Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Chaos and Control, Destiny and Fate: You Can't Plan for the Surprise of Your Life

It's amazing how subtle some of these dead old white men could be. Augustine, for example, writes that "'To use' is to put something at the disposal of the will, whereas 'to enjoy' is to use a thing with satisfaction, which is no longer a matter of hope but actual reality."

So, we willfully "use" a thing in the hope that it will actually satisfy us. Obviously, satisfaction is not something we can will -- even for people who have the means to will just about anything they want. Indeed, everybody tells me so: can't buy me love.

This, I think, goes to why happiness is wrapped up in surprise as opposed to planning. To plan for happiness is to attempt to appropriate satisfaction into the will, but that's just a hope, not an actuality.

And many people would rather hope for happiness than actually live it. Or, more to the point, they are presently unhappy, but live in the hope that, with the right plan, it will occur in the future. Which it never does. Unless it is in some surprising and unplanned way.

Real enjoyment seems to be a matter of love as opposed to will; love is a kind of self-offering or self-opening, while will is more of a crystalized intent. I'm not expressing that very clearly, but think of the difference between, say, the perpetually self-offering God of Christianity vs. the permanent willfulness of Allah. One is always giving, while the other is always doing. The former is a lover, the latter a q'ntrol fariq.

Which reminds me. It seems that Boko Haram has pledged its allegiance to ISIS:

I pledge allegiance to the mahdi of the Islamic State of Iraq; and to the caliphate for which it stands, one world, under sharia, with tyranny and sadism for all.

What is our fundamental problem with the Islamic state, and with Islam more generally? That they are indeed control freaks. Not only are no surprises permitted, but technically they are impossible, being that everything issues directly from the will of Allah.

This is at antipodes to Christian liberalism, which is rooted in liberty. The Christian God creates; the Muslim god compels. Is it possible to compel creativity? Not really. One can compel the circumstances for bringing it about -- i.e., self-discipline -- but it is an oxymoron to force a surprise. Sergeant Pepper was a surprise. All the groups thereafter who tried to squeeze out their own Sergeant Pepper just produced kitsch or krap.

Why did Christendom vault ahead of the rest of the world, while Islam in particular is mired in backwardness? Backwardness is actually hard, while progress is easy. How is that?

Well, think, for example, of how hard it was for the Soviet Union to control its citizens. Impossible, really. And yet, I remember reading of how Kruschev asked Nixon how the US produced enough bread to feed its people without someone at the top commanding it. In the US it is easy to feed -- and overfeed -- our people. How? By doing nothing. It happens by itself, so long as the state doesn't interfere. State interference causes bubbles, shortages, and distortions, as in housing, medicine, and college.

All of this goes directly to what we have been saying about idiom and the destiny drive, for the soul requires freedom in order to discover and actualize itself. It needs a range of potential objects, ideas, and relationships to select from, because everyone is different. We are even big enough to tolerate the presence of people to whom the Koran speaks. Which is just another way of saying that Christianity is expansive enough to contain Islam, whereas the converse is impossible. There is a reason why there can be no churches in Saudi Arabia (and no God in public schools).

"The soul recognize[s] in material objects a harmony identical with that of its own structure, and this recognition [is] the genesis of aesthetic pleasure" (Eco, in Taylor). Exactly. Bollas calls it the "erotics of being," so we're back to loving-as-knowing:

"Certain objects, like psychic 'keys,' open doors to unconsciously intense -- and rich -- experience in which we articulate the self that we are.... This selection constitutes the jouissance of the true self, a bliss released through the finding of specific objects that free idiom to its articulation.... such releasings are the erotics of being..."

Well, this morning got away from me. To be continued....

17 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

I'm not expressing that very clearly, but think of the difference between, say, the perpetually self-offering God of Christianity vs. the permanent willfulness of Allah. One is always giving, while the other is always doing. The former is a lover, the latter a control freak.

I'm immediately reminded of Jimmy Stewart's character in Vertigo.

3/10/2015 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

What is our fundamental problem with the Islamic state, and with Islam more generally? That they are indeed control freaks.

Yes, indeed. To be fair, I'm not even sure he was telling her off because she was a woman, but because he's a sheik and should be allowed to carry on for as long as he likes without interruption. Had it been a man, I'm not at all sure he would have been any more respectful, unless the other man was also a sheik with a comparable or higher social status.

Frankly, I thought some of what he was saying was rather interesting; don't know that I was aware of the history of leftist groups joining with Islamic groups in the 70s. But clearly it was a news show and they didn't have time for all that, and her question was pertinent as well.

3/10/2015 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

In my mind, it is perfectly logical for there to be no God in public schools. Once you turn over to the state the traditional and authentic functions of the Church, by and by, God will be replaced by the icons of the state. It's the same with marriage.
We can complain, but these things never should have been turned over in the first place.

3/10/2015 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

The state shouldn't mandate that God must be in public schools, but it is just as wrong to forbid students from expressing their faith, for instance by forbidding prayer before a game. Especially since what's usually forbidden is expressions of Christianity in particular, while other faiths such as Islam are not only permitted, but sometimes taught in the guise of multiculturalism.

3/10/2015 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The Constitution is pretty clear: congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

3/10/2015 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You might think that people who insist on a wall between church and state would also want one between ideology and state. But in reality, it's just a pretext for the left to indoctrinate children into its ideology/religion without the competition.

3/10/2015 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes, just so. Leftism can't permit any rays of truth to get in the way of The Narrative, or they'll lost their stranglehold on the culture.

3/10/2015 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Which is why they hate Fox. Control freaks are always fragile. It's like the control functions as an exoskeleton.

3/10/2015 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"There is a reason why there can be no churches in Saudi Arabia (and no God in public schools)."

Reality Is what it is, as I AM that I Am; you can choose to disagree - which wouldn't be very surprising - but until you can say what IS is, then what you wish for is not, and never will be.

3/10/2015 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Which reminds me, I found it interesting reading about the latest Planet Fitness debacle where they revoked a woman's membership because she complained about a man being in the locker room. The man "identifies" as female, therefore he should be allowed in the women's room.

What almost nobody has talked about was that the woman's concerns were quite valid, though of course the "trans-woman's" identity and behavioral history was kept out of the main news stories that I saw. Apparently, the man in question is a serious pervert who, though he enjoys dressing like a woman, also enjoys having women do some pretty disgusting things. So, totally legit. Planet Fitness has a right to run their business as they wish, but if I had a membership there I'd be seriously reconsidering right now.

3/10/2015 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Real enjoyment seems to be a matter of love as opposed to will; love is a kind of self-offering or self-opening, while will is more of a crystalized intent. I'm not expressing that very clearly, but think of the difference between, say, the perpetually self-offering God of Christianity vs. the permanent willfulness of Allah. One is always giving, while the other is always doing. The former is a lover, the latter a q'ntrol fariq."

Q'ntrol fariqs are all the rage.
BTW, Bob, neat term. Got me laughin'. :)

3/10/2015 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"This, I think, goes to why happiness is wrapped up in surprise as opposed to planning. To plan for happiness is to attempt to appropriate satisfaction into the will, but that's just a hope, not an actuality."

Like the film, Vacation. Clark tries to plan the family's happiness but instead ends up with a dead aunt Edna strapped to the top of his station wagon.

3/10/2015 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

lol - but it was funny for the audience...

3/10/2015 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Or ends up gettin' his hubcaps stolen in Ferguson.

3/10/2015 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That's why Fawlty Towers is so funny. Basil's obsessive efforts at control are always dashed.

3/10/2015 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Fawlty Towers is still hilarious, too. Control freaks are funny in films but are horrifying in politics.

3/10/2015 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Great post, but I'm stuck trying to type on a tablet today. I can't do much.

3/10/2015 04:35:00 PM  

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