Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Meandertale Man with a Sinuous Bridge to Tell

As Colonel Beaglehole has said many times from deep inside his opium den, it's a miracle that history can get anywhere at all when we're not even allowed to begin the barmy enterprise with the correct premise.

"I say, if you don't know what Man is or what he is for, then what bloody difference does it make what mountainous climbs he's accomplished or what mutinous crimes he's accompliced? He might have done this, or he might have done that, but since he has no essence and no cosmic role, then it doesn't really matter, now does it?"

Now where's my blasted hookah?!

But Christopher Dawson -- who has his coonological orthoducks in a row -- begins with the idea that man is the metaxy, or bridge, between the material and spiritual worlds.

Hey, that sounds familiar. Didn't I sapiens a homologue in meander tall tale? Yes, here it is -- page 133, right next to the picture of that cute little guy caterpultering into a buddhafly. To paraphrase,

"Historians -- contemporary ones, anyway -- no longer presume to know the 'purpose' of history. Without question they tell us about causes and motivations within history, but they steer quite clear of asking what is the actual point of history. And understanding the point of history is admittedly quite difficult -- if not impossible -- if one doesn't know what a human being is."

Indeed, "the problem is compounded for a mere human being working with only human sources, for how then can one stand outside the flow of historical events and gain any perspective on history, or have any stable frame of reference? If the historian is just a historically conditioned product of history, why should we pay any attention to him at all?"

The point is that the majority of secular historians would ironically dismiss Dawson because of his religiosity and "subjectivity," when he is the one who is being -- or at least trying to be -- objective, by placing history in its proper cosmic and spiritual context -- by understanding the flow of horizontal events in the light of an eternal vertical standard.

This is in accord with Tomberg, who conceptualizes history as a sort of whirlpool created by two opposing streams of influence, one horizontal, the other vertical:

"The spiritual-cultural history of mankind is the result on the one hand of the causes which are to be found in space and time, and on the other hand of the causes which are not to be found there, which are of a timeless and spaceless nature."

Or, to plagiaphrase Terence McKenna, history is just the burst of static between monkeys and God, as the eschatological object at the end of time -- call it O, if you like -- "mitigates and transforms the forward flow of entropic circumstance." Noetry in motion!

Wikipedians say that the metaxy is the "in-between" or "middle ground" between the divine realm and mankind. Eric Voegelin (who was influenced by Dawson) used the term to designate "the permanent place where man is in-between two poles of existence" such as infinite and finite, time and eternity, matter and spirit, form and substance, being and beyond-being, or -- would you believe? -- KAOS and CONTROL.

Voegelin also used it to mean the unchanging "template of the mind (or nous) in contrast to the dynamic and unordered flow of experiential consciousness." Which is why it's One Cosmos Under God for those who get smart.

Therefore, as Birzer writes, "Only by properly ordering himself between the two extremes and demands of the physical and metaphysical can man fulfill his purpose for the 'integration [of the material] in the universal order.'"

Thus, even if you are not overtly Christian, you can still see Christianity as our particular way (in the West) of conceptualizing and thinking about this over- or underlying metaphysical reality -- an unavoidably mythsemantical deuscourse as real and objective as mathematical discourse.

To put it another way, if you toss aside our Judeo-Christian wisdom tradition, as secular scholars have done, then you also throw out our traditional way of discussing the reality of man's role as cosmic mediator. You end up with mere de-mythologized horizontal history, and ultimately with a desiccated particularization of historical events, divorced from their origin and destiny, the alphOmega.

This intellectual fallforall encloses the mind in deconstruction, multiculturalism, "diversity," moral relativism, and the politically correct truthspeak of the left. In turn, this is why secularism is not just opposed to religion, but a substitute "religion of darkness" for infertile eggheads living in their ovary towers.

But the yolk's on them. When you worship at the ego-altar of secular extremism, you are engaging in a kind of primitive sacrifice of the One. It is a violent dismembering and therefore disre-membering of Unity, and as result, anti-human in the extreme. Instead of the white unity out of which the diversity of cosmic color emanates, you end up with the black unity of a chaotic blending of colors with no qualitative differences. Raw power then rushes in to fill in the void, and gravity takes care of the rest.

This is why the phony diversity of leftist college campuses results in such a stupifyingly bland and anti-intellectual pneumatosphere, where one is free to believe in anything but Reality.

The new intellectual boorbarians of the left are specifically opposed to man's role as metaxy, even if they cannot consciously understand what they do or why they do it. They are simply reenacting a timeless vertical drama, engaging in a sort of Black Mass involving a crucifiction stranger than fact -- the Crucifixion being the symbol par excellence of the link between human and divine -- only without resurrection.

All primitive sacrifice involves the attempt to steal and appropriate the life force of the sacrificial victim. But this force can only be given from above, not taken from below.

40 Comments:

Blogger Northern Bandit said...

those who get smart

I could use a cone of silence during certain interminable meetings with lawyers... Ninety-nine percent of the time they're just talking to their shoes.

11/17/2010 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

I have this little ritual where I buy a copy of the New Yorker on flights in or out of New York. Otherwise I never read it. Glad I did this time as there is a great article about the sublime Bettye La Vette. Googling around a bit today it seems like the article has actually produced a real bump in recognition for her, and she surely deserves it.

In the article, with reference to how she developed her talent, etc: "Jesus had nothing to do with it". Heh. Well Bettye there sure is something transcendent at work there.

11/17/2010 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

The new intellectual boorbarians of the left are specifically opposed to man's role as metaxy, even if they cannot consciously understand what they do or why they do it.

They are increasingly opposed to man, period.

A few days ago Bob pointed out that most conservatives would just as soon engage in political activity as little as possible. The internet has paradoxically allowed more people than ever before in history to make themselves heard while revealing that a sizable percentage of them have minds akin to an open sewer. HuffPo or Salon.com comment sections confirm this daily (as do, alas, the comments from a not insignificant number of those who consider themselves "conservative"). The follow-on point, that we must so engage as long as the Left is so energetically evil in our sphere.

Other parts of the anglosphere share many of the best traits of America, however they conspicuously lack strong constitutional protection for -- among other things -- freedom of speech. This freedom was protected by tradition in the UK and her children (Canada and Australia), though not through anything as robust as the US constitution. Therefore it came as little surprise when I heard while in Toronto last week that a major Canadian university has banned a student group from campus until they publicly state that they are "pro-choice". I don't care how much it insults "progressive" people -- there is no other word for such activity than evil. Hence we're stuck with a duty to perform at least some political action while we'd far prefer to be reading to our kids or listening to Bettye La Vette.

Then again, I suppose this has always been the case, and always will be until the end of history.

11/17/2010 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's very simple: the people who do not need or wish to be governed must fight against those who insist upon governing us.

11/17/2010 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

“And understanding the point of history is admittedly quite difficult -- if not impossible -- if one doesn't know what a human being is."

Funny you should say that. Just yesterday I was on my walk and saw that annoying bumper sticker “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”

Placing aside the gender -- which doesn’t matter either way -- the point is to make history?

See? I think this is our problem. Doesn’t even get into what kind of history – which of course would take you back logically to “what is man for”.

11/17/2010 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

“Or, to plagiaphrase Terence McKenna, history is just the burst of static between monkeys and God…”

Or history is just God saying, “Go ahead, I’ll wait.”

11/17/2010 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Besides, does this moron think Mary behaved poorly?

11/17/2010 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Ironically, I think, that bumper sticker was on a "New Beetle".

11/17/2010 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I guess we could say that the poorly behaved Eve helped cause history, but the well behaved Mary helped cure it.

11/17/2010 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"But the yolk's on them. When you worship at the ego-altar of secular extremism, you are engaging in a kind of primitive sacrifice of the One. It is a violent dismembering and therefore disre-membering of Unity, and as as result, anti-human in the extreme. Instead of the white unity out of which the diversity of cosmic color emanates, you end up with the black unity of a chaotic blending of colors with no qualitative differences. Raw power then rushes in to fill in the void, and gravity takes care of the rest."

That it is seen as an expression of 'freedom' and 'individuality' is the most baffling. What they (seemingly) don't get, is that "engaging in a kind of primitive sacrifice of the One" also involves an explicit sacrifice of the Self, of true individuality and the very possibility of freedom.

But... there I go, hatemongering again. Sheesh.

11/17/2010 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

“Well-behaved women rarely make history.”

I was going to say, "what about the female saints?" but Bob essentially beat me to it. Guess that's what I get for ambling in late.

It is a violent dismembering and therefore disre-membering of Unity...

This ties back into the idea that history isn't concrete. Whenever the tenured look back, particularly at American history, and try to make outrageous claims about those who have achieved a type of reverence in the past (eg. the homosexualization of Lincoln, and probably a few others) they are explicitly hacking history to pieces and reforming it in their own Frankensteinian image.

11/17/2010 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Speaking of points, does anyone know what is the point that is trying to be made by revealing the homosexualization of Lincoln?

11/17/2010 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

One could argue that people of an alternative lifestyle want it to be that way so they can have a historical icon of their own, someone who stood up for what was right even though the costs were horrific. I suspect one would be quite wrong, however.

No, usually it's because they love to dehumanize such icons in the minds of their imagined foes, the Rethug haters of today who revere greatness and supposedly also loathe anyone gay or brown or non-Christian, etc. If Lincoln was gay, we haters would have to hate him, because (they think we think) gay = evil and trumps any good he might have done.

They would tar him with sins they don't believe in, merely because they think we do, basically out of spite. Partially because they love to denigrate greatness, but mostly because they love to shit all over anything their ideological opponents truly love.

11/17/2010 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

At least, that's how it always comes across to me. Perhaps I'm off base, though.

11/17/2010 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

"Raw power rushes in to fill the void..."

The headline in our local paper announced the new ban on plastic grocery bags in unincorporated LA County. The article described an "activist" in attendance at the vote who was celebrating the event by dressing in plastic bags...

What kind of a vacuum must exist at the center of a person that they can get themselves passionate about plastic bags? These are people without a center, with no grounding whatsoever. They are free range totalitarians looking for something to control. The issue isn't bags, or second hand smoke, or global warming; it's a kind of insanity that seeks to impose its will on some- any part of peoples' lives. They live for this. It is their religion, and they are the fanatical puritans seeking to shove their anti-theology down our throats. And the bastards just won't give up.
I'm getting weary of this crap.

JWM

11/17/2010 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "Perhaps I'm off base, though."

Well... you may be off base, but if you are, I suspect it's only from stepping off home plate after scoring a homerun.

I've yet to see any of such historical vandalism which substantially did anything other than tear down what people might otherwise have found worth aspiring towards.

11/17/2010 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JWM said "They are free range totalitarians looking for something to control."

Now that's a keeper.

(BTW, the new book in "Wheel of Time" came out Nov 2nd (only one to go). I don't have it yet, but I've let on that my upcoming B-Day would be much better with it than without it.)

11/17/2010 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

JWM,
Well, you're not gonna make history with that attitude.
Look at plastic bag dude. He's gettin in done.

...and dress in 'em while you got 'em as they say.

Heck, Lincoln probably wore plastic bags.

11/17/2010 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. denigrating greatness, there's one more reason: because if the truly great prove to be just as fallen as some pervert hanging out on Fulsom Street, then what was so great about them? And conversely, thanks to symmetrical logic, any pervert hanging out on Fulsom Street becomes a daring revolutionary, struggling for freedom against the tyranny of small minds!

Van - Wheel of Time books are still coming out? I stopped reading right around book nine, I think. I loved trilogies when I was younger, but when scifi authors started to conflate "trilogy" with "series that became a good source of income, so let's not actually limit it to three or six or nine or twelve books, until the author's expiration date is up before there is any proper closure to the story," I kind of lost interest. I guess my attention span is a tad too short these days...

11/17/2010 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

RE Lincoln, here's an article from the NYT:

Finding Homosexual Threads in Lincoln's Legend

11/17/2010 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

His conclusion is that America's greatest president, the beacon of the Republican Party, was a gay man.

Bingo. You can bet your furry gray cap that if Lincoln had been a Democrat, that book would never have been written.

In addition, Lincoln was terrified of marriage to Mary Todd and once broke off their relationship. They eventually had four children.

Yes, clearly he was terrified of her womanliness. So scared he felt it necessary to expose himself to her cooties at least four times.

11/17/2010 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

Julie:
You too? That makes Rick, Van, Julie, and jwm stuck in the Wheel of Time ring. And I think there were a couple others from the early One Cosmos days, as well. I didn't read the last one, but I want to wait until the final last book is finally on the shelf before I start it out again at "Eye of the World". It should make a good year long read to finish the whole series.

JWM

11/17/2010 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

From the article:

"Herndon said Greene told him that Lincoln's thighs "were as perfect as a human being Could be."

So if some guy think Van's thighs are awesome, that makes Van gay?

11/17/2010 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"In addition, Lincoln was terrified of marriage to Mary Todd"

So there's is only one possible explanation for this?

11/17/2010 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Rick, lol - you're going to make me wake the baby...

JWM - that's a good idea. It's been years since I've read them, but I would like to start over again, some time when I know there's an end in sight. That's my other beef with trilogies - I hate getting into a storyline, then having to wait another year or two for the author to get the next book out, during which time I've forgotten many of the salient plot points and have to be re-introduced to the characters.

11/17/2010 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"Jean H. Baker, a former student of Mr. Donald's and the author of "Mary Todd Lincoln: a Biography" (W. W Norton, 1987), wrote the introduction to the book. She said that Lincoln's homosexuality would explain his tempestuous relationship with Mary Todd, and "some of her agonies and anxieties over their relationship."

"Some of the tempers emerged because Lincoln was so detached," Ms. Baker said in a telephone interview. "But I previously thought he was detached because he was thinking great things about his court cases, his debates with Douglas. Now I see there is another explanation."

'Would' explain? How about 'could' explain. Or..a 'possible' explanation. But probable? From that?

11/17/2010 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I can't accept credit for being a Wheel of Time fan (I don't know what it is).

11/17/2010 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

But probable? From that?

Right? Just off hand, I know of quite a few women who've had tempestuous marriages just like that; the men they married don't talk much nor emote much, and when the harpy, er, wifey starts getting all dramatic, they just get quieter, which usually just makes her more anxious and dramatic.

Silly me - I thought that was just how the men handled things, but clearly the truth is they're all gay.

Wheel of Time - fantasy "trilogy" by Robert Jordan.

11/17/2010 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

At the end of the article:

"Finding the truth is a sacred principal for historians, Mr. Chesson said, adding, "It's incumbent on us as scholars to present to readers material if historians have ignored it or swept it under the rug because they don't agree with it."

Still, if Lincoln was gay, how did it affect his presidency? Ms. Baker said that his outsider status would explain his independence and his ability to take anti-Establishment positions like the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation. As a homosexual, she said, "he would be on the margins of tradition."

"He is willing to be independent, to do what is right," she said. "It is invested in his soul, in his psyche and in his behavior."

Translation?: his gayness made his awesomeness possible. Without it, he would not have been "willing to do what is right."

11/17/2010 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Rick said "So if some guy think Van's thighs are awesome, that makes Van gay?"

Ok Hephaestion, settle down there.

wv:tringly
Now cut that out!

11/17/2010 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

:D
I hadn't read all the way to the bottom.

And thus, any pervert hanging out on Fulsom Street becomes a daring revolutionary, willing to be independent and do what feels right...

11/17/2010 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "Wheel of Time books are still coming out? I stopped reading right around book nine, I think."

Yeah... I know... but I'm a flogger... gotta stick it out to the end.

It did however cure me of ever beginning a supposed trilogy (which it advertised itself as going to be), before all three are completed and the Author is dead. Of course... Robert Jordon kinda squeaked out of both those failsafes... but... there ya go.

11/17/2010 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Whoa, Book 1 is 800 pages.
I'm out.
:-)

In college I used to try to take electives during the summer -- so I could concentrate on the core stuff during the regular part of the year. Anyway, one of them was Fantasy Lit.
I wish I remembered some of the titles. Some were really good books. But we had to read them so fast. I think we had to read the LOTR in like a week. But I'm not sure I'd have read it had I not read it then..

11/17/2010 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ricky said "800 pages"

Yeah, I know. Like a said: flogger.

11/17/2010 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

In one of the books the main character(s) turn into a ravens I think to cover more ground quicker.
Anyway, the writer spent a fair amount of time describing what it was like to be a raven.

I mention it in case it is a classic and some one knows which one. I'd like to read it again.

Maybe the raven thing is sort of a staple -- in like every other fantasy book -- and doesn't help much to narrow the list ;-)

11/17/2010 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I don't know which book the raven one is, but it sounds interesting.

re. the 800 pages, sure, that sounds like a lot but it's a much faster read than MOTT. Or even LOTR for that matter.

Speaking of which, I always found the first and last books fairly readable (skipping over most of the poems; Tolkien's painful prose probably played a strong role in turning me off poetry in general for a long while), but The Two Towers was an exercise in sheer flogging, even though I think it was the shortest of the three.

11/17/2010 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "Speaking of which, I always found the first and last books fairly readable (skipping over most of the poems; Tolkien's painful prose probably played a strong role in turning me off poetry in general for a long while)"

Skipping over? OMG... I poured over those... and when his son released his others, like the "The Lays of Beleriand", "Book of lost tales", etc, I bought them because of the poems!

"... The Two Towers was an exercise in sheer flogging, even though I think it was the shortest of the three."

(gasp!). As my grandma wouldn't said "You stay right there, I'm going to fetch a switch!"

wv:dally
No, I'm not gonna dally at all, I'm fetchin' a switch!

11/17/2010 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Hah - just thinking about the prose makes me positively drowsy ;)

***

Back to the post, that Dawson book looks interesting. I'd never heard of him.

From the reviews, this caught my eye for some reason:

"By today's standard of success/failure, Dawson's life seems a dismal failure, and yet isn't that the way of the prophets and saints?"

Also notable, that it was named one of the top eleven books of the year by the National Catholic Register, and yet still sits quite a long ways below the Amazon ranking of another author I know...

11/17/2010 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

dont miss Ann on the humour & mad misguidedness of the T[it]S[&]A

11/17/2010 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Completely off topic, but this cracks me up, though it was probably more apropos in the Clinton era. The main page is here, but comes with a language caveat; apparently, iPhones have issues with the words "duck" and, well, you can guess. Among other things.

Autocorrect - it's like random mad libs with a dash of insanity.

11/17/2010 07:32:00 PM  

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