Saturday, March 10, 2007

Vertical Memes and Horizontal Genes: Upright Men and Lowdown Dirty Dogs (12.08.10)

"Heredity" means simply the transmission of similarity from ancestors to their descendents. In this sense, the invisibly divinely created archetypes are the "ancestors" of the visible species of animals. And the invisible archetype of man, the divine being itself, is the "ancestor" of the human being. The sickness which arose as a tragic consequence of the Fall was a change in the direction in the mirroring process of heredity; it changed from being vertical to become horizontal. --Valentin Tomberg

According to Tomberg, the second miracle recorded in the Gospel of John addresses this issue of vertical vs. horizontal heredity. As a psychologist, one's stock-in-trade is people who have dropped vertically into the stream of time (indeed, as we all must) but whose vertical heredity is overwhelmed by horizontal factors emanating mostly from parents: the sins of the fathers and mothers are visited upon the sons and daughters, in an intergenerational transmission of pathology.

Psychoanalysis calls the medium of transmission "internalized objects," while I call them "mind parasites," because it is a more accurate description. Plus, I thought I might need a slightly more colorful term just in case I were going to steal a bunch of stuff from psychoanalysis and start my own bogus religion, like L. Ron Hubbard. Instead, Petey and I just formed a local chapter of Transdimensional Raccoons, but kept the name.

As the first miracle -- the Wedding at Cana -- resonates with the seventh day of creation, the second miracle -- the healing of the nobleman's son -- resonates with the sixth. The nobleman implores Jesus to heal his son, who is said to be "near death." In the recently discovered "gnostic gospel" of Shemp, Jesus says, "Dang, you folks are starting to get on my nerves." John 4:48 adds, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe." But at the seventh hour, Jesus says to the man, "Go your way; your son lives." Later the nobleman is told by his servants that his son became well at exactly the seventh hour, when Jesus spoke those words.

God created human beings "on the sixth day," based upon the divine archetype, when He (or perhaps the trinitarian They) said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." The second miracle speaks to the restoration of the divine-human hereditary archetype that was forged on the Friday of creation, prior to the Fall, which doesn't happen until the following Sunday evening at the earliest. The distortion introduced by the Fall is restored "by the father bringing his son into a direct relationship to the divine archetype -- through his [the father's] faith in Jesus Christ, the new Adam."

In other words, we mistakenly, if understandably, focus on the healing of the son, when the real action takes place in the father, who quite clearly "believed the word that Jesus had spoke to him" prior to the healing. So the real transformation -- and restoration -- occurs first in the father, but has a "vertical" trickle down effect on the son. After all, Jesus made a pretty brusque statement, "Go your way -- your son lives," but the father didn't doubt it. If he had, the entire meaning of the parable would be different.

This brings out a very important -- and perhaps dangerously politically incorrect -- psychological point, that there is something central to fathers and to fatherhood in arresting the intergenerational transmission of mind parasites. Frankly, this is common sense, but it is certainly confirmed if we examine the anthropological and sociological evidence.

Put it this way: in the absence of a strong, vertically oriented father figure, a boy is very likely to remain a more or less horizontal animal. He will be male -- a biological entity under the influence of his horizontal genetic and cultural programming -- but not a man -- which is the first vertical category introduced into human culture. Indeed, it is the foundation of human culture.

This is not difficult to understand. As I explained in the Coonifesto, the mother-infant dyad is a biologically natural phenomenon. Not until men entered that closed system could humans escape biology by becoming the psychologically trimorphic family: mother-father-baby. Thus, "father" is the pillar, so to speak, of society, a non-biological category that then alters the other two: mother simultaneously becomes wife, and baby simultaneously has a way to escape engulfment in the Great Mother archetype, but not without difficulty.

However, it is almost impossible to bridge this gap and escape the orbit of the primordial mother without a vertical father to model the way. Almost all of the really serious problems in society can be traced to the absence of fathers and of men, either literally or figuratively. Our prisons are overcrowded with horizontal males who never became men, although perhaps not to the extent of our professional sports leagues. (I am reminded of the mother-bound Deion Sanders, who was asked by a reporter if his divorce would affect his play. "Nah," said Deion. "It's not like it's family or anything.")

Perhaps someone will relink to that study from about a week ago, documenting how the father's church attendance varies directly with the child's, much more so than the mother's, which has almost no effect. (Here it is -- TW: Smoov.) In light of today's discussion, this makes perfect sense. As in the parable of the nobleman's son, somehow the vertical restoration of the father has a direct effect on the child.

This is also relevant to why God is spoken of as "Father," or why the Pope must be a man. To mess around with these divine archetypes is not just to render them ineffective, but it is to undermine the divine-human economy and attack man as such. To suggest that this is somehow "chauvinistic" is the height of hysterical naivete. Woman and girls benefit from proper men just as much as boys do.

The nobleman in his horizontal aspect may recede into the background once he has brought his son into a vertical hereditary relationship with the new Adam, thus restoring fatherhood and sonhood in the same way that the first miracle restores marriage.

To be honest, the greatest anxiety in my life is that I will not be around long enough to accomplish this for my son. (If only we could purchase a vertical life insurance policy and know that our children would be spiritually "taken care of" in our absence.) I would like to provide Future Leader with plenty of opportunities to experience me as a mere vertical deputy of the real father, so that he can make the naturally supernatural transition from horizontal heredity to vertical heredity. Truly, that is when your mission as a father has been accomplished -- when you may "go your way," knowing that "your son lives."

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Miracles of Life, Love, and Wisdom (12.06.10)

Humans may be assessed in terms of action, wisdom, and sentiment; or what they can do, what they can know, and what or whom they love (i.e., moral freedom). "Miracles" -- which is to say "signs and wonders" -- can occur on any one of these planes, although Christianity traditionally places emphasis on the last. As Paul said, there who those value wisdom and those who demand miraculous actions, "but we preach Christ crucified," which is to say the mystery of God's ultimate love for mankind.

Nevertheless, as I have written before, whatever principial truth a religion excludes or minimizes tends to return in a disguised form. Therefore, we should not be surprised that at different points, Christianity is as much a religion of divine wisdom and power as it is of love. But each must always be tempered by the others -- wisdom without love or action is merely intellectualism or solipsism, just as action without love or wisdom is either dissipation or the will to power.

As Valentin Tomberg writes, love is the highest freedom, for "it is the sole element in human existence that cannot and may not be demanded. One can demand effort, veracity, honesty, obedience, the fulfillment of duties, but love may never be demanded. Love is and remains for all time a sanctuary of freedom, inaccessible to all compulsion. For this reason, the highest commandment -- 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind... and love your neighbor as yourself' -- is not a command, but a divine-human plea. For love cannot be commanded; it can only be prayed for."

This is also the American secret, for it is the one nation that is founded upon the primacy of spiritual liberty, which is to say, the possibility of genuine vertical and horizontal (i.e., neighborly) love. Just as man was not created for the sabbath but the sabbath for man, American citizens are not here to serve the state, but the state is here to nurture spiritual liberty that we may grow in love, wisdom, and compassionate action -- or goodness, truth, and beauty.

Tomberg points out that the Gospels may be thought of as "holographic" (my word), in the sense that the events described therein are simultaneously signs, signs are teachings, teachings are events, events are parables, etc. Everything in the Gospels is at once "fact, miracle, symbol, and revelation of the truth."

There are only seven miracles described in the Gospel of John, beginning with the transformation of water into wine at the wedding in Cana, and ending with the raising of Lazarus. The conclusion of John points out that if every miracle attributable to Christ were to be recorded, "the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.'" Therefore, Tomberg suggests that the seven miracles of John are intended to be "archetypal," or to summarize certain categories of the miraculous -- of how humans, unlike any other beings in existence, may surpass themselves in love, wisdom, and action.

Might there also be an implicit parallel between these seven miracles and the seven primordial acts of God described in Genesis 1-2? I don't mean to rely on Tomberg so much, but I know of no one else who treats these matters so deeply and thoughtfully. Plus I have a cold, so I think I'll just try not to strain my brain and ride piggyback on his analysis, throwing in my own ideas here and there. At any rate, Tomberg feels that there is an inverse relationship between the seven phases of creation in Genesis and the seven miracles of John. Thus, for example, the wedding at Cana somehow mirrors the seventh day of creation.

Tomberg writes that the sabbath is the day on which "created being attains the highest level of inwardness: freedom. The seventh day of creation is the 'day' of the meaning of the world." And since it is only in love that freedom is perfect, ultimately divine-human love "is the foundation, the meaning, and the purpose of the world." Real love is both the alpha and omega of existence.

If the sabbath is also the consecration of the free "union" between God and man, then a sort of "divorce" occurred as a result of the fall. Man was unfaithful to his vows, so to speak. Tomberg writes that the wedding at Cana symbolically speaks to the restoration of this union, for it seems that marriage often "begins with enthusiasm, with the 'wine' of the honeymoon period, and ends with the 'water' of routine habit."

The renewal of love is indeed a miracle, even though we rarely think about it in those terms. To put it another way, only love can renew the world, one's being, and one's wedding vows. At the wedding, Jesus not only transforms water into wine, but the second wine is even better than the first. In other words, not only does love not degenerate, but it is miraculously renewed and increased; as such, this miracle is the "sign" of the healing of marriage -- i.e., "healing in the service of restoring the marriage relationship to correspond to the divine cosmic archetype, which is the seventh day of creation."

Is it important that John 2:1 says that the wedding took place "on the third day?" Why is that seemingly random fact inserted at the outset? And when they run out of wine, it is specifically Jesus' mother who brings this message to her son. Interestingly, Jesus says something very strange, in that he immediately interprets Mary's news about the wine in symbolic terms, asking her, "what does your concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come."

Thus -- I am hardly a Biblical scholar, so I don't know if I'm pointing out the obvious here -- the wedding on the third day clearly has resonance with the entire mission of Jesus, in which he will restore the marriage between God and man.

And again, strikingly, there are exactly six waterpots, apparently referencing the other six days of creation and the other six miracles.

Skipping ahead a bit, wine once again comes into play when Jesus' "hour has come." In John 19:28, only after he knows that "all things were accomplished," he says "I thirst." He is given some sour -- which is to say, bad -- wine, which is placed to his mouth. After receiving it, he bows his head and says, "it is finished."

What is finished? One of the soldiers pierces his side, and "blood and water come out." At Cana, water is transformed into good wine. Here, as it were, bad and sour wine -- which is to say, the hateful karma of the world -- is transformed into water and blood. In the Bible -- and in antiquity in general -- "blood" always had spiritual connotations, and was regarded as the vehicle of life, while water carries two distinct meanings.

Back to Genesis 1. On the second day of creation, God separates the upper waters -- the waters above the firmament, or heaven -- from the lower waters. In fact, heaven is placed between the upper and lower waters, as a sort of dividing line. As such -- again, curiously -- heaven is not at the "top" of creation, but is a sort of membrane between upper and lower, or superior and inferior, waters.

But clearly, Jesus seems to be able to mediate between the upper and lower waters -- to bring about their harmonious union, in which the lower is transformed into the higher, and the higher descends into and infuses the lower.

Exacly what is the sacrament of marriage? I don't really know. Let me look it up.

Got it: marriage "is an inseparable bond between a man and a woman, created by human contract and ratified by divine grace. The nature of the covenant requires that the two participants be one man and one woman" and "that they be free to marry." In the Catholic Church, "it is consent that creates marriage. Consent consists in a human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other. Consent must be a free act of the will of the consenting parties, free of coercion or grave external error. If freedom is lacking, the consent is invalid." Interestingly, "it is the spouses who are understood to confer marriage on each other. The spouses, as ministers of grace, naturally confer upon each other the sacrament of matrimony."

Now, back to the union of God and man. Let's think about some of the constiuent components of marriage: freedom to consent to an inseparable bond, absent any coercion; mutual surrender; male (God) and female (the soul); the parties freely choose to confer marriage upon each other, not one upon the other; and the parties become vehicles of grace for one another, through which the regenerative upper waters flow into the world, transforming water into good wine and sour wine into the upper waters of eternal life and love.

Well, that's about the best I can muster today. Bit of an incoherent mess, no? Frankly, it's surprising it doesn't happen more often. But perhaps I've left enough fragments for others to meditate upon and miraculously pull together. To turn water into wine, so to speak.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Vertical Magic and the Magic of Verticality (12.06.10)

The miracles of Jesus Christ reveal the secret of the influence exercised by individuals for the universal, and by the universal for the indiviudual. --Valentin Tomberg

According to Tomberg, the seven miracles recorded in the Gospel of John "represent the healing of the seven principal infirmities of human nature in both individuals and groups." As such, they are "not just miracles," but "signs of the future spiritual and bodily healing processes within the human organism, which is sick as a consequence of the fall of humanity."

Joan made a very truthy point when she commented that she had never gone in for "the whole 'seeking after miracles' obsession." However, like all Coons, she has "seen and experienced them," and while she doesn't "dwell on this topic as central to my faith," she observes that "you only get good results when you center on the Good. Center on the wanted results and you get bupkis."

Sista' Dilys expanded upon this, writing that the realm of the miraculous cannot function "without corruption outside of the protection of a Vertically-revealed tradition, and indeed can't be plucked cleanly out of the tradition to carry away for idiosyncratic power. As Joan says, miracles are often only semi-conscious side effects of a fervent consistent illuminated devotion to the Good, the willing citizenship in what Jesus calls the kingdom of God."

Three statements come immediately to mind: 1) The kingdom of God is within [or among] you, 2) Seek ye first the kingdom, and 3) from the Gospel of Thomas, The Father's kingdom is spread all over the world, but people cannot see it. I will try to touch on these three points below, if not today, then later, as we continue this discussion.

Another way of saying this is that there is an "upper vertical" magic, so to speak, and a lower vertical magic. This is indeed a key point, for now that I think about it, my life only became a more or less non-stop magic show when I ceased living for myself and undertook the task of aligning myself with a greater reality. This is not to in any way claim that my life is extraordinary. Rather, as several people pointed put yesterday, signs and wonders are happening all the time -- i.e., the Father's kingdom is spread all over the world -- but the interventions are so subtle that we may underlook them, so to speak. We may also fail to notice them because we only live in one reality, and cannot see the other reality that "might have been" in the absence of the vertical influence.

Of course, it's almost too corny to point out, but this is the great spiritual lesson of It's a Wonderful Life, and why the film is so beloved. Here is an example of a man who spends his life selflessly aligning himself with the universal on behalf of the individual, at great personal cost. However, in his case, he is shown what might have been had he spent his life pursuing the narrow agenda of his self-interested ego.

Another way of saying it is that George is granted the boon of a clear vision of all the miracles and magic that had occurred in his life as a result of unselfishly aligning himself with the Good. And realizing this is the greatest miracle of all, for with this realization, the magic that had always been operating in his life bursts upon him like a sudden downpour of grace. What a tragic waste of life to miss the magic that is happening all the time, for this magic is precisely what nourishes the soul and feeds the "second birth."

The same lesson is present in Dickens' Christmas Carol, in which Scrooge is first given a vision of the forces that went into exiling him from the greater reality and enclosing him in the narrow world of his bitter and envious ego. Envy and entitlement are literally forms of "reverse magic," in that they will spoil whatever they acquire. Envy may or may not help you get what you think you want, but it will also prevent you from enjoying it once you have it.

This lower vertical magic forms the basis of the leftist agenda, which is why they only become more bitter upon getting what they want. The bitterness of the left has not remitted one iota since prevailing in last November's election, because envy is an addictive way of life for them. Try listening to Randi Rhodes for five seconds. In the words of the immortal Big Joe Turner, "I believe to my soul you a devil in nylon hose." Or possibIy the great Junior Brown: "she's just venom wearin' denim, she's a copperheaded queen." I once heard Alan Watts refer to seagulls as "winged hunger." Dailykos must be "digital envy."

This is why the civil rights movement only became a perpetually angry and bitter crusade once it achieved its main goals and should have closed up shop. Indeed, this is how a moral giant such as Martin Luther King transmogrifies before our eyes into grotesque lower vertical beings such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Likewise, it explains how the feminist movement began cranking out creepy hybrid femen such as Hillary Clinton or Gloria Allred or Maureen Dowd after it was no longer necessary. (In fact, if the downward trend continues, there's no telling how low feminism will sink). And it explains the moral monsters of CAIR, a group that is completely unnecessary except to advance a truly diabolical lower vertical agenda. But all of these diverse beings have "common cause" in aligning themselves with the false universal of "coerced" or "Faustian magic."

According to Frithof Schuon, a miracle represents "an interference of the marvellous in the sensory realm." In itself, there is "nothing mysterious or problematical about it." In fact, if you consider the structure of reality, miracles cannot not occur, since the vertical cannot not be, and the vertical takes ontological precedence over the horizontal (i.e., the vertical could never have come from the horizontal). In hermetic terms, the subtle rules the dense, and the the deeper the effect, the higher the cause. The highest cause being God, aligning ourselves with this cause should, so to speak, lift us out of the closed circle of horizontality and manifest in our own lives in terms of the "subtle ruling the dense."

Now, this is not to say that the dense -- the horizontal -- can be eliminated. We are not angels, which is to say purely vertical beings. But it does mean that we can do our part to reverse the fall and restore the priority of the vertical over the horizontal. Obviously, if everyone did this -- individuals working on behalf of the universal -- we would have "heaven on earth." On the other hand, "hell on earth" is the leftist agenda of the individual being forced to work on behalf of the (false) universal. What is today, only March 8th? Most of us are still slaving away for the collective, as tax freedom day does not occur until some point in late April, when we have worked off our debt to the collective. But at least we are not Sweden, where the shackles aren't released until August.

Now, as Schuon points out, a miracle is only "supernatural" on the earthly scale, but "natural" on the cosmic scale. Furthermore, "the purpose of the miraculous phenomenon is the same as that of the Revelation which it accompanies or as a result of which, or in the shadow of which, it is produced: to elicit or to confirm faith." There are two central miracles, one "supernaturally natural," the other "naturally supernatural." Existence itself is a supernaturally natural lesson, what with its gratuitous truth and beauty coursing through its every artery as a result of being infused with the supernatural logos.

This is why the first miracle recorded in Genesis is the archetype of all others, for as our Unknown Friend says, creation ex nihilo, or out of nothing, "is the highest possible expression of magic, namely divine and cosmic magic." This is why the primordial act of creation was not so much a bang as a blossoming seed. As he says, this is "not too difficult to imagine, because each little acorn is such a 'constructive bomb' and the oak is only the visible result of the slow 'explosion' -- or blossoming out -- of this 'bomb.'" What is a butterfly but an exploded caterpillar -- or in our case, a buddhafly catarpultered out of a christalis c-coon?

Schuon points out that "the miraculous is that which is due to a direct, thus vertical intervention of a heavenly Power, and not to a horizontal progression of causality. If one extends the notion of 'nature' to all that exists, miracles too are 'natural,' but in that case words would become meaningless, as it would then be impossible to make the essential distinction between blind or unconscious causes and the supra-conscious Cause, the source of all consciousness and of all power. Scientists confuse the miraculous with the irrational and the arbitrary" (emphasis mine).

A couple of days ago we spoke of the "husk" and "kernel." The husk is there to protect the kernel, but it is possible that we can come to identify with the husk, thus defeating its purpose -- and the purpose of our lives -- by arresting the "blossoming explosion" of our true self. This blossoming -- once you begin to experience it -- is the "personal magic" that mirrors the magic of creation itsoph -- of God's unfolding, creative self-revelation. The kernel, since it is internally related to the whole, seems miraculously able to draw the people and materials it requires in order to fulfill its mission. Or as a rabbinical expression puts it, "God spends most of his time arranging meetings and marriages."

But again, this blossoming cannot be "self-willed" any more than you can will a carrot to grow, for "God gives the increase." All organic growth -- which is to say internally related change directed toward a telos -- is magic. It is the everyday magic of watching an infant change from day to day, or even of writing this blog, if I may say so. For me -- especially for me -- I am always aware that this activity is miraculous when viewed in light of the alternative Bobs I might have become and narrowly averted. "There but for the grace of God," and all that. It's a wonderful life, but only if we stop to consider the alternatives.

More on miracles tomorrow, barring the absence of a miraculous vertical intervention.

There are strange things happening every day
I hear music up above my head
Fill me up with your wonder
Give me my rapture today.

Let me contemplate the presence so divine
Let me sing all day and never get tired
Fill me up from your loving cup
Give me my rapture today.

Won't you guide me through the dark night of the soul
That I may better understand your way
Let me be just and worthy to receive
All the blessings of the Lord into my life.

Let me purify my thoughts and words and deeds
That I may be a vehicle for thee
Let me hold to the truth in the darkest hour
Let me sing to the glory of the Lord.
Give me my rapture today. --Van Morrison, Give Me My Rapture

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Secrets of Unlimited Power!

Even -- or perhaps especially -- as a young kit subjected to the tedium of Sunday School, I was uneasy with all this miracle business. You can't just say, "my God is better than your God because of his superior magic." This seems the way of the barbarians. After all, Mohammed supposedly ascended to heaven on a winged steed. Can you top that? "Yes, I'll see you and raise you one virgin birth."

There is an old joke -- it might actually have been left by a commenter here -- about a fellow who says he wants to become a pagan. His friend asks him something to the effect of, "if you want to become a real pagan, why don't you just join the Catholic church?"

Now, the "spirit" of this joke is not insulting, but merely an ironic way of pointing out that Catholicism is a "full service" religion that addresses every level of man's being. Let's not kid ourselves. If we consider the full trajectory of the arc of salvation, of course Christianity appealed to pagans in a way that, for example, Judaism never could. How are you going to get the pagans "on board" the arc of salvation if you don't specifically appeal to their pagan sensibilities? It doesn't mean you remain a pagan. Indeed, that's the whole point -- a sort of bait and switch operation in which the paganism of the pagan is transformed and sublimated within Christianity.

Regarding the miracles, I suppose I didn't exactly understand how a violation of everything we know to be reliably true of the world is supposed to constitute the more reliable truth. Plus, it felt rather manipulative, as if metaphysical truth were too weak to stand on its own, so they had to throw in a few miracles to rig the outcome and impress the dim. What if, during the State of the Union, President Bush put on Sigfried & Roy style magic show, and made a few Democrat congressmen in the front row disappear? Would this add to or detract from the appeal of his speech? Okay, bad example.... But in the long run, would it in any way enhance the power of his message on grounds of truth alone?

Here again, isn't this what the pagans do -- for example, the nazis during their rallies, in which they would use special effects to drive home the message of the Führer? If we think of nazism as an underworld shadow of Christianity, it clearly turned the messiah principle on its head by imbuing Hitler with a numinous, hypnotic power. But this cannot be the true power. It reminds me of the miracles ascribed to Lil' Kim Jung -- probably not even leftist university professors are all that that impressed by his Marxist mojo:

"The Korean people are performing amazing miracles and exploits in socialist construction despite all sorts of tempests of history and all this has its source in the trust placed by the respected leader Kim Jong Il in them.... Kim Jong Il is the supreme incarnation of trust and love. Ever since he began steering the revolution he has pursued the policy of trust under the uplifted slogan 'Let's build a new society by virtue of trust and love.' The Korean people have thus grown to be a heroic people who can do anything. Kim Jong Il's trust serves as an ideological and moral source of strength whereby the Korean people can achieve signal successes despite any trial and fully display all their wisdom and energies in working history-making miracles. The leader absolutely trusts the people and they work astonishing miracles, inspired by this trust."

Obviously I am not alone in my ambivalence about miracles, for during the course of his initiatory ordeal in the bewilderness, Jesus himself rejects the temptation to magical worldly powers. Valentin Tomberg asks, "Why do the Gospels narrate the miracles?":

"If the purpose is to show evidence of the divinity of the one who performed them, it contradicts the spirit of Christianity; such an assertion would use the very means that the tempter offered Jesus Christ in the wilderness and that he rejected -- that is, using a miracle to convince the world of the power of truth. Moreover, the miracle argument is incompatible with the fact that Jesus himself cautioned against speaking of his miraculous acts (Luke 8:56)."

Furthermore, even during the course of the biggest miracle of them all, Jesus says to the "doubting Thomas" that "because you have seen me, you have believed." But "blessed are those who have not seen and have yet believed." In other words, there is something superior about seeing with the eyes of faith as opposed to the mere eyes of the flesh. Obviously, if I may say so.

What distinguishes good religion from bad religion is this issue of "power." All bad religions (that shall go unnamed, but you figure it out), and all bad religiosity -- including, for example, virtually all of the "new age" movement -- worship power, not God. The following book titles by the Mother of All Charlatans, Tony Robbins, say it all: "Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement." "Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!" There is nothing whatsoever in these books that Lil' Kim would object to in the least. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they are on his night stand, perhaps next to Jimmy Carter's latest anti-Semitic rant.

Let's just take one of the book descriptions and insert "Dear Leader" and "Korean" for "Tony" and "you," and it sounds just like a North Korean press release: "Dear leader has already unlocked the personal power inside millions of happy Koreans. He has proven to millions with his books, tapes, and speeches that by harnassing the power of the mind, the Korean people can do, have, achieve, and create anything they want for their lives. He has shown heads of state, royalty, Olympic and professional athletes, movie stars and children [I don't get the distinction--ed.] how to achieve. With Unlimited Power, Dear Leader passionately and eloquently reveals to the Korean people the science of personal achievement..."

Think for a moment how much more real magic there is in a mere sentence by Hayek or Friedman than in the eight-volume "Complete Quackery of Tony Robbins." For one thing, Robbins could only have become a wealthy fraud in a country guided by the real secrets of wealth -- secrets that are still unknown to the secular left, which I suppose is the core audience for this pseudo-religious nihilism. No proper religious person could fall for this kind of sting.

It's become such a cliche, but let's all repeat Coon emeritus Chesterton's famous formula together: When one abandons the truth, the problem is not that one will believe nothing, but rather that one will believe anything. Robbins has become a wealthy and "powerful" man by believing implicitly in this airtight adage and turning it to his advantage. If you see the world as he does, "pigeons" are everywhere, just waiting to be shaken down. Now that's power!

We see the same spiritual psychopathy in another new age titan, Deepak Chopra, whose book promises nothing less than "the secret of perfect love," the "secret of healing," the secret of "how to find a soul mate," the secret of having the most fulfilling career, and the secret of gaining a "personal breakthrough, a turning point, and a revelation." (Obviously Mr. Deepak can't keep a secret.) His "crystalline distillation of insights and wisdom" will transport you "to a sacred place where you can savor the nectar of enlightenment!," while he savors those sacred but playfully raucous money fights with his children inside the compound.

Again, when you step on such sacred cowpies, you are either impressed or are you nauseated. A Coon reaches for the Pepto and scrapes off his sensible footwear. Only an end-times, fully horizontalized infrahuman devoid of true religion could fall for this kind of extravagantly sinister piffle.

Now, back to the miracles. I see that I'm going to have to continue with this line of thought later, for I have merely laid the foundation while Dupree has enjoyed taking potshots at a couple of low-hanging anti-Coons. But let me say at the outset that I have no objection to biblical literalism per se. Rather, what I object to is only literalism, which once was a truism among Christians, but has somehow become an aberration due to the aberrant, er, falsism of fundamentalism. And this modern aberration can only ill-serve Christianity, as it promotes a narrow -- or shall we say "shallow" -- form of spiritual materialism that is simply not suited for Phase III man. Furthermore, it serves as an easy straw man for the contempt and mockery of secular tin men.

For, just as the "sacrifice" of Jesus is intended to be the last sacrifice, there is something about the biblical miracles that ironically intends them to be, if not the last miracles, then the last word on miracles -- a very different thing. In other words, if one comes away from the Gospels with the notion that it's a good idea to crucify innocent people because that's how you resurrect them, you have probably gotten the wrong message.

Just so, if you come away from the gospels with various ideas about how to turn water into wine, how to walk on water, or how to stretch a meal, it's possible that you are missing the point. But there is something critical about the nature and structure of the biblical miracles that we need to understand. Let Tony Robbins teach you how to walk on water -- or hot coals, anyway. We want to know how to walk on water, which is another matter entirely.

The vast majority of Mankind remains in ignorance; most humans spend their lives in spiritual darkness, at the crazy mercy of chance and accident. SubGeniuses, basking in the 5,000-watt Light of Dobbs, are also at the mercy of chance and accident -- yet given a boost by The Pipe Bringer, the seeker can "climb aboard" chance and accident and ride them like a cosmic surfboard on the oceans of the Luck Plane, "hanging ten" on the very same waves of randomness that cause humans such envious HATE.

For even if there's
actually no "reason" for anything, even if nothing can be known for sure in an unbelievable world where psychotics run the Department of the Interior and mutilate cattle, we can still retain one concrete ball of fact that the most shattered instincts cannot deny: Something is going on, and we deserve better. --"The Secrets of Slack," The Book of the SubGenius

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Theological Mind Jazz


I mentioned in the comments a couple of days a go that I stumbled upon this great little film on You Tube called The Universal Mind of Bill Evans. For those of you who are jazz fans, it's a must see, but even for you squares and moldy figs who aren't hip to the scene, it's a fascinating excursion into the mind of one of the great musical geniuses in history. For Evans was not just a musician, but a teacher and philosopher, and he obviously thought quite deeply about the creative process. Furthermore, unlike most philosophers, he was able to articulate his thoughts in a very straight forward and accessible manner.

In fact, this parallels his musical technique, which somehow combines a maximum of depth and accessibility. Unlike most jazz musicians, he enjoyed a level of commercial success because most anyone could appreciate his music. For one thing, he had a very unintimidating, "pretty" sound, so if one is not particularly musically sophisticated, Evans might just remind you of the pianist at the Norstrom in heaven. As Evans put it, "Especially, I want my work -- and the trios if possible -- to sing." That it does. He is the most lyrical of pianists.

But despite the outer accessibility, there is enough harmonic, melodic, contrapuntal and rhythmic complexity to keep a musicologist busy for a lifetime -- like a beautifully designed automobile that is even more beautifully engineered. At any given moment, there is so much "interior detail" going on -- musical problems, resolutions, flights of fancy, conversations with the other instrumentalists (usually in a trio format -- bass and drums), introspection, sadness, exuberance.

Another reader mentioned that his favorite pianist was Thelonious Monk. That's a fine choice, except that no one else can play like Thelonious Monk. His technique was so distinctive that if you try to imitate him, you'll just sound like a caricature. Interestingly, Evans' musical conception is so capacious that he was easily able to incorporate Monk without ever sounding like him. Monk just became another "color" in his musical palette. It reminds me of how Stevie Ray Vaughan was able to incorporate Hendrix into his technique. If you merely impersonate Hendrix, then it just sounds like bad Hendrix. It's not art, but mimicry.

I relate on a very personal level to much of what Evans says in the film. In my book I use a lot of musical analogies, because there is something about music that reflects the deep temporal structure of existence. I think this explains the near universal love of music. While music may not be "natural religion," in that it provides no moral code, no grace, no salvation, and no object of worship, it does in many ways represent "natural metaphysics" or "natural ontology."

In other words, music reveals things about the nature of reality, so that if one dwells deeply within music, one can gain universal insights into existence. Certainly this was the view of Wagner, who may not have been the greatest philosopher of music but was apparently the greatest philosopher with music. I'm not saying that I can appreciate his music, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn and I did read this fascinating book (which also inspired Future Leader's name).

Evans made so many provocative little observations in the film that I'm trying to remember them all. One of them was that honest jazz involves making one minute of music in one minute of time. I'd never thought of it this way, but that is exactly what makes it so alive. I just googled some unsourced quotes, and in one of them, Evans says that jazz is "performing without any really set basis for the lines and the content as such -- emotionally or, specifically, musically. And if you sit down and contemplate what you’re going to do, and take five hours to write five minutes of music, then it’s composed music. Therefore I would put it in the classical or serious, whatever you want to call it, written-music category. So there’s composed music and there’s jazz. And to me anybody that makes music using the process that we are using in Jazz, is playing Jazz."

In hearing these words, I instantly transposed them into the key of blogging, because that is exactly what I'm trying to do here: provide you Coons with 60 minutes or 90 minutes of intellection -- or "soul jazz," as it were -- in 60 or 90 minutes. My book, on the other hand, is a composition -- several years of intellection for several days of reading. (That's not completely accurate, since most of the book was written in little bursts of inspiration, but you get the point.)

People sometimes ask me, "Bob, when is the next failed book coming out?," but at this rate, I'm not sure there will ever be one, the reason being that "jamming" on the blog is so much more compelling than composing by myself in my lonely Coon den. I don't know if I'd want to -- or even could -- revert to composition again. Notice that Jesus -- there you go again, comparing yourself to Jesus -- did the same thing. Quite conspicuously, he did not sit down, spend a few years thinking about reality, and write a book. Interestingly, for a religion that is supposedly based on "the Book," Jesus is a poor example, for the Gospels provide no evidence that he ever touched one, with the possible exception of peeking at the Torah when the pharisees were out getting a sandwich at Cantor's deli.

Thus, when Jesus speaks -- for example, in the Sermon on the Mount -- he is giving you ten minutes of theology in ten minutes time. But in so doing -- in abiding in the spontaneity of the now -- he is also giving the listener eternity in ten minutes, which I think is the key point. Everything he knows -- and more importantly, is -- is compressed into the vehicle of that eternal moment.

This is exactly what an improviser such as Bill Evans is attempting to do in the moment, and it is exactly what I try to do with the blog. Now obviously, in order to do this, it only takes half a lifetime of discipline, preparation, and apprenticeship. Otherwise, your spontaneous musings will be as deep and interesting as Maureen Dowd or Andrew Sullivan or Markos Moulitsas or Bill Maher.

Evans says "I believe in things that are developed through hard work. I always like people who have developed long and hard, especially through introspection and a lot of dedication. I think what they arrive at is usually a much deeper and more beautiful thing than the person who seems to have that ability and fluidity from the beginning. I say this because it's a good message to give to young talents who feel as I used to." As Evans suggests in the film, too many budding musicians want to tackle major musical problems and develop a "style" -- which is the last phase -- before they have thoroughly understood and assimilated minor ones. True style can only come after that has been accomplished.

Once again, I immediately transposed this into my world. One of the downsides of democracy is that "everyone has an opinion." Even worse, everyone is a "philosopher," or a "theologian," or a "political scientist," or "environmentalist," or "psychologist." Frankly, most psychologists are not psychologists, let alone people who have never studied it in depth. Deepak Chopra is not a theologian any more than Daniel Dennett is a philosopher or Bill Maher is a political scientist, but because of the lowerarchical narcissism of the age, the question of their credentials does not even arise.

Evans makes a couple of key points along these lines. First, he talks about how the cathedral, so to speak, of his musical conception was built brick by brick, layer by layer. Only when he stably internalized one level of the hierarchy did he move on to the next. Interestingly, this exactly parallels Polanyi's conception of epistemology, as each discovery is internalized by the body and becomes a "platform" to probe more deeply into the unknown. In other words, in the process of discovery, the "known" eventually becomes an implicit background that we don't even think about any more, just as a blind person no longer feels a cane in his hand, but instantaneously transduces this into an "image" of the space around him.

In the film, Steve Allen -- who can't help himself from being a bit of a pretentious load -- makes a valid point when he compares it to the operation of a car. At first, you have to think about everything consciously -- steering, changing gears, applying the breaks, etc. -- but eventually this all becomes background. You might say that the car literally becomes an extension of the body. Whatever your mind wants to do with the car is instantly translated into the appropriate action without even consciously thinking about it.

It is the same way with philosophy, theology, and metaphysics. In a previous post I discussed my frustrating experience of attending a three-day "golf camp" paid for by my generous in-laws who were selfishly hoping that Mrs. G. and I would eventually be their golf partners. Although I am a natural athlete, my athleticism counted for bupkis. If anything, Dear Leader's renowned physical prowess just made him more impatient. At one point we were practicing chipping onto the green, and I was essentially flailing away, punishing the innocent turf below. The pro said, "here. Take the ball in your hand. Now just toss it underhand to where you want it to go. See? Easy. Now just do the same thing with the club."

In other words, the problem was that I was trying to hit the ball with the club instead of with my body and mind -- instead of using the club as a mere extension of the Gagdad soul. When I shoot hoops, I do this automatically. I don't think about anything except for the basket, and "swish!, Lakers win the championship in double overtime!" But in a mere three days, I couldn't internalize the golf club as an extension of my psychic substance.

I'm imagining what it would be like to have a piano as an extension of your body, so that musical thoughts at whatever level of sophistication could be instantaneously transmitted through your fingertps without even thinking about it. But in the case of Evans, it's more than just musical ideas. Rather, again, he is able to put everything he is into the music. The piano is such an extension of his soul, that it becomes an outer reflection of his interior world:

"Technique is the ability to translate your ideas into sound through your instrument. This is a comprehensive technique... a feeling for the keyboard that will allow you to transfer any emotional utterance into it. What has to happen is that you develop a comprehensive technique and then say, 'Forget that. I’m just going to be expressive through the piano....' To the person who uses music as a medium for the expression of ideas, feelings, images, or what have you; anything which facilitates this expression is properly his instrument."

Elsewhere Evans said, "First of all, I never strive for identity. That's something that just has happened automatically as a result, I think, of just putting things together, tearing things apart and putting it together my own way, and somehow I guess the individual comes through eventually." That's exactly how I feel with my own writing. Especially because of the discipline of blogging, it's gotten to the point that I'm pretty sure my identity comes through in everything I write. Of course, it's hard for me to say, since I am an "insider" to my own identity, and cannot experience it from the outside. However, it very much feels as if blogging has come to involve this spiraling reciprocal process of externalization and internalization of my soul.

In other words, if you want to "practice" -- which is to say, deepen yourself -- you will need a piano, or some other such instrument. As you externalize your musical interior, you gradually assimilate what you have exteriorized, and vice versa.

Evans makes a key point about the need for structure to "play against." Although jazz involves radical improvisation, it will be devoid of meaning -- not to say, dramatic tension -- if it is not in reference to a stable framework that is always being "referenced" in the background. Keith Jarrett, who was deeply influenced by Bill Evans, takes this to even greater extremes, starting with a standard and veering into 20 or 30 minute improvisational flights of fancy that never detach completely from the musical structure.

Evans makes the point that this kind of improvisation used to be common to "classical" music, but was lost by the 19th century, only to be resurrected by jazz musicians. Not only were people such as Bach or Mozart apparently wonderful improvisers, but by all accounts, Mozart was capable of making "45 minutes of symphony in 45 minutes!"

Once again, I couldn't help but wonder how this relates to theology, and to what we do here in Coonland. For, what if the inspired prophets and writers of the Gospels were more like Bill Evans than John Tesh or Dino? What if they could only have accomplished what they did by using their entire bodymind as a spontaneous vehicle for higher forces to express themselves through -- as opposed to "taking dication" like Mohammed? What if we're supposed to groove and jam on the Bible, not memorize and rewordgitate it in the manner of the Mohammedans?

One thing that I hope sets me apart from my New Age competitors is that I do not engage in theological "free jazz." Rather, although there is no doubt that I improvise, I always do so over the mystic chords of tradition. No matter how far afield I might go, I am always anchored to the structure that has been revealed to us by the Master Composer. Meaning is what takes place in the dynamic tension between structure and process -- not by slavish devotion to the structure, but by using it as a launch pad back into the vertical realm from which it arose in the first place.

My creed for art in general is that it should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise... a part of yourself you never knew existed. --Bill Evans

"Jazz's Perfect Afternoon":


Of course, for absolute modern jazz beginners, this is the best place to start (Evans had a major hand in its conception):

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Messiah, the Establishment, and Political Halitosis

Reader Brian, who stimulated my thoughts on Paul a couple of days ago, has a couple of follow-up observations and questions. He begins with Joan's argghhument that perhaps Paul's "zeal for what he thought was Truth, was ultimately the open door for the Light."

But prior to literally seeing the light, Paul was, as Brian writes, "obviously a bastard. However, I do think he thought he was serving God. This could perhaps differentiate him from the likes of Caiaphas who probably didn't give a damn about Truth and just wanted to be sure he didn't find himself irrelevant."

Brian continues: "So I'm led to see a potential parallel between Paul and Caiaphas and today's lefties who cynically manipulate folks for their own utopian control-freak nihilism, vs. those who honestly think that liberal policies are better (usually younger people who haven't really thought stuff through yet). Both are Pharisees, but I suspect only one of them commits the 'unpardonable sin.'"

Furthermore, "Perhaps many of today's former moonbats (i.e. David Horowitz) who have since seen the light were never quite like Jesse Jackson, despite the similarities of the policies they advocated. On the other hand, I have no doubt whatsoever that deep down Ted Kennedy is nothing more than a nihilist.

"If I bring up a good point in an intellectual discussion, a nihilist will out-shout me, subtly change the subject, call me a name, accuse me of hypocrisy, or do whatever it takes to 'win' the argument. Occasionally, I'll discover someone who will respond with, 'I never thought of it that way before. Hmmmm...'

"I would argue that both saint-killing and supporting affirmative action are evil. Nevertheless, Jesus died because a Pharisee wanted power, Maybe Stephen died because another Pharisee really thought Stephen opposed God. In both cases, Saints unjustly died, but was there a difference? After all, the former Pharisee damned himself, but the latter became a Saint himself.

"Do you think my analogy makes any sense? Do you think that the differences between cynical power-hungry leftists and those who are just dumb are in any way fundamental, or am I giving the idiots too much credit?"

*****

There is much to cogitate upon here. First, I do not necessarily regard Caiaphas as one of the grand archetypal characters in the arc of salvation, more of a stock character or a "plot device," so to speak. In his theory of groups, Bion writes of the "messiah" (or sometimes "mystic") in a particular way. Using his terminology -- and ignoring for the moment any purely religious implications -- if Jesus is the "messiah," then Caiaphas represents the "Establishment." If nothing else, viewing it in this more abstract manner helps to remove any specifically anti-Semitic connotations with regard to Caiaphas. His Jewishness is incidental to his being voice of the Establishment. At various times, Christians have been their own worst Establishment.

In Bion's system, "The exceptional individual can be described in different ways. One can call him a genius, a mystic, a messiah." Bion used the term messiah "to refer to exceptional individuals in any field, whether scientific, artistic, or religious." Likewise, he used the term Establishment "to designate those who exercise power and responsibility in the state or in other institutions."

Please also bear in mind that when Bion talks about the group, he is also always talking about the individual, for a group can think and behave like a unitary entity, just as an individual mind is a protean, restless group with incoming thoughts and outgoing behavior that come from many different levels.

(In fact, a commenter expressed it quite well the other day. Let me see if I can go back and find it.... Be right back.... Found it.)

Reader Quake wrote, "An important point that Bob treated in passing should be emphasized: the human mind is not a closed system. The sum of all thoughts that you have on any given day are not all 'yours.' Some seep in from other people (yes, there is a fuzzy and unreliable cross transference). Some come from other 'planes' of being which interpenetrate ours (for instance, a plane or world of mind, inhabited by entities of pure thought-form). There is another plane of 'vital' forms that are made of emotions, and these can give you suggestions to misbehave. There are higher spiritual planes inhabited by angels and other high forms, and these can give us suggestions too. And some, like Bob's O-mail, come in from God [well, a Coon always does his level best, anyway -- ed]. A person's mind is a goulash of thoughts, and untangling what comes from where should be attempted. Raccoons probably do an automatic sorting of influences."

Quake has done a good job of describing an important aspect of Sri Aurobindo's yoga, which precisely involves sorting through and disentangling our own "mental group" and determining what is coming from where. For within your own mind is a "messiah" and an "establishment," just as the group, looked at in a certain way, has an "ego."

For example, this is what popularity polls attempt to gauge, say, how the country feels about President Bush, or the war, or Hillary Clinton, or socialized medicine. You will notice that the operative word is "feels," because trying to take a snapshot of the group's "mood" at any given time is an entirely irrational process. Now the group is relatively in touch with reality and accurately perceives Saddam as a threat and wants to topple him; now the group feels anxious and regrets it, and begins going into denial; now the group feeds its own anxiety with self-verifying delusions of propaganda and wants to run from Iraq. This is why trying to be a leader is like trying to preside over an unruly, petulant child with bipolar disorder, and why an "indulgent parent" such as a Clinton is such a poor leader.

Back to the group and the messiah. One thing the group -- any group -- is always hoping for is the messiah. For example, in recent months we have seen this play out to a ridiculous extent with the liberal media's bizarre adoration of that empty suit, Barack Obama. Please take me literally, for Bion's theory explains exactly why this deeply irrational process is going on, and why secular liberals would be most prone to the need to invent a messiah out of whole cloth in order to sustain the fantasy that they might be "saved." For the same reason, history ironically demonstrates time and again that leftists are most in need of a "satan" precisely because they do not believe evil exists.

One of the dangers of any systematic form of "establishment thought" is that it superimposes a rigid grid, so to speak, over O. But this is always "whistling past the graveyard," for the ghosts of what your artificial thought system excludes will always baby boomerang back to you, very much in the manner of someone who attempts to repress, say, all sexual thoughts. You can try to do that, but the unintegrated thoughts will simply seep back in like water through the floor boards, the walls, and the ceiling (furthermore, since they are repressed, they will remain primitive and unable to undergo growth).

It is just so with religion. Repress it and you will only see it everywhere, either in a hysterically threatening form ("the Christo-fascist takeover!) or in a transparently messianic form (Obama and, of course, the "Goracle"; the other day, the boneheaded Katie Couric actually referred to him as a "secular saint," but she is just stupid enough to say out loud what the liberal group mind is thinking). Do conservatives do the same thing with someone like Ronald Reagan? They certainly do. The difference, of course, is that Reagan was an actual political messiah who was completely at odds with the Establishment, whereas figures such as Obama and Clinton represent the Establishment par excellence. The Establishment will turn the genuine messiah into satan, which is exactly what the left did with Reagan and what Caiaphas did with Jesus.

(You will also note the truism that one of the difficult things about voting is that you never know if a Republican is just pretending to be a conservative [i.e., a political messiah] or whether a Democrat is just pretending not to be a liberal [i.e., an Establishment figure in disguise]. This speaks volumes about how one must know the truth in order to be able to lie about it.)

According to Bion, "the mystic or genius, bearer of a new idea, is always disruptive for the group; The Establishment tries to protect the group from this disruption. The problem that arises from the relation between the mystic-genius and the institution creates an emotional configuration that repeats itself in different forms throughout history."

Importantly, the messiah can be creative or nihilistic (e.g., Nietzsche, Marx), "and will certainly be considered both -- at some point -- by different parts of the group. It is a fact that every genius, mystic, or messiah is both things, as the nature of his contributions is bound to destroy certain laws or conventions, the culture or coherence of the group, or of some subgroup within a group." As such, "the Establishment must achieve, as one of its functions, an appropriate containment" so as to limit the messiah's "disruptive power."

Rome (the Establishment) could not contain this threatening messiah, so they put him to death. And from the self-interested standpoint of the Establishment, they were entirely warranted (so to speak) in doing so, even though it ultimately backfired. For this messiah could not even be contained by death, and ended up toppling the Establishment anyway.

Think about that one for a moment. Again, as we were discussing the other day, the deeper the cause, the deeper the effect. The cause of this messiah was so deep that its shattering effects continue to be felt today -- again, even if you only look at it in purely Bionian terms, let alone religious ones; for if truth is catastrophic, then Truth must be the biggest catastrophe of them all, shattering every man-made idol with which it comes into contact.

Understood in Bion's sense, it is not the least bit of hyperbole to say that the United States is the "messiah among nations." With this understanding in mind, it is entirely predictable that the Establishment -- e.g., the UN or the international left -- would react to us the way they do. The truly messianic liberal principles embodied in our founding documents absolutely shatter the leftist agenda into into so many bits of totoiletarian fasces.

Look at it this way: what do you call a passionate truth seeker whose object -- Truth -- is excluded by his own a priori assumptions? Why, you call him a secularist, or a materialist, or a leftist. By definition, they can never attain what they are seeking, for it can only be found in a vertical realm that is precisely excluded by his materialistic assumptions. Thus, any vertical man will be seen as a threat to horizontal man, so he will be attacked with the time-honored mechanisms of of envy, contempt, and triumphalism -- for example, in the contemptuous James Cameron's triumphant debunking of Christianity. Cameron no doubt congratulates himself for being such a revolutionary messiah, but he could not be a more petty voice of the establishment. He is Caiaphas. ("Prince of this world!")

Now, what is the difference between, say, Noam Chomsky and David Horowitz, one of whom is still an anti-messianic voice of nihilsim, the other of whom saw through that sinister world and came around to the other side? Like Paul, both are passionate truth-seekers, but one had his Road to Demascus experience and became blinded by truth, if not Truth. How to explain the difference?

I'm not entirely sure, and to a certain extent, only God can say, since we are in the realm of "weighing souls," and it is not ultimately up to us to judge the soul, only the behavior. Having said that, I certainly have no hesitation in proposing the idea that there is something thoroughly rotten about Chomsky's soul, whereas there was obviously something redeemable in Horowitz's. For when we sin, we can sin with the husk or we can sin with the kernel.

Speaking for myself -- but which seems to apply to most people who eventually grow up -- "when I was young and stupid, I was young and stupid." However, despite my youthful stupidity, looking back on it, I cannot think of any bad thing I ever did that either truly reflected my kernel or damaged it. Rather, it was always done with the husk, often out of insecurity, or anxiety, or some other neurotic motivation. Furthermore, when the light was shown to me, I did not -- could not -- reject it. Rather, my kernal was attracted to it in spite of my husk. From there, it was just a matter of throwing off the husk as the kernel grew in the presence of the light.

Like Paul, even when I was most confused, I was nevertheless a passionate truth-seeker. As such, I knew that appearances could not be the reality, and that deeper forces must be at play. However, if you are not religious, then you will look for these deeper forces elsewhere. This is the appeal of a Chomsky (and of all neo-Marxist ideologies of the left), as he essentially provides a paranoid conspiracy theory that serves as a replacement for the non-paranoid "conspiracy theory" of religion. For con-spiracy simply means "breathing together," so be careful with whom you breath. After all, the "breath of life" that was breathed into man is what lifts us into the vertical and distinguishes us from the tenured.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Century of Raccoon Life: March Forth, Mighty Little Beast!

Today we cerebrate on a century of rich Raccoon heritage.

Witnesses who were present at that little speakeasy in Bismark, North Dakota, swear that when Toots Mondello and Herman Hildebrand founded the International Order of Friendly Sons of the Raccoons on March 4, 1907, neither of them were consciously aware of the significance of the date. For March 4th is the only date of the year that is also a command, a duty, and a rallying cry that encompasses the Coon credo: March Forth into the vertical with noble tails entwined, ye mighty little beasts! Woooooo!

Of course, at first, the yearly cooniversary of our founding was mainly an occasion to hoist a few (and if the stories about brothers Herman and Toots are more than apocryphal, "stagger forth" was perhaps more accurate than "march forth"). This is why tonight at "beer o'clock," all dues-paying adult Coons everywhere in the world will raise the spirit of their choice (the "shot glazarus ceremony") and repeat the sacred mantra, "Fingers to fingers, thumbs to thumbs, watch out below, here she comes."

But subsequent generations of slightly less libationary Coons came to appreciate the bi-cosmic synchronicity of the date, especially after bylaw, sec. 2 was changed to require a public school diploma for membership. Before that, none of the members had heard of the word "synchronicity."

"Where have we been? Where are we going?" These are not just idle questions that Toots posed in the early morning hours of March 5, 1907. Think of how much things have changed in just 100 years. Today he would have mumbled those questions in the back of a squad car instead of a paddy wagon. He would have been fined and given community service instead of released into the custody of a none-too-pleased Gladys waving that formidable rolling pin. Wasn't that punishment enough? Have we become a crueler society? Or was the greater cruelty being married to Gladys? That was certainly Toots' view.

When we prophylactically reflect upon a century of Coondom, perhaps we first notice the things that have changed, including more liberal divorce laws that perhaps might have given Toots a chance at coonjugal fulfillment. Perhaps not, for whereas Herman was the more coontemplative "much loved disciple," Toots was always the more headstrong, fire-breathing Ovangelist. Both temperaments were required to accomplish the mission, for the "church of Herman" and the "church of Toots" are ultimately one.

And since "Raccoon nature" is eternal and unchanging, it is equally striking that the nature of the anti-Coon adversary is also unchanging. For example, the headline of the March 4, 1907 New York Times reads,

SAY CZAR'S DOOM IS NEAR AT HAND
Peasant Leaders Tell Meeting a Great Revolution Is Impending
NO FAITH IN THE CROWN
Mass Meeting to Aid Russian Freedom to be Held To-night

"Alexis Aladin, formerly leader of the Peasant Party in the Russian Duma, and N. W. Tchaykovsky, 'Father of the Russian Revolution,' talked of impending revolution in Russia before the Ethical Culture Society in Carnegie Hall yesterday morning. Mr. Tchaykovsky said that the Russian autocracy is 'dancing over the crater of a volcano,' and that even now it is too late to avoid violence and bloodshed. 'A reign of terror had begun in Russia,' he said, and the responsibility for it all rests justly on the Russian Government....

"It was announced that a mass meeting would be held in Carnegie Hall to-night to arouse sympathy and interest for the people of Russia in their struggle for liberty.... The meeting will be under the auspices of the Society of the Friends of Russian Freedom.... To-night's meeting is to be essentially a meeting to express indignation and encourage the fight for Russian freedom and not a meeting to raise funds."

Same old New York Times. Same upside-down moral compass. Same uncritical sympathy for the enemies of mankind. Same New York sophisticates congratulating themselves on their enlightened morality. Same blaming of the victim and siding with the aggressor. Same alliance with America's enemies. Same confusion of terrorists with freedom fighters. What else is new?

But today, of all days, is not a day for looking back with bitterness. Rather, it is a day for Marching Forth with.... with unbitterness, which I believe was one of the rejected early mottos -- not because we don't believe it, but because nothing rhymes with "unbitterness." The closest thing was "critterness," which some of our southern brothers favored, but gave the fight song too regional a vernacular. In a compromise, the final version of our marching song became,

In the West and in the East
There’s a mighty little beast
For courage there is no other.
When the chips are all at stake
We are proud to call him brother.
So with our noble tails entwined
And a spirit strong of mind
We'll have hearts that cannot melt.
In the forest, in the trees
On the land or seven seas
We're brothers under the pelt

It was felt that there was no need to specifically commemorate our founding by referencing "marching forth" in the marching song, since, after all, it is a "marching song," and no one marches backwards except for progressives. "March forth." It's what we do -- in word and in deed -- but always with "tails entwined."

Obviously, in his wildest beer-fueled Coon-vision reveries, Toots could not have foreseen the technological wonders of the present age, in which Coons from all over the world could coongregate and entwine their tails in cyberspace, of all things. I just checked out my site meter, and it shows me that at this moment (6:03AM) there are Coons (or possibly anti-Coons.... gee, I hope not, but I suppose it's inevitable) in ten different countries besides the U.S. including the UK, Germany ("das Kulturcoons"), Canada ("Coonucks"), Australia ("Koongaroos"), Singapore (hmm, anti-Coon?), Pakistan (hello, Osama! Your ass is ours), Netherlands ("Vikoons"), Korea ("Coonfucians"), Spain ("Coonaradas"), and "Unknown Country (probably just some other place outside the U.S. such as Manhattan or Berkeley).

When you think about it, this is remarkable, since my book has not yet been translated into most of these languages. My publisher has informed me that, in order for that to happen, they want me to first translate it into english. They've always been very supportive like that.

Yesterday we were discussing the question of whether Paul chose God or was chosen by Him, and I think we all agreed that the latter was the case. Even if he had wanted to, Paul could never have chosen, much less designed and implemented, his mission. Most people who "want" to become prophets or gurus or spiritual teachers are driven by impure motives, since it is always out of one's hands anyway. These gifts are graces from heaven, not self-willed, and God generally chooses unlikely vehicles just to emphasize the centrality of grace (although it is certainly necessary to align our will with the grace, which is where free will does come into play).

It was the same coonundrum with Toots and Herman. Did they "choose" Coonhood? Or were they merely instruments of higher forces? Knowing what we know about the early lives of Toots and Herman, I don't think anyone could make a case for the former. Coon lore euphemistically refers to the "boyish peccadilloes" and "legal entanglements" of their youth, but for one thing, since when is a 35 year old man a youth, and since when is a state penitentiary a "reform school?"

Please, I do not stand here today in judgment of the character of our founders, which speaks for itself, at least since those "lost" documents were discovered through the Freedom of Information Act. No, I think we have to be honest with ourselves, and realize that none of us deserves to be called "Coon" -- although we must never stop trying to earn the title, and we must always pay the $2 monthly dues through Petey's Sad Little Tin Cup.

For as Toots whispered in his dying breath before sloughing off the pelt, "Why do you call me Coon? There is no Coon but the Grand High Exhalted Mystic Ruler."

And Petey's term isn't up until sunset on March 4, 2010, when we name our new Exalted Ruler during the grand mystic ceremony of the Nocturnal O-mission.

Words to reflect upon and coontemplate on this sacred day:

March forth and go vertical, young Coon!

From the hallowed streets of Greenpernt,
To the shores of Sheepshead Bay,
From the Verrazano Narrows,
To Canarsie across the way...
We have come together, one and all,
In fellowship to commune,
And to glorify the Grand Exalted
Brotherhood of Raccoons.

[Wooooooo!]

Saturday, March 03, 2007

De-mask Us On the Road to God

Reader Brian asks, "You've alluded to this before -- and may have dealt with it in the comments when I wasn't looking -- but I am incredibly interested in your take on Saul of Tarsus becoming Paul. His mindset was quite hostile to Christ, yet he had an almost involuntary conversion. Or was it involuntary? So many who wish to serve their Creator fall short because of internal divisions, etc., but Saul absolutely wanted the opposite, yet he became the man who spread the Gospel more effectively than anybody. Did God reach out to him, or did he reach out to God, or is there even a difference?"

(As always, I have no idea if what follows is kosher Christianity. It's just one Coon's vision.)

As a matter of fact, I was thinking about this subject just yesterday. For in a certain way, the story of SaulPaul is as central to the Bible -- and to the arc of salvation -- as several other scriptural "centers," or "axes," all of which seem to parallel or reflect back and forth on each other. For example, one obvious center is in Genesis 1:1, with the creation of the cosmos -- or, to be perfectly accurate, the "withdrawal" of God and the polarization of beyond-being -- the Absolute -- into being and existence, or "heaven and earth." (In Vedanta, one would say "purusha" and "prakriti," or witness and activity; or saguna brahman [i.e., God as subject of the world] and maya [appearances].)

This scriptural center is deliberately paralleled in John 1:1, which even begins with the same three words, "In The Beginning." In both instances, "beginning" superficially refers to the "horizontal" beginning, as in the beginning of a sequence. But the deeper sense of the word has to do with the "vertical" beginning, which equates to the existential center. This center is not in space or time per se; rather, space and time are reflections of the center. "In the beginning was the Word" does not (just) mean "a long time ago," but in the center of each now. It is the "light that shines in the darkness," since light is precisely that which radiates from the center to the periphery.

Now, a man was sent by God -- i.e., the center -- "to bear witness of the Light" -- i.e., the radiation from the divine center. His name was John. He was required because, although the light shines in the dark, the dorks don't get it, so they need a pretty in-your-face kind of guy to point it out to them. John was just that man. As such, he represents another important center, a sort of "reflected center" who was not the light but who could see the light.

Jesus obviously represents the full embodiment of the center at the periphery. A couple of days ago we spoke of black holes, and how they pull everything into their vortex, so that nothing escapes. In a certain sense, Jesus might be thought of as the opposite, as a sort of "white hole" as it were, that pulls all of creation into its wake. You have heard of the esoteric tenet, "as above, so below," or, to be precise, "That which is below corresponds to that which is above, and that which is above corresponds to that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing."

Another fundamental axiom is the greater the cause, the greater the effect. Thus, if Jesus is who he says he was, then it should be no surprise whatsoever that his effect continues to ripple through existence down through the centuries, like a depth charge dropped from heaven into the ocean of existence. It is not "speaking poetically" to say that we are surfing one of those little waves right now, no? If not, what are we doing? Just sitting here making s*** up at 5:00 in the morning? Er, I don't think so.

The Mystery of Golgotha represents an exact analogue of the mystery of creation itself. For if creation is God's kenosis, or self-emptying (and spontaneous self-giving) , then Jesus' work on the cross represents another central kenosis, a complete self-emptying, even into the "negative existence" of death. For Jesus does not merely die, but takes on the mantle of death in order to join ranks with the great "brotherhood of the dead." As Balthasar has written, when it is said that Jesus descended into hell on Holy Saturday, "descend" should not be understood in its active sense, but the strictly passive sense. He fell and fell and fell, just like humans, to the very periphery of existence, the furthest point from the light of the radiant cosmic center. Only when he hit rock bottom could the "fall" be reversed, the rock bottom nihil of dark death being "relatively absolute" separation from God.

Now this is all well and good for God, Son's of God, Light, Logoi, hand-selected apostles, and the like. Where do we fit in -- regular guys and gals, ordinary stumblebums, rank and foul earthlings?

Here I think that Saul serves as an archetypal illustration of the divine center as it manifests in fallen man. For just as Jesus represents the center crashing into the periphery, Saul ultimately represents the perpiphery making its way back to the center. In fact, Saul is not just an ordinary peripheral man who is ignorant of the Light. Rather, he is like the ACLU or the MSM or the Democrat party. He is specifically at war with the light. He is "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord," perhaps sometimes even threatening lawsuits. He is the envy of the ACLU, since he didn't have to be a sneaky weasel with a brief case, but could directly make "havoc of the church, entering every house and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison."

Thus, Saul represents another kind of center, a perverse center, even the "center of perversity." He is the "center of (not at) the periphery," so to speak, at war with the true center. Paradoxically, he must obviously be quite full of himself, the opposite of the self-emptying, radiant center. But his fullness does not bring peace but persecution, just like anyone with too much self esteem.

As we have been reading lately, psychologists are finally catching up to the self-evident truth that "self esteem" is neutral at best, but usually destructive. Most of the problems in the world are caused by people with too much self esteem -- dictators, criminals, newspaper editors, etc. Because they are so full of themselves, there is no space for God, which requires self emptying of one's own (false) center. As Paul would later say -- I'm paraphrasing here from memory, "It is not I who live any longer, but Christ in me" -- i.e., the real center at his center, rather than the bogus center of the hypertrophied ego. One or the other must go.

Since the false center of the ego represents an ontological nothingness, its resultant darkness envies the light. This envy is the dreary joy of the joyless, who simply spend their petty lives grinding away at truth, beauty, and virtue, as do so many lie-roasted academia nuts. Nowadays they might call it "speaking truth to power" in order to elevate themselves in their own eyes. Or they might give each other academy awards, or Pulitzers, or Nobel prizes, or even Daytime Emmys. These external supports are all necessary to prop up peripheral man and disenable his consciousness of guilt. No doubt if Saul were alive today, he would have been given a Nobel Peace Prize for his important work in combating extreme Christianism. He would join the ranks of other recent winners -- men and institutions at war with the center such as Yasser Arafat, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Mohamed El Baradei, the U.N., etc.

But then, on the "road to Damascus," as the cliche goes, Paul has a profound experience that pulls him from the periphery to the center. In its own way, this event is as principial as its reverse, when the center emptied out to the periphery in Genesis I and on Holy Saturday. For suddenly, in an instance of "quantum change," someone who had been at war with the center snaps like a rubber band into its opposite. If you can imagine the big bang as an infinite point radiating outward to the periphery, this would represent the opposite of that movement: perhaps the gnab gib.

The first and last step on the spiritual path is "repentence," which actually comes from the Greek metanoia which is simply to "turn around." Instead of turning our back to the central sun, we look around and see it face-to-face. Instead of running away from it, or struggling against it, we embrace it, like flowers that naturally orient themselves to the sun and open up in its presence.

Saul "opened up." At once he was in the presence of the central light which "shone all around him" (for how could it not, if one's eyes are open?), and fell down, Saul t' the earth. 'Efall and 'ego boom! In fact, we all fall what seems like a long distance. But in reality, it's just back to the ground, the same ground you were crawling on to begin with.

"Saul, why are you persecuting me? You're acting like a freaking ACLU goon. What's up with that?"

"Homena-homena-homena.... I was scared about the imminent Christo-fascist takeover, like I read about on dailykos... But w-what do you want with me?

"Before getting into that, why don't you just assimilate what's happened so far? Go have a little clubhouse meeting with yourself. Walking on water wasn't built in a day."

"Mmmmm, but I'm blind. I can't see anything."

"Yes, I know that. This is not in the book I've been working on, so you'll have to read between the lines. The point is not that you are blind. Rather, the point is that you can no longer "see" your previous world. It no longer exists because it never really existed. You are now in the land of the Real, but you do not yet have the sensory organs to see it. You are like unto someone who is snow blind. The problem is not darkness, but too much light. Now get lost for a few days, unplug, chill, relux and call it a deity. And turn off your cell phone! If any Romans call, you're not home, got it?"

We are then told that Saul spent the subsequent three days without sight, without food, and without liquid, simply shut up in his existential darkness.

This, of course, parallels the Jews' 40 years of wandering in the desert, Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the bewilderness, and ultimately the three days of the passion. In each case, "emptiness" at the periphery (i.e., "wilderness," "desert") is a prelude to "fullness" or "resurrection" at the center. Specifically, Saul's emptiness is filled with the Holy Spirit. He is charged with a mission, for if Jesus took care of the R & D, then Paul shall be the marketing department. He is to spread the good news of the center to the periphery, to "bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel."

Paul has a new name and new vocation (which means "calling"). His earth name is gone, as is his secular mission. Now he has a divine name and a divine mission. His sight is restored, but it's not like the old sight. Rather, he is granted his Coon Vision, as "the scales fall from his eyes." Then he arises back from the ground and stands as a truly Upright Man, an I-amissary of the center instead of a bipedal beast at the periphery.

Probably my favorite song is In the Garden by Van Morrison. I suppose if one must have a funeral, then I'd like it played at mine. Like Bob Dylan, he fools around with the pronouns, but I'm guessing it's autobiographical:

You wiped the teardrops from your eye in sorrow
As we watched the petals fall down to the ground
And as I sat beside you I felt the
Great sadness that day in the garden

And then one day you came back home
You were a creature all in rapture
You had the key to your soul
And you did open that day you came back to the garden

The olden summer breeze was blowin' on your face
The light of God was shinin' on your countenance divine
And you were a violet colour as you
Sat beside your father and your mother in the garden

The summer breeze was blowin' on your face
Within your violet you treasure your summery words
And as the shiver from my neck down to my spine
Ignited me in daylight and nature in the garden

And you went into a trance
Your childlike vision became so fine
And we heard the bells inside the church
We loved so much
And felt the presence of the youth of
Eternal summers in the garden

And as it touched your cheeks so lightly
Born again you were and blushed and we touched each other lightly
And we felt the presence of the Christ

And I turned to you and I said
No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the father in the garden

No Guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father and the
Son and the Holy Ghost
In the garden wet with rain

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Invisible Church of the Perpetual Raccoon

Are there collective psychospiritual weather patterns? Yesterday, most everyone commented on what a strange day it felt like, beginning with the strange absence of comments. As Cosanostradamus put it in his cosmic weather report, "birth [congrampalations, Nomo!--GB], death, rebirth, waves of light, black holes, wild weather." Tornadoes and stock market crashes... Ms. E. said it felt like a mixed atmosphere in which "the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade." Will called it a "very quiet dream-like day, a liminal day." Another Bob observed that it was an eerily "quiet day," and ominously added, "I hope everybody's OK."

It was certainly a not-okay day for me. For whatever reason, I woke up with low blood sugar and had some difficulty getting it up into the normal range all day -- as if there were some kind of "metabolic fire" burning in me. I've certainly felt the fire in recent weeks, but this was too much. I was uncharacteristically under -- or was I in? -- the weather all day. Weird.

But this mutual perception of a "weird day" does bring up the issue of our "collectivity" and just where it resides, for although "interconnectedness" surely exists as a consequence of the principle of Wholeness that flows through every artery of the cosmos, there is no particular "place" where it can be located. You can't point at wholeness from the outside, only experience it from the inside (which is the secret of consciousness, which is a reflection of the Creator's unifying interior wholeness-amdist-diversity). This causes a lot of confusion for philosophers and metaphysicians who try to arrive at wholeness additively instead of beginning with it as an assumption, which one must do.

It seems that a group is a group by virtue of "tuning in," so to speak, to some sort of resonant field of consciousness. The essential point is that a group is not fundamentally externally related, or it's not really a group. Rather, it's just a "crowd" or a "mob." But a true group has an interior relationship, as if each of the members is literally tuned into the same frequency. What is so jarring, for example, in reading one of the crazy websites of the angry left, such as the dailykurse or huffingandpissed, is that they resonate on this horribly plangent and quite primitive frequency in whatever they write about. I am quite sure you all know what I mean, even if you've never thought of it this way before. The surface structure of the topic hardly matters -- they can be talking about economics, or the war, or science, or religion, but whatever it is, the main thing you will detect is the deep structure of this painfully dissonant energy.

Now, in fairness, someone will no doubt say to me, "Bob, that's not a vibration you're feeling. It's just the unpleasant sensation of your own disagreement." Could be, but I don't think so. For example, I work in forensic psychology, so I am accustomed to crafting sound and unassailable medico-legal arguments. Part of this involves taking the report written by the whore who works for the other side and reducing it to dust with facts, logic, and the law. In doing so, there is "passion" involved, but it is nothing like the feeling of wading into the left wing fever swamps.

For one thing, the latter is a hellish world in which facts and rudimentary logic generally do not apply. Rather, the first thing one notices is that this world is held together by "feeling" or "sentiment," not by logical coherence. Underneath the "political left" is a "psychological left," and latter is far more primitive and dangerous, for they literally inhabit a self-contained psychological space similar to the black holes discussed yesterday. No light escapes. These people really do want to see the Vice President murdered, as we witnessed at huffington the other day. They really do idealize a thug such as Hugo Chavez. They really do hate George Bush much more than Saddam Hussein.

A religion is very much a resonant worldspace in the sense described above. For example, this is what the Master means when he says that he is present when any two or more meet in his name. This is quite literally true. The logos is magically made present through the triangulation of two people, somewhat similar to the manner in which a holograph works. My technical description is probably lacking, but I believe the hologram results from the interference pattern of two different beans of light. In any event, that's certainly how it works spiritually.

For example, this is how our Unknown Friend in Meditations on the Tarot can speak to us so intimately from beyond the horizon of death. I realize that is a challenging book for kits, but once you allow yourself to enter its world, it is as if you have entered this incredibly beautiful spiritual cathedral that the two of you are leisurely investigating together. He is your congenial tour guide, showing you this or that, often dwelling on random little points of arcane interest. The point is that it is a world -- and a beautiful one at that. It too resonates at a frequency -- the frequency being love, but also truth and beauty.

This is obviously what the secular person does not -- cannot -- understand about leading a religious life. They accuse us of "escapism," of believing in strange myths to shield us from the harsh realities of existence, in particular, death and loss. However, the opposite is patently true, at least for the invisible brotherhood of Raccoons. For us, religion is an inscape into the most beautiful supraterranean cave art ever co-created by human beings.

I have mentioned before that I happened to marry into a family of secular Jews, some of whom are quite unapologetic "anti-Jews." For example, only a Jew (or maybe Jimmy Carter) could get away with writing Uncle Peter's book on how the Holocaust is just a big PR scam to advance Israel's political interests.

(Don't worry -- I'm not airing dirty laundry in public. I like him and he likes me, even though he charitably regards my views as "not even insane." It is fascinating to talk to him, for it is fair to say that we agree on nothing, from the essential to the trivial. People talk about what it would be like to encounter an alien from another planet with a completely different frame of reference. Ahem. How concrete does one have to be to believe it is necessary to leave earth in order to have a close encounter of the third kind? Most Coons don't have to even leave their own family. The bottom line is that there are not enough Coon families for all Coons, so many of us had to drop into a non-Coon habitat, to put it mildly. In the case of Mrs. G. and myself, we consciously prayed for a little kit to come down into our Coon den. It worked.)

Now, if I were a less congenial fellow, I could easily turn a conversation with Uncle Peter into an ireworks show, but what would be the point? He lives in one world, I live in another. Can't we all just get along? For him, the question never arises as to whether he lives in "a" world, only "the" world. People talk about how religious fundamentalists live in their own world, but I cannot think of anyone with so naively parochial, crimped, and predictable a world as academia and the liberal media -- or primitive New York Timesman. You give me the topic and I'll tell you what they think. But my world -- if I may say so -- is fundamentally a world of surprise and of inexhaustible novelty. I never know what metaphysical goodies are awaiting me in the morning, including this post, for example. Nor do I have any idea where it's leading. Rather, I'm just following this little creek that was here in the morning when I got up.

In my world, it is impossible to be cynical. Yes, I am cynical about their world below -- how could one not be? -- but the eternal regeneration of my world is the best possible ungnowculation against cyncism. Again, some might say that it is a "naive" world, but that is not quite right, for we are as wise as serpents around here. Rather it is an innocent world, and the fact that this world coexists with the other world is something of a miracle -- that one can recapture one's primordial innocence and live as man was intended in this fallen world.

I had never attended any Jewish services until I got married. Naturally, just because my in-laws are secular, it doesn't mean that they don't try to resurrect the dead ghost of their Jewish past on sacred occasions. So I've attended these functions -- weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals, etc. While my relatives experience them as a social rituals, I remember on my very first visit to the synagogue, I realized that I was in contact with the sacred. In fact, I'm omitting my marriage, which was undoubtedly my first participation in a Jewish ritual. If the event had been presided over by a Christian holy man, then my relatives would have undoubtedly regarded his words as slightly sinister blah blah; if it had been a Vedantin priest, it would have been just goofy blah blah; but the fact that it was a rabbi made it just plain innocuous blah blah, the same old same old testament.

But not for me. First of all, the language was all new to me, so it was not saturated. Furthermore, I found the words of the rabbi so spiritually resonant and psychologically inspiring, that I knew I was in the presence of the sacred and the holy, and that my marriage was being blessed by this divine light. A resonant "world" was successfully invoked and tapped into, at least for me and for Mrs. G. For the rest, it was essentially a sentimental occasion, "sentimentality" being one of the most common replacements for religion among secular people. (Incidentally, I do not see now people who "write their own vows" could match the sacred potency of the words written by "no one" for "everyone.")

(By the way, until this very day, I had thought it was "Rabbi Kuhn." Only now do I realize it was "Rabbi Coon.")

Now, Rocky Raccoon asked a good question yesterday. He "was wondering today about the Arc of Salvation. Both Phase I and II were followed by a ‘book.' Do you think we have a new ‘book’ on the way for the 3rd Phase?"

No, I don't think so, although I suppose it would be a good hobby for me to try. But what will happen is that people will return to the original texts but understand them with "eyes made new" -- i.e., with Phase III Coon vision. They will "arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time."

And then perhaps each person will write their own book based upon their encounter with the Real -- sort of like how we can all respect giants like Beethoven but still "sing our own song." You know -- speaking of innocence -- something like this:

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song

*****

Folks, I hope this admission doesn't reduce my esteem in your ears, but -- I'll say it -- I am a big Carpenters fan. At the time (the early 70's) no one was regarded as less hip, but in hindsight, we can see that no one was more courageously "counter culture." I certainly dismissed them. But their musical sophistication speaks for itself -- probably no one aside from Brian Wilson wrote more complex vocal harmonies than Richard Carpenter, not to mention the extraordinarily subtle instrumental arrangements and production standards that rival Steely Dan -- and the unique voice of Karen Carpenter aches with a sad innocence and depth of longing that went unappreciated at the time (at least artistically). She is the greatest female pop vocalist of her generation (her phrasing and technique are so much more subtle than Babs). If you can put away your preconceptions, their masterpiece, A Song For You, is an amazing headphone experience (sounds richer on good vinyl -- the transcendent Goodbye to Love is awesome on Dupree's turntable). Any musican who is studying arrranging could profit from the experience. Here's the AMG review.

And no, I'm not gay.

(For you beginners and young kits, this is probably the best introduction. It has versions of songs that were actually remixed by Richard Carpenter for the digital age, so they sound closer to contemporary production values and more full on a CD player.)

*****
From On Top of the World, Lookin' Down on Creation to the Kit who Fell to Earth:

(Which reminds me, Sal: photo of sweater coming soon.)