Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Man and His Endless Jnani Quest

No, that's not just a strained pun. Look it up: knowledge, specifically, knowledge that is "inseparable from the total experience of reality, especially a total reality or supreme being." (A jnani is on a quest for jnana.)

You see, occasionally English lacks the mot juste -- mot juste being another -- to describe certain things, including spiritual realities. And even if we did have such a word, it would probably be saturated by now, which is where our sacred wordplay, or punnishantics, come in, so as to remystify the language. In short, it helps us keep the good news new and our nous to the groundstone.

According to Purcell, there is a universal Quest "that summons all true human beings to the heart of the human mystery." Are "quest" and "question" etymologically related? I don't know, but Purcell says that we are not the answers, nor is "the source of the summons even... clear to us." In short, there is no self-sufficient explanation for the mystery of man and his wonderlust about the Mystery.

To back up a bit, if you don't recognize that man -- i.e., your existence -- is a mystery, then you are dismissed. You are way beyond -- or before -- my capacity to help you aggravate the mystery or shed any further obscurity on matters.

In a letter, Dostoyevsky wrote that "Man is a mystery. One must solve it.... I occupy myself with this mystery because I want to be a man" (in Purcell).

Isn't that a bit t-t-tautologous? Man is a mystery, but the pursuit of this mystery is somehow intrinsic to what it means to be a man. You're a mystery, Mister O! And the worst thing you can do is perform a mysterectomy on yourself. Rather, leave it to the experts: the tenured.

Now, you might suppose that a standard autobiography is a kind of transparent plunge into the mystery, but that approach usually leads nowhere if it fails to link up with the Source. In other words, the individual self is literally a kind of inexhaustible mystery, but this "inexhaustibility" provides a clue to the Big Mystery, since man is a kind of "finite infinitude" which mirrors the infinite infinitude of O.

Therefore, if you imagine that your bullshit will ever run dry, you're only fooling yourself. You'll never find God that way, because you're already in the ocean searching for water.

Now that it is understood that man is embedded in a cosmic drama extending back no less than 13.85 billion years -- that History is much longer than anyone ever supposed -- it is frankly impossible to write a comprehensive autobiography without taking into consideration, say, the big bang, the evolution of life, and the emergence of human consciousness; and on a more micro level, one's prelinguistic development (before the age of five), which is itself a vast undiscovered country, an infinite ground in its own way.

By which I mean that if we are deprived of certain ground-floor experiences during this sensitive period, our quest for the Ground will be compromised later in life. The psychoanalyst Michael Balint wrote of the "basic fault" (as in "fault line"), which can even be seen as one way in which man perpetuates his ancestral Fall from generation to generation. A person haunted by the Basic Fault often spends his life in pursuit of what might be called "dark mysteries," or thrilling perversions and secret compulsions of various kinds.

Pardon the abrupt transition, but I am glad to see another writer tackling the "discontinuity problem" of human beings. In fact, Purcell makes a useful distinction between the fact of evolution and the ideology of "evolutionism," which is analogous to the critical distinction between science and scientism, of which every educated person should be aware.

The dogma of evolutionism maintains that there is no ontological distinction between man and animal, an absurd metaphysic that immediately runs aground for reasons Darwin himself intuited:

"With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or are at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?"

The answer is no, of course not. That being the case, where is the line in nature at which point monkey convictions become reliable and trustworthy? The ideology answers -- and disproves -- itself if one is honest.

Recall that in the Encirclopedia Raccoonica, the individual chapters are so arranged as to be both discontinuous -- i.e., discrete and numbered, just like any other book -- but also continuous and flowing, apparently unlike any other book. This complementarity signifies a number of things, including the ontological discontinuity -- the evolutionary leap, which evolution supposedly cannot do -- of man.

Yes, we are aware of the theory of punctuated equilibrium, but that is merely another attempt at a natural explanation to "save the appearances" of what is clearly a transnatural phenomenon.

One of the themes that runs through From Big Bang to Big Mystery is that human beings "are both continuous with the evolutionary process and discontinuous with it." I for one know exactly what he means when he references Walker Percy's observation that there is "more difference between a human and an animal -- let's say an orangutan -- than between the animal and the planet Saturn."

Everything thus far has been introductory. Details will be filled in as we proceed down this mysterious rabbit hole.

31 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Purcell says that we are not the answers, nor is "the source of the summons even... clear to us."

Heh - in other words, we aren't the ones we've been waiting for...

4/04/2012 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

...there is "more difference between a human and an animal -- let's say an orangutan -- than between the animal and the planet Saturn."

The thing that's really surprising to me is how many people don't see this. And of course, because they don't see, too many live down to their own base expectations.

4/04/2012 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

People often pay too little attention to what their mental dissatisfactions mean.

I'm thinking of William. Is there anything more to the fact that he wants to keep his mind open? Clearly, he likes to wait for a satisfactory answer to his questions. That is, he's waiting for the answers that constantly transcend him. And yet he never bothers to wonder why this is the case, or what this means.

Could it be that he is structurally geared toward the infinite, which alone constitutes the satisfactory answer to his mental demands?

Or is he, like an unreflective ape, just content to eat bananas as he goes along?

And participate in Saturnalia, of course. You can't be an ape and not strut around, take instinctual pleasure in grooming, and gibber with other apes about females and heteronormative capitalist oppressor silverbacks.

4/04/2012 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Sorry, Magister is another name for Verdiales. I created another blog, didn't want to post there as Verdiales, created another nic, and now I don't have time to investigate how to turn it back. Not trying to sock puppet!

4/04/2012 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Cond0010 said...

"Or is he, like an unreflective ape, just content to eat bananas as he goes along? "

Ooooo! I know this one! Pick me! Pick me!

4/04/2012 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Thanks for the clarification - I knew "Magister" had to be someone we knew, but didn't know who :)

I have to disagree with you a bit, though: I don't think William is waiting for a satisfactory answer, because there is no answer that can satisfy him for most of his questions. To the extent that he "participates" here, it seems to be an effort to prove his own superiority - a mental version of the races he runs. Of course, since he sets the rules for his own questions, he guarantees that he always "wins," regardless of the answers.

As further evidence, I'd submit his history with other blogs such as Protein Wisdom (just do a search there for "William Yelverton"). As I understand it, he was once so obnoxious at another place (though of course, this is something I've heard through the grapevine, so take with a grain of salt) that the blog owner folded. In other words, one time he really "won."

There may be some deeper reason, unacknowledged by his conscious mind, which keeps sending him back here, but if so his behavior demonstrates that he's fighting that reason with every ounce of his being. Heaven forbid he should "lose," and find that everything he thought he knew was wrong...

4/04/2012 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Malignant stupidity is rarely, if ever, innocent.

4/04/2012 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Pardon the abrupt transition, but I am glad to see another writer tackling the "discontinuity problem" of human beings. In fact, Purcell makes a useful distinction between the fact of evolution and the ideology of "evolutionism," which is analogous to the critical distinction between science and scientism, of which every educated person should be aware."

Indeed. Ol' Zeno proved himself a piker by devoting his smarts to proving how impossible it is to prove that an arrow actually moves during its flight from the bow to the target, or to how impossible it is for Achilles to catch up with, and pass, a turtle. Of course, if he, and his proregressive dependents, wanted a real challenge, they'd ask instead how it's possible for a person to move from the position of asking such questions, to the position of understanding that to persist in such 'reasoning' is a flight away from reality, not towards it, IOW: unintelligent.

But nooo, they not only avoid the real questions, they avoid the proper way to ask the proper questions; by claiming that you can't possibly move from one point to another in a path, they avoid the reality of the path, let alone how to advance beyond their own position on that path.

Instead, they (cough*willian*cough) jabber at us with their proofs that a person doesn't actually change positions or move along a path, and even asserts that the path is no more real than the possibility that an arrow could possibly be proven to move along it in any way, shape or form at all.

Ever notice that they never state their conclusions while standing in the path of the arrow in flight?

Or so they think.

4/04/2012 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

IOW, all of willian's questions and complaints are not his way of trying to discover anything, they are his methods for avoiding everything.

4/04/2012 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"...are so arranged as to be both continuous -- i.e., discrete and numbered, just like any other book -- but also continuous ..."

If I may be so bold, shouldn't that be discontinuous?

4/04/2012 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Only if you want it to be coherent.

4/04/2012 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Well, you all have more experience with William than I do. Sorry about that! What I've read of him reminds me of a very young version of my own brother, who is as uninterested in God as they come. This pains me, so I keep trying to remain open to grounds for hope.

Is the glass of water half-full, or half-empty? My answer is, "it's always full: of air, and water."

4/04/2012 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Van sez:

"Ever notice that they never state their conclusions while standing in the path of the arrow in flight?"

I like that. Must be because part of them recognizes the truth of the arrow.

4/04/2012 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

...one's prelinguistic development (before the age of five), which is itself a vast undiscovered country...

Amen to that. I wish everybody understood it.

4/04/2012 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I should have said "pre-oedipal," since five year olds can obviously talk.

4/04/2012 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I was thinking that memories and pathways built before age five are stored differently -- non-linguistically -- which is why children tend to have trouble remembering specifics prior to about that age.

4/04/2012 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Absolutely -- they are stored in the right brain, which develops ahead of the left, the latter of which contains the "language center." This explains, for example, how a mysterious mood can be triggered by some outward situation. The mood is in the right brain and "outside" language, although one might also say that man has developed a whole host of means with which to express right brain concerns, religious ritual being one of them. Music is another way -- speaking of which, I find the CD by Morricone in the sidebar to be incredibly evocative of the "unthought known." He's gotta be the greatest film composer ever.

4/04/2012 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not to say that it will evoke anyone else's Unthought Known....

4/04/2012 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

i owned the dvd of THE GOOD THE BAD & THE UGLY years before watching it recently; boy that morricone [fellow scorp, bob!] music sure is haunting and unique---and while the lands depicted look like a few miles outa town from here, I didnt place that 2note whistle-theme as a coyote imitation til someone pointed it out!

4/04/2012 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, the range of what he can do with sound is extraordinary, and seemingly unprecedented.

4/04/2012 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm sure you've heard The Mission, which is one of his masterpieces....

4/04/2012 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

ive a got an unlabelled 'Best-of', so-but i'll keep an ear out for

4/04/2012 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

This version of THE GOOD THE BAD & THE UGLY is actually quite good (and funny).

4/04/2012 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

John - I liked that. It earned a round of applause from the boy, too.

4/04/2012 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Looking him up on Spotify, I had no idea he was so prolific. His "Ecce Homo" from last year has quite a haunting beginning.

4/04/2012 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He has scored over 400 films, which is somewhere beyond prolific. Best collection I've found is this one.

4/04/2012 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Is it just me, but on the samples, Disc 1, #5, "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion", did anyone else hear "Eleanore Rigby"?

4/04/2012 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Close. George Martin actually got the idea for those astringent violins from the soundtrack of Fahrenheit 451 by Bernard Herrmann, one of my other favorite film composers.

4/04/2012 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

well on the subject of fillim scores, best variety, a special award goes to Jack Nitzsche for "Performance"

"The only movie I have ever done where nobody interfered, nobody," Jack told me in a 1998 interview. "To this day, I'll be in a restaurant, or walking down the street, or leaving a screening on a lot somewhere like at Paramount, and someone will yell out 'Performance'. Recently, Billy Friedkin saw me walking and across the street yelled 'Performance'. The greatest use of music in a motion picture ever".

4/05/2012 03:59:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Interesting character, Nitzsche. Awhile back I got this excellent compilation of some of his productions, although it has only one film work, from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

4/05/2012 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

pretty sure JN was the tambourine genius on 'Satisfaction'---that incessant 1-2-3 beat it keeps

4/05/2012 07:48:00 AM  

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