Friday, 31 December 2010

To sleep, to dream...


I have never been satisfied with the usual cultural and scientific views on sleeping and dreaming.

These see sleep and dream as both subordinate to awake life, and also as optional extras.

Behind current concepts is the idea that it would be better not to sleep at all, but if we must sleep then it should be as little as possible.


By contrast, I tend to think that sleep is, in a sense, primary - at least in its creative and generative role -

I think it possible that sleep (or equivalent but weaker states which occur during awakeness, daydreaming trances etc) produce most of our subjective 'experience' - which is then shaped and fitted to the world around us during awakeness.


Valuation of dreaming is split between a minority of people who regard dreams in a distorted and exaggerated way as the royal road to understanding neurosis (Freudians) or to understanding the prerequisites for personal growth (Jungians); and the large majority who see dreams as (merely) a kind of entertainment.

A few who trivialize dreaming regard them as a kind of home movie, which might be controlled and made more enjoyable - e.g. people interested in lucid dreaming.

And of course the highest value on dreams is placed by 'shamans' - in the broadest sense of the word - who regard dreams as a source of arcane knowledge; and in some societies these individuals are accorded high social status.


I am unconvinced by psychodynamic concepts of dreaming since most people do not remember their dreams most of the time - so it seems unlikely that dream recall is of the essence.

Like Tolkien, I believe that dreams can, by various mechanisms and routes - some psychological and others revelatory, be a source of knowledge otherwise unavailable to the awake mind; but I regard this as a rare gift (and one usable for evil as well as good).

What what about 'normal' people who certainly dream but cannot remember much about it: people like myself?


Dreaming certainly feels important to personal well-being (I regard this insight of Jung's as correct), and if so this means that dreaming does its work whether we recall dreams or not.

In a nutshell, I believe that dreams are important in giving 'depth' to our subjective experience.

Without dreaming I think that life would be a matter of 'what you see is what you get' - like watching soaps or the news on TV - a matter of emotional stimulation by this, then that, then something else.

With dreaming, our minds make connections and relate things to one another; so life has at least a semblance of being whole.

Of course, since we fill our minds with dross, our dreams don't have much to 'work on'; nonetheless they do what they can.

And, of course, since modernity regards sleeping and dreaming as a big waste of time, we don't sleep enough and do things which probably damage our dreams; and so get less good from this than we should (or could).


But, since most dreams are not remembered, how could we know any of this? How would we know if dreams were doing this kind of work?

Well, there are theoretical arguments such as I make in the co-authored paper linked above (which I think is one of the best - or at least cleverest - things I ever did in psychology - although naturally it has been completely ignored).

And there is introspection (what the German psychiatrists termed phenomenology), i.e. awareness of one's own psychological states - which ought to be regarded as a vital check on all psychology and psychiatry.

Introspection is an ability which varies quite widely between individuals, and can also be trained or suppressed - and bear in mind that introspective ability is quite different from the ability to write on the subject of inner states.

Jung was a hugely naturally-gifted introspector who developed this ability, Freud seemed to have no abilities at all in this domain - but Freud was a much better writer.

Among modern writers Tolkien was an introspector of genius and also a writer of genius - so is a primary source.


I conclude that if we introspect we know that sleep and dream are very important indeed.

At the very highest levels, ascetic Saints seem to reach a state in which sleep and awakeness merge and fuse; but at the lower levels the rest of us inhabit, sleeping and dreaming represent a vital alternation of human being - even though we can seldom recall or discuss explicitly and exactly what they are doing.


Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Four tough questions for the secular right


1. What do you want? And what do you not want?

Is your list any more than a mere wish list? If so, what binds-together these core values and necessary exclusions?

2. Having listed these requirements, is it possible to sustain a society which gives you what you want, and not what you do not want? What are the mechanisms by which your ideal society would be maintained? Are they plausible? Are they strong enough?

Or are you just engaged in day-dreaming?

(Anyone can come up with their own ideal utopia - but in the real world, stable options are heavily constrained.)

3. How would your ideal society stop itself recapitulating the course of all existing Western societies?

In other words, what is to prevent the re-emergence of radicalism, communism, socialism and political correctness? - in other words, what is to prevent the return of that suicidal embrace of active self-destruction which prevailed in all Western societies, at more or less the same time, apparently independently.

4. In such a society as you conceive, what will motivate people? And are these motivations plausibly strong enough to resist relentless, implacable and dedicated foes who cannot be convinced of the virtues of your favoured society and who are prepared to sacrifice pleasure, experience pain, and even willingly to die to get what they want?

Because these are people which will try to destroy modernity and which must therefore be-stopped for modernity to survive; and since they will not voluntarily stop themselves from doing this, who will stop-them?

Who (in your ideal society) will draw a line and fight and (if necessary) die to stop people who otherwise will not stop?

And why, in your ideal society, will the people who matter, really do this, actually make their best efforts to stop implacable and highly-motivated foes when we know that such people will not do so at present (will indeed assist the implacable foes of modernity).


At root this is just one question: what would be different about your desired secular society which would plausibly make it self-maintaining when all previous secular societies have become progressively more self-destroying?


More on intuition, creativity and 'life'


As I wrote yesterday, I feel that human thinking is essentially undivided, but that styles which could be called intuitive and rational have different absolute and relative strengths in different individuals.

The intuitive style of thinking is the non-rational basis of creativity, and works by a different kind of 'logic' (or anti-logic).


I conceptualize intuition as (very roughly speaking) working by association of emotions and by 'subjective' semantic categories (i.e. by categories of meaning that - according to mainstream culture, are partly inborn, and partly the result of individual experience).

This can be seen in remembered dreams, with their strange changes of direction in narrative. Usually, these changes of direction can be 'explained' by some individual association based on the emotions generated.


It is a bit like the way we categorize personal names in our mind; we have certain categories of names Rebecca and Emily might go together (because of an 18th century feel); or Charles, William and Robert ('King's names); or Nicola and Tracy (tow girls who were best friends) - and this association leads to slips of tongue. The same applies to cities, and (I believe) all the way through are structures of knowledge - even abstract knowledge such as science: there are spontaneous and not-rational (or not necessarily rational) association between chemicals, numbers, colours and so on.


So we have a grammar of intuitive thinking which will - to a greater or lesser extent, vary between individuals - and will cut across the categories of rational thought.

And the reinforcement of intuition comes from emotions: our associations are validated by emotions.


The sense of 'depth' which we crave and which we may experience in life, in social relations, in art, even in science; this sense of depth comes (I believe) from these personal and spontaneous associations.

So a 'deep' experience is one which triggers many associations that hang together, and these associations seem to go on and on, rooting the experience deep in our minds.


By contrast, non-intuitive reason, for example formal logic, lacks this emotional back-up; so that even when we regard it as correct our decision is not validated by emotions.

So we acknowledge that one place is better than another; a particular car is better than another; a composer is better than another - 'on paper' or rationally and yet we may not feel this emotionally, and our assent is shallow and weak - and indeed alienating.


So if a person believes rationally that Mozart is better than Rossini yet Rossini feels deeper to them at an intuitive level and Mozart just comes across as tinkling noise - then it is alienating to spend all ones time listening to Mozart and trying to manufacture an appreciation.

Likewise, if modern life is superior to ancient life in all rational respects, yet feels shallow, meaningless, purposeless - it is alienating to try and live by the belief that modern life is superior.

Likewise, if one's perspective on life (one's philosophy of life, or religion) feels shallow, meaningless and purposeless - yet apparently is supported by reason - this is alienating, profoundly alienating.


What we seek is 'the good' such that our perspective on life is rationally true, beautiful and virtuous, and that all valued things are TBV, and each unit of experience has 'depth' such that all which is TBV is linked to all other entities that are TBV - no matter how far back we push.

Anything less than this feels incomplete is experienced as incomplete, is uninvolving, isolating - we can almost feel our minds crumbling at the prospect of such a life! Hence the need for inducing numbing indifference and distraction in modernity.

And if we are told that we are being unreasonable to want more than shallowness, then we are even more alienated!


Yet if intuition and subjectivity are 'merely' the result of evolved predispositions and individual experience, then alienation becomes a personal problem; which may elicit sympathy, but which cannot be acknowledged as having any general validity.

The mismatch between intuition and reason is a profound criticism, a refutation of life as it is experienced - and this is probably the basis of nihilism - the disbelief in the reality of life - and because nothing is real, then nothing matters except therapy.


Nothing matters except therapy...

Yes indeed, for secular modernity, the bottom line of all action is therapy.

For each individual, life is a matter of therapy - self-therapy and therapy from others (especially the therapeutic state - the politically correct state): a matter of making ourselves feel good, or at least less-bad, or blocking-out bad feelings with pleasure, or just obliterating all feelings with intoxications of one sort of another (drugs, or falling in love/ lust - it matters not which...).

For modern spirituality (New Age) - all is directed to therapy.

And therapy is this-worldly and temporary, a matter of aspirins and band-aids, because there is no possibility of anything else.


For modern secualr culture, art is - at root - merely aspirins and band aids, so is any absorbing job or hobby, so is love - (nothing more than) a chance to live imaginatively and temporarily in a world of apparent meaning and purpose (or, a world where absorption obliterates all thoughts of meaning and purpose), even though we 'know' that this is not real, just a temporary 'escape' from the reality of nihilism.

In secular modernity we seek - as our ultimate goal - strong medicine.

And since we become tolerant to strong medicines, we need a perpetual procession of new strong medicines; of inventions, novelties, of change

Even philosophy, even religion is conceptualized as nothing more than a strong medicine (which works for some people, not everyone).


So intuition points elsewhere than reason, but intuition and reason cannot be brought together under a materialist, this-worldly perspective - since at this level of analysis intuition merely points to therapy.

What we crave is a world where intuition and reason are merely different sides of the same coin; where all reaosn is intuitive and vice versa.

Untill we find such a perspective, we are right to be dissatisfied.

The profoundest therapy is successful Zen - a living death, a state of utter detachment and indifference and acceptance of meaninglessness and purposelessness.

Yet if the Zen perspective is really true, one might as well die now and have done with it! Why struggle and meditate for years to achieve indifference?


Therapy cannot be an ultimate goal in life, because therapy points to death as the only answer to life.

The therapeutic culture is the consequence of a culture which regards intuition as important, but ultimately intuition as something we are 'stuck with' - due to heredity and individual experience.

For New Age spirituality, intuition is at root merely an unfortunate obstacle in the path of humans accepting (as they rationally ought to) the meaninglessness and purposelessness of real-reality.

For secular modernity - even New Age Spirituality - intuition is important only because it makes us unhappy. Modernity aims to provide an ersatz satisfaction of intuition - but the satisfaction will be, must be, fake - because there is no real form of satisfaction.


What we yearn for is meaning and purpose of life; and that requires a framework of reality not therapy, and reality requires rooting outside of this world, and beyond of reason and intuition.

We seek, therefore, a perspective which contains both reason and intuition and in which both are really-real.


Because secular modernity acts asif reason/ logic was objectively true, while intuition/ creativity is subjectively-validated. 

In fact neither reason not intuition are objectively true in terms of a secular and materialist analysis - because for this to be the case it would be necessary that both reason and intuition were self-validating.

People act asif reason were self-validating. Secular modernity makes this assumption.

But on the slightest reflection it is apparent that reason cannot prove the validity of reason any more than intuition can prove the validity of intuition.


So, both reason and intuition are either not objectively valid (on a materialist and secular perspective) - in which case we have no real knowledge of anything; or else either/ or both reason or intuition are validated by something hierarchically higher and beyond themselves - which is divine revelation.


(This is why the most fully rational person who ever lived was religious - viz. Thomas Aquinas. He was fully rational because he believed that reason - indeed the selective sub-set of reason that was scholastic logic - was validated by God. I think Aquinas was incorrect and misguided in the emphasis he placed on logic, even when conclusions were unsupported by intuition - but it could not validly be said that Aquinas was irrational (or, if Aquinas was irrational, then everyone who ever existed before and since has been even-more-irrational); and Aquinas was of course deeply religious - being a Roman Catholic Saint.)


So, those who sense that reason (or logic) is necessary but insufficient as a guide for life, but who find that secular modernity regards intuition as contingent and idiosyncratic, should consider that intuition may be validated from the same source as reason - and in the same kind of inevitably partial and distorted way as reason is validated.

The conclusion would be that, like reason, intuition is necessary. And, like reason, intuition is valid - but in a partial and biased fashion.

Both reason and intuition are both necessary yet partial and biased because underlying reality (i.e. transcendental reality) is a whole, in which reason and intuition are merely aspects of a single mode of thought.


Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Creativity and intuition


In academic psychology, there are two concepts of creativity:

1. an older one which sees creativity in terms of dreamlike cognition, psychoticism, 'primary process' thinking, and thoughts linked-by emotional-associations; and

2. a newer one which sees creativity in terms of 'openness to experience' - that is neophilia, novelty-generation, random permutations and combination of memorized information.

I believe that the earlier concept is much closer to the truth, or to validity - and that indeed the idea of creativity as Openness is a modern, bureaucratic and politically-correct corruption and hijacking of creativity: creativity redefined such that the shallow childishness of modernist art and the committee-defined-consensus of Big Science counts asif creative in the same way as the great art and natural philosophy of the past.


But there is, I suspect, something intrinsically corrupt in the concept of creativity; which emerged into public discourse at about the time of the Romantic movement in the late 17th and early 18th centuries; as a contrast with scholastic logic, and an explanation for the difference between philosophy/ science and the arts.

Properly speaking, rather than the twin poles of creativity and logic as the basis of human knowledge, I think the proper (or closer) conceptualization is intuition and reason.


Intuition is inborn, spontaneous, it comes first, and everything is based upon it and it varies between people.

Intuition is related to 'common sense' and also to understanding other people and to instant apprehension of situations. It is related to the emotions; and seems to proceed by emotional association.


Reason is also mostly innate, although partial forms can be learned (e.g. mathematics, geometry, formal logic), and it also varies between individuals.


However there is not a close correlation between intuitive ability and reason; and people can be unusually high in one and unusually low in the other.

Indeed, there is probably an inverse correlation between intuitive ability and reason among healthy people; although the correlation is not very close and there are exceptions (which get rarer as they get more extreme).

These exceptions are the very rare 'creative geniuses' who are both intelligent and intuitive...

...and the more numerous and more obviously dysfunctional people who lack both intuition and intelligence - the number of these vary between societies, because intelligence and intuition can both simultaneously be damaged by brain pathology (due to degenerative disease, trauma, infection, malnutrition etc.) and the causes of brain pathology vary widely in frequency between societies.

Intelligent people who are lacking in intuition are much commoner. These are the 'clever sillies', more-or-less - the i.e. bulk of the modern ruling elite.

And also common are highly intuitive people of moderate or lower-than-average intelligence. This group includes, but is not confined-to, people with irrational ideas and illogical thought processes who may be psychotic - or regarded as mentally ill by the high intelligence-low intuition types.


My point is that while these processes of knowing I have called intuition and reason can be statistically separated and contrasted, ultimately they are meant to work together.

It is only reliable for knowledge to proceed such that both intuition and intelligence are satisfied by each step and conclusion.

Otherwise we get the strange distortions which are usually conceptualized as of logic unsupported by emotion; or emotionality unchecked by logic - more correctly this is reasoning in contradiction to intuition and intuition apart from the context of reason.


I am sure that humans cannot function unless intuition and reason go together; otherwise we mistrust ourselves and become detached (alienated), proud, despondent, exploitative - oscillating between domination by logic and then by emotions in unrelated sequence.

In other words we get the normal mainstream fragmentary, sound-bite-sized, conduct of modern public discourse.

We get the counter-cultural advocates of impulse and instinct alternating with the absurdly restricted and legalistic procedures of bureaucracy.


At root, I think we need to recognize that neither creativity nor intelligence are good in themselves: which recognition is easy to say, but hard to do. 

We must recognize that creativity can be, has been, highly destructive, proud and evil. Many of the worst tyrants and sinners of history have been highly intuitive creative individuals: Napoleon, Hitler, Mao.

And that reason/ intelligence is also, more often than not, highly destructive - as evidenced by communism and its descendant political correctness.


When it comes to Christianity we cannot allow either reason or intuition to go ahead alone; the one must always be able to catch up with the other, in each of us.

This sets a limit to how far we can go in understanding.

Rational understanding (following a line of logic) cannot go further than intuition allows; and intuition cannot go further than is check-able by reason.

So we should not follow systematic theology further than our intuition can follow; and we should not follow what seem to be personal insights and revelations further than we can personally support with reason.


In this refusal we must each of us be stubborn - especially in a secular and corrupt world where valid spiritual advice may be impossible to find.

Better not to know than to know wrongly.

To do otherwise - and to allow logic or emotion to run-away independently - is to pull-apart human understanding and to split our souls when they should be unified.


Sacred Monarchy - by Fr. Michael Azkoul


From sacred Monarchy and the Modern Secular State -

H/T -


"The 20th century has brought an end to sacred monarchy. 

"To be sure, several nations yet possess a king or queen, but with few exceptions, they reign without ruling. In the West, none of them pretend to hold their position by "the Grace of God," despite the liturgical rhetoric surrounding their coronations.  (...)

"In any case, there has never been a monarch who ruled in the East or in the post-Orthodox West by "the Grace of God," because the existence of true kingship depends upon true faith. Furthermore, we cannot speak of a heretical society as societas christiana.

"The Holy Russian Empire - the last phase of the Roman Imperium, successor to Byzantine or Christian Rome - was the last Christian society and Nicholas II was the last Christian Emperor. His death brought the extinction of "the age of Constantine," the end to God's Plan concerning holy empires.

"With the disappearance of Christian Rome, that which restrained world revolution, world atheism, world anarchy, world apostasy, is no more (cf. II Thess. iv, 6).

"Secularism characterizes the present age and nowhere is it more obvious than in the principles and policies of the modern democratic state, in which power ascends from the electorate to the elected, to officials and bureaucrats whose only concern, if any at all, is the material and earthly happiness of their constituents.

"If there is a place for religion in these "pluralistic societies," it does not inform their attitudes, aspirations and decision-making process.

"The self-styled "separation of church and state" is a political dogma because it is already a spiritual condition.

"The secular state is always atheistic. St. Gregory the Theologian observed in the 4th century that there are three fundamental kinds of government: 

1. monarchy, the rule of one, is associated with belief in one God or, at least, one supreme God.

2. Polyarchy (aristocracy, the rule of the few or best, is linked with polytheism; and 

3. the rule of the many, which the Saint called Anarchy (democracy), is bound with atheism.

"We Orthodox, be it said, hold monarchy "in honour", because it imitates the unity of God, whereas polyarchy implies a division or dispersion of His Power, a "severance of His Essence," that is, among many gods.

"Finally, anarchy, the government of the people, implies theologically that the Essence of God is pulverized; or, in other words, power is so completely spread out or distributed that He cannot be conceived to exist ( Theol. Ora. III, 2).

"We ought not be confused by St. Gregory's explanation. He did not mean that nations always make conscious, philosophically elaborated choices, but that there is always a direct connection between theology and politics. (...)

"Kingship and the idea of descending political power - that is, political power "descending" from God to the king for the benefit of the people - finally expired with the "republicanism" of the French Revolution. The year 1789 marks the traditional date for the beginning of the complete and radical secularization of the Western world.

"From this moment, "democracy" becomes its political ideal and atheism its political consequence. God is forever shut off from human affairs, dying a quiet death in the scientific madness of the 19th century, with no one to grieve him, as Nietzsche moaned.

"Now the universe was in the hands of man and, as August Comte proclaimed, he was its "god" and the love of humanity his religion."


Monday, 27 December 2010

Once-born or Twice-born?


In 'The Varieties of Religious Experience' (which has an atheist and materialist perspective) William James makes a distinction between Once-born individuals who are naturally well-adjusted souls who do not feel the need to be 'saved' (like Ralph Waldo Emerson, of Walt Whitman), while the Twice-born are those who feel radically miserable, incomplete and who perceive a need to be saved.

I was of the Once-born type for most of my life, and could not understand all the fuss about 'salvation'.

Indeed, I regarded salvation-talk as evidence of an unfortunate illness, or sometimes a thing deliberately induced by manipulation from Churches (who made naturally contented people feel guilty and incomplete in order to get and retain converts).


To the Once-born, sin is perceived as (merely) breaking as a set of (intrinsically imprecise and changeable) social rules; and not a matter of a person's basic perspective on the human condition.

As a Once-born atheist I had been aware of modern man's alienating perspective for some years (for example in this essay: ) which I interpreted as a consequence of the move away from a hunter-gatherer life that was natural to the evolved human.

But I did not interpret alienation as sin; merely as a source of misery; the response to which was to adjust human emotions by management of lifestyle, use of modern pharmacology, and ultimately genetic engineering: in other words I took a 'transhumanist' perspective.

This survived into my early days as a nominal Christian.


When I became nominally Christian I remained of the Once-born type for many months, until I began to understand the nature of Sin.

So, after a while (after practicing Christianity, as best I understood it, for some months) I began to realize that one cannot really be a Once-born Christian: there is no such thing.

One must be 'born-again'.

(I was, in fact - despite my protestations, until that point actually a monotheist, but not a trinitarian; indeed I could not understand the point of the trinitarian doctrine.)


I now recognize that Christ cannot 'save' a person who fundamentally feels no need to be saved.

There is an absolute necessity for Christians to have a 'born-again' perspective by which a person recognizes their need for salvation; therefore their state of this-worldly incompleteness.

However, and this is vital, this recognition is inevitably partial and temporary.

(Or rather, the recognition is inevitably partial and temporary except among the Saints; but even Saints do not achieve this perspective instantly and completely, but after many years of prayer and ascetic discipline.)


This is a 'mystical' perspective of sin - different from the common 'legalistic' perception of sin in terms of breaking God's Laws.


A basic problem for Christianity today is that we live in a Once-born culture.

Modern secular culture perceives the matter of Christianity's trying to bring people to a recognition of their intrinsic state of sin, as if it were a matter of trying to make happy and well-adjusted people into miserable and needy people.

The common legalistic definition of sin and salvation does not work for Once-born modern mainstream secular culture. It is not really a matter of incorrect, but the legalistic definition does not work.


Legalism does not work in modernity because it does not bring the majority of Once-born people to a recognition of their need for salvation.

Modern secular culture 'understands' - from experience - that 'law' is something labile and - apparently - almost unlimited in its change, evolution, flexibility. Indeed law has been perhaps the primary means of secularization in late modern societies.

Therefore, to moderns, the problem of sin is one which is cured by changing the laws - by re-defining sin - and not by divine intervention.


And this is why I believe that we moderns need a mystical understanding of sin as a false perspective: sin as a false understanding of the human condition.


Sunday, 26 December 2010

Imagination versus Myth, and Political Correctness


Modern elite culture, especially the mass media, pays remarkable lip service to  the importance of 'imagination' - considering that the reality of life for these people is operating in an ever more constrained, impersonal and interlinked bureaucracy - where all decisions are by committees and voting.

Committees are notably absent from the world of myth! As is bureaucratic supervision and regulation.

This mainstream media promotion of 'imagination' is therefore hard to understand if imagination is considered in Tolkien's terms of mythic subcreation; of a world that has the feel of primary reality: a secondary world that feels real because it resonates with the primary world and mobilizes the same emotions.


In fact, modern culture's concept of imagination is almost the opposite of Tolkien's subcreation and of spontaneous myth.

Myth is valued because it feels realer than the real; and thereby refreshes contact with the real. 

It is a world in which the transcendental goods - truth, beauty, and virtue - are seen in primary colours.

Truth is truer, beauty more beautiful and virtue is uncompromising. 

And myth is constrained - it has a sense of inevitability about it, a sense of order, purpose, meaning.

In particular, myth is animistic - the characters in myths inhabit a reality where the human is in relationship not just with other humans, but with the world, where the world is sentient.


But modern imagination - as propagated in the mass media - is thin, flat, unbounded.

The modern imagination is not a world that answers the question 'why' but instead a world that continually propounds the question 'why not'.

Modern imagination is in fact a tool of transcendental inversion; it is the depiction of a world in which the transcendental goods are reversed.


Modern imagination therefore constitutes a hijacking and channeling of the individual imagination to drive it outside of ('beyond') traditional, mythical, religious bounds.

While traditional myth creates a subworld that begins with the essential and spontaneously human and allows its untrammeled expansion; modern imagination does the opposite: creates a subworld that subverts the essentially humane and weakens the spontaneous by depicting transgressive novelties.

And that is why the modern politically correct world pushes what it terms 'imagination'.


While the traditional concept of myth is reactionary, aiming to recover lost meaning and purpose; the modern concept of imagination is exactly the opposite, being a revolutionary means to the end of weakening the mythical.


So, to modern culture, imaginative products are shock troops of political correctness, softening-up the enemy (the traditional mythical relation between individual consciousness and the external world); and doing so not by eliciting the imagination of its audience, but instead by coercively depicting the previously-unthought-because-spontaneously-unthinkable or resisted-because-bad/ repulsive/ dishonest.


Hence the value modern imagination places upon depiction of unbounded transgression and inversion; indeed 'depiction of unbounded transgression and inversion' is precisely what modern mainstream culture means by imagination.

Modern imagination does not, like subcreative myth, return us to the primary world refreshed and invigorated such that traditional good of bread and wine are restored to their original freshness; but returns us to the primary world jaded with the normal, and craving novelty.


Bureaucratic 'incentives' replace spontaneous meaning' and aims and objectives' replace innate purpose; because when spontaneous order is deliberately destroyed in the human mind, then real life (both primary reality and secondary alike) is drained of meaning and purpose.

And bureaucracy steps-in as the unrivalled source of order.

And this is the link between the relentless promotion of transgressive 'imagination', and the relentless growth of bureaucracy.

Imagination and bureaucracy are merely two sides of the politically correct coin: anti-human revolutionary imagination demolishes opposition to anti-human revolutionary bureaucracy.


Saturday, 25 December 2010

The Meaning of Xtmas


[This post, composed on Xtmas morning surrounded by wrapping paper, is to prove that I am a serious blogger now...]


As I sat in the Xtmas Eve carol service and listened to the message about how Jesus came to save the world from sin - I reflected yet again how meaningless this message seems in mainstream modern culture.

Save us from sin - but the word 'sin' to a secular modern means only two things - neither of which requires Jesus to 'save' us.


The first to come to mind are sexual sins.

But modern people nowadays 'know' that sexual sins are arbitrarily defined and can be redefined at will; and indeed many people have lived to seen illegal sins made into privileged virtues promoted by government and media propaganda and rewarded by legal protection, high status, jobs, promotions, fame and honours.

So, it seems we don't need Jesus to 'save' us from this kind of sin, when the State and media can (apparently) easily and swiftly make any sin into a virtue.

(Alas, however, only by making the opposing virtue into a sin - but leave that aside, no doubt that too can be fixed, if necessary, at some time in the future...)


The other thing that springs into a modern secular mind at the mention of sin is selfish people being mean to other people: humiliating them, impoverishing, torturing them - making them into victims.

Yet, of course, the solutions to victimhood for moderns is not Jesus but (again) The State, especially State bureaucracies; who (at least  by the own measurements) claim to be the solution to all forms of selfishness, and to create an eternal mandatory and universal altruism - which is (apparently, 'objectively') far better than Christianity since it does not depend on such labile and contingent factors as personal repentance.

So we don't need Jesus to save us from that kind of sin, either. 


We absolutely need to re-conceptualize virtue and sin in terms of attitude, disposition, outlook, focus, perspective.

Sin not as wrong behaviours but a wrong relation to the world.

A matter of wrongness in the basic outlook on the world, the understanding of man's place in the scheme of things, of the human condition.

Virtue consists in a proper understanding of man's place in the world, which includes an understanding of his ultimate prupose in life.

(This ultimate purpose is 'theosis'.)

The great sin of modernity is its perspective and focused purely on this world, and ultimately focused on the subjective individual: that the human condition is seen as a matter of feelings and emotions.


Modern secular ethics are no more than an extension of this selfish subjectivism: what is good is (merely) what I feel to be good.

What is good is what it makes me feel good to regard as good.

And (of course) this is purely a matter of human innards: of physiology and psychology (and ultimately psychology reduces to physiology).


Humans could be, and are, manipulated (either by others, or self-manipulated) to feel good about something and bad about another thing; and the polarity can be reversed: all it requires is to be able to control how people feel and to link the feeling to an entity; and what else is the media, what else is pharmacology, what else is popular art, propaganda and the mass media?


Sin is this situation.

Sin is the situation where how we feel is ultimate human reality, and how we feel is known to be contingent and means nothing: sin is that ultimate reality is nothing

Sin is to embrace this nothingness as reality, to propagandise that nothingness is reality, to denigrate anything which saves us from nothingness.


And that is the reason we need to be 'saved'.

And this is the reason why we cannot save ourselves.

We need to be saved from nothingness, and from those who brainwash us into a belief in nothingness, and from ourselves who propagate that reality is nothingness.

Sin is to embrace nothingness.

We do not need to be told by Christianity that this is the state of sin (and we do not need to be told which behaviours are sinful and which are virtuous).

(None of that is of the essence.)

And to understand Christianity is to know that, if Christinaity is indeed true, then it does indeed save us.


But to understand the truth of Christianity, we cannot make a comparison with secular modernity because secular modernity does not even rise to the level of untruth - it has no coherence.

(How can it make sense to believe that reality is nothingness?).

Materialist secular modernity does not disprove Christianity, instead it renders thought impossible.

Secular  modernity does not disprove Christianity it (merely) makes Christianity incomprehensible, as it makes everything incomprehensible (science, beauty, art, morality)


So Jesus did come to save us from sin; but the modern concept of sin (and of everything else) is so hopelessly corrupted that we cannot understand what was obvious to all humans throughout history: we are pathetic, deluded and distracted creatures who cannot even understand the hopelessness, the nothingness of the human condition perceived from a wholly this-worldly and materialist perspective.


To Recap:

What do we need to be saved from?

What is 'this world of sin'?


Imagine a world of drugged dupes and drugging dealers, perpetually distracted by flashing lights and pictures when not flashing lights and pictures at others. By shouts and threats and tempting promises, by flattery and apology. Led by lust and hunger, the search for comfort and to escape pain; by a yearning for status, by the need for deference; and also crippled by guilt and a grasping for self-esteem, staggering from one temporary absorption to another. Of individuals controlled by alternating pain and pleasure (or the hope of pleasure and relief from pain), made to work by the crudest of carrots and sticks, or allowed not to work on condition of obedience, manipulated by each other into hatred or submissiveness. Let us call this the nightmare of nothingness.


We are indeed a world of victims, and at the same time we are a world of exploiters and would-be exploiters.

And at this level of analysis there can be no escape, no imaginable escape; because there is nowhere to escape to, and no-one to lead an escape; since all are - at root - in exactly the same situation.

In essence, Christianity is a profoundly mystical religion; it is about the human's relationship to reality.

Christianity is not about specific morals or arrangements: it is true everywhere, for anyone, in any situation; it happens (or does not happen) between us and Jesus Christ.

When we are saved, we are saved from the nightmare of nothingness. And we are saved by this relation between each human and God which is a relation above and beyond the nightmare of nothingness.


Everything else in Christianity if about helping us to escape the nightmare of nothingness and (by the process called theosis) moving us closer to communion with God.

That is the meaning of Xtmas - at least as we pathetic moderns can perceive it.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Small talk and political correctness


Small talk is mostly about media-generated topics, and such phatic speech is mostly a matter of alliance building and in-group/ out-group monitoring - therefore the range of acceptable opinions is narrowly constrained for each social group.

This is especially so for the ruling elite, where mastery of the approved (and continually evolving) ideology of political correctness is the major 'qualification' for membership.


For the modern PC elite, casual comment on the issues of the day therefore provides an exact analogy to manners and etiquette for the 19th century Victorians; it is a complex arena designed to elicit gaffes of faux pas and thereby to reveal, to expose, PC imposters.

(And, PC has brought-back the prudish Victorian phenomenon of 'Bowdlerization' of old texts - which 1960s radicals used to mock satirically, but which they now implement with gimlet-eyed zeal.)


Of course, those who are opposed to political correctness and who are honest, will not want to participate in small talk, since they would need to lie, and to lie convincingly, on an hourly basis - which could hardly fail to corrupt them.

Yet the alternatives to frequent social interaction with PC-monitors are not appealing.

Social isolation is one; social life confined within a niche of like-minded people would be greatly preferable - yet is not an option for many people, and carries the danger of being denounced by an infiltrator (it is dangerous - i.e. it carries potentially draconian sanctions - to speak certain truths in modern society).


For the ruling elite there is not much middle ground, therefore, between a 100 percent delusional system of PC (as seen in the New York Times, Harvard and the civil administration) and plain truthfulness.

Only a moderate and ingratiating (preferably self-deprecating) 'voice of pragmatism' is allowed: the stance that allows the best of intentions to political correctness but gently advises different tactics, or perhaps a temporary rest, or slower rate of 'progress' towards these ideals.

This is the niche filled by the right wing political parties - Republican, Conservative, Libertarian.

These views are not favoured by the PC elite, indeed they are strongly opposed. But at present these pragmatically-PC views lead only to moderate sanctions such as failure to attain jobs and promotions, and seldom to extreme sanctions such as sacking and prison (so long as the taboo subjects are avoided).


But - although they tend to delay the advent of PC-induced collapse - there is so little difference between being Republican/ Conservative/ Libertarian and being all-out-PC (since being RCL involves almost as much lying and transcendental inversion as being wholly-politically correct) that RCL ideologies hold little personal advantage to compensate for its many personal disadvantages.

This explains the continual political drift to the left in the major ruling systems (politics, media, civil administration, law etc.)


But we can see that the elite ruling intellectual systems are closing-in, becoming more extreme, excluding all but the most encapsulated and truth-proof PC-ideologues - or else members of approved groups who are exempt from these considerations.


This means that, at present, any non-PC members of the ruling elite either need to wear a mask at all times (which is very bad for their souls); or else accept exclusion from the mainstream, ruling elite community: accept, that is, either niche status or solitude - which is bad for them materially and socially.

Under such circumstances, those who can believe in political correctness will believe in political correctness; except insofar as PC comes into direct conflict with their primary values, those values which they will not compromise and for which they are prepared to suffer.


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

What's in a name: Liberalism or Political Correctness?


Why do I use the term Political Correctness, instead of Liberalism?

The reasons include:

1. The confusion over what 'liberalism' means - to some a free marketeer, to others a socialist.

2. Differences in usage between the UK and US: in the UK the Liberals are a strange mixture of business- and farming-friendly centrists with pacifist leftists of an upper middle class type; in the US Liberals are the furthest left of mainstream political ideologies.

3. That although PC clearly evolved from (what is in the US) called liberalism, PC is the outcome of a distinctive 'turn' in leftist politics, which became apparent in the mid-1960s. In its apparent, surface features PC is something new under the sun, never before seen in history.

4. The dawning realization that the phenomena collected together under the jokey term 'political correctness' was a vastly more robust and malignant thing than I had ever imagined.


So that what seemed either silly or trivial or both, will end by destroying that modernity which made PC possible in the first place.

Yet we can perceive now, in advance of all this, that even when PC is utterly swept-away it will be blind to what has happened, and to what it had done. PC will always see itself as being on the side of the angels, whatever its outcome may be. Its capacity for shifting blame is unconstrained.


It is a truly amazing thing, this political correctness; something so paltry, so puny, so soft - yet wreaking such devastation.

It seemed, therefore, worth discussing under its new name, as a phenomenon not truly new at its deepest level - but new in its combination of idealistic, delusional subjectivism with deadly, plodding bureaucracy.


Im-Personal reflections on the Medical Hypotheses Affair


A brief account of the Medical Hypotheses Affair may be found here:

But there is one general aspect which I learned from the experience, and which is - I think - worth further emphasis. 

This is the aspect of The Dog That Didn't Bark.


The Dogs whose silence throughout this episode was so highly significant were the editors of the major medical and scientific journals, indeed editors of all academic journals were silent.

Twenty five years ago there would, without any shadow of doubt, have been vigorous comment on the happenings at Medical Hypotheses from (say) the editors of Nature, Science, the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, the Lancet, the British Medical Journal and others.

And the gist of this would have been: publishers must keep their hands-off editorial independence.

Instead: silence.




The MeHy Affair was a very explicit and highly public example of a publisher intervening directly to over-ride the editor of an established scholarly journal.

This was not merely affecting the conduct of academic discourse, but directly shaping the content of published academic discourse.

In their actions towards Medical Hypotheses, the publishers (Reed-Elsevier - who publish about 20 percent of the world scholarly journals, and a higher proportion of those journals with high impact in their fields) decided what went into the scholarly literature and what did not.

More exactly, specific managers employed by a publishing corporation decided what went into the scholarly literature and what did not.


Precisely, the publishers of Medical Hypotheses acted unilaterally to withdraw two already-e-published  papers from a scholarly journal and delete them from the online records. 

And then (in the period of time leading up to the editor being sacked) Elsevier managers continued to filter-out papers that had been formally accepted for publication by the editor (in other words the papers were officially 'in the press') - but which these managers regarded as unacceptable in some way, and therefore withdrew from the publication process.

In other words, managers took direct control of the content of the published academic literature.


Why was The Silence of the Editors so significant?

In an abstract sense, Elsevier's behaviour contravened the basic established conduct of academic discourse - which is supposed to be independent of publishers and a matter decided between editors and scholars.

Indeed, this was, by a strict 'legalistic' definition, a direct breach of the principle of academic freedom.

So - even abstractly considered - it would be expected that leading journal editors would have raised objections to the corruption of academic discourse.


But there is a much more direct and personal reason to expect leading editors to comment.

Which is that condoning Elsevier's actions set a precedent for further instances whereby managers employed by publishers will simply over-ride editorial independence: managers will decide what gets into journals and what does not.

So, by remaining silent, each editor of each major journal made it more likely that in future their publisher would do the same to them as Elsevier did to me!


Why would leading editors of major journals condone such a thing?

There is a simple explanation: that they are afraid.

As in Vaclav Havel's Poster Test: the Silence of the Editors was a coded statement unambiguously (but deniably) meaning: "I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient".


So now we know that the editors of leading scholarly journals are not independent.

That editors of leading journals are already doing what publishers want.

That the editors of leading journals have accepted this situation as a fait accompli.


This particularly applies to The Lancet, which is published by Elsevier.

In the past, the Lancet was a fiercely, indeed aggressively, independent journal.

Past editors of the Lancet would not have imagined for a moment acceding to managerial pressure from publishers.

Clearly things have changed, and the current Lancet is happy to operate as a smokescreen for the publishers influence on the medical science literature.


Yet the current Lancet editors went one step further than merely acceding to pressure from the publishers, they actually assisted the publishers in over-riding editorial independence in a quasi rational manner.

The Lancet arranged a 'show trial ' whereby the papers which Elsevier management had withdrawn from Medical Hypotheses were 'refereed' by a group of anonymous persons such that it could be claimed that for the papers had been rejected by peer review.

This sham process was implemented by The Lancet, despite the blazingly obvious paradox that the main point of Medical Hypotheses was that it was an editorially reviewed - not peer reviewed; on the rationale that MeHy provided a forum for papers which would probably be rejected by peer review, but which justified publication as hypotheses for other reasons.

There is only one coherent conclusion: that the modern Lancet is a lap-dog of its publisher.


What did I conclude from the Dogs that did not bark?

I realized that science was in an even-worse state that I had previously recognized. That the level of corruption and deception went both deeper and further than I had previously recognized.

And that the role of major journals had moved beyond acquiescence with the forces of darkness and into actual collusion.

That, in fact, science was not just sick but in an advanced state of dissolution: and that indeed the head of the fish was by-now dead and already putrefied.


2010: The year in review


2010 has been, even before it ends, an exceptionally eventful year in terms of my ideas and beliefs.


The major psychological events of 2010 were (roughly in order):

Getting to grips with the Byzantine Empire; as a strong, enduring, extremely devout, and positive Christian society. 

Discovering the works of Fr. Seraphim (Eugene) Rose. I have gone on to read most of what he wrote and the massive biography by Hieromonk Damascene.

Via Seraphim Rose, discovering Eastern Orthodox Christianity - in particular the key doctrine of theosis (without which Christianity does not fully make sense).

Reading Blaise Pascal's Pensees.

Revising my opinion of the state of Science from 'critical' to 'dying'.

Understanding that Western societies' capability to 'control nature' has been declining for some decades.

Getting to the bottom of political correctness (more or less) and recognizing that it is enormously more powerful and pervasive than I had previously realized; that it has much deeper roots; and is essentially irreversible from within mainstream Western society.


2010 feels like much more than a year in terms of psychological development.


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Political correctness replaces intuition with imagination


Intuition is built-into humans.

We come into the world equipped with intuitions (or 'common sense'): with knowledge and dispositions; and these - combined with reason - are what we use (or are meant to use) to make sense of the world and understand what we should try to do.

On top of this - for some people, in some places, comes divine revelation - but this too is meant to be built upon intuitions.


Modernity in its most recent guise of political correctness challenges intuitions and erodes common sense by (in effect) demonstrating that this intuition is not always true, that common sense may sometimes be mistaken; then having dispensed with common sense asking asking each person to imagine what might instead be the case.

Even if it is possible merely to imagine that an intuition might be untrue, sometimes, under some circumstances; then the assumption may follow that it is not true at all.

And if intution is un-true (or could be) then 'therefore' anything might be true.


Intuitions are constrained, and are indeed often universal.

Imagination, by contrast, is unconstrained - because imagination can be supported by rhetoric, depictions in art, social pressure - by many things.

So we get a vaunting of imagination and a denigration of intuition.

We are asked to imagine all sorts of things; then, having cognitively-modelled, having played-out these imaginations in our own minds and in public discourse, we may soon come to 'believe in' these imaginations - especially when these imaginings are not contradicted or when apparent contradictions can be re-framed as harmonious by further imagination.


The logic is perfectly captured in John Lennon's song where the listener is asked to 'imagine' that: there's no heaven above us (but only sky) and no hell below us; all the people living for today; there are no countries and nothing to kill or die for; no religion; all the people living life in peace; no possessions; no need for greed or hunger; all the people sharing all the world.

The listener is told that the exercise is easy "if you try" (and of course the song helps in this), and is cautioned not to reject the message on the basis that the the singer is a dreamer; but informed (perfectly correctly) that the singer is "not the only one" to imagine these things, and that he hopes someday the listener will join all these dreamers "and the world will live as one."


Leaving aside the specific depiction of life as ideally a matter of inert inaction; the logic is that if you can imagine something, and can get other people to imagine along with you, then anything is possible.

And this is, of course, so dominant a feature of mainstream culture as to be an utterly banal platitude.

The credo: If you can imagine something, and if you really want it enough, then it will happen.

The idea is that the limits of possibility are set only by the limits of imagination and belief.


While individual imagination and belief and desire are rather feeble and labile in most individual people; they can seem limitless in scope and ambition when supported by the massive strength of the public discourse generated by the modern mass media.

When you are convinced that you are 'not the only one', then everything feels possible.


So, on the one hand we have this vast and unbounded sense of possibility and on the other the very specific and probabilistic intuitions of common sense.

So imagination displaces intuition; and a bird in the bush is worth any number of birds in the hand - since birds in the hand are known and circumscribed; while there might be (and you cannot prove that there are not) any number of birds in the bush - and these birds may have attributes as vast as the scope of one's imagination (aided by the promptings of the mass media).

And if you really want these imagined birds enough, then (we are told) you will get them.


And so our culture of political correctness leaves the narrowly constrained path of reality for the infinite horizons of delusion.


Why cannot political correctness defend itself?


Political correctness cannot defend itself - it is continually doing things (like encouraging sustained mass immigration, destroying military and police capability, damaging economic growth, and bureaucratically controlling the media) which make its own extinction inevitable. 

But why?


There are several reasons. 

One is the dishonesty and wishful thinking that is intrinsic to PC: the way that it confuses imagination for reality (believing that if you can imagine it - it really can be). 

But deeper than this is that for PC there is nothing to defend - no 'self' to defend.


Political correctness regards any current state as contingent and transitional and evolutionary; such that humans are an accidental product of history (and evolution) with no essence, continually changing. 

This is seen most starkly in transhumanism; whereby humans are regarded as wholly 'plastic' entities. 

The baseline reality - explicitly in transhumanism but implicitly for PC - is human gratification.

So that when humans become miserable due to societal changes, there are two possibilities: change the society or change the humans.


Since everything changes, is changeable and can be changed; there is no essence of anything to defend: nowhere to draw a line or to take a stand: no reason to take a stand.

No nation, civilization, society nor persons. Only processes.


For transhumanism, the focus is on changing humans - the focus is technical: by drugs, by implants, genetic engineering etc. 

For PC the focus is on changing society to make humans happy - but there is also a very strong focus on changing human minds; not so much by technology applied to the human organism, but by technology applied to the human mind: by totalizing propaganda - to the point of thought-control - the complete exclusion of contradictory expression.


So, for political correctness, there is always a belief in the fall-back position that if society goes against the aspirations of political correctness, then PC propaganda can change human minds, which are regarded as radically plastic, such that people still believe in PC reality despite whatever may appear to contradict it.

If the real-reality is that society has become progressively taken-over by non-PC forces that have been encouraged by PC, then the virtual-reality world can be made primary.

Real-reality will be ignored and suppressed and PC virtual-reality will fill people's minds.

This step has, of course, been reached in several communist societies in the past and in current existence - as depicted in a favourite Brezhnev era Russian joke:


Lenin, Stalin and Brezhnev were stuck in a railway train.

A porter came to speak: 

"Bad news, Comrades, the train won’t move! The passengers are getting restless".

Lenin said: "Take the railway staff and subject them to a full Marxist education, that will do the trick".

The porter returned: 

"Bad news, Comrades, the train will still not move, the passengers are getting angry".

Stalin said: 

"Take the driver, fireman and guard and shoot them as an example to the others, that will do the trick".

The porter returned: 

"Bad news, Comrades, the train still won’t move, the passengers are starting to fight".

Brezhnev said: 

"Paint the windows black and tell the passengers that the train is moving".


Under political correctness we are now well advanced into the stage of Paint the windows black and tell the passengers that the train is moving.


And it works: the 'down the memory hole' phenomenon is only one extreme example of the phenomenon which includes selective reporting, selective emphasis, and slanderous insinuation and invention.


Also very important to PC is fiction and 'faction' (a combination of facts and fiction: i.e. nearly-all supposedly true movies, drama, reportage and TV). 

It is basic undergraduate psychology teaching that the human mind retains knowledge but forgets the provenance of knowledge.

Much of what we think we 'know' about things was actually derived from politically correct fiction, movies, soaps, art, pseudo-documentary and so on.

This is, indeed, the mainstay of PC propaganda. We are shown a blend of facts, fiction and fantasy, but we remember it all as facts.


Indeed, it has been shown that you can tell somebody a falsehood, and tell them explicitly that it is indeed a falsehood, yet the person are more likely than random to remember the falsehood but not the fact that it was false - so they remember explicit falsehoods as if they were facts. That is how memory works.

So a person can be set to learn some facts - some labelled true some labelled false - including the falsehood that the tallest mountain in the world is in Pakistan.

Then when that person is examined a few days later with a true-false test, they are more likely than chance to answer that the tallest mountain in the world is in Pakistan.


This phenomenon is going on all the time and is probably the most powerful form of indirect PC propaganda. 

Hundreds of violently shocking movies and TV programs about fictional racist militant white supremacist organizations leaves behind in millions of minds the 'knowledge' that RMWSOs are a real and significant feature of modern societies: people remember the (false) fact, but do not remember the fictional/ fantasy provenance of the information.

A blend of mostly facts with a few falsehoods in a memorable fantasy is therefore the most effective propaganda.

Human memory remembers the whole thing as factual, and does not discriminate between true and fictional elements.


But what PC neglects is that this level of thought control is only possible with a huge and pervasive mass media, such that the vast and universal diet of daily novelty actually drives-out natural human and community memories (a situation which was not possible in the Communist societies, where media was vestigial, and people retained a knowledge of real-reality based on personal experience).

PC defends nothing - not even its key instrument of social control. It sees no problems, it feels omnipotent. PC is built-upon blindness to real-reality and arrogance concerning the power of virtual-reality: and the greater the achieved success of PC the greater its blindness and arrogance.

At its moment of greatest triumph PC will be destroyed by unseen and ignored counter-forces

(Just as pacifism would only be safe in a world of 100 percent devout pacifists, and a single aggressor group could take-over all pacifist groups; so PC could only be safe in a 100 percent world of devout PC - and we are even-further away from that than we are from a world of pacifists.)


When PC destroys the growth in size and pervasiveness and attention-grabbing qualities of the mass media - as it surely will - when the media is taken-over by bureaucracy and made less efficient and less effective; when the media becomes more overtly PC; when it becomes centrally-regulated and censored of all non-PC elements; when the media comes under the control of intolerant non-PC groups that are favoured by PC - then political correctness will of course lose its ability to influence the population: will lose the ability to convince the population that 'the train is moving.'

Media-derived virtual-reality will melt-away, experienced real-reality will reassert itself.

And that will be an end of PC. 


Sunday, 19 December 2010

Should Western Civilization be saved? (even if it could be saved)


It is purportedly the baseline belief of the Secular Right that the major goal of conservative or reactionary politics should be to 'save' Western Civilization.

Yet this is not a coherent belief, nor is it possible, nor is it desirable.


Western Civilization is not a 'First Thing' as C.S. Lewis defined it; it is not a primary aim: it is a secondary outcome.

Western Civilization is not the kind of thing that can be 'saved', or defended, or anything else.

Whatever 'it' is (whatever 'Western Civilization' legitimately includes or excludes) nobody created Western Civilization on purpose - it is a by-product.

And, as Lewis said in his essay 'First and Second Things' (see link above) - if you do try to aim directly at attaining or defending a Second Thing as if it was a First Thing, then you will both fail to achieve and save it; and also end by actively destroying it.


The big problem is that it is precisely Western Civilization which created Communism, Socialism, Liberalism, and Political Correctness; 'modern art'; 'human rights'; pacifism - it is Western Civilization which is destroying itself.

The counter currents have always been there - at least since the Great Schism of a millennium since - and the counter-current has now overwhelmed the main current.


The self-destroying aspects of the West have always been there, and they permeate or are woven-into the whole.

Western Civilization has always been changing -  not merely superficially, but deeply. It has never been stable - not even for two generations in a row.

The West is continually becoming more abstract, more specialized, less Christian. 

There is no evidence that The West ever could be stable - and everything suggests the opposite.


Furthermore, all of those abstract attributes which the Secular Right wants to preserve in Western Civilization are complicit in the decline: freedom of choice/selfishness; democracy/ mob rule; freedom of consciousness/ secularism; philosophy-science/ rational bureaucracy; art/ subversion; freedom of lifestyle/ moral inversion; kindness/ cowardice; an open and accessible mass media/ the primacy of virtual reality ... the whole lot.


The West is perpetually in transition: it has no essence: it is evolutionary.

Those who set out their stall on defending 'Western Civilization' are therefore either defending a process (markets, democracy, 'the Open Society'), and an evolutionary process which might lead anywhere, including to self-destruction of Western Civilization (as, in my opinion, it already has)....

Or else they are really defending some other bottom line entity that is not Western Civilization and would quite likely dispense with Western Civilization at some point in the future: e.g. a nation or group of nations, a race, a ruling lineage (e.g. of monarchs, or castes)... the preservation of which might well necessitate at some point dispensing with what are currently 'Western values'.

In other words, if you favour a process (like democracy, sexual freedom) you must be prepared to sacrifice an entity (like a nation or a race): if you favour an entity you must be prepared to dispense with processes.

So, I am saying that it is strictly nonsense - and destructive nonsense - to claim to be defending Western Civilization.


People can only get away with this absurd claim to be defending Western Civilization (get away with it in their own minds, as much as the public arena) because Western Civilization is so obviously collapsing so fast; and because this process is being accelerated by an evil, blind and insane politically correct elite who apparently must be opposed - somehow - although with little chance of short-term success. 

But the Secular Right is trying to keep its cake and to eat it: to retain the residual and declining bits of modernity, the counter-currents that it personally values (especially sexual freedom); but at the same time to dispense with what is now the (dominant) flow of modernity.


So, there is a pressing need for defence of the Western social system against imminent threats to survival, and to fight the present and future-looming succession of political crisis - each of opens Western nations to their enemies and any of which is sufficient to destroy it.

(Indeed, a major source of conflict on the reactionary right is which of the many lethal problems approaching the West will be the first actually to kill the West. There are so many dangers of such great dangerousness, that we don't really know which is the most pressingly dangerous!)

But deeper than this is the relentless and almost-wholly successful use of  distraction and indifference to deal with the existential realities of the human condition, the use of media technologies and virtual realities as an alternative to having meaning and purpose in life.

The Secular Right is, I am afraid, merely Saruman attempting to use Sauron's Ring to fight Sauron; all its tactics to defend what it regards good are simultaneously (but in other places) strengthening the forces of destruction.


There is enough to suggest that the Left is indeed the main line of a Western Civilization which is pre-programmed to self-destruction; while the Right is merely imposing temporary corrections which save the West in the short term but only at the cost of entrenching its long-term and underlying errors.

The West cannot be saved.

There is nothing to save; and anyway The West has self-destruction built-in, woven-in, pervasive.

How can you save something which so much wants to kill itself?

Take your eye off Western Civilization for just a moment and it will be swinging from the rafters with its own belt around its neck...


Friday, 17 December 2010

A comment on comments


I am not a huge fan of comments on blogs.

Indeed, when I first began looking at blogs and for quite a while, I was put-off reading several blogs (despite enjoying the postings) because of the comments.

The postings might be good, but the world of the comments that followed them was horrific.


So, in general I heartily dislike most comment sections on most blogs - especially popular blogs.

I find it hard to resist looking at the comments, but almost always wish that I had not.

I often leave a blog having had the good effects of the posting removed, and sometimes reversed, by the bad effects of the comment section.


Comments are best on small blogs with a keen readership; and I most enjoy the style of heavily-controlled commenting which is used by (for example) Lawrence Auster at View from the Right and Laura Wood at Thinking Housewife.

The blog and the edited comments combine to make a final product.

(Victims of my policy will be amused to know that Auster never prints my comments! I still read his blog daily. My attitude is that Auster knows best what works for his blog.) 

On the other hand there are some commenters whose stuff I always look forward to reading - and some of these favourites have become active on this blog, I'm delighted to say!


It is clear that just as some people blog in order to develop their thoughts, so the same applies to some commenters.

I used to do this myself, before I became a regular blogger. I have one or two commenters here who are clearly developing their own ideas in interaction with this blog, whose ideas interest me, and I am usually happy for this to be done in the comments section.

Yet the commenting should be complementary to my purpose in each blog posting; or at least should not diminish or sabotage it.


This is why I am so ruthless about filtering comments - generally rejecting as many or more than I publish.

I don't print angry comments, or hostile ones, or ones which do not share my basic premises, or ones which are (for me) just a re-hash of opinions which I myself used to hold but have since changed.

I don't print comments which tend to create the kind of atmosphere that I dislike. 

And a comment may be fine in and of itself - but may (in my opinion) detract in some way from the post; may indeed undermine what I conceive to be the purpose of the post.


Being so fussy, I am lucky that people can be bothered to comment at all! - because I have certainly benefited from many of the published comments, as well as some of the unpublished ones.

But anyway, this is a partial explanation for those commenters - including regulars - who have submitted a comment which seemed innocuous but which never appeared.


Libels on Christianity: Christ sends bad people to 'hell'/ there is no 'hell'


One of the most devilish inversions concerning the modern concept of Christianity is that Jesus Christ came to Earth to send 'sinners' to 'hell' - where sinners means bad people who break the rules, and hell means a place created by God to torment people (with fire etc).

Christians who accept this characterization of Christianity then feel that they have to say that there is no hell, and everyone will go to heaven.


(Presumably (on this view) people go to heaven whether they like it or not, whether they believe it or not, whether they choose heaven or not. Presumably (on this view) God is seen as being like a modern 'nanny state' bureaucrat who knows what is best for other people, and so makes decisions for them, runs their life for them, and then tells them - repeatedly - that they are happy about it...).


(Presumably hell was all a big, two thousand year delusion, inflicted by evil priests hoodwinking a gullible populace into obedience to their arbitrary dictates. Or maybe it was a misinterpretation, a basic misunderstanding, which we theologically sophisticated moderns can see straight-through... Sarcasm Alert!)


Of course some Christians themselves may say something like this, when pushed into a corner, but really - it is unreasonable to expect everybody to have a perfectly coherent and explicit theology - and most of these people are probably, mainly concerned with trying to avoid the greater danger of moral relativism. Would we expect every devout Marxist accurately (and at the drop of a hat, in the heat of a hostile debate) to be able to expound the details of their master's philosophy?


My point is quite simple. Hell was in existence before Christ was incarnated (presumably, in existence since The Fall).

Hell was where all souls (everybody's soul) went after death, and was called Sheol (by the ancient Jews) or Hades (by the ancient Greeks).

It was a place of shadows, ghosts, probably a lack of free will - which might mean that dead souls cannot make free choices, and therefore cannot be saved by their own choices.

So, everybody's soul went to 'hell' after death, and it was a state from which there was no-way-out because 1. souls could not get-out of their own free will, having none; and 2. there was nobody to rescue them.  


Christ came to offer the chance of a rescue from this universal human fate to those who chose, of their own free will, to take this chance on the conditions he made (acknowledging Christ as Lord, love, humility and so on).

For people to remain themselves (i.e. not to be merely crushed into unfree obedience by superior strength), people cannot, should not, be forced to accept this offer.

So people are still free to do as was always the case before Christ - they may not believe the offer, they may not believe in souls, or Sheol, or they may not want to pay the price.

Hell is therefore, as it was since The Fall, the default state for human souls; by contrast heaven (i.e. becoming like God through communion with God) is merely a chance, an option, an offer, made not because we personally deserve it, but because of God's love, or Grace.

This is why the Gospel was good news; that is why it was a rescue, that is what is meant by Jesus saving souls.


But all this is a long way from the popular libellous notion that Christianity is essentially about God coming to earth as Christ to start a regime the essence of which was the novel technological sanction of this freshly-constructed prison/ torture chamber as a punishment for human disobedience to his recently-devised laws.


I wonder where that falsehood might have come from?

I also wonder why so many people are so keen to believe that falsehood? 

Actually, I don't wonder...


The Placebo effect has become a gross and common error


The idea, to which I have at times subscribed and for which I have argued, that medicine pre-about 1900 was merely a matter of elaborate placebo effects - is a gross error, and a near-universal one among intellectuals.


In fact, for a medical treatment to be merely a placebo effect is exceedingly rare. Most treatments have an effect, and if a treatment is being freely chosen (if) then it is likely that in some way and in some people the effect is having some benefits.

(Of course the treatment may benefit other people rather than the patient - as when neuroleptics/ antipsychotics make crazy (or supposedly-crazy) people into docile anhedonic Zombies by inducing Parkinson's disease. This doesn't help the patient, but can be useful for other people. It is, at least, not a placebo effect.)


Unless, that is, we believe that modern methods of treatment evaluation have transcended those of the past.

A proposition for which there is essentially zero positive evidence and a vast mass of negative evidence: those with eyes to see can observe that medical progress first stalled then went into reverse.

That is, the discovery of effective new treatments - obvious, in-your-face breakthroughs like antibiotics, steroids, hormone treatment - got slower, then stopped.

And now the trend is to eliminate effective treatments.

The 'evidence' against this common sense observation comes from precisely the evaluation methodologies whose validity is being questioned.


Anyone who knows how modern medicines are developed and launched - the endemic dishonesty, careerism and politicization, the narrowness of 'evidence' evaluated, the inappropriateness of evaluation methods - will realize that the methods are grossly inferior to the 'common sense' evaluations of the past.

(Surgery and anesthetics are in a different situation from medicine - I am unsure of the balance of progress here; but major technical breakthroughs were occurring at least up to the development of endoscopic surgery a few decades ago.)


To believe that past medicine was merely an elaborate placebo is to believe that everyone in the past was an idiot - specifically that everyone in the past was either an idiotic victim (patients) or an evil and exploitative idiot (doctors).

That there were situations in which medicine was ineffective or harmful is not in doubt - but the further inference that all medical interventions were ineffective or harmful is an unjustifiable induction.

So when we look back on the methods used, it is quite wrong to assume that they were at best useless and more often harmful, or to assume that their usefulness can be explained purely by the power of suggestion.

This is, indeed, the same habitual style of thinking which gives us political correctness; with its regular transcendental inversions: the previously immoral becoming first neutral then morally approved; the previously ugly or neutral becoming redefined as 'art' - and so on.

This is possible and habitual become we have come to believe that everyone in the past were evil idiots and ignorant dupes, so that thousands of years of human experience can be - must be - wiped clean; and a fresh start made on the basis of radical doubt.


This matter of evaluating truth is indeed a core factor in political correctness; and in the decline of the West.

The insight that humans may be mistaken in their evaluations is sophomoric, if indeed it rises to that level.

But this 'insight' that individual judgment may be wrong has been used as an excuse (not a reason) to develop vast edifices of pseudo-technical evaluation to replace potentially-flawed individual judgment.

Now we have vast edifices of pseudo-technical - but actually arbitrary - evaluation which provide mandatory regulations for imposition upon medicine: especially government departments such as the FDA in the US, NICE and the Cochrane Collaboration in the UK,and many others.

All of these operate on the false logic that because individual judgment may be wrong, and because people in the past were sometimes wrong; their procedures are always right - or, at least, set a limit upon error. Yet they do not even do this.


Elaborate but arbitrary bureaucratic systems of medical evaluation run by officials making decisions for other people actually enable error to be unbounded and everlasting; whereas individual judgments of many people who take the personal consequences of their personal decisions are subject to corrective feedback.

A bureaucracy which deems that neuroleptic drugs are a necessary treatment for psychotic  people can continue to damage their lives without limit; psychiatric judgment of the same is subject - at least - to the feedback of observing the lives destroyed; people who take these drugs are well aware of the problems.

Similarly for forbidden treatments. Heroin is illegal in the USA, and those people suffering agonizing pain which is sub-optimally treated are the ones who pay the price for this example of bureaucratic take-over. So in the USA heroin is available (illegally) for anybody and everybody except the people who most need it (people in hospital with extreme pain). And this situation has been operative for many decades with no sign of corrective feedback.


Why does our culture assume that official bureaucracies are intrinsically better at making decisions than individual human beings?

Why does our culture assume that the evaluation of medical treatments is best done by elaborate procedures administered by regulatory bureaucracies?

And, further, that the choice of medical procedures is best done by elaborate procedures administered by regulatory bureaucracies?


These are all the same phenomena at different levels: this assumption is close to being the core of political correctness, and (at a certain level of analysis) is a major factor in the decline of the West.

Indeed, the decline of the West is itself something that - according to mainstream culture - can be allowed to exist only if and when recognized by elaborate procedures administered by regulatory bureaucracies.

Indeed the anti-humanity of modernity, of political correctness, is itself regarded as untrue unless and until validated by elaborate procedures administered by regulatory bureaucracies.


As I keep saying (Ho Hum!) - political correctness cannot reform itself; it is disproof proof, it is invulnerable to contradictory evidence on principle as well as in practice.