Saturday, March 11, 2006

Watch, Pray, and Don't Mention My Book to the Rank and Foul

Before getting into today's post, I would like to mention how gratifying it has been to receive some of the positive comments from readers, both publicly and privately. It means a lot to me to know that a certain class of readers has somehow managed to stumble upon the blog, because I wasn't sure that such people existed prior to starting it. I am not embarrassed to say that my book will never sell many copies. That isn't why I wrote it. My only hope was that it would somehow reach those people who might benefit from it, both now and after I'm gone.

Given its unorthodox nature, it still amazes me that any publisher took on the project at all, but it was actually published by the very first one I sent it to. And even they--bless their hearts--expressed some misgivings about publishing a book that started in mid-sentence with a little psychotic fairy tale, used different fonts at the beginning and end, and had no proper endings for the individual chapters. I guess I've never told the story of how the book came to be. If you will indulge me for a moment, I think I'll relate that tale here, before getting into the substance of today's post. I wouldn't do so unless I thought it was more generally instructive about the way things work. You know, synchronicity, and all that.

Again, I wrote the book without ever giving a thought as to whether it would ever be published and who might do the publishing. I then read a book that had been put out by my eventual publisher, Paragon House. It was actually published by a small subdivision, an imprint called Omega Books. I noticed that the editor of Omega Books was a man named John White. Where did I know that name? Ah yes! I went to my bookshelf and pulled down an old book of his that I had read many years ago, an anthology entitled The Highest State of Consciousness (since then republished as What is Enlightenment?), which I probably purchased in the early 1980's, but was originally published in 1972. Anyway, I opened the book and noticed that White had dedicated the book to A.L.P. and H.C.E.

I suppose that most people wouldn't know who A.L.P. and H.C.E. were, but I surely did. They are Anna Livia Plurabelle and Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker of Finnegans Wake, the former representing the universal archetype of femininity, the latter representing the universal masculine. Like me, this man White was a fan of James Joyce's incomprehensible masterpiece Finnegans Wake! And of higher states of consciousness! Plus the book has a chapter about Sri Aurobindo. Surely he will appreciate my book, in particular, the Joycean prologue and epilogue that are modeled after Finnegans Wake. To put it another way, if he doesn't get it, that will be a pretty good indication that no on else will either.

So I stuck the manuscript in an envelope and promptly forgot about it. Six months later I get a profusely apologetic phone call from the man himself, deferentially treating me like the reincarnation of James Joyce. Of course I'll publish the book! If Paragon doesn't want it, I'll find a way to do it myself! He explained that I had sent the manuscript to the main office in Minnesota, but that he operates out of New Hampshire. Somehow it had been hung up in Minnesota all that time. He had just received the package, and I guess it's safe to say that to this day he remains my most enthusiastic supporter. He specifically mentioned that he was determined to publish the book even if no one else besides he and I got the metaphysical humor. (It turns out that White was Ken Wilber's first literary agent, and managed to get Wilber's first book, The Spectrum of Consciouness, published after something like twenty five rejections. That book, of course, went on the be a massive success, and made Wilber the 800 pound gorilla of the far-flung--including some things you'd like to fling far--world of consciousness studies.)

I don't know. The whole sequence of events still strikes me as pretty odd. Now I just noticed another weird synchronictiy. I'm thumbing through The Highest State of Consciousness, and I see at the end of the introduction White writes, "Man appears to be constructed in the manner of Yeats' intersecting gyres or as a miniature model of the doughnut-shaped Van Allen radiation belt surrounding our planet. A local vortex in a sea of energy.... The aura of mystics and the stylized halo of saints is then explainable" as a visible manifestation of spiritual purity, of "their lack of interfering vibrations from confused thought processes." Remember my inexplicable post last Sunday, "Is the Cosmos a Fractal Torus?" Until today, I had no idea that Yeats and White also thought so. And I thought I was eccentric. I'm not even original.

Anyway, one of the reasons why I can't imagine my book becoming hugely popular is that it's not the sort of thing that can ever spread like wildfire from hand to hand and mouth to mouth. That is, even if one person gets a lot out of the book, it is quite likely that they will not know a single individual in their life to whom they could unreservedly recommend it. I personally wouldn't think of recommending the book to most of the rank-and-file (not to mention the rank and foul) earthlings I know, whether friends, relatives, neighbors, or coworkers. If it comes up at all, I actually dissuade most people from reading it, because it's just not meant for everyone.

I joke about it, but the blog actually does get many more hits when I post about politics. However, the people who are drawn only to the politics would eventually be alienated anyway by the esotericism. One of the reasons why I enjoy the feedback is that it is a relief to know that there are others of Our Kind out there. After all, we are an odd breed. Clearly we are strangers wandering the debased secular world of infrahuman entertainment and pseudointellectual philosophical materialism. And although sympathetic with them, we are not fully comfortable in the world of the other half, either--the conventionally religious (this is not intended as a slight, just a matter of affinity). But we are frankly creeped out by the untraditionalists, the born-again pagans of the "new age" world, which largely consists of a marketing scam for magical thinking and self-aggrandizement.

So where do we fit in? We are Mr. and Missfits, condemned to wander the lonely desert of cyberspace with only the occasional virtual oasis dotting the infinite mindscape. I don't know about you, but I am relieved to know that there is even one other person similar to me. Then, at the very least, it's a folie a deux. Or should that be deus?

Reader Will--who is a scary example of someone who thinks just like me--highlighted what is actually at the foundation of the ancient Christian approach to spiritual growth (although they surely wouldn't have flattered themselves by calling it "growth"), that is, watchfulness. Watchfulness is the key to everything--I believe it is the very last instruction Jesus gives to his disciples before he is yanked up by the Roman machine. In the garden at Gethsemane, he clearly and unambiguously urges them--not parable style--to watch and pray. This statement may be interpreted as the last exoteric statement made by the living Jesus, while It is accomplished may be regarded as his last esoteric statement. They are unified in his very last recorded words in the Book of John, You follow me.

Will points out that interior watchfulness "is the key regarding the primary fight against evil. The New Testament, particularly Matthew, is replete with references to 'staying awake', which certainly in one context could be taken as a rejoinder to remain self-vigilant." Exactly. In this regard, esoteric Christian practices are extremely similar to Yoga and Buddhism, in that they aspire to achieve inner silence, stillness, and openness through the systematic practice of watchfulness. This actually represents true prayer according to Bishop Kallistos Ware:

"To achieve silence: this is of all things the hardest and the most decisive in art of prayer. Silence is not merely a negative--a pause between words, a temporary cessation of speech--but, properly understood, it is highly positive: an attitude of attentive alertness, of vigilance, and above all of listening. The man who has attained hesychia, inward stillness or silence, is par excellence the one who listens. He listens to the voice of prayer in his own heart, and he understands that this voice is not his but that of another speaking within him." Or, as I cryptically expressed it at the end of my book, "he who hesychasts is lost," meaning that you--your ego--must become lost in the silence of God.

Will adds that we must also "imagine" ourselves "into spiritual increase." This use of imagination is a term of art, not to be confused with the lower, dreamlike imagination. This lower form of imagination is somnolent, passive, and present in beasts. It is the opposite of "watch and pray." Much spiritual warfare specifically involves the struggle against this hypnotic state in which most human beings will spend their entire lives. The noetic use of imagination is oriented in a direction diametrically opposed to this, and involves actively gathering and assimilating forces and influences emanating from a higher world, not the lower one.

Will further points out that "we can expect a firestorm of resistance, which is what happens when we pick up the cross, or in Eastern terms, 'activate our karma'." Mind parasites that were "hitherto happy to remain in the unconscious where [they] could make us dance to [their] tune, rise to the surface and give us holy hell in one form or another. Ego wants full control again and it will do what it can to dismay, terrify, depress, cajole, flatter, even sympathize with us in an effort to seize the reins again. And at a certain point in the process, I think, we have to begin dealing with evil as universal archetype, not merely as a personalized set of failings. Any would-be pilgrim who harbors a romanticism re this quickening process is going to be 100% disabused of the notion."

Yes. This reminds me of a remark once made by my best teacher in graduate school, the esteemed Dr. Panajian. Someone asked if he recommended psychoanalysis for something or other. Dr. Panajian responded that he would not. "I only offer psychoanalysis. I would never recommend it."

Likewise, I would never recommend spiritual practice (or my book, for that matter). If they are meant for you, you will know it.

We end with another comment left by reader Rorschach regarding a painful relationship with an atheist friend of long-standing. As I have mentioned before, it is wrong to think of atheism as a non-spiritual belief system. In point of fact, obligatory atheism is definitely a spiritual state. It is nothing more and nothing less than a frank confession of ignorance of the higher planes of being. It serves no purpose whatsoever to get into an argument or debate with such an individual. They do not know because they cannot know. Just take their word for it and move on.

Rorschach points out that "He is not insane or evil; purely rational and honorable as a human being." No doubt true, but there is a particular form of madness that involves losing everything but one's reason (I forget who said that originally). Rorschach says that the essential dilemma is "fear falling in his esteem if I admit to honest belief in God." Here I can only refer you back to what was said above regarding watching, praying, and achieving inner silence. It is relatively easy to do this privately, much more difficult to maintain this zone of silence--the impregnable Interior Monastery--while in the world. This is what you must be able to do in the presence of your friend--to have a spiritual force field that simply repels his energies that will perpetually try to provoke your own mind parasites. He is an occasion for you to learn inner silence under in vivo conditions, while real bullets are flying.

Actually, we conclude with reader Sal, who made the excellent point that "sanctification is a lifelong affair--with the purgative, illuminative and unitive stages recurring cyclically." This is such a good point that I will probably have to leave it until tomorrow to expand upon, but this is exactly right. All spiritual practices may be ultimately reduced to the trinity of purification, illumination, and union. However, it is a mistake to think of it as a linear process. Rather, like that other trinity, it is a fractally recurring, upwardly spiraling pattern with each part inside the other parts. If you want to know the truth, if you could somehow represent it visually, it would look something like Yeats' intersecting gyres or as a miniature model of the doughnut-shaped Van Allen radiation belt surrounding our planet, something I didn't know until about half an hour ago. I'll explain more tomorrow. If anyone is still out there.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Autoexorcism, Neurosimplicity, and Seeking With One I Open (3.11.08)

Rather than get into an academic discussion of Eastern Orthodox practices, I think I'll just present my own understanding of spiritual warfare and show how much overlap there is with ancient Christianity. I've noticed that I tend to dry up when I don't just wing it and speak or write from my own experience. In fact, the decision to simply report my own uncensored thoughts has been instrumental in making blogging a much more enjoyable experience for me, while having the added benefit of driving readers away. Therefore, if I write something stupid or embarrassing, fewer people will know about it.

Plus, I don't intend to sound elitist, but frankly, the kind of spiritual practice we're talking about is plainly not for everyone. The Mysteries aren't intended to be vulgarized and dispensed to any yahoo with an open hand and empty head, regardless of merit or sincerity. And they certainly weren't meant to be eagerly groped and pawed over by the grubby fingers of new age barbarians who reduce the most sublime knowledge to its ego (or usually sub-ego) level equivalent.

History is littered with caricatures of spirit. I have in my hand a hideous but typical example, in the form of a catalog I received in the mail a couple of days ago from company called Sounds True. I bring this up not just for valid purposes of mockery and ridicule, but to emphasize that there is actually great spiritual danger in treating these matters so lightly. Explore Higher States of Consciousness with this In-Home Audio Training Series (do not try at home). The Mandala Healing Kit: Spark Your Sacred Geometry (for people who can't spark euclidean geometry). Loveland: Music For Dreaming and Awakening (Dreaming or awakening? Make up your mind!). The Advanced Manifestation Program: Upgrade the Way You Think--And Live (upgrade only works if you start off really stupid). Take Charge of Your Life at The Quantum Level (since you obviously can't deal with reality on this level). Explore Non-Ordinary Reality with the Wisdom Tool of the Shaman. (Bend over for that last one.)

The hucksters who propagate this debased nonsense have nothing whatsoever to do with authentic spirituality. They are poseurs and flatterers pretending to be as dense as their followers so their followers can feel as clever as them. A real teacher is more likely to drive you away than to make outrageous promises and ask for your money. This is why I usually recommend that people work within an established religious framework. Sure, it's less glamorous, like indexing instead of trying to find some exotic or risky way to beat the stock market. Yes, there are some people who can do that, and there are some spiritual practitioners who are able to operate outside the lines. But doing so requires an abundance of caution--not less discipline, but more. As Bob Dylan sang, to live outside the law, you must be honest. You must know your own limitations, because Reality will eventually bring you to heel. Me? As I have mentioned before, I flunked out of business school. Almost all of my investments are in index funds.

Ronald Reagan once said words to the effect that "the solutions are simple, but not simplistic." As a matter of fact, simple is hard. Complexity is easy. Most people are very complex, especially the intelligent ones. Their intelligence just gives them more skill at pulling the wool over their own eyes. People are full of unconscious wormholes, psychic envelopes, secret lives, hidden compulsions, ulterior motives, and auto-hypnotic delusions. They appear deep, but deep down they tend to be very shallow. For mysticism is nothing more than the art of living with one's whole being at a deeper level.

Macarius, a fourth century church father, discusses the problem of mind parasites weaving their way into the unconscious in a most vivid and arresting manner: "When the prince of wickedness and his angels burrow there, and make paths and thoroughfares there, on which the powers of Satan walk into your mind and thoughts, are you not in hell, a tomb, a sepulcher, a dead man towards God?"


Before we can enter the pneumatosphere, we must begin by clearly recognizing the hopelessly fragmented, dispersed and fallen situation we find ourselves in, and wishing sincerely to turn it around. Everything else depends upon this first recognition. It is, as written by Gregory Nazianzen, to realize that we are "an animal en route to another native land," "halfway between greatness and nothingness." Call it repentance, metanoia, or just plain disgust, but it is the beginning of the process of reorienting our life around an altogether different center of gravity. We begin to objectively observe our thoughts and emotions, which is the opening salvo of spiritual warfare. It is to formally declare war on the forces in your psyche that pull you down and drag you out, from the depth to the surface, from the center to the periphery.

Denys the Areopagite wrote that "the higher we ascend, the more our words are straitened by the fact that what we understand is seen more and more altogether in a unifying and simplifying way." As "reason ascends from the lower to the transcendent, the more it ascends the more it is contracted, and when it has completely ascended it will become completely speechless, and be totally united with the Inexpressible." From lower complexity to higher simplicity. True science--including spiritual science--is the reduction of multiplicity to unity.

Have you ever met a simple, straightforward person with no agenda? Someone who is honest, transparent, and grounded, and doesn't change from day to day, depending on their mood?

Achieving this is actually the preliminary spadework of spiritual practice. You might say that it is both alpha and omega, because it is both cause and outcome. To put it another way, it begins as an efficient cause but eventually becomes a final cause. You begin by pushing, but eventually you will feel yourself pulled. What might be called the "spiritual dynamic" involves a combination of our own ceaseless efforts and the recognition that our unaided efforts will get us nowhere. As Bishop Kallistos Ware writes, "without God's grace we can do nothing; but without our voluntary cooperation God will do nothing."

Here's one for you to ponder. Basil the Great, a fourth century church father, said "A mind which is not dispersed among external things, returns to itself, and from itself ascends to God by an unerring path." Was it not Matthew who wrote, "if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light"? Yes, if thine "I" be single, many felicitous things follow. Somehow, verticality is a function of centration, of getting all of your I's on the same page.

Just to show you how much overlap there is, I will leave you with a couple of quotes from Sri Aurobindo: "What we are now, or rather what we perceive as ourselves and so call, is only an ignorant partial and superficial formulation of our nature. It is not our whole self; it is not even our real self; it is a little representative personality.... There is a secret soul in us that is our true person.... to unveil that soul and that self is one of the most important movements of Yoga."

The lower mind consists mostly of "a customary crowd or round of sensations, desires, hopes, feelings, and satisfactions." Such a person "respects what belongs to the domain of mind mostly for its utility for the support, comfort, use, satisfaction and entertainment of his phsyical and sensational existence." He regards the higher as "a superfluous but pleasant luxury of imaginations, feelings and thought-abstractions, not as inner realities...."

But "Mind is a passage, not a culmination": "Destiny in the rigid sense applies only to the outer being so long as it lives in the Ignorance.... But as soon as one enters the path of spiritual life, this old predetermined destiny begins to recede. There comes in a new factor, the Divine Grace, the help of a higher Divine Force other than the force of Karma.... It is here that the hostile forces playing on the weaknesses of the past nature strive to prevent the rapidity of the progress and to postpone the fulfillment."

In short, while the initial task is to turn from complexity to simplicity, from fragmentation to unity, there are forces within us that naturally wish to preserve their prerogatives and maintain the status quo. Hence the need for spiritual warfare--for inner vigilance, for watchfulness, for facing oneself, for separating from those things that separate us from spirit, for building the Inner Citadel, more on which tomorrow since I'm out of time.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Mano-a-Manotheism: Spiritual Warfare, Part 1.5

I had intended to get straight into some of the practical differences between ancient and modern Christianity. However, we had so many outstanding comments yesterday that I would first like to address them before formally declaring war on satan and discussing the ins and outs of spiritual warfare. Plus, I will have more time tomorrow than I do today for what is a rather large topic, that is, the practice of "unseen combat" that is is so central to Orthodox Christianity.

One of the things I find so intriguing about these practices is that they bear so much similarity to certain Vedantic practices that I have long embraced. I may have time to start the discussion today. We'll see how it goes. I've noticed that a post can only be so long before readers get a little intimidated and either skim it or read just the first and last paragraph. How do I know this? I don't. But Petey knows all. Don't try to fool him.

New contributor Will made a number of incisive points yesterday, some of which I already addressed in the comments. He also made a subtle point that is at the heart of my own overall cosmic ontology. With regard to the early church suppressing gnosticism and emphasizing dogma, reason and the intellect, he properly notes that this has hardly been a bad thing, especially when placed in its psychohistorical context. For surely, if you were alive at most any time prior to the
Enlightenment, you would not say that the world was primarily lacking in spiritual gnosis, but that what it most ached for was reason.

We, of course, take reason for granted, but it was a very long and painful time coming. And you may have noticed that it has still not arrived for large swaths of humanity. Ask yourself: what does the Islamic world most need in order to evolve? More people with their butts in the air, trying to hear the voice of God? Or might they benefit more from having a few people who have actually stably evolved into Piaget's stage of Formal Operations thinking? In other words, more people capable of abstract logic?

This same problem plagued India until quite recently. India is perhaps the most religious place on the planet, but its psychological and material progress were stymied for hundreds of years due to the absence of a rational theology that dealt equally with interior and exterior reality. Ever since the pivotal figure of Shankara in the early ninth century, India held to the idea that only interior reality was ultimately real, and that external reality represented maya, or illusion. They continued to be a dysfunctional country even after independence because of their immediate adoption of socialism, which is just a debased form of gnosis, as discussed by the philosopher Voegelin. But just look at the incredible power they have unleashed in the last decade or two by finally coming around to a philosophy of rational market principles. We are now seeing perhaps the most rapid and unprecedented transformation of a people in history, as they move from a subsistence economy to a wealth-creating machine.

Of course, now they may soon face the spiritual danger that the United States has been dealing with, especially over the past 50 years, that is, not poverty but abundance. The few pockets of true poverty that remain are mostly self-inflicted, and in any event, pose no existential threat to the United States. Abundance, however, is a different matter. It is very easy to dismiss the world as maya and spend your days meditating when life veritably sucks anyway. Much more difficult when faced with the infinite temptations of our horizontal pleasure dome.

The U.S. and India actually have much in common, as we are the most religious developed country, while India has always been the most religious country, period. (We're talking real religion here, not pseudo-religions such as Islam; as Will properly notes, Islam "is NOT part of the Judaic/Christian historical continuum" and does not in its present form fit in with the general progression of mankind; like Will, I believe that, at best, it embodies a psychohistorically earlier form of religiosity, like paganism--a necessary evil on the way to deeper understanding.)

It is easy for gnosis to exclude reason and for reason to eclipse gnosis. The trick is to balance them. This, of course, is exactly what Sri Aurobindo attempted to do. Having obtained a thoroughly modern education at Cambridge, he specifically tried to update Shankara and make Hindu metaphysics compatible with modernity. My own book is a humble (or grandiose... one of those two... I forget which) attempt to bring together reason and gnosis--not reduce one to the other, but to synthesize them at a higher level.

Will goes on to observe that "the world as a whole needs more reason. Reason and the intellect, after all, do hone individuality, which is a necessary step in the spiritual progression. We have to be separated from nature before we can return to it. Once our individuality is sharpened, once we are separated from the herd, then we can begin to explore the meaning of the One-ness, not as unconscious units of the herd, but as true, creative individuals--which is what, I believe, the Creator wants of us."

Here again, this is exactly my philosophy. As I have mentioned before, reality is One, but it is not a homogeneous one but a complex and hierarchical One. You cannot realize or recapture this One by devolving backwards, merging, and being swallowed up by the collective. This is the project of the Islamists. For them, life is too complex. Let's eliminate the complexity and recapture the oneness by traveling back, oh, say a millennium or so. That is the low way to unity. My way is the High Way. It means realizing unity at a higher level--not destroying complexity but embracing it and synthesizing it. Not ridding the world of science and reason, as the Islamists want to do, nor waging war on the spirit, as secular leftists are doing.

This is why the war on terror is fundamentally a two-front war: it is simultaneously a war on the vertical barbarians of islam and of the international left. This is why we see what might as well be a formal alliance between the left and the Islamists. The Islamists certainly recognize it and play that card for all it's worth.

Will also observed that "the wonderful thing is that the Christian scriptures contain both the exoteric and the esoteric--the gold of the esoteric is just under the surface, once one is ready for it. Hmm, almost as if it had been planned that way, you think?"

Indeed. This is one of the things that haunts my understanding of Christianity. Most people who come to Christianity presumably do so based upon hearing the story of the gospels and having a sort of spiritual "a ha" experience that more or less falls under the heading of being "born again." But for me it has been the opposite path. That is, I was not initially attracted to the literal component at all, but was increasingly astonished by the sophisticated intellectual and metaphysical teaching.

But this raises an interesting issue that I continue to grapple with. That is, to my everlasting surprise, I have discovered in Christianity this incredible penumbra of Truth. You know what a penumbra is, right? When you look at an eclipse, it's the area of illumination around the circle of darkness, as the moon covers the sun. In other words, I am discovering this profound penumbra of Truth, but where is it coming from? What is that Light behind the dark circle in the middle? Now that is a mystery, because it is obviously the risen Jesus. How can the penumbra be true but its source be false? The lower intellect cannot resolve this problem. It can only make one side or the other go away.

With regard to dogma, Brother Bartleby notes that "the early Church had to face what every organization has to face, becoming organized. You read it in Paul's letters: how do you gather a group of folks and maintain some sort of cohesion? The Church took the easy out--dogma. It was their only way to get all the scattered bishops onto the same page, for without oversight, they were all teaching their own brand of Christianity."

True, the early fathers may have been scrambling for some sense of unity to which all Christians could assent. But still, their efforts were pretty impressive. This is one of the key beliefs of Orthodoxy--that the early fathers and councils were divinely inspired in what they accepted and rejected, and how they worked out the theological problems implicit in the diversity of scripture. Remember, one cannot in reality just look to the New Testament, as Protestants do, and say that everything else, such as belief in the trinity, is "extra-biblical." For in reality, the Bible is extra-Biblical! Even by the time it was written, many theological decisions had already been made by the church, and certainly its canonization was purely the church's doing. What is so remarkable is not what they got wrong, but how much they got right.

It reminds me of the many reissued CDs such as The Beatles Anthology that contain all of the alternate takes and remixes that are clearly inferior to what was released at the time. Almost never does an alternate version equal the official release, even though the artists and producers were pressed for time and simply making decisions "on the fly" in order to get the product to market. Even there, it is as if such aesthetic decisions are "guided" by unseen hands.

Brother Bartleby makes a valid point that "today we all have access to more of the early writings than even the early bishops had. And we can read. And we can think. And I think we can come to Jesus in a way that organizations cannot duplicate, we can come to Him in ways that the apostles came to Him... I think the days of the church as enforcer of dogma have passed, it is just that the word hasn't got out yet."

While I strongly agree with the spirit of what Brother Bartleby is saying, I have also gradually come to a much greater respect for our spiritual forebears, and would now be very cautious about simply assuming that I know better. I don't think it's a matter of either/or, but balance. I liken it to jazz, where the "dogma" of intense discipline and fidelity to tradition leads to a higher level of "spontaneous composition" in the form of improvisation. Improvisation does not occur as a result of eliminating form, but internalizing it and creatively "playing" with it.

Finally, Nick observes that "one of the main distinctions between orthodox and esoteric Christianity has always been the existence or otherwise of the historical Jesus. Some esotericists and historians... felt that the life of Christ is predominantly allegorical and therefore we need not insist on the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth. This is my position also, and one that has prevented me having any active involvement in the Anglican church in which I grew up. There is not one single wing of the church of any denomination that allows for strict allegorical interpretation of scripture, and hence this excludes a significant number of seekers from any participation in the church."

I'm running short on time here. I would simply reemphasize the existence of that darn penumbra--pentecostalumbra?--alluded to above. I might add that I now regard literalism in a rather different light which I have touched on in recent weeks. That is, I believe the literal component of Christianity is vital, not just for reasons of dogma and continuity, but because it engages a very different part of our mind that transcends ordinary reason. This actually encompasses the larger portion of our mind, which does not obey the dictates of Aristotelian logic, but instead operates along the lines of what is called symmetrical logic. Assent to literalism can actually be a wonderful liberation into the domain of symmetrical logic. In short, these literal beliefs may not be so much informational as transformational. So I don't have a big problem with literalism. Just don't take me literally when I say that.

Well, I've run out of time. More on spiritual warfare tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hand to Hand Combat Without Hands, Part One

I've been feeling so nauseous that I forget where we are in the cosmos. Something having to do with Christianity--whether it is simply a black and white matter of salvation resulting from belief in a certain doctrine, or whether it is actually more complicated than that. Specifically, whether Christianity might represent a "vertical" path with degrees of realization ending in mystical union.

The version of Christianity that most of us are introduced to as children is generally the former variety. While no doubt fine for many--again, I am by no means denigrating the person of humble and sincere faith--I remember having serious misgivings about it as soon as I began attending Sunday school at the age of five or so. Instead of providing me with religious instruction, as my mother intended, it had the practical effect of turning me into perhaps the world's youngest atheist. As it so happened, the certainty of my atheism only relented somewhat when the Beatles began publicizing their interest in transcendental meditation in 1967-68, when I was 11 or 12. This left an indelible impression on me. Finally I was hearing something, however vulgar and garbled, that spoke to me about the vertical. Even as a young gagboy, I was especially impressed that the most famous and powerful cultural figures of the 20th century--people whom I idealized as gods--should (apparently, anyway) so quickly see through the illusory trap of wealth and fame, and want to devote their lives to something higher and deeper.

Just as an aside, it shows you the importance of the public behavior of famous people. It doesn't matter what celebrities do in their private lives, so long as we don't know about it, but if they would only conduct themselves with dignity and nobility in public, as they once did, it would undoubtedly have a positive effect on the people who look up to them, even if the celebrity in question is a rotten hypocrite. People do need positive role models--people to look up to--even if the role models secretly have feet of clay. Now the only lesson taught by celebrities is "don't be a hypocrite. Be the authentically selfish and narcissistic bastard you really are, for all the world to see."

At any rate, I had an early metaphysical template that revolved around anti-Christianity, atheism, and infatuation with most any nonwestern form of spirituality, so long as it did not involve God. Slowly, as I began to immerse myself in the study of what is called the "perennial philosophy"--the idea that each religion represents a different path ascending to the same destination--I began to see how Christianity might fit in. But still, I generally regarded it as a needlessly mythological and inferior representation of the more pure metaphysics of the East.

I don't remember exactly when it was, but it was probably only about six or seven years ago that I really began to turn this around. I won't bore you with all the details, but something in (or out of) me told me that I had to study Christianity from the very ground up. Instead of beginning with the watered down gruel that we are given in the 20th century and working backward, I needed to go back to the very beginning and find out how it all came about.

I was especially fascinated with the period between Jesus' death in approximately 33 AD and the official establishment of Christianity as a state religion some 300 years later. 300 years is a very long time. Exactly what did the earliest Christians believe? Why did they believe it? What were their practices? Was this a secret mystery cult with esoteric techniques of spiritual transformation? Why did they happily dance and sing on their way to being tortured and slaughtered by the Romans? Most mysteriously, exactly how did it come to pass that a fringe movement that should have ended with Jesus' anonymous and ignominious death eventually spread like wildfire and conquer the most powerful empire on the planet? That doesn't just happen. And yet, he said it would happen--that his words would somehow be preached in every corner of the earth. If you were alive at the time, you would have said that the chances of this happening would be no higher than zero.

Catholicism generally takes its bearings from Augustine, in the sense that everything before leads up to him and everything after flows from him. But he's already into the fifth century--he died in 430. That's 400 years from the death of Jesus. As most people know, the original Christian church eventually split in half by the year 1000 or so, into its Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox varieties. But in reality, the basis of that split was present much, much earlier than that, really from the very beginning. For the sake of time, I'm going to oversimplify here, but the differences can be detected almost from the very outset, and by the time of Augustine they were quite marked. And I would define those differences, in the broadest sense, as being exterior vs. interior, horizontal vs. vertical, and mystical/gnostic (in its non-heretical sense) vs. intellectual/theological.

This is not to say that the East was free of dogma and the West free of gnosis--only to highlight a certain emphasis, or inflection, that has maintained itself to this day. In fact, I would suggest that the later Protestant rebellion was at bottom an attempt to recapture the religious immediacy and intensity that had been de-emphasized by the Western church. They weren't seeking less intensity but a more intense religious experience that seemed to be denied them by dogma, corruption, and authority.

Although there is naturally much overlap, the East tends to look to a very different set of church fathers than the West, and by the fifth century we see a pretty clear split between the rational theology of Augustine and the mystical theology of the great Denys the Areopagite, a central figure through which all later Christian mysticism runs.

Interestingly, in the Eastern rite, what are called the "sacraments" in the West are referred to as "the mysteries." Now, I may well be treading on thin ice here, getting into something about which I am unqualified to speak, and I would certainly welcome our dear reader, Dilys, to correct me if the mood strikes her. But I believe in the East it is fair to say that there is a de-emphasis on the atonement theory--of Jesus simply being a substitute sacrifice for your own sorry hide--and more of an emphasis on what is called theosis, or the realization of the two perfected natures in the individual, in the fashion of Jesus. This is not to meddle with the basic idea of salvation of the believer, only to emphasize that it is possible on this side of manifestation to realize the higher possibilities that salvation intrinsically entails. Grace is still freely given and cannot be manufactured by any worldly techniques. However, there are things we can do to "get out of the way" and therefore "amplify" the grace that is already present.

Upon Jesus' death, it is said that the veil of the temple was rent vertically from top to bottom. In ancient Judaism, there was a veil that separated the "holiest of holies," the formless, inexpressible mystery of God, from the faithful. Only the high priest could traverse that boundary and confront the mystery of mysteries. But if that veil was rent upon Jesus' death, the implication is that it is now somehow accessible to all of us.

Importantly, it does not mean that there isn't still a sharp distinction between this and that side of the ultimate mystery. It just means exactly what it says--that a certain veil has been removed. One still has to know how to enter it. That is what spiritual combat is all about, which I had hoped to discuss today, but which will have to wait until tomorrow. And please bear in mind that I will only be discussing these matters in the most general sense, because they are not things to be treated causally, nor are they to be indiscriminately tossed out to all and sundry. No, you are not a swine. But you know the cyber-swine are out there, and you know what they do with pearls. What I hope to do is simply throw out a rope for others to pick up if they are truly called to do so. Under the circumstances it would be highly inappropriate for me to do more than that.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Mind and Spirit: What Man Has Finally Put Asunder, Let No Religion Indiscriminately Join Together Again

A couple of interesting questions yesterday that were too complex and important to deal with in a brief comment. First Kahntheroad asks about "the sequence of attempting a spiritual pursuit. You've proposed before that psychoanalysis is an important, if not essential, element for spiritual growth. Is it a prerequisite? Is it fruitless to even bother seeking out the vertical when one is still bogged down with mind parasites and other unresolved horizontal issues? And to what extent must these be resolved, or tempered? Or is it possible for an intense spiritual experience to turn the tide, so to speak?"

Again, being that we are three-part beings composed of body, mind (psyche or soul), and spirit, it makes sense to me that all three have to be addressed in a serious spiritual practice. But unfortunately, just as the secular world has reduced spirit to psyche, the religious world tends to elevate soul to spirit. I don't think it's helpful to conflate these categories.

It is obvious with respect to your body, isn't it? You could be like a Christian Scientist, refuse medicine, and rely only upon prayer (spirit) to cure your illnesses (body). Sure, it might work once in a blue moon, but I think you're much better off going to a doctor. Why conflate the physical and spiritual?

This is not to say there is no relationship between the two. Obviously there is. This is what hatha yoga is all about--the recognition that spiritual growth takes place within a body, so that we must do everything possible to make the body a healthy, sensitive and robust vehicle for that. Hatha yoga has become quite debased these days, but it is not supposed to be understood outside a specifically sacred and spiritual context. It has a goal, a higher purpose, and it is not just to HAVE TIGHTER BUNS IN FOURTEEN DAYS!, worthy though that goal might be.

So ultimately everything is One, but that doesn't mean there aren't distinctions within the One. It's a complex and hierarchical One, not a simple and homogeneous one.

Now bear in mind that it has only been in the last 100 years that we have known anything about the unconscious and about the developmental nature of the human psyche. It always amuses me when I hear pseudo-intellectuals dismiss Freud as irrelevant, when he--or at least the tradition founded by him--has never been more relevant. People criticize Freud as if the field has not evolved since his death in 1939, but that's like criticizing contemporary physics based on something Isaac Newton got wrong.

It is impossible to go into a detailed explication of modern "object relations" psychoanalysis here, but suffice it to say that our psyche is a thoroughly intersubjective structure that evolves in the "space" between the plastic and still not complete nervous system we are born with and our early caretakers. Neuroscientist Gerald Edelman's theory of "neural Darwinism" describes how human beings are born with a vast overabundance of neurons that are either reinforced or ruthlessly weeded out during our first two years of life, depending upon the experiences we have. Neurons that "fire together, wire together," while neurons that don't fire at all just die away, never to return. (A deep but accessible summary of the state-of-the-art research into neuro-developmental psychoanalysis is found at the top of the list of books on the sidebar, The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, by Dan Siegel; my book, in order to keep the length manageable, has only a summary of the summary.)

This is one of the key ideas of modern psychoanalysis--that early experience, both good and bad, does indeed get "hardwired" into the psyche. This is how, as first recognized by an earlier psychoanalytic pioneer, Erik Erikson, our capacity for "basic trust" can be somewhat set in stone from the very outset. If as infants we are responded to in a loving and empathic manner, then quite naturally we develop a background psychological context that regards the world in a similar way--as a benign and non-threatening place that can take care of our needs. Likewise, even just a "bad fit" between mother and infant can color this background context and make the world appear vaguely threatening, disappointing, or dangerous for the rest of one's life. This has obvious implications for how we will perceive the spiritual realm, for the same reason that our physical health will have an influence on how our minds work.

With even just this limited explanation in hand, is it not obvious how the psychological realm habitually interferes with the ability to properly deal with the spiritual? For example, you may have noticed that I have a few angry and hostile readers (who shall remain nameless) in whom I believe that a sensitive individual can see this confusion quite transparently. Or just look at history! Inquisitions, burning heretics, human sacrifice, jihads, fear and compulsion as the primary means of religious instruction, florid visions of hell that are just the terrified recollections of an emotionally abandoned or abused infant writ large--it has almost been the norm to have considerable confusion between the spiritual and the psychological.

But now, from our privileged historical vantage point, we are able to differentiate between these realms. Remember, one of the hallmarks of modernity is a separation of various realms that were all blended in the past--and continue to be blended in the Islamic world. That is, prior to the enlightenment, we can see that there was no clear differentiation between the political, religious, artistic, and scientific realms. The church was not just involved in the realm of spirit, but was deeply entangled in politics, determined what was acceptable for science, and dictated what was appropriate in art.

A big part of evolution involves both increased differentiation and complexity, but also a higher synthesis and unity. In our day, we tend to have the opposite problem of the pre-enlightenment world, in that we have satisfactorily divided everything up and placed it in its proper little department. But how do we put it all together again? How do we recover the lost unity, not by going backward, as the Islamists want to do, but by moving forward, into a re-synthesis of knowledge?

This is what my book humbly endeavors to do. While retaining respect for the separation of various domains, I attempt to show how everything might be related on a higher level. I'm not saying that my approach is the only way. Clearly, it is more a "vision," or perhaps even a juggling "performance" than a clear-cut and unambiguous philosophical system. But to return to Khantheroad's question, I believe that any total system of reality must include the spiritual, but must at the same time draw a clear distinction between the spiritual and psychological.

So how does this play out in practical terms? Yes, I do believe that most people can benefit from at least a short course of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. In my opinion, it is by far the most fruitful and far-reaching explanation for human behavior and motivation that has ever been devised. I really don't think anything else comes close. This doesn't mean five days a week, lying on the couch and free-associating for five years. But it does mean gaining some insight into how your mind actually works, so that it doesn't contaminate and hijack the spiritual process, as it almost inevitably will.

Kahntheroad asks, "is it fruitless to even bother seeking out the vertical when one is still bogged down with mind parasites and other unresolved horizontal issues?" No. For me to suggest that would be quite out of bounds, as there are always hidden factors involved in spiritual growth--a grace from above--that can work in mysterious and unpredictable ways. But the whole point is that it's not an either/or situation. There is absolutely no reason why one cannot do both. Remember, pre-enlightenment thinking conflated the spiritual and psychological, while we moderns artificially separate them too sharply.

"Is it possible for an intense spiritual experience to turn the tide, so to speak?" I suppose it does happen, but I do not believe it is the norm. History is replete with examples of people who have had intense spiritual experiences that did nothing to resolve their unconscious conflicts. So we have homosexual pedophile priests, pastors and preachers of all kinds who express their bottomless narcissism on TV, angry religious trolls on my blog who use me as a stand-in for their own unresolved issues, various gurus who find that their sex drive is completely uncontainable once they leave their cave and see a photograph of Jessica Alba (in that case, perhaps somewhat understandable), etc.

Moving on to Bryan's question, he noted that the conflict between esoteric (inner) and exoteric (outer) Christianity is what drove him away from Christianity altogether and toward Buddhism. This, of course, is a quite common experience among both Jews and Christians in the West, since nowhere do we generally encounter the deep sapiential and mystical dimensions of Christianity. This is sadly true, and I used to believe it myself until quite recently.

When I began writing my book, it probably had a somewhat--perhaps even blatant--anti-Christian bias. Looking back on how things played out, I do believe that I was lead by some sort of "Christian spirit" to revise that view. I was rather mysteriously lead to exactly the sources I needed, when I needed them, in such a manner that the whole thing almost seemed to be scripted. It's a little difficult to explain my entire belief system in this context, but suffice it to say that I now consider Christianity--rightly understood--to embody the highest esoteric wisdom, even though I remain what might be called a "poly-monotheist." That is, I don't believe in blending and confusing the great religious traditions, as the new-agers tend to do. Still, I think of each legitimate esoteric tradition as capable of taking one to the highest peak. The various trails that ascend the mountain are all separate and distinct--only at the peak do they converge. For most people it is best to stay on one particular trail. Furthermore, the path of mystical ascent is clearly not for everyone. It is a calling, a vocation. Moreover, you do not call it--it calls you.

I would like to discuss further what I discovered about Christianity that makes it so special to me, but I probably shouldn't do that now, because I've already gone on too long. Suffice it to say that there is no reason whatsoever to think that one must necessarily turn to the Orient--toward Buddhism or Hinduism--to travel the path of mystical ascent. Or as I expressed it in the book, "Ascent you a son, amen for a child's job." Tomorrow I'll try to explain what was meant by that puzzling remark. If Petey will tell me.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Adventure of Consciousness

Recently we've had a number of readers who sometimes vehemently disagreed with my conception of God, based upon an experience that they have had of "the one God," specifically the Christian God. Now, I do not doubt their experience, and at no point have I (or would I ever) argue that someone's experience is not their experience.

I used to be very interested in such "peak experiences," thinking that they must represent the sine qua non of spiritual development. But as I have seen my own life and mind become gradually transformed over the years, I have become much more interested in the issue of altered traits rather than altered states.

When I first began my spiritual practice, I assumed that I was looking for some sort of dramatic experience, an exalted spiritual rubicon that I would cross and never look back, like the sudden satori of Zen or moksha of Hinduism. True, I did have some such experiences, but I now think of them more as "lures" to demonstrate the validity of my search and keep me on the path, as opposed to being some kind of final deustination. (For those who have the book, I use the symbol (!?) for these experiences that most anyone, even the most hardened atheist, will have at least once in their life--when the veil is rent, so to speak, and you are offered a "metaphysical freebie" that conclusively shows you that the apparent does not exhaust the real.)

Now, if I criticize "fundamentalism" or literalism, please realize that I do so from a friendly and sympathetic position. For example, I happen to believe that a fundamentalist who thinks that the world was created by God in six days is actually much, much closer to the truth than any doctrine that leaves the divine mind out of the equation.

But as you know, in contemporary America there is much talk of the "born again" experience. You were a fallen creature wandering satan's horizontal playground, had a personal experience of the risen Jesus, and were saved. End of story.

I see at least a couple of serious potential pitfalls with this view. First of all, it reduces what I believe is an ongoing evolution to an either/or situation, with no clear appreciation of the unfolding nature of spiritual growth, and how difficult it is: that one must engage in spiritual warfare with body, mind and spirit, not just once, but every day.

Moreover, the individualistic experience of being "saved" can and does easily lead to a paralyzing narcissistic inflation. You know God's will. You are saved. Others are not. Having once been a leftist, I can testify as to how irritating such talk is to them. It is actually an invitation to not be taken seriously. Which is fine. Jesus said that Christians would be persecuted in his name. But I think there's a better way that doesn't in the least compromise Christian teachings.

In fact, I believe this notion of sudden and permanent salvation is a modern twist that often involves a bit of frank heresy. Spiritual satisfaction actually risks drawing one further away from God. For me at least, there must always be a sharp line between creator and created. It is because of the dynamic tension involved in inhabiting that middle position, or "transitional space," that spiritual growth can take place: blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. But when our point of departure is an intellectual certitude of absolute salvation, truly, that is just an invitation for unresolved personal issues to rush into the breach--issues that have never been properly dealt with through the type of "spiritual warfare" exhaustively described by the ancient fathers and such modern luminaries as Theophan the Recluse.

How else to explain how so many "saved" people continue ot behave so badly? They were given an altered state, but it did not necessarily lead to any altered traits. Of course I am not talking about everyone. But I would certainly suggest that it is a majority. I would bet that very few Christians understand just how sophisticated are the ancient techniques of spiritual warfare, or even that such a thing exists.

Again, as I have mentioned before, traditional metaphysics teaches that human beings are composed of no less than three distinct parts: body, mind (or soul), and spirit. Each of these is subject to constant growth and change. Obviously that applies to our bodies. And we can also see that it applies to the mind, in that this is what conventional education and self-improvement are all about. But since the enlightenment, we have tended to conflate soul and spirit, with disastrous consequences; spirit has actually been reduced to soul, so that there is no recognition that spiritual growth runs along its own track. Most people stop learning anything truly new by the time they are 25 or 30. Worse, the vast majority experience no spiritual growth at all. Even the best of them are stuck in the lower intellect, as if that is all there is.

As you know, one of my favorite places to study left wing secular pneumapathology is It offers such a wealth of the varieties of spiritual illness that it is irresistible. A couple of days ago there was an article by Cenk Uygur, entitled The Liberation of Meaninglessness that exemplifies what it is like to be of reasonable--probably above average--intelligence, but to be absolutely enclosed in a spiritually primitive, animal-like existence. Truly, like an ape with a slightly more sophisticated brain, suffering from a sort of invincible blindness to any reality that transcends his immediate senses. In fact, most Darwinians would have no objection to the characterization of being glorified apes.

Bear in mind that this most certainly represents "sophisticated" contemporary leftist thought. It is the kind of thought that makes them feel so confidently superior to the religious. Uygur asks, for example, "What are we waiting for? What--heaven? Hell? You have got to be kidding me. Please don't tell me that you are wasting the one precious life you have waiting around for the fairytales of our ancestors. Our ancestors thought the stars were holes in the sky. They thought the Earth was flat, that the Sun revolved around us and that there is a man with a gray beard up in the sky."

Fascinating. On the one hand, he recognizes that life is infinitely precious. Few people are so spiritually blind that they cannot see that. But in the next breath he says that "We are infinitesimally small. We are miniscule animals on a tiny planet circling a small star in a giant galaxy. There are at least 200 billion stars just like ours in our galaxy alone. And there are anywhere between 10 to 100 billion other galaxies. When you zoom out from a single person to the Earth to our sun to the 200 billion other stars in our galaxy and to the billions of other galaxies, you realize we are entirely irrelevant."

Do you see the confusion? Once you collapse the realm of the soul and the spirit, you inhabit an impoverished "flatland" in which everything is equivalent to everything else. Life--which is clearly higher than matter--is violently reduced to mere matter, no different than one of the billions of stars--or atoms or rocks, for that matter.

Uygur confuses what is more fundamental with what is more significant, which is exactly what his metaphysic condemns him to do from the outset. The conclusion is loaded into the premise, and the premise results from his own spiritual blindness, now elevated to a form of great intellectual courage. He assures us that human beings are "a cosmic joke." (Odd that these people are called "humanists.") Our brief presence in the cosmos "doesn't even qualify as a hiccup in time.... The insignificance of that period time within 15 billion years cannot be overstated. Our lives go by quicker than a cosmic second. We are so small as to be nearly nonexistent. Yet we are led to believe that we are the center of the damn universe. Everything we do is so important. We lead these careful, guilt-ridden, cautious lives only to die abruptly and disappear into cosmic insignificance."

Do you see how this man is promulgating the first incorrect philosophy that the yahoos who wrote the Bible dispensed with on page one? It is called cosmolatry. That is, this man is suggesting that the material cosmos is the highest and greatest, just because it preceded our arrival. It is ultimate--in its wake we are completely insignificant.

In fact, it was in order to prevent human beings from going down that primitive and spiritually vapid road--cosmolatry is hardly a modern or postmodern philosophy, but a very primitive one--that the Bible states "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." In other words, the rug is pulled out from primitive cosmolatry right from he outset: there is something higher and greater than the material cosmos, as awesome as the comsos may appear to the untutored senses. It is just another creation of something greater, something far transcending it. To coin a phrase, it is "one cosmos under God," not equivalent to God.

As I have mentioned before, it is ironic that secular atheists are even more fundamental than the most fundamental fundamentalist. Thus Uygur contemptuously dismisses religion by reducing it to its most base understanding. If we could talk to one of the writers of the Bible today, they would say "We wrote that woman came from the rib of man because we had no fucking idea where women came from. You've traced back the origin of life and you're still wondering if we knew something you don't know? We were practically cavemen. We knew less science than your average third grader now."

Although the cosmos is entirely meaningless, Uygur presumes to instruct us how to have a meaningful life, not realizing that his metaphysic rules this out a priori. He says, "There is something liberating about meaninglessness. We are cosmically insignificant, so who cares what we do?.... For the love of God, just please live the life you want to live, not the one you think you should live." "Enjoy yourself without infringing on others. Hedonism is not the answer [hmm. why not?]. But a stodgy, unadventurous life isn't either."

A stodgy, unadventurous life. That's what Uyger's life would represent to me, an awful imprisonment in maya, in the world of the animal senses and the lower mind, with no possibility of exodus into vertical liberation. In reality, the spiritual life is the only adventure that is: the awesome adventure of consciousness into God. There are ways to miss out on this adventure, both religious and secular. And that, my friends, would be a wasted and meaningless life--a celestial abortion, if you want to know the truth.


As a consequence of the inability to distinguish between the higher and lower, the secular liberal temple of the Oscar ceremony confers one of its highest awards upon the infrahuman. From the invaluable American Digest, via larwyn):

"With the THREE 6 MAFIA scheduled to serenade the clotted cream of our culture tonight at the Oscars with their moving ode..., "You Know It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," one wonders exactly what songs THREE 6 MAFIA might be called upon to perform as an encore at the after parties should they win.

"Checking the group's impressive catalogue it could be one, or more, or perhaps all of the following masterpieces:

Blow A Nigga's Ass Off
Fuck That Nigga
Fuck Dat Shit
Get Buck Muthafucka (Original)
Long And Hard (Original)
No I'm Not Dat Nigga
Hoes Can Be Like Niggas
From Da Back
Fuck Y'all Hoes
Mafia Niggaz
Weak Azz Bitch
Jealous Ass Bitches
Beatem To Da Floor
Put Cha D. In Her Mouth
Pussy Got Ya Hooked
Slob On My Knob
or the immortal,
Slob On My Knob (Pt. II)
[Because there was so much more to say.]

"Given the climate of the Academy today, any one of these might indeed be Oscar material in and of itself. But given the proclivities of the Academy today, my money's on either one of the last two as the songs much in demand wherever our glitterati gather tonight after the show."


Fascinating. We know that liberals are obsessed with race. No one seems to consider that this might be a reaction formation or unconscious attempt to "undo" feelings of condescension and superiority. Thus, racial superiority returns through the back door in the form of racial quotas, hate crime legislation, speech codes--and in awards such as this, elevating the bestial to the sublime.

It reminds me of George Clooney's moral grandstanding last night about how enlightened the Hollywood nitwiterati have always been in the fight against racism. In point of fact, a film like To Kill a Mockingbird might more accurately be described as a self-congratulatory exercise in trying to atone for the degrading way that Hollywood had generally depicted blacks prior to that. In a return to form, they once again joyously celebrate their portrayal of blacks as subhuman gutterati. Liberals used to fight for abolition. Now they fight for the Abolition of Man.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Is the Cosmos a Fractal Torus? (And Other Idol Speculations)

Light blogging today as a result of heavy nausea. And not the usual existential kind. The contagious baby kind. Woo! Nasty. We tried quarantining him, but no luck. He escaped:

Bro. Bartleby left a link to an interesting website that provides examples of maps of visual complexity. I looked through the maps, trying to find something that reminded me of how I visualize the cosmos -- I'm not sure why, but I do -- as a sort of hyperdimensional toroidal fractal klein bottle with God in the middle. So I googled "fractal toroid klein bottle" and found the following idol (courtesy Gavin Kistner):

Then it struck me how similar the pattern is to the Gustave Dore engraving from the Divine Comedy on the cover of my book. While I specifically chose this cover, I didn't consciously do so with the fractal toroid pattern in mind. In other words, I wasn't trying to be allegheirical:

So there you go. Just like Richard Doofus in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

(BTW, that's Petey on the right, goosing me from behind, saying "see, I told you it looked like a donut.")