Friday, July 29, 2011

The Freest Things in Life are Best

Returning to our cosmic ascent, the trajectory of this evolution proceeds from exterior to interior, and therefore from necessity -- or determinacy -- to freedom. At the toppermost of the poppermost is the absolute freedom of the Creator, or "man on the flaming pie."

It is the work of a moment to prove the existence of this Creator, for, as Balthasar notes, "every entity in the cosmos necessarily reveals" him.

That's the good news. The bad news is that this recognition of necessary being simultaneously "reveals the nonnecessity of creaturely existence."

D'oh! It seems that our only real choice is to be a meaningless fish in a meaningful pond (non-dual mysticism) or a meaningful fish in a meaningless pond (existentialism).

Again, as Balthasar explains, our own contingency "is a reliable trace by which created reason can see with necessity that the Creator exists." Nevertheless, one is generally blowing smoke if one speculates beyond this point about the specific nature of the Creator, in the absence of his own self-disclosure, i.e., revelation:

"The natural knowledge of God from creation inexorably comes to a halt before the intimacy of God's personal life." In order to proceed beyond this boundary, it will require "a new revelation of grace in order to open man in faith and to communicate to him -- in abiding mystery -- what God is in his inner being."

This follows a more general cosmic principle, that what is best, or highest, or most noble -- what is "worthier or weightier" -- is "surrounded by a protective veil that withdraws them, like something sacred, from the grasping hands of the profane."

You know, the Secret Protects Itself. One must prove oneself worthy of it, in the same way intimacy between two people is founded upon trust (which is another word for faith). Those who are faith-ful are trust-worthy, and vice versa.

Now, the cold and grasping hands of the tenured paw at existence like some kind of cheap whore, who will give up her secrets to any old lout. But the secret is not, and cannot be, revealed in this aggressive context.

For one thing, secrets are whispered, not announced to all and sundry, regardless of qualification. Thus, the ham-handed materialist "may confuse hiddenness with a deficient rationality or brand with irrationality all those objects that are not accessible to the anonymous, public knowledge of the man on the street."

Although we hold science itself in the highest regard, there is a certain scientistic mindset that is positively adolescent in its hubris.

I'm sure you know the type, for this is the person who not only fails to respect the mystery, but confidently speaks as if the mystery has been "solved." It is reminiscent of the insecure but obnoxious 18 year-old who boasts of his deep understanding of female nature. But enough about Bill Maher.

In the end, "All truth is rational, but not every intelligence is competent to know every truth." The corollary of this is that, the higher or deeper the world, the more qualifications are necessary. This is simply a truism. Someone even came up with a "10,000 hour rule," whereby it takes roughly this long -- equivalent to five years of full-time practice -- to master anything from golf to writing (and this assumes an underlying gift that can be cultivated; many people spend their lives cultivating the wrong gift).

I wonder how many hours, say, Richard Dawkins, has spent cultivating his interior understanding of the Creator? I don't mean to pull rank on anyone, for even -- or especially! -- so-called experts can be wrong (Bohr said that an expert is "A person that has made every possible mistake within his or her field"). But at least I've put in much more than the requisite 10,000 hours of spadework, so I've earned the right to be wrong.

For Balthasar, "mystery" and "interiority" are related terms. For what is a mystery but the palpable presence of an unKnown interior horizon? When we say "unKnown," we mean that it is not known rationally or externally, but instead, resonates in our being on a deeper level.

This too is surely a kind of knowledge, what Christopher Bollas calls the "unthought known." One reason (among many) that no artificial intelligence will ever be similar to our own being, is that humans are surrounded by the unthought known, without which we couldn't get through a single day. The world is not regarded as some sort of flat space, in which all facts are of equal significance and accessible in the same way.

Rather, the vast majority of our thinking takes place subconsciously, unconsciously, and supraconsciously. Think, for example, of what is going on when we view a film that moves us on some deeper level.

Again, a kind of re-cognition is taking place, regardless of whether we can explain it to ourselves. Even more mysteriously, what is really happening when we are moved by a piece of music? And would any merely rational explanation be worthy of, or replace, the experience? And do you really want this mystery to go away? Really?

More mysterious still is the phenomenon of "love at first sight." This is more or less how it was between me and Mrs. G.

To be perfectly accurate, it was "love at first date." Something simply clicked that night, and we ended up talking until the sun came up, with a kind of instantaneous intimacy I had never before experienced. What was that all about? Well, first of all, it's a mystery, moron! 27 years later, and this moron is no closer to explaining it, much less exhausting it. And suffice it to say, I do not want to ever "solve" this mystery.

The same is quintessentially true of religion, assuming that one has freely chosen it and not simply been compelled to follow it, as in the Islamic world. All those nerds of the radical Enlightenment assumed it would be just a matter of time before reason made it "unnecessary," but this failed to take into consideration the much deeper level of knowing that is being engaged in religious experience. Science, since it is always "public knowledge," simply cannot reach into these intimate spaces, any more than it can understand a relationship, or a poem, or a person.

Only a mind without feeling for nobility... will complain of this hiddenness of the best.

20 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

27 years later, and this moron is no closer to explaining it, much less exhausting it. And suffice it to say, I do not want to ever "solve" this mystery.

Awwww...

Seems like there isn't nearly enough of that going around these days. On the chance that you kids have an anniversary coming up, coongratulations, and may your mystery never be "solved."

7/29/2011 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

What Julie said.

And same hear -- love at first date. I have to say I was completely taken by surprise. I mean, her-eyes. I never recovered. It's a long story, thankfully.

7/29/2011 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Oh, and RE seeing, or rather, notevenlooking for the unknown known, it was a blind date.

7/29/2011 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Dougman said...

"Rather, the vast majority of our thinking takes place subconsciously, unconsciously, and supraconsciously."

My unconscious is what helped to save my marriage.
Upon awakening one day, it was on the fore of my mind that I was projecting alot of negative thoughts & actions on to my wife and then "attacking" those projections.

Thank G_D for sleep!

7/29/2011 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Dougman said...

Somebody knock me out.
I'd like some more revelations please.

7/29/2011 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

"Rather, the vast majority of our thinking takes place subconsciously, unconsciously, and supraconsciously."

I'll buy that. Then I search for facts to support my conclusion, especially if I'm trying to pursuade others.

I don't think you could get much done if all your decisions were the fact-based and rational. Too hard to collect all the facts.

7/29/2011 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The smartest person I have ever met had done research work on AI for several years but had found it more or less a dead-end. Obviously, you can do a lot with fuzzy logic and limited forms of AI. It's useful, not to mention cool. It's just not going to make machines that can fall in love with one another -- unless, to use Bob's example, we allow love to be defined by Bill Maher.

7/29/2011 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

"Even more mysteriously, what is really happening when we are moved by a piece of music? And would any merely rational explanation be worthy of, or replace, the experience? And do you really want this mystery to go away? Really?"

I'm beginning to see what you mean by keeping things mysterious. It seems when I try to learn a song I love, as soon as I can play it, I no longer love it. Something about knowing it thoroughly, kills it.

If you don't quit it, but rather put it down for awhile, then some of the mystery returns.

7/29/2011 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

By the way, I should have said "the smartest person I ever met face-to-face", and this was before I encountered the Raccoons.

7/29/2011 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Even more mysteriously, what is really happening when we are moved by a piece of music?

Resonates with something I've been wondering about lately, as a result of watching this the other day. What a delightful mystery it is that certain combinations of sound can be so beautiful, or so ominous. Why should a perfect 5th sound so fair, but an augmented 4th so vile, except in certain circumstances when it becomes sort of sublime? I don't want an answer, it's just delightful to ponder.

7/29/2011 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Speaking of music -- Definitely off-topic, but it's not about the debt limit, and I laughed.

7/29/2011 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

'It seems when I try to learn a song I love, as soon as I can play it, I no longer love it. Something about knowing it thoroughly, kills it.'
--i know that feeling also but came to chalk it up to a necessary sacrifice, like a dad'd make for his child

7/29/2011 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Hey, question for you Gagdad - is this post a repost? or a rehashing of parts of old posts? Or just so True that it brings what's old, new and not yet, into the moment so it can be re-membered again anew?

Just curious.

Whichever way this wind blew in from, it is Good.

7/29/2011 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Rather, the vast majority of our thinking takes place subconsciously, unconsciously, and supraconsciously."

Aye, that it does. I find it odd that so many folks attempt to think like a machine, or in a cold, "logical" way.

Not that there's anything wrong with logic, but it's not the end all be all. And it doesn't make man better in and of itself (in fact, by itself, logic would make man worse and subhuman).
Who needs a bunch of Skynet mini-me's runnin' around?

It's funny that lefties consider Obama logical (even funnier that they believe, with blind faith no less, that he's brilliant).

Then they compare Obamawon to Spock.
Anyone who has watched Star Trek knows that Spock was never consistently logical or "purely" logical, no matter how many times someone said it.

Regardless, if Obama was logical, even in a general sense, he would abandon his ideology since it's been tried, tested and proven to be not only false but a destructive failure.

And the belief of some that Obama keeps a cold, calculating cool attitude? Ha ha!

Well, it's obvious that their ideal of Obama and the actual Obama don't come anywhere close to matching up in that department.

Obama reacts poorly to pressure or stress and never in a timely manner.
He's simply has no leadership skills and he proves it every day.

But all this says more about his devoted acolytes than Obama, since we all knew this about Obama year before he was elected in the donkabonk primaries.

Obviously all their thinking is confined to a fantasy they have created and they ignore everything else, especially reality and truth.

Nice post, Bob!

7/30/2011 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Obama is proof that AI is a complete and udder failure.

Perfessor Skully, PHDLTDINC

Excuse me, it's time for my constitutional scoller. Ho!

7/30/2011 01:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Taranto:

"Come to think of it, there are major similarities between Obama and Spock. Both have oversize ears. Both were fathered by aliens, although Obama's parents hailed from the same planet. Both are ill suited for command, although Spock was not ambitious enough to seek it.

"And of course everyone remembers the episode in which Spock said: "Imagine Captain Kirk drivin' the Enterprise into a wormhole" -- Vulcans always drop their g's when they're trying to sound folksy -- "and it's a deep wormhole. It's a big wormhole. And somehow he walked away from the accident, and we put on our boots and we transported down into the wormhole - -me and Bones and Scotty and Hikaru and Nyota. We've been pushin', pushin', tryin' to get that starship out of the wormhole. And meanwhile, Kirk is standin' there, sippin' on a Slurpee."

7/30/2011 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

(link)

7/30/2011 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

LOL! Taranto is hilarious!

7/30/2011 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Van:

No, it's all new.

7/30/2011 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Huh.
Musta had a case of vu jeDe.
Swear I was remembering every other line.

Oh well. It re membered well all the same.

7/30/2011 09:47:00 PM  

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