Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stay Thirsty My Friends

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. --Revelation 22:1

I think I might be going through Balthasar Withdrawal Syndrome. I immersed myself in his world for so long (over six months of nothing but), that I'm not sure how it all relates to me. I suppose it's the same with any addiction. They say that one of the difficulties of sobering up is that one has to become reacquainted with oneself. Only then do you realize why you drank in the first place: "Not him again. Get me a drink!"

In order to assimilate him into my substance, I must either become "bigger" than he is, or else somehow abstract his essence. But the latter is very difficult to do when the body of work is so vast. Then again, I suppose it's the same difficulty I'm having with myself vis-a-vis the arkive: how do I stand back and wrap my mind around myself?

It reminds me of James Brown's Super Bad, in which he sings, Good God / I jump back / I wanna kiss myself! How is that possible, unless one really is as super baaaaad as JB?

I also must admit that I've hit a bit of a speed bump with Ms. Adrienne. Remember, she was Balthasar's mystic friend who would go into a trance and dictate to him about various spiritual realities. Maybe it's just me, but I tried reading her commentary on the gospel of John, and found it rather... boring. Frankly, I gave up. I guess I'm having difficulty with the idea that someone can be granted an extraordinary charism by God, but the charism can be a little on the tedious side.

Again, it's probably just be me. Someone else might very well find it to be the most stimulating thing they've ever encountered. Come to think of it, it might just be a bhakti/jnani thing. Bhakti yoga primarily involves deeply felt love and adoration of God, whereas jnani joga is rooted more in intellection, wisdom, or sapiential knowledge. The latter is more geared toward fertile eggheads and free-range pneumanauts.

It's not that God has these divisions, but that people do, and it takes all kinds to make a world. Therefore, a full service religion has a little something for everyone. Furthermore, these divisions are eventually transcended within the path one chooses (or which chooses one). In other words, one discovers that knowledge is ultimately rooted in love and communion, while love is its own kind of unitive knowledge.

This would explain why von Speyr doesn't speak directly to me, whereas Schuon, for example, does. He strikes me as the quintessential jnani, even though he clearly had his devotional side. Indeed, he was fundamentally a man of prayer, in that it is always apparent that he is "thinking on his knees." He's not just thinking "about" God, but in God.

I have this compulsion to reconnect with Schuon as a sort of palate cleanser. He is always compact and pithy, but his pithiest book is no doubt Echoes of Perennial Wisdom. Even the title is refreshing: ah, Echoes of Perennial Wisdom. An O-asis of spiritual waters.

Let's take a little drink, shall we? Page 3: "The world scatters us, and the ego compresses us; God gives us recollection and dilates us, He gives us peace and delivers us." Ah, refreshing.

Page 5: "The greatest calamity is the loss of the center and the abandonment of the soul to the caprices of the periphery. To be man is to be at the center; it is to be the center."

But of course, one cannot be the center unless one is connected to the Center, either through love, or wisdom, or prayer, or contemplation, or works. Love is movement, wisdom is movement, movement toward the immobile center. It is (¶) pulled into the attractor of O, which is accompanied by (n) boiling over from O. Yes, "One must be in love with pure Being, which is beyond action and beyond thought."

P. 12: "When God is removed from the universe, it becomes a desert of rocks or ice; it is deprived of life and warmth.... if reality were made of rocks, there would be no place in it for flowers or any beauty or sweetness whatsoever. Similarly for the soul: remove faith -- including that element of faith that forms part of gnosis -- and the soul becomes impoverished, chilled, rigid, and embittered, or it falls into a hedonism unworthy of the human state; moreover, the one does not preclude the other, for blind passions always overlay a heart of ice, in short, a heart that is 'dead.'"

So stay thirsty my friends. (And HT Will for the Dos Equis reference.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

¿ Hurtling Toward History's Denoument ?

One result of rummaging around the arkive is that I have no compulsion to write anything new. Rather, the opposite: I'm attempting to unwrite much of what I've written. I'm hoping that by deleting the clunkers and repeats, I can get it down from over 1,300 posts to more like 1,000. That seems like a more manageable figure. Even though it's not.

It hasn't been difficult to delete a lot of the early posts from 2005. This is because they aren't really in my true voice, which didn't fully come on line until early 2006. Plus, I don't have to worry about deleting comments, since there weren't many.

In a comment yesterday, I speculated that the new Gallup numbers (Rasmussen too) suggest that Obama has entered the "cracking stage" of his presidency. If so, we are in for an exceedingly bumpy ride, as his magical aura crumbles and people's primitive anxiety starts to become unhinged (or "uncontained," to use the technical term).

Thus far, Obama has only aggravated all of the problems that got him elected. As that reality begins to sink in, the effect will be analogous to suddenly weening someone from a powerful anti-anxiety medication. Psychiatric drugs can have subtle effects. Only when someone discontinues a drug do they realize all it was doing. And Obama was a particularly potent intoxicant. The withdrawal effects will be significant.

Anyway, here is a post from last January that goes into the dynamics of the four part presidential cycle of strong --> cracking --> collapse --> sacrifice. Is deMause correct about this cycle? I don't know. But I don't really want to be here when it happens.

It also reminds me of Terence McKenna's crackpot theory of the cosmic timewave, which is scheduled to end in December 2012. He said that in the years immediately leading up to then, history would be compressed into a kind of singularity. It would be as if all of human history would be collapsed to point, and replayed in a matter of months.

Looked at in this way, what we are seeing in Iran is an archetypal replay of a story that has been enacted numberless times in the past, only in an exquisitely pure form. The evil of the mullahs is about as pure as it gets -- if "purity" is the right word. Likewise, the cluelessness of Obama -- cleansed of any particles of truth or light by his postmodern indoctrination -- is as pure as Neville Chamberlain's or Jimmy Carter's. Not a good combination.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Progressive Personality Disorder

Still wading through the early days of the blog, and not finding much that sets my thigh a-tinglin'. However, as a general rule, the posts that I regard as mere trifles generate the most traffic. It seems that people come for the insultainment but never stay for the laughty revelations.

The following post is a case in point. According to my site meter, hardly a day goes by that someone doesn't find their way to it. It also occasioned our very first persistent troll, L.A. Larry, and a record number of comments at the time, the majority of which were deleted. Back then, I was naive enough to think that the best way to deal with a troll was to engage them, which only results in repetition compulsion, AKA the Eternal Return of the troll's weird fixations and willful disunderstanding. Yes, the cause of trolls is paying attention to them, as you will learn today.

I just clicked through from one of Larry's comments to his now abandoned blog, and his last posts from 2006 indicate that he was obsessing over telephone surveillance of terrorists and the omnipotence of Karl Rove. Something tells me he's not currently obsessing over telephone surveillance of terrorists and the omnipotence of David Axelrod.

*****

The following is based on a perceptive post by someone named John Moore, which I found through a link to a link on Dr. Sanity's grand rounds of the psychosphere.

It looks as if it were hastily composed in a manic burst of inspiration, but it's so accurate that it deserves wider dissemination. I've taken the liberty of cleaning it up, editing it, adding a number of criteria, and putting it in the actual format of the DSM (the diagnostic manual for mental health practitioners).

I've also taken the additional liberty of altering the name of the condition, from his "Cognitive Disorder of Progressives" to "Progressive Personality Disorder." This is because Moore's nomenclature implies that this is an Axis I condition. These disorders generally involve a short-term change in functioning, such as a time-limited anxiety or depressive disorder. In short, Axis I conditions usually involve temporary states, whereas Axis II conditions involve quasi-permanent traits.

Axis II is primarily reserved for the Personality Disorders, which are much more difficult to treat, as they involve enduring patterns of maladaptive thought, behavior or emotion that lead to either significant functional impairment or subjective distress -- for example, Paranoid, Narcissistic, or Borderline Personality Disorders. When a person suffers from a personality disorder, much of their condition involves acting out in the world rather than harboring internal "neurotic" conflict within oneself.

As often as not, the person with a personality disorder causes as much or more pain and difficulty for those around them than they do for themselves. Furthermore, it is fair to say that most people with a personality disorder don't ever recognize that they have one. When they come in for treatment, it is usually for some ancillary problem that is caused by the personality disorder, such as difficulty forming stable relationships, identity disturbance, poor self esteem, impulsivity (e.g., with regard to sex, drugs, spending, etc.), sexual identity confusion, meaninglessness, depression, etc.

Ultimately their problem doesn't revolve around the "content" of their mind so much as its very structure. Typically, an individual with a personality disorder has damaged psychological structure as a result of early childhood experience. And the damaged structure typically takes the form of inability to auto-regulate in one or more areas, such as emotion, self-esteem, impulse control, mood, or identity. Rather than treat their condition, such a person may demand that it be regarded as "normal," and that people adapt to them.

For example, in California, it is against the law to discriminate against men who want to pretend they are women, which means that the state forces us to accept the abnormal as normal, the perverse as healthy, and to propagate this lie to our children. But anyone who thinks it is appropriate to expose children to such perversity shouldn't be allowed around children, let alone run the educational establishment

But personality disorders virtually always involve inducting others into the patient's psychodrama as an intrinsic part of their condition. Therefore, politics is the ideal forum for anyone with a personality disorder. In the field of politics, such individuals are given sanction to act out various conflicts in an entirely insight-free way -- indeed, as an alternative to insight. Remember, their mission is to force others to regard their abnormality as normal, e.g., the intrinsic absurdity of "homosexual marriage."

Politics truly is a sort of show business for the unattractive -- the psychologically unattractive. And you can well understand why the Democrat party would attract such people, because unlike conservatism, it does not mainly consist of ideas but of promises made to various constituencies of dysfunctional losers, weirdos, cranks, misfits, and malcontents. It is the party of the Unhappy who imagine that the state can make them happy.

But obviously it never works. Rather, because that breast doesn't actually produce milk, it only provokes more greed and envy toward the breast. So it is no surprise that Obama is in the process of creating the largest breast that has ever existed. But if it actually succeeds in appeasing the hungry mouths of the left, I promise to stop blogging forever.

******

DSM-IV 301.95 PROGRESSIVE PERSONALITY DISORDER

A. A pervasive pattern of progressive political thought and action, rooted in discredited leftist (neo-Marxist) beliefs, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by at least five of the following (individual must be at least 18 years of age to qualify for the diagnosis of Progressive Personality Disorder, as many of the criteria are age-appropriate for adolescents):

1. Utopian thinking: A delusional belief that there exist simple, linear, side effect-free solutions to all social problems. (Note to clinician: please differentiate between mere historical ignorance, e.g., a doctorate in history from an elite university, vs. psychotic delusions of grandeur or adequacy.)

2. Anthroplastic ideation: The delusion that behavioral conditioning performed by the government or some other collective will cure all behavioral and social problems, rooted in denial of fixed human nature. Implicit in this delusion is the idea that human beings are infinitely malleable and subject to behavioral manipulation leading to perfect control and predictability. Free will, personal conscience, and objective morality are denied, devalued or denigrated.

3. Anti-theistic rebellion: An emotional antagonism to the Judeo-Christian tradition, rooted in an abnormal persistence of adolescent rebellion (may also be related to the need to avoid counter-arguments that would question utopian, anthroplastic ideation). This behavior ranges from a mere antagonism to Christianity to a hatred of all forms of religion. The rejection of religion leads to a deep longing for a messiah and master. (Generally the more Western a religion is, the more it is despised. Thus, these patients may openly accept more primitive pantheistic, neo-pagan, or animist belief systems, such as Wicca or fraudulent "new age" philosophies, e.g., Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, etc.)

4. Naturist delusion: The belief that mankind is evil and nature is benign. The incidence of this symptom is inversely related to practical knowledge and experience of nature. Collective self-hatred is a feature in this area, paradoxically existing side by side with egomaniacal omniscience, e.g., ability to accurately predict weather 100 years into the future. Typical thinking includes the paranoid belief that mankind is a cancer on earth and that the planet (subjectively felt as a "feeling being") will "retaliate." The naturist delusion includes considerable cognitive dissonance, since the typical Progressive Personality is a believer in natural selection, which has resulted in untold suffering and cruelty, mitigated only by mankind's presence.

5. Environmental spasm: Chaotic, unreasonable, or incoherent episodes of manic activity on behalf of the environment or "mother nature." The delusional nature of this activity is evidenced by the misanthropic attacks on all works of man, and also by the manic focus on visible or totemic biological objects of little actual worth. The patient is typically obsessed only with cute or cuddly creatures, often a displacement of the nurturing urge (which is not infrequently unfulfilled due to abortion). Such patients may show more concern for the President swatting an insect than waving aside the concerns of millions of human beings living under tyranny and crying out for help.

6. Control obsession: The tendency to strive for excessive control over others through state intrusion. A contemptuous projection of the unconscious oral envy into anonymous others (the mythic "little guy"), which is subjectively experienced as "compassion." Through the magic of this unconscious mechanism, the very people who want the state to appropriate your wealth can imagine themselves to be generous and "compassionate," irrespective of how they actually treat real human beings.

7. Racist/feminist hypocrisy: Passionate advocating of government-enforced discrimination based on sex or race, while aggressively proclaiming opposition to policies which are "racist" or "sexist." Obsession with conformity of thought within a racially diverse population. For example, such a person might favor seating a racist on the Supreme Court, so long as the person is of the "correct" race.

8. Overemotional perception: Excessive concern with how a social action "looks" or "feels," to the exclusion of actual effects in the real world, in particular, any effects beyond the immediate. Resistance to, and denial of, objective evidence proving the adverse consequences of progressive policy. Superficial cognition about most matters of significant import, as the progressive personality relies on the "feel" of issues rather than truly understanding them. Obsession with "fairness" or "social justice" as opposed to what actually works.

9. Sexual dysfunction: Significant anxiety about sexual matters, manifested as:

a. Obsession with sexual and gender roles.

b. Passionate celebration of nontraditional sex roles and preferences.

c. The compulsion to define individuals by their "sexual preference" and to design social policy as if all individuals share the obsession.

d. An inordinate interest in preserving inappropriate, lewd, perverse, or antisocial forms of sexual expression.

e. Fascination with immature or deviant expressions of sexuality; reduction of human sexuality to animal sexuality.

10. Replacement of patriotism with matriotism: Unwillingness to defend country when attacked or threatened. Allied with inability to name or recognize evil. General devaluation of the masculine virtues.

11. Cultural and moral relativism: The fervent belief that all cultures are beautiful except one's own, and that it is immoral to judge another's morality unless they are conservative.

12. The belief that an eagle egg or four-toed salamander is entitled to more legal protection than a human baby.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Live Reports From the Leading Edge of History

via Twitter.

This song was written in the wake of the Soviet clampdown on Czechoslovakia in 1968. Here comes the new old man, same as the old old man:




Shamelessly lifted from Ace of Spades:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spiritual Missions, Double Destinies, and the Articulation of the True Self

One reader mentioned that he was grateful for my delving into the arkive, as it will give him the opportunity to catch up. A lot of later material is based upon assumptions laid out in earlier posts, for example, this one, in which I discuss the nature of the Self. (I capitalize the nonlocal Self in order to distinguish it from the local ego.)

Again, nothing new here, but it does give me the opportunity to add some new material about the nature of synchronicity, destiny, and the "dual mission" of vons Balthasar and Speyr. In such a case, one person's destiny is entirely intertwined with the other's, even before either realizes it. And when they do recognize one another, it is like an electrical arc that completes the circuit. ZAP! (And one reason this is so interesting to me is that their story has eery parallels with that of Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Richard, another two-headed feast.)

****

Humans are in an odd situation. That is, we are born with what I believe is a true Self. And yet, this Self must be actualized in time. In short, the Self is both a priori and something that must be worked on and discovered. In other words, the task of our life's journey is to paradoxically become who we already are. More ominously, it is entirely possible -- in fact, more likely than not -- for us to spend our lives being or becoming something we aren't. How strange is that? And yet, it is so. A truism, really.

This brings up the interesting question of where our true Self is when we aren't identified with it. That is, it must be "somewhere." While we can get lost, it never is. No matter how much someone messes up their life, they can almost always make their way back to their Self. The Alcoholics Anonymous program is a case in point. They specialize in taking the most lost souls and often helping them reconnect with their true selves.

The reason I think that AA works for people is that its founders happened to stumble upon what I believe are universal psycho-spiritual principles, such as believing in a Power greater than oneself, surrendering one's life to that Power, being ruthlessly honest with oneself, working to maintain contact with the higher Power, carrying the spiritual message to others, etc. These principles are as objectively true as any law of physics.

Chaos theory has developed the idea of attractors that govern complex systems. According to this theory, systems that may look chaotic to us are actually "pulled" into certain patterns that seem to be located outside space and time, almost like Platonic forms. About 15 years ago I published a paper on how the mind itself may be thought of as a multidimensional topology with various attractors pulling us this way and that.

For example, think of a person with bipolar disorder, which involves very wide mood swings between mania and depression. For these individuals, it is as if the space of the mind has two large valleys drawing them back and forth. Likewise, a neurotic symptom, like an obsession or compulsion, exists in a type of phase space known as a "limit cycle" that repeats itself endlessly without getting anywhere. Ideologies can be like this as well. They give a spurious sense of freedom, when in reality the person is as hemmed in as a pig in a sty. And thanks to political correctness, all the fences are electrified. Soon enough the tenured or MSM pig learns not to go near them.

The idea of the Self existing in a complex phase space is well described by the psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas. At birth, he says, we are "equipped with a unique idiom of psychic organization that constitutes the core of our self" (Raccoons call it our "divine clueprint"). However, various exigencies in development mean that only parts of that core will be potentiated, which leaves "a substantial part of our self known (profoundly us) and yet unthought."

Bollas does not specifically address the question of where these parts of the self might be before they have been experienced, but one can imagine a complex psychic landscape with various unexplored areas corresponding to these unlived selves, or the what he calls the realm of the "unthought known." (Bion referred to them as the "unborns," which implies that abortion is not only a physical threat.)

In hindsight, it can often look like sheer happenstance that resulted in the birth of one's Self, and one question I often ask myself is to what extent the Self is able to unconsciously bring about the conditions it requires in order to be born. In other words, events that look like pure luck may have been "inside jobs." (As the rabbis say, God spends most of his time arranging meetings and marriages.)

I think that a particularly strong Self can be like the tiny seed that finds a way to break through the concrete sidewalk above. Nothing can stop it from achieving its destiny. Other seeds don't even try. In fact, one of the most baleful effects of leftism is that it preaches that the seed doesn't really exist and that it can't grow anyway without government fertilizer, which is made of only the purest bullshit.

Bollas also discusses how these "basins of attraction" operate, although he doesn't use that phrase. He states, for example, that early childhood trauma may "nucleate into an increasingly sophisticated internal complex" where later "resonant trauma" are pulled in. I have personally treated many cases of psychological trauma, in which the present trauma -- say, being held up at gun point -- seems to "pull" the individual into the attractor of their earlier trauma, conflating the two.

In fact, it is fair to say that dealing with these kinds of attractors is the stock-in-trade of the psychotherapist. A man's wife gets pulled into the psychic attractor of his controlling mother, so he is no longer sexually attracted to her. A narcissist has no stable "basin" of self esteem, so he compulsively looks for it in mirroring from others outside himself. Another uses crystal meth to lift himself out of a "dead" attractor, like a ship stuck in the doldrums and looking for a little chemical wind. Another tries vainly to fill his bottomless attractor of Nameless Dread with the figure of George Bush.

But there are also positive attractor states where creativity and meaning coalesce, and which we struggle to apprehend. Bollas: "One would feel this as a kind of familiar force of psychic gravity attracting ideas, questions, and play work..." In fact, I felt these kinds of attractors very strongly in writing my book, and have come to believe that one of the reasons why religion "works" is that it lures us toward higher attractor states by "submitting" or "surrendering" to their benign influence. Frankly, my book went into a lot of areas that I didn't necessarily know that much about when I started it. But by focussing very intently, in an open-ended way, on certain problems (sometimes for years), the answers would eventually come to me.

I don't know how far you want to extend the metaphor, but there is no question that the intensity of some of these attractors was not limited to my own mind. This is what C.G. Jung called "synchronicity," and I openly acknowledge its functioning in my life. I won't get into exactly why or how I think synchronicity works, but I have no doubt that "meaningful coincidences" do occur, and that they have something to do with nonlocal attractors where two separate events -- or even people -- are actually conjoined in a higher dimension.

The physicist David Bohm illustrated how this might work with a thought experiment. Imagine a standard rectangular fish tank containing a fish. There are two video cameras viewing the tank through sides that are at right angles to one another. The resulting images are are projected onto two separate TV screens in another room. It will become immediately clear that there is some correlation between the two fish, for as one moves, so does the other. The scientific impulse is to look for some kind of causal connection between the two of them. But as Bohm points out, the images on the two screens are actually two-dimensional projections of a three-dimensional reality. While they appear separate, they are in fact unified -- two versions of the same event -- at a higher dimension.

Now just imagine two four-dimensional lives unified on a fifth.

Example.

Last night I was reading some of the background of how Balthasar and von Speyr eventually came together and realized their dual mission. They met in 1940, when she was 38 and he was 35. And yet, it was as if they had been "connected" prior to that, pursuing the individual paths each required in order to complement one another for the sake of the Mission. Although this may challenge common sense, I am way beyond having any difficulty whatsoever accepting this cooncept.

In the book Our Task -- which is based on a symposium on von Speyr requested by Pope John Paul II -- Balthasar writes that there are not only individual spiritual missions -- which is obvious -- but also "double missions" which "complement each other like 'the two halves of the moon.'" "The individuals concerned are first led along a complicated path, which was necessary to get them finally into the right kind of teamwork."

Balthasar cites a number of previous prominent examples in Catholicism, e.g., St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa. But what is particularly interesting to me is that some of the language he uses sounds as if it could have been written by Sri Aurobindo or Mirra Richard. It is that similar. Just as Mirra "recognized" Sri Aurobindo as her missing half the moment she laid eyes on him, so too did von Speyr instantly recognize Balthasar. Here is how HvB describes it: "When she saw me for the first time in 1940, she knew that I was the one for whom she had been waiting and for whose sake she had received the wound" (referring to a stigmata in the area of her heart).

In the case of Mirra, she had had repeated visions of a being whom she came to call "Krishna," even though she knew little of Indian philosophies at the time. "[H]enceforth I was aware that it was with him (whom I knew I should meet on earth some day) that the divine work was to be done... As soon as I saw Sri Aurobindo I recognized in him the well-known being whom I used to call Krishna."

And apparently there can be missions involving the coming together of more than two for the sake of a mission. One thinks immediately of the twelve apostles. Mirra was once asked about this during one of her weekly talks in 1929. I've certainly experienced stranger things: "We are of one family and have worked through the ages for the victory of the Divine and its manifestation on earth." I suppose this is why I am much closer to, say, Meister Eckhart, than to my own brothers, and feel very much as if we share the same mission. For the mission is the "transcendent third" that two people love and which unifies them below. In that realm, 700 years is but a fleeting moment.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Explaining the Cognitive Barbarism of the Proglodyte Left

Nothing special here, just a synthesis of two related posts from the early days. They're based on Stephen Hicks' indispensable Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, which has remained on my list of foundational raccoomendations in the sidebar ever since. He does such a wonderful job of cutting through the abject BS of postmodern philosophy, that it should be required reading for any child about to place his soul in mortal danger by entering the looniversity bin. (As Dennis Prager has said, there are two main reasons why people are so stupid: television and college.)

The book takes on added importance in light of the fact that Obama is our first postmodern president. You or I might think that he is an uneducated, ahistorical buffoon, but in reality he is simply accurately regurgitating what he learned in college. This is why he is so preposterously confident in his ignorance, because all of liberal academia has his back.

Near as I can tell, the transition from sober liberal education to intoxicating illiberal postmodernism reached a tippling point by about 1980 (probably before that at elite universities), and Obama obtained his BA from Columbia in 1983. Prior to 1980 it was still possible to escape the university relatively unscathed, but since then the nonsense of postmodernism has totally permeated academia. I can't think of anything that exceeds the cost-to-worthlessness ratio of a university education, being that it's not just worthless, i.e., neutral, but exceedingly harmful. Therefore, to be fair, universities should pay us to attend them.

So when Obama apologizes for America, or embraces cultural and moral relativism, or regurgitates discredited socialist economic theories, or expresses animus for Israel, or adopts the homosexual agenda, or passively accepts Iranian tyranny, or finds a spiritual home for his soul's envy and hatred in liberation theology, it's all of a piece.

My only critique of Hicks is that he seems to believe that there is a non-theological solution to the problem, which I do not believe. Rather, as I discuss below, postmodernism in all its varieties is simply the "final common pathway" of the rejection of the Absolute. Once you reject the Absolute, there is nothing to stop your philosophy from descending all the way to the bottom. And then crashing through, into the nether regions where man cannot survive as man. Rather, he must become something else in order to live in that environment. Ultimately he must become the image and likeness of this diabolic inversion, whatever you wish to call it. A Keith Olbermann or Bill Maher are perfect adaptations to the "minus pneumaspace" in which they live.

By the way, this review is not comprehensive, and should not replace actually reading the book. If I could add my blurb to the back of the book, I would say that it's a bracing philosophical disinfuckedup for the parasite-ridden assoul. Kills resistant postmodern mutations on contact!

*****

Surely you have wondered why the academic left is not just foolish, but completely out of touch with reality? In a mere 201 pages, author Stephen Hicks efficiently accomplishes exactly what is promised in the title of his book, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault. Not only is there hardly a wasted sentence in the book, but Hicks writes in an exceptionally clear way about some rather difficult and abstruse thinkers and concepts. This itself is a crime against The Tenured, so I'm surprised he's allowed to teach at all. They don't allow many plain speaking hicks in academia.

I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but the purpose of Hicks’ book is clearly to answer the questions: What has happened to our universities? Why do the humanities departments of our elite universities teach such unalloyed leftist nonsense? In short, why is the left so bereft? Hicks makes the critical point that, if we were just dealing with generic nonsense, then we might expect about half of it to result in left wing nonsense, the other half in right wing nonsense. But practices such as deconstruction result in almost 100% left wing nonsense, meaning that, whatever theoretical or methodological cover these academics are taking behind their high-flown rhetoric, it’s all just a smokescreen for the promulgation of leftist ideas.

And that is exactly what Hicks concludes. He chronicles the utter failure of socialist ideas in the past three centuries, beginning with pre-Marxist leftists such as the odious paleofrog Rousseau. But the key figure in the descent into modern irrationalism and illiberal leftism was the figure of Immanuel Kant, for it was Kant who divided the world into phenomena (what is accessible to our senses and categories of thought) and noumena (the ultimate reality behind them). By closing off the noumenal reality to reason, Kant thought he had spared religion from the onslaught of scientific skepticism, when he had actually opened the door to all the baleful forms of irrationalism that followed. For in the Kantian system, all we can really know is our own nervous system -- reason and science merely toy with the phenomena, leaving the deeper reality unknown and unknowable. The next time some cliche-ridden boob says to you, “perception is reality,” know that they are a metaphysically retarded son or daughter of Kant.

As an aside, one can trace the history of philosophy in a pretty straight line from the ancient Greeks to Kant. But Kant represents the end of that line and its subsequent ramification into the many streams, creeks, crocks, drainage ditches and sewer lines that reach us today. Virtually every philosophy since Kant has been either a rational extension of his ideas (Schopenhaur, structuralism, phenomenology), an irrational exploration of his ideas (e.g., reality is absurd, we are impotent to know anything, feeling and instinct trump reason, the irrational yields more valid insights into reality, etc.), or attempts to undo his ideas (e.g., Hegel, who reunited noumena and phenomena in his notion of the Absolute Subject, and Hegel's upside-down disciple, Marx).

Postmodernism involves a smorgasbag of these various reactions to Kant. Ever wonder why leftists are so irrational and unreasonable? According to Hicks, postmodernism is “the first ruthlessly consistent statement of the consequences of rejecting reason.” This is why leftists routinely resort to ad hominem attacks, extreme hostility to dissent, speech codes, and authoritarian political correctness.

Ultimately, according to Hicks, postmodernism is “the academic left’s epistemological strategy for responding to the crisis caused by the failures of socialism in both theory and practice.” Ironically, they have an a priori and unfalsifiable belief in the moral superiority of socialism over capitalism. But since capitalism has repeatedly disproved every one of socialism’s predictions, postmodernism provides the “skeptical epistemology to justify the personal leap of faith necessary to continue believing in socialism.”

Ironically, Kant was trying to save traditional religion from being eroded by scientific skepticism, but his ideas are now used by the secular left to shield the false religion of socialism from rational scrutiny. The choice for leftists is simple: either follow the evidence and reject their utopian ideals, or hold to their beautiful ideals and undermine the notion that logic and evidence matter. Obviously they have chosen the latter course, which is why a casual stroll through the halls of academia, the idiotorial pages of the New York Times, or the darker corners of the internet reveals that language is no longer being used as a vehicle to understand reality, but a rhetorical club with which to beat opponents. In this context, “Bush bashing” can be seen as a completely impersonal and inevitable phenomenon, for if your only tool is a rhetorical hammer, you will treat everything as an ideological nail.

And this also explains the common observation that the left is devoid of constructive ideas, for without logic and evidence, leftism has been reduced to a knee-jerk critique of Western civilization. It is essentially irrational and nihilistic, because language for them is not about reality, but simply about more language. Therefore, language cannot build anything but illusions.

Moreover, this explains why the left is so incoherent and contradictory -- why, for example, all truth is relative but leftism is absolute, why all values are subjective but "homophobia" and American exceptionalism are evil, why tolerance is the highest ideal but political correctness is higher still, why discrimination is bad but the Wise Latina is good, etc. Leftism is simply an absolutism masquerading as a relativism, which is why they can never be honest about their true principles, at least within the mainstream. An honest leftist such as Dennis Kucinich could never be elected to national office. If Obama had been honest about what he intended to do as president, he would have lost in a landslide.

The only problem with Hicks’ book is that he stops short of explaining how to overcome what I call the intrinsic logopathologies of the left. This is because he appears to be an objectivist or secular libertarian, and seems vaguely hostile to religion (and one cannot blame him for this if he has only been exposed to irrational religion). In reality, there is no defense against these destructive ideas within the bounds of common reason -- as soon as you descend into mere reason, you have already given the game away, for there is almost nothing the human mind can prove that it cannot equally disprove, or at least cast doubt upon.

***

In our last post, we were discussing the unfortunate philosophical consequences that followed in the wake of Kant's division of the world into phenomena (the small world we pretend to know) and noumena (the larger world we can never know). For Kant, there was no way to escape our nervous system and "get at" the world, so to speak. As a result, to paraphrase Alfred North Whitehead, we end up with conjecture on one side, a dream on the other. Or you could say that we are bequeathed an unavoidably irrational world mirrored by a parallel looniverse known as the academic left.

But in truth, any such "bifurcationist" strategy that tries to horizontally divide one part of the world over and against another part will end in paradox and absurdity. For example, Whitehead noted that Cartesian dualism had resulted in "a complete muddle in scientific thought, in philosophic cosmology, and in epistemology." Not for nothing has modern philosophy been called "error on a grandiose scale," or "a route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing."

As the Jesuit philosopher of science Stanley Jaki explains it, philosophers are forever trying to get to second base before they have touched first. Baseballically speaking, they start their analysis at second, but have no philosophy that can justify or explain how they have gotten there. For the presupposition of any philosophy is the belief that man can know truth, that he can encode this truth and place it in an object (for example, a book), and that this object can in turn cause a miraculous thing called understanding in the consciousness of another. Therefore, the first duty of a philosopher is to endorse the idea that knowledge may be embodied in objects and cause understanding in subjects.

One may well ask, "What in the philosophy of deconstruction justifies such a process?" For speaking and writing the nonsense of deconstruction presupposes a reality that, whatever else it may be, is capable of encoding information and transmitting objective understanding from one mind to another. How is this possible? No purely materialistic philosophy can explain why objects are intelligible, any more than idealist philosophies can explain how ideas are embodied in objects.

Rather than beginning with the division of the world into phenomena and noumena or mind and matter, traditional metaphysics begins with the division between time and eternity (eternity understood not as time everlasting but timelessness). It affirms a hierarchical order of the cosmos, in which the corporeal domain is considered only the lowest tier, outer shell, or "epidermis." The cosmos is regarded as a theophany infused with a logos from which it can never be separated, so that the visible and tangible things that unfold in time are a reflection of the atemporal realm "above."

Similarly, human beings are not considered ancillary to a hostile or indifferent cosmos, but central to its structure and purpose. Man is a microcosmos that contains the same blueprint as the macrocosmos. It is because we are a microcosm that we are able to so unproblematically know -- we are able to know the cosmos because it preexists in us. True, human knowing is a miracle, but outside the explanatory paradigm of traditional metaphysics, it is an impossible miracle that no postmodern philosophy can explain. The bottom line is that the soul is not in the cosmos; rather, the cosmos is in the soul.

In the traditional view, the horizontal division of mind and matter (or phenomena/noumena) that results in paradox and absurdity is eliminated. However, there are vertical divisions that reveal a hierarchy of ontological degrees of reality, and corresponding ways to know them. There is not a tiny phenomenal world that we can know, surrounded by a limitless noumenal world that we can never know.

Rather, we begin with the lowest level of being, material reality, which corresponds to our empirical, rational, scientific methods of exploring and describing it. True, there are degrees of understanding, but the process is much more analogous to comprehending a great work of art, say, one of Beethoven's symphonies. While the symphony will yield much deeper insights to the trained ear, that doesn't mean that the symphony available to our senses is simply the audible aspect of a noumenal symphony that we can never hear.

What Kant called the noumena -- the greater unKnown reality -- is not behind but above. It is accessible to humans, but only through the proper means. Because the human intellect derives its light from the divine intellect, truth is bonded and underwritten by our nonlocal Sponsor. While it is true that all knowledge is in some sense participatory, that doesn't mean that knowledge is merely subjective -- again, ours is an objective, hierarchical world susceptible to degrees of knowing. Knower and known are not divided but unified in the act of participatory knowing, so that the known universe is the universe.

By ridding ourselves of dualism and returning to the real world, the cosmos is no longer reduced to an incomprehensible and absurd material flatland devoid of intrinsic meaning. Truth may be known because man was made to know it. In fact, if someone tells you otherwise, you might ask them exactly what in their philosophy permits them to doubt our assertion? For their philosophy presupposes what it cannot justify: knowledge of truth and reality.

And if you really want to irritate them, you can tell them that, In the Chronological, Ontological, and Epistemological Beginning was (and is) the Word. That is, antecedent to anything else that might be said about the cosmos, it must fundamentally be composed of things capable of referring to other things, of things that point beyond themselves and convey messages and meanings.

Even on a strictly mathematical basis, the fact is, quality must precede quantity, because ordering anything means that there must be a system whereby something can stand for, or refer to, something else. What are the beautiful equations that govern the Big Bang but beautiful words dwelling in matter, words spoken 13 billion years ago that we can unpack from matter and clearly hear and understand today?

Postmodernism offers only a factitious liberation from traditional ways of knowing the world. There is no way to get around the principle that the world is intelligible and that the mind is capable of knowing it (and why would you want to?!). Once this is understood, it becomes clear that human consciousness is intrinsically related to the totality of being in a way that belies any postmodern superstition. There is a source of truth antecedent to man that is perceived not by the senses, but by the intellect.

Hey, getting an elite university education is so easy, even a four year-old can do it! Just learn how to piss all over on Western civilization in the sandbox of academia:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Loose Cannonical Teachings of the B'ob

Update from the knowa's arkive: I'm not seeing much from the early days that hits the sweet spot.

My recollection is that I didn't really hit my stride until early '06. I think it took that long for me to get out of the way of the process. Frankly, "I" reached my outer limit fairly early on -- within a couple of months. I mean, you try it: try telling everything you know on a daily basis, with new and interesting material every day. You must instruct and entertain. How long could you go before getting sick of yourself?

Remember, I had no desire to simply comment on the news of the day. Rather, to paraphrase Terence McKenna, I wanted to create a little beachhead in hyperspace on the way to colonizing it.

You can undoubtedly go a lot longer than you think, so long as you enlist neglected parts of the psyche. For example, you won't get far without the cooperation of the Dreamer. Look at how he works -- or doesn't work, is more like it. Every night he effortlessly cranks out those elaborate dreams without repeating himself and without even breaking a sweat. And he certainly never worries during the day about whether or not he will be able to come up with the goods again that night. You know what that SOB is like? He's like that lucky old sun:

Up in the mornin',
Out on the job,
I work like the devil for my pay.
But lucky old sun, got nothin' to do,
But roll around heaven all day.


For most of my life I thought I was a night person. Only with the blogging did I "discover" that I was actually a morning person. Later I heard the adage that "dawn is the friend of the muses." And the reason it is so friendly to the muses is that it is in that borderland world between day and night, or between naught and deity. It is where you can trancelight some of the nighttime logic into a day tome.

I remember my analyst saying something along these lines. It might have been my first day in psychoanalytic therapy, which requires you to lay on the couch and say whatever comes to mind without censoring yourself. He blurted out something to the effect of, "do you know what you're doing?"

"Er, I don't know. Blaming my mother for all my problems?"

"No, you're trying to disable the left brain so we can interrogate the right and take its deposition, so to speak."

In other words, the purpose of free association is to simulate that borderland situation so that you can escape the narrow constraints of the left-brain ego, and see what's actually out there in the big wide world of the unconscious mind.

But when you're talking about religion, here's the problem: on the one hand, you're trying to disclose universal and timeless truths. But at least in my case, I am attempting to do so in a way that is entirely spontaneous, novel, and unrepeatable. You could say that this is one of the themes -- or even conflicts -- that runs through the bobservatory.

Specifically, I only feel religiously "alive" when I'm making it up on the spot. Therefore, I have concerns that to become an official member of a single group would present me with a dilemma. You can't be a member of a symphony orchestra, and while playing a written piece, suddenly jump out of your chair and begin improvising. Canons and loose cannons don't mix.

Oh well. Here's an early post in which I started to gain some distance between myself and mysoph. Of course, it wouldn't have been possible in the absence of an audience willing to humor me. This is why the book was a little more difficult to write, because I had no idea if any audience actually existed for what I was trying to convey. If I had known you lunatics were out there, I would have made the book much more unsane.

*****

Many people have asked me, “Bob, how do you see God?” This always surprises me, because the answer is so obvious: first unrealize what you think you know, then transform faith into vision by turning the world upside-down and inside-out and converting time into space. It works every time.

I’ll admit it, when Petey first told me this, I didn’t really know what the hell he was talking about, and even bet him that he was wrong. But the more I thought about it, the more it started to make sense. Actually, you might say it made perfect nonsense.

The thing is, it’s not just a matter of knowing where to look, but howto look. You could go to the top of Mount Sinai, or into the most secret vestibule of the Vatican, or to the mouth of the Ganges, or into Deepak's offshore bank account, but if you don’t know how to look, you’re just going to see a mountain, a building, a river, and big pile of moolah. On the other hand, if you know how to ascend the mountain, enter a dark cloud of unknowing, crucify your lower mind, and drink from the sacred river, you might just get nowhere.

You must begin by transforming your vision and developing a spiritual way of “seeing.” As a matter of fact, this is something we routinely do. For example, when you look at the letters on a page, you actually make them invisible by looking through and beyond them to the words they spell. Likewise, the words are equally invisible, because you look through them to the meaning they are pointing at. You could undertake a chemical analysis of the ink with which the words are printed, but that would take you no closer to their meaning. Rather, it would take you far in the opposite direction, completely destroying their meaning.

Analogously, if God is transcendent, there is no way to see him by simply looking in a conventional way at material or empirical reality. That’s going to take you far away in the wrong direction, that is, unless you somehow look through and beyond the world in a manner analogous to the way we see through words and letters to their higher meaning. This is why religious fundamentalists are neither religious nor fundamentalist. Rather, they are materialists, in that they act as if the literal words and events of the Bible are more real than that to which they point or instantiate.

I imagine if were a trained meteorologist, I would no longer see a cloud as an unamibiguous white patch against a blue backdrop. Rather, I’d begin to see the cloud available to my senses as a mere “ripple” against the background of a much more encompassing meteorological process that is largely invisible to the senses.

Similarly, before the days of MRI’s and high speed CT scans, an experienced cardiologist could place a stethoscope against your chest, and simply by listening to the sounds, visualize the nature of the problem.

In my own field, especially with a particularly neurotic individual whose unconscious is “leaking” everywhere, I will immediately see mannerisms, demeanor and behaviors as the visible portion of a much deeper, invisible process. In all of these instances, the expert sees or hears the same things as the lay person, but the expert somehow uses what is on the surface to achieve a sort of depth of vision. It is the opposite of deconstruction, which takes fixed meaning and subjects it to a ruthlessly skeptical interrogation. Rather, it works in the other direction, allowing the particulars of our experience to spontaneously reveal their higher meaning.

It has long been observed that there are two basic temperaments: the Aristotelian and the Platonic. The former inspects the particulars for what is common to them and, through induction, generalizes to universals. The Platonist sees the universal first, with particular individuals representing reflections, instantiations, or “copies” of the universal. For the Aristotelian, the commonalities are less real than the particulars, while for the Platonist, the universal--that which we “see” with the intellect--is more real. What the Platonist sees is not actually an object, but a manifestation of something that is unmanifest.

Since God is transcendent, there is no way we can see him in the way we see other things. And yet, just as there are material facts, there are religious facts. But facts never speak for themselves. There is a paradoxical adage, “never trust a fact without a good theory to support it.” Science, for example, ignores facts that do not fit into the materialistic paradigm. These facts might as well not exist, for without a theory to illuminate them and give them meaning, they are simply invisible.

Religions are supposed to provide structures in order to illuminate the spiritual facts of our experience. Like good scientific theories, they not only make sense of those facts, but also allow us to see new facts, in the same way that the paradigm of quantum physics allowed scientists to see an entirely new realm of phenomena that was invisible to them with the old Newtonian, mechanistic paradigm. The facts were there all along, but without a theory through which to look, no one saw them. Likewise, religious facts are all around and within us, but without a religious practice, they will go unnoticed. One might say that you should try to know God not because He exists, but so that He can exist.

Both science and religion require faith, that is, a willing suspension of disbelief in order to enter their respective worlds. This is very similar to the aesthetic experience. In order to enjoy a play or movie, we must temporarily forget that it is “just a movie,” and fully abandon ourselves to its world. Through a process of “unknowing,” we eliminate the barrier between us and the aesthetic or spiritual world, and convert that barrier into a transformational space, where the other world makes contact with our imagination. Or, you could say that we must become a mirror, without which the reflected object disappears.

With regard to imagination, it has a positive and a negative connotation. In its negative sense, it involves abandoning ourselves to the idle machinery of the monkey mind. It is a kind of bad detachment from reality in favor of an unconscious sub-reality. It is as much a closed circle as is mere cerebral intellectuality.

But imagination in its positive sense is absolutely vital for religious understanding. Again, imagination is the membrane that makes contact with the higher world. It is dangerous to try to merely understand religious truths, because it reduces them to the static and saturated known, and undermines their function of bypassing the ego and vaulting us out of our conventional way of knowing.

These religious truths cannot be comprehended through dogma or through irreligious skepticism, but only through an imaginative engagement with their world. For example, if you are a Christian, you should read the gospels as deeply as possible with your imagination. In so doing, you will discover that they mysteriously comprehend you much more than you could ever comprehend them.

In short, you must, through your imagination, raise yourself up to religion, not lower religion down to your conventional intellect. To do this you must close one “I” and open another. In Christianity this different “I” is called the nous, but in different traditions the same thing goes by different names. For example, in Vedanta it is called the buddhi, while in Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga it is called the psychic being. With the development of this latent capacity, the familiar world we know with our senses is turned upside-down, from matter to Spirit. Imagination turns it inside-out, as we begin to see the higher in the lower. Time becomes space, in that mere duration is now experienced as the moving image of eternity. Faith has become vision. And I owe Petey another six-pack.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why Are You (Still) Here?

For those of you who are out of the loop, I've decided to (try to) stop producing new material in favor of attempting to consolidate what I have. And what I have is 1,321 posts that have about as much order as a box of stationery that fell off the back of a truck on the freeway. I don't know where else to begin but the beginning by inspecting them one by one, in the hope that some sort of spontaneous order will emerge.

Naturally I got hung up examining my very first post from October of 2005 ("Why Are You Here?"), which consists of an interview with myself. I also didn't know what I was doing back then:

Q: We don't need another blog. Why are you inflicting your beastly opinions on us?

A: To those of you who are new to this site, join the club, as I am still in the process of trying to understand the author's intention. For surely there are already far too many books and blogs, with no way any human being could ever assimilate the information contained therein. Actually, the problem we face is how to relate all of this fragmented and sometimes contradictory knowledge into a coherent picture of our world -- to move from mere knowledge, to understanding, to truth and to wisdom.

1,320 posts later, there's no longer any need to try to understand the author's intention. It's too late for that, and he doesn't know anyway. Now the question is, What was that all about, then?

Where have I heard that before?... Oh yes. It's the first sentence of my book.

Anyway, back to the first post:

I am a clinical psychologist with a background in psychoanalysis, and, like Shrinkwrapped, Dr. Sanity, and other non-leftist Uncle Fromms, attempt to "put the world on the couch," so to speak. If you can detach yourself somewhat and try to "hover" above it, the news of the day may be regarded as the free associations of a very troubled patient called Homo sapiens. This patient, now about 40,000 years old (before that we were genetically Homo sapiens but not particularly human), has many sub-personalities of varying levels of emotional maturity, and one of his problems is that these different aspects of his personality are constantly at war with one another, which tends to drag down the more mature parts.

You could almost go so far as to say that this collective patient suffers from the kind of severe splitting and "acting out" characteristic of Multiple Personality Disorder. One of my axioms is that geographical space reflects developmental time, so that different nations and cultures embody different levels of psychological maturity. In this regard, the Islamic world bottoms out the scale at the moment.

More broadly, what I hope to facilitate is an appreciation of the "vertical" dimension of human history, culture and politics. For example, historians typically view history in a horizontal manner, leading from past, to present, to future. Likewise, we divide our political mindscape in a horizontal fashion, from left to right. However, as in a great novel or film, the "horizontal" plot is merely a device to express the artist's greater intention (the theme), which can only be found in a vertical realm, by standing "above" the plot.

Every patient who comes into therapy is the star of a motion picture that isn't going quite right. They will spend the first few sessions telling you the plot, but soon enough the analyst intuits the vertical theme where the true but unKnown 'author' of the plot lies (and lies... and lies). This is called the unconscious. However, this is just one realm of the vertical. Spirituality is also located on the vertical plane, both very low (as in jihad or human sacrifice) and high (such as genuine mysticism).

Q: Why "One Cosmos?"

A: The title of the blog is taken from my book of experimental nonfiction, One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit. You might say that the book tries to follow the vertical thread that runs through the entire cosmos, ultimately uniting us with our source. That thread necessarily runs through physics, biology, psychology, religion, history, anthropology, art, and much more, and yet, it is somehow all One.

Perhaps the central theme of both book and blog is that the frontiers of knowledge and understanding lie not in the further extension of various fields and subspecialties, but in the borderland between them. Around 40,000 years ago, our patient, Homo sapiens, began splintering into its diverse parts, but underneath all of the bewildering diversity is a vertical unity that this blog will attempt to illuminate in various ways. For the key to growth is understanding ourselves, both individually and collectively. Without it, we remain a child forever.

Q: It seems like you find a way to flog your book in every post.

That's not a question. However, you have a point. Mainly it's because I purchased 100 copies of my book from my publisher, and I would like to get rid of them. After that I'll tone it down.

Having said that, it would be a shame if the book disappeared into obscurity without first reaching its intended audience. There is a certain type of person out there -- somewhat difficult to describe, but you know who you are -- for whom my book will be just the thing.

Q: Who are you, anyway?

A: This is the description I wanted to put on the book, but the publisher wouldn't allow it:

"Clinical psychologist Robert Godwin is an extreme seeker and off-road spiritual aspirant who has spent no less than one lifetime in search of the damn key to the world enigma. A high school graduate at just seventeen and a-half, Dr. Godwin attended business school until the vagaries of academic probation and expulsion led him to pursue other missed opportunities. Capitalizing on a natural ability to simultaneously enjoy movies and lower his expectations, Godwin eventually earned a film degree in just four terms (Ford/Carter and parts of Nixon/Reagan). Initially denied admission to graduate school because of "inadequate" academic preparation, Holy Happenstance intervened in the nick of time, and Dr. Godwin went on to obtain two advanced degrees in psychology without allowing it to interfere with his education or with ongoing spiritual research conducted in his suburban liberatoreum. Lengthy periods there of higher bewilderment and intense non-doing resulted in important advances in egobliteration and karmannihilation. At the same time, Dr. Godwin spent many years searching and researching for his book, only to conclude that it did not exist, and that if he wanted to read it, he would have to write it. Having now read it a number of times, he is happy to share that burden with a wider audience of fertile eggheads interested in peering behind the annoying veil that separates them from ultimate reality."

Q: Who's Petey?

A: Petey is my discarnate collaborator, or "household gnome," as he calls himself. He is somewhat obnoxious and unreliable, but he often provides me with ideas to write about. He'll generally just throw something out -- a cryptic or often craptic word or phrase -- and leave to me to belaborate the point.

Q: Why the spiritual mumbo-jumbo?

I don't think it's healthy to orient your life around politics 24/7, as does the secular left, for whom politics is their substitute religion. Politics must aim at something that isn't politics, otherwise, what's the point? Politics just becomes a cognitive system to articulate your existential unhappiness. Again, this is what leftists do -- everything for them is politicized.

One of the general purposes of this blog will be to try to look at politics in a new way -- to place the day-to-day struggle of politics in a much wider historical, evolutionary, and even cosmic context. History is trying to get somewhere, and it is our job to help it get there. However, that "somewhere" does not lie within the horizontal field of politics, but beyond it. Thus, politics must not only be grounded in something that isn't politics, but aim at something that isn't politics either.

This is not an abstract, impractical or esoteric notion. Wait. Yes it is. Nevertheless, the ultimate purpose of politics should be to preserve the radical spiritual revolution of the American founders, so that humans may evolve inwardly and upwardly -- not toward a manifest destiny but an unmanifest deustiny.

For example, when we say that politics must be grounded in something that isn't politics, we are simply reflecting the philosophy at the heart of the American rEvolution, that the sacred rights of mankind, as expressed by Alexander Hamilton, are written in human nature "by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased by mortal power." In short, human beings possess a "spiritual blueprint" that is antecedent to politics, and which it is the task of politics to protect, preserve and nurture.

But not for its own sake. The founders, who were steeped in Judeo-Christian metaphysics, did not believe in mere license, which comes down to meaningless freedom on the horizontal plane. Rather, they believed that horizontal history had a beginning and was guided by a purpose, and that only through the unfolding of human liberty could that "vertical" purpose be achieved. Our founders were progressive to the core, but unlike our contemporary reactionary and anti-evolutionary leftists, they measured progress in relation to permanent standards that lay outside time -- metaphorically speaking, an eschatological "Kingdom of God," or "city on a hill," drawing us toward it. Without this nonlocal telos, the cosmos can really have no frontiers, only edges. Perhaps this is why the left confuses truth with "edginess."

Liberty -- understood in its spiritual sense -- was the key idea of the founders. This cannot be overemphasized. According to Michael Novak, liberty was understood as the "axis of the universe," and history as "the drama of human liberty." America was quite consciously conceived as an opportunity to "re-launch" mankind after such an initial 100,000 years or so of disappointment, underachievement, economic stagnation, poor hygiene, and lousy food.

Human liberty is a horizontal prolongation of the Creator's own infinite freedom, and allows him to act through us. This does not diminish the Creator but exalts him, for a moment's reflection reveals that an intimation of our spiritual freedom absolutely belies any mere material explanation found within the horizontal confines of history. For ours is an inwardly mobile cosmos, and as the philosopher of science Stanley Jaki writes, our free will brings us "face to face with that realm of metaphysical reality which hangs in midair unless suspended [vertically] from that Ultimate Reality, best called God, the Creator."

Tip O’Neill is evidently responsible for the cliché that “All politics is local.” The greater truth is that all politics is nonlocal, meaning that outward political organization rests on a more fundamental, “inner” ground that interacts with a hierarchy of perennial and timeless values. Arguments about the surface structure of mundane political organization really have to do with whose nonlocal values will prevail, and the local system that will be established in order to achieve those nonlocal values.

Q: Who is Gagdad Bob?

"Gagdad Bob" is the name I use[d] over at LGF [before being disappeared for crimes against Queeg]. I became fan of LGF very early on, well before it lurched into anti-intellectual scientism and irreligious barbarism, and initially posted under the name "Bob G" in the primeval days before Queeg even required registration. At first Bob G. tried offering intelligent comments, sometimes even expressing anger at the latest MSM-Lefist-Islamic outrage, but after awhile he began trying to lighten things by offering humorous little one-liners, many of which are actually thought up by Petey on the spot. Thus, if they fall flat, I am not to blame.

Gagdad Bob tries to challenge himself to see humor in the most dire or disgusting news of the day. He has adopted the philosophy that we should spend less time being frightened of Islamists and more time mocking and ridiculing them -- "joking them out of their holes," so to speak.

Some samples from 2005:

"When I heard that Muslims were burning cars in France, I was initially sympathetic, since burning a car is sometimes the only way to make sure it won't be driven by a female. Plus, I think something good could eventually come of all this, if we could just find a way to cross-pollenate the French and Muslims, and create a hybrid race of Muslims that surrender.

How about Ward Churchill? The fact that this America-hating academic fraud was drawing a six-figure salary at taxpayer's expense brought to mind the words of another Churchill: "Never have so many owed so much to a faux Sioux." By the way, Churchill never said he was an indian -- what he said was that he had "a patchy work experience." Either way, I knew the left would turn him into their latest cause s'lob.

The Europeans seem almost helpless to stop the spread of nuclear weapons into the Muslim world. On the positive side, they did agree that nuclear suitcase bombs must be small enough to fit into the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you.

Did you hear about the uproar over the Pakistani woman refusing to wear a two-piece bathing suit in the Miss World contest? Well, they agreed on a compromise. She's actually going to wear a two-piece after all: a burka with a snorkel.

That was some election in Iran, a show of real democracy. Iranian elections? That's what you call a farce only a mullah could love. Speaking of farces, they even had elections in Saudi Arabia. In fact, the winners were serenaded with a chorus of Wahhabi Days are Here Again. And did you hear the new president of Iran was one of the American hostage takers? That's no surprise. Obviously they wanted to elect a man who was there at the time of their founding fatwas.

And the Iranians are still pushing ahead with their Manhattan Project. Of course, they say they're only developing nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes. Personally I'd feel better about it if Muslims had figured out peaceful applications for rocks and belts. For them, it's a wardrobe malfunction when some boob doesn't explode out of his vest.

And the ACLU is always protecting Muslims, trying to ensure that they are never, ever offended or inconvenienced in any way, even if doing so would stop terror attacks on our soil. I can see their point. It's racist to discriminate against Muslims just because their skin is thinner than ours.

And the Palestinians are still causing problems, as usual. Did you know that none of the maps in the Palestinian territories show Israel? That's what they mean when they refer to the Arab "roadmap to peace." Did you know that part of their strategy involves having so many children that they can eventually overwhelm Israel with their population? However, demographers are worried that if the Palestinian baby boom continues, there won't be any babies left to boom. They say the martyrs are just like every other kid, obsessed with sex. But their parents tell them "Be patient. There'll be plenty of time for girls when you're all blown up."

Hey, at least you don't hear about the Palestinians flushing Bibles down the toilet. That will have to wait until they develop indoor plumbing.

The latest is that Abbas wants to enlist the terror groups for security operations. That makes sense, since the Palestinian police can't be expected to prevent law and order all on their own. And making them police does solve the terrorist problem. Next week Abbas plan to conquer disease by renaming hospitals "health clubs."

And why do they hate us so much? True, if it weren't for US interference, the Arab world wouldn't be is stuck in the fourteenth century. Instead, they'd be mired in the twelfth. And they're always boasting about how great Islamic culture is -- you know, that they had mathematical geniuses who discovered zero over a thousand years ago. That's fine, but the problem is, they've been discovering it ever since.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Darwinians and Other Cosmic Egomaniacs

Back in the days before blogging, I came to recognize an undeniable rhythmicity or cyclicity in my creative life. In a very real way, it was analogous to agriculture. Mainly, there were times of expression (harvesting) and times of reception (planting.) But this broke down into further categories of tilling the ground, identifying good seed, watering, pulling the weeds, eradicating parasites, pouring on certain chemicals, and a lot of patience. Trying to force one of these cosmic rhythms is like trying to push a string.

I've been mainly harvesting now for going on four years. I have no idea how that happened, since it has pretty much rendered paragraph one inoperative, unless the cycles are now just longer than they used to be. Perhaps bigger plants require longer cycles. Or maybe its just a condensed cycle. The first book required my whole life up to that point. The next one will only require the time from then to now.

So with all the harvesting, now I've got this huge silo full of grain. What do I do with it? Just keep piling more on top? I guess the point I'm making is that I really enjoy digging through the arkive. I'm starting to look forward to the weekends, since I get to go down into the basement and roam around. It's a totally different vibe -- like enjoying a museum vs. building one.

Or, it's like someone who accumulates a lot of wealth. At what point do they stop making more, and just enjoy what they have? So if I do decide to take a vacation, I imagine I'll spread the wealth around and repost things... We'll just have to see if this reflective mood persists. If it does, I don't want to try to override it. The meta-Cosmos knows best.

*****

How do we know with absolute certainty that metaphysical Darwinism cannot account for Man? Because we may know with absolute certainty.

And we may know with absolute certainty because the realm of the empirical ego -- which can more or less be explained on Darwinian grounds -- shades off to the transcendent interiority of the higher Self, of which it turns out that the ego is a sort of "emanation" or satellite.

[I would now correct this to say that Darwinism can't really account for the ego, which, after all, is an aspect of the miracle of subjectivity; it can, however, provide a "likely story" of how it came about, especially for very simple people whose minds are hardly separate from their bodies. Being that there are billions of such people, that's not nothing.]

Now, the gap between the empirical ego and the higher Self is another one of those ontological discontinuities that is infinite if viewed "from the bottom up." But if regarded "from the top down," then we see that the ego is a necessary feature of the cosmo-psychic economy. Just like maya herself, it "must be" if there is to be existence at all. In fact, you might say that the ego is a subjective mirror of maya, or of the relative plane, just as the Self is the mirror of the Absolute. Yes, man in his highest aspect is ultimately in the image and likeness of the Creator. But there are parts of us that are merely in the image and likeness of culture, or biology, or college, or television, or whatever.

In order to comprehend this more holistic cosmo-psychic economy, we must abandon the mental fiction of logical atomism that forms the ego's point of view. In other words, if you are a materialist, it is because you are operating out of the material ego, so there is no surprise there: you are simply placing the existential cart before the egoic horse. It's analogous to someone putting on red sunglasses and insisting that everything looks red. Of course it looks red. Of course our troll is an atheist. That is not a mystery but a banality, a logical necessity, just as someone with an insufficiently developed ego lives in a magical or malevolent world as a result of being largely ruled by unconscious or supraconscious forces he does not comprehend.

Now, our pardigmatic science, physics, proposes a model of reality which is literally impossible to picture in one's mind. Nor will we ever be able to picture it, for it is a not a human reality in the strict sense of the term. Not to get sidetracked, but I do need to emphasize that one of the reasons I am religious is because religion preserves the most intense forms of humanism, which is to say, of human knowledge about the human station and its privileges and responsibilities, its origin and destiny. You can know nothing of this reality if you restrict yourself to the material -- let alone sub-material -- domain.

To cite just one obvious example, the other day, one of the mutual readers of LGF and One Cosmos was commenting on the increasing lurch into anti-intellectualism of the former, noting that his rabbi -- an eminent scholar -- had spent his entire life studying the Torah, and yet, had not even scratched its surface. For those of us in a position to know, this qualifies as a truism. But for those not so positioned, it's hard to know what they think about this, if they think about it at all.

It takes no learning -- let alone, wisdom -- for a jokebooted mob of metaphysical yahoos to, as the reader put it, "pontificate with grand self-assuredness that they know fully what is meant in all the intricacies and layers of Torah and the rest of us believers are a bunch of deluded dummies. There's nothing to be said to such people." Indeed, like gleeful, deicidal three year-olds, they can tear down in the space of five minutes what it took 2500 years of spiritual genius to build. This is the power of No!, which parents of two or three year-olds know all about.

This No! is not without its developmental importance, as it is the first attempt to erect psychological boundaries between the me and not-me, and to gain control over what one will allow into one's head. But the pathological narcissist is often fixated at this developmental stage, the result being that they omnipotently destroy (or deconstruct) with the No!, but don't have any real Yes to replace it with (one thinks of Bill "Just Say Yes to Hookers and Porn Stars" Maher). The narcissist can tear down but cannot build, as we see with the left.

For example, the ACLU mercilessly attacks the Boy Scouts, but it would never occur to them to simply start their own group of God-hating boy scouts. Likewise, it's easy enough for homosexual activists to try to undermine marriage, but why not invent a new sort of institution to deal with homosexual relationships, which share nothing in common with the sacred bond between male and female?

One may well ask how these people arrive at their belligerent certainty on matters that far transcend their childlike, earthbound intellects? It comes from the transcendent absolute, only dissipated and "frozen" within the confines of the quasi-animal ego. Living truth becomes dead when co-opted by the ego in this manner.

When someone asks if you "believe in Darwinism," let's be honest. They aren't asking if you believe in whatever the theory of natural selection has been demonstrated to prove -- like a simple bacterium or dailykos diarist that learns a new trick (yes, I know, that was redundant). Rather, they are asking if you believe that it provides an all-encompassing explanation for human existence, and ultimately whether or not you are a theist. And to the extent that God exists, then Darwinism quite obviously cannot possibly embody any kind of "total explanation." It would be absurd to think so.

Again, even on logical grounds this is strictly against the law, and Sheriff Gödel does not take kindly to existential scofflaws. Some people try to get around Gödel by artifically restricting the implications of his theorems, but they are not to be taken seriously. For no matter how much we learn about the human genome, our understanding will be either consistent or complete, but not both.

Along these lines, Rebecca Goldstein -- author of the excellent Incompleteness -- notes that "Gödel was a mathematical realist, a Platonist. He believed that what makes mathematics true is that it's descriptive -- not of empirical reality, of course, but of an abstract reality. Mathematical intuition is something analogous to a kind of sense perception. In his essay 'What Is Cantor's Continuum Hypothesis?', Gödel wrote that we're not seeing things that just happen to be true, we're seeing things that must be true. The world of abstract entities is a necessary world -- that's why we can deduce our descriptions of it through pure reason."

Again: things are not true because they are logical, but logical because they are true; our ability to use logic and math to describe the world is a result of something higher and eternal (more on which below).

Another passage from this interview is worth citing at length: Gödel's ambition was "to produce a mathematical result that would have meta-mathematical implications, or at least suggestions, about the nature of mathematics itself. It's as if a painter produces a picture that has something to say about the nature of beauty, perhaps even something to say about why beauty moves us. Mathematics forcefully raises meta-questions, since it is a priori, immune from empirical revision, necessary. How can we have knowledge of this sort? What's it about? The truths we learn about the spatio-temporal realm are all ultimately empirical; and they're contingent. They're not immune to empirical revision.... Mathematicians are cheap; they are thus cost-effective for universities -- which is another way of saying that mathematics is a priori.

"But this aprioricity and necessity present problems. What can necessary, a priori truths be about? Maybe they're about nothing at all, other than the formal systems we construct, mere consequences of manipulating symbols according to rules, as in chess. Platonism rejects this answer. It claims that mathematics is descriptive of abstract entities, of numbers and sets, that exist separately from our attempt to understand them through our mathematical systems. Platonism has always had a great appeal for mathematicians, because it grounds their sense that they're discovering rather than inventing truths."

Now, there is a way "beyond" the limitations of Gödel, but it obviously cannot reside in any form of empiricism, rationalism, materialism, reductionism, or, least of all, metaphysical Darwinism. In other words, we cannot escape Gödel "from below." But we can most certainly escape him "from above." Indeed, the very existence of certain mathematical truths proves that this is possible: again, the certainty of math cannot be derived from itself but from the certainty of the Platonic realm of which it is a "descent," so to speak. This is something which the neo-Platonists -- one thinks in particular of the immortal Plotinus -- emphasized.

Again, to repeat our thesis: How do we know with absolute certainty that reductionistic Darwinism cannot account for man? Because we may know with absolute certainty.

Now, one might say that the whole basis of the spiritual life involves "ascending" to the level of those Platonic truths that "cannot not be," and then "embodying" them in the herebelow. This is again what religion is "all about." Some people understand this -- in fact, the vast majority of people -- whereas others -- we call them materialists, reductionists, Darwinians, The Tenured, Lizards, etc. -- are, for whatever tangled developmental or genetic reason, incapable of seeing it. For them, blindness is just another variety of vision.

Goldstein makes an excellent point above, with the analogy of the painter who attempts "to produce a picture that has something to say about the nature of beauty," or "perhaps even something to say about why beauty moves us." This, don't you know, is what I endeavor to do with words. And I know that I sometimes succeed at this, because every once in awhile we get a reader such as Godinpotty who cannot see the painting and therefore forcefully proves my case.

There is only one thing that is truly proportioned to man's intellect, and that is the transcendent Absolute of which we are mirrors, links, and even deputies. Any philosophy short of this will inevitably produce a human body with no head, or a head with no heart. And folks, if you don't see a lot of headless and heartless people walking around our society, you might want to start by looking to see if your own head is properly attached and up in the clouds where it belongs.

The only freedom that is proportioned to our nature is that which opens the gates towards the eternal Freedom we bear in the depths of our being, and not to that which betrays man's weakness -- especially collective man's -- to the powers of dissolution and spiritual suicide. --F. Schuon

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Spiritual Fascism and the Darwinian Resistance to Transcendence

I'm thinking of taking a little blogging vacation. One of the purposes would be to actually spend some time in the arkive, trying to organize things. There are now over 1300 lengthy posts down there, and if I don't do something soon, it will be like one huge pile of leaves with no possibility of ever getting to the bottom or relating them to the central tree from which they all fell.

In other words, the leaves may look rather diverse -- politics, mysticism, metaphysics, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, theology, troll-bashing, etc., but they definitely (will) form (someday) a (I hope) unity because they are derived from unity. There is an absolute self-consistency there, the reason being that it all flows from the Absolute -- from the top down, not the bottom up. But I'd like to make the consistency explicit instead of implicit.

For example, in combing through the June '08 arkive, I noticed that there is a whole series of posts on the metaphysical impossibility of Darwinism. The essays take a rather different tack than the "intelligent design" people, and I think my point of view is pretty much unanswerable by any intellectually honest Darwinian. It's the sort of thing I'd like to organize into one coherent stream of thought, instead of just a pile of leaves buried under more leaves.

Anyway, here's one of them, with some new random mutations and copying errors....

As Charles Darwin wrote, "While nature, making procreation free, yet submitting survival to a hard trial, chooses from an excess number of individuals the best as worthy of living, thus preserving them alone and in them conserving the species, man limits procreation, but is hysterically concerned that once a being is born it should be preserved at any price."

Nah, just pulling your leg. That was Adolf Hitler explaining his values, values which he derived from immanent nature, not the transcendent Absolute. Hitler was guilty of many things, but not an absence of intellectual consistency in comprehending and carrying out the implications of his first principles. It's just that his first principles were insane and impossible, but no less impossible than metaphysical Darwinism.

Am I invoking Godwin's law this early in the morning? No, not at all. As someone once said, fascism in all its forms is the violent resistance to transcendence. Therefore, Charles Queeg at LGF, or the goons at dailykos, or any other flatland guardians, are not Nazis, since they mostly engage in non-violent resistance to transcendence, as do the ACLU, or People for the American Way, or any other anti-religious wacktivist or plain old ignoramus. It always involves state coercion, but the violence is implicit and "lawful."

I don't know that we have a word for this "non-violent fascism," but we ought to. You could call them "infrahuman," but this is inevitably taken as an insult rather than an objective descriptor. When I use that term, I apply it to anyone who denies the ontological reality of the human station, and insists that man is nothing more than an animal. Of course such a person is infrahuman (even though no real animal has to insist that he is one).

Nor should we let religion off the hook, for when it goes off the rails and descends into madness -- which it often does, since it is always practiced by human beings -- it seems that it is often a result of a violent resistance to immanence. When this happens -- when people insist on the absolute truth of a transcendent ideal to the total exclusion of immanent reality -- it can often result in violence. In fact, this is what we see in the Islamists: a violent rejection of the modern world in favor of their transcendent ideal of a new Caliphate. All of the violence flows from that initial error.

And matters aren't helped by the Islamist's totally upside-down metaphysic, which crudely regards the afterlife in grossly sensual terms (the 72 doe-eyed virgins and all the rest). In other words, they impose their idea of transcendence on earth but then fantasize about a kind of immanent sensual perfection in heaven. Madness.

Thus, there is a deep reason for the leftist-Islamist alliance, and it follows from a similar metaphysical error. On the one hand, the left-fascist "takes heaven by storm." However, he does this not in order to enter it by the proper means, via contemplation, meditation, prayer, intellection, etc., but to destroy it by imposing his one substance/one level ontology "from below."

On the other hand, the religious fascist takes earth by storm, not in order to understand it (a la the scientific method) but to impose his own single-level ontology "from above." But the results are the same: the imposition of their idea of "heaven on earth," which can only result in hell on earth.

Obviously, the freedom-loving Raccoon has no desire to live in either form of spiritual tyranny, i.e., the twin terrors of absolute immanence or absolute transcendence. We firmly reject reductionistic Darwinism to the extent that it interferes with the absolute prerogative of our interior evolution, AKA, the Adventure of Consciousness, or What It Is All About. The Raccoon knows that the only cure for the senses is the soul, and that the only cure for the soul is the senses, within the vertical trinitarian space that recoonciles them in its ceaseless flow of novelty.

Now, Christianity in particular disclose a metaphysic that carefully balances transcendence and immanence, at least if properly understood on the esoteric plane.....

Excuse me for just a moment. We interrupt this post for a dream that had me last night. I was at Tower Records -- which no longer exists, and was even "crumbling" in the dream -- and there was none other than Gerard Vanderleun behind the counter. He directed my attention to the book section, letting me know that all of the books were on sale for only $3.00 each. I went through all of the titles; I remember that one of them was a coffee table book about Orson Welles, containing great photographic examples of the composition of his camera shots. In the distance, I saw an unhealthy looking Tony Snow, also working in the store; he was cheerful despite his sad situation.

I ended up purchasing two books, one of which was a new, three-volume edition of the Bible, put out by Alice Coltrane's Vedantic Center. Alice was the widow of John Coltrane and a unique jazz musician in her own right (are there any other jazz harpists?) who later became known as Swami Turiyasangitananda, and actually formed an ashram not too far from my home. When I hear Alice Coltrane "jam" on the harp, I am not the only person who coonjures aural images of hipster angels in Jazz Heaven.

We'll get back up to the dream later, if we ever do. Anyway, when we say that "the word became flesh," what we are affirming -- among other things -- is that the ultimate transcendent principle is present in the immanent/material realm (which is actually a realm of pure dynamic or energic activity).

In fact, this Ultimate Principle is the "stasis" or "motionless mover" amidst the otherwise "total activity" that would be incomprehensible in the absence of the Principle which both "penetrates" and "contains" it. It is why the world is intelligible to man's intelligence: because the vertical center is here at the horizontal periphery. That the Word became flesh assures that man is -- or can participate in, anyway -- the center here below. Call it the "Kingdom of Heaven" which is spread all over the earth, and yet, men do not see it (even when they implicitly assume it).

Thus, when the Darwinist protests that "you don't have to be religious to be moral," he is mouthing a pure absurdity, for he is presupposing eternal principles that cannot be explained on any Darwinian basis -- again, because Darwinism only accounts for change of outward form, not the permanence of what not only transcends form but in-forms it to begin with, i.e., the consciousness of virtue that results from transcendent interiority.

Our materialist trolls would have us believe that merely "having morals" is somehow synonymous with knowing the Good and acting in conformity with it. All people have morals. The question is, are they Good? It is a strict impossibility that one could ever arrive at the Good through natural selection alone. Frankly, it is an absurd argument that no remotely sophisticated person could take seriously. Intellectually consistent Darwinists don't make that argument. Rather, they will concede that "morality" is an illusion based upon, for example, inclusive fitness.

This infrahuman view is absurd on its face. For one thing, any spiritually developed person knows that virtue is consciousness of a reality, not some simply defined behavior. Yes, we have moral codes, but the code -- even (or especially!) the Ten Commandments -- represents a "descent" from the Principle. This is why it is possible for the true saint to transcend them back to their divine Source -- back atop Mount Sinai, so to speak.

But there is a world of difference between transcending this plane from above vs. obliterating it from below. Our generation very much confuses license below with freedom and transcendence from above. Bonehead comedians who lauded George Carlin's "fearlessness" come to mind, but nihilism is not transcendence; the left habitually makes this category error, which is why they always idealize the adolescent rebel who transcends downward.

One way or another, man is condemned to transcendence. He cannot stay where he is, but must either ascend or descend. This was something recognized by Vedanta, with their description of the sattvic (vertically ascending), tamasic (inertial or descending) and rajasic (horizontally radiating or dispersing) gunas, or principles. Most Racoons are of the sattvo-rajasic temperament.

You might say that the saint is no longer "constrained" by the plane of morality because he now contains it. He has become Virtue Itself, and radiates it from every pore -- just as the sage radiates intelligence from every limb. Again, remember the man who wished to meet the great rabbi, not to learn Torah from him but to watch him tie his boot laces -- to see the divinized intellect in action.

When asked whom they would like as a guest at their "ultimate dinner party," many people naturally say "Jesus." But we already have a good idea what he would say. I would actually like to see him move. I would like to see how he carried himself, his gestures, his eyes, his posture, for you must know that they were enshrouded in the utmost nobility, dignity, majesty, authority, radiance, and benevolence and/or severity. He moved and spoke out of the Great Silence of the Transcendent Center.

Far beyond (and above) the words, those with eyes to see must have at least been dimly aware of the eternal stillness of the "unmoved mover" animating his every gesture from the inside out (which is another way of saying "from the top down" or from peaceful whole to dynamic part). Every movement must have revealed the Transcendence that lends Immanence its metaphysical transparency to the uncreated intellect. Obviously we see the same principle at play in a great work of art, but this would be that very principle "made flesh," not just canvas or stone

Now, back to my dream, a dream of transcendence that has shaped this post from the inside out. Vanderleun is a fine example of a man who grapples with own immanence -- as do we all -- but whose writing constantly reveals a preternatural gift of transcendence, perhaps even "in spite of himself," so to speak, an ability to span the distance between the immanent Penthouse and the transcendent repenthouse without denying either.

When I think of John Coltrane, I think of a man who was as "low" into immanence as it is possible to be, trapped in the ravages of a heroin addiction which he irreversibly transcended in 1957. Of this, he wrote that "During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music." Later, he wrote that his aesthetic-spiritual goal was to inspire people "to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life." I cannot say that I don't try to do the same with words.

In the dream I am "in the tower" where they "keep the records," but the tower is crumbling and "going out of business." In such a situation, precious things are almost being given away for free. No one recognizes their true value. Eternal wisdom can be had for a mere $3.00. Heck, Petey gives it way, since no one wants to buy it.

About that triple "Vedanta Bible" of Alice Coltrane's, one naturally thinks of the Trinity, the three gunas mentioned above, the "three-sided" god of Vedanta (Brahma-Shiva-Vishnu, each an exterior aspect of the one Ishvara).

I would say that if you want to live on the other side of the looking glass not so darkly, you must, in a sense, restore the immanence of Vedanta to the transcendence of the Semitic religions. But you certainly needn't do this by blending the two. It's already all there, just waiting to be realized, for the transcendent became the immanent so that the immanent might realize transcendence right here, in the midst of immanence. But be sure and realize this before the tower crumbles and goes out of business, for the long naught is coming, the cold and dark winter snow in which nothing grows and no man can transcend himself.

Rosebud!