Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Evolution and the Divinization of Man

Okay, so now I'm completely sidetracked. While I'm still blogging about volume one, I'm now up into volume three of The Glory of the Lord, which has a chapter on the 19th century Russian philosopher, theologian, prophet, mystic, and all-around holy man, Vladimir Soloviev.

I'd come across the name before, but never followed up. Now I'm so preoccupied, that it's difficult to pick up the thread from where we left off yesterday. Might as well get it out of my system. Or, as John Lee Hooker said, let that boy boogie woogie, 'cause it's in him and it got to come out!

This all happened at around bedtime last night, so I ended up staying up late on a wild nous chase. Here's what initially caught my attention:

"Soloviev's skill in the technique of integrating all partial truths in one vision makes him perhaps second only to Thomas Aquinas as the greatest artist of order and organization in the history of thought."

As the note to myself in margin puts it, (?!).

Balthasar goes on to say that "There is no system that fails to furnish him with substantial building material, once he has stripped and emptied it of the poison of its negative aspects" -- including Darwin and evolutionism. Which naturally made me think of Aurobindo, who was floating in just as Soloviev was floating out (Soloviev died in 1900; Aurobindo began his outpouring in about 1912 or so).

So then I'm thinking to mysoph, "maybe this guy already accomplished the Aurobindonization of Christianity (so to speak), so my work here is finished, except that no one knows about him." Hmm.

Balthasar goes on to claim that Soloviev's is "the most universal intellectual construction of modern times," and is "beyond question the most profound vindication and the most comprehensive philosophical statement of Christian totality in modern times." He brings the "whole ethical and theoretical scheme to perfection in a universal theological aesthetic."

Furthermore, "Soloviev's thinking has an urgency attained by no one since Hegel, and it operates on the same level as Hegel's," that is, in the highest reaches of Absolute Spirit. (Of course, many people have compared Hegel and Aurobindo in that regard, at least in broad outline.)

So, who wouldn't be curious? I read a little further, and discovered that Soloviev honed in on the ideas of process (anticipating Whitehead) and evolution (anticipating Teilhard), which provide a master key -- both macro- and microcosmically -- in the sense outlined in my book, i.e, Cosmotheosis:

"By this means, the total meaning of the world's evolution is clearly established for the future: the development of humanity and the totality of the world into the cosmic body of Christ, the realization of the eschatological relation of mutuality between the incarnate Word and Sophia" (Balthasar), in a profound marriage of cosmic coonvenience.

Or, put it this way (and this has an obvious Aurobindean flavor, in terms of the divine descent and the divinization of Man): "The theme and content of Soloviev's aesthetic is nothing less than this: the progressive eschatological embodiment of the Divine Idea in worldly reality."

On the one hand, "the Divine Spirit is indeed in and for itself the highest reality, while the material being of the world is in itself no more than indeterminacy, an eternal pressure toward and yearning after the form" (↑).

In turn, "the impress of the limitless fulness and determinacy of God [acts] upon the abyss of cosmic potentiality" (↓). The human state is the conscious meeting place of this metacosmic (↑) and (↓), but only because O took on human form and now dwells in human nature.

So we live in a kind of spiritual whirlpool or dynamic process-structure created by the vertical energies of (↑↓), which in turn have a "purifying" effect, somewhat like the rinse cycle in your washing machine, which baptizes the garments in clean water and spins out the entropic impurities.

Soloviev refers to the "conquest" of the nondivine, through which God can "manifest his plenitude and totality and cause it to prevail even in what is opposed to it -- in what is finite, separated, egotistically divided, evil." In other words, the (↑↓) process automatically lifts us out of the closed system of our finite state, while simultaneously "cleansing" us of various personal and cultural parasites.

On the other hand, materialism is like trying to wash clothes in the drier. In that case, the impurities are simply baked in.

Soloviev also makes room for the divinization (as opposed to obliteration) of the individual personality, which, of course, is of great interest to a Raccoon, especially me.

Specifically, Soloviev's thought integrates "all partial points of view and forms of actualization into an organic totality that annuls and uplifts all things in a manner that preserves that which is transcended," i.e., you. What is specifically preserved -- and this is a very Coonish sentiment -- is

"the eternal, ideal kernel of every person in so far as it has been integrated into the entirety of the cosmic body of God.... There is no ultimate absorption of all things into an absolute spiritual subject."

Again, evolution; it is not as if the Kingdom of God crashes down into history once and for all. Rather, the Kingdom "must necessarily grow into maturity just as much from within," like any other organismic entity.

True, Christ is dropped down into history at a certain point, but it is not as if the human soil didn't have to be prepared for thousands of years, nor does it mean that we don't have to nurture and gradually assimilate this divine explosion as it ramifies through history. Again, timelessness takes time.

As Soloviev explains, this ultimate divine descent becomes a kind of fixed foundation planted within the middle of change, as opposed to being the principle of change. What is therefore sought "is a humanity to answer to this Divinity," that is, "a humanity capable of uniting itself" with this object. Evolution no longer implies an absurd, open-ended nihilism with no ground or goal, but the very basis of hominization and its fulfillment in Homo noeticus.

This then becomes "the active principle of history, the principle of motion and progress," as man evolves toward what he already is in essence, thanks to the grand-me-down of the Son, or our adopted brother. "The outcome must be man divinized, that is, the humanity that has taken the Divine into itself." And vice versa, so that the world becomes "the vessel and the vehicle of absolute being."

What, you have something more important to do?

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Moon Shining at Midday

For anyone who sees -- or who believes they can see -- real beauty in the world, Christianity offers the ultimate vindication, since it permits us "to possess the infinite within the finitude of form" (Balthasar). Again, for the irreligious anthropocentrist, beauty necessarily withers and disintegrates under the crushing weight of a barbarous materialism, or, at the other end, an effete idealism that swallows up the finite within the infinite, denying the dignity and nobility of the former.

You could say that with Christianity, male and female (i.e., Absolute and Infinite) are harmonized and love hopefully ever after. We needn't divorce the primordial couple and grant custody of our lives to One or the (M)other. But the materialist gives custody of his soul to mamamaya, while the idealist gives it to papurusha (in Vedanta, purusha is the masculine principle which "witnesses" the play of maya, the eternal feminine).

Since God manifests as the wholeness of beauty, we must enter a mode that is adequate to this beauty, since beauty always transcends the components through which it expresses itself. According to Balthasar, faith is the theological act of perception. And naturally, this faith must be with the whole being -- heart, mind, and soul -- in order to be adequate to the wholeness we seek. This would be one of the meanings of "no one comes to the father but through me," because faith in the Son objectively reveals the beauty of the Father (i.e., he is the Form of the Formless, not in some secondary manner, but intrinsically so).

Or am I off base? I'm not a theologian, but I play one in cyberspace. Let's just say it makes sense to me so far.

Speaking of which, one of the reasons I still hesitate to join a formal organization (aside from the Raccoons) is that I would have a hard time with someone saying to me, "nope. Can't think that. This is the proper way." That may well be the case, but I still need to discover these truths independently, or they might never be realized in me. Or, put it this way: I find it very.... bracing to independently discover and realize this or that transcendent truth, even (or especially!) when it's been discovered millions of times before by earlier pneumanauts. On the other hand, I find it tedious to merely learn it. It's like the difference between reading about love vs. falling in love, or studying child development vs. having a child.

Obviously, I give great weight to precedent and tradition. But say, in the case of Balthasar, I'm not merely trying to "learn" from him, much less memorize his ideas. Rather, I am attempting to enter his world, so that I might begin to see what he sees. And I am doing so in faith, because I am quite sure that he is someone worthy of my entrusting it to him. How do I know this? Well, first of all, judge the tree according to its fruits, and I'm feeling pretty fruity lately, even if I only understand about half of what he's talking about and just bobtize the rest.

Here, this is good: elsewhere, Balthasar says that "Faith is the light of God becoming luminous in man," for in the end, "God is known only by God." So faith is the dark light with which God sees himself through us.

Which reminds me of a vivid dream I had the other night. The idea of the "sun shining at midnight" is a common metaphor for the mystical experience, in which plunging ourselves into the deepest darkness reveals the brightest light. But in this dream, the moon was shining at midday. It was a moon as bright as the sun, setting out over the ocean.

I meditated on this image, and it made me think of gnosis (the good kind), through which we are able to apprehend the subtle light of God even amidst the overpowering brightness of the material world. I would even go so far as to say that cOOnvision is nothing less than "the mOOn shining at midday," through which our night vision is preserved even within the blinding brightness of the day. A materialist knows only the midday sun, as his faculties are too dense to apprehend anything more subtle than that.

So the first thing we must cultivate is this subtle "light of faith," which can more or less become extinguished if not tended to and nurtured. Here again, this is quite different from the manner in which religion was presented to me as a young kit, and which made it so easy to reject and even ridicule. For it is not simply a matter of transferring "the psychology of the purely human belief in testimony onto the Christian faith," as if we are studying something as concrete as matter.

I am reminded of something James mentioned in a comment about the intelligent design/evolution debate:

"Both sides of the ID/Ev debate want to be seen as doing 'science' as the term is presently accepted, which (in their context) means they want to be seen as doing biology. This is why I see the whole debate as an inner-biological turf war. So long as all sides are insisting 'I am doing biology' I don’t see how my opinion is of any ultimate importance."

As you no doubt recall, I mentioned this point on page 38 of the Coonifesto: "And yet, our wonderment at the mere order of the universe -- marvelous though it may be -- is misplaced. Both the scientific priesthood and the creationist countermovement make much of this order, but to opposite ends (one to prove the necessity of a creator, the other to prove a creator unnecessary). Either way, a metaphysics of order is a metaphysics of the dead-on-arrival past, an eternally frozen or repetitive universe seen through the rearview mirror of mathematical invariance."

James points out that "the upshot of no one respecting the rigor of theology, and everyone respecting the rigor of science, is that when people want rigorous arguments for God’s existence they turn to physics or biology or thermodynamics, etc. Let ‘em go if they want to. They can see what the modern sciences will give them. In the meantime, theology still remains with all of its rigor, all of its certainty, all of its non-hypothetical knowledge, and a whole cache of proofs that work regardless of how the ID/Ev debate falls out.

"And yes, some of the arguments that theology has are design arguments. The design arguments (as St. Thomas articulates them) work just fine regardless of whether living species came to exist by chance. St. Thomas, following Aristotle, never denied that many things arise by chance."

The point is, the ID proponents are in a way as metaphysically hamhanded as those they would presume to defeat, because they are still conceding true theology to science, instead of developing a mode of perception adequate to the theological object. Once you accomplish the latter, then you realize that of course the cosmos manifests a deep intelligence and beautiful order on every level. How could it not? If intelligent people want to spend their lives proving that intelligence doesn't exist, let 'em go nuts, since they already are anyway.

For as Balthasar writes, "When the spirit attains to real Being it necessarily touches God, the source and ground of all Being. The spirit's horizon is not confined to worldly being, but extends to absolute Being, and only in this light can it think, will, and love; only in this light of Being does it possess language as the power to know and to name existents. Otherwise, no proof of God could ever be formulated, or be in any way conclusive." For it is "only here in the innermost sanctum of the spirit that the deeper and higher light of the self-disclosing God can shine out of the light of Being."

By first becoming adequate to this Being through the grace of faith, grace then assimilates us into its endless depths. The moon shines at midday. Congratulations. You are a loony Coon.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Voidgin Births, Immaculate Coonceptions, and Speaking Obonics

Originally posted exactly two years ago today, and I wouldn't change a single word of it. Therefore, I changed quite a few.

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In order to novelgaze at a fresh world each day, one must train oneself -- wait, that's too general. I will speak only of myself.

In order for me to blog something different about the good nous every day, I have had to train mysoph to listen more carefreely to the smallstool voice of Petey, who is actually dropping little fragrant pellets of wisdom all the time. In fact, one of the helpful tidbits he shared with me is that he has always been sharing these helpful tidbits with me, but that I was so "dense" that I treated them like turdbits.

And when I say "dense" I mean dense, as in "dense." One must learn to "tune into" the remarkable subtlety of one's own mind, which truly has a mind of its own, just like the Dreamer who dreams your dreams. The difference, say, between a common materialist and a man of genuine spiritual achievement is merely a few immeasurable microns of psychic subtlety.

I can say this because my mind is -- pretty much by definition -- no more intelligent than it has ever been, and yet, much more subtle than it has ever been, in the sense of being able to see and understand spiritual realities. As a result, I "know" things today that I couldn't possibly have known 10 or 15 years ago. But at the same time -- at risk of smelling blasfumy -- Christ himself couldn't have taught me these things back then. They could have been handed to me on a silver platter, but I would have rejected them with a silvery platitude. The yolk would have wasted on my infertile egghead.

[Most of you may not relate to this, but I experienced an auditory analogue of this subtlety last week when visiting the in-laws. My F in L has a pair of Martin Logan speakers, which operate along completely different principles -- and a very different price range -- than standard speakers. I have no idea how the the technology works, but it's called "electrostatic"; notice how you can see through them.

[Anyway, the bottom line is a very different aural experience. Obviously hard to write about sound, any more than you can dance about architecture, but the music had a distinctly "airy," "transparent" and "shimmery" quality. Also, the sound image definitely couldn't be located as emanating from any source, but was suspended there holographically before me. Instead of the sound coming "at" me, it was as if I were "within" it. The point is, the speakers weren't just quantitatively better, but qualitatively better. Same "information," new experience. The bad news is that now my fairly expensive speakers sound to me like an AM radio. The sound is very "hard" and "dense" compared to the Martin Logans.]

When most spiritual types talk about eliminating the "ego," it always strikes me as just so much new age pneumababble. They don't know what they're talking about, because you can no more live without an ego than you can live without a brain. What we call the ego is simply your psychic "center of gravity" at any given moment, and it is actually a good thing to be aware of this center (more often than not, a person is mentally ill precisely because they lack such a center, for mind parasites are "attractors" with their own chaotically shifting centers in the fabric of consciousness; furthermore, these individuals often confuse having no homogeneous center with having transcended the ego. For such immature individuals, "spirituality" is an invitation to act out their parasites).

Having said that, our center can be wide or narrow, shallow or deep, dense or subtle, and those are the real issues. In my opinion, all this new age talk of "ego" must result from some kind of misunderstanding or mistranslation of the original Buddhist, Hindu, and Taoist texts.

For me, it is much more meaningful to discuss it in terms of the shift in perspective that takes place when our psychic center transitions from the exterior/horizontal to the interior/vertical (for which I used the symbols (•) and (¶) in my book). This is, broadly speaking, what we would call being "born again from above." Thus, we don't so much eliminate the ego as give it a new life and a new orientation. You can give it a new name if you like, but obviously there is some continuity with the old you. In a certain sense, it is merely the "real you," minus all the cultural, familial, and other accretions. Perhaps the best way to think of it is to say that (¶) transcends but includes (•), in the same way that algebra transcends but includes arithmetic.

Another thing I've noticed is that as my "thinking" has become more subtle, I myself have grown increasingly "simple." The always excellent Lee Harris has spoken of how it took him some 30 years to unlearn the nonsense he learned in the course of his higher education, in order to once again be able to think clearly. I understand exactly what he means.

In a brief article entitled Good is Bad, Stanley Kurtz "reviews" a book review of an anthology called Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys. The original book review, written by a typically confused leftist, criticizes the book on the grounds that it is clear and well-written:

“'Almost without exception,' Jacoby begins, 'each essay is lucid and articulate.... Would it be possible to assemble a countercollection by leftists that would be equally limpid?' 'Unlikely,' Jacoby answers. The leftist professorate, he admits, 'distrusts clear prose as superficial.... On the basis of this volume, conservatives are excellent writers -- and facile thinkers. Perhaps the two go together.'”

There are huge differences between being clear about complex ideas (the right), being obscure, confused, or disingenuous about simplistic or kooky ones (the left), attacking cognitive links in order to dismantle meaning (the angry/psychotic left), superimposing fantasized meaning onto the world (the frightened/paranoid left), and using unsaturated language in such a way that you attempt to "reproduce" a spiritual experience in another ("Coonspeak," or "Obonics"). In fact, the reader who alerted me to this article actually accused Dear Leader, of all people, of falling into the category of the academonic leftist who writes in a needlessly convoluted manner about a subject -- presumably spirituality -- that is inherently simple. If so, one can only wonder why he would waste his time trying to unravel my mystagogic Bobscurities?

No. My writing is not the least bit complex. Rather, it is very precise, and makes perfect nonsense so long as you understand Obonics. However, as touched on above, there is a real challange involved in trying to utilize language in such a manner that you "reproduce" not just empirical facts -- which is easy -- but a spiritual experience in another, like those holographically shimmery Martin Logans. How do you do that with language? I'm not saying that I always succeed; however, I know for a fact that I sometimes do, for many readers have told me so.

Back when I was more of a garden-variety intellectual, I was full of all kinds of academically correct "ruling ideas" and dogmas -- all of the things people think are true because other important people think they're true, so you end up thinking thoughts that were actually manufactured elsewhere, in someone else's mind. But as Satprem, a sadhak of Sri Aurobindo's yoga, wrote, "Clearly, if we want to discover a new country within us, we must first leave the old one behind -- everything depends on our determination in taking this first step."

This first step is also the last step -- and every step in between -- for, in the words of Aurobindo, "fitness and unfitness are only a way of speaking; man is unfit and a misfit (so far as spiritual things are concerned) -- in his outward nature. But within there is a soul and above there is a Grace. This is all you know or need to know. "

A soul behind (¶) and a grace above (↓). What could be more simple? But simple hardly means simplistic, much less easy, for recognizing and living within this simple truth is the ongoing task of the spiritual life, i.e., O-->(n). To "transcend" or "eliminate" the ego really comes down to identifying with the wider reality to which the exteriorizing ego attaches itself.

As I mentioned, I have seen this occur in my own being, as I have gradually given up "thinking" for something that feels quite different. Perhaps Will touched on it yesterday, in his most excellent and luminous comment about the two types of creativity and their analogy to the Divine creativity. It is well worth reading in its entirety, but I wanted to focus on the second type of creativity, which

"does not involve the sense of 'creative build-up and release'. In fact, it's almost a 'give it or take it' creativity -- it's the kind of creativity characterized by the term 'not-doing'. The effortless effort, not there one second, there the next second, no explosion. Henry Miller's early 'Tropic' works, I think, are a good example of the compulsive, build-up and explode type of creativity. His later writings, such as Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch -- in which Miller turned to attention fully to spiritual matters -- are a good example of the quiet, serene, effortless effort type of creativity...

"Early Beethoven -- compulsive build-up/explosion creativity. Beethoven's late string quartets -- definitely effortless effort, very Zen. One thing that makes them so beautiful is the feeling that Beethoven could just as easily *not* have composed them. Shakespeare, too -- though the plays are replete with fury and emotion, there is something eerily detached about them that suggests that they were 'breathed into existence', not exploded into being.

"Eckhart once said in a sermon... something to the effect that when God created the cosmos, He actually didn't *do* anything. Enigmatic, yes, but I think it suggests that the Godhead's creativity was and is, at root, the 'effortless effort'. On the plane of being, this creativity is the most transcendent.

"There are those who will tell you that 'not-being' informs 'being' at every moment, which is what makes existence so beautiful.

"Anyway, I think the transcendent, less ego-individualistic, 'effortless effort' artist will eventually become the ideal. That, in turn, will reflect on our perspective of the Creator's divine nature."

Yes, yes, and yes. In short, "ys." I believe this second type of creativity is analogous to the "virgin birth," that is, the immaculate conception that occurs as a result of our soul's feminine receptivity to vertical influences, as the "Son" is eternally (re)born in the ground of our being: A soul behind and a grace above, is all you know or need to know.

As Molly Bloom -- the archetypal feminine -- says in her interior dialogue at the conclusion of Ulysses, as she relinquishes the ego and falls into sleep -- the brother of death: and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

Now now, keep it clean. Seed, soil, conception, birth. As above, so below. It might as well be Saint Teresa. Same story in a different context. In any event, if you wish to give your consciousness a wider berth, you must learn to say yes to the Divine Influx.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Darwin was Not a Darwinian

For whatever reason, February '07 was a fruitful month, so I had difficulty selecting just one post to republish. I ended up choosing this one, because it has some continuity with our recent discussion of theological aesthetics. The subject has also become more relevant in the interim, what with Queeg's misosophical lurch into clinical inanity and liztardian genetic triumphalism.

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New commenter Flash Gordon left a provocative challenge yesterday, claiming that Dear Leader is "interested in the origin of life and intelligence. Darwin was interested in those things also. He made a valuable contribution to our understanding of those things."

The first two points are entirely true, while the third is a bit more ambiguous, since I am more interested in the origin of life and of specifically human intelligence, while Darwin's contribution was to the origin of species and of animal intelligence (which humans also naturally possess but infinitely transcend).

Starting with the former, natural selection can have no bearing on the origin of life, since natural selection by definition requires living organisms to select.

While I am aware of the fact that some theorists are attempting to save the appearances of materialism by applying principles of natural selection to the non-organic world, as I explained in The New Testavus For the Rest of Us, what both they and orthodox biologists fail to appreciate is that any type of natural selection presupposes a metaphysical principle that must be anterior to both organisms and the cosmos itself: wholeness. Neither life nor natural selection could exist in a cosmos that did not have a principle of wholeness woven into its very fabric. In fact, to say "cosmos" is to say "wholeness," since a cosmos is by definition a unified and ordered totality -- just like an organism (which is its more or less distant reflection: as above, so below).

In an organism, no matter where or how deeply we look, we find fractal wholeness at every level. You could even say that the essence of pathology is an absence of integrated wholeness -- some part of the whole has broken away and is "doing its own thing," you know, like my wayward pancreas.

The same is true of the first hyperdimensional organ, the human mind, which in health is a dynamically integrated whole -- a rolling catastrophe (as in catastrophe theory; then again, not necessarily) in the phase space of subjectivity, as it were.

The essence of mental illness is the existence of semi-autonomous autopoietic subpersonalities (i.e., mind parasites) with agendas all their own, and which don't really give a hoot what you think or want. These spectral entities haunt the mindscape and look to infect others or to draw them into their little psychodramas in a way that is self-defeating to the host.

Mr. Gordon left a quote in which Darwin expresses the sentiment that (referring to his scientisic vision of metaphysical Darwinism), There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Gordon concludes by asking, "How can you say intelligence is strictly forbidden in [the] 'Darwinian view?' Your equation E = RE+EF is ridiculous" (Evolution = Random Error + Environmental Feedback).

Let's break this down for my omies. First, "There is grandeur in this view of life." Is that true? Is there? If so, one wonders how it got there. Why, on strictly Darwinian grounds, would any mental view of anything be a sponsor of "grandeur." It's impossible to know exactly what Darwin meant by the use of this term, which has no non-poetic or exact meaning. Rather, it is entirely subjective, since it connotes things such as "magnificence," "glory," lofty," "sublime," and "wonderful."

Now, I personally have no difficulty with any of these categories of human experience, as I believe they disclose objective realities. But I wonder what evolutionary purpose they serve? Let us suppose that I am one of our ancient furbears, and that a random genetic mutation has given me the heretofore unknown ability to be in a state of aesthetic arrest as I contemplate, I don't know, a grand sunset or a magnificent mountain. Remember, there is nothing intrinsically grand or magnificent until a human subject makes it so, just as there is no such thing as a ball or strike until an umpire makes the call. So I'm staring with astonagement at the sunset and a lion pounces on me, or a rival Neanderthal conks me on the head and places me on the menu. The gene for grandeur dies on the vine.

Let's not kid ourselves. We really only have two choices. Either this cosmos is in fact grand -- not to mention, beautiful, awesome, sacred and numinous -- or our genes, for reasons we cannot know, randomly mutated in such a way that we imagine that such entirely chimerical things as grandeur and beauty exist. But in reality, we are simply prisoners of our genes, and by extension, our nervous systems. I don't see how one can say that it is a "grand" view of the cosmos if the grandeur is simply an illusory side effect of our nervous system. Thus, there is an obvious contradiction at the heart of Darwin's sentimental assessment of his own theory.

Next: Endless forms most beautiful and wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Here again, I have no difficulty agreeing with this statement, but one naturally wonders what Darwin meant by "beautiful" and "wonderful." Obviously, on any strict Darwinian view, "beauty" cannot objectively exist. Rather, there can be only the illusion of beauty that is put there for some reason related to reproductive fitness. To us, a peacock or a butterfly is "beautiful," but in reality their markings are just there to attract the opposite sex of their particular species. It's actually none of our business.

Which is true of nature in general. Animals are only interested in other animals to the extent that they can 1) eat them, 2) can have sex with them, 3) need to run away from them or 4) can form some kind of symbiotic or parasitic relationship that advances survival prospects, like the alliance of rock stars and supermodels. No antelope, in the midst of running for its life, thinks to itself, "I give that lion credit. It sure is a magnificent beast." No goat or rabbit says, "pity I have to eat this beautiful flower. It would look so nice on top of the telly." No fly, while struggling for its life, says "hmm. Check out the fabulous geometric design of this web. Such stark neo-industrial beauty!" (unless he watches "Queer Eye For the Straight Fly").

Now, I can well understand on Darwinian grounds why the sons of heaven would have the illusion that the daughters of men are so beautiful. Which they are. But I do not see what this has to do with seeing other species as beautiful. What's the point? What is the added value to our reproductive fitness? There are things that are beautiful to the eye, just as there are things that are beautiful to the ear: beautiful paintings, beautiful poems, beautiful symphonies and cathedrals, beautiful equations, beautiful theories, beautiful theologies, beautiful afternoons, beautiful moments in life. There is beauty hidden in every fold and cranny of existence. Did humans somehow "awaken" to a cosmos that just so happens to be permeated with beauty? If so, how did all the beauty get in there? Isn't a beautiful object the reflection of a beautiful subject? Who was the Subject of all this Cosmic Beauty before human subjects were here?

Perhaps, like wholeness, it cannot not be here. For what is wholeness? In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce's alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, discusses the criteria for great art. He says that it is the task of the true artist to record "epiphanies," that is, sudden spiritual manifestations, or ingressions. Following Aquinas, he says that the three things necessary to beauty are wholeness, harmony, and radiance, or claritas. It is this third category that has to do with epiphanies, when the soul of the thing, its essential whatness, leaps through its outer appearance and reveals its true nature. This supreme quality of beauty transfers light from another world, provoking a spiritual state in which we apprehend the luminous reality behind appearances and see things in their metaphysical transparency.

Now Bob, "How can you say intelligence is strictly forbidden in 'Darwinian view?' Your equation E = RE+EF is ridiculous."

First of all, this is not my equation. Rather, it is the equation that forms the basis of Darwinism, which is that all change in the phenotype is a result of random genetic mutations that either enhance or diminish our reproductive fitness. To the extent that a species is "intelligent," the intelligence is always in the service of something that both guides and limits it, which is reproductive fitness. In other words, either intelligence, like beauty and virtue, transcends and therefore cannot be reduced to genetics; or, it is an ultimately meaningless side effect of our genetic "strategy." (In fact, we shouldn't even say "our" genes, since this reverses the relation of ownership. According the strict Darwinians, it is our body, or phenotype, that ultimately "belongs" to the "selfish genes.")

But what is human intelligence, really? As mentioned above, if there is aesthetic discernment, then surely there is beauty. Likewise, if man is intelligent in any meaningful sense of the term, then surely there is reality to be apprehended and there is truth to be known. For if intelligence does not know reality or disclose truth, then it hardly deserves the name. In other words, if it is just a more elaborate way to know falsehood and delusion in order to get chicks, then truly, there is nothing further to debate, because truth cannot even be conceived, much less known.

Is it possible that strict reductionistic Darwinism could be "true" without contradicting its own principles? I do not see how. As Schuon has written, human intelligence "is the perception of the real and not the 'intellectualization' of the unreal." The discernment of intelligence allows us to pass "from appearances to reality, from forms to essence, and from effects to cause." No animal can know of the reality behind appearances or intuit the essence beneath the form. This is what I mean when I say that the gap between human and animal intelligence is literally infinite, because the gap between truth and its alternatives is infinite.

Why is human intelligence so perfectly adapted to invisible realties that played no role in the selection of our genes? Why is there nothing in the world commensurate with the nature of human intelligence, which easily transcends everything into which it comes into contact, including our own evolution? If we comprehend our own evolution, isn't this another way of saying that we transcend it? And if we don't comprehend it, isn't Darwinism, ipso facto, false?

Schuon writes of the truism that "It is only too evident that mental effort does not automatically give rise to the perception of the real; the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error." How can this be? First, it results from an intelligence "that is exclusively 'horizontal,' hence lacking all awareness of 'vertical' relationships." Secondly, it results from "an extra-intellectual element, such as sentimentality or passion; the exclusivism of 'horizontality' creates a void that the irrational necessarily comes to fill." In short, as all psychoanalysts and true theologians know, reason is more often than not a slave of the passions.

Man is intelligence, just as he is beauty. For this reason, no normal person sets out to love ugliness or know error. Just as good character involves distinguishing between good and evil and willing the former, the virtue of intelligence is its intrinsic love of truth. Was Darwin a truth lover? I would say there is no question that he was. His passion for Truth is obvious at every turn (albeit in an intrinsically limited way). Therefore, he cannot have been a Darwinian, for Truth renders metaphysical Darwinism extinct.

Man is intelligence, and intelligence is the transcending of forms and the realization of the invisible Essence; to say human intelligence is to say absoluteness and transcendence. --F. Schuon

Friday, January 30, 2009

Faith in Wholeness, Wholeness in Faith

Whoever is not capable of seeing and 'reading' the form will, by the same token, fail to perceive the content. Whoever is not illuminated by the form will see no light in the content either. --Balthasar

Beauty is always a totality, or a radiant harmony between the parts and whole. So first of all, beauty presupposes the ontological category wholeness, which is a very special mode that the rank and foul generally take for granted. But as I explained in chapter two of the Coonifesto, wholeness is also a prerequisite for any kind of science, or material truth.

For example, natural selection presupposes wholeness, specifically, the wholeness of the organism. Neither evolution nor organisms would be possible in a cosmos of parts only. In fact, the very idea is absurd, because to say "cosmos" is to say "whole" -- not an "additive" or "exterior" whole, but an intrinsic one that discloses interior relations and therefore interiority. The cosmos has a deep interiority complex, to say the least.

The cosmos is not an agglomeration of parts, the ultimate pile of disjointed stuff. Nor could this interior wholeness ever somehow emerge in a cosmos that wasn't already whole, any more than intellect could appear in a cosmos that didn't already inhere in intelligence.

Rather, the cosmos is truly One, at least on its own level. Furthermore, -- and this hardly needs to be said -- we can only know this oneness because we ourselves are one, except on a higher level than the physical cosmos. Suffice it to say that other animals do not live in the "cosmos" but only in their own neurology, from which they can never break free.

Obviously, it is not necessary for us to travel the 14 billion light years of the cosmos to "prove" its spatial and temporal unity. That would be stupid. Not to mention a waste of eternity. Even materialists unconsciously know that the cosmos is one (since the statement is a tautology), even though, ironically, this oneness is proof that the cosmos transcends matter and that the materialist transcends his brain.

But no one ever accused atheists of metaphysical consistency. I mean, as soon as the atheist opens his piehole to say "I...," he should stop right there and think about the extraordinary metaphysical implications of this unified interior subject, which is the prior ground of making any true statement at all.

In other words, not only does science presuppose objective wholeness; it also a fortiori presupposes subjective wholeness. Unless you say that "one part of me knows that atheism is true, while another part knows that it's bullshit." No. If the whole of you can (potentially) know the whole of realty -- which is a fundamental assumption underlying science -- then you are simply a latecomer to what the mystic not only knows, but realizes.

Now, let us say, for the sake of argument, that the oneness of reality is an unavoidable side effect of the intrinsic oneness of the Creator. In fact, let's take this down a couple of notches, to the level of the human creator.

For example, when I wrote my book, I was attempting to explicate in linear form my own apprehension of the oneness of reality, i.e., to compose and play the Cosmic Suite. And as I pointed out in the introduction to the book, there are an infinite number of pathways through the great cosmic chords, some of which are "complete" and musically satisfying, others banal, predictable, and unable to explicate the musical potential implicit in the chords.

So, this journey to the one is not just guided by truth, but beauty, or aesthetics. If I am not mistaken, this is one of the points Walt was trying to make in his most excellent comment yesterday, when he spoke of sifting the data of his own spiritual experiences through a newly discovered "aesthetic sense" which "seemed to act like a guidance system when I paid attention to it."

Just as God is beyond-being, he is equally "beauty beyond beauty." How does this beyond-beauty disclose itself within time? This is one of the key ideas Balthasar explicates in his seven-volume theological aesthetics. The fact that it required seven volumes -- and some 3,500+ pages -- for him to write something adequate to this divine beauty, tells you something about its inexhaustible effulgence.

For example, even Christ does not just appear "out of nowhere," like an alien dropped from on high, with no context to understand him. Rather, he is situated within a temporal stream that manifests its own impossibly deep interior wholeness, radiating from the alpha of Genesis to the omega of Revelation.

Or, one could day that his appearance is the revelation of that much deeper unity, i.e., the unity of the old and new covenants, of God and man, of time and eternity, etc. Only after his appearance were some extraordinarily profound (and grace-infused) thinkers able to apprehend this vastly deeper atemporal unity -- i.e., the arc of salvation -- conditioning the events of time. As Balthasar writes, "Christ's existence and his teaching would not be a comprehensible form if it were not for his rootedness in a salvation-history that leads up to him."

So while scripture "points to" Christ, even more so does Christ point to scripture, since he is its organizing principle, so to speak -- its atemporal "center."

How does one begin to "see" such truth and beauty? Balthasar says that "only through form can the lightning-bolt of eternal beauty flash. There is a moment in which the bursting light of spirit as it makes its appearance completely drenches external form in its rays."

From this, we know in an instant that we are not in the presence of a "sensual," but spiritual beauty. And the apprehension of this spiritual beauty seems always to provoke the instinct of adoration, because it is to know that man could not have made this form.

Or, this is when a fellow knows he is a spirit who blazes through and shatters the constraining letters of physics, biology, and history. And the full realization of this earth-shattering faith in the beauty of truth and truth of beauty is "the theological act of perception," or the faith that moves mountains of BS.

It is not as if one could, by means of rational inquiry and argument, recognize [Jesus] to be a (perfect? religious? inspired?) man and then, following the pointers provided by this rational knowledge, move to the conclusion that he is God's Son and himself God.... Jesus' form can be seen for what it is only when it is grasped and accepted as the appearance of a divine depth transcending all worldly nature. --Balthasar

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Form and Substance of God

I was contemplating something by James that might be relevant to our quest for the Divine Beauty. He observes that "None of the great theistic arguments start with an unknown premise freely created by the mind, but with truths given in sense experience analyzed by principles that are taken to be true. There is simply no hypothesis to dispute; no burden of proof to be assigned; ... no series of various gods that needs to be decided between from the start; no appeal to Ockham’s razor to decide between competing hypotheses even before the argument begins."

Obviously, sense experience is a necessary but insufficient condition for the apprehension of God. The principles are far more important, specifically, those principles that cannot not be true, such as "being is," "we can know that being is," "therefore truth is," etc. After all, even dogs and atheists have senses. What they lack is the ability to perceive the whole and to know the principles.

There is form and substance. For God, I suppose that being is the first form, since he is "beyond being." But for us, being is substance, and thought is form: word + spirit, or infinite and absolute, container and contained, ♀ and ♂.

Beauty is always a form; therefore, in the final analysis -- or synthesis -- we could say that beauty is the form of God (bearing in mind that virtue, i.e., loving what is worthy of love, is beauty of soul).

Here again, in the perception of beauty, the senses are obviously necessary but insufficient. Two people can look at, or listen to, the identical form, and one will apprehend the beauty while the other won't. This hardly means that beauty is subjective, much less that "perception is reality." Rather, we must make ourselves adequate to the demands of the form. But how many atheists make themselves adequate to the forms of religion? That's a silly question. By definition, none, any more than Cousin Dupree is adequate to the beauty of having a job.

How can you "prove" to someone that the form exists? You can't. Either they can see it, or they can't. And if they can't, then they have to first want to learn how. And in order to do that, they must become deeply humble, admit their deficiency, and deliver themselves into the hands of a master -- of someone who does see the form. Furthermore, just as when one begins a real fitness regimen, the atheist will have to learn to tolerate pain in places he didn't know he had places.

In the end, since the form is a self-revelation of God, or God's witness to himself, one must "participate in God." You know the old story: "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me" (Eckhart). So, "how you see yourself" makes a big difference with regard to how you hear God (and voice vista).

Now, if you can actually see the form, then you don't trouble yourself with "proving" that it exists. Let's take the example of a beautiful melody. The melody is made up of individual notes. If I hear the beauty in the melody, I am hardly going to waste my time trying to prove that the notes exist, much less that the beauty of the form can be located in them. No, it is the totality of the form that must first be apprehended; this form confers the beauty upon the notes, like a gift from above.

It is just so with religion, which begins -- not ends -- with the form. The form is "given" to us in revelation; or, to turn it around, revelation is any instance of God revealing his form. Form is what is revealed in revelation (although by definition, there is always more or less of the substance in the form; one could say that God is the form, but the form is not God, the latter being the definition of idolatry. There are also spiritual practices that focus on the "substance," e.g., tantric yoga, aimed at raising the shakti, but that's another story).

Consider the first words of Genesis, which tell us that God's initial -- and perpetual -- act is to bring form to the formless. In so doing, the form is "good," which of course it must be. Or, consider the first words of John, which parallel Genesis, and in-form us that in the beginning -- or at the Origin -- is the Word, or form, which is with God, the substance of all. For When He prepared the heavens, I was there. When He drew a circle on the face of the deep and assigned to the sea its limit, I was there. When He marked out the foundations of the earth, I was there (adapted from Proverbs 8:27-29).

Oh yes, I was -- I AM -- there, before the beginning. For where else could I be and still be? And those who hate me love death.

Who loves death? Oh, you know, those theillogical academonic knuckleheads whose "first move in [their] search for an 'understanding' of [religious] texts is to dissect their form into sources, psychological motivations, and the sociological effects of milieu, even before the form has been really contemplated and read for its meaning as form" (Balthasar).

Because buddy, there's one thing even a doctrinairehead atheist can know about revelation: and that is that one "can never again recapture the living totality of form once it has been dissected and sawed into pieces, no matter how informative the conclusions which this anatomy may bring to light." For "anatomy can only be practiced on a dead body, since it is opposed to the movements of life and seeks to pass from the whole to its parts and elements" (Balthasar).

You could say that atheism is form without substance or substance without form, which is why it is so ugly and therefore beneath the dignity of the human station. But if you can't even see the human station.... well, let's just say you'll never arrive there.

So "we can 'go behind' [the] form only at risk of losing both image and Spirit conjointly" (Balthasar). We end up with bits and scraps that are taken as more real than the reality they are designed to serve. This demystification of the Essence always comes at the expense of a remystification of Existence, and a kind of mystagogic earth-religion: attack God, and you wound -- and eventually murder -- man. Thus, a sacrificial cult is born, the very inverse of the cult that puts an end once and for all to such sacrifices.

For if man is the Image and Likeness, then he too is a beautiful whole -- at least in potential. But not according to the metaphysical Darwinists, who break apart our wholeness and insist that man is subordinate to his "selfish genes," or to the archaic environment, or to various selective pressures.

Just the other day, I read a leading evolutionary psychologist who assures us that goodness and virtue do not exist, and that wherever they appear to exist, one can be sure that they reveal some underlying genetic advantage, no matter how "selfless" the act. This made me wonder: what's he getting out of saying that? What genetic advantage does it confer? For one thing, it confers tenure, along with the esteem of his equally benighted peers. It's like asking what Al Gore gets out of perpetuating the global warming hoax, aside from 100 million dollars and counting.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cosmic Divorce and the Threedom of Marriage

One reason why divine beauty -- the Glory of the Lord -- is central to Christianity, is that beauty is form. In contrast, in Eastern religions the formless trumps the formal, just as the impersonal Self trumps the personal self. But at least Vedanta, Taoism, and Buddhism dissolve form "from above."

In the anti-Christic world of the secular West, we have a masturbatory double, or dopplewänker, of this transcendence, so that form is dissolved "from below," all the way down to the infertility dregs of deconstruction, multiculturalism, scientism, metaphysical Darwinism, etc. As such, this is why there is so much ugliness and barbarism in the secular temples of the university and among the slowbrow priesthood of the elite media.

We left off yesterday with a comment by Balthasar that "if form is broken down into subdivisions and auxiliary parts for the sake of explanation, this is unfortunately a sign that the true form has not been perceived as such at all." Furthermore, "it would not be worthwhile being human if man were but the amalgamation of such 'material', if the one thing necessary, the irreplaceable pearl, were not a reality for the sake of which we would sell everything else."

The pearl is not just a form, but a beautiful form. Which is why "when all genuine worldly forms are questioned and discounted, responsibility for that form really lies in the hands of Christians." This very much reminds me of Richard Weaver's observation that attacks on religion are in the end attacks on mind. But they are equally -- and must be -- attacks on beauty.

For example, it is not even possible in our debased culture to make the commonplace argument that the redefinition of marriage, whatever else it is, is a frontal assault on beauty -- specifically, the divine elevation and beautification of the male-female sexual bond. Either you see this beauty -- i.e., you are spiritually adequate to it -- or you don't. And if you don't, it will hardly matter to you if the state forces "homosexual marriage" on the rest of us, thereby dissolving this beautiful archetypal form from below.

Hmm, that's a coincidence. Balthasar next goes into a little riff on marriage, which he says "is only true to itself if it is a kind of bracket that both transcends and contains all an individual's cravings to 'break out' of its bonds and to assert himself." One of the reasons this form must be preserved -- besides the fact that it is ontologically real, so that to deny it is to situate oneself outside reality -- is that it is the most common means of the spiritual transcendence of sexual polarity into a higher union. More generally, it is the very archetype of the union of opposites, which "homosexual marriage" can obviously never be.

(A point of order: as our Minister of Doctrinal Enforcement reminds us, fulfilling the archetype of marriage does not require being married to another biological person; one thinks of the nun who is "married to Christ." The archetype is real; how one fulfills it is another matter.)

"Marriage is that indissoluble reality which confronts with an iron hand all existence's tendencies to disintegrate, and it compels the faltering person to grow, beyond himself, into real love by modeling his life on the form enjoined." What begins as imitation of the form eventually grows toward the form itself. This is why it is difficult to imagine a more precious gift one could give to one's children than a loving and passionate marriage.

In fact, I remember a few years back, reading a study about the psychological effects of divorce on children. One of effects -- and the researchers were not sophisticated enough to draw out all of the cosmic and metaphysical implications of this -- was an inability of the child to later apprehend the deeper unity of things, being that their own attempt at primordial unity -- i.e., the unification of Mother and Father -- was sundered at the beginning.

Remember, from the perspective of the child, Mother and Father are much more than mere "people." Rather, they are more like worlds, and if these worlds literally separate, it is beyond the means of the child to bring them back together in his immature psyche. The later effects can be subtle or profound, but I certainly notice them in my practice. For a host of ontological and developmental reasons, a merger in threeness is very different from a merger in twoness. Suffice it to say that our humanness is rooted in the former. We are trinitarian to the core.

One important point to bear in mind is that marriage -- at least from our side of things -- should not be thought of as a noun but a verb. To be precise, it is more like a "journey toward" the archetypal state of marriage. Again, Balthasar describes it well:

"When they make their promises, the spouses are not relying on themselves -- the shifting songs of their own freedom -- but rather on the form that chooses them because they have chosen it, the form to which they have committed themselves in their act as persons." In other words, the spouses do not entrust themselves to biology, to self, or even to the other, but to the fulfillment of "a form with which they can wholly identify themselves even in the deepest aspects of their personality because this form extends through all the levels of life," all the way "up to the heights of grace and of life in the Holy Spirit."

As a result, a higher and more intense kind of freedom "is discovered within the form itself, and the life of the married person can henceforth be understood only in terms of this interior mystery."

Now, just because many if not most people fail to ascend to the form is hardly a reason to throw out the form, any more than we should redefine health just because most people are fat and cannot attain the archetypal physical form. But one of the strategies of the left has been to increasingly demean marriage, so that no one sees the form anymore. As a result, why should it matter if a man wants to marry a man, a mannequin, a Manilow, or a melon? Again, once the form has been destroyed from below, it's all meaningless anyway.

Suffice it to say, as we mentioned above about beauty and about the mind as such, the form of marriage "is today more then ever entrusted to the care of Christians." It is an example of how we "need not destroy the natural in order to achieve the supernatural goal."

Rather, the natural becomes a very means of our supernatural re-ascent. It is not just "maya," or cosmic illusion. Rather, the divine reality radiates through the natural, at least for those with eyes to see. And at risk of belaboring the point, it is only possible because the one is three, and one of the three became -- and therefore can become -- human flesh.

The Incarnation uses created Being at a new depth as a language and a means of expression for the divine Being and essence.... This incomparable paradox stands as the fountainhead of the Christian aesthetic, and therefore of all aesthetics! --Balthasar

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How the Worm Turns and Grows in the Dark

Let us begin with an orthoparadoxical cryptogram by James at Just Thomism, who observes that "The cosmos shows us nothing like the knowledge by which we know it." And even less does it show us anything "like the source from which the knowledge flows."

In other words, not only does the cosmos have an invisible interior, but it directly communicates this perfect nonsense to another, even greater, invisible interior. That would be us.

However, if we fail to turn upstream to the source of this bifurcated interiority, it will remain a complete and utter mystery, which is the fate of the scientific materialist, who is condemned to live in a kind of useless cloud of subjectivity for which he can never account. But if we do turn to that source, then it becomes an awesome and glorious Mystery. If you want to think about it symbolically, from the horizontal perspective, ( ) and (•) give rise to one another. But from the vertical standpoint, both are a function of O.

I am reminded of a comment Churchill once made, to the effect that "we are all worms." However, after a thoughtful pause, he added, "but I do believe that I am a glow worm." Now, for those of us who aren't born that way, to go from worm to glow worm is a matter of repentance, or "metanoia," which simply means to "turn around" -- not from left to right or east to west, but from exterior to interior and down to up.

But I would go even further, and say that this is how you caterpult your buddhafly -- how the humble cocOOn becomes the womb of the christallus through the self-emptying of our voidgin birth.

It all begins with the ability to "read" the world's interiority -- which doesn't just communicate truth, but beauty. That much is obvious, although the materialist tends to focus on the former to the exclusion of the latter, thus disfiguring his metaphysic from the outset. For as Balthasar writes, "Whoever insists that he can neither see it nor read it, or whoever cannot accept it, but rather seeks to 'break it up' critically into supposedly prior components, that person falls into the void and, what is worse, he falls into what is opposed to the true and the good" (emphasis mine).

Now, if you understand that, then you understand the basis of my objection to radical secularism, because it starts with Ø instead of O. As a result, as it proceeds and ramifies horizontally, it only magnifies and concretizes its initial error, which cannot be located in the horizontal stream of knowledge, because it's way back there where you started. "In my beginning is my end," as the poet said.

It very much reminds me of our erstwhile jester, who could not see -- because he could not see -- that I am always attempting to communicate a vision of the whole through parts, which, after all, is the only way you can do it. But he would, with perfect myOpia, wrench one of the parts from its irreducibly aesthetic context in order to prove to himself that the whole does not exist. Truly, this is like cutting off your face despite your nous.

This is why we insist that there is such a thing as spiritual autism, i.e., people who live in a bizarre world of parts, which they cannot unify into the whole -- like the autistic child who can see the skin that covers the front of the skull, but cannot read expressions. And an "expression" is nothing less than the "interior" of the face; or, you could say that the expression is the externalization of the soul. Ether way, cosmically speaking, such a one is barred entry into the cosmos proper, and is condemned to crawling around on its periphery, or "epidermis," just like a... a worm.

Now, the key to spiritual growth is this deepening of our interior, which elsewhere I have called the "colonization of consciousness," or the "conquest of dimensionality," or "raids on the wild godhead," or "ex-perditions over the subjective horizon," or "the hajj to Upper Tonga," etc. Balthasar agrees that "as we proceed from plant to animal to man, we witness a deepening of this interiority, and, at the same time... a deepening freedom [read: conquest of dimensionality] of the expressive play of forms" (emphasis mine).

In other words, each of the following things is related to the others, because they emanate from the "above": interiority, unity, wholeness, beauty, freedom. Deepen one of these, and you deepen the others. Likewise, deny one, and you weaken and eventually "murder" the others. For we are an "image of the One," with all that implies.

Now, the One is the essence of interiority, otherwise it would merely be an agglomeration of externally related parts. Therefore, we are one because the One is one, the difference being that our oneness must be realized, whereas the oneness of the One is intrinsic and cannot not be one. This is why the more immanent the One is, the more transcendent. Its oneness overflows everywhere, so that everything is ultimately its witness and testament.

Here is how Balthasar describes it: "As a totality of spirit and body, man must make himself into God's mirror and seek to attain that transcendence and radiance that must be found in the world's substance if it is indeed God's image and likeness -- his word and gesture, action and drama. This is the simple reason why man's being, even in its origin, is already form, form which does not curtail the spirit and its freedom but which is identical with them."

Again: image --> form --> beauty --> transcendence --> being --> freedom --> God. Or, you could take the same sequence in reverse, and arrive at Man, who is the only being who must be, relatively speaking, of course. In other words, "being is, therefore I am; I am, therefore I think; I think, therefore truth is; truth is, therefore God." Etc.

Conversely, as James suggests, "If the things in the cosmos alone are 'what exists', then I..."

I what? Then I am no more. I have committed metaphysical cluelesside. I am blind and deaf to the divine beauty, to the metaphysical transparency of the One. Therefore,

Our first principle must always be the indissolubility of form.... If form is broken down into subdivisions and auxiliary parts for the sake of explanation, this is unfortunately a sign that the true form has not been perceived as such at all. What man is in his totality cannot be 'explained' in terms of the process by which he has become what he is.... All these dimensions produce material which is then subsumed by the form of man....

Truly, it would not be worthwhile being human if man were but the amalgamation of such 'material', if the one thing necessary, the irreplaceable pearl, were not a reality for the sake of which we would sell everything else. This precious 'pearl' must have been espied in the first place by an eye that recognizes value, an eye which, being enthralled by the beauty of this unique form, dismisses all else as 'rubbish' in order to acquire the one thing which alone is worthy of claiming our life unconditionally
. --Balthasar (sorry for the length; with Balthasar, sentences are paragraphs, paragraphs are pages, pages are chapters, etc.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hearing and Performing the Cosmic Suite

This might be a brief one. I think I'm a little discoonb'obulated from the summa vacation. In fact, I'm not even sure what deities. I just know it's not an allahday.

Could it be a case of jot lag? This is the longest I've gone without jotting down a post in almost three and a-half years, and now I'm lagging four days behind -- or below -- whatever it was I've been chasing all that time. I knew I'd lose the thread if I stopped, and now here I am, unraveled like an old bolero. If you think blogging about the cosmos every day is difficult, just try doing it every five days.

Actually, it's no joke. This reminds me of the sort of tip-top shape the bodymind must be in, in order to "do" theology at all. Since doing so involves intense verticalisthenics and gymgnostics, you have to behave like a professional athlete, minus the guns, drugs, and hookers. In my case, it means eating right, getting plenty of rest, working out at least once a day, and staying 3000 miles away certain relatives.

When you hear about the sorts of strict rules imposed upon spiritual seekers, I'm sure that this is the underlying principle which the rules are attempting to honor. This is why I could never be anti-somatic. Nevertheless, it's possible to get lost in the letter and lose the spirit. For example, Mormons won't let you even have caffeine. What's that all about? What if you can't see God at 6:00AM without a little fine Colombian? What are you supposed to do, switch over to the Cuervo Gold?

No, don't help me. Balthasar, right? Divine beauty, right? Maybe it will help if I review what I said last Wednesday. Be right back.....

Okay. Since I'm now halfway into volume two of the theological aesthetics, at least I can see that I won't have to actually deal with all seven volumes of The Glory of the Lord, because the first volume lays out the the broad theological approach, whereas the others mainly explicate individual examples of how it all works out in practice through Augustine, Denys, Dante, and various other lumen beings down through Christian minstrelsy.

Besides, a 'Coon doesn't get lost in the details, but always asks himself by virtue of what principle? And where's the loophole? In other words, no different than the scientist, we want to try to reduce the welter of theologoumena to some underlying unity of which they are the inevitable byproduct -- just like how, say, the underlying order of quantum physics produces such a infinite landscape of seemingly independent objects.

So I suppose we are seeking "the order of beauty," so to speak, or the "place" from which it arises. To even suggest that there could be a naturalistic source of beauty is to not know what beauty is, precisely; for beauty is, among other things, an everyday example of the supernatural breaking through the natural. And if God is the ultimate source and substance of beauty, then the more we ascend vertically, the more beautiful the mindscape. Conversely, right before you descend to the ego, there's a big sign at the side of the road that says End Scenic Route.

With vertical colonization, you could say that figure and ground are gradually reversed, so instead of focussing upon the outward beauty, we begin to "see" the interior beauty of which it is an expression. And surely interior beauty must take priority over exterior beauty, since the latter is a localized instance of the former, in the same way that one cannot have an instance of truth in the absence of Truth as such. And to say that Truth is what is known is a tautology; there can be no truth in the absence of an interior knower. To say "truth" is to say God, which only a human being can say. So there. I've said it.

Likewise, to say "beauty" is also to say God, which only a human being can see or hear, for each of our physical senses has a vertical analogue (indeed, as we shall later discuss, the former derive from the latter, not vice versa).

Here is how Balthasar sets things up: if beauty is "the radiance and splendour which breaks forth in expressive form from a veiled and yet mighty depth of being," then "the event of the self-revelation of the hidden, the utterly free and sovereign God in the forms of this world, in word and history, and finally in the human form itself, will itself form an analogy to that worldly beauty however far it outstrips it." In other words, the divine beauty is so powerfully radiant, that it will both reveal itself in form, but at the same time shatter forms, since no form could possibly contain it.

In the figure of Jesus, it is said that God pours forth and empties himself into the "not-God" of humanity. No wonder then that death could not contain him! But for the Jew, one could also say that the Torah reveals the ainsoferable what's-his-G-d name without the possibility of containing him. And no wonder that diverse theologies result from the One outpouring, for you simply cannot contain a higher dimension with the nets of a lower.

As Balthasar writes, these manifold ways of seeing exist "not so much because of the limitation of human perception as because of the yet greater fulness of revelation, as it shines forth and overwhelms its beholders." You could say that the divine beauty descends into a form, and that this or that form will be a more or less adequate container for the infinite beauty. To a Christian, Christ is that perfect form, i.e, the Word of God. I don't think it would be incorrect to say that the "Son" may be thought of as the form of the formless Father, but I could be wrong there.

This is also why "fundamentalism" is such a poor and meager substitute for, say, Aquinas, who provides us with a relatively complete and total vision of the One. But so too does a Denys or Eckhart provide a relatively complete vision. But put them all together -- well buddy, then you've really got something, supposing your soul is capacious enough to handle the project. If not, no big. Just don't confuse your little theological tchotchke with the Louvre. Don't confuse Eckhart Tolle with Meister Eckhart.

For the end result should be like "a full orchestra, whose various instruments blend well with one another; their mutual harmony proves that they all play from the same score (which both transcends and embraces them)."

That sounds familiar. Yes, here it is, from the Coonifesto. Another case of someone preemptively plagiarising me before even extending to me the courtesy being born:

The universe is like a holographic, multidimensional score that must be read, understood and performed. Like the score of a symphony, it is full of information that can be rendered in different ways. The score can support diverse interpretations, but surely one of them cannot be "music does not exist."

****
Someone mentioned pictures. Here's one. After Future Leader realized there was an eligible lady in the next row, remaining seated was out of the question. How's this for a subtle greeting:

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Good Will Tour

Ever take a monkey on a five hour flight? Pictures to follow. Imagine ten Curious George episodes back to back, with me as the Man in the Yellow Hat... and pants, when his diaper leaked.

Can't do much else from here, but at least I can authorize a fresh Open Thread.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ugly Fantasies and Beautiful Truth

First of all, the obligatory fantasy analysis of Obama's otherwise vapid inauguration speech. This is the technique invented by psychohistorian Lloyd deMause to supposedly reveal "hidden emotional messages embedded within seemingly bland and boring speeches and press conferences of leaders." Its purpose is to attempt to "capture how it feels to be part of a nation's emotional life" by focusing only upon emotionally charged "fantasy words" that resonate with the unconscious mind. It operates under the assumption that any leader is also a fantasy leader who necessarily mirrors and shapes the group's unconscious emotions, needs and impulses.

As we just witnessed with President Bush, a leader who fails to resonate in this unconscious manner simply will not be perceived as effective, no matter how competent he is. From even before day one of his presidency, Bush was unable to use language in such a way as to bind up the anxiety and hatred of liberals. First, just as it is difficult for the non-evil to understand the evil, it's also difficult (at least without training) for the non-crazy to truly understand the crazy. On top of that, Bush never appreciated the level of liberal bitterness and resentment over Al Gore's unsuccessful attempt to exploit the judicial system to steal the presidency to which liberals were entitled.

Frankly, there is probably nothing he could have done about that short of deinstitutionalization of the tenured and media elite, which would have caused a huge new problem with homeless mentally ill.

In order to perform a fantasy analysis on a text, one records all strong feeling words (including anything related to the family, e.g., mother, father, baby) regardless of context, plus any unusual metaphors or gratuitously repeated words. One also eliminates negatives, because of the symmetrical logic of the unconscious, which converts a negation to an affirmation (for example, the more liberals complain about people questioning their patriotism, the more it emphasizes their lack thereof).

As deMause writes, "most political meetings are usually held not to make decisions but to deepen the social trance, to switch into political alters, and to entrain the group's unconscious emotional strategies for handling the inner emotional problems of its hidden world." Because liberals are by nature such emotional creatures who project so much unmetabolized emotion into politics, they are much more transparent in their fantasies (indeed, as is true of any more primitive group).

I have no idea whether or not fantasy analysis works. But I do know that it's fun, and that it can suggest surprisingly primitive emotional themes beneath what is an otherwise tedious formality. Anyway, here goes:

sacrifices... gathering clouds... raging storms... crisis... war... violence and hatred... badly weakened... greed... failure... adversaries... threaten... crisis... sapping of confidence... nagging fear... fear... conflict... discord... petty grievances... false promises... recriminations... worn-out... young... childish... strangled... lash of the whip... fought and died... struggled... sacrificed... raw... birth... crisis...

ground has shifted... consumed us... too big... too small... ill... ill... crisis... out of control... perils we can scarcely imagine... blood of generations... child... threats... threat...

terror... slaughtering innocents... broken... weakness... bitter swill... dark... old hatreds... conflict... ills... destroy... starved bodies... hungry minds... suffering... levees break... cut... darkest hours... child...

children... father... birth... coldest... dying... icy river... abandoned... enemy advancing... snow stained with blood... father... alarmed... danger... dangers... hardship... icy currents... storms... children's children...

Hmm. Lots about abused, threatened, and neglected children, capped off with cold, icy, and abandoning father. I wonder what that means?

More generally, it seems to me that Obama is attempting to induct us into a social trance in order to condition us to the extraordinary and unprecedented measures he will have to take in order to deliver us from the apocalyptic evils he lays out in the speech, i.e, the ground has shifted, things are spinning out of control, and we're about to be eaten by this threatening Moloch.

It would be one thing if he were using this overheated rhetoric to describe nazis or Islamists, and to mobilize us to recognize the danger. But let's face it: he's declaring war on the American way of life. Economically, he wishes to destroy America in order to save it. It all seems so appealing! I mean, he just promised to help all Americans get well paid jobs, free healthcare, and a dignified retirement. Government. What can't it do? (besides govern itself). Father has been ousted. Mother government to the rescue.

As the farcical Marx taught us, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. But what comes after that? We're still dealing with the tragedy of the New Deal and the farce of the Great Society. No doubt Obama is a farce to be reckoned with, but I see two possibilities. If we divide history into Petey's descending stages of Gods, Kings, Men, Weasels, Beasts, and Chaos, I think FDR would be the king, LBJ the man. Clinton was the weasel. This would suggest that we are about to enter a beastly chaos, from which the only solution would be the return to a new age of gods, or, more properly, God. God or chaos. Vertical Man or horizontal beast. Sounds about right.

Just remember: in the Age of Obama, dissent is no longer the highest form of patriotism but the last refuge of a scoundrel. But don't worry. Even if you're a white devil, you can still embrace what is right.

****

I hate touching pitch. That's enough of that. Let's move on. And in. And up. I'm hesitant to dive into the Balthasar business, because this may be the last post of the week. If I do go in that direction, it is very likely that it will take me the rest of the year to complete the project. So, do I really want to commit mysoph to that, especially since I don't know whether I can do it to begin with? Imagine Meditations on the Tarot, only x 15. Also, Balthasar makes Unknown Friend's rambling look like a monument to brevity.

Why Balthasar, anyway? Hell, I don't know. Just because that's where the Spirit has lead me, I guess. But if I do do this, I'm really going to have to hand things over to Bob's Unconscious for an extended period of time, because there's no way in the world that the conscious mind could ever wrap itself around this mammoth tusk. I'm afraid I'll end up driving the rest of the readers into extinction.

Then again, whenever I reach this impasse, I always return to my first principle. Which is what? I guess that this blog is primarily a personal spiritual exercise that you folks are allowed to peek in on. As soon as I deviate from O, I lose the interior thread. It reminds me of that film about Picasso, in which the camera is placed behind a glass canvas, so you can see him at work. This computer screen is like my canvas, and you folks are sitting behind it. Maybe I should even get one of those cameras, so you could see it happen in real time.

How to begin.... That is actually the first question which thought must ask of itself, and if you avoid that question, then it is likely that you'll never recover the Way. Appropriately, this is precisely where Balthasar begins: "Beginning is a problem not only for... the philosopher," but "a primal decision which includes all later ones for the person whose life is based on response and decisions."

This very first decision is one that remains with us and conditions, if not determines, all of our subsequent steps. Indeed, the first word we choose must be one which we "will not have to take back, one which [we] will not afterwards have to correct with violence, but one which is broad enough to foster and include all words to follow, and clear enough to penetrate all the others with its light."

Okay. So what is this first word? For Balthasar, the whole purpose of the first seven volumes of his theological trinity is to focus on the transcendental category of beauty in order to reveal the truth of God. Thus, "Beauty is the word that shall be our first." That beauty exists, no one could deny. "Glory" is the name we give to divine beauty, another property that no proper human could deny (although improper ones may well insist that this beauty is only in the beholder, and that the experience of it does not correspond to any real object or inhere in the world).

Thus, the first seven volumes of Balthasar's trilogy deal with beauty; the second five with the good (the theo-drama); and the last three with truth (the theo-logic). Of the three, Balthasar clearly feels that beauty is first among equals, in that it radiates the other two transcendentals in a particularly holistic manner (each of the transcendentals participates in the other two; I would go so far as to say that they share the same substance in three modes, so to speak). As Balthasar puts it, beauty "dances as an unconstrained splendour around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another."

It is one thing to "speak truth to power," which has nearly become a cliche due to liberal abuse. But how about speaking beauty to power? To speak beauty to the ugliness and barbarism that surrounds us? Who shall speak beauty to a degraded art, to a sterile and technocratic knowledge, and to a human being rendered ugly through the degradations of materialism, leftism, and metaphysical Darwinism?

A world that isn't penetrated at every moment by the divine beauty is surely not worth living in. Such a world would be a living hell, minus the living. "Naked matter remains as an indigestible symbol of fear and anguish." The human soul, who is meant to be the "bride of God," is instead forced into an arranged marriage, an impossible union with the "object of his impotence," "which finally spoil's man's taste for love."

Furthermore, in a world without beauty, "the good also loses its attractiveness, the self-evidence of why it must be carried out." Once we have descended to this plane, it is but a step to the other side, "for this too is a possibility, and even the more exciting one: Why not investigate Satan's depths?" Lies, ugliness, transgression. Vanquish beauty and you have vanquished the mystery of Being, so the mystagogic and mystifying non-being of various alternative universes becomes the default position. You can no longer even speak to people with the language of divine beauty, for they have forgotten how to perceive it, let alone appreciate its connection to total truth.

Yes, "the Witness borne by Being becomes untrustworthy for the person who can no longer read the language of beauty," for such a person cannot know the interior language of God. The Word and its world have become illegible. He is of the world, but no longer in it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The King is Dea... Wait, Not So Fast! (1.09.10)

I'm starting to get a little worried that President Bush isn't going to go ahead with the theofascist takeover. What's he waiting for?

There's no way I have time to write an all-new post this morning. However, in the spirit of the occasion, I'm revisiting something I wrote a few years ago, because if our cOOnvision is truly omniscient, it should help us to understand our political future. The bottom line, people, is that there is nothing to be afraid of. These men are nihilists. Fucking amateurs. They're out of their element. And they're about to enter a world of pain. As Walter Sobchak himself said, Nothing is fucked here, Dude. Come on, you're being very un-Dude.

When I say that the Obamanauts are about to enter a world of pain, I mean that they will eventually know the dark side of the wave of fantasy upon which they are riding. Only in this case, it seems unusually dark, for it is the same darkness that currently attaches to President Bush. As much as he is hated, Obama is loved, and for reasons that are equally insane because they are a precise and predictable function of each other.

They say that Obama represents the "longings" of a new generation, but I don't believe that at all. Rather, this is baby-boomer 101, the last gasp of a generation that is fueled by a pathological idealism that is just the other side of its dark cynicism.

Although we focus on the moonstream media and their political action wing, the Democrat party, there is probably not enough blame placed on that grazing multitude known as the American public. For if the public were only more sophisticated, they wouldn’t fall for the arguments presented by the left, which rely upon a high degree of emotionality matched by a low degree of logic. Political analysts implicitly assume that people’s attitudes and opinions are the result of rational reflection, but in fact, it has been estimated that fewer than ten percent of the American public are reliably in Piaget’s highest cognitive developmental stage of formal operations thinking. And even then, one cannot escape the cosmic law of bullshit in --> bullshit out.

According to psychohistorian Lloyd deMause, “Most of what is in history books is stark raving mad -- the maddest of all being the historian’s belief that it is sane.” He believes that large groups are almost always driven more by fantasy than reality. Different nations and groups have different “group fantasies” which are designed not to negotiate with reality but to contain fears and anxieties. For example, the further back in history one travels, the more one can identify group fantasies that clearly have no basis in fact and are driven by irrational anxiety and fear -- witch hunts, senseless wars, racial scapegoating. But so long as one can detach from the madness and survey the contemporary psycho-political scene with even-hovering attention, one can see it just as clearly in the present.

For example, the entire “war on terror” is being waged against Islamist fantasists who are completely out of touch with reality. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make it easier to combat them, but more difficult. Israel has been fighting a version of this fantasy since its very inception, but in truth, Jews have been at war with paranoid anti-Semitic fantasists for over two thousand years. Fantasies are obviously quite lethal. The most persistent fantasy is that the God of Israel is not real, which is why the Jews are and will always be targets of the evil ones, whether it is the fantasists of Islam or of the left.

The important point is that the fantasy precedes the reality, and will look for conditions in external reality to support it, identical to the manner in which the paranoid mind operates. According to deMause, the state of the group fantasy is what national opinion polls actually capture. That is, they take a snapshot of the “mood of the country,” which mostly consists of “gut feelings” that have varying degrees of connection to actual conditions, and more to do with the shifting nature of the group fantasy.

Remember, the bulk of the population is not thinking logically, so it doesn’t matter how many cognitively mature individuals there are at the margins of a poll. That the economic downturn was largely caused by Democrat regulation (e.g., the Community Reinvestment Act) is inconsequential. In contrast, FDR was able to sustain a unifying group fantasy despite economic polices that aggravated and extended the Great Depression for years.

Likewise, job one for Obama will be to forge and sustain a unifying fantasy, not to deal with reality. This is one of the reasons the Democrats will be unable to let go of President Bush, because they desperately need him as a "poison container" in order to keep the toxins out of Obama (more on which below). This is a somewhat unique situation, because it means that the Democrats in effect will want us to have two fantasy leaders, which reminds me of how the infant splits the world into a good and bad breast.

A national opinion poll doesn’t necessarily provide objective information about actual circumstances, but certainly tells us how it “feels” to be part of a historical group at a particular time. Not only that, but deMause turns the presidential “approval rating” on its head. He doesn’t believe that it actually measures approval so much as disapproval about how effectively or ineffectively a leader is “containing” the public’s anxiety. Negative passions are much more influential, which is why truly happy people have little impact on politics, since it would never occur to them that a politician is responsible for their happiness. But unhappy people find all sorts of illusory reasons to explain their unhappiness, including politics.

Just as the group is mainly driven by fantasy, it is primarily looking for a leader who can reassure it about the world and diminish its anxiety. In this regard, it is a mistake to think of the leader as an oedipal parent; the process is much more primitive, involving the need for preverbal and pre-oedipal (before the age of three) projection and containment, which is in turn much more "psychotic" and fantasy laden, since it escapes the reach of language. Using this method, one would not say that President Bush has a 25% approval rating, but a 75% “toxicity” rating. Meanwhile, Obama has what, a 12% toxicity rating? As soon as he actually does something, he will begin to accumulate toxins, and this number will rise.

This is one of the reasons it is so wearying to be president, because it involves the day-to-day processing of so much irrational projection of hatred and anxiety (and in the case of the US President, these projections uniquely come from the entire world).

All therapists know how difficult it is to deal with just one borderline patient in their practice, but it is as if a president must deal with the projections of millions of difficult patients who are irrationally experiencing him as either their savior or as evil incarnate. The president must be a receptacle for continuous projections from various levels of emotional immaturity and unreality. And in the case of President Bush, who never fought back and engaged with the projections, it only made that part of the population more enraged with him, just as a borderline patient would feel outraged if the therapist did not take their perceptions seriously, no matter how crazy (or a child will become more enraged at the parent if you don't take the pain behind their "I hate you!" seriously).

Another critical point -- and one of the most important things I learned in my training -- is that idealization is a powerful defense mechanism that serves to protect its recipient from rage, contempt, or devaluation. So if a patient is immediately angry with me, I can deal with that. It's a relief, because they are at least in touch with their feelings. But if they come in and immediately idealize me, then I know that I am in for a bumpy ride, for when the idealism wears off, I will be blamed. It's like, "how dare you not be perfect!" (This is why trolls don't bother me as much as someone who wants to see me as Guru B'ob. You can imagine.)

It is fascinating to note that as the left became so out of touch with their fantasies about President Bush, they came to imagine that he actually did fight back in the most dangerous and extreme ways -- that he didn't tolerate dissent, that he questioned people’s patriotism, that he destroyed our civil rights, that he punished ideological enemies, that he defecated on the Constitution (you can read that projection with braille!). Pure projection. The reality that is “seen” by the left is driven by their own fantasies. (Now they even want to put him in jail; this is exactly what Future Leader says when he's really pissed off at us: "You're in jail! Time out forever!)

deMause notes that people who are stripped of important group fantasies will feel like they are going crazy -- just as primitive groups who are suddenly “decultured” of the myths that have served to organize their cognitive/emotional world. (You will note that no one on the right is "going crazy" over Obama, whereas the left lurched toward insanity right away, to such an extent that they even attempted to steal the 2000 election through the courts.)

It is fair to say that the left has been dealing with this sort of primitive anxiety since the 1980’s, as their various political fantasies have been discredited one by one. But just like a religious group that predicts the second coming, the majority of leftists simply dig in their heels when their predictions prove false. This shows the extent to which outward political ideology often rests on a deeper structure of irrational fantasy that is nearly impossible to eradicate. I think it also explains all of the manic and irrational giddiness we are seeing in the media, as their fantasies are restored.

And now we come to the future. deMause outlines a four-part process that the fantasy leader undergoes in relation to the group. At first the group will see him as unrealistically strong, magically able to unify the group and keep enemies at bay. Certainly we saw this in the months after 9-11, when President Bush was so popular. Again, his popularity had little to do with the actual merits of his policies, but with the public’s need to feel safe, and the feeling that Bush would protect them. Obviously, this is where Obama is, except that the omnipotent fantasies of strength surrounding him are unusually grandiose and primitive.

Stage two is the “cracking” stage, when the feelings of magical nurturing begin to deteriorate, so that the public’s mood begins to feel unstable and dangerous. The leader begins to be experienced as weak, unable to control events. Here again, when this happens, look for the left to frantically attempt to re-project all of this into President Bush, in order to perpetuate the fantasy.

Stage three, “collapse,” occurs when the public begins to feel that the fantasy leader is helpless to prevent catastrophe -- when the group’s anxiety has become unhinged and uncontained in a completely unrealistic way. This brings on pure rage and free-floating paranoid fantasies of death and destruction. Thus, in the case of President Bush, he was unrealistically blamed and vilified for all sorts of things outside his control -- hurricane Katrina, rising gas prices, "global warming," the Democrat-fueled housing bubble, etc. At this stage, the fantasy leader is seen as weak and vulnerable, which triggers a wave of near homicidal anxiety that aims to purify the group by ritual slaying of the divine king, identical to what took place in the most primitive tribes. So today is not just the coronation of the new king, but the ritual blood sacrifice of the old one. But he was scourged for so long, that he was virtually dead anyway -- or only "alive" with primitive projections.

Obama doesn't seem prone to locate our enemies externally, where they actually exist, i.e., in Islam. But every theology needs a satan. Again, for this reason, I think the fantasists of the left will be unable to "let go" of President Bush, since he has become so vital to their psychic equilibrium. But they don't fool us.