Playing the Indian Card

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Story of Isaac







One of the most troubling passages in the Bible is the story of the binding of Isaac: Abraham setting off up Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son.

Traditionally, in Christianity, Abraham is portrayed here as passing a test of faith: obeying God’s command no matter what. This is because it is explained in this way, as evidence of Abraham’s great faith, in the New Testament: Hebrews 11: 17-19.

But this does not seem to make sense on its face. How, after all, did Abraham know it was God’s voice speaking to him? We are advised to “test the spirits,” and calling on him to do an immoral act should have been proof positive that the voice he heard was not God, but the Devil. God, being all-good, cannot command an immoral act. 



I, on a close reading, conclude that Abraham must have understood from the beginning that there was no chance Isaac was actually going to be sacrificed, that God had told him so. It was all done for show, in the context of a surrounding society that practiced child sacrifice, and would expect such a thing.

But then, the question arises; why is child sacrifice or infanticide so much a feature of so many cultures?

Jewish commentators find the passage similarly disturbing; and are less inclined than Christian commentators to give Abraham a pass.

Leonard Cohen wrote a song about it, “The Story of Isaac,” in which he accuses Abraham of simple malice towards his son:

A scheme is not a vision
And you never have been tempted
By a demon or a god.

In doing so, Cohen suggests that Abraham represents and is acting out an eternal urge: the parent’s feelings toward their child are always ambivalent. The child, after all represents the parent’s own mortality. The child will gather strength as the parent’s strength wanes, and one day will supplant them. The child looks like a dangerous rival. At least, to a narcissistic parent.

When it all comes down to dust
I will kill you if I must
I will help you if I can.
When it all comes down to dust
I will help you if I must
I will kill you if I can.

Cohen seems to see this in his own childhood. He makes Isaac nine years old—the same age he was when his father died. He speaks then from Isaac’s perspective. He explains, in an interview, that at that point in his own life it seemed to him that it was “either him or me.” If his father had not died, he would have.

This seems to say Cohen was abused in his early childhood. This might explain, in turn, his lifelong struggles with depression.

Cohen, writing the song during the Vietnam War, suggests such an impulse to kill the young may be behind the urge to war: the old men send off the young to die.

You who build these altars now
To sacrifice these children,
You must not do it anymore.

.. have mercy on this uniform,
Man of peace or man of war.
"It has fathers and sons in it and sacrifice and slaughter, and an extremely honest statement at the end. It does say something about fathers and sons and that curious place, generally over the slaughtering block where generations meet and have their intercourse. I think probably that I did feel [when I wrote it] that one of the reasons that we have wars was so the older men can kill off the younger ones, so there’s no competition for the women. Also, completely remove the competition in terms of their own institutional positions."
Cohen’s take may shock, but is in fact confirmed by fairy tale after fairy tale: it is the underlying theme, for example, of Snow White, or Beauty and the Beast, or Cinderella, or Hansel and Gretel, or Rapunzel.

We pretend it is not there, we are in denial as a civilization, as we abort our young in vast numbers, but it is inevitably there.


Monday, June 29, 2020

More on Statue-Tipping and Bust Trusting


Image of unknown provenance forwarded by Diana Roney
The statue hysteria continues. I learn of local initiatives to rename Winston Churchill Road and Dundas Street. 

These examples show clearly enough how illegitimate the entire enterprise has been. Strike out the name of Winston Churchill? The man who, less than a century ago, saved civilization?

It seems to me conceptually impossible to pull down Churchill without, implicitly, endorsing Adolph Hitler and all the latter stood for. That is the necessary symbolism. Anything else about Churchill must pale in comparison. And those who want to do so, at some level, know this. At some level, they prefer Hitler.

Just as those who pulled down statues during the Cultural Revolution did so implicitly in support of Mao Zedong, a worse mass murderer than Hitler. Just as Winston Smith put inconvenient history down the memory hole. Pulling down the heroes of the past is, again symbolically, pulling down all restraints on behavior in the present.

And Dundas Street? That would, in the first place, be viciously destructive. Yonge-Dundas Square has become the symbolic heart of the city; it would be like, in New York, renaming Times Square, or, in London, Piccadilly Circus.

Henry Dundas was a leading Scottish abolitionist. I would assume this is why he was commemorated here, by Lord Simcoe, another passionate abolitionist. As a barrister, Dundas got slavery declared illegal in Scotland; his summation was historic, praised by Boswell and Johnson. 

Henry Dundas, First Viscount Melville.


"As Christianity gained ground in different nations, slavery was abolished … I hope for the honour of Scotland, that the supreme court of this country would not be the only court that would give its sanction to so barbarous a claim.…. Human nature, my Lords, spurns at the thought of slavery among any part of our species.”

Then he shepherded legislation through the Commons to ban it throughout the British Empire.

It is hard to interpret removing his recognition as anything other than a tacit endorsement of slavery. The official alibi is that he sponsored an amendment to the anti-slavery bill to make its abolition “gradual.” This was transparently a strategic move: the bill had previously been soundly defeated without this amendment. By adding it, he got the bill through.

This is not worthy of our respect? It can only be attributed to envy. There is no other possible explanation. These men are to be brought down not because they did something wrong, but because they did something very right.

So what are we to do for our fellow citizens who say they are offended by having to see these statues?

I have often heard the suggestion in recent days that such controversial statues should be moved to museums, out of the public eye. This is not a practical solution; the statues are too large and too numerous to be exhibited in the typical existing. Realistically, if they are not simply to be mothballed, you’d have to build a lot of new, specially designed museum space.

Most of these statues were originally private donations to the public, financed by public subscription. If some of us want to be protected from them, then fairness and decency dictates at a minimum that such people should show respect for their fellow citizens, and for the generosity of the original donation, by funding the construction of some new museum space to exhibit them in a suitably dignified manner. And the cost of moving them.

I do not see anyone setting up such crowdfunding sites.

Someone suggests they be replaced with statues of Jesus. Surely we can all agree on Jesus as a good man? One would think so, but of course, the demand came only a few days ago to smash all images of Jesus.

Nor is the demand new. When it comes to the public square, it was where this all began. Years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled against displays of religion in the public space. On the perfectly spurious grounds of “separation of church and state,” a concept that appears nowhere in either the US or Canadian constitution, but was read in by the courts. Jesus was actually the first figure we tore down, as well as the ultimate target. Perhaps all else has followed.

Another suggestion often heard currently is “replaquing.” The government is supposed to put new plaques on such “controversial” statues to give a balanced view.

I doubt this idea is workable, and it is disturbing to begin with: it is the government telling us what to think. Those who, say, admire Columbus as a fellow Italian, will probably see such a plaque as a defacing of his monument. Those who think he was a monster will probably not be mollified by such a plaque, so long as the statue still stands—after all, a statue does not necessarily imply unqualified or even qualified support in the first place. Only that the figure is culturally or historically important, worth remembering.

There is a simpler solution, if those who dislike the statues were prepared to respect their neighbours. Simply let people develop enhanced reality apps keyed to all such monuments, locally or nationally, offering a choice of politically acceptable interpretations to interested onlookers. Those who are passionately opposed to Winston Churchill can happily point their smartphones at his effigy, and hear all about the horrible fellow he was. While those who cherish his memory can point their cell phones, and hear a selection of his great speeches. 

She

Something like that has actually long been done with public monuments in Asia. For any given major cultural site, there seems to be a Buddhist interpretation, a Taoist interpretation, a Hindu interpretation, a Confucian interpretation, a Muslim interpretation, and/or a Christian interpretation. This foot print on a mountaintop was left by Adam; or it is Rama’s; or the Buddha’s. This figure is Kwan Yin, the goddess of Mercy; or it is the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, or it is Mary, the mother of Jesus. As you prefer.

Civilized people do not tear down art. Civilized people do not tear down one another’s most precious memories.


Ozymandias



Here's my friend Jack Rigg reading the classic Shelley poem.

Your mileage may vary, as they say, but to my mind, nobody does a better job at a dramatic reading than Jack.  It's a tricky thing to do: the dramatics makes you want to do one thing, and the rhythms of the poem make you want to do another. It's tough to strike the right balance.

Jack could do a master class.



Sunday, June 28, 2020

Public Art


Nelson's Column, Monttreal
Okay, people are saying they are offended by statues. 

The remedy is the same as with freedom of speech: if you disagree, put up your own statue. Just as, if you disagree, you do not try to silence the other, but counter his argument.

Like many other places in the former British Empire, Montreal has a Nelson’s Column, commemorating the great British admiral.

In Dublin, they blew theirs up, to express their distaste for English rule.

The Quebecois, surely, had more reason to feel offended, since, after all, it was France against which Nelson won his victories. But they hose the civilized Canadian way. Instead of tearing Nelson down, as they surely could have any time in the past hundred years, they put up another statue nearby, of Vauquelin, a French naval hero of the Seven Years’ War. Both ethnic groups get their heroes. 



The Confederate statues, like them or not, are important memorials for some Americans of their history. If seeing them offends some, it is equally true that seeing them come down offends others. Mutual respect requires that they stay.

But by all means, all other groups ought to feel free to fund and erect their own public statues, then, of Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King, or John Brown, or Nat Turner, or Sitting Bull, or Pontiac, or, really, anyone else..

More public art is good. Less public art is bad. More free speech is good. Less free speech is bad.

This is not complicated.


The Inside Line on the US Presidential Election





Scott Adams has passed on an interesting theory: that since the advent of TV, the winner of the US Presidential election has always been the candidate who looks as though they could win in a fistfight or brawl. I had noticed before that the taller candidate usually wins. People perhaps instinctively look to the physically stronger candidate as the natural leader, as he would be in a wolf pack.

Trump-Clinton – Trump. This theory suggests that female leaders are at a permanent disadvantage.

Obama-Romney – Adams sees this as a tossup. But I think Obama would win on physical dexterity. He had and has a bit of a reputation as a basketball player. Romney moves stiffly.

Obama-McCain – Obama. McCain has to lose on the grounds of age and disability.

Kerry-Bush – I’m not sure it would have been Bush in a fair fight, but he gave the impression of being more physical. Kerry did not have an athletic build.

Gore-Bush – also hard to call. And so was the election. Gore looks bigger. Bush might have the edge since, at one of the debates, Gore tried to crowd him physically, and Bush did not budge. Making him look like the tougher candidate. Gore moved stiffly.

Clinton-Dole – Clinton, easily, on age alone, let alone Dole’s disability, and Clinton’s physical agility.

Clinton-Bush – Clinton, again on age alone.

Bush-Dukakis – Dukakis was short and looked silly in a tank. Bush.

Reagan-Mondale – Surely should have been Mondale, based on age. But Reagan played a tough guy in the movies; and he may still have projected strength, thanks to his acting ability.

Reagan-Carter – Carter was short; visually a pipsqueak. Reagan.

Carter-Ford – should have been Ford, by this metric. Ford was a college athlete. Carter was Carter. But the critical factor might have been that Ford moved clumsily. The general impression might have been that he was too stiff and had slow reflexes—Obama’s probable advantage over Romney. He would have been outboxed.

Nixon-McGovern – McGovern was lanky, an unathletic build. And had a voice similar to Liberace’s.

Nixon-Humphrey – Nixon. Humphrey was overweight.

Johnson-Goldwater – at first glance, should have been Goldwater. Johnson was a bit overweight. But he was physically huge, and did give an impression of physical strength and toughness.

Kennedy-Nixon – Kennedy wins on vim and vigor.

If the metric is good, Trump should win this time. He has a tough guy image, and Biden is looking frail.

Does the same metric work in Canadian elections?

It would explain Trudeau’s win in 2015: he had made a splash by winning a charity boxing match. I think it is a fair assumption he could take Harper or Mulcair in an alley.

In 2019, he probably could have taken Scheer. Singh seems less certain but Singh is third party. Bernier might have taken him, had the Conservatives chosen Bernier.

I think Harper could have taken Ignatieff easily—Ignatieff, like McGovern or Kerry, was long and lanky, not an athletic build. Harper might have had trouble with Layton, and perhaps that explains the Orange Wave.

Harper could have taken Dion, who was again an academic, not an athletic, type.

He could have taken Martin, who was a bit long in the tooth. But he lost the first time, won the second. It might have taken that long because of the tumult on the right wing in Canadian politics.

Stockwell Day should have taken Chretien. Chretien had a tough guy image, but age should have favoured Day. Again, the tumult on the right with parties rising and falling may have been an overriding factor.

And so on. Not a perfect metric, but a possibly significant one.

Based on it, who would be the better choice to lead the Conservatives?

I may be biased, but I’d say O’Toole. He is a bit overweight, but he looks strong and compact. His military background should help. MacKay has a bit of the lankiness that seems to have hurt other candidates.

Unfortunately, I’d expect Trudeau, with his demonstrated boxing skills, to take either of them; but it would be more of a contest with O’Toole.

Lewis presumably loses as a woman, although she looks strong for a woman. And Sloan does not look at all athletic. Is there such a thing as a Gamma male?

CANZUKBIMS




Canzuk may or may not be gaining momentum—the proposal for free trade and free movement among Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. An advocate points out that these four countries are especially compatible not only because they share the same language, the same governmental system, and the same legal system, but because they are all close in GDP per capita.

On that basis, a few more smaller nations qualify for membership: Ireland, the Bahamas, Malta, and Singapore.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

On Listening to the Experts



Horse, as designed by committee.
A friend—not Xerxes—has written a piece for the BC Catholic on how to decide who to believe in the midst of conflicting claims about the coronavirus, or systemic racism, or homosexuality. His points are thoughtful. But his overall conclusion is essentially to “trust the experts.”

I disagree. Expertise is worth something, but our characteristic fault is in trusting the experts too much, not too little.

This is the lesson of the New Testament. The experts then were of course the scribes and Pharisees.

Our experience of the pandemic leaves me, at least, less inclined to trust the experts than I was at the New Year.

WHO, representing the global scientific consensus, early advised that wearing masks did no good, and probably did harm. The CDC in the US said the same. So did the Canadian medical authorities.

Several maverick laypeople I follow on YouTube, political commentators rather than medical experts, asserted the opposite immediately: that it was simply common sense that masks were a good idea.

I went with the experts instead. Now I feel foolish.

The lay YouTubers were right; and the scientific authorities were either wrong or deliberately misleading. Masks are hugely important.

The explanation seems to have been—Dr. Fauci in the US, for one, has admitted it—that the authorities saw a shortage of masks, and wanted to make sure there were enough for medical personnel. So they lied. A forgivable motive, perhaps, but it means that they were presenting a political decision as a scientific one. And listening to them instead of the mavericks, for the layman, was a mistake.

The WHO, and the scientific authorities in Canada, the US, Korea, and elsewhere, insisted for a long time that flights from China should continue. My same few YouTube commentators insisted very early that shutting down travel from Chine was just common sense.

Now everyone has shut it down. It seems clear that the original advice was based not on medical or scientific grounds, but on economic and political considerations. Yet it was the medical authorities who said this.

My friend points out that the experts have the right and the duty to change their minds with new evidence; but this does not seem to be the case here. Objectively, it took them a long time to come around to what common sense would have told us to do promptly had they not been involved.

Yes, as he pleads, they can’t test everything immediately. Still, how do they decide what to test?

A YouTuber I follow pointed early to the possible significance of Vitamin D deficiency in producing the severest symptoms. An early clinical study from Indonesia suggested this. Yet no studies; not even any admission from the official sources that this might be a factor.

Again, we had very early indications from Thailand and China that hydroxychloroquine and zinc were effective when given early in combination. There have been studies since of chloraquine, hydroxychloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine given late to the most serious cases; yet no studies of the precise regimen initially reported to work. This begins to look suspicious.

In the meantime, remdesivir was quickly tested and approved, even though its apparent utility is marginal.

Why the difference?

The obvious answer is that there is no money in Vitamin D or hydroxychloroquine or zinc; they are cheap and readily available. Remdesivir, by contrast, is under patent.

It looks very much, here, as though the priority of the medical/scientific establishment is not to find truth or to save lives, but to make money.

We have generally labored under the delusion that scientists are superior beings, not influenced by such petty concerns as wealth or power. Even though achieving wealth and power is an obvious incentive for anyone to enter the medical sciences in the first place.

But there is no reason to suppose doctors or scientists are intrinsically more moral individually or as a group than politicians, or salesmen, or auto mechanics. They simply operate with less oversight. They are largely left alone to self-govern.

We have been naïve.

And this makes my friend’s advice “When you’re trying to figure out what to believe, pay as little attention as you can to which ‘side’ a claim apparently serves, and you probably won’t go too far wrong” strikingly bad.

This is exactly what we need to start to ask: “cuo bono?”

What is called science is entirely likely instead to be politics, or a profit-making scheme. How, given human nature, could it not be so?

My pal warns us to “Look for teamwork”:

“The problems posed by COVID-19 are enormously complex. No one person understands enough to solve more than a small piece of the puzzle. Each member of a team contributes different skills and perspectives. Before a team publishes anything, its members have already caught and corrected countless mistakes. Mavericks often make foolish errors because they’ve missed out on constructive criticism they could have received by working with well-informed colleagues.”

I find that too to have been, in the present crisis, demonstrably bad advice. The handful of Internet mavericks I have followed have been consistently better guides than the WHO, the CDC, or other official sources. The loners seem to be right every time.

Why is that? For the contrary logic seems reasonable: many heads are better than one.

I think my friend is missing a factor or two. To begin with, all humans are not of equal intelligence.

The average person is necessarily of average intelligence; any work by committee draws everything towards the mediocre.

Surely, you might object, the other members of a group would at least be capable of recognizing the best idea from their number? To a certain extent, perhaps. But if a lone individual is significantly more intelligent than the group, it is entirely likely that they simply cannot understand his or her idea, and so cannot tell whether it is good. I believe studies have been done that show that when the IQ gap is more than about 15 points, on the standard scale, comprehension is lost. Imagine, to make the point, putting the Theory of Relativity before a room full of the intellectually challenged, if that is the currently acceptable term. Would they really be able to determine it is right?

The idea that will win out in any group will not, logically, be the best or most correct idea, but the idea that is most easily and generally comprehended. Rhetorical skill will prevail over expertise or knowledge. This is an eternal problem, one familiar to Plato and Socrates.

You may argue that this does not apply to scientists, because they are pre-selected to be especially knowledgeable and intelligent. That may be so; even if it is, the result of their consensus will always be mediocre in relation to their membership. The breakthroughs will not come from group work, but from some maverick.

And there is room to question that scientists as a group really are the best and brightest. The academic process means that they are evaluated and credentialed by other scientists. But who has validated them? There is an infinite regression here; it’s turtles all the way down.

There is a second consideration: as previously discussed here, it is easier for groups than for individuals working alone to succumb to delusional thinking. If a delusion is shared, it is reinforced. A bubble can be formed within which reality need never be confronted.

In the real world, work by committee is notoriously mediocre, when it is not misguided. Committee work has its value: primarily the political value of getting everyone invested in the project. But it is not an efficient way to handle any practical problem.

My friend advises that “anyone who claims to have found the key to understanding this disease is blowing smoke.”

I think this too is bad advice. I think the real world of scientific advance is indeed a series of “Eureka!” moments. Arthur Koestler wrote a great book, The Act of Creation, documenting that all major advances in mathematics and science, as much as in art, come suddenly from the visionary ether. Not from steady, incremental progress along some established trunk road of thought.

My friend advises us to look for humility.

“The news media and social media reward an air of confidence. Especially on social media, a lot of self-proclaimed experts are 100 per cent sure they’re right. But people may sound confident just because they overestimate their ability. You’re better off trusting people who recognize the limits of their knowledge. Good researchers are extremely careful not to claim any more than they can back up.”

This is sound advice, except for the misplaced word “self-proclaimed.” Omit that, and it works. It is in the nature of being an “expert” that you are making claims of special expertise—you are blowing your own horn. Those who claim expertise because they belong to a particular group of experts are no more humble, in real terms, than those who claim expertise on the basis of actual experiment or argument.

This is actually an appeal to authority, a logical fallacy.

It is true that academics of all stripes are notorious for being cautious in their claims when writing up their thinking for colleagues; for hedging everything they write with fine qualifications. Or even writing in such a way that it is impossible to detect any clear assertions at all. But is this out of humility, or a commitment to truth? Or is it a matter of political expediency? If you avoid making any clear assertions, you can always cover if attacked: either for being objectively wrong, or for political reasons. The vulgar phrase is “cover your ass.”

At the same time, academics in general—necessarily often the same academics—are uncommonly eager to make bold and sweeping claims when speaking to the press or the general public. They are always warning of some dire future if their urgent warnings are not heeded, and their expertise engaged.

This is surely simply a case of the tradesman hawking his wares. If they can get press, they get prestige; they get funding; they get fame and fortune.

Human nature did not pass scientists by, and it is sadly naïve to suppose so.

“Self-proclaimed” experts should be no more nor less suspect than those who jointly proclaim themselves experts; that is, the establishment scientists. The same principle applies.

The difference is that individual experts must compete in the open market, if only the free market of ideas. The group experts are effectively a cartel in restraint of trade.

If this all sounds depressing, the happy news is that the Internet gives us a new opportunity for a genuinely free exchange of ideas.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Sympathy for the Devil?





We were speaking of the demand to smash all images of Jesus. Now another clear sign of the true direction of the current winds: in the UK, a demand to delete the image on the Queen’s Medal of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. It shows St. Michael with his foot on the head of Satan. An image of the battle of good against evil.

According to the Guardian, the activists say the badge “resembles a depiction of a white angel standing on the neck of a chained black man.” Tracy Reeve, who has begun an online petition, says: “This is a highly offensive image, it is also reminiscent of the recent murder of George Floyd by the white policeman in the same manner presented here in this medal.”

Any resemblance to the killing of George Floyd is of course coincidental and in the imagination of the beholder. The award dates back to 1818. 

A modern Russian depiction of St. Michael


The image of course comes from the Bible:

“There was war in the sky. Michael and his angels made war on the dragon. The dragon and his angels made war. They didn't prevail, neither was a place found for him any more in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, the old serpent, he who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

St. Michael’s foot on the Devil’s head is a reference to Genesis:

“Yahweh God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed above all livestock, and above every animal of the field. On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel.’"

It is hard to imagine this was instead about race relations, back in Palestine in the 5th century BC. 

Italian depiction, 1708


Probably the majority of the current knights and commanders of the Order are themselves not “white”: former or present ministers from Africa, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, Papua New Guinea.

Sir Simon Wolley insists “the figure … is clearly a black man,” because it “has no horns or tail.”

This claim is blatantly false. The figure does have two horns and a tail. It is a serpent below the shoulders, and has wings.

How accurate is this as an ethnic description of sub-Saharan Africans? Note that Satan’s facial features are, as usually portrayed, sharp, with thin lips and a longish, thin nose. Very European.

Bumi Thomas, a black activist, claims the St. Michael of the portrait is “a white, blue-eyed figure standing on his neck.” 

Another view of the medal.


His facial features are about as European as Satan’s, it is true. His eyes, in the image, are black; his foot is on Lucifer’s head, not his neck. And Michael too has wings. More likely, he is an angel.

The complaints, in sum, seem delusional. They seem paranoid.

It is true that the prone figure of Satan is dark-skinned, and Michael has pale skin. But, given that this is an image of good and evil, the obvious explanation is that darkness represents sin, understood as a stain, and light represents virtue. This is a standard metaphor in the Bible, and in every world culture. Mankind naturally fears darkness and favours the light.

At least, you do if you do not consider yourself on the side of sin. There is that critical passage in John:

“This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn't come to the light, for fear that his works would be reproved. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done with God."

There seems to be a Freudian inadvertent admission behind it all. Apparently the protestors spontaneously identify themselves with Satan and with evil. They do so even if they have to stretch the evidence beyond credulity to make the notion work.

They do so against the interests of blacks. What could be worse than to identify Africans with Satan and evil personified? They are doing this; not the artist.

If this claim sounds extreme, that the underlying issue here is to declare it wrong to discriminate against evil, this is not the only example. Not by a good measure. Never mind smashing statues of Jesus. “Critical theory,” the academic ideology behind much of the protest we see in the streets, does just this systematically. It loves to take traditional fables and fairy tales, and argue that it is oppressive to portray the villain as being in the wrong. This is “discriminatory.” We must instead take the side of the witches, giants, dragons, and ogres. 



This is significant, because there is no way they can be portrayed as representatives of an oppressed class. To the contrary, the witch, giant, dragon, or ogre is always immensely powerful, and has a cache somewhere of vast riches. Jack, by contrast, is a poor boy; Rapunzel is abandoned by her poor family; and so forth. It is the privileged whom critical theory wants to support.

More significant is that the purpose of the fairy tale or fable is explicitly to teach a moral lesson. Aesop’s fables and Perrault’s collected fairy tales always conclude with a moral. When Hans Christian Anderson chose to publish his own literary tales without an explicit moral, there was considerable popular outcry.

So the real intent of making the villain the hero is to subvert the moral lesson. The villain, the witch or giant, is not human, so that he or she can be a representation of pure evil or vice.

It is evil that must not be “discriminated against.”

Understanding that this is the real problem seems to explain everything. This is why the police are the special focus of anger: whatever their flaws, the essential nature of police is to maintain the right and oppose vice. This is why statues of heroes are a special focus of anger: whatever their flaws, the essential nature of a hero is that he or she displayed some conspicuous virtue or fought some conspicuous vice.

This is why, for decades, the focus of the fight against “discrimination” was gays, and is now transsexuals. Whether or not they have indeed been discriminated against—leaving that aside for a moment—it is odd that discrimination against them has been so central to the public and the cultural agenda for so long. They are, after all, an estimated 1.6% of the population. That figure should probably be halved, since in the real world lesbianism, as opposed to male homosexuality, was never an issue. And, of course, transsexuals would be a much smaller proportion of the population.

The issue cannot, in the end, have been discrimination against gays. It was discrimination against a behavior. Homosexual sex is a behavior. If one can establish the principle that one has an inherent right to do a thing simply because one has a spontaneous urge to do it, this makes any sin a right, and prohibits calling it sinful. Nobody sins except because they have a natural urge to do it; morality consists in resisting natural urges.

There is a reason why they are called “Gay Pride” parades: lust plus pride, two sins publicly celebrated.

We seem close now to the point of perfect inversion, where the very existence of sin is denied; or rather, the only sin is admitting that there is sin.

St. Michael, pray for us.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Black Lies Matter


Traditional Ethiopian portrayal of Jesus..

The inevitable call has come, from Shaun King, a media heavy in residence at Harvard, with ties to Black Lives Matter: smash all the images of Jesus and Mary. Smash all the stained glass windows.

This, of course, was the target all along: God.

The premise, of course, is that Jesus is always portrayed as “European,” and this is racist.

"Yes, I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down. They are a form of white supremacy. Always have been."

"In the Bible, when the family of Jesus wanted to hide, and blend in, guess where they went? EGYPT! Not Denmark. Tear them down."

This is nonsensical on its face. He refers to statues. How can one really distinguish, in an unpainted statue, whether the figure portrayed is from some European country or from a Hellenized area of northern Palestine? A slight difference in skin tone? We do not even know whether the skin tone would be different.

And on an unpainted statue?

Why did Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt, and not to Denmark? It may have had something to do with Denmark not yet existing. Egypt, on the other hand, aside from being the country next door, had the ancient world’s largest Jewish population outside Palestine. Two of Alexandria’s seven districts were Jewish—traders, mostly, no doubt, often coming and going. I think the holy family indeed had a decent chance of blending in.

Not that other Egyptians looked very different from either Palestinian Jews or European Greeks. There were a lot of Greeks in Egypt too. Cleopatra was Greek.

You would think a Harvard man would know such things. That would have been so, long ago.

The conventional image of Jesus comes from fairly early models. There is at least some warrant to think it is accurate. And he could indeed probably pass for a modern Lebanese, say.

If there are some blond Jesuses, racism is an implausible explanation for it. Rather, this is a natural consequence of the artists being themselves European, having only European models to work from, and having little idea or reason to care what a Palestinian of the First Century looked like. Black hair is rare in Northern Europe. For the same reason, in Ethiopia, Jesus is distinctly African in appearance. 

Our Lsdy of the Gate of Dawn, Vilnius, Lithuania


There are no comparable ancient standards for portraying Mary, and her images are far more variable. Mary is often portrayed in Europe as blonde or a red-head--just as she is shown with Asian features in Asia, or with indigenous features at Guadaloupe, her most popular shrine. A non-racist might nevertheless have noticed that even in Europe, “Black Madonnas” are given special veneration. There are famous examples, sites of major pilgrimages, in France, Belgium, Czechia, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Russia, Sweden; rather white countries, on the whole. Perhaps most famously at Częstochowa in Poland and at Montserrat in Spain. Whatever reason this is so, it cannot be due to any notion of white supremacy or anti-black racism. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe.


The real problem for King and his acolytes can only be, not that these beautiful works of art show Jesus or Mary as European, but that they are beautiful works of art. Worse, they are beautiful works of art made by Europeans. Worse still, they imply some fundamental truth and the moral law.

Make no mistake. What we are seeing in America now is the battle of good and evil. And all the racism is on the side complaining of racism.


Monday, June 22, 2020

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Canada Voted off the Island



Chrystia Freeland was the worst Canadian Foreign Minister ever, and the Trudeau government the least effective ever on foreign policy.

I am far from surprised that Canada lost its recent bid to be named to the UN Security Council.

What, after all, would you expect? Over the past few years, Canada has had high-level diplomatic spats with China, Russia, Saudi Arabia; lower-key, but notable, troubles with India and the USA. Having alienated many of the biggest players, why would Canada think it could muster the backing?

The most stunning thing, however, is the demonstration of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. They probably still think they are great successes. Blissfully unaware of their own incompetence, Trudeau and Freeland actually put their and Canada’s prestige on the line in a bid for a Security Council Seat. Something in itself of little value—only a vanity project, as far as I can see.

Down with Everyone and Their Mother


Turkish talisman against the evil eye

In all the rapidly rising fever of bust-busting, I see nobody speaking of the real reason it is happening.

This is important, because the true cause is arguably the deadliest of the Seven Deadly Sins. Envy is the one sin that never dare speak its name; making it especially difficult to root out. For this reason, it is vitally important to see and name it when it appears. It is sinister that nobody is in this case. And it is fantastically common. Most folk cultures worldwide are vitally concerned with the “Evil Eye.” It is envy they are talking about.

The nominal reasons these statues are being torn down are obviously spurious: they differ statue by statue. Nor is there any sense that the statues torn down represent the worst offenders, of whatever crime they are charged with. It is perhaps worth mentioning that there is a mural of Benito Mussolini still displayed inside a Montreal church. Nobody has called for its removal. Not even during the World War.

Benny Muscles visits Little Italy.

It goes without saying that any possible mortal could be accused of some moral depravity. It is always possible to find such a reason to tear down a statue. Mobs have now torn down effigies of Mahatma Gandhi, Francis Scott Key, Ulysses S. Grant, Saint Junipero Serra. It is not that we are not all saints—there is not even a saint without sin. Moses murdered a man. St. Paul probably murdered many. If sinlessness is suddenly the standard, all statues must come down.

No, this pandemic of statue-tipping is because of envy. Nobody paints over Mussolini, because nobody envies him. The fact of a statue proclaims that someone has done something worth notice with their life. That is intolerable to any narcissist who has not. The same motive is behind assassination: you want to kill John Lennon or John Kennedy not because of their politics, but because they are famous and you are not. The same motive is behind our hysterical cancel culture. It is an epidemic of envy.

But statues, for the narcissist, are especially seductive: one is not only attacking the person commemorated, but the sculptor, his talent, his achievement. Destroy it all!

The instinct toward envy necessarily ends in the ruin of all good things. It is always easier to pull down than to build.

This is the way we are now headed: the deadliest sins running wild in the streets


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Almost Prose



Lapis Philosophorum

I have posted this poem of mine here before, but there is a reason to post it again:

As we arose in bedroom clothes and toed along the beach
And casting out past dark and doubt, past stones in common reach
A net we threw of breath and dew returned us something rare
A thing long known, cold and alone; above―we thought―all care.

And homeward bound through hilltops crowned with silence and with snow
The way was steep, the way was cold, the way was far to go;
And riding down through sundark town, the captive moon our guide,
I laughed until I could not laugh, and, sick from laughing, cried.

We called our feat from street to street, as lamp to lamp caught fire;
‘Till some crank called out ‘Mountebank!’ and others echoed, ‘liar!’
And casting off the swaddling cloth, to show old friend new prize--
We found the stone we’d found was only water and God’s lies.

And all we knew we were, could be, or someday might become
Melted like that ice and left us naked in that sun;
And all we knew we were, had been, or someday still might be
Fell back and fell away, like foam, stone-broken, to the sea.

I repost because I recently submitted it to a poetry competition. And I received back this note:

“Dear Stephen,

Just checking... Is this an entry for the poetry section?

It is almost prose like”

Note that the piece features almost every known poetic device: regular metre, rhyme, internal rhyme, alliteration, repetition, imagery, metaphor, symbolism.

It is hard to conceive of a piece of writing being less prosaic.

So what is going on?

I suspect that my correspondent simply thinks that “prose” means “narrative.” And poetry is—something else. The typical “poem” currently is simply prose with arbitrary line breaks and bad punctuation. I’m inclined to say that it has to do with simply emoting in text, but that is not consistent. All that is consistent is the bad punctuation and the random line breaks.

Wikipedia: "Poetry (derived from the Greek poiesis, "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning."

Merriam-Webster: poetry "1 a: metrical writing : VERSE" Capitals theirs.

We have fallen so far from poetry that nobody can even recognize it if they see it.

This is someone who cannot even be aware of most great poetry—of the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Divine Comedy, the Aeneid, the Ryme of the Ancient Mariner, the Canterbury Tales, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, Beowulf …. What have they read?

This is a sad time to be alive, for those of us who love the arts.


Friday, June 19, 2020

Going to the Candidates' Debate






I watched the Canadian Conservative leadership debate in English last evening. It was quite dull. My impression was of people mouthing platitudes while trying to sound passionate about them. I found myself missing the cool of Stephen Harper, or Pierre Trudeau.

The one rather memorable moment was Lisa Raitt openly criticizing one of the candidates. As moderator, she came across as a Karen. Oozing assumed privilege. Pity; I used to like Lisa Raitt.

I feel nobody won. Presumably, that favours MacKay as frontrunner: nothing was shaken up.

On the other hand, I see an inherent vulnerability for MacKay. It is a common one for clear frontrunners: they tend to get the bulk of their support on the first ballot. If you like MacKay, you are probably already with him.

So if he does not win on the first ballot, he gets caught by someone back in the pack. That happened to Bernier last time. It happens a lot.

This is magnified this time because MacKay is on the leftward extreme of the candidates. His closest competitor, O’Toole, is to his right, yet to the left of the other two candidates. That means O’Toole can expect to get the support of their voters once they drop out.

Nor is there scope for any backroom deals and throwing of support at the last minute, given the preferential ballot system being used this time. Ideological affinities will matter more.

And O’Toole seems a credible enough candidate to, with the other two in the race, keep him from a first-ballot victory. Lewis seems to be making some waves too.

Who do I want to win?

I rule out MacKay from the starter pistol. He won the PC leadership years ago by cutting a deal with David Orchard, which he violated as soon as he became leader. I am glad he broke that deal; I was horrified when he made it. But it reveals him to be utterly without principle. I would not want to see him in any position of leadership.

I also resist MacKay and Lewis because they have not earned their places here. MacKay stands on his father’s shoulders. We have too much of that in our politics. And there can be little doubt that Lewis, a failed one-time candidate for Parliament, would not be on the stage were she not black and a woman.

Lewis is getting a lot of interest, and I have heard commentators praising her performance at the debate. I think that is the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” Her head was down a lot to check her notes. Asked how she would expand the party’s appeal among minorities and millennials, she gave the usual bland nostrums about reaching out. This does not fit with her rightward program or the implied hope that, as a black immigrant herself, she would have special insight. She needed, I feel, a better answer. Sloan, more interestingly, cited some specific issues: drug addiction, homelessness.

That brings the choice down to Sloan and O’Toole. Of the two, O’Toole obviously has the stronger resume. More important than that, his French is better. I do not think a national party can afford a leader who cannot speak both official languages.

So O’Toole seems to me the best choice.

I have heard the criticism that O’Toole is opportunist, running further to the right than he did in the last leadership contest. I find it credible, however, that his personal opinions have genuinely shifted to the right since then. A lot of people’s have. I noted one consistency: he spoke in favour, in the debate, of closer ties with the CANZUK nations. This was a keynote of his last campaign.

I also think he shone in his apparent command of the new Canada-US-Mexico trade deal. He seemed able to correct MacKay on an important part of it. Impressive, since MacKay has served as Foreign Affairs Minister.

I now feel that O’Toole is the Conservatives’ best choice.


Thursday, June 18, 2020

Racist Calls Only Non-Racist in the Commons a Racist


Jagmeet Singh
Jagmeet Singh has been ejected from the Commons for a day for calling a Bloc Quebecois MP a racist. For non-Canadian readers, Singh is the leader of the NDP, Canada’s social democratic or democratic socialist party. 

I am glad to see this discipline applied. Debate in Canada’s Commons has long devolved to the schoolyard level. The Speaker even tried to dodge the issue by claiming he had not heard the remark; Singh forced the issue by immediately repeating it.

Singh called Alain Therrien a racist because the member for La Prairie refused unanimous consent to a motion “recognizing the existence of systemic racism in the RCMP.” “The motion points out that ‘several Indigenous people have died at the hands of the RCMP in recent months …’ The motion also asked MPs to support a review of the RCMP's budget, to demand that the RCMP release all of its use-of-force reports and to call for a review of the RCMP's tactics for dealing with the public.”(CBC)

“Singh had asked the Commons to recognize there is systemic racism in the RCMP and to call on the government to review the force’s budget, ensure the Mounties are truly accountable and do a full review of the RCMP’s use of force.” (NatPost)

Therrien was right to block the motion. The alarming thing is that he seems to have been the only voice. This was mob rule, an attempted lynching of the RCMP, one of Canada’s unifying national symbols. And only a BQ member was ready to stand up for human rights and Canadian unity.

The motion presupposed, simply declared, that there was systemic racism in the RCMP. That is like declaring someone guilty without a trial.

That is classic hysteria. We elect people to prevent this kind of mob justice.

So is calling someone a racist for saying there might not be racism involved. That is like declaring someone a Communist for daring to doubt there are Communists in the State Department; or declaring someone a witch for doubting witchcraft was involved. It is frightening that any adult can think in these terms; much less an elected representative; much less a candidate for the leadership of the country.

To bring this charge of systemic racism against the national police is also pathetically childish in another way: a demonstration of Canada’s eternal kid brother syndrome. People in the US are currently agitated about police brutality; so little brother Canada has to foment its own scandal along the same lines. Monkey see, monkey do. Grownups, by contrast, think for themselves.

If it exists, systemic racism is a serious matter; far more serious than individual racism, because it has the force of government behind it. It deserves to be treated seriously, not in Singh’s pre-emptive manner. Systemic racism, happily, is easier to prove than individual racism. Unlike individual racism, finding it does not require reading anyone’s mind, or trying to infer anything from their actions. For racism to exist systemically, it must be communicated among the participants in that system. It will appear in the laws, bylaws, or regulations of that system.

It should indeed be investigated; in fact, it apparently is being investigated. Singh’s motion sought to short-circuit that process, by imposing a conclusion: a classic example of prejudice.

I would even say that there apparently is systemic racism in the RCMP. As I say, the matter of systemic racism is rather easily proven. Like other arms of the government, I would assume the RCMP requires racial preferences for aboriginal people, and probably blacks, in hiring. I would not be surprised if, like the courts, there is also a legal requirement that they treat aboriginal suspects differently from non-aboriginals.

These are indeed examples of systemic racism.

I would like to see such an inquiry.


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Four Notes of Death

Albuquerque Video

A Long Hot Summer?



I see a difficult situation emerging in the US. The left has become completely lawless—I say the left, not just a faction of the left. On the other hand, the right has been entirely passive, giving the impression that they have collapsed. This further emboldens the left, and matters keep escalating.

I suspect the problem is that Trump has committed himself, for his reelection, to lure black votes over to the Republican side. It was a good strategy, and could have changed the game; but events have made it difficult. Now, if he acts decisively against the rioters or in support of the police, he risks being accused of being anti-black, and the left will start screaming “racist” and “fascist.”

Trump was elected by people on the right who were already deeply angry and wanted to poke the system in the eye. He looked to them like the most radical choice. Now he begins to look to these same people like an origami Bengal. They no doubt begin to think they can trust no one in politics, no one in the “elites.” They are liable to decide, now, to take matters into their own hands.

The middle is only too likely to dissolve, the violence to get more serious, and actual civil war to begin.

There is also the danger that, craving peace and order at any price, ordinary people will turn to any strongman; from either the left or the right. Someone may, as they say in Paris, pick up the presidential sash in the street.




Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Wave Is Still Abating




I'm hearing much concern about a "second wave" for the coronavirus, and an upsurge in the US.

According to the stats, it is not true. It is notable that the daily plague count is not going down in the US as it is in Canada or the UK; I think that can indeed be blamed on the recent protests, and it may get worse.


Iconoclasm






They have pulled down a statue of Thomas Jefferson in Portland.

I am fundamentally opposed to pulling down any statues. The world has too little art, and too little history. Pulling down any statue is a crime against our children and grandchildren; while any sentient being should be able to understand it does no harm to the historical person we are trying to insult. It is an act of despicable cowardice to assault the dead.

Statues of Churchill and Lincoln are also being defaced in London, and statues of Gandhi removed.

There are, of course, known arguments for each; arguments made by people trying to have such statues removed legally. Jefferson was a slaveowner. Churchill was callous in his dealings with both Ireland and India; he believed in the British Empire. Gandhi was racist towards Africans. Lincoln? I’m sure there must be something.

The comment often heard, at least concerning statues of Confederate generals, is “After all, we don’t have statues of Hitler.”

For what it’s worth, I have never seen a photograph of any statues of Hitler actually being pulled down. Perhaps there simply weren’t any?

I recently learned that there is a mural featuring Mussolini on horseback in a church in Montreal. Nobody has been troubled by it, apparently, even in the 1940s. Moreover, it is meant to honour him—it is a commemoration of his signing of the Concordat with the Vatican. The Ontario town of Swastika never changed its name. 



For the record, I would be utterly opposed to defacing the Mussolini mural, or renaming Swastika, or pulling down any statues of Hitler. None of this would do anything but harm.

We did see many pictures out of Eastern Europe, when the Warsaw Pact and then the Soviet Union dissolved, of mobs pulling down statues of Stalin. This was perhaps in reaction to that dictator’s tendency to put up statues of himself everywhere; in such a case, it might be aesthetically justified. It was also a bit of payback, perhaps, for the modern tradition of pulling down statues of former rulers seems to have begun with the Russian Revolution of 1917.

A common claim made against the statues of Confederate generals is that it is wrong to erect statues of traitors. They fought against their own government.

This is historically false: from their perspective, and according to the US Constitution as written, sovereignty was retained at the state level. The Union forces were an invading army; just as if the EU landed a force at Dover today. The moral duty was to take up arms to defend their homeland—regardless of what they felt about slavery.

And as to slavery, it seems to me unfair to blame Jefferson, or Lee, for owning slaves. The problem was systemic. Had they, as southern landowners, gone without slaves, it would simply have meant surrendering their livelihood. They could not compete against their neighbours. Perhaps they should have, but it is a lot to ask.

Let’s allow that logic, that traitors should not be honoured. That does justify tearing down statues of Jefferson, and Washington, for they too, at least as much as Lee or Beauregard, took up arms against the government. But then Canada should also not feature a statue of Louis Riel in front of the Manitoba Legislature. He rebelled twice, and was actually convicted and executed for treason. None of the Southern generals honoured were ever so charged. Because they were not in fact guilty of treason in US law. The government considered charges, and realized they would be unable to convict, and would only end up justifying their enemies. 



We also have numerous statues and commemorations of William Lyon Mackenzie and Louis-Joseph Papineau, both of whom rose in arms against the Canadian government. 



We are obviously being inconsistent.

There is a fundamental error in supposing that, if we erect a statue of someone, or just leave it standing, it means we endorse them. Explain then, if you can, the many carvings of demons and gargoyles that adorn medieval cathedrals, or stand at the entrance of any Buddhist temple. It is remarkably simple-minded to suppose remembering someone means honouring them.

And it is a second error, as bad as the first, that you must not honour anyone unless they are without sin. No one, it should go without saying, is without sin. If you think your own heroes are, you are yourself guilty of the sin of idolatry.

This is a common misunderstanding, by the way, among non-Catholics, regarding the saints. The standard of sainthood is not, and has never been, sinlessness. We could not have statues or paintings of anyone, on that basis. The standard is a display of heroic virtue. Virtue, sadly, is a concept we seem to have lost.

Jefferson, Churchill, or Gandhi obviously pass that test. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Bill Establishing Religious Freedom, and was prepared then to stake his life on defending them. Churchill saved the world from Nazism, for a time standing almost alone against Hitler. Gandhi stood against the British Empire, and ended the era of European Imperialism.

If anyone is worthy of a statue in their honour, it is one of these three.

But if we are going to tear down statues and commemorations, let’s at least be even handed. Martin Luther King Jr. has to go too, right? We have credible reports that he was present at a rape, and even urged it on. His womanizing was well known even at the time.

How about Canada’s “Famous Five,” prominently displayed in downtown Calgary, on Parliament Hill, and in Winnipeg—not to mention on the currency? 



Emily Murphy was a genuine white supremacist. It was at least as prominent a theme of her writings as women’s suffrage.

She wrote: "One becomes especially disquieted -- almost terrified -- in the face of these things for it sometimes seems as if the white race lacks both the physical and moral stamina to protect itself, and that maybe the black and yellow races may yet obtain the ascendancy."

She wrote an entire book, The Black Candle, about the threat of the Chinese.

All five were aggressive advocates of eugenics and forced sterilization, in defense of the ethnic purity of an imagined Anglo-Saxon race. They got a forced sterilization act passed in Alberta, which seems to have been used predominantly to sterilize Indian (First Nations) women.

There are really only two defensible positions here: the traditional Jewish or Muslim one, to tear down all statues and paintings of anyone, or the traditional Christian one, of support for the visual arts.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Icke's Reptile Apocalypse


Planetary master.

I have long been vaguely aware of David Icke, without being interested. I thought him mad. I have worked with the insane, and his claims are just what I would hear from any psychotic.

Yet this does not mean they are meaningless.

And why is it that, unlike most psychotics, Icke has not been locked away or drugged? Instead, he is making millions from books and personal appearances. What he is saying has to resonate with many people.

I account for the difference simply by the fact that, when Icke went mad, he was already a well-known athlete and highly skilled journalist and TV presenter. If you are sufficiently articulate, and already a public figure, you will not be declared mad. Being declared mad is for the little people. No one dares declare a possible social superior mad, unless he is also incapacitated, or says so himself. Which demonstrates a flaw in the concept.

Icke has instead become a shaman.

This suggests that, instead of being locked up and drugged, all psychotics could be. They actually have something of value they could offer, and instead they are being shut down. In other countries, being psychotic is a career. I saw this in Korea.

Icke is fun and energizing to read or listen to. Paranoia infuses life with meaning, makes everything significant and wonderful. A big stone near your home is suddenly the location of regular covert blood sacrifices. Something of cosmic significance might happen at any moment. You feel fully alive.

It is the same thrill as, yet far safer than, taking LSD. It is roughly the same thrill you get from art.

And it is not all nonsense.

How is it, after all, that Icke is coming up with all the same claims as the typical psychotic I have dealt with? If madness were simply random, this could not be so. Rather, whatever we call “madness” has rules and truths of its own. At a guess, we are seeing the landscape of the human psyche, terrain at least as interesting and important to our life experience as the world of the five senses. Not to study it is to be, in Icke’s term, mere “sheeple.” Only looking down and grazing.

This is what shamans and artists, and David Icke, offer: some of the rules and truths of the human mind.

There is, it is true, great danger here. Why wouldn’t there be--just as there is in the sensed world? In fact, there is far greater: hell itself is here.

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there.

Icke’s claims could also easily move into antisemitism and Nazi race theory; indeed, Nazism itself looks like an irruption from the imagination, a New Age movement of its day. Icke seems unable to keep separate the two realms, that of the mind and that of the senses. This is perhaps the difference between the psychotic and the true shaman, prophet, or artist.

I believe accordingly that it is wise to stay in the worn treads of the established major religions: these are the tested roadmaps.

I think of Icke just now because of his core contention that the world is secretly run by an alien reptilian race. He is probably right.

He apparently believes that most world leaders are alien reptiles capable of shape-shifting to appear human. He cites the Queen Mother, Ted Heath, and Tony Blair. Like reptiles, they are not really conscious; and they feed psychically on human fear and anxiety. Their plan is to mold a life experience of constant anxiety for us all. It will resemble Orwell’s 1984.

Icke here is actually describing the characteristics of what self-help group psychology calls a narcissist. The Bible would simply call this a bad person, a “goat.” Narcissists do indeed, the self-help groups agree, seem to have limited consciousness, an incapacity for reflection, a robotic manner, and an absence of emotions as opposed to desires and frustrations. They cannot appreciate art.

It is a reasonable suspicion, at least, that many world leaders are narcissists: a drive to put yourself above others is entirely likely to lead you to positions of power. Being in a position of power, conversely, is inclined to convince you you are more important than others. Lord Acton made the point: power corrupts.

Narcissists do feed psychically on the sufferings of others: it is a way to demonstrate superiority. They will actively try to cause anxiety and anguish for those whom they control. It makes them feel good.

For this psychic tendency, a reptile is a natural image. It is an image the Bible uses too: the Devil is depicted as a serpent or great dragon. A reptile seems to operate only at the level of stimulus-response: want, get. Lack of human emotion is suggested by the fact that they do not care for their young.

Interesting to not that, although they do not occur anywhere in the world of the senses, the dragon or great serpent is a familiar image in all lands. It must, therefore, represent such a psychic tendency.

Icke claims that the giveaway that a given figure is a reptilian is something about their eyes; they can suddenly turn “jet black.” Whatever this means—the literal meaning seems impossible—it is actually a common observation among those who have experienced narcissists: that the narcissist’s eyes can suddenly turn “black” and somehow inhuman.

To be honest, I know what they are talking about. I think I have seen it, but cannot describe it better. “Insect-like” comes to mind; but that is nonsensical in literal terms. Perhaps “a soul-less intensity.”

Icke claims that these Archons are especially prone to pedophilia and even child sacrifice. This doesn’t make great sense in the case of an alien race, but again is a familiar characteristic of the narcissist. The logic is simple. The narcissist needs to feel superior. Children are easy to dominate. They are especially vulnerable and easily hurt. They scream so nicely.

Understanding Icke’s lizard people as narcissists explains this trait best.

All told, then, Icke is probably right here, if you simply take him on a metaphoric instead of a literal level.


Sunday, June 14, 2020

Ezra Levant on Racism in Canada






Marianne and the Child





I think it is wrong to pry into the lives of famous people. Celebrities whatever their field are entitled, like the rest of us, to privacy. Interest in their personal affairs is generally the sin of calumny.

I am about to break that rule for Leonard Cohen.

Cohen is too important. He is not just another famous person. He is a spiritual guide, and, in the righteous words of Jennifer Warnes, Canada’s national poet. His soul intersects with Canada’s soul, and contains multitudes.

I was listening recently to the late song “Choices,” off the “Can’t Forget” tour album. And I realized how sad it was.

I've had choices
Since the day that I was born
There were voices
That told me right from wrong
If I had listened
I wouldn't be here today
Livin' and dyin'
With the choices I've made

It is a confession. It is sung in the voice of a hopeless alcoholic. Cohen did not write it, but the fact that he chose to perform it regularly suggests it meant something to him.

I was tempted
At an early age I found
That I liked drinkin'
No, I never turned it down
There were loved ones
But I chased them all away



Cohen did have a problem with drinking; but I fear that is not what he is really talking about. It stands in here for another vice, because he cannot quite speak that truth squarely. It is too painful to admit.

His vice was sex. It was lust.

This was, after all, the title of his first, autobiographical, novel: “The Favourite Game.” The favourite game was recreational sex: the hunt, the conquest. A common and commonly celebrated vice in his young adulthood, the era of Hemingway’s machismo, James Bond, Playboy, and the “sexual revolution.” A blind alley down which too many wandered then, and wander now.

Some girls wander by mistake
Into the mess that scalpels make.

Wrapped up in this is Marianne Ihlen: “So Long Marianne.” You can see her on the back cover of Songs from a Room. I have not seen the movie, “Marianne and Leonard,” but I think the issue is clear enough. It was his first committed relationship. By all the rules and right, that was his marriage, and it should have been for life. There was a child. It is unnatural and inhumane to break such bonds. I gather Cohen walked out on her, gradually, because, starting to become famous, he suddenly had lots more opportunities for casual sex. He was tempted as few of us ever are, and it was a temptation he could never resist.

Ever since he has had to live and die with that choice that he made. A fatal spiritual mistake.

The worst of it is that the child went mad by adulthood. Cohen must have wondered if he was responsible for that.

Cohen never could commit to any permanent relationship. He could never get past the lust; and always had chances to indulge it due to fame. He was an addict.

Notwithstanding, Cohen was a good man. He was just fallen like all of us; all of us have our temptations. The sign of his goodness was that he was wracked by guilt, and continued to wrestle with it. And to confess.

What I loved in my old life
I haven’t forgotten
It lives in my spine
Marianne and the child
The days of kindness
It rises in my spine
and it manifests as tears
I pray that loving memory
exists for them too
the precious ones I overthrew
for an education in the world

But Cohen fans and all of us need to realize that his early and sometimes celebrations of sexuality, attractive to so many, are phantoms on the road, demon voices that ruined his own life, the lives of many women, and the lives of many children, and continue to do so.