Saving grace

“Mencius Moldbug has a typically shapeless piece on me [says Lawrence Auster] in which he pays me extravagant compliments which have precisely zero content. I defy anyone to say what Moldbug’s 2,600 word article means.”

Please let it not mean that Moldbug is on a journey to the cross.

February 22, 2013admin 28 Comments »
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28 Responses to this entry

  • spandrell Says:

    hehehehe.
    It’s the easy way out when you run out of ideas.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 22nd, 2013 at 10:09 am Reply | Quote
  • Handle Says:

    The capacity to personalize the superhuman, and to use this fictional anthropomorphism as a mechanism by which we may approach the superhuman, is characteristically human. I suppose I will never be anything but a “secular humanist,” but I have learned in this way to respect, admire, and sometimes even envy my Christian friends. … It strikes me as quite implausible that when our dark age ends and the kings return, if ever, it will be under any banner but the Cross.

    So, I had this friend and he enjoyed rigorous exercise. Something in his constitution and upbringing, his received synthesis of nature and nature combined with his own volitions and self-developments, made him want and enjoy it. As a result, he could eat whatever he likes in whatever quantity and stay fit and lean. He spent too much money and time, in my opinion, on expensive, faddish athletic hobbies (e.g. mountain climbing) but it’s hit thing and it makes him happy and it improves his life.

    And I envy him for it. I wish I was naturally like that and that I could somehow reset my whole personality and character to be more like his in this regard. How much would I give? How much bullshit would I allow myself to swallow if the promise of sincere and genuine ingestion was a highly probably deliverance to my pragmatic salvation with contentment?

    Ok, I stretch this (true) example a bit too far, but really less than it seems. I once spent a long time surrounded by Utah Mormons and the communities they have created are very close to exactly what many traditionalists claim they want, if only they could over the theology. Or, at least as close as probably could be even temporarily preserved in our world without utter segregation and isolation from it. And that is an accomplishment, and it will reward study and analysis.

    As for me, even as a man of faith, I can tell that I have no capacity to adopt Mormonism, even though I understand completely that the specific content of the theology is not at all the point. It has to have something in there, it’s all going to be absurd from an outside perspective no matter what it is, but it works. That is, just like the exercise example above, it benefits people while also making them happy. It socially encourages and psychologically conditions them to enjoy the various, otherwise challenging and uncomfortable, exertions of self-discipline, leading to positive consequences both for the individual and the community of which he is a part.

    So me let me abstract away, at least somewhat, from the actual content of “Christianity” to say that, when Moldbug talks about “the banner of the Cross,” I think it’s going to be something like this. “Religion” is too anthropologist-abstract, not quite le bon mot for what I’m talking about. I don’t like “The Cathedral” either, but as analogy to “The Church” I can’t think of anything catchier. We may have to live with “The Cross” as well.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 22nd, 2013 at 12:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    The Cross is most certainly ‘catchy’, as the Romans discovered.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 22nd, 2013 at 2:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    Who’s to say that the cross isn’t itself the best vaccine against the excesses of Christianity’s late and most virulent excesses?

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 22nd, 2013 at 3:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    Hardly a problem in Moldbug’s case, surely?

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 22nd, 2013 at 3:52 pm Reply | Quote
  • Vladimir Says:

    I don’t understand this ongoing obsession with what Moldbug might be thinking currently. He has sent a pretty clear message that he has no more interest in prolific and cogent “reactionary enlightenment” writing that once gave him some renown, and his current output, besides being much more sparse, is obviously little more than casual venting out without much thought. Why not just stop focusing on the man, when he clearly has no more desire to be in the spotlight or to engage in public discourse?

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    Posted on February 22nd, 2013 at 4:59 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nick B Steves Says:

    One cannot be too careful. Moldbug’s roots and upbringing likely make him as hostile to the lies of the Cathedral as he is acclimated to their deceitful charms. As the mind ages, necessarily growing weary of the fight, and perhaps as grandchildren start to come into view, it is not hard to imagine any man resigning himself to the existence of an author of the truth, beauty, and virtue in which he had always believed.

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    Posted on February 22nd, 2013 at 6:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    “Why not just stop focusing on the man …?” Moldbug has made an extraordinary, and still largely unprocessed, contribution to political theory. It is natural that his work would attract attention — with only a minuscule fraction of this spilling over onto ‘the man’. In a world shaped by Christianity, in which work and life together compose a single drama of faith (or acceptance of salvation), a minimal ‘biographical’ element is difficult to avoid. If Moldbug eventually succumbs it will be widely interpreted as a teleological inevitability, already detectable in his work from the beginning — a deep tropism towards “the existence of an author of the truth, beauty, and virtue in which he had always believed.” His exaggerated genuflections before the Western religious tradition do little to dispel this possibility.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 22nd, 2013 at 11:33 pm Reply | Quote
  • ErisGuy Says:

    Even dying, Auster cannot be charitable to people to like his blog. Instead he’s furious at them for not meeting his standard for approval. Awful.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 23rd, 2013 at 12:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    OK, but when Moldy goes into overdrive with his whole reactionary piety schtick, he’s asking for a kick in the shins.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 23rd, 2013 at 1:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • Cambrensis Says:

    Spandrell:

    ” t’s the easy way out when you run out of ideas.”

    I would say it comes with the realisation that ideas won’t save you. Reaction, if it comes, will certainly be religious: if not the restoration of the Cross, then perhaps the resurgence of the Rune or the imposition of the Crescent. Take your pick …

    http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/09/islamism-putting-the-right-to-shame/

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 23rd, 2013 at 1:21 pm Reply | Quote
  • Christopher Says:

    “Even dying, Auster cannot be charitable to people to like his blog.”

    And I find that refreshing.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 23rd, 2013 at 2:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • ErisGuy Says:

    Fine by me. Kick him all you want; Larry can, too. Auster doesn’t have to die with dignity by my opinion. And he isn’t. I think it bad manners and bad taste to complain from one’s death bed that Moldbug’s encomium isn’t good enough. One wonders what praises would be acceptable to Auster.

    “Please let it not mean that Moldbug is on a journey to the cross.”

    I don’t know the shape of the future. In watching others’ predictions fail, I try to minimize my own. I believe that medieval Christians would be horrified about what is taken in modernity as the tenets of their faith. I’d like to think that socialism will disappear after its performance in the 20th century (and, now, in the 21st), but names endure even if doctrines wax and wane. If Moldbug follows Auster in conversion, there is no telling what he might actually believe.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 23rd, 2013 at 2:44 pm Reply | Quote
  • Christopher Says:

    “If Moldbug eventually succumbs it will be widely interpreted as a teleological inevitability”

    He’s got the stomach for it but not the liver.

    Won’t happen.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 23rd, 2013 at 2:46 pm Reply | Quote
  • Christopher Says:

    “Kick him all you want; Larry can, too.”

    I’m not kicking Mencius.

    Larry’s going to be Larry until he’s not. I like that.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 23rd, 2013 at 2:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    @ErisGuy

    I don’t thing Aquinas would be horrified for what passes for the de jure teaching (even if not de fact) of his Church–teaching which he largely solidified. He would be horrified by liturgial shenanigans, laxity, and most of all a profound paucity of knowledge in an almost universally literate Western Church. But the doctrine, qua doctrine (i.e., set of “tenets”), is relatively little changed. And if Aquinas looked hard enough he would find the faithful… and he would find them breeding like rabbits.

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    Posted on February 23rd, 2013 at 4:31 pm Reply | Quote
  • Handle Says:

    Auster would only accept an encomium from the current version of Auster.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 23rd, 2013 at 4:43 pm Reply | Quote
  • Handle Says:

    When I reply, I don’t see the replies as threaded to the original comment. Is that a setting, or do I need to adjust something on my end?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Should be fixed now (thanks to my techno-genius better half)

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 23rd, 2013 at 4:46 pm Reply | Quote
  • JP Says:

    Dude, the white and electric blue on black HURTS the eyes.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I basically stole Nydwracu’s (tumblr) color scheme.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 23rd, 2013 at 8:42 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    @Cambrensis I’ve written something similar myself. But it’s not about salvation. If Moldbug wanted salvation he wouldn’t live in San Francisco.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 24th, 2013 at 2:41 am Reply | Quote
  • vimothy Says:

    I don’t know, it’s a literary metaphor, isn’t it? It’s hard to read anything particularly _Christian_ into the post. What I gt is that Moldbug has respect for order. Moldbug has respect for religion. Moldbug has respect for the past. Maybe it’s not obvious how sincere that respect is. Maybe he has a kind of kludgy way of expressing it. On the other hand, I don’t see how anyone could be a reactionary without it.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    On the other hand, Moldbug himself manages to avoid that tone of saccharine piety 90+% of the time. I think he talks himself into it, thinking such overwrought sentiments are something a reactionary in good standing should express, but if his ‘liver’ was in it (to steal from Christopher, above), then it wouldn’t sound so forced. ‘Feelings’ is a thing best left to progressive idiots. Let the priests and demagogues play to people’s emotions — there aren’t enough of us out here in the icy wastes to make that kind of nonsense worthwhile. It’s not as if passionate action is a goal he embraces.

    [Reply]

    vimothy Reply:

    I think he talks himself into it, thinking such overwrought sentiments are something a reactionary in good standing should express, but if his ‘liver’ was in it (to steal from Christopher, above), then it wouldn’t sound so forced.

    Actually, I think I agree with you on this. Moldbug generally affects a kind of ironic, gen-x-y style that is not typical of reactionaries–and perhaps is even antithetical to them (hence, e.g., Auster’s “frankly brutal criticisms”). There was an interesting exchange at Abu Muqawama’s blog, many moons ago. It went like this:

    *Anon visitor*:

    Mencius: there’s a distinct undertone in all of your writings, both here and at UR, that you don’t want people to take you seriously. Do you not want the responsibility and the consequences of making your ideas (which I think are generally sound) a reality? Is it safer to stay in the land of make believe?

    *Mencius Moldbug*:

    Visitor, that’s the first time here someone has said something genuinely hurtful to me!

    My answer is that my primary fidelity is to the truth, and the truth is that in the present real world my perspective will not be “taken seriously” however it is presented. Hence, if I played it like the Cato Institute, and presented myself in a way that made it appear that influential policymakers were considering or might consider isolationism, etc, I would be misinforming anyone who actually does read my posts. This would be an act of genuine, rather than symbolic, irresponsibility.

    I much prefer the symbolic irresponsibility, because I feel it more faithfully expresses the utter futility of action. Until this futility is broadly accepted, there is no possibility of any actual change. Washington does not need another intellectual who pretends to matter, but doesn’t. It already has plenty of those. Before any regime can be changed, the present one must be entirely renounced and held in contempt – in short, withdrawn from consent. There are other tools besides mockery for this, but few better.

    *Anon visitor*:

    Mencius,
    You are correct that your recommendations will not be accepted by those in power or those seeking power. Your fidelity is, as you say, to the truth. But what you call symbolic irresponsibility is an excuse. We are all responsible for our actions and the gifts bestowed upon us. Your gift happens to be an uncanny ability to separate truth from lie in the political realm. With your knowledge, you owe a duty to society at large to educate. You are shirking this responsibility. You do a disservice both to yourself and to the truth by trolling the CNAS blog (and various other blogs) and speaking truth to power when it makes no difference. The battle is fought in the hearts and minds of individuals, not groups. You started on the right path at UR but grew both the length and verbosity of your posts to scare away any sort of popularity, and stopped responding to comments.

    It’s not too late to get back on track.

    “Mencius Moldbug”:

    Visitor,

    I hate to say it, but you’ve found the secret to chiding me into submission. Please don’t spread it around.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    That’s extremely helpful, but ominous. Does MM have a bad conscience about his greatest stylistic traits? His lofty, light-footed — I would say scornfully amused — mode of engagement with the gravest of topics is pure delight IMHO. I’d just repeat, with your specific context in mind, Please let it not mean that Moldbug is on a journey to the cross.
    On the other side, even his confession of bad conscience is light-footed and amusing. Perhaps he will evade the puritans after all.

    Posted on February 24th, 2013 at 1:12 pm Reply | Quote
  • Cambrensis Says:

    Spandrell:

    ” If Moldbug wanted salvation he wouldn’t live in San Francisco.”

    Maybe it’s living there that inclines him to think on such matters, if he does. (“… he delivered Lot out of the destruction of the cities wherein he had dwelt.”)

    I believe MM has a young child, a daughter. That often affects one’s perspective.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 24th, 2013 at 11:00 pm Reply | Quote

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