Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Almighty B'ob, Master of Trolls

I dreamt that the Celtics thumped the Lakers tonight. Let's hope that this was not a pre-cognitive dream, and that Petey was just messing with me again. I actually woke up with a lump in my throat. I'm still bitter about Don Nelson's shot in game seven of the 1969 finals.

One other trivial item I want to mention. The other day I read a review of Christopher Hitchens' new memoir, in which it mentioned that he writes 1,000 words a day. That got me to wondering. How many words does Bob write? I checked a few of my posts, and they all came in at over 1,000 words. Being that I have written some 1500 posts, that means well over a million words.

And now you know why the arkive will never be organized, and why a second book is probably impossible. Unless I can find a way to cap this underwater gusher, but I have no idea how to do that. First I need Dupree to tell me whose ass to kick.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program. If we're going to seriously or even jocularly employ the Ø <-- (•) --> O schematic, the first thing we need to recognize is that (•) --> O is impossible and even unthinkable in the absence of the reverse flow of (•) <-- O, or grace. In fact, to think otherwise is one of those intrinsic heresies we've been gabbing about. And when I say "intrinsic," I mean that it is an error not just for a theology, but theology as such.

To put it another way, to the extent that one imagines that one can successfully approach God unaided and on one's own, this represents the most rank form of cosmic chutzpah and spiritual grandiosity, because it is really just a roundabout way of saying that you are God -- which, in a certain sense, you are (as is everything else, so it qualifies as a truism).

But this hardly means that the converse is true, that God is you. To paraphrase something Schuon said, before you can declare "I AM THAT," you had better realize the extent to which DUDE, NO WAY AM I THAT! Communion is only possible in separation, just as ignorance is a prerequisite of knowledge. Spiritually speaking, the peace, quiet, and openness of (o) and (---) are prior to (n). Or, first faith, then knowledge, faith being a kind of preconceptual foreknowledge.

The left and right sides of my schematic are literally different universes, which is why to be born again from above only changes everything.

Speaking of which, would it not be accurate to say that those readers who fundamentally mis- and disunderstand what I'm saying have not been so reborn, and that they are therefore trying to understand O through Ø -- that the left side doesn't know what the right side is doing? If this is the case, it would certainly explain the intrinsic stupidity of their questions and observations, would it not?

(And as always, I mean this literally, not as an insult. If you are being cosmically stupid, it is an act of mercy for someone to point it out to you. You needn't get sore about it. No one knows who you are. We're just goofing on you for the purposes of higher insultainment. Whack!)

Imagine, for example, a devoted reader who obsessively pores over each and every post, and still cannot penetrate the hull and reach the kernel. He says -- oh, I don't know, "but Bob, that's illogical!" What's really going on here? What if this person isn't only a malevolent, parochial, joyless, and ill-tempered troll, but is honestly confused. What to do? How to help him?

Well, first of all, is it not obvious that Bob cannot help such a person, since Bob may be qualified to be a nursemaid or au pair for a short time but certainly not your cosmic midwife? In a manner of speaking, of course. In other words, exactly who vested in me this power to awaken others from their spiritual slumber? I have never represented myself as some kind of "guru" or "spiritual master," and never will. All I know for certain is that some people say they benefit from these public verticalisthenic exercises in self-help. And that some say they don't benefit. But why the latter keep coming back is a bit puzzling.

For those who do benefit from my improvisational cogitations, I think we would find that, to a person, it is because they have already been -- however you wish to coonceptualize it -- "born again from above," so that their principial orientation is to O, not Ø (and certainly not to me, God forbid!). So for a premetanoiacal troll to ask me for answers I can never provide is a priori evidence of a problem I can't help them with, since -- for the benefit of morons and imbeciles, not regular readers -- I am not O. Rather, for the Raccoon, vertical re-orientation and grace are everything. We are not deus-it-oursophers.

I've mentioned this before, but I'm thinking of when a Christian student came to Schuon for guidance. He said words to the effect of, "fine. But just remember: Christ is your Master. So in response to that flurry of asinine questions and comments yesterday, I suppose my first question to them would be, "who is your Master?" The answer to that question should automatically provide answers to the others.

It's a little startling to me how Pieper's and Zizioulas' books are lining up on this discussion. I keep going back and forth between one and the other, and it's as if the two are conversing in my head. I find it fascinating that one of our trolls persistently mischaracterizes our position as one of certitude and finality, when precisely the opposite is true. Only the atheist has that kind of bovine certitude. Again, for the person in (•) --> O, we are always on the way, never at our final deustination.

In this regard, Pieper has a fascinating discussion about the delicate balance required of the already but not yet, and the various vices and sins that result from over- or underemphasizing one side or the other. In other words, the "already" implies a kind of certitude, while the "not yet" implies imperfection, progress, doubt, "seeing through a glass darkly," etc.

He begins by defining the nature of virtue, which is "the enhancement of the human person in a way befitting his nature." Virtue involves "the most a man can be," but again, it is always more of an orientation than an accomplishment. It is "the steadfastness of man's orientation toward the realization of his nature, that is, toward good." I cannot imagine a clearer description of (•) --> O.

But again, as alluded to above, (•) --> O is impossible, precisely. Rather, "theological virtue is an ennobling of man's nature that entirely surpasses what he 'can be' of himself" (emphasis mine). It is "the steadfast orientation toward a fulfillment and a beatitude that are not 'owed' to natural man," a transnatural "potentiality for being" that is "grounded in a real, grace-filled participation in the divine nature..."

Although Pieper is, of course, speaking in a Christian context, it is difficult to imagine a better description of the (•) <-- O that must complement (•) --> O if we are to get anywhere, vertically speaking. (Alternatively, one could simply say, no ↓, no ↑.) And memo to trolls: stop trying to make me your ↓, and get a Master -- and a clue. Then perhaps you'll understand what's going on here.

That's 1150 words. To be continued tomorrow....

This is important enough to embed. It describes what happens when a nation loses contact with O:

17 Comments:

Blogger f/zero said...

Today's seminal post is a fine little pocket map with a "You Are Here" arrow to orient new visitors to up and down. It folds up nicely too.

Free Map - Take One would look nice in a sidebar rack. Just like gas stations used to have, back when the attendants washed your windows, inflated your tires, and topped off your oil.

WV says it has dyedness...

6/15/2010 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

An important essay by Prager that touches on today's post, and what becomes of virtue -- or the desire to do good -- when it is unhitched from O and becomes horizontalized: the left wing Road to Hell Paving Company.

6/15/2010 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Pieper explains that when this happens, magnanimity -- the aspiration of the spirit to great things -- is transformed into pride and grandiosity.

6/15/2010 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Or again, if memory serves, wasn't it the Tower in MOTT?

Unmoored from Grace, goodness is no goodness at all, just as one cannot be wrongly virtuous.

6/15/2010 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, interestingly, one can hope wrongly, in that misplaced hope is still hope, but, say, justice, cannot remain justice if it is not oriented to the good. Likewise love and knowledge, in that one can love the wrong things, but "untrue knowledge" is a kind of contradiction.

6/15/2010 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of goodness...

6/15/2010 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

...and then there's "goodness", god help us.

6/15/2010 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

They'll have to pry my grog from my cold, dead meat hook. Have you ever noticed that the human hand fits perfectly around a beer bottle? More evidence that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

6/15/2010 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Link #1: beautiful.

Link #2: Ugh.

Well, at least we're homeschooling, receive our livelihood from an institution that refuses federal aid, and don't use any "community health centers." I suppose we could work ourselves further off grid if necessary...not that I have any habits targeted by these busybodies (aside from the occasional Big Mac Attack).

It's my offspring they'll have to pry from my cold, dead hands. (Which, isn't it interesting, fit perfectly around the handgrip of a Glock. ;) ) But seriously, I do wonder about the future of educational choice. These lefties by and large actively mischaracterize and oppose it, although a few of my more liberal friends do homeschool.

6/15/2010 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I should emphasize that the Glock joke is *just* a joke (lest Bob's trolls accuse him of attracting militia-type people).

I'm a firm believer that Romans 13 is as relevant and applicable as the rest of Scripture.

6/15/2010 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Mikal said...

For Bob.

6/15/2010 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Truth -- I may not be able to define it, but I gno it when I see it.

Trolls, like other leftists, are about as offended by truth as decent folks are by obscenity (I'm not necessarily all that decent myself). They are not bothered by dweebs without skills living in a playboy-fantasy world. Why should they be offended if we are -- as they seem to imply -- indulging in spiritual fantasies?

Fish will do a lot of thrashing and splashing to throw a hook.

6/15/2010 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"I find it fascinating that one of our trolls persistently mischaracterizes our position as one of certitude and finality, when precisely the opposite is true. Only the atheist has that kind of bovine certitude. Again, for the person in (•) --> O, we are always on the way, never at our final deustination."

Very true, and it is in fact always the leftist troll which utterly rejects context and movement (life?). They always want to latch onto something noted as being True, bind it, gag it and affix it to some lifeless unchanging thing which they then want to claim is the truth we said ("You think people should be able to choose? What about drug addicts! They can't be trusted to choose! Give them a choice and they'll kill themselves! There's your choice, come claim it!" )... and then seem surprised as we shake our heads at their darling zombies and deny that it lives.

The higher things are permanent, but in the horizontal they are in constant motion... I suppose from the troll's perspective down in the flats, things really do seem to be unrelated and completely different from moment to moment; if something moves, it’s assumed to be something new. If only the little fools would look up and become "...however you wish to conceptualize it -- "born again from above,"... just doesn't seem to happen though.

6/15/2010 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Re: the government overriding one's right to self-determination: It's not inconceivable. This family's crime? Homeschooling.

6/15/2010 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

And memo to trolls: stop trying to make me your ↓...

The irony there is that the trolls are trying to do just that, but at the same time they want to dictate and control the flow they think they should get from you. They want to be told what they want to hear. Anything else is unacceptable.

That being the case, one wonders why they don't spend all their time around someone more new-agey or Chopraesque. Those guys seem all too happy to play at being purveyors of ↓.

6/15/2010 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Kurt said...

Bob,
May I thank you, brother, for your labors on this blog and in your book, on behalf of all of us wounded, tired and tattered souls, those who seek safe haven, rest and restoration even while we walk this falling and fallen earth? May I encourage you to walk on a bit further with all of us, and with Him who is Faithful and True, and who loves us so very much? God bless you, sir, for your faithfulness to His call and for loving us, all of us who read your words everyday. Thank you for sharing your heart, even when it hurts.

Kurt

6/16/2010 12:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Thank you, Kurt. I'd still do the verticalisthenics anyway, but it's always encouraging to know that someone besides me benefits from the exercise.

6/16/2010 08:35:00 AM  

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