Saturday, 28 March 2015

Placeholder post - end of the seven year cycle


Yesterday, I quite suddenly realized, recognized, that I had (as of last summer) reached the end of one of my seven year cycles of primary interest and activity.

This cycle has been about intelligence, personality and genius and was triggered by reading A Farewell to Alms by Gregory Clark at the end of 2006 - but it took another year before the effects were felt, and it was 2008 before the tipping point came. That was also the time when I (covertly) became a Christian.

The previous cycle was from about 2001-2008 and focused on systems theory, public policy, and New Agey spirituality.

Before that was evolutionary psychology and psychiatry beginning in May of 1994 (triggered by reading an interview with Margie Profet in Omni magazine, then Matt Ridley's Red Queen), and before that was an eclectic mixture of all-sorts of stuff including epidemiology - as I was floundering-around and trying to find my destiny.

Anyway, what this means to the blog is uncertain - because I have not yet found-out what it is I am supposed to be doing from here.

I will not stop doing what I did before (just as I never stopped doing epidemiology, psychiatry, Ev. Psychol. and the rest of it). But I need to find-out 'the next big thing' - and this is a process of discovery, not invention.



Thursday, 26 March 2015

Flann O'Brien - a perspective

Flann O'Brien is the best known pseudonym of Brian O'Nolan (1911-1966) - who also wrote outstanding comic journalism under the Irish name of Myles na gCopaleen.

O'Brien's output of worthwhile work is very slim, but the best is of the first rank:


At Swim-Two-Birds - a novel, published 1939. Utterly unique - dazzlingly brilliant in parts but wholly unsuccessful (excruciatingly dull) in others; it was a critical success (well reviewed) but sold less than 300 copies.

The Third Policeman - a novel written after ASTB in the early 1940s but rejected, and only eventually published posthumously in 1968. It is an unqualified masterpiece.

The Best of Myles - A collection of journalism published by Picador in 1975. The later Myles na gCopaleen collections are greatly inferior.


O'Brien became an alcoholic - drunk from mid morning every day - from the late 1940s, and none of his later work is worth bothering with. But the above are irreplaceable.

At Swim-Two-Birds has some of the funniest passages I have ever encountered - if you respond to the peculiar drollery of O'Brien's language. In that sense, it is the same order of humour as PG Wodehouse (although utterly different in flavour) - everything comes from the exact use of words, and the 'timing' of the passages.

Having said how much I love this - I would find it unsurprising when other people do not like it. You need to be on the same wavelength - to 'tune in'. It is possible that the reader needs some prior familiarity with Irish dialect and national character - but since I had these, I cannot really judge.

However, the novel was 'experimental' and was in fact a collage of various utterly different books and drafts written by O'Brien (including an MA thesis), including chunks of translated Irish legend (by O'Brien and a friend), letters, and other 'found' material. Some of the seemingly endless passages about Sweeney and The Pooka are best skipped. But the bulk of it is so good that I forgive all.

The Third Policeman is very different in flavour - a nightmarish fantasy/ allegory but with some extremely humorous aspects (particularly the footnotes about the 'savant' De Selby). The whole book is astonishingly perfect.

The Best of Myles is fragmentary journalism; but has a lot of highly original, wonderful, surreal stuff in it. I particularly enjoyed the Keats and Chapman parts.


O Brien's life makes for depressing reading. He did all his good stuff before his early thirties, but was given little or no credit for it (with his greatest achievement completely unknown). The accounts of his morose, irritable helpless alcoholism are horrible - despite that Dubliners romanticise intoxication and have made the later O'Brien into 'a character'.

Compared with other first rate Irish writers, O'Brien is much more natively Irish. Almost all of the (many) top ranking Irish writers were Protestant British (e.g. Spenser, Swift, Sheridan, Goldsmith, Shaw, Wilde, Yeats etc.) - probably only Joyce and O'Brien at this level could be considered indigenous (both were raised Roman Catholic - Joyce lapsed but O'Brien remained devout).

Anyway.... if you don't already know O'Brien's work, I would recommend the best as worthy to stand at the highest level in the relevant genres.

If in doubt, start with The Third Policeman.


Misconceptions about 'British Weather'

Foreigners, especially Americans, have some pretty strange misconceptions about how 'bad' British weather is.

In fact, as the ancient authors often used to state in early accounts of the British mainland, it is easier to argue that Britain has just about the best weather in the world.


Nonetheless, those who say the British weather is terrible are presumably responding to something.

1. I will define Britain for these purposes as the area bounded by London, Bristol, Glasgow and Edinburgh - since this contains a very high proportion of the population, and visitors seldom venture much beyond it.

2. Within this quadrilateral-ish zone, the weather is strikingly variable - notably there is a lot more rain in the west - about twice as much, such that a 'normal' day in Glasgow is rainy. Having lived there more than three years, I know from experience that this much rain does limit what you can do and how things look, especially as a tourist. But that is the extreme, the bulk of Britain to the South and East of Glasgow does not get anything like so much rain.

3. The British climate is more temperate, less extreme than just about anywhere.

Masses of people (I mean dozens, hundreds - never thousands) are only very rarely killed by the weather - by floods, storms, avalanches (!), heat etc - in the way that they are in North America and Europe - and even one single individual killed by the weather is rare and makes national news.

4. What is bad about the British weather is unpredictability, on a day by day - even hour by hour- basis. It is seldom you can be sure it will not rain on a given day; on the other hand it is seldom that the weather stays bad for long and there is always hope of imminent improvement.

(We do get - every few years - dry sunny midsummer and/ or icy-cold midwinter periods lasting multiple weeks - when there is settled High Pressure over the islands, and the weather stays the same day after day. People naturally remember these extreme stable periods, but they are uncharacteristic.)

5. My theory about 'bad' British weather is that people are responding to high latitudes - Britain is at a very high latitude compared with most populous countries; this means that day lengths are extreme (long days in summer, short days in winter), causing a considerable stress of the hormonal and neurotransmitter systems.

Those foreigners who spend the winter here are likely to experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) of some degree of severity - lethargy,somnolence, irritability, asociability, carbohydrate craving and weight gain...


My hunch is that the bad reputation of British weather comes from extreme latitude rather than the actual weather.

Unless, that is, the disaffected foreigners who spread the bad 'rep' we have for weather had lived in the British rain-capitals of Glasgow or Manchester - in which case their bleak impressions were probably justified by experience. 


(Note: The good news is that SAD is completely treatable nowadays, by the use of artificial bright early morning light. Which I suppose makes Britain paradise - as I look out at the cold rain lashing the windows... But yesterday was sunny and last week was warm - so I console myself that the weather will soon change. )

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

I do not want more geniuses


Late thoughts of William Arkle


My conversion story starting from synchronicity - in a nutshell, and with a philosophical perspective


One interesting aspect of synchronicity is that it is individually focused - when experienced, the coincidence was focused on me specifically.

And when the coincidence is 'meaningful' (as the usual definition of synchronicity implies) - then it implies something for me specifically.

If so, then the experience of synchronicity implies some generally-operative power which has some kind of specific interest or concern with me specifically.


It was this line of reasoning which led me from a New Agey belief in the importance of synchronicity, to the inference that - if real - it implied (entailed) a personal god having a personal relationship with me specifically (not an abstract god-of-the-philosophers).

From there, and the fact I am not a Jew, pure reasoning pointed to 'some kind of Christianity' as having a clear reason for god's concern with me specifically. That reason is god's love for me specifically.

(Pure monotheism lacks any reason why an 'omni god' who created everything from nothing should be concerned with individual humans.)


Having arrived at the assumption of a real, 'personal God', what kind of Christian should I be?

That took a while to sort-out; but in retrospect I can see that there was a strongly philosophical process of evaluation going-on.

I explored the major classical theologies: Aristotelian Christianity (Thomism) and Platonic Christianity (Orthodoxy) - but always there were serious nagging doubts about their ability to explain the most important aspects of Christianity - and the sense that Christianity was being fitted-around these (pre-existing) philosophies; to the detriment of Christianity.

My stable conviction for the past two and some years has been that the most philosophically-solid and coherent branch of Christianity - the one which most clearly and simply and un-evasively explains the most important aspects of Christianity that seem to need explaining - is Mormonism.


(The key trigger, the clarifying experience, was reading and understanding Sterling M McMurrin's Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion - written by an ex-Mormon (or non-believing Mormon) philosopher who treats the religion comparatively and abstractly.)


Most people would regard it as bizarre to assert that Mormonism (of all things!) is the most philosophically coherent explanation of Christianity - especially when compared with the long and professionalized scholastic tradition, or any other theology devised by generations of full-time professional priests and professors.

But the reason I find Mormon theology philosophically convincing (miraculously so) is exactly that it does not require high-level abstraction and educated skills to explain those things that most need explaining.

As an intellectual system, Mormon theology displays the kind of stunning focus, simplicity and clarity which is characteristic of the most important breakthroughs in science.

As a lifelong lover of science, a professional science theorist and theorist of science, and ex-editor of a theoretical of a journal of theoretical bioscience; no wonder I love it so much!


Of course, this above account is excessively abstract and leaves out far more than it includes - but a grasp of the unique philosophical solidity of Mormonism (among Christian theologies) was, and remains, of great importance and significance to me.




Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Does life (as a whole) make sense?

This is perhaps The Big Question.

Secular modernity, public discourse, has it that life as a whole does not make sense, does not need to make sense - and that the idea that life makes sense is wishful thinking or a primitive and childish delusion.

Modernity thinks it knows that life does not make sense; modernity thinks that 'science has proven' that life does not make sense.


If secular modernity is wrong, and life really does make sense, then claiming it does not make sense would be expected to lead to all kinds of harm.

But if life really does not make any sense - but just happens to be the way it is for no reason or purpose - then it does not matter what we think about it; indeed nothing at all 'matters' in any significant sense; everything is merely a matter of 'stuff happen' (or doesn't happen).


That life as a whole makes sense (in some way, at some level, even if that sense is utterly unknown) is perhaps the most basic religious attitude; perhaps something common to all religions that ever have been.

We are all born and experience early childhood believing, or rather simply assuming, that live makes sense; some people abandon this in later life.

This is something each person is responsible for answering for himself: the decision is one loaded with significance.


Christians before Christ?

One distinctive feature of Mormons is the belief that there were Christians before the incarnation of Christ - this is documented (in two different groups) in the Americas in the Book of Mormon.

These were Christians who knew by personal revelation and prophecy that a savour and redeemer, Christ, would come - and that his atonement would potentially cover everybody - before, during and after His incarnation - and who therefore practised a Christ-centred religion even before Jesus was born or resurrected.

I believe in the truth of the BoM; but even for a Christian who did not, there is a real possibility that what it describes specifically may have happened in one or more places.


How might Christians have existed before Christ?

My hunch is that a Saviour is something that would make sense only to those who were, in some sense, monotheists - those who believed in One God.

(Not necessarily a belief in a one-and-only God but a supreme, authoritative and ruling personal God who had a care for Men - individually and collectively.)

It is not that a Saviour is unnecessary in a polytheistic system, but rather that there is (apparently) a considerable muddle and imprecision about polytheism, such that its philosophical implications(including deficiencies) are unclear, and undiscussed.


How might Christians before Christ know about Christ?  Here are three possible lines of evidence.

1. Revelation - personal revelations to individuals, and to acknowledged prophets, may have been made by God to communicate the need for a Saviour, and the promise of a Saviour.

(God might make such revelations open to all Men and all societies; but they may not be looked for, or may be ignored or rejected.)

2. Reason may have worked-out the need for a Saviour; individuals may have understood that pure monotheism was philosophically-inadequate (even in principle) to provide and account for the combination of factors which characterised the human condition in relation to the divine.

(This argument is based on the fact that Christianity offers, or promises, more than any other religion - as was recognized by Blaise Pascal; in other words, other religions have more gaps and deficiencies.)

3. Psychology - people may have felt the need for a Saviour; may have recognized that they could not save themselves, and that for them to be saved required some kind of mediator between God the Father and man.

And they may have felt that because they personally needed a Saviour, then a loving God of power would 'provide' a Saviour.

(This is another place where it seems that monotheism is required to understand the necessity of Christ - those who believe in a polytheistic pantheon do not regard them as responsive to human needs.)


So, it is possible that early men may, for a variety of reasons, have concluded that Man required a Saviour; and that what Man needed God would somehow give.

Also that because a Saviour is once-and-for-all, it did not much matter whether He had not yet come: life should still be lived with that awareness.

And so some early men may have practised de facto Christianity.



My favourite is the Neolithic inhabitants of England who built the Avebury, Silbury, Stonehenge and the other linked outdoor temples, stone monuments, pathways and spaces across southern England.

I like to speculate, to imagine, that these people were monotheists - with their supreme sky God-the-Father associated with the sun - and that they were awaiting some intermediary Saviour who was Son to the Father God.

This is compatible with what little is known of these societies; but there is no positive evidence that I know of - indeed I do not know what might count as positive evidence of a proto-Christian religion among the kind of things that survive to be noted by archaeologists.

Only if some kind of writing is found from this era, and is deciphered, could we perhaps really know. But if archaeologists aren't even looking for proto-Christianity or rule-it-out a priori (because, as typical secular modern people, the idea strikes them as absurd) then of course they never will find it.


Monday, 23 March 2015

A perfect storm of self-amplifying geniuses in 18th century England


Why some ultra-Left people become self-identified (Liberal) Christians - a safe haven from nasty macho men

The fact that many self-identified Christians, especially in the largest denominations, are extremely Leftist/ Liberal/ Politically Correct is very obvious - the current and previous Archbishops of Canterbury being prime examples.

Such 'Christian'-Leftists seem to be as convinced of the Leftism as anybody; they talk of it all the time, indeed compulsively - and their Christianity (however overt) is continually being adjusted and re-adjusted to fit around the changing needs of their primary political beliefs.


What puzzled me, until yesterday, is why such people bother to remain 'Christian' - even if it is little more than a matter of self-naming? In a world where when the mainstream of public discourse is secular Leftism - why do they insist on regarding themselves as Christian, advertising themselves as Christian; thereby alienating a sizeable chunk of the mass of Leftists?

Until yesterday my only explanation was a combination of careerism and fifth column subversion. For example, a middle managerial mediocrity like Justin Welby could never in a thousand years aspire to a position of such high status, privilege, fame and administrative authority as Archbishop of Canterbury - except in the corrupt and cowardly world of the Church of England bureaucracy. So as a career move, the Church makes sense for some people.

Once in position, many senior clergy devote their best energies into subverting real Christianity from the inside; leading their flocks, by incremental degrees, into the apostasy of evaluating Christianity by what they regard as the primary realities of secular public discourse (most notably in the realm of conforming 'Christianity' to whatever happen to be the currently fashionable imperatives of the sexual revolution).


But while both careerism and insider subversion are realities, they did not seem to explain the presence of so many low-level and passive ultra-Leftist individuals among the clergy and laity of Liberal churches.

The most likely reason dawned on me yesterday - when I found myself listening to a few excerpts from some conversations on the subject of spirituality and religion (including Christianity) between Rupert Sheldrake and a journalist called Mark Vernon.

(I would not recommend listening to these conversations, by the way.)

By his account, it seems Dr Vernon was ordained a Church of England priest - then left the CoE because it was Insufficiently Left Wing (especially concerning the agenda of the sexual revolution) - spent some time as an atheist - then re-identified himself as Liberal Christian (i.e an 'agnostic') who regularly - he said twice a week - attends services in what are (obviously) Liberal 'Christian' churches (plus, apparently, some kind of Buddhist practice as well).


So why did Dr Vernon stop being an atheist? The answer is that he discovered by experience that atheists are Insufficiently Left Wing - in other words atheists are 'intolerant'.

The situation is that MV ceased to regard himself as a Christian because it wasn't Left Wing enough, and subsequently came to regard himself as again a Christian for the same reason!


And so here we have the psychological mechanism which makes Liberal Christianity the ideology of choice for some of those who are most deeply, most viscerally Left Wing.

A Liberal Christian denomination like the CoE, Methodism, Church of Scotland or Wales, or The Episcopal Church in the USA is the best haven for those who most deeply value the 'softer' more 'feminine' Leftist values of tolerance, diversity, equality, human rights and the Undeveloped World (Fair Trade, Aid and all that).

For such people mainstream secular Leftism is too Right Wing in style; too dominated by rather alarmingly loud, brutal, tough and masculine values - as typified by such tub-thumping fundamentalist ultra-skeptics as Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchins.

Liberal Christianity is thus an asylum for nice women and epicene men of ultra-Leftist persuasion who want a safe refuge from nasty atheist macho men.


(This also explains succinctly why there are zero conservative evangelic Bishops in the CoE; despite that this is the only successful, thriving, growing, money-making branch of the church.)


Where do we go in our dreams, and why?

From what I have read of anthropology, tribal people (hunter gatherers especially) seem to believe that when you dream of a place, you go to that place - or your spirit does. This belief seems very sensible, and - with a few qualifications - probably more true than not.

My general perspective on dreams is that they are very important, but remembering dreams is not very important - they do their necessary work at an unconscious or subliminal level. The few and infrequent dream fragments we recall on waking can therefore be misleading. However, they are all the evidence we have.


I have certain places where I go in my dreams - and each tends to have a fairly typical mood or type of event associated with it.

Firstly, none of these places much resemble the 'real' places. So, when I dream of Durham Castle (which is a university college where I lived for a year) it has negligible physical resemblance to the actual castle - it is some kind of essence I dream about. The Durham dreams are always enjoyable and somewhat inspiring - which is my attitude to the place itself.

When I dream about Newcastle upon Tyne (where I live), I am often discovering some new and wonderful place or building that I 'never noticed before' - although last night I had the opposite kind of surprise, that the West End of the city (a street I lived while a student) had become a site of social collapse and violent strife.

(But, to be fair, that was one of those maddening dreams when, for some reason, I lacked shoes and socks - and pretty much anywhere is threatening in those circumstances.)  

I quite often dream negatively about Glasgow, dreams with a sense of oppression and meaninglessness - which are a fairly accurate encapsulation of my state of mind during the time I lived there.

(Glasgow was certainly bad for me; but probably for reasons having little to do with the place or people; and mostly to do with my own wrong attitudes, beliefs, weaknesses, and basic unmarried and living alone situation.)

In contrast, I have recurrent delightful dreams about Oxford - which is a city where I have spent many weeks over the decades. Although I love being in the places, walking around, visiting bits and pieces; in real life, I regard Oxford university as mostly a corrupt, dishonest, mediocre and not just useless but actively-very-harmful institution - however, in these dreams it is a kind of paradise of true scholarship and religion (as indeed it has been, through much of its history).


Most of my dreams that I recall are simply those dreams at the end of the night's sleep, from which I am pleased to wake - cyclical and irritating dreams, seedy and violent dreams, dreams of oppression and dementia (the way in which life, especially memory and understanding, keeps slipping away from me in dreams seems like a taste of dementia).

I assume that the purpose of these dreams is vicarious experience of temptation, pain, fear, cowardice, hatred and other types of evil, so that I know these states not just theoretically. And this, although horrible to go through, I presume is one of the potential benefits of a prolonged mortal life. After all, CS Lewis had terrible nightmares all his life, and I infer that much of his vivid writing on evil was a direct consequence of these dream-experiences.


But do I go to these places? Is my body, lying there in bed, one from which the spirit has departed to another place? Am I away voyaging, and often suffering?

Well, yes to all of these; somehow, in some sense.

Therefore, sleep is not a waste of time!

Sleep is not an avoidance of experience but a form of travel, and a valuable balance to waking experience. Not something to be minimised or to be ashamed-of.

Sleep is a biological necessity, a psychological benefit - and probably has great religious significance as well.


Sunday, 22 March 2015

How much theosis, spiritual progress, are we 'supposed' to make through mortal life?

The gulf between how-we-actually-are and what-we-know-we-should-be is vast - but the response to this fact has been very varied.

Clearly, most people accomplish very little in terms of perfecting themselves throughout mortal life (and the great majority of humans who ever lived rapidly died in the womb soon after conception, or shortly afterwards as young children).


If Men are to bridge the gap between actuality and perfection, it needs something else; such as multiple accumulative lives (i.e some kind of reincarnation), a once-for-all infusion of divine help during or just after mortal life and before resurrection, or (as I believe) continued spiritual progression after resurrection and through eternity.


Mortal life has considerable scope for spiritual progression, but lives differ hugely in terms of length and experiences; so if mortal life has an important role to play then it seems to suggest that there must be some kind of matching process by which a specific soul is placed in a specific situation where he or she is best able to have the necessary experience, and has the chance to make the necessary choices.

In other words, the implication is that this life you have, or I have, is in broad terms the life our souls needed in order to learn some particular thing (or things) of great importance.


This is not the only, nor is it the primary, benefit of being born into a mortal body and dying - the primary benefit - the main instrument of spiritual progression - comes from simply that: incarnation and death.

But the fact that some people (like ourselves) have a long life also has a meaning, albeit a secondary meaning - it may suggest that we have something important to learn (that we had something we specifically needed to learn, some aspect in which our pre-mortal souls were deficient) - so that long life was not our reward, but merely a functional necessity (or at least a potential benefit) for our particular souls.

(This also implies that many of those men and women who died in the womb or as babies really are better - fundamentally - than those who survive. Of course, some of these were not intended to die and their lives were cut-short; but almost certainly some were intended to die soon after incarnation - because their souls were sufficiently perfect that they did not need to undergo the spiritual trials and risks of extended mortal life.)

If we long-lived have failed to learn the specific lesson/s of mortal life - what then?

Some would say we reincarnate and try again; but Christian revelation seems to regard reincarnation as very exceptional, and not done for this kind of reason.

Therefore, I suspect that if we mess-up our chance to fix the deficit in our souls during mortal life, it means that we are placed in (i.e. we are suitable for) a lower level of Heaven - which means that our spiritual progression is slowed-up considerably.

Slowed-up, and perhaps slowed up for large periods of time which must be lived-through; but progression is presumably not thwarted forever.

Since our loving Father made creation for our spiritual progression, and since we personally chose to undergo mortality (we could have remained unincarnated spirits, and stayed in Heaven); and since there is eternity for the purpose; it seems reasonable to assume that mortal life is divided into two benefits: qualitative and quantitative:


The qualitative benefit of mortal life - which all receive (except those who specifically choose to reject it - God does not force benefits upon us, He does not want to and indeed He cannot) is the incarnation into a body and death of that body then its resurrection - a process which all Men undergo.

This moves us to a higher level of spiritual being - when incarnated we have become higher beings, more divine than our pre-mortal selves, more perfect, closer to God-nature. 


The quantitative benefit of mortal life is the chance to fix particular spiritual problems by our choices and endeavor through mortal life.

If this goes well, if we make the right choices and proper efforts, then after resurrection we will find ourselves better (significantly more 'perfect') people than if we make wrong choices and have led wrongly-directed lives.

Better lives lead to acceleration to a higher Heaven, better able to participate more fully in the eternal divine work of love and creation.


Worse lives presumably lead to a minimal salvation in one of the lower mansions of Heaven, in which (compared with our pre-mortal selves) we have become 'lower forms of higher beings': higher beings because now we have bodies (are incarnate), but at a lower spiritual level than we started out because of our misdirected mortal lives.

Of course we might choose to stay that way (such Heaven is, after all, bliss compared with mortal life; which is one reason we chose to take the risk of undergoing mortality) - but over eternity most will repent the bad choices of mortality and want to progress.

It seems natural to assume that our loving Father would not thwart any desire for post-mortal spiritual progression. So, unless post-mortal spiritual progression is for some reason utterly impossible, I think we must also assume that spiritual progression in the post-mortal life must be a slower and more difficult thing than during mortal life - otherwise, why would we bother to experience prolonged mortal lives? Why would we not not just incarnate and die straightway, and thereby avoid the potential for choosing damnation?


The lesson for the longaevous Men, for you and I, is that we are here, here-and-now, for a reason or for several reasons; and that our main job is to to try and make the best choices and try to live with the best motives starting from exactly this situation.

A long mortal life is not a reward, but a task; so long as we remain alive, our task remains undone, incomplete, significant soul-problems still need to be fixed.

We (you and me, nobody else) have this responsibility (although there is much help for us, if we ask for it). There is no cop-out; and our decisions will necessarily have very significant and lasting consequences - we will have to live with the consequences of our decisions.


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Reverse socialism - the modern poor 'exploit' the rich (biologically)

It is a striking fact, which took many years to creep-up on my awareness, that socialism/leftism is wrong about almost everything.

I can still recall the bombshell effect it had on me when Gregory Clark remarked in a conversation that the industrial revolution had been a much greater advantage for the poor than for the rich. Exactly the opposite of what I had been taught, and what every reformer and philanthropist has believed to be the case since the mid 1800s.

In the modern world, biologically speaking, the poorest have the greatest reproductive success; and in economic terms, the trend has for several generations been towards a situation in which the poor are the real rulers.

Now it is factually the case that it is the poor majority who 'exploit' (i.e. live-off, reproduce at the expense of) the rich minority. 


If the industrial revolution began to bite from about 1800 in England, then this was when the survival of the children of the poor became above replacement levels - and the population began rapidly to grow from the bottom-up for perhaps the first time in human history - or, at least, the first time in a couple of thousand years.

At pretty much the same time, the wealthier classes began to reduce their fertility. For a while, the wealthiest families would still have reared (on average) more children to adulthood than the poorest, but pretty soon the poor began to outstrip the rich, as fertility among the wealthiest declined and declined without stopping - to well below replacement levels.


The point I am making here is that in industrial society (since c1800), the transfer of wealth goes from richer to poorer - until nowadays, people who are net economically unproductive and indeed net consumers of resources, who do little or no productive work, who are able to raise all the children they may choose to have, or have by accident; at the expense of the rest of the society.

In pre-industrial societies such people and their children would have died en masse, - despite working productively all the hours God sent- mostly from starvation and disease, plus high rates of accidents and violence.


So, in the agrarian past, the usual pattern was for ruling classes to extract more resources than they generated, and they used these resources to raise most of their numerous children. Each new generation of adults mostly had 'higher class' parents in a world of overall downward mobility.

Meanwhile the poor, whose resources had been taken from them, were so poor that they raised on average almost no children to adulthood. The children of the poor were 'culled' from each generation. No matter how many children the poor produced, only very few survived. 


With the industrial revolution these tendencies reversed.

So, what I was wondering is whether there is some kind of underlying, fundamental cause, operating from about 1800, which links the loss of resource-extractive power (or will) of the upper classes with their decline into sub-fertility. 


Why do the upper classes since c1800 'allow' most of their resources to be extracted from them; and does the answer to that question also explain why the upper classes have (pretty much) stopped having children?

This passivity looks like decadence - exhaustion, disease, dysfunctionality.

Indeed, since the mid-1960s, the upper classes have taken an ever more active role in increasing the transfer of both resources and child-rearing away from themselves and onto poorer and ever-poorer sections of the human population.

This goes beyond decadence - and looks like deliberate self-destruction, willed suicide


Friday, 20 March 2015

Life in a world without genius


We *must* have motivation - but where can we find it?

Religion - that is where we find it; and there is no alternative.

So... Choose your religion, choose your denomination.

But then what? That is just to point yourself in the right direction of finding motivation - it is not taking one single step in actually becoming motivated.

Ideally, you find a denomination, find a church and ask to join that church - and be allowed to; participate as fully as you can and discover that doing so motivates you.


But any of these steps may be blocked, or may fail to generate motivation - indeed, some find some, most or all aspects of participating in an actual church to be de-motivating.

This does not necessarily mean that person would or should leave that church - but it does mean that they must seek motivation elsewhere (and I emphasize must - because sufficient motivation is not merely an option, but a necessity for the good life).

What then?


We will need to seek and make motivation outside the church (but in line with its teachings).

How? Here are some suggestions:

  • Meditation  and/or Prayer - These require some learning; therefore time set aside, effort made over sufficient time. 

  • Reading - scripture yes, but also (and perhaps mostly) devotional books, and in general reading which provide the right kind of motivation: novels, poetry, essays, drama. The principle can be extended to music and the visual arts.

  • Tithe or donate some of your money (or time) to religious causes, especially specific churches - what kind of causes? Evangelism is perhaps the primary one, especially evangelism in the place you live; but also all manner of support for Christians in the efforts to live Christianly.  


What you could be aiming-at is building in yourself a lively sense of the reality of God; a real sense of the living God.

That God is not just alive, and real, and out there - but also inside you.

And, to be motivated, hope is essential. And the hope must be hopeful - hope needs to be as solid and as specific as is required to give you motivating hope. This probably requires knowing more about Heaven.


What do you want to do when you are grown-up?

A question which it has become almost impossible answer honestly and hopefully.

At least, if you are a boy. Girls have the enduring possibility of motherhood - if they have not been taught to despise it.


Are modern parables possible?

A modern parable would have to be religious to be a parable, otherwise it would just be a symbolic story. 

On these lines there are many sections of Tolkien's, CS Lewis's and JK Rowling's fantasy novels that function as parables - in principle detachable and summarisable - for those familiar with the books. 

But a short and stand-alone parable is not really possible as a teaching medium in modern secular culture - because modernity has subverted and destroyed the common sense of religious purpose in life. 

Before a parable can work, the author nowadays needs first to establish a context such as a large work of fiction; in which parables are a meaningful form. 

Where do we keep our memories?


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Nominations invited for the "Couldn't Shout Coals" award

Mine is Janis Joplin


Note: 'Why, s/he couldn't shout coals' (but pronounced differently) is a Geordie/ Pitmatic Northumbrian dialect phrase ejaculated as a judgement on somebody's singing. 

It suggests that the person in question would be unable, due to the poor quality of their voice, to obtain employment announcing wares for sale from the back of a horse-drawn wagon, as it traversed the back streets disbursing sacks of carboniferous fuel.


Note on the note: Pitmatic is, or was, the dialect of the mid-Northumbrian coalfield, spoken by many close and distant relatives during my childhood. 

My Father tells me that the Newbiggin by the Sea pronunciation would have been something like "Cannat Shoot Kerls"

For further info:

When society is so corrupt that geniuses are most likely to become evil, or their work to be misused and misapplied - then maybe that is when we stop getting geniuses?


The motivation deficit in modernity - and how to overcome it

Modern man needs motivation in a way that did not apply to pre-modern societies where the majority of the population were negatively-motivated by the Malthusian lash of starvation, disease and violence; and where the small minority who were not, were either desperately trying to keep themselves above this maelstrom, or who were clinging to power against multiple rivals who would kill them if successful.

So modern man needs motivation - and that motivation must be strong enough and complex enough and long-termist enough to structure his life; and that is exactly what the secular Leftism which now dominates the developed world some completely and utterly fails to provide.

There are weak, simple and short-termist motivations provided by secular Leftism, of course; for example, envy, hatred, hedonism and sex. These are amplified and channelled into political 'movements' by the mass media, state propaganda, laws and regulations. But clearly they are on the one hand socially destructive, and on the other hand clearly inadequate.


My initial interest in Christianity came from a consideration of motivations; and a recognition that the empirical evidence showed that when Christianity was removed from society as an effective source of primary motivation, nothing remotely adequate had replaced it.

And this had led to the characteristic malaise of this late modern period, increasingly evident since the mid-1960s - the collapse into sub-fertility in developed nations combined with staggering growth levels in some undeveloped countries, the active embrace of population replacement by Western elites, and endemic, compulsory dishonesty not only in public discourse (the mass media and all bureaucracies) - but also in science and medicine (those areas I best know from the inside)

The utter helplessness of the developed world stems from demotivation.

This helplessness is willed; it is not just a failure to tackle problems, but a demotivation so profound that it deliberately, systematically, mandatorily avoids even noticing the problems.


More than sufficient empirical data is available to show that Man must have a religion or else he will despair, give-up and eventually seek his own extinction (including the extinction of his society).

More than sufficient empirical data is available to show that secularism cannot provide motivation; so the viable choice is a choice between religions. Secular religions (like nationalism, communism, fascism, neo-paganism, New Age spirituality... so many have been thoroughly tried - and they have failed to provide a sustainable alternative - they are negative, demotivating, self-destructive and destructive of good.


It seems clear that religion is built-into Man in some sense; and if Man deletes religion then he deletes his motivation.

Does this prove that religion is true? Not exactly prove; but it is more compatible with the truth of religion (at some level, in some way) than it is compatible with the prevalent idea that religion is a pure delusion.

Because a delusion is (almost by definition) dysfunctional - that is how we know it is a delusion - and it is the absence of religion which is demotivating, which is clearly dysfunctional.


Of course it is facile for modern people to disbelieve the obvious and commonsensical, and to suppose that there will be some as-yet-undiscovered and non-obvious way of 'fixing' modernity that does not involve religion.

However, the both the present and future lies with religion.

The first decision is therefore whether to try and discover or make a new religion, or adopt an existing religion. It is easy to make a new religion, but very, very difficult to make a motivating new religion. Unless a religion can prove itself motivating enough to stop or reverse destructive trends under real world, modern conditions, then it is probably just a life-style option, rather than a real religion.

Having decided that viable options are restricted to actually existing religions; the next thing is to discover which religion is true, or rather which is true-est since all have considerable elements of truth.

Then it is a question of determining whether we can join, or at least actively support, that religion which we believe to be true/ true-est. In a world where all large institutions are strongly affected by secular Leftism, then this applies to religions and their adherents to some extent - and many or most religions are indeed utterly in-thrall to secular Leftism.

Nonetheless, Man must have a religion; therefore, in some way or another everyone needs to make a choice of religion to support and sustain; and then work-out how that support is t be implemented; in whatever way and to whatever extent they can manage, and which is most effective for them: effectiveness being measured (partly, but necessarily) in terms of motivation.