Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Drama Within the Drama and the Brains Behind Pa

At the moment, it's a little difficult to for me get back into the Theo-Drama, because my particular character in the drama has been distracted by one of its many sub-plots. I've begun to delve into Balthasar's main influence, who turns out to be just your typical friendly neighborhood sigmata-bearing, trinity-channeling, mystic-visionary physician, Adrienne von Speyr.

Specifically, I'm reading Balthasar's First Glance at Adrienne von Speyr, which is his relatively brief introduction to her vast body of work, most of which it seems was "dictated" to him in trance. It is definitely a drama within the drama, and anyone sophering from traces of reductionosis or materialitis will be severely tested. It's pretty much of an either/or: either you accept her as the real deal, or reject her as some kind of fringe kook.

Having personally witnessed the phenomena over some 27 years, Balthasar was 100% certain of her authenticity, although, at the same time, he left it to the church to make the final determination as to whether or not her teachings were kosher. But he says that he "never had the least doubt about the authentic mission that was hers, nor about the unpretentious integrity with which she lived it and communicated it to me." (And I'm assuming she must have known Pope Benedict -- then Big Joe Ratzinger -- being that Balthasar and Ratzinger started a journal together.)

First, Balthsar makes it clear that his work cannot be separated from hers, and that any attempt to do so does violence to his project. The whole relationship very much reminds me of that between Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, known as the Mother (Mira Richard). In fact, I don't think I've seen anything that so closely parallels it. Sri Aurobindo also had to caution his reluctant disciples that his work could not be understood apart from the Mother, and that they were even "one consciousness in two bodies," so to speak.

In any event, whatever else you think about these people, you have to admit that something very strange was going on with them. How strange? I've mentioned in the past that one of the things that struck me about Aurobindo was how he could work on seven or eight massive volumes of theology, mysticism, scriptural commentary, philosophy, political science, and poetry, all at the same time. He completed most of his major works in a relatively short space of time.

Now, first of all, he had no training in any of the above subjects with the exception of poetry. Furthermore, he claimed to engage in "overmental writing," in which you could say that he was basically a stenographer for forces higher than himself.

The same thing is true of von Speyr. She was a physician by trade, with no theological training whatsoever. In fact, she didn't even become a Catholic until the age of 38, shortly after meeting Balthasar (she was born in 1902, he in 1905). He became her spiritual director, confessor and confidante, and they eventually shared a house until her death in 1965.

At the time of von Speyr's death, 37 of her books were in print, and yet, even today, few people have "taken serious notice of her writings." And those 37 are truly just the tip of the iceberg. There is apparently so much unpublished material that it dwarfs Balthasar's, even though he was obviously about as prolific as you can imagine.

And yet, as with Aurobindo, von Speyr's work is not the product of "thought" or cogitation. However, at the same time, she had a kind of implicit knowledge of deep spiritual truths, almost like an idiot savant who can solve complex mathematical problems with no formal understanding of math (except that she was no idiot, having been an outstanding physician).

In 1940, Balthasar began instructing her in the Catholic faith. On the one hand "she plainly did not know the things I told her," and yet, "immediately and directly recognized them as valid and true for her." She also realized that she had been seeking these truths her whole life (she was raised a protestant and had only heard vaguely negative things about Catholicism).

Balthasar has a vivid description of what this was like: "the outline of Catholic truth was, as it were, hollowed out in her like the interior of a mold. A slight indication was all she needed in order to understand and accept with all her heart and in exuberant joy."

I have to say, I know exactly how this feels, as it has been happening to me on a smaller scale, what with our ongoing adventures in Christianity. In fact, this is why it has been such slow-going in blogging about the Theo-Drama. More often than not, a single sentence by Balthasar blossoms into a whole post.

At first, the two were somewhat disappointed at the world's indifference to her remarkable gifts (her books were rarely even reviewed). But eventually, "she came to understand that during her lifetime it was her lot to talk into thin air, to work without any evident effect." Suffice it to say that there was absolutely no ego involved in any of this. Rather, she lived a life total surrender to the divine. Higher than her own power was the renunciation of personal power and her submission "in silence to the will of God."

Immediately after her conversion in 1940, "a veritable cataract of mystical graces poured over Adrienne in a seemingly chaotic storm that whirled her in all directions at once." It was as if she were transported "above" in prayer, only to come back down to earth "with new understanding, new love and new resolutions." In fact, on one occasion she heard a voice that provided a certain key to her gift: you shall live in heaven and on earth, like a sort of vertical bridge that spans the worlds.

But at the same time, this was no picnic. For example, she was given direct insight into "the interior sufferings of Jesus in all their fullness and diversity -- whole maps of suffering were filled in precisely there where no more than a blank space or vague idea seemed to exist." One part of her would be undergoing the experience -- stigmata and all -- while another part "was able to to describe in her own clear and penetrating words what she was experiencing."

Importantly, unlike free-lance mystics whose visions are of dubious value at best, hers were never unorthodox, but always wholly rooted in revelation. Again, she was fully surrendered to this divine reality, and didn't mix in her own idiosyncratic ideas. There is nothing "occult" about her, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. She practiced a form of "self-forgetfulness," a "virginal readiness for the Word of God," in which the personal self would only get in the way. She loved the anonymity of of letting herself "be absorbed namelessly in the universal," or of simply making herself "available" to God. In this regard, her model was Mary (her first published work, Handmaid of the Lord, was a Marian one).

At the same time, despite the anonymity, surrender, and absorption in God, she was definitely a distinct person in her own right. As Balthsar puts it, "the supernatural dimension in no way effaced her natural individuality: rather, it underlined it." He describes her as fundamentally joyous, cheerful and humorous, despite her suffering. Like a child, she had a "love of surprises," and was always guileless and innocent, "with the idea that only in this way can the true meaning of life, the wild adventure of existence be properly portrayed." She was the very opposite of the modern jadedness and cynicism that stifles the adventure of life.

Indeed, one of her most prominent characteristics was "that all her life she was and remained a child.... Moreover, she was and remained nothing but a child before God, the Church, and her confessor, with a trust that had nothing to conceal.... This guileless openness of heart is probably the key to all doors of her nature and writing."

As for the content of that opened heart, I guess that will have to wait until tomorrow. Long day ahead.

Well, she talks to all the servants
About man and God and law.
Everybody says
She's the brains behind pa.
--Bob Dylan

Monday, June 08, 2009

Extras, Walk-Ons, and Bit Players in the Cosmo-Drama

Theo-drama cannot be understood in the absence of mission. You might say that mission is to action -- or to the horizontal -- what intellection is to thought or to the vertical. Mission is a further extension of meaning. In any drama, the action is dictated by a meaning-fueled mission of some kind.

For example, the other evening I watched Bergman's The Seventh Seal. It is about a disillusioned knight who has returned from the Crusades to his plague-devastated homeland, and is in doubt about the existence of God. He then encounters the figure of Death, who informs him that his days are over. However, he strikes a deal with Death, challenging him to a game of chess. So long as he can keep the game going, Death will give him more time -- the time he needs to try to find God.

Thus, the film would mean nothing if the knight's mission weren't our mission. We too live in a plague devastated land, except that the plague is internal, not external. This soul-disease has spread like wildfire into all of our major institutions. Among other things, it renders the host insane before killing him outright, just like the other plague.

Likewise, the land is filled with superstition and sinister prophecies, as people seek scapegoats or some easy means of penance or reconciliation with the gods. Witches are being burned at the stake, confessions extracted, heretics destroyed.

But enough about political correctness.

Balthasar writes that "if every mission, in particular, every *highly nuanced mission,* is a participation in the whole mission of Christ, the drama of each particular Christian life can, in its own way, be a kind of reflection of the mission of Christ."

There is a footnote for "highly nuanced mission," stating that he means this in the sense used by his mystic friend, Adrienne von Speyr. However, he doesn't explain what that sense is. Oh well. We'll just have to guess.

My guess is that a nuanced mission is a spiritual mission. The difference between a spiritual mission and a secular one is that in the case of the former, one is co-missioned by God. It is a vertical mission that bears on the question of eternity and of ultimate meaning. If you win, you cheat Death, which is what makes the mission so deadly serious.

In contrast, a horizontal mission can be anything from winning an election to winning the World Series. It has no intrinsic meaning. Rather, it's just a little game human beings invent in order to pass the time.

In fact, self-important human beings often engage in their trivial games as if they are playing chess with Death, but in reality, they're just trying to buy more time by playing with themselves (or with a projected part of themselves). They are are hardly chess masters, only chess masturbators.

There are the lesser mysteries and the greater mysteries. I would suggest that to be baptized or bobtized is to be initiated into the lesser mysteries, in the sense that one becomes aware of the general contours of the cosmo-drama as it hurtles toward its divine fulfillment.

But initiation into the greater mysteries occurs when one receives one's personal mission, one's role in the drama. Once this occurs, then ultimate meaning is conferred upon every moment of one's life, because every thought and every action bear upon eternity.

There is a reason why only the godless believe that Obama is on a mission from God. True, he is on a mission, but it is another kind of nuanced mission. It is as if he has been sent "from below" to spread the plague. His mission and our mission are mutually exclusive.

Again, every highly nuanced mission is a participation in the whole mission of Christ. What did the whole mission of Christ involve? Let's see: incarnation, baptism (rebirth in spirit), temptation, intrinsic authority, healing, persecution, condemnation, death, resurrection.

In Vedanta, there is the concept of the vibhuti, which is something between a man and an avatar, the latter being an incarnation of God. The vibhuti is here with a divine mission, but it needn't be a strictly religious one. It can be political, aesthetic, scientific, anything that advances the Cause.

Often we may detect a vibhuti by their own strong sense of divine mission, combined with an ability to surpass themselves in mysterious ways; when they align themselves with their mission, they partake of powers that are not their own.

Thus, they may appear powerful, but in reality must humbly submit to their mission. Their courage is in their submission. One thinks of Abraham Lincoln, or Winston Churchill, or Saint Paul, or the founding fathers, by no means "perfect men," but protagonists of "perfect missions," so to speak. The sense of "ultimate mission" allowed each of these men to risk their lives in their diverse actions.

Here is how Aurobindo described the vibhuti in a letter to a disciple: "A Vibhuti is supposed to embody some power of the Divine and is enabled by it to act with great force in the world, but that is all that is necessary to make him a Vibhuti: the power may be very great, but the consciousness is not that of an inborn or indwelling Divinity.... "

He adds that "the Vibhuti need not even know that he is a power of the Divine. Some Vibhutis, like Julius Caesar for instance, have been atheists. Buddha himself did not believe in a personal God, only in some impersonal and indescribable Permanent."

I'm not necessarily suggesting that Aurobindo is correct, I'm just "throwing it out there." Of course, for the Christian, there has been only one avatar, but that needn't imply that there hasn't been an abundance of lesser vibhutis. Indeed, I would suggest that the theo-drama is incomprehensible in the absence of the vibhuti principle, i.e., those vital supporting roles such as Abraham, Moses, David, John the Baptist, et al. These were hardly bit players in the theo-drama.

You can't have a drama with only one character. Furthermore, "a destiny that is purely private cannot aspire to ultimate interest" (HvB). Can politics be of ultimate interest? No, not unless it involves participation in the greater cosmo-drama. Thus, Plato was wrong. We don't need "philosopher kings," much less a community organizer.

Let's just say we need a vibhuti call right about now, before liberals call checkmate.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Knowledge vs. Realization: Follow the Depth

A post from two years ago, with some further reflections.... I apologize for the length, but I got carried away for a minute. If you only want to read the new parts, they more or less end with the asterisks.

Magnus left a comment yesterday: "Bob, you write about how you recognized Schuon as a vehicle of grace, but you don't agree with everything he says, and he sure wouldn't have agreed with everything of what you say. It mildly amuses me that this sums up how I relate to you. I see some things quite differently, but that never held me back from riding your spiritual coat tails. I am not in a position to only buy lamp oil from people I agree with in all things."

Yesterday a re-quest popped into my head -- or was it an order? -- follow the depth. That's pretty much what I try to do, irrespective of the discipline or source, in that each post is simply a spontaneously rewordgitated murmurandom from the deep space of vertical understanding. I assume it's the same way with you, in that there's something in us that is not only able to distinguish truth from falsehood on the horizontal axis in the cØnventional way, but also on the vertical axis in the cʘʘnvisional way.

For me, everything revolves around this thing called "understanding." This is true for everyone, theist and atheist alike. Humans "understand" stuff, and then pass along that understanding to others. However, it's not just that human beings understand different things, but that understanding itself takes place at differing levels of depth. It is axiomatic that something can be true on a shallow level but false on a deeper level. Therefore, if you want to prevent people from knowing about that deeper truth, you don't have to even argue. Rather, all you have to do is erect a barrier to depth. We call this barrier "public education," and we call the trolls who man the barriers "the tenured."

A few moments ago I was searching through the June 2007 arkive for a repost, but didn't find much that moved me. Which is odd when you think about it, because I'm the one who wrote the stuff, so why should I be moved by my own writing? The problem is, I found most of it to be "too understandable." It was like "blah blah blah, bob bob bob." As I mentioned last Sunday, I was experiencing some sort of disturbance in the force that month, which was making it difficult to blog. I mean, I could still do it, but not at the level of depth to which I am accustomed. I could not "surpass myself," so to speak. Rather, I could only "achieve myself," which isn't saying much.

Here is what I mean. I'm trying to shed some obscurity on that transient moment when this delightful thing called "understanding" takes place, as understanding is the gateway to depth. Back when I was in school, I rarely had this feeling. If anything, school was a systematic way to bypass the whole magical world of understanding.

Perhaps I should clarify. When I talk about "understanding," I am actually talking about realization, not a mere transfer of information from mind to mind. It takes no intelligence or skill to transmit facts, nor does it require a realization on the part of the receiver.

But most everything I write about is intended to transmit a kind of living realization that takes place in the moment -- not just for you, but for me as well. This is why it cannot be planned ahead of time, because if it were, it would tend to become fact-based instead of realization-based.

Here again, I am totally indebted to Bion for showing me the way in this regard. One of his central points was that undergoing psychotherapy was not an educative process. It's not as if the analyst is the teacher and the patient is the student, and all the analyst has to do is reeducate the patient. If that were true, you could just read a book and be "cured."

Rather, the trick is that the patient must realize the truths of psychoanalysis as they pertain to him specifically. This is why Bion conceptualized the overall therapeutic situation as O. To even say that there is a patient and a doctor is to pretend to know what O is, and to defensively prevent it from emerging in a spontaneous way.

Are you following me? Do you understand so far?

So if you were in therapy with Bion, he would not see a "patient." Rather, there would only be this field of O that is co-created by the participants and which undergoes transformations and disturbances of various kinds. The therapist comments on the disturbances, the patient comments on the comments, etc. It's all spontaneously unfolding and evolving now. Very jazz-like, come to think of it.

As I have mentioned before, in my book, I simply applied the same idea to the realm of Spirit. Last week I quoted Gurdjieff, who said that I have very good leather to sell to those who wish to make shoes. Do you see the point? He doesn't sell shoes. Rather, he only sells the good leather for you to make your own shoes, which is to say, to have a realization. Paradoxically, if he gives you the shoes, you cannot have the leather!

But it is absolutely no different with religion: if someone gives you the answer, you can't have it. It will be like a museum piece, or like a couch covered with plastic, or like a toe with no body attached. You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, people. You don't wanna know about it, believe me. Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o'clock this afternoon... with nail polish.

But so what? What are you going to do with it? Keep it on your mantle?

Oh, you want a fossil of the "missing link," is that it? Hell, I can get you one of those too. But what good is a fossil if you don't even realize what a human being is? LGF. Fuckin' amateurs....

***Back to the post as it appeared two years ago:

On the horizontal axis, things are either true or false in the unambiguous scientific sense. But only on the vertical axis can you get into "profound truths," some of which might even superficially contradict one another. This, of course, is one of the fundamental errors of atheism and other misosophies. One of the reasons the vast majority of normal people reject atheism is that it's so trite and shallow. Our vertical truth detector knows that nothing can be that simplistic, let alone everything.

A profound truth is one that qualitatively ties together and organizes a greater quantity of phenomena on both the inner and outer planes. Thus, the more shallow the level, the more truths multiply; whereas the deeper one ventures, the more all-encompassing the truth, until one finally arrives at the One Truth: "to know much, you must know little" (and vice versa).

But even then it's not that simple, because on the vertical axis truths can be expressed in such a way that they "carry their own depth." Or, you might say that they simultaneously elucidate and demonstrate. The sayings of Jesus are quintessential in this regard. When he speaks, he is not just talking about the vertical, but at the same time showing it to you, tying together the interior and exterior dimensions of reality. After all, he is the vertical made horizontal, so to speak.

This is more or less what I meant about Schuon being a vehicle of grace, in that he too has the power to "make present" that of which he is speaking, which is always more or less O, approached from a multitude of vectors. As he put it in the preface to one of his books, "Metaphysics aims in the first place at the comprehension of the whole Universe, which extends from the Divine Order to terrestrial contingencies." Further, this order offers "humanly crucial openings, which is all the more important in a world wherein the abuse of intelligence replaces wisdom." In my book, I compare these openings to the vertical springs that dot the horizontal landscape. Once your cʘʘnvision is operative, these inscapes are hidden in plain sight every where and eventually -- one hopes -- when.

As Schuon wrote -- and which I could add as a disclaimer to each of my posts -- "Everything has already been said, and well said; but one must always recall it anew, and in recalling it one must do what has already been done: to actualize in thought certitudes contained, not in the thinking ego, but in the transpersonal substance of human intelligence."

This is why Schuon's writings -- like the cosmos itself -- never merely contain what they contain. Rather, they are activated in unpredictable ways upon contact with them (indeed, as mentioned yesterday, ways to which he might even object!) by one's own gnosis. This is why he can say in the preface of another work that "there is the order of principles, which is immutable, and the order of information -- traditional or otherwise -- of which one can say that it is inexhaustible."

Orthoparadoxically, although O is immutable, it flows with the ceaseless novelty of its intrinsic Threeness. Conversely, the infinite number of facts on the horizontal plane never adds up to the Infinite, only to the many, or the false infinite. The facts of our existence -- of Being -- are only tied together in depth by virtue of the deeper reality explicated through traditional metaphysics, but which must be realized anew by each person.

Which does not mean that you must be a metaphysician to appreciate this deep unity. Rather it is our prior condition, and available to anyone -- it is man's birthright, and part of what makes him man -- but "extended" and given voice and body through providential religious doctrine and practice. Religion is always fundamentally about deep unity, which is another way of saying deep meaning -- or the depth of meaning and the meaning of depth, both of which completely elude materialistic reduction: the secret protects itself, especially from the cold and greedy hands of the flatlanders, who can only "know" but not understand.

And in fact, this is why Schuon is never a syncretist, as he is always writing from the standpoint of primordial unity: "it is one thing to manufacture a doctrine by assembling scattered ideas as best one can, and quite another to recognize the single Truth contained in various doctrines on the basis of what we willingly call the sophia perennis." If he sometimes draws from this or that tradition, it is not a result of mixture, but generally for the purposes of illuminating an underemphasized doctrine in one tradition by way of another -- which in turn underscores the totality of each tradition and ultimately reinforces one's faith in their divine origin.

Human beings are mental beings, and to the extent that religion cannot offer a deep and satisfying vision to man's intellect, then it has failed in its saving mission. A religion should not only illuminate your mind, but save it -- and not just from "the world," but from yourself. Can I get a witness? Thank you. Left to his own devices and voices, there is obviously no end to the nonsense man will come up with. But one of the reasons he attempts to come up with these harebrained schemes is that faith and gnosis have become severed from one another in modern times. It is analogous to trying to illuminate what is off the road by following your headlight beams, which is a sure way to miss the splendor of the True, subtly illuminating itself off to the side in the dark woods.

The sapiential dimension of religion has generally been lost, and one of Schuon's central missions was to restore this element, so that religion may once again speak to intellectually gifted men. Religious doctrines "provide a comprehensive and qualitative knowledge of the cosmos," even though it seems that the majority of modern men have lost their ability to grasp "the compatibility between the symbolic expressions of tradition and the material discoveries established by science." (Obviously, my book was an attempt to demonstrate this deep and even necessary compatibility.)

It is as if modern man wishes for the deeper truth that reveals the unity of the vertical and horizontal to be of the same character as profane horizontal knowledge, which it can never be. With this benighted approach, man forecloses in advance that which he wishes to know. Today, few so-called intellectuals are even capable of comprehending the arguments of a Meister Eckhart or Denys the Areopagite, for they aren't even in contact with the plane from which they speak and to which their writings apply.

Proofs of God are not linear equations, as in 2 + 2 = 4. Rather, their proof is contained in their formulation, very much in the manner that the "proof" of a great work of art is not separable from the work itself. The genuine work of art is its own proof, its own certificate of authenticity. It is vertically self-confirming, is it not? And although a particular instance, it is proof of the existence of art in general -- as well as of the artist. When we say that "the word became flesh," this is by virtue of the principle that the Divine takes on qualities that are accessible to man, and which speak to him through their very substance. They demonstrate both that the cosmos does not contain itself, nor that man contains himself -- that he is only man by dint of his self-transcendence.

Thankfully, man's mind is not closed but open; it is open both horizontally and vertically. It opens out to the infinite -- or, to be perfectly accurate, the infinite opens into us: O--> (n). Praise God! And pass the I AM notion!

Although Schuon's writings are the essence of humanism -- being that they not only speak to the deepest level of our humanness, but attempt to preserve and resurrect it -- "humanism" has come to take on its opposite meaning in our disordered times. Thus, so-called humanists are actually profoundly anti-human, and specifically present us with a doctrine that cannot speak to the total man -- and therefore participate in genocide, both literal and symbolic -- or should we say, both vertically and horizontally. This de facto subhumanism can only speak to the fragmentary husk of man, not to the kernel (of which it naturally denies the existence) and embodies "the will to make oneself as useful as possible to a humanity as useless as possible."

Which is why Schuon's humanism is so useless to most people, whose own uselessness precedes them in advance of any encounter with the Real. For, to paraphrase Schuon, they blame the truth for their own refusal to admit it.

Follow the depth. And avoid the deeply shallow false lucidity of the terrible simplifiers.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Seeing God with Trinocular Vision

A post from last year, with a lot of pneumaterial.... it's getting late, so I'm posting without spiel-checking....

We've posted on this subject in the past -- which is to say, when the mind expands, what does it expand into? To the extent that the mind exists as a real entity, does it have an edge? We certainly talk as if it does. And what does the edge shade off into? And what exactly expands? The content? The space? Or is it simply the density of connectedness? If so, how do ideas hang together in the scaffolding of the mind?

This sounds like an abstract subject, but as a matter of fact, it comes into play in the nature of my "work" in forensic psychology. For example, exactly what is a "psychiatric injury?" I am routinely asked to answer this unanswerable question. Or at least it is unanswerable in linear and atomistic med-legal terms. This way of speaking conceals an entire implicit ontology of the mind and of mental causation which is about as naive as you could imagine. I could answer the question, but I would have to employ coonspeak, i.e., freevangelical pundamentalism, and you can imagine how well that would go over with a judge. Even the wisest Latina judge wouldn't know what I was talking about.

This is one of the problems of language which goes to what I was saying yesterday about speaking vs. being spoken by it. Most talk about the mind is so loaded with implicit assumptions that it is not only difficult to escape them, but you end up being enslaved by them without even knowing it. After all, no one even knows what consciousness is, and yet we all walk around as if we do.

Here again, Bion was on the case. He noticed -- I mean, how can you not? -- that psychoanalysis was riven by all of these different theories and models. In fact, you could say the same of religion, or even of a single religion. Take Islam for example. Is it really as the terrorists say, a violent, bloodthirsty, intolerant, and tyrannical system? Or is it as the moderates say, merely a closed-minded, superstitious, backward, oppressive and misogynist one?

Put it this way: when Muslims can laugh at themselves, they will have left the iron age and entered the irony age. And only when that happens, can one address the problem of language, or how to use words to express what words can never say. And one of the things they can never say is "God," since God is the one thing that could never, by definition, be contained by anything except his own nature. So in a way, to say "God" is to deface him, unless you are exceedingly careful. Because if you're not, I can guarantee you that your interlocutor will not mean the same thing by the symbol "God" (especially if he's a liberal). It will contain different things, often radically different things. Obviously I do not mean the same thing when I use the word as does Obama, or Osama, or yo' mama, for that mater.

For those of you who have the home version, you know that this is addressed in chapter four, section one, Unknowing and How to Communicate It: The Hazards of Talking Pure Nonsense. Indeed, I see that the table of coontents even has a nice little quote from the great Abraham Heschel, who said that "Wonder or radical amazement, the state of maladjustment to words and notions, is a prerequisite for an authentic awareness of that which is." So if anyone wonders why I write in the maladjusted way I do, that's why. I do this in two ways: one of them "overdoes" it, while the other "underdoes" it. The idea is to meet in the muddle.

For example, if someone picks up my book, reads the first few pages, and says to himself, "boy, this guy really overdid it with the punny business and jehovial witticisms," I say, yes, exactly. But the same person might read chapter four and say, "hmm. I think he underdid it a little. What's 'O' supposed to mean? Couldn't he say just a little more?"

No, I could not, for I was specifically trying to overcome the problem of language. You could say that my effort to define O overflows with holographic meta-meaning in the Cosmogenesis and Cosmobliteration sections. Get it?

Now, back to the post as it appeared last year:

If you actually think about it in a deep way, it's a bit like assessing the damage to a cloud caused by bumping into another cloud. What caused the cloud's injury? What did the cloud look like before the accident? Was it a fully functioning cloud, a proud cumulonimbus? Would it have eventually produced rain, or was it merely a frivolous and unserious cirrus cloud, a meteorological slacker? Were there other causes? Did this cloud have pre-existing problems? Apportion exact percentages to all the causes. Were 51% of the causes related to the injury in question?

It's madness. This, by the way, is why I know that liberals are demagoging the veterans-with-PTSD issue. And demagoging is their stock-in-tirade. As we already know, liberals can only relate to the military if they can convert them to victims. The diagnosis of PTSD is perfect in this regard, as it can magically convert virtually all combat veterans into victims of PTSD, being that war is intrinsically traumatic.

Now, as it so happens, over the past two decades, I've dealt with any number of cases of PTSD. And while the diagnosis is real, it is almost always a transient condition that eventually resolves on its own or with a little help, especially if the person was healthy to begin with. In my experience, the only exceptions to this have been people who had significant pre-existing psychiatric issues.

To put it bluntly, they were not particularly well put together to begin with. Thus, you sometimes hear the liberal media report stories of "gross injustice," because a vet was denied benefits on the "pretext" of having a pre-existing mental condition, often a personality disorder. But if I were the evaluating doctor, I can well imagine arriving at the identical conclusion. Yes, abuses can take place, but personality disorders are quite common these days.

Anyway. That's a liberal for you. Always speaking power to Truth and lies to the powerless. Or, you could say that liberalism is a systematic way to convert good impulses into bad ones through a defective ideology -- in particular, compassion into cruelty. It is the mirror image of the free market, which converts supposedly "bad" impulses into mutually beneficial outcomes.

Back to the question at hand: What kind of space is the mind? If it is holographic and multi-dimensional, we need a language that parallels that fact, or it will mislead. What does it imply about the nature of mental space to say that something can be deep? Or "shallow"? Or "transcendent"? Or "repressed"? Or "projected"?

Let's look at it this way. The only reason we experience mental space at all is because we live at the intersection of the vertical and horizontal. This is what it means to be "bi-cosmic." If we lived only in the former, we would be like the angels, who abide in a kind of static, archetypal, quasi-eternal space. If we lived only in the latter, we would be like animals and Darwinians, who essentially live on the surface of the senses. But the differing vertices of the vertical and horizontal axes create a new kind of space, similar to the way our two eyes, which have slightly different angles, create binocular vision, or our two ears create the possibility of the three-dimensional stereo image (thanks to my new Martin Logan speakers I just purchased the other day. I rarely buy anything extravagant for myself, but I decided to go for it. Anyone else out there have a pair? Of Martin Logans, I mean? What a sound for sore ears! It's like having a whole new CD collection.)

Here again, this might sound overly abstract, but it really isn't. As I've mentioned before, we talk about the "unconscious mind" as if it were a sort of reservoir, or fluid ocean, that lies "beneath" the solid and dependable ego. But obviously, that is merely a spacial metaphor borrowed from our experience of the external world. In reality, the situation is much more like one of those blinky toys (is that what they're called?), where if you turn it at a different angle, a different picture appears. The unconscious is analogous to this, in that it is "embedded" in every conscious act; you could say that the unconscious is "in" the ego, and vice versa.

That being the case, the same thing applies to the higher world. They are always here, but we must "tweak" the picture and look at it from a slightly different angle for it to "jump out." And if you want to do this on a continuous basis, you need to practice it -- which is what a spiritual practice is all about!

For example, the whole point of all the laws and rituals for the Orthodox Jew is to try to look at virtually everything "from the divine angle." It is a kind of karma yoga that involves the constant recollection of God in most every activity. Thus, it shouldn't feel burdensome, but liberating; far from being restrictive, it should open one out to a much "deeper" or "higher" space. But if the living spirit is lost and only the letter remains, one can well understand how it could become about as joyful as Michelle Obama flying coach on date night.

Frithjof Schuon often spoke of what has been lost with modernity, in particular, a kind of collective "spirit" that we can scarcely imagine today, partly because we are so distracted and even hypnotized by our conveniences. But as hard as life was in the past, there is no evidence that people were any less happy than we are today. In fact, there is reason to believe that they were actually more content in spite of it all. I think of how Judaism survived down through the centuries despite being so persecuted. Why not just abandon it? Again, there must have been such a supernatural payoff, that we have difficulty wrapping our minds around it today. The same can be said of the early Christian martyrs.

To paraphrase something Theodore Dalrymple once said, "misery rises to the level of the means available to alleviate it," which is an ironyclad law that liberals will never understand, for to understand it is to instantly liberate oneself from the magical prescriptions of liberalism. Of course the implementation of liberal policies only results in more greed, more bitterness, more envy, more sexual conflict, more of a sense of entitlement. But the prescription is always more of the same, which then creates the need for.... more of the same!

Clearly, despite the "war on poverty," there is more envy and bitterness today than there was in the 1950s, when conditions were immeasurably worse. A "poor" person today lives beyond the dreams of an affluent person in the 1950s, but it doesn't matter so long as one lives in the single vision of flatland liberalism, divorced from the liberating vertical energies that cause one's world to expand without limits. No one in the '50s had the internet, cell phones, air bags, statins, SSRIs, Martin Logans, test tube babies, analog insulin.... the list is endless.

As Perry describes it, the vertical axis is the only real "exit" from the burden of existence. Have you ever noticed how you feel "lighter" after a religious service? It's because you are lighter. I used to attend services at the Vedanta temple in Hollywood, and wouldn't pay to much attention to the words. Rather, I would just close my eyes and focus on the sensation of vertical liftoff.

The vertical passage is God's way "in" to manifestation, and our way "out." Or, you could say that God's expiration is our inspiration. I actually practice this consciously; when I meditate, I imagine that my inhalation corresponds to God's exhalation, and vice versa. There is a reason why spirit and breath are synonymous in the esoteric literature. When you inhale, take it all the way from the crown of head down to the heels, and when you exhale, pour it from your heart and out the top of your head while repeating the Name.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Messiah and the Dark Side of the Moonbat

What does God's little theo-drama have to do with us? For Balthasar, it is not a doctrine but a reality, the reality of the trinitarian God. Your mission, should you accept it, is to "appropriate this reality," to "enter into it and become absorbed into it," and to make it your own subjectivity. At once, you assimilate it into yourself while at the same time you become assimilated into it. Be careful though, because apparently some death is involved.

Think of how the assimilation of culture works for the child. Is he assimilating it, or does it assimilate him? Or how about language? Do we speak it, or does it speak us? This might seem like an idle question, but as I pointed out in my book, the average person is actually spoken by language. They more or less consist of a storehouse of disconnected memes that they rewordgitate like prerecorded tapes, depending upon which button you push. Indeed, this is what makes them so boring. But Petey never repeteys himsoph.

A person who is actually alive to language and operating out of a "free center" is always a dangerous person -- dangerous to the establishment. Perhaps I should clarify. "Establishment" is a term used by Bion to denote the "group container," as it were. It can only be understood dialectically, in relation to what Bion called the "mystic" or "messiah" (again, you need to strip these -- at least initially -- of their religious overtones).

Man is obviously a social animal who belongs to various groups. The first group is infant-breast (or even mouth-breast). And although it is becoming more of a rarity, some of us move on from there. However, it must be emphasized that the identical mechanisms that characterize that first group can and do operate in later ones, such as "culture."

As I explained in my book, whatever else it is, culture is first and foremost a psychological container that can be more or less in touch with reality -- just like a person. Thus, an orthodox Raccoon would not ask why this or that culture is so freaking crazy. Rather, he would ask why some are relatively sane. If you realize how crazy people are, then you understand why cultures are the way they are. Or, to put it another way, only someone who is completely blind to the dark side of human nature can proudly call themselves a "multiculturalist." Might as well boast that you have Multiple Personality Disorder.

You could say that a culture is just a neurosis writ large, while a neurosis is just a private culture. And the latter is a culture, because you don't have to be a clinical psychologist to know that the average person is at cross-purposes with himself because he is inhabited by various alter-egos with differing agendas, which we call mind parasites. Mind parasites generally operate unconsciously, while the conscious mind makes excuses for them in order to confer a spurious sense of unity upon the self -- a coherent narrative.

But this narrative is always a lie (more or less), as it is in the service of mind parasites, not Truth. Thus, to surrender to Truth is always a threat to the mind parasites. You might even imagine that you don't have any until you try to act in such a way that threatens them. One of the reasons I enjoy reading autobiographies of genuine saints and mystics is that they always go into detail about this -- about how they dealt with the rebellious mind parasites that were stirred up by virtue of their attempting to conform themselves to the Divine. So to enter the spiritual path is to declare war on your mind parasites, precisely.

Again, the establishment features the identical defense mechanisms that are present in the most basic group, i.e., mouth-breast. These include splitting, projection, internalization, deification, evacuation, envy, contempt and triumph. None of these has any necessary relationship to truth. For example, a person who is projecting may say something that is technically true, but that isn't why he's saying it. Rather, for that person, the real truth is the function of his defense mechanism, which is to expel the bad from the psyche in order to maintain homeostasis.

The mind is obviously an "order-seeking" organ. However, like all systems, it is open and at disequilibrium. As such, it can never actually achieve homeostasis except when you are dead (and it goes without saying that one may continue biological life long after one is intellectually dead, a point which is proven by the existence of the tenured). Therefore, all man-made intellectual systems, no matter how lofty, will have a component of the most primitive infantile anxiety, which comes down to the fantasy that I possess the breast (to be pedantic, this unconscious process is actually spelled phantasy, to distinguish it from conscious fantasy).

To cite one obvious example, the naive Darwinian who truly believes that his ideology provides any kind of adequate explanation of the human situation is really acting out of the most primitive defense imaginable -- just whistling past the graveyard. Please note that this does not apply to someone who simply embraces the science in a disinterested way, knowing that it's only a scientific abstraction, not to be confused with reality.

Only when people begin to invest psychic energy in these things do you see the primitive defenses coming to the fore. Obviously there are things worth getting excited over. Ida is not one of them. Nor even is the genome, since we share 98% or more of our DNA with chimps, 40% with a banana, and 30% with Keith Olbermann. But since a banana is infinitely more intelligent than a Keith Olbermann, there is more to life than DNA.

According to the sadly out of print New Introduction to the Work of Bion (used copies for only $84 to $140), "Attempts to evacuate, deify, or dogmatize are defensive reactions in the face of catastrophic change," a principle that applies "to any scientific, religious, therapeutic, or social group."

Change. Where have I heard that before? Oh yes. It appears that we are in the midst of some catastrophic changes these days. And what does the catastrophic change elicit and call out from the deep?

Yes, precisely. The Messiah. But of course, the Messiah is only the visible side of the moon. We all know that there is a dark side of the moonbat, so that whenever we see such a bright, gory sun god cast himself upon our alien shore (Henry Miller), we should always look for those other primitive mechanisms that surround him, because it's all just one great big defense. Against what? Against reality. Thus, to quote Vanderleun quoting some even grander loon, the more things change, the more they stay insane.

This is why in a creepily unprecedented way, the entire liberal media extablishment is working as a farce-multiplier for Obama's political deification. After all, no one is in the midst of a bigger crisis than the liberal media, who are in the process of becoming extinct, messiah or no messiah. Or, put this way: even the real God couldn't save newspapers. You could name Jesus editor of Snoozeweek, and even he couldn't wake it from the dead.

The more threatened the group, the more violent the projection and other primitive defenses. This is why they cannot stop demonizing conservatives, despite the fact that conservatives have absolutely no political power at this time. But if you wade into some of the more prominent left wing sites, they sound as if we are still on schedule for President Bush's theofascist takeover of the government. They must obsess over Bush and Cheney in order to "cleanse" the messiah of their own psychic toxins. After all, the toxins have to go somewhere. It's just a fact of psychic life: behind deification you will always find defecation.

It reminds me of an ironic comment that Bion made upon emigrating from England to the United States when he was well into his 60s. When asked why, he said something to the effect that in England he was so weighted down with honors that he was in danger of sinking without a trace. There is much truth to this, as it is possible to kill a man through idealization just as easily as through denigration. I ask you: how many so-called Christians kill Christ in this way?

Balthasar was certainly on the case. Why? Because the real messiah is exceedingly dangerous. He is not the cure for catastrophic change. Rather, he is its cause. He sets up his "death-jump" into history "as a model: he lures men from their limits out into the same inevitably deadly adventure. His fire is to burn on in others. Now and then he actually succeeds, like dynamite, in blasting a soul into the air, and far and wide the windows rattle and the foundations of houses quake."

BOOM!

Ah, but "what does one do when there is threat of conflagration? One hedges it in. One attempts to deprive the fire of its fuel and, if necessary, whole city-blocks have to be blown up and demolished. A bare strip is made through a burning forest, or, if it is a plains burning, a wide ditch is dug. So too must we attempt to hem him in. Create all around him a space void of air where neither fire nor love can breathe! Choke him -- but gently" (Heart of the World).

So, how can you tell a real messiah from a false one? The real one gets crucified. But only every day.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

God's Eternal Surprise Party: Just Add Love

Thesis: God is love. Antithesis: God is dead. Synthesis: Love conquers death. That seems to be the secret formula -- one of the "abstractions" we were discussing yesterday. Or, you could say that God is the "negation of negation," which I believe is what Meister Eckhart said.

By the way, I'm going to try to speedblog a bit, otherwise we'll never get to the end of this. Do you realize that nearly every post this year (excluding reruns) has been about Balthasar, and yet, we've hardly made a dent? We never got beyond volumes one of the Glory of the Lord and the Theo-Logic, and now I'm only on page 68 of the Theo-Drama. I'm afraid that old readers will drop off one by one, and that no new readers will want to come on board because they'll think this is a hyper-specialized blog catering to Balthasar freaks and stalkers.

I don't want that to happen, because I do still want to convey a "universal" message. As I have mentioned before, even if I were officially Catholic, I'm not so sure I'd want to be a "Catholic blog," because then I think I'd have (even) less credibility to outsiders, and it would be much too easy to categorize and dismiss me, instead of being relatively easy to do so.

And although I realize I am fooling myself, I would also like to appeal to a secular audience, at least those for whom their intellectual condition is not fatal. Remember, despite appearances, we are not arguing "from" Christian orthodoxy, but toward it. (In fact, you could even argue that this movement "toward" Christianity is the proper mode, but we'll let that go for now.)

To cite just one example, I talk about the Trinitarian nature of God. Christian theologians say that this is something that mankind could never have arrived at independently in the absence of God revealing it to us. Otherwise, the highest conception of man can only be the One (a la Plotinus) or "beyond being" (a la Shankara or Schuon).

But I think I actually did kinda sorta more or less arrive at this idea independently. I don't think it's so difficult. All you have to do is posit "love" rather than "one" as the highest state. Once you do that, then love automatically implies threeness: lover, beloved, and the love that passes between them. The rest is just commentary. A lot of it.

In my case, oddly enough, I arrived at this conception via modern psychoanalysis, not theology, much less revelation. As I have mentioned before, the structure of my book mirrors somewhat my own journey from lukewarm atheism to promiscuous poly-monotheism.

But in chapter three, in analyzing how man became hu-man and how God put the sapiens into a bunch of homos, I explained how the emergence of man would have been strictly impossible if it hadn't rested on a foundation of being "members of one another," which is an extremely unusual state to be in, i.e., interior relatedness. Human relationships are not like two atoms coming together, but more like an organism with diverse parts. Or, you could say that the private particles are a function of the holographic wave, and that waving to yourself would be stupid.

In short, intersubjectivity is prior to individual subjectivity ("maleandfemale He created them"). And since intersubjectivity is an ultimate ontological category, it was sort of a no-brainer for me to jump to the conclusion that God, whatever else he is, must be intersubjective, consisting of distinct and unconfused "parts" that are nevertheless inseparable "members of one another."

And, just as it is for human beings, it turns out that love is the medium in which this intersubjectivity has its being. Love is what floats your boat on those holographic waves of being. This can be misleading, because we cannot think of this love in any abstract way -- as if it can somehow exist outside a lover and beloved, or ship and lighthouse.

Again, if everything reduces to one, then love gets blown out of the water. Indeed, if you start with One, and then add love to it after the fact, then -- anyway you try to spin it -- you're talking about a narcissistic God who is in love with himself, or who lives allone in a pineapple under the sea.

Furthermore, God being God, you would have to say that love is only an illusion, an aspect of maya. It's just God pulling the wool over his own eyes. But let no man say that O stands for Onanism.

Again, once you posit love as ultimate, then an intrinsically "flowing" intersubjective trinity follows from that. What does that mean? Many things.

For example, the "highest state" cannot be any kind of empty void or static unity, but must be the essence of love, which is boundless self-giving and grateful receiving. You will notice that power has nothing to do with it.

Indeed, as we touched on yesterday, to live in this state is to be peculiarly powerless, since one does not "control" the loved one. Or, to the extent that you do try to control the beloved, love withers and shades off into possession, or you end up like that Othello fellow. Love is a dangerously vulnerable position to be in -- the more love, the more vulnerable.

There again, this would imply that God does not "possess," or horde, or withhold. Just as his power is in his powerlessness, his treasure is in his giving. Here is how we may understand the "paradox" of the powerless and abandoned Jesus on the cross being the highest expression of God's power and love and glory, hallelujah. I would say that without this master key of intersubjective love, it makes no sense at all, and we simply have to accept it on faith: "Er, I realize this looks bad, but trust me.... "

This also implies that the Godhead must be eternal surprise, the very opposite of predictability, boredom, tedium, LGF, MSM journalism, etc. I've heard atheists argue that even if heaven existed, they wouldn't want to be there, because it would be too boring.

Au coontraire! God by his very nature must be "full of surprises." Indeed, why do you think human beings like surprises? Have you ever noticed that all other animals hate surprises? We used to have an extrarordinarily intelligent dog who was a freakishly good security guard. It was a kind of OCD. If anything in the house was in a slightly different place, she'd notice. And she wouldn't like it. She didn't even like it if I did something unpredictable. I might jump up and cheer at a base hit, and she'd start barking at me. Sit down! Shut up! No sudden movements! Achtung!

Now, children especially love surprises. Perhaps they know something we don't know. As a matter of fact, as I explained in chapter three of my book, neoteny is a key that unlocks or breaks down many doors, neoteny being none other than a state of "permanent immaturity." Think about that: only human beings are (potentially) in a state of permanent immaturity. All other animals have a fixed endpoint to their development, but a proper human being keeps developing until he draws his last breath.

But there are two types of immaturity, aren't there? In a way, you could say that these parallel holy vs. assouly childlikeness. In order to enter heaven -- which is where God makes his crib -- you must be childlike, never childish -- you know, just a touch of infanity.

Children live in a state of trust and spontaneity, at least so long as they are given the proper environment. But the childish are only caricatures of this: not spontaneous but impulsive; not faith-ful but gullible; not obedient but conformist; not grounded but stubborn; not affectionate but clinging; not loving but narcissistic.

But enough about liberals.

Wo. Getting late. Where are we, anyway? Oh. Page 68. Do you see the problem? I started on page 68. And now I've gotten up to page 68. Same old same mold, to put it mildewy. If God didn't keep placing all these unpredictable surprises in my Way, I'm just sure I'd find him....

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

God's Eternal Calculus

Why? Why this way? By virtue of what principle?

These are questions I constantly ask myself in contemplating the theo-drama. There is a big part of me that cannot fully participate in the drama in its particulars, because this part of me is looking for the abstract or universal principles embodied in it. It's something of a catch 22, because the moment you start to contemplate the deeper theme of a work of art, you are no longer in it, so to speak. Rather, you're lifted above it and considering it from the outside.

A truly great work of art will operate seamlessly on both levels. I'd cite Shakespeare, but I'd be a fake here. Instead, let's pick something more my speed, say, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. This film works as pure entertainment, but also as an allegory of the confrontation between the messiah and the establishment. In the end, the messiah (McMurphy) is crucified by the establishment (Nurse Rached), but his death is converted to new life by Big Chief, who internalizes McMurphy's essence and escapes from the bughouse.

Vis-s-vis the Christian theo-drama, here's the problem I have: the moment you see it as a drama, you have "ironized" it. You have placed a kind of distance between you and it. The premodern world didn't have this distance. Rather, they were able to immerse themselves in the drama, without ever knowing they were in one.

It reminds me of how Future Leader is able to immerse himself in, say, Peter Pan, without having any idea that it is really a fable about a girl on the cusp of puberty who is deeply ambivalent about having to leave the magical world of childhood behind. Yes, it works on both levels, but the "point" of the plot is the theme, not vice versa.

It seems to me that this is a real problem in the postmodern world; specifically, how can we lose ourselves in a drama we know to be one? Or, to turn it around, once we start analyzing the drama, are we no longer fully a part of it?

Now, I definitely feel as if I am in a drama, except I call it the cosmo-drama. The drama has been going on for as long as I can remember. You might also call it The Inward Adventure. I can only write from personal experience and describe how it feels from the inside, which is what I attempted to do in Chapter 4 of my book. That chapter might seem abstract, but it is actually my attempt to distill what seem to me to be the "general principles" beneath the cosmo-drama.

I really only have one measure of my life, and it is the day-to-deity "progress" I make in the cosmo-drama. There is no question whatsoever that it involves a kind of "movement." But what is "moving?" And what is it moving toward? And what is the medium in which it moves? If you are a Christian, I suppose you'd say that the soul is moving toward God within the medium of consciousness. But in order to avoid the problem of cognitive saturation, I reduce it to (¶) being pulled into the Great Attractor of O.

Aurobindo said something to the effect that there is a soul within and a Grace above, and this is all you know or need to know. I think that to surrender to this dynamic reality is the essence of religiosity, i.e., what you might call the "theo-metabolism" of (↓↑). This process is real, as real as cellular metabolism. There's just no question about it.

Speaking of which, I can't tell you how many times I've placed the symbol (↓↑) in the margins of the Theo-Drama. Let's see if I can find some good examples.

Here's a passage that speaks to the dynamic of (¶) and O. Balthasar states that one of his constant themes is "the relationship between earth (man's 'place') and heaven (God's 'place')," and that "the world has a teleology, a destination in God; mankind and its history is moving toward that great 'harvest,'" in which we slough off everything that is unworthy of eternity -- or it is cast into the fire. He quotes Suso, who wrote that "the spark of the soul... does not rest until it returns to the divine Ground whence it came and where it was in its uncreated state."

Here is another passage that illuminates the (↓↑): "Heaven and earth are there for one another; their original distance and abiding distinctness from one another has been established in order that they can approach one another" (emphasis his).

Here's a good one: "Man wants to soar up, but the Word wants to descend. Thus will the two meet half-way...." Both arrows are actually a single process, as "the going forth is no less unconditional than the return.... And perhaps the going forth from God is still more divine than the return home, since the greatest thing is not for us to know God and reflect this knowledge back to him as if we were gleaming mirrors, but for us to proclaim God as burning torches proclaim the light." You know, to be bright fleshlights, lumen beings, just His lux.

God's going out is his eternal return. Here is Balthasar imagining Christ's inner dialogue: "What flows down into me vertically from you, my Source, this I have spread far and wide horizontally over the earth's expanse. And what was our eternal life, shared by both of us horizontally, up above in the circle of eternity, this I have brought down vertically to the very depths of the earth."

This is from man's point of view: "This Now when our two names have met is my birthday in eternity, and no time shall ever erase this Now.... Here is creation and a new beginning.... The rigid envelope which enclosed me from the outside and preserved my emptiness now shatters to fragments..."

Why yes, congratulations on the equation of your cosmic birth! You haven't perceived the hologram to to your private particle? Come in, open his Presence, and report for karmic duty. Ho!

Again, the question I admittedly can't help asking myself is, is the Christian theo-drama superimposed on these more abstract principles? Or is it the "thing itself," about which it is improper to look for abstract principles?

In a way, this mirrors the advance of science, which could not take place until human beings were capable of looking at the world abstractly. You could say that the most momentous leap of consciousness occurred when one of our furbears noticed with astoneagement that two rocks and two sticks reduced to this abstract thing called "two." After that it was off to the human race.

Or, it's like evolution become conscious of itself. For billions of years, the cosmos evolved all by itself. But now that human beings are aware of the drama of evolution, doesn't that mean that we are no longer fully in it? This is why I insist that either evolution explains man, or man explains evolution. If it explains us, then that reduces to a tautology: evolution explains evolution. You can leave man out of the equation.

Or can you?

Is it the end? Nothing that ends is any longer there. Is it the beginning? The beginning of what? In the beginning was the Word. What kind of word? What incomprensible, formless, meaningless word? But look: What is this light glimmer that wavers and begins to take form in the endless void? A nameless thing, more solitary than God, it emerges out of pure emptiness. It is no one. It is anterior to everything. Is it the beginning? --Balthasar

Well? I think it must be something like the absurcular process outlined in my book: Take us before & beyond this womentary maninfesation, reveal not the horizontal but our inmost upmost vertical bigending.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Because I Said So vs. Because I Did So (or My Way is the High Way)

Does the existence of man denote a self-imposed limit on God's freedom? Much of the Theo-Drama touches on this touchy question without providing any tangible answer. Yes, there are easy answers to the question if one reverts to dogma. But that just recalls my father's all-purpose answer: "because I said so." Some of us can't be satisfied with that response, even if it conveys the truth. Instead, we want to know why you say so.

I haven't yet had to say that to my son, and I hope I never do. Not to say I can't be authoritarian. However, instead of "because I said so," I might say, for example, because that's the way it is. In other words, it is not "I" who says so, but reality which does. I would then explain why reality operates in this frustrating or painful manner, and how reality always "bites back" if you violate it.

Let's say Andrew Sullivan comes to me in tears, asking why he can't marry his boyfriend. I would calmly explain that a man cannot marry a man, that it is an impossibility. If he pressed the issue, I wouldn't end the conversation with "because I said so." Rather, I would explain that this is the way it is, and that even if the law imposes homosexual marriage on us, homosexuals still cannot live in a state of "marriage," any more than I can make my aunt a trolley car by judicial fiat, or a Fiat by judicial folly.

It seems to me that "because I said so" indicates a position of weakness. But if one is in a weak position, one should simply acknowledge it. Just say, "I don't really know," or "it sounded like a good idea at the time." Don't pretend you have all the answers.

So Balthasar asks the question -- a question we all need to ask our Father -- is God "powerless in the face of autonomous man's 'No'? And how is this divine powerlessness related to the Godforsakenness of his Son on the Cross?"

The answer inevitably shades off into theo-drama, which is the "long" answer to that question, precisely (for it takes ages to be fully revealed). In other words, the structure of the theo-drama would seem to imply something about the nature of God's power over his own creation -- that there are certain limits that even he will not violate. It's as if he needs to operate within his own self-imposed boundaries in order to try to overcome man's autonomous "No," otherwise the Victory is tainted.

Here again, it would be easy enough for God to just say because I said so. Isn't this the way things work in the Islamic world? Sharia is the imposition of "God's will" on everyone, like it or not. "But why must we force women to live in black bags, or murder our rebellious daughters, or beat men who shave their beards?" Shut up!, he explained.

Much of this follows from the conception of a monistic god, which then imposes a strict dualism of god-->man. But the Trinitarian God is fundamentally different, as its intrinsic activity involves the self-emptying of the Father with respect to the Son.

Again, the Father doesn't "hold back" anything, but "gives his all." Thus, his power is in his powerlessness, so to speak. But within the Trinity, this gift is accepted by the Son with eternal gratitude and humility, and then "returned" to the Father in an "enriched" form, if we may put it thus.

Apparently, we have no real access to the goings-on inside the Trinity. However, I think I can get some sense of the eternal delight in observing how this plays out with my own son. The amount of love and care that parents give to their infant cannot be measured. It's about as close to "infinite" as you can imagine, in part because their needs are infinite.

But now that he's four years old, we're starting to see the love we poured into him, not just returning to us, but spreading out into the world. What can I say? It's a marvelous thing to behold.

Yes, you could say that it's only your own love returning back to you, so what's the big deal? And yet, it is a big deal. Something happens to the love by virtue of letting it go and pouring it into your infant, before whom you are helpless. Let Mrs. G tell you stories about the profound helplessness a mother feels toward a colicky baby. Some mothers have been known to abuse or murder their babies rather than tolerate the pain of that helplessness.

My mind just went to the image of Christ's pain on the cross. But imagine the pain of the Father! Now my mind flashes to Saddam torturing children in the presence of their parents. If you have children, you know that this is "unimaginable" pain, probably even outside satan's limits. And yet, this literally unimaginable pain is at the very heart of the Christian mystery. What's going on?

So you can see right away that God's answer to the question of "why," goes way beyond "because I said so." The question now becomes more like, "why are you doing this to yourself? You're God. You don't have to endure this unimaginable pain. Just smite Man and be done with it. He's not worth it."

Hmmmmmm....

Hmmmmmm....

Hmmmmmm....

While we wait for an answer, consider this: "Infinite love is seen, in that God has identified himself with what is alien to him in order to kill it." In math, the multiplication of two negatives is a positive. Could it be that Death x Death = Life? Or Pain x Pain = Joy?

Can death be killed? If so, can we kill our own death? Inquiring minds want to know!

They say that one of the problems in having a child is that your heart is no longer in your own body. Rather, it's now set loose in the world, outside your body, running around free. It's completely helpless and vulnerable -- anything can happen, and you have no control over it. And yet, God sets loose his heart into the world. What madness is this!

Again, why would one set loose one's most cherished possession in this world, of all places?! I can't even imagine doing that with my child. Rather, I will do everything within my power to protect him from the world. Our culture has become the enemy. When "in" it, you are in hostile territory. Any spiritually sane person understands this.

But God's heart wanders around everywhere, high and low: with whores, drunks, lepers, tax collectors, leftists. For this heart, in order to overcome death, must embrace all. He must taste the whole existentialada.

Imagine flushing your child down the toilet, and you get the idea. There can be no limits to his descent, not even human limits. Rather, he must descend to the hidden dimensions of the cosmos, to the vast network of filthy arteries beneath our brightly lit cultures, every last dreadful one of them. He must break free of every "prison of finitude," only in order to find himself in a more vast prison system.

But why? Why must it be this way?

All of this must be so. And it must be hidden, and men have no inkling of what is occurring. They simply walk on past it as over the dark pipes and drains that form the gruesome catacombs under our big cities. Up above the sun is beaming; peacocks fan out their tails; young people frolic with glee, their light clothes puffed by the wind -- and no one knows the price. --Balthasar, Heart of the World

To be continued...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Obsessive-Compulsive Political Disorder and the Hopelessness of Hope

We left off last Friday discussing those evil twin towers of the leftist narrative, utiopianism and revolutionism. You say you want a revolution? Good! You got one. Scipio ponders the gruesome details here.

So you're happy now, right? Utopia is right around the coroner, is it not?

Ho!

Leftists are constitutionally incapable of noticing that their revolutionism is always at odds with their utopianism, and only "delays" the latter (but only forever). Therefore, what's the solution? More revolutionism. As Obama promised -- or threatened -- the other day, you ain't seen nothin' yet! This leads to the odd situation in which the revolutionism becomes the utopia. The utopia itself can never come about. Rather, the fun is in trying.

For all of those aging boomers who miss the '60s, this is the reason why: it was a time of manically "hopeful revolutionism," indeed like adolescence itself (mania is always a defense against depression). Of course, it didn't take long for the revolution to turn distinctly dystopic; therefore, it had to somehow be sustained without ever achieving its goal. To actually achieve the goal would be the end of the revolution, and therefore the end of hope. The secret of Democrat power is to forever keep its drones suspended in a state of hopeless hope. The more hopeless you are, the more false hope they have to promise you.

In the absence of revolutionary hope, we would have to accept man for what he is, and start from that depressing but sober realization. Which is what our wise founders did.

It reminds me very much of the great psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott's observations about the unconscious phenomenology of shoplifting. He noticed that the compulsive shoplifter didn't necessarily steal out of greed or need. Rather, he did so in hope. In that suspended tick of time in which the theft is taking place, the shoplifter experiences a kind of exalted hope that lifts him out of his existential despair. Of course, the effect is only temporary and must be reenacted again and again.

This is a profound observation, because it doesn't just apply to shoplifters, but to most any kind of compulsive behavior. A compulsion is a kind of mini-narrative, except that it is entirely circular and lands you right back where you started. Behind the compulsion is some sort of unconscious or semi-conscious hope: hope for safety, or esteem, or fulfillment, or health, or whatever. But the compulsion cannot actually be fulfilled, or the person would be reduced to a state of hopelessness. So the little drama must be compulsively staged and reenacted, often with more elaborate details, but no change in the underlying structure.

Again, it is the narrative that counts, not the facts. Facts that do not fit into the narrative are not only ignored, but actively attacked. This is not a "passive" kind of madness, but quite active, for this is where the leftist places his misplaced faith: in their specifically Christian counter-narrative. They will defend this narrative with all of the tools at their disposal, even while concealing its nature, often even (or especially) to themselves.

To bring the narrative fully into the light would rob it of its mystery, for in the end, there is nothing mysterious about it. It's like the withered little man beneath the Darth Vader costume. It's just plain old secular socialism, underneath which is the hope for an immanent utopia, or heaven on earth. Thus, it hopes for the impossible, and gets it every time.

Today the church has largely gone from shaping history to being either shaped or bypassed altogether by the historical forces it brought into being (such as Christian hope). Nowhere is this more evident than in "liberation theology," which appropriates the Christian narrative for the purpose of destroying it. Anyone who thinks it is unimportant that Obama found his soul's rest in just such a degraded theology is a fool, for he has now made himself the central actor in that counter-narrative, even while claiming to have left that particular church behind. He hasn't left it. Rather, he's finally taking it seriously, backing up his faith with bold actions, not just words.

The point is, man must live in drama, and a drama has conflict and resolution. For the Christian, the primary locus of the conflict is within the self, and secondarily between powers at play in the world -- powers that "enlist" actors to read their lines and do their bidding. And the hope is for eternal salvation, not temporal utopia.

For the leftist, the principle conflict is superficially between "haves and have-nots," but the deeper conflict is between finite having and infinite wanting. And that is a conflict that can never be resolved, for the very reason that man's wanting is infinite -- as infinite as his imagination.

There is nothing you can give a man that will extinguish his wanting more, unless that man is on a spiritual path through which he transcends, or at least masters, that kind of mimetic desire (which is to be distinguished from appetite, which is natural desire uncontaminated by mimesis or compulsion). In other words, in addition to desire being infinite in itself, man always wants what the other guy has, just because the other guy has it.

I suppose it's possible to completely transcend desire in the manner of a Ramana Maharshi, but moderation is the more practical means of dealing with it. As Dennis Prager recommends, you should give yourself little proscribed areas for the enactment of "moderate vice."

For example, with me, it's my Blue Note collection. Yesterday I snagged an out-of-print rarity from some poor sucker for only ten bucks, when they often go for the absurdly high price of $150. Did that make me happy? Yes, for a moment. But now I really "need" this one, which is fetching a preposterous $90. Thus, it's a kind of deadly game between me and a future sucker. I just have to wait him out, then move in for the kill.

But let's say I eventually collect every rare and out of print Blue Note. Would that make me happy? Fulfilled? Of course not! If anything, it would make me less happy, because it would be the end of my little game.

Again, I think this is the deep structure of the naive leftist, who is playing a game he hopes to win, but in winning will leave him without hope. Thus, Obama must find a way to keep the preposterous fantasies of hope alive, even while never fulfilling them (which he cannot do anyway, of course).

It's the same with the naive scientist or Darwinist. Let's say Queeg's fondest hopes are fulfilled, and that no one ever again utters the words "intelligent design." Then what? It won't even make any practical difference in the world, let alone bring about the secular eschaton. At least I can listen to my CDs.

Likewise the Darwinian geek who gets all excited about this or that discovery. But why? He already knows that the narrative has no meaning or purpose. Therefore, he must fool himself into thinking that things have meaning, when they really don't. It's a little game that the Darwinian plays with himself, in order to make his meaningless existence bearable. But if you call them on it, you will notice that they get as touchy as a Muslim over a cartoon of Mohammed.

Bottom line: the left is on a (counter) religious crusade. And as we all know, you can knock a man down, spit in his face, and slander his name all over the place, but don't you mess with his crusade ruse.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Being, Knowing, and Sensible Footwear

I have very good leather to sell to those who wish to make shoes. --Gurdjieff

Here is a post from two years ago. Interestingly, in exhumining the corpus from that month, I see that I was experiencing a little disturbance in the force, or farce, depending on your point of view. I was having trouble blogging, which is just a side effect of trouble living, or at least living in the way I would like, which involves blogging every day.

Is that too terribly tautologous for allavus? It shouldn't be, because for the Raccoon, knowing can only flow from being. Detached from being, the things I write about would be worthless. They might have some intellectual content or some insultainment value, but qua religion, you'd be much better off going elsewhere.

I felt exactly the same way with regard to becoming a clinical psychologist. First of all, I never got into this racket because of any delusions of "healing" people. Rather, my motives were entirely impractical and therefore honest. In short, I was just curious. And if you are curious for a long enough time, they eventually give you this thing called a "Ph.D." But the bad news is, they kick you out of school. Now you have to deal with the real world. Unless you become tenured, in which case you can play in the sandbox of academia forever.

This wouldn't have posed a problem for me if my Ph.D. were in, say, chemistry or engineering, since those don't carry the burden of implying an ability to heal souls. But like it or not, I was now in the soul-healing business. However, most people have no business being in that business. For one thing, I'm not so sure it should even be a business.

In any event, I was pretty convinced that my getting into that business at that time was a kind of quackery, since I was just ducking my own issues beneath the water. I knew full well that I had a thriving population of my own mind parasites that I hadn't yet eradicated or brought to heel. I mean, I still did therapy, because it was nevertheless true that most people were crazier than me. On my worst day, it was still unlikely that a patient less crazy than me would walk through the door.

In this regard, I compared it to giving guitar lessons. Imagine that neither of us really knows how to play guitar. We're both taking lessons, except that I'm a couple of weeks ahead of you. Since I've seen the next lesson, I can always fake it by teaching you what I just learned.

When I started graduate school, I had fantasies about the transformative power of psychotherapy. As part or that, I initially idealized my teachers, as if they were the powerful soul-healers alluded to above. But gradually, reality eclipsed the fantasies, and I discovered that, with a few notable exceptions, these people were quite mediocre. I mean, they weren't bad people, but they had no business being soul healers. And yet, unlike me, they seemed untroubled by it. Indeed, for many, it seemed that getting a Ph.D. merged with their own narcissism, as if to say, "I am a healer, therefore I am healed."

Now, apply this whole scenario to the realm of Spirit. Yesterday a reader asked for advice about how to tell real teachers from the frauds. He was genuinely frightened that he might open himself up to a bad influence (probably meaning me!) that would damage his spiritual foundation. This is indeed a legitimate concern, as the world is full of false and destructive -- even frankly demonic -- "gurus" such as Deepak or Tony Robbins.

Here is part of my response: "I don't think there's any big mystery there. Just stick with people who are part of an orthodox tradition rooted in revelation. Once you understand the deeper principles, then you are inoculated against nonsense in other fields, such as science and philosophy. You can take what is good in the latter, and ignore the bad or metaphysically impossible, as I mentioned in today's post vis-a-vis Darwinism.

"One of the intrinsic problems of protestantism is that it broke away from the main stream of Christianity, which extends back to Christ and the apostles. Therefore, there's always a 'lone wolf' aspect to it. This in itself isn't necessarily bad, you just have to be very cautious about who you allow into your head and heart. The reverse problem can afflict orthodoxy, since it can become reified and dogmatic, and closed off to the novel. A Meister Eckhart can appear as a radical heretic in his time, only to later be revealed as arguably the greatest European man who ever lived.

"Jesus addressed this issue when he said know them by their fruits. One of the first fruits of your own genuine spiritual growth will be the ability to discern spirits. You will acquire a sixth sense that will tell you immediately if you are dealing with a person of authentic spiritual attainment, or someone who is 'just words.' The genuine saints and sages converge in the broad details, but more importantly, they are able to directly transmit their realization to the sympathetic and qualified disciple. It is a very physical (albeit subtle) sensation, one of joy, transparency, lightness, expansion, etc. As you grow in your own spirituality, you will naturally be capable of more depth, so that people who once seemed deep to you will now appear shallow. Which is fine. It takes all kinds to make world, and not everyone has the same spiritual qualifications."

Did this preface have a point? I don't know, but perhaps it is this: to "know them by their fruit" is to know them by their being, not their knowledge, the latter of which is so easy to fake. Remember the story of the student who went to study with the great rabbi -- not to find out what he "knew," but to "watch him tie his shoelaces." Bottom line: stay away from spiritual teachers who wear fancy loafers.

****

First of all, for a variety of scientific reasons I won't get into, I think the odds of intelligent beings on other planets are vanishingly remote. But even then, the idea that intelligence alone is sufficient to account for the humanness through which our intelligence is channelled is extraordinarily naive. Or put it this way: intelligence is necessary, but hardly sufficient, to account for our humanness. We are nothing at all like merely intelligent apes, but something else entirely.

In my book, I noted that humanness is an ontological station that is anterior to our having entered it. This is why, as we evolved into this space, it was not "empty," so to speak. Rather, it was quite "full," except that much of the information was implicit rather than explicit. It had to be unpacked and brought into being in the material world -- which we have been doing for the past 40,000 years or so. In the most general terms, we have been bringing the Good, the True, and the Beautiful into the world. Our attraction to these things can by no means be explained by (natural) intelligence itself, but is separate from it.

There was a brief discussion of this in yesterday's thread, where Will used the allegory of a village of of the blind: "One individual suddenly develops eyesight, the first villager to do so. Quite the revelation! This individual's spatial sense deepens beyond his previous imaginings. And the colors! He never knew they existed.

"Taking in the sky, he tries to explain the color blue to the villagers. In fact, he tries to explain the concept of sky to them. Bottom line, he can't. He might use analogies like, well, 'blue' is like a coating that you can't really touch, plus it's sort of 'cold-like,' not like ice, but like river water, etc. Some of the villagers might be intrigued with his analogies, but that's a far as it would go. Most would dismiss him, would almost have to dismiss him, as crazy. They simply lack the frame of reference by which he senses colors -- eyesight.

"Anyway, I think that genuine apprehension of God and the Divine Archetypal Realm, to the extent that humans are capable of such, is literally the activation of sense organ(s), that is, a 6th, 7th (and on up) sense organ."

I agree with Will that such higher sense organs would have to correlate in some way with the human brain, but that they can never be reduced to it. For example, let's say that neurologists locate that part of the brain responsible for recognizing artistic beauty. Would this prove that the differences in beauty between, say, a Thomas Gainsborough and a Thomas Kinkade are not really real? This is not as stupid as it sounds, for I guarantee you that in the next six months, if they are still in business, the New York Times will run another ridiculous article about some earthbound neurologist who has discovered the part of the brain responsible for religion, or awareness of God, or mystical states. What this proves is precisely nothing -- except perhaps that every interior has an exterior (in the manner described by Ken Wilber) and that Thomas Dolby was right: it is possible to be blinded by science.

In response to Will's comment, I wrote that that our brain architecture "comes into being simultaneously with an encounter with a particular world." Interestingly, the latest research suggests not only that human evolution is still ongoing, but that it can occur much more rapidly than anyone had realized. Thus, the future evolution of homo raccoonicus could occur over the space of a few generations.

In his summary of the latest research, Nicholas Wade makes a number of points that are highly upsetting to the psycho-spiritual left, since he leaves little reason to doubt that various human groups acquire traits and abilities that others do not. He cites many examples, one of which being the Jews who, pound for pound, have contributed more to human excellence than any other group -- even more so when you consider that they have also been the most persecuted group down through history (no coincidence there).

For example, although they represent far less than 1% of the world’s population, Jews have won 15 to 20 percent of the Nobel Prizes, and perhaps constitute an even higher percentage of the world's greatest comedians. On the other hand, the Palestinians have won exactly one Nobel Prize, and of course it was given to one of the most depraved and disgusting monsters who ever drew breath. And the Palestinian contribution to comedy, although considerable, has been entirely unintended -- e.g. the wild-eyed imams with their crazed Friday evening sermons, the comical s'allapstiq "work accidents" in which they accidentally blow themselves up, the frenzied "car swarms" in which they hope to retrieve a bloody finger or fragment of brain martyr. Israelis and Palestinians might as well be a different species -- which, in a way, they are. Not, of course, in any horizontal racial sense, but in a vertical sense. To say that one of them is more evolved than the other is a banality of the first rank, unless you are a rank leftist who doesn't believe in vertical rank.

Not only is this view not racist, but it is the polar opposite, for it means that ethnic traits are not fixed but subject to evolution, change and progress. But for some reason, the left doesn't like this kind of evolution. Rather, they argue that all cultures are equally beautiful and that any differences between them are arbitrary. Furthermore, if you argue that one culture is superior to another, you are a racist. Thus, the left habitually confuses race and culture, making it impossible to criticize -- and therefore help -- a dysfunctional culture without being called a racist. This is precisely what happened to one of the last great liberals, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who wrote so sensitively of the "tangle of pathology" afflicting African American culture. That all of his most dire predictions came to pass is of no consequence to the ideologically blinded "reality based community" -- the ironically named progressive left, another group that cannot evolve.

In any event, as I mentioned in a comment yesterday, it is clear to me that we are co-evolving the language to describe various "post-biological realities" as we enter into them. This is very much analogous to the early explorers of the new world, who all landed in different areas and came back with diverse and seemingly contradictory discriptions of the flora and fauna they'd found. At first, the descriptions of higher planes are going to be highly subjective and seemingly disconnected from the others, but as we increasingly colonize the space, we start to see how all the descriptions fit together. Certainly that is what I was trying to do with my book, and even more so with the blog, in part because I know that my neurology has changed as a consequence of repeated encounters with the Nous World. I see things very clearly now that were more shrouded before, just as I see things vaguely now that will presumably become clearer as I go. The spiritual world is perpetually "coming into view."

In the past, some atheists have complained that I am "bigoted" against them. Which is true, if you abuse the term beyond recognition. To me, a bigot is someone who discriminates against another based upon some insignificant difference, such as race. It is another thing entirely to discriminate against an ideology or belief system. In this sense, discrimination is the essence of intelligence. I discriminate against atheism because, one, I think it is intrinsically stupid, and two, I think it would be highly destructive if a significant number of people were reduced to its influence, instead of it remaining just a small club of eccentrics, misfits, and spiritually disabled losers.

And yes, when I say "destructive," I do mean destructive of the human being as I understand him. For it would mean the foreclosure of those supramental spiritual realities to which humans have unique access and that we are in the process of bringing into being.

Ironically, the atheist by definition does not understand my writing, and yet, objects to my ideas. The reverse is obviously not true: there is nothing about atheism that cannot be understood by a normal adolescent schoolboy. But one of the atheists asks, "Does anyone understand what this guy is talking about, because there is no content that I can discern. It is literally vacuous, and atrociously written to boot. From any rational perspective, it is empty and devoid of coherence or significance [and] preposterously boring."

Another one writes of my "lurid and vacuous prose" which is "completely and utterly meaningless when analysed, hermeneutically or otherwise." Furthermore -- or less -- "even Bob couldn't explain rationally what he means by it, yet one does not have to be a psychiatrist to understand what his real problem is. Gagdad Bob is just another pathetically feeble individual" and even a "true psychopath."

Another one confesses total ignorance of what I write about, but then, in typical atheist fashion, assumes that the ignorance resides in me rather than her. She admits that my writing is a "confusing mess" to her, and that "Honestly, I think Bob spends more time thumbing through a thesaurus than he does with actually trying to make his thoughts coherent. It seems to me he's more concerned with impressing people with his 'fancy' words than he is with people understanding what he's trying to convey. What's the point of writing for others in the way Bob does, when you end up making your readers incapable of understanding what you're writing? Perhaps his stringing together a bunch of those 'fancy' words gets people to think he's understanding the issues on a higher plane, and those who are easily led follow along like sheep, believing that they're just too stupid to understand someone with such supposed 'important' thoughts/feelings. His followers are led to believe they're in the presence of somebody really important and special."

And this one is also too funny to ignore: "Regarding the chances of reaching the 'Racoons,' it would be silly to argue that any of them would ever be convinced to abondon their belief in god. However they may come to realize that this person whom they occasionally refer to as 'Fearless Leader' (and who refers to his own son from time to time as 'Future Leader') is a gross, opportunistic narcissist who does not truly share their values."

Like the Palestinkians, their humor is always inadvertent.

Anyway, given that my writing is empty, irrational, literally vacuous, devoid of content, incoherent, and insignificant, how can it simultaneously be a dangerous threat to atheists? If it is literally devoid of content, then that means there can be no objectionable content. It's just crazy talk.

But again, as I have said all along, atheism is nothing more and nothing less than a frank confession of total ignorance of any ontologically real spiritual plane transcending the senses. It is simply the "final common pathway" of a spiritual failure to launch with diverse causes. Which is fine. If that's how they choose to live their lives, who am I to argue with them? I'm a liberal. I'm all for them squandering their liberty in any way they see fit. How can that pose a threat to them?

These are divisive times, both horizontally -- which is obvious -- and vertically, which is the true source of the horizontal strife, for cultural space is developmental time. As Will pointed out, "Obviously the most fractious time is when the outsiders [i.e., the vertical explorers] begin to expand in number and outreach. This is when the distinctions between old language and new would be most divisive. Attempts at conciliation between old and new would be inevitably, necessarily futile. Those of the old persuasion would have hope of becoming new -- should they so desire -- but the new can never return to the old status. They either eventually succeed in establishing newness or they are eliminated by the reactionary old."

Evolution is a harsh mysteress. I suppose it would be nice if atheists were capable of understanding my writing, but then they wouldn't be atheists. Hey, if the shoe doesn't fit....