Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thoughts without a Thinker and Beauties without a Soul

Okay, there is a superabundance of great beauty in the world. But what is beauty? And how did it get here? Was it here before Homo sapiens arrived on the scene? Or is it only a meaningless projection of human sensibilities? But how did we get those sensibilities?

Well, whatever it is, we know that it was here before us. For example, when we look out into a starry starry night, we register events from millions of years ago, with light that has been traveling billions of miles in search of eyes to see it.

It reminds me of Bion's adage that thoughts are prior to the thinker, and that it is necessary for the thinker to come into being in order to think the thoughts. Otherwise the thoughts are all over the place, with no center and no coherence, like the Democratic platform.

"Beauty is a crystallization of some aspect of universal joy; it is something limitless expressed by means of a limit" (Schuon, emphasis mine). In this formulation, beauty is both the container (which Bion symbolized ♀) and contained (symbolized ♂).

Thus, beauty may be understood as a kind of explosive force within a limiting boundary (oops! a dirty world), but both of these are orthoparadoxically necessary in order for beauty to be presence (or presence to be beautiful). You need both ♀ and ♂ to create a baby. We refer to this as the "cosmic beauty-call."

In a painting, the boundary, or container, is the canvas and frame; in a poem, the meter or rhyme scheme; in a song, the rhythm, harmony, and melody; in a play, the stage. Remove the "limiting boundary" and there is no way to even perceive the work of art, because it is not set off from the rest of reality.

Note also that this explains how the work of the true artist "spills over," beyond the confines of its container. It is somewhat like the phenomenon of "headroom" in audiophile lingo. If you want to get the best performance out of a good pair of speakers, you need to have much more power than they technically require.

In my case -- at least since I splurged on a new Luxman integrated last year -- I barely have to turn up the volume in order to power my speakers. The distance between this and the full capacity of the amp is the "headroom." A less powerful amp will still power the speakers, but you will be able to detect the "strain" at high volumes.

I suppose it's a little like acceleration vs. speed. A Porsche and a Pinto can both travel 90 mph, but one of them is going to show the strain, like this metaphor. In fact, my first car was a Pinto Wagon, and its engine blew up at 40 mph. Literally.

There are a handful of singers who are instantly recognizable for the amount of headroom behind their voice, for example, Van Morrison, Sinatra c. 1950 to 1965, Ray Charles c. 1953-1961, Aretha c. 1966-1975, Howlin' Wolf almost anytime, Roy Orbison. There is so much power behind their voices, that it's always a little shocking. Inferior singers have to work to reach the same place, but you can always hear the strain. (I also think of Louis Armstrong's insanely powerful playing in the 1920s. So much force!)

It reminds me of something someone once said about Shakespeare: his writing must have come easily to him, because if it didn't, it would have been impossible. In other words, no amount of mere struggle could have achieved such an aesthetic grace.

As it pertains to the world -- well, first of all, let's see you create one! Even if you could, it would require straining all your abilities to the breaking point, to put it mildly. But the vast cosmic headroom between Creator and creation explains how so much beauty is effortlessly cranked out, with plenty of power in reserve.

The world is apparently the boundary, or frame, around God's canvas. This would explain how it is that when we are in the presence of a great natural wonder, we are always aware of the implicit power beneath the beauty. We call this intuition "awe."

Now, as our unKnown Friend explains, the idea of the world as a work of art is implicit in Genesis, being that existence is a result of a creative act. In my opinion, so-called creationists focus way too much on the inevitable result of the act, rather than the act itself, the latter of which constitutes the very source and essence of creativity.

While the boundary is necessary in order to see the painting, you don't go to a museum in order to admire the frames. Rather, they should become "invisible," so to speak, and be there in support of the "explosive force" within them. Just so, the world-frame always overflows with the unique stylings of its profligate Author.

In this regard, it is critical to bear in mind that the cosmogony of Genesis is an essentially vertical, not horizontal, one. When Genesis says "In The Beginning," it really means in the beginning of the eternal creative act that is always happening now and which sustains the cosmos.

This is not merely an eccentric Bobservation, but standard Thomistic philosophy. "In the beginning" refers not to the temporal beginning, but to the atemporal beginning, or the beginning of time as such -- which "flows" from (and back to) eternity. It is the metaphysical, not the physical beginning , i.e., the "big bang." The vertical bang of which we speak is neither "big" nor "small," since there is nothing to compare it to. In fact, it's not even a bang. Just.... O.

Therefore, as Aquinas knew, "God is necessary as an uncaused cause of the universe even if we assume that the universe has always existed and thus had no beginning. The argument is not that the world wouldn't have got started if God hadn't knocked down the first domino at some point in the distant past; it is that it wouldn't exist here and now, or undergo change or exhibit final causes here and now unless God were here and now, and at every moment, sustaining it in being, change, and goal-directedness" (Feser).

In short, the "first cause" is above, not behind. But because it is above, it is necessarily ahead, which is in turn why the present cosmos is the "shadow" of its final fulfillment: "I am Alpha and Omega."

Similarly, as Perry observes, "from the cosmological perspective, creation is a progressive exteriorization of that which is principially interior, an alternation between the essential pole and the substantial pole of a Single Principle."

Again, of the two, essence is the more interior, and therefore takes priority. Essence could never be derived from substance alone, which is one more reason why it is absurd to insist that consciousness could ever be derived from matter.

What?

Oh yes. Petey would like to remind us that this is one of the points of the obscure phrase "One's upin a timeless," at the beginning of the book. It refers to the Creator's eternal activity. Translated into proper English, we might say something like "the One is always present up there in the timeless creative beginning that always is."

In any event, just as we must develop a thinker to think the thoughts, we must cultivate the soul in order to apprehend all the beauty. If you can both think and create -- or even appreciate their work -- you're roughly halfway home in this halfway house.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Where there's Holy Smoke there's Celestial Fire

We've completed all but one chapter in our three-month meditation on Meditations on the Tarot. With all that behind us, we have a pretty good sense of what we are. Now it's time to shift gears and find out what the world is.

Naturally, we tend to conflate the world with our characteristic way of knowing it, but it is always "more" than this or that point of view, something the materialist seems constitutionally incapable of appreciating.

I mean, who can disagree that the world is composed of matter? But only matter? C'mon. Who says so, a tenured rock? And if that is the case, why are there university departments other than geology?

All historical periods have their share of stupidities, man being what he is. The danger in ours -- because it is spiritually fatal -- is to regard the world as nothing more than a reflection of our lowest way of knowing it.

Just because the world may be known scientifically, it hardly means that it is nothing more than the material object disclosed by science. If this were the case, the world would be too simple to account for the existence of even the most simpleminded materialist.

Think about it for a moment: we all know that it is wrong to treat a human being as a material object. This is an example of our intrinsic morality, something we cannot not know unless we have attended graduate school. The rest of us know that a person is infinitely more than a sackful of meat, blood, and bones.

Nor is man a statistic, a socioeconomic class, a sexual orientation, a tax bracket, or a race -- for these are all just neo-Marxist elaborations of the same sick idea -- but a person, a unique and unrepeatable individual with his own inviolable interior.

A person necessarily includes materiality while always transcending it. Our true identity could never be a function of any materialist doctrine, if for no other reason than it unfolds through time, and cannot be unambiguously given in space, as can a material object. (And even that is no longer accurate, since the quantum world consists of vibrating patterns of energy flow, and vibrations necessarily require time.)

Back to our last arcanum, The World. It is indeed no coincidence that this is the last word and final card, for the sum total of our previous meditations should begin to facilitate an ability to regard the world as a work of art, with all this implies.

Now, intellect is to truth as will is to virtue and love is to beauty. It's quite simple, really: Truth is what we must know and be; good is what we must nurture and do; and beauty is what we must love and create. Now, grow away and sin no more.

Being that beauty is the splendor of the true, there is a deep and abiding connection between truth and beauty, or knowledge and art, for surely art is a way of deeply knowing beautiful truths about the world that are inaccessible to science per se (although, as we all know, aesthetics enters science through the side door, for example, in the beauty of mathematics).

More than any other theologian of whom I am aware (with the possible exception of Balthasar), Schuon has the deepest understanding of the role of beauty in the cosmic economy. He said many brilliant things about the subject, but here are a few, conveniently taken from a book that is soon to be republished, Echoes of Perennial Wisdom:

"The cosmic, and more particularly the earthly, function of beauty is to actualize in the intelligent and sensitive creature the recollection of essences, and thus to open the way to the luminous night of the one and infinite Essence."

In other words, essence is opposed to existence as substance is to form. Just as the function of man's intelligence is to discern between appearance and reality, the function of the aesthetic sense is to discern between form and essence, the latter of which is always more inward, whether it is hidden in a poem, painting, musical performance -- or in the world itself.

In ether worlds, the latter has an inner ethereal essence that reveals itself in the mode of formal beauty -- which is why this ineffable divine beauty is only everywhere.

I noticed a trivial example of this the other day while out mountain biking. The bike trail winds through "virgin nature," which, for reasons that are indeed mysterious, is essentially always beautiful -- even the random patterns of rocks strewn about always seem "just so," as if carefully arranged by a Japanese painter or landscape artist.

But along the trail I saw a piece of broken concrete. I have no idea how it got there, but it didn't belong. Frankly, it was ugly, and was obviously out of place. It was an aesthetic error, which, when you think about it, is an interesting way of putting it, for it again emphasizes that there is surely truth in beauty, and therefore the possibility of error.

Schuon: "Beauty is a reflection of Divine Bliss; and since God is Truth, the reflection of His Bliss will be that mixture of happiness and truth which is to be found in all beauty.... The beauty of the sacred is a symbol or a foretaste of, and sometimes a means to, the joy that God alone possesses.... Sacred art helps man to find his own center, that kernel whose nature is to love God.... The sacred is an apparition of the Center, it immobilizes the soul and turns it towards the inward."

Yes. Just as truth is a reflection of the "divine light," beauty bubbles over with the divine joy.

Our beautiful unKnown friend writes that "the world is fundamentally neither a mechanism, nor an organism, nor even a social community -- neither a school on a grand scale nor a pedagogical institution for living beings -- but rather a work of divine art: at one and the same time a choreographic, musical, poetic, dramatic work of painting, sculpture and architecture."

Now, what if man actually subsisted in the bloodless and desiccated world of scientistic fantasy, devoid of intrinsic beauty? In addition to being an "impossible world" -- existence as such being an exteriorization of the divine beauty -- our very lives would be a cold and joyless task, like removing the Guy Ritchie tattoos from Madonna's wizened hide, or being married to Harry Reid.

Well, that is all I have time for this morning. Must get ready for work. To be continued.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Quinquagenarian

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a waltblog trundling down the digital highway and this waltblog had a passage by Franklin Merrell-Wolff which elaborates on what we were saying yesterday about manifesting one's destiny or becoming oneself, which you'd think is unavoidable but it is:

"I find that, as the days go by, there is a re-organization and consolidation of life about a new center. The thrill of new Awakening, that at first so dominates and sweeps personal consciousness, gradually becomes a quiet steadiness on a level of new confidence. I cannot say I feel any regret for the old life. I do not find any inhibition that would restrain me from dipping into any phase of old experience if I desired and found it convenient to do so. I do not feel the restless urge for outer adventure that formerly I felt so strongly."

The thing about real spiritual growth -- like any real growth -- is that it brings changes that one wouldn't necessarily have willed, any more than, say, a pre-pubescent child wills puberty.

Or, to paraphrase George Costanza, just when you get used to puberty, here comes middle age and all its attendant changes. I was finally comfortable with being uncomfortable with myself, and now I'm back in high school again, a freshman quinquagenarian. Hope I don't get hazed by the sextagenarian, septuagenarian, and octogenarian stalemen!

Likewise, sometimes, or perhaps usually, spiritual change can be rather disorienting, as the old interests that once oriented oneslife "drop away" and one reorganizes around a new center. This "unexpectedness" is one of the hallmarks of real change and growth -- a kind of seal of authenticity -- and it is again the exact opposite of that which is typically promised by the new agers and integralists, such as this appalling gobshite:


Look at that scheming visage. Would you pay cash money for used or even new karma from a guy like that?

If one attempts to will spiritual change from below, one generally ends up with a bloated and vainglorious ego, not any kind of genuine spiritual transformation, which requires surrender and then acceptance, even resignation, not to mention trials, pop quizzes, and a final exam, before anything is accomplished, let alone It.

But if you know ahead of time that you will simply be granted whatever your wretched ego desires, what kind of change is that? This will not redeem the ego, but further harden it by fostering the illusion that it can have perfect happiness on its own terms, in its spiritually fallen state. Schuon expresses it well:

"We must tend towards Perfection because we understand it and therefore love it, and not because we desire that our ego should be perfect. In other terms, we must love and realize a virtue because it is true and beautiful, and not because it would become us if we possessed it.... One must realize the virtues for their own sake, and not in order to make them 'mine'.... Moreover, it is not we who possess a virtue, it is a virtue which possesses us."

A state sponsored (via PBS) schlack peddler such as Dyer would be out of business if he spoke the dire truth, which is more like Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God. Dyer is practicing the satanic arts (I mean that literally, not in a polemical or insulting manner), in that he is simply employing such commonplace modes as seduction and hypnosis over the spiritually untutored and unchurched, who will believe "anything." Like Schuon, he would sell few books if he were to convey hard spiritual truths such as

"Much is said about the subtle illusions and seductions which lead the spiritual pilgrim astray from the straight path and provoke his fall. Now, these illusions can only seduce him who desires some benefit for himself, such as powers or dignities or glory." But he who "seeks nothing earthly, so that he is indifferent to being forgotten by the world," "such a man possesses true poverty and nothing can seduce him."

This is what I meant the other day in my comment about being "beyond cynicism." These vulgar atheists imagine that they are the cynics, but I went through that phase by the time I was ten or eleven years old. To put it another way, people like Dawkins and Harris, or ex-people such as Hitchens, are speaking from and to ten year old rebellious cynics. Done there been that.

Me, I'm am also beyond nihilism, as I've circled back round to the great Nothing-Everything that is its source and ground. For "In true poverty, there remains only existence pure and simple, and existence is in its essence Being, Consciousness and Beatitude. In poverty there remains nothing more for man than what he is, thus all that is" (Schuon).

It is not that matter or sensation are shunned -- perish the thought! -- but that our priorities are straight, and we have the proper balance between inner and outer, celestial and terrestrial, I and Thou. The point is not to deny the exterior, but "to remove oneself from its seductive tyranny" (Schuon). In real spiritual transformation, the inner takes precedence over the outer, through which the latter becomes "enriched" in a compensatory manner. The converse can never occur -- that is, enriching your exterior will never result in an interior transformation of the spiritual substance, only in a dying sack of tool's gold which you'll be forced to take with you.

To put it another way, you cannot will your destiny, at least until you have truly recognized it. And even then, once it is recognized, one mainly senses it in subtle ways, such as a sense of "being on the right track."

I would compare it to a kind of vehicle that is guided by a nonlocal morphogenetic field. It is like trying to learn how to steer within this nonlocal field, and one must be quite sensitive to do this. I imagine it is somewhat similar to how certain animals have an interior guidance system that allows them to migrate back home, only transposed to a higher key. We all have this spiritual homing device as part of our standard equipment, but it is not like a two-dimensional map, much less a linear train track.

This oming deivoice allows us to apprehend ever so subtle indicators that our idiom is near -- in abook, aperson, amyth, avision, adaydream, anobject, anandithing. It is as if we project it slightly ahead of ourselves, and respond to the projection. To have "no direction" is the quintessence of the spiritually alienated state. One of the most painful consequences of the hellhounds of clinical depression and anxiety is that they rob the person of spiritual direction, and therefore meaning.

On the other hound, depression can be a sort of "divine gift" if one uses it as an occasion to reclaim one's spiritual destiny and get back on the right track. Indeed, I would imagine that most Raccoons have at one time or another been shown their fate in the form of depression, despair, meaninglessness, etc., which was then a jumping off point for rediscovering their destiny.

The fated person, as Bollas writes, "is fundamentally interred in an internal world of self and object representations that endlessly repeat the same scenarios," and "has very little sense of a future that is at all different from the internal environment they carry around with them. The sense of fate is a feeling of despair to influence the course of one's life." Not for nothing is Groundhog Day considered one of the more profound spiritual parables ever to make it to film.

"A sense of destiny, however, is a different state, when the person feels he is moving in a personality progression that gives him a sense of steering his course." It is as if the future is able to "reach back" or down and touch the now, whereas the fated person is trapped by the past reaching forward and strangling the present:

"Instead of feeling the energy of the destiny drive and of 'possessing' futures which nourish the person in the present and creatively serve to explore pathways for potential travel, the fated person only projects the oracular" -- by which Bollas means the oppressive and mystifying voice of the dead and unalterable past. As a result, they "repress" their own living future, as it is just too painful to contemplate what might have been if only it could have been.

Sometimes, such a person will wallow in their fate as a way to compensate for the loss of their destiny -- like amor fati, minus the amor). Here again, one thinks of the victim culture of the left. But this is a real sin, for man has a right "to suffer from an injustice in so far as he cannot rise above it, but he must make an effort to do so; in no case has he the right to sink into a pit of bitterness, for such an attitude leads to hell" (Schuon).

Mother.... prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels. Amen. So be it! Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. --Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Restless Brain Syndrome and the Quest for the Perfect Word

My mission here -- in case you're wondering -- is to help scattered members of the vertical diaspora discover their destiny and thereby reclaim the slack that is their cosmic birthright. For the rest of you unrepentant assouls, there's nothing I can do but irritate you. But even that would be enough for me, since my needs are few and my amusements simple.

The inalienable slack of which we speak is yours to keep and enjoy, even if it has been stolen, squandered, or given away. In a certain sense slack is all you have, but what you do with it is another matter entirely. Slack isn't just time, but time well spent -- which means that it purchases, or perhaps ransoms, something or someone.

America's founding generation risked all -- their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor -- to prevent Great Britain from yoinking our slack, and in order to establish a new empire of slack on earth.

But that was hardly the end of it. For example, we had to fight a seevil war against internal slack thieves who imagined that certain categories of human being weren't only entitled to nøslack, but that their own slack depended upon this theft.

It is no different today with the misguided OWSers and other radical leftists who imagine that retrieving their missing slack is somehow dependent upon stealing the slack of some other arbitrarily defined group. They absurdly call these targets of hatred and envy the "one percent" -- as if the latter have somehow stolen all of the slack for themselves!

But I would be willing to bet my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor that I have more slack than most of these so-called one percent. How can this be? Well, for starters, I don't fritter away my slack by sitting around at organized temper tantrums and complaining that I have none. If that is how you choose to dissipate your slack, don't blame people who choose different means to waste theirs. Unless being the CEO of Home Depot is your idea of fun. In which case, go for it!

Wait. Isn't slack just some dollar figure? And isn't there a finite amount of dollars?

Please. This is like saying that homelessness is caused by a shortage of inches and feet. If we could just distribute more rulers and tape measures to contractors, they can start using them to build houses!

You don't see Korean or Vietnamese immigrants risking their lives to make it to America, only to complain after they get here that all the slack is gone. Why? Because they appreciate slack and know how to use it. Indeed, if not for state sponsored racial discrimination, most of the students in the UC system would be Asian.

Now, spending time among the tenured is not my idea of slack, but what business is it of the state to say that only a certain percentage of Asian Americans are permitted to do so? I couldn't care less if every victim of tenure were Asian, any more than I would care if every deli owner were Jewish. So what? As long as I'm not forced to read academic drivel and can get a good pastrami sandwich, I'll be happy.

In a free society such as ours, slack theft is usually an "inside job." In short, it is a result of mind parasites, the internal saboteurs that covertly appropriate our destiny and subject us to fate.

Thus, there is Fate. And there is Destiny. Although often used interchangeably, they are actually -- for our purposes, anyway -- opposites. You might say that fate is the destiny imposed by the dead hand of the past, while destiny is the fate opened up by our living future. Allow me to explain.

The term "destiny drive" was coined by Christopher Bollas, and is discussed in his book Forces of Destiny. However, he's really just reframing established psychoanalytic ideas and presenting them in a more modern theoretical context. Plus he's an excellent writer, which is a rare commodity in the humanities and subhumanities.

The context just alluded to regards the mind as intrinsically intersubjective and "object related," as opposed to being more like a hydraulic machine driven to discharge instinctual tension. To put it another way, man's primary motivation is always relationship, not instinctual pleasure. Yes, we seek the latter, but ideally in the context of the former. The alternative is what we call cosmic ønanism, or he with no shedonism.

(Of course, in our world this ultimately derives from relationship to and with O, whereas psychoanalysis is a secular enterprise that is often hostile to religiosity. The former view has long been recognized, for example, by Augustine, who said something to the effect that our souls don't rest in peace til they rest in God. This is just another way of saying that anything short of relating to the Absolute, the ultimate principle, will cause restless brain syndrome.)

Now, the question is, how does the true self actualize and undergo development, or deveilop in the wondergrowth? Bollas's thesis is that it is through the discovery of one's unique idiom, which you might say is the signature of the true self: human idiom is that peculiarity of person(ality) that finds its own being through the particular selection and use of the object. In this sense, to be and to appropriate are one.

(And "idiom" is not limited to language, music, painting, etc., but can be anything through which we express our true self. For some people, their life itself is the idiom of expression, even if they leave no recorded traces of it. Parenting might be an example of this. My son has become my idiom in ways I had scarcely -- or only -- imagined. No him, no me!)

In other words, you might say that the true self is a preconceptual logos, or nonlocal clueprint, that must discover those objects it requires in order to elaborate itself and "live." In this regard, Bollas says that the self's idiom is "akin to a kind of personality speech, in which the lexical elements are not word signifiers but factors of personality."

There is no real being in the absence of this articulation of one's idiom, only a kind of paradoxical "negative being," i.e., ø, which is very close to the patent nonsense of e-i-e-i-ø.

Or, to turn it around, when you cannot articulate your idiom, your life will feel somewhat like a prison, whatever the outward circumstances. For example, many feminists choose to live this way, because it is less painful for them to imagine that the bars of their prison are outside their minds.

Recall what we said yesterday about the centrality of liberty, because I've forgotten already. Oh, right: in the absence of liberty, it is very unlikely that you will be able to discover your own unique idiom, which is again the key to the articulation of the true self.

Private property is a fundamental expression (and prerequisite) of liberty, and the most precious property is oneSelf (or we its, to be exact). But without secure private property, how can the self appropriate what it needs to speak its idiom? If those things are determined by the state, or by political correctness, or by scientistic fairy tales, the self is sharply constrained in its ability to find its real idiom.

You could also say that when you fail to find your idiom, you will feel as if you are haunted by a kind of fate that blankets your life, and from which you cannot escape. More on which tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

You're Not Special, You're a Jackass

First, an ironyclad point of orthoparadox: our thesis is that the normotic person is not normal in the cosmic sense of the term, i.e., in conformity to his nonlocal archetype. Rather, he has a pseudo-normality that conceals and oppresses a true self which has been developmentally stunted somewhere along the lyin'.

We are coming at this from a conservative classical liberal point of view, in which (to plagiaphrase someone) individuality is freedom lived. But one might just as easily reverse the terms and say: freedom is individuality lived. It should go without saying that you are only truly free when you are yourself. Otherwise, who is free? And for what?

What is freedom? The individual. What is the individual? Freedom.

However, freedom is not at all synonymous with an absence of constraint, which would immediately reduce to nihilism. Rather, genuine freedom is always freedom for. Thus, we may speak of the "yoke of freedom"; or, wisely crack that man is condemned to freedom (and to truth, which really rubs insalt to the injury).

Actually, we prefer "liberty," which is perhaps the second most important Raccoon macro-value after Truth. And in fact, you cannot have one without the other, for one must be free to discover truth, and truth is what sets one free; this is why the compulsory truths of, say, political correctness, or of reductionistic Darwinism, involve an intrinsic contradiction. To say that "I am a contingent assemblage of selfish genes" is to say that "I am a moron. Please ignore me."

You might say that Truth + Liberty = Authentic Being. Being that the left denies absolute or transcendental truth, we can have nothing in common with them. Or, we have in common a fallen self which we re-cognize and they don't.

And being that they believe in positive liberties granted by the state instead of negative ones protected by the state, there is again no common measure between us. In exchange for political power, the leftist substitutes for timeless truth the petty dictates of time-bound political correctness, which strangles the individual and nourishes the hardened collective ego.

Belief in permanent truths results in the ordered liberty, or "disciplined mischief," of the Raccoon. To deny them results in mere horizontal license, and in a system that cannot be sustained. To the extent that such freaks appear "unconventional," it it is in a blandly predictable and drearily conformist manner (the "herd of independent minds"). There is nothing individual, much less creative, about a Madonna and her legions of cultural spawna. She can only engage in a kind of reactionary parasitic "anti-normotic" illness that mimics actual creativity and true selfhood. How daring! Life reduced to one long wardrobe malfunction.

Most of these dramatic deviations and disturbances may appear to be signs of "empowerment," but are really just another form of psychic slave rebellion from a self that is the actual slaver. Bollas writes of how certain homosexual's "adornment in exaggerated representations of the subjective element can be a defiance of the normotic way of life. Where the normotic parent may have stressed 'reasonable' thinking, the homosexual may espouse the superiority of anti-reason. Where the normotic parent never tolerated the controversial, the homosexual may become perversely addicted to collecting controversies."

Bollas adds that compulsive sexual promiscuity among many homosexuals "has the character of a material phenomenon, and is in part an inverted representation of the normotic illness." Honest and self-aware homosexuals will know exactly what Bollas is referring to. The rest will feel victimized, which is to take a secret pleasure in participating in one's own auto-subjection. It is also abnormal, so you can't win. Or whine. Check mate.

If we take a godseye view and consider the world a work of art, the genuine artistic co-creator is an archetypal example of freedom lived, or of potential actualized, at least in the aesthetic sphere.

For example, in a banalogy I have used before, I am "free" to play the saxophone, but not in any meaningful way, unless I undergo the years of discipline it takes to transcend mere freedom and transform it into something higher. Although a cosmic master of sonic vibration is much more constrained than I am when he places the sax in his blowhole, those musical constraints -- or boundary conditions -- are precisely analogous to the intrinsic truths that allow oneself to ascend to its proper soul station.

Just so, to deny the intrinsic spiritual truths that in-form the soul is like trying to play the sax without harmony, melody, chords, rhythm, pacing, etc. But conversely, to only conform to these moral truths in a rigid, exterior way, without realizing and assimilating their inner meaning, can result in a superficially good and decent person, but still, something will be missing... *cough* romney *cough*...

That something is the true self. And for the true self, truth, virtue, and beauty fundamentally involve consciousness of a plane of reality, not conformity to a rigid exterior model. I don't just want my son to "be good." Rather, I want him to know, understand, and love goodness. Nor do I want him to take the easy path of the tenured, and merely obtain good grades without being intelligent.

Our essentialist idea of a true self parts ways with the existentialists in all their variety, who believe that the self is entirely self-made, so to speak. First of all, the true self cannot possibly be self-made -- any more than you could make your liver or kidneys. It is an organ, except that it is a multi-dimensional organ that transcends space and time, at least to a certain extent. But the fact that the self may know timeless truth proves that its ultimate source is outside time.

Like all other organs, the self requires time in order to reach maturity. But the function of the self is much more complex compared to, say, the kidneys, which mostly have the one task of filtering blood.

The self, on the other hand, has the ongoing task of metabolizing and synthesizing internal, external, past, present, and transpersonal experience into a higher subjective unity. This is why you might say that the self is man's first "hyperdimensional virtual organ," so to speak. It is just as busy as the heart or lungs, except that it accomplishes its feats in a higher space that obviously exceeds three or four dimensions (cf. the phenomenon of dreaming).

In turn, this is why the normotic personality may appear outwardly normal, even while living a life in which he systematically denies the sufficient reason for man's existence. From the human standpoint, it can never be "normal" to be a radical atheist or leftist, for both of these categories prevent man from discovering transcendent truth and becoming what he is -- from actualizing his real nonlocal potential.

Yesterday I mentioned the "destiny drive," which is to the self as final cause is to biology. Biology is incoherent in the absence of final causation, in that each organ obviously has a function to fulfill within the context of the whole, and failure to achieve this function is the very definition of pathology. In other words, we can only know about sickness because there is a thing called "health" (which with good reason is etymologically related to wholeness).

But what was the Self designed to do? Well, if you are a Darwinist, it is a moot question, because the self reduces to biology, which in turn reduces to physics, which has no purpose at all. This down-and-backward looking metaphysic hurls the self against the dead rocks of the cosmic past (HT Vanderleun), so it can actualize no intrinsically real future, i.e., destiny.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Slipping Through the Net of Normality: It's Always a Midwife Crisis

... now that we're down to just us three, we can finally get into the deeper stuff without fear of distortion and misunderstanding by all those other impenetrable readers. Good riddance! As long as I have an audience of One -- or multiples thereof -- that's all I ask.

Continuing with yesterday's line of thought: just what causes the tragedy of normality? You might say that it is the result of an immaculate conception, minus the conception part. Thus, it is a misconception. Except it isn't immaculate. A dirty misconception, I guess. A misbegotten bastard. Or, bitter yet, let's call it a postnatal abortion, because that's what it is -- unless, of course, man isn't subject to a series of births that constitute the totality of his life. But that would be absurd. We're all bornagain annagain annagain, 'til weewakes and our soily river finds its salty sea.

As Christopher Bollas explains, "it is striking how this person [the Normal] seems to be unborn" (emphasis mine). Such individuals -- and you all know at least one, probably more than one -- often appear to be "content and happy" on the surface, but are in fact "lost in the concrete," and therefore never make the full leap into what Bollas calls the "originating subjectivity which informs our use of the symbolic."

I hope that isn't too jargony, because Bollas is an exceptionally deep and lucid thinker who is as clear as it is possible to be in these dark maters. The takeaway point is that our originating subjectivity is prior to the symbolic (which is the realm of the Father). This flies in the farce of most contemporary thought, which essentially equates the two: in this metaphysic, we can have no stable or enduring essence, only a contingent bagful of symbols -- somewhat like an inescapable kaleidescope, in which a new image appears merely by rearranging the particles. While this is true of the tenured -- hence the compulsion to publish their ephemeral patterns -- it is not a general principle that applies to everyone.

Bollas goes on to say that since the Normal doesn't "perceive himself as a subject, he does not ask to be seen by the other," nor is he able to look deeply into the other. That italicized part is key, for these people have no conscious desire for true subject-to-subject contact. They cannot make real contact with themselves, and therefore, others.

But real contact always involves this two-way -- actually, three-way -- contact, consisting of knower-known-knowledge. Not only is it a kind of in-spiraling process, but -- as you might have anticipated -- none of the three can be radically separated from each other. They are siblings, as it were -- triplets.

This can be formulated in various ways. For example, it is a true Ism and Usm that knowledge of others is limited by self-knowledge. Indeed, we can go beyond this, and affirm that knowledge of anything is limited by self-knowledge, because if one doesn't even know what the self is, why should we care about what it pretends to know? And I'm talkin' to you, Charles Rhesus Darwin!

(As we've mentioned before, one of the reasons the Constitution is so durable -- why it amounts to "political scripture" -- is that it is rooted in a sober and accurate assessment of that scoundrel, human nature. Which is why job one of the left is to attack human nature as a means to change the plain meaning of the document.)

We can also look at it from the other angle, from the perspective of the known. This is one of the ways faith operates, in that it involves acceptance of truths that have the effect of shaping the knower, and saving him from all manner of potential falls. This type of truth is like the yeast in the bread, or better, the pesticide in the rathole of the skull.

In the past, we have discussed how rapidly one may determine the intersubjective depth -- or crapacity -- of the other, which will be felt as an almost physical constraint one cannot get past -- or, alternatively, a kind of expansive and liberating space. The latter type of relationship is quite literally a blessing, and in fact, the first blessing is the infinite com-passion of the m-Other, who reaches into us as we reach into her. It is within this fertile space that we are subjectively "con-ceived" (or in which our potential subject is first actual-ized).

Yesterday I cited the example of Tristan's friend, whose mother is slowly driving him insane. To be in her presence is to confront a wall -- a wall which her son will have to try to somehow get beyond later in life, by which time the damage will have been done. His growth will be stunted until he can have an intimate bond with an other who can relate to who he actually is. As things stand, his mother only relates to what she projects into him, which will be internalized as a bad and rejected self. Such a person will have difficulty loving others, because he will want to protect others from his bad and unlovable self.

The real tragedy is that in order to adapt to this kind of parent, the child must excise parts of himself, so that he too becomes a psychic stillborn.

Luckily for me -- although it was painful at the time -- I was consciously aware from an early age that my parents mostly interacted with an image of me instead of the actual me, and I think this is what saved me. Had I not been aware of this empathic failure on their part, I too may have met the fate of the unborn. Or, let us say that I suffered only a partial birth abortion, in that part of me survived the procedure and was able to resuscitate the rest.

Here is how Bollas describes it: "At the most fundamental level, the normotic was only partly seen by the mother and father, mirrored by parents whose reflective ability was dulled, yielding only the glimmer of an outline of self to a child." This is an example of something that is as deeply problematic as, say, the need to vaccinate all children against various diseases. But because it is in the realm of the subjective, no one really talks about it. Obviously, it is not as dramatic or visible as material deprivation, i.e., mere exterior poverty. Imagine a UN commission on the interior poverty of children. You know, since they've done such a good job with material poverty.

In terms of psychospiritual development, the problem is that "neither of the parents is inclined towards the celebration of the child's imaginative life." And when they do enter play, it has a kind of covert sadism that terminates the play and brings the child back to reality instead of further into imagination.

When the parent fails to respond to who the child actually is, the unrecognized parts become "negative hallucinations," or "not there" particles that float aimlessly around the psyche in search of being. Then, when the child reaches adolescence, he is suddenly thrust into "the horrifying dilemma of being unable to symbolize his pain." Predictable consequences follow, because the homeless pain will soon enough incarnate via the sexlink.

Surely you have been witness to an aggravating soul murder? As I've mentioned in the past, we've already lost friends because we not only allow but encourage Tristan's natural inclination to use imaginary guns to shoot real bad guys. With relish. To deny a boy his manly aggressiveness is a psychic castration. One may try, but the aggression won't just magically disappear; rather, it will return in a disguised and dysfunctional form. Imagine someone like a Keith Olbermann or Howard Dean or Paul Krugman, who just bristle with a kind of toxic, infantile rage. These shrill bullies are emblematic of the "new castrati" (as Vanderleun dubbed them), who make up for in hysteria what they lack in male logos. They are always "premenstrual," which is why they cannot conceive themselves and we must bear them.

There is a "dialectic of death" between the normotic parent and child, which results in suppression of "the creative expression of the inner core of the self." Bollas says he doesn't fully understand "why some children give in to such a family atmosphere and become normotic, and why others do not."

But psychology is not deterministic, nor can we account for the workings of grace. While most children are traumatized in varying degrees by abuse (both positive and "negative" abuse), some children seem to emerge unscathed. Conversely, some children are just so temperamentally sensitive that they are crushed by the most benign empathic failures on the part of the parents. Others are born with such a robust "destiny drive," that it seems that nothing can stop them from becoming what they were meant to be. Other people can be blessed with what looks like abundance and become nothing, like so many victims of graduate school.

Here is another subtle point that I am sure is accurate: "I think it is highly likely that the children who give in to the normotic element perceive in the parents' way of being a form of hate that we might conceptualize as a death instinct." It is not necessarily the case that the child feels hated by, or hatred for, the parent. Rather, "it may be more accurate to say that the child experiences the parents' attack on life itself, and that such a parent is trying to squeeze the life out of existence."

Bollas suggests that perhaps the children who escape normotic parents "find a way to be mirrored even if the parents are not providing this." I believe this is what happened with me. I found other models that served this mirroring function, and in looking back on it, I can see that it clearly wasn't a chance phenomenon, at least not totally.

That is, my unborns were looking for particular exemplars to assist in their own birth. A fair number of people have testified that this very blog you are now reading or more likely ignoring has been instrumental in helping to bring their unborns into the world, and for that I am profoundly grateful. Didn't Socrates consider himself to be nothing more than a humble midwife? So if anyone feels spanked along the way, that's why. Nothing personal. We just want you to breath the celestial air.

I am passing out. O bitter ending! I'll slip away before they're up. They'll never see. Nor know. Nor miss me. And it's old and old it's sad and old it's sad and weary I go back to you, my cold father, my cold mad father, my cold mad feary father, till the near sight of the mere size of him, the moyles and moyles of it, moananoaning, makes me seasilt saltsick and I rush, my only, into your arms. I see them rising! Save me from those therrble prongs! Two more. Onetwo moremens more. So. Avelaval. My leaves have drifted from me. All. But one clings still. I'll bear it on me. To remind me of. Lff! --From the last paragraph of Finnegans Wake, which, if it means what I think it means, well...

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Tyranny of Normality

Is there anything else we need to say about The Fool before moving on to The World? Yes, I think so. In The Spiritual Ascent, Perry discusses divine madness, the seeming mindlessness of many of those "who have transcended the purely rational faculties."

The Creator himself must be crazy -- or at least out of his mind, in the sense that, in order for there to be an independent creation, it must be relatively separate from him. In this foolish way of looking at things, there is a "fall," so to speak, within God, from being to existence -- or perhaps from beyond-being to being, i.e., the apophatic to the cataphatic God, or Nirguna to Saguna Brahman.

This was the opinion of no less a gnut than Meister Eckhart, who observed that "God's idiosyncrasy is being" (quoted in Perry) -- Being being the first exteriorization, or precipitate, of the creative Godhead beyond being. Which is why, as Plato expressed it, "the madness that comes of God is superior to the sanity which is of human origin."

Now, typically, it is the extreme bhakta -- the God lover -- who most exhibits the symptoms of divine madness -- weeping, pining, carrying on. But the way of the Raccoon is to filter that same madness through the jnanic, or contemplative, temperament -- which results in the sort of irritating linguistic post-normality you have come to expect from Dear Leader. Rules of grammar, or spelling, or sentence construction -- well, we just don't care. But we always break the rules from above, never below. Like the fashion-conscious dapper Dan, it is acceptable to break a rule, so long as one is aware that the rule is being broken.

If one regards culture as a sort of boundary -- a necessary boundary, by the way -- anyone who does not stay within the lines will be regarded as an outlaw, a retrobate, a moron, or a fool, irrespective of whether they fall below or above its expectations. The One Cosmos troll, for example, suffers from a nasty case of chronic, even terminal, normality. A Normotic Personality Disorder, if you will.

As a matter of fact, back when I myself was hoping to join the ranks of the normies, I considered publishing a paper on this topic, because it is something one routinely encounters in clinical practice, not to mention day-to-day life. In a certain sense, to be "normal" is to be partially dead, unless one is aware of the fact that one is only behaving normally in order to "pass." In Coonspeak, "if you're not eccentric, you're wrong." But we do not necessarily advertise our eccentricity in the wrong circles. That's not proper madness, that's just stupidity. Why act the fool with people who'll just think you're nuts?

Perry cites the example of Omar Khayam, "whose wisdom clothed in frivolity is opposed to Pharisaism clothed in piety." Or, as Schuon put it, "if religious hypocrisy is possible, the contrary paradox must equally be so." In other words, if we were to pretend to be normal, we would be a rank hypocrite.

The psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas coined the term "normotic personality," which might very well describe the anti-Coon. On the one hand, therapists routinely deal with patients who are limited by a weak sense of reality.

But just as often -- actually, more often -- one encounters people who, as Winnicott expressed it, "are so firmly anchored in objectively perceived reality that they are ill in the opposite direction of being out of touch with the subjective world and with the creative approach to fact" (quoted in Bollas; keep this in mind when we discuss the next arcanum, The World).

Bollas elaborates on the concept, describing "a particular drive to be normal, one that is typified by the numbing and eventual erasure of subjectivity in favor of a self that is conceived as a material object among other man-made products in the object world." Hence, the oft-mentioned spiritual autism of our scientistic jester -- and all such jesters who, ironically, are "anti-fools."

You might call it a "blank psychosis," in that, instead of positive symptoms -- e.g., delusions, hallucinations, etc. -- these people have only negative symptoms that are characterized by their absence. As a result, a person who has these non-symptoms will be the last to gnosis, since they are "not all there." In order for them to become sane, they must first "go crazy."

As Bollas writes, the normotic person may enter therapy because "they are unable to resolve that psychic pain which derives from the annulment of internal life. They are usually aware of feeling empty or without a sense of self, and they seek analytic help in order to find some way to feel real or to symbolize a pain that may only be experienced as a void or an ache."

Notice that in order for a person to feel real, they must live in the very opposite of what most people take to be "reality," that is, the objective or material world. One can also understand how this type of person could be prone to various forms of addiction and pseudo-addiction as means to gain a spurious sense of freedom and subjective reality -- to escape their cramped prison for a while.

Speaking of which, because of the intersubjective magic of counter-transference, when you are in the presence of this kind of individual, you will notice that they cannot help psychically infecting others with a kind of persecutory banality. This is the real reason why newspapers and TV news are so odious to the Raccoon. Can you imagine anything as stultifying as having, say, Rachel Maddow, or Keith Olbermann, or Katie Couric, instruct you on the nature of reality -- i.e., what is "important" and how we should interpret it? Whatever else the MSMistry of Truth is, it is a hell of pure banality.

Katie Couric is no doubt normal. But it is strictly insane for such a person to "feel good about herself." Her first step toward recovery would be to feel as repulsed by her banality as we are. In other words, in order to get well, she must first make herself sick.

"A normotic person is someone who is abnormally normal. He is too stable, secure, comfortable, and socially extrovert. He is fundamentally disinterested in subjective life and he is inclined to reflect on the thingness of objects, on their material reality, or on 'data' that relates to material phenomena." Tell him that a child needs a mother and father, and he'll say "show me the data." Tell him that "homosexual marriage" undermines the basis of civilization, and he'll say "show me the study."

The normotic personality has a particular affliction that prevents him from appreciating the irreducibly poetic, analogical, and symbolic nature of reality. Instead, they project their own psychic deadness into the world, and then insist that the world is as dead as they are. In turn, they re-introject what they have projected, which, psychically speaking, amounts to eating rocks and expecting to be nourished.

This is one of the reasons irreligious people often worship at the altar of art, because they idealize the artist as someone who has escaped this trap. I know people whose houses are filled with expensive art, but whose heads and hearts are full of kitsch. As Bollas says, "such an individual is alive in a world of meaningless plenty."

What makes the normotic person such a burden to be around is that they cannot help treating you in the same manner they treat themselves and their world. As a result, to bear their presence is to have to live outside the full spectrum of your own psychic life. You know what it's like to have to be around people who cannot possibly make contact with you. Since they cannot resonate with, or conform to, reality in all its richness, in order to get along at all, you must conform to them and their little reality tunnel. This is especially tragic for children who must amputate the greater part of themselves in order to cope with their normotic parents. Tristan has a friend whom it is painful to be around, because his mother is slowly sophicating him.

The normotic person lacks genuine introspection, and even has a kind of automatic defense mechanism that deflects such inquiries. Bollas: "Such a person appears genuinely naive if asked to comment on issues that require either looking into oneself or the other in any depth." It is frustrating to deal with such a patient, because they constantly bring the subjective back to the objective, from interior essence to exterior circumstance.

Such a person may outwardly appear "unusually steady and strong." But outside their comfort zone, they soon betray their shallowness, whether it is in a discussion of art, religion, film, literature, whatever -- anything that requires subjective depth, i.e., soul.

The normotic person forecloses the Mystery and reduces reality to the superficial laws and regularities he is capable of comprehending with his object-mind. But what person with a minimal amount of education can't shoot down the imaginative and mythopoetic formulations of exoteric religion with a kind of rigidly applied profane logic? What's the point? Why not pick a fight with a God who is not one's own puny size?

Look at the childishly literal manner in which the radical atheist interprets revelation -- as if transcendence is a thing, of all things! The figurative accounts for the literal, not vice versa, otherwise the celestial message would be trivial. But instead of going off the deep end, the self-enclosed atheistic believer goes off the shallow end, head first. Which, if it strikes the concrete bottom, may result in paralysis from the heart in and ego up. Or drowning in a few inches of water.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cool Fools and Foolish Tools

All of a suddenlike we're down to dealing the last two cards from the bottom of our deck of Meditations on the Tarot. This series began on October 5, which also marked the six year anniversary of the blog. This will be post #1853 for those keeping score, not counting a couple hundred that have been tossed overboard the Knowa's Arkive on account of being unfit for eternity.

This is good timing, since it means we can start off the new year with a new subject, the substance of which has not yet been revealed to us, if ever.

And this might be an appropriate time to thank readers for using the Cosmic Love Box and other links to amazon, for which we receive a modest kickback when you pull the trigger on a purchase of any kind. Do feel free to spring for that tropical island you've had your eye on, or even this understated Diamond Cluster Fancy Necklace for only $116,849.00. After all, Valentine's Day is right around the corner, not to mention MLK's birthday!

But seriously, you should know that 100% of the paltry proceeds from amazon are plowed directly back into the blog, in that they are mostly used to gamble on books that I would otherwise h-h-hesitate to purchase if I were frittering away my own funds. But since it's "house money," I can venture far afield, which every once in awhile pans out in terms of providing healthy blogfodder. This also provides an invaluable service to you cosmic explorers, as I am able to serve as an advance scout in hyperspace, letting you all know when a seductive little path turns out to be a disappointing nul de slack. In short, I do it all for you.

What kind of fool would do that? A wide-eyed fʘʘl, that's who!

Now, where are we? I mean temporally? Yes, we are "now," just as we are "here," but where is this now in relation to the totality of time? According to our unKnown Friend, "the trial of our epoch is that of Faust. It is the trial of the satisfaction of desires." How very true. But what does this have to do with the Fool?

[A brief sidebar -- just yesterday I read an intriguing comment by Samuel Beckett, who was discussing the Vico-dian temporal structure of Finnegans Wake, which takes us from necessity to utility, convenience, pleasure, luxury, and then abuse of luxury. Is not contemporary western man veritably dissipating in his own abuse of luxury? If not, why is -- are? -- the majority of "poor" people so fat? And why do they have widescreen plasma TVs to park their fat asses in front of? What about the tattoos and other body mutilation? That stuff's not free, is it? I mean, before Obamacare kicks in?]

[And in no way is this intended to apply to the deserving poor, who constitute only a small minority of the Liberal Poor, loosely defined as "people who don't have all the stuff they want."]

[Note that in an absurcular cosmos, "abuse of luxury" comes back around to "necessity," which is one of the motive forces of the OWSers, whose main complaint is that their desires are actually needs which others are obligated to fulfill.]

In contrast, unKnown Friend writes that the fʘʘl "teaches the 'know how' of passing from intellectuality, moved by the desire for knowledge, to the higher knowledge of love." This is "related to the transformation of personal consciousness, where the self (ego) is no longer the author of the act of consciousness but its receiver."

I don't know about you, but this fool can relate to that. Whatever wisdom our little ego can muster on its own is so limited as to be.... well, følly to God, that's for sure. Or, as Rick said in a comment, "it must be grace, because I'm not that smart."

There are two principle ways of dealing with that boastful know-it-all, the (egoic) intellect. One is to jettison it altogether, a la Zen; or, it may be "placed in the service of transcendental consciousness," which is of course the Raccoon way. This involves "the active surpassing of the intellect," which is also a kind of sacrifice. For it is the "method of sacrificing the intellect to spirituality in such a way that it grows and develops instead of becoming enfeebled and atrophied."

This involves a marriage of opposites, "namely discursive intellectuality and illuminative spirituality," the former being male, the latter the female we call Sophia. It is "the union of human wisdom, which is folly in the eyes of God, with the divine wisdom" which is folly in the eyes of the tenured.

Surprisingly, this doesn't produce some kind of hybrid lowbred fool, but rather "a single wisdom which understands both that which is above and that which is below." Again, this is the way of the good ship Raccoon, if your aye-aye be single.

UF then goes into a discussion of scholastic philosophy, which nobly aimed "at an as complete as possible cooperation between spirituality and intellectuality," or the marriage of the sun and moon discussed a few posts back.

Our mission -- i.e., our fʘʘl's errand -- is to advance the progress of this union of spirituality and intellectuality, which is none other than the "philosopher's stone," or the legendary "ark of the Raccoon" that is supposedly stored away somewhere in Toots Mondello's basement, amidst the sacred bowling trophies and beer bottle collection.

UF explains the centrality of (n) vs. (k) in this endeavor, or of be-who over know-how. Again, the whole project only works to the extent that the tradition is alive and one's knowledge is living: "the tradition lives only when it is deepened"; mere "conservation alone does not suffice at all," as it can all too easily be reduced to a kind of glorified mummification. We are not embalmers. Nor is it like operating on a corpse.

Reminds me of something Schuon said: "When God is removed from the universe, it becomes a desert of rocks or ice; it is deprived of life and warmth.... the soul becomes impoverished, chilled, rigid and embittered, or it falls into a hedonism unworthy of the human state; moreover, the one does not preclude the other, for blind passions always overlay a heart of ice, in short, a heart that is 'dead'." (And this comes back to the "excess of luxury" which is needed by people so spiritually numb as to not notice the luxuries we take for granted, and what they're Good for.)

One must start with faithful reverence for the "heritage of the past," even while humbly bumbling to deepen and expand it. Since this verticalisthenic takes place at the innersection of the vertical and horizontal, it is always necessary to do the work of assimilating new "horizontal revelations" into Revelation as such, and working out their interior harmony. This is the fruit of "two faiths," of which Jesus is a quintessential archetype, that is, "the perfect union of divine revelation and the most pure humanism." To isolate one at the expense of the other is intrinsic heresy.

In fact, it is only because of this fusion that Jesus was uniquely able to combine a divine birth with a divine death, which is another thing entirely, isn't it? As UF states, prior to this, man "had only the choice between renunciation and affirmation of the world of birth and death," but now we may participate in its actual transformation, you know, one bloody fʘʘl at a time.

And it apparently renders death a kind of gnuclear fission instead of linear division, and initiates what we call God's "scorched birth policy."

The paradox of the human condition is that nothing is so contrary to us as the requirement to transcend ourselves, and nothing so fundamentally ourselves as the essence of this requirement, or the fruit of this transcending. --Schuon

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Floating on Truth while Watching the Lies Roll By

Chapter XX, The Judgement. Or as we say in America, Judgment.

We remember Schuon writing something to the effect that there is birth, death, and judgment. Elsewhere he writes that "Human life is studded with uncertainties," and that "man loses himself in what is uncertain instead of holding onto what is absolutely certain in his destiny: death, Judgment, Eternity."

But there is a fourth certainty, always accessible to man, that partakes of the other three. It is none other than "the present moment, in which man is free to choose either the Real or the illusory..."

Thus, in our fractally organized cosmos, each moment is birth-death-judgment-eternity, rooted in Freedom and Truth (which are two cidens of the same coin-).

Yes, it would take a whole lifetome to do justice to judgment, which I suppose is why we have one. It's difficult enough to know what happens when we live, let alone when we die, and we claim no first hand knowledge of the latter -- although we did the other day catch a glimpse of Barbara Walters on TV. Rumor has it she uses Larry King's mortician.

Still, if we were to say anything more definitive about the post-biological judicial system, we would be pretending, which would make us be no better than our grubby competitors. It would violate the sacred trust with readers if we were to merely spookulate and call it truth.

There are more than a few dilettantric yokers who obtain a nugget of genuine occult (which simply means "hidden") knowledge, and then proceed to fake the rest, sometimes without even being consciously aware of it. The result is that truth is mingled with falsehood in an indiscriminate manner, making it impossible to separate the ice cream from the pøøp.

The One Cosmos flavor may not be as exo-tic, but we use only ingredients that can be independently and esoterically tasted by readers.

To put it another way, we eliminate the oogedy-boogedy factor, but try to compensate by emphasizing the guffah-HA! experience of the Ho-ho-holy jest -- and laughter is the best medicine for a dedalus nightmare, so long as it's not the hollow and bitter kind.

Theology is formally no different than any other field, in which so-called experts routinely exceed the limits of their competence and bloviate on all sorts of subjects, thereby rendering themselves buffoons -- Paul Krugman, Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, movie stars, MSM journalists, etc. Likewise, for every one of these secular unworthies there is a Spongworthless Rowan Williams or Jeremiah Wright.

It's quite easy for intelligence to be hijacked by narcissism in the service of omniscience. I could do that! But being a master of one area confers no guarantee of competence in another. And this is news?

Much of what our unKnown Friend says about the Akashic Record makes sense, but for us personally it is nevertheless (k) and not (n). While there is nothing objectionable about the idea that all of history is somehow "preserved" in a manner we cannot comprehend -- indeed, this was one of Whitehead's conclusions, and it is certainly true of biology -- we are content to leave it an unsaturated mystery.

The bottom line is that since we have a memory, there is no reason why the cosmos shouldn't. In fact, if memory weren't woven into the fabric of reality, there could be only a random chaos. Memory, among other things, always unifies the disparate strands of existence, both in space and time.

Is it true that the Book of Life is the "moral memory of the world?" This also makes sense to us, but we are content to know that the purpose of life is to hold fast to truth, beauty, and virtue, and know that there will be post-mortem consequences for how poorly or how well we have accomplished this. As Schuon writes,

"If someone asks us what are the most important things a man should do, placed as he is in this world of enigmas and fluctuations, we would reply that there are four things to be done or four jewels that should never be lost from sight: first, to accept the Truth; second, to keep it in mind continually; third, to avoid what is contrary to Truth... and fourth, to accomplish whatever is in conformity with Truth."

The unredeemed assoul has an impulse born of narcissism to make life more complicated than it actually is, and then to swim "in the water of worldly agitation."

Conversely, "instead of swimming in the water of illusion, the saint himself becomes spring or stream; illusion swims in the stream of his knowledge, and not the other way round" (Schuon).

So, either you're drowning in lies and grasping at straws of truth; or, floating on truth while watching the lies drift past like bits of straw. If memory surfs.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Post of Christmas Past & Presence

Last night we attended the family mass. While wife and child are fully immersed members who are completely afloat there, we remain a half-civilized wolf of the steppes -- a little jangled by the commotion, but curious enough to sniff around.

In the priest's homily he touched on some themes that were right up our alley, lujah! We wonder if he knows he was talking pure Eckhart -- proBobally, no?

He reminded us of why we cannot make a big deal out of Christmas per se. Don't get us wrong -- we get into the Christmas spirit just like anyone else. But that's more of a cultural thing, not the essence of the point of the gist of the crux of the martyr.

For if we heard Father Bill brightly, on Christmas we remama the eternal birth of the celestial Word in the terrestrial flesh. The whole thing is a silent nought unless we do the same, and give birth to the Word in our own ground, heart, matrix, womb, or what have you, and then grow our own Mary way.

But this is not, and cannot be, something that happens just once a year. Rather, it must be a perpetual labor; or really, conception-gestation-labor-birth, in a kind of continuous cycle.

Esoterism can apparently sound cold or excessively abstract to some. We understand. But for us, it is the other wayround to the same end: straight exoterism with no esoteric chaser always leaves us a little too sober. More blood, please!

Out of our own dark voidgin soil, two irreconcilable realities somehow become one. In short: no conception, no birth -- especially again.

And there are any number of spiritual verbicides on the cultural market, which either prevent or terminate the union of Word and flesh. All of them result in a mourning after pall being cast over everything.

Christmas wasn't celebrated -- at least by Christians -- for the first 400 years or so of Christianity's existence. One way or another, it grafted itself onto pre-Christian celebrations of the winter solstice, which, coincidentally, marks the moment when the world arrests its descent into cosmic darkness and imperceptibly moves toward a new life of spring in its step.

But this hardly makes the essential cerebration of it any less Christian. Rather, it simply makes Christianity the most adequate expression of permanent truths that have always been intuited. As Warren mentioned in a comment the other year,

"Basically, everybody more or less knows this stuff. It's the wisdom and experience of the entire human race speaking here. The only people who claim to deny it are a few little fringe modernist groups (materialists, certain fundie Protestant sects, etc.).

"In fact, this is a big reason why some fundie Protestants view Catholics as 'pagans.' In a way, they're quite correct, because the Catholic tradition includes much wisdom from the pagan world, while trimming away (ideally) the false and/or devilish elements in it. Rejecting the entire pagan worldview, as certain Christians do, is to needlessly throw out a large chunk of the human race's traditional wisdom, thereby making oneself much more clueless than is strictly necessary."

This is correct. Most of the things we call heresies are not so much flat out wrong, but involve doctrines taken out of the context of total truth, and then either over- or underemphasized.

The rank-and-foul try to derive metaphysical truth solely from phenomena and/or history, but in reality, what we call "salvation history" (or salvolution) involves the serial conception and fruition of certain meta-cosmic seed-principles -- which is why they are living truths that must beleafed, topped, baked, and smoked each morning. In a manner of speaking, bongbrain.

Furthermore, the Creator is a person. Thus, he has principles. But unlike leftists, his principles are not just convenient fig leaves to obscure or lend legitimacy to a tawdry snakedown operation.

Remember, although Jesus is "Word made flesh," this does not mean that the eternal Word was nowhere to be heard in this vale of ears prior to the Incarnation.

Rather, we would say (with Augustine) that the Word and Wisdom of the Christic principle were (and are) always here, and couldn't not be here; again, where there is Truth there is God, and vice versa. Tear down your temporal and he can build an eternal One in three deities, see?

We would go so lo as to see that the affirmation of anything is the affirmation of God, and therefore the negation of "nothing" (nothing being the absurd affirmation of a blind nihilism that can affirm nothing at all, not even itself). Otherwise there is no firm ground for any of your flimsy affirmations.

If, as Eckhart suggests, God ex-ists (for us) because he under-stands, it means that the poor toolish trolls who don't understand these truths don't even properly exist. Or, alternatively, they only exist. And existence without Truth is.... well, first of all it's an absurdity, but more to the point, it is hell. Which is why they refuse to put us out of their misery. The bad word must be shared, for it is lonely at the bottom.

But to know that one is a real idiot is to at least know a genuine truth, and thus nurture an inchoate conception that may eventually come to full term in the light of deity. We ourselves were once (okay, more than once) just such an idiot, and were only saved, if at all, by a much greater and wide-eyed fʘʘlishness.

So, I guess this is just our peculiar way of saying Merry Christmas 24/7/356/∞, and back roundagain...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mary Chrysalis & the Midwinter Sun


Our nonLocal Friend next discusses the "mystery of the star" that guides us on our nighttime journey back to the Self.

If you don't realize that it is late in the day and that it is getting dark.... well, let's just say that the sun can't help you, since it will soon be halfway around the world. Daytime logic doesn't apply to dreamworld, just as dream logic doesn't illuminate the day. Well, it does, but only for specialists.

But more importantly, because there are so many stars, no one can show you yours. Just as there is a single sun that also rises on the billions, there are billions of stars, only one of which has your name on it. You cannot purchase a map to the stars from some filthy hobo on the corner, unless that filthy hobo is Cousin Dupree hawking stolen copies of my book.

We must follow our star without reserve, for "a whole world is at stake" -- the resurrected world of our interior being. This world is "there," but needs to be illuminated in order to be seen.

unKnown Friend cites the example of Jung, with whom I have some problems, but who nevertheless, it is true, followed his star "all his life, and followed the 'star' alone." He was no slithering Deepak, that's for sure.

It's just that, in my opinion, he ultimately confused his star with the sun, but that's a subject for a different post. In any event, it's a common temptation for intellectuals who isolate themselves from the sun of tradition. The more brilliant, the greater the temptation to do this.

And because of the childish cult of genius that has developed in our post-religious culture, you might say that we live under a garish firmament of diverse and irreconcilable third-rate stars -- kind of like the Vegas strip at night -- each claiming to be the sun. I mean, Darwin can easily illuminate a college biology course. But the whole cosmos? C'mon. He couldn't even be the Creator's opening act.

In any event, Gödel proved, among other things, that no star can be the sun, and that the sun exists even if man cannot prove it with mere logic.

The point is, the star should lead to the sun, not away from the sun, nor be an end in itself, for then you are dealing with narcissism or idol worship. For example, in the case of those three mages from the east, the star led them to the Christ. They did not worship the star, nor did they presumably elevate themselves for being such fantastic astrologers, much less open a Psychic Shoppe in West Hollywood.

unKnown friend agrees with our assessment of the ultimate value of Jung's work, but notes that his method has much in common with the humble way of the Raccoon, in that it partakes of "concentration without effort" (i.e., playful free association), "interpretation of dreams and spontaneous fantasy," cooperation between "the fertilizing sphere (outside of and beyond the normal consciousness) and fertilized consciousness," "the amplification of immediate data from the manifestation of the unconsciousness by means of alchemy, myths, and mysteries belonging to mankind's historical past," using the unconscious (I would say "supraconscious," or just vertical consciousness) "as guide and master," and most importantly, "not identifying oneself with the superhuman forces of the archetypes -- not allowing them to take possession of the individual consciousness (so that the latter does not become a victim of inflation)."

That paragraph was a mythful to digest, but I think that you could reduce it to the idea of sincerely playing in that expanding transitional space between O and (n), but with the fixed archetypes of tradition, which are not arbitrary or accidental, but as objective as the nighttime sky. Nevertheless, each person necessarily has a slightly different view of them, simply by virtue of existing. After all, to exist is to exist somewhere, i.e., to have a perspective. This is the correct part of postmodernism, as far as it goes.

What postmodernists forget is that we all have a perspective on reality, and that "reality" isn't simply the sum total of perspectives. Lacking in irony -- or failing to surpass it -- they forget to place their own perspective in perspective, which is one of the typical complications of tenure, usually fatal.

unKnown Friend also cites Teilhard de Chardin as someone who was unwaveringly faithful to his star, but in his case, he attempted to do so while remaining faithful to the Church-sun. Ultimately he was unable to square that circle, or to make both ends meet in the muddle, I think partly because of a certain lack of sobriety on his part, and perhaps some excessive sobriety on the part of the Church.

Today, I think there are some more sober Teilhards, on the one hand, and a little more buzzed Church, on the other. Call it "sober intoxication," if you like. It's certainly the unebriated balance I always shoot for.

There was a time that I was very much attracted to Teilhard's thought, if only because there was no one else attempting to go where no man had gone by reconciling modernity and tradition in such a bold manner. I wanted his breadth of vision, which was truly meta-cosmic in its scope -- in both time and space, subject and object, interior and exterior, Kirk and Spock.

As unKnown Friend describes it, Teilhard followed his star on a long trek "through the paths of the universal evolution of the world throughout millions of years. What did he do, properly speaking? He showed the 'star' above the universal evolution of the world, in a way that the latter 'is seen to be knit together and convulsed by a vast movement of convergence... at the term of which we can distinguish a supreme focus of personalizing personality."

In short, Teilhard re-cognized the star above mere natural selection, demonstrating how God and Darwin are as compatible as Adam and Evolution -- just as, in a post-quantum world, atoms and ovulation aren't as far apart as you might think.

I guess you could say that my wild nous chase of the Bobstar was (and is) completely soph-interested, in that I wanted to know how this vast universe resulted in, well, Bob. Not just me per se, but the very possibility of something as unexpected as a me (or you), or what Teilhard refers to above as the "personalizing personality" -- by which he means a local cosmic area of increasingly complex and centrated subjectivity.

What I really wanted to understand was the how the expanding human subject fits into the whole existentialada, and in just what kind of cosmos is such a superfluous and some would say pointless emergence of me even possible? Whatever else the book is -- appearances to the coontrary notwithstanding -- it is also a very personal journeyall that chronicles my attilt to bring together all the loose threads of my life without drowning in the quixocean of it all.

Of course I would like my ideas to be universal, but even if they were, it would nevertheless be necessary for each person to write their own book, i.e., to have the tome of their life. Somewhere in the book it says that we must all compose a symphony out of the notes and chords of our lives, and that no one's loony tune is identical.

But that is what we are after: ultimate co-herence and reconciliation of inner and outer, time and eternity, spirit and matter, faith and reason, intelligence and wisdom, science and religion, for that constitutes peace. And one way or the other, that coherence can only come from the top. Any alternative is a non-starer.

I will conclude by suggesting that this is indeed our cross to bear, but that, as luck would have it, someone else has done most of the heavy lifting for us. Which is the ultimate point of Christmas, the day on which we are simultaneously furthest from and closest to the newborn sun.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Love that Moves the Sun and Other Stars

No time this morning. Only time for a short post.

Whereas the Moon has to do with reflected, i.e., lunar, knowledge, the Sun has to do with direct perception of truth or reality (which amount to the same thing). Obviously, we can see much better when the sun is out and shining.

Or can we? If the sun is too bright, we cannot see at all, as in snowblindness. At the very least, it overpowers more subtle sources of light -- other heavenly bodies that are present but hidden.

After all, it is not as if the cosmos is simply divided into God/not-God, or Creator/creature. Yes, you can certainly look at it that way, and it is not *absolutely* false to do so. But in so doing, you will miss all of the details in the cosmic hierarchy.

In a way, this is the inverse error of logical positivism, whereby the person only accepts scientifically verifiable statements. Do this, and you cut yourself off from the wealth of truth that may be found in literature, art, music, poetry, and religion.

You might say that "religionism" focuses on the absolute sun to the exclusion of the relative moon, while relativism focuses on the relative moon to the exclusion of the absolute sun. The latter can have no real truth, since lunar light presupposes the sun.

One can even extend this into politics, in that moonbats need conservatives, whereas conservatives have no need of moonbats. It is not a reversible relation, since moonbats need the wealth of productive citizens in order to redistribute it, whereas productive citizens do not need unproductive parasites in order to create wealth. The left eventually runs out of other people's money, but we will never run out of people who want other people's money.

Regarding those lesser cosmic lights between sun and earth, you may recall that in the bʘʘk I made reference to "the helpful nonlocal operators standing by, ready to assist you." How does that work? UF explains in the following extended passage, which might be one of the reigning dogmas and catechisms among Raccoons:

"You venerate (i.e., love and respect) a non-incarnated being -- a departed person, a saint, a hierarchical being -- in a disinterested manner. Your veneration -- which includes love, respect, gratitude, the desire to conform, etc. -- cannot fail to create an invisible link of sympathy with its object. It may be in a subtle and dramatic way, or rather in a slow, gradual and almost imperceptible way -- this does not matter -- the day will come when you will experience the presence."

This is nothing like a "phantom," "ghost," or some other apparition, but rather, it is "a breath of radiant serenity, of which you know with certain knowledge that the source from which it emanates is not at all in you. It influences and fills you but does not take its origin in you; it comes from outside you. Just as in drawing near to a fireplace, that the warmth that you feel does not arise from you, but rather from the fireplace, so also do you feel that the breath of serenity in question is due to an objective presence."

Once this nonlocal relationship is established, "it is up to you to remain silently concentrated so that the relationship established is subsequently developed, i.e., that it gains in intensity and clarity -- that it becomes a meeting in full consciousness."

Protestants do not accept the possibility of multiple nonlocal relationships, which is fine. For you, Christ is your master, and that's that. In contrast, Catholicism and Orthodoxy provide numerous other nonlocal operators to light the way toward the Light.

Recall what was said yesterday about the person internalizing a relationship between two poles. For just as a relationship can be mediated by love, two can be bound by hatred. Just as, say, a sexually repressed man may chose to be around women who reject him (so as to externalize the conflict), a dysfunctional people, such as the Palestinians, have formed an unbreakable bond with Israel. They do not hate Israel because of "X." Rather, they believe "X" because of their hatred, which is the real driver. Hatred makes one believe insane things (think, for example, of all the insane things trolls believe about me.)

For the neurotic person, such a bond can be every bit as strong as a healthy one; in fact, in a sense, even stronger, since healthy love eventually transcends its immediate object and leads all the way back up to its divine source, whereas the unhealthy kind is solely focused on its local object, which leads to all sorts of other secondary and tertiary pathologies. (It is the same with art, by the way -- the real thing automatically transcends itself and provokes a love of the beautiful per se.)

Sorry to end so abruptly, but I'm already late. To be continued.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mental Masturbation and the Fertile Marriage of Faith and Science

Let's pick up where we left off last Friday, with the distinction between the solar, lunar, and celestial sources of light (and therefore truth). Solar corresponds to creative light, lunar to reflected light, and celestial to revealed light (as outlined in chapter XVIII of MOTT).

Note that these are not three "different lights," but the one light present in three modes. In turn, this is why there cannot be any ultimate conflict between religion and science, because truth is truth, whatever the medium. If you think there is a conflict, this only means you need to think again -- more deeply, more broadly, and more integrally. If the One Light didn't exist, man would go mad, for he would be permanently riven by thoughts, impulses, and desires from all the planes of being, with no possibility of deep interior unity. Frankly, he wouldn't know whether to sh*t or wind his wristwatch.

That there is "one light" has its analogue in the realm of physics, where it is understood as a deeply interconnected wavelike field. Likewise, the human mind shares this feature of field-like oneness. While we use terms to describe mental functioning which make it sound as if one part can be isolated from another (e.g., projection, splitting, compartmentalization, repression), these are just ways to think about something that otherwise cannot be thought about.

For example, when we use the term "projection," what we really mean is "projective identification." The former implies that we may rid our minds of painful and unwanted content by placing it elsewhere -- in other people, in the environment, in conservatives, whatever.

But in fact, whenever we project, it is from one part of our mind into another part of our mind, or from one subject (or sub-self) to another. To take a common example, let's say Mr. X has developmental issues with a chronically intrusive and controlling mother. As a result, he doesn't just internalize an object, but a dipolar relationship -- let us call it the aggressive intruder linked to a violated intrudee. Should Mrs. X begin nagging Mr. X, it is likely that his mind will switch into this earlier object relation. Either he will feel intensely persecuted in a way that goes beyond what the situation calls for; or, he will identify with the other pole of the object relationship, and lash out in an aggressive and intrusive manner.

Have you ever seen Fawlty Towers? You will have noticed that Basil basically has two interpersonal modes: in short, as Winston Churchill said of the Hun, he is either at your feet or at your throat. He devalues half the world with contempt and scorn, but when in the presence of a social superior, he "switches" and identifies with the contemptible object. Thus we see that contempt and fawning or groveling are really two sides of the same coin (or, think of the Cowardly Lion, who is just the other side of the Bullying Lion).

I don't want to get sidetracked, but I couldn't help noticing a conspicuous version of this in Christopher Hitchens, who was so brimming with anger, narcissism, contempt, and (intellectual) class consciousness. I fully agree that it was quite bracing to see him bully someone who deserved it, e.g., Saddam, Khomeini, Milošević, Clinton. But he could just as easily flip -- and flip out -- by training his rage and contempt on obviously decent and good people such as Pope John Paul or Mother Teresa.

I looked up an example and found this, when he "erupted into a drunken rage at a recent promotional event for his book. Hitchens reportedly descended from the stage, visibly inebriated, approached a Roman Catholic priest (Rev. George Rutler) in the audience, and began shouting at him, only inches from his face. Hitchens’ manner appeared so physically menacing, witnesses say, that a plainclothes bodyguard on duty at the event rushed in and escorted the drunken scribe from the room."

Then, “At the end of the event as he staggered, sweating and red faced, out of the room, he [Hitchens] advanced on Father Rutler in a threatening and physical manner, screaming that [he] was `a child molester and a lazy layabout who never did a day’s work in his life’.... Several of the event organizers then escorted Hitchens to the men’s room and when he emerged he continued his psychotic rant, repeating the same calumnious and baseless screed (sic) as before."

Now, a normal person -- once he sobers up -- would regard such an incident as a serious wake up call. He would be filled with shame, remorse, and self-loathing, and understand that he needs help. But the alcoholic essentially disables the idiot lights on his dashboard, and doubles down on his dysfunctional lifestyle. I've known several people with the identical dynamic.

Because of this cold, I can see that I am rambling. Let's get back to the "three lights" discussed above. As unKnown Friend explains, science is essentially lunar, in that it seeks to "reflect" the natural world. Which is as it should be. Scientific knowledge is always reflected knowledge (although, at the same time, it is always rooted in a tacit metaphysic that borrows from the other two sources, for example, the imaginative "solar" creativity that fuels scientific advance, or the abiding celestial faith in the rationality of reality).

The lunar mode can only comprehend that which is discontinuous, never that which is continuous. One persistent fallacy that results from this is the attempt to treat continuous and wave-like systems in a discontinuous and atomistic manner. But just because we can dissect an animal, it doesn't mean we understand the phenomenon of Life, which is the quintessence of wholeness and deep interior relation.

The celestial knowledge embodied in the Gospel of John reveals to us the creative Word, "which is the light and life of men." Here, intelligence "has the task of understanding the whole world as the organisatory act of the Word and Jesus Christ as the cosmic Word made flesh."

Whereas lunar intelligence seeks to understand "that which is," this logocentric mode seeks to participate "in the becoming of that which is to be." It is not just to be "born again," but to give birth -- which is to participate in the intrinsic and eternal creativity of the Word. (Note the dipolarity of giving and receiving birth, which is very much emphasized by Eckhart. It's easy to misunderstand -- and how! -- the subtle point he is making, when he says words to the effect that in giving birth to the living God, he gives birth to us.)

Real solar creativity is a kind of higher life that is continuous with, or a mirror of, the divine activity. The point is, on the intellectual plane, approaching God doesn't just require a leap of faith, but a leap of imagination or of creative activity -- which is also its seal of authenticity. It is one of the things implied by the symbol O--> (n), which is a continuous flow, "or river of water of life," not something fixed and dead.

UF writes that the latter involves the true union of intelligence with the intuition of faith. If these two are alienated or estranged, they need to be reconciled in true marriage and become "one flesh." It is not simply one mode added to the other, but a real harmonious -- and creative -- union. (There is much more on this union in the following letter, The Sun, which we'll no doubt get to soon.)

UF singles out several thinkers whom he believes approached or achieved this fusion of faith and intelligence, including Origen, Denys, Aquinas, Jacob Boehme, Berdayev, and Teilhard de Chardin. He contrasts this with the circularity of lunar logic, and the need to break out of its closed world, citing a passage by Bergson:

"If we had never seen a man swim, we might say that swimming is an impossible thing, in as much as, to learn to swim, we must begin by holding ourselves up in water and, consequently, already know how to swim. Reasoning, in fact, always nails us down to the solid ground."

This type of earthbound intelligence is in servitude to that which is infinitely beneath its scope and station: "It looks to the least developed and the most primitive for the cause and the explanation of what is most developed and the most advanced in the process of evolution.... it retreats into matter. It does something with regard to the world which would be absurd with regard to a work of art.... Intelligence which prefers retreating to flying must inevitably arrive at the impasse of absurdity.... And the absurd... this is suicide for intelligence" (MOTT).

Bergson continues: "But if, quite simply, I throw myself into the water without fear, I may keep myself up well enough at first by merely struggling, and gradually adapt myself to the new environment: I shall learn to swim.... if the risk be accepted, action will perhaps cut the knot that reasoning has tied and will not unloose."

So our intelligence must take the plunge in order to leave the prison of materialism: "[L]eap it must, that is, leave its own environment. Reason, reasoning on its powers, will never succeed in extending them, though the extension would not appear at all unreasonable once it were accomplished." For example, one could publish thousands of studies on the nature of walking on solid ground, but they "will never yield a rule for swimming: come, enter the water, and when you know how to swim, you will understand how the mechanism of swimming is connected with that of walking. Swimming is an extension of walking, but walking would never have pushed you on to swimming."

That is a critical point, for from the perspective of walking, the leap to swimming looks "discontinuous." But from the perspective of swimming, one can appreciate the continuity, which is none other than "the God of the gaplessness" of reality. Science sees "gaps" that it imagines the religious believer fills in with "God." But it is actually the other way around. Once one leaps into the Word, one sees how there cannot be any radical gaps at all.

This, in case you didn't know, is the reason why I arranged my book so that the chapters are both continuous and discontinuous, from nothing (or beyond-being) to being, matter to life, life to mind, and mind to spirit (in other words, there are distinct "chapters," even though the sentences that link them run together). Only from the point of view of the first half of each pair does the second look discontinuous. But from the point of view of the second, one doesn't just "see," but one unproblematically lives the continuity. One swims.

After all, doesn't your body easily unify matter and life without you having to think about it? And doesn't your mind easily unify -- well, most of the time -- intelligence, emotion, will, and desire? And doesn't the Raccoon naturally live the unity of matter, life, mind and Spirit, or O? Of course. And there is no "technique" for doing so, accept for aspiring (↑) and submitting to the nonlocal Grace (↓) that meets us more than halfway. This is not something any mere animal could do, not in 13.7 billion years.

The unity comes from the top, not the bottom, of the cosmic hierarchy. Which is why it is indeed One Cosmos Under God.

The harmonious union of higher and lower: