Friday, November 21, 2014
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Getting Your Heart & Mind in Order (In That Order)
Therefore, knowledge must always be subordinated to something beyond knowledge, at risk of sinking beneath itself. As Green writes, knowledge may well fuel pride, as in the timeless stories of Adam, Prometheus, Icarus, Gruber, and countless others.
But this should not discourage one from seeking knowledge, any more than Charles Manson's impending nuptials should steer us away from sex. In short, misuse of an object or idea does not detract from its proper use.
"The fact that knowledge can puff up," observes Green, illustrates the point that "knowledge is inherently a moral reality," and "can be used for good or ill" (emphasis in original).
This is elementary, similar to the principle that rights not only come with responsibilities, but that the responsibilities must be prior to the rights. In other words, you cannot give rights to an irresponsible entity, or one without free will. You can't give a bear the right to roam free through a city. Why? Because the bear has no responsibility.
The left, of course, never stops talking about rights, but these rights are always in the abstract, disconnected from the responsibilities that legitimize them. The notion of rights without responsibilities is precisely analogous to the absurdity of knowledge without truth or art without beauty. Not only is the one severed from the other, but rights, knowledge, and art are deprived of their sufficient reason. They become meaningless if not pernicious.
Want to confuse a liberal? Try this: let's assume for the sake of argument that you have the constitutional right to abort your baby. What is the corresponding responsibility in which this right is grounded, and without which it makes no sense? Remember, it must be something even "higher" and more fundamental than a dead baby. What could it be?
Now, one of our cosmic principles is that any truth speaks of the One Truth. It is this latter to whom (or in whom) our knowledge is ultimately answerable. "[W]henever we come to know something, our very capacity to know is brought about and sustained -- in every instance -- by God." So long as we bear that in mind, we avoid pride on the one hand, and the temptation of a false absolute -- idolatry -- on the other.
Yesterday I had a conversation with the mother of one of my son's friends. He's extremely bright, full of philosophical and theological questions that don't occur to most adults. He's also very interested in science; at nine years old, Stephen Hawking is one of his heroes. Therefore, he was quite distressed to learn of Hawking's pronouncement that God doesn't exist.
This is a fine example of knowledge not only severed from truth, but even from the possibility of truth. It's an elementary metaphysical error, entirely self-refuting but self-aggrandizing at the same time. It equates to saying: "there is no God, and I am that one." For if God doesn't exist, obviously only He can know it.
I would add that Hawking's denial serves as a kind of implicit acknowledgement of God. As Green writes, "all persons, at some fundamental level, know God but suppress this knowledge."
As we have discussed in the past, since our human personhood exists in a vertical space, we are just as prone to repress the higher as we are the lower. Just as one can only pretend that the unconscious doesn't exist, one can only pretend that the supra-conscious doesn't exist. But once one stops pretending, one sees evidence of both everywhere.
Imagine the vertical as an AM radio band reaching from 540 to 1600 kHz. The average station is set somewhere in the middle, at 93, or 1070, or 1110. But the rest of the band is always there, waiting for someone to tune into the frequency. Much of what we call "higher knowledge," for example, is just regular knowledge tuned to a higher frequency.
Take the example of a church. On the one hand it's just a building, not fundamentally different from any other. But tune into the higher sacred frequencies, and it is transformed to "heaven on earth." For that matter, a sacrament is an occasion for the inflow of those higher frequencies.
This also goes to why we cannot comprehend certain evils and certain people. We just can't pick up the frequency they are hearing. This is because "The mind's pursuits are always, and without fail, related to one's 'loves,' or to the state of the heart.... we really cannot know what we do not love" (Green).
This would explain a great deal -- for example, why Obama doesn't understand the constitution, and why we do not understand his animosity toward it (or toward Israel, or the police, or our military, etc.).
Well, the contractors are back, so that's the end of this post.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
The Last Honest Liberal vs. The Spiritual Lepers
(Here's another good summary of his angelic work.)
Everything I have ever written about the left is encrapsulated in this story, which reveals the corruption at the heart of the media-academic-government complex. Each is rotten to the core, but is kept from collapsing on itself by leaning on the other two for support. For example, a non-corrupt media would have exposed Obama's rot before he could even have become a viable candidate. Likewise, a non-corrupt academia would never have borne Obama upward on wings of affirmative action and neo-Marxian ideology.
Look at the end of the second video, in which the honest man, Bret Baier, is attempting to pry truth from the dishonest man, Obama. Not only can it not be done, but Obama becomes edgy and indignant, when by all rights it should be the other way around.
I have seen this behavior innumerable times in the context of evaluating people who are attempting to defraud the workers comp system. An honest person welcomes scrutiny, whereas the dishonest person attempts to push away compassion and curiosity by aggressively filling the space with his narrative. Attempt to probe the narrative, and the patient will indignantly react as if you don't believe him, or as if you are conducting an aggressive cross examination on the witness stand.
In other words, the transitional space -- AKA the intersubjective space between two human beings -- is flooded with what Bion called beta elements, or raw, unmetabolized emotion. The reason it is unmetabolized is that it necessarily exists outside the more "refined" narrative; or, there is the unreal narrative accompanied by the real emotion, and the two are at odds. You essentially say to yourself: "if he's saying x, why is he feeling y? And why is y being directed at me? I didn't do anything."
What is so refreshing about Gruber is that he is the Last Honest Liberal -- or at least the last honest one I've ever encountered.
To be perfectly accurate, there are actually many honest liberals. We call them conservatives. True, there are many conservatives who were once liberals mugged by reality. But countless others, like myself, are former liberals appalled by the deception, illogic, and agenda-driven approach to reality, whereby evidence that doesn't fit the narrative is either ignored, or, if it persists, aggressively attacked.
It is instructive to consider how prominent liberals are reacting to the "simple truth" -- the naked factuality -- of Gruber. It's like the five stages of death, although most of them can't get past denial and anger -- mostly at conservatives for bearing the message. The genius economist they once put on a pedestal is now being demeaned and devalued like a self-aggrandizing intern, except this intern has received millions of dollars of taxpayer funds for the hard work of lying to the people paying his fees.
It's quite perverse, because if he had ever told the truth to the people paying his fees, then the fees would immediately stop, as now they have. He will never earn another dime from the state, because he has committed the unforgivable the crime of TELLING THE TRUTH. I mean, it's fine to drop the mask in the presence of fellow leftists, but not with the microphone on or the camera running!
After denial and anger comes bargaining, and I have already seen some of this. For example, a host on MSNBC, in true Stalinist fashion, conceded that Gruber said what he said, but hey, isn't it ironic how great the bill has turned out?! So, what's a few broken eggs if we ended up with this fabulous omelet in the process! But really, that's just denial in disguise, a refusal to look at what the bill has done, is doing, and will do, especially when the deliberately backloaded deceptions kick in. (I see that the New Yorker takes the same lying approach to bargaining the lies away.)
The other day, Ace of Spades had a link to a short piece on how one can spot a Lie. One of the rules of thumb goes to what was said above about beta elements: liars supposedly "feel subconsciously guilty about their lie (or at least uncomfortable at being in the position of lying)," and consequently "add in unnecessary negative emotional language into their lie."
I suppose that is sometimes true, although I would frame it somewhat differently. I would say that the liar necessarily divides his soul. In order to utter the lie, he must deny the very purpose of the mind, which is to know truth. Now, one cannot deny the purpose of any organ without suffering adverse consequences. Just as the wrong type of diet may redound to, say, heart disease, the wrong type of discourse will result in soul pathology. In soul pathology there must be pain, but the really sick person forces others to feel the pain.
This pathology can become so advanced that the person is no longer capable of "feeling" the barbs that occur when he deviates from truth. Obama is at this stage: like a leper who can no longer feel his extremities, and ends up causing them so much damage that they must be amputated, Obama -- and Reid and Pelosi and all the rest -- have such advanced cases of spiritual leprosy that they no longer even know when they are lying. They have become insensate to the epistemophilic pangs of conscience. Consider how they deny even knowing who Gruber is, when there is such extensive evidence to the contrary.
Another important point about lying -- not just the occasional fib, but someone truly immersed in the Lie -- is that it always partakes of omnipotence. It is as if the real liar believes that his lies have the power to shape reality.
Which they do! Consider how the media-academic-state complex managed to impose this monumental lie-of-a-bill -- literally, the greatest consumer fraud in history -- on the citizenry! We are only having this discussion because someone couldn't help himself from telling the truth about it.
Oddly enough, this was the healthy part of Gruber -- the corner of his soul that is somehow still in tact. Yes, part of the motivation was no doubt self-aggrandization, but nevertheless, truth has hijacked stranger things in order to escape into the world.
Another telltale sign of lying: liars "are forced to make up stories, and when they do make them up, they tend to be very simple, straightforward tales. Their stories tend not to have complexity and implied background details of stories about real events."
Here again, I've seen this pattern many times in cases of workers comp fraud. As to Gruber, consider the rich detail in his accounts of visits with Obama (e.g., he paused for a cigaret), vs. Obama's simplistic denials, or his assurances that everything about the bill was "transparent." None of what he says has the ring of truth. It's too cleverly simple by half.
But at the same time, the simplistic story may be couched in overly convoluted language. This has been one of Obama's trademarks from the beginning. Supporters hailed it as "nuance," but this is more like the nuance of a corrupt defense attorney defending an obviously guilty client. It is the oily nuance of Johnnie Cohchran.
Liars seem to realize "that something is missing from their stories -- that their stories aren't life-like, in being so simple -- and attempt to pad them out by using convoluted language, and irrelevant parenthetical details, to make them appear more complex than they actually are."
Truth is simple. Defenses against it are not. Likewise, Gruber's confessions are as straightforward as one could possibly hope for. But dropping truth into the left is like stepping onto an anthill and watching the ants freak out in all directions before settling back into their orderly patterns. At the moment the left is struggling to keep its drones in line, but new shoes keep dropping on the hive every day. Give them a couple weeks.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
When Liberalism is in the Saddle, Lies are on the Move
But why should humanitarians like Jon Gruber shut up when they are doing God's work? Rather, it is in the nature of the Good that it wishes to radiate, to communicate, to share its goodness. This is why he is not only unashamed, but visibly giddy in the videos we have seen.
Now come to find out that his grubby co-conspirators not only want to gag him, but would be pleased to see him tossed into a shallow grave, maybe next to the guy who made the Mohammed video. What kind of strange goodness is this?
Above all else, human beings are wordlings. Language is what defines us, but what defines language? For the postmodernist, nothing defines language. Rather, each word refers to another, in an endless deferral of meaning. But they can't really say that meaning is deferred when they really mean it is strictly impossible.
Why then do we have the word? Apparently, if the postmodernists are correct, meaning is simply the word we use to refer to an arbitrary closure of its infinite deferral. It is precisely analogous to declaring an arbitrary end to pi, which otherwise goes on forever.
Let's try looking at this through the other end of the telos-scope: "It is not so much that the way language works helps us to understand the theology of the Incarnation, but rather that the theology of the Incarnation helps us profoundly to understand the way in which language works" (Jeffrey, in Green).
It seems that the way language works is that there is something about the world that enables it "to come to speech" (Gunton, ibid.). In other words, when we speak, it is as if speech is the "last word" of a spiroid process that must begin in God, or the Word. I would say that we can only pull words from reality because the Word is already there to be pulled.
In short, "To justify any sort of affirmation of the meaningfulness of language, we need to affirm that we really do live in God's created world" (Green): no creation, no meaning. And meaning deferred is meaning denied!
Think of how this works in practice, bearing in mind the principle that we are in the image of the creator. We begin with a silent thought, an invisible idea, which is then "uttered outwardly."
Isn't this a little like creation itself? Augustine observes that "our word becomes a bodily sound by assuming that in which it is manifested to the senses of men.... And just as our word becomes sound without being changed into sound, so the Word of God" becomes flesh without being reduced to flesh.
Even so, one never knows what will happen to an idea once it is let loose in the world (just ask God!). To speak the word is to incarnate the word, but it then must be re-incarnated in the listener, and, as in natural selection, there are mimetic errors along the way. This would imply that liberalism is analogous to an epistemological birth defect, a copying error -- assuming that somewhere in its genealogy there was an original truth, now turned monstrous.
But the issue is not just what *lies* behind speech, but what is up ahead. For example, "The notion of an ultimate telos to all language is what, of course, is missing in the deconstructionist universe..." This means that there are two ways for language that has gone off course to self-correct. The first way is to see to it that language refers to reality, i.e., to reaffirm the covenant between words and things.
But this is no assurance of ultimate truth, so we must also check our formulations against the telos of language, which can only be God: "God himself is the goal of all language," so to the extent that our ideas and theories don't point in his direction, you can be sure we have been derailed somewhere along the line.
Which is why language can be used to reach such a fallen person and lift him back up toward the Great Attractor. This itself implies that words must be accompanied by, or infused with, a kind of "generic" grace, which makes abundant sense if language indeed comes from (and returns to) God.
So, "words are instrumental in reaching out to the fallen man." They are "not an end in themselves," but "play a crucial role in leading people to" God, the "transcendental signified" (Green).
Which reminds me of something I heard yesterday on the radio. A caller mentioned how liberal elites regard voters as stupid, but the host cautioned him that conservatives do the same thing, what with our reference to "low information voters."
However, there is literally an infinite difference between the two attitudes. In the case of the left, they need to lie to us because we are stupid. Conversely, we believe that voters are only low on information, for which reason we desperately wish to communicate the truth and thereby remedy the deficit. Under no circumstances do we wish to deceive them, let alone coerce and control them. God forbid!
If words do not replace anything, only they complete everything. --Dávila
Monday, November 17, 2014
The Spiritual Unthropology of the Left
No, that's not just a rhetorical question, because the answer denotes a very different anthropology -- even an unthropology, really, since it is so anti-human. In my the margin notes to The Gospel and the Mind, I posed the questions: "what kind of person does liberalism produce?" and "What is the anthropology?"
Those questions were provoked by a brief discussion of Alan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, where he writes that "the teacher, particularly the teacher dedicated to liberal education, must constantly try to look toward the goal of human completeness..." (in Green). (Bloom is obviously referring to liberal in the classical, not contemporary political sense; in order to avoid confusion I will use the word "leftist" for the latter connotation.)
Since contemporary leftism knows nothing of "human completeness" (which it would reject on a priori grounds, i.e., a fixed human nature), this implies that an education steeped in leftism will not only fail to complete us, but actually aggravate our incompleteness and nurture a deeper alienation. It will thereby defeat the very purpose of education, and become a symptom of the disease it is supposed to treat.
It can hardly be overemphasized that Obama is our first president who is totally a creature of this illiberal, infrahuman, postmodern academic environment. A plurality of voters might well regard him as diabolical, but on a college campus, nothing about his beliefs would stand out.
For example, in The New Class Conflict, Gilder notes that 96% of presidential donations from Ivy League schools went to Obama. That is a level of ideological conformity that surpasses totalitarian states, because in the latter, people know they are being lied to and are therefore more skeptical.
And this depressing level of conformity is obviously similar in the media, so there is truly a media-academic-political complex at the root of the new anthropology: in short, it involves a system of people similar to Obama, reproducing people similar to Obama (foreseen by Bram Stoker's Dracula, in that the spiritually undead survive by putting the bite on the fresh living).
What does stand out about Obama -- and accounts for his success -- is a superior ability to conceal what he is about. In other words, what stands out about him is an ability to not stand out (at least to the "stupid" voters identified by Jonathan Gruber). Most likeminded ideologues are not the least bit ashamed of letting the world know what they think (speaking of Gruber).
For example, Dinesh D'Souza's America is full of leftists who are eager to beclown themselves, even knowing what D'Souza's project is about! That is, they are so insulated, that they think they can say the same things to D'Souza that they tell their impressionable students. Thus, they are clueless precisely where Obama is clever.
For us, the mandate is to be as wise as serpents but innocent as doves; but for Obama it's the other way around: dumb as a pigeon, cunning as a snake.
Everyone is a liberal and everyone is a conservative, in that we all have things we would like to change and things we'd like to conserve. Above all, the left wants to conserve its new anthropology, since it is the key to everything else.
Just as we have "organized crime," the left may be thought of as organized vice. For most of the history of the west, vice was recognized by the majority, and certainly had no articulate collective to defend it. The notion of vice being "organized" would have been absurd, except in the sense that satan must have his own way of organizing things.
But you name the vice, and it's there in the DNC's platform: class envy, homosexual lust, racial pride, slothful welfare dependency, greedy public employee unions, feminist wrath, and a fantastically gluttonous state -- not to mention violations of virtually every commandment, e.g., idolatry, atheism, theft, dishonoring the centrality of mother and father, and the main subject of this post, lying.
"What each generation is," writes Alan Bloom, "can be best discovered in its relation to the permanent concerns of mankind." To which the leftist responds: permanent things? No way.
In the relativistic and historicist fantasy world of the left, there can be no permanent things, which goes a long way toward explaining the systematic spiritual incompleteness it engenders.
That is to say, in reality, we are only made "complete" with reference (and in living relation) to things that are not only permanent, but outside and beyond us. Exclude these things from an education, and it is like excluding the answer from the equation. Or insisting there is no right answer, just meaningless equations for which we may supply our own answers.
Therefore, ironically, there is a kind of faux completeness to the left, something that has been true since at least Karl Marx. That is, Marx had all the answers; Marxism is a complete system that unfolds with scientific inevitability (the source of the progressives delusion that the left side is the right side of history). As with Islam, if it's not in the book, then it's untrue. Likewise scientism, despite Godel's assurances that such (merely) logical completeness is strictly impossible.
And nothing could possibly be as joyously incomplete as a genuine religious education, since this education is precisely a lifelong process of completing oneself via a living relationship with permanence as such.
"No real teacher can doubt that his task is to assist his pupil to fulfill human nature against all the deforming forces of convention and prejudice" (Bloom).
Which means that academia is overflowing with unreal teachers who deny and stunt human nature with deforming forces of social convention and ideological prejudice.