Tuesday, April 15, 2008

If Wishes Were Horse's Asses, Liberals Would Elect Them

All I want is a good time. The rest is propaganda. --Arthur, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Our soul may never have rest in things that are beneath itself. --Julian of Norwich. So there.

The psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott once wrote an article on the psychodynamics of shoplifting, expressing the idea that it wasn't so much motivated by want or greed, but by hope. That is, in the instant the shoplifter is engaged in his theft, he is temporarily buoyed by the hope that the painful emptiness at the core of his being will be filled. But it never is, so he must repeat the process in a compulsive manner.

More generally, as Boethius wrote, if the mere satisfaction of desire were the cause of happiness, "there is no reason why beasts should not be thought blessed, whose whole intention is bent to supply their corporal wants." By extrapolation, a life of pursuing false hope converts man to an animal.

In any compulsion, there is an existential component of hope; but this is not real hope. Rather, it is merely a defense against hopelessness. Nothing is more deflating than an illusory desire satisfied, because its satisfaction co-arises with hopelessness. In fact, we could say that any compulsion -- and few people are completely free of them -- is simply hopelessness deferred.

Most senior Raccoons will be aware of this dynamic in their own lives, as gaining insight into its absurcularity is one of the keys that frees us from "the world" (the abstract world, not the Real world). As Schuon wrote, "To be 'horizontal' is to love only terrestrial life, to the detriment of the ascending and celestial path; to be 'exteriorized,' is to love only outer things, to the detriment of moral and spiritual values."

So the whole bloody point of Raccoon life is to realize the transcendent in the immanent and the immanent in the transcendent. This hardly excludes desire, but elevates and sanctifies it. Raccoons are bon vivants, bearing in mind the true nature of le bon.

Hey, we know that we live in exile in this vale of shadows and tears, and that to try to pretend otherwise is the most fundamental form of illusion. But the spiritually centered Raccoon is able to hold to a steady course and maintain himself "at the center; he never loses sight of the symbol, the spiritual gift of things, the sign of God, a gratitude that is both ascending and radiating." This he accomplishes "in the midst of inevitable distractions and complex occupations" (Schuon).

We are not embittered but grateful, for gratitude is the best revenge -- in fact, it is a preemptive strike -- against the wily one: "Gratitude is a virtue that allows us, not only to be content with little things -- this is holy childhood -- but also to appreciate or respect little things or big things because they come from God, beginning with the beauty and the gifts of nature; one must be sensitive to the innocence and mystery of the divine works" (Schuon).

As we have discussed on many occasion, the philosophy of leftism rests upon an ontology which inverts the order of the cosmos, elevating existence over and above essence. In so doing, it essentially sanctifies the perversion of man as such, as it instantiates at its very foundation false hope. That is, we all know ahead of time that the fanciful schemes and discredited economic ideas of the left can never "deliver the goods" -- neither the material nor certainly spiritual goods.

Obama tells us that the people are bitter. Of course, when he says this, he is projecting his own existential bitterness and resentment -- and the bitterness and resentment at the heart of every leftist -- into the rest of us. And why are they bitter? Because the government is not paying attention to them.

Oh, if only! As Christopher Chantrill writes today at American Thinker, "When liberals are ready to abolish the income tax then we will know that they are getting serious about privacy." After all, 99% of our real, lived freedom is economic freedom, the multitude of little day-to-day decisions we make about our lives. Being that the federal government demands that we tell them everything about our economic activity, this verges on the totalitarian. Why aren't more people alarmed by this? I suppose they are, but like me, they're just resigned to it. You know, properly hopeless.

In distinguishing between "hope" and "wish," Montague Brown writes of the former that it "involves the conviction that, despite appearances to the contrary, truth and goodness will prevail. To hope is to commit ourselves to the betterment of ourselves and the world.... My hope looks to the future, but it is rooted in reality as it is."

In contrast, wishing involves the fantasy that "despite appearances to the contrary, our desire will be satisfied. To wish is to invoke fortune to bring us what we want, even when what we want is not good.... My wish has no particular bond with reality as it is, but feeds on fantasy.... Wishing is easy and makes no demands on us either to choose truth over fantasy or to choose good over evil."

Oddly, the illiberal leftist locates his wishful hopes and dreams precisely where the conservative liberal locates his hopelessness, in the state. That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

As Lee Harris writes of the Islamists, they are not motivated by "reality." After all, no matter how bad things get, they will never succeed in imposing on the world a caliphate worse than death. Rather, they are immersed in a fantasy ideology, the whole point of which is to infuse the person who embraces it with a kind of monstrously transcendent false hope.

So, in the long run, how is this any different from the petty shoplifters of the left? Both result in the loss of truth, virtue and beauty, and the liberty to pursue them, i.e., in happiness.

A vagabond mind running hither and thither among the varying and false delights of the world is tired out, not satisfied, by its vain exertion.... So if you would attain to the fulfillment of that which, once grasped, leaves no more to be desired -- what is the necessity of putting the rest to the test? You run along bypaths and you will die long before you attain the object of your desires along this circuitous route. --St. Bernard.

Monday, April 14, 2008

We Shall Overcome Liberal Racism

The latest flap about Obama's bigotry is not telling us anything we don't already know about the left, which is that their elites hold the people they supposedly represent in total contempt. They don't believe you are responsible enough to handle your God-given liberty, or that you know how best to spend your money, or that you are decent enough to refrain from racism or sexism. So they are here save all you losers from yourselves. But they can't put it that way, because if they do, you would be repelled by their condescension. So they must always dissemble and wear a mask. But don't worry. It's for your own good.

The odd thing about liberals is that if they were to come out and just say how they really feel -- like, say, a dailykos diarist -- they could never get elected. So liberalism either breeds a kind of duplicitous soul pathology, or else it pre-selects individuals who are already divided against themselves and have no problem leading double lives, so long as they can gain political power. To put it another way, the great problem for Republicans is hypocrisy, that is, publicly embracing principles they are not prepared to defend. The great problem for Democrats is the opposite (hypercrisy?), covertly defending principles they are not prepared to publicly embrace, like surrender, appeasement, high taxes, a large and intrusive federal government, etc.

Often the debate between left and right is between what we actually believe and what they pretend to believe. Again, it has to be that way, because if the leftist takes off his mask and shows how he really feels, he will be too frightening or repulsive to the electorate. For example, Al Gore would now be unelectable, because in the past five years he has removed the mask and shown himself to be a delusional environmental fanatic. Likewise, a Jimmy Carter is an unapologetic anti-Semite and terror-enabler. If you want to know what liberals really think beneath the mask, you generally have to listen to the words of a congressman from a safe district, or to the left-wing media/blogosphere, or to academia.

Most mainstream Democrats are not even aware of this. The average American is just not as politically engaged as most people think. It's not so much that they are easily manipulated. It's just that they go about their lives, and only hear of the big political rumors and fracases in a distorted way, as they bubble up and filter through the MSM.

As George Will once commented, this indifference is actually a positive thing, as it demonstrates just how irrelevant politics is to the average American, which is as it should be. The American government was not intended to be an intrusive entity that constantly drew attention to itself and interfered with our lives, but more of a background phenomenon, a necessary evil. Or, to put it another way, if the majority of Americans ever embrace the leftist myth of political salvation, it is the end of America. That might very well happen, but that's human nature for you. Most humans prefer security over liberty.

Speaking of how liberals actually think, I came across a repulsive (but typical) book that will show you just how deep the disease runs -- and in particular, how the fascist left has not just infiltrated, but dominates, my own debased field of psychology. The book is called Overcoming Our Racism, by a prominent academic psychologist, and I'm guessing that it is used as a textbook in many graduate and undergraduate psychology programs. If you think Obama is a condescending bigot, just listen to how this book starts out:

"Overcoming Our Racism will not be an easy book to read or digest. It is written mainly for White folks, but people of color also may find it helpful." So right away you see that the title is misleading, for it is not about overcoming "our" racism, but your racism, you filthy white folker:

"I know how difficult it must be to entertain the notion that you harbor racist beliefs and need to overcome them.... [But] I implore you to not allow those feelings to interfere with your ultimate aim of overcoming personal racism. In reality, you see, racism is an ugly cancer in the heart of most White Americans. It threatens to tear us apart as a nation, unless you and your fellow White citizens face the issue with honesty and integrity."

But despite his disgusting caricature of White folk, Dr. Sue is not a racist. After all, he's Chinese-American, and as any Tibetan or Taiwanese can tell you, Chinese folk can't be racist or ethnocentric. And as any Chinese or Filipino person can testify, a Japanese person could never be racist either. No, the diverse world of People of Color is a sort of multicultural paradise. If it weren't for White folks, people of color wouldn't be slaughtering each other in Africa, and Muslims wouldn't be butchering and blowing up Jews and other sons of apes and pigs.

So, why are you so defensive? Don't you see that your denial just proves Dr. Sue's point about your racism? Yes, you're a vile racist, but Dr. Sue needs your help. He's extending his hand across the racial divide, meeting you halfway: "People of color need your help. Overcoming racism in our society cannot occur without the help of many well-intentioned White folks, such as you."

Now, this is an interestingly Orwellian way of putting it, since you are not permitted to transcend race. No. If you do that, you are a racist. Rather, you must first identify yourself as White folk. That's who and what you are. It's your essence. You are primarily a member of a group called White folks, so get that through your thick skull.

Note the fascist/totalitarian/authoritarian language: "You must begin to challenge your own racial reality." "You must begin to understand yourself as a racial/cultural being." "You must take action to combat your own personal racism." "You must... be guided by the principles of social justice."

In short, you must be reeducated into being a neo-Marxist automaton. It's for the good of your own soul, if you had one. But we all know that you just cling to that fanciful idea because of your economic bitterness.

As I have mentioned before -- and it is such a truism that I hesitate to bring it up again -- leftism is a religion, except that it is an upside down one that inverts the cosmic order and immamentizes the transcendent. In Dr. Sue's case, he even talks about "enlightenment" and "liberation."

However, it is not the elementary enlightenment of realizing the unity of man, but a multicultural and materialistic perversion of this attitude. As a White person, "Your journey to enlightenment is different than that of persons of color. It is likely to be filled with unpleasant insights about yourself as a racial being and the realization that you share responsibility for the pain and suffering caused to others." Nevertheless, "I hope the promise of liberation will motivate you to read this book."

You are White. Therefore you are unenlightened, unliberated, and bad.

You are also very stupid, since you are eager to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to have your children indoctrinated with this racist crap at elite universities:

"[R]acism in the United States must be viewed as a White problem because it is White Euro-Americans who are primarily responsible for the oppression of people of color, and consequently responsible for making changes." "In the United States, it is White-Europeans like you who own the history from which your racial identity is based." "To be White means to be socialized into a world of White supremacy,... to be oblivious to your own biases and prejudices,... to be an oppressor with the power to force your will on persons of color." "To live your day-to-day lives unfettered by guilt, you must deny, diminish, or avoid the full realization that you are responsible for the pain and suffering you have caused racial minorities." The important question "is not whether you engage in or benefit from racial oppression. The more important question is, Once you become aware of your role in the racial oppression of others, what do you do about it?"

So don't wonder where Obama picked up his casual bigotry. He attended that bastion of White privilege, Harvard.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It is Not Good that Man Should Have No Problems

Bob's taking the day off. This is a Sunday morning free-association brought to you by Bob's Unconscious.

Is Life itself soluble? Science obviously solves innumerable little problems, but can it solve the big problem of Life itself?

First of all, life is definitely a problem. While it is surely a "gift," it is a gift that comes with a problem -- somewhat like a child. By its very nature, you can't just enjoy the fun parts and forget about the challenges and difficulties. The main problem of life is how to keep from dying while trying to figure out why it's even worth the bother. Or, it's like trying valiantly to win a complex game at the very same time you are trying to figure out the rules.

Marvelous gift, useless gift, for what purpose were you given us? --Alexander Pushkin

Or, as Bob asked in the book, "Why this living, struggling little sub-universe consisting of mindless circles of lateral mutation? So much variety and yet so little meaningful novelty, the 'mere sport of nature' in a 'vain, unnecessary world,' with all the pointless pageantry and nonexistent morality of a Mike Tyson fight." Bob continues (emphasis mine):

"Before life, there were no problems in the universe -- nothing could go wrong because nothing had to go right. But life's reckless emancipation from matter brought forth a nagging tension, an unresolvable conflict, an inherent incompleteness in the cosmos. In a sense, life was a dis-ease of matter in a literal sense, just as mind is a dis-ease of biology, an alien condition with no backward looking cure (short of death or unconsciousness) that can return it to a state of ease or wholeness. The only way out of this fatal predicament seemed to be forward and inward, in a never-ending balancing act between helpless dependence upon, and open defiance of, matter. Life groped blindly on because that was the only alternative."

Science helps us to go on living. For example, I am very well aware of the fact that Bob is living on borrowed or perhaps stolen time, in that he would have been dead three years ago in the absence of medical developments that have made it so easy for him to control his diabetes. A hundred years ago, someone in our position would have just wasted away in a few months, unable to metabolize sugar. Since adult-onset type 1 diabetes is a completely genetic condition, I'm assuming that this is exactly what happened to many of our distant relatives, if they were lucky enough to live into their 40s. For example, life expectation was only 35 in revolutionary America, and around 47 in 1900. So if we were alive back then, most of us would be dead anyway.

As I said, science is helpless to provide any guidance here. Not only that, but it sows confusion by suggesting that you are wasting your time if you turn to religion to address the problems of Life and Mind. But let's have a look anyway, and see what we can find. At least before Future Leader wakes up, which could be any minute.

According to Genesis, there was a time when life was not problematic. Well, not exactly. The text implies that there was a problem in Eden, and that was man's "aloneness." We shouldn't necessarily jump to the conclusion that the problem was "loneliness," or even that man had the capacity to be aware of his aloneness. Rather, it seems to have been a problem recognized by God, who said that "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." (Note that this is the first thing in creation that is said to be "not good"; this is a critical point.)

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but this is where the real problems begin, for as Pastor Elvis sang, Well a hard headed woman / A soft hearted man / Been the cause of trouble / Ever since the world began. In the next verse, Elvis explains the nature of the problem:

Now Adam told Eve,
Listen here to me,
Don't you let me catch you
Messin' round that apple tree
.

So now man has a problem. But, appreciating the irony of the situation, Elvis concludes his homily on Genesis by acknowledging that

I got a woman,
A head like a rock.
If she ever went away
I'd cry around the clock.


So we see how life is ultimately a problem we wish to have. After all, only a tiny minority of us choose suicide or celibacy. The game must be worth the candle, whatever that means.

Anyway, since Man was created in the image and likeness of God, and God immediately recognizes that it is "not good" that Man should be alone, this seems to imply that God knows that it was not good for God himself to have been alone, or allOne. Could it be that the polarity between man and woman somehow repeats the polarity of God and man?

Now, first of all, don't necessarily begin with man and woman; rather, let's think about this in more cosmic terms, by using the universal categories of male and female; or active and passive; or yin and yang; or prakriti and purusha; or shiva and shakti. Or, as it is written in the mostserious Book of Petey,

One in agni & ecstasy has given birth to Two: spirit-matter, earth-sky, knower-known, sun-moon, cats & chicks, Chaos Control, Lennon-McCartney, God & Darwin, Adam & Evolution. A little metaphysical diddling between a cabbala opposites, and Mamamaya! baby makes Trinity, so all the world's an allusion.

While I'm thinking of it, let's turn to a passage in Heller's Creative Tension. He points out that recent developments in deterministic chaos theory have demonstrated that "there are strong reasons to believe that a certain amount of randomness is indispensable for the emergence and evolution of organized structures.... Randomness is no longer perceived as a competitor of God, but rather as a powerful tool in God's strategy of creating the world." He quotes the physicist Paul Davies, who wrote that,

"God is responsible for ordering the world, not through direct action, but by providing various potentialities which the physical universe is then free to actualize. In this way, God does not compromise the essential openness and indeterminism of the universe, but is nevertheless in a position to encourage a trend toward good. Traces of this subtle and indirect influence may be discerned in the progressive nature of biological evolution, for example, and the tendency for the universe to self-organize into a richer variety of ever more complex forms."

In a similar vein, he quotes A. R. Peacocke: "On this view God acts to create the world through what we call 'chance' operating within the created order, each stage of which constitutes the launching pad for the next."

So the bottom line is that if your life were totally planned, it couldn't be. In other words, the more you attempt to tamp down randomness and chance, the more you are likely to create disorder. To put it another way, there is a higher principle at work, which uses randomness and chaos to break up evolutionary impasses and "lure" the system toward its own destiny, so to speak. We must surrender to this destiny, as each of us, to paraphrase Sri Aurobindo, is a "unique problem of God."

Or you could say that "the answer is the disease that kills curiosity," or that twoness resolves the problem of oneness through the discovery and synthesis of eternal threeness, in which Love abides.

Perfect timing. My beautiful problem just woke up. I just hope this post didn't solve anything for you. At least on purpose.

Now, if you haven't got an answer, you'd never have a question
And if you never had a question, then you'd never have a problem
But if you never had a problem, well everyone would be happy
But if everyone was happy, there'd never be a love song
. --Harry Nilsson, Joy

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Abstract, the Ponderable, and the Real

This is a quick post. I just wanted to jot down some preluminary ideas before they lose me.

Yesterday I was thinking about what a terrible trap the world of science has created for many of us. Because of the undeniable blessings of science and technology, it's easy to get lost in the alternate reality created by science, and to lose contact with human reality, which is to say, divine reality (i.e., the human world is where the horizontal and vertical worlds intersect).

There is a spiritually totalitarian aspect of science, which can lead man to be trapped in a cold and abstract prison of his own making, and therefore be exiled from the fulsomeness of the living Real. Humans are a "prolongation" of the Real, not reducible to the abstract.

It is terribly naive to say that science (especially modern science) deals with the "real world." It actually begins with the ponderable world -- the everyday world of the senses -- but eventually creates a wholly abstract world that is taken to be more "real" than the ponderable world. (Importantly, it also begins with certain implicit religious assumptions purloined from the Real, such as the idea of an intelligible cosmos that can be comprehended by rational observers, but we won't get into that for now.)

This process of abstraction leads to patent absurdities such as the belief that DNA explains life or that the brain creates consciousness, rather than vice versa. Both the brain and DNA are digital, while the human is analogue. Or, as I put it in the Coonifesto, semantics cannot be reduced to syntax; to put it another way, qualities cannot be reduced to quantities, especially when we are talking about the "divine qualities" of the upper vertical, or the Real -- e.g., Truth, Beauty, Being, Liberty, Consciousness, the Sacred, the Holy, etc. All of these things emanate from the top down, not the bottom up.

For example, we all know that there is a mysterious, subatomic "quantum world" underlying our ponderable world, a vast sea of unbroken energy that supposedly tosses up forms like transient waves from the ocean. It is a world of pure abstraction, and features principles that are literally impossible for us to imagine, since they so violate everything we know to be true about the ponderable world -- i.e., causation, simple location, separate identity, the forward flow of time, etc. None of these common sense categories apply to the abstract quantum world.

First of all, the quantum world is not something we can ever "observe." Indeed, to even use the word "observe" is to project qualities of the ponderable world into the abstract world. You cannot "observe" mathematics, and the quantum world is largely the extension of mathematical models into "further" or "deeper" levels of abstraction.

For example, as we mentioned yesterday, the "Big Bang" is an extrapolation of the meaning of certain mathematical models. It is analogous to "climate change" models, only accurate instead of fanciful.

Even so, despite its accuracy, it nevertheless leads to an absurd world that cannot be imagined by the human mind. No one has ever even seen "the cosmos" (at least in its scientific sense). Rather, it is simply a model, an abstraction. Revelation also provides a model of the cosmos, but in that case, the model is real, not abstract or ponderable (with important exceptions; for example the Real became ponderable so that the ponderable might become Real).

Human observers could only exist in the ponderable world, and could never exist in the quantum world. So we have to picture the Big Bang "as if" it were possible for a human observer to be there. But that is strictly inconceivable.

For one thing, we can only know what is knowable by a human observer, and the most astonishing thing of all is that the Big Bang was pregnant with the human observer who is "watching" his cosmic birth unfold through his own abstractions, and is therefore his own mother, so to speak.

To suggest that this Mystery of Mysteries can be reduced to a mathematical equation is pretty silly -- as if understanding the equation would be equivalent to understanding the mystery of the human state. But to comprehend the equation would only add to the mystery, not detract from it, being that the most incomprehensible thing about the cosmos is its comprehensibility. At least if you try to start at the bottom.

When you think about it, it is actually no different than Genesis. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. "How do you know? You weren't there. Since people weren't created until the sixth day, you can't say what happened before that."

Bill Maher is such an imbecile.

Suffice it so say that revelation deals with the Real world, not the abstract world of science or the ponderable world of everyday existence. (To be perfectly accurate, it also has has to do with the dependence of the ponderable upon the Real, or their intersection; we are not dependent upon physics, but upon the Creator who created physics.)

Or, let us say that there is an upper world of divine archetypes and eternally creative activity; a "middle earth" of ponderable existence; and a lower world of abstraction and impersonal forces. All must exist, although it is a moonumental lunacy to turn the cosmos upside down and take the abstract for the Real or the ponderable, or to regard the abstract as "fundamental" rather than derivative.

Furthermore, there are not actually three worlds. There is only one world, and it is not reducible to the world of quantum physics. Rather, the world of quantum physics is an abstraction or "descent" of the Real world to its furthest reaches. There are other lower worlds -- e.g., the "unconscious" -- which we will discuss in a later post.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thinking about Thinking About Religion & Science

That's what I've been doing. Or am about to do, anyway. Say, we don't have a word for "thinking about thinking," do we? Hey, I heard that! Don't be a wise guy. Besides, "masturbation" is already taken.

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been reading Michael Heller's Creative Tension: Essays on Science and Religion. He's a physicist and priest who recently won the Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities for "his extensive philosophical and scientific probing of 'big questions.' His works have sought to reconcile the 'known scientific world with the unknowable dimensions of God.'" He maintains that

"If we ask about the cause of the universe we should ask about the cause of mathematical laws. By doing so we are back in the great blueprint of God’s thinking about the universe; the question on ultimate causality: why is there something rather than nothing? When asking this question, we are not asking about a cause like all other causes. We are asking about the root of all possible causes. Science is but a collective effort of the human mind to read the mind of God from question marks out of which we and the world around us seem to be made."

Hmmm.... "The monetary value of the Templeton prize (1.6 million US dollars in 2008) is adjusted so that it exceeds that of the Nobel Prizes. It is the largest single annual financial prize award given to an individual for intellectual merit" outside the game show Jeopardy.

I'm just thinking about all the progress I could make toward research about spiritual realities with 1.4 mil in my pocket. That's a lot of slack. So feel free to nominate me.

I see that Richard Dawkins calls it "a very large sum of money given [...] usually to a scientist who is prepared to say something nice about religion." It's about time they gave it to a religious person who is prepared to say mean things about sophomoric scientists pretending to be philosophers. So feel free to nominate Cousin Dupree. Besides, he owes me 22 months of back rent.

Back to Heller. First of all, I can't say that I recommend the book, since he's not the clearest of writers, and at times he assumes a ridiculous level of understanding of modern physics. I can't imagine that anyone other than a professional physicist would understand some parts of the book, but they are likely to be the ones who would reject his arguments a priori anyway, so that doesn't seem like a good marketing strategy. But I suppose with 1.4 million in his saddlebag, he doesn't have to worry about marketing.

Here, I'll just take a sentence at random: "Every commutative algebra can be made noncommutative by suitably perturbing it (with a certain perturbation parameter). In light of the above we can say that, from the mathematical point of view, quantum mechanics is but a noncommutative C*-algebra, with the Planck constant playing the role of deformation parameter."

But you knew that already.

The other thing is, Heller is one of those fellows who hems and haws and hedges and qualifies everything he says, so you want to say, will you get on with it?! I wonder if he has OCD? It's more common than you think, especially among quantum cosmologist-priests. Admittedly, I have the opposite problem, in that I see the vision first, and then worry about the details later, if I worry about them at all, which is why I'd probably be no good at Jeopardy. As such, Heller's book is helpful, as it forces me to contend with the most up to date version of scientific "reality." As Heller points out, this is not necessarily important because one needs to fit one's theology into the grooves of science, but because one is probably already doing that, only with an outmoded version of scientific reality.

In fact, if you pause to think about it, we cannot think about either theology or science in the absence of some prior, usually implicit, conception of the world. I was thinking about this the other day with reference to Schuon. He of course deplored modernism, and felt that man's premodern conception of the world was "normative," so to speak. It is the way humans were "meant" to live. I don't want to put words into his mouth, but it seems to me that he felt that the premodern world was the proper "container" for man's spirit, so to speak, just as, say, an animal has a particular environment proper to it. Remove the animal from its proper habitat, and it will not thrive. For Schuon, the deepest problems of modernity and postmodernity came down to man no longer living in the proper soul-environment.

Believe it or not, I do sympathize with this view, and I grapple with it all the time. As I mentioned yesterday, it is specifically because of Schuon's influence that I have become rather "bi-polar" in this area. After all, it is a very real question: how do we reconcile revelation and modernity, or creation and evolution, or physics and metaphysics? I suppose first of all by not seeing them as antagonisms that must be hastily resolved, but by appreciating their "creative tension."

First of all, this is what humans do anyway, and what they have always done. Schuon takes the premodern worldview as normative, failing to appreciate the irony that this was actually the product of a hard-won evolutionary synthesis. To cite one obvious example, the early Christian fathers were hardly impervious to the influence of contemporary thought. To the contrary, they were intimately familiar with the very finest in pagan thought (e.g., Plato), and thought long and hard about how to reconcile revelation and philosophy. Obviously Aquinas attempted the same synthesis in the 13th century. Viewed in this context, a Teilhard de Chardin was simply "thinking about thinking" in the new background cognitive environment of cosmic evolution and quantum physics. As was I in my book.

There have been, of course, heretical streams of modern and postmodern thought. But when I say "heretical," I mean that they are intrinsically heretical, in that they betray man as such in his function as the Thinking Being. They reduce upright Homo sapiens to a downright Homo sap. In other words, these modern heresies -- such as materialism, atheism, Marxism, behaviorism, scientism, positivism, deconstruction etc. -- all poison Man at the root, and specifically prevent his evolution. And when I use the word "evolution," I mean it in the sense of man "becoming what he is," or actualizing his unique spiritual potential.

So it is not so much that certain strands of thought are wrong because they are modern or postmodern. Rather, they're just wrong, period. On the other hand, many postmodern ideas are obviously correct. For example, I have no idea why materialists still exist, since modern physics utterly obliterated their anachronistic worldview a century ago. No serious thinker can be a materialist, which is why a Christopher Hitchens is obviously a brilliant man in terms of raw candle power, but extraordinarily naive in his background assumptions of how the physical (let alone spiritual) world works. He is not postmodern at all, but operating out of a defunct, 19th century Victorian picture of the world.

In any event, when thinking about the relationship between science and religion, we must bear in mind that a good methodology does not necessarily make for an accurate ontology. In fact, quite the contrary. Science is first and foremost a methodology, a systematic way to "interrogate" nature. It's very much like a true-and-false test, when ontology is an essay exam. But there is no objective way to grade an essay, so an essay is outside the purview of the scientific method.

Interestingly, Heller points out that the "great miracle" of logical discourse about the world, which began in sixth century B.C. Greece, represented a transition from a belief in divine whim to logical necessity. To express the idea of logical necessity within the natural order, they used the term ananke, which literally meant "the various means, from persuasion to torture, by which a criminal was made to confess."

Thus we see the way that an "everyday concept changed its meaning to become a predecessor of such important concepts as laws of nature, determinism, and causality." Had it not been for human torture, we might never have put nature on the scientific rack. Indeed, we'd never have realized that quantum mechanics is but a noncommutative C*-algebra, with the Planck constant playing the role of deformation parameter.

This preramble is already too long, isn't it? Better pick up the thread in the next post.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Second Thoughts About First Causes

It seems to me that there is an intrinsic dynamism in human thought, which is implicit in the idea that O has an eternally "restless" trinitarian interior. If our thought could ever perfectly mirror reality, it would be static instead of dynamic, and no evolution could occur. Thought can ascend higher or plunge deeper without ever reaching its object. But how do we orient it, and know which way is up? Obviously, "thinking" in itself is neither here nor there, as it can lead us closer or further away from its proper object. How do we anchor thought -- or provide it with a compass, so that it may at least know "true north?"

I'm searching for a metaphor.... It is as if life takes place in a watery medium between two solid shores. So long as we are in the water, we must swim. Occasionally we hear rumors of someone who reached the farther shore in this life. In fact, we have also heard of One who left the peace and safety of the father shore to dive into the water to be with us and teach us how to drown.

And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
--Leonard Cohen, Suzanne

Now, writing the Coonifesto required a great deal of "thought." And yet, there is a point in the book -- perhaps I didn't make it clear enough -- where I acknowledge the futility of ordinary thought to penetrate the reality which we seek. Let's see if I can find it.

There are actually several points, at least one per chapter. Here's one, p. 180: "Swept along by the crosscurrents and undertows of history's insane kaleiderescape, the fatal dis-ease of life only became more acute for human beings. Stumbling and bumbling down the darkness of centuries, our self-awareness only ratcheted up the tension, the dilemma of precarious being floating aimlessly over, but still firmly tied down to, a somehow familiar and yet alien sea with no apparent destination."

You might say that the emergence of science has allowed us to precisely calibrate our fundamentally broken compasses, so that we may navigate the vast Sea of Nothing with ever finer degrees of precision. Today we can get nowhere faster and more efficiently than any previous generation, plus there's so much more to do there when we arrive -- so many distractions, which have the effect of making the shadows of nothing look like something. But this something is merely the substance of nothing.

"As soon as a fragile and anxious loopwhole in biological necessity, the ego, was discovered, there were really only two choices -- with life, stasis is not an option -- either be pulled back into the body or the collective mind, or move forward and explore further upward into this new dimension beyond the boundaries of the senses."

Once again, the two shores. Secular progressives aim for the lower dimensional shore from which the human journey began -- back to matter and to the senses. Thus, the left essentially bifurcates into the hedonists (i.e., sensualists) and the activists (crypto-Marxist materialists and collectivists). The lives of the former are dynamically static, while the lives of the latter are statically active, but either way, both paths lead nowhere fast. For if the transcendent -- which, for our purposes, breaks out into the Good, True, and Beautiful -- is man's true home, then hedonism and materialism must necessarily invert the human journey and pull us back to the dark realm from which the human fleshlight first demerged from matter.

Now, I don't know anything about sailing the lower waters, but I'm guessing that it's no different from any other skill, as O-lucidated by Polanyi. Remember his metaphor of the blind man and the cane? At first, as he probes the world with the cane, he will be aware of physical sensations in the hand. But as he becomes accustomed to it, the cane will eventually become an unconscious extension of the hand. He will no longer even be consciously aware of the physical sensations, but rather, will feel "through" and beyond them, in order to "attend" to what is at the end of the cane. In turn, this will allow him to internalize a "world picture," or three-dimensional space in which to operate.

A moment's reflection will reveal to you that we are all in the position of the blind man. After all, our arms and hands are merely probes in the dark which our brains use to construct a map of the world. Likewise our eyes and ears. It is as if we all live in our own private submarine. We never actually touch water. Rather, we live inside the submarine, where we navigate the waters with our maps and instruments.

As human beings have developed, our maps and instruments have grown increasingly complex and sophisticated, which can give us the illusion that we are "closer" to the water. And yet, we must remember that science always operates from inside the submarine, and that the scientist, qua scientist, never actually touches water.

Art is a different matter. When we dwell in art, it is as if we leave the sub and take a little swim in the sky. Take, for example, music. Music proves that sound has not only an exterior accessible to science, but an interior known only to the soul. In fact, I am reminded of Sam Phillips' shock and awe when he first heard the preternatural sound of Howlin' Wolf's voice. He said to himself, this is where the soul of man never dies.

That's the experience we're all after, right? The absolute conviction that this is where the soul of man never dies. For to touch this realm is to touch the Absolute and eternal, in whatever medium, whether in art (the realm of the Beautiful), virtue (the realm of the Good), or science and theology (the realms of the true and True, respectively, the former being the penumbra of the latter).

Now, you wouldn't know it, but these thoughts were prompted by two books I'm currently reading, Creative Tension, by Michael Heller, and another one that shall go unnamed (file it under integral/new age/evolutionary).

In the case of Heller, he is an unusual man, in that he is both a first rate physicist with a specialty in cosmology, and a Catholic priest and theologian. However, he is refreshingly cautious about how science and theology relate to one another, and this book, although challenging, is proving to be a sort of psycho-spiritual disinfectant, helping me to clarify certain intuitions of mine and make them more explicit.

Beyond that, it is helping me to grapple with the fundamentals of my worldview, which is always healthy. In my mind, there is still this painful dichotomy or tension between the anti-evolutionary worldview of Schuon and the cosmic-evolutionary view, not just of science, but of esteemed pneumanauts such as Teilhard de Chardin and Sri Aurobindo.

But Heller emphasizes that we must be extremely cautious about prematurely or superficially bridging these worlds, for a variety of reasons, both scientific and theological. To cite just one example, science is always provisional, whereas theology is always about the permanent and atemporal. What we call the "Big Bang" is merely the extrapolation of a certain model used by physicists to understand the physical world. In these models, at a certain point, the "history" of subatomic particles disappears into "nothing." Therefore, some people make the hasty conclusion that this must be the same "nothing" out of which God created the universe.

But this is not only wrong, but it demonstrates a peculiar lack of imagination. The "nothing" of the physicist is merely the area beyond the horizon of his model. There's still "something" there -- it's just that the physicist's model does not permit him to even hazard a guess as to what it might be.

But the Nothing of theology is a much vaster principle, having to do with the emanation of Being from Beyond-Being. This is what I meant the other day when I said that in my book I was not trying to equate the Big Bang with God's eternal creative act, but to use it as a "fable" to retell that timeless story. As I said on p. 2, "Borrowing freely from Christian, Greek, Jewish, Hindu, Taoist and other sources, the creation to which it refers did not happen just 'once upon a time,' but occurs continuously, in the timeless ground anterior to each moment."

"Put it this way: neither the cosmos nor this book have a proper 'beginning,' but both have a center, a center that starts where science ends and must therefore be described in mythological terms. The purpose of myth is to help us re-collect what we have forgotten about our timeless source, our eternal nature, and our ultimate destiny."

In short, my huge mythunderstanding is a little sea shanty to sing between the shores. To be continued....

But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind.
--Leonard Cohen

Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, J.W.M. Turner

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Nice Gnosis & Naughty Gnosticism

Gnosis is the perfection of faith. --Clement of Alexandria

Yesterday we discussed Voegelin's concept of political gnosticism, which first "condemns the existing world as broken and alienating, plagued by evil forces preventing a complete and happy restoration of man’s spiritual and material life." This existential diagnosis is followed by the promise of "a mode of deliverance or salvation from the prison of the world for man through a secret gnosis" -- i.e., by the toxic political prescription of a secular priesthood.

Progressives believe that by manipulating people with just the right coercive policies, the state can reconstitute paradise and create a "'kingdom of heaven on earth," for which Voegelin coined the ponderous term, "immanentizing the eschaton." He considered just calling it "uncool," but chose the former because he wanted to be taken seriously be academics who don't understand him. (This is the best book on Voegelin for those who would like an accessible introduction to this important but somewhat forbidding thinker.)

My son -- who turns three in a couple weeks -- already knows all about immamentizing the eschaton. For example, he wants to have bacon or pizza for every meal. Thus, I often have to remind him, "stop immamentizing the eschaton! You can't have bacon around the clock unless you're either a good person or an Islamist in the hereafter."

In Science and the Modern World, "Big Al" Whitehead wrote that "When you are criticizing the philosophy of an epoch, do not chiefly direct your attention to those intellectual positions which its exponents feel it is necessary explicitly to defend. There will be some fundamental assumptions which adherents of all the variant systems within the epoch unconsciously presuppose. Such assumptions appear so obvious that people do not know what they are assuming because no other way of putting things ever occurred to them."

Being that we all live in "Christendom" -- that is, a culture shaped and animated (in the literal sense of "given life") by Judeo-Christian principles -- I guess it shouldn't be surprising that we share its underlying assumptions about the "brokenness" of man and the world. But where the progressive goes off the rails is in supposing there is some secret political formula that can reverse the fall and restore us to wholeness. Thus, the ubiquitous frenzied moral passion that always animates the left. Leftists are always exaggeratedly pessimistic about the present state of the world, but "optimistic" in a crazed and manic way that steamrules over anyone who would dare delay the immediate implementation of paradise.

From Marx on down, the leftist fallacy follows from turning spiritual Truth on its head (or "inside-out"), so that man's spiritual crisis is seen as a material one (e.g. "robber barons," "global warming," "global cooling," "nuclear power," "income disparity," "corporate greed," etc.) instead of a psycho-spiritual one. This is the "fundamental assumption" which adherents of all the variant progressive systems within our epoch unconsciously presuppose.

For example, the progressive would say that Palestinians aren't evil, they're just poor. Which precisely inverts the truism that they are poor because they are evil (except for the few who are extraordinarily wealthy because they are evil, having been enriched by the largesse of Western progressives who give them money because they think it will stop them from being evil, when it always does the opposite, thus ensuring a constant cash flow from backward progressives).

Just know that these philosophers whose wisdom you so much extol have their heads where we place our feet (Isaac of Acre), and you'll be okay.

So yes, secular progressives do begin with the same cognitive "deep structure" as those who are in touch with reality, but they promptly place their heads up their assumptions and de-spiritualize them, very similar to how the unconscious mind creates a sexual perversion. In order to create a perversion, the unconscious must "see" a truth it wishes to deny, usually revolving around the reality of sexual/generational differences. For example, many homosexual men compulsively attempt to incorporate the father's phallus in a direct instead of symbolic manner. An insecure heterosexual man might attempt the same thing by projecting this homosexual desire into women, thus having a compulsive need to "conquer" them in order to shore up his weak masculinity.

What the.... How did I drift into this topic? I wanted to explore the meaning of genuine gnosis, in coontradistincion to the false kind discussed yesterday.

In this regard, the first thought that pops into my head is, "hmm. I'm a little tired this morning. I wonder what Schuon would say? I can always defer to him and make myself look brilliant by standing in his reflected light." Conveniently, one of his books has a chapter entitled Gnosis is Not Just Anything. With any luck, this will provide all the answers we need, thus freeing me from the responsibility of thinking too hard.

Perfect! Just what I was looking for. The very first sentence reads, "It is a fact that too many authors -- we would almost say: general opinion -- attribute to gnosis what is proper to Gnosticism and to other counterfeits of the sophia perennis, and moreover make no distinction between the latter and the more freakish movements... that saw the light of day in the twentieth century.... [N]ow the fact that an imposture necessarily imitates a good, since otherwise it could not even exist, does not authorize charging this good with all the sins of the imitation."

Ironically, one of the reasons men of potentially gifted intellect reject religion is that they mistakenly believe there is no place for the intellect in religion, a misapprehension that is most certainly reinforced by popular caricatures of religion that are engendered by none other than religious doofuses themselves. But in reality, the nous (which is the word the early Greek Fathers used for the higher intellect) is the "satellite" of the Logos, the latter of which is the very Reason or intelligence that infuses Being.

A man is constituted of knowledge, will, and sentiment, with one of these three being predominant. As such, it shouldn't be surprising that the spiritual path breaks out into three main branches (or "yogas"), the way of bhakti (love of God), karma (virtuous action), and gnani (knowlede of God). Each of these paths represents a way to counteract the hardening or dissipative forces of the local ego, in that the ego wants to act, love, and know what it wishes, not necessarily what is real or good. But knowing the Truth, loving the Real, and doing the Good all serve in their own way to tame and discipline the ego's wayward tendencies. After all, Good is what you must do, just as Truth is what you must know, on pain of not actually doing or knowing anything useful -- you know, like the tenured, right? Right.

So really, gnosis is simply "the path of the intellect and hence of intellection; the driving force of this path is above all intelligence, and not will and sentiment..." Furthermore, this path "comprises on the one hand 'comprehension,' and on the other 'concentration'; hence doctrine and method" (Schuon). The two obviously go together, as the more we concentrate, the more we understand, and the more we understand, the more we con-centrate ("circle with," or orbit around, the focal Truth).

"Concentration" implies a gathering together of all one's disparate and fragmented parts, so to speak, so that one may know the Truth "axis to axis." Or, as Schuon puts it, "the unicity of the object demands the totality of the subject." Thus, it is insufficient merely to know Truth with the mind; rather, it must ultimately be approached with body-mind-spirit, so that Truth actually "infuses" the will and sentiments and brings them into alignment with the Sovereign Good.

Many are attracted to philosophy whose natures are imperfect and whose souls are maimed and disfigured by their meanness.... And when persons who are unworthy of education approach philosophy and make an alliance with her who is rank above them, what sort of ideas and opinions are likely to be generated? Will they not be sophisms captivating to the ear, having nothing in them genuine, or worthy of or akin to true wisdom? --Plato

In paradise, you can eat pork products all day while having your body painted by a fairy princess. In San Francisco, they would ban the former while making the latter compulsory.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Spiritual Gnosis vs. Progressive Gnosticism

It's a shame when one perfectly good word gets tarred by another through no fault of its own. A case in point is genuine spiritual gnosis vs. the political "gnosticism" discussed by the philosopher Eric Voegelin. In the April 7, 2008 National Review, Jonah Goldberg has a very insightful article on the politics of left wing gnosticism as it pertains to the Obama campaign, a campaign that goes to the very core of the left's spiritual pathology. It again demonstrates what happens when one abandons the "authorized" channels of religiosity for manmade ones, which ends up elevating man to a god and politics to his religion. In so doing, it collapses the critical distinctions between time and eternity, natural and transnatural, freedom and constraint, and other essential complementarities within which man lives -- and without which, he isn't a man at all.

As an aside, it is ironic that Obama is hailed as someone who can "unify the nation," when he can't even unify his own party. To the contrary, this has been the most divisive Democrat campaign in 40 years. The things they say about Hillary on left wing sites far surpasses the invective of conservatives, if only because the left is so much more handy with expletives than ideas. I don't like Hillary because of her policies, whereas the far left loves her policies but hates her because she stands in the way of their messiah.

One difference between gnosis and gnosticism is that people without spiritual gnosis -- e.g., atheists and materialists -- are necessarily "exterior" to the domain it discloses, and yet, proclaim this infirmity to be a kind of superiority. In contrast, a person who is not seduced by the group fantasy of gnosticism is in a superior position to judge it, since he remains within the confines of objective reality. In this regard, it would be interesting to know how many of Obama's supporters claim to be "irreligious" (or, like Obama himself, belong to heretical gnostic Christian churches that preach a spirtitually upside down "liberation theology"), as this would tend to confirm my view that real religion is the best defense against false ones.

We shouldn't be surprised that the spiritual path of the left mirrors the stages of purification, illumination and union, only in reverse. First comes union with the new messiah. For example, Goldberg notes that "Obama recruiters are encouraged to proselytize not by talking about 'issues' but by testifying about how they 'came to' the candidate..." In short, there must be a "conversion" process, a "metanoia," in which the scales suddenly fall from the Obamian's eyes and he "sees" the truth and joins the cult.

Goldberg writes that "Obama’s apostles include his wife, Michelle, who insists she is 'married to the only person in this race who has a chance at healing this nation.'" In this regard, she has testified that “We need a leader who’s going to touch our souls because, you see, our souls are broken.... The change Barack is talking about is hard, so don’t get too excited, because Barack is going to demand that you, too, be different.”

Thus, after one merges with Obama and is illuminated by the Truth for which he stands, ones commences with the hard work of purification, as we struggle to make ourselves worthy of the grace we have received. In other words, ask not what Obama can do for you. Ask what you can do for Obama.

Goldberg cites numerous examples to show how much of the messianic language that encircles Obama "is more New Age than New Testament." He quotes Gary Hart, who says that the Anointed One "is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians,” but is an "agent of transformation in an age of revolution,” whatever that means. Likewise, the dreadful spirit hustler and enlightenment pimp, Deepak Chopra, claims that Obama represents “a quantum leap in American consciousness,” while another pneumapath and career guru, Eve Konstantine, says that he “is our collective representation of our purest hopes, our highest visions and our deepest knowings.... He’s our product out of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence.” (Deepest knowings? She doesn't even know that "knowings" isn't a word.) And Oprah Winfrey suggests that Obama doesn't only "speak" truth but is the Truth who will help us “evolve to a higher plane.”

Of course, in left wing gnosticism, God does not work through the individual. Nor does he work through the interior collective, or any kind of "higher we." Rather, he works through the instrument of that coerced labor camp known as "the state," which will take control over the spontaneous order of the free market and attenuate the true "interior bonds" of civil society. For progressives, liberty is not the solution, it's the problem, because it tends to lead to the exercise of free will, which in turn emphasizes the sanctity of the individual.

The heart of Goldberg's piece involves a discussion of Voegelin's point that progressivism is a political religion and therefore a form of gnosticism. This religion has "two core assumptions. First, it condemns the existing world as broken and alienating, plagued by evil forces preventing a complete and happy restoration of man’s spiritual and material life."

So the progressive, in his own garbled way, recognizes that man is "fallen." However, "the gnostic promise, to borrow a phrase from John Edwards, is that 'it doesn’t have to be this way.'" Thus, the second assumption; as Russell Kirk observed, these religions promise "a mode of deliverance or salvation from the prison of the world for man through a secret gnosis." By manipulating people with the right policies, we can create a "'kingdom of heaven on earth' -- not coincidentally, a phrase invoked by Bolsheviks, progressives, fascists, and every other variety of utopian collectivist. This effort to lasso the hereafter and pull it down to the here-and-now was dubbed by Voegelin 'immanentizing the eschaton'" (Goldberg).

Different demoninotions of leftism will have different secret formulas and incontations to create their utopia. For Marxists, "the secret lay in the intricacies of scientific socialism.' With just the right manipulation of material or historical forces we could -- ta-da! -- create a land where each lives according to his need.... For the progressives, the trick was giving ourselves over to the social planners and gnostic 'ideologists of Christ'.... today, the secret is Barack Obama." Goldberg cites a creepy video "in which children testify about the dire state of the world." It then "cuts to a baby opening a copy of The Audacity of Hope, complete with a whispery spirit voice promising a 'secret.' The video concludes with one child after another announcing that the secret is -- Barack Obama."

As I mentioned above, the wave of Obama support rides on a deep structure of religious energy that is unrecognized by those most susceptible to it. In fact, as Goldberg says -- and I have argued in the past -- "the craving to create a heaven on earth is the inevitable consequence of a godless society." Or, to paraphrase Pope Benedict, "the loss of transcendence leads to the flight to utopia."

The very definition of "totalitarianism" is the "existential rule of Gnostic activists": "Indeed, the story of totalitarianism is the story of men trying to replace the allegedly discredited old God with one of their own creation." So de-divinization always preceeds the "redivinization" of explicit left wing brainwashing. This is certainly how it worked for me in college. First you discredit religion, and then replace it with with a pseudo-religion that occupies the vacant spiritual territory. It took me years to undo this ironically named "higher education."

From this follows the worship of man -- not even Man as Such, the image and likeness of the Creator -- but usually a man. "Or, in Voegelin’s words, they 'build the corpus mysticum of the collectivity and bind the members to form the oneness of the body.” In short, we finally become the ones we’ve been waiting for. Or, more accurately, you will be forced to wait upon the narcissism and self-victimization of the infantile ones constituting the progressive mob.

Perhaps tomorrow we'll get into the actual meaning of true gnosis.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Big Bang and Other Modern Mythadventures

I'm reading this wonderful book, The Spiritual Ascent (previously published as A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom: An Encyclopedia of Humankind's Spiritual Truth), which is an 1,100 page compendium of all the world's spiritual wisdom, divided into three main categories that mirror the three stages of soul's ascent to God, purification, illumination and union.

In turn, each of these three parts is divided into two main subsections, and each subsection has between three and nine subcategories. Plus, like my book, it is bracketed by a Prelude and Afterworld that deal with "events" that take place "before the beginning" and "after the end," within the womb of God. But since they are outside time, they are actually the timeless "ground" of every now, which I will attempt to explain in this post.

This is obviously not a book to be eaten straight through and digested in one siddhi. Nevertheless, that's what I'm doing, as it is a worthy test of the spiritual athleticism of the Mighty Raccoon, who can by nature stomach a great deal of truth without bursting at the seams. It will undoubtedly inspire many posts as I make may way through its riches.

Speaking of which, the book is structured like a holographic jewel, in which light from each facet illuminates the other parts. In this regard, timeless spiritual knowledge is truly fractal and organic, in that each part contains the "whole." To cite one obvious example, purification, illumination and union are not actually serial or linear, but aspects of one another. Obviously there is no union in the absence of purification, but at the same time, purification and illumination imply knowledge of, and union with, their transcendent object.

Likewise, here below in the herebelow we can separate truth and love, something which even God "cannot" do. And why can't he do it? Because, strictly speaking, it is impossible. Thus, to the extent that humans do it, they are living in illusion. In short, don't blame God for the left, even though they are inevitable. To ask why there is a left is to ask why there is existence, which is to say, something separate from God.

I can't believe I didn't come across this book in the course of writing my own, but then again, perhaps that was a good thing, because I would have ended up relying upon it too much instead of traveling hither and yon to locate all the material I used to support my metaphysical views. Plus, it is critical to point out that I first "discovered" Truth, only to slowly but forcefully realize that I had done no such thing, if "discovery" implies that I was somehow the first to find it and plant the Raccoon colors on its fertile soil. It makes the "discovery" all the more powerful when you realize that you've independently discovered something objective and accessible to the uncreated intellect.

For example, I've mentioned before that when I originally wrote the book, there were no footnotes in the Cosmogenesis and Cosmobliteration sections that open and close and reopen the book, the reason being that I thought they were self-evident. Like Finnegans Wake, they were intended to be as vivid and clear as a dream. By its nature, the dream is a densely packed clearobscurity of gnocturnal logic that "contains" an infinitude of meanings that may be explicated in a linear fashion with daytime logic. But no matter how much the daytime logic is additively summed, it can never "equal" the holographic dream density of which it is a function.

In fact, a number of Perry's references deal with this inexhaustible aspect of O. First, he quotes Schuon, who writes that from the metaphysical perspective, creation or manifestion are "rigorously implied" in the principle of the Absolute, which is necessarily Infinite. This principle has been enunciated by Tradition in any number of ways, often in a symbolic or mythological form aimed at the "average ethnic mentality," so to speak. Perry explains:

"From the cosmological perspective, creation is a progressive exteriorization of that which is principially interior, an alternation between the essential pole (purusha, yang) and the substantial pole (prakriti, yin) of a single Supreme Principle (Self, Atma)," which itself is the "Motionless Mover" of Aristotle. In short, the first "cosmic act" is the bifurcation of the Principle into "Essence" and "Substance," without which there can be no manifestation. Thus, this original duality -- or complementarity -- underlies all the others, such as subject-object, part-whole, wave-particle, individual-group, material-immaterial, etc.

Now, I probably didn't make it clear enough in my book that I was not suggesting that existence "began" with the Big Bang. Rather, in my mind, I thought I was making it obscurely clear that I was creating a modern fable, in which I use the contemporary language of Big Bang cosmology to convey timeless truths about the eternal cosmogenesis to which scientists unconsciously conform their minds. In other words, you cannot derive metaphysics from the empirical study of the cosmos. Rather, we must frame Big Bang cosmology in the form of timeless principles that have always been known about the manifestation of reality, or the local manifestation from the nonlocal Principle.

Anyway, not too many people read my book before it was published, least of all my editor. But one friend who read the Cosmogenesis section recommended that I insert some footnotes in order to give the drowning reader a little laughjoket to cling to. As I said in the Apologia and Joycetification, every word of it makes perfect nonsense, and couldn't have really been coonveyed in a more unigmatic manner. But knowing that many if not all readers would find this joyful prologue to be an unspeakable overchore, the footnotes were placed in the mouth of the book to give some direction and guidance with which to chew in the dark. Indeed, the footnotes are mere night lights intended to help you make a little pisstop in the dark, not floodlights to illuminate the whole spiritual pathroom.

But Perry's book is more of a floodlight, albeit a dark one. It reminds me of the title of Grotstein's book on Bion, A Beam of Intense Darkness. You have to put this dark beam in your own I in order to remove the bright moat that "surrounds" heaven, so to speak, obscuring its brilliance.

If that's not obscure enough, here are some examples from the book:

Chuang-tse: At the beginning of the beginning, even nothing did not exist. Then came the period of the Nameless. When ONE came into existence, there was ONE, but it was formless. When things received that by which they came into existence, it was called their virtue.... By cultivating this nature, we are carried back to virtue; and if this is perfected, we become as all things were in the beginning. We become unconditioned.

Now, not only does this pithy passage summarize the entire Cosmogenesis section of my book, but that section is a fractal of the entire book -- which in turn "demonstrates" the principle of the "fruit" of manifestation perpetually arising and flowing out of this tiny seed of eternity. As Perry says in a footnote, "In the Beginning" is not meant to be just "once" but once and for all -- not "once upon a time," but, as I put it in the book, One's upin a timeless. Get it?

Again, it is quite easy to put these timeless principles in a Christian context, which should go without saying. For example, William Law:

Now these heavenly properties which were brought into this created compaction lie in a continual desire to return to their first state of glory; and this is the groaning of the whole creation to be delivered from the vanity of which the Apostle speaks.

Or Eckhart:

God dwells in the nothing-at-all that was prior to nothing, in the hidden Godhead of pure gnosis whereof no man durst speak.

Or William Law again:

The goodness of God breaking forth into a desire to communicate good was the cause and the beginning of creation.

Eckhart, in his usual playful manner:

God has made the world... in order that God might be born in the soul and the soul be born into God.... God cannot know himself without me.

Thomas Traherne:

It is no blasphemy to say that God cannot make a God: the greatest thing that He can make is His Image: a most perfect creature, to enjoy the most perfect treasures, in the most perfect manner.

Or to put it in Petey's plain unglish -- I could cite numerous examples from the book, but here's just one:

A divine desire to reveil and find Itself, unnarcissary yet inevitable, conceived in d'light immaculate and now swelling in the night-filled womb of unmanifest being, the radiant urizon of an insindiary Dawn approaches. When purusha comes to shiva with an unmentionable demiurge (the unspoken Word), how Lo can He go? How about all the way inside-out and upside down, a vidy long descent indeed to the farthest reaches of sorrow and ignorance.... Congratulations on the equation of your cosmic birth! Oh my stars, He expectorated a mirrorcle, now you're the spittin' image!

As I said, the remarkable thing to me is that this may look "made up," but it's clearly not. Rather, it's pure playgiarism of innumerable previous gnosis-alls, dressed up in the punnishantics of happily unhinged coonglish.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Murmurandoms From the Back of Beyond

This may look like a random list of portentous utterances, but it actually possesses a "secret order" that will be known only to real initiates, the true Sons and Daughters of Toots.

Nah, not really. I'm just presenting things in the order they appear in this journal. As before, an asterisk means "probably stolen," or at least a lila playgiarized. I've also indicated where these are thoughts about other people's thoughts (mostly Schuon and Anonymous), so it is possible that I've incorporated some their words (I put their name at the end of any passages they inspired).

I gotta get out of here. I'm late already. Sorry for any incoherence.

***

Esoterism represents a kind of "pure understanding," similar to theoretical mathematics. The invisible object that corresponds to this understanding is the Real. Gnosis is essentially the result of submission to the eternal principles that in-form dogma. In the same way, dogma is a formal support for intellection, or a "window into heaven" which transmits the inward vision. (Schuon)

***

Science studies the world in order to understand it. Esoterism understands the world in order to study it. This understanding is anterior to the world, and corresponds to the realm of vertical recollection, which intellectually frees us from the tyranny of the horizontal.

***

Heaven has two soulstices or doors, a door of winter, when the sun "enters" our world at the darkest point, and a door of summer, when it begins to withdraw and the fullness of light departs from this world. (Thoughts on Schuon. Not entirely sure what it means, but it sounds good.)

***

The unKnown God exists at no particular place. He has a probability to be found at any place, but can "be" there only when encountered there. As long as he is not found, he ex-ists nowhere. God is co-created by dwelling in the means available to know him, just as one dwells in a work of art in order to comprehend its nonlocal message. (Thoughts on some of Polanyi's ideas transposed to theology.)

***

It is useless to seek to realize "I Am Brahma" without first realizing the extent to which one is no such thing -- or that "all is one" without first recognizing that all is multiplicity; or that "I am saved" without first appreciating the extent to which one is fallen. The sage sees things in their multiplicity and relativity while at the same time seeing through and beyond them in their metaphysical transparency. (Schuon)

***

Could the ubiquitous practice of human sacrifice be a garbled hint of the revelation that could only come in the fullness of time? History is the universal Bible of which the Bible is the condensed version. Our intuition of the Being Who Is evolves over time, based upon increased interiority on the vertical plane, at least for the collective. Creator --> Lawgiver --> Essence of Being.

Or, memories of paradise (i.e., vertical gnostalgia) --> Institution of formal worship to guard memories and prevent them from being forgotten --> Priesthood to keep them alive and develop them --> Schools of transcerebral experience, faith that there is a path of exit and that the endeavor to ascend is not in vain --> Spiritual preparation of the world and of a chosen people --> Incarnation itself, i.e., break-up of closed circle in the most dramatic intervention possible --> Establishment of a realm of liberty so that human beings may be freely lured into this vertical attractor at the end of history. (Anonymous)

***

There are many tracks but 1 way ÷ 3 = Purification + Illumination + Union = O. Without purification, a spiritual teacher is likely to be an illuminated scoundrel, while without illumination a philosopher will be an intelligent oddball. Death is the guardian between the three worlds. To put it another way, for Union to occur, some disassembly is required.

***

Partial list of postmodern words one may string together in any sentence in order to prove anything: contextualism, decentered, discourse, Eurocentric, feminisms, gaze, gendered, hegemonic, heteronormative, marginalized, post-colonial, queering, subaltern, transgendered, whiteness.

For example, yesterday Vanderleun posted a blatantly Eurocentric discourse about the great post-colonial writer of color, Alice Walker, in which his hegemonic gaze ironically converted his own heteronormative whiteness into a subaltern of Walker's three feminisms, thus marginalizing and queering all over himself. WTF!?

***

The purpose of obscenities is to allow us to identify those people who are too stupid to express themselves without them. 6.2% of Vanderleun excepted, of course. And 93% of Dupree.

***

The more unity a thing possesses, the more weight, depth, and participation in Being.

***

Materialism is not the realm of answers but the graveyard for real questions.* (Probably Anonymous)

***

Wherever their are individuals, there are frontiers.*

***

The spiritual path is a road to de-mask us.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Everything Must Go!

Only six comments yesterday. I don't know if cleaning out Bob's journals in public is such a good idea. Seems to be driving away all but the stalkers.

Still, I'm enjoying it. It's like a garage sale. Sure, there's a lot of crap, but you never know if you might find that Beatles butcher cover in a pile of old records. Besides, what can I do without Bob's cooperation? You can't expect me to be linear and coherent. That's not my thing. I just enjoy sniffing along the trail for the post-cartesian unified paradigm. I feel as if I'm drowning in a sea of clues, and these journals are like the bucket with which I bail out the dinghy. So if some of it sounds dingy or all wet, that's why.

Here are some notes about Bob's favorite secular philosopher, Michael Polanyi: How is it possible to see a good problem? It is an intimation of a hidden coherence not yet comprehended in the particulars. "Knowledge of an approaching discovery" is an indispensable kind of pre-knowledge that is needed for mental evolution to occur. To put it another way, your life depends on identifying the right question. Ask the wrong question, and you might just waste the opportunity of a lifetime.

Truth is recognized by its fruitfulness. But how is it possible to implicitly apprehend the wealth of undiscovered consequences before we have discovered the truth from which they proceed? We are always in the presence of a hidden reality toward which various clues are pointing. Faith "knows" this. It is our "negative capability," when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, & doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason (Keats)

In this regard, does history reveal a higher principle? Is it a representation of something unseen? Do we only imagine the unity of history behind the multiplicity, or is there genuine synthetic knowledge at the level of history?

Yes, there must be an object of history, the nonlocal eschaton, the Omega point, which reveals the meaning of the local particulars. This point once "walked among us." It still does. Phenomenal history is a temporal reality behind which is the noumenal transhistorical reality of fall and redemption, the Arc of Salvation.

Our task is always to relate the horizontal realm of change to the vertical realm of changelessness. This is the crossroads where humans live, die, and are reborn. Otherwise, history truly is meaningless, a kind of literal tunnel vision or transtemporal myopia. Again, the point is to move from the line to the open spiral. The secular historian is like a frog at the bottom of a well who knows the sky only as a small blue disc.

An avatar is anyone who saves mankind from itself. Vertical emissaries are dropped from on high into history from time to time for various purposes, be they political, religious, scientific, military, or artistic. Most of them are unknown, others are hidden in plain sight.

***

Science is intelligence without wisdom. But religion, while it remains the safeguard of wisdom, often promulgates a wisdom without intelligence, so to speak. What religion should provide is intelligence guided by wisdom. Thus, it can never be world-denying, nor can it ever flinch from the discoveries of science.

Religious wisdom can easily accommodate any scientific truth. But if religion is reduced to a kind of flatland literalism, then it immediately puts itself in competition with science for the best "horizontal explanation," and this is a battle it not only cannot win, but looks foolish trying.

Likewise, when science attempts to be a source of wisdom on its own level, it looks just as foolish as the fundamentalist who insists that the world is only 6,000 years old. You cannot derive values from science, any more than you can derive metaphysics from the empirical world. Values and metaphysics are anterior to the world. They cannot "evolve" or change. Murder is evil in any cosmos, just as surely as being is always the first-born of beyond being, or the Son proceeds from the Father in the very nature of things.

And love will always be superior to unity, God being what he is. Or let us say that unity is only unity if it is a unity of differences, not a blending. Even if I could experience this unity-without-difference, I'd give it up for love. Which is why we ex-ist. Yoga is the union of local and nonlocal, which are bound by a love that is superior to both, but impossible in the absence of this "division," a division which is in the interior nature of things -- again, God being what he is.

***

Two statements that are equally "true," but what a difference: 1) Steven Pinker is an expert on language. 2) William Shakespeare is an expert on language. Which of these two men better comprehends -- or runs circles around -- the other?

This exemplifies the vast gulf that exists between (k) and (n). Pinker possesses (k) about language. By definition it can never be complete, being that using language to comprehend language is analogous to giving birth to oneself. And let's not even waste time with the idea that language can convey the truth of itself if it is reduced to a fancy system of animal signals. Rather, if language can transmit truth, then language is much more than it can ever say. Truth itself can never be exhausted on the plane of language. Poets have always known this.

In contrast to Pinker, Shakespeare -- as far as we know -- did not trouble himself with reductionistic explanations of how monkeys learned to speak. Rather, he simply demonstrated his implicit knowledge in a way that can never be surpassed. It is no different than the knowledge possessed by a musicologist vs. the knowledge possessed by Bach. These are clearly of a vastly different order, to such an extent that it would be silly to even place musicology on the same plane as music.

Just so, there are theologians and there are... pneumanauts. Theology is a declension from O, or O-->(k); its purpose is to give a coherent and "authorized" account for those kinds of experience we call "religious," but the experiences nevertheless take priority, otherwise theology is void of human content.

Theology is fine as far as it goes, but let us never forget that, say, Jesus, was no theologian. I'd have to go back and reread all of his words, but as far as I can recall, they are almost all (n), or direct "demonstrations" of O, analogous to the difference between Bach composing "for the glory of God" and a college professor yammering for the glory of tenure.

***

The genealogy of leftist wickedness follows from a number of key presumptions or under-lies. They are, 1) human beings have no essential identity, only an accidental or "existential" identity centered on race, class, gender, ethnicity, or "sexual orientation."

From this follows 2) rejection of that most precious of God's creations, the unique individual who can only actualize his potential and discover this uniqueness under conditions of ordered liberty; 3) no objective morality transcending culture; 4) an exclusive focus on nature at the expense of what humans have always recognized as "the Real," i.e., the transcendent and eternal; 5) a replacement of knowledge with a kind of bovine skepticism and doubt, which results in refined stupidity displacing Truth, or an "anti-word" that attacks the very links that make existence comprehensible; 6) a worship of the primitive as "authentic," since the lower is all that really exists; 7) an upside-down mysticism, or "pathological we" that revolves around material interests instead of transpersonal bonds. It is the "body of gaia" as opposed to the "body of Christ," so to speak. The former is the "black unity," being that an absence of light causes all distinctions to merge. The latter is the singular "body of light" that is superior to the distinctions it illuminates.

Leftism is a deeply spiritual movement, bearing in mind that "spirit" is obviously a neutral term. For example, the nazis were profoundly spiritual, as are the Islamists. It is a "revolt of spirit" to be sure, but this revolt cannot be understood on any material basis.

When authentic religion is rejected, it is always displaced by the magic from which religion rescues us. To put it another way, religion -- at least in its esoteric sense -- is a mental disinfectant that prevents the mind from proceeding down all sorts of fruitless and pathological dieways and loways. Thus, never ask why the left is so full of magical thinking, for that is the inevitable result of rejecting the transcendent truth to which the human mind must conform on pain of dying to reality and living in fantasy. Which isn't really "living" at all, just existing for a dark moment between two luminous slabs of eternity.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Spiral Bound

Here's another one of Bob's spiraling notebooks. Let's see what's in it. Hmm, you know what might be fun? To go in the closet and dig out some of the journals from twenty years ago, and see what was going on in Bob's fool head back then. Might prove to be very embarrassing, or at least a humbling experience. Damn, I should have done it for April Fools! I think he's going to get his fasting blood work done tomorrow morning. If so, maybe I can induce Dupree to rummage around in the closet while he's out. Call me his literary executioner.

Just remember, I'm not in charge of "quality control." That's not my job. I just throw a lot of stuff against the wall, so you can see what stinks. Anything with an asterisk means that Bob might have stolen it.

***

What is this, some kind of riddle?: "Lower self is cross of true self. True self is cross of lower self." I think I get it. Eternity must "bear" time, just as time bears eternity at the crossroads of the vertical and horizontal. Sometimes the burden is unbearable, but in the end, eternity is in love with the productions of time. I hope.

***

Man's real freedom is in the dimensions of height and depth.

***

The scientist would have us believe that existence, life, and mind each required a series of miraculous accidents. We agree entirely, for they certainly weren't horizontal necessities. "Miraculous accident" is just another way of saying "vertical descent."

***

Ever since language began colonizing the brain, it has been an unending task to synthesize all of these bits into a coherent self. It is possible to escape the animal nervous system with language, only to become trapped in language. As language is to the animal nervous system, metaphysics is to language.

Memes carve out a niche in mental space and reproduce there. When merged with the primitive superego, this becomes an agenda or ideology that partakes of a false timelessness.

***

Is what the universe is converging upon less real than the converging parts? Is a face less real than the parts of which it is composed? Only the whole face allows us to "see" its within. The face is the meaning of its features, truly a "hole" in creation, perhaps the first point of entry into the great interior of Being. Humans "dwell in one another" in a manner inconceivable to other species, as it "bounds the infinite," thereby making it ponderable. It is one of the many reasons I don't believe in extra-terrestrial life or artificial intelligence, for their proponents have no appreciation of the unique indwelling and intersubjectivity of the human state.

This is one of the crimes of the Islamic world, for to cover the female face is to annihilate personal identity, the unique within and the reason foe being. Leftists do the same thing by forcing you to see a "person of color" or other various group designations instead of a unique individual. It is a faceless ideology, especially when taken to its logical extreme, e.g. Cuba, Soviet Union, Berkeley, etc. "Diversity" is never diversity of individuals, but of groups, which by definition deny individuality. For example, "blackness" is seen as essential instead of accidental.

***

Leftist intellectuals sow their seeds, while the poor reap the bitter harvest. The left tries to eliminate existential tensions, while the conservative liberal has learned to harness and exploit them, e.g., through the free market. Something similar is done with regard to the spiritual life, e.g., one cannot eliminate sexual tension through promiscuity and "sexual liberation," but one can certainly transpose it to a higher key through spiritual union, i.e., marriage of souls, which embodies the eternal play of the cosmic male and female principles.

***

To integrate particulars is to interiorize. There can be no mere "external" synthesis. Wherever we see deep coherence, it is evidence of interiority. What we call "deconstruction" is only beneficial if it dismantles a false synthesis into its particulars for the purpose of a more intense and meaningful union, not as an end in itself, for it is certainly possible to impose a false whole that denies the particulars (which the left habitually enforces through various mechanisms of political, academic, and media correctness). But in practice, it is almost always a secular destruction, not a spiritual synthesis. It is the embodiment of the satanic principle which "flees" from O, from the center to the periphery. This is how and why deconstruction is the all-purpose tool of leftist tools. You can use it to convince yourself of anything.

The true individual is freedom lived.*

***

Music also has a "within," which is indeed the key to its mystery and appeal. Music reveals to us the within of time in its most abstract sense, in that it is unity-in-flowing diversity mirrored in the mind that "holds" it. Some minds can hold much more than others, both musically and cosmically. Scientism reduces the grandeur of the Cosmic Suite to a three-minute pop tune that anyone can play.

Revelation reveals the within of the Creator. To see God's face would be to see eternity. "No one can see my face and live." But one can die before one dies, then seeing is believing: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matt 5:8); They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads (Rev: 22:4). Some people saw Jesus' face and therefore saw the Within, while some see and do not see. But blessed are those who don't see and yet believe, for they have 20/20 foresight.

Faith is dwelling in the particulars, confident in the foreknowledge that their meaning will be revealed. It is "knowledge of an approaching discovery," meaning that one somehow already possesses the knowledge one seeks. "Clues" can only exist if we already know what they point towards. Is this why the left is so clueless about religion?

***

When you try to teach something you don't really understand, you just pass along the parts. Someone will then have to assemble them. Still, this is preferable to passing along a confident ignorance of the Whole. To paraphrase Schuon, when a man pretends to an understanding he doesn't possess, it jeopardizes what little valid knowledge he does possess. One obviously sees this pattern writ large in the atheistic/secular mind, but also in self-appointed "spiritual teachers" who go way beyond their competence to pronounce on all manner of topics of which they know nothing.

***

Life is to matter as mind is to brain and God is to existence.

***

If the mind didn't exist, we'd have no trouble explaining it.

***

Getting paid for what comes naturally is like a self-replicating dollar bill.*

***

Spiritual practice: arranging your own birth.

***

We must become metaphysically fit in order to be missionaries capable of the arduous journey from the future to the present.

***

Al Gore embodies the "hyperlucidity of the irrational," Bill Clinton the infectiousness of the shameless.

***

Bill & Hillary: Slimese twins.

***

Writing: What we give back to eternity in exchange for time.*

***

If President Bush voluntarily relinquishes his fascist theocracy in January 2009, he will be the greatest man who has ever lived.