Saturday, February 16, 2013

My response to that author with the annoyingly difficult to remember nickname

Why can't Takuan Seiyo find a better nom de plume; one more easily memorable?  I find myself, every time I want to refer to him, having to recheck the maddeningly counter-intuitive spelling.  Is the guy even Japanese at all?

Anyway, while he is demonstrably smart and erudite and has a facile grasp of broad historical and philosophical currents, there seems to be something about his inordinately voluble and verbose monographs that smacks of the glibly simplistic polyhistor -- a richly ironic over-simplification, given the massively dilatory complications he burdens his prose with.

I posted the following comment in the comments section at Gates of Vienna appended to his latest essay, Part 10 (!) of what he calls "The Bee and the Lamb":

Just as a broad observation, albeit one cutting to the heart of the matter, while the focus of this essay is certainly useful on one level and from a particular perspective, I find its fixation to be massively beside the point of the problem (the main problem we face today, the only problem I'm interested in: recovering our memory and rationality vis-à-vis our perennial enemy, Muslims) -- to wit, that we find today that the majority of non-Leftist, non-Marxist conservatives and centrists (along with that vast demographic swath broadly cultivated in the West but often overlooked, the Comfortably Apolitical & Functionally Agnostic) basically follow and more or less passively enable, if they do not even support, the politically correct multiculturalist paradigm -- not with regard necessarily to diversity in general or cultures in general, but only with regard to Islam and to Muslims.

This to me is the far more interesting, perplexing, and important dimension of the Problem than yet another treatise diagnosing the Dead Horse of Leftism/Marxism (even granting that that animal continues to spasm with St. Vitus's dance).

[End quote.]

There is of course much more to be said about this; and many of my essays over the years here have palpated the many complex contours of the tissues of this issue.  For now, I just wanted to advert to, as I say, the heart of the matter.

I was reminded of this recently by stumbling across yet another disheartening Voegelinian who shows signs of PC MC with regard to the problem of Islam.  And it's not just that it's an individual scholar with PC MC, but also that he is unproblematically inducted into the scholarly society of Voegelinians without any apparent challenge from his colleagues to his PC MC with regard to the problem of Islam.  And to remind the reader, Voegelinians as a sociological and intellectual subset of our Western culture represent probably the least "Leftist", least "Marxist" people on the planet.  So we cannot blame their PC MC with regard to the problem of Islam on those particular modern pathologies.

But more about that coming up soon.


Takuan Seiyo responded:

Re: only with regard to Islam and Muslims.
"You are flat wrong. Or maybe you are right with respect to the country where you live (Spain? Brazil?). In the Anglophony at least it’s the opposite of what you stated."
And I just now responded to his response:

While there are conservatives in the West who are beholden to broader axioms of PC MC with regard to "minorities" in general, I wouldn't say the *majority* of them are -- which is what I stipulated.  One will often find non-Leftist/non-Marxists who otherwise are very concerned about Hispanic immigration, or inner-city black crimes, etc.; but when the topic of Islam and Muslims comes up, they suddenly clam up and go into PC MC mode, or its Counter-Jihad flavor, what I term "asymptoticism" (which is basically the posture of trying to sound tough and no-nonsense about "radical Islamism" but meanwhile the fine print anxiously worried about "bigotry" and "tarring with a broad brush" augmented by "I know many fine Muslims" taketh away the large print ostensibly pledged to defend our societies.

I thus stand by what I said.

As for your larger series, would I be off the mark to say that if it doesn't focus on Leftism/Marxism, it makes up for that by depicting the problem as one of "liberalism" and thus ignoring the broader problem of the traditional virtues of Western Civilization succumbing, through a process internal and hence immune from scapegoating demonization and too complex for chemotherapy or invasive surgery to be useful (and not rather disastrous), to a hectic "excess of health" -- for which the remedy cannot be allopathic but more... holistic (the antonym I use, coincidentally, for "asymptotic")?

Second Update:

I just posted the following comment on that same comments thread at Gates of Vienna, in response to a rather off-handed and casually terse comment by Takuan Seiyo:

"That’s why I don’t write much about what’s sick in Islam. It’s none of our business, anyway. Our business is what’s sick in the West that brought Islam in, and how to countervail."

Of course, I agree.  There is the problem of Islam; then there is the Problem of the Problem -- which is the West's persisting myopia to the problem of Islam.  I just disagree with the diagnosis by certain elements of the "Gates of Vienna Circle" of what constitutes the problem.  Not only do I find it distracting and counter-productive to sublimate the Problem of the Problem into an existential and cosmic level (where often the primary problem -- of Islam -- shrinks in comparison to what is considered to be the "real" problem, some gargantuan evil of a West supposedly increasingly rotten to the core, with Gnostic overtones of a cosmic battle between Good and Evil, where the aforementioned myopia of the West, and the PC MC which frames it, becomes transmogrified into a Satanas Ex Machina as the only way to explain the Problem of the Problem).  I think such a tendency, needless to say, could have disastrous consequences. 

This talk of a "solution" to the primary problem (of Islam) was nicely dispatched by Hugh Fitzgerald in his essay, When It Comes To Islam, Please Stop This "Problem" and "Solution" Business.  Fitzgerald regularly tried to remind enthusiasts in the Counter-Jihad that the best we can hope for is management of that problem, not a "solution".

In addition, the Problem of the Problem reveals, on closer analysis, subsidiary problems -- one of which is this unnecessary, if not reckless, transmutation of a pragmatic war of ideas predicated upon faith, hope and trust in the health of our Western civiliation, into a cosmic, quasi-apocalyptic civil war a-brewing.  Nota bene: One doesn't have to frame the Problem of the Problem explicitly in these terms to be, nevertheless, participating in fomentation thereof.  It all depends, again, on how the Problem of the Problem is diagnosed.  (For more, see my essay, only partially facetiously titled The problem: the problem of the problem, the problem of the problem of the problem—and the problem of the problem of the problem of the problem.) 


Anonymous said...

Hi Hesp: I think that TS's nickname is a play on words because he lives in Japan and has an altogether too high regard for himself and his ideas.

I believe that Takuan Seiyo stands for "Take you and see you" like a gambler playing a better hand than his fellow players.

After our last exchange, TS petulantly threatened to stop writing essays for GoV if GoV allowed me to comment on any of his future essays.

Yeesh! Summary = TS can give it, but he can't take it. And, he definitely does NOT want to see it if it shows his ideas to be 'less than' he imagines. In short, TS shows the SAME intolerance for dissent as the professors that he left behind in the two doctoral programs that he abandoned.

It is easier to spell 'hypocrite' than to spell his nickname....


Hesperado said...

Wow Egghead, I didn't realize Takuan was that sensitive.

I have noticed, however, that Baron Bodissey bows to him like Obama does to Oriental tyrants...

Anonymous said...

Hi Hesp: Here's a question for you: Is Marxism an outgrowth of Judeo-Christian culture or Islam?

Over at TS's latest essay, a curious commenter posits that Marxism is a result of Islam. What say you?


Hesperado said...

Hi Egghead,

I kind of addressed your question in my long response to Zenster in the Wellington tennis thread. Most of what I know of Marx comes through my reading of Voegelin, who studied him thoroughly. He never mentioned an Islam connection. Voegelin's view is that Marxism is a late concoction sharing a similar psychology and to some extent intellectual debt with previous thinkers and currents of thought which he (Voegelin) defines loosely as "Gnostic", which he argues has been a perennial constant tendency and temptation popping up now and again throughout history, at least as far back as about 500 BC. When the Christian order began to become sociopolitically dominant by the 5th century AD, many Gnostic currents, reflected in certain heresies and societies of magic and alchemy had to go underground. The Reformation in certain ways liberated many of them, and/or provided ways for some of them, or their ideas, to become more "mainstream" in the form of certain Protestant sects. In the meantime, as Modernity continued to unfold, there were parallel developments of increasingly secular speculation, and by the 19th century (given an immense boost by the Enlightenment and the French Revolution which haunted the 19th century and in a sense generated the simplistic dichotomy of "Left" and "Right") you had a proliferation of "New Agey" type thought and communialism and utopianism; along with an amorphous welter of anomie, tedium vitae, depression, anxiety, chemical addictions, sexual perversions, interest in magic and spiritualism, curiosity about the "Orient", nihilism, anarchism, and enthusiasm about "progress" along with a vague sense of Spenglerian gloom about the West. Basically, the 19th century was a mess and all over the map culturally, psychologically and philosophically, even as it was one of the most productive and technologically and scientifically progressive spans of time in all Western history, meanwhile globalism was vigorous as Western nations flexed their Colonialist muscles all over the world, establishing an international network of a world economy; even if there was a Dickensian dark side to the "Age of Industry", with many of the neuroses (if not sometimes psychoses) I listed above being expressions of a profound ennui about where life and society were going. This was the general milieu Marx came of age in, as increasingly he formulated a vision to save the West from itself.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hesp: Voegelin is really lucky to have such a deep fan club that so many people refer to him with such reverence.

I never heard of him before I knew of the anti-jihad movement where a few seem to quote him a lot.

What's his appeal? :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Hesp: No, no. I believe that the 'cosmic, quasi-apocalyptic civil war a-brewing' will be full-on apocalyptic!