Friday, August 17, 2018

Okay, but How Did Patient Zero Get Sick?

This post began with an innocent attempt to respond to a comment from yesterday, and just got out of hand. It's a little rambly, but it's too late to fix it.

The search for Patient Zero of our troubles inevitably leads to questions of how this patient got sick in the first place.

Genesis tells us that it started with a serpent, but that's frankly not very helpful. Or, conversely, maybe it's very helpful, in the sense that it is basically telling us to stop asking questions about something we'll never fully understand anyway.

Analogously, I've heard Dennis Prager say that this is the purpose of the very first sentence of the Bible, that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

The larger purpose there is to cut off our idle speculation at the outset, and to let us know that the transcendent divine principle is responsible for all of creation, so deal with it. It's supposed to be helpful, in the sense that we now have a kind of unchanging foundation on which to build our metaphysic.

Put it this way: either the world is created, or it isn't. Obviously there is no merely human way to resolve the issue. Therefore, knowing this world is created is a kind of liberation from truly pointless speculation. For if the world isn't created, then all speculation is utterly pointless anyway. So ultimately, the doctrine is a gift to our intellect.

For Whoever does not believe in myths believes in fables (Dávila). You might say that God gives us certain fruitful myths so we don't descend into the childish fables of the tenured.

Likewise, perhaps the "doctrine of satan" (or of the adverse cosmic power) is a kind of helpful gift. Just accept it, because it explains a lot, even if we can't quite figure out how the principle fits into the overall scheme of things.

I mean, if you think theological explanations of evil are naive, then try the psychological, or economic, or feminist, or Marxist explanations! They're way too stupid for any intelligent person to take seriously, and yet, these childlike fables are the psychic petroleum of the left.

Besides, the satan principle is not as much a straightforward answer as a mystery to be pondered. Therefore, it operates quite differently from those concrete answers of the left that unambiguously locate evil in white males, or class warfare, or misogyny.

Time out for more aphorisms, because I can always rely on Dávila when I'm flailing around. For example, He who speaks of the farthest regions of the soul soon needs a theological vocabulary. For precisely this reason, speaking of the farthest reaches of evil also requires a theological vocabulary.

Some of the relevant aphorisms are a bit indirect or oblique, such as this one: When man refuses the discipline the gods give him, demons discipline him. So, demonic influences rush in when we close ourselves off to divine ones. This makes a great deal of sense. As we know, nature abhors a vacuum. But so too does trans-nature.

An irreligious society cannot endure the truth of the human condition. It prefers a lie, no matter how imbecilic it may be. Boy and how! Think of the crazy alternatives to the doctrine of creation alluded to above.

Evil only has the reality of the good that it annuls. Its only real power is via privation -- like the way an air conditioner runs on heat-producing energy.

Have you noticed how every evil regime on earth derives power by pretending to be the opposite of what it is? For example, The Islamic Republic of Iran, or The Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea. Or even the Democratic Party, which has always revolved around racial division and hatred, from Judge Taney to Sarah Jeong. At least they're consistent.

There is something to be said for the idea that, in the words of Schuon, the devil is "the humanized personification –- humanized on contact with man -- of the subversive aspect of the centrifugal existential power."

Therefore, Hell is the place where man finds all his projects realized, and Man will have created a world in the image and likeness of hell when he inhabits an environment totally fabricated by his hands.

More generally, Hell is any place from which God is absent. And only man can render God absent, at least in imagination. Thus, The proclamation of our autonomy is the founding act of Hell.

Tolerance? No one is more respectful of “others’ beliefs” than the devil.

The death of God? The greatest modern error is not announcing that God is dead, but believing that the devil has died.

Truly, this could be the motto of the left: The devil can achieve nothing great without the thoughtless collaboration of the virtues.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Patient Zero of the Left

Another idiosyncratic post that goes nowhere, but may get there tomorrow...

I'm starting to think there may be no longterm cure for liberalism, i.e., that it is fatal. If it were just an acute illness -- say, something that only emerged in the 1930s, or 1960s -- then it might be treatable. But what if we are in the end stage of a centuries-long disease process?

Judge Bork implies as much, suggesting that certain odious developments "have been coming on for a long time and may be inherent in Western civilization."

Usually I think of Western civilization as the solution, not the problem. But if it is the problem, then there is no solution.

If the U.S. fails, then mankind fails. And if conservatism fails -- i.e, if we fail to conserve the vision of the founders -- then America fails.

Interesting how extremes meet. The left would agree with Bork that Western civilization is fatally flawed, but for very different reasons. Indeed, for Bork, the left's devaluation of Western civilization -- its self-loathing -- is just a symptom of the real problem.

Just this morning I was reading of how our whole sinister regime of state-mandated racial discrimination ("affirmative action") was created via an executive order by LBJ in 1965. Thus, it could be rescinded with the stroke of a pen.

In the presidential campaign of 1980, Ronald Reagan promised to do just that. Which, of course, he never did. Why not? How can something so intrinsically un- and anti-American, something so fundamentally at odds with our values, survive?

That's a somewhat rhetorical question. The answer is, violence on one end, cowardice on the other. Prior to Trump, no president has been willing to so subject himself to the violent and hateful rhetoric of the left. But to my knowledge, even Trump has never spoken of undoing this indefensible injustice.

How can we tolerate federal funds going to universities that openly engage in racial discrimination, and which systematically violate the right to free speech? What's the problem here? What is our major malfunction? Why is this happening in America, of all places? That modern liberalism "is intellectually bankrupt diminishes neither its vitality nor the danger it imposes" (ibid.).

And a central reason why it is so dangerous is precisely because it is so intellectually bankrupt. In short, like any other cultish ideology, the progressive left is a closed system that is impervious to evidence, fact, and logic. And vertical closure = hell on earth.

I mentioned this passage a few posts back, but it is certainly worth repeating, because it goes to the essence of the problem:

Modernity, the child of the Enlightenment, failed when it became apparent that the good society cannot be achieved by unaided reason. The response of liberalism was not to turn to religion, which modernity had seemingly made irrelevant, but to abandon reason.

And once the left abandoned reason, it rendered reason impotent in defending us from the left. Brilliant! In a diabolical way.

When truth is eliminated, what's left to arbitrate disagreements? Just power. What, for example, keeps the state discrimination regime thriving? Power. Absolutely no different from the days of Jim Crow, showing once again how Democrats never change. They never change because they are animated by certain false principles that can be traced back hundreds of years.

Thus, what we call "modern liberalism" is more like terminal liberalism. It is, as Bork says, just "the latest stage of the liberalism that has been growing in the West for at least two and a half centuries, and probably longer."

Is there a patient zero? I tend not to think of this in strictly historical terms. Rather, I've long interpreted Genesis 3 as a fable about "patient(s) zero," only repeated ad nauseam through history; the story brilliantly reveals timeless archetypes that play out in time. Every time.

What are the lessons of this complex archetypal narrative? What it is trying -- desperately! -- to convey to us? We've probably posted on this subject dozens of times, so I won't re-belabor the point. But at the very least, it is telling us something about human nature, about male-female relations, about divine-human relations, and about human intercourse with certain "lower-vertical" energies symbolized by the serpent.

What does it tell us about human nature? To me it goes to a certain unavoidable "design flaw" in man; not to say that the Designer erred; rather, that in creating a creature with free will, certain adverse developments are inevitable (or, inEveateapple, as we always say). These adverse possibilities range along a vertical spectrum from venial misdemeanors to felonious plunges into auto-divination.

Another lesson is that man is in permanent exile, and that utopia is no longer an option. That ship has already sailed. The horses have bolted and it's too late to close the barn door. We are all "wandering Jews" who will not return to any terrestrial promised land. It's a vertical diaspora, and the Raccoon has no place to lay his head. Life itself is a mid-life crisis, just as history itself is an endless cosmic war -- or the shadow of one, anyway. Can't you hear the echoes?

All of this was brought home to me in an unlikely way, when I first encountered Joyce some 35 years ago. Let me see if I can explain what I mean without excessive bloviation.

First of all there was Ulysses, which tells the story of an Any- and Everyman wandering through the corridors of archetypal time, such that 24 hours is as if 24 centuries (and vice versa). In short, every day is a kind of "structured eternity" telescoped into a human framework. But then Joyce did himself one better, and situated our Everyman in the historical dreamscape of All Time.

I'm not saying I ever understood the book, but I did spend many months trying. Or better, it was like trying to understand one's dreams. Rarely do I truly understand one, but I very much enjoy dwelling in their protean creative mystery.

Let's try to narrow down our exegesis of the Wake to what went wrong and to what has gone wrong with liberalism. Interestingly, Joyce frankly doesn't pretend to know the details. On nearly every page we are reminded that something has gone wrong, but it is exceedingly difficult to find out what it was. Rumors abound. There are plenty of opinions. You could call it "original sin," which is a little bit like how liberals talk about "structural racism" -- which is to say, racism without any actual racists.

Analogously, original sin is a little like a structure in which we are situated, even if there were no sinners per se. Down here, even perfection is imperfect.

Which of course reminds me of what Schuon says about the subject: something to the effect that existence itself is the most consequential sin. Er, why? For reasons alluded to above: in the very act of creation, God creates something separate from God (even while not radically disconnected, for this would be impossible). The rest is history. Literally.

As Campbell and Robinson write in the Skeleton Key,

The Wake, at its lowest estimate, is a huge time-capsule.... If our society should go smash tomorrow..., one could find all the pieces, together with the forces that broke them, in Finnegans Wake. The book is a kind of terminal moraine in which lie buried all the myths, programs, slogans, hopes, prayers, tools, educational theories, and theological bric-a-brac of the past millennium. And here too will be found the love that reanimates this debris.

And as Joyce "never tires of telling us, 'The same returns.'" Which means the same bad stuff. But if he is correct, it also means the same good stuff. I suppose our theological hope is that this is a spiral and not just an endlessly recurring circle, much less an entropic decay into oblivion.

The radical error -- the deification of man -- does not have its origin in history. Fallen man is the permanent possibility of committing the error. --Dávila

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Center Cannot Hold if the Top Can't Rule

Slouching Toward Gomorrah begins with a passage from Yeats' The Second Coming, which is so often repeated -- by left and right -- that it has become a cliché. You know, Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold, so mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. Welcome to Any Day, Every Year.

I'm pretty sure humans have been thinking this from the beginning. Written in the wake of WWI, it could equally apply to the fall of Rome, or the wars of the Reformation, or the French Revolution, or, for an ahistorical leftist, the election of Trump. Leftists may be ignorant of history, but they feel like the world is ending, and that's what counts.

Another frequently cited line is The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity. You often hear a passionately intense cretin -- say, Bill Maher, or Michael Moore, or MSNBC hosts -- complain about how timid and reasonable their side is. The absence of self-awareness makes me lightheaded.

By the way, because of the Dávila influence, I find that I've begun thinking in terms of spontaneous aphorisms. Often they float into my head fully formed, although sometimes I have to tweak them a little for that extra tang. I'm not saying they're as penetrating as his, but you have to start somewhere, right? For example,

If you're not a liberal at 20 you have no self-righteousness, and if you're not a conservative at 40 you have no self-awareness.

Or, Ideology fills the vacuum created by tenure.

--The news is a commercial for liberalism. The commercials are news about capitalism.

--Anything deep and true is conservative.

--A "male feminist" is either a wolf in sheep's clothing or a sheep in sheep's clothing. Useless either way.

--The cogito of the left: "I envy, therefore RACISM!"

--Universal human nature and self-evident truth are two sides of the same coin; likewise, identity politics and the tyranny of subjectivism.

--Since progressivism is a state religion, public schools should be abolished on 1st amendment grounds.

--The concept of "cultural appropriation" was invented by white Marxists, so blacks & Latinos need to stop appropriating it.

--Capitalism is unfair to people who want power but have no talent.

--Say what you want about the liberal arts, but they've found a cure for common sense.

--All socialists have to do is stop pretending to be God. But then they wouldn't be socialists.

I'd like to move more into the aphorism department, if only because it is a great courtesy to the reader. As I've said before, the world is filled with 400 page books that contain one idea. Conversely, Dávila has thousands of aphorisms that could be expanded into a book, -- or, better yet, are the distillation of that book, so it needn't be written in the first place.

Think too of all those books that contain one idea, but the idea is totally stupid (or monstrous). For example, the most popular history book on college campuses is Howard Zinn's History of the American People. Let me summarize it for you: America (and capitalism, and white males) is evil. There's no clever or witty way to say that, so he had to write the book.

Back to Yeats. When the center can't hold, why not? Is it because there are no centrists? That can't be right, because to be a centrist is to compromise with evil. There is no centrist position between conservative classical liberalism and Antifa fascists. A leftist would no doubt respond that there is no centrist position between them and white supremacism.

Which is a red herring, since the latter doesn't exist in any meaningful way, and certainly wields no political power whatsoever. And this leaves aside the fact that all wholesale racism comes from the left, not from conservatives. Conservatism is founded on ideas, not on blood or identity.

In the margin I have a note to myself: "The center cannot hold because the top cannot rule." That might qualify for an aphorism, except that it actually needs to be fleshed out in order to be understood, at least by most people. Very senior Raccoons might get it right away, and see all the implications, but our culture has been so saturated by egalitarian thinking, that Absolute Authority sounds downright un-American.

But if there is no absolute authority, then there is no center. Note that this vertical authority bisects reality, which is precisely what creates the center: you might say that "truth" is anywhere verticality bisects horizontality.

This verticality is also the source of legitimate order, organization, and hierarchy. Now, hierarchy is the opposite of anarchy; put conversely, the only cure for anarchy is hierarchy. I don't mean this in a polemical way. Rather, it is just the literal truth. For example, the campus anarchy of the 1960s was a result of administrators abandoning hierarchy and placing themselves on the same level as the rioters.

Obviously, anarchy cannot be cured by anarchy, because horizontality cannot transcend horizontality. Which is precisely why leftism always ends in tyranny. It is baked into the cake. As Dávila says, When the exploiters disappear, the exploited split into exploiters and exploited.

Thus, the immediate result of the communist revolution of 1917 was a two-tier society. This was the new order, the new center, the new verticality. And No social class has exploited the others more brazenly than the one that today calls itself “the State.”

Now, man is the center of the world. Indeed, you could say he is the center of creation. This is a literal truth, and it is uncontroversial. It can only be denied from the standpoint of the center which it denies, thus refuting itself.

Besides, leftists are forever making pronouncements that could only emanate from a vertical cosmic center, even if they deny any ground for this center. Here is a typical "activist scholar" who is full of passionate intensity about denying normality and deconstructing reality (check out her CV: madness!).

So, don't ask why the center cannot hold. It can't hold because the top -- AKA truth -- can't rule. Therefore, the bottom dwellers fill the vacuum. Which is why leftism always comes down to rule by sociopaths.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Locating Supernatural Resources in the Extra-Cranial World

Two bits of housekeeping: 1) Posts may at times be shorter, in order to put less pressure on readers and on myself. There's no reason to make every post so damn long and burdensome every time. 2) They may get more eccentric, just me wandering around in my own head. Or, they may be less obviously "coherent" and finished, more free-associational and ramblin'.

Therefore, they may seem to lead nowhere, at least on the surface. But today's topic, for example, is a big subject to which I couldn't possibly do justice in the allotted time -- which is less than an hour -- but here it is anyway, half-baked and undigested. It has a point -- I know, because it is pulling me -- even if I haven't yet arrived at it.

To say that our current civil war results from a psychic rupture some three or four centuries ago seems so abstract, not to mention pointless. Besides, who said there's such a thing as a human norm? Unlike weather -- which leftists believe has an unchanging preindustrial standard, a "right way" to be -- they believe no such thing vis-a-vis human beings.

One reason why they get away with so much is that their only standard is the absence of standards, AKA defining deviancy down. Then they pretend to be surprised at the emergence of deviant behavior -- say, of a Harvey Weinstein operating in a sexually antinomian Hollywood (where else would such a person choose to operate? A place with no standards is a perfect fit for the man without any). And yet, people with no proper morality are shocked! at his lack of morality.

For in the words of the Aphorist, Human nature always takes the progressive by surprise.

Man is no exception to the rule that in order to exist, something must have a form. We are not just a psychic version of prime matter -- of an infinitely malleable and unformed potentiality.

Nevertheless and everthelouse, Liberals can be divided into those who believe that wickedness is curable and those who deny that it exists.

And usually the dichotomy somehow exists in the same head -- as in, for example, "it is wrong to hold blacks responsible for their disproportionate involvement in crime" and "Trump's tweets are worse than Hitler!" Lack of principles applied to certain groups, hysterical enforcement of them in others. Or maybe you've never seen MSNBC.

At any rate, if we're going to say mankind took a wrong turn a few centuries ago, we have to posit a correct turn rooted in What Man Is. So, what is he?

The question goes back to our first philosopher, or to philosophy as such, which is to say: "know thyself." In philosophy, this question lost all interest and attention somewhere in the 19th century, with the emergence of antihuman thinkers such as Hegel and Marx, followed by such misosophic nul-de-slacks as analytic philosophy.

But then it returned in the 20th century with such developments as phenomenology and existentialism, only detached from everything that had come before. Now we had, for example, an existentialism rooted in an ontological materialism, when this sterile connection is by no means necessary. (Conversely, a young Saint Pope JP allied phenomenology to Christianity to come up with a fruitful Christian personalism.)

The point is that a Christian metaphysic can by definition take on board anything thrown at it, from Darwin to quantum physics (so long as it isn't an intrinsic absurdity such as Marxism or behaviorism). It can baptize anything, even, say, "materialism." For as Aquinas realized, you can have a material cosmos if you like, so long as you don't imagine it can be metaphysically self-sufficient.

Put conversely, there is no way for the finite mind to determine if the material world has a temporal beginning or was always here. But in either case, it must have a vertical source, or your metaphysic falls into incoherence and absurdity. Remember, Aquinas's "first cause" is not in time but outside it -- which is the whole point. To ask what was "before" the first cause is to not know what the first cause is.

Back to our human norm. At the moment, several recent books are in the process of converging and melding in my head. It is an unlikely confluence, consisting of several books that were read back-to-back-to back with no plan, and yet, are disclosing a plan.

Not to veer off course right away, but it reminds me of the Bible. A couple days ago my son mentioned that an evangelical friend of his thinks the Bible was essentially dictated by God, like the Koran or Dianetics. I reminded him that no one wrote the Bible, nor did any of its authors know about the others who would be included in this compendium we call the Bible. Rather, it was chosen and assembled long after the fact. The hidden coherence was only discovered after its contributors had completed their parts.

Which is not to say there is no such thing as a unitary Bible. Indeed, that is what makes it so endlessly mysterious -- that its authors were explicating a hidden coherence of which they knew nothing.

Ramping it down a few notches, it is equally certain that Judge Bork had no idea he was slouching into the same cosmic attractor as Matthew Crawford twenty years later (and vice versa), but here they are, touching hands in my head (or heads in my hands).

To this I could add the book When Harry Became Sally, because all three books, in different ways, speak to an enduring extracranial world that is thankfully independent of our desires -- in the latter case, not just the desire of Harry to pretend he is Sally. Who really cares, since it's a free country?

The problem is that Harry wants to enlist the state to coerce the restavus to say that Harry is Sally. Then we've not only rejected the human norm, but are forced at gunpoint to believe things that cannot be. Which is the endpoint of the wrong turn of a few centuries back, into a total subjectivism anchored in nothing outside the skull (and yet, compelled by the state).

But it's not the end. Things can and will inevitably get worse if we don't rediscover the correct path found in the extracranial world. There is a perennial vertical invasion from below, but we have to recognize it in order to repel it.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Politics is Downstream from Culture is Downstream from Crazy

If not for eyes, we'd have no idea there's something to see. But we do have eyes, therefore, -- wait for it! -- there is something to see. More generally, every sense is ordered to what it senses -- to something external to itself.

The Root Problem of postmodernity (which is just the the logical entailment of certain errors of modernity) is the inversion of this home truth, such that the object is made subordinate to the subject: the world is conditioned by consciousness rather than vice versa.

In reality, the sensed is prior to sense, just as the known is prior to the knower. Such observations used to qualify as banalities, the main point being that if knowledge is to be possible, then the object must be prior to the subject.

If the subject is prior, then the result -- either immediate or long term -- is a swamp of subjectivism from which there Is. No. Escape. You've made yourself into a god, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

We see a lot of this diabolicality in the New Age movement. For example, -- I knew Deepak wouldn't let me down! -- "since the human world is entirely mind-created, the [human/cultural] problem comes down to not knowing how our reality is made." So, in reality, "reality" is just a mental projection from the inside out:

The play of consciousness is how reality is made, both personally and for the entire human race.... We believe that gluons, quarks, galaxies, stars, force fields, even bodies and minds are “real” but they are human constructs for modes of perception and their interpretation in consciousness.... The next step in our evolution as a species is to become conscious creators of this reality, which can be called the evolutionary leap from human to meta-human.

So, if you think things are bad now, just wait until the arrival of the meta-humans!

Notice the hope for a miracle. The impossible kind. Or, if not impossible, then a radically dystopian kind, in which every person is a monad who is freed to inhabit his own private Idaho. What Deepak regards as the final liberation is a total narcissism.

For as a far wiser man once said, Upon finding himself perfectly free, the individual discovers that he has not been unburdened of everything, but despoiled of everything (Dávila).

Back to what was said above in paragraph two: when I say "logical entailment," what I mean is that the current cultural crisis -- our civil war -- has been long in the making, and is not going away any time soon. Rather, it will continue to worsen as a result of a split -- a violent rupture in reality -- that occurred several hundred years ago. War is inevitable given this maiming of reality.

Inevitable in the absence of a miracle. The good kind. Which I do mean literally, in the sense of a vertical intervention. Which has of course occurred at many hinge points in history, so there's no reason for hopelessness.

Aphorisms come to mind; for example, Intelligent optimism is never faith in progress, but hope for a miracle. Perhaps it helps to bear in mind that None of the high eras of history have been planned. Thus, In history it is sensible to hope for miracles and absurd to trust in plans.

I mean, if Trump isn't a miracle, then there's no such thing.

Back to our main point, which is the inevitability of our current civil war. This was brought home to me by an unexpecected source, as I finally got around to reading Judge Bork's Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline, which provided me with a slightly different angle on the subject. Normally I just trace the issue back to Genesis 3 and say to hell with it: man is what he is, and always will be.

That's fine as far as it goes, but Bork traces a specific intellectual genealogy that starts about a quarter century ago and leads straight to Ocasio-Cortez (or to the latest malevolent idiot of the day).

So, what happened? What went wrong? As Bork says, "politics is a lagging indicator" of certain baleful developments that "have been coming on for a long time and may be inherent in Western civilization" (emphasis mine).

At this late date, the error has been thoroughly embedded -- like a pneuma-cognitive virus, AKA mind parasite -- in the culture, which is why Breitbart was correct to say that politics is downstream from it. If we are downstream, where is the source of this toxic spring? We're already running out of time, so I won't be able to do justice the subject. Let's just hit some highlights.

(By the way, while reading the book, it occurred to me what a "Catholic mind" Bork had. An atheist at the time of his confirmation hearings, he entered the Catholic church a few years after the publication of this book. So, he didn't "convert" to Catholicism, but rather, discovered he already was Catholic. This is another iteration of the object being prior to the subject, only on a higher plane. In other words, the object is God.)

Here's a passage that lays out the source of the trouble:

Modernity, the child of the Enlightenment, failed when it became apparent that the good society cannot be achieved by unaided reason. The response of liberalism was not to turn to religion, which modernity had seemingly made irrelevant, but to abandon reason.

Hence, there have appeared philosophies claiming that words can carry no definite meaning or that there is no reality other than one that is "socially constructed." A reality so constructed, it is thought, can be decisively altered by social or cultural edict, which is a prescription for coercion.

And here we are, in a fight to the death between people who believe in reality and people who believe reality is what we wish it to be -- between truth and power, intellect and will, knowledge and tenure. Our hope is that what cannot continue will not continue, and that reality will ultimately Bork these tyrannical fantasists from our midst.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Sensing God

Let's stipulate that we cannot literally prove the existence of God, since infinitude by definition escapes finite logic. Adequate proofs, of course, abound, but only for people who don't need them. Why don't they need them? Well, for one thing, because there are other modes of proof besides mere logic.

For example, no one needs to prove the existence of vision in order to see. Explicit science has only existed for a few hundred years, but this doesn't mean man wasn't aware of countless scientific facts and principles. The world is what it is, regardless of what we think about it.

Back to something touched on in the first paragraph: to say that the finite cannot contain infinitude is already to have an intuition of the Infinite. And then you're off to the races! For the Infinite is one of our most important cognitive placeholders. It is always there, implicitly undergirding our thought, as the ocean is beneath the ship. Remove the ocean and ships not only won't sail, but no one would have bothered to invent them.

Or perhaps a better analogy is wind, since it is invisible. It blows where it pleases. You hear its sound, but can't tell from where it comes or where it's going. And yet, we -- at least in premodern times -- were absolutely dependent upon it, what with sailing, windmills, and free air conditioning.

In the previous post we touched on a couple of ways God can be spontaneously "sensed" -- for example, vis-a-vis piety, which "is essentially the sense of the sacred, of the transcendent, of profundity," or of humility, which is awareness "of our metaphysical nothingness." To put it the other way around -- or First Thing first -- the Divine Presence is the sufficient reason for sanctity and humility.

If one denies God a priori, then these very human responses lose their sufficient reason. You have to deny them altogether, reduce them to irrelevance, or invent some other reason for their existence. For example, a Freudian might say they are the shadow of some infantile memory of omnipotent parents, while a Marxist might say they are class weapons to keep you in your place.

Religion is full of similar "responses" to "presences"; the response proves the presence -- unless you are too blunt to sense the latter, or if they are inconvenient barriers to one's own auto-deification.

As we know, one of the primordial trinities within God is Love-Truth-Beauty. Take just the latter, beauty. To deny that man senses beauty is to deny man. And yet, this is one of the major projects of postmodernity -- to entirely subjectivize beauty, such that it is located in us, not in the world. In this cosmic inversion, beauty is just a meaningless projection of the human psyche. It is reduced to an opinion or illusion.

Note that with this inversion, beauty loses its sufficient reason. On some level the barbarians are aware of this, so they try to come up with new sufficient reasons for its existence. These reasons are too stupid to seriously consider, but evolutionary psychologists, for example, pretend that beauty is reducible to some genetic advantage.

Come to think of it, a great many aphorisms go to exactly this subject. Not only do they say it better than I can, but they do so more succinctly. Let's dig out some examples.

As to our sense of beauty, The existence of a work of art demonstrates that the world has meaning. Even if it does not say what that meaning is.

You could say this meaning is a power before it is refined into a thought: thus, Strictly speaking, the work of art does not have a meaning but rather a power.

From an aesthetic experience one returns as from a sighting of numinous footprints. And no, they don't belong to Charles Darwin. Likewise, The steps of grace startle us like the footsteps of someone passing by in the fog. Boo!

Damn. I've had the sudden realization that half the aphorisms come down in one way or another to "sensing" God:

Aesthetics is the sensible and secular manifestation of grace. Boom.

Every work of art speaks to us of God. No matter what it says. Boom².

I could spend the rest of the post on beauty, but let's give equal time to truth, since I'm running out of it (of time, never of truth, since the latter is infinite).

I only contemplate wisps of truth that twist in the night gusts. Wisps of truth. They're out there! And they enter through the eyes, ears, mind, and spirit. But only if these gates are open. Vertically.

Only in prostration is the truth of man expressed. Because God is not an invention, but a finding. And if you're not rendered humble by the finding, then you've found the wrong guy -- an impersonator and imprisonator, so run in the opposite direction.

Of what is important there is no better proof than the fact of the well-born soul liking it.

So, what is man -- the well-born kind, AKA my readers -- but the sensory membrane between Creator and creation?

To be continued Wednesday...

Friday, August 03, 2018

Spheresville, DaddiO

Man today does not live in space and in time. But in geometry and chronometers. --Dávila

Quality is reduced to quantity, placing man behind bars of math and physics. Then, like a frog at the bottom of a dark well of tenure, we can never perceive where we are actually situated in the wider context of things.

One popular way to discover where we are in the world -- meaning existence itself -- is to consult our desire. It's far from the best way, but at least you know where you stand: relative to what you want.

In our consumer culture, it seems that many people unreflectively order their lives in this way. I probably sound like a 50s beatnik, but it's true that this kind of shallow materialism gets you nowhere, since it involves one relativity in relation to another, and then one acquisition followed by another until death do you depart. Squaresville.

However, not always. Desire is situated on a vertical scale, and some desires are closer to the absolute than others -- for example, a desire for aesthetic beauty. As Schuon describes it, "Human will is, virtually and vocationally, the tendency toward the absolute Good." And "secondary goods, whether they be necessary or simply useful, are determined indirectly by the choice of the supreme Good." It's a matter of putting things in order.

The will cannot determine the good, only pursue what the intellect and/or sentiment have placed before it. Whereas the intellect is ordered to (ultimately) absolute truth, the sentiment is ultimately "love of the Sovereign Beauty and of its reverberations in the world and in ourselves."

Now we begin to see how the soul is oriented in the immaterial spacetime mentioned in yesterday's post: in this space, truth and beauty are vertical dimensions.

In the novella Flatland, its citizens inhabit a two dimensional world, such that the third dimension becomes a source of mystery and wonder for some, irritation and threat for others -- for example, seeing a point transform into a circle, then back to a point before disappearing. This must mean that something like a sphere exists and moves in a higher dimensional space, even though inhabitants don't have direct access to this space per se.

It's the same here in our world, only constantly. That is, we are routinely visited by angelic presences and specters from nonlocal dimensions. Like a Flatlander who denies the existence of spheres, we can always insist that this world alone is a sufficient explanation for everything that goes on in it. What is a materialist but a man who claims there's no such place as Spheresville? And what is a mystic but a man who has been there?

Once returned to Flatland, the [mystical] Square cannot convince anyone of Spaceland's existence, especially after official decrees are announced that anyone preaching the existence of three dimensions will be imprisoned (or executed, depending on caste).

Eventually the Square himself is imprisoned for just this reason, with only occasional contact with his brother who is imprisoned in the same facility. He does not manage to convince his brother, even after all they have both seen. Seven years after being imprisoned, A Square writes out the book Flatland in the form of a memoir, hoping to keep it as posterity for a future generation that can see beyond their two-dimensional existence (Prof. Wiki).

Huh. A prophet is without honor in his own dimension.

Continuing for the moment with Schuon, he mentions that piety "is essentially the sense of the sacred, of the transcendent, of profundity." In other words, the sense of piety is a real sense that senses real things, only in vertical space. This is what the Square would say about Spaceland: no, it is not some kind of an illusion or escape from reality, but an actual place.

Reducing Spaceland to Flatland is exactly like reducing transcendence to immanence; and with it, absolute to relative, truth to opinion, beauty to accident, mind to matter. It is to put a lid on the spirit, so as to bar it from contact with its own source and sufficient reason. In other words, in this scenario, the soul is not permitted to know where it came from and where it is going, i.e., its origin and destiny, ground and telos.

"My kingdom is not of this world." To the gallows!

A little threatened?

All wars are about territory. Our present culture war is no exception, except that it involves vertical territory. True, you could say it involves horizontal territory in the sense that, for example, the left wants to overrun the country by an invasion of illegal immigrants.

But this is not really the case, or the underlying motivation. The left doesn't care about illegal immigrants -- or any other human beings, for that matter -- except insofar as they are illegal Democrats. They would have built a wall long ago if our shores were being invaded by illegal conservatives.

The point is, the illegals are just a proxy for the conquest of a vertical psycho-political, cultural space. Otherwise immigrants are as useless to the left as anyone else.

As piety is a spontaneous sense of transcendence -- of height, depth, and sanctity -- humility is spontaneous awareness "of our metaphysical nothingness." Not nothingness relative to itself, which would simply be nihilism. Rather, nothingness relative to God.

In other words, to sense God is to be aware of our own relative nothingness. Who wouldn't be humble in the face of such a perception? It's really just another name for sanity. What's the alternative?

There are alternatives, and not just a crude denial of Spheresville. You don't have to just become the village ideologue or materialist. For example, as the Aphorist says, Man inflates his emptiness in order to challenge God. Like how an animal can make itself look larger in the face of a threat.

However, notice that when the animal does this, it is because it perceives a real potential threat. Likewise the atheist. Which is why Eckhart cracked that he who blasphemes praises God. Just so, what more proof do you need of God than the existence of atheists?

As to our sense of Spheresville, a few aphorisms (emphases mine):

Faith is not an irrational assent to a proposition; it is a perception of a special order of realities.

Aesthetics is the sensible and secular manifestation of grace.

From an aesthetic experience one returns as from a sighting of numinous footprints.

Every work of art speaks to us of God. No matter what it says.

The thirst for the great, the noble and the beautiful is an appetite for God that is ignored.

Nevertheless, the Creator made us free, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it. Thus,

Each one sees in the world only what he deserves to see.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Losing Our Religion and Finding Our Antichrist

I want to go back to the question of exactly -- exactly! -- where we are. In order to answer the question, we have to posit an immaterial space and an atemporal time. This is because there can be no merely scientific answer to the question. To be sure, science can answer the question in a multitude of ways, but any answer it furnishes will only satisfy the incurious, the credulous, the tenured.

The best science can do is to say that we exist in relation to a primordial event that occurred 13.7 billions years ago, AKA the Big Bang. For science, this must be the absolute, the origin, the center, the source of all existence.

But it's really just a vastly diminished placeholder for God. It is unthinkingly given all the attributes of God, in that from it springs everything from life to mind to truth, beauty, love -- the whole existentialada.

I can't even get this fable past my son. Or perhaps I should say "especially" my son, because a child's mind will not be as easily pacified by such totally implausible answers.

For example, if the truth of the Big Bang is relative to the Big Bang, then it can't really be true. Rather, if it is true, then it somehow transcends the Big Bang, since truth is not a material thing. The Big Bang is supposed to be our ultimate container. If so, it cannot be contained by anything else. And yet, we contain it in our abstract conception of it. As the old gag goes, the soul is not in the cosmos, but vice versa. It's how knowledge is possible.

No, there is can be no purely material explanation for man. Yes, we are surely relative to something absolute, but it can't be the Big Bang. It can't be the laws of physics, or natural selection, or, for that matter, race, class, gender, or any other political pseudo-absolute.

In his Book of Absolutes, Gairdener writes of how

citizens of the Western world have been uncritically subjected in the media, the public square, and the classroom to the disturbing idea that there is no permanent truth in human life or in the material world and that the meaning of something can therefore be found only relative to something else. For most of us, this has become the only indisputable truth of modern times, and we announce it from a higher moral ground as a badge of our open-mindedness.

Even though this must be the last word in closed-mindedness. It is the ultimate foreclosure, since it forecloses the Ultimate. "Ironically" -- I would say "inevitably" -- "relativism has become our only absolute." But "absolute relativity" is strictly impossible; it simply cannot be. It is a self-negating contradiction in terms.

According to the perennial philosophy -- or my version of it, anyway -- a thing only exists to the extent that it participates in Being. Every existent has a thatness and a whatness, the former going to substance, the latter to essence. As mentioned the other day, there are things that have essence but no existence, say, a unicorn, or a successful socialist country. Just as to exist is to partake of being, I would say that to be relative is to partake of absoluteness.

Again, we have to imagine another type of spacetime that is actually much more fundamental than the spacetime of mere physics. Indeed, I would say that the latter is a kind of shadow or echo of the former -- which is one reason why it is so silly to maintain that time only begins with the Big Bang.

As existence is rooted in being, time is rooted in the atemporal -- which is not timelessness per se, but a different order of time. There is still time in heaven, but it is more analogous to dream time; it is a more fulsome and multifarious time, the "hypertime" from which time is a declension. Herebelow, time cannot give without taking away. In the next (vertically adjacent) world, it only gives, since there can be no privation in God.

I think this goes to the question of "paradise" and of the fall and exile therefrom. Apparently there was -- is -- no privation in Eden. Rather, privation results from a kind of descent. Obviously this descent is not in physical space, but it is nevertheless a kind of vertical plunge. But how? From what? Into what? And can we stop it? Or is resistance to the resistance futile?

This descent must somehow be "away from" the source, the real Absolute. Now, man is always condemned to transcendence, which is another way of saying he is vertically free. Problem is, he is repeatedly seduced by what amounts to a transcendence from below (the sssnake being a perfectly adequate sssymbol of horizontality and below-ness).

Call it sss-sin if you like, but this is a much more systematic plunge than just this or that naughty choice. Leftism, with its iconoclastic destruction of standards and absolutes, is a perpetual transcendence from below, which is why yesterday's liberal is today's fascist.

Secularism in all its forms is an attempt at liberation and wholeness from below. Which of course is impossible. It can never be more than a pseudo-compensation on a lower plane for the loss of the higher. Schuon describes the situation:

Once Heaven was closed and man in effect installed in God's place, the objective measures of things were lost, virtually or actually; they have been replaced by subjective measures, purely human and conjectural pseudo-measures, and thus man has become involved in a movement that cannot be halted, since in the absence of celestial and stable measures there is no longer any reason for it to be halted, so that in the end a stage is reached at which human measures are replaced by infra-human measures until the very idea of truth is abolished.

Aaaand here we are. As mentioned a few posts back, the plague of "fake news" is just a symptom of a much more systematic fakery. For you can't really eliminate God; rather, you just replace him with a fake, and the most destructive faker of all is man. Don't believe me. Believe Dávila:

Not only is humanity the only totally false god, but The Antichrist is probably Man.

So, He who does not believe in God can at least have the decency of not believing in himself.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Crisis of High Self-Esteem

Hmm. I suppose the problem with so few comments is that I no longer have a sense of my audience. Or perhaps even "audience." The absence of feedback breeds a sense of isolation. Or, one can't help interpreting the seeming indifference as a form of feedback. As in silence, the deafening kind.

Suppose you're on stage and pour your heart into a performance. You stare out into the darkness and can't hear any reaction. No one cheers. No one boos. Rather, just silence. One such experience would be a little strange, but repeated ones would start to get eery. And why is this guy up on stage? Is he delusional? Or just pathetic?

I can picture a Twilight Zone episode along these lines. The houselights dim at the commencement of the performance. After increasingly desperate attempts to get a reaction from the audience, our protagonist runs over to the control panel and frantically switches on the lights. He looks out and sees... an audience full of grinning skeletons. The joke's on him.

Am I complaining? Nah. Just wondering. Just typing the first thing that pops into the head, like any other morning.

An added concern is the uniqueness of the blog. Out of the millions of other blogs out there, I feel I am justified in suspecting that there is no other like it. But uniqueness cuts both ways, especially for someone who isn't particularly self-confident. If we are different from the crowd and people don't respond, the default human reaction is to ask What's wrong with me?

In fact, one thing that persistently amazes me about this world is the number of people with far more self-confidence than I will ever have, but with so little reason. Let me be clear: I'm not complaining about low-self esteem. Rather, I think my estimation of myself is pretty objective. What I don't understand is why most everyone in public life seems so lacking in this objectivity.

One could cite thousands of examples from politics, the media, entertainment, and academia, but why, for example, is this Ocasio-Cortez person so preternaturally confident? Why is she not dying of shame? I wouldn't be able to leave the house.

Really, it's just another example of our national crisis of self-esteem. There is waaaaay too much of it. Which is by no means an argument for low self-esteem. Rather, for accurate, which is to say, objective self-esteem. Everyone is precious, but few are special.

Let's say you are a musician, of which there are millions in the world. How many of these are actually special? Certainly fewer than one percent.

Everyone and every skill is distributed along a Bell Curve. If I remember my statistics class correctly, in a normally distributed Bell Curve -- say, vis-a-vis IQ -- 68% of the population will fall one standard deviation above or below the mean, and 95% will be within two standard deviations. 2% are significantly above average (three deviations), while only .1% are waaaay above average (four).

If you are in that .1%, you are entitled to call yourself special. But only in the particular skill being measured! For example, Einstein was no doubt among the .1% in math and physics. What about politics? In that case, he is among the 99.9%.

Labron James? .1% in basketball. Everything else? 99.99.

As you may have noticed from the sidebar, I read a lot of books about musicians and the music industry. I love reading about .1% musicians and their creative process.

But I am also struck at how there seems to be a kind of cosmic compensation at work, such that these musical geniuses and visionaries are not only average in other areas, but often totally dysfunctional. If they weren't great musicians, most would be dead or in prison. It's hard to imagine, for example, Miles Davis, functioning in any other context but music.

We've blogged about this subject in the past. The so-called "self-esteem movement" got underway in the 1970s, and was one of the first signs of the rot that would eventually pervade the discipline of psychology. Note that this movement is an exact inverted image not only of our venerable "wisdom tradition," but every wisdom tradition since man has been man.

"Humility" is not just a spiritual imperative, but a quality of sanity -- of objectivity toward oneself. In other words, if one is honest with oneself, one will naturally be humble. After all, you know all your secrets, so you, more than anyone else, have reason to be humble.

We have a right to feel good about ourselves, so long as we aren't fooling ourselves. But man has no right to ever-estimate himself, because this is a doorway to horror. Our bloodiest century -- that would be #20 -- resulted from the absurdly high self-esteem of a handful of people -- Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, et al.

My son has lately developed an interest in World War II, so the other night I re-watched Saving Private Ryan with him. One comes away from the film with a sense of humility and gratitude toward those who sacrificed for a country that has given us so much. At the end, the elderly Ryan speaks for us when he says to his wife, "tell me I've lived a good life... Tell me I'm a good man!"

Conversely, imagine an Obama -- a malignant narcissist with delusional self-esteem -- who wonders instead why the country doesn't measure up to him.

Well, what have we learned this morning? I don't know. I suppose that with so little feedback, this blog will become more of an idiosyncratic, circumnavelgazing diary. I'm still on stage, performing as usual. But with just me in the audience. Boooooooooo!

Monday, July 30, 2018

When Reality is Against the Law

If reality is outlawed, then only outlaws will be in touch with it. Sounds like a gag, but that thought occurred to me repeatedly while reading the excellent When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. In general I try to fight my nature and be as pessimistic as possible, but this book shows that I have room for improvement on that score.

Let's begin with a wide angle view: if we don't inhabit a common reality, then... then what? It seems to me that both a culture and a nation are rooted in the idea of a common reality -- especially the former, which is prior to the nation. Ideally a nation should share a common culture, but this is obviously not always the case.

Prior to the emergence of the modern nation state, we had empires. Empires ruled over a multitude of peoples with different conceptions of reality. They didn't particularly care what one believed, so long as one didn't threaten the authority of the state. Think of the Jews vis-a-vis the Roman Empire. They were given fairly wide latitude to live in their own reality so long as that reality was subordinate to the reality of Rome.

"Ironic" that the Author of history is a victim of history for precisely violating this principle -- for "stirring up the people" with talk of a kingdom beyond the authority of Caesar. As a result, Reality was essentially crucified by appearances. But you can't get rid of reality that easily. On the one hand,

As long as they do not take him seriously, the man who speaks the truth can live for a while in a democracy. Then, the hemlock.

But lucky for us,

The truth does not need the adherence of man in order to be certain.

More to the point, The truth does not share the defeat of its defenders. Woo hoo!

Here we see that Truth is in history, but history is not truth (Dávila x 4). Again, history crucifies Truth. Repeatedly. But Truth somehow survives. Like a resurrection or something.

Anyway, back to the main thread: most nation states are historical contingencies sprinkled with a bit of necessity. The United States was founded along opposite lines: it is expressly rooted in metaphysical necessity, AKA self-evident truths. While the US obviously has a history, its history should be a kind of temporal unfolding of its timeless first principles: an expanding empire of liberty.

For example, the civil rights movement -- back when it actually promoted civil rights -- was animated by those first principles lodged in the Declaration of Independence. Today it is rooted in the explicit denial of those same principles. How did -- does -- this happen?

It essentially happens because of complacency. For example, if crime were eliminated for a few generations, people would eventually stop locking their doors and arming themselves. Before long, criminals would thrive, and people would wonder and debate about the reasons why.

Back in 1972, President Nixon signed into law an innocuous piece of legislation called Title IX. All it said was that no US citizen "shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal assistance." Nothing in there violates our first principles, because there's nothing in the Constitution suggesting that the federal government should privilege one sex over the other.

But that was back when sex meant sex, and there were two of them. In the meantime, activists have decided that sex means gender, and there are 56 (and counting) of them. Those of us who live in the real world of the plain meaning of the law are now outlaws. Literally.

Everything changed in 2016, when the Obama administration arbitrarily decided that "sex" actually meant "gender." Therefore, Title IX entailed new crimes and regulations that no one had envisioned in 1972 -- back in pre-post-biological days, when there were two sexes.

Based upon the Obama administration's redefinition of sex -- and it's only logical, once you accept the insane premise -- health insurance polices were naturally forced to cover sex-change procedures, from hormone supplementation to body dismemberment. The military too was forced to submit to unreality. Likewise Medicare, sex-specific emergency centers, school bathrooms. "We are collaborating with madness," said psychiatrist Dr. Paul McHugh, "rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it."

Well, it depends on what one means by "madness." Isn't one man's madness just another man's preference? In a way, yes. That is, on a purely political basis, if one is a libertarian, then it costs us nothing if our neighbor wishes to mutilate himself at his own expense. But the idea that I should be forced at gunpoint to pay for the mutilation is another matter entirely.

And on a psychological basis, there actually is -- or used to be -- such a thing as madness. As recently as the 1980s, when I was in graduate school, craziness was still a thing. But that was before the crazies took over the discipline. Now, "As of May 2017, eight states had enacted laws" that bar health-care professionals "from employing practices aimed at changing the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors..."

Now interestingly, the way I was trained, you never try to change anyone per se, whether the patient thinks he's a martian or a member of the opposite sex. Rather, you try to help the patient understand the reasons why he imagines something to be the case. Note that you don't need to search for reasons why someone believes something that is the case.

For example, no one needs to undergo psychoanalysis to uncover the "real" reason why he believes in gravity, or the law of non-contradiction, or that his gender just so happens to match his sex.

But "why" is the most dangerous and subversive -- but liberating -- question humans can ask, so no wonder the left always and everywhere tries to restrict or ban it. To be continued....

Friday, July 27, 2018

When I Wish Becomes It Is

The question before the house is Where are we? Yes, we live in relativity, but relativity can only be understood in light of the Absolute.

However, things get complicated, or at least ambiguous, because we can never know the Absolute, even though we can't do without it. Rather, it exists for us like an implicit placeholder for wholeness and totality. It is like the cognitive sun around which we orbit, except it is a sun we can't literally see. Still, it's always there.

I am reminded of a book conveniently called The Book of Absolutes: A Critique of Relativism and a Defence of Universals. One anthropologist has identified 311 human universals, which are defined as "observable cultural features, practices, behaviors, or beliefs that appear in all human societies in history."

But we're actually talking about something deeper -- something that serves as the prior condition or deep structure of these surface universals, analogous to the "universal grammar" said to underlie all human languages.

Off the top of my head, I would say that these surface universals are to the Absolute as existence is to Being. A thing only exists because it partakes of a Being that is prior to it. Being is necessary, while contingent existents not only partake of Being, but only exist to the extent that they do.

I am at a crossroads. This subject is so full of implications that it could go in a dozen different directions. Let's briefly touch on our civil war. Why are we amidst one? Well, it really comes down to a war between absolutists and relativists. Except with a twist, since the relativists give a pass to their own relativism, and elevate it to a pseudo-absolute.

To repeat an aphorism from yesterday, The progressive believes that everything soon turns obsolete except his ideas. For The relativist rarely relativizes himself.

Really, there can no such thing as an honest relativist, because if there is no truth there can be neither honesty nor dishonesty. So, never ask why this or that leftist politician is "dishonest," for in their universe this is irrelevant. For them, a statement can be expedient, or convenient, or "empowering," but its truth is literally beside (or outside) the point.

So, To scandalize the leftist, just speak the truth. Literally.

Example.

Okay, here is one from When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. Anderson notes that this movement "promotes a radical subjectivity in which individuals should be free to do whatever they wish and to define the truth as they choose" -- BUT -- at the same time call for "enforced conformity of belief in transgender dogma."

Not only is the totalitarian nature of the left clothed in relativism, but relativism is always a prelude to totalitarianism, because with no appeal to truth, power rushes in to fill the vacuum. It's really a heaven-and-hell situation, because hell is any place where truth is not only irrelevant and impotent, but caricatured as a kind of monstrous authoritarianism.

In this inverted cosmos, someone like a Justice Scalia is the authoritarian monster, instead of the bullying anti-intellectual mob of Ginsberg-Kagan-Breyer-Sotomayer.

People say "metaphysics is dead." What they should say is that it is deadly. Anderson correctly notes that

We live in a postmodern age that promotes an alternative metaphysics. At the heart of the transgender moment are radical ideas about the human person -- in particular, that people are what they claim to be, regardless of contrary evidence. A transgender boy is a boy, mot merely a girl who identifies as a boy.

Thus, their rhetoric "drips with ontological assertions: people are the gender they prefer to be." Think for a moment about the implications of a metaphysic in which "I wish" is utterly conflated with "It is." This is a radical subjectivism, but again, opponents -- people who live in the objective world -- are not accorded the same privilege of elevating our wishes to reality.

Now, in reality, I Want must always be parasitic on It Is. For example, perhaps I want a pet unicorn. Well, unicorns Are Not, so my I Want is utterly beside the point. It is just an impotent wish.

I'm also thinking of how the Absolute-Relative complementarity bears on the Appearance-Reality axis. For these same activists transform the reality -- one's biological sex -- into a mere appearance, and the appearance -- what I imagine I am -- into the reality.

It also reminds me of the first principle of economics, which is scarcity, meaning that there is always going to be a tension between I Want and It Is, or desire and desirable. In other words, there is never enough of the latter to satisfy the former.

Think of Venezuela, where they literally can't print enough paper money to satisfy the most simple want. Inflation is verging on "a million percent," but that's just an abstraction rooted in the insane belief that government can satisfy infinite desire. In order to do so, it must itself become absolute, AKA totalitarian.

Socialism can drive away It Is -- including human nature -- with a pitchfork, but it always returns.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Stop the Cosmos and Let Me Off!

I'm still on this question of Where Are We?, which means that it must not have been sufficiently beaten to death yesterday. I have the image in mind of two objects. If one of the objects is moving, there is no way of knowing which one it is.

It reminds me of a fews occasions when I parked my car but forgot to pull the brake. It slowly rolled backward, but out of the corner of my eye it looked as if the car next to me were pulling forward. Then I looked up and saw the wider context, and snapped out of my optical illusion before hitting something behind me.

Well, in the absence of an ontological parking brake, we are unavoidably trapped in an existential illusion from which there is no escape. Absoluteness must be somewhere, or thinking itself is impossible. For if knowledge isn't certain, then it isn't knowledge.

It's analogous to the solar system. It too has a center around which things turn. And just like the car analogy, it looks as if earth has a parking brake and the sun is rolling forward.

Recall the pneumagraph of the cosmos in yesterday's post, with us at the center. As we've discussed in the past, you have to actually imagine a cone like shape, such that the center is also at the top.

This is true both literally and figuratively, as we are simultaneously at the center of existence and uniquely able to regard it from the outside or top. The unthinking cliché that heliocentrism and Darwinism somehow ousted man from the center of the universe is just... an unthinking cliché. To the extent that it is true, it can only be said by a creature situated at the top and center. It can only be said by someone with access to a cognitive parking brake.

Let's be precise here. It's not that the human subject is the center, but it is a center because it is a prolongation or projection of Celestial Central. We are anchored in absoluteness, or in the orbit of O. It is why we can know things with certainty. To say certitude is to say God. Which is why it is NO JOKE to say that if God doesn't exist, only He knows it.

Granted, there is Certitude and there is "certitude." One fallout from the fall is that man is obnoxiously certain about certain things that are only anchored in illusion. You could say that with the Fall, man lost his parking brake and therefore his certitude. With no parking brake, there are only opinions.

It reminds me of our Constitution, which is supposed to be our political parking brake. If the Constitution starts to move, then there is literally no brake on the power of the state. Then absoluteness is transferred from the people to the state, and our experiment in liberty is effectively over. Which is precisely how the left has wanted it to be, beginning with Woodrow Wilson:

“If you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface.” Equality, natural rights, consent of the governed -- these are not the fundamental principles that inform the purpose of government....

The Founders held that the purpose and form of government was inextricably tied to a fixed and imperfect human nature. Wilson, on the other hand, argued that government must evolve because human nature itself is changeable, and has progressed beyond the limitations that the Founders identified.

Far from fearing man’s capacity to form majority factions and trample on the rights of others, Wilson held that human beings, now enlightened by the passage of time, could be entrusted with power without abusing it.

In short, the Constitution, what with its stupid parking brake, "hinders the achievements of true justice." That would be social justice, which is the pretext for a power both omniscient and omnipotent, because only such a power could restore man to primordial justice -- good and hard. It's another name for Hell, and it's as simple as 1-2-3:

1: The proclamation of our autonomy is the founding act of Hell.

2: The progressive believes that everything soon turns obsolete except his ideas.

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

Or put it this way:

Here begins the gospel of Hell: In the beginning was nothing and it believed nothing was god, and was made man, and dwelt on earth, and by man all things were made nothing (Dávila x 4).

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Where Are We Really?

Picking up the previous thread, the first freedom -- or at least its precondition -- is freedom from oneself, i.e., self-transcendence. This introduces a seeming paradox into the cosmos, which is to say, a Who and Whom in the same being. Just Who is free from Whom? Who is the who and who is the whom? And how?

Freedom necessarily leads all the way to the top: to say freedom is to say God. Conversely, to deny God is to eliminate even the possibility of freedom and of thinking (and therefore of man). Some people will say, problem solved! But Stanley Jaki speaks for me:

What is needed is merely an intimation that freedom or rather free will belies mere material existence.... For, in the final analysis, the elemental registering of free will almost exhausts whatever can be said about its reality.
Some things are irreducible: they cannot be reduced to anything but themselves. Freedom is one of these irreducibles. It is like a rope suspended from the source of being to the center of the soul. If it weren't there, then there would be no escape or inscape. We would be sealed under an impenetrable sheet of rock, or buried alive in our own neurology, or enclosed in absolute tenure.

Not to abruptly change the subject, but all weekend I was haunted (in a good way) by the question, Where are we? In the absence of God, it is impossible to answer this question in a non-relativistic way. You could say we are on earth, but earth is relative to the sun, the sun to the Milky Way, the Milky Way to some galactic cluster, etc., all the way up to a cognitive placeholder we call the "cosmos."

Below is a pneumagraph of the situation, with you at the center:

Says wiki, it depicts the "observable universe with the Solar System at the center, inner and outer planets, Kuiper belt, Oort cloud, Alpha Centauri, Perseus Arm, Milky Way galaxy, Andromeda galaxy, nearby galaxies, Cosmic Web, Cosmic microwave radiation and the Big Bang's invisible plasma on the edge."

As far as we know, there is no freedom anywhere in this image except at the very center, where you and I dwell at the moment. But freedom itself is a kind of center; you might say that wherever freedom is, there is a subjective center. To a large extent, these two are synonymous: to say subjective center is to say space-of-freedom.

Back to the question of Where we are. Obviously, if this is a relativistic cosmos, then we are nowhere, precisely. You could say that we are relative to the cosmos, but then you've snuck an absolute in through the back door. Again, no one has ever seen the cosmos, and no one ever will. It is an abstract placeholder for a presumed unity of existence. And this presumed unity is just a horizontal shadow of the missing God. As if a shadow can exist without an object and light!

There is no question that we are relative. But relative to what? If we are relative to relativity, this equates to the absolute nothingness of the existentialists. The only other possibility is that we are relative to the Absolute, AKA God. Thus, in answer to the question of where we are, we are either nowhere or in the orbit of God. There are no other possibilities, so at least be honest with yourself.

But what does it mean to be honest with oneself? Now we've introduced a third term to the Who and Whom mentioned in the first paragraph: now we have Who, Whom, and Honesty. We could even say that the Who transcends the Whom in Truth.

Does this make any sense? Another way of outlining the terms is Subject, Object, Adequatuon. Indeed, this is the very structure of science. But it is also the structure of any inquiry of any kind. And the whole thing must circulate in Freedom, or it's just a pointless machine.

Where are we? Good question. Recall that it is the first thing God asks Adam upon his auto-exile: Where are you? It's a rhetorical question, of course. Up to this point Adam is in the orbit of God, i.e., relative to the Absolute. But Adam chooses to be his own pseudo-absolute, and is therefore plunged into the cold and dark of absolute relativity. No wonder he's naked and afraid!

If this post has been a little wooly, here is Schuon explaining it in a more straight upward way:

Human intelligence is, virtually and vocationally, the certitude of the Absolute. The idea of the Absolute implies on the one hand that of the relative and on the other that of the relationship between the two, namely the prefiguration of the relative in the Absolute and the projection of the Absolute in the relative.

Now, go back up to the pneumagraph above. Again, that's you at the center. But you are a projection of the Absolute, which is precisely the difference between being nowhere and somewhere, and even everywhere.

For this is the old circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere. The only alternative is a scientistic/materialistic/atheistic circle whose center is nowhere and periphery everywhere. And if that were our situation, we could never know it. For we are at once in and out of the cosmos; in knowing it we transcend it in freedom and truth, like so:

Friday, July 20, 2018

The First Freedom

In the previous post we were discussing the abilities that not only elevate man over animal, but truly define him, those being an intelligence that discerns between reality and appearance; a will that chooses between good and evil; and sentiment capable of disinterest -- "of looking at itself from without, just as it can put itself in another's place" (Schuon).

Note that these three are necessarily entangled with one another -- distinct but never radically separate, like... like a great a jazz trio or something.

For example, if we cannot distinguish reality from appearances, then it will be difficult to discern good from evil. Instead of choosing the actual good, we might be attracted to what looks or sounds good. In other words, we might be seduced by leftism, which, you might say, is the Doctrine of Good Intentions. But intentions are situated in a temporal chain of cause and effect, and if you champion the cause then you own the effect.

For it is written:

Liberal ideas are congenial. Their consequences are disastrous.

Because The theses of the left are rationalizations that are carefully suspended before reaching the argument that dissolves them (Dávila).

So, if you think the left has ever solved a problem, just wait. Progressives deal only in appearances and therefore symptoms, such that the real problem always returns.

For example, Chicago has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. So, what's the real problem? Likewise, New York and San Francisco have the most stringent rent control laws in the country, and are two of the most unaffordable places to live. What happened? Or, cities such as Seattle and Portland mandate that employers pay employees more than they're worth, which leads to businesses closing and increased unemployment. I wonder why? Are there laws of economics or something?

More generally, we see that freedom, although one of our most precious birthrights, can become worthless or harmful if detached from its telos in the true and good. If freedom is just freedom, then to hell with it. It is then indistinguishable from nihilism, or even the last word in nothingness. And if you don't understand this literally, then you're not paying attention. You've missed a step somewhere.

More ineluctable truth from the Aphorist:

Freedom is not an end, but a means. Whoever sees it as an end in itself does not know what to do with it when he gets it.

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

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

I know, Alex! What is Hollywood?

It get's worse, because freedom misunderstood and misused transforms into a kind of Nameless Dread -- or to what Sartre rightly called existential nausea: total freedom = comprehensive meaninglessness. Which is ironic, because denial of freedom also = comprehensive meaninglessness. Why? Because, although they appear opposite, they are unified in their rejection of our divine-human telos.

I don't mean to lean so hard on the Aphorist this morning, but when you're right you're right, and who else can be so right with so few words?

Whoever is liberated from everything that oppresses him soon discovers that he is also liberated from what protects him.

And if you want to understand this principle all the way down -- or up -- you have to understand it in terms of following in the footsteps of our first father, Adam. His kind of willful "bad liberation" liberates us from what protects us, precisely.

Liberation. One could veer off into a whole new post with the misuse of that word alone! "Women's liberation." "Black liberation." "Gay liberation." "Palestinian liberation." And other traps:

Today what is called “intellectual liberation” is a change of prisons.

Total liberation is the process that constructs the perfect prison.

What is our "first freedom?" -- the freedom that renders man possible? Or, without which no other freedoms can be actualized? I'll let you think about your answer, while I think about mine.

Freedom of speech? Property? Association? Self-defense?

Nah, I don't think those drill all the way down. The first freedom must be... from oneself! This goes back to what Schuon says above about the ability to adopt a disinterested perspective, to look at oneself as if from the outside, and to put ourselves in the place of the other.

This puts a whole new spin on Jesus's reduction of the Law to the love of God and of neighbor, both of which require and perfect self-transcendence. A man who cannot transcend himself is not only not worthy of freedom, but can't really exercise it in its real sense.

For true charity -- AKA caritas -- "consists in abolishing the egocentric distinction between 'me' and the 'other'"; it "implies seeing ourselves in the other and the other in ourselves; the scission between ego and alter must be overcome, that the cleavage between Heaven and earth may be healed" (Schuon).

So, the first freedom and the first charity involve the elimination of an assoul -- a self-centered assoul called I.

The first act of charity is to rid the soul of illusions and passions and thus rid the world of a maleficent being; it is to make a void so that God may fill it and, by this fullness, give Himself. A saint is a void open for the passage of God (Schuon).

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Essential Truth & the God of Gaplessness

The end came abruptly this morning, so let's hurry! Not you. Just me. You are free to read as slowly as usual.

Schuon has a way of reducing complex realities to their essence, but this essence then rebounds and causes its own explosion(s), expanding outward (and inward), as it were.

I suppose it's not dissimilar to scientific theories -- for example, the theory of natural selection, which reduces the entire biosphere to a simple formula, which then leads to explosive insights -- to seeing the world in a new way.

I studied a great many psychological theories back in the day, but none were as pithy -- nor as essential -- as this: that man is intelligence, will, and sentiment, and that's about it. Actually, that's only a partial description, because any mammal has intelligence, will, and emotion/sentiment. What then sets apart and defines man?

Let's begin with the first, intelligence -- after all, we are the sapiential homo, i.e., the wise ape. What makes us wise, at least in potential?

One could characterize human intelligence in several ways: it is objective, i.e., capable of detachment and disinterest; it is transcendent, i.e., immaterial, or distinct from the matter it considers; and it is total, i.e., capable of comprehending anything susceptible to comprehension, from the empirical below to the rational, mathematical, and principial above.

These capabilities are -- literally in this case -- a quantum leap above the animal domain. Problem, is, orthodox biology does not permit of leaps, so there must (for it) be a continuum between ape and man, and therefore (to take just one example) embodied intelligence and transcendent, disembodied intelligence.

But that's a tough argument to make. As we've said before, devotees of scientism like to ridicule the "God of the gaps," but a much more serious problem is their primitive god of gaplessness.

Why? Because the gaps are ineluctably real, and you can't make them go away by a simple wave of the tongue. Some of the more important gaps are between necessary being and contingent existence, matter and life, and life and consciousness.

It reminds me of what Justice Scalia said about people who argue for a constitutional "middle path," say, between a Gorsuch and a Ginsburg. What, to paraphrase Scalia's rhetorical question, is the compromise between what the Constitution says and what liberals want it to say?

It would have to be a modest wish or a slight fantasy or a mild delusion. This doesn't actually eliminate the gap between Is and Want, or Truth and Desire, but just papers it over with what Bion calls hallucinosis:

In other words, the patient... has to deny the existence of an external reality that restricts, oppresses and threatens him with the pain of frustration. Therefore, the only "reality" in which he "believes" is the "reality" generated by himself through the method of hallucinosis.

Indeed, this is why Bion maintained that only the Lie requires a thinker, whereas Truth simply is. This idea made perfect sense to me when I first encountered it some three decades ago, and now I know why. For The truth does not need the adherence of man in order to be certain (Dávila).

Man, for example, is endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights. This will always be true, even should the left stack the Supreme Court with enough Ginsburgs to deny it.

Other aphorisms come at the same truth from different angles:

Truth is never a definitive conquest. It is always a position that has to be defended. This is our vocation and our lot. On the positive side, they say a defensive war is always easier than an offensive war.

The truth does not share the defeat of its defenders. This is why the left must be tirelessly hyperactive, even in "victory." See how quickly the redefinition of marriage morphed into the transgender nonsense.

Man goes out hunting less for truths than for loopholes. Again, this requires a thinker, or even worse -- a constitutional scholar!

Truths are whatever any imbecile refutes. As you no doubt know from speaking with liberals, A few lines are enough to demonstrate a truth. Not even a library is enough to refute an error.

Truly, you can't win, unless you are dealing with a person who loves truth for its own sake, but then you're getting into the third human trait mentioned above, disinterested sentiment. For It is the truth of an idea in which we must rejoice, not in its victory. Because no victory lasts.

To be continued...

Monday, July 16, 2018

Fake Nous

The world of fake news encompasses an area far more vast and problematic than just the idiots of the MSM. For really, it goes to the essential dilemma facing man, i.e., the discernment between reality and appearances. The sufficient reason of the intellect (nous) is to know truth. If not, then it -- and man -- is a superfluous absurdity.

The Bible rightly traces the issue back to the very (vertical) beginning: the serpent delivers fake news to Eve, who in turn passes it on to Adam. God then asks Adam "what's new?," and Adam proceeds to lie to God. What else is new?

Now, God is the very source and possibility of truth. Lying to him is like... oh, exiling oneself from paradise. Lies not only fail to attract heaven, but actively repel it. The heavenly presence flees before journalism and tenure. Every bit of fakery retraces the fall.

But the problem goes much deeper than mere bad information, because we live in an age in which "truth" has been subjectivized and is therefore no longer true, precisely. In order to understand this, we need to go back about, oh, 500 years, when it was understood that what we call truth involves adequation of the subject to an object. There is really no other alternative, at least if you want to preserve the category of truth (instead of mere "truth").

For if truth isn't adequation to an objective reality, then it really is just opinion -- which immediately devolves to a situation in which the opinion with the most muscle wins, AKA power prevails over truth.

The left, of course, likes to pretend it "speaks truth to power," but in reality it always speaks opinion backed by power. What is the left but a medley of policies so attractive that we are compelled to assent to them under the threat of state violence?

Truth isn't like that. Rather, truth attracts before it compels. To the extent that it compels, it is like math: if we say two plus two must equal four, that's not a coercion, much less a threat, but a liberating realization.

Likewise, on another plane, if we say there are two and only two genders, that's not slavery but liberation. The whole of science -- or technology, rather -- is based on the idea that bowing to nature on one level leads to mastery of nature on another. You can prefer magic to science, but it will get you nowhere.

The bottom line is that, as Schuon says, "truth comes in a sense from the outside, presenting itself to the subject who may or may not accept it." We are "free" to reject truth, at least in the short term. But truth will always have its vengeance.

Indeed, what is "the fall" but truth avenged? Sure, the contingent can usurp the role of the Absolute, the finite the infinite, man God. For awhile. The cosmos is either a spiraling message from God to himself -- from Alpha to Omega -- or it is a closed and meaningless tautology that man fashions from his own delusions.

Ideology -- which is a substitute for truth -- always devolves to ideolatry. This is because man is always homo religiosus, which is why he instinctively reveres truth, even when it is a lie. Yes, many leftists (especially at the top) are cynical manipulators, but the really dangerous ones are those who are sincerely passionate in defense of their delusion, i.e., in their ideolatry.

Again, the "transition from objectivism to subjectivism reflects and renews in its own way the fall of Adam and the loss of Paradise" (Schuon). Where did paradise go? It was swallowed by the Lie. For the Light still shines in the darkness -- the Truth in the false, the reality in the appearances -- but men neither see nor comprehend it.

Therefore, the celestial world, the Kingdom of Heaven, "is shut off from above without our noticing the fact," but this is compensated for by the (or a) world -- as in the old gag about losing one's soul but gaining the world. Or, you could say, gaining the horizontal at the expense of the vertical, but it is only the latter that gives meaning to the former. In the absence of verticality, man and world are nothing, just a brief swarm of insects.

Yes, the world becomes like a giant roach motel: attractive and enticing, but not the least bit liberating. You check in at birth, but in so doing, you check into a prison. With postmodernity, we reach a stage in which "human measures are replaced by infra-human measures until the very idea of truth is abolished" (ibid.).

Mission accompliced, in that Satan could never achieve such a grand finale without his favorite accomplice -- i.e., without man's tireless cooperation.

But not to worry. The truth does not share the defeat of its defenders (Dávila). And I AM -- the ultimate truth, or Truth of truth -- has overcome the world.

Friday, July 13, 2018

A World of Language and the Grammar of Being

Continuing with the previous post... yes, it was an idiosyncratic one, but what am I supposed to do? Refuse it before it comes down? Mark it "return to sender"? Tell it to find another stenographer? You can't do that, because you don't know what you have until you have it. Yes, but prepositions? Do they really have anything to do with anything, let alone everything?

My first impulse would be to say "nah," but the more I think about it, the more central they are -- beginning with the more general idea that this is not just a logocentric cosmos but a grammatical one, because words are of limited use if they aren't ordered. My dogs, for example, know a few words, but they don't know any sentences.

Now I'm in the wayback machine, remembering when I used to work the graveyard shift in a supermarket. While stocking the shelves I'd listen to an esoteric radio program that was on from midnight to 5:00 AM, that broadcasted lectures by a spectrum of eminent spiritual, psychological, philosophical, and scientific cranks and geniuses. One of my favorites was Terence McKenna, and he used to go on about how the universe was not made of atoms, electrons, or quarks, but of language. It seemed daring and revolutionary at the time, but now strikes me as duh!

Let me see if I can find an exact quote. Speaking of downloading posts, McKenna writes of his own experience, "as though my ordinary, rather humdrum personality had simply been turned off and speaking through me was the voice of another, a voice that was steady, unhesitating, and articulate..."

Indeed, sometimes I understand something only because of a kind of "unhesitating authority" with which I say it. In other words, the authority doesn't come from me. Rather, I myself assent to this authority, whatever or whoever this "Petey" is. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Often you don't know what you really believe until you blurt it out. When you do, it is as if it comes from your center, and vanquishes -- at least temporarily -- all doubt.

[T]he normally invisible syntactical web that holds both language and the world together can condense or change its ontological status and become visible. Indeed, there seems to be a parallel mental dimension in which everything is made of the stuff of visible language... (McKenna).

A syntactical web that holds both language and the world together. Before you ask yourself if there could be such a thing, ask yourself how there couldn't be. Moreover, being that the grammar is universal, "organisms have enfolded" in their structure "a message about the structure of the larger universe" (ibid.).

In a very real sense, this is completely uncontroversial, for if the human intellect can accurately describe the nature of reality, it means that this nature is in us. Animals certainly can't do anything remotely similar. It brings to mind the words of Schuon:

Being total, the intelligence takes cognizance of all that is, in the world of principles [vertically] as well as in that of phenomena [horizontally].... Every man can do so in principle, whereas animals cannot.... To say that man is endowed with a sentiment capable of objectivity means that he possesses a subjectivity not closed in on itself, but open unto others and unto Heaven...

These are such key ideas that we could spend the rest of the post unpacking them. Perhaps the Key of keys, however, is that while all living beings have a subjectivity, ours is not -- or should not be -- closed in on itself. To the extent that is closed, then it is or becomes dead -- either horizontally or vertically.

This is the deeper principle to which "free speech" appeals. Both freedom and language are nothing if they do not converge on something higher, and they cannot do so unless they are open. Which reminds me of some good news I saw at Ace of Spades this morning:

Indeed, if you went to commit cognitive, spiritual, and civilizational suicide, just ignore this important study. In Civilization: The West and the Rest, Ferguson writes of how this befell both Asia and the Islamic world, and not just "in a manner of speaking," but quite literally, for they deliberately chose vertical and horizontal closure.

China, for example, by 1500 "became willfully hostile to other people's innovations," thereby condemning itself to centuries of stagnation and shrinkage. Likewise, so fearful were the Ottomans of opposing points of view that in 1515 Sultan Salim "threatened with death anyone found using the printing press." Ultimately, the willful "failure to reconcile Islam with scientific progress was to prove disastrous."

"Horizontally," writes Schuon, "the Truth concerns the cosmic, hence phenomenal order," while vertically "it concerns the metaphysical, hence principial order." The world is a tapestry -- a vast area rug -- of principles and phenomena. This is true for believer or unbeliever, clued in duddhist or dead-end clueless alike; it's just that the latter either reduces the vertical to horizontal, or elevates the horizontal to vertical. Both approaches generate incoherence and absurdity. Immediately, if you're paying attention.

Put conversely, the only way to pull this off is to not pay attention to what you're doing: to pull the wool over your own eyes, or to pull the rabbit out of your own head. To what, for example, is the leftist appealing by the desire to shut down free speech? Free speech? No, that can't be. Likewise, to what does the left appeal in its objection to a SCOTUS judge who pledges to be constrained by the plain meaning of Constitution? The Constitution? No, can't be either.

Speaking of witch, to what principle does the "democratic socialist" appeal, democracy or socialism? That's easy: "free stuff" (AKA bribery) before the witch has fifty percent, "democracy" afterwards. Then democracy can be deployed to deny and overturn our liberal order, i.e., private property, the rule of law, and unalienable rights.

It has also occurred to me that the free market economy, a la Hayek, is actually a giant information processing system. Everything we need to know about this system is encoded in the price mechanism, which tells us in an instant about supply, demand, scarcity, availability, etc. Therefore, perhaps the biggest reason why we should object to socialism is on free speech grounds, since it absolutely prevents the economy from transmitting accurate information about supply and demand.

Consider the three areas of the economy most distorted by socialist policies: medicine, college, and housing. Why is a house, of all things, so freaking expensive in California? Because the Democratic socialists who run the state will not allow the economy to speak freely about the subject.

Here is the quote I was looking for, but now we're out of time:

I don't believe that the world is made of quarks or electromagnetic waves, or stars, or planets or any of these things. I believe the world is made of language (McKenna).