Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Satanic Resurrection and Death Everlasting

In Canto IX, our friends make it through security to a rarely visited corner of hell, where they come face to face with the Dark Feminine. There they encounter three talon-nailed demons -- the shrieking furies who serve Medusa, the Queen of Never-Ending Lamentation who turns men to stone and men's stones to jello.

Yes my friends, you're watching The View!

Virgil has been on the program once before, and is not eager to repeat the experience. For if you should chance to behold the ghastly visage of that repulsive gorgon, Joy Behar, face-to-facelift, never again shall you return to your normal programming!

Life is a journey, a movement, an adventure. Where is the movement taking place? That depends upon the vertex. There is intellectual advance, moral progress, artistic development, spiritual attainment, etc. Ideally none should be separated from the others, but one of the baleful effects of postmodernity is to separate them, the result being that one ends up growing "nowhere."

It is analogous to, say, a man who is obsessed with building his biceps. Eventually his upper arms will balloon in size, until he resembles Popeye.

But this only results in an absence of harmony that renders the whole either monstrous or silly. I suppose when men do it it's just silly. But when women do it, it's monstrous -- you know, those female bodybuilders who have some kind of perverse, manmade aesthetic that is unrelated to the female archetype.

We should always feel as if our life is in movement. However, it is critical to bear in mind that the movement we are discussing is always supernatural; or, if you are one of those substitious types who denies the supernatural, just call it extra-natural.

It is extra-natural because it obviously exceeds nature. Even if you are a strict metaphysical Darwinist, you must concede that the genes only account for a ridiculously narrow range of behavior, i.e., physical survival and reproductive fitness. Everything outside this is extra-genetic: truth, beauty, virtue, music, literature, poetry, mystical experience, etc. Genes permit these things but in no way determine them. To pretend otherwise is to be a genuine imbecile.

Now, if one is not progressing, one is more than merely "stuck." Rather, one is in hell, precisely. If you have been there -- and we all have been -- then you know what it is like. Not only is there an absence of movement, but there is a loss of dimensionality. This is an important point, because a fully functioning human being possesses the capacity for integrated movement in hyperspace.

What I mean by this is that, just as length, width and depth combine to make three-dimensional space, intellect, aesthetics, and virtue -- the Good, True, and Beautiful -- combine to make the hyperdimensional space where human beings have their freedom of movement.

And just as we can abstract the concept of "width" from three-dimensional space, it is possible to, say, abstract mathematical quantity from hyperspace. But space is not the sum of three lower dimensions, any more than mind is a sum of physics and chemistry, for the whole is prior to the parts.

Danger only arises when we take the abstraction for reality -- which is precisely what the metaphysical Darwinian -- or any other scientistic believer -- does. Note that there is no way to logically reconcile the metaphysical Darwinian with the "metaphysical physicist," i.e., the physical reductionist.

This is because Life Itself is a higher dimensional reality from which any moron can abstract two seemingly irreconcilable principles, "biology" and "physics." We can never put these two back together from the bottom up, because they were never separate to begin with.

Again, it was just our abstraction that created the the duality. Add mind to the mix, and we're talking about a higher space that is far too rich to be modeled in any way analogous to physical space. But in the words of Don Colacho, The lower truths tend to eclipse the highest truths.

Now, just as being stuck is hell, Hell is being stuck, i.e., to "turn to stone." Upton writes that within these deeper circles of Hell "lies the center of despair, of the fear that no return [i.e., vertical movement] is possible."

One thing I always explain to depressed patients is that their depression has put them in a very different kind of space -- again, a space of fewer dimensions and of complete stasis.

Now, this stasis is also a kind of eternity, only the "bad eternity" of utter endlessness as opposed to timelessness. While movement is possible, all movement is arbitrary, since one has lost touch with the higher-dimensional archetypes and values that normally guide and attract us.

Sometimes it is difficult to appreciate the reality of these archetypes (and their graces) until one is depressed and no longer guided by them. Then one is like a ship at night on a flat and windless ocean.

Here our virtual adventurers encounter the heretics, those who have sinned against God and the Holy Spirit. Note that they are reunited with their bodies, in a perverse mockery of Resurrection. Rather than death and rebirth in a higher dimension, this is endless living on the lower dimension, which becomes a kind of endless death. They cannot die, death being the ultimate movement or transition. For all birth is a death, and vice versa. Life is a series of birthquakes and deathwakes.

Another important point is that love does not avail in a hell this deep. Rather, as Upton explains, one must again rely upon righteous anger as a kind of protection. One is reminded of the rabbinical axiom that those who are kind to the cruel will be cruel to the kind.

From a slightly different angle, Upton quotes Nietzsche, who wrote that If you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you. Indeed, "One of the greatest dangers of the lower psychic forces to a spiritual traveler is that under their influence he may become fascinated and transfixed by the Outer Darkness, the power that leads one always further into the externals of things, where the soul must die" (Upton).

The satanic resurrection, AKA tenure in the Monoversity of Hell:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Righteous and Self-Righteous Vomiting

The River Styx -- actually, it's more of a filthy marsh or pestilent swamp -- flows between the fifth and sixth circles of hell, where the more serious offenders are housed. Here our vertical adventurers come upon a huge tower with two flaming torches at the summit; off in the distance there is another faint light that somehow "answers back."

Upton calls this an "infernal watchtower" which represents "an inverted sense of spiritual guidance." This brings to mind the last thing Jesus says to the disciples before his betrayal: watch and pray.

In order to pray, we enter the "interior watchtower." In the words of Theophan the Recluse, "we must enter the inner room or 'closet.' Where is this room? It is our heart. How then can we learn to pray there? If we go there, as well as we are able, God will help us."

This interior watchtower is also the "magnetic center" of which we have posted in the past. It is the space which both "attracts God" and where God draws us toward him. Put simply, it is the space of (↓↑); (¶) is the "attractor" that grows as a result of this spiritual metabolism.

Now, in order to understand these deeper dimensions of hell, we need only invert the above description. I mean, if Dante and I are on the same page. Let's find out.

In the next scene in Canto VIII, an obnoxious boatman ferries Dante and Virgil across the Styx. He proceeds to engage in a little trash talk, mocking them for bringing such a weak game into his house. In this regard, Upton notes that "the very demons who draw souls into Hell scorn them for being there," just like Larry Bird in Boston Garden.

When Dante stays within his spiritual citidel (¶) and refuses to "take the bait," the boatman is enraged. He "feels a sense of personal insult when he discovers that Dante is not damned" like he is (ibid).

This, by the way, is why we do not respond to trolls except by way of targeted ridicure, piercing laphorisms, and jehovial witticisms. Please note that if you do choose to react, you will soon find yourself at their level. This is how it must be, for they are obviously not going to come up to yours.

Once again we are reminded of another excellent aphorism of uber-Raccoon Don Colacho: Whoever insists on refuting idiotic arguments ends up doing so with stupid reasons. Or, to paraphrase someone else, it is much more difficult to argue with a weak mind than a strong one. For remember, it is always Yahweh or the low way.

Indeed, Virgil turns the tables on the bitter and resentful demon and engages in a little trash talking of his own. He gives the boatman a shove and says, Away there, with the other dogs! For In life, this flaming ferryman was both arrogant and cruel; / No good repute adorns his memory; / Hence is his shade so furious here below. Many souls in the same boat "stalked the earth as kings," only to find themselves wallowing in the filth and mire.

Here I am reminded of the neo-Kleinian cartograpy of unconscious and perversely narcissistic hells (looks like an interesting article, BTW):

"The destructive narcissism of these patients appears often highly organized, as if one were dealing with a powerful gang [read: mind parasites] dominated by a leader, who controls all the members of the gang to see that they support one another in making the criminal destructive work more effective and powerful. However, the narcissistic organization not only increases the strength of the destructive narcissism, but it has a defensive purpose to keep itself in power and so maintain the status quo."

Upton raises a critical point: what is the difference between the boatman's mockery of Dante, and Dante's mockery of the boatman? "Dante's anger is not essentially demonic because it liberates his soul from the Hell he is passing through." It is the difference between righteous and self-righteous anger, the latter of which is motivated by pride. But some anger clearly praises God in its expression.

Schuon had many useful things to say about this distinction, which places you on the long or short end of the Styx. For example,

"Holy anger is a movement of concentration and not a going outside oneself; it is like an 'incarnation' of the divine Wrath in the human microcosm, which must at that moment be free from passionate anger. The inner criterion of holy anger is precisely calmness, whereas passionate anger carries away the entire being and brings forgetfulness of God; it has no centre, that is to say it is entirely peripheral and dissipated. Holy anger exists only by virtue of a motionless centre, an implacable truth which determines it; when driving the money-changers from the Temple, Christ was impassible."

Therefore, anger can be liberating, so long as one is angry at the right things and in the right measure. Note that liberals are generally angry at the wrong things, for the simple reason that they blame "society" or "corporations" or "people of colorlessness" for their loserhood. You might say that the left runs on sheer loser power, which is -- to say the least -- a farce to be reckoned with. To pretend it is not a real power in this world is to fail to understand the ubiquitous and perennial appeal of the seductive doctrine of the Adversary.

Another key point: righteous anger is objective, in that it is a completely appropriate and proportionate response (not reaction) to its occasion. It reminds us of something Don Colacho said about moral indignation -- that it is not truly sincere unless it literally ends in vomiting.

In this case, vomiting provides objective information about a spiritual situation. I mean, if some politicians don't make you sick to your stomach, there is something wrong with your digestion. For Who said it: because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit thee from my mouth.

Whew, this river stynx!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rage Machines Raging Against the Machine

Dante's fourth circle of hell is reserved for the greedy -- discussed yesterday -- but also the wrathful and sullen. What is the common demonimator holding these three seemingly disparate sins -- I would prefer at this exploratory juncture to use the less saturated "states of being" -- together?

No idea, but we'll keep the question in mind as we proceed.

To begin with, it seems that in each case, the sense of proportion and perspective has been lost. With regard to the greedy, Dante has Virgil say that each one of them / Was so asquint, he could not see to spend / With any sort of measure or restraint. (By "asquint" he means "squint-eyed," or looking at the world through a microscope of greed instead of the teloscope of faith and magnanimity.)

The greedy have lost faith in Providence, and in effect, try to become God by exerting absolute control over Fortune. As Upton explains, both the miser and the spendthrift behave as if Dame Fortune has been -- or could be -- conquered.

Luck let a gentleman see / How nice a dame you can be / I've seen the way you've treated other guys you've been with / Luck be a lady with me.

But as the great tragedians teach us, no one is brought so low as the high and mighty who again imagine they have cheated the Law. Just when you have everything under control, the Muslim Brotherhood is asking for your head on a platter, or that shadow on the x-ray turns out to be an inoperable tumor, or your financial advisor is running a Ponzi scheme. Hey, A lady doesn't leave her escort / It isn't fair, and it's not nice!

This has an important economic dimension, because only in a free market economy does luck become a factor woven into the very system. In any socialist command economy, elites attempt to control fortune by exerting top-down authority. And as we all know, this only results in less wealth and fortune for everyone. "To cry out against Fortune while demanding Justice is a contradiction" (Upton), because it ends up eliminating both.

In order for the free market system to work, it is critical that we do not envy those upon whom Fortune has smiled or whose bones she blows -- unlike the controlling brute who who insists that A lady doesn't wander all over the room / And blow on some other guy's dice.

Interestingly, Upton notes that Fortune has a kind of cosmic function, as it is "a manifestation of the Divine impartiality," which is "stable in the higher realm, but unstable and capricious -- though only apparently so -- in the lower one." If we could control fortune, it would be equivalent to being God. We would certainly have no need to rely upon God, because we could control our destiny as easily as we control, say, electricity.

But thank God we do not have this kind of control over our lives, because, like the socialist economic planner, we simply do not have sufficient information to make rational decisions. And pretending we do immediately renders us irrational.

In other words, if Hayek's "knowledge problem" applies to markets, how much more so does it apply to the soul's terrestrial journey! As they say, more tears are shed over answered than unanswered prayers. "Thy will be done" implies "my will not be done" -- or, more to the point, my purblind willfulness not be done.

Referring back to a comment from a couple of posts ago, the alcoholic can only begin his recovery once he abandons the illusion of self control, and gives himself over to a "higher power." But the reason AA works is that it simply enunciates principles that are universal, regardless of whether one is an addict.

Please note that the Christian God is not a God of "control," but of abandoning control in the most shocking way imaginable. All pagan religions -- including paganized Christianity -- are doctrines of magical control. In contrast, Christianity recognizes the "power of powerlessness," so to speak: the meek shall inherit the earth, and so on.

To paraphrase our Unknown Friend, not only does God not control history like an Obamunist czar, but he is crucified within history, submitting to it entirely. This is a strange, strange, doctrine, far too weird and counter-intuitive for anyone to invent.

The envious left is preoccupied with certain classes of people upon whom Fortune has smiled, but never in any consistent or intellectually honest way. Productive CEOs are paid too much, but you certainly don't hear them complaining about worthless actors' salaries. Corporations are greedy, but never the state. Pharmaceutical companies that discover life-saving drugs are enemies, but parasitic trial lawyers who contribute nothing to society escape notice. And so on.

A little deeper down in the fourth circle are "the souls of the angry" who "attack each other forever" (Upton). Each of them is an enraged little OlbermanBearPig shrieking about his worst person in the world!

Upton makes the important point that, like lust and gluttony, wrath is a normal mode that is sharply exaggerated and out of balance. Its "higher archetpe" is justice, which means that the wrathful are obsessed with some perceived injustice.

But since injustice is everywhere, this means there is never any shortage of pretexts for the wrathful to vent their rage. The reason the left invented the meaningless term "social justice" was in order to legitimize their perpetual rage. Dreams of infinite terrestrial justice evoke omnipotent outrage. Which is when the real killing begins.

The question, as always, is whether the anger is divine or demonic, righteous or merely self-righteous. Proper anger "is that which allows us to take an aggressive stand, but it needs to be tempered by service to something higher than itself" (Upton).

But cut off from its higher archetype, anger becomes petty, distorted, and permanently aggrieved. And once it roosts in the psyche, it serves as an attractor that seeks out what it requires in order to go on being. It "sinks back into itself" and draws "souls into a horrible stagnation" or fevered swamp. Are there people on the right who do this, in imitation of the left? Yes, and I can't stand them.

What about the sullen? Don't you know any sullen people? They are impossible to be around, because they try to infect others with their sullenness, which is a kind of aggressive attack.

Dennis Prager makes a big point about this, and insists that happiness is a moral obligation. In other words, even if you are unhappy inside, it is not right to inflict your unhappiness upon others, and to draw them into your toxic attractor. At first blush "immoral" may seem like a strong word, but it is no different than spreading the flu, or not bathing and inflicting your beastly smell on your coworkers.

Greed, anger, sullenness. What's the connection? In each case, the person forgets all about real justice, and converts his own petty concerns into narcissistic idols that become far more important than they actually are. And "in doing so, one turns away from God's Will and toward self-will: and this is the essence of Anger" (Upton).

I do not know of a sin which is not, for the noble soul, its own punishment. --Don Colacho

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Greed, Compulsion, and the Turn Toward SatAnality

The fourth circle of hell is a kind of tipping point, from exterior to interior, from impulsiveness to willfulness, from corrupt behavior to soul corruption. It is where souls go from being rotten to the core to being rotten from the core.

Lust and gluttony -- circles two and three -- involve impulses directed toward external objects. Superficially, greed might appear to involve attachment to objects, but it's usually the other way around. For the greedy, "appetite" has become completely detached from any rational purpose, and becomes a compulsive and marauding force in its own wrong.

In this regard, it is important to bear in mind the distinction between the impulsive and the compulsive. Outwardly they might look similar, but they're actually opposites. The impulsive person suffers from an absence of will, while the obsessive-compulsive person has an excess, to the point of willfulness. (Obsessions are compulsive thoughts, while compulsions are obsessive behaviors.)

The impulse is not carefully planned or motivated, just "discharged." Such weak-willed persons can resist anything but temptation. According to Shapiro, they are often "remarkably lacking in active interests, aims, values, or goals much beyond the immediate concerns of their own lives," and usually don't have "abiding, long-range personal plans or ambitions." Frankly, they are very much like animals. And they're out there. I meet them all the time.

Again, the compulsive style is quite different from this. Shapiro notes that they have been called "living machines," which is an apt description, since at least impulsive types can be very lively to be around. They can be "live wires," even if their wires habitually short-circuit.

But there is a grimness and rigidity around the compulsive person, plus a narrowness of interest and focus. In other words, the rigidity doesn't just affect behavior, but the soul itself, which becomes sclerotic, predictable, and closed to new facts and experiences. Not for nothing are they called anal, which in turn has immediate associations with the lower strata.

Obsessive-compulsives no longer "see" what is not a part of their compulsiveness. Theirs is a life of trees, with no forest at all. Think of the miserly Scrooge, for whom everything and anything is quantifiable into money, and money is all that matters.

But please note that one can be an "intellectual (or emotional) miser" every bit as much as a financial one. This is because greed is first a state of the soul which only secondarily attaches itself to objects, and the objects needn't be material. It's really more about illusory control, or attempting to control the uncontrollable.

As Shapiro describes it, the normal person can be "obsessed" with something, -- I am all the time, for compulsiveness is only an exaggeration and distortion of a normal human mode -- but "has the capacity not to be gripped, the capacity to detach himself" and "to shift his attention smoothly and rapidly, now to this aspect, now to that aspect."

One might say that the compulsive person is devoid of ironic detachment, to say nothing of humor. One thinks of all those humorless left-wing, single-issue fanatics who are so deadly serious and cannot laugh at themselves -- Al Gore (speaking of living machines), feminists, heterophobic activists, ACORNballs, et al. In the end, the obsessive-compulsive person loses all contact with reality, so narrow is his focus.

Shapiro even compares the obsessive-compulsive to a brain-damaged person, in that they share the feature of a "general loss or impairment of volitional mobility of attention." Thus, they worry and ruminate over things that a normal person dismisses or places in the background, and dismiss things that are of central concern to a normal person.

Note that such people have their place in a Full Employment Cosmos. For example, I don't mind if my neurosurgeon or airplane pilot are a little compulsive. Spontaneity and joie de vivre are fine, but I don't want my dentist to drop what he's doing on a whim because it's a nice day outside.

So at the very beginning of Canto VII, we hear Plutus, the god of wealth, call out to his master, Pape Satan, Pape Satan, aleppe! Apparently, no one knows exactly what aleppe means, but we can assume from the context that the souls here have definitively turned toward Satan, toward the darkness rather then Light. This is where "conscious worship of the satanic principle begins" (Upton).

This is the realm of both misers and spendthrifts, who are just two sides of the same koan. As Upton describes, they "roll heavy weights in opposite directions, run into each other, quarrel, retreat, and then run into each other again on the opposite side of the circle.

For as always, extremes meet -- which is why spendthrift liberals are constantly meeting miserly conservatives in their dreams (from which they never awaken).

Note that the two trends -- greed and miserliness -- are depicted by Dante as two opposing waves that ultimately cancel each other out, but in so doing form a kind of "false center" (Upton). For "both avaricious Misers and prodigal Spendtrifts are attached to wealth; both have rebelled against Providence..." They have "so radically lost any sense of proportion that no real individuals remain among them" (ibid). Again, they are merely typal, caricatures, facsimiles, living machines.

Down in the herebelow of middle earth, everything is subject to change and transformation, growth and decay. But this is precisely what the greedy person attempts to defend himself from -- as if through accumulation of possessions, one may cheat the rules of life. This only results in a progressive deadening of the soul, for to live is to risk and lose all, a kenosis with no earthly paddle unless one has an oar in the ether.

In this regard, I am reminded of some excellent aphorisms of Don Colacho, such as Whoever lives long years is present at the defeat of his cause, or Not all defeated men are decent, but all decent men end up being defeated, or Man is important only if it is true that a God has died for him.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ravenous Emptiness and Existential Hunger

If you haven't already seen it, you should read this post by Vanderleun on the left's inversion of the seven deadly sins. Seems a shame to call it a mere "post," because I think he's stumbled upon a formula that may be more profound than he realizes: that the left not only rejects the notion of sin, but elevates it to virtue.

Which means that they actually do believe in it, only in an inverted way: for where would the left be without wrath, pride, envy, greed, lust? These are the forces that drive their whole project, so they must constantly be stirred up.

That being the case, I wonder if it is also true that progressives regard the classical virtues as sins? I'll let you ponder that one, but show me a prudent leftist -- prudence being the cardinal virtue -- and I'll show you a neocon, i.e., a recovered liberal.

For "none but the prudent man can be just, brave, and temperate, and the good man is good in so far as he is prudent" (Pieper). Prudence is another word for wisdom, which is precisely what is jettisoned in any materialistic philosophy. Thus, most progressives categorically reject objective truth and morality, but "whoever rejects truth, whether natural or supernatural, is really 'wicked' and beyond conversion" (ibid.) -- which is to say, beyond even the reach of God, God being Truth.

Progressives also transmogrify actual justice into the totalitarian monster of "social justice" -- a justice which is simply subordinate to their justice-denying policy preferences. This is par for the coarse and vulgar, since the imprudent man "will often call lies and cowardice prudent, truthfulness and courageous sacrifice imprudent"; but "all virtue is necessarily prudent" and "prudence is the cause of the other virtues' being virtues at all" (ibid).

And "courage"? Forget about it. When Hollywood leftists are called courageous for making films in praise of their courage for making left-wing films for each other, you know the word has lost all meaning. The Dan of Steel had it right: Show biz kids making movies of themselves / You know they don't give a fuck about anybody else.

We never finished gluttony, which is a somewhat ambig & fatuous category for the left, as they tend to displace spiritual health to the medical arena, and then be preoccupied with trivial threats to one's physical well-being, such as "second hand smoke" or condoms for heterosexuals to avoid overwhelmingly homosexual diseases. Therefore, like the First Lady, they may be concerned about obesity in their own way, but not for any good reason. If they were only so concerned about the soul's health, the rest would take care of itself.

Nazis too were quite preoccupied with the pursuit of physical ideals. They were anti-tobacco, anti-obesity, and pro-natural lifestyle. (Just found this rather strange article that praises Nazi science for its awareness of the dangers of tobacco and asbestos -- which is like saying the ice cream was delicious except for all that bovine excrement that was mixed in. But as with Obamacare, the bullshit is non-severable.)

As Upton writes, gluttony is "a perversion of a natural instinct" rooted in "an attempt to become complete, to fill an empty place in one's soul.... [F]or the damned the quality of fulfillment, which is based on a spiritual ascent they cannot accomplish, only intensifies their peculiar distortions."

This provokes several associations in me. First, as mentioned yesterday, the phase of orality is actually rooted in a relationship. For the baby, the act of suckling is accompanied by a sense of taking in warmth, comfort, and love, which "fills up" a painful emptiness inside -- an emptiness that is clearly "beyond words," since the baby has no language with which to symbolize it.

Human beings never stop needing the translinguistic experience of emotional/spiritual fulfillment. Furthermore, to the extent that they missed out on it on the "ground floor" of childhood, they will later seek it in all sorts of inappropriate, dysfunctional, and self-defeating ways that are guaranteed to produce frustration and misery, not just with food, but sex, alcohol, drugs, shopping, texting, whatever.

A critical point to bear in mind is that, through what Winnicott called "good enough mothering," the baby gradually goes from a condition of "oneness" to that of "twoness," or from omnipotence to reciprocity. At first the "ruthless baby" imagines that it conjures the breast out of its own need, but gradually the (m)other comes into view.

You'll see this transition in your baby when they become aware of a desire to please you -- to return the love and to give fulfillment instead of just taking it. It's a beautiful thing to experience, because it's as if all that infinite love you've poured into your baby starts returning to you. Which helps make up for the financial loss.

One of the things I learned in my psychoanalytic training is that patients with issues related to this stage have a great deal of difficulty "taking in." It may be at either extreme; for example, one patient may want to "devour" the therapist, while another peevishly "spits out" every interpretation you make. Another might take in your help, only to secretly vomit it out after leaving the session.

But in order to be properly (psychospiritually) nourished, we must first be aware of the emptiness and need inside. This is precisely what the narcissist, for example, cannot do. The narcissist imagines himself to be perfectly complete -- except his painful lack of completion unconsciously leaks out in the need to be noticed, admired, and idealized.

For the narcissist, the world becomes the infantile mother who registers in her face the wonderfulness of the baby. Which explains the infantile rage of the narcissist when the world-mother fails to mirror their grandiosity.

Upton touches on something similar, noting that implicit in gluttony is a kind of psychic imperialism, a "power complex, a hunger to incorporate everything in one's surroundings," which allows "the ego to inflate beyond its true limits."

Here it is important to understand that envy is a primary cause of greed. Since the envious person cannot tolerate the painful feeling that someone else has what he wants, he attacks the object of envy -- which only makes him more intensely greedy because of the absence of fulfillment. It's one of the perennial votercycles of the left: envy --> greed --> envy --> greed. The constant class envy only results in the desire for more.

Which is why for progressives, it's Never Enough. The eventual Supreme Court decision on Obamacare will officially determine if there is any limit to what the ravenous state can force one to do.

Upton also makes a subtle point about human sacrifice and psychic cannibalism, which are not motivated by the desire to accumulate possessions so much as the will "to incorporate the very soul of another."

This very much reminds me of Citizen Kane, who attempts to fill his empty soul (which resulted from traumatic maternal separation) with that absurdly overstuffed warehouse full of material possessions (which are dispassionately consigned to flames at the end of the film). And recall that the very first murder in recorded history occurred with the envious citizen Cain whacking his brother, since he couldn't tolerate the emptiness Abel provoked in him.

Appeasing Gluttony, that ravenous and insatiable emptiness:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Gluttons for Punishment and Punishment for Gluttons

The third circle of hell seems especially relevant for our age, since it is the Circle of the Gluttons. No sooner do we solve the problem of hunger, than we have an epidemic of obesity. This is a perfect example of how man, in his fallen state, cannot long remain in a condition of static balance and harmony. That is, he is either (unconsciously) descending or (consciously) ascending.

Or, put it this way: if you're not rising, then you're falling. Trying to maintain a static balance between those two cosmic tendencies is like trying to stand perfectly still on a tightrope. We can will upward or downward, but we cannot will stasis, - which is really a kind of deadness -- so long as we are in the world.

We think of hell as a fiery place, but this particular corner is said to be cold, wet and sodden: eternal rain / Accursed, cold and heavy / Thick hail, dark water, and unending snow / Come pouring down athwart the murky air -- / Their quality and cadence never changing -- / Upon the putrid earth.

Upton writes that "the punishing rain is a parody of real mercy," and that the gluttons "experience God's mercy and grace as dirty kitchen water; they reject mercy because they are disgusted by it."

In psychoanalytic parlance, this is the realm of orality, which is our first post-uterine neuro-developmental stage. Clearly, our first orientation to the world is via the mouth. Freud, because of his positivistic and scientistic bias, looked at this stage in wholly mechanistic terms, as if it were just a question of instinctual discharge. In other words: baby is hungry; baby seeks breast; baby suckles; baby is content, or at equilibrium (or alternatively, frustrated, enraged, and at disequilibrium, which an infant cannot long tolerate without blowing a circuit).

Long story short, this view has evolved considerably over the decades. First of all, babies are not machines that seek dissipation of tension. Rather, they are persons right from the start. That being the case, they primarily seek a relationship (one cannot say "relationships" at this early stage, since the infant does not have the capacity to abstract from the flow of experience as such). Thus, our first relationship is via the mouth, but a relationship is very different from an instinctual discharge.

D.W. Winnicott was perhaps the most sensitive theorist of infant development. Long story shorter, it is not just food that is imported during the oral stage, but love, trust, containment, taking and giving pleasure, and the general ability to dissolve into boundary-less love in an interpersonal context -- all is symbolically attached to the food, which is precisely what makes food so much more than it is.

I haven't kept up with the research, but in graduate school, things like anorexia and bulimia -- and disordered relationships to food in general -- could be easily traced to profound disturbances in the mother-infant dyad (for example, the aptly titled Starving to Death in a Sea of Objects: The Anorexia Nervosa Syndrome).

Now, there is no question that a kind of grace is operative in infancy. But the grace flows in two directions, a fact to which any normal mother can attest. There is a flow of grace, a "reciprocity dance," between the partners, in a kind of expanding circle of love. And importantly, all of this takes place in the realm of being, which will become the background of any later "knowing."

Another important theorist, R.D. Fairbairn, discussed what occurs as a result of maternal deprivation or impingement during this phase. He called it the "schizoid position," which may essentially be thought of as a private, closed-off world that serves as a kind of defensive sanctuary.

Importantly, when he is "rejected" by the mother, the infant feels that his own love is bad or tainted. Thus, this defense actually defends others from one's own "toxic" love. In other words, the emotionally enclosed schizoid person is not primarily protecting himself, but others. Their love feels "damaging" to them.

Another outcome of problems at this stage can be the false self, which one might think of as a self-created maternal container for the true self. The false self hovers over and protects the vulnerable true self (all unconsciously, of course). It is an adaptation to a disappointing or frightening world.

If all goes relatively well (or "well enough"), the infant is ushered into an expansive but non-persecutory space, which becomes the background of being. Grotstein describes it as

"a joint enterprise from the mother's and infant's imagination to allow for the latter's playing and imagining. It is vouchsafed [a] space which is both guaranteed and protected but is also free for playful expansion, discovery, and rehearsal. Later it becomes internalized as a space between the world of internal objects and of symbolic object representations. Utmostly, it is the place where illusion... occurs. It is the locale of the creative act and the 'spontaneous gesture.'"

Here is a slightly more mythopoetic description by the same author:

"The 'blessed' infant shoves his playful little hands into the primal soil of nothingness and chaos and, in time, he imagines forms emerging from them which he claims as his own unique creation.... The sense of secure 'I'ness is thus launched, and the infant can claim his own existence, history, and destiny. That is, by creating the world and then exploring what he has created -- and then discovered -- in it, he has developed an origin, a self-continuity, a 'going-on-being.' He is then ready for the world he did not create but which created him..."

In contrast, the "cursed infant" is victimized by "the intergenerational strife which mother (and father) project into him, 'cursed' by lacking a holding-containing environment, a matrix, a background presence of primary identification, 'cursed' by a heredity of perverse chromosomes, and/or 'cursed' by the failure of his imaginary mental life to make benevolent mythical sense of his dilemma." This is the mind-parasite infested person, whose freedom is sharply curtailed.

Such a person may alternatively "own" a sense of being evil or malevolent in order to "protect" the mother, or plummet "into the abyss," the "'black hole' where he is forever transformed, stigmatized, and doomed."

In other words, these people tend to become either victims or victimizers. Or, they can just become liberals and be both. For the victim feels he has moral license to victimize, while the victimizer must create new sacrificial victims to feed his vampiristic soul. The creation of victims by liberal policy is not a bug but a feature. Without victims, the liberal is stuck in his own private hell.

Way out of time. Time only for a question and a comment. First, could there be a relationship between inadequate parenting -- especially infant daycare -- and a disordered relationship to food, ending in obesity?

And second, I intuited long ago that psychoanalysis was a kind of modern pseudo-religion that provides a new way of talking about some very old realities that were already discussed by great spiritual thinkers of the past. In short, you can really see that Grotstein is talking about a kind of heaven and hell.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Path of Lust Resistance

Midway upon our guided tour through hell, your strutting psychopomp came down with the flu and deviated from the path that does not stray. Now having lost the plot, he wonders if he can regain his former momentum, or whether he should just chuck it in and issue a full refund. He wishes to remind us all that he is no more a scholar of Dante than you are, so this verticalisthenic exorcism is venturing perilously close to resembling actual work, heaven forfend.

We were into Canto V, where, in the words of Upton, Dante "descends into the Second Circle, the true beginning of Hell": Thus I went downward from the topmost ring / Into the second, where in a smaller space / The greater torments bring forth cries of woe.

Now, the first thing that occurs to us is that this is the inverse of the celestial spheres, which also represent a series of concentric circles. However, in their case, they have the paradoxical quality of becoming more expansive as one approaches the center. Obviously this is "geometrically" impossible, which is why geometry can only "indicate" but not actually map these areas of theometry.

As we know, there are seven "deadly" sins, including lust, gluttony, greed, acedia, wrath, envy, and pride; and these correspond to their seven virtues, chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility. This particular circle of the inferno houses the lustful.

Obviously, when it comes to lust, context is everything. Certain types of lust are not only permissible, but encouraged.

Analogously, the temperate person enjoys food just as much as (if not more than) the glutton. But in the case of the latter, something has shifted within the soul, so as to attach much more significance to the object of gluttony than there is in it. I mean, it's only food. What's the big deal? But this is precisely the detached attitude the glutton cannot take toward the act of gastric intercourse.

It is the same with lust. Like the appetite for food, it is a kind of real power that can become detached from the central self that would "humanize" and elevate it, so to speak.

Upton notes that that Dante attaches special blame to the romantic poets who delve "into deep psychic material without seeing its spiritual implications, which would have allowed them to raise it to a higher level." Being that Dante is a poet, he knows full well "how romantic glamour can lead to the loss of eternal life."

Note that these are sinners who do not just lust, but who vilely yield / Their reason to their carnal appetite. And please do not confuse "reason" with mere rationality -- as if the correct path would involve the rational ego merely repressing these lower urges from above. Rather, Dante is talking about the higher intellect, the psychic being, the central self, what we symbolize with the pneumaticon (¶).

It is critical to bear in mind that the latter is always a function of vertical integration, not repression or splitting. And this is indeed a central theme of the Divine Comedy, in that the whole purpose of "descending into hell" is to recover, redeem, and sanctify lost and missing parts of the self. The only good reason to make this descent is because the lower vertical places an upper limit on how high one may ascend without being blindsided and dragged back down to hell.

Now, as we were saying a few posts back, there is a kind of pseudo-transcendence that occurs when plunging into the lower vertical. Obviously, being swamped by lust -- or by anger, or booze, or anything else -- temporarily disables the ego, bringing with it a subjective sense of freedom and expanded space.

Think of all those phony gurus who use this fact to prey upon their devotees, e.g., Adi Da, Chögyam Trungpa, Muktananda, and all the rest of that miserable bunch of new age mythofolkers and crockseekers. Their circle of hell will be described later, as we move closer to the center. (As we know, John Lennon's Sexie Sadie was actually about Deepak Chopra's randy guru, the infamous Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.)

Upton notes that in our debased culture, it is as if sexuality has entirely displaced spirituality, so that it becomes simultaneously much more and much less than it actually is: "in our culture we almost consider this blinding to be legitimate because we see reason as a tyrant, whereas in Thomistic theology, reason (ratio) is one of the first fruits of the Intellect (Intellectus, the direct intuition of spiritual Truth), and also its servant."

Upton also points out that the souls in this circle are not as deluded as those we will encounter later. In one sense, they enjoy their entrapment in the lower imagination, not knowing that this type of sexuality is a promise that can never be kept. In hell it is this perpetual disappointment and disillusionment that is experienced, the mourningafter the naughtybefore.

Think, for example, of what motivates the gambling addict. In that fleeting moment when his money is on the line, he experiences a kind of infinite hope. But like a rubber band, he is then snapped into an infinite despair when he loses the wager. In this way, his displaced hope keeps him simultaneously alive and dead in a pseudo-eternity of perpetual acting out.

In reality, such a person has turned against Spirit, but has "spiritualized" something unworthy of the name. The souls in this circle are blown about by the wind, just as they were in this life. Wind is "a symbol of the Spirit, but since the damned have turned against the Spirit, they experience it as turning against them" (Upton). Thus, as the "higher love" leads one up and out, a love that excludes God is a "satanic parody" that can never be sustained.

Along these lyin's, note some of the many excellent aphorisms of Don Colacho on this website I just discovered (HT Vanderleun):

A great love is a well ordered sensuality.

A naked body solves all the universe’s problems.

Sex does not solve even sexual problems.

The 19th century did not live with more anguish because of its sexual repression than the 20th century with its sexual liberation. Identical obsession, even when the symptoms are the opposite.

God is the substance of what we love.

Eroticism exhausts itself in promises.

To liberate man is to subject him to greed and sex.

The souls of the lustful in the infernal his & hurricane.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Hitler as Darwinian Word Made Flesh

Genuine religion is a defense against ideology of all forms; or, you might say that ideology is a reaction to religion, which is why the worst ideologies -- the ones that do real damage -- become pseudo-religions, drawing on religious energy and emotion to sustain themselves, all the while pretending to themselves that Spirit does not exist.

Genuine religion -- either consciously and explicitly or unconsciously and implicitly -- puts one in touch with first principles that define man qua Man, and allow one to understand the adage, as above, so below. This means that the archetypal Man (Adam Kadmon) is fashioned after the Absolute, and that the arc of our lives is (or should be) a movement toward greater conformity to that archetype.

False religions such as metaphysical Darwinism or Leftism always either obscure their first principles or fail to draw them out. As a result, they can't help lying, whether consciously or unconsciously. The dim or passive ones -- which is most of them -- lie unconsciously, whereas the bright ones do so consciously and disingenuously.

In fact, that is one of the difficulties in assessing a liberal. For example, Obama or Pelosi are so "cosmically ignorant" (as PowerLine put it) about economics, one necessarily wonders: do they actually believe what they say? In short, are they stupid or malevolent?

The Darwinist cannot or will not see the reality of "as above, so below." Not only does he deny it, but to the extent that Darwinism reveals the truth of man, then the reverse must be the case: as below, so above.

In other words, if Darwinism were true, then there is absolutely nothing -- not love, not truth, not art, not virtue -- that cannot be reduced to a battle down below for genetic survival. Translated to the field of politics, it is reduced to a brawl for power.

People say it is unfair to blame Darwin for social Darwinism, but to the extent that Darwinism reveals the "truth" of man, and this truth begins to take root on a widespread basis, only a rank hypocrite, weakling, or sentimentalist would fail to apply the doctrine to the conduct of his life. Besides, there can be no fairness or unfairness in Darwinism.

This is most certainly how Hitler felt about it. Furthermore, he was at least consistent and clear-sighted enough to know who the real enemy was: the religious, beginning with the devils who were responsible for the whole thing, the Jews. In order to apply his new anti-religious religion, he had to extirpate the old religion root and branch. Jews were the root. The branches would come later.

Even in a thoroughly trivial case such as Charles the Queeg, notice how this radical Darwinist has had to go about purging his blog of the religious. The underlying pattern is identical, again, because religion is the inoculation against bad or evil ideologies, so the battle against religion will always be at the front line of Cosmic War I, AKA the Forty Thousand Year War.

This is what groups such as the ACLU are all about, regardless of what they say they are about. Again, many of its members are just stupid, while others are disingenuous. But underneath it all, they know that in order to advance their infrahuman and anti-human agenda, they must eliminate the one force that would prevent it: religion.

Oddly enough, Hitler was actually more crafty and subtle than the ACLU. One of the things that marginalizes the ACLU in America is that they attack religion so brazenly. In Hitler's case, he knew that he had to progress in stages in order to gradually "Nazify" Christendom. If he had gone after Christianity more directly, more resistance would have arisen.

And he didn't even go after the Jews on the basis of religion per se. Rather, he first converted them to a race, again consistent with the principle of "as below, so above." In other words, their "evil" ideology could be reduced to a kind of genetic defect, and thus eliminated from the body of man. The pathology was not in our stars, but in the blood.

One author has defined fascism as the violent resistance to transcendence. From this angle, the ACLU is not fascist, since they engage in non-violent resistance to transcendence. And yet, the distinction is not so clear cut, since the ACLU wants to use the law to gain a monopoly on religion (the religion of materialism), and the law is always backed by state violence.

But at the same time, it's not as simple as saying that fascism is opposed to transcendence. Rather, it simply inverts it, so that transcendence will be sought from "below," in the emotions, instincts, and senses. What the Nazis sought was a kind of frenzied and irrational religion, or religion purged of any kind of hierarchical ascent. A large part of this necessarily involved a disabling of the conscience, which is to the individual what real religion is to the collective.

Hitler was well aware, for example, of how the Ten Commandments represented a very real barrier to what might be called "transcendence through descent." He wanted to breed a new "race" of ecstatically violent men who would have no such scruples -- authentic born-again pagans with no "impure" Jewish conscience to get in the way. In this inverted religion, man could be totally fulfilled here on earth by transcending individuality from below.

As Van Vrekhem writes, Hitler believed he "had been sent, and was constantly guided, to change the conscience and morality of man into something like the opposite of Christianity." This would be "a new system of values based on brutality and violence." Hitler actually saw Christ as his precursor, in that he would be the "link," so to speak, between the Volk and their most primitive instincts. Again, it was very much as if he were "word made flesh," except that in this case, the word was the primordial lie from below. Hitler said that,

"Providence has predestined me to be the greatest liberator of humanity.... I liberate man... from the foul and humiliating pangs of a chimera called 'conscience' and 'morality,' and from the demands of a liberty and personal independence of which anyway only a few are capable."

To the Christian teaching about the infinite value of the individual soul, "I oppose with icy clarity the liberating teaching of the nothingness and insignificance of the individual and his development within the concrete immortality of the nation." The Fuhrer would release "the mass of the believers from the burden of the free decision."

You see? Like nature herself, Hitler cared for the survival of the German species, not the individual. Like a multiculturalist, he believed that eternity was concretely located in the group's essence, not in the fanciful individual soul: "Hitler saw the human individual as nothing more than a cell in a body, an ant in a nest."

Hitler wrote that "the life of the individual should not be given such high value. A fly lays a million eggs, they all die. But flies survive." As Van Vrekhem notes, "the perspectives this opens reveal something of the real dimension of the evil to be discovered behind all the destruction and slaughter caused by this German Messiah."

At its very core, Hitler's vision was radically anti-Christian, anti-Enlightenment, anti-modernity, and anti-progress. His revolutionary goal was to create a "Spartan totalitarianism, in which people would be smiling, healthy, fanatical, and soulless robots, totally integrated into the common body of the Volk and disdaining individual dignity as a kind of psychological leprosy." This new man would place will above intellect (and certainly conscience).

Here again, this is the precise inversion of the religious man, for whom will is a prolongation of intellect, or "truth in action." But for the Nazi (or the metaphysically consistent Darwinist, for that matter), there can be no truth.

Rather, "truth" is just the prolongation of genetic will into the illusory area of the "mind." Truth is a function of power, as any good leftist knows. Thus, Hitler was in complete accord with your average de-Christianized leftist professor, that "the propaganda which produces the desired results is good and all other propaganda is bad."

*A reminder to the stupid: when I refer to "Darwinism," I am always talking about philosophical or metaphysical Darwinism, not the actual science. And before you get all sensitive and defensive, remember that the radical Darwinists such as Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris do not hesitate to call religion evil. I am merely responding in kind, for if one of these metaphysics is true, and you value Truth, then the other must inevitably be evil. Finally, it should go without saying that I am in no way suggesting that Hitler would have consciously regarded himself as a Darwinist, even though his perverse view of human life shares some of its most important assumptions.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Left Wing Proglodytes: Marching Boldly into the Future Toward an Imaginary Past

One more repost and I think tomorrow I'll be good to go, back into the Inferno. But this is not just filler, because I'm actually interested in re-examining a previous series of posts on Hitler in light of Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945. So I'll be adding a lot of new material as we go along.

Can any general principles be derived from something that seems so uniquely evil, i.e., the Nazi phenomenon? And not just banalities such as "don't appease bullies," or "genocide is bad," or "get rid of that stupid little mustache."

[The first thing that occurs to me is that, not only was Nazism not unique, but if we are honest, we must admit that we actually required the assistance of forces that were every bit as evil as Nazism in order to defeat it.]

[In reading Armegeddon, it seems that Churchill was very much aware of the depth of Stalin's evil, whereas Roosevelt (to say nothing of the left in general) was quite naive about it -- which caused Churchill considerable grief. He didn't want to liberate Poland or Czechoslovakia from the Nazis, only to hand it over to monsters who were even worse! But by the time of Yalta, Churchill held little sway].

[Wikipedia: Churchill believed Stalin "to be a devil-like tyrant leading a vile system," whereas the clueless FDR said "I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of a man. ... I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace." Thus, Churchill was fighting a losing battle, not only against FDR and our communist-infiltrated state department, but in his own homeland, where many of the soldiers -- not to mention intellectuals -- were men of the left who believed themselves to be fighting for socialist principles.]

As mentioned yesterday, one of the important contexts of Nazism was romanticism, which was itself a reaction to the alienation that was felt as a result of the industrial revolution in particular and modernity in general. Veith writes that "people felt alienated from nature, from society, and -- because their identity had become such an enigma -- from themselves. The rationalism of the Enlightenment, which seemed responsible for this malaise, was answered in the 19th century by Romanticism."

Marxism is rooted in the myopic fallacy that things were getting worse for the average worker, when the reality was that, for the first time in 10,000 years, they were actually getting dramatically better.

In this regard, Marx was not just economically illiterate, but appallingly ahistorical, a malady that continues to afflict the left to this day. The free market will eventually solve most problems that leftist policies will only perpetuate or aggravate, which means that the left is the very disease it attempts to cure. In order to carry this off, the leftist relies upon people being riveted to the ahistorical moment, so they may implement a radical solution to redeem the future. But the former never works and the latter never arrives.

Let's consider the idea that sudden progress may evoke sudden regression -- or at least make certain people more vulnerable to it. Yesterday we mentioned the 1960s. Why would the most affluent and pampered generation in history suddenly revert to neo-paganism, earth-worship, deconstruction, moral relativism, polymorphous perversity, and a rejection of the very civilizational inheritance that allowed such unprecedented affluence to begin with?

It reminds me of an unfortunate incident that occurred last Sunday, when Mrs. G backed her car out of the garage, and in the process managed to amputate my driver's side view mirror. So for the last few days I've been rolling the Coonmobile without one, and it's more disorienting than you might think. You realize the extent to which successfully moving forward requires one to keep an eye riveted on the past. Without that view of the past, it can sneak up on you in surprising ways. Your every move risks colliding with someone else's unfolding line of spacetime. Furthermore, I found myself reflexively looking for the past in the usual place, but finding only a "hole" -- except that the hole was filled with the present.

In the 1960s, the boomer generation gleefully tore the rearview mirror off the vehicle of civilization, while simultaneously believing they could put the pedal to the metal on the engine of progress. Is it therefore surprising that so many fatal accidents occurred? The breakup of the family, soaring crime rates, subrealistic art that became a celebration of the primitive and infrahuman, a deteriorating educational system at all levels, a general recrudescence of neopaganism, with its cult of the body and exaltation of the instincts, women emulating men, men emulating women, the rejection of our own Judeo-Christian wisdom tradition, etc. All because a bunch adolescents went on a joyride and tore the rear view mirror off Dad's car.

Will makes the point that "Nazism was, in a sense, a stab at progress, and a spiritual progress, to be sure. Doomed to failure, of course, because it, like communism, attempted to transcend collectively, an impossibility. I think we should make no mistake, though -- there is a meta-power in the collective that can be harnassed, channeled. Thus Nazism was a mysticism gone bad, and when mysticism goes bad, it becomes evil."

Precisely. In Hitler and His God, we read of Aurobindo making a similar comment, only in the 1930s: "Hitler is a new type, an infra-rational mystic, representing the dark counterpart of what we are striving to arrive at: a supra-rational mysticism.... He is a mystic, only a mystic of the wrong kind! He goes into solitude for his messages and waits till they come."

This was true. Hitler's "voice" was inconsistent with any garden variety psychosis, in which the individual has no control over his delusions and hallucinations. But in Hitler's case, he would court and call upon "the voice," in the same way an artist might call upon his muse or I might call upon my household gnome.

So who or what was the voice? Whatever it was, it gave him a kind of absolute conviction, plus the complete fearlessness and unwavering faith to carry out its promptings. Now, who does this remind us of? Yes, the Islamists follow that same pattern, with their insane faith in the transcendently evil. Clearly, it is no coincidence that Mein Kampf is a perennial bestseller in the Muslim world, or that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was an ally of Hitler, or that Jew hatred is central to both ideologies.

Just as the Divine leaves its traces in time, Satan always leaves his scent, so to speak. It reminds me of one of the final scenes of Batman Begins, where the Lieutenant hands Batman the Joker's calling card. For what is the Joker card? It is simultaneously nothing and anything. In fact, it can be anything you want it to be, from the highest of the high (the king) to the lowest of the low, or anything in between. It can even be another gender (the queen). As such, it abolishes all distinction and hierarchy, except that in a perverse way, the nothing-anything of the Joker is the "top," as he stands completely outside -- he transcends and upends -- any established or meaningful order.

Now, this is surely a kind of mysticism, but it is again a mysticism "from below" rather than above. It abolishes distinctions before they even have a chance to become distinct, which was again one of the central features of Nazism. You might say that there were only two real distinctions, 1) the Volk, and 2) the Führer -- who was truly a nothing and a nobody who became the German "all."

There was also the SA and the SS, but in both cases, their admittance into the hierarchy very much depended upon the degree to which they had subordinated their own will and identity to the Führer principle. The SS in particular was a sort of esoteric mystic body; in fact, they modeled themselves after the Jesuits, only absolutely committed to Hitler instead of Christ. In Armageddon, I couldn't help drawing an inverse parallel between them and the early Christian martyrs, in that they were absolutely ready and willing to die for their führer, even into May 1945.

In his comment, Will also noted that "Personal responsibility arises from genuine individualism and self-awareness -- meaning the attempt to overcome one's self-love, one's own lower instincts. When the emphasis is on a collective responsibility -- meaning making sure you recycle and pay respects to Gaia, etc. -- and personal responsibility is distinctly de-emphasized, then we're veering close to a mysticism gone bad."

As Will implies, the nationalism of Germany was a parody of the patriotism of the United States, the latter of which must first involve defense of the sacred principle of the individual. But in the case of German nationalism, it was in defense of the innate superiority of the German people in the collective sense. Again, this was conceived in terms of a mystical essence that emanated from the Volk, and only through the individual in a derivative way. There was a "German genius" that was in the blood, not on "paper," as it is in the case of America's founding documents.

Therefore, in the case of Nazi Germany, they needed to eliminate "foreign blood" in the same way Americans must constantly battle against "lies," or more precisely, "the lie." Hitler had no scruples whatsoever in lying, murdering, or backstabbing in order to further his "higher" truth, which was the racial purity of the German spirit. In fact, in that context, no degree of barbarism was off limits. Everything followed logically -- or infralogically -- from his first principles, which were written in the blood.

Van Vrekhem makes the interesting point that it is no coincidence that the Protestant revolt began in Germany with Luther. I have no idea whether this is generally accepted by other scholars, but Van Vrekhem notes that Christianity always had an uneasy relationship with the German psyche, and was very much superimposed on a more primitive pagan mythology that was never forgotten among the "volk." Therefore, when Luther came along to declare independence from the central church, he was merely exploiting collective psychic energies that were already very near the surface.

Führermore, it seems that the longing for a "strong man from above" was a continuous feature of the German psyche. As Van Vrekhem notes, "This need for an all-powerful master was an important feature in the psychological make-up of the Germans long before the strong man became the paragon of Fascism in many European nations. The Fürher was longed and prayed for; he was expected before he took the shape of Adolf Hitler. It was not the least of of Hitler's intuitions that he knew exactly how to take on the part and act in a way to which the German masses subconsciously responded with religious fervor." Another observer wrote that "The cry for a leader arose from the searing wish for somebody who would provide meaning in a secularized time, which apparently burdened the individual with an excess of individual responsibility and made him feel lonely" (emphases mine).

Van Vrekhem relates story after story of how strong men -- generals, diplomats, artists, intellectuals and journalists -- were reduced to Jello in Hitler's presence. He clearly transmitted a kind of preternatural power to which many individuals attested. So the ultimate responsibility is not in the führer but in the volk from whom he draws his very substance.

Speaking of which, is there an "artist" in Hollywood, or a celebrity journalist, or a tenured mediocretin, who didn't fall under Obama's spiel? Yes, a few, but only a few. Obama clearly has a similar kind of power, at least over the susceptible -- for example, his vaunted ability to make Chris Matthews' pasty thigh tingle. Obviously it can't be Obama's ideas, which are so banal, nor his accomplishments, which are nil.

As was very much true of Hitler, Obama's words usually make no literal sense on paper, and yet, he personally has this undeniably potent persuasive power. And he especially has this power over people who are not inoculated by genuine religion. In other words, he has a "religious effect" on the secularized mind. Deepak could be speaking of Hitler when he writes of how the Annointed One will bring about a "quantum leap" in human consciousness. How could anyone believe such sacred cow manührer?

Michael Burleigh writes of how Germans marched "boldly into the future in search of an imaginary past." In so doing, they created a gilded mythology in which they were the superior ones the world was waiting for. So don't blame Obama. Blame the sick mythofolkers who fuel the fantasy.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Left Wing Fascism: Different Strokes for Different Volks

Still on the road to recovery. The Boy's pediatrician says it's a virus, something worse than a cold but better than the flu. At least it's giving me the opportunity to finish Max Hastings' chilling Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945.

Not too long after the successful landing of D-Day in June 1944, everyone realized the Allies would eventually win. As such, there was no rational reason for Hitler to continue the war, much less with the frenzied sadism with which he did so. But then, there was no rational reason for him to have started it, either.

The last year of the war was its most bloody, destructive, genocidal, and hellish. The suffering that took place is truly beyond imagination -- and this includes the suffering caused by the Allies, which wouldn't have been at issue if the Nazis had simply relented. And the sadism and barbarity of the Russians might actually exceed that of the Nazis, if that is possible. The Russian savagery that took place in east Prussia is in the same league as the Holocaust.

Anyone who is sanguine about human nature needs to read this book and get a clue; also anyone who doesn't appreciate the rare and beautiful thing we had going in this country until the left got the upper hand. They will not rest until we are just like the decadent Europe we rejected long ago.

Anyway, this gives me a chance to reflect on an old post about a book called Hitler and His God: The Background to the Hitler Phenomenon.


Now, not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we shall soon see that Nazism represents a perfect shadow of what we might call "Christian evolution," or the possibility of further spiritual development within a Christian framework. In virtually all areas, Hitler wished to invert Christianity and literally create a new religion that represented its very opposite. As John Toland wrote, "National Socialism was a religion and Hitler was its Christ."

Van Vrekhem makes a convincing case that there actually wasn't any such thing as "Nazism" in any consistently articulate sense. Much less was Nazi Germany primarily "fascist." Rather, its ultimate principle was not only the fuhrer in general, but Hitler in particular. Truly, just as Christianity is not fundamentally a religion of "ideas" but of a person, so too can it be said that Nazism was a man. Furthermore, as we shall see, he was most definitely a kind of "word made flesh," only in a very different sense than that with which we are familiar.

Nevertheless -- and this is another key point -- the Hitler phenomenon could not have occurred in the absence of our intuition of the cosmic principle that allows word to become flesh. In other words, it was as if Hitler were hijacking a legitimate channel for a very illegitimate end. But when you think about it, this is not fundamentally different than when someone uses language in order to lie. Our cosmos is created in such a way that objects and symbols may embody, encode, and transmit truth. But for that very same reason, they may encode and convey lies. Likewise, if art is to exist, it will be capable of transmitting the celestial beauty from above as well as diabolical ugliness from below.

Van Vrekhem goes into considerable detail about the utter trauma sustained by the German people in the wake of losing World War I. For most Americans, our history has been so comparatively uneventful that we just can't imagine what it would be like for every pillar of stability to be obliterated. I suppose we got a taste of it in the Great Depression, which was precisely why so many nations lurched toward a fascist solution.

There is no doubt that FDR rode to power on a similar messianic wave as Hitler, which is precisely what allowed him to usurp and wield presidential power in a theretofore unprecedented way. Most of what FDR did was demonstrably harmful to the economy, but the need was so deep for a "strong man from above," that the people actually embraced it. Again, there was a kind of perfect resonance between the messiah and the masses. (We will later discuss this in the context of Obamania, as it is a reflection of these same enduring principles.)

Now, to back up a bit, there is no doubt that man has been dealing with an ongoing existential crisis with the onset of modernity. I'm not going to press the point, partly because it's just too obvious, but the rupture between the Middle Ages and the scientific revolution was so great, that we are still dealing with its implications. It is as if there are tectonic plates in human time, more or less continuous planes that occasionally shift, causing an earthquake in history. One such quake was the "axial period," during which most of the world's revelations were downloaded from above.

Then, after the world was largely oriented around these revelations came the massive quake of the free markets, democracy, and the industrial and scientific revolutions. In his book Modern Fascism, Veith discusses the deep alienation that resulted from the dramatic change from an agrarian, religious, hierarchical, and essentially timeless (or cyclical) existence to one that was suddenly ordered around the machine, the clock, democracy, and (small r) reason.

If we say that man appeared approximately 200,000 years ago, his outward circumstances changed little between then and the Agricultural Revolution some 10,000 years ago. Afterwards not a lot changed for the average Joe until the Industrial Revolution, beginning in the 18th century. So in the overall scheme of things, our current lifestyle is truly just a blip -- 300 years out of a total of 200,000. No wonder, therefore, that humans have such a strongly romantic and nostalgic streak.

But some people are more romantic than others, none more so than the late 18th and early 19th century Germans -- perhaps as a reaction to how rapidly they found themselves hurtling into a new and unknown world. While they apparently represented the apex of "civilization" by the onset of World War I, that civilization was superimposed, so to speak, on some very experience-near collective memories of blood, soil, and mythology that were not just bubbling under the surface, but existing side by side with the advances.

Back to that idea in just a moment, but we can get a glimpse of the same phenomenon in our contemporary culture, in which, for example, the most cutting edge science exists side by side with the most primitive new age magic and mythology, a la Deepak and his ilk. Instead of seeing these things as opposed (i.e. scientistic fairy tales and new age mythology), perhaps we should see the new age as a kind of fascist revolt against the anti-humanism of postmodernity.

In any event, as we shall see, the cultural matrix that gave birth to Hitler was a deeply "new age" one, with all sorts of books, movements, and secret societies exploring the occult -- seances, spiritism, chanelling, reincarnation, hidden knowledge, etc. This phenomenon was only ramped up in the wake of the catastrophic loss of World War I. For example, Van Vrekhem discusses how much interest there was in contacting the dead, given how many parents had lost their sons to the war -- some five million dead between the German empire and Austria-Hungary.

Veith writes that "fascism is essentially a response to the alienation that has been a part of the spiritual landscape of the West since the Enlightenment.... Science, technology, and the economic realities and environmental damage of the industrial revolution isolate the individual from nature. There has thus been a genuine yearning for community and for an organic unity with the natural world."

Living a life of cold logic is intrinsically alienating. There is nothing Rational about living a life of pure (again, small r) reason. But nor is there anything rational about abandoning reason altogether and living a purely instinctual life, which is clearly what occurred with Nazi Germany, but also to a lesser extent in the 1960s, not just in America, but all over the developed world.

I remember a particular patient who was maybe a decade older than I, and who was a young adult by the end of the '60s, whereas I was still a young teen. He was a deeply alienated man, and quite hostile to religion. Interestingly, he frequently articulated his alienation in the form of nostalgia for the 1960s, which, you might say he missed out on. He was more a witness than participant in the dionysian frenzy of that decade, which made him feel as if that is what was missing in his life. If he could only go back and relive the '60s, but this time do it right -- completely obliterate his ego and live some sort of communal life with no tension, instant sexual gratification, no boundaries, etc. For him, it was as if there had been this giant, boundary-less party taking place, but he had been on the outside looking in. (The film American Beauty also explores this theme.)

But again, this was just a symbol of my patient's current alienation, which could only be resolved now, not by dreaming and fantasizing about the past. The blogosphere is a pretty sorry place, but some of the sorriest people of all are the ones like my patient, who are now in their 60s and posting on dailykos about how much they miss the 1960s, and how the Obamessiah is going to bring back that sense of community and oneness.

Again, this is anything but progressiveism; it is pure romanticism, which is always backward looking -- and not just backward looking, but backward to an idealized past that never existed to begin with. It is pure projection of present existential pain, and escapism into the past. No one is more conservative than a progressive. It's just that what they want to conserve is childhood and all of its privileges, e.g., irresponsibility, dependency, entitlement, rebellion against the grown-ups, polymorphous perversity, weak boundaries, etc.

Which is perfectly understandable. For someone who lives without any religious telos, the denial of impulses seems stifling and arbitrary, because it "leads nowhere" (since God does not exist), and merely becomes bourgeois respectability or rank hypocrisy.

Thus, as Veith writes, "If objective knowledge is alienating, subjective experience is liberating and healing. Authentic experience comes from unleashing the emotions, cultivating the subjective and irrational dimension of life." So never ask why the left is so hysterical and irrational, because that is the whole point. It is a way of life. You will look in vain for the "rational end" they are seeking, because the emotional irrationalism is its own end. I am quite convinced that leftism is simply a "way of life" -- or, more precisely, a way of managing one's emotional life, of dealing with the pain and conflict of existence. It will be with us so long as cosmic alienation is with us, as an alternative to religion.

In Hitler & His God, Van Vrekhem goes into considerable detail about the "volkisch movement" that was a big part of the appeal of Nazism -- or which Nazism co-opted, to be precise. At the root of this movement was the idea that Christianity was a foreign influence superimposed on a much deeper reservoir of primitive beliefs. Christianity unifies people through a common belief system, but "volk" indicates "a tribal unity of blood, unmodified by ideas of a common humanity. Religious in the intensity of their beliefs, volkists had had no real equivalent in other Western nations."

The concept is especially difficult for normal (non-leftist) Americans to comprehend, being that we are the first nation explicitly created around abstract and universal principles instead of more primitive modes of blood, soil, mythology, etc. But here again, we can see how the modern doctrine of multiculturalism is in reality a quite primitive reversion back to earlier ways of life. Multiculturalism is specifically a rejection of American principles, what with its obsession with blood and race instead of ideas. This is why when you criticize Obama's ideas, they accuse you of being a racist.

For Americans -- and for Christians -- "essence" is in the individual. That is, we are created in the image of God, so that our deepest personal essence partakes of divinity. But for the volkists -- and for the multicultural left -- essence is in the group: "Volk is a much more comprehensive term than 'people,' for to German thinkers ever since the birth of German romanticism in the late eighteenth century, Volk signified the union of a group of people with a transcendental 'essence.' This 'essence' might be called 'nature,' or 'cosmos' or 'mythos,' but in each instance it was fused to man's innermost nature and represented the source of his creativity, his depth of feeling, his individuality and his unity with other members of the Volk. The essential element here is the linking of the human soul with its natural surroundings, with the 'essence' of nature."

Now, why do you suppose "global warming" has become the left's new religion? Here again, you need only scratch the surface of their irrational rhetoric to appreciate a reservoir of primitive, volkisch-like sentiments of "unity" with mother earth, of healing the planet, etc. Never mind that premodern humans were the worst stewards of the planet imaginable, in part because they were so fused with it that they didn't know the environment existed. Ironically, we only know about the environment because in the Judeo-Christian metaphysic, man transcends nature. But again, in the absence of a truly integral religious framework, this transcendence will be experienced as alienation, as if human beings have been exiled from mother earth, and need to come back down and re-merge with her like the prodigal mama's boy.

For (non-left) Americans, the individual stands above the state, and derives his inalienable rights from the Creator. But for the volkist, the group is the supreme identity that stands above or behind the state. Truly, in Nazi Germany, there was only one individual, Hitler; but in turn, he was merely the "embodiment" of the volk, which is rooted in blood and soil. Thus, "it was the genius of Adolf Hitler to wed the volkisch flight from reality to political discipline and efficient political organization."

To be continued....

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A Cosmos in Leafing Color

Hey, wait a minute -- this is no cold, this is a flu! I won't say it's "the" flu, since I always get a flu shot. But it's certainly a flu, what with the aches, the fever, and the sweats last night. The latter means I've turned a corner on it. But I slept way too late, plus I have to work today. And on top of that, I'm still in the process of debriefing Will on his supersecret mission to locate a shortcut between the interior horizon and the northern territories of Upper Tonga.

So the best I can do is rewordgitate an old post that even I don't remember. It doesn't seem like the sort of thing thing that can be skimmed. Rather, it must be lingered over and pondered in order to even be properly misunderstood. In my opinion.

An allnewtous commenter observes that "the three primary colors of light (not pigment) are red, green and blue. Looking at the wavelengths of these colors, red is the longest (lowest frequency), blue is the shortest (highest frequency) and green is intermediate between the two. Now, as you follow the red wavelength to its extreme it approaches a flat line, that is, the horizontal, and as you follow the blue wavelength to its extreme, it approaches a vertical line. The point of intersection (middle ground) is that of the cross (El Christo). Also note that the red and blue spectrum venture beyond the limits of our visual detection, whereas that which lies in between (the green primary color) represents the visual spectrum.

"It is no accident that the primary colors are trinitarian. Following the principle of metaphysical correspondence (as above, so below), the red (horizontal) corresponds to the Spirit (think immanence and timeline, as in 'he has spoken through the prophets') and the blue (vertical) as the Father who is beyond (think transcendent, depths of the ocean, blue skies, deep space, the Father is greater than I). Both of these persons of the Trinity are 'unseen', whereas the Green (think intersection, cross, middle) is the visible person of the trinity, El Christo."

What are the messages we may derive from this correspondence? That "1) God is present with us, even in the horizontal, 2) The metaphysical has its expression in the physical, 3) To use Bob symbolism: Spirit (bidirectional horizontal arrow) and Father (bidirectional vertical arrow) = intersection = where Christ is to be found, and 4) The arithmetical expression of number three above is 1+1+1= 1."

This reminds me of a riff by Schuon in Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts, in which he goes off a deep end in a curiously precise way about the spiritual meaning of the various colors. Most of it struck me as deeply true, and yet, it also left me wondering, 1) how did this guy come up with this stuff, and 2) what kind of cosmos is it, whereby such things can be even remotely true, since the official scientific view is that color is absolutely meaningless? Remember, in the Newtonian view, color is simply an optical illusion produced by energy vibrations.

But what if the existence of color holds certain keys to our understanding of the whole existentialada? Put it this way -- would it really make no difference if we lived in a world in which there were no color, just light and dark and nothing in between?

Schuon writes that colors are part of the formal order, and yet, are independent qualities that exist separately from tangible form. As applied to the Spirit, he writes that "affective and combative spiritual positions are 'red'; contemplation and quietude are 'blue'; joy is 'yellow'; pure truth, 'white'; the inexpressible, 'black.'"

In themseleves -- i.e., archetypally -- he says that "red has something of intensity, of violence, blue of depth and goodness. Our gaze is able to move, to lose itself in blue, but not in red, which rises before us like a wall of fire. Yellow partakes at once of intensity and depth, but in a 'light' mode; it has a certain 'transcendence' compared to the two 'heavy' colors; it is like an emergence toward whiteness. When mixed with blue it gives to the contemplativity of this color [green] a quality of 'hope,' of saving joy, a liberation from the enveloping quietude of contemplation."

How does this stack up with our commenter's formulation, that green is the intermediate principle where the height of the transcendent is to be found in the depths of the immanent, thus engendering hope?

Schuon goes on to say that "Red excites, awakens, 'exteriorizes'; blue gathers and 'interiorizes'; yellow rejoices and 'delivers.' Red is aggressive and moves outward; the radiance of blue is deep, welcoming, and leads inward; the radiance of yellow is 'liberating' and spreads in all directions. The combination of inward withdrawal (blue) with joy (yellow) is hope (green); hope is opposed to passion (red) because unlike passion it does not live in the present, but in the future; it is opposed to passion in its two aspects of introspection and joy."

And green is indeed an odd color. It is obviously the color of elemental life, i.e., the mystery of photosynthesis, which converts the pure light of the celestial center into green leaves -- just as the Tree of Life is a center of pneumasynthesis for those whose wood beleaf. Schuon says that green possesses an ambiguity because "it combines two colors that are opposed in two different respects," thus giving it "a character of 'surprise' and 'strangeness.'"

No one expects green to appear in a dead cosmos! One could go so far as to say that the sudden emergence of a green planet is about the oddest thing one could imagine after 9.85 billion years of a lifeless cosmos following the big bang. Green is always saying Boo! But in a good way.

As Schuon explains, green "has two dimensions -- whence its mystery -- whereas its opposite color, red, is simple, indivisible, instantaneous. Green is hope, promise, happy expectation, good news; it has an aspect of gaiety, and mischievousness; it possesses neither the violent action of red nor the inscrutable -- and inwardly unlimited -- contemplativity of blue; nor is it the open, simple, and radiant joy of yellow."

Christ's own passion (red) is resolved in hope (evergreen, as in the Christmas tree). I suppose this is why satan is always depicted as red. Red "is the present moment. Green, its opposite, is duration with its two dimensions, past and future, the future being represented by yellow and the past by blue. Seen spatially blue is space and yellow the flashing center, a center that reveals itself and liberates, displaying a new dimension of infinity. It is the sky transpierced by the sun."

So I suppose Christ would be a balance of blue and red, crowned in yellow in a backdrop of green. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Child is Father to the Evolving Man

The only reason to come up with a new post today would be to prove to myself that I could do it even in the teeth of this lousy cold. Which is not a good enough reason. All aboard the Knowa's Arkive!

Let me express myself in an even clearer way. The fruitful person gives birth out of the very same foundation from which the Creator begets the eternal Word or Creative Energy, and it is from this core that one becomes fruitfully pregnant. --Meister Eckhart

In his Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800, Stone writes that by the 16th century, new and unprecedented trends in human psychological evolution were clearly emerging. In particular, there was an increase in individualism, characterized by a growing capacity for introspection, or exploration of the interior world.

Not surprisingly, we see the first real novels appear at this time, which explore the interior life of everyday individual characters, instead of dealing mainly in archetypes, religious fables, heroic epics, and more stock characters. There is also a growth of personal autonomy, marked by awareness of the individual conscience, empathy for others, affectionate marriage, and the uniqueness (and therefore, value) of the individual.

Since these things are completely taken for granted in our own time, it's difficult to try to imagine what life would be like in their absence. Another important point, as Elias has pointed out, is that we cannot think of these changes as having been brought about in any conscious manner. No one invented them, nor were they brought about by the ideas of a few great and influential men. Rather, they just "happened."

Or did they? Is there a hidden "law" at work in the movement of history?

Magnus left a pertinent comment yesteryear, writing that he wonders "whether modern civilization could even have come to exist had not the Nativity Story been burned into our minds year after year, generation after generation, millions of times through the centuries." This reminds me of how Gil Bailie looks at scripture. That is, we have our own ideas of what it's all about, but what if God has his own agenda of which we are not consciously aware? What if he's trying to nudge all of mankind in a particular direction, so to speak, by tinkering with our unconscious template?

In Bailie's case, he sees the central gospel message to be about putting an end to mankind's perpetual scapegoating and sacrificial violence, which was and is endemic in the pre- and non-Christianized world. The sacrificial act fosters a temporary unity achieved through ritual violence, which must be repeated again and again.

However, the unconscious message of the gospel is that when we murder the innocent victim, we murder God. Such an idea was utterly novel in the world of ancient Rome, just as it is today in the Islamic world, where might makes right and the meek inherit dad's rusty Kalashnikov.

Similarly, if Magnus is correct -- and I believe he is -- then another unconscious message of the gospels would be about the manner in which we are to regard children. Again, it is difficult -- and even painful -- for us to put ourselves in the mindset of antiquity, when children were regarded as essentially worthless, and not infrequently used for sacrifice to appease their gods: "Many ancient pagan societies believed that parents possessed an unqualified right to kill their own children for any reason." Indeed, the Roman Law of the Twelve tables "actually required a father to put to death a deformed child" (Hutchinson). Conversely, "Jews were almost alone among ancient peoples in their opposition to infanticide," and Jesus himself "had a singular appreciation for the wondrous spirit of children, which was rare in the ancient world" (ibid.).

Note that radical pro-abortionists affirm without apology that the human fetus has no intrinsic value -- that ending its life is fundamentally no different than removing a decayed tooth. The mother determines its value. But who determines the value of the mother? Don't ask.

However, in a world in-formed by the gospel message, one can no longer believe this about children. Rather, there will be an awareness of the moral offense, which is why the left must promote abortion so radically and so fanatically, for to entertain doubt about the matter is to be convicted by one's conscience.

The point I am attempting to make is that our conscious mind understands things one way, while the unconscious understands them in another way, which may well be at odds with what the conscious mind believes. We do our best to "consciously" interpret the divine message, but is this even possible? Isn't it a little like a two-dimensional circle trying to circumnavelgaze a three-dimensional sphere? A sphere moving through two dimensions can be described as a series of circles of varying sizes. But it will require a leap of imagination for the flatlander to "see" that these apparently separate circles are all partial reflections of the one sphere.

To extend the analogy, what if God, or "God's word," is, say, a ten-dimensional object moving through our four dimensions? We will attempt to detect the contours of this object in a linear way, when in fact, it takes a vast leap of imagination to en-vision the Divine Reality.

Looked at a certain way, O can have no fewer than 6,928,198,253 dimensions, which is to say, a number equivalent to the human population at this moment. Is this an argument for relativism? Not at all. I am arguing that there is an absolute object with at least 6,928,198,253 dimensions, and in whose shadow -- or light -- or both -- we live. Remember, every bit of light we see -- and of which we are made -- is just a part of the sun. We imagine that the sun is a distinct object 93 million miles away, but this is pure fantasy. Not only are we right here in the middle of it, but it is simultaneously entangled in us.

Similarly, our own I AM is plugged directly into the hyperdimensional subject in the manner described by Meister Eckhart, so that "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me." So is it my eye? Or God's eye?

In order for a knower to know an object, there must be a third thing called "light," and the supraformal light is always superior to any formal object it illuminates. For as Schuon wrote, "the formal cannot exhaustively express the informal," nor can metaphysics be reduced to creed without some part of O escaping the formulation.

Man partakes of the divine being, therefore he Is. However, since he is not God, he -- alone among the animals -- may "become." God and man are not one; but nor are they two. I suppose the best way of saying it would be that God and man are three. Two of the parties are obvious, which is to say, the Absolute and the relative, the latter of which must exist in light of the existence of the Absolute. In other words, the relative is a necessary consequence of the Absolute, the latter being infinite and extending into relativity, as the central sun extends to all the millions of eyes with which it sees itself.

The Great Mystery is why this middle term exists, this uncertain mode of being-becoming. For it is in this space that the ongoing creation -- or fertile reproduction -- of the human takes place.

Now, what is a baby? Or, to put it in a slightly different way, what does a baby symbolize -- at least for those of us with a Christianized unconscious -- which is to say, virtually all of us in the Judeo-Christian West (for remember, there was a critical context for the valuing of babies, and that was the Jewish culture of antiquity; Jesus pretty much had to be a Jew).

In a baby, heaven and earth touch, and the circle is yet unbroken. The child, by virtue of his im-maturity, is "an incomplete state which points toward its own completion" (Schuon). The child represents what was and is "before," that is, "what is simple, pure, innocent, primordial, and close to the Essence, and this is what its beauty expresses; this beauty has all the charm of promise, of hope and of blossoming, at the same time that of a Paradise not yet lost; it combines the proximity of the Origin with the tension towards the Goal" (ibid.).

Thus, "The man who is fully mature always keeps, in equilibrium with wisdom, the qualities of simplicity and freshness, of gratitude and trust, that he possessed in the springtime of his life" (Schuon).