Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Rodeo Clown Media and their Crazed Bull

One of the primary functions of the Rodeo Clown Media (RCM) is to obsess over the periphery while systematically ignoring the center. Sometimes it is unclear whether this is out of design or stupidity, but the result is the same: the trivial is elevated to the important while reality is banished to the sidelines. To receive one's news from the RCM is to beclown oneself by implication.

We need also to bear in mind that a rodeo clown doesn't just run around arbitrarily. Rather, he is there to protect someone who is in danger by distracting and throwing off some crazed bull. Similarly, the RCM is there to protect Obama when he is endangered by distracting us and throwing out some crazed bull.

As such, you might say that the RCM is at antipodes to the "well examined life," which involves first and foremost discerning between truth and error, or principle and manifestation, or reality and appearances, etc. The RCM may not always place error above truth, but the very best it can do is to put them on the same plane.

Charles Kesler, whose new book on Obama is called I Am the Change, has a piece at NRO entitled Obama's Truth. Note also the subtitle of the latter, which exemplifies the political pneumapthology we've been discussing of late: It may not be true, but it’s still absolute.

People who reject the absolute don't just end their cognitive descent there. Rather, unless they are truly insane -- and therefore irrelevant -- they inevitably fall into some version of absolute relativism, or systematic absurdity.

To call such people "thinkers" is an abuse of the term, for "thinking" is precisely what cannot occur in the context of relativism. If it can, then there is no relationship between thought and truth -- or mind and reality -- and thinking has no more to say about reality than does passing gas or watching MSNBC (but I repeat myself).

When we lay it out on the table like this -- naked before the the mind's eye without a figleaf of evasion or dissembling -- you probably think to yourself: "yeah, but nobody really believes this postmodern stuff, do they? Isn't it just a silly game for the tenured?"

If only. In his article, Kesler calls to the stand a tenured friend of Obama, who approvingly -- and accurately -- describes the variety of hammers available to the postmodern deconstruction worker:

"By antifoundationalism and particularism I mean the denial of universal principles. According to this way of thinking, human cultures are human constructions; different people exhibit different forms of behavior because they cherish different values. By perspectivalism I mean the belief that everything we see is conditioned by where we stand. There is no privileged, objective vantage point free from the perspective of particular cultural values. By historicism I mean the conviction that all human values and practices are products of historical processes and must be interpreted within historical frameworks. All principles and social patterns change; none stands outside the flow of history. These ideas come in different flavors, more and less radical and more and less nihilist" (Kloppenberg).

Eh. So what. What do I care about the jerk circles of academia, so long as they don't have any real power?

Kloppenberg: “Obama’s sensibility, his ways of thinking about culture and politics, rests on the hidden strata of these ideas.”


Here is an example of the sort of drivel that results from attempting to "think" while simultaneously rejecting the very foundation of thought. Don't laugh. It's your president speaking (from the Kesler piece):

"Implicit... in the very idea of ordered liberty was a rejection of absolute truth, the infallibility of any idea or ideology or theology or 'ism,' any tyrannical consistency that might lock future generations into a single, unalterable course, or drive both majorities and minorities into the cruelties of the Inquisition, the pogrom, the gulag, or the jihad."

Ah, I see. So the absolute truth that "all men are created equal" is a recipe for tyranny and a road to the gulag. Gotcha.

That is so surreal, it ought to be called a Firesign chat.

Jews will be particularly interested to know that the disclosure of, and their historical allegiance to, the absolute, is implicated in their own destruction -- that their style of thinking is responsible for the very pogroms that have persecuted them. This is actually true, in the sense that Jews are hated precisely because their absolutism is an annoying rebuke to all relativists. It explains why all wholesale anti-Semitism (in the west) emanates from the relativistic left.

Kesler: Obama argues that "There is no absolute truth -- and that’s the absolute truth.... Such feeble, self-contradictory reasoning is at the heart of [his] very private and yet very public struggle with himself to determine whether there is anything anywhere that can truly be known, or even that it is rational to have faith in. Anyone who believes, really believes, in absolute truth, he asserts, is a fanatic or in imminent danger of becoming a fanatic; absolute truth is the mother of extremism everywhere."

It cannot be emphasized enough that Obama has it precisely backward, and that the turn to absolute relativism is the mother of world-historical nightmares.

For one thing, as discussed in yesterday's post, once one descends into relativism, there is a kind of scattering of truth resulting in "a vast field of secondary issues" that "effectively obscures the center of the struggle in existential consciousness" (Voegelin). Here again, this is where the media Rodeo Clowns enter the picture, as they ensure that everyone is focused on peripheral fragments and distracted from the central truth:

"[T]he struggle for truth is liable to degenerate into a jungle war of 'positions,' articulating themselves as 'isms," that are blind for their own meaning in terms of noetic consciousness" (ibid.).

But again, the relative is covertly elevated to the absolute, so that "the noetically 'empty' becomes a form of thought imposing itself as obligatory on a society, and the war of positions creates a 'climate of opinion'... that proves next to impenetrable by noetic logic" (ibid.).

Voegelin has just described the tyranny of political correctness, which is a kind of "public unconscious" that protects its own power while deflecting insight into its workings -- like a public neurosis.

Voegelin wrote this in 1977. What would he say today? I mean, after he stopped throwing up? Perhaps he'd agree with Kesler's assessment of Obama's malevolently vacuous philosophical musings -- that they "ought to send a shudder down Americans’ constitutional spine, assuming we still have one."

History, then, turns out to be a process not only of truth becoming luminous, but also of truth becoming deformed and lost by the very forces of imagination and language which let the truth break forth into image and word. --Voegelin


Cond0011 said...

"So the absolute truth that "all men are created equal" is a recipe for tyranny and a road to the gulag."

G_d have mercy on us if the Moral-relativists erode this absolute truth. But then, the Darwinians and Atheists already are doing just that. After all, this is the word of our Christian G_d and the ancient philosophers' Natural Law - not those that call themselves Moral-Relativists (where even "equal" is relative).

julie said...

Slightly off topic, but going back to this weekend's conversation, raising kids these days is pretty much a criminal offense. Or to make it somewhat relevant, when there are no absolutes, the exercise of common sense (much less wisdom) becomes virtually impossible, and nothing is self-evident.

Dr. Sanity said...

It is so painful to watch what is happening in the US and the rest of the world today: the assault on truth, reason, life, liberty, religion.... Just when I think it cannot get worse, everything escalates. I am not prone to apocalyptic thinking, but you'd have to be blind not to be concerned about the destination we are all being manipulated by the RCM and this pathetic administration toward.

Tony said...

There are no absolutes. If we have social chaos, then we need a totalitarian state. Obviously.

There, that was easy.

The Tower of Babel was a shovel-ready project. It was God who screwed it up!

EbonyRaptor said...

Tower of Babel was a shovel ready project ... now that's funny. Thank God we still have a sense of humor.

ge said...

"all men are created equal"

i'm ok with the 1st 4 words...that last one presents some question, especially since that's where the do-gooders come along and start doin' their damnedest 'dreaming of more black christmases'
yadda yadda

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Voegelin wrote this in 1977. What would he say today? I mean, after he stopped throwing up? Perhaps he'd agree with Kesler's assessment of Obama's malevolently vacuous philosophical musings -- that they "ought to send a shudder down Americans’ constitutional spine, assuming we still have one."

We will soon find out on election day, whether or not we have enough folks who still have a Constitutional spine.

"...malevolently vacuous philosophical musings" is a great description of Obama's (and his minion's) parasititical infection.

They really are the Borg.
Hopefully, enuogh folks realize that.
If they don't, they sure ain't gonna like it when they get assimilated.
And when they finally open their eyes to find that all of their liberties are gone or subject to the leftist Borg collective (but I repeat myself).

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Dr. Sanity, that's true, it's very painful!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

One could write dozens of pages of what is wrong (and not even wrong) with that Obama statement, but you cut to the metaphysical chase, Bob.

Essentially, Obama is saying that absolute Truth and liberty leads to tyranny but his tyranny leads to liberty or the promised land, as his minions might say.

In short, Obama is calling the Good, True and Beautiful, evil, and his form of evil, good (absolutely relatively speaking, of course, which displays his absolute stupidity from the start).

Tony said...

You know something is true if it's radiant. A truth is fertile: it leads to other truths, new ideas, new applications, new questions. From true premises, we can draw all sorts of things. True statements are the foundations upon which we build things.

This is as true in philosophy as in the sciences. One of the characteristics of a conversation into which comes the Triumphant Relativist is the sudden death of all conversation. "Well, it's all relative, isn't it?" is really an attempt to kill conversation, a jackboot on the neck of civil society. It's the *opposite* of free exchange because, like the Fed, it debauches the very currency of ideas by diminishing their value. Ideological inflation, and a refusal to drill baby drill into one's own native resources.

This is of a piece with the whole Obamist dream of a more "multipolar" world.

Because without confident leadership in the world of ideas, we will surely benefit from such multipolar miracles as the Arab Spring [sic].

Much of our educational > political "elite" has turned to jelly.

Cond0011 said...


Moral Relativity is tinged with Nihilism and usually a tool of the Philosophically weak and immature (non grounded arguements).

They can disagree with any point you make. Any point. The issue is the depth of their logic and usually it takes far longer to get to its root, than is worthy to partake in a conversation (sometimes they are earnest - and they learn something if you get to its root, but many times they are angry trolls). That is where the drive by Trolls can have so much potency: They make a counter-points that seem to have weight (when in fact they are here to simply argue with a conservative), but if you pursue the conversation further down their logic path, they start to lose interest or divert your attention to trivial nonsequitors in your statements.

One way to know if you have someone arguing for arguments sake (using the tool of Moral Relativity) is to make several general statements of obvious general convention that many conservatives and liberals agree with and see if s(he) disagrees. If they continue to disagree and those random conventions, you are faced with someone who just wants to word-fight.


Their point of view is thus trivialized and you can set them on 'ignore'. why waste your time spinning your wheels. Sophism for its own sake is boring and life is short. I'd rather watch sports as its results gives the winner money, lots of attention and maybe a cool ring (wheras I wasted a fine afternoon/night locked in verbal combat with nothing to show for it - or learned from it)

Gagdad Bob said...

No time for a new post, just a few tweets.

Cond0011 said...

So... is there a place for Sophism, the word-fight, and even politics (where it has no grounding what so ever)?

Unfortunately, yes.

The whole idea of 'Just win, Baby' falls into that premise. When there is a deadline, like a court judgement, an election day, the settling of a will (think Old Testament Jacob and Esau), the word-fight comes into play and that is where the field is levelled between the right and the wrong (sophistic Troll, politician or badboy sibling). The material world and the decision of judgement belongs to the 'victor'. But when it comes to the absolute truth in your personal life, the trolls are at a distinct disadvantage as there is no winnings and no dealine. After having the inheritance tricked from Esau, he did not turn his back on Jacob at their next friendly meeting (trust was not there, though Jacob was forgiven). Still, the Badboy Jacob received the inheritance from God.

Perhaps this is why the Christians are forever disabled into 'peace' mode as the sophists use the absolute truth to stop us from acting, when infact, it would be effacious to act in a timely manner in dealings with material concerns. The Crusades fall in this grey area where the Badboy Sophists forever try to skewer us Christians.


Cond0011 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cond0011 said...

Perhaps that is where there is the need for the Seperation of Church and State (The Spiritual Kingdom and Secular Kingdom): The Christian Church deals with the absolute Spiritual truths, whereas the Christian State deals conforms to the truths of Christ, yet holds allowances for the effaciousness of the preservation of Christianity by meeting important temporal Deadlines.

Van Harvey said...

Rousseau came out and said it clearly from the very start, (from memory, on phone, no links) "this means nothing les than he must be forced to be free", but the RCM & the RCP( philosophers) covered for him, put his smiling face in our kids textbooks as a defender of Liberty and Rights... of course 47% of us are falling for it, they got a minimum of 12 years of social studies indoctrination tests on it.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ha! This is funny. On Bob's twitter page there's a place to the left that shows other tweeters similar to Bob (allegedly).

One of the tweeters they show that's similar to Bob (according to Twitter I guess) is Tide detergent.

Clearly, they have no clue who is similar to Bob, lol.
Maybe Bob made their computer go nuts.

Gagdad Bob said...

Cleanliness is next to Godwinness.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Bob, LOL! (Tidal wave)!

ge said...

re luv our Ann:
'...At a private gathering, Romney told donors that Obama had a lock on the 47 percent of voters "who pay no income tax" and "believe the government has a responsibility to care for them." This was deeply offensive to people who pay no income tax and believe the government has a responsibility to care for them...' 9/19

Frederick Froth said...

You spend a lot of energy bagging Barack Obama - and why not.

I would suggest that Mitt Romney and his veep Ryan are even more perfect examples of the Hollow Man (T S Eliot), or for example, the One Dimensional Man (Marcuse)

Ryan for instance is/was a fan of the benighted atheist Ayn Rand. The robotic Romney is of course a Mormon.

Even a cursory examination of some of the core beliefs of Mormonism should tell anyone with even a modicum of discriminative intelligence that their beliefs are ludicrous.

From another angle, I wonder what your two primary heroes, namely Schuon and Vogelin would have to say about the atheist Ayn Rand and her reductionist "philosophy" of Objectivism. And about Mormonism too.

What would Sri Aurobindo, Meister Eckhart or any of the other distinguished Tradionalist philosophers associated with Schuon have to say about Mormonism and Objectivism.

Cond0011 said...

Gee Fred,

Though I liked a point you made in the "When Narratives Fail", You are coming in on this post and breaking alot of toys that we all play with here.

Though my impression of you has been amiable (from the previous mentioned posting), this turn of events is not a good sign.

All the best.

Anna said...

Magister said...

"There are no absolutes. If we have social chaos, then we need a totalitarian state. Obviously."

There it is. QED. If you take all those postmodern books and boil them for a while to evaporate the suspending liquid, this is the powder, the soup base for all the different flavors.

Btw - I did end up buying a ticket for Israel in December. Going to see how it goes. It could be a long trip or more of a move. I had mentioned it in a comment a bit ago as a possibility... was concerned about current events. It looks like it is a go.

Anna said...

It's also like following a leaf or a flower back down the stem to the ground. I just read a claim somewhere that "Jesus stands with the poor", seemingly as an argument for government intervention, but instead of arguing about voluntary charity (that is redundant... sorry), you can take it to the point about absolutes, which is the real issue. Much more efficient.

julie said...

Anna, I had been wondering how you were doing :)

I hope the trip to Israel goes very well!

Anna said...

Thanks, Julie! It is turning out to be a lot of fun and even fun to plan.

Congratulations on your new baby, also! :)

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