Monday, March 12, 2012

Truth Sets Us Free, Freedom Sets Us on Truth

It may be daylight savings time, but for me that translates to dawnlight wasting time -- one less hour to leave unfinished what I didn't have sufficient time for anyway. Therefore, an edited post from several years back. Because of the edits, it contains some jump cuts that I didn't have time to smooth over.

This post is about Truth and Freedom, since we cannot have the one without the other. For who could argue with the following proposition: "The actualization of truth is no mere natural process but a spiritual event, which takes place only in the lightning-like encounter and fusion of two words -- the word of the subject and the word of the object. Outside of this event, there is no truth" (Balthasar, Theo-Logic).

Thus, if one fails to understand that truth is a supernatural thang, then one has some catching up to do. Nature may embody truth, but it takes a supernatural act to pull a truthy rabbit out of a material hat, to quote Aquinas on one of his rare "off days." No: "The truth of the object exists only so long as infinite or finite spirit turns to it in an act of knowing; the truth of the subject exists only as long as it abides in this act" (Balthasar).

So truth is implicated in both subject and object, but only their mutual encounter "activates" the truth between them, not dissimilar to the erotic spark between male and female. I know you know I know you know what I mean, because the love of truth cannot be separated from its own distinct version of eros, i.e., our innate epistimophila, or what the psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas calls the "eros of form."

This is a particular kind of encounter with objects that releases the truth of the self into being. This is why we all respond differently to different objects -- and subjects, i.e., persons -- which have a way of giving birth to a latent part of ourselves. If you think about it, this has mulch in common with the fertile Platonic idea of education, the purpose of which is more to draw out what is within than to stuff the bovine fertilizer into us. (If memory serves, doctor is from docer, to "draw out.")

One reason why I am impervious to the rantings of our trolls is that I knew America was a torture state way back in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was president. I knew full well that we were no better than the USSR, and that by opposing communism we merely reduced ourselves to their mirror image, just as we do today with the Islamic supremacists. Furthermore, we had just as many political prisoners as the Soviet Union, but we just called them "blacks."

In the spirit of fool disclosure, I must also admit that I actually attended a Noam Chomsky lecture some 20 years ago. I remember it well, because he assured the lunatic crowd that George Bush was poised to invade Cuba and oust our beloved comrade Fidel Castro. In fact, I'm guessing that the only reason we didn't do so is because Chomsky blew the whistle on Bush's nefarious plan.

Another reason why I don't argue with leftists is that I have only to mentally travel back to my own hellseein' daze, and imagine how I would have reacted if a so-called conservative had presumed to instruct me about anything. I was 100% unreceptive, and would use the occasion merely to enlist them into my persecutory fantasy world. Because I was just as intelligent then as I am today -- maybe even more so, given the inevitable loss of brain cells -- I was virtually always able to run circles around myself and repel any interlocutor.

Shame on me. There is no end to the damage to truth caused by the abuse of intelligence. I have never been impressed by Obama's intelligence. Indeed, for those of us who have been there, it is a sorry sight to watch this cognitively arrested boob in action. Obama is not free to discover truth, since he is laboring under the oppressive weight of systematic falsehoods he has passively absorbed throughout his friction-free life. Being good at articulating lies in charcoal activated cigaret-burnished tones should not be confused with being "articulate."

One cannot get to the freedom of truth unless one first appreciates the unfreedom that often surrounds it. The spirit must first apprentice itself to the object world before it can "attain to itself." This is similar to the manner in which one must first master scales and chords before one is truly free to play a musical instrument. In fact, for a true master, the unfreedom and freedom will live side by side for the remainder of one's life. John Coltrane used to practice eight hours a day long after he attained virtuosity.

Things are more than things, and facts are more than facts. If that weren't the case, then we would all be identical, in the way that animals and the tenured are.

For human beings, facts are always enshrouded in mystery, for they are an occasion to know the great Mystery of Withinness. Facts speak to humans, again, in ways that engage us in particularly intimate ways. Take the simple example of this book we're discussing today. Not a single person in the world would have highlighted the same passages that I have. So are the facts in the book? Or in me? Or in the space in between?

If it weren't for the wonderful erotic mystery that enshrouds truth, we'd all be singing from the same boring hymnal. "The event of knowledge would cast a cold, pitiful, shadowless light into every corner, and there would be no possibility of escaping this scorching sun. Being, stripped of mystery, would be, so to speak, prostituted" (Balthasar).

This is the precise opposite of a cynical relativism or spiritually barren deconstruction. Rather, that sort of "radical cynicism only becomes possible wherever man no longer has a flair for the central mystery of being, whenever he has unlearned reverence, wonder, and adoration, whenever, having denied God, whose essence is always characterized by the wonderful, man also overlooks the wondrousness of every single created entity."

There is a perverse joy in this radical cynicism. Nor is it difficult to trace its roots, now that I have a four year old boy who likes to build things, but not nearly as much as he enjoys tearing them apart, knocking them down, or disassembling them to see "what's inside." But of course, there is no inside without the outside. The outside is the manifestation of the inside, just as the inside is the invisible "essence" of the outside. Jettison either, and the cosmos is reduced to a flat and empty place.

The outside reveals the inside, just as the downside reveals the upside.

9 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

So truth is implicated in both subject and object, but only their mutual encounter "activates" the truth between them, not dissimilar to the erotic spark between male and female. I know you know I know you know what I mean, because the love of truth cannot be separated from its own distinct version of eros, i.e., our innate epistimophila, or what the psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas calls the "eros of form."

It occurred to me, early this morning, that the term "yadda" (which I'm given to understand has to do with knowing) bears a striking resemblance to the first two letters of the tetragrammaton. Which makes sense to me, because to yadda is to love, as it were, and now I wonder if the second half of the tetragrammaton doesn't at least occasionally sound rather remarkably like "love"; on the whole it would be fitting for the Name...

If it weren't for the wonderful erotic mystery that enshrouds truth, we'd all be singing from the same boring hymnal. "The event of knowledge would cast a cold, pitiful, shadowless light into every corner, and there would be no possibility of escaping this scorching sun. Being, stripped of mystery, would be, so to speak, prostituted" (Balthasar).

Not to mention that such a light would render sterile all that it reveals. Not unlike certain skanky characters who can't bear to remain mysterious, and expect others to pay for their sterilization...

3/12/2012 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Skorpion said...

@julie: Speaking of certain skanky characters, and where their demands ultimately lead...

3/12/2012 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

“A note of prophecy from Chesterton (written in 1926):

“Bolshevism is already dead … . For the next heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality; and especially on sexual morality. And it is coming, not from a few Socialists surviving from the Fabian Society, but from the living exultant energy of the rich resolved to enjoy themselves at last, with neither Popery nor Puritanism nor Socialism to hold them back… The madness of to-morrow is not in Moscow, but much more in Manhattan – but most of what was in Broadway is already in Piccadilly.”

3/12/2012 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Verdiales said...

Yes to subject/object being a procreative encounter, but only if both are open to that

It's clear how subject can be "open" (or, being reductive/ideological, "closed"), but the object?

It's interesting to ask. If an object -- say, the composition of a proton -- is simply inert, having no 'subject' qualities at all, then the subject is not in a relationship to it, but in some sort of position of extraction, like a miner of some kind

But if the proton (or anything) is "intelligible" then its relationship with a knower is, in fact, a relation of some kind, there is a congruence on the intellectual plane

Of what kind? well, a productive congruence, i.e. one that produces an intellectual idea. It's as if the subject/object encounter were creative, and what is created is some kind of intellectual abstraction, a characterization of reality, that can then be tested and re-tested, to give a higher resolution to its congruence as a descriptor of reality, as in the scientific method

Is this process "erotic"? My reaction is that the term is overly enthusiastic

Yes, the material universe is sustained in its being by a Person, whose transcendent intelligibility gave form to everything -- so encountering reality and allowing its congruence with intellect to conduce us toward the truth of a transcendent procreative intellect (Love) can be seen as a participation in that transcendent love

But is this a "distinct version of eros"?

Quite distinct, I should think. There has to be something selfless about the subject/object encounter in that subjects have to keep themselves open to being challenged (unless they are tenured of course), to keep itself open to the infinity of its mystery

Isn't erotic love more personal, even anxious? Possessive, even

3/13/2012 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Hi Bob,

There are pearls in this partially recycled entry.

I was struck by the passage that Gerard put up at A.D. -

"Another reason why I don't argue with leftists is that I have only to mentally travel back to my own hellseein' daze, and imagine how I would have reacted if a so-called conservative had presumed to instruct me about anything. I was 100% unreceptive, and would use the occasion merely to enlist them into my persecutory fantasy world. Because I was just as intelligent then as I am today -- maybe even more so, given the inevitable loss of brain cells -- I was virtually always able to run circles around myself and repel any interlocutor."

I am not sure it is necessary to convince the arch-leftists, since we live in a country that mainly sees itself as "conservative." But it can be done.

At least some leftists can change. You did. I did. And my 86-year-old mother, a former member of a cell of the CP-USA, just told me on the 'phone the other day, how much she is enjoying reading Milton Friedman. He was considered "verboten" to her in the past, but now the light of reality has reached her.

What was it that illuminated you? Or changed me? It was life, or Life, or experience, it was a gradual acceptance of reality.

For me, it might have been living in South Korea, and reflecting on the histories of the divided halves of that country. And I think September Eleventh was important, too. That was like the Rinzai master's strike, shattering illusion and awakening a sense of the real reality.

It would be impossible to argue a leftist out of his leftism. But a seed could be planted.

3/13/2012 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

For me, constant exposure to Dennis Prager during drive-time was instrumental. There's really no one else like him in talk radio, because he's always appealing to first principles which, once recognized, are impossible to deny, and are filled with implications.

3/13/2012 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

That's high praise for Mr. Prager.

Repeated, constant exposure is probably very important. At some point or other, the mind may open, and if there is a message there, that message may be perceived.

I think that these changes in perwspective, from left to right, take place gradually, although there may seem to be a moment of sudden insight.

3/13/2012 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gandalin said "It was life, or Life, or experience, it was a gradual acceptance of reality."

The most feard solvent known to the left. There is no proregressive edifice that won't crumble on contact with reality.

3/13/2012 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "...because he's always appealing to first principles which, once recognized, are impossible to deny, and are filled with implications."

And that's how you introduce the leftist to reality... hence their vampiric cringe whenever first principles are raised.

3/13/2012 10:38:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home