Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Logotomized Always Lie

With dumb-as-a-postmodernity, much of Western civilization has undergone a spiritual logotomy that results in the removal of one's higher spiritual sense. But just like a victim of lobotomy, the logotomized person doesn't even know what hit him, for he is now missing the part that might know.

In the not-too-distant past, no one was really religious, or "chose" religion in the way that we must consciously be and do. Rather, it mostly chose them. It was simply the pneumatic context in which humans lived, and one thing modern developmental psychoanalysis has discovered over the past 40-50 years is the priority of the mind's container over and above its content. Or, at the very least, one must always regard container and contained dialectically, for there can never be one without the other. (Think of modern physics, in which "objects" are no longer radically separate from the space that contains them.)

True, truth is truth; nevertheless, it makes all the difference in the world what sort of receptacle or "matrix" contains that truth. If the container is false -- i.e., determined by the Lie, or hatred, or envy -- then it will color all of its content in ways that may be imperceptible to the individual except in the form of symptoms, i.e., emotional or cognitive pain or dysfunction. These symptoms are alternately "absent presences" (anxiety) or "present absences" (depression).

To take a simple example, consider the truth of justice. Human beings are born with a precognitive, archetypal understanding of justice -- a preconception, or empty category, that must be filled out by experience.

Leftist attitudes toward justice (i.e., the insatiable moloch of "social justice") essentially result from a deformation of this pre-existing truth, as they enforce their idea of justice in fundamentally unjust ways -- i.e., racial quotas, income redistribution, attacks on private property, class warfare, etc. All forms of modern leftism are essentially dishonest appeals to truth, unjust appeals to justice, unfair appeals to fairness, coerced appeals to generosity, etc. Again, it's the container that is so destructive, since it damages even "good" content, i.e., charitable impulses.

Please note that the omnipotence of the fantasy -- the end -- justifies the means required to attain such a beautiful thing, which always requires the coercion (and implicit violence) of the state. The same dynamic explains the terribly unjust and coercive monstrosity that is Obamacare, which will only require more state coercion in order to "fix." At each step along the way -- from kickbacks, to bribes, to penalties -- state coercion is required.

There was a time that the Church, broadly speaking, was generally able to contain the human spirit and provide a vehicle for its articulation and development. For some one thousand years, the vast majority of people in the West lived, thought, felt, worked, and died within this meaning-generating container.

Now, a spiritual container must not only be capacious enough to hold the human spirit -- which tends toward the infinite -- but must also paradoxically provide a sort of "friction" against which we may think and move.

In other words, thinking spiritually in a truly creative way means that there must be an interaction between container and contained that produces new thoughts. Indeed, if religion could not do this, it would not only be entirely static, but would provide no satisfaction for the soul's intrinsic desire to grow with knowledge. The Bible really would be the end of theology instead of the beginning, and the importance of the great saints, doctors and mystics would also be rendered meaningless. And history would have no purpose at all, since the truth would all be located in the past.

This specifically human form of knowing -- the dynamic interplay of what Bion symbolized as ♀ (container) and ♂ (contained) -- is a critical factor that distinguishes us from the beasts, since it is not only analogous to play, it is play. It is well understood that certain young animals play -- i.e., puppies and kittens -- but that virtually all adult animals lose this capacity as they grow into their mature archetype, which is essentially fixed and final.

But man only fulfills his destiny by preserving his neoteny -- i.e., the retention of a childlike, epistemologically open attitude -- to the end of his days. Not only is man born immature, but he must remain so on pain of putting an end to the growing process. But again, since man verges on the infinite (♀) and the soul is all it knows (♂), there can be no end to the maturational process.

Now obviously, there are mature and immature ways to preserve our immaturity. When Jesus says that we must be as children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he surely doesn't mean that we must stamp our feet and throw a temper tantrum until God lets us in. Rather, he's talking about things like openness, spontaneity, creativity, timelessness, and trust (or faith).

Now, "openness," "spontaneity," "timelessness," etc., all apply to the container, not the content. For example, spontaneity is not a content or specific idea that one may hold in one's mind like an object and be done with it. A -- perhaps the -- major task of parenting is to raise one's child in such a way that he will have a happy, healthy, and productive container for the rest of his life, irrespective of the specific content. And in all likelihood, if you do things right, your child won't even be consciously aware of this blessed container until he has children of his own to contain!

This was an idea that was probably first worked out by the developmental psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, who wrote about how, for example, one's lifelong capacity for "basic trust" is forged in the first 18 months of life, largely depending upon the quality of parenting one receives. No one talks much about Erikson anymore, as his ideas have been extended, elaborated, and fine-tuned by others, but his basic conception is correct. Note how each of his stages has primarily to do with the container, i.e., trust, autonomy, identity, generativity, etc., not any specific content.

The trusting person sees the world very differently from the non-trusting -- which is to say, paranoid -- person. Surely it is no coincidence that the Muslim Middle East has the lowest quality of parenting and the highest degree of paranoia, along with an almost total lack of creativity, openness, and autonomy. This is obviously worrisome, since democracy and free markets can only flourish in a high-trust environment.

To put it another way, trust is huge enabler of market efficiency, removing all kinds of obstacles to doing business with one another. Almost any American can do business with any other American, whereas in tribal cultures, the circle of trust is greatly narrowed.

But I want to return to the topic of religion as the container (♀) of an explosive force, or content (♂). Call it the "spiritual drive," or the "pneumaphilic instinct," but whatever it is, just like any other human capacity, it requires a container to guide and channel it -- just as, say, music requires a system of musical notation to structure and give it depth.

Bach, for example, was born with a "musical drive," but what if he had been born at a time prior to the western system of musical notation, which allows one to think with such complexity within the chordal space of vertical musicality? The point is again that an adequate container is critical for one to achieve one's potential in any given area.

It is no different with religion. The other day, I was reading of how Dawson felt that different historical eras were literally different worlds which we could not really understand by projecting our own world onto them. This makes total sense to me, because true empathy of a patient involves not just understanding their content, but their container.

Furthermore, real change generally doesn't involve the patient obtaining this or that piece of missing information. Rather, it involves a slow alteration and repair of their container within the context of the therapeutic alliance. Truly, therapy is just something you do to distract the patient while his mind is healing itself, mainly as a result of an intimate relationship with another.

So anyway, my point is that modernity -- e.g., the scientific revolution and the birth of the individual self -- essentially exploded the religious container that had contained the mind and spirit up to that point, and there is no going back to that innocent world. You cannot put the bats back into the belfry or the truthpaste into the tube. Different world.

They say that modern physics displaced earth from the center of the universe, just as natural selection displaced man from the center of the biosphere, thus rendering the religion of Christianity hopelessly quaint, what with its cognitively reassuring firmament above and a God who just happens to be in the form of a man.

Whatever. The point is not to argue over facts, which is to say, the content, but to understand the cosmic, and even metacosmic, nature of Christianity, so that it may serve as a container for the historical middle world we happen to inhobbit. I suppose that's the point of both my book and this blog, which is why I never argue with the other guy's content when his container is so messed up. One Cosmos "Under" God is really another way of saying One Mother of a Cosmos Contained by Father God. And they say God himself was marrily contained for awhile, but that's amother story.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Word War I and the Battle for the Bridge

Of the basis of religion, Birzer writes that it is rooted in "the recognition of a superhuman Reality of which man is somehow conscious and towards which he must in some way orientate his life" (all subsequent quotes are from the same book).

Thus, if man is the bridge that spans the ontological ocean between matter and spirit, then religion is the perennial clueprint that encodes the engineering principles, so to speak, of this bridge building innerprize. Conversely, if the radical secularists are correct, then man is just another bridge to nowhere.

Far from being an "opiate for the masses," it is modern secular ideologies "which serve as nothing more than addictive drugs for decadent and lost peoples." Most perniciously, they still treat man as a bridge, except that he becomes a bridge between the way things are and the way our elites would like them to be. In short, he becomes a bridge between big government and bigger government -- or between the powerful state and the omnipotent one. First they seduce us with the Mommy state, but then coerce us with the Daddy state.

Now, revelation does not -- cannot -- stop with the written word: "On the contrary, the whole history of Christendom is a continual dialogue between God and man, and every age of the Chruch's life, even the most remote and obscure, has some important lesson for us today" (emphasis mine). This would imply that the present is not more important than the past; but nor is it less so.

I find that traditionalists have a sort of inferiority complex about the present, and conversely, tend to idealize the past. But if each epoch of history is in some sense providential, then the question is, what is the metacosmic purpose of the present time in which we are living?

Perhaps it has to do with sanctifying the scientistic "reign of quantity" and bringing it back into harmony with timeless religious principles in a higher synthesis of spirit and nature. Which is to say, same as it ever was, for as Augustine wrote, to the extent that science and philosophy reveal truth about the world, "we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it."

In so doing, just as paganism was incorporated and sanctified by Christianity, perhaps our task is to sanctify these modern forms of neo-paganism. This endeavor is hardly opposed to science, but rather, attempts to place it in a context in which it is able to "become" or "reveal" what it actually is in the larger scheme of things. Science is not self-explanatory, but is explained by something transcending both science and certainly the scientist.

Another way of saying it is that postmodernity has shattered the unity of the world into ever-smaller, disconnected and isolated fragments, in a process that is indistinguishable from decay. But this is not just a passive process of entropy; rather, the forces of secularism oppose any attempt to put the cosmic egg back together into a greater hierarchical synthesis.

Thus, on a very deep level, secularism tries to impose a religiously anti-religious lowerarchy on the rest of us, which is what liberal intolerance is all about -- diversity, moral relativism, multiculturalism, political correctness, etc. Each of these, at its root, elevates division to an absolute.

In this specific sense, one cannot be "in love with the world" without hating God; for to love only the world is to reduce man to matter and therefore to a machine, and ultimately to a means rather than an end. But then secularism slips in its own teleology, converting man into a means of achieving wholly materialistic ends as defined by the "progressive" who substitutes terrestrial perfectibility for spiritual evolution.

Thus, there really are "two Americas," the one that exists in reality and the one that exists in the fantasies of the left, i.e., "Sugar Candy Mountain." Secular ideologies "promise much by taking much," which is to say, your soul.

Another important point is that the left must be intrinsically anti-family, since the family is the "first institution" and is obviously prior to the state. As such, it is a competitor with the modern welfare state, something that has become obvious vis-a-vis Western Europe or the black family in America.

Since man is a social animal, if his most intimate bonds are not with the family, they will be with something less. Should the family collapse, "society itself must collapse or change in a fashion so drastic as to be no longer recognizable." This is the sort of radical and fundamental change promised by Obama.

Indeed, this is what the whole debate about the re-definition of marriage is all about. It has nothing whatsoever to do with "homophobia," but with a prudent appreciation of the profundity of the issues involved -- i.e, not with homosexual "rights" but with heterosexual duties. It's like performing a needlessly radical experiment on a body that is already taxed and trying to maintain its health and equilibrium. Except the experiment is conducted by a handful of lawyers instead of doctors, so we can't even sue them for malpractice.

"There is a point at which the world of spirit comes in conscious contact with the world of matter. That point is man." Dawson felt that "most heresies have come from the inability to walk between the two extremes," so that "to privilege either the spiritual or material at the expense of the other is to verge into a modern form of Gnosticism."

Thus, in reality, man's "whole destiny depends on the proper co-ordination" of matter and spirit; since Man is a bridge, "the lower world is in some sense dependent on him for its spiritualization and its integration in the universal order." And man's true order does not -- and cannot -- come from the material and temporal world, but from the timeless and atemporal. To ignore this reality is to commit cluelesscide as it pertains to one's genuine humanness.

"All true progress comes from the proper use of language." As God "spoke" the cosmos into existence, man "speaks" culture into existence. If the family is the first thing undermined by the left, then language is the second. What is always most startling about leftist discourse is the inebriated and intoxicated abuse of language. Call it discoarse. They truly are at war with the Word, so we can say that Word War I has been going on since the beginning of human time. The contemporary left is just a new whine in a very old battle.

"The 'mastery' of professional historical methods and 'techniques will not produce great history, any more than a mastery of metrical technique will produce great poetry.' The true historian, or the metahistorian, will recognize that 'something more is necessary -- intuitive understanding, creative imagination, and finally a universal vision transcending the relative limitation of the particular field of historical study.'" Thus, the genuine historian must also be a poet in the true sense of the word.

History has both upper and lower vertical aspects, or infraconscious and supraconscious: "What we see in history is only a partial and uncertain manifestation of the spiritual activity which is taking place at once below and above the level of historical study." "We modern sophists... are the ones being unscholarly in discounting a higher power, a power unseen and unknown through our five physical senses, but recognized by all human cultures prior to the advent of modernity."

"Christian culture is always in conflict with the world," whereas leftist culture is always at odds with reality, i.e., the unchanging spiritual reality from which the world derives its meaning and man his significance. To perfectly adapt to the world in the manner of a Darwinian animal is to be a perfect animal. Man's task is surely to adapt, but to the real world of truth, beauty, virtue, and unity.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Horror of Existential Shrinkage

It is only in the poetic imagination which is akin to that of the child and the mystic that we can feel the pure sense of mystery and transcendence which is man's natural element. --Christopher Dawson

Dawson felt that imagination was the most important mode of the metaxy (discussed in Wednesday's post), the divine ←→ human vertical bridge that is Man; and that creativity and imagination were "the greatest gifts God had bequeathed to the human person" (Birzer). Or, if you prefer the psychedelicized and mushroom cloud-hidden words of a raving ethnobotanist,

"The imagination argues for a divine spark in human beings. It is absolutely confounding if you try to see imagination as a necessary quantity in biology. It is an emanation from above -- literally a descent of the world soul" (Terence McKenna).

In order to know reality one must first be capable of imagining reality, something no animal can do. This kind of higher imagination is "the ability to see clearly beyond the here and now into the reality of eternal forms -- thus allowing one to order one's soul to the eternal community."

In the absence of the seer-view mirror of imagination, the human being loses the ability to order anything beyond his immediate sensations and appetites; reality flattens out, so that animals become indistinct from humans, men from women, gods from kings, kings from men, men from monsters, art from entertainment, superstars from benchwarmers. With 20/20 houndsight, all the world essentially becomes analogous to pornography, which is sex drained of eros, or matter drained of soul, or knowledge drained of wisdom.

In contrast, the task of the true Christian -- not unlike that of the improvisational orthoparadoxical bohemian classical liberal Judeo-Vedantin neo-traditionalist -- is to unite matter with soul in order to sanctify the world. Given the ontological fact of the two vertical arrows of existence, there is the possibility of an upword inscape from the world toward the Abbasolute; or a downward escape into the considerable charms and snares of Mamamaya.

But where we are supposed to live is within the innercourse of the two, or more precisely, the One, which can be trimorphically envisioned but not seen; or only seen with higher vision, which is to say, imagination. With our intelligence we may discern the contours of this reality, but with our imagination we may unite ourselves to it. The former is mind, the latter is heart, and their union is the basis of the higher I-mage -- the mage who imagines. That would be us. Like the three magi who discerned the celestial arrows and saw Christ in an anonymous baby in a manger.

As usual, Schuon says it best: "The vice of outwardness is the lack of harmony between the two dimensions: between our tendency towards the things that surround us and our tendency towards the 'kingdom of God which is within you.' What is necessary is to realize a spiritual rootedness that removes from outwardness its tyranny at once dispersing and compressing, and that on the contrary allows us to 'see God everywhere'; which means to perceive symbols, archetypes and essences in sensible things....

"Similarly regarding matter: what is necessary is not to deny it -- if that were possible -- but to withdraw from its seductive and enslaving grasp; to distinguish in it what is archetypal and quasi-celestial from what is accidental and indeed too earthly; hence to treat it with nobleness and sobriety. In other words, outwardness is a right, and inwardness a duty..." The superior man is always fishing for complements, such as heaven-earth or time-eternity.

A one-sided, unimaginative, and dryasdust outworldliness is an affliction that particularly afflicts the psychospiritual left. Even back in his day, Dawson could already see that most liberal statists were "simple-minded secularists and utilitarians who failed to understand truth, beauty and goodness" and "lacked the power of imagination. They were quantifiers and calculators, sophisticated men of the world, but not of the soul. They had been duped by worldly wisdom" (Birzer).

This low altitude is both a cause and consequence of the mechanization of man, and renders him "less than God intended him to be." To put it another way, the inevitable outcome of radical secularism is that one is free, but not free to realize one's spiritual potentialities, and therefore only free in the manner of an uncaged beast; or a beast with impenetrable barriers he cannot see, thus giving the illusion of freedom. But we are creatures and not beasts, for the same reason we are citizens and not subjects.

Imagination mediates between the possible and the actual, and converts walls into windows, windows to doors. It is what allows the infinite and absolute to become intelligible, i.e., to be re-presented in the finite and relative realm.

As Bolton writes, "each relative world contains only a cross-section of the universal possibilities," and each person is just such a relative world. This world can be quite vast and expansive or small and cramped, depending upon the individual case. In other words, the size of the exterior world in which one lives and moves is merely a projection of the human interior.

For example, when we consider the inconceivable vastness of outer space, only a materialized mind living under the "reign of quantity" fails to realize that he is really contemplating the relative infinity of his own soul, for the physical cosmos is neither large nor small, whereas the soul is all it knows. The world it encounters is just the canvas upon which we paint beautiful or ugly pictures with the materials available to us; or the darkwomb in which we develop our pneumagraphs.

Bolton writes that "it may seem strange to speak of the mind as though it were a thing having a physical size, but it undoubtedly has its own analogue of spatial capacity." Furthermore -- and this is a critical point as it pertains to scientism -- the ability "to grasp one part of reality brilliantly while being oblivious of the other things that human minds are capable of can be more opposed to the truth than the perceiving of all things equally dimly."

And this is why, as I have mentioned before, even the literal creationist is surely closer to the reality of the situation than the unimaginative and spiritually autistic atheist who has drained reality of its most essential ideas, archetypes, and principles. His mind contracts the cosmos in order to make it adequate to the cold and shrunken proportions of his own being. This is what the world looks like when you peer into the wrong end of the teloscope.

This existential shrinkage would be a great embarrassment to atheists if only they realized how silly they look to us in their misosophical nakedness, but like children and savages, they live in a kind of naive cognitive innocence without so much as a fig leaf of metaphysics. They have no idea why we laugh at them, which for them is a mercy.

Regarding the "intelligent error" of those shrunken secularists, Schuon writes that "It is only too evident that mental effort does not automatically give rise to the perception of the real; the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error. The paradoxical phenomenon of even a 'brilliant' intelligence being the vehicle of error is explained first of all by the possibility of a mental operation that is exclusively 'horizontal,' hence lacking all awareness of 'vertical' relationships."

In turn, this exclusively horizontal Ørientation "creates a void that the irrational necessarily comes to fill." And of course, there are not just scientific materialists but religious ones, those "whose intellectual intuition remains latent, this being precisely what constitutes the 'obscure merit of faith.'" In other words, even if one cannot understand Truth, one should still believe and have faith in it.

Reason can never arrive at reality, and it is the height of unreasonableness to imagine otherwise. At best, it can remove obstacles in the way of our imaginative vision. As Schuon explains, reasoning is analogous to "the groping of a blind man, with the difference that -- by removing obstacles -- it may bring about a clearing of vision; it is blind and groping due to its indirect and discursive nature." Reason is surely a gift, but a gift that gives -- or facilitates -- something beyond reason.

That is, reason "is a means of knowledge, but this means is mediate and fragmentary like the sense of touch, which enables a blind man to find his way and even to feel the heat of the sun, but not to see." To put it another way, it allows us to uncover the transcendent vision "which one possesses a priori," i.e., vertical recollection.

What does it mean to say that the cosmos is expanding? Again, if one is only referring to physical reality, the point couldn't be more banal. Who cares? In the absence of a stable frame of reference, expansion and contraction are just figures of speech.

In a very real way, the only thing that is actually expanding in the world is man's inwardness, is it not? And if you're not expanding, then you are contracting, for the mind cannot cease its dynamism, its metabolism of reality. You are what you eat, and if you eat the quantified and atomistic sawdust of secularism, you will inevitably be spiritually malnourished, just a shell of your future self.

Slowly, through grace, each Christian is sanctified, the debris of the world being gradually removed from the order of his soul, and then the human as the metaxy serves as the bridge between the spiritual and material worlds. --Bradley Birzer

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Living in the Shadows of What Needn't Be

"Before I draw nearer to that headstone to which you point," said Bob, "answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that only may be?"

Still, Petey pointed in silence, downward to the grave by which it stood.

"The course of our lives will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," offered Bob. "But if those courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"

While no form of leftism, materialism, scientism, or secularism is to be taken intellectually (let alone spiritually) seriously, I do take seriously orthodox spiritual views that clash with mine.

The reason for this is that no form of materialism, whether explicit or implicit, is sufficient to account for the richness, depth, and complexity of the world, and can never result in the metacosmic unity even scientists presume to exist. On the other hand, if the other guy has a plausible alternate explanation of spiritual unity, then that needs to be given its due, since there cannot be two unities. Either one of them is wrong, or else one can be assimilated into the other.

This is why I spend so much time pondering the traditionalist view that terrestrial perfection -- which is to say, unity -- lies in the past, and that time is an ultimately degenerative process. This goes directly against my intuitive sense that time is ultimately progressive, even though from within time, things are always simultaneously getting worse and better, so it's understandable that some people see through the half empty glass darkly.

It's very much analogous to the free market, which, at any given moment, will appear to create "problems" such as "income inequality." But if one tries to force incomes to be more equal -- to "spread the wealth around" -- it just results in less wealth, productivity, and affluence for the system as a whole.

Now, a lot of puzzling and even startling things happen within time -- i.e., apparent ontological discontinuities -- that I believe cannot be sufficiently (i.e., in a way that satisfies our total intellect) explained by either science or by tradition, but only by a higher synthesis of the two, which is what I attempted to do in the Coonifesto.

You might say that the vertical is One, the horizontal is two, and man is the higher third that unites them; or, in the Laosy absurcular logic of Taoism, The Tao gives birth to One / One gives birth to Two / Two gives birth to Three / Three gives birth to all things. So the Three and One are really two sides of the same mata-reality beyond being.

Speaking of those discontinuities, there is not, nor will there ever be, any scientific explanation of the phenomenon of life itself, nor of human consciousness. These are well beyond the limits of what materialistic science can deal with. Obviously, human consciousness explains science, not vice versa. Likewise, language and reason explain natural selection, not the converse. If evolution were the cause of language, then the truth of evolution could not be known. This is axiomatic.

I think we can stipulate that the world is either headed toward apocalypse or unity. If time is progressive, then history represents an arc of salvolution that will result in the reunification of the world, after our 50,000 year journey out of Africa and into the prismhouse of time and cultural diversification.

If this reunification -- i.e., higher synthetic unity -- does not occur, then I agree with the traditionalists that mankind cannot be sustained, and that we are headed toward some sort of disaster foretold in all of the world's mythologies -- a disaster that falls under the heading of "apocalypse." No one knows the time, the hour, or the details, but it will be nasty. Sort of like the fantasies of the global warming hysterics, only in reality.

The question is, does history have an expiration date, or does it have a way to "renew" and regenerate itself? There are many ways to look at this question. The Christian view would be that history essentially reached its inevitable nadir long ago, which is why God decided to take things into his own hands and jump down into his creation so as to reverse its downward course. Absent having done so, history would have continued winding down into chaos and barbarism. While humans may have still existed, it would be in a kind of spiritual darkness that we can scarcely conceive.

Actually, we don't really have to look far to perceive the shadow of this darkness, for it not only exists within ourselves, but pervades certain precincts of the present world untouched by the Judeo-Christian TimeLifeStream, perhaps most visibly in the Islamist death cult and the necropolis of the psychospiritual left, both of which are a kind of parasitic Death that feeds on Life.

It's not just that we merely "disagree" with the left. Rather, we regard it as a pure horror, for if we had to reduce our consciousness down to the level from which it proceeds, we would no longer be ourselves. And then there would be no point to living. Might as well become a community organizer.

Christopher Dawson was a (small t) traditionalist, but did not believe that history was inevitably winding down. He did, however, feel that only a spiritual rebirth could reverse our downward historical trend.

As Birzer explains, Dawson saw "beyond the mechanistic and materialistic understanding of history," and arrived "at a meta-history that transcended and transfigured conventional historical assumptions." Whereas the conventional historian who focuses on the "raw material" of history can "lose sight of the deeper spiritual forces that make history intelligible to us," Dawson attempted to place the individual "within a larger mythological understanding of story and history" and to render "the past present by the light of the eternal omnipresent." In short, the One can illuminate the Two in a way that the Two can never directly illuminate the One.

In point of fact, the historian cannot help but place history within the context of a larger myth, the question being whether it is a true or false one. In ether worlds, we speak of myth in the proper sense of a narrative that embodies and discloses archetypal reality, not in the fallen sense of mere quasi-animal passive imagination. "It is only in the poetic imagination which is akin to that of the child and the mystic that we can feel the pure sense of mystery and transcendence which is man's natural element" (Dawson).

Any sort of leftist historicism derived from Marx is not just pure mythology (in the luciferic sense), but is a counter myth that is not rooted in any kind of transcendent reality, only in the fevered imagination of the leftist. The same can be said for the myths of scientism, atheism and materialism. Naturally, Dawson was not taken seriously by these intellectually unserious types, since "he took seriously the importance of the Creator, the profound implications of the Incarnation, and the movement of the Holy Spirit in history."

Dawson viewed history through the mirror of revelation instead of the projection of ideology -- and not just the revelation of scripture, but through the living revelation (↓) given him by the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, history itself is a revelation of that same Spirit, so the writing of history ultimately involves spirit interpreting Spirit, so to speak. There is no question that he was just as "scholarly" as any academic historian, except that he was free from the narrow and artificial constraints of various fashionable ideologies which come and go.

For Dawson, historicism is "the belief that men can, by the use of their natural powers, discover an inner meaning in the historical process." But "a civilization cannot long survive the dying of belief in a transcendent order that brought the culture into being." Therefore, by "re-mythologizing" history, Dawson was simply doing what I said must be done to avoid eventual catastrophe, which is to write a universal history in the teeth of forces that "desire nothing less than the total subversion and destruction of all that is True, Good, and Beautiful."

Although it is always the blest and curst of times, Dawson may be forgiven for believing that he lived in a somewhat uniquely perilous age, in that (writing in 1940) "the dark forces that have been chained by a thousand years of Christian civilization... have now been set free to conquer the world." Fascism, communism, socialism, and any other illiberal statism all depend upon and flow from the de-Christianization and re-paganization of the West, and the gradual descent into "a chaos of pure sensation."

It should go without saying that there is no merely "human" cure for this temporal descent (since it is a downward prolongation, so to speak, of our fallen humanness), and that "the forces of evil cannot be successfully resisted without the power of Spirit," the only thing which can carry on the work of Creation and thereby reverse our otherwise inevitable Fall.

"Good Petey," cried the B'ob, as down upon the ground he fell: "Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you’ve shown me, by an altered life!"

"I'll think about it," sayeth Petey.

"Okay, then, how's this: I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I shall dilate time and live in and above the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me toward their ultimate fulfillment. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may overcome my higher education and sponge away the writing on this stone! Cut me some slack, O ambiguous spirit!"

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.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Birth of a Cosmos: Cosmogeny Recapitulates Psychogeny

Back in the womb from which I came, I had no God and was merely myself. --Meister Eckhart, speaking of his own womb with a pew

Is the human species "maturing" -- which is to say, evolving -- with time? Consider the "Muslim world," which is either more or less mature than the West as a whole. It is a yes or no question, but in order to answer it, one must have either an implicit or explicit theory of human development, as every developmental theory is guided by a telos, i.e., an end toward which the organism is striving. Thus, in order to know whether mankind is evolving, one must first understand the purpose of the human station.

Dr. Sanity believes that millions of Muslims suffer from "Teddy Bear Syndrome" (coined by Victor Davis Hanson), which is "the tendency of many Muslims to judge Westerners and those who do not adhere to Islam as 'blasphemous' when they exercise freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of choice, and freedom of religion; and to react in an intolerant, inappropriate and violent rage, demanding death or some other extreme punishment for the accused."

Yes, Teddy Bear Syndrome shares many similarities to left wing political correctness, so it must be a variant of a potential that is present in everyone, a primitive impulse that must be "outgrown" -- like throwing temper tantrums when you don't get your way, or ramming through complex legislation that no one has read, or suing to overturn the 2000 presidential election. The TB syndrome is why nowhere in the West does one find more intellectual immaturity than on an elite university campus.

But fortunately, most people are not left wing university professors. Yet.

Regarding the etiology of Teddy Bear Syndrome, Dr. Sanity writes that part of the problem results from the failure of Islam "to evolve from its medieval and primitive origins" (emphasis mine). But on any traditionalist view -- including traditional Christianity -- religion does not evolve. Rather, the whole point is that it is fixed and final. However, just like everything else, scripture looks very different to a developmentally mature mind than it does to an immature one.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I gave up childish ways. First the milky way; then the meaty way.

The psychological immaturity of the Islamic world is generally mirrored by a pseudomature response by the "liberal" West. As Hanson writes, "the reaction to this madness is now stereotyped. Often apologies -- not condemnation -- follow from contrite Westerners. To prevent a recurrence, Western writers, filmmakers, teachers and religious figures quietly edit their work and restrict their speech -- but only when Islam is involved."

When this happens, it is analogous to allowing the baby to run the household. Children naturally try to manipulate parents, but a good parent knows how to set boundaries and to be consistent. However, over the past 40-50 years, especially with the Baby Boomer generation, these psychological boundaries have been discarded, which has resulted in an indiscriminate blending (as opposed to a true synthesis or integration) of the sexes and generations, and of high and low.

One of the reasons for this is that the Baby Boom generation may have been the first to actually prevail in the perennial battle between adults and children, thus providing no check on the tendency toward omnipotence. In other words, in prevailing in the Oedipal struggle, they lost, for the downside of vanquishing Father is that one ends up orphaned.

Yes, some positive things obviously came out of the 1960s, but one of the most baleful ones was the Genderless Adultolescent. This is a person who by definition can never be mature, but only give the appearance of being so. It is much more difficult to be a Genderless Adultolescent on the right, whereas it is more or less normative on the left, as exemplified by their current low-standard bearer. Anyone who reads left wing blogs knows this is so.

As for myself, being primarily a vertically oriented person, I think of politics -- as it typically plays out -- as a distraction from reality. On the one hand, I do not conflate salvation with conservative political success. Rather, it's just that the left is so incredibly dangerous and destructive on every level -- intellectual, economic, psychological, and spiritual -- that it must be combatted. In fact, most conservatives would prefer to ignore politics and be left alone to enjoy their lives, but this would be irresponsible so long as the left pursues its antihuman agenda with such religious fervor.

The problem with most history, even to this day, is that it is too sweeping and general, and ignores the reality of the unconscious and the insights of developmental psychology. It makes it difficult to comprehend something as fundamentally irrational as Islamism. The left, for example, treats Islamism as a rational response to something we have done, which seems like "empathy" or sensitivity but is actually the very opposite, a kind of self-congratulatory indulgence of an enraged child.

In One Cosmos I quoted John Bowlby, one of the early pioneers of attachment theory, who wrote that "The truth is that the least-studied phase of human development remains the phase during which a child is acquiring all that makes him most human. Here is still a continent to conquer."

Similarly, Tolstoy wrote that "From the child of five to myself is but a step. But from the newborn baby to the child of five is an appalling distance." Or the anthropologist Norbert Elias: "It seems as if grown-up people, in thinking about their origins, involuntarily lose sight of the fact that they themselves and all adults came into the world as little children. Over and over again, in the scientific myths of origin no less than the religious ones, they feel impelled to imagine: In the beginning was a single human being, who was an adult."

But in reality, In the beginning is a neurologically incomplete, helpless little baby, utterly dependent upon caretakers who may or may not be up to the task of raising him, and who themselves bear the unconscious scars of their own childhood trauma. Thus, it is not so much that "in the beginning is the baby" as "in the beginning is the dynamic relationship between an unformed nervous system that will develop (or fail to develop) its potential in rapport with its caretakers."

Take the myth of Genesis, for example. This can be misleading, since it begins with the creation of a male adult, followed by a female adult (who comes out of the male), and lastly, a couple of children.

But in reality, the reverse is true: first there is a baby, out of which comes the mother, who then bifurcates (from the infant's point of view) into a mother and father. In other words, the baby cannot possibly imagine that the mother gave birth to him, as doing so would require abstract language, boundaries, a conception of linear time, the differentiation between inside and outside, etc.

Rather, as Winnicott observed, there isn't actually such a thing as a baby (at least as far as the baby is concerned). Instead, there is a true union of mother and infant, a (hopefully) harmonious psychological matrix (matrix being etymologically linked to womb) through which the baby will eventually "discover" the mOther -- and only later her consort, who is Fa(r)ther away in developmental time.

Fascinatingly, Genesis is psychospiritually capacious enough to be supplemented with the infant's view of the cosmic situation. This was an idea developed by James Grotstein, but it is also implicit in the interpretations of some mishnavous rabbis who view Genesis as an orthoparadox about man's movement from psychological infancy and dependence to maturity and independence.

As Kass writes, "Eating from the tree certainly produces a death of innocence. Through judgmental self-consciousness, human beings become self-separated; the primordial childlike, unself-divided, and peaceful state of the soul 'dies.' Thanks to reason and freedom, protoman becomes a different being -- the old one dies. This death, repeated in every human life, we have all experienced for ourselves; the contented and carefree life that we knew as innocent children is in fact permanently lost to us, the inevitable result of our rise to self-conscious knowledge of good and bad."

The rabbinical tradition often turns scripture inside-out or upside-down in order to squeeze out a little additional wisdom. Don't worry, scripture is resilient. It can handle rough play, and will return to its original shape. In Grotstein's case, he begins with the psychological fact of infantile omnipotence. One can argue whether or not God is omnipotent, but infants certainly are, for how could they know otherwise?

Thus, the omnipotent baby (again, from the baby's point of view) is quite obviously the creator of the cosmos, including its mother and father. Clearly, a brand new cosmos comes into being with the birth of every child, does it not? There is no cosmos at all in the absence of consciousness, so it is simply an existential fact that cosmogenesis is repeated afresh with every newborn baby: cosmogeny recapitulates psychogeny, so to speak.

Here is another aped quote from the Coonifesto, this one from David Darling, author of Equations of Eternity: "[W]e may reasonably view an infant's dawning of awareness on two levels: as a consciousness arising in the individual and, simultaneously, in the universe as a whole.... we can watch an incredibly condensed version of the growth of awareness on this planet, and in the cosmos, in each developing child."

But only if you are a sensitive parent. Isn't this a big part of the joy of parenting, re-participating in the birth of a fresh new cosmos, as your child -- and his world -- changes from day to day? Jesus made so many sensitive comments about children and about the relationship between a child's consciousness and spiritual awareness, that it's a little surprising that people fail to make the explicit connection.

God is the newest thing there is; the youngest thing there is. God is the beginning, and if we are united to him we become new again.... My soul is as young as the day it was created. Yes, and much younger! --Meister Eckhart

Monday, November 15, 2010

If Good Times are Bad, What Makes a Lifework Leafing?

I try to take human beastlings as I find them, not as I wish them to be. And I find humanity at large to be a pretty appalling bunch. Half of them, anyway. Half the time. In any given school year, the class is half fools.

Does this make me a misanthrope? Hardly. There is a stark distinction between objectivity and cynicism -- or idealization, for that matter -- neither of which is an acceptable stance for the truth seeker. One of the major differences between conservatives and liberals is that the former tend to love people but believe mankind stinks, while the latter love mankind but have no use for the actual people whom they wish to dominate and control.

In his book Human Accomplishment, Charles Murray writes that "We human beings are in many ways a sorry lot, prone to every manner of vanity and error. The human march forward has been filled with wrong turns, backsliding, and horrible crimes."

Nevertheless, he takes the nuanced Raccoon position that "in its grand sweep, it has indeed been a march forward. On every dimension, the last half-dozen centuries in particular have brought sensational improvement which, with qualifications, continues to this day."

In the book, Murray attempts to quantify the great things humans have accomplished, but it seems that for every achievement there is an equal and opposite monument to our depravity. He asks, "What can Homo sapiens brag about -- not as individuals, but as a species?"

He notes, for example, that military accomplishment is out of the question, since "putting 'Defeated Hitler' on the human resumé is too much like putting 'Beat My Drug Habit' on a personal one." He also rules out mere governance and commerce, since these "are akin to paying the rent and putting food on the table" as it pertains to our species as a whole.

In other words, these are things human beings must do in order to survive and prosper. They are not so much accomplishments as prerequisites for them. What took (and continues to take) so long for mankind to simply get out of its own way? (In fact, I would actually put successful commerce high on the list of accomplishments, as it is something that the vast majority of human beings -- most especially the tenured -- not only do not understand, but actively interfere with, e.g., Keynes, Krugman, & other Krackpots.)

Now, this progressive view of mankind goes directly against the traditionalist view of a degenerating mankind. Again, traditionalists locate perfection in the past, to such an extent that they often seem to think their thesis requires no empirical support.

For example, in The Order of the Ages, Bolton writes, "We think today about progress, and about how much society has advanced in the last few decades, but the evidence for this could equally well be used to argue that these are times of extreme decadence, when all natural and human standards have been overturned and we await the inevitable dissolution of all that the modern mind has created. Either we are moving toward new, higher standards of science and civilization or we stand at the very end of an era, on the verge of Apocalypse."

Bolton believes the latter, but on the third hand, both could be true: as we proceed through time, the polarity or tension within the human soul just becomes more and more extreme:

There was a bright light,
A shattering of shop windows
The bomb in the baby carriage
Was wired to the radio


The news of most any day reminds us of this ironic polarity, that "these are the days of miracle and wonder," so "don't cry baby, don't cry." For every Simon there's a Garfunkel, and yet, the two together create a third that is more successful than either.

Murray writes that "the human capital for great accomplishment and the underlying human attraction to excellence are always with us, but environments for eliciting great accomplishment are not."

I mentioned this the other day in the context of the so-called Palestinians, a culture so depraved that it literally provides the individual no opportunity to even be adequate, let alone excellent. Rather, it demands madness, bloodlust, sadism, hatred, and depravity, which has probably been true of most human cultures down through the ages. Just as he is free to choose evil over good, man, because he can know, can know many things that aren't so. And most of what he knows falls into this latter category.

Michael Novak writes of a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D’Souza on the subject of atheism:

"In it, I heard Christopher describe his own view of the world, which may be abbreviated as follows: It was just 100,000 years ago that humans finally appeared on this planet. On average, these poor creatures died by age 25, and suffered (often horribly) from disease, earthquake, flood, famine, and cyclones -- not to mention murder and warfare. Only after some 96,000 years does Jewish history begin, and only after some 98,000 years does Christian 'salvation' come. For all those thousands of years the Creator/Designer left human beings to suffer. Then, even after Judaism and Christianity arrive, the suffering continues almost unabated. In addition, these poor human beings are badly designed. They have developed too much adrenaline, and the frontal lobes of their brains are too small. All these together leave humans in a bleak condition in a bleak world, and with very little hope."

Now, I happen to agree with Hitchens, at least as far as he goes. In fact, so does the Pope in a recent encyclical. Novak writes that

"Benedict agrees that the condition of humans before the Jewish and Christian news of God’s intentions was as bleak as Hitchens says. The idea of progress was not present in consciousness.... The idea that each human is free in his individual conscience -- not the conscience solely of city, tribe, or even family -- had not been introduced. The idea that the human mind is proportioned to the world as it is, and capable, in the image of the Creator, of creating new inventions, discoveries, and means of progress in history, had not yet been grasped by the mind of humans."

So Pope Benedict is obviously not a traditionalist in the Guenon/Schuon sense, but a crypto-Coon who recognizes genuine progress and therefore doesn't blow up the baby with the bombwire. He knows that progress has occurred, but at the same time, that it is never enough to satisfy the soul of man. But don't cry, baby. Novak continues:

"Even the human capacity for invention and technological progress, we find, is not a consistent bearer of hope. Humans remain both free and also drawn to self-love, arrogance of power, irrational ambitions, and moral decadence.... Thus, at any time even instruments of great good can be turned into instruments of unparalleled evil. Of this we had much evidence during the 20th century.... [T]he horrific evils that millions experienced in the last hundred years required more than logic, science, and crazy utopian ideas. Hitchens and others are free to accept or to reject the hope that Judaism and Christianity implant in the souls of many. The fact is that this Jewish and Christian hope, once it became the driving force of Mediterranean and European civilization, produced an unrivaled and enduring burst of optimism, inquiry, and stunning progress."

So we come back to what I stated at the outset of this post about taking man as I find him: "Judaism and Christianity have the advantage of dealing with the world as it is. They take it with all its hurt and folly, stupidity and egotism, natural disasters and disasters by human hands. Both faiths prepare their daughters and sons to face a vale of tears, to meet much suffering equably, to keep their hopes unbroken no matter what, and to show courage worthy of the children of the True God. For both faiths, suffering is an irremovable fact of life."

I would suggest that you're lucky to be alive during an era when you can say It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, because for most of human history, it has mostly been the latter, which leads to something like this sentiment: "It is the worst of times, but we remember the best of times, even if they only exist in myth and story."

Traditionalists, insofar as I am able to determine, believe in a literal "best of times," a "golden age" that had no simultaneous and intrinsic "worst of times."

But those on the left believe in an insane mirror image of this: that these are the worst of times and that we can perfect mankind and build a utopia which will be the best of times.

But to paraphrase something very infallible that the Pope said a few years ago, before he was even Pope, "the loss of transcendence leads to the flight to utopia." The leftist program is a surefire way to create a true worst of times, as they proved time and time again in the 20th century. A Jew in Nazi Germany or a political prisoner in the Soviet Union, or Cuba, or China, can be forgiven for believing "these are the worst of times, full stop."

So a Raccoon believes that the very conditions of our human existence somehow necessitate this outwardly absurd tension of good times, bad times, of which I've certainly had my share. Yes, the song and dance remains the same, even if you can't dance to to the song. For what is a Led Zeppelin, anyway? It's really a promethean lead balloon, which might get you high, but not for long. "Oh the humanity!"

In the days of my youth
I was told what it means to be a man,
Now I've reached that age
I've tried to do all those things the best I can.
But no matter how I try,
I find my way into the same old jam.


Of course you do, pagan! There's only one way out, and it's not in the past, nor is it in the future.

James Joyce planted it in zoso many pages: perpetual fall and redemption, and irreconcilable dualities within a cyclical but spiraling time that mixes darkness and light, AKA the Nightmare of History:

The fall of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. (Those broken financiers who leapt from Wall Street buildings in 1929 only fell back to the earth, same as the high flying bubble-blowers of 80 years later.)

Hohohoho, Mister Finn, you're going to be Mister Finnagain! Comeday morm, and, O, you're vine! Sendday's eve and, ah, you're vinegar! Hahahaha, Mister Funn, you're going to be fined again! (The same vine produces wine and vinegar, for every fun there's an equal and opposite fine, and every fin, or end, is a new finnagain, or beginning.)

Gricks may rise and Troysirs may fall (there being two sights for ever a picture) for in the byways of high improvidence that's what makes lifework leaving and the world's a cell for citters to cit in. (Cit is the sanskrit word for consciousness, which is simultaneously liberation and prison.)

And even if Humpty shell fall frumpty times as awkward again... there'll be iggs for the brekkers come to mournhim, sunny side up with care. (Fall and rise, fall and rise, olden pneumagain, same old same old, to break from the infertile eggheads you've got to om a lot -- in your own way, of course.)

The movibles are scrawling in motions, marching, all of them ago, in pitpat and zingzang, for every busy eerie whig's a bit of a torytale to tell. (Every political program's got a bit -- or more than a bit -- of its opposite, so don't get all excited when one end of the sleazesaw is up. Fascism, the lust for control over others, is in the human heart, so every loving lefty is the frightful righty he fears, just as every hysterical olbermann's a banal undertaker.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

When Small Men Cast Long Shadows, Darkness is Approaching...

... yeah, but so too is a new dawn.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Time: What It Is and What To Do About It

Although we have a single word for it -- "time" -- it has three equally distinct and mysterious modes (past-present-future) which appear to be as different from each other as, say, mind is from matter. If one considers mind and matter apart from each other, it seems that there could be no way to put them together. And yet, there they are harmoniously entwined in Life, living in wholly matterimany.

The point is that mind and matter are human abstractions, just as are past, present and future. In fact, life is a kind of link between spirit and nature, just as the present is a link between past and future. But this is to speak only horizontally. There are also vertical links throughout (↓↑), both in time and space (another duality that can only be artificially abstracted, for if One is present, so too is the Other).

The present is the "place" where the past brings the future into being (→), but also where the the future flows into the now and becomes the past (←). As Bolton writes, "everything in the past was once future, and then present; everything present was future and will be past; and everything future will be present and then past."

Based upon this, the past would appear to be fixed, but is this really so? Not if the past is inherently entangled with the future. Future events can occur which will give the past an entirely different meaning, always predicated on human choices in the now. For example, if one wrote a history of the 19th century prior to World War I, it would look very different than a history written after World War I, because only as more of the future became the past could one understand events that were implicit in the past, but yet to play themselves out in time.

In other words, the past had hidden potentials that were still playing themselves out in the future. As Bolton writes, "the contents of the past are thus in constant change by virtue of their changing relationship to the present."

In so many ways, the mission of MSM state-run media is to enclose the now so as to define the past and therefore control the future. But that's a subject for a different post.

In physics, there is only a one-way arrow of change, from past to future. But as Bolton explains, "to give the experience of change," time "must form a combination of static and dynamic elements. A time series which consisted of pure dynamism could not supply any kind of experience because every element in it would have become something else before it could be known." Alternatively, "a purely static time would not be temporal at all. Only a mingling of the changing with the unchanging can constitute time..."

This is why I not only believe music to be the most adequate way available to us to think about time, but why we are so drawn to it: because it reveals the very form of time, which in turn brings inherent pleasure, similar to the epistemophilic pleasure of discovery, or "erotics of being." We love it because it is true, or conveys principial truth about the nature of things.

In short, the ear can tell us much more about time than the eye, but all of science is biased more toward the eye in its mapping of reality. Indeed, science ultimately aims to map all of reality in such a way that it specifically excludes time.

For example, a "grand theory of everything" would consist of a single equation that unifies all of the forces in physics -- forces which result in the "illusion" of time. But what if the cosmos is more like a grand symphony, which has a complex vertical structure (i.e., the "spatial" chords) and a more open and horizontal "melodic" aspect that wends its way through the chords, like a jazz soloist?

Zuckerkandl writes that "The knowledge of space that hand and eye possess is exactly matched by their ignorance of time.... A true image of time must be an image for the ear, an audible image made of tones.... Thanks to music, we are able to behold time."

Now, a work of serious music is obviously a "whole," but it is again a temporal whole with a complex array of vertical and horizontal relations. In fact, in rereading Eliot's Wasteland yesterday, I could hear how very "musical" it is, with complex motifs recurring and commenting upon one another as the poem unfolds, just as in a symphony. Thus, it seems that poetry in general would represent a closer approximation to the structure of reality than any ordinary linear prose.

I am sure this is what Schuon means when he says that a simple believer in literal creationism is surely closer to the truth than any form of materialism can ever be. To say that Genesis is "poetry" is hardly to denigrate it; rather, it is to point out that it employs the appropriate modality to even begin to talk about ultimate reality. It does not pretend to be able to capture the unsayable in language (unless you have no poetic sense and have missed the point), but to use what can be said to disclose what otherwise can't be said or even thought about.

The word became flesh and dwelt among us. Language, like music, is deployed in time. Because of this, you cannot comprehend the meaning of a statement by analyzing its constituent parts, i.e., by breaking it down into its individual words and letters. It is not that the words and letters additively reveal a meaning; rather, they are all in the service of a higher meaning, and were chosen for the very purpose of conveying it.

Here again, much of the pleasure in writing is searching for and "discovering" the correct word or phrase for the meaning one wishes to convey, very much as a musician will try to find the proper notes to say what he wishes to say in a solo. This is one more reason there can never be "artificial intelligence" except in its linear sense, but never in the holistic way in which the higher mind operates.

Consider the vast differences between a chess-playing computer program and a chess master. The computer program must consider trillions of possibilities before deciding on a single move, whereas "even the greatest human player considers at most a few thousand, and usually far fewer." Thus, this "billion-to-one advantage in calculating power is nullified by the human grandmaster's power of understanding" (National Review). It is this depth of understanding that instantaneously excludes literally billions of blind alleys.

As does a profound philosophy of life. In particular, I'm thinking again of how revelation is intended to provide a musical structure with which one may adequately play the "cosmic suite." No computer program could ever do this, because in life, the choices multiply exponentially as compared to a chess match. How do we reduce the chaos to meaning, without reducing meaning to meaninglessness, as does scientism?

Religion begins with the idea that ultimate meaning exists, and that it is this meaning that "sponsors," so to speak, all of the meaning we encounter on a moment-to-moment basis, no matter how trivial. Meaning is meaningful because Meaning is always there propping it up; or words are there (including everything from DNA to the mathematical constants that govern physical reality) because the Word is there "behind," "beneath," "within," or "above" them. "Meaning" and "Wholeness" are two aspects of the same principle, since meaning is only grasped by sensing the wholeness of parts.

In fact, in the absence of wholeness there could obviously be no parts, because they wouldn't be parts of anything. They would be their own wholes, which is what existentialism pretends to be on the human plane, in which each person is a total assoul.

This is patently true of "spatial" objects, but what about temporal ones? If we try to analyze time by dissecting it into its constituent parts, do we not eliminate the very melody we are attempting to hear, the Song Supreme? This is the domain of metahistory, which is apparently no longer fashionable, except that it actually is, in the same way that the Left presents us with a counterfeit version of any profound truth. Leftism is like an inverted mirror of falsehood, through which deep truths are presented upside down and backwards, for example, the doctrine of materialism. Materialsm is just an ass-backward religion that starts at the wrong end of reality and proceeds to elevate its absurd error to an absolute.

But the moment one treats parts in an atomistic way, as if they are unrelated in time, one has falsified reality. This is precisely why physicists are powerless to understand the most profound and shocking facts of the universe, e.g. Life, Mind and Spirit. They cannot even discuss these things without a priori turning them into something they are not. But as we wrote in OCUG, "Only by changing our perspective to a 'top down' one, from spirit to mind to life to matter, does the cosmos become intelligble in its totality, a totality that unquestionably includes biological and psychological dimensions."

Thus, in the Raccoon view, "when we talk about a 'relationship' between Life and the cosmos, we are dealing quite literally with a tautology, a statement of equivalence." Given the temporal entanglement of the cosmos, in order to not mislead, we cannot refer only to "the universe," but to something along the lines of "the living universe" or "the universe in the process of becoming locally conscious," because only in such a way do we not exclude the most important fact of the cosmos, i.e, the observer expressing this truthful statement.

The universe is intrinsically and not just accidentally conscious. It has never been unknown to human beings that this can be proven in mystical experience, but I believe it can also be proven through transrational logic. Certain things must be, and one of them is that our individual consciousness partakes of a much greater consciousness, in the same way that our little ego relates to the cosmic Dreamer who dreams us. One image Alan Watts used to employ is that of a lampshade with hundreds of pinholes. Viewed from the outside, it will look as if there are hundreds of little lights, but in reality, there is only the one bulb at the center.

Oh yes, about that little "slot" where we dilate time and gain a more expansive view of the cosmic goings-on. Mouravieff writes that this slot is like a keyhole -- or key to the whole -- that opens many mysteries.

I've written about this before -- about the "A influences" and the "B influences," the former coming "from the world," the latter from outside or "above" it.

One of the first steps in any spiritual practice is, of course, to tap into a stream of B influences, through which one begins to liberate oneself from the chaotic A influences (which are alternatively coercive, seductive or hypnotic, but always average out to "zero"). As one begins to actualize one's own latent esoteric center (which I symbolize as (¶) in my book), it proceeds to operate as its own "magnetic center" which draws nonlocal assistenance from other Coons, both living and technically dead. Now that you are plugged into Coon Central, I am sure this has become a basic fact of your day-to-deity life.

I can't possibly do justice to this topic in a slotted time, but let's just highlight the fact that spiritual knowledge can never be reduced to "know how" in the absence of "be who," for it always involves an expansion of being, not merely the accumulation of intellectual knowledge, or (k).

Furthermore, once this be-who (n) is assimilated, it works on us in a way that (k) never can; in this regard, it is much more analogous to medicine, or perhaps a catalytic enzyme. But as it figuratively impregnates us, it literally impregnates us, and in spirituality one can definitely be "a little bit pregnant," as (¶) grows and expands within our womb with a pew.

Now, the present can be so narrow as to be functionally non-existent for the average person. So distracted is he by the world of A-influences, that the slot of the present -- the only place where be-who can occur -- narrows down to nothing. It might as well be the past, which is why people in thrall to the A influences are technically dead, and why Jesus said that they should just bury their fallow trivialers.

But there is another present -- I believe this is the present Petey was referring to on page 15, where he axes, You haven't perceived the hologram to your private particle? Come in, open His presence, and report for karmic duty. Why, it's a Tree of Life for those whose wood beleaf!

Mouravieff writes that the present "necessarily has extension," but that for exterior man, "this extent is very short.... if we reduce this Present to the zero we think it is, it becomes purely and simply cessation of existence. It is thus that death actually occurs."

Ah ha! Life, therefore, has something do to with the expansion of the present. But for someone who abandons himself to A influences, the gift of the present is taken away. D'oh!

But all forms of concentration, meditation, intellection, and prayer, are aimed at enlarging the present, which is in reality the only "place" that is outside time -- or "above" it, so to speak. If time is a line, this allows us to exist at a right angle to it, where we can begin to perceive time in its fullness, exercise a more profound degree of free will (verticalisthenics), and make deeper connections with the non-temporal realities that vertically flow into time (gymgnostics).

This is what Mouravieff believes Jesus meant when he cracked about the "strait gate": For wide is the door and broad is the path that leads to perdition. Many are they that enter it. For strait is the door and narrow is the Path that leads to life, and few are they that find them.

And this is precisely where Jesus and J.R. "Bob" Dobbs merge, for this narrow path is the way back "upstream" to the source of our cosmic s'laq.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Truth Decay and Other Historical Phallacies

Whether because of my Americanism, my native optimism, or my raccoon genes, I just can't go along with the idea that time is inevitably proceeding in the direction of degeneration and dissolution. Yes, it is a superficially plausible idea, but the fact that it has always been plausible tends to undermine its plausibility.

In other words, I don't think there has ever been a time that people haven't noticed how messed up the world (and its unhappitants) seems to be. I mean, look at some of the lamentations in the Old Testament.

It is difficult to reject a thesis that contains so much truth; then again, it's the same reason I reject natural selection as an all-encompassing paradigm -- plenty of truth there as well, just not THE truth.

Just as natural selection represents a facile way for spiritually unevolved people to avoid straining their brains with metaphysics, the idea of historical entropy is an easy way for more spiritually attuned people to explain the state of the world. For the latter, it is impossible to ignore the gulf between the celestial and terrestrial, or Reality and appearances. But this gulf -- this middle earth -- is where human beings live, and will always live.

So people have always been concerned with the direction of history, which, at any given time, appears to be going badly.

To cite one particularly glaring example, Jesus appeared at a time when it was felt by the Jewish masses that things could hardly get worse. Everyone was anticipating the messiah, convinced that historical degeneration was so complete that the end was near. But according to Bolton's thesis -- and of the traditionalists in general -- ancient Rome would have been much closer to the "Golden Age" than our time. This has always struck me as almost pure fantasy, divorced from historical realities.

Traditionalists seem to feel it is so obvious that history is going in a "negative" direction, that the assertion requires no historical support at all. But if you examine the actual conditions of the average Job living in Ancient Egypt, or Greece, or Rome, or the Middle Ages, it was a horror. However, because the traditionalists are extremely aesthetically- and philosophically-minded, it's as if they make sweeping historical conclusions based upon the most beautiful and lofty objects and thoughts that have survived to this day.

Yes, the Egyptians left us some impressive artwork, no doubt. Then again, they had 5000 years to do it in, a figure so vast that it is inconceivable to us. Frankly, I don't think we can even grasp the fact that when Augustine -- who had the greatest influence on Western thought for 1000 years -- did his writing, it was already going on four centuries after the time Jesus lived. We don't even know all that much about Christianity during its first two-plus centuries, a period of time as long as the United States has existed.

But the further back in history we go, the more we "compress" the time, which not only obscures all of the (often gruesome) details, but ends up being no better than a psychological projection into the past.

Thus, for example, if you are on the depressive, pessimistic, or alienated end of the psychological spectrum, it's easy to conclude that the present more or less blows, since we see all the horrifyng, disgusting detail of our own age up close and personal. One glancing below through the glass-bottomed boat at the sewer of Huffington Post, and one would be forgiven for believing that mankind cannot stink any lower and that the end is at hand.

It's very similar to what psychotherapy patients do on an individual basis. People tend not to consciously remember much before the age of five, and only scattered details between five and nine.

But obviously, life was just as rich and detailed then as it is now -- in fact, more so, since every single day was an alternatively delightful or calamitous novelty, largely depending upon the quality of parenting. Life was overflowing with the fullness and the presence of being, but we just didn't have the language or the concepts to reflect upon it and store it within language. My son is the happiest and most intense person I know, but he'll never remember it, except unconsciously.

Patients who come in for therapy often have what are called "screen memories" of their childhood. They will remember this or that event with great detail, but upon investigation, it will turn out that it is a sort of "composite portrait" of a whole period, rich with symbolic meaning that needs to be "unpacked" and articulated. It's never just a literal memory, but more of a holofractal pneumagraph that can reveal layer upon layer of meaning by "turning" it ever so slightly, like a blinky toy.

Perhaps history is the same way. I know it is for me. It's like a huge black canvas upon which we project things from the present. Since the past is behind us, we imagine that we can take it into our view, but this is obviously impossible. There are huge lacunae that we just fill in with myth and fantasy, much in the same way that we fill the hole in our field of vision, where the optic nerve meets the eye. In a very real sense, it's true: there's nothing new except the history you don't know.

I tried to present just a fraction of the historical evidence of how bad things were in the past in Chapter 3 of One Cosmos, but obviously, that chapter could have been expanded into a whole book. My purpose was simply to make the point and then move on. Either you get it or you don't.

For example, no matter how violent things appear in the present, they simply cannot compare to how violent human beings were in the past. Michael Medved cites statistics indicating that "New York City is on track to have fewer than 500 homicides this year, by far the lowest number in a 12-month period since reliable Police Department statistics became available in 1963.... But within the city’s official crime statistics is a figure that may be even more striking: so far, with roughly half the killings analyzed, only 35 were found to be committed by strangers, a microscopic statistic in a city of more than 8.2 million."

In contrast, according to Lawrence Keely's War Before Civilization, the homicide rate of some prehistoric villages "would have been 1,400 times that of modern Britain or about 70 times that of the United States in 1980." Likewse, the Middle Ages were almost inconceivably violent. We just have no idea how "tame" and domesticated mankind has become in the past several centuries.

Indeed, we have only to look at the contemporary Mohammedans to get a glimpse of the psychotic violence that prevailed in the past. I remember reading about the Crusades recently, during which battles took place where the combatants were knee-deep in blood.

Yesterday I was reading about the sacking of Rome in 410, when the Gothic warriors mercilessly "raped, pillaged and murdered for nearly three straight days." As Dawson writes, the Goths did not regard themselves as barbaric. Rather, "as they understood it, Alaric and his men were loyal Romans and only desired formal recognition as legitimate armed forces." Yeah, like the Palestinians. They just want to be recognized.

I remember reading about Ancient Egypt in a book entitled Slaughter of the Innocents: Child Abuse Through the Ages and Today, and it was a pretty strange place, to put it mildly. Their politics were very different from ours. Especially their erections.

For example, Breiner writes that "The phallus was honored and vitally important in the religious and cultural life of Egypt. The gods are shown with an erect phallus, and a pharaoh was expected to demonstrate in public that he had one, too. At certain ceremonies, the pharaoh would stand before the people and show his erect phallus. Indirectly, this would be shown many times when his erection would lift his loincloth."

By this low-hanging standard, even Bill Clinton was a great defender of the principle of separation of crotch and state, despite what we've heard about the spate of his unions undressed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Progressing Toward the Origin

As we were discussing yesterday, with the scientific revolution, the idea of progress began to be taken for granted in western civilization. It's not so much that progress wasn't occurring -- which it obviously was -- but that it was only a specific type of very visible progress rooted in the scientific method and in technology. This being the case, it became easy to confuse scientific progress with progress as such, just because the former is so visible and quantitative.

The idea of progress contradicted what had been believed by virtually all human groups prior to the scientific revolution, which is that everything was subject to a steady decline and degeneration. There was no "moving forward"; rather, the idea was to try, insofar as possible, to arrest entropy and approximate the Golden Age of the past. Slack was in the rearview mirror, not up ahead, and every day meant further disenslackment on the road to nowhere.

The idea of universal degeneration was no doubt rooted in empirical observation. For example, everyone has the personal experience of their own body aging and degenerating.

More generally, there has never been a time when man was unaware of the universality of the second law of thermodynamics, or entropy, which mandates that in the long run, everything tends toward disorder. Although there can be local areas that seem to defy entropy -- such as biological organisms -- it is only temporary. Furthermore, close examination of seeming exceptions to the law of entropy reveals that they always deplete more energy than they create, resulting in a net loss of energy. (Or at least according to physics; spiritually it is another matter.)

Irrespective of whether or not the phenomenal world is inevitably winding down into chaos, we can see how the very idea of automatic (as opposed to self-willed) progress can lead to increased societal disorder. As Bolton explains, "The belief that the new must be the best nearly always works in favor of the bad." This ironyclad rule has been dramatically proven time and again since "progressivism" made its great leap backward with the New Deal.

The foolish idea of "new = good" is like a virus that, in the long run, will eventually eliminate wisdom and Truth, as we see most vividly on leftist college campuses, where virtually everything is simultaneously new and wrong. And the only solution (as far as they can see) is newer ideas, which only results in further chaos and confusion -- further distance from the ideal, or from principial truth. The idea that Truth lies in the past -- for example, in the Bible -- is laughable to them.

Civilization, according to Bolton "cannot undergo real historical change unless it possesses a structure of permanent principles which impose limits on the possible scope for change."

Indeed, this is something that all classical liberals (i.e., conservatives) realize. The leftist wants radical change, "which is more deeply opposed to real historical change than is institutionalized permanence, since the permanent at least contains the potentiality of change. Universal change, on the other hand, has no potentialities at all, since everything in it is actualized already, so that a final cessation is the only new frontier it could cross."

One important allied idea of Bolton's is that we are wrong to think that we either exist or do not exist; rather, there are degrees of existence, existence being rooted in difference (in other words, there can only be existence to the extent that something is "different," or "stands out").

Thus, for example, the first act of the Creator is to separate. Conversely, any kind of indiscriminate blending of divinely ordained differences is the very definition of evil.

Bolton points out the obvious psychospiritual disaster of blending male and female, and now adult and child, resulting in a potential race of neutered obamalescents. The next illogical step down this slithery sleep into the nihilistic effacement of archetypal differences is "homosexual marriage." (In other words, the whole point of marriage is to preserve and sacralize the differences in a dynamic union, not to efface them.)

Because of the idea of progress, we must -- either consciously or unconsciously -- believe ourselves to be superior to our ancestors. This is very much in contrast to traditional societies, where ancestors -- and the truth they handed down -- are venerated.

Now obviously, neither extreme is warranted, i.e., ancestor worship (which would cause complete stasis) or kneejerk rebellion (which leads to the loss of mankind's accumulated wisdom, or the spiritually fatal disease of the Boomer generation).

But again, we can see how the morally and intellectually superior progressive always knows better than the most illustrious minds of the past. Because of the accident of time, the contemporary progressive can look back, say, at the Founders, and regard them as mere "objects" in his cavalierview mirror. We can see them, but they can't see us.

But this is true only in the most crassly materialistic sense. For example, Shakespeare is "in the past," but do we really know him? No, of course not. His plays will always understand us -- which is to say, humanity as such -- better than we understand him.

Likewise, it is difficult for us to imagine the stupidity of the typical leftist who believes himself superior to the Founders because some of them owned slaves. This is what the idea of progress (wrongly construed) can do to a mind, which is to say, destroy it. Obama is free to critique the Constitution of the Framers; but imagine if they were here to critique him! Upon hearing that this malevolent cipher taught constitutional law, would they ever stop throwing up?

I generally see the same problem in the so-called "integral" thinkers, which is one of the main reasons I don't relate to them. In their dubious color-code system -- well, to quote one of them whose dreadful book I was asked to review, Winston Churchill and Pope John Paul are typical examples of "traditional consciousness," and are therefore lower on the evolutionary scale than the more evolved representatives of "modernist consciousness" such as Carl Sagan and Margaret Sanger. In turn, they are lower than the lofty beings who embody "postmodern consciousness," such as John Lennon, Joan Baez, Margaret Mead, and Allen Ginsberg.

I don't deny that there is some inevitable truth in "spiral dynamics," but any scheme that places Joan Baez above Winston Churchill is not even wrong (unless your criterion is that of the "eternally grating").

Now, one factor that was different about the past is that people were unaware of other religious traditions, let alone genuine science. Therefore, they lived in a kind of "innocence" (which literally means "without knowledge") that is impossible for us to reestablish. If we wish to be "spiritual," we must do so consciously. Therefore, in some sense we are obviously more "awake" than our ancestors, but the question is, to what?

Bolton writes that one compensatory factor for us is that in the past it was "really only a minor achievement to live spiritually in an age when spiritual values are established and expressed everywhere and the unspiritual is marginalized." (Just as, conversely, it is no big achievement today for a high school student to understand the physics of Newton.) There was a collective religiosity, but this generally came at the expense of personal development, or individuation in a spiritual context.

Bolton even makes the provocative suggestion that the true way is only fully realized when everything is more or less opposed to it. Thus, in this respect, perhaps we have the potential to travel "higher" than our (average) ancestor, if only because it is so exceedingly difficult to do so.

I suppose it's analogous to exercising where there is more gravity, say, on the earth as opposed to the moon. Not only are we "swimming upstream," but we are much further from the source, at least in the horizontal sense; in a relative sense, horizontality takes us further and further from the source, even if, in an absolute vertical sense, it is always the same "distance" away.

And in fact, this is a recurring idea in traditional metaphysics, that the very purpose of "incarnation" is to evolve under adverse circumstances, ultimately to "spiritualize matter." Bolton writes, "Such is the meaning of the Cross, as well as the purpose of ensoulment in the material world." There is an orthoparadox at play here, in that, in one sense, materiality seems to be the furthest distance from spirit.

But as Bolton explains, there is a deeper principle involved, "a law of polarity according to which only the highest cause can extend to the lowest level of effects."

In other words, most causes and effects in the world are in the "middle range," and therefore of little cosmic consequence. Only the highest cause extends to the lowest realm, which perhaps explains why "the meek shall inherit the earth," or why "spiritual bankruptcy" is so often a prerequisite of spiritual conversion. The testimony of thousands of seekers reveals that when you are near the end, you are near the beginning.

One subtle danger of simply "returning to tradition," is that the traditions themselves have been subject to the same corrosive forces of historical entropy that afflict the individual. Let's say we want to "return" to the "original meaning" of Christianity. Doing so is not as easy as it sounds, since Christianity necessarily exists "in the world," and absorbs qualities of the world in order to continue to exist.

As such, Bolton writes that "the function of tradition can actually be inverted under modern conditions," since the monotheistic religions "have each grown increasingly absorbed by their historical social roles, so that it has become an exercise of awareness to relate to the spirit which they nevertheless embody." In my opinion, Tradition is usually defined in hindsight. Could this mean that under the inverted conditions of postmodernity, spiritual evolution is the quintessence of Tradition?