« The Cuban who lives in the hearts of old Brooklyn Dodgers fans | Why Putin’s Ukraine bluff will probably fail »
January 30, 2022
'The Velvet Queen' shows how materialism has replaced Christianity and authentic spirituality
Everyone for the most part loves a clean and beautiful environment and doesn't want to see it degraded while protecting the habitats of wild animals. The problem that's so much the case of liberalism and the militant environmentalism of today, is that it's been weaponized and made into an idol that discounts the infinite for the temporary.
To illustrate this point, there is an excellent documentary showing at some theaters right now called The Velvet Queen.
It's a French production with two French environmentalists who are in search of a rare and elusive snow leopard in Tibet. The snow leopard eventually becomes a holy grail (more religious terminology they used in the documentary), and when it is found, prompts a kind of fake salvation to take place, only to dissipate into the Tibetan air once it's been found. It's very French. Cinematically, it's somewhat dreamy and surreal compared to an American-produced documentary, but it's not hard to watch.
It reminded me of something that's nagged at me for awhile, and that's how nature has been turned into a religious idol. The documentary unintentionally demonstrates a fundamental contradiction in today's liberalism/progressivism that is rarely pointed out, i.e., how can you be for saving humanity while being anti-human at the same time?
I watched The Velvet Queen, and noticed how the two men always talked in the hushed tones of self-proclaimed priests that seem to feel as though some sort of transcendental holiness has been bestowed upon them. It's a lot like listening to Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer, who always talk as though they're ordained ministers of the holier-than-thou Church of Liberalism. There's also clearly an anti-humanist tone during the documentary blaming modern man for desecrating Mother Earth while periodically taking shots at the human race for degrading the environment. When one them talks about how some of the wild animals can pick up their scent from far away, he takes an easy potshot saying "men smell bad."
It was redolent of the French Enlightenment, which even now influences French thinking.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one of the most influential philosophers of the era and considered to be one of the founding fathers of liberalism, claimed that man is born free but everywhere in chains. That is to say, man is corrupted and fallen because of civilization. Therefore, he argued, true happiness for mankind lies in a kind of pre-civilizational state of nature. This is where uncorrupted man will find his true bliss. The fatal error of Rousseau was in thinking that man ever lived in a primordial state of bliss. However, his philosophy lingers as strongly today as it did back when he wrote Emile, the book where Rousseau, the poor misfit (if you've read his Confessions) first outlined his anti-modernist thought of re-orienting the relationship between the individual and society in 1762. There are other major flaws with Rousseau's thought, even as his influence endures in the modern era, but the big one was in his claims about nature.
Both liberalism and environmentalism have roots in his proto-romantic thinking. Before civilization developed, the state of man's existence wasn't all that different from that found in the animal kingdom, with man in a perpetual state of survival. In the words of Thomas Hobbes, life before civilization was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
Besides the errant reading of the past, Rousseauvian liberalism and environmentalism also deny the reality of a spiritual dimension, which again, is redolent of the world of animals. Rousseauvians accept the material world alone as all that there is, no more, no less.
Because of that denial, fake spirituality and faux religions filled the vacuum in the minds of those who embraced Rousseau's world view, and it eventually evolved to replace the authenticity of original Judeo-Christian belief and traditions. This is easy to say because the language the secular Left uses is always couched in the language of religion and more specifically the language of Christianity. Towards the end of 'The Velvet Queen,' the audience hears a voice-over say: "Hope for nothing ... Be content with the world ... Have faith in poetry."
For such an outstanding documentary, these platitudes were effectively the twisted and tortured words of Biblical scripture that are essentially disposable junk food for the soul.
The search for meaning and the nature of being has been going on for a long time. The question is, what is authentic and what is not?
Defining the human self by its metaphysical dimension is another longstanding belief in the West, in other words, is a homo metaphysicus, not a frequently used term in philosophy but quite adequate in this context. The word metaphysics has never had a precise meaning but let us use it in the sense that Aristotle did, though he never used the word itself. Metaphysics is a philosophical inquiry into ultimate principles and causes. Taking the definition as a general framework, we could say that homo metaphysicus defines himself by his natural inclination to search for the ultimate meaning to both the world around him and his life. Though painfully aware of his own existence's finite and contingent nature, he nevertheless can perceive the infinite horizon and believes there might be a path that might lead him to the absolute whether through philosophy, religion, or some other means.
Image: Wikipedia / public domain