Friday, July 24, 2015

A Brave New World of Left Wing Clichés

Being a victim of graduate school, it took me a while to understand Aquinas' gag about all knowledge beginning in the senses. Rather... gosh, I've never before tried to trace the line of confusion and reconstruct how I ended up where I did: left, bereft, and effed, psychopneumatically speaking.

I suppose like everyone else I was sucked into the vortex started by Descartes and codified by Kant, such that knowledge begins in my own melon. But this attitude was probably more shaped by my immersion in Buddhism and Vedanta, which don't place much importance on this maya-ridden world. And the whole innerprise was capped by my psychoanalytic training.

I'll try to cut to the chase and avoid boring you with details, but, just like everything else, you could say that psychoanalysis has a "left" and a "right," at least in a manner of speaking.

In this case, it would come down to the importance of reality, or of the external world. The school of thought to which I was most drawn was the Kleinian, which, you could say, emphasizes psychic reality, almost to the exclusion of reality. It's not what happened, but your unconscious phantasies about what happened, that count. (The "ph" distinguishes these from conscious fantasies.)

At the other extreme would be where I sit today, which is in attachment theory, which is very much rooted in real world experiences with caregivers. Then again, what I've really done is blend the two, for they are complementary, not antagonistic: obviously there is an exterior reality and a psychic reality, and the distance between the two is a measure of psychopathology.

Obvious example. I'll disguise some details, but some time ago I saw a young man who had been abandoned by his father before the age of five. He was left with his mother who, although hardworking, was alcoholic and depressed. When home from work she would drink and stare at the wall with tears streaming down her face. They were also poor and moved around quite a bit, so he was never able to form stable compensatory attachments to peers.

His father re-entered his life when he was 15 or 16, and he remembers this as a kind of blessed time. He felt loved and wanted by his father. He was more confident, and began making plans for the future. But something happened that caused his mother to give him an ultimatum: your father is an asshole. He abandoned you. I'm the one who raised you. You must choose: him or me.

Painfully conflicted -- to put it mildly -- he choose mother. His father tried to maintain contact, but he shut him out.

What happens next is the interesting part: he starts to develop mysterious aches and pains throughout his body, that no doctor can explain. One even says "they're in your head" but he rejects the possibility. He goes "doctor shopping," and eventually finds an alternative healer who tells him what he wants to hear, that he must have been bitten by an insect a number of years ago, and is suffering from the effects. Like Spiderman, only bad.

Meanwhile the effects continue to morph. He starts imagining he emits a horrible smell that causes others to keep their distance. Then he convinces himself they are talking and laughing about his odor. After that they sneak into his phone and install software that allows them to see and hear everything he says and does. He has even wondered whether he is imagining this, but no, he has abundant evidence that this is really happening.

So, this is an extreme case of I Think Therefore I Am, or of reality starting in the head instead of in the world. Rather, the world is simply enlisted as the psychic furniture for his malevolent dreams.

In the past we have discussed at length how the left is a collective and institutionalized version of this pathology. This is why you cannot argue with them, any more than I could argue with my patient. Knowing this, I remember thinking to myself, "what can I say that won't make him suspicious that I don't believe him, or that I'm part of the conspiracy?"

I said something like the following: Please don't take this to mean I don't believe you, but I was wondering what you would say if I could hypothetically prove to you that no one has tapped into your phone and you don't emit a wretched smell? I mean, just for the purposes of exploring alternative explanations? Can you imagine that?

Suffice it to say, he couldn't imagine it. He thought about it briefly but concluded that no, what you say is impossible. The sinister coincidences are just too thick. It would mean I would have to ignore that mountain of evidence.

Let's shift gears for a moment to the political sphere. In my adult life I have never seen so much racial, sexual, and class paranoia coming from the left. Really, as recently as the 1990s I thought we were past all this, but somehow it's gotten worse than ever. In my view this is because, as with the patient above, psychic reality is detached from external reality.


I always enjoy working in our Ventura office, because they publish a local rag up there that has a loony left wing editorialist. I suppose he's no more loony than the rest, but I don't go out of my way to visit those dark precincts anymore, whereas in idle moments I flip through this broadshite and check out what this Mr. Freeman has to say.

This week he has an editorial with the clever title Brave New World. As usual, it vilifies Republicans for everything from eating all our steak to causing his bad smell. Crazy as it is, there is nothing in it that deviates from the mainstream left, and in fact, it provides a useful primer on the left's view of what has happened to the country over the past 45 years, since Reagan ruined everything. It could have been written by Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders.

And I have to admit, I actually believed some of this stuff myself once upon a time. Hey, I despised Reagan as much as the next grad student or professor. I didn't know anyone who didn't. Well, one. But he didn't move in my circles, and was the friend of a friend. (Excellent. For our convenience the editorial is posted online.)

"America’s Brave New World is run for the benefit of the select few in the upper classes."

Hmm. If that is so, why is the Fortune 500 composed of completely different companies than 50 years ago? Why didn't they control things so they could stay on top? Some ruling class.

"Almost all" of the income "has flowed up to the top 1 percent (the Alphas) due to 'trickle-down economics' or 'Reaganomics.'" Here again, this is a kind of hallucination that the 1% of 50 years ago are the 1% of today, but if that were true, Bill Gates would still be toiling in his mother's basement. I'm hardly in the 1%, but it would also mean I'd still be stocking shelves in the supermarket.

"Economics professor Robert Reich, Clinton’s labor secretary, says the average worker is underpaid by around $49,000 per year (the calculation is easy)." Oh, I'm sure it is -- for a marxist professor who has never run a business or signed a paycheck. What a great way to make everyone wealthy! Just force McDonalds to pay all of its employees $75,000 a year. What could go wrong?

Reality has some sad news for Professor Reich: paying someone more than he is worth does not increase his value. True, misallocating resources in this way may benefit the overpaid worker, but it simply drains the wider economy of wealth and makes us all a little less affluent.

For example, I suppose the VC Reporter could pay Mr. Freeman a six figure salary -- or even a salary -- but this would exceed its entire budget, such that it could no longer purchase the ink and paper to publish his fantasies.

How did conservatives tap our phones and when did they start laughing at the way we smell?

Reagan "was the finest practitioner of the art of picking your pocket with a smile. Feeble-minded Americans voted for Ronnie because his delusions made them feel good."

This is rich. The state picks our pockets for several months, right through Tax Independence Day, whenever that falls. Conversely, I engage in voluntary exchanges in the private economy, where I am always looking for ways to pick a pocket and gain an edge.

What I mean is that, for example, in just the last week or two I've purchased about ten books (and a bunch of CDs), most of which cost as little as one cent, whereas I would have once had to pay full price if I could find them at all. There is literally no way to measure this incalculable improvement in my life, and there are many more.

We are all beneficiaries of such amazing efficiency. It's the same with computers. What once would have set you back $12,000 or more is now available for under $500. The examples are too numerous to relate, but this book on Popular Economics is highly recommended. Without the tax cuts of the Reagan years, all those technological IPOs that now employ so many people and generate so much prosperity wouldn't have happened.

"Next, Ronnie’s crew got control of the media."

Okay. Right. I remember that.

Don't argue. You cannot reason someone out of something he was never reasoned into.

"Ronnie abolished the Fairness Doctrine. We now have the 'furnace doctrine,' with conservatives free to blow smoke and white-hot lies."

The first amendment covers conservatives? WTF? That's not right. Is that what all those conservative soldiers fought and died for?

Well, the left is furiously rolling it back to the world Boy George fought for, so he shouldn't fret so much.

"The middle-class purchasing power of yesteryear, powering a mighty industrial economy, has been severely crimped."

Right. That's why Gordon Gekko's cell phone cost only $15,000 while ours, with then-inconceivable features, have skyrocketed to $500. Or why Costco is so darn expensive. Or why books are so much cheaper in a brick-and-mortar store than on amazon. As I said, I could go on, but I need to get some work done before a bunch of books arrives in the mail and I can dive into them and enjoy this horrible Brave New World.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

You Are Entitled to the Damn Explanation!

Is there a freaking explanation? You know, for our freaking being here: where we come from, what we are supposed to be doing, where we are going, etc. Origin. Present Being. Destiny. All that.

Either there is an Ultimate Explanation or there is no explanation at all. What I mean is that if your explanatory cosmic area rug doesn't tie up every loose end of existence, then it is not the ultimate one.

Oh, and one thing the Raccoon insists upon is an explanation thank you very much. Say what you want about man's cosmic insignificance, but I insist we are entitled to a damn explanation.

Furthermore -- and this is key, so put your ear close to the screen -- all men, by virtue of being men, are so entitled, which means that there can be nothing special about the scientistic explanation.

To put it another way, if modern science provided the Ultimate Explanation, it would mean that all men prior to Einstein, Darwin, and Freud were denied this explanation, and that just wouldn't be sporting.

No, all earthlings are entitled to this earthright, even if -- and this is a another key -- they prefer to reject it. But no one can say that God didn't put forth the effort, even if the message can get a bit garbled along the human frontier (the one between the terrestrial and celestial spheres). For the truly motivated, it is always possible to clear this up, thanks to the grace of that Mysterious Third. As Petey says, God is a grace to the bottom.

This principle has some additional consequences. For example, it means that no scientific explanation can ever be ultimate. I mean, this is obvious now thanks to Gödel, but it shouldn't take a paranoid logician to bring home such an obvious truth -- that any merely human explanation is going to be soph-tautologous. Rather, unless something from outside the system can get in, then there can be no ultimate explanation, period.

Not to be cute, but that would constitute an exceedingly odd situation, for it would mean that relativity is absurdly absolute and that man's ignorance is therefore total. But wouldn't total ignorance and absolute relativity be a kind of ultimate explanation? Certainly it would touch on an absoluteness that is a priori forbidden by relativism.

In other words, even Obama cannot be totally ignorant, for totality is one of the names of God. The problem is, he lacks insight, for we can only have relative ignorance because it is relative to the absolute -- in this case, absolute truth. Again, absolute relativity = total ignorance, and therefore no possibility of an Explanation. That's what I mean by the either/or nature of this question.

For any phenomenon there is a hierarchy of explanations extending back and up. In the absence of an ultimate explanation, this will be an endless regression, such that causation isn't explained at all.

In other words, you're not truly explaining anything, just kicking it further back in time. But even on that basis, physicists claim that time only "started" with the big bang. Therefore, what happens to causation when there is no time?

That whole line of thought makes no sense anyway. Remember what we said yesterday about wave and particle? It's the same with cosmogony: the so-called singularity simply marks the end of what physicists can say about reality. It is an elementary error to conflate this with the end (or beginning) of reality. Reality goes on forever, whereas what physics can say about it has definite limits. In short, physics -- like any other logical system -- is a tautology.

I am not criticizing it. Indeed, it's a fruitful tautology, or I wouldn't be tap-tapping away at this keyboard. Or alive even. But it seems to me that the best any scientific discipline can do is expand its particular tauto-logos. Thus, the quantum-relativistic world is "bigger" than the Newtonian, but it still has its limits.

The other day a friend asked me about the snoopshots of Pluto. I guess it was a big story in the MSM, but I am not plugged into that grid. In any event, I told him that the vastness of the cosmos holds no particular interest to me. I know that many people look up at the infinite spaces of the starry skies and get a chill at the imponderability of it all.

Meh. As I told him, the size of the cosmos is simply an artifact of how long it has been here. In other words, since it's been expanding for 13.7 years, it had better be pretty damn big.

If you flip to p. 27, I've already cautioned mankind about this error: "Do not be impressed or daunted by the unimaginable vastness of the cosmos, for its size is simply a function of the time it has been expanding: as a matter of fact, we human observers have arrived on the scene just as quickly as this or any other universe will allow."

So don't complain about the long wait, for "from the standpoint of eternity, we have appeared in an instant overnight, like mushrooms out of a lawn or offers for discreet online pharmacies in your email."

Truly I say to you, we need to extricate ourselves from the whole scientistic thingy and reframe the existential data. Who says this isn't just what a mature cosmos looks like up close?

Unlike science, Petey and I do not ask readers to accept anything on faith. Rather, we rely on the strictest logic, although this only gets one so far, i.e., to the threshold of the divine. But that's still pretty far, at least compared to bonehead atheism.

Put it this way: if man is situated between two attractors, O and Ø, we believe we are not bragging if we claim to be able to help push you to the mid-point. But after that it is a matter of grace and effort, or (↑) and (↓), where it would be blasphemous or foolish or grandiose to pretend to usurp authority and influence. We are irreverent, but not irreverent enough to mess with the destiny of another! Let the Deepaks, Dalais, and Da Free Johns take the heat for that.

Gosh! that was a long riff on a single sentence in Who Designed the Designer? Not even a whole sentence, just the part that refers to an ultimate answer, an answer worthy of standing on its own two legs with no need of further explanation. One that finally extinguishes the otherwise infinite regression of Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

How about an infinite progression? I like the sound of that, because it implies that we are making progress rather than just dissolving into darkness and absurdity. Yes, that's the term we're looking for: an explanation that constitutes in an infinite progression, or an orthoparadoxical progress toward the Infinite and Eternal.

A "tip-off," writes Augros, "that a truth is universal and necessary is that you can't deny it without somehow affirming it."

A classic case would be "there is no such thing as truth." Another is the denial of free will, for no one denies free will without exempting himself. Leftism is full of similarly self-refuting principles, e.g., homosexuality is genetic while sexuality is a social construct, or women and men are identical so women need special protection by the state, or a female has a right to choose unless she is inconvenient to the mother, etc.

Augros describes some of the characteristics of the Ultimate Explanation we're talking about: such explanations "convict us of their truth independently of any particular cases that help us to conceive them. Once we conceive them, that's enough; our conviction is complete and does not increase when we see more examples of such statements." In short, these are not inductive generalizations but local crystallizations of a nonlocal Truth, either deductive or direct (i.e., intellection or poetic).

Augros says that "many trails lead to the first cause," but in actuality all trails must lead there. Scientism is like a pathological inversion of this, for all scientistic trails lead back and down to matter, energy, and chemistry. Again, the latter is an "ultimate" explanation until you ask, say, what energy actually is. If your interlocutor is intellectually honest, he will respond "who the hell knows?"

Which brings us back to paragraph one above, i.e., no explanation at all.

I really want to get a cosmic area rug for the slackatoreum. Maybe a fractal one. Then I can shake the surly bonds of the conspiracy by just staring down and gliding into eternity on wings of slack:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Big Man & Little Cosmos

If we ask ourselves what reality is "like," it is more like an economy or the weather than it is, say, the laws of physics, or chemistry, or electromagnetism. And when I say "like," this is because we can only use analogies in describing reality.

After all, reality is what it is, and there is only one. Moreover, we are in it, not outside it. Therefore, the best we can do is arrive at a more or less useful analogy, for we cannot know the thing itself. Only God can do that. In fact, that would be a good working definition of God: the being who knows the totality because he transcends it while being immanent in every part so ptee.

Once you realize that analogy is the only way to approach reality as such, then religion suddenly doesn't seem so cognitively unsophisticated -- except to the cognitively unsophisticated. What is especially unsophisticated is the naive belief that scientific truth is fungible with reality. If this were so, then the tenured could use the laws of physics to create their own universe. While they do dwell in their own private ego- and idahos, this is not how they manage that trick.

The laws of physics are just models, and a model is just an analogy. Thus, when physicists say that light is a wave or particle, depending upon how one looks at it, this is a function of the observer and his theory. It does not mean light is literally a particle or wave. Rather, light is what it is, while "particle" or "wave" are what we can say about it.

But no one can say what light actually is. Again, except God. In fact, man cannot say what a single thing is, not even himself. That being the case, why pretend to understand what things outside the self are?

It brings to mind the story of a person who asked a famous scientist for an explanation of electricity. After a demonstration of some of the many things electricity does, he "expressed his wish to be informed as to what electricity [is]." The scientist "patted his back and said: 'No matter, that is the only thing about electricity which you and I do not know'" (in Jaki).

So, we know everything about electricity except for what it actually is. But far from being an exception, this turns out the be the ironyclad rule: as we have expressed it in the past, we can only have (partial) knowledge of things because they are (ultimately) unknowable (by us).

That might sound a little cute, but it is a rockbottom ruling orthoparadox. For there are only two other possibilities, one or the other of which are probably believed by the majority of postmodern schlock mobsters.

That is, there is the credulous scientistic belief that we can actually know everything about something, perhaps even about everything, thus the equally ingenuous quest for the Theory of Everything; then there is the antipodal postmodern belief that we really don't know anything about anything, but are simply trapped in a circle of signifying jive where Power gets to define what reality is.

Or to paraphrase the song, clowns to the left of me, jokers to the far left. Or, Kant to the south of us, Derrida in hell.

One thing I learned -- or at least cannot unlearn -- from the late great Robert Rosen is that while physics is a fine and noble discipline, there is absolutely no reason to assume that it should be our paradigmatic science, the King of Epistemology, such that all other disciplines are its more or less distant subjects.

In this highly constricted and ultimately anti-human view, we start with physics, upon which chemistry is parasitic, followed by biology, psychology, and everything in between. Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, there are no gaps or spaces in this picture; rather, your last thought above is just a kind of emanation of the physics down below, like a breaking of existential wind.

Which it often is, but let's leave the left's behind for the moment.

The point is, if your world is organized by one of the above paradigms, the conspiracy has its teeth in your spiritual vitals, thus foreclosing the divine imagination, contracting time, and dimming the Spark. Or just say you are more or less bereft of space, time, and light.

Never forget that the main tool of the Conspiracy is existential shrinkage. The infertile eggheads of academia are just extreme cases of a more general phenomenon; likewise ovary tower feminists, credentialed sodomites, and dumb-as-a-postgraduate doctators.

So, analogy: what is the world like?

There is a whole school of thought that inverts the cosmos and regards it as a Big Man and man as the Little Cosmos. Is there something fundamentally wrong with this premise? For even the naive scientistian implicitly believes that the exterior world is somehow reflected in his head. This is what he calls "truth."

But how is this different from any other animal? In other words, if truth is just the correspondence between our mind and the world, that is a tautology. Besides, Gödel rendered that kind of rustic philosophizing inoperative. This is because any model we have of the world will contain assumptions or principles that cannot be explained by the model. How did they get there? And what reason do we have to believe them?

Let's go back to the idea that man is the microcosm and the cosmos the macro-anthropos. The question is not so much whether this is true as whether it is fruitful: does it get us anywhere, vertically speaking?

You know, until this moment I never thought I'd have any use for this book I bought a few decades ago, but this must be why I brought it home. It is The Secret Teachings of All Ages, and I have the now ridiculously expensive hardcover edition which is smaller still than the original. It's a beautiful book, but...

But nothing! Let's pry open the cosmic secret!

Hmm... I guess this would be closest, chapter LXXIII, THE HUMAN BODY IN SYMBOLISM, although there are a couple of good images from other chapters here and here.

Let's see what we have here. "The oldest, the most profound, the most universal of all symbols is the human body." Indeed, various ancient schools "considered a philosophical analysis of man's triune nature to be an indispensable part of ethical and religious training," such that "the laws, elements, and powers of the universe were epitomized in the human constitution; that everything that existed outside of man had its analogue within man" (emphasis mine).

As said at the top of this post, "The universe, being immeasurable in its immensity and inconceivable in its profundity, was beyond mortal estimation." That being the case, we might as well start with the close-at-hand; thus, "the early philosophers turned their attention from the inconceivable Divinity to man himself, within the narrow confines of whose nature they found manifested all the mysteries of the existential spheres."

With this in mind, perhaps we can see how Christ crucified becomes the last word in this way of looking at the world, or that that these ancient visions were stumbling and bumbling preminotions of the Incarnotion:

Is this idolatry? I don't think so, unless we confuse image with likeness and set about worshiping the former. Rather, the point is to see through them to what they represent.

"The philosophers of antiquity realized that man himself was the key to the riddle of life, for he was the living image of the Divine Plan," as fully realized in the Incarnation.

This too is helpful: "Both God and man have a twofold constitution, of which the superior part is invisible and the inferior visible" -- thus Paul's gag about the visible things of this world showing forth the invisible realities of God.

It's the same with man: when we say we know someone, it doesn't mean we've seen his physical form. Spirit is "anterior to form," which brings us back to the principle that we cannot begin with the mathematical forms of physics, for Spirit is before all that.

This notion of the microcosmic person is all over Finnegans Wake. Finnegan is indeed the Cosmic Person who lives in the broadest way immarginable in his rushlit toofarback for messuages before joshuan judges had given us numbers or Helviticus committed deuteronomy...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Psychic Space, Ultimate Causes, and the Containment of Being

As Augros correctly points out, everyone believes in a first cause, whether they say so or not. Rather, it's just the nature of this first cause, i.e., material or spiritual.

But if you think about it at all, then the first cause cannot be material, or we couldn't think about it at all. Rather, thought itself would simply be a more or less distant prolongation of matter, and matter doesn't think.

First of all, must there be a first cause, or can causes just keep going on back or down forever? If they did go on forever, this would be analogous to objects being suspended in mid-air -- like a chain extending from a lamp but connected to nothing above.

In fact, that is how Stanley Jaki puts it: "the reality of one's free will bring[s] one face to face with that realm of metaphysical reality which hangs in mid-air unless suspended from that Ultimate Reality best called God, the Creator."

In short, man's mysterious ability to initiate a causal series (as discussed yesterday) is not like the lamp that dangles from nothing, but rather, hangs from the Creator. To extend the metaphor, the converse view would be analogous to expecting a chain to stand up on its own, with the lamp at the top. Sure, anything can happen, but which explanation is more likely, barring magic?

"Free will is experienced personally and in that sense is subjectivity itself." Think about that one, for what is subjectivity but a space between instinct and expression, impulse and act, desire and fulfillment? In the material world there is no such delay: kick a can down the road, and it doesn't hesitate a moment before deciding which way to go. Rather, there is no space between cause and effect.

Which means that man must in a sense dwell between cause and effect. Which brings us right back 'round to economics, because if man weren't capable of delaying gratification, there could be no economics. All of economics takes place in that universe of alternative uses, and a deterministic universe has no alternatives. As a wise man once said in another context, no alternative, no problem.

Make no mistake, there are tenured people in high places -- or high people in tenured places -- who believe this rot. The average physicist, for example, will say that free will is an illusion. Why? Because the intellectual paradigm he chooses to live in doesn't permit it. Trying to squeeze free will into physics utterly overturns the paradigm: it is the ultimate black swan that disproves the whole enterprise, at least in terms of being an all-encompassing metaphysic.

Therefore, it is better to deny free will than to lose the precious paradigm. Which says something very interesting about human beings. It reminds me of Harry Harlowe's attachment studies, in which the baby monkeys prefer the cloth mommy with no food to the wire mommy with a milk bottle. In short, they prefer attachment to food. They will take just enough nourishment to survive before scurrying back to the cloth mother.

Oops. We're unexpectedly getting deep down into attachment theory, which is one of the keys to the human kingdom.

Let's go back to the human space in which we live. Presumably, in our intra-uterine life this space must be attenuated, in that the umbilical cord assures that needs are met before we can even be aware of them -- barring extraordinary circumstances such as starvation in the mother (or some other exigencies that we won't go into).

But what is so dodgy about the extra-uterine state is this sudden awareness of "need." However, we can't even say need, because this is just a word, and babies don't have words. It's not even a "state of mind," because it goes deeper than that. Rather, it is a new state of being, and it seems that human beings never completely reconcile themselves to this state -- or perhaps we're in the evolutionary process of coming to terms with it, or I would be out of business.

As the recently late James Grotstein put it, "From one point of view one can consider all psychopathology as due to the failure, to one degree or another, of proper attachment and bonding."

It sounds simple enough, but it's much more complicated than mere physics, for which reason it is perhaps understandable that the physicist might want to seek emotional refuge in his cloth-monkey mythematical abstractions. Strokes & folks.

As Grotstein characterizes them,

"These developmental sequences are determined by a fantastic, almost surrealistically complex choreography that integrates postnatal anatomic and neurochemical development so that they unfold in an intricately coordinated series of contacts with the maternal-social environment -- all in an orchestration of specifically timed phases of availability to a holding environment of appropriate, mediating caregiver functions that at first sooth, validate, and confirm, then stimulate, challenge, and encourage, the sequential interventions that appear to be absolutely necessary for neural development -- and, as a consequence, the roots of the infant's emotional development -- to occur."

First of all, I dare anyone to diagram that sentence.

"Put another way," writes the Germanically prolix Dr. G., "it is the prefrontal cortex generally -- and the right hemispheric orbito-frontal cortex specifically -- that is most responsible for the establishment and mediation -- and even development of the humanness of the infant!"

Well, why didn't you say so!

I read somewhere that there is a website called "explain it to a five year old." Others through history have implied that if you cannot do so, then you really don't understand your subject.

What is really going on here is that we are born into a world in which our minds -- our being -- are not contained. You could say that we are in a space, but that the space is unbounded and therefore anxiety-provoking in the extreme.

Perhaps you've just never noticed it because you enjoyed good-enough parenting. It is one of those things that will only be noticed if Something Went Wrong at the outset -- and even then, it will require personal insight.

I'll give a random example of someone who never managed to contain herself, with devastating consequences, the immortal Dusty Springfield. I haven't read the biography, but just from samples and reader reviews it is obvious that she suffered from a Borderline Personality Disorder, which is one of the most serious attachment disorders out there. Sexual identity confusion, self-loathing, grandiosity, poor impulse control, self-medicating (i.e., attempted emotional containment via drugs), she had it all.

And now I'm suddenly out of time. I don't know if we got anywhere, but there it is.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Summa Total of God and Economics

Random thoughts from the vertical spindle.

To be a consequence of forces exterior to oneself is to be a liberal. Therefore, a liberal is someone who pretends to be responsible for others while having no responsibility over himself. This infinite regression grounds the ideology in irrationality.

This thought was prompted by a book I've never gotten around to discussing, Who Designed the Designer?, which is of course a stupid question -- which never stops atheists -- because God is in principle without cause. Rather, he is the uncaused initiator of vertical causes.

And man is in his image. Or better, -- let's keep an open mind -- man either is or is not in God's image. If he is, then this would explain how it is that man is the only being in creation who can be a self-conscious initiator of causes, including causes "of" himself. Or in other words, this is why man is capable of conscious change and growth. He is the being who can always get better. Or worse, if he forsakes the imperative to transcend his sorry ass.

Dávila wrote over 10,000 aphorisms, but one of my favorites is The permanent possibility of initiating a causal series is what we call a person. Never before in the field of human comment have so few syllables given so much truth to so damn few of us.

In short, we have the possibility of initiating change, AKA potential; and not only, for this must be a permanent possibility, for the very reason that it is a prolongation of the Permanent. Otherwise it has no explanation, for which reason it is understandable that the left would prefer to just make it go away.

But this still makes imperfect nonsense, for what prompts the white liberal to believe, say, that the poor black person is incapable of change, such that only the intervention of white liberal statists can change him? Is this because the white liberal is a person -- i.e., capable of self-change -- and the black person is something less?

In a word, yesandno. The only thing that saves them from overt racism is the belief that white liberals are equally bereft of free will, thus the deranged axiom that we are all racist.

First of all, like anyone could know that. And even if that were true we couldn't know it, because we wouldn't have the freedom to do so. Nevertheless, it means that for the white liberal, the black person is as incapable of controlling his impulse to commit crime as is the white person incapable of controlling his impulse to despise blacks. Both forms of mental slavery require a ginormous state to remedy them.

I know, the whole thing makes no sense, but we must try to understand the sense it does make to the person whose life is organized around this nonsense. Not all religions make rational sense, you know.

By the way, perhaps you have noticed -- I have -- that I haven't been discussing overtly spiritual subjects as much lately, say, an arcanum-by-arcanum discussion of Meditations on the Tarot, or a book-by-book analysis of Balthasar's Theologic, or a comparison of Meister Eckhart and Abhishiktananda.

Well, what I believe I am attempting to do is widen out the cosmic perspective so as to have an all-embracing view of the totality, including things that aren't typically thought of as particularly theological, such as economics.

But just this weekend it came to me quite dramatically that economics is very much at the heart of the whole existentialada. This was brought home to me while reading the excellent Popular Economics. I suppose that whenever and whatever I read I'm always making farflung connections between this and that. For me, nothing is simply what it is, but rather, densely connected to everything else, both horizontally and vertically, making it something else. Everything is relationship and process, not monad and stasis.

Well, in reading this book it occurred to me that even the staunchest defender of the free market is missing an important and even insane point in not tying it together with God. The first thing a vulgar troll will say is something along the lines of "this is nothing new. Religious wackos have always deployed God as an excuse to justify inequality," or some other such nonsense.

That is not at all what we are saying, even though we will say that inequality is most certainly from God. In other words, God is the very principle that accounts for all this hierarchical diversity. In the absence of God, there would be no inequality, just a blob of undifferentiated oneness. And it is because of inequality that equality (or the dynamic movement toward it) is possible. Pure equality would prevent the dynamic tension that has lifted man out of universal poverty -- as in communism, or in human history prior to the market revolution.

As usual, Dávila puts it most succinctly: Hierarchies are heavenly. In Hell all are equal. Or, If men were born equal, they would invent inequality to kill the boredom.

To demand more of the government is to expect less of ourselves. To be Obama is to expect nothing of us except to be in the way. To be something other than a bag of wet cement is to interfere with his plan for progress.

However, to understand progress one must be capable of distinguishing it from regress. And The egalitarian passion is a perversion of the critical sense: atrophy of the faculty of discrimination. The end result is that people like Obama, who are in no position to even identify progress, are forcing it upon us.

Let's go back to what we said above about persons having the potential to initiate change, AKA liberty. Freedom is not a "thing," but a space and a vector. As Dávila says, it is indispensable not because man knows what he wants and who he is, but so he can find out who he is and what he wants.

This means that the state can only "give" a kind of faux-freedom that actually diminishes it, because freedom can only be allowed and protected. For example, to "give" Obamacare or "homosexual marriage" is to deny a host of personal freedoms. It's only starting.

Let me see if I can wrap some words around the thought I had yesterday about God and economics.

Not sure if I can do that, but perhaps I can relate some notes to myself, the sum of which may just be greater than the parts (all inspired if not plagiarized from Popular Economics).

--Membership in the "1%" never lasts long, any more than it does in professional sports

--If you don't like the wealthy, prove it by ceasing to enjoy all the things they made possible, like your smart phone, or boner pills, or automobile

--Forced equality is a ban on success

--A free economy is an information processing system that will generate inequality by matching ideas with capital

--Which is why "supply side" economics is the idea side, the creativity side, the prosperity side

--One must produce or supply something of value before being a consumer

--For which reason it is kooky to believe in Keynesian demand-side macroeconomics

--No one was demanding smart phones before they were supplied by creative people with ideas; conversely, but no amount of consumer demand will make a failed government policy go away

--Taxes are a penalty on work, and ultimately punishment of the productive in order to reward the unproductive

--The capital gains tax is a penalty on success and discouragement of risk

--People only risk because things are unequal. If things were equal, there would be no reason whatsoever to take a risk

--The creative person needs capital to transform ideas into reality

--Why not call it dynamic and generative disequilibrium instead of inequality?

--Under conditions of freedom, not everyone need concern himself with material disequilibrium. For example, I prefer to spend my life thinking about the disequilibrium between myself and God, and doing something about it; time is scarce and has alternative uses, not all of which are about money

--The most significant and consequential facts about a free economy cannot be measured or reduced to quantity. Doing so will entirely miss all the dreadful things that don't happen because of it, nor does it begin to appreciate all the miraculous things that occur when idea meets capital and places a bet on the ability to satisfy a need or desire in man

I'll give you folks the freedom to add it all up. I'm outta here.