Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Cosmic Covenant

One of the images I used in my book was of a once-unified mankind -- after all, there may have been only a few hundred of us -- venturing out of Africa in the first diaspora, and eventually colonizing every corner of the world. Distinct cultures then arose, partly as a result of divergent experiences with different environments.

In this regard, culture is an adaptation, partly to the external environment, but much more importantly, to the interior world of human subjectivity and the gift/curse of self-awareness. Once it is projected and "crystalized," culture then shapes its individual members, often in ways that foreclose their further evolution. You might say that culture is an evolutionary "niche," except that it is a manmade one to which we must then adapt. In so doing, we are "adapting to mindedness," as I put it in the book.

For example, if I were born in the Palestinian terrortories, I would undoubtedly be forced to adapt to their culture of death worship, Jew-hatred, sadistic violence, and premodern, sacrificial religiosity.

So human history -- i.e., history, as opposed to mere biology -- has a common beginning. But does it have a common end? This has always been the dream of (classical) liberals, that human groups evolve through kinship groups, to kingdoms, to liberal democracies, so that at any given time, different groups will inhabit different psychopiritual/developmental spaces.

However, the modern liberal has abandoned this notion as a Euro/ethnocentric atavism, and regards all cultures as equally precious and worthy of our respect. Thus, for example, our effort to lift Iraq out of tribal tyranny and into liberal democracy is condemned by the modern left as a literal genocide.

Now, each human culture also centers around a divine revelation at its origin. In other words, there is no culture that doesn't have a vertical source through which it acquires both its meaning and its legitimacy. There was a time, not too long ago, when men were generally unaware of the diverse revelations at the origin of different cultures.

Or, if they were recognized, then they were dismissed as error, or fantasy, or barbarism. Each culture assumes that it has been vouchsafed the Revelation, so there is nothing whatsoever that is unique about the Jews, for example, and their self-understanding as the "chosen people."

Today, all of the so-called revelations are in mutual contact, so there is no hiding the fact that there are sharp theological differences between human groups.

But in truth, even within groups, there has rarely been unanimity about the meaning of revelation, at least in the absence of coercion and violence. For example, there has never been a time that Christians have agreed on the meaning and implications of its defining events, the Incarnation and the Resurrection.

This is emphasized in a book I recently read, Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. I didn't really care for the book, but there is no gainsaying the author's well-documented point that Christianity -- just like Judaism -- has really consisted of one long argument, only occasionally without violence breaking out.

I don't blame the violence on Christianity, since there is nothing in it that would justify such behavior. Rather, I blame it on man. Still, what is it about the revelation that prevents it from getting through the thick skulls of its adherents? Is it just that mankind truly is that sick and depraved, so that even the strongest medicine has little effect? Or is there some defect in the message that prevents it from having the intended effect, or that is too easily swamped by man's mind parasites?

When we think of real progress -- and progress as we understand it was really only unleashed a few hundred years ago, with the scientific revolution, free markets, and liberal democracy -- we think of a movement from particularity to universality. In other words, science and economics increasingly came to revolve around universal principles that applied to all mankind, regardless of culture.

And mankind made a huge evolutionary leap when it also discovered universal political principles, e.g., life, liberty, property, the rule of law, consent of the governed, etc.

But while even barbarous governments such as Iran or North Korea are on the same page vis-a-vis the universality of nuclear physics, here at home we have our own political left, with whom we are still engaged in the battle of 1776 over universal political principles. Same old tea party against the same statist elites who would deny the universal truth of our liberty, property, and individuality.

As you know, I've been at a certain impasse recently. It's not that I have writer's block or anything like that. No, I could continue writing about the same things until I lose every last reader. The impasse has to do with whether religion must "push ahead" or remain frozen, as it were, in our present and/or traditional understanding. And as you may not know, this struggle takes place in my very own being, in that I have equal respect for certain sages and spiritual authorities who come down on opposite sides of this question.

Schuon, for example, was a strict traditionalist who believed that revelation was handed down by God, and that was that. He even situated the human cultural norm in premodern times, something that I could never go along with under any circumstances. Rather, I greatly value modernity, even though I am fully aware of its spiritual dark side. But there is always a spiritual dark side, man being what he is.

Shifting gears for a moment, I was arrested by a passage in one of Balthasar's book, in which he discusses Vatican II and its more generous -- evolved? -- attitude toward other revelations. I'll just quote him, but then I have to get ready for work:

"God's purpose after all was not merely to redeem the Church, but to save the world; the grace he has bestowed upon the world in Jesus Christ must of necessity flood over the boundaries of the visible Church, even though the Church continues to be seen as a kind of focal point of grace....

"For centuries now, theology has spoken of a 'baptism by desire,' that is, a baptism received by those who according to their limited insights have resolutely involved themselves in the kind of activity that contributes most to the welfare of their fellow men and of the world as a whole. These men are received and sustained by God's grace and are made invisible members of the visible Church....

"God's grace is bestowed in every part of the world because the 'whole Christ' fills the world with his presence.... [A]ll men who struggle for the salvation and advancement of the human race in the spirit of self-sacrificing activity are united together in a living, quasi-religious union."

Call it the Scattered Brotherhood of the Vertical Diaspora.

40 Comments:

Blogger Kurt said...

Now that's a hearty breakfast, amigo! Two very interesting thoughts jump out at me: first, the idea that each culture had a unique idea of the divine/divine revelation at its core. I would add that when this unique idea of the divine is shown to be powerless the culture collapses, i.e. Japan after WW II, Native Americans after the end of the Indian Wars, the Incas, Aztecs, etc. Each culture was 'broken' when their divine ideal was overthrown. None has since recovered.
The second point is on universal salvation / who gets saved / all religions can't all be correct, can they? I've been wrestling with this a lot, recently. So far all I have is:
How big is your God?
If everyone on earth pointed 'up' at the same time, we would be pointing in different directions but we would all be pointed at the sky.
We will all end up where we have been heading, (one step at a time...) in our lives, but our lives do not end when we leave this world.
Judge a tree by its fruit.
Sorry to ramble, but thanks for breakfast!
Kurt

9/09/2010 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Kurt says:

"Japan after WW II, Native Americans after the end of the Indian Wars, the Incas, Aztecs, etc. Each culture was 'broken' when their divine ideal was overthrown. None has since recovered."

I'm going to riff on Spengler here.

In each case, the culture in question was overwhelmed by the so-called High Culture of the West in it's rising Culture epoch.

When a non-High Culture is overcome by a High Culture, I don't think it CAN recover, because it was essentially overwelmed by a culture with a larger amplitude and more complex waves. Rising High Cultures naturally overwhelm weaker (in amplitude and complexity) cultures.

9/09/2010 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Once it is projected and "crystalized," culture then shapes its individual members, often in ways that foreclose their further evolution. "

It's image may be true, but when under the peoples examination if that image becomes pixilated and is unable to deepen or expand... it shatters, and I suppose must shatter it's individual members as well. If that crystallized culture gets sufficiently rebuked by another on the move (and aided by their own recognition of their pixilated brittleness)... poof! Apoclaypse... and if that collision shatters the other's in turn, then a double whammy apocalypse and dark ages.

Back to the ol' draw-in' board.

"Each culture assumes that it has been vouchsafed the Revelation, so there is nothing whatsoever that is unique about the Jews, for example, and their self-understanding as the "chosen people.""

Chat up your friendly nayborehoodlum leftist for emPyrrhicull proof of this.

"Rather, I blame it on man. Still, what is it about the revelation that prevents it from getting through the thick skulls of its adherents?"

I suspect it's the same thing that enables it to get through... the willingness to choose to understand it (with heavy emphasis on under and stand)... or not.

"The impasse has to do with whether religion must "push ahead" or remain frozen, as it were, in our present and/or traditional understanding."

My bet is that it's our mistaking the outward movements for the inwardly-outward movement... a picture can only be painted so clearly for you... at some point it's up to you (I) to recognize that it's not a landscape, or even a self-portrait, but a mirror. You look at it, not to look at it (narcissus), but to see, adjust, and move on.

If we just stand there staring... we're lost or stuck.
We can only stand between the two options for so long, like Buridan's ass, before we starve or shatter, and there's only so much we individually can do to get the rest of us to choose to make the choice.

But the choice will be made.

Well I'm feeling just cheery again.

Sheesh.

9/09/2010 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Prior generations, to some extent, will determine the destiny of future generations. There are things we cannot do because of the actions of our ancestors, and some things we can do that they could not – because of their choices. So it will be with our descendants. Or, as One said, the righteous will be blessed for generations, and the wicked will be cursed to the third and fourth generation – that is, they will suffer for the sins of the fathers. It’s not because God punishes the innocent and blesses the wicked, but because the choices of a generation reverberate through history.

May He have mercy on our children’s children.

9/09/2010 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Today's post touches on last Friday's conversation with Joseph. Of course, he was asking why Bob isn't Catholic, but I jumped in anyway because I ask myself the same question with some frequency. Rock-pig-squeal.

His take also came across to me as a bit obnoxious, maybe because in his initial questioning he made reference to two sources - the Pope and the Sertillanges book - as though if only one were to read those two things, everything would be made clear and no spiritually sane person could choose not to be Catholic.

Anyway, today's post is as good an answer why as any I could have come up with.

I don't blame the violence on Christianity, since there is nothing in it that would justify such behavior.

I'm reminded of the fights that have broken out between Orthodox priests at Jesus' tomb on Palm Sunday. Sometime, people are so certain of their revelation they completely lose sight of the Revelation.

9/09/2010 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Kurt said “Each culture was 'broken' when their divine ideal was overthrown. None has since recovered.”
JP said “In each case, the culture in question was overwhelmed by the so-called High Culture of the West in it's rising Culture epoch.”

We seem to be noodling similar past-ah today.

“When a non-High Culture is overcome by a High Culture, I don't think it CAN recover...”

With the exception of a few instances of certain high cultures at their peak, Greece, Rome, The West... I think it’s usually the case of the non-high culture overcoming the high and thunderstruck culture... and that’s certainly the case we’re confronting today. But as bleak as it may seem, I don’t think it’s true that we cannot overcome the confrontation... but I do think we’ve reached the point where we can no longer roll forward on the strength of an un-comprehended momentum.

We must choose to not only confront, but to comprehend ourselves... or prove that there is no further depth attainable in the resolution of our image.

Doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the Image... just the mega-pixels of the current camera being used.

9/09/2010 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "Sometime, people are so certain of their revelation they completely lose sight of the Revelation."

Yep.

9/09/2010 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Van says:

"With the exception of a few instances of certain high cultures at their peak, Greece, Rome, The West... I think it’s usually the case of the non-high culture overcoming the high and thunderstruck culture..."\

That's the slowly declining Civiliation phase of the High Culture.

I was talking about the rising Culture phase of the High Culture.

We are in the Civilization phase of the West now.

I don't think you can reverse it.

I think you have to start a new High Culture.

9/09/2010 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of cultural differences, I watched the movie Babies a couple weeks ago. I thought it was an interesting cultural study. Particularly amusing was the juxtaposition of San Francisco hippie parents singing "The Earth is our Mother; she will take care of us" in a modern building surrounded by every benefit of modernity, while the Namibian family is literally lounging in the dirt, sheltered from the desert sun by a grass roof and a mud wall. If the hippies think the Earth is so great, why don't they live according to their ideals?

9/09/2010 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Mushroom says:

"Prior generations, to some extent, will determine the destiny of future generations. There are things we cannot do because of the actions of our ancestors, and some things we can do that they could not – because of their choices."

Yep.

And this applies to life choices in individuals, as well. I'm in my unpleasant situation today because of bad choices made in my past. Hence, my anger at myself.

9/09/2010 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, that's the toughest part.

From the our Father:

And forgive us our sins/ trespasses/ debts (depending on the translation)
As we forgive those who trespass against us...

The key is that among those who trespass against us is ourselves.

If God can forgive you, then who are you to hold yourself against you?

Again, easier said than done, but when done it becomes possible to move forward...

9/09/2010 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

JP said "That's the slowly declining Civiliation phase of the High Culture."

Yeah... same difference for this purpose, but I've got a lot of differences with Spengler.

"I don't think you can reverse it."

Buffalo Cookies. Is it likely? That's a question of a different color, but it's definitely reversible. (Julie's comment had a couple clues how)

"I think you have to start a new High Culture."

No need when you've already got one that has no limitations (or at least far fewer than all the other leading brands).
Just have to declutter, rediscover, understand and become cultured again for the first time.

I wonder how much of those two statements you are directing towards the culture, and how much towards yourself?
(and the difference would be...?)

9/09/2010 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

A new post just in time to try out my new iPhone 4. Screen is far more clear than the last iPhone. Great for catching up on OC posts while waiting for yet another delayed flight.

9/09/2010 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Kurt said...

What was new for me was Bob's direct linkage between the power of a given culture, and its view of the divine, and hence, of themselves. I had never thought of that before!
Seems to me that there are three broad categories of divine cultural revelation:
1) God is Master, we are slaves
2) God is Lord, we are servants
3) God is Father, we are family
With each of these three comes an increasing level of individual human liberty:
1) If I am a slave then I'll just do the minimum since it won't make any difference.
2) If I am a servant then I will just do my duty and expect to be rewarded accordingly.
3) If I am a family member then everything I do matters, to myself and to the rest of my family, the possibilities are endless (in both directions) and I am free to choose God or not.
The Father-Family option formed the basis for the growth of all individual liberties in the West; it spelled the end of the divine right of kings, various aristocracies, slavery, the subjugation of women, representative democracy, etc. If it is God who gives us our liberty as members of His family, then who are you, Mr. Aristocrat, to keep those liberties from me?
But now we see the decline of the Western World as its secular societies drift back to a Lord-Servant and even a Master-Slave world-view. Is anyone suprised to find that if you substitute the Almighty State for Almighty God that there is no basis for individual liberty? 'For the greater good' is just the whip of the taskmaster dressed in flowery prose...

Kurt

9/09/2010 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Tigtog, I don't know what it was but Blogger really doesn't seem to like your comment. Perhaps some different phrasing is in order...

9/09/2010 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Julie, can't explain it, but my comment never sticks after I post. I will try once more and see.

9/09/2010 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Blogger was disappearing comments a couple of weeks ago too.

9/09/2010 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Weird. You seem to be suffering from Van syndrome.

If it makes you feel any better, everyone who subscribes via email still gets it in the inbox. Sometimes multiple times...

9/09/2010 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Tigtog said "Do we forgo temptation to please God or to earn our titles honestly?"

A real quick comment before my 17yr old son celebrates becoming an 18yr old, but I'd say both misses the mark big time.

'It isn't true because it's logical, it's logical because it's true' etc.

See Plato's Euthyphro for a first pass at the issue, and I'm sure Nomo or others can pluck out the relevant biblical passages, and I'm betting Gagdad has a point or two as well.

9/09/2010 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said to Tigtog "If it makes you feel any better, everyone who subscribes via email still gets it in the inbox. Sometimes multiple times... "

Yep, about 8 times or so.

;-)

I was the blogger target yesterday.

9/09/2010 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

Last Try

To Gagdad re: The 3rd Dimension

I have noticed a strong trend in the comments concerning intergenerational duties and gifts. I know I have posited this before, but what all the comments are alluding to is a third dimension added to the horizontal and vertical. I know it could be considered ancestor worship, and is in several places, but this third dimension is totally unique to only humans, is human created as you say (see history) and yet has enormous spiritual pull on people.

We are traveling agents through time with responsibilities.

I read from yesterdays blog that JP feels his life a bore with no direction. JP read the above statement and rethink. You are a father, a husband, a son and then someone called JP. Your titles give you meaning and direction. You may find them boring, but they do give direction and meaning.

Gagdad, I can't tell you what to think or write, but your model needs some girth added to it.

Do we forgo temptation to please God or to earn our titles honestly?

9/09/2010 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

Okay, its there for a few minutes, going to try a post this follow up and see what sticks. If all fails, I will go watch football.

9/09/2010 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

I give up.

9/09/2010 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Van - congrats to the 18th birthday boy, er, man.

My nephew turned 18 last year. I admit it, I cried. Time flies.

9/09/2010 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Tigtog: I think you might be a victim of blogger's more aggressive spam detection system. I'll just republish your comment, but in the future, you might want to rephrase "needs some girth added to it."

***

To Gagdad re: The 3rd Dimension

I have noticed a strong trend in the comments concerning intergenerational duties and gifts. I know I have posited this before, but what all the comments are alluding to is a third dimension added to the horizontal and vertical. I know it could be considered ancestor worship, and is in several places, but this third dimension is totally unique to only humans, is human created as you say (see history) and yet has enormous spiritual pull on people.

We are traveling agents through time with responsibilities.

I read from yesterdays blog that JP feels his life a bore with no direction. JP read the above statement and rethink. You are a father, a husband, a son and then someone called JP. Your titles give you meaning and direction. You may find them boring, but they do give direction and meaning.

Gagdad, I can't tell you what to think or write, but your model needs some girth added to it.

Do we forgo temptation to please God or to earn our titles honestly?

9/09/2010 06:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh G. said...

Hey folks -- been lurking for a few years. Thanks for all the light Bob (and chorus of commenters). I have been deeply impacted. This line of inquiry is a great one. Any of you folks read Jacques Barzun? I'm reading From Dawn to Decadence -- his magnum opus on the rise and fall of western cultural life over the past 500 years. Just started, but I'm curious to see the backdrop for his notion of culture-bearers unfold, and perhaps clues that might inform The Impasse.

Quick Coontrail -- I'm a somewhat recent Catholic convert from a variegated conservative American evangelical background. Settled into Catholicism primarily because of the Eucharist, Apolostic origin, and general Western comfort. Lacking a more developed framework, I simplistically view churches closer to the Apostolic source as "safer" in terms of sacramental validity. Perhaps I'm hijacking this thread, but I'd love to hear any thoughts you or your commenters have on how a seeker might approach the sacraments outside of (for the sake of discussion) those in communion with Catholic, EO, or some Lutheran/Anglican churches.

9/09/2010 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

but in the future, you might want to rephrase "needs some girth added to it."

Heh - and yet, somehow "gets it in the inbox" made it through...

***

I'd love to hear any thoughts you or your commenters have on how a seeker might approach the sacraments outside of (for the sake of discussion) those in communion with Catholic, EO, or some Lutheran/Anglican churches.

Hi Josh. Sounds like it could be an interesting question, except (and maybe it's just me) the question is a tad fuzzy. Could you clarify a bit?

9/09/2010 10:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob wrote:

"The impasse has to do with whether religion must "push ahead" or remain frozen, as it were, in our present and/or traditional understanding."

I'm surprised to her of a conflict or impasse. I thought you were firmly in the Aurobindo camp.

That camp is in the affirmative. Religion must push ahead.

Aurobindonianas assert the entire cosmos is progressive and that religion is a side effect or penumbra around the cutting edge of the advance, which is Mind.

Aurobindo is gone but now I push on, with whomever has the nerve to follow. I tell you this: what you seek is found in the intuition. The better you can develop this faculty of mind, the more you place yourself to the forefront of the movement for which the Cosmos was created.

Use your intuition. Quiet your mind and ask the question: Progress, or stasis? You will discern that resting on the laurels of what has been done or on prior reveleation is not the way.

You already know that progress is the way. The elements that are unsure are atavistic and vetigial. Pay them no heed.

9/10/2010 12:06:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

By the time the Old Testament was compiled, nobody felt the need to explain why God was having conversations with Balaam (the guy who shows us that there is something to learn even by listening to an ass). Balaam was not a Hebrew - in fact, he seems to have never heard of Israel before he was hired to curse them - and yet he was an accomplished prophet.

There have been various explanations made for this later, but the simplest explanation is that God does in fact not mind talking to heathens.

Israel has its historical mission (still), and Christianity in its narrow sense likewise. In a broader sense, Christianity is universal. It is far deeper and wider than the organized church, and has echoed off the shores of distant lands long before the physical incarnation.

The first Christians were not going "Hey we've got a new and better religion!", they were "That which you have worshiped without knowing it, we know it and we've come to tell you."

9/10/2010 02:17:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

"As you know, I've been at a certain impasse recently."

That makes two of us. I mean, I think I know what you're beating around. Maybe the good thing is you're able to see it. That's what this post is about, isn't it?

Great post, Bob. Reads like one continuous thought. Even you're voice sounds different. I hope you felt like, "man, I missed "being in here"".

9/10/2010 05:09:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Magnus,
He came to.. "fulfill the Law". And then there is Holy Saturday where no one is off the hook, unless everyone is.

9/10/2010 05:12:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Van says:

""I don't think you can reverse it."

Buffalo Cookies. Is it likely? That's a question of a different color, but it's definitely reversible. (Julie's comment had a couple clues how)

"I think you have to start a new High Culture."

No need when you've already got one that has no limitations (or at least far fewer than all the other leading brands).
Just have to declutter, rediscover, understand and become cultured again for the first time.

I wonder how much of those two statements you are directing towards the culture, and how much towards yourself?
(and the difference would be...?)"

I'm definitely not directing those statements toward myself. I'm not being fatalistic, I'm actually being optimistic.

I'm just thinking of culture as massive fractal thoughts unrolled through time using Spengler's Civilization Theory as a baseline.

For instance, in Greece/Rome, you had the emphasis on the local. In the West you have the emphasis on reaching toward infinity.

When I say that you have to start a new "high culture", what I'm saying is that you need a new overlying fractal thought, with the previous thought (reaching toward infinity) having become exahusted over time.

For instance, Greece/Rome transitioned into Byzantium, which had a distinctly different focus than the former, and ultimately, you have the West which has a distinctly different focus than either Greece/Rome or Byzantium.

New ideas are always introduced and you really can't turn back.

For instance, you can't reverse any of the Spiritual Awakenings. They brought new underlying thoughts to the culture. We are now living with the after effects of the last awakening, the 1960s.

There will be a new focus in the future and we will end up with a new High Culture, as different from the West as the West is differnt than Greece/Rome or Byzantium.

There will be temporal and material continuity, but there will be distinctly different thoughts, arts, and culture.

We are now in a crisis era, basically the opposite point of an awakening, where spirituality is at a low and materialism is at a high (what it really is is the working out of the vertical on the horizontal for this go-round).

Just a cultural heart-beat.

9/10/2010 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Bob says:

"In this regard, culture is an adaptation, partly to the external environment, but much more importantly, to the interior world of human subjectivity and the gift/curse of self-awareness. Once it is projected and "crystalized," culture then shapes its individual members, often in ways that foreclose their further evolution. You might say that culture is an evolutionary "niche," except that it is a manmade one to which we must then adapt. In so doing, we are "adapting to mindedness," as I put it in the book.

For example, if I were born in the Palestinian terrortories, I would undoubtedly be forced to adapt to their culture of death worship, Jew-hatred, sadistic violence, and premodern, sacrificial religiosity."

I never even really adapted to modern American culture.

Although I go through life going through the motions of being normal.

I'd be much more home in a utopian-esqe Puritian/Victorian/1950's culture. Preferably one without organized sports, drugs, manual labor, rock music, teenage rebellion, non-English speaking people, stupid people, poor people, rich people, and no-fault divorce.

I think that sums up my political-cultural position quite nicely.

9/10/2010 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I'd be much more home in a utopian-esqe...

Sounds like a nice enough place.

Life is so messy, isn't it? And dealing with people even more so.

Of course, that's what allows it to be so full of wonder and mystery...

9/10/2010 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Nice utopia. Wrong species.

or

Nice utopia. If you can get it.

9/10/2010 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

JP said “I'm just thinking of culture as massive fractal thoughts unrolled through time using Spengler's Civilization Theory as a baseline.”

Let me rephrase what I said. Since I replied to reversing, that sounds as if I think you can reverse a culture - and I don't think you can reverse time or cultures.

Forward's the only option. However, given that the best possible destination has already been discovered, and we know how to get there, then going forward and arriving there, from here, requires examining our trail and de-cluttering it, discovering what it really is, understanding what that means, and becoming members of that culture, which for us would be for the first time.

"I'm definitely not directing those statements toward myself."

I'd really like to dig into that one... but I don't have the time today, and it'd require borrowing Gagdad's professional sheepskin, which I've no credentialed qualifications for, so I probably shouldn't.

But.

Do you not notice a similarity between your comment about the culture, and your comment about yourself? I do, and I don't mean in any fatalistic manner, but diagnostically.
(break)

9/10/2010 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont)

I'll dodge the Spengler details, I remember that superficially he had some interesting points, but I think he was deeply off regarding causes & principles... but it's been awhile and I don't have the materials or my notes at hand.

"New ideas are always introduced and you really can't turn back."

Agreed.

"For instance, you can't reverse any of the Spiritual Awakenings. They brought new underlying thoughts to the culture. We are now living with the after effects of the last awakening, the 1960s."

Disagreed. There was no 'Awakening', spiritual or otherwise, if you take awakening to mean becoming more aware of a truth, there was only shrouding, denying and regressively focusing attention upon philosophical errors and falsehoods - it was Regress, not Progress, and hence had no part in a spiritual awakening.

While there may have been some superficial focus upon lesser aspects of 'freedom', it was on the whole, unbalanced, grotesque and contained no progress.

"There will be a new focus in the future and we will end up with a new High Culture, as different from the West as the West is different than Greece/Rome or Byzantium."

Nope again. There may be a future culture which focuses upon the same highpoints which we once did, but it will be no newer nor higher, anymore than a new group of hikers climbing the same peak someone else once did, finds themselves at the pinnacle of a new peak.
(argh...)

9/10/2010 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(again)

"There will be temporal and material continuity, but there will be distinctly different thoughts, arts, and culture."

That future culture may dress differently or arrange their tents upon the peak in a different layout, but that's mere fashion, not fundamentals, and in no fundamental sense will such a time be a 'new high culture', at least not in the way that Greece improved upon the previous ages of darkness, or in how Rome was a new high culture improving upon Greece, or England improving on Rome, or in the sense that our Founders had improved upon Britain.

Ol' Silent
Cal Coolidge said it best:

"About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers. "

The pinnacle has already been reached, and we've only fallen away from it, and like disoriented divers who plunge deeper while thinking they're swimming for the surface, they may think they are making progress, but truly, the 'progressive' is only Pro-Regression.

"We are now in a crisis era, basically the opposite point of an awakening"

We're definitely in a crisis area, but maybe less at an opposite, than back at the base of the mountain. There’s no ‘going back’ to the top, except by way of climbing forwards and upwards... again. But the climb has the full possibility of being easier the second time around – we’ve already got the map, the mountain hasn’t changed, and to get there we need only open our eyes, follow the path and begin climbing once again.

9/10/2010 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Van,
a new high culture does not negate the eternal truth known in a previous wave, rather it contains them together with new truths in such a way that they are seen to be connected, part of a greater whole, where they were formerly seen standing alone.

After thousands of years, the rules of Archimedes and Pythagoras are still valid, but many other branches of physics and mathematics have come into being since then.

Even when we have absolute knowledge, we do not have complete knowledge.

Barring infernal intervention, our culture will and must be surpassed. Not negated, but included and enhanced in new directions.

9/10/2010 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Magnus said “After thousands of years, the rules of Archimedes and Pythagoras are still valid, but many other branches of physics and mathematics have come into being since then.”

True, but that is what I meant about our culture, Founders Era, True is True, it doesn’t get update, perhaps added to and enlarged, but not changed.

But I do see you’ve got a point, I was to narrowed on the political skew, primarily on the proregressives claim to progress, so yep, my comment came up a bit short outside that area.

9/10/2010 04:12:00 PM  

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