Monday, December 29, 2008

How to be a Big unKnow-it-All

As I mentioned in last Saturday's post, I recently had the opportunity to reread Robert Bolton's Self and Spirit. I first read it about a year ago and probably intended to discuss it at the time, but quickly moved onto something else -- I think his previous book, Gnosis -- and then forgot about it. But the book is full of important insights that I'd like to spend some time expanding upon and assimilating.

Also, I think we'll let me, Bob's Unconscious, take the wheel of the bus, so this interior duologue may or may not be of benefit to you. Which doesn't matter much anyway, since we seem to have run off most of our readers with the the lengthy MOTT series. We're down to the diehards, dead-enders, cultists, and stalkers.

The point is, Bob's Unconscious does not -- cannot -- write for an "audience." Rather, he -- or we -- just rants. Also, since we are attempting to articulate the "unThought known," we have to somehow bypass the entity that already "knows it all." In other words, we're taking the keys to the bus away from Bob.

Consider this a peek into the supraterranean One Cosmos liberatory, where you can actually see some of our delicious products in the process of being made, using only the finest theologoumena, and then offering them to you fully half-baked.

Now, speaking of the unThought known, this is one of the most vital virtual organs for the detection of God. Without it, you're pretty much screwed and going to hell, gosh! It's analogous to a "sense of humor," which is not itself funny, but the ability to know what is funny ahead of time. The latter is an empty category, or a "preconceptual readiness" to appreciate humor in whatever form it arises. You may have noticed that a gifted comedian is often able to see the humor in some everyday situation that goes unnoticed by most people. The humor is already in us, but we don't explicitly think about it until the comedian "reminds" us of it, which then causes us to laugh with re-cognition.

I would say that Raccoon theology is somewhat like that. It's not as if the B'ob tells you anything you don't already know, I mean, right? Rather, he mainly gives voice to preconceptual airy-fairy things you may not have consciously thought about. Hence, the sacred "guffah-HA!" experience when he punches you right in the nous and gets a clean kill. But this is true of all real theology, which is aimed at vertical re-collection. Whenever Bob's or anyone else's key fits perfectly into your unThought known, you will notice a little "tickle." You should try to be aware of this and eventually transform it into more of a real chortle or belly laugh. Ho!

It's also somewhat like being a good cook. We think of someone having a good visual or verbal imagination, but having a good gustatory imagination is a thing apart -- like having a good "tactile imagination," which I suppose blind people possess. A good and adventurous cook can presumably combine ingredients in unexpected ways, because he has a sort of highly developed "foretaste" of potentially tasty combinations. Frankly, I think this is how advances take place in any field, which was one of Polanyi's core points -- the idea that the scientific researcher is guided by tacit foreknowledge of, say, an as yet undiscovered chile recipe.

But at the same time, it's a tricky balance, because if your mind is saturated with too much foreknowledge, then it closes off the possibility of new discoveries. And this may sound like blasphemy, but who said that all the great theological discoveries have already been made? At the very least, I know for sure that they haven't been made by Bob. I mean, I could take someone else's word for it, but I'm not much interested in second hand theology unless it specifically illuminates my own unThought known. Theology's the ultimate adventure, baby. It's not supposed to be just mechanical memorization.

The other book we've been rereading is McGinn's excellent introduction to the mystical theology of Meister Eckhart, The Man From Whom God Hid Nothing. Who knows if it was providential or cooncidental, but I am finding that these two books illuminate one another into a "higher third," and you might say that it is this "third" to which we are attempting to give birth in concrete form.

The birth metaphor is quite exact, and in fact, this was one of Eckhart's key psimiles -- that the birth of the Word is eternally recapitulated in the ground of the soul. Jesus reconciles creation with Creator on a macro scale, but we must nevertheless engage in the same activity on a micro scale, i.e., "the imitation of Christ." You might say that he blazed the trail, but that doesn't mean that we don't have to take the journey. It just means the journey is possible, because Christ is always coming down and "taking on" human nature: "Since we possess human nature, the same nature that the Word united to himself, by grace we are now Christ's 'personal being'" (McGinn).

Also, you definitely have to appreciate Eckhart's outrageous sense of humor, which, unfortunately, the religious authorities of the time did not. He uses humor in a zen sort of way, in order to jolt you out of your habitual way of seeing things. He is the True GagDaddy.

Eckhart reveled in "word games that are meant to be both playful and serious insofar as they 'play' a role in the practice of deconstructing the self and freeing it from all that pertains to the created world. Identity in the ground [of being] is a 'wandering' and 'playful' identity.... Speaking to a restricted group of learned God-seekers, he also feels free to indulge... in paradox, oxymoron, and hyperbole," the "rare and subtle" forms of speech "that comprise the 'shock treatment' of a mystical discourse designed to awaken by challenging traditional modes of speaking and understanding" (McGinn).

Like the unThought known, "the ground is transcendentally real as 'pure possibility,'" and "is the 'place' from which the mystic must learn to live, act, and know" (McGinn). It is also flowing and spontaneous, like jazz: "Many of Eckhart's sermons have an improvisational character, appearing as a series of virtuoso variations on oft-repeated themes."

I didn't intend to get so deeply into Eckart, but I did want to mention what he said about the unThought known: "This not-knowing draws [the soul] into amazement and keeps her on the hunt, for she clearly recognizes 'that he is,' but she does not know 'what' or 'how' he is.... [T]he unknown-knowing keeps the soul constant and still on the hunt" (Eckhart). McGinn says that "this incommunicable knowledge keeps the mystic ever on the inward path, not turned outside."

Now, this "inward path" is the path back to God. Just yesterday Bob was comparing it to a sort of vertical mine shaft, in which we must all work in darkness, taking one blow after another, occasionally pulling out a nugget of gold, and getting closer each day to the Fatherlode. It's there. We can sense it with our charcoal activated cOOnvision, like old Walter Huston smells the gold in Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Here's how Eckhart describes the cOOnvision: "Though it may be called an unknowing, an uncomprehending, it still has more within it than all knowing and comprehending outside it, for this unknowing lures and draws you from all that is known, and also from yourself."

The B'ob make many veiled references to this in the Cosmobliteration section of the Coonifesto, such as unknowculate your brain; leave your apprehensions behind; knowing without knowledge all that can be unKnown; return your soul to its upright position and extinguish all (me)mories; etc.

Also, the importance of having a divine sense of humor at the outset: last rung in's a written gag; your seenil grammar and gravidad may not be malapropriate for my laughty revelation; that's the New Man, we're just putting him on; when you reach a ribald age you can grasp the wheel of this broken-down trancebardation, etc.

And not a moment sooner!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

We Hold These Truths to be Self-Serving

This is a timely re-run, because I was thinking about careening into a new area that expands upon some of the ideas discussed herein. Specifically, I had the opportunity to reread Robert Bolton's Self and Spirit. I first read it about a year ago, but I raced through it so quickly that I didn't really have the chance to "dialogue" with it and assimilate its considerable light.

The book definitely illuminates some of the points raised in this post, and I believe that it may help to expand upon many ambiguities, subtleties, and outright evasions of Raccoon theology. So I guess that's where the cosmic bus is headed next week.

*****

There are some things that human beings may know with metaphysical certitude. In fact, our access to truth and our knowledge of the Absolute are two of the related principles that define us as human (truth itself being a reflection of the Absolute).

Obviously, no other animal can know truth, much less absolute truth. The moment one realizes this -- assuming one really and truly does -- one understands that the human state is not a Darwinian "extension" of the animal state, but something fundamentally inexplicable on any materialistic basis. It is, in fact, a gate of exit out of mere animality -- indeed, out of the relative cosmos itself. Humans are a "hole" in creation that allows them to know the whole of creation; in our heart is a mysterious absence that potentially holds all the Presence.

For in knowing absolute truth, human beings may participate in eternity on this side of manifestation -- in the relative world. The trick is to, so to speak, "prolong" eternity on this plane. We do this by 1) aligning ourselves with truth, and 2) assimilating truth. By "assimilating," I mean that we must metabolize truth so that it is "interiorized" and becomes mingled with our very psychic substance. We must "eat and breathe" absolute truth in order to become it and live it.

Authentic religion is the vehicle of absolute truth. You might say that absolute truth, the Godhead, the Ain Sof, the Supermind, Nirguna Brahman, or the God-beyond-being, are analogous to white light, whereas each authentic revelation is analogous to a color in the rainbow. This is why religions cannot be mixed "from below," lest you produce a manmade blending of colors that eventually ends up black, not white. However, this hardly means that one religion cannot be more complete than another, or illuminate this or that doctrine more effectively than another.

Christianity, for example, is obviously a complete religion. Nor will I argue with anyone who maintains that it is the "best" or most complete religion (indeed, what other religion is capacious enough to produce and contain both Bach and Aretha Franklin?). Nevertheless, it is obviously the case that some of the greatest Christian thinkers -- true theologians such as Meister Eckhart, Origen, or Denys the Areopagite -- exist only at the margins of contemporary Christianity, if they exist at all.

And once you immerse yourself, say, in the genius of Meister Eckhart, you immediately see the parallels with, say, the greatest Jewish theologian, Moses Maimonides. Then you cannot help seeing certain unavoidable parallels with perhaps the greatest pagan mystic, Plotinus, then it's hard to distinguish him from the immortal Vedantin, Shankara. You needn't "blend" any of these truly celestial beings in order to appreciate how they are reflected in one another, each a particular color that carries and transmits real light.

Most of us cannot know the white light, but each color is in the end nothing other than light, just as rain or snow are nothing other than water. It's a bit like being able to appreciate, say, Arvo Part, Van Morrison, Duke Ellington, Merle Haggard, and James Brown. Each is a musical "avatar" who conveys real musical light, but I wouldn't want to blend them.

Apparently, it is difficult for most rank and file human beings to conceive of the Absolute on its own absolute terms, so they create a human substitute to stand for the Absolute. In short, they intuit the Absolute and believe in the Absolute, but the only way they can "think" about it is to elevate something on the relative plane to the status of Absolute.

This is fine as far as it goes, and it does help those who are not metaphysically gifted to think about ultimate things. Nevertheless, it can end up elevating religion to God, and thereby become a form of idolatry. At the very least, it can place sharp limits on transcendence, and end up being (k)-->O, except on a grandiose scale.

There is a way to "dwell" in religion to use it as a launching pad into O -- which is the actual purpose of religion in its highest sense. But let's not kid ourselves. Most people must be satisfied to align themselves with an exoteric religion in order to gain what might be called a "second hand" sense of the Absolute -- which is again fine, by the way, and certainly preferable to disbelief or to belief in frank nonsense such as atheism, materialism, or reductionistic Darwinism. It is certainly a way of salvation. It is just not our way.

In an article entitled Are You Certain About That?, Jonah Goldberg discusses one of the latest leftist memes. However, it is not so much a meme as the central core of leftism, which in the end embodies an assault on truth and a rejection of the Absolute -- which is impossible both in principle and in fact, which is why leftism is fundamentally and irretrievably incoherent.

Goldberg writes, "Have you heard the news? Belief is bad. Pick up an eggheady book review, an essay in Time magazine, or listen to a thumb-suck session on National Public Radio for very long and you’ll soon hear someone explain that real conviction -- dogmatism! -- is dangerous."

For example, "Andrew Sullivan, in his new book The Conservative Soul, declares a jihad on certainty, by which he means the certainty of fundamentalist 'Christianists' -- the allusion to Islamists is deliberate. The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait proclaims that liberalism is the anti-dogmatic ideology. Sam Harris, a leading proselytizer for atheism, has declared a one-man crusade on religious certainty. Intellectual historian J.P. Diggins writes in the latest issue of The American Interest that there’s a war afoot for 'the soul of the American Republic' between the forces of skepticism and infallibility. And so on."

Superficially, this leftist meme reflects their concern about the alleged “messianic certainty” of President Bush, which "is dangerous and evil in the eyes of supposedly meek and nuanced liberals." Goldberg notes that the meme has naturally trickled from the laughty mountains of academia, where the nonsensical air is rarified, down to the rivers, streams, and crocks below, including Hollywood. For example, in Star Wars III, "a young Obi-Wan Kenobi proclaim[s] 'Only a Sith lord deals in absolutes!' Translation: Only evil people see the world as black-and-white."

Which is ironic, "since it was Lucas himself who originally explained that the entire universe is divided into light and dark sides." Goldberg also cites retired New York Times moonbat columnist Anthony Lewis, who famously wrote in his last column that the one thing he had learned in his long and tedious career was that "certainty is the enemy of decency and humanity in people who are sure they are right, like Osama bin Laden and John Ashcroft.” As if there is anything more beligerently certain than the idiotorial pages of the New York Times.

But absolute relativism is the sine qua non of metaphysical nonsense. It is one thing thing we can know with certainty that cannot be true, for if the relativist’s belief is true, then he has left relativism behind. Then the question becomes “which Absolute is true?” But there can be only one Absolute, so the question is absurd. However, as Schuon points out, although there can be no absolutely relative, there can obviously be a "relative absolute," which is what I regard as the realm of O-->(k). This is where a Meister Eckhart or Jakob Boehme lived, which is why they can at times appear heterodox.

I remember a remark made by Eckhart at his trial that touches on this. He said that some of the more "rare and subtle" passages in his works "had to be explained in light of his good intentions and within the context of the preaching genre" (McGinn): "The whole of what was said is false and absurd according to the imagination of opponents, but it is true according to true understanding." Of another controversial blog post, he commented that "It must be said that this is false and an error, as it sounds. But it is true, devout, and moral of the just person, insofar as he is just..." In other words, right being was a prerequisite for right understanding. Ain't it the truth!

This principle doesn't just apply to contemplatives but to men of action whose shield is Truth, for Goldberg writes that most of the truly heroic figures in human history have been animated “by certainty, by the courage of their convictions” -- by O-->(k), except on the plane of action. Our founders knew with metaphysical certitude that human liberty could only have come from a creator, and that a creator cannot be other than the Creator. For truth is one and liberty is a condition of knowing it: no liberty, no truth, no truth, no liberty; and there can be neither truth nor liberty unless it is principially absolute, like the Creator from whom they flow.

Again, the leftist rejection of absolute truth cannot avoid being incoherent. As Goldberg writes, “Martin Luther King Jr. -- to pick liberalism’s most iconic hero -- was hardly plagued with doubt about the rightness of his cause. A Rosa Parks charged with today’s reigning moral imperative not to be too sure of herself might not have sat at the front of the bus. An FDR certain that certainty is the enemy of decency and humanity might have declined to declare total war on Nazism for fear of becoming as bad as his enemy.”

Thus, the rejection of absolutes -- which flow from the Absolute -- is steeped in hypocrisy, since leftists “aren’t offended by conviction per se, but by convictions they do not hold.” “Certainty” has simply “become code among the intellectual priesthood for people and ideas that can be dismissed out of hand. That’s what is so offensive about this fashionable nonsense: It breeds the very closed-mindedness it pretends to fight.”

Imagine if this country were actually founded upon a wimpy rejection of metaphysical certitude and the leftist embrace of relativism?

We hold these preliminary observations to be more or less adequate, at least convenient for the time being, that all cultures have equal validity, and that each culture has its own ideas about rights and entitlements and so forth and so on and blah blah blah. In our case, we have hit upon this idea -- no offense, but we have this tentative notion -- subject to further studies, of course -- that we would like the government -- that would be your government -- to cut us some slack so that we can do what we want to do -- basically acquire property and "do our thing," whilst trying not to infringe upon anyone else's thing...

Anyhoo, it is our culturally conditioned idea that Governments -- not all of them, of course, but ours -- should actually derive their power from the people, although we have respect and tolerance for the contrary view that you folks hold. Nevertheless, some of our more headstrong citizens think that we should be able to form a government based upon these vague hunches of ours, which, after all, are as good as your hunches. No, that was rude -- let's just say that our hunches are different than yours, and leave it at that.... No one can presume to be a judge of whose hunches are best.... At any rate, since, as the saying goes, "different strokes for different folks," we....

Friday, December 26, 2008

How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes

It's Christmas vacation. Reruns today and tomorrow.

*****

Now, I'm not an anthropopogist. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn -- and steal their flag -- and I do know a thing or two about a thing or three. And one of the things I know is that pre-human hominids only became human because of the specifically trinitarian nature of the human developmental situation: mother-father-helpless baby. This, by the way, is one of the many reasons I do not believe intellignt life will ever be found on other planets, because genes and natural selection are only the necessary but not sufficient (much less formal or final) cause of our humanness.

In other words, even supposing that life arose elsewhere and began evolving large brains, a large brain would never be sufficient to allow for humanness. Rather, the key to the whole existentialada -- the missing link, so to speak -- is the extremely unlikely invention of the helpless and neurologically incomplete infant who must be born approximately 12 months "premature" so that his brain can be assembled at the same time it is being mothered. If we had come out of the womb neurologically complete, then there would be no "space" for humanness to emerge or take root. We would be Neanderthals. Literally.

The dozens of you who have read my book know that I do not find this at all incompatible with a spiritual view. For one thing, I never rule out the invisible hand of providence. Furthermore, infantile helplessness is the space where verticality enters the evolutionary picture. All other animals are completely limited and determined by their genes. Only humans have the privilege of being ushered into a transcendent, non-genetic vertical world of love, truth and beauty, which is both timeless and anterior to their discovering it. It was always "there," but only became accessible as a result of the unique circumstances of human development.

Comes now a study by two real anthropologists, Professors Stine and Kuhn, who (unwittingly) provide further evidence for the Gagdadian view: "Diversified social roles for men, women, and children may have given Homo sapiens an advantage over Neanderthals, says a new study in the December 2006 issue of Current Anthropology. The study argues that division of economic labor by sex and age emerged relatively recently in human evolutionary history and facilitated the spread of modern humans throughout Eurasia."

Coming out of the contemporary academic milieu, they apparently cannot help putting a quasi-Marxist spin on their findings, seeing them merely in economic -- i.e., materialistic -- terms rather than drawing out their psychological implications: "The competitive advantage enjoyed by modern humans came not just from new weapons and devices but from the ways in which their economic lives were organized around the advantages of cooperation and complementary subsistence roles for men, women, and children." Sort of a combination of Adam Smith and Eve.

To back up a bit, there was a time when two distinct versions of... of folks roamed the planet... much like today, actually. That would be the Neanderthals and us -- or Homo sapiens sapiens. Neanderthals emerged around 250,000 years ago, taking their bows and exiting the evolutionary stage around 30,000 ago. Signs of division of labor only appear with the arrival of modern humans (not Neanderthals) into Europe around 40,000 years ago. (Interestingly, this is right around the time of the "creative explosion" of Homo sapiens sapiens discussed in Chapter 3 of my book, an unprecedented outpouring of cave art, musical instruments, body decoration, burial of the dead, and other distinct evidence of actual "humanness.")

An article in the Times notes that, "At sites occupied by modern humans from 45,000 to 10,000 years ago... there is good evidence of different occupations.... It seems reasonable to assume that these activities were divided between men and women, as is the case with modern foraging peoples. But Neanderthal sites include no bone needles, no small animal remains and no grinding stones for preparing plant foods."

The question is, "what did Neanderthal women do all day?," since the roller derby was a far off dream, and the WNBA only came into existence in the late 20th century. Neanderthal skeletons "are so robustly built that it seems improbable that they just sat at home looking after the children, the anthropologists write. More likely, they did the same as the men, with the whole population engaged in bringing down large game."

In other words, it seems that Neanderthals were not trinitarian but essentially binarian (adult-child) or perhaps even unitarian, in that everyone, even children, participated in the hunt. The study again focuses on the economic angle, speculating that modern humans, because of "their division of labor and diversified food sources, would have been better able to secure a continuous food supply." Furthermore, unlike the Neanderthals, they wouldn't have put their "reproductive core" -- that is, women and children -- at such a great risk.

But there is an interior side to this picture, and that is the evolutionary effect that completely devoted mothers would have had on children. In chapter 3.3 of my book, Humans and How They Got That Way: Putting the Sapiens into Homo, I argued that it is completely reasonable to assume that in the distant past, humans became human in the identical way they do today.

I can see that I won't have time to flesh out the entire theory here, but that's what the book is for. But the bottom line is that as human brains became larger and larger -- and pelvises became narrower due to bipedalism -- it became necessary for women to give birth earlier and earlier, to the point that infants had to be born neurologically incomplete, to such an extent that much of the brain's development had to take place outside the womb -- a pattern completely unique among the primates.

More than anything else, it was this delayed development, or neoteny, that created the possibility of our acquisition of humanness. But that is not all. Because human infants were born in this way, it obviously became increasingly necessary for human mothers to specialize in mothering -- otherwise, these helpless infants would not have survived. But there was an obvious benefit, as I believe this situation of increasingly helpless babies and increasingly devoted mothers created a sort of runaway positive feedback loop for greater intelligence:

"It seems obvious that, in order for babies to survive, they had to become adept at 'evoking' the environment they needed to survive -- specifically, an intelligent, caring mother. Perhaps it sounds odd, but it seems an inescapable conclusion that, in order for babies to specialize in babyhood, they had to 'select' mothers who were intelligent, capable, and empathic enough to be up to the task of caring for them. Think about it: caring for a helpless infant is at least as complex and challenging on a moment-to-moment basis as hunting for game. [Memo from relatively new father: I was not wrong about this -- ed.] Let's face it: those mothers who did not develop these complex mothering skills may have gotten their genes into the next generation, but not long enough for that generation to do the same."

As I said, I don't have time to present the full argument with all of its implications here. However, you will note on page 127 of my book that I cited research indicating that the brains of Neanderthals were actually larger than ours, but that they seem to have become fully developed at an earlier age. In other words, it seems possible that they were not born as premature, so that the window of development slammed shut sooner, so to speak. What this suggests to me is that they were more animal than human, more under the influence of genes than of humanness, i.e., the vertical. All Neanderthals were hunters because that is what their genes designed them to do. Hunting was not a "role," any more than hunting is a role for cats or coyotes. Roles were invented by modern humans, those roles being father, mother, and helpless infant.

And as I also argued in my book, once you have the abstract category of any role, then in effect you have all roles. In particular, the mother-infant diad evokes the purely social role of father, and then we're off to the races. Conversely, eliminate the role of father, and human evolution comes to a standstill. But really, if you mess with any part of this trinity, the whole human-generating mechanism collapses. This is something that is deeply recognized in particular by the Jewish tradition, and is by far the strongest argument as to why the redefinition of marriage would be a rubicon in the ultimate collapse of civilization. In order to become men, boys must desexualize the father and identify with his logos, not desire his body.

There is nothing which is more necessary and more precious in the experience of human childhood than parental love.... nothing more precious, because the parental love experienced in childhood is moral capital for the whole of life.... It is so precious, this experience, that it renders us capable of elevating ourselves to more sublime things--even divine things. It is thanks to the experience of parental love that our soul is capable of raising itself to the love of God. --Meditations on the Tarot

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On Becoming Transparent to Your Trans-Parent (1.20.12)

A word of caution:

"The rule of every serious esoterist should be to be silent -- often for a length of years -- concerning every new illumination or inspiration that he has, so as to give it the necessary time to mature, i.e., to acquire that certainty which results from its accordance with moral consciousness, moral logic, the totality of spiritual and ordinary experience -- that of friends and spiritual guides of the past and present -- as also with divine revelation, whose eternal dogmas are guiding constellations in the intellectual and moral heaven" (Meditations on the Tarot).

Even Jesus apparently spoke not a word of these matters until around age 30. Ironically, things are so much easier today that they can be more difficult, in that every unqualified yahoo has instant access to the most sublime wisdom.

But just because one can read, it hardly means one understands. Rather, it merely gives the illusion of understanding. Plenty of liberals have gone to law school, and yet, do not understand the point of the Constitution.

Nor do atheists understand religion, to which they stand as living proof. Only a kind of cosmic narcissism allows them to convert a disability into a virtue, to elevate a confession of ignorance to a witness of truth. It's incredibly childlike, really, for children are also unable to stand back from their immediate perceptions and appreciate their limitations.

Once detached from the vertical, one is in the "zone of mirages." Now, just because this zone isn't real, it doesn't mean it isn't "creative." It's just that it is a kind of worthless creativity (the world of "infertile eggheads") that bears on no eternal truth or beauty transcending itself. It is "art for art's sake," which is no better than "science for science's sake."

Liberals think that conservatives are "anti-science" because we understand that science must always converge on something higher than itself, at risk of becoming demonic. One can never derive values from science -- the ought from the is.

This is the monstrosity of reductionistic Darwinism: not that it is "true," but that it replaces the Truth of which it can only be a tiny reflection. For if Darwinism is the integral truth of man, dreadful consequences necessarily follow -- not the least of which being the impossibility of Truth. I won't even bother to catalogue them, for only a bona fide intellectual and spiritual cretin such as Queeg could be unaware of them.

That Darwinism can satisfy his barren intellect is a statement about his intellect, not about Truth. Such ingrates have no idea what religion has done for them, because it has all been done collectively and subliminally through a kind of cultural and historical osmosis. But to be unaware of the extraordinary spiritual sacrifices others have made in order to make your insignificant life possible is to live as a barbarian. Your whole miserable life is lived in borrowed -- no, stolen -- Light.

What is true will always be so. Scientific fads and fashions will come and go, but Man will always be in the image of the Creator, a meta-cosmic truth from which our rights, our duties, and our dignity flow. Only man can -- and therefore must! -- live by the light of eternity, so that all we do, say, write, create and think, can resonate with the Real and thus "pass the test of time": "Artists, like esoterists, are obliged to make their works pass the trial of time, so that the poisonous plants from the sphere of mirages can be uprooted, and there remains only the wheat -- pure and ripe."

When I write something, I want it to stay written. I am always writing from the standpoint of eternity, not because I am grandiose, but because it is the least one can do. Otherwise, there is no point whatsoever of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, at least regarding the matters we discuss here. This is not a shopping list or editorial, much less something as trivial as an academic paper.

In order to properly do one's omwork, one's writing must be "objective," even while being "transparent," or perhaps "translucent," in that it must be both solid and capable of refracting the Light. Why? Because this is the way in which the Divine Spirit works.

To get the ego out of the way merely means to try to transcend all pettiness, all that is time-bound, all that refers back to oneself instead of pointing beyond. I must decrease so that He may increase: one "becomes poor, so as to be able to receive the wealth of the divine spirit..."

This is "the gesture of actualizing below that which is above," so that one's very life becomes a work of sacred art -- which is again to be transparent to that which transcends oneself.

Adieu, dear unknown friend.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Road Trip! (1.19.12)

[W]e live in tents, not houses, for spiritually we are always on the move. We are on a journey through the inward space of the heart, a journey not measured by the hours of our watch or the days of the calendar, for it is a journey out of time and into eternity. --Kallistos Ware

Got sort of sidetracked yesterday. UF was speaking of the joy that accompanies movement of any kind, which reminds me of the sacred Road Trip. Back in my college days -- which, lucky for me, lasted until I was 32 -- we would load up the car with a few cases of beer, get on the road, and take off for parts unknown. It seems to me that it was the movement we craved. It didn't matter where we ended up, so long as we ended up intoxicated.

Which, when you think about it, is another kind of "movement," from one state of mind to another. From my first taste of satan's balm at the age of 17, I well remember this sensation of psychic movement. Technically speaking, I never really cared for being intoxicated. Rather, I enjoyed the movement there. Once you were there, the movement was over. Which is also why I shunned hard liquor: too fast.

I remember back when I was a film student, we talked about the idea that there were two archetypal American characters, one of whom put down roots, the other of whom just kept on a-movin'. That was one of the great things about America, the mobility. America is all about mobility of various kinds -- not just social and economic, but intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual as well. It's why it is difficult for some of us to join a religious institution, because we gots to keep rollin'.

Reminds me of Bob Dylan, and his "never ending tour." Why does he stay on the road forever, when he could live in a palace anywhere on earth and spend all day having money fights with his grandchildren? Because he's the driftin' kind. For him, paradise is apparently a tour bus to nowhere, staring out the window with the scenery flying past.

I'm no big fan of Jack Kerouac, but I just googled him for a quote, since his On the Road has become the archetype -- albeit an adolescent one -- for the peculiarly American joy of sheer movement:

"What is the feeling when you're driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? -- it's the too huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

“We were all delighted, we all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one and noble function of the time, move.”

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”

I remember Seinfeld touching on this in one of his routines. His hobby is driving. Why? Because you can be outside and inside at the same time. Plus, you can be sitting down and moving at the same time.

I agree. Although I am now more of an extreme indoorsman, my favorite exterior hobby might well be driving my car through the canyon roads with the CD player blasting. It seems to me that this activity is a sort of miracle, and yet, it's so common that people don't seem to fully appreciate it. Flying through space with Sun Ra in your ears, playing for you from saturn via his cosmic funkmanship? Remarkable.

I think "progressives" must confuse the road trip with politics. That is, at the end of the day, despite all of the frenetic movement, the progressive still hasn't gotten anywhere. Indeed, that is the whole point of the road trip -- to go from somewhere to nowhere, just for the thrill of it. But in order to do this, you must have maps and boundaries; in other words, to go off the map, you must first have one. The drifters need the settlers, and vice versa. They are a function of one another.

But look at the Obama cultists, a disproportionate number of whom are the young and stupid. Why? Because they want change, AKA movement. They didn't vote for a president, but for a driver for the road trip. Meanwhile, Obama has apparently sobered up since November 4. That's not when the road trip started -- that's when it ended, which his passengers are slowly beginning to realize. If this is a road trip, it's a trip back to the Clinton '90s, a bridge to the twentieth century.

Now, there are two kinds of spirituality that mirror the drifter and settler, which you might say reflect the "static" and "dynamic" aspects of God. The further east you go -- psychospiritually speaking -- the more you see the divine stasis, the eternal rest, the unmoved mover, the idea of entering nirvana, which literally means to "extinguish the light." But the same holds for Christianity, in that Eastern Orthodoxy prides itself on the fact that it hasn't changed since the time of the apostles. For them, the Catholics are the Protestants.

On the other extreme, you have all of the Christian movements that have arisen here in the United States. Why? I imagine a big part of it has to do with the idea of movement as it pertains to the American psyche. We will never be a majority Catholic or Orthodox nation for the same reason we reject public transportation. We want to travel about in our own vehicles. Is it possible to do this without being hopelessly heretical and narcissistic, like the new agers and integralists? Is it possible to be an "orthodox drifter?"

As a matter of fact, I think UF does a pretty good job of describing this person in Letter IX, The Hermit. For isn't that what the Hermit is, a religious hobo?

Come to think of it, what's the subtitle of the book? A Journey into Christian Hermeticism.

One of the best known of the Desert Fathers of fourth-century Egypt, St. Sarapion the Sindonite, traveled once on a pilgrimage to Rome. Here he was told of a celebrated recluse, a woman who lived always in one small room, never going out. Skeptical about her way of life -- for he was himself a great wanderer -- Sarapion called on her and asked: "Why are you sitting here?" To this she replied: "I am not sitting, I am on a journey." --Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Breast of the West (1.17.12)

UF asks the question: "Does not the very idea of movement -- biological, psychic or intellectual, it does not matter -- presuppose an affirmative impulse, a conscious or unconscious 'yes,' self-willed or instinctive, at the basis of all movement that is not purely mechanical?" Indeed, if this "yes" were not at the basis of things, then "universal weariness and disgust would have long ago put an end to all life."

Now that I think about it, virtually all forms of mental illness have as a central feature a lack of movement, or a "stuckness" about them. When someone is depressed, it is not just that they are sad -- everyone has their moods -- but that they are in a kind of static and joyless state of mind. There is no movement. Or, if there is movement, it's all arbitrary. Nothing is any better or worse than anything else. There is no convergent meaning, as everything goes "flat."

Come to think of it, this is the reason why one of my first published papers touched on this very topic. In it, I compared the workings of the mind to a dissipative structure. Here it is: Psychoanalysis, Chaos and Complexity: The Evolving Mind as a Dissipative Structure.

The reason I bring this up is that in my book, I took some of these same ideas and merely transposed them to the key of Spirit -- the central idea being that the higher self, no different than the local ego, can only grow under certain conditions; specifically, it must be open, it must be far from equilibrium, and it must exchange matter, energy, or information with the environment.

I hope this doesn't sound academic, because it is actually highly practical. In fact, I'm a little surprised and relieved that I'm not famous, because it is a kind of "master key" that unifies disparate phenomena, both within and across domains.

Let's begin with the realm of psychology. I believe that all forms of psychopathology result from the person failing on some level to meet the criteria for a dissipative structure.

For example, let's take the pathological narcissist. The narcissist typically develops a "false self" or "as if" personality to negotiate with the outside world. While he will use people to prop up and mirror the false self, in reality, there is no deep exchange with others, i.e., no L or K link. Rather, he uses people in order to maintian a kind of static equilibrium, so as to avoid painful emotions such as shame. In other words, the narcissist may outwardly appear to have a strong ego, but it is actually quite brittle. The very purpose of his narcissistic defenses (i.e., the false self) is to protect it from an emotional catastrophe.

But such a person slowly dies from within, because if one cannot tolerate pain, one cannot tolerate pleasure. In order to maintain the closed system, the narcissist also closes himself to real love, which causes the soul to wither from within. He eventually dies of his addiction to the false mirroring.

When people hear the term "narcissism," they often think of it in terms of physical beauty, but it can equally affect the intellect. Academia is full of brilliant people whose intelligence has been hijacked in the service of their narcissism, so that their minds eventually become closed and therefore no longer susceptible to real organic growth (vs. a kind of mechanical accumulation). Obama's new science advisor, John Holdren, comes readily to mind, but one could think of hundreds of others. One also thinks of Queeg and his petty Darwinian fundamentalism, so utterly closed off from the greater reality.

The other day, I mentioned the schizoid person, whose mind becomes closed for unconscious fear of damaging the other with one's love. Likewise, portions of the personality can become sealed off, frozen, and autistic, and therefore highly resistant to change -- like giant boulders, or sometimes fine sand, within the soul. Other times it is felt as a kind of icy glacier. The point is, the images symbolically disclose an underlying reality, which is always joyless because it does not flow.

Some people who appear to be open systems are actually tightly closed systems who are merely interacting with their own disavowed projections. One thinks of people who suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome. It's fascinating when you think about it, because these people are under the delusion that they are interacting with the "outside" world, when it couldn't be more obvious that they are really just trapped in their own private Idaho.

And here is another key point: this state also brings a kind of pseudo-freedom that conceals actual enslavement to the projected object, from which they cannot in fact get away. It reminds me of the Taoist idea that if you want to control a cow, just give it a large pasture. In America, "freedom of speech" is precisely that large pasture, in which people are free to find their own fences, which then provides the subjective illusion of real freedom. But Raccoons -- by their very nature -- are very quick to identify these intellectual and spiritual fences, which we don't so much "tresspass" as transpass. Did you notice how our former jester was forever trying to contain us in his little scientistic pasture?

I could cite dozens of other examples of how this works on a psychological level, but I think I'll spare you. The point is that the identical principles equally apply to the spiritual plane. The deep structure is the same, but the object (or Subject) is different.

What is a spiritual practice but the effort to form an open system with.... let's just call it O, because if we define it ahead of time, we fall into the danger of actually being a closed system interacting with our own projections. There are so many warnings about this in the patristic literature, not to mention a Meister Eckhart, that I'm not going to get into specific examples.

Well, maybe one. Eckhart spoke of the idea of the soul being like a virgin, or being in a state of poverty. In both cases, he is talking about none other than being a truly open system with O. You know, blessed are the poor in spirit. Why's that? Because their's is the Kingdom of Heaven. Explain. Okay. Poverty = spiritual emptiness. Kingdom of Heaven = the flow of internal joy.

The Tao Te Ching (I love this particular translation) also makes so many brilliant points about this dynamic that I won't bother to cite them all. Here are just a few:

The Tao.... is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.

If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.

But if you want to be crooked, get bent!


Nah, I made that last one up.

Anyway, speaking of Blogo, the same principles apply to politics, for how could they not?:

When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists....
If you don't trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.


Suffice it to say that leftists are not just un-Christian but un-Taoist, being that government becomes a huge and intrusive breast that keeps one a child forever.

But the real coonservative?

I drift like a wave on the ocean,
I blow as aimless as the wind.
I am different from ordinary people.
I drink from the Great Mother's breasts.


You see? The ultimate open system. A divine child forever.

And when the breast is not available, my teddy will just have to do.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

New Study Proves That Political Correctness is a Mental Disorder

When I select a post for the weekly re-run, I go back into the arkive and review what I wrote two years ago. In so doing, a post will generally either make me cringe or draw me in and keep my attention. I guess this one did the latter. It's also been tweaked and fortified with extra thoughts and insults.

******

Yesterday someone left a malodorous link-bomb to an academic study that supposedly shows a correlation between political conservatism and such “traits” as fear, aggression, dogmatism, intolerance of ambiguity, “uncertainty avoidance,” and a need for cognitive closure.

Ironically, the conclusions of this dogmatic study were prematurely set forth by cluelessly intolerant and passive-aggressive liberal academics who are deeply fearful of conservatism, thus disproving their point while proving their own pointlessness. Like so much academic nonsense, the study essentially came down to a self-serving expression of class interest -- the class of economic free-riders known as tenured moonbats who would be otherwise unemployable in the real world.

I didn’t engage in the ensuing debate because it’s another one of those things that’s not only wrong, but not even wrong. Few people are more insular, parochial, and narrow minded than the typical liberal professor, who lives in such a small, closed circle that it’s pretty easy to “prove” whatever they need to prove in order to keep reality at bay.

Academia has essentially been reduced to a domain of pseudo-rationalism, which, in the absence of metaphysical truth, quickly descends into sub-rationalism and irrationalism. (As always, we are mainly speaking of the humanities, not the hard sciences, although the latter becomes equally silly when it morphs into the Darwinian scientism of a Richard Dawkins and the rest of the bonehead atheist crowd.)

As I have noted in the past, there are only three broad means of gaining knowledge about the world, 1) logic and empiricism (i.e., inductive and deductive reasoning), 2) revelation, and 3) pure intellection. Obviously, the vast majority of liberal academics categorically reject the latter two categories, which leaves only the reason, narrowly construed.

Now, reason is a method. It is empty until it is provided with content that has to come from elsewhere. In short, reason cannot provide its own content. So something other than reason has to provide it, and here you see at once the gap through which so much postmodern nonsense rushes in. Because these metaphysical yahoos of the academic left must rely upon -- say it with me, now -- a sham substitute for revelation and intellection to provide the missing content.

Here we touch on the question of pure intelligence, for it is accurate to say that the intellect as such is an "interior revelation," while revelation represents exteriorized intellect. They are two sides of the same coin, and both flow from a higher nonlocal and "uncreated" source, which can be none other than Truth.

But again, the liberal does not and cannot know any of this. To him, it is all "oogedy boogedy" nonsense. However, sustained reflection should convince you that the intellect is a function of Truth, rather than vice versa -- just as something is not true because it is logical, but logical because it is true.

It has always been understood that one of the keys to being a great scientist is the ability to identify a promising and generative problem. Here again, this mysterious process is completely trans-logical. We cannot say it is “illogical," but it definitely doesn't obey the formal operations of mere linear logic. Rather, the ability to “see” an interesting problem -- and its potential solution -- is much closer to the realm of aesthetics than to logic.

Einstein, for example, was a mediocre mathematician. He did not arrive at his revolutionary theories through any strictly logical process, but by applying pure intelligence to problems that intrigued him but not others. Not only did he “see” the solution to those problems before he worked them out mathematically, but he was one hundred percent convinced that what he saw was true, regardless of empirical studies that didn’t confirm his theory of gravitation until 1919. When asked what he would think if the empirical results did not support his theory, he replied, "I would feel sorry for dear old God. My theory is correct."

A couple of weeks ago I related the story of how I not only managed to bluff my way into graduate school, but once there, continue bluffing beyond the abilities of classmates who, unlike me, actually had undergraduate degrees in psychology. But gradually, I realized that I wasn't actually bluffing, but somehow "thinking beyond myself," in the same manner that I do with the blog. It took me a while in life to find my path, but once on that path, I definitely “knew” things that came to me in a non-empirical way.

And in fact, looking back on it, I am quite sure that if I had begun studying psychology when in was 18 or 19, accumulating and memorizing what passes for psychological knowledge in academia, I would have in all likelihood buried this capacity for direct knowing under a load of received nonsense. Like so many academics, I would have been “educated” at the cost of my intellect.

Again, I always use the term “intellect” in its time-honored way, as that which allows the human being to distinguish between substance and accidents. Intellection is direct knowledge of reality, very much analogous to physical perception. If you see something with your eyes, no one will ask you to prove the existence of sight. But in our current anti-intellectual climate, if you perceive something equally vividly with the intellect, you will be asked to provide logical proof -- itself a wholly illogical demand.

In reality, only an intellect of equal or greater depth can judge the claims of the intellect. And there is no rational basis whatsoever for determining who has the deeper intellect. It is only something we can know with our own awakened intellect. I can assure you that, for example, Meister Eckhart's or Frithjof Schuon's intellect is infinitely deeper than, say, Richard Dawkins' -- indeed, it couldn’t be more obvious. But can I prove it with logic? Of course not, any more than one can logically or empirically prove the greater artistic depth of one musician over another.

So in approaching these studies that prove conservatives are somehow maladjusted, you must first try to imagine the puny intellects of the researchers, and the "problems" that intrigue them as a result of that puniness. Obviously, trapped within the constraints of their narrow vision, they felt that it was worthwhile to study the link between conservatism and maladaptive personality traits, because their little minds already saw the connection. Therefore, it was just a matter of confirming their well-worn biases.

A deeper intellect will see much different problems. Reality is hierarchical and layered, so that something that is true on a shallow level may be false on a deeper level. Again, academia confines itself to such a superficial level, that it ends up being a self-reinforcing enterprise, that then makes you believe that reality is confined to that single level. For example, few things are more fascinating to the enfeebled intellects of academia than diversity, a construct which holds not the slightest interest to an intellect of greater depth. So how do you even debate a person who thinks that skin color is of vital importance? There’s nothing to discuss, because I honestly don’t remember how to be so stupid, whereas they frankly don’t have the capacity to be any deeper. There is simply no point of contact.

I saw a beautiful example of this incredible stupidity on dailykos yesterday. It was written by a couple who are deeply disturbed at the prospect of the Supreme Court putting an end to government mandated racial discrimination, because of the effect it will have on “diversity.” They are presently in the process of selecting a school for their kindergarten aged daughter. They have about seven schools to choose from and are weighing a number of criteria, including -- I kid you not -- “number of GLBT families and GLBT-friendly staff,” and the exact racial breakdown: “Specifically, the balance of race.... We eliminate from consideration ANY school that has more than 60% of a single ethnic group.” Naturally, they have had to eliminate several “excellent schools,” but one wonders how they can be simultaneously excellent and insufficiently diverse?

The writer claims that “we want [our child] to learn that the real world is one of many different types of people of different races, sexualities, ethnicities, languages, etc., to learn not to make judgements based on race or religion or ethnicity.” But by indoctrinating their daughter to believe that race determines anything, aren’t they teaching just the opposite? That we should by law be forced to make such odious distinctions? They also say they want their daughter “to learn that many different viewpoints can come to the truth better than just a few.” How can this absurd statement possibly be true? Truth is true, irrespective of whether a million people believe it or no one believes it. But for the multiculturalist, all falsehoods are equally true.

Which comes back to my original point about the silly study linked to yesterday. From the moment I entered graduate school, one of the issues that most fascinated me was this question of psychopathology. We all know that mental illness exists -- although even then, there was a big movement among leftist psychologists in the 1960’s arguing that mental illness didn’t really exist, and that it was essentially a designation assigned by the powerful to the powerless (which is why politically correct psychologists call patients "clients" or "consumers of mental health services").

But to say “mental illness” is to say “mental health,” and to say “mental health” is to say design and function. In short, the mind, just like any other organ, was designed to do something. To the extent that it fails to achieve this end, it is in a state of pathology, or ill health.

So before we address the question of whether conservatism is a form of mental illness, we must first determine what the mind was designed to do. I didn’t read the study, but I seriously doubt that the researchers took it upon themselves to do this. Nor will I be able to do so today, because I’ve just run out of time. Perhaps tomorrow, if anyone’s interested.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rhythm & Booze (1.16.12)

Continuing with the subject of the false Holy Spirit, the only way to guard against this is to first and foremost seek truth, and then allow joy to be a byproduct. If you seek first the joy, then you will become the sort of "intellectual drunkard" that is so popular in Europe. There, babbling intellectual drunks and leftist whinos are elevated to great authority, as if their opinion matters more than Joe the Plumber's. Here in the US we mainly quarantine them in universities, and otherwise don't take them too seriously.

The joy of the intellectual drunk is just the intoxicated self-satisfaction of the narcissistic child, who needs others to mirror his greatness and to reassure him that he really is the center of the universe. Now that I have a three-and-a-half year old who is at the zenith of his narcissistic joy, I have even more insight into the psychodynamics of the tenured, whose narcissism appropriates their intelligence in the service of a joyous celebration of the self. Hence the adages, "publish then perish," and "let the dead bury the tenured."

As UF explains, the difference between dead and living truth is that the former is born in the false joy of intoxication, while the latter results in a kind of "sober joy." In turn, this joy "is the key which opens the door to understanding the Arcanum of the world as a work of art," because the joy is a result of a sort of inner harmony; or specifically, a "rhythmic harmony" between the inner and outer, above and below:

"Joy is therefore the state of inner rhythm with outer rhythm, of rhythm below with that of above, and, lastly, of the rhythm of created being with divine rhythm." Call it the Tao, if you like, for the essence of Taoism involves harmonizing oneself with these greater cosmic rhythms. Ignoring them will bring pain and disorder, one way or the other.

Existence and life are a function of countless rhythms at every level of being, and this is what, say, the I Ching drives at -- at harmonizing human and divine rhythms, which results in intrinsic joy.

For example, what is the joy of the Christmas season? It is partly a result of everyone being locked into the rhythm of the season, which not only resonates with "heaven," but with all past Christmases. Everything reminds us of this rhythm -- the smells, the lights, the music, the foods. Premodern man always lived in this kind of rhythm, since festivals were not restricted to once a year, but occurred throughout the year, and were the principle means of "marking time." Thus, he was constantly resonating with heaven, and being brought back to celestial essences. He was not a slave to the jagged rhythms of modernity, which tend to detach man from his source.

Interestingly, as I have written of before, we come into the world in a state of "rhythmic chaos," so that the most important function of early parenting is to help the child internalize various rhythms, which will achieve physiological and psychological "set points," including with regard to sleep, hunger, emotion, etc.

As I noted in my book, a mentally ill person will always suffer from some sort of dysregulation, say, of self esteem, or shame, or anger, or impulse control. The dysregulation results in chronic disharmony between inner and outer (not to mention, above and below), so that they then have difficult relationships or problems with work or creativity.

In fact, I can see how my blogging is a result of an inner rhythm and resonance between various levels of being, that is now "locked in," so to speak. It is not something I would have ever thought possible before I started doing it. But again, as UF says, this type of "living rhythm" is basically joy. Which in turn is why the primordial state of man and nature is one of joy: "that the world, in so far as it is a divine creation, is a kingdom of joy. It was only after the Fall that suffering became added to joy."

Now, one of the good things about the Fall is that one may consider it as literally or as metaphorically as one wishes. My main concern is the mechanism through which the Fall repeats itself, and what we can do about it.

In the case of Future Leader, I will be watching very carefully to see that the Conspiracy doesn't get to him too early, before he has had the chance to stably internalize the celestial rhythms, which in turn become a spiritual touchstone for the remainder of one's life. Soon enough, the conspiracy will get its hooks into him and try to rob him of his slack. But with a good foundation, one can repel the pressures of the world, and retain one's ground of slack. To lose this ground is... to lose everything, at least for the Raccoon.

Some children are robbed of their slack so early in life, that it is very likely that they have no conscious recollection of it, of "paradise." Nevertheless, there will definitely be an unconscious recollection of deprivation of their birthright, except that they will then project it onto present circumstances. Given the appalling level of parenting in the Islamic world, one must conclude that this is central to their chronic whining, victimization, paranoia, externalization of blame, homicidal rage, and bizarre combination of superiority and psychic brittleness.

But the same dynamic no doubt motivates the liberal, who imagines that mother government can make up for the Great Lost Entitlement of Infancy. I have no doubt that this condition has only been aggravated over the past two or three decades, what with the rise of daycare, which results in so many children being denied their birthright.

In other words, unlike adults, the infant is entitled to his omnipotence, and if you fail to provide it to your infant, he will spend the rest of his life either searching for it (the victim) or imagining that he is its source (the narcissist). The former needs the psychic bailout of the breast; the latter imagines that he is the breast. Obama is the breast; his cult members are the hungry mouths.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

False Truth, Ugly Beauty, and a Super Model of Reality (1.12.12)

We're winding down to the exciting conclusion of Meditations on the Tarot, which is a good thing, because I'm shrt on tme again.

Let's see.... yes, the dangers of beauty. I would say that on the whole, men are more aware of this danger than women, being that women are the primary danger.

Can Truth, Love, and Beauty have a "dark side?" Of course. It mainly happens when one of them gets separated from the other two, like when a sock falls out of your drier and tries to go it alone (Seinfeld). It doesn't get very far, does it? Oh sure, it's thrilling at first to feel the static electricity coursing along your heel, as you cling to another item of clothing in order to make your great escape. But then what? You fall off into the street, somewhere between the laundromat and your car. That's when you find out the truth about maverick socks. And it isn't pretty.

Here's how UF explains it: the good severed from the beautiful "hardens into principles and laws -- it becomes pure duty." Likewise, "the beautiful which is detached from the good... becomes softened into pure enjoyment -- stripped of obligation and responsibility." This is the "art for art's sake" of an aesthetic hedonism that soon becomes luciferic at best.

"The hardening of the good into a moral code and the softening of the beautiful to pure pleasure is the result of the separation of the good and beautiful -- be it morally, in religion, or in art. It is thus that a legalistic moralism and a pure aestheticism of little depth have come into existence."

On the one hand, you can have the clenched religious type without joy or art (or, conversely, with a joy and art that are equally kitsch), who co-arises with his shadow, the increasingly antisocial artiste who has become more or less detached from objective truth and virtue (or, conversely, becomes a tedious purveyor of political correctness as a substitute for truth and decency). Soon enough beauty falls down the wayslide as well, so that art no longer even justifies its existence, for man has no cosmic right to produce ugly art.

You will notice that when the Creator was finished with his work, he said to himsoph, it is good, for Sophia was right there with him as He drew a *circle* on the face of the deep (Proverbs 22). Which is why this beautiful creation is infused with so much inexhaustible -- and beautiful -- truth. Which is none other then the Divine Light in all its metaphysical transparency.

So, the arcanum of The World is here to offer a gentle warning to those who would mess with the Creator's woman, because she is your sister (Proverbs 7), not your wife, got that? For it is written, the moment you become "wise in your own eyes," you become either a wise guy or a wise ass.

Now, just as there are true illuminations from the Holy Spirit -- the book of Proverbs being a fine example -- "so there are intoxications from the spirit of mirage," which UF calls the "false Holy Spirit." Here we are dealing not just with Maya, but the dark side of Maya -- who, on the one hand, is the power of "cosmic illusion," but on the other, the Creator's divine consort, or Shakti, which means conscious force (forgive the Hinduisms, but it just so happens that they have a very precise language to describe these maters, whereas Christianity often speaks of them in more metaphorical language that must be decoded, e.g., the polarity of Mary-Eve).

UF outlines the criteria for distinguishing between the two: if you seek only "the joy of artistic creation, spiritual illumination and mystical experience," it is ineveateapple that you will "more and more approach the sphere of the spirit of mirage" and become increasingly seduced and hypnotized by it. Been there, done that.

BUT, if you first seek for truth in the above referenced activties, "you will approach the sphere of the Holy Spirit" and open more and more to its influence, which brings with it an entirely different mode of joy and coonsolation, for it is in no way "egoic." Rather, it tends to reverse the forces that result in either hardening or dispersion of the ego. Call it a "soft and supple center," which is none other than the divine slack and d'light immaculate that abides in "Raccoon Central," or "Toots' Tavern" -- where it is always "happy hour."

UF discusses the nature of mirages, which are not the same as hallucinations, as they are rooted in something that is "really there" -- like when the asphalt up ahead on the way to Vegas looks "wet," or when you think you can beat the house once you arrive there. But the mirage is a sort of "floating reflection of reality," which is nonetheless one step removed from it. And this is indeed the problem with what most people call "truth," including the scientistic truth of our jester, which floats atop the Real like a missing sock that I wish he'd stuff in his mouth, to put it poetically.

I remember back in my college days, you'd occasionally hear a guy say that he wanted to meet a girl who didn't play games. Well, that's what Maya does, all day long. Her "lila" goes on unceasingly, which is why we need to get "beneath her veils," if I may put it so indelicately. This is because on the one hand, she "reveals God by manifesting him," but on the other hand "hides him by covering him."

Correction. It's not so much that we remove the veils, but appreciate what they are hiding, which is pretty obvious if you've ever seen the annual Victoria's Secret show -- which I've only heard about through Dupree. The point is, the veils -- we're speaking of reality now, not the supermodels.... no, I suppose we're talking about both -- simultaneously reveal and conceal, depending upon the spirit with which you look. As part of our standard equipment, we are all given a pair of X-ray Specs with which to see through the veils to the "ground." Sadly, they don't work on the supermodels.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Art and Recollection: Where There's Holy Smoke, There's Divine Fire (1.10.12)

[T]he world is fundamentally neither a mechanism, nor an organism, nor even a social community -- neither a school on a grand scale nor a pedagogical institution for living beings -- but rather a work of divine art: at one and the same time a choreographic, musical, poetic, dramatic work of painting, sculpture and architecture. --Meditations on the Tarot

What if we actually lived only in a world of scientific truth but no intrinsic beauty? In addition to being an "impossible world" -- existence as such being an exteriorization of the divine beauty -- our very lives would be a cold and joyless task, like removing the Guy Ritchie tattoos from Madonna's wizened hide.

"Beauty is a crystallization of some aspect of universal joy; it is something limitless expressed by means of a limit" (Schuon). Beauty is both container and contained (♀ and ♂), or an explosive force within a limiting boundary. The world is this boundary, or the "frame" around God's canvas.

Now, as UF explains, the idea of the world as a work of art is implicit in Genesis, being that existence is a result of a creative act. So-called creationists focus way too much on the inevitable result of the act, rather than the act itself, which would have to constitute the very source and essence of creativity.

Furthermore, it is vital to bear in mind that the cosmogony of Genesis is a vertical, not horizontal, act. When Genesis says "In The Beginning," it really means in the beginning of the eternal creative act that is always happening now and which sustains the universe.

This is actually not merely an esoteric Bobservation, but standard Thomistic philosophy. "In the beginning" refers not to the temporal beginning, but to the atemporal beginning, or the beginning of time as such -- which "flows" from (and back to) eternity. It is the metaphysical, not the physical, or scientific, beginning. Therefore, as Aquinas knew,

"God is necessary as an uncaused cause of the universe even if we assume that the universe has always existed and thus had no beginning. The argument is not that the world wouldn't have got started if God hadn't knocked down the first domino at some point in the distant past; it is that it wouldn't exist here and now, or undergo change or exhibit final causes here and now unless God were here and now, and at every moment, sustaining it in being, change, and goal-directedness" (Feser).

In short, the "first cause" is above, not behind. But because it is above, it is necessarily ahead, which is in turn why the present cosmos is the "shadow" of its final fulfillment: "I am Alpha and Omega."

Similarly, as Perry observes, "from the cosmological perspective, creation is a progressive exteriorization of that which is principially interior, an alternation between the essential pole and the substantial pole of a Single Principle." Again, of the two, essence is the more interior, and therefore takes priority. Essence could never be derived from substance alone, which is one more reason why it is absurd to insist that consciousness could ever be derived from matter.

What? Oh yes. Petey would like me to remind you that this is the meaning of "One's upin a timeless," as it refers to God's eternal creative activity, which, because it constitutes the true (vertical) beginning, necessarily encompasses the end of all things, or the eschatology of the world. Was that unclear? Perhaps Schuon can shed a little more obscurity on the subject:

"Art has a function that is both magical and spiritual: magical, it renders present principles, powers and also things that it attracts by virtue of a 'sympathetic magic'; spiritual, it exteriorizes truths and beauties in view of our interiorization, of our return to the 'kingdom of God that is within you.' The Principle becomes manifestation so that manifestation might rebecome the Principle, or so that the 'I' might return to the Self; or simply, so that the human soul might, through given phenomena, make contact with the heavenly archetypes, and thereby with its own archetype."

In turn, this is why, as Eliot observed, our end precedes our beginning, and we may travel round the cosmos only to return to the beginning and know it for the first time.

Zero, point, line, circle, and repent as necessary. The Father is O, the Son is •, and the Holy Ghost is (↓↑). Please note that the black fire of the dot is written on the white fire of the unKnown Godhead, while the arrows are the smoke and flames, respectively. Where there is "holy smoke," the flames of agni cannot be far above. Thus the "agni and ecstasy" referred to on page 16 of my book.

The movement from essence towards substance is also the movement of "the center toward the circumference" and "unity towards multiplicity" (Perry). Nevertheless, the center is always there at the periphery -- hence God's immanence and the resultant sacredness of the world -- and the unity is always in the multiplicity -- hence the possibility of the recollection of both union and unity, at any time or any place. Except perhaps at a strip mall in Idaho.

Now, as UF notes, the self-beclowning materialist or scientistic jester is "like the reader of a manuscript who, instead of reading and understanding the thought of the author, occupies himself with the letters and syllables. He believes that the letters wrote themselves and combined themselves into syllables, being moved by mutual attraction, which, in its turn, is the effect of chemical or molecular qualities of the ink as 'matter' common to all the letters, and of which the letters and syllables are epiphenomena."

Of this, Petey would like to say, And you pay good money to have your children exposed to this absurd crap?

[B]eauty stems from the Divine Love, this Love being the will to deploy itself and to give itself, to realize itself in 'another'; thus it is that 'God created the world by love'.... All terrestrial beauty is thus by reflection a mystery of love. It is, 'whether it likes it or not,' coagulated love or music turned to crystal, but it retains on its face the imprint of its internal fluidity, of its beatitude and of its liberality... --Schuon

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oi, Such a Beautiful World! (1.09.12)

The World is conspiring today to prevent my post about The World. So this one may be very short. The Boy spiked a fever in the middle of the night, I overslept, and I need to leave early for work. So let's get started. Consider this just an opening blast.

Now that we know who we are, it's time to find out what the world is. Naturally, we tend to conflate the world with our characteristic way of knowing it, but it is always "more" than this or that point of view, something the materialist seems constitutionally incapable of appreciating.

That is, a particular danger in our day and age is to regard the world as nothing more than a reflection of our mundane scientific way of knowing it. But if this is taken too literally, as in the manner of our scientistic jester, it always does violence to reality. Just because the world may be known scientifically, it hardly means that it is nothing more than a material object.

You can also treat a human being like a material object, but we all know that a person is infinitely more than that. A person includes materiality while always transcending it. Our true identity could never be a function of any materialist doctrine, if for no other reason than it unfolds through time, and cannot be unambiguously given in space, as can a material object. (And even that is no longer true, since the quantum world consists of vibrating energy, and vibrations necessarily require time.)

This reminds me of the old joke about the two behavioral psychologists who meet in the elevator. The one says to the other, "You're fine. How am I?"

It also reminds me of a Star Trek episode I was watching with Future Leader the other day. Dr. McCoy angrily says something to Spock to the effect of, "You are the most cold-hearted creature I've ever met!" Spock calmly responds, "Why thank you, Doctor."

Anyway, the last arcanum of Meditations on the Tarot is The World. It is no coincidence that this is the final card, for the sum total of our previous meditations should begin to facilitate an ability to regard the world as a work of art, with all that implies.

Now, intellect is to truth as will is to virtue and love is to the beautiful. It's quite simple, really: Truth is what we must know; good is what we must do; and beauty is what we must love. Now, go away and sin no more.

Being that beauty is the splendor of the true, there is obviously a deep and abiding connection between truth and beauty, knowledge and art, for surely art is a way of deeply knowing beautiful truths about the world that are inaccessible to science per se (although, as we all know, aesthetics enters science through the side door, for example, in the beauty of mathematics.)

I think more than any other theologian of whom I am aware (with the possible exception of Balthasar; among the more secular philosophers, Schopenhauer is supreme), Schuon had a deep and sensitive understanding of the role of beauty in the cosmic economy. He said so may brilliant things about it, that it's rather difficult to get to the essence in the space of short post, but here are a few, conveniently taken from the pithy little book I just finished, Echoes of Perennial Wisdom:

"The cosmic, and more particularly the earthly, function of beauty is to actualize in the intelligent and sensitive creature the recollection of essences, and thus to open the way to the luminous night of the one and infinite Essence."

In ether worlds, essence is opposed to existence as substance is to form. Just as the function of man's intelligence is to discern between accidents and reality, the function of the aesthetic sense is to discern between form and essence, the latter of which is always more inward, whether it is in a poem, painting, musical performance -- or the world. In other words, the world has an inner essence that reveals itself in the mode of formal beauty, which is only "everywhere."

I noticed a trivial example of this the other day while out mountain biking. The bike trail winds through "virgin nature," which, for reasons that are indeed mysterious, is essentially always beautiful -- even the random patterns of rocks strewn about always seem "just so," as if carefully arranged by a Japanese painter or landscape artist.

But along the trail I saw a piece of broken concrete. I have no idea how it got there, but it didn't belong. Frankly, it was ugly, and was obviously out of place. Furthermore, there was no place you could have placed it and made it fit in. It was an aesthetic error, which, when you think about it, is an interesting way of putting it, for it again emphasizes that there is surely truth in beauty.

Interestingly, a couple of years ago, after a brush fire passed our way, I discovered an old abandoned vehicle that must have been there since the 1950's. (Come to think of it, I think that was the day Hoarhey stumbled in here, but that's another story. I remember, because if I am not mistaken, he was able to identify the make of the vehicle.)

Anyway, as a result of the years of mother nature working on it, it had become beautiful in its own way, whereas a new car dumped there in the middle of the scene would have been jarring and lacking in aesthetic harmony and proportion.

Schuon: "Beauty is a reflection of Divine Bliss; and since God is Truth, the reflection of His Bliss will be that mixture of happiness and truth which is to be found in all beauty.... The beauty of the sacred is a symbol or a foretaste of, and sometimes a means to, the joy that God alone possesses.... Sacred art helps man to find his own center, that kernel whose nature is to love God.... The sacred is an apparition of the Center, it immobilizes the soul and turns it towards the inward."

Yes. Just as truth is a reflection of the "divine light," beauty bubbles over with the divine joy, or ananda. Sometimes my son is so beautiful to me, I literally can't stand it. I suppose it's related to the Jewish concept of plotzing with naches over your kids. Oi! Such a ponim on that boychik!


Monday, December 15, 2008

The Secrets to Manifesting Your Destiny! (1.06.12)

I was struck by a post while visiting Walt's place yesterday, which seems awfully negligent on his part. Should I file a personal injury lawsuit? I don't know, but in Significant Indications, he has an excerpt by a trend-settin' Tibetan on how to assess spiritual progress, who writes of how "a reversed attitude indicates a transformation." In fact, in today's post, A Satisfactory Life, Walt has a passage by Franklin Merrell-Wolff, who elaborates on this idea:

"I find that, as the days go by, there is a re-organization and consolidation of life about a new center. The thrill of new Awakening, that at first so dominates and sweeps personal consciousness, gradually becomes a quiet steadiness on a level of new confidence. I cannot say I feel any regret for the old life. I do not find any inhibition that would restrain me from dipping into any phase of old experience if I desired and found it convenient to do so. I do not feel the restless urge for outer adventure that formerly I felt so strongly."

I wanted to include these observations in the context of our recent discussion of the destiny drive. The thing about real spiritual growth is that it brings changes that you would not have necessarily willed, any more than a pre-pubescent child wills puberty. At least I didn't. I'm still trying to adjust.

Likewise, sometimes spiritual change can be rather disorienting, as the old interests that once oriented your life "drop away" and one reorganizes around a new center. This "unexpectedness" is one of the hallmarks of real change and growth -- a kind of seal of authenticity -- and it is again the exact opposite of that which is promised by the new agers and integralists, such as this appalling gobshite:


Look at that scheming face. Would you buy used or even new karma from a guy like that?

You see, if you will "spiritual change" with your ego, you're just going to end up with a bloated and more grasping ego, not any kind of genuine spiritual transformation, which requires surrender and then acceptance, even resignation, not to mention trials, pop quizzes, and a final exam. If you know ahead of time that you will simply be granted whatever your wretched ego desires, what kind of change is that? This will not redeem the ego, but further harden it by fostering the illusion that it can have perfect happiness in the herebelow, in its spiritually fallen state. Schuon expresses it well:

"We must tend towards Perfection because we understand it and therefore love it, and not because we desire that our ego should be perfect. In other terms, we must love and realize a virtue because it is true and beautiful, and not because it would become us if we possessed it.... One must realize the virtues for their own sake, and not in order to make them 'mine'.... Moreover, it is not we who possess a virtue, it is a virtue which possesses us."

A fraud such as Dyer would be out of business if he spoke the real truth, which is more like Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God. Dyer is practicing the satanic arts (I mean that literally, not as an insult), in that he is simply employing seduction and hypnosis over the gullible. Like Schuon, he would sell few books if he were to convey hard spiritual truths such as

"Much is said about the subtle illusions and seductions which lead the spiritual pilgrim astray from the straight path and provoke his fall. Now, these illusions can only seduce him who desires some benefit for himself, such as powers or dignities or glory." But he who "seeks nothing earthly, so that he is indifferent to being forgotten by the world," "such a man possesses true poverty and nothing can seduce him."

This is the great Nothing-Everything, for "In true poverty, there remains only existence pure and simple, and existence is in its essence Being, Consciousness and Beatitude. In poverty there remains nothing more for man than what he is, thus all that is" (Schuon).

It is not that matter or sensation are shunned -- far from it -- but our priorities are straight, and we have the proper balance between the inner and outer. The point is not to deny the exterior, but "to remove oneself from its seductive tyranny" (Schuon). In real spiritual transformation, the inner takes precedence over the outer, through which the latter becomes "enriched" in a compensatory manner. The converse can never occur -- that is, enriching your exterior will never result in interior transformation of the spiritual substance.

To put it another way, you cannot will your destiny, at least until you have truly recognized it. And even then, once it is recognized, one mainly senses it in subtle ways, such as a sense of "being on the right track." In fact, in my book, I think I compared it to a kind of vehicle that is guided by a nonlocal field. It is like trying to learn how to steer within this nonlocal field, and one must be quite sensitive to do this. I imagine that it is somewhat similar to how certain animals have an interior guidance system that allows them to migrate back home, only transposed to a higher key. We all have this spiritual homing device as part of our standard equipment, but it is not like a two-dimensional map, much less a train track.

This oming devoice allows us to perceive ever so subtle indicators that our idiom is near -- in a book, person, myth, daydream, vision, aesthetic object, whatever. It is as if we project it slightly ahead of ourselves, and respond to the projection. To have "no direction" is the essence of the spiritually alienated state. I know that one of the most painful consequences of both clinical depression and anxiety is that they rob the person of spiritual direction, and therefore meaning.

On the other hand, depression can be a sort of "divine gift" if one uses it as an occasion to reclaim one's spiritual destiny and get back on the right track. Indeed, I would imagine that most Raccoons have at one time or another been shown their fate in the form of depression, despair, meaningless, etc., which was then a jumping off point for rediscovering their destiny.

The fated person, as Bollas writes, "is fundamentally interred in an internal world of self and object representations that endlessly repeat the same scenarios," and "has very little sense of a future that is at all different from the internal environment they carry around with them. The sense of fate is a feeling of despair to influence the course of one's life." Not for nothing is Groundhog Day considered one of the most profound spiritual parables ever to make it to film.

"A sense of destiny, however, is a different state, when the person feels he is moving in a personality progression that gives him a sense of steering his course." It is as if the future is able to "reach back" or down and touch the now, whereas the fated person is trapped by the past reaching forward and strangling the present:

"Instead of feeling the energy of the destiny drive and of 'possessing' futures which nourish the person in the present and creatively serve to explore pathways for potential travel, the fated person only projects the oracular" -- by which Bollas means the oppressive and mystifying voice of the dead and unalterable past. As a result, they "repress" their own living future, as it is just too painful to contemplate what might have been of their enslaved and wasted life.

Sometimes, such a person will wallow in their fate as a way to compensate for the loss of their destiny. Here again, one thinks of the victim culture of the left. But this is a real sin, for man has a right "to suffer from an injustice in so far as he cannot rise above it, but he must make an effort to do so; in no case has he the right to sink into a pit of bitterness, for such an attitude leads to hell" (Schuon).