Thursday, August 01, 2019

I Took the Pill Less Swallowed, and That Has Made All the Difference

So, back when these posts were written, they were intended to be permanent, i.e., etched in eternity, since they go to unchanging principles that guide man and govern the cosmos. While this may sound grandiose, it is actually what thought is: conformity of the mind to reality. If we have no access to reality (a la Kant), then the mind only conforms to itself, and we are reduced to the cognitive onanism of the media-tenure complex.

Nor does this mean I'm not grandiose. Rather, I'm just honest about it. In all humility.

As we've said many times in many ways, knowledge -- whether of truth, beauty, or virtue -- is an adequation. If it isn't, then we are irreversibly plunged into absolute relativism, which is to say, ineradicable stupidity. That knowledge is an adequation is probably the most important Fact of the Cosmos, or at least I can't think of a higher or deeper one, since without it no real knowledge (knowledge of reality) is possible.

Is knowledge of reality possible? Yes or no. Take your choice: red pill blue pill. Depending upon your choice, you will inhabit mutually exclusive worlds. Which isn't quite accurate, since no one can consistently say No to reality. I believe the following post touches on this question, but you will have noticed that no modern -ism or -ology can be intellectually or spiritually consistent.

Rather, these folks are always cafeteria cretins who want to have their crock and eat it too. The left is always appealing to God-given rights while denying they exist.

I think we can all agree that existence is a problem. But only for man. Even -- or especially -- Stalin knew that "no man, no problem." Thus, we shift the blame by focusing on existence. In reality, the problem is man. Yes, to borrow one of the left's favorite adjectives, man is problematic.

Back to the Yes/No, Red Pill/Blue Pill dichtotomy. Our metaphysic accounts for both, in that, on the one hand we are created in the image and likeness of God, while on the other are fallen beings. Thus, our minds have the potential to conform to reality; or not. Which is another way of saying that we are vertically free to act against our own interests. If we aren't free to choose badly, then we aren't free at all.

The previous post left off with the assertion that the lofty goals of lefty gnostics "need not be understood very precisely."

In fact, this mystagoguery isn't optional for the political gnostic, since both the goal and the means will be seen as dangerous or cuckoo if spelled out in detail. It's not a bug but a feature. Look at the hostility directed at the two or three "moderates" in Tuesday's debate. No intoxicated gnostic who is drunk on power wants these buzzkillers around. You can't simultaneously pretend to save the world and be sober at the same time.

Expressed another way, the political gnostic needs to arouse and enlist emotion without engaging the critical intellect. Or, if intellect is involved, it must be in conformity with deeper emotional prejudices.

This is why political differences have much more to do with culture than with fact and logic. We talk about a "culture war" as part of a wider political conflict, but it's really the other way around: the political war is a subset of the culture war.

I just recently read a book called Four Cultures of the West that adds some useful insights, one of which is that the cultural container is just as important as the content.

For example, during the "religious wars" of the 16th and 17th centuries, religion was just a pretext to unleash violence and barbarism that had more to do with cultural differences than with religious doctrine. As O'Malley explains, different cultures were "doing battle with one another under the cover of religious polemics."

That line struck me, because it applies equally to the present, in which divergent sub-cultures are battling one another under the cover of political polemics. This is much easier for a conservative to appreciate than it is for a liberal, since liberals are always blinded by the conceit that their ideas and policies are entirely rational, "reality-based," and universal.

It is difficult for barbarous liberals to recognize they're actually part of a tribe, despite the fact that they openly embrace the neo-tribalism of identity politics. They are under the influence of deeper springs of kinship and xenophobia, even while projecting these into conservatives.

Consider this typical example dissected by Taranto (second story down), a "lurid fantasy" penned by some liberal hysteric who imagines that the people who disagree with him constitute a tiny and irrelevant minority fit only to inhabit reservations. In other words, half the country should confine itself to self-enclosed ghettos. What's especially ironic is that we already have self-enclosed ghettos crawling with political eccentrics and gnostic fringe dwellers. But maybe he never went to college.

Indeed, it is an enduring theme on the left that the mere fact of conservatism requires some sort of pseudo-scientific explanation, since the ideas and principles it promulgates needn't be taken seriously. Thus, the two cultures are often operating on different levels. Conservatives argue fact and logic, but liberals ignore this in favor of a hermeneutical/deconstructive approach that "interprets" what conservatives are "really saying."

For example, when we say we cherish the liberal principle of racial color-blindness, they interpret this as a cover for racial bigotry. Or, when we suggest it is a dangerously radical thing to redefine the essential unit of civilization, they interpret this as "homophobia." When we say that we don't believe women are an oppressed minority, they interpret this as misogyny. Defending our natural rights under the first amendment is just a pretext to engage in "hate speech" (which is really violence).

More generally, what we call "reality" they dismiss as a "talking point." For truly, the principle talking point of the left is that "truth" is just another talking point.

Here again, the left wages a culture war without even knowing it. Nor do they engage on the plane of ideas, but only pretend to do so. For them, there is no need to actually do the math to determine if an unconstitutional "wealth tax" will do anything to mitigate our fiscal calamity. Rather, this is just another prog-whistle that only the envious can hear.

The four cultures described by O'Malley are the prophetic, the academic/professional, the humanistic, and the artistic. Ironically, there is a huge culture war between these first two that goes mostly unacknowledged, at least on the left.

For example, there is no way to reconcile the intellectually suicidal relativism and deconstruction of the humanities with the cheap omniscience of scientistic know-it-alls who can't explain how we can even know a single thing.

This leads to all sorts of interesting conflicts, for example, that sexual orientation is genetically fixed and yet gender is just a cultural construct imposed upon us.

One could also the cite the Darwinian principle that homosexuality is the one thing that should never occur in a natural system revolving around reproductive success vs. the romantic idea that there can never be anything unnatural about any form of sexuality.

Of the prophetic idiom, O'Malley writes that "fundamentalists both religious and secular are comfortable here," for "it is the culture, above all, of the reformer decrying injustice and corruption in high places."

It is the culture that denounces the existing order while holding out vague but grandiose "promises of better times to come," i.e., weaponized hopenchange. It is "the culture of great expectations, expectations that surpass anything that seems humanly possible." And it is always gnostic, since it is "revealed to the few, hidden from the many."

Here is where extremes truly meet, e.g., the gnostic flower girl Marianne Williamson and the floridly gnostic Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

Monday, July 29, 2019

On Becoming Homo (?)ian

Our church recently had a rummage sale, and I snatched up about a dozen or more volumes from the 20th Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism -- basically all the ones you'd need in order to create a cosmos just like ours. Consider the titles, in ascending order: The Creation. What is Life? The Origins of Man. Primitive and Prehistoric Religions. Spiritual Writers of the Early Church. Who is the Devil? What is an Angel? The Origins of Christian Philosophy. Man and Metaphysics. Etc.

Some volumes are pretty good, others a little wooly. However, to paraphrase the Aphorist, Christianity may not not solve every earthly problem, but it is the only doctrine that raises and endeavors to address them all. Think of it: is there any other contemporary philosophy that even pretends to address the questions of our origins, nature, destiny, and purpose in a systematic and intellectually satisfying manner? Consider the alternatives: materialism, scientism, Darwinism, Marx and all his retarded progeny. Those are all nice philosophies, except they don't apply to this cosmos or to human beings.

Anyway, maybe I'll try to work in some of this new material as we proceed in unearthing and revisiting the old....

"By gnostic movements," Voegelin is referring to such ersatz religions as "progressivism, positivism, Marxism," not to mention "communism, fascism, and national socialism." He tosses in psychoanalysis, which is only half-true (but more true when this was written in 1960), and would require some lengthy qualifications, so we won't go there. At least for long.

Suffice it to say that there was a time when psychoanalysis took on the trappings of a hierarchical, gnostic cult that had all the answers to life's conflicts and enigmas, with analogous rituals such as sacrifice (of money), descent into the netherworld (of the unconscious), forgiveness, rebirth, and initiation. It can become a kind of closed world, which is precisely when it becomes pneumopathological (as is true of any open system that closes itself to the vertical and horizontal Real).

[And it is entirely possible that it has reverted to form in the 25 years since I last had any intimate contact with that world. Like the rest of the humanities, I suspect it has been hijacked by the left and rendered inane if not demonic -- or both, like deconstruction, feminism, African-American studies, etc.]

For me, the psychoanalyst W.R. Bion provided the means of escape from psychoanalysis without invalidating it. It's too bad something analogous can't happen with Darwinists and other reductionoids, since it is simply a statement of fact that no ideology can enclose the soul, unless the soul wants to be enclosed, which is to say, swaddled in twaddle, muffled in piffle, and cocooned in buffoonery. When one realizes this (?!), it is either liberating or terrifying, depending on how badly one is in need of an intellectual onesie.

[For what is man, really? Homo sapiens? Homo faber? Homo lumens? Homo religiosus? Good questions. One could indeed say Homo (?)ian, for enclose him as you will in theory, he can always ask another why? And why is that? Because man is simultaneously finite and aware of the infinite. He knows when you're trying to pull the natural wool over his transnatural I AM.]

[Something in man always transcends nature, or he is no longer man. Deny it and you have transcended it. Man "in his being is an addition to nature: Homo additus naturae" (Man and Metaphysics). Or, viewing our predicament from right-side up, creation is a prolongation of the Logos in which man participates. As we've pointed out on many occasions, viewed from the bottom up the cosmos contains a number of unbridgeable gaps and disconinuities. Viewed from the top down the discontinuities are seen as necessary distinctions in the spectrum between absolute and relative.]

From whom did Bob borrow the preconceptual symbol O, and why? (In this context, "preconceptual" means an innate category of thought awaiting experience in order to be real-ized.) Bion:

I shall use the sign O to denote that which is the ultimate reality represented by terms such as ultimate reality, absolute truth, the godhead, the infinite, the thing-in-itself. O does not fall in the domain of knowledge or learning save incidentally; it can 'become,' but it cannot be 'known.' It is darkness and formlessness but it enters the domain K when it has evolved to a point where it can be known, through knowledge gained by experience.

Similarly, "the reader must disregard what I say until the O of the experience of reading has evolved to a point where the actual events of reading issue in his interpretation of the experiences."

[This applies, for example, whenever we use the term "God." For clearly, God by definition can never be contained by any thought, concept, idea, or experience. And yet we can obviously have "knowledge of God," which is none other than O-->(k). Dogma, you might say, is (k)-->O. It clearly has its place, but it must be complemented by O-->(k), or risk becoming static and sterile. You know the old gag: "faith seeking understanding," or (o) seeking O-->(k).]

[O] stands for the absolute truth in and of any object; it is assumed that this cannot be known by any human being; it can be known about, its presence can be recognized and felt, but it cannot be known. It is possible to be at one with it. That it exists is an essential postulate of science but it cannot be scientifically discovered.... The religious mystics have probably approximated most closely to expression of experience of it. Its existence is as essential to science as it is to religion (ibid).

It exists is an essential postulate of science but it cannot be scientifically discovered. That's what you call a key principle. The typical muddleheaded materialist will deny what he can never actually do without, which is to say, Absolute Reality:

The whole of human history is evidence of how man is never in fact without an absolute and how the real problem becomes one of correctly defining the nature of the meaning of something which reason itself is tireless in seeking and evoking (Man and Metaphysics).

[Thus, "If you don't believe in Spirit you will believe in Matter -- and in spirits under the counter!" In short, every man has a religion and can't help having a religion. Identify a man's absolute, and the rest falls into place. "Our freethinkers are less free than they suppose, and are still very religious, though devotees of religions which flourished many centuries before our own era" (Origins of Christian Philosophy.)]

You can see how Bion would be considered controversial among fellow analysts, especially the old-school ones of the time who were well up in the hierarchy of the Church of Psychoanalysis. The peevish poobahs whose pride and identity revolve around their superior intellects don't generally like to be informed that they not only know nothing, but that what they know is a kind of cowardly lyin' in the face of the uncontainable Wizardry of O.

Back to Voegelin. He writes that none of the above-noted gnostic nostrums "began as a mass movement." Rather, they always begin with some intellectual clown, or posse of clowns, who tries to enclose O and thereby drink the ocean. If their arguments were compelling, then no one would have to be forced to accept them, which shows the lack of intellect at the heart of this destructive intellectualism.

You will have noticed that Obama always speaks as if everything he says, believes, and prescribes is self-evident. But again, if it were true, then no one would have to be forced to accept it. If he actually had faith in truth, then he would simply express it and wait for others to nod in agreement, as they did back in college.

One conspicuous irony -- and this is vividly displayed in the rantings of Obama's spiritual mentor -- is that these types of political religions are ultimately "modifications of the Christian idea of perfection" (Voegelin). For the Christian, life is a pilgrimage toward a goal that isn't attainable in this world, even though it is the source and vector of meaning in this world.

In this context, one could say that time -- its human structure and meaning -- is a measure of the distance between man and God: "The Christian looks at creation as irreversible in time, directed toward a definite end, namely its divinization, and with no return" (Origins of C. P.). Time and creation are vectorial.

But gnostic man simply transposes this journey to the immanent plane, which thereby becomes both his axis in space and his destiny -- or his fate -- in time. Instead of the pilgrimage of cosmotheosis, life is reduced to a vain exercise in cosmobliteration; or, as we've said before, cutting off your nous to spite the face before you were born.

Classical liberty and progressive liberation turn out to be opposites. For to be liberated from O is like being liberated from gravity -- exciting at first, until the oxygen -- and money -- runs out.

When the teleological component is immanentized, the chief emphasis of the gnostic-political idea lies on the forward movement, on the movement toward a goal of perfection in this world. The goal itself need not be understood very precisely; it may consist of no more than the idealization of this or that aspect of the situation, considered valuable by the thinker in question (Voegelin).

Of the prophetic idiom, O'Malley writes that "fundamentalists both religious and secular are comfortable here," for "it is the culture, above all, of the reformer decrying injustice and corruption in high places."

It is the culture that denounces the existing order, while holding out vague but grandiose "promises of better times to come," i.e., weaponized hopenchange. It is "the culture of great expectations, expectations that surpass anything that seems humanly possible." And it is usually gnostic, since it is "revealed to the few, hidden from the many." Which brings us full circle and ends this post: the enemy of Homo (?)ian is the man who collapses the space between ? and O.

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