Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Negative Mysticism of the Left

I first came across the idea of liberal fascism as a political religion almost twenty years ago, although I naturally didn't put 2 + 2 together at the time, since I still was one. It was hidden in a book called Coming to Our Senses: Body and Spirit in the Hidden History of the West. I probably haven't looked at the book since then, and just spent ten minutes rummaging through the stacks deep within the bowels of the slackatoreum to find it. At this point, I don't even know if my recollection is accurate, or whether I'm just making this all up. Let's find out, shall we?

Here we go, chapter 8, The Twisted Cross. It begins with the following statement by Hitler:

Man is becoming God -- that is the simple fact. Man is God in the making.... Those who see in National Socialism nothing more than a political movement know scarcely anything of it. It is even more than a religion: it is the will to create mankind anew.

Now, the first thing that occurs to me is Athanasius' quip -- echoed by many Christian fathers -- that "God became man so that man might become God." However, the two obviously mean it in very different ways. Interesting that they are using the same words to say opposite things. For the Christian way is based upon profound humility, in keeping with the kenotic God who emptied and debased himself in order to glorify himself and man, whereas "nazi divinization" would be based upon promethean man absurdly elevating himself beyond his station.

One is naturally also reminded of Sri Aurobindo, especially since this is his 137th birthday. He too believed that man was a "God in the making," but what a difference! Let's meditate on some lines from his epically epic, free-verse visionary poem, Savitri:

A Nature that denied the eternal Truth...
Hoped to abolish God and reign alone...
Engendering a brute principle of life
Evil and pain begot a monstrous soul....
A shadow substance into emptiness came,
Dim forms were born in the unthinking Void
And eddies met and made an adverse Space
In whose black folds Being imagined Hell....
Accustomed to the unnatural dark, they saw
Unreality made real and conscious Night.
A violent, fierce and formidable world,
An ancient womb of huge calamitous dreams,
Coiled like a larva in the obscurity....
It was the gate of a false Infinite,
An eternity of disastrous absolutes
An immense negation of spiritual things

Etc. It goes on in that vein for a dozen or so pages. To call it "poem" is a bit misleading, at least in the contemporary sense of the word. However, in ancient times, poets were thought to be "seers" who made direct contact with the spiritual world. In Aurobindo's case, he is simply piling vision upon vision in describing what he sees. You might say that he is attempting to disclose the deep structure of the cosmic spiritual forces that oppose the Divine.

Anyway, back to Berman. He says that beneath National Socialism was "an ecstatic phenomenon, the return of the repressed pagan (mystical/heretical) tendencies that had been buried by official Christendom for centuries." Thus, it was "a secular version of the [spiritual] ascent phenomenon." In short, it is (↑) in the absence of O.

Berman correctly points out that nazism was not an intellectual phenomenon guided primarily by ideas, since "ideas, in and of themselves, are not capable of unleashing energy. To do that, something else must be present." As we know, conservatism is about ideas, whereas liberalism is about feelings. Like fascism, it is "not a coherent system, but a leap from despair to utopia." Obama is just the most recent incarnation. He has merely plucked a mask from the ancient gallery, as Jim Morrison would say.

Missing from mere intellectual ideas is the factor of "psychological salvation." By definition, a genuine conservative would never seek salvation in politics (I'm excluding illiberal paleoconservatives such as Pat Buchanan, who are a different story), whereas a secular leftist never stops trying.

Berman describes fascism as a "gnostic phenomenon" or "redemption psychology." People are not intellectually convicted by fascist ideas. Rather, it is "because of their immediate existential situation -- a situation of cosmic meaningless and futility, followed by the emergence of a form of secular, or political, salvation."

We know that magic formed a major part of the Nazi program, in the form of "lighting effects, public rituals, symbolic imagery, and Hitler's own spellbinding oratory." These actually threw people into "a light (sometimes not-so-light) trance" powerful enough to set their corpulent thighs atingle. Hitler didn't yet know about MSNBC hosts, but nevertheless "recognized, instinctively, a religious need on the part of the masses and he responded with a gnostic political program" involving ecstasy, ascent, salvation and redemption.

Berman describes people who underwent "Damascus-like" experiences in their conversion to fascism. It is safe to say that few were convinced by its shifting and contradictory ideas. It was much more visceral than that. He cites research based upon hundreds of autobiographical accounts, documenting that in about 60% of cases, there was "a lost self that was finally saved by stumbling upon National Socialism or hearing a Hitler speech." These people spoke "in terms of a dramatic moment, or a moment of illumination, that moved them from aimlessness to self-organization and self-discovery."

Now, for a radical secularist, demons and hostile forces no longer exist. Therefore, a substitute must be found in order to make the religion "complete." Enter the Jews and the magic of "ritual slaughtering" in order to redeem the earth and secure ultimate salvation. No properly Christian person could believe such nonsense, and Jung was the first to recognize that "Christianity was alien to German religious thought, and that the true god of the Germans was the Teutonic deity of Wotan."

Interestingly, Aurobindo also recognized this in a poem called Children of Wotan, in which he writes of "the hammer of a new creation,"

A seed of blood on the soil, a flower of blood in the skies
We march to make of earth a hell and call it heaven....
We march, lit by Truth's death-pyre, to the world's satanic age.

To be continued....

You should not think of it as a fight for certain nations against others... It is a struggle for an ideal that has to establish itself on earth in the life of humanity, for a Truth that has yet to realize itself fully and against a darkness and falsehood that are trying to overwhelm the earth and mankind....

It is the forces behind the battle that have to be seen and not this or that superficial circumstance... It is a struggle for the liberty of mankind to develop, for conditions in which men have freedom and room to think and act according to the light in them, and to grow in the Truth, grow in the Spirit.

There cannot be the slightest doubt that if one side wins, there will be an end of all such freedom and hope of light and truth, and the [spiritual] work that has to be done will be subjected to conditions which would make it humanly impossible; there will be a reign of falsehood and darkness, a cruel oppression and degradation for most of the human race such as people in this country do not dream of and cannot yet realize.
--Sri Aurobindo

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Extraordinarily High Negative IQ of Obama

Reader William has an interesting idea about "the Marxist frauds who people the academy. I’ve come up with the concept of negative IQ for people who know lots of stuff that is the opposite of truth. These folks no doubt all have very high negative IQs."

Oh my yes. I've posted on that subject in the past, except in different terms -- for example, the idea of (-K), or "negative knowing." Ultimately, you might simply say that Ø is the first principle from which all bad philosophy flows. For us, the first and last principle is always O, the alphOmega, the Ultimate unKnowable Reality.

However, to say "unknowable" can be mystleading, because we mean it in the apophatic sense, through which unknowing becomes the highest knowledge; or let us say a "self emptying" that prepares us to be "instructed by God," as it were. (I just discovered that there's actually an Orthodox word for this roundtrip God-to-God knowledge: theodidaktoi.)

Also, as we have been discussing, although O cannot be known directly, we can certainly know its energies, (↓) -- which, in a way, is true of anything, even a rock. After all, no one actually knows what a rock is. Rather, we can only know about it. But knowing about it is more than enough to get you through the day, just as knowing about God is more than enough to get you through life.

Now, any kind of materialist or Darwinist or radical secularist is necessarily living in a kind of fantasy land, since they begin -- and therefore end -- in Ø. Thus, in the ultimate sense, all of their (K) is automatically rendered (-K). You could file it all under the heading of Whitehead's fallacy of misplaced concreteness.

For example, I just encountered this problem in The Philosophical Baby, which is highly unracooomended because it frames all of its (K) in terms of Ø, which in the end strips the subject of its profundity, or vertical depth.

Really, it's a kind of attack on vertical linking, so that the author's interior deadness is transmitted to the reader, which has the function of tamping down wonder. Certain highly provocative roads are automatically foreclosed by the tenured, in that they could never have gained tenure had they ventured down those roads. This ideological Darwinism explains how the deeply philosophical baby grows up to become the philosophomoric Berkeley professor.

Do I need to cite examples? In my margin notes I use the symbol (-?!), which, as you might guess, is the opposite of (?!). I use it when I encounter something that is so provocatively stupid, that it reaches mystical (or mystagogic) depths. And it is a kind of "reverse gnosis," or (-n), as we will be discussing below.

Let's see... How about this sloppily projected jumble of half-digested metaphysical nonsense about human knowing: "methods of experimentation and statistical analysis seem to be programmed into our brains even when we are tiny babies. Very young children unconsciously use these techniques to change their causal maps of the world. Those programs allow babies, and so the rest of us, to find the truth" (emphasis mine).

Where to even begin? Frankly, I don't think I want to dwell on it. But if one of my students suggested that human beings are programmed by natural selection "to find the truth," I'd probably slap him upside the head with my zen stick. Good thing I don't have any students. Or a zen stick.

I mean, two pages later she breezily affirms that "a hundred years or more of scientific study of the brain has convinced almost all philosophers that everything we experience" is reducible to the brain. Well, first of all, so what? Truth isn't a democracy, much less an authoritarian democracy of the tenured.

But more fundamentally, isn't that what science does and scientists do? It's like saying that "one hundred years of baseball has convinced almost all umpires that pitched baseballs are either balls or strikes." It's just a silly tautology dolled up as a philosophy. Thus, "scientific psychology tells us that we can't explain inner consciosness by saying that there really is a mysterious self that we look at with our inner eye..." Oh really? Who just said that? That thing that's programmed for truth? I'm confused.

Also, as you might expect, the book is larded with the (-K) of political correctness, for example, this clinical inanity: "We can predict that legislature for enriched preschools will lead to fewer crimes, just as we can predict that legislating for controls on carbon dioxide emissions will lead to fewer hurricanes." Wha -?! I must have missed that one. Man can legislate fewer hurricanes. Who knew?

Must move on. Again, the subject is a profound one, but you're much better off reading the works of a deep thinker such as Allan Schore.

Anyway, back to William's point about the negative IQ of the left. This got me to thinking. It's not just their negative IQ that causes so many problems, but a kind of very real "negative mysticism."

In fact, I would suggest that the latter is far more problematic, as it is responsible for the truly mass movements of liberal fascism. I think it's axiomatic that Obama could not have been elected without this tsunami of negative mysticism, or -O. Note as well that the people leading the charge were the so-called intelligentsia, i.e., those founts of (-K) in academia and the media.

This immediately reminded me of Chesterton's comment that when a man stops believing in God he doesn't believe in nothing; rather, he believes anything. I was trying to google the exact quote, but in so doing, found this little gem that applies to our subject: "Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy [insert rule by liberal elites] means government by the badly educated." This is why for the Raccoon, it generally comes down to a choice between the stupid party and the evil party.

Another brief asnide. We have heard many stories about Obama's vaunted intelligence. First of all, I've never seen it, but then again, my standards are admittedly high. But in my opinion -- and I mean this quite literally, not as mere insultainment -- I believe that Obama is the most ignorant man who has ever been president, at least in my lifetime. What I mean is that, whatever his native intelligence, it has been maimed and distorted as a result of his postmodern education. In short, he is filled to the brim with (-K).

I was reading the other day of how JFK was the first president born in the 20th century. Similarly, Clinton was the first baby-boomer president. The really ominous thing about Obama is that he is our first president who is the product of the postmodern educational establishment, which didn't really gain control until around 1980 or so (Obama would have begun college in the fall of 1979, if I'm not mistaken).

Therefore, the problem isn't just that Obama is "wrong." If only! Rather, it's that he arrogantly knows so many things that just aren't so, and that he flourished in a wackademic environment in which this way of thinking was encouraged, nurtured, and praised. No wonder he's such a moron. Every day he unleashes some kind of crazy remark that you just know he must have picked up in college. But since he's only ever associated with those types of scoundrels, he has no idea how offensive he is to normal people.

Thus, for example, Obama was the first president to ever even think about groveling around the world on an "apology tour." But this is nothing that any liberal academic wouldn't do. Likewise, when Justice Sotomayor made her "wise Latina" crack, she was uttering something so commonplace for the left that it hardly merits comment. Nor did Obama think anything of it. A large part of Obama's free fall has to do with his naively making various comments that reflect his leftist values. Surely he is intelligent enough to know that the leftist must always lie about his true beliefs and intentions.

Darn, I wanted to get into the "minus O" of liberal fascism. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Man: The End of, and Escape from, Evolution

I woke up quite early this morning, so I actually have time to think. Let's get this party started!

In a subtle passage, Balthasar writes that man "lives himself into God and lives God into himself; in that sense, he becomes a 'part of God.'" This mutual transformation occurs in a kind of bipolar space which God "opens up to man." Within this space, "man's divinization takes place through the love of God" and "God's hominization takes place through the love of man."

I don't know which is more shocking, the (↑) that potentially results in the divinization of man, or the (↓) that makes possible the hominization of God.

But in any event, it is clear that (↑) and (↓) must be necessary reflections of one another, for each implies the other. And since we are not God, we must conclude that (↑) is already a form of (↓); in other words, our aspiration toward God is already God; it is certainly a grace, and grace can no more be separated from God than daylight from the sun.

This would also imply that man-as-such is already Christ -- in potential -- even before the appearance of Jesus in time. If this were not the case, then Jesus could not have become man, nor could the Incarnation have benefitted him.

Thus, if you really want to understand (↑) and (↓) in their fullness, then you have to picture them as interconnected, like a spiraling circle. Then, widen this circle to encompass all of creation, and you have an accurate symbol of the cosmic procession and return, or involution and evolution, or creation and salvation, or Incarnation and Resurrection. And you will begin to intuit how man is the realsymbol of this metacosmic process.

In other words, man could not "return to God" unless it were already possible to do so. The path must be there, even before no one has taken it. Obviously we couldn't make the passage on our own, any more than dead matter could simply "come alive" one fine day, or monkeys could arrive at the theory of relativity.

As Balthasar writes -- and this should be a truism -- man is ontologically incapable of "the fulfillment of its own intelligible structure without at the same time reaching out toward what is other than itself," and "without loving the infinite reality that lies at the root of its own radicality." In other words, "fulfillment of the creature within the world's terms is unthinkable." Man is made for transcendence; not only that, but transcendence in love (which are two sides of the same coin).

I haven't yet gotten too far in The Philosophical Baby, but this is something Gopnik hints at (even though she is a materialist who, like virtually all Darwinians, doesn't understand the implications of her own scientific findings; still, I'm pleased that science is slowly catching up to coonical pslackology and confirming our wildest spookulations about the human baby being the fulcrum of cosmic evolution).

For example, Gopnik writes that "If our nature is determined by our genes, you would think that we would be the same now as we were in the Pleistocene" -- that everyone would think like Keith Olbermann or Bill Maher. But "The great evolutionary advantage of human beings is their ability to escape from the constraints of evolution."


Talk about a non-falsifiable (and therefore unscientific) theory! Violation of the theory is proof of the theory. This verges on leftist logic, e.g., "crime down despite increased rates of incarceration," or "black families destroyed despite welfare," or "medical expenses out of control despite government intervention," or "government revenues down despite tax increases." Leftism too is unfalsifiable, which is one of its great appeals, for it means never having to say you're a sorryass.

Later she discusses infantile bonding and attachment, and notes that "All the processes of change, maturation, and learning depend on love" (emphasis mine). "Parental love isn't just a primitive and primordial instinct, continuous with the nurturing behavior of other animals."

Why yes, precisely! But what is the nature of this ontologically discontinuous thing we call "love?" I'm afraid we won't find it in this book. But that's okay. We can easily assimilate scientific truth into a higher synthesis, whereas the reverse is impossible.

Back to reality. Now, hominization is already divinization -- which is precisely what it means to say that man is deiform, or "in the image of the Creator" -- not just his mind, mind you -- which is obvious -- but his body as well.

This latter point is something that was emphasized by Schuon, that is, the "traces of divinity" that illuminate the human form. This is a key idea, as it can help to rescue one from the kind of dead-end Darwinism or philosophical cul-de-slack that constrains Gopnik. That is, some things come from "below." Other things come from "above." There are terrestrial and celestial energies, and if you cannot distinguish between them, then you are what we call "lost in the vertical." In Gopnik's case, she realizes that love is discontinuous with natural selection. But she has no paradigm to account for it, so it just hangs there suspended, like something hanging there suspended.

The human being doesn't just transcend the animal mentally and spiritually, but physically. I was thinking about this the other day. Think of a man raised in the wild by other animals. He has never shaved, had a haircut, or worn clothing. He scrambles about on all fours; there is no "light" in his eyes, which simply dart about the landscape looking for food or predators. This would not be a man, but something less than a man, a failure to embody the human archetype. Note that from a Darwinian perspective, he would still be 100% human.

But a Darwinian has no way of knowing that man is "the summit of earthly creatures, but also -- and for that very reason -- the exit from their condition" (Schuon). Is that clear? This goes directly to what Gopnik said above about man "escaping the constraints of evolution." You might say that the "escape from evolution" is the fulfillment of evolution, since we have now entered a realm that quite obviously transcends matter.

But as I tried to make clear in my book, this transcendent realm is not formless, any more than the material realm is formless. Rather, it is filled with archetypes that are ontologically (that is, vertically) anterior to our entrance into it. But we cannot expect a committed Darwinian to know anything about this space, any more than we should expect him to know anything about the quantum space "beneath" biology.

"Male and female he created them." No, not Darwin. Rather, as Schuon explains, the masculine body accentuates the absolute, while the feminine body accentuates the infinite. This helps to explain why there are no female "porn addicts," since this is specifically a male problem, i.e., "falling" into the infinitude of the female form, in which a million is not enough.

Obviously, female beauty is "infinite." To put it politely, "the feminine body is far too perfect and spiritually too eloquent to be no more than a kind of transitory accident" (Schuon). Once you realize this, you can gain some degree of control over it. Or, you can spend your life looking for that elusive signified behind the multitude of nubile signifiers. But there's always more where that came from, sucker.

If our humanness were reducible to natural selection, then it could have no finality. Rather, every species would only be "on the way" to something else. But again, man cannot be surpassed, because man is capable of conceiving and knowing the Absolute. Obviously there cannot be a "more absolute absolute." Rather, there is only one Absolute. Therefore, man is the end of, and exit from evolution. Because there is Man, we can know that more primitive forms are descended from him, not vice versa.

Again, man is the "perfect animal," if you like; or, the "imperfect God," so to speak. That being the case, there are necessarily "degrees of perfection." But there could be no perfection at all in the absence of the transcendent Absolute.

In contrast to man, the animal is a "closed book." "The animal, which can manifest perfections but not the Absolute," is "as it were enclosed in its own perfection; whereas man is like an open door allowing him to escape his limits, which are those of the world rather than his own" (Schuon).

In other words, in an odd way, man's perfection is his imperfection. It is only because we are capable of sinking beneath our humanness -- like the animal-man or MSNBC host described above -- that we are capable of transcending it. If you want to have man, you just have to tolerate the unfortunate possibility of olbermann.

Here again, this is something Gopnik describes, but without really understanding its implications (unless the book changes tone rather dramatically later on). That is, it is only our neurological immaturity that makes us fit vessels for divinization. In the absence of that neurological plasticity, we would be like any other animal, basically driven by hardwired instinct.

But this plasticity is not, and cannot be, infinitely open-ended, or there could be no such thing as truth. Thus, man is open and yet converging upon a transcendent reality we call O. And if we weren't converging upon O, man would be a truly pathetic beast, a freak, a monster even. Which, of course, some people are. Some ideologies are the products of these monsters. And the purpose of these ideologies is to create more monsters.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cheating On the Ego and Running Off with Truth

How is it that existence may know of the essence? It's easy enough for a person of average intellect to determine that God exists. But unaided, we cannot know who God is.

Once again I use the analogy of a person. Say a patient comes into my consulting room for the first time. Thus, it is safe to say that he exists. But who is he? What is he all about? What's his story? Does he have insurance? I cannot know any of these things until he tells me.

More or less. You can actually know quite a bit by body language, posture, facial expression, eye contact, body odor. Many people have a gelatinous physique or drooping posture that says "I have given up," or that bespeaks a total lack of discipline or boundaries. To them you want to say, "go away and come back after you've learned to carry yourself like a proper Man!"

One of my rules of thumb is that if someone comes into the office carrying food -- especially while in the act of eating -- it is a sure sign of a boundary disturbance. Such individuals almost always have personality disorders with primitive boundary issues. It is as if there is no ontological distinction between the mouth they use to eat and the one they use to speak.

Again, we see how such disturbances are made possible because of the symmetrical logic of the unconscious mind. In primitive patients, one commonly sees what is called "zonal confusion," whereby, say, the ear becomes a voracious or angry mouth. As you might guess, such a person does very odd things with the words I transmit to them -- similar to what our trolls do -- e.g., tearing them apart with their teeth, swallowing them without chewing, spitting them out, etc.

It is a truism that you just never know what the patient hears, nor how they hear it. You can think you're making one crystal clear point, but they pick out something completely different. Again, communication becomes less problematic as one moves up the developmental scale, from primitive to neurotic to mature and beyond.

So now imagine the unenviable position of God. He wishes to communicate, to be known. But look at the bunch of losers and retards to whom he wishes to communicate! Humans! Of all people! Is it any wonder that the message gets so distorted? Talk about zonal confusion. For a primitive human being, it is the work of an instant to turn the ear into a mouth, an anus, a fist, or a phallus.

Inevitably this is going to sound a bit insane, isn't it? I well remember the first time I encountered such strange ideas (see also here). I skated through my masters program without ever truly penetrating beneath the well-lit space of the ego. It wasn't until my doctoral program that I was initiated into the noncivilized world of the primitive unconscious, mainly because I had an incredibly gifted professor, Dr. Panajian, who didn't just transmit (k) about it, but (n).

In this regard, understanding the unconscious is no different than understanding the supraconscious, for in both cases, experience is what counts. Book learning will only get you so far, and in many cases it will simply mislead. Here again, this is why in my book of the sane gnome I used the abstract symbols to talk about the supramental, for the same reason that Bion used them to talk about the unconscious.

Now, Balthasar makes reference to the "abyss that yawns between uncreated and created nature." Since we are creatures, we know there is a creator. But again, what's he like? We can employ metaphysical logic to understand certain things. For example, the neo-Platonists determined that God had to be "good," and that it was in the nature of the good to communicate itself.

True enough, but this reduces God to a kind of automatic mechanism. In short, it removes his personhood and therefore his freedom. To my knowledge, no Greek thinker ever conceived of God as a person, with all that implies (as opposed to a mythological figure such as Zeus).

Balthasar writes that this abyss "can only be bridged by a free creative act of God, not through some impersonal 'seepage' or -- as the Origenists suggested -- through the sinful disintegration" of the original unity of the ideal cosmos.

Again, it's the same as with any person. We don't just understand them because something seeps out of them, but because of what they choose to communicate. And there are varying levels of communication, from the very public, to the very private, to the intimate, to the secret.

This is why I say that everyone has a public life, a private life, and a secret life. Furthermore, these lives can become detached or split off from one another, when the task is to keep things flowing between them. If your public life has none of your private life, it will be without meaning. And if your private life has none of your secret life, it will be without passion. Etc. This is why rationalists are so boring. For the rationalist, all knowledge is potentially "public" and publishable, when the highest knowledge can't even be put into words, much less reduced to reason.

Certainly God couldn't publicize knowledge of himself with mere words. Rather, he could only do so by "becoming" that which he wished to convey. As they say, the primary teaching is "Christ crucified" -- and all it implies -- not any kind of explicit and unambiguous formula. Indeed, a formula is simply a defense against reality and thought, whether a religious one or a scientific one such as natural selection.

But reality is not like a leftist bumper sticker, such as "War is Not the Answer," "Question Authority," or "Don't Question Obama's Authority." Again, in the final unalysis, it is a person. And how do you understand a person?

Well, first of all you develop a relationship with them, don't you? You invite them in, maybe take them to lunch. Things deepen between the two of you, and then suddenly it goes in an unforeseen direction and you're being unfaithful to your ego. Then the ego gets a little jealous. Recriminations, ridicule, pleas for sympathy, wavering back and forth....

But you've made your choice. You must be strong! This time it's for real.

In this, most elevated sense, the phrase "Be what you are," as an invitation to conform one's existent being to the idea God has of it, is identical with the call to follow the Son of God. --Balthasar

Give me back my broken night
my mirrored room, my secret life
it's lonely here,
there's no one left to torture
Give me absolute control
over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby,
that's an order!
--Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On Touching God

The book we've been focusing on for the past few weeks -- Cosmic Liturgy -- is 400 pages long, and we're only up to page 80. I'd like to move things along if possible. Then again, what's the rush? After all, if it took Christianity 600 years to arrive at this synthesis, surely we can spend 600 posts on it.

I don't know if we need to dwell too long on Maximus' apophaticism, because this is something the average 'Coon already understands so well. He sounds very much like Schuon when he points out that God's "immanent name" is Being, while his "transcendent name" -- which, of course, can only be unSaid -- is Not-being (Schuon would say beyond being). The latter is a kind of "ray of darkness," not because of the absence of light, but because of the surfeit. It's too much light for us to see, so it can look like darkness until one's I adapts.

Put another way, we can know of God's existence but not his essence. And we know his existence by his energies, energies that we know could not have arisen from "nature."

Maximus writes that "as a consequence of his existence beyond being, he is more properly spoken of in terms of not-being." I don't know about you, but since human beings are in the image of the creator, I think of this in the same way I think of another human being.

That is, no matter how close you get to another human being, they nevertheless remain completely inaccessible in terms of a first hand knowledge of their essence. Rather, all you can know of them is their energies -- speech, movement, facial expressions. The latter all accompany the essence but are only analogues, not the real thing.

The miracle, really, is how unproblematic it is (for the healthy person, anyway) to "know" the essence of the other. What I mean is that human beings are able to share their essence with each other in such a way that they don't even know they're completely alone and trapped inside their neurology.

And it is a miracle, which I define as anything that comes about as a result of vertical causation. When two human beings are "together," it's not like a couple of objects brushing up against one another. Rather, we are intrinsically intersubjective -- in my opinion because God is. Again, the Trinity is the very essence of intersubjectivity, and cannot really be understood in any other way.

This is how we might understand certain paradoxical statements, such as "God goes forth out of himself and remains within himself." I mean, this is what I am doing at this very moment. With this post, I am "going out of myself," propagating my energies out into the world. And yet, I obviously haven't left my own head. I haven't actually moved at all. The really weird part is that so many of you are able to intuit my essence through these energies. For others, such as goddinpotty, the energies merely bounce off of them.

One of the most important psychoanalytic theorists was a fellow named R. D. Fairbairn, a brilliant man who helped psychoanalysis move from a one person inter-objective model to a two person intersubjective one. I don't want to get too pedantic here, but for Fairbairn, the essence of psychopathology lies in how well the person can manage their intersubjectivity. The project is intrinsically hazardous, because we obviously cannot do so without the assistance of other human beings, especially the Mother.

Think of our consciousness as a kind of infinite abyss. We are born into this abyss with no points of reference, nothing to hold on to, no way to convert it to "thought." In order to be a successful parent, you must be able to reach way down into the infinite subjectivity of your baby and help them form a map of reality. Conversely, it is easy enough to deny their subjective depth by treating them as an object.

Over the past four years, I've been able to spend a fair amount of time around parents who do this to their children, and it always makes me wince, because they are laying down barriers for the child's self-exploration and self-knowing. Yes, it can be regained later, but usually it is not (Fairbairn called it the "schizoid position"). I believe this is why so many people are so boring. Seriously, how many real live wires do you meet in a year? You know, people around whom you feel more alive, more free, more creative. Most people have the opposite effect.

This is something I noticed even -- or perhaps especially -- as a child. Why did so many grown-ups appear so dead, while others were so full of life? This is one of the reasons why I instinctively recoil from most leftists, as they are every bit as tedious as our current troll. What is political correctness but a kind of soul-crushing parental wet blanket that forecloses various avenues of thought, and therefore being?

Fairbairn pointed out that for the infant, the non-responsive parent cannot be understood in terms of an "absence." Rather, it is understood as the presence of something bad, i.e., a "bad object." This object is unconsciously internalized by the child, and forms the basis of what I call mind parasites.

A mind parasite is actually an "object relation" that consists of three parts: the subject, the object, and the affective link between them. Furthermore, because of the symmetrical logic of the unconscious, the person can at different times identify with either pole of the relation. This is something I see virtually every day in my practice. I could give examples, but I think you get the picture. It is why the liberal victim is always a bully, and vice versa.

The point is, what we call "reality" is actually a vast intersubjective space. And your ability to think deeply about it will partly depend upon the depth of your own intersubjective space. This space has no limits. Rather, any limits are only in your head. Thus, for example, to say that "God doesn't exist," is not a statement about God, but about one's own intersubjective space, which is unable to breach the walls of its own self-imposed limits.

But it's not just a religious problem. Many people are unable to truly love. Why? Because they are closed off from the intersubjective ground without which love could not exist.

Most of us have experienced this state, for example, if you have ever been truly depressed. "Sadness" is only an effect of depression. In my opinion, the real basis of it is a kind of exile into a hellish domain that loses its intersubjective depth. One can neither reach "in" nor "out." Nor can anyone else reach in. A friend of mine is going through this at the moment, and I'm doing what I can to help her through it, because one of the most bewildering aspects of depression is that one loses all of the familiar signposts that only exist in intersubjective space -- passions, hobbies, interests, etc. Without this passionate engagement with the world, there is only a kind of dis-oriented living death.

Hmm, how did we get here?

Oh yes, the intersubjective nature of God. How can one person have a vivid, passionate and life-affirming relationship with God, while for another, God doesn't even exist?

I guess at this point that's kind of a rhetorical question. I know that my four year-old already has a passionate relationship with God, even though I do nothing to impose any kind of top-down dogma on him. Rather, I help him name and explore his own spontaneous awareness of God. And as you parents out there know, it's just about the sweetest, purest thing you can possibly imagine. It cannot fail to render one misty with the old unshed, as my man Jeeves would say.

Why is that? Because, to paraphrase UnKnown Friend, tears signify "contact" between one plane of consciousness and another. It's literally touching.

Monday, August 10, 2009

When Infants Attack! On Reality and its Adversaries

I only have time for a speed post, if that. But my day doesn't feel complete if I don't write something. For me, it's more than just blah-blah-blogging. It's my primary verticalisthenic exercise.

Oddly, having a readership is important, even though this is primarily between me and O. I haven't formulated the exact dynamics of it, but there must be some sort of trinitarian aspect to it. In the absence of community, the verticalisthenics might devolve into a kind of binary narcissism. The sharing is intrinsic to the experience. It must be given away immediately. Or inflicted, depending upon where you stand.

It is also interesting that I have devoted readers for whom I do not write and who cannot benefit from my writing, since it either doesn't penetrate them or bounces off their opaque psychic substance -- for which they then blame me. You will have noticed that our trolls are always angry and even bitter. It's odd. They habitually seek me out in order to misunderstand my message so they can nurture their misplaced anger toward me. A psychologist would call this "madness."

I am always drawn to light and to depth, irrespective of the source. It's like a cold animal being drawn toward heat. As I've mentioned before, doing so can pretty much constitute the Raccoon path. Just follow the light and the depth and let the rest take care of itself. To a large extent you can't do anything else anyway, any more than you can make your muscles bigger by thinking about them. Rather, in the latter case, all you can do is engage in the conditions that will allow your muscles to grow. In short, you just lift weights and the muscles will automatically grow without you having to think about them.

Truly, spiritual growth is something that happens while you're busy doing other things, mainly just living. But living in a certain way. Once you turn around and orient yourself to O, then everything becomes an occasion for growth. But the growth is "microscopic," so to speak, until a certain threshold is reached, somewhat like filling a cup with water. The cup is either filling up or overflowing, even though you haven't changed your behavior. One day you just notice water all over the floor.

Schuon writes that the Christian way is essentially a "way of Grace," i.e., (↓). However, (↓) has an "outer" aspect and an inner one; the former is much more general, propagating itself "in the largest measure possible" -- even, I might add, to those who are not aware of its operation. If God's grace were to stop for one second, we would be reduced to animals. Atheists should be careful what they wish for, because in the absence of grace, everyone would look like Bill Maher, or Keith Olbermann, or goddinpotty -- and that's on a good day!

In other words, even a disreputable lowlife such as Bill Maher is the unwitting recipient of a kind of "residual grace" that infuses Christendom. In his own perverse way, he does care about truth and decency, except that in his inverted world the good becomes bad and Truth becomes the lie. If your world is fundamentally inverted, extra effort will only result in taking one further from the Source. Is this not obvious?

This is why there is no necessary relationship between intelligence and wisdom, and often an inverse one. If intelligence is not in service to a Truth that is anterior to it, you end up with -- obviously examples abound, but let's say Paul Krugman. One can assume Krugman has a higher than average IQ, but it is in such total service to an a priori Lie, that the result is indistinguishable from severe mental illness.

No, I am not attempting to diagnose an individual from a distance without examining him. But if I were treating such an individual, naturally I would not fail to notice his distortion of reality. Such distortion may superficially appear "passive" -- as if he has simply overlooked something -- when it is usually quite active, the result of an unconscious "attack on linking," as Bion called it. Such attacks are actually quite ferocious, but since they are unconscious, the person doesn't realize the extent of their rage. Picture a dog violently shaking something in its jaws. It's like that.

And why are they so enraged? Again, we can only speak in generalities, but it usually has something to do with the failure of reality to comport with infantile fantasy. Naturally this is something with which we all have to deal, and to which we must all reconcile ourselves. We all harbor "traces of omnipotence" resulting from our primary identification with the Great Mother. No matter who you are, irrespective of time or place, this is the land from which all humans have journeyed -- either successfully or not.

Infantile omnipotence is only given up reluctantly (even while there is a parallel drive toward autonomy and individuation). All perceptive parents are aware of this. I certainly see it in my four year-old, and it's a fascinating thing to behold. One of the important tasks of parenthood is to ease this transition, to not make it too abrupt on the one hand, or to overly indulge the child on the other hand. This is what the great psychoanalytic theorist D.W. Winnicott called "good enough parenting." The child must be "let down easy," so to speak. Err on one side and the child is traumatized by reality; err on the other side and he will be unable to face it.

The consequences of failure to properly individuate are increasingly well understood, not just by attachment theorists (who primarily rely upon infant-mother observation), but by developmental neuro-psychoanalysts such as Alan Schore (difficult) or Dan Siegel (easy).

I realize this will sound disingenuous to some, but I'm really not trying to "pathologize" my ideological adversaries. Rather, as I have discussed in the past, I'm simply operating from a developmental model that has a certain idea of what constitutes a healthy human being. Not only will certain systems facilitate or retard human development, but people will generally attempt to construct a system that reflects their level of development. This is why we say that "cultural space" is the instantiation of developmental time.

We just have two irreconcilable visions of the source and destiny of Man, that's all. Bygones!

Oops. Out of time. good DAY!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Liberal Fascism and Omniscient Stupidity

A random post from two years ago. As always, I've edited it, applied some of its insights to current historical tragedies and farces, and tossed in some fresh insultainment.

You might say that this verticalisthenic exercise of revisiting my past allows me hold a conversation with myself, almost like dream interpretation, in which one mode of consciousness dwells in another for the benefit of both. In this case, I'm trying to learn something from the old Bob, even while gently correcting his errors.

One of the enduring defects of leftist thought is that it habitually tries to change the world before it has understood the world -- which is one more reason why it is so cute that they refer to themselves as the "reality based community." Children and leftists say the darndest things!

For the left, politics comes down to one after another failed experiment against reality -- economic reality, historical reality, psychosexual reality, geopolitical reality, and spiritual reality, to name a few. (Speaking of which, this book, Economics Does Not Lie, is highly recommended. Bottom line: it doesn't. I'd love to say more, but I left the book at the office. Virtually every page brims with insights that every free citizen -- in order to become or remain free -- needs to know. But since leftists control education, the last thing they want citizens to know about is the science of economics. Rather, they need you to be innumerate in order to exert economic control over you and thereby expand the god of the State.)

When you think about it, at least half of our "lived freedom" comes in the form of economic activity. Therefore, to engage in economic activity without understanding how economics works is like.... engaging in some activity without understanding how it works. Notice how eager leftist are to, say, educate children about homosexual activity, when so few of us will ever engage in such activity. I'm trying to think back.... No, I've never put any of that stuff they taught me about homosexuality into practice.

Anyway, this compulsion -- and it is a compulsion -- to radically change the world before understanding it has been true ever since Marx, who believed that philosophy had theretofore regarded its task as interpreting the world, whereas its real mission and duty was to transform it. Allied with this cavalier attitude toward understanding reality is an equally ironic "progressivism" that has no stable ground and no transcendent purpose, and therefore easily becomes an arbitrary, anti-human tyranny whose elites march us forward directly into the past.

Look at the current healthcare debate. In America, we have developed the finest healthcare system in the world. How did we do it? Mainly by getting out of the way. In a way, we cannot understand how it happened, because that's how the free market works. As Hayek taught us, there is a near infinite amount of information dispersed throughout the market, which no government and certainly no person could ever grasp, and which is why the "fatal conceit" of top-down leftist economics never works in practice.

But does that stop the statists of the left from wanting to appropriate 17% of the economy? Of course not. They intend to instantly transform the medical system without having a clue as to how and why it has developed the way it has. Think about it. Something that evolved over hundreds of years, and yet, they want us to toss it all aside in favor of a bill that no one has even read yet! Madness.

Part of the madness is based on the idea that people have a "right" to healthcare. But how can one have a right to something that doesn't exist until someone produces it? I'm a doctor. No, not the kind that can tell a perfect stranger to take off her clothes. But you can bet that the left will try to get mental health treatment into universal coverage. What this means is that American citizens will be "entitled" to my labor. It's a right! But how is this different from me being a slave of the state?

When this post first appeared two years ago, I reviewed a laughable Report From Yearly Kos: The Intersection of Science and Progressive Values. In it, the author caricatures science, as if it could possibly arbitrate moral and political issues that intrinsically lie outside its strictly limited purview. See of you can detect the giant epistemological hole the left creates in order for them to slip in the fascism:

"[I]t has fallen to those of us who oppose the direction the country has been heading to simultaneously champion a way of thinking that would have averted so many blunders and disasters: empirical thinking. Scientific thinking. Critical thinking."

This is always the mode of the left: 1) create crisis. 2) insert "experts."

"... [N]ow more than ever before, we're finally waking up to the fact that the practices of science themselves encode a set of values -- a way of approaching the world, understanding it, and acting within it. At its core, it's a world view that is humble about what we know and don't know, flexible about what we do and don't decide to do, and open about admitting past mistakes and listening to contrary opinion. In short, it's the utter opposite of Bush's stubborn, inflexible, unwavering certainty about everything."

Yes, as that fascist President Bush said, "I don't want people who disagree with my takeover of the economy to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way, and I want my fellow patriots to turn their names into the state so they can be properly dealt with."

Ah, humility. Flexibility. Openness to admitting past mistakes. Will the left now humbly admit that their grandiose "war on poverty" has failed, and that, trillions of dollars later, they have no exit strategy for this senseless quagmire? Will they finally concede that economic principles are universal, and that their porkulus bill did nothing to stimulate the economy? Will they acknowledge that the surge in Iraq worked? Will they admit that none of the predictions of the global warming cult are panning out? Will they admit that it's August in southern California, and I'm a little cold right now?

Here is a fine example of the deep scientific humility of the progressive mind. The author opened the panel by "airing some lessons" from his new book, which explores "the scientific relationship between hurricanes and global warming." Hmm, just what is that scientific relationship? Well, it "remains murky and incompletely understood," another way of saying that there is no known scientific relationship.

But that forms no barrier to the leftist, who believes in... science! And... progress! And, most importantly, that manmade global warming causes hurricanes, whatever the evidence shows. Therefore, the absence of proof "hardly means that we ought to throw up our hands and ignore the subject, or simply wait for more research to come in. On the contrary, we have quite a lot at stake." As such, "we have every right to be worried that storms might be getting worse, and ought to move now to better protect ourselves against them."

Remember Marx's dictum about changing the world -- if he were a meteorologist, he might have said, "everybody talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it!"

So let's get this straight. Science is a humble exercise in which we employ empirical thinking and listen to contrary opinion. But in this case, we can't wait for research to come in! There's too much at stake! We must ignore contrary opinion! We have every right to be worried that storms might be getting worse, even though they're not! We must move now to better protect ourselves against them! (I wonder if the author would be gracious enough to allow President Bush this attitude vis-à-vis the far more compelling evidence for Saddam's WMD?)

What lesson does the author draw from his stated need to urgently act on his scientific ignorance? This

"highlights a fundamental truth about most science policy issues: the inescapable fact of both science and reality is that we never know everything, and never will. Yet this pervasive state of uncertainty hardly lessens the moral imperative to take whatever it is that we do know and use it to improve our lives..."

That pretty much sums up the attitude of the left, whether we're talking about global warming or radically transforming the healthcare system: omniscient stupidity. It reminds me of Bion's three characteristics of the psychotic mind: 1) omnipotence, 2) stupidity, and 3) curiosity. Not healthy curiosity, mind you, but a kind of bovine curiosity about things that are perfectly settled and no sane person would question.

If this man's morality is grounded in empirical thought, how does he arrive at an urgent moral imperative based upon murky evidence? Shouldn't it be a murky moral imperative, or moral murkiness? To suggest that we have an urgent moral imperative to act on our scientific ignorance is again about as good a summary of the leftist mindset as you could imagine, for it combines a radical cynicism that destroys traditional values, with an insane moral passion.

Another speaker at Yearly Kos spoke of the distinction between "mundane ignorance" and "virulent ignorance," the latter of which is "the willful disregard for contrary knowledge and opinion in favor of a set of dubious 'facts' that are the result of ideology and indoctrination." Ahem.

The above statement about the limits of science also conflates science and theology. Yes, it is an inescapable fact that "we never know everything, and never will," but that is not the purpose of science. Of course science can never "know everything." As Schuon writes, it is not problematic for science to study a "fragmentary field within the limits of its competence." Problems only arise when "it claims to be in a position to attain to total knowledge" and "ventures conclusions in fields accessible only to a supra-sensible and truly intellective wisdom, the existence of which it refuses on principle to admit."

By definition, science cannot know the Ultimate Real because "it replaces the universal Substance by matter alone, either by denying the universal Principle or reducing it to matter or to some kind of pseudo-absolute from which all transcendence has been eliminated." They forget that information is vertically anterior to matter, and that mind is anterior to information.

Science, properly understood, is an inherently conservative (i.e., classically liberal, not leftist) endeavor. It operates under the metaphysical assumption that there is a hidden order in the cosmos that may be uniquely disclosed to the human intellect, but it proceeds cautiously, builds on its past, respects its own traditions, and is slow to accept radical innovation in the absence of extraordinary proof. But secular progressives are never truly scientific, let alone humble. Rather, they nearly always adhere to the pseudo-philosophy of scientism, which conflates what may be known by the scientific method with the totality of what may be known. And as Schuon points out, scientism redounds to

"a totalitarian rationalism that eliminates both Revelation and Intellect, and at the same time a totalitarian materialism that ignores the metaphysical relativity -- and therewith also the impermanence -- of matter and of the world. It does not know that the supra-sensible, situated as it is beyond space and time, is the concrete principle of the world, and that it is consequently also at the origin of that contingent and changeable coagulation we call 'matter.' A science that is called 'exact' is in fact an 'intelligence without wisdom,' just as post-scholastic philosophy is inversely a 'wisdom without intelligence.'”

The radical change promised to us by liberal fascists is rooted in intelligence without wisdom. If that.

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