Thursday, April 18, 2013

Power & Farce

Our next post was originally written in November 2008, shortly after Obama's electoral victory. Therefore, I will try to remove gags that haven't withstood the test of timelessness, while preserving any eerily prescient blognostications that burnish Petey's aura of infallibility. Even so, the post is kind of meh:

Letter XI, The Force, is a timely symbol for the events of the day, as the farces of the left ascend on the political wheel of fortune.

However, we can draw consolation from the fact that -- being that leftism is a closed intellectual and spiritual system -- it is already on the way down as we speak, outward appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.

In short, its end is in its beginning, as the poet said. The higher it ascends in its intoxicated (over)reach for power, the further it will fall. The concrete fact of Obama shall soon enough kill the vacuous idea of Obama. Nature hates a vacuum, while the left requires one, into which they can project their dreams and fantasies. But you need a bigger void than Obama to contain an alternate universe.

The following passage by Tomberg is perfectly apt today: "Plato has never had success as a revolutionary and never will do so. But Plato himself will always live throughout the centuries of human history... and will be in each century the companion of the young and old who love pure thought, seeking only the light which it comprises." In other words, you can never have a mass revolution of individuals oriented to truth, since it requires converting one assoul at a time.

But the left is by definition a mass movement aimed at mass men, which automatically condemns it to mediocrity and banality. It is led by a herd of self-styled elites who cluelesslely imagine themselves superior, but nothing could be more mundane -- and self-contradictory -- than the idea of "mass excellence."

In contrast to Plato, Karl Marx has enjoyed over a century "of astonishing success and has revolutionized the world. He has swept away millions -- those who went to the barricades and trenches in civil wars, and those who went to the prisons, either as jailers or as prisoners."

Really, can you name another philosopher who has enjoyed such a literally smashing and grabbing success in such a short span of time?

The point is, "Plato illumines, whilst Marx sweeps away." Obviously, it is impossible to imagine a person with the slightest spiritual maturity getting caught up in the Obama hysteria, but equally impossible to imagine such a person being caught up in any kind of political hysteria. It is one of the reasons we can never match the diabolical energy of the left. Since the leftist is condemned to the horizontal world, he channels his spiritual energy into politics. As we wrote a couple of years ago [November 2006],

"Regardless of what happens Tuesday, it shouldn’t greatly affect the spiritual equilibrium of the Superior Man, whose invisible combat will continue as usual. Indeed, this is what distinguishes us from the agitated multitude of horizontal men who locate their salvation in politics. Whatever the outcome, our lives will continue to center around our own perfection and salvation, not for narcissistic reasons, but for the simple reason that it is not possible to save others unless we have first saved ourselves. Needless to say, horizontal Republicans will not save us from horizontal Democrats.

"The project of the left is to make us all useful to the collective, when the only possible justification for the collective can lie in its usefulness to the individual -- again, not in a horizontal, egotistical sense, but in a vertical sense. Assuming that life has a transcendent purpose -- and you cannot be human and not make this assumption -- then the purpose of society should be to help human beings achieve this purpose -- i.e., to be useful to the Creator."

"Horizontal man, in denying the vertical, necessarily replaces it with a counterfeit version that substitutes the collective for the One and human will for the Divine authority. Taken to its logical extreme, this manifests as the demagogue, the cult of personality, or the dictator-god who expresses the vitalistic will of the people. But all forms of leftism lie and never stop lying on this continuum, because leftism revolves around a false absolute and a counterfeit vertical."

As Eliot said, the leftist dreams of a system in which it will be unnecessary for anyone to be good. But man is the being who can -- and must -- choose between good and evil.

Likewise, "the moment we talk about 'social conscience,' and forget about conscience, we are in moral danger" (Eliot). Eliminate the idea of moral struggle, and "you must expect human beings to become more and more vaporous."

Since man is placed at the crossroads where he is free to choose between good and evil, this again eliminates man. You might say that for the leftist dreamer, man is strictly unnecessary. In fact, he just gets in the way of the Dream.

For horizontality goes hand in hand with exteriority and outwardness, which is the initial direction of the fall: first out, then down, and gravity takes care of the rest. Horizontal man is down and out, whereas our salvolution lies up and in.

The leftist lives in a semi-conscious narrative only a degree or two above blind instinct. Only man -- inexplicably and miraculously on any scientistic grounds -- can exit the closed system of his own neuro-ideology and enter higher worlds, worlds of truth, beauty, and virtue.

To be in contact with these higher worlds is to be Man. To neglect or deny these anterior worlds is to destroy man, precisely. It is to starve and suffocate man’s spirit by laying waste to his proper environment, the only environment in which he can actually grow into full manhood.

You cannot replace the holy grail of Spirit with the lowly gruel of flatland materialism and expect it to feed the multitudes. Human beings do not draw their spiritual nourishment from outside but from above -- which in turn “spiritualizes” and sacralizes the horizontal.

Vertical man is not susceptible to the leftist's state of perpetual hysteria. As Eliot wrote, "we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that anything will triumph."

Nevertheless, vertical man naturally frets about the deteriorating conditions of the collective interior of the human world -- AKA the ambient culture -- and its seemingly unimpeded slide into barbarism, spiritual exhaustion, scientistic magic, neo-paganism, self-worship, the cult of the body, abstract materialism, and a vapid and rudderless subjectivism.

It is a truism that vertical man paradoxically lives close to the ground, as he has internalized the cautionary tales of Eden, of Icarus, of Babel, and of various episodes of the Honeymooners. In contrast, horizontal man seizes what does not properly belong to him, not just recapitulating the fall but enshrining it in his ideology. It's no longer a bug but a feature.

But when you cast your vote for horizontal man, you are unwittingly chipping away at the foundation of the very tower in which horizontal man is privileged to sit despite his metaphysical ignorance. For in reality, we only have the luxury of superfluous and slumbering horizontal men because of the vertical men -- real men -- who came before and built our civilization brick by brick (except for the cornerstone, which was not made by human hands).

Thus we can see our own possible future by casting our gaze at Europe, which is too high and top-heavy for its own long-forgotten foundations, and is well into the process of toppling into dust. For when horizontal man falls, he doesn’t actually fall far, only back down to the ground where vertical man awaits him.

So render unto the horizontal the things that belong to the horizontal, but do not store your treasures there, where myths corrupt and chickens roost. As always, be as wise as the horizontal serpents who stand on their bellies, but innocent as vertical doves who kneel on wings.

A secularist culture can only exist, so to speak, in the dark. It is a prison in which the human spirit confines itself when it is shut out of the wider world of reality. But as soon as the light comes, all the elaborate mechanism that has been constructed for living in the dark becomes useless. The recovery of spiritual vision gives man back his spiritual freedom. --Russell Kirk

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Dog and Monkey Show

The 'wheel of fortune' is a better analogy for history than the 'evolution of humanity.' --Nicolas Gomez Davila

I originally discussed Letter X, The Wheel of Fortune, in the context of Eugene (the future Fr. Seraphim) Rose's Nihilism, which traces humanity's wails of misfortune through the stages of liberalism --> realism --> vitalism --> and nihilistic destruction. Thus, with the rise of Obama's fortunes the country has been plunged into misery and destitution. So things even out in the end.

In case you can't make out the action in the card, Tomberg says that it consists of "three figures in animal form of which two (the monkey and the dog) turn with the wheel, whilst the third (the sphinx) is beyond the movement of the wheel; he is seated on a platform above the wheel."

Tomberg continues: "The monkey descends in order to rise again; the dog rises in order to descend again." Thus, in the absence of the sphinx above, the wheel "evokes the idea of a vain and absurd game."

Which indeed life is and must be in the absence of the transcendent Third which accompanies us through life. It is without a doubt the most shocking feature of this cosmos, and renders any form of materialism utterly beside the point (of life, of cognition, and of existence itself).

The conquest and colonization of this transcendent position is the true vocation of man, but obviously the vast majority of men prefer the dog and monkey show, which is why the same returns. This theme informs most every page of Finnegans Wake, e.g., phall if you but will, rise you must, Mister Funn, you're going to be fined again, Gricks may rise and Troysirs fall, etc.

History may not repeat, but it c-certainly st-stutters. The plots change but the theme is pretty constant, otherwise we wouldn't recognize ourselves in the mirrors of revelation, history, and literature: True history flows beneath the facts, and both superstuctures and infrastructures are expressions of the climate of the soul (Davila).

Better yet: Those who prophesy more than indefinite alternations of decline and ascent are hiding some dubious product they want to sell for cash (ibid).

Tomberg goes on to enunciate the orthodox Raccoon position, which posits the existence of two metacosmic (meaning that they flow from outside time and space) movements (↓↑) that determine whether one's life will be a dreary wheel of fatuity or a veritable merry growround:

"The one is based on the idea of the Fall, i.e., degeneration and descent from above below."

Importantly -- and this is a cornerstone of the whole cosmic innerprize -- "According to this class of ideas" -- which, of course, is from the vertical perspective -- "it is not the monkey who is the ancestor of man, but rather, on the contrary, it is man who is the ancestor of the monkey," the latter of which "is a degenerate and degraded descendent."

After all, if there is evolution, then by definition there is both involution and devolution (all of which reflect movements on the vertical plane, in, out, up, down, forward, and back).

If you have difficulty with this concept, just remember the self-evident fact that, just as God is not in the cosmos, but rather, vice versa, man is not in the world. Rather, the world is essentially -- or a priori -- in the human soul. It's all in here, just waiting to be discovered and unpacked -- even atheism (but only in the devolving stream of man-to-monkey).

(To be perfectly accurate, God is in the cosmos, but only as a consequence of being beyond it; in other words, immanence is posterior to transcendence. Or, God's transcendence results in a kind of pouring or overflowing into the world. In mirrorlike fashion, consciousness is in the world and the world is in consciousness, but one of these must be prior.)

It cannot be emphasized too strangely that this inwardness is like the bush that burns but is never consumed. In the words of Eckhart, "It is remarkable that anything should pour forth and yet remain within."

This pouring forth takes place in the "deep within," so to speak, and "when I say the inmost, I mean the highest, and when I say the highest, I mean the inmost part of the soul -- there I mean them both together in one," a place "where time never entered" (ibid).

So the Wheel of Fortune depicts a quasi-human entity who is on the way down -- yes, you may think of him as a leftist.

In contrast, the sphinx "represents the plane and stage of being from which the monkey is moving and towards which the dog is approaching." Now, "Does not the monkey lend itself marvelously to serve as a symbol of the animalization which is effected at the expense of the Angelic and human elements of the prototype being?"

Yes, I just said that -- a leftist.

Man is poised between the two extremes of existence, the spiritual and the material. We are lured by vertical memoirs of the former and hypnotically seduced by misplaced hopes in the latter. Schuon has written that man is "condemned to the absolute," but I prefer to think of it as having a passion for wholeness and a gnostalgia for eternity. The one is aspiration, the other inspiration, or exhalation and inhalation. Our very breath reminds us of the rhythm of eternity. Which is why leftism is I-Amphysema.

An insurmountable problem with Darwinian fundamentalism is that it deals with only half -- the lesser half -- of the circle, which ignores "the ultimate as well as the effective cause of the whole process of evolution," without which it is unintelligible (to the awakened intellect, not to tenured bipeds falling up the academic ladder). Darwinism will always be unintelligible in so far as it "refuses to accept the other half of the circle, that of involution."

Understood esoterically, evolution embodies the mystery of "Fall, perdition, redemption and salvation." As such, one must understand that Darwinism really is fully intelligible to people who have exiled themselves from the fulness of reality. But it would be incorrect to say that they have it "half right," for half of reality is actually no reality, being that it is analogous to living in the "outside" while denying the existence of an inside.

The metaphysical Darwinian is actually a passenger of evolution, not a witness, for to witness it is to have transcended it -- i.e., to have realized the larger circle in the flesh. But of course it is an open circle, so that it constitutes the spiraling ontological and temporal structure of being.

Now back to the dialectics of nihilism. Let us stipulate that religion deals with absolute truth, or at least purports to do so. In the end, in the absence of absolute truth, the only option left open to an intellectually honest person is nihilism, because nihilism is simply the doctrine of relativity drawn out to its logical conclusion.

An honest nihilist such as Nietzsche realizes this: God is dead and therefore man becomes God and everything is possible. In the final analysis, the existence of God is the only thing that prevents intellectually consistent good King Leonardos from coming to the same sociopathic end as their Nietzsche brothers.

Scientific or logical truth is by definition relative truth. Thanks to Gödel, we know that there is no system of logic that can fully account for itself, or that can be both consistent and complete. Rather, completeness is always purchased at the price of consistency, while a rigidly consistent system will be incomplete -- say, a consistent program of materialism or determinism. Such a philosophy will leave much of reality -- including the most interesting parts -- outside its purview. This is why Marxism is such an inadequate theory. In explaining everything, it explains nothing. But at least it’s rigidly consistent, like Darwinism.

Once we have abandoned the absolute and descended into relativity, then what necessarily follows is multiculturalism, moral relativism, deconstruction, “perception is reality,” etc. All cultures become equally cherished, with the exception of the culture that believes some cultures are better than others. All truths are privileged with the exception of Truth itself.

Ironically, in the relative world of nihilism, I am necessarily all. The world literally revolves around I, since my truth is absolute. The ultimate questions have no answers except for those I might provide.

This is why leftist academia has become so corrupt, for how can it not be “corrupting to hear or read the words of men who do not believe in truth?” “It is yet more corrupting to receive, in place of truth, mere learning and scholarship which, if they are presented as ends in themselves, are no more than parodies of the truth they were meant to serve, no more than a facade behind which there is no substance” (Rose).

The emptiness of relativism evokes the next stage in the nihilist dialectic, realism. This is a novel type of debased realism that entirely excludes the vertical and affirms that only the horizontal realm is real -- that is, the material, external, and quantifiable world. In one fallen swoop, this philosophy of unreality becomes the paradigmatic lens through which mankind is now supposed to view the world. Thus, we somehow purchase "reality" at the price of our own absolute unreality. How is that supposed to work?

My book begins with a quote from Richard Weaver: “The modernistic searcher after meaning may be likened to a man furiously beating the earth and imagining that the finer he pulverizes it, the nearer he will get to the riddle of existence. But no synthesizing truths lie in that direction. It is in the opposite direction that the path must be followed.” Nevertheless, it is in this downward direction that our fall inevitably takes us.

Here philosophy is officially replaced by modern misosophy: hatred of wisdom. It is a childishly naive ideology that confuses what is most obvious with what is most true, and what is most fundamental with what is most real. The cosmos is officially turned upside-down and inside-out, incoherently elevating insentient matter to the the ultimate.

As Father Rose writes, “Worship of fact is by no means the love of truth; it is, as we have already suggested, parody. It is the presumption of the fragment to replace the whole; it is the proud attempt to build a Tower of Babel, a collection of facts, to reach to the heights of truth and wisdom from below.

"But truth is only attained by bowing down and accepting what is received from above. All the pretended ‘humility’ of Realist scholars and scientists... cannot conceal the pride of their collective usurpation of the throne of God...”

Such an individual “becomes a fanatical devotee of the only reality that is obvious to the spiritually blind: this world.” Human beings are reduced to races or classes, spiritual love to animal sex, higher needs to lower desires, while the earth is elevated to Goddess, the dramatic to the significant, the celebrity to the important. A new kind of human monster emerges -- for a monster is simply a human being existing outside the human archetype -- and takes his place a bit lower than the beasts.

And Those who live in the twilight of history imagine that the day is being born when night is approaching. --Davila

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thoughts Without a Thinker and Thinkers Without a Thought

Oh yeah. Before being pulled into a meditation on the cosmic order reflected in architecture, we had been meditouting the cosmic order reflected in the Tarot, and were just about to open up Letter IX, The Hermit.

Tomberg claims that a person who is "truly young, i.e., living for an ideal," is instinctively drawn to this figure. This attraction is similar to the Jungian concept of archetypal projection.

The archetypes are "within" -- you might even say they form the implicit structure of withinness -- but must first be located without. Upon contact with an exemplar, we have a kind of interior recollection that lights up the inner archetype.

In fact, it reminds me of an aphorism: When imagination and perception coincide, the soul is burned (Davila). Without the experience, the archetype will remain an empty category -- a letter addressed from the Self to one's self, but lost in transit.

The archetypal Hermit is "a wise and good father... who has passed through the narrow gate and who walks the hard way -- someone whom one could trust without reserve and whom one could venerate and love without limit" (Tomberg).

The reason why there are so many false teachers is that we have an innate need for actual(ized) ones -- just as counterfeit money depends upon the existence of the real thing. But since our culture has largely -- and proudly -- severed itself from its own wisdom tradition, the Deepaks of the world rush in to fill the void. Which expands the negative space of the void. Existence actually becomes more "thin" and weightless.

The Hermit "possesses the gift of letting the light shine in the darkness -- this is his lamp." And here is a critical point: "he has the faculty of separating himself from the collective moods, prejudices and desires of race, nation, class and family -- the faculty of reducing to silence the cacophony of collectivism vociferating around him in order to listen to and understand the hierarchical harmony of the spheres."

You know, like the sober and lucid Chris Matthews, who cut through the confusion of yesterday's events and clearly discerned the hand of white racist Republicans.

Likewise, the Hermit "possesses a sense of realism which is so developed that he stands in the domain of reality... on three [feet], i.e., he advances only after having touched the ground through immediate experience and at first-hand contact without intermediaries." This is none other than 〇-->(n), or the transformation of prior reality into thought, or being to knowledge.

So the Hermit is an archetypal reflection of the good father, behind or above whom is the Father in heaven. The Hermit is a little word from our nonlocal sponsor, so to speak.

As UF says, he also represents the method of obtaining valid spiritual knowledge, in that he is able to synthesize within himself the three great antinomies with which any thinking man is confronted, and which any efficacious philosophy must reconcile. These are the complementary pairs of 1) idealism <---> realism; 2) realism <---> nominalism; and 3) faith <---> empirical science.

Consider the first antinomy, idealism <---> realism. Most philosophers come down on one side or the other of this pair -- and when you think about it, you really have only three choices: idealism, realism, or both.

Actually there is a fourth option, which is total confusion: an arbitrary, a pre-philosophical, and ad hoc blending, based upon the needs of the moment. Leftism in general and scientism in particular fall into this category.

Tomberg writes that "the idealist (e.g. Hegel) considers everything as so many forms of thought, whilst the realist (e.g. Spencer) affirms that objects of knowledge have an existence which is independent of thought."

In the case of realism, "it is the world which bears the word and it is the human intellect which listens." But in the case of idealism, "it is the intellect which bears the word and it is the world which is its reflection" (MOTT).

Who is right? Boxers or briefs?

"Let us not prostrate ourselves either before the world or before the intellect, but let us prostrate ourselves in adoration of the common source of both the world and the intellect -- God: God whose Word is at one and the same time the 'true light that enlightens every man coming into the world' and the creator of the world -- 'all things were made through him, and nothing that was made was made without him" (Tomberg).

The source of both world and intellect is Word, or Logos, "whose objective manifestation is the world of prototypes underlying the phenomenal world, and whose subjective manifestation is the light or prototype of human intelligence." You see, the universe meets in the middle of the monkey, and we are the monkey in the middle, i.e., between world and God.

This formula gets us out of many philosophical pickles, and arms us against satan's deadly pickoff move. For example, our former scientistic jester would presumably insist that a random contingency -- the human subject -- is able to affirm valid knowledge of reality, which, as soon as one actually thinks about it, disproves itself. Yer' out!

Therefore, one must not think in order to continue believing it; or else engage in counterfeit thought. But why bother thinking anyway, since the subject isn't really real, and can have no valid knowledge of reality? Why not just sit around serenading your cat?

Nor could objects be really real, in the sense that we couldn't really know them. Not really. Rather, we would be trapped in Kant's phenomenal world -- ultimately just our own nervous system -- with no access to the noumenal. But with the Hermit's approach, both objects and the subject who knows them become really real, since they become real in the Word. In turn, assimilating this reality into the Word is to "redeem the world."

The next antinomy is realism <---> nominalism -- which can be confusing, since this type of realism is the opposite of the type discussed above.

Recall that realism originally referred to the objective reality of abstract universals or platonic forms. A realist in this sense sense of the term is an extreme idealist, e.g., Plato. For Plato, the idea is more real than the things of the world, which are just "copies." But for the nominalist, these so-called objective ideas are nothing more than words which have no independent reality.

Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but this seemingly innocuous fork in the philosophical road eventually wends its way to the horrors of deconstruction, multiculturalism, moral relativism, "positive liberties," "gay marriage," Gosnell, etc., the whole leftist catastrophe.

For example, marriage is a natural right that exists prior to the state, and it is not for the state to invent or impose the archetypes that distinguish us from the beasts and make us human. Therefore, to promulgate the fantasy that members of the same sex can live in a state of marriage is a barbarous assault on reality. It is not just offensive and bigoted, but magical, totalitarian, and phobic of reality.

Any scientist who actually takes the trouble to think deeply is a philosophical realist. For example, there is no great mathematician who is not an explicit or implicit Platonist. G. H. Hardy, in his A Mathematician's Apology, wrote that "It would be difficult now to find an educated man quite insensitive to the aesthetic appeal of mathematics.... A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas."

If we consider the whole idea of creation -- i.e., the cosmos....

Wait, let's stop right there: the idea of the cosmos. For that is what it is: an idea. No one has ever seen the cosmos. But it is incorrect to say we just "assume" it exists. Rather, we know in our bones that it exists -- that is, the strict totality of all interacting objects and events, which is a shadow of the Absolute.

There is no part of reality that exists independently of this Absolute. The interior wholeness we see at every level of reality is simply a fractal reflection, or distant echo, of this Absolute. It is what accounts for the organicism of organisms, the nonlocality of locality, the unity of the human subject, and the inner coherence of science.

The realist (i.e., idealist) says that "the general is anterior to the particular" (deduction). The nominalist says that "the particular is anterior to the general" (induction).

Here again, we see how the latter plays out at the local level, with disastrous consequences. For example, for the left, the collective is more real than the individual, even though nowhere does the Constitution speak of groups, much less group rights. Rather, the Constitution is of, by, and for individuals.

The Founders knew that the individual was real and that this individuality was rooted in liberty, which is the very means through which we become more real -- or realize our reality. It is this idea of liberty which is ultimately real, and which creates the possibility of real individuals (in other words, without liberty, our ideal "created" self will not be able to actualize in time; or, Image cannot embark upon the journey to Likeness).

But for the left, it is only in its concrete particulars that liberty is real, i.e, "positive liberties." In other words, liberty is not real unless the government somehow creates it and gives it to you in the form of cash, favors, birth control, dead babies, etc. You might say that negative liberty preserves the ideal reality of liberty, whereas positive liberty ends in its negation.

For the nominalist, truth, beauty and goodness do not exist "as objective realities, and are only a matter of taste," that great leveler of the hierarchical cosmos. One cannot argue with a nominalist, because their first cognitive act is to dismantle the very cognitive scaffolding that makes higher thought possible.

In truth, we clearly need both, i.e., realism and nominalism: "We cannot dispense with realism if we attach any value to the existence of objective truth (science) and trans-subjective truth (religion)."

So, what is the proper relation between these two categories? Tomberg: "The 'problem' of universals was resolved in the spiritual history of mankind by the fact of the Incarnation, where the fundamental universal of the world -- the Logos -- became Jesus Christ, who is the fundamental particular of the world."

Here, the universal of universals, the very principle of intelligibility, the Logos, became the particular of particulars, the very prototype of personality and personhood, Jesus Christ.

Which is why for the Raccoon, spiritual knowledge is embodied knowledge or it is no knowledge at all, just nice sounding words.