Friday, August 07, 2020

Paranoia, Metanoia, Agnoia

You know about the first two. The third implies having no spiritual or vertical direction at all, i.e., being lost in the cosmos. Here it is defined as "lack of knowledge," "ignorance, especially of divine things," and "moral blindness," the last being a necessary consequence of the second, since the conscience is a celestial errand boy.

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.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

The Call is Coming from Inside the Cave

The previous post referenced an introduction to Voegelin that I must have read when it was published in 2002 but hadn't looked at since.

Before returning it to the shelf, I wonder if it has any last words?

With regard to the bored and boring activists who rule the streets in Democrat-run cities, Federici writes of those "Spiritually indolent individuals" who "look for ways out of this difficult and unpleasant reality" -- that is, the unpleasant reality of existing in an ideologically closed world. Who wouldn't rebel?

The problem is, our brownshirted miscreants have misidentified the source of the oppression: the call is coming from inside the head!

For a cure to be efficacious, it requires the proper diagnosis. Antibiotics are great, but they don't mitigate psychosis. Nor, for that matter, does anti-Trumpism.

There is no political cure for a spirital illness. Indeed, it will only aggravate the disorder, since you can never get enough of what you don't really need. You'll end up "chasing the high," trying to replicate that triumphant feeling of winning the election for junior high student body president. Ideological activism is like a... like a time machine or something.

Political religions are the disease they pretend to cure: a "revolt against God," they are "brimming with revolutionary pathos," attracting "revolutionary-minded individuals" who are "impatient with the world as it is" and "looking for a solution to all social problems."

Let's not be too quick to dismiss the value of social problems, for they are the wonderfully diverting refuge of people fleeing their own personal problems; psychotherapy is too expensive, and besides, it won't help if your psychotherapist is as ideologically enclosed as you are.

I just went over to the APA website to fetch a typical example, and this unironical, ungrammatical, and unsatirizable unsanity is on the home page:

(Ir)rationality and Religiosity During Pandemics: Phenomenologizing Causal Connections

We invite papers which explicate the aspects of (ir)rationality, on a societal, social, communal, and personal scale. Our working hypothesis is that the lapses of secular reason contributed, if not lead to, the COVID-19 pandemics.

With the toll of deaths nearing 100,000 in early April 2020 and industrial countries such as the United Stated leading the numbers, what does it tell us about the status of knowledge, consciousness and its relationships with the power networks? Given the astounding denials of both trivial-ontic-empirical and scientific facts of epidemics, the relationship between the reason -- in action, politics, press, local decision-making -- and the subjective dimension of religiosity stand out in this new light, calling for the phenomenological reporting and reflection which must precede the care and the cure. While religious experience has been shown to have emancipatory value and enhance resilience and decrease stress, we'd like to clarify if this assessment still stands in this new situation.

I defy anyone to spend ten minutes on the APA website and not conclude that clinical psychology has devolved to a politico-religious cult. Fortunately, it's not my problem, since I'll be retiring soon. Let's move on.

To what? I don't know, how about the next essay, which, coincidentally, begins with the observation that "The climate of our universities certainly is hostile to the life of reason." However, "not every man is agreeable to having his nature deformed." For example, you and I.

Just look at what has happened to the field of psychology in my professional lifetime: back when I took the licensing exam in 1991, it was of course possible for a mentally disturbed individual to slip through the cracks. But nowadays, I don't see how a sane person could slip through.

Another synchronicity: "Education is the art of preventing people from acquiring the knowledge that would enable them to articulate the questions of existence. Education is the art of pressuring young people into a state of alienation that will result in quiet despair or aggressive militancy" (Voegelin).

And if the educational establishment should fail in its pneumocidal mission, the liberal media is there to complete the process of alienated idiocy.

Interesting that although this essay was published nearly fifty years ago, Voegelin saw that critical theory is "a euphemism for irrational, nihilistic opining," and how "the life of reason" was already being reimagined as "a fascist enterprise." Moreover, he recognized that the formerly liberal arts were rapidly becoming "an occupational therapy for persons otherwise employable."

Resistance? You call that resistance? That's not resistance, let alone courage, it's complete and total conformity to permissible opinion. Yes, I'm a member of the actual resistance, but I don't make a big deal out of it. Who boasts that they aren't insane? Yes, the unsane.

Genuine "lovers of wisdom" -- AKA philosophers -- are "engaged in an act of resistance against the personal and social disorder of their age." Would you like to commit a dramatic, world-shattering act of resistance? Would you like to stick it to the man? Would you like to overturn the order of the world? Would you like to leave your mother's basement?

Good. Here's how it's done: 1) turn around, and 2) step outside the cave. See what we mean? Some things never change, least of all the Light.

I suppose we'll end with this: there are those "who live in the one and common world (koinos kosmos) of the Logos which is the common bond of humanity, and the men who live in the several private worlds (idios kosmos) of their passion and imagination, between the men who lead a waking life and the sleepwalkers who take their dreams for reality (ibid.)."

If I've translated correctly, you can live in the one real cosmos or your own real idiotic one.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Bring Back My Oppressors!

Not much time today, and none tomorrow -- perhaps enough to finish our little snidetrip into the cosmic nul-de-slack of Marxism.

Marx is on odd figure: at once totally irrelevant, but at the same time the most consequential intellectual of the last century, right down to the present day. He wanted his ideas to change the world. Well, they're still changing it -- in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, and other epicenters of leftwing Progress. Marxist inspired ideology continues to be the most dynamic and successful religion on earth.

Why? Taylor agrees that it "is the most influential formulation of a widespread modern protest against the course of our civilization." I would just say civilization, period, for it is the return of paganism, barbarism, and polytheism (or perhaps poly-antitheism). Yes, but why?

"The idea of overcoming the injustice and expressive deadness of our world at one stroke by recovering control and radically reshaping it according to a freely chosen design exercises a profound attraction," such that "We find it almost everywhere among the protest and liberation movements of our day" (ibid.).

Now we have some clues: idea, injustice, expressive, deadness, freedom, radical reshaping. Here again, these are all deeply religious categories; in fact, they draw from an intense religiosity, minus the religion, perhaps the deadliest combination in man's intellectual arsenal. Which we mean literally. See 20th century for details.

We'll come back to those religious categories in a moment. Let's just finish off with Taylor, so I can return him to the shelf and clear the desk a bit.

To the extent that the aspirations to radical freedom are influenced by Marx, they descend also from Hegel. But what is much more important, they encounter the same dilemma, which emerged from our discussion of Marxism. They face the same emptiness, the same temptation to the forceful imposition of their solution on an unyielding world, the same inability to define a human situation once the present one is swept away.

Note that our struggle against the left's intrinsic coercion is necessarily asymmetrical, in that they haven't evolved to the point of differentating politics from religion. Therefore, properly religious people are at a disadvantage, since we don't focus all our energy on politics. We have a life. Does anyone think Antifa members have one? No, and that's the point: politics is their life, albeit an empty and pseudo one. It is soul-deadness pretending not to be. Zombies.


This whole tradition, whether Marxist, anarchist, situationist, or whatever, offers no idea whatever of what the society of freedom should look like beyond the empty formulae, that it should be endlessly creative, have no divisions, whether between men, or within them, or between levels of existence (play is one with work, love is one with politics, art is one with life), involve no coercion, no representation, etc. All that is done in these negative characteristics is to think away the entire human existence. Small wonder then that this freedom has no content.

Or telos. Humanism without those messy humans.

So, what's the catch? Well, no more Ultimate Struggle Against the Forces of Evil, Fascism, Racism, etc. The cosmic melodrama is over, and with it, the existential meaning that had so animated and motivated the ideological zombie. Who knew paradise could be so boring with no one left to hate and bully!

Here's a key: "This is in a sense a negative conception of freedom." But this is by no means equivalent to the classical liberal conception of negative freedom, which is always teleological, i.e., ordered to virtue, to an archetypal pattern of human actualization and thriving.

In the absence of the vertical it is necessarily an empty freedom that immediately reduces to nihilism and will, AKA power. These postmodern nihilists constantly speak of politics reducing to power. Well, here it is. No truth-of or freedom-to, just blind will. Supposing it could be attained, it

would be a void in which nothing would be worth doing, nothing would deserve to count for anything. The self which has arrived at freedom setting aside all external obstacles and impingements is characterless, and hence without defined purpose, however much this is hidden by such seemingly positive terms as "rationality" or "creativity."

Do you really think the average BLM or Antifa member would be doing something creative, charitable, inventive, or beautiful if he weren't immersed in his psychodrama? Do you think Al Sharpton would be a great novelist, painter, or scientist if he weren't so preoccupied with political liberation? Do you think Barack Obama would be something other than a community agitator if not for The Man holding him down?

Here's a frightening thought to the losers of the left: what if you are already free? What if your unhappiness is primarily a consequence of your own bad choices, or the bad choices of your parents having you out of wedlock? What if there is indeed a systemic racism, and it's the local government indoctrination center you were forced to attend, and which has left you without knowledge, skills, or even basic literacy? What if the ideology that fills your head is part of a conspiracy to fill your head with ideology and thereby perpetuate a misdiagnosis and bogus cure for what ails you?

Back on the shelf you go, Professor Hegel. We'll get back to you if we need anything else. Meanwhile, let's close with this:

The relationship between gnostic thinkers like Marx and Christianity is parasitic. Marx takes from Christianity; he saps the spiritual life from it and ultimately displaces it with Marxism -- the existence of Christianity and its death are necessary for Marxism to live (Federici).

Some people wonder why they would burn Bibles in the street. I'm not one of them. I just wonder why they don't crucify them.

Marx's concept of "emancipation" is a deformation of the Gospel idea of "metanoia." Rather than a transformation of the soul, as is the case with metanoia, Marx posits a social transformation that is based on material conditions (ibid.).

Understanding the connection between the Christian image and its inverted likeness

helps illuminate the meaning of modern ideas like "social justice" and why they are the products of souls that have lost their sense of authentic Christian spirituality (ibid.).

So, with the success of the Revolution, the soul has everything it could possibly desire. Except a soul.