Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Subhuman Agenda of the Psychospiritual Left (2.26.10)

Hand-selected from February '07, here is your previously read meat Saturday laughedover. Remember, if you don't read your meat, you can't have any pudding. Looks like it's long enough to last the whole weekend.

*****

Another universal trinity as it pertains to man's vertical development is that of purification --> realization --> union (even though it is not exactly a linear process, since each is in the others; in other words, purification is a kind of realization and union, etc.).

Perhaps these three phases can also tell us something about our collective history, which -- let's face it -- is either a process that is leading somewhere, or just horizontal chaos onto which we superimpose fanciful patterns. Obviously I believe the former is true; and in fact, one of man's prerogatives -- one of the things that defines him as man -- is the ability to think historically. In other words, prior to this or that particular history is the intuition of absolute history itself. We could not understand any history if we weren't embedded in this total cosmic-historical drama.

Speaking of which, Dupree alerted me to the most appallingly fatuous piece of scientistic gobshite on dailykos the other day. If anyone wants to know why I so despise the secular left -- why it is the mortal enemy of the Coon way of life -- perusing this infrahuman dispatch from the bowels of metaphysical ignorance would serve as well as any, for it reveals the ultimate premise and goal of the left in all its hideously naked barbarity, which is to turn man into a beast. Entitled Science Friday: You Are Not That Special, it reads,

"a pair of recent articles point up the folly of making tool use the test of humanity. It appears that chimpanzees had their own 'stone age.' Around the same time the pyramids were being constructed in Egypt, Chimps in West Africa were using stone tools to get at hard-shelled nuts. It's not only chimpanzees of the past who use tools. It's long been known that some bands of modern chimps use sticks to tease insects from their hives."

There, you see? This ignoramus looks at the vast panorama of creation and concludes that one of the seven wonders of the world is indistinguishible from a hungry monkey cracking open a nut. By this adamantine logic, Kos himself is nothing more than a grubby chimp poking his joystick into a cyberhole to satisfy his animal impulses. Which, of course, is entirely true, but that's beside the point.

The self-confessed beast in question then asks,

"how can you draw the line between us and them? Emotions? Language? The answer is that you can't. There are no lines. Deeply unsatisfying as it is to the desire to group items into black and white (a tendency also not limited to humans), all the answers of science are grey."

Oh, really? What could be more black and white than suggesting that there is absolutely no distinction between animals and human beings? For example, even my dog knows better than this. Frankly she is in awe of Dear Leader and his magical powers -- indeed, even of Future Leader and the mysterious Trail of Food he leaves in his wake.

The stick-wielding kosmonkey then presumes to inform humans -- but how would he know? -- that "Your species is not that special. Reading the text of paleontology and history, there is no bold message of certainty. Winding back the clock reveals no inexorable march in our direction, or even the triumph of 'better' over 'worse'.... [H]uman history has been defined as much by fortuitous placement of natural resources as it has been by human action. You're the tail end of the tail end of a process that much more closely resembles random chance than progress toward an objective."

Furtherless, "Your world is not that special. Your planet is not located at the center of the universe. Neither is your star, or your galaxy. Perhaps most disturbing at all, as telescopes have revealed to us the enormity of space, both astronomy and geology have revealed the breathless expanse (sic) of time. We are not just insignificantly small items living in a vast ocean of space; we're living in a moment so brief that it's barely a single tick of a clock that's already run through millennia without us, and will not pause when we are gone."

I don't mean to dwell on this moronic diatribe, but it is important. Don't worry, we're almost done. He concludes on a bizarre note, by assuring us that

"No, you are not that special. And yet, you are a wonder, absolutely unique and irreplaceable. Your species is a wonder, gifted with physical and mental resources that provide boundless opportunity. Your planet is a wonder, swarming with life in infinite variety and complexity. Your universe is a wonder, based on laws so precisely balanced that the slightest variation in any of them might have caused everything -- space, time, and everything that moves through both -- to never have appeared."

Let's de-deconstruct this vacuous elegy to nothingness for just a moment, since it does such a good job of articulating the satanic agenda of the left, and presents such a perfect mirror image of reality, so that everything is precisely backwards and upside down.

According to Valentin Tomberg, all evolutionary progress in the vertical is accompanied by a sort of shadow version in the lower vertical. (Catholics know full well, for example, that the shadow of evil unavoidably entered the church with its inception.)

Will has referred to this as the "ape of God" -- not "ape" in the animal sense, but in terms of aping, or imitating. It would be perfectly accurate to say -- and all true theologians know this -- that leftism itself is the ape of the primordial doctrine. It is not analogous to, say, paganism, which, as Will has pointed out, had its role in the arc of salvation. After all, religion had to start somewhere, as does any developmental process. It only becomes pathological if the developmental process becomes arrested, if there is a regression to the earlier mode, or if there is a "fixation" or a "complex" -- a closed and bounded area that does not enter the stream of development, but becomes "stuck" in exactly the manner of a mind parasite.

In other words, a human being can be quite developed in certain areas but completely fixated in others. One thinks of Alan Watts who, on the one hand, could speak so eloquently and charismatically about matters of spirit, but on the other, was a pathetic alcoholic with a masochistic spanking fixation. (This is a topic for a different post, but it is possible to provoke an influx of spiritual energy before one is prepared -- i.e., to have realization prior to purification -- which can severely unbalance the personality, because it's as if everything gets infused with the force, mind parasites included. Hence all of the warnings against jumping onto the path unprepared or without guidance.)

You will note, for example, how deeply flawed were certain heroes of the Old Testament -- David comes to mind, or even a secular hero such as Alexander the Great. These men had a critical civilizing mission to accomplish, and behavior that was perfectly acceptable in Phase I of the Arc of Salvation would be entirely unacceptable in Phases II or III. We are called to a much higher moral standard, but let us never forget that the gulf between animal-man and Phase I man was probably even greater than the distance between Phases II and III. In his context, David is as great a man as any who has ever lived. Who knows, perhaps even Mohammed can be better understood in this context, since his task involved the evolution of the nomadic animal-men of the Arab world into Phase I. Islam began moving into Phase II some 700 years ago, but then pulled back for a variety of reasons. Now they wish to re-impose Phase I on the rest of the world, completely halting its evolutionary progress.

Back to leftism. It is not not just a fixation, a regression, or an arrested mode of development. Rather, it is in every respect a parallel, or "shadow" of principial truth. Let us review the main conclusions of the kosmonkey referenced above:

1) Man is an animal, fundamentally no different than any other.

2) Values are an illusion; nothing is actually any better than anything else (e.g., the Giza Pyramid is a stick in an ant hole and Shakespeare is Maureen Dowd).

3) Emotion and language -- or heart and head, meaning and truth -- cannot actually exist in any human sense. My dog knowing where to poop or when it's time for a walk is no different than the theory of relativity.

4) Nothing can be known with certainty, which is simply another way of saying that nothing may be known except falsehood -- which is no knowledge at all.

5) Ironic though it may be for a "progressive" to say, there is actually no direction in history, no objective standard of measurement, no better or worse. Our unique Western values have nothing whatsoever to do with our extraordinary "success." As that other fourteen-karat boob, Jared Diamond, has argued, it's just a matter of geography, disease, and fortuitous placement of natural resources.

6) There is no intrinsic meaning in the cosmos, much less in your life -- which is simply a tale told by a tenured idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying a lifetime gig at taxpayer's expense.

7) The secular leftist takes an appallingly violent wrecking ball to the entire realm of the vertical, in that not only are you not special, but you are insignificantly small. Furthermore, the world is not special -- which of course makes us wonder -- but not really -- why all these leftists cheer the fanatical message of Al Gore, which is obviously premised on the doctrinal truth that the earth is of infinite importance; here again, a fine example of the "ape of God."

8) Neither human beings nor the planet are at the center of the universe, since there is by definition no center once the vertical has been demolished by tenured monkeys with sticks. Again, the correct doctrine is that of course human beings are at the very center of the cosmic drama if viewed vertically. The center of a three-dimensional cone is a line that descends from the point to the base, not anything located along the base. Reduced from three to two dimensions, we are left with only a circle at the base. This is the self-imposed "circle of hell" inhabited by the the secular left, which they -- no different than the Islamists -- would like to impose upon the rest of us.

No, we're not done, because once the leftist has annihilated the vertical -- which is definitional for them -- he performs a bait and switch, inserting the horizontal values of the left into the hole he has created with his monkey stick. This is where the "ape of God" comes into play. Some are more slick and subtle than others -- i.e., Obama or the Clintons -- but the kosmonkey is not subtle, to say the least. In one sentence he declares,

1) No, you are not that special.

And then, in the very next sentence, 2) Yes, you are a wonder, absolutely unique and irreplaceable!

As you folks with a rudimentary grasp of logic will have noticed, there is no way to derive (2) from (1), the eternal yes of life, love, hope, meaning, truth and beauty from the NO! of abject nihilism.

But here your troubles have only just begun, because -- to paraphase someone -- hell is the place where logic is rendered null and void, as in a Kafka novel. I will just end with something I wrote a while back, and let you draw your own conclusions:

"The philosopher Michael Polanyi pointed out that what distinguishes leftist thought in all its forms is the dangerous combination of a ruthless contempt for traditional moral values with an unbounded moral passion for utopian perfection.

"The first step in this process is a complete skepticism that rejects traditional ideals of moral authority and transcendent moral obligation. This materialistic skepticism is then combined with a boundless, utopian moral fervor to transform mankind.

"However, being that the moral impulse remains in place, there is no longer any boundary or channel for it. One sees this, for example, in college students (and those permanent college students known as professors) who, in attempting to individuate from parental authority and define their own identities, turn their intense skepticism against existing society, denouncing it as morally shoddy, artificial, hypocritical, and a mere mask for oppression and exploitation. In other words, as the philosopher Voegelin explained it, the vertical is 'immamentized' into the present, expressing the same religious faith but in wholly horizontal and materialistic terms.

"What results is a moral hatred of existing society and the resultant alienation of the postmodern leftist intellectual. Having condemned the distinction between good and evil as dishonest, such an individual can at least find pride in the unblinking 'honesty' of their condemnation. Since ordinary decent behavior can never be safe against suspicion of sheer conformity or downright hypocrisy, only an amoral meaningless act can assure complete authenticity. This is why, to a leftist, the worst thing you can call someone is a hypocrite, whereas authentic depravity is celebrated in art, music, film, and literature. It is why, for example, leftist leaders all over the world were eager to embrace a nihilistic mass murderer such as Yasser Arafat."

Let us stipulate that we are engaged in a cosmic struggle between human beings and monkeys with sticks, newspapers, academy awards, IRS thugs, Supreme Court seats, UN resolutions, suicide bombs, and tenure. Choose sides wisely. It's up to you, but my advice is to choose the side for which the possiblity of wisdom exists, and to steer clear of the side that thrashes wisdom to dust with its primitive tools.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What is Man that the Genome is Mindful of Him? (2.27.10)

This is what I call a "Jeopardy post." That is, every once in awhile the title for a post is given to me before the content. In order to win, I have to supply the post for the title. It's a little game Petey likes to play with me.

The first thought that occurs to me is that I wish I could remember the details of Wolfgang Smith's books, e.g., The Quantum Enigma or Cosmos and Transcendence. Somewhere in there he talks about the distinction between the corporeal world -- i.e., the real human world -- vs. the merely physical world that is abstracted from the former.

Ah ha! I'm actually thinking of this book, The Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology. The corporeal universe is "the world to which human sense perception gives access. And this is indeed our world; the world in which we find ourselves. This corporeal universe, moreover, is in fact the only objective world which our human faculties -- sensory and mental -- allow us to know."

In contrast, the physical universe is the "described universe," as seen through the lenses of our abstract descriptions. It is at least once removed from the corporeal world, and is irreducibly subjective.

Take, for example, the subatomic world: is it composed of waves or particles? It all depends upon how we look at it, or the questions we ask. Science is merely a systematic way to interrogate nature, so nature, like any good witness, will give its answers in conformity to the question.

Or, you could say that a scientific theory is like a net that we cast out over the ocean of being. It will catch certain facts, while others will either slip through the net or tear it to shreds. And others facts are swimming so deep below or above the surface, that the net can't extend that far.

I see that Smith says what amounts to the same thing: "The physicist, it turns out, is not simply an observer, but a creator of secondary realities: he observes by creating, one could almost say."

However, this is not creation ex nihilo; it doesn't mean, as many new agers suggest, that the world is somehow entirely subjective, and that we "create reality" through perception. Rather, it is a much more subtle process, which I believe is most adequately described by Michael Polanyi, in particular, by his theory of tacit knowing and the distinction between subsidiary and focal knowledge.

Timelessness doesn't permit a full evasion, but Polanyi beautifully explains how scientific progress is only possible because of the human ability to simultaneously discover and create the world.

It sounds paradoxical, but it really isn't. Our scientific abstractions are analogous to the cane of a blind man, which he uses to "probe the dark" and construct a model of his surroundings. In so doing, where is the reality, in the solid matter touched by the cane, or the model he tacitly constructs in his head? Obviously it's a kind of dialectic, an ongoing interaction between the two.

However, does this mean there are two worlds, or that our corporeal world is somehow an "effect" of the physical world? Think about it. Physicists describe a subatomic world that is shockingly different than the corporeal world, so much so that it is difficult, if not impossible, to see how they relate.

But the problem is only a result of a reductionism that inverts the cosmos and conflates the physical and corporeal worlds -- as if the quantum world is corporeal and not simply an abstraction. But "all knowledge of the external world begins in the perceptible realm: deny the perceptible object, and nothing external remains.... Contrary to what we have been taught in schools and universities, real tables are not 'made of molecules'" (Smith). No one can actually surf on a wave function, any more than you can see the smile of a Cheshire cat or chick after they've split.

Now, what goes for physics goes for biology. Obviously, Darwinism does not explain man; rather, I think we can all agree that man explains Darwinism. That much is self-evident, except perhaps to metaphysical Darwinians, who put the genetic cart before the organismic horse, i.e., the physical before the corporeal. Humans are no more "made of genes" than this table is "made of atoms" or my consciousness is "made of neurons." Ironically, consciousness is not just "part" of the corporeal world, but its very essence, for what could be more concrete than your own being?

Once we invert the cosmos and reinstate our proper orientation, we understand its Reason. As DeKoninck writes, "The being in which resides the end of the cosmos must be both immobile and cosmic; both spirit and matter must be found in it, its essence must be composed of a spiritual principle which integrates the cosmos."

Thus, "Man is manifestly the raison d'être of the whole of nature," the "end of all possible natural forms." Indeed, "every natural form tends toward man." Furthermore, "nature could not be ordered to God except through man. God being the end of the universe, it is necessary that the universe be capable of a return to its Universal Principle. But only an intellectual creature is capable of such a return.... In other words, only a creature capable of making a tour of being can return to the source of being" (emphasis mine).

And for those of you who still don't understand why the c♀♂nifestʘ had to have the trippy circular structure, that is why, for life is a round trip and a round trip.

Life is the meaning of matter, that to which matter points and converges upon. Similarly, Mind is the meaning of Life, that to which it points. And now we realize the meaning of our very existence, that to which it has always been pointing and converging upon: the Unity of Reality. Once again, by turning the cosmos upside down, ultimate meaning is found not at its material base but its immaterial summit.... Only then do we find out what we are made of -- a Divine substance that has returned to itSelf, even though it never really left in the first place. --I

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Laughing Matter of the Cosmos: Badda-Bing, Badda-BANG! (3.04.10)

Of all the vicious circles one could imagine, that in which the materialist encloses himself is the most primitive, restrictive, and binding. --Charles DeKoninck, The Cosmos

How does a cosmos that is supposedly purely exterior, become interior to itself? Or again, how does mere existence become experience? How does a primordial nuclear conflagration become conscious of is own truth? It seems that to even ask such questions takes us to the threshold of the unglishable, beyond which lies... what?

But pretending that the question permits of no answer is hardly the same having answered it. This is an example of how an intrinsic deficit of the scientistic approach is converted to a metaphysical dogma -- a minus is covertly turned into a positive, as it were.

DeKoninck illustrates the problem with the example of a simple electron. One could hypothetically follow its trail "from the water of a spring through the grass eaten by a cow and the cow in turn eaten by this gentleman," but it's the same electron. The electron will have remained identical as it passes from water to cow to gentleman -- even perhaps participating in his thoughts of how yummy the cow tasted. So how does an electron that is part of the pure exteriority of water become part of the pure interiority of a man's psychic life? How does the yummy become the yumminess?

In tracing this electron, there is no conceivable experiment -- nor could there ever be one -- that could disclose the ontological significance of the electron's activities, which simply "are what they are." Only up here, on the macro level of human experience, can we appreciate the infinite gulf between the electrons of a rock and those of a human subject.

But the same can obviously be said of our genetic endowment. Biologists tell us that the DNA of chimps and humans is 99% identical, or whatever it is. Does this mean that a chimp has 99% of the ontological value of a human being? Only a moral idiot would suggest such a thing. For whatever else DNA is, it cannot account for the infinite gap between humans and animals. When it comes to electrons or genes, context is everything.

Coincidentally, I see that James has touched on this same issue this morning. The absurcular philosopher asks "how can the intellect be immaterial when no one can imagine how the immaterial can interact with the material?" But "It’s odd that people view this as an objection. I look at the same facts and view it as a proof. Of course you can’t imagine the interaction. That’s the whole point! Did you think we were kidding when we said 'immaterial'? If I could imagine the interaction, then I’d be wrong! Don’t you see that I’m insisting that you can’t imagine any interaction?"

Again, the scientistic bonehead essentially says, "Duh, I don't see anything immaterial. So it must not exist." Which is about as sophisticated as a child putting a blanket over his head and asking "who turned off the lights?!"

The point is, any attempt at an even minimally adequate ontology or epistemology breaks down if we fail to admit the reality of the immaterial. But once you admit the immaterial, then you are on a path that inevitably leads straight to God. Therefore, the contemporary materialist would prefer to promulgate a hopelessly incoherent worldview to ceding an inch of ground to any form of theism. I am quite sure this explains the spluttering hysteria and anti-intellectualism of a Queeg and his rabble of howling clones.

Raccoon metaphysics looks at the same mysteries as science, but regards them as doors or windows instead of walls. We begin with the idea that the interior of the cosmos is not something that is magically and unaccountably added later on in a wholly inexplicable manner. Rather, we say that there cannot not be an interior, for the simple reason that any outside by definition has an inside. This is more or less straight Taoism. However, it is also present in any all-purpose revelation.

For example, when Jesus says that his Kingdom is "within," this is what he means. In the Gospel of Thomas, he says the kingdom of heaven is spread out across the earth, only people do not see it.. Even if you question the authenticity of that book, I'm sure this is a sentiment Jesus would endorse. (One might even say that the kingdom is withinness as such, with certain qualifications.)

So, in Raccoon metaphysics we begin with interiority as an irreducible cosmic category. Indeed, if you try to reduce interiority to anything else, you are what we call a "moron." Nor will we bother debating you, for you are in essence affirming the thoroughly self-refuting position that neither truth nor the uncreated intellect that knows it actually exist. Go away and think some more. Preferably on your knees.

The notion of cosmic interiority is a key that opens many locks, and is the unifying cooncept that helps us to fruitfully approach most of the other mysteries in which we seem to be plunged. These would include wholeness, intelligibility, beauty, morality, love, individuality, creativity -- pretty much everything that defines the human world. In contrast, the bonehead materialist must reduce all of these cosmic realities to something more "fundamental," again destroying that which he presumes to explain. This is nothing less than intellectual and spiritual genocide.

I came across an all too typical example yesterday, which was breathtaking in its breezy confidence and abject stupidity -- you know, in the way that members of the MSM always combine those qualities. Let's see if I can track down the link... Here it is: Why Dreams Mean Less Than We Think. In short, move along, nothing to see here. A couple of scientific experts have "proved" that dreams are just a "complex but observable interaction of proteins and neurons and other mostly uncontrolled cellular activity." In a statement of unsurpassable naiveté, the author assures us that "After all, brain activity isn't mystical but — for the most part — highly predictable."

What's with the qualifier he slips in there, "for the most part"? What, is brain activity 51% uncontrolled cellular activity and 49% mystical? What a clown. If my dreams are nothing more than "uncontrolled cellular activity," why have they gradually transformed in tone and content as I have grown spiritually? Even on the face of it, the scientistic position is absurd. When you are granted one of those epic transformational dreams that are so pregnant with meaning, you know that you could no more have produced it than you could have made Citizen Kane in your sleep.

Here again, this is a classic case of scientistic bait-and-switch, of "(implicit) materialism in, (explicit) materialism out" -- of a metaphysical assumption dressed up as a scientific conclusion. In one therapy session, I could prove to these scientists that they are not even wrong about dreams. Or maybe not, depending upon their level of defensiveness and denial.

O, endarkened trolls, remember the sacred guffah-ha!, for we are not laughing with you, but at you and the inrisible yolk you can never crack!

But it is with the philosophical sense as it is with the sense of humor. All the arguments in the world aiming at showing the humor of a farce cannot make a person without a sense of humor laugh. A farce has lost its savor when one has demonstrated its risible qualities. The man without humor will follow our dialectic, but he will not laugh.... [And] we will laugh all the more at the spectacle infinitely more comic of the man without a sense of humor's grotesque disdain for that which he cannot apreciate. --DeKoninck

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Cosmic Evolution of the Subjective Horizon

The DeKoninck collection includes a previously unpublished book from 1936, entitled The Cosmos. You could say that this was an early attempt at One Cosmos Under God, only perhaps written by someone with a little more discretion. No one knows why he chose not to publish it. Well, too bad. He was posthumously overruled by his son, who has allowed it to to be published anyway.

Now, the first thing that strikes me about this book is how similar it is to what Teilhard de Chardin was attempting (not to mention Sri Aurobindo) at roughly the same time, but which did not see the light of day until after his death in 1955.

Although both men present a sweeping vision of cosmic evolution within a Catholic context, I would say that Teilhard was much more the ecstatic mystic, while DeKoninck is more the sober metaphysician (which provokes its own kind of ecstasy, or perhaps instasy). Scientistic nerds are unable to "get" Teilhard, being that they are so deaf to his more poetic, visionary, and noetic style. Nor, for that matter, would they be able to appreciate DeKoninck, since they are committed to a metaphysic that is so juvenile.

The Bible itself is also a closed book to these Vulgans, being that the typical Mister Crock tends to take the figurative as literal and literal as figurative. This is what happens when one is not anchored in the substance of truth itself, for it is truth that is being conveyed in scripture, whether literally or figuratively, it doesn't matter.

DeKoninck certainly had no problem whatsoever with evolution. The following sounds like it could have been written by Teilhard: "the physical universe... serves for a higher end that it approaches by losing its initial state of organization. The universe unpacks its matter with a view to higher construction. While the physicist observes in the physical world a greater and greater disorganization and diffusion, the biologist encounters living islands heading toward a more and more elevated organization, toward more intense concentration. Life seems to progress against the grain and at the expense of the current of degradation that carries the physical world toward extinction...."

The irony, of course, is that only a religious person is permitted to believe in evolution in its literal sense, which means to unfold, change, and develop in a certain direction. Make no mistake: in a godless universe, evolution would be strictly impossible. Rather, there could only be pure change, or absolute relativity. As you have no doubt noticed, no metaphysical Darwinians actually have the courage of their lack of convictions to see their first principles through to their grisly conclusion. Suffice it to say that anyone who believes otherwise hasn't thought things through. Just watch.

On the other side of that worthless coin are the occasionalists, who are much more Muslim than Christian, being that they have no idea how the Creator actually gets things done down here. Suffice it to say that while he may have counted all the hairs on your head, he doesn't have time to actually grow them for you.

Let's put it this way: to say "progress" is to say "God," for the very word implies a standard of truth, or beauty, or moral excellence, a standard which cannot exist in the absence of the absolute. Remove the absolute, then truly, nothing is any better or more true than anything else. This is a hierarchical cosmos. Deal with it.

Teilhard talked about "radial" vs. "tangential" energy, the latter being the entropic tendency of the cosmos, the former its negentropic tendency. The negentropic tendency has to do with information, complexification, linking, mind, and interior, while the entropic arrow implies the opposite. In fact, you could simply call them "mind and matter" (the latter in its Thomistic sense of prime matter, or pure unformed potential). In Hindu metaphysics these two categories are called purusha and prakriti, while in Coonspeak we unname them O and Ø or ♀ and ♂.

In turn, this fundamental complementarity of our cosmos is reflected in the irreducible categories of subject/object, form/substance, wave/particle, knower/known, individual/collective, part/whole, time/eternity, Lennon/McCartney, etc. The dynamic play of these complementarities is directional, and "evolution" is what we call the unfolding process that takes place in the space between them.

This is how and why a supposedly lifeless (we cannot say "dead") cosmos results in all this marvelous truth, beauty, complexity, and interiority. As DeKoninck writes, "the biological world shows us an always growing concentration. Its movement is centripetal, arriving at a state of high organization and immanence. Life goes against time's dispersion. Time disperses, life gathers, tending toward structures that are more and more tight. It is a kind of triumph over the scattering of time."

Indeed. "Life goes against time's dispersion." And I am the life. Nudge nudge, wink wink.

I also see parallels here with the philosopher of biology, Hans Jonas, and his ideas about the evolution of freedom, another property that is strictly impossible in the absence of God. If you disagree with me, please go away and think about it some more, because what you are really saying is that freedom is an illusion, so there is no need for us to take you seriously.

DeKoninck writes that "there is in living things an always growing spontaneity which in man arrives at true freedom... Every moment I use my freedom is something absolutely new in the universe. Thus one can say that the more a living being is free, the more he escapes the reach of experimental science." The merest act of free will makes us fugitives from the laws of physics. Higher non-doodling truly is the gateway to Slack.

Compare with Jonas:

"[I]t is in the dark stirrings of primeval organic substance that a principle of freedom shines forth for the first time within the vast necessity of the physical universe -- a principle foreign to suns, planets, and atoms.... the first appearance of this principle in its bare, elementary object-form signifies the break-through of being to the indefinite range of possibilities which hence stretches to the farthest reaches of subjective life, and as a whole stands under the sign of 'freedom'.... even the transition from inanimate to animate substance, the first feat of matter's organizing itself for life, was actuated by a tendency in the depth of being toward the very modes of freedom to which this transition opened the gate."

But already the simple observed facts sketch an image of nature which advances by successive explosions in the manner of a rocket... from the hands of its Creator [comes] the spiritual form of man to which nature has been destined and in which she is liberated. In this new order, evolution is pursued always in the very interior of humanity. Moreover, evolution which continues in humanity has taken on a different color.... We find ourselves from now on on a spiritual plane where plasticity is infinitely greater... --Charles DeKoninck

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: