What’s to be Done: On Holy Indifference Pt.2
The second part of Mihai Marinescu’s account on the ills of postmodernity and how to cure them.
Read the part one.
Statement: If you don’t keep yourself informed about what’s going on in the world you will lose contact with reality
Implicit premise: If it’s in the media it is important, if it is important it is in the media.
So you are absolutely positive that something going on in a place whose name you cannot even pronounce properly and which you would have difficulty pointing on a map is more important than what’s going on in your life and immediate surroundings. And what do people achieve through the practice of keeping pace with the media’s ever-moving image- other than outrage and anger of no consequences for the better over things that have no bearing on their life?
Statement: I’m not filling my time productively, the more I struggle to keep up, the more I’m running out of time.
Implicit premise: Time is an empty container which we must fill with all sorts of events. The relation between time and events is the same as that between a box and a multitude of objects which we can throw in at random.
Perhaps in no other respect is the negative impact of modern technology so obvious than it is with regard to time and the way we experience it. Practically, starting from the time of the discovery of electricity and of the invention of rapid means of transportation and communication there has been an increasing alienation in the mind of the modern man in his relation to time and space and with it an alienation in regards to his own being as well. Time and space are the fundamental conditions of corporeal existence, but in this globalized cesspool which we inhabit we think of them as mere quantifiable abstractions which we must continually and more efficiently exploit in order to use them properly.
In regards to space, those living in a big city probably know this expression: an empty field is an “unexploited space”, an empty space which must be quickly filled (preferably by a concrete or glass and steel monstrosity), otherwise it is “wasted”.
The same applies to time: it is viewed as a formless container which we exploit by filling it with all sorts of events.
A well exploited time is a productive time which produces “added value” in your life. The single difference between time and space is that the former is not static, like the latter. So time is more like an empty conveyor belt (and this comparison, I believe, is more than adequate to express the mentality modern world) on which you must place at every moment all sorts of objects (which correspond to events) otherwise it would remain empty and, in such a case, it would be called that you have wasted your time, by leaving it unexploited, without any value adding activity.
This is the technocratic and corporate jargon that has penetrated almost every corner of our lives.
And it is another example of how technological inventions are never neutral. The way smartphones have entered and distorted every aspect of social living stems from the conception outlined above: you can’t just sit still and wait for the bus, perhaps look casually around and, in general, do nothing. You must fill-in these empty moments with activities: like browsing Facebook or listening to the radio or on-line shopping and so on. Now with the talk about “augmented reality” (!!!) you will get the occasion to be completely separated from all reality at all places and times.
Now to the correct and real conception of time.
It is very frequently said that while the pagans viewed time as cyclical, Abrahamic religions – Christianity included, view it as linear.
This is an oversimplification and even worse than that. It is completely false.
It is true that Christianity focuses more on the Eschaton and so stresses the limited nature of time in that it has a beginning and an end. Also, the Incarnation of the Son of God being a unique historical event of necessity puts to the forefront the “newness” and unrepeatable in history.
But this is not the whole story.
When Christian authors argued against the Platonists in late Antiquity the question was not so much about cyclical vs linear, but about some false conceptions which the ancients tended to favor: the transmigration of souls according to an impersonal law and the viewing of the world as eternal and of the same essence with its Creator.
During the arguments with the Patonists Christian authors tended to overstate some aspects which now, at a superficial glance, seem to confirm a strictly linear conception of time. But this is false and the differences between the two were not so great in every respect, especially when it comes to natural symbolism: take, for example, how both Plato (Republic, book 6) and St. John of Damascus (Homily to the Feast of Transfiguration) treat the symbolism of the Sun, as ruler over the visible world, as God is over the intelligible (and the whole cosmos), a symbol which, we shall see, is of utmost importance. Divine Revelation accessible to the Christians perfects the understanding of natural symbolism, accessible to all.
So we must look a little deeper.
In the Orthodox tradition we have what is called the typological interpretation of history, where some characters in the Old Testament are said to be types or partial types of those in the New Testament (this can be extended to all of history by the way, provided one has the discernment to see). For example, Joseph, David, Solomon and a plethora of others are said to be types of Christ. This is not merely a way of saying that they announce some event that is about to happen a little further down the line of time, but that they are types in so far as they incarnate an archetype, one or more attributes of Christ. The relation between type and archetype is vertical, instead of horizontal and hence it transcends time in so far that a later historical event is the cause of an earlier one.
We say that it is a paradigmatic cause, not an efficient one, understanding by this that it is the Purpose for which the respective past events took place. It is that which gives them final meaning.
So from the linear perspective events a,b,c,d etc form a causal chain which finally lead to event z, but from a higher perspective, this event z is also Z, the Cause and Purpose of all previous events, starting from a,b,c,d. This means that linear time, the time of cause and effect, although real on its own plain, is only an inferior aspect of the whole of time. For example, Christ’s Incarnation is part of the linear continuum of cause and effect and can be viewed as an effect of causes pre-existing it. But it is also, from this higher point of view, The Cause because of which all the previous events of linear time exist.
Perhaps this is best exemplified in the saying of John the Baptist: “He who comes after me [chronological in the linear time continuum] […] was before me [in vertical causality, from Eternity]”. (paraphrase from John, ch. 1). Also, Christ Himself, in chapter 8 of John: “Before Abraham was, I am”.
This is itself enough to make one pause and see that time, in the Christian conception, is multi-layered and not to be reduced to its most banal aspect- that of a single chain of linear cause and effect.
So how can the true conception of time need to be summed up? The truth about time can be found, at least partially, by simply looking around- literally; beginning from the visible world and arriving at what in Patristic literature is called natural contemplation or of contemplation of the hidden logoi/essences of nature.
There are basically two levels to be approached: one is that of natural time, the other is liturgical time. These two levels are by no means opposed to each other or separated, but are simply two different modes of being of one and the same thing, to the extent that we could say that the former is a reflection of the latter. Both are, however, opposed to the abstract time of the global mall.
Natural time depends, by necessity, on the movement of the Sun, which gives time its measure and quality. It also reveals the inseparable unity between time and space in the corporeal world, as evidenced by the words used in the old vocabulary of probably every language, or almost: namely, the same words are used to designate both the moments of day and the directions of space – Miazănoapte/Ponoć/Midnight/Mitternacht or Răsărit/Morgenland/Praskozorje/Sunrise. We also see that temporal events are revealed in spatial movement. Time is not directly perceptible to our senses, but it can be discerned from the movements in space.
The year is similarly divided into four phases or moments which correspond to the four moments of the day in that we could say that a single day mirrors the whole year or that the little cycle mirrors the greater cycle. (The only exceptions are the poles, where day and year are one and the same thing and which constitute a symbolism and gives rise to other complex insights in sacred geography, which would lead us too far away from the main topic). Cyclic does not mean circular, but spiraled, since events are never repeated, but the nature of events is analogous.
We see this in how each day unfolds. Each moment of the day is similar to the corresponding one in the previous day, but the two are not identical. This morning, however similar it might be to the one from yesterday is never the same- not in the atmospheric conditions, nor in the life of each individual. Two events may be said to be of the same nature, but always of different hypostasis (the use this last word may be improper here, but I think it conveys the correct idea), in the same way as two historical characters may have similar attributes and symbolize the same archetypes, though their mode of manifestation as revealed in the temporal and spatial order will always be unique to each. (It should be noted that through the term archteype, I am not making any allusion to psychologist theories of the likes of Jung, even though he may have intuited a partial truth which he muddled with post-modernist ideas. It is a fitting term and easier to understand in the contemporary context).
These simple observations lead us towards the understanding of natural symbolism and to the intuition of the archetypes working at each level of the cosmos according to a particular mode in each. We must note further, that in the book of Genesis it is said that the heavenly bodies through which we measure time were created on the fourth day in order to “divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs”, while day and night themselves were separated on the very first Day. The “signs” in this passage can have various meanings and one of them, I believe, is that the observable phenomena which we see working the in the corporal order have their corresponding manifestations on all cosmic levels. In other words, what we see as day, night, sunrise, sunset, solar culmination, the phases of the Moon, the revolution of the stars etc. all symbolize unseen events and principles working on higher, intelligible cosmic levels, as well as in the inner life of each person and in the cycles of history. We will return to these considerations shortly.
We should further note that in many Scriptural passages the writers took great care to note the time of day, even the hour, when certain events took place. This is particularly true in the New Testament, in events involving certain actions in Christ’s life and especially in the Passion.
So we now arrive at the subject of liturgical time. The liturgical life of the Church is a higher manifestation of what we see reflected in natural time. In the life of the Church, as well, we have liturgical days and seasons and all are part of the liturgical year- periods of fasts and feasts, which return every year but are never identical- though the same, they are always new, since the living out of the life in the Church is deeply personal and can never be reduced to some external, empirical standard.
The liturgical day begins at sunset and there are specially appointed services- minor or major- for each moment of the day. Each week is an image and reflection of Holy Week, which is called the re-creation of the world, with its themes being recapitulated in every other week of the year, according to different modalities, the measure being given by the eight musical tones into which the services throughout each week are sung, each getting its turn every ~2 months.
The yearly cycle with its four solar stations has its symbolism revealed in the life of the Church as well, through the words of John the Baptist “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30), which speak of the increasing of the Divine grace in man. So John the Baptist is celebrated on the 24th of June and 23rd of September, at the summer solstice and autumn equinox when the light is diminishing, while the Nativity of Christ and the Annunciation, of course, at the winter solstice and spring equinox, marking the beginning of the ascent of light and its gaining of supremacy. Easter and Pentecost are also related to spring and late spring, when vegetation and nature in general is reborn and blossoms.
The close intertwining of space and time is revealed here as well, namely in the equinoxial orientation of the Church: in the spatial order by the east-west orientation of the church building, always facing Sunrise and in the temporal order by the fact that the main services of the day are those corresponding to sunrise and sunset.
These principles of sacred architecture and sacred time have been preserved by all churches who, one way or another can trace their lineage back to Apostolic times (Orthodox, Catholics and the Oriental churches). Post-reformation denominations, which are basically an expression of modernity “while it still had some impulse towards religion” (R. Guenon) have gradually renounced, and in their most recent incarnations, completely jettisoned this sacred order of things (some going so far as not even celebrating feasts such as Christmas or Easter), considering these questions of orientation in space and time as of no importance or even pagan imports into the Church, as if the human being is nothing but a disembodied, abstract spirit, with no ground beneath his feet, nor celestial dome above his head.
The culmination of liturgical time and the Center around which every day and year is ordered is the Divine Liturgy, which theologians call “the in-breaking of the Kingdom of Heaven in history”, or the transfiguration of time into eternity. In the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom we hear things such as:
“…and when we had fallen away You raised us up again, and did not cease to do all things until You had brought us up to heaven, and had endowed us with Your kingdom which is to come.”
“Remembering […] all those things which have come to pass for us: the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into heaven, the Sitting at the right hand, and the second and glorious Coming”
This mixing of tenses and of speaking of the second Coming as an event which is being remembered indicates what was said above, that in the Liturgy time comes to its End, not chronologically, but ontologically, meaning that it is united with its Purpose. This is the reason why the different services speak about the events which are celebrated in the present tense, such as “Now, the Apostles of Christ have put on might and power from above […]”(from the Vespers on Pentecost Sunday). The same with Orthodox iconography, where different events are displayed in a golden background, symbolizing the uncreated light, indicating that the historical event is viewed in the light of eternity.
The reason why we went through all these extended illustrations is to show how a very different conception of time was once the general norm and also to dispel some simplistic rationalist conception which see nothing but politics or primitive naturalism behind all ritual and symbolism. It is now time to draw a conclusion.
Time in Christianity is by no means a simple line on a chain of simple cause and effect events, but the line- whose reality is never denied – is itself only the lowermost aspect, being part of a spiral, part of a circle, part of a sphere, which (the sphere, as a symbol of creation as a whole) is on a trajectory from simple existence to eternal existence, from Cause to Purpose, both being one and the same- the Son of God.
We can sum it all up by this quote from St. Maximos (be aware that the translation is my own), who says: “If the year unfolds for us according to the movement of the Sun, the year of the Lord’s favor (Lk 4,19), allegorically understood, symbolizes the whole order/extension of the aeons. […]” (Quote from Ambigua, section 122- worth reading in its entirety).
Another thing to be taken into consideration is that the whole “order of the aeons/ages” is reflected in every one of its minutest parts. This means that a day, a week, a month, a year and so on can be taken to symbolize the hidden law which acts throughout not only every human civilization or the whole of human history in general, but in all of the creation. It also reveals God’s hidden attributes and their working throughout the whole of creation. On top of all that, since creation is not a self-enclosed sphere, but it is open towards eternity, it means that every moment of time is, potentially at least, a possibility of transcending the temporal or of an in-breaking of eternity. “The Wise Thief didst Thou make worthy of Paradise, in a single moment, O Lord [..]” (Matins on Holy Friday)
We now come to the point of attempting to translate this to the situation of our daily lives.
First of all it means that the standard conception of time, to which we are used to, is, quite simply, a counterfeit, where time is reduced to empty quantity, without quality. The development of mechanical clocks gradually introduced this illusion, making each moment seem equal to any other, with no differentiating quality between them. They still partly retained a link to reality by having a round shape, after the shape of the heavenly sphere (Note that a square-shaped quadran is also correct, since the square is the geometric form corresponding to earth, understood as both our dwelling place and corporreal existence in general; and time is measured by corporreal phenomena). But though the outer shape was retained, the law acting within it was reduced to pure mechanicism. (Medieval clocks, on the other hand, like the astronomical clock of Prague, strived to carefully display all the intricacies of natural time, thus remaining grounded in reality as we experience it).
With the advent of the electronic watches/clocks time is reduced to an abstract numerical value, no longer having anything to do with any reality whatsoever: 10:58 is as good as 03:35 – symbolizing nothing, meaning nothing.
Also, from the advent of electricity onwards, we have become increasingly detached from all natural, objective conditions, sunrise and sunset becoming two irrelevant events, hardly ever observed. The seasons too became and are continually becoming increasingly meaningless. All this gave rise to an alienated conception, where time is a mere abstract container waiting to be filled with all sorts of events, regardless of their nature. The most precious thing that was lost with this is the notion of the right time- which is an extension of what we have called qualitative time, meaning that some periods of time are more favorable to realizing some things rather than others. We have also lost the sense of order and of our participation to the cosmic rhythm. We do not realize anymore, for example, how the workings of our bodies (especially) and our souls have different ebbs and flows connecting to the different phases of the day or year and to the movement of celestial bodies. What was obvious and natural for a person living in previous times, comes in our day and age to be viewed as mere primitive superstition from “the childhood of our race”.
The modern world is a place of chaos and confusion where no order can be distinguished and everything is upside down. We are active during the night and sleep until noon, we eat fresh tomatoes and fruit in the middle of the winter, we do everything in a frenetic haste, demanding that everything be accomplished at once, never realizing that some things need to have their time to grow and be ripe for picking. Regardless if it is summer or winter, our daily schedules are unchanged. Life in the metropolis follows the same rhythm indifferent to the season or time of year. The insanity of globalist economy demands that some people do night shifts in order to synchronize with those living on the other side of the globe – whom they will never meet in person (and what the hell, people are infinitely adaptable, right?). On top of all this, we are always obsessed with running out of time, with not having enough time for anything; and we victimize ourselves by regarding ourselves as mere “products of our times”, a simple accident in a whole chain of cause and effect, with no control over our lives.
This is the abstract time of post-modernism, the time of agendas and punctuality, of deadlines and productivity.
Reality is, luckily, extremely different. To live in time means to live in a world of events. Time is not an empty void waiting for us to be filled with events, but each moment of time is itself an event, having a certain nature and presenting us with a whole plethora of attributes. There is no such thing as an “idle time”, when “nothing is happening” (any more that there is an empty void or “unexploited” space) since things are happening at every moment. The fact that you exist and breathe is an event of cosmic significance and the question is not to be in a state of mindless agitation about how to “fill <your> (?) time productively” but how to be present to yourself at every moment and regardless of the external activity which you happen to be performing, to be and live in the present (instead of being absent-minded continuously thinking about future points scheduled on your checklist). It is what in the hesychast tradition is called “wakefulness”. It is the realization that time is never wasted and that each moment of time is an opportunity to increase one’s participation in authentic existence, which is an existence within the order of God’s providence. The only waste of time is the time outside of this Providence, the time when our consciousness sinks in the swamp of the passions. An example of this is the time used in contemplating vain ambitions and an over-obsession with own goals (regardless of their nature) dictated wholly by the passions or done with a self-centered purpose in mind. It is then that we fall from authentic life and existence and end up at the bottom where only an impersonal, deterministic chain of cause and effect rules and where we are constantly frustrated, furious and embittered when external events happen that ruin our plans for the day, when we feel that our time is being stolen.
As for how we can increase our participation in authentic time, the practical advice we can find in the wisdom of the past and liturgical tradition is to attempt to – what I like to call – “cosmicize time”, that is to turn – however partially – our confused notion into cosmic order. This means that we must rediscover how time unfolds and how we are part of this unfolding. This will lead us to understand that visible phenomena have corresponding, analogical phenomena within ourselves. To the rise of the Sun outside corresponds a sunrise inside. It is well recognized – and everyone can test this into practice – that three hours of sleep before midnight are qualitatively superior to three hours after that event. Going to sleep in the morning makes rarely for a good rest. Eating at midnight and going to sleep after that does not look like a very healthy habit. In short, everyone can discover for himself how each period of day or year affects him differently. Those who write know that their style and inspiration at evening or by night is very different from that of morning or high noon. Also, prayer isn’t so well flowing at midday as it is at midnight. Each can also notice that time also flows differently at different stages of the day and in different stages of life.
In short, we must detach a little from the mental framework created by technological conveniences and try to observe the world as it is. The inward state of accepting whatever the day brings with gratitude towards God, who we believe knows better what is truly useful for us- instead of complaining that the plans have been ruined- is a sine qua non condition.
Rising to a level above that of disordered flux and frenetic haste, one can find that this haste actually leads him nowhere and is therefore fruitless and meaningless. In a moment of inner silence, one can discover that everything is as it should be and moving according to the correct pace. In this state, daily lives can be governed and mastered in such a way that a lot more can be accomplished- even in exterior, quantifiable results- than in the state of desperate search for “efficient time-management”, which is nothing but the noise of the passions within. If only we could remain in this state longer and not fall back into confusion.
While participation in the liturgical life is essential, there is also something that each person living in post-modernity should definitely do, a type of post-modern blasphemy: namely, take some time each day and – horror of horrors – DO NOTHING! Sabotage your schedule deliberately. Of course, I am not talking about falling into a kind of stupor, but of doing as commanded in Psalm 45 (Septuagint): “Be still and know that I am God”. At the very least you will discover that some things are worth postponing for a few minutes or that your daily ambitions are not that vital. For example, as you are busy taking care of some daily task and you notice that the Sun is about to set, don’t just simply turn around to turn on the lights and continue as if nothing has happened, thus wasting a favorable moment, but stop what you’re doing and contemplate. You have the chance to witness the whole drama of the Sun’s descent into the underworld. Observe how the light acquires the purple-red quality, reminding one of the same colors at sunrise- though now with a clearly distinguishable melancholic quality. At the end of the cycle, the end reflects the beginning, but in a different mode. The melancholy though, is always accompanied by the promise of rebirth. If you’re not lucky enough to live where all this is visible, then at least go outside and observe how light gradually diminishes and retreats westwards. And as the first stars appear you see that there is this moment of in-betweenness, when it is neither night, nor day. In this moment of transition, if have ears to listen, you might hear the song of the first Day of creation. If not, you could at least delight yourself with this beautiful vesperial hymn.
As this subject is very complex many nuances and necessary explanations had to be left out. As further reading on this topic I would recommend:
Regarding the geocentric perspective, which is part of this whole argumentation and usually raising immediate objections, but also about the alienating quality of modern cosmology: This series of articles written by Jonathan Pageau (Orthodox artist and writer- I have linked only the first article, the links to the others can be found there, right at the beginning). Also, Dr. Wolfgang Smith (reputable physicist and traditionalist): his Wisdom of ancient cosmology, chapters 8 and 9.
Also, Jean Borella (Catholic philosopher) – The crisis of religious symbolism (the first chapter more to the point, but the whole book is very good).
Also very good for a traditional cosmology and the understanding of qualified time and space: Rene Guenon– The reign of quantity…(chapters 1-7)
As for symbolism cosmology, liturgics and various other things discussed here:
St. Maximos the Confessor- Ambigua, his 200 Theological chapters and Mystagogia
Statement: Unless we act, our civilization is doomed (and we along with it). We must do whatever it takes.
Implicit premises: Man is in charge of history, there is no God, or else is doing (or can) do nothing to help us. The ends justify the means, we are all-knowledgeable because we are certain of what’s going to happen in the future
There are few things which are more modern than an activist and revolutionary mentality. This is, however, intrinsically tied to the mentality of the Enlightenment. The idea of man as the creator and master of history is deeply atheistic (or deistic) and also deeply profane. It first of all assumes that the world and history are closed systems, in which nothing from the outside can enter and change the course of events. As such, it assumes that based on the current state of events and tendencies, we can predict with certainty how the future will look. This is evidenced by technology geeks who are very certain how the future will unfold and also by some of their opponents who agree with the on the outcome, but view it with horror instead of enthusiasm. The truth is, we cannot know anything of how the future will unfold, even the near future. Even in potentially identifiable factors, there are so many things that we might have missed or dismissed as unimportant but which will influence the future more than we imagine. Also, we are not in charge of history or its outcomes, this was a generally well-known truth in the pre-modern world; instead we can only strive to do whatever is appointed to us in each of our given situations, striving always to keep an eye on God’s commandments. Some can do more than others, but the final outcome is not within the power of any of the human agents involved. The ultimate outcomes in history are in God’s hands alone.
Secondly, it assumes that politics is the main arena where the battle must be conducted, displaying the typically activist contempt for all contemplative or ascetical tendencies- or otherwise thinks that one has to look into such things only when the “external” victory has been reached. In reality, the outside arena is a projection of the one inside- the only one where victory really matters. Winning in political disputes is a luxury. As someone said, it is a typical feature of the modern man to always want to reform others and never himself. But even so, an objection can be raised: are we to resign in complete quietistical passivity and stop caring about anything in the outside world?
In reality, we are not talking about staying passive and refusing to care or get involved. If anyone is in the position to act, he should do so. Being someone without any power or significance in the world, I can offer no practical advice.
What I can say, however, is that we must rather eradicate the globalist mentality, where only events and actions on the planetary scale are important and instead ground ourselves and be present in our immediate local environment, to the extent this is possible.
As for the social setting, it is fitting to say this: good laws and reforms never make one a better person, just create a more stable general situation in which, those who put in the effort for it, might find it easier to achieve virtue and an authentic life. The opposite is not, however, true: bad laws do make worse persons as can be seen in our hyper-liberal, degenerate state of things. So it is not wrong to hope for a return to healthier conditions and to a more normal way of life, and there is no reason to suppose that this state of things will go on forever and only increase in intensity, so there is no reason to give up all hope and wait for the apocalypse. What can be done concretely- this is a subject to be considered for those who, one way or another, find themselves in the position to act in this manner.
But one thing must always be remembered: if, say, you are disgusted by modern liberalism, even if you have power of any kind or not, you owe it to yourself to fight against the footholds of the afore mentioned liberalism within yourself.
The main problem here is to escape the world-view created by the mass-media spectacle. Being emerged in it, makes it very easy to believe that one’s actions in life are only important if they are big enough to be in the media or some equivalents of it. It is like saying, for example, don’t give alms to random poor people on the street, instead create an NGO and make megalomaniac plans to eradicate world hunger.
A third and last thing we should note: a desperate state of mind regarding today’s society usually leads to dubious alliances and to clinging to false prophets and political opportunists. We see this today where traditionally-minded people place their hopes on former KGB officers or cynical, post-modernist movements which do not differ in any essential way from their opponents. This happens because people take a look at symptoms, at external accidents and not on the essence. So, for example, if I am against liberalism and so is the neo-pagan New Right or also the Alt-Right, it would be a stupid mistake to consider these my allies, since the reasons why each of us is against liberalism are fundamentally different.
(It is enough to take a casual glance on the amalgam of books and authors published by Arktos Media to be convinced that you are dealing with a post-modernist movement with no positive center and, should such movements acquire any significant influence, they can lead to nothing better).
But some like to lend their support to these movements or false leaders, hoping that once the success has been achieved the better people will take control. This, as political struggles usually have shown, is almost never the case, the worse elements usually gaining the upper hand.
As for the ends justifying the means, I would say that the archons of the air (Ephesians, 6) don’t really worry too much about the political label or the declared ends of the ones doing evil, as long as evil is being done.
In closing this section I highly recommend, on this very topic, Ernst Jünger’s novel, Heliopolis. It is a novel motivated by Jünger’s own disappointment with the German “conservative revolution” and which demonstrates how the good which is always in opposition to evil, as opponents fighting on the same plane (such as knowledge of good and evil, in Gen. 3) can never be written with a capital “G” and is not really worth sacrificing everything.
Statement: You don’t agree with me? Let’s have a debate!
Implicit premises: Through debates we can change the world.
The first thing I don’t like about these gladiators who are always looking to provoke to a verbal duel- which is a debate- is that they tend to come to think that verbally expressing their beliefs is an end in itself. A religious debater comes to think he is doing God’s work through “witness” brought on the internet by provoking to debates all sorts of different persons- from infidels to heretics. He also naively thinks that unbelief or false beliefs are rooted in logical or rational errors rather a certain state of the heart, the inner state of being that is. When this is the case, even if you present all the correct logical arguments, the one so affected will always find a way to reject them. Two persons who hold radically opposed view points, who talk from radically opposed mental frameworks, will be unable to form an intelligible dialogue, but will rather talk in parallel monologues, with no possibility of a meeting point.
An inner experience, or at least an impulse born either out of disappointment, or necessity or of anything else, is always required in order for someone to listen to arguments. In other words, he needs to already be convinced, before any rational arguments can convince him.
In this way, actually incarnating in your life the principles you profess in speech, will do a lot more to provoke that inner impulse into someone, than all the debates in the world. As one hieromonk once said : “never try to convert someone’s mind, but his heart”.
One final point here: there are, apparently, some examples of people who actually converted or radically changed their world-view as a result of a debate or some video on Youtube. This, however, is actually a very unfavorable sign. Life-changing decisions usually come in the context of real life situations, which can completely shake one’s foundation of beliefs. If anyone makes such a radical leap on account of something so trivial as a Youtube video, it is only a sign of either instability or of treating everything as a commodity. It is very likely, in these cases, that the beliefs will change again some time soon, after doing some more browsing.
Statement: If you really desire something, the whole universe will work to realize your wish.
Implicit premises: My desires are so important that the whole universe needs to see to their fulfillment.
Variations of this theme tend to also add that the “Universe” is somehow indebted to realize one’s desire if it is strong enough and if he puts in all the effort to try. Of course, these desires are also of a very egotistic and sometimes fantastical sort.
New age babble, which more or less penetrated throughout society at large. Bad news! Your desires are worthless. The universe couldn’t care less about such trivialities!
Statement: Why spend your time with all of this complicated stuff? Just stop caring and have fun as if there is no tomorrow.
Implicit premises: Hedonism will make all the bad stuff go away.
Ps. 82: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all children of the Most High. But ye die as men…” (through sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll)!
Statement: My will is the supreme justification for everything.
Implicit premises: I am god.
“…and fall as one of the princes [=archons]”
Luciferian downfall – ugly stuff.
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