Wednesday, December 31, 2014

That's Innerattainment!

I can only think so clearly with this cold, but I believe I mentioned about a week ago that some of the most revolutionary blessings of Christianity are no longer seen or appreciated -- by the tenured rabble anyway -- because they have become second nature to us.

But it's not a case of second nature, rather, trans-nature -- "first supernature," or something. But since the radical enlightenment, thinkers of the left have been telling each other that these blessings represent a dramatic moving away from Christianity, rather than a prolongation of its original revolution (by far the most consequential revolution in human history).

Let us count some of these blessings. "By taking individual responsibility so seriously, the ideas of moral equality and limited government became closely associated. Outward conformity of behavior was all that had been expected in the ancient family and polis" (Siedentop).

Even prior to this, "Paul's vision on the road to Damascus amounted to the discovery of human freedom -- of moral agency potentially available to each and everyone, that is, to individuals. This 'universal' freedom, with its moral implications, was utterly different from the freedom enjoyed by the privileged class of citizens in the polis" (ibid.).

For this birth of a new freedom liberates us from inherited social hierarchies and from fate more generally, making us brotherly heirs of the one father. Fate is gradually displaced by hope and destiny -- in other words, the future becomes "open," and we have a hand in shaping it and ourselves.

Afterwards, the Christian monastic movement provided a kind of living laboratory, featuring "a vision of social order founded on conscience, on hard-won individual intentions rather than publicly enforced status differences" (ibid.).

Clearly, in order to be capable of self-rule, man had to first become capable of ruling himself, something the left always forgets. For what is the left but a two-tiered system of acquiring political power, with a 1% or 2% of elites and cronies at the top, and beneath them an ungovernable constituency of impulsive, irrational, frustration-intolerant, pleasure driven half-animals with short time-horizons and a long list of resentments. The liberal politician sells them dependency in exchange for votes, which puts in place an incentive structure that is bound to produce more of these wretched slaves.

But in order for a genuine liberal order to emerge, there must first be "obedience to rules that an individual's conscience" imposes "on itself." The left puts the cart before the horse, and imposes no prior demand of self-rule. This is why the left crowns Al Sharpton a "black leader," instead of, say, David Clarke (did someone say man crush?).

For most of history, man has been forced to obey external authority only. What does it mean to obey an "interior" authority, and what is the nature of this authority? Who or what authorizes it? In the pre-Christian world -- the world in which Christ was inserted -- "There was no notion of the rights of individuals against the claims of the city and its gods. There was no formal liberty of thought or action.... Citizens belonged to the city, body and soul" (ibid.).

Here again, this is where the enlightenment thinkers got it all wrong, because they simply made up a connection between modernity and antiquity, and invented the term "dark ages" to signify a few centuries-long discontinuity in their fractured fairy tale.

But "the liberty of the ancient citizen" was nothing like our idea of freedom. As Siedentop says, it was not a God-given space of personal freedom, but the duty of a few privileged citizens to participate in the political process. It was much more like the modern left than the classical liberalism of our founders.

Another blessing of Christianity is its universality and its abstraction. For example, if you and I have the same intrinsic rights as any caesar or prince or president, this unleashes "a process of abstraction which could and did threaten inherited inequalities" (ibid.). The idea that "all men are created equal" is both highly abstract and ineluctably universal.

I think where the left errs is in regarding these as concrete and particular, with the result that they end up with the insistence upon special (not universal) rights in order to bring about equal outcomes (in other words, for them equality is not antecedent but consequent; for similar reasons it is material rather than spiritual, which constitutes a cosmic heresy of the first rank, for a man with no spirit has no proper use for freedom).

The inner attainment of abstraction and universality alluded to above lead directly to the "rule of law," as "the logos which had been embodied in the city and its laws began to make way for a logos embodied in a universal rational order, in what would be called 'natural law'" (ibid.).

It seems to me that man had to first clear the historical space of all those concrete projected gods -- e.g., Zeus, Neptune, Aphrodite, and all the rest -- in order for the abstract logos to concretely incarnate. In order to get God into the world, you first have to get all these manmade gods out of the world, so they won't be confused.

Here again the centrality of the Jews and of the commandment against idolatry. Why is idolatry an intrinsic cosmic heresy? Because it begins with concretion instead of ending there. The Jewish God could not be so easily "pinned down." For I AM, or I-will-be-who-I-will-be, are prior to the world, and only later in the world.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Boldly Growing Where No Man Has Grown Before

In recent years, whenever I get a cold, there's only one really bad night. Apparently last night was it, because I feel like I didn't sleep at all.

However, at the moment I don't feel as bad as you might expect, so put away your violins. Besides, timelessness waits for no one, so I'm going to try to put my hand to the digital plow and not look back at my troubled night sea journey. Perhaps being sick will even plunge me into some strange new worlds.

Yesterday we were discussing Augustine's Confessions, which are a "manifesto of the inner world," the latter being the real final frontier. His was the first true autobiography, boldly going where no man had gone before and chronicling the interior voyages of the soul-ship Introspect (ouch! I blame the cold medicine). In so doing, Augustine not only explored strange new worlds, but spoke of a new life (in God) and a new civilization (the City of God).

This, I think, is a key point: that the Confessions are a dialogue with God. Thus, the invention of the individual is not, and could not be, "an exercise leading to isolation."

Rather, to the extent that it does lead to isolation, then something has gone awry: your psycho-pneumatic system is not open, either vertically or horizontally (or both). Isolation, among other things, is a failure of love, and if God is love, then there you go.

To put it another way, in order to invent the individual, it is first necessary to invent the group. In terms of the overall arc of salvation, the Jews constituted the group into which God could insert himself as quintessential individual. Jesus would have made no sense in any other context (and he sometimes barely made sense in this one, even to his closest disciples).

Imagine if God were a mere "one," an absolute monad, unrelated to anything but himself. If this God were to incarnate, it would be in the form of power, or a kind of isolated exaltation. No one could compare to him, in contrast to Jesus, to whom all may compare themselves (e.g., "the imitation of Christ"), and indeed is the eternal standard of comparison.

Now, in many ways, to say individual is to say will. In other words, our individuality manifests in the form of consciousness of choice, and by extension, of necessity. To be aware of necessity is to implicitly know freedom, and vice versa. According to Siedentop, what we value as freedom is the end result of hundreds of years of meditation on, and articulation of, (Judeo-) Christian moral intuitions.

For example, to be given the Ten Commandments implies the freedom to obey them or not. On the one hand they represent constraints on freedom, but this is for the purpose of conforming ourselves to a higher will in a higher world.

Analogously, you don't place a fish on dry land and say to him: "there you go, free at last from the water!" The Law is like the water that simultaneously constrains and frees us.

For Augustine, it's all about "transformation of the will." Think, for example, of what happens when the will infects the truth. What happens is the left, or knowledge piggybacking on desire, belief on make-belief, Is on Ought. The leftist ultimately sees what he wishes to see, which is like a bad parody of the Higher Eccentricity of the Raccoon. Leftists are weird, but not in the Good way.

Not to imply any manichee business, but it seems to me that, as the intellect may conform itself to truth or falsehood, the will may move toward the light or the dark. As one apostle put it, the light shines in the darkness but the darkness does not comprehend it.

This is the same Light "which gives light to every man who comes into the world." Every one. Not just kings, or aristocrats, or priests, or men, but every person qua person. This itself implies individuality and equality. We may all seek redemption because we have all equally fallen short as a result of our misguided will.

You could say that light and dark are like two attractors at antipodes to one another. As Augustine is pulled into the former, "You fill me with a feeling quite unlike my normal state, an inward sense of delight." But when in the orbit of the latter, the "heavy burden of distress drags me back: I am sucked back to my habits, and find myself held fast."

In order to pull out of the downworld attractor, the will is necessary but not sufficient. Rather, our will must be aligned with a greater will. This is very much in contrast to the Greek idea that the exercise of mere reason is sufficient to do the job.

Socrates-Plato said something to the effect that a good man, guided by reason, could do no wrong. This is definitely not what Paul or Augustine taught, because man can rationalize just about any mess produced by his wayward will. Or maybe you've never heard Obama speak.

The Neoplatonists of the time imagined they could deploy the will to escape or ascend from this "inferior material world."

But for Augustine, "Christians neither could nor should turn their backs on the world." True, we are aliens in this strange land, but resident aliens; Augustine teaches us to be "otherworldly in the world," unlike, say, Muslims, who hope to be worldly in the higher world, or leftists, who are worldly in the lower world.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Proof of God Discovered in the Last Place Man Searched

We have a bit of a cold, which always increases the brain congestion, or at least dampens those unfolding enveloping missiles of glistening shadowy flow above the head. After all, it's hard enough to answer future's riddle when one's melon is seeming so far behind, let alone sew up the wounds of evolution and climb up to reality's goal. But we'll try, dammit. At least we'll try.

I have read in a number of places that Augustine's Confessions is the first true autobiography, the first example of an unstinting exploration of the human interior -- not in a generic or self-serving sense, but in an intimate, critical, and confessional sense.

Note also that the dialogue is between Augustine and God; it takes place in the vertical space illuminated by the divine presence. It is not about exterior reality except insofar as it reveals the interior.

Siedentop quotes the historian Peter Brown, who observes that "The Confessions are a manifesto of the inner world: 'Men go to gape at mountain peaks, at the boundless tides of the sea, the broad sweep of rivers, the encircling ocean and the motions of stars: and yet they leave themselves unnoticed; they do not marvel at themselves.'"

Yeah, well, what about Obama? Does he ever stop marveling at himself? You see, children, that is the problem: he has the marveling down, but he is both marveler and marvelee. In other words, he excludes the Creator from the loop, which reduces to simple narcissism.

Brown continues: "A man cannot hope to find God unless he first finds himself: for this God is 'deeper than my inmost being,' [so] experience of Him becomes 'better' the more 'inward.' Above all, it is man's tragedy that he should be driven to flee 'outwards,' to lose touch with himself, to 'wander far' from his 'own heart': 'You were right before me: but I had moved away from myself. I could not find myself: how much less, then could I find You'" (he's obviously quoting Augustine in there).

Ironically, Obama made his name by [allegedly] writing his own Confessions. But although both go by the name "autobiography," it would be difficult to find two more antithetical texts. After all, Mein Kampf is an autobiography. Taking that as an extreme case, does it really tell us about Hitler, or about his pathological projections into the world?

In other words, any actual insight into Hitler himself is accidental. Being that he lacked all insight, the only way to understand him is via his external actions. What he says about himself is of no consequence, since he would be the last to understand his own real motives, which were as concrete and unexamined as rock.

Here is the orthoparadoxical deal: is it possible for man to discover and know God? Yes and no. Even prior to that, is it possible for man to discover and know anything? Yes, so long as he has the sensory equipment for the job, and his mind is able to conform to the object or reality in question.

In other words, we must make ourselves adequate to the object of knowledge. So in one sense "the world" is prior, and we must adapt to it. But in another sense, world and mind co-arise; as our knowledge increases, it is as if the mind extends deeper into reality, as, say, quantum physics goes further than classical physics.

I would say that it is no different with regard to God. Analogously, the quantum world was always "there" even before man ever discovered it. Likewise, God was always there prior to the appearance of man, of life, or even of existence itself. But in order to know this God, there must be a subject capable of knowing him. Therefore, one could say that God and man "co-arise" and "co-evolve," so to speak -- even though, like the world, God is obviously prior to our discovery and elaboration of him.

When did man discover God? In one sense this is impossible to say, since it occurred long prior to any form of written documentation. But in another sense it can only have occurred in one way, since man and God not only co-arise, but are two sides of the same coin. To say that man is the image and likeness of God is to posit this axiom. As man learns more about himself, he learns more of God; and as he learns more about God, he learns more about himself, in an ever-deepening spiral of interiority.

Siedentop: "The Confessions provide us with a story, not primarily about the development of Augustine's mind, but rather about the development of his 'heart' or 'feelings.' The search for God proves to be a search for the only 'delight' that is not precarious or illusory."

This search involves "a mysterious merger of intellect and feeling," and is very much counter to the then-prevailing idea that reason alone is sufficient to understand the world. Reason is ultimately a circular exercise, since it cannot furnish its own premises, nor does it have the power to motivate man.

Rather, motivation -- the will -- must involve the heart. Thus, "Opening oneself to the action of grace" is "the only way out of such a vicious circle." This opening is not only intersubjective, but the very foundation and possibility of intersubjectivity itself. It is an icon of the primordial Relationship that is God.

"Reconstructing the self -- by opening the self to the work of grace -- led Augustine to focus on the human will and on the conditions of its exercise." There is "almost incredible self-consciousness in his writing," which is precisely why so many have attributed "the birth of the individual to Augustine."

For just as history, in the absence of God, can be nothing more than the meaningless sound and fury of tenured tautologues, the absurcular babble of the godless rabble is just the mental masturbation of so many infertile eggheads -- heads which must be fertilized from above in order to bear good fruit...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Everything Must Go

I apologize in advance for this disjointed offering.

I hope everyone is having a fine Boxing Day. In my case, in the course of moving some boxes from the garage back to the slackatoreum, I discovered a cache of early church documents. I wonder what's in them? The oldest ones seem to go back about thirty years. Will they prove embarrassing to the Lodge? Do they fill in some of the gaps in our sometimes frankly mythological understanding of Raccoon history? More importantly, wouldn't it be nice to extract any worthwhile nuggets, so I can toss this dusty pile into the recycling?

There is way too much for a single post, unless I exercise the strictest self-indulgence.

Now, this is a little weird, because a loose page on top of the pile speaks to our recent discussion of what happens when inside and outside are conflated. It is undated, but I'm pretty sure it's from the '80s (more often than not the notes are incomplete sentences, but the meaning is clear): "Apparatus for perception is split into minute fragments and expelled -- leaves him in a state which is neither alive nor dead."

This is a key principle, because when a person conflates inside and outside, perception obviously becomes distorted. It is more like apperception, whereby the person makes "sense of an idea by assimilating it to the body of ideas he or she already possesses." We all do this to a certain extent, but the pathological version is characterized more by a forced expulsion of the unwanted psychic fragments into the outer world, which then causes the person to feel persecuted by them:

"Perception becomes impossible -- imprisoned by menacing presence of expelled fragments [which] lead independent and uncontrolled existence outside him."

Then what? "Each particle is contained by or engulfs a real external object." It is as if the mental process is reversed, and instead of objects becoming ideas, ideas become external objects. The nicest thing we can say about it is that inductive reasoning is rendered impossible, because the person will generalize from his own systematic misperceptions.

So, I think we can toss that page in the trash. Only about a thousand more to go.

This is from a paper I seem to have written around the same time, with a real typewriter. It shows how some people never change: "As opposed to the horizontal accumulation of unconnected facts taking place in time -- something which western science does par excellence -- this is a vertical process, a way of connecting ourselves with the primordial reality that is now." However, it would take many years for Bob to explain how such diffuse pneumababble is any different from merely deepaking the chopra.

Here is another one that goes back to our current subject: "It is possible to be in a language, but for the language to not be connected to reality." Or, in a word, tenure. So "Be quiet! God is not done talking!"

The "first human crisis is consciousness itself; the next crisis is leisure, prosperity, affluence..." I still think this is true: that human beings are still adapting to this new and strange state of being self-conscious, and that when people have affluence and leisure -- AKA slack -- they don't generally know what to do with it. Often they find that the space is populated by persecutory mind parasites, which I think is largely what animates the left. I mean, when you're reduced to scanning the world in search of microaggressions, that is a hint that you have no real problems -- or that you are projecting your internal persecutors into the world as a way to manage and cope with them.

Here are some notes concerning theoretical biologist Robert Rosen: "Organisms are not a special case but an indication that the laws of physics are profoundly incomplete. The universe described by these laws is an extremely impoverished one in which life cannot exist."

Or in other words, there is no way with the existing laws of physics to get to biology: "biology is unreachable by physics," so we end up "looking at a universe in which we cannot exist." D'oh! Physics is a necessary but not sufficient cause of life. The sufficient cause is vertical.

"Where does the genotype end and the phenotype begin?" ("An organism's genotype is the set of genes that it carries. An organism’s phenotype is all of its observable characteristics...") Now, all the characteristics that define us as truly human are phenotypic. A merely genetic human would not really be human at all, because, among other reasons, humanness is intrinsically relational, or takes place in a phenotypic space between genotypes. To put it crudely.

"Our model is not identical to the thing modeled." If we forget this, we may "create worlds with no external referent." This is a more subtle instance of the more primitive apperception alluded to above, because everything outside the model is subsumed into it. Like Marxism, for example. What is Marxism -- or leftism in general -- but an all-encompassing way to misperceive and misunderstand human nature and the world more generally?

Some things cannot be simulated -- economies, for example. Or human minds. Of course, we can reduce anything to number. But there are some things that, if reduced to number, are denuded of meaning. For example, you could say that a human being is 97% water, or $3.52 worth of minerals, or a member of the 99%, but this tells us less than nothing, because it obliterates the deeper and higher truth.

In short, "The physics of color can be just as well understood by the color blind." Indeed, even Stevie Wonder knows that leaves are green / They only change to brown when autumn comes around. The question is, could a place like this exist so beautiful / Or do we have to find our wings and fly away / To the vision in our mind?. Yes. The latter, so long as it is connected to reality.

Rosen felt that biology needed to readmit teleology if it was to provide an intelligible basis for life: "final causation is simply describing something in terms of what it entails rather than exclusively what entails it."

This is especially relevant for human beings, who are able to consciously initiate causes. In other words, we are not merely caused, but cause -- a truth which Marxism again denies, since it says that we are essentially the consequence of our class. We are materially determined, and have no soul-essence that may freely determine our future. Or else!

"Is time the process of pulling the objective into the subjective?" I would say so. In other words, of we go back, say, 4 billion years ago, there is only an "objective" world, since there are not yet any subjects in it, no points of view (we will exclude God from this discussion). The first itsy bitsy teensy weensy bit of matter that wrapped around itself and decided to go on being is like a huge tear in the fabric of objectivity. Suddenly there is a hole in the cosmos -- the very rabbit hole through which life jumps in.

Cosmic evolution blah blah yada yada, what is human knowledge but the interiorization of the exterior, or a pulling of the object(ive) into the subject?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

And the Insane Word Became Flesh: Islamic Rage, Macroaggressive Feminists, and Racist Hallucinations

To post or not to post... We'll give it a shot. Yesterday we were discussing the historically gradual separation of interior from exterior, or subject from object, or psyche from environment. Of course, this first required the discovery of the interior, which is another way of saying the invention of the individual.

Importantly, this is both discovery and invention; like any new land, we cannot discover it without simultaneously changing it, at least if we are going to actually live there. And once there, it is hard to revert to the state of pre-discovery and put the truthpaste back in the tube. In other words, it is very difficult for us to know what it was like to be a pre-individual hive-person. Unless you've been to graduate school, in which case you might have a feel for it.

And yet, we do see reversion to pre-individual ways of being, for example, in the liberal mob. A liberal by definition rejects or falls short of his concrete individuality and instead identifies with an abstract group of some type, usually a persecuted one. But the persecution, at least in America, is usually a projection of the interior into the exterior.

If this were not the case, then, say, Thomas Sowell (and other black thinkers such as Jason Riley) would be as freaked out about our omnipresent racism as Obama, Sharpton, Holder, and the rest of the left wing rabble. But he's not at all freaked out about it. Rather, like any sane individual -- or, let's just say individual -- he is concerned about the bill coming due on the left's flagrantly irresponsible use of the race card to purchase power.

Let's put it this way: if you believe, as does Obama's spiritual mentor, that America should be damned, then these murdered police officers are just more chickens come home to roost. It's the price of progress.

As Sowell writes, "No politician in the country has done more [than deBlasio] to play the race card against the police and spread the notion that cops are the big problem in minority communities." This is what happens -- and perhaps should happen -- if the black community is really a "'colonial' society being 'occupied' by white policemen who target young blacks." If you were in that situation, wouldn't you lash out violently?

So, as I said yesterday, this separation of inside from outside is very much an ongoing struggle, for some populations much more so than others.


Consider the Eleven Most Politically Correct Moments on College Campuses in 2014. Let's look at the first: "microaggressions." What is a microaggression? As they candidly acknowledge, it has no objective definition, since there is no such thing as truth anyway ("there are no objective definitions to words and phrases").

Therefore, a microaggression is anything that offends a liberal for any reason at any time. Follow this insane logic to its ultimate end, and feelings become the only arbiter of reality. From here it is but a step to totalitarianism, which differs from mere tyranny, in that the latter doesn't care what you think, only what you do. But the leftist totalitarian cannot tolerate deviant thoughts, and tries to exert control over interiors.

So, if you find yourself being accused of microaggression, you really need to ramp it up and be more aggressive. And if you're not accused of microaggression, you need to grow a pair and start offending these victim-bullies.

Look at #2: feminists are somehow upset that someone invented a nail polish that changes colors when it comes into contact with the so-called date-rape drug. That's a good thing, isn't it? NO! "I don’t want to fucking test my drink when I’m at the bar... That’s not the world I want to live in.” The latter part is the operative principle of the left: That’s not the world I want to live in! And You'd better conform yourself to mine, or else!

Yes, but... this is the only world there is.

Not true. As we have discussed in the past, just as, in terms of economic development, there is the first world, second world, third world, etc., there are various psychic worlds inhabited by different populations. Al Sharpton's world is not our world, because, among other reasons, his is a demon-haunted world peopled by projections of his own sociopathy. Does it surprise you that a sociopath should see sociopathy everywhere, or that envious people see greed everywhere, or that racists see race everywhere? Then you are not Raccoon material.

#3: promoting anti-rape culture is just another form of rape-culture, since men shouldn't have to be told to respect women. Feminism is sort of like the Wife From Hell, only in collective form, isn't it?

First of all, these women don't even want to be respected as women, because they have rejected their own femininity (which is a big reason why the men around them behave the way the do; if you think men are hateful, don't be surprise if your world is peopled by hateful men, as per the above). Happy Acres Guy's hypothesis is correct, that "we are treating women like men, and they are screaming for help."

Such ovary tower feminists are desperately in need of a strong and virtuous man to put them (meaning the sick part that is screaming for help) in their place. Short of that, there is no cure for their female psychosis. Healthy females know exactly what I'm talking about, and won't perceive any aggression whatsoever in this observation (except perhaps in the way that spiritual combat must be "aggressive," or at least firm, in the face of hysteria).

Rather, they will say to themselves, there but for the grace of God... -- just as I say the same thing in contemplating who I might have been in the absence of my wife. The spiritual transformation is mutual because the sexes are complementary. It's why we have them instead of "genders," which are to sex what the constitution is to liberals: anything you want them to be. You're freeeeee, like a fish liberated from the water.

It also occurs to me that "angry feminist" is a pleonasm, like a Palestinian "day of rage." What is the difference between a day of rage and any other day? A run on rocks, I guess.

Speaking of our Muslim friends, my attention was also arrested by this interview with a member of the Islamic State. They too project their interior into the exterior, which is the sole source of their motivation. In other words, if they were to withdraw their psychic projections, they would have absolutely nothing to do but sit in the sand all day and contemplate the pathetic state of the Islamic world. But by projecting this into the west and attacking it, it converts weakness into strength, and every day can be a bracing new day of rage.

You know what they say: all peace and no rage makes jihadi a dull goy.

The projection obviously feels quite real, hardly different from a hallucination: "there were 50 new fighters who came every day.... And I just could not believe the glow in their eyes. They felt like they were coming to a promised land, like they were fighting for the right thing."

Thus, there are real physiological changes that take place with the new reality, surges of adrenaline, testosterone, dopamine, serotonin, and other vivifying and self-rewarding hormones and neurotransmitters. The fantasy becomes even more real in this way, as the insane word takes on flesh.

As with the left, regress equals progress, since they live in an inverted world: "Slavery absolutely signals progress.... I would say that slavery is a great help to us and we will continue to have slavery and beheadings, it is part of our religion."

Multiculturalism. Isn't it beautiful?

Memo to feminists: this is what rape culture actually looks like:

"[C]apturing women is permissible if they are nonbelievers." If the slave is "a virgin, he [the owner] can have intercourse with her immediately after the ownership is fulfilled." However, "If she was not a virgin, her uterus must be purified." (Don't ask.)

What about underage girls? Please. These are not barbarians. There are strict and even convenient rules of engagement: "It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn't reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse.... However, if she is not fit for intercourse, he [the owner] can only enjoy her without intercourse."

I will just conclude by emphasizing that all of this has very much to do with the holiday we celebrate tomorrow, only in the manner of a pneumagraphic negative. Which we will further discuss as this series of posts spins out.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Stop Contaminating Our Outside with Your Inside!

One thing that comes through in Inventing the Individual is the gradual historical differentiation of various spheres, powers, and concepts that had previously been merged. Most of these are things we take for granted, because they seem so fundamental to our experience, for example, the notion of a private self.

In a way, it is analogous to biological development, which is teleologically drawn toward differentiation and specialization. Think of how we all transition from zygote to blastocyst to fetus, as cells slowly differentiate into specific organ systems. Well, it is the same way with human development, both individually and collectively.

Most of the sciences were once fused with what we now know of as mythological approaches; for example, astronomy emerged from astrology, chemistry from alchemy, and meteorology from primitive superstitions about manmade climate change.

Let me see if I can compile a list of the differentiations brought about by Christianity: private from public self; inner from outer; individual from family; person from state; woman from man; child from father; law from custom; voluntary from compulsory; science from magic; and more.

One of the most critical of these is the gradual differentiation of inside from outside, which is most definitely ongoing. For example, mental illness almost always involves some conflation of inner and outer. Take a person with agoraphobia, i.e., fear of leaving the house. The fear is real, but what is she actually afraid of? The outside, or her own inside projected outward?

Sometimes entire political movements can be rooted in this atavism, for example, oh, THE WHOLE FREAKING DEMOCRATIC PARTY! The list is endless. For example, feminists tell us that there is a one in five chance of getting raped in college, whereas FBI statistics say that it is actually about a .06 chance. So feminist paranoiacs multiply the threat by a factor of (math is hard). But whatever the factor, it is not a factor of external reality, but of internal reality projected into fearsome men. Which I find fascinating.

Or, the left's complaints about the so-called 1%. This generous 1% pays 40% of the income tax. The 3% pays over half, and the 10% pays 71% to subsidize your lifestyle of being a professional complainer, since your half only accounts for 3% of federal revenues.

Likewise, are blacks really unfairly targeted by police? The short answer is of course no. Not only that, but both blacks and whites are in reality unfairly targeted by black criminals. The latter is the objective, verifiable truth, whereas the liberal belief is again a projection of the interior into the exterior. Which we wouldn't mind if they didn't proceed to act on the belief, as did the recent police assassin.

Do women really earn 77 cents on the manly dollar? No, of course not. That's just economics being infected by mind parasites. Do 97% of scientists believe in AGW? No, again, that's just some kind of projection of superego authority into omniscient science.

A critical point is that science only became possible with this withdrawal of psychic projections from the external world (I have posted on this subject a number of times, plus it's covered in the book). Siedentop only touches on this, but it's nice to have a little scholarly back-up for the common-sense revelations given to me by Petey.

Abelard reminds us that Christ said I am truth, not I am custom, or opinion, or political correctness. Which is why I believe that any truth is a function of the All-True, and why I have no concern that any new truth could possibly undermine the One Truth. Rather, it's all Good. Literally, because the Good and True converge in the Beautiful Three.

One of the problems of ancient thought is that it was too rooted in deduction from a priori principles (speaking of Schuon in yesterpost's comments, he sometimes makes this error). Conversely, it distrusted the empirical world as an ever-changing illusion, so it was very weak on induction. Thus, the development of science was hindered by Aristotelean assumptions such as the belief that the celestial sphere must operate on different laws than the terrestrial, or that things "seek" their home instead of being pulled there by gravity.

"The Christian preoccupation with 'innerness' and human agency -- an intensified awareness of the difference between 'inner' and 'outer' experience, between the will and the senses -- contributed to a veritable outburst of logical studies in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries" (Siedentop).

Note that this is prior to the scientific revolution that it rendered possible, for "It reflected a growing distrust of the coercive potential" of extra-mental "general terms or concepts." In other words, it was necessary to stop projecting these concepts into the world, and actually examine the world without preconceptions.

One of the preconceptions that had to be eliminated was teleology. But then science become re-conflated with a new conceptual abstraction that literally banished teleology, instead of simply excluding it for the sake of scientific method. As we will see, there are many Christian ideas that became detached from Christianity and then re-united with a more primitive reality.

One of the biggies is liberty. The very same liberty that was only made possible and intelligible via Christianity has been hijacked by the left and rendered absurd and destructive. With Christianity, individual and collective are irreducible complementarities, I would say due to the trinitarian structure of reality. But the left posits a radically detached individualistic interiority and fuses it with the exterior collective of the coercive state, in a wholly unholy alliance.

Too much time on comments to yesterday's post, so this one is over.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Liberal is Like a Christian, Only Worse

This subject of Inventing the Individual is too large for me to get my mind around. Normally, when I write, I like to do so from the center out. In this case, I need to start from the outside in. I have to pick a random spot at the periphery and try to start boring in from there. In so doing, maybe I'll even find the center -- the attractor -- at which point this rambly stream of consciousness will become more orderly. Don't count on it.

Perhaps I should begin with the idea that Christianity is the most important revolution in human history, and that Paul is its most important revolutionary. This is a consistent subtext of the book -- that Christianity initiated a turn in history that is still very much in progress (indeed it is progress). In Raccoon parlance, I would say that it is an extension the previous cosmic revolutions of existence, life, and mind, for it is the vertical prolongation of mind into spirit and God.

Which leads to one of my own conclusions, that some of the most important blessings Christ brought into the world are unappreciated and even unseen because they are so ubiquitous. So much of the context of our (western) world was only made possible by Christianity, and yet, because it is in the background, we don't notice it. One of these, of course, is "the individual." But with the individual comes freedom, equality, rights, dignity, consent to rule, civil society, the marketplace, and on and on.

Another critical point is that these blessings were and are very slow to come into being. It is not as if they occurred overnight; although the yeast came into the world some 2000 years ago, the bread is still rising.

Thus, it has been a gradual process of applying the moral intuitions and insights provoked by the Christian -- especially Pauline -- message. For when Paul says that in Christ there is neither slave nor free, nor male or female, this is every bit as world-shattering as contemporary revolutionaries who insist, say, that in leftism sex is just a human construct, so if you're a man you can shower in the girls locker room if you like.

In fact -- strange as it seems -- this left wing perversion of Christianity is unthinkable in the absence of Christianity, because it is just an inversion and prolongation of its egalitarian message. It has been clear to me for a long time that leftist moral appeals are rooted in a perversion of Christianity, but this book provides the full story (even if unwittingly) of how this came about.

For example, the last four months of police-bashing by the left would have no traction at all if it didn't appeal to some distorted sense of Christian morality. For if police are racists for whom it is open season on blacks, then it is as moral to kill them as it would have been for Jews to kill Nazis. A Marxist such as deBlasio is like a Christian, only worse (but from his perspective, better). Ideas and rhetoric have consequences.

Jimmy Carter too is like a Christian, only worse. Sultan Knish: "Carter couldn’t save the Soviet Union, but he did his best to save Castro, visiting Fidel and Raul in Cuba where the second worst president in American history described his meeting with Castro as a greeting among 'old friends.'” In turn, "Raul Castro called Carter 'the best of all U.S. presidents.'"

Castro is a revolutionary, as is Obama. In fact, Obama is our first revolutionary president, the first president who has overtly attempted to undo our original revolution, which was really the political application of the Pauline revolution (although I suppose that Wilson was a pre-Obama). Siedentop asks the question, "Was Paul the greatest revolutionary in human history?" You could say that the book is one extended and thoroughly documented Yes.

"Through its emphasis on human equality, the New Testament stands out against the primary thrust of the ancient world, with its dominant assumption of 'natural' inequality. Indeed, the atmosphere of the New Testament is one of exhilarating detachment from the unthinking constraints of inherited social roles. Hence Paul's frequent references to 'Christian liberty'" (emphasis mine).

This essential liberty is prior to our existence, and is the ground of being: it is "pre-social," and comes "to serve as a criterion of legitimate social organization." Therefore, anything that attacks or undermines it becomes false by logical entailment. If liberty is axiomatic, it is like dynamite at the foundation of tyranny, oppression, inherited privilege, etc. It may take centuries to blow apart the structure of lies, but blow it will. For "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

Beneath this cosmic subversion is "the invention of the individual, the introduction of a primary social role" which begins "to undercut the radical differences of status and treatment" of existing societies. This revolution "sent Europe along a road which no human society had previously followed," for from the perspective of the old orders, this dangerous message of liberty would have been regarded as the essence of dis-order and societal chaos. Which it still is by the left, hence their attempt to re-exert control from the top-down.

But once the ball began rolling and the yeast rising, it was very difficult to arrest. "Under way was nothing less than a reconstruction of the self, along lines more consistent with Christian moral intuitions." For if Christ is truth, then those many pretenders to truth are rendered transparently false. Every emperor is suddenly seen as more or less naked (an insight which, ironically, eventually came back to bite the church). Along these lines, Siedentop quotes the historian Guizot:

"With the church originated a great fact, the separation of spiritual and temporal power. This separation is the source of liberty and conscience," for it "is based upon the idea that physical force has neither right nor influence over souls, over conviction, over truth. It flows from the distinction established between the world of thought and the world of action, between the world of the internal and that of external facts."

Which leads to one of our most cherished pet ideas, that the leading edge of cosmic evolution is into and over this subjective horizon, into the cosmic interior. Among other things, Christ shows us the way into this interior, or rather, he is the interior made exterior, or word made flesh.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Premodern and Postmodern: Extremists Meet

We are discussing the Invention of the Individual, which, like most of the best things in life, could not have been invented by man. As we know, the best things in life are free; but the individual is free in another sense, being that it is the basis of what we call "freedom."

Obviously, freedom makes no sense in a pre-individual context, because the very essence of freedom is personal agency. And personal agency is a quintessential example of what Whitehead was saying yesterday about fundamental assumptions that are unconsciously presupposed by everybody. Therefore, no one thinks about it. It's just part of the human package, like hands, eyes, and brain.

But the human individual is not an artifact of our biological hardware. At best, we can say that our genetic endowment permits it, but it most certainly cannot cause it.

We can know this with certainty because for most of human history and for all of human prehistory (which is by far the larger period of time) there were no individuals, only groups.

Now, we are all members of various groups -- family, workplace, country, etc. However, it is difficult for us to experience this in the same lucid way as our individuality. This is because our individuality is explicit, whereas our group identification has become more implicit, more of a background phenomenon. It is the context of our individuality.

What we need to do -- which I think is almost impossible -- is to imagine what it would be like to have no individual awareness (or a very attenuated version of it), and imagine the group identity as being primary, or at the forefront of consciousness.

No coon do. As it so happens, the other day I evaluated a person who had served as an interpreter and cultural liaison for our military in Iraq (he was severely injured in a terrorist blast). He was there to help our military avoid cultural "misunderstandings," but it really goes deeper than that.

To translate mere language is essentially a horizontal affair: I say beer, you say cerveza. But if you are Muslim, you might say kill the grog-swilling infidel!

The problem with cross-cultural contact is that it is not necessarily a horizontal translation. Although we are no longer permitted by the left to think in these terms, there is a vertical component as well.

To a certain extent we may understand lower cultures, but they have no way of knowing about the higher, since they've never been there. It is like trying to explain color to a blind man.

This is why multiculturalism is such a fraud. Someone like me, who is truly curious about other cultures, is called "racist" for being so. Thus, when a liberal wants to have a "conversation about race," it is like when a Muslim wants to have a conversation about your religion while staring uncomfortably at your neck.

I once read a book on the relationship between developmental time and cultural space. Since it is a two-way relationship, we can have chronologically contemporary cultures that are developmentally backward, or chronologically early cultures that are developmentally advanced.

Which is another incoherent feature of progressive thought, because the distance between culture and development is measured by, you know, progress.

In short, in order to say "all cultures are of equal value," one must eliminate any notion of progress. But at the same time, their Hegelian-Marxist leanings cause them to deny the importance of culture and to superimpose some abstract notion of material progress on top of it. As I said, incoherent.

Remember Gil Bailie's Violence Unveiled? As good as that book is, I was never comfortable with reducing the Christian message to an implicit injunction against scapegoating and human sacrifice, a la René Girard.

On the other hand, I am very comfortable with the idea of seeing it as a God-given key to human development. Indeed, it must be a key, because we simply do not see this same development outside its reach.

Inventing the Individual is all about how Christianity managed to do this. Importantly, this was not an overnight phenomenon, and in many respects is still taking place today, and not just in backward places.

Rather, even here in the modern west, one might say that the essence of our political differences revolves around this question of collective vs. individual -- hence the left's insistence that "government is the one thing that unites us," or to which we all belong; or "you didn't build that," or no one ever got rich, or even got a job, without the help of the Elizabeth Warrens and Hillary Clintons of the world.

We see the same form in the pre-Christian world, only with different content. I don't want to repeat Siedentop's entire argument, but he demonstrates how the ancient family was a kind of barrier that had to be overcome, or broken out of, in order for the individual to emerge from it. It "constrained its members to an extent that can scarcely be exaggerated."

The father was a kind of totalitarian ruler who had even "the right to repudiate or kill his wife as well as his children." To the extent that there was law, he was it. Charitable sentiments for people outside the family would have been unintelligible -- one reason why the Jewish injunction to "love the stranger" was so revolutionary (let alone the later Christian injunction to love the enemy).

To be continued....


Yoinked from Happy Acres; if the family is the white base at the bottom, and God is the curved metal at the top, the blue flame of our individuality is ignited in between. We still need all three (and you could say that Jesus is the flame-come-down who first kindles the spark in the dark):

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Advanced Viral History

In the coon classic Science and the Modern World, Whitehead says that when considering "the philosophy of an epoch, do not chiefly direct your attention to those intellectual positions which its exponents feel it necessary to explicitly defend."

Rather, "there will be some fundamental assumptions which adherents of all the variant systems within each epoch unconsciously presuppose."

Thus, just as there is an unconscious "emotional" mind, there is an unconscious intellectual, or philosophical, or metaphysical, or moral, or even political mind. The problem is, people no longer know what they are assuming, "because the assumptions appear so obvious" and because "no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them."

And in my experience, the people most susceptible to this are the tenured (and by extension, journalists), especially those who have spent their entire lives in academia, and therefore have no idea how the world actually works. As such, their unconscious assumptions are not subject to any critique, neither from other minds nor from reality.

Another factor in their conformity is the narcissistic need for confirmation, prestige, and acceptance; between university administrators and Hollywood executives, it is difficult to say which population is the most craven.

One thing that is so provocative about Inventing the Individual is that it goes directly to a number of those "fundamental assumptions" alluded to by Whitehead, and shows how flimsy they are, for the contemporary secularist who calls himself "liberal" is unwittingly "paying tribute" to the Christian "origins of [his] moral intuitions."

It is just that these intuitions have become detached from their proper object, with the result that we see this dangerous combination of religious zeal in the absence of the channels provided by religious tradition. We may discern the same pattern in every revolutionary movement from French Revolution to the recent mob violence around the country: moral righteousness without morality, or "immoral morality"; in a word... or two, moral insanity.

It would be difficult to find the committed liberal who doesn't imagine that "historical progress" involves the struggle to found a secular society out of an illiberal religious past. Siedentop (and he is far from the only one) shows that the progress vaunted by liberals is unthinkable in the absence of deeply Christian assumptions.

But because enlightenment thinkers were motivated more by hatred of God than love of truth, they concocted a new narrative that made religion the enemy of reason and progress. It is bad enough what this did to history, but it also maims the soul, because it deprives it of its deep historical continuity and contributes to the resultant cosmic alienation. From there it is but a step to the perpetual resentment of the left.

As Siedentop puts it, "We no longer have a persuasive story to tell ourselves about our origins and development." Rather, "things have just happened to us," as in the accidents of natural selection. Thus, the liberalism that was once a positive philosophy grounded in religious principles "has come to stand for 'non-belief' -- for indifference and permissiveness, if not decadence."

How did this happen? How was this positive philosophy drained of meaning and transformed into the unholy trinity of relativism, envy, and entitlement?

In order to answer that question, we must first ask whether it is "mere coincidence that secularism developed in the Christian West"; or in other words, whether we are dealing with continuity, or whether there has been an ontological rupture along the way.

One of the things those enlightenment thinkers did was to fabricate a new continuity with the ancient past, with Greece and Rome. In seeking to "minimize the moral and intellectual distance between modern Europe and Graeco-Roman antiquity," they maximized "the gap between the 'dark' middle ages and the 'light' of their own age." As a result, "the millennium between the fall of the Western Roman empire and the Renaissance became an unfortunate interlude, a regression in humanity."

But is it true? Or is it just a flattering narrative, a collective neurosis for the purposes of self-aggrandizement? This leads to another question, "just how free and secular were ancient Greece and Rome?" Because if the modern secularists are correct, Christianity must represent a dark departure from that idyllic world.

In the book, I discussed this, starting on p. 142, under the heading Viral History 101. I would consider Siedentop's book Viral History 201, or whatever the next level would be. He looks at some of the same things, only, you know, in a sober and scholarly way instead of in the mischievous and freewheeling manner of the Raccoon.

Bottom line, when we look at that world -- really look at the average mentality, not the geniuses and luminaries -- "we find ourselves drawn back to an utterly remote moral world." It is so remote that I personally find it impossible to imagine what it must have been like, any more than I can imagine what it is like to be a frog. I mean, it's weird. And yet, for them, they did not regard it as such. In fact, if anything is weird, it is this recent and unexpected emergence of the individual in the Christian west. No one saw that coming.

"To recapture that world -- to see and feel what acting in it was like -- requires an extraordinary imaginative leap." For starters we must de-Christianize ourselves, which is probably impossible, as impossible as removing the yeast from the bread.

To begin with, not only was the family a religious institution, it was the religious institution, with father serving as priest, magistrate, judge, law enforcement, and executioner if necessary. Not only was there no separation of these domains in society, there was no separation in the individual, which, as we shall see, is a key point about the eventual impact of Christianity.

And now I'm out of time. To be continued....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Who Invented You, Anyway?

And now for a gear-grinding change of subjects...

No, that's not quite right, because deep down, the subject of this blog is always the same, that is, How did we get here? And with it, What are we supposed to do while we're here?, and Toward what end? Or in other words, Origin, Present Being, and Destiny; or Creation, Freedom, and Judgment. Or Who, What, and Why.

I've mentioned before that the Book of the Same Name was essentially an extended meditation on this question of How did I get here? The question provokes any number of answers, all of them true; for example, there are genetic, historical, biological, evolutionary, psychological, anthropological, cultural, economic, religious and other factors that contribute to Who We Are.

Most people seem to pick one or two and say to hell with it, but I wanted to look around, dig down, peer behind, and stretch upward, in order to consider as many angles as humanly possible, and then found my own religion. In the end, I decided to outsource the second part for reasons of comparative advantage.

Chapter 3.2 is called Humans and How They Got That Way: Putting the Sapiens into Homo. You see, we were Homos for a good long while before we became especially sapiental (wise) about it. That chapter contains some dodgy and overly generalized "history" that traces the emergence of what we call the "individual" or personal self. This self is something we cannot take for granted, nor can we simply project it into the past, as if premodern humans (including contemporary ones!!!) experienced the world in the same way.

The question is, Who invented the individual? Long story short, Christianity; you might say that Judaism did a lot of the R & D, while Christianity focused on marketing. But without this radical new philosophy, we might still be pre-individual members of clans and tribes with no personal identity, no better than the multiculturalists of today.

So, this book, Inventing the Individual, pretty much has my hair on fire. I'm only up to page 65, so I don't know the author's ultimate conclusions, but already there is plenty to playgiarize with, and more than enough to make my own theories almost seem plausible.

I'm just going to flip through the book and expand upon passages that arrested my attention. It begins with a quote from the 19th century historian Fustel de Coulanges, to the effect that the true object of historical study "is the human mind: it should aspire to know what this mind has believed, thought, and felt in different ages of the life of the human race."

Right. The problem here is that mere empathy is not only insufficient, but probably going to mislead. In other words, it is exceedingly difficult to simply project ourselves back in time, as if people of the past were "just like us."

Note that this doesn't just apply to the past. For example, I don't think it is truly possible for us to understand the mindset of Islamic terrorists, or pedophiles, or mass murderers.

(Coincidentally, yesterday's Best of the Web was on the subject of pathological altruism, in which Taranto cites an author who said of the Australian murderer that we face a "difficult test of our empathy," in that "While we do not know [the murderer's] story or his motivation, we know he was once someone just like those people whose lives he has now treated with such disdain. He must have loved ones, too. Forgiving him will be very difficult, and it will take time. Without forgiveness, though, we have to live with destructive hate." Liberalism. Is there anything it can't pervert?)

More generally -- and this is something I'll be expanding upon later -- to the extent that we misuse empathy, it will only "reveal" what we have projected into the subject. It will only tell us about ourselves, not the other person.

This was one of the most important lessons of my psychoanalytic study, first, that empathy is a tool of investigation, and second, that it must operate at the same level as the person under study. To take an obvious example, it requires empathy to understand an infant, a spouse, a friend, or a stranger, but in each case it is different.

For our purposes, when a patient comes in for therapy, they are generally operating at a certain level of development, e.g., neurotic, borderline, autistic, narcissistic, psychotic, etc. If you try to deal with a borderline patient the same way you would a neurotic, you'll get nowhere. In each case empathy is required, but in order to empathize with the borderline, you have to use it to reach a more primitive mode of experience, relating, and cognition (within both your self and the other person, the former facilitating the latter).

We have to do something similar to understand the people of the past, especially people who are or were swimming outside the Judeo-Christian stream. As Siedentop writes, "Deep moral changes, changes in belief, can take centuries to begin to modify social institutions." And very much contrary to postmodernists in all their nasty variety, "it seem to me that moral beliefs have given an overall 'direction' to Western history."

For me, a more interesting way to chart this progress is through the emergence and deepening of the individual. That is, if we trace our existence from the Big Bang all the way to the present post, what is most striking -- and most important to us -- is a gradual expansion and deepening of the subjective horizon.

In other words, our "mental space" -- the space in which we live -- expands and deepens along with our individuality; these are really two sides of the same process, as we shall see. Freedom, conscience, and personal self are all bound up together, but we also need to examine the conditions that made these possible.

What I would say is that God is of course the necessary condition -- the condition without which -- while various religious, psychological, and cultural factors provide the sufficient conditions -- the conditions with which.

Let's begin with pre-Christian antiquity. In order to even begin to understand these remote ancestors, "We must imagine ourselves in a world where action is governed by norms reflecting exclusively the claims of the family, its memories, rituals and roles, rather than the clams of individual conscience. We must imagine ourselves into a world of humans or persons who were not 'individuals' as we would understand them now" (Siedentop, emphasis mine).

Interestingly, this would imply that in order for God to save or redeem individuals, he had to first bring about conditions through which people could individuate from the group (just as humans had to first "speciate" from animals, life had to anim-ate from matter, and existence had to undergo creatio from nihilo). Thus, as we shall see, culture is the bread which shall gradually be leavened by some very wise men from the yeast, especially Paul.

To be continued....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In Order to Find Out What's In Liberalism, You Have to Surrender to Liberalism

"Health," writes Kushner, "is the result of connecting the discordant and apparently unrelated pieces." It is related to wholeness, so one form of illness is the belief or pretense "that what is broken is whole."

Meaning emerges as a consequence of the connections between the parts; thus, "meaninglessness obtains when the events in our lives seem to us unrelated, discordant, and fragmentary."

The key point is that meaning is somehow in the spaces between; it is unthinkable in the absence of relationship. We could even say that it is intrinsically trinitarian, for there is This, That, and the Other Thing, i.e., the relation between.

For example, what is the meaning of the relationship between (every) I and I AM, or (•) and O? Life is about exploring, elaborating, and deepening this meaning, unless one denies it a priori, in which case one will suffer from a false wholeness, and with it, Restless Self Syndrome. Whatever fragmentary wholeness one can cobble together will be just that: fragmentary and ultimately meaningless. It is the pretend truth of scientism, or Darwinism, or Marxism.

Of note, we could also say that there is "historical health," which involves an act of imaginative synthesis that situates us in an intelligible and plausible cosmic narrative. The left -- via deconstruction, revisionism, and other methods -- acts like a corrosive to historical health, and through this, personal health. We saw this most recently in the fraudulent CIA report. By way of contrast to Feinstein's tortured narrative, here's a blast of fresh air from Thomas Sowell (I know, metaphor alert!):

"If you knew that there was a hidden nuclear time bomb planted somewhere in New York City -- set to go off today -- and you had a captured terrorist who knew where and when, would you not do anything whatever to make him tell you where and when? Would you pause to look up the definition of 'torture'? Would you even care what the definition of 'torture' was, when the alternative was seeing millions of innocent people murdered?"

(I might add that Sowell's new edition of Basic Economics is one continuous blast of uncommonly common sense. If only this were required reading for college students, it would spell the end of the left.)

The left is much more religious than the religious, in the sense that we all know that there are exceptions to, say, bearing false witness -- for example, if Al Sharpton asks us where Officer Wilson is hiding. To tell him the truth would be a far greater sin than delivering Officer Wilson into the hands of a racist lynch mob.

But I can't tell you how many times I've heard liberals in the last week insist that "torture" (by which they mean harsh interrogation) is never appropriate, and that it can never yield actionable intelligence. Such thinking represents an outright attack on meaning and truth: it does to common sense, common knowledge, and common morality what terrorists and lynch mobs do to people.

Speaking of lying liars, "Only magicians and charlatans claim to be able to change this world" (ibid.). This is the principle difference between the metaphysics of left and right: the former projects the locus of control outside the self, into corporations, or the one percent, or white males, etc., while the latter locates it within. (Think, for example, of how Michael Brown had total control over his fate, until he decided to rush the officer and steal his gun; and yet, the Mob pretends that he was the victim of forces exterior to himself.)

We would say that the very purpose of this country is to create a place that valorizes and maintains the interior locus of control, AKA the Empire of Liberty (liberty being the quintessential "space between"). Otherwise we're no different from any other shitty country where the government controls people from without.

By the way, this great book (so far), Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism, goes to exactly this idea. Everything contemporary liberals pretend to value -- but are in the process of destroying -- is rooted in Judeo-Christian principles.

Karl Marx famously said that "you have to pass the bill to find out what's in the bill." No, wait, that was one of his latter day wackolytes. Marx said something similar -- it is appropriately inscribed upon his grave -- that while lesser philosophers merely interpret the world, the point is to change the world. But any idiot can change the world in the wrong way, or there would be no such thing as "news."

More to the point, you have to swallow this gobshite revolutionary philosophy in order to find out what's in the philosophy (what it will do to the world and the people in it). And yet, no matter how many times we find out, the left never learns. Why is that? Go back up to paragraphs two and four, about how historical disease is a consequence of an attack on meaning, which causes wholeness to revert to meaningless fragments.

The world is always going to be the world, and man is always going to be one, unfortunately. But knowing these things can prevent catastrophic falls. Yes, the world "is teeming with mysterious powers and miracles, but to seek to manipulate them without first understanding oneself has, for centuries, been known as illness" (ibid.). Today it is known as liberalism.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Close Encounters of the Word Kind

We have stumbled into an artery of Jewish mysticism, which we will continue exploring until we come up the other vein. In fact, it would appear that the divine energies operate in similar fashion to the circulatory system (or rather, vice versa), with one stream of energy leading away from, the other leading back to, the beating heart of the cosmos.

Also, just as the arterial tree leads from heart, to aorta, to arteries, all the way down and out to the capillaries that nourish the individual cells, it seems that creation has the same fractal pattern. I suppose this is what the Kabbalistic tree attempts to depict. Here, at the right, is how Denys the Aeropagite pictures it -->

Here are some other angelic angles. The first one looks like a hovering spaceship. Which I suppose it is:

This one is called Creation:

How should one look at these things? The same way one should regard scripture, only transposed from the ears to the eyes: with "one that preserves clarity, but not at the expense of mystery" (Kushner).

Joyce called it... a number of things, like being circumveiled in clearobscuro, or being once amore as babes awondering in a wold made fresh. Whoevery heard of such a think?!

Speaking of (?!), it is simply axiomatic that "In each generation there are encounters with the Holy Ancient One of Old" (Kushner). That's the word made fresh and delivered to our shore.

And speaking of space ships, Carl Jung was of the opinion that these are the same old archetypes clothed in new humanoid projections, psimilar to how, say, the paranoiac of the 15th century would have been frightened of vampires, whereas the 21st century nut is terrified by BushCo or the Tea Party or the Rape Culture. Same energies, different veils.

Scripture, if it is anything, is a collective recollection, or murmurandom, of such close vertical encounters. It is "a kind of journal" -- our better, journeyall -- of "remembered holy moments, too awesome to be simply described in everyday conscious language" (ibid.).

In them the heart waylays and ambushes the mind, or the right brain (so to speak) catches us unawares and conks us upside the left. It is a letter we have written to ourselves, or from Self to self. Which is why we re-cognize and remesmer it in the first place, for it is a Word from our eternal sponsor.

The most surprising thing of all is that these celestial dreamscapes map the human terra-tory. For "there is a realm of being that comes before us and follows after us. Streaming through all creation. Knowing who we have been and will be.... It is a river of light.... Her branches and shoots are the nerves and vessels of this world coursing beneath our surfaces, pulsing through our veins. A blueprint underlying the cosmos. The primary process of being" (Kushner).

Saturday, December 13, 2014

God Save the Kinks

Ray Davies is pretty much the only songwriter from the rock era who articulates a consistent conservative view, sometimes ironically, but never without affection. To his great credit, I don't think he's ever made any bombastic political statements about his own opinions, but prefers to let his characters speak for themselves. He seems to be more on the libertarian side, which used to be one of the appeals of rock music, before it was hijacked by the left.

The following video was no doubt made without a trace of irony by a clueless leftist, but see if you can spot the raccoon:

From the song:

You keep all your smart modern writers / Give me William Shakespeare / You keep all your smart modern painters / I'll take Rembrandt, Titian, Da Vinci and Gainsborough.

I was born in a welfare state / Ruled by bureaucracy / Controlled by civil servants / And people dressed in grey / Got no privacy, got no liberty / Cos' the twentieth century people / Took it all away from me.

Here's a more recent live version by Ray, minus the Kinks:

Can't wait for this box set to be released next week (I expect the price to come way down, to more like forty bucks). It is limited to the classic years between 1964 and 1971. It traces the evolution from the early garage rock and more derivative R & B, to a creative peak between 1966 and 1971, during which Davies produced a body of work that rivals and probably surpasses anyone you could name, e.g., Dylan, Lennon-McCartney, Jagger-Richards, Brian Wilson, etc.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Manifestival of Lights and the Divine Clueprint

In The River of Light, Kushner mentions several enduring themes that animate him, including "the name of God, the life of the first Jew, the primordial human archetype, the nature of consciousness, the relationship of self to God," and, most importantly, how these "are all interrelated to one another."

For him, finding the rug that pulls all these areas together would constitute "a 'unified field theory' for Jewish theology." But it seems to me that such a cosmic area rug would also look pretty good in a non-kosher household.

The name of God? Let's start with I AM. And it seems to me that the life of the first Jew is the life of every Jew: slavery, exodus, liberation, redemption, especially vertically. The primordial human archetype? This is largely revealed in scripture, especially Genesis, i.e., the themes and motifs that define, limit and deform the human journey. The nature of consciousness? This, as we have said, must be relationship, so "relationship of self to God" is its ultimate foundational goround.

To paraphrase Schuon, to say man is to say God. To not say God is to render man impossible. So we are back to "the name of God"-- a name we (as humans) uniquely share with him, and only because of him: I AM. Or, you could say we share it in him.

Now, the life of the first Jew is the life of every Jew, and this involves "a journey that is nothing less than the evolution of consciousness." I almost hate to say that because of the new age connotations, but we cannot allow the improper use of something to define its proper use.

The only alternatives to this evolution are stasis, meaningless lateral translations, or entropy and dissolution. Evolution is strictly impossible in the absence of God, the divine telos, otherwise it's just change.

For the strictly materialistic scientist, evolution must be the most miraculous and inexplicable phenomenon imaginable. Truly, such a misosophy can only pretend to understand or explain it. But because God is, evolution must be. God has a "gravitational attraction," or maybe you haven't gnosissed.

You just have to get in your right mind. Or at least leave your left behind once in awhile. For just as the eyes dominate the senses, the left cerebral hemisphere tends to bully the right.

So here's a tip: "By reading holy literature as if it were a dream, we gain access to a primary mode of our collective unconscious." For us -- the West brain -- the Bible "is an entrance to the cave," into "the great dream of Western religion."

We don't sleep. We dream. Then we awaken to a collective hallucination. What, you don't read the news? Worse, we awaken to history, which is a chronicle of the hallucinations of the past.

For example, I just read a 700 page biography of Stalin. Here was a man at the center of world history, and yet, the book could hardly be more tedious, because it is just the elaboration of one self-enclosed collective hallucination.

In contrast, a Washington or Lincoln are endlessly fascinating, because theirs is an encounter and a journey -- a dream -- of an entirely different sort. Oh, if only there weren't this organized mob trying to kill our ontological dream and replace it with the hallucination, the lucid nightmare, of the left!

Remember -- I'm sure you do -- in the book, where we spoke of the banged-out and thunder-sundered images of the One? Along these obscure lines, Kushner writes that scripture "seeks to join the fragments of one's life into a greater unity of meaning."

Yes, there is brokenness. But a part of us understands that this is a consequence of something, and retains the memory of wholeness. Where is it? O, above my head! It is Too old, older than Abraham, too young, young as a babe's I AM! For it is where origin and destiny meet in the muddle of the mount, right here, right now, even if only for a moment?!

Adamnesia is aphasia go through on the way to re-collection. Thus, there is a "primordial human form" in whom we all part-icipate. As alluded to above, the first Jew and the last Jew are as if linked by a thread -- or maybe a river of light -- between Adam and Messiah: Adamessiadam...

There is secular history and the idiolatry of postmodern herstory, but we are speaking of the Ur-story, the primordial story of us all. In this Ur-story of scriptural dreaming, we are "given a vision of the inner workings of 'God's psyche,'" which is a clueprint to the outer workings of Life Itself. It is one huge mythunderstanding for which no one need apologize.

"[T]he Creator, too, returns again and again to that underlying pattern of being.... This is reality's dream. Holy literature. Organizing motif beneath the apparent surface....

"Creation is in us. The plan the Creator used reappears everywhere: from the most erudite contemporary cosmological theory to the opening sentences of Genesis, it is the same."

--> in the beginning I AM creates --> (and repent as necessary)

(Quoted material taken from River of Light: Jewish Mystical Awareness)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Hitchhiker's Guide to the One Cosmos Bus Schedule

Sounds and looks familiar: before the beginning there is "A pinpoint of light in the very center of a perfectly still mirror-smooth and formless black ocean." Then a "creative and divine irruption" out of which ripples "an infinite number of concentric circles of of increasing diameter but diminishing light":

Christian version (↓)

The orthoparadox here is that the circles closer to the center should be smaller, but they are actually larger, if only due to the greater light (which makes them "qualitatively" more expansive).

Conversely, imagine the total darkness at the extreme periphery. In one sense it appears "infinite," but in another sense it is just an opaque wall where no light can reach, or perhaps which has the "power" to shut out the light. Call it the Wall of Tenure.

It seems that there are threshold guardians along each circle. Each guard "wants nothing from you. Except that you go away." The guard does everything in his power "to foil your ascent" toward the light. However, he is not the actual source of this power.

Rather, "his power is only the evil within you." To which I would add fear of change and attachment to illusion, or devotion to a falsehood.

If the evil one can get us to pledge allegiance to an evil doctrine, then his work with you -- the heavy lifting, anyway -- is done. He can be like a deist-satan, who merely puts things in motion and then stands back to enjoy the show.

For the evil one, a secular brainwash is the gift that keeps giving. Any idiot can fuck things up, but doing so to this extent requires a great deal of education and fanatical devotion to a promethean ideology.

There are guards who impede the circular cosmic flow and the messengers who facilitate it. For, this guy named Jacob had a vision in which appeared "a channel / Standing on the earth / Yet reaching the very heavens. / And holy messengers were going up / And going down on it."

Each morning we hold out a thumb in the hope of catching a ride on an ascending bus, or at least getting a card or ladder from a descending one. But sometimes

"The channel is not apparent" and "The upper worlds and lower worlds / Seem hopelessly isolated from one another."

Yeah, it happens.

But then, "in a moment, / In some very unlikely place, / A ladder appears where before there was only the void."

Woo hoo! At once "those who were below may ascend; / And those who were above may come down to earth."

I suppose it helps to invite them, or at least don't lock them out. Doing so requires a shift in perception that elevates the "trivial" to the world-shattering, or at least opens one to the possibility that miracles -- vertical ingressions -- are of necessity everywhere and everywhen.

This reminds me of when our son was, I don't know, three or four years old. He has always been at the extreme end of the person-oriented spectrum, so when he felt that he was receiving insufficient attention, he would say to his mother: open your eyes! From his perspective, either one was paying attention to him, or unconscious.

Probably the divine messengers are the same way: pay attention! Open your damn eyes!

So, "Blessed are You Lord who heals us with miracles."

"This overflowing radiance / These emanations / This holy light / Streams down from on High / Fills us and raises us up / And we reciprocate by permitting / The same holy light within us / To travel upward / And holy messengers were going up and down on it."

Down & upshot:

"[C]oursing through the veins of the / Universe at this moment is a kind of / Light in which man and the Holy One are / Yearning to be one."

(All quotes are from Honey in the Rock.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Evolutionary Blightbringers & Roiling Donuts

So, secular time is a line, spiritual time a circle; then again, secular time is often a closed circle (a circular line), whereas spiritual time is an open spiral. Even so, a spiral can proceed up or down, and down is where the hostile forces and bad spirits wish to lead us.

I suppose we could say that the negative form of secular time goes backwards, while the negative form of spiritual time goes down. The left doesn't take any chances and celebrates both, for example, with the unedifying spectacle of primitive people acting out premodern forms of political expression in the streets. Our president, of course, approves of and encourages such behavior, which inspired yesterday's tweet, Angry black mobs. Is there any problem they can't solve?

This is not how it was supposed to be. In 2008, it was our understanding that there would be no wrath, because progressives -- it's implied in the word -- were selling us good times, both secular and spiritual, or in other words, material affluence and spiritual evolution: better people than us were going to help us become better people.

Vanderleun's snidebar features one of the greatest hits from that era, which asks -- and answers -- the question, "What the hell's the big deal about Obama?"

Which was a reasonable question to ask of a man whose resume was conspicuous for its absence of qualifications. This was because he "isn't really one of us. Not in the normal way, anyway." Rather, "the appeal, the pull, the ethereal and magical thing that seems to enthrall millions of people from all over the world" is a consequence of his "powerful luminosity" and "unique high-vibration integrity."

Morford is, of course, not even an idiot, but he makes an important point, that all of the "enormously smart, wise, spiritually attuned people" of his acquaintance are "intuitively blown away" by Obama's "sheer presence." He makes a special point of emphasizing that these are not those "coweringly religious" types, but rather "spiritually advanced people" who "identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being... who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet," and can "actually help us evolve." Ad nauseam, only literally.

One more important point about this manichaean worldview: "There's a vast amount of positive energy swirling about that's been held back by the armies of BushCo darkness, and this energy has now found a conduit, a lightning rod, is now effortlessly self-organizing around Obama's candidacy. People and emotions and ideas of high and positive vibration are automatically drawn to him."

This is a quintessential example of what was said above about the negative forms of secular and spiritual time. Here we are, six years later, long enough to measure the impact of the evolutionary lightbringer. Let's not even bother. Anybody can make a mistake, even Morford.

But his original question is still valid, What the hell's the big deal about Obama? We still have to account for "the pull, the ethereal and magical thing that" enthralled "millions of people from all over the world." What was really going in in their grubby souls?

And what about all those spiritually advanced people who operate outside the lines of religion? How did even they get duped? Do they still believe that a politician can "help us evolve" and "usher in a new way of being on the planet"?

On an elementary level, it seems to me that these people confused hate and love. That is, as Morford explains, the "energy" that had swirled around "BushCo darkness" spontaneously reorganized around a new attractor, Obama. Oops!

This reminds me of a man who hates his mother so much, he falls in love with a woman exactly like her.

Interesting too that cowardly religious types were somehow immune to the luminous ethereal magical high-vibration integrity of this attuned being. They were not pulled down and back into the negative spiritual space.

What I want to emphasize is that the self-styled spirit-beings cited by Morford were not lying. They really did feel all those spiritual vibrations. Which is entirely beside the point, since it all depends upon the source of the vibrations. As if no bad things feel good!

That was an unanticipated byway. What I really want to say is that for some strange reason, Kushner is the only other person to my knowledge who sees the creation as a giant torus, or what I would call a roiling donut, or the endless goround of being. One day the image just popped into my head, and I've been unable to eradicate it ever since.

Kushner illustrates this on pp. 82-83. I would illustrate it verbally with a passage from Eckhart:

"The first grace consists in a type of flowing out, a departure from God; the second consists in a type of flowing back, a return to God himself." Or, as in Eccli 1:7, "The rivers return to the place from whence they flowed, so that they may flow again."

Gosh! Look up torus and you'll find some very arresting images. It's pretty much my favorite shape. At the center of the donut is the timeless unKnown godhead; around the periphery horizontal time, while up-down-and-around is vertical time; the first image has two attractors, perhaps a way of illustrating the Two Nations:

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Don't Just Stand There, Do Nothing!

I couldn't find the exact image I was looking for, but it would be somewhat like a cloverleaf freeway interchange, only closed in on itself:

Plus, there would have to be a multitude of roads, I suppose one for each person. Kushner says that we are all

"on the same clover-leaf," except all the exits "lead to another ramp. Which is itself a circle. It appears as though you are getting off, but you are only getting on. And this getting on is itself another exit."

All together now: can I buy some pot from you?

This is again the Ultimate Cosmic Circle described by Maximus the Slaximus. It takes place in "religious time," or what we call the vertical. Thus, "religious ritual intends to sustain the circle of return," while "religious myth means to remember it. To keep it ever in our awareness."

You know, exodus. And, just as importantly... what would be the complementary antonym? Influx, ingress, inflow, inpouring. But every exscape is an inscape, in a spiral of exitus-reditus.

This isn't really abstract, but rather, a concrete description of the vertical roadmap. Or, as Kushner implies, the purpose of religion is to put flesh on its bones, or cars on the road. In short,

"There are two ways of experiencing the flow of time. In contemporary secular time" -- the horizontal -- "time is infinitely and irreversibly linear. It is without beginning or end." Most importantly, this is quantitative time. We can assign each moment with a distinct number, e.g., 12/09/2014 @ 8:09. It's here and then it's gone forever.

But humans wouldn't be human without awareness of qualitative time. For example, we are in the "Christmas season." What is more humanly real, the experience of this season -- with all its sights, smells, sounds, and evocations -- or "12"?

In the vertical, "the flow of time began with God's word and will likewise end with His word. And within these two termini there are identical circles of time. Some are larger, some smaller" (ibid,).

This implies that vertical time is fractal: circles within circles within one ultimate Circle. It does not consist of objects per se, but processes in motion. Perhaps what are thought of as objects are more like the visible whirlpools in a river, or the jet stream, or tornados.

Now, about that word that begins and ends in God. It must really be a flow of language, or in other words, speech. What is the word? Or, of what does the speech consist? I would suggest that a good candidate is Nothing.

Which can easily be taken in the wrong way (like an off-ramp into the barren desert of tenure). In order to understand it, we need to shift gears -- or books -- and dip a toe into the River of Light. For this is not the Nothing of the nihilist crybabies. No, Donny. Those men are just cowards.

Rather, this is "the nothingness that lies just beyond every something as its ultimate expression and transformation into another something: the beginning of being. And the end of being." It is not something less, but rather, the eternal something more. It is not a deficit but excess of light.

This is also "the Nothingness that, of necessity, joins every something" -- like the white spaces between the black letters that pull the rug of scripture together. "When the children of Israel left Egypt they passed through this Nothingness and were transformed by it. They had to quit being who they were, slaves," and become something else.

Which reminds us of how liberalism reverses this process, and restores the state of slavery to free men -- who then complain that we are enslaving them! However, this regression is understandable, since the concrete something of victimhood is, for many people, preferable to the nothingness of freedom.

This nothingness is the divine bewilderness. Thus, "In every generation, each Jew" -- I would say each person -- "must experience himself as though he personally were freed from Egypt."

The paradigm expression of this in Judaism is Shabbat. For one-seventh of our weekly universe we are bidden not to rest, but to do Nothing. --Lawrence Kushner

The great mystical cloverleaf area rug: