Thursday, July 03, 2014

Obama Trounces Founders 5-1

If the truth is known but doesn't benefit certain parties, then those parties will be at war with it -- so long as they value their beliefs over the truth. The left is in its very essence a war on truths it refuses to accept. In fact, it might be more helpful to turn that around: a leftist is anyone who builds an ideology around the rejection of an important truth about man and/or the world.

There is no real debate about this: the most important truths are both knowable and known. In the words of The Poet, they have already been discovered / Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope / To emulate.

Which is what the celebration of Independence Day is all about (for the purposes of this post we are including the Constitution that gave political form to our liberty). Who can hope to emulate George Washington, or Alexander Hamilton, or James Madison? Barack Obama? He can only hope to neutralize them, or at least minimize the damage they do to the ambitions of progressive statists.

On that score he's arguably made more progress than any president in our history. Or in other words, he's succeeded in doing more damage to truth than any of his predecessors.

But what has been lost and rediscovered is always lost and found and lost again; and now, under conditions / That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss. / For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business (Eliot).

As I'm sure we've discussed on a number of occasions, the truths we're talking about are never discovered in a once-and-for-all fashion. Rather, they must be rediscovered anew by each generation, and indeed, each individual. Why is this? Why must metaphysical truth be so seemingly difficult to discover and establish on this earth?

Two reasons come to mind. The first is that this discovery is bound up with our very reason for being here. Pursuit of truth constitutes the meaning, the struggle, the romance, and the adventure of life.

Furthermore, it is a vertical struggle, meaning that it naturally runs counter to impersonal (and personal) forces that run in the opposite direction. We might just as well ask, "why is it so difficult for me to make a slam dunk?" In my case, the answer is gravity. If it weren't for stupid gravity, I'd take some of these youngbloods to skool. Uncle Bob got skilz!

Also, the fact that this truth cannot be given but must be discovered is a mercy, not a curse. If this weren't the case, then the pleasures of the spirit would be diminished, just as the pleasures of the mind would be impossible if everything were known.

What if everything were known in the usual sense, and there were no mystery surrounding and penetrating us? That would be a kind of hell. The Library of Babel, a short story by Borges, captures this hellish (im)possibility. It "describes a vast collection of books... whose volumes contain all possible combinations of alphabetic characters" (Lindsey, where I found the reference. Don't worry, I'm not going all literary on you).

"Everything is there... the minute history of the future, the autobiographies of the archangels, thousands and thousands of false catalogues, a demonstration of the fallacy of these catalogues, a demonstration of the fallacy of the true catalogue, the Gnostic gospel of Basilides, the commentary of this gospel, the veridical account of your death, a version of each book in all languages, the interpolations of every book in all books" (Borges).

One person's hell is another person's academia.

Of course, being random, "Most of the books, inevitably, contain only unreadable gibberish" (Lindsey). There is no combination of letters "which the divine Library has not already foreseen."

So, on the one hand, the library is omniscient, containing all possible knowledge. And yet, this is analogous to Hegel's "bad infinite," which you might say is simply unbounded nothingness, i.e., the endless night in which all cows are black. Everything and nothing.

How does a universe that is random at one end result in truth at the other? We'll come back to that in a moment later post.

Lindsey suggests that "Borges's library provides an apt metaphor for contemporary America's pandemonium of social and cultural diversity." Everyone is hard at work making their own little contribution to the Library.

Our president, for example, has contributed five books, when I thought it was just the two better known turds. In any event, that's five times as many as Hamilton and Madison, whose only contribution is the Federalist, and he knows so much more than they did.

26 Comments:

Blogger Van Harvey said...

"If the truth is known but doesn't benefit certain parties, then those parties will be at war with it -- so long as they value their beliefs over the truth. The left is in its very essence a war on truths it refuses to accept. In fact, it might be more helpful to turn that around: a leftist is anyone who builds an ideology around the rejection of an important truth about man and/or the world."


B-b-b-b-bingo!

7/03/2014 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

In my case, the answer is gravity.

It's a plan by the Man
So we don't get out hand.
Gravity is what keeps bringing me down.

7/03/2014 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"When confronted with facts, whether it’s rising numbers of people losing their health insurance, homicide correlating positively with black population and negatively with gun ownership, or the divergence of measured global temperatures from model projections, the modern progressive no longer seeks to incorporate the new knowledge into his views and reform them accordingly. Instead, he grows agitated, defames the character of whomever challenged him, and doubles the volume with which he chants official lies. He has no moral core of right and wrong…

"When cultural, social, and political establishments are forced to lie about everything to maintain their grip on society, it means they are rotted to the core, a hollowed out husk that no longer maintains any of the founding principles of its strength."

7/03/2014 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"In the bleary and psychedelic and flaccid mental world of the Left, truth is a matter of consensus, like the rules of grammar, or a matter of personal preference, like your taste in ice cream.

"For them, truth is not true.

"They also believe that if there were an objective truth out there somewhere, we could not find it, since our brains are too limited and biased by genetic and cultural deceptions to be relied upon.... there is nothing for reason to discover even if our powers of reason were trustworthy. They both believe that the eye is blind, and that there is no source of light anywhere."

7/03/2014 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Since we are waxing all poetic this morning:

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence


Babel on.

7/03/2014 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

I see from the article that Obama only wrote the Foreward to the first book. So that whittles it down to four. The extent of his authorship of the others is dubious at best.

Happy Independence Day, everybody. Crank up the National Anthem and sing along. This even goes for Anonymous, if he or she can stand it.

7/03/2014 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

We'll have to wait for his memoirs, which will no doubt combine the honesty of Bill Clinton with the depth of Hillary.

7/03/2014 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

The Library of Babel is intriguing. Recalls Hilbert's Hotel for some very big reason.

7/03/2014 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Reminds me also of something Aurobindo wrote in a letter:

"The capital period of my intellectual development was when I could see clearly that what the intellect said might be correct and not correct, that what the intellect justified was true and its opposite also was true. I never admitted a truth in the mind without simultaneously keeping it open to the contrary of it.... And the first result was that the prestige of the intellect was gone!"

7/03/2014 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or as Satprem wrote:

"Probably he had seen that one can continue indefinitely to amass knowledge and to read and read and to learn the languages, even all the languages in the world and all the books in the world, and yet not advance an inch.

"For the mind does not seek to know truly, though it seems to - it seeks to grind. Its need of knowledge is primarily a need of something to grind. And if perchance the machine were to come to a stop because the knowledge was found, it would quickly rise in revolt and find something new to grind, to have the pleasure of grinding and grinding."

7/03/2014 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Which is one reason I always return to Schuon, since he has so few principles with so many implications. Less to remember.

7/03/2014 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

And if perchance the machine were to come to a stop because the knowledge was found, it would quickly rise in revolt and find something new to grind, to have the pleasure of grinding and grinding.

Pretty much the description of every leftist crusade, ever. Feminism would have been fine if they had been happy to call it a day once women had the vote and better access to jobs and education, if they wanted that. No, having achieved those relatively modest goals, they embark on a crusade to Crush the Patriarchy! Which is just dandy, because humans are the wrong species for that, thus their crusade literally never has to end

7/03/2014 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who can hope to emulate George Washington, or Alexander Hamilton, or James Madison?

With all due respect to the founders, they weren't gods and treating them as such is idolatry.

On that score {Obama]'s arguably made more progress than any president in our history.

Really? Obama's changed very little. Surely even someone of your political views would rank, say, Roosevelt as having more impact on the nature of the US state.

The main thrust of this post seems to be attacking Obama for writing books and not being James Madison. If that's really the worst you can find to say, I guess you are having an off day. Keep in mind he wasn't running against Madison, but against John McCain and Mitt Romney, who are not exactly towering intellectual figures.

7/03/2014 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Moses said...

The Founders weren't gods. Idolatry is bad. That's two down. Eight more and I'll make Anon an honorary Jew.

7/03/2014 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Roosevelt's low marks for the economy are balanced by higher marks for the war, whereas Obama fails in both foreign and domestic policies. But I'll agree with you that one has to be able to peer into the future to see how destructive Obama's policies have been. We sometimes forget that not everyone can do this, so your objection is noted.

7/03/2014 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"If that's really the worst you can find to say, I guess you are having an off day."

And yet, here you are.

7/03/2014 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Also, the fact that this truth cannot be given but must be discovered is a mercy, not a curse. If this weren't the case, then the pleasures of the spirit would be diminished, just as the pleasures of the mind would be impossible if everything were known."

Aye! If the babelanonymouses had their way there would be no mystery and no pleasures of the mind.
A searious existance like that would definitely not be enjoyable.
No wonder lefties are so miserable all the time.

7/03/2014 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

GREAT BOOK so far: The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor.

7/03/2014 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This is heartening: brilliant black conservative runs circles around idiot liberal.

7/03/2014 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or liberal mediocrity, rather.

7/03/2014 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Riley literally had the liberal huff host in full retreat! It was pretty funny, actually.

7/03/2014 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The liberal mediocrity can't comprehend criticism of a psychopath like Al Sharpton. Different planet.

7/03/2014 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Just came across this:

Independence is the heartbeat of Freedom;
Interdependence is the lifeblood of Love.
In the state of Independence, Freedom unfolds in action;
In the awareness of Interdependence, Love manifests in deed.
Freedom and Love,
The state of Independence and the awareness of Interdependence,
The majestic twin wings of the Human Heart that gives us
The joy of soaring high and the happiness of embracing all.

-- Yasuhiko Genku Kimura

7/04/2014 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

From Calvin Coolidge's excellent speech on "Inspiration of the Declaration of Independence", my favorite passage:

"About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers."

Progress, or Pro-Regress - Independence or Dependence, the choice can't be put off much longer, and today's definitely a day for putting it front and center!

From me:
"Hey America - Dependence, or Independence - which do you declare?"

From Silent Cal:
"Inspiration of the Declaration of Independence"

7/04/2014 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Yup Van, nothing to add there. Spot on.

7/04/2014 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Happy Independence Day!

I just received Conservative Insurgency by Kurt Schlichter and am about half way through it.

Fwiw, I think this is a necessary read. Much of the book may be obvious to a Raccoon, and there may be some things one might disagree with. Yet, it seems to me to be a realistic view on how to win back America to sanity.

On this Independence Day 2014, I am thankful for a little hope that all is not lost in this great nation.

7/04/2014 10:32:00 AM  

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