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...

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.


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.