Sunday, October 07, 2007

Left, Right & Wrong: Complements Will Get You Everywhere (10.01.10)

Leftism is the static deprivation of the dynamic complementarites of genuine liberalism. --Petey

According to Webster's, metaphor is "a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in the place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them." In short, it is figurative language, which is to say, language, for all language is ultimately a "figure of speech," speaking figuratively. How then do I differ from deconstructionists, who also believe that reality is made of language? Fair question.

Human beings communicate through symbols, and all symbols are ultimately metaphors. Language as such is nothing but an endlessly interlocking series of metaphors, but where I differ with deconstructionists is in affirming that human language is woven out of the universal Logos that necessarily subtends it. In other words, for the deconstructionist, there truly is no there there, no ultimate ground or referent for language. But I am quite certain there is a there there, which we call the Logos.

There is nothing you can say about anything that isn't laden with implicit or explicit metaphors, which is one of the reasons why it is so absurd for the materialist to object to spirituality, since the idea of solid matter is itself a sort of airy metaphor, just a fanciful concept based upon the illusions of our nervous system, illusions like "solidity" or unambiguous "place." Scientists often conflate the abstract and the concrete, and essentially extend the concretions of the nervous system into an abstract worldview. Which is fine, so long as you don't confuse them with metaphysical truth, or with the Ultimate Real.

For their part, so-called fundamentalist religionists often do the reverse, which is to say, concretize the abstract. But only God can really do that, since the cosmos itself is none other than a concretion in a small corner of the Divine Mind. As mentioned a couple of days ago, one of the purposes of scripture -- which employs countless metaphors and other seemingly concrete images -- is to follow it back upstream to its hidden source, the "place" from which revelation perpetually flows like a spring from the ground. Indeed, the place from which language itself flows.

It's not that scientists don't use metaphor in most every statement they make about reality, just that the metaphor has generally become dead, or saturated in Bion's terminology. Often, advances in science cannot be made until a new metaphor is employed. For example, the so-called Newtonian worldview regarded the universe as a giant clock. Seeing it as such is definitely useful, and applying it to our experience discloses a range of additional "facts" to ponder. But eventually, facts are inevitably disclosed that don't fit the old metaphor.

That happened with the development of quantum and relativity theories, way back in the 20th century. There is simply no way to understand the quantum world with the clock metaphor. Rather, it is much more like an ocean, a roiling cauldron of ceaselessly flowing energy that tosses up exterior forms the same way the sea waves upon the shore. Or better yet, perhaps it's like the infinitely complex global weather system. We see things like distinct clouds, but we cannot see (with our eyes) that the cloud is simply an outwardly visible product of an inconceivably complex global weather system. Only Al Gore thinks he can see the latter, but of course his head is up his assumptions.... As Michael Crichton has written, Gore's linear paradigm is so last millennium.

I don't know if I want to get sidetracked here.... then again, maybe I do.... Whatever.... I'm just free associating anyway, following language where it leads.... but this is one of the things Joyce was up to in Finnegans Wake, which is a veritable sea of metaphor constructed out of dozens of languages. It is as if the usual solidity of language has "melted" and we are left with only the quantum realm, so to speak, from which it emerges. Throughout the book, various intrinsic complementarities clothe themselves in time and space with the dream logic of night. Just like the thing we call "history." You might say that Joyce shows us the complementarity between the different forms of logic in history and herstory, if you know what I meme.

In fact, one of the central philosophical ideas to emerge from quantum theory is that of complementarity. That is, we can never affirm one thing about the cosmos without "para-doxically" (which literally means "beyond speech") affirming its complementary opposite. Therefore, is the world made of particles? Yes. Is it made of waves? Yes. But these are opposites. Of course. Well, not really. They are complementary, co-arising simultaneously.

Other important irreducible complementarities in the manifest world include mind/matter, subject/object, unity/diversity, form/substance, individual/group, time/eternity, space/time, male/female, and Lennon McCartney.

Incidentally, one might be tempted to think that Democrat/Republican (or liberalism/leftism) represents a true complementarity, but it doesn't. The true complementarity is within conservatism itself (as always, I am speaking of the classical liberalism of our founders, the closest we have to a "perfect" political philosophy). Among others, it embodies the dynamic complementarity between liberty and order, and permanence and change. Leftism is not complementary to liberalism, any more than disease is complementary to health. Leftism is stultifyingly monolithic and denies many of the most important human complementarities that drive change and progress; for example, the complementarities between male and female, child and adult, sacred and profane, equality and liberty.

Furthermore, leftism imposes false complementarities such as good/evil. Only in this way can the left maintain that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Evil is not a complement of the Good, but its deprivation.

Nor are freedom and property complementary, the former being rooted in the latter; which in turn is rooted in the 2nd Amendment, which is to say, "don't steal my stuff or I might just shoot you, because if you steal property you are stealing liberty, and therefore human life and dignity itself."

Perfection/imperfection aren't complementary, either. Rather, imperfection is again a deprivation, a declension from the Absolute, as the celestial rays proceed from the vertical cosmic center to the periphery, which, as Schuon has written, "tends" toward a nothing that can never actually be realized. But the hardcore leftist feels a sort of frisson in riding the winds of the ray of creation all the way into the darkness of nihilism. The thrill of the fall, so to speak.

If you don't realize that imperfection is a necessary deprivation, you may be tempted to try to impose perfection from the herebelow, which is one the left's specialties. But as Russell Kirk wrote, conservatives well understand that human nature "suffers irremediably from certain grave faults":

"Man being imperfect, no perfect social order ever can be created. Because of human restlessness, mankind would grow rebellious under any utopian domination, and would break out once more in violent discontent -- or else expire of boredom. To seek for utopia is to end in disaster, the conservative says: we are not made for perfect things. All that we reasonably can expect is a tolerably ordered, just, and free society, in which some evils, maladjustments, and suffering will continue to lurk. By proper attention to prudent reform, we may preserve and improve this tolerable order. But if the old institutional and moral safeguards of a nation are neglected, then the anarchic impulse in humankind breaks loose: 'the ceremony of innocence is drowned.' The ideologues who promise the perfection of man and society have converted a great part of the twentieth-century world into a terrestrial hell."

A leftist-integralist blogger was impressed by the following quote from Ken Wilber, which is about as good an example of the need for buddhaflaw correcting as I could imagine:

"Spirit is not the good half of the opposites, but the ground of all the opposites, and our 'salvation,' as it were, is not to find the good half of the dualism but to find the Source of both halves of the dualism, for that is what we are in truth. We are both sides in the great Game of Life, because we -- you and I, in the deepest recesses of our very Self -- have created both of these opposites in order to have a grand game of cosmic checkers."

Please. This attitude, if applied to real life, would end in leftist horror. It is another false complementarity based upon partial understanding. For as Schuon writes,

"Assuredly it can be said that the Divinity is 'beyond good and evil,' but on condition of adding that this 'beyond' is in its turn a 'good' in the sense that it testifies to an Essence in which there could be no shadow of limitation or privation, and which consequently cannot but be the absolute Good, or absolute Plenitude."

The idea that conservatives "don't want change" is also preposterous. We do, and desperately. But we don't want to do it by renaming evil good. And we want to evolve toward the Good, not have it imposed by leftist elites with their own peculiar ideas about how we should live. The conservative, according to Kirk, feels

"affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and deadening egalitarianism [read: denial of complementarity] of radical systems. For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality. The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law; all other attempts at levelling must lead, at best, to social stagnation. Society requires honest and able leadership; and if natural and institutional differences are destroyed, presently some tyrant or host of squalid oligarchs will create new forms of inequality."

The so-called "progressive" fails to consider one of the truly enduring complementarities in governance, which is that whenever government does something for you, it does something to you. Which is why, according to Kirk,

"When a society is progressing in some respects, usually it is declining in other respects. The conservative knows that any healthy society is influenced by two forces..., its Permanence and its Progression. The Permanence of a society is formed by those enduring interests and convictions that gives us stability and continuity; without that Permanence, the fountains of the great deep are broken up, society slipping into anarchy. The Progression in a society is that spirit and that body of talents which urge us on to prudent reform and improvement; without that Progression, a people stagnate."

In other words, progress and permanence are complementary, not opposites: "the intelligent conservative endeavors to reconcile the claims of Permanence and the claims of Progression. He thinks that the liberal and the radical, blind to the just claims of Permanence, would endanger the heritage bequeathed to us, in an endeavor to hurry us into some dubious Terrestrial Paradise. The conservative, in short, favors reasoned and temperate progress; he is opposed to the cult of Progress, whose votaries believe that everything new necessarily is superior to everything old."

Clearly, "Change is essential to the body social, the conservative reasons, just as it is essential to the human body. A body that has ceased to renew itself has begun to die. But if that body is to be vigorous, the change must occur in a regular manner, harmonizing with the form and nature of that body; otherwise change produces a monstrous growth, a cancer, which devours its host. The conservative takes care that nothing in a society should ever be wholly old, and that nothing should ever be wholly new. This is the means of the conservation of a nation, quite as it is the means of conservation of a living organism" (Kirk).

Which is why I say that leftism is truly a death cult. Hey, don't believe me. Just judge it by its fruits. And nuts. And flakes. Speaking literally.


robinstarfish said...

From yesterday (because I have so much catching up left to do!)...

"Here, prior to thought,
by the headwaters of the eternal,
the fountain of innocence,
the mind shoreless vast and still,
absolved & absorbed in what is always the case, face to face in a sacred space."
- Petey

After spending the last 10 days traveling the Continental Divide a thousand miles north through the Canadian Rockies, dipping hands in the cold blue glacial runoff, beholding the majestic giants, and being in a constant state of awe, we come home feeling like we have 'traced the scriptures upstream.'

A highly recommended trip for anyone needing a soul recharge.

And now I'm looking forward to a leisurely hike through the OC today. ;-)

walt said...

Robin! Welcome back! You must haiku us all about your trip!

Bob -
A very insight-full post - weaving metaphors into the interplay of opposites, and leading us to really clear distinctions of political realities! I especially liked:

"...the intelligent conservative endeavors to reconcile the claims of Permanence and the claims of Progression."

By mis-judging political categories, and what constitutes the opposite, or the complement, or what is a deprivation, all our social discourse gets entirely skewed-up. In this regard, your post is very valuable! Important to be an intelligent conservative, and crucial to ultimately reconcile the issues we face. I think those two words express the difference in approach between right and left. The current proposals of leftists and Dems (a redundancy from the Deptartment of Redundancy Deptartment) leave my head feeling like it encountered a blunt object.

Is the idea of 'complementarity' a reflection of Hidden Dimensions? I am humbled just reading the reviews of that book!

And then there's this:
"...leftism is truly a death cult. Just judge it by its fruitcakes."

Ha-ha, more of your "repressed anger!"

Gagdad Bob said...

I haven't actually started reading that book, so I don't yet know if I can recommend it -- which is true of all books in the category of "what's Bob smoking?" Most books disappoint, but I don't know about this one. Maybe I can start it this afternoon, while Future Leader and his mother are napping.

walt said...

"Most books disappoint..."

Funny you should say that. I thought it was just me.

Anonymous said...

Nah, you don't really disappoint.

John said...

"Evil is not a complement of the Good, but its deprivation."

The breadth and depth of evil is ultimately bounded by the extent of good, for evil can do nothing but corrupt or destroy that which is good. If evil were to accomplish the destruction or corruption of everything that is good, it would have nothing left to do. It cannot create--that is the province of good; it cannot make more of the corrupted things, because that is merely duplication. Evil is incapable of existing without the good.

But surely good can exist without evil. Once all of the evils are banished, we can continue to build and create and love.

Nova said...

How come I can never express myself like this? There are so many times when I end up in conversations when the ability to express these ideas would make all the difference.

I am seriously considering implementing a SmartPhone-based compendium of Bobservations, indexed by topic. That way I'd be able to type in "materialism" and instantly bring up:

"There is nothing you can say about anything that isn't laden with implicit or explicit metaphors, which is one of the reasons why it is so absurd for the materialist to object to spirituality, since the idea of solid matter is itself a sort of airy metaphor, just a fanciful concept based upon the illusions of our nervous system, illusions like "solidity" or unambiguous "place." Scientists often conflate the abstract and the concrete, and essentially extend the concretions of the nervous system into an abstract worldview. Which is fine, so long as you don't confuse them with metaphysical truth, or with the Ultimate Real.

Just last night I would have killed to have that at my fingertips! I have no problem talking about complex engineering and business topics, but Bob's elegant and fluid way with loftier stuff eludes me.

Maybe I can get an intern to do it as a "training" project...

Nova said...

Speaking of a compendium, we really should get all the blog posts into a single, searchable format. If only we had an editor the posts could be distilled into an excellent book. Even one of those downloadable PDF-based books would be a treasure.

Cross-referencing, indexing and the like would be invaluable...

Gagdad Bob said...

Well then, who wants to be the officially credited Editor of the new book by going through the Knowa's Arkive, weeding out the lame or repetitive ones, and sharing the royalties which may or may not accrue? Raise your paw(s).

walt said...

Nothin' worse than starting something you can't finish....i.e. I don't know that I have the skills necessary.

So let's say: I'd like to help, if I can.

Rick said...

Smoov…I know the feeling. As usual, Bob has summed up our problem in just a few words. When communicating with lib/progressives I’ve found I have literally “forgotten how to think so stupid.” So I stopped trying. Now I leave the room or change the subject right away. This is obvious even to them – but I don’t care. I like them better this way.

Bob, I’ll proof read again.
Or Executive Editor – that’s sounds cool.

Welcome back, Robin!

Anonymous said...

Smoov said:
"we really should get all the blog posts into a single, searchable format. Cross-referencing, indexing and the like would be invaluable..."

I know the perfect compuNerd ask about this, since it's right down his alley.

Steak dinners have worked wonders in the past....

What else do we want it to do?

Rick said...

“Progress, whose votaries believe that everything new necessarily is superior to everything old."

Yes. As Rush has said these young progressives think history began the day they were born.

Rick said...

I thought Van was a vegetarian?

Rick said...

Walt, Ben,
Check out that last… oh, never mind…
(hey buddy)

walt said...

How come Ricky always gets to be Executive Editor??

Rick said...

Walt, we still need an Assistant Executive Editor.

Nova said...

I can help with technical stuff.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I'll be the Chief Financial Officer!
Just send all your money to me, and I'll keep track of it.


Okay, I promise there'll be no Benron type benboozeling.
And I got my own calculator, which I'll gladly donate to the cause. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Rick...buddy!
333 strikes again!

walt said...

Yes, I awoke at 3:33 AM Saturday.

Lord have mercy!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I'll also be more than happy to pilot the yacht Bob buys after the book hits number one.

All we gotta do is come up with a flashy title, like:
More Secret Than "the Secret" and Absolutely More Effective.

Oh, and the cover photo should be totally unrelated (the kidz love that crap)), with a photo like Spike's sexiest bartenders, which I'm sure Lisa will be glad to pose for.
Strictly in an artistic sennse of course.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

What serendipity! I was awake at 3:33 this mornin'!

walt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
walt said...

Serendipity...or a living hell?

You decide!

debass said...

Welcome back Robin. The Canadian Rockies are truly magnificent, and you have given me the opportunity to say Banfffffffff over and over again. There is something about that word.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
walt said...

Ling is one of the Chinese hells, Ben, as noted on your blog. Velly scary!

That's 4 spelling errors in 2 days for me -- I'm going to sleep! I'm aiming for 3:30-ish tomorrow!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

So "living" is "ling's" brother?

walt said...

Just look at the mess you and I made, Ben! Now Cuz will have to use the mop!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Well yeah, Walt.
It's called job creation.
Unemployment just went down again.

Anonymous said...

It is a beautiful drive Robin.

I remember one particular winter night at the Banff Springs Hotel when the pool had closed but we wanted to go swimming anyway. The architects had made the mistake of designing a walkway around the pool one level above it. Well we stripped down to nothing and jumped off.
We were able to open the locked doors from the inside once discovered but my usual uncanny sense of timing about when to leave, thus avoid authorities, was a little off and we were apprehended by the police on the long bridge exiting town. Luckily we weren't charged with anything, we had long since pounded our libations so they couldn't get us for that and I guess they didn't have any illegal skinny-dipping laws on the books. :^)

Van Harvey said...

I'd put together a utility to go back to day one of OC, and convert all posts & comments into xml, and also be able to add new ones as they come out.

Has an adhoc query that lets you search by post or post & comments/commentor. So you could run the query you had, or if you wanted to see what Will said about Glamour, it'd return posts & comments, etc.

I put it aside when Gagdad said he was going back to add category tags, but I'm sure those are simple tags to incorporate.

It's top of my want to do list... right up there with visiting my own blog (which I haven't been able to do in a month). Bloggers html is a bit cheesy, but if you point an intern to the viewsource and knowas archive for the indexing format, they should be able to figure out pretty quickly how retrieve all posts and tags & scrape them into xml, shouldn't take more than a day to do.
I'd planned to set it up with an option to spit results out to xml/xsl, Word or Microsofts Reader.lit format (I think it's the best for ebook's, certainly above adobe)...

Oh what I wouldn't give for a day.

Bummer of a day to miss.

And. Ricky. No. I'm. Not. A. Vegetarian.



Anonymous said...

“since the idea of solid matter is itself a sort of airy metaphor”
Yes, for what is solid matter? I suppose we all remember the illustration in science class showing the hydrogen atom with its proton in the center and the single orbiting electron. It seemed logical that a gas could be so empty, but how could the Iron (Fe) atom with 26 protons, 30 neutrons, and 26 electrons orbiting at 4 different distances from the center be so full of nothingness? Just hold a Steel (Iron) ball in your hand and look at the illustration of the atom to understand the metaphor of “Solid” matter.

NoMo said...

“since the idea of solid matter is itself a sort of airy metaphor”

Pretty much everything I know on the subject I learned from Buckarooo Banzai - quoting BB during the press conference after he "passed through" the mountain of "solid" rock...

"See this rock? It's solid matter, right? But in point of fact, the solid parts of this rock, the neutrons, quarks, protons, and electrons comprise only about one quadrillionth of its total volume...The rest of this rock is actually only empty space. So, back in 1937, Professor Hikita here and Dr. Emilio Lizardo figured that if solid matter was mostly empty space, then a person should be able to discover a way to travel inside things...See, by all accounts, it appears as though I literally went right through a mountain. But you could take that mountain, and pulverize it and sift through it like breadcrumbs for the rest of your natural life, and you would never, ever, find....THIS! (he pulls cover from a large beaker containing the alien thing he pulled from the jet car's driveshaft)... And yet, this living organism came from out of that mountain, even though I was never inside that mountain!

'Nuff said.