Friday, May 09, 2014

You Ought to be Ashamed!

If man evolved and/or is created to be monogamous, then wha' happen? For 99% of our existence we practiced monogamy, so we should have gotten pretty good at it. But then something changed.

Note that during that very long period of time, things were pretty "equal" for everybody, gender-specific specialities notwithstanding.

That is to say, everyone was equally poor, although no one knew it, because it turns out that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was characterized by a surplus of slack, working "short hours" and exploiting "abundant food resources" (Tucker). You might be astoneaged to learn that early humans lived "relatively relaxed lives" and that it was possible to get by "on two to four hours of subsistence effort per day."

One more way that I am a dyed-in-the-wool caveman.

I wonder if this is the blessedly enslackened situation Genesis describes, prior to the Temptation and Fall? That is, it seems there is plenty of low-hanging food of which we may "freely eat"; a girl for every boy; and the nuclear family ("a man shall leave his father and mother...") It's all good. Like the 1950s, but without the beatniks.

But then something unexpected happens. The text is frustratingly vague as to exactly what it is, but it is possible that it is conflating or reversing cause and effect.

That is, it may simply be describing an effect -- our all too obvious exile from paradise or the 1950s -- and then reading a cause back into time. Since what happened is "bad," then perhaps we must have done something bad to deserve it.

I've always been partial to Joyce's approach (in Finnegans Wake), which acknowledges the Fall -- the effect -- without trying to be too precise about what we did to cause it.

Look at it this way: we all have guilt and we all have shame -- Harry Reid being the exception that proves the rule -- but why?

Interestingly, the Bible acknowledges the existence of shame even in our prelapsarian state -- in fact, it is the Last Word ("ashamed") prior to Genesis 3, The Temptation and Fall of Man.

It also seems to implicitly acknowledge a capacity for guilt, in that there is an injunction -- don't eat of that tree -- and a potential punishment -- you shall die. There would be no point in communicating such a cause-and-effect formula to a creature incapable of freedom and responsibility, and therefore, guilt.

As we've discussed in the past, shame and guilt are quite distinct, the former having to do with ontology, the latter with existence. That is, shame has to do with being, whereas guilt has more to do with actions.

Shame also has to do with the other, with being seen (or busted). Thus, a truly shameless person -- Miley Cyrus, say, or Bill Clinton -- is so deeply disordered that it goes well beyond what any psychologist can deal with.

To put it inversely, to not feel shame is to not be human, and only humans can benefit from psychotherapy.

Sociopaths do not feel shame, nor do they feel guilt. In both cases, they are detached from the human family, in that they cannot empathize with the other, or see the other's point of view. Therefore, they can treat human beings as objects without being persecuted by a guilty conscience.

How would you feel if you had not only destroyed a young woman's life, but pretended she was the guilty party? A normal person would be deeply troubled for the rest of his life, but a normal person would also try to make amends (so long as the crime didn't involve murder, in which case no earthly reconciliation is possible).

So man, if he is man, must have a capacity for guilt and for shame. Modern man doesn't like this idea, so what does he do about it? Note that one cannot actually rid oneself of these (and remain human), any more than one can eliminate other quintessentially human characteristics.

Yes, but there is still a way: all one has to do is make the wrong right and the right wrong, and voila! The restoration of wholly unholy innocence! To be in-nocent means to be free of knowledge, and people who don't know any better -- children and animals -- are indeed innocent.

Furthermore, any person who would hold innocent children and animals to a higher standard would be an assoul. Therefore, you are an assoul for expecting humane, decent, and virtuous behavior of liberals!

There is another ontological perversion that infiltrates the liberal mind, and it is the equation of resentment and victimhood, accompanied by the equation of victimhood and innocence.

Therefore, instead of feeling shame about, say, being so envious and resentful, one not only feels innocent, but is proud about it (pride being another occasion for a normal person to feel humbled if not a little guilty).

I can summarize the lesson of this post in two words: Gay. Pride.

Which is a good thing, because I don't have time for one more word.


julie said...

Apropos, Lileks on monogamy.

Paul Griffin said...

I have become more and more interested in the question of guilt and what we do with it of late. It has been a much more fruitful topic of discussion with those who might otherwise revert to cliches and ad hominems. A person may reject religion, authority, even the influence of any one else around them, but will almost certainly have some sort of idea, however twisted, of right and wrong. And they can usually be made aware of their inability to conform to their concept of right and wrong. What do they do with that guilt?

I am becoming convinced that most people today outside of the church do not have a coherent answer to this most important of all questions. They have been told that religion is a crock, that they are not really guilty of anything. But the guilt remains (as long as we have any sense of ought, guilt must remain), and their means for its dispersion has been taken from them, so they are left with more primitive mechanisms that only mitigate the problem, and then only temporarily, like projection.

Or, thinking out loud now, maybe projection is all we have ever had, because the ultimate end of projection is sacrifice of the projectee and the attempted dispersal of the guilt placed thereupon. So maybe we are not given a new mechanism, but instead a proper Person upon whom to project our guilt. A spotless Lamb, strong enough to bear the guilt and take away the sins of the world...

Now I think I will have some serious meditation to do.

Have mercy upon us all, indeed.

julie said...

It's all good. Like the 1950s, but without the beatniks.

But then something unexpected happens. The text is frustratingly vague as to exactly what it is, but it is possible that it is conflating or reversing cause and effect.

This time around, I suspect it had a lot to do with "better living through chemistry," in various permutations. Same as it ever was: things were going great, then somebody gets the bright idea to taste the latest iteration of the forbidden fruit, and it all goes downhill from there. Againandagainandagainanda...

julie said...

Paul - excellent points. The guilt question really is an interesting one. You hear a lot of people spouting off about "Catholic guilt," and usually those same people are mocking it as misplaced, superstition-based, etc. Very rarely do they have any idea what they are talking about, and even then they usually speak from a perspective of poor catechesis. But these same people are quick to load an entire group - White Christian Males, or Jews, or whoever the out-group du jour in the victimhood game happens to be - with the burden of all the shame and guilt for everything they imagine is wrong in the world.

Paul Griffin said...

It is as though, upon seeing a weary, dirty traveler, one offered him a bath and a bed, and in response, the traveler were to look down, see his filth, then curse you for covering him with dirt.

They speak as though the church put the guilt there. Some people just can't recognize a friend.

mushroom said...

Slack for hunter-gatherers -- Amen, you can eat more calories or you can save the ones you've already consumed. Works either way.

Agriculture is the long day bringer, but even farming is seasonal. Not that there's not always plenty to do on the farm, if you're German or something. For us Scot-Irish hillbillies, it'll keep.

mushroom said...

I guess you could call it projection when the high priest laid his hands on the scapegoat and confessed the sins of the people over it, but it really only works if we identify with the vicarious sufferer.

Projection is a defense and dishonest at its root. I identify with Christ because He dies in my place, paying the penalty and freeing me of the burden of guilt that I must honestly recognize and acknowledge that I earned and deserved. There's no gratitude or relief in projection.

But that's projection as a technical term. Non-technically it could be roughly equivalent to identification.

Paul Griffin said...

I have not had much time for active meditation, but I've been marinating in the direction of my earlier thoughts (and some of mushroom's as well) over the course of the day. To wit, some half-baked thoughts that have tumbled out:

-Clinical projection still involves a recognition of guilt, but an unwillingness to own it. It is only the first half of the equation.

-The difference between the modern concept of scapegoating and the action from whence the term comes is confession. We must own our guilt AND our inability to do anything about it before Christ's death becomes truly meaningful.

-I cannot imagine being the designated projectee for just one other person, accepting whatever guilt (and receiving any associated punishment) they decided to project on me without complaint. Bearing every accusation without a word.

-If Christ truly died for our sins, "while we were yet sinners," as my namesake tells us in Romans, if our sins are truly what put Him on the tree, then we have all projected our guilt onto Him in the most clinical, unhealthy way possible, whether we realize it or not. He bears it all, whether or not we confess it or identify with Him. How could we not accept His Grace in return? How has our pride become so blinding? What do we have to be proud of?

-What has truly struck me viscerally in meditating on this today is the magnitude of this action on His part. I feel positively microscopic, almost terrified... And yet He tells us that if we will confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive and purify us!

julie said...

Paul - yes, very humbling. Especially that "sin no more" part. Oy. mea culpa, mea culpa...


Slightly off topic (or is it?)

A bit of Saturday morning reading: Steyn: #BringBackOurBalls

Gagdad Bob said...

With the gang culture, excessive violence, constant boner pill ads, and the celebration of sodomy, the NFL is more wholesome than ever.

Now when your kid reaches adolescence, you have to explain the birds, the bees, and the Rams.

Gagdad Bob said...

I guess it's good career path for someone who can't decide between hurting and flirting with men.

julie said...

(Bad link)

I wonder how often he ends up in the middle of a pileup?

Gagdad Bob said...

Sure didn't take the Times long to defenestrate their science writer for being too scientific. I haven't yet gotten to the book...

Van Harvey said...

Yes, we in St. Louis are so enjoying discovering these new meanings for "Gateway to the West".

Gagdad Bob said...

I guess you can take the Rams out of LA, but you can't take LA out of the Rams. At least West LA.