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:

29 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

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)."

One of the things that I've found amazing and wonderful in my reading this past year or so has been how brilliantly different thinkers illuminate each other. Even those who outwardly would seem to be at odds, coming from different traditions and perspectives. The effect is comparable to the difference between looking at a regular ultrasound and a 3D version, but on a much vaster and less contained scale.

Have I said thanks lately? I never would have stumbled across these luminaries on my own. But having tasted and seen, I've lost my appetite for anything lesser.

1/26/2009 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Djadja said...

Welcome back, Bob. Methinks you got your stride back before the post was over.

1/26/2009 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Interesting point about staying in shape:
...you have to behave like a professional athlete, minus the guns, drugs, and hookers.

I get the joke, but there's a lot of truth to it. In any serious enterprise, and especially a spiritual one, loading up on "extras" doesn't serve. There's no "natural athlete" lurking in my body, but in order to maintain any sort of focus there's plenty I'm better off not-doing -- from diet, to distractions, to indulging in the tchotchke of everyday life. Thinking about it as an athletic endeavor is a good metaphor!

BTW, even athletes suffer jet lag. Welcome back! What Julie Said™.

1/26/2009 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Bob

Glad your back safe, where's the pictures of Curious George?


wv: denape, not exactly a monkey but then who cares

1/26/2009 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Hey now. Van Morrison's Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl just dropped to $9.99. Order it now, and you lock in the price.... I did.

1/26/2009 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger QP said...

Julie said: "...having tasted and seen, I've lost my appetite for anything lesser." Ah ha and ditto. And I've missed my daily dosing from B'ob that ceaselessly stirs and prods my spirit from unconscious emotional moorings.
But nothing's lost.
Or else: all is translation

And every bit of us is lost in it

(Or found--I wander through the ruin of S

Now and then, wondering at the peacefulness)
And in that loss a self-effacing tree, 

Color of context, imperceptibly

Rustling with its angel, thus turns the waste

To shade and fiber, milk and memory.


--Closing stanza of James Merrill's poem "Lost in Translation".

For a rich analysis of that transcendent poem, I commend to you "Replacing the Waste Land--James Merrill's Quest for Transcendent Authority"--An Essay by Alan Nadel

1/26/2009 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

As regards both the athletic metaphor and the Word made flesh, after listing numerous exemplars (witnesses) of faith, the writer to the Hebrews said:

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (12:1-2)

Action -
1)lay aside...the mind parasites
2)fix eyes...on He Who both set and led the way
3)run with endurance the race...to joy.

"Hearing and Performing the Cosmic Suite" That's some beautiful music!

wv: practa (what you prea)

1/26/2009 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I love both their expressions in that photo - he looks all cool, while she looks amazed, like a little angel just peeked over her chair. Or a monkey, perhaps ;)

1/26/2009 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Sean said...

the visits with the relatives generally expose my remaining parasites and affords me an opportunity to number their days.

nothing like close family to shake your tree, bless em.

missed you while you were gone and the trolls were particularly pedantic.
welcome back!

1/26/2009 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Priceless pic of FL. His Beauty Locater works just fine.

And if God is the ultimate source and substance of beauty, then the more we ascend vertically, the more beautiful the mindscape.

Beautiful Disguise
a pilgrim stumbles
upon a brace of angels
delicate greeting

[wv: tingl] up my leg

1/26/2009 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'll bet you folks didn't know I have a brother who is a complete idiot (we haven't spoken in years). Here is his moronic new book.

1/26/2009 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Hmmm.

Judging strictly by the description of the book, and being familiar with your beliefs, I suspect that your conversations with your brother have a certain similarity to mine with my brother.

1/26/2009 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What, you mean they don't exist either?

Frankly, his thought is so sophomoric, one didn't know where to begin. I could only indulge him.

1/26/2009 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Holy cow - "Clinton’s presidency marked the return of fiscal discipline and the end of big government."

!

Yeah, I can't quite see you guys having much to say to each other, seeing as how he's apparently from a parallel universe.

wv concr's.

1/26/2009 05:28:00 PM  
OpenID waywardinn said...

I'm stunned. A brother?

I can relate. The situation pains me greatly.

That is a sweet photo, by the way.

1/26/2009 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I can't tell you how bad a writer he is. Check out the very first line of the description:

"With a presidency marked by rancorous, sometimes crippling bipartisanship ..."

Er, I think he means "partisanship."

1/26/2009 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob,
I think it makes sense if it’s a Freudian slip.

1/26/2009 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Here’s a question that answers itself:
Did FL enjoy “blast off”?

1/26/2009 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Our internet connection was down most of the weekend…got it back a little while ago.

Will, hope your recovery is going well.

Did Alice answer my question? I may have missed it. Seemed like an easy one…I could answer it easily.

1/26/2009 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“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.”

Sometimes I can’t get over this miracle; that words can work at all on this subject. I mean, how can something that at the same time works as well as language can in its most beautiful of forms, yet constantly falls so incredibly short of doing what every poet wants but knows he can’t possibly accomplish… AND that we are able to “know” this! Aside from life itself, it’s difficult to come up with a greater gift we’ve been given. That God can actually reach us on our level and that we can know it. You talk about pushing an ocean through a pinhole… it’s like a man trying to communicate with a single celled organism, and the cell thinks something of it, and the cell is not that far off from the truth, knows nothing of the language of the man, never mind how to use it, and yet is able to talk back to him. Or that physics, while never changing from physics, can speak a little about biology from time to time, or can know when something is not-physics, if it tries really hard.

wv: messe (you're tellin' me?)

1/26/2009 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That God can actually reach us on our level and that we can know it.

Ricky, it's as though these aphids were actually looking back at me with comprehension :)

In other news, Iowahawk has some great conservation advice.

1/26/2009 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Bob,

I'm assuming we can act like liberals and offer our insightful and scathing editorial reviews of your brother's book before its release?
After all, Obama's in and it's all good, right? ;^)

1/26/2009 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Sorry to hear about your brother, I have a moonbat sistieugler, we no longer talk. On the upside she is not smart enough to write a book. (course neither am I but that's beside the point)



wv ha reba, I'd never lagh at Reba, I think she's hot.

1/26/2009 09:32:00 PM  
Anonymous pointer finger said...

Beauty

1/26/2009 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad Bob said "I'll bet you folks didn't know I have a brother who is a complete idiot (we haven't spoken in years). Here is his moronic new book."

From the Editorial Review: "Clintonomics explores how Clinton’s presidency marked the return of fiscal discipline and the end of big government."

Being your brother, I should have guessed he'd be a comedian.

(Welcome back)

1/26/2009 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Besides, a 'Coon doesn't get lost in the details, but always asks himself by virtue of what principle? And where's the loophole?

Welcome back, Bob, Leslie and FL!
That is so well said! And it makes it so easy to see through the "nuance" (ie BS) of the Left, which is why Obama's mindless control beams don't work on us.
We actually hear what he's sayin'.

1/26/2009 09:47:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Interesting the different meanings which 'Brother' can have, isn't it?

1/26/2009 09:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

And where's the loophole?

I knew a few loop ho's once. Aye, even Skully gets a bit metaphysical every now and then.
I wasn't too fond of the shots though.

1/26/2009 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie said-
But having tasted and seen, I've lost my appetite for anything lesser.

ExactOmundo! Not only does Bob's (and all the great Mystics) cookin' taste so good, it's well seesoned.

As opposed to the bland gunk (full of barbohydrakes and killories) that idiots like DeepBSak call cookin'. Get over it Chopra, the only thing quantum about your crap is how evil it is.

1/26/2009 10:00:00 PM  

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