It’s amazing how quickly liberals – and especially Social Justice Warriors – descend into rage, into foaming at the mouth, screaming, insults, violence – whenever they suffer the least jot of cognitive dissonance at the hands of a based Reactionary interlocutor. How come?
I conclude that it has two ultimate causes. One is well known: The leftist doctrine that men victimize women, whites victimize nonwhites, normal people victimize sexual deviants, and so on.
But this doctrine has been around for decades, if not centuries. It wasn’t enough to create the “safe space” phenomenon until a few years ago. (Although we can identify a precursor in the various “ethnic studies” programs created starting in the 1960s whose main purpose was to give academically-weak nonwhites a semi-academic field in which they could excel.) Continue reading
Guillaume Faye’s Understanding Islam (Arktos 2016) will exercise a compelling power over many readers who, committing themselves to encompassing it, will plough through its nearly three hundred pages in a single sitting. Immensely insightful and quotable, Faye’s book will inform public debate about the place of Islam, if any, in the West, and it will influence the character of Western policy towards the Muslim world; other writers will cite it, and it bids fair to become a standard guide and reference for its topic. Understanding Islam ought to be made mandatory reading for State Department functionaries under the incoming Donald Trump administration – so effective is Faye’s prose in bulldozing through the utopian fantasies and politically correct clichés that encrust Western perception and comprehension of the Mohammedan cult. Best of all would be that Mr. Trump familiarized himself with Faye’s exposition, so as to clarify his good instincts and resolve him to swift action in defense of the North American chapter Western civilization, as he assumes his presidential obligations. But that would undoubtedly be asking for too much. In addition to explaining the desert cult in plain language to his readers, Faye relentlessly exposes Western liberal and multicultural collaboration with Islam, in both the ideological and practical-political domains. Finally, Understanding Islam realistically assesses the strengths and weaknesses of both the West and Dar al Islam in the present state of their fateful clash.
Faye takes as an important recurrent theme in his suite of chapters (six of them – plus a “conclusion”) what one might call the phenomenology of Islam; or, as best it can be reconstructed, Islam as understood from the inside out or from the believer’s point of view. From among the ways in which Islam so strongly differs from most if not all other religions, Faye singles out its relentless suppression of subjectivity hence also individuality and therefore any possibility of comprehending anything outside itself. Faye brings to bear on Islam the description of a “locked religion” rooted in the believer’s ceaseless incantatory repetition of scriptural formulas whose guiding rule prohibits their interpretation. Repeat, repeat – only repeat. Because Islam emerged in the cultural matrix of a largely oral society, that of the desert-wandering Bedouin of the Arabian Peninsula, its scriptural status requires qualification. The Muslim has historically and typically encountered the Koran – the supposed revelation of Allah to Mohammed via the medium of the Archangel Gabriel – in the form of recitation, which he then laboriously memorizes. In certain cases, outside the domain of the Arabic language, the Muslim never even understands the verses that he commits to heart, phoneme by phoneme, but learns of their content through instruction in a local vulgate. Although the literacy of the Muslim world has increased through the centuries, the habit and mentality of oral transmission by rote and repetition still inform the mental cast of that world. This fact has important phenomenological consequences.
Chaos, as Hesiod puts it, “was the first thing that came to be.” In a three-generation struggle, Zeus at last succeeded in imposing civilized order on the chaotic substrate of the cosmos. Chaos, for Hesiod, might be first, but order is last; and order is infinitely preferable to Chaos. In Hesiod’s story, after Zeus settles matters with the violent Titans (the Jotuns of Scandinavian myth), he must face one more challenge in the arousal of Typhon or Python, the Chaos-Monster. In Hesiod’s vision of things, Chaos always lies in wait to erupt on order and subvert it. Order is a struggle. Chaos is the lapse back into what is easiest and most primitive. So too in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the Several States of America, order is a latter imposition on Chaos, but Chaos lurks in its lair, ready to squirm out again and mess up the just apportionment of the civilized dispensation. Thus, as the Drudge Report rehearses, “Agitators Plot Inauguration Chaos.” What else would they plot? After all, their motto is, “It is forbidden to forbid.” That is to say, order is forbidden; Chaos is mandated – and the Law is the enemy of the crowd. Drudge quotes a Daily Caller story as follows: “On the day of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration protesters are planning an anti-capitalist march, road blockades and disruptions to inauguration balls…
As the Left’s second reality collapses, the Lefties still believe that they can dig themselves out of the sinkhole of their abysmal expectations. The Left being a purely collectivist entity, it responds to every crisis, as to this crisis, by amassing itself in crowds. As Gustave Le Bon remarked in his study of The Crowd (1895), crowd-behavior is de-individuated, non-conscientious, and essentially religious or sacrificial. An individual who might, left to his own soul-searching, renounce such things as morality-renunciation and participating in hatred-inducing activities, will find relief from his qualms in the degree to which he congregates with others, whose collective massiveness assuages his guilt-pangs. Once a nucleus of moral self-betrayers has gathered in close proximity, conscientiousness, which is individual, no longer impedes the impulse to action. Guilt is distributed. The subject, forfeiting his subjectivity, may do as he wills, however basely he wills, without the smart of any remorse. The religiosity of the crowd is primitive religiosity, of course. It wants to feel Karl Marx’s revolutionary Blutrausch in the spectacle of immolation, even if external social strictures prevent the immolation from being real but rather confine it to being only symbolic. (Policemen murdered in ambushes are actual victims; men of European ancestry pilloried by female multiculturalists at “White Privilege” seminars are symbolic victims, who are permitted walk away with their humiliated lives.)
The Left believes itself to be historically inevitable. The Left vehemently execrates anyone who denies its fundamental premise that it is historically inevitable. To the Left, people who think otherwise than that the Left is historically inevitable are not thinking at all: Such people are ignorant, boorish, and very likely incapable of thinking – or, as the Left has long called it, “critical thinking.” (I note in passing that the phrase “critical thinking,” like the phrase “social justice,” conforms to the Leftist linguistic pattern of taking an ordinary and perfectly well-understood noun and obliterating its standard meaning by the prefixation to it of a modifier which is actually a negation.) Leftist “critical thinking” forecast the outcome of the 2016 presidential election many months in advance. The election would go “inevitably” to That Woman. The fix was in and the fix was cosmic or perhaps ontological. Nothing could un-fix it, right? However, the “inevitable” outcome failed to manifest itself. For the Left, this constituted a cognitive, but more importantly an emotional, catastrophe, the equivalent of Krakatoa suddenly erupting in San Francisco Bay and spoiling everyone’s fun at the Gay Pride Parade. The Left has always lived in a second reality, but now events had shaken that second reality to its phantasmal foundation, and the whole illusory structure began to collapse.
This morning a friend sent me this photograph of a bathing beauty contest that was held on Coney Island in 1923. He commented: “Seems almost innocent.” I responded: “Almost innocent, not quite.” Continue reading
In a little over a month, I am told by this morning’s newspaper, the university will host a performance called “Considering Matthew Shepard,” which it describes as a “musical response to the tragic death of a young man” interspersed with “the thoughts of poets and selections from Shepard’s journal and his parent’s writing.” The newspaper reminds those who may have forgotten that Shepard was, nearly twenty years ago, “beaten, tortured and tied to a fence,” that he died of his injuries six days later, and that he suffered this gruesome fate “because of his sexual orientation.” The advertised event will memorialize this brutal homicide in a “truly heartfelt story” that combines “incredible voices” and a “very important message” in an “an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience.” Continue reading
Part I: Coleridge’s Theory of the Imagination. Poetry is, of itself, often a theory of poetry. Consider, under this thesis, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan or: A Vision in a Dream” (1816). In the opening lines, Coleridge plays with the etymological definition of poetry as making. The Khan decrees that the pleasure-dome should rise whereupon his servants presumably conjure it forth:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
The decree itself already functions as a kind of making or articulation; it is imperious, magical, even a bit demonic or demiurgic. The calling-forth of the artificial paradise entails, moreover, the transformation of nature through her re-creation under an idea: Thus the girdling walls enclose the “twice five miles of fertile ground” in a gesture of delimitation. That the ground is “fertile,” as Coleridge (1772 – 1834) writes, suggests that the labor of elevating structures on it has a generative relation to the fecund matter on which the labor operates; the two elements of the event have an a priori and complementary relation to one another. The matter has no features in the description, but presents only a blank aspect, like a mass of clay unformed; even the “gardens bright and sinuous rills,” seemingly natural, result artificially from the determination of a shaping will. The act itself and that which is acted upon thus match one another, forming dual aspects of a concluded whole in which pregnant formlessness has acquired a pleasing form, as in the endeavor of the Demiurge in Plato’s Timaeus.
More or less like this; like these months we now are living, perhaps – if we are fortunate, and steadfast.