Friday, July 25, 2014

Flying into Reality on Wings of Imagination

A purely "scientific" philosophy ends by denying what we know to be true... --Eliot

Cardinal Newman spoke of the illative sense, which is, according to Prof. Wiki, "the faculty of the human mind that closes the logic-gap," "thus allowing for assent" to translogical truth.

It seems to me that it is related to the higher imagination; or at least that it allows us to imagine and apprehend higher truths. It is, writes Moore, "a means of perception beyond the merely ratiocinative faculty," and although not rationalistic, "far from irrational in its workings and conclusions."

Kirk writes (in Moore) that it includes "impressions that are borne in upon us, from a source deeper than our conscious or formal reason. It is the combined product of intuition, instinct, imagination, and long and intricate experience." Thus, it is very much incarnotional, that is, embodied gnotions of enlived truth.

It is not that the illative sense necessarily discloses truth, any more than does logic. It will be irrational if a man's nature is either too irrational or too rational. The illative sense can always assent to a false proposition. Which is why it must be disciplined and guided by tradition. If your illative sense informs you of truths with which none of the luminaries of the past agree, then you are probably a mere ec-centric, or just somejerk outside the Circle.

You will have noticed that an education that is merely "useful" or pragmatic or utilitarian will not engage, much less develop, the illative sense. Might this be one source of the irrational dreams and schemes of the left, with its alternatively withered or perverse fantasies? "The problem with rule by the specialist is not so much that he knows more about something than other people, but rather that he sees everything through that one thing which he knows, however well" (Moore).

Conversely, the Raccoon tries to see any-thing through the lens of Everything.

We all must think and act on the basis of truths that cannot be demonstrated in the usual way. Reason #72B for why it is so fruitless to argue with a leftist is that they habitually try to deploy reason to prove things into which they themselves were never reasoned. Obama -- and liberals in general -- should stop pretending to anchor what he wants to do in the constitution or in the rule of law, since he's going to do it anyway. Just be honest about your dishonesty! That's all we ask.

One such trivial but typical example occurred in our comment section just yesterday, where our wisely anonymous visitor took us to task for affirming the truism that dependent and ineffectual people will tend to support the state which renders them comfortable in their condition of dependence and dysfunction. Or in other words, we should not be surprised when the drug addict votes for the dealer.

Our visitor attempted to prove with corrupt "data" that the people who are actually most dependent on the state are independent-minded conservatives. His error was in trying to prove his crankish illative truth with empirical data at all.

Note that the contradictory data will in no way alter his leftist convictions, because again, he was never reasoned into them to begin with. His particular views are informed by a much grander, unconstrained vision of mankind (not the actual men, mind you, for whom he has such contempt; think of Obama, who loves immigration but must hate the illegal immigrants who suffer under his policies).

All such philosophies are founded upon "something no normal man would believe, if it were suddenly propounded to his simplicity" (Chesterton, in Moore). Such disordered thinking ultimately redounds to a "cleverness actively deployed in the cause of Nothing" (Lewis, ibid.).

Along these lines, it is always useful to remember Gödel, who logically proved to the eternal satisfaction of the metaphysically adequate that man has access to a whole realm of truths that cannot be proved with mere logic. Yes, you are freed from the chains of logic that bind you to the terrestrial! If you want to be.

As alluded to above, the illative sense is bound up with various experiential modes that are only present in a body, or better, a person. Therefore, if our ultimate truth does not converge upon Personhood, let alone Life, then we can be sure we're on the wrong and even tenure track.

Moore speaks of "the utilitarian university," where "knowledge has become disintegrated" and therefore produces "unintegrated people." Nor can human beings create life, not in the laboratory, much less in the soul; they can never put all the dead fragments of the universe back together again. Ironic that they conquer nature only to be conquered by her. D'oh!

In reality -- in the Cosmic Uni-versity -- we are images of Truth, but if truth is presented to us as so many isolated and atomistic fragments, then our interior will reflect this mindless and lifeless fragmentation. Your soul will look cubist rather than toroidal.

But as we ʘnce put it, we are not meant to be "a scattered, fragmented multiplicity in futile pursuit of an ever-receding unity, but a Unity that comprehends and transcends the multiplicity of the cosmos."

Only with the illative sense are we, in the sometime, sometimeless words of Petey "Back upin a timeless with the wonderfully weird Light with which everything was made, a Light no longer dispersed and refracted through so many banged-up and thunder-sundered images of the One."

Indicted by time, we are reprieved by eternity. Which is why I'd rather be a living slave in the vertical than a lifeless tyrant in the horizontal.

I am not writing for scholars, but for people like myself.... [W]hat one must be guided by, scholar or no, is not particularized knowledge but one's total harvest of thinking, feeling, living and observing human beings. --Eliot


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reimagineering the World

So, I think we might have stumbled upon what is perhaps the key to it all: the imagination. Unfortunately, that word has the wrong connotations for most people -- like the word "myth" to which it is related, people imagine that imagination is cognate to fantasy or daydreaming or to the academic onanism of infertile eggheads.

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.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Militarizing the Space of Imagination

Back when Bob was a carefree bachelor, he had this roommate who was an epic stoner. We lived on the beach in a three bedroom condo, and both of us worked in the food industry. In other words, in the supermarket.

Well, the friend was eventually busted by store security and fired for smoking pot on the graveyard shift. This led to a few seconds of panic about how he would pay the rent, before it dawned on him that he could convert our condo into a pot farm. After all, it was just the two of us in a three bedroom condo, so there was that unused room.

So he bought a couple of tarps, obtained some 20 gallon containers and potting soil from the nursery, and got down to business. Oh, and he also purchased a 1000 watt bulb that he dangled from the ceiling and left on 24/7. Quite effective though, because in a matter of weeks it was a jungle in there.

Problem was, when the sun went down, it looked as if it had slipped into our condo, or maybe like we were hiding a nuclear reactor: our hothouse was also a lighthouse. So he threw a heavy blanket over the curtain rod, but even so, it still gave off an eery glow around the edges.

In addition to the glow, our little plantation gave off a distinct smell. The window was always open, so you couldn't miss it if you were in the vicinity. What was I thinking, living with this lawless Johnny Addleseed? Like I said, "carefree." In other words, I made up for in recklessness what I lacked in judgment.

I still remember when we received our first post-Midnight Sun electricity bill. I don't recall the exact figures, but in one month it went from something like $20 to $200. Nor did I know that this is one of the ways The Man can tell when someone is up to no good. But somehow we survived scrutiny, and not too long thereafter I moved out, because Port Hueneme was too long a drive to Pepperdine, where I had enrolled in grad school.

But none of this matters now. Or ever, really. I was just warming up my fingers. What really matters is some of the insights my schwaggrarian friend derived from being stoned around the clock. I should add that I no longer even partoke by that time. Among other things, thanks to ingenious sons of the soil, the THC content had become exponentially more concentrated over the years, to the point that it had become a major league mind-altering substance. I can only imagine what's happened since then.

One of my friend's oracular cannabis-fueled insights was that soon No One Would Know How To Do Anything. In other words -- and this was in the technologically paleolithic early '80s -- the complexity of society was growing beyond the means of people to keep up with it. More and more people were attending college, but they weren't really learning anything useful, i.e., the kind of practical knowledge needed to keep the whole shithouse from going up in flames or collapsing in on itself.

Well, first of all: can I buy some pot from you?

Secondly, is there any truth to this? There is an adage to the effect that every institution or program begins with some lofty or practical goal, but that the goal is eventually displaced by self-preservation and self-interest. We see this most vividly in the government and in education, where the Prime Directive is simply to increase in size, power, and influence. Any worthy goals -- e.g., helping children grow in wisdom and virtue -- are lost in the sentimental mists of once good intentions. As we have heard it said, the left is the Good Intentions Paving Company. And yet, their roads always somehow lead to hell. Ironic.

Believe it or not, I still haven't gotten to the main point. Don't you hate it when writers waste your time like this? My point is this: forget about the loss of practical knowhow and the flood of useless people with pointless college degrees in queer theory, feminist studies, climate *science*, political *science* (our worthless Dear Leader's major), leisure and recreation, Afro-American self-soothing delusions, and all the rest. The real problems lay in the metaphysical imagination, such that our culture has severed itself at its own roots. But like topping a dead marijuana plant, you can only do that for so long before you run out of leaves.

Analogously, imagine if people had thrown out all science prior to, say, 1960, in the desire to reinvent it from the ground up. Insane, right? But why is it any different to do this with tradition, which is precisely what the left has succeeded in doing over the past half-century? We have dropped the Object, the point and purpose of it all.

Borrowing Ken Wilber's four-quadrant map of human reality, there are the interior and exterior collectives, and the interior and exterior individual. Science is the spontaneous order produced by the exterior collective, i.e., a map of the exterior world. Culture, on the other hand, is a collective map of the human interior, and includes religion, art, manners, morals, etc.

Since the 1960s the exterior collective -- science and technology -- has proceeded apace, and yet, we've made no concomitant progress in moral excellence, let alone wisdom. Indeed, we have witnessed an obvious collective regression in those areas, and one of the main reasons for this is the soul-amputation that occurred then the left decided to throw out the collective wisdom of mankind and to use the power of the state to remake man from the ground up. You could say that the left is a movement that has forgotten more truth than it will ever relearn in this life.

As mentioned in a comment yesterday, there is an interesting article by Adam Bellow in the July 7 National Review, called Let Your Right Brain Run Free: Why Conservative Fiction is the Next Front in the Culture War. While I agree with the first part of the title, I reject the second. (His website is here.)

That is, "conservative fiction" per se will never be a front in the culture war; rather, as always, the front of the war is located where fiction -- or anything else -- conserves, extends, and converges upon truth, beauty, wisdom, virtue, etc. It is a truism that these things are always "conservative," because they are what we wish to conserve, precisely. We are under no similar imperative to conserve falsehood, ugliness, stupidity, barbarism, etc.

Being that the left controls the culture, conservatives are by definition the "counter culture." Except that the left has so debased the culture that it is more accurate to say that they are the reactionary anti-culture, whereas we simply stand for culture. I think this is where Bellow errs, because cultural excellence and conservatism are simply two sides of the same coin. There need be no specific content -- let alone political content -- to the excellence. Rather, the attainment of timeless excellence alone is more than enough to be worthy of conservation.

The left, by tossing out or devaluing historical excellence, has succeeded in undermining conservatism at the root -- the root of imagination. And we won't recover that root by writing new novels with conservative themes, although that won't hurt, so long as these works stand on their own as examples of excellence. But you will inevitably become conservative if you familiarize yourself with, as Matthew Arnold put it, "the best which has been thought and said in the world."

The Marxist idea is that if you control language, you control reality; and that he who controls the present controls the past, and therefore future.

But the present is always an imaginative engagement with reality; it can be profound or shallow; it can be ahistorical or extend into deep history and beyond the horizon of myth; it can be an isolated point or an endless line that unites us in community with the dead and unborn. It all depends upon the size and scope, the depth and luminosity, of the Imagination.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nice Dreams. Wrong Father.

One important point about reality that rationalists overlook is that it is a function of imagination; or, in the absence of the imaginative element, the wider (or deeper) world is foreclosed and one is excluded from the Real.

This thought occurred to me during a walk yesterday evening, around sunset. I don't intend to go all mushy on you, but it was one of those evenings that, to paraphrase Bertie Wooster, almost make a chap feel as if he's got a soul-thingy or something. How to communicate this feeling? Perhaps more importantly, how is it communicated to us in such a direct and unmediated (by discursive ideas) fashion?

I suppose we could communicate it via poetry or painting, or maybe even music, none of which can be reduced to, or contained in, mere instrumental reason.

More generally, man always has two methods at his disposal, the analytic and the synthetic. It is this latter that cannot take place in the absence of imagination -- although it also comes into play in determining what to analyze. But analysis in general is something a computer can handle, whereas putting it all together in a creative synthesis is something only the soul can accomplish.

Now all humans, whether they acknowledge it or not, are on a quest for reintegration. Moore writes of "two modes of thought," one of which corresponding to what he calls "the common mind," the other, "the disintegrative mind."

The skeptic, for example, has a hypertrophied disintegrative mind that is not so much wrong as partial: it simply cannot join together what it has ruthlessly put asunder, neither in space nor in time (i.e., tradition and the priceless wisdom of the Living Dead), since it is mechanical and not organic (or organismic).

If everyone were afflicted with this psychic imbalance, civil society would be quite impossible, because there would be no shared metaphysical dream. Of course, one cannot really abolish metaphysics (or dreaming), so what we would really share is the soul-stifling materialism of the left, a metaphysical nightmare in which the only thing that unites us is the state. But that is not unity -- unity implying diversity -- but a mere unicity or "totalism" that sacrifices individuality for coerced order. You're still living the dream. Just not yours.

"Without the imagination," writes Moore, "man is shut up in himself, in the present time, in the material world, and in his logical processes." Furthermore, without the imagination, he is apt "to shut up others, too, in his clean and tidy prison."

Have you ever been shut up in someone else's clean and tidy prison? If the answer is No, then you haven't been paying attention, and certainly not to your government.

But it actually happens much earlier than that, when the only govern-ment we know is family and school. Both institutions, when they are dysfunctional -- which they usually are -- place great pressure on the individual to unconsciously assimilate a metaphysical dream that strangles the imagination in the crib.

This can be done with "the best of intentions." I know that my parents, for example, had nothing against me per se. They just didn't have a clue as to what I was about. Same with school. My teachers no doubt didn't want me to be bored and unable to see the point of it all.

I am grateful, however, that neither institution forced the issue, which at least left in escrow an unoccupied space, a hidie whole for later development. After all, an empty lot is far preferable to a crater filled with BS, or to an ugly office building. Yeah, my soil was pretty barren, but at least it wasn't overrun with weeds and parasites. Reminds me of a sign I saw on the road to Happy Acres:

Yes, it is true that in school I didn't learn much. Thank God! My idea for educational reform is to confer a Ph.D. on every infant at birth, so one can get on with the serious business of properly unlearning all the stupidities of the tenured.

Above I alluded to the organismic nature of reality. If reality is organismic, it is because it is everywhere latently "alive." In other words, life is not a function of biology, but rather, the converse: biology is a function of Life. If this were not the case, then Life would be strictly impossible.

Moore writes that "rationalism is the imposition of a predetermined, mechanical form of reasoning that does not correspond to the spirit of nature"; it is, in the words of Coleridge, "a blind copying of effects instead of a true imitation of essential principles."

One might say it is an exterior copy as opposed to an interior prehension -- for example, as muzak is to jazz. What distinguishes these two?

One is ALIVE! and life-giving, the other dead and endeadening. The same with the gifted or banal writer: one transmits Life, the other something less. (Image courtesy Rick.)

There are obvious political implications, for example, say, in the distinction between the organically developed common law of Great Britain vs. the philosophical abstractions imposed in the French Revolution (and every revolution since). Revolutions do not lack their imagineers -- far from it -- but their visions are parasitic on their abstractions, as we have seen in Obama.

What is Obamaism but a fantasy of how the world ought to work? Nice dreams. Wrong world. And wrong Father.

The IMAGINATION then, I consider either as primary, or secondary. The primary IMAGINATION I hold to be the living Power and prime agent of all human Perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM...

FANCY, on the contrary, has no other counters to play with but fixities and definites. The Fancy is indeed no other than a mode of Memory emancipated from the order of space and time..."

I was going to end with that, but Moore goes on to explain that Coleridge is speaking of "a way of seeing the world as a whole, like a living organic being, rather than a sum of working parts, like a machine" -- and of "two fundamentally different ways of looking at the world" -- of the head isolated from the heart vs. head and heart rejoined to gather in wholly matterimany.

So, to imagine there's no religion is to imagine there is no imagination. But it isn't hard to do. Just imagine the left is right, and gravity and decay will take care of the rest.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The One Minute Raccoon

No, one cannot become a Raccoon in one minute. Rather, less than a minute, since Raccoons are born, not made.

What I mean is that I have only a minute this morning. Time enough to announce the dawn of a new thread, now open for isness.