Friday, October 12, 2018

Falcons and Falconers, Mobs and their Masters

Aw, look at me, I'm ramblin' again...

This morning I was looking for that quote (by Schuon) promised in the previous post, but in so doing fell into another unanticipated rabbit hole. Then again, maybe that's why I find the post s'durned innarestin'.

Schuon is like Dávila in his compressed rabbitholery: the sentences are fractal, such that each one contains a whole essay or book or even doctrine, so to utter One is to mutter it All.

Remarkable when you think about it. I know of no other writers who do that. Some come close, and some do it sometimes, but these two are masters of fractal speech. Which is a real thing requiring a real explanation, not something I just made up. Oh, we'll see about that!, said the rational side of his brain.

I assume you know about fractals, but a brief review never hurts:

a fractal is a detailed, recursive, and infinitely self-similar mathematical set.... Fractals exhibit similar patterns at increasingly small scales.... [and] can also be nearly the same at different levels.

Fractals exist in nature, but how? To put it more philosophically, by virtue of what principle are fractals possible and even necessary? As Mandelbrot, the discoverer of fractals, remarked, "A fractal is a shape made of parts similar to the whole in some way." I would say that if fractals are in nature, this must be because nature is fractal, which is what Whitehead suggested in so many ways (before the formal discovery of fractals). For example,

in a certain sense, everything is everywhere at all times. For every location involves an aspect of itself in every other location. Thus, every spatio-temporal standpoint mirrors the world.

Dávila suggests that

Phrases are pebbles the that the writer tosses into the reader's soul. The diameter of the concentric waves they displace depends on the dimensions of the pond.

This implies that the soul is a series of concentric circles, and this would be correct. It is why we apprehend the world as just such a series, except that different people locate the circles around different centers, from energy to idea to soul to matter to unalloyed grievance (in the case of the left).

Leaving the dimensions of the pond to the side, there must be a center, or we couldn't think at all. Now, this center is the ground of thought, and -- whether implicitly or explicitly, coherently or incoherently -- a prolongation of the absolute.

Let's bring this down to a practical level: why is the nation of E pluribus unum -- of all places -- engaged in a civil war? Easy: different unums, which is to say, Absolutes.

The (real) Absolute includes the dimension of first principles, which you might say are as Son to Father. The Absolute "iterates" in time and space as (for example) principles of logic, natural law, and human nature. These constants are all different, and yet the same; they are brothers and sisters, related through blood to the vertical Absolute. They are also fractal, in that each "contains" and reflects the others, so it is more like an interlocking net than, say, a pointillist painting.

The point is, everything isn't just connected, but interior to everything else. On the metaphysical side, this is expressed by Whitehead; on the scientific side, by quantum physics; on the psychological side by intersubjectivity; and on the religious side by the great I AM or the irreducible interpersonalism of the Holy Spirit.

Ultimate reality is and must be personal, which is to say, Person, or human persons would be impossible. And a person is never just a person-in-isolation, or a monad; rather, a person is always implicitly person-in-relation, and this principle is the last (and first) word.

I need to emphasize how literal I'm being here. It's similar to how the Bible doesn't mention the word "Trinity." Rather, the Trinity is needed in order to tie up various loose ends that otherwise make no sense. It is the Truth of these lesser truths -- as in how quantum physics is the truth of Newtonian physics, which is the truth of our common sense world of experience.

Likewise, the Absolute is Person(hood); conversely, if it isn't a person, then truly, the center cannot hold, mere an-archy is loosed upon the world, and uh oh, here comes the blood-dimmed mob.

Again, I'm not trying to go all visionary on you this morning. Although Yeats words have become a cliche used by both right and (without irony or self-awareness) left, he was definitely on to something concrete. Yes, he was a visionary, but a vision is not a hallucination.

Let's put it this way: both the left and right agree that the gyre is widening. If there exists a "responsible left," it has lost control of its falcon mobs. But the falcon masters don't call their birdbrains mobs. Rather, they would no doubt say that a vast image troubles their sight, with the shape of a businessman and the head of a tyrant, a rough beast slouching toward re-election!

Back to what is at issue in our civil war: ultimately it is the Absolute on one side, and Absolute Relativism on the other. The latter, of course, reduces to nihilism, but don't tell the nihilists! Nevertheless, this is the only way to understand the ground of leftism.

For example, on one side we have the Constitution, on the other side whatever they want the Constitution to say. But if the Constitution can say anything, then it says nothing.

Which was true of the Soviet Union. The communist bill of rights was much better than ours. But what did it actually mean in practice? That's right: nothing. No, worse than nothing!

The clock is ticking down, so I want to get back to Schuon, which is where this all started. He writes that "If there is such a thing as abuse of the intelligence, it is to be found in the substitution of the relative for the Absolute..."

Intelligence on one side, abuse of it on the other. No wonder we're in a civil war.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Matrices of Life, Mind, and Spirit

I want to tie up some loose ends from yesterday's post. In so doing, we'll no doubt loosen some tight ends, but that's how it is with thinking: it is always a dialectical process of loosening and tightening, or what I call mental metabolism.

You could say that it is analysis (breaking down, loosening) and synthesis (integrating, tightening), but these two poles are always necessary for any deep thinking. Really, it is what makes us human instead of computers or robots or ideologues.

Schuon touches on this somewhere. If I'm lucky, I'll find it right away. If not, I'll move on.

Damn. I'm looking for something totally unrelated, but it is as if the first book I pick up comments on what I've already said: "The image of man presented to us by modern psychology is not only fragmentary, it is pitiable." Quite true. Which is why it no longer interests me; or, it interests me, but only up to a point -- the point at which psychology shades off into theology (and vice versa, for the dimension of psychology is a prolongation of something higher; the converse -- that religion is reducible to psychology -- is a popular delusion).

"In reality man is as if suspended between animality and divinity," but "modern thought -- be it philosophical or scientific -- admits only animality, practically speaking."

Now, if you haven't understood that literally, then you haven't understood it. For what is man in the absence of divinity? Correct: he is an animal, nothing more, nothing less. What we call "man" takes place in the nonlocal space between animality and divinity.

Which touches directly on the Kavanaugh madness and on our civil war more generally. Since the 1960s in particular, the left has been attacking and undermining every human norm, including norms of sexuality. Mission accomplished. Now what?

Well, now we are bearing witness to an unleashing of all the primitive energy which the norms had previously structured and channeled. Note also that what had been a spontaneous order that was evolved in order to cope with this perennial and insoluble problem, now had to be an external order imposed by some top-down bureaucracy -- e.g., campus sex police.

It is no different than if we had abolished the civilizational norms that channel any other instinct, say, aggression. Which liberals also did. Only when he has eroded law and order does the ahistorical liberal discover why law and order were there to begin with.

Thus, the soft-on-crime mania of the 1960s was followed immediately by a hard-on-citizens mania on the part of criminals for the subsequent two or three decades. Criminals are stupid, but not so stupid that they don't know how to recognize and respond to incentives. The same pattern repeated with President Obama's ceaseless attack on police. As we know, inner city blacks were and are the predominant victims of the Ferguson Effect.

Anyway, man exists in a matrix; and not just one, but several. Now, matrix comes from mater (mother), which is in turn related to uterus or womb. If you really want to know what distinguishes man from woman (womb-an) -- or maleness from femaleness -- it would be this matrix. A matrix is a space of organic growth and development. You can actually turn this around and say: where there is growth and development, it is contained by a matrix, whether visible or invisible, local or nonlocal, vertical or horizontal, spatial or temporal.

For example, if you try to grow a pine tree at the equator -- or a palm tree in Alaska -- it's the wrong matrix. Nothing has changed except for the surrounding space, but this space is everything, in the sense that it a necessary cause of growth, whereas the genetic form is only a sufficient cause.

Well, it's the same with humans: humans require a matrix, beginning with the literal matrix, AKA womb. But that is hardly the last womb we inhabit! Early infancy is literally the attempt to recreate the conditions of the womb, only on the outside. Eventually the child moves on (in) to higher and more subtle matrices, and is contained by the symbolic worlds of language, culture, religion, etc. To be so contained is to be human; an uncontained human is a psychopath, literally.

It occurs to me that our republic is supposed to be contained in and by the Constitution. No American disagreed with this proposition until Woodrow Wilson, and the left has been disagreeing with it ever since. They do not wish for state power to be contained, structured, and channelled by the Constitution. Rather, they want it to be constrained by their own wishes and desires, which is no constraint at all.

Their judicial philosophy is by no means a mirror image of ours, in which case we would say "a pox on both louses."

Rather, to take one obvious example, there is nothing about abortion, pro or con, in the Constitution. Thus, the right and proper thing for SCOTUS to have done in 1973 would have been to turn it back to the states. But if constitutional conservatives behaved like the left, they'd invent something in the Constitution to make abortion a federal crime -- say, an infant's right to privacy. This guy provides additional examples:

WE DON’T HAVE A “RADICAL RIGHT-WING SUPREME COURT,” despite lots of mewing on the left to the contrary. Here are the sorts of things that would be at the top of the agenda for a radical right-wing Court: (1) ban abortion nationwide as a violation of the right to life protected by the due process clause; (2) rule that publicly-provided (but not funded) education is unconstitutional because it inherently involves viewpoint discrimination by the government, or at least require vouchers for those who object to the public school curriculum; (3) overrule an 1898 precedent and completely abolish birthright citizenship; (4) Use the First Amendment as a sword to require “fairness” in the left-dominated media.

Not only is the Supreme Court not about to do any of [these] things, I don’t think any of these things would even get one vote on the current Court. Moreover, merely bringing the scope of Congress’s constitutional back to where it was, say, in 1935, which was already much broader than the original meaning of the Commerce power, probably wouldn’t get more than one or two votes. What you are looking at right now is a conservative Court that will only affect society on the margins, not a “radical right-wing” Court.

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

Discernment is separative, and it is what "doctrine" refers to; concentration is unitive, and it is what "method" refers to; "faith" is connected to the first element, and "love of God" to the second.

Doctrine and method are as if two matrices, the first more spatial -- like a vast intellectual cathedral -- the second more temporal, like a growing plant. In both cases we are fed from above via love and faith. Call it the nonlocal umbilical cord without which we sophicate in mere animality.

Monday, October 08, 2018

The Politics of Projection: In-sight vs. Out-blind

Can't spellcheck 'til later. Deal with it.

Despite being a clinical psychologist, I don't think or write much about psychology per se anymore. I don't know whether it's become so internalized that I just take it for granted, or whether my concerns are so focused on a higher reality that the lower ones fade from view.

The Aphorist tells us that The lesser truths tend to eclipse the highest truths. However, it can also work conversely: sometimes the higher truths can eclipse the lower ones. Eclipse doesn't necessarily mean deny; rather, the light from one can obscure the light from the other -- as in how stars are overshadowed by the sun, even though they are much larger.

And just as one must maintain horizontal and exterior order, one must maintain vertical and interior order -- which necessarily involves hierarchy; no hierarchy, no vertical order. And I assume it hasn't escaped your attention that the left opposes all hierarchy (except when when they are at the top of the hierarchy). For example, now that more women than men attend college, feminists are not screeching that the sexes must be admitted on a 50/50 basis. Nor do we hear them complaining about "incarceration inequality":

For that matter, far too few women are killed on the job. Why do they avoid the dangerous ones? Do they think they're special?

The Aphorist also reminds us that In order for a multitude of diverse terms to coexist, it is necessary to place them on different levels. A hierarchical ordering is the only one that neither expels nor suppresses them. Psychology still exists, but it is psychology, not metaphysics or theology. If it does displace the latter two, then it inevitably ends up projecting the lower into the higher -- into the vacuum created by their absence.

Note that the same thing can happen at lower levels. For example, there was a time just yestercentury when psychology was in danger of being displaced by behaviorism. For the behaviorist, the mind doesn't exist, or if it does exist, it doesn't matter. Rather, there is only visible behavior, with no invisible mind behind -- much less above -- it.

Now, is there any truth to behaviorism? Of course. It just needs to be kept in perspective. Similarly, as mentioned in the previous post, there is surely truth in physics. But to suggest that physics is all truth is going way too far. This is when a scientific discipline becomes a mania.

And mania, like acting out, is a term of art. In psychoanalytic parlance, mania is a defense against depression. Except that in this context, depression too is a term of art. It doesn't just mean "sad" or dysphoric or bummed out. Rather, it implies the rejection of omnipotence and the acceptance of reality. You might say that it is resignation to the real. And reality can be kind of sad and sobering, at least compared to fantasy.

We're touching on some very important ideas that I'll need to flesh out further as we proceed.

Anyway, if I were to write about psychopathology, the past few weeks have provided a wealth of material. In fact, too much material. How to boil it all down to a simple explanation of the madness of the left?

By the way, another good reason to avoid psychology -- in this case psychologizing politics -- is that it's too easy to pathologize people with whom one disagrees. Anyone can do it, even a psychologist. As you know, the field of psychology leans left (to put it mildly), and there are countless papers that explain how and why conservatives are such mentally ill fascists. So if they do it to us, and we do it to them, doesn't that just prove the whole field has the validity of astrology?

Could be. Just as religion could be nonsense, since some religions believe in human sacrifice, while others call it murder.

I was trained in a certain school of psychoanalysis (itself a small and shrinking corner of psychology as such) that regards the exterior world as secondary to the interior world. No, not in the "I think I am" way of the rationalist. Rather, more like "I am this (pathological) way on the inside, so I imagine the exterior world is that way." In other words, pain, conflict, and frustration are projected from the inside out and regarded as real. You could call this the Primordial Conflation.

Now that I think about it, I am indeed tempted to think of man's fallenness in these terms. Pursuing this hunch will take us far afield, but you have to admit that a persistent bug in mankind -- ever since the dawn of history -- involves the confusion of inside and out, mind and world.

There is a section or two on this subject in our book, but the subject could easily be expanded into its own book. Or thousands of books. That is, externalization is a constant feature in human history, such that history cannot be understood at all without an appreciation of this defense mechanism.

For example, how does one understand the Aztec, whose whole civilization revolved around murdering thousands of innocent victims by slicing open their chests and cutting out the beating heart? Doing this just once would require a pretty good excuse. But thousands of times a year?

Nor do we have to go that far back in time. Nazis? Communists? Is a rational defense of these ideologies possible? Of course not. But that hardly means there weren't believed, passionately.

Speaking of which, remind me to tie this discussion into the well-written and highly entertaining The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy. Kalder describes the phenomenon without getting into the question of why all these hall of fame leftists are so evil and crazy, but that's our job. Suffice it to say at this juncture that

Great stupidities do not come from the people. They have seduced intelligent men first.

True then, true today. Look at all the professors and law students from elite universities who have condemned Brett Kavanaugh. These people are not stupid. Rather, they are plagued by something far worse.

Speaking of which, remind me also to bring in The Neuroscience of Intelligence at some point. Our merit-based society is indeed doing a fine job of sorting and rewarding people on the basis of intelligence. D'oh!

I was thinking about the implications of this over the weekend. No system is perfect, of course, but imagine that ours is pretty efficient at spotting and rewarding intelligence. Well, half of the population is of below average intelligence, so they might not like this system at all. There's your permanent Democrat base, right there.

Back to the defense mechanism of projection. When we act upon our projections, it is called acting out. Acting out is simply behaving as if one's projections are real. And as we've mentioned before, the great majority of "activists" -- in particular on the left -- have simply discovered an issue around which they can focus their emotional pain and then act out on it, instead of having insight into it.

Thus, "acting out" and "insight" are polar opposites: insight is the cure for acting out, while acting out is a major defense against insight. (And all psychological defense mechanisms are defenses against insight, e.g., denial, projection, rationalization, etc.).

According to Prof. Wiki, acting out

is a psychological term from the parlance of defense mechanisms and self-control, meaning to perform an action in contrast to bearing and managing the impulse to perform it. The acting done is usually anti-social and may take the form of acting on the impulses of an addiction or in a means designed (often unconsciously or semi-consciously) to garner attention (e.g. throwing a tantrum or behaving promiscuously)....

Freud considered that patients in analysis tended to act out their conflicts in preference to remembering them -- repetition compulsion. The analytic task was then to help "the patient who does not remember anything of what he has forgotten and repressed, but acts it out" to replace present activity by past memory.

In this context, "remembering" is synonymous with insight.

Let me get back to how this whole post started. It could have been anywhere, but it actually started with this guy. Look at what This Guy tweeted:

Time to get ruthless. ALL Republicans must go; every one; none should be allowed to appear in polite society again; must be shunned; relegated to the dustbin of history. White-nationalism dying a hard, mean, mean-hearted death of resentment & rage, trying to kill the country.

Where to begin? The first sentence implies that Democrats have not been ruthless toward Brett Kavanaugh, but that it's time to get that way. Not just toward him, and not even just his supporters, but to ALL Republicans, which is to say, half the country. So as to be precise, ruthless: having no pity; merciless, cruel.

So, this fellow is urging that half the population be mercilessly cruel toward the other half. Er, why? Presumably because you and I and all other conservatives are merciless and cruel. In other words, if you ask This Guy why he is so merciless and cruel, he'd have no idea what you're talking about. Rather, his whole worldview revolves around the idea that people with whom he disagrees are merciless and cruel.

It would be hard to find a more perfect example of projection. And he is urging people to act on this projection: acting out.

Could this guy really be this crazy, or is this just an aberration in the heat of the moment? Another tweet:

"Since 1992 Republicans have won only *one* Presidential Election with a *majority* of the overall vote. Minority rulers. UnAmerican."

Is such a crazy opinion susceptible to correction? If so, then it's just ignorant, not crazy. Now, our founders took great care to prevent the type of democracy he advocates. Does he know this? And does he know why democracy is so dangerous?

Yeah, let's give him the benefit of the doubt. He's just ignorant.

"Who gives a hoot anymore about what pervert Turd [by which I believe he means President Trump] thinks! What Republicans think! We KNOW what they think; cruelty is at their core."

Says the man who just advocated merciless cruelty.

Well, this sounds like something we might be able to agree on:

"I needed someplace to sooth the pain of this cruel last two weeks. I arrived at ⁦frick collection⁩ early, & began to heal some, loose [sic] myself in things bigger than I am or that *this* is. That impart the otherness & infinitude that art can grant. Art is for healing too."

Except here are some examples of what he regards as Healing Art:

We're out of time. We'll end with an aphorism or two:

The partisans of a cause are often the best arguments against it.

It is enough to know nothing more than that certain beings have adopted an idea to know that it is false.

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