Thursday, June 30, 2011

I AM, therefore WE ARE

Before being ordained as a priest, the future John Paul toyed with the idea of entering a monastery and taking up the contemplative life, in part because of his interest in the great mystic, St. John of the Cross.

Given my druthers, I'd certainly prefer the life of interiority and slack... spending the evenings in the silence of my room, in an atmosphere as restful as an undiscovered tomb. But then, I am an ordinary man... Yes, a pensive man am I -- of philosophical joys -- who likes to meditate, contemplate, far from humanity's mad inhuman noise... You know, a quiet living man...

But his Archbishop wisely turned our fair laddie away from that path, and toward the priesthood. Yesterday we spoke of "thinking in God," but to become a priest is more like "living in God," especially as it pertains to human relationships. (Cue trolls obsessed with homoeroticism.)

Indeed, Weigel says that Wojtyla's ideal was the alter christus -- "another Christ" -- and all this implies and entails. Taken seriously, it entails about as challenging an endeavor as one can undertake in this world, for it requires a "complete self-emptying in service to [one's] people," a "dying to self," or "self-gift" via "self-immolation." The word "radical" is casually tossed around -- as if it is radical, say, to prefer limited government -- but this is radical.

But then, whatever one's vocation, so long as it is "seriously lived," there will be this element of kenosis, of ego death in service to a higher ideal. This "human sacrifice" is a kind of seal of authenticity, for truly, there is no such thing as a free launch.

In his first doctoral thesis, Wojtyla expounded on the idea that ultimate reality is relationship, which, when you think about it, is an astonishing and revolutionary hypothesis. Even if one is not prepared to follow it all the way up, back, and down, it is nevertheless the ultimate basis of our humanness, which is irreducibly intersubjective through and through. On the human level, there is clearly no I without a We.

In other words, even if one holds a different metaphysic, one must acknowledge a relational metapsychology. However, it will be impossible for such a person to unify those two meta-s without eliminating the human being, who is only the most unexpected and important "fact" in all of the cosmos.

To turn it around, if one's metaphysic cannot fully account for the existence of metaphysicians, then it is a rather paltry thing, unfit for human consummation.

Nor will it touch on man's experiential and phenomenological encounter with the divine reality -- of O:

"In his dissertation, Wojtyla emphasized the personal nature of the human encounter with God, in which believers transcend the boundaries of their creaturely existence in such a way that they become more truly and completely themselves." Although this is confirmed by any number of saints and mystics, it is important to recognize that -- as was said above about the Christian vocation -- this reality "is not for mystics only."

Rather, it is analogous to the way technology evolves in a free market economy. At first it is only available at the "top," to the wealthy people who can afford it (I believe cell phones in the 1980s were a few thousand dollars). But eventually the technology trickles down to everyone.

Just so, the mystics do not just make their own "breakthrough" (which is simultaneously God's break-in). Rather, -- at least in Christianity -- such a person is always a living bridge between God and world, or person and community. Love cannot be love if it isn't in relationship.

There are, of course, non-dual mystics, but in our opinion, this impersonal ball of con-fusion is either a wrong turn on the last offramp or a lower stage of ascent, for love and truth are higher than any radical monad. Like Otis Williams, this turning away from relationship is the last Temptation, meaning that I can't get next to You.

Rather, "the highest wisdom we can achieve is to know that we cannot 'objectivize' our knowledge of God, for we do not come to know God as we know an object." Alert readers will recoil that I discussed this in section 4.1 of the bOOk -- which my publisher informs me is now available in kindle -- Unknowing and How to Communicate It.

In short, a certain finesse is involved in talking pure nonsense, for the simple reason that, in the end, it is impossible to disclose the subject through any other medium than personal experience. Language can only go so far, like trying to describe red to a blind man, or economics to a liberal.

Unless one has endured some kind of childhood trauma, identity is not lost in relationship, but discovered. This is a kind of paradox, because it means that, in a very real sense, our "self" is partly located in the other, who holds it in escrow until we receive it.

It reminds me of the rabbinical adage that we are all walking around with the missing parts of others. To us the part may be trivial, but there is someone else out there for whom it is a vital piece of their self. That is the "clicking" sound you just heard.

This applies quintessentially to the male-female complementarity, in that the two "complete" one another in a way that could never occur between members of the same sex, since the differences between the latter two are not essential but merely accidental.

The only way out of this cosmic fact is to insist that there is no essential difference between men and women, which is precisely what the left does, but only when it is absolutely convenient. In other arenas they will hold fast to female privilege.

Continuing with Weigel's account of Wojtyla's dissertation, "We come to know God as we come to know another person, through mutual self-giving. As two persons in love come to live 'within' each other without losing their own identities, God comes to live within us, and we come to dwell, in a sense, 'within God.'"

In my case, I can say that I had never really met anyone who truly understood me until being introduced to God. Now, the more deeply GodWord I plunge, the more things I find out about myself, but also about the world and all its unhappitants. This is obviously a real experience, or an experience of the Real, since I can see the results with my own third eye -- as can the people closest to me.

Obviously, since ultimate reality is not an "it," there exist intrinsic "limits to rationality as an approach to the mystery of God." It is not difficult to prove through reason that God exists, but unaided reason cannot reveal much about the nature of God, or of specific attributes.

If one could "grasp" God intellectually, it would mean that the personal I "contains" him, thus making one superior to God. Again, experiences of mystical communion reveal that God is not just being, but "being-with."

From this, Wojtyla argues for the centrality of freedom, for, just like any other relationship, one cannot be "forced" to be friends or fall in love with someone.

Rather, "an authentic relationship of mutual self-giving can only be entered freely." (Which, by the way, is a big reason why there is no love lost between me and my greedy state government. Thanks Democrats! As of today, One Cosmos is a completely charitable innerprize instead of only 99% charitable. Oh, and thanks to all the readers who clicked through here and purchased things on amazon. It was a nice thing while it lasted.)

Now, this intersubjective "tension" between man and God is "the key to the drama of human life." Thus, whosoever "takes away God from human beings is taking away what is deepest and most truly human in us." Can I get an amen? Certainly from the eastern Europeans who celebrate Ronald Reagan's birthday.

Please, my dear leftist, do not puzzle over why we dread your philosophy -- not you, mind you, except in certain cases -- because it is a frontal assault on both reality and man, and renders knowledge of the former via the latter an impossibility.

In any event, you have just been tagged, and you are it. But don't worry. There's still time to find Mr. Light.

10 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

This applies quintessentially to the male-female complementarity, in that the two "complete" one another in a way that could never occur between members of the same sex, since the differences between the latter two are not essential but merely accidental.

And there it is. So obvious that I don't know that I've ever yet seen anyone else make that point when talking about same-sex relationships. It truly is more than just a matter of physical plumbing, there is a completeness of mind, body and soul between male and female that can only come about because of their essential differences. In fact, the outward form may be the least important of those elements.

6/30/2011 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

As to the rest of the post, it's full of Yes.

6/30/2011 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Well, except for that California tax bit. Does that mean you can't get a percentage anymore if we click through to Amazon from here?

6/30/2011 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes. So I will take the opportunity thank all the readers who did click through and make purchases. But all good things must come to an end, so long as Democrats are in charge.

Oddly, California was a much nicer place to live before the government grew at a much greater pace than the population, to its present unsustainable size. Go figure.

6/30/2011 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

That really sucks. I notice they brought out the old "it's not fair" canard to justify putting the squeeze on people just that not-so-little bit more. Democrats - everything they touch turns to shit.

6/30/2011 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Yes, they have the Midass touch.

6/30/2011 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Nomo - thank you. I was trying to figure out how to reference Midas there. I should have thought of that :D

6/30/2011 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Apropos, Mr. Roger's and Presence

6/30/2011 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"In his first doctoral thesis, Wojtyla expounded on the idea that ultimate reality is relationship, which, when you think about it, is an astonishing and revolutionary hypothesis. "

At the very least, it can only be known through the relations of relationships... it is fascinating.

"To turn it around, if one's metaphysic cannot fully account for the existence of metaphysicians, then it is a rather paltry thing, unfit for human consummation. "

And likely to produce serious bouts of trollism, ever prone to sicking up leftist blather.

"Unless one has endured some kind of childhood trauma, identity is not lost in relationship, but discovered. This is a kind of paradox, because it means that, in a very real sense, our "self" is partly located in the other, who holds it in escrow until we receive it. "

To deny that would be akin to trying to see your face without a mirror... it doesn't work well and you look ridiculous trying.

7/01/2011 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Nomo said "Yes, they have the Midass touch."

LOL! Perfectly put.

7/01/2011 07:44:00 AM  

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