Reimagineering the World
But in point of fact, if we remove imagination from the equation, we end up with... an equation -- a cutandryasdust quantitative world devoid of real qualities. Really. Physics is the paradigmatic science for the reductioneers of modernity and below, which means that anything that can't be quantified isn't really real; the world, in the words of Whitehead, is reduced to "a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless; merely the hurrying of material, endless and meaningless.”
Imagine that! That's right: you can't, unless you're spiritually autistic.
In the article referenced in yesterday's post, Bellow writes of how the left not only has a stranglehold on the cultural imagination, but also keeps out competitors with its "reactionary humorlessness, its bullying tone, and its impulse to dictate what people may and may not say." Taken to the extreme -- as in 1984 -- people are deprived even of the means "to express dissenting views, or even to formulate thoughts that might inform such intellectual resistance."
Not too long ago it was nearly impossible for conservative ideas to get a hearing in the liberal barkingplace of dogma. Here again, the left had so successfully reduced the scope of reality that reality itself was excluded. Thanks to talk radio, the internet, and a thriving market for serious books, this is no longer the case.
However, as Bellow says, "The real problem is that we may have reached the limit of what facts and reasoned argument can do." That is, it doesn't seem to matter that the left "cannot win the argument on its merits" so long as it prevails on the cultural front. We simply cannot "debate and argue this incipient totalitarian movement out of existence."
That made sense to me when I first read it, but now I'm not so sure, for what are we to do about the millions of people who have lost the argument but don't know it? We are all familiar with the "density" of the liberal mind, how impervious it is to fact and reason. Those people are not going to be converted through a soul-stirring book or film.
Indeed, there was a recent kerfuffle over an airhead at MSNBC who claimed that Animal Farm is really a fable about capitalist greed! This demonstrates how you can lead a liberal to imaginative intellectual water but cannot make her think.
Likewise the massive electoral base of the left, the dependent and ineffectual LoFo hordes living in the philistinian territories. I am slowly coming to the realization that the problem here is not Low Information but Low IQ. In other words, we are dealing with a pearl-swine issue. The swine don't know much, but they do know they can vote themselves more Free Pearls, and I don't see how this can be reversed with the swords of imagination or information.
Our constitution was designed to protect us from two things: from the state and from the mob. But the mob now has the state (and vice versa), so it seems to me that in the long run we might be *fucked*. Look at how the domestic mob is encouraging the foreign mob at the border. Who benefits? The transnational mob.
Until quite recently, I believed that human beings actually wanted freedom. Indeed, a big part of my support for the Iraq war was due to the mistaken belief that liberty is a universal value, and that as soon as Muslims tasted it, well, the tyrants would eventually fall like demonoes. Mea maxima stupida.
What is again a little odd -- or at least in need of explanation -- is how my generation somehow went from freewheeling libertarianism to the cramped statism of the illiberal left. Then again, this assumes some special virtue in my generation, as if it was not heir to all the usual ego trips and fallies of man. Once it gained a taste of power, the rest followed mechanically.
As Bellow observes, "The original counterculture -- that is, before it was hijacked and turned into a vehicle for progressive politics -- was actually libertarian in spirit." "[W]hat made it work was its antic humor," and "its willingness to flout the sacred cows" of the establishment.
But "nothing like that has been seen in this country for decades, precisely because the culture is now dominated by sanctimonious liberals who have lost the capacity to laugh at themselves." Which is why we have to laugh twice as hard at them in order to make up the difference.
Bellow speaks of the need for a new rebellion from outside and from "below." Yes, but the problem there is that these two must be unified in a rebellion from above. To rebel from below is to rebel for its own sake, or for the usual base human motives of envy, greed, favor, and libido dominandi. But the American revolution -- the neverending vertical revolution -- is a revolution from above. This is the real target of the counter-revolutionaries of the left, and we see it in a multitude of ways.
For example, the creation of an oxymoronic "living constitution" is the quickest way to kill the constitution. Likewise, as we saw with the recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals, if the ObamaCare law doesn't mean what it says, then it means both nothing and anything, depending upon the needs of the state. In other words, power determines truth, which is the essence of the pneumapathology of the left.
So, how does imagination displace power? Seems to me that this is part of the story of Christianity, as the imaginative wisdom of the yeast works its way through the undifferentiated lump of worldly power.