Friday, January 06, 2012

Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Quinquagenarian

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a waltblog trundling down the digital highway and this waltblog had a passage by Franklin Merrell-Wolff which elaborates on what we were saying yesterday about manifesting one's destiny or becoming oneself, which you'd think is unavoidable but it is:

"I find that, as the days go by, there is a re-organization and consolidation of life about a new center. The thrill of new Awakening, that at first so dominates and sweeps personal consciousness, gradually becomes a quiet steadiness on a level of new confidence. I cannot say I feel any regret for the old life. I do not find any inhibition that would restrain me from dipping into any phase of old experience if I desired and found it convenient to do so. I do not feel the restless urge for outer adventure that formerly I felt so strongly."

The thing about real spiritual growth -- like any real growth -- is that it brings changes that one wouldn't necessarily have willed, any more than, say, a pre-pubescent child wills puberty.

Or, to paraphrase George Costanza, just when you get used to puberty, here comes middle age and all its attendant changes. I was finally comfortable with being uncomfortable with myself, and now I'm back in high school again, a freshman quinquagenarian. Hope I don't get hazed by the sextagenarian, septuagenarian, and octogenarian stalemen!

Likewise, sometimes, or perhaps usually, spiritual change can be rather disorienting, as the old interests that once oriented oneslife "drop away" and one reorganizes around a new center. This "unexpectedness" is one of the hallmarks of real change and growth -- a kind of seal of authenticity -- and it is again the exact opposite of that which is typically promised by the new agers and integralists, such as this appalling gobshite:

Look at that scheming visage. Would you pay cash money for used or even new karma from a guy like that?

If one attempts to will spiritual change from below, one generally ends up with a bloated and vainglorious ego, not any kind of genuine spiritual transformation, which requires surrender and then acceptance, even resignation, not to mention trials, pop quizzes, and a final exam, before anything is accomplished, let alone It.

But if you know ahead of time that you will simply be granted whatever your wretched ego desires, what kind of change is that? This will not redeem the ego, but further harden it by fostering the illusion that it can have perfect happiness on its own terms, in its spiritually fallen state. Schuon expresses it well:

"We must tend towards Perfection because we understand it and therefore love it, and not because we desire that our ego should be perfect. In other terms, we must love and realize a virtue because it is true and beautiful, and not because it would become us if we possessed it.... One must realize the virtues for their own sake, and not in order to make them 'mine'.... Moreover, it is not we who possess a virtue, it is a virtue which possesses us."

A state sponsored (via PBS) schlack peddler such as Dyer would be out of business if he spoke the dire truth, which is more like Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God. Dyer is practicing the satanic arts (I mean that literally, not in a polemical or insulting manner), in that he is simply employing such commonplace modes as seduction and hypnosis over the spiritually untutored and unchurched, who will believe "anything." Like Schuon, he would sell few books if he were to convey hard spiritual truths such as

"Much is said about the subtle illusions and seductions which lead the spiritual pilgrim astray from the straight path and provoke his fall. Now, these illusions can only seduce him who desires some benefit for himself, such as powers or dignities or glory." But he who "seeks nothing earthly, so that he is indifferent to being forgotten by the world," "such a man possesses true poverty and nothing can seduce him."

This is what I meant the other day in my comment about being "beyond cynicism." These vulgar atheists imagine that they are the cynics, but I went through that phase by the time I was ten or eleven years old. To put it another way, people like Dawkins and Harris, or ex-people such as Hitchens, are speaking from and to ten year old rebellious cynics. Done there been that.

Me, I'm am also beyond nihilism, as I've circled back round to the great Nothing-Everything that is its source and ground. For "In true poverty, there remains only existence pure and simple, and existence is in its essence Being, Consciousness and Beatitude. In poverty there remains nothing more for man than what he is, thus all that is" (Schuon).

It is not that matter or sensation are shunned -- perish the thought! -- but that our priorities are straight, and we have the proper balance between inner and outer, celestial and terrestrial, I and Thou. The point is not to deny the exterior, but "to remove oneself from its seductive tyranny" (Schuon). In real spiritual transformation, the inner takes precedence over the outer, through which the latter becomes "enriched" in a compensatory manner. The converse can never occur -- that is, enriching your exterior will never result in an interior transformation of the spiritual substance, only in a dying sack of tool's gold which you'll be forced to take with you.

To put it another way, you cannot will your destiny, at least until you have truly recognized it. And even then, once it is recognized, one mainly senses it in subtle ways, such as a sense of "being on the right track."

I would compare it to a kind of vehicle that is guided by a nonlocal morphogenetic field. It is like trying to learn how to steer within this nonlocal field, and one must be quite sensitive to do this. I imagine it is somewhat similar to how certain animals have an interior guidance system that allows them to migrate back home, only transposed to a higher key. We all have this spiritual homing device as part of our standard equipment, but it is not like a two-dimensional map, much less a linear train track.

This oming deivoice allows us to apprehend ever so subtle indicators that our idiom is near -- in abook, aperson, amyth, avision, adaydream, anobject, anandithing. It is as if we project it slightly ahead of ourselves, and respond to the projection. To have "no direction" is the quintessence of the spiritually alienated state. One of the most painful consequences of the hellhounds of clinical depression and anxiety is that they rob the person of spiritual direction, and therefore meaning.

On the other hound, depression can be a sort of "divine gift" if one uses it as an occasion to reclaim one's spiritual destiny and get back on the right track. Indeed, I would imagine that most Raccoons have at one time or another been shown their fate in the form of depression, despair, meaninglessness, etc., which was then a jumping off point for rediscovering their destiny.

The fated person, as Bollas writes, "is fundamentally interred in an internal world of self and object representations that endlessly repeat the same scenarios," and "has very little sense of a future that is at all different from the internal environment they carry around with them. The sense of fate is a feeling of despair to influence the course of one's life." Not for nothing is Groundhog Day considered one of the more profound spiritual parables ever to make it to film.

"A sense of destiny, however, is a different state, when the person feels he is moving in a personality progression that gives him a sense of steering his course." It is as if the future is able to "reach back" or down and touch the now, whereas the fated person is trapped by the past reaching forward and strangling the present:

"Instead of feeling the energy of the destiny drive and of 'possessing' futures which nourish the person in the present and creatively serve to explore pathways for potential travel, the fated person only projects the oracular" -- by which Bollas means the oppressive and mystifying voice of the dead and unalterable past. As a result, they "repress" their own living future, as it is just too painful to contemplate what might have been if only it could have been.

Sometimes, such a person will wallow in their fate as a way to compensate for the loss of their destiny -- like amor fati, minus the amor). Here again, one thinks of the victim culture of the left. But this is a real sin, for man has a right "to suffer from an injustice in so far as he cannot rise above it, but he must make an effort to do so; in no case has he the right to sink into a pit of bitterness, for such an attitude leads to hell" (Schuon).

Mother.... prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels. Amen. So be it! Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. --Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Restless Brain Syndrome and the Quest for the Perfect Word

My mission here -- in case you're wondering -- is to help scattered members of the vertical diaspora discover their destiny and thereby reclaim the slack that is their cosmic birthright. For the rest of you unrepentant assouls, there's nothing I can do but irritate you. But even that would be enough for me, since my needs are few and my amusements simple.

The inalienable slack of which we speak is yours to keep and enjoy, even if it has been stolen, squandered, or given away. In a certain sense slack is all you have, but what you do with it is another matter entirely. Slack isn't just time, but time well spent -- which means that it purchases, or perhaps ransoms, something or someone.

America's founding generation risked all -- their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor -- to prevent Great Britain from yoinking our slack, and in order to establish a new empire of slack on earth.

But that was hardly the end of it. For example, we had to fight a seevil war against internal slack thieves who imagined that certain categories of human being weren't only entitled to nøslack, but that their own slack depended upon this theft.

It is no different today with the misguided OWSers and other radical leftists who imagine that retrieving their missing slack is somehow dependent upon stealing the slack of some other arbitrarily defined group. They absurdly call these targets of hatred and envy the "one percent" -- as if the latter have somehow stolen all of the slack for themselves!

But I would be willing to bet my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor that I have more slack than most of these so-called one percent. How can this be? Well, for starters, I don't fritter away my slack by sitting around at organized temper tantrums and complaining that I have none. If that is how you choose to dissipate your slack, don't blame people who choose different means to waste theirs. Unless being the CEO of Home Depot is your idea of fun. In which case, go for it!

Wait. Isn't slack just some dollar figure? And isn't there a finite amount of dollars?

Please. This is like saying that homelessness is caused by a shortage of inches and feet. If we could just distribute more rulers and tape measures to contractors, they can start using them to build houses!

You don't see Korean or Vietnamese immigrants risking their lives to make it to America, only to complain after they get here that all the slack is gone. Why? Because they appreciate slack and know how to use it. Indeed, if not for state sponsored racial discrimination, most of the students in the UC system would be Asian.

Now, spending time among the tenured is not my idea of slack, but what business is it of the state to say that only a certain percentage of Asian Americans are permitted to do so? I couldn't care less if every victim of tenure were Asian, any more than I would care if every deli owner were Jewish. So what? As long as I'm not forced to read academic drivel and can get a good pastrami sandwich, I'll be happy.

In a free society such as ours, slack theft is usually an "inside job." In short, it is a result of mind parasites, the internal saboteurs that covertly appropriate our destiny and subject us to fate.

Thus, there is Fate. And there is Destiny. Although often used interchangeably, they are actually -- for our purposes, anyway -- opposites. You might say that fate is the destiny imposed by the dead hand of the past, while destiny is the fate opened up by our living future. Allow me to explain.

The term "destiny drive" was coined by Christopher Bollas, and is discussed in his book Forces of Destiny. However, he's really just reframing established psychoanalytic ideas and presenting them in a more modern theoretical context. Plus he's an excellent writer, which is a rare commodity in the humanities and subhumanities.

The context just alluded to regards the mind as intrinsically intersubjective and "object related," as opposed to being more like a hydraulic machine driven to discharge instinctual tension. To put it another way, man's primary motivation is always relationship, not instinctual pleasure. Yes, we seek the latter, but ideally in the context of the former. The alternative is what we call cosmic ønanism, or he with no shedonism.

(Of course, in our world this ultimately derives from relationship to and with O, whereas psychoanalysis is a secular enterprise that is often hostile to religiosity. The former view has long been recognized, for example, by Augustine, who said something to the effect that our souls don't rest in peace til they rest in God. This is just another way of saying that anything short of relating to the Absolute, the ultimate principle, will cause restless brain syndrome.)

Now, the question is, how does the true self actualize and undergo development, or deveilop in the wondergrowth? Bollas's thesis is that it is through the discovery of one's unique idiom, which you might say is the signature of the true self: human idiom is that peculiarity of person(ality) that finds its own being through the particular selection and use of the object. In this sense, to be and to appropriate are one.

(And "idiom" is not limited to language, music, painting, etc., but can be anything through which we express our true self. For some people, their life itself is the idiom of expression, even if they leave no recorded traces of it. Parenting might be an example of this. My son has become my idiom in ways I had scarcely -- or only -- imagined. No him, no me!)

In other words, you might say that the true self is a preconceptual logos, or nonlocal clueprint, that must discover those objects it requires in order to elaborate itself and "live." In this regard, Bollas says that the self's idiom is "akin to a kind of personality speech, in which the lexical elements are not word signifiers but factors of personality."

There is no real being in the absence of this articulation of one's idiom, only a kind of paradoxical "negative being," i.e., ø, which is very close to the patent nonsense of e-i-e-i-ø.

Or, to turn it around, when you cannot articulate your idiom, your life will feel somewhat like a prison, whatever the outward circumstances. For example, many feminists choose to live this way, because it is less painful for them to imagine that the bars of their prison are outside their minds.

Recall what we said yesterday about the centrality of liberty, because I've forgotten already. Oh, right: in the absence of liberty, it is very unlikely that you will be able to discover your own unique idiom, which is again the key to the articulation of the true self.

Private property is a fundamental expression (and prerequisite) of liberty, and the most precious property is oneSelf (or we its, to be exact). But without secure private property, how can the self appropriate what it needs to speak its idiom? If those things are determined by the state, or by political correctness, or by scientistic fairy tales, the self is sharply constrained in its ability to find its real idiom.

You could also say that when you fail to find your idiom, you will feel as if you are haunted by a kind of fate that blankets your life, and from which you cannot escape. More on which tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

You're Not Special, You're a Jackass

First, an ironyclad point of orthoparadox: our thesis is that the normotic person is not normal in the cosmic sense of the term, i.e., in conformity to his nonlocal archetype. Rather, he has a pseudo-normality that conceals and oppresses a true self which has been developmentally stunted somewhere along the lyin'.

We are coming at this from a conservative classical liberal point of view, in which (to plagiaphrase someone) individuality is freedom lived. But one might just as easily reverse the terms and say: freedom is individuality lived. It should go without saying that you are only truly free when you are yourself. Otherwise, who is free? And for what?

What is freedom? The individual. What is the individual? Freedom.

However, freedom is not at all synonymous with an absence of constraint, which would immediately reduce to nihilism. Rather, genuine freedom is always freedom for. Thus, we may speak of the "yoke of freedom"; or, wisely crack that man is condemned to freedom (and to truth, which really rubs insalt to the injury).

Actually, we prefer "liberty," which is perhaps the second most important Raccoon macro-value after Truth. And in fact, you cannot have one without the other, for one must be free to discover truth, and truth is what sets one free; this is why the compulsory truths of, say, political correctness, or of reductionistic Darwinism, involve an intrinsic contradiction. To say that "I am a contingent assemblage of selfish genes" is to say that "I am a moron. Please ignore me."

You might say that Truth + Liberty = Authentic Being. Being that the left denies absolute or transcendental truth, we can have nothing in common with them. Or, we have in common a fallen self which we re-cognize and they don't.

And being that they believe in positive liberties granted by the state instead of negative ones protected by the state, there is again no common measure between us. In exchange for political power, the leftist substitutes for timeless truth the petty dictates of time-bound political correctness, which strangles the individual and nourishes the hardened collective ego.

Belief in permanent truths results in the ordered liberty, or "disciplined mischief," of the Raccoon. To deny them results in mere horizontal license, and in a system that cannot be sustained. To the extent that such freaks appear "unconventional," it it is in a blandly predictable and drearily conformist manner (the "herd of independent minds"). There is nothing individual, much less creative, about a Madonna and her legions of cultural spawna. She can only engage in a kind of reactionary parasitic "anti-normotic" illness that mimics actual creativity and true selfhood. How daring! Life reduced to one long wardrobe malfunction.

Most of these dramatic deviations and disturbances may appear to be signs of "empowerment," but are really just another form of psychic slave rebellion from a self that is the actual slaver. Bollas writes of how certain homosexual's "adornment in exaggerated representations of the subjective element can be a defiance of the normotic way of life. Where the normotic parent may have stressed 'reasonable' thinking, the homosexual may espouse the superiority of anti-reason. Where the normotic parent never tolerated the controversial, the homosexual may become perversely addicted to collecting controversies."

Bollas adds that compulsive sexual promiscuity among many homosexuals "has the character of a material phenomenon, and is in part an inverted representation of the normotic illness." Honest and self-aware homosexuals will know exactly what Bollas is referring to. The rest will feel victimized, which is to take a secret pleasure in participating in one's own auto-subjection. It is also abnormal, so you can't win. Or whine. Check mate.

If we take a godseye view and consider the world a work of art, the genuine artistic co-creator is an archetypal example of freedom lived, or of potential actualized, at least in the aesthetic sphere.

For example, in a banalogy I have used before, I am "free" to play the saxophone, but not in any meaningful way, unless I undergo the years of discipline it takes to transcend mere freedom and transform it into something higher. Although a cosmic master of sonic vibration is much more constrained than I am when he places the sax in his blowhole, those musical constraints -- or boundary conditions -- are precisely analogous to the intrinsic truths that allow oneself to ascend to its proper soul station.

Just so, to deny the intrinsic spiritual truths that in-form the soul is like trying to play the sax without harmony, melody, chords, rhythm, pacing, etc. But conversely, to only conform to these moral truths in a rigid, exterior way, without realizing and assimilating their inner meaning, can result in a superficially good and decent person, but still, something will be missing... *cough* romney *cough*...

That something is the true self. And for the true self, truth, virtue, and beauty fundamentally involve consciousness of a plane of reality, not conformity to a rigid exterior model. I don't just want my son to "be good." Rather, I want him to know, understand, and love goodness. Nor do I want him to take the easy path of the tenured, and merely obtain good grades without being intelligent.

Our essentialist idea of a true self parts ways with the existentialists in all their variety, who believe that the self is entirely self-made, so to speak. First of all, the true self cannot possibly be self-made -- any more than you could make your liver or kidneys. It is an organ, except that it is a multi-dimensional organ that transcends space and time, at least to a certain extent. But the fact that the self may know timeless truth proves that its ultimate source is outside time.

Like all other organs, the self requires time in order to reach maturity. But the function of the self is much more complex compared to, say, the kidneys, which mostly have the one task of filtering blood.

The self, on the other hand, has the ongoing task of metabolizing and synthesizing internal, external, past, present, and transpersonal experience into a higher subjective unity. This is why you might say that the self is man's first "hyperdimensional virtual organ," so to speak. It is just as busy as the heart or lungs, except that it accomplishes its feats in a higher space that obviously exceeds three or four dimensions (cf. the phenomenon of dreaming).

In turn, this is why the normotic personality may appear outwardly normal, even while living a life in which he systematically denies the sufficient reason for man's existence. From the human standpoint, it can never be "normal" to be a radical atheist or leftist, for both of these categories prevent man from discovering transcendent truth and becoming what he is -- from actualizing his real nonlocal potential.

Yesterday I mentioned the "destiny drive," which is to the self as final cause is to biology. Biology is incoherent in the absence of final causation, in that each organ obviously has a function to fulfill within the context of the whole, and failure to achieve this function is the very definition of pathology. In other words, we can only know about sickness because there is a thing called "health" (which with good reason is etymologically related to wholeness).

But what was the Self designed to do? Well, if you are a Darwinist, it is a moot question, because the self reduces to biology, which in turn reduces to physics, which has no purpose at all. This down-and-backward looking metaphysic hurls the self against the dead rocks of the cosmic past (HT Vanderleun), so it can actualize no intrinsically real future, i.e., destiny.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Slipping Through the Net of Normality: It's Always a Midwife Crisis

... now that we're down to just us three, we can finally get into the deeper stuff without fear of distortion and misunderstanding by all those other impenetrable readers. Good riddance! As long as I have an audience of One -- or multiples thereof -- that's all I ask.

Continuing with yesterday's line of thought: just what causes the tragedy of normality? You might say that it is the result of an immaculate conception, minus the conception part. Thus, it is a misconception. Except it isn't immaculate. A dirty misconception, I guess. A misbegotten bastard. Or, bitter yet, let's call it a postnatal abortion, because that's what it is -- unless, of course, man isn't subject to a series of births that constitute the totality of his life. But that would be absurd. We're all bornagain annagain annagain, 'til weewakes and our soily river finds its salty sea.

As Christopher Bollas explains, "it is striking how this person [the Normal] seems to be unborn" (emphasis mine). Such individuals -- and you all know at least one, probably more than one -- often appear to be "content and happy" on the surface, but are in fact "lost in the concrete," and therefore never make the full leap into what Bollas calls the "originating subjectivity which informs our use of the symbolic."

I hope that isn't too jargony, because Bollas is an exceptionally deep and lucid thinker who is as clear as it is possible to be in these dark maters. The takeaway point is that our originating subjectivity is prior to the symbolic (which is the realm of the Father). This flies in the farce of most contemporary thought, which essentially equates the two: in this metaphysic, we can have no stable or enduring essence, only a contingent bagful of symbols -- somewhat like an inescapable kaleidescope, in which a new image appears merely by rearranging the particles. While this is true of the tenured -- hence the compulsion to publish their ephemeral patterns -- it is not a general principle that applies to everyone.

Bollas goes on to say that since the Normal doesn't "perceive himself as a subject, he does not ask to be seen by the other," nor is he able to look deeply into the other. That italicized part is key, for these people have no conscious desire for true subject-to-subject contact. They cannot make real contact with themselves, and therefore, others.

But real contact always involves this two-way -- actually, three-way -- contact, consisting of knower-known-knowledge. Not only is it a kind of in-spiraling process, but -- as you might have anticipated -- none of the three can be radically separated from each other. They are siblings, as it were -- triplets.

This can be formulated in various ways. For example, it is a true Ism and Usm that knowledge of others is limited by self-knowledge. Indeed, we can go beyond this, and affirm that knowledge of anything is limited by self-knowledge, because if one doesn't even know what the self is, why should we care about what it pretends to know? And I'm talkin' to you, Charles Rhesus Darwin!

(As we've mentioned before, one of the reasons the Constitution is so durable -- why it amounts to "political scripture" -- is that it is rooted in a sober and accurate assessment of that scoundrel, human nature. Which is why job one of the left is to attack human nature as a means to change the plain meaning of the document.)

We can also look at it from the other angle, from the perspective of the known. This is one of the ways faith operates, in that it involves acceptance of truths that have the effect of shaping the knower, and saving him from all manner of potential falls. This type of truth is like the yeast in the bread, or better, the pesticide in the rathole of the skull.

In the past, we have discussed how rapidly one may determine the intersubjective depth -- or crapacity -- of the other, which will be felt as an almost physical constraint one cannot get past -- or, alternatively, a kind of expansive and liberating space. The latter type of relationship is quite literally a blessing, and in fact, the first blessing is the infinite com-passion of the m-Other, who reaches into us as we reach into her. It is within this fertile space that we are subjectively "con-ceived" (or in which our potential subject is first actual-ized).

Yesterday I cited the example of Tristan's friend, whose mother is slowly driving him insane. To be in her presence is to confront a wall -- a wall which her son will have to try to somehow get beyond later in life, by which time the damage will have been done. His growth will be stunted until he can have an intimate bond with an other who can relate to who he actually is. As things stand, his mother only relates to what she projects into him, which will be internalized as a bad and rejected self. Such a person will have difficulty loving others, because he will want to protect others from his bad and unlovable self.

The real tragedy is that in order to adapt to this kind of parent, the child must excise parts of himself, so that he too becomes a psychic stillborn.

Luckily for me -- although it was painful at the time -- I was consciously aware from an early age that my parents mostly interacted with an image of me instead of the actual me, and I think this is what saved me. Had I not been aware of this empathic failure on their part, I too may have met the fate of the unborn. Or, let us say that I suffered only a partial birth abortion, in that part of me survived the procedure and was able to resuscitate the rest.

Here is how Bollas describes it: "At the most fundamental level, the normotic was only partly seen by the mother and father, mirrored by parents whose reflective ability was dulled, yielding only the glimmer of an outline of self to a child." This is an example of something that is as deeply problematic as, say, the need to vaccinate all children against various diseases. But because it is in the realm of the subjective, no one really talks about it. Obviously, it is not as dramatic or visible as material deprivation, i.e., mere exterior poverty. Imagine a UN commission on the interior poverty of children. You know, since they've done such a good job with material poverty.

In terms of psychospiritual development, the problem is that "neither of the parents is inclined towards the celebration of the child's imaginative life." And when they do enter play, it has a kind of covert sadism that terminates the play and brings the child back to reality instead of further into imagination.

When the parent fails to respond to who the child actually is, the unrecognized parts become "negative hallucinations," or "not there" particles that float aimlessly around the psyche in search of being. Then, when the child reaches adolescence, he is suddenly thrust into "the horrifying dilemma of being unable to symbolize his pain." Predictable consequences follow, because the homeless pain will soon enough incarnate via the sexlink.

Surely you have been witness to an aggravating soul murder? As I've mentioned in the past, we've already lost friends because we not only allow but encourage Tristan's natural inclination to use imaginary guns to shoot real bad guys. With relish. To deny a boy his manly aggressiveness is a psychic castration. One may try, but the aggression won't just magically disappear; rather, it will return in a disguised and dysfunctional form. Imagine someone like a Keith Olbermann or Howard Dean or Paul Krugman, who just bristle with a kind of toxic, infantile rage. These shrill bullies are emblematic of the "new castrati" (as Vanderleun dubbed them), who make up for in hysteria what they lack in male logos. They are always "premenstrual," which is why they cannot conceive themselves and we must bear them.

There is a "dialectic of death" between the normotic parent and child, which results in suppression of "the creative expression of the inner core of the self." Bollas says he doesn't fully understand "why some children give in to such a family atmosphere and become normotic, and why others do not."

But psychology is not deterministic, nor can we account for the workings of grace. While most children are traumatized in varying degrees by abuse (both positive and "negative" abuse), some children seem to emerge unscathed. Conversely, some children are just so temperamentally sensitive that they are crushed by the most benign empathic failures on the part of the parents. Others are born with such a robust "destiny drive," that it seems that nothing can stop them from becoming what they were meant to be. Other people can be blessed with what looks like abundance and become nothing, like so many victims of graduate school.

Here is another subtle point that I am sure is accurate: "I think it is highly likely that the children who give in to the normotic element perceive in the parents' way of being a form of hate that we might conceptualize as a death instinct." It is not necessarily the case that the child feels hated by, or hatred for, the parent. Rather, "it may be more accurate to say that the child experiences the parents' attack on life itself, and that such a parent is trying to squeeze the life out of existence."

Bollas suggests that perhaps the children who escape normotic parents "find a way to be mirrored even if the parents are not providing this." I believe this is what happened with me. I found other models that served this mirroring function, and in looking back on it, I can see that it clearly wasn't a chance phenomenon, at least not totally.

That is, my unborns were looking for particular exemplars to assist in their own birth. A fair number of people have testified that this very blog you are now reading or more likely ignoring has been instrumental in helping to bring their unborns into the world, and for that I am profoundly grateful. Didn't Socrates consider himself to be nothing more than a humble midwife? So if anyone feels spanked along the way, that's why. Nothing personal. We just want you to breath the celestial air.

I am passing out. O bitter ending! I'll slip away before they're up. They'll never see. Nor know. Nor miss me. And it's old and old it's sad and old it's sad and weary I go back to you, my cold father, my cold mad father, my cold mad feary father, till the near sight of the mere size of him, the moyles and moyles of it, moananoaning, makes me seasilt saltsick and I rush, my only, into your arms. I see them rising! Save me from those therrble prongs! Two more. Onetwo moremens more. So. Avelaval. My leaves have drifted from me. All. But one clings still. I'll bear it on me. To remind me of. Lff! --From the last paragraph of Finnegans Wake, which, if it means what I think it means, well...

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Tyranny of Normality

Is there anything else we need to say about The Fool before moving on to The World? Yes, I think so. In The Spiritual Ascent, Perry discusses divine madness, the seeming mindlessness of many of those "who have transcended the purely rational faculties."

The Creator himself must be crazy -- or at least out of his mind, in the sense that, in order for there to be an independent creation, it must be relatively separate from him. In this foolish way of looking at things, there is a "fall," so to speak, within God, from being to existence -- or perhaps from beyond-being to being, i.e., the apophatic to the cataphatic God, or Nirguna to Saguna Brahman.

This was the opinion of no less a gnut than Meister Eckhart, who observed that "God's idiosyncrasy is being" (quoted in Perry) -- Being being the first exteriorization, or precipitate, of the creative Godhead beyond being. Which is why, as Plato expressed it, "the madness that comes of God is superior to the sanity which is of human origin."

Now, typically, it is the extreme bhakta -- the God lover -- who most exhibits the symptoms of divine madness -- weeping, pining, carrying on. But the way of the Raccoon is to filter that same madness through the jnanic, or contemplative, temperament -- which results in the sort of irritating linguistic post-normality you have come to expect from Dear Leader. Rules of grammar, or spelling, or sentence construction -- well, we just don't care. But we always break the rules from above, never below. Like the fashion-conscious dapper Dan, it is acceptable to break a rule, so long as one is aware that the rule is being broken.

If one regards culture as a sort of boundary -- a necessary boundary, by the way -- anyone who does not stay within the lines will be regarded as an outlaw, a retrobate, a moron, or a fool, irrespective of whether they fall below or above its expectations. The One Cosmos troll, for example, suffers from a nasty case of chronic, even terminal, normality. A Normotic Personality Disorder, if you will.

As a matter of fact, back when I myself was hoping to join the ranks of the normies, I considered publishing a paper on this topic, because it is something one routinely encounters in clinical practice, not to mention day-to-day life. In a certain sense, to be "normal" is to be partially dead, unless one is aware of the fact that one is only behaving normally in order to "pass." In Coonspeak, "if you're not eccentric, you're wrong." But we do not necessarily advertise our eccentricity in the wrong circles. That's not proper madness, that's just stupidity. Why act the fool with people who'll just think you're nuts?

Perry cites the example of Omar Khayam, "whose wisdom clothed in frivolity is opposed to Pharisaism clothed in piety." Or, as Schuon put it, "if religious hypocrisy is possible, the contrary paradox must equally be so." In other words, if we were to pretend to be normal, we would be a rank hypocrite.

The psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas coined the term "normotic personality," which might very well describe the anti-Coon. On the one hand, therapists routinely deal with patients who are limited by a weak sense of reality.

But just as often -- actually, more often -- one encounters people who, as Winnicott expressed it, "are so firmly anchored in objectively perceived reality that they are ill in the opposite direction of being out of touch with the subjective world and with the creative approach to fact" (quoted in Bollas; keep this in mind when we discuss the next arcanum, The World).

Bollas elaborates on the concept, describing "a particular drive to be normal, one that is typified by the numbing and eventual erasure of subjectivity in favor of a self that is conceived as a material object among other man-made products in the object world." Hence, the oft-mentioned spiritual autism of our scientistic jester -- and all such jesters who, ironically, are "anti-fools."

You might call it a "blank psychosis," in that, instead of positive symptoms -- e.g., delusions, hallucinations, etc. -- these people have only negative symptoms that are characterized by their absence. As a result, a person who has these non-symptoms will be the last to gnosis, since they are "not all there." In order for them to become sane, they must first "go crazy."

As Bollas writes, the normotic person may enter therapy because "they are unable to resolve that psychic pain which derives from the annulment of internal life. They are usually aware of feeling empty or without a sense of self, and they seek analytic help in order to find some way to feel real or to symbolize a pain that may only be experienced as a void or an ache."

Notice that in order for a person to feel real, they must live in the very opposite of what most people take to be "reality," that is, the objective or material world. One can also understand how this type of person could be prone to various forms of addiction and pseudo-addiction as means to gain a spurious sense of freedom and subjective reality -- to escape their cramped prison for a while.

Speaking of which, because of the intersubjective magic of counter-transference, when you are in the presence of this kind of individual, you will notice that they cannot help psychically infecting others with a kind of persecutory banality. This is the real reason why newspapers and TV news are so odious to the Raccoon. Can you imagine anything as stultifying as having, say, Rachel Maddow, or Keith Olbermann, or Katie Couric, instruct you on the nature of reality -- i.e., what is "important" and how we should interpret it? Whatever else the MSMistry of Truth is, it is a hell of pure banality.

Katie Couric is no doubt normal. But it is strictly insane for such a person to "feel good about herself." Her first step toward recovery would be to feel as repulsed by her banality as we are. In other words, in order to get well, she must first make herself sick.

"A normotic person is someone who is abnormally normal. He is too stable, secure, comfortable, and socially extrovert. He is fundamentally disinterested in subjective life and he is inclined to reflect on the thingness of objects, on their material reality, or on 'data' that relates to material phenomena." Tell him that a child needs a mother and father, and he'll say "show me the data." Tell him that "homosexual marriage" undermines the basis of civilization, and he'll say "show me the study."

The normotic personality has a particular affliction that prevents him from appreciating the irreducibly poetic, analogical, and symbolic nature of reality. Instead, they project their own psychic deadness into the world, and then insist that the world is as dead as they are. In turn, they re-introject what they have projected, which, psychically speaking, amounts to eating rocks and expecting to be nourished.

This is one of the reasons irreligious people often worship at the altar of art, because they idealize the artist as someone who has escaped this trap. I know people whose houses are filled with expensive art, but whose heads and hearts are full of kitsch. As Bollas says, "such an individual is alive in a world of meaningless plenty."

What makes the normotic person such a burden to be around is that they cannot help treating you in the same manner they treat themselves and their world. As a result, to bear their presence is to have to live outside the full spectrum of your own psychic life. You know what it's like to have to be around people who cannot possibly make contact with you. Since they cannot resonate with, or conform to, reality in all its richness, in order to get along at all, you must conform to them and their little reality tunnel. This is especially tragic for children who must amputate the greater part of themselves in order to cope with their normotic parents. Tristan has a friend whom it is painful to be around, because his mother is slowly sophicating him.

The normotic person lacks genuine introspection, and even has a kind of automatic defense mechanism that deflects such inquiries. Bollas: "Such a person appears genuinely naive if asked to comment on issues that require either looking into oneself or the other in any depth." It is frustrating to deal with such a patient, because they constantly bring the subjective back to the objective, from interior essence to exterior circumstance.

Such a person may outwardly appear "unusually steady and strong." But outside their comfort zone, they soon betray their shallowness, whether it is in a discussion of art, religion, film, literature, whatever -- anything that requires subjective depth, i.e., soul.

The normotic person forecloses the Mystery and reduces reality to the superficial laws and regularities he is capable of comprehending with his object-mind. But what person with a minimal amount of education can't shoot down the imaginative and mythopoetic formulations of exoteric religion with a kind of rigidly applied profane logic? What's the point? Why not pick a fight with a God who is not one's own puny size?

Look at the childishly literal manner in which the radical atheist interprets revelation -- as if transcendence is a thing, of all things! The figurative accounts for the literal, not vice versa, otherwise the celestial message would be trivial. But instead of going off the deep end, the self-enclosed atheistic believer goes off the shallow end, head first. Which, if it strikes the concrete bottom, may result in paralysis from the heart in and ego up. Or drowning in a few inches of water.

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