…by Jonas E. Alexis
A few days ago, the Daily Mail opened one of their articles with these words: “The Swiss have put on one of the most bizarre opening ceremonies in history to mark the completion of the world’s longest tunnel.”
Other media outlets said similar things. The Switzerland’s Gotthard Base Tunnel took 17 years to build, and it cost $12 billion. But what was so bizarre about the opening ceremony that prompted such a huge reaction?
Well, Women with underwear were simulating sex with each other, among other strange phenomena. The ceremony also featured a goat-man that dies and is resurrected. At one point, a topless woman decked as a bird hovered above actors. BuzzFeed itself called the entire ceremony “creepy” and “a bit weird.” Similarly, NBC News called it “bizarre.” Russia Today reported:
“More than 600 actors reportedly took part in the show, which at one point, included a topless creepy-looking bird that hung over nine performers, representing the nine miners that lost their lives during the tunnel’s construction.”
The Inquisitr declared that “The unbelievably strange Swiss ceremony was attended by a plethora of European leaders. Included among the guests were French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the President of Switzerland Johann Schneider-Ammann.”
People were obviously confused precisely because the tunnel itself has nothing to do with the bizarre ceremony at all. It was like connecting Marlboro cigarettes with cowboys. No one with an ounce of common sense believes that there is a connection between Marlboro cigarettes and cowboys. But cigarette companies always try to make this dubious connection in order to sell their products and suck naïve people in.
Obviously this was the case in the Switzerland’s Gotthard Base Tunnel. Dane Jasper of the BBC declared, “The strangest opening ceremony for a piece of basic transport infrastructure ever.” Another individual responded: “The opening ceremony show for the new Gotthard tunnel is embarrassing. As a Swiss citizen, I apologize.”
No one could provide a rational explanation for the ceremony because it is not part of the rational universe. Even the BBC admitted: “we have tried to explain what is going on as far as possible. It was not always possible.”
If you want a better explanation, then you will have to look at the lives of people like Aleister Crowley and Antorn Lavey and other black magicians, who practiced similar ceremonies in their magic rituals. Prolific scholar Hugh B. Urban of Ohio State University would almost certainly place the Gotthard Base Tunnel ceremony in the pantheon of New Age and neo-pagan movements around the world.
I would argue that all those neo-pagan movements are not compatible with practical reason for the very fact that they use sexual perversion to deconstruct the sexual order and to marshal a dark and diabolical ideology. The Church of Scientology, a cult movement which has already trapped numerous celebrities and Hollywood stars, is a classic example.
More importantly, the fundamental purpose of those neo-pagan ideologies is to tear down signposts of order, beauty, and rationality in this wonderful universe. Those signposts are all around us. The world of history, science, philosophy, art, mathematics, etc. is enough to convince an astute observe that an “absolute reason,” as the German philosopher Friedrich Hegel puts it, is at work.
In addition, any rational person with some level of intellectual honesty can recognize these signposts. Hegel had a sophisticated way of articulating this point. This universe, he argues, “is not prey to chance and external, contingent causes, but is governed by providence.”
Hegel moves on to deconstruct the atheist or agnostic position by saying that “the world’s events are controlled by a providence, indeed by divine providence,” and this “divine providence is wisdom, coupled with infinite power, which realizes its ends, i.e., the absolute and rational design of the world…”
Looking at all the evil and chaos in this world, obviously the average atheist would think that there cannot be an “infinite power, which realizes its ends.” But Hegel would respond by saying that this is why this “infinite power” is “cunning.” This “infinite power,” according to scholar Robert C. Tucker’s interpretation of Hegel, “fulfill its ulterior rational designs in an indirect and sly manner. It does so by calling into play the irrational element in human nature, the passions.”
In other words, the “irrational element in human nature” will end up fulfilling the very goals of this “infinite power.” The carnal mind, of course, cannot understand how this “infinite power” will work out in the future because he is blind to higher or metaphysical realities.
The carnal mind simply lacks spiritual vision and insight because he limits himself only to the primitive idea that the material universe, as Karl Sagan propounded, “is all that is or was or ever will be.” H. G. Wells was a classic representation of this idea. Having rejected Logos on irrational grounds, Wells proposed a metaphysical replacement—and his is a chaotic one:
“To a watcher in some remote entirely alien cosmos, if we may assume that impossibility, it might well seem that extinction is coming to man like a brutal thunderclap of Halt!…We may be spinning more and more swiftly into the vortex of extinction, but we do not apprehend as much…
“A harsh queerness is coming over things and rushes past what we have hitherto been wont to consider the definite limits of hard fact. Hard fact runs away from analysis and does not return.”
Yet even this irrational and destructive prediction could not stop Wells from searching for an ultimate meaning to life’s most important questions: “The question ‘Is this All?’ has troubled countless unsatisfied minds throughout the ages, and—at the end of our tether, as it seems—here it is, still baffling but persistent.” Why should it be “persistent” if it is a fact that the cosmos is all that is?
Suppose you walk the streets of Manhattan and come across a person who is constantly talking to himself although nobody is around. So you approach him and ask, “What’s going on, dude? Why are you talking to yourself?” He answers, “I am angry with my wife.”
Further into the conversation, however, you realize that the man never had a wife. You then ask, “How can you be angry with an imaginary wife?” If he responded with, “Life doesn’t seem fair,” would you be satisfied with such an answer? You would immediately think that the guy is at least out of touch with reality, if not psychologically disturbed.
In that sense, it is crazy to look for life’s meaning when you already stated that life does not have any meaning whatever.
Actress Shirley is another soul who is looking for “the cunning of reason” in the wrong places. After teaching reincarnation, transcendental meditation, solipsism, and a whole lot of new age beliefs in books and even in movies (particularly Out on a Limb), declares in her book The Camino: A Journey to the Spirit:
“Now as a senior citizen, I found myself experiencing not only anger, loneliness, and anxiety over what we might be headed for, but fear that we were now almost completely out of touch with what we were intended to be in the first place.”
So far so good. But recognizing the problem and trying to find a workable solution are two different things. MacLaine never stops to think that she may need to drop her new-age philosophy of life altogether and start from ground zero, following the dictate of practical reason, which is the opposite of magic, the very thing that Maclaine has propounded for years. She states:
“I had seen so many channels and mediums over the past few years, I decided I would apply the same thing to show business. I simply put my conscious ego aside, got out of my own way, and channeled a character that we had created and I absolutely adored….This time I allowed the character to inhabit me…
“So my experience of channeling spiritual energy…had translated into practical film acting. Reel life and real life had emerged. And both were contributing to an ever-expanding reality for me.”
Because she is spiritually and intellectual lost, MacLaine proposed: “If we can make peace with our ancient emotions, I believe we will have the capacity to live up to our moral obligation to seek joy.”
Ancient emotions? Nonsense! Rousseau, Kierkegaard, Hume, Voltaire, Russell, Camus, Sartre, and a host of other individuals have tried that method. It has never worked precisely because “ancient emotions” are not substitute for practical reason.
The problem is that people like MacClaine do not want to submit their desires to practical reason. As a result, they find themselves completely adrift. This was one reason why Bertrand Russell’s own daughter, Katherine Tait, abandoned Russell’s empty philosophy and eventually embraced Logos. “When he wanted to attack religion,” Tait later recounted in a memoir, Russell “sought out its most egregious errors and held them up to ridicule, while avoiding serious discussion of the basic message.”
This was actually the case when Russell debated a Jesuit priest, philosopher, and historian of philosophy by the name of Frederick Charles Copleston. During the heated debate, Copleston asked Russell the simple question: how do you, Russell, differentiate good things and bad things?
Russell, with all his sophisticated knowledge as a mathematician and philosopher, hammered the final nail in his own atheist coffin by saying, “By my feelings.” Russell must have thanked goodness that he was not debating Immanuel Kant. But one could imagine Copleston saying, “The Lord hath delivered him into my hands.”
Russell obviously knew that he was not the only person in this universe to act on the basis feelings and not on practical reason. Stalin, Mao, Oh Chi Minh, have all followed this “feelings” principle in one way or another. So, the logic is pretty simple here: Russell was superficially a pacifist and was philosophically a Stalinist or Maoist.
This is another reason why his position was intellectually contradictory and existentially unlivable. Perhaps his “feelings” principle had something to do with sensual life. Russell recounted in his own autobiography:
“I went out bicycling one afternoon, and suddenly, as I was riding along a country road, I realised that I no longer loved Alys [his faithful wife]. I had no idea until this moment that my love for her was even lessening. The problem presented by this discovery was very grave. We had lived ever since our marriage in the closest possible intimacy.”
Russell admitted throughout that there was no real reason for him to dump his lovely wife. But he could not submit his feelings or appetite to practical reason at all.
The moral of the story? You cannot reject practical reason and remain a morally and intellectually honest person. And those who reject practical reason (another word for wisdom) are actually heralding their own moral and spiritual death. As the book of Proverbs puts it, “But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.”
 “A winged baby, semi-naked dancers and a man with a bird’s nest on his head: How Switzerland decided to mark opening of world’s longest rail tunnel,” Daily Mail, June 1, 2016.
 Matt Borkin, “Bizarre opening ceremony for Switzerland’s record-breaking railway tunnel featured goats and yodels,” National Post, June 1, 2016.
 “Swiss inaugurate world’s longest rail tunnel,” Toronto Sun, June 2, 2016.
 “Bizarre Stage Show Opens 35-Mile Rail Tunnel Under Swiss Alps,” NBC News, June 1, 2016.
 “Naked torsos & horned beasts: Swiss tunnel’s bizarre opening leaves viewers baffled,” Russia Today, June 2, 2016.
 “Switzerland tunnel: The oddest moments of the opening ceremony,” BBC, June 1, 2016.
 For scholarly studies on these issues, see Hugh B. Urban, Magia Sexualis: Sex, Magic, and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006); Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr, ed., Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012); Nevill Drury, Stealing Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Modern Western Magic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011); Lawrence Sutin, Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000); Richard Kaczynski, Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 20020); Aleister Crowley, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (New York: Penguin, 1989).
 Hugh B. Urban, New Age, Neopagan, and New Religious Movements: Alternative Spirituality in Contemporary America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2015).
 For studies on these, see Hugh B. Urban and Wendy Doniger, The Economics of Ecstasy: Tantra, Secrecy and Power in Colonial Bengal (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001); Hugh B. Urban, Tantra: Sex, Secrecy, Politics, and Power in the Study of Religion (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003); The Power of Tantra: Religion, Sexuality and the Politics of South Asian Studies (New York: I. B. Taurus, 2009); David Gordon White, Kiss of the Yogini: “Tantric Sex” in its South Asian Contexts (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).
 See Jenna Miscavige Hill and Lisa Pulitzer, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape (New York: HarperCollins, 2013); Leah Remini and Rebecca Paley, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology (New York: Random House, 2015); Tony Ortega, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper (London: Silvertail Books, 2015); Janet Reitman, Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion (New York: Mariner Books, 2013); Andrew Morton, Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008).
 Hugh B. Urban, The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011); Russell Miller, Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard (New York: Penguin Books, 1988 and 2015); for related studies on L. Ron Hubbard, see Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief (New York: Random House, 2013); Jon Atack, A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed (New York: Lyle Stuart Book, 1990).
 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975 and 1998), 35.
 Robert C. Tucker, “The Cunning of Reason in Hegel and Marx,” The Review of Politics, Vol. 18, NO 3, July 1956: 269-295.
 Carl Sagan, Cosmos (New York: Ballantine Book, 1980 and 1013), xxii.
 H. G. Wells, Mind at The End of Its Tether and The Happy Turning: A Dream of Life (New York: Didier Publishers, 1946), 5-6.
 Ibid., 13-14.
 Shirley MacLaine, The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit (New York: Pocket Books, 2000), 2.
 Shirley MacLaine, Going Within (New York: Bantam Books, 1989 and 1991), 25-26.
 MacLaine, The Camino, 10.
 Katherine Tait, My Father, Bertrand Russell (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1975).
 Ibid., 188.
 Al Seckel, ed., Bertrand Russell on God and Religion (New York: Prometheus Books, 1986), 139.
 Bertrand Russell, Autobiography (New York: Routledge, 1985), 150-151.
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book, Kevin MacDonald’s Metaphysical Failure: A Philosophical, Historical, and Moral Critique of Evolutionary Psychology, Sociobiology, and Identity Politics. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.