Friday, June 20, 2014

Another Crappy Day in Paradise

So: I think we can stipulate that postmodernism does the work of the devil (see yesterday's antepenultimate paragraph). But that's too passive -- like the classic "mistakes were made." For it must mean that postmodernists are the devil's slavish cabana boys and girls.

And don't worry for the moment about whether Satan exists, for if he didn't, then liberals would have to invent him. Which they have, so it's a moot point. Nor does it matter if the satanism is unwitting, for that's exactly how Satan would have it, right? Duh!

Just lately I've been thinking about how much more simple and elegant it is to just believe in the existence of Satan, and leave it at that. No need to overthink it. No one disbelieves in wind just because they can't see it. Rather, we see the effects, and that's sufficient.

But if postmodernism = satanism, I suppose we should define our terms. For example, postmodern presumes something called "modern," but is postmodernism merely an extension of this -- an intensification and prolongation of its assumptions -- or is it really something new and unprecedented?

It comes down to identifying exactly when man took the wrong ontological turn in that fork in the historical road, but you could trace that all the way back to Genesis if you want. Indeed, some Gnostics trace it to the emergence of life, which you could say is a kind of cancer on matter. Or hey, why not the Big Bang, which is a noisy interlude in serene landscape of eternity!

If I understand God correctly, then the wrong turn isn't in history, but literally initiates history. The Fall is ontologically prior to time and history, so it's naturally everywhere and everywhen. You know, pervertical.

Which, like belief in satan, isn't such a bad working assumption. At the very least you will be immune to surprise when man fucks up, which he is bound to do. It is how, with our activated CoonVision, we could foresee endstate Obamaism in all its horror way back in 2008, before he was even president.

Well then, what's the point of history, if it's all one big clusterfark? We'll return to that one in a moment. Let's get back to modernity.

As they say, the past is a foreign land, and since we are all inhabitants of the Land of Modernity, we can't see the latter so well either, because it is That through which we do the looking. It is the map with which we are attempting to view the Map, so you see the problem. It's why, for example, Richard Dawkins' ultimate truth looks suspiciously like Richard Dawkins.

What are some of the features of modernity? As it so happens, this is discussed in this other book I'm synchronistically working on, Revolt Against Modernity. Yes, postmodernism is always revolting, but he's talking about the verb, not the adjective.

Because of the left's unrelenting logophobia, it can be difficult to nail down definitions. For example, what is an American conservative? Someone who wants to conserve liberalism. And what is a liberal? Someone who wants to eliminate liberalism and revert to statism.

Likewise, there are many premodern elements in postmodernity. Indeed, in a relativistic cosmos this is inevitable. Since in reality truth cannot be surpassed, the relativist can only go backward or in circles. Which is precisely why the "progress" of the progressive is so regressive -- as if paganism, or the cult of the body, or hedonism, or irrationalism, or materialism, are new ideas!

Also, it is important to point out that contemporary conservatism didn't become "conscious" until there was a pressing need to conserve what was being newly threatened by the left.

Before Woodrow Wilson and FDR, there was little need to defend the obvious. A conservative movement only occurs when "cherished notions, folkways, beliefs and norms appear threatened." Thus, conservatism is like an immune system, which doesn't have much to do until faced with a threat.

Which means that so-called (contemporary) liberalism is -- you guessed it -- a cultural and political autoimmune disorder. When Obama promised fundamental change, that's the Big Tumor speaking. Any serious disease causes fundamental change. So what?

The absurdity at the heart of contemporary liberalism is the belief that we can have freedom 1) with no ontological foundation for it, and 2) imposed from on high by positive law, instead of being a natural, bottom-up right.

Another heteroparadox: "If one understands the modern world to have its conception in a lust for power through knowledge, then in its old age [post]modernity is the struggle for power without the presumption of something knowable."

This is the Machiavellian turn, i.e., political power without the Good, accompanied by knowledge without the True and art without the Beautiful. And "diversity" without unity, the One.

Simultaneous with this is a radical demystification of the cosmos, which is either a primitive defense mechanism or a clever dodge, but either way it "represents the enduring human aspiration to become gods." So we're backagain to the future in Eden, as usual.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Iraq WMD Discovered in Oval Office

Well, at least Obama has finally settled the argument of whether we should have invaded Iraq. If only Bush had known in 2003 that our enemies possess an unsurpassed weapon of mass destruction: liberals. Is there anything they can't destroy? Military victory, hard drives, veterans, marriage, race relations, education, the Constitution, healthcare, borders, the economy...

Which is a thread -- and threat -- that runs through The Common Mind. That is, just as on the biological level, there are forces of integration and dis-integration on the psychic and cultural planes (or what Wilber would call the interior-individual and interior-collective dimensions; each is more verb than noun).

In order for something to be alive, it must engage in a continuous process of catabolism and anabolism, i.e., building up and breaking down. It's why we chew our food preparatory to assimilating it, or why we digest ideas so as to integrate them into our existing world view.

You need to take this quite literally. There is a whole school of psychoanalysis -- the correct one -- that essentially analogizes the mind to the digestive tract.

Where they get it wrong, in my opinion, is in reducing the mind to this, whereas it's really other way around: the digestive tract is the way it is because the psyche is the way it is, and ultimately because God is the way he is/are.

That is, a trinitarian view maintains that God IS a continuous process of giving and of assimilation. There is nothing "beneath" or "above" or "behind" this process. Rather, it is the Ultimate Reality. Therefore, every created thing will be a more or less distant fractal of the same process -- so long as it is Alive.

You could say that Death is the failure or prevention of this living process. Which is why one can detect Grim Death at work on the psychological, spiritual, political, and cultural levels no less than the biological.

BTW, this also explains why it is a Fundamental Error to elevate physics to our paradigmatic science, since this represents the complete inversion of the cosmos. You can't actually get from physics to biology -- much less psychology and theology. But it works fine the other way around. Relativity always implies the Absolute.

As we look around, it isn't difficult to notice the forces of disintegration. Indeed, things are always falling apart. And as they are doing so -- at least at first -- this can feel quite liberating.

Imagine if the law of gravity were suddenly suspended. What a thrill to float above the landscape below! But wait a minute... It's getting a little cold up here... and can someone open a window? Can't catch my bre... The end.

So, dis-order is always a temptation and a seduction. Remember the French revolution? Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, / But to be young was very heaven!

No doubt. But you might want to wait a couple of weeks before you write that one down. You never know. Events may overtake that sentiment. Naive enthusiasm can be nice, but don't lose your head.

Remember the Obama revolution? Bliss was it in that dawn to be a LoFo journalist, / But to be tenured was very heaven!

Yes, you could say that conservatism represents the anabolic process, liberalism the catabolic. Thus, a "pathological conservatism" would overemphasize order to the exclusion of change, while a pathological liberalism would do the opposite.

Which is one reason why I prefer the term "classical liberal," since it balances and harmonizes both trends. Our founders were classical liberals, in that they wished to conserve the very principles that facilitate ordered liberty (order without liberty and liberty without order being the ineradicable pests of history).

The healthy society -- like the healthy mind and body -- is "stable yet possesses the the means of change in the light of experience and circumstances." A truism, right?

No, not for the postmodern idiot who has no stable psychic ground except maybe resentment, and who has convinced himself that all order is just a Mask of Power.

Except when it's inconvenient to believe such BS. For example, the IRS only screwed up because it's underfunded! It had nothing to do with the violent machinery of state power preemptively persecuting those who would limit it.

This whole question of metabolism presupposes something to eat. And not just anything. Here again, there is appropriate and inappropriate nutrition at every level, things we should eat and things we should avoid entirely, otherwise Genesis would be just a diet book.

Which it is. It's like the old schoolyard joke: wanna lose ten pound of ugly fat in hurry? Cut off your head!

I suppose it will take the rest of my life to lose all the ugly fat I acquired as a result of my postgraduate diet of junk metaphysics, fast foolishness, and comfort reading.

Which is what these morning verticalisthencis, gymgnostics, and O-robics are all about: not just building the muscle, but tearing down the flab.

Today's bottom line: "Christian humanism is in a radical tension with the spirit of" postmodernism, "which in deconstructing texts finds an abyss at the heart of them. In the sense in which the postmodernist does the work of the devil, it is at the farthest remove from the creative function of literature."

And of everything else.

Now drop and give me twenty!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Free Speech Zone

No time for anything but an open thread. However, Anonymous Commenting has been enabled, so you can finally say what you really think. Let a thousand flamers bloom!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It All Starts with Dictionary Abuse

Everyone is in favor of common sense, right?

No. In fact, I think this is another one of those questions that distinguishes left from right. You could say that conservatism is simply the conservation of common sense, of time-rested general agreement about the Way Things Are and how to order our lives around that (in other words, the world, AKA reality, comes first, not our ideas, dreams, and fantasies).

The leftist would respond, "maybe, but a great deal of oppression and stupidity also get imported along with the good, so there is no intrinsic reason to defer to the past. We can always do better."

People don't generally think too deeply about common sense, which is one reason why it can be difficult to defend when challenged, as in "who are you to say that marriage must be limited to members of the opposite sex?"

That's not an honest question; rather, it is simply the aggressive abandonment of common sense. We know this, because one might just as well ask, "why limit marriage to just two people, or to human beings, or to living things? Why do you arbitrarily exclude robots, or sheep, or inflatable partners?" Once you go down that path, you've abandoned common sense, so there's no end to it.

This book I'm working on, The Common Mind, goes to this question of common sense. It's actually a collection of essays, each devoted to a thinker who championed the common sense of Christian humanism in the face of the hostile and regressive forces that are always arrayed against it, in every age.

Yeah, it's always been this way, and always will be. There are always miserable souls such as Obama who want to fundamentally transform the world, and in so doing conduct a frontal assault on common sense. It's kind of hopeless, but no more hopeless than life itself. In the words of Samuel Johnson,

"It remains that we retard what we cannot repel, that we palliate what we cannot cure. Life may be lengthened by care, though death cannot be ultimately defeated." At best we may give "longevity to that which its own nature forbids to be eternal." Which implies that the left will ultimately succeed in destroying the United States, just as death will succeed in taking us all, but so what? It remains for us to do the right thing for its own sake, not for some secondary gain.

It's the same with language. One of the bases of the left is its relentless attack on language, which is the vehicle of common sense. It is as if there is a conserving and integrating force in language, to go along with a dis-integrating and catabolic force. In reality, both are needed -- conservation and change -- in order to progress.

But progress does not and cannot occur by destroying the mechanism of conservation, by undermining the plain meaning of words. Thus, one could say that there is nothing quite as conservative as a dictionary; likewise, on the political plane one could say that there is nothing as conservative as the Constitution (which naturally allows for constitutional change, just as language allows for new words like duhhh!).

But this simple common sense will not do for the left. For example, the Constitution plainly forbids discrimination on the basis of race, so the left (to paraphrase Justice Scalia) is in the position of arguing that the 14th amendment actually requires what it expressly forbids. In order to accept the argument, one must simply abandon common sense.

In the chapter on Chesterton, I was reminded of his comment to the effect that most all philosophy since Aquinas requires us to accept one insane premise. Once we have done so, the rest of the insanity follows with ineluctable logic. It makes it easy, because one doesn't have the burden of remembering dozens of lies. Rather, so long as one assimilates the first, the rest flows along from entailment to entailment. Which Adam learned the hard way.

"Since the modern world began in the sixteenth century, nobody's system of philosophy has really corresponded to everybody's sense of reality" (Chesterton). Which is interesting right there, because why not? If there is a common reality and a common human nature, then why can't we all agree on a common philosophy?

One reason why Aquinas' philosophy is so attractive is that it comports with common sense. It is "the philosophy of sanity since it is integrative, universal, sensible, and reiterative of the common understanding of experience rooted in the senses and refined by reason." And what is sanity? It is simply the registration of objective reality, "the universal wholeness that connects man and God, matter and mind, heart and soul."

But again, most modern philosophies begin with "a particular point of view demanding the sacrifice" of sanity. In short, a man must "believe something that no normal man would believe," if it were expressed in a simple and straightforward manner. Which is precisely why leftism must always lie about itself, and why it must so relentlessly abuse the poor dictionary.

Thus, modern philosophies reflect and assist "the breakdown of reality, the disintegration of belief and the fragmentation of society."

So yes, liberalism is liberating, but for whom? For the abnormal, the insane, the lacking in common sense, the envious, the angry, the auto-victimized, the sexually confused, the tenured. For the rest of us it is mental slavery, slavery being a symptom of the absence of the rule of natural reason, and denial of any appeal to the court of common sense.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but abuse of words can really cause an owie to the soul.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Monday Morning Idiot's Guide to Cosmic Christianity

Because we've been quickly moving around from book to book and subject to subject, we've got some Loose Ends.

I'm just going to jot some of them down in the hope that they might spontaneously tie themselves up or turn themselves into a unified post. If not, then so what? It's only Monday. We should be able to achieve total consciousness by the end of the week, so we have that going for us.

Beginning with the generally not raccommended (because of the turgid tenurespeak) Metaphyics, there is a coonworthy quote by Solovyov to the effect that "All nature strove and gravitated towards humanity, while the whole of history was moving toward Divine humanity."

We've discussed Solovyov in the past, only we spelled it Soloviev. Since I no longer remember exactly what we said -- it's been over five years -- let's remind ourselves.

Ah ha. Speaking of tying up loose ends, Balthasar claims that "Soloviev's skill in the technique of integrating all partial truths in one vision" is such that he is "perhaps second only to Thomas Aquinas as the greatest artist of order and organization in the history of thought."

So it seems that Soloviev is just the man we need to consult if we're feeling at loose ends, looking for that nonlocal area rug to pull the whole cosmos together. Balthasar adds that "There is no system that fails to furnish [Soloviev] with substantial building material, once he has stripped and emptied it of the poison of its negative aspects" -- including Darwin and evolutionism.

To which I say: welcome to the cult! Because isn't that pretty much what we've been doing here the past ten years? And yet, no calls ours

"the most universal intellectual construction of modern times" or "the most profound vindication and the most comprehensive philosophical statement of Christian totality in modern times."

Oh well. In any event,

"The theme and content of Soloviev's aesthetic is nothing less than this: the progressive eschatological embodiment of the Divine Idea in worldly reality."

I'm going to just keep quoting the previous post until it gets stale:

On the one hand, "the Divine Spirit is indeed in and for itself the highest reality, while the material being of the world is in itself no more than indeterminacy, an eternal pressure toward and yearning after the form" (↑).

In turn, "the impress of the limitless fulness and determinacy of God [acts] upon the abyss of cosmic potentiality" (↓). The human state is the conscious meeting place of this metacosmic (↑) and (↓), but only because O has assumed human form and now dwells in human nature.

So we live in a kind of spiritual whirlpool or dynamic process-structure created by the vertical energies of (↑↓), which in turn have a "purifying" effect, somewhat like the rinse cycle in your washing machine, which baptizes the garments in clean water and spins out the entropic impurities.

Soloviev refers to the "conquest" of the nondivine, through which God can "manifest his plenitude and totality and cause it to prevail even in what is opposed to it -- in what is finite, separated, egotistically divided, evil." In other words, the (↑↓) process lifts us out of the closed system of our finite state, while simultaneously "cleansing" us of various personal and cultural parasites.

Conversely, materialism is like trying to wash clothes in the drier. In that case, the impurities are simply baked in, as in the case of tenure.

Soloviev also makes room for the divinization (as opposed to obliteration) of the individual personality, which, of course, is of great interest to a Raccoon, especially me.

Specifically, Soloviev's thought integrates "all partial points of view and forms of actualization into an organic totality that annuls and uplifts all things in a manner that preserves that which is transcended," i.e., you and I. What is specifically preserved -- and this is a very Coonish sentiment -- is

"the eternal, ideal kernel of every person in so far as it has been integrated into the entirety of the cosmic body of God.... There is no ultimate absorption of all things into an absolute spiritual subject."

Again, evolution; it is not as if the Kingdom of God crashes down into history once and for all. Rather, the Kingdom "must necessarily grow into maturity just as much from within," like any other organismic entity.

True, Christ drops into history at a certain point, but it is not as if the human soil didn't have to be prepared for thousands of years, nor does it mean that we don't have to nurture and gradually assimilate this divine explosion as it ramifies through history. Again, timelessness takes time.

As Soloviev explains, this ultimate divine descent becomes a kind of fixed foundation planted within the middle of change, as opposed to being the principle of change. What is therefore sought "is a humanity to answer to this Divinity," that is, "a humanity capable of uniting itself" with this object. Evolution no longer implies an absurd, open-ended nihilism with no ground or goal, but the very basis of hominization and its fulfillment in Homo noeticus.

This then becomes "the active principle of history, the principle of motion and progress," as man evolves toward what he already is in essence, thanks to the grand-me-down of the Son, or our adopted brother. "The outcome must be man divinized, that is, the humanity that has taken the Divine into itself." And vice versa, so that the world becomes "the vessel and the vehicle of absolute being."

Which is nice.

So, is the creation ascending toward the divine, or is the divine coondescending toward the creation? I would suggest that they are ultimately the same movement looked at from different angles. God kenotically pours himself into creation, while we pour ourselves back into God, in a mutual surrender. But only if we are already partially divinized can we surrender at all.

Again, that is just one of the startling innovations of Christianity -- the idea that God "surrenders" to manhood, in the hope of raising us up again. Our task is to surrender to the surrender, so to speak. As Balthasar describes it, "the divine and integral wholeness is answered from the side of created reality by a progressive integration into that integral wholeness," but not before the "glorious descent of Agape," which makes "humanity the object of God's quest." In contrast to the blues musicians of old, we have a heavenhound on our trail.

Nevertheless, it seems that the later Soloviev was considerably more pessimystic than the early, more optimystic Soloviev, which is a good thing. While he never abandoned his Christocentric cosmic evolutionism, as he matured, he developed a much greater appreciation of the Hostile Forces that oppose the evolution, both individually and collectively. Balthasar feels this makes him a much deeper thinker than Teilhard, who had a fair amount of new-age fuzziness and happy talk about him. Teilhard definitely failed to appreciate the Dark Side.

In the case of the left -- and we see this in an astonishingly immature form in the Obama cult -- people really believed that the election of this cunning and transparently mendacious politician would lead to some kind of "transformation of consciousness," or Deepak's "quantum leap in awareness." Please. Leftism can only create a heap of rapacious ants, not any true interior unity.

Here again, this emphasizes the importance of demythologizing the spiritual space, because if you don't, you will simply fill it with your own retrograde fantasies, as does the left.

One would hope that no true conservative is foolish enough to believe that the evil in man can be transformed by electing this or that politician. If anything, a noble man such as Ronald Reagan only makes them hate all the more fervently. The left despises nobility in all its forms, and nobility is one of the first fruits of Spirit. In reducing man to matter, they rob him of his nobility and try to make up for the loss with stolen goodies, thus plunging him further into the abyss.

We have some further application to the News of the Day, being that what was soph-evident in 2009 is now undeniable to all but the permanently insane 30%:

There is "no possibility of reconciliation" between left and right, "because our first principles are completely and irrevocably at odds with theirs, and one doesn't compromise on first principles":

"divisions in the country are as sharp as ever -- as sharp as the difference between the children of earth and the children of Light. Which Soloviev would probably say is the whole point, for "the ways of history do not lead directly upwards to the Kingdom of God," but "pass by way of the final unveiling of the Antichrist, who conceals himself under the last mask to be stripped away, the mask of what is good and what is Christian."

The other day I was thinking of how Obama is not only our first un-Christian president, but our first anti-Christian president. I know we're not supposed to try to read a person's heart, but I don't buy for one moment that he's any kind of normative Christian, which is certainly borne out by his longtime membership in Rev. Wright's inverted church of Christian Marxism.

But Obama is truly the incarnation of impersonal cosmic and cultural forces that vastly transcend him. If you applaud those forces, then you support Obama. But if you see these forces as intrinsically dis-integrating, retrograde, and anti-evolutionary, then you don't. No need to get personal about it.

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