Wednesday, February 18, 2009

His Master's Voice (9.24.12)

Still feeling slightly discoonb'obulated with the manflu. I am, however, full of ideas -- or, an idea, to be precise -- except that the idea is not yet fully half-baked, and therefore not ready for posting. It first needs to be put away and composted in the darklight of the over & underconscious mind. It's difficult for me to blog about anything other than what's not on my mind at the moment, but I shall try, or at least give up.

A question: do kaliblind atheists have a point when they say that there is no evidence of God, and that if there were such evidence, then they would be believers? By "evidence," they usually mean something along the lines of magic. That is, they want to see something that is utterly inexplicable and defies all logic and reason -- you know, pink fairies under the bed. A miracle.

Let's look at it from God's point of view. Does he want to be known? Does he want people to know of his existence? So we have heard from the wise. But how does one reveal evidence of a person, especially if that person abides in a higher dimension, so to speak?

For example, how could I prove to my dog that I as a person exist? It's not as easy as it sounds, because dogs only experience you in dog categories. They might see you as the alpha dog, and respond accordingly. But they can't really conceive of your interior personhood. It is a dimension they cannot enter. I suppose they can apprehend some of its "energies," but never its essence, to throw a bone to one of man's best palamas.

Balthasar asks, "How, then, can we speak of the 'form of Christ' when most things about him -- the essential: his divinity and all the mysteries connected with it -- remain hidden and unfathomable in their internal depths of meaning?"

He responds that "We must begin by replying that the first and pre-eminent intention of the self-revealing God is, precisely, really to reveal himself, really to become comprehensible to the world as far as possible." In other words, we have to assume that God really is "putting himself out there," and that, for whatever reason, this is how he feels the climb can best be accompliced.

Again, we have to put ourselves in the position of a dog trying to understand our master. A lot of what the master does is going to be incomprehensible to us, even though that is never the point. Likewise, if God's intention "were to make those who believe in him assent to a number of impenetrable truths, this would surely be unworthy of God and it would contradict the very concept of revelation" (Balthasar). In other words, we can't really call it "revelation" if it doesn't reveal something of God's interior, something we are capable of fathoming.

However, at the same time, we cannot pretend that we could ever fully comprehend God, any more than we could ever comprehend even another human being. Thus, "a necessary part of this manifestation is his eternal incomprehensibility."

But here again, this "incomprehensibility" is by no means synonymous with "ignorance." Rather, it is to apprehend the divine from within the mode of mystery; as such, it is more like a direct transmission of the myster-er to the myster-ee, or contained (♂) to container (♀).

I'm sure you're all well aware of this feeling. We call it (≈). One of our tasks is to "amplify" (≈), which is hardly to increase our ignorance, but to sensitize our receptor, or (¶), so as to transduce (≈) into (n). Thus, as Balthasar observes, this paradoxical communication is not "a negative determination of what one does not know, but rather a positive and almost 'seen' and understood property of him whom one knows."

And once you begin to familiarize yourself with this property, you begin to realize that it is an enduring characteristic of the "divine object," similar to the familiar "vibe" one gets in the presence of anyone. You know what I mean. Someone once said that you can really understand how you feel about someone if you pay attention to the feeling you have when you receive a letter addressed from them. It's like that. Communiques from God will carry that familiar vibe. But only if you pay attention to the return address.

The same holds for a great artist. The totality of an artist's work will transmit a sort of consistent vibration. It reminds me of the book This is Your Brain on Music, in which the author pointed out that every great rock artist has a certain distinct and unique timbre that lets you know in an instant that you are listening to them and no one else.

Think about it for a moment. The Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, Beach Boys, Byrds, Zombies, Animals, Creedence, Roy Orbison, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin -- each has a quite distinct "sound signature" that exists over and above the music itself. You know it's them from the first note.

In fact, one of the problems with modern recording technologies is the homogenization of sound, so that most contemporary music sounds rather bland and uniform. Few artists have that unique and inimitable sound signature anymore. To the contrary, radio stations actually want to have a kind of uniform vibe from artist to artist, so that when you tune into the station you know it's them. In other words, the timbre is no longer in the music, but the station.

And it's not just rock. For example, the timbres of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, and Patsy Cline are all quite distinct. But if you played them on a contemporary country music station, they would all sound quite out of place.

Now that I'm thinking about it, the Christian timbre is quite distinct from the Jewish, Hindu, or Buddhist timbre. Here again, this timbre exists apart from any specific content. Balthasar observes that God "has offered himself to the gaze of mankind from every possible angle, and this gesture of self-disclosure... was part of his fundamental mission to manifest and explain God to man."

The musical timbre alluded to above is more than the sum of the parts. This is why, for example, after the Beatles broke up, none of the individuals ever sounded like the totality. A Paul McCartney solo album sounds nothing like the Beatles, to put it charitably -- for the same reason that Joel Osteen sounds nothing like Thomas Aquinas.

In other words, the "form" of God is a kind of totality that cannot be understood outside the fullness of the revelation. Thus, within the perception of revelation "we can distinguish two elements which belong together: the apprehension of a wholly unique quality, to be ascribed particularly to the supernatural origin of the light of faith, and the apprehension of an interior rightness (which is precisely where this quality of uniqueness proves and manifests itself), that is, of the objective, demonstrable beauty of all proportions.... One aspect of the form always points to and supports the others."

And this is why it is perverse for us to mix revelations "from below." One can hardly imagine the monstrosity of, say, Pink Floyd performing Twist and Shout, or the Beach Boys singing Communication Breakdown, or Led Zeppelin doing Yellow Submarine. It might sound something like this:

22 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

If I judge this post by how I felt when I received it, then it must be pretty good! Too bad it was over so soon!

You wind up mentioning "...the supernatural origin of the light of faith, and the apprehension of an interior rightness..."
Yes, I'd say that comes close to the matter!

Balthasar asks, "How, then, can we speak of the 'form of Christ' when most things about him -- the essential: his divinity and all the mysteries connected with it -- remain hidden and unfathomable in their internal depths of meaning?"
Even though you provide the answer(s), I think that's a good Question to carry within and before us, er, for a long while.

One of our tasks is to "amplify" (≈), which is hardly to increase our ignorance, but to sensitize our receptor, or (¶), so as to transduce (≈) into (n).
Another alchemical formulation that boils down the much!

...it is more like apprehending the divine from within the mode of mystery...
So it seems to me. The effect is to make me uninclined to talk about it -- though I'm glad others do!

...every great rock artist has a certain distinct and unique timbre...
Timber and "sound" strike me as more crucial than content. As one of your frenzied fans, may I say I dig the timbre of One Cosmos?

2/18/2009 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

:D
Those doo-be-doo-be-doos at the beginning are, um... otherworldly. Perverse, yes, but hilarious in small doses, and I can't help but applaud her for putting herself out there (and presumably managing to take her singing both very seriously and very unseriously). I think the whistle at the end really ties it all together in a nice little package.

***

Timbre is one of my favorite words; it isn't used nearly often enough and I love how you've unsaturated it a little more.

***

...the familiar "vibe" one gets in the presence of anyone.

I find it endlessly fascinating how instantaneous the reaction can be. Last week when I went to my exercise class, there was a group of women there who were new to me, just hanging out and talking. Instant, total loathing; it was like an allergic reaction. I spent the class observing myself, trying to figure out why the visceral reaction and whether it was even a remotely fair assessment, but since I didn't try talking to any of them I really don't know. Most people I'm fairly neutral towards, and a rare few make me light up like a Christmas tree.

Communiques from God will carry that familiar vibe. But only if you pay attention to the return address.

Indeed; once you've picked up on it, it's unmistakable, and just as real as our reactions to other people, even if we don't quite understand. That's why yesterday's anonymous atheist was so funny; it's so far beyond an argument of complexity or of believing in a big man in the sky; once you know, you know, and to fall back into ignorance seems almost inconceivable.

2/18/2009 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

One of our tasks is to "amplify" (≈), which is hardly to increase our ignorance, but to sensitize our receptor, or (¶), so as to transduce (≈) into (n).

Digital photography suffers from the same lack, in that even the best sensors can record only a limited range of the visual spectrum at one time. So some clever types came up with HDR - high dynamic range imaging, in which several bracketed exposures (none of which are "correct") are stacked, then "tone mapped", processed, and filtered until the full bandwidth is visible. The results, in the hands of a master,can reveal the wonder that surrounds us everywhere all the time. In the hands of a hack, the vulgar and garish results are hellish. It's a fine line.

So when Balthasar says "...the first and pre-eminent intention of the self-revealing God is, precisely, really to reveal himself, really to become comprehensible to the world as far as possible", it's our job to provide our receptor with multiple 'exposures' from pure black to pure white (0 to 255), then tone map, process, and filter until the image comes alive. It is this work that enables one to 'see beyond' the limits. Balthasar's seven volumes are HDR training, it seems to me.

wv: sally - long tall mustangs sneakin' through the alley

2/18/2009 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

By "evidence," they usually mean something along the lines of magic. That is, they want to see something that is utterly inexplicable and defies all logic and reason -- you know, pink fairies under the bed. A miracle.

The sweet irony here is that during my darker days I demanded magic. It was something I wanted to wield and control. But it was nowhere to be found. Now that I've given up on all that I found more magic then I knew was possible. I've heard the Timbre of God. It's one of the few things I can trust. Great Post!

2/18/2009 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous bob f. said...

Those who claim to want a magical mystery tour as if it would convince them of His Existence are mostly kidding themselves. Miracles are commonplace, but they are ignored or dismissed out of hand by people who already "know" that miracles cannot be.
I do like the idea of being God's dogs; some of us are housebroken & fed on scaps from the Master's table; some are feral and some rabid.

2/18/2009 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There is a rabbinical saying to the effect that God works his magic primarily through meetings and marriages, which is true. That being the case, how would you know it if you reject it up front?

2/18/2009 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Meetings and marriages actually makes a lot of sense, in an "as above, so below" kind of way, considering how often the soul's relationship with God is described in terms of meeting and marrying. Pertaining to yesterday's post (saints as small "g" gods), wasn't there something about Schuon and horizontal spouses, too?

2/18/2009 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Hm. I appear to have put out a conversation stopper. I hate when that happens.

Well, speaking of art, if anybody who doesn't usually stop by is interested, I've been working on a new project this week. Scroll down if you want to see the process :)

2/18/2009 03:25:00 PM  
Anonymous pointer finger said...

Off topic, but via Big Hollywood, we're a nation of cowards...

...because we don't talk about race enough.

If I had known the big O would be in town today, I might have gone to the protest and held up a sign demanding reparations.

2/18/2009 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

I worked today, and I am absolutely beat. To boot, the most abrasive, and annouing woman on planet earth is going to be here shortly, and I'm going to have to put up with her grating presence for a couple of hours while she waits for her ride back to Cthulu's lair where she will proceed to annoy the monster as punishment for his transgressions.
Snarky comment aside.
There is one giy in the district with whon I frequently share on matters of the spirit. Luckily we got to spend a good ten or fifteen minutes talking today. We got on the subject of Holy Spirit. He used a term that I have heard from evangelicals, and irritatingly enough I can't recall it right now, but it was something to the effect of dying to the spirit.
I'm pertty sure it referred to experiencing an abrupt download of head knowledge into heart knowledge. Know-> Gno so to speak. I don't really desire that sort of lightning bolt epiphany. I can see it percolating down in me slowly, and at times I can catch a look at how it has changed me. It has been a gradual process.
The image that came to light in our conversation though was one of broadcast frequencies. It's like a transmitter that sends out the signal in an infinite number of channels, because every one's individual tuner responds to different frequencies.
Some receptors tune in on the hellfire and brimstone channel, and that bandwidth is what is right for that receiver. For others it is the middle frequencies of the established protestant churches like the Methodists, or the Presbyterians, and so forth. Others respond to the rarefied broadcast of the Roman Catholic, or the Eastern Orthodox, and some need to keep the dial midway between stations for their tuner to get the signal
The spirit wends where it will.
Ang God revealing himself is rife with dilemma. I mean, suppose God decided to make his presence abundantly clear at all times to everyone. A giant face in the sky, for example. Or a voice in a cave that dispensed wisdom and advise on request. The evidence would be incontrovertable, but it woud seriously compromose any hope of free will. But obviously, If we are to believe the Bible, God did reveal himself to the ancient Israelites. Think of the passages in Exodus describing the building of the tabernacle, and the glory of the lord appearing on the ark of the covenant. Something was going on there that is vastly different that anything anyone now experiences in church or synagog. Same with the resurrection.
What was it? We'll never know. I surmise that while God couldn't hang out a neon "OPEN" sign. He had to deliver the experience to a select group, and let them bear witness to it, which gives the rest of us the opportunity to believe that the accounts are true, and the freedom to doubt, ot even reject if we so choose. But it leaves the element of choice- free will in other words entirely in our hands. Without it we'd be constrained to our niche in the same way as the beasts and birds.

JWM

2/18/2009 05:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

God is three-in-one and one-in-three. People tend to forget that, and give the Holy Spirit short shrift. But in truth, she is every bit as much God as the Father and Son. So here's a Raccoon tip o' the cap to (↓).

2/18/2009 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

JWM:

Perhaps because individuality did not emerge until late in history, early revelations could be given collectively. Now it is as if revelation must be tailored to the individual.

It is similar to the problem of trying to coach a modern day professional team. X's and O's are the easy part. The hard part is managing all the giant egos.

2/18/2009 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

JWM,
You went to visit Old John, then. I was looking forward to hearing more of him too.

2/18/2009 06:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GB-

I want to to thank you for not only all the great posts but introducing me to the inimitable Mrs. Miller.

I laughed so hard I near completely forgot myself. Today I really needed it...a great gift she has!

Thanks!

2/18/2009 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ho! The Offical Website of the Elva Miller Historical Society and Mrs. Miller Fan Club.

2/18/2009 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If you can't get enough Mrs. Miller, try sampling some of these.

2/18/2009 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Rather, it is to apprehend the divine from within the mode of mystery; as such, it is more like a direct transmission of the myster-er to the myster-ee, or contained (♂) to container (♀).

I like to think of it as a kind of shortwave ayeam Waydio. If I'm not gettin' any reception, it means I didn't plug it in (that or I'm too busy speakin' into my myc and not listenin' to my Godsaidset).

2/19/2009 01:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

I'm in Ankara, Turkey right now (lobby of the Ankara Hilton). Spent the afternoon at the Museum of Antolian Civilization. Still digesting from a coon perspective -- will report back in a bit.

Just had to write something, even if it is only this.

2/19/2009 06:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

One thing I can relay about the Turks -- this country provides an ideal model for Iraq. Turkey manages to (seemingly) effortlessly blend European personal freedom with a co-existing Muslim vibe.

Downtown Ankara could be Munich. But there is a certain recitude that we've lost sight of. Mosques are everywhere, but not oppressive. Alcohol is served freely, and if you really want it, there is a porn channel (sheerly by accideny -- I actually deplore porn).

There is a certain melancholy in turkey. A sense that life must weigh heavy. Yet a prominent statue in the middle of the financial district is of an antlered deer, dating from the twilight of the paleolitihic, shading into the neolithic. These (iron, copper (evntually bronze) representations suffuse the culture -- there are "roots" the likes of which Americans are wholly unfamilamiliar -- except at second hand.

2/19/2009 07:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

And no, I'm not running a ponzi scheme, nor have I in the past.

2/19/2009 07:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

I'm an amateur at everything, including life itself (could not be a coon otherwise).

My amateur reaction to this one museum (voted best in the world in 1997) is still washing over me.

Unlike the British Museum, the museum in Turkey is direct, in your face, with a minimum of commentary. The exhibits are chosen from thousands -- each one pounds hard on the coon skull -- this was a fully human ROOM (yes, they have that) ca. 8,000 bc.

2/19/2009 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

How can I connect with Bob's post?

1. He pretty much tends to cover it

2. Riff. Even if disconnected.

3. Riff, and Bob or another will pick it up.

Coons, I urge you to spend time in a 10,000 year old culture. Even though the Turks invaded and conquered in the 1200's, their sen

2/19/2009 08:07:00 AM  

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