Friday, April 22, 2016

Conservatism = Enjoyment

So, acedia is at bottom a refusal to carry out the work of becoming oneself. It is both a cause and consequence of boredom, and boredom is a much more serious problem than people realize. It is the source of much liberal mischief and mayhem, since a person who isn't bored with his own life won't generally try to get his jollies by interfering with other people's lives.

In fact, experts say that the #1 cause of aggravated noodgery is boredom.

Acedia is associated with a "wandering unrest of the spirit" (Pieper). This is because the spiritual life draws us toward our center, such that the alternative is a flight to the periphery of ourselves; the acediacidal mooniac "has to make the vain attempt to break out of his own center -- for example, into restless work [or "activism"] for the sake of work," or "into the unquenchable curiosity for pure spectacle," or into the myriad ways "of abandoning oneself to the world" and ultimately avoiding onesoph.

This is the same unrest that drives one of those compulsive fallow travelers "from one part of the world to another." It also goes to "the endless talk that fills up everyday existence." Ever been to a house where the TV is on all the time, even though no one is watching it? More generally, it's becoming impossible to avoid the Screen, whether at the doctor's office, airport, gas pumps, etc. Why is that? I would say it's not even distraction; rather, distraction from distraction.

Which is again a capital sin. Acedia is full of possibilities, none of them good. It is as if the acediac "wishes that God had not given him this gift" -- i.e., the Adventure of Consciousness -- "but had 'left him in peace.'" He "does not want to attain the end which is really designed for him and is appropriate for him" (Pieper).

Interestingly, because acedia is misleadingly translated as "sloth," you wouldn't know that acedia and leisure are at antipodes. In other words, laziness has nothing to do with genuine Slack.

Many things in life legitimately serve other purposes, such as working in order to eat. But leisure involves activities -- or inactivities -- which serve no purpose outside themselves. Their value is intrinsic, not extrinsic. And all of the higher and laughty things in life are intrinsic, e.g., love, truth, beauty, humor, music, baseball, this blog, etc.

There is servitude and there is freedom, and only the intrinsic is truly free. This was originally the difference between the liberal and servile arts. Which is ironic, because today's unemployable liberal arts major has, of course, obtained a degree in a "useless" subject.

However, the degree is doubly useless, because it has neither extrinsic nor intrinsic value. Rather, it's just very expensive unalloyed bullshit -- a total waste. And it certainly doesn't contribute to personal liberation, rather, to the auto-oppression of liberal victim ideology.

Someone left a comment on yesterday's post adverting to the importance of ears over eyes, of hearing over seeing. Well, "Leisure is precisely that form of silence which is a presupposition for hearing something" (ibid.).

Like right now, I'm banging at the keys but I'm listening at the same time, for "Only the silent person is able to hear. Leisure is the attitude of purely receptive immersion of the self into reality; the soul's openness, to which alone are given the very great fulfilling insights that no [mere] 'intellectual work' can achieve" (ibid.).

Not so much cerebration as celebration. I think it was Russell Kirk who said that the essence of conservatism is enjoyment. It is enjoyment because it is rooted in the feast of the now which extends backward and forward, down and up, all the way into eternity. It is "to see the world as a whole and to celebrate it," to experience ourselves as "related to the totality of the world through a free activity" (Pieper).

And through such truly free activity we crown the creation which has only been groaning for this liberation for like 14 billion years...

18 Comments:

Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Not so much cerebration as celebration. I think it was Russell Kirk who said that the essence of conservatism is enjoyment. It is enjoyment because it is rooted in the feast of the now which extends backward and forward, down and up, all the way into eternity. It is "to see the world as a whole and to celebrate it," to experience ourselves as "related to the totality of the world through a free activity" (Pieper)."

I'm at home, sick with a beastly cold, and the musical son is home on his lunchbreak, doodling on the acoustic guitar. Strumming along, playing pieces of songs, and then in out of some bridging notes there's a change in emphasis, it's like a hunting dog that's caught the scent of the elusive raccoon. Two or three notes gotten a hold of, flexing them this way and that, and then with a shake, boom, there it is, a new song, he's got it and is taking its measure, and I've no doubt I'll be hearing it in one form or another, for weeks or months to come.

Sick? Pshaw! Celebration.

Really dreading the day he moves out of the house.

4/22/2016 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Ever been to a house where the TV is on all the time, even though no one is watching it?

I hate that. I will turn the music off in my truck if somebody starts talking, and I do not like to talk during a movie. If it's "Rio Bravo" while Dean and Ricky are singing, that's one thing but you really can't multi-task.

4/22/2016 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

And all of the higher and laughty things in life are intrinsic, e.g., love, truth, beauty, humor, music, baseball, this blog, etc.

Baseball used evolution to get Ozzie Smith.

4/22/2016 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

My son can now do a flip like Ozzie. I'm trying to get him to do one before a game. Maybe if we make the finals...

4/22/2016 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Allena said...

"So, acedia is at bottom a refusal to carry out the work of becoming oneself. It is both a cause and consequence of boredom, and boredom is a much more serious problem than people realize. It is the source of much liberal mischief and mayhem, since a person who isn't bored with his own life won't generally try to get his jollies by interfering with other people's lives.
In fact, experts say that the #1 cause of aggravated noodgery is boredom."

I haven't been bored for so long I can no longer imagine how I ever could be bored to begin with.
That's a frustration and waste of time that I do not miss!
I think there is a correlation between thankfulness and slack while bitterness is associated with boredom.

Or, to file it down some more:
Thankfulness = freedom
and bitterness =slavery.
Hence, boredom is a result of slavery.

4/22/2016 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ever been to a house where the TV is on all the time, even though no one is watching it?

Torment.

Just as bad, the shows people usually turn to when they can't stand the sound of their own thoughts tend to be the worst sorts of talking-head crapola. Like they crave the sound of someone talking at them, especially if the talker can make it sound really important.

Thus the popularity of daytime talk shows, I guess.

Which isn't to say I'm not guilty of screen overindulgence, just that I like to pretend I have more control of the content...

4/22/2016 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Allena said...

It jest occured to me that I'm not a dumbass (well, not totally), nor am I a wise guy.
So I must be a wiseass (ok I know that's, um debatable but let's roll wirh that shall we?).

4/22/2016 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

More generally, it's becoming impossible to avoid the Screen, whether at the doctor's office, airport, gas pumps, etc. Why is that?

Makes me think of Fahrenheit 451. Of all of the striking imagery in that book, even at the young age I first read it, the idea of the picture walls in every house that people talked to, that became their "family", was the one that struck me as being the most disturbing. Other imagery, such as the hound, may have been more deliberately unsettling, but from the moment I read about them, those walls creeped me out because I felt like I would see them happen in my lifetime.

I once read a short story by Bradbury about a man who comes across a crowd of people on a train playing a conman's game of three card monte. The man keeps trying to tell the crowd that the game can't be won, that they are being taken for all they have, but eventually the crowd, annoyed that their fun is being interrupted, turns violent, beats the man and throws him from the train. After reading it, I couldn't help feeling that it must have been a sort of prototype or inspiration for F451.

4/22/2016 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger doug saxum said...

.."Only the silent person is able to hear.."

I have music going through my head most of the time. Its usually the last song I hear.
Drives me a little nuts sometimes.

4/23/2016 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger Allena said...

"I have music going through my head most of the time."

I can relate to that. There's rarely any moments Where I don't have music in my head, heart n' spirit.
The only thing that I find annoying is tinnitus..
Which is yet another reason I have music playing so often, as if I needed anymore, lol.

4/23/2016 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Have you tried a magnesium supplement for the tinnitus? We started taking it a couple months back because my husband was getting migraines from the kids being noisy. Granted, they really are loud, but not that loud. Looked it up, and apparently a lot of common ear problems in adults - like hearing sensitivity and tinnitus - have to do with low magnesium. A little more research, and it turned out that magnesium helps with a lot of issues including restless leg syndrome, which I've been struggling with for years. Or had been, rather. It's totally gone now. And he hasn't had a noise-related headache, so far as I know. I would suggest trying it for anyone having any of the symptoms associated with low magnesium; when it helps, it's amazing.

Also, if you take a ppi long term, maybe consider stopping, and research how to do it. Not easy, but definitely worth it.

4/23/2016 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Allena said...

Thanks Julie!
I will look into that. Hopefully, that will help.
I have 100mg of magnesium in the vitamins I take, but that's only about 25% of the daily recommendation, so I will definitely get done supplements.

4/23/2016 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

I just randomly came across an interview with climate change guru Bill McKibben, where he said that the problem is so vast that it won't be solved by individual actions anymore. And then he said: "The most important thing the individual can do is stop being an individual." And there is the green movement summed up.

4/24/2016 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous It's the culture said...

By historic definition, I have only ever been a lifelong conservative. I’ve always believed that anyone should only reap what they sow after much disciplined cultivation of effort. And that the ‘set point’ of rule of law erring on the side of this philosophy results in a better life for us all. I believe that in either private or government realms, only excellence should rise into positions of power.

I’ve seen many of what I’d call “cult conservatives” join the fold. They’re usually former lefties/liberals who’ve had a ‘sudden epiphany’, or simply went along with the herd... and are now one of us. Some of them really do walk their talk, which impresses me. But I’m running into too many who appear to have simply transferred all their sense of entitlement, all their self-righteous self-importance, to the other political side, and with the usual defense mechanisms, continue to blind themselves to the truth about themselves. In short, in this competitive capitalist world, they still believe in cheating. And they’re just better at hiding that fact from themselves now that they’re “conservative”.

(Disclaimer: I do not believe that anybody who writes or comments here falls into that category.)

4/24/2016 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous It's the culture said...

I believe in climate change. I do not believe throwing money and government bureaucracy is any kind of answer, more likely causing more (mostly unforeseen) problems than they could ever solve. Yet cult conservatives have difficulty seeing that distinction. Is that wrong?

4/24/2016 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

It's the culture said "I’ve seen many of what I’d call “cult conservatives” join the fold. They’re usually former lefties/liberals who’ve had a ‘sudden epiphany’, or simply went along with the herd... and are now one of us."

Yep. 911 was a big epiphany causer. The 2008 financial bailouts and healthcare, woke people up to the need to step up and voice those concerns, which is where the initial Tea Party people came from.

There were enough of us already focused on the Constitution, and the ideas behind it, to keep the focus on a classical liberal, limited govt, line, through 2012. But since so many Tea Party candidates were either sucked into the D.C. way of doing things, or sidelined by it, or out and out sabotaged by the status quo powers, many of those whose epiphanies went only slogan deep, have joined up with those whose political thoughts run no deeper than pop-Americana, and they're all more than happy to use power to get what they want, right or wrong.

4/24/2016 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

It's the culture said "I believe in climate change."

I believe the climate changes. I also believe that until we fully understand how and why it changes, any and all organized attempts to use govt power to 'fix' it, are just excuses by govt powers to not let a perceived crisis, go to waste.











4/24/2016 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous It's the culture said...

Van, this isn’t the most inspiring thought, but “excellence” is outnumbered by mediocrity. Always has been always will be. How to change the culture of the average joe to respect achievement seems a daunting task. I think of Richard Dawkins asking people to “just enjoy your life”. I know better. If the average joe gave up their spirituality I think it’d be like dropping a cultural bomb on the world. How to educate them on the overall benefits of respecting one’s place in life? I don’t know. Most people don’t seem to have the time to care. But they still revere age in the far east...

I live in an area typified by the blog “Maggies Farm”. Same kind of people different region. In better times we’d mostly be self-sufficient farmers. But today we all have to deal with a large city for our survival. Back home in the exurban sticks all we want are decent roads, schools and law enforcement, and we’ll handle the rest. Yet our historically Republican representatives have been so sucked into the system, nothing gets done. Apparently as long as there are problems they’ll have a job.

We are fighting against a mandatory septic inspection tax, initiated by a dozen Indian fisherman and one county official I see as just trying to expand his pay grade. There are far worse problems to deal with than a tiny percentage of neglectful septic owners. The first thing the official did was call for community meetings which sounded reasonable on the surface, but then I noticed the list of attendees... septic contractors, paid environmental types, county officials, lawyers... Yeah, those most likely to profit from such a mandating.

What I try to do is stay active locally, mostly as an experiment. I’m trying to see how much influence one can have on the neighborhood political culture. I’ve seen some results. Preaching anything resembling dogma doesn’t work, but sticking to the issues as closely as possible, especially financial, and demanding people just do their jobs to deliver results, sometimes does.

4/24/2016 04:31:00 PM  

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