Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Liberal Fascism and Left Brain Tyranny

Although there's a fantastic amount of multidisciplinary research in The Master and His Emissary, overall the book is a failure in terms of its prescription, because it essentially tries to use the left brain to find an escape hatch from the left brain.

I think McGilchrist's diagnosis of left brain hegemony is perfectly accurate -- as far as it goes -- but it's a little like Gorbachev's attempt to reform communism from within communism. Once you recognize the essential flaws of communism, the whole thing falls apart.

Even before getting into pathology -- i.e., diagnosis -- we must have a norm. In the absence of a norm, there can be no deviations, no perversion, inversions, regressions, or developmental arrests; nor can there be any meaningful evolution or development.

The function of the mind is to know reality. Thus, everything follows from the two principles embedded in this statement: first, that reality exists; and second, that we may know the truth of it.

The whole "modern turn" in philosophy, beginning with Kant, undermines these principles. It either denies one side at the expense of the other (as in scientism); or conflates them (as in the Chopraesque newage sewage of "perception is reality").

The result is, on the one hand, a desolate scientism that presumes to know the truth of reality, but without anyone to know it; or, a psychic projection of the nervous system. Thus, the world is either a left-brain scheme or a right-brain dream.

To his credit, McGilchrist is sensitive to this problem, but in the absence of a proper norm, he cannot propose a rigorous solution. Instead, he deals with the problem of left-brain tyranny on pragmatic grounds. He essentially says that the left brain has made a mess of things, so we need to rely more on the right.

He writes of, for example, "the profound kinship" between modernism and Nazism. But do we need to know about neurology to tell us that fascism is evil? Or in other words, is fascism what we call "evil" just because it involves a subjugation of the right brain by the left?

Of the "modernist enterprise," he writes that it involves a left-brain "admiration for what is powerful rather than beautiful, a sense of alienated objectivity rather than engagement or empathy, and an almost dogmatic trampling on all taboos..."

But with no norm other than utility, who's to say they're wrong?

The last chapter of the book is called The Master Betrayed (the master being the right brain). In it he presents a picture of what the world of the left hemisphere would look like, and it looks awfully familiar:

"We could expect, for a start, that there would be a loss of the broader picture, and a substitution of a more narrowly focussed, restricted, but detailed, view of the world..."

Check.

"The broader picture would in any case be disregarded, because it would lack the appearance of clarity and certainty which the left hemisphere craves."

Check.

"Ever more narrowly focussed attention would lead to an increasing specialization and technicalising of knowledge."

Check.

This "would promote the substitution of information... for knowledge, which comes through experience."

Check.

Knowledge "would seem more 'real' than what one might call wisdom, which would seem too nebulous..."

Check.

"There would be an increase in both abstraction and reification..."

Check.

Or, you could just say that the world becomes quantified at the expense of its prior -- and immediate -- qualities.

As a result, "the impersonal world would come to replace the personal..." "Individualities would be ironed out and identification would be by categories: socioeconomic groups, races, sexes, and so on," leading to intergroup competition, resentment, and paranoia. In other words, OBAMA-BIDEN 2012 (not to mention Big Chief Affirmative Token).

"Reasonableness would be replaced by rationality," leading to "a complete failure of common sense." "Anger and aggressive behavior would become more evident in our social interactions," since empathy is located in the right brain. And we can also expect sex to become "explicit and omnipresent," since the real implicit power of sex is located in the right.

The left-brain government of such a left-brain sheeple "would seek total control -- it is an essential feature of the left hemisphere's take on the world that it can grasp it and control it."

Obamacare, the attempt to control the economy via manipulation of aggregate demand, regulation of the world economy under the pretext of controlling the weather, state-mandated redefinition of marriage -- each of these flows from a left-brain fantasy. Oh, and give us your guns, especially those of you who don't buy into the fantasy.

In short, "Individual liberty would be curtailed," and "panoptical control would become an end in itself." The aim would be "to increase the power of the state and diminish the status of the individual.... according to the left hemisphere's take on reality, individuals are simply interchangeable parts of a mechanistic system, a system it needs to control in the interests of efficiency."

People are reduced to the proverbial Bags of Wet Cement, to be shoved around by the state. The state would "play down individual responsibility, and the sense of individual responsibility would accordingly decline." Loss of the implicit structure of the right brain would bring with it a flood of explicit legislation to try to control behavior.

We would see a "loss of insight, coupled with unwillingness to take responsibility," and an "increasing passivisation and suggestibility." "A sense of [existential] nausea and boredom before life would likely lead to a craving for novelty and stimulation." And of course, "Religion would seem to be mere fantasy."

So, what's the real solution? Seems to me I've been blah-blah-blogging about it ad gnoseum for over seven years, and I have no idea how to summarize it. But it's still one cosmos under god, regardless of what the left brain thinks.

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Liberal Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science -- and Reality

A while ago a 'bat named -- wait for it: Mooney -- wrote a risibly tendentious book by that title, except it was called "The Republican Brain," and it was all about the science of how Republicans deny science -- you know, like our crazy belief that world temperature hasn't risen in the past 16 years, or how high taxes retard economic growth.

But it turns out he was all wrong, and that the most sophisticated, cutting edge research proves -- as we've been documenting here for years -- that liberalism is a mental and spiritual disorder with devastating consequences, both personally and collectively, locally and cosmically.

This is all explained in McGilchrists's The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, although you have to read between the brains, since the book is refreshingly free of the kind of demagogic misuse of science that Mooney and I engage in. Nevertheless, turna'bat is fairplay, so here we go.

The first half of the book is a lengthy summary of research into the different hemispheres, while the second half of the book is more speculative, and attempts to use this research to shed light on western history, from antiquity to the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Industrial Revolution, and on into modern and postmodern times.

Those latter two -- modern, and especially postmodern -- are of the most interest to us, since these are the worlds brought to us via all those "scientific" and rational assumptions of liberalism. As we know, liberals don't only control the levers of government, but their worldview permeates academia, the media, and the culture more generally. It is the shallow water we must swim in and the air we sophicate on.

Let's begin with the very different manner in which the two hemispheres see and experience the world. No, let's actually begin before that, with the stipulation that man has two cerebral hemispheres for a reason, and that they are complementary, not antagonistic. Or, they are at times antagonistic, but in such a way that it redounds to the benefit of the person "above" them.

McGilchrist (who, I should make clear, comes at it from a purely secular perspective) compares them to "opponent processors," through which "mutually opposed elements... make possible finely calibrated responses to complex situations" -- as when one hand pushes gently against the other hand in order to thread a needle.

Perhaps the most provocative research finding is that our primary experience of the world is located in the right hemisphere, whereas our abstract "mapping" of this same world is located in the left.

Frankly, I don't think we need all this brain research to tell us something we all know -- that there is a primary, lived experience of the whole of reality, over which we superimpose an atomized grid of knowledge. In my book I use the symbols (n) and (k) to distinguish the two. Not surprisingly, it turns out that there is a neural substrate for (n) and (k), but that doesn't mean that knowledge of either type can be reduced to neurology.

Rather, we begin with the principle of the Person, and it is not possible for a Person to incarnate in the absence of the "opponent processing" of the "divided" brain. But of course, the divided brain isn't really divided at all; or, to be perfectly accurate, it is divided so as to be united at a higher level. A non-divided brain couldn't possibly host the unitary person.

Yes, you could say the hemispheres are distinct but undivided, like a certain godhead we know. Which is why we don't subjectively feel as if we are two different persons. We are aware of the input from both sides, but there is something in us that unproblematically (heh) unifies the two -- and it's not just "two," because, as McGilchrist explains, there is also a front-back structure in the brain, i.e., frontal to hindbrain, and a top-down one, i.e., cortex to mammalian to reptilian to Sharpton brain.

(In fact, perhaps only the left brain sees the brain as divided; indeed, McGilchrist points out that the right brain is able to take the perspective of the left into consideration, since it is part of the "whole," whereas the left cannot do this vis-a-vis the holism of the right. It reminds me of how conservatives must deal with liberal arguments, since they permeate the culture, whereas it is possible for a liberal to live in an entirely friction-free cognitive world, since he must go out of his way to deeply understand the conservative point of view in a way that is unfiltered by the left wing hate machine.)

Now, when I say we "unproblematically" (heh) unify our knowledge and experience, I obviously mean problematically, because that's the whole problem, isn't it? We can be anything from a garden-variety neurotic who has difficulty integrating his primitive-down and civilized-up, to a completely psychotic person whose left brain has hijacked his entire personhood, to a tenured Marxist who hasn't left his left brain in 40 years.

But under the best of circumstances, we are all faced with this problem of integration, especially in the contemporary world, since there is a virtually infinite amount of data to consider, so much that no single person could ever literally do it. Which is one of the main reasons left wing ideologues take refuge in their simplistic left brain fantasies of cognitive and social control. This is also what allows the typical low-information liberal voter to nurture his delusions of adequacy.

To cite one glaring example, when monohemispheriacs such as Mr. Mooney talk about the Republican "war on science," what they are mostly referring to is the conservative resistance to scientism. And the resistance to scientism comes from the right brain, which knows full well that scientism is not true because it cannot possibly be true. And it cannot be true because the right brain is precisely what mediates our connection to being as such. The right brain knows of what it speaks, even if it must express itself via the mythopoetic.

One doesn't have to be aware of brain research to understand why the fantasies of scientism are delusional. In every branch of science, the persistent application of purely "left brain" scientific methods has resulted in a right brain view of the world. This is the proper Circle of Being, whereby experience starts in the right, is broken down and categorized by the left, and then re-dreamt by the right.

In physics, for example, we have the uncertainty principle, complementarity principle, and nonlocality. In logic we have Gödel, in math Cantor, in biology Rosen. Such "transformative developments," writes McGilchrist, "validate the world as given by the right hemisphere, not the left." I call them the fundamental orthoparadoxes of (k), and no worldview can hope to be adequate without taking them into consideration.

One way of looking at left and right brains is to see them as processors of Absolute and Infinite, respectively; or of container and contained. Can Absolute "contain" Infinite? No, there is something "above" both, although here we are getting into areas where cutandry language begins to fail. In short, such meta-metaphysical questions can only be handled by the right brain, via poetry, myth, scripture, or the perfect nonsense of coonspeak.

I don't have much time this morning, plus my brain's a little rusty after the extended slackoff, so I guess I'll continue this tomorrow, the weather in my head permitting.

Liberals can fix the weather in the world, just like Mr. Gore said. But what's to be done about the weather in their heads?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Message from the Supreme Epopt of Upper Tonga

It has come to our attention that a commenter requests an open thread. The Cosmocrats of the Luminous Aeon have seen fit to authorize the request.

De nada. You are welcome.

Friday, December 14, 2012

If You Strike at God, You'd Better Kill Him

Guissani provides a little map of our cosmic situation -- a cosmograph, as it were -- and it goes a little something like this:

r --> f <-- v

In this schematic r stands for Reason, f for feeling, and v for value: "The object of knowledge, in so much as it interests us (v), evokes a state of feeling (f) that conditions the capacity for knowledge (r)." (I prefer 'sensibility' to feeling.)

With all due respect, I think we can do a little better than this, although I don't know whether I will be able to depict it in a single cosmograph.

First of all, we need to start with O. From O there is a series of declensions (↓) leading to ʘ, (¶), (+), (•), •••(•)•••, (ø), and the outskirts of Ø. Thus, at one end we have the Absoute, the One, the plenum of goodness, O, while at the other end we have the absolutely relative, the løgøs, the nihil of nihilism, Ø. Man is capable of inhabiting any station between these poles.

(That was rude. It just occurred to me that people who have never read the manifestivus will have no idea what those pneumaticons refer to; let's just say the beatific vision, or atman; the intellect, or nous; the vertically and horizontally integrated self; the ego; the fragmented ego riddled with mind parasites; and MSNBC.)

We would then need a hierarchy of horizontal arrows between world ( ) and man (•), signifying the spectrum of -ologies that spreads out from the Logos, as when light hits a prism: physics, biology, neurology, psychology, etc.

There is also a paradigmatic science appropriate to each level, for example, metaphysics vis-a-vis O and physics vis-a-vis ( ).

Extending further down, we could say that contemporary liberalism is the science of Ø. It draws out all the nasty implications and consequences of living in an absolutely relativistic and therefore meaningless world, where essences (including the human individual) are impossible. In the end, their imperfect nonsense always adds up to ‰, or the "bad infinite."

As we've said before, a communist or fascist is just a leftist with the absolute courage of his convictions, willing to go all the way down the infrahuman heilhole without pulling any punches, and dragging everyone else along with him.

Coincidentally, I read something along these lines just yesterday in Pieper's book on The Concept of Sin. You could say that mortal sin (the unforgivable kind) involves willfully turning from O and instead being oriented to Ø

(And if a certain reader's understandable confusion is an indication, Pieper means "unforgivable" in the normal course of events, absent a rather extreme and unprecedented intervention on the part of the Creator combined with the appropriate response on the part of the mortal sinner, which will naturally involve a great deal of pain followed by a lifetime of efforts at re-conciliation toward a hoped-for absolution; this effort does not imply justification by man, but rather, is a spontaneous reflection of a true con-version, re-pentance, and metanoia; but to simply assume forgiveness is itself a kind of unforgivable hubris).

Thus, we cannot necessarily judge individual sins in a kind of hierarchy of severity, as does the positive law, because the identical act takes on a very different meaning if committed with full consciousness of rejecting O and embracing Ø.

For Pieper, this is why we must withhold ultimate judgment, because we simply do not have access to the state of the person's soul when committing this or that sin.

Nietzsche was the most articulate spokes(ø) for Ø, but in the end, he was just a big talker, and there is no evidence that he actually embodied the principles he espoused. He said, for example, "I rejoice in great sin as my great consolation!," but all evidence suggests that his personal life was rather dull and uneventful.

Nietzsche just got a pneumatic kick out of stirring things up via projection into his readers, and was therefore a kind of prototype of today's academics who are so adept at tearing down what it took centuries to build, and then watching as others suffer the consequences of their follies.

For example, black culture lies in ruins because of the toxic ideas of leftist pinheads with lifetime employment. The left couldn't care less about its millions of victims.

O is the ultimate nonlocal Order of things, and is the Reason why we have a cosmos to begin with (i.e., a local order). Pieper notes that the soul falls into disorder as a consequence of sin, which again comes down to turning away from O, which is the nonlocal source and goal (alpha and omega) of the soul's order.

Therefore, sin "establishes itself as pointless, literally relationless activity... sin lacks the element of being ordered to a goal."

But the person, in essence, is always in relationship, as a terrestrial consequence of the Trinity. Therefore, that other great spokes(ø) for Ø, Sartre, claims that "hell is other people" -- which you might say is a consequence of a loveless (because radically monadic) cosmos.

The opposite -- and correct -- sentiment is related in The Brothers Karamazov, when a character asks, "what is hell? I think it is the pain of no longer being able to love."

Pieper might well be describing our orientation to O, the Great Attractor, when he observes that "the inclination of nature is the hidden gravitational pull that is active in each individual regulation of the will. It is the fundamental energy by virtue of which human existence presses toward its intended goal."

Thus it also accounts for evolution, meaning that "we are born not as static entities but as unfinished products, a 'rough draft' whose realization is demanded by that same nature 'by virtue of creation.'" (As we've said before, metaphysical Darwinism is the very opposite of evolution, since it denies any telos to account for meaningful or progressive change.)

Pieper raises the subtle point that "whoever does wrong can never be completely at one with himself." This is perfectly clear if O is the source of oneness, and if sin involves turning from O.

Therefore, sin always redounds to a condition of •••(•)•••, of a self riven by fragmentation.

Conversely, peace and tranquility are subjective byproducts of at-one-ment. This also explains why we can never match the tireless but empty "activism" of the unhappy left. The evil is in their principles, and therefore poisons any consequences a priori.

To put it colloquially: no, we don't actually have to pass the bill to find out what's in it, so long as we know it was made by the skeevy hands of the left. Or in other words, it's pointless to wash your hands in a muddy river.

So -- speaking of Obamacare -- sin is "a kind of disorder... that brings disorder in its wake."

Pieper is careful to avoid the existentialist's error of equating our freedom with the nothingness of Ø. Nor is evil simply an inevitable consequence of our freedom, or we couldn't say that God is the God of liberty.

Rather, for Pieper, it has to do with the residue of nothingness, so to speak, that characterizes our ontological situation. That is to say, "descent from nothing is inherent in every creature," and this is "the deepest ground for man's capacity for sin." Nothing is as nothing does, I guess.

Ironically, this very much comports with Freud's postulate of a death instinct, thanatos, in dialectic with the life instinct, eros. But it also reminds me of that crack about the Father of Lies. When he lies, he speaks his native language, i.e., the language of Ø. Therefore, only satan can be the perfectly consistent liar, one who is even "at one with himself" as a result of turning from O.

Conversely, "whoever reflects on the phenomenon of human failing, keeping his mind open to all its aspects, can expect that the suprarational dimension of the object will finally emerge onto view." O is always situated just over this suprarational horizon, so be good and know that I AM.

Not sure whether I'll be posting in the next couple of weeks. Only if I feel like it, I guess.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Passion For Eternity

People feel no need to reason about things to which they are insensate -- which do not move them in some way prior to reasoning about them.

In one of his snippy moods -- like Jefferson, he was intellectually labile -- Wittgenstein said "whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." But different people are qualified to speak of different things, based upon their sensitivity to them.

This is what Giussani means by genius, which refers to the "knack" we have for certain subjects. Genius "needs only a clue to intuit the solution to the problem, while everyone else has to work laboriously through every step."

So we should declare -- for example, to the loudmouthed atheist -- "whereof you cannot speak, you should really just shutup. Believe it or not, no living person cares about what you haven't experienced, nor about the limits of your sensibilities."

There are a multitude of things about which I express no opinion, because it's none of my isness. It takes all kinds to make a cosmos, and we are all built to respond to different frequencies and vibrations.

One of the great tragedies in life is never discovering the Thing that speaks to us in this cosmically intimate way -- that for which we are gifted. But my thing isn't necessarily anyone else's thing. Here you no doubt detect the strands of my neohippie DNA: do your own thing, which is to say, become who you are, an individual.

The educational establishment, the media, the state -- the purpose of each is to drive a wedge between you and your Thing, because it is impossible to control 300 million individuals. It's much easier if everyone is the same, or is at least easily sorted into racial, sexual, and socioeconomic categories.

This is why it's so much easier for a Democrat to design a campaign. For the left, if you're black, or female, or hispanic, that's all you are, so that's all they need to know about you. "Your skin color, your failure to master english, your naughty bits, that's your Thing. And we respect that."

Importantly, this gift we have for intuiting an aspect of reality in a flash is not "unreasonable." The genius of which Giussani speaks bypasses linear reasoning and cannot necessarily articulate the steps it took to reach a conclusion. It sees the totality in an instant, and is thereby transrational, not irrational.

Yesterday we spoke of the space that opens out between human energy and a presence. This human energy is what we call the soul, while the presence can be anything from physical sensations, to interpersonal cues, to humor and wit, to aesthetic sensibility, to religious insights (and much more besides).

"[S]omething always has an impact on the individual's sphere of experience." The presence from whatever dimension "penetrates one's personal experience," which creates a certain creative response in us (I won't say "reaction," because that is too mechanical).

Now, different presences are of different magnitudes. I'm thinking, for example, of the first time I "fell in love" -- or whatever it was. The point is, whatever it was, it was an incredibly powerful presence.

Really, it was like being inundated in an emotional runaround tsunami. I was clearly in the presence of this Other, and yet, how could this Other be anything other than me? (I'm not referring here to the other person, but the Other state of being into which I found myself plunged.)

Now, the same thing routinely occurs with regard to the spiritual dimension. That is to say, we respond to the presence of this ultimate Other with a jarring (?!) or sacred WTF. We then give it a name -- God, for example -- but just like the teenage experience alluded to above, it takes two to Tonga -- in this case, the simultaneous presence of the Presence and of the Religious Sense.

I might add that to be repelled by religion is equally a state of the soul, except a reactionary one. It is always a secondary, not primary, experience. If they just cut out the middle man, they could be religious, like everyone else.

We are all familiar with Blake's wise crack about seeing God in a grain of sand or some blades of grass we'd like to buy from him. "Depending upon the measure of the individual's human vivacity, anything whatsoever that enters his personal horizon... moves him, touches him, provokes a reaction."

What is especially shocking is how specific the feeling can be. I would guess that english words haven't yet been invented for most of these -- for example, l'esprit d'escalier.

I'm just free associating here, as usual, but it occurs to me that a Christian would posit Jesus as having possessed the maximum "human energy" alluded to above. If we are correct, then he should reflect a maximum degree of sensitivity to every degree and dimension of existence. In any event, it's good to have an ideal, an archetype to shoot for -- if not Jesus, then at least someone more alive than you.

In contrast to Jesus, "If someone has a narrow mind and a small, mean heart, he will find much less value in the world around him than a person who has a great soul, who is vivacious." These people are boring in the extreme.

The reason they are boring is that they are less "alive." That is to say, aliveness is precisely this openness to everything. Therefore, when Jesus speaks of a more abundant life, I'm pretty sure this is what he's talking about.

An equivalent word would be passion -- or let us say "passionate engagement," to distinguish it from mere ungoverned life force.

As Giussani writes, "the more nature arouses my interest in something, the more it makes me curious, gives me the need and passion to know that thing.... Indeed, as soon as nature endows me with an interest in an object, it conditions my capacity to know it by the feeling that is produced." To love it is to know it (although the knowledge will increase as a result of the passionate engagement).

To summarize the nub of the gist of the upshot of the bottom line of the whole existentialada: "if a certain thing does not interest me, then I do not look at it; if I do not look at it, then I cannot know it. In order to know it, I need to give my attention to it."

So "the centre of the problem is really a proper position of the heart, a correct attitude, a feeling in its place, a morality."

And let the dead bury the tenured.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Cosmic Rebel Without a First Cause

The Church is in a very ticklish situation, one that I don't envy. That is, how does one preserve, transmit, and hand on this repository of truth without in the process reducing it to some kind of easily digestible booby formula?

This is one of the tasks Giussani sets for himself. While the problem has become more visible in the post-WW2 cultural climate, and more generally with modernity, it has actually been an issue from the start, one that Jesus was clearly aware of (more on which as we proceed).

One reason it's an issue is that it applies to any discipline I can think of, in which the living, uncontainable truth is eventually contained and cut down to size. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since we do need a paradigm in order to situate any fact we encounter, whether scientific, psychological, or religious. In a way, a fact is already a theory.

But paradigms can quickly become procrustean beds, cutting off inconvenient facts in order to preserve the theory, so that what is seen is ideology, not reality.

In the secular west ideology has replaced the Reason (as discussed in yesterday's post), so that "instead of learning from reality and all its aspects and building on it, man seeks to manipulate reality according to coherent schemes fabricated by the intellect" (LG).

Thus, instead of reality speaking to man, man just yells at reality, like a crazy street person bellowing at a shop window. It reminds me of those union thugs who refuse to accept the principle of supply and demand, and therefore want to beat up those who do.

But when has the left been any different? The left cannot exist without the threat of violence, either explicit or implicit. In contrast, no one has to force me to be free.

Ideology quickly devolves -- or mutates -- into ideolatry, a word I apparently just coined, combining ideology and idolatry. Ideology is the new graven image, and like all graven images, it is full of magic. There are magical incantations for cleansing sin and eliminating guilt (e.g., "diversity"), for denying sexual conflict while unconsciously acting it out ("feminism"), for maintaining intellectual sanctity ("global warming"), and countless others.

Really, like carbon emission trading, it's one big racket of psychic transactions between victims and bullies, which results in the self-styled victims becoming bullies, as in Michigan.

But in reality, the modern left revolves around an inversion of the Christian idea of poverty of spirit, so that instead of the meek inheriting the earth, the left grants itself permission to steal the earth on behalf of its meek victims du jour. Which is why Obama -- a deeply Christian man who learned his theology at the knee of the Rrrrrrrrreverend Wright -- refuses to condemn those poor and meek union goons.

In the foreword, the author writes of how Giussani is concerned with "the risks of slipping into merely formal adhesion" to Christianity, reducing it to a "merely practical and exterior practice," no longer responding to and engaging with the deepest foundation of the human person, i.e., the religious sense and all it implies.

The central problematic for Giussani is one we have discussed on many occasions, i.e., the diminution of the human spirit to fit the ideology, rather than expanding it in order to conform to reality: the "modern mentality reduces reason to a series of categories into which reality is forced to enter. What cannot be forced into these categories is defined as irrrational."

But Reason, properly understood, is simply open engagement with O, on every level: "If reason is faithful to its original dynamism of openness to the totality of reality, it recognizes the existence of this ultimate, mysterious level of reality. But it cannot pretend with its own forces to know 'Who' the Mystery may be" (Stafford).

Exactly. Ironically -- or orthoparadoxically -- the unambiguous affirmation of the existence -- or presence -- of O is as precise a truth as it is possible for the human being to know. Indeed, there is nothing we can know with more certainty than that O is. It is where we must start our adventure of consciousness, because it is where our Reason begins and where it ends.

In other words, O is the first principle which we are always moving from and moving toward. It is to the human mind what light is to the eyes. Light doesn't show us anything in particular, nor is it even visible. Rather, it just illuminates everything else.

As we said, we cannot directly know the Who or what of this ultimate Mystery. Unless the Mystery takes it upon itSelf to not just anonymously enter the stream of time, but to involve itself in human history.

Again, what we call salvation history is this leap of faith -- not just ours, but the prior leap of O, if it can be expressed in this way. It reminds me of a parent who leaps into a burning building to save his child. And God so loved the world...

In this context, all the talk of sin and ransom and justification is quite secondary. Rather, I've got to do something, now! There are seven billion children in that house! You pinheads can argue about the theology later!

So God "responds to a human need" (LG), even if so many of us are so beside ourselves in ideology that we are no longer aware of the need.

What I would like to propose is that, just as there is O, there is a human capacity to perceive, intuit, apprehend, or "receive" it. Giussani calls it the "religious sense," but I just call it (¶). This way you don't have to get into religious debates with the narrowsouled bigot who regards religion as toxic.

Just as one cannot not know of the presence of O, the fact that we know of O implies a Knower. This Knower we call (¶).

So the human journey may ultimately be reduced -- or expanded -- to the endless dynamic of O <--> (¶). This will be obvious except to those for whom it isn't at all obvious. But once they think about it, they'll see that I'm right.

Just as in any other human endeavor, the object determines the method of research. Realism dictates that our knowledge "be imposed by the object." I mean, obvious, right?

For example, if you're going to buy a present for the wife, you get her what she wants, not what you want. So you have to be open to the hints and clues being transmitted by the object:

"[K]nowledge is the encounter between human energy and a presence. It is an event where the energy of human knowledge is assimilated to the object" (LG).

Say it again: an encounter between Human Energy and a Presence. This Presence is O. The Human Energy is you.

There is another way. Or, I would say that there is One Way but a multitude of alternatives. This multitude comes under the heading of Ø. It stands for the infinite variety of ways man can be fundamentally wrong.

Even so, it is a valid point of view if there is no Truth and therefore no Way, i.e., for the true relativist who has the courage of his absence of convictions -- not the mealy mouthed modern leftist who just wants your stuff without having to pay for it, but the real deal who wouldn't waste a moment trying to make the world "better" by ridding it of religion. Rather, a genuine anarchist -- or philosophical sociopath -- proceeds straight to hedonism and the will to power.

Ø equates to cosmic anarchy, and Giussani concedes that it "constitutes one of the great and fascinating temptations of human thought. As I see it, only two types of men capture entirely the grandeur of the human being: the anarchist and the authentically religious man" -- although the former "is as deceitful as it is attractive."

In short, we are either oriented to the Infinite and Absolute; or we can pretend to be it. We can never be O (while always becoming it). We can, however, be Ø. But it's not even a real Ø, since Ø is what we were before God brought us out of Ø. Therefore, the anarchist is really just a poseur, a cosmic reactionary, an anti-O.

To be continued....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Open Wide to Avoid Truth Decay

The Religious Sense. What is it? Obviously man would have no access to the divine in its absence, just as his world would be dark and silent in the absence of eyes and ears.

Spiritual development is coterminous with the heightening or deepening or perfecting of this sensibility.

I prefer the word "sensibility," because it has broader connotations; to merely sense something doesn't necessarily imply understanding. We share the same senses as any rank and foul person, but we do not share the same sensibilities, to put it mildly.

Sensibility is "acuteness of feeling" or "responsive feeling toward something." Not only is it a "refined sensitiveness," but it is reciprocal, involving both perceiving and responding to the more subtle dimension it discloses.

As our senses relate to material phenomena of varying degrees of subtlety, our spiritual sensibility relates to O (which, like the natural world, also manifests in a hierarchy of intelligibile degrees).

As the foreword to the book makes clear, in order to understand anything, man is drawn out of himself. This is summarized in Giussani's reminder that the method of research is imposed by the object.

All ideologues forget this dictum, and end up superimposing their own ideas, theories, and sensibilities over the object -- and ultimately over man and the world. Which only results in the impossibility of discovering either man or world (both of which emanate from O).

We agree with the better sort of scholastic of the High Middle Ages that: all that exists is true. Sounds uncontroversial, but in this post-Kantian world it is considered flatly false, not because it is a tautology but because this thing called "reality" is not reachable by human beings.

Note that with this first Big Lie under our belt, we can safely ignore the notion that the method of research must be imposed by the object, because there are no objects, only the projection of subjective human constructs. Reality has been reduced to perception. Thus, "the opposite of transcendental truth" is "a dream mistaken for reality." Except it quickly turns into a nightmare.

To paraphrase the perspicacious Pieper, the Way of the Tenured doesn't even succeed in opening up any interesting dead ends, for which reason we call it a blind nul de slack.

Yesterday we had a commenter with a radically different sensibility to ours, so perhaps be can teach us something about what has gone so dreadfully wrong in such a person. He begins with the observation that "Christianity is based on the presumption that human beings are inherently separate from the Living Divine Reality, from the World Process, and from each other."

Now, I do not call this a "presumption." If it is a presumption, then we are doing exactly what the ideologue does in projecting his thoughts onto the world.

In my case, I do not presume that I am inherently separate from the Divine Living Reality.

No, I rechecked this morning and discovered once again that there is a... call it an orthoparadoxical intimate-distance between us, and that I am not He (even though his simultaneous immanence implies that I can be nothing but).

I also rediscovered -- to my great relief -- that I was separate from my wife and child, because I had to roust both from bed, and each of them was "resistant," so to speak, as if they were independent objects beyond my direct control.

To put it another way, if they weren't independent from me, my life would be, yes, easier, but definitely poorer, because there would be no one to love but me, and that gets old pretty fast.

(Relative) separation is precisely what creates the possibility of love; except I would put it inversely and say that since love Is, distinction must Be. The alternative is a florid case of pathological cosmic narcissism.

Besides, I personally like the male-female and adult-child polarities. I find them more interesting than the leftist alternative looniverse of adultolescent shemales and femen.

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

Where have we heard this before? Yes, National Socialism. Communism. We also heard it at the DNC, i.e., "the State is the ONLY thing to which we all belong. Or else."

To say that something exists is to say that it is "something apart." After all, if it were not apart, then we couldn't know of its existence. If there are no separate things, then there is no possibility of knowledge or the Truth upon which it is dependent.

Mr. Froth's sub-infantile version of omniscience is actually Absolute Stupidity -- literally, not just as insultainment. A thing is only knowable because it exists, and it can only exist if it is "separate."

Let's move on. But not without a wise crack from Pieper that might well apply to the above Chopraesque pneumababble: it derives its clarity "from nothing else than its lack of depth." In short, nothing is that superficial, let alone everything!

Again, we can know the world because 1) it exists, and 2) because we are attracted to it, and thereby drawn out of our frothing little private idahos.

And this ontological openness goes directly to Giussani's more expansive understanding of Reason. The tenured essentially reduce thought to (lower case r) reason, but as we have discussed in the past, a thing isn't true because it is rational but rational because it is true.

For the G-man, Reason "is opened wide to reality, it takes it all in, noting its connections and implications. Reason discourses about reality, seeks to get inside its perceived meaning, moving from one angle to the next, storing everything in its memory and tending to embrace it all."

We must indeed open wide in order to take in the whole existentialada and become sensible to the one cosmos under O.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ask Not What Being Can Do For You

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

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

Yes and no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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