Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Thought, Meta-Thought, Non-Thought, Anti-Thought

It is difficult to conceptualize the differences between thinking and its competitors, because if one hasn't thought about thinking (metathought or thought² for short), genuine thinking may appear similar, if not identical, to non- and anti-thinking.

Anti-thought is not non-thought, the latter of which is just stupidity. MSNBC is anti-thought. Local TV news is non-thought (although permeated by anti-thought when it presumes to think about anything of substance; in general, journalism is an eddy of anti-thought in an ocean of non-thought).

No Thought is another matter entirely, with mystical and apophatic implications. I'm not sure if we'll be touching on it, since I haven't read this post in over seven years, if ever.

Anti-thought is an active perversion of thinking, and often exhibits a great deal of intelligence. It is a type of thinking that is detached from its proper object, -- or end -- which is reality in all its inexhaustible richness and depth (AKA being).

In normal times, anti-thought would be arrested and interrogated by philosophy. In abnormal times it might be healed or at least mitigated by psychology. But now psychology itself has careened into anti-thought; or, more accurately, anti-thought has infiltrated and corralled psychology into its dark principality (and let's not even talk about philosophy, except to say the greater the height the farther the fall).

I first began thinking about thinking exactly 34 years ago (?!), in the spring of 1985. And now that I'm in this gnostalgic mood, I just pulled a book from the shelf, Second Thoughts, by W.R. Bion (not recommended to the laity). The title is a play on words, because it is Bion thinking about his own thinking, providing "second thoughts" about various papers he had written over the preceding fifteen years or so. The book first presents the paper, followed by his second thoughts and re-servations. (Ironically, this is exactly what I am doing at the moment: having second thoughts about this post written seven years back.)

I see that one of the papers is called A Theory of Thinking. His first thoughts begin with the idea that his theory covers the same ground as various philosophical theories, with one difference: his theory is intended for use (i.e., clinical work leading to growth), analogous to the difference between, say, abstract theories of meteorology vs. whether you should to take an umbrella to work today.

For Bion, thinking is "dependent on the successful outcome of two main mental developments." The first of these is "the development of thoughts." That pretty much happens automatically, unless one is in a coma. The second involves the development of "an apparatus to cope with them." Thus, "thinking has to be called into existence to cope with thoughts."

Davila: Educating the individual consists in teaching him to distrust the ideas that occur to him.

This theory reverses the usual way we think about thinking -- as if thinking produces the thought. But for you thinkers out there, you know that thoughts just come to you unbidden, and that you couldn't create one via thinking any more than you could create life in a test tube or Obama could create wealth in any context.

Thus, "thinking is a development forced on the psyche by the pressure of thoughts and not the other way around." Psychopathology may occur at either end, with the creation of new thoughts or with the management of existing ones; in other words, there may be "a breakdown in the development of thoughts, or a breakdown in the development of the apparatus for 'thinking' or dealing with thoughts, or both."

Now, thoughts aren't necessarily of the same order. Rather, they arise on various planes of consciousness which we call "vertical." We can have empirical thoughts, sensory thoughts, spiritual thoughts, emotional thoughts, aesthetic thoughts, etc.

Some of our thoughts are quite primitive, and we clearly do not have control over them, as they are essentially "pre-human." Men, for example, beginning at a certain age, are bombarded by sexual thoughts. It's as if a primitive part of the psyche is unleashed, and now the mind has to develop a way to cope with these thoughts. Much of Arab culture revolves around the wrong way to do it. But increasingly, the modern left provides a cornucrapia of bad and infertile ways to think about sexuality.

There are also "empty thoughts," which is to say, categories of thought awaiting "realization." These consist of a kind of blueprint (or clueprint) awaiting fulfillment via experience. Jung called them "archetypes," but you could also just call them "human nature."

As Bion describes it, "when the pre-conception is brought into contact with a realization that approximates to it, the mental outcome is a conception." Thus, it is as if there is an implicit or nonlocal thought that only becomes explicit and local through experience -- somewhat analogous to the wave/particle complementarity in physics, where observation pulls the latter from the former. (Or, in Aristotelian terms, you would call it potency and act.)

Some thoughts are "unwanted," which means that emotion has clouded the picture. In other words, what happens if we have a true thought that we nevertheless don't want? The mind has a number of mechanisms to deal with this exigency, just as the body has ways to deal with unwanted invaders.

But just as the body can mistakenly attack itself -- what are called autoimmune disorders -- the mind too can mistakenly attack its own substance. For example, if man is in the image of the Creator, then any form of vulgar anti-theism would represent a psychic autoimmune disorder (with predictable consequences).

There are several mechanisms to avoid thinking unwanted thoughts, ranging from the primitive to the more sophisticated. The most primitive include denial, splitting, and projection, which, working in concert, displace the unwanted thought (or thought fragment) into the environment (which becomes "psychicized"), or into other minds. This doesn't actually eliminate the thought, but it is preferable for such a person to feel persecuted from outside than inside the head.

Some important implications follow this psychic expulsion of thoughts, touching on what was said yesterday about the will to power replacing the search for truth. On some level, the person who manages thought in this pathological way must feel superior to reality: instead of discriminating between true and false, "omniscience substitutes... a dictatorial affirmation that one thing is morally right and the other wrong."

Bion has just described the mechanism of political correctness, which again forbids certain avenues of thought through moral condemnation. And in the last decade or so, we have seen how nearly everything the left says is permeated with the projection of its own ideas, impulses, and emotions. When the racist anti-semite Ilhan Omar calls Trump a racist, and the left rallies being her, you know that their psycho-political world is upside-down and inside-out.

Let's flip ahead and find out what sorts of second thoughts Bion had about this preliminary sketch.

Hmm. Not too many, really. Or rather, too many: "the ramifications... are so considerable that I require another book to attempt elucidation."

Along these lines, he warns of how the thinker might seize onto a "sense of security" in order "to offset and neutralize the sense of insecurity following on the discovery that discovery has exposed further vistas of unsolved problems -- 'thoughts' in search of a thinker."

In other words, reality never stops speaking just because we have stopped listening, or because we have some little theory (or reality tunnel) to make the mystery go away and stop bothering us. A theory of thinking is not the same as the unending project of thinking.

Which leads right back to Voegelin's Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, because this is precisely what the gnostic has done: stopped listening to reality. Consider this little gem from Karl Marx's crocktoral dissertation:

"The confession of Prometheus, 'In a word, I hate all the gods,' is its own confession, its own verdict against all gods heavenly and earthly who do not acknowledge human self-consciousness as the supreme deity. There shall be none beside it" (in Voegelin).

Later in the book Voegelin outlines what might be thought of as the cure for such gnostic omnipotence: "Thus, 'actual knowledge' is reserved to God; finite man can only be the 'lover of knowledge,' not himself the one who knows.... If a thinker attempts it, he is not advancing philosophy, but abandoning it to become a gnostic."

In short, for the gnostic, "In the clash between system and reality, reality must give way."

Or, anti-thought must triumph over thought.

Friday, July 12, 2019

There is No Truth, and The Left Possesses It

A note to the reader: you will recall that I more or less ceased blogging last fall in order to take a peek at the 3,500 posts in the archive, with the idea of extracting the good bits and stringing them together into a book. I put the bits into files labeled by year, while awaiting the descent of the Organizing Principle that would pull them all together into a clear, concise, coherent, and pleasing narrative about Everything and How it Got that Way.

We're still waiting.

Meanwhile, 2012 proved to be a turning point, in the sense that that is when I begin to sound more like my current self. If the cosmos is, as I believe it to be, pneumatically teleological, then my 2012 self should be more evolved than my 2005 self, and that is indeed how it's looking. Whereas prior to 2012 the inspiration in the posts is discontinuous, I'm finding it to be more continuous thereafter.

But this introduces a new problem, because instead of just extracting the good bits from posts, I'm finding that the posts are compelling (at least to me) in their entirety. Which is why I've taken to reposting these old posts.

However, I'm not just reposting them verbatim, but interacting with them, so to speak. A good post should produce sparks in the head, and these sparks can set of conflagrations of their own. So be assured that these reposts aren't just a product of my exquisitely cultivated sense of laziness, but are revised, edited, and fortified with new material. I also make every effort to remove the gags that don't hold up, are unnecessarily obscure, or just plain irritating.


Sometimes I wonder how many of those who like to call themselves "progressive" are consciously aware of its mythico-scientistic roots. Then I remember that none of them do, or they wouldn't be progressives. That's certainly how it worked in my case: I discovered that I was in error, and made the appropriate adjustments to my worldview.

Why is this so difficult? Good question! Perhaps we'll return to it as we proceed.

Voegelin characterizes Marx as a "speculative gnostic" who grounded his politico-economic framework in an evolutionary vision of nature. In this scheme, all of nature is "in the state of becoming, and in the course of its development it has brought forth man: 'Man is directly a being of nature.'"

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea that nature is developing, except that this can have nothing to do with Darwinian evolution, which describes only change, not progress. More to the point, Marx re-buries man in nature, so that what is actually distinct in man, and belongs to his trans-nature, is annihilated. Man evolves out of mere nature only to devolve and plunge back into it. D'oh!

Here we see how the work of millennia can be undone in a single generation. Literally! Questions that had been entirely settled -- for example, the centrality of natural rights such as free speech, the constitutional irrelevance of race, the felicitous distinction between the sexes, etc. -- are once again up for debate. This isn't progress; rather, its precise opposite.

Thus, "When 'socialist man' speaks, man has to be silent," which is a rather polite way of putting it, being that it often equates to destroying the man who refuses to be silent. In any event, it is why the left would like for us to shut up, why they impose speech codes, why political correctness abounds, and why they hate God and religion. This is described in the last paragraph of the previous post, in reference to those special assouls who know exactly why

"their opinions cannot stand up under critical analysis and who therefore make the prohibition of the examination of their premises part of their dogma. This position of a conscious, deliberate, and painstakingly elaborated obstruction of ratio constitutes the new phenomenon" (Voegelin).

So if you want to talk about progress, this systematic assault on truth is indeed something new under the sun. Yes, the impulse has always been present -- see Genesis 3 for details -- but the modern statist systematization of it is new. You might say that progressivism is nothing less than the institutionalization of original sin, whereby the fall is normalized instead of resisted and reversed via metanoia and grace.

But it's not just the children of Marx who have progressed in this deviant manner, for truth is also forbidden by the dictates of Positivist Man. This humanoid beastling can also be called Scientistic Man, Atheist Man, or Darwinist Man, for each of these, in his own way, pretends that materialism not only accounts for man but exhausts the meaning of the human phenomenon. Which is only the most phenomenal fact in all of existence.

Now, a minimal acquaintance with philosophy is sufficient to establish the plausibility of a Marx, a Darwin, a Dawkins. Thus, one needs a little more than the minimum to debunk them, which I suppose is why philosophy isn't taught in public schools, in favor of multicultural mush and relativistic rubbish. As they say, a little philosophy inclines one to atheism. More than a little, and you inevitably find yourself being pulled into the Divine Attractor.

To perfectly accurate, it's not that philosophy isn't taught, but that it is conveyed via implicit assumptions that are buried elsewhere and never spoken of explicitly. For example, in science it is considered plain rude to speak of teleology, even though science is incoherent without it.

This metaphysical incoherence has provoked a backlash of "creationists" in certain quarters, but the real problem is metaphysical, not scientific or theological. You don't need intelligent design to prove the existence of God, or vice versa.

Ultimately, the only proof of God is God. Clearly, God is necessary being. We, on the other hand, are optional. We are contingent. Now, the only way a contingent being can even know of necessity is if it shares a portion of that necessity. Which is what it means to be in the image of the Creator. This is why we may know truth, and why we have the freedom to discover it. Truth is necessary to free will (otherwise freedom is arbitrary), as freedom is necessary to the discovery of truth.

Wherever there is leftism, there is the suppression of certain questions and avenues of thought. As we have discussed in the past, just as a neurosis may be thought of as a "private culture," a culture may be thought of as a public neurosis. Now, a neurosis always involves the suppression of an unwanted truth.

Just so, the neurotic culture of the left has many defense mechanisms in place, so that alarms go off as soon as anyone approaches a dangerous truth. Examples are too numerous to chronicle, but just think of how promiscuous charges of RACISM! are deployed to bar the free exercise of thought. Which is why it is so delicious to see world class race-baiters such as Biden and Pelosi having this mechanism unleashed upon themselves.

Voegelin describes the deeper structure of this process. It begins with "a thinker who knows that his construct will collapse as soon as the basic philosophical question is asked." The intellectually and spiritually normal person recognizes this and abandons the construct. Not so the leftist, who merely prohibits the question.

But why? What has happened to the person who is no longer animated by the passionate desire for truth, and yet -- without irony -- imposes a single desiccated version of it: There is No Truth, and I Am Its Prophet.

Voegelin called it an "intellectual swindle," which is an excellent way of putting it. For to exchange truth for ideology isn't just a bad deal, it's suicidal. Which wouldn't necessarily be so bad if it weren't also homicidal.

But again, why? Man has an innate epistemophilia, so what has happened to this transnatural instinct in the ideologue?

As we have discussed before, man is composed of intellect, will, and sentiment, which are ordered to truth, goodness, and beauty, respectively. To deny truth is to maim the intellect at its root. But that doesn't kill the body. Rather, it seems that the will to power rushes in to fill the vacuum. This perverse will

"has a violence and cruelty that go beyond the delight in masquerade and in the deception of others." It also "turns on the thinker himself and unmasks his thought as a cunning will to power."

Let's take another example from just last week, when President Obama decided to stop pretending he doesn't support the redefinition of marriage. It is a matter of public record that certain wealthy donors were threatening to withhold funds if he didn't openly embrace their agenda of sexual nihilism.

For Newsweek to then proclaim Obama the "first gay president" is completely absurd, in light of the fact that he is just another statist with a transparently cunning will to power.

To believe otherwise one must want to believe otherwise, which is itself another instance of the will-to-power genre, except that it doesn't accrue to the power of the rank-and-foul self-deluder, only to the powerful. In reality it is but a "graceless disorder of the soul" rooted in a "demonic mendacity" (ibid).

Again, man is intellect-will-sentiment. But if truth is denied, then the truth of man is that he is reduced to will-sentiment, or desire and force. And that is the essence of the left: I want what I want, and you are obligated to provide it.

(All Voegelin quotes are from Science, Politics, & Gnosticism.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Secondary Realities and Metastatic Hope

A secondary reality, according to Voegelin, is a kind of microcosmos or dreamworld that reflects a universal possibility in man. Always and forever, man is faced with a choice: reality or fantasy, which is to say, truth or desire. (I trace this all the way down and back to Genesis 3, which is indeed its deeper lesson: that man prefers to create and inhabit his own world over the one created for him.)

Modern political gnosticism -- like its premodern religious variants -- is an expression of "the horror of existence and a desire to escape from it." You will have noticed that for leftists from Marx to AOC, the dream world blends into the real world, such that "the dreamers adopt the vocabularies of reality, while changing its meaning, as if the dream were reality" (Voegelin).

If you've been paying attention to the Democrat clown show, what you see is a magical effort to transform the dream into reality and reality into dream. These two processes necessarily co-arise once immanence and transcendence are conflated and confused. Realms that must be distinguished in order to properly think about existence are promiscuously blended. Thus, "in the Gnostic dream world,"

nonrecognition of reality is the first principle. As a consequence, types of action which in the real world would be considered morally insane because of the real effects which they will have will be considered moral in the dream world because they intended an entirely different effect.

Then -- just watch! -- the inevitable gap "between intended and real effect" is blamed not on the Gnostic's failure to appreciate reality (including the reality of human nature), but on "the immorality of some other person or society that does not behave as it should behave according to the dream conception of cause and effect. The interpretation of moral insanity as morality... is a confusion difficult to unravel."

To put it mildly. Consider poor Joe Biden, who has been doggedly asleep in the liberal dream for some fifty years. But the dream has moved on -- which is to say, metastasized -- so rapidly that he simply can't keep up: busing is good, borders are bad, gender is whatever we want it to be. Frankly, when the first principle is nonrecognition of reality, there's nothing to grasp onto, not even straws, because there is no solid ground to thought:

The identification of dream and reality as a matter of principle has practical results which appear strange but can hardly be considered surprising. The critical exploration of cause and effect in history is prohibited; and consequently the rational coordination of means and ends in politics is impossible.

"Dangers" are recognized -- they cannot not be recognized -- except "such dangers will not be met by appropriate actions in the world of reality. They will rather be met by magic operations in the dream world, such as moral condemnation, declarations of intention, resolutions, appeals to the opinion of mankind, branding of enemies as aggressors," etc.

In short, irrespective of what happens in the real world -- say, for example, a flourishing economy -- Orange Man Bad! And if you are delighted by the record low unemployment of People of Color? White supremacist!

A deeper point, I think, is the jettisoning of our western tradition, which can only result in the eradication of civilization. I mean this literally, for the first step of civilization must be the vertical distinction between transcendence and immanence, which must be maintained in order for order to persist. (The creation story of Genesis is all about ordering primordial chaos by drawing and maintaining vertical and horizontal distinctions between God and man, light and dark, good and evil, man and woman, adult and child, life and death, etc.)

But it doesn't end there. Rather, you might say that the whole arc of salvation -- which is nothing less than the story of the West -- is the elaboration of the transcendent, ending, for the Christian, in Christ and his Church.

However, that "end" is only another (and endless) beginning, as it fertilizes and transforms the immanent. But the Gnostic has no patience for the time this takes (or just say Time, which is qualitative and organic, not mere quantitative duration). Rather, he wants his heaven here and now. He is too sophisticated to believe in God, but not sophisticated enough to distinguish God from man, the celestial from the terrestrial. Terrible consequences follow, every time. In short, this is where the dream turns to nightmare

Hope itself isn't the problem, properly understood. After all, it is a theological virtue. I have here a handy little book called The One-Minute Philosopher, which distinguishes between Hope and Wish.

The former "involves the conviction that, despite appearances to the contrary, truth and goodness will prevail." Thus, it isn't at all easy to maintain hope in the teeth of this depraved world, which is precisely why it is a virtue.

Please note that this is not the magical hope of Gnostic dreamers and ideologues. Any tenured yahoo can imagine a better world, but that isn't what we're talking about.

Rather, we're talking about accepting (and even loving) the world for what it is, and committing ourselves to its betterment. If we do not accept the world for what it is -- and human beings for what they are -- then our hopes will be completely misplaced. They will be reduced to wishes, and wishes to ashes.

For what is a wish? It "involves the fancy that, despite appearances to the contrary, our desire will be satisfied. To wish is to invoke fortune to bring us what we want, even when what we want is not good" (Brown).

Consider some of the implications drawn out by Brown: "hope is creative," but "wish is imaginative." While "I can wish for anything, I hope only for what is possible. My hope looks to the future, but is rooted in reality as it is."

And importantly, "what we hope for, we are also willing to work for." Conversely, a wish "has no particular bond with reality as it is, but feeds on fantasy.... Wishing is like dreaming: it is not confined to reality as it is, nor is there any good reason to believe that my wish will come true.... [U]nlike when we hope for something, we are not necessarily willing to work for it. We wish for all sorts of unattainable and frivolous things" (ibid.).

The left wishes socialized medicine would work, that college were free, that borders didn't exist, that members of the same sex could exist in a state of matrimony, that racial discrimination could end racial discrimination, that human fetuses weren't human, that women weren't women, that men weren't men... the wishlist is endless because desire and imagination are infinite.

But none of these things can be. We can try to force them to be, but the system will crack under the pressure of the denied reality. You could even say that politics -- which deals with the finite -- becomes cancerous when forced to conform to infinitude.

Why, for example, have our Supreme Court hearings become so malignant? Largely due to the twisted pettifoggery of Roe v. Wade. The left wants us to bow before this grotesque example of judicial wishery, so that only those who reject reality -- the reality of the human person -- are acceptable to liberals. This is bound to create tension, a tension that forces infinitude (the human soul) to be finite and finitude (a "woman's right to choose") to be infinite.

The marketplace of ideas is supposed to be a struggle of truth against truth, or, more accurately, a struggle for or toward truth. But what if it becomes a struggle for and against truth? For Voegelin, that is precisely what the political struggle involves, because it is the same struggle that is "waged on every level of human existence."

For example, it is axiomatic in psychology that pathology results from one part of the mind being at war with another. An unwanted truth is denied, repressed, or projected, and the psychic lacunae -- AKA the hole in your soul -- is unconsciously filled with the wish, the desire, the preferred state of reality.

Likewise, we enter dangerous pneumapolitcal waters when confronted "with persons who know that, and why, their opinions cannot stand up under critical analysis and who therefore make the prohibition of the examination of their premises part of their dogma." The result is "a conscious, deliberate, and painstakingly elaborated obstruction of ratio..." (Voegelin), or what we call logocide.

Yes, the cognitive tyranny of political correctness. I wish it weren't so, but for the left, it is what it isn't.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Anti-Antifa, Cosmic Jihad, and the City of God

A double oldie, i.e., a repost of a repost, albeit updated, revised, and enriched with all new vertamins:

Since new readers will never catch up with the Arkive -- I realize that 2,000 posts is a major commitment to a mere blogger -- it can't hurt to whip out an old one every nowandagain. Besides, even if you're a venerable O'timer, something like 1,200 posts have passed under the bridge since we started, and maybe you missed this one. Let us also recall the evergreen words of our venerable Schuon:

Everything has already been said, and well said; but one must always recall it anew, and in recalling it one must do what has already been done: to actualize in thought certitudes contained, not in the thinking ego, but in the transpersonal substance of human intelligence.

I'm still making my way through and up the 1,100 page Spiritual Ascent, a "compendium of the world's wisdom" organized into three main sections that mirror the universal stages of purification, illumination, and union, but with dozens of subsectional byways along climb.

You could say the book is fractally organized, in that each section is a part of the whole, even while the whole is in each part. Likewise, every day of our lives is a microcosm of the lifelong spiritual adventure, i.e., an ongoing process of purification, illumination, and union, at least if we are consciously aware of this onetime uppertunity to ride our wrungs on Jacob's ladder.

Like the cosmos itself, the book gets off to a very promising start, with chapters on divine creation, the process of manifestation, man's primordial birthright, and similar felicitous topics.

I suppose this is only fitting, being that the Creator's main excuse for the creation was that "it seemed like a good idea at the time," i.e., "God saw everything he had made, and indeed it was very good." But you know what they say about how the beast waylaid the plans of lousy men. Very soon the karmic wheels fall off the creation, ironically due to its only wideawake members, homo sleepyones.

This reminds us of Finnegans Wake, which begins innocently enough with a sentence about Adam & Eve ("riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay"), but by the third paragraph is in fullfall ("the fall of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all Christian minstrelsy"), and by the guilt-stained fourth paragraph is ringing in the full scale war of each against all ("arms apeal with larms, appalling. Killykillykilly: a toll, a toll").

Similarly, The Spiritual Ascent hits a bit of a rough patch with the chapters on illusion, sin, suffering, sacrifice, damnation, hell, and the like. D'oh!

Nevertheless, these sections do emphasize the existential stakes involved, as well as the unavoidable fact that "purification" is somewhat analogous to the manner in which a diamond is made. Just take a lump of coal, put it through unimaginable fire and pressure in the middle of the earth, then chip and chisel away what is impure and unnecessary, and you've got a luminous little gem fit for eternity.

What a bi-cosmic coincidence that the name diamond derives from the ancient Greek adamas and that most of them, like alluvus, originate from Africa. Reminds me of the Johnny Cash song (written by Billy Joe Shaver):

I'm just an old chunk of coal / But I'm gonna be a diamond some day.... / I'm gonna spit and polish my old rough-edged self / 'Til I get rid of every single flaw / I'm gonna be the world's best friend

I just finished a couple of fascinating sections, Pilgrimage -- Descent Into Hell and Holy War. The section on Holy War is particularly interesting, as it emphasizes that jihad isn't just for jihidiots. Rather, there is Jewhad, Buhad, and Crusad, in both the interior and exterior senses, as well as above and below. Quite simply, war isn't just inevitable but necessary, with roots extending deep into the very structure of the cosmos.

Conversely, it is pacifism that isn't only unnecessary but highly narcissary to boot; sanctimonious pacifists are usually just people unaware (or at least pretending to be) of their viciousness and cruelty, as with most prominent leftists who are always passive-aggressive when they aren't being actively aggressive.

Pacifism is essentially a surrender -- not just in war, but in the struggle of existence itself. For as written in Exodus, The Lord is a man of war; or in the words of Jesus: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword; or in the words of Krishna: Nothing is higher for a [member of the warrior caste] than a righteous war.

In his introduction to the subject of Holy War, Perry cites Guenon, who wrote that the essential reason for war -- legitimate war -- is

to end a dis-order and re-establish order; in other words, it is the unification of a multiplicity, by use of means which belong to the world of multiplicity itself.... War understood in this way, and not limited in an exclusively human sense, thus represents the cosmic process of the reintegration of the manifested into the principial unity.

This reintegration necessarily involves destruction, as catabolism is to metabolism.

Guenon continues:

The purpose of war is the establishment of peace, for even in its most ordinary sense peace is really nothing else than order, equilibrium, or harmony, these three terms being nearly synonymous and all designating under slightly different aspects the reflection of unity in multiplicity itself.... Multiplicity is then in fact not really destroyed, but 'transformed'...

In another sense, legitimate war is none other than justice, being that justice is really an "equilibrating function" which is "directed against those who disturb order and [has] as its object the restoration of order." The reason we catch and punish bad guys is ultimately to restore order -- to the community, to the wronged individual, within the disordered psyche of the perpetrator, and ultimately to the Cosmos itself.

Compare interior warfare to the Black Liberation Theology which so attracted the weak-souled Obama: "Many have been asking what Liberation Theology is all about. Well, it is not very complicated! It is the simple belief that in the struggles of poor and oppressed people against their powerful and rich oppressors, God sides with the oppressed against the oppressors."

Thus, it precisely inverts the true meaning of holy war, in that it imagines God sides only with "the poor" instead of the righteous, or that he is angry at the wealthy instead of the evil (we should say that the righteous, to the precise extent that they are righteous, side with God).

The "great holy war" is the struggle of man "against the enemies he carries within himself, that is to say, against all those elements in him which are contrary to order and unity" (and dynamic unity is not unicity, the latter being top-down coercion and conformity).

Consider this astounding claim by The New Republic:

Liberals are notoriously loath to take their own side in a fight. But their reticence may well be changing in an age of vigilante, white nationalist terror -- openly condoned and supported by an incumbent president who has suggested that his armed devotees won’t stand for his removal from office. Increasingly, the antifa left is arguing -- and training -- in response. They are worried not only about an armed reckoning following a contested election, but also about rising violence from the paramilitaries loyal to President Donald Trump.

It is so lacking in self-awareness on so many levels, that one scarcely knows where to begin. Put it this way:

The German people are notoriously loath to take their own side in a fight. But their reticence may well be changing in an age of vigilante Bolshevist and capitalist terror -- openly condoned and supported by their Jewish puppet masters. Increasingly, our stormtroopers are arguing -- and training -- in response.

Here's the reality, which I read just yesterday in this big ol' book on Fundamental Theology. History is

a protracted and unremitting battle between God's plan for redemption and those who oppose it, even unknowingly, throughout history. St. Augustine.... shows that the most fundamental structure of human history is the conflict between these two "cities," or types of civilization, found in every age.

Same as it ever was.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Extremists Meet

As mentioned a few posts back, what is especially interesting about Voegelin's writings on modern political Gnosticism is his attempt to trace the phenomenon back to antiquity, and to outline the continuity between premodern "religious" and modern "political" varieties.

[It seems that progressives have always been with us, such that extremes meet: in Australia, for example, university instructors have been told to avoid lecturing "on the natural historical record of that country; instead, they should teach a creation narrative regarding the origin of indigenous Australian people." This is not because of any possible metaphysical symbolism embedded in the myth; rather, to "ensure inclusivity" by pandering to literal-minded and prescientific imbeciles.]

If Voegelin is correct on this score, this would have to represent the ultimate rebuke to self-styled progressives, who are perpetually building bridges to the past -- and not even a real past, but rather, a myth-drenched one. Indeed, they are building a bridge to the lower vertical, which anyone can see by the primitive and barbarous behavior of Antifa terrorists or their political wing, the Democrat party.

Superficially Voegelin's approach makes sense, since man = man everywhere and everywhen, and must be vulnerable to the same temptations and stupidities from age to age, even, or perhaps especially, when we imagine we have transcended them -- the tendency toward idolatry being one obvious and enduring example. Envy would be another. Each age finds a new way to legitimize what is called constitutional (i.e., innate) envy.

[When I hear Senators Warren or Sanders rail about "greed," I wonder why they never propose federal laws to combat the other six deadly sins, such as sloth, lust, anger, and pride.]

Man is man for at least three reasons. First, we share a common genetic heritage (Aborigines notwithstanding). Second, we all have a rational soul. And third, our existential conditions do not change, at least at the center: mother, father, brother, sister, love, death, loss, illness, need, children, mystery, etc.

For example, we have extended the average lifespan, but we nevertheless live in the shadow of death. We imagine ourselves to be "sexually liberated," but that hardly resolves the conundrum of human sexuality. We live more comfortably than the nobility of old, but this only fuels envy. [Progressives are proof that misery rises to the level of the means available to alleviate it.]

For this reason, there always have been, and always will be, cosmic snake oil salesmen who promise a cure for existence, such as L. Ron Hubbard or Marianne Williamson. But there are no cures for merely natural existence short of death. There is treatment, to be sure -- more on which later -- but no final cure in this life. We must learn to live amidst a welter of tensions, trade-offs, enigmas, missed opportunities, reversals of fortune, bad hands, raw deals, blown saves, buzzer beaters, etc.

The would-be Gnostic simply cannot accept the conditions of existence. He refuses to admit that they are "in the nature of things," and imagines that they are caused by some willful and systemic malevolence. The essence of the left is to imagine there can be political solutions to existential problems. While they call it "social justice," what they really mean is "cosmic justice." And cosmic justice revolves around envy and vengeance.

The ancient Gnostics theorized that this world was created by a kind of renegade god, and that the snake in Genesis is the hero, not the villain of the story. The snake was simply trying to tell the humans to wise up to this fraudulent cosmic usurper.

Likewise, modern forms of political Gnosticism always require an easily identifiable enemy who is responsible for the unfairness and injustice of the world. Obama's mentor, Saul Alinsky, was very much aware of this need -- and I'm not one of those who (Gnostically!) overemphasizes his importance, as if he is the mystic key to understanding the Enigma of Obama; Alinsky simply articulated how radicals and revolutionaries think, and what they always do anyway. No one has to teach a progressive how to hate, only whom!

Indeed, in the book's epigraph, Alinsky is self-aware enough to give an ironic shout out to Lucifer himself, as "the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins -- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom" (emphasis mine).

However, Alinsky was not self-aware enough to realize that his whole life revolved around conformity to this very mythic structure. Too ironic by half.

Note how the task of the community organizer is not to help people adjust to reality, but to fuel their messianic hopes that reality can be fundamentally changed: "They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution" (Alinsky).

Thus, the goal of the organizer is to present a vague cure -- sweeping but vague, on pain of being recognized as magic -- for the very despair he provokes: "the organizer must begin the task of agitating: rubbing resentments, fanning hostilities, and searching out controversy." This essentially involves "a process combining hope and resentment."

Regarding the latter, since human beings are so myth-prone and susceptible to simplistic and morally satisfying narratives, it is necessary to "pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." This is the person or organization responsible for our obviously f*cked up existence. It is the One Percent, Fox News, Hate Radio, Creationists, Corporate Greed, Stay-At-Home Moms, Right Wing Christians, Zionist Hoodlums, Institutional Racism, etc.

Perhaps I should emphasize that conservatives can be prone to the same sort of Gnostic narratives. A genuine conservative should have no delusions about what would happen with even the ideal political and economic conditions, for he has a vertical recollection of paradise lost. Genesis 3 isn't about what happened once upon a time, but what happens every time. To deny the Fall and locate salvation in politics is a grave error on the right, but a sacred principle on the left.

Now, the revolutionary, since he has already determined that the existing order is a result of willful malevolence, has no compunction whatsoever about destroying it. This is a very dangerous form of pneumopathology, and it is precisely what motivates the Islamists.

For once one has determined that the world is evil, then it legitimizes and disinhibits any form of violence or cruelty. One can gleefully destroy the system -- with all the "collateral damage" it entails -- in good conscience.

This is about as far as man may descend in the cosmos, where death is conflated with life. And woe unto them who call evil good and good evil! Indeed, woe unto those who even call the-best-we-can-do-under-the-circumstances evil, for it is easy to make matters worse, and impossible to make them better without trade-offs, unintended consequences, and unavoidable feedback from human nature.

Here is how Voegelin describes it: "Self-salvation through knowledge has its own magic, and this magic is not harmless. The structure of the order of being will not change because one finds it defective and runs away from it. The attempt at world-destruction will not destroy the world, but will only increase the disorder in society."

See history for details.

We'll conclude with an Aphorism:

When one does not concede to the leftist all that he demands, he proclaims himself the victim of an institutional violence that is licit to repel with physical violence. --Dávila

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Political Gnosticism of the 20 (D)warves

"Mr. President, if you're listening, I want you to hear me, please. You have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. I'm going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field. And, sir, love will win." --Marianne Williamson

In his introduction to Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, Ellis Sandoz writes that Voegelin's new science of politics -- that's right, science -- "can be used to diagnose maladies of contemporary political existence and offer remedies within the modest limits of reason and science" (emphases mine). Or in other words, it deals with the cause and cure of various political sicknesses and pathologies.

Consider the analogy to medicine. In the West, we have settled on allopathic medicine as the most useful approach to the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. But there are also other systems: homeopathic, osteopathic, ayurvedic, humorism, traditional Chinese medicine. Each of these posits a different etiological, classificatory, and therapeutic system for physical illness.

Since the mind is obviously more ambiguous than the body, there are even more treatment approaches to the psyche, veering from the completely biological to the completely psychological, from the collective to the individual, and from theories that consider everyone neurotic to crazy psychiatrists who conveniently consider abnormality normal.

Body. Mind. What about spiritual disorders? First of all, you can disabuse yourself of the notion that there is "no such thing," because each religion -- like the different schools of medicine -- provides a kind of diagnosis and cure for man's spiritual condition. Sometimes these are presented in mytho-speculative language, but they are no less penetrating for it.

Consider, for example, the Bhagavad Gita, which is none other than a dialogue between the troubled patient, Arjuna, and the spiritual doctor, Krishna. Likewise, the Buddha clearly diagnoses mankind (the four noble truths) before offering the cure (the eight-fold path). In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali does the same, and Jesus frankly compares himself to a physician.

In short, all religions recognize that there is something fundamentally wrong with man. And in our view, one of the things that is fundamentally wrong with man is his tendency to become a closed system. Please note that this is true of every level of existence, the material, psychic, and pneumatic.

Of Voegelin, Sandoz writes that he "evokes the philosopher as physician of the soul." This is not philosophy as practiced by the tenured rabble, i.e., mental masturbation on a grandiose scale, but rather, a way of life; for it is "the love of being through love of divine Being as the source of its order" (Voegelin).

In this context, Sandoz notes that "protecting philosophy against perversion is vital to the larger task of protecting human existence itself against perversion and tyranny."

Especially in a free society such as ours, right thinking is our main line of defense against tyranny, which is precisely why it is attacked and undermined by the irrational and dis-ordered forces of the left. The left imposes a system in which lies either become compulsory, or in which the proper conclusions cannot be drawn from the allowable data.

The essence of modern tyranny involves prohibiting questions that might undermine the credibility of the system, which is why there is no place in America where speech is less free than on a college campus. No surprise there. [Update from seven years hence: the tech giants have surpassed even academia in their repressive intolerance of dissent.]

In the book, Voegelin outlines "three major types for whom a human inquiry has become a practical impossibility," including "socialist man," "positivist [e.g., scientistic, Darwinistic, reductionistic] man," and "national-socialist man."

Now, as there is philosophy (in Voegelin's sense), there is anti-philosophy. Political Gnosticism is an instance of the latter, which Voegelin defines as a perverse desire for "dominion over being; in order to seize control of being the gnostic constructs a system."

Thus, instead of a spiritually open engagement with reality and truth -- which is philo-sophy, or love of wisdom -- the Gnostic shuts himself off from this ground and constructs a closed system based upon the Answer known only to elites such as himself, quintessential examples being Marxism on the political plane or metaphysical Darwinism on the biological plane (and this is the kind of perverse and simplistic science -- i.e., scientism -- preferred by the left in order to bolster its enfeebled image of man).

Each of these denies transcendence up front, which has the practical effect of murdering man (and eventually men). As Sandoz explains, modern forms of Gnosticism are characterized by their "renunciation of 'vertical' or otherworldly transcendence and [their] proclamation of a 'horizontal' transcendence or futuristic parousia of Being -- that is, intramundane or worldly" salvation. In short, a dreamworld of hope and change.

But in imposing this absurd doctrine of worldly salvation, the parousia must be perpetually postponed. For the gnostic, it is always right around the corner, the endless Recovery Summer. The War on Poverty is not a Keynesian quackmire, but actually winnable with one last surge of obscenely profligate spending on our pet projects and political allies!

Thus, in their Gnostic lust for power, each of the 20 dwarves insists that we ignore what has actually happened to the economy and country over the last four years. Rather, look ahead, to the glorious future that is promised by... well, by Marianne Williamson, for example:

What we most need now is a political visionary -- someone with a deep understanding of where we have been and where we need to be going....

My campaign provides the American people with the option of choosing another way -- not just a better version of same old, same old politics, but a genuine pattern disruption that allows for breakthroughs and possibilities that will not otherwise occur.

We need to address the deep emotional and psychological dynamics within the average citizen that have led to the erosion of our political system. In order to have a moral and spiritual awakening in America, we need a leader who is a moral and spiritual awakener.

I believe I am that person.

As a psychologist, I am intimately familiar with narcissistic grandiosity. But Voegelin understood that the grandiosity of the left is on another plane altogether, and requires a deeper explanation.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Finding God's Autograph

One could say that all of man's problems have to do with truth.

First, in order for truth to be possible, one must implicitly maintain that the world is intelligible and that man may know it. Truth then is a relation or adequation between these two: ultimately between man and cosmos.

Next, one needs to propagate this truth to others.

No, I take that back. Rather, one can always just horde the truth and keep it to oneself. More for us! But interestingly, virtually no one wishes to do this, least of all the God in whose image we are.

Instead, when a normal man stumbles upon a truth, he has an intrinsic desire to share the joy with others. Indeed, truth radiates, just as does beauty, but in a slightly different way. I would say that truth partakes of the Absolute, beauty the Infinite. Truth doesn't need to be compelled by force, as the left believes, because it attracts by its very nature. Only lies are compulsory. Also, if truth were compulsory, we would be deprived the merit of faith. Faith too is an adequation, but it involves one's whole being, not just the intellect.

As an aside, wouldn't it be nice if some people would keep the truth -- or what they regard as the truth -- to themselves? If they had just done that, then there would have been no Soviet Union, no Nazi Germany, no Islamism. We'll return to this topic later, i.e., the impulse to propagate the Lie, and what it means.

[UPDATE from seven years hence, i.e., today: I was just reading of this very subject in Dennis Prager's line-by-line analysis of Genesis: placing ideology above truth "is not only common, it is probably the greatest source of mass evil in the world." Each of the genocides of the twentieth century was justified by massive lies that were obviously attractive to masses of people. "Given the overwhelming importance of truth, it is no wonder the Talmud states, 'God's signature is truth.'"]

In order to propagate truth, man must be able to formulate it in his head, put it into words, and transmit it to others. But then the person to whom one is speaking must decode the transmission back into the experience of truth.

Right there you've got another problem, because, to plagiaphrase Karl Popper, it is impossible to speak in such a way that one cannot be misunderstood. Did you understand that? Well, good. This means that some things can be understood. Communication is difficult but not impossible.

But what about more complex things, like, say, the truth of man? When we say "truth of man," we have several things in mind, but they essentially come down to three areas: our origin, our destiny, and our present purpose. Or in other words, where did we come from, where are we going, and what should we do? Or even more simply, Who (are we), Why (are we here), and What (are we supposed to do with our lives), respectively.

[To which another critical item must be added: what gets in the way, and why?]

Now, any sane man acknowledges up front that ultimate -- or transfinite -- truth is impossible for a finite being. Unless, of course, this truth is somehow communicated -- which is to say, revealed -- to man from outside, above, beyond, or behind the cosmic system. Some will say this is impossible and leave it at that. However, if you have senses of irony and humor, you will recognize that only a god would be in a position to affirm such a thing. Or in other words, if God doesn't exist, only he knows it. And if he does exist, only man can not know it.

Back to our problem. What if someone 1) discovers a critical truth, 2) formulates it, 3) publishes it, and 4) no one but a few fertile eggheads pays attention?

What I specifically have in mind is Voegelin's Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, which strikes me as densely packed with vital truths about man. And when I say "vital," I mean that man cannot survive -- not as we know him, and not in the long run -- without knowing them.

Time out for aphorisms:

The modern man is the man who forgets what man knows about man.


Each day modern man knows the world better and knows man less.

First, we should point out that Voegelin is hardly the only person to discover truths that no one wishes to hear. But more importantly, if this is the truth, then it is doubtful in the extreme that he would have been the first to discover it.

Indeed, Voegelin once quipped that one of the hallmarks of truth is unoriginality. Just as animals come equipped with various mechanisms of defense, man's intellect has always been able to arrive at certain salutary and guiding truths (to paraphrase Schuon, as unwavering instinct is the animal's intellect, unwavering intellection is man's instinct). But since we also have free will, we are free to deny, invert, and even oppose these truths.

This lines up with something else Schuon wrote, to the effect that everything has already been said, and even well said, but it still needs to be discovered anew by each generation. And as mentioned above, when spontaneously discovered, there is an intrinsic joy associated with sharing it, i.e., the cosmic Woo Hoo!

One of Voegelin's themes is that when a man moves from faith to ideology, he falls from uncertain truth to certain untruth. Obviously, man has a lust for certitude, but this must be a means, not an end. If this passion does become an end, then one has entered a state of pneumopathology.

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Voegelin made the statement that "the essence of modernity is Gnosticism." What did he mean by this?

First, let's discuss what impels a man to Gnosticism. First, the would-be Gnostic "is dissatisfied with his situation," which, in a certain sense, is neither here nor there, for all men are dissatisfied with their situation. This is just another way of saying that man is a finite being with infinite appetites. Life is tough. Deal with it.

Ah, but this is precisely what the Gnostic refuses to do, which is to say, accept reality. For the Gnostic does not consider the constraints of existence, let alone the nature of man. Liberals, says the Aphorist, describe a past that never existed and predict a future that is never realized.

[One immediately thinks of Sowell's classic elucidation of the unconstrained vision. If you pay attention to the forthcoming Democratic debates, you will hear nothing but unconstrained vision mingled with unconstrained hate, which I believe to be the most dangerous combination in mankind's deadly arsenal.]

Rather, the Gnostic visionary concludes that the community of man is just "poorly organized" and that "salvation from the evil of the world is possible." No one doubts that things can improve, but everyone should doubt that, say, an Obama has it in his power to do such a thing, especially with no unintended consequences, no losers, no trade-offs, no scapegoats, etc.

But the Gnostic believes "that a change in the order of being lies in the realm of human action" and "that this salvational act is possible through man's own effort." Remember Obama's 2008 promise -- or was it a threat? -- that he intends to fundamentally change this nation. But of course, it has always been known that any idiot can make history by changing things. The hard part is keeping them, e.g., life, liberty, property, etc. [A slogan comes to mind: Keep America Great.]

Usually the Gnostic has his own personal issues, which he avoids by inflicting them upon the rest of us. I mean, no one cares if Obama thinks he can save the world. It only becomes a problem for the rest of us if he is given the power to try.

We'll end with another aphorism to bear in mind as the Twenty Dwarves fight over who's the tallest:

Social problems are the delightful refuge of those fleeing from their own problems. --Dávila