Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Remembering Your Allforabit and Mythsemantics

Let's talk about words -- which is all a deconstructionist thinks you can talk about, language being a self-referential system of symbols. But human language rides piggyback on a much deeper reality that penetrates to the very source and possibility of truth. If that weren't the case, then we couldn't even have language at all.

First of all, language presupposes a special kind of world in which one thing can stand for another. The word "symbol" means to throw together or across, and this is indeed the function of language, except that language bridges two realities that are already language. Truly, in the beginning was and is the Word.

For example, take a simple description of a material object. As we have already discussed, appearance itself is a kind of language, specifically, the language of being. We have a word for being, that is, being; but being has an infinite and inexhaustible number of words for itself. Being is always hidden beneath or behind the appearance, and yet, never stops revealing itself. Thus, we have to visualize a kind of continuous flow, as from a mountain spring, or from Dupree's magic keg.

Now, the same principle applies to life, mind, and spirit. We can talk about each of these, but we must not confuse our language with theirs. For example, let's take DNA. Is DNA really the "language of life?" Or is, let us say, "joy" or "ananda" or "bliss" the language of life? We'll get back to that question later.

But even to say that DNA is the language of life is to say that life has a language -- that it speaks. As HvB puts it, "The leaf, the flower, and the fruit are, of course, beautiful and pleasing even as appearances, but they demand to be interpreted as the revelations of the life principle at work in them, which does not appear as such."

Obviously, no single expression could ever exhaust or contain the "life principle," for, like being itself, it is a constant flow of living words from depth to surface. This flow is the life principle. Thus, "only when we understand the depth along with the surface" does life itself "take on a decipherable meaning." To only skim along the surface of life is to miss the mark entirely.

The problem is only compounded when this principle is applied to the level of mind, which provides us with an intimate, first hand experience of the flowing structure of reality as such. As a matter of fact -- you will forgive my gnostalgia -- I discussed this at length in my doctoral dissertation, which was published in two lengthy articles back in the early '90s. You could summarize my views with a quotation from one of the twentieth century's great physicists, Werner Heisenberg, which appears at the beginning of the dissertation:

The same organizing forces that have created nature in all its forms, are responsible for the structure of our soul, and likewise our capacity to think.

I don't see how one could argue with that statement and still call oneself a scientist. Nevertheless, it is the kind of statement that is utterly beyond the scientistic Queegs and queeglings of the world, who only communicate surface to surface, like ants bumping their heads together and exchanging their precious bodily fluids.

I'm afraid that this post is beginning to get out of hand. The subject is so vast that it's starting to escape the ability of a mere post to contain it. You could say that it's slipping the surly bonds of human language. I'll see what I can do about that. I'll try not to harm reality too much in reining it in.

Okay. Let's get back to Balthasar. He writes that "the sounds of a word do not betray the essence of the speaker in the same way that, for example, his tone of voice or the laughter accompanying his speech expresses something of his frame of mind." Speech "spans the arc between inside and outside," but nevertheless "forbids any direct intuition [I would say perception] of the essence that speaks itself."

This is a key insight, for not only does language span the distance between word and thing, but even more mysteriously, between inside and outside.

I believe we can see how this applies to each level of reality: matter, life, mind, and spirit. To talk as if there is only an outside is to miss the ultimate significance of language altogether.

Here again, this would be our principle beef with the Queegs of the world, who use the gift of language to deny and reject the gift. It is what makes them so ungrateful, on the one hand, but also so boring and repetitive, since they use language in such a way as to sever it from its dynamic ground and source. It's a self-enclosed hell to which they are welcome. I understand Queeg played on a number of records in the past. But now he is a broken record, and records weren't made to be broken.

Here is the other quotation that accompanied the one by Heisenberg. It's from Finnegans Wake: When a part so ptee does duty for the holos, we soon grow to use of an allforabit.

Now, what does that mean, and why did I think that it was so important that it should appear at the beginning of my dissertation? Om my word! I can think of about a dozen reasons off the tip of my geistberg. For a human being is the petit part who is able to know the holy-whole through the magic allforabit of language.

Indeed, man himself is the allforabit, that is, the microcosm who stretches vertically from shore to cosmic shore and seen to shining seer. We stand on one shore and reach to the other, so you could even say that man is the word of the cosmos. Except we are not the last word, because, try as we might, we cannot span the distance. For that we require the first word, which is none other than Alpha. And Alpha is just the shadow of Omega, cast back in time. Indeed, this is how God can telos all about himsoph down and out here.

So, if you're still following me, Jesus is the ultimate allforabit, is he not? Indeed, the human bit could not contain his overflowing All, which is why the latter could even vanquish death, similar to how life makes easy work of the laws governing matter. For Spirit is to mind as mind is to life as life is to matter. Note that the first and last Word is at the top, not the bottom. And the last word is not "nothing" but "everything."

But the Word is always in service to its Mutterer and Father. "Thus, the word is able to reveal much more by effacing itself in service than by emphasizing itself in dominion" (HvB). Therefore, it is expedient that I go away now. But don't worry. I'll leave you with my allforabit.

45 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Haven't read yet, but just noticing the Van Morrison in the sidebar. Have you been by Robin's today?

5/13/2009 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

"the sounds of a word do not betray the essence of the speaker in the same way that, for example, his tone of voice or the laughter accompanying his speech expresses something of his frame of mind."

Therein is the downside of purely written communication. But at the same time, sometimes more can come across by writing; for instance, most of your puns would be easily missed if spoken and not read. Or I can come across as halfway intelligent, since I have time to actually organize my thoughts into coherent sentences.

5/13/2009 08:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Northern Bandit said...

Fine post today. One that requires at least three readings before I can start to really soak it in.

On another front, David Goldman (a.k.a. Spengler) today provides the most cogent and reflective take on the "torture issue" that I've yet seen:

The Torture Debate Shows Our Vulnerability to Radical EvilI agree with him that torture must remain illegal, but with a Presidential pardon available for those rare cases when "blowtorch and pliers" are the only possible option when thousands of lives are at stake.

5/13/2009 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

He also has some more personal observations on his Spengler blog, here.

5/13/2009 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Being is always hidden beneath or behind the appearance, and yet, never stops revealing itself. Thus, we have to visualize a kind of continuous flow, as from a spring, or from Dupree's magic keg.

The cosmic spring is so...tiny!

5/13/2009 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Iowahawk: The Barack Obama Celebrity Roast

5/13/2009 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good piece on torture by Sowell. He mentions an important angle about how "when a criminal shoots at a policeman and the policeman shoots back, physical equivalence is not moral equivalence."

It seems that it is difficult for most secular materialists to appreciate this obvious distinction, whereas the majority of religious people don't have that moral blindness.

5/13/2009 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I think The Sayings of Petey needs to be at least a chapter in your next book, Bob.

the majority of religious people don't have that moral blindness.

Hence the results of that recent poll showing that Christians were overwhelmingly in favor of "enhanced interrogation techniques." Lefty heads were exploding everywhere over that one.

5/13/2009 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

If Christianity is to reappear today with its power and joy and courage, men must recapture the basic conviction that this is a Visited Planet. It is not enough to express formal belief in the "Incarnation" or in the "Divinity of Christ"; the staggering truth must be accepted afresh--that in this vast, mysterious Universe, of which we are an almost infinitesimal part, the great Mystery, Whom we call God, has visited our planet in Person. It is from this conviction that there springs unconquerable certainty and unquenchable faith and hope. It is not enough to believe theoretically that Jesus was both God and Man; not enough to admire, respect, and even worship Him; it is not even enough to try to follow Him. The reason for the insufficiency of these things is that the modern intelligent mind, which has had its horizons widened in dozens of different ways, has got to be shocked afresh by the audacious central Fact--that, as a sober matter of history, God became one of us.~J. B. Phillips, New Testament Christianity

Bob, the allforabit post, like so many former ones, not to mention the Coonifesto, are like fresh electric shocks to my unconscious, dogma system - in a most healthy, reviving way, for which I am grateful. Lessbay ouyay.

5/13/2009 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

qp - Awesome quote! As I was reading it I was hearing an Indian accent and fully expected it to be attributed to Ravi Zacharias (who I also love). Funny, huh?

FWIW - I'm really sensing a lot of heightened Reality setting into the world around me lately...and a whole lot of growing discomfort from the halls of evil.

"Battle lines being drawn..."

Oh, and great post today Bob!

5/13/2009 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

"Being is always hidden beneath or behind the appearance, and yet, never stops revealing itself. Thus, we have to visualize a kind of continuous flow, as from a mountain spring, or from Dupree's magic keg."

Lucky bastard.

5/13/2009 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"I believe we can see how this applies to each level of reality: matter, life, mind, and spirit. To talk as if there is only an outside is to miss the ultimate significance of language altogether."

Well said, Bob. Heck, even Dupree's post the other day coonveyed more than a mere outside language. Only the Queegs could see that as shallow and totally miss the greater, deeper message (not to mention blindness to the point in general).

This also explains why trolls for the most part can't get the humor in your posts. They are tone deaf. So they take what is clearly meant as humor (or a bobservation) as a personal attack. Which is quite a leap into the abyss.

5/13/2009 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Therein is the downside of purely written communication. But at the same time, sometimes more can come across by writing; for instance, most of your puns would be easily missed if spoken and not read."

Good point, Julie. Both forms of coonmunication have younique advantages.

I'm kinda hard of hearing (which tends to happen when 500 pound bombs go off unexpectedly and very close) so I have closed captioning for our tv.
Anyways, I will sometimes miss something that's said in a whisper, or a background noise you can only hear with the volume all the way up, but it will be described in the cc.
Not to mention the advantages you mention (so that's what they were sayin'!).

It's also kinda funny for the news, because when it's live most of the transcriptionists can't spell the simplest of words, and some can't keep up. I do hope that medical transcriptionists are of a higher quality. :^)

5/13/2009 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

More reasons to love B16
Catholic TV Says Vatican Will Step In-- Obama Will Be Disinvited to Notre Dame

5/13/2009 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Wow - now that's backbone. I wonder what the fallout will be; the One doesn't handle rejection very well.

5/13/2009 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“But human language rides piggyback on a much deeper reality that penetrates to the very source and possibility of truth.”

I’m not sure the potential, the complete extent of the capabilities, of what we call “language” can even be remotely calculated with say mathematics. There is roughly a finite number of words in English, or any language, if you don’t count Bob’s, and so the combinations (if that’s all language is) should be also limited. If I could get my mind around the result of those factors it still seems as though the potential for expression is practically infinite. It seems to me, considering averages and statistics and such, after x,000 years or whatever the length of time we people have been communicating, there should be a lot more duplication, or near duplication of written things and complete nonsense combinations of words than the variety and utterly beautiful writing that keeps arriving, time after time, age after age. And I don’t think we’ve even made a dent. If you limited yourself to a paragraph I’m certain you could write one that’s never been written. How is that possible after all this time? How is it that I can be certain?

5/13/2009 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Ben!

5/13/2009 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You've reminded me of the eulogy of a famous mathematician, of whom it was said that "his contribution to the discipline was incalculable."

5/13/2009 05:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Famous Mathematician said...

ROIMGL!

5/13/2009 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Because the suspense is killing you:
Rolling Over In My Grave Laughing

5/13/2009 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Here's an even funnier one. Of a famous Darwinian, it was said that "he devoted his life the selfless pursuit of truth, regardless of the consequences."

5/13/2009 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I love it.

Bob, this is also your fault.
Thank you.

5/13/2009 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or the materialist, of whom it was said that "he had cast aside mankind's childish religious beliefs, in favor of the notion that mind could disclose the secrets of the universe."

5/13/2009 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Or like the notion about enough monkeys, pianos and time and then presto the works of Shakespeare. Like monkeys are that stupid they’d waste their time slaving over a hot symphony and not chasing bananas. Please.

5/13/2009 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

There’s one o’ them paragraphs I was talking about.
Call the patent office.

5/13/2009 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Me & the wife have a longstanding game of "I bet no one's ever said that before."

5/13/2009 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ricky,
Because the suspense is killing you:
Rolling Over In My Grave Laughing


You've saved me an evening of agony. Thanks :)

5/13/2009 06:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Cory said...

Completely OT but I thought I would post the link anyway:

http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2009&month=04

Apologies if this has been posted before.

5/13/2009 07:19:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Julie, at rate he's going I ready to start calling B16 Benny the Bouncer in the mode of the ELP song.

The One has other chihuahuas nipping at his ankles to keep him occupied. Our buddy Jacobson has a fine post up today about this.

5/13/2009 07:52:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Thanks Cory, I'd not read that Steyn piece.

5/13/2009 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

Nomo, J.B. Philips is new to me, but he's quite well-known for his translation of the Bible, "The New Testament in Modern English".

Here's a comparison, side by side, sample.

5/13/2009 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

Cory - Ditto What Ximeze Said, Steyn is so cute, on so many levels. I could hear his accent and cadence while reading that article.

5/13/2009 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Is DNA really the "language of life?" Or is, let us say, "joy" or "ananda" or "bliss" the language of life? We'll get back to that question later. "

More like a programming language, a set of instructions, meaningless without language and one who speaks it.

"Speech "spans the arc between inside and outside," but nevertheless "forbids any direct intuition [I would say perception] of the essence that speaks itself."

There ya go.

5/13/2009 09:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am always surprised to hear people advocate torture. In the case of a policeman who is being shot at, he is defending his life, and the lives of others.
In the case of a CAPTURED, but not CONVICTED alledged terrorist, it is simply a question, one that is deeply moral, of the captured, but not convicted terrorist's (again, alledged) humanity. What all civilized people have agreed on, is that all humans (all of them) are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Once they are convicted, in a court, by a jury of their peers, of actual terrorism, then all bets are off. Until then, individual officers of the law simply cannot be allowed to harm them.

5/13/2009 09:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Basil Wrathbone said...

Once they are convicted, in a court, by a jury of their peers, of actual terrorism, then all bets are off.

Really?! So it's ok to torture after a conviction? Cool! Wait till the warden hears about this!

5/13/2009 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnywuss said “What all civilized people have agreed on, is that all humans (all of them) are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Once they are convicted, in a court, by a jury of their peers, of actual terrorism, then all bets are off. Until then, individual officers of the law simply cannot be allowed to harm them.”

What truly civilized people understand is that there is no relation between the civil jurisdiction of law, and a theatre of war. A Terrorist, captured on a battlefield, or taken behind our own lines, is afforded no civil protections whatsoever, but only the military codes of warfare – which still say, that those combatants captured out of uniform are subject to summary execution on the spot, or as befits the purposes of those who captured them.

Combatants captured deliberately out of uniform, masquerading as a civilian – the norm for terrorists – are beneath contempt or regard, their purpose is to bring war, in their person or conduct, to civilians, deliberately and purposefully.

They have excluded themselves from civilized conduct and its protections – the only regard to be considered, is that of our military personal, and whether or not certain actions, such as harsh interrogation, are damaging to their well being.

The only legitimate complication, is that when captured within our boundaries, it is of course important to determine whether or not they are a citizen, an authorized alien, or a combatant, but here again, the object is NOT to determine whether or not they are legally innocent or guilty, but only whether or not they are civilian or combatant.

You, and leftists in general, wish to take a sub childish position, that of applying cardboard cutout definitions of concepts, out of context, and so stripped of their meaning, in order to paint the world as you wish it were, but as with most modern art, your efforts are ugly and without art or thought.

5/13/2009 10:22:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Oooooh lookit Raccoons:
New Testament Christianity by JB Phillips quoted in QP's comment is available online. Some of his other writings also at that site.

Additionally, his Your God Is Too Small in printable zipped text.

5/13/2009 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Going back to the jokes, did you hear about the materialist who discovered all the secrets of DNA? He found out even his dog didn't love him.

Sucks to be that guy.

5/13/2009 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Fido said...

Julie,
The boss got me this t-shirt for secretary’s day that says:
make lunch, not war
I don’t know what I love more, how much he laughs every time I put it on, or the fact that I’m not his secretary.

5/14/2009 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger Fido said...

Watch this…

“Hey, Pavlov!”

5/14/2009 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Ho! ho! ho! ho! ho!

5/14/2009 05:48:00 AM  
Blogger Fido said...

Like ringing the dinner bell..

5/14/2009 05:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The only legitimate complication, is that when captured within our boundaries, it is of course important to determine whether or not they are a citizen, an authorized alien, or a combatant, but here again, the object is NOT to determine whether or not they are legally innocent or guilty, but only whether or not they are civilian or combatant."

Indeed Van, you have hit the nail on the head. And, unless the world is a theater of war, then all alleged terrorists have to be dealt with that way. Unless of course, we have declared war on the world, but I have yet to hear that Congress (the only constitutional body that can legally declare war) has declared war on the world.

5/14/2009 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger QP said...

Oops, looks like I lied, but I just forgot, 'til, thankfully, Ximeze mentioned "Your God is Too Small". UndercoverOperation

5/14/2009 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Anonymous said "And, unless the world is a theater of war, then all alleged terrorists have to be dealt with that way."

Terrorist org's (some as cover for craven states who wish to remain blamed less) from around the world, have declared war on us, and not to respond seriously to that... results in 9/11's.

"Unless of course, we have declared war on the world, but I have yet to hear that Congress (the only constitutional body that can legally declare war) has declared war on the world."

Which is somehting that I've been uncomfortable (putting it politely) with from the start. Our being in a defacto War footing with no readily recognizable way to say it is ongoing or over, is dangerous stuff, heady stuff for any would be tyrant who comes along with even less regard for the Constitution than his predecessors had.

The problem, as Bush AND congress discovered, was that going to war with the terrorists who have declared war upon us... and who represent no definable nation state... puts us on even more difficult ground because of our myriad 'treaties', than NOT declaring war. If you think the mushy understandings surrounding 'torture' has been difficult, that would have paled had we declared 'War!' against an undefined Nation... which is what world understanding of war revolves around.

Politicians being what they are, always looking for a way out of making a decision... avoided it, by way of saying that "Because of our treaty obligations... we can declare war... so we're not going to. But we ARE at war. Capiche?"

We do need to extricate ourselves from meaningless treaties and agreements, and even more so, reach an understanding of just how this new type of war is to be defined, identified, and declared. The one thing I will agree upon is that our current undeclared state of war, war, is unacceptable. And dangerous.

5/14/2009 11:12:00 AM  

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