From History to Cosmos and From IT IS to I AM
Again, as mentioned in yesterday's post, there are two "presents," one animal and one human (and therefore divine; or, if one prefers, vertically higher). "In life" the neo-barbaric Epicurean limits himself to the former, "to the empirical [animal-sensory] present, the present simply 'as is'"; he is therefore "denied the Eternal Present" (ibid.). As a result, in being denied the present, he lives only in the past and future, which are not real.
Now, what are the past and future from the human perspective, as opposed to their mere quantitative meaning? One could say hope and regret, or worry and nostalgia, or contrition and resolve.
I suppose one could even sum up the future as "anxiety" and the past as "depression." For if we are not anxious about what the future might bring, we're not really alive. And if we don't feel the absolute unrecoverability of past -- and of how things might have been -- we didn't really live it.
However, there is a way out -- or up, or in -- and that is the present in its divine-human mode. Really, it is our only sanctuary from the anxieties of the future and the loss of the past. And it is precisely this that the hellbound Epicurean is denied.
Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
For the Epicurean, this is inverted: be extremely anxious, even panicky, about the future, in the hope of escaping the evils of the present.
Nor can these souls "let the dead bury the dead," or put their hands to the plough without looking back (Luke 9:62).
There is a reason why Only the unexpected fully satisfies (Don Colacho). The unexpected delights because it escapes our attempts at control, which only end up strangling the present.
There is actually an analogue of all this in psychoanalytic developmental theory, something we have discussed in the past. I can't get into all the details, but one of Melanie Klein's most important contributions was the distinction between what she called the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions. To achieve the depressive position is to have attained a degree of maturation, integration, and continuity of being that extends both spatially and temporally.
Another very bright fellow, Thomas Ogden, says that a better name for the depressive position would be the historical position, because of its profound effect on one's perception and appreciation of time.
First of all, note the similarity between the paranoid-schizoid position and the inability to transcend the empirical moment: in it, "sensory experience is unmediated by an interpreting subject," so that events simply "are what they are."
This state of being is analogous to a plane with "two faces and two faces only." The person is in one state or the other, with no higher vantage point "from which more than one emotional plane can be taken in."
For the person in this stage of development -- and this is critical -- their current state of being determines their "truth." "History is instantaneously rewritten" for the purpose of "maintaining discontinuities of loving and hating aspects of self and object." Here, truth is in the service of emotion.
If you have ever had a borderline person in your life -- and most of us have -- then you know how this works: "the present is projected backward and forward, thus creating a static, eternal, nonreflective present." You are drawn into the momentary primitive emotional storm of the borderline person, who dismantles time and history. It is simply impossible to argue with an un- or dis-integrated person, because they constantly throw out arguments from different planes, aggressively unaware of their contradictions.
If you're having difficulty picturing the process, then I suppose you didn't attend college, or else have a small family. Just imagine living with Keith Olbermann or Ed Schultz. In addition to the shear unpleasantness, one would be unable to escape from their psychotic attacks on time and history.
According to Ogden, the depressive position coincides with the true "birth of the historical subject." Note that the shift is not analogous to any linear process -- say, "piecing together a jigsaw puzzle" -- but is more like the sudden emergence of the three-dimensional image in those Magic Eye pictures.
Or, in the words of Don Colacho, Doubts do not fade one by one: they disappear in a flash of light.
Recall the image of a plane with two sides only; there is no "space" for the sense of I-ness to emerge, a stable mediator between experience and thought. Nor is this person aware of the other planes, for if he were, this would imply the third dimension from which they are declensions.
Thus, "in the depressive position," the person "no longer has access to the kind of Orwellian rewriting of history that is possible in the paranoid-schizoid position."
This is why progressive beliefs that absolutely shock our conscience don't do the same for them. Since the progressive has already preemptively rewritten history with himself as hero, he is able to slip through the nets of logic and evidence. He has a kind of freedom the mature person lacks, but this is a meaningless freedom; really, it is the illusion thereof, just as burying one's head in one's ass provides the illusion of tenure.
Now, back to Canto X. Note that the Epicureans are "ruled by Proserpine, Goddess of the Moon, queen of the underworld," which is another name for the nightworld of the unconscious.
In contrast to her is Beatrice, who symbolizes -- now, wait for it -- a "wisdom" and "wholeness of perception" that is specifically opposed to the "partial perception" symbolized by the loony moonbat goddess.
Another point: the depressive position is not only the historical position, but the threshold of the "transcendent position," which might be thought of as the "space of wisdom" (Bob) which "reveals the whole form and meaning of one's life sub specie aeternitatis" (Upton).
Thus, one might also call it the "meta-historical" or Cosmic Position. It is where one transcends the deuce in order be-a-trice.