Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Croaking Hoaxters Don't You Think the Joker Laughs at You?

What is intelligibly diverse must be unified and whole, and only what is whole and unified can be intelligibly diverse. At the same time, only what is diversified can be intelligibly one. This is because change requires continuity if it is to be change of anything at all, and the parts of what is continuous must be distinguishable or else it congeals to a dimensionless point (or instant).... Although a whole is a single unity, it is at the same time a unified diversity. The reality of time, therefore, establishes concurrently the reality of a whole which is nontemporal. --Errol Harris, The Reality of Time

I will cooncede at the outset that this rambling post did not come together into a unified diversity in the manner one might have hoped. Why? Because there simply wasn't enough time to compensate for all of the distractions, in order for the One to perform it's unifying magic over the many. Therefore, I will leave it to you to make sense of it, or to decide whether it is intelligibly diverse or just an unintelligible blobservation.

Atheistic types like to accuse religious folks of being naively uncritical about scripture, and no doubt many are. But the same can be said for radical secularists who adopt a naive and credulous stance toward the natural sciences, as if they require no metaphysical foundation, and simply "speak for themselves." But there is no meaningful scientific observation that isn't theory-laden, and as soon as one examines the implicit theories with which science is laden, one is led back into the realm of pure metaphysics. And once that happens, you soon discover that the naive religionists are not so naive after all.

As Errol Harris writes, "all the stock arguments against metaphysics, from Kant to Wittgenstein, have long been exposed as self-refuting, so that far from being impossible, metaphysics is indispensable and unavoidable, always inescapably presupposed in whatever philosophical position is adopted -- even one that repudiates it."

Now, metaphysics aims at the comprehension of the cosmos in its totality, both in its vertical and horizontal aspects. Any scientistic metaphysic which aims only at an explanation of the horizontal world eliminates in one stroke the very realm where metaphysical truth abides. This is the principial realm of which the horizontal is merely a derivative "prolongation," which is why it is said, for example, that the Torah is prior to the world, or why Jesus could say that "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Likewise, "In the beginning was the word, and you know the drill, so I won't repeat it here."

Of metaphysical certitude, Schuon writes that it results from the "coincidence between truth and our being; a coincidence that no raytiocination could invalidate. Contingent things are proven by factors situated within their order of contingency, whereas things deriving from the Absolute become clear by their participation in the Absolute, hence by a 'superabundance of light'... which amounts to saying that they are proven by themselves. In other words, universal truths draw their evidence not from our contingent thought, but from our transpersonal being, which constitutes the substance of our spirit and guarantees the adequacy of intellection."

I suppose there is one way to avoid metaphysics, and that is to be genuinely psychotic, and to truly live in a world without a priori meaning, sense, and coherence (although even there, people like Matte Blanco and Bion have provided theoretical keys that allow us to appreciate the order beneath psychotic disorder). I am told that the Joker in the new Batman film is such a person. Of him, commenter Dusty writes that he is

"a perfect personification of transcendent evil. That is, the act of rejecting transcendence a priori at the same time downwardly transforms that person into an inverted reflection of the saving grace from above. True transcendent evil is a faceless force until given temporary one by an earthly personality. Notice that the joker in Dark Knight is in truth a faceless terror all throughout. He really has no personal history: no name; his clothes are self-made; the past that he does reveal turns out to be contradiction and lies; and even the face that we do see is painted in the style of the Jungian archetype of the mad clown. There's nothing there but a trail of violence and disaster. Whence did he come? Where did he go?"

You see? A diversified chaos, with no wholeness or unity. You might say that he is deconstruction personified, or the archetype of Tenured Man:

"He is chaos personified, and the only connection that he does have with grace is a masochistic-like dependency on the archetypal hero who opposes his will. Even the darkest of nights, night within night, evil for the sake of evil, must necessarily maintain contact with the light, or else there would exist an absolute hell, which is strictly impossible unless God chose to suffer it himself. But if God is Good, he would choose eternal delight, and not an eternal dark night."

Those two paragraphs are loaded with insights that need to be unpacked. For example, gnotice how our scientistic jester is indeed dependent upon us, not vice versa. We do not seek him out, and do our best to ignore his irrelevance. But he "must necessarily maintain contact with the light," hence his desire to associate with us rather than with his own kind, which would indeed be a kind of cold and dry hell. Just imagine those scintillating conversations between blind atheists sharing stories of what they cannot see!

Let's discuss the idea of "a perfect personification of transcendent evil." Now evil cannot actually be transcendent. Rather, it can only mimic and mock transcendence by "escaping" the obligations of our humanness from below. I'm just free associating here, but this is one of the things that creeped me out about the opening ceremony of the Olympics a few nights ago. I only caught the first 20 minutes or so before turning if off. Yes, I could see that there was a kind of bombastic majesty taking place, but toward what end? Toward man as ant, or the elimination of man as such. It was like a leftist mass, I suppose.

2008 drummers playing in lockstep? Give me one immortal jazz drummer. Give me Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey, Tony Williams, or Jack DeJohnette, all playing around with the beat, adding their own flavor, throwing in their own unpredictable syncopations, being individuals. For that is what America is all about: not the ant as ant, nor the ant in opposition to the hive, but rising above -- i.e., transcending -- it. If Art Blakey had been one of those 2008 drummers, he'd probably now be in a slave labor camp.

So man can "transcend" -- or at least get around -- the ego from above or from below. In the case of a great jazz musician, while he "stands out," it can never be in a "selfish" way, or it won't be jazz anymore. Rather, the whole point is that in real jazz, each of the parts is subordinate to an emergent "higher unity" that is being spontaneously created in the moment, in an organismic manner. For example, back in the 1930s, Louis Armstrong would often be thrown together with a bunch of musical stiffs who couldn't approach his level of virtuosity. As such, the results aren't really "jazz." It's more like when the Harlem Globetrotters defeat the Washington Generals night after night. It might be a spectacle, but it's not really sport.

I don't think it's any coincidence that jazz was invented in America, as it is our quintessential art form, combining as it does a maximum of freedom (which is to say, individuality) and discipline, for it requires much, much more discipline to be a great jazz musician than it does to be in a glorified marching band. Likewise, anyone with a mediocre intellect can understand science. But not everyone can understand Aquinas or Schuon or Aurobindo, or so many other true theologians.

Now, the cosmos is ordered (as we all know, cosmos is from the Greek word for order). Everywhere we look, order. There is incredible mathematical order in the equations of physics, in chemistry, in the genome, everywhere. There is also order in the human psyche and in the human spirit, two distinct categories that people have tended to conflate over the past 300 years or so. But the psyche is more or less the area addressed by psychology, while the spirit is the domain of religion (although there is admittedly much overlap, as there must be, just as there is overlap between physics and chemistry, or chemistry and biology).

Toward the end of the 19th century, at the peak of reductionistic materialism, there was an attempt to reduce the psyche to a purely material or "energic" phenomenon (and to eliminate the spirit altogether). One sees this in the early theories of Freud, which absurdly reduce the mind to a kind of pressure cooker seeking to let off the "steam" of primitive instincts and impulses; or in the behaviorists, who imagined that there was no such thing as a psyche, only behavior.

In fact, there are people who still believe this. I remember during my internship, getting into a heated debate with a fellow intern who was a behaviorist. At the time, I didn't yet realize that the discussion would be as pointless as trying to bring light to our scientistic jester. After all, how does one impart truth to someone who believes only in behavior? I suppose by physically striking him on the head with a book. Anyway, this is an example of a man who voluntarily cashed in his humanness for a kind of faux liberation, in which nothing means anything. Rather, it's all just behavior. Thus, he succeeded in escaping the pain of the human state "from below."

Isn't this what the Joker would say? He's just a behaviorist with the courage of his absence of convictions. He's just a mindless man thinking. Or, in behaviorist terms, just a dead man walking, or not even a zombie. In a way, he is death.

Existence is unavoidably tied up with language -- with the Word -- because to have existence is synonymous with having a definition, even if we cannot put it into purely logical words. For example, Just Thomism writes that

"The idea of soul arises when we notice that some bodies are alive and others are not. Our judgment of what is alive and what is not is far from infallible, but it remains that among the physical things we know, some are alive and others are not. Words like 'soul' were first imposed from primitive theories of what made a living thing alive: early words for soul simply meant 'breath'; although it is unclear if they thought that breath was really soul or if it was more the clearest sign of whatever soul was. Theories about the soul quickly became more precise. The Greeks had a vast multitude of opinions about what makes something living -- the best of which was that the soul was some kind of organization in a body which involved the mixture of various elements in the right proportion."

Thus, for someone who is alienated from their soul, it will simply be a kind of nonsense word that corresponds to nothing real, like "unicorn." This is one of the crude arguments that bonehead atheists commonly make, all the while imagining themselves to be sophisticated, courageous, or clear thinking. But the joke is on them, for

"Our modern scientists who deny the spiritual existence of the soul because they can account for human life without it are no different than a bookbinder who denies the existence of writing style or syntax because he can account for the whole book without mentioning them at all. In a sense he is right. He can completely account for the book without once invoking syntax or grammar. For that matter, the marketer, bookseller, and distributor needn't speak of syntax and grammar in order to give their own complete account of a book. Their way of analyzing a book into its relevant parts doesn't need to include this" (Just Thomism).

So our jester is correct, in that he does adequately convey the universal truths of the undead.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Origin and Center of the Human State

Why did this pop into my melon while making my coffee this morning? As Bertie Wooster would say, it's not the sort of thing one springs on a lad with a morning head. But it must have been an artifact of a passing thoughtlet I had yesterday, to the effect that for the radical secularist, they will have all sorts of beliefs, but none of the beliefs can fit together in any integral way, or be justified in any ultimate sense. It will all just be ad hoc and disconnected, with no possibility of unity. I would find such a situation completely unsatisfying intellectually, let alone spiritually. I wouldn't -- and didn't -- give up until I had found the missing unity from which it all emanates, revolves around, and returns.

For example, let's say we have a simpleminded secular person who believes in the literal truth of Darwinism. But he also believes, say, in monogamous marriage. Why? How do you square that circle in any kind of necessary way, as opposed to an arbitrary way? You can't. You just live a fractured existence and don't think about all of the cracks in its foundation.

Or, what if you believe there is no intrinsic difference between animals and humans, but you also believe we shouldn't be allowed to marry the former or eat the latter. Why? On what basis? Homosexuals often argue that they should be allowed to marry because one occasionally sees animals of the same "gender" going at it. But we also see some monkeys eat babies. Can we infer from this that it is acceptable to consume our young?

Or, let us say, we have a typical soul-damaged ACLU activist who spends his meaningless life trying to efface any remnant of our precious Judeo-Christian heritage. Eventually, if he is persistent enough, he will sniff out the very source of the problem, which is that our rights derive from the Creator. As such, we are only Americans in any intrinsically meaningful sense to the extent that there is a Creator. No Creator, no America or Americans. Or, if we are just Americans in the absence of the Creator, then we are just like any other nation, in which our rights come from the state, and we in turn become serfs instead of real men who are free to live from the Center of being, from the inside out, or from O-->(n).

None of this should be seen as remotely abstract. Rather, it is as concrete as can be, as are the implications. For example, the wicked Deepak never tires of criticizing the United Stated as uniquely evil, a place run by deluded Christian fundamentalists. Most recently, this pompously crude and illiterate evil clown (and for the existential implications of evil clowns, please read Dusty's comment at the end of the previous thread) wrote of how the people who hate the United States for our imperialistic war against Iraq are entirely justified in doing so, and that we need to humble ourselves before the democrazy of world opinion.

One of the problems with the left is that they are so casually hyperbolic in their use of language (an effect of having no moral center), that when the real thing comes along, they don't have the words for it. For example, if one is a racist for believing that Obama is a vapid celebrity, what do you call an actual racist? Likewise, when a real imperial war of aggression occurs, such as the one we are seeing between Russia and Georgia, what do you call it? Because if it's no different than Bushitler's invasion of Iraq, then there's no need for concern, is there? As soon as Georgia is capable of defending itself against internal and external enemies, Putin will pull out and let them live autonomously and independently. No problem.

At the same time, Deepak is so morally depraved that his moronic blog defends China. Those of us who are critical of its human rights record are really just annoyed because China "does not toe our line." We are just victims of "stupidity, ignorance, foolishness, and pure dumbness."

Let's get back to the the simpleminded secularist, who doesn't trouble himself with developing a coherent metaphysic. As we all know, he lives in the soil of Judeo-Christian values, even while polluting and poisoning it with his infertile fertilizer, or worthless B.S. I sometimes wonder if the global warming hoax is an unconscious projection of this process. In other words, secularists are making the planet more and more uninhabitable for the human soul, but imagine that the problem has something to do with material reality (since they deny spiritual reality).

It very much reminds me of a depressed person who is in denial of their depression. Such a person will inevitably feel physically ill, with low energy and lots of aches and pains, but they will call it something else, like "fibromyalgia" or "chronic fatigue" or "myofascial pain" (not that these things don't occasionally exist; only that, in my experience, the problem is usually depression). In other words, they misrecognize the psychic and project it onto the field of the body.

It seems that the collective left -- being that they a priori deny the soul -- misrecognize their resultant spiritual pain and emptiness, and instead weep for the earth. In turn, because they cannot recognize evil (and in fact usually deny it altogether), they inevitably call things evil that are manifestly not evil. But in fact, in order to be conistent, if global warming is real, then by any standard, Al Gore or John Edwards are deeply evil people, given the massive sizes of their carbon footprints. Or, put it this way: I'll start to believe in global warming when Al Gore takes it seriously enough to live as simply as I do.

Now, cultures do not evolve -- and could never have evolved -- in the manner of disjointed secular materialist projection. Rather, they evolve organically, with everything a reflection of everything else, both vertically and horizontally. In fact, I remember Schuon saying something to the effect that traditional cultures... here, let me find it. I don't trust my morning head to get it right.

"The whole existence of... traditional peoples in general, is dominated by two key-ideas, the idea of Center and the idea of Origin. In the spatial world where we live, every value is related in some way to a sacred Center, which is the place where Heaven has touched the earth; in every human world there is a place where God has manifested Himself in order to pour forth His grace. And it is the same for the Origin, which is the quasi-timeless moment when Heaven was near and terrestrial things were still half-celestial; but in the case of civilizations having a historical founder, it is also the period when God spoke, thus renewing the primordial covenant for the branch of humanity concerned."

Beautiful. Note what happens when secularists ever attempt to create a new or improved culture from the top down, as in the French Revolution: chaos. It generates chaos because it is completely manmade and arbitrary, and is detached from the very soil that makes the secularist possible. In other words, the secularist is just one of the possibilities of a Judeo-Christian culture that values the sanctity of the individual, who can become whatever he wishes, even if it means cashing in his humanness. But we should not stand by idly and allow them to turn our beautiful civilization upside-down just because they have no contact with its Center and Origin.

Look at this mess of a post. I've gotten completely derailed from the point I wanted to make -- you know, the thought that popped into my head while making my coffee. So let's return to the Center and Origin of this post, which was this: We all know that the simpleminded secular atheist or lizard is paradoxically proud of his meaningless intellect, believing himself to live in the world of "science," "logic," "objectivity," etc., while we religious types live in our supposedly comforting myths and fairy tales. Fair enough.

I remember Einstein, a Princeton professor of some note, saying something to the effect that for the physicist, time cannot ultimately be real. Rather, it is only a "stubborn illusion," a side effect, as it were, of a more fundamental reality that is atemporal. Okay, fine. That makes no sense, but a lot of things about modern physics make no sense to our reason or our experience. Because if it is true, nothing is really happening, including the statement that it isn't. At the very least, we could never say that "this temporal state" is more valuable than "that temporal state." Rather, all temporal states are of equal value, just different arrangements of value-neutral energy. It would be like saying that this ripple on the water is better than that one. If you've seen one ripple, you've seen them all.

But for the Darwinist, time is anything but a "stubborn illusion." Rather, it is everything, given that time is the "place" where evolution plays out. In other words, as we discussed a couple of posts back, Darwinian evolution presupposes the reality of time, which is intrinsically irreversible (even if they refuse to concede that it is also developmental, which it most assuredly is). In Darwinian time, 2 plus 2 equals four, but 4 minus 2 can never get you back to two, any more than you can actually reverse the aging process. And they don't really have any idea of how 2 plus 2 gets to 5 (or monkey + monkey = human), but that's a subject for a different post.

So how do we reconcile the reality of time with the reality of physics? I mean, I know how I do it, but how does the simpleminded secularist? For example, the Raccoon knows that evolution is developmental for the very reason that there is a cosmic Center and Origin (non)located on the vertical plane. For this reason, we know that the human state is superior to the animal state, and that life is "higher" than matter. But for the physicist, there isn't even any way to identify any fundamental difference between living and non-living matter. Rather, life is simply a relatively rare configuration of matter, but that is all.

Likewise, for the Darwinist, the human is just a relatively rare kind of animal. Whatever he is, it can all be reduced to his animal nature, whatever that is, just as life can be reduced to energy, whatever that is. So the secularist ultimately adheres to the philosophy of "whatever." Get him to acknowledge and articulate his first principles, and you will indeed discover that they are "whatever," or "chit happens."

But seriously, folks. How does chit happen? Let's leave to one side the question of how existence happens. What we really want to know is how existence becomes experience, how experience becomes truth, and how truth may know the Absolute. It may do so because Truth is a declension from the Absolute, not another arbitrary state of physics or a result of random genetic errors.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Satan's Third Suggestion: Don't Go Changin' on Me, and it Doesn't Matter Anyway

Kevin Lomax: "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven", is that it?

John Milton: Why not? I'm here on the ground with my nose in it since the whole thing began. I've nurtured every sensation man's been inspired to have. I cared about what he wanted and I never judged him. Why? Because I never rejected him. In spite of all his imperfections, I'm a fan of man! I'm a humanist. Maybe the last humanist.
--The Devil's Advocate

The Ten Commandments are also inherently ten criticisms of Man, as they assume he will likely do the opposite in their absence. In other words, he will worship himself, work for a predatory subprime lender to satisfy his boundless greed, lie in court, plunder innocent OB GYNs with the use of bogus science, and cheat on his dying wife. He will be John Edwards, or Satan's Advocate.

Again, being that the prince of this world never "commands," the Ten Satanic Commandments would have to come in the form of flattery. They will essentially sooth man's conscience and tell him that he is just fine the way he is. For that very reason they will forestall cognitive, emotional, and spiritual evolution, since they undermine the end of each, which is to say, wisdom, love, and the One, respectively. They will be more like ten emollients, reassurances, or encouragements that keep man an entitled, self-centered, petulant, and misosophic child forever.

Last week we discussed the first two Satanic blandishments. Today we will revisit number three, and see if it still make sense two years on. If it doesn't, I will edit it in such a way that no one will ever know.

*****
One of the purposes of this blog is to encourage serious people to take religion seriously. I was once a person who didn’t take religion seriously, although even in my antaganostic daze, I probably wouldn’t have objected to being called “spiritual,” since it’s such a bland and neutral description that essentially means anything you want it to. I have observed that most liberals feel this way. They will proudly describe themselves as spiritual, but draw a bright line at religious, as if it is an insult. Which to them it often is.

But this type of gelatinous, unstructured spirituality usually amounts to either solipsism or narcissism, because it is wholly subjective and makes no demands at all on the person. Furthermore, it usually alienates one from the very grace that is the true catalyst for change. In the absence of grace, either acknowledged or unacknowledged, man can do nothing but go around in circles. True, he might be able to expand the size of the circle, or even pretend that it doesn't exist, but he cannot enter the open spiral, being that the latter only exists because of vertical energies that transcend us.

In fact, authentic religions are frameworks for spirituality, in the same way that music theory is a framework for music. You can try to play music without such a frame -- you can be “musical” -- but with rare exceptions, you won’t be able to play much of interest. It will be a pretty vain endeavor. This is why, for example, regardless of what objection you may have to the Catholic church, it has produced more profound spiritual geniuses than the “new age” ever will. Frankly, there’s just no comparison in terms of depth, power and spiritual radiance. The new age can produce a demon such as Deepak Chopra, but it could never produce a Meister Eckhart. And Chopra is a demon precisely because he represents human evolution in the absence of vertical grace. Thus, he is more Nietzschean or even nazian than noetian.

I'm not taking a position for or against, but when you hear debates about whether or not the Ten Commandments should be displayed in schools or courthouses, you will often notice that liberals assume their typical superior tone of mockery and derision toward them -- as if some arbitrary laws thought up thousands of years ago by primitive people have any contemporary, much less universal, applicability. While they will grant that it might be bad under certain circumstances to steal (unless it is by the state) or kill (unless it is in self defense), they especially dismiss injunctions against making graven images (discussed in last week's post) or taking the name of the lord in vain. No one is going to tell a leftist what he can and cannot mock, since knee-jerk adolescent rebellion is at the core of leftism. If they can’t blaspheme, what’s left for them? Just so long as you don't mock their sacred cowpies, Obama being a steaming example.

You will also notice that no one is more literal-minded or “fundamentalist” than the leftist or atheist who rejects religion. That is, they reject only a caricature of religion that they have concocted themselves. Or perhaps, as often happens, they had a bad experience with a dysfunctional version of religion as a child, and are in perpetual revolt against it. While perfectly understandable -- in fact, to a certain extent, I was a victim of this myself -- there is no reason why it should pose a lifelong obstacle to opening oneself to the boundless depths of genuine religion.

We recently discussed how leftism (and remember, when I use that term, I’m generalizing about the deep structure of an entire philosophical attitude or temperament, not this or that particular leftist) represents an upside-down and inside-out version of Judeo-Christian metaphysics, and how it manages to invert each of the commandments. In other words, they are not just against the Ten Commandments, but (whether wittingly or unwittingly) enshrine their opposite.

The third commandment is “You shall not take the name of the lord in vain.” There are even many Christians who believe that this means nothing more than refraining from cursing. If so, what’s the point? If that were all it amounted to, then liberals might even be correct in mocking something so seemingly trivial in the overall scheme of things. Why would the Creator of the Cosmos care that liberal blogs use 12 times as much profanity as conservative ones? True, it is a marker of barbarism, stupidity, and adolescent rebellion, but those aren't capital offenses.

First of all, this commandment has something important to say about metaphysical vanity, specifically, vain and fruitless talk about God, of which there is an overabundance. Much religious talk is entirely vain, in that it serves no purpose -- it is mere “pneuma-babble” emanating from the ego, not the spirit. For example, whenever our scientistic jester speaks of "God" -- and therefore reality -- he does so in a way that is devoid of content and therefore entirely vain. As you may eventually learn, there is no point in engaging him, because it only serves the purpose of making his apparitions appear more real to him.

The omninameable One has revealed several of his names to mankind, the most universal one undoubtedly being I AM. In fact, there are certain forms of yoga that consist of nothing more than meditating on the mystery of this I AM to which we all have inexplicable access. To do so is to engage in the deepest form of vertical recollection, for this I AM is not located in the field of time. Rather, it eternally radiates through the vertical now to which humans have unique access. To dwell in the primordial I AM -- or so ham in Sanskrit -- is to reconnect with the eternal ground of being. It is anything but vain. Quite the opposite. It is simultaneously fruitful and the very source of fruit.

As I was at pains to point out in the Coonifesto, the principial truths embodied in genuinely revealed religions must be experienced, not merely thought. In other words, they cannot be thought "about" but only thought "in." One doesn't look at them but with and through them.

In fact, this is really not much different than, say, psychology, or any other interior discipline that transcends the senses. You can read all about the criteria for a depression or panic attack in the DSM, but unless you have actually experienced a panic attack, the words don’t really convey the experience. If anything, they might even convince you that you understand it because you have the words for it, but the words are merely pointers or place markers. You really haven't lived -- or perhaps died -- until you've had a good panic attack.

Especially with regard to religion and psychology, words must be analogous to bank notes that one may “cash in” for their actual experiential value. Otherwise you are simply dealing with religious counterfeiters and with spiritual “funny money” that has no value at all. It is entirely vain. When you read Meister Eckhart or Saint John of the Cross, you know that their words are backed by the full faith and credit of the First Bank of Divine Reality. When you read Deepak Chopra or Tony Robbins, you know that their words are backed by the full faith and credit of their rampant narcissism. But Gresham's law means that bad spiritual money tends to drive out good, which accounts for their vast personal fortunes. John Edwards too. If you can't tell that every word that comes out of the mouth of this vain man is counterfeit, then you are a lost soul.

Perhaps the worst way of taking the name of the Lord in vain -- and the most spiritually catastrophic for the person who does so -- is to use the name of God as a pretext to commit great evil, as do the Islamists. I’m trying to think of a worse sin, but I can’t at the moment. What the Islamists are doing is beyond evil, for they are committing evil in the name of God, thus undermining the very possibility of the good. Deepak doesn't actually murder anyone, but he does reduce man's most precious birthright into something tawdry, stupid, and evil, so he too will have a lot of 'splainin' to do.

Contrary to popular understanding, these Islamist beasts of depravity are worthy of both divine wrath and our own unyielding righteous anger. True, under most circumstances it is appropriate to “hate the sin and not the sinner.” However, it is entirely legitimate to despise the sinner to the extent that he has not only completely given himself over to sin, but fully identifies with it in an implacable way. Such a person cannot be forgiven, since there is no man left to forgive.

In other words, the Islamo-nazis are not just committing evil, they are willfully identified with evil -- more, they are absolutely committed to violent overthrow of the very possibility of the good. It is our sacred duty to despise these monsters in the proportion to which we love the Good. In no way does this mirror the illegitimate, passionate, and sadistic hatred of the Islamists themselves, for holy anger is dispassionate and does not surpass the boundaries of its cause. Americans do not chop off heads for fun; they only do what is necessary to stop the evil. (Obviously, the disproportionate and intoxicated hatred of the left is not legitimate; they are addicted to hate, to such an extent that they hate what is good, true, and beautiful, even if they don't chop off heads.)

There is one additional aspect of the third commandment that I had wanted to get into, but this has already gone on rather long, and I don't really have timelessness enough to expand upon it. That is the possibility of metaphysical knowledge which is both objectively true and operative, or fruitful, in the psyche. Virtually all postmodern thought is in agreement that objective metaphysical knowledge is not possible -- that it is intrinsically “vain.” Here again we see an exact reversal of the reality, for the religious view is that human beings most definitely have access, through the uncreated intellect, to objective truth. There are eternal truths that man may not only know, but without which man couldn't know anything, and wouldn't be man.

Example?

Oh, there are so many, I don’t know where to begin. How about this one: semantics cannot be reduced to syntax. Because it can’t, language is not just a vain epiphenomenon produced by a modified primate brain, including the mathematical language that governs the physical universe, the language of DNA, the language of music, or the language of Shakespeare. Ultimately, it means that meaning is indeed meaningful and not merely a vain existential pursuit. The cosmos is not just a tale told by a tenured idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying short hours and a nice paycheck. Rather, it is a vehicle of Ultimate Meaning, as it is a lifeline tossed down from above, not an ivory tower of babbling idiots built from below, prick by prick.

More memorable quotes from The Devil's Advocate:

--Who, in their right mind Kevin, could possibly deny the twentieth century was entirely mine?
--Freedom, baby... is never having to say you're sorry.
--I only set the stage. You pull your own strings.
--Vanity, definitely my favorite sin.
--Guilt is like a bag of fuckin' bricks. All ya gotta do is set it down.
--We kill you with kindness, that's our secret.

Friday, August 08, 2008

How Blind Lizards Make Nonsense of Darwinist Claims

I guess there are some creationists and ID people out there who maintain that the complexity of the eye is one of the strongest arguments against random mutation. I have no idea of the current state of that argument, only to say that it is ongoing.

I imagine that much of the debate is based upon intuition rather than cold logic, although the coldest logicians always imagine they are nearest to the flame. But there are some people who just refuse to believe that a thousand Kerouacs typing on a thousand typewriters while swallowing millions of amphetamines could ever produce the works of Suzanne Somers, let alone Rod McKuen or the bitter and pudgy cat lady with the tragic comb over, JAMES WOLCOTT.

But that argument doesn't really interest me, being that it takes place so far below the laughty peaks of the coonosphere. It's like watching a bunch of squares and moldy figs argue over whether cubop or thelonious spheres exist. If you're already spherical, the whole disrespectacle is simultaneously silly and insulting, since they would have us believe that our existence depends upon the outcome of the debate. But of course, we exist irrespective of what these easily soph-satisfied flat earthlings can prove to themselves with mere logic.

Likewise, suprasensible realities exist regardless of the outcome of a debate between, say Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D'Souza, or Petey and Queeg for that matter. A debate is quintessentially a linear exercise. I don't wish to debate. Rather, I want to demonstrate. Like Suzanne Somers, I would like to touch you, to help you change your life and show how fallen mankind can pick itself up, dust itself off, and start all over again.

Is this grandiose? Perhaps. But one cannot evolve spiritually in the absence of alignment with an unreachable star, and mine happens to be Suzanne Somers. For me, every day is a chance to somersize my brain and to be eternally slim and sexy. No, this is not a knock on Deepak. It is just that for me, Suzanne is the image of truth and the conveyer of the secrets hidden since the foundation of the world, or at least since Three's Company was cancelled.

Now, a month or so ago, I remember Queeg linking to another BREAKING STORY that proves the truth of Darwinism. I don't remember the details, but it had something to do with a lizard that lived in the dark for so long that it "unevolved" its eyes. What were once eyes were reduced to mere virtualities -- just a couple of empty sockets in the lizard melon. Now now, don't laugh at the irony. Not yet.

As if we didn't know that lizards who live in darkness will forget how to see! For Hitchens -- who is quite obviously frightfully intelligent but who is just as frightfully intellectually blind -- this qualifies as a Big Deal, even a MOMENT OF EUREKA and AN ORIGINAL THOUGHT ON A CONTESTED SUBJECT! But if Hitchens were actually capable of having an original thought about Truth, it would only prove that Truth exists and that reductionistic Darwinism therefore cannot be true.

A much more interesting question is how Darwinist creatures can devolve their eyes -- how, in Hitchens' words, "denizens of the underworld" can "lose the eyes they had once possessed." No, not physical eyes, but the spiritual eye that "sees" suprasensible realities.

You see -- and I know you do -- Hitchens, or Queeg, or Dawkins, or all the rest of the anti-spiritual hucksters, frauds and shills, aren't really hucksters, frauds, or shills at all. Rather, they are merely blind. Somehow they have devolved to the point that they cannot see what the vast majority of human beings have always been able to see and know. After all, this is why a blind human being can see infinitely further than a Lizard with perfect vision. It is why Ray Charles or Lennie Tristano are artists who could not ride bicycles, while Queeg is a bicyclist who can play a guitar. Indeed, it is why Beethoven had such fine hearing even without functioning ears.

Seriously. I mean, art does exist, right? Or are we going to argue that point as well? I suppose we could. In Hitchens' piece, he claims that the nature program that prompted his EUREKA moment also had some beautiful images that should "redefine art." He doesn't explain how, but I don't think it qualifies as a new insight to point out that the world is inexplicably beautiful in such a way that it defies any Darwinian explanation. After all, if Darwinism is correct, nothing is beautiful, precisely.

As I have mentioned before, when Future Leader is on the cusp of puberty, I'll let him in on the Darwinian secret to sexual happiness and harmony, which is to say that women aren't actually beautiful, so that there's no need to waste a lot of energy as I did, idealizing and pining over Suzie Campbell in biology class (of all places!). You see, their "attractiveness" is simply a trick of the genes designed to get you to reproduce. So ignore all that. It's just a ruse. Certainly don't "fall in love," love being another one of those tricks of the genes to make you think that lust has some higher purpose.

So the Darwinist is able to make quick work of anything that transcends the animal state, and thereby knock humans off their pedestal. It's not that we actually "fall" back to earth, since we never actually left it to begin with. To the extent that we imagine that things like beauty, or truth, or virtue, or justice, or dignity, are real, they are actually reducible to some genetic advantage that was conferred upon some furbear lost in the mists of our random walk through the morphic space of biological possibility.

But why on earth is there so much sublime beauty in all these random products of nature that we can't even have sex with? I mean, Darwin explains the physical beauty of Suzanne Somers, but what accounts for the beauty of her poetry? Or, if you are one of those smug sophisticates who thinks that her poetry is on the same level as, say, Nancy Pelosi's meager literary gifts, how did you arrive at that aesthetic judgment?

True, Pelosi's ugly, shrill, and tasteless book stinks, and I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. But I did not arrive at this conclusion with eyes, ears, hands, tongue, or nose. In fact -- and I'm sure this will be a controversial statement to non-Raccoon readers -- I didn't even have to read the book to know that it is devoid of truth and beauty. There, I've said it. My cOOnvision can "see" into a book without even reading it. This is in contrast to a blind lizard who can read a book without ever actually seeing - much less hearing -- it.

In yesterday's comments, I mentioned what amounts to a banality for Raccoons, that.... hmm, I see that Petey and I made a number of banal comments and quips that are relevant to today's post. For example, I mentioned something that never ceases to amaze, which is that "no matter where I go theologically, I find that some lofty Christian thinker has preceded me there." But not only Christian; also Jewish, Taoist, Buddhist, Vedantic, and yes, even Sufi. I won't rehearse all of the evidence here, since it would take 1044 pages to do so, and Perry has already done it anyway.

Now, the reason why such a book is possible is because spiritual evolution is convergent, not divergent. Just as eyes evolved through wildly diverse means toward a similar end result, the same is true of our psychic eye. The proof is there for anyone with eyes to see. Which, unfortunately, a priori excludes blind Lizards who see what they see and that's all they see. But they shouldn't presume to see for the rest of us. They may have stopped evolving, but for us the evolutionary adventure continues, 24/7/365.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

On Keeping Faith Alive: The Intellect Doesn't Slump

You never know what will attract your attention. While idly shambling around the internet a couple of evenings ago, I found a link on Hugh Hewitt's site to a fellow named William Lobdell, a journalist who covered religion for the dreaded L.A. Times for eight years. However, in so doing, he found a cure for his misplaced faith, and has now published a book called Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America -- and Found Unexpected Peace. I'm sure the book itself is of no intrinsic value, except perhaps as a bad example from which we may derive something useful. Let us try.

Since he is now a bonehead atheist, it is odd that Lobdell still writes about "religion," being that there can be no such thing for an atheist. True, there is a phenomenon that goes by the name of religion, but it can only be a comforting self-delusion at best, a pernicious pathology at worst. Lobdell can have no genuine interior knowledge of the subject, being that there is no interior knowledge to be had. It is equivalent to saying that he blogs about his own ignorance, which hardly makes him unique.

One wonders which one it was for Lobdell, fantasy or sickness? And naturally, the psychologist in me wants to know what it is in him that is prone to pathological fantasies. The reason I say this is because these kinds of mind parasites endure, especially if one has no insight into them. You don't just wake up one morning and say "hallelujah, I'm healed of my delusion!" But that is exactly what Lobdell would have us believe. For 15 years or so he was a self-deluded religious nut. But now, all of a sudden, he has been healed of religion, and has something useful to tell us about God. But it's the same presumptuousness in a different garb. One would think a little humility would be in order from one so easily deceived.

In reality, there must be an underlying psychological continuity, religion or no religion. Whether writing about God or godlessness, he's really writing about himself. While he has every right to continue doing so, I wouldn't recommend it, because he will just dig himself into a deeper hole, while proudly elevating himself above that of which he admittedly possesses no genuine knowledge.

There is a baseball adage that speed doesn't slump. For those of you who are not baseball fans, it means that every hitter, no matter how good, will go into the occasional slump in which he just can't hit the ball. Baseball is a very difficult sport. It's not easy to hit a ball traveling 90 miles per hour, thrown from 60 feet away. But if you possess foot speed, you can always try to bunt for a base hit, or run out a routine grounder, or get a walk and steal a base, or be a pinch runner in a tight ballgame, etc. Plus, your speed can always help your fielding. The point is, there are all kinds of little ways a speedy player can help the team.

We could say that there is a parallel adage in religion to the effect that the intellect doesn't slump. Like baseball, religion is a very difficult sport; it is a long season, with lots of ups and downs. If you are more of an emotional than intellectual person (i.e, a bhakti vs. jnani), it's generally going to be more difficult, unless you possess an unusual degree of equanimity and emotional consistency. Otherwise, there will be times that your faith "goes dry," along with your emotions. In such a case, your faith will have to carry you through the rough patches. In a way, such a practice actually uses the emotions to cure them of their inherent fickleness. Sort of like marriage, in which one can elevate one's emotions by binding them to a single person.

Now, I'm oversimplifying here, being that there can be no gnosis in the absence of subtle emotions, just as a genuine, purified heartfelt faith is surely a kind advanced gnosis. Nevertheless, I imagine that Lobdell's story is not altogether uncommon. For one thing, if one possesses a modicum of intelligence, it will be very difficult to remain religious to the extent that one is only exposed to stupid religion, or if one has only a stupid and childlike understanding of it.

In such a case, any self-respecting intellect will reject religion, and properly so, being that there is no privilege higher than truth. By its nature, the intellect (because it is good) will assent to that which it believes to be true (truth is to the intellect what virtue is to the will). The problem is, for such a person, the intellect itself must be convicted and converted, otherwise it will continue to be one's biggest stumbling block, when in reality, it can be used as the key to the whole existentialada if properly developed.

Again, for the emotional person, his emotions can be either the barrier or the means to faith; likewise, for the intellectually gifted person, his intelligence can be either a wall or a door. Most atheists are of mediocre intelligence, but for those with superior intelligence, something has obviously gone dreadfully wrong (and I'm hardly excusing religion for often presenting itself in such a vulgar and stupid way, although the media plays a big role in this, and makes it easy for otherwise intelligent people to reject it.)

I was listening to Dennis Prager on the way to work yesterday, and he was talking about how the intrinsic stupidity of the left helps to keep his religious faith alive. I fully agree that when you see the absence of light and wisdom in the left, it makes you appreciate even more the timeless wisdom embodied in religion. As Prager was saying -- and I agree with him 100% -- good religion is an inoculation against all kinds of philosophical and political stupidity (and evil). In turn, this realization always prompts a kind of heartfelt gratitude for the light I have been given by so many God-inspired intellects. Not only did I receive nothing during the course of my liberal indoctrination, I was contaminated. Only exposure to the real Truth can undo this worldy contamination. And who wouldn't be grateful for that?

Lobdell has published the story of how he lost his "faith" here. Let's see how many errors we can chronicle in this cautionary tale, in the hope that some other poor sap doesn't fall into them and end up cashing in truth for atheistic sophistries.

Lobdell says that "when the Times editors assigned me to the religion beat, I believed God had answered my prayers. As a serious Christian, I had cringed at some of the coverage in the mainstream media. Faith frequently was treated like a circus, even a freak show. I wanted to report objectively and respectfully about how belief shapes people’s lives. Along the way, I believed, my own faith would grow deeper and sturdier."

Now, Lobdell's first big mistake was presuming to write about religion so soon after he himself had come to it. A more modest person would have given it, oh, I don't know, a good two or three decades before even picking up the pen. Otherwise, there is an overwhelming likelihood that you will only be capable of transmitting error, or superficially blathering about weakly grasped principles. Look at it this way: truly understanding religion takes much more time and commitment than, say, obtaining a PhD in physics, being that the subject is infinite. But what kind of person would presume to write about physics shortly after an emotional experience of "hallelujah, physics exists!"

One can also be sure that if the L.A. Times offers you a job writing about religion, something's wrong. That's like Pravda offering you a job writing about capitalism. Only certain people will be "qualified," if that is the right word.

So that's mistake number one: a kind of hubris that conceals the fact that something very central has eluded his grasp. But even prior to that, there were some red flags. Lobdell says that he came to religion in 1989, when "I was 28 and my first son was less than a year old. I had managed to nearly ruin my marriage (the second one) and didn’t think I’d do much better as a father. I was profoundly lost." A friend suggested that he needed God in his life, and recommended that he attend one of those "mega-churches" that are devoid of either intelligence or barakah, but which rake in millions by fleecing their flocks.

Now, if this were the only kind of religion that existed, I can assure you that I would be an atheist, probably a militant one. Again, the intellect can only assent to what it believes to be true, and for mine to assent to Paul and Jan Crouch, or Bennie Hinn, or Joel Osteen, or Tammie Faye Baker, I would have to be brain damaged (and I don't intend to give the brain-damaged a bad name). I don't even consider these people religious per se, any more than I consider most of what calls itself art to have any right to the name. Yes, some religiosity inevitably gets tossed into the mix, and I am quite sure that many decent people get involved in this kind of thing, but their decency -- or God's mercy -- protects them from becoming completely lost and deceived. I place these people in same category as Deepak Chopra and his ilk. Just two sides of the same coin mint.

Along these lines, a friend of mine at work is turning 40. Since graduating medical school, he has worked hard at becoming successful and obtaining some degree of financial security. Now he wants to focus on his spiritual development, and was asking for advice. It is somewhat difficult to give advice to an absolute beginner, especially someone who will likely have to overcome a kind of scientistic hyper-rationalism that often results from medical school (which selects such types to begin with).

I'm still thinking about the question, but in general, the one piece of advice I might offer is to always look for intelligence and barakah, or light and grace. If you do this, you won't go wrong, because this is what your intellect and heart are hungering for, a kind of light-filled intellectual certitude, plus a grace-filled warmth where your soul finds its home. In short, you are looking for a sanctuary for the heart-mind.

Back to Lobdell's anti-spiritual autobiography. He says that the pastor of the mega-church "had a knack for making Scripture accessible and relevant. For someone who hadn’t studied the Bible much, these talks fed a hunger in my soul. The secrets to living well had been there all along –- in 'Life’s Instruction Manual,' as some Christians nicknamed the Bible."

When he says that the pastor had a knack for making scripture "accessible," I'm going to take a wild guess and say that he probably had an even bigger talent for vulgarizing it. After all, truth is truth, and if he had been conveying anything deep and useful, Lobdell would still believe it. It would have "stuck."

And when he says that these talks "fed a hunger in my soul," that is surely true, just as Twinkies will feed a hunger in your belly. But just because Twinkies are devoid of nutrition, that hardly means that the stomach doesn't exist or that it doesn't have real needs.

That's another point I would emphasize to my friend at work: you may have difficulty with the idea of God, but that can be overcome if you focus on the other end of the line, the human spirit that is a "divine spark" of God. By locating, identifying, articulating, and expanding this "part" of oneself -- what Aurobindo calls the "psychic being," but which every tradition recognizes -- you will have your own "proof of God." That is, as this part of you develops, God naturally comes more into view. In fact, there can be no stable spiritual practice in the absence of this soul development; it is simultaneously means and end.

Lobdell's next big mistake was confusing (!?) with (¶), or transient states with enduring traits. As he writes, he attended a three-day religious retreat. I guess like any other cult, these are "designed to grind down your defenses and leave you emotionally raw -- an easier state in which to connect with God. After 36 hours of prayer, singing, Bible study, intimate sharing and little sleep, I felt filled with the Holy Spirit."

Hmm. Being that he is now an atheist, he doesn't say what he believes actually happened to him. Presumably it was just some sort of altered state brought about by the unleashing of repressed energy. I'm guessing that this kind of experience isn't too difficult to obtain under such circumstances. Isn't that what the '60s was all about?

Well, running short on time.... The End.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Truth vs. Power in the Life of Solzhenitsyn

... [W]e are not only living with the truth of Gödel but also the truth of Darwin. Our minds are the blind product of evolution. Still, many scientifically minded, post-Gödel thinkers have testified to hearing, within the strange music of Gödel's mathematical theorems, tidings about our essential human nature.... Gödel's theorems tell us, according to this line of reasoning, what our minds simply could not be. In particular, what our minds could not be..., are computers. --Rebecca Goldstein, Incompleteness

Odd that LGF should post a tribute to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, for whatever else he was, he was a stern voice against postmodern nihilism in all its varieties, whether it be Marxism, Darwinism, western style consumerism, or narrow-minded Queegism. A Raccoon knows precisely what Solzhenitsyn meant when he said that That which is called humanism, but what would be more correctly called irreligious anthropocentrism, cannot yield answers to the most essential questions of our life, and that One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world.

But what can these things possibly mean to a middlebrow Darwinist? It's just vacuous rhetoric. To a Darwinist, Solzhenitsyn's life can make no sense. Why would he risk his genes for ideals that the Darwinist knows are illusory? (Solzhenitsyn was a devout Russian Orthodox.)

In looking back at the horror of Soviet communism, Solzhenitsyn remarked that "if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.

I wonder if Solzhenitsyn could have more effectively survived his ordeals if he had adopted the Lizard's credo, that "One word of natural selection shall outweigh both the soul of man and its Creator," or that the atrocities of communism occurred because "Men have forgotten Darwin; that's why all this has happened."

There are several pillars of postmodern deconstruction, and these include Marxism, philosophical Darwinism, and a crude form of Freudianism. Taken together, these constitute a "hermeneutics of suspicion," through which an inferior mind may imagine itself superior in its omnipotent ability to undermine the foundation of things that infinitely surpass it.

In the barbarous hands of a Kosling or Queegling, these are like all-purpose corrosives to the foundations of civilization and to any ideal that transcends our narrow self-interest. But they are emotionally satisfying tools, since the person who wields them can instantly elevate himself above people and institutions far superior to himself. For example, Cornell West or Jesse Jackson need only remind themselves that Jefferson owned slaves, and they are superior to him! Likewise, Queeg need only link to a Penn and Teller routine on creationism, and he is superior to Thomas Aquinas or Hans Urs Von Balthasar.

As I have mentioned before, the Queegling is so powerful that his weaponized ideology is capable of destroying in a single comment what it took 3000 years of spiritual genius to build. Can you imagine the abject idiocy of such a person? But this is what we see in comment after comment at LGF. These "terrible simplifiers" are proud of their ability to render the suprasensible meaningless and reduce existence to a horizontal wasteland.

Freud -- who also had no feel whatsoever for religious truth -- believed that religion was nothing more than a giant collective defense mechanism rooted in childhood fears, while for Marx it was the "opiate of the masses." Likewise for an orthodox Darwinist, religion must have once had some genetic survival value, but in itself it is pure nonsense. In other words, we believe religion not because it is true, but because we are genetically programmed to do so. Which begs two questions, 1) how the atheistic Darwinist has transcended his own religious genes, and 2) whether we are simply genetically programmed to understand science, which in itself has no truth value.

Now, the postmodern revolt is all about power. Since there can be no appeal to truth, no ultimate way to adjudicate between competing agendas, this means that raw power must come in to fill the void. Things like multiculturalism and moral relativism are just masks for pure power.

This is why scientistic rationalism necessarily leads to the kind of totalitarian impulses we always see from the left, whether it is in the form of campus speech codes, political correctness, assaults on religious freedom, judicial tyranny, resurrection of the "fairness doctrine," etc. It is why Queeg must ban dissent from his blog, since no one is allowed to freely discover truth, being that the incorrect truth might be discovered. Therefore, doctrinal truth must be enforced from on high. But at least Queeg is consistent, in that he is behaving just like the survival machine he claims to be.

The entire basis of our rationally ordered liberty is that we may freely appeal to a truth that transcends us. The absence of this arrangement results in hell, one way or the other. For a truly free soul to have to live, move, and think within the narrow constraints of Darwinism would be hell on earth -- like a kind of intellectual and spiritual gulag.

For blind faith in Darwinism results in a kind of violent spiritual dismemberment; these people are crawling around with limbs missing, an eye gouged out, deaf in one ear, for they cannot see, hear, or touch the divine. Now, I'm all for extending rights to the "challenged" in order to make their lives easier. Nevertheless, I don't go as far as the extremists who claim that a disability is an advantage -- for example, advocates for the deaf who are against the cochlear implant, or the "fat is beautiful" movement. For the same reason, we know that "Darwinists must be." But we shouldn't flatter them by calling them "intelligent," much less "wise." Rather, it is a spiritual infirmity. After all, they know far better than we do that they are not intelligently designed. (Again, I am speaking of the Darwinist metaphysician, not the mere intellectual worker bee who knows his limitations, especially if his biological research is in service to a higher ideal.)

Of necessity, Darwinism reduces the Subject to an object, i.e., spirit to matter. But as Polanyi explained, "if all knowledge includes the personal participation of the knower, then the ideal of strict detachment is false. And clearly, if this ideal is a false one, science and religion stand on similar grounds -- or better, they stand on a continuum, with one leading naturally to the other" (Mitchell).

Do you see the problem? Either the Subject is ontologically real and therefore able to arrive at truth, whether scientific, religious, aesthetic or moral; or, if it is reducible to matter, then it renders any kind of immutable truth a mere illusion. In short, what's bad for the religious nous is bad for the scientistic panderer.

Polanyi wrote that this kind of crude scientistic reductionism deprives "our image of man and the universe of any rational foundation. All men, scientists included, must seek and hold on to a reasonable view of the universe and of man's place in it. For acquiring this we must rely on a theory of knowledge which accepts indwelling as the proper way for discovering and possessing the knowledge of comprehensive entities. I believe also this may open up a cosmic vision which will harmonize with some basic teachings of Christianity."

Hey, no kidding! Polanyi continues:

The book of Genesis or the frescoes of Michaelangelo "remain a far more intelligent account of the nature and origin of the universe than the representations of the world as a chance collocation of atoms." Why more intelligent? Because the former view draws great significance from the fact that the world exists and that we may comprehend it, and that the whole existentialada is "linked to our own calling as the only morally responsible beings in the world"; whereas the scientistic view necessarily "denies any meaning to the world, and indeed ignores all our most vital experience of this world."

You see, life is not meaningless. It is an achievement. Likewise, real manhood -- not the mere genetic kind -- is an achievement. It is not conferred by the genes, but by transcending them. Just so, Alexander Solzhenitsyn achieved things of eternal worth on this temporal plane. His life was not just a case of genes looking out for their own interests, like the monsters who oppressed and tortured him, and whose only interest was power.

For two thousand years, philosophy and religion had held up before Western Europe the ideal figure of man, as man, and had claimed for it a supreme worth....

Biological science drew the conclusion that the destruction of individuals was the very means by which advance was made to higher types of species.... As applied to human society this theory is a challenge to the whole humanitarian movement.
--Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Ten Commandments of Koslings, Liztards, and Geeks

Saturday is higher gnostalgia day, in which we look forward to the arkive from two years ago and try to pluck out the blest of the bunch.

In rifling through August 2006, I see that much of it was taken up by a series entitled The Ten Commandments of Satan. Actually, satan never "commands," but only suggests, advises, and encourages. At any rate, this little exercise shows just how much celestial wisdom (not to mention esoteric and ontonoetic be-who) is packed into the Ten Commandments, and by extrapolation, how much evil and stupidity is propagated by the Koslings and Queeglings who would have us bow down to their little manmode idols. Each of the commandments of the secular left represents an inversion of the actual commandment, so that the world is turned upside-down and/or inside-out.

Rather than repost each of them, I think I'll condense them down and do two or three at a time. As always, there is new material added as the whim strikes.

*****

Satan’s first commandment is really just a reversal of the actual first commandment. Instead of “I am your God and you shall have no other gods before me,” the parallel looniverse of the secular left begins with “there is no Absolute and you shall be absolutely subject to the sacred relativities we have inserted in His place.”

Many implications follow from this initial inversion. In fact, reader Gumshoe touched on a number of them yesterday, quoting the author Eric Raymond. For example, “There is no truth, only competing agendas,” “All Western claims to moral superiority are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism,” and “There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.” Ironically, each of these is a false and repressive absolute disguised as a relativity. Their real purpose is to undermine and subvert the Absolute.

Reader Will also touched on this first commandment, noting that an intrinsic part of the secular left's agenda is to reduce Intellect (which is the means by which human beings may know Truth) to mind and mind to brain, making it a wholly material epiphenomenon. However, “Like any physical attribute, if the human intellect is not yoked to and governed by the Higher Intelligence, it runs amok and eventually goes crazy. It's taken some time to get there, but currently, the spiritually bereft intellect is basically in charge of most of the world's influential institutions, which of course means the world is in deep stew. As far as definitions of the Antichrist go, I think this would do OK.”

Precisely. Again, the secular left turns the cosmos upside down and inside out. As a result, instead of being conditioned in a hierarchical manner from the top down, it is conditioned from the bottom up. This results not in true liberation, only in rebellion and arbitrary pseudo-liberation, for there can be no meaningful freedom outside objective Truth.

The left rejects top-town hierarchies as intrinsically repressive, but the opposite is true -- only in being conditioned by the higher can we actually elevate and liberate ourselves from contingency and relativity. Are there repressive hierarchies? Of course. But almost all of them come from the left, in the form of various socialist schemes, or from Muslim fanatics, in the form of totalitarian Sharia law. America is an experiment in ordered liberty oriented toward an explicitly spiritual telos, not a satanic workshop to explore and celebrate the numberless cul-de-slacks of mere horizontal license.

The list of liberal icons and sacred cows is endless (indeed, they want to make one president), for the very reason that it partakes of time and not eternity -- of the many and not the One. I don’t know if anyone has really noticed, but the reason I entitled my book One Cosmos Under God is to emphasize the hierarchical nature of the cosmos, and the fact that the cosmos only makes sense because it is conditioned from the top down.

Although it is a banality to point out that we live in the relative, there is no such thing as the “absolutely relative” on pain of immediate self-refutation. The Absolute is anterior to the relative, whether conceived of as ground (at the base) or source (at the apex) of creation; it is actually both, resulting from the fact that the Absolute is necessarily both immanent and transcendent. For the same reason, the relative necessarily and inevitably contains degrees of being as it radiates from the center to the periphery, with the first and last degree known as “God.”

Now, the first five commandments govern man’s relationship to God, i.e., the vertical, while the second five govern man-to-man relations. However, these second five do not so much represent the horizontal as they do the vertical emanating downward and then radiating outward into all of creation, but especially toward other human beings. Thus, if, and only if, the commandments were actually followed by everyone, "thy will would be done," and it would be "on earth as it is in heaven."

Yesterday we discussed the secular leftist project of undermining the first commandment and replacing it with its counter-commandment (“there is no God, and we are his angry clowns”). This has the practical effect of turning the cosmos upside down and absolutizing the relative, thus shackling us in the Egypt of ontological Flatland. Sounds like a good deal, but in the end, you're going to be spiritually e-gypped. Big time.

The first commandment is actually a fractal that contains all of the others, so once you eliminate it, a host of disastrous implications follows in its wake: the reign of quantity, the tyranny of the horizontal, the subversion of truth, the devaluation of beauty, the perversion of real rationalism, and the loss of the quintessential categories of the holy and the sacred through which celestial energies radiate into our world. In short, hell on earth.

The reason why it is necessary to acknowledge the Absolute prior to the relative is that, in the absence of the Absolute, all transcendent values are bleached out and ultimately wiped away. Values can only exist in a hierarchy (i.e., some things are more precious and valuable than others), and any hierarchy is conditioned from top to bottom. There can be no higher or lower in an infinite horizontal wasteland. Rather, in such a case, the world is simply a brute fact, with nothing to spiritualize it. Matter is elevated to the “ultimate,” so that the world shrinks down to our most primitive way of knowing it. In fact, it is precisely because there are degrees within the relative that we may prove the Absolute, in that these degrees of relativity reflect the Absolute either more or less adequately.

Although Liztards and other narrow-souled secularists like to think that their's represents a sophisticated view of the world, in reality, no philosophy could be more provincial and monkey-bound. As Richard Weaver has noted, it substitutes facts for truth and logic for wisdom, elevating the world of the senses above the antecedent reality that can only be known by the intellect. Man becomes the center of authority, which makes him no authority at all, for God is the measure of man, just as man is the measure of the world.

The secular materialist attempts through endless induction to assemble the cosmos from the bottom up, but you can never get there from here. No one has ever even seen this thing called “cosmos,” and no one ever will. Rather, it is accepted on faith, as it is an inevitable shadow of its unitary creator. In other words, we all intuit that there is a strict totality of interacting objects and events because we were built to do so (unlike any other animal). To say “cosmos” is to say “God,” for God is the cosmos, even though the cosmos is not God. It is a "reflection" or "prolongation" of God, and therefore cannot help but to be One.

Haven’t you ever wondered why the cosmos is so beautiful? Why should it be? Why in the world should there be a category called “the beautiful?” Where is that beauty? Is it actually in the cosmos? Or is it only in us? If so, how did it get there, and what is its purpose?

In reality, beauty is another inevitable “residue” of its transcendent source, an exteriorization of the Universal Mind. To the extent that ugliness exists -- and it surely does -- it does not represent a fundamental reality but a deprivation of such. It is a measure of distance from the divine archetype, the full brunt of which reality could not bear. Thus we have degrees of beauty just as we have degrees of goodness and truth. And no one could plausibly argue that this beauty is perceived by the senses, but only by the uncreated intellect that mirrors it.

Two things that the uncorrupted mind cannot not know: that the world is intelligible and man is free. Take away either, and the world is simply an absurdity, a monstrosity, a mistake. For to say that we may know is equally to say that we are free, otherwise it is not knowledge at all. Knowledge proves freedom, freedom proves knowledge, and both prove the Creator, for the hierarchy of being disclosed by the free intellect leads back to its nonlocal source above.

Therefore, the second commandment follows logically from the first: you shall not turn the cosmos upside down and inside out and worship created things. There are, of course, many parallel injunctions in the Upanishads: “He alone is the reality. Wherefore, renouncing vain appearances, rejoice in him.” Because of our uncreated intellect, humans, and only humans, are able to discern between the Real and the apparent, maya and Brahman, the Absolute and the relative, the evolving and the immutable, the transient and the eternal, Raccoons and Liztards.

Behind the idolatrous secular impulse is a persistent, vulgar materialism that collapses the hierarchy of being and reduces the Absolute to some tangibly manifest idea or object that can be “contained” by the lower mind. But these are truly “mind games” for the childlike secularist, for no fragmented detail at the periphery of existence can explain the mysterious whole, much less the infinite interior center that represents its beating heart.

Life, for example, is not a function of DNA. Rather, the reverse is true. Likewise, consciousness is not a product of brains, but vice versa. For at the tip-toppermost of the poppermost, reality is sat-chit-ananda, or being-consciousness-bliss. Or so we have heard from the wise, from Petey, the merciful, the compassionate, the tendentious, the obnoxious!

“The universe is a tree eternally existing, its root aloft, its branches spread below.” So says the Katha Upanishad. We know that tree, for it is the same tree that appears in Genesis. It is a Tree of Life for those whose wood beleaf. For the grazing herdhearted woodenheads who wouldn't, they are the sap.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Scientism: Theology for the Brain Damaged (7.30.11)

As long as one clings to time, space, number and quantity, that person is on the wrong track and God is strange and far away. --Meister Eckhart

We couldn't be human if we didn't have something analogous to a left and right cerebral hemisphere, with very different ways of understanding the world and processing information. As I mentioned yesterday, I believe the reason we have a left and right brain is because we simultaneously mirror, and are mirrored by, the cosmos, which has both a horizontal and vertical structure.

Obviously science deals with the horizontal aspects of the world. It is linear, deterministic, past-to-future, bottom-up, etc. It also presumes the logical atomism that seems to be "common sense" for the left brain. That is, the universe consists of an infinite number of parts subject to various forces.

But the right brain isn't like this at all. Where the left brain is time oriented, the right brain sees things all at once. It is also inherently relational as opposed to atomistic. The right brain sees connections, whereas the left brain sees divisions. It is continuous where the left brain is discontinuous.

I recognize that is is rather simplistic, but even if it is only "in a manner of speaking," there is nevertheless much truth to it. Just as it is impossible to imagine a great poet, painter or musician without a highly developed and integrated right brain, it is inconceivable that one could be a great theologian, let alone, saint or mystic, without one.

Now, it is again a simplification, but it is safe to say that the left brain operates along the lines of asymmetrical logic, while the right brain is the realm of symmetrical logic. But no one, unless they are severely brain damaged, operates out of only one lobe, so there is always some degree of integration, although it can be relatively conscious and harmonious or unconscious and unharmonious. For example, much of the bonehead philosophy that emanates from scientism comes either from unacknowledged sympathies coming from the right brain, or a denial of its voice altogether. It sounds half-witted because it is.

It should be noted that in childhood the right brain develops in advance of the left, and that it has much deeper connections to the older parts of the brain such as the limbic system; as such, it is more "emotional," bearing in mind that emotions are a source of information, and that there can be both subtle and gross emotions, and even true and false ones.

As you may have noticed, much of spiritual development involves -- or is at least accompanied by -- a kind of "subtilization" of emotion, which is why it gets harder for you to tolerate being around the Barbarians. For example, although the sacred or holy are just as real as, say, matter -- actually, more so -- they obviously cannot be detected only by the senses, but in the heart, so to speak. In turn, this is why for the left, or for Queeg, nothing is sacred, except in an arbitrary or idiosyncratic way. They cluelessly steamroll over what is infinitely precious, like a child who gleefully smashes a cocoon to see what's inside. Like Queeg, they always confuse blasphemy with courage.

Now, one of the easiest ways to render scripture or Dylan's lyrics absurd is to approach them with the left brain of the scientistic mind. This is typically what the anti-religious bigots do, with great self-satisfaction, as if they are the first to notice that a literal reading of scripture is problematic. But if you approach the same passages with bi-logic, the problem usually disappears.

For example, what can it possibly mean that "Christ is in me" and that "I am in Christ"? From the standpoint of conventional logic, this is patently absurd, like saying that "I am in the Slacktuary" and that "the Slacktuary is in me." But from the standpoint of symmetrical logic, it not only makes perfect sense, but is a kind of logical corollary, if that is the correct word. That is, if Christ is in me, then I am necessarily in him. (Again, think of dream logic, in which contradictory statements can be equally true.)

Likewise, we all know that God is both radically transcendent, or "beyond everything," and intensely immanent, or "within everything." With conventional logic, these statements would be mutually exclusive, but from the standpoint of symmetrical logic, they are again complementary.

Speaking of complementarity, one wonders if some of the conundrums of physics cannot be reconciled in this manner. For example, from the standpoint of conventional logic, it is deeply problematic that the electron appears as either particle or wave, depending upon how one looks at it. In other words, it can either be an isolated part, or else a wave that shades off into the totality of existence. In the former sense, things are externally related and local, whereas in the latter sense they are internally related and nonlocal. This is a mystery to the left brain, but a banality to the right.

To extend the analogy a bit -- and again, bear in mind that I am drawing things out to their extremes in order to create a more vivid contrast -- much of the Bible is a primer on verticality. It simultaneously acquaints us with the vertical realm, while at the same time furnishes us with a vivid kind of language with which to think about and communicate it. This language was obviously quite effective for most of mankind's history. Indeed, it is perhaps difficult for modern sophisticates to understand how easily Christianity spread. People simply heard the story and said, "makes sense to me," and that was that.

But why did it make sense? The modern sophisticate will say that it had something to do with childlike naivete, or fear of death, or wishing to have a spurious sense of control over the environment. This may well be partly true, at least for the masses. But it is patently untrue if one reads the early fathers, whose thinking is enormously subtle and sophisticated, and still completely relevant to moderns, to say the least. But again, the whole key is to understand things -- or at least to supplement one's understanding -- with symmetrical logic.

(Review material ahead -- I slept late again, and I hear the boy waking up. Plus I woke up with low blood sugar, which always causes the brain to be a bit slow in rebooting. I had hoped to get into more specific examples from scripture that exemplify symmetrical logic, in particular, Genesis and some of the sayings of Jesus. Maybe tomorrow.)

In the Symmetry of God, Bomford notes that we cannot actually conceve of eternity, since it is both timeless and changeless, whereas linear thought naturally takes place in time. But we can grasp it through various analogies in the herebelow, for example, the "everlasting," which "provides the closest image of the timeless within time." Therefore, we gain a sense of timelessness in proximity to things that are very old, like a European cathedral, or the Pyramids, or Larry King -- anything "whose beginning is lost in the mists of time, the ancient and the ageless, for these approximate in feeling to the everlasting."

At the same time, at the other end of the extreme, we may also glimpse the eternal in the passing moment, "for such a thing is simultaneously whole and unchanging -- it has no time in which to change.... It is there in its fullness -- and it is gone again." Thus, a mystic such as William Blake could see eternity in a flower or grain of sand, just as Lileks can see it in an old matchbook or motel postcard.

Eternity can also be suggested "by the last event of a series." Bomford cites the example of an aging travel-writer "who had long before visited many places for the first time, and returned often, found a renewed significance in returning once more deliberately for the last time. Places regained the freshness of the first visit." Similarly, "the last words of the dying may be seen as a key to an understanding of a whole life. The last of the series completes the picture, ends the story, and thus hints at the instantaneous wholeness of eternity."

Think "it is accomlished." What was? Oh, I don't know, maybe a little bridge between time and eternity in the heart of the cosmos, making each moment an eternal new year where death touches Life and the former is tranfsigured by the latter.

Every December 31, we touch the edge of eternity, as we approach the "end" of one year and the "beginning" of another -- the uniting of old and new, as they are joined at midnight. The Book of Revelation captures this quality, only on a cosmic scale, when the enthroned Christ "announces himself as The First and the Last and the Lord God himself is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end." Similarly, St. Augustine "addressed God as 'Thou Beauty, both so ancient and so new,'" an expression of eternity which has a deep unconscious resonance.

Traditional metaphysics always makes a distinction between the God-being and the God-beyond-being -- between the personal God that can be named and thought about and the Supreme Reality that is beyond name and form. The former is the cataphatic God about whom we may talk, debate and theologize in a somewhat linear way, while the latter is the apophatic God that so utterly transcends our categories that the most we can say about it is what it is not. Various formulations are "fingers pointing at the moon," and although they are "doorways" into the divine mystery, one should not mistake the finger for the moon.

Most rank-and-file religious people have never heard of the God-beyond-being and might even be offended by the idea. They have a clear conception of what God is like, and don't want to be reminded that the real unconditioned God blows away those mental idols like a tornado through a Buddhist sand painting convention... which, by the way, is the whole point of a sand painting.

This distinction between the God-being and God-beyond-being is actually a distinction within God himself, and perhaps mirrors the distinction within us between symmetrical and asymmetrical logic. It is not a bobmade principle, but one that would be intrinsic to the inner life of the godhead. It is easy to prove that it exists, more problematic to prove that we or anything else can exist outside it. As a matter of fact, the God-beyond-being is the only thing that cannot not be, although numerous implications immediately follow. Ultimately it is the distinction between Brahman and maya, between reality and appearance, between absolute and relative, between necessary and contingent.

This brings up an interesting point. That is, does God have divine mind parasites?

Oh yes. I’m afraid so. For what is a mind parasite in the final analysis? It is a relativity that partakes of, and confuses itself with, absoluteness. God being God, he cannot help being present in all relativities. But being God, he cannot help being beyond them as well. A divine mind parasite is a relativity that steals from the absolute and then forces itself upon others absolutely. In short it is a demon. Like everything else, it must ultimately be "of God," even though it can't be. Only symmetrical logic can reconcile such a problem. Evil must needs be, but woe to the man who commits it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Transcendent Position and its Three Brains

Let's flesh out this idea that my right brain agrees with the non-evolutionism of Schuon, while my left brain agrees with the cosmic evolutionary view of Aurbobindo/Teilhard. Is there a way to combine the two into a "higher third?" And, if so, might this not be the whole freaking point? For if thine brain be single, thy whole mind shall be full of light.

In the past, I have posted many times on the theories of Ignacio Matte Blanco, who was a major influence on my thinking. Along with Bion, he is probably the most far-reaching psychoanalytic thinker, in such a way that he far transcends psychoanalysis. Among other things, he drew out the implications of the unconscious mind, allowing one to fruitfully think about a number of pesky metaphysical problems in new ways.

I just looked him up on wikipedia and was surprised to see that there is actually a short entry:

"Ignacio Matte Blanco was a Chilean psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who developed a rule-based structure for the unconscious which allows us to make sense of the non-logical aspects of thought. Matte Blanco suggested that our thinking combines conventional logic with a different, symmetrical logic in varying degrees, and he named this combination 'bi-logic.' He studied Freud's five characteristics of the unconscious and deduced that if the unconscious has consistent characteristics it must have rules, or there would be chaos.

"However the nature of the characteristics indicate that the rules differ from conventional logic. In The Unconscious as Infinite Sets, Matte Blanco proposes that the structure of the unconscious can be summarised by the principle of Generalisation and the principle of Symmetry. Under the principle of Generalisation the unconscious perceives individual objects as members of classes or sets which are in turn grouped into more general classes. This is compatible with conventional logic. The discontinuity is introduced by the principle of Symmetry, under which relationships are treated as symmetrical, or reversible. For example an asymmetrical relationship, X is greater than Y, becomes reversible so that Y is simultaneously greater than X.

"The principle of Symmetry is clearly outside of conventional logic, consequently Matte Blanco suggests that this alternative logic be called symmetrical logic."

It is difficult for me to discuss this subject without getting pedantic, which I would like to avoid. Rather, I would prefer to operate in my customary mode of free-wheeling vulgarization. I also hate to repeat myself. Nevertheless let me quickly search the blog for "Matte Blanco," and see if there is anything useful for our present purposes...

Yes. Here is some material that will set the stage; there's so much of it, that this post may end up being something of a review, otherwise it will just get too long.

Matte Blanco begins with Freud's model of the unconscious, which is characterized by 1) eternity (or timelessness), 2) spacelessness, 3) symbolism, 4) non-contradiction, and 5) non-distinction between imagination and reality.

However, Matte Blanco, who was also a mathematician, realized that these characteristics were necessary consequences of the kind of logic employed by the unconscious mind, which is to say, symmetrical logic. You might say that this is the logic of the timeless world of eternity, whereas Aristotelian ("asymmetrical") logic only applies to the more limited temporal world, which is a subset of the former. (Which, now that I think about it, is consistent with Robert Rosen's idea that biology is more general than physics, but that is a subject for a different post.)

For example, in the asymmetrical world, it is not possible for two objects to occupy the same space. But in the unconscious mind? No problemo . There, your husband can be your mother, a government can be a bountiful breast, President Bush can be Hitler, or, as Queeg demonstrates on a daily basis, a good Christian or Jew can be an Islamic terrorist.

Likewise, in the unconscious mind, "time travel" is as easy as falling off a log, or Queeg's blog falling off. One of the most vivid clinical cases I've seen of this involved a man who had been shot in the abdomen in an attempted robbery about a decade before. He thought he had forgotten all about it, until one day at work a couple of coworkers decided to play a practical joke on him. One of them aimed a metal tube at him, as if he were holding a rifle. The other coworker slapped together a couple of two-by-fours, creating a loud cracking noise that happened to sound just like gunfire.

The patient reacted just as if he had been shot. He looked down and literally saw blood flowing from his abdomen. He became agitated, and an ambulance had to be called. He was actually taken to the ER, and only after being given a strong anxiolytic did "the past" recede from the present, like an unconscious wave pulling back from the shore of the conscious mind. But for 30 to 45 minutes, the past and present were completely interpenetrating, pulling him down into an infinite terror.

This is simply a vivid example of what happens to us all on a moment-to-moment basis. The past and present are constantly -- and necessarily -- conflated on a deep unconscious level, which accounts for so much of the richness of being. But it also accounts for virtually all psychopathology, which you might say consists not of unpleasant memories that we recall, but unpleasant memories which recall us. [I might add that mind parasites always partake of symmetrical logic, which is why they are impossible to eliminate with mere reason; they "hide out" in the right brain, something that has actually been empirically confirmed, c.f. the works of Allan Schore.]

I'm sure you've all felt the bottomless and unending nameless dread at some point in your life. When I was younger I used to feel it from time to time in the middle of the night. I'd wake up and feel as if all my familiar psychological landmarks had vanished, so to speak. Instead, I was wrapped -- or "unwrapped," actually -- in the eternal silence of the infinite spaces, as Pascal called it -- "the infinite immensity of spaces of which I know nothing and which know nothing of me."

Naturally, it felt like an "external" space, but it was in internal space merely projected outward. In reality, there is no outer space, only inner space projected. A lot of people who are obsessed with extra-terrestrial life are merely inside-out psychoanalysts, treating fantasized objects as if they come from the outside rather than the inside.

In hindsight, it is also obvious to me now how my very first heartbreak at 17 reasonated in an infinite way with the loss of Eden that Robin was discussing the other day. I wasn't just alone, but infintely so. Furthermore, I always would be. Thank God for Joseph Coors, who was there when I needed him.

Usually, the deeper the emotion, the more it partakes of symmetrical logic (what would love be if it weren't "forever and ever, amen"?). For example, Matte Blanco noticed that a large part of the pain of psychosis is that emotions are raised to a kind of infinite fever pitch. Imagine my little night-terror occurring 24/7, with no way to stop it. Each moment is a calamitous novelty, completely beyond your control. Even if you've had a single panic attack, you can get a sense of this "bad infinite," which is boundless and unending. This is why some psychiatric patients slash themselves or put cigarette burns into their skin -- anything to end the nameless dread and bring them back into contact with the boundaries of time and space. Finite physical pain is far preferable to infinite emotional pain. (BTW, I also notice this with my son, whom I love so much "I can't stand it"; perhaps I should try burning some cigarets on my arm.)

The logic of the symmetrical unconscious helps explains the angry left. To anyone who is not participating in their group fantasy, one can see how absurdly overblown their fears are, whether it is global warming hysteria, "civil rights," or Queeg's fear of Christians and Jews. But it all makes sense in the deep unconscious. Because of its symmetrical nature, that which you deeply hate is deeply frightening. The more you hate or fear it, the more powerful it becomes, until it is equated with the all-powerful and all-evil. (Might this not be the deeper meaning of "turn the other cheek"?)

The conscious mind, because of its asymmetry, is able to discern sharp differences, whereas the unconscious mind ignores -- or transcends -- distinctions and sees deep similarities. Obviously this has an important function that is vital to psychological health and happiness. But both processes can go haywire. For example, Queeg notices that Islamists and Christians or Jews all believe in some form of Creation, therefore on an unconscious level they are identical. Only the "sameness" is seen, not the vast and irreconcilable differences. Or, it is possible to enforce conscious distinctions in an illogical way, for example, between the nature of our fascist enemies in WWII and our fascist enemies today. There the left sees distinctions where it should see the similarities.

It is easy to see how asymmetrical logic can go awry, as demonstrated on a daily basis by our scientistic mascot. In one sense, yes, science is "true." But from the standpoint of total reality, it obviously cannot possibly be true. Rather, it is merely a left-brain abstraction from the totality of being, the latter of which may only be known by the right brain, since it has access to a mode of thinking that is much deeper than mere language. You might say that science, if wrenched from the mystery of being, automatically becomes a perversion. Just so, scripture reduced to a left-brain narrative can also become a perversion.

In the past, I've posted on the book The Symmetry of God by Rodney Bomford, which applies Matte Blanco's ideas to God and religion. I can't say that I recommend this book without reservation, first because it is kind of expensive for a relatively short book, and second, because the author is a bit too liberal for my tastes. That is, he comes very close to reducing scripture only to a sort of allegorical or mythological language that is understood by the right brain, a la Jung.

That is definitely not what I am saying. Rather, I am saying that scripture reveals deeper realities that can only be decoded and understood by symmetrical logic. Bomford might say that things like scripture and poetry exist because we happen to have a right brain. I am saying the opposite: that we have a right brain because man is a microcosmos who mirrors the totality, and in order to accomplish that, we must possess both modes functioning "to the hilt" in a harmoniously interacting manner. As we shall see later, my whole point is that there is a "transcendent position" that arises from the dialectic between left and right brains, or more to the point, a higher synthesis of symmetrical and assymetrical logic.

With that caveat in mind, I found that Bomford had some incredibly useful things to say about symmetrical logic and its relation to God, and about how we may meaningfully communicate about something that vastly exceeds the limits of language. The book attempts to resolve the issue of literalism vs. reductionism. That is to say, it is for someone who "neither clings rigidly to the literal truth of every word of the Bible, nor on the other hand reduces the faith by rejecting most of what the past has believed to be central." This interdisciplinary spirit allows one to be a believer and still engage with the same world as those outside the faith. In fact, without this engagement, one will inevitably create a sort of intellectual ghetto for oneself. But there is no reason whatsoever that one cannot build sturdy and robust bridges between religion and any other discipline, which was obviously the whole point of my own book. There should be no intrinsic barrier between religion and the most up-to-date science.

As mankind has evolved, we have become increasingly aware of the internal world of consciousness itself. Religion has followed this trend, which is why the further back in history you travel, the more religion tends to be dominated by an externalizing tendency (of course, there have always been individual exceptions). Today, if you ask the average person where God is encountered, they will likely respond "within myself." In other words, they do not believe that they are literally going to visit God in the church or temple -- although our consciousness of God is surely "focussed," so to speak, in certain proscribed areas and rituals. But when we attend a service, engage in a ritual, meditate, pray, or purchase an indulgence from Petey, we are obviously attempting to heighten our consciousness of God, are we not?

But what do we know about consciousness? What is it? Or, to put it another way, what can consciousness know of itself?

Bomford begins with what amounts to a truism, that our conscious self -- or ego -- is situated in a much larger area of consciousness as such, much of which goes by the name "unconscious." This is a misleading term, since the unconscious is not unconscious, just not fully available to the ego; obviously, the totality of consciousness cannot be circumscribed by the little ego.

Traditionally, psychoanlaysts have imagined a sort of horizontal line, with the ego above and the unconscious below. But I believe a more accurate mental image would be an island surrounded by water on all sides, or like a point within a sphere (which is itself multidimensional). I would also argue that consciousness is not linear but holographically structured, so that the unconscious is not spatially above or below, but within consciousness (somewhat analogous to God, who is both immanent and transcendent, the deepest within and the furthest beyond of any "thing" that partakes of Being).

Furthermore, we must abandon the idea that the unconscious is merely an uncivilized repository of repressed mind parasites and other troubling forces and entities. That is surely part of the picture, but only part. For example, Grotstein writes of the unconscious as a sort of alter-ego, or “stranger within” that shadows our existence in a most intimate, creative, and mysterious way. Far from being “primitive and impersonal” (although it obviously includes primitive, lower vertical elements as well), it is “subjective and ultra-personal,” a “mystical, preternatural, numinous second self” characterized by “a loftiness, sophistication, versatility, profundity, virtuosity, and brilliance that utterly dwarf the conscious aspects of the ego.” (In other words, it is more like an analogue of O; if I could reproduce the symbol, it would be a small o within O, or "uh oh.")

The production of a dream, for example, "is a unique and mysterious event, an undertaking that requires an ability to think and to create that is beyond the capacity of conscious human beings.... [D]reams are, at the very least, complex cinematographic productions requiring consummate artistry, technology, and aesthetic decision making.... [D]reams are dramatic plays that are written, cast, plotted, directed, and produced and require the help of scenic designers and location scouts, along with other experts.... I am really proposing the existence of a profound preturnatural presence whose other name is the Ineffable Subject of Being, which itself is a part of a larger holographic entity, the Supraordinate Subject of Being and Agency."

Now, this is what I meant when I referred to Kepler's songs appealing to my right brain, as they might more accurately be described as "Kepler's Dreams" -- which can be said of any "prophet." In my view, a real prophet is simply someone who has truly mastered the "transcendent position," and can speak the rich and resonant language of the higher third.

Oy, this post is getting entirely too long, isn't it? A little bit more:

Religion provides an extremely sophisticated language through which we may speak of the Absolute, the eternal, the immutable. Remember, eternity is not time everlasting, but timelessness. As I explained in my book, time is a function of eternity. In fact, the two are dialectically related, and one is not possible without the other. However, our surface ego, or frontal personality, gives us the illusion that only time exists.

Yet, we always have intuitions of the eternal ground from which the events of time perpetually arise and return. Religion is a way of acknowledging and talking about this, of giving form and substance to this more primary ground of timelessness. It is where we came from before birth and where we are headed after death, only it is present in every now. In fact, now is the only place eternity is or has ever been.

Recall that when God reveals his name to Moses, he says that it is, "I AM THAT I AM." Not I was, or I will be, but I AM. When you think about it, there is something very mysterious about this "I" and this "AM." As a matter of fact, there is no science or philosophy that can even begin to account for them or explain what they actually are. They are ultimate categories of thought that mere conventional logic can never penetrate. As it so happens, this "I" and "AM" are the slots in the cosmos where eternity comes pouring into time consciously.

Similarly, what did Jesus say? "Before Abraham was, I AM." Also, the Upanishads speak of this in many ways: "aham asmi" (I AM), or "so ham asmi" ("I am he"). The Tao Te Ching too: "Since before time and space were, the Tao is. It is beyond is and is not. How do I know this is true? I look inside myself and see."

Or, in Petey's thirdspeak: Cut me down to sighs. Too old, older than Abraham, too young, young as a babe's I AM. Brahmasmi the Truth. The whole Truth. Nothing but the Truth. So ham, me God.

Again I apologize for all this dreary review, but we do have a number of new regulars, so it might be worthwhile to get them up to speed on some of the Raccoon basics.