Friday, September 09, 2022

Faith in Truth, Hope for a Miracle

If truth is not a property of being, then we are all leftists, except some of us pretend not to be. 

Put another way, there is either one philosophy or no possibility of philosophy. And if the latter, power rushes in to fill the epistemological void. 

Indeed, any properly indoctrinated leftist can tell you that politics is just a mask of power relations, and that's the end of it: Who and Whom, period, full stop, end of story. And beginning of nightmare.

It's true that power can distort and displace reality. It is the work of a moment for human beings to deny truth, but rather difficult to ignore the gun at your head or the taxman at your door (but I repeat myself).

Western civilization -- AKA civilization -- seems to be dying before our eyes. I say "seems" because I do not rule out the possibility of a miraculous intervention, or at least stay of execution.

Intelligent optimism is never faith in progress, but hope for a miracle.

In history it is sensible to hope for miracles and absurd to trust in plans (Dávila).

Although I am by nature an optimystic sort, I always feel a bit pessimessedup after reading Z Man:

Great Britain is barely a country at this point and it will soon be closer to South Africa than its glorious past. Like America, Britain is on its way to becoming a majority-minority society. At that point it ceases to be a nation or even a country, but simply an administrative zone. 
The Queen’s funeral will be a time for the old British to mourn the loss of their country and its traditions. There will be those who try to lever this emotion into a rearguard action to fight against the gathering darkness. Of course, the new British will be out reminding everyone that the new Britain will be vulgar and coarse. An ungrateful nation of foreigners will get to be ungrateful one more time....  
There is no going back and starting over, so the logical thing to do is close the books on it and begin thinking about what sort of future can be fashioned from the present. Maybe use thoughts of the glorious past to maintain a healthy anger at the bastards responsible for wrecking your country and turning it over to ungrateful foreigners (https://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=28210).

Aside from being a civilizational canary in the ghoulmind, what is was Great Britain? 

Civilizations are the summer buzzing of insects between two winters.

What's left for us but to laugh at our barbarian overlords?

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

But as I said, I am an optimist by nature, or at least I wake up every morning in an irrationally good mood. Until I check in with Z Man. But that's okay. From time to time we all need to be slapped unsilly. And behind this slap is Death itself, which we pretend to avoid by obsessing over his many disguises. 

Are there reasons for hope? Of course, just not in this world, let alone with this bunch. We'll return to this point, but I want to get back to that passing remark above about "one philosophy." That sounds more than a bit authoritarian, Bob. Now you know why Brandon calls your kind fascist!

Not at all. I'm just claiming equal rights for philosophy. No one says there are many valid forms of physics, or math, or chemistry. Your mechanic doesn't have two theories on how cars work.  

Yes, I realize there are leftists who believe otherwise -- that everything we claim to be true is just about Power and Oppression, but let's be serious. These clowns are not yet totally in power. 

And besides, it will actually prove to be difficult to maintain power in the absence of truth, a recent example being the California man using a gas powered generator to charge his planet-saving electric vehicle. This is far from the only reductio ad absurdum that occurs when you follow a leftist idea all the way to its logical end, for

The theses of the left are rationalizations that are carefully suspended before reaching the argument that dissolves them.

Of course, progressives aren't bothered by the crime wave they've unleashed, since it's mostly their urban pets killing and brutalizing each other. Things will change when we start having some high-profile murders instead of the thousands of low-brofile ones. I'm not calling for that. Rather, it's the next absurdum around the bend.

It is not when it fails to meet its promises, but does what it promises to do, that the true failure of the left is obvious.

Let's try to refocus before the sands run out on this post: one cosmos, one mankind, one philosophy. You could say this is trivial, but the operative word is one, by which we do not mean the number -- a quantity -- rather, the quality, and this quality is the basis of the possibility of any and all truth.

I'll just give a preview of the coming attractor with this passage from Living the Truth, by Josef Pieper:

With the expression, "All that exists is true," Western philosophy for almost two millennia intended to make a statement not only about reality as such but no less about the nature of man.

Thursday, September 08, 2022

They Call Me the Wonderer

Speaking of distinctions, there's a sharp one between "knowing" or "having" a philosophy vs. living in... in what will be the subject of this post. 

Don't hold me to it, but my guess is that it will turn out to be something like that quote you see above the comment box, where reality becomes luminous as it passes from the ineffable, through the Cosmos, on to the Ineffable. Best I can do at the moment. 

"He who endeavors to reflect on the totality of the world and existence," writes Pieper, 
sets foot on a path that in this life will never come to an end. He will always remain "on the way," the question will never receive an answer once and for all, the hope will never find fulfillment.

This doesn't mean life itself is hopeless, only that our hope is misplaced if it is attached to the wrong object. Limiting ourselves to three, Dávila:

Even being an atheist, one would also have to be an idiot to expect that something earthly will fulfill us. 

Nothing that satisfies our expectations fulfills our hopes. 

He who wishes to avoid grotesque collapses should look for nothing in space or in time that will fulfill him.

I would agree that philosophical man is Homo viator, because the object of his search is not only infinite but Infinitude per se. Indeed, how could a man not know this?  

Well, he could switch out the infinite object for an off-the-rack ideology, which man has been doing since crossing the divide between bios and anthropos. Russell Kirk once defined conservatism as the opposite of ideology, which, strictly speaking, is true:

Ideologies were invented so that men who do not think can give opinions.

A "right wing ideologue" is little better than a progressive one, and indeed, will evoke its inverted image. But as Hayek knew, communism and fascism are just two sides of the same deceitful and murderous coin, each being the opposite of conservative liberalism.

Notice too that progressive ideology evokes its opposite even if it is frankly delusional, as in how Brandon and his supporters imagine they are surrounded by dangerous MAGA semi-fascists. This is in the very nature of Democrats, as they were doing it even before they lost their slaves, as noted this morning by Steve Hayward (https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2022/09/democrats-and-the-f-bomb.php).

Let's get back to our subject, which is to say, our perpetual openness to the infinite object, or engagement with the whole of reality, both horizontal and vertical. The ontological necessity of this space sets us on the path of Homo viator, whether we hike it or not. 

In short, to paraphrase Schuon, we are condemned to transcendence, or, to paraphrase the Wanderer himself, I'm never in one place / I read from tome to tome / Yeah I'm the wanderer, yeah the wanderer.

But wandering isn't enough. Rather, it must be accompanied by wondering, which, they say, is both the cause and consequence of the philosophical life. This cause is up at the Other end, which is why

He who speaks of the farthest regions of the soul soon needs a theological vocabulary,

and

As long as we do not arrive at religious categories, our explanations are not founded upon rock.

Best I can do this morning. To be continued...  

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

The G.O.A.T. of Scapegoating

Philosophy takes place at the fluid boundary between what is known with certitude and what can never be known exhaustively, like standing on the earth and looking into the sky. 

Anyone can see the ground on which he stands, but no one has ever seen the end of the sky. And even if we do perceive the edge of the big bang, the sky is just a symbol of Infinitude, so don't be so literal!

This line in the ampersand between earth & sky is necessarily ambiguous -- i.e., imprecise -- but nevertheless clear. 

Think of a cloud, which has distinct edges from a distance but which become increasingly vague as one approaches. Doesn't mean clouds don't exist, nor that a man can't have his head in one. Don't be so literal! 

It's the same with words, which is how the left creates so much mischief with them. Just because no word is exactly what it signifies, it doesn't mean words have no relationship to reality, nor that they mean whatever the left wants them to mean. 

But this necessary ambiguity is like catnip to the anti-intellectual (mind-destroying) left; it is how they can define anything they want into existence, and undefine out what they don't like. As we know, abracadabra means I will create as I speak, and this is the very basis of the politico-media-academic black magic of the left.

I could get sidetracked into this two-volume biography of Hitler I'm reading, but it's rather early to invoke Godwin's Law. 

Still, I've mentioned before that my time as an intern at Camarillo State Mental Hospital dealing with extreme loonies helped prepare me for dealing with everyday loonies, because in the former we see the same pathological mechanisms at work, only in a hypertrophically vivid manner -- things like projection, denial, splitting, repression, fantasy, and transference, painted over the sky with bold, primary colors.  

Analogously, someone like Hitler is just an extreme version of everyday politics. Viewed through this lens, nothing he said was out of the ordinary per se, rather, just the usual lies and distortions on steroids. This is not to compare anyone to Hitler, rather, to recognize the continuity of the deep structure beneath the BS. 

Thus, when Brandon points to the imaginary threat of MAGA REPUBLICANS!, it has an obvious resemblance to Nazi blather about Jews, or Slavs, or life unworthy of life. But forget about the grave danger posed by MAGA or Jew, for the underlying constant is scapegoating, which in turn is related to the omnipresence of projection, aggression, and psychic purification.

That's as far as I want to go down that Jojo rabbit hole, but the book to read is Gil Bailie's Violence Unveiled. You could say that concealed within the news of the day is the scapegoat of the day: identity the scapegoat and you've seen through their primitive magic. The content always changes (kulaks, blacks, Catholics, deplorables, Tea Party, the bourgeoisie, MAGA), but the mechanism endures. https://www.amazon.com/Violence-Unveiled-Humanity-at-Crossroads/dp/0824516451/ref=sr_1_2?crid=27ALYM5IW6XNC&keywords=Gil+Bailie&qid=1662574108&s=books&sprefix=gil+bailie%2Cstripbooks%2C124&sr=1-2 

About the two sides of the epistemological line in the clouds referenced above, Pieper writes that it is perfectly appropriate to pronounce on the one hand that Science has determined...

It is meaningless, on the other hand, to declare that "philosophy" has discovered or explained this or that.... No philosopher can in any way use the "results" of Plato's philosophy, except if he repeats, by and for himself, Plato's thinking. 

We have aphoristic confirmation of this breaking story:

Comprehending a philosopher is being momentarily swayed by him.

Confirmation too for the ground we're standing on:

Four or five invulnerable philosophical propositions allow us to make fun of the rest.

And for the abiding continuity beneath the Current Thing:

It is not so much that men change their ideas, as that the ideas change their disguises. In the discourse of the centuries, the same voices are in dialogue.

To be continued... 

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Shut Up and Listen

We can all agree that the stars are aren't visible by day, but this doesn't mean they aren't visible per se, nor do the conditions or accidents of our vision have any bearing on the nature of stars. A star is a star whether or not we see it. Besides, the sun is a star, and each star is a sun.

And yet, a star is never just a star; I'm thinking, for example, of how human beings are composed of stardust, i.e., of elements that are cooked up in stars and propagated as a result of their "death" and explosion. In short, a star isn't just a pinpoint of light, but an evolutionary process very much present in us. No one knows where to draw these lines; rather, they are utterly conventional.

For example, where is the line between the sun and its rays that are gathered and transformed by leaves herebelow? The borders we imagine and impose are simultaneously useful and arbitrary; or, I want to say continuous and discontinuous. Our analytic minds notice (and often invent) the discontinuity, but this can only be in the context of a prior continuity; the converse is literally impossible and unthinkable.

Which is why I think human beings have left and right cerebral hemispheres, whether literally or figuratively. Irrespective of the underlying neurology, we certainly have two distinct ways of approaching the world, and these two in turn ramify into others. And I suspect these two modes proceed all the way up and are very much anchored in the Nature of Things (which is ontologically prior to the things of nature).

For example, the clear, distinct, and quantitative approach of science quite naturally branches off into physics, chemistry, biology, anthropology, astronomy, and more. The question is, how do we put them back together? Obviously it can't be accomplished from within one of the posterior subdivisions, but this doesn't mean people stop trying.

There are thinkers at one end who try to stuff it all down into physics, others who draw it all up into reason (or mind), and still others who insist it can't be done and that it is foolish to try: scientism, rationalism (or idealism), and postmodern sophistry, respectively. 

Indeed, when you break it all down, there aren't that many options for considering the Totality: our experience spontaneously bifurcates into subject and object, and philosophies tend to do the same. 

But in our opinion, subject and object are ultimate complementarities, such that any philosophy that tries to reduce one to the other is like the Daytime Man who insists that stars don't exist, when he's just refusing to acknowledge the conditions or engage in the method that renders them visible.

In science, the method is determined by the object; every ology involves its own specific approach, but none of these applies to whole of reality. In fact, all bad philosophies end up reducing the world to one's method of interpreting it

It occurs to me that this must be why so many people have said to me, I don't see any method at all, sir.

But there is a method, except it's a sort of anti-method that involves silence and vertical openness, or what I once symbolized (---) and (o), respectively. 

I would say that these are the only reasonable methods for conforming oneself to the Reality beyond reason. Nor am I alone in believing this.

But right now I need to make a Costco run before the lights go out in the rolling political apocalypse that is now California -- the horror -- so we'll continue this defense of my anti-methods tomorrow. 

Monday, September 05, 2022

Liberal and Illiberal Arts

In the previous post we suggested that the practice of philosophy -- if successful -- transforms a merely useless man into a perfectly useless one. Pieper writes that 

Philosophy by its nature is a free endeavor, and for this reason it serves no one and nothing.

But this idea goes waaaay back to the beginning of philosophy. For example,

Analyzing Aristotle's text in his Metaphysics, we find to our amazement that "free" there means the same as "nonpractical!" 

Conversely, practical "is everything that serves a purpose." The operative word is serve, as in serf, service, servile, and slave. Philosophy is intellectual freedom truly lived,

insofar as it is not geared toward some purpose outside itself. Philosophy, rather, is an endeavor containing its own meaning and requires no justification from a purpose "served" (ibid.). 

Just yesterday I was telling my son that when I first began hearing rumblings about the left's sinister plans to eliminate free speech, I assumed it was just the usual paranoid ravings from the fringes of the periphery of the outskirts beyond the pale of the fever swamps of the conspiracy theorists of the pre-MAGA insurrectionists. 

Indeed, having once been a man of the left, I knew the principle of free speech was inviolate, and that no real liberal would ever question it. 

But ever since then, we see how the left has rapidly disavowed every last liberal principle, culminating most recently in Brandon's fascist attack on half the population (but in reality the other half as well, except they're too stupid or indoctrinated to see it).

Back when I was a Democrat, I didn't even know anyone who would have disagreed that academia should be a free space for rational beings to indulge our irrepressible search for the truth of reality. No one outside the Soviet sphere would have imagined otherwise. 

"Liberal arts" are "those that are oriented toward knowledge alone." Which is interesting, because today's illiberal arts -- or subhumanities -- are indeed useless (e.g, gender studies, queer theory, CRT, etc.), only in an inverted way, since they are detached from the freedom and truth that is their ground and telos. 

In other words, in order to be perfectly useless, we must be silent and passive in the face of reality, which is the real instructor:

only in silence is hearing possible. Moreover, the stronger the determination prevails to hear all there is, the more complete the silence must be.

Conversely, science doesn't shut up, nor should it, for every answer is simultaneously the next question. And no answer is true per se, only falsifiable. Moreover, the questions are never about reality as such, rather, only particular aspects or objects which determine the method of approach. Therefore,

entire realms of reality are expressly "of no interest" right from the start. Seen from this angle, the philosopher's question, strictly, is no question at all: What is it all about? 

Any questions?

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Survival of the Littest

No, I don't apologize for the title, first, because the subject is Light, and second, because it's a perfectly acceptable word in standard poor English: https://www.urbandictionary.copoor m/define.php?term=littest

It popped into my head upon reading the following passage about how the metaphysically lit philosopher

will not fit naively into the functioning of the workaday routine; he as well will not be "fit" for this world; he as well will look at things differently from those who primarily are dominated by the pursuit of practical purposes. 

Welcome to my world, in which every day is nonlabor day -- which is not to say that no work is required. 

Rather, Pieper devoted a whole book to that subject (Leisure), which goes to the crucial distinction between the liberal and servile arts. Around here we not only focus on the former, but are always abiding in the nonlocal source of this leisure -- which is to say, freedom, slack, and play.

Play. That triggers memories of Letter I of Meditations on the Tarot, which I will quote in brief so as to not fall into a very large rabbit hole. In fact, I'll just extract a passage from a couple thousand posts ago: 

Why is the magician the would-be spiritual knowa's archetype? Because he is the symbol of what we must become if we are to have a fruitful journey through the rest of this symbolically resonant world. We must become this magician. And what does this magician represent?

Well, among other things, he embodies the principle of Slack, in that we must leave below the field of profane time, and become attuned to a more subtle music that has its own rhythms and harmelodies. Here is how UF formulates it:

Learn at first concentration without effort; transform work into play; make every yoke that you have accepted easy and every burden that you carry light!

The first of these prescriptions has to do with what we call the principle of Higher Non-doodling, which in turn is similar to the wu wei of Taoism. 

I suppose when I first started blogging 17 years ago, it was with some sort of purpose or goal in mind. That phase must have lasted for at least a week, before it was necessary to formally surrender:

every so often attempts have been made to bridge the incompatibility between philosophy and the world of production. The results have always been the same: the destruction of philosophy... (Pieper).

And of people. Without a doubt, the most useful philosophy of all time is Marxism, since it explicitly seeks to change the world before understanding it. Although it is intellectually dead, its spirit is nevertheless very much alive among the progressive zombies of the left. You saw Brandon Thursday night. The only thing missing was the Totenkopf -- the Death's Head -- of the SS.

I want to say that philosophy renders a useless man perfectly useless, but it's not the only way to become pointless. According to Pieper, "Transcending the world of production occurs not only through philosophy" but music, poetry, and "the fine arts as such," not to mention religious practice.

Useful philosophers exist because they are counterfeits of the real thing:

The Sophist looks exactly like a philosopher. He speaks exactly like a philosopher. In fact, it could be said that he resembles a true philosopher much more than the philosopher resembles himself.

Ho! I like that one. I think I'll stop now, before this play turns into labor, but not before tossing in a few aphorisms that touch on how to make ourselves a bit more useless:

The book does not educate one who reads it to become educated.

A genuine reader is someone who reads for pleasure the books that everyone else only studies.

One does not convince by preaching but rather by explaining without really caring whether or not the listener is convinced.

I do not speak of God in order to convert anyone but because it is the only subject worth speaking of.