Friday, February 12, 2010

On Practicing Your Scales of Being

I hope this isn't getting too dreadfully repetitive. As I mentioned a few posts back, I'm just flipping through this book by Jaki, commenting on whatever arrests my attention. True, none of it is strictly new, but nothing else is either. In a way, virtually everything is just the same old same mold, just new fungus in old bathtubs.

I think the great lesson of Groundhog Day is not that there is a magical way to prevent yourself from living the same day over and over. Rather, the idea is to imbue the day with transcendent meaning, perhaps in the way that a melody confers meaning "from above" on the notes below. After all, there are only twelve notes in the chromatic scale, but an infinite number of melodies that can be created out of them.

And although two melodies can employ the identical notes, one of them can be deep while the other is trite and shallow (just as two scientific theories can rely upon the identical facts to arrive at very different explanations). As we were saying the other day, it's all a matter of soul, which is the dimension and measure of depth in the cosmos. No soul, no depth, irrespective of the discipline.

This is why, by the way, a blues giant -- say, Howlin' Wolf -- can achieve great depth despite the structural simplicity of the music, while a virtuoso can be an artistic mediocrity despite all the training and complexity. Simple is not necessarily simplistic, or every garage band would sound like Creedence Clearwater Revival.

I remember a comment by George Martin, the Beatles' great producer. Someone asked him if he could have written any of the Beatles' tunes. Despite his indispensable contribution to the actualization of their musical vision,

"the answer is definitely no: for one basic reason. I didn't have their simple approach to music.... I think that if Paul, for instance, had learned music 'properly' -- not just the piano, but correct notation for writing and reading music -- it might well have inhibited him.... Once you start being taught things, your mind is channelled in a particular way. Paul didn't have that channelling, so he had freedom, and he could think of things that I would have considered outrageous. I could admire them, but my musical training would have prevented me from thinking of them myself."

Repetition, of course, is the mother of pedagogy, but this is especially true in realms transcending the senses and the (small r) reason (i.e., those pertaining to the "eye of spirit" discussed in yesterday's post). The reason for this is obvious. There is an ascending cosmic force and a descending one. In the metaphysics of Vedanta these are referred to as the gunas of sattva and tamas respectively, but I just call them (↑) and (↓) in order to sheer them of the unnecessary wooly mythological accretions and to sheepishly trancelight them into one's own tradition.

The point is that the descending tendency -- at least for most people, and especially for some -- must be actively countered. Which is why I engage in these verticalisthenic gymgnostics first thing in the morning, in order to sound the tone for the day. The day -- and the secular world in general -- inevitably draws one's consciousness down and out, so most of us need a way to gather consciousness in and up.

And as I've also mentioned before, persistent practice of your Orobic exercises will eventually reach a tipping point, at which one transitions from the terrestrial to the celestial attractor. At that point, it is no longer such a struggle to shun the downward pull of the (so-called) "world" and its terminal moraine of urgent nonsense. (Not to be confused with our slackrament of the Beer O'clock tippling point.)

Schuon discusses the idea of repetition in a useful manner. That is, despite his detailed exposition of the universal Sophia, it "is quite evidently inexhaustible and has no natural limits." Furthermore, "as it is impossible to exhaust all that lends itself to being expressed [think of the notes/melody analogy above], and as repetition in metaphysical matters cannot be a mistake -- it being better to be too clear than not to be clear enough," it is always possible to express new "illustrations and applications" of metacosmic principles that are not themselves subject to change.

So, do I repeat myself? It never feels like it when I'm in the middle of it, because it always feels like a discovery, or a jam session in O.

At any rate, the next two chapters almost require no commentary, as their titles should be sufficient to provoke intellection: One is called Bricks without Mortar, the other Arch without Keystone.

What is the mortar and who is the keystone of reality, Grasshopper?!

Hint: start by reverse imagineering the world!

Now, regarding our evolving I-magination of the cosmos, Jaki has an excellent chapter on the transition from the Newtonian to the quantum-relativistic world of the twentieth century, and once again, it is only Judeo-Christian metaphysics that made it possible. The great physicist Max Planck, for example, was driven by an unshakeable belief in "the objective existence of a rational, wholly harmonious cosmos in which everything was united through a single, ultimate law," and the "unswerving commitment to the notion of an objective, absolute truth embodied in the physical universe" (emphasis mine).

So, how Lo can He go? How about all the way inside-out and upside down, a vidy long descent indeed to the farthest reaches of sorrow and ignorance! --The Wholly Coonifesto

25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dreadfully repetitive. You nailed that one.

2/12/2010 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger debass said...

"After all, there are only twelve notes in the chromatic scale, but an infinite number of melodies that can be created out of them."

When someone asks if I know a certain tune, if I don't know it, I tell them I know all the notes but I don't know what order they come in.

back to the post.

2/12/2010 08:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Remarkable. The moment I enable anonymous comments, the dreadfully repetitive trolls come out of the woodwank.

2/12/2010 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

"...dreadfully repetitive..."

Laws.
Forms.
Patterns.
Images.
Truths.
All of the Above is a "repeat performance."

I crack the Cosmic Egg and look for the substantive Goodness on the in-side -- day after day! I call that "practice."

Thanks for the melody!

2/12/2010 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"And although two melodies can employ the identical notes, one of them can be deep while the other is trite and shallow (just as two scientific theories can rely upon the identical facts to arrive at very different explanations). As we were saying the other day, it's all a matter of soul, which is the dimension and measure of depth in the cosmos. No soul, no depth, irrespective of the discipline."


Got that right, and it does bear (and perhaps bare) repeating. As does,
"In a way, virtually everything is just the same old same mold, just new fungus in old bathtubs. "

2/12/2010 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, that's sad. I wonder how long poor anony has been sitting hunched over his keyboard, waiting and salivating over his next awesome and devastating strike. "Any moment now," he must have been thinking for at least the past week, "he'll open up the comments, and Blammo!"

Yet that's the best he could come up with.

tsk tsk tsk.

As Walt just demonstrated, the repetition is anything but dreadful. But to see that, you must have a love for those first principles, and an ability to see how they are repeated with infinite and beautiful variation throughout the whole of Creation. Truth in music, truth in art, truth in science, truth in the soul - these are all repetitions and reflections of each other, each in their way the imago dei.

If you're bored by truth and find it dreadful, well...
explains a lot, I guess.

2/12/2010 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger f/zero said...

In a way, virtually everything is just the same old same mold, just new fungus in old bathtubs.

Ugh. The first vision that popped into my mind was those creepy Cialis ads.

2/12/2010 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger f/zero said...

Or were. I can't keep track.

2/12/2010 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

(Off topic, but I just heard from Mushroom that his newest grandson is due to arrive a little early, sometime between tonight and tomorrow. I'm sure he & his family would appreciate a few prayers, if you get a chance)

2/12/2010 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Creepy is right. Two bathtubs -- dualism, separation, armor, lack of connection, shielding, isolation, hygiene, brave new world, better living through chemistry and the demise of western civilization.

But enough about my problems.

My wife can buy a new DVD and show it to her mother. Her mom's response is always the same: "I've seen it before". I suppose this is true in the sense that all movies are in the set "movie", and since she has seen movies previously, she has "seen it before".

She will, however, happily watch "Jurassic Park" over and over. I guess it reminds her of the good old days.

2/12/2010 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Thanks, Julie. Yes, we would very much appreciate it. My daughter is in isolation until she gives birth and my wife is freaking out.

2/12/2010 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger black hole said...

There is another guna besides sattwa and tamas. That is rajas (force of action, passion, desire).

Sattwa also refers to intellectual ativity, and tamas to rest/intertia/sleep.

2/12/2010 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

She will, however, happily watch "Jurassic Park" over and over. I guess it reminds her of the good old days.

lol

Going back to repetition, as above, so below. Don't forget to wait a few seconds, then mouse-over the image. The rings are lovely; somehow all the colors took me by surprise. I guess it's just harder to notice how vivid they are when all we usually see is a pinpoint.

2/12/2010 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

"slackrament of the Beer O'clock tippling point."

Dontcha mean tipping pint?

Don't mind if I do!

2/12/2010 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Good news.

The download is complete.

The eagle has landed. Er, the stork -- whatever ... anyway, Micah has left the batcave -- five pounds six ounces.

Thanks for the prayers.

2/12/2010 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

That calls for another pint!

2/12/2010 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A new little fungus among us!

2/12/2010 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Mushroom said "The download is complete."

Excellent! Those zip drives are getting better all the time. Hope your daughter's doing well and you grand parents survived the process!

2/12/2010 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Raccoon Ha-Ha's, via Powerline.

2/12/2010 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Pretentious, pseudo-intellectual iiberal moron tries to understand Sowell's new book. What could go wrong?

2/12/2010 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

From the pseu-pseu pseudio's silly blather,

"There is not a single interesting idea in its more than three-hundred pages. Purporting to deal with the role that intellectuals play in society, it offers no discussion of literature, music, and the arts."

Ha! Coincidentally, I just read a review of this same dim bulbs book, a pretentious and silly attempt at posing as an intellectual himself, the reviewer says,

"It has been said that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who believe that there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who know better. Believing in the truth of this statement, I clearly fall into the former category. Alan Wolfe’s latest book, Return to Greatness, however, tempts me to join the latter group—for with this work, Wolfe surely gives reductionist taxonomy a bad name. "

and this next bit shows why,

"There is some question whether he even read, or read with care, the work of many of the thinkers in question, given that he often mischaracterizes or even outright mis- quotes their words (e.g., Lincoln’s “mystic chords of memory” becomes “mystic chains”: maybe Wolfe was thinking “cords”). This book may well give Wolfe the reputation of being a drive-by intellectual."

Ah laughter... libtards are good for something.

2/12/2010 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's possible that the same fool tried to review Liberal Fascism in TNR...

2/12/2010 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just for starters, anyone who's heard Sowell knows that he's anything but dour. But because of their projection, liberals always confuse "I hate this person" with "this person is hateful," whether it's Limbaugh, Clarence Thomas, Reagan, or even me...

2/12/2010 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I seem to recall a bunch of us were called hateful here a couple months back. Bob, Van, me, maybe someone else?

I had a good laugh at that one. Being hateful is the least of my problems. I suspect the same is true of everyone else so labeled at the time.

2/12/2010 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

I'm not surprised at all by Wolfe's reaction. Sowell absolutely nails him, and Wolfe knows it all too well.

2/13/2010 07:04:00 AM  

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