Remembering to Forget to Remember: The One Thing Needful
Tomberg begins with the idea that sleep, death, and forgetting are all related to one another (cf. mortician, morphine and morpheus): just as sleep is the "younger brother of death," forgetting "is the younger brother of sleep."
Forgetting is "a partial sleep of the conscious mind, while sleep is a complete forgetting of consciousness." Conversely, to re-member is to "resurrect" something from unconsciousness, while awakening from sleep is the re-collection of our conscious self. Each day we are miraculously born again through the sacred Raccoon ritual of the holy caffeinated water.
Today the resurraction is taking a little bit longer, because I was up later last night, having attended the school Christmas show, which went on and on and on. I don't understand. The parents only care about seeing their own kid perform, if that. Why put them through the torture of watching all the others? I mean, every grade, K through 8th, and the kindergarteners were perversely put on last! May I be frank? It's things like this that remind me of why I didn't want to have children for all those years.
Anyway, just as life requires metabolism (building up) and catabolism (tearing down), our minds also require various kinds of forgetting in order to function. For example, in order to concentrate or meditate or pray, one must temporarily forget everything in consciousness with the exception of the non-doodling at hand.
If everything in consciousness were simultaneously present -- if one had no forgettery to complement one's remembery -- one could accomplish little. Things would very quickly grow overwhelming. Many people have difficulty distinguishing the foremost from the treevial. Taken to an extreme, this becomes obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is a kind of systematic preoccupation with surfaces to the exclusion of essences. But most people miss the Point (ʘ) in one way or another.
The process of writing these posts is much more analogous to the way art is created, in that we are essentially calling things up, down, and in from the wider realm of consciousness as such, somewhat like the spider that spins an external production out of its own substance -- which it then inhabits. And uses to catch living food. As the posts develop, they become like attractors that draw in what they need in order to complete themselves.
We all do this -- that is, crawl around in the psychic webs we spend our lives spinning -- some of us more consciously than others. But where does the material for the web come from? As ShrinkWrapped has noted on many occasions, the most naive and clueless people are those sophisticates who believe their minds are completely rational (in the profane sense) and that their psychic webs are spun from "pure reason."
Such individuals tend to be markedly tedious and shallow, as they are alienated from the larger and most vital part of their being. They tend to be on the obsessive-compulsive end of the spectrum, holding tightly to their little spotlight that is fixed upon a small area of darkness, instead of the vast -- even infinite -- interior cosmos that extends beyond the range of the spotlight, both "up" (into supra-sensory realms) and "down" (into the unconscious). In holding so tightly to their point, they miss it altogether.
One can also see how this type of obsessional thinking is analogous to one who "cannot die," for just as there is pathological forgetting (i.e., Alzeimer's), there is pathological remembering (i.e., scientism, rationalism, leftism, etc.). In both cases, a psychic death occurs: the Alzeimer's patient because he cannot remember, the materialist or doctrinaire leftist because he cannot forget. Because as soon as you successfully forget that rationalistic bedtime story, your local mind can die and your nonlocal being can hang out where the resurraction is.
This is one of the reasons why religious people in general and conservatives in particular tend to be so much happier than leftists and irreligious people. They also live longer and healthier lives, probably as a result of the deadly stress hormones produced by trying to live in a manner that is unnatural to -- and unworthy of -- human beings. Leftism is a recipe for unhappiness, if only because of the envy.
Just as human beings can only survive and flourish in a certain type of external environment (even if our technology is able to artificially maintain that environment in hostile climes), they also only flourish spiritually and psychologically in a certain type of "interior environment" that facilitates vertical recollection of the soul -- resurrection again.
Science begins with the known (k) and tries to extend it into the unknown (O), whereas religion begins in the infinite unknown (O) and tries to give voice to it in a more or less structured way. Revelation and theology represent more structured representations of O, while these daily bobservations are more spontaneous ones.
In a way, the process is analogous to free association in psychoanalytic therapy. The first and last rule of psychoanalysis is to disable your censor and to say whatever comes to mind, no matter how bizarre or trivial. By listening with "even hovering attention," a good analyst is able to apprehend a deeper order that is governing the patient's associations -- perhaps even catch a mind parasite in flagrante delicto, which is always a thrill.
With these posts, it's as if I am free associating, except "from above" rather than "below." As I continue associating, an order spontaneously emerges, but it is the same teleological order that was covertly guiding the process all along. The psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas refers to it as "Giving up narrative control to become a certain sort of subject within a process guided by the intelligence of the other" -- or the nonlocal m(O)ther and (F)author, as the case may be.
You might say that with the down-and-Incarnation, the eternal Christic order went from being implicate to explicate. The order was there as potential, but a human intermediary is required for it to manifest locally, so to speak -- just as Mary was required in order for God's word to assume biological life.
Obviously, it wasn't as if Christ (who is eternal) weren't present prior to the Incarnation, much less afterwards. But it was implicate existence -- wave rather than particle, so to speak. The revolutionary wave became particle for some 33⅓ years, in so doing, roiling the waves of deep history.
As I have mentioned before, those temporal waves continue to lap upon our distant shore, something which sounds strange but which is manifestly true even to the most metaphysically blind and dense individual. Leftists would like to eliminate that particular wave from history, but the effort is as vain as trying to clamp down on the ocean to stop tsunamis. Good luck. The rest of us will just enjoy the metaphysical surfing.
Your very self is a chaotic attractor that abides in the future, drawing you toward it, but only if you abandon your own alternate plans for your existence. Bollas describes the self as an "inner sense of destiny" which "seeks lived experience to realise its own particular aesthetic intelligence." "We sense this drive to present and represent our self as if it were an intelligent life force" which reveals itself through the way we uniquely make use of the objects (and subjects) of life. For example, cut a page of Lileks' bleat, and it sheds his blood. No one else could possibly use those particular objects and words in that particular way. His unique idiom is the exteriorization and realization of his equally unique self.
Now more than ever, because of the vast overabundance of infrahuman trivia and propaganda that surrounds us, it is necessary to live a life of disciplined forgetting in order to remember -- and therefore resurrect -- "the one thing needful."
Schuon was very adamant on this point, which can sound austere but is actually the doorway to liberation. In a letter to an initiate, he wrote, "The chief difficulty of the spiritual life is to maintain a simple, qualitative, heavenly position in a complex, quantitative, earthly setting." Only in so doing will we have the musical uppertuneity to hear the song celestial and disriminate between the Real and the illusory, which is the whole point of the spiritual life. It is quite difficult to remember the Real when one's very life is plunged into the unreal, with no space to breath in the ambiance of the Absolute and the Eternal.
This distinction between the Real and the illusory will determine how we use the only certainty given to humans aside from death, judgment, and eternity, which is the present moment, which ultimately determines the others. For the one moment given to us is the "liberating center" of the cosmos, into which eternity flows and death is therefore transcended.
Alternatively, if we are tied with all our being to the relentless machine of time, it simply drags us along in its wake until we are ground down or torn apart. Lucky ones will simply smash into the wall of death without ever knowing what hit them -- which is to say, their life.
Schuon sets out some simple godlines for avoiding frittering away the moment, and therefore, your sorry life.
"One must not waste one's time with worldly, unnecessary and often trivial distractions."
"One must not regularly read a newspaper from one end to the other, above all in the morning."
"One must not habitually watch television."
"One must not read novels, profane, unhealthy, trivial literature (although it is obviously permissible to inform oneself, to read books worthy of interest in historical, cultural, aesthetic, etc., subjects, but with measure and without losing oneself therein; and to enjoy art or music that is noble and which elevates)."
"One must control one's curiosity."
"In short, one must live 'in a little garden of the Holy Virgin,' without unhealthy curiosity and without ever losing sight of the essential content and goal of life. That is 'holy poverty' or 'holy childlikeness'; it is also, so to speak, 'holy monotony'.... dominated by the proximity of the sacred, and on the margin from the uproar of this lower world.... This seems obvious, but most believers take no account of it."
Such a life is hardly monotonous in the way that word is typically understood -- much less boring -- but it is disciplined. I especially like the advice about "controlling curiosity," which is surely a vital component, for either you will control it or it will control you and drag you around by the eyes and ears.
There are so many psychic avenues and nul-de-slacks that one should not even take the first step down, but as soon as you say that, people think you're trying to diminish their freedom.
Plus, the last thing people want is to have their conscience awakened, which is why Job One of the left is the annihilation of the personal conscience and its replacement with a collective one. This allows, for example, Hollywoodenheads to lead such depraved lives while feeling morally superior to the rest of us because they believe in manmade global warming or want their taxes raised. This dynamic is the entire secret of leftist moral preening, and answers the perennial question, "how can such perverse people be so fascannoyingly sanctimonious?"