Saturday, April 30, 2011

A pause for the cause and shoring up the foundations

I hope you’ll excuse my taking a necessary pause in the battle, a moment to reflect. I began this blog five years ago, as a place to take the place of the people I didn’t find available to talk to about what I was learning – after all, the people who have an interest in reading Sophocles and Shakespeare, Aristotle and Irving Babbitt and all points in between, are few and far between. I get that. Not a problem. This blog began as, and still is, a place for me to reflect upon the layers and depths I was finding between what I knew to be true on the surface, and the depths of what I was finding that that knowledge meant was actually True.

One of my favorite plays is Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, because it follows Oedipus as he finds that there is a very great gap between what he knew, and what it meant - though he found it out too late. One day Oedipus learns that there was a prophecy made which fated that he would kill his father and marry his mother, and understandably he was horrified at the thought, and sought to flee from it.

But Oedipus made the most common and fundamental mistake known to man, he assumed that the facts he knew, meant that he knew what he was dealing with, and how to deal with it – and he couldn’t have been more wrong. Oedipus assumed that the facts he knew, were the totality of what they meant, and as is nearly always the case, that was deeply wrong, and consequently the actions he took to solve the problem, and more importantly to consider it was solved and no longer worth consideration, brought about the fulfillment of the prophecy he thought he successfully fled from.

Oedipus fled his problem, which always seems a physical possibility, fled far away from his home to another country, where predictably he met a proud man at a crossroads who humiliated him and threatened him and in retaliation Oedipus killed him. Oedipus continued on to the capital of Thebes, dealt with a monsters riddle about the nature of Man, solved it, and considering that that was all there was to be contained in the riddle, pushed it from his mind as well. Thebes, newly lacking a King, his having been recently killed by an unknown assailant, awarded Oedipus his place, by marrying him to the newly widowed Queen.

The mother and father Oedipus knew as his parents, weren’t the people who conceived and bore him, his true parents, his true parents were the proud man and King, he had met and killed at the crossroads, and his widowed Queen – but they were told a prophecy when he was born, that their child would grow up to kill the King and marry the Queen, and so, seeking the easy, obvious, surface level conclusion, they ordered the baby to be exposed, abandoned on a hillside, where it was expected to die.

Problem solved, move along, no need for any further consideration.

But as happens, the truth will out. As happens, the surface level, unreflective answer, the obvious conclusion, is nearly always, if not wrong, at the very least not fully correct – and giving it no further consideration nearly always leads to worse problems down the road, often taking the shape of what you originally sought to escape.

Hamlet is another favorite of mine. The first line in the play is “Who goes there?!”, and the rest of the play, IMHO, is Hamlet’s discovery that he has no understanding at all of who goes about within his own skin. Hamlet, newly home from the University, discovers that all of his new modern ideas and schemes show themselves to be utterly empty, nothing but plans without substance, and the real substance he did have in his life, such as Ophelia, are rapidly destroyed because of them, and his own complete destruction builds and follows upon the emptiness of his newly minted knowledge.

You won’t find many accepted interpretations of Oedipus Rex or Hamlet which match mine, and that’s fine, for it is mine – but that doesn’t mean that either play has no form or meaning, or that it can mean anything to anyone and nothing to everyone, as the modernist, post-modernist, structuralist’s horrors of modernity would have you think.

Literature, History, Philosophy, have definite shape and form, they have meaning because the world we live within is real, and we are able to understand it. If I were to start a new literary theory, it might be called looking-glassism, and it would hold that plays, literature, history, etc, have definite objective form and meaning, just as a looking glass or prism does, but that that doesn’t lock it into some fixed and frozen state as if affixed to a museum wall. Their forms are there for you to grasp, examine, learn, admire, like a multi-faceted diamond, but unlike a diamond, they are not just for decoration – though they excel at that too, as any object of beauty does - but more than mere decoration, they are there for you to use and to develop your own understanding of yourself, from having used them.

The Liberal Arts are there for you not only to pick up, but to examine your world, and yourself, with, they can help you to see deeper and further than you would ever have been able to on your own, in short, they serve to fire your imagination and with your help, they can fan it into a mighty forge, and help you recreate your life and world into something more than it was or could have been without them. And perhaps most surprising of all, to the fan of the modern mind, is that when you look deeply into that forge, you’ll find that Religion was there all along, waiting for you to come back to the heart of the matter – it does work in mysterious ways.

Where am I going with this? Somewhere very relevant to the battle we are facing.

Critically vital to the world today, and our battle for it, is understanding that Imagination is not a trifle, it is not a thing to be entertained with or by, and then put away when more serious matters need to be dealt with, it is the very core of our lives, it is the indispensible flame of Reason itself, and it forms the heart and soul of Western Civilization – it is why the west has triumphed. The West was not sprung from the battles of Thermopylae or the politics Athens or Jerusalem or Rome or London, it, unlike other cultures, sprang from its own imagination through the works of Homer, The Bible, Brutus and Octavia, Shakespeare, and it was honed into practical form by men like Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Aquinas and Locke, and infused it further into our lives through our cultures religious understanding – we are a Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian culture, and if we cease to be, we will cease to be.

Imagination is critical to who we are, and its banishment, step by step over the last two centuries, has served as the measure of our losing who we once were and should be. Imagination draws connections and integrations, and together with the systematic examination of our choices and what we can imagine will follow from them – a method we know as Logic - Imagination, choice and logic have fused into our distinctive Western version of the faculty of Reason – and with it the West has risen to prominence in the world like no other in history, in fact there is no history, without it or us.

The hallmark of Imagination is that it is always integrative, always deepening the understanding of what we know, always illuminating and expanding the breadth and width of our comprehension of the world, and of ourselves, and consequently elevating our true positions within it; ever scaling and pursuing Truth, and the Good, the Beautiful and the True mark it’s place and passage, wherever we go. Michelangelo, Shakespeare, the Declaration of Independence are the signal signs of our Western Culture, and no other one on earth has, or can, approach them, except as they manage to follow in our footsteps.

It’s cultural opposite, and often crudely aping it, is the pursuit of power and thrills, it’s the disintegrative, the fixed, the shallow conclusion arbitrarily made and without support in reality – the Doubt over the Question - and it often achieves seeming places of power, but it is brittle, ugly, and disjointed, relying upon Quantities alone, having shut itself out of and away from Quality. Wherever it appears you’ll find, should you look below the surface, that it leaves gaps, holes, places of darkness and is always marked by mere actions of physical power and fleeting thrills – shock in place of wonder - and the ugliness of the disharmonious view is everywhere on display in modern art, as are the plethora of lies ‘noble’ or otherwise, that masquerade as its literature, economics or politics.

It is Evil, and I hate it with all of my heart and soul. That doesn’t mean I need to rant or demonstrate against it, such actions I find often masks what you wish were your response, but don’t actually feel, rather it is a response which emanates of its own, rather than a proscribed demonstration. In short, I hate the sin, not the sinner.

What benefitih it a man…
What does any of this have to do with politics? What does it have to do with the world today? It might be surprising, given my recent history, to hear that I don’t give a rat’s ass for politics, not in and of itself, the machinery of power has zero interest to me, I don’t care about it at all. I assume that’s surprising, because I was recently asked by someone I thought knew me well, “Would you rather be a fabulously powerful and wealthy communist dictator, or an utterly impoverished freeman?”, there was no consideration needed, I answered the later, and I was surprised to hear that those who asked me were surprised by my response. “I thought you’d choose the wealth and power, you’re always going on about it so”, and that took me aback for a bit.

On the surface, I suppose that seems to be so, I oppose, often loudly, those who would regulate businesses, tax away peoples wealth, weaken our military and push ugliness as art, but like so many surface facts, these are incidental results of what I believe, not the purpose or meaning of what I care about.

I’m interested in what is true, and what makes truth possible for us to discover, and that is Reason, in the form as described above; imagination, choice and method, united as best as we are able, in the pursuit of and for the purpose of bringing ourselves into intimate association with what is True. In that quest follows, as it must, the Good, the Beautiful and the True, and with that is made possible a worthwhile life, as well as liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

What interferes with that, is my enemy.

I don’t give a damn about politics, but I care deeply about ideas, specifically about ideas that are True, and the place in our lives where ideas are most brought into action and affect our lives, is politics – it is to that extent, that I seem to be concerned with politics, business or wealth, but the ideas come first, because the Truth precedes both.

You may not care about this. I don’t really care if you do or not, this is my blog, not yours.

But I care about it, deeply, and IMHO you should as well, because whether or not your realize it, you are being swept up and locked in the same battle every day as I am, by those things you recognize as being important, such as politics, public education, the economy, and they are important – on the surface. But if they have no substance, no integrated meaning behind and beneath what you see, they will fail and fall, and so will we all, for as our Founding Fathers recognized, without Virtue, Principle, Morality – the ultimate marks of deeply integrated and non-contradictory ideals – our American world will fall and pass away.

And that which opposes us, the darkness which has found form in leftism, implicitly understands this.

Descartes, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Hegel & Marx, began pulling the threads out of the moral and imaginative tapestry of our Western World, and it has been unraveling ever since and ever faster, due to the efforts of monstrous people like Antonio Gramsci, who understood where our true strength lay – our ideas and how we formed them – and he, and a few others, knew how to attack it and kill it, and how to unwittingly enlist our aid in our own destruction – through our best intentions.

You, today, can see the effects of these ideas playing out in the utterly soddenly grey matter of our children’s educational materials, textbooks, and the new reasons given for educating us with them, as well as in political measures such as banning children from playing games. Roger Stone was on Dana Loesch’s radio program the other week, and he hit the nail on the head. As she told him of the story of New York State’s attempt to regulate and ban kickball and other childhood games, he said “Sounds like they’re trying to banish imagination from our kids’ lives”, and that is exactly the case and true to the bone.

Imagine there’s no Heaven, it’s easy if you try…
The overwhelming focus of modern philosophy, especially visible in ‘thinkers’ like Wundt, Hegel, Fichte, is that Free Will is an illusion, that it doesn’t exist, and what we mistakenly think of as choices and decisions, are just the determined result of a complex game of billiards and multiple bank shots. Enemy #1 of such an idea is imagination. Imagination is the supreme expression of Free Will, and the ultimate refutation of determinism in every form, and on one level or another, it has been viciously attacked, discounted and subjected to insult and putdowns. Look in your school today at what they try to substitute for imagination, simple incongruity… odd and unexpected random actions and activities. Hat day, pajama day… disintegrated and idiotic randomness… but real imagination, Harry Potter for instance, is savaged right off the bat, discounted and dismissed.

You might say “Well, that’s ridiculous to tie those things together, that’s simply unrelated, those are just cases where regulators are looking to expand their power”, which is partially true, on the surface, but why are they seeking to, and why are they looking in that particular direction to do so?

To dismiss this is to not fully realize the extent to which fundamental ideas are expressed, even when not explicitly understood to be at play. In the same way that two people can grasp a concept to varying degrees, but still be working off the same core ideas, so too can the effects of fundamental ideas be guided by commonly held principles. The child and the philosopher who see someone given only half a bag of popcorn for their money, while another gets a full bag, might both say “That’s not fair!”, and both would be expressing their grasp of the same concept, but there is a difference in that the child probably does not connect the thought to anything else beyond that action, while the philosopher (assuming a real, non-modernistic one) can connect the underlying concepts and principles to their ethics, politics, economics, aesthetics and even to the realm of mathematics.

Our knowledge, to the extent that it is actual knowledge, is always reflected as being a part of one integrated whole – whether or not we manage to grasp and express it as a smooth sphere or as a jagged and disjointed thistle, it is still one, and the deeper the roots of an idea go, the more areas of life it will find expression in.

Look again at the scene I showed you the other week, the EPA regulator in absolute terror of acknowledging reality, his absolute refusal to state the word which he, and everyone else knows to be true, these issues, imagination, education and the use of political power, are deeply connected, in what they most fundamentally reject – imagination and free will.

Leftist ideals find their root in not only a denial of free will, but of our ability to perceive reality at all, a point that was again driven home to me by an extended email conversation I had with a leftist recently, that they actually do deny that we can know that reality exists.

Blink.

Seriously.

Via Hume’s assertion that we can’t know anything for certain, Rousseau’s denial of Rights and free will and Kant’s assertion that reality is ultimately unknowable, all are rooted in Descartes’ attempt to put consciousness before that which it is we are conscious of, he legitimized the arbitrary doubt and conclusion, putting his “I think” before and above, what is, “I am”, making it philosophically possible to make your desires more important and real, than the reality we live within.

There are implications that follow from those thoughts and in them are an opposition to reality and our ability to perceive it, and they consequently find themselves to be in direct opposition to Truth as such, as well as its many implications, and if you care to look, you’ll find them expressed in the ideas of Karl Poppers (and George Soros’) ‘Open Society’ and other aspects of ‘Social Justice’. Look at their Art, or what passes for it, and you’ll see their world and their soul reflected in the ugly splashes of color and lines. A denial of Free Will, of consciousness, a demand for and a denial of Natural Law and Individual Rights, as Hegel and Marx so clearly declared, can be seen on any leftist campus today, and they are no longer confined to ivy covered halls along our east and west coasts, they even spreads their darkness blatantly and openly, amongst us here in Missouri.

The supposedly separate issues of school curriculum and your right to your property, your income and life and Law, are all intricately tied together. The common ideas of modernity are fully and completely in opposition to everything that America is founded upon, and which the Constitution expresses, and these filthy professors, Judy Ancel and her associates from the Communist Party, know it, and they preach it, preach the disintegrated harshness of it in what they laugh about – the intimidation and violence of using force as an acceptable norm and means of persuasion.

Truth and trivia
The next leftie wit who asks you if you can recite Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, and takes that as a sign of your not understanding it (I’m assuming you can’t, as I can’t, though I’ve studied it for decades), you can take that as their self-confessed belief that they think that simple disjointed surface facts, having the substance of trivia, constitute actual knowledge and understanding.

Simply reply that having learned to read, and having the entire Constitution quickly at hand, perhaps even in your pocket, is sufficient enough, and then ask them if they can answer a more useful and telling question of whether or not they can tell you WHY there is an Article I, Section 8, Clause 1, or any other article, section or clause within the Constitution? Ask them if they understand that these passages exist to define the nature and limits of government, in order to secure liberty, establish justice and ensure the domestic tranquility through achieving the purpose of binding the powerful down to clear and defined laws? If you can do that, then if you are quick enough, you might be able to pull out your cameraphone and snap a picture of their backsides as they run away from you.

As you do so, know that you are their enemy, and that they fear you, and that is why they condone violence as a means of persuasion – they have no other means available to them.

They seek to break the chains which the Constitution binds the use of power down with, and once broken, they will willingly and eagerly release leviathan, perhaps oblivious to the fact that it is a monster, for on the surface of their minds they believe that they want nothing more than to help you, to make you safe in every way – but if you give that thought the slightest consideration which they evade, if you look beyond the surface, that intent should be as terrifying a prospect as Hitler’s Reich, for indeed, they came from the same place.

We are in a war, perhaps the most consequential one in history, because we are fighting not only for control of a geographical region, but for the realm of ideas and the survival of all that is Good and Beautiful and True.

Don’t shrug it off, think it over, and fight it.

6 comments:

lance said...

“Would you rather be a fabulously powerful and wealthy communist dictator, or an utterly impoverished freeman?”, there was no consideration needed, I answered the later, and I was surprised to hear that those who asked me were surprised by my response. “I thought you’d choose the wealth and power, you’re always going on about it so”, and that took me aback for a bit.

It is funny because the moment I read that I thought there is no way Van chooses to be a dictator that goes completely against everything he stands for. I realize that you and I disagree on some fundamental things but I am always glad to read your thoughts and I often am surprised that I agree with them as often as I do.

H.C. said...

"You may not care about this. I don’t really care if you do or not, this is my blog, not yours."

Truly free. I love it.

H.C. said...

Still reading...

H.C. said...

I read the whole thing!
After all of that, at the end, starting with the mention of war, you read my mind as to the absolute conclusion I have come to in the past 10 days or so (a 100% definite conclusion, that is, not just suspicion).
All I can say is, live free or die.

Van said...

Lance said "... I am always glad to read your thoughts and I often am surprised that I agree with them as often as I do."

Thanks Lance, you know I appreciate it.

Van said...

H.C. said "I read the whole thing! "

;-)

"All I can say is, live free or die."

Yes indeed.