Friday, August 23, 2013

Man is a Miracle of Evolution (and Evolution is a Miracle of Man)

Humans, in the ironic words of Schuon, are condemned to transcendence, so we can't really escape it short of being comatose.

Indeed, to "escape" presupposes somewhere to escape to, and don't let anyone try to convince you it isn't possible to transcend down. Just look at the NAACP, which used to pursue clowns who slander blacks with racist bullshit, but is now reduced to slandering clowns pursued by racing bulls.

It is because there is no escape from transcendence that atheists and leftists convert their failure to transcend into a transcendent dogma for all. Nietszche, for example expresses the failure so beautifully, that it isn't difficult to appreciate the transcendent something of his prose. I don't want to say "beauty." Irony, maybe. Or sting. Or just fine insultainment.

To paraphrase someone, fascism is violent resistance to transcendence, so it necessarily devolves to power instead of truth (since truth is the Transcendental of transcendentals). This polarity -- truth/reality vs. power/ideology -- is coming up right away in Gilder's Knowledge and Power, which I can't wait to dive into more deeply (only up to page 15).

Gilder begins with an observation by Thomas Sowell, that "While market economies are often thought of as money economies, they are still more so knowledge economies.... Economic transactions are purchases and sales of knowledge."

How's that? Well, cavemen "had the same natural resources at their disposal that we have today," the difference being that we know what to do with them. So, "How could we have gone so wrong" in our thinking about the economy? Easy: "power trumps knowledge."

In short, the caveman beats the possessor of knowledge senseless and steals his property. Or else just votes for Obama. But the underlying principle is the same: power trumping knowledge.

Thus, as Gilder writes, "The war between the centrifuge of knowledge and the centripetal pull of power remains the prime conflict in all economies." By "centripetal," Gilder refers to the manner in which, in a market economy, an infinite amount of knowledge is dispersed throughout the system.

For example, as I look out my window, a gang of skilled laborers is resurfacing my pool with a colorful quartz-based substance. Later I'll be doing some of my own work here, meaning that, in the final analysis, I am exchanging my knowledge of the mind for their knowledge of swimming pools. Neither of us were forced into the exchange, and all of us will be happy with the results. Unlike, say, Obamacare, in which all are forced to participate and no one is happy.

Gilder also hints at what I'm sure will be a central theme, the manner in which knowledge enters the self-organizing system of a free economy. Clearly, it doesn't enter via braindead collectives or committees or bureaucracies. Rather, it enters via a vertical ingression into creative individuals. And in order to maximize creativity, individuals must be free. This is axiomatic.

For example, just imagine the loss of medical creativity that will be brought about by Obamacare. In point of fact, we can't imagine it (I suppose we can impotently fantasize about it), because it is unimaginable until the creative person invents or discovers it. The personal computer didn't come about because millions of people sat around thinking "gee, it sure would be great to have all human knowledge at my fingertips; or to blog -- whatever that means -- my thoughts out to the Coonosphere -- whatever that is."

Rather, creative minds had to invent the personal computer and internet, which shows how supply creates its own demand. Conversely, a caveman's demands basically revolve around bodily needs, since he can't imagine anything else. Until one of them does.

Which reminds me. Every once in awhile we'll hear the argument that, yes, the market economy was a great thing, but it has basically completed its work, and now it's time to divvy up the pie. As always, the left is not about creating wealth but distributing it, and this is just another iteration of that stale argument.

This morning, Ace Of Spades linked to this piece, which asks the questions, "What if everything we’ve come to think of as American is predicated on a freak coincidence of economic history? And what if that coincidence has run its course?" To which I might add: what if we elected a president who did everything possible to make sure it has run its course?

What a stunning lack of imagination! It reminds me of a book I read, which ironically came out on the eve of the tech revolution of the 1990s -- something about the "end of progress." It seems there's one every decade. Which proves that if the left had been successful at any point in history, progress would have been stymied then and there.

For example, FDR's deeply gnostic (in the pneumopathological sense) second bill of rights would have frozen development at 1940s levels. That is the path Great Britain took after WWII, booting out Churchill in favor of a socialist government that proceeded to nationalize most major industries. Not until Thatcher came along was the tide reversed, but I'm afraid the damage is permanent. England is no longer England.

Back to the article. The author notes the economic miracle -- and it is literally a miracle, for reasons we'll get into -- of the past 300 years:

"For all of measurable human history up until the year 1750, nothing happened that mattered. This isn’t to say history was stagnant, or that life was only grim and blank, but the well-being of average people did not perceptibly improve.... In England before the middle of the eighteenth century... the pace of progress was so slow that it took 350 years for a family to double its standard of living.... By the middle of the eighteenth century, the state of technology and the luxury and quality of life afforded the average individual were little better than they had been two millennia earlier, in ancient Rome."

Right. So at any point along the way, an individual would have been justified in saying, "look, some people have too much, while others don't have enough. Not fair. Income inequality, and all that." One such assoul was Karl Marx, who wrote his nasty diatribes right in the middle of all this unprecedented growth.

About that miracle. What is a miracle? I would suggest that a good working definition is a spontaneous vertical ingression. Gilder writes of how most economists, because they think in linear and horizontal terms, underlook "the surprises that arise from free will and human creativity. The miracles forbidden in deterministic physics are not only routine in economics; they constitute the most important economic events" (emphasis mine).

"For a miracle is simply an innovation, a sudden and bountiful addition of information into the system. Newtonian physics does not admit of new information of this kind -- desribe a system and you are done. Describe an economic system and you have described only the circumstances -- favorable or unfavorable -- for future innovation."

So, what is man but a miracle of evolution, a shocking vertical ingression of nonlocal truth and beauty into the biosphere?

Memo to leftists: there's much more to come. Unless you are successful.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

There is No God, and He is Obama

First, we bring your attention to a nice rant by Ace of Spades, which relates to all the Voegeling we've been doing around here lately:

"I have long contended that man is a fundamentally religious animal -- and I don't necessarily mean that in a good way -- and that many people who consider themselves above religion are actually quite beneath it...."

"[A]nd, rather than subscribe to a conventional religion in which their desire for transcendence can be more conventionally satisfied, instead channel their religious impulses into areas which are not by nature religious and which by nature must not be religious" (emphases mine, for these passages go to the left's ubiquitous violation of the second commandment, demonstrating that behind ideology is idolatry).

"Our politics now is simply about a god, and I mean the god Obama," AKA "the Unaccomplished One." (To which I might add that he must remain unaccomplished, on pain of becoming particularized in time and stripped of his godhead. You might say that he is our first apophatic president, in that any statement about him cannot possibly reach his transcendence, so we can only say what Obama is not -- and for many on the left, it is sufficient to say that he is not George Bush.)

"Religious hysteria does not require a god. Religious hysteria only requires Dogma & a Devil."

Quite true, and conservatives are in a position to clearly see this, since we are the Devil of the left.

In another sense, you could say that the left has no gods, only demons. The left is not even reactionary, since it never reacts to our actual beliefs, only our suspected -- actually, projected -- motives. And "Reducing another’s thought to its supposed motives prevents us from understanding it" (Don Colacho), thus sealing the left's ignorance. Project and attack, project and attack, in a closed circle. Conservatives simply serve as placemarkers in this absurcular psychodrama.

In another post, Ace says that "Conspiracy theories are the religion of the bitter. It's fundamentally a religious response to confusion, disorder, and disappointment." And since politics is about order, intrapsychic disorder engenders deformed and aberrant politics. (And then the external disorder engenders more psychic disorder, which is how the left keeps its base -- in both senses of the word -- growing.)

About the project-and-attack cycle of the left, PowerLine has a revealing piece called The Dems Rally their Legions of Haters for 2014. I know the credulous LoFos believe this stuff, but is it possible that liberal elites really believe it? I'd like to at least give them credit for being sociopathic manipulators of the LoFos, but who knows? I think Obama might be dumb enough to swallow most of it, but I find it doubtful that Bill Clinton believed his own BS.

In any event, the email demonstrates how our honest wish for clean elections is turned on its head. And no mention at all of the state's real world harassment and suppression of dissent and loyal opposition through the IRS, and the tainted electoral victory the latter helped give to President Asterisk.

Which, by the way, doesn't matter. It's like they say in the Muslim world: if it's true, it's already in the Koran, so why bother with science? Likewise, since god is already in the White House, why bother with honest elections? Either you ratify the divinity, or you're a demon whose vote shouldn't count anyway. Simple as.

Note in the example from PowerLine how the grotesque abuse of language results in the deformation of reality. It's not that words escape them. Rather, words are tortured and summarily executed.

Here is a subtle point by Voegelin, an irony worthy of Eckhart. I don't want to say it's an infallible dogma handed down from the Chair of Petey, but I think most Raccoons will relate.

That is to say, just as leftists are fundamentally religious -- or at least idolatrous -- "Every mystic is in a way 'atheist,' inasmuch as he knows there is a time when symbols" reach a kind of breaking point. For clearly, no container is remotely adequate to contain God, who is by definition uncontainable. The finite cannot circumscribe the infinite, so God is just a name for the nameless, religion a (providential) form for the formless.

I mean, right? This is why, both individually and collectively (i.e., in history), the symbols must be periodically "renewed and recast through recourse to the experiences from which they emerge." To put it in meta-symbolic terms, (n) eventually hardens into (k), at which point one must undergo -- or sopher -- new O --> (n) experiences in order to renew and refresh the exhausted or saturated religious symbology.

As it so happens, I was thinking about this on the way to work yesterday. Clearly there was a time in history when Christian symbolism wasn't remotely problematic for even -- or especially, rather -- the greatest intellects. But one has to be honest, and acknowledge that it clearly doesn't speak in the same direct way to many in the modern world.

Lileks mentioned a typical case the other day, a cranky guy who runs a tech blog but who is a wannabe metaphysician. He inflicted his Deep Thoughts about people who speak in tongues upon his unsuspecting audience of nerds, dweebs, geeks, and schmendricks:

"'We' don’t speak in tongues; religious nutjobs do, and they do it because they believe in superstitious nonsense. I’ll bet my bottom dollar that there is a high correlation between tongue-speakers and climate change deniers and creationist 'science' school curriculum pushers -- people who are doing real and genuine harm to our society and the planet."

Another fine example of the project-and-attack cycle.

I don't think I would be committing the inverse error if I attributed to this genius a radically naive and narrow understanding of science, as it necessarily parallels his n. & n. understanding of religion. As Voegelin writes, "there is nothing wrong with calling physics science, as long as one does not pretend that nothing else is science." The moment one does this, "an ideology has arisen which is called 'scientism.'" And this ideological faux religion requires demons.

Furthermore, the very symbolism of this always-intuited but never empirically provable construct called "universe" is "no more than a demythologized version of the myth of the cosmos." The experience of a cosmos is always something we subjectively participate in, and the experience is not actually containable by any symbol. In other words, you might say that the soul contain the cosmos, not vice versa.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ideological "Reality" and the Immortalizing Process

Not much time this morning. Just flipping through this volume of correspondence by Voegelin, looking for any nuggets of joy before it undergoes the transition from desk to shelf.

In particular, I was looking for a passage about the unforgivable evil of ideologues warping the minds of children -- which is what Governor Christie will be doing by signing legislation making it a crime for a psychologist to help sexually confused adolescents.

To not know that ideologues and activists have taken over the American Psychological Association -- along with most every other professional group -- is to live in a state of profound naivete. I suppose he also thinks the ACLU is full of people who just really care about the Constitution.

But if the left is really sincere in its objection to "conversion therapy," how about a law forbidding colleges from converting impressionable students into liberal ideologues?

This one's good: "[B]ankers are tough and have common sense; one can discuss with them rationally; it is not like the academic world, where opinions, if wrong, do not cost you any money, so that one can have any opinions that look pleasing."

In fact, at the epicenter of the financial meltdown of 2008 was the state forcing bankers to lend money to unqualified borrowers -- as if the state actually understands such a complex system!

But that's the essence of the problem with both government and the educational establishment, isn't it? To paraphrase Thomas Sowell, politicians are forever making decisions affecting our lives that cost them nothing if they are wrong (and often enrich them, as in the case of Clinton). Thus the built-in moral hazard of liberalism.

The purpose of life? What else could it be than to "immortalize as much as possible"?

I interpret this to mean that man lives in the vertical space between the beginning and the beyond -- or between immanence and transcendence -- and that the immortalizing process, so to speak, involves the metabolism of the latter into the former, or of eternity into time. One might say: God creates time so that time may become eternity.

What is art, for example, but the immortalization of matter, or color, or shape, or sound, or language?

If that is not what's going on down here, then I frankly don't see the point.

This would also explain why "Existences that have been abandoned by God are boring, or burlesque, or dangerous to public safety.... over time, perversity becomes stale." One can hope, anyway.

About the curiously named "progressivism" which is frozen in time when it isn't moving backward. The ideologue exits the vertical space alluded to above, which makes real growth -- which is indistinguishable from the immortalizing process -- impossible. This frequently occurs around college age. The rejection of reality naturally results in (or from, depending) a kind of anxiety, and

"from anxiety is born hatred. From such hatred then may arise an infinite variety of attempts to stop the flux of time -- childish things like the professor for whom science must stop at the point that he has reached... at the time of his Ph.D."

Speaking of Obama, the hatred of reality can result in "terrible things like the political leader who wants to freeze history at some ridiculous point of order that he has picked up somewhere in his youth."

This would explain why, for example, for the left, it is "always Selma" -- even in a high-end handbag boutique in Switzerland. Note that they don't just freeze history, but freeze a delusion about history -- like the global warmists who don't know the warming stopped seventeen years ago.

Again, it begins with an attack on language, on meaning: "an ideological language has the purpose of interrupting the contact with reality, and on the other hand, to admit as 'reality' in quotation marks only the phantasy of the ideology.... Every ideology with its apparatus of taboos is, therefore, a Newspeak in the sense of Orwell."

This distortion of language always results in the deformation of reality, for "in the beginning is the word," whether you believe that or not.

In contrast to the immortalizing process is the immanentizing process of ideologues -- the attempt to force transcendence into immanence. This can only be achieved through an "outburst of cruelty in overcoming resistance" -- a cruelty that must be permanent because the goal of the ideologue can never be reached. It's why the IRS is still harassing Tea Party groups. Why wouldn't they? They may be crazy, but they're also evil.

Thus, where the normal person in vertical space lives in loving attraction to O, the ideologue lives in a spiteful rejection of O, and cruelly takes out the hatred on others.

An Emmanuel Goldstein a day keeps the reality at bay.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Breaking News From Eternity!

I don't think I want to plunge fully back into O -- i.e., excogitate something completely new -- until the liberatoreum has been reconstituted.

I spared you all from the true extent of the horror, but every item -- I mean every last item -- had to be removed from my slacktuary so the abatement guys in hazmat suits could remove the old flooring, which apparently has an infinitesimal amount of asbestos in it. California. Bazooka vs. mosquito. 'Nuff said.

So with my environment all scrambled, it's a little like having alzheimer's, only outside my skull instead of inside.

But I always enjoy revisiting old posts, first, because they are not meant to age. In other words, nothing here is supposed to have an expiration date (except some of the gags). In fact, -- and I probably mentioned this in my very first post -- one of the original purposes -- or at least excuses -- for the blog was to bring to readers whatever it is that is the opposite of news. The "olds"? The stale? The rewordgitated?

No, these don't work, because if one thinks archetypally, the news is almost always old before it's written, just the recycling of a handful of myths and more superficial patterns. To mix a metaphor of Jim Morrison, the journalist simply takes a mask from the ancient gallery and serves it to us for breakfast. Conversely, truth is always fresh, and always provokes intrapsychic adventures beyond the subjective horizon.

I mean, c'mon. "Middle East in Chaos." No. Really? "Muslims Behaving Barbarously." You don't say. "57 Churches Burned So Far, Christians Terrorized." Breaking news from 630!

"Systemic Corruption in Clinton Foundation." What, you mean Clinton and his cronies became wealthy through philanthropy? Is there some other way for liberals to get rich?

"Obamacare in Chaos." Wait. Socialism doesn't work? I thought we won the cold war. Besides, isn't the era of big government over? I guess it depends on the meaning of isn't.

Speaking of which, I'm still waiting for George Gilder's Knowledge and Power to arrive in the mail. From the reviews, it sounds right up our alley. For example, the August 19 National Review sent a tingle up our thigh when it observed that

"it's because the authorities lack knowledge that they use power to try to impose artificial order. This ruins systems that need to adapt and change, and that need information about the real world to do so.... The imposition of control by power instead of knowledge suppresses these streams of information, and the results are not pretty, or even sane" (emphasis mine). In fact, they're pretty insane.

But for the left, politics is about power, which is why they cannot help generating chaos -- and why, conversely, the truth not only sets us free, but is obviously the prerequisite of meaningful freedom (for if there is no truth, then freedom simply equates to nihilism).

In reality, "the capitalist economy is a giant information system that provides feedback and knowledge to entrepreneurs about productive investment and creative opportunity," so "the more the government tries to fine-tune" the channels of information, "the more noise it inserts into the system."

Obamacare, for example, with its 2200 pages of "laws" is a recipe for chaos, a decimation of the order necessary to have a rationally ordered healthcare system. And I place "law" in scare quotes, since the law is whatever Obama wants it to be. Nancy Pelosi promised us that if we passed the bill, we could find out what's in it. Turns out they had to pass the bill so Obama could decide what's in it. Naked, lawless power. That's the left for you.

Yeah, yeah. Breaking news from Genesis 3.

Some people wonder why I have to mix politics and religion. This is one big reason: "In the end, the most important message carried by Knowledge and Power is that capitalism is a profoundly spiritual system. It allows and encourages people to be the best they can be, not only in serving their own interests and exercising their own talents, but in meeting the needs of others."

This dovetails nicely with a review of another book I haven't yet gotten to, Kevin Williamson's The End is Near, in the June 17 NR. The State -- as opposed to the limited government of our Founders -- is not an instrument of truth -- breaking news from 1789! -- but "an instrument of will. It seeks to tell people how to live. Worse, it uses force to do so. Worst of all, its paramount purpose is not answering the question 'What's best for the people?' -- that is at most a secondary consideration -- but 'What is good for the State?'"

And consistent with Gilder's thesis, "The problem with politics is that it does not know how to get less wrong." That wise crack should be posted above every polling booth.

For example, "Other than Social Security, there are very few 1935 vintage products still in use.... Resistance to innovation is part of the deep structure of politics. In that, it is is like any other monopoly. It never goes out of business -- despite flooding the market with dangerous and defective products, mistreating its customers," and engaging in a level of fiscal fraud that dwarfs anything in the private economy. (See Reckless Endangerment for details.)

Why the built-in, systematic stupidity? Because "The people running the State are never sufficiently willing to contemplate that they are the problem." I mean, Obama is about as likely to realize this as Paul Krugman is to seek psychiatric help.

Thus, "if a program dedicated to putting the round pegs of humanity into square holes fails, the bureaucrats running it will conclude that citizens need to be squared off long before it dawns on them that the State should stop treating people like pegs in the first place." But as always, government failure simply becomes the pretext for the next appropriation of more power. Obamacare fails? Then we need single payer!

Bottom line: "Individual liberty yields the iPhone. Politics protects the Post Office."

Huh. I guess this turned into something like a post after all.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dear Prudence, Won't You Change Your Name?

No time for a new post, and barely enough time for this repost of a post that originally appeared out of gnowhere -- which is where all the posts come from -- six years ago. Things should start settling down around here and returning to normal later in the week.

So, I'm reading a book on the virtues -- the four horizontal ones dealing with intra-mundane and intra-human relations, and the three vertical ones dealing with divine diplomacy. And I'm thinking to myself: didn't I already blog about this? And if so, is it possible that I made the subject more interesting than this guy? Because this guy is pretty boring.

Let's me find out:

Prudence is such a lousy name for the Virtue of virtues, it's no wonder no one talks about it anymore. For one thing, it's too close to "prudish," which is a great sin for those who don't believe in sin. And if we can judge by Social Security statistics on the most popular baby names, Prudence doesn't even make the top 1,000.

In contrast, Sophia -- which amounts to the same thing as prudence -- comes in at #4. And since it split the vote with Sofia, who knows, it might actually be the Cardinal Sign on girls.

Pieper deals with this linguistic obstacle at the outset, noting that the word has become too saturated and associated with such qualities as timorousness or small-mindedness.

To which I would add cautious, risk-averse, unadventurous, tentative, and possibly even "pragmatic" in that calculating and sociopathic Clintonian way. In other words, the connotations can range from wimpy, to vaguely neutral, to crassly political.

A much better word would be wisdom, in-sight, or better yet, sapientia, since the latter has a nice mystical ring to it. Furthermore, it resonates with what a human being fundamentally is, which is to say, Homo sapiens sapiens.

Nevertheless, for the purposes of this post, we'll stick with prudence, which Pieper calls "the mold and 'mother' of the other cardinal virtues, of justice, fortitude, and temperence." In other words, "since none but the prudent man can be just, brave, and temperate, and the good man is good insofar as he is prudent.... All virtue is necessarily prudent."

We must imagine a vertical hierarchy, with prudence located at the top. This is one more reason why Darwinism or any other form of materialism is so incoherent, because one simply cannot get from matter to wisdom, and it is morbidly imprudent (not so mention impudent) to think otherwise.

Rather, the world itself is an emanation -- or involution -- of its Principle, which is why reality is continuous from the top down, but discontinuous from the bottom up. Only by starting at the top does the cosmos make sense in its integral totality, which is to say, high and low, interior and exterior.

Therefore, Pieper is absolutely correct in saying that prudence "is the [vertical] cause of the other virtues' being virtues at all."

Here it might be useful to remember the wisdom books of the Bible -- which again, with a less skilled marketing department, might have been called the "prudence books." For example, Proverbs repeatedly praises the centrality of wisdom, which is at the origin of all things.

Furthermore, there are obvious parallels between wisdom and the Word, which is both alpha and omega, beginning (of creation) and end (of the human adventure). To say that "no one comes to the Father but through me," is another way of saying that no one comes to the Principle save through the eternal wisdom that is its first fruit. The two -- Reality and Wisdom -- are related as intimately as Father and Son.

Now prudence means on the one hand "the perfected ability to make right decisions" and choices. But what is this ability founded upon?

This, I think, is the key point: that we can only make right decisions if we are 1) open to reality, 2) in conformity to reality, and 3) act in a manner consistent with that conformity. Thus, for St. Thomas, truth is "nothing other than the unveiling and revelation of reality, of both of natural [i.e., horizontal] and supernatural [vertical] reality."

In short, "the pre-eminence of prudence means that realization of the good presupposes knowledge of reality" -- which explains why there is so little wisdom on the left, since they attack the very notion of objective truth, and substitute for it such retrograde idols as multiculturalism, "diversity," moral relativism, and ultimately just power, which is what the world devolves to in the absence of a truth-based human order.

To employ the symbols used in the Book of the Same Name (as the blog), we see that one of the prerequisites of prudence is (o), or "the receptiveness of the human spirit," the latter of which must be in-formed by the Real.

In other words, we must be humbly instructed by reality, or we will surely sooner or later be righteously bitch-slapped by her. As well we should. Mama don't play!

Furthermore, (---) comes into use as well, for as Pieper notes, prudent cognition "includes above all the ability to be still in order to attain objective perception of reality."

Elsewhere he writes of cultivating "the attitude of 'silent' contemplation of reality: this is the key prerequisite for the perfection of prudence as cognition," since it is what makes (↓) possible, the "ingression of grace," or of vertical murmurandoms.

To put it bluntly: sit down, shut up, and know that I AM.

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