Herman's Hermits and Toots' Drawers (11.11.11)
The Hermit is "a wise and good father... who has passed through the narrow gate and who walks the hard way -- someone whom one could trust without reserve and whom one could venerate and love without limit." The reason why there are so many false teachers is that we have an intrinsic need for real ones. But since our culture has largely severed itself from its own wisdom tradition, the Deepaks of the world rush in to fill the void. In fact, we can see that Obama is riding the waves of that same archetypal energy field.
Only in a culture that has completely lost its way could this cipher be regarded as intelligent or wise. For an insight into Obama's unconscious swamp, just consider the sinister entity he idealized as his own Hermit -- Reverend Wright! Such an odious choice runs so much deeper than the question of "judgment," for what you love simultaneously reveals who you are and what you shall become. A person who would expose his children to such a spiritually toxic environment is unfit to be a father, much less president. And I mean that quite literally. I cannot imagine assaulting my son's innocence in such a manner.
The Hermit "possesses the gift of letting the light shine in the darkness -- this is his lamp." And here is a critical point: "he has the faculty of separating himself from the collective moods, prejudices and desires of race, nation, class and family -- the faculty of reducing to silence the cacophony of collectivism vociferating around him in order to listen to and understand the hierarchical harmony of the spheres."
This reminds me of the task of the psychoanalyst, which is to listen to the patient with "even hovering attention," in order to hear into the deeper layers of the unconscious. One must "unlisten" to the explicit in order to hear the implicit, or obscure the plot in order to appreciate the theme. It has also been called "listening with the third ear." Bion said that one must suspend memory, desire, and understanding, in order to enter a state of faith, or what Bob symbolizes in the book as (o).
But that is not all, because if it were, we would live in a kind of bloodless idealism which Christianity specifically reconciles with flesh-and-blood reality -- or, materiality, to be precise. In other words, the Hermit unites reality with matter within his own being. Or, you could say that he embodies the ideal, in imitation of the Master himself. As UF writes, the Hermit
"possesses a sense of realism which is so developed that he stands in the domain of reality... on three [feet], i.e., he advances only after having touched the ground through immediate experience and at first-hand contact without intermediaries." This is none other than O-->(n), or the transformation of reality into experience.
So the Hermit is an archetypal reflection of the good father, behind or above whom is the Father in heaven. The Hermit is a word from our nonlocal sponsor, so to speak. But he never confuses himself with the mouth.
As UF says, he also represents the method of obtaining valid spiritual knowledge, in that he is able to synthesize within himself the three great antinomies with which any thinking man is confronted, and which any efficacious philosophy must reconcile. These are the complementary pairs of 1) idealism <---> realism; 2) realism <---> nominalism; and 3) faith <---> empirical science. I remember that when I first read this chapter, I finally appreciated the intellectual and metaphysical brilliance of Christianity, and just what a profound innovation it represented, for it beautifully resolves each of these pairs in a fruitful and dynamic "marriage." I also understood why it is folly to the geeks and a stumbling block to the clueless. You know, the materialists.
Is this going too slowly? Am I losing readers? Let's put it this way: yes to number two. Is it because this is getting too pedantic? Should we bring Bob back, and banish Bob's Unconscious to the.... unconscious?
Consider the first antinomy, idealism <---> realism. Most philosophers come down on one side or the other of this pair. It is their first "preconceptual" thought, upon which their subsequent intellectual edifice is built. But they never justify how and why they come down on one side or the other, nor can they ever justify it, because it is totally arbitrary.
Well, not totally. Rather, it's just based upon temperament, or inclination, like the eternal question of boxers vs. briefs. Surely it is no coincidence that Bob prefers the "third way" of boxer briefs, for in fact, this is what Toots Mondello was referring to when he spoke of the "sacred undergarment." Do you understand?
Put it this way: Plato was a boxer man, Aristotle a brief man. But can we possibly fashion a new garment out of these two, one that is both spiritually comfortable but also offers intellectual support? We shall see.
UF writes that "the idealist (e.g. Hegel) considers everything as so many forms of thought, whilst the realist (e.g. Spencer) affirms that objects of knowledge have an existence which is independent of thought." Where have we heard this before?
Yes. This is what Bob was referring to on Page 26, where he asks, "Where in the world do we begin? Do we have any right to assume that the universe is even intelligible?... Of course we should start our enquiry with the 'facts,' but what exactly is a fact? Which end is up? In other words, do we start with the objects of thought or the subject that apprehends them? And just what is the relationship between apparently 'external' objects and the consciousness that is able to cognize them? Any fact we consider presupposes a subject who has selected that fact out of an infinite sea of possibilities, so any conceivable fact arises simultaneously with a subjective co-creator of that fact."
In the case of realism, "it is the world which bears the word and it is the human intellect which listens." But in the case of idealism, "it is the intellect which bears the word and it is the world which is its reflection" (MOTT).
Who is right? Boxers or briefs?
"Let us not prostrate ourselves either before the world or before the intellect, but let us prostrate ourselves in adoration of the common source of both the world and the intellect -- God: God whose Word is at one and the same time the 'true light that enlightens every man coming into the world' and the creator of the world -- 'all things were made through him, and nothing that was made was made without him" (MOTT).
The source of both world and intellect is the Word, or Logos, "whose objective manifestation is the world of prototypes underlying the phenomenal world, and whose subjective manifestation is the light or prototype of human intelligence." You see, the universe meets in the middle of the monkey, and you're the monkey in the middle.
This formula resolves so many philosophical pickles and prevents so many dangers and falls. For example, our scientistic jester would presumably say that something that has no ultimate reality, the human subject, is able to affirm valid knowledge of reality, which, as soon as you think about it, makes no sense. Therefore, you must not think. But why bother thinking anyway, since the subject isn't really real?
Nor could objects be really real, in the sense that we couldn't really know them. Not really. Rather, we would be trapped in Kant's phenomenal world, with no access to the noumenal. But with the Hermit's approach, both objects and the subject who knows them become really real, since they become real in the Word. In turn, assimilating this reality into the Word is to "redeem the world."
(We'll get to the other two antinomies tomorrow.)