The Satanic Miracle of Victimhood (12.11.10)
But the self -- at least a healthy self -- does not merely spin around an interior axis. Rather, aided by "the light of Reason" (understood in its integral, not merely rationalistic sense) and by transcendent ideals, this center of subjectivity can undergo increased order and evolve in the direction of one's highest aspiration, toward the true cosmic center of which we are a distant reflection -- we are the "center at the periphery," as Schuon has called it, the true center being the nonlocal, space-pervading spirit of I AM.
Speaking of the rhythm of being -- days, seasons, years, etc. -- for Schuon, all natural phenomena are here to convey lessons to us. Thus, for example, our lives are not just divided into day and night -- or what Joyce called the "wideawake and cutandry" vs. the clearobscure remumbled murmuries of the night -- but into seasons: the childhood spring of "formation and learning"; the mature summer of "actual and effective realization"; the late-middle age autumn of "consolidation, reparation, and the directing of others"; and the old age winter of "detachment and transcendence." Alternatively, one could say that childhood is "the paradise of innocence," youth "the time of the passions," maturity "the time of work," and old age "that of sadness" -- at least for the horizontal man. For the vertical man, "the opposite takes place: age is an ascent towards another world."
For Tomberg, the fourth day of creation is ultimately the divine-cosmic archetype of holy communion, or the vertical recollection of the a priori unity that embraces and subtends all beings in the world. As such, the fourth miracle of John -- the feeding of the 5,000 -- "is the corresponding healing work of the Word-made-flesh." For as the central sun "nourishes" and unifies all beings, so too Jesus ("sitting on a mountain") functioned as the "nourishment-giving center" for the multitude below. It was as if he "sped up" the time it takes for the sun to produce bread -- planting, sprouting, growth, ripening, harvesting, etc. -- multiplying it in the same way the sun multiplies the small amount of wheat or corn that is planted.
Interestingly, Jesus does not distribute the bread and fish directly, but through the mediating principle or "reflected light" of the disciples. Tomberg suggests that this is a mercy, for the direct light would be so shattering an experience that one would be temporarily blinded, like Paul on the road to Damascus.
This also speaks to the hierarchical structure of the world, which is not simply bipolar (i.e., creator and created, or God and man), but has degrees of being. Each level of the hierarchy is a moon to the level above but a relative sun to the level below. Better men than I can withstand the direct rays of the sun. For now, it is enough to stand in the reflected light of certain nonlocal operators who illuminate much more than I can assimilate anyway. Don't let your I's be bigger than your metaphysical stomach, or you may sopher indeigestion.
Personally, I think it was a bit cavalier to toss out the entire church hierarchy in favor of a purely "personal relationship with Jesus Christ," but perhaps that's just the authoritarian in me. But I see a more or less infinite gulf between the majority of people who say they have such a direct relationship vs. those who actually did and do -- say, St. Theophan the Recluse, or St. John of the Cross, or Seraphim of Sarov. For me, the Philokalia is like the bread handed directly to the disciples. If you are capable of digesting and assimilating it, then you have achieved the imapostleable. You can withstand the seering rays of the sun. The rest of us need a little sonscreen.
We must never forget that an unreflective "spirit of democracy" will usually end in "horizontalocracy" in the absence of hierarchy. In reality, there is no ordered wholeness without hierarchy and no hierarchy without a top and bottom. This is why Orthodoxy and Catholicism naturally "tend" toward conservatism, while protestantism tends toward left-liberalism -- or at least there is no natural mechanism to prevent the downward slide, which is how you end up with a true "anti-Church" of Christianity such as the National Council of Churches. (And of course, the opposite problems can and do sometimes appear in more conservative denominations, i.e., illegitimate authority and authority wielded illegitimately.)
As Richard Weaver writes in Ideas Have Consequences, forms are the ladder of ascent: "Every group regarding itself as emancipated is convinced its predecessors were fearful of reality, looking upon veils of decency as obstructions that it will strip aside. But behind the veils is a reality of such commonplace that it is merely knowledge of death." The "taking away of degree" creates a tyrannical flatland which is death to the soul and its spiritual evolution. This is why leftists are always mindlessly rebellious, anti-authority, and radically "democratic" (when it is convenient).
If the "raw stuff" of life is precisely "what the civilized man desires to have refined," we should not be at all surprised that in these leftist-dominated times we find ourselves surrounded by raw stuff -- or that websites such as the dailykurse or huffingandpissed propagate political "raw stuff," precisely. Indeed, this is what makes them so repulsive, not to say frightening. (Nor should anyone be surprised that there is approximately 18 times more verbal "raw stuff" on leftist websites.)
Weaver points out that the loss of transcendentals also brings with it the loss of heroes. Like living works of art, heroes are in the world but point beyond it, to a higher principle that animates and shines through them. Without them, we are loused in space and moroned in time. We're just here and now, with no one to lead the way up, out, or in.
You will have noticed that for the left, our men and women in Iraq are not heroes but victims. Obviously, they cannot be heroes if their battle is fundamentally unjust, even fascistic and imperialist. Thus, the left's way of "supporting the troops" is to convert them into victims and to then "fight" on their behalf. (I had no idea that Dr. Sanity had an excellent post on this topic yesterday.) This has the psychological side benefit of making the leftist a hero in his own eyes while destroying the possibility of real heroes. Naturally they tie themselves in knots in attempting to be intellectually consistent, for example, trading on the "heroism" of a former "baby killer" in the last presidential election. Which is it, hero or baby killer? And naturally, he was victimized by the "swift-boating," when a real hero would have been impervious to such slings and arrows.
In reality, the contemporary left has no real heroes, merely victims and their "heroic" enablers. Making the victim the hero is to overturn the ontological order of the cosmos, precisely. It is not merely to annihilate hierarchy but to substitute a reverse hierarchy -- which ends in a "race to the bottom" for superior victim status. Who is the bigger victim, the female or the (half) black? What force can possibly speak more articulately on behalf of victims than the predatory effeminacy of the bottom-feeding trial lawyer, John Edwards? For when we speak of victims, we are also speaking of a feminine nurturing impulse gone haywire, unbalanced by the male principle.
A spiritual practice should be a "force multiplier," in the same way that Jesus multiplied the bread and fish. Each of us can be an effective source of light below, but only if we are reflections of the true light above. Tomberg concludes: "There thus arises a wonderful picture out of a deeper consideration of the miracle of the feeding of 5,000: in the center, high up on a mountain, Jesus Christ, as the shining and life-giving sun; then the circle of disciples as the silver moon; and round about the mountain a swarm of thousands of stars -- the people."
Alternatively, we can have a horizontal swarm ruled by its victims. But who will feed all the endlessly multiplying victims?