Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Beauty, Milk, Poop, Soul Jazz, and the Miscaste Obama

As I mentioned to a commenter yesterday, although I obviously cite Schuon a lot, I cannot say I am a disciple, nor do I believe he is infallible. One big reason I can't be a disciple is that I am quite certain that he would disapprove of my use of his ideas. In fact, if he were still alive, I would probably live in fear that he would find out about me and Go Medieval on my... person, like Dupree did to LaFayette last night.

I am reminded of when James Joyce was asked if he had relied upon the ideas of Giambattista Vico in his Finnegans Wake, and he responded "I would not pay overmuch attention to these theories, beyond using them for all they're worth." So I don't pay much attention to Schuon aside from playgiarizing with him 'til the sacred cows go OM, but hopefully in an inimitable Raccoonish, space age au-go-go manner that may look vulgar to the uninitiated, for the same reason that someone might mistakenly regard Potato Head Blues as primitive "jungle music" instead of a divinely hip transmission from Gabriel himself.

I suppose our main point of disagreement -- that would be me and Fritz -- is over the issue of adherence to strict traditionalism. In my case, I have a dilemma, and the best analogy I can think if is the difference between a jazz musician and a classical musician. Schuon is like a stately, dignified, and somber classical musician. But I am like what a condescending British reviewer once wrote of the early Beatles: Authentic R & B in the American Negro Tradition.

I suppose it comes down to two issues, 1) the value of the individual over the collective, and 2) how this impacts creativity, since creativity takes on a different inflection as it passes through the individual. Schuon was obviously preoccupied with how the rise of narcissistic individualism -- and with it, the loss of transcendence, norms, and standards -- had led to the kind of aesthetic anarchy we see today, where so-called "artists" produce works of "eternal worthlessness," if one may so put it. "Art for art's sake" is no art at all, for it deprives art of its sufficient reason, which is to serve as a bridge between man and God. To paraphrase Schuon, in serving only man, it inevitably betrays him in the process. Most modern art isn't even bad, just "nothing."

So while Schuon clearly had an appreciation of the dark side of modernity, he didn't seem to have any feel whatsoever for the totalitarian nature of premodern cultures, in which one really wasn't free to "become who you are." One was free to adhere to a "celestial archetype," so to speak, but not to discover or elaborate one's uniqueness.

Now, this latter process can clearly be abused, and I think it is fair to say that it is the central Pathology of our Times. For example, it seems that everyone is urged to be creative, when there are only a handful of people who are capable of being creative in a worthwhile way. It's no different than urging everyone to be Michael Jordan. What would be the point, except to pretend that everyone is good at basketball?

So the narcissism and individualism of our day places value on the individual to such an extent that it has the effect of -- in psychoanalytic terms -- conflating milk and feces; which is to say, breast and the lower GI tract. I remember the first time I heard this formulation in graduate school, and thinking that my professor was surely speaking metaphorically or just insane. Nope. The pathological narcissist imagines he's giving you milk when he's actually feeding you poop; in short, he's not a bountiful breast but a toxic asshole. Once you get a feel for this, you can really appreciate the ubiquity of the dynamic. Ever wonder how Noam Chomsky can be so prolific? Because the large intestine never sleeps. Likewise, mass culture is a sewer. Literally.

Nevertheless. One of the things I'm constantly trying to work out is the relationship between modernity and tradition, or individual and collective. Surely there must be a way to individuate that leads "upward" and which "crystalizes" our celestial essence, as opposed to downward, where it is dissipated and supplanted by a hypertrophied and promethean terrestrial ego. I mean, I can see how this path does usually lead downward into vulgarity, stupidity, and excess -- a gross and cringe-inducing "song of myself" -- but is there a way to be oneself in the context of timeless truth?

I admit that this may be completely self-serving, but I think so, and I believe that this is ultimately the entire basis of the American experiment in a culture of liberty, i.e., of conservative classical liberalism. True, the founders wanted to liberate themselves from various religious, political, and cultural strictures of old Europe, but at the same time, they clearly did not value liberty for its own sake, but only to the extent that it had a spiritual telos. This is obvious from their writings on the subject, so I won't waste time debating the knuckleheads who think otherwise.

Here's the problem, though: very few people can play jazz, for it combines the virtues of intense discipline with total freedom and abandon. It is the "sound of surprise," but not only surprise, which is just another name for anarchy.

Now, one reason I don't pretend to be some kind of "guru" is that I don't believe I can generalize my specific path to others, at least on any kind of wholesale basis. Perhaps to a very limited extent on a kind of boutique level, but only if the so-called "student" already has the makings of a master. To be honest, this is why I have never tried to get a job at a university. Many people who've heard me on a particularly inspired rant have asked, "why aren't you a teacher?," and the reason is, I could never handle teaching a bunch of idiots and mediocrities, and that is what college has become. Since we now have the egalitarian belief that everyone should have a college education, colleges are full of people who have no business being there. I know plenty of Ph.D.s who can't even write coherently or think deeply.

It's no different than suggesting that everyone should be in the military, when it is equally clear that warriors are special people who belong to their own caste and develop their own culture. As I have written before, I am a big believer in the "caste system," so long as it is not enforced in a "top-down" way that limits the freedom to discover one's gift and one's place. For example, my father was a quintessential "merchant," in that he was a born salesman. He loved people, and people loved doing business with him. He eventually became a sales executive on the strength of an 8th grade education, but it didn't matter, because he had such an innate feel for doing business with people.

In my case, I imagined that I would be capable of the same thing, but as I have written about in the past, I flunked out of business school. I was literally like a retard. Not only was it "not my dharma," but it took me a long time and a lot of floating on the Luck Plane to discover what my dharma was.

Similarly, I have a relative -- we have been estranged for years -- who is a fine artisan, in such a way that it comes completely naturally to him, but imagines himself to be a "scholar." For whatever reason, he rejects his God-given caste, and wants to be an "intellectual," so he writes books that would make fine benches or ottomans, but they certainly have no intellectual or literary merit. But you will have noticed that at least 90% of what comes out of academia is of this nature, since it is produced by people who don't belong there. They're in the wrong caste. (In contrast to this relative, I would have a hard time making a bookshelf out of two cinderblocks and a wood plank.)

Speaking of which, one cannot help noticing that an awful lot of people who reckon themselves to be members of the "priestly caste" don't belong there. Here again, because of the individualism of the age, virtually anyone can declare himself guru and usurp that role. Thus, a Deepak, or Tony Robbins, or Wayne Dyer, or all the others, who are certainly effective, if sociopathic, merchants, but who are not any kind of transmitters of wisdom, to put it charitably.

Look at Obama. What is he? That's part of the problem, because he clearly doesn't know. He's certainly not "priestly" or spiritual, based upon his long-time membership in a racist cult. He's not intellectual, based upon his skin-deep grasp of the issues, and a mind that seems to consist of little more than recycled leftist cliches with no discernible center. He's not a warrior; quite the opposite, as he has no feel whatsoever for military culture. He's not a leader, as his basic masculinity is too much in doubt. He's pretending to be something, but even he doesn't seem to know what it is. Apparently, he wasn't even a good community agitator, like Al Sharpton.

Yes, America is the "land of opportunity," in that anyone can be anything. But if this results in no one knowing their place, what good is it? In Obama's case, he's basically offering himself as a mirror to be what a certain lost segment of the population needs him to be. It's actually a kind of two-way mirror that -- not to invoke Godwin's law -- is at the basis of fascism, in which the leader embodies the people, and vice versa. Except in this case, both are "empty," so it's a kind of "negative fascism." The trouble is, we truly won't know what rushes in to fill that void until he's in office.

Hey, how did I get here? This is not my subject. This is not my beautiful post. I had wanted to continue our discussion of beauty, but merely preface it with my misgivings about completely jettisoning modernity. Unlike Schuon, I can't help believing that it has produced some worthwhile stuff despite the preponderance of subhuman garbage, and that our task, as always, is to "redeem the times" and find a way to reconcile the temporal and timeless.

For example, we all know about Bach. But he was just one of hundreds of court musicians who were patronized by various syphilitic kings, dukes, and princes, but whose work we never hear about, because it was just uninspired, derivative, and repetitive schlock. Likewise, we know about Shakespeare, but surely there must have been a multitude of bad playwrights in 16th century England?

In a couple hundred years, no one will know anything about 1960s rock music except perhaps the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Kinks, Who, Brian Wilson, and a handful of others who achieved timelessness, depth, luminosity, and universality. But it would obviously be fallacious to imagine that they were the norm, and that there were no Freddie and the Dreamers, Sopwith Camel and Iron Butterfly.

Now. Now it is time to go to work. Oh well. As always, free association is free, and you get what you pay for.


walt said...

"Once you get a feel for this, you can really appreciate the ubiquity of the dynamic."

Bob, you have a way with words.

Sal said...

"I'd rather be a dish washer in the House of B'ob than a bad poet scribling away at Starbucks."

Somebody has to be the audience.

Nice one, Bob

walt said...

Well, free association is free, but you stir up lots of juicy ideas, so One Cosmos is definitely worth the price of admission.

Besides, just yesterday we were encouraged to "sift and separate" (discern) and all us kits strove to learn that lesson well.

Your concern:
"Surely there must be a way to individuate that leads "upward" and which "crystalizes" our celestial essence, as opposed to downward..."

This concerns me as well. As far as I have been able to discern, the key lies in how impressions are received, and where in onesoph they are organized. This, as preparation for much-needed Help.

Ideas like that were floating around in ancient Greece, and Egypt, and loosely have been called "Tradition," or Hermetic, as in MOTT. And, of course, were expressed beautifully in the various religions.

As you know, Free and Easy is a good thing!

NoMo said...

Like Dirty Harry said, 'A man's got to know his limitations." But to know that, one must know himself, and to do that...well. I see very little of either these days.

We didn't raise our kids telling them, "You can do anything!". Rather, we made available, and exposed them to, as many and varied kinds of basic activities and interests as possible, hoping that they would find their "place" and thus pursue their "station". Don't ask about the outcome - the jury is still out.

cousin Dupree said...

I know that feeling. You never know. Maybe when the jury comes back, they'll get off with probation.

NoMo said...

Ronald Reagan is commonly referred to as "the great communicator" - a term I now hear applied to Obama. In Reagan's case, it's a very limited description. In Obama's, however, it may actually define his limit. Tragically, few seem to notice...yet.

NoMo said...

BTW, I'm still predicting a lop-sided election - winner McCain/?. But then again, I am a coon-eyed optimist! Can't wait to see who ? is.

Johan said...

Since all of MSM already has elected OhNoBama president over here, I really hope to see their long faces, again.

Nick said...

You really intrigued me by your concept of the modern caste system. Our educational system or so it seems to me could do themselves a huge favor in reognizing and cultivating certain human archetypes.
Right now the biggest imbalance it seems is that we are pushing for like 90% of our youth to go the way of the pseudo intellectual leftists with degrees in cultural anthropology and such. I was a bit of a lost soul after high school and so aimlessley went through college and got an engineering degree. It felt so wrong for me and I fought it the whole way. I felt deeply deprived of not being to excercise and develop my inherent skills at there full potential, which fit more into the warrior type caste. I did find outlets in hobbies such as extreme backpacking, boxing ect, of course my liberal family couldn't understand and only viewed this as acts of "violence". Looking back on it I really wish I would have thought more about the military.

erasmus said...

Bob said,

"In my case, I imagined that I would be capable of the same thing, but as I have written about in the past, I flunked out of business school. I was literally like a retard. Not only was it "not my dharma," but it took me a long time and a lot of floating on the Luck Plane to discover what my dharma was."

My current theory is that what you are calling "dharma" (what I call "creative purpose") is the flip side of individual personality. If you don't have self-knowedge of your own personality, you're not going to discover "your dharma".

I was never able to successfully flunk out of anything. I still have my chemical engineering education stuck in my head.

That education left me with primal urge to reduce everything to a graph or a waveform function of some sort.

And I still want to represent individual personality with muti-dimensional irrational (in the numerical sense, i.e. Pi or e) squiggly geometric lines.

erasmus said...


Isn't cultural anthropology useful if you are trying to do something along the lines of, say, managing post-war Japan circa 1945, or say, managing post-war Iraq circa 2003?

Robin Starfish said...

obama's noggin
bonked and bruised by an ACORN
fruit of poison oak

Johan said...

Actually we touched on this music/creativity during lunch hour at work today. Again, I'm ahead of you, time/space "worm holes" clearly should be called "raccoon holes" instead.
Are we going to have a new creative re-evolution in how music sounds and with brand new instruments soon?

The electric guitar, the drum machine and the synth (with the "acid sound" Roland TB-303 as maybe the most fresh sounding tool) were all revolutionary sounding equipment in the recent 60 or so years.

But nothing big has really happend now since early 80thies, has it?

Since the TB-303 got a totally unintended use (and took house music to a new level), maybe we have a new revolutionary sound just hiding around the corner somewhere? And with all these "pyjamas producers" out there now with complete studios in their lap tops, it would be strange if something didn't pop up soon enough.

Strings, percussions, horns - done... electrify them - done ... and then what?

But talking about music - this is a quite fun remake of Imagine, were the lyrics are just a little bit... changed:

erasmus said...


What about silent "music"?

"The audience will be blasted with inaudible sound vibrations, which could cause them to feel a range of emotions.

The infrasound vibrations at the "Soundless Music" event in the city's Metropolitan Cathedral will be emitted by an ultra-low loudspeaker in a 12 metre-long drainpipe."

Warren said...

"1) the value of the individual over the collective, and 2) how this impacts creativity"

In your two principal disagreements with Schuon, you are really critiquing him - and the Traditionalist school generally - from the perspective of Christianity, with its seemingly absurdly high valuation of the individual. Coongratulations!

Robin Starfish said...

Here's a musical breakthrough I thought I'd never see.

Robin Starfish said...

Likely it will be abused before it is used, however.

Ray Ingles said...

In "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven", Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) doesn't have Shakespeare be among the most lauded poets. Oh, he was nice and all, but he couldn't hold a candle to some of the people who would have been poets if the circumstances of their life had allowed it.

Just thought it had a certain relevance to today's post.

julie said...

Robin, that link to the Townhall column seems to be infected or something. It keeps trying to upload software on me.

Robin Starfish said...

Julie -

Weird. I tried it again and it seems ok but then maybe I'm the carrier! Typhoid Robin.

Here's the raw link:

lance said...

But isn't the so called hallmark of America the idea that we are free to do anything? Wouldn't the formation of a caste society take that away? Who decides what a person is good at and doesn't survival or the need for survival trump the finding of what you are supposed to be good at?

julie said...

But that Melodyne thing is amazing - it's like they're reaching inside the notes and making alterations. Interesting process.

julie said...

The raw link works, Robin. And back to the other note, you're also right about the process being abused; in fact, it's pretty much a certainty. Which is why a good live performance beats a digital recording any day, imho - it's a lot tougher to fake passion, talent and greatness when you're actually out in front of people.

hoarhey said...

"why aren't you a teacher?,"

Not a teacher?


julie said...

(Shh, Hoarhey - if he realizes that, he might start doling out homework assignments. I'm struggling enough with the Omwork already!)

christopher said...

GBob, okay then, I needed that clarification concerning Schuon since you cite him so often.

I already know from my reading that I won't be a disciple of Schuon but that I will read him with respect as I did Eliade.

Gecko said...

Reported Attack Site: Methinks the devil be doing his dirty work for Obama. This(Michelle's ?)" web site at has been reported as an attack site and has been blocked based on your security preferences."
Looks like someone has done something and doesn't want us to read Michelle Malkin about how much taxpayer money supports the left wing Acorn. I used the cold link, Robin, and got this message and now entourage is frozen. Just so 'ya know. Here's the message:
'Attack sites try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system.
Some attack sites intentionally distribute harmful software, but many are compromised without the knowledge or permission of their own".

mushroom said...

But I am like what a condescending British reviewer once wrote of the early Beatles: Authentic R & B in the American Negro Tradition.

As the late Long John Baldry sang in response to the accusation of a British bobby that he was playing "a kind of boo-gee woo-gee music peculiar to the American Negro" -- "Don't try to lay no boogie-woogie on the King of Rock and Roll."

Nope. The pathological narcissist imagines he's giving you milk when he's actually feeding you poop; in short, he's not a bountiful breast but a toxic asshole.

I didn't know you knew my brother-in-law.

Surely there must be a way to individuate that leads "upward" and which "crystalizes" our celestial essence, as opposed to downward, where it is dissipated and supplanted by a hypertrophied and promethean terrestrial ego.

I would have said that the upward path is exclusively taken by individuals. The Body of Christ may be One, but we're added individually.

Bach and Coltrane both have dogma. Coltrane's is internal. Bach's is external. Any competent musician can play Bach (not necessarily well). Pretty much only John Coltrane can play Coltrane.

Since we are not all spiritual Coltranes, we rely on the structure of tradition -- the strait gate, the narrow way -- to help lead us to life.

Robin Starfish said...

Julie -

Bingo. The opportunity I see with something like Melodyne is to make new music out of raw or natural sound sources that differ from the capacity of man-made instruments. It would take a true visionary to channel passion and soul, certainly. But maybe there's one being born out there today...

This brings to mind an old sci-fi book about a transcendental musical instrument. Can't remember the name though. I think I got it from NoMo long ago - so I'll toss it to his court to come up with the name. ;-)

mushroom said...

Sure, Lance, but GB isn't talking about a rigid caste system where your daddy was a bass player for Hoo Doo Meat Bucket so you have to be one, too. It's purely self-imposed. You may well have to do jobs just to eat, but you are called to something. That calling will eventually feed you if you hold to it in faith.

You can't tell me Bill Clinton would not have been happier and more fulfilled as a guard at a women's prison in Yellville.

Van said...

Lance said "But isn't the so called hallmark of America the idea that we are free to do anything? Wouldn't the formation of a caste society take that away? Who decides what a person is good at and doesn't survival or the need for survival trump the finding of what you are supposed to be good at?"

Lance, I think you missed the fine print "... I am a big believer in the "caste system," so long as it is not enforced in a "top-down" way that limits the freedom to discover one's gift and one's place"

IOW (correct me if I've got it wrong Bob), not a caste as a cultural fixture, ala India, etc, but in the sense of the individuals recognizing which they naturaly fit into, as a result of "gnothi seaton" , of knowing themselves", so the 'Caste' wouldn't be imposed upon, but risen into.

(darn...lots of comments want to make, but dodging financial formula's flying right and left... back as able)

Robin Starfish said...

gecko -

Not good. Apparently this xponlinescanner popup is plaguing a lot of large sites lately. It's a trojan from what I can tell. The consensus seems to be that it's infecting the source sites and not (y)our machines.

But just in case, here's some more info and a removal tool if needed.

I apologize if I led anyone down a spyware rabbit hole - it wasn't intentional!

I'm better off sticking to 17 syllables. Any more than that is not my calling. ;-)

'shroom - Splorf!

bob f. said...

"The pathological narcissist imagines he's giving you milk when he's actually feeding you poop; in short, he's not a bountiful breast but a toxic asshole."

this is simply classic, and the follow-up about Noam "Large Intestine" Chomsky is pretty solid as well.

Anonymous said...

You comment is appropriate. GBob is critiquing Schuon, but his critique is also self-refuting, even if it comes, supposedly from Christianity. Basically, he says the modern world provides people with every opportunity, and none take it (except for him), statistically speaking. Why? Because no one knows who they are and everything is upside down, like Obama leading the most powerful country ever to be on the face of the earth (or McCain for that matter).
I think Schuon would counter that Bob underestimates the value of the the earlier "totalitarian" worlds, where very few (one obviously cannot say no one, given the spiritual giants of bygone eras) were able to be anything but conformers to celestial archtypes (so sad for them).
He might also say that the sign of both real "culture" and human happiness would be found in the artifacts of the time. Compare medieval buildings, for example, to modern ones. Anyone who has embraced a craft or "art", knows the difference to the soul between that kind of work and truly soulless work, even if done with a tootheache. That, even if the particular craft is not wholly suited to the individual.
I believe he would also counter that, in any case, the main object of this life is salvation, it being eternal, and this life being, but a drop in the proverbial bucket. Pre-modern societies were organized, roughly, on that idea. It made for some rigorous aspects, to be sure, but it also made for salvation.
And lastly, if not leastly (I just love that Steve Martin line), Schuon would likely dispute the critique as coming from true Christianity. Christanity, to the degree that it has spawned, been perverted by, and embraced modernity, is not itself, except in the case of Orthodoxy, which refuses, still, many inroads from modernity.

River Cocytus said...

Hmm, wanted to drop a line here. Just listened to an interesting podcast (there are two parts as of this writing, but there are, I think, to be four total) by Thomas Hopko.

The page is here...

It's his 'how we speak of God' podcasts... especially the second one. He talks about what 'aphophasis' is, at least in terms of guys like John Damascene, Gregory of Nyssa, and so forth.

Very interesting, he notes that there is a distinguishment between the names of God and the qualities of divinity; i.e: 'Father' is a name of God, but 'Goodness' is a quality of divinity. It is important, at least from the Christian standpoint, that the two are not confused.

I thought it was very well thought-through and concisely spoken, and maybe will spark someone to offer an idea of why this whole Trinity thing could be important.

I feel like I'm on the edge of it, but there's something about being able to give God names - there must be multiple different names of persons - and not be confused with properties. Is it that because God is ineffable that we must have some way to distinguish his NAME from his properties, as we are wont to consider 'Being' as much of a name as 'Father'? If God is personal, that is, relational, then he has a name, a particular name, even though he certainly is 'the ultimate principle', and also 'beyond all principles that we can conceive', and 'Being', but also 'Beyond Being'.

There are also series of Trinitarian concepts like

'Strong, Wise, Pure', 'Good, True, Beautiful', 'Light, Life, Love' which are attributes. I'm reminded of Pseudo-Dionysus' remarks about the angelic host. But these aren't names.

I wonder if there's a hint here as to what would be so important to the trinitarian idea as more than just 'groupings of properties' and actual 'three hypostases'

O->k? Out.

NoMo said...

Robin - Ouch. Had to shake it loose from my memory. I believe that's it.

Robin Starfish said...

Could be! Probably couldn't get away with that title today.

erasmus said...

Bob said (of Obamaism),

"Yes, America is the "land of opportunity," in that anyone can be anything. But if this results in no one knowing their place, what good is it? In Obama's case, he's basically offering himself as a mirror to be what a certain lost segment of the population needs him to be. It's actually a kind of two-way mirror that -- not to invoke Godwin's law -- is at the basis of fascism, in which the leader embodies the people, and vice versa. Except in this case, both are "empty," so it's a kind of "negative fascism." The trouble is, we truly won't know what rushes in to fill that void until he's in office."

Speaking of mirrors, according to Kyron Huigens, a professor of law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, Obama is a legal scholar.

"...None of this really justifies my sense that I know Obama's mind. But beyond these issues and the way he handles them, I sense a certain temperament and a style of thinking that sounds and feels very familiar. I would be surprised if many of my colleagues in legal academia did not sense it too."

ximeze said...

"As I have written before, I am a big believer in the "caste system," so long as it is not enforced in a "top-down" way that limits the freedom to discover one's gift and one's place."

Perhaps a Knowa's Arkive weekend rewordgitation topic? This coon could use a refresher.

Do remember it was very cool, a la "absurcular mythunderstanding (that) blows the locked doors of the empyrean off their rusty old hinges"

Cool & shocking at the same timelessness: whoa..... NOT what me 'thinks' me am.... this other one is more True to mesoph. A tough lesson to munch over, but most illuminating since.

Prettyplease, when groove strikes thee, Omaster of the Bobblog?

Anonymous said...

Why the tap on Dr. Dyer? His message and yours are indistinguishable. You both are God lovers.

So what gives?

There is nothing in Dyer's doctrine that clashes with yours, to my analysis.

Anonymous said...

Ximeze has asked for more information on a topic (the caste system) but the "Master of the Bobblog" is certainly not going to cough it up.

There is no continuity to this blog; this has been demonstrated repeatedly.

Ximeze will have to pet her exotic cats and wait until the topic rolls around again in a year or two.

lance said...

Mushroom and Van: I think you are both right and I didn't fully digest the fine print. It would make sense as well that Bob would not advocate a top down control caste system. (head shake) I need to pay better attention and think before I write sometimes. Sorry about that but thanks for the redirection without being abusive. That is one of the reasons that I stick around here.

Warren said...


Er, my comment was actually meant to take Bob's side as against Schuon's, at least on these issues. But your remarks are interesting, and I have much sympathy for your viewpoint. I would disagree, however, that an extremely high valuation of the individual is only a feature of debased, "modern" Christianity. Individuals (perhaps I should say "persons") are immortal, potential Sons of God; whereas cultures and traditions, no matter how venerable, have the life of a fruit-fly by comparison. This perspective is absolutely central to the most orthodox Christianity, and is one of the things, in fact, that most clearly distinguishes it from crypto-Vedantin metaphysical systems such as Schuon's.

Gagdad Bob said...


I am very much inclined to agree with you. And Ximeze -- I'll bet you can find a lot just by searching the blog with "caste."

River Cocytus said...

warren: Cooncur. Considering the idea of the angelic hierarchy, right in the middle are 'principalities' which represent our 'guardians' or 'messengers' for our tribe, group, city, nation, ethnicity, etc. There's no particular 'number' to them, I guess. However, a particular individual, we'll call her 'Mary' for the purposes of this discussion, is regarded as 'More glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim' - who are the highest ranking angels.

Gagdad Bob said...

Hmm, searching "caste" produced too much. Here's one from early '06. Haven't read it, so I have no idea whether or not time has rendered it bobsolete.

NoMo said...

"Individuals (perhaps I should say "persons") are immortal, potential Sons of God." (Warren)

That could be a pretty big assumption. Not lookin' for a fight over this, but what if immortality is conditional? Note the word "consume". The Greek word means "eat", not "eternally torment".

(Sorry for any ruffled feathers.)

ximeze said...

'Doh! the blogsearch feature. Will read the '06 link you so thoughtfully provided.


To Anonopissy:
So, you're angry Bob don't march to your specified drumbeat? Get ye some slack there bubba.

Not more information: a REFRESHER. It was covered quite well some time ago.

And yes, thanks, really, really love petting exotic Big Cats, expecially untethered ones that smarl and have very large TEETH.

mushroom said...

Nomo, so, you're thinking like annihilation, with which I have no quarrel.

But Warren said "potential". Unless the system is deterministic, then that would be correct. No?

I'm not quarreling just thinking.

ximeze said...

"...the sacred cows go OM, but hopefully in an inimitable Raccoonish, space age au-go-go manner that may look vulgar to the uninitiated..."

Being stylish for Argentines has always been Big, but check out these space age au-go-go cows

Gagdad Bob said...

Did you notice the Argentinian jazz in the sidebar, or was that just a syncoonicity?

That's a terrific CD, BTW....

NoMo said...

Mushroom - Everyone is a potential child of God, as far as WE can tell (there's that Calvin thing again). Those who become children of God are immortal (have eternal life). I'm just not sure about the immortality of everyone else. Yes, I'm talkin' annihilation (eternal death). I figured someone with a mushroom cloud avatar might not quarrel with annihilation.

Anonymous said...

Nomo brings up the specter of

" Yes, I'm talkin' annihilation (eternal death)"

I question whether such a state is possible, given our assumption that the universe is composed of God stuff. (God-Consciousness in the form of matter, thought forms, or pure/freestanding).

Where is there any room for nihil? It would have to be outside the body of God, which would imply multiple Gods, which would lead to the supposition of an enveloping UberGod, for which nothing could be on the outside of anyway. There is no end to the logical regression.

Therefore, let us put annihilation on the list of words used for convenience but which are not (absolutely speaking), seemingly possible.

julie said...

Re Obama,
"He's not a leader, as his basic masculinity is too much in doubt."

Hm, I dunno about that - apparently his masculinity possesses magical qualities (via Vanderleun)...

Anonymous said...

I live in an abandoned refrigerator carton in a vacant lot. My box is lined with carpet scraps and is quite snug and cozy. I use the computer at the public library.

I turn in aluminum cans and so forth to get spending money.

So, what caste am I, anyway? Am I the lowest or is there an even lower one?

julie said...

I may be wrong, but I don't think that "caste" as it is used here has anything to do with material status, wealth or poverty. Rather, it describes your nature and calling.

julie said...

And in that regard, if there is such a thing as a lowly caste it would be the vampires, zombies and other humonstrosities; and even then, I don't know if those are castes so much as warped individuals.

Being materially poor does not necessarily correlate with your vertical standing. It's what you do with the circumstances you have that matters.

Magnus Itland said...

Let us not romanticize the past. We see from a great distance the few shining lights, and they look like they are close together merely because of the perspective. For most, life was nasty and brutish and short. Yes, a poet would write verses of lasting beauty, and a monk would receive a great revelation. But for each of them, a hundred peasants would have their house burned, their cattle slaughtered and their daughters raped by some army or another marching back and forth across the lands because one king's ambition was greater than another's. The great religions, even at the height of their power, could not fully bridle the beast in human nature. Why then be disappointed that they fail to do so today?

ximeze said...

hmmm, this funky machine is not displaying any linked ads. Which Argentine Jazz CD would that be?

I'm a long time fan of Carlos Gardel/ Clasico & Astor Piazzola/Nuevo styles of tangos, milogas, chacareras etc, but is the one you're citing Jazz jazz?

julie said...

Here you go, Ximeze.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, Gato Barbieri, who was amazing until he went pop in the late '70's. This compilation is also outstanding. Both sound like Coltrane in an authentic ethnic/folk Latin American setting. I've been listening to it a lot. Very ECSTATIC.

Gagdad Bob said...

Try some of the samples on amazon. They give a good idea of what the music is about...

Anonymous said...

What kind of conservative writes a book like that? I'm reading it for the third time. What, praytell, is your definition of conservative? Eternally Grateful

julie said...

A book like what? There are an awful lot mentioned here, you'll have to be a bit more specific.

erasmus said...

I know that it's not exactly modern Jazz, but has anyone here realized that 720 In the Books can get stuck in your head on a permanent basis?

Or is that a problem that is unique to me?

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob -- is there some way one can access your archives? I can't seem to find a link to a calendar or archives section -- can readers go through older posts?


mushroom said...

I'm with you, Nomo. As it says, "our God is a consuming fire" and even the works of the immortals are to be tested by fire (1 Cor. 3, I think). Paul says only those things that are metaphorically gold and silver will pass the test. The works of the flesh -- wood, hay, and stubble will be consumed.

Ricky Raccoon said...

RE Melodyne, incredible.
About 2 minutes in the video, when they separate the notes from the chords and they go “3D”, the note shapes against the background bear a striking resemblance to the burn holes, patches and seams in the Shroud of Turin.

julie said...

Which leads me to wonder what notes would sound, where the marks in the Shroud entered into the software. Given the regular spacing there would certainly be rhythm. I wonder if there would be actual chords? Vocals?

Ricky Raccoon said...

Exactly what I was thinking, Julie. I’m certain they were waves of some nature.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Not that a piece of software could do that “trick”, but that the shapes are recognizable for a reason.

Alan said...

Some thoughts...

1. I have to disagree with parts of Schuon's writings because of his stance on Islam. Perhaps that is where his preference for traditionalism comes from (or just aligned with it).

2. Any metaphysical outlook that puts the group in charge of the individual is mistaken - that part of ourselves which is shared is spiritually less evolved than the part with is individualized (for those who get there)

3. Modernity has had the spiritual benefit of a much larger, more complex "organism" for the Body of Christ to incarnate - giving more opportunities for differentiation of its "cells" us. I think I would have died as a farmer, hunter, or warrior whereas I can make good money in a small niche of the internet business world - a thing at least part of me was born to do. This differentiation allows for the fuller understanding of the glory of God, both in our lives and in the lives of others.

Ricky Raccoon said...

I think there is also something to be said for saving what you are “born to do” for your own time – and not how you make a living. As a possible alternative. This seems perfectly acceptable to me. Bob refers to himself in that older post as being of the “priestly” caste. It’s not his day job. It works in the background. This reminds me of our Unknown Friend who was a translator for the BBC monitoring Soviet broadcasts.

Alan said...

Ricky: There is truth in what you say. Thanks.

Gagdad Bob said...

I don't think I would say "priestly" caste today. For one thing, it sounds pretentious. "Raccoon caste" is more like it.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Caste iron skill it...

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Need lotsa curin'...

Ricky Raccoon said...

RE “priestly” caste, good eye. I should have said “referred”. Anyway, it didn’t sound pretentious to me about you, but I understand how it must sound of you from your perspective. And now that you mention it, I’m surprised it didn’t kick-start a troll when I brought it up. It made me stop too for a sec when I read it. But given only 5 or 6 categories to choose from and one of them “priestly”, it made sense for you to use it. Besides, I know you didn’t mean it the way some Deecafs would “embrace” it so easily.

One other thing about caste, and maybe I’m not using it right but, I don’t think I would survive as a hunter or farmer either. I don’t have the metabolism for one thing and don’t think I could spend so much time in one caste anyway. But I would very much like to do a little farming. I know my “part-time” job supports the day one rather than the other way around.

So Bob, do you think a person can be built for two or more? I think you are saying there is a “predominant” one for a person and that even then most will not be great at it. Which is fine. It’s the forcing yourself to be exceptional at it, and convincing yourself you are when you are not, that is not good. And you’re speaking “generally”. But I look at the categories and I clearly see a little farmer and hunter and warrior in here too. Seems the blessings of modernity finally allow it. The real world outside of your predominant caste will provoke those lesser ones. In other words, you may need ‘em someday.

ximeze said...

Oh Lord, of course, Gato on the OC sidebar. I was searching for it on the dailymail stylish cow page.....

walt said...

Ricky --

Just my opinion:

A "little farming" is only a hobby; to feed a family, or other families, is no small thing.

A "little hunting" is the same; if it's for food, for sustenance, it takes "a lot" of hunting.

Stunning, how much is required, if you ever try it. This is where the middleman, or "merchant" came in.

A little farming is definitely good for the soul, and the learning curve.

Again, just my opinion. Yours, at no cost.

Van said...

Worked late lastnight, came home & read the youngest into bed, took care of somethings around the house, and just had a few minutes before bed to spare, got a couple comments lined up and ready to post lastnight... and zap! bluescreen of death - without the bluescreen, just 'blip' and the new Vista Ultimate laptop gave me the official Microsoft welcome to vista handshake.


Just as a quick hit and run before getting the youngest up for school, from the post yesterday... crud, it even lost the IE History, and I don't see the link I'd found lastnight on the Judith and Halofernes (if you don't know your Bible, this is a beheading... those born before 1980 might find it gruesome). Well this will work, might even be more instructive by it's lack of depth, he takes a much more horizontal look at the two.

In comparing two artists conceptions, Artemisia Gentileschi’s and Caravaggio, he finds Caravaggio's painting of Judith, as being far too reserved, whereas the one I found last night, though approaching it as a commentary on gender and cathartic release (stemming from her Gentileschi’s having been raped), her Judith (argh, this one doesn't even use the more visceral of her two paintings of it, wiki does ), is more involved in the act of beheading Holofernes. But the lost page, pointed out that it was God and justice that guided and animated her hands in Caravaggio's, while the rest of her almost tried to withdraw from the action. Artemmisia's however, is far more involved, more horizontally motivated to behead the general, than Caravaggio's.

The point, is even in matters of a horrible, ugly act, Art, true Art, seeks to convey a truth and beauty in visual poetry... composition, colors, character study, what is included and what is not... it tells a story, that most vital ingredient, which post-modernism most of all has exiled from its 'works' in lit & art 'for their own sake'.

They not only seek to pretend that their whims are more worthwhile than reality, but in doing so even begin to exile themselves from human reality, from any vertical grasp at all, they descend to the horizontal animality and below.

The Good, the True and the Beautiful are inextribly united - any attempt to fake or exclude one or the other, soon banishes you from all.

(crud, gotta go, no time for spell or thought check, sorry)

Ricky Raccoon said...

Hi Walt,
Yep. Understood. I agree. Believe me, I’m still trying to figure out what I really meant. :-) I think it has to do with…well.. I have to scoot to work so this is hurried: many people think I was born to be an artist. To some it must look like it comes easy to me. I’ve seen other people struggle with drawing and so I can see their point. I do not think I’m exceptional by any stretch and I am not. Never did think that way. I remember this one artist, a painter, in art school who was exceptional. Far above anyone else there. It truly came easy to him. Or so it looked. In fact the rumor was the professors didn’t know how to take it further. I’m not sure why I went in that direction. Anyway, for whatever reason I don’t think, if I had a choice, that I could “do art” 24/7 – even if I am not very good at , for lack of a better way to put it, my “true calling.”

And…this just in…if I pretend to be any kind of “philosopher”, despite how good or not I may be at that, I have to be one, because I have a son. So I’ll keep at it. The day job is sufficiently under control. Or so it seems - better get to that one :-)

ximeze said...

Think you're right about the 'predominant' vis a vis the 'caste system'. Not hard & fast rules per say, not rigid structure - don't dare move outside The Boundries of your type.

Perhaps more like getting your 'colors' done or taking one of those career suitability tests. They force a focus on thinking about what fits & what does not, and where stuff shades off into other catigories. Ie, they're useful as exercises to help illuminate & clarify.

Geez, no wonder I've always been crappy at ________, that makes sense. Perhaps I should try ________, which is 'on my list' as a possibility.

Thinking back to those 'caste' OC posts, the 'shock' to mysoph was how clueless my 'pick' for myself was. Real kick to the egobutt. Pretty damn funny in restrospect.

However, as a personal guide to being able to embrace a more True-to-me type, it was invaluable. Magically, with a better 'fit', the endlessly chattering chorus in my head started to let up.

NoMo said...

I'm trying to imagine how the Body of Christ, as described with each member having certain spiritual gifts, etc. and performing different roles in the Body, will play out in the new heaven and earth. The Body wouldn't just be for this world, would it?