Monday, October 07, 2013

Obama: Prince of Chaos, Maker of Impossible Worlds

This piece by Victor Davis Hanson on Obama as Chaos has some important insights that I hope to tie into our discussions of information theory and process theology. It highlights something I've noticed about Obama, but not been quite able to articulate. It's something all prominent leftists do, but Obama is just so brazen about it, that one hardly knows how to respond.

That is to say, not only is he untruthful, but he doesn't even lie. Rather, he's way beyond -- or before, to be exact -- lying, since lying requires an implicit knowledge of a "stable" truth that is then lied about. In short, the lie is parasitic on truth.

Thus, lying is always reactionary -- for example, Bill Clinton's compulsive lying is much more transparent -- whereas it is as if Obama first softens the cognitive battlefield with rhetorical cluster bombs, thus degrading the ability to think at all. At least when Clinton says something, you can be pretty sure the opposite is true. That's not chaos, but a kind of predictable order.

Again, as we've been saying, information, novelty, and upside surprise require a low-entropy, ordered, and stable channel in which to carry the message. But Obama reduces that ordered channel to chaos, so the question of truth doesn't even arise. If one were to take Obama's chaotic verbalizations seriously, and try to find some kind of harmony, progress, or"emergent truth" in them, it would be quite literally impossible, because there is no possibility of information there.

It is possible to synthesize opposites into a higher union (or to intuit the union prior to their bifurcation). But it is impossible to do this with, say, the chaotic "word salad" of a schizophrenic. More to the point, the purpose of such verbalization is to generate chaos, not to rise above it. The purpose is to attack the foundational cognitive links that are built upon in order to ascend to higher and more comprehensive systems of knowledge.

Hanson observes that "Amid all the charges and countercharges in Washington over the government shutdown, there is at least one common theme: Barack Obama’s various charges always lead to a dead end. They are chaos, and chaos is hard to understand, much less refute" (emphasis mine).

To which I would add that chaos is impossible to understand, and that's the point. But remember, low entropy randomness and high entropy information can be difficult to distinguish, which is precisely why so many tenured bullshit artists are regarded as deep, or oracular, or profound.

"[W]hen the president," writes Hanson, "takes up a line of argument against his opponents, it cannot really be taken seriously -- not just because it is usually not factual, but also because it always contradicts positions that Obama himself has taken earlier or things he has previously asserted."

So, how does one deal with such a satanically chaotic character? (I refer here to the traditional identification of chaos with satanic energies.) A quick google search turns up quite a bit of material, the first result suggesting that for the Bible,

"Satan is the author of chaos and confusion, since the earth was in that chaotic state when the Spirit of the Lord hovered above it, Satan must have played a role in it being in that chaotic state, since he is the father of chaos."

It can't be quite that simple, because as Hartshorne has correctly noted, order and chaos work together in order to generate surprise. So, just as there are good and bad (i.e., tyrannical) forms of order, so too are there good and bad forms of chaos. There must be a kind of "divine chaos" as well as a satanic aping of this.

The quintessence of good chaos would be the ordered liberty the Founders attempted to enshrine in our Constitution. Bad chaos would be exemplified in various postmodern pneumopathologies that promote relativity and "diversity," and erode hierarchy, standards, and universal values. Underneath this is a rejection of verticality as such, so the attacks on God inevitably redound to the bestialization of man. This only ensures more personal and societal chaos, which requires the leviathan state to tame, or "order."

Of course, no spontaneous order can emerge from this kind of intentional chaos, for the same reason you can't make a smoothie without putting the top on the blender. Remove the top, and you just end with a chaotic mess all over the place.

VDH writes that when Obama "mellifluously asserts a teleprompted falsehood," the consequence "is not so much untruth, lies, or distortions, as virtual chaos. Is what he says untrue, contradictory of what he said or did earlier, or just nonsensical? (emphasis mine).

To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, is a fantasy a lie that don't come true, or is it something worse, i.e., malignant chaos? And in any event, "how do you refute fantasy" without descending into chaos yourself?

Speaking of the vast differences between ordered liberty and mere democratic chaos -- i.e., tyranny of the mob -- VDH writes of how Obama inverts the nasty "chaos in the Middle East by saying that 'a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa' during his administration." Which translates to genocide for them and loss of power and prestige for us.

I wonder if Obama's chaos is facilitated by the loss of attention span induced by constant hammering from the 24 hour news sickle, or by the immediacy of the internet? Obviously, if people have no memory, then there will be no recognition of the fact that Today's Truth contradicts Yesterday's Truth.

Now, how does this relate to process theology? Well, for Hartshorne, an absolutely ordered world is simply an impossibility, for the same reason a "shapeless chaos" is: "The alternative to God's existence is not an existing chaos, but rather, nothing conceivable," i.e., no information. "Apart from God," then "no world, and no state of reality, or even of unreality, could be understood."

So: not only is it impossible to comprehend Obama's chaotic pronouncements, it's not even possible to not understand them. Mission accomplished.


julie said...

So: not only is it impossible to comprehend Obama's chaotic pronouncements, it's not even possible to not understand them.

And yet there are still so many who don't see it. It's as though Obama is "speaking in tongues," and they are determined to accept it as genuine language and not pure gibberish, because they want it to be so. Also, pretending it's real and meaningful still sends a tingle up their legs...

julie said...


"Of course, I want people to have health care," Vinson said. "I just didn't realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally."

Obama creates chaos, true, but it does act as a lie in that it often serves to completely obscure meaning. The meaning never goes away, though, and even when the reality can't be seen, it can be just as painful as a trap hidden under an apparently harmless jumble of leaves...

mushroom said...

That all makes sense. In order to impose a new order, the old order has be destroyed.

The idea that Lucifer's fall initiated the chaos out of which the earth was re-created is one that Lewis explored in the Space Trilogy.

Maybe God is always doing what He did in Genesis chapter 1, pulling His order out of the satanic mess.

Magister said...

I was at Mass last night with my family and sat behind a large elderly woman in a flower print dress. The priest gave a homily about the Pope's metaphor of the Church as a field hospital on a battlefield. "We are wounded," the priest said, over and over, on this 'respect Life' Sunday. After communion, the woman was weeping. God is indeed here, pulling order/communion out of chaos, but when you see the wounds and hear the wounded, it is much harder to sit back and watch someone like Obama preach his false gospel while his minions apply the axe to the root.

"Don't listen to what they say -- watch what they *do*," says my father, and of course, he's right.

Leslie said...

Thank you.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Since about 1980 I've let That Hideous Strength be my political field guide for when things would arrive at this very place: gibberish.

Just as at Belbury, the chaos is descending and men's erratic tongues are nothing like that heavenly ecstatic language. Both happen when mortal vessels yield themselves to Whom or What they have invited.

Joan of Argghh! said...

This comment is also insightful:
"If Obama feels he cannot control you or some situation then, you and that situation (eg, the Middle East) literally cease to exist. He has no interest in whatever he cannot manipulate into his control. " Found

Gagdad Bob said...

That's Obama: solving problems that don't exist and ignoring problems that do.

James Sheives said...

Seems to me Obama,and others completely saturated into postmodern thought,live completely in the present. The past is old and unworthy of serious consideration(even yesterday), while the future is a fantasy constructed from today's talking points. Obama's (self-proclaimed) pragmatism of "doing what works" has no basis in reality, since reality is grounded in both past and future.

julie said...

Heh - not to mention, figuring out what genuinely works...

Van Harvey said...

"...whereas it is as if Obama first softens the cognitive battlefield with rhetorical cluster bombs, thus degrading the ability to think at all..."

Yep. Doubtful anyone remembers, but several years ago here, in commenting on a post, I mentioned something about how it struck me (wham!) and cleared up for me what had always previously annoyed me, when in preface to a sermon, the pastor would say something like

"...and dear God to Thee, the wise, good, true, righteous, compassionate, pure, gracious God, we render thanks and ask that you graciously afford us protection and care, and we earnestly beseech Thee evermore..." and so on.

And during this I was always thinking "ok, well at least he isn't rattling thigh bones and sprinkling pixie dust". It's only slowly dawned on me that what he is doing is erecting a scaffold of illusion, laying out a foundation in God, and a soaring structure (triangular pops into my mind, but I'm not seeing an obvious reason for that other than it well represents heirarchy) of Wisdom, Goodness, Truth and our interactive uses of them with Righteousness, Compassion, etc.

It seems to me that with that scaffold of illusion solidly in place, the speaker and the audience have a footing, a frame of reference for placing what is coming into proper place and perspective. Throughout the coming speech or activity, all involved - if they have been properly illusioned, will be 'erecting' their words and actions in line with that scaffolding, and at some point the new erec...(Glasr! Stop it!) structure will stand on its own. At that point the scaffold can be cast off, but having guided the building of the structure, it will remain in spirit and be inherent within it."

Obama is doing the complete opposite. He isn't erecting scaffolding to give place and structure to our thoughts and feelings, but is instead acting to destroy and tear them down, to... deconstruct... your ability to put what he's about to say into perspective and understanding.

Rhetorical cluster bombs. Perfectly put.