Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Rabbit Hole Higher than Me

Fell into an unanticipated rabbit hole, the spirit blowing where it will and all...

It was evoked by this provocative point which will stand as our invocation:

According to Bloom, if you are a worthy thinker such as Max Weber, and yet a lesser man than the great-souled Nietzsche, you will inevitably convey something diluted when you try to capture and express Nietzsche’s thought. The only guard against it is to keep saying to your readers, your students, and yourself, as Bloom does, “look higher than me."

Sounds like I ought to reread The Closing of the American Mind. I'm not sure I got much out of it the first time. In my defense, I was still a liberal when it came out in 1987. 1987 was so long ago that the NY Times actually gave it a positive review, according to the blurb on the back. The book was an unlikely bestseller that many more people bought than read.

Hmm. My highlighting suggests that I was one of those who made it to the end. I wonder what I found noteworthy at the time? Pardon the self-indulgence. If I find nothing of general interest, I'll move on.

I do remember this line from the foreword by Saul Bellow: "It may well be that your true readers are not here as yet and that your books will cause them to materialize."

Ah, my True Readers. I guess a few have materialized, but most are taking their time.

When did tenure go from an honorific to a joke, and then from joke to disease? It seems that the latter occurred some time in the 1980s, but most people failed to notice it at the time, perhaps because they projected their past experience of college onto the present; someone who attended college, say, in the 1950s, assumed it had the same value in the 1980s. Therefore, most people missed the deterioration, and here we are, in the end stages of the disease.

The tenured. "Particularly revealing are the various imposters whose business it is to appeal to the young. These culture peddlers have the strongest of motives for finding out the appetites of the young -- so they are useful guides into the labyrinths of the spirit of the times" (Bloom).

What an important but unappreciated point: because of the idiotic idea that everyone ought to attend college, it has become Big Business. And in order to succeed, a business must cater -- if not pander -- to its clientele. The clientele of the university consists of immature minds eager to conform to the latest intellectual fashion. Gravity takes care of the rest.

Truly: it inevitably goes downhill from there, for example, when students make "demands" of the university. In my state, these aggressively illiterate and entitled students thugs demand

a 4-year housing guarantee to live in the Rosa Parks African American Themed House; bring back the building’s lounge; paint its exterior the “Pan-Afrikan colors” of red, green and black; and force all new incoming students to go through a mandatory diversity competency training.

How can a world become so inverted? And yet, no one can look these goons in the eyes and calmly tell them to fuck off. One has to pretend they have a point. I mean, Pan-Afrikan colors. My spellcheck won't even acknowledge the word "Afrikan."

Which only means my computer is racist and must be forced to undergo diversity competency training. Besides, the thing is a kind of silvery color, so that's flat-out triggering.

What ever happened to not judging computers by the color of their monitor but the content of their components?

Students. "[S]tudents are only potential, but potential points beyond itself.... No real teacher can doubt that his task is to assist his pupil to fulfill human nature against all the deforming forces of convention and prejudice."

Er, what human nature? Once you've gotten rid of that, then human potential no longer points beyond itself: a Progressive is born, such that the soul's progress is barred. No, that's too soft a characterization; the soul is aborted, and your reason for being is forever unknown to you. Which is hell, precisely.

Know thyself. Good advice for two or three millennia, at least until the recent discovery that there is no self to know ("who" discovered it, I wonder?). Now we say: know thy self doesn't exist, and besides, it's just a social construct rooted in oppression.

Rawls. Not the wise one, Lou, but the leftist quackademic, John. If you draw out his principles, "indiscriminateness is a moral imperative because its opposite is discrimination." Discrimination is bad, even though it is the quintessence of thought, i.e., discrimination between the real and unreal (also more and less real: for indiscriminate flatlanders there is only one or the other, which excludes the vast spectrum of more and less real).

Minorities. "For the Founders, minorities are in general bad things, mostly identical to factions, selfish groups who have no concern as such for the common good."

You will have noticed that the modern left is precisely an agglomeration of self-styled minorities. It is in principle opposed to the Individual, the real persecuted minority, for there is no smaller unit than one. And the purpose of "civil rights" is to protect this individual. The Constitution knows nothing of groups, except perhaps citizens and non-citizens -- another vital discrimination the left ignores.

Multiculturalism. We -- the Christian West -- invented it, numbskull: "Only in the Western nations, i.e., those influenced by Greek philosophy, is there some willingness to doubt the identification of the good with one's own way." But so-called "multiculturalists" place cultures with no such doubt on the same plane as ours!

Which is not just crazy but suicidal. Literally, as we saw in Manchester the other night. Speaking of which, this is the best book I've read on the subject: Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West. That's another rabbit hole I could jump down, but I will restrain myself and stay in this one.

In any event, "The scientific study of other cultures is almost exclusively a Western phenomenon, and in its origin was obviously connected with the search for new and better ways, or at least for validation of the hope that our own culture really is the better way, a validation for which there is no felt need in other cultures."

There is of course a way to rank cultures and distinguish between healthy ones and those that are just collective forms of mental illness. Two words: integration and actualization.

In short, how psychically integrated and actualized are the people produced by this or that culture (or subculture)? In the Palestinian terrortory, for example, we can say "not very." That alone is sufficient for us to determine that it is objectively evil. What about Israel? The question answers itself, except for leftists and other anti-Semites.

Greek philosophers -- our cognitive founders -- were the first to raise this question. "They related the good to the fulfillment of the whole natural human potential and were aware that few, if any, of the nations of men had ways that allowed such fulfillment." True in 300 BC, true today.

Truth? Oh please. Cultural relativism has succeeded in "destroying the West's universal or intellectually imperialistic claims, leaving it to be just another culture." And "imperialistic" is a apt term, for we should want to be conquered by truth. Anyone who doesn't ardently desire to be so conquered makes a god of himself, and it's Genesis 3 all over again.

Bottom line: look higher than me. (As if you don't know that.)


Gagdad Bob said...

I like the sound of this: The Usefulness of the Useless. Goes to the vital importance of slack, which is of no importance at all or it wouldn't be slack.

Gagdad Bob said...

One higher or at least more influential than me: Raccoon causes thousands to lose power.

julie said...

Ha - I was going to ask if Dupree had been to Florida lately.

As to all the rest, every day brings news of new lows in Western culture. It's hard to even with that anymore.

It's good to know that uselessness may still serve a purpose...

Van Harvey said...

Wo, I thought there was no post today (see below for why I clicked over), but Harold Bloom has been coming up a lot over the last few days, with one friend or another. I haven't read today's post yet, but the link you ref'd at the top, is the one I passed on to a friend earlier today, who's thinking of reading the 'Closing of the American Mind", and the quote from the article that caught my I, was this:

"... words as “self” (not soul), “creativity,” “culture,” and the mother of them all, “values.” “These words are there where thoughts should be,” says Bloom disparagingly. But he actually thinks about them, tracing them back to German thinkers, critically exposing their deficiencies, and finally suggesting better words..."

, which really hits the spot.

Anyway, what has me clicking by this evening, isn't, I think, too far off topic - I just found out that Harry V. Jaffa has about 4 hrs of free online talks on audio, from Hillsdale College. You might have to set up a free login through SoundCloud to get to the page, but it's a no fuss, no muss set up - was for me anyway), which I thought you might like:

1 Harry V. Jaffa on Albert Camus' "The Stranger"
2 Harry V. Jaffa on Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment"
3 Harry V. Jaffa on Shakespeare's "Macbeth"
4 Harry Jaffa - What Is Equality?

Van Harvey said...

... argh... Allan... grrrr....

ted said...

Bob: Noticed you're trying to rebuild your blog template after it went all screwy on you. You can get a snap shot of the old template on the way back machine, if it helps.

Gagdad Bob said...

How about that. Always in the last place you look.

Anonymous said...

There is bound to be a lot of tension during America's transition from white majority to our current brown majority (and getting browner every year). Canada will remain as a white majority nation for some time, but from the US down to Argentina, the Western Hemisphere will be brown territory. As the forefathers alluded to, minorities aren't a good thing in general. So whites, as they transition into minority status, will blend in nicely as they already do, despite a few pockets of protest.

Eurocentric schooling, traditional Professorial tenure, and all that is English in origin will be sharply degraded in this process, but must be let go. There may be some grumpiness around that.

Our youth is tech savvy, which is their saving grace and how they will be remembered historically. The great generations of the 20th century will always be remembered as heroic, however their time has elapsed and we now debouch into the final decades of the late pre-AI period, and it will be very, very turbulent going for another 100 years or so.