The Crude Psychic Maps of Postmodern Barbarians
Conversely, thanks to language, the map of (•) --> O can be as detailed as a google map that shows the address of every saint and sage along the way. Christianity has been here for a long time, and Western civilization even longer. And the Transdimensional Order of the Cosmic Raccoon is so venerable that it disappears into the mists of the mid-twentieth century.
That's a lot of map making. But with the gradually increasing materialization and quantification of our culture over the past several centuries, it is very much the case that our exterior maps are more detailed than ever, even while the interior ones have become sketchy and impoverished at best.
I say "at best" because when a map loses its features, it becomes a kind of canvas for the psyche to project upon. Prior to the development of systematic scientific discovery -- the discovery of discovery -- the situation was the reverse, in that our exterior maps were vehicles of psychic projection. People projected all sorts of mind parasites in the form of mythical beasts beyond the boundaries of the known world. It is similar to how liberals imagine that anyone outside their familiar territory is a greedy, racist, and homophobic monster, as seen below in the depiction of conservatives swimming beyond the shore of academia and the MSM:
I remember Terence McKenna discussing this in a lecture. He said that early spiritual adventurers were analogous to worldly explorers, in the sense that their first reports are very empirical, and discuss the flora, fauna, and climate of the region. Only with repeated testimony are we able to put the reports together and create something like a useable map. In other words, if one explorer has described the landscape of El Salvador, it won't be helpful to the person who lands, say, at Plymouth Rock.
Obviously, the problem is only more complex in the multidimensional world of the human subject. Here we confront Hayek's "knowledge problem," in that we are also dealing with a non-linear system that has an infinite amount of information. Imagine trying to "map the economy." We can do it, but only with very crude statistics such as GNP, or money supply, or rate of inflation. And no one can say how the variables will interact in real time, so the system is fundamentally unpredictable. Nor do these statistics say anything about particular individuals, and certainly not about their interior states.
People who are "surprised" that Al Gore should leave his wife are simply naive about the unpredictable nature of the complex system of the psyche -- very similar to those loons and crackpots who think they can predict what the weather will be like in a hundred years.
Now, it is impossible to navigate in the absence of a map, of some kind of representation of reality, even it is just the sun or stars. In the absence of a map, one can only wander this way and that. This is doubly true of a human life, in that, if you don't know where you're going, you're sure to get there. Alternatively, if you don't change directions, you're likely to end up where you're headed.
In space there are six directions, north, south, east, west, up, and down. In psychic space, all orthodox traditions testify to the existence an enduring world of vertical space that has an up and down, which is represented on our map by Ø <-- (•) --> O. But there are many well known features between (•) and O, on the one hand, and between (•) and Ø on the other.
The problem is, modern man has tossed aside the most useful maps of this territory, which condemns him to drifting around in hyperspace like a born again caveman following his appetites. In so doing, he is "discovering" things that were well known by our furbears, and, more often than not, confusing these mere features of the landscape with the destination. Not only that, but the postmodern neanderthal, or proglodyte, often confuses a psychic hellhole with a vacation spot, or even a place to set up permanent residence.
The modern university is testimony to this kind of perverse mapmaking. At the very least, spending four years at one of these institutions should result not just in a diploma -- or license to steal -- but in an adequate map of reality in order to conduct safe passage on the human journey.
But again, more often than not, the university graduate emerges with a map that is even worse than the one he came in with (cf. Obama). He will quite literally not know up from down or inside from out or Israel from Iran. For example, to internalize deconstruction is to say that there are really no objective maps, that all the maps are based upon power, and that the map means anything one wishes it to mean.
Or, to internalize materialism is to say that there are no interior maps at all. Rather, if we can only obtain a detailed enough map of the exterior, that will automatically map the interior as well. Multiculturalism insists that the human map has no up or down, while moral relativism says that one man's map is another man's toilet paper (and vice versa).
As the old wise crack goes, the leftist dreams of systems so perfect, that no one will need to be good. This is no joke, for the essence of their pneumapathology resides in their defective map making -- the belief that all human problems can be located on their exterior map, and have nothing to do with morality. Problem with capitalism? It's a few greedy fat cats on Wall Street, as Obama said a couple of days ago. Problem with poverty? It has nothing whatsoever to do with the behavior of people who remain in poverty. There is no "map to success," such as staying in school, avoiding illegal drugs, and not having children out of wedlock.
Anyway, back to Pieper. In discussing human virtue, he is really describing the landscape between (•) and O, using detailed maps that have been preserved and developed over the past 2000 years or more. Again, virtue is "the steadfastness of man's orientation toward the realization of his nature, that is, toward good" and "an ennobling of man's nature that entirely surpasses what he 'can be' of himself."
To say that our orientation to the transcendental good allows us to surpass ourselves, is another way of saying that human beings are uniquely privileged to participate in the divine nature, so that the human adventure is ultimately a journey from image to likeness. This is where virtue, truth, meaning, happiness, and joy are all situated.
To be continued.....