For example, last night I had a dream that took place in the southern US. I was looking at an empty space where one of their statues had been removed. An old classmate from grad school recognized me, and I sat at her table while pretending to recognize her.
As we chatted, I defended the statues, suggesting to her that there was much more to southern culture than just slavery -- as there is more to Germany than Nazism (or more even to New York than the Times). But she was thoroughly steeped in the Narrative, and obviously didn't understand where I was coming from. I could tell she suspected I was a racist, and there was no way for me to escape the imputation. In such situations, the more you try to explain, the more defensive and guilty you sound.
So, it was a case of level confusion. Yes, it was also a case of narrative vs. truth, but such simplistic narratives can only exist at a certain cognitive level. A more intelligent or curious or openminded person questions the narrative and thereby escapes the matrix.
Eh, that's not a very good example. How about this one: a couple evenings ago I had a wide-ranging conversation with a lady. She asked what I did for a living, and I said "psychologist," which for some reason always gets a rise out of people. But I always qualify it right away, since I don't at all relate to the field. Okay, then what am I?
Good question. Really, I'm just this guy having a wide-ranging conversation with you, nothing more, nothing less. It's kind of what I do. Including on this blog.
But again, it's a question of depth. For me, psychology is dwarfed by metaphysics, theology, mysticism, esoterism, philosophy. The latter are totally compelling, in comparison to which psychology is a cage.
Indeed, it reminds me of the old gag to the effect that for the sage, paradise is a prison. You could drop me into any earthly paradise, but if I didn't have the space and time(lessness) to simply be, then it wouldn't be paradise.
So, in a very important way, being is paradise, and vice versa. That's a bold statement. Can you back it up? I think you're just lazy -- and probably neurotic -- and that you hide behind these fancy metaphysical ideas to conceal your lack of achievement.
Oh shut up. One mother-in-law is enough.
Looking back on it, I've always been sensitive to "class." Not economic class, nor social standing. Rather, something more ethereal... I'm sure Raccoons know what I'm talking about: there are supernaturally natural aristocrats, or "beings of light," so to speak. Can't you tell when you're in the presence of one? Of course you can. You can also feel the darkness. The remarkable thing is that some -- or most -- people can't.
For example, Rachel Maddow is apparently the most popular cable news host these days. I literally cannot imagine what it would be like to regard her as normal -- to not sense the dark-and-crazy. Conversely, there are people who regard, say, Churchill as Hitler. Not just on the fringe, but in the Washington Post (my mother-in-law sent me the link, worried that I might be giving our son a one-sided perspective).
Hmm... if Churchill is Hitler, that means Hitler is Churchill, so what's the big deal?
This post is turning into the Usual Friday Ramble, isn't it? Let's try to restore order with some gimlet words from Schuon. And what is order but awareness of, and respect for, levels?
The man of “aristocratic” nature -- we are not speaking of social classes -- is he who masters himself and who loves to master himself; the “plebeian” by nature -- with the same reservation -- is on the contrary he who does not master himself, and who does not wish to do so.
To master oneself is in substance to want to transcend oneself, in conformity with the reason for being of that central and total creature which is man; in fact, the man of the “dark age” lives below himself. Thus he must transcend himself -- or re-establish the equilibrium between Maya and Atma -- in accordance with a norm which he bears within himself, and which comprises all that makes life worth living.
For example... let's just say I know of a family of billionaires in which the wife and daughters are devoted to the TV program Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Can you even imagine what that must be like? Which proves -- as if such proof is necessary -- that no amount of money can purchase the kind of class under discussion.
I can hear it now: who are you to speak of class, when you support Trump! Again, level confusion: politics is politics. Dennis Prager speaks for me:
the policies of a political leader matter much more -- morally -- than that individual’s sexual sins, or even character. It is truly foolish to argue otherwise.... That “60 Minutes” correspondent Anderson Cooper and many in our country found it acceptable to ask a woman, “Did he use a condom?” on national TV is a far graver reflection of America’s moral malaise than a man having a one-night affair 12 years ago....
The fact is it is none of my business and none of my concern whether a politician ever had an extramarital affair. To cite just one of many examples, a president’s attitude toward the genocide-advocating Islamic tyrants in Tehran is incomparably more morally significant. That is just one of many reasons -- on moral grounds alone -- I far prefer the current president to the faithful-to-his-wife previous president.
It is apparently difficult to escape the caste to which one has been assigned. Think of all the academics who shouldn't be thinking, but rather, engaged in some productive form of manual labor. Most of the real trouble in the world can be traced to miscaste "intellectuals."
Schuon: "Caste takes precedence over race because spirit has priority over form; race is a form while caste is a spirit." But the left, from Andrew Jackson to the present, maintains the opposite: that race is critically important. Really, diversity and multiculturalism are the substitution of race for natural hierarchy, such that even truth itself is denied.
We've discussed the idea of caste before. You don't have to take it literally to understand that there is something to it, based upon everyday experience. Who hasn't met a warrior, or priest, or scholar, or laborer, or merchant? Nor do I, for example, pretend to be a warrior. I could probably be one, but it wouldn't be me -- the guy who likes to have pointless, wide-ranging conversations.
There is first of all the intellective, speculative, contemplative, sacerdotal type, which tends towards wisdom or holiness; holiness referring more particularly to contemplation, and wisdom to discernment.
Next there is the warlike and royal type, which tends towards glory and heroism; even in spirituality... this type will readily be active, combative and heroic, hence the ideal of the “heroicalness of virtue.”
The third type is the respectable “average” man: he is essentially industrious, balanced, persevering; his center is love for work that is useful and well done, and carried out with God in mind; he aspires neither to transcendence nor to glory -- although he desires to be both pious and respectable -- but like the sacerdotal type, he loves peace and is not interested in adventures; a tendency which predisposes him to a contemplativeness conformable with his occupations.
Lastly there is the type that has no ideal other than that of pleasure in the more or less coarse sense of the word; this is concupiscent man who, not knowing how to master himself, has to be mastered by others, so that his great virtue will be submission and fidelity.
Modern liberalism is premised on the idea that anyone can be anything, which is really a way of saying that everyone is nobody. We are not infinitely malleable. You are who you are, and it is a matter of actualizing and deepening that you, not pretending you're someone else.
Surely there must be some aphorisms that can save this wayward and wooly post from itself!
Equality is not justice; it is merely the way of avoiding the obligation of attributing to each his own.
Unjust inequality is not remedied by equality, but by just inequality.
Leveling is the barbarian’s substitute for order.
Where equality permits liberty to enter, inequality slips in.
He who claims equal opportunity ends up requiring that the gifted be penalized.
There is something definitively vile about the man who only admits equals, who does not tirelessly seek out his betters.
Equality is not the fulfillment but the perversion of equity. Only a hierarchical ordering proceeds equitably with “the lion and the ox” (Dávila).
By the way, I'm not saying I'm better than anyone else. Indeed, I would love for just once to be normal. But I've resigned myself to the realization that that is something that can never be. So the conversation continues...