Friday, January 28, 2011

Conclusion -- Ideology and Limerence Triumph 148

Thus self-love and interest are lovers who act in tandem to ignite passion or survival instincts. The next Quiddity blog entry is the conclusion, and it is based on this partnership of these two qualities.

                                  -- yesterday's entry by the blog author

Let me demonstrate this secret insight of La Rochefoucauld through specific examples of the admixture of interest and self-love.

With self-love switched off (often through being full and sated) and interest also switched off (through exhaustion or the satisfaction of our curiosity), we hide alertly in the lair, trying to rest but worried about the future, as described in La Rochefoucauld's maxim on self-love with W.G. Moore's commentary which was described in my review of the Maxims. This is the “idle machine” that W.G. Moore mentions on page 97 of his book (as quoted in red near the beginning of yesterday's blog entry). This is also “that sudden dullness” that La Rochefoucauld mentions in his letter to Madame Sable (quoted in blue at the beginning of yesterday's blog).

With self-love switched off and interest turned on (through active work in business or an interesting case in civil law being judged or as a forensic specialist grading logical argumentation in a disputed formal debate or as a scholar looking up history about which the scholar has no ideological preferences), we are capable of abandoning the interests of our friends and perusing the interests of our business instead (Maxim 278, quoted yesterday), because we wish to have the honor of succeeding in that endeavor we have undertaken. However, our interest can be given up when we have to chose between it and our interest mixed with our passion, such as our tastes (Maxim 305, quoted yesterday). In conclusion, the state of self-love switched off and interest turned on, at its best, is the state of alert, unbiased, unemotional rational analysis, as long as our sense of taste, our sense of the attractive, our self-love and our desire for survival are not involved nor threatened. As La Rochefoucauld wrote in his Reflexions: “A difference exists between a working mind and a business-like mind. We can undertake business without turning it to our own interest. Some are clever only in what does not concern them, and the reverse in all that does. There are others again whose cleverness is limited to their own business, and who know how to turn everything to their own advantage.”

With self-love switched on yet interest turned off, we do not see an attractive potential lover at a party, so there is no compulsion to introduce ourselves or flirt. In his letter to Madame de Sable, La Rochefoucauld tells us that self-love, alone and divorced from interest, “neither sees, nor hears, nor smells, nor moves.” This is a state of worried and restless paralysis and anxiety. It may manifest itself as boredom.

With self-love engaged and interest locked on an object, all the wisdom of the Maxims comes into play, especially the grand maxim on self-love. We are paying attention to something we want, therefore we are both observant and passionate. This trumps the mental state of the civil judge or debate judge or scholar, because, as maxim number 8 states:

The passions are the only advocates which always persuade. They are a natural art, the rules of which are infallible; and the simplest man with passion will be more persuasive than the most eloquent without.

The Great Conjecture:
Ideology = Self-Love
Limerence = Interest

If we are trained from childhood to identify with a dogma or catechism or hero or civil religion, then we will associate it with our love of self and defend it as central to our identity. This molding of the young mind into an ideology is what we clearly see in the Christian Right and the Libertarians and within the civil religion of the modern liberal. All of these people self-identify with an ideology that was planted early and carefully. Regardless of their political and intellectual persuasion, then, for those so raised, ideology equates with self love, and a challenge to the preferred ideology is perceived as a threat to their person, evoking a passionate, interested reaction.

An initial positive snap-judgment, an adoration of the intense elegance of something or someone, a love at first sight; these things define limerence. Certain concepts and code words are capable of engaging the minds of ideologues. “Rapture” and “Paul's letters” immediately and intensely engage the attention of the Christian right; “Freedom” and “objectively” lock the attention of the Libertarians; “Social Security” and “single payer” have this affect on the modern liberal.

Thus to manipulate the public, all the creator of a political ad or writer of a political speech has to do is find the limerent terms and use them deftly. The ideology will kick in with the force of self-love to protect the ego, and rational analysis will not take place. This is how the Christian right support strategically needless wars, the libertarians stand fore-square behind a quadrillion dollars in dangerous derivatives, and the modern liberals support an asinine global warming dogma that can't possibly be based on good science.

Everybody knows the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows that the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight is fixed
The poor stay poor and the rich get rich
That's how it goes, and everybody knows

Everybody knows the boat is sinking
Everybody knows the captain lied
Everybody's got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody's hands are in their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long-stemmed rose – everybody knows!

--Leonard Cohen and S. Robinson

Defeating Ideology and Limerence

If ideology becomes part of self-love and limerence about words and concepts arouses interest, then the conclusion of this blog is rock solid if La Rochefoucauld is correct in his presentation of the related concepts and his restatement of the Sophists' position in maxim number 8.

Defeating this racket of “choice” between dangerous ideologies involves raising a generation of children with such emotional discipline that they are wary of both indoctrination and supine parroting of what they are hearing from authority. Victory is possible, but it will require generations to achieve a plurality of young minds with emotional and psychological discipline of this caliber.

                            “...blest are those
                            Whose blood and judgement are so well commedled
                            That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger
                            To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
                            That is not passion's slave
, and I will wear him
                            In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart”

                                        --Hamlet III ii 67-70
The hucksters and irrational ideologues will continue to rule at least through the twenty-first century. So for the immediate and intermediate future, the constructive and positive path is that of the guerrilla.  We are very far from the Isles of Ephemeris.  There are three major ideologies all of which invite the Iad Uroboros.  "Houston, we have a problem."  And everybody knows.

-- End of Blog Narrative --

(comments remain open to your thoughts and replies by the blog author will be published)

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