Monday, March 30, 2009

Surfing the Eternal Waves of Novelty to the Sands of Time

Okay, back on our heads. I believe we were discussing the freedom of the object -- which in itself is a shocking idea, since we usually think of all the freedom residing in the subject, if indeed we acknowledge spiritual freedom to begin with (for freedom can only have a spiritual source). However, the infinite plenitude of the object world reminds me of something I once read on the back of a Sinatra album, by the King of Cosmically Bad Liner Notes, Stan Cornyn.

Wow. Speaking of "infinite plenitude," the internet is an amazing place. In a matter of seconds, I actually tracked down the exact quote I was thinking of: Sinatra "leans into the front end of 'Strangers' and starts singing all the way to 'The End.' And there's no chop-choppy phrasing along the way. No dit-dit-dit. It comes out mmmmmmmmm all the way. If he runs out of gas on a phrase, which is a very rare bird for the man, then he runs out of gas two-and-a-half miles after anybody else would. He sings like he's got an extra tank of Texaco in his tummy."

That's the point I'm driving at: that the object world always appears before us as if it's got "an extra tank of Texaco in its tummy." For example, we know when we look at the world that "the possibilities of life are infinitely more abundant than what is actually on display.... There is an incomprehensible prodigality in the very essence of life." I remember something Whitehead said along similar lines, that out of the infinite pool of possibilities, only a relative few undergo the formality of becoming.

Of course, the higher up the ladder we ascend, the more this becomes apparent. For example, one of our unavoidable existential "owies" is that a single lifetime could never be sufficient to actualize all that is latent within us. This is a very odd situation that should be noticed by more people, but I think the problem is that most people foreclose their infinite potential so early in life, that they don't really feel the sting in the manner I'm talking about here.

Then again, it would be Raccoon error to dwell on this inherent "lack," because life could never appear as rich as it does if it weren't floating atop by this infinite sea of potential. Rather, just consider the alternative. Imagine if existence were as simple as imagined by the metaphysical Darwinist or bonehead atheist, deprived of its intrinsic mystery. What a boring life!

As Swami Kahuna said, we cannot stop the ceaseless waves of novelty, but we can learn to surf them. And I believe this is one of the purposes of a valid spiritual practice -- not to sit safely on the shore like the village atheist, nor to drown in the ocean like the non-dual mystic, but to ride those waves of novelty all the way to the end of the line, which is none other than O-->(n).

As Balthasar expresses it, we cannot look at the reality of undeveloped possibilities as "a realm of limitation and poverty." Rather, "the very purpose of this fullness in the womb of life is to illustrate life's richness and superabundance. It would betoken the poverty of being, and ultimately of the Creator, if everything possible were also actual."

Imagine the horror! Some musician might come along and write the last song! Or a poet might compose the last poem! "That's it. We've run out of songs and poems." But that can never happen. This is obviously a mercy, not a privation. Existence is a gift that keeps giving -- although there are obviously people who specialize in "realizing" this, e.g., true artists and other creative types.

Which I think is why we often inappropriately idealize artists, who seem to live on that shoreline between the the infinite potential and the finite actuality. This is the "dream world," or to be precise, the world where the dreamer transforms O into (n). It is also the world of childhood, of their innocent natural mysticism.

In turn, the purpose of a secular education is to crush this natural mysticism and to replace the infinite world with their cold and godless abstractions. Then, once the soul is sufficiently materialized, it vainly searches for the "missing infinity," i.e., O, in the outer world. Thus is born every spiritual perversion from leftism, to scientism, to liberation theology, to environmental hysteria, to you name it. It is the elevation of Ø to O.

However, it is not exactly correct to say that the infinite cannot be found in the finite, for in truth, that is the only place it can be found, just as it is impossible to locate essence in the absence of form. Rather, form is precisely where you will find essence.

Thus, "the finite appearance as such is the coming to light of a certain infinity." Do you see the point? The realization of finitude is at once the "revelation of its intrinsic infinity. This infinity truly becomes visible in its appearance as the excess that does not become visible." Again, finite reality always croons as if it's got an extra tank of Texaco in its tummy.

As such, any knowledge is surrounded by a penumbra of mystery, which gives it its... tang. Again, imagine how dreadful life would be if there were some one-to-one correspondence between object and subject! Obviously, subject and object are stuck with each other until death do they part, but a statically bi-polar situation would be a marriage made in hell.

And that is no joke, for "Raccoon Hell" is a place where everything just "is what it is." But as Hegel cracked, identity is the identity of identity and non-identity, which ultimately means that you are only you because of who you're not, mainly God. Which in turn is why atheists are so boring.

In psychoanalysis we call this "non-identity" the unconscious. However, as I have mentioned before, it is incorrect to visualize it as a conscious ego floating over a a kind of unconscious ocean. Rather, it must be looked at dialectically, in that there can be no ego without an unconscious, and vice versa. They co-arise, in the way that shining a light in the dark illuminates a spot, but also "unShows" you all the darkness surrounding it. Therefore, knowledge of any kind is always surrounded on all sides by the great unKnown.

And I emphasize un-Known, because this dimension is surely "known," just not in a wideawake and cutandry way. It is this unKnowledge that allows us to tend toward a true self which isn't yet known to us. This is also the higher unKnowledge of faith, the "luminous darkness" that allows us to approach the unKnown God who will increasingly become known to us through that very link of faith-infused unKnowledge.

Well, I guess that's enough for today. I could keep writing forever and never get to the bottom or top of this Subject or object. All quoted material from Theo-Logic: The Truth of the World.

20 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

"...life could never appear as rich as it does if it weren't floating atop by this infinite sea of potential."

Well! That's a very frothy way to put it!

I was thinking as I read the post that to a certain type -- say, a village atheist -- your words would look like gibberish, or at least, "all over the place."

But they would be mistaken, for you stated the paradoxical nature of the Raccoon Quest very well. And began the week on a very positive note. Nothing like "the infinitude of plenitude" to set the tone!

Thanks, Bob!

3/30/2009 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

"the possibilities of life are infinitely more abundant than what is actually on display.... There is an incomprehensible prodigality in the very essence of life."

:D
Yes, exactly.

For example, one of our unavoidable existential "owies" is that a single lifetime could never be sufficient to actualize all that is latent within us.

True, and yet at the same time (speaking purely for myself), while I know all the things I could have done/ been/ etc. if only... I find I don't really miss those potential "me"s all that much. Because most of them would have precluded my current career as an Amateur Slackologist, and that's just about the best thing I can imagine becoming.

3/30/2009 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

"That's it. We've run out of songs and poems."

Don't know if you've heard the story about Mahler and Brahms standing on a bridge. Brahms was gloomily saying that all the great melodies had already been composed. Mahler suddenly grabbed Brahms' arm and excitedly pointed to the water: "Oh look, look there!" "What is it?" said Brahms, curious. Mahler said: "See - it's the last wave!"

3/30/2009 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob,
You mus be talkin' bout our old hang-out.

3/30/2009 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of notes on Sinatra, Mark Steyn has a little history up:

In those first few weeks with the James orchestra, Frank sang four Jack Lawrence numbers: "If I Didn't Care", "It's Funny To Everyone But Me", "Ciribiribin", and, of course, "All Or Nothing At All". "It's interesting," Lawrence told Will Friedwald in the Nineties, "to listen to that young voice when he first started and the way he attacked that song and what he did with the breath control, with all of the wonderful phrasing that he did even in those early days." As noted above, it wasn't written for him, but it sounds as if it was, once you get past James' trumpet intro.

3/30/2009 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"In turn, the purpose of a secular education is to crush this natural mysticism and to replace the infinite world with their cold and godless abstractions."

Got that right. Only flattened public school grad's would put up with this.

3/30/2009 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, the crusher of children's "natural mysticism" may even be the soul's 'evolutionary age'.

My, one year old sister raised into exactly same gene pool and upbringing is nothing like me. . . Not a mystical bone in her psyche. Long ago we agreed to avoid any religion-talk. She is a church attending Catholic and claims vehemently "There aren't any Catholics in Canada." She doesn't live here, but on her visits attends church services.

I actually didn't ask how she came to that conclusion knowing full well she would just repeat the above.

Aaaanyway, and then there was lil' 4 year old me protesting when Gran tried to teach me prayes - proclaiming - "I will dance for God!" heh, she told me that, when I was a teengrrrl . . . atta grrrl:)

"You were always independent", Mom told me. Once, I told her I saw car lights in the picture of a street scene which hung above my bed at night. Soon after it was gone! "Mama ain't raising no lunatic?":)

Good thing no one saw me drawing a large circle in the sand one night. Then, with skyward gaze stood in the middle almost trembling with intensity....I wanted to know something! Something forming around the edges of my awarenss. . . Something....like a question for which I had no words for yet.

Theofilia

3/30/2009 10:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Milton said...

Phyllis, is that you??

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rogers/phyllis.jpg

3/30/2009 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Milton,

Can't say I hate it when I laugh out loud:)
Close 'enuf, but no cigar, heh. On the other hand, not even close! Not at all. Why? Because my daughters insisted I looked like Cher sans the dark straight hair. But I could see the 'gypsy' flair-thang... On the other hand, I was compared to Linda Evans...Close 'enuf:) But my hair is always redish and wavy and green eyes notin' to smirk about:) So therya go!

Theofilia

3/30/2009 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous maineman said...

"In turn, the purpose of a secular education is to crush this natural mysticism and to replace the infinite world with their cold and godless abstractions."

And it's interesting that the crushing begins with an overemphasis on freedom and creativity.

You get to write the words in whatever way sounds right to you, and coloring outside the lines is considered an independent streak and good in its own way, maybe even better than being so "uptight" as to stay within them.

From what you say here, it seems like they stunt growth by forgetting that the way to get outside of the lines is to stay within them -- that the infinite is embodied in the finite.

I remember an Eric Clapton quote about when he played the Fillmore with Cream in the 60s, alongside Big Brother, the Airplane, and Buffalo Springfield. "We absolutely cleaned up," he said bemusedly. "It was as though they hadn't listened to the proper music."

Those other groups never quite sounded the same to me after that.

3/30/2009 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

As Swami Kahuna said, we cannot stop the ceaseless waves of novelty, but we can learn to surf them."

AKA the Big Kahuna?

I recall the first time I met him, he was in this dive called the Kameamea on one of them islands, I ferget which one.

I had just finished deepsixin' some pirate wannabe's that had been harrassin' the loco fishermen, who paid me with fish and crabs, which was their currency I guess.

Anyhow, this was when the Big Kahuna was young, and before he got world famous and all.

"Hey Brau! Can you spare a brudda a drink? I'm just a poi boy, y'know?" He asked.

So I sez "Sure thing, brau (that always cracks me up how they say bro). Does the bartender here take fish n' crabs?"

"I don't want anymore of dem crabs," the bartender said, eyein' me kinda funny. "'specially from a dude."

I jest shrugged, y'know? Figgerin' it's jes one of them weird island rituals they got.

"So you only take crabs from the wenches?" I ask.

Well, this jes made the fella angry fer some odd reason.

"You tryin' to get funny wit me?" He asked, puffin' out his giant chest and glarin' at me.

"No, I ain't jokin'," I sez. "I'm jes tryin' to buy some grog. So will you take my swordfish?"

Then the bartender gets those crazy eyes. He snorts and hauls off to hit ol' Skully.

But the Big Kahuna he jes catches that ham sized fist in his hand which was the size of ten hams, and sez somethin' in Tongan. Yeah, they are all big on those islands but nobody was bigger than the Big Kahuna.

The bartender reluctantly backed off, but he was still eyein' me wit' that Tongan glare.

Until I brought in my swordfish, then he laughed like he jes saw Red Skelton perform. All the brau's and wenches joined in and we had unlimited grog for three days.

Those Tongans sure know how to party, I tell you what.
The party ended wit' a drinkin' contest between the Big Kahuna and I, but that's another story.

3/30/2009 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Imagine the horror! Some musician might come along and write the last song! Or a poet might compose the last poem!"

Or Skully might drink the last grog.

3/30/2009 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thus, "the finite appearance as such is the coming to light of a certain infinity." Do you see the point?

Ho! That's one anOinted pOint you got there, Bob!

3/30/2009 12:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Skully!

Ya sure know how to ham it up allrit:)

Wo, wv sez norsea:)

Theofilia

3/30/2009 03:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Cory said...

I notice in reading these posts that our host is on the receiving end of a lot of flack about politics. There are those who think he picks on leftists too much or is too hard on the newly elected occupant of the White House.

I must admit that when I first started reading this blog I was a little put off by the political references. Not because Brother Robert is being mean to the lefties but because I didn't think all the political stuff fit well in a blog about religion.

But then I started to make significant progress in my reading of the posts. There are really a lot of these and they are not short nor are they filled with frothy sentiments or insubstantial bromides. I guess I have read about 40% of the posts.

First, I have yet to find a single post that is not insightful or sincere. Brother Robert engages in odd banter at times and has a love affair with puns. But he is always serious and what he writes demands careful thought and reflection.

Second, I find that he does not single out a specific political party for criticism. He has taken whacks at people across the spectrum and not pulled punches with any. What he does do is paint a picture of the entities who hate God, despise religious devotion, mock genuine efforts to achieve enlightenment, ridicule time-honored and time-tested tradition based on revealed truth and who counterfeit all of these with an intention to deceive. Like any good teacher our host often makes his points using contrasting ideas and examples the better to bring into focus what is true and beneficial and likely to lead to deliverance and what is not.

At all times in every age the eternal religion has been opposed. This opposition in general advocates nihilism, relativism and materialism. The movements organized around these take different forms at different times according to expediency. It seems to depend on what most flatters the natural man and entices the ego and so changes to tempt men according to the times. In our time these take the form of radical environmentalism, dogmatic scientism and, of course, empty materialism. All of these are pushed at their extremes as if they were true religion and sometimes masquerade as religion. And all of them, if adopted, lead to spiritual death and misery.

It is right that Brother Robert should despise the movements that aim to lead humans to their destruction. It is right that he give pointed examples of how these work, who they work through and how to recognize them. These movements and the people who work so hard to advance them are in direct opposition to everything Brother Robert is saying in these posts.

I do not post this as an attempt to defend our host. He needs no defense and if he did is quite capable of doing so himself. But I know that there are lurkers here. The political references in these posts are not about politics. They are about a philosophy of life sometimes expressed in a type of politics that, if given enough power, can and will blanket the nation and the world in a thick fog of ignorance, envy, hate and despair. This philosphy is not confined to one political movement. It is found in many places under many guises. The things all these have in common is aggressiveness, resentment, envy and hatred of transcendant Truth. The politics is secondary. Often it does not come forward as a political movement at all.
Whatever guise it appears under is a smokescreen for the real agenda which is the enslavement of humans. The politics will change to accomodate this agenda.

Brother Robert - please forgive me if I have outstepped my bounds by stating the above and certainly apply correction if I have misstated or misunderstood matters.

3/30/2009 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

The things all these have in common is aggressiveness, resentment, envy and hatred of transcendant Truth.

In the spirit of shining a bright light on evil...

"I had the honor of meeting with Mullah Omar. This is a man who does not belong to this era."

No kidding.

3/30/2009 08:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Bob, you apparently subscribe to the "one life" school of thought.

Although Christian doctrine stresses that one life is all you get, others indicate repeated episodes of life.

What you believe here makes some difference, although not alot.

It IS a good idea to make life count as if it is the only one, however this might make it difficult for some people to relax.

If you can't relax, you might muff your life somwhat. It is not good to get too wound up and intense about it all.

On the other hand, if you believe in multiple lives, you might get too relaxed, and muff your life somewhat. You might fail to discipline yourself properly.

This divide in human doctrine is the widest chasm that can be found, and it is vexing that it can't be solved.

The one thing that emerges is that it is always, in all things, best to take the middle road, the road of moderation.

Trust the Lord, but tether your camel, as they say.

3/30/2009 11:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And a message to Cory:

Yes, it is good that Bob stabs at the leftists. It is good for everyone EXCEPT Bob, that is.

Imagine having a headfull of the stuff that Bob writes. The pain, the pain!

He is not at peace, and I find that sad. He is a great man, a supurb writer, but his thought processes are haunted by the specter of the LEFT, which he perseverates on and blows out of proportion.

Occassionally someone must ask him to relax a little bit and refocus on what's important, which is what he calls SLACK. Bob should cut himself some...

3/30/2009 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

"Imagine having a headfull of the stuff that Bob writes."

You wish

Still-hiding-behind-Anon, your envy is showing again.

3/31/2009 12:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for being so late, I'm catching up.

Or some drunken computer tech might come along and ask the last question.

-- katzxy

6/14/2009 07:54:00 PM  

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