Monday, May 19, 2008

Cosmic Divorce and the Quest for Missing Unity (5.23.09)

Other compacts are engraved in tables and pillars, but those with wives are inserted in children. --Pythagoras

Our founders, being that they were deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian principles, had no illusions about the desirability of political "unity." To the contrary, they set up the Constitution in such a way that it would be practically impossible to achieve -- or impose, is more like it -- unity, with the separation of political power into competing branches of government. Naturally, this doesn't preclude synthesis, which is another thing entirely.

As it pertains to contemporary politics, you might say that the left is the pro-"static unity" faction, while the right is the pro-"dynamic synthesis" faction (which in turn is why the left shades off into fascism, while conservatism -- not the GOP, mind you -- is the last bastion of American liberalism). This can be seen quite clearly in the lust for "unity" that we are told drives the Obama campaign. I don't know about Obama's handlers -- who I assume are as cynical and calculating as any political hacks -- but with his followers it is a different matter. Being that "the hypnotized never lie," I suppose we should take them at their word that they are not being disingenuous, and that they actually believe the loony things they say. They actually believe the dream.

I don't have time to look it up, but I remember a few years back, a study came out about the damaging psychological consequences of divorce. As a psychologist, I can assure you that almost all psychological research that emanates from academia is not even wrong. Rather, it is thoroughly politicized with leftist assumptions dressed up as conclusions. As a result, there is no free inquiry; rather, certain conclusions are mandated, while others are forbidden, so the whole exercise is mostly an anti-intellectual farce.

But this study made a subtle point about the lasting consequences of divorce. But even more importantly, it comports with common sense. That is, the child who grows up in a broken home will be deprived of the experience of a harmonious synthesis at its deepest level, which derives from the union of male and female. Obviously, marriage is an organic synthesis -- especially as it transforms through time -- not a mechanical union (although it certainly can be; there is no guarantee that someone from an "intact" home will know the type of higher unity we are discussing). The point is that the psyche of the child of divorce can be "fractured" in ways both subtle and enduring.

As we have discussed before, early psychoanalysis focused exclusively on the "content" of the mind, consistent with its roots in the naive mechanistic positivism of the 19th century. All bad philosophies presuppose what they need to explain, and in this regard, psychoanalysts didn't even think about the psychological container, only the content, i.e., "id," "ego," and "superego."

But beginning in about the 1960s there was much more of an appreciation of the priority of the container over the content, especially for more serious forms of mental illness, e.g., what are called "personality disorders," which are enduring forms of maladaptive thought and behavior. These lifelong conditions are to be distinguished from the "neuroses," which are more easily conceptualized in terms of "bad content," so to speak. But even then, if you scratch the surface of most neurotics, you will find issues of "containment" to which the neurosis is a sort of adaptation.

Am I being too jargony? I'm afraid I'm losing readers at this point. In my book, I talk about "mind parasites." When you think about these, the image of a discrete foreign invader no doubt comes to mind. But the deepest mind parasites -- excluding purely genetic and biochemical things like schizophrenia -- are much more analogous to autoimmune disorders, in that they are not so much the content as the context. Just as an autoimmune disorder attacks the body's own tissue, a person with a "bad container," so to speak, attacks his own mental content (not to confuse things, but he can also project the content into other people and attack it that way, as do, for example, the rabid Bush haters).

One of the odd things about human beings is that we do not come into this world with any kind of adequate container. This is a remarkable point, and one that is fraught with consequences, both good and bad. No other animal needs to be "contained." Rather, they are driven by instinct, which you might say defines the "outer limits" of their consciousness. No animal is terrified of infinity. No animal worries about death, or the end of being.

But man, being that he is in the image of the creator, is born into "infinity," so to speak. I shouldn't even say "so to speak," because I am being quite literal. The purpose of containment is ultimately to "translate" infinity into time, which is none other than to think. Which in turn is why real thinking is a "transformation in O," or O-->(k). But there are many counterfeit forms of thinking, and most of them ultimately have to do with various issues of containment. To put it another way, the perfection of mystical union might be thought of as becoming at one with the "container" of all Being.

Let's take an obvious example. As Lee Harris has written, the jihadi doesn't become a jihadi because there is any realistic hope of creating a unified Islamic caliphate worse than death on earth. Rather, the reason he becomes a jihadi is to share in this intoxicating fantasy. To believe it is to be transformed by it, so the real motivation is strictly personal, just projected onto the world-historical stage.

In so many ways, leftism shares this same dynamic, in that it always promises things that by definition it can never deliver. We know this ahead of time. But that's not the point. The point is to believe and to be transformed by the belief. This is why the left is such an odd grab-bag of losers, perverts, crackpots, ideologues, dimwits, and evil geniuses. (This book looks like a promising exploration of these themes; just ordered it.)

Let's take a recent example. Last week a single judge on the California Supreme Court (being that it was a 4-3 decision) decided not only to redefine the accepted meaning of marriage, but to impose this idiosyncratic definition on 35 million others. This is something that even Californians do not want, but it doesn't matter. Unity has been imposed from on high by a single fascist judge. And as is true of all forms of fascist unity, it actually undermines the possibility of real synthesis, being that it attacks the very institution that makes it possible at the deepest level, i.e., the union of male and female.

This kind of leftist judicial pathology presupposes a materialistic paradigm. Atheists talk a good game, but if you could be magically transformed into an actual materialist, you would die of the unremitting horror. To actually be consigned to materialism would instantly drain the world of its spiritual content and context, leaving a sort of barren landscape with no intrinsic meaning whatsoever. It sounds paradoxical, but it would be a kind infinite finitude from which there would be no vertical escape. It would be a kind of living spiritual death which you can scarcely imagine, unless you have attended a major university, for it is the death of the human imagination, and with it, our "spiritualizing" faculty.

Now, Obama is the product of a deadbeat father and a hippy flake of a mother. Is such a person automatically consigned to a leftist hell in search of the Lost Unity? No, of course not. That would be a gross over-simplification. To cite just one example, God's grace is real, and can help deliver one from a fractured state.

D'oh!

What did Obama do? He went and joined a pathological church that repeated the trauma of his childhood, so two wrongs made a Wright! Paranoid, delusional, spiritually fractured, riven by projection, and driven by the chimera of "black unity." Of course he wants Unity, for he wants to clean up after the mess his parents made.

The sacred marriage, consummated in the heart, adumbrates the deepest of all mysteries. For this means both our death and beatific resurrection. The word to "marry" (become one) also means "to die," just as in Greek [it] is to be perfected, to be married, or to die. When "each is both," no relation persists: and if it were not for this beatitude, there would be neither life nor gladness anywhere. --Ananda Coomaraswamy

In alchemy, the true hero, "son of the cosmos" and "savior of the macrocosm" is he who is capable of offering a virgin soul into the embrace of transcendency. --M. Aiane, in The Spiritual Ascent

Marriage between man and woman is not an end in itself but a divinely ordained arrangement for the purposes of receiving the grace that will transform both parties. A dysfunctional marriage is one in which no spiritual transformation takes place -- it is spiritually "stillborn," so to speak, or "infertile" no matter how many children it produces -- like a Kennedy marriage.

This is why, strictly speaking, there can be no "secular" marriage. Or put it this way: to the extent that your marriage is only a secular affair, I do not see how or why it could transcend the state of essentially being -- as Glen Campbell sang -- "shackled by forgotten words and bonds and the ink stains that have dried upon some line." Anything short of spiritual union involves using the other person in one way or another. It merely creates the conditions for narcissism rather than its transcendence, which is surely one reason why there are so many divorces. Marriage can never do for you what it was never intended to do, which is to make you "happy" or "fulfilled" in the material sense, at least not for long. No mere earthling can do that.
--Petey

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Multi-Dimensional Organ of Human Consciousness (5.19.10)

The supralogical is superior to the logical, the logical to the illogical. --Ananda Coomaraswamy

While I would never base a belief in God on the gaps in our knowledge -- except perhaps as a jumping-in point -- I do know that we are immersed in a universe of irreducible mystery, and that this mystery includes several fundamental conundrums that will never be beaten by science. These mysteries represent limits to our cognition. While we can think about them rationally, we can never arrive at any satisfactory intellectual (in the lower, profane sense) answer as to what they actually are, any more than the hand can grasp itself, for they are the very conditions of our being and knowing.

I guess I'm saying that while I may not know much, at least I know nothing. As Petey never tires of reminding me, I'm just apophatic nobody.

For example, science will never comprehend the mystery of existence -- that is, why there is an ordered something instead of a chaotic nothing. Science simply assumes this a priori order, for without it, science would be impossible. This mystery is so hopelessly insoluble that we generally stop even asking about it after childhood. Science actually provides no sensible answers to this question at all, nor was it intended to. Only esoteric religious metaphysics even begins to touch this dimension, for it is an intellectual form adequate to the majesty and mystery -- not to mention, sanctity -- of the subject.

Another irreducible mystery is life itself. We all act as if we know what it is, but it would be much more accurate to say that we know what lifelessness is, and that life seems to be a bizarre and unexpected violation of this general rule (when it is actually the reverse).

Even more bizarre and problematic is the existence of consciousness. We have this astounding gift of inwardness, and yet, what is it for? Why would the universe evolve into a subjective horizon containing love, beauty, truth, justice, poetry, music....

We can know so much, and yet, we cannot know anything about these fundamental mysteries of existence, life and consciousness -- at least not with reason alone. As the Buddhist scholar B. Alan Wallace observes, "Despite centuries of modern philosophical and scientific research into the nature of the mind, at present there is no technology that can detect the presence or absence of any kind of consciousness, for scientists to even know what exactly is to be measured. Strictly speaking, at present there is no scientific evidence even for the existence of consciousness." Another way of saying it is that, if consciousness did not exist, science would have no trouble explaining the fact.

That is, the only evidence we have of consciousness consists of direct, first person accounts of being conscious. And yet, not everyone is conscious in the same way or of the same things. Although we don’t know what consciousness is, we do know that there are degrees of it. Every psychologist navigates through the use of a developmental model of some kind, in which consciousness unfolds and develops through time. But why? Other animals don’t have degrees of consciousness within their own species, but the gulf between certain humans is as great as the gulf between a dog and Beethoven, or between Petey and Keith Olbermann.

This is such an important point. Yes, one can easily prove the existence of God. But not to you, jackass. Speaking only for myself, when I read, say, Meister Eckhart or Frithjof Schuon, and compare it with reading, say, Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, they are resonating on entirely different planes of consciousness. It is a physical sensation, albeit a subtle one -- and one which it is the purpose of a spiritual practice to identify, develop, and amplify, as with any other "skill." As such, I can well imagine how it would be possible for someone to arrive at the misosophical or sophophobic nul de slack of atheism if they are blunted to the subtle transactions that constantly flow between the planes of consciousness -- or between the Subject and the subject.

In my view consciousness is an organ, just like any other organ in the body -- heart, lungs, kidneys, etc. But those are material organs that exist in three-dimensional space. Consciousness, however, is an immaterial organ that operates in multidimensional space and time. In short, it is the first hyper-dimensional organ of the cosmos.

What is an organ? Two things, mainly. First of all, it is a differentiated structure. In other words, it is not just a blob or an aggregation, but a definable form that has an identifiable structure. A while back, during my nuclear treadmill, I got a good look at my heart. Even with a material organ such as the heart, no one can draw a sharp line and say "this is where the heart ends and the vascular system begins." And yet, the heart is an obvious structure with valves, chambers, arteries, etc.

The second characteristic of an organ is that it has a purpose; it performs a function through cooperative activity. The heart pumps blood. The lungs exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. The kidneys filter the blood.

By implication, organs have a third characteristic, that is, pathology. If an organ is defined by a function it is supposed to accomplish, then pathology means failure to accomplish that function.

Although no scientist has ever seen consciousness, it nevertheless has a differentiated structure and a function. Part of its structure is a reflection of the structure of our brains, but not all of it. For example, the brain has an obvious horizontal structure in the form of a left and right brain with very different orientations that, in a healthy individual, will harmonize in a higher dimension, or manifold unity.

Likewise, the brain has a clear vertical structure, in the sense that we have what might be called a reptilian brain, over which there is a mammalian brain, and on top of which is the neocortex: our "human brain."

But this three-dimensional physical structure does not come close to exhausting the structure of consciousness, which is hyper-dimensional, meaning that it exists in a space of more than three (or four) dimensions.

This is a thorny problem, because our normal thinking -- especially scientific thinking, which you might say is "common sense" taken to the extreme -- takes place in three dimensions. We cannot think scientifically or rationally in higher dimensional space. Take, for example, causation. In the three dimensional world, causation is relatively easy to conceptualize: A causes B, B causes, C, C causes D, etc. D cannot cause A, nor can A and D occupy the same space at the same time.

So how does one "think" in higher dimensional space? As a matter of fact, we do it all the time. For example, dreaming is a form of hyper-dimensional thinking freed from the limitations of the outer, three-dimensional world. This is also how we might understand the Wise Crack that "poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world." The genuine poet uses language to express realities that transcend the lower-dimensional world.

Think of it this way: the mystery of the dream is that it is the brain’s attempt to represent in three dimensions a space that actually far exceeds three dimensions -- like trying to represent a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional plane. Imagine, for example, people living on a two dimensional plane -- a sheet of typing paper. They know nothing at all about the three dimensional world.

Now imagine if you could pass your three-dimensional hand through the sheet of paper. What would it look like to the people in 2D? First they would see five separate points grow into circles, as the fingers touch the paper and move through it. But then the five circles would disappear and become one larger circle -- the wrist. Let's say that these people in 2D are very careful scientific observers of empirical phenomena. No matter how much they study the data, they would have no idea that the disparate phenomena are all actually aspects of a higher dimensional object they cannot see.

This is how dream consciousness operates. A dream might be thought of as analogous to that hand passing through the sheet of paper. In dreams, various elements are connected in a hyper-dense manner that violates all notions of linear logic. Time is abolished, in the sense that you can be in two different times in your life, or your adult self can be side by side or "within" your child self (or vice versa). But if you don’t know how to read the dream, you will see merely a linear, if somewhat crazy, narrative. You won’t know how to unpack all of the different dimensions. As a matter of fact, human history is just such a "crazy dream," with a dense network of subterranean connections that will go undetected by the secularized mind.

Just yesterday, I was interpreting one of these crazy secular dreams. For example, Barack Obama is a member of an insane church whose pastor claims that 9-11 was a case of America's "chickens coming home to roost." Hmm, where have we heard that dream before? Ah yes, when Malcolm X said it about the assassination of JFK -- even though JFK was murdered by a man of the left. But now, the relatives of JFK endorse the most far left presidential candidate we have ever had, one whose spiritual mentor no doubt believes that JFK had it coming to him as well (hence his use of the same phrase to describe the 9-11 murders). Yes, it's insane, but that's dream logic for you. Suffice it to say that JFK would not have believed that either his murder or the slaugther of 3000 Americans on 9-11 was his or our fault. He was a waking liberal, not a leftist with sleep crapnea.

As I have labored to point out in the past, religious metaphysics, properly understood, represents objective knowledge of reality. But clearly, in order to understand reality objectively, we cannot limit ourselves to its illusory three or four dimensions. Rather, we must somehow learn to think in a hyper-dimensional manner analogous to the dream.

Authentic scripture must be understood in this manner. There is no language known to man that is more hyper-dimensional and dreamlike than scripture (some parts of scripture much more so than others -- like dreams, scripture waxes and wanes in its dimensional carrying capacity, and it requires a degree of spiritual discernment to appreciate this).

And we might also understand, say, Jesus, in the same way. If we limit ourselves to a naive scientific or "rational" view in trying to understand Jesus, we will simply generate fundamentalist banality or logical absurdity. But if we assume that Jesus is analogous to that multidimensional hand passing through four-dimensional history, now we’re getting somewhere. For where is the “body of Christ?”

I think I saw it pass this way just a moment ago.

The madness that comes of God is superior to the sanity which is of human origin. --Plato

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Where There is No Verticality, the People Perish

First published in May 2006.; as always, I've edited it and added a few things. I tried to select a post from that month that touches on our recent discussions, but it was somewhat difficult to choose just one. Therefore, I may post another tomorrow.

****

Below the title of this blog you will see the oxymoronic term, “Evolutionary Traditionalism” [not anymore, as I keep changing them, but "Darwhiggian Evolution" amounts to the same thing]. Some of the people I most revere are traditionalists who see modernity -- let alone postmodernity -- as an unmitigated catastrophe for mankind. Although I consider the spiritual insights of these individuals to be truly priceless, I just can’t go with them that far [at least on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays]. In fact, one of the major aims of my book was to try to vindicate modernity by integrating science and traditional wisdom, and situating religion within a cosmos that has been evolving for 13.7 billion years, ever since the Creator banged it into being in his spare timelessness.

I am optimistic by nature, but sometimes it’s difficult to see how human beings are going to get out of the mess they’re in. I suppose one of the frustrating things about the day and age in which we live is that almost all of the answers, for the first time in history, are present and available, but it doesn’t seem to matter.

For example, we finally understand how wealth is created. Furthermore, we’ve pretty much tamed the boom-or-bust business cycle, so we don’t have the sorts of major economic upheavals we did even 75 years ago. We know how to conquer or control most diseases. There’s more than enough food. We understand the vital importance of early attachment, and how bad parenting leads to adult psychopathology. Higher education is available to everyone, to such an extent that the majority of people in college don’t even belong there. We live longer than ever, and air and water have never been cleaner. All of the greatest art, literature, music, and thought that has ever been produced by mankind is literally at our fingertips.

And yet, none of this is enough for most people. How can something like 70% of the population think we’re "on the wrong track," when they’ve never had it so good? Why, just because gasoline, adjusted for inflation, is almost as expensive as it was in 1981 [or whatever it is]?

True, part of the reason is that most people are completely ahistorical, and seem to have no idea how hard it was for previous generations just to put food on the table. But apparently, this is the default position of mankind. Whatever we have, we feel we are entitled to it, and then we just want more. Not only that, but this default attitude of entitlement can be infinitely aggravated and made worse by envy.

The envious imagination is truly infinite in its demonic capacity to devalue what it has and to then feel entitled to what someone else has (in fact, the latter is a function of the former, a critical point). It is the whole key to the leftist mindset, in that they have completely forgotten (if indeed they ever knew) how wealth is produced, and feel that the only remaining task is to "redistribute" it in an equitable fashion. But if we had assented to leftist envy at any point in the last 300 years, the average person wouldn't enjoy the kind of prosperity and affluence he does today. Likewise, if we give in to the demands of leftists today, we will just make our children and grandchildren that much poorer, for we will put the brakes on the very engine of material progress.

On the one hand it is a conceit to suggest that history has labored for lo these thousands of years to produce our privileged generation. And yet, from a certain point of view, if you think teleologically, it is surely true. For just as your present life is the result of thousands and thousands of little choices you made in the past, the present state of humanity is the result of countless past choices that were all aiming at our present state of affairs. In other words, we are the goal (I am tempted to say "the ones we've been waiting for"). This miraculous way of life that we enjoy in the United States was simply an unattainable dream for past generations. But for us, the dream has come true. The lifestyle of the average American so surpasses the dreams of Marx, that he must be spinning in his fire pit.

And yet, few people seem to appreciate that. Indeed, many people seem to think that we’re in some kind of nightmare, even more so than when we actually were in one (which we have been for virtually all of history, at least by our cushy contemporary standards). I'm not sure I could even live without some of the conveniences of the last 20 years -- for example, blogging and microbreweries -- let alone 200).

You would probably be hard-pressed to find rhetoric from the height of the Great Depression any more bitter and angry than what you can find every day on the dailykos and its constantlyhuffing. In considering the minds of such individuals, one suspects that politics is simply a means for them to externalize a hellish and unhappy internal world. The external world changes and evolves, but mankind’s internal world is comparatively fixed. For such lost souls, politics is simply a symbolic system for them to articulate their existential misery.

This is why it is so difficult for happy people to compete politically. They just don’t have the bitter energy, nor do they live in the illusion that human fulfillment is a product of transient circumstances. I intuitively figured out by my early 20s that my happiness was my responsibility, and that focussing on external circumstances really had little to do with it. For a number of reasons, I was able to realize that my internal happiness had a life -- and death -- of its own, irrespective of external circumstances (excluding, of course, real tragedies and losses, such as the breakup with a girlfriend, the loss of a loved one, or Jack Clark hitting that homerun against the Dodgers in the 1985 NLCS).

As a matter of fact, this intuitive attitude of mine coincides with the ultimate basis of spirituality, which is to see beyond the contingent and illusory nature of changing phenomena, to the permanent and unchanging -- to shed what is accidental, contingent, and existential in favor of what is real, substantial and essential. Supposedly, our unchanging center is sat-chit-ananda, or being-consciousness-bliss. Therefore, it was folly to get all excited about this or that tempest of the day, and imagine that anything would change with regard to my own internal world, which, after all, is the real world. It cannot be overemphasized that the external world is largely a projective field in which we merely adapt to our own self-generated emotional climate patterns. Many people have to actually die before they can realize that they had it all, but were simply incapable of treasuring and enjoying it.

When I emphasize the priority of the internal over the external, it should be clear that I do not mean it in the narcissistic manner of the left, i.e., "perception is reality." It is not so much that perception is reality. However, reality is perception, if understood in a vertical sense. For a person below a certain spiritual level, higher realities simply cannot be seen, certainly not with any certitude. More importantly, they cannot be lived. Proofs of God are meaningless to those who are not endowed with understanding, and understanding has height, weight, and depth that varies from person to person. This is where the traditionalists have it exactly right, for a civilization that loses contact with the vertical dimension will be completely rudderless and adrift.

This in turn is my objection to the left, for the left -- which does not see, much less acknowledge, the vertical -- replaces vertical aspirations with purely horizontal ones. This is why you will see that the left habitually exhibits religious fervor but without religion, which is, in the long run, as dangerous and destructive as the Islamists who exhibit psychotic anger, envy and sexual perversion -- the lower vertical -- in the guise of the higher vertical. Both attitudes are toxic to the soul.

I had intended this post to segue into a discussion of the four cardinal virtues. In considering what I wanted to say, it immediately struck me that these virtues are a very simple and straightforward way of talking about vertical reality, which in turn made me realize what has gone wrong with our educational establishment.

It is bad enough that leftist courts have so willfully misunderstood the intentions of the founders with regard to the so-called “separation of church and state,” which has in reality become the pretext for an aggressive assault on the vertical. This willful blindness is just part of a much more widespread attack on the vertical itself, to such an extent that it is unlikely that a child will ever receive any “vertical education” at all, from kindergarten right through graduate school. As such, he will likely become an educated barbarian.

For example, instead of learning about the four cardinal virtues to which we must perpetually aspire if we wish to become (more) human, they will be inculcated with substitute horizontal concepts such as “self esteem” and “tolerance.” These toxic ideas then become the axis around which a corrupted horizontal religiosity forms. Not only will this fail to yield human happiness, but it will even more firmly ensnore the sleeping soul in the bosom of maya, thus accomplishing the very opposite of what a liberal (which is obviously related to the word “liberate”) education is supposed to achieve.

This in itself is remarkable, considered in light of the wisdom of the ancients. The Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper, in his book Leisure: The Basis of Culture, points out that the word for leisure in Greek is skole, and in Latin, scola, both meaning "school." Therefore, leisure, properly understood, is a school, an unhurried realm where some sort of learning takes place. The very possibility of culture rests on a foundation of leisure -- a sphere of activity that is entirely detached from our immediate wants and needs, free from practical or political considerations -- free from the tyranny of the horizontal.

It is only here, in this leisurely space, that we can learn what it is to be a human, and actually become one. For our humanness is not given to us at birth, only our potential for such. This is something that was widely understood until our modern deviation, and this is an example of where I stand firmly on the side of the anti-modern traditionalists. For in truth, traditionalists have always been evolutionary traditionalists, except that they are preoccupied with vertical evolution and spiritually inward mobility, not mere horizontal “progress” and economically upward mobility,

The question is, can we enjoy the sort of incredible horizontal progress that past generations only dreamed of, while at the same time understand that this progress is of no significance unless the leisure and abundance that accompany it make it easier for us to progress in the vertical -- to fulfill our human potential?

For that is the tragedy of the past -- so much timeless wisdom, but no temporal slack for the ordinary individual to be able to appreciate it. Even if one were lucky enough to be literate, one’s relatively brief life was generally spent performing mindless, backbreaking work, punctuated by disease, pain, famine, and loss.

Modern man suffers -- but doesn’t know he suffers -- from the opposite tragedy: an impossibly rich and affluent horizontal world that has largely lost access to the vertical. Thus, he spiritually starves amidst plenty, and forms a complaint department known as “the left” to articulate his chronic existential dissaffection. At the same time, he is blind to the motivations of the Muslim barbarians whom he believes he can “buy off” with horizontal inducements. The Islamists may be crazy, but they’re not stupid. Somewhere inside, they probably even feel sorry for such people, in that they can sense the root cause of their unhappiness.

Friday, May 16, 2008

On the Probability of God's Certainty (5.10.09)

As I mentioned in the book, the existence of God is not on a continuum of probability. It is not as if one becomes a believer because 51% of the evidence points in the direction of a largely nightened deity, as if God is a plurality instead of a unity. Rather, I would say that God is either impossible or necessary.

Furthermore, if he is not impossible, then he is necessary. Being that a higher cosmic power is obviously not impossible, this is another way of saying that everything proves its existence, most especially atheists, who are like branches that grow more leaves in order to prove that trees don't exist. Frankly, that argument is so green, that they're either very naive or very envious.

And repetey after him: it's a tree of life for those whose wood beleaf. So long as you are aliving, alaughing, and aloving, then you beleafing. You cannot leaf God allone, bark as you might. You may well be dysluxic, but even the least of you is not made in the image of doG, for the woof and warp of existence are woven with threads of the vertical and horizontal. I don't mean to needle you, but this is why you're born to learn and grow in truth and wisdom, even if the best you can come up with is a crazy quilt or quasi-cult of atheistic nonsense.

The Tree of Life has it's nonlocal roots above, its local branches and district orifices down below. Which is why it All Makes Sense, including, of course, science. For if you try to grow the Tree of Life in the infertile soil below, it won't survive the transplant, and can produce nothing, not even death (which requires life). Nothing makes sense in such an inverted cosmos, including atheism, which supernaturally presupposes an intelligence perversely capable of denying its own sufficient reason. There can be no meaning, no purpose, no truth, no values, no nothing, not even nothing (in other words, no animal is dense enough to be an existentialist).

You know what they say: the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Thus, their every blasphemy praises God. Only animals are atheists. But even then, not really. That's an insult to animals, being that no animal has the unnatural stupidity to deny its own intelligence, instinct being equivalent to animal intellect, just as man's uncreated intellect is his central instinct.

Which is why the vast majority of people are instinctive theists. It just means their intellect is more or less intact. A human who denies the divine is like a flower who turns from the sun. When that happens, your intellect can no longer engage in photosynthesis, which is simply converting Light into thought. I mean, you can still do it, but don't be surprised that your beleafs are so yellow and withered. Plus, you can't digest them, unless you enjoy word salad -- which this green solid of a post is not to be confused with. Unlike other salad bars, this one actually gets you high.

Let's trancelight some of this into plain english. Let's say God is probable instead of certain (and science deals only in probabilities, not certainties). As Berlinski says, the "the theory of probability is in the business of assigning numbers to events." But "just which random process is designed to yield the Deity as a possible outcome?" It's an important question, because, given sufficient time, "events that are improbable over the short term become probable and even certain over the long term" -- which is another way of saying that everything eventually happens, including God. So "an improbable God, denied access to Being over the short term, may find himself clambering into existence over a term that is long." Yes, it's a silly argument, but that's scientism for you.

Berlinski quotes Sherlock Holmes, who admonished Watson, "How many times have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" And here's the problem: you are strictly impossible in the absence of a creator. To cite one obvious example, the laws governing the cosmos are either necessary or contingent -- they either must be, or they are a random accident. But if the latter, we could not know that they are true, since truth is by definition necessary. How does absolute truth ever sneak its way into an absolutely relative cosmos? It's absurd.

The human mind is an infinite space, which is the only way we can know of the infinite cosmos, being that the cosmos is consciousness exteriorized, while the mind is the cosmos interiorized. Again, animals do not live in the cosmos, only in their nervous systems. Alone among the animals, human beings have broken free of their neurology, and inhabit a vast cosmos in which consciousness is the center and axis. Cosmology is ultimately the study of man -- and vice versa.

Here again, the gap between animal and man is infinite, just as is the gap between matter and life. To say that the genomes of humans and chimps are 99% similar (or whatever it is) only points to the poverty of biology to account for the infinite divide between human beings and their furry and/or tenured cousins.

This, by the way, is why Wallace -- the co-discoverer of modern theory of evolution by common descent -- concluded that it was hopelessly inadequate to account for so many defining characteristics of the human race. Ironically, as Berlinksi notes, Darwin had misgivings about the theory because, in "considering its consequences, he feared [it] might be true." But with Wallace, it was the other way around: "Considering, its consequences, he suspected his theory might be false."

And what are those consequences? They are too numerous to mention, but they ultimately result -- as is only logical and necessary -- in the elimination of Man as Such, if not in the short term, then most certainly in the long term. Don't you see it happening before your eyes, idiot?!

People who pretend to not understand the link between Darwinism or atheism and nazism or communism are just willfully obtuse, for the great mystery of the cosmos is not why evil exists.

Rather, as always, it is why goodness and decency exist. Not why there are sinners, but why there are saints. Not why there is despair, but why there is hope and joy. Not why there are liars who take advantage, but why there is Truth to which a good person naturally wishes to conform his being. Not why Madonna exists, but why Van Morrison does. Not why Bill Maher exists, but why Groucho did. And most assuredly, not why Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins sopher their books to exist, but why Frithjof Schuon or Meister Eckhart blessed us in their lifetomes.

As I argued in One Cosmos, Wallace came to the conclusion that "characteristic human abilities must be latent in primitive man, existing somehow as an unopened gift, the entryway to a world that primitive man does not possess and would not recognize." Such a view makes no sense in Darwinian terms, for it would suggest "the forbidden doctrine that evolutionary advantages were frontloaded far away and long ago; it is in conflict with the Darwinian principle that useless genes are subject to negative selection pressure and must therefore find themselves draining away in the sands of time" (Berlinski).

Again: in the upside-down world of bovine materialism, the gaps in being are infinite and unbridgeable. But in the right side-up world of the perennial religion, the ontological continuity is infinite, extending as it does from the top down, from the One to the many, from the center to the periphery, and from the Abbasolute father to his middling relativities. In such a universe, evil and falsehood are not permitted, but they are nevertheless necessary, or existence could not exist. Which is why all atheist cretins are liars. And why in coontrast I am a Free Man. Truth has a way of doing that.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cathedrals of Science and Religion (5.16.09)

Science and religion both build magnificent cathedrals, but whereas the religious cathedral is analog and "continuous," the scientific one is digital and therefore unavoidably discontinuous and atomistic. It can only approximate or model reality, whereas religion "mirrors" it.

Or, you could say that man is a mirror facing in two directions, above and below. When he turns to the above, he is like the moon reflecting the light of the sun. But when he turns to the below, he reflects the darkness and obscurity of matter, which can only be illuminated by his own intellect "shining" upon it. Otherwise, the world is as flat as a manflake, devoid of depth, dimension, and meaning.

Ideally, pontifical man is the axis mundi who -- like the vertical ray of creation itself -- transverses across all levels of reality, from mystical union above to quantum physics below. As a result of the law of inverse analogy, the paradoxical continuity of the quantum world is a mirror of the highest state of consciousness, in which the many are reconciled into the One. In other words, mystical union is not possible because of the "quantum universe"; rather, vice versa: the discrete matter of middle earth dissolves into the ocean of quantum oneness because it is a distant echo of the One.

You could even say that science (or scientism) is the "worldview" of the linear left cerebral hemisphere, whereas religion embodies the worldview of the right. This is why the naive scientistic fundamentalist always sneaks a foolish version of religion in through the back door. Obviously, the right brain is every bit as "epistemophilic" as the left brain, but the answers that satisfy the left brain have no necessary relevance to the right. Hence, try as he might, the bonehead atheist is fighting a quixotic battle against the very forms of thought that give access to Higher Things, e.g., transtemporal vision, spiritual intuition, transcendent art, mythic imagination, archetypal resonance, and so many others.

All of these modes unavoidably "return" to the atheist, except in a laughably crude manner. For example, the bonehead atheists are known for their lack of literary skill (Hitchens excepted), but one assumes that they aren't trying to write such ugly prose -- that they are at least aiming, however awkwardly, at some sort of transcendent aesthetic ideal in their rhetoric. Perhaps not. Perhaps the medium is the message which mirrors the ugliness, pettiness, and narrowness of their souls.

Man -- a proper man, anyway -- hungers for the transcendent. And even -- or especially -- an improper man will seek after the transcendent in the immanent. Because man must "transcendentalize" something, he will do so to matter, and thereby become either a hedonist, a virtual animal, or a sort of anti-religious religious fanatic. Of the three, the animal might actually be highest (or least low), since at least he -- like any animal -- doesn't try to wring more pleasure and/or wisdom out of matter than there is in it. Rather, he simply accepts it for what it is, and takes his bovine pleasures as they come.

But one of the marks of the postmodern perversion is to essentially locate the good and the true in matter and the center at the periphery; thus, the "inverse" wisdom of deconstructionism, which is none other than the mind turning on God and therefore itself, and systematically taking a wrecking ball to the beautiful spiritual cathedral man has built brick-by-brick over the centuries.

In the process, man loses his both his center and his spiritual resonance with the beautiful archetypal forms anterior to him. He becomes a kind of orphan of being, i.e., Existential Man, who, in the words of Schuon, embodies "the codification of an acquired infirmity." This is the final "intellectual atrophy of man marked by the 'fall,'" entailing a hypertrophy of practical (i.e., left brain) intelligence but the loss of any capacity to envision it in its higher kosmic context.

"Skeptical rationalism and titanesque naturalism are the two great abuses of intelligence, which violate pure intellectuality as well as the sense of the sacred; it is through this propensity that thinkers 'are wise in their own eyes' and end by 'calling evil good, and good evil' and by 'putting darkness for light, and light for darkness' (Isaiah, 5:20 and 21); they are also the ones who, on the plane of life or experience, 'make bitter what is sweet,' namely the love of the eternal God, and 'sweet what is bitter,' namely the illusion of the evanescent world" (Schuon).

Is it any wonder that conservatives are so much happier than liberals, when the misosophic leftism that has infected kookbook of liberalism is quite literally the very recipe for unhappiness? Of course Michelle Obama is the bitterest millionaire; except that she has plenty of company, i.e., Michael Moore, Sean Penn, George Soros, Jimmy Carter, Keith Olbermann, Alec Baldwin, Bruce Springsteen... the list is endless. For it is a list of losers who are spiritually vacant and unconsciously in search for the reason in politics. Hence their energy and fanaticism that can never be matched by the hordes of the Happy, for the same reason it is literally impossible for a normal person to understand what motivates the jihadi, who is none other than Envy with a bomb attached (whereas the leftist is Envy with a state attached).

At least the outright hedonist is not as pretentious as these metaphysical yahoos. Still, he searches after ecstasy -- which in its literal sense ("stand outside") means to exit the closed circle of the ego -- except that he tries to spring his cage from below instead of above. This is certainly possible; the trouble is, there's no floor there, so one tends to keep falling, which, for awhile, gives a kind of thrill from the bracing "movement." This lasts until one begins to notice the gradual absence of both heat and light (i.e., heart and intellect), as one drifts further and further from the central sun which makes the earth humanly habitable.

This postmodern downward movement began in the 1920s, but was then placed on hold due to the great depression and World War II. Afterwards it started up again in earnest in the "Beat movement" of the 1950s, and then reached a critical mass in the 1960s, trickling down into a baby boomer generation that had such a weakened spiritual immune system that the virus took over the host. We still haven't recovered from this epidemonic, and perhaps we never will. As someone --Dawson? -- said, you can undo in a matter of weeks what it took millennia to build.

Again, that would be our precious Western cathedral, which can only be "animated" by people who can see and appreciate it, just like any work of art -- or even like the quantum world sightlessly envisioned by physicists. Dogs don't get jokes, they don't understand baseball, and they certainly don't get religion. In an analogy I have used before, even something as luminous as scripture is nevertheless like a reflector light on the back of a car. It gives off no light of its own, otherwise it would be visible to dogs and atheists. Rather, it must be "lit up" by something external to it, which would be the uncreated intellect. Shine the intellect on scripture and it suddenly glows in the dark, as light reaches out to light, in the process compressing time and history into an eternal point.

But a dog will just bark and chase after the car. Plus, he wouldn't have the foggiest idea what to do with it if he caught it. Maybe piss on it, I suppose.

[In most modern men] the intellect is atrophied to the point of being reduced to a mere virtuality, although doubtless there is no watertight partition between it and the reason, for a sound process of reasoning indirectly transmits something of the intellect; be that as it may, the respective operations of the reason -- or the mind -- and of the intellect are fundamentally different... despite certain appearances due to the fact that every man is a thinking being, whether he be wise or ignorant.

There is at the same time analogy and opposition: the mind is analogous to the intellect insofar as it is a kind of intelligence, but is opposed to it by its limited, indirect and discursive character; as for the apparent limitations of the intellect, they are merely accidental and extrinsic, while the limits of the mental faculty are inherent in it. Even if the intellect cannot exteriorize the “total truth” -- or rather reality -- because that is in itself impossible, it can perfectly well establish points of reference which are adequate and sufficient, rather as it is possible to represent space by a circle, a cross, a square, a spiral or a point and so on.... There is no difficulty in the fact that pure intelligence -- the intellect -- immensely surpasses thought.... There are objects which exceed the possibilities of reason; there are none that exceed those of intelligence as such.
--F. Schuon

Speaking of dogs & art:

"We were stopped at a traffic light when a car pulled up beside us and an Airedale in the backseat began barking furiously through a half-opened window. When I turned to look at the dog, he suddenly stopped barking, yawned broadly, and lay down. 'He doesn’t know whether to bark or yawn,' my friend observed. Which more or less sums up my reaction to that biggest-ever travelling road show of works by Robert Rauschenberg" (Roger Kimball, Robert Rauschenberg: Dadaist for the Masses.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Atheist Delusion, or How Materialism Spoils Everything (5.09.09)

Atheists like to say that it is not incumbent upon them to prove that God doesn't exist. Rather, the burden is on believers to prove that he does. But since the vast majority of human beings are and have always been weak-minded and gullible believers, I would turn the question around and ask, how is it that the atheist is so much stronger and intelligent than the rest of us, able to fearlessly overcome his own genetic programming and look reality straight in the eye, with no comforting delusions?

Of course, if our religiosity is genetically hardwired into us -- having been selected by evolution to help us be unadapted to reality -- the atheist's ability to transcend it doesn't exactly speak well of the undiscipline of evolutionary psychology.

Oh well. Better to faithfully hew to an absurdity than to cede an inch to religion. As Berlinksi points out, the philosophy of scientism always ends up turning on itself and consuming its own. The head dies first, followed by the heart. As a result of this devolution -- in which the higher dies to the lower -- we're left with Homo crapien, the deconstructionst ape (also known as Tenured Man). Soon enough comes Homo rappien, who drains language of it's transcendent referent and confuses poetry with vulgarity.

This all goes to the fact that the bonehead atheist or doctrinaire Darwinian denies the sufficient reason for man's intelligence. In short, the Darwinian must either plead that there is no explanation for a miraculous intelligence that infinitely surpasses the needs of survival (i.e., eating, mating, and publishing academic drivel); or that we don't actually know anything, and that our intelligence is really a form of arrogant and self-deluded stupidity. But if either of these scenarios are true, it is again difficult to comprehend how nature has somehow produced these atheistic Supermen, or big know-nothing-at-alls.

It reminds me of a skit I once heard on the radio, involving a man who was so irritated by being placed on hold by a receptionist, that he struggled and broke through its "barrier," back on the line. The receptionist kept placing him on hold, but with sheer force of will, he kept breaking through anyway. Natural selection has placed all of us on hold for eternity, and Reality isn't taking any calls. And yet, the Darwinian fights his way through his genes and manages to speak to the boss.

Let us remind ourselves just what is the scope of human intelligence: it is none other than the Infinite, the Absolute, the Eternal. It cannot be surpassed, for it is potentially total, which is to say, "adequate," or proportioned to, the Divine Mind. Being that I believe human beings are in the image of the Creator, this is not a surprise to me. But for the Darwinian, it is a miracle, pure and simple. Again, unless we can't actually know truth. But if that were true, then we also couldn't know the truth of Darwinism, so the argument is self-defeating. Scientism devours yet another immature mind.

If the sorry Homo saps who sopher from materialitis and reductionosis were correct, our total intelligence would have no cause and no explanation. Oddly, we would have this vast intelligence corresponding to... nothing instead of everything (and make no mistake, it's either one or the other, being that the gap between Truth and Falsehood is infinite).

Obviously, no other animal has an intelligence that infinitely exceeds the necessities of survival. Rather, whatever intelligence they possess is easily reduced to its sufficient cause located somewhere in the environment, i.e., survival needs. But what is the sufficient cause of poetry, art, humor, music? Of mathematical truth, aesthetic truth, metaphysical truth? As I said in my book, these are "luxury capacities" that are as different from animal intelligence as life is from matter.

To quote Arthur Koestler,

"[T]he evolution of the human brain not only overshot the needs of prehistoric man, it is also the only example of evolution producing a species with an organ which it does not know how to use; a luxury organ, which will take its owner thousands of years to learn how to put to proper use -- if he ever does."

And luxury is an apt word, for it is a kind of extravagant light placed in the middle of nowhere. As the zoologist and science writer Matt Ridley put it, there is simply no conventional scientific way to "understand how a costly investment in big brains today may be justified by cultural riches tomorrow."

In fact, there is a certain structural similarity between science and religion, to the extent that both are systematic forms of understanding a world or "plane" of phenomena. In both cases, there is a transitional, generative space that exists between something capable of "revealing" itself and our contemplation of it. In this regard, one can see that Torah study, for example, has the identical deep structure of science, only on a higher plane that ultimately shades off into pure metaphysics, or those necessary truths which cannot not be.

Science has what you might call a "written revelation" and an "oral revelation." The written revelation is simply the Cosmos, the World, physical reality, or whatever you want to call it. It is the Object which was here before we arrived, and to which we are Subject. Science -- the evolving "oral tradition" -- takes place in the space between the exterior Object and our own interior Subject, whose intelligence mysteriously conforms to the Object on so many levels that it's positively uncanny -- as if the one were a deep reflection of the other.

Which of course it is. I have no problem with that, which is why I have no problem with scientific or any other kind of truth. The question is, why does the atheist have such a problematic relationship to truth? Must be a genetic defect, I suppose.

When unintelligence joins with passion to prostitute logic, it is impossible to escape a mental satanism which destroys the very basis of intelligence and truth.... When a man has no "visionary" -- as opposed to discursive -- knowledge of Being, and when he thinks only with his brain instead of "seeing" with the heart, all his logic will be useless to him, since he starts from an initial blindness.... Closing itself, above, to the light of the intellect, it opens itself, below, to the darkness of the subconscious. --F. Schuon

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Darwinians and Other Intellectual Darwin Award Winners

The decisive error of materialism and of agnosticism is to be blind to the fact that material things and the common experiences of our life are are immensely beneath the scope of our intelligence. --Frithjof Schuon

Berlinski is an iconoclast, a contrarian, and a freethinker. In reading The Devil's Delusion, I got the impression that if religion were the dominant religion instead of materialism, he might critique it in the same way he does scientism, atheism, Darwinism, and any other crude form of reductionist faith. He seems to be most opposed to people drawing vast ontological conclusions from very limited data, and thus foreclosing the mystery of existence. Humans are habitually taking what little they do know, and then imagining that that's all there is to know; or that our mental abstractions exhaust the Real, which tosses up scientific theories like an ocean washes grains of sand from the celestial surf to the cognitive turf. He might very well agree with Bion's adage that the answer is the disease that kills curiosity.

Much of what scientists insist they know is for the purpose of eliminating anxiety about the unknown, fundamentally no different than the most primitive aborigine from the temporal back of beyond. Contrary to what William Henry said, putting a man on the moon can be no better than putting a bone in your nose, if both are used merely to allay anxiety and control evil spirits (i.e., some version of "if we put a man on the moon, we can do anything").

Materialists are totally constrained by an imaginary paradigm of their own making, and then wonder why others don't share their crimped view of the world. In their arrogance, they imagine that religious people are incapable of understanding their vision, when it is quite the opposite. Again, the atheist converts what is clearly an pneumapathological infirmity into a virtue. But myopia is not just another way of seeing.

As we have mentioned before, with every discovery of science, it adds to our knowledge in a linear way but adds to our ignorance in an exponential way. Remember the image of the expanding sphere. As it grows with knowledge, it is as if the outer surface of the sphere -- where it shades off into the unknown -- expands with it. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that with every scientific discovery, our ignorance outpaces our knowledge (that is, if we reduce knowledge to mere rationalism or empiricism). Therefore, it is laughable to suggest that science is doggedly filling the gaps and interstices where God once dwelled. To the contrary, as Berlinski points out, those gaps have only grown more expansive with the rise of science (more on which below and in subsequent posts). We are actually farther away than ever from filling those gaps; after all, in the pre-scientific world view, there were no gaps at all, just a smooth hierarchy of being (which is by definition continuous) extending from God, to angels, to man, and to beasts. (As we shall see, this is much closer to the truth than is the modern view.)

But in rejecting the hierarchy of being, science cannot account for the simplest continuity. To cite one particularly glaring example, our paradigmatic science, physics, has arrived at two "foundational" worldviews, relativity (which applies to the macro world) and quantum physics (which applies to the micro). The problem is, these two realms are radically incompatible, and no one has any idea how to reconcile them. Now obviously, the Cosmos is "one," hence the nickname uni-verse. But physics is powerless to explain how this can be so, being that it has run into a blind alley of twoness. It actully has no scientific reason to assume a Oneness that it faithfully believes to be there. The assumption of rational Oneness is merely a religious holdover from the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Will this scientific twoness ever be bridged? Well, you can imagine that it will be, and that is again where scientistic faith comes in. This is what string theory is all about -- the attempt to harmonize the macro and micro realms with ever-more complex mathematical formulations, similar to the way complex planetary epicycles were added to save the appearances of the ancient Ptolemaic system.

Many of these mathematical monstrosities are downright ugly, which should be a clue to their absence of ultimate truth. Not to mention the fact that it has become a sort of academic parlor game, in that there are apparently many different versions -- somewhat like taking bids from hundreds of contractors on how best to build the Bridge to Nowhere. Let's not even mention the fact that they all forget about Gödel -- as if it will ever be possible to arrive at a mathematical account of reality that doesn't have built in assumptions for which it cannot account. We already know ahead of time that that will not happen because it cannot happen. Not only that, but the moment the scientist understands his theory, he has generated an ontological twoness -- a scission -- for which the theory cannot account.

James Joyce is considered an "ultra-modernist," and yet, yesterday I stumbled across a statement he once made, that "I don't believe in any science, but my imagination grows when I read [Giambatista] Vico but it doesn't when I read Freud and Jung." I don't believe in any science. What a quaint thing to say. But surely, what he meant is that science hardly exhausts the content of the soul; draining the soul of its transcendent meaning is hardly synonymous with understanding it.

In fact, not only is science largely irrelevant to the soul, but if misused and misunderstood, it can -- often very subtly -- foreclose the space where your soul would otherwise be. Or, put it this way: science is independent from other, irreducibly non-scientific modalities such as vision, intuition, and even intelligence. Being that we are (partly) products of our time, most of us have no idea of the pressure to conform to a certain way of looking at and experiencing the world, just as a peasant in medieval Europe probably had no idea of the pressure to interpret all experience through the lens of Christian dogma. It just seems "self-evident," which accounts for the bovine confidence of the atheistic crowd. You can't fake that kind of boastful ignorance. They genuinely don't know; furthermore, they don't know that they don't know, which is not just twice-over ignorance, but stupidity squared. It becomes a kind of qualitative stupidity that I am sure most of my readers can recognize. It is impenetrable, which is why it is so senseless to argue with them.

It reminds me of something Roger Kimball wrote in a different context:

"In a word, the establishment of the Beat 'church' was significant as a chapter in the moral and cultural degradation of our society. Regarded as a literary phenomenon, however, what the Beats produced exists chiefly as a kind of artistic antimatter. It would not be quite right to say that its value is nil, for that might imply an innocuous neutrality. What the Beats have bequeathed us is actively bad, a corrupting as well as a corrupt phenomenon. To borrow an image from the Australian philosopher David Stove, the Beats created a 'disaster-area, and not of the merely passive kind, like a bombed building, or an area that has been flooded. It is the active kind, like a badly-leaking nuclear reactor, or an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle.'”

Here again, I sense that this is one of Berlinski's main concerns: the loss of true humanism with the rise of spiritually radioactive materialism. It has reached the point that modern men are no longer even capable of knowing what they have lost in their inability to respond to religious truth. What they have lost is their soul, precisely. However, this hardly means that the soul doesn't continue to go on being, any more than sexual impulses no longer exist if you repress them. Rather, they will simply reappear in a disguised form. This accounts for the religious fervor of the atheistic rabble and the passion with which they proselytize.

Scientists imagine that they know what's going on; but what's really going on -- and what their science cannot explain -- is that the immaterial soul is capable of imagining what's going on. So now the question is no longer whether science is "true" or "false"; rather, the question is, who's soul has the more encompassing vision, the more penetrating imagination, the more fruitful and generative way of thinking about the world? Like Joyce, I am quite sure that it isn't the Darwinists. (And please trolls, for the last time, when I talk about "science" or "scientists" in this coontext, I am specifically referring to naive scientism and to those who [usually unwittingly] embrace it; you idiots need to read a few posts before you think you understand what I'm saying.)

"Coherence" -- including a coherent worldview -- is something that only takes place in a mind. As Berlinski points out, there is this fanciful idea that science offers -- or can offer -- a "coherent vision of the universe," but this is a priori false. Looked at from a distance, yes, the gaps seem to disappear, just as the earth looks like a solid blue orb from a distance. But the closer you look, you see that there are large bodies of water surrounding each and every discipline and sub-discipline, with no smooth transition between them -- for example, between psychology and psychiatry, which, no matter how close they get, can never actually "touch." Likewise, I can assure you that no matter how far "down" physicists look, and no matter how they emend and elaborate their theories, they will never, ever be able to bridge the gap that opens up when I so much as command my hand to make a fist, and all of a sudden, the subatomic particles in my vicinity alter their trajectories and conform to my will. As Whitehead put it nearly a century ago in Science and the Modern World,

"The doctrine which I am maintaining is that the whole concept of materialism only applies to very abstract entities, the products of logical discernment. The concrete enduring entities are organisms, so that the plan of the whole influences the very characters of the various subordinate organisms which enter into it....

"Thus an electron within a living body is different from an electron outside it, by reason of the plan of the body. The electron blindly runs either within or without the body; but it runs within the body in accordance with its character within the body; that is to say, in accordance with the general plan of the body, and this plan includes the mental state.... [T]he molecules may blindly run in accordance with the general laws, but our molecules differ in their intrinsic characters according to the general organic plans of the situations in which they find themselves."

Make no mistake: no scientist has the slightest idea how this can be, for the gap between their abstract model and the concrete reality is literally -- literally -- infinite. You can't get here from there, and you never will. Rather -- and this is the key -- you can get there -- to the abstract world of quantum physics -- from here -- the mind -- and only from here.

And what is this here, this mysterious place where it all happens? I mean, if you think for one moment that Richard Dawkins imagines his mind is constrained by his own selfish genes, you've got another think coming. That kind of reductionism is for Darwinian losers. No one actually believes it. I dare you to try.

Part 2 of 87.

These splendid [scientific] artifacts of the human imagination have made the world more mysterious than it ever was. We know better than we did what we do not know and have not grasped.... We cannot reconcile the human mind with any trivial theory about the manner in which the brain functions. Beyond the trivial, we have no other theories. We can say nothing of interest about the human soul. We do not know what impels us to right conduct or where the form of the good is found.... No scientific theory touches on the mysteries that the religious tradition addresses.... The answers that prominent scientific figures have offered are remarkable in their shallowness. --David Berlinski, The Devil's Delusion

Monday, May 12, 2008

Atheism and the Demystification of Being

Now, where did we leave off? Something about intelligent design, no?

Yesterday I finished David Berlinski's The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions, and it is recommended to anyone who wants to have a good laugh at the expense of bonehead atheists.

As I mentioned in last Thursday's post, Berlinski is an important voice, being that he is a secular scholar who is one of the most articulate critics of reductionistic Darwinism, atheism, and scientism in general. Like me, he rejects these things because they are absurd and illogical, not because he is religious. In a way, the book reminds me of Hicks' Explaining Postmodernism, as it is like a mental disinfectant that pulls out these pathological ideas root and branch.

The book is somewhat relentlessly sarcastic and scornful in tone, which normally doesn't appeal to me. I usually reserve my scorn for outright evil rather than philosophical stupidity. Then again, I do believe that atheism becomes an evil when it is transformed from a solitary affliction to a mass movement, as advanced by such voices from the abyss as Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and the especially dim Sam Harris.

None of the philosophical arguments put forth by these people could appeal to a remotely sophisticated mind, let alone spirit. As such, to the extent that they are widely embraced, it can only reduce mankind to something it was never intended be, and effectively deny our cosmic station and destiny in the hierarchy of being. Truly, it is the end of mankind and of true humanism. This cannot be over-emphasized.

The main problem with Berlinski's book -- similar to Explaining Postmodernism -- is that it has no "positive" philosophy to erect in the place of the feeble scientism it reduces to ruins. Therefore, in its own way, it ends up coming across as somewhat unavoidably nihilistic. I would put it this way: there are lower and higher forms of nihilism, so to speak.

The higher form may essentially be thought of as any form of apophatic theology, which honors the irreducible mystery in which we find ourselves. In light of this Supreme Mystery, the scientistic buzzing of misbeehiving intellectual worker bees is analogous to a spiritual sting that kills the host. Was that clear, honey? Again, if atheism succeeds it fails, for it kills man as such. This will become more evident as we bumble along, if not in today's post, then tomorrow and later in the week.

I'll spare you all of the details and just provide enough background to move the post along, but back when I was in graduate school, one of the dissertation topics I considered was something along the lines of "Psychoanalysis and the Remystification of the Mind." It had to do with a certain "arc" in the style of human thought which reached its zenith in the 19th century, when Freud began his writing.

Freud was a child of the times, and the late 19th century (ironically) represented the pinnacle of the kind of unsophisticated reductionism we see being replayed in the contemporary movement of bonehead atheism. Contemporary atheists are embracing a kind of naive positivism that was discredited and rejected so long ago that it is completely irrelevant for any serious thinker. It's as if the 20th century passed them by, and they're picking up where the 19th left off.

To make a long story short, Freud was convinced he had unlocked the mystery of the mind. Not only that, but he firmly believed that his own theories would eventually be further reduced to neurology. The problem is, as psychoanalysts ventured further into the mind with the techniques developed by Freud, instead of demystifying it, they ended up remystifying it.

Here again, when I use the word "mystery," I mean it in the higher sense of a sophisticated mode of knowing, a "negative capability" that roughly corresponds to what I call in the book O-->(k). To dwell in O-->(k) is to live one's life on the very shoreline where eternity breaks into time, or where the Mystery becomes manifest. To employ the terminology of quantum physics, it is to be the collapse of the wave vector, where the nonlocal wave becomes a local particle as a result of a human observer. We are like the Cosmic Umpire, in that there are no balls or strikes until we say so. Or electrons, for that matter.

Here again, this can be confused with sloppy solipsism when it is anything but. Rather, it alerts us to the *obvious* participatory nature of all human knowing below a certain level. In fact, even the highest levels of knowledge -- and this would be metaphysics and its instantiation in revelation -- are never free of a human knower, and are therefore only "relatively absolute." Only the Absolute itself is absolute, i.e., there is none good but the One.

Anyway, I noticed that, especially in Bion, psychoanalysis had come full circle from a reductionistic and therefore "demystifying" form of (k)-->O (and therefore (-k) or Ø) to a genuine re-mystification of the mind, or what you might call "apophatic psychoanalysis." A good psychoanalyst should be much more humble in approaching the mystery of the unconscious mind, which simply cannot be contained and never will be, since it exists in a higher dimensional space than does the four-dimensional ego, the ego being an adaptation to the conditions of "the world" (in both its physical and cultural aspects). As a matter of fact, I discussed this in the very first paper I published back in 1991. Here, let me look it up....

"Three-dimensional Euclidean space is not a given, but rather, a special limiting case of a far more extensive n-dimensional space," similar to that disclosed by string theory. "It is crucial to note that in the new physics, space is not to be thought of as mere homogeneous 'emptiness'"; rather, it has qualities which condition the matter within it. In fact, there is only this "energic" space, with the relatively minute areas of greater density experienced as matter. Therefore, space is not (only) that which separates objects, but that which more fundamentally unites them.

Likewise, mental space is not some kind of an "ideal void" which contains the objects of thought. Rather, our prior condition is a qualitatively different kind of space, and a developmental process is required in order to allow this space to evolve. We must find a way to "translate" this higher dimensional space into one of lesser dimensions, or else be afflicted by psychopathology in the form of baffling symptoms (which are "deformed" and unrecognizable messages from O) or a failure to evolve. In light of this, I would regard atheism as the quintessence of pathological defense against O, which therefore prevents its fruitful evolution. This is why there is nothing about atheism that appeals to the human spirit, only the ego.

I don't want to rewrite the whole paper here, but I think you can immediately sense how this works in practice. A great poet, artist, musician, or mystic is precisely great because of their highly sophisticated "translating function," which reduces the infinitely protean O to something "graspable" by the mind. As such, the truly great artist creates something "relatively" inexhaustible, which is why folks are still talking about Dante, Shakespeare, and Bach, and conversely, why there is so little to say about atheism or Darwinism once it's been said.

After all, as Berlinski points out, the rudiments of Darwinism -- and as it pertains to philosophy, its rudiments are also its highest wisdom -- can be learned in an afternoon, and all if its implications can be fully drawn out in the space of a day. The rest is just commentary. You know, Shakespeare wrote those sonnets in order to get chicks. God is a projection of our anxiety about death.

That people fall for this stuff and call it "sophisticated" never ceases to amaze. That it "satisfies their soul" tells you all you need to know about the anorexic state of their soul. They must look in the mirror and see a big fat intellect, when we see a scrawny, 80 pound adolescent. It is analogous to someone's literary needs being fulfilled by Harlequin Romances, or one's intellectual needs being satiated by Air America and huffingtonpost. I think you'll agree that there are no mysteries there except false and counterfeit ones, such as the awesomely numinous evil of George Bush, or the deeply religious idea that "wisdom begins with the fear of global warming."

This is all just a rambling prelude. I promise to get into more details as the week unfolds from O into (k).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Even God Has a Mother

That's one of the beautiful things about the Christian message, is it not?

Yes, I'm violating my Sunday no-blogging rule, but the title of this post popped into my head upon arising, and demanded that I explore its inner meaning, so here I am. I'll just go as long as I can until the boy wakes up.

The first thing that occurs to me is that the cosmos is intrinsically trinitarian in nature, and that the categories of Mother, Father, and Child all mutually co-arise and co-create one another. You often hear new age types complain about God being viewed as male, and while they have a point, they nevertheless get it all wrong, and project some ideal of human political equality into the godhead, as if we have to have some nagging and humorless feminist wife to rein in the authoritarian father and put him in his place.

No, God is male for a reason, and perhaps we'll get into that on Father's Day. Nevertheless, God had a mother, and that mother is beyond being to God's being. In this manner of understanding things, the mystery of the "outward" (or outword) God that we may know is surrounded by an even greater inner mysteress that we can only unKnow, and which "gives birth" to the former. This may or may not be kosher, but it is nevertheless implicit in the Christian economy, and in my opinion, why that economy has so much enduring resonance in the psyche. For we don't think it; it thinks us.

Certainly this was a preoccupation of Meister Eckhart, who was quite sensitive to the maternal aspects of the deity, and which help us to conceptualize what goes on beyond the veil of appearances within the divine plane. It is a way to think beyond ourselves, into the heart of being and even beyond. You can certainly look at it in a mythopoetic manner if you are so inclined, but the main point is that it should help you to think generatively and fruitfully about God, instead of merely staring at a blank wall across the Great Divide. For example,

I once had a dream. I dreamt that I, even though a man, was pregnant, pregnant and full with Nothingness like a woman who is with child. And out of this Nothingness God was born.

or

What is my name? What is your name? What is God's name? Our name is: that we must be born. And the Creator's name is: to bear. The soul alone among all creatures is generative like God is. We are all meant to be mothers of God.

Only mothers can give birth, and it has always been understood that the soul is feminine in respect to its relation to the God to which she paradoxically "gives birth." For to be born again from above is none other than to give birth to God down below. What else can it mean that Mary, the archetype of virginal, receptive matter (Mary, maya, mattress, and matter are all etymologically related), is fertilized by the word of God and gives human birth to the Son? That's not just history or mythology. That's a fact, easily verifiable by anyone with sincere aspiration and an open heart. Eckhart:

It is good for a person to receive God into himself or herself, and I call this receptivity the work of a virgin. But is it better when God becomes fruitful within a person.... I call such a person a wife, and in this sense the term wife is the noblest term we can give the soul... Every day such a person bears fruit a hundred times or a thousand times or countless times, giving birth and becoming fruitful out of the most noble foundation of all.

Furthermore,

This birth takes place in darkness, the darkness of the divine womb. And not only is the Son of the heavenly Creator born into this darkness -- but you too are born there as a child of the same heavenly Creator. And the Creator extends this same power to you out of the divine maternity bed located in the Godhead to eternally give birth.

This is what it means for the soul to become "fruitfully pregnant," and you can most certainly know such souls by their fruit. For In this power of birthing, Gods is as fully verdant and as wholly flourishing in full joy as he is in himself.

Schuon describes it in similar terms: "[The] mystery of the Incarnation has two aspects, the Word, on the one hand, and the human receptacle, on the other: Christ and the Virgin-Mother. To be able to realize in itself this mystery, the soul must be like the Virgin; for just as the sun can be reflected in the water only when it is calm, so the soul can receive Christ only in virginal purity, in original simplicity, and not in sin, which is turmoil and disequilibrium."

Elsewhere he writes that "This purity -- the Marian state -- is the essential condition... for the spiritual actualization of the Real Presence of the Word." "The virginal perfections are purity, beauty, goodness, and humility; it is these qualities which the soul in quest of God must realize."

And by "mystery," Schuon does not mean "something incomprehensible"; rather, mystery is a mode of knowing that which transcends the human plane, and which is activated by the "negative capability" of faith, itself a "feminine" mode of cognition, being that it is actively passive and fully receptive.

(You will have gnoticed that all doctrinaire atheists have a crudely masculine form of cognition, which is in turn passive to "the world." Ironically, this means that their minds are "fertilized" not by the Word, but by matter or maya. In other words, they are like pregnant men, which is an abomination in every sense of the word.)

A mystery -- which is always a shadow of the divine mysteress hersoph -- is "something which opens on to the Infinite, or which is envisaged in this respect, so that intelligibility becomes limitless and humanly inexhaustible."

Who could say it isn't so, except for a poor motherless child?

From all eternity God lies on a maternity bed giving birth. The essence of God is birthing. --Meister Eckhart (all Eckhart quotes taken from Meditations With Meister Eckhart)

Well, I wish I had time to say more, but I must take over childcare duties so that the house Mother can attend mass. But every time I look at that boy, I am grateful for the palpable evidence of the Divine Motherlove that flows downhill into God, man, and back up again.

There is nothing which is more necessary and more precious in the experience of human childhood than parental love.... nothing more precious, because the parental love experienced in childhood is moral capital for the whole of life.... It is so precious, this experience, that it renders us capable of elevating ourselves to more sublime things--even divine things. It is thanks to the experience of parental love that our soul is capable of raising itself to the love of God. --Meditations on the Tarot
May you grow up to be righteous / May you grow up to be true / May you always know the truth / And see the light surrounding you --Bob Dylan, Forever Young

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ego Trip, Stumble, and Fall

All the other vices flee from God, and only pride sets itself up against Him. --Boethius

If there are sins and deadly sins, then there must be something about the latter that is more than a mere act or behavior. Being that they are spiritually fatal, we can continue to "act," even if we are the last to realize we're dead.

The deeper meaning of sin is separation from the Divine plane. Naturally, if we are separated from this plane, we will mindlessly reflect this state in most all of our inward attitudes or outward acts -- just as if we truly love someone, certain behaviors will follow naturally.

The essence of sin is an inversion. The world is turned upside down and inside out, so that we forget the Absolute and the Infinite. Esoterically understood, forgetting is associated with sleeping, and sleeping with death. Thus, in order to restore the world and ourselves, we must remember, wake up, arise and be reborn. For just as there is horizontal recollection -- our conventional memory of the past -- there is “vertical recollection” of the above. And it is literally a re-membering, both because we are dismembered and alienated from vital parts of ourselves if we are exiled in the horizontal, but also because there is such a shock of recognition and familiarity when we encounter and re-collect the primordial Truths that are anterior to us.

Think about it for a moment. Some people stumble upon this blog and have no idea what I’m writing about. They either disagree with me, or accuse me of being oblique or secretive, or suggest that I am some sort of con man instead of a coonman, or accuse readers of being a bunch of bobbleheaded cultists disagreeably nodding off in agreement. It’s not so much that they don’t know what I’m talking about. Rather, they cannot remember what I’m talking about. It would be just as if I were to say to them, “remember when you were born, the doctor pulling you out, slapping your butt, and then slapping yo' mama 'cause yo' ass be so ugly?” “No, I don’t remember anything like that. You’re lying.”

Other people -- a few hundred of them anyway -- know exactly what I’m talking about. And if not exactly, then they have a sort of dim recollection. And as they continue reading and strengthening their vertical memory, more and more of my writing begins to make perfect nonsense. I think if you were to go back and read the comments of any number of readers from over the months, you would see a rather detailed diary of their vertical recollection gradually coming back “on line” and becoming more sharp and detailed. Yes, on the one hand, it is an acquisition of knowledge. But that’s only the content. The actual process is one of recollection and seeing, not with the mind but with the intelligence itself: cOOnvision. You can see the transition as certain commenters become O->(k) teachers in their own write.

This, by the way, is how the gospel story spread so rapidly through the Roman Empire. First of all, the story was not particularly appealing to those sophisticated “sinners” who had no contact with the vertical, with the exception of paying occasional tribute to some godlike human projections of their own making. Nor does the story have any attraction to intellectual elites, either then or now, whose minds are filled to the brim with the latest horizontal fascions. They remember only the dead past, not the living future.

But the story somehow made immediate sense to two categories of people: those who were “poor in spirit,” with uncluttered minds and innocent hearts. But also to the super-sophisticated, those geniuses like a Gregory of Nyssa, or Augustine, or Denys the Areopagite, who had taken horizontal thought as far as it could go, and then beyond the horizon of knowability to the deeper realm of the unKnowable (unKnowing being a higher and deeper form of knowing).

For me, of course, these are the most interesting cases. For unlike the purely secular intellectual, they do not place an arbitrary limit on thought and declare their own little ideas Supreme, like a child. Rather, they continue pushing through until achieving “vertical liftoff,” as in the case of an Eliot, Chesterton, Lewis, and so many others. Thought can lead to what is beyond it, but only for those who are both daring and humble (not to mention intelligent enough to pull it off; frankly, most of our secular priesthood are hopelessly middlebrow intellectual worker bees who know what they know, and that’s all they know). Far from being brave and independent thinkers, they cravenly "worship what is widely worshipped," in the words of Berlinski. Suffice it to say, they can tell us "nothing of interest about the human soul." And yet, their pride convinces them that they are somehow equipped "to face realities the rest of us cannot bear to contemplate." I'll believe that when Hitchens can bear to face reality sober.

And if that isn't obvious, just read the comments of any of our trolls, who are a never ending source of shallow darkness, which can masquerade as a sort of false mysticism, when it's really just mysterbation. Real mysticism is a beam of intense darkness that is most receptive to the divine light, but that's the subject for another post.

In fact, this postmodern relativizing of the intellect automatically leads to a spirit of pride, and with it, rebellion. And pride, don’t you know, is said to be the most egregious of the sins. We can see why this must be so, because forgetting the Absolute combines, in Schuon’s formulation, a “centrifugal passion” with an “egoistic hardening.” In other words, our consciousness is dispersed from the center to the periphery, but tumorangs back to us in the form of a cancerous attitude of the heart -- it is a “being” prior to this or that “doing” or “not doing.” And this is why it is so deadly: we then become not just a “sinner,” but we rekaputulate the entire foundation and basis of sin. This is a state of what I call complete I-AMnesia of the vertical, or the Absolute.

It is not so much that pride “inflates the ego.” Rather, the more insidious effect is that it not only limits and undermines the intelligence, but ultimately destroys it, while at the same time propping up a surface mechanism analogous to the Wizard of Oz: pay no attention to that little ego twirling the knobs and dials under a curtain of maya.

Pride is also the very thing that prevents a person from losing that which could save him. It takes many forms and harbors many rationalizations, for example, cynicism or extreme skepticism. The cynic, according to Schuon, believes that “sincerity consists in exhibiting shortcomings and passions and that to hide them is to be a hypocrite; they do not master themselves and still less do they seek to transcend themselves; and the fact that they take their faults for a virtue is the clear proof of their pride.”

On the other hand, the hypocrite confuses true virtue -- which is a state of being -- with mere outwardly virtuous attitudes or displays; he believes that “the appearances of faith suffice for faith itself.” The problem is not that they manifest virtue, but “in believing that the manifestation is virtue itself and, above all, in aping virtue in the hope of being admired: this is pride, because it is individualism and ostentation. Pride is to overestimate oneself and to underestimate others; and this is what the cynic does just as much as the hypocrite, in a blatant or a subtle way as the case may be.” Again, no one is more proud of his intellect -- but with less reason to be -- than the strict Darwinist.

In both cases, the outward and horizontal ego displaces the vertical spirit and the inner light, thereby misappropriating “what belongs to the spiritual soul.” Nature abhors a vacuum, while Spirit requires one. If God does not fill our existential void, then pride (among other things) necessarily rushes in to take its place. After all, it is what came before the fall -- it is what the ego tripped & felon. It was ineveateapple.

Where then the proper place for self-confidence as opposed to its faux substitutes, pride and the dreaded self-esteem? Self-confidence is faith that we can succeed and achieve a deiform excellence that transcends us, while self-esteem is the self-satisfied attitude that we already have. Confidence results from perfecting one’s God-given talents, while pride results from inflating and overestimating their value, and then claiming them for our own.

Ultimately, when we forget that we have fallen, there is no way to reverse course and rise back up. The loss of transcendence brings with it many howling consequences, too many dogs to catalogue here. Suffice it say that if your culture or sub-culture is foolish enough to deny the antecedent reality of Truth, Love and Beauty, it will generate an abundance of obligatory falsehood, artistic ugliness, moral relativism, and the many varieties of counterfeit love. Then again, tenure has its rewards. As does secular sainthoodlum.

Other vices attach themselves to evil, that evil may be accomplished; pride alone attaches itself to good, that good may perish. --Saint Augustine

Don't be such a big shot. When God's on the line, take the call: