Marx vs. Melville

“The philosophers have interpreted the world. The point is to change it.” -Karl Marx

“This whole act’s immutably decreed. ’Twas rehearsed by thee and me a billion years before this ocean rolled.” -Captain Ahab

I really need to dissect and compare these quotes, because they’re the crux of so much seriously meaningful shit that needs to be dragged free from the vaults of darkness into the light of conscious apprehension.

Marx goes first.

“The philosophers have interpreted the world. The point is to change it.”

There are two useful ways to interpret this.

The first way is essentially the main spiritual proposition of all left politics, that a better world is possible, and all thoughts which do not challenge power are complicit in the injustices of current structures of power.

This is a wildly powerful but insanely dangerous argument. At best, it will inspire heroic change in the Earth. At worst, it will create ideological drones of bad conscience who hate the world and scream against all that it is, ignoring the possibility that the world is only a macrocosm of the disorder of the individual soul.

The second way of interpreting it is that Marx is compelling us not to merely think, but to live out what we think in the world. We all live out our beliefs unconsciously, so the goal of thinking and articulating what we believe is so that we can begin to implement our thinking in the world consciously and become responsible for our own lives, and eventually become the best possible version of our best thoughts.

I love this quote for those reasons. It’s so damn world-defining. It’s so important.

Melville is more dour. Melville, the stoic, the mystic, the Platonist, sperm whale and right whale in one, is a monolith through which all ambitions of change are crushed and swirled into the great Pacific Ocean.

“This whole act’s immutably decreed. ’Twas rehearsed by thee and me a billion years before this ocean rolled.”

Fatalism is the greatest danger of spiritual thinking. Infinite deference to the cosmic order, or God’s will, results in utter immobility. It is a serious problem and it is crippling to the intellect and soul alike. Any student of the Western canon seems to emerge either a kind of fatalist or a peculiar and ever-shifting motion blur, but a motion blur with a purpose.

All spiritual thinking, when truly honest with itself, ends in paradox, or contradiction. There are simply no concrete answers. The person who sees this and understands it often becomes burnt by the realization, and becomes a fatalist with no faith in human action or human hands.

The image of the world’s soul is a flat circle, a spiral, a karmic wheel, an oscillating motion that loops back into where it first started. All these images, from Nietzsche, Hegel, Buddha and Jung, are the same essential thing. The type of person you are is immortal. Your kind have existed before, and will exist again. You are complicit in the outcomes of history and can claim no ledge away from it all. You were not born today into this place that is so cruel. You, your soul, whatever you are, is the same damn place that the world has come from. This is why symbolic and mathematical order exists, for God’s sake! The self is a microcosm of the entire world. That metaphysical conceit I will always believe. I have believed it forever. I will believe it forever.

It is the premise of the redemptive, transcendent and heroic story, that the salvation of the individual, in a true sense, is the salvation of the entire world. The triumph of one person over the demons is the triumph of all. This is what I believe. This is what my book, The New Symphony, is about.

I have given you some things to consider. That is all, in the end, that writing can do. But I was born a writer. I can do nothing else. I wasn’t born a great fighter, or a charismatic activist. I am this, and I cannot change who I am.

It is the only work I can do on this Earth. And that’s that.

Is Jordan Peterson Wrong About Human Nature?

“It’s time to abandon this Jungian notion of a balanced, whole, natural humanity that we must return to.”

This is the concluding line of an excellent video by Zero Books, critiquing Jordan Peterson and Carl Jung from the left. Unfortunately, I think this line is also indicative of the spiritual immaturity of the left, which at its fundamental root, is why the left is losing its culture war. If the left seeks to dispose of the very notion of the Jungian hero’s journey, then what can possibly replace that journey? Nothing. Just bad conscience and spiritual malaise. And that’s the left’s most serious problem right now. I believe that the left is 90% right about everything when it comes to politics. But this spiritual malaise is killing its ability to speak to people on the most fundamental human level, and thus the left loses a root to the human soul. This is why figures like Jordan Peterson have attracted so much attention.

In the following essay, I am going to explain exactly why you cannot possibly abandon Jung, and why the hero’s journey and the work of perpetual synthesis will never be replaced by some social constructionist model, which unfortunately, in the left’s thinking, the social constructionist ideal of nurture taking total precedence over nature has become their trump card over reality itself.

It won’t work. And here’s why.

The Jungian notion of the hero’s journey, which is nothing more than the striving individual working to integrate their personality into the world, exists at the root of psychological wellbeing. If there is no notion of the whole person, the synthesized personality at work in the world, then there will only be pain, chaos and suffering, an inability for a person to understand who they are.

Any worldview that makes the world a place worth living in, without making that worth contingent upon uncontrollable outcomes, is no easy thing to dismiss. A person who can live in the world without seeking escape, despite all the terror that the world is, is, like Melville wrote, a whale who retains warm mammalian blood in arctic seas, a person on a hero’s journey. Or, in the simplest terms possible: it is a person with a genuine spiritual center that grounds them no matter what horror befalls them. That spiritual center is your only defense against the infinite chaos of the universe.

There are a million pitfalls. There is pretentious and self-important zen, over-acceptance of karma or fate, or the malaise and bad conscience of living in a world that you despise and cannot reconcile with what should be. Any worldview that lives in action, and yet resists these deceptions, is the golden core to which all personalities must strive.

In every moment of your life, your unconscious is creating context for your experiences. If you do not synthesize the million voices, species and attitudes of the soul, your life will be a play staged by the condensed and chaotic murmur of schizophrenic panic. Thus, you reap postmodernism, unconditional accelerationism, and other philosophies rooted in unreason or constant craving catharsis.

You will be a puppet of a thousand demons and a chorus of seraphim dimmed and hidden in the blind spots of the mind if you have no notion of an organized, synthesized personality. Let me briefly sketch out what such a worldview, and the personality that lives out that worldview in practice, would become:

1. A person who can make sacrifices. Every decision you make is a sacrifice, and if you choose nothing, if you sacrifice nothing, you will receive nothing. The entire Judeo-Christian tradition, and the Bhagavad Gita, emphasis sacrifice as the hallmark of a worthy individual. If you are not willing to give up what you are currently holding, you will never be able to receive anything new. The link between human beings and the ultimate sublime, in a very real way, is mediated through sacrifice alone.

Giving up something in the present to receive something in the future is the hallmark of conscious thought, an awareness of time, and a way to understand, at root, the way the world works. Giving up the most valuable thing you own is something only a great person can do. This is why heroes so often sacrifice what they hold dear. They leave their hometown, they leave a relationship, they are away from their family and friends, they are not dependent upon instant pleasures. They are self-sufficient, because they renew the covenant between humankind and the divine through perpetual sacrifice.

Once the sacrifices stop, life loses its meaning. There will always be more to give, so there can be more to receive.

2. A person who understands the nature of work. In Christianity, as well as in the Bhagavad Gita, work is given a sacred position in the life of humankind. This is because work is sacrifice. No synthesized personality can exist without work, as a routine, and so every person must ensure that their work is worthwhile, that it is endlessly renewing as much as it is endlessly taxing. That is the ideal toward which work must strive. Work that is not renewing is corrupt. That is the crisis at the core of the Western world right now, the loss of dignified work and the subsequent loss of faith in God.

3. A person who does not expect finality or reward. This, at last, is key. If you work for a reward you will be eternally disappointed, because you are tethering the ritual act of sacrifice to an eventual escape from having to sacrifice. If you work to be finished, work will always be miserable, your sacrifices will suffer, and your personality will fall apart. The great evil of the world is that so many people do work that is not eternally renewing. How many faithful servants of religion have lived lives of endless physical toil, and passed those lives onto their children? How many seconds, hours, centuries of lived experience have been spent in such perpetual exhaustive suffering without hope or reprieve?

This world is not good. The evil of the world runs deeper than the good. Evil is easier to find, more powerful, and can easily tip you from your perch and into resentment and misery, no matter how balanced a person you are. You must understand, like Job, that a good outcome is not promised for good work. And this is the hardest and most evil pill to swallow. This is the true despair of life.

And nothing can change that. No ideology or worldview can erase that reality of the world. The only option is to live alongside it, to live and work and sacrifice without despising the ground beneath your feet and the tendons in your hands.

The hero’s journey, in my short life, is the only mode of existence I know that satisfies these conditions. It is a philosophy of endless renewal and synthesis of the human personality into something more and more each day.

Here is the shape of the Jungian hero’s journey: the world is a wheel, a circle, but each revolution upon its spokes makes you stronger, not weaker. This is the Buddhist doctrine of infinite reincarnation leading to the emergence of a Bodhisattva from the truest student of life, the most faithful witness to the truth.

Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita says that his work is never done. If the ultimate transcendent God ceased to work, the entire world would cease to work. Thus work is infinite and eternal. As above, so below, say the Hermeticists. The Gods too must sacrifice. They must sacrifice what they hold dear the most. They must sacrifice human beings to the fall.

Why is the world structured around work and sacrifice? We cannot possibly know. All religion exists as an attempt to be a faithful witness to this reality, and despite arriving at circularity or contradiction, maintaining that life is still worth living.

But this isn’t existentialism. This isn’t postmodernism. You can’t simply ‘pick your meaning’ in life and do whatever you choose. Certain sacrifices will ruin you. Choosing certain modes of meaning, such as drug abuse or ideological possession, will demolish your life and the lives of everyone around you.

Right now we are immersed in a world being demolished by these misguided, unsynthesized, fractured personalities, people who have not sorted out the thousand demons and faces that speak a thousand different thoughts and leave you, weak and tiny you, to deal with it all and live in a way that is satisfactory.

All my fiction is aimed at restoring faith in life through the evocation of the right sacrifices, the ‘right path’, the perennial religious wisdom that is more relevant than ever, because people yearn to understand their lives and their place in this world more than ever.

If you cast aside the notion of the synthesized personality, the heroic sacrifice in the world, then you will be spun by aeon and you will see only a dim glint of the sun. You will mistake ideology for truth and you will resent the world to such a degree that life itself seems a joke, a meaningless, fruitless hell, and no worldview that arrives at such a conclusion can ever be seriously entertained. Those who have made it their cynical core will reap the demons they answer to.

Please, think. Think honestly and truthfully and find work in the world that makes it worth living in. And if you can’t find that, then that is a problem, because the world is filled with Cains, those who have found nothing for all their sacrifices and been punished in the worst ways.

The world cannot be justified, or made right. But there is a way of thinking that will make it worth living in. That thin strand is what I seek. If that is not a worthy goal, then there are no worthy goals.

Mercy, Severity, and Race

At the risk of pissing off literally everybody, I’d like to make a few proclamations on the state of race in America, 2017.

Of course racism is an operative philosophy of the Trump administration. This exists at the level of aesthetics. There is a collective imagination of rustic hard-working white Americans who have been abandoned by the ruthless globalism of the 21st century, juxtaposed against the imagination of a black America engulfed in perpetual self-inflicted failings. The heroin epidemic in the Midwest is an example of vulnerable white voters who must be defended from their demons. The crack epidemic in the 1980s, and the crime and drug use that exists in black America today, is considered a failure to tug properly at the bootstraps and earn an honest living. These two Americas, bisected by race, exist in the Trump-Republican brand synthesis. This is nothing new, however. It was Bill Clinton who incarcerated an entire generation of black fathers, and of course Republican racialization, from gerrymandering, the fantasy of black ‘welfare queens’ bankrupting the government, the Southern strategy and the war on drugs, is as old and grand as Trump’s leathered speckled hide.

It is a bold-faced lie to claim that institutional racism is not real. There are more black Americans incarcerated because there is more crime, so say the conservatives. But why is there more crime? Are we to abandon black America on our certainty that black Americans are simply less lawful and less productive than white Americans? Of course not. Either institutional factors are driving these demographics of white and black toward different outcomes, or black people are simply inferior and self-destructive. At this juncture, there is a moral choice and a deplorable choice. Blame suffering people for their own suffering, or admit that globalized capital has failed black Americans in deep precision and longevity. Now that white America is fearing chronic unemployment, drug addiction and poverty, the clear answer is to unite together, not to continue expounding on your own suffering while blaming your neighbors for theirs. The global economy is a web that ensnares us all in its fortunes, its privatized gains and socialized losses. There is no time or patience for those who claim that black Americans have failed themselves, and need to have faith in the economy. Who in their right mind has faith in this economy?

What can be done about institutional racism? End the drug war. Socialize medicine. Incarceration and poverty are the twin demons that haunt oppressed life in America. Each feeds the other – the need for money and meaning make desperate people who do not respect the rule of law. If society frays and exposes people to harm, those people will no longer trust in society. But what is society? Right now, it is nothing but economics. All factors in cultural and societal life are driven by economics. This has led to profit incentives for jailing more people, as more prisoners means more free prison labor, and like the military-industrial economy, we need to pile up bodies to grow these repulsive industries. What is growth for prisons and armies? Only the destruction of individual lives. That is the only phenomenon that can grow industries built in sickness. Generating profit by imprisoning people for the drugs they sell and use to try to create better lives outside of the broken social contract is an insanely cruel ‘remedy’ for crime. It is a failed method.

And as for socialized medicine? As long as you can go bankrupt over emergency medical bills, you are never truly free. You are always dangling over a pit of massive debt, suspended only by eternal prayers for good health. This will engender a fearful and repressive society. Socialize medicine.

Now, let’s address the subject of identity politics. Given that institutional racism is real, doesn’t it make sense to go as hard on identity politics as possible?

Yes, and no, depending on what you mean by identity politics. It seems to me that intersectionality redefines and ruins words and terms constantly. In modern discourse, identity politics is used by the left as a shorthand for civil rights. If you’re against identity politics, you’re against blackness, simple as that.

This is obviously foolish! The category of identity politics has included so many cancerous and cynical political projects that organizing on the basis of identity should be seen as inherently broken. Identity evokes identity. The rise of ‘SJWism’ since 2015, from cultural appropriation by sushi chefs to ‘men are trash’ and other group-think and group-dependent ideologies have evoked a clear counter-SJWism from the right, which is known as the alt-right or alt-lite or whatever.

How do you tell poor and frightened white people about their privilege? You don’t. You emphasize universal solidarity, not the Tumblr-Twitter fantasy that white Americans get handouts and are essentially members of an upper-class. That is not the reality. The reality is that we could all be cut loose from the surface of the Earth at any moment, and that constant presence of mortality is felt strongest in marginalized communities, such as black and trans people.

The mission of the left, broadly speaking, is the mission of mercy. Consider the path of life to be flanked on either side by the sword of severity and the soothing hand of mercy. The right, and conservatism, is the path of severity. If you have failed, it is your fault. There is a kernel of truth in this. How are we to live if we do not take responsibility for ourselves? Severity cannot be dismissed, because it is intensely real. But when civilizations fail, and people give their voices to demagogues, the world is running too thin of mercy. The mission of the left is to balance the severity of the world by providing people with social safety nets, outside help to rescue individuals when they cannot succeed, literally the grace of socialized surgery or a college education without debt.

Along the lines of mercy and severity, it is obvious to anyone with an ounce of memory that the proponents of identity politics are not merciful. At all. They represent, at best, a hive of moral busy-bodies obsessed with the most minute and trivial personal subjects that can be made intensely political, and then those same people who rail against incarceration and the misuse of power seek to ban controversial speakers, create kangaroo courts without due process run by administrative hacks, fire people for jokes, and otherwise clamp down upon society and seek to reshape it at the most superficial levels through shaming and group tactics.

I disavow that crap! Forget the phrase ‘identity politics’. It is not useful. It was made by idiots for the usage of idiots. The only writing that should be done on identity politics is a call for its evaporation in discourse, and its replacement with a far stronger message of universal mercy and grace.

Infinite Fragmentation: The End of Identity Politics

The nihilism and incompleteness of modern life will never be healed through an infinite fracturing of humankind through the lens of identity politics. Fracturing can only lead to the annihilation of universal concepts, and with that, the end of the universal ability to speak and reason freely.

Identity politics, nested in postmodern thought, seeks to escape from the all-consuming reach of capitalist Western society. However, it makes crucial errors when assigning the virtues of the West to its very real faults. The concept of reason itself is maligned as a colonial outpost. Reason, to the identitarian, is a fantasy. It is nothing more than the imaginary idea that a white person, through distance and objectivity, can understand blackness or black life in America. This is why so many publishers and magazines desire writing by people of color – they are under the impression that they can break reason’s constricting spell, and the illusion of objectivity, by allowing unheard voices to fill the world. Through diversity, the multitude, the infinite fragmentation, difference and subjectivity of the world, new ideas and new modes of thinking can come into being.

Men should let women speak. Women should let trans people speak. Trans people should let black trans people speak. And so on and so on, until physiology alone is expected to speak for the revolution. A universal faculty of speech and reason has no place here. That ‘universality’ would be seen as a ploy to extend a default whiteness over all politics. Hence, speech itself becomes just another tool of whiteness, or maleness, ‘mansplaining’ or ‘whitesplaining’ away the nuances of subversive identities.

Freedom of speech, universal rights, and equality under the law are concepts opposed to identity politics. The attempts to redefine identity politics as ‘just not being racist’ are propaganda designed to undermine the very notion of universal ideas. In infinite difference, and infinite subjectivity, there exists also infinite chaos and an inability for speech to unite people. That is so clear, yet the left insists upon fragmentation as a worthwhile political project in the 21st century. It is not.

Everyone feels fragmented. Everyone aches in their bones for a different world, a profound anxiety and discontent has settled in the digital era in a way more palpable and visible than ever before. Hope in the human project itself is fading. Will hope be renewed by accepting fragmentation? Of course not. That leads only to the infinite regression of reason, the slow collapse of a universal movement into a Dada display of madness. The anxiety of infinite subjectivity is already a flaming pit capable of consuming us all. How can a political movement succeed by evoking it?

I am reminded of one of the greatest passages in Moby Dick: “The great God absolute! The center and circumference of all democracy! His omnipresence, our divine equality!”

The universal spark of divinity in every individual is the essence of democracy, of human rights, of the liberal ethos. Perhaps I have framed this question in the wrong way. But to my mind, identity politics is a doomed project precisely because it rejects the notions of objectivity, universality, and the reasonable speech capable of bringing together a multitude into a coherent whole.

Kek! Or, A Spirited Tour of Online Nihilism

Nietzsche said ‘God is dead’ in the 19th century, and ever since, only fascism, nihilism, relativism and existentialism have stepped in to fill the void. Holy shit.

Fascism is obvious. Stalin, Hitler. And I’m not going to be an idiot and say that Trump is like Hitler, because he’s obviously not. It’s just that the tendency to support Trump stems from the need to become a part of a mass consciousness, to smite your own individuality to cover up for a lying, murdering, rapist celebrity piece of garbage who has rubbed shoulders with Jeffrey Epstein and all the people who Julian Assange and his muppet bandwagoneers think killed Seth Rich and kidnapped kids for John Podesta to molest in a pizza store.

Added bonus: What if Carroll Dunham painted all the creepy child portraits in Ping Pong pizza? That would be a perfect mandala.

Exemplary bonus: Julian Assange was killed in 2014 and replaced with a Russian agent who coordinated with Trump Jr. and leaked the Podesta emails.

Nihilism! Obviously nihilism bleeds the fuck into every system of thought. Whether it’s cynical pasty Warhammer players spouting ‘praise Kek’! As Sargon of Akkad, the most cringeworthy bucket of reactionary toadstool in Britain, so joyfully declares on his livestreams of retarded libertarians turned 9/11 liberal crypto-fascists. All these nihilists call themselves ‘classical liberals’, and they cynically wield identity politics to grow an audience of Patreon stooges who worship their every idiotic hot take pasted onto the internet. Let’s take a tour of nihilists, shall we?

Gavin McInnis, cofounder of Vice, who has literally argued that sexual harassment is just a Darwinist way of pushing sensitive women out of the workplace.

Milo Yiannopolous, who was a dopey liberal journalist with no notoriety until he took up GamerGate as the clarion call of the left. This all started with gamers, you know. Seriously. Follow the map. SJWism rising on tumblr in 2012, 2013, then GamerGate giving rise to this bullshit ‘skeptic anti-SJW’ community in 2014, all the while coining the terms ‘regressive left’ and moving toward Thomas fucking Sowell and Milton Friedman over their anger at videogame feminists. Do you realize that most of these people came into political consciousness to oppose the tyranny not of a politician, but Anita Sarkeesian, a sociologist who made shit feminist videos about gaming? Then, 2015 rolls around, and wouldn’t you know it – all these ‘classical liberals’ either like Trump or believe that Trump is less of a threat to the West than feminism in gaming. It’s too stupid to be true. But it is.

Then there’s SomeBlackGuy, a black guy who runs an anti-SJW YouTube channel, and has hosted a civil and cordial conversation with Nathan Damigo, a self-described white nationalist who became famous for punching the fuck out of an Antifa woman at a real-life political LARPing event at Berkeley, live-action Twitter fighting, the kind of thing pencil-necked incel George Ciccariello-Maher wants to ignite all over the country.

Let’s not forget Lauren Southern, who argues that there is a real distinction between being a white supremacist and being a white nationalist. “Just because I want a white Western country DOES NOT mean I think anything less of black people!” –The Geist of YouTube and /pol, 2017

And last but most obnoxious, Dave fucking Rubin, who again came to political consciousness out of an opposition to YouTube leftism, in the form of The Young Turks, and interviews Ayn Rand devotees and praises supply-side economics as the new center while claiming to be non-partisan.

Oh, and Blaire White, a transgender woman who has built an anti-identity politics channel on the cynical basis of identity politics, like Milo, like Dave Rubin, wielding the LGBTQ banner as a defense against criticism. “How can I be a reactionary? I’m gay/trans!”

Twitter has simply broken the political brain. Nihilism and cynicism are the pervading norm. Kek-praising shitposters who got into politics during GamerGate rode the Trump wave into becoming the new counterculture. You know why, right? 2008 through 2016. The Obama Presidency killed the left. It fragmented it into neoliberal and socialist, two categories that mix like oil and water, and confronted with Hillary Clinton, the weak alliance broke on the rocks.

Meanwhile, on the right, you can reject everything you once believed about economics or foreign policy as long as you agree that SJWs are bad. Alt-right, alt-light, reactionary, Republican, conservative, doesn’t matter! It’s a wide tent, and since American politics is so corporate-fucked, it doesn’t matter what any of these people believe – Trump’s personality is meaningless. The memes are just nihilism. Economics is what matters, and the economics goes unchallenged in this culture war bullshit. We’re the flat tax counterculture, kids!

Cuck yourself to daddy Trump and worship his cellulite fat ass and his banker masters! Alex Jones is doing it, why not you? Every idiot or madman who ever lived can just melt themselves into the sublime marketing mischief of Trump and his goofy world-exploiting Kek!

And of course, under nihilism, we have to talk about these accelerationist weirdos. These WordPresses, these Twitter accounts, CaveTwitter, RhettTwitter, whatever, all these Marxists who hate every other Marxist and wish to grovel before Skynet and the machine God. ‘Unconditional accelerationism’ means that wherever the machine leads us is the way to go. Great! No more thinking, no more individuals. Why not just shoot yourself? No, really, if you’re an accelerationist, why not just shoot yourself? Assimilate into the mass information complex of the sea of all dead or unconscious souls. Attain the aleph, the mandala, the zero at the pinnacle of collapsing history!

Everywhere, the will deflated, the will absorbed into a moronic project!

Let’s talk about relativism, then, shall we? The foibles and idiocies of the left? The left as it currently exists will never become a serious political movement. A white female journalist tweeted out that she thought Beyonce was arrogant. A million sociology-professor/journalist/indistinguishable race-studies professor blobs swarmed her and said she is certainly a racist for thinking that. Excellent! Now Salon writers are too reactionary to join the left? Excellent! Let’s all die out too!

Purity spiraling is just a consequence of the idiotic and resentful attempts to flatten any and all hierarchy in human interaction. The SJW is an impotent wimp with no power, who believes that media companies and the academy will liberate the working class. How embarrassing. How utterly, trivially, embarrassing.

Not to mention the idiotic gender issue. Obviously, trans and non-binary people exist! But dumb fucks like this who are professors literally say that biological sex is not even real! Holy shit, man. Everyone has lost their minds.

So what of the center, then? Oh, God, don’t ask. You really want to run back to David Brooks, David Frum, Nancy Pelosi, the Nancys and Davids of a dying world, their cannibalism come home to roost in the visage and sword of Donald fucking Trump? Eugh.

And the Marxists, oh the Marxists, who say that state communism always fails and is not their goal, and never seem to elaborate how the dissolving of all private property ultimately results in equity and ownership for all. Spoiler alert: it never fucking will.

So do I just hate everybody? No. I like Bernie Sanders, I like Jeremy Corbyn. But they will never fill the spiritual void that leads young gamers to worship daddy Trump. They will never provide the abandoned God and mute spiritual life that humankind so desperately needs. Politics will never create that. It is incapable.

Yes, we are all existentialists for the time being. Since the 19th century. Forever more. God, what a boring universe (That’s why I like Hermeticism, but it’s cyclical and obnoxious too roflmao kek kek kek).

“Democracy Dies in Darkness” Declared the Pro-War Proponents of the Surveillance State

CNN is a creepy and pathetic company attempting to make a profit off the caustic personality of the President while they turn heel and praise him every time he bombs foreigners. They are the perfect incarnation of the sedate, soulless liberal class and the media empires which provided such a sterile portrait of the future that Donald Trump continues to look better than them by virtue of vitality alone. After all, there is nothing more repugnant than despising a man’s style while praising him for vanquishing innocent lives.

“Democracy dies in darkness,” declares the newspaper that fought tooth and nail for the Iraq War, which simultaneously destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives and sowed the seeds for the blood-and-soil Islamism of ISIS. Ironically, Trump was able to pose as anti-establishment in the Republican primary solely by condemning the Iraq War. He also rose to popularity by pledging to destroy ISIS. Could the Washington Post’s fevered editorials of the early 2000s have paved the path for right-wing populism to look good just by opposing the stances of the nation’s milkweed neocons?

Of course, it would be absurd to think that the same media companies who covered the Iraq War, the 2008 recession, and the 2016 election could properly cover a Trump presidency. The press embarrasses itself over and over again, despite facing a unified front of austerity from America’s unpopular ruling party. This should be shooting fish in a barrel. Instead, a majority (roughly 60%) of the electorate says that the press is full of fake news.

What gives?

In December 2016, The New York Times released a story claiming that 17 US intelligence agencies had confirmed Russian interference in the election. In June 2017, they renounced that claim in print, citing that there were only four confirming agencies.

The undercurrent of this retraction is the unending liberal faith in America’s intelligence agencies, despite their complicity in white supremacy by assassinating and blackmailing civil rights figures in 1968 and 1969, including murdering Fred Hampton and threatening Martin Luther King with his infidelity, hoping to compel him to suicide. These very same liberals constantly decry the left for distrusting the deep state, particularly the CIA and the FBI, upholding the facade of institutional dignity to protect the powerful and whitewash crimes that would force West Wing liberals to face uncomfortable realities about America’s compromised institutions.

Perhaps the media class, and their liberal bedfellows, love the status quo. Perhaps liberals actually despise the left more than they despise the right. It would seem that way from listening to Nancy Pelosi, who holds that single-payer healthcare is an impossibility, and that abortion is a negotiable issue for the Democrats. Maybe if you call yourself a centrist, you can throw every progressive cause under the bus and still be considered a leading progressive legislator, because image is valued more than policy. As long as Nancy Pelosi is considered a moonbat far-leftist to people like Ben Shapiro, we can all straw-man the left and pretend that these inchoate moderates represent socialism in any form.

In the end, it is pretense that drives both Donald Trump and the mainstream press. False, craven images of courageous pensioned rebels and rockstar Presidents are cancerous, and place cosplay before politics.

But American liberals believe in cosplay. They believe in James Comey standing up and saving the republic with a few good words, in one fell swoop. Liberals, like the press, believe that institutional power can stop Trump and save America. In their fantasies, the dignity of the American system will bring the rogue and uncouth pirate lord to justice. It’s the madman, not his myriad powers and system of economic destruction being pushed forth at the behest of autocrats, that is the problem – no, Trump is a unique blight on an otherwise excellent system. Likewise, elements of the PC campus left believe that institutional coercion is the best way to enforce social justice, even at the expense of free speech. In most sectors of American political life, massive amounts of power are being unconsciously lent to corporate structures and their increasing control over individual freedoms. To the business world, and the political world that bends to business’ demands, human freedom is contingent upon the ability to afford legal defenses, medical expenses, and that is all supposedly consensual – the wealthiest people gain access to the best legal maneuvering and healthcare, because they are better by virtue of industriousness and deserve better services. This is the curse of meritocracy gone mad, where survival, not comfort, is the reward for thriving in the marketplace. The punishment? Medical bankruptcy. I wonder how many households have $50,000 saved up for surgery, should they need it. The answer is virtually none.

Yet these materialistic standards, which place a minimum threshold on the ability of a person or family to survive in the world, go largely uncontested by a media class obsessed with conspiracies surrounding foreign powers and an obsession with image and pretense over substance, an obsession that the election of Trump should have clearly called into doubt. On the subject of consistently foot-shooting liberal hubris displayed in Real Time with Bill Maher, Bush speechwriter David Frum and outspoken liberal Maher agreed that patriotic people should come together to not only impeach Donald Trump, but to welcome Mike Pence, as some kind of return to political normalcy.

Finally, the social safety net for the chronically poor can be cut with bipartisan approval in the name of respectability. The truth is that there is no normalcy in American politics as long as the rules of business subjugate the rules of politics. The concentration of wealth into the hands of the few, when coupled with the power of the wealthy over democratic outcomes, should tip the scales toward acknowledging that capitalism and democracy are moving the disbursement of political power in opposite directions. Namely, the concentration of wealth gives undue political influence to extraordinarily small segments of the population. But this is negligible to both the US media and most liberals – the radical nature of democracy, and popular opinion, has always been questioned as a social force, when elite rule is so much more convenient. This ‘Crisis of Democracy’ was cited in liberal circles throughout the 70s as the problem of having ‘too much democracy’, and not enough leadership by elites. The wealthy and industrious should have more political power, so goes the argument, the common people should have to become rich to have any influence over the world, so that by the standards of wealth, the tech barons and comfortable modern intellectuals in journalism and on cable TV can direct the course of history, because they have proven themselves to be the most worthy and talented. This is what liberals wish would happen – they dream of a world driven by Bill Nye, Nate Silver and Rachel Maddow. They take spiritual counsel from Neil DeGrasse Tyson and wish that Ezra Klein could write a healthcare bill. But these wonks and uninspiring technocrats failed at the ballot in 2016. Instead, Donald Trump managed to bring the agenda of the rich into the White House beneath the mask of being a rogue actor, a change in governing ideology. Trump is neoliberal to his core, but liberals think him an aberration, and conservatives take offense at bluster and personality over the reality that his policies are as old as conservatism itself.

If advocating for the closed austere society is in principle acceptable, and only the excess of aesthetic viscera makes Trump problematic, then liberals have already conceded the ‘center’ to conservatives.

Sadly, this is what much of the media and the liberal class believe. If only Trump was respectable, like Barack Obama! This is all they yearn for – respectability.

If only, whines Brian Stelter and Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo, if only the President wasn’t into memes, we could respect him!

There will be no ‘new center’, and there will be no conception of the media as a disinterested purveyor of rationality and objectivity. They never have been, when they cheered on the Iraq War, when they apologized for mass surveillance and clandestine intelligence agencies, when they refused for years to cover Wall Street’s structural problems and refused to hold the stockbroking hustlers and gamblers at the heights of Columbia’s sword responsible for their malfeasance in 2008.

The media does not care about you, and it does not care about the truth. This makes them unfit to cover the Trump presidency and places the burden, as usual, on outlets that don’t churn up heavy profits, but are more consumer advocates than narcissistic dice rollers in the worldwide casino of global capitalism, a casino falsely attributed to Trump, but that has persisted for decades and will see no master more fit for it than the senile old rentier we have now.

Memory, Resurrection, and the Indeterminate Past

The world can be split into two fundamental impulses – that of the serpent and that of Christ. Yes, this is highly symbolic, but let’s go with it. The serpent is materially successful, conniving, wise, and willing and able to hurt other people. Serpentine knowledge is the only thing that allows you to get a job, to have a place and function in this world, to climb the hierarchy of dominance and become somebody you can respect.

The Christ impulse is the exact opposite of the serpent.

The Christ seeks to reverse all hierarchy, to put the lame and the broken first and the wealthy and powerful last. The message of the Gospels is of the distinction between life and Life. It may be a good life, for an imperial Roman soldier, to achieve for yourself and your family to the detriment of others. But it is not Life. Life is divine in origin, and it transcends death. Without a concept of divine Life as superior to Earthly, fallen life, the concept of resurrection is incoherent. Hence, the sublime beauty and madness of self-sacrifice upon the cross is an appeal to Life, which is utterly transcendent.

Resurrection is the superiority of Life over life. Resurrection of the body, particularly, is the resurrection of that which is consumed in the serpent’s mouth. But there are immaterial serpents as well. Forgetting and sleeping are tendrils of the central concept of death. When you forget a beautiful idea, it is akin to a minor death. When you sleep, you forget what it is to be. This is also a minor death.
The principle of resurrection is to view every death as minor. To hold that the universal essence of being is more powerful than death. Resurrection, then, is the principle mode of divine Life operant in the material serpentine world.

I’m going to try to lay out the seed of a thought here, the seed of a scientific way of understanding resurrection.

I believe that resurrection is analogous to memory. When you remember something, you are resurrecting a dead part of yourself, or an abandoned part of your mind. When you are at work, busy, and are not remembering that specific image, scene or phrase, it is dead. It dwells somewhere that you are not. But when you remember that image, it returns to the living mind, it becomes a part of you once more.
The very fact that we sleep means that we forget being every single day. We forget what it is to live, and dwell in the dream-state, the place between the potential and the actual, where the stuff of life and the stuff of all potential remembrance intermingle. In a dream, you may see a family picnic from 25 years ago. You may see a face from your childhood. Dreams are the mandala of the actual and the potential in interaction, so no wonder they’re so difficult to understand, or why they are so potentially rewarding.

Between concentration, which kills all ideas we are not concentrating on, and the dream life, which tangles all our ideas together, all the stuff of memory, when it is not actively being remembered, exists somewhere that is potential in nature. It is neither dead nor alive, it is simply a potential. Human beings alone can remember, because human beings alone are aware of potential, of the ability to make sacrifices in the present in order to gain in the future, or to treasure a young writer and help them grow because their potential exceeds their current output.

This dimension of potential leads us to an oft-cited but poorly conceived topic – the famous double-slit experiment. I won’t bore you with summary, but I’ll simply state that the conclusion of this experiment is that the world is more potential than actual, that any given phenomena does not solidify until it has interacted with a conscious observer. At the very least, a phenomenon can change when it is being perceived, as the double-split experiment, an utter anomaly in the materialist world, seems to indicate.

Now, this has led to a lot of fuzzy claims, such as the idea that all the potential of the world can be negotiated into actuality if you ‘just want it bad enough’. This is the worldview of Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s ‘The Secret’. The infinite potential of being is turned into the serpent’s wisdom – the ability to get what you want.

But I think the real consequence of this experiment is related to memory. If an act of memory is an act of resurrection, pulling the actual out of the sea of potential, of bringing an image to mind that has in some sense died, then memory is the main faculty with which human beings negotiate with time. By remembering something, we bring it back from the dead, or from chaos, or undifferentiated potential, all these designations seem to fit.

Moreso, by remembering something, we change our perception of that image. The family picnic 25 years ago may have been held at a park, but if you dream of it beside a cathedral, or remember it beside a cathedral, then you change your own perception of the past. The past, to your perception, is changing in real time. But if our perception actually has material influence on the manifestation of possibility, if things pan out differently in the physical world based on whether or not we perceive them, then remembering is actually changing the past. By resurrecting the dead, you can change the fact and circumstance of their death. You can resurrect the body – the central claim of Christianity.

Now, so much of this hinges on the pre-eminence of consciousness over the world of brute, material indifference. So much of this will not be proven or grounded for centuries. That is why I write fiction, because I prefer speculation and the growth of ideas within the matrix of symbols rather than endless experimentation and incremental logical building. The difference between a poet and a scientist may be that of patience. Fiction wants to dabble in the unproven, and so analysis is no longer enough. The trade-off is that the author/poet has far less stability in both thought and vision than the scientist.

I intend for this only to be the seed of an idea – a grand synthesis of memory and resurrection, or the scientific study of mind and the psychology of the Christ and his (alleged) resurrection. Since resurrection is one of the least-understood concepts in existence, sowing these seeds may give way to profound and fertile future development. Perhaps the final form of this theory will re-write its articulation in the present, if it is possible to change the past in the future, if time is folded upon itself, and can be unpeeled, and seeds of unknown dimensions may be found folded upon the most primitive and basic of things.

I like this idea about memory-resurrection because it synthesizes Christianity with the study of mind and the mind’s faculties, and because I so often lose myself in both memory and theological longing. There’s my biases, presented plainly.

But I mentioned the serpent at the start of this piece for a reason. The serpent is the world of determinism, without free will, of crude mechanistic science without hope of human will being able to change the world we are trapped in. The symbol of the serpent swallowing its own tail, the psychedelic basis of the image of the biological cell, is what we must strive to overcome. The fact that existentialism, materialism and post-modernism have replaced religion is reason enough to seek transcendent ideas. In the 21st century, the notion of transcendence is needed more than ever.

We have come to great terms with machines, power and suffering. When will we come to great terms with transcendence, morality, and resurrection?

Perhaps the path is through the study of consciousness, if, as Hermes Trismegistus once stated, “man is the measure of all things”. The hypothesis that conscious perception in the present can actually change the past seems to be the testing of this ancient wisdom. A new science beyond materialism may be able to get to the root of it.

Giant Serpents Wriggling Through Thunderstorms in the Sky

Materialist reductionist science is the bottom layer upon which our civilization is built. The outcome of materialism in philosophy will be the outcome of materialism in society. This is because all technology is embedded in the reductionist principle, and all the wisdom that has granted us phones, neural nets embedded in hard drives, skyscrapers and space travel are thanks to the bisecting of the Earth into mechanical parts. We can’t have 21st century capitalism without a society built on reductionism.

The modes of science pull apart phenomena and freeze them in time – after all, it is only by freezing a system in time that it can be properly understood. At the macro level, we can see this principle in the study of life. It is incoherent to study life as a force, as an element of reality, without disintegrating it into specific species, nervous systems, organs and limbs. And yet, conceived of as a whole, life is a transformation of all these material parts along the axis of time. We are, as apes who have followed the world of dinosaurs, the children of serpents. We are the inheritors of the evolutionary potential that once culminated in massive reptiles with tiny brains, and who were usurped by rodents, who in time became apes capable of grasping the sea of psyche and articulating it into language and the arts. The way of fang and claw on Earth has utterly given way to techne – that much is uncontroversial. But is that process not continuous? In the trajectory of all life on Earth, haven’t we clearly observed since the primordial ooze a decisive move toward larger brains, more complex brains, and more complex thoughts? At the dawn of life, the warm seas spread protoplasm all across the Earth. Today, thoughts encircle the Earth via techne, digital transmission of thought. The answer to any alien watching four billion years unfold would be obvious – we are the latest stage in a great process of becoming.

Perhaps there is poetic looseness in what I say. The entire enterprise of science has been committed to expunging this poetry from reality. Evolution, as Neo-Darwinists say, refers only to the process of natural selection, conducted through genetic heredity without purpose or final aims. It is erroneous to speak of the evolution of life as a whole – this whole, to science, simply does not exist, because there is no physical mechanism by which thought evolves out of unthinking matter. That is perfectly fair, and perfectly limited. But unexplained is the central claim of Neo-Darwinism – that a single species of ape should fold in upon itself to the point of discovering its own DNA, its own evolutionary tree, its own material origins. And as long as this remarkable knowledge goes unexplained, human beings are an incoherent object in the world of science. The existence of subjective consciousness, the world eternally in motion, made of events and not objects, is also a fatal anomaly. Materialist reductionism has mapped the entire world save for the mind of the being doing the mapping. I am certain, that in the future, this self-reflective faculty of human beings will be the key to understanding both techne and poetry.

Science, in its commitment against poetry, has achieved the Neo-Darwinian synthesis and the hyper-technological society that is currently usurping and molding all the world in its warpath. Indeed, the world is being encircled by thought, and at the moment, in its primordial phase, the great encircling of the world in digital consciousness has failed to generate a new mode of being. Twitter and viral marketing have given us Trump, not a revolution. Instead of a technological Eden of free information, we live in perpetual streams of reaction, prose spit-balled on Twitter and social media in the spirit of cynicism, resentment, irony and satire that ferments profound distance between digital posturing and living, breathing people. And yet, the social media timeline, the ultimate invention of reductionist techne, is more addictive than any book, it is the omnipresent eternally-mobile blur of a world we do not understand and can no longer differentiate with any hermeneutic other than conservatism or Marxism. We are polarized in these times because two great dragons are at war who each seek to consume the other and have nothing in common save for the will to power. Their essential war is waged over hierarchy.

Marxism is the principle of horizontal power, collectivism and equality, opposed to the principle of vertical hierarchy. And yet, Marx himself is more a mystic than the most Christian capitalist, who favors the ball-and-chain of the Old Testament’s eternal toil instead of the grace and salvation of the radical Gospels. The Gospels do not flatten hierarchy, but reverse it. The first shall be last, the last shall be first. The poorest and filthiest among us shall have their feet washed by the resurrected body of Christ. In seeking to free humankind from the nightmarish future of industrial growth without spiritual benefit to the life of humankind, Marx was a profound believer in grace. The good news of the Gospels is that the path of toil and sin is only half the story. There is transcendence, there is an escape from the cycles of eternal recurrence, eternal life in the below. It is this ‘eternal recurrence’ that Marx saw as the life of a factory worker, a perpetual sentence to powerlessness and fruitless toil. Marx saw that the Old Testament described the sorry condition of man, but decrying Christ as an opiate, offered politics as the source of grace. Of course, the 20th century was one long tale of how this failed.

Perhaps Stalinism can be considered a disfigured attempt to create the kingdom of God on Earth. The vortex of souls toward revelation was redirected toward the image of the vulgar state. A false idol stood at the apex of transcendent yearning, and so an alchemical transmutation of Earth into Hell was achieved, the reversal of grace. The lesson of Stalinism is this: attempts to flatten hierarchy at the macro-level always fail. It must be built up from the local domain if it is to work, I am convinced. This equality, defined as the irreducible worth of each individual, must be fought for, lest we accept Facebook, Amazon, Uber and Exxon as the striving spirit of the human race, and accept the corporatized internet as the ‘natural’ path of encircling the globe with human thought. I think such a proposal, to worship the techne of corporations who each will own a thousand sub-corporations, and provide products and services for every domain of our lives, will lead only to a gulag of a different order.

We must first come to terms with time, the reality of a world and truth in an unfolding process, not static Newtonian blocks, but a perpetual evolution in motion. In the final analysis, time will lay bare the fate of techne. If eternal development of the matter-energy of the Earth, which is the project of Amazon and Facebook and Uber and Exxon, is a pathway toward self-consumption, or the snake swallowing its own tail, then all the structures of science will also come into question.

How could they not?

When Marxism led to Stalinism, it was considered disproven by the West. Likewise, if a corporate neo-feudalism, or major climate disaster, or both, come to pass by the end of the 21st century, then the mode of reductionist science and its practical application, technological development, will be revealed as insufficient for the completeness of the human soul. We forgot something. We advanced with only one principle, we crystallized into technical beings to the point where technology swallowed us, and we became our own Tower of Babel, our own misguided attempt to realize the Kingdom of God through banking, surveillance and Silicon Valley. A gulag of a different order.

The chain of fault, if techne leads to a dystopia, would strike back to the core of the Enlightenment. Follow the chain: there is no Silicon Valley without industrialization, there is no industrialization without technology, there is no modern technology without modern science, and there is no modern science without the empiricism and rationalism of the Enlightenment.

Techne has the power to strip humankind of all its freedom and individuality. The Internet, if corporatized and censored, would no longer be free. Artificial intelligence could easily fail to come close to its legendary promises, casting doubt on the current axioms of neuroscience and reductionist philosophy. The struggle of objective science to understand subjective consciousness, if it continues to fail, would only highlight the incompleteness of the scientific worldview. The fallout of climate change by 2100, especially, will rock industrial man to his core. It will strike us at our foundations, in the same way that the collapse of the USSR struck at the core of Marx’s notions of hierarchy. It beats us down at every level of our techne: the scientific, the technological, and the industrial.

We have forgotten grace. Or rather, we have forgotten our own experience, we have forgotten the notion of divinity in each and every human being which is the foundation of law and the last bulwark against self-interested barbarism running rampant over man. Without intuition, without love, with only techne, we are as giant serpents wriggling through thunderstorms in the sky, aiming for the face of God. We will meet only a tyrant, not a source of radiant love and hope for all mankind, but a reflection of our own tyranny. And that realization, that meeting with the tyrant, will plunge the Tower of Babel back to dust, and with it all our notions of science, technology, and the industrial economy that these forces have created.

Of course, we can never abandon hierarchy. We can never abandon technology. To suggest so is spiritual darkness, a denial of the will. But it is not wholly sufficient for a complete life on Earth. The flood of climate change would be direct feedback from reality that this is the case. The inability of reductionist science to understand consciousness would also be direct feedback that our current mode of thinking is insufficient.

The true work of humankind is synthesis, not domination. The alchemical marriage of techne and grace is the goal of all fertile thought. What is grace? The hope of something new, the hope of a greater structure for the world than the cycles of depression and existentialism that grip all thinking people who cannot leap into ideology as their salvation. Now it becomes clear why we must synthesize techne with grace – because techne without grace creates a world without individual meaning. It creates an externalized psyche in the form of online phenomena without the corresponding growth and achievement that should follow from a genuine community of psyches in global interaction.

The world is not what it should be. Knowing this, and striving to redeem it anyway, is the impulse of grace. And grace must aim for the root – the threefold foundation called reductionist science, capitalism and technology. The technocratic end of history, the salvation of man at the hand of machine, and the myth of boundless material expansion are all tied together as the core of hubris, man without inspiration, left solely to the dominion of machine.

If we believe that dominion is inevitable, then we must merely wait for the singularity, and acknowledge that our individual wills are impotent and pointless. Try to live this way without falling into nihilism. It is surely impossible.

No, the human will is essential. Your will is essential. The synthesis you make of your own life and its practical value for the whole of humankind – that source of grace cannot be infringed upon. Your mind is more important than the hive mind. No accelerationist fantasy can deny that without declaring individual life a redundant enterprise.

Where do we begin? Each will have their own field. But it will certainly involve the synthesis of ideas across fields, and lived example. Without lived examples, like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Carl Jung, Henri Bergson, and Alfred North Whitehead, the ideals of synthesis lack practical value. Do not move backward. The immensity of techne daunts us all. But it will not be the final synthesis at the end of history, and thus it should not cow us into silence.

Strive against all membranes until one gives way to novelty.

An Essay on the Modern Problem of Living

As the old fears creep in, the tendrils of the mystical, the totally preserved anxieties of the ancient mystery religions transported into the present day, we question the foundations of our society. The pre-Christian terrors, the primeval fears of a world where we have all the complexity of raw phenomenon and experience, but with no notion of divine footing. This presents the essence of the modern problem – the world is more complex than ever before, which should lead to a flourishing, and yet it is only leading to fear.

The mystery can either be good or bad depending on the situation of the ego. The mystery is fluid, mercurial. It is the radical transformation of gender, the normalization of androgyny, the fantastic aesthetic elements of anime, the depraved and sublime dark comedy of 4chan and the internet’s gutters, and the deluge of perpetual news about a celebrity who translated marketing bravado into statecraft, and runs the most powerful empire in human history out of a country club in Florida.

The mystery is all these things and the threat of automation, the loss of nationhood, the loss of sovereignty, the pathetic attempts of austerity movements that promise sovereignty, the chaos of the political, personal and economic spheres all colliding and becoming an affirmation of the same basic ideas of unchanging and cyclical pain. But there is no going back. Once you see that we are at the tipping point of centuries of man’s blind faith in reason, and that all the old myths and the dying father are not enough for the whole future, that scientific rationalism has taken us to a place much riper for nihilism than the sheer confidence of church-state collusion, there is no going back. Instead of the Catholic Church, there is corporate-state collusion, and where the church once provided belief in higher selves implicit in the world, the corporate-state world provides no aesthetic, no pretense to divinity, no hope, only an enclosed material loop that resembles a nightmare.

The central questions of existence remain unanswered. And it is no easy thing to state them, but to my nearest approximation, I consistently return to a handful of questions that I see as the root of our suffering, the most painful core of our separation from fulfilling lives, but also questions that represent intractable situations which modern wisdom cannot even pretend to answer. My central questions are as follows:

Do we belong on this Earth, or is consciousness a stranger here? Are we conscious, reflecting beings only to follow nature’s dictates of our own free will, or must we rebel against its plans and create our own values? Is God a force that comes from outside the universe, or is God the universe itself, present everywhere, inside the world, self-contained? Where do our thoughts, and our reflective, creative powers, originate from? Do thoughts, ideas and archetypes shape us, or have we invented them? Have we created our symbols to navigate the world, or are our symbols impressed within us by nature, like genetic heritage? If we have created our symbolic life, can we create a new one, ruled by new symbols? Is it more righteous to accept the world and improve yourself, or to reject the world and focus outward? In the final analysis, is the God of the Old Testament, a cruel teacher, punisher of man for the sake of great development and eventual reward, our divine heritage, or a test to break free from? Must we burn our old world to create a new one, like we burn our old selves and resurrect our personality from the flames?

These questions all seem to me to be restatements of the same larger question: is God or Lucifer the hero of the story of creation? Is the serpent who presents the fruit of knowledge our true advocate, and our plunging into history, our creation of a man-made world that rejects the rules of nature, our true goal? And if this is our goal, is there free will? And of course, the very fact that we must ask this question, “is there free will”, is a source of great nihilism. When your ideas are in total opposition to your lived experience, you are necessarily a compromised being. There is no truth left in you. When you, who make decisions, are told by modern neuroscience to question your own free will, it creates a sense of fear that no philosophy can erase. It is akin to telling a black person, that despite their lived interpretation and analysis of their living conditions, that they have suffered no institutional racism, and only have themselves to blame. When the world of ideas contradicts the world of experience, the ground cracks beneath us. There is no ground anymore for being.

In the sciences, ideas contradict experience. We are told that our own consciousness, our own perception, our own exceptional ability to reflect upon the fact that we are seeing and breathing and feeling and suffering and enjoying, is a less real phenomenon than subatomic structures which hold no meaning, no reflection, no ability for creative genesis, no talent, no intelligence and no perception. If everything that we are and have ever felt is less real than the neurons and physical pathways of our material brains, then surely there is no value to individual life. Surely it seems not worth living, that it is only an illusion, a mirage over a crude material reality of charge, spin, attraction and repulsion. This ‘Science makes the world beautiful’, this shallow refrain of materialists such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or Richard Dawkins, or even the great Carl Sagan, is not taken to its fullest conclusions. In the final analysis of their worldview, we are meat machines who are orphaned by a world that has imbued us with a longing for something that is false, a longing embedded in a mode of existence that is false and circumstantial, and that our notion of ‘truth’ is never absolute, and only a convenient manifestation of the searching tools used by a computational brain to find new watering holes. Why faith is a concept that exists in the universe at all, in all its paradoxical implications, or hunger strikes for the sake of ephemeral ‘values’ are possible in the minds of apes, is merely an accident. In this worldview, the entire ‘great work’ of writing and thinking about being simply has no value. There is no destination, only a self-justifying circle. It leads us to the postmodern hell. If values themselves are an accident of being that reflect no real truths, only convenient tools for survival, representing the cunning serpent and not at all the elucidation of martyrdom and the sun, then scientific materialism devours itself and creates relativism, just as Christianity once devoured itself to create scientific materialism. The ideology of science rejects values by definition – they are not material. You cannot cut open a brain and discover values. The symbolic order transcends matter. Ah! Finally, the truth I have long been prodding at, hoping to break loose. My confession of my own beliefs: that the symbolic order transcends matter. The realm of numbers, myths, music and images transcends the realm of crude neurons and prefrontal cortexes, which exist in a different realm entirely than the realm of symbol, which is the realm of spirit, because our symbols for the spirit are our only present understanding of what spirit is. Accordingly, our notions of the spirit evolve, but is spirit static or does it evolve with them, watching us through the glass, a shapeshifter that responds to our thinking and becomes what we are? We are so naked and defenseless against the spirit. Our articulations, through stories, songs, poetry and speeches, are all we have to comprehend the spirit outside of raw feeling.

The spirit is the main contention of this age. Does it rest upon a mess of unfeeling matter, or infinite subjectivity, or is it something real and objective that exists outside the world? Perhaps all three, in some unholy trinity. Is the spirit capable of making decisions, inside matter, as the free will, outside of crude physical causation, outside the cage of all conscious decisions emerging from a synapse or a brain mechanism, a fantasy that leads neuroscientists to reject free will as an impossibility because all the physical world must be self-enclosed, and can allow no meddling by something as unknown as ‘spirit’ or ‘will’? Indeed, free will is incompatible with the scientific worldview. But if there is no free will, there is surely no meaning in life. At least, there is no meaning in the choices of faith, the choices of one’s career, the choices of how one spends their time, how one lives, what one believes, what one says…there is no meaning in life if there is no meaning in these choices. Notice I have excluded love, because it is never a choice. But maybe these were never choices in the first place, and merely expressions of God’s will. This determinism is the final resting point of both science and religion. The only difference is whether it is material or spiritual determinism. If science cannot apprehend how a brain makes a choice, if choice is the determined causal machinations of brain alone, then the spirit is denied, its will is denied, its values are an illusion, its discovery of objective mathematics was also the stumbling upon of a great useful hallucination, and science is the study of Maya, a world of illusion, of veils, of total falsehood.

Science plunges us into the mystery like nothing else. And this is why science has failed its purpose – to establish reason and scientific reasoning as the final ideology of history. And of course, it is irrefutable that Christianity created modern science. It was the Christian concept of logos, the Christian concept of immortal truth, of articulated logical truth, which was worth pursuing, the Christian foundations of systematic rational theology which became systematic rational science. It was the movement of Descartes, who had thought of spirit and self and soul as a shorthand for the Christian God, and defined it all as outside of the physical world, in his painful dualism, and narrowed the study of science purely to mechanistic things, like everything in the world that was not self, soul and God. Descartes defined thoughts and values as outside of the natural world, and as of the 17th century, had created the foundations for modern science. The objective and descriptive nature of science, not tainted by human subjectivity, symbols and values, was science’s claim to supremacy. And yet it was only because of Christian categorizing that modern science was ever able to be defined in this way. Soul and self were in the same category of God, and so were of no matter to science. They remain of no matter to science.

Christianity, in Descartes, sowed the seeds for the death of everything spiritual, subjective, and metaphysical. It was the accursed dualism which creates scientific materialism, and now scientific materialism places us back in the pre-Christian era – in total mystery. We are surrounded by dark matter and dark energy that we cannot understand. We are not ourselves, but phantoms without will conjured up out of the Earth, nothing but nervous systems on a bad ego trip. The philosophy of modern science is totally this dark, pre-Christian mystery religion, which affords us only systemic knowledge of an arcane world of physical, molecular, atomic interactions that exist outside of our perceptions, but are the source of all true reality. It is downright esoteric.

What, other than mysticism, is the source of reality? We have always lived in the mystery, only the history of competing structures of ideas, like Christianity and reason, markets and Marxism, have made us pretend that the final footing has been found, and now living a life in service of the True Ideology is all that is left. An advocate for reason, an advocate for nationalism, an advocate for the church, or an advocate for free trade, all these priesthoods are embarrassed and unclothed before the chill of their own ultimate shortcoming. There is no absolute Truth, there never was. There was no Yahweh, there was no rational materialism that put to bed the true nightmare of asking the question: from where do our values arise? Where do we see what is and conceive of a possible future, and posit what could be? Where is this notion of ‘becoming’ in the minds of apes, who have become digital shamans of industrial catastrophe where once we were apes gathering food in the plains of untamed chaos?

All answers for the mystery fall short. And yet, it is undeniable that there is a genuine mystery, and not merely a mistake of terms. There is a real, honest-to-God problem at the core of all this. There is something rational. There is not formless postmodern anxiety. There are rules to this thing, only the true rules will appear to us as cliffsides from the mist, approaching sailors gazing anxiously, who thought they had conquered all the world only to see that their problems were more complex than any of their ancestors had ever known. The level of complexity, too, has increased with time.

What is the point of individuals, seven billion of them? Why so many infinite renditions even among people of similar archetypes? Why are there now so many individuals, and with the digital world of the Internet, why are these individuals now composing a hive mind? Why has our individuality seemingly been ushered more and more internal, expressible only in more ironic and painful terms, suppressed and more profound and painful than ever before, as Dionysus predicted when he emerged from Nietzsche’s soul as a daemon at the end of Beyond Good and Evil?

Why is the entire world now a pressure cooker, a massive splintering, an era of chaos and a sense of profound loss, of burning bridges, of people who find it harder than ever to articulate their problems, because their problems are more immense and myriad than any generation prior has ever known? The more history that piles up beneath us, the more expectations rise for the future of the journey. The pile we sit on is impossibly large, and yet, no individual truly feels they can be fulfilled by it anymore. It is a lie simply to become a Christian and call the problem solved. In its dying days also is the satisfaction in merely studying the canon, the great work, and praising the Greeks as the perpetual source. All the old myths are not enough, and yet paradoxically, they are also the rooting we need. Everywhere, the dialogue between two ideas burns itself quickly, leaving neither alive. Competing notions kill each other prematurely and do not develop. We need to revive the past, but in an entirely new context, an entirely new aesthetic, a new understanding. We need to break totally with the past while keeping it with us as the source of all our strength. But who is this ‘we’? And do I not speak of the horrors of Bolshevism? What wisdom to take with us? What wisdom to condemn as detrimental and abandon? Because there is great wisdom in pessimistic and anti-human statements. “You have to accept the world before you can change it,” is itself an insane contradiction, a parody. And yet I believe it. Contradictions, religious paradoxes, appear more attractive than ever. Perhaps because they provide concrete footing while being honest about the mystery. Perhaps that ‘maybe’, that flexibility, is the truth we need to navigate these times. An adventurer’s spirit, loose from fear, seeking only the future without believing that the past is impoverished and needs replacing. When articulation swallows itself, and there is nothing more to say, what then? We must act, but how hard should we think about every single movement, every motion? We cannot make these motions with faith until we understand what it is that we place our faith in.

Many today stress the importance of “mindfulness” or of “being present mentally at all times”. But this is the falsest and most bitter balm of them all. Living entirely in the moment, in the present, without anxiety, without wracking doubt and fear, is a yearning for the world before the Fall, a desire to Eden before knowledge, the desire to become a grazing herd animal or a primordial man that acts upon what it sees, feels and breathes, and does not engage in self-reflection as a habit and a matter of course. The desire to take the world as it is, to be present in it and not seek anything beyond, is a pathetic desire for the state of animality, a happy dog hopping around on a summer day. This too demeans our values, and pretends that our perpetual thinking and articulation about our values is a largely unnecessary source of pain. I can think of nothing as philistine as this, as considering the mind a nuisance to be silenced, particularly when it screams at you the loudest, in situations of anxiety or doubt.

And yet revelation and faith are immediate perceptions. They are not challenged by the infinite wrangling worm of self-doubt and delusion. Knowledge that appears through immediate perception, intuition, is simultaneously the highest function of the artistic consciousness but also our closest function to base animal instinct. Is the mass of our unconscious mind a biological tar pit of old ape ideas, or an illuminated source of being emanated through our brains and hands? Is God a chaos demon or a creative source of order? Are the chaos demon and the angel of order the same being? Are we merely, in the Greek formulation, “the playthings of the Gods”? And yet, with our will, are we supposed to pick sides among the Gods, and create our own values?

To move forward, you have to acknowledge where you are. Millennials have avoided doing this. We do not take stock of our unique historical situation because the platitudes of the ancestors have rendered us passive, or merely as receptors of a project that does not need our input. It needs our input, our lived experience, badly. Our contradictions, our paradox, our casual existential attitude of the disposable sublime. We are in the era of bondage, or mystery, of the tightly-woven chains we must ease our way out of. The mystery will unfold in all its beauty. It must. It has been nourished for billions of years. But we are standing still, or regressing, as a species right now. We are in the mystery that casts our hopes for both internal and external order as alien, and global and spiritual chaos as our home. This cruel God has much to teach us, and we have much to say.

Never stop thinking of these problems, and your experiences, and never pretend that the mystery isn’t real. The mystery is all we have. It has never been touched, only circled.

DAMN: When Prophets Become Pessimists

Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN is a product of its times, for better or for worse.

To Pimp a Butterfly was an epic, a relentless drama about internal struggle that culminated in rap’s ideal, Tupac Shakur, announcing blood, death and riots as America’s self-consuming future.

Mortal Man, the final track from To Pimp a Butterfly, ends on a tragic note. Kendrick Lamar’s theory of self-destructive and spiteful caterpillars becoming higher beings, higher souls that are actually one with the caterpillar, is met with silence. His idol is dead. There is no final verdict on his ideas. He is left with the desire to be remembered like Nelson Mandela, with a country that is failing, because the entire Enlightenment has failed and Western civilization is a collapsing tower five-centuries in the making. It is no wonder that millennials experience such bad conscience in the modern world. We are living simultaneously between two impossible moments.

One of these impossible moments is the redefinition of language and communication itself via the internet and digital reality. Some have compared the emergence of the internet to the printing press. I disagree. It is much more like the invention of language itself, and its developments over the next quarter-century will indicate this over and over again. There is no Donald Trump without constant bombardment of information, the great whelming, the surge of a muscled limb in one heaving direction, and its immediate collapse upon realizing it has nowhere to go. Within Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, we are this aimless limb motivated to scroll for hours at a time, gaining virtually nothing but a deepening sense of impotence in return. Junk data, useless information, has become life itself. Or at least, that is the veneer spread over life, by social media, in particular the false worlds, the Maya, where we spend our time and invest our prospects for friendship, ideology and careers.

The total re-wiring of the plastic brain would be enough for one generation to deal with, but we are also living through the failure of the Enlightenment, concretized in a civilization that is burning itself alive with carbon dioxide, a withering wounded beast arguing feverishly against the walls that its best days are ahead. When Trump says we will reach 4% growth, he is a liar in the same way that Francis Fukuyama and Hillary Clinton are liars, that a splintering feudalistic market economy that is inspiring bitterness and hatred toward the world unlike anything we’ve seen before in this century, could somehow be redeemed and made into prosperity and Christian good faith. It is asinine. The Enlightenment has led to a society of managers, efficient systems experts who hang beautiful decorum around hollow metal frames. The reality of a poverty-stricken death-worshiping America, from police shootings to medical bankruptcy to the pure spite required to vote for a man like Donald Trump, is incoherent to those who see in our burial ground a city on a hill. This spite has real origins, and is fostered by our digital removal from the world and the gamut of daddy’s money and unpaid or temporary work that is required to land even a decent-quality job.

In this great age, the collapse of any pretense to an enlightened rational society, and the acceleration of digital media to the point of sheer blindness, hip-hop has become the spirit of the times. Kendrick Lamar, as hip-hop’s most commercially successful and artistically revered representative, is the leading artist of this great dying-off of centuries of imperial ambition. He is the voice of America meeting its end. He is the great poet who chronicles the dawning of reality upon the empire, and speaks his epic stories in the most popular mode of art that is most intuitive to these times.

Straddling two eras, immersed in darkness with no understanding of what the horizon could possibly look like, Kendrick Lamar is the voice of the blind. How does he follow up his last album, which was an epic? By reducing scope and scale. By trafficking in darkness and grit where the orchestral and sublime has already been done. So with this foreground, DAMN is like a nihilistic thriller.

I am unsure how seriously we are to take the voicemail at the end of FEAR. It is not ambiguous in its meaning. But its meaning is monstrous. The voicemail, left from a preacher to Kendrick Lamar at the end of the crowning song on the album, argues the ultimate canard, the cruelest idea possible – that black people suffer because they have moved away from the Ten Commandments, and have brought God’s plagues upon themselves.

What is anyone supposed to say to such insanity? Why has Kendrick Lamar not been asked about this? Is this voicemail simply meant to indicate the ultimate form of weakness, which becomes pure wickedness? Or does Kendrick think so little of human beings that he actually sees this message as timely and profound?

If FEAR is about damnation, then Kendrick is on damnation’s side. If he honestly believes that racism is a cosmic curse from Yahweh that Godless black people have brought upon themselves, then he is truly insane. Kendrick fails to imbue his notion of God with anything substantial. The song, GOD, following this message of damnation, is an airy song that asks and says nothing. It is totally insufficient as a follow-up to such a human-hating idea raised in the preceding voicemail. So what is going on here?

An artist can be defined as a person who suffers multiple voices. Their minds are never settled, and each thought speaks for the synthesis of a dozen ideas, and each synthesis is only a droplet in the pool of potential thousands. There are countless voices that demand expression. It seems, then, that the hateful, angry, doubtful and skeptical voices are what capture our current age. The impulse of the negative has overpowered the impulse of the positive by magnitudes, and for good reason. The world right now is filled with negatives, obviously, but the problem is that positive alternatives are absent. The absence of anything to fight for is the reason for the triumph of negative thinking. The world is always shrouded in darkness, but at least certain peoples and certain times have held hopes of God, or faith, hope, light, and perseverance in the name of a higher cause. The existence of any higher cause is currently absent, or in the worst case, converted into another tormentor, a curser of peoples, a Demiurge.

The final track, DUCKWORTH, is about a miracle. Kendrick Lamar’s entire career exists only because of a miraculous meeting between two men who were each a criminal and a cashier, and who by all laws of matter should have killed one another. But if miracles are mere chance, then Kendrick’s entire artistic output is also in flux, a contortion of fate that had no essential purpose. There was no cosmic difference between orphanage and death or artistic ambition and success. Therefore, it must be a miracle, and not left up to chance, that Kendrick was able to have a career in the arts at all.

The end of the album loops back to its beginning, telling us that Kendrick has been killed, and all the songs we have heard were just phases of a dying leader’s thoughts, or of a hero facing death. His last thoughts were furious, resentful, rebellious, fearful that a traitor lived within his own soul, that the myriad voices of the artistic self would betray them, that pure chance was all that saved his life, that the world is mortally rotten to the core, and that FEAR, LUST, PRIDE, “poison” in his DNA are all more distinctive and powerful than bland and aimless cliches like LOVE.

The album is an exhibition of atrocities, a self contorted against itself, and thus it is a pure representation of the present moment. It is purely descriptive art, describing the state of the self in 2017, at the great crossroads of the decline of Western civilization, where bloodless centrist neo-liberalism and vicious austere pseudo-populism are the two corrupted forces we may choose from. It is damnation, a description, a representation of fact.

But there are two forms of art. Descriptive, and visionary. DAMN is profoundly descriptive, yet its vision of the future is lacking. Kendrick Lamar’s next album must take many years, and it must be visionary. Death and damnation have been given their due. All great artists must provide the hope of what is next, and what will only come into being perhaps fifty or a hundred years in the future. All great artists are able to glimpse into that future, and those glimpses are what motivate us to move forward through shadow.

The world dies and is reborn constantly. Human beings die and are reinvented multiple times over the courses of their lives. Let us accept DAMN as an accurate description of the self against itself, but a shell to be molted and surpassed.