Monday, February 28, 2011

The Beginner's Guide to the Beginning

It's hard not to post. Feels like I forgot to do something. Therefore, I wondered to myself, "self, I wonder what I posted exactly five years ago today?" Turns out it roused only four commenters at the time, so it was little noted and long since forgotten. I've decided to resurrect it with some editing Light.

Let's begin with two stipulations, one very old, the other of more recent vintage, treating them not as religious statements per se but metaphysical ones:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,

and

In the beginning was the the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

And in the spirit of multiculturalism -- and in the effort to increase our depth of vision with an additional I -- let's toss another bon mot into the mix, this from the opening of the Isha Upanishad: In the heart of all things, of whatever there is in the universe, dwells the Lord.

What does it mean, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth"? As I have mentioned before, I believe it has to do with the creation of the most fundamental complementarity (not duality) of the cosmos.

This complementarity can be viewed from many angles, but can be summarized by saying that "in the beginning God created the vertical and the horizontal," for this complementarity subsumes the irreducible (irreducible in terms that can be thought about) categories of quality and quantity, interior and exterior, eternity and time, whole and part, implicate and explicate, subject and object, Absolute and Infinite.

In each instance we are dealing with a limit case, beyond which thought cannot traverse. In fact, the one side of the complementarity necessarily evokes the other, and provides the conditions of thought. Nothing "mental" can be made without the vertical/horizontal duality as a precondition (and nothing can be made that isn't completely mental, I must say).

With the second statement we introduce an unexpected twist and shout: In the beginning was the WORD, or LOGOS! Moreover, this Word was with God, implying that it was there "before the beginning," before the great creative activity of the first album. Indeed, if John is correct that the Word is God, this can be the only logical conclusion.

This then apparently raises language to a most exalted status. But clearly not if we merely look at it in the usual way. It's so easy to take language for grunting, when in reality we are dealing with something that is frankly magic.

In fact, the very same Biblical passage cautions us about this, pointing out that the Light of the Word "shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it." Or, to put it in the slightly more orthoparadoxical terms expressed in the Cosmogenesis section of the Raccoon Kookbook, "the weird light shines in the dark, but the dorks don't get it. For truly, the weirdness was spread all through the world, and yet, the world basically kept behaving as if this were just your ordinary, standard-issue cosmos."

One additional point would appear relevant. From Genesis 1:26 and 27 we read "Then God said 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness'.... So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them." We are particularly interested in how our capacity for creativity might mirror the primordial creative activity of the Divine Mind.

So, what is language, anyway? What is a word? As a matter of fact, a word is a very special thing, because only it has the capacity to bridge the complementary worlds introduced by primordial creation. Apparently words can do this because they are somehow prior to the great duality and therefore partake of both heaven and earth, above and below, vertical and horizontal.

The literal meaning of the word "symbol" is to "throw together" or across, as if words are exterior agents that join together two disparate things.

But the Biblical view would suggest that langauge actually has this "throwing together" capacity because it somehow subtends the world on an interior level: language is what the world is made of, so it shouldn't surprise us that with it we are able to apprehend all kinds of deep unities in the cosmos. The unities are there just waiting to be discovered, and language is our tool for doing that.

"In the beginning" of human consciousness there is also a fundamental complementarity or dialectic between the conscious (horizontal) and unconscious (vertical) minds. It is incorrect to visualize the mind in spatial terms as a sort of unconscious space below, with a line separating it from the conscious mind above.

In reality, each moment of consciousness involves a generative, ceaselessly flowing "translation," or unfolding, of multi-dimensional, nonlocal mental space that cannot be thought about into a local, linear, and particularized expression that can be thought about.

Again, in a healthy person there is a fluid and generative dialectic between these two realms. But many things can go wrong with that process -- in fact, most forms of psychopathology have to do with the person being caught up and entangled in one end or the other.

I don't have time to get into that now, but suffice it to say that there are some people -- let's call them the obsessive-compulsives -- who live their lives wading in the shallow and rocky shoreline of the conscious side, while others -- let's call them hysterics and borderlines -- are inundated by the storm-tossed sea of the unconscious side.

Again, the key is a dialectical rapport between the two dimensions. That's where one is truly "alive." And much of that aliveness has to do with language, that secret key to the universe.

Again, a word serves as the I-AMissary between the two worlds. On the one hand, a word refers to something particular in space and time -- a cup, a tree, a dog. On the other hand, a word is by definition an abstraction with no localized or localizable being: we only recognize the cup or tree or dog because they are a function of cupness, treeness or doginess.

Therefore, words are the local tools of the translating function of vertical into horizontal being, of infinite into finite, of eternity into time -- if we know how to use them. If we do not live in the uncomprehending dark.

Speaking of which, I've been typing this post -- like all my recent posts -- in the darkness of the dawn. They say that dawn is the friend of the muses. I suppose this is because at dawn we still have one foot in the mouth of the waters of our night-sea journey into the multidmensional dream world. Perhaps my posts only make sense at dawn and cannot withstand the brightly intense beam of darkness of trolltime logic.

In any event, that blanding light is now shining through my window, signalling to me that I am once again late for my daily horizontal exhale. But I'll be back. Back before the beginning tomorrow morning, where we will plot another raid on the formless infinite, and attempt to translate it into terms we can think about.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Bob. The heading on this post would make a great title for your next book.

2/28/2011 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I remember this post, or at least the words and meaning within. I'm surprised it only got four comments way back then.

It is incorrect to visualize the mind in spatial terms as a sort of unconscious space below, with a line separating it from the conscious mind above.

I'm reminded of the existence of dark matter. Until just a minute ago, when I thought of it the mental construct I had was that it existed "out there" in space, someplace where nothing else is, but of course that's completely wrong. Matter is to dark matter as consciousness is to the unconscious; the two are neither separate nor distinct, but intimately entwined and inseparable.

Re. language, Vanderleun's sidebar yesterday linked to an interesting Dyson article by Dyson, "How We Know"

2/28/2011 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous dloye said...

Still reading. "...and the darkness comprehendeth it not" is translated in NIV as "overcome." Darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 I love the melding of the two senses of the word(s) translated, it's not understood, and it's not defeated.

Onward in the reading

2/28/2011 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Seems to me I remember this one as well, particularly the complementarity and the dorkness before the dawn.

I wonder what I thought back then?

If I go back to see, and see I had nothing to say, it'll be as annoying as thumbing through a diary and finding no entries on what you would have expected to be an day of particular note. Also interesting, that these posts, and the comments they spur, are like diaries, way more interesting than recapping the days events (ooh... some fertile punsterlizer there, but I've no time).

One last note before trying to figure out the first line, noting a happenstantial resemblance on a purely lower dimensional sketch of the upper dimensions,

"Nothing "mental" can be made without the vertical/horizontal duality as a precondition (and nothing can be made that isn't completely mental, I must say)."

In c++, everything is 'broken' up into Header files, and the 'actual' code file, the header contains the Naming and definition of a procedure only, but no code to make it go, and the actual code page has the actual code for that definition, but the actual runtime application, the 'coolGizmo.exe' has them as one whole when run... maybe sort of like an address book lists an address, a blueprint describes every facet of the house... but still isn't it... and then at the actual location, you've got the address and the house inseparable in actuality, defined by the two, but in no way the same and far more than the sum of the parts.

Probably meaningless to the non-geek, but interesting all the same... to this one.

2/28/2011 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

Again, the key is a dialectical rapport between the two dimensions. That's where one is truly "alive." And much of that aliveness has to do with language, that secret key to the universe.

Heh. Big key, little key.

2/28/2011 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Early Morning Troll Attack said...

I remember this post as having no entry for a rebuttal.

It still doesn't.

So, we must wait until tommorrow.

If its comments you want, then be sure to write controvertible statements.

Thank You,

Early Morning Troll Attack

2/28/2011 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Indeed, if John is correct that the Word is God, this can be the only logical conclusion.

This then apparently raises language to a most exalted status. But clearly not if we merely look at it in the usual way. It's so easy to take language for grunting, when in reality we are dealing with something that is frankly magic."

Language is like a built in special decoder ring.
Well, english anyway.

3/01/2011 12:57:00 AM  

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