Thursday, November 17, 2011
Falling Up With the Speed of Light & the Unbearable Heaviness of Non-Being
Letter XII, The Hanged Man, is another key archetype for us, as it speaks to the nonlocal happitat in which the Raccoon prefers to dwell -- or ne'er d'well, anyway -- which is suspended roughly halfway between -- how to put it without being immediately understood? -- between 〇 and ( ), or between the celestial and terrestrial planes.
[Recall from the book that ( ) stands for the world, which, in the absence of 〇, is broken, incomplete, empty, discontinuous and finally absurd; one might say that it is the exteriorization of Ø.]
unKnown Friend says that this card "plunges us into the heart of the problem of the relationship between man and gravitation, and the conflicts that this relationship entails."
Something analogous to gravity operates at all levels of the cosmos, all degrees of being, both interior and exterior, from the solar system, to culture, to politics, to personal relationships, to the self, and even to mind parasites. In each case there is an attractive force that simultaneously draws subjects and objects toward other subjects or objects and toward their own "center of gravity"; we might say that one is an exteriorizing force, the other interiorizing.
We are not so much interested in the attraction of objects -- which is in the realm of physics -- as of subjects, for this is where the real mystery lies.
For example, once one becomes aware of the true self, it will begin to attract the kinds of relationships and experiences it requires to grow. If one fails to live out of this interior center, then no matter what happens in life, it will be an incoherent stream of experiences with no possibility of synthesis into a higher unity. One can always paper over discontinuities, inconsistencies, holes, psychic envelopes, dead spots, unborns, etc., but there is a technical term for this: papering over.
Here again, this is why liberty is so critical to the articulation and development of the self. The self is something that pre-exists in the form of potential, but can only develop and be known through experience.
You might say that this implicate self must be exteriorized in order to be interiorized. It must be free to choose the objects, relationships, and experiences it requires in order to "be." This is why one man's paradise is another man's exile or prison -- even a living death. This is also why there can be no real spirituality in the absence of freedom, and in turn why leftism is intrinsically retrograde.
And when I say "real," I mean imbued with the fulness of being; in the spiritual realm it is not a matter of "to be or not to be." Rather, there is a continuum between 〇 and Ø. Vertically speaking, one might say that we live in the phase space between these two great attractors, which I symbolize in the book as 〇 and Ø. As such, there are two final causes that operate in us; you could even call them eros and thanatos, or love and death.
(A point of order: the 〇 <---> ( ) dialectic has to do with God and world, the latter of which is still "real," whereas the 〇 <---> Ø has slightly different implications, since the latter is "nothing," or absence of being; ( ) is concrete, Ø vacuous, like the difference between, say, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, respectively.)
One way to look at it is to consider the fact that man only discovers himself -- i.e., acquires self-consciousness -- as a consequence of his alienation from Being, his separateness from the rest of creation (see Genesis for details). Being is divided between self and world.
Vaclav Havel writes that Man is "a being that has fallen out of Being and therefore continually reaches toward it, as the only entity by which and to which Being has revealed itself as a question [?!], as a secret and as meaning."
Again, we are suspended between the terms of Being, and can seek to heal this separation in two different (vertical) directions. Havel: Man's "drama unfolds in the rupture between his orientation 'upward' and 'backward' and a constant falling 'downward' into now.'"
Either way, the human subject "is continually stepping outside itself in order to return to itself once more and, through this 'circulation,' it inevitably matures -- becomes itself." It is a "permanent balancing act" between the recovery of Being vs. being dragged "down into the world of things, surfaces, frantic consumption and self-absorption" (ibid.).
On a more subtle level, man becomes a prisoner of his own mental productions instead of a gentleman slacker in the realm of Being.
As the death-stream draws us down to the terminal moraine of our lower nature, the life-stream pulls us in, up, and out, toward our nonlocal source above. Even the most cynical atheist cannot live -- not for a moment -- without this life-stream, for it is what pulls him toward truth, or love, or meaning -- even toward his hatred of God (since this hatred is usually rooted in a misgoaded attraction to truth instead of from it).
UF agrees that "the domain of our freedom... shows the real and active presence of gravitation of a spiritual order." This is why people are attracted to God and religion to begin with, "for what is the phenomenon of religion if not the manifestation of spiritual gravitation towards God -- i.e., towards the centre of spiritual gravitation of the world?"
We cannot see gravity, any more than we can observe the wind. However, we can obviously feel the effects of gravity and wind. On the interior plane, these effects are subtle but nevertheless clear, especially as one learns to amplify them and to live within this attractor space. It's as clear as falling in love. No one teaches us how to do that, for it's not something we could ever learn.
Speaking of falling, UF situates mankind's fall within this space: "there is nothing against the conception of the Fall of Adam as the passage from a spiritual gravitation system, whose centre is God, to a terrestrial gravitational system, whose centre is the serpent."
That's certainly how it feels to me. Don't you feel those twin pulls? And don't you remember as a child, the first awareness of the pull into darkness? I remember it distinctly. I think it repeats itself in different forms at different stages of life -- assuming one actually grows through different developmental stages beyond the culturally conditioned ego. Each stage has a central "temptation" that is a fractal image of the first. In each case, we must choose the Light.
The Gospel designates the two attractors as "heaven" and "this world," or "the kingdom of God" and "the kingdom of the prince of this world." Or again, we could just call them O and Ø; or "slack" and "the conspiracy."
Likewise, this can be thought of as a sword that cuts mankind right down the middle, between the "children of this world" and "the children (or the sons) of light." Here again, standard issue cʘʘnvision -- so long as we haven't voided the warranty -- allows us to know in an instant when we are in the presence of the One or the Øther. It couldn't be more obvious now, could it? It is why the trolls despise us why we chuckle at them.
UF notes that there are actually three main categories, and I see that these correspond to the three gunas of Vedanta, which we won't get into. But there is the "carnal" (or vital) man who "lives in the grip of gravitation of 'this world' at the expense of the gravitation of 'heaven'; there is the "psychic man" who "lives in equilibrium between the two fields"; and then there is the spiritual or pneumatic man "who lives under the sway of the gravitation of 'heaven.'"
Frankly, I wouldn't really know where to begin in attempting to treat type #1. Nor do I have any interest in helping people better adapt to unreality -- which is what the great majority of people want, at least if you believe the OWSers.
Now, the Hanged Man "represents the condition of one in the life of whom gravitation from above has replaced that of below." In Raccoon terms, it is someone who has discovered his proper orientation, and sees the cosmos "inside out" and "upside down" relative to the normals. In reality, we have merely reverted things to their proper place. And we are irresistibly attracted by the top.
To be continued...