Friday, August 02, 2013

Obama's Credo: If You Can't Denounce Reality, What Can You Denounce?

Yesterday we spoke of our existential prison, in which we are seemingly bound by relativity, hierarchy, identity, and contingency: in short, we are not God, we float between the terrestrial and celestial, and we are who we are unless we are (more or less) someone else.

Of course, not everyone regards our cosmic home as a prison. There are other metaphors one could employ, for example, the Jewish idea of "exodus" (from slavery to freedom) or the closely related Christian idea of a "journey" (from man to God). There is also the Hindu/Buddhist idea of liberation from ignorance or awakening from illusion, or the SubGenius principle of increasing one's Slack.

Only the Gnostic -- in whatever form -- sees the world as a hopeless prison. Premodern gnostics attempted to escape the prison via radical transcendence, whereas modern politico-religious ones do it via radical immanence.

Looked at this way, one can appreciate the formal identity of, say, the ancient cult of Manichaeism and the modern one of Anthropocentric Global Warming.

In both cases, the cultist leaves his human limitations behind -- for he cannot tolerate the tension of living in the ambiguous transitional space of consciousness and history -- and imposes a definitive form on reality. For him, "The Beginning was a mistake to begin with and the end of the gnostic story will bring it to its End" (Voegelin).

Look how Obama, for example, keeps denouncing the very conditions he has aggravated -- e.g., unemployment, "income disparity," race relations, etc. He does this because he doesn't know any other way to engage the world except to attack it. Critique and denounce, critique and denounce, even if he is implicitly denouncing himself.

Remember a few of weeks ago, when Clinton denounced the Defense of Marriage Act that he had signed into law? Same deal. He also denounced the era of big government before he helped expand it to unprecedented size and intrusiveness by supporting Obama. Doesn't matter. He'll denounce it again when Hillary runs for president and needs to attack the future reality she helped bring into being.

Remember, it's not really the problem they attack, but reality. Who, for example, is naive enough to believe the left actually cares about racial discrimination, or education, or unemployment, or healthcare, or women?

In truth, there is always "ample reason to be dissatisfied with the order of existence" (Voegelin). We all want to improve things, but the Gnostic's "resistance to disorder transforms itself into a revolt against the very process of reality and its structure...."

And "at the extreme end of the revolt in consciousness, 'reality' and the 'Beyond' become two separate entities, two 'things,' to be magically manipulated by suffering man for the purpose of either abolishing 'reality' altogether and escaping into the 'Beyond,' or of forcing the order of the 'Beyond' into 'reality'" (ibid.).

The latter is the preferred method of modern political gnostics, and is their motive for the ceaseless critique of reality, even -- or especially -- when they are responsible for it. For example, the War on Poverty began in what, 1965? During a senate hearing, President Johnson's point man in the war, Sargent Shriver, was asked how long he thought the War would need to go on before eradicating poverty: oh, about ten years.

Instead, they have set up an ineradicable infrastructure for generating and perpetuating poverty, and with it, the assurance that they will always have that reality to attack.

It's the same with racial grievance: as soon as one differentiates group outcomes via statistics, one is assured another permanent reality to attack, for groups will always differ in outcomes.

Likewise, in a free society -- or in the absence of a totalitarian state -- income disparity will be inevitable, and so long as nature has a say in the matter, men and women will differ in fundamental ways.

Speaking of impossible realities, the remodeling pests are here again. I gotta get outta' here. To the park!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

On the Nature of Our Prison

Man is obviously imprisoned, or chained to certain necessities, but people differ as to their nature. For example, in an ironic comment, Schuon said something to the effect that man is condemned to transcendence. Ho!

But for the materialist, this is utterly untrue. Rather, he is condemned to immanence -- i.e., to a completely intramundane existence -- and has no access to transcendence at all.

Which is funny, because if man really has no access to transcendence, he wouldn't even have a name for it. One might say -- no, one must say, in order to be consistent -- that if transcendence doesn't exist, man cannot know it. For to know it is to touch the very transcendence one denies.

Nevertheless, it is this question of transcendence that fundamentally divides left and right, or conservative liberals and illiberal leftists.

The question of transcendence is closely related to that of language -- or to symbolism more generally. When we were more animal than human -- remember? -- it was quite frustrating to be unable to symbolize our subjective states and communicate them to those around us.

But gradually we were inducted and plugged into our culture's symbolic matrix, which was a huge relief. No longer were we reduced to shrieking and throwing tantrums in order to get attention. In short, we were no longer leftists.

However, some people confuse this liberation with a new kind of prison. We call them "deconstructionists." True, language is a kind of prison, if you choose to look at it that way. It is clearly a limitation, just as musical scales are a limitation on sound. But if we deconstruct the scales in favor of producing random noises, is this a liberation? Or is a return to the anarchic prison from whence we came?

Just so with language. Or logic, for that matter. One can deny aristotelean logic, as does the postmodern rabble, but this only ends up creating a cognitive hell from which escape is impossible.

So yes, we are imprisoned. We have already stipulated that. I think Schuon has provided the most succinct description of the outlines of our cosmic prison. In fact, I posted on this subject about four years ago, and since I'm squeezed for time again, I think I'll just playgiarize with myself for awhile:

Schuon goes into what he calls four essential limitations or "infirmities" of the soul. The first is the Biggest, which is why it is enshrined in the First Commandment: sorry, but you are not God. You are "creature, not Creator, manifestation and not Principle or Being."

In fact, only the godless can be unaware of the fact that they are not God, which is probably the greatest source of their political mischief. As Obama might say, "if I had a God, he'd look like me."

Two, we are not angels. We are not celestial beings but mid-terrestrial ones. We are not at the top of the vertical hierarchy, nor are we at the bottom (unless we choose to fall even further than where we begin).

Rather, we are somewhere in the middle -- which, of course, goes to the issue of free will, as we are suspended halfway between our better and worse selves. A saint is a man who has more or less succeeded in elevating himself to the border between middle and top, or time and eternity. Thus, he is like an angel on earth.

Third, I am me and you are you. We are different. Thank God! And I mean this literally, for our individual differences -- at least for the Christian -- are not accidental or purely contingent.

Rather, our differences are essential; paradoxically, our contingency is a kind of absolute in miniature. For those of you with more than one child, this is obvious. The differences are a blessing, not a curse. Every face is unique, and yet, a member of the human family. God has counted every hair on your head. We're all different to him (which is the ultimate source of our differences, in that we are different ideas of God). And yet mankind is one.

Fourth are the differences that are not essential but contingent. These include mind parasites, which mostly result from the scars of misbegotten relationships and assimilations along the way. They are "accidental infirmities" that cause a man to either sink beneath himself or become someone else entirely. The problem with a mind parasite is that it's not you, only pretending to be. It is a difference that is peripheral, i.e., from earth (or lower), not from celestial central, i.e., the principial realm.

Now, anyone can see the bloody mayhem that results if we don't keep these categories straight. The leftist -- because he turns the cosmos upside down and inside out -- begins with #4, the wholly relative, accidental, and contingent, and then elevates it to the highest reality.

Again, this is why the Democratic party is the party of cranks, weirdos, freaks, perverts, misfits, losers, reactionary rebels, rebellious conformists, tyrannical punks, and the generally barbarous. (It also attracts -- let's be fair -- a great many basically decent but just LoFo and easily manipulated folks).

If you've followed me this far, then you will understand what Schuon means when he says that "Relativism engenders a spirit of rebellion and is at the same time its fruit. The spirit of rebellion, unlike holy anger, is not a passing state, nor is it directed at some worldly abuse; on the contrary it is a chronic malady directed toward Heaven and against everything that represents Heaven or is a reminder of it."

Tell me about it! The leftist is either in rebellion against God, and therefore human nature, or against human nature, and therefore God. Either way, he always confuses a prison break with solitary confinement for eternity. But why oh why does he want to force the rest of us to join him?

[T]he primordial and normative attitude is this: to think only in reference to what surpasses us and to live for the sake of surpassing ourselves.... Not to acknowledge what surpasses us and not to wish to surpass ourselves: this is... the very definition of Lucifer. --F. Schuon

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...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Am Obama, Destroyer of Slack!

Squeezed for time.

What does that even mean?

It means first of all that man has free will, because insight into necessity proves it. And as necessity crowds out freedom, time is transformed into something merely to be endured. At best it is neutral duration; at worst it is dread.

However, most people seem to experience dread at the other end of the temporal spectrum, when they have too much time and therefore freedom -- one might also say being. No, I can't relate to these types, but I do understand them, because there is no question that doing is one of man's primary defenses against being.

But the latter can't really be being, can it? I say this because we are assured that being is good. Only a true Gnostic believes otherwise, but if such a person has the experience of maleficent being, the maleficence must be in the self, not in being.

No wonder then that these types habitually try to escape the self via doing, or that a substantial number of them become ideologists, activists, and other existential pests. Activism is to ideology as non-doodling is to being. The activist is forever trying to put us out of his misery. It is what the left does.

Obama for example, has made a fortune from his warped version of "public service," to such an extent that he need never -- in his private life -- be compelled to do anything he doesn't choose to. In other words, for him, there are no external constraints on his freedom (barring physical threats from his bitchier half). Why then is he so interested -- obsessed -- with limiting ours? Exactly what is going in in the heart of such a disordered person?

Obama doesn't have to worry about the cost of his own healthcare. But because of him, I am robbed of freedom -- i.e., I have to work more -- because I have to earn more money to pay for the type of insurance he compels me to have.

It reminds me of the classic essay by William Graham Sumner, On the Case of a Certain Man Who Is Never Thought Of:

"The type and formula of most schemes of philanthropy or humanitarianism is this: A and B put their heads together to decide what C shall be made to do for D."

In other words, be-badding liberal do-gooders get together in order to decide what I must be forced to do in order to appease their conscience and make them feel good about themselves. Or, they want to eliminate a portion of my slack in order to give it to people who have no idea what to do with it.

In this context, remember what was said above about the maleficent being of these individuals, who attempt through "activism" to transform their own inner darkness into light.

No, it never works. I mean, imagine Anthony Weiner, or Eliot Spitzer, or Bill Clinton -- men who have failed the rudimentary step of governing themselves -- presuming to govern the rest of us! Just on a common sense level, does anyone doubt that Weiner isn't so much running for something as running away from himself? Wouldn't you?

Sumner: "The radical vice of these schemes... is that C is not allowed a voice in the matter, and his position, character, and interests... are entirely overlooked. I call C the Forgotten Man" (which is of course where Shlaes got the title for her excellent book).

This has the perverse effect of slowly transforming the United States from the land of the free to the land of the compelled. But freedom is simply not a value of the left. Rather, equality -- which is at antipodes to freedom -- is. Obviously, equality -- i.e., equal outcomes -- can only be imposed. The left's central delusion is that everything should be equally distributed, whereas in reality, nothing is.

Back to time and being, necessity and freedom. Voegelin observes that such terms will be reduced to nonsense if we forget that they "explicate a tension of existence, and are not concepts denoting objects."

He goes on to say that "There is no such thing as a 'man' who participates in 'being' as if it were some enterprise that he could as well leave alone..." True, we can have more or less being, but the limiting factor is on the side of man, since being is always being.

We are familiar with the apophatic idea that everything we can positively affirm of God must be wrong, so that the least inaccurate approach is to say what God is not.

But in a sense, the same thing applies to man, for "At the center of his existence man is unknown to himself and must remain so, for the part of being that calls itself man could be known fully only if the community of being and its drama in time were known as a whole" (i.e., at the "end" of history, when time has exhaustively disclosed itself).

But "man's partnership in being is the essence of his existence, and this essence depends on the whole [O], of which existence is a part." And "knowledge of the whole" is obviously precluded, for we are not God -- even if we cannot avoid being in permanent dynamic tension with God.

So, this is all by way of saying that I'm squeezed for time and therefore don't have enough freedom to radiate a post from being central.

(A related essay by on the slack shortage created by the left.)