Tuesday, October 09, 2007

An Unspeakable Cosmic Mythunderstanding

That which cannot be expressed in words but by which the tongue speaks -- know that to be Brahman. --Kena Upanishad

I had intended to say something about symbolism and metaphor in Sunday's post, before it was hijacked down an unanticipated byway. Symbolism is one of the modalities of the unconscious mind, along with eternity, placelesness, non-contradiction, and conflation of imagination and reality. Humans are so immersed in symbols that it's hard for us to think about them, since doing so will only result in more symbols. Until today. Today I'm going to use my advanced cOOnVision to pry myself free of symbols and find out what's going on underneath them.

Freud used the terms "displacement" and "condensation" for the unconscious mind's ability to "identify things with a certain similarity and transfer attributes of one thing to another" (Bomford). If these two properties are extended to their furthest generalization, then it means that anything is identical to the class to which it belongs, and that the class is identical to any of its members. For example, in the unconscious mind, Hillary isn't just like a witch, she is a witch; furthermore, she is both a particular instance of witchhood and the class of all witches. In 2008, the country will essentially decide whether she is a good witch or a bad witch, and whether we will live in a sheliocentric lunar sistem.

The conscious use of metaphor (e.g., Hillary is like a witch) invites the reader to "consider a term as one of a set with which it perhaps might not otherwise be classified, and then to draw characteristics from other members of that set" (Bomford). Political advertising, which is to say, MSM reporting, relies heavily upon injecting various metaphors into our discourse, and then letting the unconscious mind take care of the rest. People who see through the ruse are called "conservatives."

For example, for certain benighted boomers, you have only to suggest that "Iraq is like Vietnam," and the leftist mind proceeds to do its dirty work under cover of unconscious darkness. Because of symmetrical logic, the mind can draw all sorts of fallacious conclusions, such as "the Vietnam war was bad; war is bad; therefore the Iraq war is bad."

The purpose of metaphor "is to both cast up and organize a network of associations." While the conscious mind associates in a linear manner, the unconscious mind associates in what you might call a densely holographic manner. Instead of picturing a chain of linear deductions, imagine a central concept, a sort of spherical object that extends out in all directions at once.

Again, archetypal religious metaphors operate in this manner, and are intended to provoke rich associations that link the conscious mind with the upper vertical unconscious mind -- or ego with ground, if you prefer. To the extent that they fail to do this, or are taken too literally (except where they are intended to be), then they cannot do the "work," or verticalestnenics, they were deisigned to. For example, Holy Communion is not just a way to gnaw God.

When religious language becomes "saturated," it essentially means that the conscious mind has vanquished the richness of the unconscious mind by reducing its intrinsic polysemy to a single dead metaphor. Paradoxically -- but not really -- if you reduce the One to one, you end up with none. You kill God. This is the way of the inferior man, who imagines that "only what is contingent is real," and "seeks by his method to lower principles to the level of contingencies when he does not deny them purely and simply" (Schuon).

For example, let's turn to the first page of Genesis: The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. To say that this is metaphor is not to say that it is "false." For one thing, no mere linear description could ever be sufficient to describe or exhaust the infinite fecundity of the Divine Mind, which is also like a sort of spherical object that extends out in all directions at once.

You might say that scripture is scripture because of this very property of provoking rich associations in the manner O-->(n). If it is reduced to mere (k), then it becomes no different than science, with which it cannot compete in that sense. In other words, if you take Genesis as a discussion of the same reality in the same manner as the equations of quantum cosmology, you are very confused. The former is dealing with "vertical genesis," the latter with "horizontal genesis." It's the difference between cosmogenesis and pneumagenesis, bearing in mind, of course, that the eternal activity of pneumagenesis is ontologically prior to that of cosmogenesis. The former takes place outside of time, while the latter takes place within time.

This is what I was attempting to convey in the unspeakable overchore of the Coonifesto, where words "strain, crack and sometimes break" under the eliotic burden of describing O:

"The creation to which it refers did not happen just 'once upon a time' some 13.7 billion years ago, but occurs continuously, in the timeless ground anterior to each moment."

Er, how's that?

"Put it this way: neither the cosmos nor this book have a proper 'beginning,' but both have a center, a center that starts where science ends and must therefore be described in mythological terms. The purpose of myth is to help us re-collect what we have forgotten about our timeless source, our eternal nature, and our ultimate destiny. The metamyth that follows is no different, as it attempts to lift the veil and peer back 'before' creation -- it is a Word from our eternal Sponsor, and should not be evaluated from the standpoint of time."

The true theologian, such as Eckhart or Schuon, writes "from O," so to speak, something that Schuon touches on in the preface to his Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism. Religion, on the one hand, "veils" O -- which no one can see in its unveiled form -- but on the other hand, allows it to shine forth. Thus, seeing the veil is seeing the essence; or seeing the form is seeing the substance. To put it in the form of a laughty paradoxable, religion reveils the hidden God.

Regarding his own lifelong effort to translate O into (n), Schuon writes that "we believe we have given a homogeneous and sufficient exposition of this primordial and universal Sophia, in spite of our discontinuous and sporadic manner of referring to it. But the Sophia perennis is quite evidently inexhaustible and has no natural limits." And it is inexhaustible because of the conscious-unconscious dynamic discussed at the outset of this post, which is to say that

"Metaphysical Truth is both expressible and inexpressible: inexpressible, it is not however unknowable, for the Intellect opens onto the Divine Order and therefore encompasses all that is; and expressible, it becomes crystallized in formulations which are all they ought to be since they communicate all that is necessary or useful to our mind. Forms are doors to the essences, in thought and in language as well as in all other symbolisms" (Schuon).

So, just as the particle cannot contain the wave, nor the circle the sphere, (k) can never circumnavelgaze O. But O is always within (k) like the cream within the milk, or our existence would be caffiendishly blacker than black coffee at mudnight:

The Absolute, in Its overflowing fullness, projects contingency and mirrors Itself therein, in a play of reciprocity from which It will emerge as victor, as That which alone is. --Schuon


julie said...

"Religion, on the one hand, "veils" O -- which no one can see in its unveiled form -- but on the other hand, allows it to shine forth. Thus, seeing the veil is seeing the essence; or seeing the form is seeing the substance. To put it in the form of a laughty paradoxable, religion reveils the hidden God."

Put another way, could it be said that religion functions a bit like the filters used to look at the sun?

Gagdad Bob said...

Or perhaps a prism, which turns white light into the spectrum of colors. Therefore, returning to the ground is a sort of prism escape....

walt said...

"...if you reduce the One to one, you end up with none. You kill God. This is the way of the inferior man, who imagines that "only what is contingent is real..."

If I understand their doctrine, the Buddhists insist on a contingent universe -- yet they take that to imply something greater i.e. Buddhanature, or Dharmakaya. To me, it seems to work in the opposite direction, converting the One to 'one', and becomes the result, if not the intended way, of the inferior man. This seems to me to be a Buddhaflaw, similar to when you pointed out that by denying man's potential you "kill man."

walt said...

Bob wrote,
"Political advertising, which is to say, MSM reporting, relies heavily upon injecting various metaphors into our discourse, and then letting the unconscious mind take care of the rest."

The photo of Ms Hillary was used to illustrate a front page news (not "opinion") article in today's Boston Globe (Drudge has the article, but they ask for registration), about how people are "warming" to Hillary as a person. Below are some of the phrases the reporter used in writing the article. I wonder how the unconscious mind of the average reader responds to such "information"?

"...they're starting to like her."
"She is a nice person!"
"...they are amazed to find themselves falling for..."
"I actually like her more than I thought I would..."
"I think she's proven to be her own woman."
"...there's been a good bit of movement."
"...validates a summertime charm offensive that reintroduced Clinton..."
"...voters are getting to know her better..."
"She's taken advantage of the intimacy..."
"...began focusing on visits to diners and house parties..."
"Hillary is really good in a living room."
"She seems more human..."
"Her laugh has gotten a lot better..."
"Boy, has she grown on the job."
"Hillary has succeeded in helping to show her soft side..."
"I think her image is softened."
"I don't think I feel I have to like her personally..."
"I don't see why warmth is an issue."

Cousin dupree said...

In other words, the old crow's cackle isn't so cackly once you get used to it.

Robin Starfish said...

white bars in light rain
sentenced to life in prism
legends of the fall

julie said...

I gotta say, Cuz, there's no getting used to the sight of that witch cackling on the main page.

Thanks by the way, Walt, for reading that dreck so we don't have to - I'd hate to think that somewhere in the recesses of my skull a portion of me is thinking "She's not so bad, I think I'm starting to like her..."


River Cocytus said...

Phew. Yeah. It's sad, but I have a roommate who is de-facto Republican, but more or less does not recognize what the MSM does. It's pure naivete. He has never really left his hometown, had few struggles in life, and so on. I'll attempt to explain to him various things - such as the bias - and it goes in one ear and out the other. To him, it just seems like I'm attacking - and disregards the content of what I'm saying (reflexively rebuts it.)

It's not amusing how they run puff pieces on Hillary - not too puffy, mind you, but enough to serve the purpose - while ignoring the whole Hsu scandal.

This kind of reinforcement that continually comes - which is a kind of continually loyalty branding - causes folks like my roommate to defend both the MSM and it's positions reflexively. (Whether they agree with them or not!)

He might never vote for Hillary!, but he will defend the MSM in writing puff pieces for her. (While at the same time attacking Thompson and Guiliani at every turn!)

They really are progressives - not in the real definition of 'one who is for progress' but in the sense of 'Classical Progressive' - I.e uptopian meddlers who want to Tabula Rasa everyone in their own(ed) image. Dewey, Sinclair, and so on.

What a hubbub.

walt said...

Don't worry, Julie! Socialism is one disease I am immune to! It does make me pretty que-a-s-y, though...

ximeze said...

OT aside to coonfans of Victor Davis Hanson: he returned yesterday from Iraq & is doing a three-parter of his impressions, posted on his PajamasMedia blog. (Part I is below #II)


Anonymous said...

On a slightly different topic...Has anyone read Dinesh D'Souza's What's So Great About Christianity?

just wondering if it's worth the purchase. Looks like he's going after Dickie Dawkins and the boys...

walt said...

Speaking of a historical prism escape, I was pawing through a book this afternoon and my eyes fell on this, which seemed informative:

"When a beam of white light is broken into its component parts, as through a prism, each color is seen separately in sequence arranged by wave-length -- usually, for instance, from ultra-violet (the shorter waves) which is barely visible at one end, through the colors of visible light, to infra-red (the longer waves), which is barely visible at the other end. A spectroscope is an electronically enhanced optical instrument used for examining a spectrum or part thereof. Spectroscopy is the scientific discipline of spectroscopic study, including the evaluation and measurement of materials when viewed in spectroscopically controlled light."

The author was describing the wide variety of scientific tests performed in the '70's on the Shroud of Turin. The book was Portrait of Jesus? by Frank Tribbe, mentioned by Bob awhile back.

Jacob C. said...

But perhaps the most mysterious thing he ever said about it was this. I was questioning him on the subject and had incautiously said, "Of course, I realize it's all rather too vague for you to put into words," when he took me up rather sharply by saying, "On the contrary, it is words that are vague. The reason why the thing can't be expressed is that it's too definite for language." --C.S. Lewis, Perelandra

The Word-Drum said...

Thanks for the mind-dance.

river cocytus- It's the same with my parents as your roommate. They don't understand what I'm talking about (Media-Bias?). It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. And if your school is like most: The Liberals get you when you're young, and that makes it even harder to liberate yourself.

P.S. Mr. bob, we have very similar taste in jazz. Maybe that's why I am facinated with the flow of your pen.
and...Stop The Witch.

River Cocytus said...

This is pretty cool.

Father Seraphim Rose.

yada yada said...


That's where the pay dirt is. The rest is just yada yada.

julie said...

Truth, Beauty, Goodness - these are the "paydirt."


are the result of the fall, and a part of the human experience. Sometimes necessary and useful, sometimes not, they are not the totality nor the meaning of existence.

If they are all that there is of you or all that matter to you, yada, then yours is a wretched existence indeed.

Anonymous said...

"The liberals..."

Aye, absurd generalizations.

Damn those liberals for infiltrating every level of our children's education. Aren't there any conservatives educated enough to teach? NO they're all being taught by liberals to be liberal. The only way I can survive is to not get educated.

I always wondered why in poli. sci. they "informed" me that most political beliefs come from our parents, it was to get me to trust they couldn't brainwash me and then use my trust to turn me liberal.