Saturday, April 17, 2010

Coming to a Planet Near You: The Invasion of the Anthropoid Puppets

I suppose it would be fair to say that most people are living and acting in pornographic films, if we understand pornography more generally as a production devoid of transcendence, irrespective of the subject matter.

For when a human loses contact with transcendence, he is no longer properly human. Or, you could say that a human is the animal that transcends itself. And if a human fails to transcend himself, he inevitably sinks beneath himself. Sorry. Way it is.

Transcendence is like a funnel that opens up from the now. Picture an upside-down triangle, with its point at the now (importantly, there is another triangle below, with its point at the now as well). To transcend is to move up the triangle, where the space is wider and a man can breathe free. It is also of necessity a structured, hierarchical space, but we needn't get into that here. (I kind of like the image at the right, because it implies that the now is actually a kind of hologram created by the ascending and descending tendencies. As one moves up into the transcendent triangle, one can see that the upward-pointing one narrows, which would be the result of the world in general and mind parasites in particular having less influence over oneself.)

When we are trapped in a bad film, it is again as if we are in the meaningless line (the Death Train) or the repetitive circle (Groundhog Day). According to Mouravieff, "esoteric evolution" (let's just say spiritual growth) "is impossible as long as the film can always be considered as turning in the same circle. People who perform in such a film are those we have called anthropoids, puppets, the dead who, in the words of Jesus, 'believe themselves to be alive.'"

But growth into the triangle -- or what a Raccoon calls the colonization of the subjective horizon -- "starts when a man, by his conscious efforts, proves to be capable of breaking the circle and transforming it into an ascending spiral."

Now, before proceeding further, I would like to highlight a most excellent comment made by Magnus Noorwegenkøønen in broad nightlight, which you daytrippers may have missed. Not only is it true, but it is the substance of Truth, and speaks to the ubiquitous availability of nonlocal operators to assist us in our cosmic ascent:

Another amazing effect in spiritual aperture science: When your present expands to give room for a bit of eternity, you begin to get in contact with those who lived in eternity, such as saints or enlightened ones who lived long ago.

When you only have the needle-point now
[think of the upside-down triangle], the words of the eternals either make no sense or some pretty weird sense, but once you are in the same dimension as them, it is almost like they are talking to you face to face. It is just baffling. [No, not really, so long as one remembers that image of the expanding triangle.]

I believe this to be the meaning of Lao-Tzu's cryptic comment "When you are ready, the immortals will find you," and possibly the popular Buddhist saying "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." I expect Catholicism to have a similar concept, since it enlists the Christian saints on a regular basis.

You bet it does. In particular, this book I'm reading about Eckhart provides a kind of Meister key for understanding where he's coming from (which is literally noWhere and noTime). I hope to get into it in more detail in a later post, but the author's central insight is that Eckhart cannot be understood -- and can only be misunderstood -- if we attempt to grasp what he is saying outside the transcendent space from where he is transmitting.

(The book is challenging and somewhat repetitive, -- nor have I finished it -- so I can't give it an unqualified raccoomendation, especially for those who are not already somewhat familiar with Eckhart's thought; probably better to begin with McGinn's chapter on Eckhart in his Harvest of Mysticism, and then proceed to his outstanding The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart: The Man from Whom God Hid Nothing; the latter is also challenging, but at least it will help you determine whether you are Qualified.)

Put it this way. There are two ways to try to comprehend God, one of which is from man-to-God (↑), the other God-to-man (↓). These modes are quite distinct (though not separate), but in our day, people have tended to lump them together, as if God's communication will not be radically different from ours.

According to (my understanding of) Kelley, Eckhart is always speaking in the (↓) mode, and if we try to understand it in the (↑), we will only miss the whole point (which some unfortunately boneheaded Church authorities did when they decided to investigate him, and which contemporary liberal theologians such as Matthew Fox do when they try to convert him to some sort of Buddhist environmentalist neo-Marxist).

Back to Mouravieff. He says that "The spiral [which is obviously a kind of triangle if looked at in two dimensions] represents an intermediate state between the position where the human Personality is found to be trapped in the film, which revolves mechanically in a way hardly separated from the eternal plane," and one's true individuality (which again must partake of transcendence).

True progression in time -- or "spiritual evolution" -- does not take place until we convert the circle into the spiral, a spiral which never ends, since it begins in time but ascends all the way to eternity, i.e., the timeless. And once one touches the timeless, it is useless to try to understand it in (merely) human terms.

Here again, this is where Eckhart comes in, at least according to Kelley. He makes the same point in many different ways, -- again, the book is repetitive; for example, he quotes John Tauler, one of Eckhart's disciples, who said that

"The wonderful Master spoke of that pure knowledge that knows no form or creaturely way.... He spoke in terms of eternity and you (regrettably) understood [him] in terms of time." (This is clearly the error people make in imagining that Eckhart is not fully orthodox, or that he's some kind of pantheistic liberal wacktivist.)

Think of Jesus, who is the quintessential instance of (↓). Therefore, in order to truly begin to understand him, we cannot do so from the standpoint of (↑). Rather, in order to "imitate him," -- or conform to his Truth -- we too must enter the "descending" mode of (↓). The meek shall inherit the earth, the wisdom of God is folly to the world, become as little children, seek ye first the Kingdom of Slack, shunyada yada yada.

Now, having said that, it is by no means easy to do this. Eckhart is clearly not for everyone. But if one has the calling for this particular path, then, as Kelley says, "it opens up truly unlimited possibilities of insight." One reason for this is that Eckhart does not arbitrarily stop at this or that particular knowledge -- as every lesser theology, philosophy, or ideology must do -- but at knowledge (or Truth) itself, which is unlimited by any human constraint, for it is the Truth of truth, the Experience of experience, the Subject of subjectivity, the Is of every it and the I of every am.

To be continued....

Friday, April 16, 2010

Getting the Puck Out of the Way and Collaborating with God On the Movie of Your Life

Continuing with this idea of life as a movie, commenter Lance wants to know who wrote his particular screenplay. Did he write it? Did he collaborate with God? Is it written by the world around him -- which would be equivalent to fate and contingency? If the Darwinians are correct, it is written by the genes. But who wrote the genes? If Shenk is correct, we play much larger role in shaping our genetic expression than previously thought (and either Shenk is right or Toots Mondello is wrong, a doctrinal impossibility and intrinsic absurdity).

This is a rather large subject to tackle with my remaining 50 minutes of blogtime. Some might say that it's best if one manages to write one's own screenplay, but if that happens, it's usually a tragedy, because it really means that it was written by the ego, and the ego did not write (create) itself.

Rather, the ego is a portion of externalized subjectivity adapted to the external (i.e., family, culture and historical circumstance) and internal world. Even worse, it is possible -- if not likely -- for mind parasites to have a covert hand in writing the screenplay, if not dominating the whole process.

As for God's role in the process, I'm tempted to revisit Balthasar's five volume Theo-Drama, but I don't have time to skim through 2000 pages.

There are answers to all the above questions, but for now let's just get back to what Mouravieff has to say on the subject, since he's the one who got us into it. He says that "Each human being, then, is born with his own particular film. This represents the field of action in which man is called to apply his conscious efforts."

And "For reasons we have already mentioned, exterior man, who lives in the system of Future-Past [i.e., the temporal line], cannot embrace in a single moment the ensemble of his film, nor even the part that contains his immediate future."

Which is why so many people can't appreciate the elementary truth that if they continue on their present course, they're likely to end up where they're headed.

Again, the reason for this is that the exterior man is so affixed to the present moment; and the more exterior, the more fixed (e.g., single issue activists, MSM journalists, political "junkies," anyone who loses perspective and histrionically elevates the present moment well beyond its importance). More ominously, just like the stage magician, the Conspiracy encourages you to rivet your attention on the present moment ("misdirection"), so that it may perform its sinister magic outside your narrow gaze.

Remember, the now is everything. But for that reason, it can also be nothing. In other words, properly understood, it is a prolongation of eternity, our one and only access to O. Improperly understood -- i.e., horizontally and externally -- it is just a kind of fleeting nothing between two nowheres, like the commercial between two TV programs.

In any event, in order to begin seeing the film, one must "enlarge the slot of [the] Present." The first thing that comes to mind is the great athlete who is able to seemingly slow down the game in order to see and do things other athletes can't. Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, Ted Williams -- all could open up seams in time in order to slow down events and then freely move around in the resultant slot. Perhaps you have to be a sports fan -- better yet, an athlete -- to understand how literal this is.

For example, I remember when I tried out for the high school basketball team. I was a very good player, but I was accustomed to playing by myself in the driveway, or one-on-one with friends, or HORSE, etc.

The first time I was inserted into an actual five-on-five, full court game, it was literally overwhelming, since I was indeed in the now, but there were so many things -- and potential things -- happening in the now, that I was mentally paralyzed. And it was all happening waaaay too fast.

It very much reminds me of jazz, in which the soloist is faced in each moment with an infinite field of possibilities that he must also instantaneously coordinate with the harmonic structure of the composition and with his fellow players. And no wonder why so many of those guys liked heroin, because few things are as effective in slowing down time. (Of course, Raccoons are content with our own Beer O'clock slackrament in order to dilate time.)

Baseball was much less of a problem for me, because there things more or less happen one at a time. Plus, I was a pitcher, so I could control the tempo myself. I never played organized football, but there too, most of the players have a very narrow responsibility on each play, and don't have to deal with the whole game, just the opponent immediately in front of them. But imagine how much the quarterback or running back have to slow things down in order to grasp what's going on and make and execute good decisions.

Interesting: Mouravieff says that if one is successful in widening the slot of the immediate present, it is as if a bit of the future slips in. This again makes sense to me in the context of sports; I think of Gretzky, who could pass the puck to places he just knew a teammate would be (and before the teammate knew it). Likewise, some goalies (Dominik Hasek comes to mind) just have a freakish ability to react to a shot an instant before the opposing player hits the puck.

Now, as long as a man lives in what Mouravieff calls the wilderness, his film "will unfold with mechanical inflexibility, and the Personality will remain entirely unchanged." To be truly "born again" signifies the move toward genuine individuality, which, of course, implies an original film: "By acquiring the gifts of the Holy Spirit appropriate to his nature, he progressively participates in real, objective existence, which finally characterizes his being. This is Salvation; liberation from the bonds of the film."

Importantly, unless one is liberated from this mechanical film, one cannot accomplish one's cosmic mission, being that one's real mission could only be a reflection of the true self. In other words, one's mission might be thought of as the horizontal prolongation of the true self within the field of time. Interestingly, this is reflected in something Paul said, (referenced by Mouravieff) in Romans 28-29:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom he foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

In other words, to address Lance's question, the second birth has much to do with abandoning the effort to write one's own script, and to begin collaborating with God. A Raccoon simply calls it O-->(¶).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Everybody's in Show Biz

From photography to cinematography. Mouravieff says that "Incomprehensible as it may seem, our life is truly a film produced in accordance with a script."

Okay, I'll bite. I mean, I live in a place where not only is everyone in a film, but everyone from my pool man to my Egyptian cabana boy is trying to sell a screenplay. Continue.

"Each human being then, is born with his own particular film" (italics not mine; Mouravieff just really likes to use them). Now, what he calls the exterior man (analogous to what Raccoons would call a Flatlander), because he lives his life in the two-dimensional line between past, present, and future, can never really be a witness to his own film.

Of course, this is my bag, since this touches on the task of the clinical psychologist, which is to discern the plot, recurring themes, conflicts, and major players in the patient's film, and share our film review with him. No thumbs for you!

This is why, as I have explained in the past, it turned out to be such a natural transition for me to go straight from film school to graduate school in psychology. Although I did not know it at the time -- for I was only just starting to critique -- and pan -- my own film, I was ultimately destined to be a film critic.

And of course, the sicker the patient, the worse the movie. Wait, I take that back. The sickest patients tend to live out films that are reminiscent of being in a funhouse. Everything about their lives takes on a kooky, surreal cast, which at times is hard to believe, for how can such weird or horrible things keep happening over and over to the same person?

I think it's just a matter of the person's exterior matching the interior, as every day, on a moment-by-moment basis, they are making choices and decisions based upon their own lack of a center, hence the failure to understand the film they're in and the role they're playing. In short, they create a surreal world because they themselves are one.

For example, what type of person marries Larry King? Or, just what kind of person does Larry King think would be willing to marry a decrepit ATM machine?

Schuon said something very interesting about the centerless man, who, by definition, cannot understand his own film, because it will appear so random, chaotic, or meaningless. Such people always ask why did this happen to me?, when they are precisely the type of people about whom it is unnecessary to ask that particular question. Imagine O.J., for example, sitting in his jail cell, asking Why me, Lord? Let us count the ways!

Anyway, in the aptly titled To Have a Center, Schuon discusses the type of people who live "on the fringe of themselves" and who therefore "give their blood to phantoms." The lives of such men will inevitably fall into a multitude of shifting "superficial idolatries" and "blind alleys leading to despair." Or, they will spend their lives trying to prop up the old idols or find newer and more exciting ones.

Such a person is immersed and dispersed in the impotent field of his own scattered subjectivity, and therefore "at the antipodes of the 'one thing needful.'" This is also why you are wasting your time arguing with such a centerless people, who have no knowledge of the dreary films they're living out. If such a person happens to be in the creative arts, their work generally "amounts to inventing aberrant stories in order to prove that two and two make five..." Michael Moore comes to mind. And if they are in politics or the media, their task amounts to convincing you that wrong is right and lies are truth. Michael Moore comes to mind.

A major problem for our culture is that, because its values are inverted, we often elevate the lowest caste to the highest -- hence, the production of a type of art that not only holds no appeal, but is disturbing to anyone who is remotely awake. The vile man not only likes such things, but is attracted to them precisely because they mirror his own disordered interior and therefore legitimize his sordid existence. People need Light, but if they can't see it, they will demand vivid Darkness instead (ironically, they call it "realism"). Gravity takes care of the rest.

The lowest caste, the chandala is characterized by a "decentralized subjectivity, centrifugal and without recognized limits" (one thinks of Tiger Woods). But in a deteriorating culture such as ours, the outcast becomes the in caste, the one everyone aspires to, for he seems the most "free." The centerless losers envy and idealize fellow losers such as Tiger Woods, just because the latter has the resources to live out the dreams and fantasies of his cosmic loserhood.

Of course, a centerless man appears "free," since he has broken free of his own -- and therefore God's -- axis. But the freedom is only illusory, for one only plunges into the waiting jaws of individual, collective, and cosmic mind parasites.

In a memorable passage, Schuon describes the man who exhibits "a tendency to realize those psychological possibilities that are excluded for others; hence his proneness to transgression; he finds his satisfaction in what others reject" and "exhausts those possibilities which no one else is willing to touch."

Such a person may be "capable of 'everything and nothing.'" I think of someone, for example, like John Lennon, who, if he had not been successful in music, would have likely ended up in jail or worse. He was completely ungovernable, least of all by himself. And yet, this is hardly to say that he was without talent. Indeed, as Schuon goes on to say, such a person may even be "protean if he is gifted," but in my experience, the productivity is short-lived before becoming repetitive, exhausted, or trite -- as indeed occurred with Lennon.

Another fascinating observation by Schuon is that, through the law of inverse analogy, such a person can actually resemble certain saints, and can you think of a celebrity who was more sanctified by the boomer generation than John Lennon? I well understand the impulse, because I happen to be one of those people who venerated him in my youth, as if he had anything useful or important to say beyond rock on! Which is not nothing. I still listen to his immortal version of Twist and Shout on a regular basis.

Still, a little perspective is needed in order to place the legitimate urge to rock in the proper context. It cannot be a way of life, or one ends up at the farthest fringes of the cosmos, like Bruce Springsteen or Courtney Love. Fortunately, most of these people also live in gated communities, which at least affords us a little protection from them.

Oops. Out of time. To be continued....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Swingin' Affair With God

While we're discussing Boris Mouravieff, I should point out for those unfamiliar with the name that he was an Orthodox Christian with a Gurdjieff-Ouspenskian (Fourth Way) slant, somewhat similar to how Unknown Friend is a Catholic with a hermetic slant.

As it so happens, I first bumped into both gentlemen in the same book, Inner Christianity, the latter of which also led to Robin Amis' A Different Christianity: Early Christian Esotericism and Modern Thought. It is fair to say that all of these books were central in helping me to get over my Jesus willies once and for all, being that they present Christianity in terms a Raccoon can sink his mischievous claws into.

Not to say that I agree with everything Mouravieff has to say. To the contrary, much of what he says strikes me as overly occult, gnostic (in the pejorative sense), and frankly unOrthodox. He maintains that he was not copying Ouspensky or Gurdjieff, but that he was dealing with the original sources found in esoteric Christianity, of which Gurdjieff's work was a partial reconstruction and sometimes fabrication.

Either way, when people start talking about "secret knowledge," it's time to hold onto your wallet. Yes, there is secret knowledge, but there is no real need to hide it from others (elementary discretion and propriety notwithstanding), since the secret is quite capable of protecting itself from the unworthy.

It is no more secret than, say, quantum physics, which is available to any intellectually qualified and sincerely motivated individual. You don't have to hide quantum physics to keep it secret. Indeed, promiscuously disseminating it in the manner of a Deepak to people with skulls full of mush involves the grossest distortions imaginable (on both ends of the exchange; in reality, Deepak is just propagating his own mind parasites in a worldwide jerk circle).

Look at me, for example. When I write an over-the-top political hit piece, I get three or four times the traffic. But newcomers almost never return more than once, because the very next post will likely be full of openly secret knowledge which is of no use to them. It is either inaccessible, an affront to their existing faith (or lack thereof), or just too kooky to be of any practical use. In reality, it's just another routine instance of the kosher pearls protecting themselves from the pork people (the porcinners!).

Regarding Mouravieff's unorthodoxy, Schuon once made a very important point about people's spiritual experiences. He of course had had many such experiences, but he did not wish for them to be the source of any doctrine. Rather, he wanted Truth to stand on its own merits, and to be understandable and independently verifiable within the awakened intellect (hence, to be universal). He would never dream of saying, for example, "I had a vision of the Virgin Mary (which he did), therefore she is real."

Rather, he maintained that "if one wants to impart mystical certitude to another, the import or message should be capable of being coherently expressed" (Fitzgerald). Along these lines, Fitzgerald quotes a poem by Schuon (translated from the original German):

You may often keep silent about a certitude, / But if you wish to impart it, you must support it / With clear logic; for those who hear you / Want to see a meaning in what you are saying. / You must not say: I am certain of this -- / And then withdraw in proud obscurity. / Finally: what is of no use to anyone, / You are not obliged to preach in the streets.

Not only that, but all of the traditions agree that it is a breach of spiritual protocol to blab on about one's experiences to any- and everyone. Such experiences (?!) always have an aura of sanctity that makes one circumspect about sharing them with the unwashed bipedal primates.

Rather, Fitzgerald quotes another student who recalled Schuon saying words to the effect that "When a man experiences a spiritual state or favor, or when he has a vision or audition, he must never desire this to happen again; and above all he must not base his spiritual life on such a phenomenon, nor imagine that the happening has conferred on him any kind of eminence. The only important thing is to practice what takes us nearer to God..."

In short, (?!) is, yes, a gift, but even more fundamentally, it is a sacred obligation, for ultimately you are obliged to follow it back up to its source and to conform your life to the conditions that make the grace flow more readily (which primarily include Virtue, Truth, and Beauty).

For this reason, Schuon insisted that his "message" was contained in his books only, not in his peripheral function as a spiritual master for a particular group. The latter function was not unimportant, but it was nevertheless a prolongation of the former, not his central concern or legacy to the world.

But as it so happens -- at least for me -- Schuon's books are jam-packed with his barakah, or spiritual perfume, or transformative grace, or sanctified mojo, or just plain (↓), for which they are the occasion, not the cause. (↓) courses through his words, not from them.

Of this I am quite certain, but my certainty is of no use to another, except perhaps as a suggestion to try my brand and see for yourself.

Analogously, I am equally certain that Frank Sinatra is the greatest pop singer who ever lived, -- for it would be an absurdity and intrinsic error to believe otherwise -- but here again, this means nothing to the person who's never even listened to A Swingin' Affair and heard the musical truth with his own ears.

I am also quite sure that I am the only person who has ever placed Frank Sinatra and Frithjof Schuon -- and for that matter, Ferrell "Pharoah" Sanders, another favorite F.S. of mine -- in the same paragraph. And that the Shaykh would be none too pleased about it.

Now, back to Mouravieff. Nah, it's too late. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Seven Dimensional Analogue Photography

I see that much of this post may be obscure to those who haven't read the book of the sane gnome. I'm not trying to cloak my woolymindedness in an toxic haze of seductive mystagoguery, a la Deepak and the rest.

Rather, I'm pressed for time and have to run, so I can't necessarily flesh things out as much as I'd like. But I'm quite certain that at least one of you will understand what I'm talking about. Alternatively, you can think of the post as an unsaturated memo that you can use to arrive at your very own meme of O. (Also any gifted shutterbugs out there such as Robin may feel free to correct and clarify my metaphor and explain what I was actually trying to say.)

Continuing where we lifted off yesterday with Mouravieff's discussion of the additional dimensions of time, we spoke a few days ago of how the line of time pierces the plane of all-possibility and becomes realized in the now.

To put it another way, the now is not strictly speaking in time, but is actually a "portion (or prolongation) of eternity," so to speak. In this regard, Plato was quite correct in characterizing time as the moving image of eternity. I can't think of a more literal description.

This is why eternity is always -- and only -- accessible in the now, for the now is like an ever-present rabbit hole back to the Source. Your personal f-stop accounts for how much Light you allow into your aperture in any given moment. Obviously, the wider the aperture and the lower the f-stop, the more light.

But also bear in mind that this aperture is a two-way street, if you will forgive the mixed metaphor.

For example, if one is in the presence of a person with a particularly wide aperture (or low f-stop), one will be aware of the Light that emanates from him (just as he permits more Light into himself). This two-way camera eye is precisely what Eckhart was talking about when he said that "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me." Like Plato, he was being quite literal. And Eckhart was a great photographer, to put it mildly.

In other words, there is only the one Eye, but everyone's personal camera is adjusted differently. Some have such a narrow aperture or fast f-stop that they might as well live in the dark, while others are so wide that they over-expose the world, which can result in actually devaluing it.

Was that clear? There are mystics, for example, who are exposed to so much Light that they can't take a good pneumagraph of this world, and therefore cannot appreciate its beauty and its value. f-stops are important. Too slow, and and you can only take pictures of God. And it's the same picture over and over, just a white blur.

A big part of the spiritual path involves slowing down one's shutter speed in order to allow more of the now in; which, practically speaking, is to dilate time -- and which is none other than Slack.

Moving right along, "As for the sixth dimension, this is the Time of the Universe; due to its volume it not only contains the possible, but the accomplishment of all the possibilities of each moment -- a complete cycle of all the lines of Time."

"Lastly, there exists a seventh dimension which is a dot; a dot situated at the same time in both Space and Time."

"Line of Time; Eternity; and All; these are the terms of our current language which correspond to the fourth, fifth, and sixth dimension. The term Zero corresponds to the seventh and last dimension, which should perhaps be considered as the pre-initial dimension."

I would prefer to say that the sixth and penultimate dimension is •, while the seventh is O. Put them together and you get ʘ, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Dot and circle. At first glance these would appear to be opposites, but upon deeper consideration you can see that the dot is simultaneously zero-dimensional and all-dimensional, in that an infinite number of lines may pass through it. Likewise, O can be thought of as possessing zero dimensions from within itself, as all things are simultaneously co-present within it.

Thus, to become ʘ means to establish a harmony between the dot and the sphere, so that the unthinkable plenum of O may deploy itself in time and be read out from moment to moment.

Note also what Mouravieff says about the Zero (O) being both the last dimension and the pre-initial one. This is why my book both begins and ends with that big fat nothing that is simultaneously everything. To us it is nothing unless we learn how to approach and assimilate it. Then it is everything; or, everything emanates and returns to it via the round-trip of the human station. God pours himself into the cosmos in general and human beings in particular, and our task, if you will, is to return the favor by returning each moment to its rightful Owner.

The notion of Zero plays a large role in esoteric philosophy. It is not the void. It is the seed and the end, the Alpha and Omega of all that exists. --Boris Mouravieff

Children are still so close to the Source, that it's difficult to miss the brightness. And they always give back more light than they receive:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Great God Almighty, I'm Free at Last! Now, Who Stole My Chains?!

This will be a short post, just to get us started. It's an early day, and I gotta get out of here.

Here is the full text of what Mouravieff says about the higher dimensions of time:

"For the moment, it will be sufficent to say that Time possesses not one but three dimensions, and that these dimensions are strictly analogous to those of Space."

Okay, I'm with you so far: in Euclidian space there is line, plane, and sphere. This must mean that there are analogies to these three in Time. Please continue.

"We shall limit ourselves to saying that we know that the waking consciousness, that of the 'I' of the personality is extremely relative and is able neither to grasp nor directly observe these two higher dimensions of Time, nor their effects."

Rather, the local ego, or what a I prefer to call (•), "confuses them with the fourth dimension, in a single perception of the ensemble which is the Line of Time."

In other words, dimensions Five and Six get lumped in with Four, which is reminiscent of Bion's "attacks on linking," which I have described as a kind of "dimensional defense," in that the primitive mind is easily able to render null and void meanings that only exist in a higher dimension by fleeing into a lower one.

This is what unifies psychological defense mechanisms as diverse as regression, splitting, denial, and acting out, in that each of these, in its own way, is analogous to seeking refuge in the Circle for fear of what lurks in the Sphere.

Or, as in the case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), one might flee the Circle for the Line. With OCD, the person's existence is quite literally reduced to a line in which they go back and forth between anxiety and its temporary dissipation in the ritual of the obsession or compulsion. Thus, it is actually a kind of circular line, but a line nonetheless, as one always ends up back where one started -- A to B and then back to A.

But this also renders a kind of false eternity, doesn't it, perhaps analogous to the hell of Nietzsche's eternal return? For at the ground floor of all human striving -- including of course intellectual striving -- is the desire to know the Absolute, i.e., God or O.

Now, one easy -- and all too human -- way to do this is to reduce the Absolute to something more manageable, by, say, washing one's hands hundreds of times a day, or devoting one's life to a political candidate in the belief that he will change one's existence, or placing one's faith in a two-dimensional scientific theory such as Darwinism in the belief that this linear scheme explains the Sphere.

Perhaps a clinical example will better explain my meaning. Not too long ago I evaluated a person who was crippled by a lifelong case of OCD. In fact, the OCD had been present for so long that for him it was normative. He knew no other way of existing. Furthermore, his obsessions and compulsions -- his various physical and mental rituals -- gave him comfort in the same way that one can obtain comfort from food, or sex, or companionship, or a scientific theory, or God, whatever.

This individual eventually became depressed, which is inevitable, since OCD is originally put in place to protect a vulnerable self, but ends up depriving the self of what it needs to survive and grow. In other words, the person's life revolves around his rituals, so that he cannot metabolize sufficient Love, Truth, and Beauty to remain intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.

Anyway, this person ended up being prescribed an SSRI for his depression, but it had the added benefit of eliminating the OCD (which his doctor hadn't even known about, since the patient didn't see it as a "problem" and therefore hadn't even mentioned it).

Long story short, he ended up discontinuing the SSRI because he missed his OCD. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that he was literally lost without his rituals, in the sense that he was now naked in the infinite Sphere without so much as a figleaf of compulsiveness to help him cling to the finite line. He was suddenly "free," but for him, this actually meant terror -- quite literal terror, Pascal's eternal silence of these infinite space -- as he was now face-to-face with the very reality which his OCD had been implemented to protect him from in the first place!

Now, could we make a gratuitous comment about how this is analogous to what the leftist -- I mean the true believer, not merely the clueless Democrat -- does with the terror of his God-given political freedom?

For what is the Nanny State but a gargantuan two-dimensional plane that we should all cling to in order to protect us from the infinite Sphere of Life?

And what are all of the thousands of useless laws and agencies they put in place, but a kind of collective OCD, in which we always end up back where we started? In other words, trillions of wasted dollars later, we have the same poverty, the same violence, the same stupidity. The same Mankind, frankly, only worse for the systematic neglect of man's true nature.

And the leftist does not wish to be cured, any more than the above patient did. For to be cured is to realize that one's life has been wasted in meaningless rituals. And that's a depressing thought.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

On the Cosmic Inevitability of Boneheadedness and Butt Ugliness

Little chaotic around here. Gardener putting in new sod yesterday put his pick through the water main called his cousin "the plumber" who was here until midnight working on the problem still not fixed yada yada yada.

In short, no time for a new post. Instead, a slacktory refurbished and fully guaranteed old one.

Who, looking at the universe, would be so feeble-minded as not to believe that God is all in all; that he clothes himself with the universe, and at the same time contains it and dwells in it? --Gregory of Nyssa

To say that one believes in the self-evident truth -- and it is self-evident to the Self -- of "intelligent design" is really to say that one believes in intelligence, especially human intelligence. For intelligence is less than nothing if it cannot know truth, and no random shuffling of Darwinian evolution could result in truth-bearing animals. Please.

Rather, because the cosmos is logoistic, we should never be surprised to find traces of intelligence on the one hand, and truth on the other, wherever we look -- or, in other words, in the objects we perceive and in the subjects to whom they are intelligible.

The absurdity of neo-Darwinism -- and it is an absurdity to the interior Self, not necessarily to the externalized ego -- posits an absolute contingency capable of knowing absolute truth about itself. If it can do that, then it is no longer merely contingent, but participates in a transcendent absoluteness for which it can never account. Obviously there is relative truth in natural selection -- only a false absolutist could insist otherwise -- but surely not absolute truth.

Instead of "intelligent design," one might just as well say "beautiful design." For example, underneath the temporal flux of the cosmos, we apprehend those beautiful and elegant mathematical structures that seem to abide in a sempiternal platonic realm of their own.

Or so we have heard from the wise. We only got up to trigonometry, in which we received a gentleman's D, in part because we were distracted by the more beautiful Susie Campbell in the next desk. Still, although we did not know it at the time, the geometry of her form revealed something essential about our cosmos.

Yes, ugliness -- even butt ugliness -- "must needs be," but we can only know it because it is a privation. Only in the postmodern world "has ugliness become something like a norm or principle; in this case, beauty appears as a specialty, even a luxury" (Schuon). But this ugliness is merely an exteriorization of the tawdry souls who produce it, e.g., {insert contemporary example}. It requires no talent, since it takes none to produce ugliness and barbarism.

Rather, it requires the exertion of will to arrest and reverse the entropic movement away from beauty. To put it another way, some butts are quite beautiful. Still, if it is a full time job just to be beautiful, then your life is clearly out of balance. ($2302.29 per day on one's hair? I'm not sure if I've spent that much in my life.)

It seems that our decline into the postmodern cult of ugliness began at the other end, with the aesthetic movement of "art for art's sake." But this was an aesthetics cut off from its transcendent source. Once that happened, then gravity took care of the rest, and down we went on a wilde ride to the bottom. Idolatry of the beautiful is still idolatry, which is why the modern art museum became a kind of church for irreligious sophisticates. It is also why so much modern art is ultimately "empty," because it has been drained of any transcendent reference. In the absence of transcendence, all art is merely decoration on our prison walls.

Art is obviously a form; but the form must skillfully convey something of the nonformal; it is the real presence of the infinite captured within, or radiating through, the finite. Schuon wrote that "beauty is the mirror of happiness [I would say delight] and truth." Without the element of delight, "there remains only the bare form," and without the element of truth, "there remains only an entirely subjective enjoyment -- a luxury." Then we are stuck with a decadent aestheticism instead of aesthetics, which is as desiccated intellectualism is to the ever-moist and chewy intellect, just a meretricious counterfate worse than death.

In this regard, to say that there are no objective standards of aesthetic value is to insist (to paraphrase Schuon) that myopia and blindness are merely different ways of seeing instead of "defects of vision." Stupidity is not just another form of intelligence.

So why should we call formal ugliness art, especially when it aids and abets the hijacking of man's spirit down and away from its source? This is a quintessential form of demonism, of black magic, a "revolt of the darkness." Obviously it doesn't "elevate," since the broken elevator of the postmodern mind can never ascend from the ground floor to begin with. But curiously, it can nevertheless descend. It can do this because this is where they locate the "real," in matter. And this is why their vision is so hellish.

Now, what does this all have to do with the human body? Again, man is said to have been created the image and likeness of the Creator. It is the Raccoon position that we will therefore find traces of this deiformity in both our subjectivity (e.g., our capacity to know truth, to will the good, and to love beauty), but also in our material form.

This is not a new idea, but an archetypal one that belongs to the religio perennis, or the Religion of which religion is an expression. As the Orthodox Christian Olivier Clement writes, "There is no culture or religion that has not received and does not express a 'visitation of the Word.'" For "he is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Col 1:16-17).

Quoting from Manly Hall's sometimes kooky, sometimes helpful Secret Teachings of All Ages, he writes that "The oldest, most profound, the most universal of all symbols is the human body. The Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, and Hindus considered philosophical analysis of man's triune nature to be an indispensable part of ethical and religious training."

In this approach, "the laws, elements, and powers of the universe were epitomized in the human constitution," so that "everything which existed outside of man had its analogue within man." An outgrowth of this was the notion that God is a "Grand Man," while man is a "little god." Thus, "the greater universe was termed the Macrocosm -- the Great World or Body," while man's body, "the individual human universe, was termed the Microcosm." As above, so below. Placed in this context, the idea that "the Word has become flesh" is perfectly comprehensible, even inevitable, given the nature of the Sovereign Good.

And in fact, even the secular scientist believes in this ancient formulation after his own fashion. To cite one obvious example, how is it that human beings are uniquely privileged to have access to the abstract formal system that rules the heavens? In other words, the quantum cosmologist "contains" the cosmos just as surely as it contains him.

But this is what the Christian has always believed; it is the materialist who cannot account for this mystery: "Understand that you have within yourself, upon a small scale, a second universe" (Origen). "Man, this major world in miniature, is a unified abridgment of all that exists, and the crowning of divine works" (St. Gregory of Palamas). "Man is the microcosm in the strictest sense of the word. He is the summary of all existence" (John Scottus Erigena). "All things in Heaven above, and Earth beneath, meet in the Constitution of each individual" (Peter Sterry).

You will often hear reductionistic Darwinians refute design with reference to certain "ugly" realities in the world, say, the mosquito, or man's windpipe being too close to the esophagus, or Keith Olbermann's wide ass and ferret-like eyes. And yet, such quibbles actually "praise God," being that there is an implicit recognition or "recollection" of perfection in apprehending its abence.

But again, the manifestation is not the Principle, otherwise the world would be God. Nevertheless, as Schuon points out, "the world is fundamentally made of beauty, not ugliness.... and [it] could not contain ugliness if it did not contain a priori far more beauty." Likewise, contingency and randomness necessarily exist, but they are ultimately harnessed by a higher ordering principle to achieve newer and deeper syntheses. There is no metabolism without catabolism.

"The Father is God beyond all, the origin of all that is. The incarnate Son is God with us, and he who becomes incarnate is none other than the Logos who gives form to the world by his creative words. The Spirit of God in us, the Breath, the Pneuma, gives life to all and brings every object to its proper perfection. The Logos appears as order and intelligibility, the Pneuma as dynamism and life.... Thus, to contemplate the smallest object is to experience the Trinity: the very being of the object takes us back to the Father; the meaning it expresses, its logos, speaks to us of the Logos; its growth to fullness and beauty reveals the Breath, the Life-giver." --Olivier Clement