Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Monuments to Stupidity and Wisdom

The Absolute necessarily shades off into the relative, but at a point that is more or less impossible to identify precisely. Thus, it is difficult to say exactly where orthodoxy turns into heresy, morality turns into immorality, or a true American turns into an anti-American. But in each case, people who fall into the latter categories use the existence of this continuum to argue that the former are illusions and that "all is relative." In turn, this abolishes the idea of sin, since they imagine that they have eliminated any objective standard.

This is a hopelessly unsophisticated ontology, for it assumes that higher realms are mathematical in their precision. In reality, they are not so much like mathematical equations as they are like, say, magnificent granite monuments. The greatest theologians are somewhat like painters who can convey the image of this monument with clarity and certainty, but it is nevertheless an image and not the thing-in-itself.

This is what I meant the other day when I said that revelation is the closest we can come to an objective representation of O. It is like an image of the monument, given by the monument itself. But each person's angle on the monument is necessarily going to be different. If you put thousands of people with cameras at the base of the Matterhorn, the photos are all going to be slightly different -- in other words, there will be the illusion of diversity despite the fact that there is only one Matterhorn. With respect to itself, it is not relative but absolute. Our view of the Absolute is necessarily relative, but only relatively so -- it is "relatively absolute." There is no such thing as absolute relativity.

A photograph is not just a literal translation but a transformation, as is perception itself. To perceive something is to transform an object in such a way that certain abstract coordinates and relationships are preserved, while others are distorted. If you consider the modern art of the early 20th century, for example, artists were attempting to stretch the coordinates between object and image in creative new ways. One could say that James Joyce did the same with language. Instead of trying to use it like a photograph to map reality in a 1:1 manner (which is impossible anyway), he used language in a new "holographic" way, so that it in turn mirrored the hyperdimensional nature of consciousness itself. He was actually using language to alter consciousness in such a way that a new view of reality emerged.

For example, let's take the first sentence of Finnegans Wake, since I happen to know it by heart:

rivverun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

At first blush, this sentence is "nonsense," as it appears to be about "nothing." In other words, it is difficult to apprehend the "object," so to speak, of which this sentence is supposed to be a representation.

Nevertheless, like the object scripture attempts to describe, this sentence is an adequation to a hyperdimensional reality that transcends the senses. This reality is called "history," which in turn is thoroghly entangled with consciousness itself -- the same consciousness that is both the subject and the object of history. For Joyce, history was literally like a dream (or nightmare), in the sense that there is the Dreamer and the dream, but in the end, the two must be one and the same.

Therefore, it is very difficult -- impossible really -- to actually write "straight (or what Joyce called 'wideawake and cutandry') history" and imagine that the historian is not actually its dreamer. We are all in this thing called "history." History surely exists. And yet, we could no more objectively and exhaustively describe it than we could objectively describe the content of a dream. Rather, we can only take our photographs of the Matterhorn.

For one thing, where is the line between the dreamer who dreams the dream and the one who experiences it? In this regard, a dream is very much like a spider's web, which the spider spins out of its own substance and then proceeds to inhabit. Human beings are no different, only on a more abstract plane. Do you really think that the web a leftist spins out of his psychic substance and then inhabits is anything like your web? Or an atheist? Or an Islamist? All of these, in their own way, are completely entangled in a web that they themselves create, become entangled in, and take for reality.

How to extricate oneself from the psychic webs we create? "History," wrote Joyce, "is the nightmare from which I am trying to awaken." When I watched the Democrat debate the other evening, I could see how all of the candidates wear offering their "prescription for a nightmare." The nature of leftism prevents the one and only true cure, which is to say, "just wake up." No. Leftism is the philosophy of creating newer and stronger soporifics in order to keep man asleep. In so doing, it aggravates the symptoms it is supposedly treating, and simply makes the nightmare worse. Plus, people get hooked on leftist prescraptions, and require more and more of them in order to stay asleep, just like an addict.

Furthermore, just as in a mental patient, the more unpleasant reality impinges, the more denial is necessary. Terrorists want to blow up JFK? It's Bush's fault. Zzzzzz. We now see that some one third of Democrats have created a nightmare in which the United States government is actually responsible for 9-11. As it stands, it is probably fair to say that 90% of Democrats believe that the Iraq war was not waged for the reasons so stated by the administration, but for some sinister ulterior purpose that no sane person has yet been able to describe.

I am currently reading an outstanding book entitled A History of the English Speaking Peoples Since 1900, which attempts to be a corrective to all of the noxious deconstruction that really got under way in the 1960s. Back then they called it "revisionist history," which sounds innocent enough but which in reality was highly agenda driven, and attempted to rewrite history in such a way that the English speaking peoples were the bad guys rather than the (literally and repeatedly) saviors of history.

It is interesting how easy it is to trace the roots of today's crazy leftists in a straight line back to their academonic source. For once history is deconstructed, it is very difficult to put it back together again. Thus, the left is operating in an upside down world first made possible by the early revisionists who, among other things, argued that America's founders were just a bunch of greedy white males protecting their economic interests, or that capitalism is pure exploitation instead of an extraordinary liberator of human potential, or that the colonized did not benefit from colonialism, or that America was at fault in the Cold War, or that Roosevelt's economic policies helped rather than aggravated and prolonged the great depression, or that poverty causes crime, or that it was wrong to drop the atom bomb on imperial Japan. These and similar ideas proliferated exactly like a toxin, infecting all of the academic rivers and then flowing downhill into the streams of journalism and politics. When some nutty academic sneezes, rank and file Democrats cognitively die off in droves.

What is so striking about the book is how America has remained constant, while the left has changed so dramatically -- and gained so much cultural power. For example, there is absolutely no moral difference -- none whatsoever -- between the way Roosevelt responded to the fascist threat of his day and the way President Bush is responding the fascist threat of our day. The only difference is that America's motivations have been so undermined by the left, that it is as if we are dealing with two entirely different countries. But when did the "good" America of Roosevelt and the "greatest generation" transmogrify into the evil America of President Bush? It never did. Again, it is exactly the same profoundly decent country. Only the left has changed.

Actually, one other thing that has changed -- for the worse -- is how utterly ruthless men such as Churchill and Roosevelt were in pursuit of their war aims. President Bush doesn't even come close (although one senses that Giuliani could resurrect a bit of this higher ruthlessness). I don't have time to provide examples, but suffice it to say that it boggles the mind how completely ahistorical the left is in this regard. Now, because of the influence of the left, it is almost impossible for us to be as ruthless as we need to be in order to prevail in the struggle against our enemies -- who do not see our lack of ruthlessness as civility but weakness and lack of resolve. Which it is -- that and self-hatred.

If it had come out in 1943 that some German or Japanese soldiers had been mistreated in an American prison camp, I cannot believe that any American would have wasted two seconds thinking about it. So. What. Whatever we did could never approach the barbarity of the Germans, Japanese, and Soviets. And besides, context is everything. There is no moral equivalence whatsover between what America and her enemies do, any more than there is an equivalence between the police and criminals just because they both shoot people.

It is obscene to call waterboarding a terrorist to obtain information that will save innocent lives torture. Absolutely morally obscene. To call Gitmo a "gulag" represents a kind of moral stupidity that is satanic in its implications. One of the most horrific consequences of leftist thought insinuating itself into our discourse it that it prevents one from speaking simple moral truths. It undermines everything -- not just morality, but even the ability to speak about morality. I believe this is because, following Descartes, it elevates our capacity to doubt to the highest wisdom. Thus, it ends up with cynicism as the highest ideal: a philosophy of stupidity, including moral stupidity.

Returning to our original metaphor of the monument and the mountain. The leftist notices the unavoidable fact that different people have different views of the monument. Therefore, the monument doesn't objectively exist. Furthermore, anyone's view of it is just as good or bad as anyone else's. As such, Truth is abolished and raw power rushes in to fill the void. The leftist always speaks power to Truth. Always.

Which is why I do not waste a moment arguing with leftists, humanists, atheists, or radical secularists. Rather, every day, I simply do my best to describe the monument before me as accurately as possible, so that others might begin to apprehend its outlines and contours equally vividly and gain strength from that. In short, I am not advancing an argument but presenting a vision of what I see (which the leftist also does, only while asleep, i.e., while dreaming). It is a single object, but there are many views of it. I guess this would be #640 so far. Tune in tomorrow for #641. Or possibly #2 from our #2, Will (a beautiful pneumagraph that I have already seen, by the way), depending on various exigencies that temporarily obscure my view.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Change, Growth, and Metamorphosis

Change is just change, a horizontal shuffling from one arrangement to another. Growth is teleological change along a developmental vector, while metamorphosis is transformation from one thing to another -- caterpultering your sleeping buddhafly out of its christallus, so to speak.

As Ken Wilber has written, mere change is like rearranging the furniture on the floor of a building, or "translation." But real growth is analogous to taking the eschatolator to the next floor, which I believe he calls transformation. But that is really more like a transition. Metamorphosis is real transformation, something like retrofitting the entire building -- or perhaps like putting wings on it and turning it into an airplane.

Obviously, it is not possible to avoid change. However, we can only know change in relation to changelessness, or some static benchmark. The Buddha taught that resistance to change -- or attachment to one particular phase of it -- was a primary source of suffering. And yet, to achieve the awakened state he describes, one must go through some rather profound changes. As Cardinal Newman put it, "to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often." We might call this kind of challenging directional change sophering.

"To be perfect" is an interesting way of putting it, for it implies that change for human beings has a definite deustination or final cause. I believe one aspect of grace is the "lure" of this final causation, which literally pulls us in our ding[h]y wake toward our higher self. In other words, this developmental energy cannot merely be a "push" from behind, as it were, or it wouldn't have any direction. In that case, we'd all be like ten week-old Great Dane puppies or two year old boys, constantly dissipating energy that doesn't really go anywhere and is frankly a little annoying at times. [A little pupdate -- I have now finished the post and am in the backyard, where I see that Future Leader and Coondog are digging a hole in the dirt together; hard to say who is dirtier -- ed.]

Or we might say that mere change is a result of deterministic causation, like billiard balls knocking each other around. It cannot result in something truly new, just something that was implicit in the past. But true growth is "top down," teleonomic causation. Instead of present-to-future, it somehow operates in a whole-to-part, future-to-present manner.

Just as one aspect of grace is this future-to-present causation, prayer is the effort (or perhaps non-effort is more like it) to align ourselves with these subtle cosmic winds. And they are subtle, at least at first. However, I think you'll agree that as you move closer to your destiny, it becomes a less subtle and more "present" -- though still distant -- reality. As you leave the orbit of the earth, you are eventually drawn into the attractor of the sun. In fact, when it comes right down to it, that's pretty much your choice: the mundane vs. the celestial.

This turning toward the celestial sun represents "metanoia," true repentence, or preparing yourself to be changed (for in metamorphic change, you cannot change atoll without first ceasing to be an I-land). The first step of the spiritual path -- and the last step, which is simply the first step repeated endlessly -- is "turning around" and phasing your unKnown future.

Again, this is nothing like mere change, which is just endless turning, spinning, and rolling through the hay like a -- speaking of puppies and children -- puppy child, fun though that may be, especially if it's with Amoreena over at the diner (nudge nudge). Now that I think about it, there are times that I am gnostalgic for that corefree and flateral existence, but when I was actually in it, was I really happy or philfulled, or just fallfailed? Or was I just ec-statically spinning around to conceal the fact that I was merely drifting -- down or out, anywhere but up?

Because the True Growth is a movement in and up, which is the only place where "wholeness" can abide -- which literally means "await." Whatever or whoever we are meant to be patiently awaits our arrival there. But where is it when it is not here? Put another way, who am I when I am not me?

I suppose I can handle that one, Petey. Let's see. I was something external, something that was a product of its environment. Any direction I thought I possessed had been imposed from the outside, even if I had internalized it and therefore thought I had come up with it on my own. Not until this drama had played itself out and exhausted all its possibilities was "turning around" possible. For many, it requires that they reach a state of "moral bankruptcy" to reach this stage, or launch pad. Fortunately, that was not the case with me. Nor, fortunately, did I ever do anything that fundamentally damaged my soul, and from which I could not recover in this life.

But enough about rising on the schlepping stoners of our dead selves. Obviously, our society venerates change, but not growth and certainly not metamorphosis. In fact, there is a kind of implicit ban on growth (not just economic), which is the secret of the Democrat party in general and the progressive movement in particular. Neither of them has the slightest interest in making better humans. Rather, they want to skip that little muddled man and create the perfect society.

But you cannot accomplish that by patronizing (literally) man's lower self. As Schuon so eloquently describes it, sircular humanism "decapitates man: wishing to make of him an animal which is perfect, it succeeds in turning him into a perfect animal." Indeed, this must be so if there is no awareness of the proper end of man as such. Leftism can only result in making man more of what he already is instead of what he was meant to me -- human, only worse.

For example, to cite just one disgusting example (TW: Brian), thanks to progressives, it is now going to be against the law in California to teach children about the proper end of human sexuality. Rather, as per a recent senate bill -- which passed along straight (so to speak) party lines, 23 Democrats for, 13 Republicans against -- teachers and textbooks cannot depict transvestites, transexuals, or any other sexual deviant in a negative light in any public school textbook. Instead, positive portrayal of transsexual, bisexual and homosexual lifestyles will be mandated upon all children, beginning in kindergarten.

Why a public school textbook would ever deal with sexual perversions is beyond me, but now I suppose you can't even call them "perversions." Unlike any other bodily function, sexuality has no proper end, no healthy manner of expression. We might as well teach that high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity are all normal as well. After all, who said that one's fasting blood sugar should be below 105? Isn't that just an arbitrary number? I'm being oppressed! What white European male said that diastolic blood pressure should be below 80, or cholesterol below 200? Those numbers are difficult to achieve for some black folks, who tend to have higher blood pressure and cholesterol. What's normal for whites isn't normal for everyone. It isn't fair!

This is why a classical liberal is not a strict libertarian and certainly not a leftist. As we all know, the leftist is a totolerantarian, as reflected in the above legislation which forces people to accept the abnormal as normal -- its project is nothing less than the abolition of the human archetype, and with it, the human being. Why? Why is it so important for leftists to confuse children about sexuality? Is it just a reflection of their own confusion, or is there something more cosmically sinister going on?

Interesting that all of last night's Democrat condidates promised to find a special role in their administration for Bill Clinton, who is aptly described by Harvey Mansfield as "the envy of vulgar men." To put it another way, he is an archetypal lower whorizontal man who has never mastered, much less transcended, himself, so he is a perfect symbol for the left -- vain, greedy, calculating, unmanly, self-serving, governed by his appetites, indifferent to truth, and articulate and intelligent in ways that are simultaneously vacuous and portentous.

Anyway, since the postmodern world has successfully taken the reeking bull to man's archetypal nature, something must rush in to fill the void. Thus, as described by Stanley Jaki, modern man is "addicted to change. He needs fresh forms of novelties to satisfy that addiction. Nothing satisfies him unless he finds it exciting, which merely subjects him to change." In short, since modern man turns the cosmos upside down, horizontal change replaces vertical metamorphosis as the highest value. It is nothing less than the valorization of man's fall, which rapidly creates conditions in which everything becomes a thrilling race to the bottom to determine who is highest, since man cannot stand still. If he is not transcending himself, then he will sink beneath himself. Them's the rules. I didn't make 'em up.

Hey now, what a beautiful example in the new (but not merely novel) New Criterion, which includes a couple of priceless quotes:

It is now that we begin to encounter the fevered quest for novelty at any price, it is now that we see insincere and superficial cynicism and deliberate conscious bluff; we meet, in a word, the calculated exploitation of this art as a means of destroying all order. The mercenary swindle multiplies a hundredfold, as does the deceit of men themselves deceived and the brazen self-portraiture of vileness. --Hans Sedlmayr, Art in Crisis

Some of what she said was technical, and you would have had to be a welder to appreciate it; the rest was aesthetic or generally philosophical, and to appreciate it you would have had to be an imbecile.
--Randall Jarrell, Pictures from an Institution

(See also here for more Roger Kimball.)

Hmm, I'm getting that eery foreboding that chaos is about to strike in the Gagdad household and that unwanted change -- including of a diaper -- is about to be forced upon me. Therefore, I will have to take up this strand when the now is available again tomorrow morning and I can dilate time in the usual "Raccoon way."

Oh, and don't forget -- speaking of change, Ben could use a little right about now. You can coontribute on his website.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Deep Change

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I'll be posting under adverse circumstances for the foreseeable future. Frankly, I don't know how I've made it this far, because the circumstances have been pretty adverse ever since I started doing this, what with a newborn in the house. Now with the puppy, it's crazy. I won't go into all the details, because it would be too long and boring.

Yesterday Will wrote about change -- in particular, the biggest change of all, death. Actually, I suppose death would have to be tied with birth. And maybe the birth of your first child at 49. And then maybe throw a great dane puppy into the mix. Add a little type I diabetes that is diagnosed the same month your son is conceived....

By the way, thank you Will for bobstituting yesterday. Will actually proposed some other ideas for how I might take the day off as needed. For example -- I think this would be interesting -- someone could interview me. Or, one Raccoon could interview another Raccoon of his or her choice in some depth. I personally think that would be quite interesting. For example, imagine, say, Dilys interviewing Will, or vice versa.... I think I'd pay for that....

One reason I don't generally just post an oldie is that there is something about producing a post out of thin air that makes it feel as if it's connected to the cosmic weather pattern of the moment, even if the topic of the post has nothing explicitly to do with current events. Hard to explain, but there's a certain kind of energy behind or under or around it. Perhaps it's like how some wine experts can supposedly tell what year a wine was produced and what part of the country the grapes came from. Maybe someone with extremely advanced coonscent could smell one of my posts and name the day it was hatched.

There are two things I wanted to write about, but I have no idea if all hell will break loose around here before I can get into them in any depth. So I'll just start, and see how far we can get.

At the moment, I only have two words that kept rattling around my brain after reading Will's post yesterday. One of them was depth. The other was change. We take both of these words for granted, in a classic case of what Bion called "saturation." That is, we don't actually have any idea what these words really mean, but if we keep using a word long enough, then we convince ourselves that we do.

It's very much like money in that way. Obviously we use money all the time, but who ever stops to think about what it actually is? As soon as you do think about it, it becomes a little absurd. Look at a dollar. What is that? Yes, it symbolizes something, but what? And since it symbolizes something, can I exchange it for what it symbolizes -- for the reality underneath the symbol? No, not since the gold standard was abolished. Even then, what is a piece of gold, anyway? Ultimately, I suppose we could say a dollar is like a little ladle with which we can dip into a vast ocean called "wealth." Whatever that is.

In my book, I wrote about how this problem is especially pertinent when we discuss God and religion. But then again, probably no more problematic than when we discuss philosophy, or relationships, or art, or anything that is both real and above the material plane. Frankly, it's amazing that we can communicate at all, especially when we are talking about highly abstract and sense-distant subjects. With regard to spirituality, the idea is to be able to cash in religious words for the experience they symbolize or "store," not to get hung up on the abstract symbol. A symbol is a bridge between one domain and another.

Returning to the poor cognitively diminished atheists and their complaint that I literally make no sense. This is actually quite fascinating, because what they are actually saying -- obviously -- is "I don't understand you." But instead of trying to do so, they childishly foreclose the transitional space in which such understanding could occur by insisting that there is no understanding to be had. This solves their problem, but only in a spurious way that makes growth an impossibility.

This is a fine example of Bion's oft-repeated point that the answer is the disease that kills curioisity (and obviously, many religious people are as bad as atheists in this regard -- they are simply mirror images of each other). This concept is central to psychoanalysis, although different analysts understand it in different ways. But all analysts are familiar with the fact that ninety percent of the battle in therapy is creating the conditions under which understanding, change and growth may take place. You could tell the patient many important things on their very first session, but they would be of no use to them. And if you used highly technical clinical language, they'd say -- just like the atheist -- that you make no sense at all and never come back (except the atheists keep coming back).

As always, "self-satisfaction" and "growth" are inversely related. A rock-bottom prerequisite for gaining anything from therapy is the understanding that, in the deepest sense, you are and always will be an irreducible mystery to yourself (I believe this is because we are created and not the creator of ourselves, but that's the topic for another post). The people who know themselves the least are generally the ones who don't even think about it. But no amount of psychotherapy will ever result in absolute knowledge of the self, the cosmic interior.

Therapy actually aims at two rather different and not necessarily related ends, one "negative," one "positive." In fact, as you grow in therapy, one part of yourself should become less mysterious, while another part becomes even more mysterious.

It reminds me of one of the last works of fiction I read some 20 years ago, called "Little Big." I don't remember anything else about it except that it proposed an ontology that consisted of a series of concentric circles. The purpose of life is to journey closer to the center. But unlike a series of euclidean circles, which become smaller as you approach the center, these circles become wider and more expansive until you reach the center, which is infinite -- furthermore, it is the infinite ground of all the surrounding spaces -- or "realms," "principalities," "domains," etc.

That is not an imaginary world. Rather, it is this world.

Anyway, the "negative" aspect of psychoanalysis involves understanding and transcending those aspects of the self that cause one to be "stuck," so to speak -- which interfere with growth (another word that is fraught with implications). These often fall under the heading of "mind parasites" as outlined in my book. Especially during our first few years of life, we internalize various things from the (largely) parental environment that become "hardwired" in, since our brain is developing at the same time these experiences are occurring. Therefore, more than at any other age, experiences are converted to "background objects" (or subjective alter egos) that are etched into our neurology.

Freud's classic description of the purpose of psychoanalysis still holds, which is to work, love, and play. To the extent that your mind parasites are limiting you, it is likely to manifest in one of these areas: the ability to be productive in a meaningful and pro-social manner; the ability to find fulfillment in enduring intimate relationships; and the ability to be freely spontaneous and creative. Besides rhythm, who could ask for anything more?

The second aspect of therapy is more "positive," and in my opinion -- and the opinion of Bion, at least implicitly -- verges on the religious and the mystical. For it has to do with maintaining a harmonious dialectic between the two utterly different modes of being that constitute the human subject. Again, different psychoanalysts use different words to describe these different parts: you could say ego and unconscious; or like the Jungians, ego and Self; or Being and knowing; or symmetrical and asymmetrical consciousness; or the Dreamer Who Dreams the Dream and the one who is involved in it.

Following Bion, I simply chose to use the abstract symbol O for the ultimate unknowable reality underlying both the internal and external world. You might think of it as an existential "place marker," in that it signifies something that obviously exists -- must exist -- but which we can never, ever contain, describe, or completely circumnavelgaze. This is the inexhaustible ground of existence, which is not a riddle to be solved but a mystery to be played with and enjoyed. It tosses up various ideologies and philosophies -- various -isms and wasms -- out of its depths, and, like the ocean, washes them all aside with the passage of time. Today's cutting edge philosophy will be swept away in the cosmic tide, just like all its predecessors -- unless the philosophy specifically begins with O as its ultimate ground and final term.

Which is one reason why proper theism is so much more infinitely deep than atheism. If one of our atheist friends were here, I might like to ask him: do you consider atheism deep? Never mind true or false, but deep. If he says no, then he is dismissed. We have made our point about their radical disconnect from O for the purposes of assuaging cognitive and existential anxiety.

But supposing he says, "yes. To me, atheism is very deep stuff, protean in its implications, so deep I can hardly stand it!" The first thing I would want to do is define our terms. For what does the atheist mean by "deep?" Is this a "fact," an objective thing that can be located in the external world? And is there in fact any correlation between "deep" and "true?"

I don't mean for this to sound grandiose (for one thing, anyone can do it), but often I get into a sort of "prophetic" or "oracular" mode, in which Proclamations just come to me with a kind of certainty. Sometimes I don't even understand them myself at first, but I've come to trust the process. I'm not saying that my "prophecies" are always true -- that's for others to decide anyway. But what I'm saying is that this is an example of a kind of knowing that far exceeds what my little ego is capable of. Clearly, if I am right, it is simply what I call in the book O-->(k) -- or, as alluded to above, a product of the dynamic reconciliation of our little local self and our BIG NONLOCAL SELF. Living at the shoreline between these two diverse modes of being is where it all happens, baby. It is where I always try to be. Frankly, everything else is a slightly wearisome distraction at this point in my life.

Anyway, a phrase might pop into my head that feels very "certain" -- or is endowed with the "spirit of certainty," so to speak -- even though it's not any kind of emprical or mathematical certainty, like 2 + 2 = 4. For example, I -- or it -- might declare, "soul is the dimension of depth in all things."

Hmm. Okay. Nice platitude. Have you considered writing greeting cards? But what does it mean? Obviously it cannot be proven in the usual way. Should we even take it seriously? Or just put the card back in the rack?

Yes, I think the former, because this petrified bobservation is full of implicit meaning that cannot be explained in any other way.

Damn, baby is stirring. Totally breaks the mood. Where did O go?

I wanted to make a point about revelation in the context we have been discussing. Clearly, the atheist cannot know -- experientially, I mean -- what it means to dwell in revelation, to unceasingly meditate upon it in such a way that it generates a kind of knowledge that percolates up from deep within the self. How and why does this happen?

Because, in my opinion, revelation is as close as we can get to an "objectification of O." I realize that some Christians are uncomfortable with this, but I do not reduce revelation solely to the Bible or to Christ -- the latter being another objectification of O, by the way. I won't get into the other revelations that I consider divinely authorized objectifications of O, but that's not important anyway. The point is to engage in the ceaselessly generative process of interior engagement with the sacred forms of revelation -- which we "light up" from within, and which in turn light us from within. The purpose is to change us. In depth. In turn, this "deep change" is sufficient proof of the reality of God. Whatever that is.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

There's No Substitute for Death

Greetings, denizens of One Cosmos, readers of the B’ob, virtue mavens, spiritual pilgrims, cool kits & cataphatic coons. I am the entity and frequent O.C. comment poster known to you as “Will." While Bob is taking some time off to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a male exotic dancer, I will be your substitute teacher.

Remember your substitute teachers from grade school? Remember that uncomfortable silence that fell upon the classroom like a cold mist when you realized that this *stranger*, this wholly unknown property, was at the helm? It seemed as if you had just gotten yourself to the point that you had made a rough peace with the ghastly idea of even having to attend school. You had learned what to avoid, how far to push, when to back off, when to attack. In fact, there was a comfortable familiarity with the predictable routine of shambling into class each morning. That gnawing fear that had lodged itself in your solar plexus like a glowing bar of plutonium had finally retreated. Why, going to school was almost fun!

And then... substitute teacher. The fear, the stomach-contracting paranoia, came flooding back. It was almost like the first day of school all over again. Well, that’s our situation now, isn’t it? Sure, I can empathize with your existential discomfort, but let me ask you something: did you ever once ask yourself what it was like for the substitute teacher? Did you ever once try to rise above your narrow and narcissistic self-regard to contemplate the fact that this was equally unknown terrortory for the substitute teacher? Well, DID YOU, you little brats? Hmm?

Well, I certainly didn’t. Which is why, in the time-honored manner of the grade school bad-boy miscreant who grows up to be a cop, I’m going to assume the role of Mister Iron Fist. Boys will sit on the east side of the classroom, girls to the east, please. No talking, no fidgeting, eyes straight ahead. Lisa, that attire is entirely inappropriate for class, go home, change, then you may return. A little more cleavage, please. Just kidding. Not really. I didn't say that. Bob, shut up! Speaking of inappropriate attire, get back to your exotic dancing. "Y-M-C-A, it's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A!"

Anyway: this naturally raises the subject of *change*, of metamorphosis (and don’t expect me to riff away with Bob’s jazz-like fluidity and panache). That change is a necessary part of life is a tired cliché, yet it would seem that never before has the obligation of acclimating oneself to and integrating change been more paramount than it is at present.

I sometimes reflect upon what seems to us to have been the essential *changeless-ness* of life prior to the last three centuries or so. One apparently led one’s life in the leisurely, stately rhythm of the procession of seasons. Hunt, farm, warm yourself by a fire at night, wear furs in the winter, etc. etc. Aside from falling off a cliff, the fastest a human could travel was on the back of a horse. Most never ventured 30 miles from where they were born. Basically, this was your life, day after day, year after year, century after century. And it would always be.

What is it then about our human organism, the human neurological system, that managed to adjust to this incredibly fast-paced manner in which we moderns live? It would seem that three centuries is scarcely enough time for the human brain to develop a processing capacity that could absorb what some would say is the unnatural change-flow that we humans have to negotiate.

Well, perhaps the truth is that nothing has changed regarding the human capacity to absorb change. What’s the greatest change we can experience? I think it would probably be death, wouldn’t you? Nothing like shuttling off the old mortal coil to make one marvel at just how changeable things can really be. Death: Prince of Changes. In this respect, the premoderns were certainly more acquainted with change than we moderns are. Death was a ubiquitous side-by-side companion for them in a way that it is not for most of us modern Westerners. Death in childbirth, death by disease, constant tribal warfare, etc. –- you were lucky if you reached the stoop-backed, gnarly age of 40, which was the old 70.

Q: So it’s good that we aren’t acquainted with that kind of traumatic change, isn’t it, Will?

Will: Not necessarily. Being exposed to death -- having to live under the constant threat of death -- can teach us much about the transience of physical life and about the always urgent need to be present and aware; it compels us to ponder the great ontological questions.

Q: Ah, so it’s a bad thing that we live in an age where death does not play such a prime role in our quotidian lives?

Will: What kind of barmy calliope music do you have rattling around your vacant braincase? Who would want to live with death as the nutty next-door neighbor who’s always popping in unannounced?

Here’s something else to consider: while we must change in order to grow, we moderns have the luxury, indeed, the individuality and self-autonomy, to consciously and creatively shape the changes we must experience, in a way the premoderns did not. You might say that you can arrange your own birth -- which is to say, death.

Of course, we always have the option of resisting change, in which case change will be forced upon us. Don’t like leaving the house to go about the untidy business of engaging the world? That’s a good recipe for being trapped in a house fire. Avoided eating sardines all your life because, well, they just looked icky? Well, you might just find yourself at a reception thrown by your fiancé’s beastly mother and, er, all there is to eat are sardine canapés, and, umm, you’re just so hungry you’ll pass out if you don’t eat something, and...

True, that was a bit of a lame example, but it could happen. Anyway, I'm sure you get the idea. Change is growth. What marks us as creatures unlike any other on earth is our divine capacity to consciously change ourselves, to grow, to expand and deepen our psychic horizons, our very consciousness. To what extent are we capable of growing? Well, a certain Someone once brazenly pointed out that we are “gods in the making." This is another way of saying that you must eat the sardine before circumstances force sardines upon you. "Sardine." "Sar-deen." "sar-DEEN." What a strange word for a miniature fish....

So knowing what we do about the necessity of change, why do we have a tendency to resist change, including Bob's odd and irrelevant insertions into my original pristine text? Obviously, change is uncomfortable, at least in its initial stages. We feel ourselves vulnerable when in new, unknown territory. Don’t ever underestimate the power that vulnerability can cast over the soul. We all know people who would rather continue living in miserable conditions than leave the familiarity of those conditions and face the uncertainty that comes with change. Remember, too, that change and growth imply entering new arenas of intimidating personal responsibility.

We might ask, why are we so comfortable with the familiar when we are indeed designed by God to change and grow? I think the human soul has a natural pull toward an ultimate rest, or stasis. There is a name for this ultimate stasis and rest: heaven. The comfort of familiarity to which we cling can all too often be an ersatz heaven. As we all know, the greatest of human follies is the desire to construct an earthly heaven. It is not only leftists, fellow-travelers, and fallow trivialers who go about the idiotic business of trying to establish earthly heavens. In a certain sense, we all do that when we resist the changes necessary for our spiritual growth, opting instead for the ersatz heaven of familiarity.

What does all of this imply? Well, basically this: earthly life is not supposed to be all that comfortable, and expecting it to be is a fantasy. The search for divine stasis and ultimate rest in this life will always be in vain. We must always be as accepting of and open to change as we can. The saints did not and do not spend their lives looking for divine stasis, as many would believe. Those who are familiar with the lives of the great saints know that theirs' was anything but a comfortable life -- that in fact, their lives were filled with incredible hardship and challenge. Their lives may have been cloistered in one sense, but they were always setting foot in unknown lands. In some ways, we might define a saint as someone who is wholly open to change.

We should know, however, that the best way –- the only way, really –- to prevent the coming changes from overwhelming us is to always keep a soul’s I on that which does not change: the immutable, the Eternal. In a sense, all of Creation is governed by two principles: that which does not change (the One) and that which is always changing (the Many) –- and the One interpenetrates the Many. Change without knowledge of the One is meaningless. But only absolutely.

So now after my little soliloquy about change and the necessity thereof, I’m sure you are all a tad more accepting of me as your substitute teacher, no?

No?

Very well.

Van, I see you passing a note to Joan back there. You want to read that note out loud to the class?

By the way, I’ve noticed that the blog Eject! Eject! Eject! is proposing an online community of virtue-minded citizens. When I read this, I thought, what a great idea! In fact, I thought it was a great idea when I first encountered the reality of it here in One Cosmos.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Left Behind: Mother Evolution's Atheistic Stragglers (5.31.09)

Ricky asked a good question at the end of yesterday's thread: why doesn't the bloody rabbit take a photo of Mackenzie -- I mean beside the fact that the rabbit is not interested in that kind of vegetable? But let's suppose there were a super-intelligent rabbit capable of.... of super-rabbit tricks, like attacking Jimmy Carter. Is there any reason to believe that it would possess anything resembling human intelligence? The same goes, by the way, for so-called extraterrestrial intelligence. Is there any reason to believe that extraterrestrial beings, even if intelligent, would possess human intelligence?

First of all, for a variety of scientific reasons I won't get into, I think the odds of intelligent beings on other planets are vanishingly remote. But even then, the idea that intelligence alone is sufficient to account for the humanness through which our intelligence is channelled is extraordinarily naive. Or put it this way: intelligence is necessary, but hardly sufficient, to account for our humanness. We are nothing at all like merely intelligent apes, but something else entirely.

In my book, I noted that humanness is an ontological station that is anterior to our having entered it. This is why, as we evolved into this space, it was not "empty," so to speak. Rather, it was quite "full," except that much of the information was implicit rather than explicit. It had to be unpacked and brought into being in the material world -- which we have been doing for the past 40,000 years or so. In the most general terms, we have been bringing the Good, the True, and the Beautiful into the world. Our attraction to these things can by no means be explained by (natural) intelligence itself, but is entirely separate from it.

There was a brief discussion of this in yesterday's thread, where Will used the allegory of a village of of the blind: "One individual suddenly develops eyesight, the first villager to do so. Quite the revelation! This individual's spatial sense deepens beyond his previous imaginings. And the colors! He never knew they existed.

"Taking in the sky, he tries to explain the color blue to the villagers. In fact, he tries to explain the concept of sky to them. Bottom line, he can't. He might use analogies like, well, 'blue' is like a coating that you can't really touch, plus it's sort of 'cold-like,' not like ice, but like river water, etc. Some of the villagers might be intrigued with his analogies, but that's a far as it would go. Most would dismiss him, would almost have to dismiss him, as crazy. They simply lack the frame of reference by which he senses colors -- eyesight.

"Anyway, I think that genuine apprehension of God and the Divine Archetypal Realm, to the extent that humans are capable of such, is literally the activation of sense organ(s), that is, a 6th, 7th (and on up) sense organ."

I agree with Will that such higher sense organs would have to correlate in some way with the human brain, but that they could not be reduced to it. For example, let's say that neurologists locate that part of the brain responsible for recognizing artistic beauty. Would this prove that the differences in beauty between, say, a Thomas Gainsborough and a Thomas Kinkade are not really real? This is not as stupid as it sounds, for I guarantee you that in the next six months the New York Times will run another dopey article about some earthbound neurologist who has discovered the part of the brain responsible for religion, or awareness of God, or mystical states. What this proves is precisely nothing -- except perhaps that every interior has an exterior (in the manner described by Ken Wilber) and that Thomas Dolby was right: it is possible to be blinded by science.

In response to Will's comment, I wrote that that our brain architecture "comes into being simultaneously with an encounter with a particular world." Interestingly, the latest research suggests not only that human evolution is still ongoing, but that it can occur much more rapidly than anyone had realized. Thus, the future evolution of homo raccoonicus could occur over the space of a few generations.

In his summary of the latest research, Nicholas Wade makes a number of points that are highly upsetting to the psycho-spiritual left, since he leaves little reason to doubt that various human groups acquire traits and abilities that others do not. He cites many examples, one of which being the Jews who, pound for pound, have contributed more to human excellence than any other group -- even more so when you consider that they have also been the most persecuted group down through history (no coincidence there).

For example, although they represent far less than 1% of the world’s population, Jews have won 15 to 20 percent of the Nobel Prizes, and perhaps constitute an even higher percentage of the world's greatest comedians. On the other hand, the Palestinians have won exactly one Nobel Prize, and of course it was given to one of the most depraved and disgusting monsters who ever drew breath. And the Palestinian contribution to comedy, although considerable, has been entirely unintended -- e.g. the wild-eyed imams with their crazed Friday evening sermons, the comical s'allapstiq "work accidents" in which they accidentally blow themselves up, the frenzied car swarms, etc. Israelis and Palestinians might as well be a different species -- which, in a way, they are. Not, of course, in any horizontal racial sense, but in a vertical sense. To say that one of them is more evolved than the other is a banality of the first rank, unless you are a leftist who doesn't believe in vertical rank.

Not only is this view not racist, but it is the polar opposite, for it means that ethnic traits are not fixed but subject to evolution, change and progress. But for some reason, the left doesn't like this kind of evolution. Rather, they argue that all cultures are equally beautiful and that any differences between them are arbitrary. Furthermore, if you argue that one culture is superior to another, you are a racist. Thus, the left habitually confuses race and culture, making it impossible to criticize -- and therefore help -- a dysfunctional culture without being called a racist. This is precisely what happened to one of the last great liberals, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who wrote so sensitively of the "tangle of pathology" afflicting African American culture. That all of his most dire predictions came to pass is of no consequence to the ideologically blinded "reality based community" -- the ironically named progressive left, another group that cannot evolve.

In any event, as I mentioned in a comment yesterday, it is clear to me that we are co-evolving the language to describe various "post-biological realities" as we enter into them. This is very much analogous to the early explorers of the new world, who all landed in different areas and came back with diverse and seemingly contradictory discriptions of the flora and fauna they'd found. At first, the descriptions of higher planes are going to be highly subjective and seemingly disconnected from the others, but as we increasingly colonize the space, we start to see how all the descriptions fit together. Certainly that is what I was trying to do with my book, and even more so with the blog, in part because I know that my neurology has changed as a consequence of repeated encounters with the New World. I see things very clearly now that were more shrouded before, just as I see things vaguely now that will presumably become clearer as I go.

You will notice that one of the atheists' biggest complaints about me is that I am "bigoted" against them. Which is true, if you abuse the term beyond recognition. To me, a bigot is someone who discriminates against another based upon some insignificant difference, such as race. It is another thing entirely to discriminate against an ideology or belief system. In this sense, discrimination is the essence of intelligence. I discriminate against atheism because one, I think it is intrinsically stupid, and two, I think it would be highly destructive if a significant number of people were reduced to its influence, instead of being just a small club of eccentrics and misfits.

And yes, when I say "destructive," I do mean destructive of the human being as I understand him. For it would mean the foreclosure of those supramental spiritual realities to which humans have unique access and that we are in the process of bringing into being.

One of the things you have no doubt noticed in the flurry of atheistic interest in my blog is that they admit to not understanding my ideas, and yet, object to them in the most strident terms. The reverse is obviously not true: there is nothing about atheism that cannot be understood by a normal adolescent schoolboy. But one of the atheists asks, "Does anyone understand what this guy is talking about, because there is no content that I can discern. It is literally vacuous, and atrociously written to boot. From any rational perspective, it is empty and devoid of coherence or significance [and] preposterously boring."

Another one writes of my "lurid and vacuous prose" which is "completely and utterly meaningless when analysed, hermeneutically [perhaps he meant "hermaneutically" --ed] or otherwise." Furthermore -- or less -- "even Bob couldn't explain rationally what he means by it, yet one does not have to be a psychiatrist to understand what his real problem is. Gagdad Bob is just another pathetically feeble individual" and even a "true psychopath." (Speaking of abusing clinical terms; in any event, how can I be a psychopath when they admit that they don't even understand me?)

Another one confesses total ignorance of what I write about, but then, in typical atheist fashion, assumes that the ignorance resides in me rather than her. She admits that my writing is a "confusing mess" to her, and that "Honestly, I think Bob spends more time thumbing through a thesaurus than he does with actually trying to make his thoughts coherent. It seems to me he's more concerned with impressing people with his 'fancy' words than he is with people understanding what he's trying to convey. What's the point of writing for others in the way Bob does, when you end up making your readers incapable of understanding what you're writing? Perhaps his stringing together a bunch of those 'fancy' words gets people to think he's understanding the issues on a higher plane, and those who are easily led follow along like sheep, believing that they're just too stupid to understand someone with such supposed 'important' thoughts/feelings. His 'followers are led to believe they're in the presence of somebody really important and special."

And this one is also too funny to ignore: "Regarding the chances of reaching the 'Racoons,' it would be silly to argue that any of them would ever be convinced to abondon their belief in god. However they may come to realize that this person whom they occasionally refer to as 'Fearless Leader' (and who refers to his own son from time to time as 'Future Leader') is a gross, opportunistic narcissist who does not truly share their values."

Like the Palestinkians, their humor is always inadvertent.

Anyway, given that my writing is empty, irrational, literally vacuous, devoid of content, incoherent, and insignificant, how can it simultaneously be a dangerous threat to atheists? If it is literally devoid of content, then that means there can be no objectionable content.

But again, as I have said all along, atheism is nothing more and nothing less than a frank confession of total ignorance of any ontologically real spiritual plane transcending the senses. It is simply the "final common pathway" of a spiritual failure to launch with diverse causes. Which is fine. If that's how they choose to live their lives, who am I to argue with them? I'm a liberal. I'm all for them squandering their liberty in any way they see fit. How can that pose a threat to them?

These are divisive times, both horizontally -- which is obvious -- and vertically, which is the true source of the horizontal strife, for cultural space is developmental time. As Will pointed out, "Obviously the most fractious time is when the outsiders [i.e., the vertical explorers] begin to expand in number and outreach. This is when the distinctions between old language and new would be most divisive. Attempts at conciliation between old and new would be inevitably, necessarily futile. Those of the old persuasion would have hope of becoming new -- should they so desire -- but the new can never return to the old status. They either eventually succeed in establishing newness or they are eliminated by the reactionary old."

Evolution is a harsh mysteress. I guess it would be nice if atheists were capable of understanding my writing, but then they wouldn't be atheists.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ask Not for Whom the Trolls Yell

Dennis Prager has mentioned that one of the things that turned him toward religion was the experience of college. There he encountered, as have most of us, the utter foolishness -- the horror, really -- of secular liberal thought in all its ghastly maninfestations. Thus, to the extent that a modern (not classical) liberal education is useful, it is primarily as a bad example. Which is not nothing. We learn just as much from adverse experiences -- perhaps even more, in a way -- as we do from positive ones.

Another way of saying it is that the true path is straight and narrow. If we could imagine the Way as a line in space, arcing toward its nonlocal deustiny, then there is obviously a vast potential area for deviation. There is no way anyone makes it straight to the goal without deviations and mid-course corrections. But how does one know when one is actually making progress toward the goal?

I was reminded of this by our recent atheist trolls and the absurcular whirrledview they propagrate on the nerves, which is at turns stupid, monstrous or silly. Although we are always ridiculing them, hopefully it is in an instructive and good-natured way (despite their telling absence of humor). For example, the constitutionally impertinent Dupree made several surprisingly pertinent remarks yesterday, including the observation that "this is your brain on atheism." Thus, as it so happens, you can learn a great deal about God by listening to an atheist -- just as Dennis Prager learned a great deal about God by detouring through the academonic ivory tower of leftist babble.

I would even venture to say that we could learn a lot from someone as dense and unevolved as Herman, even though I let him know at the poutset that the bobverse was not true -- that there was literally nothing a man like him could learn about God from a man like me, at least in his present noncoonfiguration. That he confirmed this perception with over 100 comments (including the many comments that Dupree deleted because he felt they were so stupid as to lack even entertainment value) is in itself a powerful proof of the reality of coon scent.

Yes, in just his first few rudimentary grunts and gestures, this mothbreather to the One Cosmos flame was mysteriously able to provide a vivid clueprint of the dreary architecture of his soul -- or, shall we say, soullessness -- that let us know that we were dealing not just with a spiritual cipher, but someone who was -- for whatever reason -- resentful and hostile toward God. (Thus, the soullessness is entirely self-induced and, we pray, a temporary condition.)

Although I try to present these things in a lighthearted manner (i.e., "coon scent"), I am nevertheless talking about something real. There really is a "spiritual perfume" that is emitted by certain particularly lofty souls, just as there is a "soul stench" given off by others. In Herman's braincase, something tells me that we are also dealing with a closed head injury (er, figuratively), so it is unclear how much of his malevolence toward God is involumetary, if you cc what I mean.

That is, like a person who has been reduced to verbal "clanging," Herman kept repeating the same fragments of thought (fragments that in turn reveal a fractured existential state) to the effect that he would like for us to prove to him that God exists. Again, I knew that none of the kind advice that was offered to him would be of any benefit to him, since he lacked the underlying "qualifications," so to speak, for knowledge of God. In this regard, his story is a very old one, first recorded by Plato with his analogy of the cave. This analogy is so simple, and yet, it has never been surpassed, since it comes about as close to concrete and objective metaphysical truth as humans are capable of formulating.

Human beings live shackled in a cave that is illuminated by a light that comes from outside it. Thus, all they see is the play of shadows cast upon the wall, which they call "knowledge." One of the cave dwellers breaks free, turns around, and sees the actual source of light. He tries to tell the other cave-dwelling hermen about the light, but they don't want to hear it. Some think he's crazy, while others are outright hostile. And the rest is history -- or yesterday's thread.

Sri Aurobindo's simple formulation for seeing the light was aspiration-rejection-surrender, referring in a sense to the vertical, the horizontal, and the interior, respectively. That is, we aspire with heart, mind, and soul for that which surpasses us. At the same time, we reject the horizontal distractions and temptations that lure us down and out and cause us to deviate from our goal. And we humbly surrender, or empty ourselves before the object of our devotion.

I think you will see that Raccoons of whatever devotional stripe agree on the basics of this formulation, and it is one of the things that distinguishes us from the new-age sew-age. As I have mentioned before, for a number of years I tried to be a "do-it-yoursopher," as I was attracted to spirituality -- as indeed nearly all humans are - but biased against God, largely as a result of my postmodern brainwashing and souldirtying.

In ether worlds, I wanted to have the experience in the absence of its transcendent cause. Therefore, I was attracted to such approaches as Zen, since it seemed to be free of dogma -- and of God. Just sit, close your eyes, and wait for "liberation." Thus there was rejection and perhaps a little aspiration, but no true surrender, since there was no One to surrender to. I suppose you could say that you surrender to "it," but "it" doesn't come down and meet you halfway -- which is why you can sit for your whole life and probably not have the experience of moksha.

But for me, the key was surrender, for only in surrender does the grace even have a space to operate. And afterwards, it is the grace that does all of the work, not us. Or, to put it another way, our task is to do what we can to allow the grace to operate. We do not change or "grow" our spiritual selves, any more than we grow our own bodies. True, we can do certain things "at the margins" to make our bones stronger or our muscles bigger, but none of us could actually create a muscle or bone, much less the spiritual self which will grow under the proper circumstances. It is an organic or natural process -- albeit a supernaturally natural one.

I don't want to put words into his fingers, but in response to the Dense One, JWM essentially highlighted the truism that the only God that can be proven to exist is the God you are capable of experiencing (although again, it is the grace that makes the experience possible). Everything else is either speculation or dogma (the latter of which is a necessary but insufficient cause). As I pointed out in my worstselling book, all traditions recognize this spiritual truth in one way or another. Thus, in the words of Hieromonk Damascene, author of Christ the Eternal Tao, "the only way to get past religious words and concepts is to seek, without compromise and self-pity, the Reality behind them."

Or, in the words of another Orthodox monk, "without the experience and testimony of the saints about the reality of God, the Bible would be an empty letter." Similarly, Rabbi Abraham Heschel wrote that dogmas "can only point to the mysteries of God" and "mark a way, not an end.... Dogmas are obstacles unless they serve as humble signposts along the way." The greatest pagan mystic, Plotinus, wrote that language must be cautiously employed "only to give direction, to urge toward that vision beyond discourse, to point out the road to one desirous of seeing," while the Vedantin Nikhilananda wrote that "conclusions of the scriptures... must be experienced by the aspirant himself" or not at all. I could go on and on like Herman, only in reverse.

Which is a yoke, but one that is easy, not to mention funny-side up. That is, Herman's evident "circularity" is there for everyone to see. In fact, if my sniffer doesn't lie, he will no doubt be back today, telling us all about the little world of dancing shadows he sees as he circles the drain in an ever-tightening spiral. But I can only repeat that there is nothing a man like me can convey of God to a man like him. For one thing, a man like me can't even convey anything of God to a man like me. Rather, only God can do that. And for that to happen, I actually have to get mybob out of the way. In short, never do as I say, but do as I do. Only then will you -- or I, for that matter -- understand the mutter.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Infrahuman, Suprahuman, Human, and All Too Human

All Raccoons with an opened third nostril ("noustril") are aware of the distinked differences between the human, infrahuman, suprahuman, and various shades in between. Our recent atheist visitors were rendered hysterical at my tautologous statement -- a banality, really -- to the effect that atheists understand God like a dog appreciates Beethoven. But girlish hysteria is just one of the many ways to exhibit the infrahuman -- or to be fair, the "all too human." Infrahuman should be reserved for the truly malodorous, such as Yasser Arafat, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, and other Nobel Prize winners.

"Be a man!" As soon as you say this to a boy -- which you must say or transmit in one form or another -- you are simultaneously saying to stop behaving like one. In other words, master yourself, transcend yourself, rise above yourself. Thus, there is hierarchy, or there is no man. The hierarchy is not merely about outward behavior. Rather, if one has truly transcended oneself, the behavior is simply the mark of an inner transformation -- or the failure of such.

Granted, there were and are times that this formula is abused. Naturally, it is possible for a bad man to imitate the gestures and bearing of the superior man, but he can only fool others who have not risen above themselves (the trousered apes of the U.N. come readily to mind). Again, if your coon scent is operative, you don't have this problem. You can smell one of these people a phony smile away. As I have said before, it doesn't just come through in the content of their communication, but through the essence of it. A person cannot really hide his essence except to people whose own essence is hidden from themselves -- which is a lot of people, by the way, certainly the majority. It is why people such as John Edwards or Hillary Clinton could ever even be considered to lead this great nation.

Still, there are enough people with a subcoonscious sniffer to know what's in the air, which is why, say, Hillary Clinton's "negatives" and Rudy Giuliani's "positives" are so high. As frightening and destructive as Clinton's policies are, her negatives have nothing to do with that. Rather, they are a response -- instant feedback, as it were -- to the state of her soul, which is getting very close to Nobel territory. Likewise, no matter how negatively the liberal media tries to depict Giuliani, normal people have a positive reaction to him (as they did with Reagan).

Just as we are aware of the infrahuman, we are aware of the suprahuman, for the one implies the other. Just as you can fail to achieve proper humanness, you can surpass it. In fact, speaking only for myself, I am perhaps even more "suprahuman oriented" than I am "God oriented." Or, I find the most direct and vivid evidence of God in the form of certain particularly lofty souls who directly transmit the realm of the suprahuman. Apparently, this is a controversial claim in Protestantism, but not so in Catholicism and certainly not in Orthodoxy (much less, Vedanta), where there is very much of an awareness of how extraordinarily helpful the saints can be to us. Again, not just in a didactic or educational way, but in the form of a direct spiritual transmission. And it is a guruvy two-way transmission, as in Father so-and-so, pray to God for us!

I judge religious writings solely in non-discursive and "suprahuman" terms, by the spiritual "perfume" they emit. If they aren't readolent with this written fragrance, then they are not likely to be very helpful, much less transformative. This is why I dismiss the Deepaks and most of the other new-agers as frauds. It's not out of any maliciousness, but because I just can't stand the smell. It's the same with atheists. Again, as always, not the ones who, for whatever reason, are simply indifferent to the spiritual realm. Rather, the ones who are passionately hostile to it. How could they not be lost and tangled in the web of the infrahuman?

I'll tell you how. As someone -- it might have been Will -- pointed out, for a serious seeker, atheism is quite frequently a "stop along the way," as it was for me and I imagine the majority of Raccoons. In a certain sense, giving oneself over to atheism is a spiritually generous act of kenosis, or complete self-emptying, analogous -- roughly, of course -- to Christ's descent into hell. In Balthasar's unique interpretation -- which is controversial -- Christ does not enter hell "triumphantly" trailing clouds of glory, but as part of his complete identification with fallen man and his ultimate fate. Only upon hitting rock bottom does the true transfiguration of man become a possibility in the divine-cosmic economy.

So one of the reasons Raccoons do not take atheism seriously -- why we do not argue with you, but laugh at you -- is because we have been there. Truly, there is nothing you can say that we haven't heard before. And besides, whatever you say is so thoroughly tangential to our personal experience that all we can say is "if it pleases you, go nuts." One of these atheists made the bizarre accusation that I was "attacking" them, which can only be maintained if you nurture a very special kind of narcissistic need for persecution and self-victimization. How can you feel persecuted by a group of crazies having a private conversation amongst themselves? I do not write for an atheist audience, any more than Beethoven composed his symphonies for canines. (Not to make the unfair comparison of a musical dawg such as myself to the suprahuman Beethoven.)

Sorry. That was just a bunch of unfocused rambling. Let's get serious, and try to determine what a human being actually is, for only in so doing will we be in a better position to discuss the infrahuman and the suprahuman. Sri Aurobindo maintained that the human being was not a fixed entity but a possibility; not an island but a bridge; not a wall but a door or window. But this is really no different than the distinction between the mirror and the image. In this sense, developmental time is simply the distance between what we are and what we are to become.

And that we ought to become something automatically implies that there is something that we ought not be. For example, even the breathless atheists maintain that I ought not be such a bigot. There is nothing in their ontology that can explain why I shouldn't be one if I prefer to be one; nor is their anything in their ontology that can account for the free will with which I could make such a choice, but metaphysical absurdity can pose no barrier to a self-refuting ontology which is the essence of absurdity anyway.

(Speaking of which, Mackenzie, this month's reserpient of the One Cosmos Trolls Royce award -- the wiener by a nose over his fulsome friend Cline -- just left a comment at 6:21 that is so stupid as to be beyond disbelief. To think that such malicious stupidity is susceptible to reason, fact, or logic is beneath a proper Raccoon. Again, any Raccoon should be able to smell the realm from which this troll is operating. It is hardly "neutral," but lucilphuric.)

Here is a typically gem-like quote from Schuon that shall be our starting point: "There is a great deal of talk these days about 'humanism,' talk which forgets that once man abandons his prerogatives to matter, to machines, to quantitative knowledge, he ceases to be truly 'human.'" Furthermore, "nothing is more fundamentally inhuman than the 'purely human,' the illusion of constructing a perfect man starting from the individual and terrestrial; whereas the human in the ideal sense draws its reason for existence and its entire content from that which transcends the individual and the earthly."

Obvious, no? But would it be possible to make this so obvious that even the atheist could understand it? No. It is already as obvious and clear as it is possible to be. The fault, or "lack" is not within the message but the recipient, who is incapable, for whatever reason, of elevating his mind to the realm from which spiritual truth arises. Indeed, rather than merely "understanding" it, he is offended by it. In this regard, he experiences the open hand as a fist. Which I suppose makes sense. Bacteria are not big fans of Lysol.

Here is another, more subtle observation: "There is nothing human which is not an evil from some point of view: even tradition itself is in certain respects an 'evil,' since it must handle evil things in man and these human ills invade it in their turn, but it is then a lesser evil, or a 'necessary evil,' and, humanly speaking, it would obviously be far truer to call it a 'good.' The pure truth is that 'God alone is good' and that every earthly thing has some ambiguous side to it."

Thus, all Raccoons are fully aware of their lower nature, which automatically coonfurs protection against the kind of religious authoritarianism envisioned by the atheist trolls. If we are "better" than others, it is only because we are worse, and have had to repeatedly surpass ourselves. I am not nearly grandiose enough to claim that I am the worst of all. That designation is reserved for the true saints. That the atheists could see me in such a light is the highest flattery, if only I were thurstoning for such magooey blindishments, not to mention howeling for such maroonic loveys.

Now, here is how you end up being lojacked on the infrahuman plane. The miracle of our humanness has "a reason for being that is proportionate to its nature, and it is this that predestines -- or 'condemns' -- man to surpass himself; man is totally himself only by transcending himself. Quite paradoxically, it is only in transcending himself that man reaches his proper level; and no less paradoxically, by refusing to transcend himself he sinks below the animals which -- by their form and mode of passive contemplativity -- participate adequately and innocently in a celestial archetype; in a certain respect, a noble animal is superior to a vile man" (Schuon).

What a mean thing to say about Mackenzie, whose comments continue to frantically stink beneath themselves, and he with them.

I'm running out of time, so I'll just leave you with another observation which I think you'll agree is the esscence of claritin for your stuffed up nous:

"In a word, there is nothing more inhuman than humanism, by the fact that it, so to speak, decapitates man: wishing to make of him an animal which is perfect, it succeeds in turning him into a perfect animal; not all at once -- because it has the fragmentary merit of abolishing certain barbaric traits -- but in the long run, since it inevitably ends by 're-barbarizing' society, while 'dehumanizing' it ipso facto in depth."

Who could say it isn't so?

You know who. Let's just say they're not heaven scent. Hey Mac, open another window!

Smell ya' later.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sacrifice, Transcendence, and Vertical Recollection

Memorial Day -- like any holy-day -- is not a remembrance of things past, but of things present; specifically, it is a remembrance of things surpassed, or of the things that surpass us. Specifically, it is an occasion for vertical recollection of a divine archetype that is present now -- can only be present now -- but requires the substance of ritual in order to vividly apprehend and renew it.

We remember our heroes because they illuminate the eternal realm of the heroic, a realm that we must treasure and venerate if we are to survive as a culture. Not only is the hero a transcendent archetype, but he is only heroic because he has sacrificed something in defense of another archetype -- truth, liberty, beauty, the good, etc. In the absence of this true formulation, neither the heroic nor his sacrifice make any sense at all. This is why to "deconstruct," say, George Washington, is not just an attack on the father of our country, but on fatherhood, God, and the realm of transcendent (i.e., the Real) in general.

Will just left a lengthy comment that touches on many of the things I wanted to write about this morning. I will simply quote him:

"Memorial Day is certainly for honoring the fallen heroes of our military, and John Edwards' attempt to bastardize it for political ends is cheap to the point of 'deconstruction' profanity. Like most leftist stunts, it focuses on something that is, in the highest spiritual sense, truly ceremonial and attempts to tear away its divine resonance.

"So I was thinking, in what way is Memorial Day larger than it is -- as all spiritual ceremonies truly are? Well, as has been pointed out here, it's obvious that Memorial Day is a day for celebrating, honoring, remembering what heroism really means -- courageous self-sacrifice in the name higher ideals, principles, which are, to be sure, *spiritual* ideals and principles. So in one sense, our fallen military heroes are symbolic of this ideal. They are the most vivid, the most tangible representation of this ideal that we have before us. There are others, of course, who likewise are vivid, in-the-flesh symbols of this spiritual ideal: police, firefighters, the occasional citizen who rises to the heroic occasion and is so publicly honored. There is no hero, however, quite as vivid, quite so symbolic of self-sacrificing virtue than the military hero.

"The great wonder of it, of course, is that our fallen heroes are not paintings, statues, images -- they were and are human. They are us. And still they are symbols, ideals in the flesh -- destiny selected them to serve this role. That role is to remind us that we all are potential self-sacrificing heroes, that we all are of divine essence. Somehow, on some level, we must realize this, otherwise we wouldn't have a day for honoring our fallen heroes.

"The other day Bob alluded to the some of the symbolic threads in the Wizard of Oz. Overview-wise, I have long seen WoO as a tale of a journey into the Realm of Divine Archetypes wherein we (through Dorothy) see ourselves, and others, in our real, divine essence. In her eyes, her Kansas friends and acquaintances became Scarecrow, Lion, Tin Man -- became, in effect, their true selves, all on a heroic quest to reclaim their spiritual birthright. In Kansas, they were just dusty average Joes. In the Higher Realm, they were their real selves, knights, heroes.

"Most of us are Kansans. We do not have a symbolic public role to play. And yet there are countless souls who commit unseen (by the public) acts of tremendous self-sacrifice and heroism, whose deeds will never be acknowledged -- in some cases, not by a single other -- in this world. Our military heroes remind us that such heroism is possible. The secular attempt to 'deconstruct' military heroism is no less than an attempt to sever us from our Oz, our spiritual reality. We need daily remind ourselves that we are on the yellow brick road of our personal heroic quest. And we need to remind ourselves that, though our personal acts of heroism may never be acclaimed in this life, we will, in the fullness of time, be acknowledged as the heroes we imagine ourselves to be."

*****

About the only thing I can add is that John Edwards is a yellow prick load.

As a prelude.... I guess it's not a prelude anymore.... But anyway, I am reminded of a couple of particularly resonant lines in Van der Leun's beautiful piece yesterday, Small Flags: "These days we resent, it seems, having [cemeteries] fill at all, clinging to our tiny lives with a passion that passes all understanding; clinging to our large liberty with the belief that all payments on such a loan will be interest-free and deferred for at least 100 years."

Elsewhere he writes, "It is not, of course, that the size of the sacrifice has been reduced. That remains the largest gift one free man may give to the country that sustained him. It is instead the regard of the country for whom the sacrifices were made that has gotten smaller, eroded by the self-love that the secular celebrate above all other values" (emphasis mine).

*****

Ven der Leun touches on many themes that could be expanded into entire posts: the desperate clinging to our tiny lives; the earthly passion that passes all understanding since it denies transcendence; the notion that liberty is free (even less costly than air or water, which at least require the sacrifice of toilet tissue); that death is the greatest gift one man can give another; and that self-love is the polar opposite of true love and sacrifice, and that which causes the country to contract vertically even as it expands in every other way.

Sacred, sacrament, and sacrifice are all etymologically linked; all are derived from sacer, or to the holy and mysterious. This itself is interesting, for holy, of course, implies wholeness, and wholeness is indeed a portal to mystery, just as "partness" is a perpetual riddle that verges on the bizarre. For example, a psychotic person lives in a bizarre world of disconnected objects and experiences that he cannot synthesize into unity, or wholeness. Often he will superimpose a false unity in the form of paranoid delusions -- something we transparently see in a collective form on the left. Paranoia is "a false wholeness," but it is never far from the nameless dread that sponsors it.

A couple of days ago I noted the truism that leftist thought -- even more than being ruled by emotion -- is primarily iconic. Or one might say that the left simply has very passionate feelings about its icons, which they confuse with "thoughts." You can see this same phenomenon in our recent deust-up with the atheist folks, who are also (ironically, but not really) ruled by overpowering feelings about their own sacred icons. Point out where they are wrong, and they hysterically accuse you of calling them animals and depriving them of the humanity which they deprive themselves. Rational they are not. Or, at the very least, the more sober among them prove the adage that there is a form of madness that consists of losing everything with the exception of one's reason.

Back to the leftists. A disturbing number of them not only believe that Islamic terrorists are not engaged in a global war against Western civilization (or "civilization," for short), but that the United States government itself engineered 9-11. Van der Leun alludes to this, where he writes of how increasing numbers of American asses with Rosie-colored glasses prefer "to take refuge in the unbalanced belief that 9/11 was actually something planned and executed by the American government. Why many of my fellow Americans prefer this 'explanation' is something that I once felt was beyond comprehension. Now I see it is just another comfortable position taken up by those for whom the habits of automatic treason have become just another fashionable denigration of the country that has made their liberty to believe the worst of it not only possible but popular."

Yes, the left is insane, but exactly kind of insanity is this? How have they become so detached from reality?

It has to do with the specific reality from which they have become detached. As another fine example of the shallowness and naivete of atheist thought, one of them writes that

"Millions and millions of people died in Russia and China under communist governments -- and those governments were both secular and atheistic, right? So weren't all of those people killed in the name of atheism and secularism? No. Atheism itself isn't a principle, cause, philosophy, or belief system which people fight, die, or kill for. Being killed by an atheist is no more being killed in the name of atheism than being killed by a tall person is being killed in the name of tallness."

This looks like a banal statement -- which it unavoidably is -- and yet, it is quite sinister in its implications, and illuminates all of Van der Leun's points mentioned above. First, atheism is petty and unworthy of man. No one would kill for it, just as no one would die for it, since it is the substance of meaninglessness, precisely. Why sacrifice one's life for the principle that there are no transcendent principles worth dying for?

The least of atheism's baleful effects is that it automatically makes the hero a fool because there is nothing worth defending. The more catastrophic effect is that it leaves the field open to evil-doers who are openly hostile to the transcendent principles that animate our uniquely decent and beautiful civilization. This is why you see an Old Europe that is supine before the barbarians in its midst who wish to destroy it. Socialism has nothing to do with "generosity" or selflessness; rather, it is the quintessence of selfishness, and diminishes a man down to the conviction that his animal needs should be provided for by someone else. The only thing that can rouse his passion is a threat to his entitlements. Only if the Islamists were to threaten their 12 weeks of paid vacation would they be taken seriously by socialist EUnuchs.

This is also why, as Ven der Leun writes, the habits of automatic treason have become just another fashionable denigration of the country that has made their liberty to believe the worst of it not only possible but popular. As I noted yesterday, this is the complete and utter cynicism that results from destroying the reality of the vertical and clinging to one's puny life with the passion that passes understanding.

For just as wholeness, the One, is associated with the peace that passes understanding, the exile from this real human world into the bizarre and fragmented world of the secular left brings not so much the passion that passes understanding, but the passion that cannot comprehend itself because it has no vector or direction beyond the self. In fact, nothing can be understood in the absence of that which it is converging upon, which reveals its meaning. To systematically deny the vertical is to obliterate the possibility of meaning and truth, which is obvious; however, it is also to destroy the hero and that transcendent reality for which he is willing to sacrifice his life.

Only in such a debased and (literally this time) subhuman world can a truly malevolent soul such as John Edwards be considered fit to rule, for there is nothing odd about cannibals electing a cannibal king -- or of the utterly cynical and self-absorbed voting for one of their own.

Of the sacred, Schuon writes that it is in the first place "attached to the transcendent order, secondly, possesses the character of absolute certainty and, thirdly, eludes the comprehension and control of the ordinary human mind. Imagine a tree whose leaves, having no kind of direct knowledge about the root, hold a discussion about whether or not a root exists and what its form is if it does: if a voice then came from the root telling them that the root does exist and what its form is, that message would be sacred."

Again, the message is sacred and holy because it is transcendent and relates knowledge of the whole.

Therefore, the sacred also represents "the presence of the center in the periphery, of the immutable in the moving; dignity is essentially an expression of it, for in dignity too the center manifests outwardly; the heart is revealed in gestures. The sacred introduces a quality of the absolute into relativities and confers on perishable things a texture of eternity." (Never again wonder at the profound lack of diginity of the left, for it is intrinsic and inevitable.)

Another way of saying it is that the sacred relates to the world as "the interference of the uncreate in the created, of the eternal in time, of the infinite in space, of the supraformal in forms; it is the mysterious introduction into one realm of existence of a presence which in reality contains and transcends that realm and could cause it to burst asunder in a sort of divine explosion. The sacred is the incommensurable, the transcendent, hidden within a fragile form belonging to this world; it has its own precise rules, its terrible aspects and its merciful qualities; moreover any violation of the sacred, even in art, has incalculable repercussions. Intrinsically the sacred is inviolable, and so much so that any attempted violation recoils on the head of the violator."

Yes with regard to the latter, be careful, because I might just drop a house on you!

Which brings us back to Will's riff on the Wizard of Oz. On the one hand, the United States, more than any other nation, is flat and dusty old Kansas. But at the same time, it is Oz, the vertical and shining Emerald City on a hill. We must never forget either fact, one of them Real, the other only merely real.

Monday, May 28, 2007

On Remembering the Heroic Sacrifice to Vertical Principles

In the space of just a generation or two, we have gone from the cultural ideal of the hero to the ideal of the antihero, the former being a rebel with a transcendent cause, the latter being a rebellious person without one. In light of this, Memorial Day almost seems quaint to many people, while for the left, it can only be a day of perversion and/or frank rebellion. John Edwards' attempt to turn the day into a protest against the military is about as cynical and low as it gets. Might as well turn the Martin Luther King Holiday into a celebration of petty racial divisiveness instead of the universal heroic struggle for human liberation.... Oh, wait a minute....

Although I revere Frithjof Schuon (among other men of singular spiritual genius), obviously I cannot go along with his total condemnation of modernity. And yet, I do wonder: is man becoming -- or has he already become -- something he was never intended to be? Are we, as a result of liberty, democracy, and especially the free market, achieving our potential, or are we deviating further and further away from it? Undoubtedly it is a bit of both, and it is critical that we understand which is which -- or, to ask it another way, what are the novel developments that bring us closer to our divine archetype -- that "please God," if you like -- and what are those that pull us further down into the mud?

I would never argue against the freedom of the free market; and yet, at the same time, it does need to be acknowledged that the radical transformations brought about by the market create a new kind of environment which no human actually created but to which we must nevertheless adapt. The things to which we must adapt range from being annoying to vacuous to satanic, and it is important that we not confuse who we are eternally with the transient conditions to which we must adapt. This is surely one of the purposes of religion: to show us the real human ideal and to keep the enduring goal of life in view, irrespective of the local conditions in which we find ourselves.

Indeed, one of the many miracles of scripture is that it somehow equally applies to barbarian nomadic tribes 3000 years ago as it does to modern people today. It is analogous to a great work of art, which is characterized by three things: universality, timelessness, and inexhaustibility. First, great art is universal -- it is trans- and cross-cultural, in such a way that any human being can love and appreciate it. This is why, for example, the moment man became man, he was capable of memorializing that fact with the artistic perfection seen in the cave paintings at Altamira or Lascaux. Our culture could not possibly be more different from their's, and yet, we are still astoneaged by the transcendent beauty that radiates from their hands.

Just as art and scripture are universal, they are timeless. Another way of saying it is that they partake of eternity, or that eternity radiates or is "transmitted" through them. This reminds me of our recent bonehead atheist visitors, who would undoubtedly say, "Duh, Bob, can you prove that?" To which I can only say, "yes, but not to you." All Raccoons are lovers of art, but not just any art. Rather, art that specifically transmits implicit knowledge of eternity and of eternal things. That the atheist is mired down below in the material mind is "not our problem." It would only become a problem if they were to somehow become the majority and therefore enfarce, even if unwettingly, their dryasdust infrahuman (and as always, I mean this literally, not as some sort of insult) voyage on the ocean of being.

Finally, great art and scripture are inexhaustible; which is to say, they partake of the infinite. What intrigues me, as a music lover, is how this quality of inexhaustibility can even be mysteriously present in a three-minute pop or blues number that was never intended to be more than jazz-age diversion or hippie FMera. I will admit that I am unable at this point in my life to truly appreciate the bottomless depths of Bach or Beethoven, but frankly, this is because I am still too distracted by lesser music that, in a way, is more mysterious for being so simple.

I don't want to get sidetracked into a musical discussion here, but an example that comes readily to mind is, say, the beautiful timbre of Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar. Not the fluid virtuosity, the speed, the spontaneous creativity, just the pure sound itself. I am aware of at least one Raccoon who knows exactly what I'm talking about with regard to SRV's unique sound-signature. This tone cuts straight through to the soul (one of the ways we know we have one), but one wonders how? The same can be said for Van Morrison's growl, or Brian Wilson's blend of harmonies, or Sonny Rollins' sax tone, or the suspended silence between Bill Evans' piano notes. These are inexhaustible mysteries to which I can be exposed again and again without boredom or "saturation" ever setting in. It is always new -- which, of course, is one of the primary characteristics of the Old One.

God makes all things new -- which is why boredom is impossible on the spiritual path, or the "adventure of consciousness." This is yet another completely obvious statement that the atheist cannot possibly know (or he wouldn't be an atheist). And although this is a spiritual truth, it is actually something I discovered during the course of my psychotherapy, in particular, a period that lasted for several years in the late '80s and early 90s. I had finished my Ph.D., was married, and had finally left the supermarket for a "career" as a psychologist. I had even begun to publish papers in professional journals. And yet, something was wrong. I won't go into all the details, but the point is that I was unable to "renew my mind." Instead of the open spiral -- the adventure of consciousness -- I was on the line or circle. I had taken things as far as I could on the "human plane," so to speak, and I suppose it was pretty far by conventional standards. However, if I had stayed on that path, my life would have been more or less of a waste.

Not until I discovered the open circle of the higher life -- the divine-human limited lieability partnership -- did things really take off. But here is what I mean about the dangers of the modern society to which we must adapt. The only way you can vault yourself into this open circle is by detaching yourself, in one way or another, from the "world" as it is given to us. Thus, to an outside observer, it probably looked as if less and less were happening in my life, when the reverse was true: more and more was happening, only on a different plane.

The Orthodox Way begins with an anecdote about one of the Desert Fathers who went on a pilgrimage to Rome. There he "was told of a celebrated recluse, a woman who lived always in one small room, never going out. Skeptical about her way of life -- for he was a great wanderer -- he called on her and asked: 'Why are you sitting here?' To which she replied: 'I am not sitting. I am on a journey.'

"Every Christian may apply these words to himself or herself. To be a Christian is to be a traveller.... We live in tents, not houses, for spiritually we are always on the move. We are on a journey through the inward space of the heart, a journey not measured by the hours of our watch or the days of the calendar, for it is a journey out of time into eternity."

Damn, I had intended this post to delve more deeply into the spiritual meaning and significance of the heroism of the men who have fought and died for our liberty. Let us just say that there are many Americans who maintain that the person who risks his life in defense of a transcendent ideal that doesn't actually exist can only be a fool, a loser, a victim. This is what the leftist means when he affirms his support of the troops. Our fighting men and women are too stupid to even know that they are simply being used by George Bush and his cronies -- which is a transparent projection of the utter cynicism, the complete spiritual vacuum at the heart of the left.

For if you have rejected God and cut yourself off from the transcendent plane, you must be a cynic. Or put it this way: you are either a believer or you are a cynic, and if you are a cynic, you are condemned to a plane in which the mind and spirit cannot renew themselves, for the simple reason that you are not an "open system," open to the source of our being. Therefore, among other things, you must compensate for the renewal of your mind with manic and pointless activities and pursuits. You may think you are excitedly "running to," but you are simply running from. You are not an activist but a lacktivist. Raccoons certainly see it, even if you can't. Frankly, you are pathetic -- which we say with empathy, not hostility.

The reason the cynic is cynical is because he has cashed in transcendence for immanence. Therefore, his cynicism is simply a natural reflection of his flatland existence. Just as hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, cynicism is the backhanded tribute immanence pays to transcendence -- or perhaps a sort of petty pleasure one takes in one's own self-imposed hexisle in the horizontal. And for the same reason these people are so cynical about weighty matters, they are the most gullible in their acceptance of shallow trivialities which rush in to fill the void, such as Al Gore's weather hysteria.

But the point of today's holiday is to honor those heroes who are heroic because they embodied and fought for the transcendent ideal of spiritual liberty -- not for the United States per se, but only insofar as the United States is the embodiment and realization of a spiritual ideal. Their lives and deaths have only been in vain to the extent that we squander our own God-given liberty and abandon the spiritual principles upon which this country was founded. Can you imagine the pain of thinking you had given your life for Paris Hilton or Bill Maher? I know that Raccoons know that this is not said in bitterness, but to illuminate a critically important principle.

To put it another way, although we can never repay the debt of gratitude we owe to these men and women, the only way we can begin to make it up to them is by living the transcendent ideal for which they gave their lives. It is the only way they -- and mankind -- can fulfill their spiritual mission in the divine spiral. So long as your life is not spiritually in vain, then neither will theirs' have been. It is something I never allow myself to forget.

(By the way, if there are any vets or active military out there -- or family -- who would like a free copy of my book, just drop me an email.)