Friday, July 16, 2021

Traditional Theo-Drama and Progressive Melodrama

I suppose we could go back to what is perhaps Voegelin's main point, which is that what we call history plays out in the space between immanence and transcendence. Total immersion in immanence would result in no history; rather, we would be as animals, plunged into instinct and bound by neurology. We'd still be in "time," of course, but it wouldn't be human -- which is to say, historical -- time. 

Nor could history exist in a context of complete transcendence, because transcendence is timeless. 

No man, no history, and vice versa. We're in this thing together until the end.

So here we abide, in this ambiguous space of verticality, churning out our symbolic representations of various kinds, from history to anthropology to philosophy to religion, in the attempt to gain our bearings within the dual process-structure of self-other and time-eternity. But we can never actually fully arrive at the fa(r)ther shore, because to do so would negate our immanence -- our seeworthy sonship.

At the same time, I suppose we could say that nondual mystical doctrines are about negating immanence, precisely. According to Vedanta, we can indeed enter a realm of pure transcendence -- Nirguna Brahman -- only we can't be there to enjoy it.

D'oh! Or rather, T'ao!

Here is a Buddhist take on the subject, plucked randomly from the shelf: What is man's life? A bubble on the stream, / Raised by the splashing rain, which merrily / Dances along the swiftly gliding wave / Full of apparent life, then suddenly / Bursts and disappears, leaving no trace behind / To mark hereafter the place that for a few moments it had occupied. --Zeisho Aisuko 

Later in the same passage he compares life to a transient summer moth, a frail banana leaf, an insubstantial shadow, and an enticing dream about a sham reality. All of these descriptions are true as far as they go, and indeed, the Bible contains similar gripes about the vanity of life. I could say more about transient shams and frail banana leaves that won't outlast the summer, but this post isn't about Biden. 

To back up a bit, in my spare timelessness I've been nonthinking a great deal about History. Not this or that history, but History as such. As in, what is it? 

In so doing, I reread a number of books on the nature of historical fallacies, which are mostly helpful in explaining what history is not. But not only do they not tell us what history actually is, I think it's accurate to say that most any midwit historian of tenure would assure us that it is Fallacy #1 to imagine that history can have any such ultimate meaning.

I would agree that this is self-evidently true from within history. It's analogous to the truism that science can have no intrinsic or ultimate meaning from within science; that latter fallacy is scientism, while the former is historicism.

And yet, you will have no doubt noticed how leftist historians smuggle meaning into their imaginary narratives, as do atheistic scientists into science.  

Back for a moment to Voegelin and Balthasar, while they come at the problem from different perspectives, both agree that Truth is something that plays out in history. As in the case of science, our symbolic representations can and will proceed until the end of time, without ever arriving at the end. 

Anyway, yesterday while wandering around the UCLA campus, a thought bubbled to the surface of the headspace: that the Narrative is the left's Theo-Drama. Bear in mind that the Theo-Drama simply is. It is where man lives, has always lived, and will always live -- in the dramatic tension between immanence and transcendence.

Now, revelation is obviously of a different order from the manmode myths we tell ourselves -- i.e., our own little attempts to symbolize the tension between immanence and transcendence, which we can never actually accomplish. 

But the revealed myth comes from the other side of the divide, descending into history, in contrast to our attempts to ascend out of it (whether through meditation, prayer, political activism, drugs, whatever). 

As soon as this thought popped into my head, I knew it was true: that the Narrative is the left's Theo-Drama. Not only does it organize the progressive mind, everything that happens is easily assimilated into the myth. For example, the national crime wave has suddenly appeared on their radar. How to account for it? It's because of Republicans and their dangerous nonsense about defunding the police! 

Similarly, given the improbable results of the last election, the great majority of Americans are rightly concerned about preventing future election fraud. No they're not! They're Jim Crow racists fomenting the worst national crisis since the Civil War!  

Examples are endless, but you get the point (for example, any weather proves AGW, i.e., the theory is unfalsifiable and therefore not science). The Narrative explains everything and therefore nothing. Well, it does explain one thing, albeit on a meta-level: the implicit structure of the left's faux-atheistic Theo-Drama.

And now that I think about it, "drama" isn't quite the right word, for it's always a melodrama, isn't it? Moreover, it's always hysterical (in the literal sense, in that it is animated by a disordered collective female psyche). 

Melodrama: a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions

Oooooooh, that's a bingo!

59 comments:

Gagdad Bob said...

An example of Theo-Drama vs. historical narrative.

Gagdad Bob said...

Another laughable example: inner city violence is caused by white supremacist ideology and racism. Now do Sub-Saharan Africa.

ted said...

...animated by a disordered collective female psyche

Yup. And probably with borderline personality tendencies. They see what they want to see, and you're constantly walking on eggshells wondering when you're going to say something that gets the cancellation mafia after you.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Biden is trying to marshal his black forces, and his climate change alarmists, and all the trannies into revolting for the ultimate goal of instituting Sharia Law?

We must pray for hurricanes and twisters now.

Anonymous said...

Anti-vaxxing was once the provenance of a few loons. And mostly lefties they were. Today it's become so cool on the right that it's practically a stricture. It's a bit like taking the cycle up to 120 on the freeway with both hands raised in a one finger salute, while gutterballing during rush hour.

Bad fads. Mullets, Saria Law, and Wars on Christmas. We need a post about the bad fads. What did the finest of philosophers say about bad fads? Can philosophers do nothing but watch in quiet learned helplessness? Or should they mock? Were there any mocking philosophers worth reading? Are philosophers immune to bad fads? There is much to still write about methinks.

Petey said...

Since Thomas, philosophy has been a series of bad fads and fashionable stupidities. CRT is just the latest.

Anonymous said...

How do we know that CRT is a bad fad? I've known for some time that it's a bad course taught in law schools ("for some time" being defined as a couple months, before which I'd never heard about it, and neither had you). But is it bad enough to storm PTA meetings which have nothing to do with CRT, just because Fox News tells us to?

Anonymous said...

Besides, South Africa is living proof that CRT works in practice.

Cousin Dupree said...

CRT fuels the racist stereotype that blacks are too stupid to reject CRT.

Cousin Dupree said...

Sincere question: what is the null hypothesis of critical race theory, and how do the theorists propose to test it?

Cousin Dupree said...

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that CRT is unfalsifiable, like any other conspiracy theory.

Gagdad Bob said...

Truly, the real problem in combatting CRT is that it is not even wrong. But that's progressivism in a nutshell: it's not a rational proposition, but an accusation wrapped in moralism inside a witch hunt.

Gagdad Bob said...

Founder of 1619 project says Cuba is great example of principles underlying CRT. Agreed.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Blacks would serve themselves better if they quit relying on "being black", and could just be black and try their best while being black. I'm old enough to remember things like "black pride", the dissing of "oreos" and the long forgotten prideful phrase "once you go black you don't go back".

But I think our problems are a whole lot worse than the degree to which blacks have been learned helplessness. And that they, just like the rest of us, are being diverted by a few nefarious puppet masters to ignore these far worse problems.

Gagdad Bob said...

The left controls every major institution in America, so yes, institutional racism is real.

Gagdad Bob said...

Race hustling is far too profitable to ever be eradicated.

Cousin Dupree said...

I don't get it: if we can teach antiracism to whites, why not teach anticriminality to blacks?

Anonymous said...

Cuba has labored under an American economic embargo since before both Castro and the USSR died.

Sadly, explaining the impact of economic embargoes against national economies ripe with cash crops to trade and so close to the USA, for those who couldn't care less about such impacts, will only get such people to dive deeper into how CRT has impacted PTAs in mostly white Minnesota. And then the more you tell them that nobody outside of law schools mandates the teaching of CRT, the more they'll be storming grade school PTAs, leaving the administrators to wonder if the curriculum shouldn't be changed to involve "How to deal with zombies" instead.

Anonymous said...

The left controls every major institution in America

Are you serious?

Anonymous said...

Race hustling is far too profitable to ever be eradicated.

Now so? Who's earning these profits?

Gagdad Bob said...

The most rigorous construct in all of psychology tracks perfectly with life outcomes, and it's not race.

Anonymous said...

teach antiracism to whites, why not teach anticriminality to blacks

I agree. Why not just teach these things in law schools and in prisons?

Anonymous said...

Besides the major news media, academia, entertainment, big tech, corporate America, the presidency, and the house, the left controls NO institutions.

Anonymous said...

Exactly who profits from race hustling aside from a few outliers like Obama, Sharpton, Kendi, Diangelo, and every Department of Blackety Black Studies in every elite university?

Anonymous said...

Decent life outcomes used to be easy. 50 years ago any honest looking black could just walk down the street and get a job decent enough to own a home and maybe even a Cadillac.

Today, without any generational wealth, honest looking blacks have to secure an incredibly expensive student loan, get hired, to then be replaced by a Chinese, Indian or Mexican, then try to find work again in a world where money extraction is job 1 in the education, real estate, medical and finance fields.

So I tell them to get new incredibly expensive student loans in either the education, real estate, medical and finance fields, but they get all uppity instead. Go figure. I tell them tales of when I was a kid. I just stayed off the drugs, paid my way through college, bought a house, got workplace mobbed when the jobs went overseas, re-educated with no jobs even available in that field, to then go into business for myself.

Then they tell me that most white people are Karens who if they even have a need to satisfy their white guilt, will hire a Chinese, Indian, or Mexican instead. I tell them to revel in their time as an individual and they pull out their phone and start to film me.

Anonymous said...

Those people protesting in Cuba LOVE communist tyranny, they just hate the American embargo! That's why they're carrying all those American flags on pain of imprisonment.

Anonymous said...

Besides the major news media, academia, entertainment, big tech, corporate America, the presidency, and the house, the left controls NO institutions.

Last year the right controlled all those things. I wanted my wall, the swamp drained, my really great health care, her locked up, and America made great again. Whatever happened?

Anonymous said...

Controlling for IQ, black outcomes are identical to white. Let's hope the race hustler's never find out.

Anonymous said...

Those people protesting in Cuba LOVE communist tyranny, they just hate the American embargo! That's why they're carrying all those American flags on pain of imprisonment.

Correct. They're tired of a never ending embargo and want to trade cigars for Playstations. Wouldn't you, if you were a kid with nothing but cigars to play with?

Gagdad Bob said...

The right controlled academia and the media last year, because one math teacher makes a majority!

Anonymous said...

Controlling for IQ, black outcomes are identical to white. Let's hope the race hustler's never find out.

Again, race is a diversion for far worse problems facing America. And no, systemic racism isn't the answer.

Gagdad Bob said...

Bad news for CRT fans: they're gonna teach white math in my state after all. So you'll have to home school your kid to teach them that 2+2 = RACISM!

julie said...

As soon as this thought popped into my head, I knew it was true: that the Narrative is the left's Theo-Drama.

And who is their theo? His kingdom is of this world, and his substance is the lie. Thus, It's because of Republicans and their dangerous nonsense about defunding the police!

Anonymous said...

A handful of plutocrats controls the American culture, all in the name of their own power. And no, it's not a black/white issue. CNN is still quasi Republican, as it once was in paleocon days. MSNBC is the same. If Fox has to tell us that Santa Clause was white, it's gone bonkers. Not that Rupert minds.

That blacks are uppity is a symptom of far greater problems resulting from giving them this much control. Let alone our funding the rise of China or all the drug lords sending refugees north from Central America, soon to be accompanied by those further south escaping wet bulb death.

They blacks are the canary in our coal mine. When they've been silenced, it'll be our turn. Google "automation" for what's coming next. Your son has a rough time ahead of him. Hope your generational wealth situation is good.

Gagdad Bob said...

The progressive melodrama is a precise inversion of the truth, and is antichristic right down to the ground -- like a ridiculous caricature, only real.

Barry O. said...

The struggle is real! Blacks are silenced!

Anonymous said...

"Defunding the police" doesn't mean eliminating them. Google what they say it means. I personally disagree that shifting funds to social workers for petty calls is gonna make much difference, but I prefer not to "color" what the opposition means in an attempt to discredit them ad hominally.

The Republican party of old is the Democratic party of today. The Republican party of today is all about race baiting and sucking off plutocratic funds. And not caring in the slightest if China wins. Tibet has high speed rail now, and China wants to fund/build a canal to the Danube to avoid the bottleneck of shipping through Istanbul.

While we American bicker over nonsense, they'll be controlling the world's cultural narrative in the future.

julie said...

Anon, there's generational wealth and generational wealth. That which matters most is the wealth of wisdom, truth, and faith in God. Sometimes, we are the widow and her boy, down to their last handful of dough and told to feed the wandering prophet on the doorstep. She had nothing to offer her son except death. God had other plans.

As to the cultural control, again, generational wealth and generational wealth. Also, the more they force the issue, the more people are are simply ignoring them. They can make all the noise they want, but if people aren't listening, or worse if people are openly mocking and rejecting them en masse, the control is only an illusion, Again, reflecting whose kingdom they represent.

Van Harvey said...







My latest engagement with the Pro-Regressive Left's historical narrative that's not even wrong, at our local school board meeting, where several woke'nd folk said that as a consequence of the Right's control of education (!), they never learned any facts until they went away to college, like
"... a lady who claimed that she was 'raised a good conservative', and was shocked, shocked I tell you, when she left the backwoods of Missouri and went away to college and discovered that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves...."

Such looney notions can only exist in the Left's narrative Of School Board Meetings, CRT, Liars, Fools & Ideologues - AKA: 'Education'

Gagdad Bob said...

I'm all for defunding the police so long as it will result in blacks committing less crime.

Wait, what?!

julie said...

San Francisco has pretty much already solved that problem. They just redefined crime. That way, you don't need as many police and there aren't as many crimes committed.

julie said...

Van, the really crazy thing is that when you actually teach history, you don't gloss over things like Jefferson owning slaves, or things that happened in 1619; you do tell them, but also you tell them the rest of the truth about what was happening, to the extent that it can be known and shared. My kids have no illusions that the early pilgrims were perfect. For that matter, they have no illusion that any people were or are perfect - because they are learning history. We learn about their mistakes and crimes as well as their successes and virtues.

Your speech would have been great - if they let you finish!

Gagdad Bob said...

When you call the CRT people on their bullshit, they pretend that it's nothing more than teaching about bad stuff like slavery and racism. As if we don't already do that ad nauseam. I didn't know much about history when I graduated high school in the '70s, but even I knew that Democrats freed the slaves and fought against Jim Crow.

Gagdad Bob said...

And that Lincoln founded the Democrat party.

Anonymous said...

CRT seems pretty reasonable to me: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-failure/treatment-options-for-heart-failure/cardiac-resynchronization-therapy-crt

Gagdad Bob said...

I thought it stood for Cretinous Racist Thugs.

julie said...

America's paper of record observes that on the upside, CRT will be taught with the same skill as kids are being taught math and spelling.

Gagdad Bob said...

Rob Henderson's weekly newsletter is recommended to all Raccoons. Although he comes at the subject from a different angle, he implicitly highlights the melodramatic structure of the Church of Progressivism, which is a wholly moral movement bereft of intellectual content or appeal for the wise or mature or normal:

"[Y]oung people are the most supportive of cancel culture -- a moral movement.

"In both North America and Britain, younger academics are more willing to endorse cancelling controversial staff....

"This presents a puzzle. On the one hand, non-judgmentalism seems to have prevailed among young people. On the other hand, young people are highly judgmental."

*****

Thus, their superficial secularism conceals transparently religious impulses:

"There seems to be a law of moral conservation. When societies relax their moral attitudes about some transgressions, people fill the void with new ones.

"In other words, we keep the level of moral condemnation the same by redefining what is considered immoral.....

"People are resourceful. If you disarm them of their old moral weapons, they will find new ones. They will launch new taboos so that they can accuse others of violating them.

"The upper class, for example, has decided that we can no longer judge deviant behaviors like crime or being an absentee parent. So they’ve decided to deem other behaviors as deviant to make themselves look good."

*****

So, the culture war is really a religious war between conscious and unconscious religions -- or between genuine theo-drama and a crude progressive melodrama. They'll talk all day about imaginary "structural racism" as a way to displace and project personal sin.




Anonymous said...

Mike Pence is claiming that white Kindergarteners need to be ashamed of their skin color. As a Kindergarten teacher myself, I decided that the colored children should nap in the front of the room while the whites napped in the back. Sadly, the principle overrode my plans and now the children must pick a nap buddy who’s from a different race. They also want me to teach sex education when school starts next month.

julie said...

Interesting newsletter, Bob - thanks. I subscribed.

Gagdad Bob said...

The first essay I read by Henderson was this autobiographical one. I love his transparency, absence of pretension, curiosity, and intellectual honesty.

Van Harvey said...

Julie said "... the really crazy thing is that when you actually teach history, you don't gloss over things like Jefferson owning slaves..."

Yep. History is should be uncomfortable. There's no justifiable reason for every 'social studies' book that's ever been written, not telling the horror story of the slaughter of 'Black Wall Street' in Oklahoma. There's also no justifiable reason for why 'social studies' books don't point out that Woodrow Wilson was a bitter racist who imposed racial segregation on federal civil services, and the military. Except for the fact, that those never served the purposes of those who assemble and peddle 'social studies' programs. Pretending that the boogieman of 'the Right', and ignorant fact-averse people left them out, is contrary to the reality of those who've always written those 'social studies' books.

History Should make a point of showing us our errors and failures, and vile deeds, so that we can learn from them. But to use cherry picked factoids in order to further an ideological agenda, serves no educational purpose, whatsoever.

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said " I didn't know much about history when I graduated high school in the '70s, but even I knew that Democrats freed the slaves and fought against Jim Crow."

Thas' a Fact Check.

Gagdad Bob said...

Clearly, taller people have higher incomes and higher self-esteem. Therefore, the tall people keep the short people short. It's called "Critical Height Theory".

Gagdad Bob said...

Same: To read the news is to read a high school girl tabloid. To even react is to give it credence. I'm withdrawing from a mad world and losing interest.

Anonymous said...

https://news.gallup.com/poll/341963/church-membership-falls-below-majority-first-time.aspx

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "Clearly, taller people have higher incomes and higher self-esteem"

Norm to Shake: "Stop being taller than me!"

julie said...

Anon, re. church membership, it's hardly surprising. On the one hand, considering how many churches are going woke, why would a devout person be a member? And on the other, how many parents are bringing their kids into the faith and also preparing them to deal with the world as it is?

Lots of sheltered Christian kids grow up, go away to college (because for some reason, conservative Christians still think going to college, any college, is necessary to having a good life), and completely lose their faith because nobody prepared them to be in the world. They are like lambs to the slaughter, and when they turn away, they turn away hard.

So? The only thing any of us can do is raise our families in faith and in the world - but not of it. We can impact our local churches or parishes, to a greater or lesser degree. And pray, always pray. Beyond that, it's out of any normal person's hands.

Do what God wants you to do, and stop worrying about everyone else. You will be happier, and the people around you might appreciate you more.

Anonymous said...

Yes Julie, while selfishness is always good, Antifa and the FBI are the usual suspects in our steeply declining church membership. We need to worry about them.