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Tuesday, November 11, 2008
At the Innersection of Broadway and Sunset (11.23.11)
The next thing I'd like to discuss about the Death card is UF's account of what I refer to as (↑) and (↓) in my book. Both arrows are necessary for spiritual development, and various forms of heresy emphasize one to the exclusion of the other. But that's like emphasizing inspiration over expiration. It just won't work. In fact, you'll die.
Emphasis on (↑) alone leads to the construction of a "Tower of Babel." Emphasis on (↓) alone leads to the fatalism of Islamic world, or the belief in grace alone in the absence of works.
There are many contemporary spiritual approaches that emphasize the (↑), probably because they are too sophisticated to believe in God, and therefore grace, and therefore (↓). But they believe in "evolution," so they just apply it to the vertical, as if they may "will" their own transformation. I think I can sum up the entire "integral" movement with a single photo:
Is that unfair? You tell me. Nothing personal. I'm just trying to make some lighthearted fun in a petty and mean-spirited way. All I can say is that if I saw that huckster on my property, I'd call the cops, not sit down to tea... or Red Bull and tofu chips. He strikes me as the quintessence of (↑) to the exclusion of (↓) -- you know, Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement. Live with Passion!: Stategies for Creating a Compelling Future.
Appalling. What a hideous pneumapath. But I suppose the oily snakesmen will always be with us, trying to put the bite on a new generation of rubes. Frankly, I find more wisdom in a single sentence of Bob (the real Bob, not the cheap imitation who blogs here).
Is that unfair? You tell me. I'm not trying to be a flame throwing blog-hard, just disinterestedly describing what I see with my own three eyes.
Even if "successful," the purely (↑) approach represents a catastrophic failure, for it is a kind of terrestrial victory at the cost of celestial death.
As UF describes it, this amounts to "the decision to remain remote from the Father. And it is precisely this which is death in a divine sense. Complete crystallization is therefore complete death from the divine point of view..." It is the fulfillment of the promise of the serpent, which is that "You will live remote from God and it will be I who shall attend to the uninterrupted continuation of your life in the horizontal, for I shall make up for the lack of divine wisdom and love by replacing them with the intellect and with psycho-physical electricity, which will be the source of your life."
Yes, says the serpent, I shall AWAKEN THE GIANT WITHIN! and give you UNLIMITED POWER!
UF makes a subtle point that the way of Christianity promises not just Life over Death, but Life over life -- horizontal life. The way of Tony Robbins promises horizontal life over life, which amounts to Death on stilts. The lessons of Genesis are not abstract or remote, but extremely practical and experience-near. In order to make the lesson more vivid, when you read of the serpent, perhaps you should imagine a snake with Tony Robbins' head. The horror....
The whole point of Christianity is the victory of the vertical over the horizontal, not a pseudo-victory of horizontal over horizontal. It is the victory "of radiation over crystallization." Which reminds me of the narrator's last line of Sunset Boulevard, which I watched again last night: Life, which can be strangely merciful, had taken pity on Norma Desmond. The dream she had clung to so desperately had enfolded her... (Crystallization is synonymous with enfoldment.)
That is such a brilliant film. Now that I think about it, it is all about crystallization, or about death in life. For that is what Norma is: a living death, which is again a monster. She no longer radiates as a "star," but is completely self-enfolded in her living death.
The film is even narrated by a dead man, who shares his sardonic insights: "There's nothing tragic about being fifty. Not unless you're trying to be twenty-five." "You don't yell at a sleepwalker -- he may fall and break his neck. That's it: she was still sleepwalking along the giddy heights of a lost career." "How could she breathe in that house full of Norma Desmonds? Around every corner, Norma Desmonds... more Norma Desmonds... and still more Norma Desmonds." Trying to stop the aging process doesn't really make you younger. Rather, it turns you into a corpse. It is not life, but death-resistance.
The dead chimp at the beginning is highly symbolic, for that is what a human being is in the absence of the Divine. Norma says, "I'd like the coffin to be white, and I want it specially lined with satin. White... or pink. Maybe red! Bright flaming red! Let's make it gay!"
Even the name: Sunset Boulevard. Not only does it convey the dying of the light, but in case you don't live here, Sunset Boulevard is a street that starts in bowels of Los Angeles, makes its way through Beverly Hills, and empties to the sea.
Getting sidetracked. Let us follow UF's advice: "let us no longer seek amongst the dead for he who is living, and above all let us not seek for immortal Life in the domain of death."
The spiritual ascent is everywhere the same, and always consists of purification, illumination, and union; or rejection, aspiration, and surrender. "This is the eternal way, and no one can invent or find another," not even Tony Robbins and Ken Wilber combined.
Yes, as UF says, you can divide and subdivide it "into thirty-three stages -- or even into ninety-nine," but it always comes back to that same dynamic and interlocking trinity that takes place on a moment-by-moment basis, for purification is illumination -- or consciousness of a Divine reality -- and union with the Divine Will. Likewise, illumination is purification of the intellect and union with the Divine Mind. And union is a purified heart, which is now the center of one's thought and being.
Or, to turn it around, "a non-illuminated gnostic would not be a gnostic, but rather an 'oddball'; a non-illuminated mage would be only a sorceror; and a non-illuminated philosopher would be either a complete skeptic or an amateur at 'intellectual play.'"
The Death Cult and its Strange Nasolabial Gods (11.22.11)
High seriousness about [Wodehouse] brings to mind poor Professor Scully. This professor's attempt, in 1902, to describe a smile scientifically was quoted by Richard Usborne in his fine book Wodehouse at Work. Scully doggedly dissected "the drawing back and slight lifting of the corners of the mouth, which partially uncover the teeth, the curving of the naso-labial furrows".... Such an approach is not actively harmful, but it suffers from naso-labianism -- leaving the mystery of Wodehouse's genius intact.--Code of the Woosters (preface)
We're still in the middle of that old card, Death. UF properly relates the grim ferryman to mechanism and materialism, which are "not at all the realm of answers, but rather the graveyard for real questions." In other words, to embrace scientistic reductionism as a metaphysic (as opposed to a method) is to live as zombie. You're not really alive. You're just undead.
For example, just ask a typical victim of reductionosis -- as Julie attempted to do -- what a smile is. A purely horizontal person could in good faith respond that it involves "the contraction of muscles in the region of the mouth and cheeks, and this latter through electrical impulses transmitted through the nerves from the centre called the 'brain.'" But this would be like trying to understand a telephone conversation by analyzing the electrical impulses that pass within the wires. The most complete analysis will necessarily be completely inadequate. Such an approach hardly explains the smile, but simply provides the occasion for a metasmile.
The same is obviously true of the mind/brain relationship. Smiling is a manifestation of joy, or humor, or bemusement, which "set in motion both the muscles of the mouth and the electrical impulses of the nerves." As I mentioned somewhere in the book, every reductionistic explanation harbors a cognitively pathological dualism that results in one side of the dualism spilling over into the other side.
In other words, like a psychotic patient, the materialist's explanation is always put forth by that which is denied in the explanation. Making a question go away is not the same as having answered it. As UF points out, the question remains, but it is simply shifted from the conscious to the unconscious mind.
If you ever want to know why so called "rational" people believe in such weird things -- global warming, Obama worship, the designated hitter -- this is why. They descend into a kind of chaotic and disorganized form of unconscious thinking, because you can no more make the unconscious go away than you can make the sympathetic nervous system go away. All you can do is discipline and channel it, the same way you create electricity from a wild river.
You don't make the Colorado River go away. You build a damn, which is to say, a boundary condition, which harnesses the "lower" in order to allow for an emergent "higher." If I were a reductionist, perhaps I might say that this post is being typed on a computer, which is plugged into a socket, which is powered by Hoover Dam, which is just a big wall with holes in it, which is why this post is ultimately all wet.
Now, one of my main beefs with psychoanalysis is that it does a fine job of describing the lower vertical, but at the same time, tries to reduce the upper vertical to the lower. Only a handful of psychoanalysts don't do this, Bion being among them. With him, you retain all of the vast explanatory power of psychoanalysis without infringing upon the upper vertical, the domain of religion, mysticism, gnosis and magic.
As I mentioned above, the materialistic thinker always ends up unwittingly mired in a dark swamp of unconscious thinking. One of the purposes of religion is to provide a luminous framework for fruitfully thinking about -- or within -- the upper vertical. And in fact, it also does a fine job of structuring the lower vertical -- or at least it used to.
I'm thinking of all the extraordinary wisdom embodied, say, in the Talmud or in classical elucidations of the cardinal virtues and deadly sins. A while back we did a series on the esoteric meaning of the Ten Commandments. Same idea. Just as there is such a thing as a healthy body -- obviously -- there is also such a thing as a healthy soul and spirit. But if you deny the soul and spirit up front, then if you remain spiritually healthy, it will be by accident, not design.
So many decent morons of the left hypocritically retain "religious habits" with no religious belief. For example, they insist that marriage is sacred -- so sacred, in fact, that we should extend it to people for whom it is strictly impossible to be married, thereby undermining its very definition (which again, is only in the vertical; to reduce marriage to some sort of purely horizontal arrangement is to destroy it -- as well as the sacred itself).
It's analogous to saying, "eating salad is healthy. So healthy, in fact, that I will place my cat on a strict diet of fresh vegetables." Good logic. Wrong species. Which pretty much sums up the left. It reminds me of a great line from the Gary Shandling show, when his bitter agent says "our job would be so easy if it weren't for fucking talent." Leftism would be so great if if weren't for fucking humans! Humans are the problem. So let's give them more power over us!
Most people don't have the time or ability to be metaphysicians, which is one of the practical blessings of religion. If you eliminate religion, you'll just usher in bad metaphysics.
This is the true meaning of the culture war. The United States used to be one culture with two political parties. The two parties basically represented different groups of interests with the same underlying culture. But beginning in the 1960s, the Democrat party started to represent a new culture, which is not American, for American culture is rooted in Judeo-Christian principles, among other things. All culture is rooted in the cult, which is the "interior glue" that holds a people together and makes them "brothers."
Which leads us to ask: what is the interior glue that holds the nasolabians of the left together? What is the common interest, say, of the corrupt labor leader, the abortion activist, the dysfunctional Teachers' Union, and the homosexual agenda? What is their common cult? Who is the god to whom they all make their sacrifice?
I'll let you answer that question. UF makes the point that our vertical freedom is a miracle, by which he means something that transcends any purely mechanistic explanation. You might say that everything that isn't either chaotic or mechanical is a miracle, i.e., a vertical intervention.
And because of our freedom, we can see that the higher illumines the lower, not vice versa. In other words, in the absence of freedom, we could not know truth, because truth would be reduced to a kind of mechanical operation that excludes us, precisely. So, to say "truth" is to say "freedom" is to say "spirit" is to say "miracle":
"The minimum is only the reduced maximum and it is through the maximum that one understands the minimum, and not vice versa. It is consciousness which renders the mechanical and unconscious comprehensible, the latter being only consciousness reduced to a minimum, not vice versa. It is man who is the key to the biological evolution of Nature and not the primitive organic cell."
The point is, it is the most complete and final form that "illumines and explains the previous stages." Which is why man explains evolution, not vice versa. But what explains Man? Or is that too obvious?
A chewy repost to repast upon, now with added poetic fiber...
"Niebuhr was right,” said Goethe, “when he saw a barbarous age coming. It is already here, we are in it, for in what does barbarism consist, if not in the failure to appreciate what is excellent?”
One of the “cult classics” of the modern conservative movement (which, ironically, is a century newer than modern progressivism, which begins way back with Marx) is Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, by Albert Jay Nock, first published in 1943. While there is a cheery and optimistic school of conservatism embodied in people such as Ronald Reagan and Rush Limbaugh, there is also a more pessimistic, even resigned, school of thought expressed by writers such as Nock, Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, and T.S. Eliot.
In each of these men, there is a painful awareness of what we have already lost and can seemingly never regain. The former school is more forward looking and progressive, the latter more backward looking, romantic, and nostalgic. But it is a "spiritual" -- which is to say vertical -- gnostalgia, meaning that, on another level, it is a "memoir of the future," or a longing for the "changeless change" mentioned by Will in a comment yesterday. Eliot's earlier poems -- the ones leftists love -- are deeply pessimistic, while the later ones -- the ones that embarrass or befuddle secular critics -- attempt to convey this changeless change, which cannot be understood outside the context of a religious sensibility.
For example, Eliot's first major poem after his conversion to Christianity was Ash-Wednesday (1930). It goes a little like this:
Because I do not hope to turn again / Because I do not hope / Because I do not hope to turn / Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope / I no longer strive towards such things / (Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?) / Why should I mourn / The vanished power of the usual reign?
Good question. Why should we? Interestingly, a uni-verse is "one turn." Eliot expresses a hopeless hope that he will cease turning, which very much reminds me of the metaphysics of Denys the Areopagite. From a vertical perspective, the "one turn" of the universe consists of God's immamentizing "procession" into creation, followed by the return of everything back to its divine source. If one lives within that vertical stream, it is a kind if changeless-change, like sailing on a vast sea with no markers to tell you exactly where are. Or, the markers are like clouds that streak by your window in an airplane. When the relative becomes properly relative, the Absolute comes into view. This is how Denys conceptualized it:
"Thus, the soul is turning together with the movement of God and his universe (from Latin uni-versus, 'one turn'). In her return back to Him, she turns with His own turning, she dances with Him in His thearchic dance, meaning a dancing around of the three hypostases [persons]. The Latin-writing Fathers used the expression 'circumincession'" (Wm. Riordan).
Elsewhere Riordan notes that the "divine yearning shows especially its unbeginning and unending nature traveling in an endless circle through the Good, from the Good, in the Good and to the Good, unerringly turning, ever on the same center, ever in the same direction, always proceeding, always remaining, always being restored to itself."
It was this knowa's ark of salvation and eternal "circle of redemption" that I was attempting to convey with the circular structure of my book, which you might say is "enstatically ecstatic." If you don't know about the circle, it hardly matters that you live your life upside down. Just now I was playing with future leader, and he was showing me the directions to a toy. The directions where upside down. I turned them rightside up, at which point their meaning suddenly emerged. But for him, it's all the same. For him, when shown the truth, "nothing happens." Just like our childlike scientistic jester.
Anyway, back to the old post. Nock was a spokesman for what he called the “Remnant." He wrote not for the uneducated -- much less the hopelessly overeducated, i.e., the tenured -- but for the "educable few,” the enlightened minority who “simply want to get at the plain truth of things.” For while we all know that the illiterate cannot read, that doesn't mean the literate can. Far from it. How many intellectuals actually know how to read the Bible? We should never confuse knowing psychology, or history, or religion, with understanding it. Most any ignoramus can be trained to become a university professor. Which is not to say that all professors are idiots, but that all idiots are ignorant of their ignorance and therefore halfway to tenure.
“You do not know, and will never know, who the remnant are, nor where they are, nor how many there are, nor what they are doing or will do. Two things you know, and no more; first, that they exist; and second, that they will find you.” You know, through the nonlocal attractor, which has local branches and arteries everywhere and when. It's always possible to "plug into" the gnostic grid, even in the most unsalutary coonfinement.
Of course, Nock wrote in the days before the internet, when it was more of a challenge to find each other. While there are not many of us, it is interesting that, just as soon as I hung up my cyber-shingle, we found each other. Naturally, this can never be a mass movement, so we, the Remnant, are placed in the awkward position of having to hitch our wagons to such odious and disreputable institutions as the Republican Party, but only because it is preferable to outright satan worship -- sometimes by a slim margin.
You know you are a member of the Remnant if you realize that a genetic man is merely the raw material for a human being; which is naturally to acknowledge that he is precious in his own way. But we proceed “first with the more obscure and difficult work of clearing and illuminating our own mind, and second, with what occasional help we may offer to others whose faith, like our own, is set more on the regenerative power of thought than on the uncertain achievements of premature action....”
Members of the Remnant “are everywhere; everywhere they are not so much resisting as quietly eluding and disregarding all social pressure which tends to mechanize their processes of observation and thought.” You might say that the Remnant is an order of Cosmic Raccoons “unassociated in any formal way, living singly or nearly so, and more or less as aliens, in all classes of our society...” Yes, you are a member of the vertical aristocracy, but you don’t make a big deal out of it.
Conservatism can be difficult to define, but William F. Buckley once characterized it as a paragon of essences towards which the phenomenology of the world is a continuing approximation. In other words, conservatism is a form of philosophical realism that appreciates that there is a source of truth higher than, and independent of, human beings -- an antecedent reality that can be perceived only by the awakened intellect, not the senses. (Which is why Queeg, for example, could never really be called a conservative.)
But for the postmodern barbarians of horizontal progressivism, the apparent exhausts the Real, which is why it is so fruitless to argue with its adherents. It is literally like arguing over the merits of Beethoven’s late string quartets with a dog, except that the worst dog nevertheless retains a noble instinct for adoration of its spiritual better, even if it cannot articulate the reasons for doing so.
I would add that this anterior noumenal reality is paradoxically the source, center, and destination of the phenomenal world. It is the cosmogonic vertical order, or principial reality, which it is the task of religious metaphysics to symbolically reveil and disclose, and spiritual practice to align ourselves with.
Thus, conservatism is progressive to the core, except that progress is measured in terms of fidelity to this divine-human template. In fact, this is the only meaningful definition of progress, because you cannot judge how well a thing is working in the absence of the goal it is trying to achieve.
What currently goes by the name of “progressivism” is a diabolical doctrine that defines vertical progress out of existence. It abolishes the real world of transcendent essences and measures progress in wholly horizontal terms, in relationship to that most fleeting, transient, and ungovernable of human modalities, desire. Thus, to the extent that there is a gap between the world and my wishes -- the way it is and the way I want it to be -- there is a frustrating lack of "progress." This is to live as an entitled child. In fact, to enter the kingdom of progressivism, one must "become as spoiled children, asking their Father for more stuff."
At the first turning of the second stair / I turned and saw below / The same shape twisted on the banister / Under the vapour in the fetid air / Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears / The deceitful face of hope and of despair --Eliot
As such, the need for horizontal progress is infinite, in conformity with the combustible mixture of envy and imagination in the passive and somnolent Exterior Man. This in turn leads to the state of permanent rebellion, because the horizontal world can never satisfy the hungry ghosts of envy and entitlement, for in the absence of gratitude, none of the goods in our life can be assimilated. For as Richard Weaver put it, “when we attach more significance to feeling than thinking, we shall soon attach more to wanting than deserving.” America's progressive and truly revolutionary founders enunciated and liberated a system of timeless truths. But modern progressivism liberates only feelings, which amounts “to a riot which fizzles out with the gain or loss of its immediate object...” (Nock).
And this reversion to pure feeling is, of course, what is so frightening about secular leftism. To the Superior Man, even his own feelings are none of his business so long as they remain purely horizontal and untransformed by a vertical framework. Feelings are hardly denied, but they are spiritualized and placed in a human context. But to the Prince of this World, feelings are all-important, because feelings are the mental equivalent of touch, the most crude of our physical senses.
All beings who are awakened to the vertical are aware of the fact that -- in conformity with the axiom “as above, so below” -- there are vertical analogues to our five exterior senses. In fact, this is how the vertical is accessed, not through “seeing” but through vision, not listening but hearing, not touching but entering. Likewise, the truth of divine communication is self-evident by virtue of its spiritual perfume, as indicated by messages as diversely fragrant as the Psalms, the Gospel of John, the Tao Te Ching, or the Upanishads. Have you never known intellectual ecstasy?
Horizontal progress cannot be infinite for the simple reason that progress cannot be infinite. Rather, progress can only be measured in terms of an absolute standard that lies outside space and time. The “false infinite” of flatland progressivism is not conditioned from top to bottom, so there can be no higher or lower. Rather, there is only low and lower, until man sinks beneath himself over the horizon of linear history.
But for vertical man, to paraphrase Thoreau, his life is rich in proportion to the number of things he can do without. Our lives are defined not as what we have but who we are, but not in its horizontal sense. Rather, we must paradoxically become who we are, or transform the world by transforming ourselves. For it is written -- on my business card, as a matter of fact -- that you can only change the world one a-hole at a time. Timelessness takes time -- which is what time is for.
Evolution is always a saw-toothed function, so today we find ourselves a little closer to the mud, to the infra-human, to a postmodern neolithic age. Things will apparently have to get worse -- perhaps even much worse -- before they get better. While I try not to be pessimistic, sometimes it's hard not to bow before Petey’s meta-law, which is that bad everything drives out good everything. Or, as Mark Twain put it, “All I care to know is that a man is a human being; that is enough for me -- he can’t be any worse.”
To conclude on an uptimistic gnote, vertical man does not whine or complain, but polishes his character on the rocks of adversity. The Republican Party as an institution is almost without character at the moment. Thus, the perfect uppertunity to use what it deserves in these Dems of iniquity as a school of hardened nocks to evolve toward what it might have been.
To Sleep Perchance to Dream; To Die Perchance to Wake (11.21.11)
Letter XIII, our old friend Death. What would life be without him?
This is another chapter that has a lot of ideas I've covered in previous posts, so I'll try not to be too deathly repetitive.
How do we think about death? One of the reasons it is difficult to think about, is that it is such a concrete fact -- just a big black wall over the subjective horizon. What do we really know about death? What can we say about it that isn't merely an abstract idea or dead metaphor?
At first blush, it seems that death is one of those existential parameters that the mind can never contain, but rather, contains us -- like time or sexuality. Perhaps this is one more reason why those two are closely linked (sex and death, out of which emerges their baby, knowledge).
In fact, if we didn't sexually reproduce, we wouldn't die, at least for any biological reason. Rather, we would live endlessly, except that it would be a horizontal endlessness, which is not to be confused with eternity (which is outside time). And without the boundary of death, we couldn't know nothing, which is the beginning of knowledge. Animals can only know something, but even then, they don't know that they know. Only man can know that he knows nothing, and therefore potentially everything.
UF says that it is this latter form of a purely biological pseudo-eternal life that the serpent promises when he tells Adam and Eve that "you shall not die." Thus, technically he wasn't lying, because a vertical lie may well be a horizontal truth, as our scientistic jester never stops teaching us. Although perhaps he finally has, since he hasn't commented in several days.
In my book, I wrote of the extreme unlikelihood that anything resembling human intelligence could ever have evolved elsewhere, for it is not just a matter of evolving "big brains." Far from it. Look at Noam Chomsky.
Rather, humanness emerges specifically because of the trimorphic situation of an immature and incomplete nervous system in dynamic rapport with an "empathic" mother and "protecting" father (and when I speak of "mother" and "father," I am doing so from the infant's archetypal perspective, wherein early empathy becomes mother, or is directed into that a priori archetype; in this view, mother emerges from baby, and then father from mother -- more on which below).
UF writes of the connection between, on the one hand, sleeping, forgetting, and death; and on the other, waking, remembering, and life. For example, psychoanalysis has long posited the idea that chronic insomnia can result from an inability to die to the day. You live your day, and then must let it go in the death of sleep. So many people cannot "let the day go." Instead, it intrudes upon their peaceful death, persecuting and tormenting them. Then, even worse, they dream -- or more often have nightmares -- by day.
For other people, they cannot die to the unconscious because of the monsters that lie there in in wait. This is a routine result of a traumatic childhood, of things that happened to them -- and more commonly, what didn't happen to them, in the form of a secure and "containing" relationship with the mother. For these individuals, they cannot "rest in peace," because their dream life is like a continuous horror movie, a "living death."
For that is what a monster is, isn't it -- a conflation of the categories of life and death? During Holloween week they showed all of the classic monster movies on TMC, and they all share this feature of living death or death living: Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Dracula, the Mummy. Perhaps this gives us a clue about death, i.e, that it is not so much the opposite of life, but a perverse or depraved form of it. You might say that Christmas celebrates life amidst death, while Halloween "celebrates" death in life. Probably no coincidence that the holiday has become much more popular with the increasing secularization of our culture, i.e., the death culture. It does nothing for me.
In fact, I remember reading a book -- here it is, Vampires, Burial, and Death -- that explains that most funeral rites evolved around concerns about making certain that the dead stayed that way -- that the corpse is not merely dead, but really most sincerely dead. (The book takes an academic and positivistic approach, so it's of limited usefulness except for the historical trivia, which is at times nevertheless fascinating.)
So, to sleep is to forget the day and awaken to the world of the Dreamer: "One forgets, one goes to sleep, and one dies." In turn, "One remembers, one awakes, and one is born."
In a previous post, I have discussed the idea that from a developmental perspective, one may turn Genesis on its head and see the infant-Adam as the creator of God and everything else.
In fact, from a certain perspective, this is how it must be, and to the extent that you fail to understand this distinction, you may well fail to appreciate the difference between God and infantile omnipotence. Not only is this conflation commonplace, but it might even be the norm. Certainly the Islamist god is indistinguishable from an enraged baby, while the infantile dreams of the left are suspiciously similar to those conjured by the omnipotent gods of the nursery.
Looked at in this way, the discovery of Adam and Eve -- or a Mother and Father separate from the baby -- is an insult to the baby's omnipotence. How dare Mommy and Daddy exist separate from my magical wishes! Therefore the baby-god banishes them from the infantile paradise, where the infant restores his "oneness with God." No coincidence therefore that the way back to paradise is blocked by a coterie of babies with flaming swords. (I should acknowledge that this idea was playgiarized from Grotstein. But I think I won't, for he is an insult to my omnipotence.)
To fall asleep is not just to give up everything, but to do so in the faith that everything will somehow be cleansed and transformed when we are reincarnated and reborn in the morning. So sleep has a sort of "digestive" or metabolic property; which must mean that death and forgetting do as well.
And in fact, one doesn't have to comb very far through the esoteric literature to discover this idea, that the initial postmortem state is very much analogous to the metabolic function of dreaming, except that it will range over our entire life, so that whatever was "inessential" is consigned to the flames, while what is essential lives in eternity. In any event, know that your life is being dreamt by forces far greater than yourself, and not just at night.
This could be an extremely lengthy sidetrack, so I think I'll just mention it briefly, but this is the whole point of Finnegans Wake, which is like a dream of all human history within the ultimate Dreamer (wake is a play on words, meaning the wake of death and the a-wake of resurrection and the Dreamer). Here's how Joseph Campbell expressed it:
"Finnegans Wake is a mighty allegory of the fall and resurrection of mankind. It is a strange book, a compound of fable, symphony, and nightmare -- a monstrous enigma beckoning imperiously from the shadowy pits of sleep. Its mechanics resemble those of the dream, a dream which has freed the author from the necessities of common logic and has enabled him to compress all periods of history, all phases of individual and racial development, into a circular design, of which every part is beginning, middle and end.... Joyce presents, develops, amplifies and recondenses nothing more nor less than the eternal dynamic implicit in birth, death, conflict, death, and resurrection."
Well, we didn't get very far into this chapter, did we? Time to die to the dreamer and awaken to the day. To be continued....
O Death, you old mahahasamadhi, show us your secret mannascrypt, your Divine Cosmodeity. Take us before and beyond this womentary maninfestation, reveal not the horizontal but our inmost upmost vertical bigending --The Book of Petey
Hanging Around the Center of the Cosmos (11.18.11)
There is a key point on page 314 of MOTT, where UF discusses the difference between terrestrial and celestial gravitation: the former is centripetal and enfolds, while the latter is centrifugal and radiates. Perhaps a better way of saying it is that terrestrial gravitation hardens, compacts, and and deadens, while celestial gravitation liquifies, disperses, and sows.
Think of all the forms of gravitation that "hold people together." This is not metaphorical language, but literal, both individually and collectively. In fact, the word "religion" comes from the latin religare, "to bind." Religion in its lower sense becomes quite terrestrial, most notably in the Islamic world, where people are bound and compacted together in a common prison. Conversely, ideology can mimic religion in its higher sense, so that people can be bound together by a spirit of faux radiation -- the veneration of our moonbat messiah being a fine example. After all, he's only president of the government, not the nation; the nation is where we actually live, not the government (unless you're waiting in line at the post office or DMV).
On an individual basis, it's always a good idea to explore one's center of gravity. When we talk about "values," about the culture war, about political parties, we're really talking about very different centers of gravity. For example, for the leftist, the center of gravity is the compacted collective, or state; for the conservative liberal, it is the radiant individual. In fact, for the leftist -- since he is fully terrestrial -- his center of gravity is often politics, period.
This is why the left can always muster more raw political energy than the opposition, since it is their life. They're just going with the flow, whereas for the rest of us, politics is a distasteful distraction that we mainly engage in to prevent the left from destroying the country. To paraphrase Eliot, we have no hope of actually prevailing, only of perhaps recapturing and holding a little ground and then passing it on to the next generation.
Another danger of politics is that it tends to organize people around their hates. As a result, their center of gravity becomes that which they hate. Yesterday I was checking out some of the prominent left wing sites, and sure enough, they cannot let go of their hatred and bitterness. Most of the conservative sites were gracious and conciliatory in their reaction to the election, while the left just "can't let it go," so to speak. How could they? That astonishing level of irrational hatred is not going to just vanish into thin air. That's not how the mind works.
Again, this hatred -- or death instinct -- is their center of gravity. I caught a few moments of Bill Maher on Larry King last night. He was as bitter and snarling as ever. Does anyone imagine that a mere election could ever shift Maher's psychic poles, so that he is not a hardened homunculus of hatred? Truly, if he were to give up his resentment, he would no longer exist. It's what makes him feel alive -- not to mention superior to others (for infantile hatred partakes of omnipotence).
Yes, moonbat, I know what you're thinking. How is this any different from how Bob treats the left? One difference is that you are here. Why are you here, anyway? To help change your center of gravity toward O? Or simply to use me as a focus for your hatred and stupidity?
When evaluating a patient, it really comes down to identifying their center of gravity. Most any mental illness results from a false or relative center of gravity. What is a fetish? An obsession? A compulsion? A fixation? A phobia? A depression? Paranoia? Each of these serves to organize the mind around a false center, which limits intelligence and falsifies being. They cannot "radiate," only focus. Or, if they do radiate, it is in a diffuse and chaotic manner, certainly not toward the nonlocal attractor, O. Their psychic content just spills all over the place, like a toxic dump.
Why is a great artist great? Because his words, images, or music come from a deeper or higher center of gravity that helps reveal and deepen yours. The great mystery is how this center can be communicated with very simple language or just a few notes. A great jazz musician will communicate more with just his tone than a mediocre musician with thousands of notes.
My center of gravity is O, which in turn radiates to my family, friends and readers. In turn, I do not wish to be anyone's center of gravity, but rather, help them locate and amplify theirs. You shouldn't be looking at me, but through me.
In reality, what binds you and I is the mysterious third which we are looking at together. Even if perhaps I see it a little more clearly than some neocoons, you nevertheless don't stare at my finger, now do you? No, you try to focus upon what I am pointing at. Eventually it comes into view. You already sense it, or you wouldn't be here. It's just a matter of perfecting your senses.
Conversely, I can only assume that our scientistic jester keeps coming back because he wants us to see what he sees, and to share his center of gravity, which is dense matter. Don't worry, we see it. But again, we look through and beyond it, to what it is pointing at. In short, for us, matter is legible, like the page of a book. When we read we do not stare at the letters, but look through them to the meaning. I suppose one could argue that the "center" of MOTT is page 335, being that the book contains 670 pages. But in reality, its center is O, which is present on every page.
The Hanged Man "lives under the state of celestial gravitation," which is why he is both suspended and upside down. As UF writes, "the soul is suspended between heaven and earth." It is outside the world because it is inside O. This is "the zero point between the fields of terrestrial and celestial gravitation."
And to say that we are "upside down" means that for us, the "solid ground" is located above, while the realm below is an airy abstraction -- this is the abstract world of the scientistic atheist. Perhaps this is the reason why so many infertile eggheads are materialists, since materialism is purely "head knowledge," and just a shadowy caricature of the real thing.
In contrast, in our upside down state, knowledge follows will, which is to say faith. I'm starting to run out of time here, but I once knew a man who "fell in love with O." As his love deepened, so too did his faith. And as his faith in the unseen deepened, so too did his Obedience. Soon his feet "walked in O." And as his Obedience deepened, his head and heart followed his feet. Now he walks in a cloud of radiant unknowing, calmly placing one foot in front of the other.
Soul-Surfing On the Agitated Waves of the Day (11.17.11)
Now, on to Letter XII, Le Pendu, The Hanged Man. This, along with the Hermit, is a key archetype for Raccoons, as it speaks to the nonlocal habitat in which the Raccoon dwells, which is suspended roughly halfway between God and matter, give or take, i.e., the celestial and terrestrial planes.
UF says that this card "plunges us into the heart of the problem of the relationship between man and gravitation, and the conflicts that this relationship entails." Something analogous to gravity operates at all levels of the cosmos, both interior and exterior, from the solar system, to culture, to personal relationships, to the self, and even to mind parasites. In each case, there is an "attractive force" that draws subject and objects toward other subjects or objects, and also toward their own "center of gravity."
We are not so much interested in the attraction of objects as of subjects, for this is where the real mystery lies. For example, once you "locate" your true self, it will begin to attract the kinds of relationships and experiences it requires to grow. If you fail to live out of this "interior center," then no matter what happens to you in your life, it will be an incoherent stream of experiences with no possibility of synthesis into a higher unity.
Here again, this is why liberty is so critical to the articulation and development of the self. The self is something that pre-exists in the form of potential, but can only be known through experience. This implicit self must be free to choose the objects, relationships, and experiences it requires in order to "be." This is why one man's paradise can be another man's prison -- even a living death. This is why there can be no real spirituality in the absence of freedom, and in turn why leftism is intrinsically retrograde.
Vertically speaking, you might say that we live in the phase space between two great attractors, which I symbolize in the book as O and Ø. As such, there are two "final causes" that operate on us; you could even call them eros and thanatos, or love and death. The death-stream draws us down to the terminal moraine of our lower nature, which ultimately ends in death and dissolution. The life-stream pulls us in, up, and out, toward our nonlocal source above. Even the most cynical atheist cannot live -- not even for a moment -- without this life-stream, for it is what pulls him toward truth, or love, or meaning -- even toward his hatred of God! (since this hatred is rooted in a misguided love of truth).
UF agrees that "the domain of our freedom... shows the real and active presence of gravitation of a spiritual order." This is why people are attracted to God and religion to begin with, "for what is the phenomenon of religion if not the manifestation of spiritual gravitation towards God -- i.e., towards the centre of spiritual gravitation of the world?"
We cannot "see" gravity, any more than we can see the wind. However, we can obviously feel the effects of gravity and wind. On the interior plane, these effects are "subtle" but nevertheless clear, especially as one learns to "amplify" them and to live within this attractor space. It's as clear as "falling in love." No one had to teach me how to do that. I just went with the cosmic flow, straight into a brick wall... or was it an abyss? I suppose it was both.
But that was terrestrial love. Furthermore, it was a terrestrial love completely severed from its actual source, and fully located in the object of my affliction. Plus, it was thoroughly entangled with formidable mind parasites which also love in their fashion. Yes, as with everything else they use, they have to appropriate the love from elsewhere, but it feels real at the time.
Anyway, speaking of falling, UF situates mankind's fall within this space. I'm always trying to trancelight religious ideas into terms I can better grasp, and in this case, "there is nothing against the conception of the Fall of Adam as the passage from a spiritual gravitation system, whose centre is God, to a terrestrial gravitational system, whose centre is the serpent."
That's certainly how it feels to me. Don't you feel those twin pulls? And don't you remember as a child, the first awareness of the pull into darkness? I remember it distinctly. I think it repeats itself in different forms at different stages of life -- assuming you actually grow through different developmental stages beyond ego. Each stage has a central "temptation" that is an image of the first. In each case, we must choose the Light.
The Gospel designates the two attractors as "heaven" and "this world," or "the kingdom of God" and "the kingdom of the prince of this world." Or, we could again just call them O and Ø; or "slack" and "the conspiracy."
Likewise, this can be thought of as a sword that cuts mankind right down the middle, between the "children of this world" and "the children (or the sons) of light." Here again, standard issue cOOnvision allows us to know in an instant when we are in the presence of one or the other. It could not be more obvious, could it?
UF notes that there are actually three main categories, and I see that these correspond to the three gunas of Vedanta, which we won't get into. But there is the "carnal" (or vital) man who "lives in the grip of gravitation of 'this world' at the expense of the gravitation of 'heaven'; then there is the "psychic man" who "lives in equilibrium between the two fields"; then there is the spiritual or pneumatic man "who lives under the sway of the gravitation of 'heaven.'" One reason I no longer do psychotherapy is that I just can't deal with type #1. I don't even know where to begin. I have no interest in helping people better adapt to unreality -- which is what most people want.
Now, the Hanged Man "represents the condition of one in the life of whom gravitation from above has replaced that of below." In Raccoon terms, it is someone who has discovered his proper orientation, and sees the cosmos "inside out" and "upside down" relative to "the normals." In reality, we have merely reverted things to their proper place. And we are irresistibly attracted to the top.
There are numerous references to this in the Cosmobliteration section of the Coonifesto: no body crosses the phoenix line lest it be repossessed and amortized; reverse worldward descent and cross the bridge of darkness to the father shore; floating upstream along the ancient celestial trail, out from under the toilsome tablets of time; returning to the Oneself, borne again to the mysterious mamamatrix of our birthdeath; etc.
Well, I'm just about out of time. Lots of work to do. I'll leave you with this to ponder:
Now the words 'I am; do not be afraid' spoken by the one walking on the water amount to the statement: 'I am gravitation, and he who holds to me will never sink or be engulfed.... Thus there is another field of gravitation than that of death, and who unites himself with it can walk on water, i.e, transcend the agitated element of 'this world,' the electrical gravitational field of the serpent. --Meditations on the Tarot
Moving on from the Hermit, we come now to Letter X, The Wheel of Fortune. We actually discussed this one a few weeks ago. In fact, that's what started this whole meditation on the Meditations. Also, in flipping through this chapter, I see the I've discussed most of these ideas in other contexts, and I don't want to repeat myself. So let's just move on to Letter XI, The Force.
This is a timely symbol for the events of the day, as the force of the left ascends on the political wheel of fortune. However, we can draw coonsolation from the fact that, being that leftism is a closed intellectual and spiritual system, it is already "on the way down," outward appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. In short, its end is in its beginning, as the poet said. The higher it ascends in its intoxicated reach for power, the further it will fall. The concrete fact of Obama shall soon enough kill the vaporous idea of Obama.
This passage by UF is perfectly apt today: "Plato has never had success as a revolutionary and never will do so. But Plato himself will always live throughout the centuries of human history... and will be in each century the companion of the young and old who love pure thought, seeking only the light which it comprises." In other words, you can never really have a "revolution" of people oriented to the white point of wisdom discussed in yesterday's post.
For one thing, it is an individual endeavor, not the sort of thing that could ever occur on a massive scale. And the left is a mass movement, which automatically condemns it to mediocrity and banality. It is led by a herd of elites who imagine themselves superior, but nothing could be more banal -- and self-contradictory -- than the idea of "mass excellence."
In contrast to Plato, Karl Marx has enjoyed over a century "of astonishing success and has revolutionized the world. He has swept away millions -- those who went to the barricades and trenches in civil wars, and those who went to the prisons, either as jailers or as prisoners."
Really, can you name another philosopher who has enjoyed such a literally smashing success in such a short span of time? But you -- yes, you there, "as a solitary human soul, a soul of depth and sobriety, what do you owe Karl Marx?"
I don't know yet. Ask me next April 15th.
The point is, "Plato illumines, whilst Marx sweeps away." Obviously, it is impossible to imagine a person of any spiritual stature getting caught up in the Obama hysteria. But it is equally impossible to imagine such a person being caught up in any kind of political hysteria. It is one of the reasons we can never match the diabolical energy of the left. Since the leftist is condemned to the horizontal world, he channels his spiritual energy into politics. As I wrote a couple of years ago,
"Regardless of what happens Tuesday, it shouldn’t greatly affect the spiritual equilibrium of the Superior Man, whose invisible combat will continue as usual. Indeed, this is what distinguishes us from the agitated multitude of horizontal men who locate their salvation in politics. Whatever the outcome, our lives will continue to center around our own perfection and salvation, not for narcissistic reasons, but for the simple reason that it is not possible to save others unless we have first saved ourselves. Needless to say, horizontal Republicans will not save us from horizontal Democrats.
"The project of the left is to make us all useful to the collective, when the only possible justification for the collective can lie in its usefulness to the individual -- again, not in a horizontal, egotistical sense, but in a vertical sense. Assuming that life has a transcendent purpose -- and you cannot be human and not make this assumption -- then the purpose of society should be to help human beings achieve this purpose -- i.e., to be useful to the Creator."
Hmm, I see that Bob foretold the cult of Obama:
"Horizontal man, in denying the vertical, necessarily replaces it with a counterfeit version that substitutes the collective for the One and human will for the Divine authority. Taken to its logical extreme, this manifests as the demagogue, the cult of personality, or the dictator-god who expresses the vitalistic will of the people. But all forms of leftism lie on this continuum. So much of the pandering of the left is merely totalitarianism in disguise -- a false absolute and a counterfeit vertical."
And there is no one so inflated with narcissistic hubris as the leftist social engineer who will save mankind from its own self-inflicted wounds. The leftist can give man everything but what he most needs, and in so doing, destroys the possibility of man. As Eliot said, he dreams of a system in which it will be unnecessary for anyone to be good.
Likewise, "the moment we talk about 'social conscience,' and forget about conscience, we are in moral danger." Eliminate the idea of moral struggle, and "you must expect human beings to become more and more vaporous" (Eliot). Since man is placed at the crossroads where he is free to choose between good and evil, this again eliminates man. You might say that for the leftist dreamer, man is strictly unnecessary. In fact, he just gets in the way. Humanity is reduced to "a manageable herd rather than a community of souls," which naturally includes the dead and unborn (Lockerd).
For horizontality goes hand in hand with exteriority and outwardness, which is the initial direction of the fall: first out, then down. Gravity takes care of the rest. Horizontal man is down and out, whereas our salvolution lies up and in. Animals are almost entirely exterior. Like the leftist, they do not actually live in the world, but in the closed system of their own neurology. Only man -- inexplicably and miraculously on any scientistic grounds -- can exit the closed system of his own neuro-ideology and enter higher worlds, worlds of truth, beauty, and moral goodness.
To be in contact with these higher worlds is to be Man. To neglect or deny these anterior worlds is to destroy man, precisely. It is to starve and suffocate man’s spirit by laying waste to his proper environment, the only environment in which he can actually grow into full manhood. You cannot replace the holy grail of Spirit with the lowly gruel of flatland materialism and expect it to feed the multitudes. Human beings do not draw their spiritual nourishment from outside but from above -- which in turn “spiritualizes” and sacralizes the horizontal.
Being what he is -- and isn’t -- horizontal man externalizes concerns about his self-inflicted soul murder, and obsesses over the future of "the planet" -- over speculative weather reports one hundred years hence.
But right now there is a hell and there is a hand basket, because we can clearly see both with our own third eyes. Furthermore, we can see exactly who is running with baskets in both hands. Look, it's Nancy Pelosi! Harry Reid! Barney Frank!
Again, vertical man never obsesses, let alone enters the state of perpetual hysteria of leftist man. As Eliot wrote, "we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that anything will triumph." Nevertheless, vertical man naturally frets about the deteriorating conditions of the interior of the human world, and its seemingly unimpeded slide into barbarism, spiritual exhaustion, scientistic magic, neo-paganism, self-worship, the cult of the body, abstract materialism, and a vapid and rudderless subjectivism.
Such lost souls cannot discern the signs of the times, much less the direction of history. For them, history can be nothing more than a meaningless tale told by a tenured idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying a nice paycheck and adoring coeds. Horizontal man scoffs at spiritual reality on the peculiar grounds that it cannot exist, denying its presence with that which affirms it by virtue of its self-evident existence.
It is a truism that vertical man paradoxically lives very close to the ground, as he has internalized the cautionary tales of Eden, of Icarus, of Babel, and of various episodes of the Honeymooners. In contrast, horizontal man seizes what does not properly belong to him, not just recapitulating the fall but enshrining it in his ideology. It's no longer a bug but a feature.
But when you cast your vote for horizontal man, you are unwittingly chipping away at the foundation of the very tower in which horizontal man is privileged to sit despite his metaphysical ignorance. For in reality, we only have the luxury of superfluous and slumbering horizontal men because of the vertical men -- real men -- who came before and built the tower brick by brick (except for the cornerstone, which was not made by human hands).
Thus we can see our own possible future by casting our gaze at Europe, which is too high and top-heavy for its own long-forgotten foundations, and is well into the process of toppling into dust. For when horizontal man falls, he doesn’t actually fall far, only back down to the ground where vertical man awaits him.
Yes, we are exiled in time, but for vertical man, time does not alter the basic existential situation which religion is here to address. It is believed by our intellectually sterile and spiritually shallow elites that religion is no longer relevant. In so believing, they underscore their own irrelevance, for to paraphrase Schuon, they blame Truth for their own lack of qualification to understand and accept it. Suffice it to say that to be eternally young is to forever grow -- only inward and upward, toward the primordial light that has already defeated horizontal darkness, today and forever.
So render unto the horizontal the things that belong to the horizontal, but do not store your treasures there, where myths corrupt and chickens doth come home to roost. As always, be as wise as the horizontal serpents who stand on their bellies, but innocent as vertical doves who kneel on wings.
A secularist culture can only exist, so to speak, in the dark. It is a prison in which the human spirit confines itself when it is shut out of the wider world of reality. But as soon as the light comes, all the elaborate mechanism that has been constructed for living in the dark becomes useless. The recovery of spiritual vision gives man back his spiritual freedom. --Russell Kirk
Woke up at midnight with a pounding toothache. Probably something to do with the root canal I just had redone the day before. All better now, but not enough web fluid to post.
This morning I got into an argument with my son over which one of us is "new." I said he was. He said I was. Eventually I had to concede his point. Unlike me, he has no doubt that he has always existed. Rather, I'm the big novelty.
The last of the three antinomies resolved within the Hermit is faith <---> empirical science. As UF writes, "The father of empirical science is doubt and its mother is faith." On the one hand, "doubt is the very root of every question, and questions are the basis of every quest and all research." And yet, as Michael Polanyi has written of so extensively, it is faith that guides us to the potentially fruitful question -- one that can be asked "in good faith," and to which we can expect an answer to be forthcoming.
For example, "Newton doubted the traditional theory of 'gravity,' but he believed in the unity of the world.... Doubt set his thought in motion; faith rendered it fruitful." In a way, you could say that doubt is horizontal, whereas faith is vertical.
But there is faith in doubt and doubt in faith. The doubt in faith is the "dark night of the soul," the days and years spent wandering in the bewilderness, the childlike attitude of expectant silence. Conversely, the faith in doubt is the belief that the cosmos is ultimately intelligible and therefore whole and finally good; that it is a creation through which we may apprehend the qualities of its creator.
The scientist has faith that the vast multiplicity of the cosmos is a reflection of some prior or underlying unity. He also has faith that the human subject is uniquely capable of knowing this unity; as Aldous Huxley remarked, "science is the reduction of multiplicity to unity." And the scientist believes in evolution, which is to say progress. And progress is absolutely meaningless unless it is in light of an absolute standard, e.g., truth. A universe of pure change could never be progressive -- which, by the way, is another reason why "progressivism" is always regressive.
Just last night I was reading how Eliot made this observation back in the 1930s, when there were mindlessly pervasive calls for "change" of a similar nature to what we are witlessing today, i.e., collectivist and fascist change. To say that Obama is "un-American" is not an insult; it just is, just as it would be un-American to, say, enact a law banning homosexuals from teaching in public schools (which was actually attempted in a California ballot initiative in 1978).
Seen in this light, progressivism is just an excuse to unleash violence against the current order, since reality can never match up to the infantile fantasies of the left. "The perfect is the enemy of the good." The leftist does not believe in the permanence of transcendent things, which is precisely what creates the dynamic and fruitful interplay of faith and doubt, or creative evolution. Rather, he believes in a static fantasy of an unattainable utopia, which again serves as the justification for destroying that which is -- including those beautiful values that made this nation possible.
It is the unrepentant spiritual terrorism of the left that frightens us. For when you insist that this is a racist country; a sexist country; a homophobic country; a classist country; you do not just criticize the margins, but delegitimize the center. Progressivism is the expression of thanatos the "death instinct." It is perverse, sadistic, and authoritarian. Which is why, of course, they project these things into conservatives. The left howls in indignation at the prospect of monitoring international phone calls from terrorists. But illegally investigate Joe the Plumber? No problem! It's for the greater good.
Eliot wrote that "if the progress of mankind is to continue as long as man survives upon the earth, then... progress becomes merely change; for the values of man will change, and a world of changed values is valueless to us -- just as we, being a part of the past, will be valueless to it. Or if the progress of mankind is to continue only until a 'perfect' state of society is reached, then this state of society will be valueless simply because of its perfection. It will be at best a smooth-running machine with no meaning..."
The idea that progressivism renders our lives worthless to generations of the future is a subtle point worth dwelling on. Look how easily the left sweeps away not just the average person, but the truly great men of past. The Founding Fathers? Just racist slave holders promoting their economic interests. Lincoln? He didn't care about the plight of blacks, he just wanted to preserve the union. The men who died for our freedom in World War II? Probably just racist rednecks back at home. Hell, the army wasn't even integrated until what, 1948? How could it be a force for good?
The other day, a leftist-integral-Buddhist suggested to me that the liberation of Iraq was an aggressive war. I told him he was either ignorant, intellectually dishonest, or morally retarded. And I meant it literally, not as an insult. Talk about irony. What China did to Tibet was aggressive. Removing the most sadistic tyrant on earth and installing a democracy is a gift from heaven -- even of some, if not most, men have to be driven to paradise with whips.
The point is, the left completely undermines and delegitimizes the United States, and then wants to elect one of its own to be President of the land they so despise. If Obama fails to bring this howling mob the revolutionary change they are clamoring for, who knows what will happen with their collective death instinct? These people aren't playing. They are scary serious. And if you are not a part of their fantasied solution, you are just a problem, like everyone from Joe the Plumber to George the Father. For a primitive person, idealization is always a defense against aggression, so it will be very interesting to see how Obama manages the aggressive idealization being projected into him. I seriously doubt that he appreciates the hatred beneath the love.
In light of the "permanent things," time past and time future become time present. This was one of Eliot's great concerns, expressed so perfectly in Four Quartets. Again, the progressive believes in time as a straight line composed of atomistic and disjointed moments -- which, by the way, is what Eliot was attempting to capture and convey in his earlier, more pessimistic poems, prior to his conversion. Again I think of Bion's concept of "attacks on linking," which can take place in both time and space; in fact, if you think about it, you cannot attack spatial links without attacking temporal links. To attack the one is to attack the other. Deconstruction doesn't just destroy the present, but past and future as well. To destroy history is to destroy the present, and vice versa.
But to dwell in the permanent things -- the essence of conservatism -- is not to live in the discontinuous line, but within a kind of spiritual plenum that connects us to all of mankind, living and dead. It is a kind of sin and scandal, not only that the dead cannot vote, but that the left wishes to force a new country upon us that would be unrecognizable to the men who died to create this one. To say that "we are the ones we've been waiting for" is not just cosmically narcissistic, but profoundly ungrateful. But all children come into the world believing they are cosmically special, otherwise they could not psychically survive infancy.
How did we get here? What about the Hermit?
Science in the absence of religion conforms to the pattern laid out in Genesis: your eyes will be open to the horizontal and you shall become like a god! But this appreciation of the quantitative aspect of the cosmos comes at the price of obscuring the qualitative aspects: "quality is the vertical aspect of the world," and it is ultimately rooted in the permanent things discussed above. The supreme value of values in the vertical is God, just as the supreme quantity of quantities in the horizontal would be some sort of "theory of everything," or simple equation for generating a cosmos.
But as UF asks, why is it necessary to choose between the two? Why not just add the one to the other "under the sign of the cross," i.e., the vertical line of religion -- the permanent things -- bisecting the horizontal plane of science at each and every moment? Why not just crucify the serpent? Do so, and a metamorphosis follows: "The scientistic creed then becomes what it is in reality: the mirroring of the creative Word. It will no longer be truth; it will be method. It will no longer say: 'in the beginning was substance or matter,' but will say: 'in order to understand the mechanism of the made world, it is necessary to choose a method which takes account of the origin of matter and of that which set it in motion from above." Likewise, we will see the brain as a function of intelligence, not vice versa.
In short, "The synthesis of science and religion is not a theory, but rather the inner act of consciousness of adding the spiritual vertical to the scientific horizontal."
Naming the Nameless and Doing the Reality Dance (11.14.11)
Yesterday I mentioned that Meditations on the Tarot really clued me into the intellectual and metaphysical depth and breadth of Christianity. If nothing else, it is simply a superior philosophy. But once you begin to realize just how superior, it leads to other considerations that take you into the heart of the Mystery.
I'm currently reading this book on T.S. Eliot, and I see that he came to Christianity in a similar manner: head first. I suppose that the vast majority of people who convert to Christianity do so either for emotional reasons (which I am not criticizing) or because it just "feels right." Obviously, it operates on levels that are both deeper and higher then the ego, so there is no reason that the average person should be able to articulate these reasons, any more than they could articulate the physics of riding a bicycle. Rather, they just do it. And enjoy the experience. If you have a mediocre mind, your thoughts will just get in the way anyway. Leave it to the professionals.
But it's always interesting when a genius such as Eliot goes through the same process. And it's also disconcerting for the Adversary and his mediocre minions. How could one of the two or three greatest men of letters of the 20th century embrace this primitive nonsense? But as Kirk points out, Christianity has always been a scandal.
It's like the tao: if these spiritual autistics didn't laugh at it, it wouldn't be the tao. You can see how our scientistic jester never stops banging his head against his own self-imposed wall, seemingly incapable of understanding that everyone here has not only heard his arguments, but probably once believed them. But we then discovered something more adequate, and moved on. And in. And up. For our jester to imagine that he, of all people, can tell us something we don't already know about the horizontal Waste Land is either immature or breathtakingly ignorant.
In Eliot's case, he wrote extensively about the subject, both in his poetry and prose. For example, "Most people suppose that some people, because they enjoy the luxury of Christian sentiments and the excitement of Christian ritual, swallow or pretend to swallow incredible dogma. For some the process is exactly opposite. Rational assent may arrive late, intellectual conviction may come slowly, but they come inevitably without violence to honesty and nature. To put the sentiments in order is a later and an immensely difficult task: intellectual freedom is earlier and easier than complete spiritual freedom."
You could say that it's all about restoring / With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem / The time. Redeem / The unread vision in the higher dream / While jewelled unicorns draw by the guilded hearse (Eliot).
Enough with the gilded hearse of scientism. Back to the Hermit's higher dream. When we left off yesterday, we were explaining how he reconciles the three great philosophical antinomies within his own being, the first one being idealism <---> realism (although naturalism would have perhaps have been a less confusing word than realism, since idealism is also known as philosophical realism in scholastic philosophy -- i.e., the notion that the platonic archetypes are more real than the material reality which is their instantiation).
The next antinomy is realism <---> nominalism, and here UF does mean the type of realism just mentioned, that is, the school of thought "which attributes objective reality to general notions that are now usually designated as 'abstract' but which medieval philosophy designated universalia ('universals')." In contrast, the current of thought "which denies the objective reality of universals and which admits reality only in 'particulars' is that of nominalism."
As UF notes, a realist in this sense is an extreme idealist, e.g., Plato. For Plato, the idea, say, of boxer briefs, is more real than the pair I am now wearing. But for the nominalist, these so-called objective ideas are nothing more than words which have no independent reality. You can see where this route 666 leads: more or less directly to deconstruction, multiculturalism, moral relativism,"positive liberties," "gay marriage," etc., the whole catastrophe.
For example, any remotely spiritually attuned person recognizes that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman. It is a real archetype. Therefore, to promulgate the fantasy that members of the same sex can live in a state of marriage is a kind of violent assault on reality. It's not funny. It is mean spirited, offensive, and cretinous. If you cannot see that, then you, my friend, are a barbarian. I am not being insulting, merely descriptive. There's just no other word for someone who conflates reality with what it reveals of itself to the animal senses and to cold logic isolated from any guiding wisdom.
The irony is that any scientist who actually takes the trouble to think deeply is a philosophical realist. There is no great mathematician who is not an explicit or implicit Platonist. For example, G. H. Hardy, in his A Mathematician's Apology, wrote that "It would be difficult now to find an educated man quite insensitive to the aesthetic appeal of mathematics.... A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas." Who could argue with that proposition but an innumerate illiterate, or atheistic doubledunce?
If we consider the whole of creation -- i.e., the cosmos.... Wait, let's stop right there: the idea of the cosmos. For that is what it is: an idea. No one has ever seen the cosmos. But it's wrong to say we just "assume" it exists. Rather, we know in our bones that it exists -- that is, the strict totality of all reality, the Absolute. There is no part of reality that exists independently of this Absolute. The interior wholeness that we see at every level of reality is simply a fractal reflection, or distant echo, of this Absolute. It is what accounts for the organicism of organisms, the nonlocality of locality, the unity of the human subject, and the inner coherence of science. Each is a horizontal reflection of the other and a vertical reflection of the O-ther.
The realist (i.e., idealist) says that "the general is anterior to the particular" (deduction). The nominalist says that "the particular is anterior to the general" (induction).
Here again, we see how this plays out at the local level, with disastrous consequences. For example, for the leftist, the collective is more real than the individual man, which is why it is fine to steal from Joe the Plumber and give his hard earned money to Joe the Deadbeat. But the founders of our country knew that the individual was real and that this individuality was rooted in his liberty, which is the means by which we become real. It is the idea of liberty which is ultimately real, and which creates the possibility of real individuals (in other words, without liberty, our ideal "created" self will not be able to actualize).
But for Obama, it is only in the concrete particular that liberty is real, i.e, "positive liberty." In other words, liberty is not real unless the government somehow gives it to you in the form of cash and other valuable prizes. You might say that negative liberty preserves the ideal reality of liberty.
For the nominalist, "truth, beauty and goodness do not exist for it as objective realities, and are only a matter of taste," that great leveler of the hierarchical cosmos. People who "attack links" are always nominalists. You cannot argue with them, because their first cognitive act is to dismantle the very cognitive scaffolding that makes higher thought possible, e.g., the Jesus Seminarians. They first deconstruct the higher edifice of the Bible, and then Jesus comes out the other end a Marxist community organizer.
In truth, we clearly need both, i.e., realism and nominalism: "We cannot dispense with realism if we attach any value to the existence of objective truth (science) and trans-subjective truth (religion)."
How to resolve this question? It's easy, at least if you were lucky enough to be born in Christendom: "The 'problem' of universals was resolved in the spiritual history of mankind by the fact of the Incarnation, where the fundamental universal of the world -- the Logos -- became Jesus Christ, who is the fundamental particular of the world."
Here, the universal of universals, the very principle of intelligibility, the Logos, became the particular of particulars, the very prototype of the personality, Jesus Christ.
This is why for the Raccoon, spiritual knowledge is embodied knowledge, or it is no knowledge at all.
And the weird light shines in the dark, but the dorks don't comprehend it. --Petey
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is... --Eliot
Letter IX, The Hermit, might just as well be called "The Raccoon." At least if memory serves. It is clearly the arcanum with which UF himself most identifies. He says that a person who is "truly young, i.e., living for an ideal," is instinctively drawn to this figure, similar to the Jungian concept of archetypal projection. In other words, the archetype of the Hermit is "within," but we must first locate it without, in order to assimilate its content into the preconceptual form. Without the experience, the archetype will remain an empty category -- a dead letter addressed from the Self to your self.
The Hermit is "a wise and good father... who has passed through the narrow gate and who walks the hard way -- someone whom one could trust without reserve and whom one could venerate and love without limit." The reason why there are so many false teachers is that we have an intrinsic need for real ones. But since our culture has largely severed itself from its own wisdom tradition, the Deepaks of the world rush in to fill the void. In fact, we can see that Obama is riding the waves of that same archetypal energy field.
Only in a culture that has completely lost its way could this cipher be regarded as intelligent or wise. For an insight into Obama's unconscious swamp, just consider the sinister entity he idealized as his own Hermit -- Reverend Wright! Such an odious choice runs so much deeper than the question of "judgment," for what you love simultaneously reveals who you are and what you shall become. A person who would expose his children to such a spiritually toxic environment is unfit to be a father, much less president. And I mean that quite literally. I cannot imagine assaulting my son's innocence in such a manner.
The Hermit "possesses the gift of letting the light shine in the darkness -- this is his lamp." And here is a critical point: "he has the faculty of separating himself from the collective moods, prejudices and desires of race, nation, class and family -- the faculty of reducing to silence the cacophony of collectivism vociferating around him in order to listen to and understand the hierarchical harmony of the spheres."
This reminds me of the task of the psychoanalyst, which is to listen to the patient with "even hovering attention," in order to hear into the deeper layers of the unconscious. One must "unlisten" to the explicit in order to hear the implicit, or obscure the plot in order to appreciate the theme. It has also been called "listening with the third ear." Bion said that one must suspend memory, desire, and understanding, in order to enter a state of faith, or what Bob symbolizes in the book as (o).
But that is not all, because if it were, we would live in a kind of bloodless idealism which Christianity specifically reconciles with flesh-and-blood reality -- or, materiality, to be precise. In other words, the Hermit unites reality with matter within his own being. Or, you could say that he embodies the ideal, in imitation of the Master himself. As UF writes, the Hermit
"possesses a sense of realism which is so developed that he stands in the domain of reality... on three [feet], i.e., he advances only after having touched the ground through immediate experience and at first-hand contact without intermediaries." This is none other than O-->(n), or the transformation of reality into experience.
So the Hermit is an archetypal reflection of the good father, behind or above whom is the Father in heaven. The Hermit is a word from our nonlocal sponsor, so to speak. But he never confuses himself with the mouth.
As UF says, he also represents the method of obtaining valid spiritual knowledge, in that he is able to synthesize within himself the three great antinomies with which any thinking man is confronted, and which any efficacious philosophy must reconcile. These are the complementary pairs of 1) idealism <---> realism; 2) realism <---> nominalism; and 3) faith <---> empirical science. I remember that when I first read this chapter, I finally appreciated the intellectual and metaphysical brilliance of Christianity, and just what a profound innovation it represented, for it beautifully resolves each of these pairs in a fruitful and dynamic "marriage." I also understood why it is folly to the geeks and a stumbling block to the clueless. You know, the materialists.
Is this going too slowly? Am I losing readers? Let's put it this way: yes to number two. Is it because this is getting too pedantic? Should we bring Bob back, and banish Bob's Unconscious to the.... unconscious?
Consider the first antinomy, idealism <---> realism. Most philosophers come down on one side or the other of this pair. It is their first "preconceptual" thought, upon which their subsequent intellectual edifice is built. But they never justify how and why they come down on one side or the other, nor can they ever justify it, because it is totally arbitrary.
Well, not totally. Rather, it's just based upon temperament, or inclination, like the eternal question of boxers vs. briefs. Surely it is no coincidence that Bob prefers the "third way" of boxer briefs, for in fact, this is what Toots Mondello was referring to when he spoke of the "sacred undergarment." Do you understand?
Put it this way: Plato was a boxer man, Aristotle a brief man. But can we possibly fashion a new garment out of these two, one that is both spiritually comfortable but also offers intellectual support? We shall see.
UF writes that "the idealist (e.g. Hegel) considers everything as so many forms of thought, whilst the realist (e.g. Spencer) affirms that objects of knowledge have an existence which is independent of thought." Where have we heard this before?
Yes. This is what Bob was referring to on Page 26, where he asks, "Where in the world do we begin? Do we have any right to assume that the universe is even intelligible?... Of course we should start our enquiry with the 'facts,' but what exactly is a fact? Which end is up? In other words, do we start with the objects of thought or the subject that apprehends them? And just what is the relationship between apparently 'external' objects and the consciousness that is able to cognize them? Any fact we consider presupposes a subject who has selected that fact out of an infinite sea of possibilities, so any conceivable fact arises simultaneously with a subjective co-creator of that fact."
In the case of realism, "it is the world which bears the word and it is the human intellect which listens." But in the case of idealism, "it is the intellect which bears the word and it is the world which is its reflection" (MOTT).
Who is right? Boxers or briefs?
"Let us not prostrate ourselves either before the world or before the intellect, but let us prostrate ourselves in adoration of the common source of both the world and the intellect -- God: God whose Word is at one and the same time the 'true light that enlightens every man coming into the world' and the creator of the world -- 'all things were made through him, and nothing that was made was made without him" (MOTT).
The source of both world and intellect is the Word, or Logos, "whose objective manifestation is the world of prototypes underlying the phenomenal world, and whose subjective manifestation is the light or prototype of human intelligence." You see, the universe meets in the middle of the monkey, and you're the monkey in the middle.
This formula resolves so many philosophical pickles and prevents so many dangers and falls. For example, our scientistic jester would presumably say that something that has no ultimate reality, the human subject, is able to affirm valid knowledge of reality, which, as soon as you think about it, makes no sense. Therefore, you must not think. But why bother thinking anyway, since the subject isn't really real?
Nor could objects be really real, in the sense that we couldn't really know them. Not really. Rather, we would be trapped in Kant's phenomenal world, with no access to the noumenal. But with the Hermit's approach, both objects and the subject who knows them become really real, since they become real in the Word. In turn, assimilating this reality into the Word is to "redeem the world."
I don't know why these "integral" types believe they have discovered something new. The other day, one of them emailed Bob to let him know that no one at the "higher stages of development" -- he didn't name names, but one can well imagine the stench up there -- agrees "with the policies of George Bush or Sarah Palin since they represent a lower level of evolution." Somehow -- he didn't explain how -- we are supposed to integrate and transcend "primitive" conservative ideas, but he didn't mention which ones.
At the conclusion of The Chariot, UF describes what an integral man would actually look like. Suffice it to say, he doesn't look like Deepak Chopra.
For example, he will manifest creative being, meaning that his thought will possess the qualities of creativity, clarity, fluidity, and precision (in contrast, Deepak's disjointed thought is unimaginative, unclear, desiccated, and imprecise). In the domain of feeling, his heart will radiate warmth, magnanimity, sensitivity, and faithfulness. And in the domain of will, one will see intensity, scope, adaptability, and firmness. The integral person will balance serenity, mobility and resolution; and will also reflect the four cardinal virtues, i.e., wisdom/prudence, courage/strength, temperance and justice. As Schuon would say, he will embody "the center at the periphery" or be a reflection of the "unmoved mover," hence his dignity.
Now obviously, this is a lifetime project. One of the reasons one must strive to be "integral" -- and this has always been known -- is that overemphasis on one of these qualities to the exclusion of the others will create an imbalance and therefore a fall. For example, our scientistic jester's thought is precise but devoid of creativity or fluidity, not to mention lucidity or metaphysical discernment. And its clarity is a result of his terrible simplification of reality. This kind of artificially narrow clarity always comes at the expense of doing violence to the Real (and therefore oneself).
In the final analysis, as Schuon writes, this type of "worldly intelligence" which oversteps its bounds is a product of pride; it destroys the "essential functions" of the intelligence, even "while allowing the surface mechanism to remain incidentally, as if in mockery." This is why an Albert Einstein could be such a brilliant physicist but such a political and philosophical boob. One could cite countless examples of so-called "geniuses" whose intelligence is "fragmentary, unilateral, asymmetric, and disproportional." As a result of this imbalance -- or lack of integrity -- their thought will always contain a "hidden poison."
This is why it is critical that our intelligence not become detached from "metaphysical truth or with eschatological reality": "the definition of integral or essential, and thus efficacious, intelligence is the adequation to the real, both 'horizontal' and 'vertical,' terrestrial and celestial." Lacking each of these dimensions, it becomes a pale shadow of man's true capabilities and ousts him from his cosmic station. It necessarily absolutizes the relative and thereby fashions a graven image. The rest is commentary. To live at the horizontal fringe of the cosmos is to subsist at the margin of one's Self. You become an unreal person in an unreal reality.
Let me just conclude by emphasizing that it is extremely dangerous to surround oneself with mediocre and "un-integral" intellects who have no idea that they are. Very dangerous. This point was driven home to me last Saturday, when I was at one of my all-day discontinuing education seminars. The speaker was a renowned psychoanalyst whom I had great difficulty understanding. Not because his thought was so elevated, but because it was so mundane and metaphysically confused.
Here again, it must be emphasized that this has nothing to do with "IQ." But if I were to try to "adapt" my mind to his reality, I would lose it, precisely. I then realized that this was the problem with my whole journey through the educational system. I very nearly lost my mind. This, by the way, is why so-called "intellectuals" such as Peggy Noonan, David Frum, or David Brooks disapprove of Sarah Palin. I would also go nuts if I were forced to assent to these mediocrities. They imagine themselves superior to a Rush Limbaugh, when they're really just lame bloggers with huge platforms.
On to The Justice. I have to admit that this card posed some challenges for me, and in many ways is above my pray grade. For the most part, I try to write about more general religious principles, but this card has a lot of material that is quite specific not only to Christianity, but to Christian mysteries. Therefore, I'll just poke around the edges and see what resonates with me.
I like the idea that to think is to pronounce judgment and to therefore render justice. What immediately comes to mind is the totolerantarian left, which prides itself on being so "non-judgmental." As such, this answers the question of why their thought is so confused and why their policies begin and end in injustice. And of course, they are actually extremely judgmental, but since they are not permitted to realize it, must project it into the "intolerant" right. Thus, hanging Sarah Palin in effigy is "art," while hanging Obama in effigy -- which no conservative would actually do, but liberals know they'd really like to -- is vile and racist.
I also like what UF has to say about science, as it is pretty much the Raccoon view, being that we by no means reject science, but nor do we turn it into an idol. As UF writes, the application of science has resulted in three singular discoveries; first, the fact that this is an evolutionary (which is not to say "Darwinian") cosmos; second, that matter reduces to pure energy; and third, that the consciousness of the surface ego is but a "local" phenomenon floating within (actually, "outside") an upper and lower vertical which are nonlocal (i.e., the "unconscious" and all it implies).
Whereas science is "public" and "general," esoterism is private and particular. In short, no one else can make its discoveries for you. This is knowledge that cannot simply be "given" to you. Rather, it must be undergone -- even at times "suffered" -- so that in each person it will have a slightly different inflection but nevertheless be "objective." This is a critical point.
As UF writes, only a person may synthesize religion and science. Religion cannot do it. Nor can science do it. Thus, the esoterist engages in a "double discipline": he prays and he thinks. Or he "thinks on his knees." In so doing, he is able to "redeem" whatever it is he successfully assimilates. And this integral assimilation can only occur under the conditions of creativity, clarity, fluidity, precision, warmth, magnanimity, sensitivity, faithfulness, intensity, breadth, depth, height, adaptability, firmness, dignity, and serenity.
This is how one turns mere perception and thought into a real Cosmos worthy of Man.
Location: Floating in His Cloud-Hidden Bobservatory, Inside the Centers for Spiritual Disease Control and Pretension, Tonga
Who spirals down the celestial firepole on wings of slack, seizes the wheel of the cosmic bus, and embarks upin a bewilderness adventure of higher nondoodling? Who, haloed be his gnome, loiters on the threshold of the transdimensional doorway, looking for handouts from Petey? Who, with his doppelgägster and testy snideprick, Cousin Dupree, wields the pliers and blowtorch of fine insultainment for the ridicure of assouls? Who is the gentleman loaffeur who yoinks the sword from the stoned philosopher and shoves it in the breadbasket of metaphysical ignorance and tenure? Whose New Testavus for the Restavus blows the locked doors of the empyrean off their rusty old hinges and sheds a beam of intense darkness on the world enigma? Who is the Biggest Fakir of the Vertical Church of God Knows What, channeling the roaring torrent of 〇 into the feeble stream of cyberspace? Who is the masked pandit who lobs the first water balloon out the motel window at the annual Raccoon convention? Shut your mouth! But I'm talkin' about bʘb! Then we can dig it!