Saturday, April 14, 2007

On Having vs. Doing Religion

I guess I'd like to throw out a topic for general discussion. It will no doubt split the coonosphere, which is fine, since we are not followers anyway, which is to say, we are "unorthodoxly orthodox" in our textual orientation -- or perhaps "unspeakably literal."

It has to do with the spiritual education of Future Leader, who will be a two year old in about a week. No, I don't mean he's going to become a Democrat -- I mean it literally. But I don't want him to stay a Democrat, I mean two year-old, which is why he needs a needs a solid spiritual foundation.

The problem is, there are so many options, none of which is ideal and each of which will represent a compromise of one sort or another. I suppose that each of us has the idea of the "perfect religion" in our head, but things are obviously quite different on the ground -- the intransigent extra-head environment -- the reason being that religions tend to be practiced by human beings, and we know all about them. Crooked timber, and all that.

This topic actually does converge with the subject of our recent posts, because at the heart of this matter is the question of language and its relation to the Divine.

Obviously, there is no idea so kooky that it hasn't been maintained by one philosopher or another. In this regard, the linguistic philosophers were correct in insisting that language is riddled with so many unexamined traps that its unreflective use is problematic. But not fatally so. For example, they employed language to inform us of this truth, and we do get the point. You can stop annyoing us now.

The reason why linguistic philosophy has now been discarded except among certain professional philosophers is that it is a spiritual and intellectual dead end, another case of an abuse of language invented for that purpose. It became very adept at aggressively tearing down texts -- at catty catabolism of dingy dogma, so to speak -- but was incapable of building anything to replace these torn and tattered texts by its own lights.

You probably all know someone like this -- a radical skeptic or "devil's advocate" who can critique but not create. They are prone to a kind of omnipotently aggressive "anti-knowing," which is not even on the level of "minus k," which involves positive but partial or erroneous knowledge, so at least the person is trying to build something. But the cynical anti-knower is like a surgeon who can make beautiful incisions with an unwavering hand and spot tumors with a searching eye, but not stitch you back up or restore you to health.

Several of you immediately noticed with your cOOn vision that this is the sadly circular mental mode of our recent troll -- who really is sad, the manic superimposition of the unholy psychological trinity of arrogance, contempt, and triumph notwithstanding. His mind can focus on some narrow point at the cost of underlooking the overall vision. This is how an inferior mind may be made to look superior in his own eyes. It is something that anyone can do with a little education and a lot of envy.

Is this not how inferior contemporary minds presume themselves superior to great religious minds of the past -- as if these were not serious and gifted men who are worthy of our respect and veneration? The other day, the same coarse-minded troll dismissed one of the greatest souls who ever drew breath as "antiquarian."

But this is precisely where philosophy went off track in the 20th century. To study philosophy is to immerse oneself in the inner life of a great soul grappling with issues of ultimate concern. Naturally they do so with the linguistic tools and concepts available to them at the time, but this does not make the genius using the tools any less of a genius. You must intuit the capacious spirit behind the language, not get lost in the words.

This is why a Plato, an Augustine, or a Schopenhauer will always be relevant to us, but the linguistic analysts of the mid-to-late 20th century will go the way of the logical positivists. Yes, the latter may have succeeded in their quest to unify knowledge with great restrictive clarity, but at the cost of eliminating the 90% of what humans know but cannot prove with the narrow methods of science. Who can claim to be a philo-sopher and exclude the ardent love of wisdom a priori? For what is love? What is wisdom? The inferior mind can make mincemeat of these fuzzy words, just as it can dismiss God, or the sacred, or marriage, or St. Augustine, with the wave of a hand.

In short, there are philosophies and philosophers who feed the soul, which means, ipso facto, that we have one, irrespective of the word you use for it. But feeding is not something you can do once and be done with. Yesterday I mentioned that both psychoanalysis and Christianity take seriously the idea that our minds are embodied. One thing Bion added to the Freudian stream is that human beings are inherently epistemophilic, meaning that we come into the world seeking and loving truth. Ah, but what is truth, asks the skeptic guided only by his pilate light -- thus turning the solution into a problem, like a cognitive auto-immune disease that aggressively kills the host it is there to defend.

Bion's view actually calls for a dramatically revised metapsychology, since Freud was a scientific reductionist who maintained that our minds are essentially the illusion-prone epiphenomena of an animal seeking to discharge instinctual tension.

But how can it have escaped anyone's notice that Freud was a passionate truth seeker and that if his ideas were true, then they were false by dint of his own assumptions? In other words, if our mental life really represents nothing more than the compromises and self-deceptions required to make animal instincts compatible with civilization, there is no reason to believe any truth at all, much less Freud's. We are all instinct-bound animals, so we might as well stop flattering ourselves and party like it's 9-10.

Many psychologists took up this thread in the 1960s, and this attitude still prevails in much of what passes for psychology today. As Dr. Sanity noted the other day, it is how we end up promoting all the leftist ideals of self-esteem instead of self control, feeling over thinking, wanting over deserving, and entitling over earning.

Our minds are designed to metabolize reality so that mental growth may take place. And although this is obvious, it is equally obvious that if one were so inclined, one could take a linguistic jackhammer to this statement and show it to be false. Like Future Leader -- who is again, two years old, so it is age-appropriate -- these one-dimensional unthinkers can deconstruct anything but can construct nothing, for if they do venture to construct something, their own spiritual I AM-mune system would reduce it to feathers. Thus, as I said the other day -- and this is not a "false dichotomy" but self-evident -- either the mind is truth, or it is nothing.

As Schuon has written, unlike any mere animal, the human being is composed of intellect, will, and sentiment -- or of truth, virtue, and liberty. Could a statement be more lucid and accurate? No, it could not. It is not possible to use words in such a way that they can be more accurate than this, for the words are not the reality, only signposts of a reality that must be experienced.

Now, what if I make an equally clear statement about reality -- oh, I don't know... how about this:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

I and I assume most Coons do not experience this as vague or abstract, but a luminously clear statement describing a reality we know to be true.

But this is not just a matter of creed or faith, of simply believing the unbelievable because we are enjoined to by our religion. And believe it or not, this does get back to the issue I mentioned at the top -- for I could also take the first line from, say, the Isha Upanishad, and it is equally metaphysically clear and on point:

In the heart of all things, of whatever there is in the universe, dwells the Lord. He alone is the reality. Wherefore, renouncing vain appearances, rejoice in him.

Or the opening line of the Mundaka Upanishad, equally obvious and clear and easily trancelighted into your own tradition:

Out of the infinite ocean of existence arose Brahma, first-born and foremost among the gods. From him sprang the universe, and he became its protector.

Or how about the Yoga Sutras, by Patanjali? Who but a deconsructionist with too much time and tenure on his hands could argue with the following: The right kinds of knowledge are direct perception, inference, and scriptural testimony. Wrong knowledge is knowledge which is false and not based upon the true nature of its object. Verbal delusion arises when words do not correspond to reality.

Or the opening paragraph from Sri Aurobindo's philosophical magnum opus, the Life Divine:

"The earliest preoccupation of man in his awakened thoughts and, as it seems, his inevitable and ultimate preoccupation -- for it survives the longest periods of skepticism and returns after every banishment -- is also the highest which his thought can envisage. It manifests itself in the divination of the Godhead, the impulse towards perfection, the search after pure Truth and unmixed Bliss, the sense of a secret immortality. The ancient dawns of human knowledge have left us their witness to this constant aspiration; today we see a humanity satiated but not satisfied by victorious analysis of the externalities of Nature preparing to return to its primeval longings. The earliest formula of Wisdom promises to be its last -- God, Light, Freedom, Immortality."

Ah, the Coon battle cry!

I could go on, but I think I get my point. Whatever it is.

Here is the nub of the gist of the heart of the issue, which I will have to expand upon tomorrow. It is easy to misunderstand what I am about to say, so I'll just say it and then apologize later: at a certain point a few years back, it seems as if I stopped "having" religion and instead began "doing religion."

Now, as I said, this is very easy to misunderstand, so let me make it clear: this does not in any way mean to say that I invented a religion, much less that there is something in what I say that should be taken to mean that the "doing" obviates the "having" or the "following," in that I will always bow before my spiritual superiors, in whose light I live and whom I cannot imagine surpassing.

It is very much analogous to studying psychology in graduate school. There too I was a follower, but at some point along the way, something "clicked" -- or perhaps "cracked," allowing for the troll point of view -- and I began "doing psychology" rather than following it. There are certain names that will always be important touchstones, but nevertheless, I "go my own way" and am part of no school.

However, at the same time, I am not "eclectic," much less a cafeteria-style new-ageist picking from this or that plattertude to create my own self-styled heresy. How to explain? Don't leap to any coonclusions just yet. To be continued.


Nice little primer on deconstruction and postmodernsim at American Thinker, showing how drearily satanic they truly are. Here's the conclusion:

"It seems, then, that the ultimate goal of deconstruction -- and postmodernism and poststructuralism -- is to undermine the foundation of the West, and one of the foundation stones of the West (and increasingly in other nations), the Bible....

"Deconstruction is giving birth, but to what? In a slow way, one drop at a time on the forehead, postmodernists are destroying the very West that gives these same hyper-radicals and hyper-skeptics the freedom, prosperity, and leisure time to use their weapons against Western foundations."

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Few Words About the Unspeakable

I wonder what motivates these vertically challenged trolls to comment here, when it is obvious that they have not digested what for them is the unmunchionable truth?

Needless to say, Wittgenstein's thoughts about the impossibility of metaphysics are of no consequence to a Coon. I mean, W. is entitled to his opinions, just as Dr. Qi is entitled to mine, but most of the ideas of linguistic philosophy are so low on the vertical scale that they needn't detain any serious seeker. Again, like deconstruction, what is sound in it has always been known to the intellectually awakened, while what is new is mostly wrong, especially when elevated to an overarching philosophy.

And again, there is no purely secular philosophy that doesn't have at least a few useful nuggets of truth lodged in it, but elevating a partial truth to the totality is generally at the root of all bad philosophies -- as is true of most heresies. For example, some Christian sects overemphasized Jesus' humanity, others his divinity. One of the functional effects of Trinitarian thought was to check the tendency of the mind to default in one static direction rather than tolerating an unresolveable -- but generative -- state of dynamic tension.

Yesterday a troll suggested that I had engaged in "doublethink," which is what spiritual paradox looks like from down below. "From above," paradox is a fruitful way to think about ultimate reality, as indicated, for example, by Zen koans or by the endlessly provocative paradoxables of Jesus. But to suggest that Jesus' playful and ambiguous use of language made him a postmodern deconstructionist is strict kooky talk.

The fashionable grooves in which the minds of linguistic philosophers endlessly circle made their way into psychoanalysis at the very time I was studying it in graduate school, so I am (or was before flushing) well familiar with them. This was via a fellow named Lacan -- not surprisingly, a Frenchman. Fortunately I was eventually rescued by Bion, whose capacious metapsychology easily subsumes the linguistic poopspeaks, and that was that.

Lacan's intellectual cantribution to psychoanalysis was the notion that "the unconscious is [structured like] a language." Whatever. I imagine Lacan is still very popular in France, since Euros are intrinsically confused (with obvious exceptions), being that they no longer have any religious "cognitive inoculation" against loony uncoony tunes and ideas. But he is irrelevant to psychoanalysis at its leading edge, which in my view involves the interface of attachment theory and neurodevelopmental psychoanalysis, i.e., the study of internalized mind parasites from early childhood.

Speaking of mind parasites, no disrespect, but Wittgenstein was a very sick man -- depressed, at times suicidal, and if I recall correctly from his biography, intensely schizoid, i.e., incapable of normal human relationships -- and it goes without saying that he would not have believed what he believed had he received proper psychiatric treatment, but such treatment was not available at the time. It really wasn't until the 1970s that psychoanalysis began being able to explain and treat these types of deeper character disorders -- e.g. narcissistic, schizoid, and borderline personalities.

I am not suggesting that a mentally disturbed individual is incapable of arriving at truth, for any idea must always be evaluated on the merits. However, at the same time, it is perfectly obvious to a clinical psychologist that certain philosophical and political inclinations result from certain pathologies, which is, after all, one of the reasons people passionately believe things that are intrinsically stupid.

In any event, it is no big surprise that a deeply schizoid man would be attracted to the idea that language is just a kind of logic-chopping tool, since he himself was so detached from flesh-and-blood reality -- as indeed are a fair number of philosophers and academics in general, who live in their abstractions and not the real world. There is a reason why there are plenty of neo-Marxists on college campi, but no man who actually runs a business is a Marxist -- at least for long, as reality has a way of rooting out such dysfunctional ideas.

The unhinged skepticism of deconstruction achieves the opposite effect intended by its "progressive" proponents. That is, if we cannot judge the merit of competing ideas by assessing their relative truth value on an absolute scale, then either everyone will have their own private truth or truth will be enforced by the state or some other powerful collective. Our recent visitor suggests that I am a deconstructionist or that the philosophy of deconstruction is somehow compatible with classical liberalism. But as Stephen Hicks points out, it is no coincidence that the leading postmodern theorists are all left -- and usually far left -- in their political orientation, for the cognitive pathology of the one is reflected in the nonsense of the other.

Ironically, although the discoverer of psychoanalysis, Freud, was hostile to religion, it so happens that there is a deep convergence between psychoanalysis and Christianity, for at the heart of each is the notion of embodiment. Both take very seriously the idea that we live in a specifically human body, from the moment we are conceived until the day we die. In many ways, psychoanalysis is the study of the "embodied mind," just as Christianity is the religion of the "embodied word."

As such, Christianity implicitly provides a profound linguistic philosophy. In chapter IX, The Hermit, our Unknown Friend gets into a very clear explanation of how Christianity elegantly resolves certain linguistic conundrums in a way that no secular philosophy can. But as always, since its primary concern is salvation and not intellectual diversion for unfertile eggheads, the ideas of the Bible are presented in such a way that the average academic pinhead will neither understand (i.e., through an activated gnosis) nor be attracted to them.

I'm sure you all remember the derision President Bush endured from the intellectual elites when he said that his favorite philosopher was Jesus. It matters not that a single wisecrack of Jesus contains more wisdom than the unwise crock of a philosophy department in a leftist university. They are sophisticated, and we are not. Again, whatever. Let the braindead bury the souldead.

Unknown Friend begins with an account of the various antinomies that have always divided philosophy, because of the very structure of the world and of our minds. In general, this or that philosopher attempts to resolve the antinomy by coming down on this or that side, which never works; rather, this is simply a case of "word magic," i.e., making some part of reality disappear through a sleight of language.

Hrmph. It's only 5:45, and some ominous sounding proto-language is already emerging from Future Leader's bedroom, so I'm not sure I'll have time to discuss the whole chapter.... Let's see if I can get him down for another 45 minutes....

So far, so good.

I should say that coming down on one side of an antinomy "always works," in the sense that there is no mere mental argument that can't be countered by its opposite. In other words, so long as you are on the mental level, anything you can prove can be equally disproved. While this should spell the end of the prestige of the lower mind, many otherwise intelligent people get stuck at this level, either believing nothing or believing in some limited philosopher such as Wittgenstein. It doesn't matter who the philosopher is, as the deeper purpose of a secular philosophy is to serve as a sort of "transitional object" for the purposes of security, or predictablity, or to appear wise in one's own eyes.

But as Schopnhauer wrote, "For the man who studies to gain insight, books are merely rungs of the ladder on which he climbs to the summit of knowledge, but the many who study in order to fill their memory do not use the rungs of the ladder for climbing, but take them off and load themselves with them to take them away, rejoicing at the increasing weight of the burden. They remain forever below, because they bear what should have bourne them."

Grrrrrr! This is impossible. He's up. We'll have to continue this later.

On to some light denkeeping, which I can do with "la-la-la-LA, la-la-la-LA, Elmo's World" echoing in the background.

I have been invited to join Pajamas Media, which I suppose will bring more attention to our largely secret gnocturnal world. As such, I was rather ambivalent about the matter, but consulted with two most senior Coons -- one of whom is known to you but prefers to operate in anonymity, "behind the veil" -- and got the go-ahead.

My main concern is exposing these ideas to those who are bound to mis- or disunderstand them. Naturally, some people will stagger in from the k->old and be pleased to drink from the pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, while bitter flatlanders such as Q will pompously barge in with their narrow agendas and try to turn this into an argument clinic, or accuse me of operating the blog as a form of ego grandiosity as opposed to my benign Coon mercy, which tends to be infinite but not without a dollop of sternness. As such, I'm guessing that I will be relying more upon my fellow Coons to set these folks straight.

Remember, a Coon is never angry, much less querulous or petty. True, out of a Coon's keyboard goes a sharp sword with which we smite the trolls and correct them with a rod of iron. But we always do so in a laughty atmasphere of affable gallantry, which is to say we good-naturedly mock them, for being laughed at is the one thing the pompous cannot tolerate.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What We Have is a Failure to Communicate

Now, there was a time not too long ago that I wasn't a writer, and I would still never presume that I am. Rather, I am always struggling to reach the level from which language arises -- or more properly, descends.

In fact, that's the hard part. We're not just talking about the distinction between "facts" and "prose," or information and rhetoric. Rather, especially when writing about spiritual matters, one must always pursue the impossible task of trying to make language conform to the object -- or Subject -- under discussion, an inexhaustible subject-object that must always elude exact description, even though it can definitely be described with exactitude.

This presupposes an ability to clearly perceive an object that transcends the physical senses. But once perceived, there is still the matter of avoiding using language in such a way that one distorts, misleads, or misinforms. Much "God talk" is just so much worthless and annoying pneumababble at best; even if technically "accurate," it is undermind and certainly heart as a result of the absence of radiance, beauty, rhythm, harmony, majesty, and other linguistic categories that transmit knowledge of God in a more direct and unmediated way -- very much in the manner that music conveys information about the very same object that it is.

In other words -- or notes -- a great work of music is at once a profound object and profound information about the object: ultimately, there is no describing the music outside its own unfolding description of itself. Thus, the musical object simultaneously elucidates and demonstrates, as do all objects.

That is, objects always "stand for something else," and are therefore language even before they are objects. No, they are objects because they are language, a language that may be read and understood by subjects. Put another way, if objects were merely objects, not only would knowledge of them be impossible, but there could be no subjects in the cosmos. There would be nobodies to say nothing about anything, just like a leftist humanities department.

This is what proper language of God should accomplish: to make spirit experientially "present" even while discussing or describing it. To the extent that words fail to do this, then they will remain on the plane of mere mental knowledge, or of (k). When writing or thinking about God, we should always be in the mode of O-->(k). (An important exception apples to revelation, which is a form of "special k" that we will discuss later.)

Especially when commune-icating with and about God -- one might add, "obviously" -- there is the spirit and the letter, and one can never do so without being especially mindful of the former. For example, this is why atheists are not only wrong about God, but not even wrong, for it cannot be ungnosised that their coarse language is inadequate to the lofty subject it can never reach. Truly, they are like the tone deaf person who dismisses musical beauty just because they can neither hear nor express it.

Put another way, if one truly understands and appreciates the capability of language to store and convey immaterial spiritual qualities, this poses an insurmountable obstacle to atheism, if only because there is no materialistic/Darwinian theory that will ever account for this mysterious property of language. The moment a Darwinian struggles to express his ideas in an elegant and aesthetically satisfying way, he is no longer a Darwinian. To the extent that he believes that truth is what one is ethically bound to believe -- just as good is what one is obligated to do -- he is no atheist.

Let us stipulate what is not a tautology -- that Truth is truth, and that it is mankind's unending task to make the one conform to the other. Whenever anyone -- even an atheist -- says anything, he is presupposing a universe in which a thing called "truth" may be encoded and passed from mind to mind through a medium called language. These are huge presuppositions, and only serve to re-emphasize the crudity of the atheist mind. Unless an atheist is an abject nihilist, then he doesn't have the courage of his absence of convictions.

For example, what can it mean that a thing called truth may be encoded in vibrating air molecules or squiggles on paper in such a way that they "cause" a state called "understanding" in the consciousness of another? What kind of causation is this? And is there any materialistic philosophy that can account for it? When you deeply comprehend a profound truth, is it really no different than kicking a can, or is this just so much philosophical cant that should have been given the boot long ago?

Consciousness is the interior of the cosmos. Like the exterior, it has form, structure, content, laws, levels, and modes. You might say that these more or less stable (but subtle) characteristics are the "exterior of the interior," just as the platonic realm of pure mathematics (or biological archetypes, for that matter) represents the "interior of the exterior" cosmos. Ultimately, both the interior and exterior converge upon, and are reflections of, the One.

In other words and numbers, there is a reason why the equations that describe the deep structure of the physical world are beautiful -- and in fact, could never be ugly, or "less than beautiful." Such a thing would be strictly inconceivable in any ponderable universe (which any universe must be), just as accurate information about God could never be ugly (one a priori reason why we know that the Islamists, Chopras, and Sharptons are so misgodded).

The philosopher of science Stanley Jaki refers to the problem of "a facile acceptance of phrases and perspectives which are imposed by the consensus as starting points with no further questions asked." In the end, one way or the other, the philosopher "will have to bring in through the back door the very objects the use of which his starting point failed to justify" -- e.g., objects infused with truth, and a consciousness that ardently seeks to understand truth and cause it to exist in other truth-loving subjects.

Most philosophies are intellectually closed systems, the conclusions of which are truly "foregone," as they are packed into the hidden assumptions with which the philosopher has started his errant quest. Needless to say, the growth of knowledge can only take place in an open system, in which truth is conveyed from mind to mind in the manner described above.

Or let us say that the mind is either an open system or a closed one; if the latter, then knowledge and truth are impossible; if the former, then knowledge involves "truth calling out to truth." It would also mean that the "book of nature" is indeed just that: it is full of truth just waiting to be unpacked by minds steeped in truth -- no, that are truth.

To emphasize the point: either the mind is truth (among other things, including beauty) or it is nothing. And either nature has an Author whose hands are all over it, or nature is an atheist who conveys nothing to nobody, so who cares?

The first and last Truth is that truth inheres in both objects and the subjects who understand it and cause understanding in others. As Jaki points out, "This truth cannot be evaded, let alone refuted, because the refutation itself is an act of communication, an implicit falling back on [the] objective means whereby alone can other [minds] be reached."


Damn, I was just about to finally stream into my linguistic deustinocean, and now Future Leader is stirring. I'm still trying to find the time to find the words to rescribe what they are, to say the most. Mañana. In betweentime, don't let the headbugs bite!

The jazz musician goes onto the stage hoping to have an encounter with music. He knows that the music is there (it always is), but this meeting depends not only on knowledge but on openness.... It is a discrimination against mechanical pattern, against habit, for surprise, against easy virtuosity, for saying more with less, against facile emotion, for a certain quality of energy, against stasis, for flow.... [It is] an attempt, over and over, to reveal the heart of things. --Keith Jarrett

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My God Can Beat Up Your Godlessness

First of all, a collective thank you for the chorus of medical advoices, everything from herbs & spices to medical intuitives to inclined beds. I've had no time to carefully sift through or coonsider any of it, but I will. Although I am an unreserved advocate of the white man's medicine, I am not at all averse to alternative approaches as an adjunct. As a matter of fact, the vascular physician I consulted with yesterday thought I might even be too drug happy. That is, with my diabetes, I am extremely proactive, and take certain medications before it is even necessary to do so.

But not only did he find absolutely nothing wrong with the sturdy Gagdad vascular system, he was extremely impressed with my diabetic control. He said it would probably be another couple of months before he would see a patient with an A1c in my range (mid 5s). (This is a critical number for diabetics, as it indicates the average blood sugar level during the previous three months. It's very difficult to get A1c under my range without risking dangerous lows.) My goal is to exert strict control until the day they either come out with a pump that mimics the pancreas (which will probably be less than ten years) or perfect beta cell transplants or regeneration.

(Speaking of the latter, just look at the shockingly deceptive way this leftist writer handles this good news for diabetics, taking a gratuitous swipe at President Bush while misleading the reader that this breakthrough with adult stem cells has something to do with embryonic stem cells [now edited out, but still containing a misleading reference to a non-existent "debate" in Washington about adult stem cells]. This is why I despise the left: the agenda always comes first. Truth is of no consequence whatsoever.)

I don't mean to get sidetracked into a post about my various symptoms, but I should have been more specific. It's not the cold resulting from the vasoconstriction that bothers me so much, but I started having the opposite problem alternating with it -- excessive vasodilation in the extremities. Whereas the cold is just cold, the vasodilation is kind of uncomfortable. It's like the capillaries can't decide on a nice middle range. But the doc assured me that it was clinically insignificant and even subtly implied -- or at least I picked it up with my Coon scent -- that Dear Leader was a bit of a hypochondriac.

But as I have written before, Dear Leader does indeed have many mysterious and diverse symptoms that come and go, not all of them unpleasant, including the ability to wake up blogging out of a sound sleep.


Now, what is the best philosophy? That question popped into my noggin this morning, and it does have direct relevance to what we were discussing yesterday regarding language. For the best philosophy would necessarily encompass the best linguistic theory, if only because any philosophy must be stored and transmitted in the medium of language. Therefore, if your philosophy of language is off, then your entire philosophy will be built on sand.

Put another way, is it possible for human beings to build a philosophy on "solid rock," so to speak? To actually arrive at the "One True Philosophy" that cannot not be true? Yes, I believe so -- and believing so is one of the things that immediately sets one apart from any middlebrow postmodern lie-roasted wackademia nut. Contrary to the caviling Dr. Qi, we have no objection whatsoever to any postmodernist who believes in absolute Truth that may be known by the naturally supernatural intellect. I fully acknowledge my ignorance in this arena, and will be grateful if Dr. Qi can point us in the direction of any such postmodernists.

Speaking of the pretentiously vacuous Dr. Qi, he keeps suggesting that there is something valuable about postmodern philosophy that has eluded Coons, something that would presumably contribute to our wisdom, our happiness and our salvation. But the evasive rascal won't say what it is. Rather, he simply critiques our views, which in itself sounds suspiciously postmodern, since postmodernism is an intensely skeptical and even paranoid enterprise -- after all, it does advocate the "hermeneutics of suspicion" -- that knows only how to question but not build anything meaningful or enduring. If it has built something meaningful -- a timeless religion, a precious institution, an unsurpassable book of wisdom -- I would certainly like to know what it is, for I am no an ideologue -- I take truth where I can find it, and I only advocate "what works" -- i.e., what is spiritually efficacious.

You will notice that the left generally tears down or appropriates but does not build, for the very reason that it is infused with the cynical spirit of postmodernism. For example, instead of attacking a wonderful institution such as the Boy Scouts, why doesn't the left simply invent ther own version of the Boy Scouts, built around leftist principles instead of traditional manly virtues? It is my view -- and I assume the general view of Coons -- that the Boy Scouts is not intended to be a place to scout for boys. But if a leftist wants to have an institution that teaches impressionable young men that homosexuality is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle, then why not form such a group? Why the intolerance toward those of us who believe that adolescent boys -- because of cosmic laws inscribed in nature -- require noble and virtuous heterosexual male role models in order to become proper men? The very notion that "obeying the cosmic law" has something to do with so-called "homophobia" is strict nonsense.

Perhaps Dr. Qi will correct us with some actual examples instead of merely critiquing our view, but it is my opinion that postmodernism, as a general movement, has contributed nothing to human wisdom, happiness, or virtue -- which, along with salvation, are all that really counts in a philosophy. I cannot think of any postmodernist idea that I rely upon to govern my life -- or, if there is such an idea, I am quite certain that it is better expressed in one of the great revelations. But the entire idea of "revelation" is completely unacceptable to postmodernism. Rather, there are no privileged texts, much less timelessly true texts authored or inspired by an ontologically real transcendent source.

I don't care what religion you are, but assuming it is rooted in an orthodox vertical revelation and "extended" in a sound horizontal tradition, it is going to be profoundly true and truly profound in a way that no postmodern philosophy can ever be. Christianity, Judaism, Vedanta, Taoism, even Buddhism -- each of these embodies a core of timeless wisdom that far surpasses anything postmodernism has ever produced. Michel Foucault will not be read in 1,000 years. In fact, I know of no serious person who reads him today, except as a perverse curiosity. Just look at how the man lived -- which we will not get into here, since this is a family blog.

But real wisdom -- wisdom emanating from the religio perennis -- is both horizontally effective and vertically transformative. It also embodies standards and ideals which do not come down to our level, but which we must elevate ourselves to understand and to live. Would anyone suggest that you must elevate yourself in order to live out the "Foucault ideal?" Yes, I suppose some Qi theorist would. Conversely, are there really a great number of pomofessors at elite universities who teach the spiritual truism that virtue is the mark, the seal, and the guarantor of wisdom? Examples, please.

Dilys left us a quote yesterday by David Thompson: "This is the legacy of postmodern thought, as trafficked by many academics of the left -- the ‘freedom’ to blunt the senses and be triumphantly, shamelessly wrong."

Yes, postmodernism is simply a game. Now, I have no objection to games, but the problem with postmodernism is that it has no rules except that there are no rules. For we may only know the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in the nonlocal light of their relationship to the Absolute. In other words, there is no meaningful game for humans -- in fact, no game at all -- in the absence of the Absolute. Therefore, the existence of the Absolute -- or O -- is "rule one" in any functioning philosophy. Remove the Absolute, and you have pulled the rug out from under your own wigged-out philosophy -- and that is a hair-raising reality for these bald-faced liars.

This applies not only to postmodernists, but to any philosophy, for, as the Catholic philosopher of science and baseball, Stanley Jaki, points out, you cannot get to second base before you have touched first base. Intellectually larcenous postmodernists are under the illusion that it is possible to "steal second base." They entirely take for granted the fact that it is only because they ungratefully pee in the stream of the Judeo-Christian West that first base has been safely secured by our precious intellectual tradition. They sit out on a limb that they imagine is independent of that religious tradition, but postmodernism is a deeply reactionary and parasitic philosophy that appears as an inevitable but perverse "possibilty" in an intellectually Christianized world.

Now, there is nothing wrong with being a "relativist." It all depends upon that to which one is a relative. The problem with postmodernism is that it is "relative to nothing," which isn't actually relativism, but a bizarre form of absolute nihilism. The relative plane only exists because it is relative to the Absolute. This is an example of another religious truth that "cannot not be." And it is why the First Commandment is the first commandment: I am your God, and you shall have no other gods before me. For if you have any god other than the one God, or any absolute other than the Absolute, your philosophy is ultimately worthless.

Because the relative plane inheres in the light of the Absolute, there exist qualities. Again, given the necessary structure of cosmic existence, qualities, or degrees of being and perfection, cannot not exist. But the qualities are not merely arbitrary, as argued by postmodernists. Rather, qualities only exist because they represent degrees of being on an absolute scale. Is this not obvious? No, it is not obvious. I was never taught this in the 12-odd years I meanderthralled my way through the higher educational establishment. No one told me that absolute truth of necessity exists absolutely, and that the plane of maya represents a vertical scale of intelligible being, in which it is our task -- the task of our life -- to rise up, rung by rung -- but always accompanied by the perfections of virtue. Or if they did, I was absent that day.

Damn, I'm really getting sidetracked, for I had intended to explain why Christianity provides such a vastly superior linguistic theory than any postmodern sophistry. I hope to get to that tomorrow.

Without belief in God, without belief that the truth is real, is in him, all our attempts to "tell the truth" become no more than stories told for human purposes -- to persuade, to comfort, to stake claims, to build power -- but none of them means anything, or, more accurately, means anything else. Behind the images and metaphors of paintings and poems, behind the patterns of music and verse, behind the imagined characters of novels and plays, there is no mysterious depth of meaning, there is nothing. And yet, a child of four knows what a lie is and knows what a story is and knows that they are not the same. --Lucy Beckett

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Logophobia of the Left

Not much time this morning. Let's see what we can cover before it's too soon. I have an early morning doctor's appointment, followed by my day gig.

Speaking of which, any other Coons out there have Reynaud's phenomenon? It's pretty common. It's where your peripheral vascular system goes haywire and makes your hands and feet cold all the time. In my case, I guess it's pretty mild. I looked it up on line, and they showed photos of some bad cases, in which the digits turn either white as a sheet or dark blue because of the lack of blood and oxygen. Mine's nothing like that. Ran it by my endo, but he's useless -- said words to the effect of, "well, it's not my fingers, so frankly I'm not that interested" -- so I thought I'd check with an actual vascular specialist, just to make sure there's nothing I can do about it. Usually it's idiopathic, meaning that the idiots don't know what causes it, although diabetics often have cold extremities. Generally it's just a nuisance, but it would be nice to be able to do something about it.

Anyway, neocoon James picked up on what we was puttin' down yesterday about language, and commented that

'The need to reduce everything to something measurable is fine as far as measurable things go, but what factsimians don't appreciate is that so much of the cosmos cannot be measured at all. I just wanted to point out that this idea applies to many areas considered non-spiritual. For example, how do you measure education, or pornography? I've met many people who consider themselves educated and intelligent. They have taken all the tests, and they have the skills that are measured, but frankly they are complete dinks. I work in higher education and the stereotypes are true. It seems that they have focused on skills that can be tested and measured and haven't really thought about the big picture....

"This trend to measure everything and if it can't be measured or defined precisely then it isn't important creates other problems in society besides the loss of all things spiritual.... What about the loss of human judgment? I think a lot of trouble with our legal system comes from people following the rules and ignoring good judgment or common sense. I'm not suggesting we ignore empirical evidence and return to the dark ages, but we have gone too far the other way. Perhaps the pendulum has reached the limit of its empirical swing, and now it's time to swing back towards human judgment. We need a healthy balance, or a recognition that trying to measure the unmeasurable is folly. The factsimian mindset threatens civilization the same way anti-rational Islamists threaten society. We see one clearly, because we have the lens of history. The other we see darkly because we are living it right now."

Much to ponder here, for James has brought awareness to the ultimate "wedge issue," that is, the wedge that modernity placed between language and essences, or between immanence and transcendence. You might say that modernity initially drove in the wedge, but that the postmodernists pounded it all the way in with the axe, thus splitting the log right down the center of the logos.

This gets to the very heart of the luciferian program of the left, for once you have mauled language in this way -- once you have shattered the sacred covenant between word and thing, whether that thing is a material object or immaterial essence -- you have created a linguistic tyranny that clears the way for political tyranny. America could never have even been founded had the framers not had an unproblematic grasp of "self-evident" immaterial essences such as liberty, private property, and other rights that inhere "in the nature of things."

Put another way, almost everything objectionable about the left begins with an assault on human language, which is not this or that specific language, but our very means of access to a transcendent realm charged with the noetic light of the Other. This simply cannot be overemphasized, for it explains the specific way in which revelation is "eternally true," whereas any form of materialism is "eternally false" -- including secular leftism a priori. You will have noticed, however, that leftism must always -- always -- misappropriate and piggyback on this or that liberal or religious truth, truth that it covertly denies at the outset.

To cite just one obvious example, the use of the the state to force "homosexual marriage" upon us obviously has nothing to do with promoting marriage but destroying its very foundation -- including, of course, its linguistic foundation. "Marriage" is a word that actually means something, both literally and spiritually, which is to say, a sacred union between a Man and a Woman. Therefore, anyone with a remnant of common sense -- anyone not already infected by leftism -- knows without thinking about it that homosexuals cannot marry for the same reason that a baseball player cannot kick a field goal. A classical liberal would affirm that homosexuals are free to invent most any form of human arrangement they wish, but they cannot marry without forever destroying both the literal word and the very real -- but "invisible" -- spiritual state it signifies.

But you will also notice that the illiberal left steals another classical liberal concept in order to undermine the meaning of marriage, which is equality. Because of the abuse of language, the illiberal leftist does not mean the same thing as the liberal does by the term "equality." For the classical liberal, equality before the law inevitably redounds to hierarchy, whereas to the leftist, the natural hierarchy that emerges from equality represents de facto inequality, so that full equality must therefore involve the destruction of all hierarchy.

I hope you're getting the point, and that this is not too abstract, for it is a key idea. For the illiberal leftist, "equivalence" is substituted for equality, so that all of the good things that result from equality -- for degrees of goodness can only manifest in a hierarchy of values -- must be undone by a heavy-handed state to enforce equivalence, thereby undermining excellence. The redefinition of marriage is just one example. Due to various anxiety-provoking psychosexual mind parasites that have always been with us, the left hates the idea that men and woman are equal but not equivalent. Therefore, a major part of their perverse agenda is the effacement of sexual differences and the invention of the concept of "gender." Once everyone is a gender and no longer a sex, they are equivalent. And once the sexes are equivalent, then "homosexual marriage" is no different than marriage properly so-called.

To say that my metaphysics has nothing whatsoever to do with "homophobia" should be obvious to all. But it isn't. To further abuse the language -- and use it to further abuse others -- the left invented a new word, "homophobia," with which to club anyone who does not bend over before their rigid agenda. Which only emphasizes that the illiberal leftist obviously believes in hierarchy, just not a natural one. Rather, they wish to impose their hierarchy on the rest of us, always with the assistance of a powerful state that Knows Best.

This ubiquitous pattern of language abuse by the illiberal left was described by Michael Polanyi back in the 1940s. First, undermine the possibility of truth and meaning, so that there is no way to arbitrate between competing "truth claims." Next, seize positions of power in order to arbitrarily impose your own truth. This is how the academy was successfully taken over by people who do not believe in any truth except the one they impose on others and enforce through the mechanisms of speech codes, political correctness, and denial of tenure to those who do not conform. Free scholarship is replaced by all sorts of mechanisms of coercion. You may not be aware of the coercion until you step outside the bounds of what is acceptable, as we see in the global warming debate.

I only have some peripheral awareness of what this idiot Imus is going through. First of all, Imus' greatest offense is that he is an idiot, not a racist. That there are people who do not notice his idiocy mystifies me. In any event, he is now being ground up by the machinery of the compassionate left for using words in such a way that they do not approve.

But of just what abuse of language can the left disapprove in good faith? Do they disapprove of racial animus? Hardly. The Democrats could not even be a functioning party without guilt-ridden whites who gain power by shamelessly exploiting and caricaturing blacks as helpless and dependent children. Are they opposed to degenerate language? Hardly. In most any other context, they celebrate linguistic depravity as "courage," "authenticity," or "being real." Are they opposed to disgusting depictions of blacks as sex-crazed animals and ghetto hos? Er, I don't think so. I have never heard a leftist attack the generally debased world of rap and hip hip (I know, I know, there are exceptions), let alone with the sort of frenzy with which they are piling on the useless Imus.

But this whole pecadillo begs the question, for if language is just a "play of signifiers," what does it matter what anyone says? Certainly this is always the first defense of any prominent leftist who says something vile, which they only do every day. They immediately skirt the content by emphasizing that they are simply patriots engaging in that highest of callings, dissent. If dissent is the highest form of patriotism, why can't Imus just say that he is dissenting from the PC mind control of the left? For one thing, he's too stupid and probably not devious enough to think in that way.

Unlike the left. A couple of weeks ago, Rosie O'Donnell said something far more hateful, implicitly accusing the United States of blowing up the World Trade Centers -- including all the blacks therein. And in her case, it wasn't even a stupid joke. When called on it, she shifted the debate from the insanely vile content of what she said to the noble process in which she had been engaged, and lashed back at those who would dominate and oppress her in her free pursuit of truth!

Damn. Future Leader is stirring. We'll have to continue this line of thought tomorrow. Just ponder this disgusting non-apology by Rosie O'Donnell -- not just the words, but the abuse of language:

--"9/11 affected me deeply, as I know it did many Americans."

Wow, nothing gets past you, does it! Next:

--"The falling of the twin towers served to remind me that many of the assumptions Americans have about their lives are rooted in false feelings of security. "

Hmm. That's an odd thing to be reminded of when people are jumping to their death from a hundred floors up. Where's she going with this? "Assumptions rooted in false feelings of security." Is she talking about our denial of the evils of contemporary Islam? I guess I'm on board.

--"In light of this reminder, I have begun doing exactly what this country, at its best, allows for me to do: inquire. Investigate."

I see. Very good. So you've been reading the Koran, logging onto, checking out Little Green Footballs, that kind of thing?

"America is great in so many ways, one of which is the freedom to speak, and indeed think, freely."

Indeed. But you sound a little defensive. What does this have to do with accusing the American government of attacking its own citizens on 9-11?

--"I have, of late, begun exercising the rights bestowed upon me by the democratic system I value, and the exercising of these rights has taken the form of an inquiry into what happened five years ago, an inquiry that resists the dominant explanations and that dares to entertain ideas that push me to the edge of what is bearable."

Wo, wo, slow down, sister. Are you suggesting that you're not really a vicious and paranoid hater and kook, but a daring intellectual adventerer who refuses to be dominated by racistsexisthomophobicwhiterethuglicanoppressors and is courageously skirting the edge of unbearable truth? Is that it?

--"I have come to no conclusions and, given the scope of the subject, will not for some time."

Sounds like you've concluded that you'd better shut your piehole about your daring discoveries in order to appease your corporate oppressors and keep your job.

--"If the very act of asking is so destabilizing for people, than I have to wonder whether the fabric of our democracy is indeed so raveled it is beyond salvage."

I see. The people who are exercising their free speech by questioning your sanity are "destabilized" and evidence that our system is beyond repair. Would it surprise you to learn that your continuing presence on national TV is prima faeces evidence of a liberal news media establishment so lacking in credibility or even basic decency that is broken beyond repair?

--"My own belief is that the act of asking is itself reparative, because it brings to life the values on which our constitution rests."

But why then isn't questioning your evil ideas reparative?

--"I am, therefore, pledging my allegiance, hand over heart, trying, as always, for a rigorous truth."

The news-speak credo of the leftist MSMistry of Truth. Pledge allegiance to the Truth you have spent your life undermining.

Not so strange bedfellows and well-fed bellowers: Rosie O'Donnell, New York Times Honored For Liberal Bias By GLAAD.

More on Imus, the decay of language, and the lost art of really insulting someone. Dupree is taking notes.

More on the disorder of Rosie crass and other fascists.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Tone Deaf Factsimians and Their Haudible Godlessness (4.19.09)

(written in haste -- forgive typos)

Needless to say, I am not impressed with the cognitive firepower of the militant atheist crowd, who strike me as being a few nails shy of a Palestinian ghetto blaster. In fact, in the absence of God, there is no reason to be impressed by anyone or anything, since 1) there is nothing we can know with certainty, 2) loveliness and beauty are simply illusions of the nervous system, and 3) believing untruth is morally indistinguishable from believing truth, since there is no ground for truth or morality anyway.

In London there was a recent debate on the motion, "We'd be better off without religion" (TW: Walt). On one side were three passionate atheists -- including Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens -- on the other, three rather lukewarm sounding theists. They took a vote on the motion both before and after the debate. The vote before was 826 votes for the motion, 681 against, and 364 don't knows; at the end, there were 1,205 for, 778 against and 103 don't knows. In short, the number of people who felt we would be better off without religion started with a substantial majority which increased rather dramatically as a result of the debate.

Very well, then. It's official. God doesn't exist. An angry Marxist writer said so.

Cicero wrote that to not know what happened before you were born is to remain a child forever. Likewise, the ubiquitous problem with these clever atheists is that they haven't read the minutes of the last philosophical meeting -- or any meetings, for that matter. They actually believe that they are starting their inquiry into existence afresh, with no preconceptions borrowed -- or stolen is more like it -- from religion and metaphysics. They might look clever, but they are actually what I call "factsimians," that is, humans who reduce truth to fact and therefore sink beneath their humanness and want to pull you down with them.

Now, as I mentioned at the top, I am impressed neither with the intelligence of the atheists (for intelligence is not intelligent where it "knows" falsehood) nor with any of their arguments, which are all "beneath" the level of that which they are discussing. In other words, we are dealing with the question of "adequation," since the basis of all knowledge is conformity between subject and object. There are empirical questions for which adequation is not particularly problematic, although there are obviously areas where our senses do deceive us -- for example, the sun does not circle the earth.

Then again, perhaps it does. Our naked sense impressions tell us that the earth is the center of the universe and that the sun does indeed circle it. However, rational scientific knowledge tells us that our senses deceive us, and that the earth actually revolves around the sun. However, if we adopt a post-Einsteinian view, it would be equally accurate to say that both views are correct -- just as it is equally correct to say that the earth "falls" to the apple, or that when we drive someplace, our destination arrives at us.

The rational view of the solar system tells us that our senses deceive us and that the earth is not the center of the universe. However, if we transcend mere 19th century scientific rationalism and consider the "post-rational" metaphysics of quantum cosmology, then we understand that the mystics are correct in their unanimous view that the center of the cosmos is both everywhere and nowhere -- or, to paraphrase St. Augustine, the cosmos is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference nowhere. Philosophically, this is an instance of "returning to the beginning and knowing the joint for the first time," for the premodern Augustine is perfectly in accord with postmodern quantum theory.

I am hardly anti-Science, but if we want to know God, we can just as well "cut out the middle man" of all of the intervening "-isms" down through the centuries -- empiricism, rationalism, positivism, materialism, Darwinism, what have you -- and, like Augustine, use pure metaphysics to arrive at universal theological truths that cannot not be. This is why no discovery of science will ever disprove the existence of God. To the contrary, to the extent that science converges on truth, then it is converging on Truth, which is to say, God. God does not embrace falsehood, whether scientific or religious.

Therefore, whether they care to hear it or not, the scientist's passionate quest for truth is a religious one, so that, with regard to the above debate, "God won." In fact, I would have to read the transcript, but it is even possible that if the theists had won, then God would have lost -- just as the theists win every debate in the Islamic world, thereby defeating God. Likewise, any small victory of Reason in the Islamic world constitutes a rare victory for God in that God-forsaken part of the world.

Now, the fact of the matter is exactly as Schuon says it is: if everyone were capable of understanding metaphysics, there would be no atheists. But they aren't and there are. I do not have to read the transcripts of the debate to know that these atheists are not philosophers properly so-called, and that they do not understand metaphysics. Rather, they're just "clever guys" -- perhaps even "very clever guys" -- with an inevitably incoherent metaphysic that knows how to aggressively and even cynically interrogate, but not how to comprehend, for comprehension takes place on a vertical plane, the existence of which subverts their entire argument.

But this is what atheists do -- the clever ones, anyway -- for it is what all intellectuals do. Because they are clever, they are very good at understanding and internalizing the fashionable abstractions of the day. As a result, they tend to live in their abstractions, and there is no theory more abstract than atheism, for it superimposes an ultimately sterile dogma over the mystery of being. While this ground of being is a mystery, it is not an absurdity because it is infused with the very same logos that illuminates the mind and allows us to comprehend it. We see beauty or know truth because both are logos calling out to logos. To paraphrase George Steiner, if all of the religious loans made to science were called in at once, there would be no science left standing. Most notably, science cannot operate without the principles of transcendent truth and the objective mind capable of knowing -- and loving -- it, for truth is not pursued for its own sake, but because it partakes of the beautiful and the good.

Atheism is not just "ignorance of God," but it inevitably redounds to ignorance of everything, since God is the seal of truth. To cite several obvious example, scientific materialism cannot tell us anything about what energy, or life, or consciousness actually are -- but this does not mean that they do not exist or that humans cannot know what they are by other means, for we have reliable testimony that they are three aspects that converge upon the same entity, sat-chit-ananda, or being-consciousness-bliss. You could proclaim this to a scientific audience, but it would have no meaning within the constraints of the abstract paradigm they superimpose upon reality in order to reduce it to scientific understanding -- which is to say, measurable quantities. You could also say that life is to matter as mind is to brain as God is to existence, but it wouldn't mean much to a scientistic atheist.

In his Ideas Have Consequences, Richard Weaver summarizes the situation; I am paraphrasing from memory, but he wrote that without imagination the world is simply a brute fact -- there is nothing to spiritualize it. In the scientistic flight from the center to the periphery, one becomes lost in details which cannot be integrated in a holistic way. This "downward pull" puts an end to ideational life, as the resultant fragmentation leads to an obsession with parts, and with it, an inability to intuit the whole. Hyper-specialization leads to a kind of cognitive deformity, as the world shrinks in proportion to our quantification of it. As a pathetic compensation, modern man is puffed up with the vanity of being able to describe some minute portion of the world, but this is merely postmodern provincialism of the most naive sort. In the end, the separation of knowledge from religion is the separation of facts and knowledge from the metaphysics that explains them and gives them meaning.

Elsewhere Weaver observed (it is possbible that these are my own notes, not his exact words) that “Truth is an antecedent reality perceived by the intellect and not the senses," and that "immersion in matter makes man unfit to deal with the problems of matter. Facts are substituted for truth, but there is no knowledge at the level of sensation. Facts do not speak for themselves and experience cannot tell us what we are experiencing. The world is our primary datum, but we do not end our days with a wealth of sense impressions.”

But this is how science -- which should be the pursuit of universal truth -- evolves into metaphysical scientism, which denies universals transcending experience, and therefore ends in bonehead relativism. Put another way, science reduces the world to a coherent absurdity, while metaphysics expands it into a coherent non-absurdity. And there is no reason to take anyone seriously who believes existence to be absurd, since anything they can say will be equally absurd. And no one is more proudly absurd than the atheist.

Now, one of the reasons it is pointless to debate the existence of God is that higher realties do not stand out except to those who stand in them. Perhaps an analogy will be helpful. I subscribe to Stereophile magazine, which is the Bible of high-end audio. Some of the equipment they review is insanely expensive, and there is a never-ending debate in the audio community between the "ears" and the "engineers" as to whether the sonic differences detected by the reviewers actually exist. For example, the official view of a rag such as Consumer Reports is that there is no discernible difference in sound quality between a cheap CD player and an expensive one. Rather, the only issue that counts is reliability. Otherwise you're just wasting your money. Not only that, but you're probably either a fool or a mystagogue -- just like someone who believes in God without any empirical evidence.

In many ways, a debate between atheists and theists is between ears and engineers. Regarding the audio debate, the engineers imagine that there must be some kind of formal test or instrument that can objectively measure and quantify the supposed musical differences. However, as John Atkinson notes in the latest issue, "the very act of such testing appears to minimize the listener's detection of things that can be disturbingly audible under more relaxed conditions." In other words, "too often it is as if the listener is being asked to distinguish between subtle color casts on photographic prints while a bright light is shone in his eyes."

You could set up a double blind study, and rapidly shift back and forth between one sound system and another, but this hasn't the slightest relevance, because this is not the way we listen to music. While you might be able to detect sonic differences between the two, you would probably not be able to detect musical differences -- and those are the only ones that matter. To really tell the difference, you must immerse yourself in musical experience, which means "spending ample time engrossed in music that stirs [your] soul."

Since I know a little bit about audio and most people know nothing, friends will occasionally ask me for recommendations when they want to purchase a component. But I can no more answer this question than if someone were to ask, "what religion should I be? I don't want to waste time looking for God. Just tell me where he is, so I can get on with it."

But just as you can have sound with no musicality, you can have religion with no God. The other day I did an audio comparison between the new CD reissue of the American version of Rubber Soul and my audiophile vinyl pressing. But there was "no comparison." While the CD sounds very good, the vinyl just came alive. It did something to me, something tangibly real but undoubtedly immeasurable. There was an additional dimension that I am quite sure no scientific instrument would ever be able to detect. For it was a vivid quality of "life" or "presence" that I felt in my rubbery soul, not in my concrete ears.

Atheists try to listen for God with their scientific instruments, when He can only be heard with discerning ears.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter's Unday

(Warning: don't try to make sense of this post, or you might miss its absence of a point. I certainly did.)


That's a coincidence. As you might recoil, yesternow we were in the mist of discussing the secret religionship between trauma and spiritual opening, and here it is, the religious unday of them all, the sonny dei that commemorates the undoing of what was did way back when, on that dark and sinny day in the park. Remama? You know the one. Around Eve, it was. We wouldn't have needed the resurrection if it hadn't a' been for that insurrection in paradise, now would we?

Now that I think about it for the first and possibly last time, Christianity is the only religion that is actually rooted in trauma, for no one -- not even the principle actor -- could know that the "D'oh!" of Good Friday would end in the "Woo hoo!" of Resurrection Sunday.

Or, as I shouted out last year at about this time, "Hooray! Surrection!" In the bread and the brew of life, it's a Hoppy Yeaster to you ale! That ought to get a rise out of you, since he is accompliced by all his adoptees and other sacrificial blood relativities.

But siriusly, speaking of bright stars and fixed lights in the night time sky of history, in order to uppereciate the significance of this day, one must oppreciate the trauma that preceded it -- the utter loss and abandonment. Could this be an uber-metaphor for all spiritual openings?

Boris Mouravieff writes that "When man goes in search of the Way, it generally signifies that something within him has collapsed. Apart from exceptional cases, this collapse is preceded by a reassessment of moral values, which in the searcher's eyes lose the value he had previously given to them. This reassessment itself has been provoked by the accumulation of more or less violent shocks which have given birth to violent emotions."

Paradoxically -- but not really -- Mouravieff notes that for most men, "success and joy, instead of awakening them, plunge them into mental sleep." Thus, "from the esoteric point of view, disagreeable shocks are a better base for work than happy accidents."

For one thing, these shocks will tend to ground you in the sense of humility that is demanded of anyone on the spiritual path. Best to start off broken than to fall from a much greater height later on. For when we fall, we only fall to the ground. And for those who believe themselves to be high above the ground, the height is only in their imagination anyway. Nevertheless, their inevitable fall will feel much more catastrophic when it comes, even if the distance from up there to down here was only in their heart.

Mouravieff writes that unless one is unusually saintly, one will not be able to travel the path of the Way "without first passing through an interior bankruptcy; a moral collapse." Furthermore, "Interior collapse leads to certain consequences." For the person who does not accept the reality of the situation, he turns his back "on the path of Access, and thrust[s] himself further into the wilderness." One form of "wilderness" is most assuredly psycho-spiritual leftism, which constitutes a bogus cure for mankind's collective trauma. It leads nowhere -- certainly not vertically. Rather, it ends up being a further elaboration of, and justification for, man's Fall.

A number of Coons have mentioned recently that they have been undergoing a sort of "reversal," in which worldly things that used to interest and excite them no longer do so. It is not a transformation they have consciously willed, but it is simply happening of its own accord. It seems that this is an inevitable consequence of increasingly living one's life in the light of the Real. In so doing, one no longer takes "mirages for reality." It can also leave one feeling painfully isolated from one's fellows -- from the world, even. Mouravieff reminds us of the following words:

If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world... therefore the world hates you (John 15:18-19. But hey, don't worry about it -- don't get retraumatized all over again -- because I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Come again?

It seems that in some form or fashion, the world itself -- or worldly existence -- is a trauma. In fact, I am reminded of Bion's theory of thinking, which he believed was foisted upon the mind in order to deal with the catastrophic absence of the breast (literally understood metaphorically). If you try to imagine it from the infant's point of view, there is no reason to think so long as he and the breast, the beatific and bountiful source of all life, are at one.

But eventually we make the painful discovery that we are separate from the source. There is a "rent" in the smooth surface of being, as thinking is forced upon the mind, in that infinite gap between mouth and breast. For the liberal, this gap is not tolerated, and is even resented; thus their characteristic absence of thought and the perpetual attempt to resurrect the bountiful breast in the form of the mommy state. Every day is anti-Easter.

Back to the world's hostility. Why is the left so hostile to religion? Perhaps because, as Mouravieff suggests, "if he who lives in the wilderness -- and is satisfied to be there, were he to approve of the attitude of one who walks on the path, it would be equivalent to recognizing his own bankruptcy. The more he progresses with his work, the more he becomes an object of hate."

Therefore, why wouldn't the world crucify Jesus? At the time, Rome certainly represented the world. It had always been and would always be, and it certainly would not tolerate someone who presumed to live -- and taught others how to live -- outside its bounds. But like everything else in the world, Rome had a beginning and an end. Only the one they put to death had an end and a beginning.

For horizontal man, there truly is no exit. The cosmos is a closed circle with no doorway in, up, or out. Or perhaps a doorway in, but certainly no way out short of physical death.

But physical death is not so much a way out as a simple end of the line, a final closing of the circle, a period at the end of the death sentence. Period.

Who was this spiraling Jesus who escaped the circle? In manifesting the celestial nature on earth, he did not seem particularly concerned about making it fully intelligible, at least in words. After all, that's why we're still talking and arguing about it two thousand years later. He simply incarnated his cosmic destiny and largely left it for others to figure out. What did it mean? What could it possibly mean?

Rudolf Steiner wrote that "the secrets of the Mysteries became manifest in Christianity." What secrets? What mysteries?

Today marks a transhistorical, metacosmic day, a day to meditate on timeless truth in its metaphysical transparency. An anonymous Greek Orthodox theologian remarked that "We do not ask whether or not the resurrection happened. It is the horizon in which we live." Dwelling within this vertical horizon is a way to contemplate reality at its deepest level -- a level that is well beyond mere discursive thought. For the Father is the transcendent aspect of God, the Son the immanent aspect. How to reconcile them?

Perhaps they were only ever separated by the veil of death. It is said that upon Jesus’ death, the temple veil was rent vertically from top to bottom. The resurrection is reality unveiled, which is to say reveiled, for it is a mysterious new veil with which to engage reality and to reconcile its ultimate terms. For if your powers of deception were cleansed, nothing would appear as it isn't.

But... Could you shed a little less bobscurity on that?

The Catholic theologian Balthasar wrote that "truth is the unconcealment of being, while... the someone to whom being is unconcealed is God."

In a similar vein, Lucy Beckett writes that "If God does not exist, the transcendent has been wiped away, there is no longer a vertical axis for the human soul, but only a horizontal, that is, a historical, axis for the human mind. More particularly, the vertical never crossed the horizontal in the Carnation."

Nor in us. Now that would be a real trauma, not to mention, folly -- to be up to Greek without any kenosis.

I don't know if any of this is making nonsense. I'll just stop now.

Ascent you a son, amen for a child's job. Telos when it's over. Now. It is accomplished. The circle unbroken, by and by. A godsend for a new beginning, a touch of infanity, a bloomin' yes on a rosy cross.