Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Reality of Sp↓r↑t

Remind us again, B'ob. What is reality?

Yes, reality is the revelation of Being. But there can be no revelation in the absence of a recipient, so reality is simultaneously the registration of Being. Or, we can say that reality is the successful communication of Being; or, if you prefer a shorter answer, communion.

Obviously reality registers at different levels and in different modes: there is empirical/sensory reality, mathematical/logical reality, aesthetic/artistic reality, moral/ethical reality, spiritual reality, etc.

Why we can't all agree on this, I can't tell you. I mean, after you've communicated it to the the person. Truth is one, but resistances to it tend to be particularistic and idiosyncratic, rooted in personal biography. I don't have the time.

Now, to the extent that there is self-communicating spiritual reality, we want to be open to it -- just as we want to be open to the other realms of being. Because reality can communicate all day long, but if we're not receiving, then it might as well not be there, and you are no different than the DNC.

In his Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation, Laird makes the elementary point that "A spiritual practice simply disposes us to allow something to take place."

What, exactly? You're getting ahead of yourself. This is like showing up on the first day of school and asking the teacher, "exactly what is this math class supposed to teach me?" The only rational response can be, "keep showing up, and you'll find out."

Contrary to what they say, there is no map... there is only surrender (Matarasso, in Laird).

"For example, a gardener does not actually grow plants. A gardener practices certain gardening skills that facilitate growth that is beyond the gardener's direct control. In a similar way, a sailor cannot produce the necessary wind that moves the boat.... there is nothing the sailor can do to make the wind blow" (Laird).

There is a spiritual wind beyond our control, and there has never been a time that it has been unknown to man. We just call it (↓), so as to avoid being like that math student who wants to know all about math before he has learned it -- i.e., before opening himself in silence and receiving the transmission.

We symbolize the silence (---), the openness (o). The patient application of these two results in "surrendering of deeply embedded resistances that allows the sacred within to reveal itself as a simple, fundamental fact" (ibid.).

Again, communion is communication, and vice versa.

Thus, spiritual communion "is not something we are trying to to acquire; God is already the ground of our being. It is a question of realizing it in our lives" (ibid.).

This realization is symbolized (n), in distinction to (k), the latter of which is received but needn't be realized. The person (or level of the person) who realizes (n) is (¶). (All of this is explained in the book, but occasionally even I remember.)

Laird references what St. Paul called our "hidden self": "may he give you the power through his Spirit [↓] for your hidden self [¶] to grow strong" (Eph 3:16). Or just say grow, because "growing weak" is an oxymoron. The latter is either vertical dissipation or the heartbreak of cosmic shrinkage.

Paul adds that this is a kind of "comprehension" that "passes knowledge," that we "may be filled with all the fullness of God." Again, this "filling" can only be a function of (↓), however you wish to conceptualize it. (Speaking of which, I just discovered a helpful symbol for mere [unrealized] knowledge of God: (⇡), i.e., the broken eros.)

In the end, "this God we desire [has] already found us, thus causing our desire," which means that the real cosmic action looks something like this: (↺). And "the soul's center is God" (St. John of the Cross) " which we of course symbolize (ʘ).

As we have discussed before, this (↓) business (or isness, precisely) is what confers the depth dimension on things; call it the yeast, the salt, the cream in your coffee, the bubbles in your champagne, the cork in your bat, the lead in your pencil. But without it, everything goes quite literally flat, and our carbon-based life becomes uncarbonated.

Another important point is that as we approach the center -- as in ʘ -- we necessarily have closer communion with others, because that dot at the center is the very basis for the possibility of communion.

Laird provides a helpful visual: picture a wheel with spokes. At the outer periphery the lines are all separate and distinct spokesmen, but as they converge upon the center they become closer, ultimately converging upin the One spokeswhole. Thus, "the more we journey towards the Center the closer we are both to God and to each other" (ibid.).

And one thing that facilitates this closeness is mutual recognition of the "thirdness" of it all. I suppose it is possible for love to last if two people just love, and try to love, one another. But love can really only last "forever" if there are two people in communion focusing on a mutually loved transcendent Third. Thus, I suppose that a properly functioning marriage might be symbolized (⇈).

Communion around a higher third:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Change is Hard. Especially for Humans.

Memo: posts will generally be later or shorter through June 20, when school ends.

Good news: if my psychic weather forecast is correct, Obama has officially entered the collapse phase of his presidency, from which there can be no recovery. As we blognosticated back in January 2009,

"When I say that the Obamanauts are about to enter a world of pain, I mean that they will eventually know the dark side of the wave of fantasy upon which they are riding. Only in this case, it seems unusually dark, for it is the same darkness that currently attaches to President Bush. As much as he is hated, Obama is loved, and for reasons that are equally insane because they are a precise and predictable function of each other."

The collapse "occurs when the public begins to feel that the fantasy leader is helpless to prevent catastrophe," and "is seen as weak and vulnerable, which triggers a wave of near homicidal anxiety that aims to purify the group by ritual slaying of the divine king, identical to what took place in the most primitive tribes. So today [January 20, 2009] isn't just the coronation of the new king, but the ritual blood sacrifice of the old one. But he was scourged for so long, he was virtually dead anyway -- or only 'alive' with primitive projections."

Of course, Romney's ascension will be greeted by a wave of enthusiasm, but he will eventually have to be sacrificed as well. Unless humans suddenly grow up, but I think you need pretty extraordinary evidence to suggest such an extraordinary development. The evidential burden is not on us, because we're not the ones making the outlandish claim about the human propensity for ritual sacrifice.

Which, by the way, I was just reading about this weekend -- not about human sacrifice but about the nature of evidence -- in this outstanding book called Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society. If nothing else, it is an extremely useful review of what science is and isn't, and more to the point, how it is possible (or impossible, depending on the case) for anyone to know what causes stuff to happen.

As we ascend the cosmic hierarchy, science becomes increasingly helpless to discern causation (let alone generalize it via induction), because of the complexity of the system, i.e., the multitude of causes. After all, science is ultimately about what causes things to happen and how to make predictions, but predicting what will happen if I kick a rock is much easier to predict than what will happen if I kick the dog.

As we ascend the cosmic ladder, causation becomes increasingly "dense," from physics, to chemistry, to biology, to psychology, and on to social sciences such as economics.

Imagine the virtually infinite causal density of the economy, and you have arrived at Hayek's "knowledge problem" -- which is precisely what leftists do not and will not understand. But it is the reason why central planning always fails. It generally requires someone as economically ignorant as an Obama to be so grandiose about what he thinks he knows -- similar to how a child has no idea of how much he doesn't know, relative to how complex the world actually is.

The original point I wanted to make was that, because of the relative simplicity of causation at the physical level, it is easy to make improvements to, say, cars and telephones. But the higher we ascend the cosmic scale, the more difficult it becomes to "make things better" without simultaneously making them worse.

Manzi cites a striking example, that as many as 100,000 Americans a year die as a result of reactions to medications that were properly administered. Nothing analogous happens at the level of physics. For example, imagine if 100,000 coins per year came up 100% heads every time you flipped them. This would tell you that there are some hidden conditionals of which you are unaware -- some additional causes for which your model has failed to account.

What's interesting is how complex human beings are, and yet, how certain causal factors are nevertheless so robust and persistent (AKA "human nature"). For example, there really seems to be some sort of "law" that governs the course of a fantasy leader from idealization, to collapse, to ritual sacrifice, but it obviously isn't of the same order as the laws of physics.

However, these enduring "laws of humanness" are what make it so difficult to achieve progress via mere political change. In short, people are people, no matter how much you may wish to change them.

In this regard, it is critical to distinguish between politics and culture. Culture is something that arises spontaneously and organically, in order to deal with the universal problems of human existence. It is easy to look at another culture and see how "stupid" it is, but that doesn't mean we can simply remove the stupidity and expect something better to emerge. A culture is not analogous to physics, but is again characterized by causal density and what Manzi calls "holistic integration."

Thus, when we talk about a massive change to the system, whether it is wild deficit spending, or Obamacare, or the redefinition of marriage, the burden of proof should always be on those who advocate it, because "almost any reasonable-sounding program" will "fail most of the time."

For example, if there is such a thing as a "culture of poverty," this would explain why the criminally simplistic War on Poverty is such a quagmire. And if homosexual behavior is conditioned by culture -- which it obviously is -- we're about to see a lot more of it. Likewise, you can't just say "you have to pass the bill to know what's in it," because that's like saying "here, have some radiation, because you have to have the birth defect to know how great it's gonna be!"

Indeed, the reason why these policies fail is the same reason why the vast majority of genetic mutations result in harm to the organism. If Darwin is correct, every once in a great while a random mutation will confer benefit, but don't bet on it.

Likewise, based upon sheer chance, every once in a while a government program will actually benefit the intended recipient without side effects and unintended consequences. But don't bet on it.

And certainly don't bet four billion dollars a day, every day, for the rest of your life.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Memo From the Ministry of Gender: Slavery is Liberation!

My wife doesn't work outside the house (except at the park, the school, the hockey rink, the baseball diamond, the karate studio, the golf course, the swimming pool, the library, the pizza parlor, etc.), nor do I want her to (although she is of course free to do so, and in fact, I'd kind of like her to be my blogger mama after the boy doesn't need her quite so much). If she did have a second job -- and this is just me -- I'd feel like a bit of a failure as a man and father. Just raised that way, I guess.

But the left doesn't tolerate diversity, so that makes me an atavistic and reactionary counter-revolutionary to the workplace gender revolution. Yes, in the upside-down world of the left, to liberate a woman from being a wage-or-career slave is to enslave her.

I'll admit that I don't understand the point of a revolution that actually diminishes slack -- that robs us of precious family time and forces us to work at some stupid and meaningless job, whether one is flipping burgers or rolling hot dogs or reading the news on TV or pretending to teach ineducable young college adolts or whatever.

I mean, I fully realize that in some cases it's financially necessary (it's usually much more volitional than most people realize, a matter of values and priorities, not genuine need), but that doesn't alter the reality that it is nevertheless preferable for a child to have a mother and for a man to have a home and not a decaying sports bar (which is what my house would become without the Woman's Touch). What most strikes me about the feminist's stance on this is their utter lack of empathy for children. I'm big enough to deal with the sports bar, and the local pizza parlor will take care of the rest.

It's actually painful to imagine how much children need their parents -- a mother and a father, who fulfill very different psychological and spiritual functions -- and one can't help thinking that this empathic failure results from some repressed childhood trauma.

One perennial way to manage such intrapsychic conflict is to project it into one's own child and symbolically punish him so as to turn the tables. After all, this routinely occurs in other contexts, so there's no reason whatsoever to believe that so-called "working mothers" (itself a not-so-subtle putdown) would be exempt.

In fact, the one ironyclad argument feminists have here is that some mothers are so toxic that it is actually preferable for the child to minimize contact with them, and take their chances on finding a replacement via culture, friends, teachers, television, drugs, etc. Since mothers have always acted out unconscious conflicts with their children, abandoning them for some silly job is just the latest iteration of this pathology.

One hardly needs physical distance to abandon someone. One can easily do it in the other's presence -- which in a way is more damaging, because it's not as easy to recognize: the person looks as if they're with you, but they're actually miles away. Intimacy is not necessarily a function of proximity. Just as sex can be a disguise for mutual masturbation, parenting can be a mask for... something.

For example, to take an extreme case, imagine your mother is Gloria Allred, or Nancy Pelosi, or Jane Fonda. I can't see a child benefiting from prolonged contact with Nancy Pelosi, but the catch there is that she now becomes the problem for 300 million people instead of one little victim.

Yes, Nancy Pelosi wants to suckle us all, even those of us who have long since weaned ourselves form the government teat. And I certainly don't want to be suckled by Obama. Not that there's anything wrong with it.

Although it sounds like a joke, I don't want to minimize the importance of getting certain mothers into the workplace in order to Protect the Children. A great deal of child abuse is able to go on under cover of parenting. Since many people aren't in charge of anything -- beginning with themselves -- it can be an intoxicating feeling to play God over a helpless little soul. Imagine the possibilities!

Just last night I read passage in The Devil in the White City -- great read, BTW -- which briefly describes the childhood of the psychotically sadistic mass murderer, Dr. H. H. Holmes. His parents were said to be "devout Methodists whose response to even routine misbehavior relied heavily on the rod and prayer, followed by banishment to the attic and a day with neither speech nor food."

Thus, it seems that it would have been preferable for Holmes' mother to have worked as a waitress, or maybe been the head of some castrating feminist organization, at least for young H. H. As it turned out, let's just say that he had a fair amount of pent-up rage toward women that he acted out in uniquely creative ways.

It's a cliché to say that the family is the fundamental and irreplaceable unit of civilization. But the problem with a cliché isn't necessarily that it's untrue, but that it can become invisible and therefore unthinkable. Rather, it just becomes a background assumption that is no longer thought about.

But that's precisely where cultural revolutionaries come in to fill the void. It's odd to have to say this, but many of the most intelligent and sophisticated people -- because they are genrally subject to the most indoctrination -- don't know why it is preferable for a child to have a mother and father, or why full time daycare is damaging, or why a child needs a mother at home. To be liberated from reality is not liberation. Nor is it exactly slavery, in that no outside agency is compelling it.

Then what is it? I would call it rebellion, in that the rebel is always inwardly attached to the object of rebellion. And it isn't always pathological.

Take, for example, the normal rebellion of adolescence, when the child needs to distance himself from the parents in order to discover and forge his own identity. Obviously he can't just be an extension of the parents, but must become who he is. It is important for parents to "play along" with this rebellion in helpful ways. It may seem as if it's a different parental task, but it is actually the same task with a different developmental need.

For example, my son has had very different needs at two weeks, six months, three years, and seven years. Perhaps the biggest job of a parent is to be the object the child needs at this or that age, in order to cope with the specific developmental hurdle before him. It doesn't mean you're being "phony." Rather, you're always completely present with you're child, at least if you're a good and conscientious parent. They know when you're faking.

Which is precisely why it can be so taxing. I am in awe of my wife's ability to be "present" for my son over these past seven years. It isn't easy, especially for an interpersonally demanding child who craves human contact. She had another career before motherhood, and it would be easy enough to do that instead.

But not really, because if she did, I think she'd die of empathy. Plus, I'd no longer have a slave to oppress.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Revisionist Ontology: Seeing and Being Like a State

It occurs to me that the revisionist history -- and journalism -- of the left has a deeper purpose than to just indoctrinate, miseducate, and misdirect.

This is probably just another way of affirming the obvious, but the ultimate purpose is and must be to alter reality -- or at least the perception thereof. In a desiccated post-Kantian mindscape, the two -- perception and reality -- amount to the same thing anyway: you see what you believe.

Hence, for example, the left's absurd attempt to spin the Wisconsin election results as a great victory for Dear Leader. Does anyone not see through this?

Yes, as a matter of fact, there are millions who don't see through it, which means that there must be some kind of self-imposed screen which the recipient places over reality, and which prevents them from penetrating beyond the plane of spoon-fed appearances.

I am quite sure that the people at the top who come up with these preposterous talking points cannot possibly believe them. They're way too clever for that.

For example, I find it hard to believe that the people responsible for the manipulation of the Trayvon Martin case can be unaware of the reality. And yet, the false narrative continues to be successfully propagated despite the reality. This can only happen because the people at the bottom -- the manipulated -- refuse to believe and even see any fact that contradicts the narrative.

Similarly, people such as our longtime cyberstalker and left-wing errand boy, William Yelverton, seem to sincerely believe the spin. They are the shock troops -- or tools -- whose task it is to assimilate and propagate the meme. But in order to be truly effective, they must be swaddled in spin from the earliest age, and then for the remainder of their lives. The fruity isn't just spin-deep, but goes all the way to the bone.

In the overall scam of things, it seems to me that the cynics at the top are actually less dangerous than the rubes at the bottom. Take Clinton, for example. He is the very archetype of the cynical and disingenuous manipulator, and yet, people seem to enjoy being manipulated by his genial mendacity. While the hypnotized never lie, the hypnotists surely do. And there are millions more hypnotized than hypnotists.

Again, a revision of reality can't just occur on the surface. In order for it to really take hold, one must either see to it that the revision penetrates to the level of ontology -- of being -- or simply eliminate those deeper planes altogether, as in the case of deconstruction or multiculturalism, which reduce vertical degrees of being to horizontal perspectives of equal value.

In order to live in an unreal spin-zone, one's world must in one way or another become closed. Thus the need for godlessness, for only a godless world can be closed and only the ontologically closed can be godless. The fact that we are in the image of the Creator is the one and only guarantor of an open world (and, a fortiori, mind ), a principle of which our founders were miraculously aware.

Through this principle of deiformity -- or the Incarnation, if you like -- man is freed "from the ontological slavery with which Fate burdened him. The stars, in their inalterable courses, did not, after all, implacably control our destinies. Man, every man, no matter who, had a direct link with the Creator, the Ruler of the stars themselves.

"It was no longer a small and select company that, thanks to some secret means of escape, could break the charmed circle: it was mankind as a whole that found its night suddenly illumined and took cognizance of its royal liberty. No more circle! No more blind destiny! No more Fate! Transcendent God, God the 'friend of men,' revealed in Jesus, opened for all a way that nothing would ever bar again" (De Lubac).

But such disturbing ontological freedom just won't do for the state. Thus a new mythology was forged, in which man is cut back down to size and identified with material, economic, and cultural forces. There is no hole, no escape, no freedom, and certainly no Gods. Get back in that circle, slave!

For the state, God is a problem, not a solution. God is a competitor, not just for loyalty, but again, for ontology. The state sees you in a certain way, and is very much interested in you seeing yourself in the same constricted way. You must be abridged, and for a freedom-loving soul, that's abridge too far.

For example, when you say "community," the state would prefer you to say "government." When you say "charity," it wants you to mean "welfare." When you say "school," the state hears "left wing seminary." When you say "taxes," the state thinks "investments." And so on.

The state, of course, is not a person. But like any autopoietic system, from family to culture, it does exert a force on the people within it, pressuring them conform to its survival needs. This is one of the reasons a state employee like Scott Walker quite literally drives the statists mad. He drives them mad for the same reason a woman who loves -- and is loved by -- men drives feminists crazy. Such people are traitors to their class.

The state will do what it must in order to go on being. However, the options are quite different between, say, a liberal democracy and Syria. The Syrian state has no need to conceal its ruthless will to survive.

But a democracy must use more subtle means to control the populace. Over the long run, it attempts to create the kind of citizen it needs in order for the citizen to adopt the narrow view of the state. In other words, the state deploys a host of means -- rewards and punishments, whips and goads -- to create State Man.

It seems to me that Obama is our first president to be fully State Man, owing to his rise up the ranks of the racial spoils system and his complete indoctrination in left wing ideology, with no outside influences. Note also that even when he supposedly turned to Christianity, he chose the ontologically closed pseudo-form of black liberation theology, which encloses the person behind bars of Marxist materialism.

Obama has spent his life in this hermetically sealed -- and ontologically closed -- world, so it certainly appears that he is more hypnotized than hypnotist. Which is again why he is far more dangerous than, say, Clinton, who clearly doesn't believe half of his own bullshit, and is even working as a double-agent for the GOP to rid us of this dangerous true believer who doesn't get his own joke.

These state simplifications, the basic givens of modern statecraft, were, I began to realize, rather like abridged maps. They did not successfully represent the actual activity of the society they depicted, nor were they intended to; they represented only that slice of it that interested the official observer. They were, moreover, not just maps. Rather, they were maps that, when allied with state power, would enable much of the reality they depicted to be remade.... --James C. Scott

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Incarnating the Cosmic Person

Damn. I can't recall being this depressed about an election since 1990, when the Sandinistas lost.

I mean, if public employee union bosses can't forcibly extract dues to help elect politicians who will conspire with them in good faith to grow the state and loot the treasury, freedom as we know it is pretty much dead IMO. What's next, a war on organized crime? (I know, redundant.) An attack on the privileges of 1/00 Indians?

And what's with the left? Isn't it a little late in the game to issue death threats? Isn't that like the New Jersey Devils deciding to goon it up tonight, after the Kings hoist Lord Stanley's Cup?

But as long-time cyberstalker and crackpot emeritus William Yelverton assures us, at least it was a good night for Barack. If nothing else, the results show the desperation of an increasingly radical right wing that thinks it can succeed by simply winning the war of ideas and trouncing the left in elections. That only works in America.

Speaking of infra-cosmic primates, back to Cosmic Humanism. Naturally, in order for there to be cosmic humanism there must be cosmic men and women. But what is a cosmic human?

I was thinking about this the other day.

Actually, that's not true. Rather, as usual, it just popped into my head. Only now am I actually thinking about it.

But it occurred to me that in order to qualify for the appellation, the human in question must be fully functioning in no less than four broad sectors, and possibly more if I think of them as we proceed.

I'm picturing two horizontal and two vertical areas. Thus, I suppose you could imagine a Cross with four quadrants.

We could say that the horizontal is an externalization of the right and left cerebral hemispheres, and their differing ways of perceiving and processing reality. To have access to only one would make us far less then human.

In human (i.e., non-neurological) terms, we might say that this ultimately redounds to the complementarity of science and art, or logic and emotion, or analysis and synthesis, or Spock and Bones (who are reconciled in the Kosmic Kirk). There are scientific men and there are sentimental men, but a cosmic man needs to be fully functioning in both sectors. Only then may he command the Innerprize.

No need to go into the latest research, but obviously there is much more appreciation these days of emotional intelligence and the manner in which emotion in general functions as a kind of high-speed information processing center. I would go much further than that. For example, we often talk about the implications of the Dreamer Who Dreams the Dream, Who is somehow able to, in the words of Grotstein, think and create in a manner

"that is beyond the capacity of conscious human beings.... [D]reams are, at the very least, complex cinematographic productions requiring consumate artistry, technology, and aesthetic decision making.... dreams are dramatic plays that are written, cast, plotted, directed, and produced and require the help of scenic designers and location scouts, along with other experts. The stage of the dream can be likened to a container or ground, whereas the play itself constitutes the content or the contained..."

So there is scientific genius and there is artistic genius, and though both are genius, the one can't be reduced to the other, because the genius is filtered through two very different modes.

The other continuum is vertical and extends from the unconscious (or infraconscious), to the conscious ego, to the supraconscious realms terminating in O. Emphasizing one end over the other is not the way of the Cosmic Man, i.e., Raccoon, who ideally wants to colonize as much space as possible between O and ø. "Know thyself" and all that.

In my opinion, modern psychoanalysis, rooted in neurodevelopmental attachment theory, does the most adequate job of mapping the lower vertical. The problem there is that it oversteps its rightful boundaries when it tries to usurp the egoic and trans-egoic realms, which has disastrous consequences for spiritual development.

For example, a psychoanalyst might interpret genuine spiritual experiences as being infantile in nature, thereby reducing O to some kind of wish fulfillment. Which no doubt happens.

In other words, there are clearly people for whom religion operates as a kind of primitive magic. Snake handlers come to mind. That sect strikes me as lower verticality masquerading as higher verticality.

But there is also a truly higher verticality that denies the lower vertical. Unfortunately, Schuon tends to fall into this error -- as if, say, a medieval man whose life revolved around religion didn't also have a primitive unconscious.

Again, the fully cosmic man will accept and try to integrate, or assimilate, both the lower and higher. And as a matter of fact, this type of verticality is quite explicit to both Judaism and Christianity.

Judaism, for example, has a quite this-worldly emphasis on the spiritualization of everyday activities such as family, food, sex, etc. It makes no effort to deny the lower vertical in favor of an escape into an abstract spiritual realm. You might call it the mysticism of everyday life.

Likewise, the message of incarnation and embodiment could hardly be more clear in Christianity. God did not merely become a man; rather, he also took on human nature, which extends into the collective human body. And the human body includes left and right hemispheres and supra- and infra-consciousness, on pain of the Incarnation not being "complete" and total.

Christianity is simultaneously simple and complex, and in the past we have discussed how Western (left-hemisphere) Christianity tends to focus on our fallen nature and its need of redemption, while Eastern (right-hemisphere) forms tend to emphasize the Incarnation. But in reality one obviously needs to hold both in a dynamic tension.

For example, De Lubac -- who was one of the first modern Catholics to rediscover the treasures of the early Fathers, who were more venerated in the East -- wrote that "if man digs deeper and if his reflection is illuminated by what is said in Sacred Scripture, he will be amazed at the depths opening up within him.

"Unaccountable space extends before his gaze. In a sort of infinitude he overflows this great world on all sides, and in reality it is that world, 'macrocosm,' which is contained in this apparent 'microcosm.'"

Thus the human wormgod, or spiritualized humus being, "knows that the lowliness of his origin in the flesh cannot detract from the sublimity of his vocation, and that, despite all the blemishes that sin may bring, that vocation is an abiding source of inalienable greatness."

Bottom line: the cosmic person needs to be left, right, over, under, sideways, and down.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

We Came Through

Fire the guns, and salute the men who died for freedom's sake....

Aggravated Cosmic Humanism

Cosmic humanism. I guess you could say that this is one of the enduring concerns of this blog. And this life. Of mine. How and why I came by it, I don't really know, but it's getting worse all the time.

I can say this, however. It is definitely a Mighty Strange Attractor (a well known mathematical concept that apparently no one else has ever thought of applying to the spiritual dimensions), in that people have been falling into its slipstream for as long as people have been people.

After all, one of the primary purposes of religion is to align the soul with the trans-cosmic Absolute, which is why all men, as men, are in need of it in one way or another.

Indeed, the opening of the "cosmic perspective" would have to be one of the attributes that defines the emergence of man as such. For even when he is just marveling at the starry heavens or dwelling in the beauty of our terrestrial home, man is cogitating the cosmic context and meditating on the metamatrix.

As mentioned before, Purcell's From Big Bang to Big Mystery is clearly caught up in the dynamic morphopneumatic field of this same cosmic attractor. Of necessity, he will see and describe a somewhat different landscape than do I, for the same reason that two people on different white water river-rafting expeditions to the sea will be exposed to different sights and sounds.

The fact of diversity hardly invalidates the descriptions, because this diversity is a necessary condition -- and consequence -- of individuality. If we were genetic robots, we would all have the same experience, but since we are oriented to a transcendental telos, we all come toward it in different ways. Hence the diversity of religions and revelations despite the single ocean. To reduce God to having just one way to make the same point is to make him less than a person.

This doesn't mean there aren't better and worse descriptions, because here again, just as in science, there must be more and less comprehensive and complete models of the natural world. Evolution and progress are only possible because there is a goal, an end.

And vertically speaking, there can be no hierarchy without a top, which, by the way, is another way of presenting one of Aquinas' classic proofs of God. It doesn't matter whether the horizontal universe has been here forever, or came into being with a dramatic big bang. The more important point is that it cannot exist without a vertical cause. The First Cause is not in- but outside time. Or in other words, no amount of horizontality can account for verticality.

Purcell quotes a couple of well-known paleoanthropologists, who come close to the wider cosmoanthropological perspective in writing that, "unlike even our closest relations, Homo sapiens is not simply an extrapolation or improvement of what went before it... our species is an entirely unprecedented entity in the living world, however we may have come by our unusual attributes." So you're not alone in feeling very unlike your closest relations. All Raccoons feel this way.

Again, what makes man different is that he is astonishingly fit for the cosmos -- not just the earth, and certainly not just some highly restricted Darwinian niche.

Since this or that man can be anything from a novice to an extreme seeker, he is always free to confine himself to the green diamond trails of science, or venture onto the blue diamond trails of philosophy and theology, or take a chance on the black diamond trails of metaphysics -- not to mention the ungroomed slopes of mysticism and infused contemplation. Whoosh!

Man's existential "nothingness" -- which is a correct intuition, as far as it goes -- is a consequence of being pre-adapted -- at least in potential -- to everything. For to even say that it all began with a Big Bang that can be reduced to a mathematical formula is to insist that man's mind is a priori in conformity to the everything and the all.

Just as there are and must be genetic birth defects, there are pneumatic second birth... well, not exactly defects, for they are usually more willful and self-unslackted. Call them birth defenses, similar to what we were saying the other day about pneumatic defense mechanisms. Some people prefer a womb of rationalism or positivism or scientism or Marxism to the great wide open.

Our miroculous ʘpenness to the great wide Open goes by the name of faith, and faith cannot be transcended. Rather, in the words of de Lubac, it can only "grow deeper, that is to say, find itself more completely, to realize itself more thoroughly, as faith ." Yes, it yields a harvest, but no amount of food can replace the need to eat. And no amount of the wrong type of food is conducive to growth. Nor, for that matter, can one live on vitamins, i.e., abstractions from the total I-AMbodhiment of divine (corpo)reality.

De Lubac describes a middle-zone of "superficial clarity" which exists between "two infinities." This is also the "non-religious zone," and it isn't difficult to understand why some people would prefer to huddle on its shores than to take the plunge into the Infinite, especially without a kenosis. But these two Infinities are not identical, although they are often conflated, by both religious and irreligious -- trolls and hyperliteralists -- alike. De Lubac writes that

"There is the sacredness of myth which, like a vapor rising from the earth, emanates from infrahuman regions; and there is the sacredness of mystery, which is like peace descending from the heavens. The one links us with Nature and attunes us to her rhythm but also enslaves us to her fatal powers; the other is a gift of spirit that makes us free."

The latter presence would be the Cosmic Zone, and man's true happitat.

To be continued...

Monday, June 04, 2012

Pneumagraph #640 of My Summa Vocation

You don't really want to hear about how the pneumagraph was developed, do you? You just want to know, WHERE'S MY POST?!

Still, a brief introduction is warranted. I'm short on time again, so I decided to pluck an old one from four years ago. This ended up taking longer than anticipated, because no suitable candidate from June 2008 could be found. I then jumped back to June 2007, but again wasn't terrible impressed.

I eventually settled on this one from five years back -- #640, as it turns out -- finding it to be the least annoying. But in the time it took to wade through the arkive, I could have probably written a new one.

Anyway, either there is an Absolute or there isn't. But if there isn't, there is, since that's an absolute fact. So let's all, believer and non-believer alike, just acknowledge its existence. Don't worry, it doesn't mean you have to identify it with the Judeo-Christian God, or that you need to worship it. You can still be an assoul.

Now, the Absolute necessarily shades off into the relative, but at a point that is more or less impossible to identify precisely. Thus, it is difficult to say exactly where orthodoxy turns into heresy, morality turns into immorality, or a true American turns into an anti-American.

But in each case, people who fall into the latter categories use the existence of this continuum as a pretext to argue that the former are illusions and that "all is relative." In turn, this abolishes the idea of sin, error, and truth, since they imagine that they have eliminated any objective standard.

This is a hopelessly unsophisticated ontology, for it assumes that higher realms are mathematical in their precision. In reality, they are not so much like mathematical equations as they are like, say, magnificent granite monuments. The greatest theologians are somewhat like painters who evocatively can convey an image of this monument with clarity and resonance, but it is nevertheless an image and not the thing-in-itself.

This is what I meant the other day when I said that revelation is the closest we can come to an objective representation of O. Revelation is like an image of the monument, given by the monument itself. Nevertheless, each person's angle on the monument is necessarily going to be different.

Analogously, if you put thousands of people with cameras at the base of the Matterhorn, the photos are all going to be slightly different -- in other words, there will be the illusion of diversity despite the fact that there is only one Matterhorn. With respect to itself, it is not relative but absolute. In short, our view of the Absolute is necessarily relative, but only relatively so -- it is "relatively absolute." There is no such thing as absolute relativity, on pain of total absurdity.

A photograph is not just a literal translation but a transformation, as is perception itself. To perceive something is to transform an object in such a way that certain abstract coordinates and relationships are preserved, while others are distorted.

If you consider the modern art of the early 20th century, for example, artists were attempting to stretch the coordinates between object and image in creative new ways. The invention of the camera was one of the main reasons for this, after which painting became increasingly liberated from the object.

One could say that James Joyce did the same with language. Instead of trying to use it like a photograph to map reality in a 1:1 manner (which is impossible anyway), he used language in a new "holographic" way, so that it in turn mirrored the hyperdimensional nature of consciousness itself. He was actually using language to alter consciousness in such a way that a new view of reality emerged.

For example, let's take the first sentence of Finnegans Wake:

rivverun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

At first blush, this sentence appears to nonsense about nothing. In other words, it is difficult to apprehend the object of which this sentence is supposed to be a representation.

Nevertheless, like the hyperdimensional object scripture endeavors to disclose, this sentence is an adequation to a reality that transcends the senses. This reality is called "history," which in turn is thoroghly entangled with consciousness itself -- the same consciousness that is both the subject and the object of history. For Joyce, history was literally like a dream (or nightmare), in the sense that there is the Dreamer and the dream, but in the end, the two must be one and the same.

Therefore, it is very difficult -- impossible really -- to actually write "straight (or what Joyce called 'wideawake and cutandry') history" and imagine that the historian is not actually its dreamer. We are all in this thing called "history." History surely exists. And yet, we could no more objectively and exhaustively describe it than we could objectively describe the content of a dream. Rather, we can only take our photographs of the Matterhorn.

For one thing, where is the line between the dreamer who dreams the dream and the one who experiences it? In this regard, a dream is very much like a spider's web, which the spider spins out of its own substance and then proceeds to inhabit. Human beings are no different, only on a more abstract plane. Do you really think that the web a leftist spins out of his psychic substance and then inhabits is anything like your web? Or an atheist? Or an Islamist? Each of these, in his own way, is un-ironically entangled in a psychic web they take for reality.

How to extricate oneself from the psychic webs we create? "History," wrote Joyce, "is the nightmare from which I am trying to awaken." When I watched the Democrat debate the other evening, I could see how each of the candidates offered their "prescription for a nightmare." The nature of leftism prevents the one and only true cure, which is to say, "just wake up."

Rather, leftism as such is the philosophy of creating newer and stronger soporifics in order to maintain sleep [see Europe for details]. In so doing, it aggravates the symptoms it is supposedly treating, and simply makes the nightmare worse. Plus, people get hooked on leftist prescriptions, and require more and more of them in order to stay asleep, just like an addict. Rule One of the left is that the state must always grow. Like a shark, it dies if it stops moving Forward.

I am currently reading an outstanding book entitled A History of the English Speaking Peoples Since 1900, which attempts to be a corrective to all of the noxious deconstruction that really got under way in the 1960s. Back then they called it "revisionist history," which sounds innocent enough, but which in reality was highly agenda driven, and attempted to rewrite history in such a way that the English speaking peoples were the villains rather than the (literally and repeatedly) (lowercase s) saviors of history.

It is interesting how easy it is to trace the roots of today's rank-and-foul leftists in a straight line back to their academonic source. For once history is deconstructed, it is very difficult to put it back together again. Thus, the left is operating in an upside down world first made possible by the early revisionists who, among other things, argued that America's founders were just a bunch of greedy white males protecting their economic interests, or that capitalism is pure exploitation instead of an extraordinary liberator of human potential, or that the colonized did not benefit from colonialism, or that America was at fault in the Cold War, or that Roosevelt's economic policies helped rather than aggravated and prolonged the great depression, or that poverty causes crime, or that it was wrong to drop the atom bomb on imperial Japan. These and similar ideas proliferated exactly like a toxin, infecting all of the academic rivers and then flowing downhill into the streams of journalism and politics.

What is so striking about the book is how America has remained constant, while the left has changed so dramatically -- and gained so much cultural power. For example, there is no moral difference between the way Roosevelt responded to the fascist threat of his day and the way President Bush is responding the Islamo-fascist threat of our day. The only difference is that America's motivations have been so undermined by the left, that it is as if we are dealing with two entirely different countries. But when did the "good" America of Roosevelt and the "greatest generation" transmogrify into the evil America of President Bush? It never did. Again, it is exactly the same fundamentally decent country. Only the left has changed.

Actually, one other thing that has changed -- for the worse -- is how utterly ruthless men such as Churchill and Roosevelt were in pursuit of their war aims. If it had been revealed in 1943 that some German or Japanese soldiers had been mistreated in an American prison camp -- which some no doubt were -- I cannot believe that any American would have wasted two seconds anguishing over it. Whatever we did could never approach the barbarity of the Germans, Japanese, and Soviets. And besides, there is no moral equivalence whatsover between what America and her enemies do, any more than there is an equivalence between the police and criminals just because they both shoot people.

To call Gitmo a "gulag" represents a kind of moral stupidity that is satanic in its implications. One of the most horrific consequences of leftist thought insinuating itself into our discourse it that it prevents one from speaking simple moral truths. It undermines everything -- not just morality, but even the ability to speak about morality. I believe this is because, following Descartes, it elevates our capacity to doubt to the highest wisdom. Thus, it ends up with cynicism as the highest ideal: a philosophy of stupidity, including moral stupidity.

Returning to our original metaphor of the monument and the mountain. The leftist notices the unavoidable fact that different people have different views of the monument. Therefore, the monument doesn't objectively exist. Furthermore, anyone's view of it is just as good or bad as anyone else's. As such, Truth is abolished and raw power rushes in to fill the void. The leftist always speaks power to Truth. Always.

In conclusion, this blog represents my ongoing effort to describe the cosmic monument as comprehensively as possible. In short, I am not advancing an argument but re-presenting a vision of what I see. It is a single object, but there are many views of it. I guess this would be #640 so far. Tune in tomorrow for #641.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Kings of Anglo-Kosmic Musick

Last week we batted around the subject of Cosmo-American music. This week we shall venture into the subject of Anglo-Cosmic music, of which the undisputed kings would have to be the Kinks.

Obviously there were plenty of great groups and artists in the British invasion of the 1960s, and in many ways this movement remains the gold standard of rock music in general. But most of them were more American than Americans, e.g., early Stones, Animals, Yardbirds, Small Faces, Dusty Springfield, Them, Hollies, all of whom were slavish devotees of Cosmo-American music.

The Kinks, however, were different. You will notice, for example, that most of the great British groups didn't sing with a British accent. In fact, one of the reasons the Beatles were such effective rockers is that the Liverpool accent is closer to American. In particular, they pronounce a hard "a"; imagine how different it sound if it were I Want to Hold Your Hond or It's Been a Hod Days Night, or Kant Buy Me Love. It's difficult to sing rock with a lilt in your voice.

Peter Noone also sang with a conspicuous British accent, but Herman's Hermits don't quite make the cosmic cut -- although they are definitely underrated, or unfairly maligned. They especially served a niche that opened up when the Beatles started producing more serious music in 1965, with Rubber Soul, and then 1966, with Revolver. The Monkees then rushed in to provide that service in late 1966, ousting the Hermits from the stage. Teen idolatry is a vicious and unforgiving idiom.

Another British group that definitely sounds British is the Zombies. In fact, they threw some American soul and R & B into their sets, which always sounded a little silly. Imagine Harry Potter singing I'm a Road Runner, Honey!, or I Just Want to Make Love to You.

The Who had some British elements and concerns, for example, Quadrophenia, the subject of which -- Mods vs. Rockers -- was a wholly British phenomenon. They were also fairly ineffective at trying to reproduce straight covers of American R & B, and didn't come into their own until they developed a unique style of bombastic order from chaos. But that style was greatly influenced by the emergence of the heavier sound of Hendrix in early '67.

David Bowie was pretty British, especially early on, in that he retained some Kink-like elements of British "music hall" style (e.g. Hunky Dory). I would also nominate Fairport Convention, who were to British folk what the Byrds were to American folk; and Pentangle, who also threw in some jazzy elements, forging a unique blend of British folk-jazz.

I first became a big-time Kinks fan with the release of the Kink Kronicles in 1972. They had hardly been heard from in America during their golden age between 1966 and 1972, so the album came as a revelation. The music they produced during that time didn't sound anything like their contemporaries, which is one reason why it still sounds fresh. Like most great composers, Ray Davies created his own unique musical world which is at a right angle, so to speak, to profane time.

Kompulsive Kinks kollectors are all akwiver about this upcoming six-disc box set of BBC performances, from the mid-'60s all the way to the 1990s. (This is without question the best existing Kinks kompilation.)

I stumbled on the following video this morning. It's touching where Davies gets choked up at the beginning of Days, since the performance was dedicated to his recently departed bandmate, Pete Quaife, the original Kinks bassist:

Friday, June 01, 2012

Reasons for Cautious Optimysticism

Balthasar writes that "When Paul [in Rom 8:19] refers to an indefinite and tense straining of all nature, it means in the first place that nature unconsciously strives toward man" (which I believe should be interpreted as the fullness, or fulfillment, of human nature.) There Paul speaks of the suffering -- the groans, the labors, the birth pangs -- that will -- we hope -- end in liberty, in redemption, and in peals of glory hahalogos, when the last laugh shall be first.

This is because creation as such is not an exercise in futility, but is infused with an otherwise superfluous and inexplicable hopefulness, the latter of which, on the human level, might be described as a kind of persistent "evidence of things unseen." It is the temporal shadow cast back by the fulfillment we hail from afar. Or so we have heard from the wise.

In the absence of this evidence of things unseen, progress would be impossible because unthinkable. Hope and change always go together, except in the faithless liberal who forgets that beneficial change is only a hope, not a certainty, and certainly not something man can accomplish unaided (if you don't believe me, just look at his grisly track record of trying).

If Obama had proclaimed "faith and love" his message wouldn't have been as popular, at least among his target audience whose immanentized and absecular hope is evidence of things unsane.

Simianly, think of the poor primate proto-human, sitting around and hoping for things to get better. But in a strictly Darwinian framework, what is he hoping for -- or, more specifically, for what does our aloftreeous furbear have any right to hope?

One thing: a random mutation that doesn't weaken, sicken, or kill my ass, but somehow results in a beneficial change. However, the fundamental change cannot have actually occurred in him, but only in his genetic predecessors, in an infinite regress. Which is why Darwin "jotted down as a stern reminder to himself the note 'never use higher and lower'" (in Purcell).

Which is also why intellectually consistent Darwinists would be the last to say that a Darwinian is somehow higher than a creationist -- unless the former are more successful at getting their genes into the next generation, which is not the case, otherwise the erstwhile Christendom of Europe wouldn't be undergoing slow motion demographic death. Supernatural selection in action!

Now this business of becoming human -- of evolving -- the thing about it is, unlike any other creature, it cannot just happen on the species level, as if the species does all the dogged, trial-and-error work of evolving, from which we passively benefit. No other animal has to learn how to be that animal, notwithstanding a limited repertoire of tricks the mother might pass along to her brood. And certainly no other animal needs to be born twice in order to undertake post-biological evolution.

But for human beings, each generation needs to fulfill the human journey anew. In the old days, philosophers and metaphysicians spoke of man as the microcosm who mirrors the macrocosm. That's true as far as it goes, but it implies a kind of static view, as if man is a once-and-for-all fact instead of a constantly evolving being.

Here again, Clarke's idea of reality as "substance in relation" is helpful, for with it we can posit the microcosmology of man in more dynamic terms, as a movement or action which is in turn the self-revelation of being. Therefore, evolution itself redounds to the self-revelation of being. Who knows what goodies lurk in the heart of being? Even time takes time, to say nothing of eternity. Or, time takes an eternity to get it all out.

Bearing in mind the above, when we say that man is the image and likeness of O, it means, in the words of Clarke, that "all finite beings, which are imperfect images of the Source, bear within their very natures this same divinely originated dynamism of active self-communication to others." In this way, we are simultaneously rich and poor -- or, contra Darwin, high and low -- in that

"every finite being insofar as it is... rich, pours over to share its perfection with others; but insofar as it is poor, deficient in the full plenitude of being, it reaches out to receive enrichments of being from others, sharing in their riches" (ibid.).

This is just another way of saying that man is an open system, both vertically and horizontally, and that God, the Absolute, O, the toppermost of the poppermost, must be understood in the same onederful way.

For what is the Incarnation but God "making himself poor," in which context we may understand certain paradoxymorons regarding the meek inheriting the earth, the last being first, and the blessedness of holy poverty.

Now, this interior activity of the Godhead, how to describe it?

Sorry, can't do that. That's well above our praygrade. We can, however, undescribe it, which we might symbolize something like (↓ ↔ ↑) to convey the total circulation of metacosmic energies in the perpetual now.

But if I were to reduce it to mere wordlings, I don't think I could do better than Schuon:

"If by 'science' we mean a knowledge that is related to real things -- whether or not they can be directly ascertained..., religion will be the science of the total hierarchy, of equilibrium, and of the rhythms of the cosmic scale; it takes account, at one and the same time, of God's outwardly revealing Manifestation and of His inwardly absorbing Attraction (emphasis mine), and it is only religion that does this and that can do it a priori and spontaneously."

Amen for a child's job.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ultra-Darwinists and Infra-Religionists

Turns out that Darwin wasn't necessarily the vulgar Darwinian his disciples and detractors make him out to be. For example, Purcell quotes a letter from 1870 in which he wrote that "I cannot look at the universe as the result of blind chance."

To another author who had published a book in 1881 that "defended evolution and theism together," Darwin wrote that it "expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the universe is not the result of chance." Indeed, for Darwin, "the rationality and moral probity of God underlay the rationality and meaningfulness of science" (Gillespie, in Purcell).

Which only goes to show how fundamentalists and extremists in both camps -- ultra-Darwinists and infra-religionists -- get it wrong.

I attach the prefix "ultra" to the former because it conveys the idea that they over-interpret the theory, and push it beyond its rightful limits. And I apply the prefix "infra" to the latter, because in my opinion they fall short of the deeper meaning of religion by rigidly applying a manmade framework on God, just because God must speak in a certain way in order to make himself known to human beings.

I mean, I must speak in a certain way in order to make myself understood by my seven year-old. But it would be an elementary, if understandable, error on his part to assume that I have the mind of a seven year-old who's just bigger than he is. While I don't patronize him, neither do I gratuitously toss in words and concepts he can't possibly understand.

In fact, both types -- the ultra and the infra -- make the error referenced in yesterday's post, of imposing an ideological grid on reality in order to make the mystery go away. Of all people, you'd think that postmodern folks would be aware of the irony of engaging in this futile enterprise. But it seems that one of the properties of ideology is to blind the ideologue to its presence. Or just say that some people have a hard time recognizing their first principles -- especially people without any.

One of the dangers of ideology is that it doesn't just operate like a static map one uses to navigate the world. Rather, it is much more like a mind parasite, in that it actively hijacks the thinking process and thereby restricts the scope of reality.

In his Tyranny of Clichés, brother Goldberg quotes Orwell's famous essay on Politics and the English Language, in which the latter writes of "the special connection between politics and the debasement of language."

It is easy to see how parasitical clichés can "construct your sentences for you" and "even think your thoughts for you," while performing "the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself" (Orwell) A political cliché operates "like a pill with a pleasant protective coating" which "conceals a mind-altering substance within" (Goldberg).

Although that might sound like a cliché, it is critical to realize and understand that it is literally true. The human mind cannot function in the absence of an "operating system," of some way to organize reality and convert experience into ideas, the question being "which one?"

For example, I've mentioned in the past that when I first began studying psychoanalysis, it was liberating at first but eventually became restrictive and confining, because, once internalized, I couldn't help interpreting everything in terms of its principles. I lost my perspective, so that the tool started to become the man. Come to think of it, that's how you become a tool, isn't it?

This is what ideology does. You might say that it results in damage to, and sometimes annihilation of, the human person.

To the extent that the Raccoon has an "ideology," it would have to be called "Mysterian," in that it holds the human mystery to be the axis around which it revolves.

But this human mystery does not, and cannot, stand alone. Rather, for reasons articulated in yesterday's post (and many previous ones), the "human substance" is not just some featureless and isolated blob, but has certain distinct properties, the most important ones being relation and sanctity.

Those latter two properties are a consequence of our deiformity -- or microcosmology if you prefer. By which I mean that the source of our dignity, our wisdom, our freedom, our greatness cannot be from within ourselves. If we do locate the source there, it doesn't turn us into gods, but rather, monsters -- like domesticated animals that revert to ferality (which ought to be a word) in a generation or two. Again, see history for details.

de Lubac writes that "It is not true, as is sometimes said, that man cannot organize the world without God."

Rather, "what is true is that, without God, he can ultimately only organize it against man." In other words, as we have discussed on many occasions, "exclusive humanism is inhuman humanism" (ibid.), because its very first principle rids the world of God in order to claim a greatness that only God can confer, and without whom we are hardly "everything," and not even nothing, really. At which point you can get away with anything.

As Schuon writes, "Respect for the human person must not open the door to a dictatorship of error and baseness, to the crushing of quality by quantity," or to over-valuation "of the crude fact at the expense of the truth."

We are immersed in a sea of change, so it is natural that we seek reliable landmarks and fixed lighthouses to navigate our journey. Ultimately these landmarks must concern origins (where we set off from); our present situation (where we are); and our course (where we are going). Thus there are elements of both space and time, the latter of which being especially relevant to "where we are going," which naturally takes time to get there. For in the words of Kerouac, walking on water wasn't built in a day.

But ideologies tend to spatialize time, for the same reason they immanentize the transcendent. Schuon characterizes certain deviant paganisms as "reactions of space against time." This can be seen in the reactionary leftism -- or cliché guevarism -- of Obama, for whom it is always 1933.

Having said all this, it is nonetheless true that, from a certain perspective -- and largely in reaction to the errors and superstitions of the infra-religious -- "it must be admitted that the progressives are not entirely wrong in thinking that there is something in religion which no longer works," and that its "individualistic and sentimental argumentation... has lost almost all its power to pierce consciences."

This is because the "usual religious arguments" simply don't probe "sufficiently to the depths of things," since past editions of man, unburdened by ultra-science, didn't really demand such explanations. The whole thing made sense intuitively, and there wasn't even really a framework in place to understand it in any other way.

Which leads back to our mission and blog-hobby, which is to deploy arguments of a higher order to illuminate the lower, and to make religion once again relevant to the ultras and more efficacious or integral for the infras.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Miraculous Journey to the Heart of the Living Cosmos

It seems to me that what we call modern or postmodern thought doesn't actually eliminate the miraculous, but just kicks it down the road; or rather, just paves the road over it.

Looked at another way, this form of thought conceals an unthinkable anti-thought that restricts our view of reality, such that the miraculous is consigned to the black of beyond. You know, sweeps it under the rug that can never pull the room together. Whistles past the graveyard of unexamined ideas. Or puts its hands over its ears and sings LALALALALALALALALALA!

Again, as well-cosmoed students of reality know by now, there are no less than four miracles that cannot be eliminated (but actually many more). At the very least there is existence; there is life; there is subjectivity, and all this implies; and there is salvation.

But there's also love, truth, intelligence, beauty, and science, which iterate in so many directions: music, painting, poetry, faith, virtue, nobility, selflessness, progress; miracles of sound, rhythm, and color; or the sheer miracle of the present, which is to say, conscious awareness, or being-for-itself, the providential loophole in creation, the ultimate guffah-HA! experience.

And being-for-itself doesn't even properly exist, for it is always being-in-relation, which might be the rock-bottom miracle of them all.

Or, to quote W. Norris Clarke, to be is to be substance-in-relation. Behind or within the I AM is always the WE ARE. Being is always twogather in threeness, which is why you need to take existence personally.

mir•a•cle \ [ME. fr, L miraculum, fr. mirari, to wonder at -- more at SMILE]

Yesterday we spoke of scotomas and scotosis, i.e., scientistic holes in the whole of reality, which render it less than wholesome, which is to say, healthy. The failure to appreciate the irredcible WE of the subjective horizon would have to constitute the most conspicuous hole in the materialist metaphysic.

Indeed, even if you disagree with me, you need someone with whom to disagree, AKA ME. I know. Ironic.

Clarke writes of "the experience, without which none of us could be truly human, of knowing other human beings as equally real with ourselves....

"This experience can be condensed as follows: I know that we are, that we are like each other, that we can engage in meaningful communication with each other." In short, subjectivity is always intersubjectivity, so that in a way, love is simply the radical ratification of being. Or in other words, it is good!

And please note that the existence of this WE could never be known unless first lived. To live outside the WE is no more conceivable for us than trying to imagine the consciousness of a reptile, or an MSNBC host. One might say that autism is a failure of the WE, genuine love its crowning achievement.

Reminds us of the old joke about the I asking for directions to the WE: the smiling O-timer responds with a knowing wink, you can't get there from here.

Not that it matters in terms of the truth which cannot not be, but it is interesting that science is catching up with the trinitarian nature of a cosmos that is substance-in-relation, or "self-communicating active presence."

This is laid out in a recent book called Mimesis and Science: Empirical Research on Imitation and the Mimetic Theory of Culture and Religion. I don't know that I can recommend it, since it doesn't affirm anything that isn't covered in our bʘʘk in a much more thoroughly silly manner.

The scientific upshot is that the primordial we of the mother-infant dyad is gateway hug to "more complex social, cultural, and representational abilities." Not I think, therefore I am, but we are, therefore I am, and can think about it to boot!

Speaking of miracles, of the self-expression of being, and of the cosmic journey, yesterday I read a fascinating article in the latest National Review about a contemporary American composer and pianist named Michael Hersch. You'll want to read the whole thing, but here is a man who seems very much in awe of the miraculous gift he has been given:

"He sits down to play his massive and monumental piano work The Vanishing Pavilions.... It is apocalyptic, visionary, and staggering. And it takes approximately two and a half hours to play. Hersch does not play it all, in this pre‑concert concert. He plays excerpts, a little suite. And he plays it with his prodigious technique, one that draws gasps. Apparently, his fingers can do whatever his brain commands."

He was not a child prodigy, and didn't discover his gift until the late age (for classical music) of 18, at which time it was somehow waiting there, not only fully formed but unspoiled by the kind of drudgery that might have been imposed by more agenda-driven, or less child-centered, parents:

“I didn’t look at it as, ‘I have so much to catch up on.’ People sometimes say, ‘You started so late, it must have been daunting.’ But I wasn’t thinking in terms of chronology or lost years. I was just overjoyed at my luck. I had found this world, and I had it all to explore.”

'His parents, he says, have "caught a lot of flak from people who think, ‘What if he had started at four or five?’ Well, maybe I would have burned out.”

Remarkably, he doesn't have to practice in order to play even the most difficult pieces, nor does he "struggle to compose, but he does need time. He cannot be rushed. He works on a piece in his head until it’s ready. Then he writes it down, with no revision. It took almost a year to write down The Vanishing Pavilions, which runs more than 300 pages."

Hersch speaks of how "the music is lying dormant, waiting for you. You can activate it anytime, simply by engaging with it”; and of how "it just anguishes me that there are so many people out there, possibly, who could have been like me, or are like me, who weren’t fortunate enough to have a brother who would say, ‘You need to sit down and listen to Beethoven.’ What about all the people who are just as talented as I am, or more talented, and didn’t have the opportunity?”

Now, there's a guy who isn't wasting his shot at a miraculous journey to the heart of the cosmos.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From Un-Cosmoed to One Cosmoed

Just as there are people we call uncultured, there are folks we would call un-cosmoed. Ironically, more often than not, it is the most cultured person who is the least cosmoed.

Likewise, uncultured people often retain their cosmic perspective, which is one of the reasons why so many middle- and working class folks are repelled by contemporary liberalism; which, you might say, is "worldly," but at the expense of universality.

Contemporary liberalism is provincial, ahistorical, and unphilosophical in the extreme, which is why there is usually so much more wisdom in a simple person of faith than there is in the tenured herd and the media mob.

An uncultured person is what? Related words include countrified, unlearned, unrefined, unsophisticated, roughhewn, raw, -- but also, in a wholly positive sense, natural, unartificial, guileless, pristine, unsullied. Likewise, we know the positive connotations of cultured, but the latter can also veer into sophistry, intellectualism, artifice, decadence, and, in these latter days, mere conformity to intellectual fashion.

So much of contemporary debate can be cast in these terms of cultured-uncultured. It is a major source of the left's toxic arrogance, and why they simply cannot conceal their contempt for those they wish to court.

Now, what is an uncosmoed person? I would think that first and foremost it is someone who imagines he can enclose the cosmos in some little manmade ideology -- who imagines he has demystified the cosmos just because he has memorized a few words and concepts such as "big bang," or "DNA," or "natural selection," or who simply fails to draw out the implications of everyday words such as "person," or "love," or "truth," or "beauty," or "universe."

Each of the latter is an irreducible mystery, in the sense that we only imagine we have banished the mystery by saturating them with some readymade ideological content.

But mystery itself is a mystery, in that it is a mode of knowledge, not a problem to be solved. Indeed, life without mystery would be unendurable. Even if I had all the answers, I would immediately forget them just for the joy of searching after them. Much of spiritual development involves a kind of movement from the mystery of childhood, to the demystification of adolescence, to the proper remystification of real adulthood (or from uncosmoed to One Cosmoed).

Here is how Schuon defines mystery. See if you don't agree:

"By ‘mystery’ we do not mean something incomprehensible in principle -- unless it be on the purely rational level -- but something which opens on to the Infinite, or which is envisaged in this respect, so that intelligibility becomes limitless and humanly inexhaustible. A mystery is always ‘something of God’" (Gnosis: Divine Wisdom).

Again: mystery is a mode of intellection, but not a mode the typical intellectual will endorse, since it is an affront to the narcissistic co-opting of the intellect for purely egoic -- or defensive -- purposes.

In the past I have discussed how, just as there are psychological defense mechanisms that apply to the lower vertical, there are what we might call "pneumatological defense mechanisms" that apply to the upper vertical, e.g., pride and envy. I'm a little surprised that I was the first to discover, or at least articulate, this idea, but it is no doubt implicit in various folk psychologies of the uncultured.

In any event, "intellectualization" is one defense mechanism that is deployed in both directions, the upper and lower vertical. Wiki defines it as "a defense mechanism where reasoning is used to block confrontation with an unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress, by 'using excessive and abstract ideation to avoid difficult feelings'. It involves removing one's self, emotionally, from a stressful event. Intellectualization may accompany, but 'differs from rationalization, which is justification of irrational behavior through cliches, stories, and pat explanation.'"

One can glean at a glance how both intellectualization and rationalization would apply to the upper vertical, in particular, vis-a-vis the New Atheists armed with their rationalistic "cliches, stories, and pat explanations." Behind this is the attempt to flee from the stress and conflict associated with confronting -- or being confronted by -- one's nonlocal conscience, and then following where -- or to whom -- this might lead. Better just to cut it off at the knees. Then kneeling is impossible.

Which leads us back to where we were on April 3, before we got sidetracked down one of those compelling cosmic arteries. You may recall that we were discussing Brendan Purcell's From Big Bang to Big Mystery: Human Origins in the Light of Creation and Evolution, which then veered into an extended Voegelinapalooza.

By the very title, one can appreciate that the author is a deeply cosmoed man coming from a cosmic perspective. I just opened the book to page 98, where we seem to have left off in our discussion, and Purcell (borrowing from Lonergan) is discussing what he calls the "scotosis" of scientism, which is to say, its wee ontological blind spot, i.e., "the non-occurance of relevant insights for whatever reason," and "the reality eclipsed because not questioned."

In short, in any form of scientism, there is a hole where reality should be, but which is filled with ideology -- similar to the scotoma we all have in our field of vision, where the optic nerve connects to the eyeball. Without even being consciously aware of it, our brains just paper over the hole and create the illusion of continuity.

Think of the scotosis that results from any attempt to reduce the cosmos to its mathematical elements; to do so is to reduce quality to quantity, semantics to syntax, and ultimately subject to object. But then there's no subject left to understand and appreciate the mysterious and beautiful math. Nor taste the delicious irony. (Note also that the scotoma of scientism can fashion a prison or serve as an escape hatch, once the hole is recognized.)

A more balanced and reasonable -- not to say nuanced -- view would be closer to the one enunciated by Pope John Paul II in 1991 (quoted by Purcell):

"Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and from false absolutes. Each can help the other to enter into a more complete world, where both can prosper."

Here it is not just a matter of rejoining left and right brains and east and west hemispheres, although that's no doubt part of it. Rather, the real action is vertical and hierarchical, and lies in keeping things in perspective. The uncosmoed person always lacks perspective, since the cosmic is the ultimate perspective (excluding the perspective of God, since we can't see from that particular vertex).

Or in oscar words -- but turned bright-side up -- we are all of the stars, but some of us are looking from the gutter.

To be continued...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Top Ten Cosmo-American Musical Artists

I just recently picked up a cheap used copy of the spectacular Bob Dylan mono recordings box, and it got me to thinking. I suppose this is just an invitation for an argument clinic, but I was wondering to myself, Who would constitute the top ten Cosmo-American musical artists?

By the way, one of the reasons these mono recordings are so superior, is that the stereo versions of some of the early acoustic albums have the vocal coming out of the center, and the guitar and harmonica coming out of either speaker. It's amazing how much more powerful they are coming right at you; or how powerful one man with an acoustic guitar can be. Even Mrs. G. could tell the difference, and women don't have the audiophile gene/illness.

Back then, in the 1960s, stereo was still mostly a gimmick, so you had this very unnatural presentation, as if it is possible to play the guitar ten feet away from where you're playing harmonica. You could only do that if you were eighteen feet tall and laying down. But then, where's the voice coming from? The diaphragm, I guess.

Back to our list. Should I even bother to define Cosmo-American? Maybe after the list. But in order to make the list, your music must be quintessentially American, which implies provinciality, and yet, cosmic in scope.

For example, Bach is obviously cosmic in scope, but not American. Conversely, rap is quintessentially American, but not cosmic.

It seems to me that there are certain artists that must appear on anyone's list, even if one isn't a big fan of that particular artist. Indeed, although I have some personal favorites, I just don't see how they could elbow their way in. Here are some of the artists that come to mind immediately and would have to appear on any list:

1. Louis Armstrong

2. Frank Sinatra

3. Ray Charles

4. Bob Dylan

5. Elvis Presley

Just for sheer influence, those names have to be there, for each, in a way, is the originator, or at least popularizer, of a whole genre. After them there may be a little wiggle room, some allowance for taste, but not much. Personally I would add

6. Miles Davis

7. Aretha Franklin

8. Muddy Waters

9. James Brown

Who's number ten? Think of the luminaries we might have to leave out: Jerry Lee Lewis, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Brian Wilson/Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Brubeck/Desmond Quartet, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Sun Ra.... I imagine a lot of country folk would say Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Patsy Cline, or the Carter Family...

I have an idiosyncratic and changing list of personal favorite Cosmo-Amercan musicians. I recognize that these don't deserve to be in the top ten, but they are nevertheless quintessentially American and cosmic in scope:

1. Bo Diddley

2. Pharoah Sanders

3. Harry Nilsson

4. Buck Owens

5. Sonny Boy Williamson

6. Art Pepper

7. Dexter Gordon

8. Jackie McLean

9. Howlin' Wolf

10. Byrds

So, who's on your list?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Paradise Lost and Found

At least in the Christianized west, it seems that we are all, religious and secular alike, influenced by the implicit idea that time has a particular shape and direction. This form runs from paradise to time to paradise; or from being to existence to being; or from eternity to time to eternity; or absolute to relative to absolute; or, we could just leave it unsaturated and symbolize it P1 --> T --> P2.

The form is quite simple, but people insert different content into it. With this scheme, one can see, for example, that Marxism (and progressivism more generally) is simply a Christian heresy. Nonetheless, it is clearly Christian. It's certainly not pagan or Buddhist or Hindu or Islamic.

And although the form is simple, any number of variations can occur. Just off the top of my head I can think of a big one that might be symbolized: P1 --> T --> P1. In this absurcular situation, there is a push for "progress" back into the state of infantile omnipotence and entitlement. But enough about the Democratic party.

Other variations include the P1 --> T <-- P2 (see below), P1 <-- T (the solution of most primitive, ahistorical, and pre-Judeo-Christian cultures which idealize the past and regard time as purely dissipative and corrosive), and plain old T, which would be the existential/scientistic variant, somehow devoid of both immanence and transcendence; it ultimately reduces to ø.

You could say that the P1 --> T --> P2 journey reflects psychological development, in particular, the vicissitudes of attachment, separation, and individuation. We begin life merged with the m-other, and only gradually separate from this edenic state in order to find out "who we are," as we encounter the vagaries of the wider world.

This wider world is fraught with peril, just like a dark and stormy night and other cliches. Again, there is being and there is existence, and the world is associated with the latter. As Voegelin writes, there has never been a time that man hasn't been aware of the perils of existence, at least prior to the 1960s, since which time we have seen a concerted effort to deny the problems of existence, partly because we have been so successful in mitigating them.

To back up a bit, the list of evils in this world "has been familiar since antiquity," and includes "poverty, sickness, death, the necessity for work, and sexual problems," to which we might add war and governance, i.e., the tyranny of the state. These are not things we would have chosen if given our druthers, but there they are and there they shall remain.

Except for the political gnostic. It hardly takes a genius to imagine a world without these things, but it is a characteristic of the gnostic to "draw up a comparatively lucid picture of the desirable condition" while being "concerned only vaguely with the means of bringing it about." This desirable condition has never existed, and never will exist, existence being what it is.

Well, it has existed, but only back in P1. One of the reasons we have children and love having children is that they remind us of P1, and allow us to relive it, so to speak. Indeed, our primary job as parents -- certainly prior to the age of seven or so -- is to protect P1 from impingement from the world, or in other words, to protect our child's innocence of same (in-nocens implying the pre-lapsarian state of being without knowledge of good and evil).

For Voegelin, man always lives in this ambiguous area between paradises, so to speak. Note that we can deny P2, but this will by no means eliminate it. If man were truly to eradicate all notions of P2, he would sink beneath himself and revert to animalism. Others pretend to deny it while trying to force it, which is another characteristic of the gnostic: there's no such thing as paradise, and we're gonna create it right here on earth!

Man always lives in the light -- or shadow -- of this "third realm," which "is in fact a ruling symbol in the self-understanding of modern society." Nor should we any longer be surprised at the regular appearance of political pests who attempt to bring P2 "into existence by revolutionary action." (Think OWS.)

As there is a new world associated with P2, so too is there a new man to go along with it. These are the übermenschenables, the very ones we've been waiting for.

This is a variant of the messiah principle (we are not using this in a Christian context, but more an anthropological one), and the messiah appears in different guises, depending upon the needs of the day. In the past, he was generally associated with war and conquest, but nowadays we tend to think of him as The Man With All the Answers.

For example, Voegelin writes of "a German and Italian literature in which Hitler and Mussolini are at times glorified as the leaders foretold by Dante." In any event, "the process by which the superman is created is closely related to the movement of the spirit," whereby mystics "drew into themselves the substance of God and transformed themselves into the 'godded man,' the divinized man."

This pattern becomes pneumapathological when applied to politics; it might be symbolized P1 --> T <-- P2. Through it, O is "brought back from [the] beyond into the human soul.... the divine substance is reincorporated in man, and man becomes superman."

Again, there are different types of superman, including the progressivist superman, the positivist superman, and the "Dionysian superman of Nietzsche," which is more fun than the first two, at least as long as it lasts.

Voegelin detects a new variety of superman in western history, the secular intellectual "who knows the formula for salvation from the misfortunes of the world and can predict how world history will take its course in the future." The weather hysterics would fall into this category.

Of course, predicting stuff is hard, especially the future. Thus, forget about Obama's old four-year plan. Let's focus on the new one. P2 is just around the corner.

But here's something the political gnostic doesn't know: "in truth the hereafter is far nearer than the future," for the Eternal is "found at the heart of all temporal development," and is precisely that "which gives it life and direction" (de Lubac). This is the only progress that always and truly is.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Peacocks and Propheteers of the Left

We left off yesterday with the assertion that the lofty program of the mystico-political gnostic is pretty much half-baked if not half-assed, and that his actual goal "need not be understood very precisely."

In fact, this gaseous mystagoguery isn't optional for the political gnostic, since both the goal and the means will be seen as dangerous or cuckoo if spelled out in detail. It's not a bug but a feature. ("You have to pass the bill to see what's in it.")

Expressed another way, the political gnostic needs to arouse and enlist emotion without engaging the critical intellect. Or, if intellect is involved, it must be in conformity with deeper emotional prejudices.

This is why I am convinced that political differences have much more to do with culture than with fact and logic. We talk about a "culture war" as part of a wider political conflict, but it's really the other way around: the political war is a subset of the culture war. It explains why, say, Jews and blacks overwhelmingly vote Democrat against their own values and interests.

The Democratic party surely helps some individual blacks through its corrupt system of victim patronage and racial spoils, but it cannot be seriously argued that leftist policies help blacks as an aggregate, as most recently witnessed by the disparate impact of the Obama economy on blacks and other minorities.

And Jews are so successful in any context that they are almost a case of the "peacock's tail," or handicap principle of evolution. The useless extravagance of the male peacock's tail is said to signal a kind of "conspicuous consumption" on the part of the cock, as if he is saying to the cockette: "Hey baby, look at me. I'm so genetically fit that I can squander my precious genetic inheritance on this crazy tail!"

Likewise, Jews -- and any affluent liberal, really, e.g., actors and rock stars -- telegraph various cultural signals via the adoption of extravagant, wasteful, and inefficient liberalism.

To take just one obvious example of how this might work, it is routine for anti-Semites to accuse Jews of greed, or money-grubbing, or selfishness (or Palestinian hatred, for that martyr). What better way to deflect this oogedy-bigotry than to adhere to a philosophy that pisses away trillions of dollars in the name of altruism? (To paraphrase someone, "my goal in life is to be wealthy enough to vote Democrat.")

I just recently read a book called Four Cultures of the West that adds some useful insights, one of which is that the cultural container is just as important as the content -- almost a variant of "the medium is the message." It explains how, for example, there can be prophet-based cultures that seem opposite but actually share the same deeper structure.

Looked at in this way, a wild-eyed "scientific prophet" such as Al Gore has more in common with the style (style, not content) of Martin Luther or John the Baptist than with Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein.

This also sheds light on a previous episode of cultural conflict, the European religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. In reality, religion was just a pretext to unleash violence and barbarism that had more to do with cultural differences than with religious doctrine. As O'Malley explains, different cultures were "doing battle with one another under the cover of religious polemics."

That line struck me, because I think it applies equally to the present, in which sub-cultures are battling one another under the cover of political polemics. This is much easier for a conservative to appreciate than it is for a liberal, since liberals are always blinded by the conceit that their ideas and policies are completely rational, "reality-based," and universal.

It is difficult for a liberal to recognize that he's actually part of a tribe (it was much more obvious in the 1960s), and that his intellect is influenced by deeper springs of kinship and xenophobia. This is why, even when they are trying to be charitable, they always regard conservatives as some sort of alien species.

Consider this typical example dissected by Taranto yesterday (second story down), a "lurid fantasy" penned by some liberal hysteric who imagines that the people who disagree with him constitute a tiny and irrelevant minority fit only to inhabit reservations. In other words, half the country should confine itself to self-enclosed ghettos. What's especially ironic is that we already have self-enclosed ghettos crawling with political eccentrics and batty moonorities. But maybe he never went to college.

Indeed, it is an enduring theme on the left that the mere fact of conservatism requires some sort of pseudo-scientific explanation, since the ideas and principles it promulgates needn't be taken seriously. Thus, the two cultures are often operating on different levels. Conservatives argue fact and logic, but liberals ignore this in favor of a hermeneutical/deconstructive approach that "interprets" what conservatives are "really saying."

For example, when we say that we cherish the liberal principle of racial color-blindness, they interpret this as a cover for racial bigotry. Or, when we suggest that it is a dangerously radical thing to redefine the essential unit of civilization, they interpret this as "homophobia." When we say that we don't believe women are an oppressed minority, they interpret this as misogyny. Fighting for our natural rights under the first amendment is just the nefarious business of a shadowy right wing cabal.

Here again, the left wages a culture war without even knowing it. They do not engage on the plane of ideas, but only pretend to do so. There is no need to actually do the math to determine if a punitive tax on the successful will do anything to mitigate our fiscal calamity. Rather, this is just another liberal dog-whistle that only the envious can hear.

The four cultures described by O'Malley are the prophetic, the academic/professional, the humanistic, and the artistic. These days the academic/professional mostly goes under the name of science, while the humanistic embodies literature. Ironically, there is a huge culture war between these two that goes mostly unacknowledged, at least on the left.

For example, there is no way to reconcile the goofy relativism and deconstruction of the humanities departments with the type of pompously unambiguous truths churned out by popular science. This leads to all sorts of interesting conflicts, for example, the pseudo-scientific idea that sexual orientation is genetically fixed, vs. the subhumanistic idea that gender is just a cultural construct that is imposed upon us. (Someone -- can't remember who at the moment -- reminded us of the Monty Python skit in which the new father asks the doctor if it's a boy or girl, and he curtly responds, "It's a bit early to begin imposing gender roles, don't you think?")

One could also the cite the Darwinian idea that homosexuality is the one thing that should never occur in a system that revolves around reproductive success, vs. the romantic idea that there can never be anything unnatural about homosexuality.

Obama is a classic case (at least in 2008) of the prophetic genre, even though he and his acolyteweights like to think that they are all about Reality.

Of the prophetic idiom, O'Malley writes that "fundamentalists both religious and secular are comfortable here," for "it is the culture, above all, of the reformer decrying injustice and corruption in high places."

It is the culture that denounces the existing order, while holding out vague but grandiose "promises of better times to come," i.e., weaponized hopenchange. It is "the culture of great expectations, expectations that surpass anything that seems humanly possible." And it is usually gnostic, since it is "revealed to the few, hidden from the many." Which brings us full circle and ends this post.