Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Immortality, While You Wait!

About that dimmer switch described in yesterday's post: what the dimmer actually attenuates is the process of immortalization. This is the word Voegelin uses "to characterize noetic life [¶] as a habit of action by which man can, and ought to, increase his potential immortality to its full stature."

Thus, instead of the simple dichotomy of mortal/immortal, we see an immortalizing process that takes place in the irreducible "in-between" that is human existence.

Voegelin reminds us of the orthoparadox that the Nous -- which we symbolize (¶) -- "is both the god beyond man and the divine entity within man." Thus, as described yesterpost, there is always a temptation to collapse this tension if the two aren't "held firmly apart." Indeed, it is the temptation, if we may be so bold. Or if Genesis I is correct.

For what was the source of Adam's fall? Really, it was a result of presuming to ascend too high, thus collapsing the existential tension between O and Ø. In pretending to become more than what he is, he becomes less than that: "you shall be as gods" = "you are cursed more than all cattle." In other words: for trying to steal all the slack, I give you none! For dust you are, and to dust you shall return, (•) to Ø.

If this seems overly harsh, you probably haven't understood what has occurred. And is occurring, since Class I revelation such as that found in Genesis I-IV is as close as we can come to describing not what happened once upon a time, but what happens every time (i.e., "one's upin a timeless").

For the Creator isn't really doing anything to you; rather, he's just giving you the courtesy of letting you know what happens when you do it to yourself. If it has never happened to you, you haven't assimilated the memO, so it will keep happening until you do.

Do what? Stop collapsing O and Ø, ya' knucklehead!

The hyper-promethean Hegel might have made the most audacious -- or at least unreadable -- attempt at this, and not for nothing may the modern left trace its genealogy back to him, since Marx merely stole Hegel's dimmer switch and adjusted it to Ø instead of O.

I'm afraid I'm going to gradually lose all my readers with this symbolic jargon, but that is literally -- or symbolically, to be literal -- what happened. For Hegel, "the two Nous entities... blend into the one Geist." Instead of a permanent tension between O and Ø, Hegel converts them to two poles in the dialectic, which are synthesized in -- how convenient! -- Hegel himself.

Marx then tossed Hegel out of the equation and replaced him with "history," which ends in socialist man -- i.e., of "God damn America!," of "I just want to spread it around," and "you didn't build that!" The descent to pure Ø is complete, and Genesis has been fulfilled yet again.

Voegelin: from this "state of confusion [con=fusion], there rather emerges the new type of system which transforms experienced participation in the divine into speculative possession of the divine. The system has had prodigious success, and still has, because it furnishes the intellectual apparatus for the various ideological and theological attempts at bringing God and the world, society and history, under the control of man" (emphasis mine).

Even so, there is no failure like success, since it is axiomatic that Ø can never contain or eliminate O. Voegelin points out that man has developed "a wealth of symbols" to describe the "nuances of existential tension" between O and Ø, such as love, faith, and hope.

Each of these describes "a search from the side of man and attraction from the side of God." In the absence of the latter, it would be absurd and unintelligible to even conceive of the search. In short, the search must already be a reflection of the love, faith, and hope, which "grow" as a consequence.

Via the O <---> Ø dimmer switch, we might say that God is gradually "humanized" while man is slowly "divinized" (Incarnation and Theosis, respectively). Note that at one end of the spectrum lies mortality, at the other, immortality, i.e., Death and Life. Thus man, because he lives in the in-between, is aware of Death and of Immortality like nobody's isness.

Therefore, the immortalizing process described above in paragraph one must involve some kind of metabolism of Life, or of Immortality. Could this be possible? If so, it would certainly shed light on Holy Communion, among many other things.

Perhaps an analogy from the world of psychology may be helpful. When a patient comes in for treatment, he is almost always having a problem with what is called "mentalization." In fact, a "symptom" might be thought of as a failure to mentalize; or a "failure to communicate" between one part of the psyche and another.

When we mentalize something, we convert experience to symbol, allowing us to "think" about it. In the absence of the symbolic transformation, the thinking, such as it is, takes place, to a greater or lesser degree, in the body only.

Let me provide a brief example. A couple of decades ago, I saw a patient who, about five years prior to that, had been robbed at gunpoint and shot in the belly. Traumatic, to say the least.

Fast forward five years. He is at work in a factory of some kind, and a couple of coworkers decide to play a little joke on him. One of them raises a metal bar and holds it like a rifle, aiming it directly at the patient. The other coworker claps a couple 2 x 4s together, which produces a loud cracking noise which sounds more than a little like gunfire.

The patient instantly falls to the floor and believes himself to be bleeding from the gut. Physical reactions take over -- he is crying and shaking uncontrollably in a kind of agitated trance. He is taken to the ER and given a sedative, which brings him back to reality. Nevertheless he required additional psychotherapy in order to make sense of -- to mentalize and metabolize -- what had happened to him.

The first thing you will notice is that Freud was correct about the timelessness of the unconscious mind. In historical time the two events were widely separated. But in psychological time, they were not only close but "identical," so to speak.

Likewise, this is what it means to say that Genesis speaks of things that "happen every time." Looked at one way, Adam lived 40,000 or 100,000, or 200,000 years ago. Looked at another way, he is right here next to us. Correction: he is us, for Adam means man "collectively (mankind), individually (a 'man'), [and] gender nonspecific ('man and woman')."

So our vertical fall is "mortalization," while our endless re-ascent is indeed "immortalization."

Good news, bad news. Mankind is free...

F-

--A

---L

----L

-----I

------N'!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dim and Dimmer

To review: we've been discussing man's 40,000 year search for order, an order which has personal, social, political, and spiritual dimensions. That being the case, it wouldn't surprise us to discover that these various orders are -- or should be -- a reflection, instantiation, or declension of the One Tall Order.

We laft off with a description of the leftist (or any other ideologue, left or right, up or down) who refuses or suspends the Search in favor of a special gnostic formula -- what Voegelin calls a second reality -- which he then attempts to impose upon the world. Which looks something like this:

Voegelin describes such an ontic eclipse -- in which the celestial light is blotted out by human darkness -- as follows: "the time in which the ideologue places his construction is not the time of existence in tension toward eternity, but a symbol by which he tries to pull the timeless into identity with the time of existence." This is a key principle, and one you will need to bear in mind as we proceed over the subsequent terra firma and infirma.

For us, the most adequate way to express this point is via unsaturated symbols, otherwise, ironically, we will end up making the same mistake as the ideologue, and reduce reality to some simplistic and precogitated formula.

Thus, we say that man lives -- and must live -- in the space between Ø and O. Indeed, this is what it means to be a man. A pessimist would say we are condemned to this space. The optimystic calls it a gift, or an open presence (more on which below).

O is the realm of the eternal, of perpetual creation, of vertical forms and energies, of God. We can all agree -- both theist and infidel alike -- that no man can be identical to it, even while no man can be radically apart from it.

In other words, whether or not God exists, we can all stipulate that you and I are not That. Where we differ with the infidel is over the status of Ø. For him, Ø is all there is, and O is none of our isness.

But for us, human existence specifically takes place in this luminous space between time and eternity, between O and Ø. O provides direction to, and confers meaning upon, life (i.e., the Search), even if (or because!) we can never reach it -- any more than we could reach "music" as such, as opposed to simply creating and/or enjoying more of it.

Thus, one could say that we know God exists because we can never reach him. Only the atheist believes otherwise, although he obviously wouldn't formulate it in this manner; nevertheless, it is axiomatic that if God doesn't exist, only He knows it.

We're not just being cute here. Rather, this is essentially identical to Aquinas' point about the possibility of knowledge. Only because things are created are they intelligible; and only because things are created are they not ultimately intelligible (by us). We can always know more and more, without ever reaching the limit. In the absence of our divine sponsor there would be nothing to know and no one to know it.

In other words, the human station gives unique access to truth, even while placing constraints around it. Conversely, the person who rejects the principle of (vertical) creation simultaneously rejects intelligence and/or intelligibility, which, in our world, amount to the same thing (i.e., are two inevitable sides of the same fact of Creation).

Or, put simply: if everything is Ø, there is no reason to believe that anything is true, because there is either no truth to be had or no possibility that human beings could ever know it (or know if and when they know it).

So, here we are, stuck in the middle: Ø <---> O

As most of you know, there is also a "center of gravity" at either end -- an Attractor. Thus, the spiritual life involves first and foremost applying oneself to --> O, which is really (↑). This is repentance, or metanoia, or being vertically "born again" (or the cosmic reorientation of a formal rebirth into the vertical).

The ideologue essentially squeezes Ø and O together, in what might be schematized Ø --> • <-- O. Instead of a harmonious relationship of love in the space between O and Ø, one might say that O is "raped" by Ø -- literally taken by force (instead of loved and revered).

For the ideologue, this tightly fused • becomes "everything" (recall the Oclipse pictured above). In other words, even though O is denied at the outset, it unconsciously informs • (notice how the Light still emanates at the edges) and gives it a religious character that comes out in the form of the all-too-familiar self-righteousness, sanctimony, fanaticism, demonology, conformity, heresy, pressure to convert, etc. It is what happens when Ø is elevated to O or O is reduced to Ø.

Continuing with the above passage by Voegelin in paragraph three: although "the reality of tension between the timeless and time is lost," "the form of the tension is preserved by the dream act of forcing the two poles into oneness. We can characterize the ideologue's 'post-Christian age,' therefore, as a symbol engendered by his libidinous dream of self-salvation." (The dream is libidinous, or grasping, so to speak, because it doesn't preserve the love that guides -- and is the fruit of -- the passionate search for O.)

Sometimes -- or maybe even always -- these insights are better expressed via poetry, since one might say that poetry is the language par excellence of the Luminous Space that profane language alone has difficulty reaching. Thus, Voegelin quotes Eliot, who wrote of how History is a pattern of timeless moments, and the point of intersection of the timeless with time.

The latter is precisely how I would express it. Only man has a history -- and knows it -- because only man has access to this point of intersection between time and eternity. Only man "partakes of both time and eternity," and therefore "does not wholly belong to one or the other."

Let's try to bring this down a couple of notches, and give it a more phamiliar phenomenological phlavor. In this luminous space we inhabit -- which we symbolize (o) -- "There appears to be a flow of existence that is not existence in time." Voegelin uses the term presence "to denote the point of intersection in man's existence; and the term flow of presence to denote the dimension of existence that is, and is not, time."

Therefore, so long as we are human, we exist in this "flow of presence" we call time and history. It is obviously where "evolution" and "development," i.e., meaningful and progressive change, take place. But what exactly is "developing"?

If we consider this space vertically, I would compare it to an adjustable lamp switch -- a dimmer, if you will. Or a brighter, if you will in the other direction.

Let's look at this familiar model, which has a dimmer switch above a standard on/off switch. To live in an ideology is to turn the bottom switch off and be done with it. The Search is over. Now it's just a matter of converting everyone else.

The believer, however, lives with his invisible hand on the dimmer switch. Right now, for example, as I write, my dimmer switch is turned way up. But pretty soon I'll have to go to work and turn it down. Not all the way, mind you, unless it turns out to be an unusually bad day.

But the image of that particular dimmer switch is misleading because it is too linear. In point of fact it is circular, like so:

And that reminds me of something Voegelin said on p. 65: God alone knows who is nearer to that end that is the beginning. Since we are not O, we cannot stand outside O and objectively see how close or distant we are. How do we get around this? Two ways, mainly: "know them by their fruits" and the "plentiful harvest." The former give a kind of orientation, the latter a forward momentum.

Regarding the proximity of end and beginning -- or alpha and omega -- Voegelin notes that this is why "Christ is both the 'historical Christ' with a 'pre-' and 'post-' in time, and the divine timelessness, omnipresent in the flow of history, with neither a 'pre-' nor a 'post-.'" You know, before Abraham was, I AM.

Indeed, Matthew 1 presents a kind of standard horizontal genealogy, in which so-and-so begets what's-his-name, whereas John 1 presents the perpetual vertical (or circular) logoalogy that occurs outside time, at the brightest end of the dimmer switch ("the Word was with God, and the Word was God").

One might depict this circular activity as the ceaseless flow of (↑↓).

And if you're still with me, this would explain why the Fathers attempted to "express the two-in-one reality of God's participation in man, without either compromising the separateness of the two or splitting the one," and because "the reality of the Mediator and the intermediate reality of consciousness have the same structure."

You might say that the Platonist (or Vedantin) attempts to leave the dark cave for the bright light, whereas Christ installs a dimmer switch in each mancave -- i.e., the so-called cave of the heart.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Order of Obama's Disordered Mind

For those joining the program in progress, we've been searching after the order of the cosmos, which is what humans are always doing anyway. The only difference is that we are explicit about it. For example, Obama's belief that we didn't build this isn't just ignorant, it's positively tenured.

But beyond that, it is also a statement about the order of reality, about first principles and primary ideological commitments. You will have noticed that Obama was quite passionate when he made the statement, and that the audience was whooping it up and egging him on -- as if he were auditioning to replace the Reverend Jeremiah Wright in the First Church of the Perpetual Victim.

Yeah, all you millionaires and billionaires out there who pull down 250K -- okay, $167K after taxes to pay for roads and teachers -- you may attribute your success to brains and sweat, but there are plenty of smart and hardworking folks out there, so you're just wrong -- not to mention, greedy and selfish.

Are there people who are just lucky? Of course! That is not a bug but a feature. Thanks to the freedom that is built into the market, it's not like some kind of linear machine, whereby you insert intelligence at one end and extract cash and other valuable prizes at the other. Sometimes intelligence and hard work will pay off. Sometimes they won't. Rule #1: Life isn't fair.

And sometimes a crass idiot -- say, Barack Obama -- will reach the pinnacle of success. But do I believe we need to tear down and reform the whole system just because this dimwit makes more money than I do? No, not at all. Thanks to this feature of the system, it gives hope to every moron that they too can make it in America. Imagine the despair if this weren't the case?

In places where self-appointed elites who are smarter than the rest of us attempt to impose a "fairer" order from on high, it never results in more fairness, or justice, or general affluence. Thanks to the Wisdom of Crowds, the unruly crowd demonstrates more wisdom than the pinheads who imagine they know better -- for which reason William F. Buckley famously resnarked that he would prefer to be governed by the first 100 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty.

The critical point is that the Order of Things is not static but dynamic. This dynamic order, as Mises and Hayek recognized, contains an infinitude of intelligence, dispersed throughout the system. In this context it is perfectly acceptable to say you didn't built that. Why? Because the hidden hand of the marketplace converts your intelligence, your ideas, your desires, even your greed, into social goods.

This is something the leftist refuses to believe: that order emerges from chaos. Instead, he believes that order emerges from order -- specifically, his own special insight into the order of reality. This is the impulse that prompts the leftist to believe that he can design a medical system superior to what the market would produce (if it were allowed to do so instead of being distorted by the state), or that he can steer the entire macroeconomy -- at no cost and with no unintended consequences -- simply by stealing from the future and pouring it into the present.

Why does the leftist refuse to believe in the order of reality? Pride would appear to play a predominant role. In particular, the tenured class is perpetually aggrieved at the fact that its economic station doesn't reflect its brilliance, whereas some businessboob lives on his own tropical island with a stable of supermodels. It's not fair!

Which only goes to show their own intellectual shallowness, because the privilege and pleasures of the life of mind -- of the true philosopher -- greatly exceed those of the sensory nervous system (to say nothing of the "pleasures of spirit," so to speak, or, even better, when all three -- body, mind, and spirit -- are integrated, which one might say is the "unsurpassable order" for human beings. Nor would the Raccoon exchange this proper dynamic order for anything in the world).

Taranto discussed this the other day. He was pondering the question of what seems to be eating at the perpetually embittered former Enron advisor Paul Krugman -- who would appear to have it all, except for sanity, charm, looks, and non-beady eyes that don't dart around like Scrat searching for his missing acorn:

"Status anxiety, that's what. He is part of America's intellectual elite. By the measure of his credentials -- Ivy League professorship, Nobel Memorial Prize, New York Times column -- he arguably is at its very pinnacle, the elitest of the elitists and, thanks to the Times, one of the most famous. He is also, as any observer can attest, a very self-important person."

So in a just world, Krugman's economic acumen shouldn't only be acclaimed by all, but by all rights he should be running our lives, no?

"It's common for eggheads to nurture ressentiment against fat cats. Intellectuals are apt to hold a self-serving belief in cognitive meritocracy, in the idea that the brightest are also the best. They envy the rich because wealth is a concrete measure of status that is out of proportion to what the intellectual believes to be true merit. If they're so rich, how come they're not smart?"

At the moment it's a little difficult to imagine a more frightening scenario than the order of the world reflecting the order of Paul Krugman's head.

Let's get back to Voegelin. He directly addresses the issue we've been discussing, writing of how symbols become erected into the "entities" of ideology, which is to say, how reality -- which is always a verb -- is transformed into the nouns of ideological doctrine (which is an instance of Whitehead's fallacy of misplaced concreteness).

Intellectuals are obviously much more prone to this fallacy than the ordinary intelligent person, say, a businessman, who, if he were to operate his business along Marxist lines, would be out of business in a week. Sure, Marxism works: in the land of the tenured, where one is generously compensated for producing ideas that do not work in the real world because they are detached from said world.

Such a thinker "pays for his intellectual cleanliness the price of denying truth altogether." But actual truth only exists in the messy field of tension between knower and known. Or, as Voegelin explains, truth is not "a bit of information that has escaped" the notice of others, but "a pole in the tension of order and disorder, of reality and loss of reality."

Man's epistemophilic instinct actually has two components. On the one hand we are repelled by disorder, on the other, moved by a kind of longing for truth. You might say that there is an attractor, O, which provokes our desire and pulls us toward it; but also a kind of "inverse attractor" (Ø) that repels us, even though we must always tolerate it on pain of magically eliminating the tension between Ø and O via some defective dogma.

One of the most adequate formulations of this tension was set forth by Paul, who called it the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. To imagine one may reach the other side of this tension is to convert truth into a kind of "absolute object" that derails us into "doctrinaire existence."

For those who subsist in such an impoverished and unhappitat, "the subfield is a closed world; there is nothing beyond it, or at least nothing they care to know about, should they uneasily sense that something is there after all." But truth remains: "When it is excluded from the universe of intellectual discourse, its presence in reality makes itself felt in the disturbance of mental operations," i.e., a state of pneumapathology.

Just to wrap this up, we know that Obama didn't build you didn't build that. Rather, this defective idea was built by a quintessential man of tenure, George Lakoff. Now, Lakoff is the same intellectual who counsels those on the left to counter conservative arguments by placing their hands over their ears while chanting LALALALALALALALA!!!

In other words, don't just do something about reality. Shout over it!

Lakoff hasn't discovered anything new, since denial is a well known psychological defense mechanism. But shifted to the intellectual and spiritual planes, it results in "a whole class of phenomena" being "denied cognizance" and therefore existence. Which wouldn't trouble us if not for the fact that "every now and then, there happens along" an assoul

"who takes himself seriously and faces everybody else with the alternative of either joining him in his intellectual prison or being put in a concentration camp." Thankfully we don't have concentration camps. Rather, we just toil for the state for several months of the year, or are herded into the leftist seminaries called "public schools," or are corralled into "insurance exchanges" on the way to socialized medicine.

There is another alternative for the ideologue, but this "would release a flood of anxiety, and the dread of this flood keeps the doors of the prison closed.... The alternative to life in the paradise of his dream is death in the hell of his banality."

And yeah, he built that.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Obama and the Authoritarian Enlightenment

As mentioned at the top of yesterday's post, man's existence is a search for order. Throughout most of history, and in most civilizations, this order was (and is) imposed from on high.

While these orders may have initially emerged spontaneously, they eventually become crystalized around things other than the engendering truth(s) they are supposed to reflect. Voegelin's entire corpus is the residue of his search for order -- as is the Knowa's Arkive and Seer's Catalogue of soiled bobservations.

At issue in the current presidential campaign is two fundamentally different orders, one that relies on liberty, individual initiative, self-mastery, and the spontaneous order of the free market; the other of which champions an order imposed upon us by the state, which consists of elites who have a special insight into the order of things, and who do not trust the individual to arrive at this order on his own.

This dialectic has been present throughout history, the reason being that it is present in each human subject. For just as society is man writ large, man is a micro-society. There are various ways to describe this tension in man, but it essentially comes down to individualism <---> socialism, which I would suggest is ultimately rooted in male <---> female (or, more abstractly, contained <---> container).

For example, when people speak of a "nanny state," they are intuiting and expressing a genuine truth about the deep order of things.

Due to a semantic confusion introduced over the past several decades, there has been a reversal of what the words "liberal" and "conservative" signify. As a result, it is conservatives who are champions of change and progress (especially via the free market), liberals who wish to resist change by imposing a static, top-down order on the rest of us.

Let me provide a historical example. As mentioned a couple of days ago, I'm reading this history of Prussia, and last night was learning about the revolutionary movements of the mid-19th century.

Among other things, what these liberals -- radicals -- were demanding was a fixed constitution, freedom of expression, and a political order rooted in common language and values, rather than one imposed by a distant state.

Furthermore, "liberals argued that industrialization and mechanization were the cure for, not the cause of, the social crisis, and called for the removal of government regulations that hindered investment and obstructed economic growth."

"Conservatives," on the other hand, were what we now call leftists: they -- ironically, along with the Marxists (or left Hegelians) -- argued "that the responsibility for arresting the polarization of society must lie with the state as the custodian of the general interest."

Some were proponents -- sound familiar? -- of authoritarian enlightenment, and "favoured the use of illiberal means to achieve progressive ends."

From the peculiar psyche of Hegel came the argument that the state "was an organism possessing will, rationality and purpose. Its destiny -- like that of any living thing -- was to change, grow and progressively develop. The state was 'the power of reason actualising itself as will'; it was a transcendent domain in which the alienated, competitive 'particular interests' of civil society merged into coherence and identity."

Most people don't know this, but when Hegel died of cholera in 1831, he was working on a book with broader appeal, called You Didn't Build That!

Hegel was the first assoul to suggest that "the state had a quasi-divine purpose; it was 'God's march through the world'... by which the multitude of subjects who constituted civil society was redeemed into universality." The state is "the highest expression of the ethical substance of a people, the unfolding of a transcendent and rational order..."

Now, just subtract "God," and you have the modern left. Or, more precisely, imbue the Dear Leader with divine-like properties.

What did Evan Thomas say? "I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above – above the world, he’s sort of God."

Newsweek was almost right: we're all Hegelians now.

For Obama is not some America-loving cretin, like Reagan: rather, he is all about "‘we're above that now.’ We're not just parochial, we're not just chauvinistic, we're not just provincial. We stand for something.... He's going to bring all different sides together.... He's the teacher. He is going to say, ‘now, children, stop fighting and quarreling with each other.’ And he has a kind of a moral authority that he -- he can -- he can do that."

And so he has.

I've suddenly been called away to work. The end

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Obama, the Malfunctioning Pharaoh

Man's existence is a search for order. Back in the day -- we're talking ancient times -- man sought order via alignment with the cosmos. This approach survives today, for example, in the form of astrology, or new year celebrations, or the search for a mythical TOE (theory of everything) that would reduce all existence to an elegant equation.

Hence the excitement over the apparent confirmation of the "God particle" -- as if metaphysics may be reduced to physics. Why not just enjoy the science on its own level? Failure to curb one's titanic enthusiasm here is tantamount to winning an Oscar and imagining this crowns one "king of the world."

But if one has exiled oneself from the Ground, this doesn't mean one will cease searching after it. Doesn't work that way. It's just that the search will be displaced, no different than, say, the neurotic person who compulsively searches for his father's love via repeated homosexual encounters. The compulsion is fueled by virtue of the fact that no amount of the latter substitutes for the former, for you can never get enough of what you don't really need.

Likewise, it is beyond obvious to say that God -- or the Ground -- is much more than the sum of the parts of the universe, just as no amount of two-dimensional planes adds up to a three-dimensional object. God is capacious enough to contain all possible universes, let alone this one, just as the mind can conceive any number of truths. Don't worry, your mind will never run out of real estate. Unless you aren't real astute, and end up building your own wall around it.

Remember, a cosmos isn't just a cosmos. Rather, "cosmos" is simply the word we use for the existence of the total order at any given time. We always have a sense of this total order, even if the vision or content change from century to century. Today, for example, most people go on living in a pre-Einsteinian cosmos in order to prop up a disordered and defective worldview, e.g., atheists or literal creationists.

Anyway, back in the old days, the ruler was seen as the living link, so to speak, between the celestial (i.e., cosmic) and terrestrial orders. In ancient Egypt, for example, "the Pharaoh is supposed to be the mediator of this order to society" (Voegelin). Thus, if there was disorder -- if things were falling apart and getting too out of hand in the herebelow -- it was "because of the Pharaoh's malfunctioning."

Before you laugh at Egypt for having made no psychospiritual progress in the past 5,000 years -- okay, after laughing -- realize that we do the same thing, albeit in a more or less mature and sublimated manner. If you think back to 2008, the left spoke as if the existing Pharaoh had become so toxic that the cosmos itself had strayed from its axis. In fact, ever since then, Taranto has had a running gag called Everything is Seemingly Spinning Out of Control, based on an epically silly AP headline from that year.

If Obama was good at one thing, it was at exploiting this longing on the part of the left for a new and improved Pharaoh to realign the cosmos. Unfortunately, now that he himself has become the malfunctioning Pharaoh -- i.e., the Emperor's New Empty Suit -- he has been shorn of this one acknowledged skill.

If the Pharodent were to encourage such absurd flights of infantile phantasy this time around, it would simply expose the freudulent hate-and-switch at the root of his previous success. And few figures are more forlorn than a fading pharaoh falling from the fictional pyramid he so fleetly flew up just a few years back.

Remember the immortal self-beclowning of Mark Morford? "[I]n response to... those with broken or sadly dysfunctional karmic antennae -- or no antennae at all -- to all those who just don't understand and maybe even actively recoil against all this chatter about Obama's aura and feel and MLK/JFK-like vibe."

Hold it right there. No one has accused Obama of cheating on his wife.

"To them I say, all right, you want to know what it is? The appeal, the pull, the ethereal and magical thing that seems to enthrall millions of people from all over the world, that keeps opening up and firing into new channels of the culture normally completely unaffected by politics?"

Hmm, let me think. Joe Biden said he was clean, and Harry Reid said he didn't talk like a negro. Is it that?

"No, it's not merely his youthful vigor, or handsomeness, or even inspiring rhetoric. It is not fresh ideas or cool charisma or the fact that a black president will be historic and revolutionary in about a thousand different ways. It is something more. Even Bill Clinton, with all his effortless, winking charm [sic], didn't have what Obama has, which is a sort of powerful luminosity, a unique high-vibration integrity."

I see. A Pharaoh then?

"Dismiss it all you like, but I've heard from far too many enormously smart, wise, spiritually attuned people who've been intuitively blown away by Obama's presence - not speeches, not policies, but sheer presence..."

Well, at least you're not the last person to get burned by Tony Robbins.

I don't know. This all sounds a little... what's the word?

"... gooey. Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul."

Now, not only do I not see Obama as an Evolutionary Lightworker who is attuned to my Deeply Spiritual Being, but rather, as a plain old Presidential Failure. But that's all he is: a failed president. Sure, that's bad, but imagine how bad one must feel in the wake of a failed god.

That equates to an ontic collapse, a complete failure of cosmic order -- similar to how the collapse of the Soviet Union left historian Eric Hobsbawm heartbroken. But the heartbreak was misplaced, because it should have been over an utterly wasted life spent using one's god-given talents to defend evil. That is heartbreak, especially when it occurs so close to the night, when no man can work.

Just to wrap this up, on the ontological plane we are discussing, the principle of the cosmological ruler/mediator was eventually displaced -- at least for some -- by the Christic God-man who embodies the trans-cosmic order -- the logos -- in a more direct and personal -- rather than political and collective -- manner. He, of course, cannot be surpassed. But the left will never stop trying, for it is What They Do.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Space: The Final Up-, Down-, Back- & Frontier

Within this space "Man discovers his existence as illuminated from within by Intellect or Nous" (Voegelin). The latter is both a part of existence -- obviously -- and yet transcends it in such a way that it may search after knowledge in various directions: up, down, forward, back, and laterally.

For example, "up" is the realm of metaphysics, theology, intellection, and the most general and universal principles; "down" is the plane of sensation, physical law, and empirical knowledge of things; "lateral" involves especially the human world, rooted in introspection, empathy, and natural reason; "back" is, of course, history, prehistory, and mythology, all the way down to the upagain of metaphysics and revelation -- to the origin and ground that is simultaneously meaning and end.

All of these areas -- and more -- are illuminated in the space of (¶). Furthermore, everything we have said thus far is already known by you, even if you don't yet consciously know it, or refuse to acknowledge it for reasons unknown only to you.

Truth remains evertrue, even if it is known by no one. It is your cosmic birthright -- at once gift and limit, for while these categories permit us to think, we cannot think beyond or outside them. So, in the words of Socrates, it's a good nous/bad nous situation.

When one refuses, or is in revolt against, truth, one has entered a state of pneumapathology. As we have disussed in the past, psychopathology is more of a lateral or horizontal phenomenon, rooted in disturbances either in the nervous system or in human relationships.

But pneumapathology is more of a vertical phenomenon rooted mostly in spiritual relationships, and secondarily in the body.

I won't spend too much time on the latter, because it's a rather murky subject area, but the literature is rife with vivid accounts of spiritual energy run amuck in the body. Most people on a spiritual path are familiar with its whims.

Voegelin describes pneumapathology as "a loss of personal and social order through loss of contact with nonexistent reality," i.e., the "up" alluded to above.

In fact, I would say that it is man's primary vocation to allow this nonexistent reality to ex-ist, which means literally to stand-out, march forth, and come into being.

This nonexistent reality is necessarily no-where until we render it some-where. Thus, the human being is analogous to a lens or prismhouse through which the light of (↓) is refracted into various spiritual "colors," e.g., love, truth, beauty, compassion, wisdom, and all the rest.

If you look closely, you can actually see this light in certain people, just as you can see the darkness in them. With eyes not made by Darwin, of course.

Now, (¶) is ultimately the divine presence in man. No, make that penultimately, because we need to preserve a little space for ʘ, more on which later. Actually, it is more a matter of degree or of development, analogous to the difference between a child's ego and an adult ego. You know the story -- when we were children, we spoke and thought and reasoned as William Yelverton.

Looked at from a certain angle, one can discern in history the repeated pattern of explosive encounters with O, gradual loss of O, and then sudden reacquisition (so to speak) of O. O is, among other things, what Voegelin means when he refers to "order," specifically, the human order (about which we will have much more to say as we proceed).

For example, just yesterday the pattern was revealed in this massive History of Prussia that I'm reading for some reason. Wait a second -- let me go fetch it.

By way of context, areas of Prussia were hotspots in the religious wars of the 17th century. It was here that Lutherans broke from Catholics, and that Calvinists broke even more radically with Lutherans. For example, "At the heart of the most committed forms of Calvinism was a fastidious disgust at the strands of papalism that survived within Lutheran observance."

But the real issue beneath the outward historical pattern is loss of contact with O. Man cannot live without this contact, which explains the passion and urgency of the actors. One offshoot of Lutheranism was Pietism, just one of many religious movements that longed for a more intense and committed encounter with O, as it were:

"Pietism was about living to the full Luther's 'priesthood of all believers'; Pietists cherished the experience of faith; they developed a refined vocabulary to describe the extreme psychic states that attended the transition from a merely nominal to a truly heartfelt belief.... Perhaps because it was driven by such explosive emotions, Pietism was also dynamic and unstable" (Clark).

True dat. You see, the state craves one kind of order, while (¶) craves another, and these were generally at odds until the establishment of the United States, which was founded on the principle that all men have the intrinsic right to pursue O -- or not -- in their own way. This was the American creed until 2008, when President Obama openly declared that the order of the state trumps the order of O.

That's enough Prussia for the moment, but one thing this demonstrates is that the problem was not with Catholicism per se, only the extent to which the Church had become ineffective in helping people maintain contact with O. This is what produces the offshoots.

But today, due to the same force (↑), people are abandoning many of the mainstream churches and returning to Catholicism and Orthodoxy for a more intense religious experience (which was clearly one of the purposes of Vatican II). Now that the latter two are no longer mixed up with the state, they can focus more purely on O.

This sure is going slowly. No wonder there are 34 volumes of it. Out of time again.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Penetrating to the Core of Leftist Rot: Rules for Ridicule

This brief blast (unfortunate choice of terms for a Unabomber victim -- let's say righteous rant) by David Gelernter touches on some of the matters we've been discussing lately. As lucid as it is, it cannot penetrate to the core in the way Voegelin does, for he is still operating in the realms of fact and opinion rather than the Truth beyond which there can be no truther (although the book, America Lite, no doubt takes the argument deeper and higher).

For it is not sufficient to be conservative and therefore "correct" about this or that public (and private!) policy. Rather, this correctness needs to be grounded in something much deeper, otherwise (among other problems) it will have the tendency to merely provoke -- and even feed -- its reactionary opposite among leftists, who may not know much, but at least know who they hate.

There is a kind of conservatism that is in perpetual duality with the left, another kind that flies above -- and below -- it. (In other words, it is both transcendent and immanent, whereas leftism is pure "middle range," which renders it absurd and ungrounded.)

This is why (lower case) reason is powerless to explain how Obama remains politically afloat; and "even more surprising than his political super-buoyancy is the resurrection of big-government, 1930s-style economic thinking in the Democratic party long after it was taken out with the trash along with Jimmy Carter, and once more (for good measure) after Gingrich smashed Clinton in the ’94 midterms. The failure of central planning and state-managed economies is one of the big themes of the 20th century. But Obama’s handlers have yet to tell him" (Gelernter).

Why would they? They don't know it either (the tenured? Of all people!), plus he'd refuse to believe them anyway, just as is true of at least half the citizenry. And anyone with a financial interest in the status quo will be impervious as well -- the millions of state employees, bureaucrats, public school teachers, state college administrators, and other assorted dependents and rent seekers; and more generally that half of the population that is able to tax the other half for what it imagines is a lifetime of free lunches.

Even so, these people are motivated as much by creed as they are by greed. Human beings are not only epistemophilic, but cannot help "loving" the truth. Anyone is susceptible to living a lie, but almost no one willingly does so. Human beings are oriented to the good, true, and beautiful, so even when they aren't, they convince themselves that they are.

As Gelernter observes, "You might think that Obama makes a poor intellectual: he doesn’t seem to read; ideas evidently mean nothing to him. But notice that he governs on the basis of theories and not facts. And he graduated from Columbia and Harvard. Case closed" (emphasis mine).

Here again, these are not theories in the way you or I would understand the term, i.e., disinterested maps of reality, always subject to feedback and revision. Rather, the PORGIs discussed by Gelernter -- POst-Religious Global Intellectualistas (or Gnostic Internationalists) -- by the very nature of this designation, have converted their ideology to a religion rooted in faith and sentiment (which is an insult to the latter; instead, let's call them stupidity and emotion).

It's also an insult to religion more generally, because it implies that leftism is just another religion, like any other. First of all, in not recognizing itself as such, it is intrinsically confused about where it is coming from and to where it is going. For religion has to do with "ultimate reality" as such (O), not dogma per se, which can only be "O once removed," so to speak.

It is bad enough that the left doesn't understand this, but at least it has an excuse (i.e., an anti-intellectual climate of elite opinion that ordains materialism, reductionism, and scientism). There is no excuse for religious conservatives to get this wrong, for doing so is in direct violation of universal commanishad (or upanishalt) #3, which has to do with engaging in the kind of empty and vain pneumababble that makes God look stupid (see p. 235).

For when God and religion look stupid, this legitimately fuels the misgodded epistemophiliacs of the left, because even they know that truth, whatever it is, can't be stupid. The left feeds on this stupidity to build up their illusory intellectual superiority and self-righteous amoralism. But for every Voegelin, there are a thousand or more Joel Osteens who teach the same wish-drenched "prosperity gospel" as the left, minus most of the envy, hate, and scapegoating. Which is a start...

But it nevertheless reduces God to a banal horizontal cause on the same level as any other material or efficient cause. As Voegelin explains, "The modern reader, unless he is an expert in metaphysics, will have difficulty understanding" the principle that divine causation "does not have the meaning of cause which the modern reader associates with it."

For it is not the horizontal cause-and-effect of the natural sciences, but rather, the type of vertical causation that obtains in any hierarchical structure in which the lower is derived from the higher.

Religion "takes place" in this vertical space between...

I need to pause here for a moment, in order to introduce some symbols into the mix. We all know about O, which is simultaneously the "top" and "ground" of the vertical hierarchy. This form is definitional; it cannot be surpassed, but it can, of course (and must be) filled with the content of religious experience.

One might say that this vertical space is everything, for it is where existence becomes "self-luminous," irrespective of creed. The instrument of this luminosity is symbolized (¶). I think this is fair, because we can all agree that (¶) exists, even if our metaphysic cannot account for it. But whether one is religious or secular, this Light -- this illuminated space we call consciousness -- is again everything. It is why science illuminates so much, even if it can never illuminate itself on its own terms.

"Illumination" is in many ways indistinguishable from transcendence, because there is Light, but also someone who needs to witness it. These two -- witness and Light -- are of the same substance, which is to say, Truth. This is why something like, say, doctrinaire Darwinism, cannot possibly be true, since it has no rational basis whatsoever to affirm the truth of anything, let alone everything.

In short, if man is pure contingency (instead of partaking of the substance of Light and Truth), he has no access whatsoever to the necessary -- to the absolute, the universal, the eternal.

The point is that man both "spans" and "inhabits" this vertical space that runs from O to what we symbolize Ø. Critically, Ø is not to be understood as "falsehood," or as a kind of "opposite" of O. Rather, it only becomes falsehood -- even the essence of falsehood -- when conflated with, or elevated to, O.

To cite the most obvious example, the Darwinian referenced above begins (without admitting it to himself) by reducing O to Ø, and then concludes that Ø is all there is. But if this statement is true, it is obviously no longer Ø. Rather, it is coming from the mysterious vertical space -- the vast realm of potential enslackenment -- between O and Ø.

Thus one of Petey's Rules for Ridicule of the left: To deny slack is to steal it.

Sorry we didn't get too far, but I'm running late. We'll continue tomorrow.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Some Place, No Place, One Place, Every Place

As mentioned a couple of days ago, this particular collection of essays by Voegelin might be the most dense with implications of any book I've ever read. It's a little overwhelming to even know where to start. I'm tempted to jump ahead to what I just read yesterday, but that might make the task more daunting, so I'd better just proceed from the beginning, page by page. One of the purposes of doing so is to try to wrap my mind around this unruly beast.

Okay, just one quote from yesterday's lectio divina. It's from a lecture called Wisdom and Magic at the Extreme; in it Voegelin speaks of a time -- this would be 1973, so it's only worse today -- "when all of us are threatened in our humanity, if not our physical existence, by the massive social force of activist dreamers who want to liberate us from our imperfections by locking us up in the perfect prison of their phantasy" (emphasis mine).

"Even in our so-called free societies not a day passes that we are not seriously molested, in encounters with persons, or the mass media, or a supposedly philosophical and scientific literature, by somebody's Utopian imagination."

See what I meme? It reminds me of jazz, in which one can improvise for twenty or thirty minutes over just a couple of choice chords.

Why did this happen, and why is it happening still? Why are we being harassed by utopians who are driven by a strange passion to (dis)order our lives before they have even ordered their own? And why is it being done to us by the most privileged, educated, and cultured members of society? How did things -- the things of the mind and spirit -- ever become so corrupted?

The first order of business is to cross the border of isness, into the space where engagement with reality can actually occur: "We have to break jail, and restore the philosopher's freedom of reason..." One is tempted to say that one must Tune In -- to reality -- Turn On -- to O -- and Drop Out -- of unreality, or Ø.

Eu-topia means, of course, no-place, or Ø, precisely. Since we can never have it, we always want it, which is perhaps the major source of the left's energy. In other words, the left takes advantage of the intrinsic tension that forever defines the human station, between the Way Things Are and the Way We Wish They Were. In order to make progress of any kind -- personal, societal, historical -- this tension must be respected, not annihilated.

For example, this is the tension that drives a market economy, and causes an inventor or entrepreneur to create something that didn't exist before. Thus, this is the same tension that Obama devalues because he deeply resents it: you didn't build that!

To which one wants to respond: You didn't say that. Somebody else built that teleprompter.

When you give something to someone, you eliminate this tension. But that's only on the material/economic plane, where it's bad enough (unless we're talking about the legitimate entitlement-state of childhood).

The consequences are even more devastating when applied to the psychological and spiritual planes (although the three are very much related, something recognized by the Founders, what with their emphasis on the sacred rights of property, without which it is difficult if not impossible to secure any other kind of right; in the hierarchy of being, rights come from up above but they are secured from down below, backed ultimately -- when push comes to shove or ideologue comes to steal -- by legitimate violence).

To paraphrase Voegelin, oppressors such as Obama have a theory of oppression which assures a monopoly of oppression to themselves. Thus, with a straight farce he can say that no one founded General Motors but that He saved it.

Again, Utopia is no-place. It doesn't exist because it cannot exist, at least not on the macro/collective level. Certain pockets of sanity and decency can come pretty darn near to it, until the barbarians find out about it.

For example, believe it or not, the university was once a pretty good place to obtain the beginnings of an education. Tenureman (T) is actually a relatively recent phenomenon. Before the 20th century, for example, the greatest philosophers were mostly just curious and wonderfilled civilians, not credentialed idiots.

According to Voegelin, this permanent idiot class, or looniversity bin, really didn't become institutionalized until "the populist expansion of the universities, accompanied by the inevitable inrush of functional illiterates into academic positions in the 1950s and 1960s." The fringe is now the core, and vice versa, which is why discussion of reality is one of the few grounds for denial or revocation of tenure.

Of course, it is still permissible to be in contact with reality, but there is strict adherence to the policy of "don't ask, don't tell." Don't advertise this contact or you are toast.

How did Voegelin get away with it? That's a long story, but some of the details are instructive. One of the disturbing trends he noticed about the academic world was its "violently restrictive visions of existence that... surrounded me on all sides..." Therefore, "Something had to be done. I had to get out of that 'apodictic horizon' as fast as possible."

Apowhatnow?

Yes, you know -- the bovine certainty of such soul-killing ideologies as Darwinism, scientism, positivism, Marxism, Keynesianism, atheism, behaviorism, feminism, etc. All that dreary monolithic diversity to which we have become accustomed.

Horizon?

That would be mysterious "subjective horizon" to which your cosmic bus driver often alludes, i.e., GAGDAD BOB, FLOATING IN HIS CLOUD-HIDDEN BOBSERVATORY, JUST BEYOND THE INTERIOR HORIZON OF THE UNITED STATES OF MIND. This is where we live and where we write. It is where the bus is headed, the filial deustinocean that we can never quite reach.

Importantly -- and why is this controversial? -- this horizon is infinite. Therefore, to deny it is to live in NO PLACE. But there's a twist to it, because this latter is really a man-made SOME PLACE that doesn't actually exist. Rather, it is one of the many restrictive "second realities" discussed by Voegelin.

In reality, there is only ONE PLACE, one human happitat but numberless unhappy ones, more on which in a moment. Allow Voegelin to just complete his thought as to why he felt so compelled to escape the apodictic horizon of academia. For whatever reason, "I was attracted by 'larger horizons' and repelled, if not nauseated, by restrictive deformations."

Now, about that SOME PLACE that is NO PLACE and the ONE PLACE that is EVERY PLACE. I know this might sound cutely paradoxical and all, but it is truly orthoparadoxical, a rock-bottom truth beyond which there is no truther. It is the one truth that permits all the others that ceaselessly flow into this ONE PLACE.

Flow?

Yes. Recall the intrinsic tension alluded to above in paragraph seven. I'm starting to run out of time, so I'll be brief, but don't worry, we'll be returning to this foundation again and again. Voegelin speaks of

"the horizon that draws us [read: Attractor] to advance toward it but withdraws as we advance; it can give direction to the quest of truth but cannot be reached." Within this space certain "moving forces" become luminous, essentially "a human questioning and seeking in response to a mysterious drawing and moving from the divine side."

In other words -- or beyond words -- at the antipodes of this space are O and (¶), and within this space are ( ↑) and (↓).

These ladder "are experienced as the moving forces of consciousness.... Hence, the process of reality becoming luminous is further structured by the consciousness of the two moving forces, of the tension between them, and of the responsibility to keep their movements in such a balance that the image resulting from their interaction will not distort the truth of reality." (I symbolize this balance [↑↓] .)

For "one cannot know the mystery of the horizon and its beyond as if it were an object this side of the horizon." To do this is to violate Commandments one and two (which often topples the rest), which is the intrinsic heresy -- which we call ideolatry -- of the left in general and of Obama in particular.

This ideolatry always ends in tears and blood, because nightmares do come true. In other words, when falsehood enters history it takes on a deadly reality, as it destructively careens down the corridors of time (HT Vanderleun -- who has also advised all and sundry to pass along the following gem inspired by Harvard's Gift to Comedy and curse to economics:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Immortality is Fleeting, Socialism is Forever

Not much time for a new post this morning. The mother-in-law has been visiting, which gets me out of my usual rutine. It reminds me once again that pneumablogging is a delicate business; either that, or my isness is an unusually delicate business. In any event, she returns home today, so blogging should return to normal tomorrow.

Fortunately, a little Voegelin goes a very long way. Do they still make Bacardi 151? Sort of like that. I conducted a brief but memorable experiment with that particular beverage back when I was a college sophomore or less.

I just looked it up, and it says that the demon rum² is now conveniently "equipped with a flame arrester in the neck of the bottle to prevent large volumes of the flammable liquid from igniting... Nevertheless, incidents of severe injury have been alleged."

You don't say?

I didn't know -- for how is an 18 year old supposed to know this stuff? -- that it is intended to be used as a component in cocktails, not the main ingredient. I don't like to think about it -- my liver is subject to flashbacks -- but I probably had a dangerous level of blood alcohol as I sat there bobsmacked in my political science class. Maybe the only time I was ever "beyond drunk." Friends of the time may disagree.

As far as I can recall -- which admittedly isn't much -- it was qualitatively, not just quantitatively, different. Perhaps like absinthe. Something tells me ge would know.

The moral of the story? Don't drink anything that requires a flame arrester: rocket fuel, nuclear waste, 75.5% alcohol, etc.

Back to Voegelin's discussion of immortality, which we began two days ago. First of all, what is immortality? For it seems that no human group is unfamiliar with the concept. Indeed, one definition of humanness could be "awareness of mortality," and therefore immortality. But which comes first? I'm pretty sure they co-arise, but we'll look further into this breaking story as we proceed.

Whatever else it is, "immortality" is a word, a symbol, a signifier, a container (the latter of which we symbolize [♀]). Yes, but of what? In other words, what does it mean?

True, you could look it up in the dictionary, just as you could look up, say, "drunk on Bacardi 151," but that would hardly convey the actual experience. Trust me.

Again, the type of symbols we're talking about are intended "to convey a truth experienced." They "are not concepts referring to objects existing in time and space but carriers of a truth about nonexistent reality." As such, the symbols are meant to facilitate "a consciousness of participation in nonexistent reality."

Therefore, "when the experience engendering the symbols ceases to be a presence located in the man who has it, the reality from which the symbols derive their meaning has disappeared." The symbol remains, of course -- i-m-m-o-r-t-a-l-i-t-y -- but people only pretend to know what it refers to. In technical terms the container (♀) remains, but the user simply fills it with his own idiosyncratic content (♂).

If you understand this problem alone, you will have understood one of the most ubiquitous problems in all of philosophy, metaphysics, and theology. What is "liberty," for example? Same container, radically different content for a liberal conservative vs. an illiberal leftist.

Likewise, what can it mean when an atheist "disbelieves" in God (O)? It means precisely nothing unless we're talking about the same experience. It either means that O cannot be experienced, or that "that wasn't O you experienced, just... your brain, or something." But if he is intellectually honest, shouldn't the atheist say the same of himself? "This is not atheism I'm experiencing, merely my own nervous system."

More generally, when I read theology or scripture, I am not looking for "information." Rather, what I am after is "a meditative reconstitution of the engendering reality" that brought the symbols about. When they fail to provoke this -- when the symbols cease to be translucent to reality -- we are stranded in the stoned rubbish of teenage wasteland, when

you know only / A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, / And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, / And the dry stone no sound of water.

Yeah, I know, TS: tough shit. Nothing you can do about it.

Not true: "For a man does not cease to be man, even when he runs amok in worlds of his own making, and a madness of the spirit is never quite undisturbed by a knowledge of its madness, however skillfully suppressed."

In short, man = man, wherever and in whatever condition you find him. And "the madness we call modernity is accompanied throughout by thinkers who, correctly diagnosing its cause, set about to remedy the evil by various attempts at recapturing reality."

In other words, a constant theme of modernity is the experience of alienation. The alienation is real enough -- for example, just read a couple of Hallucinations From My Marxist Father(s) -- it's just that socialism is not the cure. Are citizens less alienated today than 50 years and 15 trillion dollars ago? Or even three years and 5 trillion dollars ago?

I don't think so. Rather, leftists seem as alienated and angry as ever. Which is to say, their alienation is always already cranked up to 11.

To be continued....

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

John Roberts: Destroyer of Worlds, Vandal of History

It is fair to say that Voegelin saw his life's mission as an investigation into the truth of man, society, and history. His conclusion is that there is such a truth, but that it is more a matter of form than content per se. (All quotes are from Volume 12 of the collected works.)

This is because ultimate truth has the character of an event, not a fact. And an event is obviously impossible in the absence of experience, or, more to the point, human experience (no other animal has access to universal truths). To put it another way, no fact can -- or ever will -- account for its experience, or any experience, for that matter.

Thus, any philosophy that reduces experience to fact is a total non-starter. No need to even begin going down that road, for it is a spiritual and intellectual nul-de-slack, i.e., ø. Such a path is like a river that never reaches the sea. Or a prostate so enlarged that urination is impossible. I recently had a patient to whom this happened one morning. To say that he was in no condition to contemplate timeless truth is putting it mildly.

This is one of the primary reasons we can make neither head- nor heartway with our ideological opponents -- why our arguments cannot gain traction.

For it is not argument against argument; rather, "behind the appearance of rational debate there lurks the difference of two modes of existence, of existence in truth and existence in untruth. The universe of rational discourse collapses, we may say, when the common ground of existence in reality has disappeared" (emphasis mine).

Abstract? No, not in the least. To the contrary, this observation couldn't be more timely. President Obama -- and we'll get much more deeply into the reasons why as we proceed -- is a spokesperson for existence in untruth adapted to what Voegelin calls "second reality" (which is true of any ideological activist; Obama is just the same old serpent in a new skin).

Therefore, one can see that his campaign revolves around an endless barrage of untruths to which Romney is going to have to respond, on pain of the untruth being conceded as true. Unlike you or I, Romney cannot simply ignore unreality -- or at least not let it get under our skin -- and live in conformity to truth.

The problem here is that even responding to the untruth grants it a kind of existential "heft" to which it isn't entitled. After all, one could easily spend the rest of one's life shooting down one untruth after another, but it wouldn't make a dent in the total supply.

Unscrupulous lawyer that he is, the prince of this world will just make more of the verbal fertilizer that accrues from talking out of his ass. Obama obviously needs to make this campaign about something other than truth. Once truth is out of the way, it can become a contest based upon other non-rational factors, say, disgust, or rage, or envy, or violence, or bigotry, or raw hatred (or all of the Below).

Think, for example, of how difficult it would be today to produce a timeless political document such as the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution that enshrines its universal principles. 225 years down the line, one would think it would be easier to do this, not harder.

But this only reminds us that progress is hardly a linear phenomenon. There are always regressive liars such as John Roberts, living in second realities and prepared to eliminate in a selfish moment what required thousands of years for wise and courageous human beings to establish on this troubled earth.

Roberts has quite literally committed a crime against mankind and against history. One cannot put it more strongly than that. If it is true that America remains the world's last best hope, then one must conclude that Roberts has done his part to extinguish this hope. Nice work, assoul.

Would it be possible to correct Roberts with recourse to truth? (Let's not even mention the other four, who have been exiled from reality so long that they can no longer recognize it.) Voegelin notes that debate with ideologues remains "possible in the areas of the natural sciences and logic," where there is an external criterion of truth.

But any area that touches on the person has been so contaminated by the untruths of the left, that again, one could spend the rest of one's life simply countering them without making any progress toward truth.

There was a time when such a verticalesthenic exercise wasn't fruitless, because human beings hadn't yet become so warped as to extinguish their innate -- which is to say, God-given -- intellectual honesty, or love of Truth. Aquinas, for example, took it as axiomatic that the establishment of truth necessarily requires all due consideration being given to the varieties of error.

Not only is it incumbent upon the philosopher to meditate upon and communicate truth to others, but "to refute the opposing falsehood." In the words of Voegelin, one part of "the quest for truth is the perpetual task of disengaging it from error, of refining its expression in contest with the inexhaustible ingenuity of error."

For the person whose mind and spirit (nous and pneuma) are intact, once is enough. But for the pneumapathological and philocidal soul that has become perverse with error and overrun with mind parasites, a million times will be insufficient.

Falsehood does have certain legitimate rights, just as do criminals. But just as the left grants special rights to criminals, so too does it place lies on a kind of elevated and untouchable plane.

Again you may ask: abstract? NO!

For what is multiculturalism but the privileging and institutionalization of falsehood? Moral relativism? The "living Constitution"? Critical race theory? Class warfare? Deconstruction? Feminist theory? Racial quotas? Socialism? MSNBC?

You will have noticed that such luminaries as Aristotle, Plato, and Aquinas did not have to deal with this kind of systematic untruth, because it hadn't occurred to any thinking person to invent it.

Rather, it had to undergo research and development in the laboratory of modernity, and then be mass-marketed in the intellectual bazar of post-modernity. When the left argues that everyone needs (and is entitled to) college, what they really mean is that no one should escape the secular brainwash.

To say that there is no truth uniquely vouchsafed to man is to say that the world is an "infinite series," and to say this is to destroy "the very nature of the Good."

In other words, "The limit to the chain of [causation] is the condition of rationality in action." An infinite regress is ultimate absurdity.

To bring this back to the bobastic title of this post, with no limit set by our sacred Constitution, there is no limit to political and legal irrationality, to the acquisition and exercise of arbitrary power, and to willful malefactors who are in a state of revolt against reality, and who would force us all to conform to their warped and anti-human ideological (second) reality.

Other than that, I have no problem with these truly supreme court jesters.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Obama, First President of the USA (Unthinking Swarm of the Alienated)

This book of essays by Eric Voegelin is provoking some of the most intense reading I've ever done.

It's not that it's especially difficult per se (although he's not an easy read), but rather, that it's too rich, too full of implications to digest in more than small portions. It's as if one must pause after every paragraph in order to note the implications. One of the purposes of posting about these experiences is to explicate, metabolize, and assimilate the unThought implications -- or chew, swallow, and digest.

Note the word "experiences." Right away this should alert one to the fact that this involves a very different kind of reading, because a book that provokes experiential knowledge is quite different from one that conveys knowledge only, as do most works of nonfiction. In our symbolism, it is the difference between (k) and (n).

But one can't just leave it there, because the metabolism of (n) calls into play a different part of the being. This we call (¶). It is fair to say that Voegelin's whole project -- all 34 volumes -- revolves around the development of (¶). In fact, as we shall see, a true philosopher -- a lover of wisdom -- is none other than (¶). His polar opposite in the phase space of being would be (T), or tenureman.

Indeed, Voegelin has a lot to say about (T), none of it flattering but all of it memorable. It alone provides some fine insultainment.

For example, he wrote in 1973 of how philosophy -- which inquires into the nature of man in perpetual tension with the divine ground -- has been displaced by a banal "climate of opinion," and of how the changed climate of our universities "is hostile to the life of reason." However, "not every man is agreeable to having his nature formed by the 'climate,' or, as it is sometimes called, the 'age.'"

Recall that what we call (•) -- the empirical ego, more or less -- is precisely the part of us that is "shaped by the environment." Conversely -- or complementarily -- (¶) is shaped by encounters with the ground of being. The former is local, the latter nonlocal (and therefore timeless).

Thus, it is not so much that we eliminate (•), which we couldn't do anyway so long as we are in the world (the latter of which includes the material body). But nor should we call upon (•) to explore the nature of being, because to do so is to ask it to do something it was never designed to accomplish -- like asking the feet to grasp objects or the hands to chew food.

Thus, a modern university education "is the art of adjusting people so solidly to the climate of opinion prevalent at the time that they feel no 'desire to know." It is "the art of preventing people from acquiring the knowledge that would enable them to articulate the questions of existence." Predictably, this form of miseducation pressures "young people into a state of alienation that will result in either quiet despair or aggressive militancy."

If you think about it for a couple of seconds, I believe you will agree that Obama is our first president to have been exposed to nothing other than this soul-deadening climate of elite opinion, which is why he has no desire to know, no ability to formulate questions outside this peculiar climate, and a strident and militant agenda that fundamentally appeals to the "alienated," of which he is the leader.

Truly, Obama is president of the USA: Unthinking Swarm of the Alienated. The OWS movement is what an unthinking swarm of the auto-alienated looks like. And smells like.

The alienation is real, they're just confused about the source. After all, the material ego (•) cannot perceive or understand any reality that isn't material, hence the blind transformation of alienation into a material construct. Thus, they wish to occupy "Wall Street," not reality. This is a quintessential example of the superimposition of a second reality over the first -- of ø over O.

This is why the reactionary left cannot help but reduce all existential questions to (bad and dysfunctional) economics. But "even the spiritually and intellectually underpriviliged who live by the bread of opinion alone" know that something is wrong.

However, they are powerless to name it: "the educational institutions have cut them off from the life of reason so effectively that they cannot articulate the causes of their legitimate unrest." This closed and static pattern aggravates their pneumapathology, the only cure for which is an open psyche (nous or pneuma) in contact with the ground of being, O.

There is too much here for me to digest or even organize at this point, so I think I'll just review some of the essays, beginning with one called Immortality: Experience and Symbol. In it Voegelin discusses one of his key principles of religion, which is that the latter begins in religious experience that is codified via symbolism.

Thus, "the symbols in question intend to convey a truth experienced," or (n). Unlike conventional symbols -- i.e., (k) -- they "are not concepts referring to objects existing in time and space but carriers of a truth about nonexistent reality." As such, the symbols are meant to facilitate "a consciousness of participation in nonexistent reality."

And when he says "nonexistent," he doesn't of course mean "unreal," but rather, immaterial and transcendent. For example, the statement "all men are created equal" is not derived from any empirical observation, but is nonetheless real and true for all time. And it is true even if no one has discovered it, or if people have forgotten it.

One of Voegelin's great concerns is what happens when the reality from which the symbols derive their meaning has "disappeared." To be perfectly accurate, this reality -- O -- obviously cannot disappear.

But the symbols can lose their metaphysical translucency, especially when they are overly reified in such a way that they exclude experience of the engendering reality that brought them about. Then religious symbolism becomes a kind of empty shell, or shadow of itself.

But this is not the last indignity suffered by Truth.

For when "misunderstood as propositions referring to things in the manner of propositions concerning objects of sense perception" (k), this provokes "the reaction of skepticism" which runs the gamut from hysterical atheist revivalism to "vulgarian agnosticism" to "the smart idiot questions of 'How do you know?' and 'How can you prove it?' that every college teacher knows from his classroom" and every pneumablogger knows from his trolls.

To be continued for, oh, about six months....

Friday, July 13, 2012

Why Mommy is a Democrat... and a Passive-Aggressive Ex-Wife from Hell

The previously scheduled post has been pre-empted by the following, since it is fresh in our mind. We'll get back to it next week.

What is it about liberals -- or about liberalism -- that makes it impossible to communicate with them? To be fair, they would insist that the problem is quite simple: that they possess the truth, and that their political adversaries simply refuse to accept it.

This failure on our part troubles liberals, whose painfully acute compassion compels them to find some way to shove the truth down our ungrateful pieholes. In fact, Obama even confessed to Charlie Rose that the biggest mistake of his presidency thus far has been the failure to "tell a story" to the American public.

In other words, he and his policies have not failed. Rather, it turns out that he has gotten the policies right -- that was the easy part -- but that "the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times."

When he ran for office, people had the opposite concerns about Obama: this guy is obviously a polished BS artist with a soothing, tobacco-burnished baritone, but is he a half-educated ignoramus who substitutes ideology for thought, every time?

Turns out we had it backwards. For he has been satisfactorily "juggling and managing a lot of stuff" alright -- economic stuff, racial grievance stuff, government expansion stuff, deficit stuff, unemployment stuff, medical stuff, Middle East stuff, homosexual stuff, you name it.

Obama concedes that there is, however, one "legitimate criticism" and it is this: sure, people care about all the aforementioned stuff, "but where's the story that tells us where he's going?," i.e., where Obama is taking us?

Well?

Unfortunately, he doesn't explain. Actually, he's already explained that he can't explain, but that he needs to tell us a story in lieu of an explanation. I suppose we'll all be subjected to this likely story over the subsequent three months.

This is just one more example of the inability of liberals to be self-critical. Again, in their cramped little minds, the thinking must go something like this: "There is a straightforward liberal solution to every problem. Therefore, it is a waste of time and energy to actually condescend to address objections to the liberal program. To the extent that people fail to understand it, then there is something defective in them. But I'm so darn compassionate I'll try to do an end run around their defective cognition by expressing the truth via myth."

In short, there's no need to rethink his ideas. He just needs to express them more obscurely.

Taranto has an insultaining discussion of this dynamic, based upon an excellent piece by Zombie at PJ Media, which I'm thinking maybe it was a mistake for me to resign from, since I actually got more readers back then. Oh well. Charles Johnson also quit, and how could he be wrong about anything?

It turns out that this refusal on the part of liberals to acknowledge reality is not a bug, but a feature. In the past we have devoted at least one post to the Berkeley professor George Lakoff, whose ideas about "framing" have come to dominate leftist discourse, and go a long way toward explaining why liberals are so annoying. I mean, imagine if your spouse tried to pull such a condescending attitude on you. You'd want to throttle him or her.

Technically I suppose you could say that I'm professionally qualified to be a "marriage counselor" -- back off, man! -- but this is the last strategy I would recommend to the husband who is having difficulty getting through to the wife, or vice versa. Here's how it works:

"Don't repeat conservative language or ideas, even when arguing against them."

As Zombie explains, "This is why conservatives and liberals can't seem to have the simplest conversation: liberals intentionally refuse to address or even acknowledge what conservatives say. Since (as Lakoff notes) conservatives invariably frame their own statements within their own conservative 'moral frames,' every time a conservative speaks, his liberal opponent will seemingly ignore what was said and instead come back with a reply literally out of left field.

"Thus, he is the progenitor of and primary advocate for the main reason why liberalism fails to win the public debate: Because it never directly confronts, disproves or negates conservative notions--it simply ignores them...."

Taranto points out that "This is an important insight, not only into the way the left debates and otherwise communicates, but into the way the left thinks -- or fails to think. The book's subtitle, after all, promises an instruction in 'Thinking and Talking Democratic.' Lakoff and Wehling command their readers not only to act as if opposing arguments are without merit, but to close their minds to those arguments. What comes across to conservatives as a maddening arrogance is actually willed ignorance."

Which is of course incorrect. It is arrogance and willed ignorance.

In the past, I have on several occasions elaborated on the idea that left and right in many ways reflect the male and female -- or Mother and Father -- archetypes. Thus, in my view, a properly functioning state wouldn't come from left or right field, but from center-right field.

Why center-right, and not just center?

First of all, let's break down the concerns and responsibilities of the respective fields. The Father dimension involves first and foremost self-defense, which goes to domestic security, justified violence, autonomy and sovereignty, law, and punishment, plus standards, independence, achievement, etc.

Conversely -- or complementarily -- the Mother realm has to do with health, compassion, community, charity, nurturing, mercy, etc. As one can see, it is intrinsically more emotional, which is precisely why liberal arguments are so rooted in emotion and not thought. For a liberal it is sufficient to show some poor uninsured kid to tear down the greatest medical system in the world; or, it is sufficient to show a grieving mother to condemn a war. Each of these may be sad, but they are just a cheap substitute for hard thought.

And in any event, we can no longer afford the outrageous alimony and adult-child support payments, so it's a moot point. Mommy is going to have to cut up the credit cards and begin economizing. No more of your cockamamie sob stories. I see that look on your face. I know you want another "stimulus." But this time it's real: We. Are. Tapped. Out. And I'm not pissing away another cent of our children's inheritance just to keep you partying with your government union boy-toys. Some compassion you have!

The reason why a country should be center-right is that, as Dennis Prager has explained, masculine values tend to be more "macro" in nature, while feminine values tend to be more "micro" (and of course, this hardly means that a woman cannot lead in the macro realm, as exemplified by, say, Margaret Thatcher). Therefore, just as it is inappropriate for a father to treat his family as if he is the dictatorial general and his wife and children mere privates, it is inappropriate to treat the state as if it is a bountiful and inexhaustible breast and the citizens as dependent sucklings.

Our constitution essentially mandates a "center-right" country, in that the main responsibilities of the executive are 1) to defend the nation, and 2) uphold the constitution (and law more generally). And as it so happens, America remains a center-right nation, despite Obama's best efforts to transform it to a hard-left authoritarian social democracy ruled by an ex-wife from hell.

I'll leave you with some choice excerpts from the classic book, Why Mommy is a Democrat, which I posted back in March 2006:

--Ask not what your country can do for you. Instead, organize a demonstration and demand it.

--It's not how you play the game, so long as no one wins or loses and gets their feelings hurt.

--A fool and someone else's money can solve any societal problem.

--If life gives you lemons, file a class action suit against Sunkist.

--Always remember you're above average, just like everyone else.

--A person is known by the company he boycotts.

--When the going gets tough, the tough start leaking.

--Beggars can't be choosers. Rather, they're now called "homeless."

--Boys will be boys until government provides subsidized ritalin for every one of them.

--Regardless of your background, any American who really works hard at it can still be a victim.

******

Classic. Via Ace:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Grow with the Flow vs. Upplication of the Will

Here is another vertical murmurandom from four years back and down the road, but it feels new to me, especially now that I have substantially edited and updated it. The editing ended up taking at least an hour, which is how long it takes to drive a new post into the ground anyway.

Reader Kahn the Road recently attended a ten day Buddhist meditation retreat, during which time he lived as a shut-yer-trappist monk and attempted to pull himself up by his own buddhastraps via "silence, dietary restrictions, no reading, writing, outside communications, etc."

Although he had a favorable impression, he was left with ambivalence about "the complete detachment required and the lack of room for a deeper spiritual understanding beyond reduction of the worldly experience to neutral throbs and tingles in the body." As such, "it didn't take long for me to realize that a serious Buddhist practice wasn't for me, although it is comforting to know that such a path is there."

"My question remains, however, how does one access the ever fine line between faith and complacency?"

First of all, I'm not sure if I'm qualified to dodge this question head on or just dance around it in a more oblique manner. In other words, even BS artistry has its limits.

What I can do -- or what anyone can do -- is treat the matter as a verticalisthenic exercise and draw upon the usual nonlocal theodidactic energies to guide us either toward the answer, or toward the conclusion that the question is too good to deserve a sudden death-by-answer.

Or, in plain lingo, we'll just plant the question in the old extra-conscious mind, then go about writing this post in the usual leisurely way in the hope -- or faith -- that any answers are somehow wefted into our warped perspective.

Because I've found that that is how life generally works, at least when it works. The thing is, you can pretend do everything in a "conscious" way, just as you can pretend that the world is analogous to a non-linear machine with no hidden variables.

But in either case you're still going to be subject to primordial powers (not to mention principalities) that are beyond the individual. In other words, the real world doesn't go away just because our soul has been captured, domesticated, and contained by some ideolatry, whether Darwinism, Marxism, scientism, whatever.

Unfortunately, this can sound like deepaking the chopra, but it really comes down to the upplication of the will, only with one's totality -- i.e., "all thy mind, heart, and strength," instead of just with one's surface ego.

To a certain eggstent it's a hatch 22, since this wingless flight involves "willing with one's totality," when the ability to do so would, in a sense, represent the final end of the spiritual ascent -- which is to say, to be one, or whole, or fully integrated, with no subterranean crosscurrents and mind parasites with agendas of their own: if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

Easy for I AM to say!

Again, people tend to denigrate the ego, even though -- back off man, I'm a psychologist! -- having a coherent and stable ego represents a significant developmental achievement for most people. This is why in the Wholly Bobble we noted that your typical folker is (•••), not (•). To live as (•••) means that one's I is not single, and that one will necessarily be at cross-purposes with oneself and thereby dissipate one's power. Conversely, one's share of the Power is magnified as one approaches the One (even while one becomes less identified with it, i.e., "thy will, not mine").

Furthermore, there is no way to "cure" this fragmented existential condition "from the bottom up," being that the "bottom" is fragmentation as such, while the "top" is where the Oneness abides.

Rather, real and enduring organization is ordered from the top down. To attain this would be to live in conformity with the divine will, or to see "thy will be done on earth (i.e., at the bottom) as it is in heaven (at the top)."

All spiritual paths involve 1) doctrine, and 2) method, AKA "reality and how to know it" (or, to be perfectly accurate, how to be it, or to combine Truth and Being -- which can only be separated in the human mind anyway, and nowhere else).

In Raccoon parlance, we say that it comes down to the combination of metaphysical or noetic know-how and spiritual or pneumatic be-who, but both are necessary to avoid error on the one hand, and hypocrisy or mere barren intellectualism on the other. The point is, we need to activate the Truth in order to make it efficacious in our lives, or to "set us free." Free from what? From lies, for starters.

Back when I was in graduate school in the 1980s, one of the first things I gnosissed about psychology was that, unlike, say, biology or physics, there is no organizing paradigm to make sense of it all. And to say that there is no organizing paradigm amounts to the same thing as saying that the science is in a primitive state. It would be as if physicists had no basic agreements, and just came up with hundreds of ad hoc theories to explain the appearances of things.

Now, tenured superstition notwithstanding, science is intrinsically spiritual, being that it too involves the reduction of multiplicity to unity.

Problems arise when scientists do this "within" their own narrow discipline, but not across disciplines (like a vertical plumline that unites them all), which is why, for example, there is no way for science to unify matter and life, or life and mind, or mind and spirit, even though we unproblematically do it every day by virtue of being alive.

This is where the Raccoon project comes in, as we can mischievously scamper across disciplines under cover of darkness (our "gnocturnal O-mission"), unlike the tenured, who work only by day, and who have no nightvision giggles with which to get the pundamentals right.

So the first thing I noticed about psychology was that it was clearly in a "pre-paradigmatic" state, with no one agreeing upon the fundamentals, let alone the details.

One of the reasons leftists have been able to come in and take over the field -- or why the patients have taken over the asylum -- is because the absence of a proper Popperdigm is an invitation to deconstruction, since there is no stable "construction" to begin with. The less coherent the paradigm, the more leftists are able to take over the discipline with "feelings" instead of proper thought. Hence their successful transformation of the humanities into the subhumanities.

Please note that when one is in the grip of a Feeling, that is indeed a kind of oneness, at least while the feeling lasts. For example, how long did the Obama-feeling last? I can't say, because I never had it.

Anyway, Bion noticed the same problem back in the 1950s. Even in psychoanalysis -- which is a subspecialty of a specialty -- there were dozens of sub-subspecialties, i.e., various competing theories not only trying to account for the same phenomena, but creating phenomena of their own, which is what a theoretical paradigm -- good or bad -- does.

In other words, to a large extent, percept follows concept; or to put it in the colloquial, "you see what you believe." Combine this with "never trust a fact without a good theory to support it," and you have a situation in which people essentially live in their own private Idaho.

Long story short, that's why Bion felt it necessary to develop an abstract system of symbols, or "empty categories," to apply to the subjective mindscape and to bring unity to an otherwise hopelessly fragmented field. Being that no one else was apparently going to do it, I merely adopted the same approach to the spiritual dimension. After all, we have Christians, Jews, Buddhists, etc., all claiming to have adequate maps of the spiritual dimension, plus efficacious means with which to get there. They can't all be right... unless...

So you see, the problem again comes down to the relationship between language and spirit. However, unlike cutandry euclidian space, the space of the mind is "hyperdimensional," meaning that it has more than four dimensions. This applies both to psychological space and to the spiritual space of which it is a declension, or a lower dimensional projection.

This is a key idea, being that a realm of lesser dimensions cannot produce one of greater ontological dimensions, which is why it has always been understood by traditional metaphysics that the realm of matter is the final precipitate, or "crystallization," of the involution of spirit (just as the lower animals are a "projection," or descent, of the Cosmic Man, which is the only principle that makes sense of an otherwise blind evolutionism).

It is also why the "many" is located in the more material dimensions, whereas unity specifically abides at the top; the more we move up the evolutionary chain, the greater the unity. Man is the vertical axis that spans the One and the many, and he can obviously go in either direction, depending upon a variety of factors.

A spiritual practice is nothing less than the recovery -- one might say resurrection -- of unity -- which is to say, being + truth, in all their manifestations. The language of revelation turns out to be a form of symbolism that furnishes keys to knowledge of suprasensible realities, keys which are of the same "substance" as the eternal realm they describe. That's why they make for such nourishing and attractive meals.

Now, back to Kahn's question, which, as you might remember, I've purposely forgotten, or "un-Remembered," so as to allow nonlocal dental factors to chew on it: ""My question remains, however, how does one access the ever fine line between faith and complacency?"

Again, to become "whole" is to be organized "from the top down," or from the inside out. This is what we call O-->(n). The more one becomes whole, the more powers one has at one's disposal, for wholeness counters the dissipation and fragmentation of profane living. A Whole Person is always a powerful person, both as a cause and an effect. A Whole Person is also "charismatic," in that his words and actions will have an existential "heft," since they are not alienated from the fullness of Being.

So I suppose the question is, how does one achieve this wholeness without already having it? Again, I think it comes down to making a commitment on every level of one's being to making it so. I suppose, to a certain extent, I discuss this toward the end of my book, with the "Ten Commanishads and Upanishalts for Extreme Seekers."

I see there's even a helpful little summary on page 244: "In short..., the spiritual life involves making the transition from mindlessly willing for that which we uncritically yearn, to consciously yearning for that which we actually want (that is, enlightenment and liberation). In making this transition, it may appear as if our conventionally understood 'horizontal' freedom is diminishing, which is true. However, the point is to exchange it for a more expansive 'vertical' freedom that is relatively unconstrained by material circumstance, so that the old freedom is eventually regarded as a comparative enslavement."

Then what happens? Page 247: "Thus, in our properly oriented right-side-up universe, its unity and coherence are experienced from the top-down, in light of our source and destiny in the non-local singularity at the end of the cosmic journey." Blah blah blah, yada yada yada, I suppose you could say that the Buddhist paradoxically "cleaves through detachment" to the empty plenum, while the Raccoon has an unapologetic passion for wholeness and therefore eternal Being which, from downbelow, can look like a void, for the same reason that an abundance of light can render one blind.

Cosmic weather permitting, I'd like to discuss all of the above in the context of a book I recently read, Ages of the Spiritual Life, tomorrow or maybe Friday.