Monday, January 05, 2009

On Being a Cosmic Bridge to Gnowhere (1.06.10)

Today's up-and-invOcation:

Human destiny is to hear and respond to God's speech in creation and thus, as the principium in the created universe, to draw all things back to their ultimate source. --Bernard McGinn

Back to our free associations on Self and Spirit. Just remember, these associations are going to be exceptionally free, and you get what you pay for. So don't compare me to all those merely conscious bloggers when you vote today. And tomorrow. And the next day.

Bolton puts forth the perennial idea that mankind is the mediator between God and nature, or creator and creation. Therefore -- this is me talking now -- human beings are surely creatures, but they cannot only be creatures, since we transcend our creaturehood even while being rooted in it. Transcendence is an ineluctable cosmic category that pretty much blows Darwin out of the water. Gosh!

That is, our transcendence of nature would be an inexplicable absurdity, not to mention a bizarre nuisance, if it were not connected to, and explained by, its own source, which is "above" not below. In other words, we cannot begin our metaphysics with human consciousness somehow "hovering over the face of the waters," like God in Genesis. That's just stupid.

You could say that in man there is a union of two natures that produces a third thing.

Now, at this point I am going to ask you to use your imagination, since I don't know how to reproduce the images in the book. Just imagine a triangle, with the base at the bottom and apex at the top. At the top is the divine-human archetype, or the One if you like. This bifurcates into the other two points of the triangle, which are male and female. In turn, the union of male and female produces a fourth thing. Thus, draw another triangle, this one the inverse of the above, with the apex now at the bottom. If you're still with me, God should be at the top and the baby at the bottom.

As I wrote in my book, the neurologically incomplete baby is not just the hinge of cosmic evolution, but the very point of entry for our humanness, the narrow neck through which we must all pass on the way to maturity.

As such, we have a novel way of understanding Bolton's observation that "the fourth element is in a sense a recapitulation of the first on a lower level, which also has some bearing on the meaning of childhood in relation to God." For the baby -- the divine child, as it were -- is indeed a sort of earthly analogue of God, in that he knows no boundaries, is innocent and "omnipotent," and embodies a kind of infinite potential. I don't think it is any coincidence whatsoever that the baby Jesus is so central to Christian iconography.

Another way of considering the same triangle is to place God at the top, only now bifurcating into providence (or destiny) and fate, or perhaps freedom (or chance) and necessity. Once again, place a second triangle below, with man representing the union of fate and providence.

Here again, this encapsulates the irreducible irony, as it were, of the human condition, which makes us simultaneously apes and/or gods, so to speak. How could one not laugh at the predicament? But once again, we see that the man below is an earthly analogue of God above. Man is the "cosmic baby," with all that implies. Like a baby, we are born with a kind of infinite potential (relatively speaking) that we may or may not fulfill. And to fulfill it, we must indeed "imitate the Creator," moron witch later.

Either way, we must somehow reconcile fate and providence. As Petey mentioned yesterday, "the stars incline, but do not compel." However, the Minister of Doctrinal Enforcement immediately stepped in to remind us that they do indeed compel in the absence of insight, or self-understanding. In short, as we discussed at length a couple of weeks ago, fate is precisely what interferes with our destiny. Or, to put it colloquially, if you remain on the path you're on, you're liable to end up where you're headed. Which could very well be a waste of a perfectly good cosmos. So if you see a fork in the transdimensional road, by all means take it.

Now, Bolton makes the interesting observation that Adam and Eve are created on the sixth and final day of creation, after the rest of the creatures (which, when you think about it, is entirely consistent with an evolutionary worldview, only in a higher key). As such, "on this basis, the human being can be taken to be resultant of divine action and the created natural order as a whole." Human beings are last because they are first; or first because they are last.

In any event, the point is that humans, and only humans, recapitulate the whole of creation within their very substance, which you might say is "two creatures" in one being. We are simultaneously fully animal and man, with two distinct wills with which we must grapple and try to reconcile. I forget the words they use, but Jewish metaphysics articulates this very precisely.

Which may well be why Freud came up with the idea of id and superego to talk about the lower and higher selves. "Id" is simply the German word for "it." We are all inhabited by the It, are we not? Usually, a mind parasite is a kind of unholy union of the It and a purloined piece of our subjectivity. Come to think of it, you could draw another triangle on that basis, which is why our mind parasites become the equivalent of "unconscious gods," if you will, or even if you don't.

There you go: Bolton notes that the lower realm (remember, human beings necessarily embody all realms) "represents the life of instinct which attaches to the body, ruled by pleasure and pain, because its higher possibilities depend on its participation in those of the soul." In short, we must baptize the It (or make it kosher, I suppose).

Now, you could say that man was and is a cosmic necessity, in the sense that only he binds the higher and lower. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it: "Unless there was such a being as man, comprising both archetypal and material reality at once, Providence and Fate (or nature) would have no means of relating to one another." Man's primary vocation is therefore "bridge builder," or "universal pontifex," "so long as it is understood that this function is a potentiality in need of realization."

Where does this leave Christ? I know, I know! Pick me!

Yes Dr. Bolton?

"[T]he mediation of Christ as Redeemer is both the prototype of man's cosmic mediation, as well as being the revealed basis of salvation."

It is in the cosmos of natural kinds that the fulness of the Being of the world must needs unfold and manifest itself, and man is the being in which this fulness becomes fulfilled and comes into its own. This is precisely the reason why God's absolute fulness of Being can choose man as the being and the vessel in which to reveal his own inner fulness to the world. --Hans Urs von Balthasar


Voting has begun. Petey is offering a free indulgence for each vote. For a limited time only. Restrictions may apply:

The 2008 Weblog Awards


Anonymous rabbi lars said...

Christ says;

they are never soul

1/05/2009 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Well, just be careful, Petey. I was in the running last year, (which just goes to show you... or something) and in an attempt to verify the voting lock-outs disqualified myself somehow.

Meanwhile, I need an indulgence for the sin of wasted Slack.

1/05/2009 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger jp said...

I'm blaming the entire financial fiasco on the lower realm.

That should make me quite the hit at parties.

Ruled by pleasure and pain. Sounds about right.

1/05/2009 10:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The History Channel has a series this week, 8 p.m. PST I belive, where the "7 deadly sins" are discussed.

This seems germane to the predicament of humans. Riven by fears and desires, somehow these must be overcome in each person in order to make the "bridge" complete.

A desirous, wrathful, or fearful person cannot serve as that bridge of which you speak. And yet, each person is designed to experience these emotions.

It has the makings of a game or the earning of a degree; a goal that must be acheived against opposition by effort of mind or body.

The paridigm of the comsos as an arena for "flow" activities, defined as the striving for a goal against opposition, seems truly fitting.

To win the game, one must completely obliterate fear and desire, yet avoid lassitude and depression in their place.

The winner then serves as the bridge of which you speak. All for the glory of the Coach, the Big Tenured PHD, the Head Cheese, who is also us.

Or not.

1/05/2009 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...


John Chrysostom says that baby is the bridge between two cities, or so to speak. Pontifex indeed! That one rings through the centuries. He even has a similar idea RE: why marriage is only really between a man and woman. To wit, "No union of two humans is deeper."

WV: chriest

Who is?

1/05/2009 12:09:00 PM  
OpenID kaffepaus said...

And I think I just figured out what this "WV" going on in the end of some comments is all about... I'm not stupied you know, just a bit slower because of the time difference and mental jetlag when getting my mind over here all the time...


1/05/2009 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

From big to small to big,

Peering down into
the expounding microverse
it’s peering right back!

(Sorry for the shameless self-promotion, but I'm having way too much fun with this to keep it to myself.)

wv: redikeid? Yep, ready and willing; the jury's out on whether I'm able, but there's only one way to find out...

1/05/2009 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

i voted early
and even voted often
now please indulge me

[wv: blesses] not to push my luck.

1/05/2009 01:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

I think "What Does the Prayer Really Say" must be cheating. 81 votes already!

1/05/2009 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

See, I have a problem with pigeon-holing this blog as "religious" since it is the farthest thing from "religion" (as widely perceived). However, if I can get folks to wade into Sullivan's Sewer and vote for a dastard like Velociman, I don't see why I shouldn't convince all those pikers to go and wade into the Holy Water and vote for One Cosmos.

It's for the children, after all.


wv: piked: better than punk'd?

1/05/2009 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

"Best Cure For Religion Blog." Ho!

1/05/2009 02:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

I can see our "rope-a-Pope" strategy is working perfectly.

1/05/2009 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Don't assume anything until they've counted the Tongan ballots.

1/05/2009 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Dupree mused, "What Does the Prayer Really Say" must be cheating."

Now this: wv gankisto

Perhaps the Weblog Awards are being played by "Chicago Rules"?

Futile though it may be, I voted late. And though the outcome has seemingly been, er, pre-ordained, I will vote (late) again tomorrow.

1/05/2009 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

These two set off a line of coontemplation:
You could say that in man there is a union of two natures that produces a third thing. could say that man was and is a cosmic necessity, in the sense that only he binds the higher and lower.

Over the months, you have often used the metaphor of "man as bridge." In imagining a bridge, I assume it connects two related but un-connected things; that it provides "access" for something, to something.

Horizontally, in terms of a business, there is a saying that if you want to make money, all you need do is to bring a producer and a consumer together. Make like a bridge, and extract a toll for what flows across it.

But vertically, I assume we're talking connecting higher and lower, and that instead of "profit" we are performing "service". Rather than seeking "success," we seek to ascend vertically, i.e. become more unified with the higher. In this case, the "bridge" would, it seems to me, resemble a "conduit."

I used your example of a triangle as a symbol for this. Higher seeks to enter the lower by way of man. But what part? Perhaps his attention -- by his attending to things he may make the connection, and the higher influence can enter the world of material objects, and transform it.

Or say that the Higher entering a man's heart causes him to act differently in the world, thereby transforming it.

Or that by entering a man's life and causing him to act differently, thereby transforming him, moving him higher, purifying his body which allows a growth of soul.

In all those cases there would be the possibility of triangulation, bridging, movement between higher and lower qualities or levels, with a resulting third, that is hopefully an enhancement in terms of quality.

So, thanks for the imagery. Can I take a nap now?

1/05/2009 03:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"das Es," "das Ich," and "das Über-Ich"

I guess I'd point out that Id isn't actually the word for "it," but Freud did use the word "it." It was the translator who changed it.

1/05/2009 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger George Breed said...

You have my vote.

1/05/2009 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Walt said "...Higher seeks to enter the lower by way of man. But what part? Perhaps his attention -- by his attending to things he may make the connection, and the higher influence can enter the world of material objects, and transform it..."

I think you're on the right path there Walt... might even lead to a bridge....

wv:unquisee - the proper methOd of enquiring into the unknown known?

1/05/2009 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

... and darn it, if English was good enough for Freud, it should be good enough for us...

1/05/2009 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

(Banner above the comment bridge)

"Remember: feed a seeker, starve a troll."

Well... it is the time of new years resolutions... ok...

I will not feed the trolls,
I will not feed the trolls,
I will not feed the trolls...

(at least it doesn't say abandon hope all ye who enter here....)

1/05/2009 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Or, to put it colloquially, if you remain on the path you're on, you're liable to end up where you're headed."

Now if that don't cram a ferryboat load full of truism's into a single simple truth....

1/05/2009 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

No comment, just couldn't let the wv go to waste


"I can see our "rope-a-Pope" strategy is working perfectly.", apparently so.

(but what does the prayer really say?

1/05/2009 04:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

That we don't have one?

1/05/2009 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"at least it doesn't say abandon hope all ye who enter here...."

No, but perhaps it should ;)

1/05/2009 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

whinuck: a dergoatory term for Canadians. wv is getting downright rude...

1/05/2009 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"derogatory," that is. I blame the new keyboard.

1/05/2009 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger jp said...

Did Ray get recently get demoted from his postion as scientistic jester?

Or did that happen a long time ago?

wv: ligem

I'm not in the mood to look that up and see if it is a word. Sounds like a word. Looks like a word. I will take wv's word for it.

1/05/2009 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger jp said...

wv: puthings

If I could remember where I puthings, I would be able to find them.

1/05/2009 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Whoa! I just looked through the window of a place called the Word Verification factory - you know, where they make all the wv's. All I saw was a monkey at a keyboard with a name tag that said "Ray In Gles". He was typing furiously, a jester hat lying on the desk beside him. Kind of sad actually.

I won't repeat the wv he just gave me.

1/05/2009 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Don't feel so bad for him -- after four weeks, he just typed out "to be or not to pee."

1/05/2009 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

wv: ploliant:

When you're plotzed, you're pliant.

1/05/2009 06:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

I'll bite. Tell me more.

1/05/2009 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

If I were plotzed, I'd tell you more.

But them I'm using it as an adjective: i.e., 2) so intoxicated as to be unintelligible or incoherent.

I'm not Yiddish. So sue me.


1/05/2009 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Well Bob, the Mackerel Snackers are just better organized, they're up on us by a 10:1 ratio.

Is it wrong to say that it's somehow a comforting fact? We few, we happy few...

wv: suiolot: Off-off Broadway version of Spamalot.

1/05/2009 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A billion of them vs. 223 Raccoons. Not exactly a fair fight.

1/05/2009 07:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

222. LaFayette's Uncle Rico passed last weekend.

1/05/2009 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

22? As many as that?


Feeling a bit crowded... but with Uncle Rico out of the picture, there's a bit more grog to go around now.

1/05/2009 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

222! Blogger erased the first number.

That's my story...

1/05/2009 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

screeeeech!!! slam!

Just got back from every Best Buy, Staples, Starbucks and Circuit City in the tri-state area.
If you feel a disturbance in the field that was me. I think I bent the internet.
Anyway, you’re in, Baby.
Roger out.

wv: porigedu

Brought to you by Goldilocks Quan Doe energy bars…

1/05/2009 07:42:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

>> . . humans, and only humans, recapitulate the whole of creation within their very substance . . <<

Yes, even more so than the angels, as they are of the fire and Spirit realm - and we humans are of the fire, Spirit, and earthly realm. Now that's what I call a responsibility.

According to some mystics, the above is the reason why Lucifer, former major domo of angels, had his hissy fit, the one that permanently toppled him. Who knows if this is true, but the theory again underscores the awe-some potentiality - and responsibility - of us human critters.

1/05/2009 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...


I think the monkey just called me a dirty name. Or he's just ploliant. Maybe both.

You're up to 46 now, Bob, but still down from the Catholics by a 10 to one ratio. I'm gonna laugh if the night finishes at 56. If we can at least get your final vote as a multiple of 7, will something magical happen?

1/05/2009 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, it's not the "quantity" of the number, it's the quality that counts.

1/05/2009 08:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Aquila said...

But to some of us, quantity is quality!

1/05/2009 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I just voted. I was 54, which strangely enough is my age. I think there are some really old people voting for "Prayer".

wv: ingeness

This is getting spooky.

1/05/2009 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

We're doomed. That's all folks, all she wrote. Last one out turn out the lights.

1/05/2009 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Now I'm going to have nightmares.

And I can just hear the Senator from Minnesota saying the wv -- "imstrili".

Indeed you are Stuart.

1/05/2009 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

Dupree is making HUGE "progress"!!

1/06/2009 05:17:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Mushroom, that'll be followed by a thumbsucking repetition of the mantra "people like me..."

1/06/2009 07:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

That was pretty nice of Robert Byrd to loan Franken the diaper....

1/06/2009 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In responce to Will's comment ~ perhaps if one had not thrown a hissy fit of one's own, one may be still but a glint in one's father's eye.

1/06/2009 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Hey, for my indulgence I just want one little thing: for Petey to turn my well water into grog.

I'm not greedy or nothin'.

1/06/2009 06:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Would you settle for a case of Blatz lager?

1/06/2009 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

There you go: Bolton notes that the lower realm (remember, human beings necessarily embody all realms) "represents the life of instinct which attaches to the body, ruled by pleasure and pain, because its higher possibilities depend on its participation in those of the soul." In short, we must baptize the It (or make it kosher, I suppose).

WV: prock Hmmm, fascinating.

That can be quite a pickle sometimes, draggin' the Its to the river. Of course, afterwards, or should I say, after each afterwords, the pickles are indeed kosher.
What a dill!

1/06/2009 06:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Sold, Petey!
That's a high end brand right there.

1/06/2009 06:59:00 PM  

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