Saturday, July 08, 2023

The Truth About Man, God, and Cosmos

I'm about 100 pages into The Eric Voegelin Reader, and while many passages are highlighted, when I go back and review them in order to build a new post out of them, it occurs to me that I've already assimilated it all so thoroughly that it's almost a sort of "backward movement," so to speak. 

In other words, I've already plagiaphrased Voegelin into my own blogatory substance, so it's like a reversion from the whole back to the parts or something. If you write a paragraph it presupposes knowledge of words and letters.  

In yet other words, it's analogous to, say, building a vast global empire from the self-evident truth that All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and then going from all the vast historical developments and entailments -- the tree, so to speak -- back to the seed. 

What you I trying to say, Bob?

Well, one thing I'm trying to say is that this great distance between seed and tree is precisely what allows the left to not only forget all about the former (the seeds of liberty) and pretend that the tree grew from utterly different seeds -- say, racism, or sexism, or imperialism, etc. Only this kind of systematic "ontological amnesia" can redound to someone as stupid as a Ketanji Brown Jackson. 

A meme is worth a thousand other words:

With this in mind, let's review some of Vogelin's anticipatory plagiarism of me, and see how we got here.

We begin with the Raccoon principle that man qua man is situated in the evolving "space" between immanence and transcendence. This has not always been obvious, but it has long been noticed by historians that the discovery occurred simultaneously in diverse civilizations that had no contact with one another, in what Jaspers called the axial age (AA) between the 8th and 3rd centuries BC (

During this period of time we see the appearance of Confucius and Lao-tse in China, the Upanishads and the Buddha in India, Zoroaster in Persia, the prophets of ancient Israel, Peak Philosophy in Greece, etc. 

It cannot be sufficiently stressed that this does not represent the "invention" of some kind of ideology, but rather, the discovery of the truth of man, God, and cosmos. Indeed, Voegelin suggests that "one might almost say that before the discovery of the psyche man had no soul."

Man had a soul, of course, but prior to this literally radical (i.e., down to the ontological roots) discovery, it was more compact and undifferentiated, with a shifting and unstable conflation of immanence and transcendence. 

Not to get ahead of our skis, but postmodernity in particular is characterized by a retrograde and regressive re-conflation of these primordial categories -- hence Voegelin's gag that modernity is characterized by Gnosticism (the bad kind, as opposed to the everyday gnosis which is simply the direct perception of transcendent reality).

Note that the deeper point about the AA is not that it involves a new kind of explicit knowledge, but rather, a new kind of knower, so to speak:

one would rather have to say that the psyche itself is found as a new center in man at which he experiences himself as open toward transcendent reality. 

To be precise,  

this center is not found as if it were an object that had been present all the time and only escaped notice. The psyche as the region in which transcendence is experienced must be differentiated out of a more compact structure of the soul; it must be developed and named.

What is it that is seen, and what shall we name it? For a variety of reasons I unnamed it O, and as for those who saw it, let us call them seers, for example, the seers who composed the Upanishads. 

If Voegelin is correct then, we can consult these seers and see the same timeless truths they saw, since what they saw about man, God, and the cosmos will always be true.

Note that this "openness of the soul is experienced through the opening of the soul itself," which sounds like a tautology, but it is very much like saying that the discovery of life is experienced through living, or thought by thinking; one term is meta in relation to the other, so it's not a circle but a spiral. 

Through the opening of the soul the philosopher finds himself in a new relation to God; he not only discovers his own psyche as the instrument for experiencing transcendence but at the same time discovers the divinity in its radically nonhuman transcendence. 

Which we characterized as the O <--> (¶) dialectic way before we discovered Voegelin, because he and I are in the orbit of the sophsame attractor. This doesn't mean we are correct, because we could be delusional or ignorant or tenured.  

Just kidding. Of course are correct. We're just humble, that's all.  

The truth of man and the truth of God are inseparably one. Man will be in the truth of his existence when he has opened his psyche to the truth of God; and the truth of God will become manifest in history when it has formed the psyche of man into receptivity for the unseen measure.

This receptivity and seeing require a turning around -- a metanoia, a coonversion, a re-pentance. Voegelin's mythic archetype for this conversion is embedded in Plato's Parable of the Cave, which memorializes "the turning-around from the untruth of human existence as it prevailed in the Athenian sophistic society to the truth of the Idea."

This parable accounts for cavedwellers such as Jesse or Ketanji Brown Jackson living in the darkness of the Big Lie: "This lie is not an ordinary lie in daily life for which there may be extenuating circumstances." Rather, "it is the supreme lie of ignorance, of agnoia of the soul."

A metacosmic soul sickness, and then some. Nor is this just our "opinion," rather, it is Petey's opinion too, therefore rock-solid. 

To be continued...

Friday, July 07, 2023

Why Am I So Utterly Sane?

This is essentially a speed-post, since I slept an extra hour for some reason. Bestwecando is lay some groundwork for what will follow, I'll bet. 

Yesterday's post alluded to the literal dis-orientation that results from vertical closure. For Voegeln,

philosophy is the loving search for wisdom as an ongoing and deepening grasp of both the order of reality and the sources of disorder in human existence.... 

Moreover, this search that reveals the structures of being is from the start a loving openness to the transcendent divine reality that grounds both the quest and all that it illumines. 

We also touched on the idea that religions are too powerful to be displaced by anything short of a worse one (speaking of leftwing progressivism). 

Resistance against a satanical substance that is not only morally but religiously evil can only be derived from an equally strong, religiously good force. One cannot fight a satanical force with morality and humanity alone.

The real Resistance.

Lots here about the progressive matrix. What's remarkable is that he noticed it so long before it became obvious and undeniable: that we are "hemmed in" by "a flood of ideological language" coming from people with whom it is impossible to have a rational dialogue; we "cannot deal with the users of ideological language as partners in discussion," but instead must "make them the object of investigation."

What these utensils believe or say is never interesting, but it is interesting that anyone would believe and say such things. Of course, they can only say them within a matrix that reinforces and rewards saying such nutty things, otherwise they'd keep their delusions to themselves, at least all but the craziest ones.

Voegelin scoured history for similar examples of this kind of pathology, and found that "more than once"

language has been degraded and corrupted to such a degree that it can no longer be used for expressing the truth of existence.

What to do about it? 

In resistance to the dominance of idols -- of language symbols that have lost their contact with reality -- one has to rediscover the experiences of reality as well as the language that will adequately express them.  

One of Voegelin's keys is this recovery of the experience symbolized by the word. Once this link is severed, then we are in the linguistically pathological world of postmodernity.  

And clearly, from our perspective it is objectively pathological, because if the purpose of language isn't to forge a link between intra- and extramental reality, then what good is it? 

Good news: "there are always enclaves in the West" such as One Cosmos "in which science [not scientism!] can continue, and even flourish, in spite of the intellectual terrorism of institutions such as the mass media, university departments, foundations, and commercial publishing houses." 

Voegelin opposes the philosopher to the sophist, who "engages in misconstructions of reality for the purpose of gaining social ascendence and material profits." But there are others who do so simply because they are too stupid to know any better, i.e., just imitating the other high status primates. 


The most important means of regaining contact with reality is the recourse to thinkers of the past who had not yet lost reality, or who were engaged in the effort of regaining it.

People often ask me, "Bob why are you so utterly sane? So in touch with reality?" In all humility, I can only say I read my back way in, thanks to a choir of quasi-angelic intelligences who left their landmarks for the restavus to follow, Voegelin being one of them.

But it can take time, especially of you start off without a guide and just read randomly. My son, for example, knows things I didn't figure out until my 40s and 50s. Conversely, I knew a lot of things at 17 that he doesn't know, but it turns out these things are not worth knowing, and also leave their marks, even if they were construed as innocuous at the time. Everyone is haunted by such idiocies.

Recapturing reality in opposition to its contemporary deformation requires a considerable amount of work. One has to reconstruct the fundamental categories of existence, experience, consciousness, and reality. One has at the same time to explore the technique and structure of the deformations that clutter up the daily routine; and one has to develop the concepts by which existential deformation and its symbolic expression can be categorized.

Whew! Hard work, but also fun. Frankly, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do with my timelessness.

Thursday, July 06, 2023


I keep changing the title, but Cosmopathology will have to do...

Even in summary form I still don't understand half of what Voegelin is trying to say, but the other half has me wondering about whether, just as there are medical and psychiatric conditions, can there can be anthropological, political, and even cosmic pathologies? A DSM of metapolitics? 

In a certain sense we can all agree that, say, the political system of the Soviet Union was intrinsically pathological compared to the U.S. But can we dig down to the level of principles and establish an objectively comprehensible diagnostic system? Who knows, but we can have some fun trying.

The political system of the USSR, like ours (used to be, anyway), was indeed rooted in immutable principles, although it was a mutable immutability based upon the needs of the state at any given moment. 

The order of the Soviet state was "in harmony with the truth of history" (of dialectical materialism) and its explicit purpose was "the establishment of the realm of freedom and peace." Opponents who ran 

counter to the truth of history [would] be defeated in the end; nobody [could] be at war with the Soviet Union legitimately but must be a representative of untruth in history, or, in contemporary language, an aggressor; and the victims are not conquered but liberated from their oppressors and therewith from the untruth of their existence.

Get your white ass on the right side of history, bigot! 

Yes, that creepy feeling you get on exposure to the news (i.e., the journalistic agents of the narratrix) is the feeling that we are beyond the point of something merely "analogous" happening in our own culture; rather, it is the very same underlying pathology, only with some novel expressions such as the hysterical transgender social contagion (hysteria by its nature taking many forms, a subject to which Bailie devotes a couple of chapters).

I'll begin with the editor's introduction and review what got me to thinking along these lines. You may have to link some of the passages and fill in some of the blanks, but Raccoons will not find it difficult to intuit what Bob is thinking.

On what basis should we order our lives and society?

Good question, and in many ways the first question.

Like Hayek, Voegelin recognized the underlying commonality of so called right- and leftwing expressions of the same underlying cosmic pathology, and tried to "understand the rising influence of ideological fanaticisms," and how "they involve substituting world-immanent objects, such as the race or nation, for divine reality." 

Thus, in grasping the underlying principles, one can "equally diagnose the 'disease' of contemporary totalitarian movements."

Voegelin has been gone since 1985, but sometimes it takes a dead man to know the bobvious: Silvio, I gotta go / Find out something only dead men know (Dylan).

What else does Voegelin know? Oh, for example, that human consciousness is "a meeting place or interpenetration of time and timelessness, of the world and the divine 'beyond.'" Which now reminds me of Mose Allison: Meet me at no special place / And I'll be there at no particular time. 

Postmodernity in a notshall. Conversely, Voegelin "identifies a dimension of reality beyond the rhythmic play of forces in the spatiotemporal universe," which is "both the invisible 'ground' of finite reality and the invisibly 'inward' essence of human beings":

Through this discovery the whole of reality -- the cosmos -- 'differentiates' into a finite world and a divine Beyond, while human consciousness stratifies into worldly and transcendent dimensions.

"Modern political thought" is "distorted by unrealistic and misleading portrayals of the human condition." In other words, diseased. Dis-ordered. De-formed. Rachel Levine, and then some, for he is only a symptom of something even more disturbing,

based on a denial of transcendence of the "ground" of reality, and on the conviction that immanent reality alone is real -- and perfectible.

In short, immanence <---> transcendence constitute an irreducible and complementary duo,

the two notions having entered human thought only as paired symbols in the context of experiences wherein the one cosmos is differentiated into finite things and the non-finite origin or ground of those things. Modern dreams of worldly perfectibility, therefore... are based on a category error.

A BIG error, some say the BIGGEST error, because "it reflects, and sustains, 'existential closure' to the transcendent ground, a closure that pervades... much of modern thought and social life."

Raccoons call this big error vertical closure, and it encompasses "modern political movements such as progressive liberalism, Marxism, Communism and National Socialism," each exemplifying "to a greater or lesser degree, a 'secular' gnostic attitude" promising "the transfiguration of this world..." 

So, postmodernity is modernity saying can I buy some steroids from you? It results in an "eclipse of transcendent meaning," and with it, "personal and political disorientation on an unprecedented scale."

Going back to that creepy feeling you get on exposure to these sick volkers. Put it this way: "nothing can expel a religion except another religion" (Bailie), or, to put it another way, religions are too powerful to be displaced by anything short of another one. And in this new political religion, we are the devils. 

I'm going to pause now and pick up the thread tomorrow... 

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

What Comes After Dunning-Kruger?

Ketanji Brown Jackson. See post for details. 

I'm feeling a little lazier than usual this morning, so I'm going to quote some quoteworthy passages from The Apocalypse of the Sovereign Self, and we'll see if they arouse me from my torpor.

When G.K. Chesterton was asked what was wrong with the Church, he replied: "I am." When Rousseau asked what was wrong with the world, he declared: civilization. The obvious moral conclusion to which this view of things leads is that the challenge facing humanity is not that of renouncing sin but that of changing the social order. Thus modernity.

The old systems so perfect no one will have to be good

We've written before of how the left's business model revolves around politicizing psychological, existential and even ontological problems for power & profit. But this isn't easy in a Christianized culture, so it must never stop undermining religion while commandeering the educational establishment, such that people come out of it stupider than when they went in.

Like me, for example. If someone were to ask me what's wrong with higher education, I could well reply: "Bob." 

The State imposes obligatory and free instruction, for making a stupid man still stupider at the public expense. 

I resemble that remark! Just last night I was telling the boy that when I came out of college I knew less than nothing, being that so much of what I knew wasn't just wrong but truly topside-down and insight-out. On the other hand, I was confident in my ignorance, so there's that: Mssrs. Dunning-Kruger meet Dr. Gagdad.

Modern education delivers intact minds to propaganda. 

I don't know how intact my mind was, but the point is well taken. I was a bit of a... of an infrahuman animal, or at least a pliable blob of instinct macerated and drifting in the general cultural rot.

Man is an animal that can be educated, provided that he does not fall into the hands of progressive pedagogues. 

That's a bingo.

We've also written of how the victim culture of the left is the transparent appropriation of a vulgarized and enfabled Christianity, which is why it only works in a post-Christian culture, i.e., one that was once Christian but is still rolling down the tracks of history from sheer momentum, since any connection to the engine of the divine victim has been severed.

Bailie identifies Rousseau as patient zero in this civilizational disease and deformation, for 

His innocence depended on his claim to be a victim. In retrospect we can now see that Rousseau deserves the dubious distinction of being the person who discovered and popularized a piece of moral prestidigitation that now goes by the name of victimary thinking, a curiosity that floods a moral environment shaped by Christianity with so many claims to the solicitude that Christianity accords to victims that the moral system, overloaded with such claims, collapses in empathy fatigue and is easily overrun with Rousseau epigones elbowing one another for their moment in the sun -- or, perhaps better, their moment as the Son.

I don't know if we want to go so far as to label Rousseau sane, but another writer suggests that "his persecution saved his sanity," which is a psychologically astute remark, since there are millions of people whose tenuous claim to sanity depends not only upon having someone to hate, but equally important, to be hated in return. 

It's why they never stop projecting such outrageous ideas and impulses into our heads, from racism to sexism to transphobia and all the others. Imagine unhappiting such an incontinent psychic worldspace of paranoid delusion!

Social problems are the delightful refuge of those fleeing from their own problems.

Thus, the leftist has the privilege of participating in her own subjugation.

We'll have more to say about this subject in coming days, since our current book is The Voegelin Reader. It's somewhat surprising that he appears nowhere in the A. of the S., since I see many connections. Then again, I see connections between anything and everything, so that's not dispositive.

Back to the greasy pols of victimhood: think of how the entire argument of the left vis-a-vis state mandated racial discrimination hinges upon this. Nowhere was the debate more heated than over the heretical idea that Asians could be victimized by Africans, when the university is far from the only place where such hate crimes occur. And now they accuse Asians of being hateful allies of us white supremacists, so, welcome to the clubbed.

Imagine being as stupid as Ketanji Brown Jackson. She is truly the poster child for the sick systematic racism she defends. I suggest we rename Dunning-Kruger KBJ Syndrome. Or maybe Joy Reid Syndrome. Can you believe she only got into Harvard because of her race?  I shan't believe it!

Pity the egalitarian. What a misfortune to ignore that there are ranks and ranks above our mediocrity.

The left's radicalization of "the concern for victims in an anti-Christian manner" has led to... whatever the Current Thing:

The current process of spiritual demagoguery and rhetorical overkill has transformed the concern for victims into a totalitarian command and a permanent inquisition (Bailie).  

I see Voegelin raising his hand in the back, but he'll have to be patient. Yes, Nicolás?

Socialism is the philosophy of the guilt of others.

The left is made up of individuals who are dissatisfied with what they have and satisfied with who they are.

If the leftist is not persecuting he feels persecuted.

"Social justice" is the term for claiming anything to which we do not have a right.

The left claims that the guilty party in a conflict is not the one who covets another's goods but the one who defends his own.

When one does not concede to the leftist all that he demands, he proclaims himself the victim of an institutional violence that is licit to repel with physical violence.

Blogger's pet!

Pipe down, Eric. I said we'll get to you, and we will. It doesn't help that it takes you a whole book to say what Nicolás does in a sentence. If only someone could distill those 34 volumes into a convenient 400 page anthology... (

Monday, July 03, 2023

You're Under Arrest

As I believe I said, The Apocalypse of the Self is too rich for me to blog about in any linear or organized manner, since pretty much every paragraph sends the sparks a-flyin' every whichaway. 

Collision with an intelligent book makes us see a thousand stars.

Or sparks. I was about to say I wish all books were like this, but no, I'm relieved that this is not the case, because if the world were made of cheesecake, we could never even begin to digest it all.   

I'm almost at the end, but I'll have to reread it at least once to wrap my melon around it (or it around my melon -- it's one or the other). 

One can only reread what suggests more than what it expresses.

Suggestive and evocative are what it is. And I suppose it will evoke different things in different people, just like a person will do that to us. 

Reading is the unsurpassed drug because it allows us not only to escape the mediocrity of our lives but even more so the mediocrity of our souls.

That's true. But hold on just a second -- who you callin' mediocre?!

Our opinion of a great book is the verdict with which the book judges us.

That's more like it: I'll settle for "not great" over mediocre. A Raccoon may be a Subgenius but he is also a supra-mediocretin. We're not just some postmodern NPC lo-fo utensil. 

What else have we learned, besides my subgreatness?

Serious books do not instruct, but interrogate. 

Waitwut? You're telling me I can't write a post about what I learned from the book, but what the book learned about me?  

The Person of Christ is the chief interrogator.

Who asked you?

And you are under arrest. 

Oh? For what crime? 

You know better than to ask such a stupid question.  

Existence is not a crime.

Oh? That's one way of putting it. Another way is to say that "existence means not to be God and so to be in a certain respect ineluctably in opposition to Him" (Schuon).  

You know, some people even say that of all sins, that of existence is the greatest, since it implies separation from God, the principle of truth, love, and beauty. 

Thank you, Petey. You can tell them for me that they are asses.

To sin is to "miss the mark." And the point, as have just demonstrated.

Men are divided into two camps: those who believe in original sin and those who are idiots.

The radical error -- the deification of man -- does not have its origin in history. Fallen man is the permanent possibility of committing the error.

You can deny what Nicolas just said, but this 

relegates the sinner to a silent, gray universe, in which he drifts on the surface of the water, an inert castaway, toward inexorable insignificance. 
Well, since you put it that way-- 

We can never count on a man who does not look upon himself with the gaze of an entomologist.

Okay, okay, I get it. So, Gagdad awoke one morning from uneasy dreams and found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. Is that what you want me to say? Can we end the interrogation?

No, we're going to have to hold you for further questioning. This is not the DOJ, and you're not Hunter.

The hunted is more like it. Or haunted

Oh, so you're the victimized utensil after all.  

Go away and let me finish this post.

It is finished.

What's that supposed to--

Man does not find salvation in a reflective finding of himself but in the being-taken-out-of-himself that goes beyond reflection -- not in continuing to be himself, but in going out from himself. It means that the liberation of man consists in his being freed from himself and, in relinquishing himself, truly finding himself.... Man finds his center of gravity, not inside, but outside himself (Ratzinger, in Bailie).

Agreed. Can I go now?

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