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Fri, 09 Jun 2023
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

Eye 1

Woke Social Status: Fake But Deadly

A month ago, Richard Hanania responded on his Substack to a tweet by Rob Henderson. Here's the tweet in question:

rob henderson tweet
Hanania's main point, expanded upon in his article: in practice, people don't actually internalize these Woke standards, and the Kate Uptons of the world will always be higher status in social interactions, whatever the "correct beliefs" may happen to be. Call some feature of a normal woman masculine, or a typical man effeminate, and they won't respond favorably — despite professed values to the contrary. Attractive people get treated better than unattractive people. It's human nature.

He has a point — an important one. But by focusing on the details in typical autist fashion (AKA nitpicking), I think he misses the bigger point. And this point is hidden right there in his description of the exceptions who do take this nonsense seriously: "they are a minority and usually miserable due to how much cognitive dissonance it takes to act so contrary to human nature." Note the caveats in his arguments:
  • "a highly educated young woman who has views and attitudes typical of her social class"
  • "unless she's a fully committed pronoun person"
  • "typical cis-hetero male"
  • "except those who most deeply internalize woke ideology"

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MindMatters: The Road Best Traveled: Ernst Jünger's Forest Passage

ernst junger
What is freedom? Where may it be found and accessed? How does it become actualized from within the individual? And if we are to become free - then what are we to be free from? In this second discussion of Ernst Jünger's seminal book The Forest Passage we follow along with the author's many thoughts on what it means to be free. Concerning political bodies, the media, institutionalized medicine, and organized religion - what, if any, is the most fruitful approach to take in response to their diktats or guidelines? Where does free will, in the truest sense of the term, fit in to our responses? And if we are to face our fears and find a way to resist the tide of totalitarianism how should one approach the possible suffering that will likely be involved?

With the heart of a poet, and the mind of a realist, Ernst Jünger has given us much to ponder as we reflect on what he means by becoming a 'forest rebel'. Join us this week on MindMatters as we delve further into his world view, and a road from which we may find a path to the future.

For the first episode, see: Freedom in Tyranny: Ernst Jünger's The Forest Passage

Running Time: 01:28:28

Download: ---

Life Preserver

5 ways to stay sane in a world gone mad

Planet Earth

Lord knows we need them.
The latest woke vs. conservative outrage. A new war. The next insane policy. The shattering of our dearest assumptions and sacred cows. A novel theory that blows your mind. A crazy conspiracy theory you begin to suspect is true. Factions in the alternative media and various grifters at each other's throats. Anger and insults every day. Glued to our screens, our brains get scrambled until we lose touch with reality, with who we are, with what we know. Addictions of various kinds. Our lives pierced by a virtual reality we can't escape.

Maneuvering this situation requires us to keep sane. But how? Here are some things that have helped me.

Black Magic

The Screwtape Stratagem

screwtape demon devil propose toast
How global networks drive the efficiency curve of Evil (and why it will screw them in the end).
"Is the dullness of your present fare not a very small price to pay for the delicious knowledge that His whole great experiment is petering out? But not only that. As the great sinners grow fewer, and the majority lose all individuality, the great sinners become far more effective agents for us. Every dictator or even demagogue — almost every film star or crooner — can now draw tens of thousands of the human sheep with him. They give themselves (what there is of them) to him; in him, to us. There may come a time when we shall have no need to bother about individual temptation at all, except for the few. Catch the bellwether, and his whole flock comes after him."

— excerpt from Screwtape Proposes a Toast by C.S. Lewis.
The meals the arch-demon Screwtape describes above are the souls of modern people, whose sins aren't nearly as delectable as those of the past. By this he means both the great and bloody criminals of history and the deeper participation of the average person in their crimes. When comparing these to the more commonplace and mundane forms of graft, dishonor and impiety that spread in modernity's wake, Screwtape demonstrates how the latter is preferable in utilitarian terms; "quantity over quality" is essentially his argument.

What prompted me to look up this quote and contemplate it was a conversation thread with fellow Deimos Station member, in which she posited that Screwtape's graduation speech aptly described the "infestation" phase of what we might call demonic possession. I agreed, adding that it could be the kind of phenomenon that occurs at multiple levels and fractal iterations. I think as well that Screwtape's depiction of the modern sinner as less-tasty-but-more-prevalent dovetails neatly with the growth of global communications networks. The net is cast ever wider, but also ever shallower, because a greater number of meaning-starved fish gather near the surface to feed.

Che Guevara

Marxcissism Is Real: New Paper Links Left-wing Extremism, Psychopathy, and Narcissism

fist protest
Lobaczewski called it in 1984. I've been writing on it here for just over a year now. John Carter gave it a snazzy name: Marxcissism. Now the research psychologists are catching up: "Antagonistic narcissism and psychopathic tendencies predict left-wing antihierarchical aggression, study finds."

Here's what the authors, Ann Krispenz and Alex Bertrams, write in the abstract to their new paper, "Understanding left-wing authoritarianism: Relations to the dark personality traits, altruism, and social justice commitment":
... as individuals with leftist political attitudes can be assumed to be striving for social equality, we expected left-wing authoritarianism to also be positively related to prosocial traits, but narcissism to remain a significant predictor of left-wing authoritarianism above and beyond those prosocial dispositions. ... The results of multiple regression analyses showed that a strong ideological view, according to which a violent revolution against existing societal structures is legitimate (i.e., anti-hierarchical aggression), was associated with antagonistic narcissism (Study 1) and psychopathy (Study 2). However, neither dispositional altruism nor social justice commitment was related to left-wing anti-hierarchical aggression. Considering these results, we assume that some leftist political activists do not actually strive for social justice and equality but rather use political activism to endorse or exercise violence against others to satisfy their own ego-focused needs. ...
I began this Substack with another vindication of Lobaczewski's work: Hare et al.'s article on political psychopathy and human rights atrocities. It's nice to have another, thirteen months later. So let's dive in.

Eye 2

Left-wing extremism linked to psychopathy and narcissism: study

Portland protesters
© AP
Left-wing extremism can be rooted in very unhealthy and selfish mental behavior, a new study suggests.
Left-wing extremism is linked to toxic, psychopathic tendencies and narcissism, according to a new study published to the peer-reviewed journal Current Psychology.

"Based on existing research, we expected individuals with higher levels of left-wing authoritarianism to also report higher levels of narcissism," the authors wrote.

As result of the new data, study authors Ann Krispenz and Alex Bertrams have coined a new term for such psychological behavior: the "dark-ego-vehicle principle."

"According to this principle, individuals with dark personalities — such as high narcissistic and psychopathic traits — are attracted to certain forms of political and social activism which they can use as a vehicle to satisfy their own ego-focused needs instead of actually aiming at social justice and equality," they told PsyPost.

Comment: See also:


Dr. George Simon on chronic bitterness and ingratitude


Comment: Here is the video for the below transcript, of Dr. George Simon discussing two very important impediments to growth of spirit and character - bitterness and ingratitude.

Welcome to another edition of the new Character Matters program. I'm Dr. George Simon and we will be continuing our discussion on gratitude, the obstacles to it and the benefits of it. Today, we will be focusing on the chronic ingratitude that can lead to the phenomenon known as bitterness.

As you may know, we've been exploring some topics that I'm currently producing a book about, namely what I call the 10 commandments of good character. We've already explored the issues related to ego-centricity and overcoming it, realizing that we are all connected and that we, and everyone else that exists is connected in very sophisticated ways. It behooves us to understand our place and the many ways we are connected so we can take our appropriate place and be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem, with respect to many of our concerns.

And the 2nd commandment, having to do with overcoming a sense of entitlement is what we've been talking about over the last few episodes. Coming to realize that there are no real entitlements in life. That life itself is a totally unearned gift and it behooves us to be grateful for this gift, even though there are many reasons for folks to feel un-obliged to be grateful.

Comment: See also:

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MindMatters: Women Who Love Psychopaths - A Retrospective and Introspective with Sandra Brown

sandra brown
Psychotherapist, educator, researcher, and author of the books Women Who Love Psychopaths, How to Spot a Dangerous Man, and many others, Sandra L. Brown's insights have helped many face - and heal from - the damage inflicted by psychopaths and the personality disordered. Expanding on her work as a therapist and author, Sandra Brown has developed the training for thousands of therapists who now understand, and are better able to treat, cognitive dissonance, PTSD, and the neurocognitive damage to executive brain function that many victims suffer.

Join us this week on MindMatters as we look back at Sandra Brown's influential writings, what she's been working on since the release of her books, and how her views and perspectives since then might affect what she'd focus on if she were writing these books today - more than 18 years later.

Running Time: 01:04:40

Download: MP3 — 88.8 MB


Reality-blindness, and Ethics as Practical Reason


Are moral standards real, relative, or both?

Reading through Hill's overview of the history of western philosophy in After the Natural Law, I was reminded of a thought: that this history and development has largely been an ongoing battle between two opposing worldviews, with land lost and regained over the millennia. Materialism and idealism. Absolutism and relativism. Atheism and theism. Their seeds are all there in the ancient Greeks. But the land itself remains largely the same.

And perhaps therein lies part of the answer: it is all the same land. As in, both positions occupy some ground, but like changing borders they miss the wider truth: that the land itself encompasses both. Reality can tolerate either extreme position, to a degree, because each takes into account a part of reality as a whole. But they are incomplete on their own, and when either demands exclusive worship like some tribal god, they commit a form of philosophical blasphemy. Borrowing somewhat from political epithets, I'll call these positions, rather than radical left and far right, the extreme up (mind or spirit) and the far down (base matter), or: uppers and downers.


Einstein researchers discover how long-lasting memories form in the brain

Brain and consciousness
© The Institute of Art and Ideas
Helping your mother make pancakes when you were three...riding your bike without training wheels...your first romantic kiss: How do we retain vivid memories of long-ago events? As described in a paper published online today in Neuron, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found the explanation.

"The ability to learn new information and store it for long periods is one of the brain's most remarkable features," said Robert H. Singer, Ph.D., co-corresponding author of the paper. "We've made a startling discovery in mice regarding the molecular basis for making those long-term memories." Dr. Singer is professor of cell biology and in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience, chair emeritus of anatomy & structural biology, and director of the Program in RNA Biology at Einstein.