I have no idea how much attention John C. Wright’s impassioned essay, which I cited yesterday, has received. I hope the answer is “enormous,” as it deserves that much, but in the main people are averse to confronting their own sins. And let’s be candid here: just about all of us are complicit in the crimes Wright has enumerated. For most of us, our contribution has been an unwise degree of tolerance for what should never have been tolerated at all.
The evil jewel has innumerable facets, but the core of the gem is the tolerance of lies. Sensible people stood mute and idle while others promulgated unrealities and demanded that they displace objective realities.
Unreality kills. Indeed, it’s deadlier than any tangible weapon Man has yet devised.
Do I really have to explain that? Have we lost so much of our sense for our own natures that we can no longer see how unreality undermines the foundations of human existence?
Oh well. At this hour I don’t have much else to do.
No other neologism has attained the power and uniformity of interpretation achieved by the term gaslighting:
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s belief….
Sociopaths and narcissists frequently use gaslighting tactics to abuse and undermine their victims. Sociopaths consistently transgress social mores, break laws and exploit others, but typically also are convincing liars, sometimes charming ones, who consistently deny wrongdoing. Thus, some who have been victimized by sociopaths may doubt their own perceptions. Some physically abusive spouses may gaslight their partners by flatly denying that they have been violent. Gaslighting may occur in parent–child relationships, with either parent, child, or both lying to the other and attempting to undermine perceptions.
An abuser’s ultimate goal is to make their victim second-guess their every choice and question their sanity, making them more dependent on the abuser.
Patrick Hamilton’s play Gaslight gave the term its interpretation. The 1944 Charles Boyer / Ingrid Bergman movie embedded it firmly in our popular lexicon. But why? What accounts for its power?
The answer is appallingly simple, though few people bother to reflect on it:
When no fact is reliable,
No purposive action is possible.
The mind deprived of the ability to rely upon its sense data is paralyzed thereby. Similarly, the society that is allowed no solidity – that is, no objectively true and enduring reality, agreed upon by all sane persons at all times – is paralyzed. It cannot support itself nor act in its own defense and will swiftly deteriorate into chaos. Chaos means death, both for the individual and for his society.
Purpose only sets goals. Action is required to pursue and fulfill them. Unreality deprives us of the ability to know what will result from our actions. Thus, when unreality displaces reality, action becomes impossible. Death will swiftly follow. It cannot be made simpler than that.
And a cocoon of unrealities wraps ever more tightly around us.
Most of the ranting and raving I do here addresses political questions. That’s fairly commonplace for bloggers of my generation. And to be sure, many of the lies being pressed upon us are political in nature. But there are others, nominally separate from any political question of note, that are at least as destructive as any Usurper Regime policy to date. Wright addresses them all; I shan’t recount them here. But in one brief sentence of diamond-tipped penetration, he elucidates the intent of the promulgators:
Theirs is the motto of the unhinged egomaniac: Thou art God.
God is the conceptual instantiation of our fundamental conviction that reality is real. (Yes, yes: He exists, though in a supratemporal, supra-spatial sense. I’m talking about the importance of the concept of a Supreme Being in undergirding our metaphysics.) We rely upon reality – we consider it reliable — because we believe that it is God’s handiwork, and that He made it lawful. Without God, the universe is foundationless. It has no “why.” The impossible and mutually contradictory are as admissible to our thinking as the possible and logically consistent.
Metaphysics abhors a vacuum quite as much as does Nature. Something will flow into the space from which we have expelled God. The promulgators of unreality intend to take that vacated space for their own. What they desire shall be theirs regardless of its impossibility. What displeases them, they will simply decree not to be.
You don’t have to squint to see the end in view.
I’ve relied heavily upon the intelligence of my Gentle Readers. Individuals near to the axis of the Big Bad Bell Curve would find the argument above confusing, perhaps even incomprehensible. You have to be fairly far to the right of that axis to have a chance of integrating it – and integrating it, rather than merely accepting it as true by decree, is the critical event. It renders you capable of acting as an ambassador for it.
How odd that last sentence must seem to you! Does reality need ambassadors? Time was, you might have said “No, it can speak clearly enough for itself.” But these are not normal times. The concept of normality itself is under severe and sustained attack.
This is my “briefer jeremiad.” If you grasp what I’ve said here, you have a mission, one as imperative as Jeremiah felt his to be:
Then I said: I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name: and there came in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was wearied, not being able to bear it. [Jeremiah 20:9]
Jeremiah was persecuted for his preachments and prophecies. It’s the price of witnessing to reality in an Empire of Lies. And with that, I believe I’ll close for today.
Thank you Fran. You encapsulated much that I’ve been forced to confront. I’ve written about these matters, unsatisfactorily in my own opinion, so my reactions have appeared merely as comments here and there, and only incomplete drafts of more extensive essays.
You once compared me to Jeremiah. But I knew my torments were merely psychological (due to the lack of response by most everyone who heard me), not the severe torment and tortures inflicted on that prophet. In helping salve those burns, your vision and friendship has been priceless. This short piece serves as a fine example.