Saturday, February 13, 2021

I'd Rather be a Mere Moth than a Dim Bulb

I'm going to highlight a few passages from Garrigou's The Sense of Mystery until one of them flips my light switch and veers off into a post. 

the theologian obeys the truth because the theologian loves the truth. Admittedly, the divine truth eludes easy explanation, but the fruits of its contemplation excel those of all other possible objects (Cuddy, from the Foreword).

This checks out. If you don't love truth, then it is something less, because truth and love are absolutely convergent. It is also fruitful, and endlessly so, because it is alive: so, to be perfectly accurate, Life, Love, and Truth are convergent, and their medium is light. Come to think of it, so too is their substance light, a light that proceeds in two directions.

What? Sorry -- I've jumped ahead into the book I'm currently reading, The Order of Things

In the introduction to the latter, Minerd (the translighter) points out that "the reader will notice the presence of a higher light" in Garrigou's words, a light one doesn't perceive or receive -- to put it mildly -- "in a philosopher who strives to write in a manner congenial to those not sharing that same supernatural light." This "makes certain demands of the reader regarding the light under which the text should be read."

The bottom line is that life is short, so any philosophy that doesn't convey this light isn't worth your time. 

For in reality, these intellectual aberrations aren't even philosophy. Rather, they're not only less than philosophy (AKA love of Wisdom), but separated by an abyss from the proper object of philosophy -- which is to say, intelligible being and the Being Who Is its cause, principle, and end.

Such pseudo-philosophies are literally intellectual disorders, since they are not ordered to their proper object -- similar to how, say, behaviorism can't be a psychology because it is ordered to behavior, not the psyche (or how feminism is not ordered to females, or leftism to reality).

A bit more from the latter book: Garrigou's works "are animated from the depths of his soul by a light that is loftier than that of 'pure reason alone.'" This too checks out. Me? Grandiose? Please. I am but a moth, but at least I know light when I'm circling it. 

Unlike his dim bulb father, my son won't have to waste a moment of his life on such foolish byways and frivolous diversions as materialism, existentialism, scientism, and all the rest. He hasn't only been given a head start on the vertical adventure, but a heart start to go with it. Lucky brat.

Trolls -- operating as they do in the dark -- will no doubt conflate this with some sort of top-down indoctrination, when it is precisely the opposite; or better, it is actually both-and, which is to say, an ascent from the world to principles, followed by an illumination of the world by those necessary and eternal principles.  

Failing this, "we are thereby reduced to a merely-horizontal view of things, making the loftiest truths descend to the same level as the most lamentable errors." To reduce our hierarchically ordered cosmos to matter or math or privilege or "power" is to reduce intelligence to invincible stupidity. 

Conversely, when we are receptive to the higher light and see things in their proper perspective, "we will have a vertical view of things according to the true scale of values -- from the Supreme Truth and Sovereign Good all the way down to the most distant ramblings of error and evil." 

Seen in this Light, error and evil are proof of the True and Good. 

"Consecration to the truth," says Garrigou, "is real, perennial, liberating, and salvific." If it weren't real, it couldn't set us free, now could it? Nor could it save. 

To say "perennial" is to say timeless and universal, so it is also quite obviously one. If it weren't, we could never know it, for our intelligence would thereby be plunged into an obscure multiplicity with no way up and out. We would be condemned to the Tyranny of Diversity, as in California.

A cosmos divided against it self cannot stand. Nor could we stand it, since dualism is repugnant to the intellect. Behind, beneath, and above the bifurcation of intelligence and intelligibility is the Eternal Intellection of the Plenitude of Being.

I'll just end with this thought by St. Thomas -- and let us moths be thankful he thought this way:

As it is better to illuminate than to shine only, so it is better to hand on to others what has been contemplated rather than to contemplate only.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Death, Revolution, and Giggles

The political platforms of the left are gradually transformed into scaffolds --Dávila

A few more points about the logic of sacrifice before moving on. First, note the role of projection: for five years the left has been viciously attacking President Trump, and yet, feel themselves to be his victims, for which reason they feel justified in his political murder (the symbolic regicide of impeachment). 

Indeed, Dems such as AOC quite literally feel their lives were threatened by the president and his agents, e.g., Senators Cruz and Hawley. 

Which brings to mind a golden oldie by Schuon that perfectly encrapsulates the mindset of the left's perversive victim culture:

In reality, man has the right to be legitimately traumatized only by monstrosities; [BUT] he who is traumatized by less is himself a monster.

Monsters. Germans, for example, were traumatized by the Jews. They certainly said as much. Nazis fervently maintained that murdering the Jews was an act of pure self-defense. The purpose of this comparison is not to evoke Godwin's law, but rather, to highlight the power and persistence of political psycho-projection. Extreme cases illuminate the less extreme. 

If we've learned nothing else over the past five years, it is the extent to which the contemporary American left "speaks" the language of projection. If they didn't, we would have no way of knowing what they're up to until it's too late. (Hint: eliminating Trump = eliminating us. And U.S.) 

In order to decode who they are and what they believe, one must examine what the left imputes to others, e.g., racism, violence, anti-science, etc.  This has always been the case, but there is something in the psychospirtual water that is accelerating the process, such that the time between projection and enactment is shortening, perhaps because our cultural defense mechanisms have been breached and overwhelmed. Spiritual AIDS.

Acceleration. Toward what? Spiritual death, which is to say death, for death occurs when the form withdraws from the body. 

Yes, you might say that the form of our culture is simply undergoing "change" (AKA "progress"), but a change in substance is the opposite of a change of substance. That is to say, if the change is grounded in our founding principles -- for example, oh, freedom of speech -- then that is consistent with the Life of our nation. 

Conversely, to the extent that change is grounded in substantially different principles, then this is a change of substance into a new organism. It is revolution, not renewal. 

Speaking of which, is there a commandment the left doesn't invert and negate, from idolatry to relativism to envy to the institutionalization of theft?

That was a rhetorical question. For

--What is called the modern mentality is the process of exonerating the deadly sins (NGD).

Accelerate. Where have I heard that? Ah yes -- Fr. Reginald deployed this word just last night, although in a book that was published 75 years ago. In it he traces our cultural descent from paganism through deism, naturalism, liberalism, materialism, atheism, radicalism, socialism, communism, revolution, et al. Change!

However, if 

the most lamentable effects of these pernicious errors do not yet clearly appear in the first generation, they are manifested in the third, fourth, and fifth generations according to the law of acceleration in descent. It is as in the acceleration of falling bodies: if in the first second the velocity of descent were to be twenty, in the fifth second it would be a hundred (emphasis mine).

Now presciently, this was published one year before the appearance of the most Grating Generation, the dreaded Boomers. We are now into, what, the fourth generation since them? (Millennials --> X --> Y --> Z --> whatever.)  If these latter generations are bad, I still blame the parents and grandparents.  

(Speaking of which, new book: Boomers: The Men and Women Who Promised Freedom and Delivered Disaster --

I don't mean to sound so pissimystic this morning, because I'm not. Rather, I always assume the worst and hope for the best. To quote our friend Nicolás,

With good humor and pessimism it is possible to be neither wrong nor bored.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that our civilization is dead. Rather, that it is visibly dying before our eyes; and that one must be either insensate or one of its attackers or to not see this. After all, the latter no longer even bother to lie about what they're doing, so just believe them. 

Consider what they're doing to our children, which is soul murder masquerading as education:

--By 2022, as your first-grader is learning that two plus two is four, the Minnesota Department of Education intends to mandate that she also learn to recognize “stereotypes,” “biased speech,” and “injustice at the institutional or systemic level.” 

--Your middle schooler will be drilled in how his identity is a function of his skin color.

--Your high schooler will be required to explain how Europeans invented “whiteness” and that America’s 19th-century westward expansion was the shameful product of “whiteness, Christianity and capitalism.” 

--World history from classical Greece and Rome to World Wars I and II... has been virtually eliminated. In its place, for example, young people... will learn about “feng shui”...

--5-year-olds will “identify surface and deep characteristics of different ways of being (identity).” Fourth-graders are coached on how one’s “identity” and “biases influence decisions about how to use a space.” Seventh-graders are exhorted to “define race and ethnicity from different perspectives and make connections to one’s own ways of being (identities).”

--By high school, students must “explain... the social construction of race” and “assess how social policies and economic forces offer privilege or systematic oppressions for racial/ethnic groups.” (

Again: a change of substance. One can advocate this change, but just don't deny that it redounds to the death of one culture and the birth of a new one, good and hard.  

Sometimes I write a whole post without intending to do so. Like today, for what I really wanted to do is wrap up our discussion of Transcendence and History. Let's try to do so in the timelessness remaining. I guess this passage will do:

So -- whether the phenomena under consideration are the cults of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, or more benign discharges such as an obsession with UFOs or the deification of movie or pop music stars -- a naively immanentist or materialist landscape is invariably a field of spiritual disorientation and false adoration, where the human longing for the divine ground is misdirected and misapplied.

And a fistful of aphorisms to wrap things up:

--The conservatism of each era is the counterweight to the stupidity of the day.

--Conservatism should not be a political party but the normal attitude of every decent man.

--To be a conservative is to understand that man is a problem without a human solution.

--The conservative is a simple pathologist. He defines sickness and health. But God is the only therapist.

--To scandalize the leftist, just speak the truth.

--Defeats are never definitive when they are accepted with good humor.


Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Human Sacrifice & Other Forms of Impeachment

History never repeats but it does often rhyme. This is largely because human nature doesn't change, while the circumstances do; therefore, man qua man can't help saying and doing the same old things, only garbed in new clothing. As Eve was the first progressive, college educated white women (of both genders) may be the last.

Let's take "impeachment," for example. What is it, really? And with what does it rhyme? It seems that it's been with us since before the beginning, only in different guises, from regicide to patricide to deicide. In a superficial sense, today's trial is but a farce. Even so, different motives abound, making it a farce multiplier. 

Even among a tribe not known for self-awareness, there are surely some Dems who pretend to support the farce for wholly cynical, tactical, or strategic reasons, e.g., to throw red meat (or fresh organic vegetables, rather) to the base, or to distract from the Biden administration's deeply unpopular policies, or to provide a Totem of Hate to temporarily unify their disparate mob of losers, misfits, and crazies 

By the way, you may have noticed from the sidebar that we're on a Garrigou binge, and likely will be for the remainder of the year. However, before gorging ourselves on that feast, I'd like to finish our dialogue with Transcendence and History before it sinks beneath the subjective horizon. 

Speaking of the unbloody sacrifice of impeachment, I wonder if today's ritual killing somehow rhymes with communion? Is this but another satanic mass and President Trump the unwitting host in a parallel looniverse?

First, some resonant passages from T & H to set the stage:

the popular concept of the historical past as having receded irretrievably into a distance of time is a misconception based on a failure to appreciate human participation in timeless realities, and to appreciate that all who grasp and enact those realities are brought together in immediate and true contemporaneity (Hughes).

For example, to participate in the Mass is to stand cheek-to-jowl with all co-participants past and future, above (with the saints in heaven) and below.  Indeed, it is to em-body the one participant in the one eternal sacrifice that transcends time.  It explicitly does not repeat the sacrifice, rather, eternally rhymes with it in an unbloody manner.  

(Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin: some bow-tied clown of a chaplain has taken a mask from the ancient gallery and pleaded with his strange god to take control of this impeachment trial. Don't worry, the gods of the left have been summoned and are indeed in control of the proceedings. Carry on.)

Elsewhere in the book Hughes quotes Voegelin to the effect that our modern progressive revolt would be unintelligible if it weren't understood as a deformation of the very Christianity against which it is in revolt. 

Let's pull a golden oldie from the shelf, In the Shadow of Moloch, by Martin Bergmann. In a chapter called The Psychology of Sacrifice, he notes that

The rite of sacrifice must meet a deep and universal human need, otherwise we would be at a loss to explain its presence in all known cultures.

I wonder what this need could be? I'm a psychologist. Perhaps it's that familiar

feeling of dread that many men and women, burdened with a sense of guilt, experience when they are particularly successful or when good fortune beyond their expectations befalls them.

Let's say, for example, a group successfully rigs and steals an election. Naturally, this will provoke guilt. The guilt is repressed, but then what? I know! Let's project it into someone else and sacrifice the victim. All in favor say Aye

The ayes have it. In other words, human sacrifice is always unanimity minus one

This is truly one of the universal motifs of human history. Every primitive culture practiced human sacrifice, and the left is nothing if not primitive.  

One of the explicit purposes of the impeachment is to drive a stake through the heart of the Orange Man so that he can never again haunt the fragile psyches of the left. This too rhymes with the past:

Many students of the subject believe that sacrifices originated in fear of the dead. The Greeks burned their dead so as to banish them to Hades, while certain primitive people dismembered corpses to prevent their returning to life.

Or returning to the White House. In any event, so long as President Trump has secret service protection, dismemberment is probably off the menu. So, impeachment it is.

"Primitive cultures" fear that "One who does not sacrifice will be persecuted, punished." In Mesoamerica, for example, "The continuation of the world, the rising of the sun, depended on sacrifices.... not even the continuation of time could be taken for granted." The gods want blood, and they want it now.

It would be logical at this point to segue to Gil Bailie's Violence Unveiled, but unpacking it would take all day. Just read the book, which will be like reading today's news, only forever. The bottom line, as Bergmann says, is that the Crucifixion "was the central sacrifice in the history of the world and made all subsequent sacrifices superfluous."

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Inferior Clarity and Superior Obscurity

We're still on the subject of those two obscurities that are situated above and below the intellect, i.e., in matter below and spirit above. Along these lines, Garrigou-Lagrange (heretofore G-L) writes that

It is necessary to distinguish the inferior sort of obscurity, which arises from incoherence and absurdity, from the superior sort of obscurity, which comes from a light that is too powerful for the weak eyes of our mind.

Now, ironically -- or something -- this superior obscurity is the penumbra of certitude, so to speak. Put it this way: if you stare long enough at the sun, you are certain to go blind, thereby proving once and for all that the sun exists.  

far from excluding certitude, this superior sort of obscurity is united to it; it does not truly begin unless it begins with certitude, and the two increase together. 

In other words, it seems that certitude and obscurity covary, which again sounds a little strange until you realize that God is a bottomless abyss of superessential light. Analogously, the sphere necessarily contains an infinite number of circles, and then some.

Respect the mystery! This goes for everyone, Christian, non-Christian, and anti-Christian alike, for it is a human imperative. For if we fail to respect it -- and to the extent that we don't -- we will thereby render ourselves stupid in certain predictable ways. 

For example, if we deny the superior obscurity by superimposing upon it the inferior clarity of scientism, we solve the mystery of humanness at the price of denying its existence. We are HINOs -- Human In Name Only, for we are really just a babbling mammal with too much self-esteem and too little self-awareness. We are all reduced to AOC, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Barack Obama.

Now, reality is what it is. What changes is our view of it. Like a work of art, things can be understood superficially or deeply; intelligence as such is able to penetrate beneath the surface of things and apprehend their deeper meaning: in so doing it unites particulars into a more integral vision of unity.

The object of the intellect -- AKA reality -- is inexhaustible: one can always deepen one's understanding "without ever touching the depth" -- or "summit," rather.  

Put it this way: the existence of God may be proved with certainty -- which at once proves with inferior clarity the infinitely superior obscurity.  Knowing one doesn't know is far superior to the tenured ape who doesn't know what he doesn't know and believes that what he knows is without mystery. Religious Dunning-Krugery pervades academia. 

A child and adult see the same world. Then again, they don't at all. Likewise, conservative liberals and illiberal leftists see the same world. Then again, not even close. Now, what accounts for this unbridgeable distance between conservative and child? Are leftists just passively detached from higher realities, or are they actively hallucinating? I know: the power of and.

This is straight out of the Raccoon playbook:

while materialism has a horizontal view of things (making more elevated realities descend to the level of matter), true wisdom has a vertical view of things and distinguishes ever more clearly the two obscurities of which we have spoken -- the one from below that originates in matter (as well as error and evil) and the one from on high, which is that of the very inward and intimate life of God.

Except to "error and evil" we would add stupid and crazy.   

We'll leave off with a riff on St. Thomas's acute sense of mystery, and how his peerless clarity was crowned with, and illuminated by, an even more superior vision of obscurity:

How does it happen that this human intellect (above all in those who have the philosophical spirit or also among the ordinary who have lofty souls) after sixty or seventy years is ripe (even from the natural point of view) for an intellectual life superior to that supplied by libraries and all the means of information, as long as the soul is united to the body?