Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Between Thought and Expression

Between thought and expression lies a lifetime. --Lou Reed, Some Kinda Love

That pregnant line pretty much encrapsulates the horror of totalitarianism, for what is the latter but a wall between thought and expression?

In the free world, between thought and expression lies exactly one lifetime. Or, the time of one's life consists in the expression of one's thought, precisely, i.e., the actualization of the soul's potential.

And even then, the time one is allotted couldn't possibly contain the expression, which is more or less "infinite." For example, had Mozart lived to 70 or 80 instead of 34, he would have no doubt continued transforming musical thought into sonic expression. It is not as if he -- or it -- would have run out. But he could have also lived to 200 or 300, and we could say the same thing.

Except that if such were the case, works of genius would be so common as to be completely disposable. A play by William Shakespeare would be as rare as a film by Adam Sandler, or a post by some logorrheic spiritual blogger.

There seems to be a cosmic sense of proportion guiding these matters, so that works of genius are accessible without being too common or too rare. To put it another way, in any aesthetic endeavor, 99% of what one encounters will be crap. But if the figure were less than that, we would soon have a glut of excellence, thereby deflating its value.

Back to this question of the nature of totalitarianism. Applied to Lou Reed's formula, we might say that between thought and expression lies a.... state. Or, authority, which is to say, raw power. Or sometimes the means of expression, say, literacy, or a printing press, or the internet. Any totalitarian system must control access to information. Just as it was a crime to teach a slave to read, free access to the internet is forbidden in the totAllahterrorist world.

Perhaps the most concise way of saying it is to reverse the terms: between thought and expression, a lifetime of lies.

This is indeed the peculiar thing about totalitarianism, and what distinguishes it from mere tyranny (or from contemporary authoritarian states).

Think of ancient Rome, for example. As far as they were concerned, you were free to think what you wanted, so long as it didn't threaten state power. There was no need for the tenured to come up with fancy ideologies to legitimize the lust for power, or to reach into the individual soul and try to control its very existence. No one was crucified for political incorrectness, nor were there any low-tech lynchings for having racially impermissible thoughts.

Therefore, one cannot say that a Stalin, a Hitler, a Castro, simply wanted "power." That they already had. For some reason, they also wanted to refashion man by controlling him from within. There was nothing logical about this, because if anything, it only made the regimes more fragile instead of more robust. After all, National Socialism lasted only a dozen years, the Soviet Union less than seventy (ironically, a "lifetime"). By closing off thought in this manner, there is no way for the soul to "let off steam." One either goes insane, numbs oneself (say, with drink), or becomes a rebel.

"The most totalitarian regime is the one where the penetration of the regime into the soul of the individual is complete." Taylor adds that "the people must be made to want what they are allowed to have or to behave as if they want what they have." Therefore, there is always a "pretend" element in totalitarianism, at least until one convinces oneself that the Lie is the Truth. One then lives in "an ideological universe of lies," but no longer recognizes it as such.

I should add that this can be a very subtle process, especially in the non-totalitarian west, where ideology, for the most part, isn't imposed, but rather, seduces and hypnotizes.

For what is ideology but a substitute reality, or anti-world? It is a pseudo reality, like scientism, or materialism, or leftism, something superimposed on the world. Eventually the world is no longer perceived at all. Either it is filtered through the ideology, or critical aspects of reality excluded by the ideology aren't even seen (say, the spiritual world).

I am reminded of a story about a visitor to Moscow who was standing in front of a large Orthodox cathedral. He looked down at the official government map in his hands, but the church was nowhere to be seen. It was forbidden by their ideology to exist.

That is a very ham-handed example of denying reality. But think of the multitude of realities that are forbidden to exist by political correctness. Ironically -- I guess -- there is nowhere in America where thought is more constrained than on a university campus. Between thought and expression lies... speech codes!

Any liberal democracy -- indeed, the very essence of liberalism -- is grounded in the opposite principle: that freedom of expression is the essence of our humanness. Between thought and expression is... everything. It is the potential space -- the transitional space -- where we spend most of our timelessness (assuming we are truly "alive" in the human sense).

One might say that between 〇 and (¶) lies not just a lifetime, but eternity, precisely. It is where we compose our lifetome.

Now, what is totalitarianism but a false absolute? If one's thinking is constrained by any absolute except the Absolute, then one is living under auto-totalitarian rule.

In fact, perhaps totalitarianism is "evoked" by the madness of relativism. Totalitarianism is a solution to a very real problem of modernity, that is, the sundering of a unified worldview into facts and values, quantities and qualities, vertical and horizontal. Totalitarianism "heals" that split -- or, more accurately, stitches the wound closed with barbed wire.

Since man was not made to exist in such an absurd and unintelligible world of absolute relativity -- and to the extent that he rejects the perennial wisdom that articulates the Absolute -- then he will be susceptible to the lure of the false absolute, i.e., the "totalitarian temptation."

This helps to explain the novel emergence of the political religions of the 20th century -- and why public enemy number one of any state religion is always real religion, whether one is talking about communism, Nazism, or the ACLU. If one has ever read a gimme letter from the ACLU, their immorality always comes clothed in a hysteric veneer of moral urgency and crisis -- the perpetual crisis of conservatives who don't want an intrusive state between thought and expression.

Reminds me of Himmler, who, in delivering his speeches to the elect, always did so in the heat of great "moral exhortation." With this kind of stark cosmic inversion, Taylor observes that "We are outside of the human realm..., as though standing before a negative transcendence" (emphasis mine).

This is the very definition of the demonic, in that "these acts were carried out in the name of a good, under the guise of a moral code." And this was a strict moral code. For example, one of the authors notes that German soldiers who routinely murdered Jews were punished if they were caught stealing cigarettes from the corpse.

(This brings to mind Taranto's column yesterday [last story], which stresses the importance of wearing a condom if you are going to have sex with an animal. This is precisely the kind of absurd morality that exists in a scientistic world of negative transcendence.)

As Himmler urged his men, "If we do not find this moral connection, which is the deepest and best connection because it is the most natural, we will never rise to the level necessary to defeat Christianity and to constitute this German Reich, which will be a blessing to the entire world.

"For thousands of years, it has been the duty of the blond race to rule the world and always to bring it happiness and civilization." Emphasis mine, because note the extreme irony of Germans depicting themselves as the chosen people who have the extreme burden of bringing happiness and civilization to the world.

And it was a burden for those poor Nazis. In another address, Himmler said that extermination of the Jews "for those who carry it out is the hardest and most difficult thing in the world." Nevertheless, "I think I can say that this was accomplished without our men or our officers suffering because of it in their hearts or in their souls. Even so, this was a real danger."

I think it is accurate to say that the underlying purpose of ideology is to render the wrong right and the lie truth. It magically allows the means to justify the ends, since the utopian goal is so beautiful.

While there is always a strong element of this in contemporary leftist statism and bureaucratic socialism, there is also the converse: the means justify the end.

What I mean by this is that leftists are not interested in the actual results of their policies. Rather, the policies are always self-justified by the good intentions behind them, for example, forcing banks to make loans to unqualified borrowers, which is at the epicenter of our current economic woes (that and the inevitable day of wreckening for European socialism, since you can toss out economic reality with a pitchforked tongue, but it always comes roaring back; and oddly enough, the burden is once again on the Germans).

To be continued...


julie said...

This brings to mind Taranto's column yesterday [last story], which stresses the importance of wearing a condom if you are going to have sex with an animal. This is precisely the kind of absurd morality that exists in a scientistic world of negative transcendence.

Oh lord, yes. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor yesterday when I saw that. Though I shouldn't, I suppose. When OWS protestors speak of their longing to have sex with animals if they want to, and when a case of "consensual" incest makes headlines and all the good leftists can only shrug, it should be no surprise that people are not advised to refrain from fucking their pets even though even nature itself seems to be opposed to the behavior.

Between thought and expression lies... the speech code (though really, it's a thought-modification code) that prevents one from calling evil evil, and thereby not only fosters evil expression, it also hampers the good.

Gagdad Bob said...

I actually sent him that story for the running gag of "News You Can Use" (the headline was "Sex With Animals Linked to Penile Cancer.")

What would we do without sex education?

julie said...

About the only thing they don't seem to teach these days is what sex is actually for.

News you can use, indeed...

Gagdad Bob said...

From what I understand, it's for TSA agents to know and you to find out.

julie said...


Rick said...

Great post.
Reminds of this I caught recently (h/t Jewel's Tumblr, I believe) where Father Barron (very kindly) also examines means/ends absolute/relative and Obama's confused metaphysic:

Father Barron on Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope"

Gagdad Bob said...

The great moral burden has shifted from the Nazis to Occupy Wall Street.

Van said...

"Perhaps the most concise way of saying it is to reverse the terms: between thought and expression, a lifetime of lies."

A heavy sintax comes with that, certainly more than fifteen cents.

julie said...

Van, you must be thinking of the Santax...

JP said...

I'm not very impressed with our current cadre of trolls.

Van, can you do something to increase their entertainment value?

Van said...

JP said "Van, can you do something to increase their entertainment value?"

Well, off the cuff, hows about:

President Obama has imposed a tax on Christians, not only violating the 1st Amendment, but singling out One religion for punishment by the Federal Government.

Brings to mind... something... something about anti-... anti-... something, Christ, it's on the tip of my tongue....

Whachha think?

Van said...

"I think it is accurate to say that the underlying purpose of ideology is to render the wrong right and the lie truth. It magically allows the means to justify the ends, since the utopian goal is so beautiful."

If they dared to chase their own thoughts to their dark ends, they'd come face to face with the reality that their fantasy is to reform reality into their fantasy of how it should have been.

And not one piece of it integrates with another without a roll of duck ape wound tightly around it.

Evil live on stage.

Van said...

" that leftists are not interested in the actual results of their policies. Rather, the policies are always self-justified by the good intentions behind them..."

Hey! No peaking at my posts before I'm ready to post them!

(Did I type that outloud?)

John Lien said...

That tax funds the...

Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace..."

The "Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace????

Are Festivus poles eating into their market share?

Oh, I think I get it. Artificial trees. They must be the evil ones.

Could there be a better example of overreaching federal government? This is so perfect at so many levels.

Yea Big Gummit!

Gagdad Bob said...

Maybe I'll open up anonymous commenting again. In my sleep, I can play a much better troll than our existing ones.

JP said...

I completely missed the Christmas tree thingy.

I was paying too much attention to Italian 10-year bonds spiking above 7% to tell you the truth.

Christmas trees are big business. One of my lawyer friends once litigated a major Christmas tree case. Lots of billable hours for that one.

JP said...

I'm going to start ranking troll posts.

I haven't seen anything above a 3.5 out of 10 for some time.

How's wine regulated for Catholic mass?

I'm not asking this to be funny. I'm honestly curious. Wouldn't that be similar?

Van said...

JP, not that you probably haven't already seen it, but,

"Stocks plunge, with major markets down by more than 3 percent and Dow shedding nearly 400 points"

Waaay better than Itallian whine.

julie said...

Yay, anonymous commenting!

Van said...

I'll get the popcorn....

TSA Agent said...

Just so we're clear, you can carry on a dog, a Costco-sized box of condoms, and an assortment of leather gear, and your favorite animal fetish magazines, so long as they'll fit in the overhead bin.

But if you pack a pair of tweezers or an oversized container of lube, you're just begging for a special search.

The Nameless One said...

One foot in the grave and the other in hell.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Dear One-Cosmosians,

I wish to extend my deepest apologies for my most recent outburst.

As you have permitted me to return, I must admit that I got a bit too excited. A form of hypomania on my part, I must admit. You may rest assured that, in the future, my posts will be only of the highest caliber.

You will not regret your decision to allow me to live again and to once again breath the fresh air of life.

My comments will, at all times henceforth, conform to the Good, the Beautiful, and the True.

Anonymous said...

GRABBLE BARG (spittle)

Anna said...

wv: unreedit

julie said...

What is read can never be unread...

JP said...

Mr. Market has been most unkind to me recently.

It's hard to make money when things trade like a three year old trying to color inside the lines.

Sadly, I'm out until the next bull market.

However, I am having lots of fun with 2% CD's. Ergo, I've adopted the hobby of watching the Italian debt market (the world's THIRD LARGEST) slowly (and now quickly) implode.

I also note that the Christmas Tree tax just got chopped down.

Van said...

Dear aninnymouse,

Very lame. I'm tempted to give you a "0", however taking into account your being rusty, and for the fun of being able to type 'aninnymouse' again, I'll give a "1".

Other judges estimations may vary.

JP said...

I'll give 1.5 points for creative use of the alphabet.

Three nonsense words in a row has to be worth something.

Anna said...

I had the fun of reading 'aninnymouse'.

John Lien said...

JP sez:

"I also note that the Christmas Tree tax just got chopped down."

That was fast. Not sure my body can handle generating and dissipating rage that rapidly. I may need cooling fins.

yOWSer said...

I am not a "troll."

I'm having a bad day and could use a few kind words.

I would really treasure a few kind words from Julie.

I feel so gray and lifeless. I feel so tattered and frayed. I feel so listless and lost.

I do like Jimmy Carter, though. And I like Chopra.

For that must I be executed?

The Transcendent One said...

@ yOWSer:


Pwr2thePlpl said...

The content of the blog post was unsupported by evidence.

Therefore, it is inadmissable in the court of cyberlaw.

It is void. Try again tommorrow. Include observations, interviews, and record reviews to support any points, expecially against the Left.

Allegations against the Right however do not require evidence and are considered valid due to the squareness and uncoolness of that whole scene.

Thank you and don't be uncool. PC is EZ. Peace Out

julie said...

Man, this/these troll/s is/are lame so far. Free reign with anonymity and that's the best you can do?


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ideas for a new tv show about the OWSers called:

Reality Really Bites!

A reality show about people that ignore reality and the hilarity n' mayhem that ensues.

A horror/comedy of errors. Think: Beavis and Butthead meet Children Of The Corn.

The first episode will feature the human teleprompter (a variation on the human microphone).

"We are the ones we have been waiting for!"

"We have to protest to find out what we are protesting." H/T Nancy Pelosi

All critics agree it's a real riot!

Props include greek columns, a giant red reset button and President Obama.

Alternate titles include (but not limited to):

Of Lice And Men
Occupy This!
Occupy That!
Drag Me To Hell
The Doh!men
Obama Shop Of Horrors
Wah! Street Blues
Double Indumbnity
Dumbest And Dumbester
Pawn Of The Dead

With the hit single: Wastin' Away Again In 'bamacommieville

John Lien said...

Hey Magnus, Have you seen The Troll Hunter? Was it any good?

Yeah, I was the first anonymous troll post. I was hoping to call them in. Sorry for the lameness.

julie said...


Actually, I liked the troll call. Pretty funny, that. I kind of want to see that movie now, too, although it looks like it should be an MST3K feature...

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Brought to you by Jayzee Spentworth
"It's your money and I need it now!"

And, Ben and Jerry's I Scream

John Lien said...

Ben sez:

"We have to protest to find out what we are protesting." H/T Nancy Pelosi


Cond0010 said...

"Maybe I'll open up anonymous commenting again. In my sleep, I can play a much better troll than our existing ones."

LOL. Troll Market* is now open!

Where's a parakeet when you need one...

ge said...

Perry misses his chance---he coulda said "The Dept. Of Redundancy Dept."

Van said...

willian squeaked "That’s the way conservatives think. Illogical. Conflicted. Yes, expression and thought that do not connect."

Hmmm... I'm gonna have to give that a "-1". Not only did he fail to enflame passions, he merely made himself look stupid (google his ref's), and then capped it off using words he doesn't understand ("illogical', 'thought'), which just made him look like Rick Perry in a memorization contest.

Overall an extremely poor showing for the current gorge troll.

Gonna have to do better than that Trols, to even get on the board.


JP said...

I think he has us confused with someone else.

Although I really like NASA (especially those little Martian rovers), so I'll give him a "2".

Al J. Zira said...

You're both nuts. We have assurances from your president that the prime mission of NASA is Muslim outreach.

William said...

@Major Tom

Good thing... we wouldn't want to fund any phoney global warming alamists like NASA.

Major Tom said...

Agreed. Thankfully, our dear leader hasn't lifted a finger to stop global warming, despite promising to make the oceans cease rising.

Ground Control said...

Besides, we have more important things to do. America needs a rebranding, stat!

Your tax dollars at work™