Saturday, September 30, 2006

Jesus Chrysalis, Bob, Just Tell Me How to Caterpult My Buddhafly! (10.02.11)

I am often asked to provide specific advice on how one might begin to develop a spiritual practice. Most recently, a reader asked for “any ideas on how I can overcome my fear of myself as well as my pride in myself, and sincerely invite God into my life.”

I was under the impression that I had devoted a number of posts to this specific topic, but when I went back and looked, I realized that my advice tends to be scattered throughout the One Cosmos bloggereliquaruim. Better to keep the knowledge hidden that way, I suppose--only available to the sincere and determined seeker, safe from those barbarous hands that would greedily pry into God’s secrets and distort them for their own shallow ends.

Indeed, God should only be spoken of in a manner that “protects” and guards against the distortions and simplifications of the spiritually unqualified, while at the same time posing a challenge to the sincerity and intensity of the true seeker’s aspiration. This is not mystagogy. It is actually no different than in psychotherapy. A seasoned therapist will often know the exact nature of the patient’s problem within a session or two. However, it would serve no purpose whatsoever to prematurely blurt this out to the patient, for truth that is given is truth that cannot be discovered, and that makes all the difference.

Not for nothing did Jesus speak in paradoxables. When asked about this by his inner brotherhood of Cosmic Raccoons, he responded, “For you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.... Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”

Therefore, Jesus is identifying and highlighting a perennial problem with spiritual knowledge: many who hear hear it do not hear it, and many more who understand it do not comprehend it. It is an organic process, in which the seed must be planted in fertile soil, so as to actually transform the person. Again, it is absolutely no different than psychotherapy. Very early in my training I learned various ways to deflect the inevitable question, “Can’t you just tell me what’s wrong? Just give it to me straight, and I’ll work out the rest myself.”

A particular patient comes to mind who had great difficulty getting beyond the idea that there was some unremembered event from his past, and that if he could only remember what it was, he would be magically transformed. Also, being a narcissistic character, he was convinced that he (being a special person) could bypass the usual drawn out process, and that I would simply disclose the secret to him and send him on his way. But his greed for the truth was a symptom of his very problem. I constantly gave him truth in the form of "nourishing" interpretations, but he greedily swallowed them so quickly (without even chewing!), that he had no time to metabolize them, much less feel gratitude for them. And the absence of gratitude was one of his core problems. Do you see the dilemma? How can you “give” someone the “thankfulness” they lack, until they learn it in a real relationship?

Having said that, our civilization is in real danger of losing touch entirely with its wisdom tradition, and as the Kabbalists kabbalize, “it is better to divulge Wisdom than to forget it.”

In response to the reader’s question, I had a few thoughts off the top of my head: “For starters you need to either fall in love (easier with a human form) or be intellectually convicted, depending upon your personality style (bhakti vs. jnani). Only in that way does Spirit become the context, not merely the content, of your life.” Also, “Remember, the greater the struggle, the greater the realization. Everyone is a unique ‘problem of God,’ and the great project of your life is how the Divine is going to get himself out of this jam he got himself into.” I pointed out the unhelpful truism that “the seeking is the beginning of the finding,” and noted the importance of being exposed to the direct testimony of others whom one respects--in other words, community.

Speaking of which, many readers chimed in with their own helpful suggestions. Will recommended not becoming preoccupied with “the concept of ‘God.’ God exists and you don't have to ‘conceive’ Him any more than you have to ‘conceive’ the sunrise to know that it's there. The question is, how do you come to *perceive* God or at least His edges?”

This is exactly what I emphasize in my book, that while you may or may not be able to prove the existence of God to your satisfaction, what you can definitely prove is the existence of a part of yourself that may know or love God. It would be odd if there were no corresponding object for this subject, but you needn’t be troubled by that at the start. It’s like appreciating a painting and wondering if beauty really exists. Who cares? Just enjoy it. Religion provides a beautiful way to live and to think about existence.

Will added the importance of being patient, diligent, and developing the imagination. This is a critical point. As I have mentioned on a number of occasions in the past, there are two forms of imagination, one passive, hypnotic, somnolent, downward pulling, and ultimately destructive, another that is active, creative, and aligned with your highest aspiration. One drags you into the abyss, the other draws you toward the Center and Origin. Religious language (including rituals) is carefully honed imaginative language, a symbol system “designed” to facilitate intellection, or “thinking of higher things.”

BP made an interesting point, noting that in his “relationship with the living God I do not necessarily experience as much ‘pleasure’ as I did before, but don't seem to need it. For me, pleasures were always sought and indulged in as a form of temporary relief from my general dissatisfaction with myself. Now, though not necessarily satisfied with myself, I really ENJOY myself. Or better yet, I would say that I enjoy God's involvement in myself, sometimes to the point of laughing my ass off. As important, I also get to experience God's enjoyment and appreciation of me. Hard to explain until it starts happening, and it's usually pretty subtle, but when it does start happening it is pretty darn cool. Furthermore, as my enjoyments have increased in relation with God, I've started worrying less and less about when/how/where I will get my next fix of ‘pleasure.’”

I have found this to be true. If one were to look at my outward life, one might find it rather mundane and predictable. But this is not at all what it feels like on the inside. I am reminded of a novel I read some 20 years ago. I don't remember anything about it except that it conceptualized reality as a system of concentric circles around a center. But unlike normal geometry, the closer you converge toward the center, the “larger” and more spacious the world of each successive ring. Then, at the center, which should be the “smallest” area, you arrive at the most expansive and unrestricted space. The absolute center is, of course “infinity.” Sri Aurobindo never left his room during the last 30 or so years of his life, but what an expansive existence!

Frithjof Schuon, one of the greatest spiritual masters, wrote a short piece about spiritual practice entitled “Fundamental Keys.” In it, he emphasizes the importance of meditation, concentration, and prayer: “These three words epitomize the spiritual life, while at the same time indicating its principal modes. Meditation, from our standpoint, is an activity of the intelligence in view of understanding universal truths; concentration, for its part, is an activity of the will in view of assimilating these truths or realities existentially, as it were; and prayer in its turn is an activity of the soul directed towards God.”

I will further discuss these three modes of spiritual knowing further in tomorrow’s post.

Friday, September 29, 2006

9-11 and the Parallel Looniverse

Dr. Sanity has made some very interesting observations based upon a typically cryptic (or craptic, depending on your point of view) comment casually tossed aside by Petey, to the effect that 9-11 did not just alter the future, but the past. Every psychotherapist knows that present insight can transform the past, but does it also work on a macro level?

Hmm. As with all of Petey’s wiggets of gnosdom, this one is worthy of the application of some sustained higher bewilderment. For, if it is true that the present alters the past, then before getting into specific cases such as 9-11, we should ask the question: “by virtue of what principle?” In fact, this question is at the heart of metaphysics, which looks beyond surface appearances to inquire into the principles by virtue of which various appearances are possible.

Vincent Vega: Example?

Jules: For example, by virtue of what principle are human beings capable of knowing truth? Answer that one, and you will be able to cut through the thicket of about 99% of philosophistry. By virtue of what principle was the big bang so precisely ordered mathematically? By virtue of what principle may a cosmos be so arranged that it contains living entities capable of knowing (and therefore containing) itself? By virtue of what principle do animals leave the closed system of their own neurology and enter history? By virtue of what principle may human beings know the absolute? Answer these questions and you may skip my book.

The great theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote that “All our destinies are interwoven,” and that “until the last of us has lived, the significance of the first cannot finally be clear.“ For some reason, I was pondering this quite literally the other day. Think about it. No matter how you slice it, the world and the cosmos are going to end. Like everything else deployed in time, they had a beginning and they have an expiration date.

Even before genetic Homo sapiens entered the realm of the truly human a mere 40,000 years ago, the adventure of biology was already two thirds over. That is, biological life manifested on earth just under four billion years ago, but according to my watch, in another two billion years the sun will incinerate the earth, putting a final end to the struggle. Even in the exceedingly unlikely event that we could somehow populate distant planets with billions of people, that will only postpone the inevitable.

Someone is going to be the Last Man Standing. Only he will finally be in a position to take one last look at the orange colored sky, scratch his size 14 Omega Man head, and ask the question, “What was that all about, then? What was history? What did it all mean?” Certainly he will be able to tell us how that ancient war on Islamo-fascism turned out. Only he will finally be able to put everything in its place, see where things ultimately led, see beyond the appearances, and know What Really Happened.

Is that true? Not to repeat myself, but by virtue of what principle? Because human beings have three sources of information about history: 1) facts and reason, 2) pure intellection, and 3) revelation. So even this last man is going to have a very different take on things if he is a secular man, a religious man, or a gnostic man.

But for the religious/gnostic man, we don’t necessarily have to wait until the end of history to discern its ultimate meaning. This is because revelation--whether you agree or disagree with it--purports to disclose the end of both history and creation itself. This is the study of eschatology, that branch of theology concerned with the end: of mankind, of history, and of the world.

If--and only if--you can know this actual eschatological end, can you discern ultimate purposes within history. Let’s take an example I cited a few weeks ago. The great historian Christopher Dawson made the provocative and yet axiomatic assertion that being an eye witness to history is of no consequence whatsoever to historical insight. Obviously, most of us lived through the Clinton years, so we think we know what happened. We were there. But were we really, at least historically?

Dawson uses the example of the Battle of Hastings, which every British schoolchild evidently knows: “A visitor from another planet who witnessed the Battle of Hastings would possess far greater knowledge of the facts than any modern historian, yet this knowledge would not be historical knowledge for lack of any tradition to which it could be related; whereas the child who says ‘William the Conqueror 1066’ has already made his atom of knowledge a historical fact by relating it to a national tradition and placing it in the time-series of Christian culture.”

Similarly, an eye witness to the crucifixion of Jesus would have undoubtedly taken as much notice of the two criminals who were crucified beside him. Only in hindsight was the centrality of Jesus’ death recognized. It is fair to say that no one who witnessed it thought to themselves, “Hmm, interesting. This is the center and still point of history. Yesterday was BC. Tomorrow will be AD.”

As Dawson writes, “Behind the rational sequence of political and economic cause and effect, hidden spiritual forces are at work which confer on events a wholly new significance. The real meaning of history is something entirely different from that which the human actors in the historical drama themselves intend or believe.” A contemporary observer cannot have imagined that “the execution of an obscure Jewish religious leader in the first century of the Roman Empire would affect the lives and thoughts of millions who never heard the names of the great statesmen and generals of the age.”

Thus, there is an unavoidably eschatological aspect of history. Events cannot be fully understood without reference to their finality, that is, what they point toward and reveal only in the fullness of time. As Dawson says, “The pure fact is not as such historical. It only becomes historical when it can be brought in relation with a tradition so that it can be part of an organic whole.”

Therefore, in order to be a proper historian, you had better have your story right. And what is the story? Ah, that’s the question, isn’t it? For it is fair to say that left and right are operating under the umbrella of vastly different stories--politically, culturally, economically, psychologically, theologically, and in just about every other -ally way. Somebody's hiding under the historical dumbrella.

As Dr. Sanity notes, 9-11 was not so much an event as a fork in the historical road creating two parallel universes--a universe and a twin looniverse, not so much parallel as truly perpeculiar. It is as if we veered in one direction, whereas the left veered into what is called a cosmic wormhole, another branch of time altogether. Being that they are trapped in the safety of their own delusional punyverse, they continue to interpret contemporary events by the dim light of 1996, just as, I suppose, there were some people who never stopped interpreting events after 12-7-41 in terms of 12-6.

In the end, this is what the Clinton phallap is all about: trying to stop history and freeze it as it appeared at some point in the 1990’s, prior to the stock market crash and 9-11 (just as it's eternally 1955 for the race hustlers sniveling rights activists). But it will never work. Only by knowing where history went can we know what history meant. All the facts in the world do not speak for themselves, not even the “facts” in Richard Clarke’s autofellatiography. History does not and cannot speak for itself. Depending on its deeperending, you will see completely different facts and regard them very differently.

So there is history and mythtory. But with the right eschatall tale, you can know the end of the story and place contemporary events in their proper context. You may--dare I say--know the signs of the times, and discern them from the designs of the Times.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Memo to the NY Times: Conservatism is Caused by Fighting It

Has it always been this way? Has mainstream journalism always been so transparently agenda-driven as it is today? Probably. It’s just that we didn’t notice it until the rise of alternative media in the form of talk radio and blogs that began challenging our state religion of illiberal leftism.

The question is again raised because of the fraudulent reporting of those slimese twins, the New York Times and the Washington Post, on the National Intelligence Estimate. Now that President Bush has declassified the document, we see that its overarching conclusion is the exact opposite of what the liberal media would have you believe.

There’s plenty of good blogging on this story already (e.g., Dr. Sanity, Right Wing Nuthouse, American Thinker, et al), so there’s little I can add in that regard. As always, I will try to consider the cosmic implications.

There is absolute truth and there is relative truth. Ironically, contrary to what most sophisticates will tell you, it is possible to know absolute truth absolutely. Being that truth is another matter, but knowing it is a human birthright. For example, we may know absolutely that reality is One, that appearance is not the same as reality, that the world is intelligible, and that human beings possess free will with which they may choose good or evil. This is the realm of perennial religious truth, which expresses metaphysical knowledge in sometimes mythological language accessible to virtually everyone.

As I mentioned in my book, you might think of religion as the science of the Ultimate Subject, and science as the religion of the ultimate object. While we may possess objective knowledge of the ultimate subject--e.g., he is love-truth-beauty, or being-consciousness-bliss, or father-son-holy spirit--we can possess no similar knowledge of the relative world, where everything is tinged with human subjectivity. But “subjective” should not be confused with “arbitrary” or “untrue.”

The philosophical tragedy of our day is that the postmodernists use this subjective opening--which is an inevitable artifact of our humaness--to come in with their wrecking ball and destroy the whole idea of objective truth, thus elevating relativity to an objective truth. In so doing, they promulgate the “false vertical” idea that there are absolutely no absolutes, a metaphysical absurdity if ever there was one. In other words, as soon as you say it is absolutely true that all knowledge is relative, you have disproved your own statement. You have actually acknowledged that humans may objectively know absolute truth.

In order to understand the relative world, we must begin with an objectively true framework or paradigm that puts everything in its proper place and allows us to “see” what is important or significant. But the secular assault on religion has badly damaged the extraordinarly bountiful framework ("fruitfulness" being an aspect of truth) that guided western civilization for hundreds of years , only to replace it with their own thoroughly secularized pseudo-religion that we know of as “leftism.” (Memo to moonbats: I am not making the absurd suggestion that all leftists are somehow “bad people.” Rather, I am drawing out the implications of the leftist world view, implications that the average well-meaning leftist surely doesn’t even understand, much less approve of.)

I have heard estimates from reputable members of the elite media that the typical newsroom probably tilts fifteen or twenty to one, liberal to conservative. But at the same time, virtually every one of them believes that they can see beyond their own biases and report the news “objectively.” One wonders what they would say if the situation were reversed, and all newsrooms, not to mention universities, had twenty times as many conservatives as leftists. Especially given their built-in victim mentality and sense of entitlement, there would be howls of indignation. There would be calls for civil rights investigations, ACLU lawsuits, boycotts.

But because of their absurd philosophy, these leftists would see only a structural problem of “not enough liberals” instead of recognizing the truth that their own opinions, attitudes and perceptions are thoroughly colored by their own leftist assumptions. They would have to concede that “I see the world completely differently because I am a liberal,” and they would have to abandon their pretense of journalistic objectivity.

This is why so few people trust the liberal media anymore, because they will not admit their biases. Whatever President Bush’s perceived level of trustworthiness, you can be sure that the MSM’s is significantly lower. And yet, the latter will arrogantly opine on the former, as if their opinions about Bush’s trustworthiness are trustworthy! If they were forthright, they'd say, "don't trust me on this, but I don't think Bush is very trustworthy."

And this is why people flock to alternative sources of news such as talk radio, blogs, and Fox news--because they are transparent. I don’t pretend that I see the world through anything other than the lens of classical American liberalism. Viewed through that lens, the world is an entirely different place than it is when viewed through the lens of illiberal leftism. We literally see different things. We have different assumptions, different ideas about what is important, different values, different notions of good and evil, even entirely different ideas about fundamental causes.

For example, the typical liberal unreflexively believes that “poverty causes crime” (thus the New York Times' clueless headline, "Crime Down Despite Rise in Prison Population") whereas I believe that bad values cause crime. The difference is that the typical liberal has never thought this through. They are generally quite naive about their beliefs, for the simple reason that they have never been challenged. They don’t experience the kind of constant cognitive friction that a conservative does, so they don’t even know how to argue or defend their ideas, which we saw with Clinton last Sunday.

Liberals will typically say that Israeli policies somehow have something to do with Palestinian terror, while I believe that Palestinian terror is caused by their psychotic death cult theology. After all, there are no Christian Palestinian terrorists. They are just as “occupied” as Palestinian Muslims, and yet, it doesn’t occur to the Christians to strap on bombs with pieces of twisted metal and rat poison in order to kill and maim as many women and children as possible.

You and I are not even able to entertain thoughts so evil. We cannot even go there. Under no circumstances whatsoever can we imagine decapitating an innocent journalist or murdering a baby. But could I waterboard a terrorist to stop a terror attack? In a hearbeat. I literally cannot understand the mind of the person who wouldn’t (or the truly "pro-torture" mind of someone who makes excuses for Palestinian terror, which is to essentially say that they would not rule out engaging in it themselves). Different values. Different world. If fighting Islamo-nazis means that more of them are willing to fight for the cause of evil, that's okay. There is a ready solution: kill them faster.

If you unreflexively believe that poverty causes crime or that the cause of terror is fighting it, then all of your reporting is going to reflect those basic assumptions, something we constantly see in the liberal media. For them, these notions are simply “reality,” whereas the idea that bad values cause crime or an evil theology causes terror are “conservative” ideas. Neither point of view is absolutely true, but one is much more true.

Thus, we should not be surprised when liberals take things out of context and distort reality to fit their peceptions. For them to say “the war on terror causes terrorists” is simply a cherished assumption dressed up as a conclusion. If you give it a moment’s thought, their whole world view is just so stupid. Would they ever report that terrorists are the cause of the American military that liberals so despise, and that if terrorists would only appease America, our military would stop trying to harm them? Or that Islamo-nazis have to stop their unwinnable war on the west, because it will only create more George Bushes and Tony Blairs and John Howards?

Or that they themselves must stop mindlessly attacking conservatives, because it will just make us stronger?

Personally, I hope they never figure out that last one.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Secularism and the Mystique of Nothingness (9.30.10)

As I have gnosissed on many occultions, the current divide between left and right, between a deeply illiberal leftism and the classic American liberalism of our founders, mirrors a hauntological divide that goes back to the very Origin and Center of the cosmos. Looked at in one way, the Origin and Center are situated in the distant past, where history blurs into myth. Looked at from an other angle, they can only be situated in the now.

Human beings are fallen creatures in a fallen world. This concept is thoroughly misunderstood by the secular mind. In fact, “misunderstood” is perhaps not strong enough a word, because it presumes that one may understand it from the outside. However, as is true of all important metaphysical ideas that are couched in religious language, they can only be comprehended from the inside. One must first be in a religious world to know the world from which religion arises. Otherwise you are somewhat like a music critic who happens to be deaf.

For similar reasons, many people believe that you must first somehow decide whether or not God exists before joining a religion, but the opposite is true. One becomes religious so as to make God present in one’s life. Whether or not God exists is a separate issue. The important point is to make him present and real, and thus inhabit the space where our true humanness emerges. Anything short of this makes you merely human, which is necessarily to say less than human, in the sense that a person who does not transcend himself sinks beneath himself (i.e., we are speaking vertically, not of wordly civil responsibilities and the rights that that derive from them).

Once upon a timeless, human consciousness made a choice that brought this fallen cosmos into being. In a sense, this choice was an inevitable consequence of our uncontained curiosity. What would such a world be like? A world of contingency, relativity, of separation from our source. Let’s do it!

It’s not a matter of assigning blame, because in order for there to be a cosmos at all--a mamafestivus for the rest of us--there must be a fall, for to say “manifestation” is to say “relative” is to say “other than the Absolute” is to say “alienation” is to say “remote from God.” And here we are.

So we make the leap from up to down and inside to out. We exchange essence for existence and plunge headlong into the starry naught, the cosmic nothing. The link with the invisible world is broken, and a visible world fills the void. Bang! What a strange, eery, beautiful place!

Having said that....

“We must distrust the fascination abysses can exert over us; it is in the nature of cosmic impasses to seduce and play the vampire; the current of forms does not want us to escape its hold. Forms can be snares just as they can be symbols and keys; beauty can chain us to forms just as it can be a door to the non-formal” (Schuon).

The “cosmic leftism” of which Petey, the merciful, the compassionate, speaks, is the fascination of the abyss. In other worlds, it is an extension of the fall as a solution to the fall. If we can only keep falling, then perhaps we will “break on through” to the other side, perfect mankind, create heaven on earth, and win the human race. Thus, on the deepest cosmic level, our puny cultural divide reflects a much larger choice: reverse the fall, or keep on plunging?

Leftists are activists. And they are socially aware. And they are committed. But their frenetic activity is a substitute for being, “the restless and disappointing turmoil of superfluous things”; their social awareness is a substitute for vertical awareness; and their commitment is an ersatz replacement for faith--a false absolute and graven image for purposes of idol worship. This is why leftism generates such emotionality in its adherents--it is religious emotion in the absence of religion.

Taken together, this plunge of illegiance to allusion represents a hypnotic capitulation to the self-created cosmic machine that drags us down, 32 feet per second per second. The reversal of this fall cannot be achieved, much less imposed, collectively. Rather, it can only be achieved through metanoia, repentance, or “turning around,” toward the light of the transpersonal sun and source.

Secularism begins and ends with the material world. Being that the material world is a shifting and transitory world, one can only derive a shifting and transitory metaphysic from its study. Furthermore, one will necessarily confuse the Principle with its manifestation. One will have to adhere to the bizarre metaphysic that the naturally supernatural mind that is able to know absolutely is somehow derived from relative matter. And if you can believe that, you'll believe anything, which is why so much of wackademia is a moonbatument to folly.

Here is what we have heard from the wise. In “reality,” the cosmos is a “message from God to Himself by Himself.” But this should by no means be taken as an excuse for pantheism or narcissism, since the message is nonetheless real. For while God is both Alpha and Omega, sender and receiver, above and ahead, the message is deployed in time, which is one of the names of Eternity. We have received the message when we have achieved our end. Which is to say, beginning. A new beginning. Perpetually born. Existence renewed. At the razoredgeon.

We were children once, still close to God, fleshly reflecting our celestial origin, older than Abraham, young as a babe's I AM. Then we became very old, very adolt, methusalossed in maya. But then we went 'round the bend, where our past and future finally caught up with us. But only now. And again.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Clinton, Shame and Narcissism: Destroying the Eyes of the World

Clinton’s pathetic performance with Chris Wallace this weekend was a wonderfully revealing moment. While the purpose of his humiliated fury was to try to destroy the eyes of the world, for those of us with eyes that survived the attack, it simply cemented the perception of him as a world class pathological narcissist. For those of you who don’t have the benefit of a Ph.D. in psychoanalysis, allow your old Gagdad to break it all down for you. I knew that piece of paper would come in handy some day.

The narcissistic personality has several core problems, all involving dysregulation of one sort or another. First, they are subject to wide mood swings, the reason being that their mood regulation is not internalized but is dependent upon external circumstances. Circumstances good, mood good. But if circumstances turn bad, than their mood will become poopy very quickly, as is true of my 17 month old. In his case, it is entirely developmentally appropriate. However, it’s a little frightening imagining him carrying around the nuclear football when he hasn't gotten his way.

The adult narcissist has a specific difficulty auto-regulating shame, the “keystone” affect of their disorder. It is unconscious and therefore unrecognized, or only dimly so. Narcissists are quite brittle, the reason being that they attempt to bypass their shame by erecting a facade of grandiosity. But when the grandiosity is poked or prodded, the narcissist will bristle. He might well accuse you of having a “little smirk” on your face or being part of a right-wing conspiracy after making some innocent comment that threatens their grandiosity, as Chris Wallace discovered on Sunday.

Narcissism is not a monolithic condition, but is actually situated along a spectrum from mild to severe. However, the most severe narcissists can often appear to be the most outwardly accomplished. One of the reasons for this is that the more severe the narcissism, the more driven they are to accomplish something in accordance with their grandiosity.

(As an aside, this is why it is generally a mistake to elect someone president who desperately wishes to be president, such as LBJ, Nixon, Al Gore, Clinton. Our better presidents could take it or leave it, because they already had satisfying lives and were capable of generating meaning from within--Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan, Bush.)

There are two main classes of narcissism, an egotistical, Clintonian type, and a dissociative type. See if this does not ring a bell: the egotistical (also described as the “oblivious”) type is self-absorbed, arrogant, unabashedly self-aggrandizing, attention demanding, and seemingly shameless.

But underneath the smooth and competent facade, these individuals show a preponderance of shame over guilt, the latter of which is much more healthy. For example, in response to Wallace’s question about Clinton's well known failures to take terrorism seriously, a non-narcissist would simply have said, “hey, my bad. I was like everybody else. Before 9-11, I didn’t take al Qaeda seriously, and I’m really sorry about that now. Let's just be thankful my successor is nothing like me.”

But for a narcissist, this kind of guilt instantly descends into shame, which cannot be tolerated. The EJECT SHAME NOW button has been pushed--therefore, the finger in the face and the shrill accusations of unfairness and right wing conspiracies. We saw the same desperate pattern a few weeks ago with the 9-11 movie. We will continue to see it as long as Clinton takes breath, or until he finally realizes that he doesn't have a pale and pudgy legacy to stand on.

As another aside, does this not demonstrate the systematic bias of the left wing MSMistry of Truth? Bush and Rumsfeld and Rice have to deal with these kinds of questions from the press constantly, but when liberals interview Clinton, it’s like a warm bath. He relies upon the liberal media to mirror his grandiosity, and they do a fine job of it. He simply does not know how to deal with tough questioning, both because he’s never had to and because he falls apart unless he has a ready lie at his disposal to ward off both the questioner, and more importantly, his shame.

The narcissistic personality is known to experience rage in reaction to a narcissistic injury--or even the threat of an injury. Clinton, of course, is famous for his infantile “purple fits” of shame-rage, which are not to be confused with manly aggression or assertiveness. Rather, it is the weak man’s imitation of a strong man. It is the same weakness and vanity that caused Clinton to govern by poll rather than principle (and to govern his private life by pole rather than principle).

Speaking of which, awhile back, Ann Coulter took some heat for suggesting that Clinton was not our first black president but our first gay president. This comment is very easy to misunderstand, but there is no reason for homosexuals to be offended by it. Most insightful homosexuals are aware of the fact that there is a substantial segment of male homosexuals who unconsciously feel an absence of masculine power, so they engage in compulsive sexual activity in order to try to appropriate and internalize the masculinity of the anonymous partner.

Naturally the compulsion doesn’t work, which is why it must be acted out again and again. Clinton’s well-chronicled sexual compulsion and subsequent inability to separate crotch and state must be understood in this light, as a blind attempt to gain the spurious sense of masculinity that he lacks. Apparently it hasn't succeeded yet (hey, here's a free tip--next time don't marry a castrating phallic mother. That goes for all my readers).

While on the topic of sexually confused narcissists and their mothers, the history of the egotistical type narcissist will not infrequently involve a seductive type of “wooing” mothering that resembles love, but actually stems from the mother’s own emotional needs. According to Allen Schore, “this type of ‘psychotoxic’ maternal care is the diametrical opposite of emotional deprivation, namely a surfeit, an overdose of affective stimulation,” which is generally more aversive and harmful than understimulation.

Another analyst notes that these individuals are often reared “by ‘adoring,’ doting, narcissistically disturbed parents who have objectified the child and through their adoring gaze have projected onto the child aspects of their own idealized self; these parents have not only failed to find adequate support for the child’s true sense of self but have also failed to provide enough realistic positive and negative evaluation to support some degree of tension between the actual and the idealized self.” Such parenting may outwardly look like a generous gift, but as they say, “yes, Santa Claus, there is a Virginia.”

*All quotes taken from Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobiology of Emotional Development.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Lovin' and Lyin' in the Dumb-as-a-Post Modern World (9.20.08)

There are two laws in history: the law of gravity, and the law of destiny. Left to their own devices, human beings will recapitulate the fall day by day, moment by moment, plummeting further and further from the Origin and Center.

In this sense, the ancients were correct in being suspicious of time. At any given point in history, looked at in a certain way, things always look bleak and seem to be getting bleaker. Therefore, why not stop the whole colliderescape and get off?

If one were to look at the way things stood in the world over the 500 years or so up to 1700, one “would not have been optimistic about the future of mankind." As historian Robert McFarlane notes in his The Riddle of the Modern World, nearly every civilization had reached some sort of "invisible barrier” that prevented further development. "The world and its roughly 500 million inhabitants seemed to have reached the limit to its potential to support human life.... Mankind seemed to be caught on a treadmill."

How did we ever get off that treadmill? It's an important question, because it is at the heart of our current conflict with Islam. They are still on that treadmill, and when one isn't progressing, one generally degenerates. Life is not static. Reduced to stasis, it becomes death. There is no middle ground. You cannot be "a little bit" alive or dead. Any evolving system must maintain disequilibrium by exchanging matter or information with the environment. The deepest problem with the Islamic world is that it is a closed system, both individually and collectively.

Prior to West's discovery of the dynamics of material and intellectual growth, life consisted of unrelenting deprivation for all but a very few. In order to accomplish our breakthrough, “almost all the trends of the last 2000 years had to be reversed. ” Among other things, the monopolization of knowledge had to end, so that knowledge and technology could be shared through widespread education and literacy. Furthermore, this couldn't be just any kind of education. Rather, it had to be a rational education in which one freely discovers universal truths that are not context-bound.

There is a divide between people that is mirrored in the gulf between left and right. There are those who say that what the world really needs is more love, more peace, more mutual understanding, more cuddly blah blah.

Nonsense. Nearly every serious problem in the world may be reduced to an absence of Truth. The pursuit of love and peace is perfectly admirable on a micro level in one's personal life. This is the meaning of “love your enemies," “turn the other cheek," "the meek shall inherit the earth," and all that other mushy stuff.

But the Bible is not a suicide pact. On a macro level, the most important societal value by far is Truth. And not just any kind of Truth, but the Truth of truth and a method for discovering it. It has been said that it wasn't this or that particular invention that distinguished the west. Rather, it was the invention of invention, the discovery of a method of discovery.

In the Islamic world, truth is received, not discovered. And most of what they receive is not only untrue, but cannot possibly be true. But because they have no tradition or means of independent verification, they are immersed in darkness and falsehood, drowning in lies the same way a body eventually consumes itself if deprived of food.

The other day, an acquaintance mentioned the left wing barking point one often hears, that if only the Israelis had settled someplace other than Israel, there would be no problems in the Middle East. Nonsense. Muslims do not object to Israel merely because it exists, but because they believe outrageous lies about Israel. Likewise, for all those leftists who say that America is hated, that may be so, but it is hated because the haters believe things about us that are outrageously untrue, just as the left hates President Bush because they believe lies about him.

By being sensitive to Muslim feelings for decades, we have essentially honored their insane lies. In the spirit of a deeply illiberal multiculturalism, we have allowed these lies to take their place alongside the truth as a coequal partner. Light shall no longer shine in the dark, but shall dialogue with it, imam to man. The Pope let slip a banal truth about the sordid history of Islam, and look what happened. The entitled liars bristled in defense of their primordial lie, a lie which has been further enshrined by that half of the postmodern world that regards truth as relative and arbitrary. In so doing, they have simply allowed these tyrannical hordes to elevate their truth (which is a lie) to an absolute.

For, although they are the benefecesaries of liberal academics who teach the false absolute that truth doesn't exist, they don't believe that for a second. Rather, they simply use the means of leftist relativism to advance their own absolute end of religious totalitarianism. For when truth is denied, raw power fills the vacuum, destroying love and everything else in its wake.

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