Truth as Freedom (3.12.12)
Who could argue with the following proposition: "The actualization of truth is no mere natural process but a spiritual event, which takes place only in the lightning-like encounter and fusion of two words -- the word of the subject and the word of the object. Outside of this event, there is truth."
Thus, if you do not understand that truth is a supernatural thang, then buddy, you've got some catchin' up to do. Nature may embody truth, but it takes a supernatural act to pull a truthy rabbit out of a material hat, to quote Aquinas on one of his rare "off days." No: "The truth of the object exists only so long as infinite or finite spirit turns to it in an act of knowing; the truth of the subject exists only as long as it abides in this act" (Balthasar).
So truth is implicated in both subject and object, but only their mutual encounter "activates" the truth between them, sort of like the erotic spark between male and female. I know you know I know you know what I mean, because the love of truth cannot be separated from its own distinct version of eros, which the psychoanalsyt Christopher Bollas has called the "eros of form."
This is a particular kind of encounter with objects that releases the truth of the self into being. This is why we all respond to different objects -- and subjects! -- which have a way of giving birth to a latent part of ourselves. If you think about it, this has mulch in common with the fertile Platonic idea of education, the purpose of which is more to draw out what is within than to stuff other people's notions of sexy ideas into us. Some people are turned on by the strangest things!
Was that clear? For example, in my case, I rarely encountered any kind of personally engaging pneuma-cognitive spiritual form throughout all of my schooling, at least until my last two years of college, when something fortuitously began to ring a bell, and then my voice started to change. You could say that this was the dawn of my intellectual clueberty, which is also when I began to have terrible crushes on various ideas and thinkers -- including many leftist soul-crushing thinkers such as Chomsky, Zinn, The Nation, and all the rest of that promiscuous crowd. It's a wonder I didn't die of one of their spinereal diseases!
But of course, it was only puppy love. As is usually the case, I was merely "in love with love," that is, the thrill of encountering illicit ideas that the mass of Americans knew nothing about. For example, our empty ravin' kosbags have nothing on me. I knew that America was a torture state way back in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was president. I knew full well that we were no better than the USSR, and that by opposing communism, we merely reduced ourselves to their mirror image, just as we do today with the Islamic supremacists. Furthermore, we had just as many "political prisoners" as the Soviet Union, but we just called them "blacks."
In the spirit of fool disclosure, I must also admit that I actually attended a Noam Chomsky lecture some 20 years ago. I remember it well, because he assured the lunatic crowd that George Bush was poised to invade Cuba and oust our beloved comrade Fidel! In fact, I'm guessing that the only reason we didn't do so is because Chomsky blew the whistle on those fascists.
Enough about me and my sordid infidelities. But another reason why I do not argue with leftists is that I have only to mentally travel back to that hellseein' daze, and imagine how I would have reacted if a so-called conservative had presumed to instruct me about anything. I was 100% unreceptive, and would use the occasion merely to enlist them into my persecutory fantasy world. Because I was just as intelligent then as I am today -- maybe even more so, given the inevitable loss of brain cells -- I was virtually always able to run circles around my interlocutor and prove my demonic superiority.
Shame on me. There is no end to the damage to truth caused by the abuse of intelligence. I am not one of those people who is impressed by Obama's intelligence. Indeed, for those of us who have been there, it is a sorry sight to watch this cognitively arrested boob in action. This is not just an insult, because it is quite obvious that Obama is not free to discover truth, since he is laboring under the oppressive weight of systematic falsehoods he has passively absorbed throughout his friction-free life. Being good at articulating lies in charcoal activated cigaret-burnished tones should not be confused with being "articulate."
One cannot get to the freedom of truth unless one first appreciates the "unfreedom." The spirit must first apprentice itself to the object world before it can "attain to itself." This is very similar to the manner in which one must first master scales and chords before one is truly free to play a musical instrument. In fact, for a true master, the unfreedom and freedom will live side by side for the remainder of one's life. John Coltrane used to practice eight hours a day long after he was considered the greatest living master of the tenor sax.
Things are more than things, and facts are more than facts. If that weren't the case, then we would all be identical, in the way that animals and the tenured are. If you've seen one radical squirrel you've seen them all, because they are all operating from the same facts, like "Fox bad, ACORN good."
But for human beings, facts are always enshrouded in mystery, for they are an occasion to know the great Mystery of Withinness. Facts speak to humans, again, in ways that engage us in particularly intimate ways. Take the simple example of this book we're talking about here. Not a single person in the world would have highlighted the same passages that I have. So are the facts in the book? Or in me? Or in the space in between?
Actually, when I highlight a passage, it is never because it is merely some "fact" of which I was unaware. Rather, I have a system that allows me to go back to a book and revisit passages that gave me that erotic charge.
As I have mentioned before, this was actually the basis of my book. I keep meaning to digitalize the photos, so I can show them to you, but the first thing I did was remove all of the books from my shelves that spoke truth to me in this intimate way, irrespective of discipline -- physics, biology, anthropology, philosophy, metaphysics, historigraphy, psychoanalysis, theology, mysticism, etc. I placed them all on the floor, and stared at them until they reveled to me their hidden unity.
Obviously, no other person ever has or ever will do this in the way I did, but that doesn't mean that the exercise was (merely) eccentric or idiosyncratic. Obviously no single person can know "all truths," but we do the best we can with the materials available to us. The point, I believe, is to try to inflect the universal through the lens of the particular, which is what really makes truth come alive -- alive in us! Anything less than this living process tends toward pedantry and tenure.
Theological mind jazz, daddy-o. That's what it is. If it weren't for the wonderful erotic mystery that enshrouds truth, we'd all be singing from the same boring hymnal. "The event of knowledge would cast a cold, pitiful, shadowless light into every corner, and there would be no possibility of escaping this scorching sun. Being, stripped of mystery, would be, so to speak, prostituted" (Balthasar).
And if one more troll equates what I do with relativism or deconstruction... This is the precise opposite of those cynical and spiritually barren approaches. Rather, that sort of "radical cynicism only becomes possible wherever man no longer has a flair for the central mystery of being, whenever he has unlearned reverence, wonder, and adoration, whenever, having denied God, whose essence is always characterized by the wonderful, man also overlooks the wondrousness of every single created entity."
There is a perverse joy in this radical cynicism, and I again remember it well. Nor is it difficult to trace its roots, now that I have a four year old boy who likes to build things, but not nearly as much as he enjoys tearing them apart, knocking them down, or disassembling them to see "what's inside." But of course, there is no inside without the outside. The outside is the manifestation of the inside, just as the inside is the invisible "essence" of the outside. Jettison either, and the cosmos is reduced to a flat and empty place.
The outside reveals the inside, just as the downside reveals the upside.