Rewordgitating Thoughts & Other Refluxions
I think I mentioned awhile back that Bion published a book in 1967 called Second Thoughts. The first half of the book was a collection of his early papers from the 1950s, while the second half of the book was his commentary on them from a completely new vantage point, based upon his revolutionary metapsychological advances in the 1960s. Thus, there is a double or triple meaning in the title, e.g., second thoughts, or reservations, about his early thinking, which Bion, in typical fashion, used as an occasion to dwell on the nature of thought in general.
That is, presumably Bion's "second thoughts" would eventually require third thoughts, fourth thoughts, and so on, as he changed in relation to them. For example, of one of his early papers, he writes, "I am not unappreciative of the account; I think if it were some other psychoanalyst's report I would think it quite good. But as it is, I do not recognize the patient or myself." In fact, this is how real thought develops, which is to say, in dynamic rapport with an evolving thinker. The trick is to realize that this doesn't make truth relative, because it is "guided," so to speak, by an absolute of which it can never be more than an approximation.
Another unappreciated problem is that of too rapid understanding, which is no understanding at all. As Bion writes, it is possible for a patient to see the meaning of something so quickly "that the psychoanalyst is surprised to find a moment later that the patient has apparently no understanding of what has been said to him. The speed of his thoughts makes him able to closure the statement being discussed before he has had time to understand it."
As an aside, this is no doubt why Jesus spoke mainly in parables, so as to prevent such rapid nonderstanding. As another aside, this is very much a central problem in theology, for there is no rapid understanding of God. Or, to put it another way, it is possible today to take a helicopter to the top of Mount Everest. But is that the same as having climbed it? Let's just say that if you take communion, don't forget to chew, or you'll never be swallowed by God.
Oh yes. I was extremely moved by some of the comments yesterday, more than I can express at the moment. Some of you bastards actually succeeded in choking me up. I can't tell you how much it means to me that I've had an impact on you. It's as if reaching a deep part of you simultaneously reaches a deep part of me, and the one isn't possible without the other.
Q: We don't need another blog. Why are you inflicting your beastly opinions on us?
A: To those of you who are new to this site, join the club, as I am still in the process of trying to understand the author's intentions. For surely, there are already far too many books and blogs, with no way any human being could ever assimilate the information contained therein. Actually, the problem we face is how to relate all of this fragmented and sometimes contradictory knowledge into a coherent picture of our world -- to move from mere facts, to knowledge, to understanding, and to wisdom.
I am a clinical psychologist with a background in psychoanalysis, and, like Shrinkwrapped, Dr. Sanity, and other Uncle Fromms, will attempt to "put the world on the couch," so to speak. If you can detach yourself somewhat and try to "hover" above it, the news of the day may be regarded as the free associations of a very troubled patient called Homo sapiens, a self-flattering designation meaning "wise ape." This patient, now about 40,000 years old (before that we were genetically Homo sapiens but not particularly human), has many sub-personalities of varying levels of emotional maturity, and one of his problems is that these different aspects of his personality are constantly at war with one another, which tends to drag down the more mature parts.
You could almost go so far as to say that this collective patient suffers from the kind of severe splitting and "acting out" characteristic of Multiple Personality Disorder. One of my axioms is that geographical space reflects developmental time, so that different nations and countries embody different levels of psychological maturity. In this regard, the Islamic world bottoms out the scale at the moment.
More broadly, what I hope to bring to the inner table is an appreciation of the "vertical" dimension of human history, culture and politics. For example, historians typically view history in a horizontal manner, leading from past, to present, to future. Likewise, we divide our political mindscape in a horizontal fashion, from left to right. However, as in a great novel or film, the "horizontal" plot is merely a device to express the artist's greater intention (the theme), which can only be found in a vertical realm, by standing "above" the plot.
Every patient who comes into therapy is the star of a motion picture that isn't going quite right. They will spend the first few sessions telling you the plot, but soon the therapist will be aware of a vertical dimension where the true but unKnown "author" of the plot lies (or, to be precise, truths). This is called the unconscious. However, this is just one realm of the vertical. Spirituality is also located on the vertical plane, both very low (as in jihad or human sacrifice) and high (such as genuine mysticism).
Q: Why "One Cosmos?"
A: The title of the blog is taken from my book, One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit. You might say that the book tries to follow the vertical thread that runs through the entire cosmos, ultimately uniting us with our source. That thread runs through physics, biology, psychology, religion, history, anthropology, art, and much more, and yet, it is somehow all One.
Perhaps the central theme of both book and blog is that the frontiers of knowledge and understanding lay not in the further extension of various fields and subspecialties, but in the borderland between them. Around 40,000 years ago, our patient, Homo sapiens, began splintering into its diverse groups, but underneath all of the bewildering diversity is a vertical unity that this blog will attempt to illuminate in various ways. For the key to growth is understanding ourselves, both individually and collectively. Without it, we remain a child forever.
Q: It seems like you find a way to flog your book in every post.
That's not a question. However, you have a point. Mainly it's because I purchased 100 copies of my book from my publisher, and I would like to get rid of them. After that I'll tone it down. (Note: those books are now gone.)
Having said that, it would be a shame if the book disappeared into obscurity without reaching its intended audience. There is a certain type of person out there --somewhat difficult to describe, but you know who you are--for whom my book will be just the thing. (Note: there is now a name for these people Raccoons.)
Q: Who are you, anyway?
A: "Clinical psychologist Robert Godwin is an extreme seeker and off-road spiritual aspirant who has spent no less than one lifetime in search of the damn key to the world enigma. A high school graduate at just seventeen and a-half, Dr. Godwin attended business school until the vagaries of academic probation and expulsion led him to pursue other missed opportunities. Capitalizing on a natural ability to simultaneously enjoy movies and lower his expectations, Godwin eventually earned a film degree in just four terms (Ford/Carter and parts of Nixon/Reagan. Initially denied admission to graduate school on grounds of "inadequate" academic preparation (their words), Holy Happenstance intervened in the nick of time, and Dr. Godwin went on to obtain two advanced degrees in psychology without allowing it to interfere with his education or with ongoing spiritual research conducted in his suburban liberatoreum. Lengthy periods there of higher bewilderment and intense non-doing resulted in important advances in egobliteration and karmannihilation. At the same time, Dr. Godwin spent many years searching and researching for his book, only to conclude that it did not exist, and that if he wanted to read it, he would have to write it. Having now read it a number of times, he is happy to share that burden with a wider audience of fertile eggheads interested in peering behind the annoying veil that separates them from ultimate reality."
Q: Who's Petey?
A: Petey is my discarnate collaborator, or "household gnome," as he calls himself. He is somewhat obnoxious and unreliable, but he often provides me with ideas to write about. He'll generally just throw something out -- a cryptic or possibly craptic word or phrase -- and leave to me to elaborate.
Q: Why the spiritual mumbo-jumbo?
I don't think it's healthy to orient your life around politics 24/7, as does the secular left, for which politics is their substitute religion. Politics must aim at something that isn't politics, otherwise, what's the point? Politics just becomes a cognitive system to articulate your existential unhappiness. Again, this is what leftists do -- everything for them is politicized.
One of the general purposes of this blog is to try to look at politics in a new way -- to place the day-to-day struggle of politics in a much wider historical, evolutionary, and even cosmic context. History is trying to get somewhere, and it is our job to help it get there. However, that "somewhere" does not lie within the horizontal field of politics, but beyond it. Thus, politics must not only be grounded in something that isn't politics, but aim at something that isn't politics either.
This is not an abstract, impractical or esoteric notion. The ultimate purpose of politics should be to preserve the radical spiritual revolution of the American founders, so that humans may evolve inwardly and upwardly -- not toward a manifest destiny but an unmanifest deustiny.
For example, when we say that politics must be grounded in something that isn't politics, we are simply reflecting the philosophy at the heart of the American revolution, that the sacred rights of mankind, as expressed by Alexander Hamilton, are written in human nature "by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased by mortal power." In short, human beings possess a "spiritual blueprint" that is antecedent to politics, and which it is the task of politics to protect, preserve and nurture.
But not for its own sake. The founders, who were steeped in Judeo-Christian metaphysics, did not believe in mere license, which comes down to meaningless freedom on the horizontal plane. Rather, they believed that horizontal history had a beginning and was guided by a purpose, and that only through the unfolding of human liberty could that "vertical" purpose be achieved. Our founders were progressive to the core, but unlike our contemporary reactionary and anti-evolutionary leftists, they measured progress in relation to permanent standards that lay outside time -- metaphorically speaking, an eschatological "Kingdom of God," or "city on a hill," drawing us toward it. Without this nonlocal telos, the cosmos can really have no frontiers, only edges. Perhaps this is why the left confuses truth with "edginess."
Liberty -- understood in its spiritual sense -- was the key idea of the founders. This cannot be overemphasized. According to Michael Novak, liberty was understood as the "axis of the universe," and history as "the drama of human liberty." Thomas Jefferson wrote that "the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time." It was for this reason that Jefferson chose for the design of the seal of the United States Moses leading the children of Israel out of the death-cult of Egypt, out of the horizontal wasteland of spiritual bondage, into the open circle of a higher life. America was quite consciously conceived as an opportunity to "re-launch" mankind after such an initial 100,000 years or so of disappointment, underachievement, and spiritual stagnation.
Although it may sound slightly heretical, without human liberty, the Creator is helpless to act in the horizontal. This does not diminish the Creator but exalts him, for a moment's reflection reveals that an intimation of our spiritual freedom absolutely belies any mere material explanation found within the horizontal confines of history. For ours is an inwardly mobile cosmos, and as the philosopher of science Stanley Jaki writes, our free will brings us "face to face with that realm of metaphysical reality which hangs in midair unless suspended [vertically] from that Ultimate Reality, best called God, the Creator."
Tip O’Neill is evidently responsible for the cliché that “All politics is local.” The greater truth is that all politics is nonlocal, meaning that outward political organization rests on a more fundamental, “inner” ground that interacts with a hierarchy of perennial and timeless values. Arguments about the surface structure of mundane political organization really have to do with whose nonlocal values will prevail, and the local system that will be established in order to achieve those nonlocal values.
Q: Who is Gagdad Bob?
"Gagdad Bob" is the name I began using over at LGF. I became an avid fan of LGF very early on, and initially posted under the name "Bob G" in the primeval days before Charles even required registration. At first Bob G. tried offering intelligent comments, sometimes expressing anger at the latest MSM-Lefist-Islamic outrage, but after awhile he began trying to lighten things by offering humorous little one-liners, many of which are actually thought up by Petey. (Some of the perceived "Islamophobia" is actually Petey's editorializing.)
Gagdad Bob tries to challenge himself to see humor in the most dire or disgusting news of the day. He has adopted the philosophy that we should spend less time being frightened of Islamists and more time mocking and ridiculing them -- "joking them out of their holes," so to speak.