Friday, March 03, 2017

Flat and Explosive

Almost time to move on to the next subject, except I don't really have a particular subject in mind.

Let's conclude our little investigation into the satanic fingerprints on the hysteria, paranoia, and violence of the contemporary left with a crack by Schuon that summarizes in a sentence or two what it took us a dozen posts to convey. He adverts to various 19th century strands of humanist thought that were

"intended to achieve a perfect man outside the truths which give the human phenomenon all its meaning. As it was of course necessary to replace one God by another," the whole trend gave rise to "a new ideology, one equally flat and explosive, namely the paradoxically inhuman humanism that is Marxism."

As an aside, the book from which that is extracted, The Play of Masks, is one of Schuon's last; it was published in 1992, and while he lived to 1997, his final works consist mostly of poems.

At any rate, I've been rereading some of his late works, and they are so concentrated that it is as if he were attempting to pack the whole existentialalda into as compact a tortilla as possible. There is scarcely a wasted word, let alone sentence.

Thus, in the little passage referenced above, every word counts: one cannot conceive of a "perfect man" in the absence of conformity to the truth that renders perfection (i.e., sanctity) possible; one cannot eliminate the Absolute without substituting a false one in its place; a humanism in the absence of the divine devolves to human animalism; and a "flattened" ideology becomes "explosive" because it is essentially the Revenge of Denied Verticality.

The bottom lyin': "The internal contradiction of Marxism is that it wants to build a perfect humanity while destroying man." Which only happens everywhere it is attempted. I would certainly widen out our perspective to include fascism and Nazism in the mix, for in the end there are really only two alternatives: ordered liberty and top-down tyranny.

This tyranny occurs necessarily if we begin by denying human nature. Which the left does by definition in insisting that man has no nature, precisely.

The left claims that man is defined by his race, or class, or gender, i.e., that essence is posterior to existence. This may sound eggheadish, but it really goes to the... essence of the distinction between left and right: the left begins with existence, while we begin with essence. The rest is commentary.

For example, our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, makes some bold assertions about man's essence: first, that he is created; second, that creation entails certain intrinsic rights; and third, that it is the purpose of government to preserve and protect said rights.

Conversely, for the left there can be no "self-evident truths," since there are no evident ones -- except perhaps the self-beclowning truth that truth is inaccessible to man. If man is "just anything," then there is no barrier to forming a government that treats him as such.

The left is "half right," in the sense that there is no such thing as Man in reference to man only. Nor is there any such conceivable thing as God.

Instead, what we have down here is a God <--> Man dialectic or complementarity. Don't misunderstand me: God is in no way dependent upon man, except insofar as he wishes to be known by man. Then he "puts himself in Man's hands," the ultimate expression of this being the Incarnation.

In short, God "coon-descends" in order to commune-icate in a mode accessible to man, and it is in the resultant space that divinity -- and divinization -- occurs.

We know what happens when we eliminate God from the complementarity: "its absence brings about incomparably worse abuses than its presence," although there will always be abuses, man being what he is. Man cannot bring about heaven on earth, although hell is always within reach.

We might say that God too is "within reach," although beyond our grasp. God is beyond our grasp because only God can grasp God.

In fact, this is equally true of everything, that is, every intelligible existent. As we have mentioned before, we can only know things because they are created; but we can never know them completely for the very same reason, i.e., that complete knowledge is reserved for God.

In any event, human happiness depends upon our being in conformity with the nature of things -- their nature and ours. "Integral meaning and happiness" are "anchored in man's deiform nature without which life is neither intelligible nor worth living." Man is at once rendered stupid and pointless.

Here again, this is literally true, and the most efficient way of saying it. For Camus, for example -- a quintessential existentialist -- the only serious philosophical question is whether or not to commit suicide.

True, not to make this personal, but I am Sisyphus, and every post is a new rock I attempt to push up the hill. But the hill is real, and it is outside and above me. If an existentialist is to be true to himself, there can be only an imaginary boulder which he rolls around on horizontal ground. In this flatland ontology, man, boulder, and hill are all ultimately meaningless.

But explosive.


mushroom said...

..."its absence brings about incomparably worse abuses than its presence," although there will always be abuses, man being what he is.

That's the thing. The leftist never seems include "man being what he is" in the models. It's always just certain men or groups -- like Deplorables -- that are causing all the problems, and if you just put the right non-white non-men in charge, all will be well. Except, none are righteous, no, not one.

Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of white men, I want to know why the left never talks about "black privilege," in that American blacks are by far the most affluent and prosperous blacks in the world. This means they must have stolen their ill-gotten riches from less fortunate blacks around the world.

neal said...

On March 1, I watched Tucker Carlson and Eric Guster.
After nailing this leftist with facts and getting no resolution, Tucker actually said to the guy that he seemed possesed.

Talk about your deer in the headlights!

Trump administration targeting high level pedophiles and their enablers? Hitler! Russians!

Methinks this is war, boys and girls. Stayed tuned.

Gagdad Bob said...

I saw that too. Most of the liberals he interviews end up looking possessed. He's quite skilled at flushing out the demons.

julie said...

In any event, human happiness depends upon our being in conformity with the nature of things -- their nature and ours. "Integral meaning and happiness" are "anchored in man's deiform nature without which life is neither intelligible nor worth living." Man is at once rendered stupid and pointless.

Reminds of the meme going around of what four years of college does to girls. Yikes.

Gagdad Bob said...

Check out this... thing, linked at Instapundit. They're really out there. Unlike the left's imaginary Republican fascists.

julie said...

Wow. Anyone who gives "their" self that many labels and makes such a big show out of marching on behalf of the ladies is probably the last person any female would want to be trapped with on a stuck elevator.

Gagdad Bob said...

In other contexts they will say there is no such thing as an illegal alien because they don't believe in labels. Looking for intellectual consistency in the left is... a sisiphysian task.

mushroom said...

He wanted to make sure he checked all possible boxes. I'm impressed. There is no bottom to the deep end.

Gagdad Bob said...

Like the man said, hell is within everyone's reach.

Gagdad Bob said...

Someone said that one can never "get better" at watching TV. Same with gender studies.

garyeureka said...

human happiness depends upon our being in conformity with the nature of things -- their nature and ours.

Images come to mind from Heinlein’s “grok” to Pirsig’s “Quality” along with Jesus telling his disciples, “Blessed are your eyes for they see.” What a long line we are on, with such a persistent out-stretched Hand and Smile, “This way, you’re getting warmer.”

garyeureka said...

Since this thread seems to have started with observations on “Nihilism” by Fr Serephim Rose, here is one more comment on how prophetic his writing was, especially considering that he wrote this in the 1960’s.

Even the photographs just posted of the hardening visage of the college girl illustrates Seraphim's point: “The academic world – and these words are neither lightly or easily spoken –has become today in large part a source of corruption. It is corrupting to hear or read the words of men who do not believe in truth.” (p 32) He goes on to describe precisely the state of most universities over 50 years later.

Gagdad Bob said...

I've quoted that very quote a number of times.

garyeureka said...

Glad to hear that those words impressed you, Bob (and I probably read them quoted before from you, too!). Those lines really leap off the page from so long ago, back when I witnessed the beginnings of the insanity and corruption at Antioch College in the 1960's. I thought we were all having a fun fling, would grow up after graduation and be part of the real world again. Silly me!

Unknown said...

I once reduced a liberal, dog-loving acquaintance to speechlessness by saying I didn't believe in the Westminster dog show since breeds are a man-made construct and there is no difference between a chihuahua and mastiff.

On another note, John C. Wright has another post for the ages today at

Unknown said...

Mushroom, to the point in the first comment, this is a form of Gnosticism as well, in that "we could be saved, if only . . ."

Ann Kellett said...

The John C. Wright post is at

Also, Jay Dyer at Jay's Analysis has an interesting look at Fr. Rose's "Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future" at

mushroom said...

Happy March 4th!

Anonymous said...

To summarize the recent series of posts and commentary regarding issues with the left (demonic possession, mistaken conclusions about essence):

The posts and commentary have done a fine job of laying out the issues from the perspective of what people think and believe about God, both historically and at the present. The first and primary marker in the matter comes when choosing (or not) regarding essence. Demonic possession follows failure to choose essence.

One of the background conceptions throughout the posts and commentary, and articulated somewhat, is the idea that God is observing but not very active in the play of humanity, preferring to let free will and choice determine matters. However, there is little evidence that is the case.

On the contrary, there is ample evidence God is actively curating human experience, both in the mental and physical realms. The question is, can awake persons easily detect God at work in any number of small and large ways, in their own minds and in the world? If this were the case, the matter becomes more complicated as there would be a third party making choices and performing actions in the present, namely, God.

The nihilist is here now, as is the God lover, and the assertion is, so too is God. This is I think would be the missing element in the discussion of the situation at the present on this fine blog.

Van Harvey said...

"Man cannot bring about heaven on earth, although hell is always within reach."

Man O man, ain't that the truth.