The Perfection of the West
We know now what fully formed, perfectly realized western civilization looks like. We see the realization of the promises of monotheistic religion, professional scholarship and research, law, high art, professional journalism, mass media, popular culture, science, technology, industry and free market commerce. The final destiny of all these cultural treasures is fully on display in the 21st century USA, the America of Bush and Obama, in its acts as a nation: arrogant, brutally violent, contemptuous of law, treacherous, perfidious, fair of speech but foul of act, secret and covert, obsessed with weapons and intimidating force, internally celebrating a gloating dominance of the few super rich over the rest and expressing the same spirit externally by malevolent manipulation of outsiders, with an economy based on war, addictions, and financial industry profiteering on insider technology, insider knowledge, and rigged markets; operator of assassination drones, offshore and secret prisons, torture chambers. Here is the highest creation of human history so far, and surely it represents the ultimate failure of the threads of culture just mentioned.
We know from this outcome that capitalist nation-states and their economies are controlled by crime families, since corporations and nation states such as the USA are blatantly acting out the crime family ethos. Nothing about this is difficult to observe. The most advanced and enlightened nation-states are exact expressions and projections of the forces controlling them, and who those forces are is written plainly in the actions of those nations. Ordinary citizens generally, people nurturing children, are certainly not enthusiastic about war, bullying, selective and arbitrary law enforcement, or casual murder, for example. The disappointing outcome is not a result of abuses of power by isolated rotten apples, by corrupt individuals, nor even a straightforward cabal, but rather it is the consequence of a culture which is broadly and deeply entrenched in the whole human interconnectedness. If cultural communities other than the Euro-American had specialized in harnessing the powers of nature through advancing science, the outcome would have been much the same, since all are similarly devoted to radical inequality, between men and women, for example.
What of Culture has to Go, and What’s Left in Innocence
In the course of the last several posts we have been able to swept away the personal identity definitions derived from culturally poisoned ethnic backgrounds, gender, nationality, personal economic function, competition results, trophies, and height in counterfeit meritocracies. We have swept away the warped ideals of alpha-trophy-looting masculinity, swept away tools of social control consisting of fables of disembodied-super-persons and fictitious personifications of collectives, swept away insignia, logos, mottoes, badges, titles, uniforms, and uniform postures and gestures. (Is this an adventure yet?) We have swept away the fiction that voting every four or five years is enough bottom-up political force to constitute effective sovereign power by the majority of voters. Now, having swept away so much that is sometimes stipulated as necessary for a happy and meaningful life, we are in a position to recognize that there is still lots to work with at a more elemental and pre-cultural (innocent) level of experience. Great swaths of poisoned culture are thus expendable without risking nihilism. We still have a set of features of individual intelligences, for example, including transcendent freedom.
Transcendence and Worship
Worship is not the appropriate response to the actual transcendence of ordinary intelligences. Worship looks like a desperate attempt to manage a powerful narcissist alpha-father transformed into a fable of cosmic force. It is begging for favour and mercy from the angry father figure. Sweep all that away. The appropriate response to the transcendent freedom of personal intelligence is the enjoyment of freedom. The cultural forms of externalized transcendence are forms of idolatry, a worship of fraudulent gods, false gods.
What remains, the elements to recognize and live with, must include the transcendent interiority of individual intelligences, which is beyond the measuring instruments of science. The set that includes that could be called philosophical elements: nature (beautiful to an intelligent beholder, but relentlessly dislocating as determined in a way we might call entropy), embodied intelligences (each with an interiority without appearance), the interconnectedness of intelligences (straightforward communication and artifacts of culture being noticed, interpreted, and imitated), and culture. Nature, culture, and individual intelligences are not pure elements in themselves but more like elemental categories of reality. Each contains complexity.
The Elemental Category: Intelligences
The Interiority of Time
Every individual has direct access to the basic elements of being in a life, such as time as a construct of non-actuality. Both philosophers and scientists are generally unhelpful and even hopeless on the issue of the relentless dislocation that is the experience of nature in time. That applies even to Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), who otherwise made admirable contributions to understanding the interiority of intelligence, for example in his phenomenology of caring in Being and Time (1927), notwithstanding that his focus on monistic Being inclined him toward legitimizing parasitic Nazism.
Elemental Ontology of Time:
The Non-Actuality of The Interiority of Intelligence, basis of Freedom
The idea of the interiority of intelligence is required as a way to recognize some crucial non-actuality in the experience of time. For example, memory of the past is not an actual past (since the past does not actually exist, is categorically excluded from existing by the actuality of the present), but is instead a non-actual past in a bearing or orientation constructed by an intelligence. So, consideration of time in experience requires the idea of non-actuality in memory and in future aspiration. Intelligence is a force that actively adjusts a bearing with a self-constructed and non-actual past, and a future of mutable possibilities and probabilities, all non-actualities, which it is continuously building into a life. Since everything exterior to intelligences is the strictly measurable actuality of nature, the non-actuality in the experience of time requires the idea of an interiority of intelligence outside nature, defined by its non-actuality. (Some would call it idealist non-actuality.) It is the non-actuality of the interiority of intelligence which makes freedom possible and actual.
Plato, Illusion, Time, and Non-Actuality
Plato claimed that time is a realm of illusion (experienced in the futile strivings of appetites and competitive spirit), and the view of elemental innocence being presented here claims that the experience of time requires non-actuality of a kind peculiar to intelligences, so both views connect the experience of time with forms of non-actuality. This is an old philosophical idea. “Illusion” could be a prejudicial way of describing a non-actual construct of intelligence. Plato does not give individual intelligences credit for constructing the illusion, the non-actuality of temporal becoming (credit for constructing it, for example, from a power to escape the brute particularity of nature, to create freedom). Instead, for Plato, the realm of the illusion of becoming is a trap and a prison for intelligences, a trap constructed by a divine intelligence which Plato calls the Demiurge. So for Plato, the non-actuality of time is a trap or test originating from beyond the power of individual intelligences. Contrary to Plato, however, it is the non-actuality of the interiority of intelligence which makes freedom a reality, because it is not imposed on individual intelligences from some exterior power, but instead is constructed internally by every intelligence from a power and an intent to overcome the brute particularity of nature, to transcend nature by creating freedom. It seems that Plato was well aware that time is crucial for intelligence, but he equated the transcendence of intelligence with an escape from time into contemplation of unchanging eternity, that is with an escape from ordinary life. The Christian heaven/ afterlife is like Plato’s high contemplation in being presented as a higher realm of timeless eternity where the human essence is ultimately fulfilled. There certainly was direct influence from Plato to Christianity. However, we now recognize that the transcendence of intelligence is in the ordinary freedom of building a life in time, involving a transcendence that is normally obscured by cultural and political forces.
There is a lot in common between Plato’s conception of the fulfillment of human nature as escape from ordinary life (into a contemplation of unchanging “ideal” eternity) and the obsession of various religions with an imagined afterlife. Both reject ordinary life in the world of time as a lost cause of torment, confusion, and deception. In both cases the best human destiny is to deny life in the world as much as possible and fixate on some other “higher” condition to be achieved by a transitional process such as death, complete loss of self. Historically, Epicureans were the best at embracing the immediacy of living a life. They were in favour of enjoying physical comforts and joys as part of a sustainable and fulfilling life. They found the greatest pleasure in a sort of mindfulness that includes the context and consequences of any immediate action or life situation, and found that individuals make the most of their innate freedom by practicing that mindfulness of the transcendence of freedom. After Epicureanism, modern secularism is the most committed to embracing life in the world of time, and can no longer make much sense of a higher realm of eternity, but modern secularism lost recognition of the transcendence of intelligence, offering nothing better than the disenchantment of “natural selection” as the principle of survival.
To illustrate the enduring influence of Plato’s vision of the interiority of intelligence, it is only necessary to recognize that Freud’s model of the id-ego-superego is a modern recapitulation. Plato’s contemplative rationality, outside time, at the top of the subjectivity pyramid, is replaced in Freud’s version by a psychological internalization of public models of propriety and authority, a considerable reduction of transcendence in the experience of individuals, reflecting the counter-revolutionary Victorian repression that was culturally supreme in Freud’s Europe, but more generally recognizing the heavy influence of ambient culture on every individual. Freud was, in his way, a continental rationalist who constructed a formal system of analysis for the forces of Romantic irrationality in the interiority of intelligences. Freud, a man of science, did not offer an analysis of time.
The Elemental Category: Culture and History
Human being is embodied intelligence, normally conditioned within portions of an elaborate culture constructed through a particular history by a multi-generational interconnectedness of embodied intelligences. Culture has been constructed in history by actions of human groups and individuals in increasingly remote past times. History has to be included as a dimension of culture since particular intelligences within particular geographical circumstances had such a profound force in creating history’s peculiarities, and the history created so haphazardly has profound influence on all newly arriving intelligences. Top-down human-on-human parasitism is elemental in history, although it is accidental, manifesting itself in an extreme and eccentric culture of masculinity provoking gender-culture conflict, social class plate tectonics, and externalized definitions of personal identity to legitimize radical inequality. Violence against women is normally an expression of top-down human-on-human parasitism of a most blatant kind. The culture of top-down human-on-human parasitism has exerted heroic efforts to perpetuate itself through creating a cultural appearance of legitimacy, a legitimizing explanation of itself. The elemental category of culture is consequently tainted, including a whole nexus of distortions of reality which connect to form a zombie reality and individual zombie shells through which people project a distorted representation of their intelligence. (Please review the legacies itemized in posting 57, March 21, 2013, Cartesian First Philosophy and The Elemental Hazmat Suit, and the distortions of reality itemized in posting 58, April 4, 2013, Living in Zombie-Land.)
The interior self is being-as-intelligence, being-as-freedom, constructing a life in the nature of time. That interiority, in a condition of self-possession, is an effective hazmat suit for venturing out safely into the poisoned culture that plagues the human interconnectedness. The hazmat suit is inherent happiness from experience of the freedom of intelligences, or you could say the transcendence of intelligences, since transcendence and freedom are not separate. There is a certain happiness that comes of being in a world in which transcendence is experienced immediately at close hand, in the miracle of the non-actuality in time. The force of intelligences is such that the fabric of human being is not pre-determined as nature is. It can be re-created to express ever more of the transcendent freedom of intelligences. This is one way in which it becomes possible to think that war, slavery, and human-on-human parasitism in all its forms can be ended.
Some knowledge is necessary for the elemental hazmat suit. Historical knowledge of the arc of human parasitism is a good example. So the innocence of pre-linguistic experiences of re-orienting to philosophical elements has to be combined with some knowledge of history. Also crucial is a new approach to engaging with human-to-human interconnectedness, based on both empathy and knowledge of the poisoned culture.
Elemental orientation is political, partly because recognizing top-down parasitism, the root source of profound cultural distortions of reality, is always discouraged by agents and symbols of social, economic, and political hierarchy; and partly because elemental thinking transcends whatever identity, status, or social position has been assigned to you by an ambient culture riddled with (falsely) legitimized top-down parasitism. The political reason that individual freedom matters is that it includes freedom to live and think elementally. You are inherently free to re-make your self-definition and your relationships without practicing or excusing parasitism, to sweep away the great swaths of poisoned culture listed at the beginning of this posting. You are also free to recognize parasitism even in its legitimized and institutionalized forms. A sense of adventure comes with leaving behind the assumptions of resigned ordinariness crafted to suit the current regime of parasite culture. That sense of ordinariness inevitably sucks the wonder and joy from the human condition. There is a mystery to personal transcendence, a happiness, that is obscured by the ordinariness of life in zombie culture.
The Elemental Category: Nature
The existence of nature does not prove or require the existence of gods or a god. All that can be said about the cosmos as a whole, other than strictly scientific measurements, is something like this: Inexplicably, there is something instead of nothing, and it seems that the various features and complexities of that something constitute a single whole in some sense. The anomalous feature is a discontinuity between the wholeness of beautiful but unintelligent nature, brute, predetermined actuality, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the interiority of intelligences, each its own universe of non-actuality outside nature. In spite of that radical discontinuity, it is undeniable that actuality and those multitudes of non-actualities are profoundly entangled through the embodiment of intelligences. The non-actuality of intelligences is routinely projected onto the shapes of actuality, and brute actuality contains materials that unreliably sustain and restrict the intelligences, who are otherwise discontinuous interior universes.
Elemental embodiment is brought into focus easily from experiences of work, as explored in the four postings focused on working.
Posting 11, November 10, 2011, Nature: Ground and Sky
Posting 33, June 14, 2012 Reality is Three Givens: Nature, Subjective Intelligences, and Culture
Posting 45, November 21, 2012, Working
Posting 10, November 8, 2011, Employment as a Force-Field of Distorted Reality
Keep in mind that the zombie world does not want to be changed, is insulted by the very idea, and takes offence at any suggestion that reality is different from what is commonly believed. From within the zombie shells of culture-assigned identities, a comfort zone of thinking within a specific political correctness, it is very difficult to recognize the simple realities identified here, including the lack of sovereignty achieved by elections of party-offered candidates every four or five years and that the resulting vacuum of sovereignty is filled by a shifting confederacy of capitalist crime families expressing a value system of parasitic brutality. The brutal tools and forces of supra-personal sovereignty are all at the command of that semi-covert plutocracy of war-profiteers, so resisting must be done strategically. In any case, think this through for the wonder of elemental intelligence.
Copyright © 2013 Sandy MacDonald. The moral right of the author is asserted.