Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Declaration of Independence is Unconstitutional

In our review of Ten Universal Principles, we've covered three that pertain to epistemology (the true) and three that apply to ethics (the good). What about the collective good, i.e., politics?

Here again, Spitzer outlines three principles with which any normal person should be able to agree.

We might go so far as to say that this is one of the things that defines a person: the ability to arrive at abstract and universal truths. Obviously, no mere animal can do this.

Or, to paraphrase something E.F. Schumacher wrote, a human isn't just an "animal plus X"; rather, the animal is "human minus X." This is because one cannot get from contingent to universal, or accident to essence, by simply adding some measurable quantity to the former. Contingent + Contingent ≠ Universal.

But what is X?

I would suggest that X is the absolute, although it goes by many names. As Spitzer describes elsewhere, man is always and everywhere aware of "the unrestricted, the unconditional, and the perfect," not just in truth, but love, goodness, beauty, and being as such.

To put it another way, man is always in communion with O, or, in other worlds, suspended somewhere between relative and absolute. Animals are wholly in the relative; God is wholly Absolute; a proper man has one foot in the former, one in the latter. An improper man has one foot in his mouth and the other on a banana peel.

Spitzer lists some of the names of O: Creator, Pure Being, Unconditioned Existence, Being Itself, First Cause, Ground of Being.

To which we might add Unmoved Mover, Tao, Brahman, Primordial Slack, Escape from the Planet of the Clocks, Something for Nothing, SomeOne for Nobody, Same Old Ombuddhi, the Free Launch, the Error in My Favor, the Found Money, the Beautiful Genie, Barbara Eden, the Womb with a Pew, the Tippling Point, the Last Day of School, the Summa Vacation, etc.

Spitzer's first principle of justice and natural rights is: All human beings possess in themselves (by virtue of their existence alone) the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property ownership; no government gives these rights, and no government can take them away.

There. How difficult was that?

Very difficult if history is our guide and Obama is our example. For instance, did you know that Obama has the power to override your first amendment right to freedom of religion? It's true. I'm not sure who or what grants him this extra-constitutional authority, for he's never disclosed it.

Please note again that this principle is by no means "natural," for if it were, then the Declaration of Independence wouldn't have represented such an audacious haymaker right in Satan's breadbasket.

To this day, the vast majority of governments and people do not accept this principle. Indeed, any secular, materialist, or atheistic person cannot accept it, on pain of immediate self-contradiction.

For the intellectually honest liberal -- surely one must exist somewhere? -- the Declaration of Independence is unconstitutional, pure and simple.

But so too is the Constitution unconstitutional, since one of its reasons for existence is to "secure the blessings of liberty," and blessings come from God. Unless you're a liberal, in which case they emanate from the penumbra of the state.

Spitzer references the old-school Jesuit Francisco Suarez, who adds that the purpose of law -- which is the scaffold of a free government -- is "the due preservation and natural perfection or happiness of human nature."

In other words, the Law has a telos, which is the actualization of man's potential and free discovery of his end. Thus, the state has no right to limit, let alone terminate, your real personhood (which is what all leftist tyrannies do, which is to say, permit only one type of person or none at all; the same goes for speech).

Note that governments do not have "rights." Rather, they have only powers. This obviously goes for states as well, which is why it is absurd to argue for "states rights" in order to bypass the Constitution and restrict human rights.

Which is why the Confederate assouls who used "states-rights" as a pretext to restrict and deny the rights of human beings were anything but conservative. For only a leftist could believe that the state has a supernatural right to strip man of his natural rights.

To be continued....

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cosmic Rules of the Road

We're discussing the Ten Universal Principles with which you can't go wrong -- or, more like it, without which you will definitely go off the realroad.

Why is the cosmos built in this "negativistic" manner? Because if it were not so, free will would essentially be impossible. In other words, if there were a one-to-one relationship between action and outcome, the world would be just one big operant conditioning chamber, or Skinner box, as in the helpful illustration below:


Think of yourself as the rat, the response lever as the Divine Law, and the food dispenser as instant gratification. In such a set-up, there is no real possibility of growth, risk, learning, development, etc. Rather, you'll just keep hammering the joystick. Better to provide a wider field of action, with boundaries indicated by various Don't Go Theres, or Thou Shalt Nots, so you don't fall off the edge of the cosmos and into the abyss in the course of your terrestrial sojourn.

This is the purpose of the system of ordered liberty devised by our founders, in which we are free to do all sorts of things that are impermissible. Conversely, the left always wants to force us to do things it regards as the only things permissible, for example, to discriminate on the basis of race, to fund Democratic campaigns by stealing from future generations, or to purchase certain products of which it approves.

Think about how you raise a child. Now that Future Leader is almost seven years old, I've been exposed to a fair sample of children, and there is a certain quality that always attracts me, or at least doesn't annoy me. To put it simply, these are children who are well behaved and yet full of spontaneity, adventure, fun, and imagination. This is in sharp contrast to children who are well behaved but repressed, so that the life force is quashed; or children who are full of life, but who are obnoxious.

So the problem is, how do we introduce "rules for living" that don't end up making life a crashing bore? Clearly, there is some truth to the liberal caricature of this type of person, e.g., Ned Flanders.

We'll address that question as we proceed. Yesterday we discussed the three principles of epistemology, or of evidence and truth: 1) The best opinion or theory is the one that explains the most data, 2) Valid opinions and theories have no internal contradictions, and 3) Nonarbitrary opinions or theories are based upon publicly verifiable evidence.

Next up are three principles of ethics, or of how to behave toward others. Note that they aren't at all repressive, so long as one has truly internalized and assimilated them.

In fact, that's not quite right, because it is more the recognition of a reality that is already there, not something that is radically extrinsic to us (for if it were extrinsic, we could no more learn it than can a rattle snake or grizzly bear). It is a kind of "intrinsic morality" that nevertheless needs to be modeled in order to awaken and actualize. And the best way to model it is in interacting with one's child, day in, day out.

The first principle provides a minimal ethic that would nevertheless, if it were respected by everyone, result in a kind of terrestrial paradise: Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.

Notice that this is not the "golden rule," but rather, the silver rule; instead of asking us to do good, it merely enjoins us to do no harm. You don't need to be a saint. Just don't be an assoul.

But again, to the extent that this principle is internalized -- or recognized -- it is rooted in a kind of deep intersubjective empathy through which we are able to put ourselves in the place of the other, and understand that "my brother is myself."

Once one is capable of reliably intuiting this, one doesn't have to be reminded or goaded into not gratuitously hurting people. Rather, it just "comes naturally," even though it is what would more accurately be described as a "supernaturally natural" capability.

As Spitzer explains, this principle is "the most fundamental of all ethical principles, because if it fails, then all other ethical principles fail as well." He points out that the logic behind the principle is as cogent as, say, the principle of non-contradiction.

Why? Because denying it immediately introduces a kind of primordial injustice, i.e., "I am permitted to harm you, but you are not permitted to harm me," and acquiescence to the latter principle would render civilization impossible. It would reduce to a Hobbesian war of each against all. Conversely, "if others are obliged not to harm us unnecessarily, then we are obliged not to harm them unnecessarily."

The second ethical principle is the consistency of means and ends, i.e., the end does not justify the means. The only exception to this rule -- and it is an important one -- is that "one can use an objectively wrong means (such as lying) to prevent a greater evil (such as murder)" (ibid.).

This is a principle that secularists (obviously) and many religious people get wrong, the former because they imagine that the exception proves morality to be entirely relative, the latter because they concretize the rule so as to deny the exception.

Dennis Prager often discusses this, and he gets a considerable amount of disagreement from the fundamentalist crowd, i.e., that there are degrees of sin. (Lower case o) orthodox Christians have no difficulty with this idea, but a lot of fundamentalists seem to occupy a kind of unambiguous either/or, saved/damned universe, which goes back to what was said above about obsessive-compulsiveness masquerading as religiosity (there is a considerable amount of this religious OCD in the Islamic world as well).

The third ethical principle is full of implications that I won't have time to fully explicate, but it is The Principle of Full Human Potential: Every human being (or group of human beings) deserves to be valued according to the full level of human development, not the level of development currently achieved.

This principle results from the fact that man is always simultaneously himself and not himself; rather, he is always "on the way" to himself, from the moment of conception to the moment of death, and we have no right to impose some arbitrary time slice and insist that anything less is not a human being. Which is why, for example, the entire legal basis of abortion is completely illogical.

For it is pure sophistry to define a human being by one of his stages instead of by his totality.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Truth and Consequences

The irony, of course, is that we can never have objective knowledge of the objective world, whereas we may have objective knowledge of the subjective world. In other words, the cosmic situation is exactly the opposite of what materialists imagine.

What I mean by this is that -- for starters -- Gödel's theorems render any totalistic scientific explanation strictly impossible.

And frankly, I don't even think we need Gödel to tell us that any scientific theory is going to contain premises for which it cannot account. The most complete "theory of everything" is, by definition, going to have a gaping omission.

After all, one has to start somewhere, and one must arrive at this somewhere prior to one's eventual explanation. Thus, the bottom line is that any merely scientific account is going to be either consistent or complete, but not both. D'oh!

As we have mentioned in the past, many postmodern types who do not understand Gödel use his theorems as a bulwark against absolutism. Since no theory is complete, all theories become equal, and we descend into the nihilism of deconstruction.

But that is not what Gödel meant. Here again, we do not need Gödel to remind us that human beings know any number of truths which cannot be proved with mere logic. Gödel was not saying that objective truth doesn't exist because logic cannot prove it; rather, that there exist truths beyond logic.

After all, logic cannot furnish its own materials, but requires an alogical -- or translogical -- being to do so.

So the first axiom of logic is not the law of identity, or of the excluded middle, but: the middleman, the human being, who, by definition, transcends the logical system he deploys. If he doesn't, then man cannot actually prove anything, for he can never escape the closed circle of logic.

Nevertheless, many people use Gödel as an excuse to plunge into subjectivism, relativism, multiculturalism, and all the rest. The reasoning apparently goes something like this: if even science cannot prove any ultimate truth, how much less is religion entitled to make such a claim?

On the surface this sounds plausible, but if we look a little deeper, we can detect the systematic stupidity of the tenured. For Spitzer puts forth ten principles that he suggests are undeniable by reason. Or, to put it another way, these are ten principles that any reasonable person -- and a "person" is a being endowed with reason -- will accept as true.

Some of them touch on "science," others on virtue and on the very possibility of civilization. As Spitzer explains, "Three of them concern evidence and objective truth, three of them concern ethics, three of them concern dignity and treatment of human beings within civil society, and one of them concerns personal identity and culture."

Now, what is truth? Well, for one thing, it is the thing that results in bad stuff happening if we fail to appreciate it. This applies to every level of reality, from the lowest (i.e., physics) to the highest (i.e., spirit). Ignore the law at your own peril, whether it is the law of gravity ("I can fly!") or the law of humility ("I'm a god!).

So, we are always free to disobey the law. But "Failure to teach and practice any of these principles can lead to an underestimation of human dignity, a decline in culture, the abuse of individuals and groups of individuals, and an underestimation of ourselves and our potential in life."

And "Failure to teach and practice several of these principles will most certainly lead to widespread abuse and a general decline in culture" (Spitzer).

Take the example of the Islamic world. Why is it so systematically f*cked up? Conversely, why is America that shining city on the globe? The latter (mostly) obeys the law (or used to, anyway, before the ascendence of the left). The former is a metacosmic scofflaw.

Let's start with the first three principles, which apply to evidence and objective truth. Notice that one is always free to ignore them, but that doing so will result in less freedom and a more dysfunctional adaptation to life.

Principle 1: The best opinion or theory is the one that explains the most data.

I mean, right?

Principle 2: Valid opinions and theories have no internal contradictions.

You know, like "This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy," and "except the Keystone pipeline." That's what you call an "internal contradiction." Another one is "we reject supply side economics" and "feeding a massive top-down state is the key to economic prosperity."

Principle 3: Nonarbitrary opinions or theories are based upon publicly verifiable evidence.

All tyranny begins and ends with violation of this principle, e.g., "Jews are an inferior race," "poverty causes crime," "the constitution is a living document that means what we want it to mean," etc.

Without question, truth is the most important value of a civilization: "No bias, ostracization, marginalization, or persecution ever occurred without someone claiming that their biases were the 'truth'" (ibid.). Once the lie is accepted as truth, then horror follows, owing to man's innate respect for truth. For man so loves truth, that he will commit heinous acts in defense of it.

For example, if it is really true that the black man has no rights the white man is bound to respect; or that a fetus is not a human being; or that men and women have no essential differences; or that America is the "great satan," then people will act on these "truths" in good conscience.

To be continued....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stuff Not Even a Liberal Can't Not Know

Underneath it all, the fundamental division among Americans is between relativists and absolutists.

Which, of course, makes no sense -- it is absolute nonsense -- because who is more certain of the truth of his convictions than the sanctimonious liberal who knows all conservatives are racists, or the naive Darwinian who can explain everything but the explainer, or the hammerheaded atheist who regards God as the big nail in the sky?

So the real division is between absolutists and people who pretend not to be. Which means that there is always this make believe element to leftism, in that the leftist must pretend to not know things one cannot not know. In many ways, a college education -- I mean a thorough one -- systematically trains one to deny the undeniable and therefore promulgate the unthinkable. By which I mean sling the bullshit.

What distinguishes man from the beasts is this knowledge of the Absolute in all its forms. We may think of the Absolute as a kind of central sun, with its rays extending down into creation. Each ray is a "mode" of the absolute, for example, with regard to truth, beauty, virtue, justice, etc. "Judgment" is what allows humans to determine where a particular instance falls along the ray.

For example, to say that this is more beautiful than that is to locate the entity in question higher up on the spectral ray. Thus, the existence of absolute truth necessitates the existence of relative truth.

But the converse could never be true; and in fact, it could never be at all. In other words, absolute relativity is a contradiction in terms, because the relative is always testimony of the absolute.

The moment one realizes this -- assuming one really and truly does -- one understands that the human state is not and cannot be any kind of Darwinian "extension" of the animal state, but something fundamentally inexplicable on any materialistic basis.

Yes, there is continuity, of course, and it is the task of science to explain this continuity. But there is also irreducible discontinuity, and to the extent that science ignores this, it will generate ambiguity, absurdity, and paradox.

For example, let us say that man and chimp share 99.6% of their DNA, or whatever it is. Far from explaining the continuity, this only shows how DNA is powerless to account for the shocking discontinuity between man and beast -- unless one wishes to argue that all the painting, poetry, and music, all the novels, symphonies, games, and jokes, all of the science, religion, mathematics, and genetics is in that little accident of biology.

Is the study of genetics genetic? No, of course not. Humanness is in fact the gate of exit out of mere animality -- indeed, out of the relative cosmos itself. Humans are the "hole" in creation that permits knowledge of the whole of creation; in our heart is a mysterious absence that potentially holds all the Presence. To put it another way, man is an incomplete completeness, which is another term for our neoteny, or endless childhood.

Please note that there is this critical relationship -- and all religions speak of it -- between the absence and the Presence, the relative and the Absolute. Animals do not know this absence, which amounts to the recognition of one's relativity, hence one's dependence. But to be aware of absence is to know in an instant that one stands in relation. To what? Or, more to the point, Whom? I AM, for starters.

Having said that, it is eminently possible for human beings to deny the absence, which results in two conditions, both fatal. First, it forecloses knowledge of the absolute; second, it inserts a false absolute in the space the real one should occupy. In short, this is the zone of the graven image that exiles one from eternity.

For in knowing absolute truth, human beings may participate in eternity on this side of manifestation -- in the relative world. We do this by 1) aligning ourselves with truth, and 2) assimilating truth.

By "assimilating," I mean that we must metabolize truth so that it is interiorized and becomes mingled with our own psychic substance. We must "eat and breathe" truth in order to become it and live it.

Some people think Catholics are primitive, but we all practice theophagy in one form or another, even -- or especially -- coprophagics (and let's not even talk about chopraphagics. Disgusting!).

Now, the typical irreligious yahoo does indeed believe in the absolute, even if his metaphysic denies its possibility. For example, physicists believe there must be a "theory of everything" that unifies all physical forces and explains creation without remainder. Likewise, many biologists believe natural selection to be a universal principle that doesn't only apply to biology, but even to cosmology.

Indeed, most of us don't have difficulty with the idea that there are universal scientific truths such as E=MC² or the second law of thermodynamics.

But what about the moral law? And what about beauty? For some reason, even as science has penetrated more deeply into the physical laws that govern matter, people have backed away from the idea that man can also draw nearer to virtue and beauty (with exceptions, for example, physicists and mathematicians who are guided by a sense of "explanatory beauty" in their equations).

Since I'm almost out of time, I guess that was a longwinded introduction to Ten Universal Principles, by Robert Spitzer. In the thoughtful words of the ubiquitous Professor Backflap,

"How do we make sense of life? How should we treat others? How should we reasonably be expected to be treated by others? When human life is at stake, are there reasonable principles we can rely on to guide our actions? How should our laws be framed to protect human life? What kind of society should be built?

"Many people rely on their religious beliefs to answer these questions. But not everyone accepts the same religious premises or recognizes the same spiritual authorities. Are there 'public arguments' -- reasons that can be given that do not presuppose agreement on religious grounds or common religious commitments -- that can guide our thoughts and actions, as well as our laws and public policies?

"In Ten Universal Principles, Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer sets out... ten basic principles that must govern the reasonable person's thinking and acting about life issues."

And so he does. And so we will. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

No Success Like Failure

This post evidently brings to a conclusion our three month excursion into Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism, which began last October, some 70 posts ago. I wonder if that makes the exegesis longer than the book, the echo longer than the echee?

I suppose that would be typical of any great book, which generates far more verbiage than that contained within its covers.

One might say that a timeless work of genius cannot be contained within itself, precisely. Nor could a mere threescore and ten toptypsical renderings expend what our friend penned, for every crookward feller has his own meandertalltale to tell, and no other soul can toll your own bell.

The previous post concluded with the observation that "if vulgar Darwinism is the integral truth of man, dreadful consequences necessarily follow -- not the least of which being the impossibility of absolute truth and objective morality."

That Darwinism can satisfy the cramped and barren intellect of contemporary timedwellers and ideobots is a statement about their desiccated intellect, not about Truth.

At the very least, these spiritual ungreats have no idea what religion has done for them, because it has all been done collectively and subliminally through a kind of cultural and historical osmosis.

But to be unaware of the extraordinary spiritual sacrifices others have made in order to make your otherwise insignificant life possible is to live as a barbarian. Your whole miserable life is lived in borrowed -- no, stolen -- Light, which you cannot even acknowledge.

As alluded to in the book, culture is analogous to a little clearing in a vast forest. Without culture, we are in total darkness. But different cultures permit varying degrees of light to enter. Some are still mostly forest, while others have cleared enough of the surrounding vegetation to take in the light from distant stars.

Thus, in a certain sense, light is space, perceptually speaking. To an animal without eyes, its "space" consists of whatever it is touching in that moment (let's leave ears to the side for the purposes of this example). It literally lives in a two-dimensional world. With eyes -- which specifically register light -- we suddenly inhabit a three-dimensional sensorium.

But this introduces a new problematic, for how vast is this sensorium? Is it infinite? If so, space merely introduces man to his own insignificance, as he is a kind of absurd projection of infinite finitude, which we symbolize ( ). Note that the symbol implies "containment," but of nothing, so that man's very existence mocks itself.

So man tells stories in order to contain himself and allay anxiety of the infinite, which results in (•). Among other things, that condensed little dot stands for saturation, the consoling absence of ambiguity that results from any ideology, whether Darwinism, scientism, leftism, feminism, Islamism, Christianism, whatever.

But man cannot contain himself. This is true of every level of being -- quintessentially so of the spiritual level, from which the others are declensions or projections. To say that man must love is to say that he must exist outside himself -- or that the other must exist within him. This is precisely what we would expect to see in a creature who is in the image of a trinitarian godhead.

Truth is both timeless and universal, so that what is true will always be so. Scientific fads and fashions will come and go, but Man will always be in the image of the Creator, a meta-cosmic truth from which our rights, our duties, and our dignity flow. An undignified man has no rights, and a man with no rights has no dignity. Likewise, a man with no obligations is not a man. (We are not speaking legalistically, of course, but morally, or better, ontologically.)

Man's obligations are prior to his rights, for if the reverse is true, man makes himself a god. This is the upside-down god of the left, for it is the undignified man who is entitled to his rights, which are actually your obligations. But to be forcefully obligated in this manner is to be treated in an undignified manner, so we end in a tyranny of the undignified. See contemporary culture for details.

Only man can -- and therefore must -- live by the light of eternity, so that all we do, say, write, create, and think, can resonate with what surpasses itself, and thus "pass the test of time":

"Artists, like esoterists, are obliged to make their works pass the trial of time, so that the poisonous plants from the sphere of mirages can be uprooted, and there remains only the wheat -- pure and ripe" (MOTT).

When we write so much as a measly blog post, we would like for it to stay written. We are always scribbling from the standpoint of eternity, not because we are grandiose, but because it is the least we can do, cosmic etiquette being what it is.

Nor are we suggesting that we succeed, only that to even attempt to do this is the privilege of a lifetome. Or painting. Or photograph. Or musical composition.

Otherwise, there is no point whatsoever in putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, at least regarding the matters we discuss here. This is not supposed to be an exercise in (•), but an exorcism thereof, a verticalaesthetic and a gymnostic.

In order to properly do one's omwork, one's writing must be "objective," even while being "transparent," or perhaps "translucent," in that it must be both solid and capable of trasmitting the Light. Why? Because this is just the way the Divine Spirit rolls. Deal with it.

To leggo the ego is merely a means to try to transcend all pettiness, all that is timebound, all that refers back to oneself instead of pointing beyond. I must decrease so that He may increase: one "becomes poor, so as to be able to receive the wealth of the divine spirit..."

This is -- to come full circle -- "the gesture of actualizing below that which is above" (MOTT), so that one's very life becomes a work of sacred art -- which is again to be transparent to that which transcends oneself. Thank God it's impossible.

Adieu, dear unknown friend.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Matter Über Alles and the Elimination of Man

Before we risk sticking our foot in the mouth of the sacred river,

"The rule of every serious esoterist should be to be silent -- often for a length of years -- concerning every new illumination or inspiration that he has, so as to give it the necessary time to mature, i.e., to acquire that certainty which results from its accordance with moral consciousness, moral logic, the totality of spiritual and ordinary experience -- that of friends and spiritual guides of the past and present -- as also with divine revelation, whose eternal dogmas are guiding constellations in the intellectual and moral heaven" (Meditations on the Tarot).

Consider the fact that even Jesus spoke scarcely a word of these matters to another human being until around age 30. Proof of this is found in Luke 2:41-50, in which the 12 year old Jesus runs away, and three anxious days later is found by his parents in the temple, hashing things out with the rabbis and amazing his parents with his spiritual knowledge. Who knew? Not Jesus! (This will become clear as we proceed.)

Interesting that on the threshold of manhood -- 13 in the Jewish world -- the boy Jesus disappears for -- what else? -- three days, only to reappear, now capable of matching wits with the best and brightest menschen. His parents are amazed at the transformation, and frankly confess to not understanding his oblique explanation.

Luke 2:47 notes that his interlocutors were "astonished" at his answers and his understanding, which obviously cuts both ways -- like a newborn baby who looks just... breathtaking!

Knowledge is one thing, understanding another. Sometimes there is an overlap, while often -- especially the higher up the epistemological food chain one proceeds -- the less this will be the case. For example, there is pretty much of a complete overlap between the form and content of radical Darwinism. To know it is to understand it.

Conversely, one may know virtually everything about religion, and yet, understand none of it. Not to get sidetracked, but this was one of Bonhoeffer's consistent themes, and it was indeed a... breathtaking thing to say in a Lutheran culture that tended toward bibliolatry. For this reason, Bonhoeffer uttered many Eckhart-worthy statements that... astonished his fellow theologians, for example, in his advocacy of what he called "religionless Christianity":

"What Bonhoeffer meant by 'religion' was not true Christianity, but the ersatz and abbreviated Christianity that he spent his life working against." He warned that "the time when people could be told everything by means of words, whether theological or pious, was over..." Rather, "God always required something deeper than religious legalism" (Metaxas).

Thus, in another Eckhartian orthoparadox, he commented that "every sermon must contain 'a shot of heresy,' meaning that to express the truth, we must sometimes overstate something or say something in a way that will sound heretical -- though it must certainly not be heretical" (ibid.).

Along these lines, Bonhoeffer said that in order to become "fully human," we must bring the Creator into our "whole life, not merely into some 'spiritual' realm" (ibid). But only a willful moron would take this to mean that, say, an embryo, or infant, or disabled person, isn't "fully human," as did the Nazis.

Another one: "Where God tears great gaps, we should not try to fill them with human words." The same applies to the psychological dimension, especially in more intelligent, literate, and articulate patients, who have a rapid-response ability to paper over such gaps.

The "intelligent atheist" operates in just this manner. It's all so glib, but apparently self-satisfying in a way that is difficult for the more open-minded person to comprehend.

One wants to say: "Okay, let's assume your analysis is correct up to the point you have carried it. But why are you arbitrarily stopping there? Why not take the next step, to that for which your manmade explanation does not and cannot account?" In short, why not dive into the deep end of 〇 instead of standing there in the wading pool?"

Just because one can read, it hardly means one understands. Rather, it merely gives the illusion of understanding. Plenty of liberals have gone to law school, and yet, do not understand the point of the Constitution.

Nor do atheists understand religion, to which they stand as living proof. Only a kind of cosmic narcissism or spiritual autism allows them to convert a disability into a virtue, to elevate a confession of ignorance to a vehicle of truth. It's transparently childlike, really, for children are also unable to stand back from their immediate perceptions, appreciate their limitations, and take a more objective and disinterested view. I mean, if human knowledge is the ultimate, then knowledge is nothing, right?

Once detached from the vertical, one is in what unKnown Friend calls the "zone of mirages."

Now, just because this zone isn't real, it doesn't mean it isn't "creative." It's just that it is a kind of lesser creativity (the world of the infertile eggheads) that bears on no eternal truth or beauty transcending itself. It is "art for art's sake," which is no better than "science for science's sake," for it is a chicken swallowing its own egg. But at least it answers that eternal question of which came first, the chicken or egg: neither!

Conventional leftists imagine that conservatives are "anti-science" because we understand that science has obvious limits, and that it must always converge upon something higher than itself, at risk of becoming demonic. One can never derive values from science -- the ought from the is. Or, one can, but at risk of instant dehumanization and rebarbarization.

This is indeed the monstrosity -- the monstrous element -- of reductionistic Darwinism: not that it is "true" in its own limited way, but that it replaces the Truth of which it can only be a tiny reflection.

For if vulgar Darwinism is the integral truth of man, dreadful consequences necessarily follow -- not the least of which being the impossibility of absolute truth and objective morality. I won't even bother to catalogue all of the consequences of a blind materialism, but Bonhoeffer himself was one of its victims -- a victim of matter über alles.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Drifting in the Moment and Putting Down Roots in the Eternal

[W]e live in tents, not houses, for spiritually we are always on the move. We are on a journey through the inward space of the heart, a journey not measured by the hours of our watch or the days of the calendar, for it is a journey out of time and into eternity. --Kallistos Ware

Two posts back, our unKnown Friend was speaking of the joy that accompanies movement of any kind.

Whoosh!

Again!

Which brings back fond memories of the sacred Road Trip. Back in our college daze -- which, to our dismay, lasted only four terms (Ford, Carter, Reagan, and a slice of Nixon) -- we would load up the vehicle with a few cases of beer, get on the road, and take off for parts unknown.

It seems to me that it was more the sheer movement we craved. It didn't matter where we ended up, so long as we ended up in an altered state and not in a holding cell somewhere in the coastal mountains of California.

Unlike earlier phases of childhood, there was no clamorous Are we there yet?! For truly, there was no there there -- at least no abstract there that could compete with the vibrantly present here here now!

Now, just translight that last sentence into a general principle for living, minus the intoxicants (or deployed in a more sober manner).

There is a veiled reference to this on p. 206 of the Coonifesto, where it speaks of the frantic effort to chase after artificially induced episodes of (?!). This pretty much went with the erritory of being an adoltolescent Baby Boomer in the mid '70s, after the draft had safely ended and the pretentious efforts to save the world from American aggression turned inward, toward the ongoing struggle to make the world safe for infantile narcissism (which had been the true motive-force to begin with):

"Such Dionysian characters often attempt to terminate (•) with extreme prejudice. Although it would be misleading and sanctimonious to dismiss this approach as fruitless, it does not present itself as a sustainable lifestyle, nor may it be consistent with the relatively long life required to achieve a stable (¶).

"For other, more sober types, these tantalizing flashes of an alternative reality may become the initial motivation for a more methodical spiritual practice that attempts to follow (?!) back upstream to their source in 〇. Only through spiritual development can these metaphysical freebies evolve into a more conscious relationship to something that is felt as a continuous presence."

Which, when you think about it, is another kind of "movement," from one state of mind to another; or, more to the point, from a transient state of mind to an enduring state of being. From my first taste of satan's balm at the age of 17, I well remember this sensation of psychic movement. Technically speaking, I never really cared for being intoxicated. Rather, I enjoyed the movement in that direction. Once one was there, the movement -- and fun -- was over. Which is also why I shunned wine and hard liquor: too fast.

I remember back when I was in film school, we talked about the idea that there are two archetypal American characters, one of whom put down roots, the other of whom jes' kept on a-movin'.

The latter was one of the great things about America, the mobility. America is all about mobility of various kinds -- not just social and economic, but intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual as well. (When my father first emigrated here from static England, the first thing he did was drive cross country, stopping place to place for temporary employment.)

While most immigrants come to America for the economic movement, there was a time that the majority came for the possibility of spiritual movement. Then there are the whordes of fraudulent slack peddlers, 'deepack of wily liars who combine the two by marketing a worthless version of spirit, or an expensive version of cheap grace.

I'm no big fan -- or even fan -- of Jack Kerouac, but I just googled him for a quote, since his On the Road has become the adolescent archetype (or at least resonates with the original archetype) for the peculiarly American joy of sheer movement, or the exteriorization of inward mobility:

"What is the feeling when you're driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? -- it's the too huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

“We were all delighted, we all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one and noble function of the time, move.”

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”

I remember Seinfeld touching on this in one of his routines. His hobby is driving. Why? Because one can be both outside and inside, sitting and moving, stationary and hurtling, at the same time.

I agree. Although I am now more of an extreme indoorsman, my favorite exterior hobby might well be driving my jalopy through the canyon roads on the way to and from work, with the CD player blasting. It seems to me that this activity is a sort of miracle, and yet, it's so common that people don't seem to fully appreciate it. Flying through space with Sun Ra in your ears, playing for you from saturn via his cosmic funkmanship? Remarkable.

I think "progressives" must confuse the road trip with politics. That is, at the end of the day, despite all of the frenetic movement, the progressive still hasn't gotten anywhere. Rather, he's just blown the money tree leaves (HT American Digest) from one place to another, minus the government's hefty vig.

Indeed, the whole point of a real road trip is to go from somewhere to nowhere, just for the thrill of getting lost. But in order to do this, one must have maps and boundaries. In other words, to go off the map, one must first have one. For the extreme seeker, the groomed slopes are needed to get to the ungroomed slopes. Which is why the drifters need the settlers, and vice versa. They are a function of one another.

But look at the Obama cultists, a disproportionate number of whom are the young and stupid. Why? Because they want change, AKA movement. They didn't vote for a president, but for a driver for their childish political road trip. What's wrong with these kids today? Haven't they ever heard of drugs? Or is mass leftism their only hopiate?

Don't do as the hypocritical Obama says, but do as he did, and spend your college days sucking on a bong. At least you'll only harm yourself instead of taking the country down with you. Don't be like the boomers, and try to get high off politics! You'll only end up addicted.

Now, there are two kinds of spirituality that mirror the drifter and settler, which you might say reflect the "static" and "dynamic" aspects of God. The further east you go -- psychospiritually speaking -- the more you see the divine stasis, the eternal rest, the unmoved mover, the idea of entering nirvana, which literally means to "extinguish the light."

But the same holds for Christianity, in that Eastern Orthodoxy prides itself on the fact that it hasn't changed since the time of the apostles. For them, the Catholics are the Protestants.

On the other extreme, you have all of the Christian movements that have arisen here in the United States. Why? I imagine a big part of it has to do with the idea of movement as it pertains to the American psyche. We will never be a majority Catholic or Orthodox nation for the same reason we reject public transportation. We want to travel about in our own vehicles. Is it possible to do this without being hopelessly heretical and narcissistic, like the new agers and integralists? Is it possible to be an "orthodox drifter," a straight hobosexual?

As a matter of fact, I think UF does a pretty good job of describing this person in Letter IX, The Hermit. For isn't that what the Hermit is, a spiritual drifter making his way from day-to-day to this or that temporary shelter?

Come to think of it, what's the subtitle of MOTT? A Journey into Christian Hermeticism. And will you be, like, happy, when the journey's over? Or eager to take off again on the next same one?

One of the best known of the Desert Fathers of fourth-century Egypt, St. Sarapion the Sindonite, traveled once on a pilgrimage to Rome. Here he was told of a celebrated recluse, a woman who lived always in one small room, never going out. Skeptical about her way of life -- for he was himself a great wanderer -- Sarapion called on her and asked: "Why are you sitting here?" To this she replied: "I am not sitting, I am on a journey." --Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Cheap Grace and Cheaper Intelligence of the Left

It occurred to me this morning at 2:10 AM, when I opened my eyes to a fully formed post, that one of the central appeals of modern liberalism for the dead-from-the-neck-up white male is the cheap grace it offers via its institutionalized political kitsch.

Now, I'm quite sure I'm not the first person to have noticed this connection. However, it is the first time I have noticed it -- or at least thought of it in these terms -- undoubtedly because I'm reading this moving biography of Bonhoeffer, an exemplar of the kind of expensive grace that only costs one's life.

A number of other strands came together in that 2:00 AM post. I asked Petey if it could wait until morning, but he was noncommittal as usual, and now here I am trying to put the pieces back together. I have the fragments, but not the whole.

One of the strands had to do with the execrable Chris Matthews, who not only exemplifies the usual sanctimonious cheap grace of the left, but the cheap intelligence that accompanies it.

As we all know, in order to be considered moral or intelligent by the left, one simply has to conform to their ideological template, e.g., demand side economics, global warming, women as victims, political opponents are racist, etc.

In commenting on Newt Gingrich's smackdown of Juan Williams during the debate of two days ago, Matthews said the following:

"I thought we were past all this, didn’t you? You know, the talk about Welfare Queens and phrases like that. Well, you either get the message or you don’t.... this whole conversation isn’t about poverty, but about race. It’s about a candidate who knows just how to make his point to appeal to a certain kind of voter...."

What kind of voter would that be? Ironically, it is about Matthews and his ilk, that is, people who are obsessed with race. In technical terms -- assuming he is being genuine and not just manipulative -- it is a reaction formation, through which the person converts an unacceptable unconscious thought into its conscious opposite.

Thus, "what's with all these black welfare queens?" becomes "why are conservatives so filled with racial animus?" The whole thing has taken place in Matthews' fat head, but it comports with public liberal ideology, so he has no insight into the process -- similar to, say, an anti-Semitic German in the 1930s. Hey, doesn't everyone hate Jews?

This is a preview of how the upcoming presidential campaign is going to be all about race, despite the fact that we specifically elected a "post-racial" president in 2008.

Indeed, despite his spectacular failures, if Obama had only delivered on this promise, his presidency might have been worthwhile, since it would have neutralized this most poisonous and destructive of the left's weapons.

But alas, it was not to be, and we have the most race-conscious and race-baiting administration since perhaps Woodrow Wilson's, that father of modern progressivism. And there's not a thing we can do about it, since allowing a lie to stand is to agree with the lie. But for the liar, defending oneself from their lie is proof of a guilt-ridden defensiveness, so there is no way out. As Vanderleun writes, Obama

"needs to cling, bitterly it may be, to a phalanx of voters who are not African-American in order to win. He can do this with love, with agreement, with fanaticism, and/or with guilt. Of these, the largest segment he can call on would be that powered by guilt. Knowing this the Obama machine can be counted on never to really let up on the 'they hate him not because of the content of his character but because of the color of his skin'" (emphasis mine).

In short, Obama will need to rely on the usual cheap grace and cheaper intelligence of liberal white males in order to defeat the white racist 1950's father of his dark fever dreams.

Well, I got about 20% of the 2:00 AM post down, and now I'm out of time. I'll try to recover the rest tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Become Fully Human and Triple Your Pleasure!

Our unKnown Friend poses the question, "Does not the very idea of movement -- biological, psychic or intellectual, it does not matter -- presuppose an affirmative impulse, a conscious or unconscious 'yes,' self-willed or instinctive, at the basis of all movement that is not purely mechanical?"

Indeed, if this cosmic Yes were not at the basis of things, then "universal weariness and disgust would have long ago put an end to all life." Nor would it have been the last bloomin' word of Ulysses ("yes I said yes I will Yes") or the last word of the penultimate paragraph of OCUG ("A Divine child, a godsend, a touch of infanity, a bloomin' yes").

Yes, it reminds me of something Bernard Lonergan wrote of the distinction between man and animals, and how Darwinism is powerless to account for it (another example of the truism that the intellect explains Darwinism, not vice versa; which is not to say that the latter is wrong, only incomplete, for if it were complete, we couldn't know it).

"[I]t is only when [animals'] functioning is disturbed that they enter into consciousness. Indeed, not only is a large part of animal living nonconscious, but the conscious part itself is intermittent. Animals sleep. It is as though the full-time business of living called forth consciousness is a part-time employee...." (in Spitzer).

Spitzer continues: "When animals run out of biological opportunities and dangers, they fall asleep. When you stop feeding your dog, or giving it affection and attention (biological opportunities), and introduce no biological dangers (such as a predator) into its sensorial purview, it will invariably fall asleep."

Human beings could hardly be more different, for we not only respond to biological opportunities -- i.e., food, sex, and government handouts -- but to intellectual and spiritual uppertunities. At least some of us.

What this means is that the cosmic Yes that unKnown Friend posits as the basis of non-mechanical movement, shades off into the patently non-mechanical domains of intellect and spirit, or knowledge and truth. And the Spirit moves where it will.

Another way of saying it is that animals, outward appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, have no slack. For example, we have a Great Dane who, when food, walks, and affection are not in the offing, is asleep. That amounts to about 23 hours a day, and sleep is not slack unless one places it in the greater context of slack as such.

Conversely, look at what humans do with slack -- which is pretty much everything: "when human beings run out of biological opportunities and dangers, they frequently ask questions, seek purpose or meaning in life, contemplate beauty, think about goodness (or imperfections) of their beloveds, think about unfairness or injustice and how to make their situation or the world better, and even think about mathematics, physics, philosophy, and theology -- for their own sake" (ibid).

The operative phrase is for their own sake, which is synonymous with a stance of disinterestedness. Thus, ironically, animals are only capable of "interestedness." When there is nothing of biological -- which is to say, Darwinian -- interest, the animal goes into energy conserving mode, like your computer.

Only human beings awaken to an interesting world of disinterested interest -- which is the only possible approach to truth, since truth is only sullied (or Sullivaned) by desire, fear, ambition, etc. Ultimately this results from the fact that the intellect as such is of the substance of truth, and only like can know like.

Now that I think about it, virtually all forms of mental illness have as a central feature a lack of movement, or a "stuckness" about them (or else a kind of meaningless agitation that goes nowhere). For example, when someone is depressed, it is not just that they are sad -- everyone has their moods -- but that they are in a kind of static, heavy, and occluded state of mind. There is no movement. Or, if there is movement, it's all arbitrary. Nothing is any better or worse than anything else. There is no convergent meaning, as everything goes "flat."

Let's take another example, the pathological narcissist. The narcissist typically develops a "false self" or "as if" personality to negotiate with the outside world. While he will use people to prop up and mirror the false self, in reality, there is no deep exchange with others, i.e., no L (love) or K (knowledge) link.

Rather, the clinical narcissist uses people in order to maintain a kind of static equilibrium, so as to avoid intolerable emotions, in particular, shame. In other words, the narcissist may outwardly appear to have a strong ego, but it is actually quite brittle. The very purpose of his narcissistic defenses (i.e., the false self) is to protect the unthought true self from an emotional catastrophe.

But such a person slowly dies from within, because if one cannot suffer pain, one cannot suffer pleasure. In order to maintain the closed system, the narcissist also closes himself to real love, which causes the soul to wither from within. He eventually dies of his addiction to the false mirroring he craves.

When people hear the term "narcissism," they often think of it in terms of physical attributes, but it can equally apply to the intellect (or to any other positive attribute, for that matter). Academia is full of "brilliant" people whose intelligence has been hijacked in the service of their narcissism, the result being that their minds eventually become closed and therefore no longer susceptible to real organic growth (vs. a kind of mechanical accumulation).

Obama's anti-science advisor, John Holdren, comes readily to mind, but one could think of hundreds of others.

In all forms of enduring psychopathology, portions of the personality can become sealed off, frozen, and autistic, and therefore highly resistant to change -- like giant boulders, or sometimes fine sand, within the soul. Other times it is felt as a kind of icy glacier. The underlying reality is essentially joyless because it does not flow.

Some people who appear to be open are actually tightly closed systems who are merely interacting with their own disavowed projections. One thinks of the mythifolkers who suffered through Bush Derangement Syndrome, and who now constitute the OWSers -- the rabble without a clue -- and their academedia sympathizers.

It's fascinating when you think about it, because these people are under the delusion that they are interacting with the outside world, when it couldn't be more obvious that they are really just trapped in their own absurcular errspace. To withdraw psychic toxins from George Bush and reproject them into "Wall Street" is just a case of new whines in the same battle.

And here is another key point: this state also brings a kind of pseudo-freedom that conceals actual enslavement to the projected object, from which the projector cannot escape. It reminds me of the Taoist principle that if you want to control a bull, just give it a large pasture.

In America, "freedom of speech" is precisely that large pasture, in which people are free to construct their own fences and define their own arbitrary psychospiritual limits, which then provide the subjective illusion of real freedom. But Raccoons -- by their very nature -- are very quick to identify these intellectual and spiritual fences, which we don't so much trespass as transpass. For us, a wall is a challenge, not a limit. Build one and we'll just stand on it to see further.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Of Moonbats & Moonshine: The Drunken Whinos of the Tenebriated Left

I have half a mind to imitate government employees and take a day off from pretending to work.

Which reminds me of something I once said about clinical depression. When one is depressed, it takes all day to get nothing done.

But seriously, I'm more than a little ambivalent about this MLK birthday business. My son attends a private school, but even he still had to spend last Friday learning all about racism. Problem is, he has no frame of reference, since his friends are of every colorition of the rainbow, and better yet, he doesn't notice. Hence the truism that if racism didn't exist, the left would have to invent it.

Because he has no awareness of race, he must first be made race-conscious, and learn that people are supposedly categorizable on the basis of skin color; and that some people hate others on the basis of this distinction.

But of course it makes no sense to him. To hear him explain it, we celebrate this holiday because brown kids can use the drinking fountain. Which isn't completely mangled, but what is the point of cluttering his head in this manner? In the course of a normal education -- which involves education of the spirit, quintessentially -- one would naturally arrive at the same conclusion, unless there is something fundamentally wrong with the Democrat-controlled educational system. But since when have Democrats ever not been obsessed with race?

File under Don't Get Me Started. Let's move on.

Continuing with the subject of the false Holy Spirit, the only way to guard against this is to first and foremost seek Truth, and then allow joy to be a byproduct. If one seeks first the joy, then one will become the sort of "intellectual drunkard" that is so popular in Europe.

There, tenebriated ginheads and leftist whinos are elevated to great authority, as if their opinions matter more than those of, say, a businessman, much less a coonical pslackologist. Here in the US we mainly quarantine these pests in state-funded looniversity bins, and otherwise don't take them too seriously.

Historically this has been one of the keys to our success, even preeminence. Only with FDR did the self-styled intellectual class begin having some real clout in government, and we can all see where it has led. No coincidence that our greatest presidents, Washington and Lincoln, were not impaired by college.

Secular intellectualism in any form is simply unsustainable. This is soph-evident if one simply pursues its first principles to their logical ends. There is always a day of wreckening for ideas detached from reality. For the United States, that day has arrived, and yet, there is still a 50-50 chance that the country will not pull back from the abyss and reclaim the keys to our printing press from this debt-addled president.

The "false joy" of the intellectual drunk is the intoxicated self-satisfaction of the narcissistic child, who needs others to mirror his greatness and to reassure him that he really is the center of the universe.

Now that I have a three and a-half year old (now six and a-half) who is at the zenith of his narcissistic joy -- not to mention a number of relatives from the world of post-education -- I have even more insight into the psychodynamics of the tenured, whose narcissism appropriates whatever intelligence they have been given, in the service of a joyous celebration of the self. Hence the adages, "publish the perishable" and "let the dead bury the tenured."

As unKnown Friend explains, the difference between dead and living truth is that the former is conceived in the false joy of intoxication, while the latter results in a kind of "sober joy." In turn, this joy "is the key which opens the door to understanding the Arcanum of the world as a work of art," because the joy is a result of a sort of inner harmony; or specifically, a "rhythmic harmony" between the inner and outer, above and below:

"Joy is therefore the state of inner rhythm with outer rhythm, of rhythm below with that of above, and, lastly, of the rhythm of created being with divine rhythm." Call it the Tao, if you like, for the essence of Taoism involves harmonizing oneself with these greater cosmic rhythms. Ignoring them will bring pain and disorder in one way or another.

Existence and life are a function of countless rhythms at every level of being. Interestingly, as we have discussed before, we come into the world in a state of "rhythmic chaos," so that the most important function of early parenting is to help the child internalize various rhythms, which will achieve physiological and psychological "set points" with regard to sleep, hunger, mood, self image, and eventually identity.

A mentally ill person will always suffer from some sort of dysregulation, say, of self esteem, or shame, or anger, or impulse control. The dysregulation results in chronic disharmony between inner and outer (not to mention self/other and above/below), so that they then have chronic relationship problems, or impasses in work and creativity.

In fact, my blogging -- for me, anyway -- is the result of an inner rhythm and resonance between various levels of being, that has now become "locked in," so to speak. It is not something I would have ever thought possible before I started doing it. But again, as UF says, this type of "living rhythm" is basically joy. Which in turn is why the primordial state of man and nature is one of joy: "that the world, in so far as it is a divine creation, is a kingdom of joy. It was only after the Fall that suffering became added to joy."

Now, one of the good & happy things about the Fall is that one may consider it as literally or as metaphorically as one wishes. My main concern is the mechanism through which the Fall repeats itself, and what we can do about it.

In the case of Future Leader, I will be watching very carefully to see that the Conspiracy doesn't get to him too early, before he has had the chance to stably internalize the celestial rhythms, which in turn become a spiritual touchstone for the remainder of one's life. Soon enough, the conspiracy will get its hooks into him and try to rob him of his slack. But with a good foundation, one can repel the pressures of the world, and retain one's ground of slack within the unmoved mover.

Some children are robbed of their slack so early in life, that it is very likely that they have no conscious recollection of it, of "paradise." Nevertheless, there will definitely be an unconscious recollection of deprivation of their birthright, except that they will then project it onto present circumstances.

Given the appalling level of parenting in the Islamic world, one must conclude that this is central to their chronic whining, victimization, paranoia, externalization of blame, homicidal rage, sexual obsessions, and bizarre combination of superiority and psychic brittleness.

But the same dynamic no doubt motivates the left-liberal, who imagines that mother government can make up for the Great Lost Entitlement of Infancy.

I have no doubt that this sad condition has only been aggravated over the past two or three decades, what with the rise of daycare, which results in so many children being denied their birthright and therefore looking for it in all the wrong places -- like the OWSers who are groping for someone to blame for the fact that they are lucky enough to be among the global 1% (HT American Digest).

In other words, unlike adults, the infant is entitled to his omnipotence, and if you fail to provide it to your infant, he will spend the rest of his life either searching for it (the victim) or imagining that he is its source (the narcissist). The former needs the psychic bailout of the breast; the latter imagines that he is the breast. President Obama is only the latest breast; his intoxicated cult members are the hungry mouths.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Don't Misconscrew Reality

We left off yesterday with a word of warning to those who would detach truth from the good and beautiful, or attempt to cuckold the Creator by presuming to steal his eternal mysteress Sophia.

Now, just as there are true illuminations from the Holy Spirit, "so there are intoxications from the spirit of mirage," which our unKnown Friend calls the false holy spirit. Referring to the Holy Spirit as "false" is slightly oxymoronic, but you get the point -- like "false god," or "prophet of atheism," or "liberal messiah."

Here we are dealing not just with Maya, but with the dark side of Maya -- who is, in the negative sense, the power of "cosmic illusion," but in a real and positive sense (switching gears for the moment to a Vedantic terminology), the Creator's divine consort, or Shakti, the latter of which means conscious force.

For our purposes it is somewhat analogous to Gregory Palamas's important deustinction between God's energies and essence. We have access to God's energies but not his essence. We may have a front row seat, but not a backstage pass.

Thus, the energies are not, strictly speaking, "God," but then again, what else are they? They occupy a kind of middle ground that is not dissimilar to what is called the "transitional space" in psychoanalytic parlance.

Culture, for example, takes place in this uniquely human transitional space. Looked at one way, culture is "outside" human beings. But where else could culture be, if it isn't inside humans? Remove the humans, and there is obviously no culture at all.

Thus, culture is a kind of human projection into this transitional space. We all live "in" culture, even though it is ultimately in us. Like Maya it is the nurturing matrix and the devious matricks, the generative womb or the submagical tomb.

Just so, Maya is a kind of divine projection into the world sensorium, for lack of a better term this early in the morning. She is the vehicle of both exile and re-union, depending upon how one looks upon her form, i.e., with lust, love, or lovelust.

Maya embodies the garments over the void, in the absence of which there is only void. Thus, as we say in coonspeak, she always reveils, which is to say, simultaneously veils and reveals. Way it is. There is nothing under that veil but another veil, or, alternatively, nothing.

Maya/Eve has both a mother and lover dimension, which relates to reality and appearances, respectively. To fall in love with appearances is to exclude the possibility of a cosmic family re-union.

Thus, the God-Mary conception is the antidope to the Adam-Eve misconception, the latter of which involves an unholy and scattered matterimany of ego and appearances, which gives birth to the little big god -- AKA the human beastling -- and the false holy spirit.

This is all covered up in a much more obscure manner in pages 6-19 of the bʘʘk, so I won't rebeat that particular horse.

unKnown Friend outlines the criteria for distinguishing between the true and false holy spirit: if one seeks only "the joy of artistic creation, spiritual illumination, and mystical experience," it is ineveateapple that one will "more and more approach the sphere of the spirit of mirage" and become increasingly seduced and hypnotized by her charms. Been there, done that.

BUT, if one first seeks for truth in the above referenced activities, one "will approach the sphere of the Holy Spirit" and open more and more to its influence, which brings with it an entirely different mode of joy and coonsolation, for it is in no way egoic.

Rather, it tends to reverse the forces that result in either hardening or dispersion of the local ego. Call it a "soft and supple center," which is none other than the divine slack and d'light immaculate that gently illuminates "Toots' Tavern," where it is always "happy hour," or the tippling point between appearance and reality.

Again, appearances can be a window or wall, a fiery sign or neon mirage. unKnown Friend discusses the nature of mirages, which are not the same as hallucinations, as they are rooted in something that is "really there" -- as when the asphalt up ahead on the way to Vegas looks "wet," or when you think you can beat the house once you arrive there.

But the mirage is a sort of "floating reflection of reality," which is nonetheless one step removed from it. And this is indeed the problem with what most people call "truth," especially scientistic truth, which floats atop reality like... like some kind of small thing floating on a much bigger thing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Evil is Necessary in a Cosmos that Isn't, but Woe to the Man who Messes with Sophia!

Is it possible that Truth, Love, and Beauty could have their "dark sides," so to speak?

Properly speaking, no; or perhaps yes and NO. For just as light casts a shadow, Truth seems to entail the lie (for the converse could never be true, and lies are obviously all around and often in us).

I am sure this is why Jesus said in the presence of his nonplussed audience, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." Is this an argument against Jesus' divinity? No. Only the wrong kind of divinity, i.e., monophysitism.

Jesus' strictly orthoparadoxical formulation is somewhat of a self-tautology (for he was omschooled), like saying, "nothing is true but Truth alone." But it goes to the ineluctable fact that everything in the realm of manifestation or creation is more or less distant from its Principle or Creator, hence the existence of lies, evil, ugliness, etc. Thank God we can never measure up, otherwise we couldn't measure at all!

Only a fool or a downright decent person asks why there is evil in the world. Infinitely more mysterious is why there are good (or beautiful, or honest, or loving, or virtuous) people to ask the question.

To put it bluntly, evil is necessary (but not permissible!) in a cosmos that isn't. Thus, why do you say I am bad? Nothing is bad except separation from the Creator. All other sin is both unoriginal and derivative.

In other words, if the world were necessary and not contingent, evil could be readily explained without recourse to the Creator. Nothing would be a mystery, even though man couldn't know it. If good didn't exist, we would never puzzle over why things aren't.

But to ask "why is there evil?" is to implicitly recognize the priority of the good. No animal asks this question. Or perhaps only animals, depending upon the depth of their disingenuousness. Either way, in the absence of God, evil is pure illusion anyway, just a projection of animal fear and desire. Only an implicit theologian even asks the question. A true atheist or consistent Darwinian wouldn't waste a second puzzling over it.

But the world is creation, therefore "other" than Creator. It is this essential otherness that brings out the naughtiness in things. And the only cure for otherness is the "link" or bridge of love -- although love manifests in the forms of truth, beauty, and goodness. To deny these latter transcendentals is to pull up one's cosmic drawbridge and live in a dark and silent tomb.

For example, seeing my neighbor as myself overcomes the "otherness" between us, and therefore all of the falsehoods that tend to fill that intersubjective space: envy, paranoia, jealousy, aggression, etc. Love your God. And love the stranger. If I am not mistaken, this would be the essence of Torah.

To put it another way, as we have discussed before, the first five Commandments are "vertical," and govern man-to-God relations. The second five can be thought of as their horizontal prolongation in the world, governing man-to-man relations. The first five emphasize the closeness between man and God. This closeness, if it is "real," will result in solidarity with one's fellow man. In Jesus, this closeness between man and God is "perfect."

But it is a mistake, I believe, to emphasize the Godhood and not the closeness, for in a trinitarian metaphysic, the closeness is God, so to speak. In the above wise crack, Jesus is, among other things, counseling against idolatry.

"The dark side of the good" can also occur as a result of an imbalance or absence of harmony -- the over- or under-emphasis of a principle that can become "less than true" if stripped from its total context.

For example, let's talk about the dangers of beauty. I would say that on the whole, men are more aware of this danger than women, being that women are the primary danger.

Yesterday Mizz E left a comment that speaks to this subject, a "Decalogue of the Artist" as articulated by the Chile Bowl cook-off prize winner -- or possibly Chilean Nobel Prize winner, I forget -- Gabriela Mistral. For example, You shall love beauty, which is the shadow of God 
over the Universe. Note the word shadow. Yes, beauty is "divine light," but not divinity itself, for that way lies idolatry:

Each act of creation shall leave you humble, 
for it is never as great as your dream and always 
inferior to that most marvelous dream of God 
which is Nature.

Here's how our unKnown Friend explains it: the good severed from the beautiful "hardens into principles and laws -- it becomes pure duty."

Likewise, "the beautiful which is detached from the good... becomes softened into pure enjoyment -- stripped of obligation and responsibility." This is the "art for art's sake" of an aesthetic hedonism that soon becomes luciferic at best. Mistral:

You shall create beauty not to excite the senses 
but to give sustenance to the soul. And You shall never use beauty as a pretext for luxury 
and vanity but as a spiritual devotion.

"The hardening of the good into a moral code and the softening of the beautiful to pure pleasure is the result of the separation of the good and beautiful -- be it morally, in religion, or in art. It is thus that a legalistic moralism and a pure aestheticism of little depth have come into existence."

On the one hand, you can have the clenched religious type without joy or art (or, conversely, with a joy and art that are equally kitsch), who co-arises with his shadow, the increasingly antisocial artiste who has become more or less detached from objective truth and virtue (or, conversely, becomes a tedious purveyor of political correctness as a substitute for truth and decency).

Soon enough beauty slips down the wayslide as well, so that art no longer even justifies its existence, for man has no cosmic right to produce ugliness. Or, he is always free, but never at liberty, to be such a thugly assoul. We have all heard the expression "shit masquerading as art," but this is only possible because there are shitheads masquerading as artists.

You will recall that when the Creator enjoyed the First Weekend after six loooooong days of creation, he said to himsoph, it is good. For Sophia was light there withim as he drew that *circle* on the face of the deep (Proverbs 22). Which is why this beautiful creation is infused with so much inexhaustible -- and beautiful -- truth. Which is none other then the Divine Light in all its metaphysical transparency.

So, the arcanum of The World is here to offer a gentle warning to those who would mess with the Creator's woman, because she is your sister (Proverbs 7), not your wife. So back off before you commit the oedipal crime of the ages.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Shooting Real Bullets at Invisible Targets

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. --Schopenhauer

But because we can't see it, we can confuse the genius with someone who just wildly misses the target, which pretty much explains most contemporary art and more than a little scholarshite. More on which later.

Speaking of invisible targets, this post was written from slightly beyond itself, from somewhere over the subjective horizon, so if it fails to hit the cʘʘnseye, please shoot the messenger and unknot the message. If you can see it, genius!

Frankly, I always try to bewrite from just over yonder, because that's the only way to ensure novelty and to laissez le bon timelessness roulé, pardon the English. (How does one say "timeless" in French, besides Jerry Lewis?)

Where's the bloody fun in repeating oneself? If I had wanted to do that, I would have become a Nietzschean and sought the eternal retenure of academia. Out of all the blogs out there, I believe only One Cosmos always cranks the ho-ho-holy blather up to elevenure, every day, 24/7/365/∞. Or it used to, before we stopped posting on weekends.

We left off yesterday with a comment about the need to develop that part of ourselves that is capable of perceiving beauty. Just as thoughts need a thinker, beauty needs the subtle eyes, ears, and hands of the soul to appreciate and create it.

And just as in thought, it is a circular -- or spiraling -- process, in which the end product feeds back and catalyzes the the whole innerprize.

It's autocatalytic, to use the technical term -- which, in a certain sense, is just another word for LIFE. And life without beauty wouldn't and couldn't be, for reasons we will explain. But first, Schuon (read deliberately -- don't be skimbag!):

"Art has a function that is both magical and spiritual: magical, it renders present principles, powers and also things that it attracts by virtue of a 'sympathetic magic'; spiritual, it exteriorizes truths and beauties in view of our interiorization, of our return to the 'kingdom of God that is within you.'

"The Principle becomes manifestation so that manifestation might rebecome the Principle, or so that the 'I' might return to the Self; or simply, so that the human soul might, through given phenomena, make contact with the heavenly archetypes, and thereby with its own archetype."

Do you see the circularity, the autocatalysis?

Circularity: The Principle becomes manifestation so that manifestation might rebecome the Principle.

Autocatalysis (which prevents it from being only a circle, but rather, a spiral): It exteriorizes truths and beauties in view of our interiorization, of our return to the kingdom of Godwithin.

Or, in schematic terms, God (↓) man. So that man might (↑) God. Or, even more simply, (↓↑).

In any event, how could such a sublime metacosmic process not be imbued with unutterable celestial beauty? That would make no sense at all.

In turn, this is why, as Eliot observed, our end precedes our beginning, and we may travel 'round the cosmos only to return to the beginning and know the place for the first time. And this blog aspires to be the area rug, or Big Chief Crazy Quilt, that pulls the cosmic room together.

Zero, point, line, circle, and repent as necessary.

Excuse me?

Just indulge, me okay? Play along with my theometry!

The Father is 〇.

The Son is •.

The Holy Ghost is (↓↑).

Please note that the black fire of the dot is written on the white fire of the unKnown Godhead, while the arrows are the smoke and flames, respectively. Where there is "holy smoke," the flames of agni cannot be far above. Thus the "agni and ecstasy" referred to on page 16 of the bʘʘk.

The involutionary movement from essence towards substance is also the movement of "the center toward the circumference" and "unity towards multiplicity" (Perry).

Nevertheless, the center is always there at the periphery -- hence God's immanence and the resultant sacredness of the world; and the unity is always in the multiplicity -- hence the possibility of the recollection of both union and unity, at anytime and anyplace. Except < fill in the blank -- create your own joke! >

Now, as our unKnown Friend writes, the self-beclowning materialist or scientistic jester are kinda'

"like the reader of a manuscript who, instead of reading and understanding the thought of the author, occupies himself with the letters and syllables. He believes that the letters wrote themselves and combined themselves into syllables, being moved by mutual attraction, which, in its turn, is the effect of chemical or molecular qualities of the ink as 'matter' common to all the letters, and of which the letters and syllables are epiphenomena."

Of this, we say: And you pay good money to have your children indoctrinated to this death cult? For that is a target one can only hit in one's sleep, and can never reach if one is awake.

[B]eauty stems from the Divine Love, this Love being the will to deploy itself and to give itself, to realize itself in 'another'; thus it is that 'God created the world by love'....

All terrestrial beauty is thus by reflection a mystery of love. It is, 'whether it likes it or not,' coagulated love or music turned to crystal, but it retains on its face the imprint of its internal fluidity, of its beatitude and of its liberality...
--Schuon

Swish! Nothing but neural net.

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.