Rollin' Into a Strange Attractor With a Tiger in My Tummy (1.06.11)
Now, back to our transconscious journey through the hidden arteries of the cosmos to look for the meaning and purpose of free will, which otherwise hangs suspended from our official scientific paradigm like a loose shirttail with no footprints in the air. Either it is significant, or it's not significant. But if it's not significant, then it's difficult to account for how only its existence makes possible something as manifestly significant as science. And how can one have a science that is unable to justify the necessary conditions for its own existence, i.e., minds that are free to discover truth? That view is positively wacky, that's what it is.
I don't know how many of you saw that little Terence McKenna clip on You Tube I linked to the other day. If you did, then you can see what an extraordinarily fertile mind he had. Nevertheless, a backyard full of weeds is also fertile, so fertility itself is neither her nor there. As my father used to tell me, "you've got more fertilizer than Bandini."
I remember once during a talk, an audience member asked McKenna to speculate about something (I forget what it was), and McKenna responded -- apparently only half-ironically -- "Oh, I never speculate." To a certain extent that was actually true, since he based everything on personal experience, including countless experiences under the influence of psychedelic drugs. For him, what we call "normality" was just another arbitrary, chemically induced brain state. So in a way, he was strictly empirical, but this only goes to show how deceptive concrete appearances can be.
McKenna's freewheeling approach, while entertaining, leads to cognitive anarchy, of which he was actually a proponent. It was as if he preferred to have no portions of the mind reduced to civilization, i.e., "consensus reality," but a complete bewilderness oddventure in which every spud was radically free to live in his own private Idaho. But as we've been saying, this is not freedom, any more than knowledge can exist in a universe without unconditional truth. Or, if it is freedom, then it's the sort of tyrannical freedom discussed by bedwetting existentialists such as Sartre, i.e., indistinguishable from "nothingness."
In contrast, the whole purpose of traditional metaphysics is to show us what must necessarily be concretely true, despite appearances -- not only what is true in this here cosmos, but in any hypothetical cosmos. Metaphysics deals with the conditions of existence. Period. On a deeper level, religion discloses this objective metaphysics through its symbolic forms. The fact that scripture does this in such a way that it transcends whatever its writers thought they were writing about, leads to the conclusion that it is at the very least "inspired," but "revealed" is probably more like it. I can say this because I never speculate.
As we were saying yesterday, if you think about the barbarity of the Hebrew tribes that were handed the Jewish revelation, you know that it couldn't have sprung from the unaided mind of man as such. At best, they could have come up with childlike, spookulative fairy tales, not any kind of transcendent wisdom that would fruitfully occupy the sharpest human minds for the subsequent three or four thousand years.
Seriously, you try that -- yes, you over there, Dennett or Dawkins or Harris -- let's see one of these sods produce a single sentence that won't be forgotten just as soon as they're safely beneath the sod, let alone pored over thousands of years from now. In a way, these flatulent earthbounders are just the inevitable shadow given off by the light, sinbiotic and parasightless Nietzschean leeches on the inner reaches of primordial speechings and celestial teachings. So there.
Let's look at it -- or listen to it -- this way. Think of the thousands of musical sophisticates who have obtained Ph.D.s in music in the past half century. How many of them have written a single note of music that will be remurmured by thousands of lips hence?
In coontrast -- and I could be way wrong or naive about this, but I don't think I am -- a Johnny Cash, for example -- a musical primitive if ever there was one -- will still be appreciated. Let alone Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, or [early] Ray Charles. What do they "know" that the musicologists don't? For obviously these primitives possessed a form of sophisticated knowledge, even if that knowledge cannot be represented in any abstract way, and is ultimately not reducible to anything other than itself. It is literally inconceivable that there could be a pop singer who could ever surpass Sinatra, meaning that he somehow embodied "ultimate" musical knowledge. How can this be? I can't tell you. It's a secret, Mr. Jones.
Now, according to the Zohar -- the basis of esoteric Jewish thought -- the world only survives because of its secret. What's that supposed to mean? I can't tell you. It's a secret. Okay, I'll play you just a lila bit. But don't you toil, anybody!
For starters, it means that the secret is not at the bottom of the cosmos, but at the toppermost of the poppermost, like a man on a flaming pie. You're not going to disclose the secret of existence by pulverizing matter into smaller and smaller bits with bigger and bigger hammers. Since existence is a hierarchical manifestation from above, it is as if each level is "stamped" by the level immediately above. As such, there is inevitably some information that is "lost" with each successive level. Thus, the higher can disclose the lower, but the lower can only partially disclose the higher. As we have said, life isn't the secret of DNA; rather, DNA is the secret of life. And sow on, if you seed what I mean. That's the harvest part.
This is why, no matter what you say about the Creator, it's never enough because it's too damn much and can't possibly "contain" him anyway. Human language can contain what is lower than language, but never what is higher. As such, this is why the higher dimensions can only be spoken of in a poetic, symbolic, elliptical, or suggestive manner, through which the symbol unsays much more than we could ever say. I suppose it's somewhat analogous to opera. In opera, the story line is usually rather lame and skeletal. It only hints at the real action, which is taking place on a purely musical level. If the libretto were less lame -- i.e., more saturated and detailed -- this would obscure the music's ability to convey the much deeper level of transverbal meaning.
This, of course, is why Jesus speaks in parables. For one thing, being who he was, he couldn't speak in any other way. But even on a purely talktical level, this was the only way to make sure that his words would have a timeless and transcultural relevance. As the liner notes of one of my Sinatra records say (written by Stan Cornyn, King of Bad Liner Notes), he always sings like he's got an extra tank of Texaco in his tummy. Jesus too has an "extra tank of Texaco in his tummy," which means that he only says enough so that you may "participate" in what he's talking about. He never puts the pedal to the metal and screams at you -- neither Frank nor Jesus -- but is always simultaneously relaxed and intense. It is said that the greatest singers sound as if they could be singing to you while sitting in your lap.
That goes double for some of the greatest prophets. When they start yelling at you, or hectoring, or getting right in your face, that's when you know they're lousy singers, like Janis Joplin. This is because a great prophet is singing from the attractor, so that he will "draw you in," rather than drag you by the lapels. Don't get me wrong -- they do at times have to get in your face, but this takes on added significance because of its exceptional nature.
What's my point? I don't have to have a point. I'm Bob's unconscious. I can just say whatever comes to mind without censoring myself. But I never speculate.
One of my favorite strange attractors:
Here you go. You know, relaxed. Nice & easy. Takin' every step along the way. Tiger in the tummy: