Thursday, October 08, 2015

If God Doesn't Exist, Only He Knows It

Now, this is a refreshing blast from academia:

"In this paper, I take the position that a large portion of contemporary academic work is an appalling waste of human intelligence that cannot be justified under any mainstream normative ethics."

No. Really?

Our intelligentsia is like a huge drag on reality: think how rapidly we would progress without their dead weight.

True, the author's thesis is self-evident, but as Justice Holmes said, "It seems to me that at this time we need education in the obvious more than exploration of the obscure." That was then. In our time the situation is only worse. Think of it: intellectuals were already losing their grip on reality when he made that comment over a hundred years ago.

And when I say "intellectuals," I don't mean physicians, engineers, mathematicians, businessmen, etc., who all deal with a reality outside their own heads.

In contrast, intellectuals deal with ideas, and ever since Descartes came up with the idea that ideas about existence precede existence, intellectuals have been under the temptation to invert the cosmos and live in the comfort and safety of their own delusions. It is why they can have such difficulty learning, since they refuse to submit to, and be corrected by, that annoying other, the Real.

Obama is our first president totally devoted to this assbackwards metaphysic. It explains everything that has gone hideously sideways over the past 6.5 years, e.g., the economy, crime, foreign relations, the federal debt, healthcare, race relations, etc.

This is one of the things that divides left and right: the great majority of intellectuals are on the left, if only because of their dominance of (soft) academia. (Remember, "intellectual" is a neutral term, not a term of endearment; whether it is good or bad depends on the quality of the ideas. After all, even Paul Krugman and Noam Chomsky are intellectuals.)

While looking up that quote I found another relevant one: "The great act of faith is when man decides that he is not God."

Not that Holmes had all his intellectual ducks in a row. Far from it; he seems to be a good example of a brilliant man without the true center of God. And without that nonlocal attractor, thought can deviate all over the place. He was definitely suspicious of the Absolute, apparently failing to see that it is the necessary condition for any talk whatsoever of truth. Any truth is always an echo of God.

Thus, for example, he said that certitude is "generally an illusion" and (certainly?) "not the test of certainty." True, but that doesn't mean there is no valid certainty.

But then he comes close to the Truth when he says that through an understanding of "general aspects of the law" you may "connect your subject with the universe and catch an echo of the infinite, a glimpse of its unfathomable process, a hint of universal law." In other words, a deep insight into terrestrial law can provide a glimpse of the Celestial Law of which it is a penumbra. Oddly, he was not a believer in natural law, and yet, he covertly acknowledges it.

The Celestial Law? That is impossible to unambiguously express in human terms, but it is the perfect complementarity of divine Justice and Mercy.

It looks to me like Holmes was blundermind by his own brilliance. We've talked about this idea before -- that given a certain level of intelligence, there is no proposition you can't disprove to your own (dis)satisfaction, beginning with the existence of God. Thus, the good news: "the chief end of man is to frame general propositions." The bad news: "no general proposition is worth a damn." In the end, "we aim at the infinite and when our arrow falls to earth it is in flames."

That's the conclusion of a lifetime of reflection. This is a brilliant man, mind you. But it shows you what human brilliance can purchase with its own powers: it isn't worth a damn.

And that is a fact: without God, man isn't even worth a damn. How could he be? Unless we are related to the Absolute Value, then we are absolutely worthless. Holmes said so himself, that... can't find the exact quote, but something to the effect that it scarcely matters if the whole shithouse goes up in flames.

The real problem is that Holmes failed to follow through on his first heroic insight. Toward the end of his long life he wrote in a letter, "Young man, the secret of my success is that at an early age I discovered I was not God."

BingO! That is is a rock-bottom certitude, but you need to follow it all the way up. You don't petulantly conclude that "I am not God, therefore he doesn't exist," because this literally equates to "There is no God and I am He." In other words, you are stealing some of God's thundermind -- certitude -- in order to deny his enlightning -- truth.

There is a difference between thinking and truth. The purpose of thinking -- I know, who would have guessed? -- is to arrive at truth. Once you have seen the truth, then you can stop; or at least your thinking establishes a different vector: instead of going "forward" it drills down (or up).

Don Colacho has a number of relevant aphorisms, for example, The only pretension I have is that of not having written a linear book, but a concentric book.

In other words, he's always communicating from the top down or inside out. He is definitely not "searching" for truth; it is like the person who has found his beloved. Loving that person is not the same as searching for him or her, although one obviously doesn't possess the person. There is still a deepening of the relation.

In a related aphorism, he writes that Nothing is more superficial than intelligences that comprehend everything. This applies to the vulgar atheist, but to the left more generally, due to their blind respect for "intellectuals." But Man believes he is lost among facts, when he is only caught in a web of his own definitions. And boy, are liberals caught. Like this clown.

The atheist devotes himself less to proving that God does not exist than forbidding him to exist. The atheist -- and Holmes was an atheist -- is certain that God doesn't exist, but he promptly forgets about the source of certainty.

But as the Don says, man has two poles, and we needn't respect that muddled in between zone of "an animal with opinions" -- Darwinism, for example, which is the sine qua non of an animal with opinions. Granted, it is one step above gross materialism, which is a loudmouthed rock. But enough about Joe Biden.

One more aphorism: We believe in many things in which we do not believe we believe. Divine certitude, for example.

In Part I(B), I assess various theories of "the role of the intellectual," concluding that the only role for the intellectual is for the intellectual to cease to exist. In Part I(C), I assess the contemporary state of the academy, showing that, contrary to the theory advanced in Part I(B), many intellectuals insist on continuing to exist. In Part I(D), I propose a new path forward, whereby present-day intellectuals take on a useful social function by spreading truths that help to alleviate the crisis of suffering outlined in Part I(A).

I don't know what he concludes in Part I(D), but a good start would be for these useless intellectuals to learn from reality instead of projecting their visions onto it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

All Wet this Morning

Then God said, 'Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear'...

It seems that in the metaphysics of Genesis there are four quadrants, or realms, as it were: there is first the division of the upper (above the firmament) from the lower waters (below the firmament); only then are the lower waters gathered together such that the dry land appears. Since God calls the firmament Heaven, we have, in descending order: upper waters, heaven, lower waters (the seas), and dry land.

What could waters "above" heaven refer to? At first, before their division into upper and lower, God is hovering over them; they are dark and they are formless.

The creation of light goes to the first condition (darkness), the division into upper and lower to the second (formlessness). With light we have the possibility of vision ("the light of the body is the eye"), and with di-vision intelligibility (in other words, formlessness is the essence of unintelligibility).

The lower three worlds are spiritual, psychic, and material; or soul, mind and body; or nous, psyche and soma, respectively. What is the first, the "above heaven?" That must be the great beyond-being, i.e., the apophatic God we've heard so little about.

Now, we're just winging it here, but I see that Benoist identifies these three with verbum, lux, and vita, which, if my Latin is correct, are Word, Light, and Life.

Benoist goes on to say that the soul mediates between spirit and body; it is "the mediator between the higher and lower states of our being."

These three also sponsor three distinct forms of knowing, which are (starting with the lower), empirical-sensory, rational-imaginative, and noetic-intellection. The first two are relative, while the third approaches the absolute in an asymptotic way, i.e., always on the way without ever arriving.

Symbols -- such as the symbol of water -- act "as a bridge between the corporeal and the mental," giving us access to realities that are intelligible but immaterial: with them, it is as if we can have empirical knowledge of spiritual realities. Or just say the word can become enfleshed or the light in-formed.

One reason why these primordial symbols work is that nature is a reflection of heaven, rather than vice versa. In other words, oceans and light really do tell us something about the divine reality, since they are its reflections herebelow. Looked at this way, man is privileged to be the most adequate reflection of the divine person -- at least in potential.

In his Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism, Schuon breaks it all down for us in non-mythopoetic language. In my view, the creation story of Genesis is a symbolic expression of these same truths. Thus, In the beginning,

"[I]t is necessary to start from the idea that the Supreme Reality is absolute, and that being absolute it is infinite."

Or in other words, in the beginning is God, the Absolute-Infinite. He is All Possibility, such that with God we can literally say that "all things are possible." In other words, for anything to undergo the formality of existing it must first be possible for it to exist: a thing's principle is prior to its actuality.

What is the Principle of God? I would say creativity, which entails a love of communicating it. Think of a genuine artist: why does he create? It must be for the pure joy of communicating d'light. As it pertains to God,

"[I]t is in the nature of the Good to wish to communicate itself: to say Good is to say radiation, projection, unfolding, gift of self." There is Principle and manifestation, or God and world, absolute and relative, heaven and earth, image and reflection, etc.

Now, consistent with what was said above about the upper and lower waters, "the celestial order includes... two 'degrees' of the Principle itself," which I identify as the apophatic and cataphatic God; the first is the "God beyond God," i.e., the Eckhartian God of whom Nothing can be said.

How to understand this important orthoparadox? I see it as analogous to man's own situation, in which our consciousness floats on an infinitely more vast ocean of trans- or supra-consciousness. You might say we are two-thirds water.

In reality, the two (solid ego and watery ground) are one, such that what we call the self is the residue of a process of the infinite-implicate order congealing into a local-explicate order -- the way in which the ocean throws its waves upon the shore, or the nonlocal sea of quantum energy tosses local particles out of its womb. It is actually a circular motion, such that

"In my flowing-out I entered creation" and "in my Breakthrough I re-enter God.... Just as God breaks through me, so do I break through God in return." And God is this "great underground river that no one can dam up and no one can stop" (Eckhart).

Monday, October 05, 2015

On the Third Day

We've been discussing the Ten Commandments of the left. Unlike the left, we don't like to reduce opposing ideas and opinions to motivations -- whether conscious or unconscious -- that would be denied by the person who holds them.

But just this morning I was thinking about some of the idiotic things I used to believe when I was a liberal, and wondering why I thought them. It couldn't have been because they were rational or factual. So, why did I believe them? What was the driving -- or organizing -- force?

Note that "driving" and "organizing" imply different vectors, the former a material or efficient cause, the latter a formal or final one. For example, a homosexual activist who is in denial of his own heterosexual trauma and conflict is in the "driven" category. Likewise the feminist who hates her femininity or the black liberal who denies feeling inferior about himself and blames white people.

What would be examples of formal or final organization? Here I think Sowell's "vision of the anointed" applies, because a vision is a top-down, future-to-present phenomenon. But visions can be functional -- say, the Empire of Liberty of the founders -- or dysfunctional -- e.g., Marxists, Islamists, MSNBseers, Obamyopics, and others along the blindness spectrum.

Importantly, either one can involve violence. For example, we violently imposed liberty on Japan and Germany, and that worked out pretty well. We also succeeded in Iraq, at least until Obama's superior vision got in the way.

Note how in the space of a year or so, Iraq turned from one of the "great success stories of the Obama administration" to a great failure of the Bush administration. It's hard to believe that this isn't a conscious and cynical manipulation on the part of Obama, but never doubt the power of visions. I see no evidence that Obama's vision is being altered one iota by all of the feedback telling him that the great global play date isn't going so well with no adults around.

"The first thing a man will do for his ideal is" -- get this -- "lie" (Schumpeter, in Sowell). But you -- by which I mean you, the Raccoon -- are not permitted to lie, not to others, and most especially to yourself. Therefore, you are under much more serious constraints than is the leftist, whose vision does not include the eighth or any other commandment, really, because if you are permitted to lie, then all commandments are negotiable or even meaningless, right?

Put conversely, if your first commandment is that there is no objective truth, then all things are permitted because there are no commandments.

This is not to say that a Raccoon never lies to himself, only that he doesn't boast about it, much less elevate it to a metaphysic. For it is written -- on p. 242 -- that man is a habitual liar who uses the left brain "to superficially 'patch up' discontinuities in being." As a result, "language is quick to explain way" the psychic holes and tears in our cosmic area rug, "creating factitious wholes and spinning a false continuity."

For just as in the quantum world, the psyche has continuous (right brain) and discontinuous (left brain) aspects. Psycho-pneumatic growth is the result of a harmonious relationship between the two. Our narrative is always being destabilized, but our task is to unify it at a higher level via psychic metabolism.

Think of how our Cosmic Mentor accomplished this in a quintessential manner. To all outward appearances his narrative was torn asunder that Friday. If he were honest with himself, any witness that day or the next would have had to say to himself: well, that didn't work out so well.

But on the Third Day, Jesus weaves the broken narrative into a higher unity, to put it mildly. Thus, the same honest witness who said that didn't work out so well now says, wo, didn't see that coming. He didn't see it coming because that was not his vision. His vision was shattered, and he was honest enough to recognize it, so when the new vision came along, he was able to see it.

But what if he were like Obama? First of all, Obama would have shared the vision of the Romans -- AKA the sufficiency of worldly power -- so the Crucifixion would have been the end of it: problem solved. No doubt he would have been awarded a Peace Prize for eliminating the menace. He certainly couldn't have foreseen the dissolution of the Roman Empire four centuries later, while the other little vision prevailed.

In any event, -- returning briefly to the Coonifesto -- "One cannot overestimate the importance of constructing a true autobiography, in which we are unified and balanced, not just in psychic space but in developmental time." For example, to the extent that the unconscious past is not remembered and integrated, "we will be haunted, rebuked, vexed, thwarted, and enticed by its its split off, subterranean promptings."

This is precisely how those Marxist dreams from Obama's worthless father have become the many nightmares for us, Obama's worthless subjects. If Obama could only have insight into his past, it would save us from his acting it out on the world stage -- call it a World Historical defense mechanism. Nor would he be the first megalomaniac to act out his petty conflicts on such a grand stage.

"We all begin the spiritual path with an abundance of alibis, self-flattery, justification, psychic holes and envelopes, temporal discontinuities, and spatial disconnections. In order to become one with reality we must first become one with ourselves," said a prior Bob.

But just to show you how a fellow can grow and adjust his own vision, I would now express it a little differently, and say that the person must become three with himselves.

Then God said, 'Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear'...

And if that reference is too obscure, here's a little hint: land is discontinuous while water is continuous. And the world is two thirds water...

Friday, October 02, 2015

A Real God Can Handle the Truth, or There are No Speech Codes in Heaven

Liberals like to use the phrase "the wrong side of history." It makes no sense, not even in a Marxist context, because for a strict Marxist the dialectic of history is going to produce what it does, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

Since that theory is not even wrong, later Marxists came up with the idea of the vanguard of the proletariat to help nudge history -- okay, to violently force it -- over to the right side of itself.

Nor is that theory even wrong, because it really comes down to a rationalization of the same diabolical combination of desire + force that has always haunted history.

So when contemporary progressives make their crass appeals to the right side of history, we know they're making an even crasser appeal to the naked violence which will come your way if you are on the wrong side of the state -- the state embodying the mystical Will of the People.

To put it another way, the state always does what you would do if you were intelligent and virtuous enough to be on the right side of history.

Now obviously there can be no right or wrong side of history. Rather, right and wrong apply only to 1) truth, and 2) by extension, virtue.

In other words, truth is what we ought to think, while virtue is what we ought to do. Of the two, the first is primary, because we won't know what to do unless we know what to think: human action is a prolongation of thought (whereas animal action is simply a prolongation of instinct).

Note that this is always the case, even for, say, as thoughtless a person as Obama. His actions naturally follow his thoughts, except that his thoughts are alternatively vapid, naive, sinister, self-aggrandizing, or all of the above. They are childish in a bad way.

Obama's demand that we get on board the right side of history is a reflection of the primitive defense mechanism of infantile omnipotence, in which reality becomes an extension of the mind instead of vice versa:

"the child lives in a sort of megalomania for a long period... the 'fiction of omnipotence.' At birth 'the baby is everything as far as he knows -- all powerful'... every step he takes towards establishing his own limits and boundaries will be painful because he'll have to lose this original godlike feeling of omnipotence."

In a neurotic person, the defense mechanism of omnipotence is "a relic of the old megalomania of infancy." But in a narcissistic personality disorder -- which is more pathological than a mere neurosis -- the infantile omnipotence will become the go-to defense mechanism, i.e., pervasive instead of merely episodic.

That's not as clear as it could be. What it means is that we all have an unconscious reservoir of infantile omnipotence. However, importantly, this is not intrinsically pathological. Rather, it only becomes pathological to the extent that the person experiences a developmental fixation at, or regression to, that stage, such that it isn't harmoniously integrated with the rest of the personality.

For example, without that reservoir of omnipotence, it would be impossible to conceive of or intuit God. Think of it as a right-brain phenomenon in which we are in touch with the boundless God-beyond-God. Now, imagine suffering trauma, neglect, or abuse at that stage, such that the self becomes identified with this Boundless All.

Yes, imagine:

I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above -- above the world, he’s sort of God. --Evan Thomas.

Note that in Thomas' case, he -- like millions of other Americans -- projected his own infantile omnipotence into Obama. Thomas still unconsciously believes in omnipotence, but simply locates it in another. And he imagines the rest of us are as immature as he is:

"The question now is whether the President we elected and [who] spoke for us so grandly [read: omnipotently] yesterday can carry out the great vision he gave [to] us and to the world." Gave, literally like parent to child:

"He's all about 'let us reason together'... He's the teacher. He is going to say, ‘now, children, stop fighting and quarreling with each other.’ And he has a kind of a moral authority that he -- he can -- he can do that."

I know what you're thinking, because I'm thinking the same thing: I just threw up in my mouth a little.

To get a sense of the madness of this, imagine Putin, or the Mullahs, or ISIS, thinking to themselves: this man has such a grand vision, such godlike moral authority, such magnificent wisdom, that we must stop quarreling with the infidels -- who knows, perhaps even stop murdering them for the sake of our own omnipotent vision. Obama's omnipotence is better than ours!

The wiki article alludes to the healthy and normal aspect of omnipotence with that comment at the end about Winnicott. Now, there was a great man with a grand vision. He was perhaps the most playfully orthoparadoxical of developmental theorists, but that's the subject for a different post.

Let's just say that because the baby can't help thinking he's All That, you've got to let him down easy. Let him realize it in doses, rather than having the realization come crashing down on him all at once. This is what he means by "good enough mothering," which is contrasted not only with bad mothering, but (hypothetically) perfect mothering.

Put colloquially, the latter involves spoiling the child to such an extent that his omnipotence is retained. In short, there is insufficient reality testing to show the child that he isn't in fact Obama.

Note that the parenting style of the left promotes the retention of omnipotence in a thousand ways: the self-esteem movement, choosing one's own gender, everyone gets a trophy, all cultures are equally beautiful, speech codes, trigger warnings, etc. Each of these serves to keep the child a child.

Note that the child retains his omnipotence, but that it takes on a brittle quality. If you could consciously express what is going on in the mind of a typical liberal college student, it would be something like this: I know everything, and you'd better not tell me I don't, or I'll report you to the dean!

In other words, the liberal college student is on the right side of history, or else! But truth doesn't need to resort to brittle threats of violence.

The problem with omnipotence is that it is not subject to what is called reality testing; or in other words, it isn't falsifiable. Therefore it is a prescientific worldview, except it isn't a WORLDview but a worldVIEW -- the emphasis is on the viewing, not the world, the subject, not the object.

I recently read the new edition of Sowell's Intellectuals and Society, and although he uses different language, he describes the identical phenomenon (in his terms, infantile omnipotence = "the vision of the anointed").

Likewise, in Ever Wonder Why? he writes of how so many foolish policies are a result of "trying to make the real world match the picture inside someone's head." There is simply no way to accomplish this without cracking more than a few heads.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Idolatry, Ingratitude, Pride, and Other Left Wing Virtues

As usual, the next book, even though usually plucked at random, provides a preternatural commentary on the previous one -- in this case, Sowell's Ever Wonder Why?, a compendium of his editorials. I began reading it yesterday, and it was as if it were aware of the post that preceded it that morning.

The post, if you will recall, was about the Ten Commandments of the left, which are -- and this was just off the top of my head, so it may need some tweaking -- Relativism, Idolatry, Ingratitude, Theft, Vanity (or Pride), Patricide, Lies, Adultery, Murder, and anti-Slack (which will require some explanation, but it has to do with the opposite of sabbath-think; it is why leftists can never stop their dreadful activism, why they can only do and never be, and most problematically, why they can't stop doing it to us, the persecuted minority of Cosmic Slacktivists).

The first section of the book is called Culture Wars, and consists of twenty essays, nearly every one going to what is for the left a commandment, and for us a sin.


Well, the book begins with a quote by Eliot to the effect that half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. Bam! Pride. But why pride? Pride must be a reaction to some counter-trend in the soul, AKA shame or low self-esteem or emptiness or separation from God.

The Poet continues: "They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves (emphasis mine).

Next to that passage I put a little note to myself, "bho." That is my customary shorthand for Barack Hussein. There will be many more as we proceed.

In the preface, Sowell, with characteristic understatement, talks about one of the most important distinctions between left and right, having to do with one's locus of control. For the left, the locus of control -- at least for authorized victim groups -- is always outside the self, i.e., "various external circumstances" that compel them "to do this or that."

Note that this never applies to non-victims, white males being the uncaused cause of all victimization and therefore the only people with free will. No liberal has ever searched for the root causes of, say, "corporate greed." No, in that case, it's just greed, pure and simple.

Thus, "one of the most overlooked explanations is that various internal drives" motivate victims to do what they do. This is why the left won't acknowledge the simple fact that blacks have more encounters with the police because they engage in a disproportionate amount of criminal activity.

For the same reason, Asian Americans have fewer encounters with the police. Are the police racist against whites in favor of Asians? The question is absurd. As absurd as the left, precisely. Imagine going through life imaging that Asians hate and control you just because you're Caucasian.

One commenter yesterday suggested that Pride is the Master Commandment, the one that conditions the rest. Sowell provides support for this view:

"The desire of individuals and groups to puff themselves up by imposing their vision on other people is a recurring theme in the culture wars.... Such attempts at self-aggrandizement in the name of noble-sounding crusades are too often called 'idealism' rather than the narrow ego trip it is."

You guessed it: bho.

As we have discussed in many posts, without envy and ingratitude the left would be out of business. The very first essay touches on this, in that "Nothing is easier than to take for granted what we are used to, and to imagine that it is more or less natural, so that it requires no explanation."

But America is the great exception, as reflected in our prosperity, our freedom, and our ideals. Other crappy nations and cultures require no explanation, because they are what always happens. Syria? Iran? Cuba? That's just humans doing what they do. It's the default position.

Likewise, the left always imagines that poverty is the condition that requires explanation, when it is the universal. They think that wealth somehow just happens, and that it is simply a matter of divvying it up. They have no earthly idea that doing so destroys the very incentives that made the wealth possible.

Sowell shows again and again how the Sacred Vision of the left trumps reality. But "a casual glance around the world today, or back through history, would dispel any notion that good things just happen naturally, much less inevitably."

Therefore, "Once we realize that America is an exception, we might even have a sense of *gratitude* for having been born here.... At the very least, we might develop some concern for seeing that whatever has made this country better off is not lost or discarded -- or eroded away, bit by bit, until it is gone."

Not if you're bho. He's better than America!

Indeed -- and this was written BC, before the Great Change we are living through -- "To be for generic 'change' is to say that what we have is so bad that any change is likely to be for the better" (emphasis mine). Think about that one, for that is bho's implicit assumption.

In reality, change is inevitable, but in a healthy organism, we change in order to continue living. The only complete change is the radical discontinuity of Death. When an organism dies, you know that the Revolution succeeded.

The fact that something exists proves that it was at least possible in reality. But the idealists of the left imagine that just because something is possible in the imagination, it can exist. This is why they cannot learn from reality (as in the case of the unteachable bho.)

Left wing revisionists spend so much time denouncing the Crusades that you'd think they were against crusades as a matter of principle. Wrong. "Many crusades of the political left have been misunderstood by people who do not realize that these crusades are about establishing the identity and the superiority of the crusaders."

Thus, we're touching on something even deeper than pride, i.e., identity. Now man, in the absence of God, is precisely nothing. At least existentialists have thought this through and realize that this must be the case.

But leftists don't think anything through, much less something this deep and fundamental. As a result, they engage in the existential defense mechanism of idolatry, i.e., substituting something relative for the Absolute and then worshiping it. The cult of global warming is just the most recent example.

This is why it is naive to ask a warmist to give up his idol, because his entire existence is structured around it. You are taking away his meaning, his identity, and his moral superiority.

It's the same with bho vis-a-vis Iran. You can't ask him to see that he's dealing with untrustworthy genocidal monsters, because that would detract from his morally superior idealism. Forget your lying eyes. The reason why peace is breaking out all over the world is because of the Change brought about by bho. Besides, he's got that Peace Prize to prove it.

True, the left "loves" peace. But they deeply resent any good, including peace, that isn't achieved through their methods. Thus, they love Obama-style "peace," just as they hated the real thing brought about by Reagan.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Left in Ten Words

As mentioned yesterday, while The Devil's Pleasure Palace tries to dig down to the diabolical foundation of the left, it does so in an unnecessarily muddled and desultory way. Just not my style. Rather than hovering around a subject from the outside in and pouring language over it, I prefer to go straight for the throat and then chuck rocks from the inside out.

Or as Don Colacho, the pinnacle of pith, says, Phrases are pebbles the writer tosses into the reader's soul. The rest is on you, because The diameter of the concentric waves they displace depends on the dimensions of the soul. From my end the rocks may feel like boulders, but for those of you with especially capacious souls, I suppose they may feel like a spray of pea gravel.

In any event, Prolixity is not an excess of words but a dearth of ideas. Note, for example, the enviable economy of the left, in that A vocabulary of ten words is enough for a Marxist to explain history. That being the case, it shouldn't take more than ten words for us to explain the ideas -- or even Idea -- of the left.

These ten words are: relativism, idolatry, ingratitude, theft, vanity, patricide, lies, adultery, murder, and anti-slack. Each is related to the others, but is there a master Idea that conditions the rest? I would suggest there is, but we'll heave that rock when we get to it.

Speaking of economy of expression, these would of course represent the inverse of the Ten Commandments. Think about that: ten rules are all we need in order to have "earth as it is in heaven." I haven't read Prager's The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, but I'm guessing he says the same thing, more or less:

"The most important words ever written are the Ten Commandments. These words changed the world when they were first presented at Mt. Sinai to Israelites, and they are changing it now. They are the foundation stones of Western Civilization."

So, "Given their staggering importance, you would think that all societies, and certainly our educational and religious institutions, would be intent on studying them closely."

Yeah, right. He suggests that our schools "take them for granted," when that is clearly untrue. Rather, they take them quite seriously, in that they go to great lengths to teach precisely the opposite.

(He discusses each one in a video at Prager University. I haven't yet viewed them, but I guess I should. I'll start with the first.)

Recall the crack above about tossing pebbles from the inside out. Well, in this case it is God hurling foundation stones from the inside-out and top-down (which amount to the same thing). They land down and out (or rather, one might say that down and out are their shadows), and are the stones upon which we are to rebuild up and in to Celestial Central.

Here again, the story of the Tower of Babel encrapsulates the contradictory approach, in which tenured man fashions his own bricks in the effort to construct an edifice superior to God's.

Let's take #1, which I just reviewed at Prager U. He makes the point that it sets up a kind of exchange between God and man: that I, God, brought you out of slavery, so you, man, ought to see fit to obey my commandments.

I would widen out the mythopoetic narrative of Exodus, and say that at bottom it goes to the mysterious presence of freedom as such -- of free will. If man is not free then he is in bondage, and to the extent that freedom exists, it can only come from God. There is not, nor can there ever be, any scientific explanation of the mystery of free will. Freedom is as beyond the scientific horizon as what came "before" the Big Bang.

If freedom is a gift from God, then it should provoke awareness of gratitude. Thus, where the left doesn't deny or devalue freedom, it certainly never expresses gratitude for it. In fact, I would say that the ingratitude leads directly to the devaluation.

Thomas Sowell, for example, writes of a time when blacks were aware of the awesome gift of freedom. But since the 1960s, self-styled "civil rights leaders" have dismissed genuine freedom in favor of an embittered life on the white liberal plantation, meanwhile watching groups who do cherish freedom pass them by.

Instead of teaching freedom and gratitude, the left teaches victimhood (in which one is merely an object of the free instead of a subject of freedom) and bitterness (in which the gift of freedom is transformed into the curse of responsibility).

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What is the Left's Bottom Lyin'?

We left off yesterday with an incomprehensible crack about left wing speech recapitulating the Incident in the Garden, i.e., man's fall. I ask you: does that make any sense at all, or is it just another gratuitous insult? Does it advance the debate, or are we just conveniently dismissing a priori anyone with whom we disagree?

Could be. But I recently read a book that makes the identical argument, The Devil's Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West, by Michael Walsh. I don't recommend it -- too much pompous and unfocussed gasbaggery for my taste -- but one finds back-up where one can. The whole book could have been reduced to a chapter, or maybe just this post.

When will writers learn that we don't have all the time in the world? As it stands, there are more required books on the cosmic syllaBus than we can ever drive to in one lifetime. If you're going to add another to the pile, you'd better have a damn good excuse. And make it brief. We don't have all day. Well, sometimes we do, but we don't want to waste that on an elective.

We've heard this argument before -- that the Frankfurt School of Marxist-inspired critical theorists ruined everybody's lives and ate all our steak. I see that the wiki article has a section that dates this conspiracy theory to 1992:

"Although it became more widespread in the late 1990s and 2000s, the theory originated with Michael Minnicino's 1992 essay New Dark Age: Frankfurt School and 'Political Correctness', published by the Schiller Institute. The Schiller Institute, a branch of the LaRouche movement, further promoted the idea in 1994. The Minnicino article charges that the Frankfurt School promoted Modernism in the arts as a form of Cultural pessimism, and played a role in shaping the 1960s counterculture."

Later it says that "The message is numbingly simplistic: all the ills of modern American culture, from feminism, affirmative action, sexual liberation and gay rights to the decay of traditional education and even environmentalism are ultimately attributable to the insidious influence of the members of the Institute for Social Research who came to America in the 1930's."

When you put it that way, it does sound kind of stupid, doesn't it?

I do not place the blame on any movement, or system, or ideology, or even Uncle Rico. Rather, each of these rides piggyback on something much deeper. First, when ideology is in the saddle, it rides on man. But what is it in man that permits him to be so easily saddled?

This is something we're always thinkin' about. The other day my site meter alerted me to an old series of posts from 2009 on the subject (in the context of a review of Bradley Watson's Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence ). Let's linger over some of our greatest hits from six years ago (and I apologize for the length; it's just that I kept finding interesting little nuggets. You'll have to extend a little slack my way, because when I read an old post, it's like reading it for the first time.)

--What if the "truth" of natural selection were known at the time of America's founding? Suppose that instead of being sophisticated Christian thinkers and biblical exegetes, the founders believed the simplistic notion that man is nothing more than an accident of the genes, just an animal with no conceivable claim on truth, justice, or liberty.

--Obviously, our founding creed would have been equally inconceivable, i.e., that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.... Clearly, unless you are very stupid, you must realize that Darwinism does not permit the existence of permanent truths or natural law accessible to man's reason. The very idea is absurd, and the Darwinist should come right out and admit it.

--Make no mistake: in order for progressivism to even be "legal" -- that is, constitutional -- it must first carry out an attack on the existing Constitution. Most of what progressives have done and wish to do cannot be done unless they first reframe the Constitution in Darwinian terms as an evolving document.

--[I]t never occurred to America's founders that they were simply affirming convenient or time-bound principles subject to later revocation by pettifogging mediocrities with law degrees, who are more "evolved" than they. Rather, their "understanding of law was structured around the idea of a knowable, unchanging moral order, to which human law and the Constitution -- and therefore constitutional interpretation -- were subservient." They would have fully endorsed the Socratic/Platonic principle that "law aims to be a discovery of what is," and that human law "cannot contradict the natural law that reflects the divine reason" (Watson).

Note that the founders were implicitly aware of the contradictory metaphysic, such that the weenies of the Frankfurt School couldn't have been the foist to foist it upon us. Again, they just exploited a timeless mytho-logical reality, or tendency, in man. Note that the myth of Genesis takes place outside time; or, time is structured by it, rather than vice versa. The divine clueprint of "Genesis time" becomes human time, as a building to blueprint.

--In other words, the metaphysics of the Founders is precisely the opposite of the contemporary Darwinist, in that the former starts at the top of the cosmos, with the One, the Absolute, the Divine Reason, not the bottom, i.e., matter and the random accidents of nature. A political philosophy derived from the latter is going to look quite different, and will be irreconcilable with America's.

--To cite one obvious example, if one realizes that there are permanent truths or moral absolutes that are not strictly time-bound, and that they are accessible to man's intellect, then one cannot possibly believe in reductionistic Darwinism, irrespective of what the science does or doesn't show. It's like when scientists try to tell us that free will doesn't exist. Right. Whatever. They are simply wrong, because they are wrong in principle, a principle that is a priori true and cannot not be true on pain of the very abolition of truth. (In other words, only a free being may know or deny truth.)

Obviously, the lesson of Darwin came before the Frankfurt school. And

--progressivism takes its cue from Darwinism, in that it "is characterized by a set of ideas that have at their core a marked historicism -- which is to say, a belief that truth is always and everywhere relative to its time and place" (Watson). Under Darwinism, the intellect cannot be a faculty that adequates itself to truth and therefore reality, but rather, is merely "a method of dealing with adaptation and change." In such a myopic view, our "minds" are adapted to the environment, not to truth. And "truth" would simply be a good fit between mind and environment. And a good fit means that it promotes survival and reproduction, or babes and power.

So, here is the sort of constitution a Darwinian -- limited to his Darwinism -- might come up with:

We hold these tautologies to be self-evident. That all men are intrinsically unequal; and that they are endowed by nature with very different gifts and abilities; that among these are strength, intelligence, and the will to dominate; that to nurture these gifts, governments are are instituted by the vanguard of evolution, deriving their just powers from nature's iron will and from the New York Times editorial board; that whenever any government, constitution, or religion undermines these powers, it is the right of nature's elites to alter, abolish, or deconstruct it, and to institute a new government rooted in a Living Constitution, as to them shall seem most likely to effect the perpetual rule of the better sort.

But in reality,

--"there are certain fixed principles beyond which progress is impossible." Think about that for a moment, for it says everything you need to know about what man is, and how dramatically he stands out from the rest of creation.

Therefore -- and this again goes to the timelessness of the question --

--the real debate is between absolutism and relativism. And it is a debate that the relativists of the left cannot win unless they first undermine the plain meaning of our founding documents. Instead of embodying the fixed principles toward which our task is to evolve, the founding documents must become an elastic and mutable organism that itself evolves, a la Darwinism, in which all is change and nothing is fixed. Everything is back on the table -- life, liberty, property, slack.

Not only are we back at mythogenetic ground zero, but the left is taking the side of the serpent -- which is precisely what the Gnostics did wayback when, i.e., revere the serpent of salvation. So, maybe that wasn't a snake in the garden. Rather, a Frankfurter.

Now, there is a good and bad -- or appropriate and inappropriate -- omniscience. There is an absolute knowledge to which we are freaking entitled by virtue of being human:

--Lincoln advocated the good kind of omniscience, which provides the rock upon which our nation was built. Like a "secular revelation," these petrine principles were "handed down by the Founding Fathers for later generations to preserve," not to squander like a bunch of irresponsible and good-for-nothing trust fund babies.

--"progressivism" is grounded in a combination of Darwinism and philosophical pragmatism, which render the whole notion of timeless truth null and void. The elimination of timeless truth is both the origin and goal of progressive thought, just as timeless truth is the origin and goal of our liberal Founders (and which again makes genuine evolution possible).

--with a single stroke, these anti-intellectual mediocrities such as John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson were able to elevate themselves above the Founders, and affirm that "there are no fixed or eternal principles that govern, or ought to govern, the politics of a decent regime." Rather, all truth was situated in a strict historicism, meaning that "truth" was simply what was believed to be true at the time, and nothing more. With the passage of time, we'll arrive at better truths, just as natural selection has produced better eyes and more clever apes. But there is no truth that is true for all time -- no annoying natural rights to interfere with the prerogatives of the state. Again, this view begins and ends in change as opposed to permanence.

We have rearrived at the left's bottom lyin':

--From this false premise the left pulled off the ultimate fraud, by identifying the liberating belief in absolutes with authoritarianism, and the acceptance of radical relativism with "liberation." Yes, it is a sort of liberation -- into nihilism on the one hand, and the omnipotent state on the other. For if there is nothing but change -- "permanent change" -- this is just another way of saying "absolute relativism" and pure subjectivity, which is a self-refuting metaphysic that elevates Will over Truth. Truth becomes a function of raw power, and we are reduced to obedient Adams in the void.

Or just say Hell.