Monday, March 23, 2009

Love and Knowledge at the Leading Edge of the Cosmos

We're still dwelling in the space between subjects and objects, without which truth would be in-conceivable, since this transitional space is the womb where the truth of spirit and spirit of truth are nurtured and given birth herebelow in the fertile egghead. (New reader(s) will have to go back to Friday's post in order to see where we left off, specifically, the part about trees and the qualities without which they are not trees -- qualities that can only reveal themselves in a human subject.)

It is not as if the world consists simply of objects that impress themselves upon subjects, like a seal in hot wax. That is too "bipolar" and ultimately static, and places too much emphasis on the object side of things. For if this were the case, then the subject would reduce to the object, even while providing no reason why this mirrorculous subject should inhere in here at all.

Not only that, but as we have mentioned before, the fact that the object has qualities waiting to be "unpacked" by subjects means that there is already an implicit subject in the object. Objects "speak" their qualities to subjects, but not all at once. Rather, it is literally a kind of endlessly recursive con-versation ("flowing-togther"), for in the final analysis we cannot fully know the essence of so much as a gnat.

Truly, we cannot "contain" a single object -- again, thank God! For if we could, the mystery of being would be nullified, and we would live in a brightly lit hell, which is the end result of the naive demystification of scientism.

"In reality, the objects of this world need the subject's space in order to be themselves" (Balthasar). It reminds me of how it is only human convention that separates the bee and the flower, when they are so interior to each other that the one could not exist in the absence of the other. Each is an "external organ" of the other, so to speak.

As Balthasar explains, the object "needs the sensorium as a space in which to unfurl itself. It unveils its color within an eye that sees color; it whispers only in an ear that hears sound; it presents its unique flavor only in the mouth of another capable of tasting. It makes use of the space furnished for this purpose just as surely as it makes use of the soil and the ambient air in order to develop." "[S]ubject and object expand within each other, thus helping each other in a common discovery of truth."

Wind that speaks to the leaves / telling stories that no one believes / Stories of love / belong to you and me --Antonio Carlos Jobim, Dindi

Just so, human beings are irreducibly intersubjective. Take away the Other -- and the love in between -- and no I comes into being. As we will later discuss, this goes to the very heart of the eternal dynamism of the Trinity, as it manifests its image or echo in the herebelow.

There are many fruitful ways to think about this, but I-magine the intra-trinitarian life as a kind of perpetual giving birth to its own Other (the Son), who is actually none other than itself. The Father bears witness to the Son and the Son bears witness to the Father in the love that flows between them -- which is also why love is prior to knowledge. There is no is that can be reduced to anything less, i.e., to any kind of static, loveless monism or narcissistic dualism. In other words, we are intrinsically trinitarian because God is. (I probably just said something heretical, but don't worry, I'm sure I can fix it later.)

Or again, think of a smiling face, which we can only artificially separate from the joyful interior state it radiates to the world: "A smiling face is not simply a dull reflection of inner joy but rather its embodiment, its communication, its formation, its liberation."

I will never forget the first time my baby smiled at me, for it was a communication of a kind of infinite joy that crashed through to my deepest essence. So, was it about him, or about me? As I have said before, we raise our children, but not nearly as high as they raise us! Only now do I realize that my parents got a much bigger kick out of me than I ever will. People who cannot get over themselves, or who are joylessly ambitious, are in a way forever trying to look at themselves through the eyes of their adoring parents, instead of looking outward and adoring something or someone else.

In this regard, it is almost impossible to exaggerate the damage done to the soul by the assimilation of crude materialism, for it is ultimately the very death of the soul. The soul is "all it knows," and in materialism, the soul not only knows nothing (by definition) but is violently uprooted from the creation.

Don't let this happen to you! Our recent trolls stand as living witnesses to what happens to a person who is biologically alive while remaining spiritually dead. Intrinsic falsehood, intrinsic amorality, intrinsic ugliness, and intrinsic violence -- a kind or rooted rootlessness, which also results in their absence of coherence or consistency. Zombies.

From a God's-eye view, mankind is more like a single entity in both space and time -- like a single "substance" that is stretched through history to serially reveal its inexhaustible essence in the play of forms. This is how, for example, we are able to be "one" with great souls who preceded us, because there is a non-local interconnectivity within this temporal substance, just as there is within space. Someday this will be obvious to more people, instead of only being so at the leading edge of that stretchy cosmic substance.

Again, think of truth as a "joint operation of subject and object," not a property inhering only in one or the other. There is no "discovery" that isn't simultaneously an "unveiling of the object" in the space between them. A human being who is not ushered into this transitional space is not really human at all; again, he will be either a kind of autistic "object," or else a new-age narcissist who imagines he creates reality -- or that reality is a kind of magical projection of the subject. Both are states of human non-being.

In truth -- again, as in the Trinity -- there is a kind of mutual surrender, or self-giving, between object and subject, which is why knowledge touches on the sacred. Not for nothing does Genesis talk about Adam "knowing" Eve, thus emphasizing the intimacy and love that are prior to knowledge. For is it possible to know existence without first loving it? Yes, I suppose so, if you reduce knowledge and sexuality to the friction between a couple of objects.

Here is the passionate witness of a true lover of his mamamaya: Blessed be you, mighty matter, irresistible march of evolution, reality ever newborn.... you who by overflowing and dissolving our narrow standards of measurement reveal to us the dimensions of God (Teilhard de Chardin).

You see? It is possible to lose the soul in its objects or to be "saved" by them, depending upon one's attitude toward this oneish world of holy matterimany, toward this manifestivus for the rest of us. For "God's idea is indivisible, even though it needs both the knowable object and the knowing subject in order to reveal itself in its unity" (Balthasar).

Amen for a child's job!

34 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Only now do I realize that my parents got a much bigger kick out of me than I ever will.

That reminds me, I should probably call my parents...

In truth -- again, as in the Trinity -- there is a kind of mutual surrender, or self-giving, between object and subject, which is why knowledge touches on the sacred. Not for nothing does Genesis talk about Adam "knowing" Eve, thus emphasizing the intimacy and love that are prior to knowledge. For is it possible to know existence without first loving it? Yes, I suppose so, if you reduce sexuality to the friction between a couple of objects.

This is one of the things I've enjoyed about Balthasar so far, he doesn't shy away from talking about the intimacy of marriage and how it is reflected above and below. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think our culture has been mired for so long in the idea that sex is a bestial function at best, with the culture fluctuating between either celebrating base hedonism or cloaking it in shame, secrecy and ignorance, but both basically relegating it to the purely horizontal at best, that the idea that it has a real and sacred significance is often viewed as being actually perverse (for instance, any discussion in a secular setting of saints who describe being "ravished" by the Holy Spirit in any way immediately devolve into snickering and lecherous jokes about how the saints in question just needed to get laid; been there, done that).

3/23/2009 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

And on an entirely unrelated note, any ideas on the significance of the color orange?

3/23/2009 09:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

"Purple is excessively 'heavy' since it is composed of two heavy colors, the one hot (red) and the other cold (blue); orange on the other hand is excessively 'hot' because it is composed of two hot colors, the one heavy (red) and the other light (yellow)...

"Red rises before us like a wall of fire.... it excites, awakens, exteriorizes.... it is aggressive and moves outward.... Yellow partakes of intensity and depth, but in a 'light' mode.... it rejoices and delivers." --Schuon

3/23/2009 09:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

"When the colours begin to take definite shapes in the vision, it is a sign of some dynamic work of formation in the consciousness... the waves of colour mean a dynamic rush of forces...

"Orange or red gold is supposed, by the way, to be the light of the supramental in the physical.... Orange is the true light manifested in the physical consciousness and being." --Sri Aurobindo

3/23/2009 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

People who cannot get over themselves, or who are joylessly ambitious, are in a way forever trying to look at themselves through the eyes of their adoring parents, instead of looking outward and adoring something or someone else.

Exactly! Again, real Truth is always simple.

And goes down well with a glass of fresh orange juice.

wv: solized, the way to see.

3/23/2009 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tristan is growglowing like a baaaad weed:)

Bob, I haven't read one single solitary book you have on the side bar, or the ones you're deiscussing, but I'm glad you did and for us are unpacking their meaning -- for that I am thankful!

I have a one tiny question Bob. Like a battybat I flew in here with my oh-so-amazingly amazing stories and am sorta wondering if this blogspace is the place to share those. If not so much, then say "pearr" and I'll know what to do - ok?

Be that as it may....So, for today's 'Trinity' I will share a 'smiling' story, and an Angel winking moment. In my attempt at being as "empirical" as possible I will quote directly email contents as well.

First, my Mother's "Mother Mary smiled to me" story.
She was was watching television program on Christian iconography. At some point Mother Mary's face-image beemed her a smile...."I was still crying when Krystyna came over and alarmed asked "What happened?! What's wrong?!"
So she told her...."And then we both cried!"

Bhakti tears ...... so wonderful. I'm not surprised that happened because Mom nightly prayed the Rosary.

The last time I was overseas I witnessed a Mother Mary related, the most tender moment. Her friend came over - she, who just got back from visiting some holy site with a gift of white ceramic flask in the image of Mother Mary filled with holy water.

Mother clasped it tenderly to her bosom beeming with gratitude.... "My most beautifl one...." . Then placed it (still whispering to Mary sweet nothings) in a wall unit where other 'altar' images reign.

Now unwards with my Angel statue winking story.
Last year on April 2nd, I watched on Vision TV, Decoding Christianity show on Angels. Towards the end, just as the camera zoomed in for a close up of a statue of an angel in the town's square (in Italy) its left eye winked! And, I mean a full eyelid shot kind of wink. I thought some smartalek in jet decided to elecronicaly make'm wink.
After a moment tho I thought but what if that's not the case? and made a mental note of noting the aproximate time it occured. Aferwards wondering if I could find a contact address I could ask-away what was up with that?

"Was it for my eyes meant only that the town's angel statue left eye winked at around 10:46/7/8ish o'clock mark. Or was is computer simulated winking jest-moment?
Wouldn't be the first time the Divine decided to supernaturally communicate its people- nearness."

Next, described my Mother's "Mother Mary smiled to me".

Couple of days later received "we're looking into it." Then, on May 1st this, "We're sorry it's taken a while to get back to you. We checked with the producers regarding your inquiry. They have conveyed that they did not have the statue wink in the documentary."

Amazing Grace! I Thank You

Theofilia

3/23/2009 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger QP said...

What Shoun Said™ ->"....Yellow partakes of intensity and depth, but in a 'light' mode.... it rejoices and delivers."

3/23/2009 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, sounds right this Aurobindo quote, "Orange or red gold is supposed, by the way, to be the light of the supramental in the physical...Orange is the true light manifested in the physical consciousness and being."

Quite a few moonyears ago, I decided to see -in - mirror if I could see the (deeper than chakras) dimension within my body.
In Hara stance with hands placed on the tan tien area - to my great surprise - within minutes I could see "redish glow"...truly I was amazed. Truly in awe, that my forever sceptical self, the one who insists "the proof is always in the pudding", was actually seeing this!
For many minutes staring and staring. Thinking "if I should blink would it disapear?"
Then got bored and decided to look down directly on my hands...Still redish- glowing. For real!

Theofilia

3/23/2009 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops! forgot to add. That was so exciting I bugged my husband to stand for a look-see at his tan tien 'power'. He declined laughing.

"You don't you want too????!" - I asked amazed:(

Theofilia

3/23/2009 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Thanks, Petey - I was just wondering because it appears to be the secret color of the day. I'll take that to be a good sign, then :)

3/23/2009 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Petey answered Julie "...orange on the other hand is excessively 'hot' because it is composed of two hot colors, the one heavy (red) and the other light (yellow)...

"Red rises before us like a wall of fire.... it excites, awakens, exteriorizes.... it is aggressive and moves outward.... Yellow partakes of intensity and depth, but in a 'light' mode.... it rejoices and delivers." --Schuon"

Orange-ya glad she asked?

;-)

3/23/2009 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"As I have said before, we raise our children, but not nearly as high as they raise us!"

Oh, sO true. There's a reason we tell them 'you'll understand when you have kids!', not so much because we are so wise now, but that they won't gno what they need to know, until their children have taught it to them!

wv:court
of last resOrt

3/23/2009 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Julie:

See also record in sidebar. You probably have to see a larger image, but definitely a "tequila sunrise" effect.

3/23/2009 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That's funny, Bob. For some reason, I knew you would have a picture today so I was surprised not to see it there. I missed the sidebar earlier :D

3/23/2009 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous lame duck said...

I'm continually being blown away by MOTT (near the end of Force). As intellectual as it is, it has this amazing ability to by pass straight to the heart or the depth of our being where language (at least for me) somewhat dissolves. I cannot even put it into words the landscapes and truths it illustrates. It's too big for words. Even things I knew inherently became clearer. Things I believed, but couldn't comprehend, somehow became comprehensible.

The question is how do we apply this to our own work? Is it possible? Or Is it wrong to even think about it? Obviously, you're doing it here at OC, but for the rest of us... is it a matter of patience? Absorbing it until it realizes itself in our work? Can we "practice" this? Or is it only designated for those born with the ability?

As an artist, I'm at the crossroads where I can see where I want to go, but I'm not sure I can live into it or execute it properly. Practicing ones craft is one thing, but that ability to penetrate to the core like Tomberg does is something else all together.

3/23/2009 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Absorbing it until it realizes itself in our work?

Yes.

Or is it only designated for those born with the ability?

More or less one's "vocation," which includes ability.

I might add that you must be 100% sincere. And any covert egoic motivations will short circuit the process. You must continually renounce the fruits. It most be done for the sake of the Divine, not for one's own sake.

3/23/2009 01:09:00 PM  
Anonymous lame duck said...

That's the rub! You're right. The little bugger is always there wanting to bask in its own light.

3/23/2009 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous lame duck said...

How does that explain Bill Maher and Brad Pitt? Will to power? Electricity rules the Earth then? Oh crap...

3/23/2009 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

You must continually renounce the fruits. It most be done for the sake of the Divine, not for one's own sake.

Mushroom has some related thoughts today:

"The thing is, at some point, we must choose between the gifts and the Giver."

3/23/2009 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of orange as "the true light manifested in the physical consciousness and being"...
(via the Anchoress)

3/23/2009 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Thanks, Julie (WNW).

There are many fruitful ways to think about this, but I-magine the intra-trinitarian life as a kind of perpetual giving birth to its own Other (the Son), who is actually none other than itself. The Father bears witness to the Son and the Son bears witness to the Father in the love that flows between them -- which is also why love is prior to knowledge.

Well, that's certainly not heretical.

The Son, or the Logos, is the Creator out of the limitless perfect potential of the Father, i.e., the Source. Is there not something analogous in man?

3/23/2009 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

WOW!
So much in this post sets the whole Cosmos into contractions,... and "water" flowing,..

Someone send word to the Pope.
He's gonna be a Daddy!

He can't stay in the Allegoric forever!
(Doing so would just leave his position revealed as the "plug" that needs be "lost", or a stone to be rolled away)
wv says he is off with the boys playin' hooke.

WEEEEHAAAAA!
WE"RE HAVIN' A BABY!

3/23/2009 02:56:00 PM  
OpenID kaffepaus said...

Good text from Roger Scuton in the American Spectator about the "new" humanism.

Good night my fellow raccoons,

/Johan

3/23/2009 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Johann, that's an interesting article. Though I would add an observation to the author's ending:
"I never thought, when I finally put the old humanism behind me, that I would ever feel nostalgia over its loss. But now I recognize that it was not only noble in itself, but was also a serious attempt to retain the belief in nobility without the theological vision on which that belief had once depended. It was, in effect, a proof of the ideal that it proposed: an example of how human beings can provide themselves with values, and then live up to them."

I think he's half-right. It's a proof that there are some individuals who can provide themselves with values and live up to them, especially if they live in a society where, for a time, that is more or less the cultural norm. But in the absence of the Absolute, there's no real foundation for future generations to build those values upon. Hence the New Humanists (or just as aptly, the New Hedonists).

3/23/2009 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob says,

“In other words, we are intrinsically trinitarian because God is. (I probably just said something heretical, but don't worry, I'm sure I can fix it later.)”

McGinn and Eckhart say,

“‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ Here Eckhart says, ‘It would be of little value for me that the ‘Word was made flesh’ for man in Christ as a person distinct from me, unless he was also made flesh for me personally so that I too might be God’s son. Does this mean that we ourselves become the Second Person of the Trinity? Yes and no, according to Eckhart. Yes in the sense that there is only one Sonship, which is not other than the Person of the Word; no in the sense that ‘we are born God’s sons through adoption.’ In his defense at Cologne and Avignon, Eckhart would appeal inquantum principle to explain this kind of expression. Insofar as there is only one real Son of God, if we are sons (as scripture expressly says), we are indeed identically the same Son insofar as we are sons, univocally speaking. From the perspective of our existence as created beings, however, we are sons by adoption and participation, analogically speaking.”

3/23/2009 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

(Back to orange, I like the new sidebar music selection. Art Blakey is only $7.99 as a download...
did I mention Amazon is dangerous? :)

3/23/2009 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Art Blakey was a force of nature. He pounded them pagan skins like a man possessed. Definitely must be played at maximum volume, preferably in the car. I wouldn't normally think of him as being "female friendly," since he is so primal, like the Who or the Clash -- although he combined that element with fabulous soloists, first rate songwriting, and crowd-pleasing showmanship. Perhaps more than any other small group leader, he balanced brain and braun in his ensembles.

3/23/2009 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob, what page are you up to?

3/23/2009 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You mean in today's post? We are now up to p. 67. On deck: The Subject in the Object and The Double Form of Truth, assuming I have anything to say about those topics in the morning.

The blogging is lagging way behind the reading, since I'm almost finished with volume two, and volume three is on the way....

3/23/2009 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Yes. That's what I meant. Must be difficult writing about an old firehose with a new one blasting the head. Or trying to find the needle in a stack of needles.

3/23/2009 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"Definitely must be played at maximum volume, preferably in the car."

Really? Awesome. I haven't had a chance to listen yet; ended up spending the afternoon at the dentist for a chipped molar (which, oddly enough, wasn't nearly as unpleasant as you'd think. It helps if you like your dentist, though). But I'll remember that, next time I'm on a roadtrip. As to whether its female friendly, I figure if you can have a slightly gay side that likes the Carpenters then I can have a slightly butch side that enjoys primal pagan skin-pounding music :)

3/23/2009 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Movie buff alert:
DVDs to order from Warner Bros.

The studio is opening its film vaults to customer requests, including many film titles previously unavailable on disc.

"My dream has always been to find a way to get everything to everybody who wants it," says George Feltenstein, senior vice president of theatrical catalog marketing for Warner Home Video. "No matter how obscure or arcane, there is something in the library that somebody wants."
The Warner Archive

3/23/2009 11:35:00 PM  
OpenID kaffepaus said...

Julie:
"I think he's half-right."

I think so too. In the last analysis there are no (real) values without the Absolute, only the subjective human illusion of value. And why should such illusions be taken seriously at all?

In Sweden the (kind of new) humanists write on there homepage that they "want to put the human in the center" instead of any supernatural god(s). I wonder if they have ever reflected over the fact that God has done nothing but putting the human race, as well as the individual human, always in the center.

3/24/2009 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Johann, I very much doubt it. I'm sure they'd say that all that worship we're supposed to do shows how the opposite is true.

Back to Art Blakey for a moment, having listened this morning I quite enjoyed it. Along with driving, I think it'll be good for painting, housecleaning, and any time I need something in the background to keep the audio neurons busy while focusing (or non-focusing) on other stuff. it's good active music.

As to the primal aspect, I agree, but it seemed downright genteel as compared to some of the other things I submit my poor ears to :)

3/24/2009 10:12:00 AM  

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