Friday, December 15, 2017

Unavoidable Truths and Inevitable Lies

Before moving on, a loose end. Recall our Supreme Court's sophomoric take on the meaning of freedom: At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

Now, no one denies that one has the "right" to be stupid. But the Court covertly turns this right into a kind of obligation, because if the essence of liberty is whatever anyone wants it to be, then liberty is essentially reduced to nothing. My freedom, say, to keep my own money, is indistinguishable from your freedom to take it. Some freedom.

It's equivalent to saying that "the essence of truth is the right to believe whatever we want," which is another recipe for nihilism. Worse, it's the recipe for leftism -- for multiculturalism, moral relativism, and "diversity." As Schuon puts it in one of his most important books, Logic & Transcendence,

Relativism reduces every element of absoluteness to relativity while making a completely illogical exception in favor of this reduction itself. Fundamentally it consists in propounding the claim that there is no truth as if this were truth or in declaring it to be absolutely true that there is nothing but the relatively true; one might just as well say that there is no language or write that there is no writing.

Now, that is what you call the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It is as true today as it has always been and always will be. Imagine if we had such lucid minds on the Supreme Court, instead of those four or five pompous and over-educated tools?

Education should consist first and foremost in being acquainted with truths that cannot not be. Instead, children are indoctrinated into the diabolical principle that absolute truth absolutely cannot be.

Put conversely, to systematically deny the mind knowledge of, and access to, the absolute, is the worst form of abuse. It is to undermine the very reason why we have a mind, the purpose of which is to conform itself to the true -- to distinguish reality from appearances, the real from the un- or less real, the essential from the contingent.

As Schuon puts it elsewhere,

The prerogative of the human state is objectivity, the essential content of which is the Absolute. There is no knowledge without objectivity of the intelligence; there is no freedom without objectivity of the will; and there is no nobility without objectivity of the soul.

And in his most concise but no less penetrating book (good for keeping by the bedside to seed one's dreams), he writes that "The worth of man lies in his consciousness of the Absolute."

Think about that one: we all -- those who aren't soul-dead -- know that man is somehow "different," and that he is of ultimate value. Why? On what basis? The Golden Rule? Yes, that's a good start, but there is a deeper principle involved, which Schuon enunciates. It's another way of saying that man is in the image of the Creator, AKA the Absolute. Why love our neighbor? Just because some authority told us to? Or did the authority tell us to do this because it reflects the truth of things -- that our neighbor is as much a reflection of God as we are?

As we've discussed before, there is obviously a horizontal continuity between man and animal. However, there is also a kind of -- literally -- infinite discontinuity on the vertical plane. No animal can conceive of the Absolute, or love his neighbor, or freely choose good over evil, or know truth, or be objective and disinterested.

Schuon says something above that dovetails nicely with our ongoing discussion of diabolical liberty, that "there is no freedom without objectivity of the will." You will note that this is precisely the opposite of what the Supreme Clowns say -- that freedom is 100% subjective, with no rational telos whatsoever. They might just as well say -- again, literally -- that "at the heart of law is the right to do whatever the hell you want to."

Which comes very close to what a modern liberal would say -- that we are permitted to do whatever we want to do -- that nothing is forbidden -- so long as it doesn't hurt someone else. Either way, it entirely drains liberty of any meaning whatsoever.

Furthermore, once down that path, it's easy enough to justify any monstrosity, from Dred Scott to Roe v. Wade. Both decisions are based on an arbitrary -- which is to say, subjective -- interpretation of freedom. Put conversely, neither decision is rooted in the Nature of Things -- those things that cannot not be.

"Separation of church and state." There is a sane principle buried in that cliché, so long as we interpret its meaning in terms of truths that cannot not be. One truth that cannot not be is that man is religious. I'm no doubt thinking about this because of another book I'm reading, called No God, No Science: Theology, Cosmology, Biology. But the type of vulgar atheism with which we are so familiar, for example, is just a banal Christian heresy. Therefore, if a leftist wants to be true to his principle, then he must also maintain a separation between atheism and state.

But that is not how the Supreme Kooks see it. Scalia writes of how, over the past half century or so, the Court has gone from neutrality toward religion to overt hostility. But since man cannot not be religious, this only ends up privileging the secular religion of the left, conveniently hiding behind the subjective "evolving standards of decency" gag.

That's about it for today. The end. No, wait. Here's a juicy passage from Chesterton, cited by Schindler:

We are fond of talking about "liberty"; but the way we end up talking of it is an attempt to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about "progress"; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about "education"; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good.

So, "Let us not decide what is good, but let it be considered good not to decide it." In short, let us all live in the comfort and safety of our own delusions, and call it freedom. After all, it is the Law of the Land.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

An Offer You Must Refuse

One of Schindler's main points is that freedom cannot be understood in isolation, but is always part of an organic whole that includes both the good and the real. This shouldn't be surprising, since the good and the real are essentially fungible: things are good insofar as they exist. How they exist is another matter, especially as it pertains to humans, since we have a hand in that determination.

Even Hitler was good vis-a-vis his sheer existence. What he did with his existence... you know the rest.

Or, maybe you don't. What went wrong? "He made bad choices," to put it mildly. But this presupposes good choices, which goes back to the idea that freedom and goodness are intrinsically related. Which modernity denies, absolutely.

Again, this cosmic heresy was ably articulated by those five illustrious idiots on the Supreme Court:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."

As we have put it before, paradise is walled by complementarities, one of which is freedom <--> good. Thus, to sever this complementarity -- as SCOTUS has done above -- is not the way to paradise. Rather, it is the way to permanently bar entry.

You might say that, prior to our vertical plunge, man is spontaneously good, such that his freedom is not misused. With the fall, this unity is broken, such that outside paradise man must endeavor to consciously put them back together. A saint is someone who has succeeded at this -- i.e., attained heroic virtue through cooperation with infused grace. Then there's the restavus.

Both freedom and goodness are real. But that is not how modernity sees it. That train left the metaphysical station a few hundred years ago, such that today we are living in the End Times of that perspective. What I mean is that reality is one, and our job is to evolve in that direction and conform ourselves to it.

But this is not the approach of the left. Rather, the precise opposite, into diabolical fragmentation, disunity, and "diversity." (As Schindler notes, dia-ballo means "to divide" and "to set apart or at odds"). This will not and cannot end well, as anyone with three eyes open can see.

Speaking of which, I wonder when blacks will figure out that race-virtue signaling leftists have the same attitude toward them as do "feminist men" toward women? A real feminist doesn't divide men and women to begin with, but rather, apprehends their unity-in-complementarity.

Same with race. Once you have divided people by race, there is no return to unity. It's either one nation under God, or no nation -- and eternal hostility -- under multiculturalism and identity politics.

Returning to the deeper meaning of diabolical, Schindler describes six essential features. Although you may not have consciously considered these before, they will be familiar to you, at least if you've ever watched CNN or MSNBC, or read the NY Times:

(1) the diabolical presents a deceptive image that substitutes for reality; (2) it is characterized by an essential negativity; (3) it renders appearance more decisive than reality, and indeed, better than reality according to the measure of convenience and efficiency; (4) it has a supra-individual dimension that is nevertheless impersonal: that is, it tends to take the form of an essentially self-referential system; (5) it is "soulless" in the sense of lacking an animating principle of unity; and (6) it is essentially self-destructive.

Boom. To the sixth power.

But how on earth does one explain this to the liberal who either cannot or will not see it? I don't know. Each of these principles (or their opposite, rather) is implicitly embodied in Christian metaphysics, but that atheistic train has also left the intellectual station. Liberals "getting what they want" is the worst possible catastrophe one can imagine, whether individually or collectively.

Which brings to mind an aphorism or three:

--Hell is the place where man finds all his projects realized.

--Earth will never be a paradise, but it could perhaps be prevented from approaching closer and closer to being a cheap imitation of Hell.

--Hell is any place from which God is absent.

Or, as Schindler puts it, "the immediate possession of all things in appearance coincides with a complete oblivion with respect to their real situation..." Inside Plato's Leftist Cave, "desires are perfectly satisfied, but only in a transformed mode, namely, in appearance." You can have it all, if all you want is Nothing, AKA freedom from reality.

This is to be really, really woke -- i.e., to be completely asleep to the Light: "what is perhaps the most diabolical of all is that we become our own jailers, since the imprisonment is subjectively experienced as the most complete liberation, offered in place of the inevitable burden of the real. It is precisely its being a bargain that reveals its provenance from the devil."

"Progressives." Those who live in the twilight of history imagine that the day is being born when night is approaching.

So, put on your armor of Light, and don't let the disilluminati get to you.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Endless Layers of Dissemblance and the Lefthand Way to Auto-Divinity

A note to myself in the margin suggests the following passage would be a good start in our attempt to wrap our minds around diabolical liberty and its Freedom From Reality. I actually referenced it a couple weeks ago, but then got sidetracked. So let's begin again:

Modern liberty is, in sum, a deceptive and ultimately soul-destroying illusion, which cuts one off from, and indeed sets one in opposition to, God, the world, other people, the community as a whole... and even oneself, so that one's inner being, in its congenital blindness to the inner reality of everything else without exception, is smothered by endless layers of dissemblance.

Endless layers of dissemblance. That's our world, alright. Just think, for example, of the endless l's. of d. that are being exposed by the very existence of a President Trump -- in other words, the bottomless layers, liars, and lawyers of the Deep State. Conversely, imagine how these sinister players would have been smothered by additional layers had Clinton been elected.

Indeed, how would you characterize a Clinton? I can't think of a more accurate description than layers of dissemblance. What is beneath the dissemblance? Yes, more dissembling. Interestingly, if Schindler is right, then there is no there there: each lie simply conceals another, such that it is obfuscation all the way down (and in).

Thus, one day Clinton is an unwavering supporter of traditional marriage, AKA marriage. Next day, supporters of traditional marriage are deplorable. Was she lying then, or is she lying now? Neither. She is a lie, and the lie is in service to power. It is not the "opposite" of truth, but the negation of its very possibility, as alluded to by Schindler.

At least we always know what liberals are thinking, since they attribute their thoughts, emotions, and motives to others. As such, we can see how they have projected a web of dissemblance onto President Trump, AKA Russian Collusion. This grand conspiracy consists of layer upon layer of vaporous allegations, surrounding a total vacuum. Or, surrounding the DNC's collusion with Russia to defeat Trump via the infamous dossier, itself a diabolical crock.

At any rate, "Modern liberty is not merely an instance of the diabolical, but is, we might say, diabolicality itself." As such, there is nothing modern about it per se; what makes it modern is the total forgetfulness of where it comes from, and the elevation of diabolical liberty to the ideal.

In other words, it is not just the inversion of reality -- for that is a consequence of the fall -- but the insistence that this inversion is normative. You might say that, instead of falling downward, the ideologues of diabolical liberty pretend that we fall upward. But this upward fall always requires violence and coercion; the bigger the lie, the bigger the government needed to force us to believe it.

I hope that is clear, because it is literally true. But sometimes I feel as if I can't quite reach the words I need to describe the reality I'm seeing. The point is, Genesis 3 is a mythic formulation of metaphysical truth. I don't like the term "noble lie," because the myth really involves the transmission of a timeless and universal truth that transcends the ego. It is not illogical, just beyond the limits of terrestrial logic (which can only be circular).

In the first sentence of this post, I alluded to the attempt to "wrap our minds" around the concept of liberty. However, in truth, this is something we can never do, for we are contained by liberty, rather than vice versa. If we could contain liberty, then we would be God. So, strictly speaking, we cannot "understand" freedom, only live it.

Of course, we are free to deny freedom, but then we literally cannot understand anything. The denial of freedom -- as in, say Marxism or behaviorism or Darwinism -- results in a descent into permanent and total stupidity. But it doesn't end there. Rather, this total stupidity will be surrounded by layers of dissemblance.

Now, even a child -- or perhaps especially a child -- can see through the layers of dissemblance. For example, ask a Darwinian where truth comes from, and how human beings can know it, and you will be treated to a blizzard of dissemblance. Likewise, ask a physicist what caused the big bang, or a geneticist what causes all the symbolic information, and prepare yourself to be bamboozled.

Why does man insist on trying to do it himself -- by denying the intrinsic otherness of truth and reality? Genesis doesn't really say, does it? Or, it's a little vague: ye shall be as gods. It seems that this is the first and last temptation: it is ontologically first, and chronologically as recent as this morning's headline, whatever it is.

Put it this way: we can have a relationship to the truth that is anterior to us; or, we can presume to possess the truth. But in the case of the latter, we are really pretending to be the truth, which is to say, God. Therefore, it's really our own lame attempt at the Incarnation, isn't it?

We're again getting close to the fire, where words start to melt, but knowledge follows being, and being is relationship: what Is is being-in-relation. You can't "know being" (in its totality) because it is being that knows in every act of knowing.

I recently reread Schuon's Stations of Wisdom, which contains some of his most challenging essays, but they are challenging precisely because of proximity to the essence of things, where words begin to fail. But try this on for size:

Some people see a kind of incompatibility between metaphysics -- which they confuse with the more or less logical constructions of the discursive mind -- and the love of God, of which they seem to see only the most human side.

But I am here to tell you that

the love of God is something universal: the term "love" designates not only a path depending on will and feeling, but also -- and this is its broadest meaning -- every path insofar as it attaches us to the Divine; "love" is everything that makes us prefer God to the world and contemplation to earthly activity, wherever this alternative has a meaning.

In this context, this blog is nothing but the love of God, every morning, delivered fresh to your vertical door. In the same context, you can see how and why the contemporary left is and must be a hate cult surrounded by layers of dissembling. Not fake news, but fakery, period.

For "the first act of Adam and Eve, after eating the fruit is the self-protective gesture of fashioning a covering for themselves," in which they "hide from God." In the resultant cosmic inversion, "things that had initially mediated an intimacy between God and the creature have now become means to keep the creator at a distance" (Schindler).

This all very much reminds me of an Aphorism, that In order to challenge God, man puffs up his emptiness. Specifically, he puffs up the emptiness by surrounding it with layers of dissemblance. Dip him in water, though, and all his impressive plumage is shown to conceal a naked rat.

Friday, December 08, 2017

What Does the Left Want? Freedom! From What? Reality!

Back to diabolical liberty and how it gets that way. Yesterday I was reminding my son that life consists of time. It's all we have, and then it stops (at least on this plane). But time in the absence of freedom would be just... duration, I guess.

It seems like T minus F would be rather tedious, but boredom can only be conceived from the perspective of choice and possibility. My son sometimes asks if our dogs are bored, since they spend most of their time nodding off with glazed expressions. I don't think so. It's just that when affection, treats, walks, or danger from the UPS man aren't in the offing, the world must go kind of blank. Like how your computer goes to sleep if you don't give it something to do.

But man is a reflection of both absoluteness and infinitude, the former going to truth, strength, and virtue, the latter to possibility, novelty, and change.

For our purposes, possibility is another word for freedom (or, as they say, "no alternative, no problem"). However, mere possibility is no better than a dog's life, because that would revert to the essence of the diabolical: if everything is permitted and nothing is forbidden, then Dirty Harvey and his ilk become the ideal.

And don't think there aren't billions just like him. Indeed, the recent outing of so many Hollywood sleazebags and liberal newsfrauds proves the point. What motivates these men? If they simply have the power to actualize the freedom we all secretly desire, then to hell with freedom!

Real freedom -- the nondiabolical kind -- is always present in a much larger context. The moment it is severed from its telos, it becomes diabolical. Thus, to repeat an Aphorism from a few days ago, The proclamation of our autonomy is the founding act of Hell.

As such, The idea of “the free development of personality” seems admirable as long as one does not meet an individual whose personality has developed freely. If you meet such a person, run away! Certainly don't meet with him alone in a hotel room.

That reminds me. Yes, land of the free, but home of the brave; in other words, freedom + courage. And what is courage? It is the resolution to do the right thing in the face of adversity. I remember Bill Maher calling the 911 terrorists "courageous." Wrong. Like freedom, courage severed from its telos is an egocentric or indiscriminate rashness. If courage is evil, then to hell with it too.

Another aphorism to bear in mind in light of these beta predators such as Lauer, Conyers, and Rose: Poverty is the only barrier to the throng of vulgarities that whinny inside souls.

Anyone short of a saint has mind parasites of various types and dimensions (indeed, so too does the saint, except that he has transcended and mastered them). But many of these critters are latent, so to speak, unless infused with power. It is very much as if the power breathes life into them, in an inverse analogy to God in-breathing the human soul.

So, diabolical freedom is a kind of demonic in-spiration. The other day I saw a video of Jordan Peterson, who touched on this, albeit from a different angle. He adverted to studies showing that happiness is correlated with money up to a certain point, after which there is no correlation at all, and often an inverse one.

For example, if you are a cokehead and win the lottery, things are not going to end well. Likewise, if you are Michael Jackson, or Matt Lauer, or Keven Spacey, or all those prematurely dead rock stars: money and power simply breathe life into the mind parasites -- spiritual retroviruses -- that circumstances normally prevent from coming out to play.

But lets zoom out and consider this from a cosmic perspective: in the West, we enjoy a kind of affluence that was available to fewer than .01% of past human beings. To the extent that our ancestors appear more "virtuous" to us, we must remember that they had far fewer temptations, not to mention the fact you can only get into so much trouble if you are, one the one hand, performing backbreaking work from dawn to dusk, and on the other, always pregnant, with no cheap Mexican labor to cook and keep house.

Thus, if contemporary society is crazy and getting crazier, it is because of the in-breathing of diabolical freedom -- very much like those otherwise innocuous embers a few miles away from me, bursting into flames because of the Santa Ana winds.

This must be why the milloonnial generation -- or whatever you want to call it -- is the most fragile in the nation's history. For to say that your biggest problem is hurt feelings as a result of other people expressing an opinion with which you disagree, is to boast that you have no problems at all.

But obviously you have a big problem, because you are proclaiming to the world that you are unfit to endure freedom -- the nondiabolical kind. And your only solution is to place the rest of us in cages -- like the sheltered prince who would rather carpet the world than simply toughen his feet or wear shoes.

As mentioned last week, this book is too sprawling to wrap my mind around. Let's begin with some notes to myself in back (which may or may not be direct quotes) -- for example, "the power to do good can be as evil as the power to do bad, if it is power only." Boom. That is what you call a knockout blow.

The secular left is not only atheistic but anti-theistic, at least as it pertains to the real God. Therefore, it is literally the case that for them, truth reduces to power; or power shielded by the self-styled "good intentions" of the person wielding it.

Put conversely, for the left, there is nothing we can't accomplish with a combination of concentrated power, good intentions, and other people's money! For proof, just look at what Obama accomplished by creating more debt than all past administrations combined. Paradise!

Speaking of which, the left's hysteria since November 2016 is just a mirror image of the hysteria they exhibited through eight years of Obama. For them, Obama and Trump are just reverse caricatures of one another.

This will take us down another distracting rabbit hole, but the point is, leftists got exactly what their hearts were yearning for in 2008. So, heaven on earth, right? No, nothing changed, except for the worse. But do they have any insight into this? Of course not. Like any other mental patient in flight from personal responsibility -- AKA ordered freedom -- they simply want to resume that comforting dream.

Here is another note to myself, one that Schindler emphasizes throughout the book: that diabolical freedom is parasitic on the very reality it abolishes. Think, for example, of the redefinition of marriage. It is obviously parasitic on the real thing, i.e., natural marriage. The left used to be more explicit about the goal of weakening the family, but my guess is that the majority of leftists probably don't even realize that that is the real endgame.

Once again I find myself hovering around the subject of the book without fully diving in. We'll try harder. Next week.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

The World Wide Counter-Web

The diffusion of a few drops of Christianity into a leftist mind transforms the idiot into a perfect idiot. --Dávila

Continuing with the False Promise of Big Government, it's a little like Genesis 3 All Over Again, isn't it? For the promise of Big Government is another phony attempt to beat the system -- the system of reality.

Now, there are systems that can and should be beaten. Indeed, a large part of "fallenness" involves falling into a kind of world wide existential system to which, in many ways, we cannot avoid adapting.

Imagine being born into a crime family, like the Mafia or the Clintons, and not knowing any better. Well, the human species is a kind of crime family. Or maybe you're unacquainted with this thing called history. But God knows: Christianity assumes the misery of history, as Christ assumes that of man. (Dávila).

BTW, yesterday I was reminded of Jesus' friendly warnings to the rich. But back then, wealth was based upon theft, slavery, and plunder. There was no meritocracy, no upward mobility, no secure private property, and no rule of law, so the wealthy were more like thieves than capitalists.

About our being caught in the world wide web, here are some fine aphorisms:

Where Christianity disappears, greed, envy, and lust invent a thousand ideologies to justify themselves.

The Christ of the Gospels is not concerned with the economic situation of the poor, but with the moral condition of the rich.

In the Christianity of the leftist Christian, one of the two elements sooner or later eliminates the other.

Only the Church considers itself a congregation of sinners. All other communities, religious or lay, feel themselves to be a confraternity of saints.

He who claims equal opportunity ends up requiring that the gifted be penalized.

World Wide Web. That reminds me of something. Ah yes, an editorial I've been saving from a couple of weeks ago by Glenn Reynolds on the role of social media in spreading disease -- not biological diseases but cognitive, and I would say, spiritual, diseases:

[I]n recent years we’ve gone from an era when ideas spread comparatively slowly, to one in which social media in particular allow them to spread like wildfire. Sometimes that’s good, when they’re good ideas. But most ideas are probably bad; certainly 90% of ideas aren’t in the top 10%. Maybe we don’t know the mental disease vectors that we’re inadvertently unleashing....

We don’t know much about the spread of ideas, or what would constitute the equivalent of intellectual indoor plumbing. (Censorship isn’t enough, as it often just promotes the spread of bad ideas that people in power like). Over time we’ll learn more. Maybe we’ll come up with something like the germ theory of disease for ideas.

Or, maybe we already have something like the germ theory of disease for bad ideas. I know I do, anyway. Reynolds himself provides a hint: "Better nourished minds are likely more resistant to social-media contagion." Specifically, proper vertical nourishment is without question the best defense against the empty but destructive calories of purely horizontal ideologies.

Thus, for example, "The Church’s function is not to adapt Christianity to the world, nor even to adapt the world to Christianity; her function is to maintain a counterworld in the world" (Dávila).

You don't have to take that literally in order to understand that you need to anchor your thinking -- indeed, your very being -- in the sheetrock of Principles that Cannot Not Be, which serve as a counterworld to the fallenworld.

As you know, I am currently surrounded by flames. There is nothing political about the flames, any more than there is something political about gravity. But this morning I stumbled across the following tweet by some liberal celebrity: "Just evacuated my house. It's like Donald Trump is setting the world on fire. Literally and figuratively."

Of course. Who doesn't see it?

Er, the sane?

Back to the main subject at hand. I only have time enough to quote a couple of relevant passages from the book, and let you do the myth. They don't really require any commentary on my part:

The nongovernmental institutions of civil society transmit to each new generation those virtues without which free societies cannot survive. When these institutions function properly, they help prevent people from becoming too dependent on government. They also unify people and empower them to control government....

So a vicious circle ensues: the more the federal government drains the energy and independence of the social and mediating institutions, the more that individuals become increasingly atomized and separated; and the more individuals become disconnected, the more a centralized government steps into the void.

Let us recall that The proclamation of our autonomy is the founding act of Hell (Dávila). This fall into pseudo-autonomy is followed by the wrong kind of dependence. For ultimate reality is relational, not atomistic; it is not atoms-in-relation, but relation-in-atoms. Big government is one more attempt to undo the effects of the fall, way downstream from where it has occurred.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The War on Spiritual Poverty

With the generosity of his program does the liberal console himself for the magnitude of the catastrophes it produces. --Dávila

After submitting the previous post to a candid world, I read a brief book that dovetails perfectly with its theme, called The False Promise of Big Government: How Washington Helps the Rich and Hurts the Poor. The title is quite literally true, in that America's four wealthiest counties (and seven of the top ten) surround Washington D.C.

The author reviews six reasons why statism is inevitably destructive, five of which go to more material concerns. Here at One Cosmos we are more preoccupied with the spiritual rot it engenders.

As Ronald Reagan famously said, "The lessons of history" demonstrate

conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.

Fooled you! That was FDR in 1935.

How could Kingfish Liberal say such a thing? Because 80 years ago it was still possible to state the obvious. The left's War on Noticing had not yet begun in earnest. It was undoubtedly there -- it always is -- but not to the point of totally engulfing the media, academia, entertainment, and politics. In short, liberals used to be liberal. Or at least not flagrantly illiberal, as is the case today.

An actual liberal believes in limited government. Contemporary liberals believe in unlimited government. I mean, if government can force you to bake a cake for people who engage in practices you deplore, then what can't it compel?

It reminds me of something Thomas Sowell often says: that laws and policies, whatever else they do, create systems of incentives, and these incentives may be totally at odds with the stated purpose of the l. or p. For example, what if the multi-trillion dollar "war on poverty" is a vast system of incentives to engender more of it?

For as FDR famously said in 1935,

Our American answer to poverty is not to make the poor more secure in their poverty but to reach down and to help lift themselves out of poverty and move with the large majority along the high road of of hope and prosperity. The days of the dole in our country are numbered.

Probably didn't fool you with that one. That was LBJ in 1964. Since then the days of the dole number close to 20,000, so technically he's right.

At any rate, those comments by FD and LB show that conservatives only believe what prominent liberals once believed -- or at least said -- for which reason we are now called fascists. You know, like other fanatical supporters of limited government such as Adolf Hitler.

Each generation must learn anew the disastrous consequences of big government. But don't worry. Big government has that covered too, since you can sail through 12 or 16 or especially 23 years of Big Education without ever hearing about the disaster.

And why would you? Public education will not inform its captives of the virtues of vouchers, any more than your drug dealer will take you to rehab and offer to pay for it. Satan himself never compels. Rather, incentivizes.

Speaking of Big Education, it seems to me that job one of the left is to eliminate the soul. Once the soul is out of the way, then it cannot be damaged or destroyed. Of course it is still subject to damage and destruction, but the problem will be misdiagnosed, projected, and displaced elsewhere.

Does it surprise you that Hollywood and the media are populated by soulless predators? Only the soulless should be shocked at that revelation. For it is written (by the Aphorist):

The stupid are surprised by stupidity and the corrupt by corruption. The intelligent and the innocent are less easily disconcerted.

A variant of "you can't cheat an honest man."

I just looked at Drudge, and now I'm distracted by the fire that is only about ten miles alway. No threat to us, but it's hard to turn away from the TV when the usual morning commute is going up in flames. In other words, to be continued. After a few pointy ones from the Aphorist:

As the State grows, the individual shrinks.

The progressive Christian’s error lies in believing that Christianity’s perennial polemic against the rich is an implicit defense of socialist programs.

The leftist emulates the devout who continue venerating the relic after the miracle has been proved to be a hoax.

Monday, December 04, 2017

One (Former) Nation Riven by Diversity, AKA Hell

Today's aphoritizer, courtesy Dávila: The proclamation of our autonomy is the founding act of Hell.

Let's analyze all the ways in which this is True.

First of all, it sets man in opposition to God, for "In the serpent's reinterpretation of the order of creation, God's will and man's become reciprocally exclusive" (Schindler).

It also sets man in opposition to man, in the sense that "wills founded on goodness are intrinsically related to one another," whereas "wills founded on power have an essentially competitive relationship to each other..." This highlights the importance of the -- for lack of a better term -- "pneumatic third" that unites human groups.

In fact, a group is defined by its pneumatic third, bearing in mind that there exist bad spirits (boy and how). One of the overarching themes of the OT involves God's effort to get his people organized around the real pneumatic third, rather than its countless alternatives, such as Moloch. Moloch organizes people as much as God does, but not really. Moloch, like his disciple Marx, is the god of the ant heap.

How so? Because organization around Moloch can only be partial and exterior, rather than total and interior. You might even say that God is the "interior totality" without which the cosmos is reduced to the metaphysically sterile logical atomism discussed in the previous post.

Among other things, Moloch demands human sacrifice in order to engender his faux unity. Thus, to paraphrase Gil Bailie (or Rene Girard), human sacrifice is "unanimity minus one." While you may not be the one, there is always the implicit threat that you will be if you endanger the group unity trance. The liberal media are always on the lookout for today's sacrificial victim.

Consider how, say, Clarence Thomas, or Senator Tim Scott, threaten the group unity trance of liberal blacks. The latter constantly preach "unity," but this is a unity in defiance of reality -- like Colin Kaepernick and his imitators, who know less than nothing about the problems they claim to be protesting. Put conversely, if they were conversant with reality, they'd cease their opposition to it at once.

Yes, it is possible for good people to be wrong, which is to say, opposed to the good. How to tell the difference? Well, a good person only opposes goodness accidentally rather than essentially. Once he realizes the mistake, he feels shame and rectifies it immediately.

Not so the person who has made himself essentially bad, such as Al Sharpton, or Gloria Allred, or Hillary Clinton. It is certainly not my job to consign their souls to hell, but I don't think it is polemical or above my praygrade to notice that their souls are willfully organized around various false absolutes.

Moreover, these descendants of the Serpent proudly and conspicuously hate the good, even going so far as to call it "deplorable" or "racist" or "patriarchal," so it is not so much that they are "going to hell" as are its co-creators. As the old crack goes, they forge their fetters from their own passions.

All of this is so much common sense. For example, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance -- or standing up for the national anthem -- used to be uncontroversial, because it was an exercise -- a collective verticalesthenic -- in subordination to the psychic third.

But what are "diversity" and multiculturalism but a rebellion -- worse, an inversion -- of this truth? In this context, "One nation under God" is a pleonasm -- word of the day, pleonasm -- because there is no way for a nation to be one except under God -- or under the real psychic third, if you prefer.

Indeed, the United States is the only nation explicitly founded under this real psychic third, AKA those self-evident truths for which it is government's prime directive to protect. If the government cannot do this, then to hell with it. We're no better than any other crappy country living in some cherished delusion (as in the Middle East, excluding Israel) or nihilistic fragmentation (as in Europe).

All of this must be understood in the context of real freedom, or freedom properly understood. For Schindler, this comes down to the contrast -- or choice! -- between symbolical and diabolical freedom. Put it this way: reality is either symbolical or it is diabolical. How so?

We've actually discussed this critical idea in the past. I myself first encountered it in a slightly different guise (but same Geist) in the works of Stanley Jaki. When you get right down to it, just what kind of cosmos is this? What is its defining characteristic?

Well, first of all, we couldn't even be having this conversation if not for the fact that this is the sort of cosmos in which one thing can stand for -- symbolize -- another. The cosmos is absolutely saturated with meaning and intelligibility. Everywhere it not only gives itself over to (our) intelligence, but, via the Logos, from intelligence to intelligence. This is without question the most startling property of our cosmos -- its transmitable interior logos-unity-light. It is symbolical through and through.

That is my own interpretation. I don't know that Schindler would sign off on it. However, in discussing the primordial calamity of Genesis 3, he notes that "a denial of the truth, a reinterpretation of goodness as power, immediately makes what had been a symbolical unity into an internal strife. Man is cast out of the garden." Or soph-exiled.

"Exile from the garden in the most extreme sense is separation from the good; the furthest distance from the garden may be said to lie at the bottom of Plato's cave."

Which raises an important point: yes, man is fallen, but with varying degrees of distance from the Principle. Indeed, what is the spiritual journey -- the Adventure of Consciousness -- but the Father-Principle returning to himself via his middling relativities, AKA us, his adopted sons?

Another name for diabolical freedom is "perception is reality." This represents a total cosmic inversion -- it is the solipsistic burial of one's head up one's aseity. It is not only living in Plato's cave, or at the bottom of a well, but refusal to look up or out. And compelling others to do the same. For example, what is a government education but indoctrination into the shadows of some diabolical pneumatic third?

I well remember how, as a child, "nothing made sense." Or perhaps more accurately, "everything made no sense," by which I mean that there was no interior unity to all the things I was learning in school. And I wasn't educated in some crap district such as the LAUSD, but in an area where housing prices are inflated because parents want to get their kids into the district.

But it didn't matter. I learned countless facts of history, or science, or literature, without having a clue as to the telos that makes sense of them. I even learned about that very logocentric telos in Sunday school, but it was (ironically) equally fragmented: a seventh day fragment to go along with the fragments I learned on the other five schooldays.

Come to think of it, the only wholly unfragmented day was -- ironically -- the old sabbath, Saturday. It was given over to spontaneous play, or the uninterrupted slack of a self-healing universe.

I don't want to exaggerate the case, for the truth of the matter is that I always found interstices of slack every day of the week. Think of it as a fable, like Genesis. The point is, the real psychic third is always here, because it can never not be here.

Hell is any place from which God is absent.

And

Unbelief is not a sin but a punishment. --Dávila

Friday, December 01, 2017

I Loved a Zombie

The purpose of freedom is to enable us to choose what we are in the depths of our heart. --Schuon, To Have a Center

Now, man is never radically free, obviously. We are not free to rewrite the past or be another gender. Unless you are on the left, in which case you are free to do these things. But is this actually freedom, or flight from it?

Yes and no. Just as we cannot be radically free, nor are we totally determined. Rather, a mixture of each: freedom and necessity, which -- it seems to me -- are like prolongations of infinitude and absoluteness on the human plane.

In this context, necessity consists of all the things that Must Be, whereas freedom is an orthoparadoxical realm of things that might be, AKA potential. But freedom itself is a necessity, nor can it ever be radically excised from Necessity itself, AKA the Absolute. Indeed, to do this -- to treat freedom and necessity as separate things -- is the essence of diabolical freedom.

As Schindler explains, "The moment the will becomes an expression not of goodness but of arbitrary power, an essential opposition is introduced."

In paradise -- or, if you prefer, the upper vertical realm from which we are an ontological declension -- the will is not separated from its telos in the good. To turn it around, to rejoin the will to the good is the royal road back to said paradise.

The point is, freedom is always relational. This is precisely what you would expect in a cosmos that is likewise relational -- AKA trinitarian -- right down to the ground. Therefore, diabolical freedom occurs the moment we descend into an atomistic universe, which is to deny God. Three times, as it were.

You can get this principle via Christian doctrine. That is not how I first encountered it. Rather, I cobbled it together from several sources, and only later realized I had stumbled on something Christians had been teaching for almost two millennia. For me, one big hint was the irreducible intersubjectivity of the mother-infant dyad. It's not that we are intersubjective because we were all once helpless babies.

Rather, the converse: ultimately, this dyad -- and the natural family -- is an icon of the interior life of the Trinity. Thus, just as it is a Christian heresy to posit a Father-God separate from the Son-God, it is a cosmic heresy to atomize man. Other heresies follow from this, such as pretending it is possible for a man to marry a man, or that it is possible to choose one's gender, or the belief that one can have a natural right to murder one's baby.

For which reason you could say that Satan's own definition of freedom was perfectly articulated by the Supreme Court: "the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." That case is called Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but it would be more accurately called SCOTUS v. Man, God, and Reality itself.

In reading that wacky opinion, there is just enough truth in it to make it appear plausible to the unreflective. We do indeed have the "freedom of meaning," but again, if we separate freedom from its proper telos, then it immediately reduces to mere willfulness and power. It then commits the cosmic inversion of placing man in charge of defining reality, instead of being an adequation to it -- in other words, a complete rejection of human privilege and a denial of the human station. From there, hell is right around the corner.

Literally. For just as reuniting freedom with its telos is the royal road to paradise, dividing them is the cosmic U-turn in the other direction: the progressive path of Good Intentions animated by Strong Feelings. And in fact, "reuniting" is itself a misleading term; analogously, you wouldn't say that you need to "reunite" the first and second persons of the Trinity, but rather, see that they can never be separated to begin with.

Back to how Bob stumbled upon all of this. It must have been providence as reflected through the holy happenstance of amazon surfing, which puts one in contact with books one would have never encountered in a thousand years prior to the internet.

Back then, your best shot at widening your world -- or rather, gaining access to the Wider World -- was via independent bookstores run by intellectually and spiritually curious and capacious (and inevitably eccentric) people. And even then, the Search was bogged down by a lot of randomness, AKA cosmic noise.

I'll try to be brief, so as to not get too sidetracked. The author in question was an apparently obscure philosopher named Errol Harris. I see he has a wiki page, so I am about to learn some things about him I never knew -- for example, that he was from South Africa. He wrote a lot of things with which I disagreed or were irrelevant to me, but perhaps the most useful was his critique of logical atomism, which might as well be another name for the metaphysic that gives rise to diabolical liberty.

Ultimately, Harris

concludes that science supports a worldview that is relativistic, holistic, organicistic, teleological, and hierarchical in character -- a worldview contradicted by the unconfessed atomistic, mechanical, and pluralistic metaphysical presuppositions of formal and mathematical logic that are wrongly privileged by philosophical empiricism.

Better than "relativistic" would be relational, but you get the point: the world doesn't consist of unrelated monads bumping around together in the void; rather, reality is, as Norris Clarke puts it, substance-in-relation. Being is communion. You could even say it is intimate communion. Some might even say it is love, but here again, that cannot be severed from truth and beauty. Indeed, when you so much as bear witness to a beautiful sunset, you are quite obviously on unspeakably intimate terms with the universe. You are knowing it in the biblical way, pardon my French.

I didn't start to "get" this stuff until I was well into my 30s, and even then only in a piecemeal fashion. I didn't yet see the One Cosmos. My son is on much more intimate terms with reality than I was at his age (12). For example, he has taken up photography, not just to shoot snapshots, but with a real awareness of beauty. If you had asked me about beauty at his age, I would have wondered if you were doubting that I was all boy (to put it euphemistically).

We are getting rather far afield this morning, aren't we?

I'm going to dive back into Schindler and double-check, but it seems to me that he keeps saying the same thing in a thousand different ways -- that freedom severed from its telos devolves to its diabolical counterfeit. Everything becomes a cheap shadow of itself, while swallowing up the reality to which it is supposed to point.

I suppose the final common pathway of the illness is the creation of counterfeit humans, AKA zombies. Which puts our present politico-cultural divide in a deeper context. Yes, we are experiencing a zombie invasion, with President Trump standing between us and a full-on zombie apocalypse.

This reminds me of something I want to mention before sliding into the weekend. I received an email from a reader asking me for advice on how a Christian is supposed to love our zombie invaders. It's an excellent question about which I have a lot of thoughts. I don't have time to spill them right now, but perhaps this will spark a conversation over the weekend. Here are some excerpts from the letter:

In the past few years it's become more and more clear to me that some animals are more equal than others, and some populations are being asked to adhere to a higher standard than others....

It's so blatant now; professors as well as the unwashed on places like Twitter are openly saying white people should be exterminated; they say this with absolutely no fear of sanction or consequence. We are told that for the good of the planet we shouldn't have children, but then we're told we must bring in millions of nons to buttress (replace) our aging workforce.

It's all around us everyday. It's all bullshit, this moral demand for egalitarianism coupled with constant anti-white sentiment. And it's here where my excruciating dilemma comes in. How do I hold in one hand what I know; and in the other hand hold my desire to draw close to God, who demands that I love my enemies, and treat everyone with compassion, as He treats us? Is there some way to balance this and keep my integrity, to not lie to myself or God?

.... So there it is, the splinter in my mind. I guess if I could encapsulate my problem it would be to ask how can I resist society's demand that I engage in genetic self-loathing and suicide and at the same time obey God's commands to love my neighbor (and enemies)?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Diabolical Freedom and the Fall into Ismism

Before we begin, a benediction ("good words") from the Aphorist:

The free act is only conceivable in a created universe. In the universe that results from a free act.

Feel free to take that literally. Feel enslaved not to.

We are discussing the book Freedom from Reality: The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty. That is a loaded title, since it contains a number of words that need to be defined before any meaningful analysis can take place: freedom, reality, diabolical, modern, and liberty.

Let's begin with the first: what is it? Can we even know what freedom is? Or is it just a placeholder for an unknowable reality -- a container with no content, like "death." We throw that word around too, but no one can conceive of his own death, at least while alive. In other words, if you're conceiving it, you're not dead.

Perhaps the most misleading way to conceptualize freedom is to separate it from other primordial realities. Indeed, I think Schindler would agree that this is the first act of diabolical freedom: in scholastic terms, to divide act from potency, and to then elevate the latter to priority. Doing so separates freedom from its telos, which leaves us in a nihilistic flatland, devoid of hierarchy and purpose.

Wha? Can you explain that in plain English?

Edward Feser -- I think -- says what amounts to the same thing, that "abandonment of final causes" is "the original sin of modern philosophy," to such an extent that "the whole history of modern thought" can be seen "as an overlooking of the distinction between potency and act.”

That reminds me of Whitehead's gag that the history of Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato. At least up to Aquinas. After that, it's a series of footnotes to... I don't know, William of Ockham? He is the father of nominalism, and therefore the inventor of stupid.

I guess it would help to be a philosopher, which we are not. But we do remember reading Ideas have Consequences, the most adversely consequential idea of all being the abandonment of universals, and the fall into modern misosophy in all its diabolical and even tenured forms.

But not only am I not a philosopher, neither am I a historian of ideas. Therefore, I don't attempt to locate the Error at some specific point in history. Rather, the Error is somehow built into man, which is the whole point of Genesis 3: our diabolical turn is an ontological possibility, for every man at every time.

This turn can be considered from various angles, for example, the existentialist error of elevating existence over essence, which, for my money, is the same as giving priority to potency over act. It ultimately means that we have no essence; we are not created -- or worse, we create ourselves. We are "nothing" until we make the choice. You may pretend that makes you something, but you are still nothing, only a delusional nothing.

Clearly, this is the basis of the gender insanity, in which one's gender isn't given by reality, but rather, is chosen from a menu of, what, 52 flavors? The list is literally endless, because it involves the turn to a Bad Infinite. The real Infinite is of course located above, AKA God. Pursuing the infinite in the other direction only results in more fragmentation, or mindless Diversity for its own sake. This is yet one more instance of how the left is literally diabolical.

Now, the diabolical involves a primordial rejection of the Real. Okay. What is the Real? That sounds like a difficult question, but I don't think it is, because it really involves nothing more than a deep meditation on what you always already are, what you always already are doing, what you always already know (in any act of knowing), and cannot help being, doing, and knowing.

To back up a bit, when I wrote the bʘʘk, it was really a form of autobobography. I mean that literally, because the implicit question motivating the whole existentialida was How did I get here? Or, more to the point, How is Bob even possible? Or again, What must the cosmos be like in order for such a thing as Bob to exist?

These might seem like stupid or frivolous questions, but not to me. Don't we all want to know the answers to these? Indeed, everyone has some sort of answers, only bad, silly, or inadequate ones. Scientism, for example, combines all three, but it is hardly alone. Indeed, any "ism" you care to name is going to be wrong. I lump them all under the rubric "ismism," and just move on. You could say that ismism encompasses all of the diabolical alternatives to reality.

For Schindler, "Modern liberty is, in sum, a deceptive and ultimately self-destroying illusion, which cuts one off from, and indeed sets one in opposition to, God, the world, other people, the community as a whole... and even oneself, so that one's inner being, in its congenital blindness to the inner reality of everything else without exception, is smothered by endless layers of dissemblance."

Again, quite literally. Lately I've been thinking about the distinction between information and noise in scripture. Some people think there is no noise, but that is impossible, so long as humans are human and God is God. But when Jesus says that

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

You can sheer any mythological noise from that, and see it as a quite literal metaphysical description of diabolical liberty. Indeed, just prior to it, Jesus makes the famous crack that "the truth shall make you free," which is so familiar that people may not realize the metaphysical significance. It really goes to the subject of this post, which is that to imagine that liberty can exist without truth is to fall into diabolical freedom, which is another word for slavery.

Freedom from reality is not freedom, but bondage. So, feel free to take the Aphorist quite literally when he says:

The freedom to which modern man aspires is not that of the free man, but that of the slave on a holiday.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Assault on Mount Liberty

Because that's what it feels like. I'm talking about D.C. Schindler's Freedom from Reality: The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty, which is so sprawling and full of implications that it is impossible to wrap my mind around it. As mentioned a few posts back, in terms of style, he is the anti-Schuon, such that it is up to the reader to try digest it all.

Having said that, I am absolutely convinced that Schindler has identified the central problem with man, with history, and with the world in general. You might even say that what he calls "diabolical liberty" is simply another name for the fall of man. In a way this is self-evident, because most all human problems are caused by the misuse of freedom, right? But this presupposes a proper use of freedom.

However, one of the defining characteristics of modernity has been to detach liberty from any intrinsic good, thus reducing the will to pure power. Another strand of modernity denies free will altogether, which only drains the world of any possible meaning whatsoever. If man is not free, then he is completely detached from transcendental reality, i.e., truth, beauty, virtue, and unity. Either of the modern options is not only diabolical, but the essence thereof.

This is certainly not the book I would have written on the subject. Being that I am not a scholar, I would not have spent the first 100 or more pages on a tedious deconstruction of John Locke as a representative of the philosophical turn to diabolical freedom. Why not just say why he's wrong and get on with it? I could do that in a page or so.

Come to think of it, as we proceed through the book, every once in a while I will consult Dávila or Schuon for a bracing blast of fresh air -- to call the meeting back to order and re-orient ourselves to first principles. Each of these authors slices like an effing hammer through reams of bullshit, without trying to impress academics who will never agree with them anyway.

For example, this aphorism, in a way, summarizes the whole book:

Liberty is not an end, but a means. Whoever mistakes it for an end does not know what to do with it once he attains it.

Boom! Now, that is 100% Obviously True. But this truth must be seen with vivid immediacy. If it isn't seen, then no amount of argument will convince the person who doesn't see it. For the sake of argument, let's concede that John Locke is Much Smarter than we are. So what? If that is the case, it only highlights the relative unimportance of intelligence in understanding primordial truth.

Even Dr. Strange knows this. My son is very much into Marvel Comics these days, and he convinced me to watch it with him. What an unexpectedly enjoyable film! Dr. Strange is a gifted neurosurgeon who is quite full of himself, before he has a career-ending accident that permanently maims his hands. I don't want to give the whole thing away, but at one point his spiritual guide says something to the effect of, "Your intellect has taken you this far. It will take you no further."

That's a bingo. I first encountered this vertically liberating truth many years ago, in reading Sri Aurobindo. Here's the exact passage... better yet, here is an excerpt from a post on the subject from over 10 years ago, called The Descent of Mind:

Wait a minute. I was a bit startled when I reread the first sentence, which is all about the subject under discussion: "our historical understanding and appreciation of liberty may have followed from actually living it in the form of free markets as opposed to thinking about it abstractly. In academia there is a huge bias toward the latter view, because intellectuals always want to believe that they are more important and influential than they actually are."

A synchronicity is just God punning, in this case across a decade. Back to the Passage:

Obviously, intelligence itself in no way correlates with truth. Look at Noam Chomsky, for example. He is obviously at the summit of intelligence. You can even say he's genius if you like. But what good is the intelligence, when it exists in a parallel looniverse of lies, hatred, and paranoia? The smarter the person, the more catastrophic will be their error!

.... Something similar to a descent of pure intelligence occurred to Sri Aurobindo. In his case, he didn't remain stuck there, but immediately saw through its limitations. He did not see it as an end, merely a realm that had to be infused with a higher spirit in order to attain its proper end.

The best introduction to Sri Aurobindo is The Adventure of Consciousness, by Satprem. In it, Satprem describes Aurobindo's recognition of the limits of the intellect:

"The day came when Sri Aurobindo had had enough of these intellectual exercises. He had probably realized that one can go on amassing knowledge indefinitely, reading and learning languages, even learning all the languages in the world and reading all the books in the world, and yet not progressing an inch. For the mind does not seek truly to know, even though it appears to -- it seeks to grind. If by chance the machine were to come to a stop because knowledge had been obtained, it would soon rise up in revolt and find something new to grind, just for the sake of grinding and grinding."

Critically, "That within us which seeks to know and to progress is not the mind, but something behind it which uses it: 'The capital period of my intellectual development,' Sri Aurobindo confided to a disciple, 'was when I could see clearly that what the intellect said might be correct and not correct, that what the intellect justified was true and its opposite also was true. I never admitted a truth in the mind without simultaneously keeping it open to the contrary of it.... And the first result was that the prestige of the intellect was gone!'

Some interesting comments there too, 68 in all, out of which only Julie, Van, and Joan remain. I wonder how I successfully drove away so many readers? Oh well. Here is a timeless truth from the comments: "You need, silence, aspiration, surrender, and a source of genuine grace, in a serious way. That's the only way out of the closed loop." Indeed, that is the only way to seriously deal with freedom! Anything short of it results in catastrophes of various kinds, for example, attaining what your will desires, AKA getting what you think you want.

Back to Schindler. It's hard to know where to begin -- which is ironic, isn't it, because that is the whole problem with liberty. Let's begin with a Completely Crazy opinion by the Supreme Court in 1992 (Planned Parenthood v. Casey), in which the Court attempted to nail down the meaning of liberty. After all, protection of our natural liberty (along with life and property) is the very reason our government exists, so it must be pretty important. Here is what these flaming idiot-geniuses actually said:

"At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." (By the way, I highly recommend Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived, which contains numerous instances of fine insultainment where he tears this diabolical idea of liberty to shreds.)

Why diabolical? Let us count the ways! It is very much as if the Court consists of four people with rudimentary contact with Reality, and then five Deepaks for whom reality -- including the reality of the Constitution -- you know, their Only Job -- is literally whatever they want it to be. For these robed tyrants, the essence of liberty involves defining reality any way one chooses. Is it any wonder these demon-inspired nihilists find whatever they want to find in the Constitution? Schindler:

[T]his claim to power is a devil's bargain: it comes at a cost, and the price paid is the elimination of precisely what is promised. One can have the absolute power to determine the meaning of existence as one wishes only on the condition that one's determination of that meaning amounts to nothing at all.... you and I can both have the absolute power to determine the meaning of existence only if your determination means absolutely nothing to me...

So, -- unless you are a Supreme Court justice, in which case your goofy private opinion is backed by the violence of the state -- this power to define the meaning of reality turns out to be simultaneously omnipotent and impotent. It is not freedom toward reality, but freedom from reality, which would be a good title for a book.

To be continued, likely for several weeks. We'll leave off with a few zingers from The Aphorist:

The people today do not feel free except when they feel authorized to respect nothing.

The price of absolute freedom would be a vulgarity without limits.

Man today is free, like a traveler lost in the desert.

Upon finding himself perfectly free, the individual discovers that he has not been unburdened of everything, but despoiled of everything.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Man is to Animal as Infinite is to Finite

Continuing with our re-view of The Immortal in us... speaking of which, who is reviewing whom, the mortal the immortal, or vice versa?

This is not a trick question, nor a nonsense one either, unless you mean perfect nonsense, which is what immortality is. So yes, it is perfectly nonsensical to posit an immortal soul, but mere nonsense to deny it. I will explain what I mean. At some point in this post.

Take, for example, universals, which uniquely characterize human intelligence. They are a necessary condition for abstract thought, being that they form the basis of abstraction. Frankly, one cannot say anything without deploying universals, since words are already universals.

Augros makes the point that universals cannot possibly exist in the physical structure of our brains, any more than they could on a sheet of paper. You cannot draw a universal -- say, a tree -- without particularizing it. But the fact that you can particularize it means you possess implicit knowledge of the universal.

Indeed, the drawing is proof of this pre- or trans- or foreknowledge -- a three-way knowledge between the idea, the drawing, and the third party who can see that the drawing is of a tree, and thereby retrieve the universal from the particular.

No universal could fit into the brain, since the brain is finite, while the universal is infinite: "every universal enables its possessor to know things about an infinity of individuals." Thus, our minds differ from the minds of animals "as the nonmaterial from the material." Critically, "this is no mere difference of degree," but rather, of kind.

Again, man is not a new animal, but a new reality -- very similar to how life is not just a new kind of matter, but a new world, the biosphere. Imagine reducing life to matter and calling yourself a biologist. Now, imagine reducing mind to brain and calling yourself a psychologist. Congratulations! You're tenured.

The next step is to realize that, not only can universals not be stored in the brain, they cannot be a product of the brain:

Your intellect is not a power in your brain or in any bodily organ. It is incorporeal. Accordingly, it does not depend on your brain or on any part of your body as a power depends on an organ to host it.

Rather,

your intellect is to your brain as your sense of sight is to visible objects. Without visible objects, your sense of sight can exist, but it will have nothing to do. Without your brain, your intellect can exist, but it will have nothing to do.

Bottom line: your intellect "depends on your brain only for its objects, not for its power." It is in, but not of, matter. To understand the material world is to have transcended it.

Clearly, the Incarnation emphasizes this reality. In Genesis, there is the general creation, followed by the special creation of man in the course of day six. Just as Jesus is two natures in one person, so too, in a sense, are we all. In our case, clearly, we have bodies and intellects, and yet, we are one person. But Genesis 3 suggests that we have become divided -- against the world, against, ourselves, against others, and against the Creator.

"You are part body and part spirit, a mammal with a nonmaterial mind capable of knowing eternal truths. Where in the world can a being like you have come from?" Is it even possible that we came from "within" the world, a la natural selection? How can the world transcend the world? Or, how could finitude give rise to infinitude?

This infinitude of the soul converges on the Absolute, for "Cosmic evolution cannot surpass intellectual souls. They represent a destination more than a middle of the journey. They are evolution's end." And as we know, the end is chronologically last but ontologically first, i.e., the telos of material and efficient causation.

Eh. I just go back to Schuon, since he's so concise and pointed. The whole shocking Doctrine in a sharpshorting paragraph:

All the knowledge the brain can hold is nothing in the light of Truth even if it is immeasurably rich from a human point of view. Metaphysical knowledge is like a divine seed in the heart; thoughts represent only faint glimmers of it.

The imprint of the divine Light in human darkness, the passage from the Infinite to the finite, the contact between the Absolute and the contingent -- this is the whole mystery of intellection. --Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts

Friday, November 24, 2017

Immortality While You Wait

Just some highlighted passages from The Immortal in You: How Human Nature is More than Science Can Say, before moving on to the next subject.

Actually, my mind is already deep into the next subject -- the subject of real and diabolical liberty -- but I hate to just move on as if the previous book never happened. If only for myself, I want to remumble some points worth mumbling. We call this process "assimilating truths into our psychic substance," AKA, plundering the book for purposes of anticipatory plagiarism.

Then again, I often highlight passages I already know and understand, because it's nice to know I'm not alone in understanding them. When someone else independently discovers what you have, it might just be reality. (I emphasize "independently," in order to distinguish the process from group hysterias and other collective delusions such as Trump Derangement.)

For example,

"[W]e must think that the human mind differs from the animal mind in some way as the infinite does from the finite."

That is just a soph-evident fact for which it is up to us to ponder the consequences. Remarkably, many people do not see this fact, for which reason they cannot draw the implications. Nevertheless, it is a critical Fact of Life.

Speaking of which, "Philosophy is like thinking and breathing: not something that we can either do or not do if we like, but that we must do, and must do either badly or well, so long as we live."

Therefore, our first foray into philosophy should simply be an inquiry into what we already believe, both explicitly but especially implicitly. Suffice it to say that most people deeply believe in things they don't believe they believe, most especially some god by another name. True, it is often a false god, all the more reason to get to the bottom of one's implicit philosophy.

"Precision or exactness is not the same thing as certainty. I am absolutely sure that I am taller than my wife." However, "That is not an exact statement." Analogously, perhaps science will some day "prove" with quantitative precision that God doesn't exist. Nevertheless, he most certainly does, for metaphysics is more certain than science, even if less precise.

"[S]eeing the things in a relationship is not the same as seeing the relationship itself." For example, male and female are obviously related. But is that the same as knowing how they are related?

Just ask a feminist: she has an absurd idea of how the sexes are related, and yet calls this absurdity knowledge. This only demonstrates -- as if such demonstration is necessary -- how a leftist education doesn't relieve stupidity but weaponizes it. And the first casualty is oneself.

"Behold the marvelous power of your intellect: it enables you to know (and not merely guess) the truth about all kinds of things you have never specifically checked."

This goes to the metaphysical truths to which man is, yes, entitled. Why entitled? Because to be ignorant of them is to be denied the possibility of actualizing man qua man. It is no different than saying a cow is entitled to grass or a fish to water. It would be pretty stupid, not to mention cruel, to create a cow with nothing to eat. It would be crueler still to create rational beings with nothing to know -- i.e., intellects without truth.

"It could never be true that 'there is no truth,' since that statement itself would then be true." Nevertheless. What did Orwell say? "Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious." But the implications of this obvious truth are (literally) infinite.

Two sentences, each containing exactly 100 characters: "The bomb will detonate in ten seconds unless you cut the wires in the right order, so be sure to cut the first wire labeled P." Or, "The bomb will detonate in ten seconds unless you cut the wires in the right order, so be sure to cut the first wire labeled R."

So, a 1% difference in finite content makes a rather large -- even infinite, i.e., life and death -- difference in meaning. The next time some clever chimp tries to tell you his DNA is 99% the same as yours, pull out this gag and see how he responds. He will no doubt fling poo, and defend the practice by insisting it is "protected speech." But the deeper principle is that semantics cannot be reduced to syntax, or meaning to grammar.

Not only is it OK to be white. Contrary to animal rights activists and global warming enthusiasts, it is also okay to be human.

"There are no saints among the beasts, but neither are there any Hitlers or Stalins." Hitler's DNA is no doubt 99.9% (or whatever) the same as ours. So, where is the difference? It's all about the verticality, which is not reducible to syntax or quantity.

Excellent observation from biologist T. Dobzhansky, that if Homo sapiens were classified based upon "psychological instead of mainly morphological traits, man would have to be considered a separate phylum or even kingdom" (emphasis mine).

Here again, this is a fact which is full of implications. Really, it is just another way of affirming that man is a Special Creation, a la Genesis. There is the rest of creation. And there is man. To not see the distinction is to not see; or, it is blindness masquerading as vision.

Another good line, this one by none other than Noam Chomsky: "It's about as likely that an ape will prove to have language ability as that there is an island somewhere with a species of flightless birds waiting for human beings to teach them to fly."

Ho! Great observation, but what prevents Chomsky from drawing the correct implications? Intellectually speaking, no one ever taught him to fly.

"Though all animals share one world, all may be said to live in different worlds, since each perceives best only that part of the environment essential to its success" (Tinbergen).

My note next to this says: Escape from Planet of the Apes. For what is humanness but an escape from a horizontal entrapment in subjectivity, into the wide open space of universals, essences, and disinterested objectivity? Hmmm?

Aquinas: "If the intellect were a part of the body," then "it would not understand universals but only particulars."

Yet another self-evident truth available to anyone, full of momentous implications. If your mind could only retain particulars, then like a computer you would soon run out of space in your hard drive.

To be continued... Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chivalry and Other Forms of Female Oppression

An eye exam is not an intelligence test, for the most perfect vision can coexist in the most perfect idiot. And vice versa: the person with a high IQ can obviously have poor vision -- and not just the physical kind. Rather, he cannot see various nonlocal relationships that illuminate and extend the past, present, and future, within both the interior and exterior, or upper and lower vertical.

Example. Okay, I don't want to get sidetracked, but what's really going on with this epidemic of sexual predation and perversion in various bastions of the left, e.g., Hollywood and the Swamp Media (and surely academia cannot be far behind)?

Now, there are plenty of idiots on the left, but there are also some intelligent people. However, the vision of the smartest among them is so limited that they can scarcely see what is under their noses. They seem to think it is a problem of men, or of a culture insufficiently steeped in the ideology of feminism. That is what they see because that is all their vision will allow them to see. "Ideological blinders" is such a cliché, but I don't want to waste my time thinking up a better term.

Some conservatives have speculated that the left is the ideal shelter for these sexual predators, such that their political affiliation is just a calculated pose. I don't think that is the case, at least with the majority. There may be some pure sociopaths, but even sociopaths have principles. Hitler could murder human beings all day but would never harm a dog. Likewise, Charlie Rose might stalk women all day, but wouldn't be caught dead at a Tea Party rally, or reading Thomas Sowell. There are limits to his depravity!

So, what's really going on? Well, if ideas have consequences, metaphysics has... big ones. In other words, if your metaphysic is wrong, then everything else will follow. For ultimately, a metaphysic is your "map of the cosmos," and don't try to pretend you don't have one. If you don't have an explicit metaphysic, then it only means you have an implicit, unexamined, and undoubtedly stupid one.

Feminism is an idiotic ideology rooted in an even more idiotic metaphysic. To believe it is to believe what is false, right down to the ground of being. What could go wrong?

Now we're really in danger of a major side trip, because this touches on the central theme of a book I'm currently reading, Freedom from Reality: The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty. I'm holding off on a recommendation, because it is very dense, difficult, and expensive, plus I'm only about a third of the way through. But you can get my drift from the title: the feminist ideal of liberty is indeed diabolical (literally), for it is a freedom from reality, which is (obviously) no freedom at all.

What is it then? In other words, if feminism doesn't entail freedom, then what does it entail? Er, slavery? That's a good start, for it implies that the person is bound more to the ideology than to the reality which the ideology is supposed to symbolize.

But leftism does not symbolize reality, except in a hollow and self-referential way. In this way it has the identical structure as p0rn: a completely empty symbol of what it is representing. If you conflate the two, then you are dragged down to the level of the empty symbol, and the entire cosmos vertically collapses in on itself.

In this light, what is scientism but scientific p0rn? You have to understand what I am saying literally. Science is not reality, obviously. Rather, it is a symbolic system that represents reality, but always in an open, dynamic, and incomplete way. It always points beyond itself to the reality it symbolizes.

But consider, for example, global warming enthusiasts: they aren't even troubled that their models do not conform to the reality they are supposed to represent! As such, they are just like feminists for whom feminism is infinitely more important than what it is supposed to map, i.e., reality.

Back to our main peripheral point, what is going on in the Swamp. Let's put it this way: how do you stop rape, or any other bad human behavior, for that matter? With violence, or at least the threat of it. Can feminism stop this violence? For example, can a feminized president bring peace to the Middle East, or stop Korea from acquiring nukes, just by being extra-womanly? How did that work out? Didn't it just provoke the malefactors?

Here's a little paradoxical secret for feminists: men devalue women, and that is a big reason why they value them. Sounds paradoxical, but it is thoroughly orthopardoxical, and the basis of chivalry.

Let's just consider the plain, unadorned reality: everyone who has not been poisoned by ideology knows women are weaker than men. Thus, they need to be protected by men -- or better, by maleness. For related reasons, men don't want to do what a woman can do. Rather, they want to do what a woman can't do. If a woman can do anything a man can do, then to hell with manhood.

But what does feminism teach? That a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. That there are no essential differences between male and female. This is a deeply untrue doctrine, but the depth of its falsehood is even deeper than you might think. It is ultimately false because reality does not consist of atoms in the void -- not at any level, from the subatomic to the human and beyond, all the way up and into God.

Rather, ultimate reality is relationship, and there is not a thing you can rightly understand unless you first understand this principle. Thus, for example, to say a woman "needs" a man (and vice versa) is not nearly adequate to the case. Rather, woman refers to man, and vice versa. Man and Woman are symbolic realities that point beyond themselves to the Other that completes them on that level.

Another and even more primordial relationship is Man and God. Man refers to God, as God refers to Man, the latter going to the doctrine of incarnation. To understand that man is created in the image and likeness of God is one way to "see" this reality.

I think we can agree with feminists that a lot of catastrophes in the world are caused by men, indeed, probably the vast majority. Who commits all the violent crime? Who starts all the wars? Who's in charge of ESPN? Not women.

Perhaps the central purpose of culture is to shepherd merely biological males into psycho-spiritual manhood. Men commit rape and other abuses, obviously. But such crimes are unthinkable for the mature man. Now, the critical question is, how does one create such a man? Can feminism do it?

Ha! Remember what was said above about men having a kind of in-built devaluation of the feminine sphere. If it's only Mom telling me "No," then that amounts to a green light to go ahead and do it. Feminism is like a parchment barrier: "Peace (between the sexes) in our time!"

But if Dad says No? That's a different story, isn't it? I read somewhere that Brad Pitt confronted Dirty Harvey at a party and warned him in no uncertain terms that if he tried anything again with his girlfriend, then violence would be visited upon his fat, disgusting person.

Imagine an alternate reality, in which a Pajama Boy or Girl warns him that if his behavior continues, then he may well have to attend sensitivity training and learn how his maleness is really a disease that can only be cured by a psychic castration. I wonder if this is what he's learning in "rehab?"

The bottom line is that Manhood is the only solution to the problems unleashed by men; there is no "downward" solution, a la feminism, but only an upward one into the telos of proper psycho-spiritual manhood. But again, that cosmos -- the real one -- does not exist for the left.

I'm confident my son will never abuse women. He will, however, open doors and give up his seat for them, so I guess that makes him a hopeless oppressor. Again, chivalry is a function of seeing the underlying differences between the sexes.

Well, our little sidetrack hijacked the post. We'll just leave off with a few timelessly timely gags courtesy of the Aphorist:

Modern man inverts problems' ranks. When it comes to sex education, for example, everyone pontificates, but who worries about the education of the sentiments?

Ideologies are fictitious nautical charts, but on them, in the end, depends against which reef one is shipwrecked. If interests move us, stupidities guide us.

In society just as in the soul, when hierarchies abdicate, the appetites rule.

A modern man is a man who forgets what man knows about man.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Precision Poetry and the Bill of Responsibilities

In the previous post we touched on the mystery of how subjectivity enters the cosmos and existence becomes experience -- or, existence starts to experience itself. It seems to me that as soon as one begins using words to describe this development, one is vulnerable to misleading and/or being misled.

For example, in the first sentence above, I alluded to subjectivity "entering" the cosmos. I then referenced existence "becoming" experience. Neither of these can be accurate; they are loaded with preconceptions that will lead us astray if simply followed blindly.

They are similar to the mind-matter dualism, which is just a conclusion masquerading as a premise. The one is defined in terms of the other, but neither is defined in terms of itself. In other words, to say "mind-matter" is a way to conceal the fact that one has no earthly idea what mind (or matter) is. The terms are just placeholders for certain properties.

Only metaphysics can rescue us from this linguistic rabbit hole of mirrors.

Yesterday afternoon the term popped into my head unbidden: precision poetry. That's all. Just "precision poetry." It then flew away, only to return just this moment. What could it mean?

Well, in my experience, it brings to mind exactly two people: Schuon the Metaphysician and Dávila the Aphorist. There are better poets and there are more precise thinkers, but no one else in my world combines the two in such a powerful way.

I'll give you a counter-example. I'm reading a book about a subject near my heart, called Into the Mystic: The Visionary and Ecstatic Roots of 1960s Rock and Roll. Between the ages of, say, nine and twenty five, music was pretty much my religion, my savior, my point of reference. It was the only thing that made Total Sense to me -- and made sense of the world.

I'm sure we've discussed this in the past, but for me it was much more than merely "liking music." Rather, it was my gateway to ecstatic and mystical experience. In other words, daily lessons in transcendence. Given the routine experience of transcendence, the world couldn't possibly be reduced to its appearance. Flickering embers from the Other Side were scattered everywhere.

It also seems to me that I was more vulnerable than most to ecstasy -- which I mean literally, in the sense of ekstasis or "standing outside oneself." In turn, this contributed to my singular lack of ambition. I was never, ever lured by the rewards of a conventional life, because those rewards could never replace the intrinsic rewards of bare existence. For me, such a life would equate to death. (I should also emphasize that this can easily be confused with mere hedonism, another thing entirely.)

So, you can see why I was attracted to the title of this book. And while the author makes some good points, his language is so full of imprecise bloviating that it dulls the message. Frankly, this is the peril of any religious writing, especially before there is any canon or tradition within which to work.

Come to think of it, really productive religious writing must always navigate between two shores, dogma or doctrine on one side, and a kind of indistinct cloud on the other. Geometry and music. Default to the former, and language becomes dead and saturated; veer toward the other, and one is reduced to deepaking the chopra.

What is needed is... precision poetry. Here is an example of imprecise pseudo-poetry, or of Liking the Sound of One's Own Pen:

American children heard so much about this imaginary Britain that it was sometimes hard for them to tell as they grew up what were their real childhood memories and what came out of those stories. Without knowing it, their parents had initiated them into the British secret history.

Thus, when the Beatles arrived,

the American adolescents who responded to them already had a kind of interpretive framework with which to understand them. They instinctively understood that these young men, with their fascinating accents, their schoolboy hair, their air of cheeky panache, their dashing clothes, were not of the colorless present, but creatures of a story. They were envoys from the secret history....

They were a version of the protagonists of English children's stories, the ones who discovered phoenix eggs and secret gardens. The implicit idea was that childhood -- or certain things about childhood -- could become a way of life.

There may be a precise point or two buried somewhere within, but as the Aphorist might say: Prolixity is not an excess of words but a dearth of ideas. So, Write concisely, so as to finish before making the reader sick.

Speaking of which, there is a particularly nauseating passage about the JFK assassination. If you want to be precise about it, he was killed by an unhinged leftist (but I repeat myself). End of story.

No no no. Here's the real story:

Something in the thousand days of Jack Kennedy put into the air a notion that a Kennedy America might be a place where the desires of the underground could be harmonized somehow with the desires of the country. Kennedy was, Norman Mailer said, a sheriff that the outlaws could respect. The idea of such an alliance of outlaws and sheriff was shattered by the assassination, never to recur.

Oof! I think I'm gonna hurl. It gets worse:

JFK had sometimes seemed like a presence that might graciously escort the country through the transformations that history was poised to rain down on it, to somehow manage it all -- a person who had one side of his head in the grace of the past and one side in the wild energy of the oncoming future. Now the people felt exposed to the fury of the storm.

That right there is some bad and imprecise poetry. And no, he wasn't just murdered by a leftist loon:

The consensus narrative was not able to comprehend the assassination.... The Commission's version of the story was finally not far enough from the id of America, the secret dark enflamed places where espionage, crime and reactionary violence [?!] crossed each other....

An impulse emerged, almost from the moment of the event, to see the assassination as part of a pattern, maybe an extension of the horrors coming regularly out of the South. It was American viciousness -- the spirit of the lynch mob -- seemingly carried to a sublimity of horror, the mask slipping from the awful face. A glimpse of the scale of the power that was keeping the country both placid and brutal.

Gosh. Why not just blame Trump and be done with it?

My point isn't to make you sick. I just wanted to again highlight the nauseating combination of obscure thought and bad poetry. To quote the Aphorist, Many a modern poem is obscure, not like a subtle text, but like a personal letter. As in, "What the hell is he talking about?"

Precision poetry is not only possible, it is necessary. This is because truth and beauty converge and are ultimately two sides of the same reality.

The other day it occurred to me that we really need a Bill of Responsibilities to complement our Bill of Rights. Indeed, the former must precede the latter, because only a responsible person can be given rights. Rights and responsibilities are grounded in free will, such that the free person has certain intrinsic rights only because he is presumed to be a morally responsible agent.

So, we have the "right to free speech." But this is only conceivable, let alone possible, because we have a prior responsibility to the Logos. In other words, we are obligated to speak truth. To bear false witness is not only wrong, it is cosmically irresponsible. It is to destroy the very reason why man was given speech at all. When you speak -- and write -- you have an obligation not only to be honest, but to at least try not to be ugly.

The writer arranges for syntax to return to thought the simplicity which words take away. And The fewer adjectives we waste, the more difficult it is to lie. --Dávila