Monday, February 21, 2011

Bullheads and Horse's Asses

Speaking of which, just a short post for Presidents' Day, the stupidest holiday of them all, on which we pretend that Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama share something in common with George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan. In short, it is a day of historical leveling, of belittling greatness and celebrating mediocrity.

Within the seventh circle -- which houses the violent -- there are different levels, or "rings," corresponding to the degree of seriousness. You might say there is first, second, and third degree violence, against man, self, and God.

All of the violent "have fallen under the power of gravity" (Upton). As we have discussed in the past, man lives between two vertical attractors, one above and one below. The Law of Gravity is complemented by the Law of Levity, and our free will determines whether we float upstream or swim downstream with the terrestrial and eventually subterranean tide.

There is blood at both ends of this stream. If the redemptive blood of the Savior is at the top, then the immorally violent "are immersed in Phlegethon, the river of boiling blood." One might say they are perpetually burned in the blood they have shed -- the innocent blood which cries out from the earth.

To express violent anger is liberating, but in a false manner. It "may feel like a kind of expansion, but it ends by turning us to stone" (ibid.). Children raised by violent parents have a way of turning themselves to stone. They literally shut down sympathetic responses and brain reactions, and "play possum," so to speak, on an interior level. They are able to pre-emptively endeaden themselves in the face of stress or danger.

I see this all the time in adults raised by violent and uncaring parents. Ask them about it and they either "zone out" or confabulate a stream of disjointed gibberish.

Of note, this can even occur in children who are brutally shamed, for dysregulated shame is a kind of internalized attack on the self. Experience of the wider reality grinds to a halt amidst a cascade of neurobiological processes and even postural changes, e.g., slumping, as if one could hide one's head in one's shoulders.

And blushing -- one of the biological markers of shame -- may be thought of as a kind of blood that boils to the surface.

At the deeper levels of the unconscious mind, the separation between psyche and soma become blurred.

Note that for Dante, the violent are ruled and guarded by the Minotaur and centaurs, respectively, who are half animal and half-human, i.e., part psyche and part soma. Both are sub-human, but in differing ways. Furthermore, as Upton notes, each is a kind of mockery or "demonic parody of the Incarnation."

Recall that the centaur has a horse's body with a human head, whereas the Minotaur is a human body with the head of a bull:


For the Minotaur, anger completely dominates the pneumacognitive faculties, whereas the centaurs at least have some degree of human control. But the centaur's faculties are ultimately enslaved "from below, from the unconscious" (Upton). While they may "have good native intelligence," they "are in bondage to their passions" (ibid.), which drag down and limit the intelligence.

The distinction between centaur and Minotaur marks the transition from the merely luciferic -- in which darkness constantly interferes with the Light -- to the truly demonic, in which Darkness rules.

The latter types are truly frightening, since they are literally mammalian or even reptilian. The Minotaur is "the evil genius within the soul whose conscious thoughts are demonic." These are the the souls who conceive "of evil systems, both philosophical and social" (Upton), not to mention political and economic.

One of the central goals of psychoanalytic therapy is to "make the unconscious conscious," so that one may gain insight into the infra-human centaur, so to speak. The Minotaur also makes the unconscious conscious, but in a perverse way.

Actually, the Minotaur renders the conscious unconscious, by legitimizing our most barbaric tendencies, often by calling them "natural" -- as if savage nature is anything for humans to emulate!

For It is above all against what the mob proclaims to be “natural” that the noble soul rebels. And When a revolution breaks out, the appetites are placed at the service of ideals [the centaur]; when the revolution triumphs, ideals are placed at the service of the appetites [the Minotaur] (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

Note that the denizens of Hell "are there for 'pleasure' in the sense that in life they were attracted to the evils that now torment them" (Upton).

Here we are reminded of another A. by D.C, Hell is the place where man finds all his plans realized. For the Minotaur, the "head" is no longer an image of God, but an image of animality triumphant.

And to live as an animal is to abrogate one's freedom and submit to bondage, whether to impulses, genes, instincts, natural selection, dialectical materialism, "corporations," it matters not.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Minotaur said...

Alrighty then, who made me this way?

I want to change back.

2/21/2011 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. The last A by D.C., Hell is the place where man finds all his plans realized I was thinking along those lines yesterday in re. the suicide discussion. There is another key that I think people may be missing, in that hell is, if nothing else, an intensely personal experience. In a sense, we get what we worked for in life, good and hard, without any pesky interpersonal relationships to get in the way.

What I mean is, O knows us, each and every human being, far more intimately than we can know ourselves, more than we can ever begin to imagine. And we know that O is also love as such, and truth as such. It is a love that would give us whatever it is we most desire; even separation, and even hell. And so wherever one finds oneself in the afterlife, it's not because one engaged in behavior x which has corresponding penalty y, and everyone who did the same thing gets the same punishment. One is given his heart's desire. It's just that the hellbound desired not God.

I know that sounds harsh when applied to suicide, especially in some really tragic cases. Take comfort; Dante knew whereof he spake, but still it's an allegory. Trust that O knows each individual situation. Nobody is forgotten, and nobody is unloved.

2/21/2011 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger philmon said...

Speaking of which, just a short post for President's Day, the stupidest holiday of them all, on which we pretend that Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama

[tongue-in-cheek]We? Who is this "we"? Why do you use that word? I do not think it means what you think it means. ;-) [/tongue-in-cheek]

I'm with you, Bob.

2/21/2011 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

see if this has not some relevance?

The Minotaur's song
By Robin Williamson

Straight from the shoulder
I think like a soldier
I know what's right and what's wrong
He knows what's right and what's wrong.
I'm the original discriminating buffalo man
And I'll do what's wrong as long as I can
He'll do what's wrong as long as he can
I live in a labyrinth under the sea
Down in the dark as dark as can be
I like the dark as dark as can be
He likes the dark as dark as can be
I'll even attack you or eat you whole
Down in the dark my bone mills roll
Porridge for my porridge bowl
Porridge for his porridge bowl
I'm strong as the earth from which I'm born He's strong as the earth from which he's born
I can't dream well because of my horns
He can't dream well because of his horns
Moo
I'm strong as the earth from which I'm born
He's strong as the earth from which he's born
I can't dream well because of my horns
He can't dream well because of his horns
A minotaur gets very sore
His features they are such a bore
His habits are predicta-bull
Aggressively re – li - a-bull, bull, bull

I'm strong as the earth from which I'm born
He's strong as the earth from which he's born
I can't dream well because of my horns
He can't dream well because of his horns
I'm the original discriminating buffalo man
And I'll do what's wrong as long as I can
He'll do what's wrong as long as he can
As long as he can as long as he can,
He can he can as long as he can,
as long as he can as long as he can

2/21/2011 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Hell may be the place where plans are realized, but so is heaven, in a sense. "Many mansions," etc.

You ask me, hell is restlessness. That's why, I suspect, demons seek embodiment in one way or the other - embodiment stills the restlessness to a degree. Demons will even possess swine if that's what handy. (see bible for details)

In any event, restlessness is obviously the polar opposite of the peace and quietude to be found in the Light of the divine. From my armchair psychological perspective, the people I have known with fairly pronounced mental and emotional probs are perennially restless, always moving about, always seeking repose of some sort, and never finding it. Well, the material appetites, if allowed to dominate, are never, can never be satisfied. Imagine an incorporeal state in which the material senses still dominate and yet cannot be satisfied in any measure. That's restlessness, that's hell.

2/21/2011 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

+ video
to above lyrics

2/21/2011 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

Julie said... "...we get what we worked for in life, good and hard, without any pesky interpersonal relationships to get in the way."

For those who deposit into the Kingdom of Heaven Bank, this is good news! :) Hallelujah!


And for that which is only a parasite of the good, very bad news. There won't be anything on which to be parasitical. Not sure how that works out, but on the simple level, sorry can't resist -- that probably *sucks*. Very bad pun. The following says it better.

Ahh... I was going to add Matthew 6:23 and I see the preamble goes well too.

"20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"

2/21/2011 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Julie - Very nice, interesting post. Well said. Very true. Concur.

2/21/2011 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Anna - thanks. I wasn't at all sure what I was saying actually made any sense :)

2/21/2011 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Julie...beautifully said.

2/21/2011 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie said...

"Anna - thanks. I wasn't at all sure what I was saying actually made any sense :)"

Welcome to my world. :^)
I concur with Anna. Your comment makes sense to me.

Great post Bob!

2/22/2011 03:48:00 AM  
Anonymous sehoy said...

"play possum"

Direct hit. Ouch.

"I didn't see it until you said it," said this possum.

2/23/2011 06:38:00 AM  

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