Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Picture of Dorwinian Gray

Well now, that's helpful. In the DeKoninck book, James specifically recommends "pp. 116-118; 185-192; 270 on and off to 278; 292; 390-396; pp. 424, etc. Those give you the major themes in CDK's work. Those are the sorts of passages where I thought you had the most natural affinity with DeKoninck." He also counsels us to "ignore the latin terms" -- which in my case is easy, since the only other viable option is to pretend I understand them.

He adds that "DeKoninck set his whole life against mere jargon for the sake of jargon. His language is precise, but he only departs from common language when necessary. But he certainly isn't a fast read, even though I know of no one, not even Schuon, who is as good at propelling a careful reader towards ecstatic things."

Hopefully we'll get to at least some of the above referenced ecstasies in this post.

The last paragraph of yesterday's post was written so hastily that I don't think I was able to convey the shock of what I was attempting to say -- "to propel the careful reader towards ecstatic things," as it were.

Recall that I was reflecting on what it would be like if it were possible for conscious beings to exist at the quantum level, where all of the richness of the cosmos is bleached out. Through their experiments, they "discover" this unexpected macro realm of ours floating "atop" their sea of quantum energy. This macro world features all kinds of truly weird and miraculous things that seem impossible based upon the laws that govern their micro realm. "Ah ha!," they proclaim. "We've finally discovered the point of our otherwise meaningless cosmos. It's human beings!"

What I was trying to highlight is the irony of a science that considers the quantum world -- or any other abstract world of science -- to be more "real" than the world of human experience. What inevitably happens is that the human world is devalued and regarded as a meaningless side effect of something more fundamental.

Could it be that this is one of the primary causes of the general coarsening and re-barbarization of our culture? I don't think there is any doubt about it. It is why we can have scientists, lawyers, doctors, psychologists, and other highly educated professionals who are appallingly ignorant of the human world -- at the very heart of which is real religion.

This is why, for example, our post-modern barbarians imagine that it is possible to teach "sex education" to human beings, minus the humanness. But the only realm that preserves the full truth of our humanness is religion -- and I am speaking of the accumulated wisdom of the centuries -- so in effect, it means that teaching the truth about human sexuality is forbidden by the state.

The same can be said of the debate over "intelligent design." The metaphysical Darwinists are either disingenuous or just plain stupid in not appreciating what is at stake here, for what is at stake is nothing less than the abolition of man in the guise of a "humanism" that has nothing but the most extreme contempt for the human as such.

Again, our only desire is for the metaphysical Darwinians to be both honest and intellectually consistent (which is what we also ask of liberals, who share the infirmity of an inability to be simultaneously forthright and consistent): either the human station is a real reality, or nothing more than an extension of animality. Being that they cling to the latter substition, there can be no basis for objective morality, truth, or beauty. Likewise, any distinction we make between, say, a Shakespeare and a Toni Morrison, is just arbitrary.

Given the pervasiveness of this profoundly anti-intellectual view, can it be any surprise that the human qua human is slowly becoming extinct? For where does one turn in order to nurture the human essence? If our humanness is just an illusion, why nurture it at all? If we are just animals, why keep pretending we're not? Indeed, this is why the left idealizes animals such as Che, or Castro, or Chavez, for at least they are authentic. For the left, real animal authenticity trumps illusory humanness. It's why they love Sean Penn.

Again, I am reminded of viewing Olivier's 1948 film production of Hamlet the other day. How on earth did someone writing in the 16th century have this god-like mastery of language? How is it that he can be so vastly superior to those who pretend to be writers today? And not just the mastery of form, but the equal mastery of insight into human nature. It is almost as if our mastery of matter leads to a loss of mastery over the more subtle spheres of language, music, philosophy, metaphysics, theology, etc.

Or perhaps it's the other way around: we imagine we are mastering matter, when it is really matter that is slowly mastering us. This is certainly what Guenon believed, and it is not difficult to appreciate his point. Ironically, our very mastery of matter leads to our identification with it, when in reality, it should only further highlight the infinite gulf between the properly human and the material. For the bottom line is that if matter is capable of producing intellects capable of knowing the truth of matter, matter is not what the materialist thinks it is. Nor, for that matter, are genes what the geneticist thinks.

The other day I happened to watch the wonderful 1945 film adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I hadn't seen since my film school days. George Sanders is particularly unforgettable as the cynical and mephistophelian sophisticate (ask a drunk person to repeat that three times) who seduces young Dorian from his humanness, as might any contemporary (sub)humanities professor. His advice is eminently reasonable on a strictly Darwinian basis. In fact, I challenge any metaphysical Darwinian to explain the basis of their objection to the following cynical adages:

Young men want to be faithful, and are not; old men want to be faithless, and cannot.

Experience is of no ethical value. It is merely the name men give to their mistakes.

What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination. Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect -- simply a confession of failure.

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.

If I could get back my youth, I'd do anything in the world except get up early, take exercise or be respectable.

Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.


Again, the abstract world of science, if reified and taken as reality, is what DeKoninck called the "hollow universe." And although the hollow universe is a human creation, soon enough it starts to spawn hollow people. Life and mind become just statistically rare combinations of atoms, with no intrinsic interiority. So not only do we end up with a hollow universe, but the "lifeless world of biology," not to mention the soulless world of psychology.

The full title of my book is One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit. I bring this up because the only alternative is Only Matter Under the Cosmos: The Obliteration of Life, Mind, and Spirit.

Back to James' recommendations. Hmm, pp. 116-118. I see that I highlighted a number of passages, starting with "The problem of the scientific world is part of a broader problem -- the problem of experience." Indeed. That is the fundamental mystery, the question of how existence becomes experience. And not just "experience," but an exquisitely ordered interiority that answers so perfectly to the so-called "exterior," in such a way that it is able to abstract from it endless possibilities that are obviously inaccessible to mere animals.

If that doesn't qualify as an ecstatic mystery, I don't know what does. But the scientist demystifies this to the point of banality. He "speaks of electrons and quanta, but when he is asked to give us in concrete terms what all that means, he does not know how to answer. The very elements of the physical universe no longer have any correspondents in the world of vulgar experience."

The triumph of the postmodern barbarians has occurred when they have inverted the cosmos and successfully eliminated the human world on the pretext of having explained it.

But somewhere in the radical secularist's attic is a picture of his reptilian soul.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Whole Point of this Living Cosmos

Another race against the clock. Therefore, instead of continuing with the Balthasar this morning, I think I'll turn to something more immediately at hand. I recently finished a book by Charles DeKoninck, so I think I'll discuss that, since it's fresh in my mind. DeKoninck was recommended to me by James over at Just Thomism. DeKoninck was a Thomist philosopher who died rather young (1906-1965), and this is the first of a projected three-volume series of his collected works.

(Let me say at that outset that I probably can't give this book a general recommendation, unless you either already know your Thomism or are prepared to immerse yourself in that world, with its particular traditions, assumptions, categories and nomenclature. You would probably have to start with something more foundational, in particular, at least an intro to Aquinas, before tackling this. Also, I know that some of his more accessible works are available for free online, such as The Hollow Universe.)

My first thought is that I'd like to see Bill Maher debate this guy. Not really, because it would be like the Pope appearing on the Jerry Springer show. But I see that last night at the Oscars, Maher complained that his reduculous film Religulous probably didn't get nominated because "it's a touchy subject. But someday, we all have to confront the notion that our silly gods cost the world too greatly." The point is, not only does Maher not understand religion, but he is not intelligent enough to do so.

Religion is at a profound disadvantage here, because it is not primarily about intellectual debate, but about saving souls. And in order to accomplish the latter, it must be presented in such a manner that most anyone can understand it. Imagine, say, how difficult it is to produce a Hollywood film that appeals across the spectrum, from the most intelligent to the most simple, from adults to children, male and female, the educated and uneducated, people from all times and cultures. That's a rare achievement. Anyone can make a film that appeals to no one, as Maher proved.

Now, it would be easy enough to form a religion only for people capable of understanding DeKoninck, or Schuon, or Balthasar -- or more precisely, to present it only in their highly sophisticated terms. But for starters, that would be a grave disservice to the billions of people for whom the realm of pure metaphysics is more or less of a closed book. Besides, anyone who wants to pursue a religion to it metaphysical summit is free to do so.

This is why anti-intellectuals such as Maher or Queeg -- not to mention a Dawkins, Dennett, or Harris -- are not just wrong. Rather, they are just plain lazy. Either that, or just too stupid to understand the arguments. They're really engaging in a kind of gross fallacy -- like attacking a Ben Affleck film festival in order to prove that all movies are bad. This strategy is beyond bad faith. One can only conclude that it's satanic, even if only unconsciencely.

Now, one reason why DeKoninck is of interest to me is that he is an example of someone who was quite clearly drawn into the identical cosmic attractor I have been exploring for the past two or three decades. Here we are, two isolated people with no direct points of contact, and yet, in many striking instances, our thoughts are quite parallel. Again, it is as if we are identifying the identical contours of the nonlocal object.

In the past, I have compared this to the early explorers -- Columbus and all the rest -- who stumble upon a "new world." At first, their descriptions are quite varied and subjective. The are also very empirical, drawn from immediate experience. Only later will someone come along and be able to collate all of the individual maps, and place them in the context of a higher cartography.

This, I think, is the value of someone like Schuon, who could have only appeared in the 20th century, because only from that surpassing vantage point does one have access to all of the maps of the great interior explorers. Note that the maps are just fine without the collation -- they'll still get you where you need to go -- but there is obviously something in the nature of the intellect that demands consistency and universality. However, unless you are a born gnostic, you probably won't spend much time worrying about that. Rather, just leave it to the experts.

To a certain extent, what you "discover" is going to be a function of that which you are passionate about -- not just in the sense of some transient excitement. Rather, we are talking about a particular "soul constellation" that sponsors a lifetime passion from which one cannot escape on pain of causing serious damage to the soul. Think of this as your "guiding star" in transpersonal space, that which tells you what you are by showing you what you are to do, to know, and to eventually be -- the latter resulting from the successful assimilation and actualization of the first two.

Also, remember the adage that "the answer is the disease that kills curiosity." This is not to laud an inappropriately grasping and intellectually concupiscent curiosity that usually ends in shallow cynicism and facile skepticism, a la Queeg or Maher. Rather, this is a protracted openness to your soul's own inclination. Your passion is the engine, but your soul must provide the direction, otherwise your passion will merely drive you into the abyss.

So I see right off the bat that DeKoninck shared a number of my passions. For example, he was concerned with how we can "understand the growing chasm between our scientific world pictures and the world as it appears to common sense." He also wanted to know how it could be possible to accept the insights of modern science "while maintaining our most central and traditional religious beliefs."

In this regard, it would again be easy enough to create a kind of new religion for The Special, as the new agers and integralists do. But to paraphrase Schuon, to think that you could ever invent a religion is to not know what religion is, precisely.

That is a key point -- the idea that science increasingly reveals a world that is detached from our common experience. While vulgar materialism or bonehead reductionism are surely serious problems, a deeper problem may be that our supposedly "best" way of knowing tells us nothing about life up here where it is actually lived -- i.e., the human world. As I have mentioned before, religion is about this specifically human world, a point that I will expand upon later.

The "major preoccupation" of DeKoninck's life was this "relation of science to experience." He makes the subtle point that the everyday objects "available to us in experience are much richer than those described in modern mathematical phyiscs," and that it is critical to maintain the distinction between "the real world" -- again, the human world -- and our scientific abstractions from that world.

The fundamental problem with scientism is that it takes its abstractions as more real than the reality they describe, which soon enough leads to a kind of intellectual totalitarianism, which always occurs when ideas are deemed more important than people. (This dynamic is also at the foundation of the soul pathology of the left.)

As I mentioned in my book, science strips the world of all its primary qualities, relegating them to an ontological limbo. Once one has done this, one has devalued the human world, with all of its richness and particularity, beyond redemption. Or, there is no ontological grounding for the richness -- it becomes just a kind of entirely subjective epiphenomenal luxury with no intrinsic meaning whatsoever. Truly, that way madness lies. And cultural death.

The scientistic world is a simple world, far too simple to ever account for the intellects capable of abstracting from the world in this manner. It is this abstract scientistic world -- that is, when taken as the fundamental reality -- that DeKoninck called the "hollow universe," but the hollowness is really in the heads of the spiritually impoverished simpletons.

Running out of time here, but last night I was doing a little thought experiment. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that it were possible for conscious beings to exist at the quantum level, where all of the richness of the cosmos is bleached out. Through their sophisticated experiments, they "discover" this unexpected macro realm floating "atop" their sea of quantum energy, which features all kinds of things that seem impossible based upon the laws that govern their realm. "Ah ha!," they proclaim. "We've finally discovered the point of this otherwise meaningless cosmos. It's human beings!"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Circumnavelgazing Our Cosmic Ombilicus

Another rerun from two years back. I really like this one. Call it a Coon Classic. Or, put it this way: if you don't like it, then at least you know that the eternal Way of the Raccoon is just not for you.

*****

Yesterday while driving to work I was navel-gazing again. Yes, I was thinking about my belly button. For what is a belly button? I can see that Future Leader is already curious about his -- he calls it his "baby button." But when he asks what it is, it's difficult to think of a concise answer. So consider this a Raccoon bedtime story about the cosmic significance of your baby button.

It is interesting that the human body bears the permanent mark of its own dependency and incompleteness, and its previous life in another dimension. The human form is so perfect, and yet, no matter how perfect the body, there is always this odd "scar" we all carry right at the very center of our physical being, the reminder of another mode of existence: "I once abided in the infinite, and all I got was this lousy belly button." [And yet, the body wouldn't look quite right without one. As far as I know, even Cher hasn't had her belly button surgically removed or enhanced, but you never know.]

To continue our navel-gazing, what does this scar signify? Well, let's see. First, it memorializes our transition from life in a watery medium to life in a gaseous one. In this regard, life during our first nine months couldn't have been more different than life after the dramatic caesura of birth, as Bion called it. And yet, our watery existence is hardly irrelevant to what comes later, as more and more research is documenting the importance of our intrauterine experience and how it "carries over" into the next world.

Now, in our case, we didn't just treat Future Leader as a human subject from the day of his birth -- with all the dignity and nobility to which any human being is entitled -- but from the day of his conception. I would guess that about a third of modern Western mothers do this, either consciously or unconsciously. The percentage is far lower in non-Western cultures, where children are often not treated with the dignity of an autonomous subject, and instead regarded as possessions, resources, or an extension of kin or cult. For that matter, it is a truism that the most dangerous place in the world for a black person -- or liberal, for that matter -- to be is inside their mother's womb.

Our preparation for extrauterine life takes place under circumstances that are quite different from those that will later prevail. From the vantage point of the fetus, intrauterine life appears to be a "thing unto itself," and yet, it is actually pointing toward something beyond itself. In other words, its reason does not abide in itself, but in a state that will only reveal itself later. The fetus cannot know that its intrauterine existence is actually a preparation for the "big event," which always comes as a bewildering and disorienting shock.

In this regard, our physical birth is not only a transition but a death, as are all births. It is the stark end of one way of life and the beginning of another. The navel is a reminder that we were once directly connected to the source of life, whereas now we must tolerate being separate from it and renegotiate a relationship with it. In fact, one key to early parenting is to try to foster the conditions of intrauterine life in order to ease the transition and make it less traumatic. Even though the baby has left the physical womb, he remains -- or should remain -- in an external one -- a womb with a view -- for some time, so that psychological "hatching" will gradually take place over a number of months.

Following the method of cosmic analogy -- as above, so below -- what can birth tell us about the spiritual life? It is interesting, is it not, that Christianity is so permeated with the archetypal iconography of womb and of birth? "Virgin," "seed," "conception," "born again," "Mother of God," "children of light," etc. Each of these has a deeply resonant archetypal meaning for the spiritual life.

Just like intrauterine life, extrauterine life is not merely a thing-in-itself but a preparation for something else. It too has a trajectory that points to its own end, although that end will come like a thief in the night and no one knows the hour or day. All the more reason not to waste time -- to work while it is Day, for the Night will come when no man can work.

Time is all we have in this life, so to waste time is to forego eternity. The First Thing -- all else pales in significance -- is naturally to avoid being an astral abortion. Odd, but there are abortionists everywhere who will eagerly help you end your earthly pregnancy. Many of them are called "professors."

If you should end your pregnancy, you will usually continue "living" -- occasionally an astral abortion ends in suicide -- but in the manner of a spiritual stillborn or "existentialist" whose existence no longer points beyond itself. For what has specifically been aborted is essence from mere existence -- or the spiritual seed from the womb of time.

While men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.

Now, just as our physical body bears the scar of its incompleteness and separation, so too does our soul bear its own version of this. For it also has a "hole" at its center that we may spend our lives trying to deny or fill in inappropriate and ultimately fruitless ways. But the hole is there for a reason. It is actually a theomorphic and theocentric hole, and there is no way to fill it unless one is properly oriented to the source of our being. We are connected to the source of our being by a vertical channel, or ombilicus, through which energies pass up and down, in and out -- we call these energies aspiration (↑) and grace (↓) (the latter of which must be in-spired to become operative).

How to find that I-ambilical cord through which we are spiritually nourished? Everyone is looking for it, and there are countless Spiritual Salesmen who will claim they can sell you one. But each of us must find the path of access that leads to the Way: For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

In other words, He who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

We are either in the wilderness or on the path. But once on the path, there is no turning back. One cannot return to the wilderness but must continue pushing onward, inward, and upward. In other words, you cannot be a little bit pregnant: Whoever has put his hand to the plough and then looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God.

As Boris Mouravieff writes, the world is constituted of "A" influences and "B" influences, and it is through the assimilation of the latter that our "psychic center" will grow. There are a number of ways to conceptualize the "A" influences, but let us say that they are horizontal, exterior, and ultimately random, canceling each other out and adding to the sum of zero, or the total entropy of both psychic and physical death. Most men are subject to the rule of the illusory "A" influences, chasing after one or another until falling into the abyss. This is the way of the Exterior Man.

But the interior Coonman orients himself around the esoteric Center from which "B" influences enter the field of life. Unlike the "A" influences, these do not cancel each other out, but are all oriented in the same direction and are actually the only enduring reality. To quote Mouravieff,

"In life, every being is subjected to a sort of competitive test. If he discerns the existence of the 'B' influences; if he acquires a taste for gathering and absorbing them; if he continually aspires to assimilate them better; his mixed inner nature will slowly undergo a certain kind of evolution. And if the efforts which he makes to absorb the 'B' influences are constant and sufficient in force, a magnetic center can be formed within him."

If one is successful in forming this magnetic center, it will not just attract the "B" influences but actually deflect the "A" influences. I hope this is not sounding too esoteric or "gnostic," because it should be a common experience to most Raccoons in some form or fashion. It may be new to Kit Scouts, all the more reason to listen closely to your elders.

I have come to realize that one reason I enjoy blogging first thing in the morning is that I have unwittingly set up a situation in which I shut out virtually all "A" influences and instead attempt to gather and align myself with "B" influences. In so doing, I actually reinforce my own magnetic center, which then stays "strong" for the remainder of the day.

I thought of this yesterday in reading a comment Schuon once made to a disciple, emphasizing that

"What we do in the morning is very important for the whole day; it is good not to quit the morning japa before one is certain that it has determined our being and therefore also our entire day. The brain is a sponge that absorbs the stream of appearances [i.e., 'A' influences]; it is not enough to empty it of the images on which it feeds, one must also satisfy both its need to absorb and its habitual movement.... One must infuse into the mind, as far as it will carry it, a consciousness of the Real [i.e., 'B' influences] and of the unreal; this consciousness will provide the framework for the rest. The world is a multiplicity that disperses and divides; the divine Word... leads back to Unity [and] absorbs the soul and transposes it imperceptibly, by a sort of 'divine stratagem' into the calm and unchanging climate of the Absolute..."

Speaking of Schuon, Mouravieff also writes of the benefit of maintaining contact with those Real Men whose own magnetic center is stronger than ours. This is also the value of spiritual community -- including the Coonosphere -- for what is One Cosmos but a spiritual pediatrician's office in which we can all -- myself included -- talk to the other moms, make sure that we are getting the proper nutrients, and be reassured that everything is proceeding normally in our pregnancy, as we await our voidgin birth?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

On Cultivating the Gene for Transcending Your Genes

Here is your weekly repost from 730 posts back, give or take. As mentioned before, Februrary '07 seems to have been a fairly fruitful month, so we may revisit another oldie tomorrow. As always, I base my selection on whether or not the piece holds my attention, whether it can be improved, and whether it provokes new thoughts, associations, or gags that can be inserted here and there.

****

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm in the midst of reading a relatively new and state-of-the-art book on human origins entitled Before the Dawn.

The book is full new factual information, which is always good. However, it is written from the perspective of a primitive New York Timesman (the author is a NYT science reporter), so that all of the facts are implausibly skewhorned into a bland and predictable materialistic paradigm. Therefore, there's a bit of inherent frustration in reading the book, because the writer is an unquestioned devotee of the Darwinian faith, so no matter what anomalies he discovers or mysteries he unearths, the simplistic a priori explanation is always the same: it's all genetics.

As always, all-powerful "randomness" is the omnipotent God-of-the-saps for the metaphysically blind. It explains everything, therefore, nothing. It is a perfect example of what I wrote the other day about the "demystification of the world," and the cardiomyopia that results. You know, hardening of he categories. Matherosclerosis.

But that's okay. Facts are facts, no matter how the simple devotees of scientistic magic or canard-carrying queeglings may try to spin them.

It reminds me of what an inebriated but wise friend of mine once said in the midst of enjoying a certain spirited musical performance in the American negro tradition: "If you're not dancing, you're wrong!" This is how I feel about the cosmos: if you're not in awe, you're just wrong. The world is charged with the grandeur of God (Hopkins). And if you intentionally try to eliminate the awe and the grandeur, well, you're like one of those Saudi pleasure-police who arrest people for having fun just because they've long since forgotten how.

Now, even in reading just the first few pages of this book, I can well understand how a traditionally religious person might regard the entire Darwinian enterprise (in its needlessly reductionistic bonehead form) as intrinsically luciferian, and toss the book aside.

But this is something the Raccoon should never do, for our perspective is both wider and deeper -- not to say, higher -- than that of mere science. Fitting science into a religious metaphysic should pose no difficulty whatsoever, or it's not much of a religion, is it? If science can't fit comfortably into a modest mansion or even double-wide trailer home of the Creator, what kind of God is that?

Two of my favorite pneumanauts were at bloggerheads on this issue. Frithjof Schuon had no use for evolution and rejected it outright. But Sri Aurobindo had no problem at all with it, perhaps even going too far in the opposite direction (as was true of Hegel). In his case, he had a very different personal history than Schuon, which no doubt accounts for their divergent outlooks. In the case of Schuon, he was a deeply alienated European who could not find spiritual sustenance in the decadent environment of 1920's Europe, and therefore looked to the East (including Eastern Christianity, Vedanta and Sufism).

In the case of Aurobindo, he was from exactly the sort of traditional culture that Schuon idealized (India), but received a marvelous education in the West, at Cambridge. This put Aurobindo in the rather unique position (at that time, anyway) of seeing how the decadence of India actually obscured the perennial message at the heart of the Vedanta. He knew that India needed to move forward, not backward, in order to actualize its spiritual destiny and manifest its inner potential. You might say that he saw how India needed to become more Westernized -- i.e., more focused on the material plane -- while the West needed to become more "interior" to balance its relentless exteriorizing dynamic.

This is exactly how I see it. I believe our conquest of the the external frontier must be followed by an exploration and colonization of the interior horizon. It is truly the "final frontier": vertical globalization.

And as a matter of fact, this is exactly what has been going on in the West -- albeit in fits and starts and with a lot of wrong turns -- since the time of the closing of the American frontier in the late 19th century. Just at that point, there was an "interior turn" throughout the West. We see this in art, literature, music, psychoanalysis, and the sudden interest in mysticism, theosophy and the occult (recall that Toots Mondello founded the Bensonhurst Raccoons around this time). Afterwards, the evolution of this inward turn was disrupted by cataclysmic world-historical events, including World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and Toots' incarceration.

Thus, it is no coincidence that we began to see this interiorizing impulse reappear as if from nowhere in the late '50s and '60s, but people such as Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley were just a continuation of what had really gotten underway with the American transcendentalists such as Emerson. Obviously, Emerson can still be read with great profit today, as many of his observations were quite prophetic and remain entirely fresh and contemporary, to say the least. Indeed, viewed from a cosmic-historical standpoint, Emerson is hardly "in the past." He is just yesterday. Or perhaps just up ahead.

The whole new age movement, which emerged out of 1960s style pagan spirituality, represents a false and intrinsically wrong turn in our evolution. It takes certain truths and distorts them, dabbling in things that are not necessarily harmful "from above" but "from below."

In other words, most of the new age blathering that goes by the name of "integralism" is nothing more than a co-opting of half-understood spiritual ideas for the purposes of narcissistic inflation (i.e., the lower seizing the higher instead of being transformed by it). These various approaches are spiritually vacuous to the Raccoon because they are generally detached from any timeless revelation and any true source of grace, without which one can only turn around in circles and exalt the self in compensation. "Followers" are required in order to create a space in which infantile omnipotence is projected onto the master, which then creates a belowback of pseudo-grace. This is the trick of the new age careerists. A normal person would be nauseated by such adulation.

My fellow 'Coons, do you think for one second that Dear Leader couldn't do this if he were possessed of a black heart? Naturally I could not do it with you, because you would see through me and flee in the opposite direction with vomit bags billowing in the wind. But I know full well that I am equipped with the minimum amount of charisma (I mean, more than Deepak!) -- if not the requisite sociopathy and narcissism (far less than Deepak) -- to open my little window in the New Age Traveling Salivation Show and promise things I cannot deliver -- to fleece all the Nobodies who want a relationship with an idealized Somebody in order to not feel like the former.

But the Somebody also needs to surround himself with Nobodies in order to not feel like the latter, which is what he actually is. As you may have noticed, only Somebodies are allowed to be Raccoons. Very substantial Somebodies, not fragile Nobodies. Needless to say, I have no desire to surround myself with Nobodies. Many people come here for the spiritual Somebody-ish comments of readers, not just my posts.

Back to the point of this post. Before the Dawn broadly confirms a number of important points discussed in chapter 3 of One Cosmos, Psychogenesis. Instead of looking just at the archeological evidence, Before the Dawn discusses all of the new research made possible by the Human Genome Project. The data can be studied in all kinds of clever and innovative ways in order to deduce various conclusions about our origins.

The book confirms the fact that there is a vast difference between "anatomically modern" and "behaviorally modern" human beings, the former of which appear as early as 200,000 years ago. And yet, truly human behavior does not emerge until as recently as 45,000 years ago. And it emerged quite suddenly, in such a way that it defies any traditional Darwinan explanation.

In fact, many traditional paleo-anthropologists reject the sudden emergence of our humanness, but only because their religion (strict Darwinism) makes it impossible. Therefore, they argue that the transition must have been gradual, even though this is not what the archaeological evidence shows. What do you call someone who maintains a belief system despite contrary evidence? I forget.

Anyway, genetics comes to the rescue, because the author of Before the Dawn says that Darwinian evolution must be able to occur much more rapidly than any of us had previously realized. Therefore, whether the transition from ape to human was slow or sudden, it's all good. Darwinism explains it.

What do you call a philosophy that is so elastic that it accounts for opposite scenarios? "I was for the gradual descent of man before I was against it." "Global cooling is a result of global warming."

You will never hear it come out of my mouth that genes are unimportant things. However, the author makes the point that our DNA is 99% identical to that of a chimpanzee. Oddly, he uses this statistic to emphasize the importance of genes, when to me it would appear to highlight just the opposite. I say this because a moment's reflection will reveal to you that the ontological gulf between a human being and any animal is actually infinite -- as infinite as the gap between truth and its countless alternatives.

Put it this way: how would you characterize the distance between an animal, whose every behavior is genetically determined, and a being who has transcended his genetic program to such an extent that he is able to pick and choose those aspects of it that he would prefer to ignore?

Again, being that he is a primitive New York Timesman, the author doesn't give any serious thought to religion, but dismisses it with a passing observation buried in a sentence to the effect that it was selected (of course) by our genes "as a means of social cohesion." If so, one can only wonder how he and all of his fellow Homo crapians among the secular left managed to escape this gene's influence?

Again, he seems to be arguing that genes are all-important, but not so important that you can't simply ignore them if you wish. In fact, you can even have contempt for your own genetic religious proclivities (projected onto others, of course), which is a rather odd thing. Ever heard of a chimp who had contempt for his banana?

Friday, February 20, 2009

The WholePoint of HisStory (2.20.10)

Who can hope to obtain proper concepts of the present, without knowing the future? --Johann Georg Hamann

If we consider the historical form of Jesus, we see that he cannot be understood in isolation, unlike, say, Buddha or Shankara, who divulge a message of purely vertical metaphysics which stands outside time. In fact, the same could be said of the Koran, and we can see how this leads to certain inevitable problems, i.e., either the devaluation of time (as in Buddhism), or else the attempt to cease it altogether, so that we might all live shabbily ever after in a 7th century caliphate worse than death.

But Jesus appears within a dense network of earlier truths, of which he is said to be the "fulfillment." Ultimately, as we shall see, his form is very much temporal as opposed to spatial.

As such, as I mentioned in the new testavus, apprehending his form is much more analogous to hearing a symphony, which must be listened to in its entirety before we can know what it was about. You might say that the "future" of the symphony illuminates its past, and reveals the necessity of various passages which can only be tied together and "resolved" within time. (cf. The Tristan Chord for the most extreme case.)

This is quite unique among the world's revelations, because it is so entangled with history, which means that it somehow renders history -- which would otherwise be purely horizontal -- an extension, or expression, of the vertical. You might say that at the center of Jesus' mission, as it were, is the verticalizing of the horizontal, whereas for Buddha or Shankara, it would be simply escape from the horizontal. Whereas Jesus is like a symphony, Buddha would be like a great painting.

(This is not to criticize the latter, just to highlight the differences; also, the later Bodhisattva principle involves a certain horizontalizing impulse, in the sense that the liberated person forgoes the vertical for the horizontal in order to devote his life to saving the damned, those deluded souls who are marooned in the purely horizontal. Thus, the Bodhisattva is in the world, but not of it.)

As Balthasar explains, Christ's form is embedded "within a context of events which partly condition Jesus' historical person and which are partly conditioned and prompted by it." This is a rather interesting observation, because it means that, in the Incarnation, there is a certain "random" element. In other words, if God is going to submit himself to man, it means going the whole hog, and submitting himself to time, to history, and even to the random element that intrudes in the herebelow.

Indeed, without submitting to this random element, one would not be truly submitting to the real conditions of mankind. As Balthasar writes in A Theology of History, "In order to become manifest, the absolute uniqueness of God, uniting itself with the humanity of Jesus, makes use of the relative uniqueness of a particular historical personality..."

This then leads to the interesting question of how one conveys intrinsic and unchanging Truth within the context of change? Think about it. It would be analogous to incarnating as a metaphysics professor in a liberal university, where the only truth is that truth does not exist. But that would be the one place that would be most aching for the appearance of Truth, would it not, even if it meant being crucified by the inquisitors of political correctness? Indeed, how else to teach these devils that the crucifixion of Truth is the central truth -- and therefore, lie -- of the left?

It gets even more complicated, because if we are to believe the totality of revelation, then Jesus is the Total Truth who appears in the historical context of his own "partial truths" that had to first lay the groundwork for his own reception. Here, I see that Balthasar is on the same page with me thus far:

"A statue can be placed anywhere; a symphony can be performed in any concert hall; a poem of Goethe's can be understood and enjoyed without any knowledge of its biographical context." But the form of Jesus "cannot be detached from the place in space and time in which it stands. He is what he is only by fulfilling, on the one hand, all the promises that point to him, and, on the other, by himself making promises which he will at some time fulfill."

Again, this is a fascinating thing to contemplate. It reminds me of how you can trace your family tree back so that it looks as if you are the final cause, the meaning, the fulfillment, the "end point" of all of those previous generations.

At the same time, you could reverse the image, so that a family tree grows into the future from your single point of departure. Thus we have the image of a point in the present, with two trees growing from it, one into the past, the other into the future. Therefore, you are the cause of both your ancestors and descendants.

It is as if Jesus does the same thing, except with all of history and all of mankind. In other words, all of history leads to his "point," and then flows into the future from that point. But where is the point? Is it his birth? His life? His teachings? His resurrection?

It is somehow all of these things, not to mention the fact that, once he enters history, his causal power is far from over, as he continues to exert a profound effect on people and events. The "whole line of development in the history of salvation is ordered toward himself as its climax and subjected to himself as the meaning which fulfills it..."

In this regard, Jesus doesn't just give meaning to history, but somehow "is himself history," or "the living center of history itself." Again, think of how different this is from situating the center in a point in space, such as Mecca, or the Scientology Celebrity Centre International in Hollywood.

As I have mentioned before, Jesus is more like a vertical depth charge dropped from on high into history, which then causes a kind of temporal tsunami, so that the waves from the original impact continue to lap upon the shore of the present. And the waves will bear the "imprint" of the original event, just as we can trace the present background radiation to the "big bang" at the origin of the horizontal cosmos.

This is again only fitting, if "the Word becoming flesh" implies the vertical becoming horizontal. For, as Balthasar explains, "To the horizontal power with which he encompasses all time and rules all space 'even to the ends of the earth,' centering world history on himself, there corresponds the vertical power with which he makes the Father visible and with which he makes present, in his witness concerning the Father, the Father's witness to him."

What a marvelous paradox! Just yesterday I was thinking how different Christianity would be if, instead of truly submitting to the world, Jesus tried to "conquer" the world, à llah Mohammed. Obviously it would no longer be Christianity, for central to it is this idea that the Word becomes flesh not to overpower the world in the horizontal sense, but to redeem it.

Mariani refers to "Christ's Great Sacrifice, the ramifications of his radical self-emptying and humility, not grasping after what was his by right, but returning everything to the Father in an act of total self-emptying, even unto a criminal's death on the cross." What a strange God! Who would ever invent such a counter-intuitive story?

For the man who is spiritually existent, who is directed upon the whole of reality, in other words, for the man who philosophizes, this question of the end of history is, quite naturally, more pressing than the question of "what actually happened." --Josef Pieper, The End of Time

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where the Buoys Are

I feel as if I'm starting to repeat myself. Which I guess shouldn't be surprising, since Balthasar spends volume one of The Glory of the Lord laying out the argument in great detail, then the subsequent six volumes supporting it in even greater detail. But at some point you have to let it go. I mean, what comes after ad nauseam?

The problem is especially pertinent to the dialectical jazz metaphysician and improvisational pneumanaut, who never likes to play the Cosmic Suite the same way twice. So I might pick up the tempo a bit, and see if we can't at least get our TOE tapping (Theory of Everything).

There is the cosmos. And then there is the cosmos of revelation. Both are worlds, the former exterior, the latter interior. The exterior cosmos is obviously dependent upon the interior, which is why a total knowledge of the exterior cosmos would reveal nothing of its interior dimension.

Indeed, the mere fact that the cosmos may possess knowledge of itself is far more interesting -- shocking, really -- than any of the knowledge itself. Those blunted souls who are unable to appreciate the miracle of subjectivity are analogous to someone who jumps over a quarter to save a nickel.

In fact, James touches on this very issue this morning. That is, he essentially asks us to meditate on the absurdity of exterior revelation being completely identical to interior revelation. If this were the case, then to know the science would be to know the Creator. But so what?

"This way of proceeding, while initially impressive and useful, is ultimately ridiculous. God goes to all the trouble to reveal himself and he ends up saying that? It would be like someone handing you DVD saying 'this is what God himself has revealed about your life', which, when you watched it, was a short documentary narrating all the basic facts of your life. With revelation like that, who needs revelation? If that were all God did, who needs God?"

When we say "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," I'm pretty sure this is what we're talking about -- about the gulf between the two worlds. Science can only reveal how things are on the surface, not how they are supposed to be deep down. The same with any discipline, really.

For example, a historian can only tell you what happened, not what was supposed to happen (although every historian, no matter how secular, always sneaks in his implicit idea of what was supposed to happen, but without ever justifying it. The next time one of them glibly suggests that Bush was an awful president because x number of people died in Iraq, calmly ask him how many lives will have been saved -- let alone made meaningful -- in the next 100 years because of the liberation of Iraq).

So with the aid of the interior revelation, we discern the meaning and trajectory (which amount to the same thing) of history, and therefore see how, in fulfilling itself, it is transcended. In other words, to say that history has any meaning whatsoever is to immediately lift the raw facts of history beyond themselves to a plane higher than history. The problem is, the secular historian has no rational basis for doing this, no defensible grounds for saying that history is anything other than one damn thing after another.

Again, consider James' analogy of a complete DVD of someone's life. You could sit through the whole production and not understand a single thing about the meaning of the life in question, because meaning is always an interior phenomenon. Ultimately it is the organizing principle, the lens through which we can understand all the "parts" of one's life. Thus, to say "meaning" is to say "interior."

In my case, as I sit here typing, I am "effortlessly straining," so to speak, to make out the contours of a nonlocal object that is just beyond the subjective horizon. It is my "meaning," my north star, except that this star is in the invisible firmament of the celestial realm. I know when I am in its orbit, because it confers a kind of spontaneous interior coherence that must then be deployed in a linear fashion, which I call O-->(n). This is how Balthasar describes the world of revelation, through which

"meanings come together to build but one faultless and yet effortless equilibrium: they had all been harmonized into a sovereign unity before we ever perceived them. The strange aprioristic certainty dawns on us that in this cosmos of revelation we can always press forward with our investigations and discover new connections and proportions...."

In other words, this is a kind of truth that is simultaneously "created" and "discovered" -- in fact, not discovered unless it is created. Otherwise, we fall into the danger of regarding revelation in the same way we do scientific knowledge, which again can be passed from mind to mind like an object, with no loss of information.

But to pass along religious truth in this manner is to miss its most important dimension. The externality of religion is analogous to a system of buoys over the sea. You might say that the buoys tell us where to dive in. But mere knowledge of the whereabouts of the buoys tells one nothing about the depths below.

And this is the bumbling block of the mere natural man, who is not just exterior to the cosmos, but exterior to himself. All he can legitimately say of religion is that "I know something is happening here, but I don't know what it is, do I, Mr. Jones?"

"Reason cannot contemplate the phenomenon as it were from the outside and the inside at the same time. To want to see the stained-glass window from the inside is already to believe." For it is to be drawn into the realm of the thing itself, the Divine Attractor at the end of history, which Balthasar describes as "an ontological gravitational pull like that of the part for the whole or the finite for the infinite." Importantly, this longing for the infinite whole preserves the finite part, since it is an intrinsic and "beloved" reflection of the Divine Beauty, even unto death. For

"this supratemporal beauty is able both to contain and to vindicate the death of the beautiful, because death, too, belongs to the form in which immortal beauty becomes manifest, and it is dying which in the end truly impresses immortal beauty upon the spirit that contemplates it."

Dialectic jazz?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

His Master's Voice (9.24.12)

Still feeling slightly discoonb'obulated with the manflu. I am, however, full of ideas -- or, an idea, to be precise -- except that the idea is not yet fully half-baked, and therefore not ready for posting. It first needs to be put away and composted in the darklight of the over & underconscious mind. It's difficult for me to blog about anything other than what's not on my mind at the moment, but I shall try, or at least give up.

A question: do kaliblind atheists have a point when they say that there is no evidence of God, and that if there were such evidence, then they would be believers? By "evidence," they usually mean something along the lines of magic. That is, they want to see something that is utterly inexplicable and defies all logic and reason -- you know, pink fairies under the bed. A miracle.

Let's look at it from God's point of view. Does he want to be known? Does he want people to know of his existence? So we have heard from the wise. But how does one reveal evidence of a person, especially if that person abides in a higher dimension, so to speak?

For example, how could I prove to my dog that I as a person exist? It's not as easy as it sounds, because dogs only experience you in dog categories. They might see you as the alpha dog, and respond accordingly. But they can't really conceive of your interior personhood. It is a dimension they cannot enter. I suppose they can apprehend some of its "energies," but never its essence, to throw a bone to one of man's best palamas.

Balthasar asks, "How, then, can we speak of the 'form of Christ' when most things about him -- the essential: his divinity and all the mysteries connected with it -- remain hidden and unfathomable in their internal depths of meaning?"

He responds that "We must begin by replying that the first and pre-eminent intention of the self-revealing God is, precisely, really to reveal himself, really to become comprehensible to the world as far as possible." In other words, we have to assume that God really is "putting himself out there," and that, for whatever reason, this is how he feels the climb can best be accompliced.

Again, we have to put ourselves in the position of a dog trying to understand our master. A lot of what the master does is going to be incomprehensible to us, even though that is never the point. Likewise, if God's intention "were to make those who believe in him assent to a number of impenetrable truths, this would surely be unworthy of God and it would contradict the very concept of revelation" (Balthasar). In other words, we can't really call it "revelation" if it doesn't reveal something of God's interior, something we are capable of fathoming.

However, at the same time, we cannot pretend that we could ever fully comprehend God, any more than we could ever comprehend even another human being. Thus, "a necessary part of this manifestation is his eternal incomprehensibility."

But here again, this "incomprehensibility" is by no means synonymous with "ignorance." Rather, it is to apprehend the divine from within the mode of mystery; as such, it is more like a direct transmission of the myster-er to the myster-ee, or contained (♂) to container (♀).

I'm sure you're all well aware of this feeling. We call it (≈). One of our tasks is to "amplify" (≈), which is hardly to increase our ignorance, but to sensitize our receptor, or (¶), so as to transduce (≈) into (n). Thus, as Balthasar observes, this paradoxical communication is not "a negative determination of what one does not know, but rather a positive and almost 'seen' and understood property of him whom one knows."

And once you begin to familiarize yourself with this property, you begin to realize that it is an enduring characteristic of the "divine object," similar to the familiar "vibe" one gets in the presence of anyone. You know what I mean. Someone once said that you can really understand how you feel about someone if you pay attention to the feeling you have when you receive a letter addressed from them. It's like that. Communiques from God will carry that familiar vibe. But only if you pay attention to the return address.

The same holds for a great artist. The totality of an artist's work will transmit a sort of consistent vibration. It reminds me of the book This is Your Brain on Music, in which the author pointed out that every great rock artist has a certain distinct and unique timbre that lets you know in an instant that you are listening to them and no one else.

Think about it for a moment. The Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, Beach Boys, Byrds, Zombies, Animals, Creedence, Roy Orbison, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin -- each has a quite distinct "sound signature" that exists over and above the music itself. You know it's them from the first note.

In fact, one of the problems with modern recording technologies is the homogenization of sound, so that most contemporary music sounds rather bland and uniform. Few artists have that unique and inimitable sound signature anymore. To the contrary, radio stations actually want to have a kind of uniform vibe from artist to artist, so that when you tune into the station you know it's them. In other words, the timbre is no longer in the music, but the station.

And it's not just rock. For example, the timbres of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, and Patsy Cline are all quite distinct. But if you played them on a contemporary country music station, they would all sound quite out of place.

Now that I'm thinking about it, the Christian timbre is quite distinct from the Jewish, Hindu, or Buddhist timbre. Here again, this timbre exists apart from any specific content. Balthasar observes that God "has offered himself to the gaze of mankind from every possible angle, and this gesture of self-disclosure... was part of his fundamental mission to manifest and explain God to man."

The musical timbre alluded to above is more than the sum of the parts. This is why, for example, after the Beatles broke up, none of the individuals ever sounded like the totality. A Paul McCartney solo album sounds nothing like the Beatles, to put it charitably -- for the same reason that Joel Osteen sounds nothing like Thomas Aquinas.

In other words, the "form" of God is a kind of totality that cannot be understood outside the fullness of the revelation. Thus, within the perception of revelation "we can distinguish two elements which belong together: the apprehension of a wholly unique quality, to be ascribed particularly to the supernatural origin of the light of faith, and the apprehension of an interior rightness (which is precisely where this quality of uniqueness proves and manifests itself), that is, of the objective, demonstrable beauty of all proportions.... One aspect of the form always points to and supports the others."

And this is why it is perverse for us to mix revelations "from below." One can hardly imagine the monstrosity of, say, Pink Floyd performing Twist and Shout, or the Beach Boys singing Communication Breakdown, or Led Zeppelin doing Yellow Submarine. It might sound something like this:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Darwinian Gene Gnome Project to Ban the Most Liberary Books

The Absolute bears witness to itself in the form of Christ. I notice that this is a formulation Balthasar refers to number of times throughout The Glory of the Lord. He contrasts this with Eastern religions, "the essence of which is to give practical training in how to transcend one's own consciousness, how to make the finite spirit a vessel of the infinite Spirit -- a flute through which the inspiration wafts --, how to educate the spirit to renounce its own designs in order that the infinite designs may be realized through it."

I don't know how to reproduce the appropriate pneumaticʘʘns, but this difference would correspond to the symbol O with the upward ↑ or downward ↓ arrow inside, the former denoting the saint or mystic, the latter the Christ -- or, if you want to be a bit more general about it, the messiah, avatar, or God-man.

But to his disciples, the saint will become a kind of (small g) god-man, or flesh-made-word, and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this so long as we maintain our perspective and do not absolutize the relative.

For just as the Absolute bears witness to itself in the form of Christ, the saint or mystic bears witness to the Absolute. Like a written text, we must "see through" and beyond him to that which he points. His sanctity or holiness or nobility are like windows through which the light of the Absolute radiates into the herebelow.

Since Balthasar is dealing with a theological aesthetics, the discernment of spirits is an irreducibly qualitative matter, analogous to discerning great beauty in a poem or painting. While he obviously regards dogma as indispensable, in another sense, merely being told, say, that Jesus was "the Word made flesh," can be as cold a proposition as being told that Bach was the greatest composer, but never actually hearing the music; and not just hearing it, but hearing it deeply, on an interior level -- on a level adequate to its composer's interior state.

So how does one "judge" the Gospels beyond mere circular arguments from authority? For Balthasar, it is "by the quality of this Word as one which bears witness to itself... by the fact that here it is not a case of a man 'transparent to God' who proclaims the wisdom he has learned [the circle with the upward arrow], but that from this man's mouth divine authority speaks from the I-form [the circle with the downward arrow]." You could say that only discernment of extrinsic qualities can lift us out of the intrinsically closed circle of mere quantities.

In short, Christ is "God speaking man," while the mystic is "man speaking God." Thus, "at the point of closest similarity we find the sharpest distinction" -- which is why, for example, Jesus is totally acceptable to Muslims so long as he is regarded as just another prophet -- like Mohammed, only with a less perfect message. The perfect message is the Koran, which is really a form of bibliolatry, of Word made paper instead of flesh.

But it is one thing for the Word to become paper, another thing entirely for it to become flesh. For we are told by biologists that the simplest human cell contains more information than all the books in the New York City library.

No. Actually, a quick google search establishes the fact that this is far too modest a claim. For example,

“The information content of a simple cell has been established as around [ten to the twelfth power] bits, comparable to about a hundred million pages of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Evolutionist Richard Dawkins acknowledged that the cell’s nucleus 'contains a digitally coded database larger, in information content, than all 30 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica put together. And this figure is for each cell, not all the cells of a body put together.' Dr. Sagan estimated that if a person were to count every letter in every word in every book of the world’s largest library (approximately 10 million volumes), the total number of letters would be [ten to the twelfth power], which suggests that the 'simple cell' contains the information equivalent of the world’s largest library!"

So truly, compared to the most complex book, the human being is infinitely more complex. And what would it mean for each and every one of these cells to be infused with the divine light? Hard to say. For starters, probably something like this: "Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light." Who knows. Might even explain the nuclear scorch marks on the Shroud of Turin as well.

Now, the divine-human book is far too deep for human beings to fully fathom, which is a kind of seal of its authenticity, is it not? "But here 'incomprehensibility' does not mean a negative determination of what one does not know, but rather a positive and almost 'seen' and understood property of him whom one knows" (Balthasar).

In other words, "the more a great work of art is known and grasped, the more concretely are we dazzled by its 'ungraspable' genius. We never outgrow something which we acknowledge to stand above us by its very nature" (emphasis mine).

Compare this formulation to that of the metaphysical Darwinists, the liztardian queeglings who regard man is nothing more than matter made flesh. For them, this is all a human being is and can ever be: a series of transient adaptations to an arbitrary exterior environment. But for the Raccoon, man is an interior adequation to the Absolute, by any memes necessary.

Evolutionary psychologists and sociobiologists assure us that any human capacity, no matter how interior, sacred, beautiful, or intimate, is just an illusion -- a trick of the genes. Yes, goofy as it may sound, it takes more information than the world’s largest library just to spur you to enjoy coonjugal relations with your mate. Talk about overkill!

In the end, metaphysical Darwinism is the worst kind of crude anti-humanism, for it destroys the intrinsically human and drags everything down to the level of a meaningless competition for genetic survival. One can absolutely prove that metaphysical Darwinism is false simply by apprehending a single instance of absolute meaning.

For example, to know the simple but absolute truth that thou shalt not murder is to overturn that whole bloated Darwinian library. And if we can so easily invert that voluminous library, doesn't that imply something unique about the human station and its true liberary source?

Real human love is a greatway drug to the Divine plenitude, is it not? As Balthasar describes it, "Even the figure of a person whom we love and know well permanently remains for us too wonderful to exhaust by description, and, if we were truly lovers, we would be incensed if someone offered an account of the loved person which resolved all the mysteries about him."

I have to disagree. I never become incensed by the bonehead Darwinians and their insane reductionism. I just laugh at them. At least for now. But if they should ever prevail in their truly genocidal mission to obliterate the human station, that would probably be enough to tick me off.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pulling the Cosmos Together with All the Eternity that's Fit to Print

Something's going around here in Tonga. Been fighting off a cold since Friday, and at the moment it's pretty much of draw, which for me is a victory. I've been using Zicam religulously, and so far it's working. My colds used to be much more unpleasant before I discovered this highly effective placebo a couple of years ago.

Still, there is a subtle effect on the body, mind and spirit, so I'm not sure how far we'll get today. I remember Sri Aurobindo mentioning that he was actually able to transform any sensation into a pleasant and/or interesting one, just by hovering above and observing. Until he shattered his thigh bone in 1938. He said he wasn't able to detach himself from that one. Must have been like Spiderman 2, when Peter jumps off the building and lands on a car below. Even the b'atman has his limits.

So, diving right back into the Balthasar may be temporarily beyond my capacities. At least until I'm warmed up. Anyway, at the moment, I'm pondering something James wrote about, Atheism as Negation. Which, leaving its intrinsic merits aside, is an interesting thing in itself, for why waste your time trying to negate that which does not exist?

I remember when I started doing this blog, it was with the idea of turning the cosmos upside down and inside out (back to its proper orientation), and then publishing "All the Eternity That Fits." I mean, we are not just totally saturated with news sources, but with news itself. In other words, it is not just the epistemology of news that concerns us, but the ontology. "The news" -- at least in its present configuration -- would have to represent the polar opposite of "the eternals." It fixes us to the transient in the same way that Sri Aurobindo's broken leg fixed him to the body.

But just as the body has a soul (or rather, vice versa), the "news" is a function of eternity (for the converse could never be true). And if we ignore the eternity pole of the dialectic, news turns into what it has become, a kind of "reverse mysticism," a hypnotic fascination with the transient and trivial, so you end up leaving the frontier of O, the wild godhead, for the disjointed necropolis of Ø. Good luck with that.

Of course, it is always possible to sift through the news for its eternal patterns and lessons, but how often does that occur? Not often, because you can't just be a journalist, but an artist, seer, or visionary of some kind. I think of James Joyce, who demonstrated in Ulysses the "temporal resonance" that occurs on a moment to moment basis, as the otherwise banal events of daily life resonate with our metamythological and transtemporal substrate. That's always occurring, but it takes activated cʘʘnvision to see it.

I believe I touched on this in the new testavus -- something about how the modern world and its nihilocracy of urgent nonsense forces us to dance to its jagged rhythms instead of abiding within the dudely hammock of eternity. For let's face it: to recoil from one of Petey's parables, "only the rug of eternity can pull your temporal room together." (Image courtesy Ace of Spades.)

Think about it. To the extent that you cannot do that, I think you'll find that it is because you've likely internalized "the world," which in turn displaces vertical reality. Hence the children's nursery rhyme, "there's nothing wronga' / than exile from Tonga."

The bottom lyin' is that if you live at the periphery instead of the center, the finest area rug in the world cannot redeem time and coordinate it with eternity. It has never happened, and never will happen, with any manmade philosophy. Only God can do that, through us. You might even say that we are God's cosmic "area rug," in that only human beings have the unique capacity to span all of creation, from the highest state of consciousness to the lowest state of queeghood.

Speaking of which, can Darwinism do this -- pull the cosmos together? Don't make me laugh! Darwinism tries to coordinate the world by making it all black. So yes, it does "pull the room together," but at the cost of making it a colorless, two-dimensional room that is no longer fit for human habitation.

For the metaphysical Darwinist forgets that the human subject requires a human environment in order to thrive and evolve. Or, to turn it around: fail to raise humans in their proper soul-environment, and they will internally die (and quite possibly kill, as a way to obtain a spurious, vampiric sense of life). Or, to put it another way, they will die to eternity and therefore chuck their very reason for being. This, my friends, is the evil of Queeg. Yes, his intentions are good, like a legally blind man doing his best to drive an automobile. But he is without a doubt a tool and puppet of the adversary, the hostile forces: →(¶)←.

Now, back to James' and his ponderful little post. You often hear atheists -- in fact, a number have left such comments here -- saying that they are atheists for the simple reason that they do not believe pink fairies live under their bed, or some similar barbarism. But as James writes, "Consider an atheism that is just the absence of God from one's normal everyday consciousness. In my own case, this would involve giving God no more thought than pink elephants, Zeus, or the genocide in Burundi."

Think about that for a moment. I also don't believe that pink fairies live under my bed. Frankly, I never think about pink fairies, and to the extent that other people believe they exist, I would just conclude that they are crazy, and leave it at that. I would hardly waste time writing lengthy treatises on why pink fairies do not exist, largely because mental illness is not susceptible to reason. If you fail to understand this, then you could certainly never be a psychotherapist. The whole point of mental illness is that it involves self-defeating beliefs, actions, traits and emotional states that persist outside any conscious control.

Sure, I could get into an argument with my patient, and try to "prove" to him that his thinking is all wrong. But this would get me precisely nowhere. In fact, this is the whole reason why psychoanalysis developed to begin with, because of a new appreciation of the irrational in human life, smack dab in the middle of the new positivistic "age of reason" that should have eliminated it.

In fact, this is also why the Romantics began to romanticize mental illness, for at least it was preferable to living like a Darwinian reason-machine, divorced from the deeper wellspring of our humanness. It's also why so many people reject Darwinism -- not because of the science, which is what it is, but because of the infrahuman metaphysics they're always trying to ram down our throats.

In truth, no amount of Darwinian magical thinking can eliminate that deeper -- and higher -- wellspring of our humanness. But it can never stop trying, precisely because of the persistence of that wellspring. This is why you should never believe one of these atheists who says he doesn't believe in pink fairies, for in fact, he can't stop thinking about them. It is the properly religious person who has left such childish beliefs behind.

One other point I'd like to make, although I'm not yet sure how it ties into the above. But James Cutsinger has a blog (if you go there, be very quiet -- I get the sense that, like me, he doesn't really want to publicize it that much and attract the wrong types).

As I have mentioned, a fair number of people contact me, asking about this or that spiritual technique, but my answer is always the same. I'm not saying that mine is the only way, but I always let them know that I made no progress until I abandoned "self power" for "(O)ther power." In other words, I finally surrendered and turned myself in to the authorities.

Now, to reference the aforementioned atheist, you could say that I effortlessly think about "pink fairies" all the time. It doesn't require any effort, but the abandonment of effort. In this regard, Cutsinger advises his correspondent to give up his intense effort and to "to escape the illusion that everything somehow depends on us." He then quotes Schuon, who wrote in a letter that,

“What matters a priori is not that we know how to concentrate; what matters is that we love to practice the Invocation…. It is better to invoke with joy while being a little distracted by harmless thoughts than to invoke without joy because the effort of concentration prevents one from being happy. It is necessary to guard against a perfectionism that is angry and ambitious, and basically individualistic; it is necessary to guard against all ‘zeal of bitterness’. It is better to invoke with carefreeness, like a bird which sings or like a child at play. Holy carefreeness readily combines with the sense of the sacred, thanks to confidence in God. Metaphysical knowledge and holy childlikeness must go hand in hand: ‘extremes meet’."

So, to tie it all together: stop trying so hard to tie it all together. You can't do it anyway. Plus, it's already tied together. You don't have to create God, any more than you have to beat your heart or digest your food. Just relux and call it a deity. Abide. Soon enough the pink fairies will roost in your back yard.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Darwin Day: Kwanzaa for the Metaphysically Retarded

I guess I let the Darwin assholyday slip by without a comment, didn't I? Here's something from two years ago. In the interim, I've probably written dozens of better posts on the subject, but this will do. I don't want to deviate from my Saturday policy of reposting things from 24 months ago, or else I'll be overwhelmed by the choices -- 1,200 now, to be exact.

Again, to remind the pathetic victims of materialitis and reductionosis: you needn't bother commenting, because I have no objection to natural selection so long as it confines itself to the children's table, and doesn't elevate itself to a faux religion, a la Queeg -- i.e., metaphysical Darwinism, which is another thing altogether. Even less do I have a problem with evolution, which easily transcends anything Darwin had to say about it.

*****

The minds of these people [the scientists] are too much accustomed to deal with physical things and things measurable by instruments and figures to be much good for any other provinces. Einstein's views outside his domain are crude and childish, a sort of unsubstantial commonplace idealism without grasp on realities. As a man can be a great scholar and yet simple and foolish, so a man can be a great scientist but his mind and ideas negligible in other things. --Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga

I'm going spend one more post wrapping up our discussion of Before the Dawn before moving on -- or in. And when I say "moving in," I mean that literally, for one of the interesting things about reading a book such as this is the exteriorizing effect it has on one's consciousness. Immersion in this kind of gross materialism really can destroy a soul. I do not mean that in the way that a spluttering creationist might mean it, but in a much more subtle way.

However, I do sympathize with the simple person of faith who objects to being bullied by this kind of ham-handed, totalitarian scientistic ideology. (I think this is the true meaning behind the surveys showing that most Americans "do not believe in evolution," for they probably mean the boneheaded and/or totalitarian kind.)

The uncorrupted soul naturally recoils at the idea that Matter is All. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I can well understand how a religious person might read just a few paragraphs of this book and dismiss it as "satanic," because in a very real sense, it is -- at least without the proper cognitive safeguards. It's very creepy to immerse oneself in this desolate, simplistic, and one-dimensional world that is so disproportionate to the beauty, nobility, and majesty of the human soul.

You needn't believe in the literal existence of satan in order to know that satan is a deceiver, and that the most dangerous deceivers are the terrible simplifiers -- i.e., Hitler, Stalin, and less radical but still extraordinarily dangerous demagogues such as Barack Obama (relax, troll, I am not comparing Obama to Hitler, even though his simplistically appealing radical agenda would destroy the United States as we know it). I forget who coined the term "terrible simplifiers," but I just googled it and came up with this relevant passage (on an unrelated topic) that gives a sense of what I'm talking about:

"The lack of a correspondence between abstraction and reality is all the more significant, since the real world is profoundly complex and contingent and an abstraction is inevitably simple. The terrible simplifiers who love abstractions cannot stand conditions and conventions muddling their perfect, clear theory. If life does not fit the theory, then it is life that has gone awry and must be made to fit. The terrible simplifiers are always perfectly willing, then, to embrace ideological crusades, violence and upheaval to better realise their 'principles'...."

The promise of violence always follows in the wake of the terrible simplifiers, but the violence to the soul actually occurs at the outset, and sets the stage for the physical violence or coercion. The physical violence is a consequence of the rebarbarization that goes hand in hand with the simplification which sanctions the violence by encouraging man to be less than he is.

[Just recently I have been reading a book by Charles DeKoninck which makes the same argument in a different way. In fact, it is similar to an argument I put forth in my book. That is, the scientist begins with the concrete human world (for where else could he begin?). Being that we are human, we are able to abstract things from this world. But the reductionist then makes the wholly unwarranted leap of taking his abstractions to be more real than the real world from which they are abstracted (similar to Whitehead's fallacy of misplaced concreteness). Metaphysical Darwinism is a fine example of this. Again: consciousness can explain much more about Darwinism than Darwinism will ever explain about consciousness. That is, unless you happen to be a terribly simple person.]

I am not accustomed to reading a book this simple and "mechanical." Although I breezed through hundreds of them in the course of writing my own, it's been awhile. Naturally, in order to complete chapters 1, 2, and 3 of One Cosmos, I had to familiarize myself with the latest findings in cosmology, theoretical biology, paleoanthropology, etc. But my specific concern in writing those chapters was mainly one thing: origins. What is the origin of the cosmos? Of life? Of the human subject? Existence, life and mind; or being, will, and interiority; and eventually freedom, truth and love. What is the nature of these things? What do they imply about the cosmos?

In posing these questions, my view was much wider than the scientist, for I didn't just want to know how life arose, but what it means that a supposedly dead cosmos can spontaneously come to life and then understand its own truth. What does this say about the kind of cosmos we inhabit? Is it just a meaningless and trivial fact, or does it cause us to rethink what sort of cosmos this is from the ground up (or top down)? Indeed, it would imply that that is the wrong question, for to the extent that we are able to understand it, the cosmos would have to be a form of the soul's sensibility, not vice versa.

Irrespective of whether humans became human 45,000 years ago or 15,000 years ago or 6,000 years ago, what does it mean that our cosmos has an interior horizon -- this calm, reflective center in the midst of swirling creation -- in which it may contemplate its deepest truths? For I can well understand how humans could change as a result of becoming better adapted to their changing environment. But the random change of natural selection can tell us nothing about our miraculous capacity for transcendence of everything, including ourselves, in the light of a priori truth.

Only man is built for transcendence. A man who fails to transcend himself sinks beneath himself. He is not a proper man, but a beast among beasts. What can it mean that the cosmos has produced a being who hangs halfway suspended between what he is and what he is to become, between is and ought, between our genetic blueprints and a transcendent blue prince?

For there is no humanness in the absence of the ought. But here again, subverting this reality is behind the agenda of the materialists, for there can be no "ought" in a purely material world. Rather, there is only is. With this brutal reduction, man, whose roots are aloft, is severed from himself and condemned to a narrow ideological prison of his own making.

It is instructive that one can rapidly skim a book such as Before the Dawn in one's spare time in a day or two, and fully understand it. There is nothing remotely difficult about it or about Darwinism in general. Queeg and his liztards are proof of this.

On the other hand, not only can one not skim, say, Meditations on the Tarot or casually enter the spiritual cathedral of Meister Eckhart, but it takes a lifetime of preparation and "interior work" in order to appreciate them at all. They will be entirely opaque to the uninitiated, regardless of what they think they understand. Furthermore, any work of a true spiritual master is infused with a light and a force that facilitates a direct transformation of consciousness, and mysteriously keeps their words both fresh and inexhaustible, so that one may return to them time and again for new insights. At different times in your life and at different levels of spiritual maturity, they will speak to different parts of you. This is axiomatic: "When I was a child, I understood as a child." (A fine example of the type of higher evolution routinely discussed in the Bible.)

Back to the terrible simplification of the modern Darwinian synthesis. This is it: Everything = Random Error + Environmental Selection (E = RE + ES). Got it? That is all you need to know because that is all you can know -- although just how you can know it is a bit of a mystery, since it too must ultimately be reducible to RE + ES.

Nevertheless, it easily answers all questions. Religion? E = RE + ES. Human groups that endulged in this fantasy somehow had more reproductive fitness, that's all. Language? E = RE + ES. Apes that spoke had more babies. Love? E = RE + ES. A trick of the genes. Just a way to get you to reproduce. Beauty? E = RE + ES. The creation of illusion in order to make the pursuit seem worthwhile. Intelligence? E = RE + ES. Intelligence implies progress, something which is strictly forbidden in the Darwinian view. Nothing is any more or less intelligent, only better adapted to its environment. Wisdom? Don't even go there. No, can't even go there.

E = RE + ES. Got it? Now that you've got it, please bear in mind that you are not permitted to have any other thoughts about reality, because this is the answer that exhausts all questions. It is the graveyard of real curiosity, which is now rendered a pointless hindrance to your reproductive fitness.

Ironically, this satanic reductionism cannot avoid carrying a sacred ought of its own, as reflected in the anti-religious jihad of the obligatory atheists -- the simple Dennetts and even simpler Queegs. Yes, The Gospel According to Darwin (Tail wiggle: Walt) insists that the good news of E = RE + ES should be celebrated on Darwin Day, February 12, the day our scientistic savior was born. For this is the day that the word -- the only word there actually is, E = RE + ES -- became flesh. Naturally, before that, the word existed -- it cannot not exist -- but no one knew it.

But why a celebration, unless it is a funeral, since E = RE + ES spells the end of our humanness as such?

Because it's built into our genes, silly. Celebration increases social solidarity and therefore reproductive fitness. Pretty pathetic way for these beta males to try to meet women, if you ask me.

Blue prince:


Get-a-clue prince:

Friday, February 13, 2009

On Successfully Gaining No Faith in Oneself

Again, nine out of ten transcendentists agree that if we wish to prevent truth decay, the eye of spirit must become proportionate to the divine reality, and that faith is a necessary component of this. For this reason we insist that the act of faith in the divine reality is wholly rational, being that it has a rational end.

In other words, the rationality of faith depends upon its object, not the faith itself. After all, people have faith in Obama, or Al Gore, or the New York Times, but that is hardly rational. Such a misplaced faith actually shrinks the being and arrests the deepening of one's interior, so one remains a child forever.

In short, be careful what you have faith in, because faith creates an empty space for the Other to operate. And there are some bad otherf*ckers out there in the cosmos who are just waiting to hijack your soul.

Importantly, faith is not necessarily synonymous with "belief," the latter of which may simply be an overly-saturated dogma with no possibility of evolution. In fact, you might say that faith can clear a space for a kind of dynamic unbelief (not disbelief), which in turn makes it possible to possess something deeper and more robust than mere belief.

Here again, I don't have time to dig out exhumeples, but one will find many in the Gospels or Tao Te Ching, e.g., "blessed are the poor in spirit," or "to become full you must become empty," etc. This is why in my own godspiel, I employ the symbols (---) and (o) to signify this dynamic faith, or the silence and openness necessary to receive (↓).

To employ a computer banalogy, you could even say that this is the means through which we download the Word into our flesh, or the ultimate sophware into our hardheart. In turn, this would be how we begin to allow the Cosmic Center to reside in us, out here at the periphery. Then it is just as Paul said: it is longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. Again, perfect nonsense, no?

It is not so much that we become the center of the cosmos, but that we participate in the center. Or, you could say that we are "not two," because for one thing, we are three. Here is how Balthasar describes the satchituation:

"God can be known only by God. Faith, along with love and hope, is infused divine life in us, which cannot be detached from God's eternal life, but which draws back and incorporates into this life the creature that has become detached" (emphasis mine). In other words, it is not so much we who are "born again," but God who is born again in the ground of the soul who extends the invitation.

Or, you could say that O is the Great Attractor, and as we participate in this fideal attraction, we are slowly converted into that which attracts us. In ether worlds, we might think we are attracted to God -- which we are -- but that is like saying that the earth is attracted to the sun. In reality, the sun is doing most of the heavy lifting and heavenly gifting.

In the fallen manalysis, "faith" is not even ours. Rather, it belongs to God. This reminds me of how, in reality, the breast does not belong to the mother. Rather, it belongs to the infant. The mother is "responsible" for it, but nevertheless, the infant is enteatled to it. The breast is as much a part of the infant as it is the mother. In fact, more so, since the baby will die without it, whereas the mother can go on living with fake ones.

So, we are responsible for our faith, but it really belongs to God. Again, Balthasar: "As long as he continues to treat 'his faith' as his own possibility, he still does not believe at all, but is perhaps still debating whether he ought to risk the leap of faith."

Only after we have reached the nul de slack of our own (merely) human possibilities -- i.e., spiritual blankruptcy -- can the Divine presence begin to get the upper hand. As Balthasar describes it, realization cannot occur in the believer until it becomes a "real event by his self-abandonment to Jesus Christ, who alone can help his unbelief" (emphasis mine).

Just as we cannot "see" reason, we cannot see faith, because both represent the light by which we see their respective spheres. The faith of the authentic lumen being "can never become objectified," but "shines forth only in the realization of either the act of faith or the act of knowledge when it is objectively oriented."

But here again, just as it is not wholly our faith, neither is it our knowledge -- which is no different than in science, since a scientific truth by definition cannot belong to the individual; rather, if it is true, then it is universal.

Balthasar: "[I]n man's turning to Christ what shines forth is not man's own aptitude for faith, but rather Christ's aptitude to give to the inept a share of his own light and power. The light of being envelops both subject and object, and, in the act of cognition, it becomes the overarching identity between the two."

And here's the money quote: "The light of faith stems from the object which, revealing itself to the subject, draws it out beyond itself into the sphere of the object."

This is how we cross the bridge of darkness to the father shore, and end up out here, floating upstream beyond the subjective horizon in Upper Tonga.