The Tragedy of Scientized Superficiality

A man lives his whole life to prove he is not a piano key. – Fyodor Dostoyevsky


Sigmund Freud, founder of the science of psychiatry, started with the assumption that man was an ape whose problems could be solved by rational analysis. Which is a bit of a contradiction right from the start, as one does not see any apes in the real world sitting around discussing their childhood traumas, organizing community blood banks, or going on talk shows to inform a breathless audience of their fellow apes about their next appearance on screen: “You must see Toby Tyler at the Circus. I give a magnificent performance as Mr. Stubbs – it’s worth the price of admission, which I believe is two ripe bananas and one coconut.”

Ignoring the inherent contradictions in his new theory, Freud plowed ahead and created a science of man that made man a recorder to be played upon just as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern played upon Hamlet. And Freud’s failure was just as great as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s failure. It’s remarkable that Freud’s basic assumption, that man is a glorified ape, still holds sway throughout the Western world, despite the failure of psychiatry to cure the problems that plague men so.

Freud, as a thinker, was second rate, but he was infinitely superior to the third and fourth rate psychiatric witch doctors who followed in his train. The second wave of psychiatrists accepted Freud’s basic assumption while rejecting all his theories stemming from that assumption. After they failed, as Freud failed, to solve the problems of man by simplifying man with the silver rod of rational analysis, psychiatry descended to the practice of pill-pushing. “We can’t solve the problem of man by rational analysis, so let’s just use drugs on him to alter his behavior.” And yet, despite the colossal failure of psychiatry, the modern Europeans, with no exceptions, continue, in one form or another, to accept the validity of the scientized, simplified, psychiatric view of mankind. Even those Christian sects that have rejected Darwinian evolution still kowtow to science by using the “insights” of psychiatry as a tool in their understanding of man. But is such a simplification of man possible? If we simplify man, if we make him into a piano key or a recorder that can be played upon, won’t we then simplify God? Yes, we will. And in point of fact, we have already done it.

This simplification of man is not a little thing. It is a tragedy. In fact it is the central tragedy of the 20th and 21st century. The science of psychiatry was presented to the European as a benevolent, scientific means of treating the disorder of the mind. It was always, in reality, a tool of the devil. Under the guise of scientific benevolence Satan was able to convince the European that he was better off if he viewed himself as a creature of nature rather than as a man created in the image of God. A man that comes from nature is much easier to “help” than a man who comes from God. The biological man has only to free himself from the God above nature in order to be happy on this earth, while the non-biological man, the Christian European, must deal with all the Shakespearean complexities that plague the man of feeling and depth. Thus does the devil work his will through the superficiality of psychiatry.

The antique European culture that has been discarded by the conservatives and the liberals in church and state was a culture of Shakespearean depths; it was a culture of tragedy, comedy, and romance. The modern European culture is a culture without tragedy, comedy, or romance. How can the death of a collection of atoms be tragic? How can there be laughter when there is no animating spirit within? And how can there be romance when God is nature and man is a piano key? When superficiality is institutionalized, and it has been institutionalized throughout the European nations, the people of those nations turn to the sex and blood cults of the barbarian races in order to escape the spiritual ennui of scientific superficiality.

In my undergraduate days I saw a rather dramatic example of the transformation that takes place when a man transfers from the culture of depth to the culture of scientific superficiality. I had a teacher for English literature who actually had some feeling for the literature he taught. This is usually not the case. Most of the teachers of English literature are too immersed in literacy criticism to understand literature. Flannery O’Connor was quite serious when she told a friend that the professors of literature could not understand her stories. But this particular teacher was an exception; he actually read literature to try and understand what the author was saying. The very unmodern assumption of a man who reads literature for that purpose is that there is some meaning in life that can be discovered if we plunge below the surface of life.

I took a course in the humanities and later a course in Shakespeare from Dr. ___. I enjoyed both courses for the reason stated above: Dr. ___ was a true student of literature. I often had long conversations with him about Shakespeare and Spenser, his favorite authors, in his office, and I should emphasize that Dr. ___ was not, at that time, into the psychological study of literature. Dr. ___ was in his mid-thirties, married, with two children. Now comes the tragic decline into superficiality. During the summer of my junior year, Dr. ___ came out of the closet. I at that time had only vague notions of the existence of homosexuals. When Dr. ___ came out of the closet, I saw that such mutations were very real. He left his wife and children and plunged into a homosexual lifestyle. When he came back in the fall, his Shakespeare class was no longer about Shakespeare, it was about psychology. Every line in Shakespeare was an example of some kind of psycho-sexual principle that could only be understood by reference to psychology and/or structural anthropology. Thus Ophelia’s tragic cry of, “We know what we are, but we know not what we can be,” became the symbol of a woman who wants to be a man and/or the man who wants to be a woman. Dr. ___ had Ophelia’s quote taped to the door of his office. I was forced to apologize to a friend of mine, a science major, who was required to take only two courses in the humanities, for recommending the course. “He wasn’t like this last year,” I told him.

“With the exception of Shakespeare and Kipling, I don’t really care for literature. I didn’t have to take this course; it’s not my major. Now instead of Shakespeare, I’m getting this bull___,” was his reply.

What could I say other than, “I’m sorry”?

Late in the course my friend made a very perceptive statement about the course and Dr. ___.

“I’d like to go into his office and knock his own personal teeth out of his own personal head.” I stress the word personal because he stressed it. That was one of the most perceptive remarks about, and the most correct reaction to, the impersonal, psychological approach to life and literature that I have ever heard. Truly, the friend to whom I gave bad advice had wise blood.

After the course was over I saw Dr. ___ one more time. It was about two and a half years after my graduation. I was in a restaurant with a young woman, and he was at a table across the restaurant with a young black male. I don’t think he was discussing Shakespeare or Spenser with his adolescent companion. All this was slightly before the AIDS epidemic struck the homosexual community. But if Dr. ___ continued his descent into the superficiality of psychological debauchery, I’m sure he died of AIDS. I hope he didn’t, I hope he returned to the culture of depth, but I don’t suppose that is likely. He was on the right path when I first met him. ‘Tis more than a pity, it is a tragedy that he took the wide gate instead of the narrow gate. But from the liberals’ standpoint there is no such thing as the tragedy of a human soul choosing the devil over Christ; there is only the tragedy of racism and the tragedy of global warming.

Dr. ___’s transformation has been our people’s transformation. We have gone from the people who lived with the tragedy and hope of the cross of Christ to the people of a post-Christian culture of scientized superficiality. The men and women in such a culture, having given up their personal humanity, can only experience life secondhand through the barbarians of color and/or the people of the non-Christian faiths. Thus the scientized Evangelicals seek out the Jews and the negroes while the more syncretic Roman Catholics seek out the Moslems, the Jews, the negroes, the Indians, and on and on they go. But the one people that the modern European, be he “Christian” or secular, will not follow is the people who looked to the cross of Christ for their salvation. This scientized blending of Christ is not Christianity, it is a return to Baal.

Why do the evangelical Protestants look to the ‘this world only’ theology of an apostate Anglican clergyman from the early 1800s? And why do the Roman Catholics look to a system which blends Christ with the nature gods of the colored races? It is because they seek the comfort of scientized superficiality. Life is more manageable if the mystery of both man and God can be revealed in a simple five-point plan from a doctor of scientized theology. The self-help craze in religious circles and in secular society stems from modern man’s flight from the culture of depth, the culture of the cross of Christ. Why do bad things happen to good people? Dr. Theological-Psychological Mumbo-Jumbo will tell you. Why are there no signs from God and why are our prayers not answered? Preacher Bob will tell us that it is because we don’t give him enough money. We must plant our seed, which is money, in Preacher Bob’s hands if we expect to hear from God. All such hideous, blasphemous simplifications of our blessed Savior are inspired by the devil who can and does use false images of God to ruin the souls of men. Christ came to us through our humanity. And we must come to Him through our humanity. If we refuse to plunge to the depths of our humanity, how can we know Christ? There is no self-help book or scientized system that can save us at the hour of our death. Look to the cross of Christ and to the people who made His cross their all in all. Their way is not by the wide and simple scientized gate of the modern Europeans. They all went by the narrow-gated path, which starts in the depths of the human heart and ends with the loving embrace of our Savior. That was and is the faith of the European people. If we shun that faith and those people we will surfeit and die in the scientized superficiality of our modern Babylonian Europe. +

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