Saturday, May 09, 2009

Darwinian Delusions and the Codifying of Unintelligence

So, during an idle moment I briefly googled myself last night, and was somewhat surprised to learn that even some people on our side don't like me. And I guess a lot more would simply dismiss me as a crank if only I were more well known. I suppose I shouldn't actually be surprised, since I'm guessing that a lot of the "religious right" would see me as a new ager, or a dangerous gnostic, or a kooky cultist, or something like that. (Schuon once said something to the effect of "the people we like, tend not to like us; and the people we do not like, like us." I can relate, because I don't think Schuon would like me very much.)

One person wrote that "I dislike Gagdad Bob’s stuff. The essay to which you’ve linked provides a good example of my reasons. It’s discursive, incoherent, and unbearably pompous; reading such a thing all the way to the end should entitle the reader to an award for endurance. While speaking of why he’s not peddling his self-aggrandizement out in the world, he postures as an Anything Authority behind the thin cover of a nom de plume.... Give me a plainspoken man who can focus, make his point, and shut up."

Another person wrote that my writing "was harder than hell to follow, but I think I agree with what Bob is saying. He actually is quite good with ideas, but I think is afflicted by the same malediction that I am: the curse of the incessant rambler. This means that while his ideas are excellent, he struggles mightily to communicate them to others."

Or this one: "I am as exasperated sometimes by Gagdad Bob as you are. The original Teflon therapist. So used to being needed too much by hurting people that he overvalues his own opinions when they are really no more than just another searching sinner's notes along the way..."

Nevertheless, a compliment: "he's still good entertainment. Plenty of narcissistic jerks are good for diversion... "

Let's see: discursive, incoherent, unbearably pompous, authoritarian, convoluted, unfocused, rambling, needy, grandiose, narcissistic jerk. And that's just my friends!

The "funny" thing is that I try to be the opposite of these badjectives. To a certain extent, any lack of total coherence has to do with the nature of the subject, which can never be contained, only approached and orbited (at least with words).

I do want to be provocative, but never for its own sake. Rather, in order to talk about God, a little destruction is always necessary -- i.e., some disassembly required. This is because the lower mind has to somehow be bypassed, so that it doesn't imagine it has contained or saturated the subject. Why do you think Jesus spoke in parables? After all, he was the Word, and yet, his own words are often "vague" and "ambiguous." And he was careful not to leave a paper trail, for what do you suppose people would have done with it? They would have undoubtedly confused his words with the Word to which they point, i.e., himself.

Sorry for being so rambly. But I was thinking of this while selecting this oldie from two years ago. I mean, as far as I am concerned, it's a model of clarity that makes religion accessible to the intelligent person who is stuck-on-smart, and thinks he has to leave his mind outside the door if he wants to be religious. And never confuse pomposity with fine insultainment, nor frivolous humor with guffah-HA! experiences.

Oh well. On to the post;

One of the keys to the understanding of our true nature and of our ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world never measure up to the real range of our intelligence. Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or it is nothing. Among all the intelligences of this world the human spirit alone is capable of objectivity, and this implies -- or proves -- that what confers on our intelligence the power to accomplish to the full what it can accomplish, and what makes it wholly what it is, is the Absolute alone. --Schuon

Atheists like to say that it is not incumbent upon them to prove that God doesn't exist. Rather, the burden is on believers to prove that he does. But since the vast majority of human beings are and always have been believers, I would turn the question around and ask, how is it that the atheist is so much stronger and intelligent than the rest of us, able to fearlessly overcome his own genetic programming and look reality straight in the eye, with no comforting delusions?

Of course, if our religiosity is genetically hardwired into us -- having been selected by nature to help adapt us to unreality or unadapt us to reality -- the atheist's strange ability to transcend it doesn't exactly speak well of the discipline of evolutionary psychology. Rather, it is more of an undiscipline, because it can't even control its own unruly causality.

Oh well. Better to faithfully hew to an incoherent absurdity than cede an inch to a coherent one such as religion. As Berlinksi points out, the philosophy of scientism always ends up turning on itself and consuming its own. The head dies first, followed by the heart (or is it the other way around?). As a result of this devolution -- in which the higher dies to the lower -- we're left with Homo crapiens, the deconstructing ape (also known as Tenured Man, for whom cynicism is the highest truth. He cannot see a simple truth because he has no vision, only revision).

This all goes to the fact that the bonehead atheist or doctrinaire Darwinian denies the sufficient reason for man's intelligence. In short, the Darwinian must either plead that there is no explanation for a miraculous intelligence that infinitely surpasses the needs of survival (i.e., eating, mating, and publishing academic drivel); or that we don't actually know any real truth, so that our vaunted intelligence is really a form of arrogant and self-deluded stupidity. But if either of these scenarios are true, it is again difficult to comprehend how nature has somehow produced these atheistic Superapes, or big know-nothing-at-alls.

It's really quite simple, and don't let these cunning sophists try to tell you otherwise: if metaphysical Darwinism is true, it can't be; and if man can know Truth, then natural selection cannot fully explain his existence. Thus, "If intelligence is the capacity to discern 'substances' through 'accidents' or independently of them, 'concretism' can only be described as a kind of philosophical codifying of unintelligence" (Schuon).

It reminds me of a skit I once heard on the radio, involving a man who was so irritated by being placed on hold by a receptionist, that he struggled and broke through its "barrier," back on the line. The receptionist kept placing him on hold, but with sheer force of will, he kept breaking through anyway. Now, natural selection has placed all of us on hold for eternity, and Reality isn't taking any calls. And yet, the Darwinian fights his way through his genes and manages to speak to (and for) the boss, i.e., Truth.

Let us remind ourselves just what is the scope of human intelligence: through it, man is able to reconcile himself to the Infinite, the Absolute, the Eternal. Man's intelligence cannot be surpassed by any potentially "higher" intelligence, for it is already potentially total, which is to say, adequate or proportioned to the Real.

In fact, if we didn't partake of this absolute intellect, we couldn't even know of the relative, which is why, ironically, the cynicism and skepticism of the bonehead atheist is living proof of the transcendent Absolute: "even in their blasphemy they praise him." The intellect may know the principle because it sees the appearances. The profane mind reduces everything to appearances, but then eliminates the principial That of which they are a manifestation, leaving these smirking cats without so much as a Cheshire to back it up.

(As always, we are speaking of the intellect, the nous, not the empirical, or merely logical, ego: "The intellect knows through its very substance all that is capable of being known and, like the blood flowing through even the tiniest arteries of the body, it traverses all the egos of which the universe is woven and opens out 'vertically' on the Infinite" [Schuon].)

Being that I believe human beings are in the image of the Creator, this is hardly a surprise to me (only a perpetual shock), nor is it a problem for my metaphysics. But for the Darwinian, it can only represent a miracle, pure and simple -- again, unless we can't actually know truth, then it's not a problem. But if that were true, then we also couldn't know the truth of Darwinism, so the argument is self-defeating. Scientism devours yet another immature mind.

If the sorry Homo saps sophering from materialitis and reductionosis were correct, our transcendent intelligence would have no cause and no explanation. Oddly, we would have this vast intelligence corresponding to... nothing instead of everything (and make no mistake, it's either one or the other, being that the ontological gap between Truth and Falsehood is infinite; 2+2 cannot kinda sorta be 4 -- it either is or isn't).

Obviously, no other animal has an intelligence that infinitely exceeds the necessities of survival. Rather, whatever intelligence they possess is easily reduced to its sufficient cause located somewhere in the environment, i.e., survival needs. But what is the sufficient cause of poetry, art, humor, music? Of mathematical truth, aesthetic truth, metaphysical truth? As I said in the Summa Coonologica, these are "luxury capacities" that are as different from animal intelligence as life is from matter.

To quote Arthur Koestler, "[T]he evolution of the human brain not only overshot the needs of prehistoric man, it is also the only example of evolution producing a species with an organ which it does not know how to use; a luxury organ, which will take its owner thousands of years to learn how to put to proper use -- if he ever does."

And luxury is an apt word, for it is a kind of extravagant, or de-luxe Light placed in the middle of nowhere. As the zoologist and science writer Matt Ridley put it, there is simply no conventional scientific way to "understand how a costly investment in big brains today may be justified by cultural riches tomorrow."

In fact, there is a certain structural similarity between science and religion, to the extent that both are systematic forms of understanding a world or "plane" of phenomena. In both cases, there is a transitional, generative space that exists between something capable of "revealing" itself and our contemplation of it. Theology has the identical deep structure of science, only on a higher plane that ultimately shades off into pure metaphysics, or those necessary truths which cannot not be -- and without which the real but strictly limited truth of Darwinism could not be either.

Science has what you might call a "written revelation" and an "oral revelation." The written revelation is simply the Cosmos, the World, physical reality, or whatever you want to call it. It is the Object which was here before we arrived, and to which we are Subject. Science -- the evolving "oral tradition" -- takes place in the space between the exterior Object and our own interior Subject, whose intelligence mysteriously conforms to the Object on so many levels that it's positively uncanny -- as if the one were a deep reflection of the other.

Which of course it is. I have no problem with that, which is why I have no problem with scientific or any other kind of truth. The question is, why does the atheist have such a problematic relationship to truth? Must be a genetic defect, I suppose.

When unintelligence joins with passion to prostitute logic, it is impossible to escape a mental satanism which destroys the very basis of intelligence and truth.... When a man has no "visionary" -- as opposed to discursive -- knowledge of Being, and when he thinks only with his brain instead of "seeing" with the heart, all his logic will be useless to him, since he starts from an initial blindness.... Closing itself, above, to the light of the intellect, it opens itself, below, to the darkness of the subconscious. --F. Schuon

Friday, May 08, 2009

Surfing Nonlocal Waves to the Shore of the Now, with a Deepak on My Knee

This post is brought to you by this new art exhibitionism, The Cycle of Life.

The bad news is that "the dead bodies are plasticised, a process invented by Von Hagens involving skinning bodies to display the naked muscles, nerves and tendons underneath, and preserving them with a synthetic resin." The good news is that "the exhibition offers a deep understanding of the human body, the biology of reproduction, and the nature of sexuality." And for those of you who can't afford a trip to Germany but still want to see a couple of cadavers in action, you can always watch Barbara Walters on the Larry King show.

Back to our regular program. The key point is that "just as humanity occurs only as man, so too man occurs only as humanity" (HvB). If that weren't the case, then Jesus wouldn't have been able to change human nature by becoming a man. Rather, he would have changed only that particular man. And the change obviously had to take place at the level of conception in order to be "essential" rather than something merely added in an exterior sense.

Man's existence is an appearance of his essence, even though essence can only manifest as existence. Here again, this is one of our Top Three objections to the left, who always believe, either explicitly or implicitly, that man has no essence. Indeed, this is what it means to be an existentialist, which is just another word for nihilist. The existentialist is a nihilist because he is condemned to freedom in a meaningless cosmos. Therefore, being itself is an infinite nothingness, since no choice can be any better than another choice. In a graceless cosmos, man can only make himself by an act of will, prick by prick.

Which then leads directly to various ideologies of power -- of narcissism and the glorification of the will. Obama is a perfect example of the phenomenon, or a least as perfect as America can produce at this time, given the constraints imposed by a population that is still roughly 50% sane. But we're getting close to the breaking point, what with his complete control of all branches of government, the media, academia, and other powers that might have restrained him.

So the person is the "field of expression" of human essence. In fact, it reminds me very much of quantum physics, in which the local particle is simply the expression of the nonlocal field. The field doesn't manifestly exist except in its complementary relationship with the particle.

For those of you who have auto-initiated yourself by purchasing my book -- and is anyone still interested in Bobographed copies? -- you will see that this is discussed on pp. 209-210, where it explains how O -- which is nonlocal -- requires a local frame of reference, oh, such as an upright bipedal Raccoon, in order to realize itself in the world.

Yes, the cosmos is filled with such "empty fields" of pure logos just waiting for a nervous system sophisticated enough to evoke them! In fact, I'm surfing on one of those nonlocal waves right now. Sounds a bit like this:

Surf's up / aboard a tidal wave / Come about hard and join / the young and often spring you gave / I heard the word / Wonderful thing / A children's song / A child is the father of the man / A children's song / Have you listened as they played / Their song is love / And the children know the way. --Beach Boys, Surf's Up

Excellent. While I was listening to that and waiting around for Nomo, he just left a relevant comment. It was in response to Maineman's point about the need for a "counter-terrorism strategy" against the "wildly destructive" left. Nomo writes that "the Light burns, but it has to come out from hiding," and then references the Nonlocal-Made-Local, who said that

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Do you see the point? Of Light? All we can do -- all we can ever do -- is participate in that very movement of O --> (¶), or of Father --> Son. This is something the left can never put an end to, although they will certainly do their best to try. But this is nothing that Jesus didn't explain in full to the apostles. It's not as if it isn't a built-in feature of the worldly powers and principalities.

For to shine like a light in the darkness is to place a giant target on your back. It makes you a beacon for others, but it also makes you an easily identifiable target. This is why the trolls roost here. No one will have failed to notice how "dark" they are, for their darkness always stands out in the light, does it not? It could hardly be more coonspicuous, for it is indeed "darkness visible."

Speaking of darkness visible, this ought to be good: the hideous Deepak on the meaning of prayer.

"In the Bush era, public or group prayer followed the pattern set down by Nixon in the Sixties: it was a validation of conservative values. God was for law and order and against hippies. God was against anyone who didn't believe in him, a ridiculous position when you think about it.... As long as prayer was simply a shout-out to evangelicals and supporters of the current war, I think it had little value as a national activity."

Shouldn't Deepak be out there on the street with all those other hippies, chanting Hey hey, BHO, how many youthful contingency operators did you kill in your phony war against man made disasters today!

So, what is the real purpose of prayer? O, endarken us, Your Grubbiness:

"It may be too hard for someone in the Judeo-Christian tradition to let go of a personal (and usually masculine) God in favor of something as impersonal as one's own awareness, but.... everything about prayer happens in consciousness and nowhere else. The message is sent and received in consciousness; the results are noticed in consciousness; one's expectations, beliefs, and intentions are rooted in consciousness.... prayer is one process: consciousness interacting with itself. Religions enforce a division between the one who prays and the one who answers, but why? Stripped of religious vocabulary, a prayer is nothing more than an intention. Either that intention comes true or it doesn't."

Oh my. Deepcrock has outdumbed himself. This comment is to theology what copulating cadavers are to sex. And it also goes to what I said about the leftist who denies essence and ends up with an ideology of pure power, of the will. For with Deepak's perverse religiosity, the will simply "prays" to the will for more power. A prayer is nothing more than "intention," i.e., will.

It is no coincidence -- none whatsoever -- that a dreadful, despicable person such as Chopra would be perhaps the most prominent assholy man of the left. For he is the local expression of their nonlocal field of schemes.

Bonus version -- Brian Wilson demo, without the group harmony tag at the end:

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A Family is Any Two or More People Who Love the Government

HvB emphasizes the point that, while we can talk about abstract and concrete, we can't actually separate them. In fact, it's pure abstraction to think that we ever could. In other words, it's not only a pure abstraction to think that there are only universals, but equally abstract to think that there are nothing but concrete instances.

As it pertains to man, "he realizes his entire, one-of-a-kind uniqueness exclusively within the universal possibility of which he is a single instance." And yet, "the concept of man cannot be abstracted in such a way as to leave the individual person's being outside its conceptual content."

This is a truly strange but unavoidable paradox, and as we have previously discussed in the context of Letter IX of MOTT, it is only definitively resolved in the Incarnation. As a matter of fact, it was in reading that particular chapter that I was finally struck by the intellectual heft of Christianity. I saw in an instant how it doesn't just reconcile our spiritual and existential dilemmas, but resolves our cognitive ones in the bargain.

You could say that in man, abstract and concrete are separate and distinct, and yet, "not-two," neither to be confused nor radically separated. Therefore, no man is an a posteriori "synthesis of universal human nature and individual personality" (HvB). Rather, it is in the nature of humanness "to be realized from instance to instance only as an individual person."

Looked at in this manner, there is no such thing as human nature, only instances of it. But there can be no individual unless it is an instance of the universal. Here again, this is a critical point to bear in mind, because there can be no person except in light of the Person. You could say that mere "subjectivities" are transformed into persons insofar as they participate in the Incarnation.

This has obvious political implications, and, depending upon how you come down on this issue, it will determine your allegiance. Suffice it so say that an ontology of persons is absolutely incompatible with leftist statism or collectivism. This is why we can call the latter "ontological heresies," since they undermine the foundation of human possibility, and human possibility is the very bridge between appearance and reality, absolute and relative, time and eternity, Creator and creation.

In short, if you get your anthropology wrong, then everything else follows, from cosmology to politics. It is the error from which your system cannot recover, no matter how much "truth" you pile on top of it.

O my leftist friends, hear me now, believe me later!

It is more than a mere cliché to point out that leftists love mankind, while conservative liberals love people. I know that mankind stinks. What could be more obvious? Haven't they ever read a history book? And yet, I know equally well that people are beautiful. This is one of the reasons why I am hopeless about the world, and yet, not at all pessimistic. You will note that the leftist is the opposite: full of childish hopeychangefullness, and yet, as cynical, dour, jaded, and pessimistic as can be. This attitude is not "accidental" but essential.

For the hysterical/angry left, it is always "the end of the world," unless you allow them to "make it right." But for us, the world cannot be made right, only the person can be. For the left, the person cannot be made right, only the State. If only the state is big enough and coercive enough, it will somehow heal man. It will remove the greed from free enterprise, evil from the hearts of terrorists, and "unempathic" justice from the legal system.

We know that this is folly on stilts, doomed to fail before it gets underway. Again, the anthropology is all wrong: as with Darwinism, good theory, wrong species. This is why leftist ideas are always shovel ready. They emanate from a kind of intrinsic and perennial madness (AKA, the ineveateapple "fall") that is not susceptible to "fine-tuning," only a truly radical metanoia. The cure for sleep is waking up, not a government program for free sleeping pills.

Man cannot become who he is in the absence of the interior collective, beginning with that first collective known as "mother-infant," or, more generally, "family." Now, why do you suppose that the left would be so intrinsically hostile to the family? Why would they want to redefine marriage, or replace fathers with the federal government, or embrace kooky man-hating feminism, or promote (as opposed to tolerate; old-fashioned liberal tolerance is the new hate) homosexuality?

I discussed this in a previous post, A Family is Any Two People Who Love the Government. I wonder what I said? Since it's almost three years old, it's pretty much all new to me. Let's see. I'll cut it off when I get bored.


Yesterday, there was an article in USA Today entitled Marriage Gap Could Sway Elections (HT Dennis Prager). The implications of this article are so profound, and yet, I seriously doubt that it will get any play from the moonstream media.

The article is very short and rather matter of fact, but extraordinary in its ramifications. The most amazing statistic in the piece is that Republicans control 49 of the 50 districts with the highest rates of married people, whereas Democrats represent all 50 districts with the highest rates of adults who have never married.

As for how this played out in the last presidential election, President Bush beat John Kerry by 15 points among married people, whereas Kerry beat President Bush by 18 percentage points among unmarried people. If I recall correctly, the gaps were even wider than that regarding religiosity. Something like 90% of irreligious people vote Democrat.

Let’s analyze this situation as a leftist would. For a leftist, free will is a dubious construct. Unlike classical liberals, they reject the idea that essence determines existence. Rather, they believe that existence determines essence. This is the whole basis of their class consciousness, their victimology, and their identity politics. For a leftist, someone is black before they are a human being, which is why they believe it should be against the law to think in a color-blind manner (hence their desire for government enforced racial quotas).

As we mentioned yesterday, leftists believe that poverty causes crime, or that America (or Israel) causes Islamist terror (instead of bad values causing crime or an evil theology causing terror). Likewise, if we engage in harsh interrogation of terrorists, we are exactly like them -- an abstraction that ignores, precisely, who we actually are. But that doesn't matter. For the leftist, only the abstraction is real, like "Democrats are for the little guy," irrespective of how much contempt they have for him.

The bottom lyin' for the leftist is that even our philosophical beliefs are a result of class. I believe what I believe only because I am a whiteuppermiddleclasspriviigedheteronormativemale, whereas women or blacks are from “oppressed” classes (oppressed by me and my kind, of course), so that their consciousness and interests are entirely different. "Perception is reality."

Back around the time of the O.J. trial, for example, I heard black (actually, leftist -- their race is irrelevant) legal scholars argue that O.J. Simpson was literally not gulity if black people believed he wasn't. This is called "critical race theory," and it is actually taught in American classrooms.

Since Democrat fortunes are so directly tied to the devaluation and destruction of marriage, is it any wonder that, in their own class interest, they would adopt polices that are harmful to marriage and the family? That is, the more people get married and have children, the less success Democrats are going to have at the polls.

How do they accomplish their goal of weakening marriage and the family? In any number of ways. In a social welfare system, the government replaces the family, so there is no need to get married. We see this even more dramatically in western Europe, where marriage has become a quaint thing of the past, to such an extent hat these nations are dying, economically, spiritually, and demographically.

And of course, this is how liberals took the wrecking ball to the black family in America, causing untold damage to both blacks and to the victims of their consequent cultural pathology (e.g., skyrocketing crime rates after instituting various “oh, Great" Society programs.

All wise men know that women exert a civilizing influence on men, so that when women give up their “gate keeper” role in converting boys to responsible men (i.e., sharing their bodies with boys), the culture in question will produce uncivilized boys in the bodies of men. Why grow up? Thus, ovary tower feminist doctrine -- which taught that there is no difference between men and women, and that “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” -- simply produced pathetically de-feminized women and de-masculinized men. It also promoted the crazy idea that single mothers could raise boys just as effectively as married couples, ignoring the basic truth that only a man (either real or symbolic) can raise a man.

The destruction of the family also explains Democrats' desire for higher taxes. After all, the higher the taxes, the harder it is to support a family. But the government will be your family, so it doesn’t matter to them. It would also explain their jihad against Walmart, a place where people with modest incomes can purchases necessities, including food and medications, at rock bottom prices.

Liberals will respond, “We’re the real pro-family party. We’re for homosexual marriage!” Ahem. First of all, homosexuals are already allowed to get married, marriage being defined as a union between a man and a woman. What liberals favor is the thoroughly Orwellian notion of redefining -- in a way both magical and totalitarian -- a word and a reality with which they take issue.

My desire to remain faithful to the dictionary has nothing to do with homosexuals, much less “homophobia.” Rather, it has to do with a clear understanding of the very basis of civilization and therefore humanness. Civilization is not built from the top down, as leftist social imagineers would have you believe. Rather, it is built from the bottom up, brick by brick, family by family, the unit of civilization.

Put another way, leftists think they are merely rearranging furniture on the top floor of civilization, when they are blasting away at the foundation of the building. Being ahistorical, leftists cannot but help being oblivious to the forces that underlie history.

We can all see the damage to the black family produced by 50 years of liberal ideas. What if we were to try 50 years of rigorously applied conservative ideas? That is, what if we try to inculcate the same values in black culture that, say, the Mormons do in Provo, Utah, or that Asians seem to do to everywhere in America? Stay in school, work hard, get married, don't have children out of wedlock. Ironically, this was part of the strategy of the original liberal civil rights leaders of just a couple generations ago. Now, groups like the NAACP are plainly no longer liberal but thoroughly infused with leftist ideology that promotes dysfunction and dependence.

Why? Why are they so averse to individualism and self-reliance? In order to advance their own class -- not ethnic -- interest. What class is that? The class of people who gain power as a result of having fewer families and more dependent and self-defeating victims. Democrats.


What can I say? It kept my interest to the end. Perhaps I'm easily amused. But this post is now long enough, so it is officially over.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Whiteheads, Blockheads, and Rising Up Out of the Old Grooveyard

Mentality is an agent of simplification; and for this reason appearance is an incredibly simplified edition of reality. --Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas

What presents itself to us as appearance undergoes a transformation within the human person, a you-turn back in the direction of essence. In other words, being appears as appearance, which is all the senses can apprehend. However, that is hardly the end of knowledge, for there can be no knowledge at the level of the senses. Therefore, appearance is only the beginning of knowledge. Knowledge is the journey from appearance back to essence. You could even say that "essence became appearance so that appearance might become essence."

As HvB explains, what is given to us in the senses is always individual and particular. And yet, it always "points beyond itself to something that is more than it but does not lie outside it." This mysterious "something beyond" is the concept, or universal. This is obviously a precondition of knowledge. We don't just see red, but redness. When we see a beautiful woman, we are also aware of seeing an instance of beauty itself. When we listen to President Obama, we aren't just hearing lies, but the Lie as such.

HvB describes the essential two-way movement of the very possibility of knowledge: "the universal contains the particular just as much as the particular contains the universal. There is no single man who does not embody and possess what it means to be man, that is, the full, undiminished nature of man." (Bear this last point in mind for when we later discuss the ontological consequences of God taking on not just "a" man, but human nature. The answer may surprise you!)

Here again, this is a delicate balance. Go too far in one direction and you can end end up a materialist or bonehead atheist or metaphysical Darwinian. But venture too far in the other direction, and you unbecome a vaporous idealist or cavedwelling mystic with the lights on but nobody OM. Neither option is a satisfactory way to resolve the Enigma of Man. At least as far as we are cooncerned.

As Dupree says -- you will pardon his French, but it has a certain "tang" -- if I'm going to save my ass, I want my ass to be part of the package.

In other words made flesh, it hardly does us much good if only the universal is subject to salvation -- i.e., the atman -- but not the particular -- i.e., me. And as far as I am aware, Christianity is the only religion that actually saves the person. And this follows from the recognition that God is a person; and a person can only exist in relationship, which means that God must intrinsically be "in relationship." That being the case, then he would have to be three-in-one and one-in-three, for a static dualism cannot be a real relationship, just two poles of a monad.

Now, relationship is intrinsically superior to non-relationship for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which being that it makes love the highest ideal, or "first fruit" of God's interior relations. If you want to know where all the love came from, this is where. It is also where all the truth came from, for truth is always a relationship as well. Mathematics is always relational. Organisms would be impossible in a non-relational creation. Likewise, quantum physics reveals a cosmos not of ultimate "parts," but of internal relations.

If there is only a non-dual ground, then even truth is just illusion by another name, the only "truth" being the complete emptiness of the eternal void. Of course, the Buddhists could be correct about that, but I don't think so, for it renders the cosmos into a radically bi-polar entity with a dream at one end and a vacuum at the other. And if reality is just dirtbag that really sucks, Deepak is God.

In truth, there can be no void in the absence of its overflowing fulness. I'm an optimist. I see through the glass darkly half full. How did Whitehead put it? For the identical confusion plagues postmodern scientism of the Queeg variety. Let me see if I can dig it out.... Boy, lotta good stuff in here.... I could really get sidetracked....

Can't find the passage I'm looking for, but this one about modern materialism will do: "Clear-sighted men, of the sort who are clearly wrong, now proclaimed that the secrets of the physical universe were finally disclosed. If only you ignored everything which refused to come into line, your powers of explanation were unlimited."

Science and the Modern World is still one of the most thorough and unassailable debunkings of silly Queegism, which I did my best to playgiarize for you in chapter one of my book. Here is a good zinger about what this kind of malevolent fantasy can do to a mind: "It fixes attention on a definite group of abstractions, neglects everything else, and elicits every scrap of information and theory which is relevant to what it has retained."

The process itself is formally identical to paranoid cognition, and leads to the ever-tightening spiral that Queeg finds himself in, in that more and more reality must be kept at bay in order to stay safe in one's familiar mental groove (which, ironically, is a mirror of natural selection, except that the person creates the mental environment to which he then adapts):

"Now to be mentally in a groove [read: cognitive environment] is to live in contemplating a given set of abstractions. The groove prevents straying across country, and the abstraction abstracts from something to which no further attention is paid. But there is no groove of abstractions which is adequate for the comprehension of human life."

Duh. Either you understand this, or you are a fool. You may be a highly intelligent fool, but a fool nonetheless. For you have never given a thought to thought and to how it gets that way.

Truly, Whitehead saw the coming of Queegism, the scientistic barbarians at the gates of civilization, almost a century ago. This is not personal. Queeg himself is simply a well-known stock character whose naive belief in a metaphysics-free knowledge is "a figment of the imagination. The belief in it can only occur to minds steeped in provinciality -- the provinciality of an epoch, of a race, of a school of learning, of a trend of interest -- minds unable to divine their own unspoken limitations" (and assumptions, I might add).

No. It is simply a truism that "no science can be more secure than the unconscious metaphysics which it tacitly presupposes.... We habitually speak of stones, and planets, and animals, as though each individual thing could exist, even for a passing moment, in separation from the environment which is in truth a necessary factor in its own nature."

And what is the necessary cosmic environment for a true thought?

(The answer may surprise you.)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Divine Actors, Pomotextuals, and Drama Queegs

The paradox of human existence cannot be resolved within the human being. This is why all godless philosophies are intrinsically absurd. But can absurdity be the last word of existence? It seems that insisting that it is gives the atheist a kind of faux dignity and courage, which is just non-absurdity by another name, for both are derived from God, not our animal nature.

HvB writes that "man, fashioned by the Logos, is essentially constructed along dia-logical lines," so that "any mono-logical interpretation is bound to destroy him." This would include the diverse mono-logues of materialism and false religion.

In fact, this is where the extremes of new age integralism and crypto-Marxist Obamism meet in the muddle. For both negate the real person, who specifically becomes real in light of the Absolute. The former dissolves the person into pure spirit, while the latter dissolves him into matter and/or the collective.

(Some idiot left a comment wondering how a Subgenius could hold my political views. The real question is how one could not hold them, since a mono-logical, flatland existence is intrinsically devoid of Slack. If God does not exist, then Slack is pure illusion.)

I'm mixing up my volumes here, because the Theo-Drama makes so many provocative observations along these lines. So many, that I don't see how I'll ever be able to trancelight them into blog posts. In fact, I'm thinking of writing the next book as a kind of Raccoon/Subgenius playgiarizarion of Balthasar. For me, the problem hasn't been writing another book. But I don't want to just toss another stupid book onto mankind's mountain of pseudo-intellectual or pneuma-babbling vanities. Rather, if I'm going to do it, I want it to be about everything and for all time.

With the first book, my inspiration was Finnegans Wake, which is a kind of closed and yet infinite circle embracing the entire insane (and occasionally sane) collideorescape of history. But now I need a bigger circle. In Balthasar, I think I've found one sufficiently large for my purposes.

Which, when you think about it -- don't worry, I'll stop talking about myself in a minute -- returns to the absurdity and insufficiency of any empirical, materialistic, positivistic, scientistic, or Darwinian view of man. If that is the tiny canvas upon which I am supposed to work, I couldn't even begin. It is analogous to putting someone into a lightless little box and asking him to produce something true and beautiful. Impossible.

No, in order to properly live our lives at all, we need the largest possible canvas. And in my ongoing Adventure in Christianity, I'm discovering that this is the biggest canvas there is. Or at least the biggest one I've found. For in this inword adventure, we get to live our finite life in the light of an infinite Absolute who confers absolute meaning upon it.

Every alternative comes up short of this, and is "boring" by comparison. And one reason it is boring, is because -- as HvB is at pains to point out over the course of some 3,000 pages of Theo-Drama -- it is specifically drained of drama.

For example, take the metaphysical Darwinist. His life is devoid of drama, I suppose with the exception of whether or not he will reproduce, or even just get a date on Saturday night. Thus, I suppose this could confer a kind of faux-drama, or at least urgency, upon Queeg's objectively meaningless life. Will he leave behind a little liztard to carry on his meaningless genetic line? Or will this be it?

But even in the unlikely event that he is "successful," what's the point? He's just kicking the empty genetic can down to the next generation. And not only that, but once you realize that the whole thing is just a trick of the genes, why pursue it at all? Why not just be an obsessive and slightly paranoid computer geek, and stay away from the ladies?

In other words, women aren't really "beautiful." Please. They just appear that way in order to trick us into having sex with them. Once you've seen through the ruse, then you're free to ignore nature's deception that we erroneously call "female beauty." To say that beauty is "beside the point" is literally true, the point being to deposit genetic material into them.

Once you have successfully eliminated the transcendent, then you have taken away any basis for real drama, which can only occur on the "stage" between us and our Creator. For the essence of the drama is the dialectic between finite and infinite freedom. Here is the question and task every human being must face: how do I imprint as much of the absolute as possible in the finite time given? How do I write eternity with these clumsy crayons of time?

Can it be done? Of course it can be done. But it can again only take place in the space between the scylla of materialism and the charybdis of pure mysticism. In the case of the former, both drama and history are reduced to nature. In the case of the latter, they are dissolved in illusion, and have no ultimate value whatsoever. But anyone can look into the eyes of his child and know damn well that he has infinite value.

The other possible non-drama in which to play out one's life -- for in the end, there are only these three possibilities -- is post-Christian Marxism in one of its many guises. And when I say "post-Christian," the operative word is "Christian," for everything from Maoism to Obamaism is just a Christian heresy, specifically, a counter-drama which displaces the conflict between finite and infinite freedom to the plane of a materialistic-messianic hope, in which everyone will have the same amount of stuff.

But then what? The only drama takes place in the illusory hope that this would actually do anything to resolve the paradox of human existence. All the world is just a stage in the Marxist dialectic.

We see quite vividly how this de-Christianized messianic hope has been transferred to the ridiculous figure of Obama, who indeed plays the part for all it is worth (which is ultimately nothing, once the lights of the political theatre come back on). But for those of us who are not sitting in the dark to begin with, the whole sad spectacle is simultaneously pathetic and alarming, for we are seeing this Christian heresy embraced not only by those who hate God, but by so-called Christians as well. Madness!

So there are modes of existence that borrow from Christian theo-drama -- e.g., Marxism, "progressivism," "climate change," Obamism -- and there are modes which destroy the drama up front -- e.g., existentialism, hedonism, Darwinism, the pomo schtick of deconstruction, etc.

If there is drama, there must be fulfillment, as any playwright knows, i.e., conflict and resolution. In the case of our little drama on the stage of the herebelow, the primary conflict is again this persecutory combination of knowledge of the Absolute and of Death. In other words, mankind is condemned to the Absolute if only by virtue of his knowledge of Death, which appears on the stage as a kind of absolute horizon. How can we simultaneously possess absolute knowledge but not be God?

Again, there is your drama! For your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to assimilate as much of the absolute as possible within the allotted time, for everything else will go up in flames faster than Obama's economic policies.

The monuments of those who "make history," only express a desire that is equally that of the insignificant and the powerless: all alike want to scratch something true, something valid, into the face of the dwindling day. --Balthasar

Monday, May 04, 2009

Icons, Con Men, Misplaced Concrete, and Absolute Condescension

Now it feels like Sunday. Will I ever catch up? Or will it always be like this, one day behind?

I think we've established that essence can only manifest itself in appearances. These two poles are always present in any act of knowing. However, it is critical to bear in mind that while we can make a distinction between these two poles, they can never actually be divided. Indeed, knowing is very much a "one in three," i.e., essence (or ground), appearance, and the link between them.

HvB says that "We cannot describe [this] movement either monistically or dualistically, but we can say that the structure of truth rests on it as on its deepest foundation." Although essence is primary, "both poles nevertheless remain in a reciprocal relation of dependence."

We have also established that being is involved in a kind of primordial "movement," in its ceaseless unveiling and self-revelation.

Meanwhile, what's happening at the other end, in the subject? You know, us? Just as "the essence seems abstract compared with the appearance," sensory images are concrete compared with our ability to think about them. (For those of you who have the home version, you may recall that I discussed this issue on pp. 198-206, under the heading Saying More With Less: The Problem of Conceptual Abstractness and Concreteness.)

I have no idea what I wrote there, but I would now say it like this: let's think of Jesus as the "icon of God." Consistent with what we have described above, this would be analogous to the "movement" of ground to appearance. No one can see the ground, i.e., the Father. But we can see his icon, his own unveiling, or appearance, the Son. And ultimately, the two are "not two."

But just as with everyday cognition, this is not enough, for at one end we have pure abstraction, while at the other we have the concrete image, which we can use as an occasion to descend into idolatry if we aren't careful. In fact, I think this is what the iconoclasm controversy was all about. Let me check to make sure.

Blah blah blah, read the whole thing yourself. The point is, the iconoclasts "condemned the making of any lifeless image that was intended to represent Jesus or one of the saints.... Any true image of Jesus must be able to represent both his divine nature (which is impossible because it cannot be seen nor encompassed) as well his human nature. But by making an icon of Jesus, one is separating his human and divine natures, since only the human can be depicted, or else confusing the human and divine natures."

Note how they resolved the problem: "the biblical commandment forbidding images of God had been superseded by the incarnation of Jesus, who, being the second person of the Trinity, is God incarnate in visible matter. Therefore, they were not depicting the invisible God, but God as He appeared in the flesh."

So the problem is a real one: on the one end, pure unknowable abstraction, on the other end, man's tendency to worship graven images. What is the solution? It is to respect God's "double movement," from essence to appearance, and then from appearance back to essence. Doesn't Jesus say as much about the way he himself is to be regarded, not as an end, but as a means, so to speak? < insert any number of relevant scriptural passages from Nomo here >

A variety of heresies results from getting this precise balance wrong. However, the interesting thing is that the same intrinsic heresies apply to purely secular thought, which requires the identical balance between ground and image. Indeed, it is not going too far to say that Christianity teaches men how to think properly about reality as such.

For example, we had a confused troll yesterday (and earlier this morning) who was specifically confused because of his inability to appreciate this distinction between essence and appearance. His writing, thinking, grammar, and punctuation are all rather sloppy -- other than that, he is a beacon of clarity -- so it's a little difficult to decipher his meaning, but I think you can get the drift from his latest utterance:

"Ok, you're either wrong about your fundamental philosophy or you're wrong about the word. You're choice. If people have different values, and God is intrinsic because he is extrensic, his standards and hierarchies. most certainly are not intrinsic. You keep changing subject. Are God's values intrinsic? If so, why is it that no people share the exact same values? No two people hold all the same values to the same degree. Thus, if God is intrinsic, he most certainly has not made his hierarchies or standards so. Otherwise why even have free will? You're squirming and changing subject."

Do you see his error(s)? The central one is the severing of God's transcendence from his immanence, or essence from appearance. Because humans have freedom, he seems to think that this is incompatible with having an essence. But freedom is an aspect of our essence, including the freedom to err. The proper use of freedom involves the journey from appearance to essence, from contingent to necessary, from relative to Absolute.

But to return to the main topic, the whole point is again this "double movement" that takes place between ground, image, and subject. A true icon, for example, is never a "thing in itself." Again, that would be idolatry. Rather, the icon is the quintessence of metaphysical transparency, in that it is like a two way mirror through which God radiates, but through which we can also "see into God" from the other end, like a "window to heaven."

Is that clear? I wish I could draw a picture of the process, but it would look something like this: >.<, with the first arrow representing God, the second arrow representing us, and the point between being the icon. But it's all one two-way, or spiraling, process.

Again, this doesn't just apply to icons. Rather, they are just the quintessence of a more general vertical movement, in that the entire cosmos is a theophany of God. It too has an obvious metaphysical transparency, which is precisely why it is so larded with overflowing truth and beauty. It offers itself to us in such a way that it always points back to its source, at least if we look at it in the proper way. File this under the heading of one of those things that cannot not be understood, at least until modern times.

This is why prayer is a movement; contemplation is a movement; lectio divina is a movement; my blogging is a movement. But the movement on our end is only possible because the Absolute has condescended to meet us more than half way.

Conversely, here is the danger -- a danger that has already manifested in various forms of postmodern pnuemapathology, e.g., atheism, metaphysical Darwinism, scientism, radical secularism, et al. Each of these represents idolatry by another name, or what Whitehead called "the fallacy of misplaced concreteness." Here is how HvB describes it:

"The concept has the capacity to distance itself from the perceptual image and to assume a stance of self-sufficiency in abstract isolation. In doing so, it falls under the sway of unreality, thus resembling the object of sense intuition -- the image."

In other words, man confuses God's power with his own, and thereby distances himself "from the vitality of truth." For unlike God, he becomes enclosed in his little false world, and exerts what might be called a "negative radiation" which attempts to pull everything into its absurcular purview. Here we confront the "vacant mystery of agnosticism and skepticism" in all its minus glory.

More tomorrow on how the universal can (only) appear in the particular, which touches on how Jesus can simultaneously be God's icon of man and man's icon of God.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Who Defines Normality Controls the Future

Only my true fans and stalkers will recognize this as a reedited rerun from two years past....

George Orwell's essential insight into the mentality of the left cannot be surpassed. In 1984, the motto of the Ministry of Truth is Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.

I couldn't help thinking of this last night while suffering through the Republican debate [two years ago!], which essentially consisted of the candidates submitting themselves to orthodorks leftwing barking points filtered through that spluttering, loudmouthed hack from the moonstream media, Chris Matthews, whose main talent is the ability to barge past any truth he accidentally stumbles upon like Michelle Obama at a plus-size sneaker sale. Do you also have to wipe the spittle off the back of your TV screen when he speaks?

But who controls the present also controls what is defined as "normal." Therefore, since leftists have taken over most of our institutions in the last 30-40 years -- the media, academia, the courts, the educational establishment, Hollywood, etc. -- they have been engaged in the unyielding project of redefining normalcy -- of defining deviancy downward -- so that the abnormal appears normal and the normal abnormal.

It begins with their radical cynicism, which throws out all intrinsic hierarchies and standards as arbitrary and subjective, supposedly motivated simply by the desire to dominate, control, and oppress. Therefore, to believe things as banal as "terrorists are evil," or "children need a mother and father," or "marriage consists of a man and a woman" is to expose oneself to the ridicule of people who do not know what normal is -- nor do they want to know. I can guarantee you that Keith Olbermann has no personal acquaintance with normality.

(To be perfectly accurate, leftists unconsciously know, as all humans must, but they are in a state of compulsive rebellion against this knowledge, a rebellion which must be constantly renewed in order to stay one step ahead of the judgment of their conscience -- which they generally project into conservatives and then feel "persecuted" by them. To put it another way, the persecution is an internal phenomenon, but in order to obtain some leibensraum for their mind parasites, they imagine the nazis are outside their head.)

Almost every "liberation" group of the left insists that their particular aberration be considered normal, whether it is homosexual activists, radical feminists, the "transgendered," the ACLU, pacifists, God-haters, Darwinian fundamentalists, bonehead atheists, etc. Teaching that there is a normal human condition is considered by these people to be the quintessence of tyranny and oppression. Which in a way it is, in the same way that it is oppressive to insist that your body needs exercise, that you have an ideal weight, or that you can't eat junk food all day. Frankly, for a child, the reality principle is oppressive.

Being that the left does indeed "control the present," all textbooks must be rewritten in order to make the abnormal appear normal, and to attack and undermine our intuitive understanding of what is better and what is normal. This is one of the big reasons why people homeschool their children, because they don't want them to internalize such abnormality at a young age, since it can be very difficult to undo this programming later in life.

For example, in California it is literally against the law for any textbook to depict any human group in an unflattering light. Underneath this is a radical leveling that quite literally bars access to the natural hierarchy that allows the mind to discriminate, AKA, to think. Again, this absolute relativism is the cognitive absurdity that is at the heart of the leftist rebellion against reality.

As I have mentioned in the past and future, I passively internalized much of this leftist brainwashing -- or soulsmirching -- when I was younger, and it has been on ongoing adventure in liberation to cast it off bit by bit and reclaim my normalcy. Which, of course, would be considered very, very abnormal by anyone on the left, such as the Women's Aberration Movement.

A big part of being a "finished" human being is to transcend one's time by becoming a mode of the universal -- which is another way of saying "normal." For, as I shall belaborate below, a normal man is a vertical man -- or what Schuon called pontifical man. The only alternative is to be a more or less horizontal man, which is to say, not a man at all. Doing so is to permanently mahar your divine archetype and to cash in your chimp for a beast in human form.

Being that there is a vertical dimension proper to man, it means ipso facto that we live in a hierarchical cosmos that is conditioned from top to bottom. This is why it is simply a truism that all attacks on religion are in the end an attack on mind itself -- and therefore on man. (Which is of course not to suggest that there aren't stupid forms of religion, for where man is, stupidity follows.)

But hierarchy is the one thing that absolutely cannot be tolerated by the totolerantarian left. Religion must be reflexively attacked and scorned, for it teaches that there are values that are intrinsic to humans, and that some ways of living, being, and thinking are better then others. Ultimately, the divine conscience -- that which distinguishes between right and wrong, good and evil -- must be disabled by the left in order to get any traction at all (even while they tyrannically enforce their own infrahuman values).

For example, children must be taught "values clarification" instead of straightforward rules of right and wrong. They are literally indoctrinated into an anti-religion that sets itself in opposition to the true and universal one. It is designed to confuse, not clarify. We see this played out in vivid form with the simplistic moral retards fueling the "torture" debate.

But for the nihilistic leftist flatlander -- and this cannot be emphasized enough -- the only abnormal person is the person who insists that some things are intrinsically abnormal, even someone as insignificant as Miss California.

I know of no professional group that has been more infiltrated and "horizontalized" by the left than psychologists. There is no human behavior so bizarre that one cannot attend a continuing education seminar on its virtues. (I had been saving an illustrative flier for an occasion such as this, but I think I must have thrown it out. Which makes me evil for not having recycled it. There's no explaining away that deviancy.)

This explain the ubiquitous "inverted hypocrisy" of the psychospiritual left. Although this type of boundary-less person or "masterless man" superficially appears to be the most “liberated," they are desperately in need of an "external center" to rebel against. Like a child, they are most in need of that which they most vociferously and compulsively protest against. Since they are chaotic souls with no center, they gain a spurious sense of internal coherence by rubbing up against, or breaking through, a boundary. In short, they need adults.

Thus, the transgression eventually takes on a wearily compulsive quality. They rapidly become caricatures of themselves, a pattern constantly seen in our trolls. This is why, for example, all of those brave comedians who spent eight years bashing President Bush cannot lift a middle finger to ridicule the ridiculous Obama. They can speak truth to any power except the power that controls them.

As Richard Weaver wrote in Ideas Have Consequences, forms are the ladder of ascent: "Every group regarding itself as emancipated is convinced its predecessors were fearful of reality, looking upon veils of decency as obstructions that it will strip aside. But behind the veils is a reality of such commonplace that it is merely knowledge of death." This is why the left in all its forms is a death culture.

That is, the obliteration of vertical degree creates a tyrannical flatland which is death to the soul and its spiritual evolution. This is why leftists are always mindlessly rebellious, anti-authority, and radically "democratic" (when it is convenient), and why their movement has literally "gone nowhere" -- for its own assumptions mandate that there is nowhere else for it to go but into further nothingness, something demonstrated on a daily basis by its more undisguised voices, such as a dailycurse or huffingandpissed. They wander from cause to cause in an contradictory and incoherent manner, as their conscience still seeks to do good in a world where they have helped define it out of existence.

This is the greatest divide between secular fantasists and religious realists, for the latter regard man’s life as an irreducible ought grounded in transcendence, instead of a mere is rooted in dead matter. Conscious being automatically confers existential obligation. Man is the only thing that ought, which immediately takes him out of the realm of both is and of mere things. For to do as you ought is to both transcend and to find oneself. It is also to be a normal human being.

Man is true to himself only when he is stretching forth -- in hope -- toward a fulfillment that cannot be reached in his bodily existence. --Josef Pieper

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