Beauty and the Beasts
So this path surely involves "seeing the differences," but not with Darwinian eyes, which see only what the genes want them to see. For example, a frog will starve to death before eating a perfectly good insect that isn't moving, or die of thirst before drinking a California wine. But the way of the Raccoon involves recognizing the differences between truth and error, appearances and reality, beauty and ugliness, virtue and sin, ego and Self, Petey and Deepak. To be objective -- which no mere animal can do -- is to touch the Absolute.
You will have noticed that we have two main types of trolls, one no better than the other; on the one hand, we have the self-refuting materialists, bonehead atheists, and scientolaters, such as Ray -- those metaphysical yahoos who think that myopia is just another kind of vision; on the other hand, we have the new age "integralist" types whose real beef, if you scratch beneath the surface, is with discernment, or with thought itself. The former live in a world of geometry with no music, while the latter live in a cloud with no boundaries.
I suppose we also get the occasional leftist troll, but they are almost always marked by an acrid soul stench that suffuses their every utterance -- a "bad will" that is functionally the opposite of discernment, so that it sows confusion and generates vulgarity and stupidity.
For the proud scientolaters there is hope, since they still seem to value truth and logic, at least within a very narrow range of application. And for the fuzzy new-age integralists there is hope, since they still seem to value compassion, although in such a way that it loses its value, being that it is without the discernment and severity that imbue it with integral truth. But the leftists are truly in love with falsehood, ugliness, and rebellion, so they can't be helped, at least by me.
Yesterday, one of the "cloudy" types took issue with my statement that the Raccoon wages a battle on two fronts, "against those who reduce religion to a kind of dense and stupid materialism, and those who turn materialism into a dense and stupid religion (lizards and other scientolaters who are refractory to human Intelligence, and who would childishly eliminate the realm of eternal truth and the uncreated intellect that may uniquely know it)."
For the cloudy type who hates conflict and judgment (which he confuses with judgmentalism), the task is to merely efface the gulf between good and evil or truth and error by oozing platitudes and calling it "enlightenment" or something equivalent. These new age blobs render everything indistinct, which creates a kind of inverse image of enlightenment, in that it is a unity "from below" instead of "above." It doesn't transcend thought, but fails to even reach it.
This becomes abundantly clear when you read their writings, which cannot fail to demonstrate "where they are coming from," which is to say, below. I often crack on Deepak, but I could just as easily pick on dozens of other self-proclaimed gurus who manifest the identical errors, not just in terms of the content, but in the very form of their thinking. Suffice it to say that they are not "thinking in O," or they could not believe what they believe.
Here -- not to get too sidetracked, but let's examine the latest idiocy from the Enlightened One, Deepak. Like all members of the Reality Based Community, he persists in the belief that we are losing the war in Iraq, mainly because he deeply wishes for us to lose, i.e., for evil to prevail over good.
First of all, Deepak calls the United States a "pitiful, helpless giant," and says that "History is repeating itself almost verbatim today in Iraq" and that we must "face the reality that wars are not always won" (ironically, a reality he cannot accept, since his side is losing).
As with Vietnam, we just have to admit defeat and surrender to the genocidal monsters, although Deepak clearly believes that we are the genocidal and imperialistic monsters. As such, he declares that we must not only end the war, but "make reparations for the immense devastation we recklessly caused." Our brave men and women did not liberate Iraq, nor are they attempting the bring the light of democracy to a part of the world where it has never existed. Rather, like Nazi Germany, our efforts in Iraq are nothing but "a naked exercise in national pride." Thus, "The giant had to swagger across the world stage, bringing war where there was no cause."
Do you see how this wicked man lives in an upside down world -- intellectually, morally, and even aesthetically, as revealed by his barbarous and graceless use of language? Furthermore, he conceals it all under the pompous and sanctimonious belief that he is spiritually superior to the rest of us, operating out of "higher consciousness." He also -- not surprisingly -- insists that that vacuous, chronic liar, Obama, will bring the same "quantum leap" in politics that Deepak brings to spirituality: "So far he's relied on realism, flatly telling the public that the war has been a debacle."
Oh, really? Unlike Deepak, Obama's very problem is that he knows he cannot get elected only with the support of idiots, hate-mongers, and the reality-challenged. In short, he is trying to finesse a way to court normal people without alienating his base of crazies.
Anyway. Enough ugliness. Back to beauty. Again, I've been reading this collection of Schuon's writings on art, beauty, and aesthetics, so I think I'll just reflect on some of the thoughts it has provoked. (All quoted material is from the book.)
Again, one way the Creator manifests his qualities to us is through beauty, both through "virgin nature" and through genuine works of art. This itself provides a hint, for when man acts as "creator," he is exercising his deiform nature by imitating the Creator -- at least to the extent that his artistic creations mirror divine qualities. Art is no less a human need than knowledge, since "Man lives by Truth and Beauty."
I am sure that most Raccoons are well aware of this, which is why we are magnetically attracted to both, which must be "metabolized" and interiorized; they must be woven into our very substance, so that the soul may "realize" its intrinsic Truth and Beauty.
All other animals are creatures; only man is both creature and creator. Again, this means that we span creation vertically and "axially," from top to bottom. "Man by his theomorphism is at the same time a work of art and also an artist; a work of art because he is an 'image,' and an artist because this image is that of the divine Artist."
Yesterday a new toll left a curious comment objecting to my statement that I try to express perennial truth in a novel way (a la jazz improvisation), whereas scientific truth by its very nature is subject to change, and does not fundamentally value novel expression; in other words, only in spiritual expression is beauty a necessary component, as it involves more "total" or integral truth.
Another way of saying it is that "Human art, like divine Art, includes both determinate and indeterminate aspects, aspects of necessity and freedom, of rigor and joy." Thus, science expresses "relatively necessary" truths which cannot account for our freedom to know and express them, nor is there any necessary component of cosmic "joy," or ananda, in them. (Although there is obviously a kind of "passional joy" involved in the scientific pursuit.)
But real art memorializes "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."
So creation itself is just such a "divine explosion," and human art is a remembrance of this explosion, which the profane artist confuses with mere rebellion or "transgression." Bad art is explosive as well, except that it explodes reality, not illusion -- just as Deepak crudely explodes decency, truth, and felicity of expression.
In ether worlds,
A self-willed division, expulsion & exile, and badda-bing, badda-
a wondrous thunder rends it all asunder. The molten infinite pours forth a blazen torrent of incandescent finitude, as light plunges an undying fire into its own shadow (oops! a dirty world) and falls in love with the productions of time... --The Coonifesto