Monday, 22 January 2018

Discard your fear of being-wrong. Embrace your inner conspiracy theorist

Fact: The media and the linked-bureaucracy are liars. Response: We can, and must, decide what is true, regardless of what They say.

What can we do? This is what we can do.

Everybody must become a Conspiracy Theorist - in other words, we must regard the official information as rhetorical manipulation.

This means we - I mean each of us, as individuals - must decide what is true and real; if possible without taking any notice at all of what the mainstream story is. (More difficult than it sounds...)

Of course the mainstream story contains some correct facts (all effective lies do) - but these are useless to us when we do not know which facts are correct and which others have been left-out. Indeed the unidentified correct facts are worse-than-useless - they are actively-misleading, and in the direction of manipulation.

How might we do this making up of own minds? Partly by what we personally have observed, partly by what we personally have reasoned-out using common sense, partly by our inborn, God-given faculty of intuitive knowing of the simple and necessary realities of our life and the human condition (assuming we acknowledge that this faculty exists).

Or we can say 'I don't know - I have no opinion'... But that has become surprisingly difficult.

What is essential is to lose our fear of being wrong! After all, when we are demonstrably wrong about stuff (and we surely will be, and often), we can change our minds, there and then, immediately; and without reference to any 'consensus'.

But there isn't much point in trying to persuade other people of our personal convictions when they fly in the face of 'the evidence' - on the other hand, does that really matter?

A population of individuals who stubbornly insisted on ignoring official information and explanations and making up their own minds, and are not afraid of being wrong; well... such a population would already be free (free where it most mattered); and would not be manipulate-able nor govern-able in the totalitarian form that is in place and being increased.

And that would be extremely worthwhile - indeed, the difference between near-certain damnation and the chance of salvation (for starters).

(Note to Self: disregard mainstream topics and facts and interpretations, make up own mind, don't care about convincing other people: rejoice in freedom of thinking...)


Hrothgar said...

I tend to be almost wholly uninterested in the surface details of the stories I see in the mainstream media (or indeed, most "alternative media") - when I bother to pay them attention in the first place. What is really of interest to me is the agenda that underpins the stories and their reportage, which is usually revealed in the telling. Of course I do not in the majority of instances have access to important facts beyond what was reported that might allow me to distinguish truth from falsehood, and do not delude myself into thinking that I do - but this is not what really counts in any case.

I think that those who focus on media stories at a factual level - and thus exert themselves to seek out better facts in the hope of thus overcoming the lies and manipulation - are frequently pursuing a chimera. Knowledge of facts, however accurate and well-researched, does nothing to improve the qualities of insight and intuition, which if sufficiently well-developed and trusted do not require additional facts to support their conclusions (unless your objective is to convince other people, by the "rules" of contemporary intellectual discourse). The desire to seek out more and better facts, moreover, can easily become something like an obsession, and end up locking people into a cycle of spending more and more time and energy striving to get to the bottom of events so that they "really know what is going on", which they ought to be expending in learning how to live well.

For my part, I'm increasingly convinced that there IS an agenda underpinning much media-led public discourse, and that this agenda is primarily directed towards fulfilling the ultimate goals of purposive evil - in brief, the corruption of individual human souls. Sometimes it may be deflected from its goals by opposing forces which often operate below the level of concscious intent, or simple human negligence (a much underappreciated source of good in this world).

This conviction, in combination with as much insight and intuition as I am able to bring to bear on specific cases (and factual knowledge too where appropriate, though it is often redundant in forming actual conclusions), tends to make me fairly confident in identifying what seems most important - the type of evil that is being spread - whether or not I am in full cognizance of the facts behind it.

Hrothgar said...

In case what I mean by the above is not clear, a current example from the online edition of a well-known British media outlet, to which my default method of understanding is applied:

I soon come across several stories about people who have disfigured themselves by altering their bodies in various grotesque ways, alongside several more "empowering" ones about people overcoming physical disablities, getting back at the "haters" etc.

I group these together because the primary purpose in both cases is to disturb people's aesthetic sense of normality and beauty, and cause them to become uncertain about judging these by any standard beyond mere subjective opinion (none of which may be more important than another due to egalitariansm). This in turn draws them further from an understanding of nature, including their own, distrustful of ideals, and leads them, ultimately, into hopeless nihilistic subjectivity and hyper-skepticism.

Stories about human freak-shows who voluntarily disfigure themselves in horrendous ways need for best results (in terms of fulfilling evil ends) to be run alongside stories about people who have suffered in some way as a result of conditions which they were not in control of, in order that some of the sympathy which people naturally feel for the latter (in our post-Christian society) may be transferred to the former.

Notably, focus is maintained on the defect, not as abnormality or wrongness (the natural or instinctive view) or something of only or primarily material consequence which may be transcended (the Christian view), but as something that should not be viewed as abormality at all, or as something that is positive, even beautiful in itself. There is a heavy reliance on post-Christian norms of non-judgementalism to imply that that since the defect does not mar the whole person (itself an outlook which takes for granted traditional Christian metaphysical notions of the soul being ultimately more important than the body), it ought NOT to be considered a defect, at least by good people. It is not a big stretch from this to suppose that you are a bad person if you do not view abnormality, deficiency, grotesqueness, etc, as normality, even as beauty - or at least that you are a bad person if you do not to publically state that you do, and will be viewed as such by others.

Variations on this basic theme are being pursued in a myriad ways, the media being one of its prime engines; the ultimate goals being the same in all cases - inversion of basic core values (preferably through the corruption of what was originally good in its proper context, as in this example), control of public discourse and social norms to prevent this being challenged; and ultimately, hopelessness, despair, nihilism, and the willed suicide of the human self, even while the animal component continues existing for a time.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Hrothgar - Good comments.

William Wildblood said...

Yes,I think Hrothgar's comment is absolutely true. It's as though we actually live in the room in That Hideous Strength where Mark is sent in order to disrupt and disorientate his sense of what is normal and true. Isn't he eventually required to stamp on an image of Christ or something like that and his refusal to do so is what saves him? Will it come to that I wonder?

Bruce Charlton said...


"Meanwhile, in the Objective Room, something like a crisis had developed between Mark and Professor Frost. As soon as they arrived there Mark saw that the table had been drawn back. On the floor lay a large crucifix, almost life-size, a work of art in the Spanish tradition, ghastly and realistic. "We have half an hour to pursue our exercises," said Frost, looking at his watch. Then he instructed Mark to trample on it and insult it in other ways.

Now, whereas Jane had abandoned Christianity in early childhood, along with her belief in fairies and Santa Claus, Mark had never believed in it at all. At this moment, therefore, it crossed his mind for the very first time that there might conceivably be something in it. Frost, who was watching him carefully, knew perfectly well that this might be the result of the present experiment. He knew it for the very good reason that his own training by the Macrobes had, at one point, suggested the same odd idea to himself. But he had no choice. Whether he wished it or not, this sort of thing was part of the initiation. "

Yes, an analogous situation arises in 1984 in room 101 when the protagonist Smith has to want that the rat about to attack his face would instead attack his girlfriend - this breaks him.

Since Orwell reviewed THS, it is possible that he got the idea of Room 101 from Lewis.

Hrothgar said...

Thanks, though I wish my comments were freer of typos!

WW - This seems like a vitally important question. I think that many of us are increasingly being enjoined to do something to that effect already, and a significant proportion comply, hardly knowing what they are doing but willing the choice nevertheless.

The question that we might have to ask ourselves in attempting to determine whether this is already happening is: How far should we consider an act of wilfully desecrating the image of Man - inasmuch as he is FORMED in that of God (or Christ) - also to be a wilful desecration of the divine image?

If we are going to take a relatively hard line on this question, then certain behaviours and thinking patterns which are increasingly becoming the daily norm for many people in the modern West tread dangerously close to that line, if they do not actually cross it. I'm not referring particularly or only to desecration of the literal human image as described earlier (though that is also implicated), but in particular to the metaphysical assault on those particular human qualities which may partake of the divine essence - and have been traditionally regarded in this light.

What about, for example, the common insistence that one who habitually participates in a particular sexual deviance should neither be subject to criticism from others, nor feel the need to repent or reform their behaviour? Importantly, this insistence does not stem from alternative considerations of wrong or right, but from the basis that as the behaviour is both desired by them and occurs in non-human beings, it is natural to them - and since what is natural cannot be controlled (without suffering, taken as axiomatically undesirable), it therefore ought not to be criticised.

This outlook seems to me far more damaging to the person beholden to it than simply making (in good faith) a mistaken determination about what ought to be considered right or wrong. (For that matter, committing a wrong act in the knowledge that it is wrong, in the face of overwhelming desire or.compulsion, also seems like a less serious matter, taken in itself.) It is less easily remedied or recognized as harmful than wrongdoing stemming from error or weakness, because it in fact sweeps all considerations of right and wrong from the table, alongside the role of human agency or insight in attempting to determine or act upon these.

What replaces them (it is all that is left) is the conception of Man as an unreflective, purely instinctual being in thrall to his animal nature, from whom growth, change, moral agency, or ultimate transcendence of material nature are not to be expected or desired. Such a being is merely an intelligent automaton. He has certain electrical impulses passing through his brain at times, which he fondly likes to call his thoughts, though he is sure they have no real consequence beyond the diversion they might afford him and their effectiveness in directing actions which might end up satisfying his instinctual desires. There is nothing of the divine spark left in him; nor can it be re-ignited while he continues wedded to the belief that this is an adequate justification of human nature.

If this is not the wilful desecration of the divine image - so far as it is present in Man - I don't know what is. Yet exactly these beliefs (and many more with the same ultimate consequence) are actively, even gleefully, expounded, reinforced, publicly demanded, and pushed upon others by millions of contemporary Westerners daily, no small portion of whom consider themselves spiritual - even Christian.

Hrothgar said...

[Continued, as the argument didn't seem quite complete]

Obviously Man is not quite Christ, though from within a Christian framework of understanding it appears he might have the potential to become something very similar. I am not sure, in fact, that the willed negation of an individual human's potential to become so (whether in oneself or others, though it can only be truly chosen by the self), is not in certain important respects a worse act then the willed desecration of Christ's image or symbols. He (it seems) is already what He is meant to be, has at least achieved something very much closer to his ultimate potential than we, and no human act can diminish this, whatever its ill-intent; yet human acts of like nature can certainly diminish or retard, perhaps even destroy, the capacity of human beings to grow in emulation by nourishing the divine spark within themselves.

This does make me wonder where the line of what constitutes sacrilege ought to be drawn - and most importantly from a theistic or Christian perspective, where God might draw that line. Does it take ten, twenty, or one hundred willed metaphysical tramplings on Man's divinity to equal one literal one on Christ's? Is a single example enough, at least while it is unrepented? Or do such behaviour and thinking simply create and reinforce the attitudes that make us more willing to commit actual sacrilege, while being less directly harmful in themselves?

I am coming to suspect, in fact, that rejection of human divine potential, and its encouragement in others, might be the more heinous act.

Bruce Charlton said...

@H - I think it is a mistake to think of this in legalistic terms, such as a threshold of severity. The prime metaphor of God is a lovng Father (and creator); so I try to consider things from that persepctive. And that we have real agency. So what ultimately matters is what we choose. Of course there are 'conditions' to dwelling in Heaven, like the family home. When someone opposes Gods creative, family life - they would not be allowed to subvert or destroy it. But most damnation is chosen. I see this a lot in modern life - people reject Good (often with disgust, or aggresively) and choose evil, they endorse it, support it, propanagndise for it.

Hrothgar said...

Bruce - I suspect that we don't disagree about anything important here, but let's see.

What I was really driving at is that we need to have, at least for ourselves, a workable standard of what constitutes sacrilege unber present circumstances - if we are not to reject the concept outright, which may put us on the side of the evildoers, though perhaps not quite for the reasons most might suppose. This seems particularly important when most of us are not likely to be asked to reject or abuse Christ or his symbols in such direct and open terms as Studdock was in the novel (this makes the true end-game too open, plain for all to see, and may cause more to reject it than is currently happening). However, we are, though numerous daily pressures and sophistic arguments (the media being a primary vehicle for these), persuaded and inveigled into committing smaller, less dramatic acts which seem to me, as explained, to share something of the same nature. My concern is therefore whether us choosing to fail these, the small daily tests to which we are actually exposed, might have similar ultimate consequences (whatever those actually are), and why this might be.

I'm sure that most of us who read the story will sense that this event is the tipping-point of Studdock's journey, and we will probably find ourselves rooting for him to resist at this point, with the feeling that something very important will be lost, perhaps irrecoverably, if he goes through with it - but why is this?

The Christian conception of the divine is not quite like the pagan one - where the gods derive much of their power to continue in their task of stabilizing chaos into order from the energies gained by the sacrifice and ritualistic worship of their devoted followers. Desecration of Athena's sanctum was obviously a serious matter, as it was a direct injury to the goddess, could provoke her wrath, perhaps reduce her power or inclination to protect her followers - it even had the potential to disturb the balance of the whole cosmos.

Desecration of the crucifix might reasonably sadden Christ - but clearly if you were willing to commit such an act to begin with, concern for His possible feelings would not be uppermost in your mind; you might even exult in the presumption that you were causing him pain by this if you did not reject his existence outright. It is not clear that the act has any important consequences to anyone else or to cosmic order, so I think we have to presume that the impending disaster we intuit would be something like the loss or maiming of Studdock's own soul. (It does not seem accidental that Frost, who is clearly as close as humanly possible to being a spiritual lost cause at this point, passed through this stage himself in order to becme so.)

Only in terms of the vengeful God of the Old Testament (which Christ and God-as-love are rather clearly meant to supersede), can this be interpreted as some sort of punishment for trespassing on divine dignity. I agree with you that damnation only really makes sense (in terms of a loving, rather than a vengeful or capricious God) if it is largely self-chosen. It seems to me then that wilful desecration of the crucifix might be a serious matter specifically because it seeks to destroy or negate the divine - though this can only really be achieved with regard to the self - hence damnation.

What about you - do you believe acts of sacrilege are something that really exist, or from which can be expected serious consequences to the self, in something like the terms I have described? Or do you think this might be something Lewis got wrong, or exaggerated the importance of in this case?

Bruce Charlton said...

@H - Sacrilege is real and objective; but my undersdtanding of it is different from traditional categories.

This post probably describes the way I think about such things

Hrothgar said...

Bruce - having read the post you directed me to and taking some time to absorb it, I think we are essentially saying much the same thing, but with a different focus. You seemed, put briefly, to be discussing the need to have a certain reverence for the potential divinity or potency of non-Christian (or not-quite Christian) spiritual beings other than Man; my earlier comments were more concerned with the need to revere those qualities as they inhere in living incarnate humans.

We seem to agree on the fundamental point: that the outright denial or negation of the very possibility of those qualities in another being is ultimately going to cause immense damage to the self above all, since denial of another's potential divinity or reality can only really AFFECT the self. I suspect that you were more concerned with the subject in terms of identifying what you see as a damaging narrowness of spiritual vision within mainstream modern Christianity though.

FWIW, I more-or-less agree with what you were saying there. Either one's own faith, or the deity it is directed towards, perhaps both, must be something very poor and fragile if it is seriously threatened by acknowledging the concurrent existence of Father Christmas, real magic, or the little god of a native tribe. That many modern traditionalist Christians seem to find sacrilege precisely in acknowledging such things, and often react to them with rather hysterical defensiveness and dismissal, speaks eloquently - not for the strength of their convictions, but their weakness.