Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On WTF?! is Wrong with Man: Hx, Sx, Dx, Rx, Tx

Or History, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prescription, and Treatment. But what if the doctor is a cultural pathologist and the disease is mankind?

We begin with the perennial question asked by every person of soundmind, just WTF is wrong with man?!!!

The Bible -- i.e., Genesis -- has its answer, and it's a serviceable one as far as it goes. However, rabbis are still arguing over exactly what man did to incur his existential guilt. In fact, this is one of the pervasive themes of Finnegans Wake, popping up every few pages without ever specifying exactly what HCE is guilty of. He's guilty -- or at least guilt-ridden -- to be sure, but of what?

The whole book is an absurcular "dreamlike saga of guilt-stained... humanity," freely conflating "Lucifer's fall, Adam's fall, the setting sun that will rise again, the fall of Rome, a Wall Street crash. It is Humpty Dumpty's fall, and the fall of Newton's apple.... And it is every man's daily recurring fall from grace" (Campbell).

In these diverse examples, the one common term is fall, which is a simile borrowed from the world of three-dimensional space. In the natural world there exists gravity, which pulls objects downward. Just so, there is something clearly analogous at work in vertical space -- a kind of psychopneumatic gravity which fuels our fall. Or at least that is our preluminary hypotheosis.

Then again, modern physics has revealed that gravity is actually an effect of the curvature of space. I wonder if there is an analogous curvature in vertical space?

I know of at least one enigmatic pneumanaut who says there is, Boris Mouravieff. Can't track down the exact reference, since my books are scattered hither and yon due to the remodel. But he says something to the effect that there is a kind of entropy at work in human affairs, and that in the absence of regular jolts from the booster rocket of grace, we will find ourselves right back where we started -- as if vertical space is indeed curved.

We'll come back to this idea as soon as we get there, but pay attention to the fact that human spiritual growth can only occur in an open system -- in a system open to transcendence, precisely.

So, I wonder if it is helpful to think of the Fall as an effect of the curvature of pneumatic space? This would account for the obscure source of our guilt. In the case of HCE (a symbol of mankind, i.e., Here Comes Everybody),

"he committed an indecorous impropriety which now dogs him to the end of his life-nightmare." At times "he is said to suffer from an obscure disease, suspiciously venereal, a physiological counterpart to his pyschological taint" (bearing in mind that "venereal" is related to venus, or love; HCE seems to be guilty of loving the wrong thing[s]; could it be that his love is oriented in the wrong direction vertically?).

"Unquestionably his predicament is of the nature of Original Sin: he shares the shadowy guilt that Adam experienced after eating the apple. It is akin also to the bewilderment and confusion that paralyze Hamlet, and it is cognate with the neurotic misease of modern times" (ibid).

Ah, now we're getting somewhere, i.e., how this vertical fall manifests in contemporary dis- and misease. Campbell says that HCE "is torn between shame and aggressive self-satisfaction, conscious of himself both as bug and as man.... He is a living, aching arena of cosmic dissonance, tortured by all the cuts and thrusts of guilt and conscience." But enough about Anthony Weiner.

A recurring tribunal accuses HCE of something, but "in the last analysis, the universal judgment against HCE is but a reflection of his own obsessive guilt; and conversely, the sin which others condemn in him is but a conspicuous public example of the general, universally human, original sin, privately effective within themselves."

One is reminded of Chris Matthews' recent magninnymous apology for racism on behalf of All White People. I mean, what's this guy hiding (and not very effectively)?

But let's not lose sight of our target, the maninfestation of spiritual pathology. I mean, we're all on a spiritual path, aren't we? It's just that in some cases the path leads down into a brimrose primstone lane of pathology. Apparently this latter path is wide and broad, while the other is small and narrow.

I think Voegelin was, above all else, a kind of historical, cultural, political, and anthropological pathologist. He recognized that "it is a matter of life and death for all of us to understand the phenomenon" of this pathology, "and to find remedies against it before it destroys us" (Voegelin).

In our day, the pneumopathology -- the vertical fall away from the transcendent order -- primarily appears in the from of ideology:

"Ideology is existence in rebellion against God and man." Conversely, philosophy -- or mental and spiritual health -- "is the love of being through the love of divine Being as the source of its order. The Logos of being is the object proper of philosophical inquiry; and the search for truth concerning the order of being cannot be conducted without diagnosing the modes of existence in untruth" (emphasis mine).

Why the emphasis, Bob? Because "the movement toward truth starts from man's awareness of his existence in untruth" -- one might say awareness of his fallen existence. But in any event, "the diagnostic [Dx] and therapeutic [Tx] functions are inseparable..."

To put it another way, just about any comprehensive history book on most any subject will inform the would-be pathologist that the patient, man, is sick. And the sickness always involves untruth, say, the systematic untruths of Marxism, or fascism, or National Socialism, or scientism, or positivism, or leftism, or Islamism (the latter with some modifications due to its foe-religious trappings).

The symptoms of this illness include distrust, envy, alienation, ingratitude, rage, entitlement, oppression, auto-victimization, and denial of nature, man, and God (these latter three forming a naturally supernatural trinity -- i.e., man is a kind of middle term who is always dialectically related to nature and God).

And the treatment for each of these involves turning around and facing up and out (toward the transcendent order) instead of down and in (to a world of pure -- and therefore meaningless -- immanence).

To be continued...

15 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Conversely, philosophy -- or mental and spiritual health -- "is the love of being through the love of divine Being as the source of its order.

Seemingly related, the Anchoress has this today:

Since a stroke in 2001, Mother Angelica has been fairly quiet, speaking only when she has to. On March 22, 2006, one of the sisters asked Mother for a bit of wisdom. Without hesitating she said:
“He love loves God loves everybody. He who hates God hates everybody.”

7/31/2013 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

All the ideologue knows how to do is critique and denounce, because 1) reality can never match the leftist's fantasies, and 2) because someone else is to blame for the disjunction between reality and fantasy.

7/31/2013 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

This place is turning in to a religious blog.

More good news...

Speaking of All This Adam, Eve and other fallishness, recently Father Stephen figured a leaf through this book about how the earliest Christians read the Bible (mostly Genesis 1-3 and other stuff) is for your own good:

Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives

Chock full of old/new-to-me insights.
Which is to say, plenty will trickle thru The Second Law of SamuelDynamics.

7/31/2013 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

the booster rocket of grace

This reminds me of Toy Story, "falling with style", and Buzz and Woody's rocket ride.

7/31/2013 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Peyton said...

Fr. Stephen had a post -- actually, several -- a while back, about whether our problem is forensic (One "aw shit" cancels a hundred "atta boys") or ontological ("for on that day ye shall surely die"). As a modern, I would rather have God smile benignly than admit that maybe He has a point!

7/31/2013 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

"So, I wonder if it is helpful to think of the Fall as an effect of the curvature of pneumatic space?"

This would then get back to the argument that the fall was "necessary" since if the pneumatic space isn't curved, then you can't have growth.

Granted, if I see an open door to hell, I would prefer that we closed it and boarded it up as opposed to standing around thinking about how it looked and how it worked.

I'm not a fan of parasites (which is what evil is). They're annoying.

So, we have the distinction between the curvature necessary for growth and the outright parasites.

7/31/2013 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not necessary but inevitable. Or, not compelled but inclined.

7/31/2013 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Bob, didn't know if you had seen this:

Surveying the modern intellectual scene, the world of public discourse among the educational elites, I conclude that dishonesty does not only reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of thinking - but it actually reduces applied intelligence - probably by re-wiring the brain.

A little more there.

7/31/2013 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, I linked to it a day or two ago. Guy's got some other interesting stuff on his blog. Always a surprise to find a psychologist who's not nuts.

7/31/2013 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

This is more relevant to Tuesday's post, but the Sultan has a good one up today:

"The ultimate dream of the sort of people who can't sleep at night because they worry that children in India might be able to grow up making more than two dollars a day, is to take away our prosperity for our own good through the total regulation of every area of our lives under the pretext of an imminent environmental crisis."

8/01/2013 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

"Surveying the modern intellectual scene, the world of public discourse among the educational elites, I conclude that dishonesty does not only reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of thinking - but it actually reduces applied intelligence - probably by re-wiring the brain."

It rewires the brain because it hurts. Kind of a scar tissue effect.

So my impression that reading Thomas Friedman actually makes people stupid is fundamentally accurate.

This is why I try to avoid reading gibberish.

8/01/2013 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think TV and college are tied for causing the most widespread brain damage. Who else would read Friedman?

8/01/2013 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said " Always a surprise to find a psychologist who's not nuts."

Meanwhile, in other psychology news: "Boy who killed family turns up 46 years later as college professor:

"CHICAGO - A small Illinois university said on Friday it was standing by a long-time psychology professor recently revealed to have shot and killed his father, mother and teenage sister in Texas more than four decades ago, although he was found not guilty by reason of insanity."

What parent could possibly object to that... just imagine the diversity of lessons their kids might learn.

8/05/2013 05:38:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Then again, modern physics has revealed that gravity is actually an effect of the curvature of space. I wonder if there is an analogous curvature in vertical space?"

That's the image I've long had of Choice. The point where our experience of the world is disconnected from a mechanical adherence to reality, requiring us to insert our judgment where the fulcrum should be... will you choose reality because it is right and true and be lifted up.... or will you pursue what you wish reality were and embrace the fall into your own private Idaho.

My question would be, does the curvature in vertical space slope only upwards/downwards, or withinwards/withoutwards... up or down combined with the inside or outside of a sphere?

Ohhh....

8/05/2013 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

So you have Obama, or one of the Clintons in therapy. What do you say?

Linked here: http://bobagard.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-sicknesses-of-our-modern-age.html

8/06/2013 06:55:00 PM  

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