Friday, December 02, 2016

Fission for Love in All the Wrong Places

Goodnews badnews: The emergence of the individual "can be traced to the Enlightenment and its rejection of traditional authorities and beliefs, which were replaced by a high valuation of the power of reason..." (Hollander).

However, while "the release of the individual from traditional ties of class, religion, and kinship" has liberated us, this freedom "is accompanied not by the sense of creative release, but by the sense of disenchantment and alienation" (Lisbet, ibid.).

Hollander speaks to "the difficulties created by a liberating individualism in establishing and maintaining committed personal relationships," but also -- *ironically* -- "in developing and maintaining a satisfactory sense of identity."

I would suggest... well, insist rather, that radical individualism necessarily leads to a complete loss of identity. But so too does a radical "communitarianism," or collectivism, or whatever one wishes to call it.

The truth is found in the complementarity between the two, beginning with the most intimate two of all, mother-infant, much more on which as we proceed down this path. Both "reality" and "human reality" are wave-particle -- or wavicle -- all the way down (and up). The individual is a local particle of the nonlocal wave, and neither is prior. Humanness is inconceivable from any other metaphysical standpoint (e.g., atomism, materialism, idealism, etc.).

I am tempted to get straight to God's Gamble, but I first want to make sure I've plagiarized with Extravagant Expectations for all its worth. It really sets the stage for the wrong turn we've taken these past...

It's tempting to try to pinpoint an exact year or epoch, but I think it's more fruitful to locate the wrong turn in vertical space, as does Genesis. This potential turn is always before us, and you could say that the Serpent is always there bidding us to take that forked tongue in the road.

Before the rise of individualism, "Man was conscious of himself only as a member of a race, people, party, family, or corporation -- only through some general category" (Burkhardt, in Hollander). But especially in America, we hatched the radical idea that everyone is unique: "This uniqueness is the principal foundation of [our] self-esteem and sense of identity, which cannot and should not be reduced to a social role."

Now interestingly, leftism -- which flatters itself with the idea that it is "progressive" -- is actually the leading edge of a trans-historical regress to a more primitive identity rooted in race, ethnicity, gender, (non-Christian) religion, or some other general category. This is in no way "liberal," which embodied the opposite trend, toward the unique individual.

Thus, strictly speaking, the Cosmic Raccoon is neither liberal nor left, i.e., neither reduced to the group nor radically excised from it. Rather, we are proudly tripolar, vibrantly existing in the living space between the two. It is the only place to "be" -- and become.

We hear from the pundits that one reason the Democrats lost the election was their descent into tribalism and identity politics. In their reflexive flight from individualism they are truly the reactionary party, in that they are bereft of any functional ideas, but can only resort to cobbling together a ragged coalition of victim groups. We know that leftism eventually runs out of other people's money; it also runs out of victims. For now, anyway. They'll try again in 2020.

The problem is not individualism per se, but secular individualism. Consider the fact that individualism only emerged in the Judeo-Christian west. To keep the individualism and throw away the Christianity is truly analogous to dismembering the roots and expecting the leaves to thrive. Individualism must be "nourished" by a nonlocal source, or it is just Nothing writ small -- to paraphrase Don Colacho, it is just man puffing up his emptiness in order to challenge God.

Which brings to mind another Aphorism or two: "The importance it attributes to man is the enigma of Christianity." And "Man is important only if it is true that a God has died for him."

Ultimately, what makes the individual so precious is that he is loved by God. If not, then to hell with it. Democrat politicians affirming our existence by feeling the pain of our victimhood is a pathetic substitute.

One of the central themes of Extravagant Expectations -- it's in the title -- is that the lurch into secular individualism has placed a tremendous strain on marriage. Because this type of person is cut off from the very roots that made him possible, he tries to recover the connection with another person, but the relationship cannot bear the strain: "people demand from personal relations the richness and intensity of a religious experience" (Lasch, ibid.).

Thus, "Family instability has been a major outcome of individualism as it has replaced the traditional collectivism of the past. Traditional societies demanded loyalty to time-honored, prescribed social roles and social bonds, a sense of duty, and absence of concern with 'self-fulfillment'" (ibid.).

But here again, Christianity actually exists between these two extremes, as it is essentially a formula for relatedness, such that the Self individuates via Love.

Think of the idea of a Trinity of love; love is the very "glue" that binds it in oneness. Or in other words, absent love, the Trinity would be three separate ones instead of a oneness-in-three and threeness-in-one. Three is a quality, not a quantity.

Compare this to nuclear power -- the power of which comes from the bond between the particles. Destroy that bond through nuclear fission, and tremendous power is unleashed. The resultant power is a reflection of the force that had held the particles together in nuclear love.

Is it possible that something analogous happens when we break apart the Trinity? We might think of secular individualism as a kind of ontological fission that releases tremendous destructive power. But doesn't this go all the way back down to Genesis 3, which speaks to our fusion with God, followed by the primordial fission?

We'll have much more to say on this as we proceed through God's Gamble, which I highly recommend to all Coons and Coonettes. I'm only up to page 85, but there is already enough to provoke a monthsworth of posts.

At any rate, one thing that can occur as a consequence of our fission expedition through history is a crisis of identity: "Americans regularly experience identity crises, that is to say, at times they are not sure who they are, astonishing as this may sound to those who did not grow up in this society" (Hollander).

Indeed, over the years I have conducted countless psychological evaluations of second- and third-world types, and not once has one of them had anything resembling an "identity crisis." For most of them it is because they are still rooted in more primitive modes of identity, or fusion with the group. Fission has yet to occur. Which, of course, is why Democrats want them to flood the country. They are needed to complement their herd of rootless pseudo-individuals.


JP said...

"However, while "the release of the individual from traditional ties of class, religion, and kinship" has liberated us, this freedom "is accompanied not by the sense of creative release, but by the sense of disenchantment and alienation" (Lisbet, ibid.)."

I've always thought of this as being like Wile-E Coyete running off the edge of a cliff.

It's all fun and games until you realize that you are no longer standing on the ground.

julie said...

One of the central themes of Extravagant Expectations -- it's in the title -- is that the lurch into secular individualism has placed a tremendous strain on marriage.

Yes, absolutely. I was at a very secular wedding recently; in the midst of encomiums about eternal love for one another in the absence of any reason to believe in eternity, the (female) minister took a break to bring up the emergency bottle of wine - sort of a "break this in case of impending divorce" gift. Because naturally, when inevitably the person you married turns out not to be divine, you should skip the whole "for better, for worse" bit and just move along until you find your bliss. Instead of vows to stick together (which hardly anyone expects to have to abide by, anyway), they promise to talk things over and try to remember why they liked each other and if that doesn't work, well, at least there's wine.

julie said...

JP - yes, exactly.