the more sophisticated. The most primitive include denial, splitting, and projective identification, which, working in concert, displace the unwanted thought (or thought fragment) into the environment, usually in other minds. This doesn't actually eliminate the thought, but it is preferable to feel persecuted from outside than inside the head.

Some important implications follow this psychic expulsion of thoughts, touching on what was said yesterday about the will to power replacing the search for truth. On some level, the person who manages thought in this pathological way must feel superior to reality: instead of discriminating between true and false, "omniscience substitutes... a dictatorial affirmation that one thing is morally right and the other wrong."

Bion has just described the mechanism of political correctness, which again forbids certain avenues of thought through moral condemnation. And again, I don't want to pretend that this doesn't occur on the "right," because it does, especially with certain fundamentalist types.

Let's flip ahead and find out what sorts of second thoughts Bion had about all this.

Hmm. Not too many, really. Or rather, too many: "the ramifications... are so considerable that I require another book to attempt elucidation."

Along these lines, he warns of how the thinker might seize onto a "sense of security" in order "to offset and neutralize the sense of insecurity following on the discovery that discovery has exposed further vistas of unsolved problems -- 'thoughts' in search of a thinker."

In other words, reality never stops speaking just because we have stopped listening, or because we have some little theory to make the mystery go away and stop bothering us. A theory of thinking is not the same as the unending project of thinking.

Which leads right back to Voegelin's Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, because this is precisely what the gnostic has done: stopped listening to reality. Consider this little gem from Karl Marx's crocktoral dissertation:

"The confession of Prometheus, 'In a word, I hate all the gods,' is its own confession, its own verdict against all gods heavenly and earthly who do not acknowledge human self-consciousness as the supreme deity. There shall be none beside it" (in Voegelin).

Later in the book Voegelin outlines what might be thought of as the cure for such gnostic omnipotence: "Thus, 'actual knowledge' is reserved to God; finite man can only be the 'lover of knowledge,' not himself the one who knows.... If a thinker attempts it, he is not advancing philosophy, but abandoning it to become a gnostic."

In short, for the gnostic, "In the clash between system and reality, reality must give way."

Or, non-thought must triumph over thought.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

There Is No Truth, and Only the Left Possesses It

I wonder how many of those who like to call themselves "progressive" are consciously aware of its mytho-scientistic roots?

Voegelin characterizes Marx as a "speculative gnostic" who grounded his politico-economic framework in an evolutionary vision of nature. In this scheme, all of nature is "in the state of becoming, and in the course of its development it has brought forth man: 'Man is directly a being of nature.'"

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea that nature is developing, except that this can have nothing to do with Darwinian evolution, which describes only change, not progress. More to the point, Marx re-buries man in nature, so that what is actually distinct in man, and belongs to his trans-nature, is annihilated.

Thus, "When 'socialist man' speaks, man has to be silent," which is a rather polite way of putting it. In any event, it is why the left would like for us to shut up, why they impose speech codes, why political correctness abounds, and why they hate God and religion. This is described in the last paragraph of yesterday's post, in reference to those special assouls who know exactly why

"their opinions cannot stand up under critical analysis and who therefore make the prohibition of the examination of their premises part of their dogma. This position of a conscious, deliberate, and painstakingly elaborated obstruction of ratio constitutes the new phenomenon" (Voegelin).

So if you want to talk about progress, this systematic assault on truth is indeed something new under the sun.

But it's not just the children of Marx who have progressed in this deviant manner, for truth is also forbidden by the specter of "positivist man." This humanoid beastling can also be called scientistic man, atheist man, or Darwinist man, for each of these, in his own way, pretends that materialism exhausts the meaning of human existence.

Now, minimal acquaintance with philosophy establishes the truth of a Marx, a Darwin, a Dawkins. Thus, one needs a little more than the minimum to debunk them, which I suppose is why philosophy is not taught in public schools, in favor of multicultural bunk.

Or, to be perfectly accurate, philosophy is taught, except that its assumptions are buried elsewhere, and never spoken of explicitly. This has provoked a backlash of "creationists" in certain quarters, but the real problem is metaphysical, not theological.

Wherever there is leftism, there is the suppression of certain questions and avenues of thought. As we have discussed in the past, just as a neurosis may be thought of as a "private culture," a culture may be thought of as a public neurosis. Now, a neurosis always involves the suppression of an unwanted truth.

Just so, the neurotic culture of the left has many defense mechanisms in place, so that alarms go off as soon as anyone approaches a dangerous truth. Examples are too numerous to chronicle, but just last week we saw what happened to someone who exposed the truth of black studies and its "left-wing victimization claptrap." Off with her head! (More on this undisciplined pseudo-discipline.)

Voegelin describes the deeper structure of this process. It begins with "a thinker who knows that his construct will collapse as soon as the basic philosophical question is asked." The intellectually and spiritually normal person recognizes this, and abandons the construct. Not so the leftist, who merely prohibits the question.

But why? What has happened to the person who is no longer interested in truth, and yet -- without irony -- imposes one version of it: There is No Truth, and Only I Possess It.

Voegelin called it an "intellectual swindle," which is an excellent way of putting it. For to exchange truth for ideology isn't just a bad deal, it's suicidal. Which wouldn't necessarily be so bad if it weren't also homicidal.

But again, why? Man has an innate epistemophilia, so what has happened to this transnatural instinct in the ideologue?

As we have discussed before, man is composed of intellect, of will, and of sentiment. To deny truth is to maim the intellect. But that doesn't kill the body. Rather, it seems that the will to power comes in to fill the vacuum. This perverse will

"has a violence and cruelty that go beyond the delight in masquerade and in the deception of others." It also "turns on the thinker himself and unmasks his thought as a cunning will to power."

Let's take another example from just last week, when President Obama decided to express his support for the redefinition of marriage. It is a matter of public record that this was merely a power play, in that wealthy donors were threatening to withhold funds if he didn't openly embrace their agenda.

For Newsweek to then proclaim Obama the "first gay president" is completely absurd, in light of the fact that he is just another statist with a transparently cunning will to power.

To believe otherwise one must want to believe otherwise, which is itself another instance of the will-to-power genre, except that it doesn't accrue to the power of the rank-and-foul self-deluder, only to the powerful. In reality it is but a "graceless disorder of the soul" rooted in a "demonic mendacity" (ibid).

(All quoted material from Science, Politics, And Gnosticism.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ideological Intolerance of Reality and Metastatic Hope

Sounds complicated, but you can see how one would lead to the other, or how the two are dialectically related. Presumably someone wouldn't reject reality unless they were hoping for something radically better. Nor would they live in a state of cancerous -- which is to say, radical -- hope unless reality were intolerable.

Hope itself isn't the problem, properly understood. After all, it is a theological virtue. I have here a handy little book called The One-Minute Philosopher, which distinguishes between Hope and Wish.

The former "involves the conviction that, despite appearances to the contrary, truth and goodness will prevail." Thus, it is not at all easy to maintain hope in the teeth of this decayed world, which is precisely why it is a virtue.

Please note that the hope is for this world, not for a magical one dreamt up by ideologues. Any tenured yahoo can imagine something better, but that isn't what we're talking about.

Rather, we're talking about accepting the world for what it is, and committing ourselves to its betterment. If we do not accept the world for what it is -- and human beings for what they are -- then our hopes will be completely misplaced. They will be reduced to wishes, and wishes to ashes.

And what is a wish? It "involves the fancy that, despite appearances to the contrary, our desire will be satisfied. To wish is to invoke fortune to bring us what we want, even when what we want is not good" (Brown).

Consider some of the implications drawn out by Brown: "hope is creative," but "wish is imaginative." While "I can wish for anything, I hope only for what is possible. My hope looks to the future, but is rooted in reality as it is."

And importantly, "what we hope for, we are also willing to work for." Thus, working for Obama's re-election so that the state will provide me more of what I desire, is not hope. I wish I could play tenor sax, but I realize Obama can't help me there.

That's a wish. A wish "has no particular bond with reality as it is, but feeds on fantasy.... Wishing is like dreaming: it is not confined to reality as it is, nor is there any good reason to believe that my wish will come true.... [U]nlike when we hope for something, we are not necessarily willing to work for it. We wish for all sorts of unattainable and frivolous things" (ibid.).

The left wishes socialized medicine would work, that the welfare state wouldn't bankrupt the nation, that we could borrow our way to prosperity, that members of the same sex could marry each other, that racial discrimination could end racial discrimination, that human fetuses aren't human, that women aren't women, that men aren't men, that palefarces were Indians, ad gnoseam.

But none of these things can be. We can try to force them to be, but the system will crack under the pressure of the denied reality. And it must remain cracked in order to continue "functioning."

I heard someone make a good point about this on the radio. Why have our Supreme Court hearings become so contentious? One reason, really. It is because of the twisted pettifoggery of Roe v. Wade.

Today, we are all supposed to bow before this grotesque example of judicial wishery, so that only those who reject reality are acceptable to liberals. This is bound to create tension, to put it mildly. The same will happen with regard to the redefinition of marriage if it is forced upon us by the court.

The marketplace of ideas is supposed to be a struggle of truth against truth, or, more accurately, a struggle for or toward truth. But what if it becomes a struggle for and against truth? For Voegelin, that is precisely what the political struggle involves, because it is the same struggle that is "waged on every level of human existence."

For example, it is axiomatic in psychology that pathology results from one part of the mind being at war with another. An unwanted truth is denied, repressed, or projected, and the lacunae is unconsciously filled with the wish, the desire, the preferred state of reality.

Likewise, we enter dangerous pneumapolitcal terrortory when confronted "with persons who know that, and why, their opinions cannot stand up under critical analysis and who therefore make the prohibition of the examination of their premises part of their dogma. This position of a conscious, deliberate, and painstakingly elaborated obstruction of ratio constitutes the new phenomenon" (Voegelin).

I wish it weren't so, but it is what it is. Or isn't, to be exact.

To be continued....

Friday, May 11, 2012

Creation: It Looked Good on Paper

Not really enough time for a post made of all new materials, but enough to revisit and recycle what was going on in the Cosmos four years ago. Since new readers will never catch up with the Arkive -- I realize that 2,000 posts is a major commitment to a mere blogger -- it can't hurt to whip out an old one every nowandagain. Besides, even if you're a venerable O'timer, something like 1,200 posts have passed under the bridge since we started, and maybe you missed this one.

I'm still making my way through the 1,100 page The Spiritual Ascent, a "compendium of the world's wisdom" organized into three main sections that mirror the universal stages of purification, illumination, and union, but with dozens of subsectional byways.

In a way, you could say the book is fractally organized, in that each section is a part of the whole, even while the whole is in each part. Likewise, every day of our lives is a microcosm of the lifelong spiritual adventure, i.e., an ongoing process of purification, illumination, and union, at least if we are consciously aware of this onetime uppertunity to right our wrungs on Jacob's ladder.

Like life itself, the book gets off to a very promising start, with chapters on divine creation, the process of manifestation, man's primordial birthright, and similar felicitous topics.

I suppose this is only fitting, being that the Creator's main excuse for the creation was that "it seemed like a good idea at the time," i.e., "God saw everything he had made, and indeed it was very good." But you know what they say about how the beast waylaid the plans of lousy men. Very soon the karmic wheels fell on the creation, ironically due to its crowing achievement , homo sleepy one. Soon enough paradise is paved over for this barking lot of mongreloid idiots.

This remands us to the prism of Finnegans Wake, which begins with a sentence about Adam and Eve ("riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay"), but by the third paragraph is in fullfall ("the fall of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all Christian minstrelsy"), and by the fourth paragraph is ringing in the full scale war of each against all ("arms apeal with larms, appalling. Killykillykilly: a toll, a toll").

Similarly, The Spiritual Ascent hits a bit of a rough patch with the chapters on illusion, sin, suffering, sacrifice, damnation, hell, and the like.

Nevertheless, these sections do emphasize the existential stakes involved, as well as the fact that "purification" is somewhat analogous to the manner in which a diamond is made. Just take a lump of coal, put it through unimaginable fire and pressure in the middle of the earth, then chip and chisel away what is impure and unnecessary, and you've got a luminous little gem fit for eternity.

What a bi-cosmic coincidence that the name diamond derives from the ancient Greek adamas and that most of them originate from Africa. Reminds me of the Johnny Cash song (written by Billy Joe Shaver):

I'm just an old chunk of coal / But I'm gonna be a diamond some day.... / I'm gonna spit and polish my old rough-edged self / 'Til I get rid of every single flaw / I'm gonna be the world's best friend

I just finished a couple of fascinating sections, Pilgrimage -- Descent Into Hell and Holy War. The section on Holy War is particularly interesting, as it emphasizes that jihad is not just for jihidiots. Rather, there is Jewhad, Buhad, and Crusad, in both the interior and exterior senses, as well as above and below. Quite simply, war is not just inevitable but necessary, with roots extending deep into the very structure of the cosmos.

Conversely, it is pacifism that is not only unnecessary but highly narcissary to boot; sanctimonious pacifists are usually just people unaware of their viciousness and cruelty, like, say, Jimmy Carter. Pacifism is essentially to surrender -- not just in war, but in the struggle of existence itself. For as written in Exodus, The Lord is a man of war; or in the words of Jesus: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword; or in the words of Krishna: Nothing is higher for a [member of the warrior caste] than a righteous war.

In his introduction to the subject of Holy War, Perry cites Guenon, who wrote that the essential reason for war -- legitimate war -- is "to end a dis-order and re-establish order; in other words, it is the unification of a multiplicity, by use of means which belong to the world of multiplicity itself.... War understood in this way, and not limited in an exclusively human sense, thus represents the cosmic process of the reintegration of the manifested into the principial unity." This reintegration necessarily involves destruction, as catabolism is to metabolism.

Guenon continues: "The purpose of war is the establishment of peace, for even in its most ordinary sense peace is really nothing else than order, equilibrium, or harmony, these three terms being nearly synonymous and all designating under slightly different aspects the reflection of unity in multiplicity itself.... Multiplicity is then in fact not really destroyed, but 'transformed'..."

In another sense, legitimate war is none other than justice, being that justice is really an "equilibrating function" which is "directed against those who disturb order and [has] as its object the restoration of order." The reason we catch and punish bad guys is ultimately to restore order -- to the community, to the wronged individual, within the disordered psyche of the perpetrator, and ultimately to the Cosmos itself.

Compare interior warfare to the Black Liberation Theology which so attracted the weak-souled Obama: "Many have been asking what Liberation Theology is all about. Well, it is not very complicated! It is the simple belief that in the struggles of poor and oppressed people against their powerful and rich oppressors, God sides with the oppressed against the oppressors."

Thus, it precisely inverts the true meaning of holy war, in that it imagines that God sides only with "the poor" instead of the righteous, or that he is angry at the wealthy instead of the evil (we should say that the righteous side with God). The "great holy war" is the struggle of man "against the enemies he carries within himself, that is to say, against all those elements in him which are contrary to order and unity" (and dynamic unity is not unicity, the latter being top-down coercion and conformity).

In short, our "unity candidate" is anything but. We will become the ones we've been waiting for only once we become more like the One who's been waiting for us.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rules for Radicals and Nostrums for Gnostics

As mentioned a few posts back, what is especially interesting about Voegelin's writings on modern political Gnosticism is his attempt to trace the phenomenon back to antiquity, and to outline the continuity between premodern "religious" and modern "political" varieties.

If he is correct on this score, this would have to represent the ultimate rebuke to self-styled progressives, who are perpetually building a bridge to the past -- and not even a real past, but rather, a myth-drenched one. Indeed, they are building a bridge to the lower vertical, which anyone can see by the primitive behavior of the Wall Street occupiers.

Superficially Voegelin's approach makes sense, since man = man everywhere and everywhen, and must be vulnerable to the same temptations and stupidities from age to age, even, or perhaps especially, when we imagine we have transcended them -- the tendency toward idolatry being one obvious and enduring example. Envy would be another. Each age finds a new way to legitimize what is called constitutional (i.e., innate) envy.

Man is man for at least three reasons. First, we share a common genetic heritage. Second, we all have a rational soul. And third, our existential conditions do not change, at least at the center: mother, father, brother, sister, love, death, loss, illness, need, children, mystery, etc.

For example, we have extended the average lifespan, but we nevertheless live in the shadow of death. We imagine ourselves to be "sexually liberated," but that hardly resolves the conundrum of human sexuality. We live more comfortably than the nobility of old, but this only fuels envy.

For this reason, there always have been, and always will be, cosmic snake oil salesmen who promise a cure for existence. But there are no cures for existence short of death. There is treatment, to be sure -- more on which later -- but no final cure in this life. We must learn to live amidst a welter of tensions, trade-offs, enigmas, reversals of fortune, raw deals, blown saves, buzzer beaters, etc.

The would-be Gnostic simply cannot accept the conditions of existence. He refuses to admit that they are "in the nature of things," and imagines that they are caused by some willful and systemic malevolence.

For example, the ancient Gnostics theorized that this world was created by a kind of renegade god, and that the snake in Genesis is the hero, not the villain of the story. The snake was simply trying to tell the humans to wise up to this fraudulent cosmic usurper.

Likewise, modern forms of political Gnosticism always require an easily identifiable enemy who is responsible for the unfairness and injustice of the world. Obama's mentor, Saul Alinsky, was very much aware of this need -- and I'm not one of those who (Gnostically!) overemphasizes his importance, as if he is the mystic key to understanding the Enigma of Obama; Alinsky simply articulated how radicals and revolutionaries think, and what they always do anyway.

Indeed, in the book's epigraph, Alinsky is self-aware enough to give an ironic shout out to Lucifer himself, as "the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins -- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom" (emphasis mine).

However, Alinsky was not self-aware enough to realize that his whole life revolved around conformity to this very mythic structure. Too ironic by half.

Note how the task of the community organizer is not to help people adjust to reality, but to fuel their messianic hopes that reality can be changed: "They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution" (Alinsky).

Thus, the goal of the organizer is to present a vague cure -- always vague, on pain of being recognized as magic -- for the very despair he provokes: "the organizer must begin the task of agitating: rubbing resentments, fanning hostilities, and searching out controversy." This essentially involves "a process combining hope and resentment."

Regarding the latter, since human beings are so myth-prone and susceptible to simplistic and morally satisfying narratives, it is necessary to "pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." This is the person or organization responsible for our obviously f*cked up existence. It is the One Percent, Fox News, Hate Radio, Creationists, Corporate Greed, Stay-At-Home Moms, Right Wing Christians, Zionist Hoodlums, Institutional Racism, etc.

Perhaps I should emphasize that conservatives are prone to the same sort of Gnostic narratives. A real conservative should have no delusions about what would happen with even the ideal political and economic conditions, for he has vertical recollection of paradise lost.

To locate salvation in politics is a grave error on the right, but a sacred principle on the left. When Obama is dispatched to Chicago come November, I will feel only relief, not joy (beyond the momentary). To react otherwise is to not know the ways of the world. For starters, if you think Jimmy Carter is a nuisance...

Now, the revolutionary, since he has already determined that the existing order is a result of willful malevolence, has no compunction whatsoever about destroying it. This is a very dangerous form of pneumopathology, and it is precisely what motivates the Islamists.

For once one has determined that the world is evil, then it legitimizes and disinhibits any form of violence or cruelty. One can gleefully destroy the system -- with all the "collateral damage" it entails -- in good conscience.

This is about as far as man may descend in the cosmos, where death is conflated with life; and woe unto them who call evil good and good evil. Indeed, woe unto those who even call the-best-we-can-do-under-the-circumstances evil, for it is easy to make matters worse, and impossible to make them better without trade-offs, unintended consequences, and unaccountable feedback from human nature.

Here is how Voegelin describes it: "Self-salvation through knowledge has its own magic, and this magic is not harmless. The structure of the order of being will not change because one finds it defective and runs away from it. The attempt at world-destruction will not destroy the world, but will only increase the disorder in society."

See history for details.

To be continued....

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Permanent Cootie Protection from the Left

In his introduction to Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, Ellis Sandoz writes that Voegelin's new science of politics -- you heard me: science -- "can be used to diagnose maladies of contemporary political existence and offer remedies within the modest limits of reason and science." Or in other words, it deals with the cause and cure of various political pathologies.

Consider the analogy to medicine. In the West, we have settled on allopathic medicine as the most useful approach to the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. But there are also other systems: homeopathic, osteopathic, ayurvedic, humorism, traditional Chinese medicine. Each of these posits a different etiological, classificatory, and therapeutic system for physical illness.

Since the mind is obviously more ambiguous than the body, there are even more treatment approaches to the psyche, veering from the completely biological to the completely psychological, from the collective to the individual, and from theories that consider everyone neurotic to crazy psychiatrists who conveniently consider abnormality normal.

Body. Mind. What about spiritual disorders? First of all, you can disabuse yourself of the notion that there is "no such thing," because each religion -- like the different schools of medicine -- provides a kind of diagnosis and cure for man's spiritual condition. Sometimes these are presented in mytho-speculative language, but they are no less penetrating for it.

Consider, for example, the Bhagavad Gita, which is none other than a dialogue between the troubled patient, Arjuna, and the spiritual doctor, Krishna. Likewise, the Buddha clearly diagnoses mankind (the four noble truths) before offering the cure (the eight-fold path). In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali does the same, and Jesus frankly compares himself to a physician.

In short, all religions recognize that there is something fundamentally wrong with man. And in our view, one of the things that is fundamentally wrong with man is his tendency to become a closed system. Please note that this is true of every level of existence, the material, psychic, and pneumatic.

Of Voegelin, Sandoz writes that he "evokes the philosopher as physician of the soul." This is not philosophy as understood by the tenured rabble, i.e., cosmo-psychic masturbation, but rather, a way of life; for it is "the love of being through love of divine Being as the source of its order" (Voegelin).

In this context, Sandoz notes that "protecting philosophy against perversion is vital to the larger task of protecting human existence itself against perversion and tyranny."

Especially in a free society such as ours, right thinking is our main line of defense against tyranny, which is precisely why it is attacked and undermined by the irrational and dis-ordered forces of the left. The left imposes a system in which lies either become compulsory, or in which the proper conclusions cannot be drawn from the allowable data.

The essence of modern tyranny involves prohibiting questions that might undermine the credibility of the system, which is why there is no place in America where speech is less free than on a college campus. No surprise there.

In the book, Voegelin outlines "three major types for whom a human inquiry has become a practical impossibility," including "socialist man," "positivist [e.g., scientistic, Darwinistic, reductionistic] man," and "national-socialist man."

Now, as there is philosophy (in Voegelin's sense), there is anti-philosophy. Political Gnosticism is an instance of the latter, which Voegelin defines as a perverse desire for "dominion over being; in order to seize control of being the gnostic constructs a system."

Thus, instead of a spiritually open engagement with reality and truth -- which is philo-sophy, or love of wisdom -- the gnostic closes himself to this ground and constructs a closed system based upon the Answer known only to elites such as himself, quintessential examples being Marxism on the political plane or metaphysical Darwinism on the scientific plane (and this is the kind of perverse and simplistic science -- i.e., scientism -- preferred by the left in order to bolster its enfeebled image of man).

Each of these denies transcendence up front, which has the practical effect of murdering man. As Sandoz explains, modern forms of Gnosticism are characterized by their "renunciation of 'vertical' or otherworldly transcendence and [their] proclamation of a 'horizontal' transcendence or futuristic parousia of Being -- that is, intramundane or worldly" salvation. In short, a dreamworld of hope and change.

But in imposing this absurd doctrine of worldly salvation, the parousia must be perpetually postponed. For the gnostic, it is always right around the corner, the endless Recovery Summer. The War on Poverty is not a Keynesian quackmire, but actually winnable with one last surge of obscenely profligate spending on our pet projects and political allies!

Thus, although the Obama campaign is less flamboyantly gnostic this time around, it will nevertheless be asking us to ignore what has actually happened to the economy over the last four years. Rather, look ahead, to the glorious future that is promised by Dear Leader's new Four Year Plan, which looks suspiciously like the old Four Year Plan, except for the unseemly aggression toward people who notice that.

To be continued....

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

From Uncertain Truth to Certain Untruth

Okay people, we've got a big problem, and it has to do with truth.

The way I sees it, one first has to establish that the world is intelligible and that man may know it (which are two sides of the same coin).

This is another way of saying that we must first determine whether or not this cosmos is ultimately absurd -- or, more to the point, if there is a cosmos (an all-encompassing order) and not just a chaosmos.

If we're in a big chaosmos, then we don't have a problem, and certainly not the problem addressed by this post. However, if it is true that this is a chaosmos, then you have another sort of logical conundrum you'll need to resolve on your own. Good luck with that.

Next, one needs to propagate that truth to others.

No, I take that back. Rather, one can always just horde the truth and keep it to oneself. More for us! But interestingly, virtually no one wishes to do this. Instead, when a normal man stumbles upon a truth, he has an intrinsic desire to share the joy with others. Indeed, truth radiates, just as does beauty, but in a slightly different way. I would say that truth partakes of the Absolute, beauty the Infinite. Truth doesn't need to be compelled by force, as the left believes, because it compels assent by its very nature. Only lies are compulsory.

As an aside, wouldn't it be nice if some people would keep the truth -- or what they regard as the truth -- to themselves? If they had just done that, then there would have been no Soviet Union, no Nazi Germany, no Islamism. We'll return to this topic later, i.e., the impulse to propagate the Lie, and what it means.

In any event, in order to propagate truth, man must be able to formulate it in his head, put it into words, and transmit it to others. Right there you've got another problem, because, as it says in Vanderleun's comment section, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SPEAK IN SUCH A WAY THAT YOU CANNOT BE MISUNDERSTOOD. Did you understand that? Good. That means that some simple things, at least if you if you say them slowly and loudly, can be understood. Communication is difficult but possible.

But what about the complex things, like the truth of man? When we say "truth of man," we have several things in mind, but they essentially come down to three areas: our origin, our destiny, and our present purpose. Or in other words, where did we come from, where are we going, and what should we do? Or even more simply, Who (are we), Why (are we here), and What (are we supposed to do with our lives), respectively.

Now, any sane man acknowledges up front that ultimate -- or transfinite -- truth is impossible for a finite being. Unless, of course, this truth is somehow communicated -- which is to say, revealed -- to man from outside, above, beyond, or behind the cosmic system. Some will say this is impossible, and leave it at that. However, if you have senses of irony and humor, you will recognize that only a god would be in a position to affirm such a thing. Or in other words, if God doesn't exist, only he knows it.

Back to our problem. What if someone 1) discovers a critical truth, 2) formulates it, 3) publishes it, and 4) no one but a few fertile eggheads pays attention?

What I specifically have in mind is Voegelin's Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, which strikes me as densely packed with vital truths about man. And when I say "vital," I mean that man cannot survive -- not as we know him, and not in the long run -- without knowing them.

First, we should point out that Voegelin is hardly the only person to discover truths that no one wishes to hear. But more importantly, if this is the truth, then it is doubtful in the extreme that he would have been the first to discover it.

Indeed, Voegelin once quipped that one of the hallmarks of truth is unoriginality. Just as animals come equipped with various mechanisms of defense, man's intellect has always been able to arrive at certain salutary and guiding truths (to paraphrase Schuon, as unwavering instinct is the animal's intellect, unwavering intellect is man's instinct). But since we also have free will, we can ignore these truths.

This lines up with something else Schuon said, to the effect that everything has already been said, and even well said, but it still needs to be discovered anew by each generation. And as mentioned above, when discovered, there is an intrinsic joy associated with sharing it, i.e., the cosmic Woo Hoo!

One of Voegelin's themes is that when a man moves from faith to ideology, he falls from uncertain truth to certain untruth. Obviously, man has a lust for certainty, but this must be a means, not an end. If this passion does become an end, then one has entered a state of pneumopathology.

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Voegelin made the statement that "the essence of modernity is Gnosticism." What did he mean by this?

First, let's discuss what impels a man to Gnosticism. First, the would-be Gnostic "is dissatisfied with his situation," which, in a certain sense, is neither here nor there, for all men are dissatisfied with their situation. This is just another way of saying that man is a finite being with infinite appetites. Life is tough. Deal with it.

Ah, but that is precisely what the Gnostic refuses to do, which is to say, accept reality. For the Gnostic does not consider the constraints of existence, let alone the nature of man.

Rather, he concludes that the community of man is just "poorly organized," and that "salvation from the evil of the world is possible." No one doubts that things can improve, but everyone should doubt that, say, an Obama has it in his power to do such a thing, especially with no unintended consequences, no losers, no trade-offs, no victims, etc.

But the Gnostic believes "that a change in the order of being lies in the realm of human action" and "that this salvational act is possible through man's own effort." Remember Obama's 2008 promise -- or was it a threat? -- that he intends to fundamentally change this nation. But of course, it has always been known that any idiot can make history by changing things.

Usually the Gnostic has his own personal issues, which he avoids by inflicting them upon the rest of us. I mean, no one cares if Obama thinks he can save the world. It only becomes a problem for the rest of us if he is given the power to try.

To be continued...

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Cause and Cure of Causes and Cures

For the last several weeks we've been elliptically circling several subjects that appear to be implicitly related, otherwise we wouldn't be circling them.

The fact that we keep flitting from topic to topic -- along with the discontinuous nature of the flight (which is a little like trying to resume a dream the following night) -- may obscure the fact that we have indeed been orbiting around a center and trying to zerʘ in on it. It's just that this center is what is called a strange attractor, in fact, the strangest of all attractors, specifically, O.

In other words, I'm sure I have a point, or rather, that the point has me (in its orbit). The wiki article includes a helpful image of a strange attractor, which looks something like this (although each one is necessarily unique, which suggests to me that each individual human person is none other than a strange attractor).

As you can see, it's a little like a roller coaster in hyperspace. Which is a good metaphor for life.

You may recall that this strange and complex thread began with Brendan Purcell's From Big Bang to Big Mystery: Human Origins in the Light of Creation and Evolution, but eventually homed in on Eric Voegelin, beginning with his Hitler and the Germans. After that I leapt with both feet into Voegelin's oceanic corpus, where many men have drowned. It seems that all he ever did was think and write, and no thought was left unwritten.

He also changed his mind in fundamental ways that affect all his previous work, so it's not as if you can just grab one piece out of context and run with it. Rather, it's more like the Bible, in which one must have a view of the whole in order to comprehend the particulars.

And the Whole is precisely what we are dealing with in this thread (indeed, this blog), which is to say Cosmos and Man, or Macrocosm and Microcosm, or Time and Eternity, or ultimately -- to express it in a completely unsaturated manner -- O and ʘ. That latter equation is irreducible to anything less, because there is always man and ground, however one formulates it.

As mentioned in the book, the cosmos is either absurd or it is not absurd. Indeed, we can begin with a kind of flow chart, with that question at the top.

But if you deicide at the outset that the cosmos is absurd, then you may stop. Game over. Philosophy is not possible. Thinking is a waste of time because reality is unknowable. The cosmos -- and Darwin -- is finished with you, assuming you have passed your genes on to the next absurd generation. Or not, depending upon your fitness for genetic duty.

However, if the cosmos is not absurd, then this is where things get interesting, for we are thrust into the strange attractor referenced above. If I grasp Voegelin rightly, it was his purpose to actually describe this attractor in as much detail as humanly possible. He called the attractor order, hence the title of what many people feel to be his magnum opus, the five volume Order and History.

Now, bear in mind that exhaustively describing this order -- i.e., containing it -- is precisely what man may never do, since this transcendent order contains us.

But man doesn't like this idea, and has had difficulty swallowing it ever since Genesis. There we learn that it was All Good, so long as man subordinated himself to the cosmic order, and didn't try to invent one of his own.

Thus the birth of ideology, which is always wrong, only more or less demonically so. An ideology is any system of thought that superimposes a second reality on the first, which has the practical effect of severing man from the ground in more or less coercive or violent ways. Ideology ends in the murder of man, either physically or spiritually (and usually both).

One important point of, er, order. It is quite clear that man's lust for ideology is, or might as well be, intrinsic -- as if we are all infected with Adam's mind parasite. Thus, there is nothing that cannot be "ideologized," including the very cures for ideology, e.g., Christianity or American (not European) style conservatism.

A useful point of entry into Voegelin is his Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. One reason it is so helpful is that in it he recovers a certain transtemporal unity of man, in tracing the modern ideologies -- e.g., scientism, positivism, Marxism, fascism, progressivism (but I repeat myself), socialism, etc. -- all the way back to antiquity.

And "prior" (ontologically or vertically) to antiquity is mythology. Myth occurs at the horizon of history, and tells us vital things about ourselves that cannot be recovered through the historical method. Again, Genesis would be a prime example.

If we are aware and respectful of the cosmic order, then it is a kind of unknowculation against ideology. Properly speaking, Christianity, for example, should not be an ideology, but rather, a ground-level encounter between persons. "Dogmatic order" is obviously important, but is posterior to the Person and all it implies.

Nor should conservatism be reduced to an ideology, but rather, should simply be a healthy respect for the Nature of Things, whether human, societal, economic, political, spiritual, or in any other way. The point is, reality always comes first, not the ideology (very much what Gerard means by American.)

Voegelin is responsible for the bold claim that the "essence of modernity is gnosticism." What did he mean by this?

Well, we're out of time again, so we'll have to resume this dream tomorrow. Meanwhile, have a good day, and don't let the headbugs blight.