Friday, March 20, 2015

Immanentizing the Eschaton for Fun and Profit

Rep. Louie Gohmert of TX is pretty much the epitome of "the crazy" aspect of the GOP. He does not care if he mentions demons or calls Obama an Ayatollah-lover, he'll just about say any damn thing that sends a tingle up the shaky legs of the codgers in Tyler TX who bother to vote. But he's servicing some ethos he finds out there--his audience, if you will. So I pay attention when he says something like--let's bomb Iran.

During an appearance on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told host Tony Perkins that “we need to encourage this administration to go take out Iran’s nuclear capability” instead of pursuing negotiations: “I think it’s time to bomb Iran.”

“We need to make clear to Iran: You can play these silly games with our president that buys into them and our secretary of state, but the American people aren’t buying it and you’re going to pay a price,” Gohmert said.

“I’m hoping and praying the president will realize, despite the agenda he has that has put Christians in jeopardy around the world, that he will not want to leave the Democratic Party so devastated that they won’t recover for many decades,” Gohmert continued, “that maybe he’ll start being more helpful to Israel instead of slapping them around as an unwelcomed visitor and start treating them like a friend. And maybe once he starts doing that he’ll realize we do need to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities that we know of and anything that they move to fix, we bomb that as well.”

 By facilities, I guess he means the centrifuges that we know about that are being used to develop nuclear energy, as was the peaceful intent behind their acquiring that technology under the Atoms for Peace initiative started under Eisenhower. Here's the funny old thing about knowledge--you can bomb materials, but you can't bomb knowledge. Taking out facilities postpones a problem that might be also postponed by diplomatic means, but you will never excise the know-how of enriching uranium to weapons-grade once it has been achieved. A diplomatic agreement can be extended. A material set-back is not an issue--in fact, a violent material set-back looks like a pretty good incentive to get a major enrichment program under way. In other words--diplomacy is the best thing we could do. Bombing would be double-plus ungood. They might take it some kind of way, and if anyone thinks activity to strike back would only occur in the vicinity of Iran, they are dumb. It could be a multi-faceted conflict.

Now, Gohmert is a Bible-banging fruit loop and makes some kind of point about how happy he is that Netanyahu renounced the two-state solution (a short-lived renunciation) because of the Biblical judgment against nations that "divide Israel".

What does that even mean? Because Israel at this juncture is a creation circa 1948. The borders of Israel have to begin and end somewhere. Many agreements indicate a place for Arab Palestinians to live within Israeli borders. But they don't point to what has become of modern-day Gaza. And the borders discussed don't really cover all the West Bank settlements. What does "dividing" even mean, right now? It mostly sounds like he doesn't care about specifics, just--don't mess with Israel because...God.

Me, I think you don't bomb Iran because--this is a nation of young people, demographically, who haven't directly done anything to me. Folks can point out the hostage crisis--I had a teacher who read the newspaper to my 1st grade class while that was going on. That was then. The under-30 folks around now? Had nothing to do with it. They say "Marg bar Amrika" with no conviction, if they even say it. It's dumb, and it's murder to want to bomb them about imaginary nuclear missiles.

The thing that bothers me the most about a bogus narrative that war is necessary is that once engaged--it is.

5 comments:

Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, I have mentioned the counter-initiation a few times in recent comments. Part of this diminishment involves the desacralization of existence. Obviously, a sense of the sacred can come in different varieties, some of which may be odious.

Contemporary deconstructionism identified largely with Foucault, Derrida and Lacann about whom Paglia says, “...are the perfect prophets for weak, anxious academic personality, trapped in verbal formulas and perennially defeated by circumstances.”

In the East deconstructionism has a much more positive sense of the sacred. In Buddhism and Hinduism the metaphysical view of Maya disengages even the concept of reality from the world of appearances as factored through the senses and the primitive central nervous system. And yet rather than the Sacred being tossed out like the baby with the bathwater, deconstructionism is in the service of people participating in the Sacred.

In the West, deconstructionism removes a sense of the Sacred and therefore pushes people down into materialism and therefore the counter-initiation. This is simply a philosophical measure to help the destruction along and remove the grand sweep of the Sacred being found in poetry, in philosophy, even in a scientific understanding of the vast universe.

As a consequence, modern intellectual secularists schooled in the French model are in no position to criticize Bible belt Christians who at least recognized some kind of half-assed Sacred to the universe.

deconstructionism is not a challenge to your mother who may still find her way to Mass, pardon me, the Eucharist from time to time.

Fundamentalists are a dangerous breed, but their reliance on the Bible at least gives them a historical context for their ideas. Matching the understanding of events 2000 years ago with the contemporary world.

Now my view of the Bible would be very different. Naturally, when you have been schooled in the esoteric perspective the Bible is full of chakras, astral bodies, ontological propositions of divinity, incarnations of Vishnu, etc, etc. However, I will concede that people at least grasping firm lessons of history for the Sacred have a component not enjoyed by those that profess an empty, barren universe deconstructed because of the analysis of language.

In one sense those who operate in my esoteric realm are in rebellion against the forces trying to drive the Sacred from human life, and we see this as being as much of a problem as the sometimes admittedly daft fundamentalist point of view. And believe me, I would more quickly have a cross burned on my front lawn than any of the atheists in town. I have to keep a low profile to the outward world; I run some private “philosophy” groups. We don't want to contribute to the counter-initiation; we want to slow it down.

Vixen Strangely said...

Hm.

As a consequence, modern intellectual secularists schooled in the French model are in no position to criticize Bible belt Christians who at least recognized some kind of half-assed Sacred to the universe.

deconstructionism is not a challenge to your mother who may still find her way to Mass, pardon me, the Eucharist from time to time.

Fundamentalists are a dangerous breed, but their reliance on the Bible at least gives them a historical context for their ideas. Matching the understanding of events 2000 years ago with the contemporary world.


My historical context as a critic of religion begins with Heraclitus and Lucretius more than the French deconstructionists(never read them seriously). My concept of the sacred isn't particularly centralized or formal, but just because people drop out of religion as such doesn't mean they necessarily lose touch with the idea of sacredness-brotherly love, ethical living, the holiness of nature which is violated for the sake of a buck, the dignity of labor and the dignity of persons from infancy to advanced age even who can not labor, for the sake of their sheer humanity. The solitary mystery that shrouds all of us eventually in death.

I don't believe in god, but am surrounded by god, if that makes any sense.

One of the things that drives a lot of people, mostly younger people, I think, away from traditional religion are the kinds of fundamentalists who seem to use the Bible in a cynical way, mostly for politics. It seems like a form of "taking the Lord's name in vain" to me. Some of the people who claim to speak for God, better hope He isn't listening.

I notice that distinction between East and West that you're talking about, though. The koan: "what is the Buddha?" "The one in the hall," referencing the carved Buddha in the monastery, and the phrase "If you find the Buddha on the side of the road, kill him", show that the package of the religion is negotiable-the core is found somewhere else. Which seems like a very good thing to know.

I grow less glib about the faith of the anxious parent, the battlefield martyr, the emergency room saint, the comforter at funerals. I can joke at the christenings of my nephews, who are bid to "renounce Satan and all his works" before they've even heard the counter-offer, but I understand why there is a peace of mind about knowing that they have the body of the Church around them.

And I think that's why I find the casual scripture-slinging of blokes like Gohmert regarding real war, real deaths, real disruption and privation so hideous--it profanes what I consider to be the sacred.

Thou shalt not kill. Thou shall love they enemy as thyself. Thou shalt bomb motherfuckers for thinking about it.

Vixen Strangely said...

Eschatology, or End-Time fervor, strikes me as fitting in pretty well with the concept of counter- initiation. A negation of the value of the existence of all things, and a desire to see them all swept away, seems in line with a false tradition. Tradition is enduring. Provoking a cataclysm (trying God's hand, especially) seems "blasphemous" in the actual sense of abrogating the Will of the divine.

There is a particular relevance with the nuclear age to eschatology, I think. Although groups like the Millerites etc, preached the end of the world and even set up dates when they thought it might end, it was the advent of the splitting of the atom that made the actual destruction of all humanity and our material world itself a reality. I submit that with the splitting of the atom, some part of the human psyche also got split, and the destruction that once could be attributable to a wrathful God alone, was recognized as something within mere human hands.

Which should very appropriately scare the bejesus out of us. And while I kind of scoffed once at the "duck and cover" rituals of the previous generation, I understand why they were developed. The threat of atomic death was terrible enough to need to be ritualized. It needed a symbol, a process, an emergency broadcast system. Hopeful people needed bomb shelters, like the Egyptians needed pyramids. America shared in the shock of Oppenheimer--I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.

Since 1945, we've been living in a kind of "eleventh hour". Our sense of eschatological urgency, because the atomic age has coincided with the televised age, has ever reminded us of danger, and for those with a single aeon worldview, the possibility of the current time collapsing into whatever reward may seem like a resolution of tension. Maranatha! It is always five minutes to midnight on our clock anyway--so let's make those five minutes a gorgeous waste! To the Next world--Because this one is Fucked!

But my, for lack of a better word, spirituality, can't accept that frame. To me, the eleventh hour calls for a miracle, and it's only because of necessary "miracles" this species ever has held on to this barely hospitable but desperately beautiful planet.

The grace of logic. The blessing of peace of mind. The love of whatever we love. The hope of a new era.

(The Book of Revelations impressed me as great fodder for further fiction when I read the Bible from cover to cover as a wee sprout. Don't know why. Just a beast of mine. But as good books go, I was a bit put off by the ending. Deus ex machina and all that. )

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

How about dropping Gohmert on Tehran?

Me, I think you don't bomb Iran because--this is a nation of young people, demographically, who haven't directly done anything to me. Folks can point out the hostage crisis--I had a teacher who read the newspaper to my 1st grade class while that was going on.

About that hostage crisis... it's quite possible that the Reagan campaign staff exacerbated it. Regarding Iran's hostility, the U.S. bears more culpability than Iran because we supported the overthrow of Mossadegh so B.P. could steal Iranian petroleum.

Vixen Strangely said...

Regarding Iran's hostility, the U.S. bears more culpability than Iran because we supported the overthrow of Mossadegh so B.P. could steal Iranian petroleum.

That's the thing, isn't it? We forget to figure in that when our foreign policy solely deals in with corporate, for example, interests (I am not going to be the dumbass who pretends that corporations necessarily act in any countries' interest, since their motive is profit) and doesn't figure in that the locals will feel some kind of way about things, we are doomed to fail. Allegedly, one of the greatest exports of the US should be our democratic ideals. Iran is not a perfect Democracy, but it has recognizable Democratic features now--as it did not under the Pahlavis. We need to recognize that Iran is sort of Democratic. Not perfect--just that their government is somewhat representative.