Monday, 19 August 2019

The philosophical genius of Rudolf Steiner

I have held-off writing about Steiner's The Riddles of Philosophy, because I have not finished reading it; I have spent a couple of years on the job, so far.

Whether I ever get through it entirely, I can't say - this is a work of such density as well as scope. It is a history of philosophy from its beginnings, and not just describing the stages and phases of philosophical development, but making it so the reader can experience them for himself.

I have been reading philosophy, off and on, for more than forty years; and I have never experiened anything approaching this book as an interpretative work. Steiner truly seems to have mastered the great philosophers; in the sense of having serially re-lived the essence of their work in the thought-context of their times.

Of course, this entails taking a very particular perspective on the history of philosophy - one which sees philosophical development as emanating from the (divinely-destined) psychological-spiritual development of Men through the ages of the world.

...Yet this perspective is one with which few will agree, as things stand. Nonetheless, the quality of the results serve as an indirect validation of Steiner's assumptions.

Excerpt from The Riddles of Philosophy -- Chapter 5: The World Conceptions of the Modern Age of Thought Evolution ; or you can listen to the chapter, and whole book, being read by Dale Brunsvold.

A world conception has to be expressed in thoughts. But the convincing strength of thought, which had found its climax in Platonism and which in Aristotelianism unfolded in an unquestioned way, had vanished from the impulses of man's soul. Only the spiritually bold nature of Spinoza was capable of deriving the energy from the mathematical mode of thinking to elaborate thought into a world conception that should point as far as the ground of the world.

The thinkers of the eighteenth century could not yet feel the life-energy of thought that allows them to experience themselves as human beings securely placed into a spiritually real world. Lessing stands among them as a prophet in feeling the force of the self-conscious ego in such a way that he attributes to the soul the transition through repeated terrestrial lives.

The fact that thought no longer entered the field of consciousness as it did for Plato was unconsciously felt like a nightmare in questions of world conceptions. For Plato, it manifested itself with its supporting energy and its saturated content as an active entity of the world.

Now, thought was felt as emerging from the substrata of self-consciousness. One was aware of the necessity to supply it with supporting strength through whatever powers one could summon. 

Time and again this supporting energy was looked for in the truth of belief or in the depth of the heart, forces that were considered to be stronger than thought, which was felt to be pale and abstract. 

This is what many souls continually experience with respect to thought. They feel it as a mere soul content out of which they are incapable of deriving the energy that could grant them the necessary security to be found in the knowledge that man may know himself rooted with his being in the spiritual ground of the world.

Such souls are impressed with the logical nature of thought; they recognize such thought as a force that would be needed to construct a scientific world view, but they demand a force that has a stronger effect on them when they look for a world conception embracing the highest knowledge.

Such souls lack the spiritual boldness of Spinoza needed to feel thought as the source of world creation, and thus to know themselves with thought at the world's foundation. As a result of this soul constitution, man often scorns thought while he constructs a world conception; he therefore feels his self-consciousness more securely supported in the darkness of the forces of feeling and emotion. There are people to whom a conception appears the less valuable for its relation to the riddles of the world, the more this conception tends to leave the darkness of the emotional sphere and enter into the light of thought.

We find such a mood of soul in I. G. Hamann (died 1788). He was, like many a personality of this kind, a great stimulator, but with a genius like Hamann, ideas brought up from the dark depths of the soul have a more intense effect on others than thoughts expressed in rational form. In the tone of the oracles Hamann expressed himself on questions that fill the philosophical life of his time. 

He had a stimulating effect on Herder as on others. A mystic feeling, often of a poetistic coloring, pervades his oracular sayings. The urge of the time is manifested chaotically in them for an experience of a force of the self-conscious soul that can serve as supporting nucleus for everything that man means to lift into awareness about world and life.

It is characteristic of this age for its representative spirits to feel that one must submerge into the depth of the soul to find the point in which the soul is linked up with the eternal ground of the world; out of the insight into this connection, out of the source of self-consciousness, one must gain a world picture. 

A considerable gap exists, however, between what man actually was able to embrace with his spiritual energies and this inner root of the self-consciousness. 

In their spiritual exertion, the representative spirits do not penetrate to the point from which they dimly feel their task originates. They go in circles, as it were, around the cause of their world riddle without coming nearer to it...

Carl Spitzweg - Painter (1808-1885)

I stumbled across this charming and amusing painter's work; he seems to be the German Norman Rockwell.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Modern culture isn't "polarised" - but the opposite!

People are always saying that our culture is increasingly 'polarised', in the sense of there being a gulf of attitude, incomprehension and mutual aggression between - say - those pro-and against Brexit, Trump or Mass Immigration...

But this is merely a squabble between Tweedledum and Tweedledummer about what to eat for dinner. In a more rigorous and fundamental sense, our culture is narrower in views and more homogeneous in opinion than ever before.

What They really mean by 'polarisation' is that there are still a handful of people who dissent from the totalitarian bureaucratic Leftist agenda.

Everybody is materialist and anti-Christian (including most of those who regard themselves as spiritual or Christians).

Everybody is in favour of a utilitarian morality; in which the bottom-line rationale of all social policy is increasing the short-term happiness of (some) people between birth and biological death.

Everybody is in favour of the sexual revolution in at least one of its major components. While there is some mild dispute about the reality of claims that people can and should 'change sex'; there is a massive majority that favour sex outside marriage and easy divorce. Everybody supports the vast and interlocking mass of laws, regulations and public attitudes that systematically override and subvert marriage and family.

By 'everybody' I mean that those who genuinely dissent are a tiny minority of powerless, silent, ignored or vilified individuals.

When it comes to supporting actively-evil insanity over the long-term and universally; we are surely the least polarised society in human history.

Was is Ritual for? Spiritually, and psychologically?

Ritual is about getting contact with the divine, especially when otherwise contact would not occur.

The great age of ritual was the long 'agrarian' period (after the invention of agriculture) - that period of increasing government and formal structures. The agrarian phase came between the original, fluidly and spontaneously organised 'hunter gatherer' type societies where people lived immersed-in spirit and in constant contact-with the gods; and 'modernity' where most people never experience the spirit world, and deny the reality of gods.

To put it another way - ritual is associated with priests; and priests are essential for contact with the  divine. The earliest societies did not need priests although their 'shamans' were useful. And in the modern period priests have dwindled to 'a job' - and been replaced by journalists, public relations specialists and similar commissars and ideologues.

Ritual formed a channel between the individual and the divine.

Without ritual there was no channel, and many or most people could not experience the divine.

Nowadays we think of this subjectively, in terms of psychology; e.g. that ritual trains concentration, and focuses attention, creates a particular and receptive state of mind. But originally, ritual was objective.

Done correctly - and by real priests, ritual changed the world.

As a general observation, it seems that in modernity and increasingly; ritual has lost its effect. Subjectively, people are alienated, cut-off and isolated from the divine and therefore from each other; they no longer experience concentration, focus, receptivity in response to ritual.

Much more importantly, ritual no longer opens an objective channel to divinity. Human consciousness has changed, developed; such that there is no spontaneous link to the divine and ritual is ineffectual.

In sum: we cannot passively experience the divine. To experience God and the spirit world is nowadays an active, purposive choice.

Therefore, as we develop from childhood, we moderns lose our original and spontaneous immersion in the divine; but ritual can no longer serve to keep us in contact with the divine - so most people are cut-off from spontaneous experience of the divine.

And people do not make the attempt actively to choose to re-establish contact; either because they think the divine is non-existent, the task impossible, or else they do not know how and cannot recognise contact when it happens.

Indeed, after a failed attempt at people living by personal ritual (from - say - the middle 1950s to the 1990s); ritual has nowadays becomes primarily evil and satanic in its purpose and effect.

It seems that the Global Establishment continue to deploy ritual (and associated symbolism) as initiations and to enforce loyalty. For the masses; major public events deploy media-peer pressure, crowd-effects, music, sound, intoxication - both to manipulate ritual participants to the desired hedonic and nihilistic materialist world view; and to appease guilt by orgies of mutual virtue signalling (e.g relating to 'charities', awareness, celebration, protest, mourning and other supposedly-good causes). 

However, as I have often argued on this blog, it is the contention of Romantic Christianity that there are truly-Good post-ritual, post-priest-mediated; chosen and individual-led ways that the modern individual can and should resume contact with the divine: specifically with God and the spirit world.

And, although these ways are done by the individual (and the individual must be responsible for them) - by reconnecting with the divine, they also re-open the doors to other people (living and dead) in a directly-experienced and un-mediated way.

The past is impossible and regressive, the present is intolerable (and 'progress' based in materialist modernity is purposively-evil); therefore we should turn our effort and attention to the future.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Freemasonry - Good, bad or what?

A few days ago I read this analysis of the history of Freemasonry by the always interesting, often wise, Rudolf Steiner expert Terry Boardman.

I don't have any very strong views on the subject. When I was a young man, I had a generally benign view of Masons on the basis that I regard Mozart's The Magic Flute as the greatest opera ever written - and that was all about Masonry. eg. from 41 minutes:

I think some of my more remote relatives in Northern Ireland were Masons (and were very decent people), and I had liked the reconstructed Masonic Lodge at nearby Beamish Museum. The Mormon prophet Joseph Smith was a Mason, and introduced elements of it into the LDS Temple design and practices.

Broadly, I regarded Masonry as a charitable organisation where respectable men could meet and do men's things, and perhaps also get something of the spirituality, ritual and symbolism that they were so starved of by mainstream secular-materialism. 

Masonic Hall at Beamish, County Durham

On the other hand, I was aware that people said Masons favoured each other, in local cabals of middle class men; and then from the 1980s, that there were also elaborate deep-historical theories about Masonic influence at a very high level - these are the subject of Terry Boardman's essay linked above.

My current view is that probably all of the above is true; and that the meaning of Masonry depends very much on local and temporal factors which may be net-good or net-evil; but I also believe that that there is an esoteric and occult aspect to high level Masonry that is purposively malign (from a Christian perspective).

Masonry is about Enlightenment - especially its 18th century manifestation - which is deistic (rather than theistic); and opinions about Masonry often divide according to whether Enlightenment is seen as a good or bad thing. A litmus test is the French Revolution - and was it well, or wickedly, motivated - for the Western intellectual class, the French Revolution was well-motivated but unfortunately went off the rails: too far too fast. The same people think much the same about the Russian and Chinese communists revolutions.

For mainstream secular intellectuals, Enlightenment was all about 'reason'; and reason was to be defined and implemented by an elite of wise and educated rulers. Masonry seems to fit with that world view. Apparently, the ritual and symbolism, the secretiveness, the oaths etc. seem to add something that is still needed, even among those who profess to live by reason - and apparently the same sort of thing continues today among the Global Establishment - albeit with a much more explicitly evil aspect to the procedures.

(In a nutshell; the trajectory of the Enlightenment project seems to have been from 'Magic Flute' to 'friends of Epstein...')

In essence, I suspect that Masonry may have long included a core strand that was intentionally anti-Christian, and pro-totalitarian. What I am unsure about is whether this badness comes from the Masonry, or whether the rich and powerful corrupted Masonry with their agenda, in the way that they corrupt everything thing else.

All major modern institutions have, by now, been thus corrupted: the legal system, civil service, universities, science, mainstream 'Christian' churches... all began as having much good about them; all nowadays are top-down net-evil in intention and in effect.

Presumably Masonry is similar; although it may have been one of the first institutions to be thus corrupted - leading to its mixed reputation.

Note: I draw potential commenters attention to the rule in the sidebar: "If my post avoids being specific, I generally will not post comments that are specific."

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Reform or collapse: Does it matter what people say (or write) or what they do?

A detailed comment from 'whitestone' yesterday suggested that we are currently seeing the beginnings of an awakening from the sleep of materialistic Leftism - although I'm not sure whether he meant a Christian revival or (merely) a backlash against the long term trend towards Leftism.

I quite often get comments or correspondence saying that I am too pessimistic, and that there are signs of change. They've been wrong so far, but maybe they will be right now, or soon? After all, if change ever happened (they say) it would probably (?) happen in small ways at first; detectable by someone on the lookout. Right?

In general, I don't take much notice of what people say, only what they do. Some things that people say are significant enough to count as actions, but most are not. Most people do not take seriously what they say, do not feel bound by previous utterances - regard statement as merely a temporary expedient tactic en route to some other, quite different purpose.

Then again, even actions may be so regarded - and can effectively be deniable and denied; especially with the help of mass media framing. It is pretty easy to reverse the perceived meaning of actions.

So maybe neither words nor actions are of much significance. So, what am I looking-for? What would I regard as a significant change of tide?

The answer is that any genuine change of direction would be very obvious indeed, happening on a timescale of days.

Yes, astute observers might see signs a few days earlier than everybody else; but if the great steamroller of the evil agenda really was shuddering to a halt and then reversing - or if a new impulse had arisen in the souls of Men, and they began to live on a different (and religious) basis; this would not be something we would need to go looking-for...

The reaction of the Global Establishment would be Absolutely Massive, far beyond anything we have ever seen. All the major social institutions would be activated - because they are all led by secular Leftists who have subscribed to the agenda of evil.

We would see large and impossible to ignore reactions from the mass media, in state propaganda systems; from our employers, schools, and major corporations - and the mainstream Christian churches.

All Hell would (literally) Break Loose.

Change would, in other words, be rapid or not at all. This I regard as a property of large complex systems; and our virtuality - the single, globally linked bureaucracy - is a very large and very complex system.

It is, I believe, a property of large and complex systems that they are effective at maintaining themselves against many kinds of small scale threats. They simply 'heal over' the damage from a multitude of manageable problems and pathologies - as does the human body.

But when there is System Failure (which is what we are talking about) there is a very rapid and accelerating (positive feedback) domino-effect; by which failure in one part causes failure in others - rather like overwhelming septicaemia.

If the global bureaucracy of virtuality is stressed beyond its capacity to heal; the system will collapse very rapidly indeed; with change spreading out like a worldwide, accelerating and growing tsunami. It will affect everybody on the planet.

Nothing on the scale will have been seen in history, because there are now seven billion people plus - whereas for most of history there was max one billion; often a lot less. The whole world is linked and interdependent now; whereas in the past it was divided into self-sufficient segments.

In the past you could (and people, diseases and starvation did) wipe-out any segment - town, region, nation, continent - and the others would continue all-but untroubled.

(Old societies were more like a tree; which can lose branches, roots, half the trunk - indeed almost everything can be destroyed; and yet the tree may regrow from what remains.)

Now, everybody depends on everybody else; every system is specialised - none can survive alone, coordination is essential.

Small percentage losses are worked around; but when the System is stressed too much; with too great or too many failures - the whole System will collapse and die. 

That is what reversing Leftism would be like; or else Leftism would not really be reversed, but would simply heal and recommence its previous growth (as happened so many times in the past).

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

The stupid meme that Leftists are the New Puritans

I think it was perhaps Mencius Moldbug who originated the stupid idea - which I have seen repeated in hundreds of different versions - that the current, mainstream, politically correct Left are puritans.

Of course there is a grain of truth, else the idea would have gone nowhere. The grain is that New Left is a descendant of the New England Puritans who emigrated from (mostly) East Anglia, became the Boston Brahmins, founded Harvard etc.

And this class, via various mutations including the Transcendentalists and their circle of radicals Unitarians, abolitionists, feminists etc) evolved into the post Civil War US ruling class; who were the fount of post-middle-1960s New Leftism.

OK. But to call the New Left puritans is something only a non-Christian could do, for at least two very obvious reasons.

1. A puritan is very religiously Christian, and believes that this should permeate every aspect of social and personal life.

2. A puritan advocates that sex be confined to (a single, permanent) marriage. In other words, a puritan rejects the entirety of the post-sixties sexual revolution.

Since Leftists are not Christian, and since they are (in theory and in practice) sexual revolutionaries; the idea that Leftists are puritans is wrong. 

The fact that so many supposedly 'Right wing' anti-political correctness commenters accuse Leftists of being puritans, simply shows that those who make the accusation are themselves not Christian and are pro-sexual revolution. In other words, to accuse Leftists of puritanism is itself evidence of Leftism! 

Such an accusation could only come from someone who does not take real religion seriously, and who regards sex and sexuality as trivial

In other words, the accusation that Leftists are puritans could only come from a Leftist. 

A Leftist can concisely be defined as anyone who is not primarily religious, as a principle of social organisation Or, a Leftist is anyone who puts forward any this-worldly principle (happiness, equality, justice, freedom, prosperity, minimisation of suffering, law and order, science...) as the primary goal of social organisation.

And the easiest sign of a Leftist is: someone who is in-favour-of the sexual revolution. 

Note: At least in the USA; the use of 'puritan' as a term of insult seems to have been popularised among the intellectual elite from the socialist, pro-communist left of the early 20th century; such as Van Wyck Brooks's influential 'Wine of the Puritans' of 1908. 

Monday, 12 August 2019

How to pray by writing

At his Steeple Tea blog, SK Orr shares his experiences of praying - and suggests a method of actively-writing prayers that he has devised and found effective. Some readers here may also find it helpful; so why not take a look?

There is no such thing as a traditional Western society (at least, not for hundreds of years)

What I was looking-for was a system that was stable, self-sustaining, and self-defending - generation after generation. What I found was never this.

When I became a Christian, I was profoundly aware that this state of permanent revolution was not 'progress' but instability and destruction - and it could only end in collapse. So I began to look for a prior point of stability (and goodness) that we might realistically aspire to return to. But the more closely I looked, the more I realised that there was no such point.

The Roman Catholic church seems superficially to be a candidate; but in reality the history of the church has been one of continual and radical change - generation upon generation. A particularly striking example of this was that Thomas Aquinas produced the greatest-ever synthesis of philosophy, done in support of Scholastic theology - yet just a generation afterwards, it began to be picked apart by Duns Scotus, Occam and the like.

Eastern Orthodoxy claimed to be a much more tradition-orientated type of Christianity; yet again this was superficial. In the history of the Eastern Roman Empire, there was crisis after crisis of theology and practice; and the same applied to Holy Russia.

The same applied elsewhere. Indeed the insight originally came to me while writing a book about Medical Education (The Making of a Doctor, 1992). That was when I first became aware of the fact that there never had been - for two generations consecutively - a traditional system of Medical Education. As soon as the modern concept of a doctor began to be defined in the middle 1800s, the system was always changing. Specifically, every generation of doctors had a significantly different educational system than the previous one. And the same applied to medical health services.

I later noticed that exactly the same applied to science - and wrote about it in Not Even Trying (2012) - as soon as there was the job of 'A Scientist'' the system of training, and the lived professional experience, of a scientist began changing such that each generation was different from the previous one - there was continual specialisation, expansion, extension of the training, increased size of 'teams'. There was orientation towards publication numbers as a measure of professional success, then 'impact', then a primary focus on grants. And so on.

My conclusion is that - at least in recorded history (and perhaps it is linked to social conditions leading to the the record-ing of history) there has never been a stable system; there had never been a Tradition in the sense I sought - and so many other people have sought.

Tradition is an illusion - produced partly by our own, uni-generational, experience as a norm; and partly by the assumption that it is how things work. Our method of analysis and explanation is one that is cross-sectional, and with a built-in assumption of stability.

This, I think, is one of the reasons why - in practice - it never happens that a society 're-sets' to an earlier stage; even when it acknowledged that later states are worse and earlier was better. It would only be possible to re-set if there was a stable system - but if the system had always been in a permanent state of transition, with all its component causes changing - then of course a re-set is impossible.

This is an important lesson for Christians. In most ways, past societies were more Christian than the present; and modernity (especially since the Industrial Revolution, but arguably since the Great Schism, Renaissance or Reformation - according to taste) there has been a zig-zag but progressive decline in Christianity in the West. And no system has lasted more than a normal human lifetime.

Yet we cannot go back to a traditional past, because it Never Was - the past was always fundamentally unstable. It is not just that we cannot undo what has been done, cannot put the genie back in the bottle - and of course most people do not believe (as I do) in an historical change and development of human consciousness...

But aside from those reasons, there is also this reality of generation upon generational change, such that 'tradition' is a moving-target, a dynamic and unstable flux, as impossible to grasp as a barrel of eels.

My point is that answers to the question "where should we go from here?" cannot include 'backwards'.

We can and should learn from aspects of the past, and can reintroduce practices from the past; but only piecemeal, and the later context will make them work differently. To re-emphasise; we cannot return to any earlier 'set-point'.

I personally have found this helpfully clarifying. History does Not repeat itself (except partially or superficially). There may Have-been cycles, but that doesn't mean that there Will-Be cycles.

Anything that is possible will start from here; and whatever happens will be unprecedented.

Those are the framing constraints on speculation and action; and apply to all alternative futures.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

The Good Shepherd - the centre of the Fourth Gospel

The extended section when Jesus speaks of the Good Shepherd* comes halfway through the Fourth Gospel, and probably constitutes the heart of its teaching.

Here Jesus seems to be telling us the 'mechanism' by which he, personally, is offering us life everlasting; here he tells us by a long metaphor-parable just how-it-works.

It is about the Good Shepherd (and no other) saving his sheep from being killed; and we know from the rest of the Gospel that this means saving Man from death, by enabling resurrected life eternal in Heaven. The Good Shepherd leads his sheep through death to Heaven.

We hear about the two-sidedness of salvation: 'I know my sheep and are known of mine'. The Good Shepherd seeks us out, and we each recognise him.

On the one hand, fake shepherds (the hireling) cannot save. On the other hand, those who do not 'know' (believe-in, love, trust, have-faith-in) Jesus will not be saved.

What is led? The soul, after death. But why does it need to be led - why can't it find its own way to salvation? Because after death the soul becomes 'helpless', lacks agency - like a young child, a ghost, a sheep.

If unable to help itself, how then can the soul follow Jesus? Because - like a young child, or sheep - the dead soul still can recognise and love; and 'follow'.

Where does this happen? In the 'underworld'. Without Jesus, the disembodied, ghostly, demented dead souls wander like lost sheep - as described in pre-Christian accounts such as Hades of the Greeks, or Sheol of the Ancient Hebrews.  

But how does Jesus save the dead souls? Everybody has known Jesus as spirits in the premortal world, so everybody can recognise him in the underworld; but only those who love Jesus will want to follow him.

So loving dead souls are the sheep that can recognise Jesus: the Good Shepherd, they can follow Jesus, and Jesus can lead them to Resurrected Life Everlasting. 

Note: Souls that do not love Jesus will recognise him, but will not want to follow him. There are significant nuances to this, relating to love of 'neighbour' and the desires of individual souls; but that is the basic model. 

Further note: This seems to be very hard for moderns to grasp; they seem to think that Jesus ought-to save people even when they don't want it - should compel people to Heaven because that is what is good for them - and if Jesus does not do this, then he is wicked. 

But this attitude is totalitarian - based on the secular ideology of utilitarianism so beloved by the modern Establishment - who like to believe that (being wiser, cleverer and more virtuous people than the masses) they are 'managing' the world, 'for their own good'. 

But Christianity is based around the creative freedom and agency of each individual person. This means that nobody can be saved against their will; each individual can, if he wills, defy the wishes of God. Whether you regard this a a good thing (I do) it is a fact of post-mortal life - Heaven must be chosen. 

*John.10 [1] Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. [2] But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. [3] To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. [4] And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. [5] And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. [6] This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. [7] Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. [8] All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. [9] I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. [10] The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. [11] I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. [12] But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. [13] The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. [14] I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. [15] As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. [16] And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. [17] Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. [18] No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. [19] There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. [20] And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? [21] Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind? [22] And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. [23] And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. [24] Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. [25] Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. [26] But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. [27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: [28] And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Projecting an earthly mortal society of Final Participation

If I am correct that the development of human consciousness will compel the collapse of civilisation, then it should be possible to say something about the kind of society that would eventually follow. In other words, I will project the nature of a society - here on earth, and with mortal Men - of Final Participation.

The present stage has been called the Consciousness Soul; and it is intensely individualistic compared with the societies of the past. In particular, our evaluations will be, need to be, and ought to be coming from our true selves; by intuition, primary thinking, direct knowing.

In the past, Group Selection of Men was a reality - we lived and died by virtue of our membership of groups; and this groupishness was an objective psychological reality. We could not help but regard ourselves as primarily members of a group - more exactly of nested groups: family, clan, nation etc. 

Groups that evoked the most powerful and courageous motivations would tend to prevail over the long term.

But in the modern era (beginning over the past few hundred years, and especially since about 1800) a new felt and experienced detachment developed (the evolution, from within, according to divine plan; of the Consciousness Soul).

Bottom-up, group-selected groups crumbled, because the mechanism that enabled group selection was removed. Modern groupishness is therefore top-down, necessarily coercive and imposed; it is totalitarian.

Therefore the war for the Consciousness Soul is between totalitarianism imposed-on the CS; and the stage that follows the CS - which is Final Participation. However, totalitarianism is self-destroying; so it will not last. We are concerned with what will come after.   

This means that the future of society will be based upon the cohesion of love: which means real, actual, effective, en-couraging love - of specific persons: family primarily, secondarily real and committed friends (currently so rare as to be almost extinct).

The society that emerges from such a bottom-up situation will presumably be the same in its structure as the societies that came before agriculture and civilisation. Low technology, probably illiterate, without strategic planning, no government, little differentiation of function except for that deriving from individuality, sex and age... Short lifespan, low density population, an immediate return economy of hunting, gathering and making for imminent use. In sum, a society much as (is believed to have) existed in the paleolithic era. 

What would be different is that while past societies were based upon the spontaneous, unconscious, groupishness of Original Participation; a state of 'immersive Being' --- the society of Final Participation would be one based on the experienced conviction that reality is to be found in the universality and objectivity of conscious thinking.

If the ancient paleolithic Original Participation society was based on instinct; the future society of Final Participation would be based on intuition.

There seem to be problems with this vision of the future. There is an economic problem, since efficient extraction of food and resources seems to be precluded. Hence the necessarily low density of sustainable population. Problems would be solved on a case by case basis, in accordance with individual circumstances - location, season, personnel etc.

But in FP, there would be no system or formula - answers would Not be the  same every time, nor the same for all people. People would Just Know what specifically to do here and now and for the best; whereas in OP people Just Did what needed to be done; without knowing why. All decisions would be made on this intuitive basis.

To move to this society can be resisted. It is a basic social situation that may (by the collapse of all possible alternatives) be imposed on an unwilling population who deny intuition and who damn themselves.

Or such a society may arise quite naturally from Romantic Christians doing the right things, making the right evaluations on the right basis; and rejecting the side of evil.

Trolling us with abstractions; tempting us to reframe and re-define...

There is nothing the modern demon loves more than to ensnare people into discussing abstractions.

To trap one group of people inside an abstractions such as racism or climate change (two of the most successful) - and then to suck-in more people to analysing, reframing, by re-defining what racism and climate change Really are (or ought to be). The business goes on forever.

Now that the evil-abstraction-mongers control almost the entirety of the communications system - from the mass media, through publishing and retail; to schools universities and research institutions - intellectual Life seems to have become a continual 'defence' against being-trolled with ridiculous wicked nonsense (equality, diversity, feminism, white nationalism/ supremacy...) that 'cries out' for our immediate and personal clarification and correction...

Yet this never does any good, and the 'need' for it never ends...

And then suddenly death looms, and we realise that have wasted our lives discussing The Enemy's agenda...

Just exactly as They wanted us to...

Note: of course (as well as abstractions) there is A Lot of trolling with specific egregious concrete abuses against Christians (especially - and the not-sufficiently-Left more generally); and much of the anti-Left media do considerable harm (overall) by linking to these, and by thus maintaining a continuous, daily diet of Their agenda. There are some benefits from developing a critique of standard strategies of evil, by decoding and reframing news stories - for example. But overall - since This Never Stops - drawing continuous attention to abuses amounts to a (mostly-inadvertent) collusion with the agenda of the Enemy. Which is one reason why I try to avoid topical discussions here, especially of the "Look at this stupid/evil!" type.

Further Note: A double-negative is different-from a positive; because only a positive induces sustaining courage. We have a lot more double-negative propaganda than is good for us; and it doesn't add-up to anything substantive - as can be observed. Double-negative thinking, at best, induces fear-driven desperation - not courage. But sustained fear is susceptible to habituation (the same dose loses effect), and paralyses rather than energizes. That is why only 'religion' can save us; because Men are innately religious creatures. Without religion we are fatally and incurably maimed - but any saving religion simply must be believed. To plan an 'expedient' religion, 'designed' to save civilization, will fail with 100% certainty; will, indeed, make matters worse quicker.  

Friday, 9 August 2019

Is it The Same hammer after you have replaced both head and haft? Is it the same Man after he has become a god?

If Murphy's favourite hammer has had both its head and its haft replaced several times over its long lifetime - is this still Murphy's favourite hammer? Or is it really a completely different hammer?

I think the 'dilemma', here, is between what we feel, as an unexamined intuition ('it's the same hammer'); and the difficulty of framing an abstract philosophical justification for why it is indeed still the same hammer - despite that everything about it has been replaced.

Properly considered, this is a very deep question indeed; and unless we have a 'theory' that explains why it is still the same hammer, then our metaphysics Must Be wrong.

Because what applies to the hammer applies to persons: applies to specific men and women Christianly-considered. We know that nothing makes sense about anything unless we are the same person through time; yet we also know that potentially everything about us may change, probably should change, as we undergo theosis - as we progress towards deity.

Probably, nearly all of our microscopic body is replaced through life; and even the cells that do last 'a lifetime' (neurons, myocytes) were not there at conception. The entire body is presumably replaced at the chemical level. And the mind of a zygote, morula, embryo, neonate, child, adult, senescent person... well this may have transformed wholly and more than once; leaving aside the re-formation of death and resurrection.

One attempted solution is to posit an eternal and unchanging 'spirit' that persists through all physical and psychological changes. But this, I believe, rules out any fundamental change. All change is rendered superficial - while our core essence is static, by definition  - or else it would not be The Same. This renders theosis trivial - hence I reject it.

There is, however (you will not be surprised to hear) a metaphysical philosophy that can readily explain why Murphy's hammer is still his favourite, and why a person can have literally everything about him (body and soul) replaced (in the process of spiritual progression to full deity) - and yet he or she will still remain the same person.

Mormon theology is based on evolutionary development as a core assumption, which entails that Time is always included in any ultimate analysis, which means (to jump a few steps) that every 'thing' is 'defined' as an uninterrupted lineage, extending through-time.This is one of its great strengths.

So that fact that at two different cross-sectional moments, the same 'thing' may have Nothing in-common, does not matter.

This is an aspect of what I understand by 'polarity' based on process of '-ing'. Or, more simply, a conscious and explicit version of the spontaneous 'animistic' spirituality of children and hunter-gatherers; a metaphysics based on Beings and Relationships in Time

The above is based on a recent post at Junior Ganymede.

William Arkle's audio lecture is back online

Some will not yet have heard the surviving lecture and Q&A session by William Arkle - Discovering your soul's purpose - given in (I think) Yeovil, Somerset around 1990, when Arkle was in his middle sixties.

This was delivered to the Wessex Research Group, which began in the 1980s as a New Age 'coalition'; as part of which lectures from many speakers were organised, recorded and later made available free online.

The founders of the WRG were upper-class esoteric Christians such as Sir George Trevelyan, Canon Harold Blair and his son Nigel (who is usually present at the recordings); but their selection of speakers includes a much wider range of not-necessarily-Christian themes: Channelling, UFOs, Crop Circles, Atlantis, Ley Lines, Alternative Healing, Perennial (Eastern flavoured) Philosophy etc...

Their old website has been down for a year or so, and therefore Arkle's lecture was temporarily unavailable - but now a new website is emerging, and the lecture has just come back online.

I find this glimpse of Arkle's 'style' very valuable in many ways, and recommend it.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

If life after biological-death is real, how come we don't know about it?

Q: If life after biological-death is real, how come we don't know about it for sure?

A: But we do know about it, every one of us - because such knowledge is inborn.

As young children, up to about age five, we knew that biological death was not the end; indeed it does not occur to young children that death would be extinction, annihilation, an end followed by nothing at all...

At about the age of five, there is often a realisation of death; of the fact that people die - that we may ourselves die and leave this world, or that people we love may die and be taken from us. But even then, death is seldom regarded as final.

How about knowing For Sure?

Well, what we do Not know for sure is what happens after death - since there are many theories (e.g. many variants of reincarnation, and many ideas of the nature of an eternal destination - underworlds, paradises, heavens).

This multiplicity of opinions concerning the exact nature of post-mortal experience may itself be a cause of doubting the reality of any kind of life beyond death. Many use this unsureness as a reason to reject their innate knowledge of survival.

Or, perhaps there really are a multiplicity of destinations, depending on the individual, and reflecting what exactly he or she most genuinely wants (as well as what is possible)? 

However, setting aside this uncertainty; we should recall the qualitative fact that everybody has a built-in assumption that death is Not the end.

If we at some point personally decide to reject what we already know, for whatever justification; we are of course free to do so. But we should not then 'blame' the deity for 'failing to have told us' the basic fact of the matter!

Poles apart - James Joyce and John Cowper Powys

I have recently managed to buy perhaps the last ever reasonably-priced copy of JC Powys's last worthwhile (albeit crazy - but that goes without saying) book of essays - Obstinate Cymric (1947).

It includes an essay on Joyce's Finnegans Wake, which makes for an interesting contrast between two very different great novelists. Surprisingly, to me, Powys rates pretty FW highly, and specifically higher than Ulysses; whereas I regard FW as a shallow, tedious waste of time; whereas Ulysses, although mostly a STWOT, contains considerable stretches of wonderful prose.

But, (although I couldn't do it) it would probably be interesting to do a proper comparison of JCP's Glastonbury Romance, and Ulysses as two very different, worthy but failed, attempts at writing the Great Novel of the Twentieth Century. Both aspire to a kind of completeness of panorama; Joyce by going outward in all directions from the microcosm of three person's detailed perceptions and thoughts; Powys by distilling the macrocosm into persons.

I think of Joyce as pouring all his massive talent into trying to live wholly by-and-in Art. Plenty of others tried. All failed, although Joyce managed to succeed On paper - in the sense that he was able to write About people who lived almost-wholly inside Art. He couldn't remotely do it himself - and he was, indeed, rather a small and petty man. Which is the ultimate reason for his none-greatness as a novelist - he had the technique, but not the wisdom; could write like an angel, but had nothing to write about except his own resentments.

( A more recent version of the same combination as Joyce would be Saul Bellow.)

Powys had even more hang-ups than Joyce, or at least weirder ones; but he had a much larger and more complex soul and knew that the key issue of 'modern man' was his alienation; and that thoughtful Men yearned more than anything to re-connect with Life. Although Powys wrote very overtly about himself; he lacks Joyce's in-your-face-egotism, he is not motivated by petty resentments; Powys has that generous and appreciating spirit of the kind variously associated with Chaucer and Rabelais: he loves 'characters', eccentrics and odd-balls. 

So if Joyce tried to lose himself in Art, to write from inside it; Powys tried to produce Art by spontaneous inspiration by drawing it from The World. Joyce was a consummate craftsman; Powys certainly wasn't, nor did he wish to be.

It is always a fact of Art, when judged at the very highest level, that it is constrained by the Artist. Only a great person can produce great art; and most of the best novels are limited by the limitations of their authors, rather than by lack of artistry. Neither Joyce nor Powys could produce wrok of the first rank for this reason - but while Joyce was limited by his nature, and could accomplish everything of which he was (in principle) capable; Powys was limited mainly by his competence - he was capable of a great deal more than he could actually achieve.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

The corruption of England Test cricket - the nation in a nutshell

England were horribly thrashed by Australia in the first test - and at England's 'fortress' of the Edgbaston ground in Birmingham. But - in a way - I was glad, because the selection of the England team was so horrible, that they did not deserve anything else.

England's Test selection in the 1990s was horrible, in the sense of choosing dozens of players, many debutants; often playing them just once, and without any idea whether they would have gone on to become good. (Not many players thrive at the highest level without undergoing a period of acclimatisation and learning.) And, naturally, poor results eventuated from poor selection.

Over the past few years, we have gone to a ridiculous opposite extreme, when players who have been performing terribly for more than a year still don't get replaced; while, by contrast, others who have played very well are dropped. When batters are played as bowlers and vice versa, when 'all rounders' are defined as those who are all-round inadequate at the basic disciplines of batting, bowling and wicket-keeping (especially the last). Meanwhile, the results have dropped back to the level of the 1990s; in particular (cushioned somewhat by the presence of one of the all time greatest bowlers: James Anderson.)

The explanation is that the Test team (and its coach and selectors) has become a gang; and players who fit-into the gang are retained no matter how badly they play for long periods; while those who (apparently) don't fit-in are ejected at the first excuse, or no excuse at all, to make way for the gang members to return.

The blame lies with the coach, selectors and captain; and I don't see much hope until these are replaced. After every further, routine, truly appalling, batting collapse - the reprise is always on the lines of: "We won't panic; there will be no knee-jerk reactions" - which decodes as "We will continue to select 'the gang', and to exclude the capable."

Consequently I find that I dislike most of the current England Test players; either because they are part of the gang, or sometimes merely because they are undeserving beneficiaries of the anti-meritocratic policies.

Cricket (like baseball) is a very statistical game; and we live in an era when the use of  statistical analysis (the 'Moneyball' approach, so called from the superb baseball book) has reached new levels of sophistication. Yet - for the past few years - England selection doesn't just ignore, but actively contradicts what is known from statistics. The word for this is corruption; because corruption can be detected with confidence when personal factors outweigh merit, functionality, performance, and excellence.

As recently as a generation ago, England used-to-be one of the least corrupt of nations; a nation that exported integrity. This integrity came from the the middling people - the skilled working class and middling middle classes (the Nonconformists, in general).

But since the middle 90s (under the generic influence of Christian apostasy and Political Correctness) we have been corrupting as fast as our (always corrupt) Upper Class have been able to lead us, with the pervasive excuse of pandering to the underclass and the mass influx of recent immigrants (both of which the leadership encourage and sustain).

This has been enabled by the insignificant yet utterly 'converged' trainwreck that is current anti-Christian Nonconformism, and the sexualised and intoxicated hedonic materialism of British people generally. The middling people (in short, the Brexit supporters) remain the most decent of us; but they are gutless, gullible and distractable; as de facto atheists inevitably will be. 

Since Test cricket is a microcosm of Life; it is inevitable - as well as depressing - that the general tenor of national Life manifests in the way that the Test cricket team is managed. 

JC Powys gets to the bottom of Nietzsche

I've been listening to my penfriend Keri Ford's reading (in his inimitable, fascinating New Zealand dialect!) of John Cowper Powys's early (1915) essay collection Visions and Revisions on the Librivox site:

Despite being so early in his oeuvre, this book is full of Powys's typically original and surprising insights (and his craziness, of course); and I have been especially bowled-over by his psychological understanding of Nietzsche - which makes sense of this strange yet compelling philosopher whom I have been reading (off and on, albeit mostly off) for some 35 years.

In a nutshell, Powys sees Nietzche as abnormally sensitive to suffering, and his project as a need to know the worst possible about Life, and to accept it.

So N. put forward and developed a series of ideas that he personally found to be the most horrible and horrifying aspects of his experience. He stated these as truths, explored their implications; then (in effect) Nietzsche challenged himself to accept, and indeed embrace, these distinctively personal horrors as positive Goods.

So, for example, the idea of eternal recurrence - by which every life, every specific event, is (supposedly) recycled and relived again-and-again forever; meant that everything that most horrified Nietzsche could never be coped-with, would become utterly intolerable; unless he was able to embrace it as not merely necessary but positively Good, indeed the best possible.

Ultimately Life as is, Just Is; and we must choose to Love it.

This strikes me as a similar end-point as was reached by Charles Williams in his essay The Cross; although CW reached his view from a 'Platonic' perspective that all time is present at all times, so that the worst that any human has ever suffered is always happening everywhere (e.g. Christ Is Being crucified as you read This; and again Now).

Nietzsche, as well as being a very strange and strangely-driven person; was an extremely rigorous thinker; who took a sadistic delight in following ideas through to unpleasant conclusions. But the sadism was ultimately self-directed - and led to insanity and silence (abetted by syphilis).

The reason N. was and is highly regarded as a philosopher, is that something very much of this kind was a genuine consequence of mainstream classical philosophy and theology; Nietzsche saw, and experienced, this unwelcome truth with absolute lucidity; which in turn (thanks to his unexcelled quality of prose) carries conviction.

The Answer to Nietzsche, as I understand it, is to regard the mainstream as erroneous; and to embrace instead some kind of developmental pluralism (as I have done over the past five plus years).

And this was, indeed, what JC Powys attempted to do, explicitly; although Powys failed to achieve it, and instead got stuck in a failed attempt at reverting to Original Participation*, ultimately because of his rejection of the reality of God as a loving Father and creator; which rejection stemmed from an awareness that this was what he most deeply wanted and knew must be true if his totally-despairing conclusion was to be avoided.

For Nietzsche; the fact that a properly understood Christianity was The Only Possible Answer, was sufficient reason to reject it - since this meant that it was too good to be true+.

*Note: Many Romantics over the past 200 years have attempted to 'revert' to an early childhood/ hunter gatherer state of unconscious, passive, immersive participation in The World - but it is impossible. Or, insofar as it is possible, it cannot be remembered, nor advocated - precisely because it is un-conscious and passive; it entails the obliteration of conscious thinking. People can only get back as far as totemism; which is the earliest and simplest phase of ordinary religion. Totemism (as of Australian Aborigines, or Pacific Northwest Amerindians) is a communal religious practice, that deploys symbols (the totems) and a fixed body of stories about-them; preserved in a ritual oral tradition. Powys describes his personal subjective totemism in considerable detail in his Autobiography. It involved daily observances (eg tapping his forehead against a specific stone, and praying to one of his deities) and extensive propitiation ceremonies (e.g. transferring fish from small drying puddles to larger volumes of water). 'Paradoxically' these imply the early stages of exactly the kind of mainstream, conventional church religion that Powys deplored; those temple religions based on ritual sacrifices designed to placate essentially-malign deities. Similar types of totemism were written about by DH Lawrence. It seems to me that to refuse objective external church Christianity, but advocate subjective individualistic internally-validated totemism, is to jump from the frying pan into the fire. This 'move' fails to solve the main problems of religion and instead exacerbates them, by privatising doctrine and practice.

+ This, in turn, implies that Nietzsche was saved, that he chose Heaven not Hell. Because when, after death, Nietzsche learned that Christianity was really true, not TGTBT, he would certainly have embraced that truth; and done so with a joy and gratitude that we can scarcely imagine.