Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Personal is the Political, Even Though We Now Have Medications For That

Continuing with the previous post, which involved staring into the void -- or plenum, depending on whether there is something or nothing, nonlocal order or just unremitting chaos and tenure. 

Looking out the window before me is our cement pond. I was just now idly gazing at it while awaiting my sattvalight linkup, and out of the pattern a face emerged. 

On the one hand, this signifies nothing more than man's inveterate tendency to see patterns amidst chaos. On the other, it reminds me of the eternal birth of the Son out of the watery womb of Beyond-Being. So I got that going for me. 

We left off with an essay by Mary Eberstadt called The Cross Amid the Crisis, which explicates some of the points made in her book Primal Screams. This latter explores the origins of identity politics, that incredibly destructive -- I'm gonna say satanic -- ideology that pervades the left. 

In my view, this truly diabolical doctrine is at antipodes to Christianity, the same Christianity that undergirds western civilization and, quintessentially, the American founding. No wonder the nation is so divided. After all, this is what the Evil One does, precisely (diabolos means to divide and scatter, so fission accompliced).

Nor is it necessary to begin with the satanic principle. Rather, one can approach it like any other science by observing the effects. Then one looks for a unifying hypotheses that accounts for these diverse effects. Let's call this hypothesis (S). And let's call the effects (E). 

Obviously there's a whole lot of (E)vil in this world. We can all agree on that, even those postmodern sophisticates who insist that evil doesn't exist, and besides, it's really caused by those theocratic Christianist absolutists who are naive enough to believe in the existence of good and evil!  

Here's a progressive koan for you to ponder: regarding the Taliban, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." But Christians are even worse than the Taliban -- just as the violent insurrectionists of 1-6 were more evil than the mostly peaceful someones who did something on  9-11!

No wonder AOC was weeping on the house floor. I'd cry too if the world were that devoid of logic. She dwells in an absurd looniverse that flows out of its own illogicality. Nor is it any wonder that Marx appeals them: sure, his thought is a dumpster fire of narcissism, envy, resentment, and racism, but at least it's a coherent dumpster fire. 

I am reminded of a comment by a recently sainted pope to the effect that "only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light." Big claim! However, you can take it as an anthropological axiom or perhaps as a Lincolnesque proposition that

A hundred score and seventy odd years ago, our apostolic Fathers brought forth in this hemisphere a new civilization, conceived in freedom and truth, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created, and that the Incarnation finally makes sense of this otherwise impenetrable mystery.

Eberstadt's essay touches on this theme, in that, if the Incarnation makes sense of anthropology, removing it from from the foundation of anthropology generates nonsense, i.e., disorder, chaos, and aggression:

The rise in mental distress and the decline of organized religion... are not randomly occurring phenomena. Social science confirms that people who have robust social bonds are more likely to thrive than people who don’t. Religious faith confers those bonds. Social science also shows that the fractured family and other forms of isolation increase the risks of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, loneliness, and other vexations. All have been exacerbated by the Western flight from God.

True, but correlation isn't necessarily causation. Is there a better explanation for why, say, the more feminists get what they think they want, the unhappier they are? And the more college-educated, the stupider? (For example, something like two-thirds of men see Joe Biden for the feeble wreck that he is, while his strongest base of support is from college indoctrinated women of both sexes.) 

Secularization is also behind today’s family Chaos. In embracing divorce, fatherlessness, and abortion, humanity has inflicted wounds on itself whose measure has only begun to be taken. We are only beginning to grasp that what starts at home doesn’t stay at home. The feral children of family Chaos now pour into the streets, frantically trying to substitute identity politics for the primordial bonds of which they’ve been deprived. Identity politics is a pitiful attempt at emotional alchemy by souls desperate for connection (emphases mine). 

The left is actually correct on that score: the personal is indeed the political, and the crazier the former the worse the latter. Back to our anthropological proposition, for which there is abundant negative evidence:

today’s Chaos amounts to inadvertent proof that Christianity, and the Judaism from which it drank, get humanity right.

That's a bingo. For 

Our secularizing culture is not just any culture. No, our secularizing culture is an inferior culture. It is small of heart. It defines suffering down. It regards the victims of its social experiments not as victims, but as acceptable collateral damage justified by those experiments.

This is why the victims of leftist policies always become vindictims, except their incontinent anger and bullying aggression are displaced from family to society. Absent fathers, for example, reappear as RACISS POLICE! Or MEN ON HORSES ENFORCING OUR LAWS! Like me they see a face in the pool. The difference is, I'm just enjoying a little benign hypnopompic hallucination, while they're living an a terrifyingly reified and malevolent ideological delusion:

Scholars of tomorrow will look back in astonishment, and perhaps pity, at today’s magical thinking. They will need facts, figures, arguments, and evidence, especially about the human costs of today’s experiment in secularization (Eberstadt).

But the Raccoon is vouchsafed the scholarship of tomorrow today!; or in other words, eternity while you wait!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Checking in with the Ground of Cosmos and Psyche

I was going to say "rethinking the foundation of" but the foundation can't change, only its entailments and our depth (or lack) of understanding. What is is, even if we pretend it isn't.  

However, as we know, even that which isn't -- or even cannot be -- has real world effects. A sovereign nation can't have open borders. Nevertheless. 

Likewise, the world can insist that human biology is irrelevant, at least for a while. But eventually biology will extract its vengeance -- no different than if we were to deny the laws of physics or economics. Regarding the latter, we've passed the point that we can solve the problem of dysfunctional monetary policy by printing more money. Nevertheless.

Where is the Flood when you need it?

Speaking of which, notice how the left has an intutive sense of the Ground and its effects, only they displace and project it into the imaginary world of Climate Catastrophe (among others). They agree that we are Doomed -- after all, this is what it means to be under Existential Threat -- only project their wild Boschian fantasies into the weather.

Same as any primitive people, I suppose. God isn't dead, he's just back to a pre-Judeo-Christian form of tossing lightning bolts from the sky and causing floods, fires, famine, and hurricaines. Climate change causes everything. Just like God.

Obviously the softer the science the easier to deny: not only can anyone deny human psychology, but denial itself is one of the most important things to know about human psychology -- that man's psychic armamentarium includes the ability to deny unpleasant and unwanted truths. 

This (like psychological defense mechanisms in general) is a Good Thing, or at least it has a proper function. But just because man can only handle so much truth, it doesn't mean he should live in a world of lies. This turns a defense into an aggressor, very much like an autoimmune disease that turns on the host.

Speaking of foundations, we see this defense mechanism articulated right out of the gate in Genesis, with Adam's dissatisfaction with, and denial of, mere creaturehood. And every denial contains an affirmation, in this case, "we shall be as gods."  Here is an example of the Ground mentioned in the title: its essential Isness never changes, only the effects.

Cosmos and Psyche

It's getting to the point that we need a new constitutional convention. To be sure, the old one is adequate for us -- white European male Christians and their families -- but not the others (and they aren't shy about saying so, from Woodrow Wilson to Ruth Ginsberg). The existing constitution can't work in a matriarchy, a matriarchy of color, an Islamist patriarchy, or a pansexual utopia. It can't work in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Africa, etc.   

To say that man is the "political animal" is a tautology, unless these two form an irreducible complementarity. If that's the case, then we still have to give a specific meaning to "political animal." It can't be "a man with politics," because politics goes to the essence of what man is

Nor is there politics without man. Evolutionary psychologists like to reduce politics to what we see among other primates and social animals, but that's just instinct. And if politics reduces to instinct, then biology is sufficient to explain it. Even though biology is whatever they want it to be. Nevertheless.

This is not to say that politics is free of biology. To the contrary, it pervades our politics -- for example, in the estrogen-driven Democrat party and the low-T Republican castrati who seek its approval. AOC at one end, Jonah Goldberg, David Brooks, and David From at the other, and not a testicle among them. 

A "People" is presumed by the Constitution. It doesn't work with multiple peoples with "identities" completely at  odds with one another. It WILL NOT WORK in a country of Ilhan Omars, Al Sharptons, Don Lemons. Its first words are WE THE PEOPLE and their POSTERITY. I used to assume that the make-up of the people was irrelevant, and that it applied to all people at all times.

Not only is this a Big Mistake, it is one of the biggest mistakes of the left. To believe it is to have not only given in to the left but to be an implicit leftist. For just as politics is downstream from culture, culture is the externalization of a people. I no longer see my culture out there among the culturati. It still exists, but only in certain little islands of resistance. Oddly, in the "information age" it is more accessible than ever, but our New People reject it root and branch. 

To give these concerns some context, over the weekend I read a book called Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics. It is by Mary Eberstadt, one of those respectable conservatives from whom the left has little to fear. The book makes some vitally important points, but presented in such a way as to not offend our new ruling people. Don't worry, she's not one of those deplorable Trumpian insurrectionists!

I'm running late, so I don't have time to review the book. However, much of its argument is presented in this recent essay called The Cross and the Crisis, which I will try to edit down to its essential points. First, there is the ever-present choice between Order and Chaos (which brings to mind an aphorism -- Either God or chance: all other terms are disguises for one or the other).

First, there is compounding family Chaos, brought on by a radical social experiment now six-plus decades in the making. Elemental human bonds have been frayed and cut, and the institution of the family has been weakened, on a scale never seen before. 
Second, and symbiotic, there is also compounding psychic Chaos of all kinds. For decades, the rise in mental illness has been documented beyond dispute. Anxiety, depression, and other afflictions resulting from disconnection and loneliness have become endemic, especially among the youngest, and most frail. Irrationalism has come unbound. 
Third, there is political chaos. Though its causes are many, the dissolution of clan and community leave their marks here, too. To put it rhetorically: how could the unattached and dispossessed people of our time produce anything but a disordered public language? 
Fourth, there is anthropological chaos of a wholly new order. The Western world is gripped by an identity crisis. In its latest form, magical thinking about gender has escaped from the academy and now transforms society and law -- magical thinking so preposterous that little children could call it out. In a shocking descent unlike any in recorded history, many people today no longer even know what little children know -- namely, who they are. Once more, irrationalism is unbound. 
Fifth, there is intellectual Chaos. Outside a few faithful institutions, American education, especially elite education, has been hiding in a postmodern cuckoo’s nest for decades. People who do not believe in truth now run institutions charged with discerning it. A little while ago, an atheist was elected Chief Chaplain at Harvard. Why not? If there is no truth, there are no contradictions. In much of the academy, irrationalism is not only unbound. It rules. 
Sixth, and most consequential: there is Chaos of a new order and significance among Catholics across the Western world. It arises from people who want to transform Church teaching – and their animus against other people who hold to the truth of that teaching.... leaders proudly brandishing the Catholic label just as proudly defy the Catechism and key points of canon law.... Magical thinking drives this kind of chaos, too.... All demand that we cancel Aristotle – that we believe “A” and “Not-A” at once.

Here we see how the diabolical seeds of chaos are sown in the ground, and we are but the beneficiaries of the bountiful harvest.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Profound Shallowness of Identity Politics

If identity politics is the answer, what is the question?

Being that it's not my answer to anything -- except how to destroy the nation -- I'll have to think about it.

Wait, I know: the left wants to destroy the nation! 

That goes without saying. But why do so with identity politics? 

Well, if the answer is "identity," the question must be "Who am I?"

Add the qualifier "politics," and the question becomes: "How do I gain more political power for my tribe?"

For you and I -- trolls excepted -- our race and ethnicity contribute nothing to our identity. To the extent that we think about it, it is only because the barbarians of the left force us to do so. They never stop reminding us of our race, nor of our oppression of all these people we've never even met. True, I can be a bit overbearing, but I don't single out particular races or genders. Plenty of white trolls consider me obnoxious.  

Oddly, the identity of our tribal accusers includes us at the center, whereas our identity excludes them entirely. We never think about them unless they are rioting or committing crimes or raising our taxes. We can happily live without them in our midst, whereas their entire existence revolves around us and our imaginary oppression of them. This is a curious situation, to put it mildly.  

Let's try to dig down to the foundation of identity -- not the hallucinatory projections of the left, but the real thing.

I'll begin by speaking for myself. It has been a long journey from conception to retirement, and there have been numerous changes in my identity over the years. Nevertheless, I am the same person. Or am I? 

As usual, extremists meet, and at both ends we find agreement that the notion of an essential identity is but a persistent and seductive illusion. At the hard end there is no self, just storm of neurological activity with an illusory side effect called Bob. At the soft end we have, say, Buddhism, the whole point of which is to realize the impermanence and unreality of the ego. 

In between we have various social sciences that either deny the self or dismiss it because their paradigm cannot account for it. Using a reductive metaphysic such as scientism to understand the self is like using the rules of grammar to try to understand Shakespeare. In doing so you'll miss the point entirely, for grammar is only a boundary condition for the emergence of something higher and more meaningful.

So, to affirm that science can find no evidence of a personal self is reminiscent of the Soviet cosmonaut who returned to earth and announced that he'd found no evidence of God up there. Science abounds with such trivial truths trapped in tedious tautology.

Back to my various identities over the years. In one sense we could say that a human being is someone capable of asking Who am I? An animal can never ask this question, while a person can never stop asking it. As we've mentioned before, the first human is the first to have asked this -- or any -- question. 

Nor can we ever ever ask What is it? without inquiring into the nature of a being capable of knowing what it is. This is what it means to be critical (unlike the childishly uncritical devotees of Critical Race Theory).

There are some people -- we call them behaviorists -- who will say the question is meaningless because who we are is what we do. It's our outward behavior that counts, not what we think about it. If you murder someone, you're a murderer. If you lie, you're a liar. If you steal, a thief. No doubt you had your reasons, but our judicial system is -- or used to be, anyway -- based upon your actions and not your thoughts.

Which leads to one of those absurdities of the left, in that they pretend to look for "root causes" of this or that, while denying the mediation of a self. Rather, humans are just effects of deeper causes. In short, they have to destroy the properly human to save this or that human who has misused his freedom.

Before I ramble too far into the weeds, I'm going to begin at the end -- or a possible end -- with a principle enunciated by the Second Vatican Council that "when God is forgotten, the creature itself grows unintelligible." 

One needn't be Catholic to understand that this is both literally and necessarily true. To say man is to say God; alternatively, one can try to say "man" with the language of, for example, metaphysical Darwinism, but one is thereby saying only "animal." 

Likewise, one can try to say man with Marxism, but one is really only saying "class consciousness." Show me the class and I'll show you the man -- and more importantly, the crime.

Now, identity politics is obviously but a mutation of this Marxist pathology: class has simply been replaced by other categories, e.g., race and gender. These aren't "chosen"; rather, they choose you. Conveniently, the basis of freedom is eliminated at the root, since we have no choice with regard to the most important aspect of our identity: I didn't choose to be white, nor to be a privileged oppressor of women and blacks. It just is, and there's nothing I can do about it except admit it and pay up.

Again, in the absence of God, there is no man. In reality, man can only exist in the tension between immanence and transcendence. To say that I am but a member of this race or tribe is to plunge identity back into immanence, but why stop there? One could say with equal truth that I am an animal, a conglomeration of cells, a bag of selfish genes, or a pattern of quantum energy vibrating in the void.

All no doubt true. And trivial. 

To be continued...