Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Placing a Call to the Nonlocal ʘperators Above Our Praygrade

In the next scene, Dante finds that he is suddenly the most popular fellow in purgatory. He compares himself to a dice player who has just walked off with his winnings. The crowed presses upon him like pigeons around a geezer tossing bread crumbs from a park bench:

He does not halt but listens to them all; / and when he gives them something, they desist; / and so he can fend off the pressing throng.

What is it they're after? I turned my face to them / and, making promises, escaped their clutch.

In a full-employment vertical cosmos, there is not just a binary division of Creator and created. Rather, the whole point is that it is a complete hierarchy, with degrees of being from top to bottom -- for example, saints and angels above, television executives and community organizers below.

It seems to me that modern Christianity abolishes this hierarchy, which unwittingly abandons the field to scientism, or a materialist metaphysic. In other words, if there is only God above and the world below, pretty soon the former becomes superfluous.

Let us not accuse modern man of having killed God. That crime is not within his reach. But of having killed the gods. God survives untouched, but the universe withers and decays because the subordinate gods have passed away (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

And When their religious depth disappears, things are reduced to a surface without density where nothingness shows through (DC).

This is why in any form of old-school (small o) orthodox Christianity, it is both possible and efficacious to call upon various nonlocal operators to throw us a vertical bone, anyone from the Theotokos to the previous Pope. This is not polytheism, any more than it is "polybiology" to rank species between mammals, reptiles, insects, and Al Sharpton. To the contrary, the hierarchy is a necessary consequence of there being a Creator. Life is one, but vive la différence!

To put it another way, science would have no difficulty whatsoever describing a non-hierarchical cosmos. As it stands, it must maintain the absurdity that the hierarchy is an illusion or accident, not essential -- even while relying on the existence of the hierarchy in order to both recognize and appeal to Truth.

It reminds me of what Joyce said when asked if he was influenced by the ideas of Giambattista Vico: "I wouldn't pay over much attention to these theories, beyond using them for all they're worth."

The people in purgatory pray for others' prayers for them, in the hope that prayer can bend the rule of Heaven. Can it? Will, then, their hopes be utterly in vain? / Or were your words misunderstood by me?

Yes and no. There was a time when these hopes were in vain -- when prayers could not mend their fault in the absence of a passageway to God. But there is a light between your mind and truth, and we must wait for it to speak to us.

For Dante, Beatrice is this light. She is at the summit of the very mountain we are climbing, "smiling joyously." Upon hearing this, he is immediately reinvigorated, and tells Virgil, let us move ahead more quickly, for now I am less weary than before.

In a sense, the whole of Christianity is based upon this idea, in that Christ is given to us as a way to approach and think about the otherwise unthinkable God. However, it is careful not to imply that Christ is part of any hierarchy, hence, the Trinity. The Trinity is explicitly not a vertical emanation, a la Plotinus.

However, is it possible to say that there is a "Vertical Trinity" -- which is primary -- and a "Horizontal" trinity representing its shadow in the herebelow? This makes sense to me; perhaps we might call them the transcendent and immanent Trinities. This is how Schuon envisions it:

"The 'Father' is God as such, that is as metacosm; the 'Son' is God insofar as He manifests Himself in the world, hence in the macrocosm; and the 'Holy Spirit' is God insofar as He manifests Himself in the soul, hence in the microcosm."

This is useful, because it does not posit "three gods," but three modes of the one God. There is the inconceivable God-beyond being, the ain sof of Kabbala. There is the "conception" of God, the Word -- a word which can be recognized, read, and comprehended. And then there is the "Holy Spirit," which is the comprehension itself. Only Truth can recognize Truth.

Elsewhere Schuon writes that "The Trinity can be envisaged according to a 'vertical' perspective or according to either of two 'horizontal' perspectives, one of them being supreme and the other not. The vertical perspective -- Beyond-Being, Being, Existence -- envisages the hypostases as 'descending' from Unity or from the Absolute -- or from the Essence it could be said -- which means that it envisages the degrees of Reality."

Again, the very idea of God implies hierarchy; but also, the very recognition of hierarchy leads inevitably to God. Unless one just arbitrarily stops halfway up the mountain, as do the tenebrous, the tendentious, and the tenured -- or the dark, the twisted, and the opaque.

Back in purgatory, Virgil notes that the sun is setting -- as it must, even though its light is only "hidden," not absent -- but that a distant soul will show us where to climb most speedily.

We then see a very dignified, noble, and silent soul -- perhaps Schuon himself -- who watches us pass as a lion watches when it is at rest.

No, it's not Schuon, but someone named Sordello. Sordello, who has great affection for Italy, goes into an extended rant about its present condition. He even questions God, asking

You who on earth were crucified / for us -- have You turned elsewhere Your just eyes? / Or are You, in Your Judgment's depth, devising / a good that we cannot foresee, / completely dissevered from our way of understanding?

I don't think so. This would imply a complete misunderstanding of the cosmic situation, and a misuse of the idea of hierarchy -- as if God is to blame for this not being paradise. You can't blame God for something he never promised, and which is impossible anyway.

Running out of time here, but Pope Benedict writes that "The present 'world' has to disappear; it must be changed into God's world. That is precisely what Jesus' mission is, into which the disciples are taken up: leading 'the world' away from the condition of man's alienation from God and from himself, so that it can become God's world once more and so that man can become fully himself again by becoming one with God."

Bottom line: this is an analogue, continuous cosmos, not a digital and discontinuous one.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Incorruptible Adolescent Rebellion: O, Why Must I be a Teenager in Love?

I guess we're still technically in the foothills, making our way toward the seven terraces of Mount Purgatory.

We'll be spending a few more cantos here in ante-purgatory, which houses two main types whose metanoia was either too little or too late. These folks did eventually see the Light and vowed to change their ways, but with no time to put the plan into action; therefore, the purification must take place postmortem.

[W]e all sinned until until our final hour; / then light from Heaven granted understanding, / so that, repenting and forgiving, we / came forth from life at peace with God, and he / instilled in us the longing to see him.

But it's a painful longing. In fact, a couple of spooks are surprised to see us here, because 1) we can move -- specifically, up -- and 2) we cast a shadow from the Light that strikes us. But Virgil cautions us to pay no attention to these local gossips and to move on.

Just like life. Don't look back after placing your hand to the plow, and let the dead bury the tenured.

If someone is impressed with your vertical slackrobatics, don't let it go to your head, because there is no reason to be puffed up by the recognition of an inferior. Are you proud that your dog loves you? We treat an inferior with healthy respect and genuine affection. We do not look up to them. Rather, we are humbled by them.

What meaning have these whisperings for you? / Come, follow me, and let these people talk. / Stand firmly as a tower whose pinnacle / Sways not for all the blowing of the wind.

This is indeed a key point, discussed on pp. 220 and 236 of the bʘʘk. It falls under the heading of "faith," i.e., silence (---) and openness (o), which are achieved for the purpose of ascending; we must liberate ourselves from the "alien influences" of the world, and "break free of the chains, the limitations, and the restrictions imposed by environment and education" (Steinsaltz). We must always remember that what we get into gets into us. What do we get out of religion? A better question is what religion gets out of us.

Another way of putting it is that An intelligent man is one who maintains his intelligence at a temperature independent of his environment’s temperature (Don Colacho's Aphorisms). Since so much of what passes for intelligent discussion is just the steam that emanates from a fresh pile of manure, we should unplug from the crazocracy and seek our heat and light elsewhere.

Thus, there is always a two-front battle going on, one below and one above. The southern one has to do with administering the conquered territory, while the northerly has to do with pushing on toward our highest aspiration, colonizing more space along the way.

There is the kingdom of man, and the Kingdom of God. One way or another, we are trying to colonize the former in the name of the latter. We do not -- as do the tenured -- nocuriously attempt to assimilate the roaring torrent of O into a little crock of (k), but rather, sanctify all (k) in the absolute mystery of O.

Know that the Intellect has less to do with demystification than remystification: Everything that makes man feel that mystery envelops him makes him more intelligent (DC).

Absurd? Quite right! For Man calls “absurd” what escapes his secret pretensions to omnipotence (DC). "Absurdity" is the accusation a little godling makes of the bigOne he doesn't understand -- or only understands.

In the previous post we discussed how the ascent is more difficult at the outset, when we are closer to the world's center of gravity. One reason I never recommend the blog to others is that you had better be pretty sure that you're sick of the world before you begin -- otherwise, you might find yourself in a no-man's land of no-world and no-God as well, or a puerpoutual state of cynical nihilism.

Don Colacho has many profound aphorisms along these lines. I think my favorite is I have seen philosophy gradually fade away between my skepticism and my faith.

Quite contrary to what is believed by indentured atheists, Christianity is not an escape into fantasy, but an inscape from it. It is not religion as previously understood, but the cure for religion. It is no beliefs with the exception of what we are taught by the Holy Spirit.

With the help of our deosynchronous satellight we are cured of a thousand stupidities and turned away from countless nul de slacks: There is no stupid idea which modern man is not capable of believing, as long as he avoids believing in Christ (DC).

But until we have cleared a space for the Great Teaching to occur, we live in a space of pronounced -- and healthy -- skepticism which easily dismantles any worldly philosophy. Indeed, The believer knows how to doubt; the unbeliever does not know how to believe (DC).

Adolescent? Absolutely! For A fulfilled life is one which delivers to the grave, after long years, an adolescent whom life did not corrupt (DC). O, why must I be a teenager in love?! That's why. Because I AM said so. The world doesn't need another adolescent rabelaisian.

My six-year old is already able to stop me in my tracks with various ontological questions -- questions that are vastly superior to any worldly answer I can furnish. I could provide scientific answers, but these merely stop the question. They don't actually answer it, except for the pseudomature adolt who arbitrarily stops asking "why?"

So be about your Father's business, which spirals around Aspiration (↑) Rejection (---) Surrender (o) and waiting for (↓) to bear you updown here.

I know what you mean -- I was once much older too. I'm younger than that now.

Friday, April 01, 2011

What Makes a Life Worth Leaving?

As our explorers begin their ascent, the mountain is quite steep, far more steep than the line drawn from middle-quadrant to the center point. I'm not sure what that means, but it doesn't matter anyway, for it's just a metaphor of the vertical journey -- which is much more difficult at the outset than it is later on. Says Virgil,

This mountain is of such sort / that climbing it is hardest at the start; / But as we rise, the slope grows less unkind.

This reminds us of how potentials become inclinations, inclinations become habits, and habits become virtues or vices. In a way, we have more free will at the outset than we do at the end, when the inclination has become almost "hardwired" from repetition. This runs counter to the scientistic belief that we are genetically frontloaded to become who we are. But to the extent that we are, this mostly involves potential, not invariant behavior.

For example, we are born desiring. This does not mean we are hardwired to steal, despite those studies "proving" that liberalism is innate.

Virtue is rooted in free will, for we become virtuous by choosing between good and evil. No act in itself is virtuous, but becomes so with reference to its end. Nor is mere knowledge of good and evil sufficient, for the knowledge must be put into action. Virtue must be embodied, or it won't be of much use to anyone.

In Dante's case, his whole journey is predicated on his pursuit of the highest good, which, one might say, is located at the furthest extreme of the vertical cosmos. As a result, it exercises the least "gravitational attraction" when we are most distant from it. Virgil confirms this, letting Dante know that

When the time comes when it appears / To you that the ascent becomes as easy / As going down the current in a skiff, / Then you will have reached your journey's end, / And there you may expect to rest from toil.

In other worlds, one reaches a point of transition into the orbit of the Great Attractor, for it is written on P. 257:

O Death, you old mahahasamadi, show us your secret mannascrypt, your Divine Cosmodeity. Take us before & beyond this womentary maninfestation, reveal not the horizontal but our inmost upmost vertical bigending. Floating upstream along the ancient celestial trail, out from under the toilsome tablets of time, cast your I on the meager image below. So long. So short! Whoosh! there went your life.

Yes, yes, I know -- why the annoying and self-indulgent mystagoguery, Bob? Do you really expect anyone to know what you're talking about? Or is this just an elaborate way to conceal the fact that you don't?

O Death. Death is the Guru without whom we would never dream of embarking on the vertical journey. For why would we?

The problem for human beings is not having a life worth living. Rather, it is having a life worth leaving. Life values itself, as we see in the world of biology. Biology assures us that life is worth living, but not for any reason outside itself. Self-preservation is the Law of nature.

But human beings have been fugitives from this Law ever since they became human. For to say "human" is to say "vertical." We became human when we entered the vertical; or, when the vertical descended into man. Either way, it is the vertical that not only makes a life worth leaving, but makes it possible to do so. In coonspeak, this is called the big teloscape.

Again, the whole of the Divine Comedy is predicated on this reality. At midlife (back in the first canto), Dante realized that he wasn't actually living his life, but that it was living him. Thus, rather than being guided by Death, he was, for practical purposes, dead (or guided only by biology):

For the right path, whence I had strayed, was lost. He had succumbed to earthly gravity, or "temptation." Thus, So weary was my my mind, so filled with sleep [and sleep is the gentle brother of Death], I reeled, and wandered from the path of truth.

And it all went by so fast. Dante alludes to this at the beginning of canto IV, noting that When any of our faculties retains / a strong impression of delight or pain, / the soul will wholly concentrate on that, / neglecting any other power it has.

This is again an animal capability, one that "secures the soul in stringent grip," to such an extent that time moves and yet we do not notice it.

So short! Whoosh! there went your life.

Here again, the Divine Comedy is predicated on a reversal of this tendency, which has become deeply ingrained by midlife. As Dante writes, unlike animals, the human soul has the power to perceive the course of time; but this is distinct from the power that captures all the mind. The former has "no force," while the latter "binds."

Thus, it will require a conscious decision and an act of will to exert the force necessary to "turn around" and break the chains that bind us to the lower world of the immediate, of the passing stream of pleasure and pain.

Dante does this by keeping the end in mind; one might say that only by faith may we know that the end even exists, for one cannot know what one has not yet experienced. So lofty was the summit, that it soared / Beyond my sight.

Virgil tells him not to despair, but to keep climbing Until we meet some guide who knows the way. In other words, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Nonlocal ʘperators are always standing by, ready to assist you. For they literally have nothing better to do.

And whatever you do, Do not take a backward step, for we have heard from the wise that it is not a good idea to put one's hand to the plow and look back. Inward and upward!

B-but the mountain soars / Much higher then my mortal eyes can reach.

Don't worry about that. So long as you see that the mountain exists, that's the important part. For every mountain has a summit, does it not? You don't need to see the dark side of the moonbat to know that it exists, do you?

Next we come to an important way station -- or station of the way -- where the slothful depart from the slackful. Nondoing is hardly the same as doing nothing! Nevertheless, at least doing nothing is preferable to doing something harmful, a lesson Democrats will never learn. Thus, these souls are in a low level of purgatory rather than hell. In other words, they are independents, not liberals.

Dante converses with one of the idlers, who says that he repented too late -- i.e., that he put off the journey till the last, so he is not enjoying the true rest, the slack sabbath. It's just the false slack of the comfortable and self-satisfied. Nothing to see here. Let's move along.

You pseudoslackers need to move out of Mom's basement and gita life!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Adamology of Sin

O pure and noble conscience, you in whom / each petty fault becomes a harsh rebuke!

You know you're in purgatory when you feel the presence of the conscience, which is the interior grumpass that always reveals true north.

The conscience -- which is nonlocal and universal -- must be distinguished from the culture-bound superego, which Freud mistakenly conflated with it.

The latter is mere adaptation to a particular world, whereas genuine morality struggles to make the world reflect its standards, which are both timeless and universal. One of the characteristics of hell is that the people there have a superego that sanctions evil. Is there any doubt that the idealistic Hitler thought he was performing a service to mankind?

For just as truth cannot be relative and still call itself truth, nor can virtue be a matter of mere cultural conformity. As Burke said, custom reconciles us to everything, no matter how immoral -- human sacrifice, genital mutilation, the designated hitter.

One might say that conscience is vertical, while secular law should be a horizontal prolongation of this. Laws that intrinsically violate the conscience are not laws at all; to the contrary, the good man is obliged to underlook such laws.

Schuon writes that it is incumbent upon us to recognize this distinction "between what is good according to the law and what is good according to virtue," for "a base man can obey the law, be it only through simple constraint, while a noble man may be obliged, exceptionally, to transgress a law out of virtue." But The fool, seeing that customs change, says that morality varies (Don Colacho).

Pope Benedict discusses this in terms of apodictic vs. casuistic law; the former involves "metanorms" such as the Ten Commandments, which come straight from God, whereas the latter are more conditional instantiations of the Law, analogous to the distinction between principles and rules.

So long as we fall short of perfection, the conscience is there to remind us of it. To put it another way, Perfection is the point where what we can do and what we want to do coincide with what we ought to do; or, Ethics culminates where the rule appears to be an expression of the person (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

One might say that "manners" or "politeness" or "ethics" must pass from mere outward action to interior being; or that being must increasingly infuse action. I don't want my son to merely do good but to be good -- which is to say, happy.

Until that point, it is as if we are inhabited by an Other who does not rest until it is either assimilated -- i.e., it becomes one with our own substance -- or we kill it.

But one cannot actually kill the conscience. In this regard, it's a little like the Terminator, who can be smashed into bits, but the bits have a tendency to want to come back together. Therefore, you have to keep shooting and shooting, just to keep him dead. Or, you have to run as fast as you can just to stay in the same place. The hellhound is always on your trail.

As Bion describes the process, "In so far as the destruction is successful, the patient experiences a failure in his capacity for perception.... [The] sense of imprisonment is intensified by the menacing presence of the expelled fragments within whose planetary movements he is contained."

Note that one of the most dreadful characteristics of the left is to externalize the conscience in the form of their endless proliferation of law. A fool or knave imagines that if he obeys "the law," this makes him a good citizen. But We can never count on a man who does not look upon himself with the look of an entomologist (Don Colacho).

I would say Adamologist. For if one doesn't get the gist of Adam, one's moral philosophy will be a jest.

In reality, the externalization of conscience leads to a situation in which the soul is bereft of interior guidance. It is reminiscent of the income tax system that is designed to compel us to be "charitable," but in practical terms forces us to find any way possible to avoid being charitable, through loopholes, tax shelters, deductions, and what not.

Note that the free market has a way of converting man's faults into virtues. Conversely, leftism has a way of turning our virtues into faults.

The "invisible hand" of the left -- the left hand -- externalizes energy from the conscience that should properly be directed at the self. This not only gives the self a free pass, but can even result in a kind of secular sainthood, a la Al Gore or Jimmy Carter -- both of whom are bad men (the former because he is a liar, the latter because he is a hater) who are magically "cleansed" of their faults by systematically blaming others.

More generally, you can be fairly certain that anyone who accuses the wealthy of "greed" has never exhumined his own buried motivations, and for this reason has a warped view of mankind.

For to suggest that a man is "greedy" should be a banality of the first rank. The question is, what are you going to do about your greed? Make it go away by confiscating from those who have more than you? Envy, like evil, cannot be appeased. Rather, appeasing it fuels it.

The above considerations explain how and why there is no one more aware of his faults and failings than the saint, for his conscience is the most developed. Charity begins at home, by modestly ridding the world of a single assoul. "The first act of charity is to rid the soul of illusions and passions and thus rid the world of a maleficent being; it is to make a void so that God may fill it and, by this fullness, give Himself. A saint is a void open for the passage of God" (Schuon).

Also, to give materially with no spiritual strings attached is not an act of charity. As Pope Benedict explains, "When God is regarded as a secondary matter that can be set aside temporarily or permanently on account of more important things, it is precisely those supposedly more important things that come to nothing."

The nightmare of Marxism of course proves this, but so too does the lootmore of the left, which adds insult to injury by making its beneficiaries worse people, or maleficiaries. In this pathological dance, the left wing politician gets to indulge in pride, while the recipient gets to feel entitled to his envy. It's a win-win for the Crafty One!

Damn conscience! Must you follow me everywhere!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Celescalating the Skyrescape Ladder

Chaos prevails here. Little time to post....

The sun had now progressed to that horizon / Whose great meridian, at its highest point, / Extends its arch above Jersusalem.

Again, Hell is a series of concentric circles, and purgatory is a triangle above that. And now we learn -- to our relief -- that there is a vertical axis that descends from the apex of the triangle down to earth, the hereitblows.

Note that this line could never ascend to the top without having first descended to the bottom. This is indeed a key principle, one that, upon understanding it, immediately clears away a multitude of superstitions of the tenured.

For it is impossible to think or even say anything meaningful in the absence of a Top. Father Involution is prior to Mother Evolution. Furthermore, if Christ descends into Hell, it is only because it is possible to do so -- possible for fullness to become emptiness, as it were.

We must imagine the top as the plenum of all that is good; on its descent, as it ventures further and further from the Principle, it becomes increasingly materialized and then dematerialized to the point of the "void" at the center of Hell (which is only a "false center," an inverted image of the fulsomeness of Heaven).

Says Don Colacho, Hell is a place that can only be identified from paradise, since Nothing cannot perceive Something.

Here one can understand how the worst demons are always "idealists." They always have beautiful theories and ideals, which, when put into practice, result in the propagation of more evil.

The superior man always prefers the real to the ideal, which is another way of saying descent, which is another way of saying Incarnation.

In attempting to create his Heaven on earth, the idealist must first -- without even knowing it -- eliminate the cosmic hierarchy that creates the very possibility of good.

Note that on his own, man cannot ascend, but can always descend. In the words of Don Colacho, Every straight line leads directly to a hell. The ascending ones are always a bit crookward.

Again, man cannot possibly ascend unless there is something real to ascend to. Otherwise, one is simply being forced to ascend to the manmade ideal of the leftist, usually concealed in some attractive veneer such as "universal healthcare."

The left appeals to your ideals in order to eliminate them -- in other words, to paraphrase someone, they dream of systems so perfect that no one needs to be good. The system will produce good the way a machine produces paperclips, thus eliminating man, that troublesome priest and pontificating bridgebuilder!

Our sojourners next encounter an angel, which is none other than a vertical emissary. The earliest description of this is in Genesis 28, in which Jacob has a vision of the vertical structure of the cosmos:

"[A]nd behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it."

Importantly, Jacob understands this to mean that "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it."

In noneother worlds than this, there is no radical disjunction between God and man, the principle and the manifestation, but a hierarchical nexus. God is the cause and the world is the effect, but there is always something of the cause in the effect. Therefore, Jacob exclaims,

"How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!"

Our existence is the gate of Heaven. Which is why, The gate of reality is horizontal (Don Colacho). For the earth is the womb in which the seeds of God grow to maturity.

Hey, that's just what I was thinking! A waalworth of skyerscape of most eyeful hoyth entowerly, erigenating from next to nothing and celescalating the himals and all, hierarchitectitiptitoploftical, with a burning bush abob off its baubletop and with larrons o'toolers clittering up and tombles a'buckets clottering down. --Finnegans Wake

The fire escape goes both ways:

She stands all alone
You can hear her hum softly
From her fire escape in the sky
She fills the bags 'neath her eyes
With the moonbeams
And cries 'cause the world's passed her by

Didn't time sound sweet yesterday?
In a world filled with friends
You lose your way

She's a haunted house
And her windows are broken
And the sad young man's gone away
Her bathrobe's torn
And tears smudge her lipstick
And the neighbors just whisper all day

Didn't time sound sweet yesterday?
In a world filled with friends
You lose your way

Monday, March 28, 2011

Doing Time in the Purgatoreum

Well. I guess there's no place to go but up, is there? Might as well spend a little while in purgatory, this time without guidance. Unless you consider me to be the guide, which I would not advise. We are approaching this endeavor in a state of more or less total ignorance, or (o), from which only a warm blast of (↓) can rescue us.

This will be a cross-generational dialogue -- like two dozen generations, give or take. And as is my usual custom in conversation, I will politely use my interlocutor as a springboard to pretty much say what I wanted to anyway.

But in my defense, A genuine vocation leads the writer to write only for himself: first out of pride, then out of humility (Don Colacho).

Nor are we approaching this in anything resembling an "academic" manner. To the contrary: A book does not educate someone who reads it to become educated (ibid.). Which explains a lot about the tenured.

And one of my favorite aphorisms of Don Colacho is that A work of art has, properly speaking, not meaning but power. That being the case, there is no need to fall back upon accepted interpretations, but to simply respond to the power that is being conveyed and felt.

SO, I have no idea how or where this will go. It will be a verticalisthenic exercise in unadulterated free association, which means that we must allow Bob's Unconscious to show us the way.

Now, the first thing that occurs to us is that Dante is a psychotherapist of sorts; or a pneumatherapist, to be more precise. To suggest that Freud "discovered" the unconscious with his 1899 publication of The Interpretation of Dreams is pure hubris.

Rather, what he did was give it a 19th century scientistic spin; basically, he snuck into the literature department, stole the concept, and proceeded to medicalize it. And then charge good money to get it back.

And before literature, it was the province of theology. Thus, we can even see a sort of fight over ownership of Dante's corpus. But for an undivided person who doesn't see any radical distinctions between art, science, and religion, we don't really care about these inter-departmental squabbles. Thankfully, nor does God.

It also occurs to us is that James Joyce no doubt saw himself as a modern day Dante. Finnegans Wake (FW) too is a descent into the underworld, only instead of writing about it as an observer, he forces you to be a participant. One of the fundamental polarities that structures FW is the eternal sibling rivalry between the man of thought and the man of action; the former is an extension of Mother, the latter of Father.

The Muse "is invoked by the poet: the poet does not invent his verses but discovers their materials in those deep layers of the psyche where lurk the infantile, buried reminiscences of the mother." Thus, the poet is Mom's favorite (Campbell & Robinson).

However, the genuine mama's boy, so long as he is true to his Muse, will never get to the bottom of himself. This is because the language of "her dreamlike enigmatic inspiration is not wholly clear to the waking eye, though deeply familiar to the soul" (ibid.). Here again: power, not meaning. Except that the power is the echo, aftershock, or recoil of a deeper Meaning that no one could have invented.

There can be no radical discontinuity between Inferno and Purgatory. As Will reminds us, the former must simply be a more extreme version of the latter.

It looks to me like Inferno is reserved for souls who either oppose God or who are completely passive as to their spiritual destiny, whereas Purgatory is for anyone who is actually using this life to better themselves. In fact, Pope Benedict reminds us that "anyone who honestly and passionately searches for truth is on the way to Christ."

In a very loose analogy, it's somewhat akin to the difference between a neurosis and a personality disorder (and I notice that ShrinkWrapped is doing a series of illuminating posts on the subject).

Basically, the neurotic is aware of his problems, and is conflicted and in pain about them. In contrast, the person with a personality disorder inevitably acts them out and inducts others into their psychodrama. In the latter case, they substitute action for thought. You might say that they are "embodied pathology," an ironic twist on the idea of Incarnation. They are the naughty word made flesh.

In Canto 1 of the Purgatory, Dante says that we have left behind / The cruel waters of the ocean deep. Whereas Inferno is structured in a series of concentric circles, you may imagine purgatory as a mountain -- or triangle -- sitting atop of the circle. At the apex of the triangle is Paradise.

This mountain is the second kingdom, / Wherein the human soul is cleansed of sin / And rendered worthy to ascend to heaven. In other words, it is here. It is not only this life, but the very purpose of this life.

And straightaway, Dante calls out to mama mia -- the muses -- for assistance: O sacred muses, since I am wholly yours / May this poem rise again from Hell's dead realm. (BTW, I'm going to liberally mix translations as kneaded in order to amplify my meaning.)

Dante contrasts the murky world of the unconscious with the bright world of the conscious mind: The aspect of the sky shone forth serene / From zenith to the rim of the horizon, / So that my eyes were filled again with joy / As soon as I had left that deadly air.

We can only write about what we know, and here again I see a kind of analogy with psychotherapy. After spending an hour disgorging the content of their unconscious, patients routinely feel "lighter" and less burdened after a session. It really is the movement from one world to another and then back again.

Dante next encounters a bearded fellow who alludes to what we stated above about the passivity or opposition of the souls below this plane: Who are you, that counter to the stream / Have fled from the eternal prison house?

This is an important point, for as we have discussed many times, man is situated between two attractors, one above and one below. In either direction, the further one proceeds on the basis of will, the more the will comes to be under the influence of the attractor at either pole.

So this bearded fellow wants to know how these two wanderers beat the cosmic system, and wonders if a "newer law" prevails, one he doesn't know about. For until now, it was more or less a one-way street, or nul de slack, in that direction; one could go in, but not out.

This is an obvious anticipation of Christ, who descended into Hell in order to liberate the souls there. Indeed, Pope Benedict writes that Jesus' baptism "envelops him from every side," and is "thus an anticipation of his act of descending into the underworld."

And "he does not descend merely in the role of spectator, as in Dante's Inferno," but "goes down in the role of one whose suffering-with-others is a transforming suffering that turns the underworld around, knocking down and flinging open the gates of the abyss" (ibid).

Dante is too fermisht to speak, so Virgil explains that I came not of myself; / From heaven came down a lady, by whose prayers / I helped this man and keep him company.

Virgil points out that Dante is not dead, and that he has yet to see his final hour. He came close, but turned his life around just in time. He has seen the wicked people, and Virgil now wants to show him the souls Who purge themselves of sin in your care.

Purgatory is a place of tests and trials. Note that Jesus' first activity upon his baptism is to confront a kind of purgatory, where he is tempted with all of the usual human rewards and compensations for losing God: "It is a descent into the perils besetting mankind, for there is no other way to lift up fallen humanity. Jesus has to enter the drama of human existence, for that belongs to the core of his mission; he has to penetrate it completely, down to its uttermost depths..." (ibid.)

So now, "God's will can conquer the downward pull of our selfishness and make us capable of the lofty height to which we are called," i.e., (↑).

Excuse me? You came from Hell?

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Cosmos: Now Open For Isness

This post concludes our guided tour of Dante's Inferno, which began way back on January 24, 33 cantos and 45 postas ago. I don't know whether I'll continue the journey upward into purgatory and paradise.

This wing of Hell is the maximum security Judas Memorial Detention Center, from which they say no one has ever escaped, for here one is deprived of both Life and Death -- although some prominent theologians believe otherwise, including Balthasar.

In underworlds, Balthasar believed it possible for even the worst deicidal maniac to pay his debt to the cosmos. Schuon too maintained that the idea of eternal damnation was contradictory, since only God can be eternal. To say that Hell is eternal is to imply that evil is coterminous with God.

Origen also maintained a belief in the restoration of all souls, i.e., apokatastasis: "For him, all souls, including the devil himself, will eventually achieve salvation, even if it takes innumerable ages to do so."

This is based on a deeper principle -- or at least divine hunch -- that God would not put himself through the hassle of creating this maninfestation of assouls "capable of dissolving into the oblivion of evil (non-being) for all eternity." Consequently, Origen "reasoned that a single lifetime is not enough for a soul to achieve salvation, for certain souls require more education or ‘healing’ than others."

True dat. Hence, the school of purgatory. In any event, it's a long time, and if you can't do the time, then don't do the crime.

Judas is the archtraitor, the archetype of traitors against benefactors (Upton). Such individuals not only do evil, but return "evil for good. They actually punished others for doing good to them -- and this kills life completely."

In life, such individuals are on the extreme paranoid end of the developmental spectrum. When dealing with a paranoid person, you cannot just be "nice" and expect it to change them or put them at ease, for niceness only makes them more suspicious.

You might say that they preemptively kill any love before it can enter. The paranoid mind is so consumed by the process of projecting the bad outward, that it contaminates everything else. They are kept "pure" within, but at the cost of being surrounded by persecutory objects.

And because they cannot emotionally "feed" on anything outside themselves, they starve to death inside. They end up eating only their own self-produced delusions (i.e., crap), in a tighter and tighter circle. It is a death spiral into Ø.

Once again Dante employs digestive similes, for Satan's munching of the traitors "is a parody of the sacrament of the Eucharist." The Eucharist in-corporates Jesus into the faithful, and vice versa. But Satan chews "endlessly without swallowing," which is reminiscent of the hungry ghosts of Buddhism, who have huge bellies and pinholes for mouths.

Imagine chewing endlessly without swallowing. Here again, there are patients who do this. Some are variants of the paranoid style, called obsessional (this is different from OCD, which is a more or less neurochemical problem; here we are referring to personality style). When you offer an interpretation, they will "chew on it" in a way that mimics thought, but is really for the purpose of rejecting. They are subtly "oppositional," and always find a way to spit out what you give them. Here again, they starve within.

Such individuals also cannot see the forest for the trees, because they are always chewing but never digesting. There is a helpful chapter devoted to this subject in Shapiro's Neurotic Styles. He calls such people "living machines," for they are marked by their rigidity and absence of pneumacognitive fluidity. Interestingly, they may appear "attentive," but theirs is actually an indiscriminate "active inattention," being that it systematically misses the big picture. In some degree or another, they lose contact with reality, since reality is not an empirical fact but a synthetic experience.

Now, the dead can be resurrected, but not the unDead. The purpose of most any spiritual practice is to "die before we die," so as to be reborn. But the people here cannot "give their lives," since they have no life to give. It has already been starved to death by their own self-enclosed psychic processes.

Upton writes that "the source of all sorrow is the lack of gratitude, and the most fundamental form of ingratitude is not to be thankful for the gift of one's own existence. Ingratitude is based on the delusion that we are self-created; and this is the deepest delusion of all" (emphasis mine).

This relates to what I said about the paranoid/obsessive style, in that the fundamental problem for such individuals is again the inability to in-corporate and assimilate reality. To assimilate means to become seamlessly one with what one has assimilated. In this way mere knowledge is transformed to being.

As I mentioned in the book, human beings are psychically open systems, both on the horizontal and vertical planes. Both horizontally and vertically we are intersubjective, which is why the purpose of religion -- at least Christianity -- is to have a living relationship with the Creator. This relationship takes place in the "space" between O and (¶). If that space is collapsed, then there is no possibility of gratitude -- or of spiritual growth, for that matter.

Upton contrasts the satanic principle -- which is entirely closed -- to Mary, the Theotokos who nurtures the "growing God" in her womb: "As opposed to the rebellious passivity of Satan, the Virgin is the active receptivity of Pure Being, which draws toward it the Grace of God."

In our bʘʘk of the same namelessness we symbolize this as (o), one aspect of which is the teloscapic (H)openness that brings with it the possibility of Love -- which must again be incorporated and assimilated in order to become truly efficacious.

In our end is our bigending. Upon touching bottom, our virtual adventurers turnaround and begin their journey back upstream along the ancient celestial trail. Night turns to morning, "And upon setting foot in what Dante calls the 'bright world,' they once more see the stars; their intellects can now, at least in potential, have access to the higher worlds."

(A circular round of applause for Jennifer Doane Upton for winging us back home sophly).

A luminous fissure appeared in this heretofore dark, impenetrable circle, the unimaginable opening of a window on the world. --p. 58

Thursday, March 24, 2011

To My Detractors: Eat Me!

This culture war has been going on for much longer than people realize. Along these lines, the Divine Comedy actually contains much political "news of the day." However, it would have no relevance to us if it didn't concern themes that are both timeless and universal.

Hey, why don't we shut up and read a little history this morning, okay? Might even learn something.

In Dante's time, Italy was caught between two factions: "While the conflict was local and personal in origin, the parties had come to be associated with the two universal powers," one of which "sided with the Emperor and his rule of Italy," the other "with the Pope, who supported self-governing city-states."

So it sounds a little like big-government Federalists vs. Jeffersonian Republican-Democrats. And Ugolino was one of the Federalistas, except that he apparently conspired with the Papists to secure more power for himself.

Blah blah blah yada yada yada, "Dante placed Ugolino and Ruggieri in the second ring of the lowest circle of the Inferno, which is reserved for betrayers of kin, country, guests, and benefactors. Ugolino’s punishment involves his being entrapped in ice up to his neck in the same hole with his betrayer, Archbishop Ruggieri, who left him to starve to death. Ugolino is constantly gnawing at Ruggieri's skull."

So it sounds like Dante is placing a pox on both these louses. Why?

"Ugolino's gnawing of Ruggieri's head has been interpreted as meaning that Ugolino's hatred for his enemy is so strong that he is compelled to 'devour even what has no substance.' Ugolino, though punished for his betrayal of his people, is allowed some closure for the betrayal that he himself was forced to suffer under Ruggieri, when he is allowed to act as Ruggieri's torturer for eternity."

This makes sense, in that, as we have discussed many times, mundane politics often comes down to mutual projection, or the "organization of hatreds." But projection is always an intrapsychic phenomenon that takes place between two parts of the self. Therefore, Ruggieri is a projection of Ugolino, and vice versa.

One can see this taking place quite transparently when members of one political faction accuse the other of crimes and misdemeanors of which they themselves are guilty. You will have noticed that I never indulge in this kind of hypocrisy, for example, accusing only Democrat politicians of being corrupt. I never pretend to be shocked when a politician of either party is accused of corruption.

While there is indeed a political "culture of corruption," it is underwrotten by a bloated state that has so much money and power with which to corrupt people.

Look at our vice president, who has been quite vocal in his insistence that any president who deploys U.S. troops in the absence of an imminent threat to the country must be impeached. Now, either he believes this, or Biden was simply betraying his country -- a treasonous offense -- when he said it about President Bush. Because Joe Biden never uses words lightly.

One could cite countless other instances of liberals excusing in Obama what they denounced in Bush, but let us move along.

So anyway, it is entirely appropriate that in Hell, Ugolino is permanently reunited with his projected Ruggieri, except in a completely unintegrated -- one might say indigestible -- manner.

In other words, the healthy person integrates various parts of the self -- both horizontal and vertical -- rather than projecting, splitting, and denying them. Please note that we are always one, despite our best efforts to rid ourselves of the parts we don't like, or which clash with the ego's image of itself.

In Hell, Ugolino is reunited with himself, except that he is forever trying (unsuccessfully) to integrate what he projected in this life. In this regard Dante was quite astute in linking this to digestion, as projection arises in the earliest phase of psychosexual development, the oral stage.

Projection in and of itself is by no means pathological. To the contrary, it facilitates the vital link between infant and mother, and indeed, between all humans. We could not meaningfully communicate with one another in the absence of this type of mutual projection, which is deeper than words.

A clearer term for pathological projection might be forced projection, in which, instead of a free flow between subjects, there is a quasi-permanent object within the self that must be constantly projected in order to rid oneself of anxiety, or depression, or low self esteem, whatever. Then the person spends his life in search of suitable receptacles for his projections.

I thought of this the other day while daydreaming behind the wheel. It occurred to me that liberals never accuse conservatives of believing what we actually believe or doing what we actually do. Instead, they take a grossly distorted and exaggerated version of what we believe, and then attack us for it.

Now, if I were actually guilty of what they accuse us of -- e.g., racism, imperialism, misogyny, homophobia, fascism, theocracy, etc. -- I would be the first to attack myself.

There must be a name for this logical fallacy, but I am unaware of it. If it is engaged in consciously, then it is indeed a mere logical fallacy. But I suspect that the majority of liberals do this unconsciously.

In other words, they are simply projecting a primitive part of themselves into us, whether sexual, violent, sadistic, power mad, whatever. And this would explain why it is so difficult to have a rational conversation with a liberal, for when we talk about equality they project racism, or when we talk about marriage they project homophobia, etc.

Again, they seem to be unable to help themselves from accusing us of things we don't believe. They never deal with the actual issue. We can't even have a rational discussion of the fiscal crisis facing state governments, because liberals immediately project into us a violent assault on the "middle class," or some other such primitive fantasy.

I hope I never do this with the left. In other words, I don't accuse them of things they do not do or believe, only what they actually do and believe, which is more than enough for me.

Liberals want a bigger state. I want a smaller one. They want an elastic, "living Constitution." I don't. They want the government to discriminate on the basis of race. I don't. They want more money for teachers' unions. I want vouchers and freedom of choice in education. They want socialized medicine. I want market based reforms. They think the Constitution confers a right to abortion. I don't see it. Etc.

It is sad to think of our trolls eternally gnawing away at my brain in Hell, but that's just the way it is.

Mmm, Gagdad...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Pride Slide and the Shame Game

The last circle of Hell is reserved for the traitors, who are placed here "because betrayal is the central sin of the Christian tradition, represented by Judas, who betrayed Jesus" (Upton).

More generally, "the worst betrayal is to deny the truths of God and so set up a parody of them -- and this is also self-betrayal, which is why Judas must commit suicide" (ibid).

What motivates betrayal is pride, the cardinal sin. But underneath pride is shame. The pride of the pathological narcissist is really a preemptive defense against the experience of shame, and shame is a sort of attack on the self, projected into others.

Inappropriate pride results from dysregulated shame, i.e., shame that is either too overwhelming to endure, or which occurs in a self too fragile to endure it. Instead of tempering and tutoring pride, it traumatizes it.

Look at what happens in Genesis. Adam's promethean pride is immediately followed by his intolerable shame, which in turn provokes the first lie, so we can see how all of these things are linked.

Adam first pretends he is God, so that when the real God appears, he doesn't just revert back to himself -- a mere man -- but is revealed as the shameful "opposite" of God. It's a pretty big leap to instantaneously go from being a proud god to being ashamed of one's body!

As it so happens, I am coaching my son's Little League team, and Little League -- like everything else in our culture -- has become pathetically feminized since my own glory days as a sensationally adequate hurler. Obviously it is possible to go too far in the opposite direction, and to use sports as a vehicle to transmit shame to a child.

But we have overreacted to that danger by trying to arrange it so that the experience of shame is impossible. Importantly, this is not to protect the children -- who can handle the reality that some players are better than others -- but the parents who cannot tolerate their own vicarious shame.

Remember, shame itself is not a bad thing, only shame that is excessive (i.e., traumatic), on the one hand, or dysregulated, on the other. Shame serves the vital purpose of group harmony, as there is no one more dangerous than the hordes of Shameless with their absurdly inappropriate self esteem in tow. With no sense of shame, no behavior or political party is off limits.

Again, the ideal is to introduce shame in tolerable doses. Shame is even a sort of "divine instinct," in that a race of shameless humans could never be human. If you want to know why the culture of professional sports has deteriorated so much, it is because the players have become so shameless.

Schuon: "pride... is to overestimate oneself while underestimating others; it is the refusal to accept humiliation when the nature of things requires it; and it is ipso facto to take for a humiliation every attitude that simply reveals our limits."

And pride "destroys the virtues for two reasons: first of all because one takes them away from God, to whom they belong in reality, thus putting oneself -- like Lucifer -- in place of the Divine Source; and secondly because one attributes de facto a disproportionate value to a phenomenon which is necessarily relative" (ibid.). In other words, get over yourself.

Upton makes the important point that in this circle of Hell, "fame becomes shame."

But this is also true in the hereabove for anyone with three eyes to see. A normal person would be deeply creeped out for being known for anything other than moral, intellectual, or artistic excellence.

To be known for anything else is -- or should be -- humiliating. The only reason it isn't is again because of pride, which conceals the shame. For the properly right-side up person, the more famous he is, the more humble he should be. Ask yourself: is there anyone more humble than Christ? I didn't think so.

But in our culture, instead of teaching humility we teach self esteem, another cadword for pride. Why would one esteem the self, of all things? Do these people not even know what a human being is? Have they never cracked a history book? Are they ridiculous? Does it grow ungnosissed that Even if humility did not save us from hell, in any event it saves us from ridicule (Don Colacho)?

Yesterday Dennis Prager devoted an hour to the topic of how one produces children who are good. This is the central task of parenting in particular and culture in general.

However, one of the principles of the left (either implicit or explicit) is that man is basically good. That being the case, there is no reason to train a child to be good, since nature takes care of that. For the leftist, any child will turn out okay so long as he isn't exposed to dangerous conservative principles such as self-discipline, objective morality, and absolute truth.

This is hardly a gift to the child, but a callous deprivation, for it leaves him in a state of nature instead of helping him ascend to the properly human. One could hardly do more to invert our cosmic system of Christian jewishprudence.

Some righteous wimpslaps from the hand of Don Colacho:

--To educate man is to impede the “free expression of his personality.”
--The individual today rebels against immutable human nature so that he might refrain from amending his own correctable nature.
--The right to fail is an important right of man.
--Rejection troubles us and approval confuses us.

You're right, Virgil. Deep down, these celebrities are aren't such bigshots.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Unspeakable Truth and the Lower Limits of Language

As we converge upon the center of Hell, language begins to break down altogether, as is to be expected, for it is located at the greatest ontological distance from the Word. At the bottom of the cosmos, God -- the Word -- just isn't that into you. Literally.

This is a precise but inverse analogy of what occurs as we approach the One, which also sheds language like so much water off a duck's back.

One might say that language is allegheirically swallowed up in Hell but drawn into Heaven; the former is the ego shouting (•) into the infinite void Ø, while the latter is the I-AMmaculate Voidgin (O) shouting with joyous labor pains out of ʘ. The former is abØrtion, the latter c♀♂nception.

Thus, in neither case can the object of language be "contained" -- similar to how physics breaks down at both ends of the cosmos, at the subatomic and metacosmic, the nonlOcal head and the lØcal TOE. In between it works just fine -- or is at least adequate to the needs of terrestrial survival.

As we should all know by now, this was the Big Idea behind the Cosmogenesis and Cosmobliteration sections of the bʘʘk.

For clearly, no language suffices to describe the state of affairs prior to cosmic manifestation, just as no description is adequate to convey what transcends language in the highest realm. Therefore, I had to invent a hyperdimensional language in order to stay one step ahead of the dictionary and to trick Gödel, who is always right on my tail.

Or, to put it another way, Coherence and obviousness are mutually exclusive (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

So even a poet as singular as Dante acknowledges the difficulty of describing his experience, the challenge of finding words Appropriate to describe that dismal pit / On which the other circles converge.

Dante goes on to say that I would press out the juice of my conception / More fully still: but since I have them not, / 'Tis with some fear I bring myself to speak. / The utmost depth of all the universe / Is not a theme befitting childish tongues.

O ye, condemned to utmost misery, / Where words can scarce suffice to tell your woe, / Better had ye been sheep or goats than men!

As Upton explains, "These realities are inexpressible like those of the supraformal planes of Paradise, but for the opposite reason."

It's a bit like trying to objectively describe the quantum world, which cannot be done, because the photons needed to observe it alter it. The order we bring to it is inseparable from the observer who orders it.

Thus, in order to describe his experience, Dante "must gloss over the true chaos of the reality he is encountering, which is why he fears he has failed to do justice to his subject" (Upton).

Here again, this is why I attempted -- however unsuccessfully -- to simultaneously evoke what I was describing in those two single ends of the Absurcular Book; in so doing, my only guide could be what was evoked in me, so there is no guarantee that it is evocative for others.

The paradox of Hell is that if we become what we behold, we can only lie about it. Language "sinks to the level of the chaos and darkness it is attempting to describe, and thus becomes unintelligible" (Upton).

Someone once said that Hell is a place were reason is absolutely impotent. Since language is the -- or an -- embodiment of Reason, we must somehow abandon language to enter Hell. Or, we are in Hell when reason and language fail us in a persecutory manner. There are many instances when the failure of language is a blessing.

Interestingly, Dante asks the Muses "to help him tell the story of Hell in such a way that the evil of it may be safely contained within his great poem, not let loose upon the world" (Upton).

Here again, this would represent a kind of inverse analogy of scripture. As the latter evokes and allows us to assimilate Light, truth, beauty, love and virtue, we can imagine a kind of diabolical scripture which could unwittingly "enter" and contaminate us.

Before you dismiss this as metaphorical, aren't we all concerned with what goes into us, and the effect it has upon the soul? Religious people are aware of this in a more or less direct way, whereas the irreligious tend to experience it in a displaced and dysfunctional manner -- for example, in their preoccupation with the body and with absurd threats to our health. It is difficult if not impossible to explain to such a person that I send my son to a religious school in order to avoid the deadly soul pollution of secular culture.

And what is political correctness but a weird caricature of spiritual purity?

To be a fisher of postmodern men, one must be aware of the fissure in postmodern man -- a fissure that results from the systematic abuse of language. And logocide always redounds to soulicide.

Say, how would you describe this place? I'm having a little difficulty finding le mot juste.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Attack of the Giant Mind Parasites

At last we enter the ninth and last circle of Hell. But if I've learned nothing else in this guided tour of the underworld, it's that you can't just tell someone to "go to hell" without specifying which part. This final circle is comprised of four rings, the first one being "the world of Giants or Titans."

That seems odd. San Francisco I can understand, but why Tennessee?

Upton says that these entities are what in Vedanta are called asuras. In this loose translation of the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Aurobindo writes that

"The Asuric nature has too its wealth, its plenitude of force, but it is of a very different, a powerful and evil kind. Asuric men have no true knowledge of the way of action or the way of abstention, the fulfilling or the holding in of the nature. Truth is not in them, nor clean doing, nor faithful observance. They see naturally in the world nothing but a huge play of the satisfaction of self; theirs is a world with Desire for its cause and seed and governing force and law....

"The Asuric man becomes the centre or instrument of a fierce, Titanic, violent action, a power of destruction in the world, a fount of injury and evil. Arrogant, full of self-esteem and the drunkenness of their pride, these misguided souls delude themselves, persist in false and obstinate aims and pursue the fixed impure resolution of their longings. They imagine that desire and enjoyment are all the aim of life and in their inordinate and insatiable pursuit of it they are the prey of a devouring, a measurelessly unceasing care and thought and endeavour and anxiety till the moment of their death."

Other than that, they're great to have around.

Upton says that the Giants are "the archetype of repressed passions," but I think I would express it differently, since "repression" is a somewhat outmoded psychoanalytic concept. It is too linear and mechanistic to describe what really goes on in the unconscious.

Again, since the mind is intersubjective and object-related, the content of "repression" is really a quasi-autonomous subject I call a mind parasite. Because it is parasitic -- i.e., it cannot live without attaching to an external source of energy and sustenance -- it is related to oneself, and because it is intersubjective, it is always attached to something external as well, either "real" or projected. In other words, the mind parasite always seeks some kind of relationship, however dysfunctional.

Upton is correct, however, in noting that the Giant (or mind parasite) represents "a falsity through which the quality of unique personhood is almost entirely destroyed."

Importantly, we are speaking here of extreme cases -- one might say cases in which the mind parasite has succeeded in displacing the central self. This can and does frequently happen, whereby the true self becomes a persecutory satellite in orbit around the mind parasite, rather than vice versa.

For example, a truly toxic narcissist has replaced his damaged true self with an inflated and imaginary false one. The true self is not so much "repressed" as split off, denied, and projected.

But unlike a mind parasite, the true self cannot be eliminated, since it is not only real, but the ground and locus of reality within the self. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the false self knows that it has no underlying reality, no ground of being. It is only as real as the ephemeral circumstances of the narcissist, whose life revolves around maintaining the illusion of superiority, entitlement, giftedness, etc.

In many ways, Christianity as such is an innoculation against such a malevolent psychic transmutation. A Christian knows full well what he is in the absence of God, which is to say, nothing (the bad kind). Don Colacho, in ascending severity:

--There are two kinds of men: those who believe in original sin and idiots.
--Nobody will ever induce me to absolve human nature, because I know myself.
--May he tremble who sees himself as innocent.
--Vulgarity consists in striving to be what we are not.
--In order to challenge God, man puffs up his emptiness.
--The Antichrist is, probably, man.

Now, paradoxically -- given what we just said above about the intersubjective nature of mind parasites -- "The Giants are impersonal falsity and oppression; Satan himself is both personal and impersonal."

What this means is that the ultimate mind parasite would not be a person per se, but in the shape of a person -- a giant facsimian or titan, so to spook. Boo!

Upton notes that they live in a realm that is less than night and less than day (XXXI: 10). What could this mean? Up here, what is "less than day" converges upon night (twilight), and what is less than night converges on the day. Psychologically these refer to the hypnogogic (the descent into sleep) and hypnopompic (the ascent out of sleep).

But the "less than night" is not the absence of Light, but what we might call "minus Light," a kind of counterfeit parody of illumination. It is a "chaotic murk," perhaps the state of the world prior to the Creator's first act of division and separation: The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. This darkness is very different from the night that only comes into being on the First Day, with the creation of Light.

In the case of the minus Light, "the cyclical form of night and day has broken down" (Upton). It is endless night, for the day never comes. As they say, it is always darkest right before it goes pitch black.

Night is also death, so the entities here are deprived of the mercy of death's transformation. Life and death share the rhythmicity of night and day, dissolution and rebirth, crucifixion and resurrection, so no growth is possible.

One of the Giants we encounter is none other than Nimrod, the architect of the Tower of Babel. In a comment on the previous post, I mentioned that Babel is the "minus Pentecost," in that "The former -- which is analogous to multiculturalism and deconstruction -- horizontalizes the One into numberless fragments of speech, while the latter projects the One into diverse tongues."

Upton is clearly on the same page, writing that "Nimrod, in his speech, is like a postmodern philosopher: one who, in an attempt to rise above all languages and escape the limits of meaning, has in fact sunk below them, into the incoherent." Furthermore, like a parasite, this perversion "saps the intelligence of whoever tries to understand it."

Conversely, "The Apostles' ability to speak in many tongues on Pentecost is thus the exact opposite of the confusion of tongues, and also its redemption." And "as the confusion of tongues divides, so Christ the Word unites" (ibid. you adieu).

It is One Cosmos Under God, and therefore, Word.

Giant fans in the right field bleachers, looking out over McCovey Cove.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spiritual Warfare and the Left's Abuse of Language

In the last sector of the penultimate circle of Hell are more counterfeiters: of coins, of words, and of persons. These are related to the three planes of human existence, the physical, the psychic/emotional, and the spiritual.

According to Upton -- and let's give her a big hand, because I'm not sure I'll be able to make it through purgatory without her steady virgilance -- "the impersonators, those who falsify the body, are related to the physical plane." She regards the monetary counterfeiters more symbolically, as relating to the falsification of values and desires, i.e., the psychic plane.

But the worst offenders -- and this has been a theme of ours since the earliest days of the blog -- are "the falsifiers of language, those who pervert meaning itself," and who, as a result, hijack and even blow up the spiritual plane, with all occupants on board.

Such offenses must come -- man being who he is and all -- but woe to the man who commits them in the name of tenure!

In that prehysteric post linked to above is a fine quote by Father Seraphim Rose:

It is corrupting to hear or read the words of men who do not believe in truth. It is yet more corrupting to receive, in place of truth, mere learning and scholarship which, if they are presented as ends in themselves, are no more than parodies of the truth they were meant to serve, no more than a facade behind which there is no substance.

They put a warning on the side of cigarette packages. How about a warning at the entrance to our liberal universities? They force us to watch those ghoulish TV commercials, like the one with the cancer victim breathing through the hole in her neck. Why not scary programs featuring demented, end-stage liberals with grotesque holes in their souls?

Oh, right. MSNBC.

The secular west, because it has lost all contact with the spiritual, is obsessed with the physical -- for example, the First Lady's preoccupation with fat people. It's not complicated. Just put down the fork and get your ass out of the sofa. Oh, and maybe get a life that has some genuine spiritual meaning and joy instead of mere fleeting animal pleasures.

Oh, right. Can't talk about that. Separation of church and plate.

But the Obamas are Christians!

Yeah, right. To plagiaphrase Don Colacho, dialogue between leftists and Christians has become possible ever since the left started to falsify Marx and Christians Christ.

Upton makes the critical point that each level of counterfeiting is successively more "collective," which makes perfect sense. Here again, falsification of language itself would be the most serious offense, because it affects everyone; it distorts "the world-view of an entire culture" (Upton).

Political correctness is just such a falsification, not because it consists of "lies" -- which would be easy enough to correct -- but because it is a much wider assault upon what is even thinkable. To combat this or that individual lie of the left is essentially to hand them a victory, because one is playing on their field of dreams and using their terms of abuse.

It is the work of an instant for the left to magically transform Tea Partiers into racists, or religious people into theocratic fascists, or citizens opposed to Public Suckler Unions into "enemies of the middle class." To even respond is to dignify the argument, for Defeating a fool humiliates us (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

Either one understands the following, or one does not (from the precogitated bloggerel linked to above):

"The moral and intellectual pathology of the left revolves around its misuse of language. It is not so much that leftist thought consists of lies, as that it is based on a primordial Lie that causes it to enter a parallel looniverse where, even if they say something that is technically true, they do not say it because it is true, which makes all the difference. [Don Colacho: There is no worse foolishness than the truth in the mouth of a fool.]

"The primordial lie is the nullification of the covenant between language and reality, so that language is used for its effect rather than as a tool to convey truth. For the left, good language is effective language, whether it means ridiculously exaggerating the danger of heterosexual AIDS in order to increase funding, brazenly lying about George Bush supposedly lying about WMD, or blaming hurricane Katrina on Bush's environmental policies."

The point is that our present civil war between American classical liberals and the left is spiritual warfare. And the central front of this war is on the field of language. This is a war that the left cannot win, because if they win, they lose, for a human being cannot undermine language -- the Word -- without ceasing to be human. Logocide is suicide. And deicide, of course.

Because of his fidelity to truth and reality, the conservative (not Republican!) is able to clearly enunciate what he believes, without evasions, qualifications, distortions, or name changes: Limited government. Adherence to the Constitution. Rule of law. A strong defense. Traditional morality. Low taxes. Liberty. Individualism. Freedom of choice. Slack.

Conversely, the liberal is only able to discuss what he believes while in the presence of other liberals. Truth only escapes accidentally, such as in the recent NPR flap, or Obama's characterization of American citizens as bitter clingers. They cannot tell us that public sector unions are a scam to force citizens to funnel money to Democrat candidates, or that Obamacare is a trojan hearse for socialized medicine (even though many prominent liberals are on record as saying so).

While looking for something else, I stumbled upon this little gem I'd been saving from Flopping Aces, Liberal To English Translation. Sums things up nicely.

Tenured hellion shoving another human truth down the memory hole.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Counterfeit Theophany and Genuine Theophunny

Enough with the sowers of scandalous schism in the valley of violent vendetta. On to the counterfeiters.

Why counterfeiters? According to Upton, "implicit in this sin is the degradation of knowledge from the sacred to the profane."

And now that I think about it, this sin ought to be a biggie, because of the essential sanctity of Truth from which all truth is derived. In reality, there can be no "profane truth," unless one has a priori profaned oneself and the world with it.

We interrupt this broadbrush for an armor-piercing bullet in from Don Colacho: If one does not believe in God, the only honest alternative is vulgar utilitarianism. The rest is rhetoric.

The word counterfeit has some interesting etymological implications. The Oxford dictionary says that it is derived from the Latin in opposition to + to make.

Thus, we are once again dealing with a kind of perversion of man's deiform creativity. When God creates, It. Is. Good. But when the counterfeiter creates, it is not just worthless, but generates a kind of negative value -- for example, inflation in the case of counterfeit money.

But counterfeiting in every domain creates inflation and negative value. For example, there is both knowledge (k) and its opposite (-k).

Importantly, (-k) isn't just the absence of knowledge, but the active presence of "false knowledge," most notoriously, leftism in all its mixed up guises and dollsies. There is also love (L) and (-L), gnosis (n) and (-n), reality (O) and (Ø), divine energies (↓) and (-↓), etc.

And while I don't have a handy pneumaticon for it, there is also "false" or "minus beauty," which is not mere ugliness, but a terrestrial beauty devoid of goodness, of transcendence, of the noetic Light that shines through true beauty.

Female beauty is one of the most metaphysically transparent phenomena in all of creation, but think of the countless ways it can be perverted by both men and women for purposes of manipulation or domination or titillation or whatever.

Yes, The sensual is the presence of a value in the sensible (Don Colacho).

On the one hand, The unforeseeable grace of an intelligent smile is enough to blast away the layers of tedium which the days deposit. On the other, there is The destructive capacity of the imbecile’s smile (DC).

Either way, The quality of an intelligence depends less on what it understands than on what makes it smile (DC).

Guffah-HA! For verily, the Raccoon's laughty revelations are mighty, they are wise, they are silly!

In Genesis, the Jehovial One provides big LAUGHS to old Abraha-ha-ham. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Jest!

Do you want to know what goes on in the core of the Trinity? I will tell you. In the core of the Trinity, the Father laughs and gives birth to the Son. The Son laughs back at the Father and gives birth to the Spirit. The whole Trinity laughs and gives birth to us (Eckhart).

And When the inferior scholar is told of Tao / He laughs aloud at it. / If it were not laughed at, it would not be sufficient to be Tao (Tao Te Ching).

So anyway, Dante makes reference to a spiritual huckster who claimed to be able to teach people to fly. Not only was he a prototypical Deepak, but a footnote on p. 157 mentions that Deepak's own guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, "made the same claim... to teach students how to levitate."

But you will have gnosissed that there is no genuine levity in the new age in general or Deepak in particular. Both are as pre-ironic and un-funny as the most unfunfundamentalist. The only humor in Deepak is strictly unintentional. No wonder he is featured in the deeply unfunny (-F) Love Guru!

That fellow who pretended to teach people to fly, according to Upton, "manifests the sort of spiritual inflation [there's that word again] or hubris that is visible to all, while hidden in his soul was a much more serious transgression, the sin of pseudo-alchemy [-A?], a counterfeit of inner spiritual transformation." Such spiritual con artists generally have a kind of meretricious charisma that draws others into their web of deiceit.

I remember being impressed a number of years ago by something Joseph Chilton Pearce mentioned in one of his books, that culture often provides a "counterfeit model of development" that prevents the real thing. Every counterfeit cultural object or activity is a kind of parasite on something real, so we have counterfeit love, counterfeit sensuality, counterfeit literature, counterfeit art, etc.

And as Deepak and other (-L)ove Gurus farcibly demonstrate, the hardest to attain is the easiest to counterfeit.

What's next, a counterfeit President?

Comedy? Comedy how? What's comedic about it?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Contemporary Liberalism and the Resurrection of the Blood Feud

Eight circles down, one to go. To review, the eighth circle has ten departments that cater to different sins, but one of the sins discussed in Canto XXIX strikes me as a little idiosyncratic to warrant such a heavy punishment: "counterfeiters posing as alchemists."

We'll deal with them in tomorrow's post. But first we need to move past the "sowers of schism," one of whom is a relative of Dante. In life, this fellow was a participant in, and ultimately victim of, a mindless blood feud. Virgil councils Dante to move along and not waste time indulging in pity for this paisano.

If only we could follow Virgil's advice and offer no slack to the worshipers of blood! In the margin I have a little note to myself: Japan-Germany-Islam, but those are only recent maninfestations of a soul-pathology that is planted deep into the heart of man.

This is something Dennis Prager often discusses, i.e., the distinction between those whose values are based upon truth and goodness, vs. those whose values are rooted in blood.

In this regard, we cannot actually consider, say, Nazi Germany, to be an aberration, because it was animated by the ancient mind parasites of blood and soil, which seem to co-arise with man's self-consciousness -- indeed, they seem to be the poisonous fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, upon which the blood-worshipers cannot stop gorging themselves. Truly, it is the satanic eucharist.

We have by no means conquered these mind parasites. The attempt to do so begins with the ancient Israelights, moves on through Christianity, and then has its fullest political expression in the United States, which was explicitly founded upon ideas and values, not blood or soil. Anyone can be an American, so long as they adopt certain values.

At least this used to be the case. For the past century, the atavistic left has been engaging in a rear-guard action designed to drag America back down into the violence, bigotry, and parochialism of blood and kin.

Today they call this diabolical doctrine "multiculturalism," and we are now suffering the consequences of having a president -- provincial and incurious fellow that he is -- whose "post"-modern education succeeded in making him believe that his primitive prejudices are not only normative, but superior to what comes developmentally later.

The proglodyte left was able to accomplish this assault on America by hijacking the civil rights movement and using it as a vehicle not to transcend blood, but to bathe in it. Which is why the left is so obsessed with race.

But it's actually the other way around: those who value blood over ideas have no other respectable vehicle of expression than the modern left. Their values dominate academia (e.g., "black studies," "critical race theory," "Chicano studies," "queer theory" [since they believe homosexuality is in the blood, i.e., genetic]), the MSM, and politics (recall that Clinton wanted a cabinet that "looks like America," not one that thinks like America).

The more Americans are compelled by the state to think in terms of racial categories, the less we are able to think in abstract categories of truth, decency, justice -- or, as Dennis Prager says, the American triumvirate of liberty / e pluribus unum / in God we trust.

And not just any God, of course, but the universal God of Judeo-Christendom. It completely defeats the purpose of America to give one's primary allegiance to some tribal moon god, or to a manmade religion masquerading as science.

In fact, each leg of the American trinity is implicitly related to the others. For example, the Judeo-Christian God is the God of liberty. Other so-called gods are not, most notably, the god of Islam, who is a god of surrender and obedience.

And the doctrine of e pluribus unum -- from many, one -- directly contradicts the doctrine of multiculturalism, which teaches: from one, many. In such an upside-down world, truth must be a secondary concern, which makes it no concern at all. It is much more important for the left to have a "Latina" or female on the Supreme Court than a gifted and impartial jurist who will preserve and protect the political Truth embedded in the Constitution.

But this is a shrill smokescream anyway, because we all understand that the left's hysteria about race and gender is just the rationale for a raw power play. Their "racial pride" does not extend to Thomas Sowell or Clarence Thomas or Walter Williams or Shelby Steele.

This also explains the implicit alliance between Islamists and the international left, because they share the common value of blood. They love the Palestinians, because they are engaged in an endless blood feud against the very people most responsible for delegitimizing blood feuds. No wonder Jews are the most picked on people in history!

Don Colacho: Unless circumstances constrain him, there is no radically leftist Jew. The people that discovered divine absolutism does not make deals with the absolutism of man.

Americans value liberty. The left values equality. What's the difference? "Liberty is the right to be different; equality is a ban on being different" (Don Colacho). The left says: If you're black, then start thinking like one, n#@%*r! Why more blacks aren't offended by the contempt with which they are treated by white liberal elites is a bit puzzling. Identification with the aggressor?

According to Upton, "The principle of the blood feud divides the love of Justice... from its impersonal roots in the metaphysical order. It renders the virtue of Justice interested and personalistic, and thereby perverts it for evil ends" (emphasis mine).

Oh my yes. One way the left does this is by replacing Justice with "social justice," which, because it means nothing, means everything, and vice versa. The left can justify any power grab based upon the pseudo-ideal of "social justice."

Upton makes a more subtle point, that the person who descends into the swamp of blood and race cannot help dividing his own mind against itself, which requires psychological projection in order to maintain a fraudulent sense of psychic wholeness.

Thus, for the left, every "good negro" such as Al Sharpton, must evoke projections into a "bad negro" such as Clarence Thomas. Likewise, the Palestinians cannot love their own children without hating Jewish children. It is a total degradation of the human condition. Me, I couldn't care less if Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson are "black." Much more importantly, they are sinister idiots.

No, knucklehead, it's the opposite of the Berlin Wall. It's not designed to keep good people in, but bad people out.