The very foundation of relativism—expressed as “the absolute absence of the absolute,” to borrow Samuel Beckett’s phrase–is itself self-contradictory [eat your heart out, Gertrude Stein 😉 ]. Chew on that morsel for a bit.
Theodor Adorno, philosopher, musicologist, academic, and Frankfurt School member, is a name familiar to many in the “truth movement,” due in part to assertions some have made that he was instrumental in transforming The Beatles from a struggling British band, playing seedy Hamburg clubs, into the culture-changing phenomenon they eventually became.
What many may not know, however, is that the Tavistock Institute associate, in the 1950s, also authored a personality test that, at least ostensibly, was intended to measure the level to which a person has traits and thought patterns supposedly associated with fascism.
To establish some context for a discussion of Adorno as a psychometrician, J.Q. first takes a look at the murky history of psychological testing, with its early origins in the work of Charles Darwin and his cousin, Francis Galton–who both, arguably, approached “mental testing” from a eugenicist perspective. J.Q. also touches on some of the odder aspects of the field, such as Timothy Leary‘s background as a psychometrician who developed a test that has been used by the CIA to screen potential employees, as well as the Church of Scientology’s use of a personality inventory as a recruitment tool. These extremes of the field are also contextualized with a look at notable critiques of the validity of even widely used, mainstream instruments such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
J.Q. then takes an in-depth look at Adorno’s odd little psychometric instrument–called The F-Scale–which has also been used at times as an employment screening test. Is it valid to suggest that having traits like a conservative view toward homosexuality, or a belief in an omniscient supernatural power, is evidence of a “fascistic” personality? Or does this test itself, at least to an extent, reflect author biases reflective of a worldview that is itself highly authoritarian?
- How fascist are you? Take an online interactive version of The F Scale now!
- Lee, Martin, and Bruce Shlain. Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond: Grove Press, 2007
- Paul, Ann Murphy. The Cult of Personality Testing: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves. Free Press, 2005
- The Ghost of Authoritarianism in the Age of the Shutdown (truthdig.com)
- My forthcoming book: Pynchon and Philosophy: Wittgenstein, Foucault and Adorno (Palgrave, 2014) (martineve.com)
- The “Life” of Theodor W. Adorno: One Last Genius (3quarksdaily.com)
Podcast #10 of Thoughts from a Useless Eater is another guest appearance by J.Q. on The Alembic Files, for Part 4 of the continuing series “Poetic Perplexities: Emerging Visions of Global Empire?” In this segment, J.Q. joins Al and Theo to continue the discussion of the poet Philip Freneau, zooming in on some of the historical highlights of the French Revolution. In examining this historical timeline, the intent is to gain more of a handle on the implications of a figure like Freneau being a supporter of the French Revolution (at least in its early stages), as “hooked in” as he was with highly influential members of the early Democratic Republicans—a single party that is in fact the root of the two-party system in the U.S. today.
As we delve into some of the more astonishing aspects of the French regime under the influence of Robespierre, such as the promotion of The Cult of Reason as a state-sanctioned, atheistic (but with strongly neo-pagan elements) “state religion” to replace Christianity, and the use of fears of terrorism as a justification for the increasing role of the Committee of Public Safety as the primary instrument of state control, are we seeing elements of a vision for the direction of American government and society among at least some of the Democratic Republicans? And are we, perhaps, seeing something almost “prophetic,” in terms of observing elements of a roadmap that in some sense may still be followed by factions within the American power structure today?
- Philip Freneau’s “The English Quixote of 1778; Or, Modern Idolatry” (willoreldew.wordpress.com)
- In the Reign of Terror: A Story of the French Revolution (homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com)
- Camille Desmoulins (1760-1794) (hottiesofyore.wordpress.com)
- Twelve Angry Men (hannahleewhite.wordpress.com)
Part 3 of “When the World Stopped Making Sense,” a continuing series within Thoughts from a Useless Eater–the podcast that seeks a better understanding of “the way things really are in the world,” from a Christian perspective.
In this segment, J.Q. Useless continues a multi-part examination of construct that he calls “material, middle-class fake rationality,” a way of looking at the world that was arguably promulgated to those in American society beginning with the post-World-War-II “baby boom” generation. It’s a worldview centered on ideas of naturalistic/scientific rationality, of a supposedly free-market economic system that allegedly operates according to a “fair set of rules,” and of a society with a social contract in which people who work hard and “play by the rules” can expect to be rewarded with a decent standard of living–a worldview in which the individual can rely on his or her own strengths under a social structure said to have been set up with the best interests of the individual in mind.
J.Q. continues the breakdown of this worldview into ten component parts, examining issues that point to the construct’s arguable invalidity and deceptiveness. As he discusses the third and fourth of the ten characteristics of the model, he touches on issues related to the rapid advances in the 20th century in medicine and technology, examining the extent to which these advances have lived up to their promise of being beneficial to the common man and the quality of life of the individual. Over the course of this discussion, J.Q. touches on The Flexner Report, a study sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation that was instrumental in changing medical education in the United States and by extension, the emergence of allopathic medicine (the pharmacology-oriented branch of medicine practised by those who hold the M.D. Degree) as the dominate mode of medical practice, at one point nearly extinguishing alternative approaches such as homoeopathic, holistic, chiropractic, and osteopathic medicine.
Critiques of the Flexner Report have not by any means been confined to the “fringe” or “conspiracy” realms. As a salient example, J.Q. discusses a retrospective analysis published in 2010 in The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. He then moves on to a key text from a more vociferous opponent of the Flexner Report and its impact on medicine: Emanuel M. Josephson, M.D., a New York City physician and author works viewed as central texts among many American conspiracy theorists, who alleges that Rockefeller and allied industrialists exploited the Flexner report’s findings to re-shape medicine to the benefit of the emerging pharmaceutical industry and, by extension, to the financial benefit of a monied elite as part of an ongoing effort to further consolidate power and influence.
The fourth characteristic of J.Q.’s model concerns the advances of science and technology and the almost religious faith the American middle class began to place in them. Through a mix of examples at the personal and societal level, J.Q. makes the case that this faith in science and technology had its peak in a period that began in the years following World War II in the United States but began to shatter some 25-30 years later as limitations, exposed through such developments as the emergence of drug-resistant infectious origins and insidious side effects of drugs whose introduction into the population may have been inappropriately accelerated for pecuniary motivations, and emerging questions about the efficacy and possible hazards of vaccines.
Thomas Duffy, M.D. “The Flexner Report – 100 Years Later.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 84(3), September 2011. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3178858/.
Emanuel M. Josephson, M.D. Your Life is Their Toy: Merchants in Medicine. New York: Chedney Press, 1948. Available at http://www.amazon.com/Your-Life-Their-Toy-Merchants/dp/B0007EL4NQ.
- Various Systems of Alternative Medicine (medicineinstitutes.wordpress.com)
- New Xulon Title Displays Christian Approach to Medicine (prnewswire.com)
- Criminal Medicine not Science Based! (wmorris33.wordpress.com)
J.Q. Useless concludes his introductory / personal testimony sequence, touching on Harold Camping’s prediction of the second coming of Christ in 1994, 9/11 and 9/11 truth movements, the financial crisis of 2008, and truth radio as they have related to his walk with Christ and his drive to explore the New World Order and related issues from a Christian, end-times prophecy perspective.
In this third segment of “Poetic Perplexities: Emerging Visions of Global Empitre?”, a continuing series on The Alembic Files, J.Q. Useless joins A.L. Aric to explore the perplexing life and career of Philip Freneau, the late 18th/early 19th century poet, sea captain, journalist, newspaper editor and friend or associate of many of the founding fathers, including Madison and Jefferson.
Freneau, who is reputed among some literary critics as “the father of American poetry,” is of particular interest to the general subject matter of The Alembic Files because he is also purported to have been “the Anti-Federalist poet.” By examining the content of selected poems of Freneau in the context biographical information and the surrounding historical milieu, A.L. and J.Q. explore the notion that Freneau may have been something quite different.
Is it even accurate to characterize Freneau, an early sympathizer with the French Revolution, as an Anti-Federalist at all? If so, we are arguably looking at a form of Anti-Federalism very different from what those who study The Anti-Federalist Papers are familiar with–especially given Freneau’s engagement with Jacobinism which, at the peak of the French Revolution, led to a powerful state regime that prefigures many of the characteristics of the totalitarian systems that emerged in the 20th century.
- Podcast #5: J.Q. Useless Guest Appearance on The Alembic Files with A.L. Aric (uselesseatersinstitute.wordpress.com)
- Podcast #4: J.Q. Useless Guest Appearance on The Alembic Files with A.L. Aric (uselesseatersinstitute.wordpress.com)
- The Anti-Federalist Papers (malpartisan.wordpress.com)
In my non-pseudonymous world last week, I got into what became a pretty intense apologetics discussion online. It was with a friend whom I haven’t communicated with in the offline world for perhaps 20 years. But we have reconnected, to a limited extent, in the online world over the past couple of years.
This person wasn’t exactly a close friend, even back in the day. But he is a talented individual whom I had admired and respected quite a bit, and still do. But apparently, over the years, he has gone to some places spiritually that I find disturbing, seeming to be at least flirting with, if not fully embracing, ideas that seem to come from various new age, gnostic, and perhaps even Luciferian realms.
The question of what motivates people to go in these directions has always bewildered me. If you believe in the existence of a spiritual realm, and (and this is a very important and) in an external reality to what we call good and evil, then why not embrace teachings that make a clear distinction between that which is good and that which is not, instead of teachings that are, at best, murky in their positions on questions of good and evil? Being an atheist, to me, seems much more rational than being new ager, Luciferian, etc.
The discussion began with a comment I made on an article in the online version of a U.K. rag, The Daily Mail, on the ascendant phenomenon of celebrities becoming enamored with Aleister Crowley, The Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), and related things occultic, citing Peaches Geldoff and Jay Z as examples.
After reading my comments on the above-referenced article, my friend asked me what I thought was so sinister about the OTO. My response was to ask him, first, whether he thought Crowley was sinister, adding that, if his answer were “Yes,” my response in turn would be that the answer to the question of what is sinister about the OTO is the same as the answer to what is sinister about Crowley.
The remainder of the discussion was in many ways would be quite predictable to anyone familiar with the typical gnostic inversions of the Gospel of Christ. He first launched into a defense of Crowley, relating an account–a very sanitized one, in my view–of Crowley as a “misunderstood” figure who said things to frighten and mock the ignorance of fin-de-siecle Christians, as part of a larger purpose of opening the doors to humanity of a wider range of spiritual experiences. “He was hardly Satanic,” my friend said.
To me, that’s preposterous because Crowley’s overt embracing of the dark side, from every indication that I have seen, is well documented. Even if Crowley did not believe in a literal Satan (and there is plenty of reason to believe that he did), is not the act of calling oneself “Antichrist/666) a clear embracing of the dark side of human potential, of that which is evil, unnatural, and anti-life? And what about the dark “fruits” of his followers–Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard, to name just two?
But the online conversation with my old friend got even worse than that when, as further extension of this effort to justify Crowley “un-sinister,” he made reference to a part of a Bible verse, John 10:34, in which Jesus utters the phrase “Ye are gods.”
The fallacy here is obvious. The phrase “Ye are gods” is only part of the verse in question, and it is taken out of the context of the entire content the chapter, John 10–not to mention the rest of scripture, which easily, clearly, and simply refute any notion that Jesus could have been supporting any Luciferian or new-age notion that humans were meant to be able to evolve into deities.
My response to my friend, I believe, points to a general method of fallacious, oversimplified, inverted readings of scripture that are so commonly employed by those who are seeking support for cultic or occultic theologies:
“Jesus is arguing with the Pharisees and Sadducees whose law is not necessarily consistent with the original Torah. He says ‘Your law,’ not God’s law. Secondly, there is an issue of translation of Greek and Hebrew words–several of which can be translated as ‘gods’ yet do not refer to anything divine or to a legitimate deity. Thirdly: ‘context’ means more than just the surrounding sentences or even chapters. Fourthly: the great Luciferian deception is: ‘Ye shall be as gods.’ So it’s a stretch–and a gross oversimplification–to take this verse as suggesting that humans are or can become deities.”
I also pointed my friend to an excellent blog post I found that gives a compelling refutation of these gnostic readings of John 10:34: see http://thegranpooba.blogspot.com/2013/06/misapplied-texts-and-terms.html.
My take is that the fallacy of my friend’s reading of scripture is so blatant that it should be self-evident to anyone who has any level of God-sense, let alone someone who has been saved and received the Holy Spirit. But, then again, the latter is really the point, when you consider, for example, 1 Corintians 2:1-14:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Sadly, it appears that my friends continued argument is an unfortunate case example of how “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,” because he continued to latch onto small, isolated snippets of scripture that, taken out of context, could be taken to support inverted, gnostic understandings–missing out on the big picture of truth that is discernible when the Holy Spirit has lifted “the scales from the eyes” of the natural man.
I pray that my friend may one day, through the grace of God, receive the Holy Spirit and understand the larger truth of Christ, instead of being blinded by gnostic inversions that focus on the trees of out-of-context detail but miss the all-important forest of divine truth.
But I also believe that, when we as Christians reach out to those who have embraced these ideas, it is also scriptural to realize that we may arrive at a point at which it is time to move on in our efforts, because some people, sadly, may themselves have come close to a point of no return, “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18).
We can, of course, continue to pray that the unlimited capabilities of the Lord may still bring someone to salvation, if it is the Lord’s will. But especially when it comes to such dark realms, we must also keep in mind an all-important caution: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).