Friday, February 08, 2013

The Metamorphosis: Just Say No to Bugs!

As mentioned yesterday, I want to clear a few items from my head before we continue with MotT. As they say, bloggin' out your noggin keeps the bean clean.

As you know, I don't like to just read a book -- in this case, James Schall's The Modern Age -- and toss it aside without further re-flection. The following are just spontaneous impressions, not any kind of formal review. Some of them go to yesterday's comment thread, in which the question was raised as to whether man is evolving (in the vulgar Darwinian sense) or whether he has a fixed nature.

Our position has always been that we are orthoparadoxically evolving toward our fixed nature, both in general (i.e., "humanness" as such) and individually (i.e., a deepening of our unique personal identity, which is ultimately only possible within the intersubjective space between person and Person, ¶ and O). Man's puzzling charge is to become who you are! (emphasis God's).

True, there are other theories, but they don't interest me because they don't account for my life and my experience. I concede that these theories my well apply to insects or bats or atheists or progressives.

Which reminds me -- one of the literary touchstones of the 20th century is Kafka's The Metamorphosis. Its famous deadpan opening line very much expresses the bleak existential tenor of the times, and proved to be an eerily prescient meta phor the nightmares to come:

One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug.

Yes, one of those days. Or centuries, rather. Or administrations.

"What's happened to me," he thought. It was no dream.

Devolution in action! Or evolution, rather, because if metaphysical Darwinism is "true" (which it cannot be, but just for the sake of argumentativeness), then man has exactly the dignity and value of an insect, no more, no less. In that case, Kafka is not just a neurotic schmendrick with terribly low self-esteem, but a prophet.

Millions of European Jews of the 1930s woke up with exactly this experience, having been transformed overnight by evolutionist Nazi ideology into "monstrous verminous bugs."

But the Jews, as always, were the canaries in the world-historical ghoulmind. In the long run -- as promised by the Creator -- things never turn out well for those who persecute the Jews.

Indeed, a very handy way to locate the center of evil is to find out where Jews are being persecuted and dehumanized. Today it is within Islam, academia, and the international left.

Unfortunately for us, the disease has now spread to the White House -- unfortunate because those who curse the Jews are cursed in return. What a way to fritter away divine protection. And for what? So jihadis and liberal fascists will finally love us?

The bottom lyin' looks like this, which I just randomly stumbled upon while looking for an image of Gregor. Just say no to Bob!

No O, no I. No me, no thee, no we, no three. No ʘ and no pilcrow (¶) either.

The only way to retain our Slack and cultivate our Higher Sanity -- and avoid being transformed into an insect -- is to completely reject and bypass the postmodern Creepy Crawler bugmaker machinery.

My son is at that age -- almost eight -- when he is really into dinosaurs. We've been reading dinosaur books at bedtime, but it has never occurred to me to remind him that the ultimate lesson here is that human beings are no different from the dinosaurs, just another meaningless freak of evolution that will soon enough depart from the terrestrial stage, only to be replaced by another freak. And with any luck, this freak will be less destructive to the Mother Gaia than human beastlings are. You know, as if it matters what the fuck happens to the planet if we aren't here to enjoy it.

In other words, I don't transform him into planetary vermin. Which is what would surely be happening if he were being subjected to a secular brainwash in one of our intellectually and spiritually devolved public schools, where one learns how to be a compliant insectoid member of the statist hive.

All of the above occurred to me -- implicitly, anyway -- upon reading a sentence from The Modern Age. Schall makes a passing remark about the forced materialism of the Soviet state, and about how this compulsory misosophy "is a sign of imprisonment in this world not only by a coercive regime but by modern thought itself" (emphasis mine).

One might as well say: One morning, while sitting in poli sci class, Gregor Samsa was disabused of his humanist fantasies of dignity and meaning, and told that an infallible herd of half-educated tenured apes had determined that he was a random and meaningless product of natural selection.

Or: One dreary November morn, Gregor Samsa was dismayed to learn that he had been changed overnight into an anonymous cog in Obama's collectivist machine.

Or: One morning, Gregor Samsa was roused from holy innocence and charged with the vague thought crime of being a guilt-stained and verminous Enemy of the People.

Again, I'm trying to spare my son from all these idiocies, and from an infrahuman fate more generally, i.e., forced materialism. For the truth is much, much stranger. Something like:

One fine morning, as humanoid primates were just waking up from some weird enough prehistorical dream, they discovered that they had been transfigured into an image of God, with all this implies.

Or: One morning, Gagdad Bob awakened to an empty procrustean bed and realized that his professors had been lying to him, and that he wasn't an insect at all. Rather, he woke up to the surprising deuscovery that he was a hooraysurrected mirrorcle of the Abbasolute!

Truth is much stranger than fact.

Whoops, where'd 'ego?


mushroom said...

You know, as if it matters what the fuck happens to the planet if we aren't here to enjoy it.

Which just goes to show none of the bug-people have thought this thing through.

mushroom said...

I remember where I was exactly when I read The Metamorphosis the first time. I don't know if you can call it life changing, but it's powerful. I had never thought about it in that mythopoetic way, but you're right.

And that Kafka, another one of them Jews. Too bad his people didn't take him more seriously.

Gagdad Bob said...

Some of my best friends and relatives are self-hating Jews.

Gagdad Bob said...

Heard from Petey: "Have you noticed that opponents of deconstruction always just happen to be well-adjusted and gainfully employed white males? "

Magister said...

You know, as if it matters what the fuck happens to the planet if we aren't here to enjoy it.

Your anti-humanist betters will enjoy it, plebe!

Bob, we're on the same wavelength with that protest against imbuggification. I got this off my chest yesterday when thinking about Obama's Newtown speech:

And so on this, as on other sad occasions, I come humbly to you first as a fellow husband and father. On that basis, and in that sacred solidarity, my wife and I say from the bottom of our hearts that as we watch your grief, we grieve with you.

Because it is wrong that your beautiful children and fine neighbors were taken from you by force by a murderer's hand. He stole them from you just as you began to see their futures stretching out before them. He stole them from you despite their goodness, despite the care you gave them, and in spite of the love you felt for them.

We must recognize this act for what it is, and call it by its true name: selfish, murderous, evil.

We reject that evil. Unlike the murderer and whatever phantasms moved him, we stand confidently and resolutely on the side of life and love -- eternal realities -- and we reject, totally, the culture of selfishness, illusion, and death.

So let us all start together, right here, with the righteous shout we feel rising in our throats every time we see the good and the innocent die: No.



julie said...

Magister, I like your version of the speech that wasn't.

Speaking of man as planetary vermin, the thought occurred to me while reading yesterday's post and comments (then fled before I could pin it down) that one of the bitter ironies of leftist evolutionism is that if man is evolving to something more special than what he is already, the future generations have to actually show up. And of course, leftists tend not to be particularly fruitful in that regard, what with believing mankind is just vermin and shouldn't be reproducing anyway (except some special few - perhaps just the offspring of gay and lesbian couples, who deserve to have kids more than anyone).

If they fail to pass on their specially evolving genetics, isn't that a massive Darwinian fail? (Rhetorical question; Darwinism is a fail, period.)

julie said...

Speaking of progressives evolving...

Gagdad Bob said...

On the seventh day, God created Slack. On the eighth day, slackers.

Gagdad Bob said...

This book Summa Philosophica is extremely enjoyable so far. What a fine mental disinfectant! The perfect thing to arm a child with before attending college.

Chris said...

Amazing post! Surely, the rise of leftism represents a loss or "fall" from classical liberalism. But, I'm not clear about how we should appraise that aspect of the Enlightenment which inspired the American founding. Should we regard the break up of Christendom and the rise of modernity in positive or negative terms?

The traditionalist school espouses something of a Hindu schema when it comes to eschatology- a series of concentric "falls" from a center of primordial perfection. I have difficulty seeing things this way. It is hard to dispute that Western civilization has made human progress, that is, not just in the scientific/material sense. I wonder what's really going on, if anything at all?

Gagdad Bob said...

America's founders were of the moderate Anglo-Scot Enlightenment, an entirely different beast from the radical Enlightenment of the French -- although the unbalanced Jefferson was often intemperate enough to fall into the latter. See here for details.

Jack said...

I also enjoyed "Summa Philosopica". A reminder that sanity is possible. (though, if I recall, there is some "one-worldism" near the back of the book. Nobody's perfect, I suppose.)

I have been reading Kreeft's books from the "Socrates Meets..." series. Right now I am finishing up "Socrates Meets Kant". A nice antidote to one of the precursors, Kant that is, to our current off-kilter situation.

Rick said...

"...then man has exactly the dignity and value of an insect, no more, no less."

"What difference does it make?!"

Gagdad Bob said...

I awoke in the middle of the night with exactly these thoughts, channeled through a contributor at Ace of Spades:

"Socialism doesn't work. It never works. It never has worked, it never will work. Karl Marx was full of shit, and the human race has sacrificed millions of innocent lives and untold wealth proving that beyond all possible doubt. Yet fuckheads like Krugman are still beguiled by his shitty, murderous, tired, discredited philosophy.

"It offends me to live in a society that elevates someone like Krugman into a position where he can influence public opinion. Much of what is wrong with our country can be neatly encapsulated in the bitter, miserable, bearded little homunculus that is Paul Krugman."

julie said...

I was just looking at another Ace post; it's sickly twisted that so many of the same people crying about "if it saves a single life..." advocate policies that have quite literally resulted in the deaths of millions.

Gagdad Bob said...

I read a stat at NRO to the effect that every increase in fuel efficiency results in a few thousand highway deaths per annum because the cars must be lighter. The usual leftist logic: Save the Planet -- Kill the People!

julie said...

Bob @ 8:58 - Which of course makes perfect sense when people are really just vermin, anyway.

In today's world, many who consider themselves "philanthropists" are by their actions precisely the opposite.

julie said...

(Oops! I thought Van's comment was here, but it's on the previous post. Relevant either way...)

Chris said...

The relationship between modernity and Tradition is a subject of great interest to me. More specifically, the question of whether or not classical liberalism is, in fact, compatible with the spiritual civilization that was Christendom.

From the perspective of most traditionalists, the answer is an emphatic no! The reason being, as I understand it, is that the contemporary left and right are really both varieties of Liberalism. And Liberalism, according to the author below, is the antithesis of Tradition. Consider the following:

"Conservative" opposition to leftist political programs and figures, no matter its seeming intensity, is simply a matter of partisanship and policy choices. Republicans, constitutionalists, libertarians all share the same vision of the United States outlined in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths......."

Not a nation in any traditional sense, America is a social experiment, a self- willed construct proclaimed to embody the destiny of all mankind. The United States is a triumphant herald of modernity, and modernity is the spiritual impoverishment of being. Blood, faith, and heritage are to be abolished by "liberty", i.e. the vicissitudes of market forces.......the cultural, political, and economic disorder (of modernity) have their main source in a crisis of the spirit.

The ideals of modernity, manifested in progress, equality, democracy, total individual autonomy form a counterfeit religion. So long as the self proclaimed Right holds fast to any of these fantasies, opposition to liberalism is meaningless and purely cosmetic.......

With the traditional West devastated and hierarchy inverted, there is precious little to conserve besides one's faith and lineage, the necessities for survival and resurgence. But modern conservatives reject the divine-human and heartfelt essence of culture, thereby serving as the liberal order's most ardent defenders......The conservative movement knows what's really important: generous contributions from the financial and defense industries to maintain policies of corporate centralization and overseas empire.

Is the fusion of traditionalist conservatism and libertarianism (classical liberalism) still a serviceable ship?

julie said...

Criminy. And then there's this, via Vanderleun's sidebar:

"Selection of embryos that contain a gene coding for a greater disposition to altruism

Genetic interventions to gametes, embryos or postnatal human beings as a means to the same end

Embryo selection or genetic engineering as a means of avoiding or neutralising genes associated with antisocial personality disorder

Either of these means as a way of securing a stronger predisposition to fairness

An artificial chromosome that includes multiple genes coding for stronger predispositions to a variety of moral virtues"

Now maybe it's just me, but wouldn't selectively aborting in favor of greater virtue, altruism and empathy result in people who are opposed to selective abortion? Anyone? Bueller?

julie said...

Of course, further down an explanation of the definition of the terms is provided:

"The hit list includes those whose genetics point towards “moral cynicism”, such as tax cheats, those not wanting to contribute “one’s fair share”, those with “defective empathy”, and those who suffer “a failure of insight or motivation”. Malcontents such as those unwilling “to find common ground” or with “Weak will[s] or susceptibility to temptation”, and the morons with an “Inability to find creative solutions to difficult problems involving competing interests and values” or an “Inability to grasp subtle, complicated details” also get flushed down the toilet."

So: not creating people of virtue, empathy and morals; rather, creating a race of sheep. And so, once again a mere man tries to take the place of God (for where there are sheep, there needs must be a shepherd...).

You know that line about communism being a nice theory but for the wrong species? This guy has the solution: change the species to fit the theory.

Jack said...

This guy has the solution: change the species to fit the theory.

I would imagine that's been the lefts intention all along.

Horrifying either way.

Gagdad Bob said...


I think the main problem with the so-called Traditionalist view vis-a-vis modernity is that they hold an a priori metaphysical principle that says that time is necessarily decaying as it travels further and further from the "origin." This is certainly no part of Christianity or Judaism. It is essentially a pagan belief, so I suppose it's traditional in that reagard. But so too is human sacrifice, so antiquity confers no necessary inoculation from goofiness.

Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, I think Guenon suffered from frank paranoia, for what it's worth.

Jack said...

RE: Evolutionism vs. Absolutism.

I have been reading "Plato's Modern Enemies and the Theory of Natural Law" by John Wild. A book off of one of Schall's reading lists.

To quote:

"By natural law, or moral law, I mean: a universal pattern of action, applicable for all men everywhere, required by human nature itself for its completion."

Jack said...


"The answer of the theory of natural law is indicated by the word completion in our formula. If existence is deprived what it requires for its completion, evil arises."

Natural law is therefore inherently dynamic and directional rather than tendentious and ultimately random.

My guess is that Wilber wants to include Kant's notion of moral autonomy in his view of "evolution". That is, that *we* choose the direction of our so-called higher developmont.

Of course this quickly becomes incoherent by pointing out that simply because we *choose* something e.g. abortion, narcissism, Obama etc in no way makes it of "higher" value. This is almost the definition of leftist error.

ted said...

Of course this quickly becomes incoherent by pointing out that simply because we *choose* something e.g. abortion, narcissism, Obama etc in no way makes it of "higher" value. This is almost the definition of leftist error.

True Jack. But since we are always making choices, and those choices are consequentially more complex (in the techno/cultural/social systems that we reside within), then we better become more aware of how we can make more conscious value-laden choices. They may not always be "higher," but what choice do we have? (no pun :).

julie said...

...we better become more aware of how we can make more conscious value-laden choices.

Just for clarity, what do you mean by this? What set of values would you have dictate people's choices, and how conscious would you have them be?

I only ask because a lot of people believe they are making conscious, value-laden choices, when quite often what they do is the very opposite of what they thought they were doing. Thus "free" healthcare for all, and particularly for the most vulnerable - which sounds on the surface like a fantastic idea, how nice for those poor people who can't afford care - becomes in fact a guarantor that the most vulnerable will be the first to be cut off from care and brought to death, often by some of the most inhumane means.

Or for another example, banning plastic grocery sacks in the name of "reducing waste," which again sounds like a fine notion to people so inclined to worry about such things, but results in a whole host of serious problems, not least of which being the increase in cases of food poisoning (which can in fact be fatal).

Personally, I have found that so long as the choices I make are (as much as possible for an assoul like me) based generally in the ten and more specifically in the one, I can't go wrong. But it doesn't seem very fashionable to make choices that way, these days.

ted said...

Yes Julie, all good points and I am in agreement. We need to go beyond the feel-good intentions that the left is prone to, and understand all the unintended consequences we bring about with those intentions. Being more conscious means being awake to the whole and the part.

julie said...

Thanks for clarifying. I hope I wasn't being too rude in asking.

ted said...

I never sensed any rudeness. Besides, this blog has thickened my skin over the years. :)

Gagdad Bob said...

Evolution in action.

ge said...

Mysterious Disease Leaving Philadelphia Women 'Possessed,' Catatonic... [Drudge}

-Chronic cretinoid Obamanosis?

Van Harvey said...

"Schall makes a passing remark about the forced materialism of the Soviet state, and about how this compulsory misosophy "is a sign of imprisonment in this world not only by a coercive regime but by modern thought itself" (emphasis mine)."

Oh ho... emphasis is sooo mine too. The modern thought has totalitari preceded the modernarian education and the modernarian state, and made them possible by removing the habit of real thought from the modernarian mind. That is Totalitarianism. The avowedly totalitarian state, is simply a state where its people recognize that they no longer recognize the need to be restrained by reality.

It is a brave new 1984 where we can welcome our insect overlords, and hope they will eat us last.

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad Bob said "This book Summa Philosophica is extremely enjoyable so far. What a fine mental disinfectant! The perfect thing to arm a child with before attending college."

I've also enjoyed the heck out of Kreeft's "Socrates meets _____" books. They are fun to read, humorous, packed with bad puns and generally do a good job at getting to the heart of the ____ (Maciavelli, Descartes, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Marx, Sarte) misosophy.

Jack said...

"...and generally do a good job at getting to the heart of the ____ (Maciavelli, Descartes, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Marx, Sarte) misosophy."

Well said. I couldn't agree more. Despite the bad puns.

Gagdad Bob said...

Van: Imagine if, in order to graduate high school, students had to take and pass a course in logic. That would pretty much spell the end of the left.

Of course, next thing you know, activists would be demanding equal time for "feminist logic" or "black logic."

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "Imagine if, in order to graduate high school, students had to take and pass a course in logic. That would pretty much spell the end of the left."

It truly would. But... then it would depend upon whether they were taught Logic, or ilLogic.

Coonincidentaly, I cracked open Kant's "Introduction to Logic" this morning... and I almost drained the red ink from my pen in the first chapter. It's only 100 pages long, but most of that is entirely unnecessary, within the first three pages his goals are accomplished - you are neatly separated from, and barred from ever returning to, reality.

It is remarkable how smoothly and enticingly deceptive he manages to frame his world around you; substituting the 'how' for the 'what', and discrete rules for integrated principles, all is soon inverted as the 'Rules' of reality become what reality must live up to; equivocation in the hands of a master is a truly lethal (or Lethe-all) art.

And 'Logic', separated from, and given power over Reality... is such a fearsomely destructive weapon. Which of course is what leads to,

"... next thing you know, activists would be demanding equal time for "feminist logic" or "black logic.""


Jack said...

Maybe the feminists would demand a "logic" a little something like this:

PHALLOCENTRISM OR PHALLOGOCENTRISM: The privileging of the masculine (the phallus) in understanding meaning or social relations. This term evolved from deconstructionists who questioned the "logocentrism" of Western literature and thought, i.e. the belief in the centrality of logos, understood as cosmic reason (affirmed in ancient Greek philosophy as the source of world order and intelligibility) or, in the Christian version, the self-revealing thought and will of God.

Feminists illustrate how all Western languages, in all their features, are utterly and irredeemably male-engendered, male-constituted, and male-dominated. Discourse is "phallogocentric" because it is centered and organized throughout by implicit recourse to the phallus both as its supposed ground (or logos) and as its prime signifier and power source; and not only in its vocabulary and syntax, but also in its rigorous rules of logic, its proclivity for fixed classifications and oppositions, and its criteria for what we take to be valid evidence and objective knowledge.


Gagdad Bob said...

Believe it or not, there are even courses in "feminist physics." Which actually makes sense, since feminists live in an alternate universe.

ge said...

40 years ago i took a newly-offered course on feminist literature at college--the only dude in the class as i rather hoped, and doubtless my presence rather pooped the party for some who may have wished to male-bash unreservedly. I recall just that we studied Zelda Fitzgerald's writings, a theorist named Shulamaith Firestone that seemed pretty hip, and G Stein...
-What? No George Eliot?? :)

julie said...

Feminist Physics? Isn't that like admitting Barbie was right?

ge said...

never knew this unusual Italian Renaissance work before
The Flagellation of Christ

Jack said...

I always had the feeling that Algebra was totally sexist.

ge said...

5 Dead After Lifeboat
Falls Off Cruise Ship"

=Death By Lifeboat...

Van Harvey said...

Julie said "Feminist Physics? Isn't that like admitting Barbie was right?"

At the very least, it seems as if something doesn't add up, doesn't it? Poor Barbie.

I've been digging into the history of math education, and it's interesting how it is often flat-out lied about... whether by commission or omission or each by turns, in most supposed histories of it. Some even come out and say that math education began in the 1820's, from scratch, with 'drill & kill', at the behest of business leaders(Rockefeller's & the like to were sooo behind the growth of proRegressivism), because there was no one to learn it from.

One thing that's interesting is that it, as it was newly discovered to be taught, became Central to all education plans.

I've got a number of my Grandpa's textbooks, printed late 1800's, early 1900's, and over the years I've been in the habit of picking up old textbooks & guides for grammar, history & math, from 1800's up through 1950's, and I've noticed something odd in the math books, particularly in the Algebra texts.

The early ones, late 1800's, early 1900's, enter directly into the matter, with little or no preliminaries. Gradually, as you move into the 20's, 30's, 50's and beyond, there is more and more and tediously more, jabbering about the meaning of this and that, and why such and such is important to your life, yada, yada, hey.

What strikes me as interesting is that the more our Education in general has been stripped of the imaginative, and grammar has been slighted, the more explanation has been felt to be needed for mathematics - and the worse our comprehension of it has steadily become.

Have you ever looked into what used to be taught in the Quadrivium?

It's tough to find a treatment of it today that's isn't dripping with newage, but it was the study of, and the inter-relatedness, of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy, with a focus on the beauty, proportions and shear imagination stimulating - aka mindblowingness - of how geometry, music, biology, astronomy are fused through the study of numbers.

If you ever wondered why math has been taught as such a stultifying, Mr. Spockishly cold, unimaginative, or at best sets of 'cool' tricks, it shouldn't be a surprise to realize that it is conceived of entirely inside out by modern education - and that began in earnest, began to be clubbed to death in textbooks as a means of 'progress', at the same time the assault upon Homer, Virgil, the Bible and all the rest got underway, in the early 1800's.

River Cocytus said...

As always, the anglo-germanic strain of the European cultural milieu is the most reliable of all of them.


There are a number of unpacked potentialities and ironies here, I think, vis a vis the Enlightenment and Classical Liberalism.

Firstly, the great violence and spiritual suicide of Europe was both distinctly philosemetic and antisemetic at the same time; you could call it the result of the self-loving self-hating Jew if you will - the radical progressive movements were nearly 100% bohemians of Europe and self-hating Jews. The actual division of these folks varied. But to think of it is a Jewish thing would incorrect, since Judaism, or the culture of the Jew or Hebrew is as old as dirt, it has within it nearly fully expressed opposite potentialities, to the point that Maimonides and Jesus and Marx are all Jewish and come out of a potentiality within that tradition, but are also so different that to point to Jewishness as the root cause is like pointing to humanness as the root cause of murder.

You can take the same tack with Christianity and point out that Scholasticism and the Enlightenment as well as Liberal Modernism as we have it are all a species of Christian thought, or the child of one of the seeds of its philosophy. But this doesn't hold water ultimately because of two problems:

1. Many rejected and destroyed heresies arose not out of something else, but usually out of an exaggeration of a potential within the faith yet fully elucidated. (Take Sabellianism; without a clear explication that the persons of the Godhead are actually distinct persons and not some tricky play of masks one could be misled into this opinion.) so Communism, Marxism, Episcopaleanism and so forth could simply be considered Christian heresies - in such a case we're only to blame for not putting them down with the sword or at least with proper exile.

2. Christianity has and does absorb all philosophies and religions into itself and digests them. There is a movie called 'Zeitgeist' which sees this but doesn't understand it; Christianity - make no mistake - has elements of all of the religious yearnings of man in it - but they are put into balance and changed and baptized. 'All things which are lovely...' as the Apostle put it. This means that more or less, Christianity takes on all of the nascent possibility of error of everything; and indeed creates, almost automatically, brand new possibilities of error in this process.

But when you read the clarity of mind of the various saints in their myriad virtues, you can tell the danger is all worth it.