Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fukuyama underestimated the power of religion and culture to shape the human mind

I think the biggest knock on Fukuyama is that he underestimated -- to say the least -- the power of religion and culture to shape the human mind. And even more importantly, being a rationalist, he failed to appreciate the unconscious and irrational element in both of these realms. In short, he looked at culture as a basically rational enterprise instead of a deeply irrational (or arational or transrational) one. If even a relatively sane society such as the United States is prone to mass delusions, collective hysteria, and group fantasies, it is scarcely possible for us to imagine what it must be like to be an average citizen of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or Berkeley.
And in pointing out that Fukuyama underestimated the power of culture, it's just another way of saying that he overlooked the realm of the vertical, in both its lower and upper aspects. The odd thing about earthlings is that they are attached to their culture, even -- or especially -- if the culture doesn't seem to work. Superficially this makes no sense, but it is exactly analogous to the manner in which a neurotic person is more attached to his neurosis than a "normal" person is to his sanity.
This is for complex reasons related to the manner in which mind parasites function. For a full explanation, I'd have to take a lengthy detour into developmental psychoanalysis, but the main idea is that it is unnecessary for the developing mind to internalize the good, only the bad. The securely attached child is more adventurous, spontaneous, and free, whereas the insecure child becomes much more attached to the very source of his insecurity. You've probably heard the cliche that bereavement is generally much more complicated when the relationship was a negative or ambivalent one, and this is the reason why. In general, pathological relationships are kept in place by a host of unconscious tentacles with hidden agendas, reaching back and forth, holding the couple together with what might be called (-p), or negative passion...
At any rate, Fukuyama was essentially updating the classical liberal ideal of history, or what Coons call darwhiggian evolution. It may be contrasted with the post-modern badeal of historical meaninglessness, which in turn, is actually similar to primitive cosmologies, which either view the cosmos as a cyclical and unprogressive pattern of “eternal return” or as a degenerate process of departure and increasing distance from an idyllic past. Only with the Hebrew approach to history did mankind begin to discern a vector or direction in history, and with it, a sense of history’s purpose. That is, for the first time, history was seen as trying to get somewhere, and was looked upon as somehow interacting with sOmething on a “vertical” plane -- a trans-subjective force which both intervened in history and drew human beings toward it.
Later, Christianity would develop an explicitly logoistic theory of history, embodying the belief in a literal descent of this vertical power into the stream of horizontal time, so as to forge a concrete link between the vertical and horizontal -- between spirit and flesh, time and eternity, O and (•). To say that "God became man" or "Word became flesh" is just another way of saying that the vertical -- the Absolute, timeless ground, outside time and anterior to manifestation -- poured itself into material form and chronological time -- not just in a single human being, but in the whole upward "flow" of humanity.
Only humans can serve as a bridge between the higher and lower planes that are manifest in the outward process of history. Indeed, this is our vocation and purpose: to nurture and grow the seed of eternity within the womb of time. (This is not dissimilar to the Jewish concept of Tikkun -- of participating in the repair and completion of God's creation.)
To contemporary observers, the life of Jesus, or of the Hebrew prophets, was invisible. This is highly instructive. That is, the most important and influential events in human history were completely undetected and overlooked by contemporary sophisticates. Rather, they were noticed only by a handful of provincial rubes who "saw" and "heard," not with their eyes and ears, but in a trans-cerebral, intuitive manner.
What great world-historical events are invisible to the jaded elites of the present? What great vertical energies are entering the world today, undetected by a spiritually oblivious mainstream media, so hypnotized by the spectacle of time and blind to the eternal? The MSM, in thrall to the tyranny of the momentary, doesn't just promote this or that stupid idea. Rather, being that "the medium is the message," its central message is always the same -- that the Aion is broken into a million little disconnected fragments; that the world is deeply bizarre, insane, and perversely anti-human; and yet, at the same time, as trivial and fleeting as the speed of a thumb on the remote control.
The world is always ending, but perpetually being reborn. If that weren't true, mankind would never have found the exit out of its closed circle of material and instinctual existence. I am reminded of a passage from Joseph Campbell's Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake:
"The Wake, in its lowest estimate, is a huge time capsule, a complete and permanent record of our age. If our society should go smash tomorrow (which Joyce implies, it may) one could find all of the pieces, together with the forces that broke them, in Finnegans Wake. The book is a kind of terminal moraine in which lie buried all the myths, programs, slogans, hopes, prayers, tools, educational theories, and theological bric-a-brac of the past millennium. And here, too, will be found the love that reanimates the debris. Joyce's moraine is not the brickdust but humus.... Through notes that finally become tuneable to our ears, we hear Joyce uttering his resilient, all-enjoying, all animating Yes, the Yes of things yet to come, a Yes from beyond every zone of disillusionment, such as few have had the heart to utter."

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