Friday, January 23, 2009

The Good Will Tour

Ever take a monkey on a five hour flight? Pictures to follow. Imagine ten Curious George episodes back to back, with me as the Man in the Yellow Hat... and pants, when his diaper leaked.

Can't do much else from here, but at least I can authorize a fresh Open Thread.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ugly Fantasies and Beautiful Truth

First of all, the obligatory fantasy analysis of Obama's otherwise vapid inauguration speech. This is the technique invented by psychohistorian Lloyd deMause to supposedly reveal "hidden emotional messages embedded within seemingly bland and boring speeches and press conferences of leaders." Its purpose is to attempt to "capture how it feels to be part of a nation's emotional life" by focusing only upon emotionally charged "fantasy words" that resonate with the unconscious mind. It operates under the assumption that any leader is also a fantasy leader who necessarily mirrors and shapes the group's unconscious emotions, needs and impulses.

As we just witnessed with President Bush, a leader who fails to resonate in this unconscious manner simply will not be perceived as effective, no matter how competent he is. From even before day one of his presidency, Bush was unable to use language in such a way as to bind up the anxiety and hatred of liberals. First, just as it is difficult for the non-evil to understand the evil, it's also difficult (at least without training) for the non-crazy to truly understand the crazy. On top of that, Bush never appreciated the level of liberal bitterness and resentment over Al Gore's unsuccessful attempt to exploit the judicial system to steal the presidency to which liberals were entitled.

Frankly, there is probably nothing he could have done about that short of deinstitutionalization of the tenured and media elite, which would have caused a huge new problem with homeless mentally ill.

In order to perform a fantasy analysis on a text, one records all strong feeling words (including anything related to the family, e.g., mother, father, baby) regardless of context, plus any unusual metaphors or gratuitously repeated words. One also eliminates negatives, because of the symmetrical logic of the unconscious, which converts a negation to an affirmation (for example, the more liberals complain about people questioning their patriotism, the more it emphasizes their lack thereof).

As deMause writes, "most political meetings are usually held not to make decisions but to deepen the social trance, to switch into political alters, and to entrain the group's unconscious emotional strategies for handling the inner emotional problems of its hidden world." Because liberals are by nature such emotional creatures who project so much unmetabolized emotion into politics, they are much more transparent in their fantasies (indeed, as is true of any more primitive group).

I have no idea whether or not fantasy analysis works. But I do know that it's fun, and that it can suggest surprisingly primitive emotional themes beneath what is an otherwise tedious formality. Anyway, here goes:

sacrifices... gathering clouds... raging storms... crisis... war... violence and hatred... badly weakened... greed... failure... adversaries... threaten... crisis... sapping of confidence... nagging fear... fear... conflict... discord... petty grievances... false promises... recriminations... worn-out... young... childish... strangled... lash of the whip... fought and died... struggled... sacrificed... raw... birth... crisis...

ground has shifted... consumed us... too big... too small... ill... ill... crisis... out of control... perils we can scarcely imagine... blood of generations... child... threats... threat...

terror... slaughtering innocents... broken... weakness... bitter swill... dark... old hatreds... conflict... ills... destroy... starved bodies... hungry minds... suffering... levees break... cut... darkest hours... child...

children... father... birth... coldest... dying... icy river... abandoned... enemy advancing... snow stained with blood... father... alarmed... danger... dangers... hardship... icy currents... storms... children's children...

Hmm. Lots about abused, threatened, and neglected children, capped off with cold, icy, and abandoning father. I wonder what that means?

More generally, it seems to me that Obama is attempting to induct us into a social trance in order to condition us to the extraordinary and unprecedented measures he will have to take in order to deliver us from the apocalyptic evils he lays out in the speech, i.e, the ground has shifted, things are spinning out of control, and we're about to be eaten by this threatening Moloch.

It would be one thing if he were using this overheated rhetoric to describe nazis or Islamists, and to mobilize us to recognize the danger. But let's face it: he's declaring war on the American way of life. Economically, he wishes to destroy America in order to save it. It all seems so appealing! I mean, he just promised to help all Americans get well paid jobs, free healthcare, and a dignified retirement. Government. What can't it do? (besides govern itself). Father has been ousted. Mother government to the rescue.

As the farcical Marx taught us, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. But what comes after that? We're still dealing with the tragedy of the New Deal and the farce of the Great Society. No doubt Obama is a farce to be reckoned with, but I see two possibilities. If we divide history into Petey's descending stages of Gods, Kings, Men, Weasels, Beasts, and Chaos, I think FDR would be the king, LBJ the man. Clinton was the weasel. This would suggest that we are about to enter a beastly chaos, from which the only solution would be the return to a new age of gods, or, more properly, God. God or chaos. Vertical Man or horizontal beast. Sounds about right.

Just remember: in the Age of Obama, dissent is no longer the highest form of patriotism but the last refuge of a scoundrel. But don't worry. Even if you're a white devil, you can still embrace what is right.


I hate touching pitch. That's enough of that. Let's move on. And in. And up. I'm hesitant to dive into the Balthasar business, because this may be the last post of the week. If I do go in that direction, it is very likely that it will take me the rest of the year to complete the project. So, do I really want to commit mysoph to that, especially since I don't know whether I can do it to begin with? Imagine Meditations on the Tarot, only x 15. Also, Balthasar makes Unknown Friend's rambling look like a monument to brevity.

Why Balthasar, anyway? Hell, I don't know. Just because that's where the Spirit has lead me, I guess. But if I do do this, I'm really going to have to hand things over to Bob's Unconscious for an extended period of time, because there's no way in the world that the conscious mind could ever wrap itself around this mammoth tusk. I'm afraid I'll end up driving the rest of the readers into extinction.

Then again, whenever I reach this impasse, I always return to my first principle. Which is what? I guess that this blog is primarily a personal spiritual exercise that you folks are allowed to peek in on. As soon as I deviate from O, I lose the interior thread. It reminds me of that film about Picasso, in which the camera is placed behind a glass canvas, so you can see him at work. This computer screen is like my canvas, and you folks are sitting behind it. Maybe I should even get one of those cameras, so you could see it happen in real time.

How to begin.... That is actually the first question which thought must ask of itself, and if you avoid that question, then it is likely that you'll never recover the Way. Appropriately, this is precisely where Balthasar begins: "Beginning is a problem not only for... the philosopher," but "a primal decision which includes all later ones for the person whose life is based on response and decisions."

This very first decision is one that remains with us and conditions, if not determines, all of our subsequent steps. Indeed, the first word we choose must be one which we "will not have to take back, one which [we] will not afterwards have to correct with violence, but one which is broad enough to foster and include all words to follow, and clear enough to penetrate all the others with its light."

Okay. So what is this first word? For Balthasar, the whole purpose of the first seven volumes of his theological trinity is to focus on the transcendental category of beauty in order to reveal the truth of God. Thus, "Beauty is the word that shall be our first." That beauty exists, no one could deny. "Glory" is the name we give to divine beauty, another property that no proper human could deny (although improper ones may well insist that this beauty is only in the beholder, and that the experience of it does not correspond to any real object or inhere in the world).

Thus, the first seven volumes of Balthasar's trilogy deal with beauty; the second five with the good (the theo-drama); and the last three with truth (the theo-logic). Of the three, Balthasar clearly feels that beauty is first among equals, in that it radiates the other two transcendentals in a particularly holistic manner (each of the transcendentals participates in the other two; I would go so far as to say that they share the same substance in three modes, so to speak). As Balthasar puts it, beauty "dances as an unconstrained splendour around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another."

It is one thing to "speak truth to power," which has nearly become a cliche due to liberal abuse. But how about speaking beauty to power? To speak beauty to the ugliness and barbarism that surrounds us? Who shall speak beauty to a degraded art, to a sterile and technocratic knowledge, and to a human being rendered ugly through the degradations of materialism, leftism, and metaphysical Darwinism?

A world that isn't penetrated at every moment by the divine beauty is surely not worth living in. Such a world would be a living hell, minus the living. "Naked matter remains as an indigestible symbol of fear and anguish." The human soul, who is meant to be the "bride of God," is instead forced into an arranged marriage, an impossible union with the "object of his impotence," "which finally spoil's man's taste for love."

Furthermore, in a world without beauty, "the good also loses its attractiveness, the self-evidence of why it must be carried out." Once we have descended to this plane, it is but a step to the other side, "for this too is a possibility, and even the more exciting one: Why not investigate Satan's depths?" Lies, ugliness, transgression. Vanquish beauty and you have vanquished the mystery of Being, so the mystagogic and mystifying non-being of various alternative universes becomes the default position. You can no longer even speak to people with the language of divine beauty, for they have forgotten how to perceive it, let alone appreciate its connection to total truth.

Yes, "the Witness borne by Being becomes untrustworthy for the person who can no longer read the language of beauty," for such a person cannot know the interior language of God. The Word and its world have become illegible. He is of the world, but no longer in it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The King is Dea... Wait, Not So Fast! (1.09.10)

I'm starting to get a little worried that President Bush isn't going to go ahead with the theofascist takeover. What's he waiting for?

There's no way I have time to write an all-new post this morning. However, in the spirit of the occasion, I'm revisiting something I wrote a few years ago, because if our cOOnvision is truly omniscient, it should help us to understand our political future. The bottom line, people, is that there is nothing to be afraid of. These men are nihilists. Fucking amateurs. They're out of their element. And they're about to enter a world of pain. As Walter Sobchak himself said, Nothing is fucked here, Dude. Come on, you're being very un-Dude.

When I say that the Obamanauts are about to enter a world of pain, I mean that they will eventually know the dark side of the wave of fantasy upon which they are riding. Only in this case, it seems unusually dark, for it is the same darkness that currently attaches to President Bush. As much as he is hated, Obama is loved, and for reasons that are equally insane because they are a precise and predictable function of each other.

They say that Obama represents the "longings" of a new generation, but I don't believe that at all. Rather, this is baby-boomer 101, the last gasp of a generation that is fueled by a pathological idealism that is just the other side of its dark cynicism.

Although we focus on the moonstream media and their political action wing, the Democrat party, there is probably not enough blame placed on that grazing multitude known as the American public. For if the public were only more sophisticated, they wouldn’t fall for the arguments presented by the left, which rely upon a high degree of emotionality matched by a low degree of logic. Political analysts implicitly assume that people’s attitudes and opinions are the result of rational reflection, but in fact, it has been estimated that fewer than ten percent of the American public are reliably in Piaget’s highest cognitive developmental stage of formal operations thinking. And even then, one cannot escape the cosmic law of bullshit in --> bullshit out.

According to psychohistorian Lloyd deMause, “Most of what is in history books is stark raving mad -- the maddest of all being the historian’s belief that it is sane.” He believes that large groups are almost always driven more by fantasy than reality. Different nations and groups have different “group fantasies” which are designed not to negotiate with reality but to contain fears and anxieties. For example, the further back in history one travels, the more one can identify group fantasies that clearly have no basis in fact and are driven by irrational anxiety and fear -- witch hunts, senseless wars, racial scapegoating. But so long as one can detach from the madness and survey the contemporary psycho-political scene with even-hovering attention, one can see it just as clearly in the present.

For example, the entire “war on terror” is being waged against Islamist fantasists who are completely out of touch with reality. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make it easier to combat them, but more difficult. Israel has been fighting a version of this fantasy since its very inception, but in truth, Jews have been at war with paranoid anti-Semitic fantasists for over two thousand years. Fantasies are obviously quite lethal. The most persistent fantasy is that the God of Israel is not real, which is why the Jews are and will always be targets of the evil ones, whether it is the fantasists of Islam or of the left.

The important point is that the fantasy precedes the reality, and will look for conditions in external reality to support it, identical to the manner in which the paranoid mind operates. According to deMause, the state of the group fantasy is what national opinion polls actually capture. That is, they take a snapshot of the “mood of the country,” which mostly consists of “gut feelings” that have varying degrees of connection to actual conditions, and more to do with the shifting nature of the group fantasy.

Remember, the bulk of the population is not thinking logically, so it doesn’t matter how many cognitively mature individuals there are at the margins of a poll. That the economic downturn was largely caused by Democrat regulation (e.g., the Community Reinvestment Act) is inconsequential. In contrast, FDR was able to sustain a unifying group fantasy despite economic polices that aggravated and extended the Great Depression for years.

Likewise, job one for Obama will be to forge and sustain a unifying fantasy, not to deal with reality. This is one of the reasons the Democrats will be unable to let go of President Bush, because they desperately need him as a "poison container" in order to keep the toxins out of Obama (more on which below). This is a somewhat unique situation, because it means that the Democrats in effect will want us to have two fantasy leaders, which reminds me of how the infant splits the world into a good and bad breast.

A national opinion poll doesn’t necessarily provide objective information about actual circumstances, but certainly tells us how it “feels” to be part of a historical group at a particular time. Not only that, but deMause turns the presidential “approval rating” on its head. He doesn’t believe that it actually measures approval so much as disapproval about how effectively or ineffectively a leader is “containing” the public’s anxiety. Negative passions are much more influential, which is why truly happy people have little impact on politics, since it would never occur to them that a politician is responsible for their happiness. But unhappy people find all sorts of illusory reasons to explain their unhappiness, including politics.

Just as the group is mainly driven by fantasy, it is primarily looking for a leader who can reassure it about the world and diminish its anxiety. In this regard, it is a mistake to think of the leader as an oedipal parent; the process is much more primitive, involving the need for preverbal and pre-oedipal (before the age of three) projection and containment, which is in turn much more "psychotic" and fantasy laden, since it escapes the reach of language. Using this method, one would not say that President Bush has a 25% approval rating, but a 75% “toxicity” rating. Meanwhile, Obama has what, a 12% toxicity rating? As soon as he actually does something, he will begin to accumulate toxins, and this number will rise.

This is one of the reasons it is so wearying to be president, because it involves the day-to-day processing of so much irrational projection of hatred and anxiety (and in the case of the US President, these projections uniquely come from the entire world).

All therapists know how difficult it is to deal with just one borderline patient in their practice, but it is as if a president must deal with the projections of millions of difficult patients who are irrationally experiencing him as either their savior or as evil incarnate. The president must be a receptacle for continuous projections from various levels of emotional immaturity and unreality. And in the case of President Bush, who never fought back and engaged with the projections, it only made that part of the population more enraged with him, just as a borderline patient would feel outraged if the therapist did not take their perceptions seriously, no matter how crazy (or a child will become more enraged at the parent if you don't take the pain behind their "I hate you!" seriously).

Another critical point -- and one of the most important things I learned in my training -- is that idealization is a powerful defense mechanism that serves to protect its recipient from rage, contempt, or devaluation. So if a patient is immediately angry with me, I can deal with that. It's a relief, because they are at least in touch with their feelings. But if they come in and immediately idealize me, then I know that I am in for a bumpy ride, for when the idealism wears off, I will be blamed. It's like, "how dare you not be perfect!" (This is why trolls don't bother me as much as someone who wants to see me as Guru B'ob. You can imagine.)

It is fascinating to note that as the left became so out of touch with their fantasies about President Bush, they came to imagine that he actually did fight back in the most dangerous and extreme ways -- that he didn't tolerate dissent, that he questioned people’s patriotism, that he destroyed our civil rights, that he punished ideological enemies, that he defecated on the Constitution (you can read that projection with braille!). Pure projection. The reality that is “seen” by the left is driven by their own fantasies. (Now they even want to put him in jail; this is exactly what Future Leader says when he's really pissed off at us: "You're in jail! Time out forever!)

deMause notes that people who are stripped of important group fantasies will feel like they are going crazy -- just as primitive groups who are suddenly “decultured” of the myths that have served to organize their cognitive/emotional world. (You will note that no one on the right is "going crazy" over Obama, whereas the left lurched toward insanity right away, to such an extent that they even attempted to steal the 2000 election through the courts.)

It is fair to say that the left has been dealing with this sort of primitive anxiety since the 1980’s, as their various political fantasies have been discredited one by one. But just like a religious group that predicts the second coming, the majority of leftists simply dig in their heels when their predictions prove false. This shows the extent to which outward political ideology often rests on a deeper structure of irrational fantasy that is nearly impossible to eradicate. I think it also explains all of the manic and irrational giddiness we are seeing in the media, as their fantasies are restored.

And now we come to the future. deMause outlines a four-part process that the fantasy leader undergoes in relation to the group. At first the group will see him as unrealistically strong, magically able to unify the group and keep enemies at bay. Certainly we saw this in the months after 9-11, when President Bush was so popular. Again, his popularity had little to do with the actual merits of his policies, but with the public’s need to feel safe, and the feeling that Bush would protect them. Obviously, this is where Obama is, except that the omnipotent fantasies of strength surrounding him are unusually grandiose and primitive.

Stage two is the “cracking” stage, when the feelings of magical nurturing begin to deteriorate, so that the public’s mood begins to feel unstable and dangerous. The leader begins to be experienced as weak, unable to control events. Here again, when this happens, look for the left to frantically attempt to re-project all of this into President Bush, in order to perpetuate the fantasy.

Stage three, “collapse,” occurs when the public begins to feel that the fantasy leader is helpless to prevent catastrophe -- when the group’s anxiety has become unhinged and uncontained in a completely unrealistic way. This brings on pure rage and free-floating paranoid fantasies of death and destruction. Thus, in the case of President Bush, he was unrealistically blamed and vilified for all sorts of things outside his control -- hurricane Katrina, rising gas prices, "global warming," the Democrat-fueled housing bubble, etc. At this stage, the fantasy leader is seen as weak and vulnerable, which triggers a wave of near homicidal anxiety that aims to purify the group by ritual slaying of the divine king, identical to what took place in the most primitive tribes. So today is not just the coronation of the new king, but the ritual blood sacrifice of the old one. But he was scourged for so long, that he was virtually dead anyway -- or only "alive" with primitive projections.

Obama doesn't seem prone to locate our enemies externally, where they actually exist, i.e., in Islam. But every theology needs a satan. Again, for this reason, I think the fantasists of the left will be unable to "let go" of President Bush, since he has become so vital to their psychic equilibrium. But they don't fool us.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Drinking Diamonds From the Firehose and Swallowing the Mine

First a little housekeeping. I will be indisposed -- in-lawdisposed, to be exact -- this Thursday through Sunday. No, I'm not asking for your pity. I just wanted to alert you -- all nine of you -- that I'm not sure what you will see in this space. You may see nothing. You may see lightly soiled reruns. Perhaps you will see some spasmodic blasts, more in the fashion of a normal blogger who gives you the rudimentary courtesy of not taxing your time or attention. We'll just have to play it by ear.

Then, after that -- I have no idea, as usual. The thing is, as I said, I am bound and determined to make my way through Balthasar's sprawling -- and I do mean sprawling -- 15 volume systematics. I've almost breezed through volume one, and I have volumes two and three on deck. It's probably -- no, it is -- the most challenging thing I've ever attempted to assimilate, although I suppose truly assimilating Aurobindo would be equally, if not more, daunting, since he was less systematic to begin with. In reading his most recent biography, it seems that the majority of Aurobindo's writings, regardless of how public, were more like a running journal of his own experiences -- as if his attitude was, "If you want to climb aboard, fine, if not, feel free to stay down on the tarmac, but I'm not slowing down."

I'm sure that on a certain level, Balthasar's writings may be seen in the same way, except that he at least attempted with all his heart, soul, and mind to fit his expansive vision into the pre-existing archetypes of Christian dogma, whereas Aurobindo was constantly inventing new terms and categories for his.

Here we can appreciate the virtue of dogma, as it is again analogous to, say, a system of musical theory and notation that allows us to produce music that is both harmonically (vertically) and melodically (horizontally) complex, not to mention interacting (in other words, vertical and horizontal flow together like a wild vine growing up a fixed post -- or better, yet, a living tree -- with the passage of time).

To appreciate the depth of this truth is to know that no man could have invented these dogmas that are so adequate to the transdimensional object they disclose (or simultaneously veil and reveal). People ask why revelation has to be the way it is. The reason is that nothing less can begin to serve as an adequate image and container of the Divine. It's like asking Mozart why he couldn't express himself in the form of a three minute pop single. Not to knock the three minute pop single, since a great single is superior to a bad symphony, just as a healthy joke is superior to the entire works of Deepak Chopra, being that he is a sick joke.

The thing is, Balthasar doesn't give any consideration whatsoever to the reader. He just spews away with the firehose, while you've come in for a little spiritual refreshment. I wonder if this is because he started his own publishing house in order to publish his works? Most writers need an editor. They're not like me, compact and pithy 24/7/365/∞.

Come to think of it, not only is Balthasar the stylistic opposite of Schuon, I'm not sure I would even be able to "organize" Balthasar without having previously assimilated Schuon. Schuon is like a diamond cutter, producing these perfect little multifaceted gems of prose. I don't think I've ever read anyone who was simultaneously so precise and yet pregnant. Indeed, you could say that he is the perfect combination of male and female, absolute and infinite, spirit and letter, form and substance, container and contained.

Balthasar, on the other hand, is like the whole diamond mine. It's one thing to read him. That's the easy part. But how do you get your mind around it? How do you cut through it to find its organizing principle, its deep structure? How to trancelight him into plain Coonglish? It reminds me of something you cannot map, because in order to do so, the map would have to be equally as complex as the territory.

Imagine having to carry around a map as big as the cosmos in order to understand the cosmos. Instead, we can map it with a few equations. But the higher up the food chain you go, the harder this is to do. For example, by the time you get to a human being, it is absurd to think that even the most detailed biography would ever be an adequation to the person.

But what about God, then? How does one create a "theography" adequate to Him? Once again, I give you the miracle of revelation -- of God having the courtesy not just to reveal himself to man, but to reveal himself as a man. That's pretty freaking awesome, that the Ultimate Universal can be refracted through a particular existent in such a way that we can actually begin to grasp it, even if, simultaneously -- and of necessity -- it must always elude our grasp, on pain of not actually being God.

This, BTW, is what the atheists do not understand: that if they could comprehend God in some simple way adequate to their little minds, it would not be God. Rather, revelation must paradoxically combine knowability with unknowability, transparency with opacity, light with divine darkness, consolation with desolation. God cannot be analogous to a mathematical equation, which is necessarily true and therefore eliminates man's freedom.

In this regard, we see the implicit relationship between faith and freedom, which is why only the faithful are truly free. In other words, man is free to accept or reject God. He is not really free to reject gravity, or math, or physics, or the infield fly rule. But he can reject beauty. He can reject goodness. He can -- and therefore must -- reject the designated hitter. And he can reject the Truth of revelation -- which is an elliptical proof of its Truth. Nothing less than the sustained tension of this paradox would be faithful to its object, paradox being a threshold of truth.

Now.... now what? Yes, might as well wrap up Bolton. We were discussing salvation and the personal self, and I think I see a connection with what we've been discussing above. Bolton writes that "What we call the completed life is the sum total of all the person's being, as a single organism extending from conception to death" (emphasis mine).

Here again, this is why you could never create a biographical map adequate to the person. For one thing, note the above emphasis on being. If we equate "being" with those moments when we have been truly "alive," how could you ever capture this in a book? The secret autobiography of our life -- and its real continuity -- is written with the ink of Self on the pages of Being, is it not?

Yes, to the extent that we survive what is called "death," this would be what survives, the being we have assimilated into the Self, and the Self we have assimilated into being. After all, it would be absurd to believe in life after death if you were never alive to begin with.

Thus we see that "in heaven, memory is swallowed up in reality," the reality of eternal being.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Secret History of the Transdimensional Raccoons

I get a fair number of emails expressing sentiments to the effect of "love the blog, but what's a Raccoon?" I'm not sure I can answer that question in the space of a post, but evidently I attempted to do so a couple of years ago, because here it is:

Let's begin before the beginning. How far back can we trace the Raccoon lineage through history? A venerable Raccoon piety maintains that we have no historical origin, and that we antedate the creation of the universe. We were there, if not at God's right hand, then in his hair. In fact, truth be told, we were even ambivalent about this whole creation business. Why do it? Why go to all the bother? Why a cosmos? Wh--


Then all of a sudden, here we were, stuck down here in 4D.

(The above cave sketch was found at Lascaux, and dates from approximately 40,000 years ago. The Raccoons left Lascaux shortly thereafter, as soon as they realized it was located in France. It obviously depicts some sort of primitive religious ritual, possibly aimed at the French. Courtesy Julie, who reproduced it from vertical memory.)

But when God exteriorized his interior and involved himself in the so-called logolilia, or WordPlay, of creation, we were swept up in the general mayhem and confusion, and ended up in human form. So it definitely could have been worse, which is why Raccoons are always grateful. After all, we could have been French.

But very early in their earth-career, Raccoons had to learn to "pass," something we have been doing ever since. Even today, due to millennia of genetic selective pressure, we are the only humans who, for genetic reasons, instinctively recoil at being a member of a species that would have us.

The Raccoon is distinct from the prototypical human, for he is not exactly a social animal nor is he a solitary animal. Rather, he craves companionship, but particularly with fellow Raccoons, since they are so scarce. The trick down through history has been locating them, especially since the great diaspora from upper Tonga.

For example, it is well understood that our genetic line has become weakened because of the difficulty of locating a fellow Raccoon with whom to maintain proper coonjugal relations. How many readers have both a Raccoon mother and father? Being that he is a foolblooded Raccoon, my own 3.5 year-old kit is somewhat unusual (a "kit" is a young raccoon). I wonder if this will make his life easier or more difficult? No doubt both, because his longing to find coontemporaries will be all the more intense.

Like the story of the lion that was raised by sheep, the literature abounds with poignant strories of Raccoons who have tried to "fit in" with the world, all the while sensing that something was deeply wrong or missing if they were to succeed. Not a presumptuous breed, all but the heartiest Raccoons have tended to blame themselves for this, leading to the well-known phenomenon of the "self-hating Coon."

As we know, certain persistent traits set the Raccoon apart from his peers, including a sense of essential Truth, a sense of the sacred, a sense of beauty, a sense of the eternal, a sense of grandeur (or dignity), a sense of mischief, a sense of soul-smell (or stench, depending on the case), a sense of the ridiculous, and a tendency toward ecstasy (often at inopportune moments). Taken together, these comprise his "cOOnvision," accounting for his laughably quasi-infallibility in metaphysical matters ("laughty revelations," or "inrisible powers"). But this mystical intuition is balanced by deep humility and charity, to such an extent that many humans don't even realize it when there is an "unassuming Raccoon" in their midst. Hence the title of the unpublishable cult classic, The 'Coon Next Door.

Other tawdry books (often incorporating awful puns that we know could not be authentic) have attempted to cash in on the Raccoon phenomenon. Their titles are well known: The One-Minute Raccoon, Tuesdays with Rocky, Raw Chicken for the Raccoon Soul, Awakening the Hibernating Raccoon Within, Raccooneritis, Jesus was a Capricoon, Deepak is a Hideous Spiritual Psychopath, etc.

But as we all know, a Raccoon is not something you can "become," only recognize and actualize. It cannot be conferred upon you (except by Petey through the mystical channel of the sacred "book purchase"), nor can it be taken away. In truth, nothing extrinsic can add to or diminish one's Raccoon nature (unless you order two books or purchase an indulgence from Petey). It is a matter of becoming who you already are, or overcoming one's "vertical I-AMnesia."

Now, as it concerns Raccoon dogma, the Raccoon has the well-attested bi-cosmic ability to simultaneously stand "within" and "above" tradition -- but only above because within. Thus, the Raccoon does not "fly," nor does he crawl. Rather, he walks -- sometimes on two legs, sometimes on four, but always with paws firmly planted on the earth. Indeed, he is the lowest of the logoistic, hence his "earthereal" nature. The loftiest theology may mingle side by side with the simple "rhythm and blues" of the American negro tradition, or the sentimental "country and western" so loved by the bitter white trash of the "red states."

The Raccoon is an unquenchably curious creature. When it comes to learning, he is an "intelligent omnivore," meaning that his education may be a desultory and chaotic affair, at least upon superficial consideration. But for the Raccoon, the answer is the disease that kills curiosity, and, being that he wishes to be eternally disease-free, he ultimately knows Nothing in order to know Everything. In this regard, he is absolutely distinct from his archetypal opposite, AKA, the tenured, i.e., those who know everything about nothing.

As we all know, the word "raccoon" is actually derived from the Algonquian word aroughcoune, "he who scratches with his hands," in our case, our heads. Raccoons vertitably come into the world "scratching our heads," and for many, the itch is never satisfied. Many Raccoon parents will good-naturedly compete over whose kit scratched his head at an earlier age, but research shows that it doesn't really matter, and that late-scratchers normally catch up with their peers.

When one Raccoon greets another with the phrase, "How's 'yer bloody scalp?," it means "what eternal verity have you learned today?," as if to suggest blood emanating from the head due to the incessant scratching and "coontemplating." In fact, it is fair to say that true Raccoon knowledge always comes at the cost of real blood.

As we know, the Raccoon is a nocturnal animal, both literally and metaphorically. Epistemologically, his "night vision" is a complement to the "day vision" of the rank and foul human. Being that his cOOnvision allows him to "see in the dark," theology and metaphysics come naturally to him, whereas certain "practical" matters, such as how to dress appropriately, or please the in-laws, may be a closed book.

As day vision is to the head, night vision is to the heart, meaning that the center of cerebral activity for the Raccoon is in the chest region. This is not to be confused with the unmoored emotionality of his human brethren, especially his liberal sisterly brethren, who habitually confuse intensity of feeling with depth of thought. Rather, the Raccoon heart represents the higher unity of the modes of thinking and feeling. Furthermore, it is always mingled with doing, which is to say action. The Raccoon "lives his realization," rather than merely thinking or feeling it. This is the paradox of our "higher non-doodling." We may look like we're just doodling around, but we're not. My in-laws will never understand this.

We have all seen baby Raccoons who sleep "upside down." In fact, Raccoons are born "upside down," which, for us, is "right side up." In practical terms, it means that Raccoons are born with a different textual orientation to the cosmos than our human counterparts (like the Hebrews, who read from right to left, except we do so from up to down). Specifically, the Raccoon comes into the world with figure and ground reversed, so that their primary orientation is to eternity rather than time. Thus, their birthright is a state of being that would represent the culmination of a lifetime's spiritual practice for the non-Raccoon.

But it is not as if this cosmic disorientation represents an unqualified blessing, since it contributes to the Raccoon's alienation, not to mention equivocal financial circumstances. He may not be particularly "worldly," and in fact, it would represent something of an aberration if he were. Much of what the world regards as being of the utmost significance will, for the Raccoon, represent urgent nonsense, or what one poetic Raccoon called "dying of miscellany." The Raccoon is always being "Reasonable," if not necessarily "reasonable," which can lead to friction with other humans. What they call "reality," we call a tight-fitting dream garment woven from the gooey substance of the dreamer.

There is a certain natural "detachment" in the Raccoon, as if he can never completely give himself over to the illusions of the world. And since their primary orientation is to eternity rather than time, they can find it exceedingly difficult to get all excited about this particular time. At the very least, he won't get caught up in the momentary "tempest of the day," as if it has some eternal significance. It is not uncommon for certain Raccoons to feel as if they were "born at the wrong time," but the fact of the matter is, for a Raccoon, time itself is the wrong time. However, once this is realized, then any time can be the right time. Or at least no worse than any other time.

It is difficult to gauge the historical significance of Raccoons, since their influence largely goes unnoticed by those who write history. Indeed, their contributions cannot be weighed on the scales of the world. Rather, their influence is always qualitative, interior, invisible, and occult. Although not visible to the "historians of the day," one can nevertheless draw a straight line from Raccoon to Raccoon down through the night time of history, and it is the task of each Raccoon to stand in this line, make it "come alive," and hand it down to the next generation. Thus, we have our "tradition" -- tradition defined as the vertical prolonged into the horizontal -- but it is a hidden one, i.e, "the invisible church of perpetual slack."

The Raccoon has one natural enemy who takes many forms, and many supernatural friends who reflect one form. A "coongregation" occurs when any two Raccoons meet "in His gnome." The Raccoons can be from any tradition, but will nevertheless joyfully recognize each other as "brothers under the pelt." Naturally, they will often find that they have more in common with each other than with the human members of their own traditions. Thus, there are Christian Raccoons, Jewish Raccoons, and esoteric Vadantacoons, but the opposite is not true -- there is no doctrinal "Raccoon Christianity," for example.

Although Coons can look pretty sluggish at times, they do not actually hibernate. Rather, they go through a period of decreased activity, which is referred to as the "daily torpor." All Coon children know that this torpor lasts until the school bell rings. It was once assumed that adult Coons outgrew this torpor, but it can often persist into one's work life.

Typical upside-down kit trying to find his way in the world:

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