Friday, April 26, 2013

Voluntary Slavery: Freedom from Freedom

I don't know how long this remodeling is going to last. A couple more weeks, at least. One Thing has been leading to another Thing, e.g., changes to the pool situation requiring extensive rewiring, so the house doesn't blow up. So until it's all over -- or until I'm totally broke, whichever comes first -- it's probably going to be short rations.

Pieper makes an interesting point about slavery -- the type of mental slavery that, for the left, isn't a bug but a feature.

For the left promises Liberation by seducing the more weak-minded among us with promises of a type of childish freedom that no state -- by definition -- can confer. And certainly no democratic state can survive if it is constituted of weak and dependent children.

Pieper notes that the "contrast between galley slaves and free men has nothing to do with the social phenomenon of slavery." Rather, "there is a concept of slavery which no social changes, no emancipation of the slaves, can wipe off the face of the earth."

This is especially true in a leftist culture that creates incentives to identify with one's own enslavement instead of taking advantage of liberty. Slavery also means dependence, which for many people is much less persecutory and oppressive than independence. If you turn a child from the house and tell him he's free, he's not going to be happy about it. Which is where the left comes in, by protecting adult children from the vagaries of mature independence.

Pieper notes that "what is truly human is never the average." Human nature cannot be discovered via demographics, by looking at the behavior of Mass Man. Humans, since they are uniquely situated in vertical space, are are as free to perfect their nature as they are to flee from it. Just because everyone engages in the latter, doesn't mean it's a good idea.

In short, there is a standard of "what man himself is capable of being," and in my opinion, the very existence of this standard obliges us to move toward and conform to it. In other words, if we can fulfill our potential, then we must try to do so. To avoid this struggle is not only to fail, but to miss the whole point of life.

In the dialogue, this lesson is conveyed by Socrates' two very different speeches. The first is plausible enough, a reflection of the cynical sophistication of his audience. But like an Obama speech or a paper by a liberal academic, it has no interest in reality or truth, and only exists to glorify its author.

A normal person would feel shame at such a betrayal, but this is a higher normality defined in light of what man is to become. Which is why an Obama or a Clinton are so shameless in their lying -- which they must be in order to pull it off.

Nor are they ashamed -- as any normal person would be -- at the plaudits they receive from the grazing multitude they have successfully hypnotized and seduced. Why would you want the acclaim of idiots? And what does it say about you?

But Socrates is ashamed of his first speech, even to the point of feeling impure. He "wishes to recant his shamefully false speech by a second speech on Love.... Socrates steps forth from the fogs into the clear light of heaven, as it were. In place of a literary exercise, we have the genuine emotion of one who is saying what must be said.... We find ourselves breathing fresher, cooler, purer air."

To be continued...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

First They Came for the Dumpsters...

It seems to me that this book by Josef Pieper, Enthusiasm & Divine Madness, speaks to our current subject of Death, but I don't yet know how. Just a suspicion at this point.

The book is a meditation on Plato's Phaedrus, a dialogue on whether it is a good idea for pedophiles to be in love with their victims. A guy named Lysias says No, just be detached and dispassionate about the whole thing, while Socrates disagrees.

Am I missing something? I mean, right off the top of my head I can think of a third option.

At any rate, Plato's evocation of Athenian society very much reminds me of the contemporary left's culture of death, with its childishness, pseudo-intellectualism, and irony toward everything except itself. Pieper writes of how Plato depicts the callow intellectuals of the day: "Theirs is a world of sophisticated irreverence and detachment, of enlightened health doctrines and simultaneous depravity."

Enlightened health doctrines and simultaneous depravity. What a perfect description of the contemporary left in general, and of my city in particular. Here in Calabasas, the city council has infamously banned cigaret smoking even outdoors, and has also outlawed plastic bags in grocery stores. I'm having to deal with these fascists at the moment, because of the remodeling.

In fact, looking back on it, it was probably a mistake for me to call the city planner a fascist, because it seems to be slowing down approval of the Plan.

We came to their attention due to having a dumpster on the street from an Unauthorized Company. Something to do with a certain environmental policy that the trash company must promise to uphold in Calabasas. That's when I called him a fascist. "I know, I know. just following orders. Where have we heard that before?"

First they came for the dumpsters, and I said nothing...

The Phaedrus, according to Pieper, "is from the start governed by the enthusiasm of the younger generation for Sophistry. Perhaps we should term it fascination and enchantment rather then enthusiasm."

Either way, we can see that human nature hasn't changed, and that even 2500 years ago there were plenty of youthful, low-information Obama supporters.

Pieper writes that sophistry is indeed a phenomenon we "encounter in every epoch": "It is inherent in the nature of Sophistry to expound the avant-garde ideas of any given time. It always presumes to be exactly what is necessary and correct 'now'; to be the timely and modern thing. Sophistry and topicality are co-ordinate concepts in a highly specific sense."

So, sophistry is always temporocentric, which is why, for example, Obama's so-called "evolution" on state-imposed redefinition of marriage -- which amounts to a ban on human nature, or to mutation by decree -- is really just another typical example of leftist regression. It has nothing to do with human norms or with the nature of reality, and everything to do with popular sophistry and crass political utility -- "as though," in words of Socrates, "it were good sense to deceive a few miserable people to win their applause."

Well, I suppose I'd better hit the publish button before the electricians flip the switch...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Put Away the Scythe, and Nobody Gets Hurt!

We're still negotiating with that grim ferryman, Death, but he is truly impossible. Refuses to budge on whisking us to the other side, but refuses to tell us anything about what awaits us there: For me to know and you to find out.

Or not!

Childish, really.

Speaking of passive-aggressive non-responses, Tomberg relates Death to the philosophistries of mechanism and materialism, which are "not at all the realm of answers, but rather the graveyard for real questions." Why is that? Because, for example,

The laws of biology alone do not have fingers delicate enough to fashion the beauty of a face (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

To embrace scientistic reductionism as a worldview (as opposed to a method) is to more or less live as semi-zombie, in which case one is not so much alive as merely undead. And the painful thing about being undead is that one will be aware of an absence -- a present absence -- but not be able to name it. One will seek to fill the absence, but in the manner of a blind raccoon looking for a metaphor.

I am reminded of the preface to Code of the Woosters, in which the author observes that "High seriousness about [Wodehouse] brings to mind poor Professor Scully," who attempted "to describe a smile scientifically." The professor "doggedly dissected 'the drawing back and slight lifting of the corners of the mouth, which partially uncover the teeth, the curving of the naso-labial furrows...' Such an approach is not actively harmful, but it suffers from naso-labianism -- leaving the mystery of Wodehouse's genius intact."

Don Colacho: To be stupid is to believe that it is possible to take a photograph of the place about which a poet sang. And

If determinism is real, if only that can happen which must happen, error does not exist. But

Stupidity appropriates what science invents with diabolical facility. As a result,

Whoever has understood a notion from the natural sciences has understood all that can be understood; whoever has understood a notion from the humanities has understood only what he can understand (ibid).

Things are no different today than in Professor Scully's day. Ask a victim of materialitis or reductionosis what a smile is, and they could in good faith respond that it involves "the contraction of muscles in the region of the mouth and cheeks, and this latter through electrical impulses transmitted through the nerves from the centre called the 'brain.'" The real cause of the smile -- joy, or humor, or satisfaction -- is defined out of existence.

This misguided approach is similar to trying to understand a telephone conversation by analyzing the electrical impulses that pass back and forth through the wires. The most complete analysis will of necessity be entirely inadequate.

The same applies a fortiori to the mind/brain relationship. Again, a smile is a local manifestation of joy, or humor, or bemusement, which are nonlocal (in the sense that they cannot be found in one unambiguous "place") and which "set in motion both the muscles of the mouth and the electrical impulses of the nerves." As mentioned somewhere in the bʘʘk, every reductionistic explanation harbors a cognitively pathological dualism that results in one side of the dualism sneaking into the other side without acknowledgment.

One might say that, like a psychotic patient, the materialist's explanation is always put forth with the utmost confidence by that which is specifically denied in the explanation. Making a question go away is not the same as having answered it. As Tomberg points out, the question remains but is simply offloaded from conscious to unconscious planes, with no proper connecting flight. These people are carrying all kinds of metaphysical baggage, but don't even know it.

If you ever want to know why self-styled rational people believe in such weird things -- global warming, zero-sum economics, tea partiers are extremists, blacks can't function without socialism, etc. -- this is why. They descend into an incoherent form of unconscious thinking, because one can no more make the unconscious go away than one could make the sympathetic nervous system go away. All one can do is discipline and channel it, the same way one creates electricity from a wild river.

(The following parabular passage is somehow related to the above: "The belief that only conscious actions are 'real' is common among collectivists and economic creationists who can't understand unintended consequences, but this fallacy is akin to believing that drinking a glass of water on a hot day benefits only those who understand the chemical reactions of H2O in human body.")

While ordinary psychoanalysis does an adequate job of describing the lower vertical, in so doing, it generally reduces the upper to the lower vertical. However, one of the purposes of religion is to provide a framework with which to generatively explore the upper vertical. And in fact, it also does a fine job (at least in potential) of structuring and conferring meaning upon the lower vertical.

I'm thinking of all the extraordinary wisdom embodied in, say, the Talmud or in classical elucidations of the cardinal virtues and deadly sins. Awhile back we did a series on the esoteric meaning of the Ten Commandments. Same idea. Just as there is such a thing as a healthy body -- obviously -- there is also such a thing as a healthy soul and spirit. But if one denies the soul and spirit up front, then should one remain spiritually healthy, it will be by accident, not design. Which has a bearing on the subject of death, because

For the man who lives in the modern world it is not the soul’s immortality in which it is difficult to believe, but in its mere existence. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

So many decent but useful idiots of the left hypocritically retain religious habits and inclinations with no religious belief to support them. For example, they insist that marriage is sacred -- so sacred, in fact, that we should extend it to relationships in which it is literally impossible to live in the state of marriage, e.g., polygamous or homosexual.

It is analogous to saying, "eating salads is healthy. Therefore, I will place my cat on a strict diet of fresh vegetables." Good logic. Wrong species.

Which pretty much sums up the left. It reminds me of a scene from the Larry Sanders show, when his bitter agent says "our job would be so easy if it weren't for fucking talent!" Leftism would be so great if if weren't for effing humans! Humans are the problem. Right, so let's give them more power over us!

Most people don't have the time or ability to be metaphysicians, which is one of the practical blessings of religion. If one eliminates religion, one only ushers in bad metaphysics and values, with nothing to oppose them. See 1960s for details. See Occupy Wall Street for examples. See Obama for implications.

Way out of time, and we didn't even get anywhere. Oh well, to be continued...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What Only Dead Men Know

Letter XIII, our old frenemy Death. What to make of his sinister and persecutory silence? How to unscrew his inscrutability without having to actually meet him?

Silvio / I gotta go / find out something only dead men know. --Dylan

Death is one of those existential parameter thingys that the mind can never contain, but rather, contains us -- like time or space or truth or sexuality or desire. For example, if a man manages to completely contain his sexuality -- his id, as it were -- it can only be because he is dead in that area. More generally, the life force obviously contains us, not vice versa.

Sex and death are intwomately related, for if we didn't sexually reproduce, we wouldn't die, at least for any biological reason. Rather, we would live endlessly, except that it would be a horizontal endlessness, which is not to be confused with eternity (which is outside conventional temporality).

Furthermore, without the boundary of death, we couldn't know nothing, which is the beginning of knowledge. In other words, not knowing must precede the acquisition of knowledge -- which is why, for example, Obama doesn't know anything. He's way too full of himself -- okay, full of shit -- to ever tolerate the state of patient emptiness required of intellectual -- or spiritual -- curiosity. I mean, sometimes one has to wander in such bewilderness for 40 days or even 40 years before seeing the light.

Animals can only know something, but even then, they don't know that they know, because they don't know that they die. Only man can know that he he doesn't know, and thereby clear a potential space for knowledge. Out of this deathly silence will grow words and ideas of various kinds.

Tomberg says the serpent promises only a purely biological pseudo-eternal life when he tells Adam and Eve they "shall not die." Thus, technically he wasn't lying, because a vertical lie may well be a horizontal truth (and vice versa), as our trolls never stop teaching us.

In our bʘʘk, we wrote of the extreme unlikelihood of anything resembling human intelligence evolving elsewhere in the cosmos, for human intelligence isn't just a matter of "big brains." Far from it.

Humanness emerges within the trimorphic space of an immature and incomplete nervous system in dynamic rapport with an "empathic" mother and "protecting" father (and when we speak of "mother" and "father," we are doing so from the infant's archetypal perspective, wherein the early experience of empathy becomes mother, and is directed into that preconceptual archetype or "empty category"; in this view, mother emerges from baby, and then father from mother -- more on which below).

Tomberg writes of the connection between, on the one hand, sleeping, forgetting, and death; and on the other, waking, remembering, and life.

For example, psychoanalysis has long posited the idea that chronic insomnia can result from an inability to die to the day. One lives by day, but then must let it dissolve and scatter into the easeful death of sleep, only to be resurrected comeday morm or come to mournhim (Joyce).

For other people, they cannot die to the unconscious because of the monsters that lie there in in wait and haunt the interior world. This is a routine result of a traumatic childhood, of things that happened -- and more commonly, what didn't happen, in the form of a secure relationship with the maternal environment/container.

A "monster" is always an indiscriminate mixture of the categories of life and death, resulting in a grotesque entity that has no proper archetype. All the classic monster movies share this feature of a living death or of death living: Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Dracula, the Mummy.

Perhaps this provides a clue about death -- that it isn't so much the opposite of life, but a dark form of it. One might say that Easter celebrates Life amidst death, while Halloween commemorates Death in life. Probably no coincidence that this unholy-day has become much more popular with the increasing secularization of our culture, i.e., the culture of death (which is at root a culture of journalistic sleeping and academic forgetting).

I remember reading an interesting book -- here it is, Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality -- which suggests that most funeral rites evolved around concerns of making certain that the dead stay that way -- that the corpse isn't merely dead, but really most sincerely dead.

So, to sleep is to forget the day and awaken to the world of the Dreamer: "One forgets, one goes to sleep, and one dies." In turn, "One remembers, one awakes, and one is born" (MOTT).

In a previous post, I discussed the idea that from a developmental perspective, one may turn Genesis on its head and see the infant-Adam as the creator of God and everything else.

In fact, from a certain perspective, this is how it must be, and to the extent that one fails to understand this distinction, one may well fail to appreciate the difference between God and infantile omnipotence.

(Funny, it reminds me of a song I heard yesterday by Peter Green, called Corners of My Mind: And darkness was around / and he could not hear a sound / no, there wasn't any light / no day or any night / then thunder came from lightning / and the thunder brought the sound / when I opened up my eyes / beneath me was the ground.)

Unfortunately, not only is this conflation commonplace, but it might even be the norm. Certainly the Islamist god is indistinguishable from an enraged infant, while the infantile dreams of the left are suspiciously similar to those conjured by the omnipotent and implacable gods of the nursery, whose incessant demands are few: I WANT!, MORE!, and AGAIN!

Looked at in this way, the human baby's shocking discovery of Adam and Eve -- or of a Mother and Father separate from the baby, with wills, desires, and interests of their own -- is an insult to one's omnipotence. How dare Mommy and Daddy exist separate from my magical wishes!

Therefore the baby-god banishes them from the infantile paradise, where the infant restores his "oneness with God." No coincidence therefore that the way back to paradise is blocked by a contingent of battle-seasoned cherubs with flaming swords.

To fall asleep is not just to give up "everything," but to do so in the faith that things will somehow be cleansed or purified and transformed when we are reincarnated and reborn in the morning. So sleep again has this digestive or metabolic property; which implies that death and forgetting do as well.

And in fact, one doesn't have to comb very far through the esoteric literature to discover this idea, that the initial postmortem state is very much analogous to the metabolic function of dreaming, except that it will range over our entire life, so that whatever was "inessential" is consigned to the flames, while what is essential lives in eternity.

Speaking of which, I just stumbled on this interesting looking book that I may order, called Life after Death according to the Orthodox Tradition.

Out of time...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Until the Last Liberal Professor is Strangled with the Entrails of the Last MSM Journalist

Letter XII, The Hanged Man, is another key archetype for us, as it speaks to the nonlocal happitat in which the Raccoon prefers to dwell -- or ne'er d'well, anyway -- which is upended roughly halfway between -- how to put it without being precipitously understood? -- between 〇 and ( ), or between the celestial and terrestrial planes.

(Recall from the book that ( ) stands for the world, which, in the absence of 〇, is impossibly broken, incomplete, empty, discontinuous and finally absurd; one might say that it is merely the exteriorization of Ø, of non-being.)

Tomberg says that this card "plunges us into the heart of the problem of the relationship between man and gravitation, and the conflicts that this relationship entails."

Something analogous to gravity operates at all levels of the cosmos and in all degrees of being, both interior and exterior, from the solar system, to culture, to politics, to personal relationships, to the self, and even to mind parasites.

In each case there is an attractive force that simultaneously draws subjects and objects toward other subjects or objects and toward their own "center of gravity"; we might say that one is an exteriorizing force, the other interiorizing (or centripetal and centrifugal).

We are not so much interested in the attraction of objects -- which is in the realm of physics -- as of subjects, for this is where the real mystery lies.

For example, once one becomes aware of the true self, it will begin to attract the kinds of relationships and experiences it requires to in order to grow. If one fails to live out of this interior center, then no matter what happens in life, it will be an incoherent stream of experiences with no possibility of synthesis into a higher unity. One can always paper over discontinuities, inconsistencies, holes, psychic envelopes, dead spots, unborns, etc., but there is a technical term for this: papering over, I guess.

Here again, this is why liberty is so critical to the articulation and development of the self. The self is something that pre-exists in the form of potential, but can only develop and be known through experience.

You might say that this implicate self must be exteriorized so as to be interiorized. It must be free to choose the objects, relationships, and experiences it requires in order to "be." This is why one man's paradise is another man's exile or prison -- even a living death. This is also why there can be no real spirituality in the absence of freedom, and in turn why leftism is intrinsically retrograde.

And when we say "real," we mean something like participation in being; in the spiritual realm it is not a matter of "to be or not to be." Rather, there is a continuum between the two. Vertically speaking, one might say we live in the phase space between these two great attractors, which I symbolize in the book as 〇 and Ø. As such, there are two final causes that operate in us; you could even call them eros and thanatos, or love and death. Probably Adam and Eve made a lousy choice, and here we are.

(A point of order: the 〇 <---> ( ) dialectic has to do with God and world, the latter of which is still "real," whereas the 〇 <---> Ø has slightly different implications, since the latter is "nothing," or absence of being; ( ) is at least "concrete," whereas Ø is merely vacuous -- like the difference between, say, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, respectively.)

One way to look at it is to consider the fact that man only discovers himself -- i.e., acquires self-consciousness -- as a consequence of his partial alienation, his separateness from the rest of creation. Without some sort of division, there can be no higher unity.

Vaclav Havel writes that Man is the being who "has fallen out of Being and therefore continually reaches toward it, as the only entity by which and to which Being has revealed itself as a question [?!], as a secret and as meaning."

Again, we are suspended between the terms, or limits, of Being, and can seek to heal this separation in two different (vertical) directions. Havel: Man's "drama unfolds in the rupture between his orientation 'upward' and 'backward' and a constant falling 'downward' into now.'"

Either way, the human subject "is continually stepping outside itself in order to return to itself once more and, through this 'circulation,' it inevitably matures -- becomes itself." It is a "permanent balancing act" between the recovery of Being vs. being dragged "down into the world of things, surfaces, frantic consumption and self-absorption" (ibid.): man becomes a prisoner of his own mental productions instead of a gentleman slacker floating on the sea of Being.

As the death-stream draws us down to the terminal moraine of our lower nature, the life-stream pulls us in, up, and out, toward our nonlocal source above. Even the most cynical atheist cannot live -- not for a moment -- without this life-stream, for it is what pulls him toward truth, or love, or meaning -- even toward his hatred of God (since the latter is usually rooted in allegiance to an invented truth instead of attraction to Truth as such).

Tomberg agrees that "the domain of our freedom... shows the real and active presence of gravitation of a spiritual order." This is why people are attracted to God and religion to begin with, "for what is the phenomenon of religion if not the manifestation of spiritual gravitation towards God -- i.e., towards the centre of spiritual gravitation of the world?"

We cannot see gravity, any more than we can observe the wind. However, we can obviously feel the effects of gravity and wind. On the interior plane, these effects are subtle but nevertheless clear, especially as one learns to amplify them and to live within their attractor space. It's as clear as falling in love. No one teaches us how to do that, for it is not something we could ever learn. If it didn't occur in earliest infancy, it couldn't recur later on.

Speaking of falling, Tomberg situates mankind's fall within this space. i.e., "the passage from a spiritual gravitation system, whose centre is God, to a terrestrial gravitational system, whose centre is the serpent."

That's certainly how it feels to me. Don't you feel those twin pulls? And don't you remember as a child, the first awareness of the pull into darkness? I remember it distinctly. I think it repeats itself in different forms at different stages of life -- assuming one actually grows through different developmental stages beyond the culturally conditioned ego of the Mass Man. Each stage has a central "temptation" which is a fractal image of the first. In each case, we must choose the Light.

The Gospel designates the two attractors as "heaven" and "this world," or "the kingdom of God" and "the kingdom of the prince of this world." Or again, we could just call them O and Ø; or "slack" and "the conspiracy." Or liberal and progressive (HT American Digest).

Likewise, this can be thought of as a sword that cuts mankind right down the middle, between the "children of this world" and "the children (or the sons) of light." Here again, standard issue cʘʘnvision -- so long as we haven't voided the warranty -- allows us to know in an instant when we are in the presence of the One or the Øther. It couldn't be more obvious now, could it?

Tomberg notes that there are actually three main categories, and I see that these correspond to the three gunas of Vedanta, which we won't get into. But there is the "carnal" (or vital) man who "lives in the grip of gravitation of 'this world' at the expense of the gravitation of 'heaven'"; there is the "psychic man" who "lives in equilibrium between the two fields"; and then there is the spiritual or pneumatic man "who lives under the sway of the gravitation of 'heaven.'"

Frankly, I no longer have any patience for the the first type, who, like barbarians ransacking a cathedral, are "fundamentally transforming" the country into their own vulgar image. Just part of this toxic cloud I've been passing through, I guess. You know the feeling: let the dead bury the tenured, after throttling the latter with the entrails of the last MSM journalist.