I've been thinking lately of the "break in being" represented by man as we find him. Everything else in the cosmos just "is," from matter on up through animals. But man is always in some way divided from himself, which you might say is his gift and his curse.
With regard to the gift, what sets man apart from the rest of creation is his "self-consciousness," which implicitly posits a self of which we are conscious.
Ah, but there is the split: consciousness on the one hand, self on the other. Animals -- or let us just say "life" -- are also split off from the cosmos, except they have no conscious awareness of this fact. In order to know this, consciousness would have to wrap around itself, as it does in human beings. Only man may become "critical," so to speak, capable of offering everything from reasons and explanations to pretexts and likely stories.
Or, in the memorable words of Ben Franklin, "So convenient a thing is it to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."
In "hindsight" -- which is also "downsight," vertically and ontologically speaking -- humans can see the various splits that are necessary for humanness to exist. We could also call these "multiplicities" that are necessary for the higher unity of humanness to reconcile in order to be an integrated "one"; for as we know, there are two very different types of one, the blob and the organism.
For example, life seems to somehow exist apart from matter. While obviously dependent on matter, it dances upon its precipice, somewhat like a whirlpool, which is a form created by the ever-changing water coursing through it. Thus, the form cannot be reduced to "water," since the water is always changing.
Any biological entity is a kind of stable form through which courses matter and energy. The same can be said of the person, except on a higher plane. Our minds are constantly taking in information and emotion, and metabolizing them via experience. For human beings, existence is the metabolism of experience (or maybe it's the other way around: experience is the metabolism of existence).
Evidently, man cannot be man without being aware of the splits that define him. Take, for example, Genesis. The "story of man" begins with the story of a primordial division that alienates man from his true station and exiles him from his earthright.
In this excerpt of J.G. Bennett, he writes of how parents and culture encourage and facilitate this split condition, which they apparently regard as "normal":
If we study our own childhood, and that of any children growing up around us, we can see how, by every means, we and they are led to accept, and to prefer to exist in, the dream state. The one thing that everyone without exception impresses on children is the need for insincerity, the need to appear to be other than what one is, to hide what one is and appear different" (emphasis mine).
This is a systematic form of "crazy making," because it forces one to distrust one's own perceptions and eventually reject and abandon one's intuition. In raising my son, I'm very much aware of not doing this to him. For example, when I was a child, I couldn't help but notice that certain adults were creepy, or crazy, or anxious, or annoying, or weird, or stupid, etc. But I could never discuss these intuitions in a free and frank way with my parents. Rather, adults were people one respected, end of discussion.
I also teach my son to respect -- or at least be polite to -- others, but not to ignore the subtle stream of data given to him by his perceptions and intuitions. Thus, of our neighbors, he knows that this one is a harmless nut, that that family across the street is rather loud and unrefined, that this lady is anxious and prone to projection, that that mother is a fearful, humorless, controlling, and judgmental "liberal" who is afraid of toy guns and thinks there is no difference between boys and girls, etc.
When the person is alienated from himself, it isn't as if the alienated core just closes up shop. Rather, as Bennett writes, "there is a progressive shutting out of all the experience of possibilities, and their replacement by dreams, and, with dreams, just living in the functional life only."
As a result, "man gets divided into two parts. He gets shut up in the world of facts and shut out of the world of possibilities" (emphasis mine).
I was propelled down this path this morning after reading this excellent talk on The Origins of Political Correctness (ht Vanderleun). Lind correctly points out that the regime of political correctness is just a new form of Marxism, or of Marxist principles applied to man and culture instead of economics, where it is too easily disproved.
What is so insidious about it is that, like Genesis -- which it explicitly replaces with its own counter-myth -- it recognizes the primordial split referenced above. Any religion begins with a "diagnosis" of man, for which it then offers the treatment.
Likewise, the pseudo-religion of cultural Marxism begins with a diagnosis of man, and finds him to be irredeemably stupid, to such an extent that he is incapable of recognizing his own interests (never ask why liberals are so sanctimonious and superior, because this is how they see you if you aren't one of them). If you are not a liberal, it is only because you are essentially infested with mind parasites of various kinds, including religious, class, nationalistic, gender, and sexual parasites.
Thus, you need to be purged of these impurities. Since not everyone can afford to take the cure at an elite college, the purging process has to be much more widespread, extending into elementary education, entertainment, and media in general. Only then will you be capable of recognizing your fallenness (e.g., "white privilege") and of making amends.
As Lind explains, Marxism and Freudianism had a grotesque baby known as "critical theory." This theory has no "positive content," so to speak; to be perfectly accurate, it does, but it conceals this sinister content behind an epistemological omnipotence -- i.e., industrial grade cynicism -- capable of dissolving the most settled truth acquired by man in his slow struggle up from barbarism. Thus, it truly results in the re-barbarization of man, at which point the "new man" may be programmed into him.
As alluded to above, never wonder about the source of the liberal's sanctimony and superiority; likewise, never wonder about the barbarism, i.e., the body mutilation, er "art," the celebration of animal sexuality, the replacement of morality with "authenticity," the promotion of sexual deviations, the mindless attacks on tradition (which are fundamentally no different than the Taliban blowing up religious statues), etc. Man must be demolished and demoralized in order to begin history anew.
Thus, the purpose of Critical Theory
is to criticize. The theory is that the way to bring down Western culture and the capitalist order is not to lay down an alternative. They explicitly refuse to do that. They say it can’t be done, that we can’t imagine what a free society would look like (their definition of a free society). As long as we’re living under repression -- the repression of a capitalistic economic order which creates (in their theory) the Freudian condition, the conditions that Freud describes in individuals of repression -- we can’t even imagine it. What Critical Theory is about is simply criticizing. It calls for the most destructive criticism possible, in every possible way, designed to bring the current order down (Lind).
Consider the bait-and-switch involved in the "sexual liberation" of the 1960s. Yes, animal sexuality was "liberated," so to speak, with the result that human sexuality was eclipsed. As Murray documents in his Coming Apart, the liberation resulted in a vast increase in cultural pathology, including broken homes, fatherless children, criminality, abortion, drug addiction, new and deadly venereal diseases, etc. But progressives do not call this "pathology." Rather, for them it is progress: the progress of breaking eggs in order to cook your goose.
Herbert Marcuse was one of the most prominent
thinkers feelers of the new left, and was quite explicit about the use of sex for political ends. In his Eros and Civilization he
argues that under a capitalistic order... repression is the essence of that order and that gives us the person Freud describes -- the person with all the hang-ups, the neuroses, because his sexual instincts are repressed. We can envision a future, if we can only destroy this existing oppressive order, in which we liberate eros, we liberate libido, in which we have a world of "polymorphous perversity."
This is the bait: "here is a guy writing in a way they can easily follow. He doesn’t require them to read a lot of heavy Marxism and tells them everything they want to hear which is essentially, 'Do your own thing,' 'If it feels good do it,' and 'You never have to go to work.'"
Here is the switch:
America today is in the throes of the greatest and direst transformation in its history. We are becoming an ideological state, a country with an official state ideology enforced by the power of the state.... The terror against anyone who dissents from Political Correctness on campus is part of it.... it’s not funny, it’s here, it’s growing and it will eventually destroy, as it seeks to destroy, everything that we have ever defined as our freedom and our culture.
UPDATE from seven years later: with the emergence of the AOC/Omar/Tlaib wing of the party, we see a somewhat unexpected development, in that the left has gone from promulgating its extreme nonsense for purely tactical reasons (the smashing of existing society and the acquisition of power) to a generational cohort that actually -- and passionately -- believes all the BS!
This represents a real point of danger for the left, a conflict between the cynical tacticians such as Hillary and Pelosi, and the fully indoctrinated morons who listened carefully in school and are simply echoing their indoctrination. Which brings us full circle to the absence of critical distance that defines the human being.