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...