Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Let's Call it a Year

No way. The spirit is willing but the brain is weak -- weakened by excessive merriment and insufficient sleep, the latter aggravated by a new Great Dane puppy as of last Friday. So, consider it an open thread for advice, criticism, complaints, loose ends, aphorisms, future directions, musical recommendations, and hangover remedies.

My musical recommendations are Morricone Bossa, Morricone High, Morricone Kill, or maybe just the career-spanning Collected in order to get a sense of the incredible range of the Maestro.

I do prefer his earlier and more unconventional works, between around 1965 and 1975. He has composed the music for over 500 films, and I read somewhere that it was because the budgets were often so low that he was forced to rely on such unusual instrumentation as whistling, Jew's harp, surf guitar, and the unique wordless vocal stylings of Edda Dell'Orso, whose collections are out of print and too damn expensive, although I was lucky enough to pick up a used copy of the first for under ten bucks. Woo hoo!

I also recommend the cult film Seconds, which is all about diabolical freedom. Imagine if you could incarnate yourself. What could go wrong?

As for magical cures, brain elixirs, and life extension tweaks, I recommend the company Bulk Supplements. I'm experimenting with several, and before today, they seemed to be helping.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Last Christmas Post You'll Ever Need

What might that be? I can't say, because the title occurred to me before the post. At the moment, all I have is a bold title with no content. Nevertheless, I trust that if I just keep banging away, a post worthy of the title will somehow materialize.

I want to wrap up the review of Freedom from Reality, not because I succeeded in summarizing it, but because I give up. It's just too... unruly. I can't seem to reduce the thing to something smaller than itself, which I like to think is my speciality. Or something I can't help doing, at any rate.

Too much noise and redundancy. Again, not to belabor the point, but my favorite writers convey almost no noise, and if they are redundant, the redundancy is not in the message. In other words, they are never wooly or diffuse. If they repeat themselves, it is in the manner of a great artist who tosses out one masterpiece after another. That's not redundancy but fruitfulness.

Also, the work of the true spiritual master is very close to the source. The more distant one is, the "longer" the channel, and the more opportunity for noise to get in and contaminate things.

Schuon, in my opinion, always speaks in proximity to the Source, which is why he is so essential, universal, and primordial. As described in the foreword of his biography, "there are authors who occasionally examine things in depth, but who, very quickly, return again to the surface. In the case of Schuon, he starts at a considerable depth, and he remains" there.

This is quite true, but what makes it doubly intense is that once there, he doesn't go all wobbly or wooly on us. Rather, he maintains the same level of clarity, which is quite unusual, or maybe you haven't gnosissed. But this ultimately makes his yoke much easier, because he's done the hard work of stripping the celestial message of so much noise at the human margin.

Back to Schindler. Toward the end of the book, he summarizes what occurs with man's acquisition of diabolical freedom, calling it a kind of "anti-redemption," which is to say, a total inversion of "the perfect sacrifice of Christ." With it, man is reduced to "the all-powerful technician and the helpless product" of his own techne.

Indeed, you might even say that man, who is always analogue, literally makes himself into a digital being.

For this is the end result of a logical atomism that, on the human level, redounds to a radical individualism in which each man lives in his own private Idaho. Instead of being oriented toward the Transcendent Third that (who) unites us all, he... well, no one put it better than Thomas Wolfe, in his priceless description of some French pinhead, a

relentlessly rational intellectual that only France loves wholeheartedly, the logician who flies higher and higher in ever-decreasing concentric circles until, with one last, utterly inevitable induction, he disappears up his own fundamental aperture and emerges in the fourth dimension as a needle-thin umber bird.

In other words, he disappears up his own aseity. Which is, yes, funny, but more importantly, 100% ineluctably true if you take logical atomism to its absurcular conclusion.

But that conclusion simply cannot be, can it? Since this metaphysic is 100% false, it makes me wonder if its metaphysical opposite might be 100% true. And what might be the inverse image of this flat and desiccated world that can't even account for its own freedom, beauty, and intelligibility? In short, in what kind of cosmos is it possible for beings to know truth, let alone error on such a grandiose scale?

That also sounds funny, but if man cannot know error, then he cannot know truth. In other words, freedom and truth go together like error and subjugation. To be in error -- in particular, fundamental error -- is to be in thrall to... to what? I would say to powers, principalities, thrones, dominions. The usual cosmocrats of the dark aion.

In other words,

Pure power and utter powerlessness now converge into one, and man becomes the abject servant of his own limitless freedom, a passive object of active power: a slave of modern liberty (Schindler).

Paradox. The bad kind.

That might require a little more explanation. In reality, freedom is again distinguishable but inseparable from other transcendentals such as truth, beauty, and virtue. Sever it from these transcendentals, and what does it become?

Blind power. The person -- who was once-upin-a-timeless intrinsically connected to his own essence-telos -- is now adrift in a meaningless world over which he has this imaginary power he calls "freedom." Free, like a man dropped into a vast desert with no map, no compass, no companions, no traditions, and certainly no hope. The Aphorist:

Upon finding himself perfectly free, the individual discovers that he has not been unburdened of everything, but despoiled of everything. So, Total liberation is the process that constructs the perfect prison. In fact, Whoever is liberated from everything that oppresses him soon discovers that he is also liberated from what protects him.

Well, it looks like this is not the last Christmas post we'll ever need. Rather, we need at least one more, but it will probably have to wait until Tuesday. We'll leave you with a couple more aphorisms to ponder in the desert:

Freedom is not the goal of history but the material that it works with.

D'oh! Now you tell me!

The prestige of freedom in a society that professes scientific determinism is a Christian holdover.

Blasphemy! Cried the devil.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Celestial Laws and Terrestrial Loopholes

Two more subtle aspects of diabolical freedom: it "proffers an object of desire while at the same time undermining the conditions under which that object could be attained in actuality."

And it presents "just itself as the solution to the problem that it itself generates" (Schindler).

The first observation reminds me of (Glenn) Reynold's Law, that "Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them." Sad!

And the second reminds me of Murray's Third Law (same link), that "The less likely it is that the unwanted behavior will change voluntarily, the more likely it is that a program to induce change will cause net harm." Sadder!

But both of these are easily subsumed by Gagdad's First Law of Leftism, which is to deny, ignore, or invert all laws of human nature. Saddest!

Which reminds me of Thomas Sowell's first lessons of economics and politics: "The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics."

If you try to provide as much as everybody wants via government fiat, you "paradoxically" create shortages, rationing, and black markets. But there is no paradox, being that this is a finite universe. Scarcity would only be paradoxical in Eden.

Then again, there must be some sort of scarcity even in Eden. Why? Because of the ontological distance between Creator and creation, finite and infinite, time and eternity, absolute and relative. Taking it one step further, isn't this the lesson of Genesis 3?

Put it this way: the first law of metaphysics is the Absolute: it exists, and you're not it. The first lesson of Man is to disregard the first lesson of metaphysics. Gravity takes care of the rest. It resembles freedom, in the sense that a falling man looks free until he hits the ground. Who was freer than Harvey Weinstein, or Matt Lauer, or Kevin Spacey?

Another subtle point, that diabolical freedom "signals a kind of desperate neediness, the response to which tends to take the repetitive and self-reinforcing form of addiction." This ontologically closed loop "lacks the inward openness in response to the other that is the form of hope."

There's a lot to unpack in that little passage. It implies that addiction -- or any compulsion, really -- is nothing less than a fruitless attempt to heal (as in whole) oneself in a way that aggravates the wound, precisely.

Indeed, from the perspective of the wound, the pseudo-cure is the wound's way to go-on-being. The process "is not only perverse; it is perversity itself, because its turning toward what is other than itself is in fact nothing more than a turning toward itself" (Schindler).

The alcoholic drinks to forget about the problems caused by his alcoholism, just as the feckless millennial attends an expensive college in the hope of obtaining a job that pays enough to repay the debt incurred by attending college.

On a deeper level this goes to the very structure of personhood, which is intersubjective and relational, both horizontally and (because) vertically. Of course we "discover" the (m)other before we discover God, but that is a function of teleology, in that final causes are ontologically first but chronologically last. Which is why it takes time to become oneself, precisely. (A distinction that goes to the difference between a paradox and an orthoparadox.)

About the isness of (m)otherhood. One of the shocks in my life has been how my psychoanalytic training (at least in my case) caused me to burrow toward a trinitarian metaphysic, while emminent Catholic thinkers such as Ratzinger and Balthasar were coming at it from the other side: burrowing toward psychoanalytic attachment theory via trinitarian metaphysics. I was reminded of this just the other day, in a passage from No God, No Science.

Which I can't find at the moment. However, the main point can be summarized in a remark that "the poles, even as they are in tension, exist strictly through each other" -- from Father and Son, to mother and infant, man and wife, intelligence and intelligibility, and throughout the cosmos. Complementarities everywhere, duality nowhere.

You might put it this way: Every I is a we, such that every is is an are. So yes, before Abraham was, I am. But before I am, we are. So, Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.

I hope that is clear, because it's kind of the whole point of existence. Last night at a little Christmas get together, I was showing off my marvelous Dude sweater while bobbling on about something having to do with the search for the cosmic area rug.

Then it occurred to me -- obvious when you think about it -- that Christ, or the Incarnation, is the cosmic area rug, precisely. Truly, it (He) is the metaphysical concept that ties up every loose end, and makes sense of critical aspects of our humanness that are otherwise inexplicable -- certainly via any kind of scientistic metaphysic.

Maybe instead of Christmas trees we should have Christmas rugs. But the gift-giving, irrespective of how annoying and transactional it can be, goes to the heart of things, being that creation is literally the gift that keeps giving. It is wholly unnecessary. It is uncalled for, except that it is, via the in-vocation of the logos.

Certainly it is why I give away my writing. A cynic might say you get what you pay for. But in my case I get what I pray for, which is another damn post for readers to en-joy. I hope.

That's kind of a blunt way to end things. Let me find an aphorism or three from a particularly fine rug maker to tie things up:

Loyalty to a doctrine ends up in adherence to the interpretation we give it. Only loyalty to a person frees us from all the indulgence we grant ourselves.

By unmasking a truth, one encounters a Christian face

Christ was in history like a point on a line. But his redemptive act is to history as the center is to the circumference.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Exhausting Flight from Reality

We need to bear down, people, and finish up with diabolical liberty before moving on.

As mentioned when we started this review a few weeks back, Schindler spends 100 pages or so analyzing Locke as a paradigmatic exemplar of modern liberty. Not a bad guy by any means, but the type of liberty he espouses is simply not sustainable; or, to be precise, it is groundless and therefore unstable -- denied its organic telos in the Real, freedom reduces to nihilism. And as the master puts it, nihilism is exhausting.

Why exhausting? More to the point, how can slack end in slacklessness? What gives?

Well, recall what was said yesterday about appearance and reality. Liberal freedom is all about the appearance of freedom, not its substance. Again, its substance is grounded in truth, beauty, virtue, and a higher unity-in-diversity. Severed from this deeper reality, it is like a planet with no sun, endlessly wandering the cosmos. No center, no destination, no direction home. Like a... rolling stone, or something.

So, now you know what Leo Strauss means when he characterizes this as "the joyless quest for joy" (in Schindler). Have you ever been in that state? Then you know how exhausting it can be. "The quest for joy is joyless because it is a pure means to an absent end." Literally, because it is what inevitably happens when you abstract liberty from its deeper matrix.

I don't want to get sidetracked, but I'm reading a biography of one of my favorite groups, the Byrds. (It's only 1200 pages, but don't worry, there's a volume 2.) They were at the epicenter of the hedonism of the 1960s, of an insanely joyless quest for joy. Keeping reality at bay is a full time job, and it is indeed exhausting. There simply aren't enough drugs -- or women, or money. It's a familiar story.

In any event, as Schindler says, the diabolical liberty of modernity ends in "the narcissism of desire, not for anything, but simply for desire itself." But you can't get there from here -- or here from there, rather. In a very real way we cease to be human, if humanness means anything. So one can get there, but you can't be there to enjoy it.

Modern liberty reduces to the meaningless power to act on desire, in an absurcular and autonomous pattern -- very much like any other dissipative structure. If you feed the structure money or power or some other narcissistic supply, it widens out, so to speak, conferring the temporary illusion of freedom.

But this is reminiscent of what Lao Tse says about the best way to control a bull: just give him a wider pasture, so he doesn't notice the fence. Diabolical liberty imprisons human beings without them even knowing it. Which is what makes it diabolical.

Notice too how the widening of the pasture is conflated with "depth." But to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it, is to skim endlessly on the surface of being.

It reminds me of a passage in the Byrds book about the insufferable -- and exhausting -- David Crosby. Regarding one of his lame attempts to write a profound song, his manager says that

David collected a lot of thoughts and phrases to make him appear smart, but he was glib. He had the reasoning and logic of a 14-15 year old who has just reached the age of reason and is so astounded by himself and the fact that he can figure out something that he thinks he's somehow turned into a god.

That was in 1966, and amazingly, he's the same rebellious and grandiose ignoramus today. He has learned nothing in life: his twitter feed reveals a drug-addledescent geezer wandering the large pasture provided by his money and fame, with a pseudo-omniscience concealing a genuine nescience. His flight from the real has been a complete and total success: this Byrd has flown.

"Precisely because Locke interprets power as separate from actuality, it is utterly without content: in itself it is nothing" (Schindler).

For to separate freedom from actuality (i.e., from its telos) is to separate mind from reality and appearances from truth. It renders the mind worthless because the truth unknowable.

It is also a life of total irresponsibility, in that the price of freedom is its obligation to reality. If all people were David Crosby, it would never have occurred to God to give them freedom. At the very least he would have created man with two livers.

A society can tolerate a certain number of progressives, but someone has to change their diapers. And donate a liver.

[P]rogress means advancement.... [It] can be determined only in relation to a telos, a destination, and thus the term makes sense only in relation to specific, determinate realities.

One might say that, when a person uses the term "progress" without intending any specific, concrete, actual, and end-directed reality or realities, then the implied subject of progress is diabolical.

And "to the extent that one's relation to the world is mediated by and through the diabolical, one not only will lose one's soul (as a future danger), but one has already surrendered it."

Mission accomplished.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Breaking News: The Strange Death of the Cosmos

Yesterday I had the usual slew of indiscriminate thoughtflashes. This one probably isn't an original one, and it may or may not lead anywhere, or be worthy of a post. But if you're reading this, then it means the half-baked thought did indeed make it to the finish line and achieve posthood. Otherwise I'd just delete the whole thing and start over.

It has to do with the function of intelligence, which is to discern reality from appearances. Now, if you were the devil, how would you nullify intelligence, or even turn it against itself? I can think of an easy way that doesn't even involve extensive lying, indoctrination, or exposure to college (but I repeat myself).

Rather, all you have to do is eliminate the distinction between appearance and reality, and voila, no intelligence! It reminds me of the neutron bomb, which destroys every living thing while leaving structures intact. It "only" kills people, while sparing the places they inhabit.

Now, I can think of three main institutions that function like a cognitive neutron bomb: the liberal news media, Hollywood, and public education. Each is all surface with no depth, or all appearances with no reality.

Isn't it ironic that we've lately been witnessing the Revenge of the Depth in two of these three institutions, what with the daily revelations of predation and depravity? In each case it involves someone who pretends to be one thing on the surface, but is someone else deep down. I think it's only a matter of time before academia has its turn in the pervnado barrel.

The surface is glib, shiny, and seductive. But you can't even know it's a surface except from the perspective of the depth. Eliminate the depth, and the surface is the depth. Several aphorisms come to mind, for example,

To feign knowledge of a subject, it is advisable to adopt its most recent interpretation.


The only man who saves himself from intellectual vulgarity is the man who ignores what it is fashionable to know.

Journalists are the worst of all, being that journalism is -- to paraphrase someone -- of and for the moment. There are, of course, exceptions, but journalism as such is the study and transmission of appearances. It used to be the function of history to sort it all out later.

To paraphrase someone else, journalism is the first rough draft of history. But now it's the first rough draft of rewritten history, AKA historical revisionism. Anyone can get the facts wrong, but to weave them into a grand narrative requires a historian.

In the real world, "noise" is what interferes with the transmission of information. But the news media is quite literally the noise media, insofar as they provide a kind of incessant noise between appearances and reality. They generate a flow of pseudo-information which is really a diabolical "higher noise." It has the appearance of information but is really the obfuscation of reality.

For which reason Iowahawk, of whom we are not worthy, says that Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving. A professional journalist is someone who knows which stories to asphyxiate.

In another solid gold tweet, Jim Treacher says Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn't know because they might reflect badly on Democrats.

There is a deeper principle -- or lack thereof -- in all of this, but I got a late start and now I'm near out of time. It's one of the threads running through this other challenging book I'm reading called No God, No Science: Theology, Cosmology, Biology (not challenging because of the subject matter, but because of the presentation).

Here are a couple of clues as to what's going on deep down in the cosmos, beneath all the journalism, entertainment, education, and other lies:

Though we are led to think that the universe is the province of a special science such as astrophysics or astronomy, the cosmos (or universe) is an irreducibly metaphysical and theological idea.

But modernity has essentially destroyed the soul while leaving the cosmos (disclosed by and to the soul) standing. The cosmos is now like a shell, vacated of hierarchy, truth, meaning, and spiritual depth. Deep down it has become entirely flat, such that it can no longer even account for its own intelligibility. In other words, it can no longer host the soul that intuitively perceives its nonlocal wholeness-in-being. It is a ghost town minus the animating ghost.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Unavoidable Truths and Inevitable Lies

Before moving on, a loose end. Recall our Supreme Court's sophomoric take on the meaning of freedom: At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

Now, no one denies that one has the "right" to be stupid. But the Court covertly turns this right into a kind of obligation, because if the essence of liberty is whatever anyone wants it to be, then liberty is essentially reduced to nothing. My freedom, say, to keep my own money, is indistinguishable from your freedom to take it. Some freedom.

It's equivalent to saying that "the essence of truth is the right to believe whatever we want," which is another recipe for nihilism. Worse, it's the recipe for leftism -- for multiculturalism, moral relativism, and "diversity." As Schuon puts it in one of his most important books, Logic & Transcendence,

Relativism reduces every element of absoluteness to relativity while making a completely illogical exception in favor of this reduction itself. Fundamentally it consists in propounding the claim that there is no truth as if this were truth or in declaring it to be absolutely true that there is nothing but the relatively true; one might just as well say that there is no language or write that there is no writing.

Now, that is what you call the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It is as true today as it has always been and always will be. Imagine if we had such lucid minds on the Supreme Court, instead of those four or five pompous and over-educated tools?

Education should consist first and foremost in being acquainted with truths that cannot not be. Instead, children are indoctrinated into the diabolical principle that absolute truth absolutely cannot be.

Put conversely, to systematically deny the mind knowledge of, and access to, the absolute, is the worst form of abuse. It is to undermine the very reason why we have a mind, the purpose of which is to conform itself to the true -- to distinguish reality from appearances, the real from the un- or less real, the essential from the contingent.

As Schuon puts it elsewhere,

The prerogative of the human state is objectivity, the essential content of which is the Absolute. There is no knowledge without objectivity of the intelligence; there is no freedom without objectivity of the will; and there is no nobility without objectivity of the soul.

And in his most concise but no less penetrating book (good for keeping by the bedside to seed one's dreams), he writes that "The worth of man lies in his consciousness of the Absolute."

Think about that one: we all -- those who aren't soul-dead -- know that man is somehow "different," and that he is of ultimate value. Why? On what basis? The Golden Rule? Yes, that's a good start, but there is a deeper principle involved, which Schuon enunciates. It's another way of saying that man is in the image of the Creator, AKA the Absolute. Why love our neighbor? Just because some authority told us to? Or did the authority tell us to do this because it reflects the truth of things -- that our neighbor is as much a reflection of God as we are?

As we've discussed before, there is obviously a horizontal continuity between man and animal. However, there is also a kind of -- literally -- infinite discontinuity on the vertical plane. No animal can conceive of the Absolute, or love his neighbor, or freely choose good over evil, or know truth, or be objective and disinterested.

Schuon says something above that dovetails nicely with our ongoing discussion of diabolical liberty, that "there is no freedom without objectivity of the will." You will note that this is precisely the opposite of what the Supreme Clowns say -- that freedom is 100% subjective, with no rational telos whatsoever. They might just as well say -- again, literally -- that "at the heart of law is the right to do whatever the hell you want to."

Which comes very close to what a modern liberal would say -- that we are permitted to do whatever we want to do -- that nothing is forbidden -- so long as it doesn't hurt someone else. Either way, it entirely drains liberty of any meaning whatsoever.

Furthermore, once down that path, it's easy enough to justify any monstrosity, from Dred Scott to Roe v. Wade. Both decisions are based on an arbitrary -- which is to say, subjective -- interpretation of freedom. Put conversely, neither decision is rooted in the Nature of Things -- those things that cannot not be.

"Separation of church and state." There is a sane principle buried in that cliché, so long as we interpret its meaning in terms of truths that cannot not be. One truth that cannot not be is that man is religious. I'm no doubt thinking about this because of another book I'm reading, called No God, No Science: Theology, Cosmology, Biology. But the type of vulgar atheism with which we are so familiar, for example, is just a banal Christian heresy. Therefore, if a leftist wants to be true to his principle, then he must also maintain a separation between atheism and state.

But that is not how the Supreme Kooks see it. Scalia writes of how, over the past half century or so, the Court has gone from neutrality toward religion to overt hostility. But since man cannot not be religious, this only ends up privileging the secular religion of the left, conveniently hiding behind the subjective "evolving standards of decency" gag.

That's about it for today. The end. No, wait. Here's a juicy passage from Chesterton, cited by Schindler:

We are fond of talking about "liberty"; but the way we end up talking of it is an attempt to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about "progress"; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about "education"; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good.

So, "Let us not decide what is good, but let it be considered good not to decide it." In short, let us all live in the comfort and safety of our own delusions, and call it freedom. After all, it is the Law of the Land.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

An Offer You Must Refuse

One of Schindler's main points is that freedom cannot be understood in isolation, but is always part of an organic whole that includes both the good and the real. This shouldn't be surprising, since the good and the real are essentially fungible: things are good insofar as they exist. How they exist is another matter, especially as it pertains to humans, since we have a hand in that determination.

Even Hitler was good vis-a-vis his sheer existence. What he did with his existence... you know the rest.

Or, maybe you don't. What went wrong? "He made bad choices," to put it mildly. But this presupposes good choices, which goes back to the idea that freedom and goodness are intrinsically related. Which modernity denies, absolutely.

Again, this cosmic heresy was ably articulated by those five illustrious idiots on the Supreme Court:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."

As we have put it before, paradise is walled by complementarities, one of which is freedom <--> good. Thus, to sever this complementarity -- as SCOTUS has done above -- is not the way to paradise. Rather, it is the way to permanently bar entry.

You might say that, prior to our vertical plunge, man is spontaneously good, such that his freedom is not misused. With the fall, this unity is broken, such that outside paradise man must endeavor to consciously put them back together. A saint is someone who has succeeded at this -- i.e., attained heroic virtue through cooperation with infused grace. Then there's the restavus.

Both freedom and goodness are real. But that is not how modernity sees it. That train left the metaphysical station a few hundred years ago, such that today we are living in the End Times of that perspective. What I mean is that reality is one, and our job is to evolve in that direction and conform ourselves to it.

But this is not the approach of the left. Rather, the precise opposite, into diabolical fragmentation, disunity, and "diversity." (As Schindler notes, dia-ballo means "to divide" and "to set apart or at odds"). This will not and cannot end well, as anyone with three eyes open can see.

Speaking of which, I wonder when blacks will figure out that race-virtue signaling leftists have the same attitude toward them as do "feminist men" toward women? A real feminist doesn't divide men and women to begin with, but rather, apprehends their unity-in-complementarity.

Same with race. Once you have divided people by race, there is no return to unity. It's either one nation under God, or no nation -- and eternal hostility -- under multiculturalism and identity politics.

Returning to the deeper meaning of diabolical, Schindler describes six essential features. Although you may not have consciously considered these before, they will be familiar to you, at least if you've ever watched CNN or MSNBC, or read the NY Times:

(1) the diabolical presents a deceptive image that substitutes for reality; (2) it is characterized by an essential negativity; (3) it renders appearance more decisive than reality, and indeed, better than reality according to the measure of convenience and efficiency; (4) it has a supra-individual dimension that is nevertheless impersonal: that is, it tends to take the form of an essentially self-referential system; (5) it is "soulless" in the sense of lacking an animating principle of unity; and (6) it is essentially self-destructive.

Boom. To the sixth power.

But how on earth does one explain this to the liberal who either cannot or will not see it? I don't know. Each of these principles (or their opposite, rather) is implicitly embodied in Christian metaphysics, but that atheistic train has also left the intellectual station. Liberals "getting what they want" is the worst possible catastrophe one can imagine, whether individually or collectively.

Which brings to mind an aphorism or three:

--Hell is the place where man finds all his projects realized.

--Earth will never be a paradise, but it could perhaps be prevented from approaching closer and closer to being a cheap imitation of Hell.

--Hell is any place from which God is absent.

Or, as Schindler puts it, "the immediate possession of all things in appearance coincides with a complete oblivion with respect to their real situation..." Inside Plato's Leftist Cave, "desires are perfectly satisfied, but only in a transformed mode, namely, in appearance." You can have it all, if all you want is Nothing, AKA freedom from reality.

This is to be really, really woke -- i.e., to be completely asleep to the Light: "what is perhaps the most diabolical of all is that we become our own jailers, since the imprisonment is subjectively experienced as the most complete liberation, offered in place of the inevitable burden of the real. It is precisely its being a bargain that reveals its provenance from the devil."

"Progressives." Those who live in the twilight of history imagine that the day is being born when night is approaching.

So, put on your armor of Light, and don't let the disilluminati get to you.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Endless Layers of Dissemblance and the Lefthand Way to Auto-Divinity

A note to myself in the margin suggests the following passage would be a good start in our attempt to wrap our minds around diabolical liberty and its Freedom From Reality. I actually referenced it a couple weeks ago, but then got sidetracked. So let's begin again:

Modern liberty is, in sum, a deceptive and ultimately soul-destroying illusion, which cuts one off from, and indeed sets one in opposition to, God, the world, other people, the community as a whole... and even oneself, so that one's inner being, in its congenital blindness to the inner reality of everything else without exception, is smothered by endless layers of dissemblance.

Endless layers of dissemblance. That's our world, alright. Just think, for example, of the endless l's. of d. that are being exposed by the very existence of a President Trump -- in other words, the bottomless layers, liars, and lawyers of the Deep State. Conversely, imagine how these sinister players would have been smothered by additional layers had Clinton been elected.

Indeed, how would you characterize a Clinton? I can't think of a more accurate description than layers of dissemblance. What is beneath the dissemblance? Yes, more dissembling. Interestingly, if Schindler is right, then there is no there there: each lie simply conceals another, such that it is obfuscation all the way down (and in).

Thus, one day Clinton is an unwavering supporter of traditional marriage, AKA marriage. Next day, supporters of traditional marriage are deplorable. Was she lying then, or is she lying now? Neither. She is a lie, and the lie is in service to power. It is not the "opposite" of truth, but the negation of its very possibility, as alluded to by Schindler.

At least we always know what liberals are thinking, since they attribute their thoughts, emotions, and motives to others. As such, we can see how they have projected a web of dissemblance onto President Trump, AKA Russian Collusion. This grand conspiracy consists of layer upon layer of vaporous allegations, surrounding a total vacuum. Or, surrounding the DNC's collusion with Russia to defeat Trump via the infamous dossier, itself a diabolical crock.

At any rate, "Modern liberty is not merely an instance of the diabolical, but is, we might say, diabolicality itself." As such, there is nothing modern about it per se; what makes it modern is the total forgetfulness of where it comes from, and the elevation of diabolical liberty to the ideal.

In other words, it is not just the inversion of reality -- for that is a consequence of the fall -- but the insistence that this inversion is normative. You might say that, instead of falling downward, the ideologues of diabolical liberty pretend that we fall upward. But this upward fall always requires violence and coercion; the bigger the lie, the bigger the government needed to force us to believe it.

I hope that is clear, because it is literally true. But sometimes I feel as if I can't quite reach the words I need to describe the reality I'm seeing. The point is, Genesis 3 is a mythic formulation of metaphysical truth. I don't like the term "noble lie," because the myth really involves the transmission of a timeless and universal truth that transcends the ego. It is not illogical, just beyond the limits of terrestrial logic (which can only be circular).

In the first sentence of this post, I alluded to the attempt to "wrap our minds" around the concept of liberty. However, in truth, this is something we can never do, for we are contained by liberty, rather than vice versa. If we could contain liberty, then we would be God. So, strictly speaking, we cannot "understand" freedom, only live it.

Of course, we are free to deny freedom, but then we literally cannot understand anything. The denial of freedom -- as in, say Marxism or behaviorism or Darwinism -- results in a descent into permanent and total stupidity. But it doesn't end there. Rather, this total stupidity will be surrounded by layers of dissemblance.

Now, even a child -- or perhaps especially a child -- can see through the layers of dissemblance. For example, ask a Darwinian where truth comes from, and how human beings can know it, and you will be treated to a blizzard of dissemblance. Likewise, ask a physicist what caused the big bang, or a geneticist what causes all the symbolic information, and prepare yourself to be bamboozled.

Why does man insist on trying to do it himself -- by denying the intrinsic otherness of truth and reality? Genesis doesn't really say, does it? Or, it's a little vague: ye shall be as gods. It seems that this is the first and last temptation: it is ontologically first, and chronologically as recent as this morning's headline, whatever it is.

Put it this way: we can have a relationship to the truth that is anterior to us; or, we can presume to possess the truth. But in the case of the latter, we are really pretending to be the truth, which is to say, God. Therefore, it's really our own lame attempt at the Incarnation, isn't it?

We're again getting close to the fire, where words start to melt, but knowledge follows being, and being is relationship: what Is is being-in-relation. You can't "know being" (in its totality) because it is being that knows in every act of knowing.

I recently reread Schuon's Stations of Wisdom, which contains some of his most challenging essays, but they are challenging precisely because of proximity to the essence of things, where words begin to fail. But try this on for size:

Some people see a kind of incompatibility between metaphysics -- which they confuse with the more or less logical constructions of the discursive mind -- and the love of God, of which they seem to see only the most human side.

But I am here to tell you that

the love of God is something universal: the term "love" designates not only a path depending on will and feeling, but also -- and this is its broadest meaning -- every path insofar as it attaches us to the Divine; "love" is everything that makes us prefer God to the world and contemplation to earthly activity, wherever this alternative has a meaning.

In this context, this blog is nothing but the love of God, every morning, delivered fresh to your vertical door. In the same context, you can see how and why the contemporary left is and must be a hate cult surrounded by layers of dissembling. Not fake news, but fakery, period.

For "the first act of Adam and Eve, after eating the fruit is the self-protective gesture of fashioning a covering for themselves," in which they "hide from God." In the resultant cosmic inversion, "things that had initially mediated an intimacy between God and the creature have now become means to keep the creator at a distance" (Schindler).

This all very much reminds me of an Aphorism, that In order to challenge God, man puffs up his emptiness. Specifically, he puffs up the emptiness by surrounding it with layers of dissemblance. Dip him in water, though, and all his impressive plumage is shown to conceal a naked rat.

Friday, December 08, 2017

What Does the Left Want? Freedom! From What? Reality!

Back to diabolical liberty and how it gets that way. Yesterday I was reminding my son that life consists of time. It's all we have, and then it stops (at least on this plane). But time in the absence of freedom would be just... duration, I guess.

It seems like T minus F would be rather tedious, but boredom can only be conceived from the perspective of choice and possibility. My son sometimes asks if our dogs are bored, since they spend most of their time nodding off with glazed expressions. I don't think so. It's just that when affection, treats, walks, or danger from the UPS man aren't in the offing, the world must go kind of blank. Like how your computer goes to sleep if you don't give it something to do.

But man is a reflection of both absoluteness and infinitude, the former going to truth, strength, and virtue, the latter to possibility, novelty, and change.

For our purposes, possibility is another word for freedom (or, as they say, "no alternative, no problem"). However, mere possibility is no better than a dog's life, because that would revert to the essence of the diabolical: if everything is permitted and nothing is forbidden, then Dirty Harvey and his ilk become the ideal.

And don't think there aren't billions just like him. Indeed, the recent outing of so many Hollywood sleazebags and liberal newsfrauds proves the point. What motivates these men? If they simply have the power to actualize the freedom we all secretly desire, then to hell with freedom!

Real freedom -- the nondiabolical kind -- is always present in a much larger context. The moment it is severed from its telos, it becomes diabolical. Thus, to repeat an Aphorism from a few days ago, The proclamation of our autonomy is the founding act of Hell.

As such, The idea of “the free development of personality” seems admirable as long as one does not meet an individual whose personality has developed freely. If you meet such a person, run away! Certainly don't meet with him alone in a hotel room.

That reminds me. Yes, land of the free, but home of the brave; in other words, freedom + courage. And what is courage? It is the resolution to do the right thing in the face of adversity. I remember Bill Maher calling the 911 terrorists "courageous." Wrong. Like freedom, courage severed from its telos is an egocentric or indiscriminate rashness. If courage is evil, then to hell with it too.

Another aphorism to bear in mind in light of these beta predators such as Lauer, Conyers, and Rose: Poverty is the only barrier to the throng of vulgarities that whinny inside souls.

Anyone short of a saint has mind parasites of various types and dimensions (indeed, so too does the saint, except that he has transcended and mastered them). But many of these critters are latent, so to speak, unless infused with power. It is very much as if the power breathes life into them, in an inverse analogy to God in-breathing the human soul.

So, diabolical freedom is a kind of demonic in-spiration. The other day I saw a video of Jordan Peterson, who touched on this, albeit from a different angle. He adverted to studies showing that happiness is correlated with money up to a certain point, after which there is no correlation at all, and often an inverse one.

For example, if you are a cokehead and win the lottery, things are not going to end well. Likewise, if you are Michael Jackson, or Matt Lauer, or Keven Spacey, or all those prematurely dead rock stars: money and power simply breathe life into the mind parasites -- spiritual retroviruses -- that circumstances normally prevent from coming out to play.

But lets zoom out and consider this from a cosmic perspective: in the West, we enjoy a kind of affluence that was available to fewer than .01% of past human beings. To the extent that our ancestors appear more "virtuous" to us, we must remember that they had far fewer temptations, not to mention the fact you can only get into so much trouble if you are, one the one hand, performing backbreaking work from dawn to dusk, and on the other, always pregnant, with no cheap Mexican labor to cook and keep house.

Thus, if contemporary society is crazy and getting crazier, it is because of the in-breathing of diabolical freedom -- very much like those otherwise innocuous embers a few miles away from me, bursting into flames because of the Santa Ana winds.

This must be why the milloonnial generation -- or whatever you want to call it -- is the most fragile in the nation's history. For to say that your biggest problem is hurt feelings as a result of other people expressing an opinion with which you disagree, is to boast that you have no problems at all.

But obviously you have a big problem, because you are proclaiming to the world that you are unfit to endure freedom -- the nondiabolical kind. And your only solution is to place the rest of us in cages -- like the sheltered prince who would rather carpet the world than simply toughen his feet or wear shoes.

As mentioned last week, this book is too sprawling to wrap my mind around. Let's begin with some notes to myself in back (which may or may not be direct quotes) -- for example, "the power to do good can be as evil as the power to do bad, if it is power only." Boom. That is what you call a knockout blow.

The secular left is not only atheistic but anti-theistic, at least as it pertains to the real God. Therefore, it is literally the case that for them, truth reduces to power; or power shielded by the self-styled "good intentions" of the person wielding it.

Put conversely, for the left, there is nothing we can't accomplish with a combination of concentrated power, good intentions, and other people's money! For proof, just look at what Obama accomplished by creating more debt than all past administrations combined. Paradise!

Speaking of which, the left's hysteria since November 2016 is just a mirror image of the hysteria they exhibited through eight years of Obama. For them, Obama and Trump are just reverse caricatures of one another.

This will take us down another distracting rabbit hole, but the point is, leftists got exactly what their hearts were yearning for in 2008. So, heaven on earth, right? No, nothing changed, except for the worse. But do they have any insight into this? Of course not. Like any other mental patient in flight from personal responsibility -- AKA ordered freedom -- they simply want to resume that comforting dream.

Here is another note to myself, one that Schindler emphasizes throughout the book: that diabolical freedom is parasitic on the very reality it abolishes. Think, for example, of the redefinition of marriage. It is obviously parasitic on the real thing, i.e., natural marriage. The left used to be more explicit about the goal of weakening the family, but my guess is that the majority of leftists probably don't even realize that that is the real endgame.

Once again I find myself hovering around the subject of the book without fully diving in. We'll try harder. Next week.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

The World Wide Counter-Web

The diffusion of a few drops of Christianity into a leftist mind transforms the idiot into a perfect idiot. --Dávila

Continuing with the False Promise of Big Government, it's a little like Genesis 3 All Over Again, isn't it? For the promise of Big Government is another phony attempt to beat the system -- the system of reality.

Now, there are systems that can and should be beaten. Indeed, a large part of "fallenness" involves falling into a kind of world wide existential system to which, in many ways, we cannot avoid adapting.

Imagine being born into a crime family, like the Mafia or the Clintons, and not knowing any better. Well, the human species is a kind of crime family. Or maybe you're unacquainted with this thing called history. But God knows: Christianity assumes the misery of history, as Christ assumes that of man. (Dávila).

BTW, yesterday I was reminded of Jesus' friendly warnings to the rich. But back then, wealth was based upon theft, slavery, and plunder. There was no meritocracy, no upward mobility, no secure private property, and no rule of law, so the wealthy were more like thieves than capitalists.

About our being caught in the world wide web, here are some fine aphorisms:

Where Christianity disappears, greed, envy, and lust invent a thousand ideologies to justify themselves.

The Christ of the Gospels is not concerned with the economic situation of the poor, but with the moral condition of the rich.

In the Christianity of the leftist Christian, one of the two elements sooner or later eliminates the other.

Only the Church considers itself a congregation of sinners. All other communities, religious or lay, feel themselves to be a confraternity of saints.

He who claims equal opportunity ends up requiring that the gifted be penalized.

World Wide Web. That reminds me of something. Ah yes, an editorial I've been saving from a couple of weeks ago by Glenn Reynolds on the role of social media in spreading disease -- not biological diseases but cognitive, and I would say, spiritual, diseases:

[I]n recent years we’ve gone from an era when ideas spread comparatively slowly, to one in which social media in particular allow them to spread like wildfire. Sometimes that’s good, when they’re good ideas. But most ideas are probably bad; certainly 90% of ideas aren’t in the top 10%. Maybe we don’t know the mental disease vectors that we’re inadvertently unleashing....

We don’t know much about the spread of ideas, or what would constitute the equivalent of intellectual indoor plumbing. (Censorship isn’t enough, as it often just promotes the spread of bad ideas that people in power like). Over time we’ll learn more. Maybe we’ll come up with something like the germ theory of disease for ideas.

Or, maybe we already have something like the germ theory of disease for bad ideas. I know I do, anyway. Reynolds himself provides a hint: "Better nourished minds are likely more resistant to social-media contagion." Specifically, proper vertical nourishment is without question the best defense against the empty but destructive calories of purely horizontal ideologies.

Thus, for example, "The Church’s function is not to adapt Christianity to the world, nor even to adapt the world to Christianity; her function is to maintain a counterworld in the world" (Dávila).

You don't have to take that literally in order to understand that you need to anchor your thinking -- indeed, your very being -- in the sheetrock of Principles that Cannot Not Be, which serve as a counterworld to the fallenworld.

As you know, I am currently surrounded by flames. There is nothing political about the flames, any more than there is something political about gravity. But this morning I stumbled across the following tweet by some liberal celebrity: "Just evacuated my house. It's like Donald Trump is setting the world on fire. Literally and figuratively."

Of course. Who doesn't see it?

Er, the sane?

Back to the main subject at hand. I only have time enough to quote a couple of relevant passages from the book, and let you do the myth. They don't really require any commentary on my part:

The nongovernmental institutions of civil society transmit to each new generation those virtues without which free societies cannot survive. When these institutions function properly, they help prevent people from becoming too dependent on government. They also unify people and empower them to control government....

So a vicious circle ensues: the more the federal government drains the energy and independence of the social and mediating institutions, the more that individuals become increasingly atomized and separated; and the more individuals become disconnected, the more a centralized government steps into the void.

Let us recall that The proclamation of our autonomy is the founding act of Hell (Dávila). This fall into pseudo-autonomy is followed by the wrong kind of dependence. For ultimate reality is relational, not atomistic; it is not atoms-in-relation, but relation-in-atoms. Big government is one more attempt to undo the effects of the fall, way downstream from where it has occurred.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The War on Spiritual Poverty

With the generosity of his program does the liberal console himself for the magnitude of the catastrophes it produces. --Dávila

After submitting the previous post to a candid world, I read a brief book that dovetails perfectly with its theme, called The False Promise of Big Government: How Washington Helps the Rich and Hurts the Poor. The title is quite literally true, in that America's four wealthiest counties (and seven of the top ten) surround Washington D.C.

The author reviews six reasons why statism is inevitably destructive, five of which go to more material concerns. Here at One Cosmos we are more preoccupied with the spiritual rot it engenders.

As Ronald Reagan famously said, "The lessons of history" demonstrate

conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.

Fooled you! That was FDR in 1935.

How could Kingfish Liberal say such a thing? Because 80 years ago it was still possible to state the obvious. The left's War on Noticing had not yet begun in earnest. It was undoubtedly there -- it always is -- but not to the point of totally engulfing the media, academia, entertainment, and politics. In short, liberals used to be liberal. Or at least not flagrantly illiberal, as is the case today.

An actual liberal believes in limited government. Contemporary liberals believe in unlimited government. I mean, if government can force you to bake a cake for people who engage in practices you deplore, then what can't it compel?

It reminds me of something Thomas Sowell often says: that laws and policies, whatever else they do, create systems of incentives, and these incentives may be totally at odds with the stated purpose of the l. or p. For example, what if the multi-trillion dollar "war on poverty" is a vast system of incentives to engender more of it?

For as FDR famously said in 1935,

Our American answer to poverty is not to make the poor more secure in their poverty but to reach down and to help lift themselves out of poverty and move with the large majority along the high road of of hope and prosperity. The days of the dole in our country are numbered.

Probably didn't fool you with that one. That was LBJ in 1964. Since then the days of the dole number close to 20,000, so technically he's right.

At any rate, those comments by FD and LB show that conservatives only believe what prominent liberals once believed -- or at least said -- for which reason we are now called fascists. You know, like other fanatical supporters of limited government such as Adolf Hitler.

Each generation must learn anew the disastrous consequences of big government. But don't worry. Big government has that covered too, since you can sail through 12 or 16 or especially 23 years of Big Education without ever hearing about the disaster.

And why would you? Public education will not inform its captives of the virtues of vouchers, any more than your drug dealer will take you to rehab and offer to pay for it. Satan himself never compels. Rather, incentivizes.

Speaking of Big Education, it seems to me that job one of the left is to eliminate the soul. Once the soul is out of the way, then it cannot be damaged or destroyed. Of course it is still subject to damage and destruction, but the problem will be misdiagnosed, projected, and displaced elsewhere.

Does it surprise you that Hollywood and the media are populated by soulless predators? Only the soulless should be shocked at that revelation. For it is written (by the Aphorist):

The stupid are surprised by stupidity and the corrupt by corruption. The intelligent and the innocent are less easily disconcerted.

A variant of "you can't cheat an honest man."

I just looked at Drudge, and now I'm distracted by the fire that is only about ten miles alway. No threat to us, but it's hard to turn away from the TV when the usual morning commute is going up in flames. In other words, to be continued. After a few pointy ones from the Aphorist:

As the State grows, the individual shrinks.

The progressive Christian’s error lies in believing that Christianity’s perennial polemic against the rich is an implicit defense of socialist programs.

The leftist emulates the devout who continue venerating the relic after the miracle has been proved to be a hoax.

Monday, December 04, 2017

One (Former) Nation Riven by Diversity, AKA Hell

Today's aphoritizer, courtesy Dávila: The proclamation of our autonomy is the founding act of Hell.

Let's analyze all the ways in which this is True.

First of all, it sets man in opposition to God, for "In the serpent's reinterpretation of the order of creation, God's will and man's become reciprocally exclusive" (Schindler).

It also sets man in opposition to man, in the sense that "wills founded on goodness are intrinsically related to one another," whereas "wills founded on power have an essentially competitive relationship to each other..." This highlights the importance of the -- for lack of a better term -- "pneumatic third" that unites human groups.

In fact, a group is defined by its pneumatic third, bearing in mind that there exist bad spirits (boy and how). One of the overarching themes of the OT involves God's effort to get his people organized around the real pneumatic third, rather than its countless alternatives, such as Moloch. Moloch organizes people as much as God does, but not really. Moloch, like his disciple Marx, is the god of the ant heap.

How so? Because organization around Moloch can only be partial and exterior, rather than total and interior. You might even say that God is the "interior totality" without which the cosmos is reduced to the metaphysically sterile logical atomism discussed in the previous post.

Among other things, Moloch demands human sacrifice in order to engender his faux unity. Thus, to paraphrase Gil Bailie (or Rene Girard), human sacrifice is "unanimity minus one." While you may not be the one, there is always the implicit threat that you will be if you endanger the group unity trance. The liberal media are always on the lookout for today's sacrificial victim.

Consider how, say, Clarence Thomas, or Senator Tim Scott, threaten the group unity trance of liberal blacks. The latter constantly preach "unity," but this is a unity in defiance of reality -- like Colin Kaepernick and his imitators, who know less than nothing about the problems they claim to be protesting. Put conversely, if they were conversant with reality, they'd cease their opposition to it at once.

Yes, it is possible for good people to be wrong, which is to say, opposed to the good. How to tell the difference? Well, a good person only opposes goodness accidentally rather than essentially. Once he realizes the mistake, he feels shame and rectifies it immediately.

Not so the person who has made himself essentially bad, such as Al Sharpton, or Gloria Allred, or Hillary Clinton. It is certainly not my job to consign their souls to hell, but I don't think it is polemical or above my praygrade to notice that their souls are willfully organized around various false absolutes.

Moreover, these descendants of the Serpent proudly and conspicuously hate the good, even going so far as to call it "deplorable" or "racist" or "patriarchal," so it is not so much that they are "going to hell" as are its co-creators. As the old crack goes, they forge their fetters from their own passions.

All of this is so much common sense. For example, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance -- or standing up for the national anthem -- used to be uncontroversial, because it was an exercise -- a collective verticalesthenic -- in subordination to the psychic third.

But what are "diversity" and multiculturalism but a rebellion -- worse, an inversion -- of this truth? In this context, "One nation under God" is a pleonasm -- word of the day, pleonasm -- because there is no way for a nation to be one except under God -- or under the real psychic third, if you prefer.

Indeed, the United States is the only nation explicitly founded under this real psychic third, AKA those self-evident truths for which it is government's prime directive to protect. If the government cannot do this, then to hell with it. We're no better than any other crappy country living in some cherished delusion (as in the Middle East, excluding Israel) or nihilistic fragmentation (as in Europe).

All of this must be understood in the context of real freedom, or freedom properly understood. For Schindler, this comes down to the contrast -- or choice! -- between symbolical and diabolical freedom. Put it this way: reality is either symbolical or it is diabolical. How so?

We've actually discussed this critical idea in the past. I myself first encountered it in a slightly different guise (but same Geist) in the works of Stanley Jaki. When you get right down to it, just what kind of cosmos is this? What is its defining characteristic?

Well, first of all, we couldn't even be having this conversation if not for the fact that this is the sort of cosmos in which one thing can stand for -- symbolize -- another. The cosmos is absolutely saturated with meaning and intelligibility. Everywhere it not only gives itself over to (our) intelligence, but, via the Logos, from intelligence to intelligence. This is without question the most startling property of our cosmos -- its transmitable interior logos-unity-light. It is symbolical through and through.

That is my own interpretation. I don't know that Schindler would sign off on it. However, in discussing the primordial calamity of Genesis 3, he notes that "a denial of the truth, a reinterpretation of goodness as power, immediately makes what had been a symbolical unity into an internal strife. Man is cast out of the garden." Or soph-exiled.

"Exile from the garden in the most extreme sense is separation from the good; the furthest distance from the garden may be said to lie at the bottom of Plato's cave."

Which raises an important point: yes, man is fallen, but with varying degrees of distance from the Principle. Indeed, what is the spiritual journey -- the Adventure of Consciousness -- but the Father-Principle returning to himself via his middling relativities, AKA us, his adopted sons?

Another name for diabolical freedom is "perception is reality." This represents a total cosmic inversion -- it is the solipsistic burial of one's head up one's aseity. It is not only living in Plato's cave, or at the bottom of a well, but refusal to look up or out. And compelling others to do the same. For example, what is a government education but indoctrination into the shadows of some diabolical pneumatic third?

I well remember how, as a child, "nothing made sense." Or perhaps more accurately, "everything made no sense," by which I mean that there was no interior unity to all the things I was learning in school. And I wasn't educated in some crap district such as the LAUSD, but in an area where housing prices are inflated because parents want to get their kids into the district.

But it didn't matter. I learned countless facts of history, or science, or literature, without having a clue as to the telos that makes sense of them. I even learned about that very logocentric telos in Sunday school, but it was (ironically) equally fragmented: a seventh day fragment to go along with the fragments I learned on the other five schooldays.

Come to think of it, the only wholly unfragmented day was -- ironically -- the old sabbath, Saturday. It was given over to spontaneous play, or the uninterrupted slack of a self-healing universe.

I don't want to exaggerate the case, for the truth of the matter is that I always found interstices of slack every day of the week. Think of it as a fable, like Genesis. The point is, the real psychic third is always here, because it can never not be here.

Hell is any place from which God is absent.


Unbelief is not a sin but a punishment. --Dávila

Friday, December 01, 2017

I Loved a Zombie

The purpose of freedom is to enable us to choose what we are in the depths of our heart. --Schuon, To Have a Center

Now, man is never radically free, obviously. We are not free to rewrite the past or be another gender. Unless you are on the left, in which case you are free to do these things. But is this actually freedom, or flight from it?

Yes and no. Just as we cannot be radically free, nor are we totally determined. Rather, a mixture of each: freedom and necessity, which -- it seems to me -- are like prolongations of infinitude and absoluteness on the human plane.

In this context, necessity consists of all the things that Must Be, whereas freedom is an orthoparadoxical realm of things that might be, AKA potential. But freedom itself is a necessity, nor can it ever be radically excised from Necessity itself, AKA the Absolute. Indeed, to do this -- to treat freedom and necessity as separate things -- is the essence of diabolical freedom.

As Schindler explains, "The moment the will becomes an expression not of goodness but of arbitrary power, an essential opposition is introduced."

In paradise -- or, if you prefer, the upper vertical realm from which we are an ontological declension -- the will is not separated from its telos in the good. To turn it around, to rejoin the will to the good is the royal road back to said paradise.

The point is, freedom is always relational. This is precisely what you would expect in a cosmos that is likewise relational -- AKA trinitarian -- right down to the ground. Therefore, diabolical freedom occurs the moment we descend into an atomistic universe, which is to deny God. Three times, as it were.

You can get this principle via Christian doctrine. That is not how I first encountered it. Rather, I cobbled it together from several sources, and only later realized I had stumbled on something Christians had been teaching for almost two millennia. For me, one big hint was the irreducible intersubjectivity of the mother-infant dyad. It's not that we are intersubjective because we were all once helpless babies.

Rather, the converse: ultimately, this dyad -- and the natural family -- is an icon of the interior life of the Trinity. Thus, just as it is a Christian heresy to posit a Father-God separate from the Son-God, it is a cosmic heresy to atomize man. Other heresies follow from this, such as pretending it is possible for a man to marry a man, or that it is possible to choose one's gender, or the belief that one can have a natural right to murder one's baby.

For which reason you could say that Satan's own definition of freedom was perfectly articulated by the Supreme Court: "the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." That case is called Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but it would be more accurately called SCOTUS v. Man, God, and Reality itself.

In reading that wacky opinion, there is just enough truth in it to make it appear plausible to the unreflective. We do indeed have the "freedom of meaning," but again, if we separate freedom from its proper telos, then it immediately reduces to mere willfulness and power. It then commits the cosmic inversion of placing man in charge of defining reality, instead of being an adequation to it -- in other words, a complete rejection of human privilege and a denial of the human station. From there, hell is right around the corner.

Literally. For just as reuniting freedom with its telos is the royal road to paradise, dividing them is the cosmic U-turn in the other direction: the progressive path of Good Intentions animated by Strong Feelings. And in fact, "reuniting" is itself a misleading term; analogously, you wouldn't say that you need to "reunite" the first and second persons of the Trinity, but rather, see that they can never be separated to begin with.

Back to how Bob stumbled upon all of this. It must have been providence as reflected through the holy happenstance of amazon surfing, which puts one in contact with books one would have never encountered in a thousand years prior to the internet.

Back then, your best shot at widening your world -- or rather, gaining access to the Wider World -- was via independent bookstores run by intellectually and spiritually curious and capacious (and inevitably eccentric) people. And even then, the Search was bogged down by a lot of randomness, AKA cosmic noise.

I'll try to be brief, so as to not get too sidetracked. The author in question was an apparently obscure philosopher named Errol Harris. I see he has a wiki page, so I am about to learn some things about him I never knew -- for example, that he was from South Africa. He wrote a lot of things with which I disagreed or were irrelevant to me, but perhaps the most useful was his critique of logical atomism, which might as well be another name for the metaphysic that gives rise to diabolical liberty.

Ultimately, Harris

concludes that science supports a worldview that is relativistic, holistic, organicistic, teleological, and hierarchical in character -- a worldview contradicted by the unconfessed atomistic, mechanical, and pluralistic metaphysical presuppositions of formal and mathematical logic that are wrongly privileged by philosophical empiricism.

Better than "relativistic" would be relational, but you get the point: the world doesn't consist of unrelated monads bumping around together in the void; rather, reality is, as Norris Clarke puts it, substance-in-relation. Being is communion. You could even say it is intimate communion. Some might even say it is love, but here again, that cannot be severed from truth and beauty. Indeed, when you so much as bear witness to a beautiful sunset, you are quite obviously on unspeakably intimate terms with the universe. You are knowing it in the biblical way, pardon my French.

I didn't start to "get" this stuff until I was well into my 30s, and even then only in a piecemeal fashion. I didn't yet see the One Cosmos. My son is on much more intimate terms with reality than I was at his age (12). For example, he has taken up photography, not just to shoot snapshots, but with a real awareness of beauty. If you had asked me about beauty at his age, I would have wondered if you were doubting that I was all boy (to put it euphemistically).

We are getting rather far afield this morning, aren't we?

I'm going to dive back into Schindler and double-check, but it seems to me that he keeps saying the same thing in a thousand different ways -- that freedom severed from its telos devolves to its diabolical counterfeit. Everything becomes a cheap shadow of itself, while swallowing up the reality to which it is supposed to point.

I suppose the final common pathway of the illness is the creation of counterfeit humans, AKA zombies. Which puts our present politico-cultural divide in a deeper context. Yes, we are experiencing a zombie invasion, with President Trump standing between us and a full-on zombie apocalypse.

This reminds me of something I want to mention before sliding into the weekend. I received an email from a reader asking me for advice on how a Christian is supposed to love our zombie invaders. It's an excellent question about which I have a lot of thoughts. I don't have time to spill them right now, but perhaps this will spark a conversation over the weekend. Here are some excerpts from the letter:

In the past few years it's become more and more clear to me that some animals are more equal than others, and some populations are being asked to adhere to a higher standard than others....

It's so blatant now; professors as well as the unwashed on places like Twitter are openly saying white people should be exterminated; they say this with absolutely no fear of sanction or consequence. We are told that for the good of the planet we shouldn't have children, but then we're told we must bring in millions of nons to buttress (replace) our aging workforce.

It's all around us everyday. It's all bullshit, this moral demand for egalitarianism coupled with constant anti-white sentiment. And it's here where my excruciating dilemma comes in. How do I hold in one hand what I know; and in the other hand hold my desire to draw close to God, who demands that I love my enemies, and treat everyone with compassion, as He treats us? Is there some way to balance this and keep my integrity, to not lie to myself or God?

.... So there it is, the splinter in my mind. I guess if I could encapsulate my problem it would be to ask how can I resist society's demand that I engage in genetic self-loathing and suicide and at the same time obey God's commands to love my neighbor (and enemies)?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Diabolical Freedom and the Fall into Ismism

Before we begin, a benediction ("good words") from the Aphorist:

The free act is only conceivable in a created universe. In the universe that results from a free act.

Feel free to take that literally. Feel enslaved not to.

We are discussing the book Freedom from Reality: The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty. That is a loaded title, since it contains a number of words that need to be defined before any meaningful analysis can take place: freedom, reality, diabolical, modern, and liberty.

Let's begin with the first: what is it? Can we even know what freedom is? Or is it just a placeholder for an unknowable reality -- a container with no content, like "death." We throw that word around too, but no one can conceive of his own death, at least while alive. In other words, if you're conceiving it, you're not dead.

Perhaps the most misleading way to conceptualize freedom is to separate it from other primordial realities. Indeed, I think Schindler would agree that this is the first act of diabolical freedom: in scholastic terms, to divide act from potency, and to then elevate the latter to priority. Doing so separates freedom from its telos, which leaves us in a nihilistic flatland, devoid of hierarchy and purpose.

Wha? Can you explain that in plain English?

Edward Feser -- I think -- says what amounts to the same thing, that "abandonment of final causes" is "the original sin of modern philosophy," to such an extent that "the whole history of modern thought" can be seen "as an overlooking of the distinction between potency and act.”

That reminds me of Whitehead's gag that the history of Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato. At least up to Aquinas. After that, it's a series of footnotes to... I don't know, William of Ockham? He is the father of nominalism, and therefore the inventor of stupid.

I guess it would help to be a philosopher, which we are not. But we do remember reading Ideas have Consequences, the most adversely consequential idea of all being the abandonment of universals, and the fall into modern misosophy in all its diabolical and even tenured forms.

But not only am I not a philosopher, neither am I a historian of ideas. Therefore, I don't attempt to locate the Error at some specific point in history. Rather, the Error is somehow built into man, which is the whole point of Genesis 3: our diabolical turn is an ontological possibility, for every man at every time.

This turn can be considered from various angles, for example, the existentialist error of elevating existence over essence, which, for my money, is the same as giving priority to potency over act. It ultimately means that we have no essence; we are not created -- or worse, we create ourselves. We are "nothing" until we make the choice. You may pretend that makes you something, but you are still nothing, only a delusional nothing.

Clearly, this is the basis of the gender insanity, in which one's gender isn't given by reality, but rather, is chosen from a menu of, what, 52 flavors? The list is literally endless, because it involves the turn to a Bad Infinite. The real Infinite is of course located above, AKA God. Pursuing the infinite in the other direction only results in more fragmentation, or mindless Diversity for its own sake. This is yet one more instance of how the left is literally diabolical.

Now, the diabolical involves a primordial rejection of the Real. Okay. What is the Real? That sounds like a difficult question, but I don't think it is, because it really involves nothing more than a deep meditation on what you always already are, what you always already are doing, what you always already know (in any act of knowing), and cannot help being, doing, and knowing.

To back up a bit, when I wrote the bʘʘk, it was really a form of autobobography. I mean that literally, because the implicit question motivating the whole existentialida was How did I get here? Or, more to the point, How is Bob even possible? Or again, What must the cosmos be like in order for such a thing as Bob to exist?

These might seem like stupid or frivolous questions, but not to me. Don't we all want to know the answers to these? Indeed, everyone has some sort of answers, only bad, silly, or inadequate ones. Scientism, for example, combines all three, but it is hardly alone. Indeed, any "ism" you care to name is going to be wrong. I lump them all under the rubric "ismism," and just move on. You could say that ismism encompasses all of the diabolical alternatives to reality.

For Schindler, "Modern liberty is, in sum, a deceptive and ultimately self-destroying illusion, which cuts one off from, and indeed sets one in opposition to, God, the world, other people, the community as a whole... and even oneself, so that one's inner being, in its congenital blindness to the inner reality of everything else without exception, is smothered by endless layers of dissemblance."

Again, quite literally. Lately I've been thinking about the distinction between information and noise in scripture. Some people think there is no noise, but that is impossible, so long as humans are human and God is God. But when Jesus says that

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

You can sheer any mythological noise from that, and see it as a quite literal metaphysical description of diabolical liberty. Indeed, just prior to it, Jesus makes the famous crack that "the truth shall make you free," which is so familiar that people may not realize the metaphysical significance. It really goes to the subject of this post, which is that to imagine that liberty can exist without truth is to fall into diabolical freedom, which is another word for slavery.

Freedom from reality is not freedom, but bondage. So, feel free to take the Aphorist quite literally when he says:

The freedom to which modern man aspires is not that of the free man, but that of the slave on a holiday.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Assault on Mount Liberty

Because that's what it feels like. I'm talking about D.C. Schindler's Freedom from Reality: The Diabolical Character of Modern Liberty, which is so sprawling and full of implications that it is impossible to wrap my mind around it. As mentioned a few posts back, in terms of style, he is the anti-Schuon, such that it is up to the reader to try digest it all.

Having said that, I am absolutely convinced that Schindler has identified the central problem with man, with history, and with the world in general. You might even say that what he calls "diabolical liberty" is simply another name for the fall of man. In a way this is self-evident, because most all human problems are caused by the misuse of freedom, right? But this presupposes a proper use of freedom.

However, one of the defining characteristics of modernity has been to detach liberty from any intrinsic good, thus reducing the will to pure power. Another strand of modernity denies free will altogether, which only drains the world of any possible meaning whatsoever. If man is not free, then he is completely detached from transcendental reality, i.e., truth, beauty, virtue, and unity. Either of the modern options is not only diabolical, but the essence thereof.

This is certainly not the book I would have written on the subject. Being that I am not a scholar, I would not have spent the first 100 or more pages on a tedious deconstruction of John Locke as a representative of the philosophical turn to diabolical freedom. Why not just say why he's wrong and get on with it? I could do that in a page or so.

Come to think of it, as we proceed through the book, every once in a while I will consult Dávila or Schuon for a bracing blast of fresh air -- to call the meeting back to order and re-orient ourselves to first principles. Each of these authors slices like an effing hammer through reams of bullshit, without trying to impress academics who will never agree with them anyway.

For example, this aphorism, in a way, summarizes the whole book:

Liberty is not an end, but a means. Whoever mistakes it for an end does not know what to do with it once he attains it.

Boom! Now, that is 100% Obviously True. But this truth must be seen with vivid immediacy. If it isn't seen, then no amount of argument will convince the person who doesn't see it. For the sake of argument, let's concede that John Locke is Much Smarter than we are. So what? If that is the case, it only highlights the relative unimportance of intelligence in understanding primordial truth.

Even Dr. Strange knows this. My son is very much into Marvel Comics these days, and he convinced me to watch it with him. What an unexpectedly enjoyable film! Dr. Strange is a gifted neurosurgeon who is quite full of himself, before he has a career-ending accident that permanently maims his hands. I don't want to give the whole thing away, but at one point his spiritual guide says something to the effect of, "Your intellect has taken you this far. It will take you no further."

That's a bingo. I first encountered this vertically liberating truth many years ago, in reading Sri Aurobindo. Here's the exact passage... better yet, here is an excerpt from a post on the subject from over 10 years ago, called The Descent of Mind:

Wait a minute. I was a bit startled when I reread the first sentence, which is all about the subject under discussion: "our historical understanding and appreciation of liberty may have followed from actually living it in the form of free markets as opposed to thinking about it abstractly. In academia there is a huge bias toward the latter view, because intellectuals always want to believe that they are more important and influential than they actually are."

A synchronicity is just God punning, in this case across a decade. Back to the Passage:

Obviously, intelligence itself in no way correlates with truth. Look at Noam Chomsky, for example. He is obviously at the summit of intelligence. You can even say he's genius if you like. But what good is the intelligence, when it exists in a parallel looniverse of lies, hatred, and paranoia? The smarter the person, the more catastrophic will be their error!

.... Something similar to a descent of pure intelligence occurred to Sri Aurobindo. In his case, he didn't remain stuck there, but immediately saw through its limitations. He did not see it as an end, merely a realm that had to be infused with a higher spirit in order to attain its proper end.

The best introduction to Sri Aurobindo is The Adventure of Consciousness, by Satprem. In it, Satprem describes Aurobindo's recognition of the limits of the intellect:

"The day came when Sri Aurobindo had had enough of these intellectual exercises. He had probably realized that one can go on amassing knowledge indefinitely, reading and learning languages, even learning all the languages in the world and reading all the books in the world, and yet not progressing an inch. For the mind does not seek truly to know, even though it appears to -- it seeks to grind. If by chance the machine were to come to a stop because knowledge had been obtained, it would soon rise up in revolt and find something new to grind, just for the sake of grinding and grinding."

Critically, "That within us which seeks to know and to progress is not the mind, but something behind it which uses it: 'The capital period of my intellectual development,' Sri Aurobindo confided to a disciple, 'was when I could see clearly that what the intellect said might be correct and not correct, that what the intellect justified was true and its opposite also was true. I never admitted a truth in the mind without simultaneously keeping it open to the contrary of it.... And the first result was that the prestige of the intellect was gone!'

Some interesting comments there too, 68 in all, out of which only Julie, Van, and Joan remain. I wonder how I successfully drove away so many readers? Oh well. Here is a timeless truth from the comments: "You need, silence, aspiration, surrender, and a source of genuine grace, in a serious way. That's the only way out of the closed loop." Indeed, that is the only way to seriously deal with freedom! Anything short of it results in catastrophes of various kinds, for example, attaining what your will desires, AKA getting what you think you want.

Back to Schindler. It's hard to know where to begin -- which is ironic, isn't it, because that is the whole problem with liberty. Let's begin with a Completely Crazy opinion by the Supreme Court in 1992 (Planned Parenthood v. Casey), in which the Court attempted to nail down the meaning of liberty. After all, protection of our natural liberty (along with life and property) is the very reason our government exists, so it must be pretty important. Here is what these flaming idiot-geniuses actually said:

"At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." (By the way, I highly recommend Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived, which contains numerous instances of fine insultainment where he tears this diabolical idea of liberty to shreds.)

Why diabolical? Let us count the ways! It is very much as if the Court consists of four people with rudimentary contact with Reality, and then five Deepaks for whom reality -- including the reality of the Constitution -- you know, their Only Job -- is literally whatever they want it to be. For these robed tyrants, the essence of liberty involves defining reality any way one chooses. Is it any wonder these demon-inspired nihilists find whatever they want to find in the Constitution? Schindler:

[T]his claim to power is a devil's bargain: it comes at a cost, and the price paid is the elimination of precisely what is promised. One can have the absolute power to determine the meaning of existence as one wishes only on the condition that one's determination of that meaning amounts to nothing at all.... you and I can both have the absolute power to determine the meaning of existence only if your determination means absolutely nothing to me...

So, -- unless you are a Supreme Court justice, in which case your goofy private opinion is backed by the violence of the state -- this power to define the meaning of reality turns out to be simultaneously omnipotent and impotent. It is not freedom toward reality, but freedom from reality, which would be a good title for a book.

To be continued, likely for several weeks. We'll leave off with a few zingers from The Aphorist:

The people today do not feel free except when they feel authorized to respect nothing.

The price of absolute freedom would be a vulgarity without limits.

Man today is free, like a traveler lost in the desert.

Upon finding himself perfectly free, the individual discovers that he has not been unburdened of everything, but despoiled of everything.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Man is to Animal as Infinite is to Finite

Continuing with our re-view of The Immortal in us... speaking of which, who is reviewing whom, the mortal the immortal, or vice versa?

This is not a trick question, nor a nonsense one either, unless you mean perfect nonsense, which is what immortality is. So yes, it is perfectly nonsensical to posit an immortal soul, but mere nonsense to deny it. I will explain what I mean. At some point in this post.

Take, for example, universals, which uniquely characterize human intelligence. They are a necessary condition for abstract thought, being that they form the basis of abstraction. Frankly, one cannot say anything without deploying universals, since words are already universals.

Augros makes the point that universals cannot possibly exist in the physical structure of our brains, any more than they could on a sheet of paper. You cannot draw a universal -- say, a tree -- without particularizing it. But the fact that you can particularize it means you possess implicit knowledge of the universal.

Indeed, the drawing is proof of this pre- or trans- or foreknowledge -- a three-way knowledge between the idea, the drawing, and the third party who can see that the drawing is of a tree, and thereby retrieve the universal from the particular.

No universal could fit into the brain, since the brain is finite, while the universal is infinite: "every universal enables its possessor to know things about an infinity of individuals." Thus, our minds differ from the minds of animals "as the nonmaterial from the material." Critically, "this is no mere difference of degree," but rather, of kind.

Again, man is not a new animal, but a new reality -- very similar to how life is not just a new kind of matter, but a new world, the biosphere. Imagine reducing life to matter and calling yourself a biologist. Now, imagine reducing mind to brain and calling yourself a psychologist. Congratulations! You're tenured.

The next step is to realize that, not only can universals not be stored in the brain, they cannot be a product of the brain:

Your intellect is not a power in your brain or in any bodily organ. It is incorporeal. Accordingly, it does not depend on your brain or on any part of your body as a power depends on an organ to host it.


your intellect is to your brain as your sense of sight is to visible objects. Without visible objects, your sense of sight can exist, but it will have nothing to do. Without your brain, your intellect can exist, but it will have nothing to do.

Bottom line: your intellect "depends on your brain only for its objects, not for its power." It is in, but not of, matter. To understand the material world is to have transcended it.

Clearly, the Incarnation emphasizes this reality. In Genesis, there is the general creation, followed by the special creation of man in the course of day six. Just as Jesus is two natures in one person, so too, in a sense, are we all. In our case, clearly, we have bodies and intellects, and yet, we are one person. But Genesis 3 suggests that we have become divided -- against the world, against, ourselves, against others, and against the Creator.

"You are part body and part spirit, a mammal with a nonmaterial mind capable of knowing eternal truths. Where in the world can a being like you have come from?" Is it even possible that we came from "within" the world, a la natural selection? How can the world transcend the world? Or, how could finitude give rise to infinitude?

This infinitude of the soul converges on the Absolute, for "Cosmic evolution cannot surpass intellectual souls. They represent a destination more than a middle of the journey. They are evolution's end." And as we know, the end is chronologically last but ontologically first, i.e., the telos of material and efficient causation.

Eh. I just go back to Schuon, since he's so concise and pointed. The whole shocking Doctrine in a sharpshorting paragraph:

All the knowledge the brain can hold is nothing in the light of Truth even if it is immeasurably rich from a human point of view. Metaphysical knowledge is like a divine seed in the heart; thoughts represent only faint glimmers of it.

The imprint of the divine Light in human darkness, the passage from the Infinite to the finite, the contact between the Absolute and the contingent -- this is the whole mystery of intellection. --Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts