Thursday, April 09, 2009

Are My Methods Unsound?


I don't know what to say about this, but, as you know, we've been unpacking volume one of HvB's Theo-Logic, which is only a single trunk of an elephantine, three part, sixteen volume work, with probably at least 8,000 pages of text.

That's a lot of text. But there could have been much more. At a number of points, HvB apologizes for having to give short shrift to many subjects that would be worthy of a book in themselves, even though he also realizes that he is taxing even the most dedicated pneumanauts with the length of his voyage.

For example, I am now well into the five-volume Theo-Drama, and in volume one -- which is only 650 pages -- he mentions that it is so skeletal that it can only serve as "the apparatus, as it were, so that gymnasts may eventually exercise upon it." Which is precisely what we are doing with the Theo-Logic, what with our daily verticalisthenics, gymgnostics, and praerobics.

In volume one of the Theo-Drama, he also mentions that this work is analogous to a pile of iron filings, which will require a magnet to align and assemble them. This magnet, of course, is the Holy Spirit, without which we could have no understanding whatsoever of the "facts" of revelation. In this regard, it seems that both types of fundamentalist, i.e., religious and materialist, miss the point entirely. The Holy Spirit is what gives "life" to the letter, and in-spires the kind of "infinite outpouring" that is HvB's "corpus," or body of work. And this is very much a living body, to say the least, whereas the letter itself is a "corpse" without the spirit to reanimate it.

We know that HvB composes living letters, because even though 8,000 is a lot of pages, each page or two inspires a lengthy post of my own. And each post could go on all day if I didn't have to leave for work!

So, what is the point? First of all, it reminds me of the last line of John, in which he mentions that he has merely skimmed the surface of Jesus' life, and that if all of the other things "were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."

Now, that statement was written in around AD 96, over 1,900 years ago, and there is still no end in sight, is there? This was a very remarkable -- even "crazy" -- statement to have made at the time, but it now qualifies as a truism. Why? What's going on that creates this never-ending flow of (n)? For I will go one further than John: time itself cannot contain all of the posts that could be written. For God's revelation is like a fractal, which is both bound and yet infinite: wheels within wheels within wheels. We can try to impose boundaries around it, but the Holy Spirit specializes in shattering our little containers and reminding us of who is in charge.

The point is that both revelation and doctrine should paradoxically contain and yet liberate. Do you see the point? It's really quite practical. For example, in raising a child, one of the most important tasks is to help them develop psychological boundaries, which serve as a "restraint" without which growth cannot occur, or will be seriously compromised.

Or, it is like the rules of grammar and syntax, without which one cannot build upon speech to ascend higher or penetrate more deeply. But if your religion does not simultaneously bind and liberate, then something is wrong. And it should liberate at every level -- body, mind, and spirit. It cannot merely "repress," or it has become a caricature of itself (which often happens, obviously through no fault of God).

The other point is that in order for the above-noted magnet to assemble the iron filings, it requires a highly developed ignorance. You could call this "faith," or "unKnowing," but we like the term "higher bewilderness." Whatever you call it, you must eventually learn to love the feeling of being "lost" for the joy of being "found"; or the thrill of leaping into the void for the surprise of being caught at the last second.

For example, each of my posts is a leap into the void. Now, if you don't like what comes out, then that's all they represent: a pointless plunge into nothingness.

But that's not what it feels like to me. It reminds me of a comment I left last night before plunging into my night sea journey, to the effect that It is possible for one's whole life to be a prayer, as it were, in that it is "aimed at God." Certainly it is possible for thinking to be a kind of prayer. To this, Will added that

"I think anything done with full conscience and awareness is a form of prayer. For example, one has a love of cooking, then preparing a meal is prayer, provided one cooks with awareness. Gratitude for one's own existence is a form of prayer. Gratitude for the existence of others, for animals, for trees, is a form of prayer. Such gratitude literally divinizes life, activates the slumbering holy sparks within all things, as the Kabbalist might say. Silence, inner and outer, is a form of prayer. Prayer, among other things, is a state of being, I believe."

In the Coonifesto, I used the symbols (---) and (o) to designate this state of being, which must involve silence and openness, i.e., openness to the vertical. In turn, this is how the iron filings get organized, for you couldn't do it yourself in a million years, any more than you could organize the cells of your body.

In fact, each step in evolution results from something that was once done consciously being handled by the unconscious (or supraconscious, as it were). Again, whatever you think of these posts, they could never be produced "consciously," i.e., by planning ahead, doing research, assembling data, making arguments, anticipating objections, reaching a conclusion, etc.

"The characteristic of the true knower is that he resolves once and for all not to want to know many things.... He disposes of a constructive unmindfulness, which by rejecting some things, helps bring the essential cognitive elements to the fore and, in this way, fashions the world of truth into a vivid relief. It is not until we see this negative capacity to overlook and to withhold attention from things that the corresponding positive capacity to welcome them freely becomes fully visible" (HvB).

In this regard, an important point is that these posts are obviously addressed to the same "mode" or "frequency" in you from where they were produced. In other words, if you experience them in the proper way, then they should "provoke" as much as they "inform," much in the way that HvB has provoked me.

That is to say, HvB bewilders every bit as much as he instructs, and this bewilderness becomes the fertile ground for even more "flow" from the source (i.e., the "increase" given by God). In fact, there are many things HvB says that I frankly don't consciously understand, and yet, the overall effect is nevertheless a kind of palpable transmission.

As someone said of Schuon in one of those videos I linked to yesterday, he is patently angelic. Patently! That means obvious, palpable, empirical, experiential, etc. It seems that many people have no idea how very physical Christianity is, but the (↓) is always there. (Which is also how we can "register" the demonic, which is nothing more than "discerning spirits.")

So I think you see the problem. This post is already getting out of hand, and yet, it has covered zero ground. It was inspired by HvB, and yet, I'm still on the first word, "Ascending...." And when zero inspires everything, you are in the realm of the infinite, almost a mirror image of "creation from nothing." Here is the full sentence, and I think you can see how it relates to everything I've just said:

"Ascending the scale of beings from the point of view of the object, we have found that truth, as self-unveiling, has increasingly taken on the form of freedom."

One could write a whole book from this single sentence! First of all, where the Lord is, there is freedom. The corollary of this is that where the Lord isn't, there is no freedom. But ironically, the only "place" in the cosmos where the Lord cannot be is in the human being who has rejected him in exchange for a counterfeit horizontal freedom. But when the Spirit is "in" a soul such as HvB -- or if HvB is in the Spirit -- we are again witness to this quasi-infinite outpouring which is true intellectual freedom, i.e., the fertile freedom of the intellect properly so-called (not the mere intellectual-ism of the infertile egghead, i.e., the tenured).

Surely the result of this mode of being is an inversion of the cosmic subject, in which we go from passive witness of objects to participant in, or even "co-creator" of, the infinite depth of being. This is what makes knowledge a "spiritual activity" instead of the mere accounting or stamp collecting of the radical secularist living under the tyranny of quantity. The materialist can never kill God. Rather, he is nothing more than an errand boy sent by demonic grocery clerks to collect a bill. But the Raccoon has already eaten all the groceries with great gusto.

And he doesn't have to pay that bill anyway, thanks to the Divine Bailout.


NoMo said...

"That's a lot of text. But there could have been much more."

Indeed, the material world can only ever contain glimpses of eternity. Yet, even when glimpsed "through a glass darkly", what little Truth we can contain definitely sustains. Thank God.

NoMo said...

Oh, boy. Shame on me for commenting before reading on...tsk, tsk. Sorry.

NoMo said...

wv should have said, "redface"

Although "inthrept" isn't far off.

Northern Bandit said...

I'll quickly repeat a tip that I posted in yesterday's comments. I've taken to rummaging raccoon-like through Gnowa's Arkive in order to string together some coherent responses to the myriad bovine atheists and leftists I encounter weekly. Something that might spark the tiniest luminescence in their otherwise benighted brainpans.

Scouring the Arkive manually is a chore to say the least.

So here's the tip (which I'm sure many here know already):

Use Google's ability to restrict the search to Gnowa's Arkive specifically. Use syntax like this in the Google search box:

site: "problem of evil"


site: Dupree "suspended sentence"

I've found this invaluable in locating past Bobgrams that linger somewhere in my semi-conscious recollection, but I can't remember much else such as when they were posted.

QP said...

Super/Superb post again Bob!

Re: prayer *and* Re: my comment @ OC yesterday on the subject of the Obama administration rescinding the "consciousness clause" for health care workers. Commenter "St. John Neumann", at the link I provided, has this to say:

Posted by: St. John Neumann - Apr. 08, 2009 6:27 PM ET USA 
the only thing that will turn this around is a massive rosary crusade, similar to the crusade which prevented Brazil from becoming communist in the 1960's. I doubt it will happen because the problem is within the Catholic Church in the US, not in the broader secular society. Until the Church remembers Who it is--the Mystical Body of Christ, and believes in the power of prayer to effect social change, it will not happen. Pray for the removal of those who have made a shipwreck of faith.

In addition, I cobbled together & sent a simple email to HHS.GUV. I'll send it out shortly to all raccoons I have an email for. Please use as you see appropriate. If you're not on my list and would like to receive it, send me an email: mizze (at) mac (dot) com. Deadline for submitting comments to is 11:59PM tonight, April 9.

julie said...

I've only watched a few seconds of that video, but it looks exactly like a dream I had a couple years back. Spooky.

Djadja said...

Bob wrote: “In fact, there are many things HvB says that I frankly don't consciously understand, and yet, the overall effect is nevertheless a kind of palpable transmission.” And so down the line, there are things Bob says that I cannot explain to anyone else — the words I can assemble just don’t convey. Yet as I read the posts, there is “nevertheless a kind of palpable transmission.” It’s affected my outlook on life, liberty, and the pursuit of Holiness.

NoMo said...

"Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Holiness." That's a keeper! Thanks, Djadja.

Anonymous said...

You almost made it through an entire post before taking the inevitable potshot at materialists.

I count this is a vast improvement. Keep it up.

Dousin Dupree said...

Please, that wasn't a "pot shot." Rather, it was a pimp slap.

will said...

>> . . there are many things HvB says that I frankly don't consciously understand, and yet, the overall effect is nevertheless a kind of palpable transmission<<

I think this is the essence of sacred art, say, Gregorian chant or certain forms of ancient sculpture. On the surface there may be a lack of what we might think of "emotional" content - the content may at first strike us as "odd" or exotic, perhaps even a bit creepy. Still, the overall effect is quieting yet bracing, clarifying.

In a way, such art is the application of "higher science." Beyond emotion, beyond passion, such art is calibrated to open the spiritual centers in the human organism.

Robin Starfish said...

Like this, a la Frank Meshberger's anatomical observation.

will said...

Or possibly this:,features,is-this-the-oldest-statue-in-the-world

julie said...

As I just noted at my place, certainly it's a coonicidence that there's a completed (well, but for two missing pieces) puzzle of the Sistine Chapel spread across the work table...

Van said...

"...Silence, inner and outer, is a form of prayer. Prayer, among other things, is a state of being, I believe."

Which I suppose means that Prayer, is only a form of Prayer.


lame duck said...

I really get a kick out of the fact that you're already well into the 4th or 5th book (or something like that) of Balthasar, each of which contains at least six hundred pages (not to mention the depth), and I'm still only more than halfway through MOTT (on Death now).

You're a reading machine, B!

Just to read these three guys alone now -- Schuon (great links from everyone yesterday, BTW), Tomberg, and Balthasar -- I'll need a decade or more.

But even MOTT demands a careful re read. And I'll have to take notes next time. I find I forget the exact wording of what bewildered me in the first place, until I pick the book up again. The bewilderment stays, while the way he unpacks it all gets froggy almost immediately after putting the book down. It reminds me watching a great actor or musician at work. They make it look easy until you try and do it yourself. And the same goes for your blog posts, Bob. Anyone who has ever tried a blog will know just how difficult it is to maintain. Especially daily. And with content. Good work!

Finally, Will's comments and the thread of your post today, reminded me of St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as "The Little Flower". I couldn't remember her exact words, so looked her up on Wiki and found this...

"The Little Way--

Thérèse is known for her "Little Way." In her quest for sanctity, she realized that it was not necessary to accomplish heroic acts, or "great deeds", in order to attain holiness and to express her love of God.

She wrote,
"Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love."...

...This is evident in her approach to prayer:

"For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy; in a word, something noble, supernatural, which enlarges my soul and unites it to God.... I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers.... I do as a child who has not learned to read, I just tell our Lord all that I want and He understands."

mushroom said...

this work is analogous to a pile of iron filings, which will require a magnet to align and assemble them. This magnet, of course, is the Holy Spirit

I like that. It's way better -- more flexible and subtle than my catalytic grid idea.

julie said...

have you seen this (via the Anchoress)?

I can see why the author of your linked article found the statue unnerving; the stance suggests an early Adam, hiding himself, "...his wistful gaze speak(ing) of a weird and agonising regret." He was so close to the Garden...

julie said...

Ho! Reading further, the name Gobekli Tepe means "Belly Hill" in Turkish. Mount Hara, the birthplace of mankind... unless, of course, you think it's all just a weird coincidence. They probably just called it that because, you know, hills look like bellies.

julie said...

I can't help noticing, though, that the authors of all those articles can't resist fitting the mysterious history of the place not into the mysterious historical context we already have and which strongly hints at what the place represents, but rather into a modern ecodrama narrative: the Fall didn't have anything to do with snakes, fruit and being kicked out of the Garden for willful disobedience (and please also ignore any Biblical significance of the nearby ruins indicating massive amounts of human sacrifice), no, they committed the cardinal sin of farming, which was totally bogus and ruined everything. Those bastards.

will said...

Julie, that was fascinating, thanks.

I totally agree with your assessment. Whether or not Gobekli Tepe site marks a former "temple in Eden" I don't know, but that eco-reductionist interpretation is annoyingly typical. By that reckoning, we'd be living in a uber-Eden - we don't even have to hunt and gather, just visit the local supermarket.

Anyway, call me whack-beyond-all-recognition, but I buy into the idea that there was no death in Eden, which means that linear time didn't really have a foothold back then. The laws of physics must have been different, the upper and lower worlds must have intersected. And yes, the thing that brought Eden down and introduced death, suffering, and karma into the mix was self-aggrandizement, self-love (the bad kind)

Skully said...

"ushroom said...
this work is analogous to a pile of iron filings, which will require a magnet to align and assemble them. This magnet, of course, is the Holy Spirit

"I like that. It's way better -- more flexible and subtle than my catalytic grid idea."

Or my catalytic griddle idea.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"But if your religion does not simultaneously bind and liberate, then something is wrong. And it should liberate at every level -- body, mind, and spirit. It cannot merely "repress," or it has become a caricature of itself (which often happens, obviously through no fault of God)."

Ho! Mushroom was talkin' about this awhile back on his blog so it was still on my mind...or somewhere in there.

That is a way better explanation than what I was tryin' to muster.
You also use far less words, which is frosting on the ho! :^)

Shantisha said...

Somebody say frostin' on a Ho?

Van said...

What about when the head of your religion, preaches the same sermon as the evil other guys?
On 'State Secrets,' Meet Barack W. Obama

"In February, President Obama's Justice Department quietly argued in a San Francisco court that it was maintaining the same position as President Bush's Justice Department on a case involving detainees trying to sue a private company for its role in their (allegedly) extraordinary renditions.
The Obama administration pushed the status quo administration argument by invoking the "state secrets" argument, also a Bush-era fave.
"It is the policy of this administration to invoke the state secrets privilege only when necessary and in the most appropriate cases," said DOJ spox Matt Miller.
Last week, Team Obama did it again.
And why wouldn't they?

Moonbats must feel as if Obama stormed into the midst of the moneychangers... and asked if they ahd change for a One.

Van said...

Another winner from the deadlines, scientists discover key to happy relationships:

Secret to marital bliss? Don't have kids
Couples' satisfaction declines after birth of first child, eight-year study finds

Parents all know that children make it harder to do some of the most enjoyable adult things. Bluntly put, kids can get between you.

Now scientists have attached some numbers to the situation.

...An unrelated study in 2006 of 13,000 people found parents are more depressed than non-parents. Scientists speculate that the problem is partly a modern one, because parents don't get as much help at home as they did in previous generations.

There are key variables to note in the new study.

Couples who lived together before marriage experienced more problems after the birth of a child than those who lived separately before marriage, as did those whose parents fought or divorced.

Something tells me they won't find any dots connecting the two bold lines.