Thursday, April 21, 2016

Liberalism: The Lazy Man's Way to Hell

Continuing with our little exploration of the nature (and supernature) of selfhood, Pieper has a relevant chapter in his book Tradition as Challenge (meh, not really recommended), called The Hidden Nature of Hope and Despair. In it he discusses an important subject -- acedia -- that we maybe haven't blah-blah-blogged about as much as we should; a quick search finds it mentioned in only seven posts.

For Kierkegaard acedia is a kind of "despair from weakness" which, according to Pieper, "consists in man not daring to be himself, even explicitly not wanting to be himself. He refuses to be what he really is; he does not accept his own being."

Now, this usually occurs as a result a failure of one's being to be affirmed by one's parents. In other words, what begins with a perceived rejection (of the child's developing self) ends in a refusal (of one's being). The child internalizes this rejection, essentially foreclosing his true self before the world can re-traumatize him by rejecting it again. It's a pre-emptive auto-destruction.

Back in the 1970s, a brilliant and sensitive psychoanalytic theorist named Heinz Kohut elaborated a whole developmental theory based on this idea, called self psychology.

It's quite simple really (and also common freaking sense). In order to avoid various developmental catastrophes, the child most needs two things: a person to empathically mirror him and a person to idealize. With obvious overlap and exceptions, the former role often fell mostly to the mother, the latter to the father. Failure of either results in various forms of pathological narcissism and other psychological illnesses.

A normal person never loses the need for both types of relationships. And now that I think about it, it is easy to see how, for example, failure to have a proper ego ideal can result in acedia and developmental stasis. In other words, we always need exemplars to look up to and emulate. I can totally see this in my son. It began with me, but it has branched off into other similarly awesome heroic and virtuous self-objects (the technical term for these relations).

If you want to bring this down to a very concrete level, consider the failure of Obama's self-objects (his worthless mother and alcoholic, bigamist, and manslaughtering father), and how he found his ego ideals in disreputable types such as Frank Marshall Davis, Jeremiah Wright, Saul Alinsky, Bill Ayers, and other lowlife demonoids.

You can't ask someone who has never known normality to understand why, say, we have different restrooms for boys and girls. And our culture is cranking out more and more narcissistically damaged and therefore fundamentally confused people, in my opinion (partly) because of widespread single parenthood and abandonment of children to daycare. How could this not have damaging psychological consequences?

As we've mentioned before, acedia has been poorly translated as sloth, which connotes laziness or lack of productivity. But what it really means is "that a person does not engage in working at his own self-realization, that he refuses to make the required contribution to his own truly human existence" (Pieper).

Again, it doesn't refer to exterior but interior work, i.e., "to the carrying out of [one's] personal being, a duty which we know -- without a word being spoken, yet unmistakably -- that we are required to perform" (ibid.). It's your cosmic duty! What did that fellow say? "The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint."

Failure to answer your telosphone is a Big Mistake, because it's God calling: there's a reason why acedia is a capital sin, because so many other sins flow out of it: "In sloth..., man resists the demand which comes with the dignity of his own status.... above all, he does not want to be that to which God has raised him -- a level of being far above what his purely human nature can achieve" (Pieper).

And the most catastrophic outcome occurs when the narcissistically wounded person props up his own damaged self as his ego ideal. This is why sin and madness flow from the Obama administration like a toxic stream from its swollen headwaters.

44 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

And the most catastrophic outcome occurs when the person props up his own damaged self as his ego ideal. This is why sin and madness flow from the Obama administration like a toxic stream from its swollen headwaters.

There is a certain deal of comfort in knowing oneself for an assoul. It means one must look out and especially up for direction on how best to live.

4/21/2016 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. despair, that seems a particular danger these days. There are very few trends to be seen which don't leave sane people shaking their heads and thinking, "this won't end well."

4/21/2016 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The Constitution was specifically designed to avoid an Obama. He only gets away with it because he's black. For the left, blackness literally absolves a multitude of sins.

4/21/2016 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Allena-C said...

"A normal person never loses the need for both types of relationships. And now that I think about it, it is easy to see how, for example, failure to have a proper ego ideal can result in acedia and developmental stasis. In other words, we always need exemplars to look up to and emulate. I can totally see this in my son. It began with me, but it has branched off into other similarly awesome heroic and virtuous self-objects (the technical term for these relations)."

Well, it pretty much goes without saying that I am not normal, and yet, I still feel a need for both types of relationships, and a need for exemplars. Which is a good thing, because otherwise I might have turned into a leftist or (shudder) be like Obama.

I'm not saying that completely jestifies who I am (I know no matter what I do or say, there will be people who despise me) but it could've been a hell of a lot worse! Jest sayin'. :)

4/21/2016 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

"Failure to answer your telosphone is a Big Mistake, because it's God calling"

*golf clap* (but loving it)

Pieper: ""that a person does not engage in working at his own self-realization, that he refuses to make the required contribution"

right, and this is also a way of saying that integrity takes effort. but why make the effort when there are limitless identities you can just try on and take off? your identity is just a construction, which means it can be constructed and deconstructed pretty much at will. thus "postmodern" people make dandy consumers.

4/21/2016 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

AC: Ever heard of Deirdre McCloskey? A respected conservative economist who used to be Donald! I believe she wrote a book on the transition....

4/21/2016 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Allena-C said...

Thanks Bob, I will definitely read that book.

4/21/2016 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

As one who comes from a dsyfunctional family, I certainly was not mirrored in the way I needed, nor did I have great exemplars to idealize in my family. While this certainly f'd me up in certain ways through my adolescent and early adulthood years, I did possess some x factor to know that this wasn't my true being (and I was willing to go as far down the rabbit hole as I needed to get to the other side). Why Truth becomes primary for some, and not others, is a mystery.

4/21/2016 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Here's the book...

4/21/2016 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Now, this usually occurs as a result a failure of one's being to be affirmed by one's parents."

Is it just me, or is there something not quite right about that sentence?

4/21/2016 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Allena-C said...

Wow! The difficulties I have had pale compared to Deirdre McCloskey's!

4/21/2016 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

And our culture is cranking out more and more narcissistically damaged and therefore fundamentally confused people, in my opinion (partly) because of widespread single parenthood and abandonment of children to daycare.

I was thinking along these lines earlier this morning before reading this. Why are people no longer able to see abnormality as abnormal? The K-12 indoctrination system was the first answer that came to mind. Single parents and daycare would line right up with it.

We are not saying we should burn people at the stake. It's just a recognition that something somewhere went wrong, and it would probably have been better for everybody if it hadn't. We are supposed to accept the "new normal". To me that's like being on the Titantic and saying, "Hitting an iceberg is just an alternative way to get to New York."

For some folks, I suppose it was, but it was a pretty rough way to go. For others, the self-destruction leads straight to the bottom.

4/21/2016 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Van -- it has a kind of technical meaning... You could say, "recognized." I know my parents didn't really recognize who I was, and that it was only through a fortuitous series of providential coincidences that I found me.

4/21/2016 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

I think I got the intention, but I had to manfully struggle through the wording ' as a result a failure of one's being to be affirmed... maybe 'as a result of failing to be affirmed...'? Or maybe '... Now, this usually occurs as a result of a failure of one's being, to be affirmed by one's parents....'

I dunno, maybe it's just me.

4/21/2016 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

From the linked article on self psychology: "Kohut maintained that parents' failures to empathize with their children and the responses of their children to these failures were 'at the root of almost all psychopathology.' For Kohut, the loss of the other and the other's self-object function leaves the individual apathetic, lethargic, empty of the feeling of life, and without vitality -- in short, depressed."

You can sense this in all important relationships -- a physical feeling of deflation when there is a lack of attunement. It's all the more intense in early childhood, since the relationship with the mother is "everything."

I remember studies of infant observation showing that some one third of mothers fail to empathically attune with their children. A trip to the park or supermarket on a weekday confirms this finding.

4/21/2016 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Makes me wanna smack some of these mothers... which makes me wonder about the link between spousal abuse and childhood lack of attunement. Seems like a no-brainer.

4/21/2016 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"It's quite simple really (and also common freaking sense). In order to avoid various developmental catastrophes, the child most needs two things: a person to empathically mirror him and a person to idealize. With obvious overlap and exceptions, the former role often fell mostly to the mother, the latter to the father."

That does seem like blindingly common sense, which probably explains why it isn't more commonly realized. And thinking back on my childhood, and or kids, it seems so clear that that is obviously what is going on. Bam, right between the I's.

4/21/2016 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Allena-C said...

"I remember studies of infant observation showing that some one third of mothers fail to empathically attune with their children. A trip to the park or supermarket on a weekday confirms this finding."

Reason number one why I prefer to shop at night. Thankfully, Walmart is open 24 hours. :)

4/21/2016 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Is there any way we can tie Prince in to all of this?

4/21/2016 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Is there any way we can't?

4/21/2016 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He certainly struck me as a Michael Jackson-level nut. I'm sure we'll find out more than we ever wanted to know...

4/21/2016 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Allena said...

Julie, lol

4/21/2016 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What I would have wanted to say to Prince is, "Jeez, can't you keep those sorts of things to yourself? Why do you need to sing about them? There's this thing called 'discretion'..."

4/21/2016 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Well, rock n roll has always been about that. But some artists are better with the metaphors.

4/21/2016 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Symbolism and subtlety render everything more, not less, meaningful, with the added benefit of not destroying the Mystery.

4/21/2016 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Allena said...

Discretion is the better part of valor.
Other than Little Red Corvette I really couldn't relate to his music.

4/21/2016 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Well said. I will bookmark that one! Still, the 1999 album was a good listen at the time.

4/21/2016 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "There's this thing called 'discretion'..."

'Why you dis'n mah cretin?!'

"♫♪ 'Cause it's a raspberry beret...♫♪♫"

There you go.

4/21/2016 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I bought & listened to 1999 back when it came out in 1983, or whatever it was. But that was a former Bob...

Come to think of it, I actually saw him live, back before he broke through, as the opening act for the Rolling Stones. Must have been 1981 or so. He was booed off the stage! I remember people throwing stuff at him. No doubt he was a dynamic performer, but I'll take James Brown. Now, there's a musical immortal.

4/21/2016 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

At the Rolling Stones concert, I remember Prince dressed in a floor length coat, which he pulled open to reveal thigh-high boots with little panties. The audience couldn't relate.

4/21/2016 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Ha ha! It's like having Caitlyn Jenner at a Trump rally.

4/21/2016 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

More of a generational thing. "Conservative" Stones fans reacting angrily to novelty.

4/21/2016 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Allena said...

Ted,
Especially since Caitlyn Jenner supports Ted Cruz. :)

4/21/2016 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Allena-C said...

Blogger Gagdad Bob said...
At the Rolling Stones concert, I remember Prince dressed in a floor length coat, which he pulled open to reveal thigh-high boots with little panties. The audience couldn't relate."

I don't blame them, I cam't relate either. I could only imagine the reaction if that had happened at The Outlaws concert I went to. Not good, lol.

4/21/2016 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Allena-C said...

Hmm, for some reason I cannot determine, when I use my phone to comment it only shows "Allena" instead of "Allena-C" but it is me, regardless.

4/21/2016 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, it was a case of Worlds Colliding.

The same thing happened at a concert I attended in 1975, when Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show opened for Sparks.

4/21/2016 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Looking like Prince OD'ed. If so, I'm gonna say called it @ 12:02.

4/21/2016 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger doug saxum said...

And the most catastrophic outcome occurs when the person props up his own damaged self as his ego ideal.

Dang, that strikes a chord.
Something to guard against everyday....

I wonder if you would have an opinion on a question that came up on,...
https://pjmedia.com/faith/2016/04/19/can-christians-smoke-marijuana/

4/22/2016 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

For all his quirks, Prince was believed to be someone who lived a clean life and was very anti-drugs. But he could have succumbed to pain killers. And Keith Richards keeps on tickin.

4/22/2016 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Reading an interesting book by Jeremey Naydler. He makes an interesting point that in ancient Egypt people used listening as the primary sense to engage the world, but then the Greeks came along and began to privalege the eye - cluminating with the western Enlightenment. While this was helpful towards scientific advancements, it also moved us away from engaging the world more w(holy).

Listening welcomes the engagement of the other senses, whereas looking tends to thrust them to the periphery. The cultivation of the art of listening accordingly brings in its train a general reawakening of all the senses, including—ultimately—the eye.

This made me realize why we more closely identify with musicians than actors. We feel a deeper intimacy with them through the form of their art. Also explains why people get more depressed when they lose their hearing than people who lose their sight.

4/22/2016 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Doug:

I don't think there's an unambiguous Christian answer to your question; it partly depends on the individual person and the reason they're using it. Having said that, I'd avoid it just because of how potent it has become -- it is exponentially more powerful than it was back when I was in college. Plus it stays in the brain. Worst of all, it is apparently implicated in the nightmare of manboobs.

4/22/2016 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger doug saxum said...

Manboobs!?
Damn...

I used to smoke a little after work and study the book of Isaiah while listening to DMX on the surround sound.
Epic time in my life.

4/23/2016 12:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What I would have wanted to say to Prince is, "Jeez, can't you keep those sorts of things to yourself? Why do you need to sing about them? There's this thing called 'discretion'..."

Jeez Bob. There's a loose thread dangling from your sheep skin.

Would that wwweb pundits will offer the same deep insights into your own creative efforts.

4/23/2016 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good point. I'll try to write less about my sex life.

4/23/2016 03:17:00 PM  

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