Saturday, June 20, 2020

Man, the Endangered Species

Alternative title: Science Giveth and Scientism Taketh Away

Just a couple of points this morning. We'll begin with an aphorism:

An education without the humanities prepares one only for menial occupations.

That was true until the left took over the humanities and transformed them into the subhumanities. Now an education in the formerly liberal arts prepares one for neither menial nor intellectual labor, for one not only knows nothing, but literally less than nothing. Which is only possible for a human, so I suppose we could still call them humanities in an ironic sense.

The point is, the ideological transformation of the humanities results not just in nonsense, but nonsense about human nature. Which is surely the worst kind nonsense, since it colors everything else.

Which is why man should be placed at the top of the so-called Endangered Species List. And who is endangering him? Yes, it is "man," but a certain type of man. This type:

The modern man is the man who forgets what man knows about man (Dávila).

And not just "forgotten," but reprogrammed to believe man is something other than what he is (and always will be).

Coming at it from the other (scientistic) end, Voegelin writes of how "the model of positive science destroys the understanding of the myth for the past as well as the present."

This results in two related psycho-pneumatic derailments, first, a kind of obtuse and concrete literalism in approaching the mythopoetic insights of the past, and second, a failure to appreciate that scientism itself partakes of mythology, only in a totally naive and unreflective way:

The symbols of the myth are cut off, through this attitude, from their basis in the unconscious and are required to legitimate themselves as if they were propositions concerning objects. The myth is erroneously supposed to be meant "literally" instead of symbolically, and consequently appears as naive or superstitious.

We've discussed this sort of incomplete person before. It is as if they've undergone a procedure to sever the right brain from the rest of the neocortex, which results in a kind of soulectomy, being that the input and output of the soul -- reception and exteriorization -- require the nonlinear processing, holistic perception, and symmetrical logic of the right cerebral hemisphere.

Illustration: In the beginning God creates the heavens and the earth. Like anybody could know that! That's just a myth. It's not science!

No, moron, it's not science. Rather, it is the metaphysical basis for the very possibility of science. It is precisely why science only developed in the Christian west.

Regarding scientism (i.e., the naive metaphysicalization of science),

The myth has a fundamental function in human existence and myths will be created no matter what anybody thinks about them. We cannot overcome myth, we can only misunderstand it (Voegelin, emphasis mine).

Exactly. For myth communicates an implicit metaphysic, as in the example above, in which Genesis posits a radically transcendent source of cosmic order and human rationality.

So, scientism is a myth like any other, only worse. But what is the myth "really saying"? In other words, what perennial truths about human nature are being obscured by the prestige of "science"?

An obvious case is Marxism, which is just a Christian heresy dressed up as scientific materialism, what with the original innocence of paradise (primordial communism), fall (private property), redemption-revolution, and the heaven/utopia of the Workers' Paradise on earth, AKA dictatorship of the proletariat.

Thus, Voegelin points out that

Such symbols as "reason," "mankind," "proletariat," "race," "communist society," "world peace," and so forth, are supposed to be different in nature from pagan or Christian symbols because their mythical truth is covered and obscured by the superimposition of the additional myth of science.

Whenever you hear a leftist proclaim his devotion to science, you need to translate it to a love of myth. Note, for example, the mythical assumptions packed into such slogans as Black Lives Matter, or "Love is Love," or "No Human is Illegal," or "All Genders are Whole, Holy, and Good, or "Women's Rights are Human Rights" (which they can't be, since men don't have the right to kill their children), or -- without irony -- "Science is Real." Taken literally these are banalities, but they obviously mean something much deeper and more sinister.

Since the myth does not cease to be myth because somebody believes it to be science, the telescoping of myth and science has a peculiar warping effect on the personality of the believers (Voegelin).

I was thinking of how nowadays, when the Supreme Court is in session, it means that another constitutional convention is taking place, albeit without the participation of the People. Rather, this week, for example, a couple of judicial idiots (Roberts and Gorsuch) decided to impose their scientistic myth on the rest of us, i.e., that the Constitution confers certain special rights on people who are confused about their gender.

This is consistent with Voegelin's description of how

the forces of the unconscious will stream into the form, not of the myth, but of theory or science. The symbols of the myth become perverted into intramundane, illusionary objects, "given," as if they were empirical data, to the cognitive and active functions of man.

But here is the real point that intrigued me, that as a result of this process, "man becomes anthropomorphic." What is meant by this cryptic remark? He expands upon it a few pages later, warning of "the anthropomorphic fallacy of forming man in the image of conscious man," "in an age in which the anthropomorphic obsession has destroyed the reality of man."

We usually think of anthropomorphization as the naive attribution of human traits to animals or inanimate objects. But we can also do it to human beings, in particular, when we isolate man from the divine pole, or enclose him in immanence -- in short, when we deny the intrinsic verticality of the human being.

So, if you think the claim that man is the image and likeness of the Creator is a myth, it has nothing on the rank superstition that man is created in the image and likeness of man.

Back to Sandoz. He writes of how contemporary education

does little to restore the understanding of uniquely human reality. Rather, taken alone, it does the very opposite and helps make human beings an endangered species through obfuscation. Both Nazism and Marxism-Leninism evoke natural science as their paradigm....

The problem, of course, isn't science, but

its perversion into scientism and positivism and, thereby, into methodological and other assumptions about knowledge and reality that fallaciously presume to supply sovereign, even the sole, road to truth. Systematic reductionism and deformation of reality inevitably result.

Every time. Scientistic jokers to the left of me, postmodern clowns to the further left.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Resisting the Resistance

There are degrees political sickness, from neurosis to psychosis. I suppose there's also political normality, but it's so rare as to be nearly non-existent. Still, we can't have neurosis or psychosis unless there first exists normalcy. Unless a certain degree of abnormality is inevitable, in which case normality can only exist as an ideal. Crooked timber and all that.

But in any case, in a political order under our present tyranny of relativism, there can be no such thing as normality. Nor can anything be called objectively sick, perverse, or abnormal. And now you understand how the left gets away with it. Just as leftism is a religion with no God but countless demons, it is a political ideology with no truth but an army of enforcers hunting down and punishing deviations from it.

Really, -- and we've seen this playing out on our TV screens over the past several weeks -- the left is just a violent mob with an ideology attached. And it works. The non-crazy and non-evil are always victimized but the crazy and evil.

The first act of violence is always to language, AKA Logos. Being that it is the vehicle of truth, the maiming of language is always of vital importance to the left. Is this torture of the Logos but a simultaneous reenactment and undoing of the Crucifixion? Yes, of course, but we'll come back to that universal metacosmic truth in a subsequent post.

Brief timeout for pedantry. To simplify, there are two types of patient: the neurotic and the psychotic (or relatively mature and immature-to-infantile). The neurotic is plagued by intra-psychic conflict (e.g., insecurity, excessive and irrational worry, impulsive behavior) but is nevertheless in contact with reality, while the psychotic has more or less lost contact with reality.

But it really comes down to a different set of psychological defense mechanisms. You might say the neurotic uses a handgun to deal with his psychic demons and persecutors, while the psychotic goes nuclear every time.

Some of the common neurotic defenses include intellectualization, repression, and reaction formation. The latter has become ubiquitous on the left, what with legions of racists crawling over themselves to signal their innocence of racism to each other.

For that matter, it is why one should never trust a male feminist, because he is simply hiding the fact that he is neither. Likewise, what is a self-proclaimed "ally" of BLM but a fellow racist? People who are innocent of racism couldn't care less about signaling the fact.

Note also how the left doesn't just deploy pathological defenses, but wants to eliminate the mature ones, most conspicuously humor.

The immature defenses are nearly synonymous with the left, especially projection and acting out. But every day we see how the garden variety versions of these have become frankly delusional, e.g., President Trump is a Russian agent, Blacks are victims of genocide at the hands of law enforcement instead of each other, the imaginary campus rape epidemic, etc.

Every day a new delusion, really. By the way, there are also "negative delusions," for example, that Joe Biden is neurologically normal, or that CNN is a news network, or that Al Sharpton is anything other than what he so obviously is.

Here's an extended passage from The Politics of Truth. It has to do with a proper "politics of resistance," which is very much the opposite of the self-styled "resistance" that has been plaguing the country since late in the evening of November 7, 2016. (To be sure, they are resisting, the question being what.)

The reasonable response by the unaffected to perverse education [i.e., indoctrination into ideology] is resistance.... We are obliged to become our own physicians through the therapy of common sense and a steady appeal to the givens of common reality as experienced in the concrete consciousness of everyman and accumulated in the evidentiary treasury of history.

You may know this proper resistance to perversion by its opposite, for example, oh, vandalizing or tearing down statues of George Washington, Winston Churchill, Christopher Columbus, and other icons of our precious civilizational inheritance. (Speaking of logocide, those statues are surely forms of incredibly rich and compact speech.)

However, forgive them, for they know not what they do, for they all attended college. And they are also in denial of the oedipal implications of murdering the father of our country.

Since experience shows that the vanguard of perversion and pneumopathology is the debauchery of language [see paragraph four above], so fashionable now in the forefront of the political-correctness onslaught, it is important to recall the insight of George Orwell in a memorable sentence:
"The purpose of Newspeak," he wrote, "was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc [the English Socialist Party], but to make all other modes of thought impossible" [emphasis mine].

Those who control your language will control your thoughts. The result is to make the asking of questions impossible, socially irrelevant, or ludicrous -- and thus de facto prohibited within the new orthodoxy of closure and deformed souls.

Deformed souls. Ah, but there'a an easy way around that one: not only denying the reality of the soul but rendering its existence impossible, irrelevant, or ludicrous. Which is certainly one of the purposes of state indoctrination, since there one is despoiled of the very means through which to perceive and resist the pathological political system. The polite name for it is soul murder.

To live in truth requires at all times resolute resistance to untruth and tyranny as the first courageous step.

Recalling the words of C.S. Lewis, "Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality." I'm ashamed to admit I don't have the courage to put up an ALL LIVES MATTER sign in my front yard, because I'm afraid of my house being burned down by my moral superiors.

This was published in 1996, so call it prophecy if you like: "Polarization of American society has proceeded so far through the influences of socialism, Marxism, multiculturalism, and the welfare state's collision with traditional attitudes," that we are in danger of "a slide toward sedition and civil strife on a scale perhaps not seen in America" since the last time Democrats acted out to this extent and created the tyranny of Jim Crow.

How to resist this resistance to reality? Via

intellectual and spiritual resistance to untruth, conducted by reason and persuasion. It is resistance in the name of liberty and truth to revolutionaries who are succeeding in wresting major universities, academic professional associations, and much public discourse to radical control....

The connection with the Murder of God movement as the revolutionaries' common ground must be repeatedly demonstrated as inspiring their onslaughts.

A reminder that useless and idle RINOs are the favored tools of the Devil, who can accomplish nothing without their collaboration.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Great Awokening, or Satan's Own Spiritual Revival

Let's try to knock another one off the desk, this time The Politics of Truth, a collection of essays that could scarcely be more timely, being that we are currently undergoing a plunge into the Politics of the Lie, the likes of which I've certainly never experienced in my life.

Indeed, I suspect it's no coincidence that Voegelin decided to pay us a visit precisely now, since 1) no other thinker better illuminates the kind of political pathology currently afflicting us, and 2) no other time in our recent history better exemplifies Voegelin's ideas. Compared to what is going on now, Obama was but a sulking, lazy, and ill-educated adolescent, whereas now we're dealing with a sociopathic cohort of spiritually deformed pseudo-adults.

Is there a name for this politico-spiritual disease? No, there are several: "deformation of reality," "gnostic derailment," "dogmatomachy," "ideological pseudo-reality," "secular moonshine," "para-Marxist buffoonery," etc.

As we know -- good and hard, right to the sweetbreads -- we are in the midst of A Great Awokening, which is a perverted -- and inverted -- caricature of the Great Awakenings that have periodically occurred in America. The first one occurred between 1730 and 1740, and this spiritual revolution set the stage for the physical one that would come to fruition a generation or two later. As John Adams famously wrote,

The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.

The Second Great Awakening took place between 1790 and 1840. And according to Prof. Wiki there was a third between 1855 and 1930, and even a fourth between 1960 and 1980.

By my calculation, that adds up to 145 years of Awakening out of the 234 years since the Declaration, which is over 60%. And what do we call the periods in between? The Great Slumbers? The Pneumatic Snoozes? And what on earth is happening now? In my opinion, the Great Awokening isn't simply a harmless nap but a perverse caricature of these past Awakenings.

Sandoz points out that in past awakenings, "the church served as a school for politics." But in the case of the Awokening it is the other way around: politics is the school of a new religion. Interestingly, no one who is a member of this new religion realizes he is one. Rather, only non-members even recognize that it is a religion.

That's odd. Then again, perhaps not. We must remember that "religion" is a modern concept. For the great majority of history, people didn't know they "had" a religion. Rather, they were simply immersed in a cosmos -- an order -- that included an uncritical religiosity. Conscious religiosity as a separate modality only emerges with the recognition of other religions.

Extremes meet, such that our postmodern Awokening is rooted in a premodern mentality of uncritical religiosity. Here again, this is soph-evident to non-members but veiled to the Woke.

Real religion involves a human ascent and divine pull into the objective order of the cosmos. What then occurs in the logocidal anti-religion of the Woke? Is there an analogous downward pull, AKA temptation at one end, the old "glamor of evil" at the other? Preliminary indications say Yes, but let's continue to flip.

Now, what can the sudden acquisition of Wokeness! be but a caricature of spiritual conversion? Sandoz describes the latter as

a personal experience of regeneration.... The individual is flooded with a sense of divine presence and intense participation or union with God...

Let's stipulate that the Woke protesters, looters, and crybullies are indeed flooded with something, and that they are most definitely participating in some sort of mock mystical body. Yes, it's a "mob," but what is the interior of a mob? What is the psychic glue that holds it together?

It is at once a Krazy Glue and a Gorilla Glue, since it encourages decompensation, regression, and impulsivity unmediated by discursive thought. Come to think of it, it is also a Super Glue, in that it evokes the Neitzschean superman, or the failure to attain mature manhood masquerading as its transcendence -- the quintessence of which being the Antifa terrorist terrorized by the mother with whom he lives.

Among the chief hindrances to [the] life of true liberty is the oppression of men, who in service to evil deceive with untruth and impose falsehood in its place proclaiming it to be true....

Liberty is most truly exercised by living in accord with truth and is, therefore, the correlate of responsibility (Sandoz).

I suppose this is the first time a Great Awokening has fully unleashed itself on our shores, but certainly not the first in history. It occurred, for example, in the USSR. As Solzhenitsyn described it, "The destruction of souls for three-quarters of a century is the most frightening thing." We're not nearly that far into our own Awokening, but as the Aphorist reminds us,

Everything in history begins before where we think it begins and ends after where we think it ends.

So the Awokening has been with us for awhile, just not this overtly violent, powerful, and oppressive.

a major difficulty lies in the ostensible "neutrality" in the public schools, which in fact often serves to shelter expanding beachheads of safe havens for antireligious ideology and attacks on American society's moral convictions, radical doctrines ranging from political correctness to advocacy of homosexuality, and neo-Marxism parading as dispassionate science....

The Woke have already lost the argument, but they don't know it. Or they do know it, hence the attacks on free speech and the violence to persons and property. Progressives may not know much, but they know violence and intimidation work.

The ideological antipolitics of the nihilistic second realities has been defeated theoretically, politically, economically, and by all the facts of human existence.

Yet unremitting assault continues on the American and generally Western heritage in the name of enlightenment and social progress by the ghosts of the very politics of atrocity whose true monuments are Nazi death camps and the Soviet gulag. Its protagonists, unable to cope with reason and experience, resort to brute force tending toward the lethal.

That was published in 1996. It's no longer "tending." Rather, that toward which it was tending stands revealed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Science of Political Religions

Here's another book I think we can knock out in a hurry, A Government of Laws, a collection of Voegelinian essays on subjects ranging from the American founding to the contemporary political religions we've been seeing on our TV screens, with their primitive gods and violent liturgies.

As to the latter, we should never forget that human sacrifice is the default liturgy of the vertically untutored man. How many sacrificial offerings have occurred already at the hands of the BLM/Antifa priesthood? And how many thousands more will result from the defunding of police?

The book has an epigram by Aristotle ending with The law is reason unaffected by desire. Its unstated corollary is that the left is desire unaffected by reason; or it is abstract ideological reason uninformed by, and oblivious to, concrete historical experience.

There may be a shortcut through the book: how about I skip the things we already know, and focus only on the things we don't? And maybe throw in any passages that tell us what we already know, but do so in a clever or incisive way.

Here's an intriguing little fragment of a thoughtlet: that it would "be strange if a man chose not to live his own life but someone else's."

Well, in our opinion this happens every time a man chooses not to live in conformity to truth. So it happens quite often indeed. If the Truth sets one free, the Lie imprisons; and if truth is conformity to the real, then the Lie shackles one to a delusion of one kind or another. One is either inside or outside the cave; or rather, riveted by the shadows on the wall, or open to the light streaming in from outside. But enough about CNN.

Bob, I thought we were going to limit ourselves to what we don't already know?

Look, I'm trying, but it's nice to occasionally hear someone else say it, okay? You're not the only one who gets sick of the sound of my voice.

[W]e seek attunement with truth as far as we can. If we do not attain it with some degree of satisfaction, then there is discord and misery in our own being. We become what is variously represented as evil, unjust, and unhappy men. The higher capacities do not master the lower. Such men may be a walking civil war...

Wait -- are you suggesting that the Walking Civil Wars who imagine they're unhappy because of the existence of statues of Winston Churchill, or Thomas Jefferson, or Christopher Columbus, will not become happy after vandalizing or tearing them down?

No, they'll be delirious for a few minutes -- that's how mob psychology works -- before needing to repeat the experience. As with any other addiction, the progressive mobster keeps chasing the high, from canceling Gandhi to Basil Fawlty to Penny Lane. Pretty soon there's no one left to scapegoat -- no imaginary dragons left to slay -- so they must consume one another. It's one of those ironyclad Laws of the Left.

Why has the left plunged back into a premodern rejection of science? Because the very conception of science depends upon a prior "de-divinization of the world, which results in something we easily call nature; and nature can then be explored by science."

But "when this break is not radical, as it is [was] in the West, then there is trouble in having natural science."

The left -- since it is a pre-reflective political religion -- essentially re-divinizes (or demonizes is more like it) the world, thereby effacing the distinction between transcendence and immanence.

Which is how we end up with such idiotic decisions as yesterday's invention of new rights based upon the idea that sex -- a biological reality -- really refers to religious totems such as "sexual preference," “gender identity,” and cross-dressing.

But of course, they won't pursue the principle to its end, and proclaim that the Constitution protects the person who has a sexual preference for children, or thinks he's a giraffe, or likes to dress up in Klan robes.

Oh well: "Hatred of divine being is the mark of the radical modern, and specifically of Marxian revolt." Come for the hatred, stay for the destruction.

"Dogma supplants reason and science," so the born-again-from-below leftist -- hello, New Man! -- "can successfully usurp his place in a Second Reality of dreamworld imaginings."

For -- again, just turn on the TV -- "the spiritual dimensions of human existence do not vanish simply because men become atheistic and rebellious."

Oh, and never equate "spiritual" with "good." But you knew that already.

I think we're done here.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Devil, the Apocalypse, and Other Nuisances

By now we're all familiar with the Mondello-Hildebrand Effect, whereby the subject of a post escapes the page and proceeds to comment upon itself after it has been written. In other words, it proclaims its own truth via synchronicities, or meaningful coincidences, or Divine Puns.

A case in point is the previous post, the title of which alludes to a "cartography of spirit." Afterwards the word "map" kept popping up in my reading. When this occurs, it must be for a reason.

The reason is that we have tapped into -- or so we have heard from the wise -- a hidden nonlocal connection, or a particularly rich vein of the cosmos. At the very least we must pay attention to these coincidences, and try to discern whether they truly reveal something of the underside of the cosmic area rug or are just symptoms of a delusional disorder. Example:

Let us not overlook the great secret that a sound map of human nature (as John Adams insisted) uniquely lies at the heart of the Constitution of the United States and its elaborate institutional arrangements (Sandoz, italics in original).

The passage then goes on to describe the events of the day -- no, not of 1787 but of 2020: that "The demos ever tends to become the ochlos [mob]," and therefore

must be restrained artfully by a vast net of adversarial devices if government is to have any chance whatever of prevailing over self-serving human passions while still nurturing the liberty of free men.

This passage adverts to several critical ideas, the most consequential being that if our politics isn't informed by an accurate map of human nature, then our political cosmos will eventually fall apart. Or, as the cliché has it, the center will not hold.

Let's face it: under the best of circumstances man is an ungovernable beast except from within. If he refuses to, or is incapable of, so governing himself, then he will be governed from without. In other words, the raging mob will evoke the force required to put it down, and then have the chutzpah to kvetch about it.

If you find no father in the home, you will probably find him later in the street with a uniform and gun. Disorder in the soul is the raison d'etre of Law and Order. If all men were Raccoons, government itself would be unnecessary.

Then I bumped into this observation by Richard Feynman, going to a life lived in the great In Between, which is the only place to be (or become, to be perfectly accurate):

I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain … In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.

We need maps, but the most accurate map is never the territory. Or, the most accurate map is the territory, AKA reality.

With that out of the away, let's turn to the Political Apocalypse, which has been sitting in my inbox for a couple of weeks.

The apocalypse. It's always something, isn't it?

The book starts off with a bang. However, it's another one of those bangs that's self-evident to the clued in, but eternally beyond the grasp of the progressive mob, for if they knew it, it would cure them of their pathology, including all the infantile acting out:

"The secularization of existence" which "marks the modern age" has taken place "at the expense of common sense in politics and of rationality in philosophy through the disordering infusion of temporality with an ultimacy formerly reserved for the eternal beyond."

Boom. Again, this will convince precisely no one who doesn't already understand it, but this Great Leap Backward has resulted in "the rise of ideological mass movements whose key experiential ingredient is political apocalypse," i.e., of visions that promise "the radical transformation of man and history into the perfect existence of peace, plenty, justice, happiness, and a 'Final Harmony' of one description or another."

Yes, a Final Solution to... to what exactly? For if the problem is human nature, then failure to accurately map it will inevitably result in an aggravation of the primary problem.... as you have no doubt noticed, because what is a leftist but a human being, only worse?

Yes, man is the measure of all things. Except for God, who is the measure of man. Deny this and hell follows. In Democrat controlled cities, anyway.

The cartography of man pops up again:

We must have a systematic understanding of the nature of man if we want to have a systematic political science.... Society can destroy a man's soul because the disorder of society is a disease in the psyche of its members.

But that's an insult to multiculturalism, to the tenured fairy tale that all cultures are equally valuable and precious! Not exactly, for truth is never an insult, but it is always a scandal to the progressive.

As we've discussed in the past, the typical liberal is but a tool of lower forces -- or of demons in high places who manipulate the uncomprehending mob. The devil himself? He is essentially the personification of "the spirit of pure negation whose goal is simply annihilation." Some people just like to see the Wendy's burn.

And it needs to be emphasized that the devil even "loves" mankind in his own fashion. Indeed, he speaks truth, except that it is "my truth." Thus, any time you hear a liberal clown speak of "my truth," know that he is simply aping the Ape of God: "the devil speaks of his truth and of the other truth (about which, he admits, he can know nothing because he is pure negation."

Which is why you can hand a liberal the truth in a silver chalice, but you can't make him drink. This:

The insensibility of the modern apocalyptical gnostic to facts (including phenomenal facts) has been insufficiently noticed. It must be accorded a prominent place in any description of his psycho- or pneumapathology.

For not only is his conception of reality distorted by radical closure against transcendent Being, but he is highly selective and perversely willful with respect to the elements of phenomenal reality accepted as substantial.

One need only observe what happens to public figures who point out that BLM is a fraud rooted in disgusting and depraved lies about police treatment of blacks. Say what you want, but that is not the devil's truth.

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