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.)

26 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous 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 appears to be a false argument. I don't believe you've justified your position or proven your myopic friend incorrect(a stalemate at best) because you can neither define when something is whole(each individual is different, spiritually/physically) nor can you assume a whole from specific parts.

I don't know what your myopic friend said to upset you, but just because he is wrong, doesn't make you right.

1/27/2009 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That is correct. I can prove nothing to you.

1/27/2009 08:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Djadja said...

Sorry Anonymous, it’s a case of now we see it, now you don’t.

1/27/2009 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

...hajj to Upper Tonga

:D

wv says light; there certainly is, and it is good...

1/27/2009 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

I must be on the hajj, Tongans everywhere I look. Humongous Tongans.

1/27/2009 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Out here in the Field:

"...the more immanent the One is, the more transcendent. Its oneness overflows everywhere, so that everything is ultimately its witness and testament."

As the above sort of worm grows in the dark, unifying the much and the many, the interior distance between my understanding and that of those around me grows as well. Thanks for the words!

1/27/2009 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob wrote:

"...the scientific materialist...is condemned to live in a kind of useless cloud of subjectivity for which he can never account."

I question that assertion. For one thing, the materialist will sleep for 6-8 hours a day. We know from the teachings of Aurobindo that during sleep the being returns for some moments to the Source for refreshment. At these times the materialist and the spiritualist are equal.

Then, the materialist will be under subliminal and unconscious influences of various kinds, which are not disturbed by surface consciousness or its beliefs. This is another large chunk of the being again not under the sway of the intellect.

Finally, the intellect of even the staunchest materialist is shot through with magical thinking doubts about itself; get a materialist drunk and get him to a poker game and he will revert to a pagan, trusting in luck and calling the Deity of choice for help.

Therefore, I would say the materialist is not condemned to spiritless life, unless you meant the thin rind of his frontal cortex when he is awake, alert, and being stupid for the day. That section may be but it isn't that large.

1/27/2009 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous word veri said...

shist

1/27/2009 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"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."

Truly love that One.

If you could teach that one in the schools, 98% of the faculty would short circuit and collapse on the spot, and then some education might in fact take place in them.

Of course there'd be extensive hazmat cleanup costs... wackepidemic grey matter splatters & so forth, still... it'd be worth it.

wv:putro
I already said it'd be messy

1/27/2009 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "This appears to be a false argument."

How would you know?


(looks like a wave of epissedimologists might be accompanying the current wintry weather)

1/27/2009 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

I woke up this morning to a mini-epiphany about forms in terms of play, childlike vision, and involved detachment. Aha - so play is the key that opens the toy chest! D'oh! How many times must I remember / forget / remember this? Today's gong reverberates even through my ever thickening skull.

I mused...a child sees the unfiltered form (he can't not see it) and invites play, sparking wild imagination followed by tendrils of creativity. Invention of a particular is next and building of a model commences.

At this point, an adult would value the model, purchase it, move in and inhabit the place with a 30 year mortgage, a wife, 3 kids, and a woeful 201k plan. The end result? Constant maintenance, attention to little else, a garage filled with junk, and ultimate decay.

However the child, without a second thought, tears it down and starts all over again - for fun. How many times did we watch our son build a spectacular Lego world over a period of several days, then in two minutes deconstruct it all, sometimes 'vigorously', to start something else? I stand there watching, thinking to myself, "How could you do that after investing so much...?" and he's having the time of his life.

To compress:

see the form and play
imagine create invent
build rinse then repeat

What is it about those last two steps that I resist so much? Why can I so rarely see the obvious, to engage the spiral ladder, like the seasons, circadian rhythm, breathing?

Father, who art in heaven, forgive my spiritual autism.

wv: Throw the dowbags overboard; where we're going we don't need 'em.

1/27/2009 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Starfish:

Your comment is very stimulating. I think it could be very useful for me personally. Thank You.

1/27/2009 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

anonymous said "...even the staunchest materialist is shot through with magical thinking doubts about itself..."

There is nothing more reliant upon superstitious thinking, than the skeptic practicing the method of doubt while excluding the possibility of the doubter; it fundamentally excludes the possibility of any whole, in favor of more and more particularized particulars.

"...Therefore, I would say the materialist is not condemned to spiritless life..."

I can't say anything about our nocturnal frequent flyer miles, but the fact that your thinking revolves around the supernatural, doesn't mean that it is spiritual, it just means that they can't point to the sources of existence beyond the scientifically visible.

The spiritual implies a mystical purpose of uniting through reality with spiritual truth. But a materialists superstitious thought is purposively and adamantly divisive, as its primary end... which, consciously anyway, condemns themselves to a spiritless life... rife with intersections perhaps, but bereft of unions.

1/27/2009 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Robin,

"Why can I so rarely see the obvious, to engage the spiral ladder, like the seasons, circadian rhythm, breathing?"

From where I sit, if you miss the obvious it is only because you are so marvelously observing the subtle. Also, from where I sit you appear to be several loops up the spiral from where you were a couple years ago (and far more than that from where I am right now). I think most of us are; it just often doesn't feel that way from the inside, the progress is so gradual. But that's a good thing, I suspect; if it were enough to be really noticeable, it would probably break us in a bad way...

1/27/2009 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Robin said "I woke up this morning to a mini-epiphany about forms in terms of play, childlike vision, and involved detachment. Aha - so play is the key that opens the toy chest! D'oh!"

I think one of the greatest evils perpetrated through modern philosophers, is that they portray Reason as a sterile exercise in logic chopping. Reason, at root, is the recognition and sustained direction of wOnder.

Maturity enables us to be more systematic and methodical in our usage of Reason, but those who elevate systems and methods over that of wOnder, or attempt violently replacing it with them... well... they have their own ring prepared for them.

1/27/2009 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Robin said "see the form and play
imagine create invent
build rinse then repeat

What is it about those last two steps that I resist so much? Why can I so rarely see the obvious, to engage the spiral ladder, like the seasons, circadian rhythm, breathing? "

'salright, the lego logos has a failsafe swithch built in... delay too long, and it'll commence an auto-reboot.

I know I'm experiencing One of those right now.

;-)

1/27/2009 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

Glow worms metamorphosize into fireflies; lovely little creatures who willing light on a patiently outstretched finger.
I am reminded of days when I'd sit for an hour or more at one of my secret spots and just watch a hillside like a movie. At first you see nothing but the screen, and hear nothing but background noise. In time the actors in the form of lizards, butterflies, deer, and rabbits appear, and the wind and birdsongs harmonize into the soundtrack. Of course the show was playing long before you took your seat, but still it feels like it all just started after you arrived.
So it seems with this business of O. Why does it seem so hard to stay settled in your seat, and stay focused on the program? What's up with the brain, that it keeps interrupting the show for personal agenda announcements?

(By the way, is anyone else missing avatars today? I cant see them anywhere on Blogger)

JWM

1/27/2009 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Yes, well it is winter and there is this gray inversion...but still there is the occasional breakthrough.

1/27/2009 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

"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"

There is space between all things, and if you're small enough, nothing is solid enough to hold you.

1/27/2009 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous A Fellow Raccoon said...

This is off topic, But, it does show that you should not mess with raccoons.


Toothy raccoon bit off manhood
A FEISTY raccoon has bitten off a pervert’s PENIS as he was trying to rape the animal.
Alexander Kirilov, 44, was on a drunken weekend with pals when he leapt on the terrified – but toothy – fur ball.
“When I saw the raccoon I thought I’d have some fun,” he told stunned casualty surgeons in Moscow.
Now Russian plastic surgeons are trying to restore his mangled manhood.
“He’s been told they can get things working again but they can’t sew back on what the raccoon bit off," said a pal.
“That’s gone forever so there isn’t going to be much for them to work with."
http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article2172612.ece

1/27/2009 01:45:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

see the form and play
imagine create invent
build rinse then repeat

What is it about those last two steps that I resist so much?

Robin,
I'm wondering if 'see the form and play' (in your son for example) overflows onto/into 'imagine create invent', which in turn overflowings to engender the 'build'.
Sort of the way those champagne-glass pyramids work, only with a Mobius-strip twist included, thus the 'rinse repeat'.

In the vein of yesterday's
"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."
and today's
"Its oneness overflows everywhere, so that everything is ultimately its witness and testament."

Just musing here.

***********************

Do we need group outfits for that hajj?

wv:bagis

1/27/2009 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

ximeze - I love the champagne glass - Mobius strip image! Maybe Julie can sketch that out for us...

wv: It would be bition.

1/27/2009 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Actually, wv says it should be a stieine.

I'll have to think on that one a bit, let it roll around the ol' noggin. It sounds very Escheresque.

1/27/2009 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Melanie Phillips must-read in the UK Spectator today
The Jews of the gathering night

"Masking the syndrome of self-contempt as a quest for ‘justice,’ these Jewish turncoats seek redemption in a denial of both history and genealogy. Diagnostically speaking, it is not so much a mental illness or clinical aberration we are witnessing, but a sickness in the soul supple enough to contort itself into a spurious idealism, a simulacrum of ideological nobility."

1/27/2009 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Cassandra said...

Van wrote: "Reason, at root, is the recognition and sustained direction of wOnder." I like that very much.

The wOnder must be placed first or reason will be sterile....or even black magical, elevating formulae in the (futile)service of the Self.

Credo ut intelligam. - St. Anselm
I believe in order that I may understand.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

1/27/2009 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous austracoon said...

"Now, the key to spiritual growth is this deepening of our interior,..."

Jos 23:5 And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you.

1/28/2009 04:35:00 AM  

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