Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mireille

I was just watching lesson twenty of the French In Action videos and somehow caught sight of this:
That's right folks, she's reading this:
Who would've thunk that Mireille was a Lacanian? No wonder she's giving Robert the run-around.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mary Poppins pooped on my lawn

For the last few days, I've had Cat Stevens' Longer Boats in my head, except I don't know all the words, so I make them up. As usual, my lyrics include the word "poop." In this case, the line that Stevens intended to be "I don't want no god on my lawn / Just a flower I can help along" becomes "Mary Poppins pooped on my lawn / And said, 'Here's a beer for you to sip upon.'" At first, it was Danger Kitty instead of Mary Poppins making an appearance in the song, but I like the latter better... for this song, anyway.

I'm not going to blog anymore until Matt cleans the cat box two times (not on the same day, lazyhead).

Blog hog

I'm not going to post any more until Danica posts two times. Get on it, lady.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Aminals


I have a general feeling of loathing for the line of thinking used by animal rights activists which has as its aim to save animals by proving that they are rational creatures just as we humans are. This is the same feeling I get when I am reading someone like St. Augustine, where he takes it as a matter of course that humans are 'better' than animals, as humans are rational. The two lines of thinking are really one. Animals only have value insofar as they are rational. I really think that animal rights (I hate this word!) should find a new language with which to speak of animals. Be that as it may, I still find stories such as this and this to be absolutely fascinating.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Victory of Hitler?

I just finished this translation of Jacques Ellul's "Victoire d'Hitler?" If you find any mistakes, neat.

The Victory of Hitler?*

At a time when Germany and Nazism are crushed, at a time when the victory of the allied armies is finally established, a question remains asked of us by Hitler’s final two agendas, hardly a month before his ruin, where he affirmed his certainty of victory. Everyone laughed at this at the moment, while it was evident that nothing more would be able to save Germany and we thought: your people are whipped, this is madness. Everyone has forgotten this today because the matter is settled. And yet, mustn’t we be wary of this attitude in the face of this man’s assertions? When since 1938 he was threatening, we were saying “blackmail.” When, in January 1940, he said that in July he would be in Paris, we were saying “rodomontade.” When, in 1938, he had spoken of invading Romania and the Ukraine, who took him seriously? And yet, if we had really taken Mein Kampf seriously, if we had really wanted to see in it a plan of action and not, as we usually think is the case with our politicians, an electoral program which we never implement, perhaps we would have taken some precautions. Because everything Hitler did was announced by Mein Kampf: the goals, the methods and the results. He was not able to carry it to the end, but he didn’t lack the will. Everything he said, he did. Can we take these agendas lightly that, while he knew very well that his armies were defeated, he was still affirming his victory?

We notice first that he was not concerned, in his agendas, in an obvious way, with a victory of the current Germany, nor with a military victory. He was concerned with the victory of Nazism and the victory of the eternal Germany, that is to say, if we understand well, with a political victory. And this is not the first time that the defeated comes to defeat its conqueror politically. Thus the armies of the Revolution and of the Empire were, at the end of the day, defeated, but they had carried into all of Europe the idea of the Republic and the sentiment of freedom of which no one could stop the triumphant march to the 19th century.

But what do we see today?

First Hitler proclaimed total war; what is more, total massacre. And we know the rules of his war… Everyone must be aligned with him – and make the war total, that is to say the war of extermination of civilian populations (we’ve been quite successful with this!) and the unlimited use of all the forces and resources of the nations for the purpose of war. We couldn’t do otherwise in order to conquer. Obviously. But is it so certain that one can defeat evil with evil? What is in any case undeniable, is that by leading us to the necessity of massacring civilian populations, Hitler prodigiously engaged us in the way of evil. It is not certain that we can leave it so quickly. And, in the projects of reorganization of the current world, to see the way in which we dispose of minorities, in which we make provisions for the transfer of populations, etc, we might wonder whether the influence with regard to the contempt for human life (in spite of beautiful declarations on human life!) were not deeper than it would be believed.

In addition, the total mobilization had parallel consequences. Not only the fact that the mobilized forces accomplish a task for which they are not made, but above all, the fact that the State is crowned with absolute power.

Of course! We weren’t able to do otherwise. But it is quite remarkable to note that even here we had to follow in Hitler’s footsteps. To carry out the total mobilization of the nation, the entire State must have in its hands all the financial, economic, and vital resilience, and place at the head all the technicians who become first in the nation. Suppression of freedom, suppression of equality, suppression of the provision of goods, suppression of culture in its own right, suppression of things and soon of people of no use to national defense. The State takes everything, the State uses everything by means of technicians. What is this if not dictatorship? It is however what England as well as the United States set up… not to speak of Russia. Absolutism of the State. Primacy of the technicians. We are undoubtedly unaware of the anti-Jewish myth, but are we aware of the anti-Nazi myth or the anti-Communist myth? Undoubtedly we are unaware of the myth of race, but are we unaware of the myth of freedom? Because one can speak of myth when in all discourse it is only a question of freedom while it is practically removed everywhere.

But, we will say, it’s only for a time, it was needed for the war, in peace we will return to freedom. Undoubtedly during a few times after the war, it is possible that in a certain favored countries one finds a certain freedom, but let us be assured that it will be of short duration. After 1918, we also claimed that the measures of war were going to disappear… We have the same measures… Moreover, two things are retained; first the few economic plans of which we are able to have knowledge (the Beveridge plan, the Full Employment plan, the American financial plan) show abundantly that the influence of the State on economic life is an established fact and that we are aiming ourselves toward worldwide economic dictatorship. Then a historical law: the experiment of history shows us that all the State claims as power, it never loses. The most interesting experiment is perhaps that of our French Revolution, which began in ’89 in the name of freedom from absolutism, and arriving in ’91, still in the name of freedom, to Jacobin absolutism. Thus, we can expect tomorrow the establishment of disguised dictatorships in all the countries of the world, the necessity into which Hitler will have driven us. Of course, we can react, we can fight, but who thinks of doing it on this plan?

And this is Hitler’s second victory. We speak much of democracy and freedom. But no one wants to live them anymore. We adopted the habit that the State does everything, and as soon as something goes badly, we hold the State responsible for it. What is there to say except that we demand that the State take charge entirely of the life of the nation? True freedom, who cares about that? A limitation of the State’s rights seems like madness. The workers are the first to demand a dictatorship. The main thing is to know who will make this dictatorship. And the movement in favor of economic and political freedom is hardly sustained except in America, and there only by the “capitalists” who desire to free themselves from the guardianship of the State.

The totality of people, in France as in the United States, will to the contrary stop at nothing to accept a dictatorial government and the economy of the State. The general officialization is nearly an accomplished fact or is fulfilled each day and the disinterestedness of the populace regarding political quarrels, which is undeniable, is a grave sign of that mentality which, there is no doubting it, is “pre-fascist.”

Of course we can try to react. But in the name of what? Freedom made the whole of France to quiver as long as it was the freedom of the Boche. Now freedom loses all its meaning. Freedom with regard to the State? No one bothers with that. And as to this great broken down resilience, the possibility remains for us to appeal to “spiritual values” to make the people work. Ah yes…like Hitler…like Hitler who found the amazing formula of putting the spiritual in the service of the material, of having the spiritual means to realize material ends.

A doctrine of man, of the world, a religion for achieving military and economic power. Little by little, we are also going down this road. We demand mysticism, whatever that is, provided that this mysticism serves the powers, a mysticism which will gain the support of all French hearts, who will make them act with enthusiasm, leaders to the sacrifice in exaltation. Above all we demand this mysticism. Above all we demand that this dictatorship, which we accept implicitly, be totalitarian, that is to say it seizes the whole man, body, spirit, heart, to put it in the service of the nation in an absolute way. The offensive to which we are attending for special training is central to the idea that the Church learn to place the Church before the Nation. This is the symptom of that totalitarianism which grows slowly, insidiously, the sacrifice which prepares man for the Moloch State.

Whoever says that I exaggerate doesn’t see the reality under the tinsel of the discourse. If we only compare the economic, political, social, and administrative life of 1935 to that of 1945 we will see the huge accomplishments in ten years. Yet if we think that to react would suppose that we react against the invasion of the State, against the directed economy, against the police, against the social assistance, we see that we would draw up the totality of the nation against ourselves, because we react against things considered to be good, things of which no one today can say how we could do away with them!

The victory of Hitler, not according to the forms, but at bottom. It is not the same dictatorship, the same mysticism, the same totalitarianism, but it is a dictatorship, a mysticism, a totalitarianism of which we are preparing the bed with enthusiasm (since we are paying for the military defeat of Hitler) and which we would not have if it had not happened. And more than the massacres, here is the satanic work of which he will have been the agent in the world.

The agent only because he has invented nothing. There is a long tradition that prepared this crisis and the names of Machiavelli, Richlieu, of Bismarck, come to mind, and the example of the States which since 1918 already live this dictatorship comes to mind. Hitler only brought to a climax what already was. But he spread this virus and made it grow rapidly.

What then can we say? Do we fold before this driven world in which fate devastates us? Of course not.

But this seems clear, that there is no point to using political or technological means to curb this movement. Before this tide that destroys all spiritual value and man himself by forging his golden chains, he can only draw up men who, because they will be it fully, will not let themselves be absorbed by this civilization, to bow down to this slavery. But how can men in their weakness and sin resist and protect their own destiny in tomorrow’s hive of activity?

In the face of this tide that destroys all spiritual value and man himself, he can only draw up the Man. “Here is the Man.” The Man Jesus Christ who alone smashes the fate of the world, who alone shuts the mouth of Moloch, who alone will tomorrow make men free from the servitude that the world prepares for us today.

*The article appeared in the weekly journal Réforme Saturday June 23, 1945.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Mother of God


Was there ever in the world anyone as great as that blessed woman, the mother of God, the Virgin Mary? And yet how do people speak of her? To say she was favoured among women doesn't make her great, and if it were not for the odd fact that those who listen can think as inhumanly as those who speak, surely every young girl would ask, why am I not favoured too? And had I nothing more to say I should by no means dismiss such a question as stupid; for as regards favors, abstractly considered, everyone is equally entitled. What is left out is the distress, the fear, the paradox. My thought is as pure as the next man's and surely the thought of anyone able to think in this way will be pure; if not, something dreadful is in store; for a person who has once called these images to mind cannot be rid of them again, and if he sins against them, then in their quiet wrath, more terrifying than the clamour of ten voracious critics, they will wreak their awful vengeance on him. No doubt Mary bore the child miraculously, but it went with Mary 'after the manner of women', and such a time is one of fear, distress, and paradox. No doubt the angel was a ministering spirit, but he was not an obliging one who went round to all the other young girls in Israel and said: 'Do not despise Mary, something out of the ordinary is happening to her.' The angel came only to Mary, and no one could understand her. Yet what woman was done greater indignity than Mary, and isn't it true here too that those whom God blesses he damns in the same breath? This is the spirit's understanding of Mary, and she is not at all - as it offends me to say, though even more so that people have mindlessly and irresponsibly thought of her thus - she is not at all the fine lady sitting in her finery and playing with the divine child. Yet for saying notwithstanding, 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord', she is great, and it seems to me that it should not be difficult to explain why she became the mother of God. She needs no worldly admiration, as little as Abraham needs our tears, for she was no heroine and he no hero, but both of them became greater than that, not by any means by being relieved of the distress, the agony, the paradox, but because of these.
- Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (translated by Alastair Hannay)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

On the possibility of joining the Catholic Church

I never expected such tension to arise from my desire to join the Roman Catholic Church. It is not from a lack of desire that I am hesitant about being confirmed. I am hesitant, if that is the correct word for how I am feeling, because I do not know whether it is even possible for me to join the Catholic Church in good conscience.

This is of course the fault of my Protestant upbring (I'm not trying to shit on Protestants. I have no desire to shit on Protestants. I don't even care.). If I had not grown up going to a Southern Baptist church three or four times a week until I was eighteen years old this tension would never have posed a problem, whether because I would never have considered joining the RCC or because joining would have been much easier in the sense that this sort of hesitancy would not have been possible to someone not raised Protestant.

In my theology class my professor has made the claim that one should not accept doctrine on authority alone, one must exercise reason. Otherwise one falls into fideism, as the Southern Baptists do. My professor is a Roman Catholic priest. To put it otherwise, one must use private judgement (at first) when it comes to matters of doctrine.

But is not this entirely backwards? Or is it? Must I assent to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church by some sort of mental gymnastics? But isn't this the way of the Protestants? As a Protestant, I have been attempting to rationalize doctrine my entire life. If I could only set doctrine on a rational foundation everyone would have to become Christian! It only makes sense! This is what the Southern Baptists attempt to do, by their own absurd form of Enlightenment thinking. This is the framework in which I was raised, and this framework became my own. I have spent the past eight or so years desperately trying to rid myself of this mindset and will likely continue this extermination for the rest of my life.

I am told that I need to assent to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church by exercising my private judgement. This is of course only the beginning, as over time I will be led to a life of faith. This is a bit of a reversal and inversion of Anselm's definition of theology, as it is no longer faith seeking understanding, but rather understanding posing as faith. I feel like I'm being ordered (by whom?) to have a complete understanding of Catholic doctrine and make sure it is all in working order and doesn't offend my enlightened sensibilities. Then and only then will the cloud of faith descend from heaven and surround me, so that gaining faith will be no more difficult than breathing in that lovely cloudstuff of reasoning.

I can't help but reject this outright. I have no desire to join the Roman Catholic Church because I, through private reflection, have found Catholic doctrine acceptable in my eyes. Who the hell am I to say if their doctrine is up to par? I want to join the RCC because I trust that they have the authority to make such doctrinal claims. But how am I to found this trust if not on my own Private Judgement? Through faith, of course. But I'm not supposed to have faith yet. And I'm not so sure I am in the possession of anything I can rightly label faith.

So it comes down to the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Either I accept their authority by my own reasoning, which I find unacceptable, or I have faith that they are the True Church and the Holy Spirit wouldn't let them err in matters of doctrine. But I'm supposed to reach the possibility of faith only after I've subjected these doctrines to thorough rational scrutiny. And I'm back where I began.

Thus, is it possible for a Protestant to join the Roman Catholic Church in good conscience?

It is in this state that I am attending the Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults at the Newman Centre at McGill University.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I'm a one man all-star game


Danica Ladypants at times gets on my case because I have no friends here in Canada and I seem to have no ambition when it comes to making friends. Both are true. As I have told the Ladypants, I don't want new friends. I want my old friends back. I want Vald and The Black Hand back. I'm told I'm living in the past and need to move on.

No.

No, I don't need to move on. I've a better idea. The Black Hand needs to move to The Mountain O' Royality. I've taken it upon myself to see to it that this happens. It'll be perfect. Then we can get old and bald together, smoking rolled cigarettes on the porch in our underwear, listening to Mahler, drinking homebrew beer (none of that Canadian swill).

If I get The Black Hand out here Vald will be forced to visit as often as he can, because the powerful pull of The Black Hand, moi-meme and Ladypants will be much too much to resist.

[I just saw an AT&T commercial where people were singing a song the lyrics of which went "There is nothing quite as wonderful as money. There is nothing quite as beautiful as cash..." Lovely!]

I've got nothin'.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Consumer madness

I am in love with this sweater, but it's costs $650. Why???