In the context of a discussion of Stoic thought, Voegelin characterizes agnoia as a form of madness: "a man is altogether raving"
when he is ignorant about his self and what concerns it; this ignorance is the vice opposite to the virtue of true insight; it is to be characterized as an existential state in which the desires become uncontrolled or undirected, a state of fluttering uncertainty and overexcitement of passions, a state of being scared or terrified because existence has lost its direction...
Given the psychic pain associated with such an existential condition, the agnoiac will often turn to paranoia as a bogus cure for the absence of meaning and direction. Say what you want about paranoia, but self-styled left wing victims and tenured grievance mongers don't wonder about the meaning of life. Some folks obtain meaning and comfort by knowing they're loved by God. Others do so by imagining they're hated by white people.
Others may experience a faux metanoia or misgodded spiritual breakthrough. This is how cults and cultists are born (the sincere kind, anyway), including a great many seemingly run-of-the-mill religionists. You know the type:
Nothing is more dangerous for faith than to frequent the company of believers. The unbeliever restores our faith (NGD).
Still, a dubious metanoia is usually preferable to agonoia or paranoia. It often keeps the person out of trouble, if only because they find themselves in a context of social support for healthier attitudes and behaviors. Mormon theology, for example, is utter nonsense, but Mormons are usually very nice people. In my personal experience, Harry Reid and Mitt Romney are the exceptions.
There is also the more mysterious factor of God Knowing His Own. Ultimately he cares about persons, even if the person in question believes some pretty kooky things. This is somewhat tangential to the main subject, so let's refocus.
To review, the only proper existential attitude for man is metanoia (which is somewhat awkwardly translated as "repentence"). For us it is functionally equivalent to an open engagement with our transcendent ground and source. Or just turning around and looking out the damn cave door. We have a choice: shadows or substance. But who in his right mind chooses the former when he can have the ladder?
Analogously, we do not recommend that you breathe oxygen or drink water. Rather, these are a function of the way we are designed. If you are thinking to yourself that wings prove the existence of air, go to the head of the class. Likewise, metanoia -- which is a kind of vertical flight -- proves the existence of spirit, or of the divine energies that blow up and down between man and God.
Yesterday I read an article that provides a perfect example of how agnoia can lead to paranoia, which can then lead to 35 years in the federal penitentiary. It is an absurdly sympathetic account of the two NY lawyers who were arrested during the BLM riots.
The Molotov cocktail waitress and her consort are accused of seven federal crimes, including arson, conspiracy, and using a destructive device in the commission of a crime of violence -- or, a "destructive device" and "crime of violence," as the "writer" puts it.
What struck me is how the crimes of these two lost souls make perfect sense in the context of a thorough indoctrination into paranoid leftist ideology. If Trump is Hitler, or Cops are Racists, or White People are Evil, then why wouldn't you use violence to stop them? Assuming you still have a conscience, you would be derelict not to do so.
Note that this resembles conscience but is in fact what is called a "corrupt superego," which allows one to commit evil in good conscience. It has a certain appeal, because it permits one to project one's own evil into others and thereby commit violence against them. Both history and myth prove this to be man's second oldest intoxicant (cf. Cain and Abel).
Check out this idiotic but telling tweet:
A terribly sad story. Two young and idealistic lawyers, get wrapped up in the BLM protest movement. In a moment of madness they throw a Molotov cocktail into an abandoned police car and burn it. Now they face a minimum 35 years in a federal prison.
"Idealistic"? Yes, they are full of ideas. Sick ones. A "moment of madness"? No, just madness, i.e, their delusional ideology. Their entire belief system is an extraordinarily consistent microcosmos of lies. If there is injustice here, it is that their professors -- or whoever taught them this twisted nonsense -- won't be sharing a jail cell with them.
Too bad prosecutors can't use RICO to get them to turn state's evidence against their universities. For this isn't some random, street level crime. Like all the "protests" we've been seeing for the past couple of months, this is organized crime that starts at the top. These are the shock troops of ideology, just as the Mafia has capos, captains, and soldiers. You can arrest ideological soldiers all day long, while leaving the organization untouched. They'll just graduate more.
The agitated Voice of Paranoia:
“We’re all in so much pain from how fucked up this country is toward Black lives. This has got to stop, and the only way they hear us is through violence, through the means that they use. ‘You got to use the master’s tools.’"
“This is the way that people show their anger and frustration,” she says a minute later. “Because nothing else works. Nothing else.”
Here is a lawyer "who had come of age in an increasingly activist mainstream left." She made just one mistake: she actually believed her loony professors. And the media:
when a president and his advisers seem to regard the law as an obstacle course; when an attorney general metes out favors, not justice; and when immigrant children are held in cages and men are killed on video by police, some lawyers may want to embrace a more flexible definition of “lawless.”
Yes, if you believe crazy things, it just might lead to crazy actions! Besides, it's just a bit of political vandalism -- you know, like burning a cross on a black person's lawn. Like MLK, they might be regarded as "civil-rights heroes, even martyrs, instead of professionals who crossed a line."
I don't know if I'd go that far. Being a real Civil Rights Icon, like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, requires a lifetime of lies, threats, and blackmail, not just a single moment of madness.
These two are "unfailingly kind, gentle, and decent." Or in other words, they are leftists who believe all the right things. She even saw "the parallels between the American Black struggle and Palestinian oppression." Unfortunately, the wrong ones. Here's a good description of the agonoia that preceded her paranoia:
Rahman’s cohort of kids was more “free-form, adventurous, bohemian, some version of that,” he said. “Somehow, the rules about success were tarnished, and they had to go out there and make their own rules, make meaning themselves. The world had become a more insecure place, more foreboding, and these kids were searching for a way to find meaning, whether you became a filmmaker or a world traveler or an activist lawyer.
Or domestic terrorist.
I do have sympathy for these two, as I suppose I have sympathy for some 18 year old kid who is brainwashed into believing Jews are evil and straps a bomb to himself.
The best excuse for victimizing others is to identify as a victim. Doing so purifies one's motives and legitimizes anything, up to and including murder.
We've talked about agnoia and paranoia. What about metanoia, which is the only real cure for the first two? It
is distinctly joyful because the questioning has a direction; the unrest is experienced as the beginning of the theophanic event in which the Nous reveals itself as the divine ordering force in the psyche of the questioner and the cosmos at large; it is an invitation to pursue its meaning into the actualization of noetic consciousness (Voegelin).
Alternatively, you can make it go away with paranoid ideology and violent acting out.