Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupying Wall Street vs. Occupying Reality

Picking up where we left of yesterday, I want to continue with Vaclav Havel's discussion of Man's unique relationship to Being (found in The Great Lie: Classic and Recent Appraisals of Ideology and Totalitarianism). Recall his observation that Man is

"a being that has fallen out of Being and therefore continually reaches toward it, as the only entity by which and to which Being has revealed itself as a question, as a secret and as meaning" (which we refer to as [?!], or the sacred WTF?). The human "drama unfolds in the rupture between his orientation 'upward' and 'backward' and a constant falling 'downward' into now.'"

He adds that "the world of an 'I' that is oriented toward Being is different from the world of an 'I' that has succumbed to its existence-in-the-world." The latter is "enclosed within itself, barren in its superficial variety, empty in its illusory richness, ignorant, though awash in information, cold, alienated, and ultimately absurd."

Conversely, "Orientation toward Being as a state of mind can also be understood as faith," through which our "relationship to life is informed by hope, wonder, humility, and a spontaneous respect for its mysteries."

So, "How can this vicious circle [of alienation from Being] be broken? There would seem to be only one way: a revolutionary turning toward Being."

Openness to Being is... well, openness, which we symbolize (o); it involves "the experience of meaningfulness as a joyful encounter with the unity between the voice of Being within us and the voice of Being in the world," which "thus opens the Being of the world up to us at the same time as it opens us up to that Being." (Think of this as a variant of [↓↑], only prolonged into the vertical.)

Now, what is Being? We might say that Being is unadulterated AM. But man, unique among creatures, possesses -- or is possessed by -- a mysterious center of subjectivity, the I. In order to be aware of the I, it seems that we must, in some sense, be ousted or exiled from Being. Therefore, the perennial problematic is: how to make Being comport with the individual subject who only knows of himself because he is divided from Being? In short, how do we put humpty-I and dumpty-AM back together again?

unKnown Friend provides a clue: "Now the words 'I am; do not be afraid' spoken by the one walking on the water amount to the statement: 'I am gravitation, and he who holds to me will never sink or be engulfed'.... Thus there is another field of gravitation than that of death, and he who unites himself with it can walk on water, i.e, transcend the agitated element of 'this world,' the electrical gravitational field of the serpent."

There is a key passage on page 314 of MOTT, where UF discusses the difference between terrestrial and celestial gravitation: the former is centripetal and enfolds, while the latter is centrifugal and radiates. Perhaps a better way of saying it is that terrestrial gravitation hardens, compacts, and deadens, while celestial gravitation liquifies, disperses, and sows. There is density and opacity in the former, light and space in the latter.

Think of all the forms of intersubjective gravitation that "hold people together," everything from love to culture to ideology to religion and more. This is not metaphorical language, but literal, both individually and collectively. In fact, the word "religion" comes from the latin religare, "to bind."

Religion in its lower sense becomes quite terrestrial, for example, in the Islamic world, where people are bound and compacted together in a common prison where light and air cannot enter. Similarly, ideology can mimic religion, so its adherents are bound together by a spirit of faux radiation -- the OWS tantrums being a fine example.

This is another key point, for there is always a moment when one must assent to the ideology (or political religion), no different than the revolutionary conversion that orients us to Being. Havel is on the case:

"What is fanaticism? I would say it is nothing other than this reified, mystified, fetishized, and thus self-alienated faith.... [P]recisely at this moment, the 'I' commits a fatal error, which is extraordinarily seductive to a lazy mind, [and] a weak character..." There is an absence "of intellectual and moral courage," which precludes "the courage to go it alone against everyone and deny oneself the advantages of mob possession of ideas..."

Again, think of the OWSer mobs. Are they alienated? You bet. But from what? They haven't a clue. For "the fanatic is someone who, without realizing it, replaces the love of God with the love of his own religion; the love of truth, freedom, and justice with the love of an ideology, doctrine, or set of promises to guarantee them once and for all..."

On an individual basis, it's always a good idea to explore one's center of gravity. When we talk about "values," about the culture war, about political parties, we're really talking about very different centers of gravity.

For example, for the leftist, the center of gravity is the compacted collective, or state; for the conservative liberal, it is the radiant individual. In fact, for the leftist -- since he is fully terrestrialized -- his center of gravity is generally politics, period.

What normal, productive person with a life and family would have time to spend weeks on end screaming at walls? This is why the brain-dead left can always muster more raw political energy than the opposition, since it is their life. They're just obeying gravity and going with the flow, whereas for the rest of us, politics is a distasteful distraction that we mainly engage in to prevent the left from making matters worse and ultimately destroying the country. To paraphrase Eliot, we have no expectation of actually prevailing, only of perhaps recapturing and holding a little ground and then passing it on to the next generation.

Another danger of politics is that it tends to organize people around their hates. As a result, their center of gravity becomes that which they hate.

Yes, troll, I know what you're thinking. How is this any different from how Bob treats the left? One difference is that you are here. Why are you here, anyway? To open yourself to Being and change your center of gravity toward O? Or simply to use me as a focus for your hatred and stupidity?

When evaluating a patient, it really comes down to identifying their center of gravity. Most any mental illness results from a false or relative center of gravity. What is a fetish? An obsession? A compulsion? A fixation? A phobia? A depression? Paranoia? Each of these serves to organize the mind around a false center, which limits intelligence and falsifies being. They cannot "radiate," only focus. Or, if they do radiate, it is in a diffuse and chaotic manner, certainly not toward the nonlocal attractor, O. Their psychic content just spills all over the place, like a toxic dump.

Why is a great artist great? Because his words, images, or music come from a deeper or higher center of gravity that helps reveal and deepen ours. The great mystery is how this center can be communicated with very simple language or just a few notes. A great jazz musician will communicate more with just his tone than a mediocre musician with thousands of notes.

I do not wish to be anyone's center of gravity, but rather, perhaps be of humble assistance in helping them locate and amplify theirs. You shouldn't be looking at me, but through me.

In reality, what binds you and I is the mysterious third which we are looking at together. None but the troll stares at and even sniffs my finger. No, the rest of you try to focus upon what I am pointing at. Eventually it comes into view. You already sense it, or you wouldn't be here. It's just a matter of perfecting your senses.

Conversely, I can only assume that our obsessive trolls keep coming back because they want us to see what they see, and to share their perverse center of gravity. Don't worry, we see it. And even lived it. Which is why we can look through and beyond it, to what it is pointing at.

In short, for us, matter is legible, like the page of a book. When we read we do not stare at the letters, but look through them to the meaning. I suppose one could argue that the "center" of MOTT is page 335, being that the book contains 670 pages. But in reality, its center is O, which is present on every page. This explains how it is that Man, seemingly so insignificant, can be the "center of the universe."

To summarize, the Hanged Man "lives under the state of celestial gravitation," which is why he is both suspended and upside down. As UF writes, "the soul is suspended between heaven and earth." It is outside the world because it is inside O. This is "the zero point between the fields of terrestrial and celestial gravitation."

And to say that we are "upside down" means that for us, the "solid ground" is located above, while the realm below is an airy abstraction -- this is the abstract world of the scientistic atheist. Perhaps this is the reason why so many infertile eggheads are materialists, since materialism is purely "head knowledge," a shadowy caricature of the real thing.

I once knew a man who "fell in love with O." As his love deepened, so too did his faith. And as his faith in the unseen deepened, so too did his Obedience. Soon his feet "walked in O." And as his Obedience deepened, his head and heart followed his feet. Now he walks in a cloud of radiant unknowing, calmly placing one foot in front of the other and enjoying the walk.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Falling Up With the Speed of Light & the Unbearable Heaviness of Non-Being

Letter XII, The Hanged Man, is another key archetype for us, as it speaks to the nonlocal happitat in which the Raccoon prefers to dwell -- or ne'er d'well, anyway -- which is suspended roughly halfway between -- how to put it without being immediately understood? -- between 〇 and ( ), or between the celestial and terrestrial planes.

[Recall from the book that ( ) stands for the world, which, in the absence of 〇, is broken, incomplete, empty, discontinuous and finally absurd; one might say that it is the exteriorization of Ø.]

unKnown Friend says that this card "plunges us into the heart of the problem of the relationship between man and gravitation, and the conflicts that this relationship entails."

Something analogous to gravity operates at all levels of the cosmos, all degrees of being, both interior and exterior, from the solar system, to culture, to politics, to personal relationships, to the self, and even to mind parasites. In each case there is an attractive force that simultaneously draws subjects and objects toward other subjects or objects and toward their own "center of gravity"; we might say that one is an exteriorizing force, the other interiorizing.

We are not so much interested in the attraction of objects -- which is in the realm of physics -- as of subjects, for this is where the real mystery lies.

For example, once one becomes aware of the true self, it will begin to attract the kinds of relationships and experiences it requires to grow. If one fails to live out of this interior center, then no matter what happens in life, it will be an incoherent stream of experiences with no possibility of synthesis into a higher unity. One can always paper over discontinuities, inconsistencies, holes, psychic envelopes, dead spots, unborns, etc., but there is a technical term for this: papering over.

Here again, this is why liberty is so critical to the articulation and development of the self. The self is something that pre-exists in the form of potential, but can only develop and be known through experience.

You might say that this implicate self must be exteriorized in order to be interiorized. It must be free to choose the objects, relationships, and experiences it requires in order to "be." This is why one man's paradise is another man's exile or prison -- even a living death. This is also why there can be no real spirituality in the absence of freedom, and in turn why leftism is intrinsically retrograde.

And when I say "real," I mean imbued with the fulness of being; in the spiritual realm it is not a matter of "to be or not to be." Rather, there is a continuum between 〇 and Ø. Vertically speaking, one might say that we live in the phase space between these two great attractors, which I symbolize in the book as 〇 and Ø. As such, there are two final causes that operate in us; you could even call them eros and thanatos, or love and death.

(A point of order: the 〇 <---> ( ) dialectic has to do with God and world, the latter of which is still "real," whereas the 〇 <---> Ø has slightly different implications, since the latter is "nothing," or absence of being; ( ) is concrete, Ø vacuous, like the difference between, say, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, respectively.)

One way to look at it is to consider the fact that man only discovers himself -- i.e., acquires self-consciousness -- as a consequence of his alienation from Being, his separateness from the rest of creation (see Genesis for details). Being is divided between self and world.

Vaclav Havel writes that Man is "a being that has fallen out of Being and therefore continually reaches toward it, as the only entity by which and to which Being has revealed itself as a question [?!], as a secret and as meaning."

Again, we are suspended between the terms of Being, and can seek to heal this separation in two different (vertical) directions. Havel: Man's "drama unfolds in the rupture between his orientation 'upward' and 'backward' and a constant falling 'downward' into now.'"

Either way, the human subject "is continually stepping outside itself in order to return to itself once more and, through this 'circulation,' it inevitably matures -- becomes itself." It is a "permanent balancing act" between the recovery of Being vs. being dragged "down into the world of things, surfaces, frantic consumption and self-absorption" (ibid.).

On a more subtle level, man becomes a prisoner of his own mental productions instead of a gentleman slacker in the realm of Being.

As the death-stream draws us down to the terminal moraine of our lower nature, the life-stream pulls us in, up, and out, toward our nonlocal source above. Even the most cynical atheist cannot live -- not for a moment -- without this life-stream, for it is what pulls him toward truth, or love, or meaning -- even toward his hatred of God (since this hatred is usually rooted in a misgoaded attraction to truth instead of from it).

UF agrees that "the domain of our freedom... shows the real and active presence of gravitation of a spiritual order." This is why people are attracted to God and religion to begin with, "for what is the phenomenon of religion if not the manifestation of spiritual gravitation towards God -- i.e., towards the centre of spiritual gravitation of the world?"

We cannot see gravity, any more than we can observe the wind. However, we can obviously feel the effects of gravity and wind. On the interior plane, these effects are subtle but nevertheless clear, especially as one learns to amplify them and to live within this attractor space. It's as clear as falling in love. No one teaches us how to do that, for it's not something we could ever learn.

Speaking of falling, UF situates mankind's fall within this space: "there is nothing against the conception of the Fall of Adam as the passage from a spiritual gravitation system, whose centre is God, to a terrestrial gravitational system, whose centre is the serpent."

That's certainly how it feels to me. Don't you feel those twin pulls? And don't you remember as a child, the first awareness of the pull into darkness? I remember it distinctly. I think it repeats itself in different forms at different stages of life -- assuming one actually grows through different developmental stages beyond the culturally conditioned ego. Each stage has a central "temptation" that is a fractal image of the first. In each case, we must choose the Light.

The Gospel designates the two attractors as "heaven" and "this world," or "the kingdom of God" and "the kingdom of the prince of this world." Or again, we could just call them O and Ø; or "slack" and "the conspiracy."

Likewise, this can be thought of as a sword that cuts mankind right down the middle, between the "children of this world" and "the children (or the sons) of light." Here again, standard issue cʘʘnvision -- so long as we haven't voided the warranty -- allows us to know in an instant when we are in the presence of the One or the Øther. It couldn't be more obvious now, could it? It is why the trolls despise us why we chuckle at them.

UF notes that there are actually three main categories, and I see that these correspond to the three gunas of Vedanta, which we won't get into. But there is the "carnal" (or vital) man who "lives in the grip of gravitation of 'this world' at the expense of the gravitation of 'heaven'; there is the "psychic man" who "lives in equilibrium between the two fields"; and then there is the spiritual or pneumatic man "who lives under the sway of the gravitation of 'heaven.'"

Frankly, I wouldn't really know where to begin in attempting to treat type #1. Nor do I have any interest in helping people better adapt to unreality -- which is what the great majority of people want, at least if you believe the OWSers.

Now, the Hanged Man "represents the condition of one in the life of whom gravitation from above has replaced that of below." In Raccoon terms, it is someone who has discovered his proper orientation, and sees the cosmos "inside out" and "upside down" relative to the normals. In reality, we have merely reverted things to their proper place. And we are irresistibly attracted by the top.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Redefinition of Marriage Between Faith and Science

Oops. Gotta throw the cosmic bus into reverse. We inadvertently left the last of the three irreducible philosophical antinomies resolved by Christianity by the curb. Recall that the first two are idealism <---> realism and realism (AKA objective idealism) <---> nominalism. The third is equally important, especially in our present age of stupidity in which these two, faith <---> empirical science, are aggressively segregated by medieval secularists. This enforced division is perhaps understandable, given the implicit desire of materialists to separate their faith in matter from matters of faith. Even so, they need to grow up and face the truth.

As our unKnown Friend writes, "The father of empirical science is doubt and its mother is faith." On the one hand, "doubt is the very root of every question, and questions are the basis of every quest and all research."

And yet, as Michael Polanyi has so extensively described, it is faith that guides us to the potentially fruitful question -- one that can be asked "in good faith," and to which we can anticipate an answer to be forthcoming.

For example, "Newton doubted the traditional theory of 'gravity,' but he believed in the unity of the world.... Doubt set his thought in motion; faith rendered it fruitful." In a sense, one could say that doubt is horizontal, whereas faith is vertical. And the vertical often involves a kind of "wordless anticipation" or, better yet, the realm of the "unThought known" that connects us to the whole world of things human beings Just Know.

Again, to paraphrase Schuon, instinct is to animals as the intellect (nous) is to man. Thus, for example, we "instinctively" turn toward the Creator and seek to actualize the implicit knowledge we have of him.

But there is of necessity faith in doubt and doubt in faith (note that the <---> that links the two implies their underlying unity). The doubt in faith is the "dark night of the soul," the days and years spent wondering in the bewilderness, accompanied by the childlike attitude of expectant waiting.

Conversely, the faith in doubt is the belief that the cosmos is ultimately intelligible and therefore whole and finally good; that it is a creation through which we may apprehend the qualities of its Creator.

The scientist has faith that the endless multiplicity he confronts is a reflection of its prior unity, i.e, that the world is a cosmos and not a chaosmos (or that chaos is parasitic on cosmos, for the converse could never be true). He also has faith that the human subject -- itself an ordered totality, or microcosmos -- is uniquely capable of apprehending this unity (for only one can know the One); as Aldous Huxley remarked, "science is the reduction of multiplicity to unity."

And the scientist believes in evolution, which is to say progress. And progress is absolutely meaningless unless it is situated in the light of the absolute, i.e., truth. A universe of pure change could never be progressive -- which, by the way, is another reason why political "progressivism" is always regressive. In glorifying the lowest level of reality -- matter on the one hand and desire on the other -- it has nowhere to go but down.

Seen in this darklight, progressivism quickly devolves to an excuse to unleash violence against the current order, since reality can never match up to the infantile desires and fantasies of the left. "The perfect is the enemy of the good." The leftist does not believe in the permanence of transcendent things, in the absence of which there can be no dynamic and fruitful interplay of faith and doubt, or creative evolution.

Rather, he believes in a static fantasy of an unattainable utopia, which again serves as the justification for destroying that which is -- including those beautiful values that made this nation possible. It is such a parochial and ethocentric view, since the vast majority of the so-called 99% are actually in the 1% if they would only widen their historical view instead of only consulting their desires.

It is the unrepentant spiritual terrorism of the left that frightens the population. For when you insist that this is a racist country; a sexist country; a homophobic country; a classist country; you do not just criticize the margins, but delegitimize the center. Progressivism is the expression of thanatos the "death instinct." It is perverse, sadistic, and authoritarian. Which is why, of course, they project these things into conservatives.

Eliot wrote that "if the progress of mankind is to continue as long as man survives upon the earth, then... progress becomes merely change; for the values of man will change, and a world of changed values is valueless to us -- just as we, being a part of the past, will be valueless to it.

"Or if the progress of mankind is to continue only until a 'perfect' state of society is reached, then this state of society will be valueless simply because of its perfection. It will be at best a smooth-running machine with no meaning..."

The idea that progressivism renders our lives worthless to generations of the future is a subtle point worth dwelling on. Consider how blindly the left sweeps away not just the average individual (especially if he doesn't share their values), but the truly great men of the past.

The Founding Fathers? Just racist slaveholders promoting their economic interests. Lincoln? He didn't care about the plight of blacks, he just wanted more power for the north. The men who died for our freedom in World War II? Probably just racist redneck Christianists, just as today.

The other day, a leftist-integral-Buddhist suggested to us that the liberation of Iraq was an aggressive war. We told him he was either ignorant, intellectually dishonest, or morally retarded. And we meant it literally, not as an insult.

Talk about irony. What China did to Tibet was aggressive. Removing the most sadistic tyrant on earth and installing a democracy is a gift from heaven, even if it remains to be seen if Islam and liberal democracy are capable of coexisting. At least we'll know.

The point is, the left undermines and delegitimizes the United States, and then wants to elect one of its own to be President of the land they so despise. [This was written over three years ago -- ed.] If Obama fails to bring this howling mob the revolutionary change it is clamoring for, who knows what will happen with their collective death instinct? If one is not a part of their fantasied solution, then one is just a problem, someone standing between them and the fulfillment of their desires.

For a primitive person, idealization is always a defense against aggression, so it will be very interesting to see how Obama manages the aggressive idealization being projected into him. I seriously doubt that he appreciates the hatred beneath the love, being that he is one of them.

In light of the "permanent things," time past and time future become time present. This was one of Eliot's great concerns, expressed so perfectly in Four Quartets. Again, the progressive believes in time as a straight line composed of atomistic and disjointed moments -- which, by the way, is what Eliot was attempting to capture and convey in his earlier, more pessimistic poems, prior to his conversion.

This recalls Bion's concept of "attacks on linking," which can take place in both time and space; in fact, if you think about it, you cannot attack spatial links without attacking temporal links. To attack the one is to attack the other. Deconstruction doesn't just destroy the present, but past and future as well. To destroy history is to destroy the present, and vice versa.

But to dwell in the permanent things -- the essence of conservatism -- is not to live in the discontinuous line, but within a kind of spiritual plenum that connects us to all of mankind, living and dead (indeed, to mankind as such). It is a kind of sin and scandal, not only that the dead cannot vote, but that the left wishes to force a new country upon us that would be unrecognizable to the men who died to create this one.

To say that "we are the ones we've been waiting for" is not just cosmically narcissistic but profoundly ungrateful. But all children come into the world believing they are cosmically special, otherwise they could not psychically survive the indignities of infancy.

Science in the absence of religion -- scientism -- conforms to the pattern laid out in Genesis: your eyes will be open to the horizontal and you shall become like gods! But this overvaluation of the quantitative aspect of the cosmos comes at the price of obscuring its qualitative aspects: "quality is the vertical aspect of the world," and it is ultimately rooted in the permanent things discussed above.

But as UF asks, why is it necessary to choose between the two? Why not just add the one to the other "under the sign of the cross," i.e., the vertical line of religion -- the permanent things -- bisecting the horizontal plane of science at each and every step along the way? Why not just crucify the serpent? Do so, and a metamorphosis follows:

"The scientistic creed then becomes what it is in reality: the mirroring of the creative Word. It will no longer be truth; it will be method. It will no longer say: 'in the beginning was substance or matter,' but will say: 'in order to understand the mechanism of the made world, it is necessary to choose a method which takes account of the origin of matter and of that which set it in motion from above." Likewise, we will see the brain as a function of intelligence, not vice versa.

In short, "The synthesis of science and religion is not a theory, but rather the inner act of consciousness of adding the spiritual vertical to the scientific horizontal."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Wheel of Misfortune & the Merry Growround

I really want to get back to our pneumoanalysis of totalitarianism, but haven't had the time. So it's on to Letter X, the Wheel of Fortune, which I originally discussed in the context of a book by Fr. Seraphim Rose, which traces the dialectic of nihilism in the postmodern world through the stages of liberalism --> realism --> vitalism --> nihilistic destruction.

In case you can't make out the action in the card, our unKnown Friend of many years writes that it consists of "three figures in animal form of which two (the monkey and the dog) turn with the wheel, whilst the third (the sphinx) is beyond the movement of the wheel; he is seated on a platform above the wheel."

UF continues: "The monkey descends in order to rise again; the dog rises in order to descend again." Thus, without the sphinx above, the wheel "evokes the idea of a vain and absurd game."

Which indeed life is and must be in the absence of the transcendent "higher third" of which we have spoken in the past. The existence of this higher third, which accompanies us through life, is without a doubt the most shocking feature of this cosmos, and renders any form of materialism utterly beside the point (of life and even existence).

The conquest and colonization of this transcendent position is the true vocation of man, but obviously the vast majority of men prefer the dog and monkey show, as it informs every page of nocturnal metahistory -- by which we mean that the same returns or that history st-st-stutters. The plots change but the theme is pretty constant, otherwise we wouldn't recognize ourselves in the mirrors of revelation and literature.

UF goes on to enunciate the orthodox Raccoon position, which posits the existence of two metacosmic (meaning that they flow from outside time and space) movements (↓↑) that determine whether one's life will be a dreary wheel of misfortune or a veritable merry growround:

"The one is based on the idea of the Fall, i.e., degeneration and descent from above below."

Importantly -- and this is a cornerstone of the whole innerprize, so listen up -- "According to this class of ideas" -- which, of course, is from the vertical perspective -- "it is not the monkey who is the ancestor of man, but rather, on the contrary, it is man who is the ancestor of the monkey," the latter of which "is a degenerate and degraded descendent." After all, if there is evolution, then by definition there is both involution and devolution (which are simply movements on the vertical plane).

If you have difficulty with this concept, just remember the self-evident fact that, just as God is not in the cosmos, but rather, vice versa, man is not in the world. Rather, the world is essentially -- or a priori -- in the human soul. It's all in here, just waiting to be discovered and unpacked -- even atheism (but only in the devolving movement from man to monkey).

It cannot be emphasized too strangely that this inwardness is literally everything. Speaking of God, Meister Eckhart writes that "It is remarkable that anything should pour forth and yet remain within." This pouring forth takes place in the "deep within," so to speak, and "when I say the inmost, I mean the highest, and when I say the highest, I mean the inmost part of the soul -- there I mean them both together in one," a place "where time never entered." It is what we call the inmost upmost vertical bigending (p. 257).

UF continues: "The other class of ideas comprises the idea of evolution, i.e., progress transforming from below above. According to this category of ideas, it is the most primitive entity -- from the point of view of consciousness as well as biological structure -- which is the origin of all beings," and "which is their common ancestor."

So the Wheel of Fortune depicts a quasi-human entity who is on the way down. In contrast, the sphinx "represents the plane and stage of being from which the monkey is moving and towards which the dog is approaching." Now, "Does not the monkey lend itself marvelously to serve as a symbol of the animalization which is effected at the expense of the Angelic and human elements of the prototype being?"

Yes, of course. Man is poised between the two extremes of existence, the spiritual and the material. We are lured by vertical memoirs of the former and hypnotically seduced by misplaced hopes in the latter. Schuon has written that man is "condemned to the absolute," but I prefer to think of it as having a passion for wholeness and a gnostalgia for eternity. The one is aspiration, the other inspiration, or exhalation and inhalation. Our very breath reminds us of the rhythm of eternity.

An insurmountable problem with reductionistic Darwinism is that it only deals with half the circle, which ignores "the ultimate as well as the effective cause of the whole process of evolution," without which it is unintelligible (to the awakened intellect, not to tenured bipeds falling up the academic ladder). Darwinism will always be unintelligible in so far as it "refuses to accept the other half of the circle, that of involution."

Understood esoterically, evolution embodies the mystery of "Fall, perdition, redemption and salvation." As such, one must understand that Darwinism really is fully intelligible to people who have exiled themselves from the fulness of reality. But it would be incorrect to say that they have it "half right," for half of reality is actually no reality, being that it is analogous to living in the "outside" while denying the existence of an inside.

The metaphysical Darwinian is actually a passenger of evolution, not a witness, for to witness it is to have transcended it -- i.e., to have realized the full circle in the flesh. But of course it is an open circle, so that it constitutes the spiraling ontological and temporal structure of being.

Now back to the dialectics of nihilism. Let us stipulate that religion deals with absolute truth, or at least purports to do so. In the end, in the absence of absolute truth, the only option left open to an intellectually honest person is nihilism, because nihilism is simply the doctrine of relativity drawn out to its logical conclusion.

An honest nihilist such as Nietzsche realizes this: God is dead and therefore man becomes God and everything is possible. In the final analysis, the existence of God is the only thing that prevents the intellectually consistent human being from inevitably coming to the same stark conclusion as his Nietzsche brother: “I am God and all is permitted.” Nietzsche also knew full well that once the appeal to absolute truth is set aside, raw power comes in to fill the void. He wasn't necessarily suggesting that this is a good thing, only that it is. So deal with it.

Scientific or logical truth is by definition relative truth. Thanks to Gödel, we know that there is no system of logic that can fully account for itself, or that can be both consistent and complete. Rather, completeness is always purchased at the price of consistency, while a rigidly consistent system will be incomplete -- say, a consistent program of materialism or determinism. Such a philosophy will leave much of reality -- including the most interesting parts -- outside its purview. This is why Marxism is such an inadequate theory. In explaining everything, it explains nothing. But at least it’s rigidly consistent, like Darwinism.

But if there is no absolute there is only the relative, incoherent though that philosophy may be (for the existence of relativity, or degrees of being, proves the absolute, since the relative can only be assessed and judged -- or even perceived -- in light of the absolute). In the face of the the absolute we are easily able to judge various cultures on the basis of their proximity to the ideal.

But once we have destroyed the absolute and descended into relativity, then what necessarily follows is multiculturalism, moral relativism, deconstruction, “perception is reality,” etc. All cultures become equally cherished, with the exception of the culture that believes some cultures are better than others. All truths are privileged with the exception of Truth itself. Belief in Truth itself is "authoritarian" or "fascist."

Ironically, in the relative world of nihilism, I am necessarily all. The world literally revolves around I, since my truth is absolute. The ultimate questions have no answers except for those I might provide.

This is why leftist academia has become so corrupt, for how can it not be “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” (Rose).

The emptiness of relativism evokes the next stage in the nihilist dialectic, realism. This is a novel type of debased realism that entirely excludes the vertical and affirms that only the horizontal realm is real -- that is, the material, external, and quantifiable world. In one fallen swoop, this philosophy of unreality becomes the paradigmatic lens through which mankind is now supposed to view the world. Thus, we somehow purchase "reality" at the price of our own absolute unreality.

My book begins with a quote from Richard Weaver: “The modernistic searcher after meaning may be likened to a man furiously beating the earth and imagining that the finer he pulverizes it, the nearer he will get to the riddle of existence. But no synthesizing truths lie in that direction. It is in the opposite direction that the path must be followed.” Nevertheless, it is in this downward direction that our fall inevitably takes us.

Here philosophy is officially replaced by modern misosophy: hatred of wisdom. It is a childishly naive ideology that confuses what is most obvious with what is most true, and what is most fundamental with what is most real. The cosmos is officially turned upside-down and inside-out, incoherently elevating insentient matter to the the ultimate.

As Father Rose writes, “Worship of fact is by no means the love of truth; it is, as we have already suggested, parody. It is the presumption of the fragment to replace the whole; it is the proud attempt to build a Tower of Babel, a collection of facts, to reach to the heights of truth and wisdom from below.

"But truth is only attained by bowing down and accepting what is received from above. All the pretended ‘humility’ of Realist scholars and scientists... cannot conceal the pride of their collective usurpation of the throne of God...”

Such an individual “becomes a fanatical devotee of the only reality that is obvious to the spiritually blind: this world.” Human beings are reduced to races or classes, spiritual love to animal sex, higher needs to lower desires, while the earth is elevated to Goddess, the dramatic to the significant, the celebrity to the important. A new kind of human monster emerges -- for a monster is simply a human being existing outside the human archetype -- and takes his place a bit lower than the beasts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Is Reality Real, or Just a Name?

We left off Friday with unKnown Friend's explanation of how Christianity in general and the Hermit in particular reconcile the three great antinomies with which any philosophy must grapple, the first one being idealism <---> realism.

The next antinomy is realism <---> nominalism -- which can be confusing, since this type of realism is the opposite of that discussed in Friday's post.

Recall that realism originally referred to the objective reality of abstract universals or platonic forms. But in the sense we will be discussing today, realism is closer to naturalism, since it denies objective reality to transcendent archetypes, and instead grants real existence only to particulars, otherwise known as nominalism.

As UF notes, a realist in the former sense sense of the term is an extreme idealist, e.g., Plato. For Plato, the idea is more real than the things of the world, which are just "copies." But for the nominalist, these so-called objective ideas are nothing more than words which have no independent reality.

Not to get too far ahead of oursophists, but this seemingly innocuous fork in the philosophical road eventually wends its way to deconstruction, multiculturalism, moral relativism,"positive liberties," "gay marriage," etc., the whole catastrophe.

For example, marriage is a natural right that exists prior to the state, and it is not for the state to invent or redefine the archetypes that make us human. Therefore, to promulgate the fantasy that members of the same sex can live in a state of marriage is a kind of barbaric assault on reality. It is mean-spirited, offensive, bigoted, and phobic of reality.

Any scientist who actually takes the trouble to think deeply is a philosophical realist. For example, there is no great mathematician who is not an explicit or implicit Platonist. G. H. Hardy, in his A Mathematician's Apology, wrote that "It would be difficult now to find an educated man quite insensitive to the aesthetic appeal of mathematics.... A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas."

If we consider the whole idea of creation -- i.e., the cosmos....

Wait, let's stop right there: the idea of the cosmos. For that is what it is: an idea. No one has ever seen the cosmos. But it is incorrect to say we just "assume" it exists. Rather, we know in our bones that it exists -- that is, the strict totality of all interacting objects and events, which is a shadow of the Absolute.

There is no part of reality that exists independently of this Absolute. The interior wholeness we see at every level of reality is simply a fractal reflection, or distant echo, of this Absolute. It is what accounts for the organicism of organisms, the nonlocality of locality, the unity of the human subject, and the inner coherence of science.

The realist (i.e., idealist) says that "the general is anterior to the particular" (deduction). The nominalist says that "the particular is anterior to the general" (induction).

Here again, we see how this plays out at the local level, with disastrous consequences. For example, for the left, the collective is more real than the individual, which is why liberals are untroubled by person A getting together with person B in order to appropriate the earnings of person C and give them to person D, so that person D will vote for, and grant more power to, persons A and B.

But the Founders knew that the individual was real and that this individuality was rooted in his liberty, which is the very means through which we become more real -- or realize our reality. It is this idea of liberty which is ultimately real, and which creates the possibility of real individuals (in other words, without liberty, our ideal "created" self will not be able to actualize in time; or, Image cannot embark upon the journey to Likeness).

But for the left, it is only in its concrete particulars that liberty is real, i.e, "positive liberties." In other words, liberty is not real unless the government somehow creates it and gives it to you in the form of cash, favors, and other valuable prizes. You might say that negative liberty preserves the ideal reality of liberty, whereas positive liberty ends in its negation.

For the nominalist, "truth, beauty and goodness do not exist for it as objective realities, and are only a matter of taste," that great leveler of the hierarchical cosmos. One cannot argue with a nominalist, because their first cognitive act is to dismantle the very cognitive scaffolding that makes higher thought possible.

In truth, we clearly need both, i.e., realism and nominalism: "We cannot dispense with realism if we attach any value to the existence of objective truth (science) and trans-subjective truth (religion)."

How to come up with a punchline for this yoke? It's easy, at least if one is lucky enough to have been born in Christendom: "The 'problem' of universals was resolved in the spiritual history of mankind by the fact of the Incarnation, where the fundamental universal of the world -- the Logos -- became Jesus Christ, who is the fundamental particular of the world."

Here, the universal of universals, the very principle of intelligibility, the Logos, became the particular of particulars, the very prototype of the personality, Jesus Christ.

In the words of Eckhart, "he who is devoted to justice is taken up by justice, seized by justice, becomes one with justice." And the just man "is free, and the closer he is to justice, the closer he is to freedom, and the more he is freedom itself."

Which is why for the Raccoon, spiritual knowledge is embodied knowledge or it is no knowledge at all, just nice sounding words.