Sunday, July 11, 2010

First and Ten on the Field of Love

Slept late this morning. I think I'm still a little tired from yesterday's rousing game of aquatic dwarf tossing (soon to be an Olympic event). I was trying to vault him all the way into the tree, where the idea was for him to grab a vine and hold on like Tarzan (Spiderman in his world). He was eventually able to secure a branch, but it was too weak to hold him:



It was different back when he was an infant, when I could get more elevation. But of course he couldn't grab on to anything then, so one had to catch the slippery dwarf as well. But that caused tachycardia and palpitations in Mrs. G, so....

Anyway, I could take the easy way out this morning by reposting something, but I think I'll do what I can and try to push on ahead into O, even if we capture only a few feet of territory. Every morning is a new first and ten. Although Raccoons prefer the passing game, not every post needs to be a long bomb. Rather, we should also establish a ground game, and occasionally push past the adversary with sheer muscle and will.

Most of us, when we're born, are placed at or near our own 20 yard line. True, some people have certain advantages, but there are usually compensatory factors that cause things to even out -- a regression to the mean, which is why the children of celebrities turn out to be such losers.

Rarely does someone suffer a true safety in life, in which they are tackled in their own endzone through no fault of their own. (We are speaking of America, not, say, the "Palestinians," who see to it that they're all born in their own endzone.) Of course it does sometimes happen, which is why I would never say that no welfare state whatsoever is necessary.

What is unnecessary is placing the welfare system at the 50 yard line, just to make it popular with the middle class. Among other things, doing so renders it a matter of self-interest rather than true charity. If you really think that AARP fights for the impoverished elderly, or that Johnnie Cochran really needed affirmative action for his children to catch a break from the racist system, you sir are worse than Hitler. Worse even than Johnnie Cochran.

So if we are going to advance the ball toward the goal line, we must eventually enter enemy territory. Thus, we are immediately faced with a paradox: the closer we get to the goal, the more attention we draw from the adversary.

The main tools of our ground game consist precisely in the virtues we have been discussing -- the cardinal virtues of prudence (wisdom), justice, courage, and temperance; and the theological virtues of faith, hope and love.

By sticking with these, we can play the game very much in the manner John Wooden did. When preparing his players for an upcoming contest, he didn't concern himself with the particular opponent or the individual personnel. Rather, he always told his players that all they needed to do was to execute what they already knew how to do, without regard to whom they were playing.

It's the same with the virtues. You're better off sticking with these, rather than trying to improvise or adapt your game to what the adversary might be thinking. You can always mix in your passing game as well -- prayer, meditation, the beer o'clock slackrament, etc.

Now lately we've been talking about love -- not just as "anything," but as a theological virtue. Why should it be a virtue -- and the most important one at that? Hmm. Perhaps because it's the hardest? I know -- because it is both a means and the goal itself? Because only love can give us a new first and ten? Because the whole field is made of love? Let's find out.

It sounds like we may be on the right track with that last one, about whether the field is made of love. But this will definitely require further explanation so as to avoid descending into a treacly bumper-sticker sentimentality. Pieper says that love "is based upon a preexistent relation between the lover and the beloved." This is indeed a key point -- like my helpful future editor, one wants to say PAY ATTENTION HERE MORON BECAUSE THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

The point is that "no one could love anyone or anything were not the world, in a manner hard to put into words, a single reality and one that can be experienced as fundamentally characterized by unity -- a world in which all beings at bottom are related to one another and from their origins exist in a relationship of real correspondence to one another. In short, we are confirmed in our sensing that love not only yields and creates unity but also that its premise is unity" (emphasis mine).

Therefore, love is not so much an emotion, or a state, or a feeling, but a disclosure of "the way things are." It does not create unity, but reveals it.

But this is precisely where a lot of people get mixed up, including Christians -- and not just the dumb ones, either. Because paradoxically, this oneness can only take place with twoness. In other words, if "all is one," full stop, then love isn't actually possible, is it? Rather, that would simply be a case of cosmic narcissism, or self-love writ large. God is not LaBron James.

The whole key lies in the eternal comm-union of the Trinity. They say that revelation of the Trinity is one of those things that man could never have figured out on his own, but I'm not so sure about that. I came to this conclusion long before I knew anything about Christianity except for a bunch of hostile cliches filtered through the academic left.

But before moving on to the subject of communion, let me set up our offense a little further. Pieper goes on to say that "alienation can exist only on the basis of a preexisting original oneness." The Fall immediately comes to mind. Adam and Eve can only be "expelled" from Paradise if they were once there.

Indeed, some would say that it would be impossible to even know about paradise unless one were exiled from it, so to speak -- just as a fish can't understand water until it is flopping on the deck. "Damn. Should have left that attractive bait alone!"

Hmm. I see that I scrawled a mysterious message to myself in the margin: If you say yes to O, it doesn't mean you're saying no to Ø. But if you say yes to Ø, you must say no to O.

What could this mean? Perhaps that if we say Yes to the unity of love, it encompasses the other, and ultimately affirms the whole world. But if we say Yes to Ø, it affirms our radical isolation and confirms Sartre's belief that hell is other people. But hell is only some people. Sartre, for example.

21 Comments:

Blogger Van said...

"The point is that "no one could love anyone or anything were not the world, in a manner hard to put into words, a single reality and one that can be experienced as fundamentally characterized by unity -- a world in which all beings at bottom are related to one another and from their origins exist in a relationship of real correspondence to one another...

I predict that anunce will suffer the strange Øptical dellusion that he'd said this before... not realizing that he'd never even imagined it.

7/12/2010 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Therefore, love is not so much an emotion, or a state, or a feeling, but a disclosure of "the way things are." It does not create unity, but reveals it."

Love, the ultimate in integration. In so many more ways than One....

7/12/2010 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"The whole key lies in the eternal comm-union of the Trinity. They say that revelation of the Trinity is one of those things that man could never have figured out on his own, but I'm not so sure about that. I came to this conclusion long before I knew anything about Christianity except for a bunch of hostile cliches filtered through the academic left."

Substituting "Objectivist" for "academic left", me too. Only I think I realized it more as a 3D image drawn on paper. I didn't actually grasp the 3D image had more than 2 dimensions, until stepping into the OC zone.

7/12/2010 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"If you say yes to O, it doesn't mean you're saying no to Ø. But if you say yes to Ø, you must say no to O."

Maybe Once you begin sketching 3D images, you are enabled to receive the vertical dimension and enter into it... and there is nothing there preventing you from sketching stick figures as needed.

But if you stubbornly stick to imagining only stick figures you're stuck in 2D for life (or at least for the 2D appearance of it)... stick with sticks and your stuck.

7/12/2010 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

The joie de vivre just emanates off that boy in every one of his pictures. :)

wv: risivavi

7/12/2010 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, he's always up for anything. If I suggested throwing him off the roof into the pool, he'd go for it. Come to think of it....

7/12/2010 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

But hell is only some people.

I was thinking along those lines the other day; if hell is other people, sometimes heaven is, too.

7/12/2010 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Mikal said...

Heaven is in your mind!

7/12/2010 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Dear Bob,

Interesting thoughts. Sometimes we forget that "unity" does not mean togetherness, it means oneness.

Gandalin

7/12/2010 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Mikal-- Believe it or not, Three Dog Night had a pretty decent version of that. They were actually quasi-hip pre-Joy To the World, in that they were one of the few groups that got airplay both on AM and FM...

7/12/2010 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Bob: One word...zipline! Or is it two words?

7/12/2010 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You read my mind. I've been meaning to set one up....

7/12/2010 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Ziplines are hugely popular around here. I know of three that have started in the last few months within a few miles of each other. Of course our terrain, as my dad used to say, is "rolling".

7/12/2010 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

We do prefer the passing game, but my own blogging owes more to Woody Hayes: "Three yards and a cloud of dust."

7/12/2010 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

If you've not already done this, drop a few paragraphs of One Cosmos into this little box and hit ANALYZE. The middle paragraphs of today's post came up as "I write like Kurt Vonnegut" -- not bad at all.

7/12/2010 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Probably just random. I tried some other posts, and I Got Edgar Allen Poe and Harry Harrison, whoever that is.

7/12/2010 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Tod said...

Revisiting Double Rainbow Guy

7/12/2010 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Yep, I played with it some more, and it's mostly random.

Harry Harrison was a science fiction writer back in the '50's and '60's. I remember him for "The Stainless Steel Rat".

7/12/2010 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"...a world in which all beings at bottom are related to one another and from their origins exist in a relationship of real correspondence to one another."

This reminds me of John's teaching...

"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him."

"...Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit."

Unity depends on partaking of the same Spirit...knowing God. In fact, those not indwelt by the Spirit of God are described as being at enmity with him.

Not that we loved God, but that he loved us! (↓) And makes us able to love one another as we ought.

7/12/2010 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

bh said "If love is unity, hate must be an extra measure of division."

Depends upon the depths descended to. Hate, especially when turning from Love to Hate, makes use of some of the key values and associations but turns them away from harmonious integration, to mis-integration, and finally dis-integration, as the once vertical value becomes flattened and horizontalized.

But you know that.

7/12/2010 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger black hole said...

Van:

It's OK to interact with the hole without adding the disdainful trailer.

The blog author won't harm you because you are a pretty mean dude and he won't touch that.

7/13/2010 08:50:00 AM  

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