Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Being Without Whom You Are Not Real

James notes that "Existence is bound up with being 'this,' but not all things are 'this' in the same way. If you have a man and a granite block in front of you, the granite has an indifference to being 'this' that the man does not share. The shape of the granite is accidental, and to cut it in half only makes an accidental difference in what you have. Not so with the man. The shape of a man arises from something interior to the man in a way that the shape of granite does not."

Bob replied that "It seems that the granite block doesn’t really have being -- or real being -- in the absence of the subject for whom it is real, otherwise it’s just a pattern of atomic activity with no necessary boundaries between it and everything else. Which leads to the question: who/what/where is the being without which I am not real?"

My point was that a material object only really exists for a subject, existence being synonymous with "definition," or "boundaries." In other words, something cannot exist unless it is in some way separate and distinct from everything else. But only a subject can define, bound, and delineate. Again, until there is a subject, there is only a vast sea of quantum energy.

For example, try to imagine what the cosmos "looked like" prior to a living being seeing it. Obviously, it didn't look like anything. It's a purely meaningless exercise, because sight is a property of eyes and brains. Not only that, but everything depends upon perspective, and there were no perspectives prior to the emergence of life. There was only "everything at once" from "all possible perspectives," which is indistinct from nothing at all from no perspective (again since existence requires definition and boundaries).

But today we have a radically different sort of cosmos than we had 4 billion years ago, prior to the appearance of life. Now, instead of no subjects and no perspectives, we have billions upon billions of them -- every human, every animal, every insect -- each one is a window on existence with a different view. As Balthasar notes, it may be possible to know what another person knows, but it seems fundamentally impossible to know as he knows it, that is, "with the same subjectivity and by illumination of the same light."

To cite one mundane example, patients seemingly never remember what you think they will, but almost always pick up on some small point that you didn't consider important. Actually, the same thing happens with the blogging. Different people focus on entirely different points, often to the exclusion of what I considered the important one. Truly, it is a wonder that human beings can share so much truth and have so much common reality.

But what is the source of this commonality? It cannot be situated in the lower -- in multiplicity and outwardness. Rather, unity, if it is to be unity at all, must be inward and upward, toward a shared third, which is shared in intimacy -- similar to the way mother and father are brought closer together by the incredible intimacy they share with the baby, the generative "familial third" who reveals the purpose of their union. (And it doesn't have to be a baby, but the couple must surely share a common third which they mutually love, or else the relationship descends into narcissism and other problems.)

As Balthasar emphasizes -- and this is a subtle point -- "subjectivity is intimacy." He is the only other theologian -- and the only professional theologian, since I am strictly amochair -- of whom I am aware who locates the source of this intimacy in the mother-infant bond, a bond which ushers us not only into the world of the Other and therefore ourself, but into the intersubjective space that recreates the intimate and loving triune nature of God. Please note that one only becomes subjectively real in the context of an "intimate and loving containment." This is recreated later in life, in that to "fall in love" is to again become real, or to manifest the most intimately real part of ourselves.

Of note, serious disturbances in the mother-infant bond often result in a nagging feeling that one is "not real" (because one was never adequately contained), the result being that the person attempts to "create himself" with the construction of a false self, or "as if" personality. This is much more common than you may realize. I think many of these people become actors, because it is so easy for them to be someone else. The rest become politicians.

If Balthasar doesn't directly say it, then I will: we are only irreducibly intersubjective because God is. And if we weren't intersubjective, nothing would be real, including us. For in the end -- and beginning, actually -- it is our intersubjectivity with God, or O, which allows us to participate in the Real. Which is also the eternal, but that's another story.

Here again, one of the main reasons why I despise the ideas that animate the left is that they have no idea how precious this intersubjective commonality is, what with their obnoxious doctrines of multiculturalism and moral relativism. For surely these represent a flight from truth, away from the principles that unite us at a higher level. It is actually a descent in the direction of our animal nature, in that each animal species exists in its own sealed-off world separate from the others. You and I can never even imagine what it is like to be a dog, a lizard, or a fruitfly, any more than we can imagine what the cosmos was like before the human subject.

The multiculturalist says that "all perspectives are equally valid" (and even precious), which is a huge contradiction right out the gate, because obviously the perspective that all perspectives are valid must be higher than the perspective that says they're not! And it also means that we must respect those cultures not worthy of respect, such as the Muslim world, which is 180 degrees removed from this kind of multiculturalism.

This fuels the well-known arrogance and sanctimony at the heart of the leftist, which allows them to elevate themselves above you, even while pretending to be so egalitarian and tolerant. They actually demolish the subject by making him merely an extension of the culture. They also do violence to the mystery and intimacy of being, by identifying the subject with what is most outward, i.e., race, class, gender, etc. To turn a person into a race or class is to deny his personhood.

Again, what is the real source of human unity? How does our intrinsic finiteness ever translate to what is universally true and good? How do we bridge the infinite gap between separate subjects? America's founding avatars believed they had hit upin the solution: all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Why is this so important? Because it answers the question Bob posed at the outset of this post: who/what/where is the being without which I am not real?

In other words, I am no more ontologically real than the arbitrary granite block or secular blockhead if I am not real in the light of a higher Subject who transcends, binds, and defines me.

Put it this way: either you have a reason for being here, or you do not have a reason for being here. If you do have a reason, then it cannot be located in you. In fact, even the materialist must allow this realization through the back door. For example, for the metaphysical Darwinist, your reason for being is not within yourself, but in your offspring. Your reason is to perpetuate your genes; according to Richard Dawkins, your reason is your genes.

But what is the reason for genes, especially since they do not exist in the absence of a human subject who can define them? Simple: on the Raccoon view, the reason for genes is evolution, and the reason for evolution is God, who is both its origin and end, its alpha and omega. In short, the purpose of evolution is cosmotheosis, which is a doctrine that was held by many in the early church. That is, the shocking hominization of God is at the same time the otherwise impossible divinization of man, which is in turn the sanctification and salvation of the very cosmos.

Which, if you think about it, is the opposite of the way things stood prior to the emergence of man. As I attempted to make plain in my book, what we call history is really a kind of existentially naked streak from the trees of Africa to the aBrahmanic tree of life, whose roots are aloft and branches down below. What did I say? Here it is:

"I believe that history is a chronicle of our evolutionary sprint from biology to Spirit, in which we first climb down from the trees of east Africa and then up the metaphorical Upanishadic tree.... Thus, we start our evolutionary journey 'out on a limb' and soon find ourselves 'grounded,' but eventually find a 'radical' solution to our troubling situation, arriving at the 'root' of the cosmos ('radical,' of course, comes from the latin word for 'root')."

As such, not only has the left stolen the beautiful word "liberal," but they have also misappropriated the word "radical," for there is still nothing as radical as Christianity. If you really want to see radical change, just imagine if everyone, say, in Oakland, California, had the same values as everyone in Provo, Utah. Or imagine if the so-called Palestinians had Jewish values. Or if the Chinese had American values. If that were the case, this would be as close to paradise as we can get in this vale of tears.

But would that stop the left from their perpoutual bitter complaining? Of course not. For the fact remains, this will never be paradise, but they won't rest until it is. Even if it means recreating hell over and over. Never, ever imagine that the left does not believe in God or heaven. They just displace them to Man and earth. Which is why the left is so unreal.

I think I'm done.

*****

Coondog update -- that's her on the bottom:

31 Comments:

Anonymous Petey said...

First they came for the Coons, and we said nothing....

4/02/2009 09:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob wrote:

"Here again, one of the main reasons why I despise the left is..."

Despision is generally not recommended because it is not on the list of approve attitudes.

4/02/2009 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger QP said...

OT, but item of interest.

Rats! I missed The really Great One. Check the schedule; he might becoming your way.

4/02/2009 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Bob,

Your question is a powerful koan.

4/02/2009 10:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Co'on.

4/02/2009 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

More on why love and humor are central to God.

4/02/2009 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Basic coon survival skills from the underground.

4/02/2009 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Thanks for the Spengler link, Bob. It's another good way to look at the necessary veiling and revealing of the mystery, even if it does seem to be one doomed to eternal separation. But then, from the Jewish perspective I guess it makes perfect sense. As to the humor, I have it on good Authority that God does find us all very amusing.

4/02/2009 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Petey, where's PETA when ya need them?

Oooooh, that's so WRONG!

4/02/2009 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob writes:

"Subjectivity is intimacy" (Balthasar) = (he)
"locates the source of this intimacy in the mother-infant bond, a bond which ushers us not only in the world of the Other and therefore ourself, but into the intersubjective space that recreates the intimate and loving triune nature of God."

I can only speak from personal experience how/why I know this to be true.

Back in the year 85' my twin sons were born. Right from the get go the doc suspected it may be twins bec. my firm tummy measured larger than it should have for one baby. We had to wait for the ittybitty babies to grow some bef. the ultrasound test-date. Meantime, I had a dream....I'm in a maternity ward, the nurse brought in a beautiful baby boy. I protest "but, but I didn't have a baby yet." To which she responded, "You'll have two."

Turned out I was in the hospital a day early before their 'ushered' birth. Bec. it was a very snowy mid-winter and doc. said ," we don't want to risk having you to drive to the hospital in a snow storm (from another town) bec. of your history of fast deliveries."

(I was in the hospital with the first baby-birth 45 min. before she was born. With the second, at 1AM, saying, "false alarm", only to have her in my arms half an hour later.)

**
Every once in the while in the middle of the night I would hear my (one) son come into the room and standing next to the bed (next to me) saying a forlorn "mommy". Only to realize he was not actually there.
But it never failed...Each time I heard him 'next' to me, upon waking I would found he wasn't feeling well.

In those years the Mother in me wrote agonizing letters to the editor. Or, more like preaching essays. Pleading, "WHO WILL LOVE OUR CHILDREN?".
The Mother in me wept at the images of starving and dying children. . . .I could not, would not sit on my hands and at least express how I felt.

At workplace guy-friend showed my husband a newspaper clipping signed with my name and was greatly surprised it was his rock and roll looking wife who wrote that. (I worked there too bef. the babies were born, but kept mouth shut on such matters). A nurse from workplace send me a heartfelt letter with thanx, when she saw my letter- writing.

And this thought- is it possible to hear onese dying Mother who is thousands of miles away when she cried out my name?
Is it possible to hear one's sister in-law whisper excitedly my name few days before her passing?

...ummm, but that's another story, or many.

Theofilia

4/02/2009 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Robin:

Oddly enough, that video more or less depicts how I snatch these posts from the other side of the damn veil.

4/02/2009 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Actually, the same thing happens with the blogging. Different people focus on entirely different points, often to the exclusion of what I considered the important one. Truly, it is a wonder that human beings can share so much truth and have so much common reality."

Yep. And sometimes you can only watch and say... Oh

(BTW, in the previous sentence, "To cite one mundane example, patents seemingly never remember what you think they will," did you mean that there is no I before Eee!... or just typo'd 'patients'?)

4/02/2009 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Hm. this is an interesting bit of symbolism:

"So where does this rule about not touching the Queen come from? The sovereigns of England and France at some point in their nations' long histories claimed a divine right to rule, a right often amplified by titles bestowed by the Pope in Rome. (The Queen, in fact, still has the title Defender of the Faith, an honor given to Henry VIII before he broke with the Catholic Church and established the Church of England.) That touch of holiness once gave the occupant of the throne the supposed ability to cure certain diseases — most famously, scrofula, a terrible skin ailment that was called "the king's evil." Thus, the miraculous contact had to be conserved. And so, whether a touch or a nod or a gaze, royal favor, like that of God, is not a subject's on demand; it is dispensed by kingly prerogative." (emphasis mine)

In a bit of "as above, so below" one did not seize grace, it was meant to be freely bestowed by the source. So what happens when grace is not only callously handled, but in the handling probably isn't even recognized as existing at all? If the subject has no corresponding opening for the object, does the object exist for that subject?

In this case, probably nothing happens, inasmuch as grace ignored is grace not accepted and probably not received, but what if a little graceful seed was planted? Something that might cause an awakening? It's a nice thought, anyway. Odds are, if something started to sprout there it would get choked off by all the weeds.

4/02/2009 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous lame duck said...

"(And it doesn't have to be a baby, but the couple must surely share a common third which they mutually love, or else the relationship descends into narcissism and other problems.)"

So true! I find that even with all the differences that my spouse and I share, we mutually love and respect the marriage itself, and I believe that is partly what makes it work.

That, and grace above all.

4/02/2009 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I admit it, I'd love to see one of Bob's posts as a 3D video with Lego characters doing the talking. Even though all the wordplay wouldn't come through. (Via Lileks, whose example is here)

I have got to quit procrastinating...

4/02/2009 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Teofilia sez, "What likely story will she come up with next, I wonder?" - my Mother?

2002' - the Summer of John Paul's visit to Toronto's Youth Day Celebration. (I live oh, pretty close to Toronto, relatively speaking.)

One brother was the first one to travel to be with her when we got the word she was dying. Two brothers were there within a day or two after his return, plus (living there) sister. I could not afford to travel.
Not going to dwell on the how utterly awful it felt not to be able to be with her. In laws could have lend us the money but I'm not into begging.

Few days before her passing I was awakened by her agonizing cry for me (saying my name) - the one she gave and called me always. .

(In Canada I decided from day one to use an English version of my second name and it stuck.)

She cried out - I woke up and instantly glanced at the radio clock (out of habit bec. I kept a journal by my bedside)
It was pitch black...Thinking, "power must be out because it was raining and thundering a bit when I went to bed."
Railing with pain . . .none-the-less, I began talking to her as if I was next to her. . .Reminding her about God's love etc. Speaking of my love for her and gratitude. . .

For the longest time, loosing track of time . . .I knew I must not fall apart.
Next time I glanced at the radio clock and realized the power was never out!

Both brothers and sister burried her. Bros' returned 2 days later.

3 days after the funeral during zzz-time I became aware of a brilliant point of light which kept 'growing' bigger and bigger . . .All the while, tho I don't think in Polish I began in my mother tounge chanting, "Blessed Mary, Blessed Mary, Blessed Mary"...Then there was nothing but Bright Light when I heard behind me, Mother's voice softly say my name. (She had a 'gentle' voice.)
I shared my Mom's "Mother Mary smiled to me" story, and that she prayed the Rosary every night.

First thing in the morn' I first called my sister in PL. to share this blessed event. She curtly said "It was a dream." - end of discussion.

Next, I called my brother who saw her last before she passed. He said, "I was wondering if she would give me a sign, but I guess bec. you were not there she came to you."
Both other brothers were grateful to hear this.

Over the following year from time to time during my 'Shakti - flaming' (karma burning events) I would hear her speaking voice talking about regular stuff. Just snatches, but each time I would desolve into tears. The last time I heard her voice was (again) during extremly blissful 'flaming' (rush of energy) I heard her (with) awe-filled, clear as bell voice, say "And now we're flying to heaven."

4/02/2009 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops a bit of correction Theofilia 11:19 - The "nurse" called me heartfelt words. 'Twas J. who send me Thank You card with all the gush n' geegolly words praising my courage.

Theofilia

4/02/2009 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Behold, I give you the first raccoon dialogue. Sans raccoons, alas - they're not an option yet.

(Yes, I'm still procrastinating; this is much more amusing...)

4/02/2009 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

So love is more than a matter of pulling down one's genes and comparing gno'tes?

4/02/2009 03:27:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Can everybody else see coondog? Perhaps it's just this alien puter.

*********************

Another item on Levin's book today at AT:
In Defense of the Permanent Things

4/02/2009 07:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan said: "So love is more than a matter of pulling one's genes and comparing gno'tes"

The Soul, she gnows how to love truly. Early March (I think) I was first standing with folk-ppl. on a high look out cliff. Decided next to toss myself over the edge without a single though-desire in me'head. . .Am next floating above and along a wide river. Rose my right hand with all my concentration am drawing (in air) a perfectly perfect sign of the cross in a 'bendiction' kind of way.

Theofilia

4/02/2009 07:19:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Oh Julieeee...

4/02/2009 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! I luuuvs yum cake too!

Theofilia

4/02/2009 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ximeze - bubble gum weenies? That just seems so wrong on so many levels. I've heard of some of the others already, alas.

I don't know if I believe the bacon soda one (I can't find anything on it besides the article and the art page it linked), but if you google it you find hilarious questions like

"I was wondering how many boxes of bacon soda i need to put in a 6'000 gallon pool to keep the pH level good."

***
Coondog looks like she's having fun, even if she is on the bottom :)

4/02/2009 10:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Ximeze said...
Petey, where's PETA when ya need them?

Tryin' to save the "Sea Kittens" b attacking Big Fishstick companies which is part of the cabal of Big Cooking Oil, Big Lemon Juice and Big Tuna (a subsidiary of the Big Kahuna).


When they ain't actually killin' animals that is.

4/03/2009 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks for keepin' it Real, Bob! :^)

"To cite one mundane example, patients seemingly never remember what you think they will, but almost always pick up on some small point that you didn't consider important. Actually, the same thing happens with the blogging. Different people focus on entirely different points, often to the exclusion of what I considered the important one. Truly, it is a wonder that human beings can share so much truth and have so much common reality."

Aye! Good Bobservation. I'm often surprised, usually in a good way, when someone points out somethin' deep that I wasn't actually focusing on, or had not coonsidered much or at all.

Creating that third and sharin'. Don't happen very often with stories...at least how i write 'em, but when it does, there's a big Ho! to be had, that's fer sure!

4/03/2009 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Or, sometimes a Coon will pick up on somethin' I think they have picked up on when in reality they meant somethin' else, which can result in a twofer or threefer.

Okay, ferget what I said, it's late. Jest read Bob's post again. Ha ha!

4/03/2009 05:53:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Btw, excellent post... just didn't have anything to add. This morning however brought it into tangible view, when I caught a couple minutes of Obaba's frenchie townhall; it was telling that when defending democracy (of course… republic or republicanism, being unthinkable) he said "Democracy that promotes liberty, equality and fraternity", rather than "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

Egalitarianism over Individual Rights, quantity over quality, results over rights.

I don't think he was just being nice to the frogs, no doubt he prefers Rousseau and his ilk, to Jefferson and the Founders... the fact that Rousseau ‘inspired’ Marat, Robespierre and the rest of the boys to lead the first fascist revolution, followed by dictatorship war and a century of revolutions, may or may not have been lost on him.

He also said he was pleased to have a nice talk with Medvedev about reducing our nuclear weaponry, and that "We need to reduce our nuclear weapons in order to have the moral authority to negotiate with Iran."

We need to enhance our moral authority, in order to negotiate with Iran.

Oh my....

"Which leads to the question: who/what/where is the being without which I am not real?"

The answer of course, (whether religiously, secularly or conceptually) is that which is from Above.

And of course the reverse question, are you even a who/what/where without that source, and the answer is No, and the flatlanders know it - See their Art - they know that is true, they show that that is true. So... how real and whole can you be if you reject the source which defines, animates and lifts you above the plane plain?

The answer is not so much. And if you've rejected the quality which all share - then you are alone and in peril, you need to grab onto a group, the bigger the better, a corporate 'one' with huge quantities extending outwards, forcing all down to be as flat as the rest, and you know it.

But what will the group organize around? Flattening, leveling, egalitarianism. If higher meaning is out, then perceptually active purpose is in, and if you can't look upwardly inwards towards a higher Quality, you can only grasp outwards towards quantities, mass quantities, ever expanding the size and sound of your group - either through absorbing, or destroying, other groups - as long as there are others, you are both threatened and a threat.

"Liberty, equality and fraternity" is the opposite of "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", or rather it is a 2D caricature of the 3D.

Hesiod, John of Patmos (and even (forgive me) John Galt)... described what would be the obvious result of individuals abandoning Truth, higher virtues and self control; the state amassing unlimited power to impose order and obedience on all. If we aren't all united through our choices to recognize one truth from within and above, then you will be forced into compliance from without and placed under one thumb.

Happy days are here aga....

4/03/2009 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Van-
Well said! Kinda makes me wonder why the anarchists are so violently protesting. I mean, they got one of their guys leading the G-20 summit.

Unless they perceive the social fascism (fascist socialism) behind his thinking.

Naw. Anarchists just ain't that smart. It's all about the hypocrisy and irony, which they'll never see.

4/03/2009 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Here again, one of the main reasons why I despise the left is that they have no idea how precious this intersubjective commonality is, what with their obnoxious doctrines of multiculturalism and moral relativism. For surely these represent a flight from truth, away from the principles that unite us at a higher level.

As usual, you are attacking a grossly distorted picture of what "the left" believes, and inverting the truth in the process. Whatever multiculturalism's faults may be, its intent is to broaden the definition of humanity, to acknowledge both its diversity and its unity, and to increase the opportunities for intersubjectivity. I fail to see how your approach of condemning non-Americans to the outer darkness serves to promote intersubjective commonality or any sort of unity.

I'm not going to start an argument about multiculturalism -- much too subtle and complex a topic for this forum. But I thought you might be interested in this post of mine that defends the notion of the psychic unity of mankind from attacks from the right.

4/03/2009 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

“I fail to see how your approach of condemning non-Americans to the outer darkness…”

Your assumption that an inner awareness is assumed, conferred or excluded, by virtue of being ‘American’ or ‘non-Americans’, shows the depth of your own ignorance and racism.

Your posts closing with “The left stresses our commonalities; the racist right would like to magnify differences.” , shows that you are permanently rooted in material and outward appearances, while at the same time determinedly trying to pretend to ignore them.

IOW’s, your failed attempt at grasping interiority reflects what you fail to see, and results from having your head firmly up where it doesn’t belong - you’ll have to change your teleological ends, before you are able to stop arriving at where you continually aim for.

4/03/2009 12:50:00 PM  

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