Thursday, August 17, 2017

Words Mediate Reality; Journalists Mediate the Narrative

Speaking of words and their meanings, journalists are referred to as "media" because they mediate between two realities; or, between reality and the reader or viewer.

Clearly, no one can be everywhere, see everything, and know everyone. I wouldn't even know of the existence of Donald Trump if not for the media. We can only have direct knowledge of a rather restricted range of persons and events.

So we have journalists to mediate between us and those distant persons and events. We employ these trundling mules or asses to carry messages from here to there. It requires no special skill, just rudimentary honesty and embryonic self-awareness.

In information theory there is the signal and the noise. Inevitably some noise gets into the signal (as in the game "telephone"), and journalists once prided themselves on the minimization or elimination of noise, which is related but not identical to the concept of objectivity.

If too much noise gets into the signal, then it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between the two. Thus, communication requires a stable medium that is resistant to entropy. Money, for example, is supposed to be a stable medium of exchange. If the government prints too much, then the result is inflation, because money loses its exchange value. It can no longer purchase as much stuff.

Yeah, I could have explained all of that better, but I slept late and the coffee hasn't yet turned over my crankshaft. In any event, these thoughts were just now provoked upon reading the following passage by Pieper:

[T]he moment a person sensitive to the use of words deliberately ceases to govern his words with a view to stating the reality of things, he automatically ceases to communicate anything.

In other words, he ceases to be a medium; or, he's still a medium, just not of reality.

There are many reasons why a person would cease mediating reality: there might be passive reasons such as stupidity, ignorance, cultural impoverishment, or tenure. There can be reasons of self-interest, for example, exaggerating or inventing stories in order to advance one's career.

Mental illness can often be a factor, ranging from distorted perception (e.g., paranoia) to, say, narcissism, in which the journalist conflates the importance of what he reports with his own self-importance.

Yeah, that never happens.

Another reason is indoctrination. It might be the most important source of journalistic noise these days, but it is surely blended with ignorance, stupidly, mental illness, narcissism, self-importance, and a self-monitoring groupthink. Add them all together, and we have... the MSM. MSNBC is all of these things, only refreshingly unmasked.

Oh, I forgot another major source of noise. I'm going to have to amend what I just said about indoctrination being the most important.

In fact, this is what really separates me from those other bloggers and commentators, and journalists from reality: without any hesitation whatsoever, I say that the source of this noise is demonic.

Or better, that this noise is evidence of demonic influences, right before our eyes. It's like the wind: we never see it, only its effects. Same with Satan: we never see him, but we surely see his effects. We know him by his fruits, so to speak. Or fruitcakes, in the case of journalists.

Let's take an extreme example, Nazism or Communism. Natural explanations of these phenomena are inevitably banal. You can take a dozen different approaches, from cultural to psychohistorical to economic and more, but they are simply inadequate to explain that level of frenzied and yet systematic sadism. What makes these ideologies so unique is the combination of creativity, which is divine, and violent sadism, which is demonic: creative depravity, or savage creativity.

Something similar is occurring in our civilization. And it's happening very fast, as last year's parody becomes this year's reality. Now they're talking about tearing down Monticello and the Washington Monument. And why not? Principles are principles, and if the principle is that Washington and Jefferson owned slaves and therefore represent unalloyed evil, why on earth would we want to honor them? QED.

But if the left is going to be consistent in applying this principle, several other venerable things will need to go. For example, Thomas Jefferson was the founder of the Democratic party, so this deeply tainted institution needs to be abolished at once. And Jesus has got to go, for he might have been the first to suggest that "all lives matter," thus revealing his racial animus and White Privilege.

Back to Pieper:

For language becomes communication the moment it expresses a link to [mediates] reality, and by the same token it ceases to be communication the moment this link is destroyed.

And it is not as if the mediated-to haven't noticed. What percentage of the public trusts the MSM to mediate reality without coloration? Fifteen percent?

Nevertheless, the incessant pounding of the message gets through; or, not so much the message as the Narrative, for the Narrative is pure noise, something superimposed on the facts before they are even facts.

Indeed, the Narrative is what journalists use in order to see facts at all. Put conversely, something that supports the Narrative is a fact, while something that fails to support it isn't seen at all, and therefore never rises to the level of fact. If you see things outside the Narrative, you're either lying or hallucinating.

Which might be the main reason Trump is so hated by the media, because he challenges the Narrative. Last weekend he did it big time, by equating Antifa and white supremacists.

Of course Trump has it all wrong, in that the far left is far more dangerous to the nation than the KKK, which is totally marginalized and has no political influence whatsoever. Nevertheless, one is not permitted to notice that banal truth, and punishment for doing so is swift and severe. "Even" Republicans aren't on board with it, which highlights the fact that they are no less immersed in the Narrative than Democrats.

In a way, Republicans are even more diabolical than Democrats. It's like a disease. We know the disease is evil. But what if the doctor is also evil, and only pretending to treat you? What I really want to say to these Republican quacks is -- pardon my French: physician fuck thyself.

When one person ceases to speak to another in the artless and spontaneous manner which characterizes genuine conversation, and begins to consciously manipulate his words, expressly ceasing to concern himself with the truth -- when, in other words, his concern is with something other than the truth -- he has, in reality, from that point on ceased to respect the other person as a partner in conversation. He has ceased to respect him as a human person....

[W]hen words lose contact with reality, they become an instrument of power.... (Pieper).

And power without truth might be the essence of the diabolical.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

On the Nature of Ultimate Unreality

About what shall we blog today? There is our 30th anniversary, but I don't know what to say about that. Life before 1987 is just a blur or an embarrassment. Since then it's just a blur.

And now I don't remember much before the birth of our son in 2005, which once again reshuffled the existential cards. I guess I'm just not a nostalgic person. I'm certainly not a sentimental one. We are only given today, and that's it. So many ways of escaping the now! Nor do I think of alternative lives. Mine is what it is, the only variable being how much isness one can pack into the day; or rather, derive from it. The former goes more to Doing, the latter to Being.

Which I believe is the point. At least for me and my kind. Obviously we need doers out there. If they weren't doing their thing(s), then I could never be mine. Warriors and Priests. Hands and heads.

The other night the boy and I were watching television when an ad came on featuring a skydiver. We both agreed that this is something we need never do. I added that I've already got the skydiver doing it, which relieves me of the burden. He even took a video. I'll check it out if I ever need to, but the sensation of falling strikes me as totally superfluous. I've fallen before. I get it.

Not that I am in any way anti-sensation. God forbid! Literally, being that the Incarnation doesn't just involve heart and mind, but body as well.

But sometimes the search for novel and intense sensations is rooted in an inability to notice and appreciate the subtle ones that are going on all the time -- like, say, this cup of coffee. Again, we need adventurers, people like Columbus or Magellan or Neil Armstrong. But I am rather easily stimulated. I AM enough. Earth is more than enough. Going to the moon would only unsettle me.

It is often the case that doers are incapable of being. Or, they can only be in the midst of doing. Nevertheless, being is always (vertically) prior to doing, and always available to us right here, right now.

Churchill writes of how in war, "the uncertainty and importance of the present reduce the past and future to comparative insignificance, and clear the mind of minor worries."

No doubt true. But what about spiritual warfare? There is an obvious parallel, in that the latter too can only take place in the present, and Jesus calls it the "greatest commandment" that we should love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength. Of course that's not possible, but what does impossibility have to do with it? That's none of our business.

Abruptly -- or maybe not -- shifting gears, I've begun reading a compendium of The Wisdom of St. Thomas, put together by Josef Pieper. It basically consists of his Bottom Line Takes, stripped of all the scrupulous scholastic argumentation.

All that argumentation is not necessarily necessary to get to God. Certainly it is never sufficient. Rather, to paraphrase Schuon, such arguments are points of reference to satisfy the needs of the intellect, but in the end, there is a direct seeing that cannot be reduced to argument -- just as no eye witness needs to first prove the existence of sight. No, seeing is enough. Direct perception trumps any rationalism. No merely finite statement can contain -- i.e., is adequate to -- the infinite.

However, a finite statement can... how to put it... "transmit" the infinite. So long as the transmission occurs, then argument per se becomes unnecessary. Rules of the intellect can never take the place of depth of intelligence.

Analogously, everyone uses the same rules of music. Yet some compositions are infinitely more deep than others. And not even compositions; sometimes just the raw musical expression.

The best vision in the world can never "see everything." And yet, seeing only what we can see is sufficient to posit a "universe" we will never see, that is, the totality of interacting objects and events. No one needs to see the entire cosmos to know we are in one.

Likewise the intellect: no one needs to know everything in order for everything to be known! In this regard, a few principles go a long way -- all the way up to God, or O, if you prefer a less saturated placeholder for Absoluteness. As Schuon says, "nothing is ever rejected without being replaced by something else." Reject the Absolute at one end, and it will just haunt or beguile you at the other. You gotta serve somebody. Might as well be someOne worthy of service.

The intellect can ascend all the way to God, but in so doing (at least in the moment) extinguishes itself -- just as, say, the idea of a tree is eclipsed in seeing one (even though the idea is necessary in order to see it). Conversely, language descends from God, such that we can communicate the vision, but never in its totality. "Logic is perfectly consistent only when surpassing itself" (Schuon). Go Gödel Go!

This is something I realized in the spring of 1985, long before I understood the religious consequences. I've written before of how my discovery of the obscure psychoanalyst W.R. Bion Blew My Mind. Through him I understood that a good psychological theory must express an unsaturated general truth that can also be "realized" in the particular individual.

The same challenge is involved in realizing the eternal in time, the infinite in space, or God in flesh. Experience must be expressed in dogma, but can never be reduced to it, for the symbol can be no substitute for that which it symbolizes. Fortunately we don't have to choose between the two, for God has conveniently provided a cosmic bridge woo hoo.

Such proofs of God as furnished by Aquinas can never be disproved, but this is still not the same as the experience of that to which they point (and from which they descend). "[A] proof is of assistance only to the man who wishes to understand and who, because of this wish, has in some measure understood already."

The man who wishes not to understand can easily deny the proof, for rationalization has no trouble defying reason. The arguments are "of no practical use to one who, deep in his heart, does not want to change his opinion and whose philosophy merely expresses this desire" (Schuon).

As such, atheism is rooted in desire and in will, not in reality. More to the point, the function of faith is to remain an open system on the vertical plane. The only possible ground for knowledge of God's non-existence is God himself.

Here is Pieper's first nugget of Thomas: The least insight that one can obtain into sublime things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge of lower things.

Boom. I don't need all the detailed intellectual scaffolding to support that belief. Rather, I see (by) its Light directly.

Here is one on the ultimate pattern of our cosmic adventure. Again, I see the same thing Aquinas sees with my own three eyes, so no one needs to prove it to me:

The complete perfection of the universe demands that there should be created natures which return to God, not only according to the likeness of their being, but also through their actions.

That explains how it is that we're all swimming in this spiraling vortex lured by God, AKA the Great Attractor.

Another nugget that summa-rises the Way of the Raccoon:

Intellect is the first author and mover of the universe.... Hence the last end of the universe must necessarily be the good of the intellect. Hence truth must be the last end of the whole universe.

Nevertheless, there exist human beings who are Of, By, and For the Lie. Put it this way: it is always possible to reject O, as per Genesis 3. But the denied reality merely returns as Ø, which is a theme of so much of the Old Testament, i.e., the reversion to worshipping false gods, which is to say, conforming oneself to an ultimate reality that is ultimately unreal. The left-hand path will always be with us.

Monday, August 14, 2017

I Unreservedly Condemn All Violence Toward Language

So, President Trump is being criticized by both opportunistic Democrats and craven Republicans (but I repeat myself) for condemning political violence. Here is a vivid example of what was said in the previous post about the abuse of language. In this case, the President is being criticized for failure to abuse language in the customary way.

The customary way involves seeing all political violence as emanating from "the right," which represents an inversion of the reality. Violence is intrinsic to leftism, being that leftism is inconceivable in the absence of force (of the state over the individual).

And if we recognize that fascism is a movement of the left, then we see that Saturday's violence was a small-scale version of communism vs. Nazism. These are revolutionary movements that have nothing whatsoever to do with classical liberal conservatism. Obviously, neither one is grounded in first principles of liberty, natural rights, and limited government. In reality, conservatism is situated neither to the right nor left of these twin barbarisms, but vertically above.

(To be clear, I don't know whether the victims were actually Antifa activists, only that the counter-demonstration was organized by Antifa cretins spoiling for a fight.)

As we know, because the communists defeated the Nazis in WW2, they successfully defined themselves as being anti-fascist, and the left has been dining on this lie ever since. Communism was (and still is) the original Antifa movement.

But because of the language-abusing Narrative of the left, condemning Antifa violence is equated with being ProFa or even Na! For reasons that are impervious to reason, a Nazi sympathizer mowing down Antifa protesters is different from an Antifa activist attempting to assassinate Representative Steve Scalise.

Diabolically clever. It is to be expected that the robotic simpletons of the left will propagate and honor the Lie, but just nauseating when Republicans do.

Let's get down to basics: man's original crime against Being is rooted in language abuse. The "vector of reality," so to speak, flows in the direction of God --> Being --> Truth --> Language.

Likewise, the way back to God flows in the opposite direction, beginning in Truth (or true speech) -- the same Truth that sets one free. Which is a little misleading, being that freedom is required in order to seek truth. Therefore, we might equally say that freedom sets one upon (the path of) Truth, AKA the cosmic adventure. Our God is a God of Freedom and of Truth, which are two sides of the same primordial reality.

There is indeed a sacred covenant between language and Being, which is a reflection of the bond (of love!) between God and Word. Again, whatever else Genesis 3 is about, it is about severing this link, which necessarily redounds to a kind of expulsion from reality.

Obviously, the Incarnation represents the restoration of this bond in the most heightened way imaginable. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Suffice it to say that the Crucifixion of the Word is still taking place. And always will be, at least on this plane. It very much defines what goes on down here, doesn't it? Which is why the cosmic adventure is a continuous struggle toward Truth. It wouldn't be a struggle if there weren't counter-forces at play.

Pieper writes of the "consummate mendacity" that "must inevitably result in the atrophy of communication between human beings."

Here again, to attack or deny the vertical link between man and God is to abolish the horizontal link between man and man. Do you not see why? Truth is ultimately grounded in love; or at least inextricably intertwined with it. We might say that Truth is the Love of the Intellect, just as Love is the Truth of the Heart.

Instead, as prophesied by Aldous Huxley, we are plunged into "a vast mass communications industry" that is concerned "neither with the true or false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant" (in Pieper). This is the Unreal News alluded to in the title of the previous post. It is anti-Christic right down to the ground. Man builds and inhabits his own verbal prison while holding the keys in his hand. Madness!

If I am to make the right decision (regardless of what the decision may involve), I must be guided by the truth of things themselves, by the facts, by what is really the case. In other words, the realization of the good presupposes knowledge of reality.... An act is good if it conforms to the nature of things.

The nature of things. It cannot be sufficiently emphasized that for the left there is no such nature. This is indeed what separates liberal conservatism from the tyranny of the contemporary left. It ultimately comes down to whether essence precedes existence or vice versa. For the left it is the latter, which is why, for example, a man can be a woman or homosexuals can marry. For the left man defines reality. For us, reality defines man.

That was Marx's great original insight -- which has given unsight to purblind leftists ever since. Movements of the left always involve liberation. But can man be liberated from his own nature, and supposing he can, is it not misleading to equate this with freedom? Yes, I am free not to be myself. But if I manage to escape from myself, isn't that the last word in being lost and alienated?

Speech which emancipates itself from the norm of (real) things, at the same time necessarily becomes speech without a partner.

The Cosmic Divorce.

What is meant by the 'emancipation from the norm of (real) things?' What is meant, essentially, is indifference toward the truth. After all, truth implies a link to reality.

Which is why, beneath it all, leftism must devolve to violent nihilism. For the problem isn't just that Language and Truth are divorced, leaving us cosmic orphans. Rather, Language is remarried to Power, such that we come under the authority of a violent stepfather.

Once the word, as it is employed by the communications media, has, as a matter of principle, been rendered neutral to the norm of truth, it is, by its very nature, a ready-made tool just waiting to be picked up by 'the powers that be' and 'employed' for violent or despotic ends.... [T]he greater the inroads this 'neutralized' word makes on our lives, the more the word itself creates an atmosphere of epidemic susceptibility to the disease of despotism....

What all "forms of propaganda have in common is the degeneration of language into an instrument of force." This highlights the implicit "link between the degeneration of political authority and the sophistical corruption of the word," such that "the abuse of language by the communications media could actually be diagnosed as a symptom of the despotism to come, while the virus is still in its latent stages."

Latent in 1964, when that was written, but a florid infection today.

First the word loses its dignity; then man. Which is why "the fate of society and the fate of the word are inseparable. A relationship founded upon violence... corresponds to the most pernicious destruction of the link to things as they are: the public loss of the ability to know reality."

So yes, Nazi sympathizers and Antifa thugs are both violent. But first to the Word. Gravity takes care of the rest.

(All quoted material in Pieper.)