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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Indispensable Internet

Many people with far more qualifications for the job than I possess have written about phenomenon of the internet and blogging. To me, the benefit of blogging is the absolutely absorbing people I encounter via their blogs. There are so many striking individuals out there who think independently and have very different backgrounds. Reading them enriches my mental life hugely.

Dr. Sanity has written about Post Modernism. I've read it once and I already know that I'll read it twenty times more this month. The comments are also extremely interesting. A few excerpts from her essay:

Postmodern thinking has been embraced wholeheartedly by a segment of the population that is desperately trying to explain the enormous failures of socialism and communism in both theory and practice. It represents an angry and resentful cri de coeur with fist raised against the universe, for daring to impose reality on them. They have developed an entirely new strategy. Instead of speaking "truth to power" they speak "nonsense to power" in an effort to deconstruct and trivialize both the truth and anyone who dares to seek it.
Of necessity, these elites don't consider themselves prone to the same psychological problems as the "proletariat" they hope to rule someday. That is why they are so often in denial about their own real motives and why their psychology betrays them.

These are the people screaming they are for "peace!" as they beat up those who support the military. These are the people that demand some abstract concept of "free speech"-- except when they are busy passing laws to ban it if it hurts someone's feelings.

...the system espoused by Marx and his intellectual heirs failed precisely because it was not consistent with human nature. Freud was exactly right that unless human nature could be accommodated and accepted in society and those instinctual impulses were able to find healthy and socially appropriate outlet that benefited the individual and the society as a whole, the result would be depression and despair.
In art history, art criticism, philosophy, ethics, politics--indeed, in all the humanities-- the postmodernist socialist apologist merely retreats to a satisfying narcissistic nihilism (nyah nyah, if we aren't right about this then you can't be either) that enables them to delude themselves as to why they have been so wrong in just about every area of inquiry for the last 50 years or more.
It's not just that she is pointing out such truths - it's also her skill in pulling out the conceptual patterns and pointing at each one. The Anchoress just wrote a disgusted comment about this syndrome:

I guess you have to be a certain sort of person to think continual poison is the best way to help heal the divisions within our nation.
Dr. Sanity points out why someone might fall into this pattern.

One thing that has caught and held my attention over the last year has been the similarities in tone and strategy between Shrinkwrapped and Dr. Sanity. They are very different people but their approach to looking at the news and our society is quite similar. They also share a didacticism at times. They will be pushed so far and then say "NO!"

I think, however, that cognitive stance must be a necessity of their profession. Granted, the arsenal of drugs that psychiatrists now have at their disposal can be helpful, but those alone could not restore order to a badly disordered mind. It's like surgery. A skillful surgeon can pull shattered bits of tibia back together and give a terrible physical injury a chance to heal that nature can't provide, but you will not recover normal function unless you are willing to slowly place more and more stress upon your injured limb. The professional can give you the chance, but you must be willing and able to exploit that opportunity. Inevitably it involves pain.

A psychologist must have an even higher hurdle to surmount in treating patients fighting conflicts of mind that have driven them into a psychological ditch. The kink in steering is still there, and I suppose the psychologist has to deal with a lot of insistence from some patients that this is the only correct way to drive. Less obvious but just as consistent in their writing is a strong respect for the individual.

One of Shrinkwrapped's latest:

Psychoanalysts spend a fair amount of time trying to determine the psychological truth of the stories our patients tell us. We recognize that it is near impossible to construct or reconstruct an exact replica of historical reality. Memory is among the most plastic (subject to distortion in formation and recall) of all our mind's constructs. The question we often have to deal with is whether or not a "memory" is of an event or of a fantasy (and most commonly, how much has fantasy elaborated and distorted a memory.) In all such cases, the memory can have a powerful impact on the person's character and behavior, but the patient's job in therapy differs depending on the assessment of their past reality.
The worst abuse by the MSM of their roles as our society's sensory apparatus and as guardians of our free speech freedoms, is their abuse of the truth. By presenting opinions and feelings as facts, without even a cursory attempt at constructing a consistent argument, they are damaging our society's ability to reason from factual data. Feelings are not depictions of reality; they are depictions of how your experience of reality affects you.
Both Shrinkwrapped and Dr. Sanity make a powerful and consistent appeal to reason. I suppose understanding the signficance of symbols is important to their work also. It's not surprising that people with these priorities would protest against the nihilistic currents in our cultural life or protest against the warping and distortion of the symbology of our culture that is the hallmark of Post Modernism. If a symbol can mean anything than it means nothing. An X without the equation is simply an X - any number.

One thing that utterly intrigues me is the cognitive similarity between the demands that their worldview imposes on them and the demands that the Abrahamic religions (the traditional varieties, not the pop versions of them) impose upon their adherents. I don't know enough about Buddism to know if that would fall into the same category but I suspect the real religion (not the pop western version) is the same.

For one example of this, see the comments at Dr. Sanity's post:

...St. Paul, in the first chapter of Romans, says, in effect, at a certain level of taunting the moral constructs, the Spirit of moral truth will say in effect, "OK, that's what you want. I won't bother you any more." When that happens, the "transgressive" turns hysterical, because on one level there are no boundaries left to transgress.
As animals we are certainly reactive creatures. As intelligent and imaginative animals we are capable of redefining our mental perception of our world in order to change our internal perceptions and reactions to outward circumstances. Properly used, that is an instrument of rational self-control: My feet a:re not that cold and the bus will be here soon; I don't need to get upset over this. Yes, my spouse came home in an angry mood and has been critical and almost hostile all evening; because he/she was fine when he/she went to work, it is likely that whatever caused this happened at work. I don't need to take this personally.

Overusing this ability leads to disaster. We must exert our minds both to control our perceptions and reactions and to curb our remaking of our world so that we do not lose contact with it. Substitute a variable for these words, and this worldview translates into the recognition of the external, objectively real (although not directly observed) and immutable God of Abraham and the law.

Update: SC&A augments the point about art. His basic point is that great art - art that stands the test of time - is about being human and not about politics.

Dr Sanity's post was superb. The notion that somehow, art can be appropriated for a specific agenda is preposterous- and dangerous.
But it has a long history even in the last century, ranging from the Nazi attempts to foster the "correct" artistic expressions to the "always smiling and brawny" USSR vision of man in a Marxist utopia.
Great minds really do think alike- I wrote on those very matters, yesterday.
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