Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I Created the Cosmos! (3.02.10)

DeKoninck -- who obviously knew what it meant to inhabit a right side-up cosmos -- wrote that "It is only in human understanding that the cosmos becomes a universe in the full sense." In other words, the "end" of the causal chain cannot be found in the endless horizontal iterations of abstract matter, but in our concrete vertical understanding. Which is another way of saying in truth, specifically, the truth of being.

In this regard, it is critical to bear in mind that "God does not act" -- or only act -- "on things, but from within" them. Thus, it is as if God comes to his own fruition, so to speak, in the uncreated light of our interior understanding (or in love or virtue, but that is a subject for a slightly different post). Therefore, "Creation is essentially a communication," a communication of being.

In fact, to turn it around, it would not be possible for God -- since it would contradict the divine nature -- to "create a cosmos which was not essentially ordered to an intra-cosmic intelligence." In other words, God could no more create an unintelligible universe than an evil or ugly one.

So when we see that being itself is overflowing with truth and beauty, we should not be surprised. Awed, but not surprised. The really strange thing, as Aquinas observed, is that "the perfection of the entire universe can exist in one of its parts." That would be us. "For this reason, philosophers have held that the ultimate perfection to which the soul can attain consists in embracing the whole order of the universe and its causes."

In my book, for reasons that should be apparent, I use the pneumaticon ʘ to symbolize this state of the soul in its relation to the totality of O, or of human part to divine whole.

O is not just source but end; ontologically speaking, it is both alpha and omega. But this is to be expected, since the "ultimate cause" must also be the "ultimate end." Thus, the Poet is not really being poetical but quite literal when he talks about the end preceding the beginning, and how both are "always there," for these are things that must be. It is the Law. Some poets are indeed the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

Meaning, interior, wholeness, unity -- these are all interconnected aspects of the same prior reality. It should be a banality to point out that the cosmos can have no meaning unless there is an interior where it can be apprehended. Nor can there be meaning in the absence of unity and wholeness, for meaning essentially consists of the reduction of multiplicity to unity -- or the apprehension of the hidden unity behind or above the veil of appearances.

Now, if there is an "ultimate meaning," there must be an "ultimate interior," so to speak. Or, to turn it around, to say that the ultimate meaning could be found in empiricism or profane reason -- i.e., matter or mechanical thought -- is not only to say that there is no meaning, but to abolish the very ground and possibility of meaning. Here is how DeKoninck describes it:

"In order for the world to have a raison d'être, in order for it to be profoundly one and a universe, it is not enough that it be composed of parts and that these parts physically constitute a whole; it is also necessary that all the individual parts be oriented toward that one in which all together can exist, that each of the principal parts of the universe should be the entire whole, that each of these universes be in some fashion all the others."

In other words, the universe must be both interobjective and intersubjective, with both properties emanating from the a priori wholeness and interior unity of O, the origin, the one, the OMega. In short, the cosmos must fundamentally be a place in which everything preserves its "partness," even while each part participates in (not just with) all the others.

In otherother words, the universe, since it is one, is an internally related totality -- which is why we all intuitively apprehend the unity of being, from which the truth (not to mention, goodness and beauty) of being radiates, both from subjects and from objects.

For the truth "flows" from objects into subjects, even while the object completes itself in the knowing subject. Without objects there is nothing to be known, and without subjects there is no way to know it. But in the end, both flow from the same prior unity, i.e, Truth as such.

It is not so much that "being is transcendentally accessible to intelligence" (DeKoninck). Rather, that is only half the story, for if that is the case -- which it is -- then it must mean that being and truth are one -- or at least not two. After their little game of hide and seek, or bride and seeker, they return to themselves and embrace in the one fleshlight of the divine-human subject.

Being is "good," for, among other reasons, it is open to intelligence, to which it gives of itself without reserve. There is indeed a kind of divine marriage, or sacred bond, between being and intellect, as the two become united in one flesh. As this marriage matures, we can see in the cosmos "a tendency toward the thought in which all its parts are united and lived; the cosmos thus tends to compenetrate itself, to touch itself in the intelligence of man, in which it can realize this explicit return to its First Principle."

Why yes,

The molten infinite pours forth a blazen torrent of incandescent finitude, as light plunges an undying fire into its own shadow (oops! a dirty world) and f-aa-lll-lllllll-ssssssssssss like 1-2-3-7-12 in love with the productions of time, hurtling higgledy-piggledy into jivass godlings & samskara monsters all the way down.

You might say that the emancipating journey from cosmic infancy to metacosmic maturity begins in an inside-out universe of "pure exteriority. The world was so to say entirely outside, separated from itself, imprisoned in itself and its own obscurity" (DeKoninck).

You know -- for it is written in the New Testavus -- pure emptiness, a formless void without mind or life, a shadow spinning before the beginning over a silent static sea, unlit altar of eternity, fathomless vortex of the Infinite Zero.

In this murky state of affairs, the world "is dead, empty, an abyss of division." And yet, here we are, like mushrooms that have sprouted in the darkness of cosmic night. For "intelligence must appear. This demand is written in it from the beginning.... it is necessary that the universe fall back in a certain way on itself, and that it close in on itself, that it interiorize, and it is just this interiorization that will permit it to open onto itself."

In other words, it is only our understanding of the cosmos that makes it possible. For if we couldn't understand it, surely we wouldn't be here. The ultimate cause of the cosmos is its truth, a truth we may know and renew in the timeless ground of the intellect. So when I say that "I caused the universe," I am not really making any special claim for myself. Now and again I do it all the timeless.


Gerard said...

Now I know who to blame. Thanks.

Gagdad Bob said...

It was the best I could do at the timelessness with the immaterials at hand.

Gagdad Bob said...

Without hands, ma. And no ma, either.

Robin Starfish said...

Big Bang on.

walt said...

Okay, no one's jumping on this, so I'll kick in 2 cents worth.

First impression was "What else needs to be said?" When you dig into the cosmos so deeply that you're scratching souls, beginnings and endings, what can be added?

You created the Cosmos? "Me too!"

Two quotes:
"For this reason, philosophers have held that the ultimate perfection to which the soul can attain consists in embracing the whole order of the universe and its causes."

You were quoting Aquinas there. I've encountered very nearly those words in expressions of Taoism. Interesting that as the higher vertical is expressed, there are fewer nits to pick.

Without objects there is nothing to be known, and without subjects there is no way to know it.

Again, Taoist (Chuangtzu):
"...Music from empty holes, mushrooms springing up in dampness, day and night replacing each other before us ... Morning and evening we have them, and they are the means by which we live. Without them we would not exist; without us they would have nothing to take hold of. This comes close to the matter."

will said...

>>The really strange thing, as Aquinas observed, is that "the perfection of the entire universe can exist in one of its parts." That would be us. <<

Heaven in a blade of grass. I think the corollary here is that we can attain toward and achieve heaven (or hell) while never leaving the block we live on.

Part of our soul-sick modern ethos seems to emphasize the desirability of sheer *experience*; it prizes a veritable lust for material experience. We can see this in film, music, commercials, etc. - you haven't really lived unless you've scaled the Eiffel Tower, dog-paddled in the Ganges (in which case get inoculated in the extreme), bungee-jumped off a bridge, and (of course) had multiple sexual partners, and so forth.

In short, modern ethos trumpets the virtue of *restlessness*, which I think is a working definition of hell. The degree to which we are restless is equal to the degree to which we are separate from God and the holy virtues. I'd bet a defining characteristic of the narcissistic personality is restlessness.

julie said...

...the perfection of the entire universe can exist in one of its parts.

Gagdad Bob said...

This is kind of weird, but I couldn't find a way to work it into the post.

Last night I had a dream in which I went to a hamburger joint and ordered two burgers. I gave the guy a twenty, and he handed me back $7.75 in change. I said "are you sure that's the right change? I only ordered two hamburgers." The guy then points to the sign that says $5.67 for a hamburger with everything on it.

Out of curiosity, when I woke up in the morning, I got out my calculator to see if I got ripped off. 5.67 and 5.67 = $11.34. Add 8% CA sales tax, that's 91 cents. $11.34 + 91 = 12.25.

$7.75 in change. My dreamer got it exactly right.

walt said...

I'd never thought of you as the calculating type!

will said...

Hmm, $12.25 or just plain 12.25 - that would be December 25th.

On the same dream topic, the other night I had a dream in which I was walking the FLA coast, casting glances out to sea. Great ships, tankers, galleons, were on the horizon, resonating in my dream like mythological beasts, mysterium tremendum-like, symbols unto themselves.

In the dream I thought: whew, the sea is an unfathomable thing, albeit with fathoms, drawing me in even as it frightened me. I thought: and what if it became turbulent? And so it did in the dream, a darkness rising over the waters. And I thought: what of those who are out there in small craft and unprepared?

I think the meaning is pretty apparent.

Then I awake, turn on the tube and see a report of 4 guys on a fishing vessel gone missing off the FLA coast. From the microcosm to the macrocosm and back again.

julie said...

That's funny - I wouldn't have thought to add the sales tax.

The real question is, what do the two hamburgers with everything on them represent? Apparently, the price is right...

wv says it's so you can rechow.

Anonymous said...

Clearly your dream was about sales tax.

sehoy said...


I tore up my basement trying to locate my copy of Karl Stern's "Pillar of Fire." I think I remember him saying something about wanderlust and the pathology of it in some people, especially the Germans. I wrote down the quote somewhere a few years back, but now cannot find it.

Here is what I found doing a quick search on the internet though! Very timely.

See also Karl Stern, The Pillar of Fire (Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1959, first published by Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1951). The author predicts that “once marxism is finished” humanity is “in for a global experiment” that he calls “rationalist pragmatism” or “scientism,” which, he says, will be “the one form of society which is worse than the Marxist and the Fascist one.” The eminent scientist and psychologist writes: “Compared with [this 'scientific-technological' society], [Nazi] Germany and [Communist] Russia would look like children’s playgrounds. Man’s life on this earth would come about as close to the idea of hell as anything on this earth may [...] This, not material destruction,would mean the end of Mankind” (p. 262).

mushroom said...

Some poets are indeed the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

Thank God!

After their little game of hide and seek, or bride and seeker, they return to themselves and embrace in the one fleshlight of the divine-human subject.

And Adam said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woohoo-man! because she was taken out of man."

Earlier today I was listening to Dylan's Slow Train Coming which includes the song "Man Gave Names to All the Animals". Naming and creating are closely related.

will said...

ahoy, Sehoy -

I think Stern's vision of a scientism hell on earth pretty much equates with Rudolf Steiner's version of an Ahrimanic earthly domination, the domination of an utterly dull, gray, yet ultimately deadly materialism.

I think the un-quality of restlessness also informs scientism to a degree - that is, in insatiable, consequences-be-damned scientific curiosity. You know, the kind of curiosity that led to the splitting of the atom and now is leading the way to something potentially even more dangerous: genetic manipulation. In my view, this amounts to a tearing apart of the fabric of life, of the universe, which is a reversal of the divine process of
cohesion - a return to the primal fire.

will said...

Re: restlessness -

This seems to be the focus of a lot of country/folk music, eg., "I've Been Everywhere", "White Line Fever", and many many others. However - it seems to me that this kind of "restlessness" is not so much a quest for new sensation, new thrills as it is often marked by a tone of weariness and a yearning for a resting place, a homeland in the skies.

It occurs to me that this is not so much restlessness as sense of divine exile - the archetypal "wandering Jew" who can never find a true home on earth absent the Parousia.

It should be pointed out that country/folk music equally focuses on the beauty, ideally so to the point of divine abstraction, of hearth and home.

julie said...

(Trying that again. PIMF. Brain still on hiatus. wv says it's hazedo. Yep, sounds about right)

Will, I was thinking along those lines about restlessness, too. Like so many things, there's a difference between horizontally and vertically oriented restlessness. The horizontal kind can and will spread out ad infinitum, but absent a center it can never be sated, and even if the seeker stops to rest, they will find they've gotten precisely nowhere. There can't be any progress without some means of orientation, there's merely movement. The vertical kind of restlessness only seems insatiable at times, but at least there's a true goal insight.

will said...

Julie -

>>The vertical kind of restlessness only seems insatiable at times, but at least there's a true goal insight<<

Like, agreed! I heard somebody once say that the spiritual road is a series of surrendering of lusts. The last lust to be surrendered is the lust for God.

maineman said...

The dreams, the post, and the talk of restlessness all tie together for me. I have been wrestling with alternating astonishment, rage, fear, and grief as I watch the dark shadow creep across the country, and now the globe.

Country music's wanderlust seems likely to be tied to the Westward movement of the 19th and 20th centuries, and maybe it got more prevalent as alienation set in. I think Appalachian and Bluegrass might have been more about home and hearth and family and God.

Anyway, it occurs to me that now there is nowhere else to go -- no more cheap burgers, no more tax holidays, nowhere that the government won't be able to control the exterior of our lives. Maybe we'll need to fight to reestablish freedom someday. But I wonder if the only way out, for now at least, and maybe forevermore, is to go inward. I suppose that would mean within ourselves, within our families, within our churches, within our communities. Unless we do that, it seems to me, we'll be adrift like the boats in Will's dream.

So I found today's post comforting in the sense that, for me, it points to a way in-and-out, to bring it all back to burgers.

NoMo said...

A word to the restless...

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

That is how you create the cosmos.

wv:rewaysin (wv's gettin' it!)

jwm said...

Restlessness and dreams- well- I've had both as of late. I had a lucid dream the other night- a dream as vivid as wakefulness with the odd feature of being aware that I was in a dream- I was watching myself dream the dream so to speak. Walking through a giant corrugated metal building- a warehouse, or junk storage shed. I was barefoot, and the floor was soft with rotting material. I was going up hill past some slovenly dirt huts, until I reached the corner of the building. And I knew I was in a dream, and I was being cautious because I knew how often these kinds of dreams turn into (literal) screaming nightmares. And I climbed up shelves and tool racks, and bolts put into the wall to hang tools from. I climbed until I reached the ceiling- fifty, sixty feet up. This is a situation that I often have in nightmares- being in a very high place with only the most precarious footing. But it didn't turn nightmare. There were gas meters hanging from the ceiling. I took one and dropped it to watch it shatter. Then I dropped another. I realized it was a bad idea because I was barefoot. But I just climbed down and walked through the rotten material on my way out. Charlie was there, getting stoned on some black tarry fluid that made him stagger around convulsively, shaking, and unable to talk. Then I did awaken. Charlie died back in 01, or 02.

Damn. Right now I just got off the night shift, and I'm tired as hell, and- whatever possessed me to write this one down? I had other stuff I wanted to say. This just came out.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Happy March Forth everyone! :^)

Gotta run to the VA...scratch that, gotta drive to the VA for a fun-filled morning of blood letting and then swing by the commissary at FT. Louis. But I'll be thinking of all of y'all as I eagerly await the March Forth festivities.

Skully said...

Thanks Bob, for creating the Cosmos. 'Cause without the cosmos there wouldn't be grog or beer and that would really be a bummer.

Anonymous said...

Bob - you may be interested in the Mathematics Association of America regional meeting in Thousand Oaks in two weeks. There will speakers on beauty and origami - two bits in the mentation-sensation puzzle. Here is the website:
http://www.csulb.edu/~fnewberg/SCNMAA/Meeting2009Spring.html - Bob Butler