Saturday, March 07, 2009

Antichrist Update, Vol. 1 (1.07.10)

About a year ago, I wrote a series of posts about Obama. Now that the Obama presidency is well on its way to being an unmitigated catastrophe for the nation, I thought it might be fun to revisit them and repost some excerpts, just to see if my cʘʘnvision was really 20/∞. In short, we are now living in the future of which these posts were shadows. Or, to be precise, it was more the case of a shadowy future casting its darkness into the past for any gnocturnal b'atman to see.


Will brought up a very important point in a comment yesterday. It was in response to my questions, "What great world-historical events are invisible to the jaded elites of the present? What great vertical energies are entering the world today, undetected by a spiritually oblivious moonstream media?" Will's reflections on this are worth reproducing in full:

"There is a danger here, I think, given that this might be the age when 'Spirit pours out on all flesh,' i.e., the vertical energies actually do become, in a way, more visible, more tangible, even to the oblivious MSM.

"The danger is this: the influx of vertical energies for the most part cannot find suitable spiritual anchoring, do not result in a growth of spiritual insight and wisdom, but rather the vertical energies might be suborned by the horizontal in an entirely unwholesome way. [Let us symbolize this (-?!) -- ed.]

"An example: hypothetically speaking, let's say... oh, let's say, some political candidate who's running for... oh, let's say, for president of the United States... Let's say this candidate uses the influx of vertical energy in such a way that it does not invest him with any particular wisdom -- in fact, this candidate mouths and apparently believes in the same old amorphous lefty platitudes. Only... this candidate seems invested with a peculiar type of charisma that has citizens from coast to coast virtually swooning in some orgasmystic ecstasy... no one's higher intellect is sharpened, only their *feelings* are set on fire by this candidate in some peculiar way...

"Well, as was said re: the days when the Spirit pours out on all flesh, one must be very careful not to fall for false messiahs and whatnot... meanwhile, there are those who indeed are spiritually anchoring the vertical energy influx and are doing so invisibly and with a certain amount of travail, as is necessary at this time."


First of all, let's get this out of the way at the outset. Are we calling Obama the antichrist?

Yes, of course.

Nah, just kidding. Let's not engage in ad obamanem. Let's just say an embodiment of the antichristic principle. Please, let's be mature, and discuss this in terms of abstract cosmic principles, without getting personal. No need to demonize someone just because he's an instrument of satan. Besides, he's just the vehicle, not the driver. The surfer, not the wave.

Now, what do we mean by "antichrist?" I would say that, as Christ is Word-made-flesh, the realm of the antichristic would analogously represent the "lower principle" made flesh -- the instantiation, as it were, of the energies of the Fall.

So first of all, to go along with our analysis, one must believe that man is in some sense a fallen being with a built-in -- or at least ineveateapple -- dasein flaw. You don't have to be a fanatic about it. You only have to know that "something ain't right" with the earthlings, however you wish to conceptualize it. Being aware of this principle is our greatest inoculation against utopian leftist schemes to perfect mankind, which always result in unanticipated cosmic belowback, to say the least.

Secondly, you would have to believe that it is possible for the energies responsible for the Fall to be personified -- or, let us say, both focused and dispersed like a beam of darkness through the concavity or convexations of man's heart. As Christ is a blinding light, antichrist would be, oh, darkness visible. Thus, to those who live in spiritual darkness, it would appear as a false light -- as, say, a single match is brighter than the sun in an enclosed room, cut off from the real source of light.

The Serpent -- to paraphrase our best Unknown Friend -- sssymbolizes advanced intelligence ("the most cunning of the beasts") turned wholly toward the horizontal. Thus, it is a perversion of man's intellect, as it represents a self-sufficient naturalism and total (small r) realism that betrays the vertical source of human intelligence. As such, we would expect one aspect of the antichrist to be high intelligence combined with extraordinary vapidity, at least for those with spiritual discernment.

But this cannot merely be the philosophical vapidity of the doctrinaire atheist or scientistic materialist, or it could never gain traction in the human heart, which always hungers for Spirit, even (or especially) if it is the false kind. Rather, it would have to come cloaked in some sort of seductive or hypnotic faux verticality. It would indeed have to be charismatic and charming, bearing in mind the root meaning of former, which is "divine gift," and of the latter, which is "incantation" or "magic spell."

A spiritually normal person would be alarmed and even deeply creeped out if he possessed this kind of influence over others. At the very least, it would be an occasion for the deepest humility, combined with concern over the precarious state of the souls under his influence.

Most people, if they knew the implications, would not want this power, because they would know that they are neither worthy of it nor competent to deal with it, any more than they are competent to perform brain surgery. But a person with narcissistic issues will be too intoxicated by the feelings of adulation to care about the souls with whom he is toying. They are just props, part of his psychic furniture.

This power is a heavy responsibility and is not to be taken lightly. The spiritually normal person knows that this charis is only on loan to him (or courses through him locally from a nonlocal source), and that he is not free to use it as he will.

Rather, one is only free to use this power if it is aligned with its vertical source and with vertical principles, i.e., Truth, Love, Beauty, and Unity (not relativism, idiot compassion, aesthetic barbarism, and diversity). There is something coming through the charismatic, not from him, and as soon as one realizes this, it is an occasion, yes, for gratitude, but also fear and trembling. It is analogous to the power to send men to die for their country, only on the vertical plane. It is the ability to inspire selfless martyrs, but for what purpose? Our satanic Islamist enemies are clearly selfless idealists under the influence of charismatic leaders. So what?

Our Unknown Friend asks the questions, "Can one produce artificially intellectual, moral or spiritual inspiration? Can the lungs produce the air which they need for respiration?" No, of course not: "the very process of breathing teaches the laws of obedience, poverty, and chastity, i.e. it is a lesson (by analogy) of grace. Conscious breathing in of the reality of grace is Christian Hatha-yoga. Christian Hatha-yoga is the vertical breathing of prayer and benediction -- or, in other words, one opens oneself to grace and receives it."

Unknown Friend goes on to say that the antichrist represents "the ideal of biological and historical evolution without grace." This is a key idea, for what is a progressive? A progressive is someone who believes fervently in progress while fanatically denying its possibility, since progress can only be measured in light of permanent truths and transcendent ideals.

The antichrist "is the ultimate product of this evolution without grace and is not an entity created by God," since divine creation is always a vertical act or descent. Yes, all things ultimately "come from God," in the same sense that all light comes from the sun, but think of all the infernal uses to which man may put the light, darkling!

Now, in this circular die-electic, Obama is ultimately a creator of those who created him. Unknown friend writes that, just as there are spiritual beings who reveal themselves "from above," there are what he calls egregores, which are "engendered artificially [and collectively] from below."

Thus, "as powerful as they may be," they "have only an ephemeral existence," the duration of which "depends entirely on galvanising nourishment on the part of their creators." [As Obama's projected power begins to fade and the illusion is punctured, we'll see more and more people such as Brooks and Cramer publicly asking, "what was I thinking?" in supporting this intellectual cypher. The answer is, "you weren't. You were fantasizing." Of course, others -- the true believers -- will "dig in."]

As such, the really frightening thing about these kinds of amorphous demagogues is that they are given life and nourished by the rabble they nourish and to whom they give life, in a spiritually barren cycle. The result is either spiritual asphyxiation or starvation, or probably both. And starved and suffocating men are capable of anything. [So in terms of the future psychic weather, look for a kind of blinding "psychic frenzy" from the left.]

Ultimately, the antichrist is the shadow of the totality of mankind, as Jesus was the immanent shadow, so to speak, of the transcendent Divine Principle. The antichrist represents all that man is, and can be in the absence of divine grace. It is he who transported Jesus to the highest earthly mountain "and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory" and said to him All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.

The secular extremist or fanatical progressive worships his own creation, and in so doing, gives birth to the antiword. Materially, it results in a lefthound Tower of Babel (i.e, the all-powerful state), whereas spiritually it results in a gelatinous tower of leftist babble (i.e., the vacuous but seductive demagogue who will lead the people in the direction of their most base impulses and envious desires).

Again, please bear in mind that we are simply discussing abstract meta-cosmic principles. The events depicted in this post are fictitious. Any similarity to any biologically living or spiritually dead person is merely coincidental.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Open for Isness

First of all, a Balthasar update. Recall that I'm trying to plow through his fifteen-volume (sixteen with epilogue) systematics. There are seven volumes on the Divine Beauty (the Glory of the Lord), five on the Good (the Theo-Drama) and three on the True (the Theo-Logic).

When last we spoke, I mentioned that I was getting bogged down in the aesthetics, and now I see why. In the meantime, I've skipped ahead to the Theo-Logic, and suffice it to say that I am pretty much blown away so far. This is a great book.

The problem was this: I got bogged down in volumes II-V of the aesthetics, because these mainly consist of Balthasar's analyses of other thinkers, some of whom are well known (e.g., Dante, Boethius, Denys), others relatively obscure (e.g., Hamann, Peguy), at least for this undereducated rube.

The thing is, these are not surveys or introductions. Rather, Balthasar -- who was absurdly erudite -- basically assumes a complete familiarity with this or that lumen being, and just gives his own idiosyncratic commentary. Therefore, I have to pretend I've actually read and fully assimilated, say, the Divine Comedy. In the original Italian.

But even for someone as well known as Dante, to truly comprehend what he was/is saying, I'd probably have to re-enroll in college, major in Renaissance literature, take a couple of courses on Dante, ignore all the stuff about how Beatrice was actually a symbol of his homosexual longing, and then get back to Balthasar.

Am I going to do that? No, I am not. I'm afraid it just wouldn't be the Raccoon way. Although, interestingly enough, I do have a kind of recurring dream, in which I am back in college in order to obtain another undergraduate degree in a field unrelated to psychology. Usually history, I think. Although I want to learn, it's all very tedious, just as it was in real life. At a certain point in the dream, I think to myself, "why am I doing this? I already have a Ph.D. I don't care if I get a bunch of F's. I'm outta' here."

That latter situation also happened in real life, when I flunked out of business school.

No, the Raccoon way of the masked pandit is "trans-academic," "trans-scholarly," and "trans-ambitious," meaning that it admittedly comes up short in these overrated qualities. However, our loose canon tries to compensate with other virtues, such as freshness, spontaneity, metaphysical comedy, jehovial witticisms, cheery optimysticism, freevangelical pundamentalism, comparative nonsense, coonical pslackology, fine insultainment, off-road spiritual adventures, speaking in Tongan (or ad homina homina homina) and all the rest of our Oly Slackraments.

But the Theo-Logic is another matter. Instead of surveying other fertile eggheads, this is just Balthasar's own raving, which is 100% compelling, perhaps even too dense to blog about. It's like trying to eat cheesecake all day. I have to read a couple pages, get up, walk around, loosen my top button, belch, and then come back to it.

I can't necessarily give it the general raccoomendation, because it's still a bit like reading someone like Heidegger, but I find that it is speaking beyond me to my very essence, if you will. To the extent that there is obscurity, it is an obscurity that necessarily accompanies any foray into the deepest depths of divine being, which, the more it unveils itself, the more it veils itself. In other words, its depth is bottomless. More on which later.

Also, these volumes are kind of expensive. Therefore, I just place them in my wishlist, and snap up one of them when the price comes down, which means that I jump around from volume to volume. Otherwise, this project will start eating into my CD budget, and we can't have that.

Speaking of which, I made an excellent discovery -- the Tord Gustavsen Trio. Try some of the samples. I would describe them, but the amazon reviewer does a pretty good job (although he does need to come up with a new adjective besides "shifting"):

"Such is the arresting beauty of Tord Gustavsen's sound, it's no surprise that his albums have captured a significant following, surpassing even those of other rarified artists on the ECM label. But the Norwegian pianist doesn't live on beauty alone. His sculpted playing... draws strongly on his church background with its tidy gospel voicings while also incorporating Spanish and South African accents, [and] has a kind of liquid weight....

"Beyond that, it's the remarkable shift-shaping qualities of Gustavsen's trio that make Being There so compelling.... The psychology of the relationship among him, bassist Harald Johnsen, and drummer Jarle Vespestad is made compelling not only by standard interactive effects, but also by the unique shape-shifting that occurs through continual shifts in how much voice each player has in relation to the others, how much lightness or darkness, how much intensity."

Some of the other descriptions: spacious, dreamlike, contemplative, spare, powerfully restrained, quiet rapture, crystalline warmth, gorgeous yearning, and "inspired by a love of spaces."

As a matter of fact, nearly all of the post-1960's jazz in my collection is on the ECM label (longtime home of Keith Jarrett; also the great Russian Orthodox composer Arvo Pärt, although I think this is the best introduction). ECM is a German company that specializes in a kind of "chamber jazz" that has a lot of modern classical leanings. They are also legendary for their impeccable recording quality.

They have a great series called Rarum, which is an introduction to some of their more prominent artists. I think my favorite one is the Eberhard Weber. Although he would be categorized as a "jazz bassist," he really combines American jazz with a modern European chamber sensibility, plus ambient, film, and world music. Try some of the samples. Obviously, some contemporary artists are still able to create musical beauty. (I've also heard that this new one with full orchestra is very good.)

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program. Which was what, again? Nah, I've got too much to do. Mrs. G. is approaching the denouement of the RCIA program this weekend, and will be very tied up, so I'll have to keep a body on Future Leader. I better try to finish as much work as I can today. Just consider this an open thread for anything you'd like to discuss, including music.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Time and How it Gets that Way: Evolution and the Conquest of Dimensionality

To review our situation: cosmic evolution "arrives finally at man in whom the world succeeds in uniting all the degrees of cosmic being." Again, in the evolution from matter to life, we go from a kind of timelessness to real time, since there can be no time in the absence of an observer, who must "suffer" it. This paradox is somewhat difficult to grasp, but it is nevertheless true: "It is life itself that makes the time from which it distances itself" (DeKoninck).

You could say that matter has exterior succession, in that one damn thing must precede and follow another. But there is no now, no "place" where time happens. Life binds and "uses" this temporal succession in the same way that we use space to build a house. In a way, there is no space until there is an enclosure. Same with time. Life binds space and time, and in so doing, eventually transcends both in Mind and Spirit.

As the biosphere contracts into increasingly dense life-centers, it is "lifted more and more above time." In turn, "beings are perfected to the degree that they are intemporal" (DeKoninck), so the evolutionary vector of time is toward eternity, or O. Schematically, one might say, time everlasting--> time --> timelessness; or perhaps exterior succession --> interior duration --> simultaneously copresent plenitude.

The latter state, instead of a temporal line or a circle, is like a perpetual explosion from the center out, or an overflowing from the Ground. It is the bush that keeps on burning, the fish the feeds the multitudes, and the Slack that cannot be named.

Somewhere in a past post I discussed this cosmic evolutionary scheme in terms of a conquest of dimensionality. The original explanation was somewhat skeletal, and I've always intended to flesh it out. Here it is:

"In many ways, human psychological development can be thought of as a conquest of dimensionality. (Don’t get bogged down in a literal understanding here -- this is a mental exercise to facilitate understanding.) For example, the psychotic mind inhabits a 'zero dimension' of pure mathematical symmetry. It is a world of infinite meaninglessness, with no floor or center, just a roiling panorama of catastrophic, uncategorizable novelty. Symbols are equivalent to what they symbolize and the nameless dread is endless, because there is nothing to contain or anchor it."

Think of this as a kind of existence plunged into sub-matter, without even the reliability of good old solid matter to hold oneself together. It is a pure absence of containment, either in time or space. Perhaps if you've ever had a panic attack, you know the feeling of the ontological ground being pulled out from under your feet. There is literally nothing to hold on to.

I remember once a patient telling me of a panic attack she had while walking around her neighborhood. She was reduced to sitting on the curb, desperately fixing her gaze on an ant that was walking around in the gutter. If she should lose sight of the ant, she was convinced that she would surely lose her mind -- she would just fall and keep falling, swallowed up in the deafening silence of the infinite spaces. Note as well that this is a timeless state; it feels as if the terror is endless, like a kind of hell. One never thinks, "relax, this will all be over in 15 minutes."

According to the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, this is the type of anxiety we face in coming into the world. Think of the infant's mind as a kind of unbound space that will require parental containment in order to begin the slow process of creating temporal and spatial boundaries that are both "containing" and yet semi-permeable, just like a biological membrane. (Think of the baby as unbound ♂ in search of a ♀.)

A person whose boundaries are too rigid also cannot grow, for he essentially becomes a closed system as a defense against destabilizing knowledge and emotions. In this regard, one often sees adults cling to ideology in the same way an infant clings to the parent. It is not for the purpose of "truth" but containment. Some people do this with religion, others politics or science (e.g., Queeg), but the underlying cause is the same. In this regard, the tenured are no different than any other primitive totem worshipping cultists, except they get the summers off.

Psychological defenses against the Nameless Dread tend to be massive and indiscriminate. Think of vomiting. Your GI system detects something that isn't supposed to be there, and, one way or the other, violently discharges the intruder, along with anything else that might be in the general vicinity.

Psychotic projection is like this. It violently discharges all of the undigested psychic bits into the environment. But unfortunately, that is not the end of the matter. These undigested bits then become a multitude of persecutory entities that pervade everyone and everything, and which must be re-projected.

If you've ever read dailycuss or huffingandpissed, you can see that the sum-total of their world view is a kind of perpetual reaction to their own psychic projectile vomiting. I think this is the real secret behind their new fixation on Rush. Now that Bush-Cheney are no longer there to serve as "toilet breasts" for their violent projections, they desperately need a new receptacle.

Next up, "The (severely) autistic mind may be thought of as one-dimensional. It knows no depth, only points of sensory contact with objects that are known by their feel and texture -- hot, cold, hard, soft, rough, smooth, etc. For them, a communicative expression does not emerge from the human face. Rather, it is simply a bizarre collection of disconnected points -- a nose here, an eye there, a curved mouth down there. The points are not synthesized into an internal representation of the emotional depth or interior of the other.

"The psychoanalyst Francis Tustin wrote about how autistic defenses can operate in neurotic adults as well, for example, in certain repetitive rituals such as 'rocking.' These rituals help to contain an anxiously fragmented mind by focusing on some severely limited sensory perception. Without it, the mind might slip into the terrifying chaos of zero dimensions.

Again, one does not have to be autistic to have experienced this dimension. I remember one patient who was an accomplished physician by day, but after work would have to engage in the ritual of violently rocking back and forth in a rocking chair for an hour at a time in order to "recontain" herself. You might notice versions of this at the margins of your own personality. Any kind of compulsion often serves this purpose, as a kind of solid touchstone for the psyche to cling to.

"Once we reach two dimensions, we are in the realm of something more recognizably human. This was called by Melanie Klein the 'paranoid schizoid position,' and more people (including parts of oneself) inhabit it than you might realize. It is the world of extreme, forced splitting into diametrically opposed emotional categories of good and bad. This type of two-dimensional thinking pervades the Islamic world (i.e., house of Islam and house of war).

"Only with the emergence of the transitional space proper are we dealing with the creative use of three-dimensional psychological space. This is the imaginal realm that emerges between an infant and his or her loving caretakers. But this creative and dynamic space is often hijacked and reduced to two dimensions as a result of the malign imagination of internalized mind parasites.

"The fourth dimension adds time to the mix. This is called the 'depressive position,' a term of art that does not imply clinical depression per se, but the capacity to tolerate ambivalence and mature dependence (as opposed to foreclosing it through splitting) in order to form loving and stable relationships that endure through time.

"One of the reasons this state is 'depressive' is that it involves transcending the omnipotent psychological defenses of the lower dimensions. For example, the 'borderline' patient is not stably in the depressive position. Rather, when they become angry at a person in whom they are emotionally invested, they instantly convert the person into the category of all bad. Not only are they bad now, but they have always been, and always will be, bad. In a very real sense, time and history have been annihilated. The feeling creates the reality. [Obviously, this forms the basis of much leftist thought, in which depth of feeling is confused with clarity of thought.]

"Perhaps you have noticed when you shift from one dimension to another. For example, depression clearly involves a loss of dimensionality. One of its most striking characteristics is that the world seems to lose a vital dimension of emotional depth. Suddenly it is flat, lifeless, and devoid of the meaning that can only be located and experienced in the higher dimensions.

"Moreover, many psychological defense mechanisms operate by descending into a lower dimension. I call these 'dimensional defenses.' For example, there might well be unpleasant meanings and psychological realities located in the fourth dimension -- indeed, there usually are. One way to avoid them is to descend into a lower dimension where those meanings cannot be located or 'entertained' by the mind, any more than a circle can describe a cone. (I think of atheism as a fixed and rigid defense against the higher space of religiosity.)

Let's apply this to the evolution of life. If you were a bacteria, you wouldn't know anything about higher dimensions. Rather, your life would essentially be an eternal point. In the case of slightly higher forms of life, you might discover the line, in the sense that you could move toward food and back away from something dangerous or noxious. I imagine that lower mammals live in a kind of proto-space, and yet, it must be more like an eternal now. In other words, it is missing the fullness of temporal dimension; it is as if they can touch time, but not fully enter it.

To a certain extent, the birth of humanness coincides with the discovery of time -- of past and future, both in relation to this mysterious ontological hole we call "now." Since we live in time, we take it for granted, but it is actually -- obviously -- a very special state. As far as we know, nothing else in the cosmos has awakened to this temporal dimension.

But neither internal nor external reality are limited to four dimensions. In my opinion, one of the things that spiritual development involves first and foremost is the ongoing conquest of higher dimensions. One way to conceptualize this is to understand that each dimension brings with it a new degree of freedom. In the case of spiritual growth, it brings with it the discovery of vertical freedom, does it not?

What did the Master say? "My kingdom is not of this world."

The Book of Genesis is a good example of hyperdimensional prose (which is a good working definition of scripture), since it is something like a crystal through which the divine light is refracted in infinite ways. This is why it supports so many interpretations, each of which conveys the substance of spiritual truth (which feels very different than the substance of mere intellectual-rational truth). As Schuon says, it functions "to provide points of reference for a complex truth and for the sake of the Inexpressible." Postmodern barbarians never understand this, for dogma or doctrine provide "allusive indications..., the implications of which are limitless.... For it is not a question of inventing truth, but of remembering it."

A two-, three- or four-dimensional scientific or religious literalist will simply see something concrete in Genesis: someone dividing light and dark or water and land. A couple of people walking around in a garden. A tree you're not supposed to touch. Etc.

In the past, I have touched on the idea that spiritual experience arrives via spatial delivery at the shoreline between the infinite and the finite, between time and eternity. Consider the fact that we have two biological eyes or ears that are set slightly apart. Because each of the two organs has a slightly different vertex, we are able to see and hear stereoscopically or stereophonically. If you have only one good ear, you can't experience stereo, only mono.

Now, suppose we have a "third eye" or a "third ear." What would reality look like from that perspective? As a matter of fact, it is our third eye that sees into eternity; or conversely, seeing into eternity grows a third eye. Either way, there is a way of living in which these two modes -- the lower and higher eyes -- harmoniously coexist to facilitate the emergence of additional dimensions of depth -- of not being shipwrecked on the rocks of time, nor of being lost in eternity, but somehow experiencing time in eternity and eternity within time.

I tried my lovall best to capture this in the Coonifesto. That is, if our perception of spatial depth comes from our integration of different points of view, depth may be thought of as a function of the number of perspectives that are integrated in an experience or perception. I simply tried to integrate as many points of view as possible -- cosmological, biological, psychological, neurological, philosophical, anthropological, theological, mystical, etc.

Having said that, the integration does not come "from the bottom up." Rather, the integration is actually "at the top," but it can only be progressively revealed to us as we grow spiritually. But how do we maintain a stable, balanced life in the material plane when our thoughts are constantly drifting towards intellection of the higher realms?

By finding your own way to be in the world without being of the world -- by participating joyfully in all of the dimensions available to the human being, while at the same time not getting lost in them "from below." After all, this is how the Creator man-ages, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Meta-Cosmic Reflections on Life Itself

So, yesterday I created the cosmos. That's a difficult act to follow. Now what? In cerebration of March Forth!, i.e., Innernational Transdimensional Raccoon Day, I suppose I'd like to reflect on the cosmic meaning of Life.

This cosmos is a four-banger. After the big bang, we get the equally big bangs of Life, Mind, and Spirit, although I'm sure the least of you kits realizes that what is chronologically later is ontologically earlier.

Again, Spirit is both alpha and omega, not something that only suddenly appears 13.7 billion years into the big bang. Rather, what is new is the sudden realization by conscious beings that Spirit had been doing its thing all along. However, timelessness takes time, as Genesis makes plain; no one is there to realize Spirit until the sixth day -- and really, the seventh day -- even though it was there all along. One might say that the purpose of the Sabbath is to contemplate this orthoparadoxical truth.

It is only a conceit of physics that the first big bang is the origin of the cosmos, for we can argue with equal b'obombast that there was truly "nothing" until there was a living being there to experience it. Otherwise, you're caught in the literally unimaginable space -- which is no space at all -- of a reality without a point of view.

For example, just try to imagine the room where you are now sitting from every possible angle. This would take the rest of your life. For in reality, the sum total of all points-of-view would still not equal the transcendent no-point-of-view.

So when cosmologists talk about the big bang being the origin of the cosmos, they're obviously "retrojecting" their current consciousness back in time. Which is fine. This is what I did yesterday in order to prove that consciousness and interiority were indeed there at the origin, and at every step of the way between then and now, a now which obviously "always is."

In order to better understand what Life is, we need to get away from the reductionistic schemes of biologists -- who don't really study Life Itself, only abstractions from it. (When I capitalize Life or Mind, I am not just being pompous, but speaking of them "as such," i.e., ontologically and concretely rather than scientistically and abstractly.)

DeKoninck -- who at times again reminds me very much of Teilhard -- wrote that "in the theory of mutations, biology too sees life advance by successive explosions," becoming richer and more concentrated along the way. Viewed vertically, the physical world is only an epidermis, or perhaps "like the shell of an egg" through which Life pushes up from within.

Before the emergence of Life, there was no "center" to existence. Rather, it was as if it were "all periphery," if such a thing can be imagined (which it can't). But among other things, that first living being was the emergence of a center of existence. Afterwards, the flow of evolution will involve increased centration, which ultimately coheres around something called I AM, more on which later. Suffice it to say that Life is a kind of penumbra around the radiant I AM.

Now, just as the first big bang -- creative though it may have been -- "destroyed" whatever previous order existed, so too does Life put an end to the reign of the physical. Again, I caution you to look at the situation vertically, for from that surpassing standpoint, an entirely new cosmic order was revealed 3.85 years ago, when the first itty-bitty defied matter, declared its independence from entropy, and became a transcendent teensy-weensy standing over and above the material plane, even while remaining dependent upon it.

When this happened, what actually happened? -- again, not scientifically but ontologically. After all, this was the primordial revolution, a revolution of which we are all still beneficiaries. How can we ever repay the debt owed to our founding dissipative structures, who defied all the odds in rebelling against the mightiest army every assembled, i.e., pure matter?

DeKoninck writes that "it is the thrust of life which dismantles the universe under its physical aspect, which uses this universe and makes space grow" (emphasis mine). This is a tricky point, but "When life travels toward an organization always more intense, the disorganization of the physical world is only a loss of a cosmos which is absorbed in life."

As I attempted to explain in my book, the emergence of Life did indeed spell the end of Matter's reign, although materialists still haven't gotten the memo. Here it is, p. 70:

"Thus, regardless of how close scientists come to a complete understanding of the cosmos, if they are employing the standard ways of materialistic science, it will be an understanding from before the instant life became manifest. In order to place a bright line between observer and observed, subject and object, science must retreat to a time when no subjects apparently existed. In short, science tries 'to pull the subjective into the objective by pulling the present into the sufficiently remote past'" (emphasis mine... and not mine too, I guess).

Verily, as described by the brilliant theoretical biologist Robert Rosen, biologists -- and scientists in general -- proceed as if living things are "clues only to what the universe is not like," but the more they prove this point, the more they disprove it, for they are like branches of a great tree trying to show that the trunk is dead by growing more leaves.

But you can't eliminate Life that easily, you facile academic boneheads. For what prevents us from turning the cosmos right side up and seeing that Life is a vital clue as to what the universe is actually like? Or, to take it a bit further, what if Mind is an even more vital clue?

Prior to the emergence of Life, there is actually no time or space in the cosmos, for again, space only exists relative to an observer, and time can only "flow" relative to a "now," and there is no now in the absence of Life.

To plagiaphrase DeKoninck, the biosphere lifts itself out of the fragmentation of space and the dispersion of time, which are really the "ashes and smoke of a world which glows with life." Life becomes "a center of pure density," and "cuts through space-time as the prow of a ship cuts through the water." Time does not mete out Life; rather, Life metes out time. Life, in binding space, necessarily binds time. The rhythm of life is the rhythm of being -- although the rhythm of James Brown expresses the point equally well.

Life specifically "travels against the grain of the diffusion of time," and is a "triumph" over its "scattering." We especially see this with the emergence of Mind, which is obviously inconceivable in the absence of memory. For what is memory? First of all, let us bear in mind that DNA is nothing but a memory of life's journey. But so too is a conscious man a man who "remembers" -- not just horizontally, but vertically. Or, to put it another way, the most conscious man is the man with the most vertical recollection, whose memory "wraps around" existence in the same way that Life transcended matter by wrapping around it.

To wrap one's being around existence in this manner is to be fully present to oneSelf. This is what it means to be a big gnosis-all, for the adventure of Life culminates in the Man who "succeeds in uniting all the degrees of cosmic being.... The world tends to join in man its extremities separated by space-time" (DeKoninck).

Thus, we enter time in order to be fulfilled in it. As we rumble and bumble and tumble through its rocky corridors, it is very much as if we are polished and perfected, once again becoming atemporal in process, a finite mode of the infinite. In so doing, we return to the origin of our ring-tale, but now know it for the first time.

Now, March Forth, inward and upward, you ring-taled bastards!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I Created the Cosmos! (3.02.10)

DeKoninck -- who obviously knew what it meant to inhabit a right side-up cosmos -- wrote that "It is only in human understanding that the cosmos becomes a universe in the full sense." In other words, the "end" of the causal chain cannot be found in the endless horizontal iterations of abstract matter, but in our concrete vertical understanding. Which is another way of saying in truth, specifically, the truth of being.

In this regard, it is critical to bear in mind that "God does not act" -- or only act -- "on things, but from within" them. Thus, it is as if God comes to his own fruition, so to speak, in the uncreated light of our interior understanding (or in love or virtue, but that is a subject for a slightly different post). Therefore, "Creation is essentially a communication," a communication of being.

In fact, to turn it around, it would not be possible for God -- since it would contradict the divine nature -- to "create a cosmos which was not essentially ordered to an intra-cosmic intelligence." In other words, God could no more create an unintelligible universe than an evil or ugly one.

So when we see that being itself is overflowing with truth and beauty, we should not be surprised. Awed, but not surprised. The really strange thing, as Aquinas observed, is that "the perfection of the entire universe can exist in one of its parts." That would be us. "For this reason, philosophers have held that the ultimate perfection to which the soul can attain consists in embracing the whole order of the universe and its causes."

In my book, for reasons that should be apparent, I use the pneumaticon ʘ to symbolize this state of the soul in its relation to the totality of O, or of human part to divine whole.

O is not just source but end; ontologically speaking, it is both alpha and omega. But this is to be expected, since the "ultimate cause" must also be the "ultimate end." Thus, the Poet is not really being poetical but quite literal when he talks about the end preceding the beginning, and how both are "always there," for these are things that must be. It is the Law. Some poets are indeed the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

Meaning, interior, wholeness, unity -- these are all interconnected aspects of the same prior reality. It should be a banality to point out that the cosmos can have no meaning unless there is an interior where it can be apprehended. Nor can there be meaning in the absence of unity and wholeness, for meaning essentially consists of the reduction of multiplicity to unity -- or the apprehension of the hidden unity behind or above the veil of appearances.

Now, if there is an "ultimate meaning," there must be an "ultimate interior," so to speak. Or, to turn it around, to say that the ultimate meaning could be found in empiricism or profane reason -- i.e., matter or mechanical thought -- is not only to say that there is no meaning, but to abolish the very ground and possibility of meaning. Here is how DeKoninck describes it:

"In order for the world to have a raison d'être, in order for it to be profoundly one and a universe, it is not enough that it be composed of parts and that these parts physically constitute a whole; it is also necessary that all the individual parts be oriented toward that one in which all together can exist, that each of the principal parts of the universe should be the entire whole, that each of these universes be in some fashion all the others."

In other words, the universe must be both interobjective and intersubjective, with both properties emanating from the a priori wholeness and interior unity of O, the origin, the one, the OMega. In short, the cosmos must fundamentally be a place in which everything preserves its "partness," even while each part participates in (not just with) all the others.

In otherother words, the universe, since it is one, is an internally related totality -- which is why we all intuitively apprehend the unity of being, from which the truth (not to mention, goodness and beauty) of being radiates, both from subjects and from objects.

For the truth "flows" from objects into subjects, even while the object completes itself in the knowing subject. Without objects there is nothing to be known, and without subjects there is no way to know it. But in the end, both flow from the same prior unity, i.e, Truth as such.

It is not so much that "being is transcendentally accessible to intelligence" (DeKoninck). Rather, that is only half the story, for if that is the case -- which it is -- then it must mean that being and truth are one -- or at least not two. After their little game of hide and seek, or bride and seeker, they return to themselves and embrace in the one fleshlight of the divine-human subject.

Being is "good," for, among other reasons, it is open to intelligence, to which it gives of itself without reserve. There is indeed a kind of divine marriage, or sacred bond, between being and intellect, as the two become united in one flesh. As this marriage matures, we can see in the cosmos "a tendency toward the thought in which all its parts are united and lived; the cosmos thus tends to compenetrate itself, to touch itself in the intelligence of man, in which it can realize this explicit return to its First Principle."

Why yes,

The molten infinite pours forth a blazen torrent of incandescent finitude, as light plunges an undying fire into its own shadow (oops! a dirty world) and f-aa-lll-lllllll-ssssssssssss like 1-2-3-7-12 in love with the productions of time, hurtling higgledy-piggledy into jivass godlings & samskara monsters all the way down.

You might say that the emancipating journey from cosmic infancy to metacosmic maturity begins in an inside-out universe of "pure exteriority. The world was so to say entirely outside, separated from itself, imprisoned in itself and its own obscurity" (DeKoninck).

You know -- for it is written in the New Testavus -- pure emptiness, a formless void without mind or life, a shadow spinning before the beginning over a silent static sea, unlit altar of eternity, fathomless vortex of the Infinite Zero.

In this murky state of affairs, the world "is dead, empty, an abyss of division." And yet, here we are, like mushrooms that have sprouted in the darkness of cosmic night. For "intelligence must appear. This demand is written in it from the beginning.... it is necessary that the universe fall back in a certain way on itself, and that it close in on itself, that it interiorize, and it is just this interiorization that will permit it to open onto itself."

In other words, it is only our understanding of the cosmos that makes it possible. For if we couldn't understand it, surely we wouldn't be here. The ultimate cause of the cosmos is its truth, a truth we may know and renew in the timeless ground of the intellect. So when I say that "I caused the universe," I am not really making any special claim for myself. Now and again I do it all the timeless.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Telos All About the Truth of the World, Brother Bob

The cosmos is the residue of man; the universe is merely the placenta, but we are the centa'.

That was a comment I left over at Just Thomism the other day. It was provoked by James' interior dialogue, in which he tells himsoph -- or rather, vice versa -- that "if it takes so many seeds to make a dandelion, we could expect a universe to be left over after making an earth."

I am reminded that in another post -- if I remember correctly -- James mentioned that it is not as if there are four independent kinds of causation, i.e., material, efficient, formal, and final. Rather, there is only causality, so that all causes will have features of each.

This is one of the intrinsic errors of scientism, as it tries to pretend it can get along without final causes, even while habitually slipping them in the back door. For the truth is, one cannot even think coherently in the absence of final causation.

As the wiki article specifies, the final cause "is that for the sake of which a thing exists or is done, including both purposeful and instrumental actions and activities. The final cause or telos is the purpose or end that something is supposed to serve, or it is that from which and that to which the change is. This also covers modern ideas of mental causation involving such psychological causes as volition, need, motivation or motives, rational, irrational, ethical, and all that gives purpose to behaviour."

Now, to say that the cosmos was created is just another way of saying that it has a final cause, purpose, or end: an alpha and omega, for the one implies the other.

Or, to turn it around, to the extent that final causes exist, then there is a Creator. Or to turn it around again, since there is a Creator, we should expect to see final causes permeating existence. Furthermore, in the absence of a Creator, these final causes make no sense at all, for in eluminating the Creator you have removed their very ground. It would be analogous to positing material cause in the absence of matter, efficient cause in the absence of energy, or formal cause in the absence of boundaries between things.

So the scientistic attack on final cause is simply a veiled attack on the Creator, and with that, thought itself; and ultimately on man as such, for there is no man without purpose. Take away meaning and you have abolished man.

This is why the "final cause" of the left is to systematically destroy intrinsic meaning, and to replace it with their wholly man-made meanings and purposes; which in turn converts you to a slave, for a slave is any human who is forbidden to discover and actualize his transcendent reason for being.

Metaphysics deals with ultimate causes "from above," i.e., the vertical, as opposed to the purely horizontal causes explored by science. Thus, one way to eliminate final cause is to simply pretend that the vertical does not exist, even though, again, the very conduct of science is impossible in the absence of verticality, no matter how attenuated. The moment a scientist has said "truth," he has said "vertical," and therefore finality, absolute, and God. For the truth of something is its final cause.

What is the truth of man? Note that the materialist does not really eliminate final cause. Rather, he simply affirms that the final cause is the material or efficient cause, i.e., random matter and energy. That being the case, he is promulgating the metaphysical absurdity of "absolute relativism," or the impossible idea that the ultimate meaning of existence is ultimate meaninglessness.

But being is thoroughly infused with the "residue of God," most notably, in the form of the truth, beauty, goodness, and unity we encounter there. As Balthasar writes, these transcendentals "are all pervasive and therefore immanent qualities of being as such." Furthermore, they are inexhaustible, in keeping with their divine provenance.

Which is why the perversion of scientism is so perverse, in that it annihilates "the depth dimension of being." "The formula A is nothing other than... typifies this perversion, whatever transcendental it affects." For it is much more the case -- again, thanks to the radiant plenitude of O -- that "A is always something other than" (Balthasar).

Therefore, despite the best efforts of the scientistic Adversary, "Neither goodness nor beauty nor truth is exhausted by any de-definition [or deconstruction, or attack on linking]; the multi-dimensional reality of the transcendentals can never be flattened out by any kind of reduction, and there is no way to capture the mystery either of their existence or of their essence in a formula" (Balthasar).

To lead a spiritual life is simply to lead a life that fundamentally bears on eternity. The tragedy of existence, as all Christians know, is that -- at least for the time being -- "ever-greater love calls forth ever-greater hatred."

Ah, little lambs, you're starin' at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of left wing-right wing, of Rush vs. Obama?

I think we are now in a position to coontemplate DeKoninck's orthoparadoxical statement that "Every natural form tends toward man. The idea of man bursts forth from no matter what form, even from a material point of view. The essential desire of prime matter, which always indefinitely exceeds any form received, is to be actuated by the immobile form of man. And in this perspective, subhuman forms are much less states than tendencies."

Ah, dear hearts, do you see the point, and how DeKoninck cannot not be speaking the truth? For you see, "truth is not just a property of knowledge, but a transcendental quality of being as such" (Balthasar). To know any truth is to know all truth, at least in potential. And to know this is to know the final cause of existence, as the cosmos completes and perfects itself in the life and truth and being of spirit.

[T]he man who does not dare to jump in the water will never learn what it means to swim and... the man who does not dare to jump into the truth will never attain the certainty that truth in fact exists.... [T]his first act of faith, of self-abandoning confidence, far from being irrational, is simply the prior condition of any certainty about the existence of the rational in the first place. --Balthasar, Theo-Logic: Truth of the World

Definitely one of my all time favorite films:

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.