Friday, 30 September 2011

JW Dunne and CS Lewis


I already knew, from his incomplete story The Dark Tower that Lewis had read JW Dunne - and this was also an interest of Tolkien's, and probably the subject of Inklings discussion.

I have found further evidence of critical engagement with JW Dunne's ideas, and of Lewis's interest in Time in a collection of short memoirs and pieces about Lewis, recommended me by commenter Dale (thanks).

The discussion described below was more than a decade after the Inklings Thursday evening meetings had ceased - indicating a prolonged interest in Time on the part of Lewis, even after he had ceased to meet Tolkien regularly.


From We Remember CS Lewis edited by David Graham, 2001.

From the chapter by Daniel Morris - Encounter in a Two-Bit Pub. Describing a conversation between Graham and Lewis in 1959. This passage derives from a letter written shortly after the conversation.


Then he asked me what I was doing in England. Thence to mathematics, biochemistry, and the fourth dimension.

He was much interested in the latter, and wanted to know if I knew of Hinton's ideas, including the one that with enough practice you can actually visualize the fourth dimension.

I said that with all my practice, I can work with the figures easily enough, but not visualize them - it can't be done.

He was insisting that the whole idea is pure imagination (he's read Hinton and Dunne and Ouspenski and Abbot) like the square root of minus one. And I wasn't willing to make it that imaginary, considering curvature of space, for example, which seems to be experimentally true - and meaningless, unless the universe really is four dimensional. 

He went into Dunne a good bit (that is, JW Dunne: An experiment in time, published in 1925) and he doesn't see (neither do I) why Dunne had to postulate an infinity of times at right angles to one another. Two times would cover he whole thing. Granted, that leaves a mystery as to what makes the thing run, but Dunne simply puts that off at infinity. 

And thence to previsions, and to extrasensory perception, and predestination (...)

In the course of our talk about Dunne, and such, he said it was a shame we couldn't control the rate of flow of time.

As it was, the clock was rapidly moving on towards half past seven, and the end of this delightful talk he was having with me.



Timeless eternity, serial eternity, endless serial time, finite serial time


There seems to be a hierarchy as follows:

1. Timeless, unchanging eternity percieved all at once - the perspective of God.

2. Eternity experienced serially - the perspective of angels, and Sons of God (i.e. immortal resurrected humans).

3. Unending serial time - the perspective of unsaved souls.

4. Finite serial time, such as humans live in before they die, while on earth.


Christian salvation seems to be the promise of a transition from the fourth to the second category (aka Heaven); damnation is the transition from the fourth to the third category (aka Hell).

A difference between unending serial time and eternity experienced serially is related to the sense of duration.

Unending serial is like time on earth but going on forever, experienced by a disembodied soul (a soul severed from its body).

Eternity experienced serially has no subjective duration, no sense of 'time passing'. Experience is added-to serially, the self is changed and 'updated', but the the resulting state is instantaneously apprehended.


So, a choice before us at the end of finite time relates to either staying the same as you are forever, versus being transformed into a different kind of state (while retaining selfhood).

The temptation of pride is to stay the same and do what you will; to reject what you are and trust you will be made better and do God's will (not your own) requires humility - and Love of God.


On this model, the problem was how to bridge from eternity experienced serially to finite serial time.

The incarnation of Jesus Christ brought eternity into time - fusing eternity and time; and His death and resurrection provided a 'template' for the transition to eternity experienced serially, as a possibility 'from then onward' (as we say who live in time).


I imagine this working somewhat like a morphic field as described by Sheldrake, or a strong attractor in chaos theory -

The above is, like all human attempts to understand reality, a metaphor - maybe helpful, maybe misleading - ignore if the latter.


Thursday, 29 September 2011

Is death a bad thing?


The ancient (pagan/ non-monotheistic) view was that death was a bad thing because the soul survived it and the state of the surviving soul was miserable. Without the body, the soul was maimed.

Various ideas existed about what happened to the soul: a ghostly half existence, some kind of recycling of souls - reincarnation, progression towards the end of unconsciousness and extinction, some kind of eternal/ recurring version of aspects of life in this world...


The orthodox Christian view is that death is a bad thing because the soul is unnaturally severed from the body - but that it may leads to a good thing when/ if the soul is purified and given a perfected new body (to dwell in a new place).


The modern atheistic views are that either that death is a bad thing because the soul does not exist, therefore death is the end of everything for that person;

...or that death is a matter of indifference for exactly the same reason that death is the end of everything, so there is nothing to be afraid of - just like going to sleep and not waking.


Another modern atheistic view is that religious people are wishful thinkers because they make-believe that death is not the end of everything, not extinction.

This leads on to the modern atheistic view that the survival of the soul would (obviously, they think) be a good thing - and that religious people believe this because they want it to be true (which - according to atheists - it isn't).


My point is that ancient pagans believed death was a bad thing because the soul survived, while modern atheists believe death is a bad thing because the soul does not survive.

This is because traditionally the meaning of death was the end of the body and continuation of the soul; while in modernity the meaning of death is the end of both soul and body together.


The idea that death is, or ought to be, a matter of indifference is - if genuine - an aspect of advanced nihilism - in that life is also, then, a matter of indifference: if death does not matter then this can only be because life has no meaning or purpose and human relationships are unimportant.

So, to fear death (end of the body) and regard it as a bad thing is the natural and spontaneous human attitude - it is the universal human problem for which Christianity offers a solution.

To try and alleviate the fear of the end of the body by trying also to believe in the end of the soul - to regard death as irreversible annihilation of individuality - is a different matter, and one so unnatural and unspontaneous to humans that we hardly know what to make of it, what conclusions to draw from it.

Does the annihilation of the individual by death invalidate everything, and render life an illusion; or is finite life thereby made more precious - and if so to whom is it precious?


From the perspective of our own subjectivity, does the presumed annihilation of the soul with the body by death render consciousness and life more precious - in which case we should sleep as little as possible, and remain alert and aware of the preciousness of life and never dull our minds, and never be distracted or do trivial things, and always be doing meaningful, beautiful, virtuous things (all Mozart, no muzak)...

Or does the presumed annihilation of the soul with the body by death mean that - since everything is going to be swept away and nothing remain - then we should try not to think about it. We should, like a Zen aspirant, aim at indifference.

(The modern version of Zen is to attain a state of indifference by continual distraction - mostly technological. The mind is emptied by being continually filled with compelling-nothings.)


Yet there an opposite snare: to value life beyond or after death (heaven) so much that this life becomes an irrelevance.

The idea that if this world is such an imperfect thing, if the world is such a sinful wasteland  then the sooner we are done with it the better: the attitude of let me die and go to heaven.

This state of belief is unusual, and is perhaps a snare only for the advanced religious - yet it cannot be right, it must be incomplete - or else life on earth is merely a waste of time, and why would it be part of the divine plan to waste our time?


The true answer must account for the meaning and significance of life on earth before death of the body, recognizing that there can only be meaning in life if there is also meaning in death; and that the meaning of death include the meaning of life; and without meaning in death their can be no meaning in life.


So most normal people (of whatever religion or non-religion) will rightly continue to fear the change of state brought about by death - and Christians will hope for something much better beyond that change.


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

What was the happiest civilization in history?


The answer depends on how the question is interpreted.

My interpretation is that society is happiest which would not swap their situation for any other.

A society that is not nostalgic for a better past nor anticipating a better future, nor jealous of any other society elsewhere.


This answer excludes pre-civilization hunter-gatherers - who were probably the happiest people ever to have lived (no matter where they happened to be).


My answer is: Constantinople through much of the Byzantine Empire (most periods from the foundation to 1204).

The reason these people can objectively be defined as the happiest in history is that they are probably the only significant mass of population (not just a particular class) over a significant timescale of several generations who would not have swapped their situation for anywhere else in the world, past, present, or elsewhere.


The Byzantines believed they were living in the City of God, in a replica heaven-on-earth: not the real heaven, of course - not perfect by any means - but a model and a preparation for the real heaven.

Whoever the Emperor was, they were ruled by the thirteenth Apostle, Christ's Vicegerent - chosen by God for their own benefit and salvation: and whatever their own positions in the earthly hierarchy, this was a divinely-ordained hierarchy.


Not coincidentally, this was the most devoutly Christian society of any size and duration; every life was permeated with prayer, worship and ritual; with passion, beauty, sublimity.

For the Byzantines, there was nowhere that the grass was greener than Constantinople.


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Division of labour - the rise and fall of The West


As Adam Smith first made clear, continually-increasing division of labour is the key to continually-increasing productivity - DoL is necessary but not sufficient to modernity.

(Division of Labour can also be seen as cognitive specialization)

I am continually struck by the way in which this key to the rise of the West is also the key to its collapse.


The West began with the primary division of 'labour' between Church and State - and the process has proceeded incrementally ever since.

Presumably, at some point there was an optimal division of labour - which had the best balance between efficiency of units and cohesion between units - but that point has long ago been passed as the number of units has expanded exponentially, and now there is neither efficiency nor cohesion - as can be seen most unambiguously in science.


Consider the current world crisis. It is not going to be solved because there is nobody - no powerful individual or group - who has it as their primary job to solve it.

Everybody's job is to solve something smaller - and the small thing can most easily be solved at the cost of the big thing.

Democratic governments do not want to solve the crisis as much as they want to get elected.

The media do not want to solve the crisis as much as they want to attract and hold mass public attention.

Finance people do not want to solve the crisis as much as they want to make money.

Trades unions do not want to solve the crisis as much as they want to enhance the pay and conditions of their members.

And so on all the way through every institution.

(Any leader which did try to make it their job to solve the crisis would by doing so fail at their primary job, and would be ousted by those who did the primary job.)


When labour is divided from top to bottom, government is not just difficult - it is impossible.

World government is nobody's job - in nations that are democracies government is not even the job of 'the government'.

Of course, some people believe that democracy is the solution, not the problem - they believe that the magic of mass voting is somehow able to harmonize specialized interests. But obviously it doesn't and cannot - why on earth should it?


To be specific, there is no way that the product of diverse cognitive specialization can be synthesized, since each specialization is incommensurable with the others - has different data, rules, language, objectives - you cannot synthesize science and the law, or media and the military, or the economy and the environment.

All that can be done is to put one above the other hierarchically and practice the lower in terms of the higher - and the same is necessary at a societal level.

The division between Church and State was a mistake - when they divided one or the other must rule, or else there will be no integration and society will tear itself apart - since short-term efficiency of the parts will tend to evolve at the expense of long-term efficiency of the whole.

(It is always more immediately expedient for itself for bureaucracy to expand a bit more - even as each incremental expansion is a step closer to killing the host society. Mutatis mutandis for government vote-buying, legal regulation, taxes, trades unions, sceintific hype, media distortions...)


The world crisis can be 'solved' - presumably in many separate pieces - only as the division of labour is reversed (as modernity is reversed), and all human activities are again re-integrated in hierarchies under a single principle - because only then will there be a ruling principle that will have an interest in solving the crisis.

The ruling principle may not solve the crisis, but until there is a ruling principle the crisis cannot be solved. (Necessary but not sufficient.)


But... the resulting society/ societies will be much less efficient than modernity at its peak, when labour was optimally divided yet disintegration had not yet happened (probably held-off by sheer inertia).

Because the resulting society/ ies will be much less efficient, there will be a 'mass extinction' since the vastly over-expanded and still expanding human species will be unable to support itself (which would happen anyway without further economic growth - but when the world economy declines as a consequence of re-integration then it will be that much more severe).

The implication seems to be that society cannot cohere enough to solve the long-term crisis without very substantial de-differentiation and hierarchical reorganization - which itself must reduce productivity and itself lead to an immediate short term crisis.

As usual/ always things can only get better (or survive at all) via getting worse; and the longer postponed the worse, the worse will have to be - but eventually the worst will happen anyway, want it or not.


Hobbit government



Monday, 26 September 2011

What is the nature of the crisis? Material or spiritual?


There is a material crisis, rooted in economics.

The world is headed for a catastrophic (cataclysmic) collapse in material standards; and is doing nothing to prevent this.

(The only thing which could prevent it are effective, radical, harsh measures to increase productivity - increase the amount of material output of necessaries per capita, preferably by increased efficiency but if not by increased effort - re-allocation of economic man-hours. And this could only be done piecemeal and one place at a time - global strategies do the opposite. And this is impossible due to democracy.)

And the longer nothing is done, the worse the crisis will be.

The nature of the crisis will be the death of hundreds of millions - or maybe a billion or few - people, whom the planet is no longer able to sustain - death by a mixture of starvation, disease and violence.

Current global policy suggests that the crisis will be made to penetrate every corner of the globe; nobody is allowed to exempt themselves.


But the economic crisis has its roots in spiritual crisis - the apostasy of the West.

Its symptoms are alienation, psychosis and the active pursuit of evil among the ruling elites; who then enforce this upon those they rule.

Alienation because life has no meaning, no purpose, human individuals have no relationship with anything outside their own thoughts.

Psychosis because reason and common sense are subverted and replaced with nonsense and wishful thinking.

Evil because there is a morality of anti-Good: i.e. the systematic and progressive promotion of vice (inverted Virtue), ugliness (inverted Beauty) and lies (inverted Truth).


So the material crisis is inevitable because of the spiritual crisis; however, the material crisis cannot be averted by means of curing the spiritual crisis: the spiritual crisis must be repented for the right reasons (i.e spiritual reasons) - and not in order that the material crisis will be averted.

If we tried - and the attempt could not be sincere hence could not be effective - to promote spiritual reform as a means to the ends of material prosperity, then we would indirectly but certainly amplify the size of the material crisis.

There is no alternative to repentance, and repentance can neither be secret nor strategic.


Implications of fields of influence


When social influence is conceptualized in terms of fields, as described in an earlier posting,

then this has many implications at many levels.


One is a revival of the idea, articulated by Aquinas, that the soul contains the body, which means that the field of ourselves extends beyond the surface of our bodies; and the same applies to all people, animals, plants and (presumably) other entities.

The medieval world view would also stress the influence of the heavens - planets and stars - and of angels and demons.

So, if your soul, the field of yourself, extends beyond your body then you may affect other persons or entities around you without touching them - indeed without sensory contact of any kind.

And conversely, you may be affected by such fields, without being able to unravel the cause using your senses.


As an hypotheses, this make it easy to conceptualize different kinds of interactions between humans and their environments.

The idea seems to have been that such 'field' interactions influence thought-content and emotions - they can 'put ideas into peoples' heads', they can change the way people feel.

On the other hand these field interactions do not control other people - do not affect free will, nor reasoning ability.


These fields (like other fields in physics - like gravity or electromagnetism) are not detectable in themselves, but by their action.

A photon (a particle of light) has no mass (it must have zero mass or else it could not travel at the speed of light); therefore it is 'not there' according to common sense.

How do we know a photon exists? By the quantum event (action) when it leaves the sun and the quantum event (action) when it reaches the earth a few seconds later.

Yet although this takes a few seconds from our perspective as observers; from the perspective of the photon, there is zero time between the quantum event in the sun and that at the earth - there are simultaneous (because when travelling at the speed of light, time does not pass).


If electromagnetic fields are made of photons that have no mass and do not exist except when they act; and yet we use these theories without problem in modern physics - then it may help get our brains around the idea of immaterial fields that go beyond human bodies, and are detected only by their actions.


(Insofar as it is true), This idea means that we are (potentially) in actual contact with the world around us, including other people - not merely in communication with the world, but our personal fields are 'blended' with the fields of other persons, animals, plants and other things - the fields inter-penetrating, influencing.

We are in the world and the world is in us, we are not mere observers.

I say 'potentially', because I think there must be some act of consent for these interactions.


So, the idea is that a human's primary mode of relationship, as he moves through the world, is via the field that encloses and organizes his own body.


What can we make of this hypothesis - which I get from Rupert Sheldrake, and which has been adapted from a philosophical tradition going back to Aristotle?

Sheldrake has been very active in trying to test this theory by studying evidence that that fields extend beyond the body in a way that is not explicable by the five senses.

The problem with this approach is that each specific piece of evidence taken one at a time, each observation or experiment, is on the one hand necessarily inconclusive (as always in science), and on the other hand susceptible of innumerable alternative ad hoc explanations.

In the end, scientific evidence is orthogonal to metaphysics, science is consistent with all metaphysical theories and does not distinguish between them - and the idea of fields (or souls) is metaphysical.


The most compelling reason for assuming that Sheldrake's ideas about fields are correct is therefore that they are much closer to spontaneous, natural human belief: we are born into the world with a perspective that assumes that our own nature extends beyond the surface of our bodies:

...that other people know when we are present even if they cannot perceive us, that we know what other people are thinking and they know what we are thinking, that our fear draws that which is feared, that staring at someone or thinking about them will attract their attention, that we know things which happen remotely, that we make our own luck and - in a sense - 'deserve' what happens to us...

...and that having an idea, especially a strong idea - in one's own mind - in and of itself creates a tendency for this idea to spread and be adopted, whether or not this idea is explicitly communicated...


I personally take spontaneous, natural human 'beliefs' very seriously indeed - and I fell that we deny these in-built dispositions only at extreme peril - often at the cost of psychotic irrationality and incoherent relativism.

So I take this as prima facie evidence of the validity of something much along the lines of Sheldrake's field concepts.

And there is a whole complex of beliefs and phenomena which may conveniently be dealt with by this idea of fields extending beyond our bodies; so therefore it seems perfectly reasonable to deal with these phenomena in a unitary way using one over-arching hypothesis - rather than as, at present, either denying the reality of these phenomena or explaining each one using an unlimited number of specific ad hoc theories based on the necessity for sensory contact.


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Social Justice = Politics. Stop it altogether, please


Social Justice is the same thing as politics - Christian leaders should, please, stop talking about it.


Since Christian leaders cannot be clear and truthful about politics (unless they are prepared for martyrdom) - or, at least they will not be clear and truthful about politics - they should say nothing at all on the subject.

That means shutting-up about Social Justice.


I cannot, we all cannot, stand any more dishonesty on the subject - partial views, simplistic views, sounds bites repeated from a lying media, selective words, coded comments - in practice this feeds evil.


Stop, please please stop it altogether - this cant about Social Justice.

At this time and in this place Christians must focus on spirituality, where we are pitifully and pathetically weak; focus on the individual, personal, local, directly experiential; and trust to divine Providence instead of plans and strategies.


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Science and free will


(From an e-mail.)

I see science as working within the assumptions of metaphysics - so that before any science is done there is an implicit metaphysics of causality. And science cannot investigate what it assumes by its very existence.


Scientific reasoning studies cause and effect processes, as you say - which means it cannot use cause and effect reasoning to challenge the validity of cause and effect reasoning.

This is also the argument why it is incoherent to challenge free will - but CS Lewis states it much better than I could in Mere Christianity and elsewhere; and indeed I'm sure you have felt the force of it yourself when engaged in such arguments. If free will does not exist, then what are we arguing for or about?

I don't think science has made any contribution at all to understanding of free will, quite the opposite - it has led to great confusion.


Before any discourse, before science, we must assume free will - we assume that there is something possessed by humans that is not determined and not random but an expression of our individual ... essence (hard to think of a suitable word).

At least we must assume free will among the participants in the discourse, and of course we would need to exclude those who did not have it else the discourse would be invalidated.

In general, I have behind this a metaphysic that humans come into the world gifted with reason and free will (and other attributes), and these are divine gifts and upon their validity depends... well everything else.


Like CSL I argue that reason and free will cannot be challenged coherently because the challenge itself depends on the validity of reason and free will. In fact this is obvious!

But the problem for modern people is that in denying God they deny the validity of free will and reason - because if free will and reason are nothing more than evolutionary products - the products of random variation and differential reproduction - then of course free will and reason are mere contingent and temporary accidents and naturally have zero validity, and no real knowledge is possible of any kind - including exactly this knowledge about the evolutionary causes of free will and reason...

Which is nonsense.


Therefore we must believe in 'god' (albeit not necessarily the Christian God, but something much simpler, with metaphysical properties), or we cannot believe anything at all.

The ancient Greeks perceived this - that 'god' is necessary to underwrite the validity of every inference; doubt god and you are (know it or not) plunging into impossible and intractable paradox.

This is probably the deep reason why godless philosophers cannot comprehend even the most basic philosophy, cannot comprehend the stuff that was worked out two and a half thousand years ago.


Friday, 23 September 2011

The nature of influence


How can we understand influence in modern society? How does an individual influence society; how does a society influence an individual? How can influence be reconciled with Free Will?


Usually we think of influence as chains of causes, or perhaps chains of communications (like memes). And one can affect many - as with an epidemic: an epidemic of ideas.

And the evolved psychology of the individual affects what kinds of ideas get noticed, remembered, passed on.

To this can be added some chaos theory, to emphasize the unpredictability of it all.


But these are all metaphors or models, inevitably; and another model of influence and cause comes from my current re-reading of Rupert Sheldrake, which is that these influences can be conceptualized in terms of fields - like electro-magnetic fields or a gravitational field.


Fields organize and orientate entities in their range, like a magnet organizing iron filings, or gravity between the sun and planets organizing the solar system, or electromagnetic waves organizing the inner workings of a radio to generate music.


A person might be like a magnet in a magnetic field made from other magnets.

A magnet will always have influence when placed in a larger magnetic field - although that influence may be very small, may be hard to detect from background - but there will be influence, inevitably.

This metaphor differs from the current idea that people have to strive for influence, or need luck for influence - we ask whether X has had influence with the baseline assumption that zero influence is assumed, and any influence must be proven.

But the field metaphor this assumes that there is influence and then concentrates on understanding its nature and magnitude.


A person might be like a strong magnet (a Saint or genius or demonic individual) - a strong influence, having widespread influence.

Influence may or may not lead to observable change, but the influence is there - like a magnetic field is there whether or not it moves the iron objects within its influence (they may be glued down, but they still experience the magnetic field).

Or there might be many weak magnets orientating together (a political party, participants in the mass media), and these might have a big influence.

And if the large field organizes magnets within it, this will change the situation further.


We all live in society, we all feel the magnetic influence, we all exert a magnetic influence and these interact.

But we need to add to this picture Free Will. We feel the influence, but we can say yes or no; indeed we must say yes or no - before we are moved by the field there is always an act of consent, a loosening of resistance.

A Good society exerts on kind of organizing force (which may be consented to or resisted) and an evil society likewise.


The benefit of living is a Good society is the nature of the field operating, but consent or refusal are operative just as they are in an evil society.


An individual may generate a strong field, and this may (tend to) organize those around him - and this may be for good or ill.

But when understanding this influence we may not look at chains of causes and effects or chains of communications (who met who, where and when, what did they say?) - instead we conceptualize it as a field of organizing.

On a field metaphor, for X to influence society does not require that X meets lots of people,

or that we measure and trace the explicit widespread communications between people;

fields operate at a distance and often invisibly and undetectably - we may study them by studying the patterns of action of fields, and inferring the origin, focus, shape, tendency of the field as revealed by its effects.


(And there may be a field operating even when effects are not measured - only when a susceptible entity is introduced can the field be detected. so, the nature of a societal field may only be apparent from its effects on certain types of person.)


For the field of society to influence individual X likewise does not require that they reveal influence; the influence may be felt in terms of the resistance necessary to prevent a response.

Thus the power of a magnetic field on a magnet may be measured in terms of the strength of glue necessary to prevent the magnet from moving.


Thursday, 22 September 2011

The wasteland - post maturity, pre-marriage


I am not talking about having 'fun' or feeling happy on a day to day basis; but in terms of life being significant in retrospect.

From that perspective, life was significant until I had 'grown-up' - which seemed to finish about aged 21.

Then, in retrospect, I was filling-in time for more than a decade until I got married - and the longer this gap extended, the more obvious was the fact that nothing I did to amuse myself really mattered.

Of course, this was the time of all the 'action' in my life as far as the world outside was concerned, all the stuff that is supposed to be important - academic success, career progress, travel, high living...

It's just that - both at the time, and even more in retrospect - well, it amounts to a big effort at keeping myself distracted.

This is not an expression of regret - not a matter of saying that I wish I had done something different (because then I would not have married my wife, had my children) but that from experience it seems that people are meant to get married and start families in their early twenties or thereabouts.

That is real life - and all the lifestyle stuff is nothing, really.

The wasteland.

And a society which apparently values that twentysomething/ thirtysomething stuff such that it is organized strategically to defer and defer marriage and families to make way for it, and self-propagandizes relentlessly in favour of lifestyle and against the real business of living - well, that is a sick society.


Peer-reviewed research - turtles all the way down...


Peer-Reviewed Research (PRR) is the lineal descendant of Real Science (RS) in the same way that liver flukes are the lineal descendants of free-living nematode worms: PRR represents the parasitic, pathological and degenerate form into which Real Science evolved in response to a changing environment.


In other words, despite some residual structural similarities, Peer-Reviewed Research is essentially a different entity than Real Science.

Just as when something looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck; so when something looks like a bureaucracy and communicates like a bureaucracy, then it is a bureaucracy.

What is calling itself science looks and behaves nothing like Real Science, so we should stop calling it Science.


Whereas Real Science works by obvious, in-your-face and common sense criteria (the problem being merely to understand how it works), in contrast ‘modern science’ (PRR) does not work – or rather, the only evidence that PRR works is the propaganda and publicity of scientists and the agencies who fund them – and these need to expend vast resources on persuading the public (and themselves) that they are doing anything at all but consume and mislead.

Old science obviously worked – there were frequent breakthroughs in solving longstanding problems; Old medicine obviously worked with new cures for previously incurable diseases and traumas. But very little modern science and medicine gets validated in this way – instead there is a profession of evaluation which is variously psychological, marginal, probabilistic, statistical, economic… but not obvious, in-your-face common sense.

Indeed, the main strategy is that of the Texas Sharpshooter, who fires his pistol into the barn door then draws a target around the bullet holes: modern ‘science’ does what it does, looks at the result, then spins the outcome as a ‘breakthrough’.


Real science is primarily theoretical – by contrast with technology which is practical and mostly operates by trial and error within the theories of science.

The way it works is (roughly) that science makes breakthroughs in theory which are then linked (via chains of causation) to predicted real world consequences. The scientific theory is checked against observations of the real world, including prediction, experiments, and attempts to manipulate (and change) the real world.

This link between science and technology is loose, and there is no specific set of rules which govern it - i.e. there is no such thing as ‘scientific method’, nor legitimate inference (above and beyond that of normal human reason) and all attempts to define such have failed.

Nonetheless, this link between science and common sense observation – for all its informal and subjective qualities - is the basis for evaluating science. Without such a link science is not really science, but a detached, free-spinning intellectual activity: a ‘glass bead game’ played for the amusement (and/ or enrichment and status) of intellectuals.


In other words, when science is not validated by technology, and technology validated by common sense, then science is merely validated by scientists – by scientific opinion.

Nowadays, scientific opinion is formalized in peer review committees – so without the link between science, technology and common sense then science is merely committee voting, just like any bureaucracy.


(Committees are committees are committees – they may operate by formal procedures or by no procedures and it makes no difference – because procedure is arbitrary and conjectural in its effect; no procedure has any intrinsic validity.)


So PRR marks the takeover of Real Science by a wholly different evaluation system: the change from validation from theoretical science linked to technology linked to common sense, into whatever happens to be the outcome of a system of interlinked committee voting:

government committees, employment appointment committees, promotions committees, grant awarding committees, corporations run by committees, media and publicity committees, committees for investigating the ‘integrity’ of science, committees to decide what gets published where and in what form, committees to decide who gets to talk at conferences, Nobel Prize committees...

Like the mythic world which stands on a turtle standing on a turtle standing on a turtle, and so on: modern ‘science’ is committees all the way down


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Animism: ancient pagan, Christian, neo-pagan


Animism is the belief that nature is not just alive, but aware - perhaps conscious, and a thing with which humans can have a personal relationship.

But animism comes in various brands.


1. The ancient pagan or hunter gatherer type animism is mostly about power - about building alliances with natural phenomena.

At least that is the basis of 'shamanism' - to use, and benefit from, contact with, and a relation with, the spirit world of nature (animals, large plants such as trees, perhaps features such as a river or mountain).

Such contact being made in states of altered consciousness such as trance or sleep. The possibility of such a relation derives from the belief that 'life' circulates through the world, undergoing transformations - so boundaries between humans, and between humans and animals and other animated entities, are fluid. Life circulates as a spirit, by reincarnation, by transformation of forms - the shaman can therefore participate in relationships with other spirits.

Benefits sought might be wise advice (about hunting, finding food or water, when and where to move base, discernment of various types...), or healing, or success in some project (e.g. victory over rival tribes...).

(Something very similar to hunter gatherer animism is spontaneous to humans, and a feature of all young children - making adjustments for their more limited cognitive capacity. )


2. Christian animism sees nature as alive, conscious, purposive and intelligent - because animated by angels (and demons).

This is perhaps harder for modern people to conceptualize than is hunter gatherer animism - the best model I have seen is in Rupert Sheldrake's The Physics of Angels (and ignoring the confusing contributions of his co-author).

Sheldrake models angels by analogy with physical fields (like gravity, magnetism) and using concepts from quantum physics and relativity to understand difficult concepts such as how angels (like photons) have no mass (like fields), yet act locally (like particles).

Christian animism does not see animated nature as a potential source of powerful alliances, but as a description of reality that reveals the glory of God and the nature of His universe.

For example:


3. Modern, neo-pagan animism is primarily therapeutic: it seeks to cure the modern disease of alienation, to alleviate the sense of meaninglessness from the feeling of an isolated consciousness in a dead universe.

Modern neo-pagan animism is therefore a descendant of the psychological project of Jung. It is not about a description of extra-personal reality, but of perceived reality - and its objectivity comes from the assumption that there are universal, archetypal patterns of the human mind which may be discovered and stimulated.


So, these three perspectives share animism, but differ in the role they allocate to animism in the scheme of things.

By and large, pagans intend to use animated nature, to increase their life satisfaction whether physically or psychologically.

Christians, by contrast, revere or venerate animated nature, since the world has intelligence and of high status - but Christians also fear animated nature on earth and in time, since some of these high intelligences are malign.


A Tolkien in-joke decoded? Abel Pitt & Adam Fox


I have made only sporadic attempts ( to 'identify' the list of Notion Club members (listed on pages 159-160 of History of Middle Earth Volume 9: Sauron Defeated) with real life Inklings.

Indeed the striking thing about the fictional Notion Club is how un-like the Inklings they are: no dominant central C.S. Lewis character (no central character at all), lacking a Warnie Lewis character (military, benign, humble), and nobody with the peculiar character and impact of Charles Williams.


Nonetheless, sometimes I have tried to follow the associations in Tolkien's mind which may have led to the names and brief descriptions on the members page.

That is the fun of it: to 'get' an in-joke, and by such means to understand the workings of Tolkien's mind.


Thus, in the bath this evening, I recognized Notion Club member Abel Pitt as a play on real life Adam Fox: and (from Google) I discover that Jason Fisher has already made this connection.


The fictional biography of Pitt runs:

Dr Abel Pitt. Trinity. Born 1928. Formerly Chaplain of Trinity College; now Bishop of Buckingham. Scholar, occasional poet. 

The obvious clue is that Pitt, like Fox, is an Anglican clergyman, both were scholars and occasional poets - but the real Fox was Dean of Divinity (at Lewis's college of Magdalen), a much more elevated position than Chaplain.

Abel is Adam's son in the Old Testament; but what link is there between Fox and Pitt?


My guess is that coal/ col links Pitt and Fox - a coal-pit is where coal is extracted while a colfox (a fox whose ears and tail are tipped with coal-black) appears in Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale.

The joke would presumably be that Adam Fox was best known for publishing a book length poem called Old King Coel.

If so, this is a tiny but interesting example of Tolkien's philological high spirits that he embedded such fancies in his story; and is illustrative of the characteristic scholarly foolery of the real life Inklings that Tolkien would expect them to get the joke.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

(Even) more on the nature of evil


Although there is a distal and ultimate sense in which everything that is is Good, evil here and now in this world is real and purposive.


However evil is not a primary thing, it is expressed only in relation to the Good - evil is anti-Good.

(Secular modernity cannot conceptualize evil precisely because it cannot conceptualize Good - or more exactly, the 'good' of modern secular Leftism is first subversion then inversion of The Good.)


So, although much or most actual evil is (merely) a kind of selfishness and short-termism (hedonism) - a desire for self-sufficiency - this is not adequate to conceptualize evil in evil's ultimate sense (which is a less-ultimate sense than Good).


Evil is motivated against Good - evil is not indifferent to Good.

Evil is not content simply to be evil in its own time and place and manner, evil is not (merely) autonomous self-satisfaction: ultimate evil actively and tirelessly seeks the ruin of Good - of all Good.

Evil is not, therefore, encapsulated; it is totalitarian and universal.


Evil will never be content to make its own little (or big) world of evil; always it yearns and strives for the ruin of Good wherever and whenever it exists (and Good always exists - even when partial, deformed, misapplied).


The spirit of Morgoth is immortal and has an insatiable and eternal desire for destruction of the Good, for the ruin of creation. He can be imprisoned or exiled - but not killed; nor can his purpose be coercively changed (the choice of an angel is irrevocable).

Only by remaking the whole of existing reality could evil be ended, will evil be ended.


The lesson of Numenor



Monday, 19 September 2011

Hierarchy, reverance and worship in Tolkien's work and life

The only evidence of religious ritual in The Lord of the Rings is when Faramir and his men stand and face West in silence before eating, as an act of reverence to Numenor.

Elsewhere Tolkien makes clear that the Numenoreans in exile (in Arnor and Gondor) have ceased to practice their religion due to the destruction of the Holy Mountain Meneltarma which was the site of communal annual worship, led by the King (everyone else being silent).

The presumption is that until 'The Temple' is (somehow) restored, or a replacement divinely ordained - then the Numenoreans can do more than reiterate their reverence for lost Numenor and via this, the Valar and the One above all.


This is of a piece with the way in which religion works within the pre-incarnational world of the Lord of the Rings - by reverence of that which is higher - usually only a step or two higher - rather than direct reverence of God.

The Good characters among Men (including hobbits) are distinguished by their love of - or at least respect for - elves; which are a higher form of humans, and of The Wise (Wizards, High Elves and the half-Elven).


It is goes down the scale. The non-Numenorean 'Middle' Men of Rohan are ennobled by their treaty with Gondor - apart from that they are 'merely' courageous and loyal barbarians: it is their treaty with Gondor, and via Gondor (but not directly) with reverence of the Valar and the One, that Rohan is lifted above the wild men such as the Easterlings and Dunlanders.

Rohan is above the hunter gatherers - Druidain - but at the time of the War of the Ring this relationship has been broken and is restored during the course of the book. The reverence the Druidain ought to have for the Men of Rohan has been broken precisely because the Rohirrim have come to regard the Druidian as sub-human and denied their duty of care towards them (apparently hunting them as if they were beasts) - similarly Gondor seems to have neglected their duty of care (their noblesse oblige) toward Rohan - allowing them to become corrupted by Saruman.


It seems that Rohan's Goodness is almost wholly mediated by their relationship with Gonder - in and of themselves, the Men of Rohan do not know about elves and the Wise, do not seem to know about the valar or the One. Their Goodness is therefore a function of their reverence for Gondor.

Similarly, Hobbits are corrupted by a selfish and short sighted complacency at the start of the tale, as they have lost knowledge and reverence for 'higher things' - especially elves.

It is precisely those hobbits who are unusual in their respect for elves which save the Shire at the end of the story - left to themselves the insular and comfort loving hobbits have let themselves be taken over by 'ruffians' and lack the psychological resources to resist evil.


Goodness in LotR is substantially about recognizing and reverencing that which is higher than oneself; and this applies all the way up and down the scale - it is equally vital that Elrond (who is acknowledged by all the good characters as leader of the Good forces in Middle Earth) reverence and is humble towards the Valar and The One - as that hobbits respect and are humble towards elves (like Frodo and Sam, and in contrast with Gollum).

The responses to Galadriel are likewise an index of the goodness of characters - even Eomer, who initially makes some rather paranoid and insulting comments about the Lady of the Woods, swiftly backs down and defers to those who know better; Faramir regards elvish contact as too perilous for modern men, but his profound respect for and deference toward the High elves is implict.


Equally the more-noble must have responsibility and care for those below them; as Gandalf does and Saruman does not; as Theoden lost and then regained, as Denethor lost and never regained.

Without this paternalism, Theoden and Denethor were unworthy to lead, and needed to be removed from responsibility - whether temporarily (Theoden) or permanently (Denethor).


Tolkien's point is a characteristically Catholic one: that simple folk can only have a right relationship with the highest things by means of intermediate things - and that we are all of us (or almost all of us) in this respect simple folk - we can only comprehend that which is a step or two above us.

In his personal devoutness it seems that Tolkien's reverence for God was primarily via 'intermediaries' such as priests, saints, angels and the Blessed Virgin Mary - and only indirectly by Jesus Christ who he perhaps saw as far above him - too far above him to have the direct and personal relationship he felt with the Queen of Heaven?

I sense that Tolkien was disturbed and perplexed by the 'Protestant' direct approach to Jesus, which struck him as arrogant and over-familiar - and seemed to grate quite badly on Tolkien in the Christian works of C.S Lewis.

(Although it needs to be noted Lewis himself steered-clear of many subjects he felt were 'above' him - such as the nature of differences between Christian communions and the re-unification of Christendom.)


In sum, Tolkien's view of the nature of the world was profoundly hierarchical, non-symmetrical and incremental. It was therefore each person's primary duty to reverence that which was above him; and to accept that most people, most of the time, could neither understand nor relate to the ultimate nature of reality.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Psalms - second attempt


A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was intending to read and 'chant' through the Psalter (the Book of Psalms in the Bible, specifically the Authorized/ King James version) every month until I began to know them.

Well... I almost managed this for a month, but did not quite keep-up the rate.


And now it comes to start the cycle again I find that - although the experience was very worthwhile - I seem utterly unable to learn the Psalms - and have only managed four lines of a single Psalm thus far...


I wondered why this might be, and concluded that the reason was that - although the Psalms in the KJB or Book of Common Prayer/ Coverdale versions are supremely poetic - they are not in fact poems.

Poems are memorable - that is indeed one of their main functions.

But while the KJB Psalms are superbly speak-able (being designed for euphonious reading) they are not actual poems since they lack regular rhythm, rhyme and formal alliteration.

Yet I wanted to memorize the Psalms, so they would be with me when I needed them.

What to do?


Then I recalled from childhood the 'metrical' version of Psalm 23, which had lodged in my mind and was a lovely lyric:

The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want.
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.


A little Internet research revealed that version this was from the Scottish Psalter of 1650 - mostly done in England but finished and adopted by the Scottish Church. This is a classic of scriptural translation, designed to be both easily understandable, and easily singable - every psalm is done in the Common Metre

Ti-tum Ti-tum Ti-tum Ti-tum
Ti-tum Ti-tum Ti-TAY
Ti-tum Ti-tum Ti-tum Ti-tum
Ti-tum Ti-tum Ti-DAY

In principle, and if necessary, therefore all the Psalms could be sung to a single tune! - bringing performance of the entire Psalter within the scope of the most minimally-musical congregation (in-line with reformation ideals).


So... Although the Scottish Psalter has not quite the beauty and variety of the KJB/ BCP versions, it does comes from the same great post-reformation era of English Christian translation, bears the hallmarks of being an inspired work, and has the crucial virtue of memorability.

So... I have ordered a copy of the Scottish Psalter and will try again on cycles of reading - hoping this time to learn at least some of the Psalms by heart.


Saturday, 17 September 2011

What is poetry; what is prose?


Poetry comes first - because poetry is in essence mnemonic language: language made easy to remember.

This is achieved in three ways: regular and repeated rhythm, rhyme and alliteration.


1. Rhythm - essentially chanting.

Rhythm can be divided in terms of either a few heavy beats, like nursery rhymes which often have two beats in a line but variable numbers of syllables and clusters of syllables; like

Sally go round the sun
Sally go round the moon
Sally go round the chim-er-ney pots
On a Saturday afternoon

(of course the above example also rhymes)

or in short patterns of stresses (metres) - like the

ti-tum ti-tum ti-tum ti-TUM
ti-tum ti-tum ti-TUM

of  'common metre'. 

Quite of lot of the most famous English verse (Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth) is 'blank verse' which is (mostly) ti-tum all the way - generally avoiding alliteration and (especially) rhyme

Example from Shakepeare's Merchant of Venice, which has five ti-tums per line (iambic pentameter):

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heav'n
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes

Beats and stresses both make it easier to remember language - which is why all chanting (even of disorganized mobs) tends to be organized by beats and/ or stresses.


2. Rhyme - obviously. 'Nuff said.


3. Alliteration - in which the beginnings of words, or their most stressed syllables, are similar. This is almost obsolete and unappreciated - but was standard for Old English and most Middle English verse - especially when it was orally performed.

Here is an Old English pastiche by C.S Lewis (which Tolkien found defective) - the rule is half lines, two stresses in each half line falling on the alliterated sound and at least one alliteration common to the half lines: T, B, S, E, G and the 'ess' sound.

We were talking of dragons, Tolkien and I
In a Berkshire bar. The big workman
Who had sat silent and sucked his pipe
All the evening, from his empty mug
With gleaming eye glanced towards us:
"I seen 'em myself!" he said fiercely.”


And prose?

Prose eschews regular rhythm, rhymes and alliteration but is made memorable by narrative, by telling a story.

Of course poetry can tell a story; and indeed poetry which tells a story - an epic or romance, for example - is the most memorable of all literary forms (probably the earliest formal language) - the characteristic production of 'bards', 'minstrels' and 'ballad singers'.


What this means is that some things that get called poetry are not essentially so, but only so by lineal descent: e.g. poetry based on syllable counting, or 'free verse'

- these are more of a 'high art' commentary on essential poetry - indeed free verse, in particular, is often subversive of essential poetry - and rigorously avoids any mnemonic aids such as regular rhythm, alliteration or rhyme.

(Yes, I know this is almost all of what gets called poetry nowadays - but that only goes to show...)


And prose which does not tell a story (like this essay) is not essentially prose.


THUS cometh the focus of poetry on specific words and images (stock images - such as the Kennings of Old English poetry - whale-road = sea; or poetic cliches such as the 'wine dark sea' from Homer);

and in prose the focus is on sense, on (detachable) message: meaning, morals, stock characters and stock situations (the prohibition which is always broken, the youngest son, the rule of three)...

There we have it: the essence of poetry, the essence of prose...


Friday, 16 September 2011

Who is the greatest ever classical music conductor?


Otto Klemperer.

I don't propose to argue this - it is simply how I feel; and is of course in relation to the kind of music which most moves me, and which benefits from a conductor.


(Bearing in mind I would rather hear great music performed by a competent mediocrity than a great performance of mediocre music.)

(And, obviously, I am excluding conductors whom I have not heard.)


Any other offers?


If not psychological neoteny: what? The role of old age


One of the most influential of my ideas - if you can even call it an idea - was psychological neoteny -

- which was covered internationally by the mass media and became one of the 'ideas of the year' in the New York Times.


The name put a word to, and some kind of explanation for, the phenomenon that modern humans retain many immature traits into adult life: the behave like teens, they try to look like teens.

At the time I wrote this (when I was a hedonic libertarian agnostic), I was vaguely positive about the phenomenon; on the basis that it might help the economy if people were flexible and 'open' in their behaviour.


But, there is a big problem about old age in modernity.

There is essentially no role or function for the old.

Consequently, the only positive thing that can be said about an old person nowadays is that they look or behave younger than their true age.

At best, therefore, the old are second-rate youngsters.


So what should the old be doing?

The answer is obvious: old age is for spiritual development.

Even CG Jung saw this clearly - although his idea of spiritual development was (merely) self development.

Since modern society is secular and hedonic, it does not value spiritual development - therefore modern society does not value old age.

But that is modern society's problem: it does not affect the reality of the situation.

At any rate, this is the 'function' of old age; spiritual development is what old people do better than the young, for which they are better equipped.


Or should I say we instead of they?

By any rational calculus, once he is aged 50 a man is  old - plain and simple - indeed probably even before that.

So I am old. 

Of course I am old. 

But why does it sound affected or disingenuous to say so?


One of the signs that our materialist, secular society has no role for the old, is that it leads to continual inflation of the age at which one becomes 'old'.

It is now generally regarded as an insult to a female human aged 60 years to call her what she plainly is: an old woman!

The notion is apparently that 'attitude', cosmetics, dyed hair, exercise and fashionable clothing have somehow changed the fundamental nature of human reality...


The age at which one becomes 'old' is now the age at which is can no longer credibly be denied that one is old; but that age keeps creeping-upwards because - in a society where the median age is c45 and rising - and where old age is dis-valued, it suits the mass of the old to be able to collude in denial of their own status.


Protestations that someone (superficially) looks younger, or feels younger, or behaves younger - are vain and irrelevant at best; but more often this is a serious, indeed sinful, evasion of the proper business of human life.

If one is fortunate enough to reach old age, then this is good fortune. But not in order to try and emulate a superficial and second-rate youthfulness; because old age is a chance for spiritual development: a gift denied to almost everyone in human history but which is now common.

We should be grateful to be old.  


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Modernity and the blurring of approved concepts: poetry, books, creativity


One important way in which modernity subverts The Good is by blurring approved concepts until they become inclusive of the anti-Good: until approval embraces that which is hostile to The Good.


It used to be said that Good books were good, but it was recognized that not all books were Good.

Some books were bad, and it was often better not to read bad books, or to read them cautiously.

Now, however, the mainstream view is that books as such are good, and buying and reading books is something to be encouraged – the implicit idea is that reading books can do you nothing-but-good.

So (in the UK) we have a national 'book day', with no discrimination between Good and bad books.


A more specific literary example is poetry. In the days when then there was real poetry, there was always discrimination between Good and bad poetry – between beautiful, moral and true poetry which had an edifying effect; and on the other hand ugly, immoral and/ or dishonest poetry which had (if any effect) a degrading effect.

Now, when there are (by past standards) no real poets and no real poetry in the public realm; poetry has become promoted as good-in-itself: so, of course, we have a national 'poetry day' now, and public display of – err – ‘award winning’ words printed in short lines (which is what gets called poetry nowadays).


And the same applies to human attributes. Creativity used to be regarded as Good when it was divinely inspired, but evil when it was demonically inspired.

But now creativity is always regarded positively; no matter what its motivation, honesty or consequences.


This trend began with the romantic movement, more than 200 years ago; and was dissected by Thomas Mann in an interesting (but, I find, almost unreadable) novel called Doktor Faustus in which a German composer deliberately infects himself with syphilis in order to attain a demonic frenzy to inspire and energize his composition – in effect to boost his creativity and originality.

The novel is an allegory of Nazism – and the pact with the devil which gave Germany a decade of tremendous creative energy and optimism – the price of which was the near-complete destruction, distortion and emasculation of German culture (by a further demonic reaction-against the whole German spirit; which had supported many of the great achievements of modernity).


The allegory is applicable to the West in general, especially since the mid-1960s, when we sold what remained of our souls in return for that demonic frenzy of hedonic nihilism (systematic promotion of the anti-Good) that is contemporary ‘culture’.


C.S Lewis foresaw this in Screwtape Proposes a Toast – he foresaw that words like ‘democracy’ and ‘education’ would be expanded to be used as a battering-ram against The Good in general and Christianity in particular.

The process has gone so far by now that coherent reasoning is impossible when the concepts involved – such as ‘immigration’, ‘racism’, ‘social justice’, ‘poverty’, ‘torture’, ‘tolerance’, ‘freedom’, 'art', 'selfishness' and so on – have all been tendentiously expanded to disregard discriminations between the Good and the anti-Good.


What to do? - Where to turn?

In a world where you cannot talk honestly with any person in your environment; with whom can we communicate?

One place to meet Good minds is books – specifically Good books: which mostly means Old books...


A skill we need is to read Old books on their own terms.

The bad news is that there such are a lot of Old books. 

The good news is that we do not need many of them: that is a lesson of the Middle Ages. A mere few dozen various texts (some in translation, others incomplete or extracted or summarized) salvaged from the wreck of Greece and Rome, the Scriptures, and writings of the early Christian fathers sufficed to support a much higher level of intellectual discourse than we have now.

And that is all we need. 


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

What is evil?


Modern man, me included, has great difficulty conceptualizing evil: what follows is my own attempt, which I have found useful so far.


Evil is nihilism.

Nihilism is not nothingness, because what is created cannot be destroyed by any except the creator; but it can be ruined.


If and when evil triumphs, there would not be nothing, nor would Good be utterly destroyed - rather, everything would be ruined (like Mordor) and all Good would be twisted to the service of evil: like the politically correct bureaucrat whose genuine kindness and compassion leads them to create a totalitarian state to crush those whom they perceive to threaten the possibility of universal harmony; like the (virtuous) courage of rapacious and destructive Vikings or other pirates; like the high principles of the young communist who (with his heart breaking) denounced his beloved parents for their ideological transgressions against the Utopian state; like the Nazi concentration camp guards who stayed until the last possible moment, expending their last bullets in killing as many Jews as possible, instead of retreating and defending themselves against the US/ British forces at the gates - this is as far as evil can go: to twist The Good (e.g. kindness, courage, loyalty, idealism) into the service of ruining The Good.


Nihilism is the ruin, the marring, the twisting of The Good.


The Good is (roughly) the unity of Truth, Beauty and Virtue.

Therefore evil/ nihilism is the ruin of TBV: it is LSD (lies, spin and disinformation) instead of truth; ugliness, shock and revulsion instead of beauty; and instead of virtue, the subversion, inversion and distortion of natural law and Christian revelation.


Therefore, evil is quite precise, and (making allowance for human limitations and sinfulness) is objective.

Any form of dishonesty is evil - which means the mass media as a whole is evil (since it is not even trying to be honest), so is politics, so is bureaucracy.

Any marring of beauty is evil - which means 'modernity' in the arts and architecture is evil. A healthy girl's face is beautiful, so fashions like facial piercing and tattooing are evil. Silence, birdsong and (real) music are beautiful - so noise that overwhelms these is evil.

Any attack on natural law (spontaneous morality) and Christian law is evil: which means that the tendency of most modern mainstream public discourse - including many laws and state regulations - is evil.


In a fallen world, some - many - evils are unavoidable - but unavoidable evil is still evil, and needs to be recognised as such (and repented).

Evil must not, ever, be re-labelled as Good - that act is in itself a triumph of evil.