Friday, August 11, 2017

On the Urgent Need of Safe Spaces: for Truth

Great essay -- actually, a formal address -- in Pieper's Problems of Modern Faith, called The Abuse of Language and the Abuse of Power. The content is quite similar, if not identical, to his little book of the same name. Looks like either the talk was turned into a book, or vice versa.

Whatever the case may be, do not be deceived by the brevity, for in the words of the Aphorist, Prolixity is not an excess of words but a dearth of ideas. It actually made me see stars. As in the Aphorist's maxim that The collision with an intelligent book makes us see a thousand stars.

That's close to the truth, being that I highlighted nearly every sentence. Usually, when I highlight something, it's not in order to "remember" it in the usual way. Rather, it's because a star flashed into view. Actually, I've developed an informal system of notation with about five levels, depending upon the density of stars. The last level is dog-earing the page. That happens when I've collided with a supercluster.

The whole thing is both timely and timeless, which I suppose amounts to the same thing. Or at least what is timeless is always timely, even if what is timely is rarely timeless. At any rate, let's take out our telos-scopes and see if we can unpack some of the stars.

First of all, even the title is provocative: how is it even possible to abuse language? Language isn't alive. Or is it? And what can it possibly have to do with power, much less the abuse of it?

Pieper doesn't put it this way, but I believe language is indeed alive. It is a medium of life, much in the way of circulating blood. Quite simply, in the absence of language, there would be no way for mind and spirit to circulate. Obvious, no? Haven't you ever felt more alive after reading or hearing something? (Or more dead, depending.)

As we shall eventually see, this goes back to a triune structure of reality in which God eternally speaks the Word. And if you only look close enough, everything is composed of intelligible words. It is why we can understand the world, for it is not made of atoms or quarks or waves or particles, but of language. We are immersed in wordstuff, which is why existence is so endlessly fascinating. Or boring, depending upon the soul's level of literacy.

Pieper adverts to the misuse of language as "an eternal temptation which, throughout the course of history, man has been, and always will be, called upon to resist."

Interesting. Could our primordial calamity be related to language abuse? Something inside me says "yes." And what is the Crucifixion but -- literally -- the last word in abuse of the Word? It is the attempt to snuff it out entirely. For what is Truth, anyway?

That's a cynical question. No, it's worse than that, for it betrays the seduction of sophistry, the same sophistry that has been with us from the time of Plato right down to this morning's New York Times. What is academia but a Temple of Sophistry?

Which only emphasizes the power of its lure, a lure that can be traced back to Genesis 3. Jumping ahead a bit, here is how Pieper describes the original vision and purpose of the university. Try not to laugh. Or cry. Or be triggered:

[T]he concept 'academic' has... retained a common or identical feature over the course of time, a feature which, moreover, is easy to define. [Bear in mind this was written in 1964, when academia was far less woke than today.]

This feature is the fact that a 'zone of truth' is deliberately set aside in the midst of society, a hedged-in space to house the autonomous engagement with reality [!], in which people can inquire into, discuss, and assert the truth of things without let or hindrance; a domain expressly shielded from any conceivable attempts to use it as a means to achieve certain ends [!], and in which all concerns irrelevant to its true purpose, whether collective or personal, whether of political, economic or ideological import, must keep silent [!].

In short, the university is indeed supposed to be a safe space: for truth! Because if truth isn't safe, then none of us are.

How does truth decay begin? It must have to do with the detachment of language from reality. Note that this is not a bug of postmodernism, but a feature. For again, language is no longer about real things, but about language.

Thus, not only is postmodernism sealed in tautology and sophistry, but it is a statement about the permanent and ineradicable stupidity of man. In this context, exposure to the university can only arm and aggravate the stupidity, not ameliorate or cure it.

What is truth? "A person must not have progressed very far in his education if he has not discovered good reasons to justify the worst behavior. The evil which has been done in the world since Adam's time has been justified by means of good reasons."

Okay then. What is evil?

Evil on a wholesale level begins in corruption of the word; or better, corruption of the function of the word. Which is whatnow?

Two things, distinguishable but inseparable: knowledge and communication (of reality):

Its first achievement is the fact that reality becomes manifest through the word. One speaks in order to make known something real in the act of calling it by name in order, of course, to make it known to someone else.

This latter reminds me of something I learned in my psychoanalytic training which actually turns out to be true: that all language has a from --> to structure, even interior dialogue.

This goes back to Bion's idea that communication begins with the mother-infant dyad, which is the most primordial level of interpersonal exchange. It eventually evolves into proper speech, but any number of things can go wrong along the way, such that the person becomes more or less capable of communicating his interior world in the form of speech.

People who cannot do this end up splitting, repressing, or projecting it (for it still exists, only in an unglishable and therefore externalized form). These primitive unwords become flesh. In a bad way. (For unspeakable truths can also become flesh in a good way, as in love; or, love is the way they are communicated.)

In other words, they become leftists, wordlessly communing with fellow leftists who are likewise incapable of articulating WTF is wrong with themselves.

Take, I don't know, Lena Dunham, who is persecuted by imaginary airline attendants who express reservations about the left's obsession with normalizing aberrant and confused sexual identity. If you ask her WTF is wrong with her, she will not be able to point to something inside, but rather, express alarm at something she has projected into you, you alt-right fascist! In short, you are her unspeakably badword made flesh. No wonder she's alarmed, for there are no safe spaces inside her head.

To be continued...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Face the HalluciNation: Real News, Fake News, & Unreal News

The moment ideology comes before reality, one is living in an unreal world. But this statement constitutes a pleonasm -- word of the day, pleonasm -- being that ideology is by definition prior to reality.

Look at Google, where equivalence of the sexes absolutely trumps science. Truth and reality are no defenses. Guilt arises from failure to conform to the ideology, when the very purpose of the mind is to conform to reality.

Guilt is situated between the Is and the Ought. When we do something we oughtn't do, then the result -- for the properly ordered person -- is guilt. One thing we ought not do is live a lie. But at Google the lie is necessary -- at least if one wishes to continue working there.

What is reality, anyway? While one cannot answer the question without reference to the mind, it is critical that reality be situated anterior to the mind that cognizes it, or else we have descended into the subjectivity of modernism and post-modernism.

Rather, reality comes first, even though -- as alluded to in the previous post -- reality is the sum total of our means of accessing and comprehending it. Put conversely, if we have no access to it then it isn't real for us; and to exist is to participate in intelligibility.

Put it this way: reality is, in the words of Pieper, "the one great object of cognition." And we are its subject. Thus, there is a complementarity between reality and man, which is why science can exist at all.

This is another way of saying that "The worth of man lies in his consciousness of the Absolute" (Schuon), the Absolute constituting total reality, both vertical and horizontal, celestial and terrestrial, heavens above and earth below:

Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or else it is nothing. The Absolute alone confers on our intelligence the power to accomplish to the full what it can accomplish and to be wholly what it is (Schuon).

Please take that literally: the intelligence is either (potentially) everything or it is nothing. This in turn goes to our worth and our dignity. In rendering intelligence worthless, Google robs its employees of dignity.

By the way, never wonder why the left is so lacking in dignity. It follows from the first error. "Safe spaces," trigger warnings, naked rallies, howling mobs, craven college administrators, hysterical students, BLM, transgender madness, fake news, the whole catastrophe. It's all related.

Is Trump as dignified as I would like him to be? No. But in these times, it is sufficient that he provokes the left to new depths of auto-debasement, thus revealing what they are.

To be precise, there is "what they are," and "what they really are," and Trump miraculously exposes the the latter. This is not the face the left wishes to present to the world, but they obviously cannot help themselves. They really are what they really are. Which is true of everyone, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.

Once man loses God then dignity is out the door. One way of emphasizing man's dignity is to remind ourselves that we are made "in the image of God." Big responsibility! This image is inconsistent with a squishy and manbunned Pajama Boy in need of feminism over guilt for his White Privilege. Whattsa matta with you! Act like a man! Besides, women exist for men (and vice versa), not for feminism. It's why we have them.

There is religion and there is magic. If you are not properly religious, then it is likely you will default to implicit or explicit magic. Which is what? Recall above (and from the previous post) that religion involves openness to and conformity with Total Reality. Conversely, magic is the attempt "to make superhuman powers serve human ends" and thus "the antithesis of of a religious act" (Pieper).

Man's ability to know truth at all is a superhuman act, right? If you don't understand this, then think again. It is what we call a Necessary Metaphysical Truth. In this context, ideology is a magical formula -- for example, a formula for rendering men and women equivalent. Being that it has rejected truth at the foundation, it can only operate via power. You can't simultaneously appeal to truth and claim truth is just a narrative conceaing the will to power.

This is what we call the Triumph of the Will. But such a triumph can only be understood ironically. A man can have his privates amputated and pretend he's a woman, but has he really triumphed over reality?

More mundanely, you can increase the minimum wage but can you really make a man more valuable by paying him more than his labor is worth? Or, let's pretend Trump is more dangerous than Kim. Just as everyone in the 1930s knew Churchill was more dangerous than Hitler, and everyone in the 1980s knew Reagan was more dangerous than the USSR.

Reality exists. And we can participate in it, or choose not to. These are the extremes of freedom.

This whole line of thought was provoked by a typically crazy editorial in the NY Times called The Policies of White Resentment. It made me realize that we need a third category for news: there is real news and fake news, but the Times (and most of the left) has descended into frankly unreal news.

"Fake" implies some conscious control, but this has more in common with hallucination. Instead of the Triumph of the Will of ideology, this is more like the Triumph of Mind Parasites. It is a systematic falsification of reality.

Consider the first sentence: White resentment put Donald Trump in the White House. No evidence is needed, because this is a statement of a priori ideology, not an appeal to reality.

Trump "continues to transform that seething, irrational fear about an increasingly diverse America into policies that feed his supporters’ worst racial anxieties." That means you and me. Never mind that we have no "seething, irrational fears" about anything. True, we object to what is called "diversity," which is to say that we object to the left's lack thereof, and its totalitarian attempt to impose its monolithic uniformity upon the rest of us, a la Google.

"The guiding principle in Mr. Trump’s government is to turn the politics of white resentment into the policies of white rage..."

Right. That must be why the left is so enraged and resentful.

"That so many of these policies are based on perception and lies rather than reality is nothing new." That is rich. What a fine example of Power appealing to Truth. It's what Satan does.

"White resentment has long thrived on the fantasy of being under siege and having to fight back," as with "the mass lynchings and destruction of thriving, politically active black communities..." That part is true as far as at goes, but Democrats are no longer lynching anyone, at least physically. Rather, they have more subtle means of racial indoctrination and control.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Loss of God is Just Plain Careless

Lately my reading has gotten so far ahead of my blogging that I'm writing about things from weeks or months ago instead of doing so in Real Time, which is the usual procedure. So I'm going to fast forward to what I'm reading at the moment, an out-of-print book of essays and talks by the esteemed Josef Pieper, called Problems of Modern Faith.

(Although I'm enjoying it, it's probably not worth the price for a used copy, especially if you haven't read other works of his such as The Four Cardinal Virtues, Guide to St. Thomas, the Anthology, etc.)

The reason I want to blog about it NOW is that it's provoking a lot of sparks that may not be recoverable when I return to it. You know how it is: Light from the past isn't the same as Light in the here and now. Sun and stars.

In fact, the book has triggered a lot of aphorisms that I've written to myself in the margins. I've no doubt mentioned a similar sentiment in the past, but it goes like this: Scientism is the religion of the part, while religion is the science of the whole.

I mean that quite literally. Scientism is science expanded to an ideology -- and idolatry -- via a false absolute, while the point of religion is to provide a way to understand and adapt ourselves to ultimate reality.

As we all know, profane science tends to conflate reality with its (properly) narrow method of studying it. This necessarily ends in the quantification of reality, and therefore the negation of qualities.

But qualities are the most important -- and certainly most interesting -- part of reality. In the absence of qualities we would not only be bored to death, but actually dead, being that life itself can't be reduced to numbers.

More gravely, to eliminate qualities is to inter man in a tomb of his own categories. Only man can distinguish good from bad, true from false, appearances from reality, beauty from ugliness, etc. This is why we are here. In other words, what is unique about human beings explains the purpose of human beings. Man's sufficient reason is conformity to reality, both horizontal and vertical.

Another note from mysoph says that Reality is the totality of our means of accessing and comprehending it.

This may sound Kantian, as if I am limiting reality to our categories, but that is not what I mean. Rather, it is a way of saying that reality is much wider, higher, and deeper than what can be accessed by the scientific method only. The beauty of nature, for example, provides real information about reality. More generally, qualities are windows into the Real.

Or put it this way: a decent map of the cosmos will take into account vertical perception. Science involves horizontal perception only. If elevated to a metaphysic it distorts the world beyond re-cognition; it banishes the very categories through which we may perceive and understand reality.

Schuon says something to the effect that the totality of the cosmos demands the unicity of man: the Everything of the World is mirrored in the All of Us. There are expansive visions of reality worthy of man, and pathetically narrow ones that hardly do justice to insects or even liberals.

Here is a pertinent pensée by Pascal: If you are not concerned to know the truth, then you have access to enough truth to to enable you to live in peace. BUT if you long with all your heart to know it, then what you have got is not enough.

Now, a Raccoon is in the latter category: what we have is never enough, even though -- orthoparadoxically -- it is more than enough.

What I mean is that God is the primordial More than Enough, ceaselessly flowing out of himself a la the Trinity. So long as we are oriented to and rooted in this reality... well, it's like Revelation says: the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

As Pieper puts it, we are interested in reality as a whole and in the totality of the world. By any means necessary. We are careful "to ensure that not one single element of reality is concealed, overlooked, forgotten or suppressed -- which could easily happen if the activity of the mind were to be restricted to what can be verified by the methods of exact science."

Atheistic science allows so much reality to evade detection that you might be tempted to believe it is a conspiracy against man. But just as there is a scientific method, there is a psychospiritual or pneumatic method, AKA verticalisthenic. This "critical posture" "implies the determination not to allow any element of the totality of truth to escape us."

Two attitudes are required, an "openness toward the reality of things" (o) and a kind of silence "at a level much more profound than so-called scientific objectivity" (---). This goes to Jesus' allusion to the "singleness of the eye which enables one's whole body to be filled with light."

Here again, the perception of an integrated cosmos is dependent upon a prior integration of the self. A psychotic or neurotic (or ideologically deranged) person perceives a fragmented cosmos because his own mind is fragmented. (Recall Schuon's comment about the relationship between totality and unicity.)

There are "an infinite number of ways in which we can close ourselves off from the world." In the book I used the pneumaticon (o) to symbolize the proper stance. This implies the existence of a counter-stance we might call (ø). Is there such a thing? Only since Genesis 3!

Often it consists of nothing more than "simple inattentiveness." Which implies that the loss of God often comes down to plain carelessness.

It is only too easy... to rest content with what we already know. But he who wishes to behold, and to continue to behold, the totality of things, lives in a perpetual expectation of new light. The truth is the whole, but we never see the whole of anything!

Nevertheless, we never stop trying, for we are open at the top.