Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How the Worm Turns and Grows in the Dark

Let us begin with an orthoparadoxical cryptogram by James at Just Thomism, who observes that "The cosmos shows us nothing like the knowledge by which we know it." And even less does it show us anything "like the source from which the knowledge flows."

In other words, not only does the cosmos have an invisible interior, but it directly communicates this perfect nonsense to another, even greater, invisible interior. That would be us.

However, if we fail to turn upstream to the source of this bifurcated interiority, it will remain a complete and utter mystery, which is the fate of the scientific materialist, who is condemned to live in a kind of useless cloud of subjectivity for which he can never account. But if we do turn to that source, then it becomes an awesome and glorious Mystery. If you want to think about it symbolically, from the horizontal perspective, ( ) and (•) give rise to one another. But from the vertical standpoint, both are a function of O.

I am reminded of a comment Churchill once made, to the effect that "we are all worms." However, after a thoughtful pause, he added, "but I do believe that I am a glow worm." Now, for those of us who aren't born that way, to go from worm to glow worm is a matter of repentance, or "metanoia," which simply means to "turn around" -- not from left to right or east to west, but from exterior to interior and down to up.

But I would go even further, and say that this is how you caterpult your buddhafly -- how the humble cocOOn becomes the womb of the christallus through the self-emptying of our voidgin birth.

It all begins with the ability to "read" the world's interiority -- which doesn't just communicate truth, but beauty. That much is obvious, although the materialist tends to focus on the former to the exclusion of the latter, thus disfiguring his metaphysic from the outset. For as Balthasar writes, "Whoever insists that he can neither see it nor read it, or whoever cannot accept it, but rather seeks to 'break it up' critically into supposedly prior components, that person falls into the void and, what is worse, he falls into what is opposed to the true and the good" (emphasis mine).

Now, if you understand that, then you understand the basis of my objection to radical secularism, because it starts with Ø instead of O. As a result, as it proceeds and ramifies horizontally, it only magnifies and concretizes its initial error, which cannot be located in the horizontal stream of knowledge, because it's way back there where you started. "In my beginning is my end," as the poet said.

It very much reminds me of our erstwhile jester, who could not see -- because he could not see -- that I am always attempting to communicate a vision of the whole through parts, which, after all, is the only way you can do it. But he would, with perfect myOpia, wrench one of the parts from its irreducibly aesthetic context in order to prove to himself that the whole does not exist. Truly, this is like cutting off your face despite your nous.

This is why we insist that there is such a thing as spiritual autism, i.e., people who live in a bizarre world of parts, which they cannot unify into the whole -- like the autistic child who can see the skin that covers the front of the skull, but cannot read expressions. And an "expression" is nothing less than the "interior" of the face; or, you could say that the expression is the externalization of the soul. Ether way, cosmically speaking, such a one is barred entry into the cosmos proper, and is condemned to crawling around on its periphery, or "epidermis," just like a... a worm.

Now, the key to spiritual growth is this deepening of our interior, which elsewhere I have called the "colonization of consciousness," or the "conquest of dimensionality," or "raids on the wild godhead," or "ex-perditions over the subjective horizon," or "the hajj to Upper Tonga," etc. Balthasar agrees that "as we proceed from plant to animal to man, we witness a deepening of this interiority, and, at the same time... a deepening freedom [read: conquest of dimensionality] of the expressive play of forms" (emphasis mine).

In other words, each of the following things is related to the others, because they emanate from the "above": interiority, unity, wholeness, beauty, freedom. Deepen one of these, and you deepen the others. Likewise, deny one, and you weaken and eventually "murder" the others. For we are an "image of the One," with all that implies.

Now, the One is the essence of interiority, otherwise it would merely be an agglomeration of externally related parts. Therefore, we are one because the One is one, the difference being that our oneness must be realized, whereas the oneness of the One is intrinsic and cannot not be one. This is why the more immanent the One is, the more transcendent. Its oneness overflows everywhere, so that everything is ultimately its witness and testament.

Here is how Balthasar describes it: "As a totality of spirit and body, man must make himself into God's mirror and seek to attain that transcendence and radiance that must be found in the world's substance if it is indeed God's image and likeness -- his word and gesture, action and drama. This is the simple reason why man's being, even in its origin, is already form, form which does not curtail the spirit and its freedom but which is identical with them."

Again: image --> form --> beauty --> transcendence --> being --> freedom --> God. Or, you could take the same sequence in reverse, and arrive at Man, who is the only being who must be, relatively speaking, of course. In other words, "being is, therefore I am; I am, therefore I think; I think, therefore truth is; truth is, therefore God." Etc.

Conversely, as James suggests, "If the things in the cosmos alone are 'what exists', then I..."

I what? Then I am no more. I have committed metaphysical cluelesside. I am blind and deaf to the divine beauty, to the metaphysical transparency of the One. Therefore,

Our first principle must always be the indissolubility of form.... If form is broken down into subdivisions and auxiliary parts for the sake of explanation, this is unfortunately a sign that the true form has not been perceived as such at all. What man is in his totality cannot be 'explained' in terms of the process by which he has become what he is.... All these dimensions produce material which is then subsumed by the form of man....

Truly, it would not be worthwhile being human if man were but the amalgamation of such 'material', if the one thing necessary, the irreplaceable pearl, were not a reality for the sake of which we would sell everything else. This precious 'pearl' must have been espied in the first place by an eye that recognizes value, an eye which, being enthralled by the beauty of this unique form, dismisses all else as 'rubbish' in order to acquire the one thing which alone is worthy of claiming our life unconditionally
. --Balthasar (sorry for the length; with Balthasar, sentences are paragraphs, paragraphs are pages, pages are chapters, etc.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hearing and Performing the Cosmic Suite

This might be a brief one. I think I'm a little discoonb'obulated from the summa vacation. In fact, I'm not even sure what deities. I just know it's not an allahday.

Could it be a case of jot lag? This is the longest I've gone without jotting down a post in almost three and a-half years, and now I'm lagging four days behind -- or below -- whatever it was I've been chasing all that time. I knew I'd lose the thread if I stopped, and now here I am, unraveled like an old bolero. If you think blogging about the cosmos every day is difficult, just try doing it every five days.

Actually, it's no joke. This reminds me of the sort of tip-top shape the bodymind must be in, in order to "do" theology at all. Since doing so involves intense verticalisthenics and gymgnostics, you have to behave like a professional athlete, minus the guns, drugs, and hookers. In my case, it means eating right, getting plenty of rest, working out at least once a day, and staying 3000 miles away certain relatives.

When you hear about the sorts of strict rules imposed upon spiritual seekers, I'm sure that this is the underlying principle which the rules are attempting to honor. This is why I could never be anti-somatic. Nevertheless, it's possible to get lost in the letter and lose the spirit. For example, Mormons won't let you even have caffeine. What's that all about? What if you can't see God at 6:00AM without a little fine Colombian? What are you supposed to do, switch over to the Cuervo Gold?

No, don't help me. Balthasar, right? Divine beauty, right? Maybe it will help if I review what I said last Wednesday. Be right back.....

Okay. Since I'm now halfway into volume two of the theological aesthetics, at least I can see that I won't have to actually deal with all seven volumes of The Glory of the Lord, because the first volume lays out the the broad theological approach, whereas the others mainly explicate individual examples of how it all works out in practice through Augustine, Denys, Dante, and various other lumen beings down through Christian minstrelsy.

Besides, a 'Coon doesn't get lost in the details, but always asks himself by virtue of what principle? And where's the loophole? In other words, no different than the scientist, we want to try to reduce the welter of theologoumena to some underlying unity of which they are the inevitable byproduct -- just like how, say, the underlying order of quantum physics produces such a infinite landscape of seemingly independent objects.

So I suppose we are seeking "the order of beauty," so to speak, or the "place" from which it arises. To even suggest that there could be a naturalistic source of beauty is to not know what beauty is, precisely; for beauty is, among other things, an everyday example of the supernatural breaking through the natural. And if God is the ultimate source and substance of beauty, then the more we ascend vertically, the more beautiful the mindscape. Conversely, right before you descend to the ego, there's a big sign at the side of the road that says End Scenic Route.

With vertical colonization, you could say that figure and ground are gradually reversed, so instead of focussing upon the outward beauty, we begin to "see" the interior beauty of which it is an expression. And surely interior beauty must take priority over exterior beauty, since the latter is a localized instance of the former, in the same way that one cannot have an instance of truth in the absence of Truth as such. And to say that Truth is what is known is a tautology; there can be no truth in the absence of an interior knower. To say "truth" is to say God, which only a human being can say. So there. I've said it.

Likewise, to say "beauty" is also to say God, which only a human being can see or hear, for each of our physical senses has a vertical analogue (indeed, as we shall later discuss, the former derive from the latter, not vice versa).

Here is how Balthasar sets things up: if beauty is "the radiance and splendour which breaks forth in expressive form from a veiled and yet mighty depth of being," then "the event of the self-revelation of the hidden, the utterly free and sovereign God in the forms of this world, in word and history, and finally in the human form itself, will itself form an analogy to that worldly beauty however far it outstrips it." In other words, the divine beauty is so powerfully radiant, that it will both reveal itself in form, but at the same time shatter forms, since no form could possibly contain it.

In the figure of Jesus, it is said that God pours forth and empties himself into the "not-God" of humanity. No wonder then that death could not contain him! But for the Jew, one could also say that the Torah reveals the ainsoferable what's-his-G-d name without the possibility of containing him. And no wonder that diverse theologies result from the One outpouring, for you simply cannot contain a higher dimension with the nets of a lower.

As Balthasar writes, these manifold ways of seeing exist "not so much because of the limitation of human perception as because of the yet greater fulness of revelation, as it shines forth and overwhelms its beholders." You could say that the divine beauty descends into a form, and that this or that form will be a more or less adequate container for the infinite beauty. To a Christian, Christ is that perfect form, i.e, the Word of God. I don't think it would be incorrect to say that the "Son" may be thought of as the form of the formless Father, but I could be wrong there.

This is also why "fundamentalism" is such a poor and meager substitute for, say, Aquinas, who provides us with a relatively complete and total vision of the One. But so too does a Denys or Eckhart provide a relatively complete vision. But put them all together -- well buddy, then you've really got something, supposing your soul is capacious enough to handle the project. If not, no big. Just don't confuse your little theological tchotchke with the Louvre. Don't confuse Eckhart Tolle with Meister Eckhart.

For the end result should be like "a full orchestra, whose various instruments blend well with one another; their mutual harmony proves that they all play from the same score (which both transcends and embraces them)."

That sounds familiar. Yes, here it is, from the Coonifesto. Another case of someone preemptively plagiarising me before even extending to me the courtesy being born:

The universe is like a holographic, multidimensional score that must be read, understood and performed. Like the score of a symphony, it is full of information that can be rendered in different ways. The score can support diverse interpretations, but surely one of them cannot be "music does not exist."

****
Someone mentioned pictures. Here's one. After Future Leader realized there was an eligible lady in the next row, remaining seated was out of the question. How's this for a subtle greeting:

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Good Will Tour

Ever take a monkey on a five hour flight? Pictures to follow. Imagine ten Curious George episodes back to back, with me as the Man in the Yellow Hat... and pants, when his diaper leaked.

Can't do much else from here, but at least I can authorize a fresh Open Thread.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ugly Fantasies and Beautiful Truth

First of all, the obligatory fantasy analysis of Obama's otherwise vapid inauguration speech. This is the technique invented by psychohistorian Lloyd deMause to supposedly reveal "hidden emotional messages embedded within seemingly bland and boring speeches and press conferences of leaders." Its purpose is to attempt to "capture how it feels to be part of a nation's emotional life" by focusing only upon emotionally charged "fantasy words" that resonate with the unconscious mind. It operates under the assumption that any leader is also a fantasy leader who necessarily mirrors and shapes the group's unconscious emotions, needs and impulses.

As we just witnessed with President Bush, a leader who fails to resonate in this unconscious manner simply will not be perceived as effective, no matter how competent he is. From even before day one of his presidency, Bush was unable to use language in such a way as to bind up the anxiety and hatred of liberals. First, just as it is difficult for the non-evil to understand the evil, it's also difficult (at least without training) for the non-crazy to truly understand the crazy. On top of that, Bush never appreciated the level of liberal bitterness and resentment over Al Gore's unsuccessful attempt to exploit the judicial system to steal the presidency to which liberals were entitled.

Frankly, there is probably nothing he could have done about that short of deinstitutionalization of the tenured and media elite, which would have caused a huge new problem with homeless mentally ill.

In order to perform a fantasy analysis on a text, one records all strong feeling words (including anything related to the family, e.g., mother, father, baby) regardless of context, plus any unusual metaphors or gratuitously repeated words. One also eliminates negatives, because of the symmetrical logic of the unconscious, which converts a negation to an affirmation (for example, the more liberals complain about people questioning their patriotism, the more it emphasizes their lack thereof).

As deMause writes, "most political meetings are usually held not to make decisions but to deepen the social trance, to switch into political alters, and to entrain the group's unconscious emotional strategies for handling the inner emotional problems of its hidden world." Because liberals are by nature such emotional creatures who project so much unmetabolized emotion into politics, they are much more transparent in their fantasies (indeed, as is true of any more primitive group).

I have no idea whether or not fantasy analysis works. But I do know that it's fun, and that it can suggest surprisingly primitive emotional themes beneath what is an otherwise tedious formality. Anyway, here goes:

sacrifices... gathering clouds... raging storms... crisis... war... violence and hatred... badly weakened... greed... failure... adversaries... threaten... crisis... sapping of confidence... nagging fear... fear... conflict... discord... petty grievances... false promises... recriminations... worn-out... young... childish... strangled... lash of the whip... fought and died... struggled... sacrificed... raw... birth... crisis...

ground has shifted... consumed us... too big... too small... ill... ill... crisis... out of control... perils we can scarcely imagine... blood of generations... child... threats... threat...

terror... slaughtering innocents... broken... weakness... bitter swill... dark... old hatreds... conflict... ills... destroy... starved bodies... hungry minds... suffering... levees break... cut... darkest hours... child...

children... father... birth... coldest... dying... icy river... abandoned... enemy advancing... snow stained with blood... father... alarmed... danger... dangers... hardship... icy currents... storms... children's children...

Hmm. Lots about abused, threatened, and neglected children, capped off with cold, icy, and abandoning father. I wonder what that means?

More generally, it seems to me that Obama is attempting to induct us into a social trance in order to condition us to the extraordinary and unprecedented measures he will have to take in order to deliver us from the apocalyptic evils he lays out in the speech, i.e, the ground has shifted, things are spinning out of control, and we're about to be eaten by this threatening Moloch.

It would be one thing if he were using this overheated rhetoric to describe nazis or Islamists, and to mobilize us to recognize the danger. But let's face it: he's declaring war on the American way of life. Economically, he wishes to destroy America in order to save it. It all seems so appealing! I mean, he just promised to help all Americans get well paid jobs, free healthcare, and a dignified retirement. Government. What can't it do? (besides govern itself). Father has been ousted. Mother government to the rescue.

As the farcical Marx taught us, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. But what comes after that? We're still dealing with the tragedy of the New Deal and the farce of the Great Society. No doubt Obama is a farce to be reckoned with, but I see two possibilities. If we divide history into Petey's descending stages of Gods, Kings, Men, Weasels, Beasts, and Chaos, I think FDR would be the king, LBJ the man. Clinton was the weasel. This would suggest that we are about to enter a beastly chaos, from which the only solution would be the return to a new age of gods, or, more properly, God. God or chaos. Vertical Man or horizontal beast. Sounds about right.

Just remember: in the Age of Obama, dissent is no longer the highest form of patriotism but the last refuge of a scoundrel. But don't worry. Even if you're a white devil, you can still embrace what is right.

****

I hate touching pitch. That's enough of that. Let's move on. And in. And up. I'm hesitant to dive into the Balthasar business, because this may be the last post of the week. If I do go in that direction, it is very likely that it will take me the rest of the year to complete the project. So, do I really want to commit mysoph to that, especially since I don't know whether I can do it to begin with? Imagine Meditations on the Tarot, only x 15. Also, Balthasar makes Unknown Friend's rambling look like a monument to brevity.

Why Balthasar, anyway? Hell, I don't know. Just because that's where the Spirit has lead me, I guess. But if I do do this, I'm really going to have to hand things over to Bob's Unconscious for an extended period of time, because there's no way in the world that the conscious mind could ever wrap itself around this mammoth tusk. I'm afraid I'll end up driving the rest of the readers into extinction.

Then again, whenever I reach this impasse, I always return to my first principle. Which is what? I guess that this blog is primarily a personal spiritual exercise that you folks are allowed to peek in on. As soon as I deviate from O, I lose the interior thread. It reminds me of that film about Picasso, in which the camera is placed behind a glass canvas, so you can see him at work. This computer screen is like my canvas, and you folks are sitting behind it. Maybe I should even get one of those cameras, so you could see it happen in real time.

How to begin.... That is actually the first question which thought must ask of itself, and if you avoid that question, then it is likely that you'll never recover the Way. Appropriately, this is precisely where Balthasar begins: "Beginning is a problem not only for... the philosopher," but "a primal decision which includes all later ones for the person whose life is based on response and decisions."

This very first decision is one that remains with us and conditions, if not determines, all of our subsequent steps. Indeed, the first word we choose must be one which we "will not have to take back, one which [we] will not afterwards have to correct with violence, but one which is broad enough to foster and include all words to follow, and clear enough to penetrate all the others with its light."

Okay. So what is this first word? For Balthasar, the whole purpose of the first seven volumes of his theological trinity is to focus on the transcendental category of beauty in order to reveal the truth of God. Thus, "Beauty is the word that shall be our first." That beauty exists, no one could deny. "Glory" is the name we give to divine beauty, another property that no proper human could deny (although improper ones may well insist that this beauty is only in the beholder, and that the experience of it does not correspond to any real object or inhere in the world).

Thus, the first seven volumes of Balthasar's trilogy deal with beauty; the second five with the good (the theo-drama); and the last three with truth (the theo-logic). Of the three, Balthasar clearly feels that beauty is first among equals, in that it radiates the other two transcendentals in a particularly holistic manner (each of the transcendentals participates in the other two; I would go so far as to say that they share the same substance in three modes, so to speak). As Balthasar puts it, beauty "dances as an unconstrained splendour around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another."

It is one thing to "speak truth to power," which has nearly become a cliche due to liberal abuse. But how about speaking beauty to power? To speak beauty to the ugliness and barbarism that surrounds us? Who shall speak beauty to a degraded art, to a sterile and technocratic knowledge, and to a human being rendered ugly through the degradations of materialism, leftism, and metaphysical Darwinism?

A world that isn't penetrated at every moment by the divine beauty is surely not worth living in. Such a world would be a living hell, minus the living. "Naked matter remains as an indigestible symbol of fear and anguish." The human soul, who is meant to be the "bride of God," is instead forced into an arranged marriage, an impossible union with the "object of his impotence," "which finally spoil's man's taste for love."

Furthermore, in a world without beauty, "the good also loses its attractiveness, the self-evidence of why it must be carried out." Once we have descended to this plane, it is but a step to the other side, "for this too is a possibility, and even the more exciting one: Why not investigate Satan's depths?" Lies, ugliness, transgression. Vanquish beauty and you have vanquished the mystery of Being, so the mystagogic and mystifying non-being of various alternative universes becomes the default position. You can no longer even speak to people with the language of divine beauty, for they have forgotten how to perceive it, let alone appreciate its connection to total truth.

Yes, "the Witness borne by Being becomes untrustworthy for the person who can no longer read the language of beauty," for such a person cannot know the interior language of God. The Word and its world have become illegible. He is of the world, but no longer in it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The King is Dea... Wait, Not So Fast! (1.09.10)

I'm starting to get a little worried that President Bush isn't going to go ahead with the theofascist takeover. What's he waiting for?

There's no way I have time to write an all-new post this morning. However, in the spirit of the occasion, I'm revisiting something I wrote a few years ago, because if our cOOnvision is truly omniscient, it should help us to understand our political future. The bottom line, people, is that there is nothing to be afraid of. These men are nihilists. Fucking amateurs. They're out of their element. And they're about to enter a world of pain. As Walter Sobchak himself said, Nothing is fucked here, Dude. Come on, you're being very un-Dude.

When I say that the Obamanauts are about to enter a world of pain, I mean that they will eventually know the dark side of the wave of fantasy upon which they are riding. Only in this case, it seems unusually dark, for it is the same darkness that currently attaches to President Bush. As much as he is hated, Obama is loved, and for reasons that are equally insane because they are a precise and predictable function of each other.

They say that Obama represents the "longings" of a new generation, but I don't believe that at all. Rather, this is baby-boomer 101, the last gasp of a generation that is fueled by a pathological idealism that is just the other side of its dark cynicism.

Although we focus on the moonstream media and their political action wing, the Democrat party, there is probably not enough blame placed on that grazing multitude known as the American public. For if the public were only more sophisticated, they wouldn’t fall for the arguments presented by the left, which rely upon a high degree of emotionality matched by a low degree of logic. Political analysts implicitly assume that people’s attitudes and opinions are the result of rational reflection, but in fact, it has been estimated that fewer than ten percent of the American public are reliably in Piaget’s highest cognitive developmental stage of formal operations thinking. And even then, one cannot escape the cosmic law of bullshit in --> bullshit out.

According to psychohistorian Lloyd deMause, “Most of what is in history books is stark raving mad -- the maddest of all being the historian’s belief that it is sane.” He believes that large groups are almost always driven more by fantasy than reality. Different nations and groups have different “group fantasies” which are designed not to negotiate with reality but to contain fears and anxieties. For example, the further back in history one travels, the more one can identify group fantasies that clearly have no basis in fact and are driven by irrational anxiety and fear -- witch hunts, senseless wars, racial scapegoating. But so long as one can detach from the madness and survey the contemporary psycho-political scene with even-hovering attention, one can see it just as clearly in the present.

For example, the entire “war on terror” is being waged against Islamist fantasists who are completely out of touch with reality. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make it easier to combat them, but more difficult. Israel has been fighting a version of this fantasy since its very inception, but in truth, Jews have been at war with paranoid anti-Semitic fantasists for over two thousand years. Fantasies are obviously quite lethal. The most persistent fantasy is that the God of Israel is not real, which is why the Jews are and will always be targets of the evil ones, whether it is the fantasists of Islam or of the left.

The important point is that the fantasy precedes the reality, and will look for conditions in external reality to support it, identical to the manner in which the paranoid mind operates. According to deMause, the state of the group fantasy is what national opinion polls actually capture. That is, they take a snapshot of the “mood of the country,” which mostly consists of “gut feelings” that have varying degrees of connection to actual conditions, and more to do with the shifting nature of the group fantasy.

Remember, the bulk of the population is not thinking logically, so it doesn’t matter how many cognitively mature individuals there are at the margins of a poll. That the economic downturn was largely caused by Democrat regulation (e.g., the Community Reinvestment Act) is inconsequential. In contrast, FDR was able to sustain a unifying group fantasy despite economic polices that aggravated and extended the Great Depression for years.

Likewise, job one for Obama will be to forge and sustain a unifying fantasy, not to deal with reality. This is one of the reasons the Democrats will be unable to let go of President Bush, because they desperately need him as a "poison container" in order to keep the toxins out of Obama (more on which below). This is a somewhat unique situation, because it means that the Democrats in effect will want us to have two fantasy leaders, which reminds me of how the infant splits the world into a good and bad breast.

A national opinion poll doesn’t necessarily provide objective information about actual circumstances, but certainly tells us how it “feels” to be part of a historical group at a particular time. Not only that, but deMause turns the presidential “approval rating” on its head. He doesn’t believe that it actually measures approval so much as disapproval about how effectively or ineffectively a leader is “containing” the public’s anxiety. Negative passions are much more influential, which is why truly happy people have little impact on politics, since it would never occur to them that a politician is responsible for their happiness. But unhappy people find all sorts of illusory reasons to explain their unhappiness, including politics.

Just as the group is mainly driven by fantasy, it is primarily looking for a leader who can reassure it about the world and diminish its anxiety. In this regard, it is a mistake to think of the leader as an oedipal parent; the process is much more primitive, involving the need for preverbal and pre-oedipal (before the age of three) projection and containment, which is in turn much more "psychotic" and fantasy laden, since it escapes the reach of language. Using this method, one would not say that President Bush has a 25% approval rating, but a 75% “toxicity” rating. Meanwhile, Obama has what, a 12% toxicity rating? As soon as he actually does something, he will begin to accumulate toxins, and this number will rise.

This is one of the reasons it is so wearying to be president, because it involves the day-to-day processing of so much irrational projection of hatred and anxiety (and in the case of the US President, these projections uniquely come from the entire world).

All therapists know how difficult it is to deal with just one borderline patient in their practice, but it is as if a president must deal with the projections of millions of difficult patients who are irrationally experiencing him as either their savior or as evil incarnate. The president must be a receptacle for continuous projections from various levels of emotional immaturity and unreality. And in the case of President Bush, who never fought back and engaged with the projections, it only made that part of the population more enraged with him, just as a borderline patient would feel outraged if the therapist did not take their perceptions seriously, no matter how crazy (or a child will become more enraged at the parent if you don't take the pain behind their "I hate you!" seriously).

Another critical point -- and one of the most important things I learned in my training -- is that idealization is a powerful defense mechanism that serves to protect its recipient from rage, contempt, or devaluation. So if a patient is immediately angry with me, I can deal with that. It's a relief, because they are at least in touch with their feelings. But if they come in and immediately idealize me, then I know that I am in for a bumpy ride, for when the idealism wears off, I will be blamed. It's like, "how dare you not be perfect!" (This is why trolls don't bother me as much as someone who wants to see me as Guru B'ob. You can imagine.)

It is fascinating to note that as the left became so out of touch with their fantasies about President Bush, they came to imagine that he actually did fight back in the most dangerous and extreme ways -- that he didn't tolerate dissent, that he questioned people’s patriotism, that he destroyed our civil rights, that he punished ideological enemies, that he defecated on the Constitution (you can read that projection with braille!). Pure projection. The reality that is “seen” by the left is driven by their own fantasies. (Now they even want to put him in jail; this is exactly what Future Leader says when he's really pissed off at us: "You're in jail! Time out forever!)

deMause notes that people who are stripped of important group fantasies will feel like they are going crazy -- just as primitive groups who are suddenly “decultured” of the myths that have served to organize their cognitive/emotional world. (You will note that no one on the right is "going crazy" over Obama, whereas the left lurched toward insanity right away, to such an extent that they even attempted to steal the 2000 election through the courts.)

It is fair to say that the left has been dealing with this sort of primitive anxiety since the 1980’s, as their various political fantasies have been discredited one by one. But just like a religious group that predicts the second coming, the majority of leftists simply dig in their heels when their predictions prove false. This shows the extent to which outward political ideology often rests on a deeper structure of irrational fantasy that is nearly impossible to eradicate. I think it also explains all of the manic and irrational giddiness we are seeing in the media, as their fantasies are restored.

And now we come to the future. deMause outlines a four-part process that the fantasy leader undergoes in relation to the group. At first the group will see him as unrealistically strong, magically able to unify the group and keep enemies at bay. Certainly we saw this in the months after 9-11, when President Bush was so popular. Again, his popularity had little to do with the actual merits of his policies, but with the public’s need to feel safe, and the feeling that Bush would protect them. Obviously, this is where Obama is, except that the omnipotent fantasies of strength surrounding him are unusually grandiose and primitive.

Stage two is the “cracking” stage, when the feelings of magical nurturing begin to deteriorate, so that the public’s mood begins to feel unstable and dangerous. The leader begins to be experienced as weak, unable to control events. Here again, when this happens, look for the left to frantically attempt to re-project all of this into President Bush, in order to perpetuate the fantasy.

Stage three, “collapse,” occurs when the public begins to feel that the fantasy leader is helpless to prevent catastrophe -- when the group’s anxiety has become unhinged and uncontained in a completely unrealistic way. This brings on pure rage and free-floating paranoid fantasies of death and destruction. Thus, in the case of President Bush, he was unrealistically blamed and vilified for all sorts of things outside his control -- hurricane Katrina, rising gas prices, "global warming," the Democrat-fueled housing bubble, etc. At this stage, the fantasy leader is seen as weak and vulnerable, which triggers a wave of near homicidal anxiety that aims to purify the group by ritual slaying of the divine king, identical to what took place in the most primitive tribes. So today is not just the coronation of the new king, but the ritual blood sacrifice of the old one. But he was scourged for so long, that he was virtually dead anyway -- or only "alive" with primitive projections.

Obama doesn't seem prone to locate our enemies externally, where they actually exist, i.e., in Islam. But every theology needs a satan. Again, for this reason, I think the fantasists of the left will be unable to "let go" of President Bush, since he has become so vital to their psychic equilibrium. But they don't fool us.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Drinking Diamonds From the Firehose and Swallowing the Mine

First a little housekeeping. I will be indisposed -- in-lawdisposed, to be exact -- this Thursday through Sunday. No, I'm not asking for your pity. I just wanted to alert you -- all nine of you -- that I'm not sure what you will see in this space. You may see nothing. You may see lightly soiled reruns. Perhaps you will see some spasmodic blasts, more in the fashion of a normal blogger who gives you the rudimentary courtesy of not taxing your time or attention. We'll just have to play it by ear.

Then, after that -- I have no idea, as usual. The thing is, as I said, I am bound and determined to make my way through Balthasar's sprawling -- and I do mean sprawling -- 15 volume systematics. I've almost breezed through volume one, and I have volumes two and three on deck. It's probably -- no, it is -- the most challenging thing I've ever attempted to assimilate, although I suppose truly assimilating Aurobindo would be equally, if not more, daunting, since he was less systematic to begin with. In reading his most recent biography, it seems that the majority of Aurobindo's writings, regardless of how public, were more like a running journal of his own experiences -- as if his attitude was, "If you want to climb aboard, fine, if not, feel free to stay down on the tarmac, but I'm not slowing down."

I'm sure that on a certain level, Balthasar's writings may be seen in the same way, except that he at least attempted with all his heart, soul, and mind to fit his expansive vision into the pre-existing archetypes of Christian dogma, whereas Aurobindo was constantly inventing new terms and categories for his.

Here we can appreciate the virtue of dogma, as it is again analogous to, say, a system of musical theory and notation that allows us to produce music that is both harmonically (vertically) and melodically (horizontally) complex, not to mention interacting (in other words, vertical and horizontal flow together like a wild vine growing up a fixed post -- or better, yet, a living tree -- with the passage of time).

To appreciate the depth of this truth is to know that no man could have invented these dogmas that are so adequate to the transdimensional object they disclose (or simultaneously veil and reveal). People ask why revelation has to be the way it is. The reason is that nothing less can begin to serve as an adequate image and container of the Divine. It's like asking Mozart why he couldn't express himself in the form of a three minute pop single. Not to knock the three minute pop single, since a great single is superior to a bad symphony, just as a healthy joke is superior to the entire works of Deepak Chopra, being that he is a sick joke.

The thing is, Balthasar doesn't give any consideration whatsoever to the reader. He just spews away with the firehose, while you've come in for a little spiritual refreshment. I wonder if this is because he started his own publishing house in order to publish his works? Most writers need an editor. They're not like me, compact and pithy 24/7/365/∞.

Come to think of it, not only is Balthasar the stylistic opposite of Schuon, I'm not sure I would even be able to "organize" Balthasar without having previously assimilated Schuon. Schuon is like a diamond cutter, producing these perfect little multifaceted gems of prose. I don't think I've ever read anyone who was simultaneously so precise and yet pregnant. Indeed, you could say that he is the perfect combination of male and female, absolute and infinite, spirit and letter, form and substance, container and contained.

Balthasar, on the other hand, is like the whole diamond mine. It's one thing to read him. That's the easy part. But how do you get your mind around it? How do you cut through it to find its organizing principle, its deep structure? How to trancelight him into plain Coonglish? It reminds me of something you cannot map, because in order to do so, the map would have to be equally as complex as the territory.

Imagine having to carry around a map as big as the cosmos in order to understand the cosmos. Instead, we can map it with a few equations. But the higher up the food chain you go, the harder this is to do. For example, by the time you get to a human being, it is absurd to think that even the most detailed biography would ever be an adequation to the person.

But what about God, then? How does one create a "theography" adequate to Him? Once again, I give you the miracle of revelation -- of God having the courtesy not just to reveal himself to man, but to reveal himself as a man. That's pretty freaking awesome, that the Ultimate Universal can be refracted through a particular existent in such a way that we can actually begin to grasp it, even if, simultaneously -- and of necessity -- it must always elude our grasp, on pain of not actually being God.

This, BTW, is what the atheists do not understand: that if they could comprehend God in some simple way adequate to their little minds, it would not be God. Rather, revelation must paradoxically combine knowability with unknowability, transparency with opacity, light with divine darkness, consolation with desolation. God cannot be analogous to a mathematical equation, which is necessarily true and therefore eliminates man's freedom.

In this regard, we see the implicit relationship between faith and freedom, which is why only the faithful are truly free. In other words, man is free to accept or reject God. He is not really free to reject gravity, or math, or physics, or the infield fly rule. But he can reject beauty. He can reject goodness. He can -- and therefore must -- reject the designated hitter. And he can reject the Truth of revelation -- which is an elliptical proof of its Truth. Nothing less than the sustained tension of this paradox would be faithful to its object, paradox being a threshold of truth.

Now.... now what? Yes, might as well wrap up Bolton. We were discussing salvation and the personal self, and I think I see a connection with what we've been discussing above. Bolton writes that "What we call the completed life is the sum total of all the person's being, as a single organism extending from conception to death" (emphasis mine).

Here again, this is why you could never create a biographical map adequate to the person. For one thing, note the above emphasis on being. If we equate "being" with those moments when we have been truly "alive," how could you ever capture this in a book? The secret autobiography of our life -- and its real continuity -- is written with the ink of Self on the pages of Being, is it not?

Yes, to the extent that we survive what is called "death," this would be what survives, the being we have assimilated into the Self, and the Self we have assimilated into being. After all, it would be absurd to believe in life after death if you were never alive to begin with.

Thus we see that "in heaven, memory is swallowed up in reality," the reality of eternal being.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Secret History of the Transdimensional Raccoons

I get a fair number of emails expressing sentiments to the effect of "love the blog, but what's a Raccoon?" I'm not sure I can answer that question in the space of a post, but evidently I attempted to do so a couple of years ago, because here it is:

Let's begin before the beginning. How far back can we trace the Raccoon lineage through history? A venerable Raccoon piety maintains that we have no historical origin, and that we antedate the creation of the universe. We were there, if not at God's right hand, then in his hair. In fact, truth be told, we were even ambivalent about this whole creation business. Why do it? Why go to all the bother? Why a cosmos? Wh--

BANG!

Then all of a sudden, here we were, stuck down here in 4D.

(The above cave sketch was found at Lascaux, and dates from approximately 40,000 years ago. The Raccoons left Lascaux shortly thereafter, as soon as they realized it was located in France. It obviously depicts some sort of primitive religious ritual, possibly aimed at the French. Courtesy Julie, who reproduced it from vertical memory.)

But when God exteriorized his interior and involved himself in the so-called logolilia, or WordPlay, of creation, we were swept up in the general mayhem and confusion, and ended up in human form. So it definitely could have been worse, which is why Raccoons are always grateful. After all, we could have been French.

But very early in their earth-career, Raccoons had to learn to "pass," something we have been doing ever since. Even today, due to millennia of genetic selective pressure, we are the only humans who, for genetic reasons, instinctively recoil at being a member of a species that would have us.

The Raccoon is distinct from the prototypical human, for he is not exactly a social animal nor is he a solitary animal. Rather, he craves companionship, but particularly with fellow Raccoons, since they are so scarce. The trick down through history has been locating them, especially since the great diaspora from upper Tonga.

For example, it is well understood that our genetic line has become weakened because of the difficulty of locating a fellow Raccoon with whom to maintain proper coonjugal relations. How many readers have both a Raccoon mother and father? Being that he is a foolblooded Raccoon, my own 3.5 year-old kit is somewhat unusual (a "kit" is a young raccoon). I wonder if this will make his life easier or more difficult? No doubt both, because his longing to find coontemporaries will be all the more intense.

Like the story of the lion that was raised by sheep, the literature abounds with poignant strories of Raccoons who have tried to "fit in" with the world, all the while sensing that something was deeply wrong or missing if they were to succeed. Not a presumptuous breed, all but the heartiest Raccoons have tended to blame themselves for this, leading to the well-known phenomenon of the "self-hating Coon."

As we know, certain persistent traits set the Raccoon apart from his peers, including a sense of essential Truth, a sense of the sacred, a sense of beauty, a sense of the eternal, a sense of grandeur (or dignity), a sense of mischief, a sense of soul-smell (or stench, depending on the case), a sense of the ridiculous, and a tendency toward ecstasy (often at inopportune moments). Taken together, these comprise his "cOOnvision," accounting for his laughably quasi-infallibility in metaphysical matters ("laughty revelations," or "inrisible powers"). But this mystical intuition is balanced by deep humility and charity, to such an extent that many humans don't even realize it when there is an "unassuming Raccoon" in their midst. Hence the title of the unpublishable cult classic, The 'Coon Next Door.

Other tawdry books (often incorporating awful puns that we know could not be authentic) have attempted to cash in on the Raccoon phenomenon. Their titles are well known: The One-Minute Raccoon, Tuesdays with Rocky, Raw Chicken for the Raccoon Soul, Awakening the Hibernating Raccoon Within, Raccooneritis, Jesus was a Capricoon, Deepak is a Hideous Spiritual Psychopath, etc.

But as we all know, a Raccoon is not something you can "become," only recognize and actualize. It cannot be conferred upon you (except by Petey through the mystical channel of the sacred "book purchase"), nor can it be taken away. In truth, nothing extrinsic can add to or diminish one's Raccoon nature (unless you order two books or purchase an indulgence from Petey). It is a matter of becoming who you already are, or overcoming one's "vertical I-AMnesia."

Now, as it concerns Raccoon dogma, the Raccoon has the well-attested bi-cosmic ability to simultaneously stand "within" and "above" tradition -- but only above because within. Thus, the Raccoon does not "fly," nor does he crawl. Rather, he walks -- sometimes on two legs, sometimes on four, but always with paws firmly planted on the earth. Indeed, he is the lowest of the logoistic, hence his "earthereal" nature. The loftiest theology may mingle side by side with the simple "rhythm and blues" of the American negro tradition, or the sentimental "country and western" so loved by the bitter white trash of the "red states."

The Raccoon is an unquenchably curious creature. When it comes to learning, he is an "intelligent omnivore," meaning that his education may be a desultory and chaotic affair, at least upon superficial consideration. But for the Raccoon, the answer is the disease that kills curiosity, and, being that he wishes to be eternally disease-free, he ultimately knows Nothing in order to know Everything. In this regard, he is absolutely distinct from his archetypal opposite, AKA, the tenured, i.e., those who know everything about nothing.

As we all know, the word "raccoon" is actually derived from the Algonquian word aroughcoune, "he who scratches with his hands," in our case, our heads. Raccoons vertitably come into the world "scratching our heads," and for many, the itch is never satisfied. Many Raccoon parents will good-naturedly compete over whose kit scratched his head at an earlier age, but research shows that it doesn't really matter, and that late-scratchers normally catch up with their peers.

When one Raccoon greets another with the phrase, "How's 'yer bloody scalp?," it means "what eternal verity have you learned today?," as if to suggest blood emanating from the head due to the incessant scratching and "coontemplating." In fact, it is fair to say that true Raccoon knowledge always comes at the cost of real blood.

As we know, the Raccoon is a nocturnal animal, both literally and metaphorically. Epistemologically, his "night vision" is a complement to the "day vision" of the rank and foul human. Being that his cOOnvision allows him to "see in the dark," theology and metaphysics come naturally to him, whereas certain "practical" matters, such as how to dress appropriately, or please the in-laws, may be a closed book.

As day vision is to the head, night vision is to the heart, meaning that the center of cerebral activity for the Raccoon is in the chest region. This is not to be confused with the unmoored emotionality of his human brethren, especially his liberal sisterly brethren, who habitually confuse intensity of feeling with depth of thought. Rather, the Raccoon heart represents the higher unity of the modes of thinking and feeling. Furthermore, it is always mingled with doing, which is to say action. The Raccoon "lives his realization," rather than merely thinking or feeling it. This is the paradox of our "higher non-doodling." We may look like we're just doodling around, but we're not. My in-laws will never understand this.

We have all seen baby Raccoons who sleep "upside down." In fact, Raccoons are born "upside down," which, for us, is "right side up." In practical terms, it means that Raccoons are born with a different textual orientation to the cosmos than our human counterparts (like the Hebrews, who read from right to left, except we do so from up to down). Specifically, the Raccoon comes into the world with figure and ground reversed, so that their primary orientation is to eternity rather than time. Thus, their birthright is a state of being that would represent the culmination of a lifetime's spiritual practice for the non-Raccoon.

But it is not as if this cosmic disorientation represents an unqualified blessing, since it contributes to the Raccoon's alienation, not to mention equivocal financial circumstances. He may not be particularly "worldly," and in fact, it would represent something of an aberration if he were. Much of what the world regards as being of the utmost significance will, for the Raccoon, represent urgent nonsense, or what one poetic Raccoon called "dying of miscellany." The Raccoon is always being "Reasonable," if not necessarily "reasonable," which can lead to friction with other humans. What they call "reality," we call a tight-fitting dream garment woven from the gooey substance of the dreamer.

There is a certain natural "detachment" in the Raccoon, as if he can never completely give himself over to the illusions of the world. And since their primary orientation is to eternity rather than time, they can find it exceedingly difficult to get all excited about this particular time. At the very least, he won't get caught up in the momentary "tempest of the day," as if it has some eternal significance. It is not uncommon for certain Raccoons to feel as if they were "born at the wrong time," but the fact of the matter is, for a Raccoon, time itself is the wrong time. However, once this is realized, then any time can be the right time. Or at least no worse than any other time.

It is difficult to gauge the historical significance of Raccoons, since their influence largely goes unnoticed by those who write history. Indeed, their contributions cannot be weighed on the scales of the world. Rather, their influence is always qualitative, interior, invisible, and occult. Although not visible to the "historians of the day," one can nevertheless draw a straight line from Raccoon to Raccoon down through the night time of history, and it is the task of each Raccoon to stand in this line, make it "come alive," and hand it down to the next generation. Thus, we have our "tradition" -- tradition defined as the vertical prolonged into the horizontal -- but it is a hidden one, i.e, "the invisible church of perpetual slack."

The Raccoon has one natural enemy who takes many forms, and many supernatural friends who reflect one form. A "coongregation" occurs when any two Raccoons meet "in His gnome." The Raccoons can be from any tradition, but will nevertheless joyfully recognize each other as "brothers under the pelt." Naturally, they will often find that they have more in common with each other than with the human members of their own traditions. Thus, there are Christian Raccoons, Jewish Raccoons, and esoteric Vadantacoons, but the opposite is not true -- there is no doctrinal "Raccoon Christianity," for example.

Although Coons can look pretty sluggish at times, they do not actually hibernate. Rather, they go through a period of decreased activity, which is referred to as the "daily torpor." All Coon children know that this torpor lasts until the school bell rings. It was once assumed that adult Coons outgrew this torpor, but it can often persist into one's work life.

Typical upside-down kit trying to find his way in the world:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pneumababble, the Crock in the Cosmic Egg, and the Word Made Fresh

I've descended into the living hull of the knowa's arkive and emerged with my olden pneumagain pick O the week, your molden oldie from a bygone daze.

*****

Again we return to the Word, or the mystery of language. How to deploy language to achieve God as opposed to eclipsing God? How to use language rather than being used by it? For one can laterally talk of God all naught and deity without actually doing so, whether one is religious or very much so. This is why so much religious talk is precisely meaningless, because it attempts float on the ocean of Spirit with dinghy lingos that are allwetty fool of themselves. Pure pneumababble!

Almost as mythterious as language's ability to smuggle truth across the frontier of our skin boundaries is its capacity to institutionalize nonsense. One would think that "experts" in language would be immune to this problem, but expertise in any area often comes down to an agreed upon system of high-flown prejudices. It's more of an ideological hackupational gatekeeping system for the tenured than a kennel of truth. This can especially be embarked upon with houndsight. Naturally, materialistic (k)nines and lingy dingos enjoy ridiculing certain religious beliefs, but the catalogue of doggerel promulgated by these scientific yap dogs is no less flaw-bitten. Woof!

After all, science changes. It is one human activity in which you know ahead of time that you are wrong. Science deals in hypotheses and tentative conclusions, all built upon a convenient set of assumptions that are methodologically necessary but easily proven to be metaphysically incoherent. By definition these conclusions are bound to change. This is its virtue. In order to even think about reality, science must deal in models of reality, and it is always tempting to reify the abstract model and confuse it with the underlying reality. Real reality will always elude the grasp of science. But this hardly means that it eludes the grasp of Man, who always knows more than he can say, at least when he isn't saying more than he knows.

By contrast with science, religion deals with the timeless and eternally true. The problem is, how does one employ language in such a way that it does not relativize the absolute and reduce it to a "figure of speech?"

As Schuon wrote, "God likes to shatter and to renew forms or the husks of things; for He wants our hearts and is not content with our actions alone." You might say that God perpetually shatters speech, despite our best efforts to put it back together. Or as Joyce -- someone who knew an itsy bitsy about the allforabit -- put it, "And even if Humpty shell fall frumpty times as awkword again, there'll be iggs for the brekkers come to mournhim, sunny side up with care."

In an essay entitled The Gift of Language, the esteemed Theodore Dalrymple easily dismantles one of the orthodoxies of linguistics, the idea that language can be reduced to genetics. Here is a fine example of how an intellectually gifted outsider with common sense can see straight through the absurdity of this or that reigning dogma or catechism. The absurdity can be seen directly by the intellect, because the intellect is made of truth and for this reason can detect pure nonsense when it sees it.

Dalrymple's experience of performing psychiatric evaluations of certain less articulate souls exactly parallels mine. He writes that,

"With a very limited vocabulary, it is impossible to make, or at least to express, important distinctions and to examine any question with conceptual care. My patients often had no words to describe what they were feeling, except in the crudest possible way, with expostulations, exclamations, and physical displays of emotion. Often, by guesswork and my experience of other patients, I could put things into words for them, words that they grasped at eagerly. Everything was on the tip of their tongue, rarely or never reaching the stage of expression out loud. They struggled even to describe in a consecutive and logical fashion what had happened to them, at least without a great deal of prompting. Complex narrative and most abstractions were closed to them."

I am well familiar with the type of person he is describing. Now, both of us -- the patient and myself -- inhabit the identical reality, do we not? No, we don't. This is another area where multiculturalism crashes against the rocks of reality. As I have said before, mental illness is a private culture, whereas culture is more or less a public mental illness (I oppose culture, which is particular, to civilization, which is universal but can take various forms). Human beings are not the same, because although biology takes each of us to the shore of humanness, it is only language -- or, let us say, the Word -- that allows us to stand firmly on dry ground, continue the journey upward and inward, and literally "colonize" more of consciousness.

Consider the patient described above. Like all human beings, he is "conscious" and he possesses "speech." But how much consciousness has he actually conquered with speech? I would suggest that, just like a primitive people, he inhabits a tiny island that he confuses with the whole of reality -- at least until he encounters the wider world. Then he will either remain stupid -- with the assistance of liberals who tell him that his little world is as good as any other -- or he will try to get off the island.

Or sometimes the plantation. This is the vast difference between, say, a Thomas Sowell and a Jesse Jackson. Jackson is a bitter slave living on a tiny plantation, whereas Sowell has long since emancipated himself and hightailed it for the north (the vertical, as it were). Yes, both are "men," but this designation often conceals as much as it reveals. As Aristotle said, "the soul is all that it knows," which is another way of saying that a man is all the consciousness he has colonized.

When it comes to human beings, there are island men, citified men, worldly men, cosmic men, and fully bi-cosmic men, or Raccoons. Naturally, the island man has no way of knowing when he is dealing with one of the others, but the cosmic or bi-cosmic man knows in an instant the pneumagraphical boundaries of the person with whom he is dealing.

The old coonerism that "words are not merely words" contradicts all linguistic orthodogmacy (a "coonerism" is something a Raccoon is born knowing -- it is part of his non-genetic "soul inheritance"). Our spacy-age linguistic elites maintain that "every child, save the severely brain-damaged and those with very rare genetic defects, learns his or her native language with perfect facility, adequate to his needs. He does so because the faculty of language is part of human nature, inscribed in man’s physical being, as it were, and almost independent of environment" (Dalrymple).

The expert linguisitors further proclaim that language "is an inherent biological characteristic of mankind rather than a merely cultural artifact. Moreover, language itself is always rule-governed; and the rules that govern it are universally the same, when stripped of certain minor incidentals and contingencies that superficially appear important but in reality are not" (Dalrymple).

It is this kind of thinking that inevitably leads to the idea that ebonics is as good as the language of Shakespeare. Why not? Who are we to judge? It's just hardware. Like opinions and a**holes, everybody's got one. It's standard issue.

Again, consider how educated one must be to adhere to such nonsense. Only someone very stupid or very educated could possibly believe such a thing. And yet, they do believe it:

"It follows that no language or dialect is superior to any other and that modes of verbal communication cannot be ranked according to complexity, expressiveness, or any other virtue. Thus, attempts to foist alleged grammatical 'correctness' on native speakers of an 'incorrect' dialect are nothing but the unacknowledged and oppressive exercise of social control -- the means by which the elites deprive whole social classes and peoples of self-esteem and keep them in permanent subordination. If they are convinced that they can’t speak their own language properly, how can they possibly feel other than unworthy, humiliated, and disenfranchised? Hence the refusal to teach formal grammar is both in accord with a correct understanding of the nature of language and is politically generous, inasmuch as it confers equal status on all forms of speech and therefore upon all speakers" (Dalrymple).

Here is a fine example of how leftists, as always, believe they are the magnanimous "liberators" when they are actually the oppressors of mankind. They have the idiotic notion they are somehow "anti-imperialist" or "anti-colonialist," when they are specifically colonizing these poor souls with their own parasitic postmodern ideology. By forcing people to live on their little cultural and linguistic islands, they aren't "liberating" anyone. Rather, they are enslaving them. Intellectually and spiritually, a Cornell West or a Harry Belafonte is an abject slave. Likewise, the purpose of an organization such as CAIR is to enslave Muslims, just as the purpose of the NAACP is to enslave blacks, largely through the use of an oppressive and narrow language that sharply limits, defines, and contains reality.

In his essay, Dalrymple proceeds to pick apart one of the world's leading linguists, Steven Pinker. Again, he is able to do this because the intellect can know truth directly. It does not require a study or a consensus of experts to do this. I do not believe Dalrymple is a religious man -- after all, he is European. Nevertheless, he is obviously a "Raccoon without portfolio," for he sees directly into the truth of complex subjects in such a way that he is able to bypass the "experts."

Science vs. religion. I ask you: what is more nutty, the statement, "In the Beginning was the Word," or “Language is qualitatively the same in every individual," or "men are as naturally equal in their ability to express themselves as in their ability to stand on two legs," or “once you begin to look at language as a biological adaptation to communicate information, it is no longer as tempting to see language as an insidious shaper of thought.” What is the kookier notion, the idea that man is made of truth because the primordial word is naturally capable of becoming flesh, or the statement that “When it comes to linguistic form, Plato walks with the Macedonian swineherd, Confucius with the head-hunting savage of Assam”?

Experts say that the idea of one form of language being superior to another is "a pernicious illusion.... Trifling differences between the dialect of the mainstream and the dialect of other groups... are dignified as badges of ‘proper grammar.’” To believe otherwise makes you a contemptible linguistic imperialist, no doubt a racist to boot. In fact, standard English is simply "one of those languages that 'is a dialect with an army and a navy.'” In other words -- in keeping with the abiding leftist faith that all relations may ultimately be reduced to blind power -- the grammatically correct schoolmarms to whom Pinker objects "are in fact but the linguistic arm of a colonial power -- the middle class -- oppressing what would otherwise be a much freer and happier populace" (Dalrymple).

Oh, expert texpert stinking Pinkers, don't you think the joker winks at you? Ho ho ho, he, he he, ha, ha, ha? See how we grin like Coons in a den, see how we smile!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Four-Dimensional Bowling, Sensible Footwear, and the Metaphysics of Death

What would be the nature of the resurrection body? What would it "look" like? Would it be me at 28? 49? 77? A combination of all multiples of seven?

One approach is to consider the nature of the self, which you might think of as a hyperdimensonal object that necessarily discloses its nature within the container of linear time, "one piece at a time." On a personal level, this soulprint is our "alpha and omega," the secret map of our existence. Maurice Nicoll has an interesting way of thinking about it, following along the lines of Hermetic tradition:

"think that you are not yet begotten, that you are in the womb, that you are young, that you are old, that you have died, that you are in the world beyond the grave; grasp in your thought all this at once, all times and places, all substances and magnitudes together; then you can apprehend God" (in Bolton).

Thinking of the problem in this way allows us to get beyond the veil of time and to catch a glimpse of what it would truly mean to be an image of the One who is beyond (and the source of) space and time. It is not so much that it is an either/or proposition; rather, this nonlocal and "universalized form of identity integrates our individual natures with a world of objective realities," and represents a "necessary supplement" to our natural, or local identity.

For one thing, it shows how the past can be preserved -- how "previous states of being still really exist in objective reality, even though they are not perceptible by our time-bound senses" (Bolton). Sense perception is what affixes us to the present moment, which "is why it is always deceptive if taken for anything like a complete representation of reality." We must use time, not be used up by it.

You could say that time forms the basis of our local subjectivity, and moors it down below. I'm trying to think of an appropriate metaphor... maybe it will come to me later. But Bolton points out that "the illusion of temporality can be overcome when we perceive the passage of time as a movement through a fourth dimension" where "there are no distinctions between past, present, and future." It would be like, say, a history book, which externally looks like an object; but internally, you can see that it has a beginning, a middle, and an end, all mutually copresent.

Indeed, human beings have their own history book, known as the unconscious. It is the unconscious that provides the deep continuity to our life, since one of its characteristics is that it is "timeless." There, hidden away in the unconscious, is our infancy, our childhood, every personally significant experience we have ever had. It is always holographically resonating with the present moment to produce -- or disrupt -- "meaning." (It is also what creates the "false meaning" of, say, an obsession, or paranoia.)

In fact, as I have written before, I think it is misleading to refer to "the" unconscious, since every waking moment is a product of the dialectic, or complementarity, between conscious and unconscious. For example, if you enter psychoanalytic therapy, you are basically talking to someone who is trained to observe and interpret the "underside" of your verbalizations and experiences, when you are accustomed to seeing only the "top." Materialists, atheists, and other shallow types are usually precisely the people who overvalue the surface and know nothing about their own unconscious (which again, extends both "up" and "down"; transpersonality extends in both directions).

Change is always relative. When we say we have changed, the question is, "relative to what?" Thinking again of psychotherapy, if it is successful, we want the person to be able to say that he has changed in such a way that he is "more himself." Here we can see that the change we seek is incomprehensible in the absence of the changeless, i.e., that personal blueprint alluded to above.

But at the same time, once we have made contact with this higher self and begun to live our lives from this new psychic center, time takes on more of a "flowing" quality, in that it becomes the mode of our actualization instead of the graveyard of our hopes and aspirations. It begins to be seen as the very substance of life, rather than merely the ineluctable train track to our doom.

Looked at in this way, you could say that we must not allow time to be our container. Rather, we must see that the real container is the nonlocal self. And since it is a higher dimensional object, it obviously cannot be completely contained within time, any more than a sphere can be contained in a plane. So it is not so much that time is the "great destroyer"; rather, as Bolton observes, "what is destroyed or ceases to be is only as much of the object as can be contained in the moment," which isn't much. The destruction "has no effect on this object in its other places along the fourth dimension." So, "not only are we invisible as spiritual beings," but "by far the greater part of our physical being is also invisible because only an element of it can be visible at any one time."

The only reason we have a personal memory is because it is a reflection of what you might call "cosmic memory." Science obviously operates on this basis, in that our cosmic past is encoded in the present, to such an extent that it can be interpreted so as to disclose "events" that took place all the way back to the horizontal "beginning."

Just so, the purpose, say, of Genesis, is to show that echoes of the vertical origin (as opposed to beginning) are everywhen and -where present: paradise, temptation, fall, talking snakes, etc. Genesis is a hyperdimensional text par excellence. How could it be otherwise?

Speaking of hyperdimensional books, Bolton notes that "Death, or what we call the end of life, could thus only be the end of a person in the way that the last page of a book is the end of the book." It is only the end of the line, not the sphere.

Even if we view the emergence of man solely in naturalistic terms, from "the bottom up," it nevertheless can be shown that the human mind is the cosmos' first hyperdimensional organ. To say that it is somehow the result of our linear senses is pretty much unalloyed lizard droppings. Rather, it's the other way around: the senses are always deployed by a subject who is their a priori unification in a higher dimension.

The point is that our mind is an "organism," but strictly a transtemporal organism that unifies "all our past momentary selves in both their mental and physical states" in order to "form a single continuous organism with what we are now." Which is why "our present psycho-corporeal state is in dialogue with all we have been before." And which is also why the past can be altered, as in psychotherapy. It becomes altered by properly metabolizing it in the present.

I see that Bolton gets the point: "We assume that the present state of the self can thus heal earlier ones because they really exist in union with what we are now." It obviously works in reverse as well, which is why our past can muck up the present and ruin our quality of life. It is also why you can kill your own future, even to eternity.

So, when we reach the end of the line, we exit, or "withdraw" from time. Which is apparently like removing a tight pair of shoes. Or so ve have heard from the vice.

Rishi does it. Take your shoes off and set a spell. Relux & call it a deity. --The Coonifesto

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It is Not Good that God Should be Allone

Just as creation, for Eckhart, is a continuous and eternal process, so too the Word taking on flesh is not a past event we look back to in order to attain salvation, but rather is an ever-present hominification of God and deification of humanity and the universe -- an incarnatio continua. --Bernard McGinn

Bolton notes that "it is generally agreed that the union of the soul with God is the goal of religion, and that its highest forms are the subject of mystical writings." However, "there is much less agreement about the exact nature of the union." Again, for monistic religions, the union could be represented by an equation to the effect that Reality = existence - you. In short, if you're not part of the dissolution, you're the problem. Not a very good deal, IMO.

But in Christianity, mystical experience represents "a union between real persons." In this case, the equation would be something to the effect that Father + Son = Reality. Or again, infinite + finite = true infinite.

In order to mediate this deuspute, we must meditate on the true meaning of union and of person, for union cannot merely be an indistinct blending of substances, nor can it come about as a result of the elimination of persons. Let's say I build a nuclear device powerful enough to utterly reduce the world to its molecular components. Would the result be "closer" or more distant from God? After all, in so doing, we've gotten rid of all the egos, and made the world truly "one."

Or, consider how they treat women in the Islamic world. Being that the face is the externalization of our unique interior soul, those cultures attempt to suppress this uniqueness by concealing it in a black bag. As a result, any woman becomes all women, and all women are any woman. Is this denial of uniqueness and individuation a good thing?

On the other hand, in the West, we have gotten to the point that we vastly overvalue the existentially detached individual who has lost contact with his archetypal, or principial, manhood. In other words, mere individualism is also of little use if it devolves into a hypertrophied cosmic narcissism existing for its own sake. Rather, the true meaning and purpose of individuation can only be appreciated in a dialectical relationship with God, the Subject of subjects and Person of persons.

This is not that different from the manner in which the child can only flourish and actualize his humanness in the dialectical space between child and adult. Child and adult are not merely "stages of growth," nor is "adult" a kind of isolated endpoint of development. Rather -- and this has become much more evident to me with fatherhood -- child and adult mutually define and amplify one another (which is one reason why teen motherhood is generally such a catastrophe, because it is a relationship between babies).

In having a child, I have become more "adult," even while -- or because of -- actualizing a kind of deeper contact with my own inner child. A parent who cannot tolerate his inner child, or who has lost contact with it, will be a poor parent. Equally destructive are parents who cannot tolerate their children's separation, so the child is not allowed to discover himself and individuate from the parent.

I see this all the time -- parents and children who are "one," but in an entirely pathological way. I am reminded of Deion Sanders, who was going through a divorce a few years back. A sportscaster asked him if it would be a distraction during the season, and he responded with words to the effect of, "Nah. It ain't like it's family or nothin'."

This is no joke, because healthy parenting will actualize a real person who is separate from you, partly because the good parent recognizes from the outset that their child is an autonomous soul who must be treated with the intrinsic dignity owed to a person.

But the bad parent sees the child as an extension of him- or herself, and doesn't permit real individuation. This reverses the flow of evolution and leads to psychohistorical stagnation. After all, if children loved their parents as much as parents loved their children, that would be the end of development, because everyone would marry their mother (or compulsively rebel against her, which amounts to the same thing). And of course, many, if not most, people symbolically do just that, as Freud discovered over a century ago.

Transposed to the key of Spirit, perhaps we can learn something about the relationship between Father and Son, who are "one" and yet distinct. Bolton notes that "Union is by definition only possible between similars, not between things which differ absolutely, and in the present case, the difference between God and creature is more extreme than between any two finite entities." Again, the easy way out is to just eliminate that which is "not God," but that "is merely a denial of the real problem, because on this basis, union qua union [of persons] would be void of content."

Bolton sees the solution in a distinctly Raccoonish sort of way, basing it on two interrelated principles, first, that the Whole is present in every part, and second, that every level and possibility of God will be actualized (i.e., in God there is no distinction between his potentiality and actuality). Therefore, if man is the image of God and a microcosm of being, he is ultimately.... darn, I wish I could reproduce that symbol in my book. But just imagine O with a point at the center. That's us. Note that each of us connotes a remote little boat afloat upon the wider moat of Universal being, quote unquote.

But before we gloat, we must remember the goat of the story, Adam. As a consequence of the Fall, Bolton says that man's "individual created nature was no longer integrated with its spiritual center." However, "despite the consequent corruption of human nature, the divine spark was not affected in itself, but only in its relation to the personality." But luckily for us, "grace is always able to reactivate it," thereby resuscitating our little mystical-intellectual pilot light.

Now, this movement represents nothing other than our evolution to God's involution. Other animals do not really evolve, but remain fixed on their particular archetypal plane. They participate in God's "procession," but not his "reversion." As Bolton explains, "Only the power of reversion can balance procession and liberate the being from the entropic current of time. In other words, procession alone ultimately negates itself," as it proceeds all the way to the "relative nothingness" at the vertical periphery of existence.

But reversion preserves the being, and results in "something far more complex than what originally proceeded," that is, the union of God and man, joined in love, i.e., "a free union between two real beings." Sort of like the Trinity, only "actualized" down here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Spiritual Indigestion and the Gastronomics of Eternity

I'm afraid that with this post, I've bitten off more than I can possibly chew. As a psychotic patient of mine once said, "my eyes are bigger than my head." We're getting into matters which are far too deep to be given their due in a mere blog post. Call it the Balthasar Effect. I need a few thousand pages to flesh things out, so I apologize in advance for the deep superficiality....

Now we get to the heart of the subject: that is, what's in it for me? Remember, the whole point of Self and Spirit is to disclose the cosmic significance of the personal self. It's pretty easy to prove that there is an abstract subject shared by all human beings, and which survives our death, since it was never "alive" in the biological sense.

In this regard, we have the empirical testimony of countless sages and mystics of the East who have achieved moksha, nirvana, or samadhi, i.e., liberation. In those approaches, it's not quite correct to say that one is liberated, since it is specifically one's personal identity that must be effaced in order to achieve the liberation. Indeed, you become "the face before you were born."

But what if you want to be there after you die?

Bolton writes that "immortality can be real in a true but trivial way which confounds it with the immortality of the essence of any consciousness." But unlike the Eastern approaches, a Christian gnosis can never be anti-somatic. Rather, in order to be kosher, it requires "both poles of consciousness," by which he means a unification and harmonization of the infinite and finite, form and substance, abstract principle and phenomenological content. In short, "belief in the Incarnation does not allow that the manifest personality is only a ladder to be kicked away when some unspecified entity has identified with the Nous or Atman." Otherwise, who is saved? And for what purpose?

Again, the Incarnation represents the union of finite and infinite -- it is the pouring out of the Infinite, the total self-abandonment of the Infinite into the finite. Indeed, you could say that God "surrenders" to man -- which is why it is for us to return the favor. After all, it is the finite part of us that requires salvation. The infinite part can take care of itself. The reduction of man to only the impassive and unchanging infinite, i.e., Brahman, "is really a denial of the idea of salvation in any meaningful form."

Truly, God "crucifies" himself in order to be -- and to be here -- at all; in other words, to become "limited" and contained within existence. Just so, man must crucify his horizontally enclosed self in order to unite it with the eternal. Bolton: "This lies at the heart of the cosmic function of spirituality. It is the realization of the function of uniting the worlds of spirit and matter, by which man is the uniquely necessary bond of union between God and nature" (emphasis mine).

Here is where freedom comes in, including the freedom to reject eternity: "Although this mediating function is a potentiality of the rational soul, it is one which it is under no necessity to realize" (emphasis mine). Rather, it can obviously confine itself to the horizontal, although, in my experience, such beings typically do so in a sort of compulsive manner that ends up further entangling themselves in appearances and dissipating the soul.

In other words, the soul isn't static; it is always either moving "toward" or "away" from God. It is as if -- no, we are situated between two attractors, "world" and "spirit." Again your mission, should you choose to accept it, is not to plunge yourself one way or the other, but to harmonize them at their innersection, AKA, the cross.

As Bolton observes, "when this truth is ignored... the result can only be a reduction of religion to forms of social behavior... the opposite of which is the purely soul-centered perspective of the New Age religion." People tend to be inclined in one direction or the other, but our task is to resolve these oppositions "in the light of the assimilative principle." I don't know about you, but when I think of the "assimilative principle," I immediately think of the theophagy of Holy Communion. But maybe it's just because I haven't had breakfast yet.

Take, eat. This is my body. This is my blood. Wo, dude. You're freaking me out. No, it's true. This esoteric coonibalism is the transformative principle through which "the naturally unspiritual becomes spiritual by collaboration with a divine inspiration which involves the whole being, acting between soul and spirit and between body and spirit by means of the soul." In short, you must feed your soul and eat a lot of truth and beauty in order to grow the thing that unites time and eternity.

Regarding free will, "if the whole person is 'converted' voluntarily to his inner principle, and the not-necessarily immortal participates in the necessarily immortal, the effect is one of regeneration," AKA, salvation, or "eternal life."

Conversely, you can spend your life slowly killing your soul by eating a lot of junk food and blowing the uppertunity of a lifetome. And to paraphrase Clint, "dyin' ain't much of a livin', boy."

On a less lofty plane, Bolton quotes Plato, who spoke of how, "if a man is entirely dedicated to appetites and ambitions and devotes all his energies to these, all his thoughts must needs be mortal, and he cannot help but become altogether mortal (so far as that is possible) since he has fostered the growth of his mortality." Hence the various paradoxables of Jesus, to the effect that dying to this kind of dispersive and ultimately meaningless activity is when the real living begins.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Caught in the Cross Fire

The highest beings hear God not only through and in existence, or through and in life, but through and in understanding itself. In that realm, understanding and speaking are the same. --Meister Eckhart

I'm afraid my wires are getting a little crossed. I'm trying to finish up our little review of Bolton's Self and Spirit at the same time I have begun fulfilling my new year's resolution, which is to complete Balthasar's sprawling 15 volume systematic theology, consisting of the aesthetics (seven volumes), theo-dramatics (five volumes) and theo-logic (three volumes; most of the volumes are 500-600 pages).

In the past, I've only read him in dribs and drabs, plus a fair amount of secondary literature, but now I'm diving right in. You could say it's overloading my circuits. I don't recall ever reading anything so dense. I can't really make a general raccoomendation, any more than I would recommend climbing Mount Everest. The best available introduction, by Oakes, says that writing a one-volume book on him was "like trying to fit the Mediterranean Sea into a child's pail." That's a bit of an exaggeration; I would say "thimble." I have no idea how I'm going to boil it all down to wisecrock of a post or two.

Interestingly, I am noticing many connections between Bolton and Balthasar, which suggests to me that the plane of exoterism becomes an esoterism if you simply pursue the former all the way down -- or up. I first ran across Balthasar's name because he had written the afterword for the highly esoteric Meditations on the Tarot. And yet, he was nominated by Pope John Paul to be a cardinal, which again highlights the hardy-harmonic coonvergence between exo- and esoterism. (Oddly, Balthasar was born in Switzerland a couple of years before, and 40 miles away, from Schuon; must have been something in the holy water.)

Ironically -- or not -- it was the opposite path for Unknown Friend. He pursued esoterism to its limits, and it brought him right back to the Catholic Church! So it seems that extremes truly do meet, so long as we really take them to the extreme, and don't stop at some arbitrary point.

And because it has been around the humans for so long, it's easy to forget how extreme and extremely esoteric Christianity was at the time of its appearance. As always happens, the container ends up domesticating the contained, in whatever arena. There is a downsde to dogma, and that occurs when it becomes stagnant and loses it generativity. It's not so much the fault of dogma as its interpreter. A Meister Eckart can come along and unsaturate the dogma in shocking ways -- which is why his writing is still refreshing today.

In a way, it is up to each generation to rediscover the uncontainable within the contained. If we can't do that through official channels, schisms inevitably form, because man was made to know the Absolute, and won't be satisfied with anything less. In turn, follow the schism to its logical limits, and it will (hopefully) lead you back to orthodoxy, only in a revitalized way. It is fair to say that one will return to the beginning, and know the place for the first time. This is what it has been like for me. To immerse oneself in the wor(l)d of Balthasar is like being shocked by the scandal of Christianity all over again for the first time. And what a shock to the system!

First of all, the man is a genius, which is obvious. Second, just this one trilogy consists of what, 8,000 pages? As I think I've mentioned before, I believe genius is genius. This or that genius will simply find a medium, or "idiom," for the expression of their particular genius. For one person it will be music. For another, physics. For another, theology.

I take the example of Bion, another obvious genius. In his case, he expressed his genius through the discipline of psychoanalysis. In order to appreciate him, one must, to a certain extent, obscure the particulars in order to see how "genius itself" approaches the world and its problems. In other words, you must look at it from a meta-level and not only see what genius "knows," but what it does. And what does it do?

For one thing, it always sees beyond the exterior, to the "within of things." Over at Just Thomism, James has one of his typically elliptical and Bionically unsaturated posts on Difficulties in Understanding Abstraction. As with Bion, I'm often not quite sure I understand what brother James is talking about, but he nevertheless provokes a flurry of my own untamed thoughts, which is a rare quality in a teacher. Good teachers always "disturb the peace" -- which eventually allows for a deeper peace that surpasses understanding.

In my comment, I mentioned that what he wrote about the "unimaginability" of the intellect reminded me of mountain biking, in which, if you want to avoid crashing, you don’t look down at what you're trying to avoid in your path, but look ahead about 20 yards, to where you want to go. Similarly, the intellect is always reaching “beyond itself.” Eliminate the beyond, and your intellect will lose its balance and crash in the dirt.

A narrow and mediocre intellect -- let's say, oh, Queeg -- is fixated on the Darwinian rocks in his path, and therefore stumbles on them. He can't ride his intellectual bike any further than that, but then leaps to the wholly unwarranted conclusion that the path doesn't continue infinitely beyond the rocks. Just because he got bent, it doesn't mean that we have to. I mean his bicycle got bent.

Again, the real genius takes the facts of Darwinism, or psychoanalysis, or theology, and sees "through" and "beyond" them, to something far deeper. And you may think that this has nothing to do with yesterday's post, but you'd be wrong. Because yesterday we left off with the idea that the Incarnation signifies the union of the infinite and finite, which is precisely why the there is an unlimited "depth" to reality accessible to the deep thinker. The depth, AKA the metaphysical transparency, is only there because it is the infinite shining through the finite. This in turn resonates with Balthasar's emphasis on the aesthetics of theology as of equal importance as the Good and True.

Theology is never "merely true," like, say science. Rather, to the extent that it is "truly true," then it will also be infused with, and radiate, the divine glory, which is none other than beauty itself. And what is the "sense" with which we appreciate divine beauty? To try to answer that question is a little like trying to avoid the rock in the bike path. In order to answer it, you must look ahead -- or above -- to where the trail of beauty is headed -- which is the very purpose of the trail.

Bolton cites a passage by Plotinus, who wrote that we mustn't "complain about the lower in the higher; rather, we must be grateful to the higher for giving something of itself to the lower." Thanks to that, our minds are on fire, but never consumed, for we exist in that sinaiptic gap where the divine grace touches our aspiration. And our as-piration is God's in-spiration, or the breath of grace by another name.