Friday, November 18, 2016

Strange Bedfellows: Romance & Politics

I recently finished a book called Extravagant Expectations: New Ways to Find Romantic Love in America, after reading of it in another book by Theodore Dalrymple. The premise sounded fascinating: what do personal ads tell us about who we are and who we have become? Professor Backflap relieves me of the burden of explaining the whole idea:

"Hollander investigates how Americans today pursue romantic relationships, with special reference to the advantages and drawbacks of Internet dating compared to connections made in school, college, and the workplace. By analyzing printed personals, dating websites, and advice offered by pop psychology books, he examines the qualities that people seek in a partner and also assesses the influence of the remaining conventional ideas of romantic love.

"Hollander suggests that notions of romantic love have changed due to conflicting values and expectations and the impact of pragmatic considerations. Individualism, high expectations, social and geographic mobility, changing sex roles, and the American national character all play a part in this fascinating and finally sobering exploration of men and women to find love and meaning in life."

Now, this is not normally Hollander's beat. Or is it? He is a sociologist and intellectual historian who has published over a dozen books on communism, socialism, and the left in general; perhaps his most famous is Anti-Americanism. The theme of the latter is as follows:

"Why is it that while millions of people all over the world dream about living in the United States, many American intellectuals believe that this is a uniquely deformed and unjust society? How did the radical beliefs of the '60s survive and become, for many Americans, the new conventional wisdom? How is it possible that while communist systems are collapsing and seek a market economy, critics in the United States remain convinced of the evils of capitalism? Why are there more Marxists on any handful of American campuses than all over Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union? How can we explain that for important opinion makers at home and abroad, the United States has become a symbol of waste, greed, corruption, social injustice, and arrogance?"

So, what is the connection between the two? Not to get ahead of ourselves, but both attitudes -- the personal and political -- seem to involve "extravagant expectations."

Leaving personal relationships to the side for a moment, what is leftism but an extravagant expectation of how the world should be? Leftism expects something of the world that the world can never provide -- in a word... or two, transcendent meaning. Ever since Rousseau penned his malignant flapdoodle, the left has had an inappropriately romantic vision of politics. You might say that when the left falls in love, other people's hearts -- and bodies -- are broken.

Yes, like the wrong woman, the left's ideas are beautiful and seductive, their consequences ruinous. Both Hillary and Obama are Dem fatales.

Hollander reflects only briefly on the connection, noting that throughout his life he has "been interested in -- and indeed morbidly fascinated by -- the conflict between illusion and reality, the apparent and the real."

Let's stop right there, because this is precisely why we have a mind: to discern between reality and appearances. What is truth but the reality behind appearances? And what are phenomena but an appearance of the true?

At least in principle. For it is possible for appearances to become detached from the true -- both personally and politically -- which is when we *fall* into trouble. Indeed, you could say that the whole point of Genesis 3 is to warn us about the hazards of detaching knowledge from reality, AKA God. Do so and you are at once exiled from the Land of the Real. (That's my idea; Hollander has no religious angle at all.)

Schuon explains it perfectly; or at least I agree 100%: "To 'discern' is to 'separate': to separate the Real and the illusory, the Absolute and the contingent, the Necessary and the possible, Atma and Maya." But discernment is complemented by a concentration that (re)unites the two, such that we may affirm the following formula in some variant: "Real became illusory in order that the illusory might become real..." That's the circle of spiritual progress and Arc of Salvation.

Back to Hollander; his interest in reality and appearances is also "linked to the phenomenon of deception and self-deception, both at the individual and collective (or institutional) levels."

Let's pause again. Here we can see that appearances are not necessarily deception; or that deception is something added to appearances that turns them against us. Think of the difference between, say, myth and propaganda. Myth is an appearance that clothes a deep truth, while propaganda is an embodiment of the lie.

Before escaping to the West, Hollander had prolonged immersion in "experiences of political propaganda as the major institutional source and conveyor of illusions; later in the United States I found commercial advertising playing a similar role. Both phenomena were highly intrusive and impossible to ignore."

Here again we see the wrenching of phenomena from reality, such that the former becomes illusion instead of a mode of the Real. Then it is as if Kant is indeed correct: that we are confined to the closed circle of our own representations, no longer capable of contact with the noumenal.

This redounds to everything from multiculturalism to deconstruction to new-age perception-is-reality. But underneath it all it has a single name: relativism. Relativism in any form ensures that we are exiled to the barren land of appearances -- which are no longer of the real, rather, just appearances of other appearances, AKA turtles all the way down.

You might say that leftism is a kind of deceptive personal ad from Ms. World, making impossible promises. Hollander speaks of "the political illusions and self-deception of many Western intellectuals who persuaded themselves of the admirable qualities of Communist systems."

And "Both political propaganda and commercial advertising misrepresent, distort, or at best stretch reality. Both attempt to conceal or obfuscate the difference between the way things are as opposed to the way they ought to be..." (emphasis mine).

Not surprisingly, Hollander parts company with "postmodernist academic colleagues who question the existence of objective reality altogether. Without a belief in objective reality, one could not propose that propaganda and advertising misrepresent and distort reality..."

I know. Controversial.

Now, what is the rationale of the so-called news, of a "free press" -- its reason for being? At the very least it should try to convey something of the reality beneath or behind appearances. Certainly it should not be a transmitter of propaganda, but that is precisely what it has become, and people know this. Except for the sorry 7% or whatever it is who actually trust the media. Everyone else knows MSM journalism comes down to cheesy personal ads that try to tart up the left and make it more appealing -- while denigrating the competition.


Okay. Here is an embarrassingly personal ad explaining the appeal of Hillary:

"I love Hillary Clinton. I am in awe of her. I am set free by her. She will be the finest world leader our galaxy has ever seen."

Not convinced?

"Millions of Clinton's supporters... expressed it among themselves, all the time, in raptures or happy tears with each new display of our heroine's ferocious intelligence, depth, and courage."

The author even gets into what we discussed above about reality and appearances, stating that beneath the deceptive appearances Hillary is really "an idea, a world-historical heroine, light itself.... She belongs to a much more elite class of Americans, the more-than-presidents." Her "name belongs on ships, and airports, and [even] tattoos. She deserves straight-up hagiographies and a sold-out Broadway show called RODHAM." Well, she would put the hag in hagiography.

Hmm. This reminds me of one of the unrealistic -- but typical -- personal ads cited by Hollander. These women are so perfect, one wonders why they have to resort to advertising their qualities. There are dozens to choose from -- they're everywhere! -- so I'll just pick one at random:

"Blonde, slender, tall, willowy DWF. Very attractive with graceful lightness of heart, refined intelligence, smiling eyes. PhD/academic. Optimistic, elegant, physically sensual, aesthetically attuned. Lovely profile, long legs. Considered great package: head, heart, spirit. Puts people at ease." Etc.

I'll bite. What's the catch?


"Progressive worldview, passionate about social justice." And no doubt believes Hillary is an idea, a world-historical heroine, light itself....

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Freakout on the Right!

NewsBusters has put together a video compilation of MSM freakouts, and truly, you'd have to be utterly soulless to not laugh out loud. I wrote down some of the comments, because they go to what we've been discussing in the last two posts about about defense mechanisms and decompensation:

--This is a different earth today than it was 24 hours ago (it sounds like Matthews was about to trespass our beat and say "cosmos")

--America is crying tonight

--It feels like the end of the world

--It is a moment filled with fear

--Is there a doomsday plan for this?

--History is put on hold once again

And the winner:

--Get your abortions now because we're going to be fucked (which of course reverses cause and effect)

If what I've been saying is true, it feels like the end of their world because it is the end of their world; this is precisely what decompensation feels like.

Note that it is not just different perceptions, i.e., content; rather, the entire context is transformed. In other words, it's not just a different contained but a radically different container.

Which is all the more pathological. Understand that the mind contains "stuff": thoughts, ideas, emotions, plans, memories, etc. We all know this.

However, it is also a kind of space in its own right. To a certain extent you might even say this follows the different functions of the left and right cerebral hemispheres, whether understood literally or figuratively.

That is, the left side is more linear and rational in the conventional sense, whereas the right is more holistic, intuitive, and translogical. Not surprisingly, what we call the "unconscious" is more deeply rooted in the right brain. Furthermore, the right brain develops ahead of the left, and contains our earliest preverbal (and therefore somatic) memories.

I'm tempted to review some literature on the subject, but it might take us too far afield. I'm not aware of any research that surpasses Allan Schore, who comprehensively integrates our hardware (neurology) and software (mind). The book I have linked is perhaps the most nakedly scholarly, but he and people he has influenced have written more accessible ones.

Let's just look up "right cerebral hemisphere" in the index... Hmm, over 30 entries. This one goes to what I said a couple of paragraphs above:

"The early maturing and 'primitive' right cortical hemisphere, moreso than the left, is particularly well reciprocally connected with limbic and subcortical regions" -- those latter two being the deeper emotional and even "reptilian" centers of the brain. The right "is dominant for the processing, expression, and regulation of emotional information."

Furthermore, "investigations into the neural bases for social interactions should focus on the role of the holistic, affective, and silent right hemisphere in the mediation of social life."

Gosh. There's a lot more interesting stuff of that nature, but following up on it would take all morning and beyond. The text is over 500 pages and there are over 100 pages of references. The guy does his homework.

Recall what Schore says about the processing and regulation of emotional information. In the examples of liberal freakoutery provided above, they all betray obvious difficulty processing what has happened. Note that there can be no merely cognitive, i.e., rational difficulty: we had a presidential election and somebody lost. Happens every four years. End of story.

But that is not the end of the story, because it has caused an earthquake of sorts in the collective right brain (again, whether understood literally or metaphorically). It "feels like the end of the world," and they are indeed living on a different planet than the day before. It's a new cosmos, baby!

It should also be pointed out that, as Schore mentions, the right hemisphere has much deeper roots that extend into our bodily representation. If you trace the mind all the way down to the ground, it merges with the body, thus the common observation of what are called "psycho-somatic" symptoms. I can scarcely articulate it better than moonbatress Sarah Silverman, who tweeted:

That r deep! In the shallowest conceivable way, of course.

Now, am I suggesting that the Bob is free of such primitive reactions? Of course not. Like anyone else, my telovator goes all the way down. I'm trying to remember how I felt in 2008 and 2012... Yes, I felt bad. I don't claim to be Spock. However, I did not cry. I was not filled with fear. It was not the end of the world, let alone a different planet. History did not stop. The cosmos was still the cosmos.

In other words, I was able to process and "contain" what had happened -- even though -- and time proved me correct -- I knew full well that Obama was undertaking a direct assault on my world, AKA the world envisioned by America's founders. I knew that we were in for fundamental transformation, good and hard.

But I've also cracked a history book, so I knew that the world is never ideal, never "safe," indeed, never a good place to invest one's hope. Do that and you are building your psyche on sand.

For the ground is not below. Rather, above. But the left -- and this is important, so pay attention -- has replaced religion with politics, so it is as if they have been abandoned by their God, with all that entails. There is no doomsday plan for that, since God is the only reliable doomsday plan, the only sensible hope in the face of the Worst Possible Thing(s).

Christianity assumes the misery of history, as Christ assumes the misery of man.

Christianity does not solve 'problems'; it merely obliges us to live them on a higher level.


How can anyone live who does not hope for miracles? --NGDx3

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Liberal Defenses Against Reality

It is a truism in clinical psychology -- at least the kind in which I was trained -- that a crisis is an opportunity. That is, it is as if there is an incision in the psyche, such that one can see what is going on under the surface -- beneath the veneer of normality, so to speak.

Again, we all utilize defense mechanisms in order to get through the day life. As discussed in yesterday's post, what is called a "nervous breakdown" is essentially a decompensation, which is to say, a failure of defense mechanisms. The psychic walls have been breached and reality comes pouring in.

During the past week, the collective left has been behaving exactly like a person in the midst of a nervous breakdown. Clearly, they are struggling to cope with what is happening to them -- even though nothing has happened to them as of yet, since president-elect Trump won't even take office for another two months.

This suggests to me that liberalism itself is a collective defense mechanism. Over the past eight years we have seen (once again) that liberalism isn't actually useful for dealing with reality, which is to say, the real world. However, it seems that it is extremely useful for coping with the internal world of the psyche. In other words, its main purpose is as a defense mechanism, not a rational way to actually deal with the world.

Judged on the basis of its efficacy in the world, liberalism is a failure. That being the case, any rational person would be happy to be rid of it. But liberals are not happy, to put it mildly. Rather, they are experiencing varying degrees of terror. ("Fear has won. We are all scared.")

As to liberalism's efficacy in the world, consider just the fact that crime rates are greatly increasing. People are literally less safe. And yet, liberals are feeling terribly unsafe since last week. A couple days ago a defiant Mayor Emanuel warned us that Chicago will always be a sanctuary city, and that illegal immigrants "are safe in Chicago, secure in Chicago, and supported in Chicago."

Ironically, this suggests that illegals are the only people who are safe in Chicago! Wouldn't it be nice if he could say the same of the rest of the population? Chicago's murder rate is up 72%, shootings almost 90%. Don't worry -- it's only American citizens and legal immigrants.

At Happy Acres I found this cartoon, which is funny, but even more true than funny; I don't find it exaggerated at all:

Note how it incorporates a number of common defense mechanisms, beginning with denial. In reality, all defense mechanisms partake of denial, and can even be thought of as modes of denial, some more primitive than others.

Projection is another common defense mechanism, but one must first deny in order to project -- in other words, the denied part of the psyche is projected into the environment and/or into other people.

Hysteria is also a defense, usually involving somatization and dissociation. In the former, emotional pain and conflict are channeled into the body, while the latter involves discontinuities in identity, memory, and perception. You might say that their narratives are disrupted and distorted. It is quite common in adults who were traumatized as children. If you get too close to the trauma, they begin spewing a kind of agitated nonsense. The purpose of the nonsense is to conceal the truth from themselves.

An Immortal and Undeniable Aphorism: Socialism is the philosophy of the guilt of others (NGD). Thus, projection of guilt is central to the left. White privilege means that through a kind of metaphysical magic I inherit the projected guilt of the leftist.

Think of it: to deny guilt is to at once free oneself of responsibility, duty, and obligation. Therefore it is dehumanizing. Yes we are "born guilty," so to speak, but original sin is a very different thing from projection of guilt.

The point is, the leftist projects original sin into others, and calls it "white privilege." It is obviously crazy, but without it the left cannot function. The Bob never exaggerates. The other day a Clinton spokesloon declared that white women voted for Trump due to "internalized misogyny."

Yes, there is indeed such a thing as internalized misogyny. It's called feminism. But that is the subject of a different post, so we'll let it pass for now.

What else do we have... thought control and name calling. Let's begin with the latter. As you know, we are homeschooling the lad, and I have decided to teach him a course on logic. Why logic isn't taught to every child is a mystery to me. Just kidding! Ask yourself: who would benefit from such lessons in mental hygiene? It would absolutely wreck the left.

Ever since he was old enough to pay attention to the television, I've been informally teaching him about illogical methods of persuasion. It began with the commercials, but this year in particular we have been focusing on statements by politicians and their surrogates. So many fallacies!

Hillary Clinton's entire campaign revolved around ad hominem. In the book I'm using, it is the very first logical fallacy covered. Note, however, that ad hominem is not always a fallacy, in particular, if it is relevant to the matter under consideration. If I say, for example, that "Obama is a lying POS," that's ad hominem, but it is also true and can be substantiated ad nauseam.

But to say, for example, that Trump is Hitler, is just crazy talk. Or how about the latest from evil genius Noam Chomsky, who says that the GOP is the "most dangerous organization in world history." If he's being honest, then he is literally insane.

There is another interesting twist here, because ad hominem is what is called a psychological fallacy, in contradistinction to material and logical fallacies. You might say that the latter two fallacies are located in the person or materials used in making the argument, whereas psychological fallacies are ultimately in the audience; they are in essence appeals to the stupidity and prejudices of the people you are trying to convince.

As if we didn't know that liberal politicians treat their constituents like a lunatic treats an idiot! The point is, if you are convinced by ad hominem alone, then you are probably an imbecile.

Finally, thought control. This goes to another defense mechanism. We've all heard of "controlling" people, but what does this really mean? If we imagine a spectrum, hysterical and obsessional would be at antipodes. Hysterics are "out of control," while obsessives have an unusual need for psychic control. From an Old Textbook by Professor Gradschool:

"Obsessional defenses are repetitious acts or thoughts usually devoted to some act of controlling -- displaced from anxiety about controlling an internal state, an impulse or emotion..."

Such thinking is quite brittle, and the obsessional individual is prone to intense anxiety if the defense is threatened. In this view, the entire regime of speech codes is a kind of obsessional defense, for which reason safe spaces are needed when the defense is breached.

The end.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My Magnanimous Response to Liberal Cries for Help

Although I would prefer to move on, it's difficult to concentrate on anything else while this collective nervous breakdown of the left continues to unfold. And it is a nervous breakdown, or at least mirrors precisely what we mean by that colloquial term.

For exactly what happens when someone goes bonkers? Think of the many colorful variants: losing it, shattered, unhinged, screw loose... There must be more synonyms for craziness in the thesaurus than for most any other word, although I want to focus on more descriptive ones that evoke a visual image: unbalanced, crackbrained, not tightly wound, out of one's skull, beside oneself, wild-eyed, etc. There is a kind of folk wisdom embedded in such terms, as they are rooted in the experience of what the crazy person looks like to the observer.

The whole spectacle is of course superschadenfreudilisticexpialidocious, but only up to a point, that point being the threshold of violent acting out.

For example, Instapundit links to hasbeen screenwriter Paul Schrader, who writes that the election "is a call to violence.... This attack on liberty and tolerance will not be solved by appeasement. Obama tried that for eight years. We should finance those who support violent resistance. We should be willing to take arms.... Alt right nut jobs swagger violence. It’s time to actualize that violence, like by Civil War Michigan predecessors I choose to stand with the black, the brown and the oppressed."

Who knew Taxi Driver was an autobiographical instruction manual? "Listen, you fuckers, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is a man who stood up."

When a previously functioning individual loses his mind, we call it "decompensation." Of course, this can happen for genetic and biochemical reasons, but obviously this isn't what is occurring here, except in the sense that people who are genetically more vulnerable to mental illness are likely to be on the left.

Indeed, the whole mindset of the left is rooted in identification with victimhood, which is rarely healthy, even if you are an actual victim, the reason being that it is paralyzing to locate agency outside oneself (at least in a free society), and legitimizes primitive instincts of revenge. Nevertheless, it is a seduction to do so, and leftism is the seductress.

The feminine connotation is not accidental, for femininity is associated with maya, which is in turn broadly associated with illusion. As the Buddhists rightfully say, of all the forms of maya, that of woman is supreme. All men know this, while only some women do; but if they don't, it is only because it has been hammered out of them by feminism and other deviant ideologies.

In the cosmic scheme of things, the power of maya is not necessarily supposed to be a bad thing. Yes, it is an appearance, but an appearance of reality, precisely! Thus, is there anything on earth that surpasses the divine beauty of woman? Ask a man. For his real opinion. Or better, just observe how he votes with his... feet.

Nevertheless, the distinction between reality and appearances opens up a kind of space for ceaseless cosmic mischief. Think of the "femme fatale," the seductive but deadly charmer. And this can be traced all the way over the historical horizon and back down to the ground, for consider the subtext of Genesis 3: serpent seduces Woman, and Woman seduces Man.

From what and to where? Clearly, from reality (Eden, God, vertical paradise, celestial union, etc.) to appearances (earth, maya, separation from the Principle, etc.). We've posted on this subject before, for example, on the importance of God's first question to Adam, Where are you, bro? This prompts the first recorded human lie (the first lie having come from the serpent, who is symbolically closest to earth and therefore farthest from heaven).

God's question conveys the idea that Adam is literally in a new space. The lie reveals that this space is no longer rooted in reality and truth.

Incidentally, is any of this intended to be a criticism of womanhood in any conventional sense? No, not at all, except insofar as it illuminates a kind of reciprocal weakness in men and women. If you want proof, look at a map of female voting patterns, in which Clinton wins in a glandslide. Women are obviously much more susceptible to the political Lie than are men.

But men are susceptible to their own forms of the Lie. I suspect that they are attracted to leftism for very different reasons, at least on average. That is to say, women are likely seduced by the "nurturing" state, while men are attracted to the bullying state (and you can't have one without the other). Look at Obama: in what other legitimate context could he act out his bullying instinct? I mean, Michelle would kick his ass. Maybe as a teacher... or community organizer, but that's about it.

Back to craziness and decompensation. Decompensation presumes that we all have psychological defense mechanisms of varying degrees of maturity, intensity, and pervasiveness, e.g., denial, projection, repression, reaction formation, and others. The most primitive would be outright denial, while healthier ones include sublimation and humor. Ha!

Even so, every defense mechanisms partakes of denial, for that is what a defense mechanism defends us from: reality.

Decompensation "refers to the inability to maintain defense mechanisms in response to stress, resulting in personality disturbance or psychological imbalance." This may ultimately end in "persecutory delusions to defend against a troubling reality."

I don't normally like to merely "psychologize" people with whom I disagree. First of all, it's too facile and is easily misused. It is enough to take the left's ideas seriously, and to simply point out the errors in fact and logic.

But in the past week the left has been... crying for help, you might say. And I use the word "crying" advisedly, for we've all seen those video compilations of liberal freak-outs, not to mention all the stories about university safe spaces for electoral trauma. Cleary some kind of psycho-political breakdown is occurring.

Forgive me if I'm rambling, because I'm thinking this through in real time, and you are the beneficiaries of these not yet half-baked musings.

The reaction of conservatives can scarcely have been more different when we lost in 2008 and 2012. Yes, we were downcast, but I don't remember much in the way of assault and arson.

The first thing that occurs to me -- and we've discussed this idea in the past -- is the distinction between what are called the "paranoid-schizoid" (PS) and "depressive" (D) positions in developmental psychology. I hate to get all pedantic, so I'll be brief.

Fortunately, there is a wiki entry on the subject. Let's see if it suffices.

"A position... is a set of psychic functions that correspond to a given phase of development" and "can be reactivated at any time.... The earlier more primitive position is the paranoid-schizoid, and if an individual's environment and up-bringing are satisfactory, she or he will progress through the depressive position."

Correct. Here is what happens when PS defenses come to the fore (I am removing references to the "death instinct," since it is not strictly necessary to understand the phenomena):

"Paranoid refers to the central paranoid anxiety, the fear of invasive malevolence. This is experienced as coming from the outside, but ultimately derives from [projection].... Paranoid anxiety can be understood in terms of anxiety about imminent annihilation and derives from a sense of the destructive instinct of the child.... [T]he immature ego deals with its anxiety by splitting off bad feelings and projecting them out. However, this causes paranoia.

"Schizoid refers to the central defense mechanism: splitting, the vigilant separation of the good object from the bad object."

As for the depressive condition, it involves a more mature resignation and acceptance of reality; moreover -- and this is important -- it involves integration of primitive splitting of good and bad and therefore tolerance of ambiguity: "In working through depressive anxiety, projections are withdrawn, allowing the other more autonomy, reality, and a separate existence."

This goes to one of the most primary differences between left and right, for example, as outlined in numerous books by Thomas Sowell (such as The Vision of the Anointed). That is, conservatism is characterized by the tragic (read: depressive) vision of man, while leftism is always rooted in some harebrained utopian scheme. And utopia always evokes bullying (up to and including terror), because the enemies who stand in the way of utopia must be eliminated. How could any decent person be against a perfectly just and equitable world?

When I see the rioters throwing their tantrums, or the college students huddled in their safe spaces, or shellshocked MSM journalists on the brink of tears, I see children terrified by paranoid-schizoid ghosts of the nursery.

We're out of time...