Friday, October 25, 2019

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Cause

If one believes it possible to deny that one is a man or a woman -- i.e., to affirm the possibility of "transgenderism" -- it is only because one must first believe it possible to deny one's humanness. In other words, the denial of the sexual form of one's humanness is rooted in an antecedent denial of the human essence per se (form being an expression of the essence).

Once you think about it, it is obvious: all post-Enlightenment anti-religious secular misosophies deny the reality of essences, and gravity takes care of the rest; once something isn't what it is, it is anything we wish it to be: garbage in, tenure out.

The above thoughtlets occurred to me in reading a passage by Schuon, wherein he describes the contemporary

philosophical and artificial dehumanization of man, which proves, not that man is something other than he is, but simply that he is capable, precisely because he is man, of denying the human without however really being able to succeed in this aim. He can deny himself because he is a man, yet it is for the same reason that he fails finally in so doing (emphasis mine).

Think about that one: because man is man, he is able to deny that he is man. In other words, denial is part of the human package. And yet, denial cannot be an independent, free-floating principle. Rather, denial is always of a reality the person doesn't wish to acknowledge. One could even say that it not only has a perfect right to exist, but is a divine mercy, precisely. It is only when it exceeds its limits that it becomes pathological.

To back up a bit, denial isn't just one of our most fundamental psychological defense mechanisms, I would suggest that every other defense mechanism, from the primitive to the mature, partakes of it. Every patient I see is in denial of something; acknowledgement of that something would provoke psychic pain, which is why it is denied.

But again, defense mechanisms aren't pathological per se, any more than our immune system is. However, both physical and psychological defenses can go too far and end up attacking and weakening the host, thereby undermining their reason for being.

For example, across the street from us lives an elderly hoarderess who mindlessly putters around her yard all day, unloading worthless junk from her truck, washing it, adding it to the pile, rearranging the pile. All. Day. Long. Her solipsistic existence has been reduced to her mechanical and self-enclosed obsessions and compulsions. But she's just a vivid example of a more subtle process. Indeed, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What? No, that's not original to me. Heard it from some guy who claims to be the quintessential human. (In translation: where your obsessions are, there your compulsions will be.)

Now, the heart is the "location" of our vertical transnatural intellect. And our design is such that it should conform itself and be attached to its proper treasure. Or at least detached from the trivial and worthless. Schuon:

Detachment: first it should be noted that attachment is the very nature of man; and yet, he is asked to be detached; the criterion of the legitimacy of an attachment is that its object should be worthy of love, namely that it should transmit something of God, and, even more importantly, should not take us away from God...

Our hoarderess, for example, is deeply attached to countless objects which are subjectively imbued with with some sort of magical -- perhaps even "saving" -- value. It goes without saying that these treasures are not only worthless, but less than worthless because they plunge her into a "minus space" that distances her from the divine realty and (as an immediate consequence) from her own reason for being. But again, this is really just an iteration of Genesis 3.

You could say that at one end of our vertical bi-directionality is "ye shall be as gods," at the other, "seek ye first the kingdom of God." All the movement -- and drama -- takes place between these poles, i.e., O and Ø. Reality is at one end, illusion at the other.

Now, one can look at the latter in two ways: for appearances can be severed from reality, in which case they eventually reduce to absurdity. Or, appearances can be seen as a mode of reality, which is the Christian view, i.e., that the local things of this world are a visible expression of their invisible and nonlocal Creator.

If all this is true, then the so-called Fall is the ultimate cause of most of the trouble in this world. Or, if you want to take a logico-empirical approach, you could say that history is one long train of horror, sadism, and stupidity, which therefore requires a cause sufficient to explain the baleful effects -- a kind of ineradicable X-factor. X is a perpetual cause of the diverse effects that ceaselessly appear. So:

what good is it to eliminate effects if the cause remains and continues to produce similar effects over and over? And even more urgently: what is the use of eliminating the effects of evil to the detriment of the elimination of the cause itself?

What's the use? Well, for starters, it will get you elected, since vulgar politics generally comes down to an argument over how to remedy the effects without discussing the causes, or at any rate misidentifying the causes.

Speaking of which,

what is the use of eliminating [the effects] while replacing the cause by another for more pernicious one, namely the hatred of the Sovereign Good and passion for impermanent things? In a word: if one fights the calamities of this world outside the total truth and the ultimate good, incomparably greater calamities will be created, beginning, precisely, with the negation of this truth and the forfeiture of this good...

Botton line: our self-styled liberators liberate us from God -- the Absolute -- and thereby from our essential humanness, which is proportioned to truth, virtue, and beauty. Which only deprives us of our cosmic birthright, i.e., those vertical treasures alluded to above.

(All of the Schuon quotes are taken from different essays in Esoterism as Principle and as Way.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

If Transcendence is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Transcend Themselves

Yesterday I read a short essay by Schuon in this new translation of Esoterism as Principle and as Way, called What Sincerity Is and What It Is Not. In so doing, I found that I highlighted nearly every sentence, which means that the essay is unusually dense with meaning, even for Schuon (whose writing is already as compact as can be). So, now we're going to review the essay and figure out out why I found it so provocative.

As I've mentioned before, most authors take a whole book to transmit a single idea or two, which is, among other things, a discourtesy to the reader. For we don't read merely to pass the time or to distract ourselves from more important things, but to track down and concentrate on the most important things, precisely. And nothing is more important than truth.

We all know people who are sincere, but sincerely wrong. These useful idiots are to be distinguished from the cynical asshat, who may or may not be wrong, but is insincere in any event. AOC, for example, is wrong about nearly everything, but seemingly sincere. It is appropriate that she should throw her support behind a Bernie Sanders, who is invincibly wrong and yet insanely sincere. Same with Marianne Williamson or Tulsi Gabbard.

Conversely, Obama was a calculating cynic. As is Kamala Harris. Biden is a congenial cynic who will pretend to believe anything, whereas Beto is just an irritating fool. The other clowns are a mixture of calculation, foolishness, ignorance, arrogance, vulgarity, hatred, envy, and sincerity. Clinton, of course, is pure cynic.

Clearly, sincerity is of no value in and of itself; rather, its worth is determined by its object. Indeed, a sincere socialist is more dangerous than an insincere one. At the other end, Jesus warns us about the dangers of a lukewarm faith, implying that sincerity has a critically important role to play, so long as it is in service to the proper ends and true interests.

Now, in a postmodern and therefore post-truth world, what becomes of sincerity? I rarely get into internet debates these days, because the people with whom I disagree are nearly always sincere, and therefore unpersuadable by truth, fact, or logic, much less intellection.

Our erstwhile troll William comes to mind. I remember him making the sincere argument that Hitler was a Christian, based upon several statements Hitler had (cynically!) made in order to manipulate the German public. In short, William not only sincerely embraced Hitler's cynical manipulation, but fought for it as you and I would fight for the truth. Remarkable, but quite common. All day long, people sincerely repeat ludicrous talking points.

What's going on here? I mean, besides mere stupidity? Again, human beings are irreducibly epistemophilic, and will therefore fight for truth even when it is a lie. Not to be flip, but you might say that this war between truth and its alternatives is the engine of history -- bearing in mind always that while truth is objective, humans are always an admixture of truth and falsehood, light and dark, good and evil. If only the neo-Marxist progressive could appreciate the following:

No paradise will arise within the framework of time. Because good and evil are not threads twisted together by history, but fibers of the single thread that sin has spun for us (NGD).

It is accurate to say that sincerity minus truth descends into the kind of rocket-fueled subjectivism that defines the left. The impeachment effort, for example, is a howl of pain in search of a cause for it: impeach first, find a reason later. Just make the pain stop!

With "modern subjectivism," writes Schuon, "the most contingent of subjectivity takes precedence over objectivity, even in those cases where the objective is the very reason for being of the subjective, thus determining its worth." The alphabet soup gender madness of the left is a quintessential example of subjectivism entirely displacing the object that determines its worth. In other words: what came first, biological womanhood or the feeling that one is a woman?

To believe the latter is to literally turn the cosmos upside down. No problem! For if your metaphysic abolishes the vertical, then there can be no upside down. Nor any right-side up, which tells you everything you need to know about the left, i.e., the enthusiastic abolition of human norms, archetypes, and standards. (Which is impossible to do, by the way, for they just covertly slip in new absolutes via the back door, and enforce them with an iron fist: you will believe a man is a woman, or else!)

To paraphrase someone, fascism is the violent rejection of transcendence. Now, abolishing the vertical is another name for rejecting transcendence. Individuals are free to do this, which is fine. Indeed, this is one of our reasons for being: ultimately the freedom to choose or reject God.

Problems arise when the rejection is aligned with the state, which has the coercive power to enforce the rejection. So in New York City, for example, one can be fined $250,000 for "misgendering a transexual" or using the term "illegal immigrant."

Note that if one outlaws transcendence, then only outlaws will transcend themselves. That might sound cute, but consider Beto's threat to eliminate the tax exempt status of any church that doesn't pretend that men can be women or that members of the same sex can marry.

Now, any real religion requires us to dominate and transcend ourselves, including our sexual nature. Like all normal men, I am attracted to every attractive woman I see (which is why they are called "attractive"), but this hardly means I act on the attraction. Marriage, among other things, is the transcendence and sanctification of the merely natural. But what is marriage to the progressive? Yes, just a manmade right divorced from any transcendent or objective reality.

Dávila: Modern man inverts the rank of problems. Everyone pontificates about sex education, for example, but who is concerned about the education of the sentiments?

Wow, it's late. Gotta run. We didn't get past the first paragraph of Schuon's essay, which shows how dense it is with meaning.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Transrational and Infrarational Religion

A few posts ago, we mentioned that political correctness is a number of things, including shaming mechanism, conformity enforcer, social controller, internalized tyrant, matrix guardian, war on noticing, and an assault on common sense. But what is it really? Are each of these just symptoms of something deeper, or is perhaps one of them the organizing principle of the others?

Whatever, the case, PC has something to do with human nature, otherwise it wouldn't exist, much less be effective. Clearly it revolves around the Lie; not just lying, because everyday deviations from truth lack the enforcement mechanism, nor do they entail a collective delusion. So it seems that the structure of PC is something like: pretend to believe the unbelievable, or else!

Now, it is interesting that power should even care about truth, but it does. Again, because of human nature, people don't like to think they're just bullies. Our minds are created such that they love truth, even when they hate it. Therefore, even when they grasp for raw power, human beings like to legitimize it with a figleaf of truth. As usual, Sr. Dávila says it best:

--Reason, truth, and justice tend not to be man’s goals, but the names he gives to his goals.

For example, oh, "democratic socialism," in which the first word pretends to modify and deny the violence and coercion of the second. Our resistance to their violence is a crime, whereas the left's violence is just resistance. Which is why,

--When one does not concede to the leftist all that he demands, he proclaims himself the victim of an institutional violence that is licit to repel with physical violence.

Back to the deep structure of it all. The 17th and 18th centuries represented the high water mark of the historical descent known as the "Enlightenment." Now clearly, the Enlightenment wasn't all bad -- or better, there was a bad (French) one and good (Scots-Anglo) one -- but its undoubted successes eventually led to an extreme rationalism that enclosed man in his own categories. There's no need to rehearse the whole drama here, or this post will never end. Suffice it to say that rationalism became a new religion, and a very poor one at that (recall Chesterton's gag about insanity being the loss of everything but one's reason).

So, what happened next? A swerve in the opposite direction into romanticism, spiritualism, and a more general dive into irrationalism. Now, note the irony: in the case of St. Thomas, we already have an integral fusion of reason and transrationality, without the downside plunge into irrationality. But the Enlightenment split off reason from faith, so the "counter-Enlightenment" had nowhere to go but to split off into irrationality.

Note the deeper structure: the first split (of the Enlightenment) is a vertical one, severing the celestial from the terrestrial. But the second split, in reaction to pure reason, can only sink downward, because the upper vertical has already been denied.

The result -- and we are living through it today, in case you haven't noticed -- is the emergence of a host of infrarational religions, including all the political religions that have killed so many millions over the past century or more. Again: lies kill, but not as many as the Lie. The Lie -- for example, the Lie that the world will end in 11 years due to climate change -- will kill tens if not hundreds of millions on the pretext that it is saving them.

From the macro to the micro: the wife just shared a tweet from Julian Castro: Every day, people are forced to choose between going to school or work, or staying home because they can’t afford the menstrual products they need. Pads, tampons and cups should be available tax-free, across the nation. This is in honor of something called National Period Day. "People" is the operative word, because it is transphobic to suggest that only women get periods.

Infrarational religion. Now, how can you tell when you're a member of one? Well, I have a religion, and you are free to join it. In fact, religion, of all things, cannot be compelled without doing violence to its very nature, which revolves around a freely chosen conformity to the ultimate nature of things. Without the freedom, the conformity counts for nothing, because it is either outwardly compelled or inwardly mechanical.

Moreover, not only does false religion do away with freedom, it thereby denies love. And God, in case you haven't heard, is love and freedom, plus truth. Which is why -- because we are in the image and likeness -- we are the same.

But only if we choose to be. The image is the potential, the likeness the actuality, such that the latter allows us "to be on the surface what we are in depth," or to be in actuality what we are in potential. And that indeed is the purpose and measure of life, i.e., our proximity to God, AKA theosis.

We'll close with a passage by Curry: for the Founders,

the possibility that common sense could be abandoned to the extent it is today would most likely have been beyond their imagining. [Men getting periods?] And no wonder, for a great deal of effort has gone into assailing it. Proponents of irrationalist doctrines [infrarational religions] that came in wave after wave beginning in the nineteenth century -- romanticism, Hegelianism, Marxism, progressivism, existentialism, postmodernism, and the like -- have been pounding away at common sense for a long time.

Yes and no, for I would suggest that the effort is timeless, in that it is just the endless repetition of Genesis 3. Or, in the words of Schuon, "Fallen man, that is to say average man, is as it were poisoned by the passional element, whether grossly or subtly," thereby leading to "an obscuring of the Intellect." Genesis 3 didn't just happen "once upon a time," but happens every time.

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