Saturday, January 02, 2010

Obama and End-Stage Metastatic Liberalism

With his trademark smug stupidity, Barack Obama affirmed the following absolute truth in his The Audacity of Hope: "Implicit in [the Constitution's] structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth, the infallibility of any idea or ideology or theology or 'ism,' any tyrannical consistency that might lock future generations into a single, unalterable course...."

Where to even begin? In a single stroke of blind ignorance (or is it malevolence?) that only a tenured barbarian could believe, Obama transmogrifies the most important conservative political document in history into a monstrous recipe for perpetual revolution that would appall the men who risked their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in defense of principles that were and are absolute, timeless, and universal, precisely.

And if these principles are not conserved, mankind is finished -- or at least Man as such is. There will always be room for the little human beastlings who cash in their manhood for the soul-grinding security offered by the swaddling state, and hop around like Nietzsche's fleas at the end of history.

This is how it begins -- and ends. That is, the decadent myth of liberalism is ultimately rooted in a crude relativism that reduces truth to opinion, and therefore exalts cosmic stupidity above all. The bang of Marx ends in the whimp of Obama. Or at least Obama's bong gives off a whiff of Marx.

Once this is accomplished, there is no longer any ground for permanent truth, nor any way to arbitrate between competing truth claims. Therefore, raw power rushes in to fill the vacuum. It's as simple as that. The irony is that so many "sophisticated" liberals supported Obama for his "brains," when they were actually ratifying his muscle. The Chicago Way is not about thinking. It is about shoving and bullying -- the Ferragamo boot on the neck. It is the politics of the mid-brain, not the frontal lobes.

It is also necessarily about "action" rather than reflection, and action quickly reduces to "change," or just agitation. But since Obama has already assured us that there are no permanent truths, this is change that necessarily "goes nowhere," for where is there to go in a meaningless and truth-free world? Like purely Darwinian change, it's all horizontal, not vertical. One place is no different than any other. Legs, fins, wings, wheels, what's the difference? It's the journey that matters, the bracing sensation of a dog with its head out the car window.

But real liberalism -- i.e., conservatism -- situates the American journey in a much wider context of divine revelation, or universal history. For we recognize that there is actually only one story, and that it is (among other things) the story of liberty. But obviously not the liberty of the left, since they detach it from the truth, beauty, and virtue -- the permanent things -- without which it is just another name for confusion, disorientation, blundering along in the dark. Being lost is hardly the same as being free, although it can feel like it for awhile, at least until the provisions run out.

The contemporary liberal violently severs the ombiblical cord that connects us to the past and future generations who share our journey, and to whom we owe a measure of our allegiance.

For mankind is not just unified in space, but in time -- which is why hundreds of thousands of men and women who gave their life for America -- the real and permanent America that is the champion of universal truth in this benighted world -- weep for what Obama is doing to the country they loved. We know this because we are connected to them. The contemptuous liberal cannot know it, for in his world, the person who risks his life for this hopelessly flawed country is either a dupe or a moron or psychopath with violent tendencies and imperialistic designs.

The difference between a conservative and a liberal is that the former loves America, while the latter loves some abstract idea of what America should be in his Marxian fantasies. This is why they want to punish the men and women who kept us safe since 2001, while giving the benefit of every doubt to the terrorists who seek to destroy us. It is quite obvious where their sympathies lie.

To reject the sacred truths that uphold reality and course through the arteries of existence is not only a kind of desecration of the dead, it is also an auto-lobotomy, for it is to sever oneself from the collective wisdom and experience of mankind -- as if the tiny stock of blinkered opinions and provincial attitudes Obama absorbed while floating amongst the tenured can in any way compete with Madison, or Tocqueville, or Adam Smith.

Truly, it's like going through life with vital organs amputated, except that these are organs of intellect and spirit, or psyche and soul. These organs are designed to know truth, not to replace it with the intemperate follies and fashions the day.

Russell Kirk notes that decadence "amounts to the loss of an end, an object." Obama openly and explicitly severs America from its spiritual end, its telos, its reason for being. We will either continue to decay and deteriorate with bat-faced liberals leading the way down into darkness, or be reborn in the light of our original mandate and purpose, forged and fought for by men both wiser and braver than the hollow poseur who occupies the White House, and sanctioned by heaven.


Radiant Stupidity or Cosmic Narcissism?:

A slightly more soothing image of the backyard of the slackatoreum this fine morning (click to enlarge):

Friday, January 01, 2010

On Talking Pure Nonsense About Nothing

Too late for a new post, so this is a rerun. It was the first one I grabbed, but it kept my attention, so here it is.

Sometimes I think I should actually republish things from the arkive more often. First, they're generally new to me, since I write them in such a blur. Re-reading them in a different mode of consciousness allows me to critique and edit them, plus I have the added benefit of whatever growth has taken place since the post was written, so I can subtly correct "errors" that might cause people to question Petey's omniscience.

We begin with a couple of orthoparadoxical observations. If you're at all hangedover, you may not want to think about them too hard:

God is distinguished by his indistinction from any other distinct things... --Meister Eckhart

"Eckhart was obviously fascinated by the question of what we think we are doing when we attempt to speak about God. In one sense, his whole surviving corpus is an exploration of this issue. Why is speech necessary when silence is more fitting?" (McGinn).

You might say that Eckhart packs up where Thomas "the Strawman" Aquinas lifted off, in the abysmal silence at the beginning and end of all verbalization; which is why the MeistrO could say that "the Word which is in the silence of the fatherly Intellect is a Word without word, or rather a Word above every word." In the beginning -- or at the Origin, to be precise -- is the wordless Word, or pure spirit-breath hovering over the face of the deep.

Now, is this true? No, not really. It just removes some of the barriers to falsehood. It just cleans some of the grime from your mirror.

I was reading some Balthasar again yesterday, and he was essentially emphasizing a point also made by Schuon, to the effect that if you do not first appreciate the infinite chasm between you and God, you cannot possibly appreciate the unity; for the difference is a fact, while the similarities are merely analogical.

In other words, there is always an "as if" component to our divine likeness. To deny this is to engage in a monstrous breach of spiritual etiquette, to say the least. It's analogous to affirming that "all men are created equal," and then using this as a pretext to suggest that there is no difference between a good man and an Olbermann. In other words, it can drag God down just as easily as pull man up. ("Although in our Father's house are many mansions, they are not all on the same floor..." --Russell Kirk.)

Here again, the metaphysical implication of this is a kind of irreducible dualism that exists for a reason, as argued by Bolton in Self and Spirit: "Arguably the duality of soul and God could be an ultimate reality.... There are in fact profound reasons for the duality of God in relation to the soul, which are only ignored because of prevailing habits of thought."

I always chuckle when someone expresses the cliche that we only believe in dualism because of what some philosopher said 400 years ago. It's like arguing that we only believe in, say, the reality of time, because Hegel said it was a mode of the infinite. That's giving waaaay too much credit to the tenured.

But that's what intellectuals do: confer much more importance to themselves and their little stock of perishable ideas than is warranted. For example, as I have argued in the past, liberty had to first be "lived" before it could be discovered and developed as an abstract value. Here you see an important point, that incarnation precedes cogitation. Intellectuals tend to live in abstractions that are not only unworkable in practice, but create tyranny and oppression, e.g., socialized medicine.

Bolton agrees that "when we attribute the influence of Dualism to Descartes, we are implicitly attributing to him the power of imposing his peculiar way of thinking on a whole civilization for three centuries.... In reality, this kind of power is so rare that it is usually considered an attribute of the founders of religions, not of philosophers." In short, we are putting Descartes before d'horse.

In fact, Descartes simply identified "a certain element in the way in which human minds have always worked, and create[d] a system around it." After all, consciousness and matter are so profoundly different, that no one has to press the point. The trick is in trying to understand how they relate, without simply subsuming (or supra-suming) the one into the other.

This reminds me of something Richard Weaver wrote, to the effect that the denial of religion always conceals a denial of mind; thus, the ineradicable anti-intellectualism of the secular left. Here again, Bolton agrees that "the denial of Dualism means in practice a denial of consciousness itself, and the modern philosophers who argue for this are arguing for something which not only most people do not believe, but which they themselves do not believe except, perhaps, in the lecture room."

In reality, as it pertains to the manner in which we actually live, consciousness is quite literally everything, for "it is the container and basis of phenomena as such." No strictly naturalistic "theory of everything" (or TOE) will ever account for the person who understands it, why he wants to tell others about it, or how it is even possible to cause "understanding" in another subject -- whatever that is. The moment you understand the theory, you've breached the unity. And "understanding" is not simply a meaningless epiphenomenon, like some annoying fungus on your great TOE.

If we are going to ditch dualism, then we had better come up with a more adequate substitute, not merely a philosophy that unexplains everything dualism explained. After all, we only know that there are objects of consciousness because there are objects and there is consciousness. Therefore, any denial of dualism necessarily begins in dualism, or else there is no knower and no possibility of knowledge, as if the grin could be separate from the Cheshire Cat, or Obama's fluency from the TOTUS.

Still, there is a way out of this dualistic coonundrum. In my view, there are certain irreducible dualities in the cosmos. Furthermore, I have always suspected that they are all somehow related, or perhaps reflections of some primordial meta-duality. I am thinking of the One and the many, time and eternity, absolute and infinite, male and female, wave and particle, part and whole, form and substance, individual and group, subject and object, conscious and unconscious, boxers and briefs, and a few others.

Some might suggest that the brain is therefore a kind of "duality generator," but Bolton argues that the brain evolved long before we had anything to say about it, "under cosmic conditions which had the power to determine the form of the brain in accordance with their own nature." In short, the objective structure of the brain reveals something objectively true about the subjective nature of reality -- or about the inner nature of the ultimate Subject.

It all has to do with the meaning of within.

To be continued, if tomorrow can ever know....

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Fractured Fairy Tales of the Left

Just as the craziest people are those who don't realize they are, the most myth-bound people are those who imagine they're not living one. Scratch the surface of a typical leftist or secular fundamentalist, and you will find that their first principles take the form of an unexamined mythological narrative that is not so much childlike as childish.

Unlike genuine myth, these are not subject to growth, in part because these types of individuals are alienated from the mythic imagination to begin with (except in its romantic or diabolic forms). Therefore, their narrative remains "frozen," as it were, which is why they do not learn, and keep applying the same mistaken "solutions" over and over. The deep structure of their titanic narrative doesn't change, only the dreck chairs of policy.

Consider the Judeo-Christian myth, the arc of historical salvation of which our culture is an expression. This myth is so extraordinarily fruitful, that it has been nurturing souls and subject to commentary and elaboration for thousands of years; and yet, we're still no closer to exhausting it.

But what of the meager myth of Marxism, of the proletariat overturning the order of the world and remaking man? That myth was already decadent the moment it dropped into the world and filled Marx's adult diaper. And yet, new versions of it continue to haunt mankind, since this delusional myth has nothing to offer except seduction, hypnosis, and a warped and displaced hope. Truly, it is Christianity inverted.

Kirk writes that liberalism finds "its popular support in myth, but in myth distorted." What is this myth? And what are its elements? They can be difficult to recognize, for the liberal is forever lying about them. Because of the basic split in their psyche, they are literally incapable of intellectual honesty, which is why it is so frustrating trying to have a trans-rational conversation with them. You know the drill. And the teeth it goes into.

In this regard, it is no different than trying to have a rational conversation with a patient about their particular neurosis, or fixation, or trauma. As soon as you approach it, it is as if the alarms go off, and your plane is barraged by a hail of flack from the antiaircraft defenses. Either that, or the ground goes wobbly beneath you, and you enter a parallel universe of symmetrical logic, in which the person can slip like Houdini out of affirmations they made just a moment ago.

I wish had time to provide a more explicit clinical example of this process, for it's actually rather fascinating. Allan Schore discusses this in his books, and provides verbatim transcripts of what happens when the clinician approaches the "disorganizing core" of the personality. What makes things more challenging is that the person unconsciously attempts to entrain your brain into the jagged rhythm of their own, so that you begin to experience confusion and fragmentation as well.

It is very much the opposite of what occurs during "synchronous" moments of bonding and attachment between mother and infant:

"In terms of self-organization theory, the mutual entrainment of their right brains during moments of affect synchrony triggers and amplifies energy flow, which allows for a coherence of organization that sustains more complex states within both the infant's and mother's right brains. In fact, evidence indicates that the organization of the mother's brain is also being influenced by these relational transactions," to such an extent that there is actually "increased dendritic growth in the mother's brain" (Schore). So that pressure you feel in your head when you read these post is not just the shakti acting up, but a result of the neurons looking for elbow room in your cramped skull.

Now just imagine this synchronous and eunomic brain-to-brain transaction, and invert it. You will have noticed that the trolls always imagine I'm "arguing," when I'm only communicating -- or resonating -- in this direct brain-to-brain (or soul to soul) manner. But the things I communicate, instead of being synchronous with their own deep structure, provoke something that agitates and disturbs them. Let's call it, oh, I don't know, "truth."

Because of the vertical disconnect between the mythic imagination and transcendent sphere of permanent truth, the liberal is capable of creativity, but the creativity will be analogous to the bacteria that overflows from a petrie dish but goes nowhere.

You might say that it is Darwinism without evolution -- which is precisely what metaphysical Darwinism is, i.e., mere horizontal change with no telos, no purpose, no meaning. The Darwinian world is like the vast wasteland of television, in which there is a kind of protean variety that is simultaneously infinite and yet empty and meaningless, for it is merely the variety of bacterial and viral adaptations. There are so many ways to adapt to a world without light or air!

One of the core elements of the liberal myth is that humans are endowed with "rights." However, since they reject the transcendent realm that grounds and sanctions these rights, they ultimately -- and quickly -- reduce to raw power. A genuine right -- say, the right to free speech -- does not impinge upon anyone else's right. Furthermore, there is no right in the absence of a corresponding duty or obligation. But a liberal "right" is always another citizen's obligation.

I would like to ask the liberal: you say you have a "right" to free healthcare. Who or what conferred this right? And what are its corresponding duties?

But you soon realize that when the liberal says "right" he means "entitlement," and entitlements do not come with responsibilities. For example, my son is entitled to our love, guidance, and protection, but he doesn't owe us for it. His only duty is to be a child. It's truly a free launch, the only one you get in your life.

Unless you fall for the myth of liberalism. And even then, it's not really free. It just goes on the tab of the collective parent. The sad -- and truly unjust -- thing is that most of the debtors are just children now, but they'll spend the rest of their lives paying for the entitlements of the present dysfunctional adult babies of the left. This is the ultimate inversion: babies caring for the parents.

Real myths are free (and freeing). But the false ones are always paid for with someone else's blood and treasure. A reality denied comes to rule those who deny it. But do they have to take the rest of us with them?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Messianic Mystique and Mythic Mistakes

If mankind is unavoidably rooted in mythos, what is the myth of liberalism? For if we can decode their mythology, then perhaps we can understand the deep structure that binds them to their strange gods (re-ligio meaning literally to "bind").

I suppose I wouldn't so much mind their strange gods if it didn't cost me so much in the form of tribute every April 15. Also, it's not fair, since while we are not permitted (and rightfully so) to establish a state religion, they are permitted to establish a religion of the almighty state.

At least a religious person is aware of the fact that he has "faith." But another annoying characteristic of the left is that they also have a faith, except that it is detached from right reason and moral imagination, so that it is ultimately and literally grounded in "nothing."

Let's begin with the dictionary definition of myth, which is "a traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of a worldview of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon." It is a parable or allegory, meaning that it must be interpreted, not taken at face value.

In this regard, myth is to exegesis as empirical reality is to the scientific method. Both science and religion begin with a certain type of "material," but do not end there.

Again, as I mentioned the other day, science begins with the empirical world -- rocks, animals, planets, whatever -- but searches for deeper principles to unify the seemingly disconnected events that present themselves to our senses. For example, it requires a huge leap of imagination to realize that the falling apple shares an underlying principle with the circling planet, which we call gravity.

Religion also begins with empirical (or experience-close) reality, e.g., existence (both in its subjective and objective modes), scripture, beauty, virtue, the sacred, etc. Consider Eckhart, whom we've been discussing. He begins with scripture in its literal sense, just as the scientist begins with matter in its empirical sense. But as McGinn explains, "the literal sense of the biblical text is only the starting point for grasping the inner meaning of what God wants to convey to humans."

In this regard, I think you can see a rather transparent parallel between religious and scientistic fundamentalists who cannot see beneath the matter because of a misguided fidelity to biblical literalism, i.e., to the surface only. Materialists take the most stupid possible approach to scripture, and then call it "stupid."

But in reality, just as the material world has layer upon layer of deeper meaning, so too does scripture. Again, "For Eckhart, the profundity of the Bible, indeed, of every text in the Bible, means that it contains an inexhaustible fecundity of truths." But you cannot expect the uninitiated to be capable of articulating the inner richness of this truth, any more than you can expect him to understand quantum mechanics.

For Eckhart, the Bible reveals a densely interconnected spiritual world beneath its superficial diversity of source, mode, and style. But always, he focuses on the distinction between inner and outer, in that, in the final analysis, everything in the Bible is about the soul.

As such, more than the surface understanding, "it is the presence of the Word made flesh here and now that is his concern." Indeed, to engage in this activity is to mirror the Creator in the highest sense, in that "the very act of preaching, as creation of the word to be heard by others so that they too may find the source from whence the word is formed," is a reflection "of the God-world relation."

Now, back to the impoverished mythology of liberalism and scientism, which are deeply related and arise from the same meta-cosmic blunders (and which then become the foundation for an intrinsically disordered world, since it can no longer be a terrestrial reflection of the celestial archetype, i.e., the "shining city on a hill"; and disordered souls cannot be expected to be capable of a properly functioning political order -- I mean, if you can't even master your own domain, please don't presume to master mine).

First of all, we need to distinguish between the real mythos and the counterfeit variety, which we'll call mythical, since it connotes fantasy in the purely imaginary sense, e.g., the myth of JFK's "Camelot," or of Obama's "hope and change," or that FDR saved us from the Great Depression instead of making it worse. These are not true myths, since genuine myths are not manmade. While they come "through" man, they do not, and could not, originate in him.

As Russell Kirk explains, "Real myths are the product of the moral experience of a people, groping toward divine love and wisdom -- implanted in a people's consciousness, before the dawn of history, by a power and a means we have never been able to describe in terms of mundane knowledge."

For example, to appreciate the depth of Genesis is to understand that no primitive tribe of wandering barbarians could have possibly come up with a body of timelessly true divine wisdom that utterly transcends their own (quite limited) experiences. After all, the Jewish tribes that were vouchsafed this spiritual treasure were not more advanced than the civilizations around them, but less advanced. They only became more advanced through fidelity to the Covenant.

In contrast, the "false myth," or mythical, results only from "the fancies of individuals," whether of a Paul Krugman or an L. Ron Hubbard. Nevertheless, irrespective of its spiritual poverty, "no great ethical or political movement comes to master the minds of men without some sanction of myth." And "the ephemeral character of the liberal movement is in consequence of the fact that liberalism's mythical roots always were feeble, and now are nearly dead." Superficial appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, liberalism "is expiring under our very eyes for lack of higher imagination." (Of course, we may perish with it, but that's a different subject.)

Let's contrast the examples of Reagan and Obama. Both men rode into office on a wave of myth. However, one was genuine and rooted in the transcendent truth of collective American memory and experience, while the other was a pure counterfeit -- like a psychic poultrice that drew the immature and unarticulated spiritual energy of the left up into it. In this regard, real myths are regenerative (since they are close to the Source), whereas false ones are degenerative and rapidly exhausted. This is why, for example, Christian truth has flourished for over 2000 years, while the myth of Obama couldn't even sustain its spiritually drunken illusion for a year.

To be continued....

(The Kirk quotes are taken from The Essential, which is highly recommended, but more importantly, cheap; the Eckhart quotes are from McGinn's Harvest of Mysticism.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Huge Mythunderstanding of Postmodernism

Meister Eckhart is among the finest examples I know of someone who has the "virtues" of postmodernism with none of its soul-killing vices. However, being that postmodernism has no virtues -- it is luciferic through and through -- what I just said is nonsense. Therefore, I prefer to say "post-postmodern," which is the same term I would use to describe Michael Polanyi, although in a very different way (for he sees the way through to a post-critical science that easily transcends the naive scientism of the tenured).

Here's the problem: irrespective of how much you love tradition and the permanent things, profane time is a one-way street, so we're not going to go back to the medieval synthesis, any more than we're going to return to the Summer of Love, the Roaring Twenties, the Gilded Age, the Renaissance, or anywhen else. Rather, the best we can hope for is to make this slippery slidetrack into postmodernism a blessedly short one. It may require the last boomer to be strangled with the entrails of the last hippy, but it will eventually end.

But then what? A civilization that is not rooted in, and organized around, a robust and integral mythology is not long for the world -- which is one more reason why the "reality based community" is anything but. Yes, you can disenchant, disenthrall, and deconstruct the world, but at the cost of making it uninhabitable for the human soul. I dare any of you to see how long you can tolerate, say, Little Green Footballs or Huffingtonpost, before asphyxiating. Only the living dead can breath there among those fixated asses.

If you are not yet aware of "vertical respiration," then you have a ways to go before you can smell what is wrong with the world. In a very real sense, the hysterical obsession with global warming is a displaced crisis of the soul -- which is the very reason why it so transparently partakes of mythology and is impervious to the light of reason.

For man cannot live in the absence of myth, which is the soul-nurturing domain of cosmic meta-narratives that organize our lives, structure our values, and confer meaning upon our existence. And if you imagine that Darwinism, socialism, or scientism are devoid of myth (in the pernicious sense), then you are not even naive, for real naivete implies innocence. Nor are you necessarily "disingenuous" (although some of the ruling mythmakers are), for that implies conscious manipulation.

Rather, you are more like a sick child who suffers from what is called "pseudo-maturity." Such a child, for whatever reason, has been prematurely exiled from the real human world -- the world of imagination -- into the dry infrahuman desert of utility, pragmatism and adaptation to matter. But to adapt to matter is to adequate the soul to what is far beneath it, which is no adequation at all. Rather, it is the sine qua non of maladaptation, for it is the abolition of man; it is literally to "turn to stone" and call it bread.

It cannot be overemphasized that, as William Blake knew, Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow. Or, as Terence McKenna observed, "The imagination argues for a divine spark in human beings. It is absolutely confounding if you try to see imagination as a necessary quantity in biology. It is an emanation from above -- literally a descent of the world soul..."

This is why I argued in my book that the acquisition of humanness is just that: an acquisition, an accomplishment, the conquest of a kind of virtual space. In other words, the human world is not an "empty space" that somehow emerged out of random genetic mutations in some unlucky primate mom & population. Rather, what is so striking about the human world is that is filled with very specific content, a logoistic and mythopoetic content of great truth and beauty, and which has nothing whatsoever to do with the meaningless Darwinian journey from bacterium to Bach.

Koestler said that "the evolution of the human brain not only overshot the needs of prehistoric man, [but] is also the only example of evolution providing a species with an organ which it does not know how to use; a luxury organ, which will take its owner thousands of years to learn to put to proper use -- if he ever does."

Take the example of, oh, I don't know, the undiebomber. Is he putting his luxury organ to good use (to say nothing of his standard equipment)? If not, why not? Darwinism does not ask -- cannot ask -- whether something is good or bad; rather, it either is or isn't adapted to its environment. And the undiebomber is perfectly adapted to the psychic environment of Islamofascism -- just as the slaveholder was perfectly adapted to the economic system of his day.

The other day I caught a few minutes of a program my son was watching. Somehow, a little one-man rocket ship appeared out of the future. One of the boys got into it, and off it went. Of course, he had no idea how to operate it, any more than a caveman would know how to drive a car. He fumbled around frantically, trying to prevent it from crashing.

But that is the essence of the human situation. We come into the world as genetically stone age babies, and find ourselves absurdly situated in the most complex and powerful vehicle in the entire cosmos. And we have no idea how to operate it. What will this baby do out on the open road? That is the question adolescents face, which is why it is such a dangerous transition.

Now, the latest human model has been out of the showroom for 100,000 years, give or take. But throughout that time, it has been gaining speed at an exponential rate. Consider the fact that it took roughly 60,000 years to colonize the world of beauty, as memorialized in the timeless images of Lascaux or Alta Mira. It then took another 30,000 years to leave the neolithic behind, and to start forming cities and civilizations. Then 5,000 or 6,000 years for the axial age, when we downloaded all of the great nonlocal revelations. Then a few thousand more years for science, democracy, individualism, and free markets.

And it has taken until now to reach the post-postmodern world. Which is what, exactly? First of all, please note that every significant evolutionary advance also (and primarily) involves a divine descent. It may appear as if we're "progressing" forward, but I think it's more accurate to say that any genuine progress means that the divine plane is penetrating more deeply into matter, so to speak. You will have noticed that as you develop spiritually, this is very much what occurs: it is as if the (↓) pounds itself more deeply into your soul, like a concrete pillar into a swamp.

However, it must be recognized that man is woven of both freedom and necessity, so that adapting to the world of spirit is not really analogous to adapting to the cold and dead world of matter. It is not like gaining tenure. Rather, this adaptation takes place in the imagination, and the imagination is fluid, spontaneous, and ceaselessly creative.

Russell Kirk wrote that "All great systems, ethical or political, attain their ascendancy over the minds of men by virtue of their appeal to the imagination; and when they cease to touch the chords of wonder and mystery and hope, their power is lost, and men look elsewhere for some set of principles by which they may be guided." Like, oh, I don't know, gaia worship mythquerading as climate change.

This is why the infrahuman world of metaphysical Darwinism will never appeal to the human soul, and why only those with catastrophically withered, atrophied, and devolved imaginations could think that it explains the human psyche. The tragedy is not that it explains mankind, because it doesn't; rather, the tragedy is that it explains the soulless Darwinian. If this narrow and oppressive ideology should ever be successful in colonizing the soul of man, then man is finished.

To be continued....

Monday, December 28, 2009

Circling the Brain

Eckhart knew that his subtle wisdom would be mis- and disunderstood by the unimaginative trolls of his day, the under- and overeducated rabble without a clue. Thus, "we shall be told that one ought not to talk about or write such teachings to the untaught."

However, "if we are not to teach people who have not been taught, no one will ever be taught, and no one will ever be able to teach and write" -- the result being that we'll all be as dense and reactionary as the trolls, only permanently so. Imagine the nightmare of a progressivism without the possibility of progressing toward conservatism!

According to McGinn, there continues to be controversy in the scholarship as to whether Eckhart was primarily a "philosopher-theologian" or a "master of the spiritual life" -- in contemporary terms (since the word did not exist then), a mystic. But just as there can be no real conflict between religion, theology, and rightly understood science (as opposed to the anti-intellectual ideology of scientism), so too can there be no conflict between these and mysticism.

From my perspective, I simply see mysticism as the empirical or phenomenological confirmation of the truths of religion. One cannot have one in the absence of the other, any more than one can have bones without flesh, or body without soul. As the soul is the form of the body, so too might mysticism be thought of as the form of dogma (and dogma the substance of mysticism).

I think you can well understand the dangers of a breach between these complementary modalities. Yesterday a commenter said that he couldn't discern any difference between me and Matthew Fox, but the difference relates to just this area. In Fox's case, he has detached Eckhart from his orthodox soil and tried to transplant him into a graceless ideology of gaia-worshiping, crapto-Marxist, ovary-tower new-age environmentalist mush. But ideology in any form is the replacement for, and enemy of, Christianity. In Fox's hands, as with Deepak, Truth is reduced to twaddle, inside a hysteria, wrapped in an enema.

That faith and reason cannot be in conflict is standard issue scholasticism. But McGinn notes that Eckhart "went further, claiming that Moses, Aristotle and Christ 'teach the same thing, differing only in the way they teach.'" (By "Moses" and "Aristotle," he means revelation and philosophy in general.)

However, the "way" in which they teach is not insignificant, in that Eckhart "contrasts the 'pagan masters who knew only in a natural light' with 'the words of the sacred masters who knew in a much higher light.'" Natural intelligence alone can only go so far, and is unable "to enter or know the ground of the soul, which is attainable only by unknowing." (However, it should be emphasized that Eckhart did not believe that certain pagan masters such as Plato were devoid of the higher illumination; rather, it's a matter of degree.)

From this we may gather that, to a certain extent, we must overcome the extreme brightness of the natural light in order to clear a kind of "dark space" for the higher illumination to be perceived. In other words, this is where "not-knowing," "learned ignorance," or what the Raccoon calls "higher bewilderness" come into play.

Again, it is very much analogous to the manner in which the central sun blots out perception of the infinite stars, each a sun in its own right. This is a necessarily paradoxical formulation, for man's intellect is (relatively) central, but in so being, also knows that it is (absolutely) peripheral -- or, that it is capable of multiple perspectives (which can be the pretext for the postmodern deconstructionist who erroneously believes that multiple truths = no truth).

In fact, I read a wonderful quote the other day from Emerson, that I wish I had known at the time I wrote my book: "Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning..."

Again, we are center, but a kind of unstable and dynamic center, without which growth would be impossible. Being that we are central, we may know truth; but since we are not God (i.e., the Absolute center), our life is more like a process of "centration," as we metabolize and assimilate more and more of the divine center.

Regarding scripture, Eckhart maintained the classic hull-kernal distinction, which, in a way, mirrors the unavoidable distinction between appearance and reality in science. Science does not -- cannot -- ignore the empirical world as it presents itself to our senses, but it then discovers a deeper world "behind," "above," or "underneath" this (the same can be said for psychoanalysis, which observes the roiling sea of the unconscious beneath the solid ground of the empirical ego).

Here again, the distinction betweeen hull and kernel mirrors the distinction between mind and body, spirit and matter. You might say that scripture is the form of revelation, while revelation is the substance of scripture. As McGinn describes it, this is the complementary space "in which the exegete-preacher and the attentive hearer 'break through' the surface of the biblical word to reach the hidden meaning that negates both ordinary reason and the created self."

In other words, in scripture just as in nature, there is always that "wider circle" we can draw around the existing one, which is none other than growth, as we slowly and gradually contain that which once contained us.

But we can never contain the "all," or we would be God. God is the container that cannot be contained; or, if you want to look at it in a slightly heretical way, perhaps the inner activity of God also mirrors -- or is the very prototype of -- this process, in that the Trinity is, in a sense, eternally "surpassing itself" in love, surrender, and generativity.

This would be consistent with Eckhart's view that "the profundity of the Bible, indeed, of every text in the Bible, means that it contains an inexhaustible fecundity of truths." And "No one can be thought to understand the scriptures who does not know how to find its hidden marrow -- Christ, the Truth."

So even the most solid appearing bone has the waters of spirit invisibly coursing through it. But also, watch for bones in the water. Meanwhile, we'll see you tomarrow!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Geistatory Adventures and Laughty Revelations

At his trial for tact evasion, Eckhart said that some of the more "rare and subtle" passages in his works "had to be explained in light of his good intentions and within the context of the preaching genre" (McGinn): "The whole of what was said is false and absurd according to the imagination of opponents, but it is true according to true understanding."

Of another controversial blog post, he commented that "It must be said that this is false and an error, as it sounds. But it is true, devout, and moral of the just person, insofar as he is just..." In other words, for creatures, right being is a prerequisite for right understanding. This is indeed a rare and subtle point, because it means that if you ain't right in the head -- and heart -- you ain't gonna be right in your understanding, either. Is it any wonder that our trolls are not even wrong?

Again, if God exists because he understands, it means that trolls who don't understand these truths don't even properly exist. Or, alternatively, they only exist. And existence without truth is.... well, first of all it's an absurdity, but more to the point, it is hell.

But please note that what can be unambiguously "known" of the Truth is only a very small portion of it. But this shouldn't deter one in its assimilation. Consider, for example, how little science actually knows in comparison to what there is to be known, which is more or less infinite. Or consider even your own being! Every night your Dreamer escorts you to places within yourself that you've never even dreamt of in your wildest dreams.

Now, appreciating the great realm of the unThought known is one of the most vital organs for the detection of God. It's analogous to, say, a "sense of humor," which is not itself funny, but rather, is the ability to know what is funny ahead of time. In itself it is not necessarily "funny," but is an empty category, or a "preconceptual readiness" to appreciate humor in whatever form it arises.

You will have noticed that the gifted comedian is able to see the humor in some everyday situation that goes unnoticed by most people. The humor is already in us, but we don't explicitly think about it until the comedian "reminds" us of it, which then causes us to laugh with re-cognition. So in a very real sense, humor is merely recollection of the humorous.

I would say that Raccoon theology is somewhat, if not entirely, like this. It's not as if the B'ob tells you anything you don't already know, I mean, right? Rather, he mainly gives voice to preconceptual airy-tales you may not have consciously thought about. Hence, the sacred "guffah-HA!" experience when he punches you right in the nous or throws a pie in the face before you were born.

But this is true of all real theology, which is aimed at vertical re-collection. Whenever Bob's or anyone else's key fits perfectly into your unThought known, you will notice a little "tickle." You should try to be aware of this and eventually transform it into more of a real chortle or belly laugh. Ho!

It's also somewhat like being a good cook. We think of someone having a good visual, verbal, or musical imagination, but having a good gustatory imagination is a thing apart -- like having a good "tactile imagination," which I suppose blind people possess. A good and adventurous cook can presumably combine ingredients in unexpected ways, because he has a sort of highly developed "foretaste" of potentially tasty combinations.

Frankly, I think this is how advances take place in any field, which was one of Polanyi's core points -- the idea that the researcher is guided by tacit foreknowledge of, say, an as yet undiscovered recipe for potato salad. It would also explain the addiction that Darwinians and other materialists have for bunk food, not to mention the severe truth decay that results.

It's a tricky balance of flavors, because if your mind is saturated with too much foreknowledge, then it closes off the possibility of tasting new discoveries. And this may smell blasfumy, but who said that all the great theological discoveries have already been made? At the very least, I know for sure that they haven't been made by Bob. I mean, I could take someone else's word for it, but I'm not much interested in dei-old liftovers unless they specifically help me digest my own unThought known. Theology's the ultimate adventure, baby. There's more than one way to cook the cosmic egg.

But first you have to come out of your shell and be born. This was one of Eckhart's key psimiles -- that the birth of the Word is eternally recapitulated in the ground of the soul. Jesus reconciles creation with Creator on a macro scale, but we must nevertheless engage in the same activity in a microwave, i.e., "the imitation of Christ." You might say that he is the pilot light, but that doesn't mean that we don't have to journey to the kitchen and fire up the burner.

Also, you definitely have to appreciate Eckhart's inrageous sense of humor, which, unfortunately, the religiously correct authorities of the time -- just like the politically correct left wing inquisitors of the present day -- did not. He uses humor in a zen sort of way, in order to jolt you out of your habitual way of seeing things. He is the True GagDaddy of them all.

Eckhart reveled in "word games that are meant to be both playful and serious insofar as they 'play' a role in the practice of deconstructing the self and freeing it from all that pertains to the created world. Identity in the ground [of being] is a 'wandering' and 'playful' identity.... Speaking to a restricted group of learned God-seekers, he also feels free to indulge... in paradox, oxymoron, and hyperbole," the "rare and subtle" forms of speech "that comprise the 'shock treatment' of a mystical discourse designed to awaken by challenging traditional modes of speaking and understanding" (McGinn).

Like the unThought known, "the ground is transcendentally real as 'pure possibility,'" and "is the 'place' from which the mystic must learn to live, act, and know" (McGinn). It is also flowing and spontaneous, like jazz: "Many of Eckhart's sermons have an improvisational character, appearing as a series of virtuoso variations on oft-repeated themes."

Eckart was quite clearly describing the unThought known when he said that "This not-knowing draws [the soul] into amazement and keeps her on the hunt, for she clearly recognizes 'that he is,' but she does not know 'what' or 'how' he is" (Eckhart). McGinn says that "this incommunicable knowledge keeps the mystic ever on the inward path, not turned outside."

Now, this "inward path" is the path back to God. Just yesterday Bob was comparing it to a sort of vertical mindshaft, in which we must all work in darkness, administrying one blow after another, occasionally pulling out a nugget of gold and getting a little closer each day to the Fatherlode, or Sierra Padre. It's there. We can sense it with our charcoal activated cʘʘnvision, like old Walter Huston smells the gold in Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Here's how Eckhart describes the cʘʘnvision: "Though it may be called an unknowing, an uncomprehending, it still has more within it than all knowing and comprehending outside it, for this unknowing lures and draws you from all that is known, and also from yourself."

So remumble under your breath: last rung in's a written gag, so your seenil grammar and gravidad may not be malapropriate for my laughty revelations!