Wednesday 31 May 2023

The existential experience of freedom

I sometimes wonder how many other people have experience of pure existential freedom; a recognition of oneself 'standing before' reality, and choosing how to regard it. 


I suppose that such an experience is not universal, and used to be much rarer than it is now. Now, I suspect that such an experience is almost forced-upon people at some point, or often - but the response to it is extremely varied. 

Existential freedom brings a recognition that - upon our choice - hinges much else; because knowing reality requires something from us, requires our 'participation' - otherwise outside-us is meaningless chaos. 

From our freedom, which comes from our conscious selfhood; is where we recognize divine creation as a reality - and as a possibility. 


It seems to me that it is at this moment of experiencing freedom, that we make the primary decision; which is either to join-with the nature and purposes of pre-existing divine creation - or not

Among those who choose to take the side of divine creation; it is (or should be, I would say) from the situation of existential freedom that they decide how to ally with the divine, how to set-about our lives, what attitudes and assumptions are required. 

Some decide they want to hand-back the ticket of freedom, and of consciousness that enables it: these experience freedom only to reject it. 


In other words; the prime and final act of freedom may be to live as-if there is no freedom; as if freedom does not exist, or is impossible. 


Others make a choice - and then forget that they have chosen! - and tell themselves there was no choice, that the choice was compelled, that there was only one 'rational' choice...

Yet, in freedom there is the experience of knowing that we - alone, as individuals - have the power to reject divine creation. We can each, successfully, defy God; in the sense of rejecting and working against God. 

We have the power to seek other goals, to make alliances out-with divine creation - or against God. 

We can even 'go it alone' - choose to make our own knowledge, meaning purpose - unshared: be God to our-self. 


It boils down to love: the capacity for love, the desire to make love fundamental. 

In knowing freedom, we know that divine creation derives-from love - creation is itself the manifestation of love. Thus to participate in divine creation entails living by love.

Without love, or in opposition to it, creation is experienced as alien, intrusive; is not wanted.


So Much is - or should be - decided from this experience of existential freedom!


Tuesday 30 May 2023

Eroica - A first rate 2003 BBC TV movie about Beethoven's Symphony Number Three

I regard Beethoven's Third Symphony (the Eroica) as the best Symphony ever composed; and one of the handful of best pieces of music. 

But until yesterday, I didn't realize that there exists a really excellent movie (posted below) about the first rehearsal of the Eroica, during which the whole symphony is performed (the recording is by John Eliot Gardner conducting an original instrument band called Orchestre R√©volutionnaire et Romantique).  

It is one of very few first rate movies I have seen closely focused on music, and with a music-appreciation enhancing effect (others include Ingmar Bergman's Magic Flute, and Thirty Two short films about Glenn Gould). 

As well as the 'drama' that surrounds and permeates the performance; the actual rehearsal performance within the movie is filmed in such a way as to bring-out all kinds of details and aspects of the music that I hadn't noticed in the scores of times I had listened to it. 

A few of the musicians were actors, but I think most of them must have been specialist musicians who were playing-along-with what we saw and heard performed. 

The camera roved around the band; and the particular instrument being focused on, at any particular moment, would be subtly brought forward in the mix, so it was as if we were approaching and standing a bit closer to the player.

The drama element was interesting and effective. Haydn was featured as visiting the last movement of the performance and commenting: It is something quite new. Quite new. The artist as hero. Everything is different from today.

Perfectly correct - From the first two chords to its astonishing finale - after the Eroica, music never was the same again. 


 

An archaeological artifact

 


Not me, you fool! - I mean the broken-in-half Roman rotary-quern. 

Such a quern works as described in this video. When complete, this stone would have had a hole in the top, and a hole in the side (you can see two-thirds of it at the point of breaking) which would have had a horizontal stubby stick inserted. 

Wheat, barley or rye would have been dribbled down the hole while turning this upper-part of the quern on a flat stone base, probably incised with lines to collect and channel the resulting flour. The flour came out all around the edges and was collected onto something like a leather hide underneath the quern, a flat board, or a larger flat stone. 

It was a very slow method of grinding, taking (I believe) more than an hour of hard work to grind enough grain for a loaf. 

This object we inherited from an ancient relative, who lived in West Northumberland in the vicinity of many Roman Ruins - which is why we believe it is Roman. 

But to be honest, I can't identify it with any degree of confidence. You might be able to see that it is fluted with vertical hollows - and I haven't been able to find any other similar-looking quern online in order to try and get a better date. 

Anyway, it's very old, and an impressive chunk of masonry. 


Boycotts of specific 'woke' products and services - are they economically effective, moral, realistic, coherent?

People, including bloggers, in the mass media seem very keen on telling people-in-general to boycott some particular product or service of some specific corporation or another in response to their latest woke outrage. 

This proposed boycott is presented as an opportunity to engage in a politically-effective group-action directed against the ever-leftward top-down trend of Western civilization. 

Such 'mass' boycotting is typically encouraged by the promise (or maybe just hope) that this action will inflict economic damage, and perhaps reverse the outrage or drive the evil-corp out of business. 


Accepting that nearly-all/ all woke corporations are indeed evil and that we - and the world - would be better-off without their purposively evil products and services; several things can be said about this boycott tactic. 

In the first place, although it sometimes works - usually it does not; and woke corps are still there (mostly because, indirectly, at our expense, sustained by mass-media support, invisible subsidies, and favourable/coercive laws and regulations). 

Therefore, boycotts may achieve tactical success; but as a strategy boycotts are merely serial single-issue campaigns against particular leftist actions; and these have been a failure, and that is not going to change. 


Furthermore, in a world as pervasively-corrupted as this; we need to recognize that that the entirety of the institutional structure - i.e. The System - is evil-motivated; and, since we are kept-alive by The System, it is impossible to reject it - without, essentially, dying.

Putting hope in multiple, serial boycotts is implicitly to believe that The System - here and now, as of 2023 - can be re-shaped and reformed and turned from evil to become Good. Sincere conservatives have been asserting this for several generations. 

It is time we wised-up and were realistic; and rejected this decades-long delusory (and manipulative) hope of incrementally, gradually, reforming The System to become God-serving. 

We need to recognize that The System is evil in its nature: evil by top-down strategy, and cross-linked-sustaining evil in all of its major social institutional and corporate components.

And the Western masses are overall-complaint with this imposed-evil due to their God-excluding metaphysical assumptions, their this-worldly-materialist motivations and desires.  


In sum; in an institutionally-evil society; boycotts are not - and cannot be - an effective political tool; and it is a waste of energy and displacement of effort to assume they ever could be. 


Yet, such self-exclusion and avoidance of particular aspects may be a very important spiritual act. 

A specific act of boycotting may be very good for us personally. It may even be spiritually decisive to us sometimes to refrain from some particular consumption or activity: to self-exclude from a particular aspect of evil. 

We will know if and when this is the case; and when it is the case we should Just Do It.

We should not engage in shallow and incoherent justificatory political arguments to pretend that we are engaged in some kind of general social activism by refusing some particular and specific micro-aspect of the whole vast mega-System.


We will know (if we allow our-selves to know, and desire to know) what is necessary for Us: when, that is, participation in Some-Thing would be spiritually corrupting - maybe even spiritual death. 

At this spiritual level, we cannot know what will be any positive effect of our own tiny little action (tiny in the political scheme of things, tiny in terms of The System); but we do not need to know any further than that it is Good for us to do so.

Such Good may lead to more general Good of a spiritual kind... If God takes it up into his ongoing-creation, and if other's also choose to align with it - for their own analogous personally-compelling reasons.    


Such a perspective on 'boycotts' may be liberating, enthusing, and tough-minded - 'tough' because it does not rely on false hopes, or self-deceptive optimism about political consequences. 

It is easy to understand - but hard to do. 

We only need to focus on this particular decision, and its rightness - and leave the rest to God. 

**

Note added: An analogy - which may help explain the strategic ineffectiveness of economic boycotts; is to regard The System as a human body, and each boycott as equivalent to a needle prick on the trunk or limbs. Each needle prick may draw a drop of blood; yet dozens, even hundreds, of such pinpricks will not threaten the life of the body. Nor will pinpricks cause any change in the fundamental purpose and operations of the body. The body-system integrity is such that it can deal-with and heal-over almost any number of pinpricks. This is how the material world operates - but the God-created world of divine spirit has different rules. 

Monday 29 May 2023

What is God doing with the world?

To ask what God is doing in the world - in whole or in part - is regarded as either futile or blasphemous by many/ most religious people through history - and even today. 

Yet for Christians the question is (or ought to be) permissible; and through the past several generations the has indeed become unavoidable - since it will be asked by others and by culture generally, even when a Christian declines to answer it. 

Since the question is permissible and in practice culturally unavoidable, it may well be (which is already to assume the answer!) that indeed God actually wants us to ask this question - and even to expect a satisfactory answer - when the specific question is legitimate. 


But if we want a satisfactory answer to any question, we should stick to that question. We should not keep changing our ground. 

If we are asking about what God is doing with the universe as a whole, this is different from asking about Mankind-as a whole, and this again is different from asking about Modern Man in The West. And these are each different against from the God's intended meaning about something bad that happened to me in childhood, or earlier today. 


Furthermore; answers to large scale questions and about 'my' life, will become confused and unsatisfactory if we shift the question to - "yes, but what about what happened to grandfather in the war" or "but how can that apply to those people I read about in yesterday's newspaper?"... 

That is; very specific questions about 'other people' - and concerning matters for which we have only hearsay, and perhaps vague, unreliable, distorted, or dishonest evidence. 

So, we can know "what God is doing" for our-selves, maybe for those we love and know well; but (surely?) not for those we neither genuinely care for nor genuinely know. 


On top of this, there is this shifting the question, moving back-and-forth between questions about Mankind across the centuries and millennia; and Me questions about Me-Here-Now. 

God can guide us to answers about both or other aspects, great and small, long- and short-term -  and within limits of our comprehension. But any comprehensible answer will necessarily be relatively simple and brief - therefore the same answer will not work for each and every possible specific question. 

God was hardly likely to be doing exactly the same thing during the fall of the Roman Empire, as he is during the current fall of Western Civilization. We should not expect one answer to work for all questions. 


If we ask a specific question, and do so sincerely and for 'Christian' (rather than self-seeking or worldly-expedient*) reasons; we can expect from God a specific answer...

But we can't expect that particular short and clear answer to what God is doing, also to be directly applicable to every other question about what God is doing. 

No doubt, in an ultimate sense, many short and specific answers will fit together and make one coherent 'master' answer - yet there are an unlimited number of possible questions - so such answers can only be given in terms of God's nature and motivations, God's 'character' as a Being. 


To get for oneself a personal (a direct, relational) apprehension of God's nature is (I believe) the single best way of getting a unifying and coherent sense for what God is doing with the world.  

This is possible for Christians because of what we know of and from Jesus Christ, from the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and from directed prayer and 'meditation'  - because (for Christians) we are all the nascent divine children of God, with a share in His divine nature...

Ultimately; because God wants us to know, and - as creator - can make it possible for us to know...

After that - to know what we need and would benefit from knowing is up to each-of-us.
 

* - It should not really need pointing-out, but does (because we forget); that if we want to know what God is doing in this world and our mortal lives; we can only get true answers insofar as we consider this-world and our mortal-lives in the context provided by eternal resurrected Heavenly life - which is the ultimate purpose, hence meaning-provider - of our world and mortal life. 

Sunday 28 May 2023

Leadership and the cricket IPL (Indian Premier League)

We have been following the Indian Premier League (IPL) over recent weeks, which is the biggest, most highly paid tournament in world cricket. 

Each team has at least seven out of eleven Indian players, and the rest can be overseas signings; and IPL salaries and standards attract from the best players across the world. 

The IPL plays the T20 version of cricket (an English invention, from 20 years ago!) - which is a 20 overs per side, approximately three and a half hour, game; in which the winner is the side that scores the most runs when batting. 

The resulting game is very tense and eventful, in which every one of the 120 balls per innings counts; and which often leads to close, exciting finishes. 


Today is the finals day, and the two sides that have made-it through the long competition up to here (involving 15 or 16 games) are - not by coincidence - the two best captained sides (and both have Indian captains). 


The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are captained by wicket-keeper/ batsman MS Dhoni, who is nothing short of a legend in India - perhaps the most popular famous person in the country? (If not Dhoni, then the current star batter Virat Kholi.) CSK have won the IPL, and got into the finals, many times before.

The Gujarat Titans (GTs) were only formed last year, and won the competition immediately. They are captained by all-rounder Hardik Pandya - who explicitly modelled his captaincy on Dhoni. Indeed the GTs management (coach etc.) contain many people who have worked with Dhoni, and learned from him.

Thus, in the IPL, we can see an old-style apprenticeship system informally developing, in which one successful leader serves as a mentor and a model for others capable of learning by participation. 


Dhoni's calm and decisive leadership style on the field is only at the surface of what he does - most of which is preparation. It is a paternalistic system - with Dhoni as a 'stern and loving' father, one who cares about each member of the team, treats each as an individual - shaping the organization around each man's particular nature and strengths; who rewards effort and achievement by loyalty.  

Pandya's style on field is much more genial - more like a brother than a father. He is demonstrative, always cheerful and seems confident, never mind the situation; always positive and encouraging. Pandya reminds me somewhat of the current English Test Match (not T20) cricket-genius leader - Ben Stokes

Also, Stokes and Pandya are similar in being (to me, anyway) not-at-all-obvious 'leadership types', and with 'naughty boy' reputations off- and on-field. 

In military terms, both Stokes and Pandya more like NCOs than junior officers - Sergeants rather than Dhoni coming-across more as a Lieutenant or Captain (although Dhoni's social class background is modest, middling). 


I find it cheering to see the benefits of genuine leadership coming-through and triumphing in such a highly competitive 'system' as the IPL. 

And to see how each genuine leader - whether tactical, like a cricket captain; or more strategic like the off-field coaches - is unique; because such excellence must be rooted in specific persons - not systems.

In a world where most 'leaders' are obviously merely docile (or indeed demented) puppets, pretending to administer inhuman bureaucracies - it pleases me to observe what remarkable things are possible for individuals when they are given scope. 

And after seeing so many pseudo-leaders lavishly rewarded for corrupting, inverting, or destroying, their institutions; it is a refreshment to turn to a residual social activity in which the ability to do a good job is still of primary importance.   

 

Saturday 27 May 2023

Societal demotivation - how far can it go?

I have been asserting for many years that motivation - the lack of it, its weakness - is the overwhelming problem in modern Western societies; and that its root is the deletion of (real) religion - which was, through recorded history, the strongest motivator of Men.


The fact that fashions and fanaticisms change so often and so fast, is a consequence; that almost nobody resists anything pushed at them; that public discourse is so reactive to top-down formation. 

That organizations no longer pursue distinctive goals; the feeble and dwindling attention span; the near-immediate memory-holing of major life experiences... all are evidences of this motivational deficit and its worsening. 


Most attempts to recover motivation, have themselves sought to create or develop external-motivators; to try and rebuild the by-now themselves externally-manipulated, corrupted and converged institutions and nations which used to be associated with a more motivated past. 

But the (supposedly) stronger external institutional motivators of the past were themselves generated and sustained by more-motivated individual Men. Modern institutions, however, are merely bureaucratic - and bureaucracy is prime evidence of our demotivated state. 

Bureaucracies are circular, self-parasitizing systems that only work when Men are significantly demotivated; and bureaucracies need to provide more and more, ever more arbitrary, micro-motivations - in order simply to continue. 

So; the desire to re-motivate Men by a resurgence of strong, self-confident, and inspiring institutions - especially churches, or The Church (i.e. 'The' for a particular person) is itself doomed to fail; since such churches will necessarily need to be made and operated by Demotivated Modern Men. 


But how far can this go? The dominant globalist totalitarian agenda is exactly calculated to demotivate the world population - in order that it be docile and manageable. 

But, at some point; won't people Just Give Up? 

...Lose motivation to live, and - with their last glimmer of motivation - yearn for, and feebly seek, only a quick and comfortable death? 

Some such dynamic would seem to underlie the rise of state-administered programs of 'assisted suicide'/ euthanasia; all of which seem readily justified to the modern mind by their promise to reduce human suffering - which seems to the modern mind the highest and noblest goal of morality.

(Not noticing the logical conclusion: when life entails suffering - then no-life seems preferable to life: and we arrive at the 'moral' justification for massive population sterilization and ('humane') annihilation.)       


Those of us who disagree-with and are resistant-to the down-spiral of demotivation are - understandably - casting-about for something to motivate them. 

But there are plenty of pitfalls if motivation becomes the proximate and this-worldly goal. 

Although we must-have something to motivate us; this does not mean that anything will suffice to do the job. 


Among the most-motivated individuals are those being progressively consumed with prideful self-love; psychopaths whose rewards come from the manipulation and harming of others; and those who embrace a kind of mania of self-stimulation and hyperactivity. 

Too many any of those who offer to lead 'us' into sunny uplands of meaningful and purposeful lives betray such or similar gross personal pathologies: in effect their own craving need for motivation fuels their crazed and unbalanced attempts at crusades. 

This includes self-identified - and indeed sincere - Christians; who lack the insight that that their own zealous and burning motivational state is using Christianity as a mere vehicle for the self-aggrandizement - a self-reinforcing process upon-which they depend like an addictive drug; a drug required in increasing doses in order to retain the (here and now, this-worldly) motivational state that they absolutely need - and without-which they would rapidly collapse into oblivion-seeking despair.  


The problem of demotivation is therefore extremely serious, central to our times, and getting worse; yet the proposed solutions often make things even-worse-still by displacing self-help into fantasies of external saving; or delivering people into the mercies of sadists, maniacs or the pathologically-driven.


As usual, any genuine solution to such deep problems will begin with acknowledging and understanding that there is a problem, and its nature. 

The right answer must, usually, come from-within - and will certainly not be imposed from without, from a dominant culture which has made and worsened the demotivated world. 

And the right answer will - surely? - be other-worldly in its primary basis and frame: will overleap the corruptions and deceptions of immediate gratification and 'success' and look beyond to life everlasting. 


From that next-worldly perspective, we may then look-back on our actual mortal life - and sufficiently recognize, understand, and be motivated to do... 

To do that which needs-to and should be done; by us, by Me: specifically and personally, starting Now. 

Since we all already co-create our reality; which reality should we choose to co-create?

Things in the modern world, especially 'The West', are much-more wrong than most people (most Christians) realize - and wrong for fundamental (metaphysical) reasons. 

Modern Men already (and increasingly) participate in 'making' the realities they inhabit - they co-create reality

This has always been the case - but whereas it used to be unconscious, spontaneous, automatic - and therefore it seemed like reality was 'out there'; now our participation is increasingly conscious - that is, we choose the reality we inhabit. 

(This was shown, to my satisfaction, by Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield - and a similar perspective is well expounded by Stanley Messenger in the first 25 minutes of this lecture presentation: Virtual reality and the paranormal.) 


The evil consequences can be seen all around - but are mistakenly usually put-down to people rejecting 'reality' - in favour of believing subjective (or collective) delusions, illusions, wishful-thinking or whatever. 

But this analysis is (ultimately, at depth) a mistake - which is probably why it has no traction as a critique - because there is no objective reality that is 'free' from participation by consciousness, because all realities are (in a strong sense) chosen. 

Instead of asserting an objective versus subjective distinction of real versus false-virtual; we ought to replace 'reality' with 'divine creation' - and then evaluate our multiple, subjective realities as to whether or not our personal realities are harmonious-with, and seek the same goals as, divine creation. 

In other words; do we want to choose to become a committed member of divine creation; or to reject it and 'do' something else instead. 


1. We all co-create reality, and 

2. We all exert considerable conscious choice concerning the reality we co-create. 

3. Most people choose to participate in the mainstream reality propagated in a totalitarian fashion by government, mass media, major corporations and the major social systems (law, churches, health services, education, policing etc.). 

4. But this mainstream totalitarian system (which so many people choose to co-create and inhabit) is incoherent and unstable; and offers no meaning, no purpose, and no hope. 

5. Therefore, the apparently-'easy' option of joining yourself to the mainstream System; in practice (and increasingly) turns-out to be a PSYOPS: a continuously-destructive psychological manipulation that makes no sense, violates our instincts and intuitions alike, and results in a continually-dysphoric and increasingly-despairing mind-state. 

6. Yet all public discourse is, by-now, converged-onto the mainstream System - all sub-systems lead to the One Global System; all public groupings are densely interconnected-with, substantially controlled-by, The System -- Therefore the only alternatives to The System lie out-with The System - and are ignored, suppressed, denied, and attacked-by The System. 

How then can we discover alternatives... How discover the truth of divine creation?  


So, this is our situation - what confronts us. On the one hand, there is all the mainstream stuff, fed us by the mainstream (including churches); and on the other hand, the mainstream is evil, ineffective, misery-making, despair-inducing rubbish

Yet, if we want anything different-and-better; something which sustains (for instance) any or all of meaning purpose, life, consciousness, creativity, hope and love - then we will need to find-out about it for ourselves, using our own best judgment. 

And because we need to do this job in the face of almost universal opposition; therefore, our personal understanding of divine creation will need to be something we are really motivated to believe, some-thing we really believe! - something that we regard as really true, and also something we want to be true!

Only something as solid as this; will suffice in the face of such vast and pervasive opposition.  


The task therefore, should we choose to accept it, is to find-out each for our-selves about divine creation - from our experience, from sources we trust, from that kind of reasoning we regard as solid; confirmed by our deepest, strongest and most-enduring intuitions.

We need each to find-out about divine creation, and how we can live in harmony with it, and how - in our actual personal lives - we can seek its goals.  

And we need to find-out primarily with respect to our-own tough, enduring and inspiring satisfaction. 


Because anything less we will not be able to develop and grow; anything less will not suffice to resist, and to overcome in our hearts and minds the vast power and propaganda of the evil that is the mainstream, totalitarian, global System. 

  

Thursday 25 May 2023

What are those who call for 'action, not words' really asking?

Dissident Christian websites, are usually inhabited by pseudonymous identities (or writing as 'anonymous'), who pour scorn on useless talk, and call instead for 'action', for doing something: organizing, confronting the problem etc. 

And with the implicit, when not explicit, assertion that those who 'just' try to understand, discuss or engage in spiritual activity (and don't fantasize about organizing militia) are not real men; are shirking responsibility; are (because they 'must be') lazy, cowardly, quietistic, pacifistic, self-pitying, miserable, terminally despairing... 


What is going on here? 

First, I always notice the absurdity of those who urge real, physical and manly action (danger, risk?) while sheltering behind pseudonyms. 

Second, some of these pseudonyms will surely be agents, provocateurs, Establishment snoops, trolls - and the like. 

But what of those who are serious - who sincerely desire to embark on well-directed and direct action in pursuit of Christian goals? 

What exactly are they asking-for, when they demand to be told what to do.   


My impression is that many are craving a well-motivated and strong group which they can join

Or, perhaps they believe that there already-is such a group, a particular church - for instance, and are seeking for it, or recruiting for it?

Or they may be asking that somebody (i.e. somebody-else - not the asker himself) get-on-with the task of forming and organizing some such group (i.e. the kind of group the asker feels that he would like to join); so that the asker can then join it, and join-in with its work. 

In sum - a lot of people (understandably!) want a tough gang that they can join, who will provide guidance of what-to-do, and strong backup for doing it. 


An understandable desire  - and one we have surely all felt at some time!

So why are such 'calls' so-often heard, for so many years - and yet, and yet... It never happens!

There are many reasons why it never happens, or else it would have happened. 

But the main reason is that things are much worse than those who demand action realize. 

Our society is much-more profoundly corrupted and demotivated than believed by those who believe that things can be turned-around merely by some sarcastic or scornful online cheerleader who is trying to discover a suitable gang he can to join. Much worse than one who vaguely hopes that (acting in response to his pseudonymous scorn) that somebody-else, somewhere, will be stimulated to form such a gang. 


In essence all the powerful 'gangs' are already-corrupted.

That is the powerful gangs are overall (and usually explicitly in several respects) anti-Christian, pro-leftist, and operate in accordance with the agenda of totalitarian materialism. 

In sum: the big, strong and thriving gangs are on the side of Satan and against God. 


What about organizing a bigger, stronger and more deeply-motivated gang in service to Jesus, to fight totalitarianism, leftism, and other forms of evil - and instead to impose Good? 

The first and deepest problem is finding enough and suitable personnel: enough who are properly-motivated, strongly-motivated, tough... 

Such people must also be willing to accept here-and-now significant disadvantage and harm - in pursuit of long-term good.

Ultimately what is needed is sufficient people who will be motivated to suffer (for sure), and (maybe) die, for that Good which they strive to bring-about. 

And that is exactly what cannot be found. 


To my mind; a pseudonymous commenter or blogger asking for 'action' has - by sheltering behind a pseudonym - probably already shown himself personally unwilling to take risk or suffer disadvantage; in pursuit of long-term goals -- no matter how sincere his inner desire for a better world. 

Therefore, the high prevalence and affected-tough attitudes of 'pseudonymous chicken-hawks' illustrates one important reason why it has (apparently) not been possible to recruit enough sufficiently-motivated people to form a new and strong movement against the left/ materialist/ totalitarians - and in favour of a Christian society. 


But there is usually more than one reason why some-thing good and desirable has-not-happened; and a further reason is that - here-and-now, as society is presently structured - organizations of sufficient size to be strong are bureaucracies. 

Bureaucracies are intrinsically leftist-tending, materialist in the procedures - and therefore have a continual tendency to become short-termist and expedient (hence weak).

Also, to recruit and sustain themselves and grow - and here-and-now organization must do-so in an environment in which personnel management, employment, workplace, accounting, loans and penalties... and a multitude of other constraints have built-in pro-Leftist and anti-Christian rules and laws. 

(This is probably a major reason why the largest and most potentially-powerful churches, have by-now all been tamed and conformed to the anti-Christian core agenda items - the Litmus Tests. Of course; many people are self-blinded to this reality; but that does not stop it from being reality.)

Thus, any strong organization will be bureaucratic, and any bureaucratic organization itself will be (to a significant and increasing degree) de facto leftist in its workings...

And to the extent it is Not conforming to the left-agenda; the organization will be diminished in its power to propagate and impose its views.   

A double-bind. 


In practice, therefore, either we are willing to start taking action on our own, in a situation where this will mean we suffer immediate disadvantage and increased risk, and without back-up...

Or else we will continue to wait - hoping to find a suitable and ready-made group that doesn't exist.

Or, waiting for 'somebody-else' to create such a group in a societal situation aggressively designed to prevent any such group arising and retaining significant power or influence. 


In sum; those who want to join an already-existing tough gang on the side of Good before taking any action themselves, are disappointed to find they don't exist. 

And those who want somebody else to organize such a gang for them to join, are likely to be waiting a long time...   

This means if we want action to be taken, we our-selves must take action essentially alone - without back-up, with our particular gifts and disadvantages, and from the exact situation in which we find-ourselves here-and-now. 


Because each who acts positively will be acting alone in an unique situation, there can be no generic good advice about 'what to do'. So - don't ask for it!

And because he is working essentially alone and with no back-up; anyone who is genuinely engaged in serious 'material' action to change modern society positively would be stupid to reveal his plans publicly! 

And here we come to another crux: the material versus the spiritual. 

Those who ask for action mean 'action in the material realm' - and they do not regard spiritual action as real. They regard spiritual activity as just an excuse for sheltering and hiding; for doing-nothing. 


However, given the realities; spiritual action must be primary, must come first, must be done before any realistic change that material action can possibly succeed

This is because personal action must genuinely be positive, must truly favour the Christian goals; and this means that Christian action absolutely-must be properly-motivated

Wrongly-motivated action will work against Good, and for evil - no matter what that action may be. 


Furthermore, well-motivated individual action must be strongly motivated, because otherwise it will rapidly fail due to the adverse worldly incentives; and this motivation must be 'from-within' because it cannot depend on institutional or social support. 

This world has-been structured so that we (as individuals) must be prepared to suffer and risk in the short-term, in order to have even a chance of betterment in the long-term.   

This means strong faith; which means a faith which looks beyond this material mortal world...

Which means spiritual strength must come first - or else no action will be taken, or the individual's good-intentions will fold and collapse at the first significant obstacle.


In sum: if you are Christian and want action, don't wait for other people to prepare your ground: do it yourself; working from your own unique nature and situation. 

But don't talk about it!

And don't forget that effective material activity for Good comes-from, and is fuelled-by, spiritual strength - deriving-from strong love-for and faith-in God, and with loving motivations dominated by our living hope of resurrection. 

 

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Gareth Knight - Romantic Christian

In 2011, Gareth Knight (1939-2022) published an autobiography titled I call it Magic which is easy and enjoyable to read on the surface; yet contains several deeper layers of implied content that have only revealed themselves on re-reading.

Of particular interest was his account of the transformation in his own 'magical life' throughout his adult life; especially the changes in what he 'called' magic, the means by which he reached the state of enchantment or poetry, and the actual content of these magical-states. 


Knight began as a formal ritual magician, ascending through the prolonged training and initiatory steps of the Society of the Inner Light (founded a generation earlier, as a Christian organization, by Dion Fortune); he went on to found his own ritual magic group - on similar, though looser, lines; then to 'staging' much larger annual weekend events (almost 'happenings') at an anthroposophical centre called Hawkwood. 

By Knight's own account, in the 1970s to the early 1980s, these weekends attained a very powerful level of magical activity among the participants (who had been trained in the requisite methods of concentration and visualization). He then stopped doing this, and moved on to less formal and more improvisatory styles of magic either alone, with his wife and daughter, or in small and private groups. 


After the turn of the millennium his magic practice had changed further. In December of 2004 he was invited back to the Hawkwood weekend; which had changed considerably over the previous couple of decades (the following quotations are from Chapter 31 of I called it Magic) :

The occasion was a jolly romp, with the place filled to capacity, and a rich variety of activity. [But] Power was not ramped up to the degree that it had been in the early Hawkwood days...   

In other words, the experience was less-strongly magical, less enchanted than it had been. In other words; this corresponds to my observations on the declining power of symbolism and ritual through the late 20th century.  


Knight does not draw attention to the meaning of these changes for his inner life; but describes how in fact his practices changed - in the direction of becoming more individual, personally based, and exploratory (rather than relying-on an established and quasi-objective system of symbols, rituals, and group activity). 

Rooted in his study of French language and literature (in which subject he did a degree in later life); Knight embarked on an engagement with the medieval French Arthurian poet Chretien de Troyes:

I took upon myself the task of going through each of Chretien's romances as if both he and I were present, travelling through the whole scenario from start to finish as a kind of directed visualization, and writing it all down...

It then filtered into my head the realization that much that I had witnessed in this was was not chivalrous knights going to the aid of damsels in distress but accounts of their initiation into fairyland - for there was a strong case for seeing the principal female characters as faery rather than human. 


This led on to what Knight termed faery 'contacts' - which then led to writing several books deriving from these contacts. What this meant he explains further: 

It dealt in imagery but with a philosophical intent, yet a wisdom expressed more through the medium of a story than by intellectual definitions. To make the contact it was necessary to build a scenario [i.e. in imagination] something like a questing knight discovering a castle in a particular symbolic shape, and then entering into it... with a ... direct feeling of relationship with the fabric of the building itself. 

After further description of his imagined but real-seeming experiences; Knight elaborates the resulting new and deeper engagement with nature:

This kind of thing was at a different level from local countryside experiences where contact was virtually devoid of intellect but impacted more on the emotional and etheric levels... Along with contacts... came a greater sense of presence and communion with the world of nature, and particularly trees...

It may well be that experience and wisdom of this nature comes with age, which is [an] aspect of the Merlin and Nimue story... But there is no real need to await one's dotage for a realization of these things.

  

What Gareth Knight seems to me to be describing here, is a kind of recapitulation of Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield's scheme of the development of consciousness. The ritual magic was the Intellectual Soul era, characteristic of classical and medieval culture. 

Contact bears some relationship to 'channeling' of spiritual Beings - which he also did for example in a channeled series of direct communication (much like taking dictation) of 1993, published as The Abbey Papers

But 'contact' comes across to me as much more of a two-way interaction between himself and a spiritual Being - and not necessarily in words, nor in images - i.e. more direct than language- or symbol-mediated. 

Knight then moved towards what sound very much like Final Participation - which is something like a recapitulation in conscious thinking of what was a much more passive and unconscious in the spontaneous animistic Original Participation of early childhood and tribal Man. 

Animistic, because it recognizes the world as consisting of living, conscious Beings with which one may have relationships and communication. Knight also seems to be moving towards a communication less based on perceptions and visions, and more a matter of what I have called Direct Knowing: that is direct, wordless and imageless communication in thinking. 

In other words, a direct communion between Beings, such that the thinking of one is participated-in by the thinking of another. 


Once Gareth Knight had reached this kind of 'magic' I think he has largely left-behind the formal and institutional roots of his practice, and indeed its 'objective' aspects, where experiences were shared via a common language and symbolism that could be relied-upon to evoke the same inner states in its participants.

It seems he has - in practice, if not in terms of theorization - fully Romantic Christian; in that he takes an inner, intuitive and personal responsibility for whatever 'methods' he uses to attain magical states of mind (within the over-arching and primary Christian metaphysical framework).   

Knight puts this change down to his own personal development, experiences, expediency, and ageing - but such is the generality of such a development that I interpret it as driven by inner and divinely-destined changes in the human consciousness of Western Man. 


What all this seems to mean is that (here and now) we cannot rely upon external and institutional forms of spirituality to attain 'participation' in the world; and the language of 'objective' communication of spiritual experiences has weakening and withered. 

Yet, on the positive side, we can develop distinctive (perhaps unique) personal 'aids' and methods (i.e. 'contacts' occurring inside thinking, rather than as external 'events), that will achieve the participation which is natural, good, and divinely-intended. 

Also, that strong forms of achieved participation are likely to be more animistic and personal - engagement with particular Beings - than the abstract forms of earlier symbolism. 

     

Whether Gareth Knight would have agreed with my interpretation of his life and development is perhaps doubtful... 

It does rather involve a cutting-off of the branch upon which his life's work rested: that is, the general validity of some particular kinds of ritual, symbols, group-activity; and the communication of these in abstract and written forms, and by speech. 

But his desire to use more narrative story-like communications; his primary mode of magic in later life being a personal, inter-Being and two-way 'contact'; and the continually-evolving nature of the subject matter and formal techniques of his magic - all suggest that there was exactly such an evolution; and that Gareth Knight's life ended with him being implicitly a genuine and fully-realized Romantic Christian. 


Loss of the (supposed) Collective Unconscious - an effect of modernity and the declining power of symbolism

Reading books from even as recently as the early and middle 20th century, it is clear that many believed-in (or at least hoped-for) a universal and permanent 'system' of symbols - which was inferred to be rooted in an innate collective unconscious - that would reliably evoke human responses of particular types: certain symbols 'releasing' certain emotions, thoughts, behaviors, motivations etc. 

This idea has mystical overtones; but also had a quasi-scientific aspect, with supposed roots in biology, evolutionary history, and the presumed structure of the human mind (and brain). 


Yet there has been a striking decline in the specificity of symbolism, and its power - and the great mass of people (especially in modernized societies) have all-but completely abandoned whole systems of symbolism that as recently as a century ago seemed to be 'eternal' - part of the human condition. And among those who have not abandoned these system, they clearly have less power, are less motivating, make less of a difference. 

There are many factors contributing to this - I'm sure that the constant influx of novelty (especially from mass media), changing surroundings, changing location, cultural mixing; plus a great deal of top-down subversion focused on Christianity, tradition, and related to the pervasive leftism of modernity - all had a role to play. 

My own assumptions is that this overall process was driven by changes in the nature of Man's consciousness; which were ultimately part of our divine destiny - because the power of symbolism to evoke religious devotion and solidarity (for instance) was also a subjugation of Man to the power of symbol: a limitation to each man's freedom, autonomy, agency.  


It seems to me that there is a direction of spiritual development at work, which is a matter of maturation from child like, through adolescent, to adult - and aiming-at the divine state of resurrected Man becoming a co-worker with God and participant in creation. 

In this mortal life on earth, such a spiritual development is a maturation - but it is not a spiritual improvement - just as maturing from a child to adolescent is not always (or usually) an improvement... Rather it is a new set of challenges and possibilities, and maybe more people fail to respond well to these changes than emerge as better people. 

Growing up is a very risky business. Nonetheless, it is what we must attempt, if we are to reach higher spiritual levels - which is what we are alive for.  


My point here is that we have an enormous cultural residue that assumes, in the face of current experience, that symbolism is an intrinsic 'fact of life'; that both for better and worse, certain symbols evoke certain human responses. 

People on the side of God therefore deploy Christian symbolism where possible - putting crosses, ICHTHYS fishes, Bibles, performing public rituals, building sacred buildings. But they seem to have little effect - if any. 

On the other side; those against God continually try to co-opt and subvert Christian images; making crosses a fashion item, of deploying them in subversive contexts such as body-mutilations, or inverted, of being used in publicly-demonized rituals (such as the US fake-PSYOP which is the 'Klan'); of making the rainbow a symbol for sexual perversion and the agenda of child abuse. 

And this kind of anti-Christian symbolism seems (and obviously) far more effective than the traditional usages.


What all this seems to imply is that insofar as symbolism is still a significantly powerful and motivating force for Good, then it is revealed as being more individually-rooted and much less innate and universal, than was supposed a few generations ago. 

Speaking for myself, the symbolism of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and its associated works is very powerful - and for Good; yet I recognize that much of this is due to my particular personality and experiences - and that for the great mass of Tolkien fans/ critics/ scholars, there is no apparent positive influence of Tolkien. 

Most Tolkienites are on-side with the most strategically-evil aspects of current totalitarian materialism; and they deploy Tolkien's symbolism in support of mainstream social evils. 


I am Not saying that symbolism should be abandoned; because we need all the help we can get! 

I intend to make the best possible use of traditional Christian symbolism - where it works for me, and has not been spoiled - as well as Tolkien, and many others.

But it would be unwise for a Christian to rely on symbolism, or to put it at centre or root; because it will probably weaken over time, and may even be inverted in its significance. 

We each need to be able to discern when that which used-to help is now starting-to harm; and be able - spiritually - to step-away from it. 


Tuesday 23 May 2023

A dissonant cuckoo in Rothbury


We were up in the Rothbury Hills yesterday, and serenaded by at least four cuckoos at various points around the circuit - these being the first of the year for me. 

The sound of this bird is, of course, absolutely characteristic - being a repeating and loud minor third (i.e. three semitones) descending interval; and was immortalized by Handel in the delightful second movement of his organ concerto in F No. 13 - coming-in after about fifty seconds:




But the third of these cuckoos was distinctly 'off-key' - repeatedly and boldly emanating the disturbingly dissonant-seeming interval of just one tone (i.e. two semitones, instead of three). 

This is something I've not heard before; although slightly-'wrong' tuning (slightly less than a minor third) is reasonably common. 

It struck me as a deliberate act of musical subversion, by a cuckoo with a grudge.      


Fear as Sin, Sin as death (revisited)

It is very difficult, sometimes, to avoid being gripped by fear - and by 'fear' I do not mean that acute emotion which leads to adaptive behaviours such as 'fight or flight'; but that chronic existential fear (or 'angst') which gets hold of the emotions, distorts thinking, and Will Not Let Go. 

It is important to recognize that such fear is a sin

It is a sin because it is is a consequence of lack of faith (i.e. lack of trust, lack of confidence...) in the goodness, love and creative power of God; and the salvation of Jesus Christ.


And sin itself is - in its deepest meaning - death (including that which conduces Men to choose death). That is, death as understood as the severance of the (eternal) soul from the (dead) body; with consequent loss of our agency, our consciousness of our-selves - so that we would become witless, demented, discarnate 'ghosts'. When Jesus offered the possibility of saving Men from 'sin' - it was this condition from which he was saving Men.  

 

There are always causes for fear; and fear may (it seems) strike anyone. I have read many accounts of World War One pilots, that make clear that the most courageous people one can imagine - men who have risked death, three times a day for months on end, in single combat with superior enemy forces - can, and eventually will experience, paralyzing fear. 

And such fear of death can be so extreme and unbearable, as itself to lead to either deliberate, or semi-deliberate, seeking of death - death to 'put an end to' (as it seems) the fear of death.

But even in what is apparently the safest and most secure individual lives - perhaps especially in such lives - there may be an intense dread of losing safety and security. 


Thus, fear is part of the human condition

If so, if sin is unavoidable - how can it be sin? And how can sin be overcome if it is part of the human condition?  

Well - sin is part of the human condition; and sin cannot be overcome fully and finally in this mortal life on earth... 

But this inevitability of failure does not matter in the ultimate scheme of things, since this mortal life on earth is intended as a time of learning and preparation, a time of tests and opportunities - the benefits of which learning may be 'enjoyed' through eternity (in resurrected Heavenly life), as well as providing glimpses and hope for that eternity.  


The inevitability of fear is, in a sense, liberating! Because it diminishes the delusory hope of avoiding fear, and puts the emphasis on what we do when we fear. 

In sum: fear cannot be avoided, it will always come back again - and again; but fear can be dealt with when it does return. 

Fear can be dealt with every time it returns, no matter how many times it returns - and it is this dealing-with fear that is what does us good...

And does us good, not here in this mortal life on earth; but good ultimately and eternally. 


This way of understanding sin (which, in my case, derives-from a close reading of the Fourth Gospel) is liberating, and hope-full; since it is attainable by anyone; even (perhaps especially) those most prone to fear. 

Each experience of fear is an occasion for recognizing that it arises only from the weakness of our faith; and repenting that fact. That is: recognizing that our existential angst about 'the future', about what might or will happen - is a sin arising from the mortal inadequacy of that confidence and hope which ought to come from our belief in God and following of Jesus. 

It is such 'knowing and affirming what is right' that constitutes repentance. 


Such a perspective (albeit temporarily achieved) may provide some here-and-now relief (albeit temporary) from the fear that afflicts us. It may stop such fear from getting worse, rather than (as otherwise usually happens) feeding upon itself. 

But even if no relief is obtained, even when we cannot 'make ourselves' feel the love of God and Jesus we know we ought to feel; the very act of repentance is valuable - permanently valuable. 

It is this knowing what is right, and wanting-to-want what is right, that is most important.


Notice of a superb audiobook version of Tolkien's "On Fairy Stories"

This is available free from Catholic Culture Audiobooks: information, evaluation and links are at my Notion Club Papers blog.


Sunday 21 May 2023

By what mechanisms might demons influence computers or 'the internet'?

Demons are living, conscious, purposive immaterial-spirit Beings; but computers are regarded as non-living material objects made of minerals, performing electrical and 'digitally-segmented' procedures. 

How can demons influence - say - 'the internet'? This seems difficult, or impossible, to understand because, with the usual assumptions included in the question, we seem to be suggesting that immaterial living spirit can (somehow?) affect solid, dead matter. 

We are falling back into asserting an incoherent or paradoxical 'ghost in the machine' scenario...


As usual, the problems are with false assumptions; assumptions that intrinsically pre-judge and have-excluded the very possibility under question.

Instead, these are some assumptions about reality which I take to be true, and which make sense of the idea of demons influencing the internet directly, by 'incarnating' into computational systems:  


1. The spiritual is primary, and the material is a sub-set of the spiritual. 

In other words, matter might be pictured as somewhat like 'condensed spirit'. 

This means that all matter is spiritual, necessarily and unavoidably. So there is no 'problem' about spirit affecting matter, because all matter is 'within' spirit to-start-with. 


2. The spiritual world exists as Beings - (is 'organized' as Beings) which are living, conscious, purposive entities. 

So everything we might assume is a 'thing' is instead actually either 'itself'-a-Being, or part-of a Being. 

So each Man is a Being; but (for instance) Man's bones, or veins, are (apparently) not Beings; but are parts of a Being. 

If a tree is a Being in its own right, maybe a mushroom is part of a larger Being (containing many mushrooms linked underground). A mountain might be a Being, perhaps; or it might be part of a Being that is an island, a continental plate, or The Earth? 

(We don't usually know the boundaries of Beings nor how they are organized, so I am simply illustrating the principle.) 


3. A Being can form part of a larger Being, and often includes smaller Beings. 

Men are Beings that contain Beings. 

And example might be a white blood cell in our blood, which (we might imagine) has no idea that it is part of a human being! But simply lives-out its life in hunting cellular debris or invading germs, eating and assimilating them, reproducing etc. 

And Men, as Beings, are contained-by other Beings.

For instance; a Man, whose life and activity forms part of a larger human grouping; a tribe, or maybe a nation about which he may be ignorant and which 'uses' his abilities and labour for its own purposes. 

This means that a larger Being - containing Men - must be genuinely real (not just a convenient metaphor), and is typically a spiritual (not material) Being. In the past this was, when the Man-containing Being was Good, conceptualized as a presiding angel - when the larger Being is evil, it is a demon.  

(Both might, and typically do, exist; contesting over the component Men - e.g. a national Archangel versus a Globalist demon; varying in dominance through time, and each group angel/ demon 'using' different Men, for different roles; and different selective aspects of those Men.) 

What is happening here is that only a part of each component Man is truly a component of the larger Being that is the tribe or nation or whatever group it may be. The Man's essential Being is Not a part of any larger Being, but may choose to affiliate-with or reject that larger Being and its purposes. 

What happens is that some of that Man's attributes are in fact being 'organized' into a larger unity; while the essential Being is eternal and cannot be assimilated-into any larger Being - but necessarily stands apart from all possible Systems, and decides whether or not to join-with them. 

From the perspective of the larger Being; the component smaller Beings are organized into hierarchical and specialized functions, and used to perform particular tasks in particular sequences; analogous to the parts of an army - each operating under 'orders'.    


Putting together the above three assumptions, we can see that the agenda of evil might be administered overall by a Being such as Satan, who is analogous to a general directing lower ranks towards a particular strategy. These lower ranks might include demons participating in a hierarchy of organized and specialized functions; the lower ranks also include Men - and other Beings and parts-of-beings such computers, programs, the internet... 

While demons are supposed to be wholly committed to evil by their natures; the Men who participate in the System of evil are only partially being used for that purpose. 

So a Man might regard his job as 'just' digging holes and building walls, or collecting and summarizing data in an office; and this activity might be integrated into an evil-orientated agenda... or a Good and Godly one; and to varying degrees. 

Yet the situation is not static, and evil operates purposively to increase itself and corrupt other Beings; so the Man in an evil-aiming organization who digs holes, or the one that deals with 'information' - might be confronted-with links between his activity, and its aims and consequences. 

So that he will become aware of his participation in evil, and then needs consciously to decide whether to endorse or repent this participation - each of which will have different consequences for how much of himself participates in the System.

(ie. If an aware Man then repents his participation, corruption does not proceed; if he refuses to repent and regards his evil as Good, he will be embracing the value-inversions of evil; then that Man will become more positively orientated towards evil goals.)    


Anyway; to return to the original question of how demonic evil might use the internet to pursue its goals; we can see that there are multiple potential mechanisms, operating at all levels... (And bearing in mind that the-spiritual is primary, and the-material a manifestation of spirit.)

Planning the organizations which comprise 'units' of demons, Men, and other Beings/ parts of Beings such a computers and their programs... 

'Personnel' decisions about which particular individuals or units are performing specialized functions within these systems (by directing the flow and sequence of tasks)... 

There is the administration of these organizations, filtering their inputs and outputs, emphasis given to selected outputs etc.


Once any evil entity is within any organization, and that organization is regarded as running on the basis of un-influence-able material processes; then evil evil-orientated choices of evil-affiliated Beings will operate to increase the power of evil within that organization*.


As always, insofar as it is purposive, the demonic agenda is - to some, variable extent - either consented-to or chosen by those who participate. 

Genuinely unwitting participation is possible - but since this is not corrupting, it is regarded by the ruling evil entities as merely a temporary phase, a means to the end of corrupting a Being.

Sooner or later, individuals participating in evil will be brought to awareness of the goals and direction of their role - and this moment will be engineered such that the individual is likely to conceptualize the evil he is doing as - inversely - actually a higher type of 'Good'...

As when architects are induced to embrace deliberate ugliness as actually a higher, more sophisticated kind of beauty; or politicians embrace the Big Lie as in-service-to a higher 'truth' - such as social justice; or when the enforced mutilation and poisoning of children is justified as part of a more-profound ethic of choice, liberation and inclusion.   


In other words, demonic influence does not need to happen by such weird/ spooky ideas as a demon putting his spiritual-thumb into a software process to shape a particular outcome. Although, insofar as the electrical instantiation of a software process is a material part-of primarily spiritual reality; material action will manifest in accordance with spiritual realities; and then the outcome of processing will not be explicable within the System - (and will be put-down to some unknown 'random' error or failure). 

In other words, the material is never independent of the spiritual; and the spiritual is always controlling the material. 

The material elements of computers or the interest are already and always part of the life of primarily spiritual Beings; so, to posit their being subject to net-evil orientations is merely to assert that demonic spirits have become dominant, overall, in that particular aspect of this created earth. 


*Note: This is why mainstream modern materialism - which fundamentally misunderstands evil and denies the reality of demons - leads inevitably to an incremental corruption of society. Once a demon has gained entry anywhere (and this is inevitable, sooner or later) he can operate undetected; his identity will be denied, and his effects explained-away as random errors or incompetence. This may be one reason why it was possible for prophets of the past to predict these End Times. 

Saturday 20 May 2023

The 'psychological' nature of mainstream modern metaphysics

In retrospect, I can see that for most of my adolescent and early-mid adult life, I was engaged in the common modern practice of "looking inside myself" for answers to the chronic life problems of dissatisfaction and alienation.

Such is part of a very fundamental assumption, which is very common, that the main problems of life are psychological; and that changing our assumptions and attitudes is the way to cure them

Because this is a fundamental (i.e. metaphysical) assumption; it cannot be disproved by experience, because it is itself the way that experience is structured. 


For instance, the ancient Greek philosophers seem first to have articulated the fundamental problems of 'change' which I often term 'entropic'; that is disease, ageing and death - for the ancients these were what needed to be explained - and they were dealt with by assuming some other mode of reality that was Not subject to these kinds of change.

The same applies to some religions, including Christianity; which assumes that 'entropic' problems are fundamental to this mortal life, but can be solved by resurrection into Heaven. 

Other religions solve 'entropic' problems by positing a perfection of changeless bliss, which is real whereas ''entropic' change, as we experience it, is either an illusion, or at least merely temporary - hence less fundamental.  

But all of these regard 'entropy' as a problem of existence - not of psychology. 


However; for mainstream modern Man; these are re-framed as psychological problems. A disease is not necessarily disease, nor is ageing; these can be reframed by a change of attitude. The 'problems' of disease and ageing are seen as being caused by attitudes to them; and the solution of 'problems' of disease and ageing, is therefore to change these attitudes. 

Sex (male and female) is not fundamental, but can be re-shaped open-endedly by the spread of different attitudes. These assertions are not disproveable within the assumption that psychology is fundamental 

Even death has (often) been reframed by such ideas that death is not part of life, therefore not our concern; or that (it is assumed) we won't be there to experience death - so we shouldn't worry about it. Or asserting that we can know nothing of death, therefore we should ignore the subject (and we will, presumably, find out later, whether there is anything to worry about or not). 

In sum; the usual modern idea is that psychology is real, but nothing else is real; and when there are problems these are psychological problems, and have psychological solutions. This constitutes much of current politics: even 'science' is now defined in terms of a consensus (a psychological process) between persons/ committees who are accorded (by a decision, i.e. by psychological mechanisms) the authority to form binding consensus. 


It is futile, therefore, to argue that even death/ sex or disease is a 'fact of life' in a system that regards only psychology as real; and where the realities of psychology are part of the system. It is, like all systems, closed and circular; all justifications come from within the system, and nothing out-with the system is relevant, because anything out-with is unconceivable within the system. 

And why the system has landed on psychology as the ultimate nature of reality is a question than can only be asked from outside the system!

This is not a problem - except that he only coherent way to reject the system is to reject it as a whole, and its valuations. 


Reality can be understood on the basis of other assumptions; but we aren't going to get these from the system - we must do this for ourselves...

Which is something that Christians have reason to believe that we can do, each as an individual; because even without the system to feed-us its approved attitudes, we are not alone; but are actual children of God.

And the Christian God is understood to be creator of the real system; therefore out-with 'the system' of psychological explanations.


Friday 19 May 2023

If the digital world (internet, computation, AI etc) are indeed a demonic incarnation - What then?

William Wildblood has brought to my attention a pair of articles entitled Four Questions Concerning the Internet, part one The Universal and part two The Neon God; written by Paul Kingsnorth, in which he independently converges on a theme explored here (also in related blogs and by Jeremy Naydler) over the past few years. 

Kingsnorth also reaches the same general conclusion (Which William Wildblood has articulated lucidly; which is that 'the internet' and computers generally may (in some circumstances) provide a vehicle for the incarnation of demons


If this is regarded as a possibility (which mostly depends on one's metaphysical assumptions concerning the nature of this reality and the relationship of 'life' and 'matter') - then the hypothesis of demonic incarnation in 'computers' explains a great deal, and has extensive implications.

For instance; technology is usually presented as value-neutral, and whether it is a Good Thing or an Evil would therefore depend on the use to which it is being-put. 

Yet, if demonic incarnation is a reality, then technology may itself become an active and purposive evil; in other words, technology may seek the spiritual harm - including destruction - of Men

If we accept this as probably true, in some real but imprecise sense; then what are the implications?


Kingsnorth (a recent convert to Eastern Orthodoxy) focuses on the potential for asceticism; for rejecting, denying-ourselves (as much as possible) usage-of and contact-with these demonic entities. 

Such a strategy has the practical limitation that people Just Aren't doing this - not even the most ascetic. Kingsnorth describes that even the famously-ascetic monks of Mount Athos are, albeit belatedly, often carrying and using 'smartphones'. 

Then there is the more general problem that it is almost impossible to function in the modern world without a significant level of usage of these possessed technologies.      

But there is also - and most importantly - the ultimate limitations of asceticism: the deep question of whether this is the proper or best Christian response to the evils of this world. 


My approach would be rather different. I see the problem of a demonic internet as an extension of the very general problem of evil-affiliated social institutions, a problem that characterizes All major social institutions in The West and 'globally' - including the (self-identified) Western Christian churches (and a Western convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, still counts as Western). 

This means that the Christian inescapably lives in a demon-dominated and evil-orientated society; from which there can be no escape while remaining alive and socially-functional. 

But this has - to some significant extent - always been the case; and was surely the case for Jesus himself during his earthly life. 

Thus Christianity has always, properly understood (e.g. in the Fourth Gospel), been rooted and aimed beyond this mortal and social life - and therefore the task for Christians is to deal-with the presence of pervasive evil. 


As I see it; the primary problem of 'the internet' is that people spiritually surrender their values and attitudes to it; and by this they invite evil into their hearts

Evil needs to be invited - and this invitation of evil has become not just a personal corruption, not just a 'means to ends' as in the past; but in Western Society here-and-now evil has been given positive evaluations; officially, by the mass media, legally, economically etc. 

We are, for the first time in human history, inhabiting a world where transcendental values of truth, beauty, and virtue are substantially and increasingly inverted.


Since this situation is almost-everywhere and cannot be escaped; we must recognize it, and deal with it. 

Dealing with the internet, computers and digitalization is part of this; but only part. Evil needs to be discerned, identified, recognized - and spiritually rejected (and repented when we have failed to do this) wherever it is encountered.  

Some of this will surely entail avoidance of internet, computers, AI etc; but as a specific tactic, not as a general strategy.  

Such a Christian life is not to be envisaged negatively, as a state of siege; ended only by death or the triumph of evil. To accept this understanding would itself be a surrender to the demonic perspective. 

Because the Christian life is positive, not negative; thus discernment is a by-product of faith, and faith is 'about' spiritual learning during this life ('theosis'), as well as resurrection after this life ('salvation').


In sum; life may be regarded as what it spiritually is; that is, an adventure and a quest. 

We must therefore engage-with evil, and the business of identifying and rejecting evil is a by-product of our positive spiritual goals. 

Since God is the Creator, and is Good, and Loves us each as His child; our personal life-situation has been set-up so that nobody can be defeated except by his own choice, and we can all succeed in the end - if that is what we really want to do.  


So, we should strive not for an ideal of asceticism, but for an ideal of high-hearted and hope-full confidence; with faith that, no matter what the demon-dominated world throws-at-us; we are equipped to beat it.  


Thursday 18 May 2023

The powers-that-should-not-be are putting the people of the world into a position of "be-destroyed plus/ minus destroy"

The choice is now and increasingly not so much "kill or be killed", but "be-destroyed +/- destroy". 

In other words, an evil-motivated large-minority of the world has-been/ is-being trained to fear, resent and hate some other group; then these evil-serving groups are being armed, subsidized, organized, and given-license-to destroy those they have been trained to hate. 

All this is backed by sheer compulsion: once they have chosen to fight on the side of evil, the agents of evil will not be allowed to change their minds without themselves suffering destruction. 


Those who the evils-side haters have been trained, equipped, encouraged and facilitated to destroy; are principally those who are (to some extent - even a small extent) dissenters from the side of evil; especially those who are on the side of God, divine creation and The Good.


For those on the side of God, divine creation and The Good the choices are not easy. The choice is either:

1. Submit to your own destruction. 

2. Fight against the agents of your own destruction...


But - and here is the evil-double-bind - in fighting against your own destruction, you will be up-against those who hate you, and who will not be allowed to desist from trying to destroy you until either they themselves are destroyed, or else their capacity to destroy you is itself destroyed.  

"Be-destroyed, +/- destroy", leads to destruction either way. 

Indeed, to defend yourself, to defend The Good results in greater destruction than when Good passively allows itself to be destroyed!


So, the immediate consequence of taking the side of Good is to increase the totality of destruction; and this increase of destruction may be very great indeed - even if the side of Good eventually prevails. 

yet such a choice is something that will probably come to all who strive to maintain The Good in a world where all major institutions are on the side of evil - indeed the decision has already come to many people, most of whom appear have chosen to join and assist the side of evil. 

(Which decision the evil-servers are not allowed to revoke without... consequences.)


On top of which; the powers-that-should-not-be always take care to ensure that the actual job of destroying takes place among the little people

And even among the little people - those who resist evil will be up against not just the orcs (those wedded to evil by their natures), but also many coerced and lied-to Dunlanders, Easterlings, Haradrim - that is, up against decent people, brave people, stupid people... who just happen to be doing the work of evil - individually well-meaning, acting on orders, just trying to get-by. 

These agents of destruction will probably see themselves as taking the path of least-destruction, choosing the lesser of evils; and the agents of evil will regard the designated victims who resist their own destruction as trouble-makers, wreckers, Men of violence; bullies picking on the little people...


Such is the nature of our times. 

Such is the 'karma' of this Western civilization; accumulated over many generations, and contributed-to by our-selves. 

Those who look for Good in this world, and who equate Good with material Goods such as peace, prosperity and comfort - will be disappointed.

The powers-that-should-not-be have engineered the world so that these are off the agenda. 


To avoid rational despair, and unless we choose and are able to live by delusions and lies; our hopes must be spiritual and located beyond this world; and our faith in these hopes will need to be strong enough to survive and increase without external institutional support


Prophecy: Precognition, 'Karma' and Destiny

(For my previous discussions of prophecy follow this link...)

When it comes to prophecy, and taking into account the nature of most true prophecies; there is disagreement as to how this is (or may be) possible. 


Precognition

For some reason, many people seem to regard prophecy as a form of 'precognition' - which entails 'seeing the future'. The idea is that, in some sense, the future has already happened and can therefore be perceived. 

This would entail that - from here and now, and by common sense analysis - the future is determined, and free will/ agency is unreal. 

This is then 'explained' by positing weird stuff about Time; such that there is ultimately no such thing as time, the linear sequential time of our mortal lives in this world is an illusion; and from a divine or real perspective - everything that has happened, is happening or can ever happen, is actually simultaneous. 

This philosophical idea dates back at least to Plato, and is famously deployed by Boethius to 'explain' the paradox of God's omniscience and Man's agency. 


The question is whether this really is an explanation at all

It posits weird abstract properties of Time that are counter-intuitive and incomprehensible to ordinary people; leads to the innumerable 'time paradoxes' of science fiction; and purports to explain the specific observation of prophecy by such a vast metaphysical assumption that it explains everything - hence nothing. 

In essence; it purports to explain evidence with metaphysics - which is the wrong way around. Metaphysics comes first (or should come first); observations may be consistent with metaphysics, but can neither confirm nor refute it; and changes metaphysics should therefore not be used expediently as a convenient way of accounting for observations. 

We ought first to establish our metaphysics assumptions - on grounds of intuition and coherence - and then use these to explain observations. My metaphysical assumptions exclude precognition rooted in weird-Time. 

Therefore - explaining prophecy by precognition I regard as illegitimate, invalid, Not really-real.  


Karma

I use the term Karma for the idea that that is derived from understanding the consequences of present metaphysics, attitudes and actions. 

In other words; by knowing and understanding the present situation; it is possible to predict what these will (sooner or later) entail. 

Thus, we might prophesy that if Men believe X, then (sooner or later) this-kind-of-thing will come to pass; or if Men do Y, then these will be the effects. Or (as a metaphysical example) if many Men's fundamental understanding of reality excludes God and assumes that all of reality is material - then such and such a human society will (sooner or later) happen. 

Much valid prophecy seems to be of this kind. 


Destiny

The cause of destiny is that God wills some-thing, and (sooner or later) arranges divine creation so that it happens. 

The free agency of Men (and other Beings) may thwart God's will again and again; yet if God continues to provide opportunities for Men to choose to do God's will - then eventually some Man will make the right choice, and the thing will happen. 

*

We can see that the two valid explanations for prophecy - Karma and Destiny - have no problem about free will or human agency; because they do not state any particular time or date for the fulfillment of prophecy. 

But as soon as a prophecy is particular and exact; then we run up against the reality of agency, which may tend to thwart such specific prophecy.

Presumably, then; in principle exact prophecy can only be real insofar as it has nothing to do with free will or agency...

But in a living 'animistic' universe - consisting of Beings in relationships - this can never truly be the case; since everything that happens in divine creation must involve the choices of beings. 


Wednesday 17 May 2023

Can "the planet earth" choose to be damned (or saved)?

I have developed the metaphysical assumption that reality consists of Beings in relationships; this is a version of the spontaneous ('animistic') assumptions of 'all' young children and (so far as is known) hunter-gatherers - including our ancestors. 

I assume that this is an essentially true way of understanding reality which is why it was and is innate, 'built-into' Men - by God. 

Beings are therefore regarded as the ultimate, fundamental, metaphysically primary units of reality; Beings that are alive, with attributes such as consciousness, and purpose.  


In other words: there are ultimately no 'things' (or, more exactly, no knowable things - because chaos is not knowable - it can only be a label for uncreated stuff, including the primordial background state). Ultimately; there is no 'it' - but only 'him' or 'her' (or some other linguistic term that refers to Beings). 

This seems to mean that the spiritual war of this world includes all Beings, not just us human Beings; but animals, plants, and features of what we refer to as the 'mineral' world - sea, sky, and aspects of the earth - and the earth herself. 

And as usual, as with humans, there are Beings within Beings - just as we contain innumerable cells that are beings - for instance the white blood cells which roam our blood and lymph, consuming germs and debris, that are very similar to amoebae. 

And we Men, as individual Beings, are also biologically (and spiritually) 'social animals', with a 'Beingness' of some kinds of human groups, that is difficult to conceptualize yet also traditionally regarded as true; and which seems to exist above the individual level.    


One among many aspects of this situation is that all Beings have an analogous choice to that of Men, of whether to accepts the salvation made possible by Jesus Christ. Whether, that is, to choose resurrection into Heaven.

(Or not - and thus by default [whether actively or passively] to choose... something else.) 

I assume all Beings are - in their very different ways, due to their different qualities and degrees of consciousness - able to choose resurrection - or not. 

And this would apply to that Being which is 'the planet earth'. 


That there is indeed some such Being as 'planet earth', I am assuming on the basis that it seems to be spontaneous knowledge, and a feature of many cultures of many kinds through history. 

This earth will therefore - like you and me - at some point need to make an eternal commitment to Heaven - if the earth is to become immortal, everlasting... resurrected. 

And resurrection entails death; death is the only portal to eternal life of individual Beings. 


So, in order to become part of heavenly Life Eternal; the earth (as a Being) would first need to die; and must then choose - by an eternal commitment - to be resurrected. 

The death of the earth seems 'inevitable', given entropy; which seems to apply to all material stuff in this reality. And then, after death; will the earth choose to be resurrected? 

It seems to me that the earth will not have made this eternally-binding choice to 'discard' all sin and corruption and become everlasting; until after she actually has made this final commitment; because in this mortal and entropic material world, nothing is or can be eternal - including not our choices.

Our choices are open to change, to revision, until they are final choices; which happens only after death: when the spirit has separated from the (dead) body.  


In conclusion; we cannot know in advance whether the planet earth as a Being will, or will not, be part of Heaven; because that final choice has not yet been made by the Being that is Earth. 

This means that the question is still open; and we can be sure that Satan will be trying to influence the choice of Earth; such that she will reject Heaven; and by using broadly the same kind of methods that Satan uses against Men, to induce Men to reject Heaven.

How might this be working? Well, since the modern era (developing from circa 1500 in The West), and even more since the industrial revolution; Men have been set against Earth. Men's assumptions include that the Earth is Not a Being, that 'it' is dead, and can therefore be manipulated and explained as desired. 


The Earth is not even despised; but is regarded as outside of the drama of creation, because unalive. 

Atheists do this, Christians do this, modern environmentalists do this... 

Environmentalists - in particular - have reduced the living earth to an abstract concept called 'the environment'; which is broken down into a multitude of dead sub-concepts derived from science. 

Indeed - at present - the environment is in practice being reduced to mathematical models concerned with Carbon Dioxide; and everything else is ignored or subjugated to these models and their implications. 


In sum; there are many, many reasons why the planet earth might have developed the same kind of sinful, negative, sins that beset modern Man: I mean such sins as fear, resentment and despair. 

We might suppose that such negative attitudes could lead the modern (here-and-now) earth towards the same kind of attitudes to God, divine creation and Heaven as beset modern Men; and might lead to the same salvation-rejecting attitudes as are characteristic of so many modern Men. 

Indeed, it may be that when Christians (or anybody else - but I am addressing Christians in particular) make assumptions about what Will Happen to the planet earth; by acting as-if the earth had no say in the matter, they may be making matters worse! 


When Christians assume that the planet earth Will Be resurrected into the New Jerusalem - that Heaven Will Be on some version of this earth - are they actually taking-for-grated that the living-conscious earth will do exactly what human beings want earth to do, and thereby treating the earth as unalive, just 'a thing' which exists for the convenience of Men?

Just as if we were to assume that we knew for sure whether some particular human being would necessarily ultimately choose or reject salvation and resurrection; because that outcome is part of our own plans. 

To speak 'anthropomorphically' (which may not be far from the literal truth); when we think, speak and behave concerning the earth as an 'it' consisting of 'things' - the earth knows about this! and presumably does not like it, and may develop negative attitudes in consequence - and yet we continue and increase this way of not-relating to the earth. 


(How many of the troubles of Men with 'natural disasters' that we put down to 'bad luck' are actually a direct consequence of the way we regard the earth as a dead it and an unalive thing - and the same for Beings composing, and dwelling on, the earth? Some of the troubles, for sure.)


If we really dwell in this reality as Beings among Beings; then such matters are of fundamental importance: I mean recognizing the agency of other Beings, and recognizing that each Just Is responsible for his or her own salvation. 

It is so easy for us modern Men to fall-into the evil practice of regarding 'the universe' as a 'machine' - and this is wrong even when what is being-assumed is 'a machine for salvation'. 

We are not components in a mechanism, or elements in a determined-plan - and neither is the planet earth! 

We are all Beings, engaged in a free quest, located in a world which is engaged in spiritual war; a vital aspect of which is relationships. 

And one primary principle of such relationships is that we recognize each other as Beings - not as things. 


Conversely; it is a plank of the devil's program of damnation, that Men cease to do this; and instead habitually (and by conviction) regard 'the environment', animals, plants and other Men - as things instead of Beings.

Making Men into things, and he/ she into 'it'; is the malign intent behind such core evil-strategies as bureaucracy, totalitarianism, transhumanism, 'Artificial Intelligence', the transagenda, and the incremental and coercive computerization and digitalization of Life. 

Beings are not necessarily-determined, nor are they random. Instead; Beings have natures (dispositions), and purposes, can learn, make choices - and until they have made eternal choices, their fate cannot be known in advance.

To think and talk otherwise, is choosing to become a component part of the agenda of evil. 


Note added: On re-reading the above, I find it rather unsatisfactorily expressed; and I think this is because I am preaching something I cannot practice - although I want to! For instance, I found several examples (which I needed to edit out) in which I had used 'it/ its' about the planet earth! Nonetheless; this merely emphasizes how deep and pervasive is this 'objectivizing' and dead-ly way of thinking. It has even permeated what most adults (and indeed older children) regard as 'common sense' - so that it strikes most people as dumb or insane to acknowledge the livingness and consciousness of the universe and its true-components. I myself had to be driven to this conclusion (metaphorically 'kicking and screaming') via theoretical biology, and the attempt to define 'life', discuss the 'origins' of 'life', understand the nature of creativity - and indeed to map the proper boundaries of biology... All of which attempts I found to be impossible without the artificial drawing of boundaries that seemed too-obviously arbitrary. When confronted by the dilemma that - therefore - everything must either be alive, or else unalive. (In reductionist scientific terms; all of reality is either 'biology' or physics.) I felt intuitively compelled to assume the truth of the former - given that the idea that all of reality is ultimately physics (or maybe abstract mathematics), has underpinned the assumptions that have led Western Civilization to where we are now. That life consists in irreducible and primary Beings, arose from noticing the abstract - and again artificial - nature of any other conceptualization of biology/ life/ creation.