Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Is communication possible? If so, the consequences are so profound as to be un-thinkable

According to the prevailing, mainstream, 'scientific'/ materialist assumptions - communication is not possible.

This is because these assumptions entail that (to summarise Owen Barfield in his essay The Coming Trauma of Materialism):

1. 'Nature' is a separate autonomous and objective realm - which can be affected by Man only from outside. That is, Nature is something that precedes man, and always has gone one separately from human awareness and direct-participation. In effect, Man is an optional-extra for Nature.

2. Each individual Man is a separate part of the objective system of Nature - we aren't connected in any ultimate or fundamental way; because...

3. One mind can communicate with another mind only via the medium of physical processes.

Most people haven't connected the dots sufficiently to realise that the standard explanations of communication rule-out any possibility of communication (except by sheer random chance - which is, of course, not communication at all) since the scheme has multiple steps of representations, none of which are reliable, none of which can be checked.

In sum, according to the usual scheme, we have no idea whether what we perceive is real, distorted, partial or just imaginary (an hallucination, perhaps) - and when we send out a communication we have no idea whether or not our communication has been understood (nor even received) - not least because any check on understanding has to use the same chain of uncertain representations the validity of which we are attempting to check.

What this means is that we cannot know whether somebody else is thinking the same thing as we ourselves are thinking. Hence our minds are utterly isolated from everything else - including all other people.

This creates a reductio ad absurdum for what we suppose to be human discourse, and indeed human existence. Fairly obviously, if communication is not possible, then hardly anything has any point to it - certainly not what I am currently writing!

Why then is such an absurd and self-refuting metaphysical scheme so utterly dominant in modern Western society? Why do we simultaneously assume (in our actions) that communication is possible, yet (in our assumptions) that communication is impossible? Why does not this incoherence lead to abandonment of materialist metaphysics?

The reason is that if we explicitly were to regard (as, surely, we ought to!) communication as possible; then this has consequences which would be extremely disruptive to the materialist basis of modernity.

In particular, if communication is possible, then we must each be able to think exactly the same thought as another person. Real communication involves a direct sharing of thoughts.

What I mean is that if you and I are to be in communication, then when we think of a triangle, a face, the theory of evolution by natural selection or anything else... we must both be able to think exactly the identical thought.

(Not a similar thought, nor a precise copy of a thought; but exactly the same unit of thought.) 

This, in turn, means that the thought cannot be inside either or both of our minds; but must instead be 'located' in some realm to which we both have access. In effect, we could only think exactly the same triangle (and therefore experience communication) if both of us were thinking in some kind of common 'space' where this triangle was located.

Now, the specifics of how this might work - e.g. what kind of a realm the triangle exists in and how each of our minds might get access to it - are conjectural and metaphysical (and therefore partial, incomplete and simplified); but the basic idea of the possibility of more than one person simultaneously thinking the same thought seems hard to deny - if, as I say, real communication is to be regarded as a possibility.

(Leaving aside the next, and 'epistemological' question of how we would know that any particular example was a real communication. First the metaphysical assumptions allowing the possibility must be established, before epistemology can be discussed.)

So we reach the striking, and radically disruptive, conclusion that if communication is possible, then people must be able to think outside of their own minds in some common domain which is multiply accessible; and that this must be possible outside of the material world and therefore outside of the 'five senses'.

Furthermore, that real communication is (at least at present) undetectable and unmeasurable - but works by entirely different routes and means.

Since pretty much everything depends on communication, the conclusion apparently forced upon us is that we absolutely depend upon some kind of direct, undetectable and unmeasurable, yet universal, shared realm of 'thoughts'.

So you can see why the incoherence of modern ideas of communication are able to survive decade after decade, despite being necessarily wrong and senseless - the alternative is so profoundly at odds with modern culture as to be (for most people most of the time) literally un-thinkable.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

My review of the 1977 TV Hobbit cartoon (scripted by Romeo Muller, from the Rankin/ Bass studio)


In a nutshell; I recommend this TV Hobbit movie for its high ideals, brilliant script, voice-acting, songs and background scene-painting - despite the poor quality animation.

http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/review-of-hobbit-animated-movie-1977.html

Sexual angst as public policy

How important is sex - and how straightforward?

Back in the middle sixties the idea was that sex was simultaneously the most important thing in the world - such that nothing whatsoever should be allowed to stand in its path. People of all ages (including kids... that was a big theme in the sixties) should be allowed to do what they wanted, when they wanted-to, where they wanted and with whom (or whatever) they wanted...

And yet at the same time, sex was unimportant. The reason that it would be okay, a good thing, for all restrictions and limitations to be removed from sex was that sex didn't really matter - sex was merely a fun form of exercise, another variant of relaxing with friends, on the same level as having a beer or smoking marijuana.

The point was: sex should be care-free...

Well that didn't last long, it didn't last even half a decade. As soon as the sexual revolutionaries has won the first battle, they revealed that carefree sex was just bait, or a stalking horse for something very different - and then sex and sexuality and sexual identify - the whole thing - became, and ever-increasingly is, a source of angst.

So what the the agenda of the mainstream powers when it comes to sex? They neither favour it nor do they wish to stamp it out; but favour both at the same time or alternating. They are not for biological sex, nor for chosen gender - but both; not for same-sex attraction nor for sex change - but both; they do not regard sexuality and identity as fixed, but also they do - they do not regard sexuality as a matter of lifestyle choice, but yet also say that it is (lifestyle itself is regarded as trivial at one moment and compelling at another)...

What is the conclusion? The conclusion is that what they really want is angst. They want people to be focused on sex, but existentially unsure about it. They want them to do many contradictory things, therefore always to be in doubt about whether what they do is right or best.

They want to create high status victim groups and despised aggressors - but always be swapping these around and changing their rank order so nobody is ever confident about what they are supposed to do, everybody is tentative and fearful about their own status; and whatever it is that they are currently feeling, hoping for or doing - should be subject to constant, gnawing doubt.

Constant worry, endemic conflict, miserable obsession... these are exactly what was wanted from the sexual revolution, that always was the objective and end-point.

Hence the multiple Establishment initiatives to inculcate sexual confusion into school kids - especially those too young to be worried about, or even interested in, sex. They are trying to ensure that the whole subject of sex is problematised; and are building existential anxiety into the foundations of human personality, so that sexuality is intrinsically insecure.

A population of permanent, all round, neurotics - desperate for reassurance and craving relief... that's the aim. And they've achieved it!- pretty much.

Now you know why.

Monday, 16 January 2017

How bad are 'things'? How bad are people?

The striking thing about the modern situation for me, from my perspective - is that most people think that things are OK and most people are basically 'good'. Whereas I have the perspective that our society is in a terrible way, and that the mass of people are more evil than ever at any time or place in history.

But in fact there is no conflict between these perspectives at the level of 'evidence' - the conflict arises from metaphysics. In other words the conflict of my view and the majority view is at the level of what constitutes 'bad'.

*

Most people measure the badness of society in some publicly-detectable, measurable, material way - maybe in terms of wealth and poverty; pleasure and suffering; freedom or oppression; peace or violence; creativity or stagnation... and so forth. From such perspectives the modern world is maybe not bad, maybe pretty good...

But from my perspective, I am looking at the soul of people en masse - and I notice that people are alienated from nature, other people, and themselves - and that everything is regarded as arbitrary and temporary; there is no real and eternal pattern or purpose or unfolding shape to the totality of everything.

I notice that public discourse is wholly about measurements and inferred (but never actually known) feelings during mortal life, and that mortal life is regarded as all there is and without any larger context.

Most people regard economic collapse, war, famine, epidemics as the worst possible things that can happen.

But - when I am at my best, and thinking using my deepest (divine) qualities - I realise that the worst possible things are spiritual - things like denial of the reality of the real, hopelessness (despair), a conviction that life is senseless and goes nowhere, underlying and unsolvable guilt or resentment, and a desire for death and indeed for annihilation.

All of which amounts to the conviction of an ultimate, existential isolation - the unavoidable situation of everything always being cut-off from everything.    

*

Most people measure the badness of people in terms of whether they are violent, altruistic, hard-working, well-mannered and so forth.

But I measure the badness of society in transcendental terms of whether we pursue The Good - that is truth, beauty, virtue in unity.

And I notice that the official Western version of Good - which we are encouraged to pursue, and which most people have internalised such that they are not explicitly aware of it - is an inversion (not complete inversion, but substantially so) of The Good as known through human history and in the majority non-Western world.

What The West calls Good is substantially what children, tribal people, genuinely religious people (past and present) call bad - whether in the realms of truth, beauty or virtue - and instead of unity, the world is understood in terms of multiple unrelated specialisms.

And that bad is strongly encouraged, promoted and rewarded both by the official world of government, bureaucracy, charities and mainstream religions, education etc and by the mass media.

So we have a world of expedient dishonesty, of hype and spin and deliberate misleading as well as aggressive lying on a massive scale - none of this repented. We have ugliness of art and architecture, theatre and movies, and the environment and of the organisation of life (the iron cage of bureaucracy in general). We have relabelled sexual manipulation and exploitation and objectification and obsession as virtue; and disorder as better-than-normal.

*

So the essence of the massive disagreement between my interpretation of the badness of 'things' and people is simple - albeit based on assumptions that are usually unknown, denied or taken as facts rather than assumptions.

What is needed, perhaps more than anything else - is an awareness of assumptions and the fact that they are assumptions.

This is only a first step - but is probably the essential first step.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The importance of pilgrimage

An essay from William Wildblood at Albion Awakening:

http://albionawakening.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/pilgrimage.html

I agree - and indeed try to make my holidays into some kind of pilgrimage - focused on a specific act of pious homage to some person whom I admire or place that has personal meaning, when possible; although I don't take this aspect as seriously as I should.

For instance, in 2011 when the family visited Oxford I went to CS Lewis's church in Headington Quarry to see where he was buried (alongside his brother Warnie), attended a communion service and sat in Jack Lewis's regular seat (which was hidden from the pulpit - Lewis used to sneak-out before the sermon, typically). By arrangement, I and a few others were shown around Jack and Warnie's home The Kilns, and wandered the grounds - meditating and reading.

I walked one evening alone to look at Tolkien's two homes in North Oxford, later visited his grave; and one early morning found the graves of Charles Williams and Hugo Dyson.

On a 1998 visit to New England I visited Emerson's house in Concord, and the graves of the Transcendentalists in Sleepy Hollow; and my wife and I walked around Walden Pond very early one Fall morning when nobody else was around. In New Hampshire, we later visited Franconia and Bethlehem - for their connections with Robert Frost.


Saturday, 14 January 2017

The question is not which side will win, but which side you will choose (and how you find the strength of belief necessary for making the right choice)

Wise words, edited from a blog post by John C Wright:

In the Christian worldview, no final victory here in this world is possible, but final victory when the world is remade is inevitable. 

Hence, in Middle Earth, the men of the west struggle onward without any glimmer of hope. The hopelessness of the quest is emphasized in many places (including in the true meaning of Strider’s true name). In Narnia, nothing done by Tirion can halt the Last Battle or the final downfall of night. In both cases, the protagonists are humble: schoolchildren or hobbits... 

For the Christian worldview the question is not which side will win. In Christian stories, evil is strong, but evil destroys itself. The question is which side will the protagonist cleave to

Lucy (particularly in Prince Caspian) was loyal; Edmund was not. Sam was loyal, and gave up the Ring; Boromir was not... 

Another example is the story of David and Goliath. From a pagan point of view, the story of David and Goliath is absurd. Hercules kills giants, not shepherd boys. There is no drama, no conflict, because a boy slaying a giant with a lucky shot is ridiculous. 

But this is a story as oft retold and as dramatic as anything in literature: because the drama is in the fact that the army of professional soldiers, and David’s own older brothers, are terrified, and will not fight, and David will fight. 

There is no mystery as to who will win: God Almighty is on David’s side. The mystery is why and how David finds the strength to believe that impossible, unlikely, unearthly truth.

Read the whole thing at:
http://www.scifiwright.com/2017/01/hope-in-secondary-worlds

Friday, 13 January 2017

The West must awaken Metaphysically - or it will not awaken at all...

Metaphysics is the name for our most fundamental assumptions concerning reality - and the particular horror of modern metaphysics is the pretence that there isn't one.

If there is to be any awakening of The West in general and Albion in particular - the first step is for people to become aware that they have metaphysical assumptions; and like all such assumptions they are assumed - and not, therefore, the consequence of any kind of evidence or proof.

There is no name for the set of assumptions of the modern West - and that is no accident; because the pretence is that we have seen-through metaphysics, and confront 'reality' directly.

We (supposedly) live without illusions, we face the facts, we live according to the bottom-line - we seize the day.

We assume (among other things) that God never was, the soul is a myth, death is utter annihilation, science is the only truth, that Human Life is entirely about maximising pleasure and minimising suffering... and yet we deny that these are assumptions.

*

In my experience there is nothing harder to achieve, than to get somebody-else to acknowledge their assumptions - and that other assumptions are possible!

(This metaphysical awareness is not mainly a matter of high intelligence; it is mostly a matter of attention-span and serious engagement - both of which are even rarer than high intelligence.)

Yet metaphysics is not just another 'relativism' - the fact that we make some assumptions does not mean that any one set of assumptions is just as good (or bad) as any other set of assumptions; because metaphysics is not the deepest we can go.

Beyond metaphysics there is what could be called intuition; by which I mean the ultimate reflective evaluation of our ultimate selves: that which convinces us, that we believe, what strikes us as most valid and true.

(This depends on many possible factors - coherence is one. Simplicity is another; comprehensibility is very important - we need to understand our own metaphysics; appeal is another - what strikes us as good, beautiful and true. But in practice the reasons for evaluation may be unclear and unarticulated: we just know.)

So, if we can excavate, isolate and acknowledge the nature of our metaphysics, then we can validly change it for something better.

We can - we really can! - awaken from the deadly hypnotic trance of modernity; and awaken to a better world - a world of breadth, depth, meaning and purpose.

*

This is important - I would say vital - because it is our metaphysics which is literally killing us in The West.

And the great weakness of Western metaphysics is that it is incoherent - indeed it is self-refuting; because when pushed to the line it claims that incoherence is reality; and the incoherence of metaphysics mirrors the incoherence of Real Life.

(It is this incoherent assertion of incoherence which leads to the claim to have refuted metaphysics; to the claim somehow to have confronted reality directly and unmediated and thereby discovered its incoherence.) 

Yet from this insistence of incoherence, The West derives its tyrannical iron cage of mandatory bureaucratic surveillance and control; and its moralising and immoral mass media - that vast effort at ideological saturation bombing which IS the modern world.

People will not escape this suffocating System merely by discovering its lies, nor even by discovering its incoherence - they will escape by recognising a metaphysics of expanded acknowledgment and perception of realities; of meaning and purpose - and by recognising its validity in the very depth of their intuitive self.

This is the work of an instant! Albeit it may take weeks, months, years of decades to build up to that moment.

But the possibility is always there, and never can be closed-off altogether - or, if it is, we have no-one to blame but our-selves.


'Accountability' is for accountants (only)

Two definitions of accountability - the quick switch...

Our era has been described as The Audit Society, because corporate life is increasingly dominated by accountancy-derived concepts and technologies.

Accountability is one of these concepts - as its name implies. Discourse on the desirability of ‘increased accountability’ has become ubiquitous in political, managerial and even journalistic discourse. Accountability is assumed to be an intrinsically desirable goal, and nobody ever claims that one can have ‘too much’ accountability - the pressure is always for more.

Yet accountability is a slippery rhetorical term with two largely distinct meanings: a sharply-defined technical managerial meaning, and a looser, more general or ‘popular’ meaning. This opens the way for accountability to be used a rhetorically manipulative fashion - by shifting back and forth between technical and general meanings.

In general discourse, accountable means something similar to ‘responsible’, and carries connotations of ‘being answerable-to’. Conversely, to be unaccountable may be used synonymously with ‘irresponsible’ and ‘out of control’. Since responsible behavior is universally approved, then calls to increase ‘accountability’ sound self-evidently desirable.

The technical meaning of accountability in managerial discourse refers narrowly to the duty to present auditable accounts. Originally, this referred to financial documentation that was adequate in terms of completeness and self-consistency - such that it is amenable to the process of cross-checking which constitutes the basis of audit.

The current managerial use of accountability is a direct extension of this financial usage - an accountable organization is one that has the duty to present auditable accounts of its activities - in other words an accountable organization is one that will provide comprehensive and self-consistent documentation of whatever it does.

Only insofar as it is legitimate to assume that the provision of auditable documentation is synonymous with responsible behaviour is there any overlap between the technical and general concepts of accountability.

But the rhetoric of accountability operates on the basis of a ‘quick switch’ between the two. Any individual or organizational problem which can be connected to irresponsible behavior can be termed unaccountable in the general sense - and then the discourse can be switched over to a technical level in which the solution to unaccountable behavior is to set-up regular audit cycles that require comprehensive and self-consistent documentation of that behavior.

Behavior may be rendered technically ‘accountable’ even when the real world behavioral problems that led to the introduction of audit are unchanged or exacerbated.

Now that this model of accountability has become habitual, it is able to generate problems of technically ‘unaccountable’ behavior, even when there is no evidence that actual behaviour has been irresponsible.

There is a profound circularity about this reasoning. Accountability involves an assumed model of how organizations ought to operate, and how individual judgment should be regulated within these organizations.

The drive for 'increased accountability' may therefore operate as an excuse to justify managerial takeover.

Behavior is labelled as unaccountable (hence unacceptable) simply because it is not subject to managerial control, and this is taken (by managers and politicians who wish to control this behavior) to imply a need to introduce audit systems. Audit systems may then be set-up to advance the interests of those who have introduced them.

For instance, many University academics retain significant autonomy in their work, exercising independent judgment over such matters as hour-by-hour time-allocation, teaching style and content, and the subject matter of personal research. Such autonomy has - over many years and in many cultures - proved to be the only way to generate and maintain high academic standards.

However, this autonomy poses a serious threat to political control, since there is no formal mechanism by which academic behaviors can be managed. The concept of accountability provides the answer. If typical academic behaviour can be labelled as technically ‘unaccountable’, and if ‘unaccountable’ is regarded as unacceptable by definition, then there is a perfect rationale for introducing a formal system of monitoring and control.

Someone might be a brilliant and popular University teacher, a first-rate researcher of international reputation, a diligent administrator, and employed by a prestigious university - but technically such a person is ‘unaccountable’ when there are no formal institutional mechanisms for monitoring, documenting and regulating behavior.

Autonomy is re-packaged as irresponsibility while subordination of employees by top-down and hierarchical control mechanisms is restated in terms of ‘increased accountability’.

**

Edited from an book chapter of mine from 2002, entitled Audit, Accountability, Quality and All That.
https://www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/audit.html

The music of creation, and our part in it - from William Arkle

The writer is our Father in Heaven addressing us, his children, by means of an imaginary letter ...

Another question you would surely like to ask me, is why I should need so many children around about me in this creative scheme of mine. Why would not, say, twenty or fifty be enough?

To begin with you do not yet know the depth of my nature. You do not yet know just how much I have to give. If what I had to give were just a simple thing it would not require an elaborate situation to give it in, but what I have to give is most elaborate, and so, to create the necessary width of understanding, I need to find expression for all my qualities, and lay them all out for you to see.

As many of these qualities have to be lived, so I need many different children to live amongst one another.

My plan of creation is vast in your sight because my being is vast also, but do not let that be a cause to think that any of you do not matter to me; you matter to me all as individual children and also as players in my play. If you do not play your part, who is to do it for you? No one can, and it thus leaves a gap.

You are all players in my orchestra, and I cannot make the sounds I had hoped for if any of you are unable to play the individual parts that make up the whole piece of music.

But my orchestra is not like yours. In my orchestra no two parts are the same but they are all needed to make up the true beauty of the sound I have visioned.

I need a large family because I need to express a large number of characters, so do not think only of rushing to my heaven, for it is not necessarily in heaven that you will be able to learn the part you have to play.

When you think of my music, try to remember that it is a continuous creation and not a single piece that is to be repeated. I have no desire to repeat my music, rather do I spin it newly all the while, so what you add to it now, and at any other time, is continually affecting the performance.

You and I are making this music now, and each of your sounds is valuable to the effect, and I am the one who all the time gathers them in and weaves them together into a whole of constantly changing music.

Thus I even make use of the discordant sounds since they all express in some way the reality of the complete situation.

Not that I would have you think that I sit back and coldly 'conduct' this music, or feel any pleasure from discordant notes. I am doing many things at the same time in ways that you would not yet understand, and each discordant note pulls at my heart and my sympathy.

My music is not made to entertain, it is the expression of our endeavour, and effort, and suffering, woven together with the beauty of the beginning and the end.

It is this very music that I use to order and adapt my school of living to the needs that I sense in it. The music reports to my sensitive ear the exact condition of my whole work and my nature responds to its beauty and its needs.

Edited from Letter from a Father (1973) by William Arkle:
http://williamarkle.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/letter-from-father-by-william-arkle.html


Gryphon - Mid-seventies early music/ folk to progressive rock

Aide from Steeleye Span, my favourite group of 1974 was certainly Gryphon; a four peice band with recorders, crumhorns and bassoon, guitar and percussion - who performed mostly Medieval and Tudor music with a folky verve and humour;  and some jazzy improvisations



Including 'Mummerset' accents and musical jokes:


In the late spring of 1974 I saw the my Dream Team combination of Gryphon supporting Steeleye Span at the Colston Hall in Bristol - maybe the best concert ever, for me?

Within a year - as seemed to happen a lot in the seventies, Gryphon had brought in electric guitars  'progressed' towards rock music - and were involved in providing music for the Royal Shakespeare Company Tempest production - leading to perhaps their loveliest achievement - the title track from the second album Midnight Mushrumps.



And in less than a year from MM, the 'progression' of Gryphon had essentially left-behind their early selves and they became a pure rock band, at which point I lost interest.

But the first album and about half of the second one, remain firm favourites - and the abiding image or vision of an exceptional group of highly musical young men having fun:






Thursday, 12 January 2017

Reverse engineering reality - how to behave well even when you do not know what is really going-on

If you know the intentions and motivations of some person or institution - and what they want you to do and not-to-do - then you should be able to infer enough of what is really going-on behind the scenes (behind the smokescreen of misleading, hype, spin and outright lies - cunningly selected and mixed with a few truths and facts)... that you can make the right decisions, despite considerable ignorance.

The problem is that we almost-never know the 'whole story' of what is really going-on. Mostly this is just impossible because so many things are secret, complex, remote, inter-related - and of course because in a world of dishonesty nobody knows what is really going-on (including because people, and intuitions, are lying to themselves - all the time).

But not knowing the whole, true story is no excuse for not doing the right thing - especially in a society so polarised as this one! We should not delay nor wait for 'more evidence' or 'future research' before knowing the right course. We should not 'give the benefit of the doubt' to those we know to be (overall) wickedly-motivated.

In an evil context, delay = collaboration with evil; agnositicism = cooperation with evil.

Typically, we already know enough to act well. 

Because when we know that some person or group has malign intentions towards us - or simply malign intentions in general - then we can be sure-enough that what they really want us to do is what we should not do; and vice versa

For example, when the Chinese communist dictatorship encouraged intellectuals to 'let a thousand flowers bloom' by speaking freely and openly about their most radical ideas; this was in order to identify and eliminate dissidents. As a malign ideology, what they wanted was bad for Good people.

And when Western progressives suddenly expressed an intense interest in 'preventing bullying' in schools by setting-up all sorts of new surveillance and monitoring systems, what they really wanted was to enforce political correctness and the sexual revolution.

Of course, if they know we are assuming the above, they may try to bluff us by asking us to do what they do not want us to do, and forbidding exactly what they most want us to do. But this is usually not possible - and can be a strategic disaster. 

And, at the point of contact between the individual and the malign oppressor, it is usually clear (perhaps on reflection) what they really want us to do (although they will typically attempt to disguise this by re-framing and misdirection).

When (as often and increasingly happens) we are asked to sign-up for some new project or campaign to raise awareness of this or encourage that; to protect this or suppress that; to raise-funds-for or subsidise this - alternatively to defund or to tax that - then it should be clear enough what is really going-on that we know what we ought to do.

And the same applies to slippery slopes. Minor 'reforms', presented as merely a regularisation of the existing state or voluntary or too trivial to become bothered-about; should be assume to be 'stalking horses' strategically directed as major, mandatory and harmful changes; when they emanate from sources we know to be malign.

It really isn't all that difficult - if we allow ourselves to notice and respond to our innate discernment.

And our first duty is not personally to support - with our own efforts, money and cooperation - that which we believe to be evil-in-intent.

Enough people behaving this way would make positive changes happen - very rapidly; without any need for planning or organisation. It is something everybody could, and ought-to, do.


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

We *must* discern angels from demons (despite our fallibility) - we cannot opt-out of this

Ultimately, everything depends on discernment - by which I mean the capacity to evaluate and distinguish-between Good and evil.

Yet discernment cannot be done on objective grounds, but must be done by inference.

And our ability to discern is fallible - we can be fooled, we can fool ourselves, we can mistake expediency for Goodness (or, indeed, suffering for Goodness)... there is no reliable and valid method of discernment.

As an example of the situation we find ourselves in, I will use the discernment between angels and demons (who can simulate or impersonate angels).

1. We cannot do without angels - by which I mean that they influence us and the world, and if we choose to ignore this influence then this is a self-blinding against a vital aspect of reality.

Since we are not meant to ignore (=deny the reality or significance of) angels - we must discern them from demons.

Ignoring the whole issue is therefore not a 'safe option' - we need to discern.

2. It is difficult to discern angels from demons. There are no objective, measurable, publicly-agreed criteria (e.g. demons may appear and beautiful and feign to be Good; angels may be tough or even harsh in their actions or advice, because they understand more and see further).

3. Although we cannot discern objectively or reliably; because we need to discern, we can assume that we can discern - since God is both our loving Father and the creator.

4. How then are we 'supposed to' discern angels from demons if both our intellect (mind) and instincts (gut-feelings) are so prone to error as to be all-but useless?

The answer is by The Discernment of the Heart.

This is something that in some ways we do naturally - but we tend to over-ride it with intellect and/ or instincts; and we also need to learn to distinguish and comprehend it.

The discernment of the Heart is possible because it was built-into us by God, as our ultimate and bottom-line guidance. As such it is immune to distortions of logic' or 'evidence' and to emotional manipulations - it is reliable and true; but the 'flip side' is that the signal is so simple and pure that it is hard to justify, indeed sometimes it is hard even to notice the evaluation of the Heart among the noise and distraction of the world and our minds and bodies (and the deceptions of demons!)...

(Because it has no method or measure, the discernment of the Heart is also easy to deny in a materialist society such as this one.)

5. The situation is: we must discern, we can discern, but we will err in this - not by error of discernment, but by ignoring, over-riding, or being unable or unwilling to detect this discernment of the Heart.

6. Therefore we must discern, we will err; and therefore we must be ready and willing to repent.

7. This, then, is the Human Condition. This is our destiny and path and how we are meant to live.

The 'set-up' is that:

1. we must discern
2. we will err
3. we need to repent

This is - broadly - how we need to approach matters such as angels, demons, religious experiences, signs of the Holy Ghost, the evaluations of truth and holiness, the validity of theories (including theologies), books (including scriptures), institutions (including churches) and persons (including leaders and teachers).

Fairy Tales are real: more real than (modern) real life

Fantasy fiction (Fairy Stories) may currently be the only source of sustained and convincing ‘good metaphysics’ available to many people in The West: our only access to the eternal truths of real reality – as contrasted with the despair-inducing, hope-less, meaningless, purposeless fake-realities of modern life.

From my new essay published at L Jagi Lamplighter's 'Superversive' (i.e. the opposite of 'subversive') blog:

http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/2017/01/10/on-fairy-stories-and-why-they-matter 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Triple moonbow - was it really there?

Not what I saw - but similar

I just saw a triple moonbow, or moon halo - a rainbow around the gibbous moon (apparently caused by the refraction of ice crystals in high cirrus clouds) - It took about five minutes before I began to see the third faint circle (and five minutes later it was gone).

All the time I was looking at the rainbow I was thinking of Owen Barfield's question - Is it really there?




Brexit is much more hope-full than Trump - and also more likely to fail

My interpretation of divine destiny is that we - in England, Britain, The West - are supposed to move forward to a new kind of Christian society different from both the present secular Leftist modernity and the preceding traditionalist religious societies.

If traditional society was, in essence, the immersion of individuals in a public realm of religious practices (with little self-awareness in distinction from society); the aim is, I believe, a society which takes the increased self-consciousness and individual agency (i.e. personal freedom) of modernity and joins-us-together into a voluntary network of loving relationships.

So, if the traditional past had us as something like young children in an ideal family - dependent, and primarily obedient; in the future we are supposed to be something more like the grown-up (fully agent) adult children in an ideal family.

Therefore, I judge current events by their potential for this next (and final) step in the evolution of consciousness and Christian love.

*

From this perspective Brexit (understood as a popular aspiration, rather than the specific vote which revealed it) potentially represents something altogether new; whereas Trump is much more like going-back to an earlier era.

Post-Brexit, England is in a high risk but high reward situation - which may well lead to nothing at all but might be the start of something very good.

Whereas Trump is quite likely to lead to several immediate benefits; but is - at best - essentially business-as-usual from a few decades ago, with a strong (albeit eccentric) Establishment/ Leader figure (and other major social institutions) at the helm.

(The secular Left nature of Trump and his administration can be seen from the key litmus test of being pro the sexual revolution - the sexual revolution having been the primary ideological battering ram of the secular Left for the past 50 years.) 

The power structure and trends (and materialist metaphysics) remain intact - and secular Leftism will resume from the new reset-point.

*

The weakness of Brexit is therefore also its strength. The weakness is that there is no leader, and indeed no leadership class (what little, mostly simulated, leadership there was during the Brexit campaign has either melted away or been swiftly neutralised by the Establishment: corrupted or crushed).

Hence Brexit seems likely to fail in the short term - but if it does not fail then we have something very positive and hope-full for the long term.

Brexit is almost purely a consequence of invisible, politically-powerless people - it is a leaderless movement, unarticulated - unpredicted and unpredictable, undetected and unmeasurable; and apparently utterly uncomprehended and uncontrolled by the major social institutions.  

The nature of Brexit is a consequence of the extremity of corruption in Britain; where the Establishment is so totally-dominant among the leadership of all major institutions (which are now thoroughly assimilated and inverted) that they monopolise all leadership and public discourse.

Therefore in Britain change will have to come (if it comes at all) by some wholly-novel 'mechanism' - based upon a mass of individual 'awakenings' - each of which is very private, very autonomous, against-the-odds - and very difficult, therefore, either to control or to extinguish.

*

If the underlying social change represented by Brexit gathers strength, then it would have its effect (at least initially) either invisibly or negatively - since it lacks explicit and recognised representation.

Of course there may be, I hope there is, a small and organised core of honest and competent leadership for the Brexit movement - but this would be secondary; it would have to be secondary, or else Brexit would quickly and easily be snuffed-out.

*

How is positive change even possible under a Brexit scenario? Well, modern society requires, and gets, a truly massive degree of self-policing, self-control, self-punishment - whereby the mass of people have been ideologically inverted into active support of evil (of nonsense and lies enforced as truth; ugliness as beauty; and wickedness as virtue - and vice versa).

This is done by the people, to the people - because it is expedient when Life is regarded relativistically, materialistically, and as terminated by death.

But if people have, as individuals, awoken to a new metaphysical awareness - that is, a new system of assumptions which they know from-themselves - then individuals become agent; and immune to the divide-and-rule system of control.

*

A system of true and self-aware agents would be new; and impossible to control - except by enrolling agency to positive goals - presumably by Love.

At present, modernity denies genuine agency, and indeed real-reality. If this changes - then everything changes. Inexorably, unstoppably, bottom-up.

And Christian agency (assuming that is what eventually emerges) just keeps bouncing back - no matter how many errors and failures it suffers, it cannot be demoralised because of the infinite power of repentance.

When Christian agency is sustained even in the absence of a strong, honest and true church and institutional leadership - then it indomitable; and indeed is all-but indestructible (in the eternal perspective).


Notice of Rogue One: a Star Wars Story

[No spoilers]

I went to see this movie with my son - and I knew nothing much about it except what I saw in the trailer and that John C Wright had said it was good.

http://www.scifiwright.com/2016/12/rogue-one-spoiler-free-review

I agree with JCW - Rogue One is good!

I liked the spirit behind the film - its confidently measured build-up; the cast of characters and their development; the fact that the action scenes (fights etc) were the proper length (having been skilfully constructed and edited by criteria related to dramatic effectiveness), and not drawn-out and artificially-extended, as is usual with such things .

And most of all I liked the spiritual dimension which underpinned it and was referenced throughout - this made the film be 'about' more than just an adventure.

Perhaps because of the somewhat Zen-Buddhist-like spirituality, the overall plot of the movie was very unusual, and often surprising - the only other films with this feel and dramatic shape that I have seen were by the great Japanese director Kurosawa.

I can see why Rogue One was a box office success - it is an excellent movie. But what is more important, I think it is likely to be - overall - good for the audience. Timely - one might say.

Well done to the people who made it!


Monday, 9 January 2017

The Way of Repentance via strict honesty, judged in an ideal context

Given that we nearly always fail in this world (e.g. see previous post about how we fail to live in a higher conscious state in the mainstream modern life of work and society)... given this endemic failure, our way must be a Way of Repentance.

In other words, the spiritual path is one where we recurrently recognise our failures; and (I would add) this recognition can potentially be attained by a strict and never-ceasing honesty.

We need to recognise that in normal discourse there is (intrinsically):

1. Simplification
2. Selection - in terns both of narrowness and short-termism
3. Bias
4. Wrong motivations (false aims)

The key is to recognise the deficiencies of routine discourse in terms of truth and reality: not true (not even trying to be true) and not embedded in reality (but only in a micro-operational reality, such as bureaucratic imperatives, or here-and-now social advantage or harmony).

Truth and reality are understood in the most total and ideal fashion - truth in terms of the wholeness of validity in every respect (anything short of which, must be recognised as a pragmatic, short-termist 'model' or hypothesis of unknown validity) - and a reality which encompasses divinity and eternity; (including God the creator and divine parent, post-mortal life, and our ultimate destiny and desire to become fully divine sons and daughters of God).

Everything ought to be seen in this perspective - and since this rarely happens we must explicitly notice, acknowledge and repent the failure. We must therefore respond to our deficiencies, and the deficiencies of everyday life and discourse as judged against this ultimate standard.

This implies we should not let any falsehood pass without noting it.

This absolutely requires us to interrupt every conversation or process whenever any such dishonesty (failure of honesty) becomes apparent - explicitly to note this dishonesty.

(It is the difficulty of doing this which holds us back. It is this habit which we need to inculcate in ourselves; by intent and then by practice.)

For instance, any and all questions (or required responses) that are framed in narrow, biased, false-motivated terms should not be answered without explicit reference to the falsehood of the situation.

For example, false statements should be noticed for what they are - eg intentionally deceptive, a screen for bad motivations, or simply hypothetical models which are known (for sure) to be grossly-simplified: selective, distorted, short-termist hence not-true (at best pragmatic means to a proximate end - which must be evaluated for its compatibility with the ultimate end of Life).

So first we experience honesty - in private, and in solitude and detachment - this enables us to recognise the basic situation...

This Way of Repentance is both very positive and motivating, and also starkly realistic.

It is positive in the sense of the fact that by repentance we are continually escaping the narrow and deadly constraints of 'the iron cage of bureaucracy', and the triviality and exploitativeness of normal social life; and on the other hand it is extremely humble in that we are forced continually to recognise our failures: our pervasive, recurrent, and impossible to avoid failures

The limited scope of meditation - bad habits of thinking

There is a striking gulf between what is possible in meditation and in the rest of life of social living and work.

In meditation we may achieve a pure, clear thinking - independent of our sensations and perceptions; and experience an intuitive knowledge of truth and universal reality - but it is astonishing how little impact this has on social/ work life - indeed, it seems often to have no impact at all.

And if our social/ work life is operating at an unsatisfactory level of shallowness, alienation, purposelessness... then it is clear that progress made during meditation may have essentially zero benefit on the rest of life.

Higher states of consciousness are contextual - bad habits are stronger than spiritual insights.

The social milieu (with its materialism, nihilism, despair...) is stronger than our individuality. When immersed in the stream of life we are overwhelmed - the rush and strength of phenomena and events quite overwhelm the practices we have attained during solitary and detached meditation.

We then live unspiritually, we live merely in automatic responses to stimuli - our behaviours merely effects of external causes; our very thoughts seem caught up by stuff we experience through the senses.

On the one hand static detached meditative thought and some sense of spiritual progress - on the other hand simply automatic functioning as a puppet of social and media life and the constraints of work and survival...

So we find many people who have put considerable sincere effort into meditative spirituality (or prayer, or study of scriptures or the practise of religion...) who strike us, in normal life and social or work-interactions, as spiritually just like other people - indistinguishable...

We perceive no special depths in them, no spirituality, no holiness. All their meditation (prayer, study, practices) seem like a complete waste of time: ineffectual, self deceieving...

And - much worse - the same applies to ourselves - in our mainstream normal discourse and behaviour we perceive no depths, spirituality or holiness in ourselves! Our meditative self is aware that our everyday 'personality' is shallow and materialistic, just like everybody else!

We imagine we are acheiving a better, higher, more spiritual state - but 'real life' suggests we are deluding ourselves.

Can anything be done? Yes - but clearly it is difficult: clearly it is very difficult indeed - much, much harder than most people make-out; and only few people have ever gone any way towards overcoming it.

Our ai is to become one of those who are deep, spiritual, holy in the mainstream, everyday, social and working life - transformed right down to the small mundane details, the instant 'automatic' responses, the fine grain of functionality.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Patrick Harpur - interview


Good interview with Patrick Harpur - an English scholar and writer whose wide-ranging work is worth exploring.


Friday, 6 January 2017

Britain's best future already exists in the national unconsicous - Owen Barfield in 1940

If you are convinced that it is well for a man, or it may be a nation, to make something, there are two possible ways of imparting the conviction to him.

You may convince him by argument that such a thing, if made, would be a good and useful thing. That is one way.

On the other hand you may say: “This thing already exists, potentially, and is merely waiting to be brought into visible being. Moreover it is your true nature to make it, because its archetype already exists in you. If you fail to make it you will be acting in a way that is fundamentally false: you will be a sort of hypocrite.”

Now I believe that this second method is the only one which has any chance of success to-day. I also believe that it is inherently a better method, because for one thing it is in harmony with religious faith. Ethics are concerned with what ought to be, where religion is concerned solely with what is.

It is, for instance, not a religious appeal to say “You ought not to be acquisitive,” whether or no we add “because in that way peace will be secured.” It is a religious appeal to say: “It is the will of God that you should not be acquisitive,” whether or no we add “and you will find that it is really your own will also, the will of that true self of yours for whose salvation Christ died.”

The question is, therefore, is there any chance of producing by this second method a widespread conviction in the minds of English people that it is their urgent business to create a new society? In attempting to answer this question one naturally asks first, whether attempt has ever been made before.

A century ago a great man was writing in this country on social change and political questions... Coleridge saw that a new society was needed in Europe and that it could only be brought about by a change in people’s ways of thought and feeling. He virtually foresaw, as the inevitable result of habits of thought which were then comparatively new but were rapidly becoming prevalent, the very disintegration which we are now experiencing. He chose the second method of appeal.

Coleridge tried to familiarise English people with the notion that there is what he called the “idea” of a nation, a constitution, a church – that is, not a theory of these things worked out empirically, but something which they are in fact and in the nature of things striving to be; and that the first problem is to recognise this “idea” in each case.

He failed to “get it across” -- it was beyond his, probably beyond any man’s, powers and he never won more than a small audience. The failure was disastrous because for anyone who will first take the trouble to master Coleridge’s system of thought these writings of his contains a depth of Christian political wisdom which I believe to be unsurpassed by any other English, possibly by any other, thinker.

Is there any better prospect of success to-day? I believe there may be... People have gradually acquired the habit of referring in the most matter of fact, even glib, way to this particular aspect of the “unmanifest.” To this extent we are all accustomed to “moving about in worlds not realised”.

This fact seems to me to create a totally different situation; so that, if Coleridge were here to-day, he would fine exactly what he formerly lacked, a point of contact with the minds of his contemporaries from which at least to make a start.

Am I making my suggestion at all clear? What I want to get at is that the true form of the society which Britain ought to create already exists potentially in the nation’s unconscious; and that an appeal which proceeds on that basis stands the best chance of success.

Edited from Effective Approach to Social Change - Owen Barfield - 1940
http://www.owenbarfield.org/effective-approach-to-social-change

**

Note: This seems an inspiring and energising insight into the nature of desirable social change; and how we ought to set about inducing it.

(And also - very helpfully - what not to do!)

Quiet - too quiet? Something seems to have changed since Christmas... Spiritual revival?

Things are quiet - much quieter than usual.

From where I sit and walk; there aren't many people out and about. Not many cars, not many shoppers. Internet activity seems sharply diminished - at least, I suddenly have significantly fewer daily page views, and the blogs I look-at have fewer comments. The so-called 'news' seems to be even more content-free than usual...

Apparently, something has happened. What?

My hope is that this represents a withdrawal by many individuals, a withdrawal from the mainstream, virtual reality, media, bureaucratic Matrix-world... that people are making a bit more un-structured time for that most hope-full of all activities: thinking for themselves.

At any rate, this kind of change was what I predicted would need to be one of the first signs of a spiritual revival in the West:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/signs-of-spiritual-revival-what-to-look.html