Friday, July 08, 2011

Living and Loving in the Real World

When I speak of "evolution" on the human plane, I mean it in exactly the sense John Paul does in this letter to a friend in 1957:

"I am convinced that life is a constant development toward that which is better, more perfect -- if there is no stagnation within us." He adds that it is a great achievement "to see values that others don't see and to affirm them," but an even greater one "to bring out of people values that would perish without us. In the same way, we bring our values out in ourselves."

Put them together, and you have a life devoted to awakening and articulating the latent values that lay dormant in people, in the effort to help them evolve toward that which is better. This is only possible in light of the "perfect," i.e., the Absolute, without which there could be no hierarchy or gradations of quality. But in reality, man is always -- what's the word, Jeeves? Asymptotically? -- "on the way" to perfection. Man is surely a bridge, but not to nowhere, as he must be for the materialist.

As we have discussed in the past, this was the proper meaning of evolution before the word was appropriated and redefined by Darwin. Taken literally, evolution is precisely what cannot happen under metaphysical Darwinism. Rather, only horizontal change may occur. Notice, for example, how Darwinian fundamentalists are always so quick to cut man down to size, insisting in various ways that he is "just an animal." But I don't get my truth from animals -- with the exception of certain partial truths about animality.

In their worldview, it is as philosophically absurd to suggest that man is superior to animals as it is to say that blue is better than the key of C. It's just pure nonsense, because "better" can only be understood in the context of a hierarchy of transcendent values.

As you all know by now -- actually, maybe you don't. But I'll be brief so as to not bore. When I made the formal decision to enter the spirituality racket -- to dive into the deep end of the cosmos -- it was initially as a disciple of the Indian sage, Sri Aurobindo, whose theology I felt at the time to be the most "capacious" and insightfully see-worthy.

Probably because he was raised in the west from a very young age -- and was educated at elite places such as Cambridge by professors such as Whitehead -- he assimilated much of this environment into his theology and metaphysics after returning to India in his 20s. I don't know that it was intentional, but the end result was a "Christianization" of Hindu metaphysics, which was itself an evolutionary leap in what had theretofore been a less sophisticated theology.

Interestingly, I came upon a passage that said as much in God and the World, a book length interview with then Cardinal Ratzinger. Hmm.... Lotta good stuff in here. Getting distracted. Pay attention! Right. Here it is:

"We can already see how, by way of Indian intellectuals, the leaven of Christianity has found a way into Hinduism. The number of Indians who revere and love Jesus is extraordinarily great, far greater than the number of Christians, even if in this case Christ is simply counted in among a series of other saviors."

I don't remember when it was -- a few years back, anyway... charter Raccoon Will seemed to have already realized it -- but it dawned on me that Aurobindo's whole spiritual project was a kind of Christianized Vedanta, for several reasons. First, its focus was on this world. In contrast to the traditional view -- which regards the world as a kind of deception -- Aurobindo regarded it as important in its own right. You might say that the world is worthy of our being in it, which is saying a lot.

This led to a particular appreciation of the body, even the "divinization of the body," which essentially comes down to the idea that his is a descending path, in contrast to the ascending ones of Hindu tradition. In other words, instead of escaping up and out "into God," the spiritual vector is reversed, and the emphasis is placed upon bringing God down "into the world."

Call it "incarnation" if you like. Or sanctification. In this regard, our earthly spiritual "evolution" is exactly as John Paul describes it above -- an adventure of consciousness from what we are toward whom we ought to be; or toward whom we truly are, which always includes an element of relationship (which in turn imbues the relative with a kind of absoluteness, more on which in a subsequent post).

Now, John Paul's theology is very much like Aurobindo's, in the sense that its purpose is to encompass everything, i.e., every plane of being from the lowest to the highest, and yet, bring the highest into the lowest, so to speak, in order to appreciate it in a new Light. Jesus is obviously the quintessence of this, in that he represents the highest-made-lowest in order to "redeem" the latter -- not just man, but the entire cosmos. (Ratzinger notes that a better translation is "God so loved the cosmos...")

In practical terms, what it means is that -- at least from this Raccoon's point of view -- virtually everything can and must be bobtized and divinized. This is how his "theology of the body" is to be understood. But it doesn't just apply to sex and marriage. Rather, the priest's duty is "to help make God present in the world," not just in "official" ways, such as the celebration of Mass, but, as did Jesus, "to live with people, everywhere they are, to be with them in everything but sin."

In the past, I have written of the analogy between this way of living and jazz, since it unifies the extremes of great preparation and then forgetting all about it; it is a complementarity of discipline and slack, which ultimately comes down to a terrestrial analogue of Absolute and Infinite (which are also male and female, respectively).

Thus, John Paul (then Wojtyla) wrote of how an excursion into "the world" -- i.e., with people -- "had to be a 'well-prepared improvisation' in which the priest was ready and willing to talk about everything, 'about movies, about books, about one's own work, about scientific research, and about jazz bands...'" He felt he had "a special responsibility to help those who want 'consciously to create the lifestyle of the modern Catholic.'"

By 1954 he understood that there can be no sharp division of life "into the serious and frivolous [whew! -- ed.], the true and the unimportant. The contemporary tendency to fragment life, or to reduce the question of truth to a secondary issue, had to be resisted. 'The method of the Kingdom of God is the method of truth.' Because of that 'man must be prepared to agree with reality in its totality'" (emphasis mine).

This openness to all of reality is, of course, in the spirit of Vatican II. More to the point, it goes back to the literal meaning of "catholic," which is, in my dictionary: fr. Gk katholikos universal, general, fr. kata by + holos whole 1: COMPREHENSIVE, UNIVERSAL: esp: broad in sympathies, tastes, or interests.

I mean, right? Isn't that what we endeavor to do here? Put everything in Humpty's postmodern dumptruck back together again? And even if Humpty shell fall frumpty times as awkward again, we'll have iggs for the brekkers come to mournhim, sunny side up with care (Joyce). To be perfectly obscure, in order to be meek with an om light and become a fertile egghead, you'll have to make a fast break from a few notshalls. It's the most important meal of the deity!

So. Back in communist-controlled Poland, there was an ongoing attempt by the state-- quite literal, mind you -- to do the precise inverse of what John Paul was doing, for this is what the Left does, ether obviously or more subtly: "communism deliberately fostered the fragmentation of society and the atomization of its members, the better to maintain political control and the easier to form [the] 'new socialist man.'"

No one could or can live fully -- or be fully alive -- under such a regime. Therefore, life must be stolen on the sly. In a very real way, human life becomes against the law.

For this very reason, the people around him were "attracted" to the young priest, for they felt "alive" in his presence: "We felt completely free with him, without any burden. His presence led us to express ourselves. While he was among us, we felt that everything was all right.... We felt that we could discuss any problem with him; we could talk about absolutely anything."

How different this is from contemporary America, where our elites associate "aliveness" and "openness" with a kind of "empty freedom" which reduces to nihilism, and "closedness" and "rigidity" with religiosity.

Is the latter a problem? Quite obviously. But it's the same problem Wojtyla re-cognized: that, for some reason, religion is not adequately meeting man where he is, or speaking to who he is.

In my view, it is a "false solution" to suggest that man simply made a wrong turn with modernity, and that he needs to revert to the mindset of Traditional Man and culture, which are forever normative for him. No way am I giving up my stereo. Far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter when you were born, or into what culture, so long as you're ashamed of it. That's real multiculturalism, since it sees beyond the contingent and converges upon what is universal.

No earthly manifestation is or can be absolutely normative for man. Again, the norm is up ahead, in the future (although it once manifested in time and history). It is that toward which we are evolving, the better-on-the-way-to-the-perfect. Thus, for man it is always the new normal. Or, to put it another way, you're not normal unless you're made new.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

It is Not Good that Man Should be Allone

Theology, if it is to retain its status as the "queen of sciences," must not only be capable of "dialoguing" with science, but accounting for its very possibility. No one doubts that it can do this; the question is whether it can be done in a simplistic or sophisticated manner -- if the queen can be truly regal or just a drag.

For example, one could simply say: "God created the world and scientists, ergo, religion explains science." This type of explanation is unlikely to persuade anyone who doesn't already believe it.

Atheists believe the converse, and it is of course no less simplistic: that man creates religion and everything in it. While this is a "scientific" explanation, it is just the mirror image of the first, and unlikely to convince anyone who isn't already inclined to believe it. Both statements are tautologies anyway, in that they conclude at the end what is foreordained at the start.

In the last couple of posts, we have been discussing John Paul's theology of the body. Here is a perfect example of how theology needn't only "dialogue" with science (assuming that psychology and human sexuality are sciences), as if the two are equal partners on the same plane of being.

Rather, I find John Paul's approach to be both much higher and deeper than any merely human model of human sexuality. Prior to knowing anything about his theology, I had believed modern object relations psychoanalysis to provide the most comprehensive and realistic account of human sexuality and sexual pathology.

But I find that John Paul's theology is capacious enough to contain the psychoanalytic explanation, whereas the reverse is strictly impossible, at least in official circles, in that psychoanalysis is a thoroughly secular enterprise (Jungians excepted) that even began with overt hostility toward religion (e.g., Freud's Moses and Monothesim and Civilization and its Discontents or Madman Reich's further reduction of psychoanalysis to a cult of pure id).

Sounds crazy today, but the latter superegomaniacal idiot had a major influence on the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and is often cited in the counter-culture illiterature of that era. There is nothing "new," much less "progressive," in these thinkers. Rather, their entire bloated corpus comes down to a new way to preach to man what he wishes were true, and for which there is always a ready audience of suckers.

It's just that in the subsitious modern world, the intellectual infanity must be clothed in the trappings of science, which is how we end up with leftist pione'er-do-wells such as Herbert Marcuse, Norman O. Brown, Erich Fromm, and all the rest of those adorning acolyte weights. To this day, trolls such as William often cite their less-than-worthless "research" to prove the truism that people to the right of Marx are sexually repressed and/or mentally ill for reasons that follow inevitably from their false assumptions. (A few years ago the hapless John Dean published a book based upon this literature, with not the vaguest idea that he was but a tool and useful idiot for the propagation of cultural Marxism.)

Likewise, conservatives are intrinsically "hypocritical," since, deep down, they are no different from the leftist who knows that there is no such thing as "sexual morality." Rather, the latter is simply a bad-faith cultural construct designed to prevent man from being what he actually is, which is to say, a polymorphous seeker of sexual release.

I'm just thumbing through Kimball's book, which includes Freud's well-known statement that "It is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built up upon a renunciation of [sexual] instinct." Therefore, our "truest" self is our most primitive, pre-personal self, AKA our animal nature. As such, it is every man's task to "liberate" this "person" (which is really a thing). It is the exact inverse of the traditional view, which draws our animal nature up into the properly human sphere.

It is facile in the extreme to suggest that the latter is accomplished via "repression." While that certainly occurs, the real way is transformation. But there is just enough truth in the theory of repression to appeal to people who are sexually unhappy, and who believe that they would find happiness and sexual utopia if only they could f*** anything that moves.

In this regard, it is critical to bear in mind that this movement was not rooted in knowledge or wisdom. Rather, it was a doctrine of boastful ignorance founded upon a systematic denial of human nature. I don't have time to go into details, but thinkers from this era are impossible to parody; Kimball has many more examples in a chapter called "The Marriage of Marx & Freud." Talk about a pomosexual union.

Back to Wojtyla and the capaciousness of his worldview. Not only did he open and widen the Church's views on sexuality, but early on he formed a network of connections to the scientific world, especially to physics and biology.

For his part, one of the physicists in this network expressed the same principle I mentioned above regarding human sexuality. That is, Wojtyla's "way of thinking" -- in particular, his metaphysic -- provided a way "in which one could speak coherently and in a connected way about everything," from the most vast and abstract to the most mundane and particular. And this is indeed what we ask of a metaphysic: to provide a kind of comprehensive "map" of reality, in which everything can find its rightful place.

For example, a strictly scientistic account of human sexuality reduces to animal sexuality, which may be further reduced to genetic transmission and survival. All of the elaborate ritual surrounding human mating is really just a genetic trick to get oneself -- and the other -- over the genetic hump. The various sociobiological explanations of something as complex as "love" are mostly silly, but from the scientistic perspective, if genes explain everything, then everything is explained by genes. Does this include the explanation? Don't ask!

At the heart of Wojtyla's metaphysic is not matter, or math, or physics; rather, "love" is "at the very center of the human condition." While this undoubtedly sounds both sentimental and mythological to the uninitiated, this is not the way it is intended.

Rather, he means it quite literally; and because the human being stands at the "center" of creation (which he certainly does in the evolutionary/vertical sense, analogous to a dot at the top of a three-dimensional cone), then love is at the center of the cosmic center.

In 1956 he wrote a letter to a member of his intellectual circle, correcting the false impression that he would like to see everyone married. Rather, "the most important problem is really something else."

That is, everyone "lives, above all, for love. The ability to love authentically, not great intellectual capacity, is what constitutes the deepest part of a personality. It is no accident that the greatest commandment is to love. Authentic love leads us outside ourselves to affirming others.... Marriage makes sense... if it gives one the opportunity for such love..., if it draws one out of the shell of individualism and egocentrism."

Even deeper than love -- or, perhaps we should say a predicate of love -- is relationship. As such, I believe it would be slightly more accurate to say that relationship is at the foundation of Wojtyla's metaphysic, and that love is at the center of his theology. To get from the former to the latter requires the "leap of faith," in that it is possible -- even necessary -- to arrive at relationship using pure logic and no revelation at all.

But to know that this is a relation of love requires the lovers to reveal themselves as one in an eternal circle of lover-loved-love. In my view, everyman is a trincarnation of this ultimate reality, which is why it is not good that he should be allone -- which he cannot be anyway, because deepdown and wayup he is always allthree.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Falling in Love With Love

I'll probably be jumping around from topic to topic as I reflect upon the John Paul biography, before returning to his theology of the body (although we'll undoubtedly be bobbing and weaving it in as we go along). But at the moment we're back in Poland in the early '50s, where Wojtyla is a young priest. He is going about his priestly business, but, for whatever reason, is deeply drawn into the subject of male-female love. Indeed, in his own words, he falls deeply "in love with love."

Which is again a rather unusual course of events, isn't it? After all, the typical person who is interested in this fascinating subject of male-female relations just grabs an opposite partner of the complementary gender without so much as a first thought.

If you are anything like me, you dove right into the pool without even looking beneath the surface to determine if there were any dangerous objects below. This, despite the fact that you had seen all those movies in which these things rarely turn out well. No, you'd be different. Why? Because she/he is perfect! And besides, love conquers all. Ignore all those bodies piled up at the bottom.

And in any event, one certainly doesn't study the phenomenon from afar, like an anthropological observer in an alien culture. For one thing, how is one to study a reality that must be experienced in order to know anything about it?

Again, as mentioned yesterday, the usual way is predictably "natural." John Paul's way is... what? Unnatural?

No, not necessarily, unless the person were suffering from some sort of disease, say, hypotestosterone. Such an individual doesn't struggle with celibacy. Frankly, the problem doesn't even come up. And in any case, what qualifies the hypotestosteronic person to opine on the testosteronic? Or estrogenic, for that matter?

Disease is actually "natural," in the sense that it is explained without recourse to any factors outside nature. But to paraphrase Schuon, instinct is, for the animal, its collective intellect, a kind of unerring wisdom. Imagine being a bird, and having to invent the nest from scratch. That would be the end of birds.

Conversely, for man, intellect is his instinct. And the intellect is oriented toward the love, truth, and beauty which reflect its source. To the intellect, the latter are "natural." Therefore, it is strictly unnatural for man qua man to live in an environment drained of love, or truth, or beauty. Like the bird and its nest, if each man had to reinvent love, truth, and beauty, that would be the end of man.

In short, for man, the supernatural is his natural habitat. Denied the supernatural, he is no longer man, but a mere instinct-driven animal. Surely, therefore, it can be no coincidence that Wojtyla, from the age of 20 onward, found himself living in an environment ruled by leftist revolutionaries who systematically endeavored to do away with man by eliminating love, truth, and beauty (and the matrix of divine freedom upon which they depend).

Nothing makes one appreciate oxygen so much as being deprived of it. Otherwise one doesn't even notice it. Same with any other human need. In fact, the psychoanalyst W.R. Bion developed a metapsychology in which our humanness is "born," so to speak, in the space -- one might say the delay -- between desire and its fulfillment.

One doesn't have to take this literally in order to appreciate its mythic power. The point is that during our first nine months of existence, we float in a watery medium in which our needs are met before we are even aware of them -- similar to how the needs of our lungs are spontaneously met once we transition to this here gaseous medium.

Once outside the material womb, we are then nurtured in the space of a mamaterial womb that is, to put it simply, composed of "love" (we are speaking of what should ideally happen, not what too often actually does happen).

Thanks to maternal love, the infant's needs continue to be met in this strange new medium. That being the case, they can't even be called "needs," because one cannot have a need until one is aware of an absence -- of the thing needed. Therefore, one might say that for the infant, "need" is slowly coming into existence as he becomes conscious of desire and of absence (not fulfillment, mind you, because this only confirms needlessness, so to speak).

When the infant cries, it doesn't yet know "why" it is crying. Hunger? Cold? Lonely? Pissed off? Please stop arguing and act like adults? Change the channel? Who knows? These are just words.

It is the mother's task to intuitively respond to the distress by "naming" it for the baby. Otherwise it remains a "nameless dread." Only eventually does the baby come to name these things. And one doesn't have to be a clinical psychologist to know that many people never do properly name them. For example, it is common for "loneliness" and "hunger" to get mixed up, so that the person eats when he is feeling lonely, or frightened, or angry, whatever.

And while we're on the subject, it is exceedingly common for people to confuse love and sex. Instead of being integrated at a higher level, they are merged at a lower one. Importantly, they must first be separated before they can be unified -- which is, for example, why sex with a child is always wrong. I would add "as if it needs to be said," but, as evidenced by the subhuman research mentioned in yesterday's post, it does need to be said. Adults who never separated sex from love prey on children who are unable to do so, if not literally then figuratively (the latter is a much bigger societal problem than the former).

This immature fusion of sex and love is much more common than one might realize. For example, one rarely sees a promiscuous young woman who isn't actually searching for the love of which she was deprived as a child. This is hardly "empowerment," but the sad confession of a missing part of the self. Likewise, men who are unable to commit usually have deficits in this area. Being human is complicated, because it is not simply given, like "dogginess" or "fishness."

Rather, it can only gradually be actualized, similar to how, on the biological plane, the embryo slowly develops along the lines of its inner form. The latter is objective development, so to speak. But not really, for man is not an object; nor is he a subject; rather, he is a subjectObject, in which, as they say, the soul is the form of the body. Therefore, our subjective development occurs in the same way -- which is to say, it develops.

And to say "development" is to say time -- not empty time, but structured, or formal, time. In this regard it is analogous to, say, the seasons, which provide man with a kind of earthly analogue of "conditioned time." In reality, human time is never empty, like the abstract duration of physics, which doesn't actually exist. And even if if did, you could never prove it without having a good time trying.

Now, the most potentially complicated part of becoming human is that we cannot do it without other humans. Not human "objects," mind you, but human subjects. Provided only with objects who meet their every biological need, babies will actually die (which, one might say, is a kind of mercy).

And not only that. Rather, these must be deeply intimate relations with human subjects, beginning with mother and father. We start out completely entangled with these loving objects, and it is only through their love that we will gradually disentangle from them and then be able to radiate the love outward. Then, as the poet said, we will be back at the beginning, but know the place (consciously) for the first time.

In any event, as we shall see, instead of "falling in love" in the usual disastrous way, John Paul well and truly "fell in love with love," which became one of the cornerstones of his theology. I don't pretend to be an expert on the matter, but it seems to me that the others were freedom and truth. And none of these could exist separately from the others, as some sort of abstraction from the totality of being.

Early on, Wojtyla recognized that sexuality is "a gift from God," which one may not offer to another person without "the knowledge that he is offering it to a person." One can fail here in ways both obvious and subtle.

More obviously there are fetishists and other paraphiliacs who prefer sex with actual objects. But we can also treat subjects as objects, which is "wrong" because it is unnatural for humans to do so -- bearing in mind what we said about intellect being man's instinct.

Rather, as John Paul wrote, "On the other side there is also a human being who must not be hurt, whom one must love. Only a person can love a person. To love means wishing the other's welfare, to offer oneself for the good of the other.... In this area one must not separate love from desire. If we respect desire within love, we will not violate love..."

He also took seriously the power of "young love," perhaps more seriously than the typical jaded adult who sees it only as "puppy love." But he "came to believe that 'young people are always searching for the beauty in love.' They might fall short of the mark, but 'in the depths of their hearts they still desire a beautiful and pure love.'"

I would regard this as coming from the same place as the adolescent's political idealism that typically draws him into some form of leftism, at least in the absence of any boundaries or guidance. Some of us outgrow our puppy politics, and develop more mature ways to express our innate idealism, the latter of which being the perpetual shadow cast by the eternal "lure" of love, truth and beauty.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Sex: Is It Really Narcissary?

Back to the John Paul biography we've been discussing over the last couple of weeks. I finished it awhile ago, but have been reflipping and reflecting through it in order to dwell upon some of the things that stood out -- or in -- for me.

Everyone seems to agree that his Theology of the Body is his most important written work, although it is apparently too difficult for most lay people to understand (I've only just begun it), and its message may take decades to filter down into common understanding (if indeed it ever does). It is the perfect example -- America's founders being another -- of how the most conservative doctrine is the most revolutionary, and vice versa.

Indeed, the whole Judeo-Christian stream is an ongoing revolution, a declaration of independence from physics, chemistry, and necessity.

Of course, the doctrine will first have to seep into the priesthood before the laity, and this may pose its own barrier, because I don't see how someone could appreciate the doctrine in all its fullness if one isn't entirely secure both in one's celibacy and one's sexuality.

For variety of reasons, this is a tall order. It's one thing for a priest to discuss sexuality if it is considered a vaguely negative thing, or some kind of compromise with one's animal nature. It is quite another to regard it not only as an unambiguous good, but the most important human icon of the interior of ultimate reality.

Again, in order for a priest to appreciate the latter, he must simultaneously become more aware of the "sacrifice" entailed in his own celibacy, and this requires a level of psychological and spiritual maturity that seems almost unreasonable. Which I suppose is the point. No one could accomplish it if, first, they didn't have the vocation to do so, and second, without the enlistment of the Holy Spirit.

It reminds me of a more general principle of maturity, and one that can be determinative in the evolution of a culture. I refer to the envy barrier, a subject I have posted about on more than one occasion.

In short, in order for a modern free economy to succeed, individuals must tolerate their "natural" envy of the successful, of those people who acquire more. In psychospiritually primitive cultures -- in which I would include the left -- envy is not tolerated, but instead, indulged, which by no means results in the betterment of the envier in any material sense.

Rather, by appropriating from the envied, it diminishes the psychological pain of envying the successful or more affluent person. This is why, as I mentioned in Sunday's post, leftism is similar to Islamism, in the sense that both are "fantasy ideologies" unconsciously built for emotional comfort, not economic speed.

It doesn't matter that class warfare can only result in less wealth and affluence for everyone. That is not its purpose. Rather, the purpose is again peace of mind, i.e., freedom from persecutory envy. Hence the obsession with "equality," which is just a euphemism for the appeasement of envy.

And importantly, the same principle applies to wealthy leftists, those "limousine liberals" who cannot tolerate being the object of envy. By appeasing envy in the manner of, say, the worthless Ted Kennedy, they are "off the hook," cleansed of the guilt produced by their projection of envy into the anonymous masses, the "little people." They are then free to be as greedy and selfish as usual, in an unconflicted manner. (The same applies to all those big-time polluters such as Al Gore or Thomas Friedman, who champion the dangers of "global warming.")

A fellow at NRO describes well the counterproductivity of indulging in envy in order to legitimize rasing taxes on high-income earners:

"As a result of lower tax rates on the top income earners, not only do they pay a much larger share of all taxes, but they pay much more taxes total -- and revenue to the government has increased. This is because lowering taxes on the rich creates more rich people and richer rich people. The federal government gets much more revenue if you impose a 40 percent tax on a large number of very wealthy millionaires than if you impose a 70 percent tax on a small number of less wealthy millionaires."

Common sense, really, but fantasy ideologies do not truck in common sense. Note that the church has a long history of being as ambivalent about capitalism as it was toward sexuality. No doubt both activities can give rise to dangerous and destructive vices, greed on the one hand, ungoverned lust on the other. But the point is not to deal with the impulse behind these through repression and denial, but to transcend them through integration at a higher level.

I would be the last person to apologize for capitalism stripped of any spiritual context. One of the more bizarre myths of the left is that corporations are somehow "conservative," when this is manifestly untrue. Indeed, there are more wealthy donors to the Democratic than Republican parties, and more small donors to the GOP.

Rather, corporations are motivated by profits. And one of the best ways to increase profits is to be seen by the public as "liberal," i.e., pro-racial quotas, pro-redefinition of marriage, pro-environmental dogma, and all the rest. If they thought the latter hurt profits, then they would change their PR. Capitalism in itself is always "revolutionary," in that it never ceases its "creative destruction." This is where the conservative liberal parts ways with the libertarian, in that we firmly reject the Randian idealization of Capitalist Man -- just as we reject the capitalist idealization of the randy man.

Now, one of the things I grappled with in the spiritual journey compressed into the pages of the bʘʘk was this ambivalence toward sexuality, not just in Christianity, but really, in every spiritual tradition. The so-called "sexual revolution" was an attempt to remove sexuality from any traditional spiritual context, which only resulted in an even bigger disaster(s) -- disease, promiscuity, an epidemic of out-of-wedlock births, abortion as birth control, devaluation of marriage and the family, the undermining of both masculine and feminine ideals, etc.

Are male-female relations any happier than they were fifty years ago? Please. The sexual revolution was a typical leftist attempt to solve an existential problem -- one that is intrinsic to the human condition -- by either pretending that it isn't a problem, or by regressing to a lower stage of psychological maturity in which it becomes a non-issue.

After all, animals are not conflicted about sex. But all human beings are. All normal men, for example, struggle with their heterosexual identity. I believe Muddy Waters speaks for us all in singing that:

My eyes keep me in trouble
Wants every woman I see
My eyes keep me in trouble
Wants every woman I see
You pretty women kill me
Just come on and get poor me....
I want women on my left, women on my right
Women all day, women all night
I want to love pretty women
That is a natural fact

It is indeed a "natural fact." And no different from the celibate priest, it requires supernatural assistance to transcend this state of nature. Obviously celibacy is "unnatural," as is male monogamy. The purpose of the institution of marriage is, on the one hand, to protect women from male sexual nature, and on the other, to protect men from male sexual nature.

Most of the victims of the mass de-civilizing of male sexual nature have been women, children, and Maureen Dowd. But when these children grow to adulthood, they continue to either auto-victimize or to victimize others (for example, most most social pathologies are directly linked to fatherlessness, and the majority of violent criminals grow up in fatherless homes).

So the civilizing of our sexual nature isn't just a personal issue, but one that touches on the very survival of culture. This is something that all cultures prior to ours recognized, often in some pretty kooky ways. But the kookiness is just a measure of the urgency and universality of the problem. When your house is on fire, you don't spend time meditating on the nature of fire.

Again, in my immersion in the various spiritual traditions, I repeatedly discovered less-than-satisfactory -- indeed, what I would call immature -- doctrines of sexuality. More to the point, they all conflicted with my psychoanalytic understanding of the subject, which I was not prepared to abandon. Therefore, someone was wrong.

The psychoanalytic understanding of sexuality is embedded in a developmental model. Various models differ in their details, but all versions center on what is called the separation-individuation process, or the move from immature dependence to mature dependence and autonomy (notice the oxymoron i.e., dependence and autonomy).

Virtually all human capacities can be located along this developmental spectrum, from cognition, to morality, to sexuality, and to to self-control and self-image. In their gut, most people recognize that, say, pedophilia is "wrong," but why is it wrong? NAMBLA members obviously don't believe it is wrong; indeed, a bunch of homosexual activists managed to publish a paper a few year ago in a prestigious journal, arguing that sex with children isn't necessarily such a bad thing.

A quick google search reveals that there is a book that lays out the argument that "sex is not harmful to children," and that it is only the ignorance of the "religious right" that unjustly denies them the opportunity to have sex with adults. (She has apparently since qualified some of her weirder statements, but it is clear that her overall ideology is rotten to the core and not susceptible to redemption; in any event, this book was picked at random -- there are others.)

Although a five year-old is no less human than a 40 year-old, the modes of their humanness differ. Indeed, the five year old would not be an occasion for "natural" hope and joy if we didn't know that he embodied a developmental telos that will guide him to mature manhood.

Think of the mentally retarded person who has the developmental maturity of a child. They are still human, of course, but something is missing. What is missing is the attainment of a certain "end" of development, not fundamentally different than any other organ that fails to achieve its purpose.

Now, in my view, the attainment of human maturity is not culturally conditioned, but real. It is not something we invent, but something that is given. And clearly, it is not, and could never be, given by "nature." As John Hiatt sang, this crazy thing called love Don't come from you and me / It comes from up above. He continues:

Before the laws of God and the laws of man
I take you for my wife,
To love, honour, cherish and obey,
Now, I didn't have no plans to live
This kind of life, no
It just worked out that way

I too shall continue. Tomorrow.


Well worth your time. Whittle understands trollkind's predictable playbook, even if they don't. Indeed, one of our most persistent and dogmatic wieners is an unapologetic Frankfurter:

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Is a Dream a Lie if it Don't Come True, or Is it Something Worse?

A partly precogitated post from about 18 months ago. Why? Just because.

Actually, in retracing my steps this morning, I suppose it was prompted by this piece at American Thinker, The Community Organizer Who Would Be King, in which Feldman touches on the fact that Americans seem to be waking up from their beautiful dream of Obama, and are pissed. It's mourning in America. And anger is the second stage, after denial.

Obama's "delusions of grandeur have become objects of ridicule.... He may be the only person left in Washington who has not yet realized how inadequate he is to the tasks before him." As a result, "the people and the press are beginning to turn on him, and as his failures become even more obvious with each passing day, more people will feel free to attack him and his policies and their attacks will become ever more savage as the gap between the promise and reality grow ever more stark."

All true, but it's not exactly fair or mature to blame Obama, of all people. This is like giving your six year-old the keys to the car and then blaming him when he crashes it. There was never any warrant for the inflated hopes and dreams projected into this vague nobody from nowhere, who can't even construct a coherent sentence that isn't written out for him before hand. In fact, even more basically, there is never a warrant to project this type of energy into any political candidate.

Rather, our regard should be reserved for what is true and good, not for the person who champions it -- except, of course, when doing so is at great personal peril, as, say, John Paul standing up to communism in the face of Soviet plots to assassinate him, or America's founders risking their lives, property, and sacred honor for the sake of self-evident political truth.

In short, the individual can glorify truth and decency in a penumbra of courage, prudence, or justice, but he himself is not, and cannot be, the source of truth. Truth is reality, not a politician.

Now, for the Christian, truth is indeed a person, but it is a one-time-only occurrence that should, if nothing else, temper the inveterate human tendency to elevate man to god -- which, ironically, doesn't so much speak to the recipient of the projection as to the projector.

I remember some 20+ years ago, when I was undergoing psychoanalytic therapy, I mentioned to my analyst something about a particular professor whom I idealized, and whom I thought perhaps I should be seeing in therapy instead of his mortal ass. He calmly pointed out to me that it was my own narcissistic vision of perfection that I was projecting into the professor for "safekeeping," so to speak. You might say that he was the unconscious "god of Bob" in deusguise.

In other words, it was an unconscious way of keeping the "dream of perfection" alive and safe from impingement and disappointment. Especially in hindsight, I can clearly see this. It's not that he wasn't brilliant or worthy of emulation, only that there was an additional "x-factor" coming from my end, that inflated him beyond reality.

In fact, this is often the dynamic that the cult leader preys upon to hypnotize and seduce cult members. The leader will usually have some sort of genuine gift that he uses to hook people who are prone to idealization. Thus the centrality of humility, on the one hand, and sobriety, on the other, in avoiding such entanglements.

With this in mind, the collapse of Obama should be an occasion for introspection and self-examination (in which the liberal media cannot engage and remain liberal), not just anger at, or ridicule of, Obama. Otherwise, the same people who suddenly realize he is a "dick" will have no way of seeing what dicks they are. They're just engaging in the opposite side of the same immature projective process. The only people entitled to call Obama a dick are those who always recognized it, not all these johnson-come-latlies.

This is well understood in both theory and practice. One of the things I learned from the brilliant professor mentioned above is that if a patient comes in idealizing you, watch out, because anger is on the way. This is because projection involves either irrational idealization that conceals anger and disappointment, or irrational denigration and devaluation concealing anger at an idealized object who disappointed them in the past.

If Obama were a normal person, he wouldn't have identified with the idealization, but would have found it deeply disconcerting. A virtue such as humility, even if only respected and not fully assimilated, would have rescued him. But as in the case of the cult leader alluded to above, the narcissist's need to be ideal finds a perfect psychic fit with the people who need to idealize.

What people don't realize is that for every narcissist there must be many "inverted narcissists," so to speak, who are as committed to the ideal as the narcissist, except in projected form (just as every abuser needs an abusee). Both the narcissist and anti-narcissist harbor the same delusion of human perfection. Indeed, there are some on the right who seem to be doing this with Sarah Palin, which can only result in a very Rude Awakening.

Anyway, here is the earlier post. Let's see if it still has anyseed to sow:

Beneath all the hysteria on both sides, it's difficult to say exactly what is going on and where it will lead. It would appear that Obama has now crossed the threshold from the "cracking" to the "collapse" stage, which no one should celebrate, any more than one should celebrate when a neurotic but still functioning person undergoes a psychological breakdown. Yes, the breakdown is necessary to reintegrate at a higher level, but even the most seasoned psychotherapist would find it difficult to have more than one or two such cases in his practice.

First of all, we don't have any idea how Obama, whose privileged life as a leftist mascot has shielded him from any accurate feedback about himself, will react to the impingement of reality. With anger? Depression? Vindictiveness? There is simply no way of predicting how such an emotionally immature person will react under stress, and this should be cause for concern to us all. Suffice it to say that he will not be able to handle it with the grace and dignity that President Bush did during the left's 4,204,800 Minutes Hate (not counting leap years). Notice that he never lashed back in kind.

Importantly, the President is not just the leader, but the collective fantasy leader, and when people feel their organizing fantasies slip away, they experience a tidal wave of irrational anxiety -- the very anxiety that had been "contained" by the perception of a strong fantasy leader. Again, despite his economically destructive and self-defeating policies, one must nevertheless give FDR credit for remaining a strong fantasy leader who kept the nation from crumbling into psychotic anxiety. Suffice it to say, Obama is not this kind of *man*.

In 1994, President Clinton had the good sense to bring in a "group therapist" -- albeit a sleazy and manipulative one to match his own character-- Dick Morris, who was able to help him make sense of reality and to adjust his policies accordingly. But Obama may be too proud and too brittle -- not to mention, too ideological -- to make this adjustment. But if he fails to do so, it will only ensure further crumbling, and at some point the collective anxiety will turn to rage. Again, the rage may feel empowering to those who harbor it, but few people make good decisions when angry.

In order to understand the depth of Obama's fall, one must reexamine the ridiculous heights to which he was elevated. Remember, when a man falls, he only falls back to the ground with the rest of us. But if he was absurdly elevated through primitive fantasy, this tends to create a "snap-back" phenomenon, through which the person crashes through the ground. For example, let's say that the person is up in the rarified world of +12 fantasy (which one might think of as a "positive mind parasite"). When he crumbles, he will snap down into -12 anti-fantasy. Then the people will blame him for ruining their fantasy of him.

This is because the narcissist specifically develops his narcissistic defenses to shield himself from the unconscious belief that he is worthless. This is why the narcissist's defenses are so brittle, and why they so easily cast people under their ever-ready bus. With even a hint that you are not propping them up with idealization, under the bus you go.


Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair.... The tens of thousands of new voters Obama brought to the polls tonight came because he wrapped them in that experience, because he let them touch politics as it could be, rather than merely as it is. --Ezra Klein

A black man with a white mother became a savior to us. A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall.... This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better.... If you look at Barack Obama's audiences and look at the effect of his words, those people are being transformed. --Calypso Louis

Continuing with our analysis of the Devil Card, our Unknown Friend (UF) writes that the excesses of the left are always "owing to an intoxication of the will and imagination which engenders demons."

For example, if Marx and Engels had merely behaved as good Jews or Christians and "simply defended the interests of the industrial workers without having let themselves be carried away by their intoxicated imagination," then their ideas wouldn't have been so apocalyptically destructive. After all, every spiritually normal person wants to help the deserving poor and needy, but it is axiomatic that helping the human animal while killing the human soul renders any spiritual benefit inoperative for both parties.

Further, as Schuon commented, "Progressivism is the wish to eliminate effects without wishing to eliminate their causes..." To paraphrase him, the leftist wishes to make himself as useful as possible to a collectivity which renders the individual as useless as possible in the process. But,

"one must never lose sight of the fact that there exists no higher usefulness than that which envisages the final ends of man. By its divorce from traditional truth... society forfeits its own justification, doubtless not in a perfunctorily animal sense, but in the human sense. This human quality implies that the collectivity, as such, cannot be the aim and purpose of the individual but that, on the contrary, it is the individual who, in his 'solitary stand' before the Absolute and in the exercise of his supreme function, is the aim of purpose of collectivity. Man, whether he be conceived in the plural or the singular, or whether his function be direct or indirect, stands like 'a fragment of absoluteness' and is made for the Absolute.... In any case, one can define the social in terms of truth, but one cannot define truth in terms of the social."

Moreover, the left always couches their supposed empathy for the downtrodden in fantastically broad and sweeping generalizations of historical "and even cosmic significance, such as the statement that God does not exist, that all religion is is only the 'opium of the people,' [and] that all ideology is only a superstructure on the basis of material interests." UF wrote this in the early '60s, but it is no different today, with the intoxication that fueled and pervaded the Obama campaign:

"What we hear from Obama is the eternal mantra of the socialists; America is broken, millions have no health care, families cannot afford necessities, the rich are evil, we are selfish, we are unhappy, unfulfilled, without hope, desperate, poverty stricken, morally desolate, corrupt and racist. This nihilism is the lifeblood of all the democrat candidates.... When Michelle Obama claims she is only newly proud of her country, she does not exaggerate. In her world as in Obama's, they believe we are a mess, a land filled with the ignorant and unenlightened, filled with despair" (Fairchok).

Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes, not divine, but demonic. --Pope Benedict XVI

As UF writes, it is always a "matter of excess -- a going beyond the limits of competence and sober and honest knowledge," which the left never doubts, "having been carried away by the intoxicating impulse of radicalism, i.e., by a fever of the will and imagination to change everything utterly at a single stroke."

It is this fever dream of sweeping existential change that animates the left no less than the Islamists, since both deny the possibility of real spiritual change, which is an individual matter; in the deepest sense, man's existential situation cannot be altered, only transcended.

As Lee Harris has written, a fantasy ideology such as Islamism is obviously not a rational response to the world arrived at in a logical, sober manner. Rather, it is a transformative belief, meaning that its primary purpose is to psychologically transform the person who believes the fantasy. And believing the fantasy is an end in itself -- it has no purpose other than to make the fantasy seem like reality -- as if it might actually be true. Therefore, the real reason for 9-11 wasn't actually to bring down western civilization -- which only the left can do anyway, from within. Rather, it was for the Islamists to deepen their trance.

Likewise, anyone with a basic familiarity with economics knows that leftist ideas don't just fail, but backfire. They cause all sorts of unintended consequences that the leftist never connects to the original policy -- e.g., how the welfare state eroded the structure of the black family, how racial quotas inevitably harm blacks, how rent control causes housing shortages, how subsidizing higher education simply drives up the cost, how socialized medicine leads to rationing, and how the government forcing banks to make bad loans to unqualified people is at the epicenter of today's economic problems.

Now, UF explains that the virtue of temperence protects us from the intoxicating counter-inspiration of radical fantasies -- including religious fantasies, which are not actually religious but manmade. As such, it is foolish to blame God or religion for things that emanate from the lower vertical in man.

UF makes the subtle point that one cannot in reality engender a positive collective mind parasite. This is related to the principle that the mind parasite is an effect of "congealed" or "coagulated" psychic energy. As a result, it always "enfolds," whereas the good radiates.

The former is an inward, contracting movement, whereas the latter is an expansive, radiant movement. This may sound overly abstract, but we are all familiar with the ontologically closed world of the left, whether it is their elite university campuses or the myopi-ed page of the New York Times. If you approach these things with your charlatan-activated cʘʘnvision, you can literally experience them as a sort of dense, black hole of "inverse radiation."

Now, why did people respond to, say, Ronald Reagan? For the opposite reason -- the radiant positive energy of which he was a mere vehicle. This only became more apparent when placed side by side with Jimmy Carter's withered and constipated presence.

I suppose the novel thing about Obama is that he is selling the same constipation, but with a kind of cheap and meretricious radiation that one must be intoxicated to appreciate. Indeed, as Fairchok writes,

"That is his appeal; he is [ironically] an actor, a performer, a cinematic presence that stirs simple emotions, emotions that have little grounding in truth. His speeches are the inane lyrics to a popular song that endures only because it has a great beat. One must not think too deeply on what Obama says, for it turns to smoke and disappears in the light of day. Ezra Klein is correct, Obama's speeches do not inform, they pander, they propagandize, they harmonize with the mythology of despair and the chimera of entitlement. As his hagiographies proclaim, he represents a new Camelot, but one that does not hold America quite so precious, a Camelot of globalists, moral relativists and communitarians."

Now, how to drive out a demon? Easy. As UF explains, "Light drives out darkness. This simple truth is the practical key to the problem of how to combat demons. A demon perceived, i.e. on whom the light of consciousness is thrown, is already a demon rendered impotent.... A demon rendered impotent is a deflated balloon."

As the farcical Marx taught us, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. But what comes after that? We're still dealing with the tragedy of the New Deal and the farce of the Great Society. No doubt Obama is a farce to be reckoned with, but I see two possibilities. If we divide history into Petey's descending stages of Gods, Kings, Men, Weasels, Beasts, and Chaos, I think FDR would be the king, LBJ the man. Clinton the weasel.

This would suggest that we are about to enter a beastly chaos, from which the only solution would be the return to a new age of gods, or, more properly, God. God or chaos. Vertical Man or horizontal beast. Sounds about right. We're back to first principles, and it's cosmogenesis all over again.

Now those memories come back to haunt me,
they haunt me like a curse.
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true,
or is it something worse?
That sends me down to the river,
though I know the river is dry.
--Bruce Springsteen, The River

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