Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Hysteria, Sentimentalism, and Cynicism
If we are sentimentally in favor of X, then if we feel negatively toward its opposite we feel-- hysteria. Good Lord. What's the middle ground? Cynicism.
Those who abandon Reason as their organising principle for understanding reality, those who are Irrationalist, can turn toward Romantic "feeling." Those who are Irrationalist and non-religious, they can't help but turn to feeling as the way of knowing the universe. The average person in the West, the land of Modernity, is now so saturated in Irrationality that it has become the overarching approach to knowing the world. Sentiment is our public ethos today. Not pathos, let's name it bathos. Our general public is mired in false feeling and false representation of reality as a matter of culture and habit. This bathetic public life is so ingrained in our time that we are committing suicide as a civilization from fear of honesty, from fear that we are incapable of facing up to the hardships of real life, that as atheists there is no point in being who and what we are.
Thus: the average person lives a life of intellectual dishonesty in relation to his world and culture; in relation to his society and community; in relation to his friends and his family; and in relation to himself and life as it is. If a man is not bathetic, then he will have to look directly at himself as he is, and that, I suggest, is too terrifying for the average man only because to do so would reveal a nothingness in the place of the worth of life. If the average man examines his life he will find it not worth living. He will reveal himself to himself as a fool whose life is wasted on trivia and stupidities. To escape that confrontation with reality, the man revels in bathos, in laughably stupid false emotion, in postmodernist ironies, and in fascist gestures of fake emotionality. The modern atheist is emotionally stuck in a Chinese finger puzzle he cannot get out of. And because he cannot escape, he fetishises the trap, makes it ironic, and whithers. More and more stuff of less and less value at a greater and greater cost all for the sake of time lost that could be spent on something real-- or not.
Real? There cannot be a real in the world of sentimentalism. Taken at face value, one must agree with Theodore Adorno who writes in Minima Moralia: "A wrong life cannot be lived rightly." The sentimentalist, finding nothing in life of value flees into deeper meaninglessness in pursuit of the fulfillment he cannot acquire. And knowing he cannot succeed in acquiring meaning he turns to irony and bathos.At a standstill, he is a cynic, a pretending despiser. When enthusiasms strike him he is sentimental; when he is depressed or at odd he turns to hysteria. For the Irrationalist there cannot be other. There is no authority for any approach other than the extremes of falsity.
Philobarbarism, the sentimentalisation of Muslim terrorists, for example, is Irrationalist, based on zero authority, amoral at best. To the Irrationalsit cut off from even ideology there is nothing but his feelings, his personal feelings, and they are groundless and futile. His philobarbarism is empty of value and meaning. Therefore he must have more of it to fill the space left. And if one were to challenge his emptiness the result is an outpouring of hysteria, as empty of meaning and value as is his sentimentality based on nothing at all. Then, being nothing but noise, but sound and fury signifying nothing, he must make more of it to impress himself and others with the volume. It's all for show. And those who attack his pose are not simply misinformed but are, let's think a second, a microsecond: racists, sexists, homophobics, islamophobics, right wing religious bigots, hate-mongers.... Anything hysterical and silly will do. Nothing is either good or bad, right or wrong. All must be shouted and screamed and wrenched from the throat and hurled. Because there is neither real feeling nor authority nor reason involved, only ones person empty and valueless feelings based on oneself, and empty and worthless idiot. Bush is not a tiny man with no imagination. Bush is Hitler. The war in Iraq is not a fool's errand, it is the end of the world. Islam is not a miserable tribal tradition spreading inexorably across a world population of ignorant and future-shocked peasants, it is the Religion of Peace. The Israelis are not a group of tormented people living in a huddle in the desert, they are evil incarnate, the new Nazis, the worst thing that could have ever happened to the Palestinian Peoples who can do no more than wage war with their poor little innocent bodies. It's a garbage life of the garbage mind we face in our fellow men these days. Yes? They know it.
If we can grasp the sentimentalisation of our cultures in the modern West, then we might be able to show our neighbours the flaw, and we might be able to bring some honesty back into the debate about our future course. As things stand now any critique of our societies rests on either frightened libertarianism or Left dhimmi fascism. The edifices of politically correct postmodernism are so shakey that a blast of cold realism will shatter the whole lie. But until that realism comes we are still stuck with a lie as society and culture. We must shatter this lie. We cannot be silent. Wwe must tell the truth. If we don't, the lie will continue, and we will die.