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.

6 comments:

julie said...

... 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; so often, people try to fix their brokenness by becoming even more broken. And also by breaking those around them in order to feel more normal.

julie said...

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.

Amen.

neal said...

Be careful with these judgements. I do not know any old man that has been in war and worked for a living that does not need a little something to keep worn out parts from screaming too loudly.

You know, most people that really work wear out early, and hope their children will hang out and bury them proper.

Wait for it. Used to be normal to sacrifice.

julie said...

Judgements?

Anonymous said...



A new thing this way comes, a capitalist juggernaut, a marriage between left and right: Recreational cannabis.

For Californians who might want to try some, please be advised "Ghost Train Haze" is too strong for the new user.

"Blue Dream" is recommended, but just a puff to start with.

Is this horizontal freedom? Is this vertical freedom? What is this thing?

debass said...

Is this horizontal freedom? Is this vertical freedom? What is this thing?

It's another way for the state to prey on human misery.