Monday, October 29, 2012

Androgynes, Neuters, and Castrati, Oh My!

It is a commonplace to point out that we live in an age of feminized men and masculinized women. The question is, is this a good thing?

To a large extent this was the very goal of feminism -- to erase (or better, to ignore) the differences between the sexes (which are now called "genders" in order to emphasize the supposedly cultural basis of these superficial differences).

One thing you will have noticed about leftism in general and feminism in particular is that you are not permitted to question their assumptions. Doing so makes you a racist or homophobe or something. They get all hysterical on you, like that Harvard professor who almost fainted when Larry Summers wondered out loud if there might be some innate differences in aptitude between men and women with regard to science and engineering.

For the left, that question is closed -- not by the evidence, of course, but by fiat. It is a principle; or, more to the point, an article of faith. As such, questioning this article of faith evokes the same kind of emotional reaction as do insults to Muhammed in the Islamic world.

The result is that we can't really talk about the principle, nor can we evaluate it, without making the left uncomfortable. For example, Obama represents our first truly androgynous, metrosexual, and post-gendered president. He is not identifiably male or female, but an indiscriminate blend of both. How's that working out?

How did we get to such an appallingly misogynistic place?

First, an observation by Mouravieff. It goes without saying that there is no reason why a woman shouldn't pursue a genuine interest in science, "on condition, however, that even if dazzled by science she does not lose her feminine emotionality.... She must be aware of acquiring a masculine mentality and identifying with this."

Now, if you convey this banality to a normal woman, she will respond with a quiet nod of the head, or maybe just a "no shit, Dr. Phil." But if you say it to a feminist, she will respond with a violent rotation of the head while spitting out expletives, like Linda Blair.

Mouravieff continues undaunted, because what's the worse they can do, deny you tenure?:

"A male mind in a woman's body excludes the possibility of esoteric development. This type of woman is unfortunately widespread in our days, as is that of the effeminate man, representing what the Tradition calls the neutral sex," or what Vanderleun calls the new castrati.

For such con-fused individuals, writes Mouravieff, "The Kingdom of God is closed for them."

Wo, wo, wo. Hold on just a minute. That's a pretty radical statement. Are you suggesting that feminists are spiritually condemned or something?

Yes, but only in a spiritual fantasy world that they reject anyway. It's like those atheists who get offended when some fundamentalist tells them they're going to hell. So what? If some nut believes in unicorns, I don't fret over the idea that I'll never get to ride one.

Likewise, feminists shouldn't be troubled by the fact that they are barred from higher states of consciousness that they don't believe in anyway. For feminists, the highest state of being is that of the profane man with lots of worldly power -- a crass Bill Clinton or vulgar Barack Obama.

Since 1789 we have been living in the "age of revolution." Prior to this age there were, of course, changes in power, but not fundamental changes with regard to the order of the world, or Nature of Things.

Even -- or especially -- the American Revolution was not of this nature. It was not for the purpose of overturning the order of the world and remaking man, but rather, simply fostering the conditions that would allow man to be what he is. Thus, it did not reject tradition, but recognized that tradition nurtures man's true interior order.

Not so the French revolution, and virtually every revolution since. Mouravieff writes that "while life on the material plane is moving at an accelerated pace due to the political, social, and industrial Revolution which has occurred since 1789, man has made no marked progress on the moral plane." No kidding. What's your point?

Well, for starters, what is required today -- and every day, really -- is an interior revolution. "Revolution" means to "turn around," which is precisely what repentance means, i.e., "metanoia" (the Greek term used in the Septuagint).

It seems to me -- I was just a kid, of course -- but still, it seems to me that there were many seeds of this kind of liberating interior revolution in the 1960s, but that the whole thing was eventually hijacked by the left in general and by mind parasites in particular.

Nevertheless, it is a historical curiosity that movements of spiritual liberation evolved into an oppressive statism, which is why a wholesale pneumababbling huckster such as Deepak Chopra should be one of Obama's most obnoxiously unredeemed supporters.

Speaking of vulgarity, Mouravieff makes a subtle point that "Periods where the ennobling role of the woman in the life of human society has faded are marked by a triviality of morals and manners, expressed by a taste for realism [I would say "naturalism"] carried to its utmost limits." At first blush this seems paradoxical, for so much of our pornographic society seems to be geared toward developmentally arrested teenage boys.

But again, women are the "leading edge" on this particular plane of phenomena (think of Eve in relation to Adam). Woman have to first reject and even forget about the feminine, which then evokes a certain type of masculinity to go along with it. As mentioned in the last post, it is subhuman, in the sense that it not only doesn't aspire to humanness, but rejects the whole idea that such a station even exists.

And if you have no target, you're sure to hit it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Finding Your Polar Bearings in Swampland

For the sake of continuity, let's continue with Mouravieff's discussion of what he calls "polar beings" (male and female), and how the interplay of their energies fosters spiritual transformation -- or, a kind of purification and ascent.

To back up for a moment, the spiritual life always consists, in some form or fashion, of purification (or purgation), illumination, and union. None of these can actually be radically separated from the others, and the process is always ongoing.

One of the purposes of marriage is to purge oneself of mind parasites (think of them as "impurities") that drag one down and impede growth. Marriage provides an opportunity to work through and eventually transcend these patterns. In the colorful phrase of Raccoon emeritus Dilys, marriage helps us "drain the swamp" -- which is equally true of any sacrament.

A sacrament may be thought of as a kind of disinfecting light that is noxious to the anaerobic beings of interior swampland. This is probably where the legends of photophobic vampires come from. Lies can only flourish in the dark, and in a very real sense, are the Dark.

"The deepest reason why lying to oneself is forbidden," writes Mouravieff, is that "he who lies to himself will also lie to his alter ego."

And "that will be the end of the miracle. The wonderful side of the meeting will disappear behind a curtain of trivial lies, which will rapidly take the aspect of an impassible wall." (Sounds like he knew my parents.)

Once the Wall is in place, "relations with the polar being will no longer be distinguished from those that a man can have with other women: wives, mistresses and adventures. Once more, the experience will be spoiled."

I often wonder what saved me from ruin -- from diving into the swamp and staying there. I won't pretend to know, but I think part of it may have had to do with a kind of intense romantic longing for my "polar being." From the age of nine or so, I can remember each school year, having an intense "spiritual crush" on a different girl.

But even after I entered my teens, these crushes were not sexual per se. Rather, they consisted of a painfully intense longing for an idealized image of femininity -- almost like an angelic being. This image is completely un-cynical, un-ironic, and un-jaded. It is innocent, chaste, virginal, and radiant with a kind of pure light.

For example, I can still remember thinking about one particular girl in the fifth grade. We're sitting on a picnic blanket or something in a wooded area, and I'm looking at her, and her blonde hair is literally aglow with a numinous energy -- I mean, like a Disney movie, when the prince gazes into the princess's eyes and falls in love.

I have a suspicion that more men are like this than we may realize. Or at least used to be. I can't speak for today's youth culture, which certainly appears bereft of such higher sentiments.

The only theorist I know of who has spoken directly to this developmental reality is Joseph Chilton Pearce, in his Evolution's End. There he writes that "at the age of eleven, an idealistic image of life grows in intensity throughout the middle teens." Then, "somewhere around age fourteen or fifteen a great expectation arises that 'something tremendous is supposed to happen.'"

Just what this tremendous IT is supposed to be is something of a mystery. He references the writer George Leonard, "who spoke of an anguished longing so acute he knew it could never be assuaged." That's what I'm talkin' about!

Pearce goes on to say that "it may be difficult to accept that adolescents are idealistic: often they seem crass and cynical, following the obvious anti-heroes." If you knew me at the time, this is probably how I would have appeared, but it was just a facade to protect the vulnerability underneath.

This pure energy probably also gets deflected into politics, hence the naive and romantic liberalism of the young and stupid, or Obama's base. (One more reason why his cynical and deeply unfunny new ad that conflates sex and voting is so misguided.)

When an archetype is awakened within us, we first look for a model in the external world. In this case, it is the anima, or female archetype, that is awakened. I know the archetype is real, because I can remember dreams in which she appeared, and again, the longing for her was painful beyond words.

An archetype is supposed to function as a psychic attractor that guides development. If there is no external model to "meet with" and correspond to the archetype, it can whither on the vine. It becomes "just a fantasy," instead of an important clue to the innate directionality of life, of spiritual maturation.

Back to Mouravieff for a moment, before I run out of time. He agrees that "the highest expression of divine Beauty on Earth is the human body, especially that of woman, for nothing can equal the harmony of perfect feminine forms."

And "The divine purity of masculine and feminine forms really depicts adamic humanity before the Fall. It presents us with the original types and subtypes of sinless men and women, without vices and without karmic burden."

That sounds vaguely familiar. I do remember something about a garden...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rising and Falling on the Axis of Eve

Eroticism, sensuality, and love, when they do not converge in the same person, are nothing more, in isolation, than a disease, a vice, and foolishness. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

Anything that can go right can go wrong, and love is obviously no exception. It's not as simple as the discernment of truth from error or illusion. For most of us, if we find out that something we think we know is wrong, we make an adjustment. We reject the falsehood and move on.

But love isn't so black and white. We can love the "wrong things," and yet, find it difficult if not impossible to let go of them, even when we know full well they're not good for us.

Then again, perhaps this isn't so different from truth after all, since people also "fall in love" with all sorts of theories and doctrines and ideologies for reasons other than their truth value. President Obama, for example, has seen his entire beloved worldview crumble before his eyes. But has he actually seen it?

Yes and no. As we've discussed in the past, Truth doesn't require a thinker, since it is true regardless of whether or not anyone recognizes or believes it. The world still revolves around the sun, even if everyone thinks the sun revolves around the earth. Perception is not reality. But accurate perception comes close, at least on its own plane.

Conversely, the Lie not only requires a thinker, but requires some prior recognition of the truth (otherwise there would be no need to lie). For example, the lie that the Libyan terror attack was the result of a You Tube video required the prior recognition that it wasn't. When simple truth starts to get so convoluted, you can generally tell that you're actually dealing with lies and liars.

Thomas Sowell mentions this in this new collection I'm reading. He says that he wants the book to "reduce the likelihood that readers will misunderstand what I have said on many controversial issues over the years."

Of note, when you misunderstand someone, you can't actually disagree with them, which is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to talk to a liberal. Almost everything they disagree with may be traced to a misunderstanding, either willful (i.e., a "dis-understanding") or unconscious. Bullshitters think everyone else is one.

Sowell points out that, ironically, "One reason for some misunderstandings is that my approach and my goals have been too plain and straightforward for those people who are looking for hidden agendas or other complex motives."

In other words, liberals unconsciously assume that we are as devious and agenda-driven as they are. For example, they are obsessed with race, or greed, or homosexuality, so they assume we must be.

But let's get back to Love. There is much in the world that is lovely. I mean, right? The beauty is infinite. But just as with knowledge, we must take care to love the right things in the right way.

Women, for example. Who doesn't love 'em? Most men will tell you -- even in the teeth of a restraining order -- that the female body is the most unsurpassably beautiful form in all of creation. Here I am reminded of another aphorism:

The laws of biology alone do not have fingers delicate enough to fashion the beauty of a face. Female beauty evokes a kind of ache, or longing, in men, that easily shades into transcendence. I mean, here it is, in this world, and yet, how could it be?

Another truenbeautiful aphorism: From an aesthetic experience one returns as from a sighting of numinous footprints.

And for men, woman is the quintessential aesthetic experience, whether or not they (women or men, for that matter) wish to believe it. It is as easy for a man to worship a woman -- or women more generally -- as it is to worship a god.

Which is, of course, where the trouble arises. It brings to mind a crack by the unorthodox Orthodox Boris Mouravieff, about how Adam and Eve fall for "the mirage of temporal goods": "Adam turned away from his real 'I' and identified with his personality," or what we call (•). Then "the beauty of the daughters of man did the rest."

And still does. Woman is, writes Perry, "the veil of universal illusion, both seducing and dispersing, for the same veil that refracts the Light also veils it. Thus woman, in spite of herself, can pull man away from the Spirit and therefore needs man's strength to reconvert her energy heavenward."

Dennis Prager has often spoken of how men and women face very different battles with themselves in this world. But our society focuses exclusively on those impulses men must master, e.g., the impulses to dominate, rape, and generally do violence. But I am not aware of any comparable attempts to tutor and channel female nature.

As a result, pathological femininity gets a free hand to do as it pleases, and if you say anything about it, well, you're a misogynist! Which is so far from the truth that one hardly knows where to begin.

For one thing, it is specifically because we love women that we want what is best for them, and by extension, us, since man's nature will generally only rise to the level demanded by women. If women make no demands, men are only too happy to oblige, so long as they are ensured sexual access.

Yes, it's true: "depending on his degree of virile self-domination," a man "can be dissipated" by female beauty (Perry). Which means dispersed, spread thin, and deprived of his true vector and purpose. And a man without a transcendent purpose isn't much of one, is he? And besides, Sex does not solve even sexual problems (Don Colacho).

While looking for that quote by Mouravieff, I also found some relevant thoughts in Volume 1. He says that "the role of a woman, on the ascent to Redemption, must be comparable to the part played by woman in the Fall." Makes sense, no?

Recall that Eve inspired Adam, so to speak, to turn away from his higher source: "Having conceived in her fertile and artistic imagination the notion of Illusion, the woman, after tasting its fruits, offered them to her husband" -- which you might say is what gets the whole nightmare of history underway.

Reversal of this tide requires a man to "go in search of the being without whom he is not real."

I am lucky enough to have met and married the person without whom I am not real (we are speaking here of the human-human plane, not divine-human per se). I had this distinct sense of reality, of "ontological heft," as it were, on our first date -- which is not to say that many kinks and mind parasites didn't have to be worked out between then and now, so no idealization please! -- and it is interesting to see Mouravieff so accurately describe such a peculiar phenomenon:

"Without clearly being conscious of it, the polar beings know each other, and this knowledge, as ancient as they are themselves, is expressed by the voice of subconsciousness. This creates an atmosphere of absolute confidence and sincerity from the moment they meet....

"Polar beings do not lie to each other. They do not need to lie, for inwardly both are one single being, from the depths of which the real 'I' issues his call and gives his assent. After this, that absolute, spontaneous sincerity constitutes the basis of their relations, and this in turn will give these two beings the otherwise inconceivable feeling of freedom in unity, which ends the impression of servitude and isolation under which we ordinarily live."

(There's quite a bit of occultish stuff in those Mouravieff books, but also some things it's hard to find elsewhere -- like MOTT, only much more so.)

This rambling post is over for now, but there's a whole lot more to this business of male-female relations. To be continued...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Human and Subhuman Sexuality

Let's begin where we left off yesterday. Yes, let's talk about love, both human and divine.

First of all, love obviously requires two parties. With love itself, that makes three: lover, beloved, and love.

However, if the system is functioning as it should be, there will be two lovers and two beloveds united by one love, which makes five. But two lovers focused solely on each other is a kind of static situation; plus, it is as if the love only radiates "inward" instead of outward, in an essentially narcissistic manner.

Thus, I think real love can only flourish when the two are united by one love, but also focus their mutual love on a beloved "third." The most obvious or "natural" third is the child, but it doesn't have to be, especially after the children are grown. There are any number of "symbolic thirds" that can unite a couple in their exteriorized, or radiated, love.

Recall that we've been discussing the complementarity of individual <--> collective, with a particular focus on how the person is central to Christianity (i.e., infinitely precious and worthwhile in his own right; or let us just say loved by God), whereas in eastern religions the individual is essentially an obstacle to enlightenment or liberation.

I don't know about you, but if I ever achieve enlightenment or liberation, I want to be there when it happens. And of course, from a Christian perspective, it "happens" in love.

My favorite chapter in The Mystery of Individuality is the last one, which deals with love and marriage. It is full of wisdom that people need to know, and yet, are generally unaware of.

By way of contrast, think of "sex education," or indeed, the entire field of secular "human sexuality." Deprived of the type of quintessentially human wisdom discussed by Perry, these disciplines are not even "animal" or "primate" sexuality. A more accurate term would be subhuman sexuality, which is neither human nor animal, but a kind of rebellion against, or rejection of, our human nature.

Perry begins with the observation -- uncontroversial for 99.99% of human history, prior to the ascension of tenured stupidity -- that "the mystery of individuality must include an image of it seen through the prism of the masculine and female duality which divides the individual into two incomplete halves, as it were." He adds that the cosmos is "ruled by polarities," but I prefer to say "complementarities," since this latter term implies an underlying harmony.

And in fact, Perry adds that, "though divided, these polarities presuppose an underlying unity without which they could not oppose each other." In this case, male and female are united in their essential humanness. As Jung observed, within the male is the latent anima archetype, just as within the female is the latent animus archetype.

Perry writes of the need for a functioning cosmos to be characterized by complementarities such as positive and negative or attraction and repulsion. Without these, "the universe would collapse and be reabsorbed into Non-being..." It would be like a dead battery, or a lesbian marriage.

First and foremost -- or at the first degree of cosmic manifestation -- we might say that masculine and feminine are personifications of Absolute and Infinite, respectively (a subject we have discussed in a number of previous posts). These terms -- Absolute and Infinite -- may be "prolonged," so to speak, in various iterations.

For example, masculinity, writes Perry, achieves "its purest intensity as Truth and Strength," whereas femininity does so in the modes of Love and Beauty. But again, beneath the complementarity is the oneness of, say, beautiful truth or loving strength (the latter being the Good Father). Dualism implies a kind of battle, whereas complementarity is a dance.

Perry naturally says a lot of things that are politically and academically incorrect, which I suppose is a good gauge of their veracity. For example, "What woman loves in man is essentially his strength and intelligence, or his liberating objectivity, and in this respect man is equated with the motionless center or the static or axial principle..."

Conversely, "what man loves in woman is essentially her beauty and her love, her kindness and mercy, or the mystery of her liberating subjectivity..." It doesn't mean this is all he loves in her, but it is difficult to imagine being attracted to a woman in the first place if she lacked these things; or, conversely, if she were as rigid, severe, cruel, unmysterious, and unyielding as, say, Gloria Allred.

Elsewhere I remember Schuon saying something to the effect that (I'm paraphrasing here) woman finds her axis, or center, in man, whereas man finds his "space" in woman. I think this explains why women become more conservative when they marry, because their vulnerability to emotionalism and flightiness is disciplined by a masculine center (which is already in them, as animus, but is most often first encountered in projected form).

Likewise, this is why we see an Obama campaign specifically tailored to the emotionalism and flightiness of single women (not all of whom, obviously, respond to such childish, illogical, selfish, and generally Fluked up appeals).

There are also "pathologically masculine" appeals, but not so much in the mainstream. For example, there can be an element of this in dogmatic libertarianism, or perhaps in those irrelevant militia groups. Nazis and Islamic supremacists also come to mind.

An important point to bear in mind is that pathological masculinity almost always contains a background of pathological femininity, and vice versa. For example, the angry and dogmatic feminazi is a kind of perverse caricature of masculinity, whereas the aggressive statism of an Obama is bit like mommy with armed thugs.

This is why, as Perry observes, there is something unnatural about a man without courage, just as there is something unnatural about a woman "lacking in tenderness." It hardly means that a man can't be tender and a woman can't be courageous. In fact, in a life properly lived, we will develop and assimilate complementary virtues, in balance with the existing ones.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Living Beyond the Boundaries of Time and Space

One must live for the moment and for eternity. Not for the disloyalty of time. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

Our lives are bracketed by... by what? Well, looked at temporally we could say conception and death; or perhaps ensoulment and discarnation. In space we are bracketed by the skin-boundary container, but not really, given the realities of language and intersubjectivity, through which we are thoroughly entangled with the world and with others.

Also, since time is a function of eternity and locality a special instance of nonlocality, it seems to me that we are always involved with that which surpasses us, both in space and time.

What do I mean by this? Well, religion, for example, is the "science of the eternal," so to speak, and provides efficacious means of communing with That which transcends our spatial and temporal bounds. Obviously no other animal has this privilege. Animals have no need of religion, since they have no intuition of its object, its sufficient reason. In contrast, even the most premature premodern man looked upon the world as a landscape of infinite immensity bounded by legends (Perry).

To paraphrase Schuon, instinct is the animal's intelligence, while intellection is our instinct. Intellect is "At once mirror of the supra-sensible and itself a supernatural ray of light." Only like may know like, so the world may be thought of as crystalized truth, while knowledge is its fluidic correlate. And both may be traced back up to their pre-bifurcated source in the One being.

The point is, a functional human being is never bracketed or contained by profane time and space. Rather, as Perry writes, we always understand these terms in relation to an "absolute beginning and absolute end," which is to say, Creation and Judgment, the one implying the other.

Perry further relates these to loyalty and faith, respectively. In other words, "the root of man's integral happiness" involves both "loyalty on earth to a divine origin," and "faith in a saving mercy at the end." In between our lives are woven by the play of contingency and co-creation. I'm guessing that judgment applies only to what we create, whereas the fact of contingency requires a degree of slackful mercy, or merciful slack.

Let's get further into this question of boundaries and brackets. "In pneumatology," writes Perry, "the ideas of Origin, Center, Goal, and Objectivity" represent the "sacred structural framework" for understanding man -- both his existence and, more importantly, his purpose, or end. It should go without saying that man can have no purpose in the absence of these metacosmic orientations; again, it is either God or nihilism, O or Ø.

We all have a local, egoic center (•) that ultimately links to a divine and nonlocal center, ʘ. These two are obviously not on the same "plane," as the former is a declension from the latter; it is in a "lower dimension," so to speak, like moving from a sphere to a circle, or circle to point, with a kind of "divine rope" in between. The fact of the higher center "means we can live partially outside the world and outside of time, and, as it were, with one foot in paradise" (Perry).

Or, in the words of Schuon, "The spiritual man is not completely here, nor completely there, he is neither before nor afterwards, he is always in the Center and in the blessed Now of God."

Or, in the words of Don Colacho, "Only God [O] and the central point of my consciousness [ʘ] are not accidental to me."

Through this higher center, we need to somehow bear in mind -- or live close to, or be in communion with -- our Origin. This falls under the heading of "vertical recollection," hence our need for daily verticalisthenics, whatever your particular practice (e.g., prayer, meditation, lectio divina, etc.). As Perry explains, "our awareness of a divine Origin serves to remind us of our essence and guides us therefore to not live beneath ourselves."

At the other end is, well, our End. Yes, we are always stalked by death, and if death is all there is, then this results in honest existentialism (or nihilism). But as alluded to above, beyond death is Judgment, because freedom is real. Thus, "our awareness of a divine End guides us in truthfulness and sincerity as well as in generosity..."

I am reminded of a passage from the Isha Upanishad that is supposed to be read at the moment of death, and is said to be employed in funeral rites: Let my life now merge in the all-pervading life. Ashes are my body's end. OM... O mind, remember Brahman. O mind, remember thy past deeds. Remember Brahman. Remember thy past deeds.... Thou knowest our deeds. Preserve us from the deceitful attraction of sin...

Which brings to mind another passage -- or rather, vice verse, since I was thinking of the Upanishads when I wrote it -- this one from the Cosmobliteration section of the Encirclopedia: O Death, you old mahahasamadhi.... Take us before and beyond this womentary maninfestation, reveal not the horizontal but our inmost upmost vertical bigending.

You see? I think it's actually as clear as obscurity can be. It incorporates just about everything discussed in this post, only in a compact and holofractal manner.

Now interestingly, it is possible to find "contentment" on a plane lower than the one we were meant to inhabit. But in order to pull this off, you have to essentially kill, or at least become insensible to, the higher self and all its needs. Which is why it is difficult for me to relate to my so-called profession of clinical psychology. Yeah, I can do it, but mostly by limiting myself to (•) and ignoring ʘ. But the younger I get, the more artificial this seems.

In order to escape from this prison, one must learn not to come to an arrangement with its indisputable comforts. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

I wish there were a field called, I don't know, "clinical pneumatology." Then again, as soon as you professionalize something, you sow the seeds of its ruin. And "amateur" comes from the Latin amator or Lover. Which is why the OC mysthead includes the crack about Much Amor!

So, I guess that's the end for now, but there'll be much amor tomorrow.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Compulsory Miseducation and Ontological Duty

To review: we've been sporadically discussing the meaning of the person -- or of the whole category of Personhood as such. Assisting us today is Mark Perry, whose The Mystery of Individuality deals with just this subject.

Again, we want to get at the interior essence of man, beyond just the outward form. This isn't an issue for most contemporary thinkers, since they don't believe in essences at all. As always, let the dead bury the tenured.

For the rest of us, it is pretty obvious that man is, as outlined in the previous post, "composed of will (i.e., freedom and virtue), sentiment (i.e., love), and knowledge (i.e., disinterested truth and detached objectivity)"; or in other words, "that man is free, that he has a conscience that distinguishes good from evil, and that he has a mind that may discern the reality behind appearances."

So if we ask what man is "for," the answer should be clear, unless you just enjoy being oppositional. "Being intelligence," writes Perry, man is "meant to know the Truth, and being love he is meant to unite with the Good, and having free will he is therefore obligated, by ontological duty, to choose true over false, right over wrong, and good over evil..."

These are the sorts of things we all learn by kindergarten, and can only unlearn after years of graduate school.

With privileges come obligations, and since man is uniquely privileged to have access to truth, he is obliged to know it. The very possibility of civilization depends upon this meta-truth.

To turn it around, a civilization based upon lies cannot stand; or, to the extent that it "exists," it must do so at the cost of full personhood. Assimilating a lie always does violence to the person

Certain lie-based cultures are obvious, for example, the Soviet Union, the Palestinian terrortories, or the Arab-Muslim world more generally. But it also happens in more subtle ways here in the US. At PowerLine, Scott Johnson cites the entirely bogus statistic that females earn "only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn."

As Johnson writes, this silly charge "has been examined and disproved many times over." Nor can it survive mere logic, since any businessman would be a fool to pay male employees 40% more than what he can pay female employees to do the identical work. If the statistic were true, it would only mean that men are bizarrely overpaid, not that women are underpaid.

With a little research, any interested person can discover for himself that the 72% canard has no basis in reality. Therefore, to the extent that a person believes it, he or she must want to believe it -- not because it is true, but because they want it to be true. But why would someone want to believe such an unpleasant "truth"? What's the payoff?

Note that a so-called "independent" asked the question about this statistic during the last presidential debate. But the fact that the questioner had already swallowed this quintessential liberal lie puts an interesting twist on what it means to be "independent."

In this case, it means that the independent in question believes the lie, but is just uncertain as to how to go about "solving" the problem embedded in the lie. It's like the old joke about being unable to tell the crazy person he's not a chicken, since we need the eggs. We can't tell the woman that she's not a victim because we need the... the what, exactly?

Candy Crowley obviously believes the lie, or else she wouldn't have chosen it to be one of the precious few questions asked of the candidates. Why not ask what the candidates plan to do about the unicorn problem?

Crowley's role in propagating the fantasy should come as no surprise, as the purpose of the MSM is not to inform, but, to paraphrase the Sultan, to serve as a conduit between the state and the individual. State power is rooted in the Democratic party, which in turn depends upon millions of dysfunctional women supporting the party that will prop up the state that will then "rescue" these women from their illusions, mostly by forcing someone else to pay for their birth control. Why all women aren't insulted by this is something of a mystery. Then again perhaps not, since all women aren't real women, any more than all men are real men.

The simple truth of the matter would cut like a sword through this Rube Goldberg machine of lies. But it cannot be uttered by a presidential candidate. How weird is that? What does it say about these women that one is not politically viable if one doesn't patronize their lie? You can't just say to these women: Hey, guess what? Good news! That whole 72% thing is just a lie designed to keep you on the Democrat plantation. You're not a victim of the patriarchy. You're free!

These women no more want to hear this than the Heaven's Gate cult wanted to hear that the spaceship wasn't arriving to take them away. Since human beings are by nature hedonistic, it must mean that these types of painful lies must harbor a secret payoff. Pain in one area of the psyche may redound to pleasure in another.

I think it's fair to say that most people are unaware of the covert thrill up the leg when expressing certain painful emotions. But if you listen to that stillsmallvoice, you can sometimes hear one of them saying: "hey, I'm digging this!"

One often sees this in squabbles between spouses, who get a perverse kick out of plunging in the blade, or who derive sadistic pleasure in playing the self-righteous victim. More generally -- to paraphrase a long forgotten source -- we shouldn't underestimate the pleasure involved in participating in one's own subjugation. It explains a lot about the left, if not quite everything.

Johnson wonders what other Big Lies "have moved beyond the pale of our public discourse?" I wonder too. What other mandatory lies must we tell ourselves, or at least pretend to believe, just because neurotic liberals need to believe them?

I would suggest that there is a lie at the heart of most every liberal assumption. I say this because, in the words of Don Colacho, "The left’s theses are trains of thought that are carefully stopped before they reach the argument that demolishes them."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What is Man that Man Should be Mindful of Him?

I have hardly any time this morning, and no time tomorrow, as I have to attend another continuing education seminar. So all you get is this brief and concentrated post:

What exactly is a person, anyway? Remember, we're talking about the interior, not the exterior, form.

Man may be defined in an exterior sense by, for example, the use of tools, or by the ability to reproduce with another member of the species. But what is man in the interior sense?

I think Schuon provides the most useful answer. To paraphrase him, man is composed of will (i.e., freedom and virtue), sentiment (i.e., love), and knowledge (i.e., disinterested truth and detached objectivity).

Thus, we begin with the premise that man is free, that he has a conscience that distinguishes good from evil, and that he has a mind that may discern the reality behind appearances.

But what is the source of these remarkable abilities? As mentioned yesterday, the scientistic mindset attempts to explain them away with recourse to an essentially reductionistic argument.

Such a simplistic approach holds no appeal to the intellect, although it may help its proponent to be less troubled by the promptings of his soul.

In any event, such arguments are self-refuting, for if there is no truth we couldn't know it, and if there is no freedom we could never conceive of it. There is nothing in us that compels assent to, or rejection of, truth.

Unlike animals, we can sink below ourselves, but for the same reason may rise above and transcend ourselves. And because we are human beings, we are privileged to see that nature points to trans-nature.

When we say that man is in the image of the Creator, this cuts both ways. In other words, I take seriously the idea that if we understand man essentially, this provides important clues as to the nature of God.

As alluded to above, there is no -- and will never be any -- naturalistic explanation for truth, free will, and knowledge of the good, as these emanate from above, not below.

But at the same time, this understanding of man's essence suggests that God's essence may also revolve around this trinity of love, truth, and freedom. Furthermore, these three must ultimately be one, in ways we don't normally think about.

However, as soon as we do think about it, we understand that there can be no truth in the absence of the freedom to pursue it, just as there can be no freedom unless we are free to choose what is good and true.

Likewise, love cannot be compelled, just as everyone knows that it is wrong to choose and love evil.

Now, man may know the absolute, which is just another way of saying that he may know, period.

In other words, any knowledge is underwritten by, or partakes of, so to speak, the absolute. As such, to say "man" is to say "God," just as "the very word 'relative' implies 'Absolute'" (Schuon).

To affirm "that man is made of intelligence, will and sentiment," writes Schuon, "means that he is made for the Truth, the Way, and Virtue." In other words, the way an object is made tells us something about its purpose.

Now, the purpose of religion is to remind man of the Purpose of purposes; or in other words, to stay focussed on reality and to steer clear of the illusions.

A religion may be reduced to doctrine and method, which is simply truth and the means of assimilating it. Note that we do not say "attaining," "acquiring," or "possessing" truth.

For obviously it is possible to have knowledge of the doctrine without it having the slightest impact upon one's being. Or, a mind parasite may warp the truth into its own image, which covertly elevates it to the status of a god, or a little human beastling.

Which provides another clue into both man and God, i.e., being. Genuine love, genuine knowledge, genuine virtue -- all are imprinted, so to speak, upon being; or, one could say that they are imbued with being.

And being is where subject and object merge into one. Thus, ultimate truth, which one might think of as being subjective, is also the most objective thing imaginable.

Which reminds me of an aphorism for you to chew on:

I distrust the system deliberately constructed by thought; I trust in the one that results from the pattern of its footprints.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lies Burn: Yelling Fire in a Clouded World

Before we were interrupted by unforeseen events -- and there is nothing quite so unforeseen as an event -- we were discussing the complementarity of individual <--> social, or narcissism <--> collectivism.

Note that each pole refers to the cosmic interior, as explicated by Wilber in various works. As culture represents the interior-collective, person is the interior-individual.

Note that we do not say "society" and "man," since those belong to the exterior-collective and -individual, respectively.

For similar reasons, "brain" is exterior while "soul" is the quintessence of interiority. One might even say that the purpose of life is to exteriorize the soul while interiorizing the world. The former is creativity, the latter knowledge. But obviously the two should be in harmony; to emphasize one to the detriment of the other is to compose a less than full life, i.e., words + music.

In my opinion, the presence of a cosmic interior -- a subjective horizon -- is without question the most mysterious and astonishing fact in all of existence. Frankly, it is the last thing we'd expect to find here, except that without it there is nothing to find and no one to find it. It is fair to say that the mystery of mysteries is the experience of experience.

One of the worst features -- maybe the worst -- of modernity is the persistent attempt to explain away the cosmic interior through various scientistic fairy tales, or to stunt it by neglect, or to maim it by exposure to a subhuman world that is then interiorized by the hapless soul. Already, at the age of seven, I can see the difference between my son and spiritually deprived children with no exposure to religious truth. A certain kind of light is slowly extinguished in the latter.

The two wings of intelligence are erudition and love. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

And Without a certain religious childishness, a certain intellectual profundity is unattainable. (ibid.).

If you ignore this interior reality, how could you not end up with a field full of weeds? How else to put it... There is something a little animalistic about such persons, since they live in ignorance of one of the most enduring features of the human mindscape, others of which include such archetypes as romantic love, fatherhood, warrior, priest, death, shadow, great mother, sage, etc.

In my view, the cosmic interior attains a kind of pinpoint focus in man, similar to how a magnifying glass gathers the sun's rays into an intense area of heat and light.

In the soul, warmth is emotion while light is truth. Here again, light without warmth is going to end in the imbalance of, say, scientism or modern atheism (which are "artificial light," like a florescent bulb that makes you look awful).

Conversely, warmth without light ends in any number of pneumapathologies, not the least of which being modern liberalism (AKA illiberal leftism). For an example of balance, think of Jesus, whose warmth is exceeded only by his light (since light must ultimately be the source of warmth).

Think of last night's debate. Obama's goal for the evening was to appear more fiery, which he surely was, although not to the extreme of Biden's self-immolation. But did this equate to more light? Obviously not, except in the negative sense, in that it shed unintentional light on his character and record.

Nevertheless, for the leftist, the presence of this fiery heat is all that matters, which is why most people on the left imagined Biden "won" his debate. How to explain such irrationality in people who like to think they're so much brighter than the rest of us?

Ace takes a stab at it. One reason is that "they believe, as an article of religious faith, that they are smarter than the voters, and the voters are stupid, and therefore simple contradiction must appeal to such people, who are very stupid and think that an argument is won by he who says 'No it isn't!' the most."

And also "Because they themselves just want to hear Biden and Obama call Romney and Ryan 'liars'.... If you just contradict Ryan and Romney, who are by the way lying monsters, then that's awesome, that's 'tough,' and you win."

So behind the aggressive heat is another kind of heat: contempt and superiority, which are two sides of the same coin. In other words, the inflated superiority can only be artificially maintained through contempt. Which is why the one thing the left truly excels at is defamation, slander, vilification, caricature, etc., all in the service of their grandiosity. (The other thing they do well is disguise envy as compassion.)

Not for nothing is this book I happen to be reading entitled Fire in the Minds of Men. Its subtitle is Origins of the Revolutionary Faith, and its origin is, in a word, Fire:

"The heart of revolutionary faith, like any faith, is fire: ordinary material transformed into extraordinary form, quantities of warmth suddenly changing the quality of substance. If we do not know what fire is, we know what it does. It burns. It destroys life; but it also supports it as a source of heat, light, and -- above all -- fascination."

With modernity came the displacement of the quest for spiritual light and heat to the world: "A recurrent mythic model for revolutionaries -- early romantics, the young Marx, the Russians of Lenin's time -- was Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods for the use of mankind. The Promethean faith of revolutionaries resembled in many respects the general modern belief that science would lead men out of darkness into light" (ibid.).

Indeed, the revolutionaries went even further, to a millenarian insistence that "the new day that was dawning" in which "the sun would never set." Tragically, their little spark turned into a conflagration that swept "across national borders, carried by small groups and idiosyncratic individuals who created an incendiary legacy of ideas" (ibid).

It is in this qualified and restricted manner that liberal and science do indeed complement one another: for leftism is the phony warmth and compassion of a bloodless, scientistic metaphysic; and scientism is the artifical light of the horizontalized and desiccated soul. But

An intelligent man is one who maintains his intelligence at a temperature independent of his environment’s temperature. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Will the Human Memome Project Lead to a Cure for Socialism?

We left off yesterday with Billington wondering whether the political religions of the left might someday "prove to be only a stage in the continuing metamorphosis of older forms of faith," and whether "belief in secular revolution, which has legitimized so much authoritarianism in the twentieth century, might dialectically prefigure some rediscovery of religious evolution to revalidate democracy in the twenty-first."

I would put it more starkly: if the latter doesn't occur, then mankind is doomed. I say this for two reasons: first, Islamists are not about to abandon their insane revolutionary hopes for a worldwide caliphate. And second, the spirit of leftism cannot be eradicated from the human memome, since it is one of the consequences of man's fallenness.

More generally, the left will always be with us, because any human being with a little imagination and a lot of envy can attack and undermine the present in light of an imagined future unattainable by man. The main brake on the left has never come from conservative liberals, but from the self-consuming nature of socialism, which weakens and eventually destroys the host. But just because the left destroys itself, it doesn't automatically mean that something better will replace it.

For one thing, the destruction isn't just economic. Rather, if anything, the psychological and spiritual consequences of unhinged leftism are even worse. As mentioned yesterday, it begins in the mountain springs of purely intellectualized envy, but eventually flows into the sewers of journalism and public education, contaminating everything. Its end-state is a "collection of disturbing, disorderly appetites" -- a Joe Biden, with his "preening exhibitionism," "smirking rudeness," "egotistical exuberance," and "bullying condescension." Name a prominent person of the left who doesn't fit this description.

Even so, we haven't hit bottom. As the Sultan writes, "There is no reason to think that Barack with his Third Culture image and his fake veneer of culture is going to be the endpoint either. If the left has taught us anything, it is that its narrative of cultural destruction is always able to conceive of more and more horrifying worlds than anything we might behold today."

"Revolutionary” today means an individual for whom modern vulgarity is not triumphing quickly enough. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Plato -- what with his pure love of thought -- "has never had success as a revolutionary and never will do so." In contrast to Plato, Karl Marx has enjoyed over a century "of astonishing success and has revolutionized the world. He has swept away millions -- those who went to the barricades and trenches in civil wars, and those who went to the prisons, either as jailers or as prisoners" (MOTT).

Really, can you name another philosopher who has enjoyed such a smashing and grabbing success in such a short span of time? But you -- yes, you there -- "as a solitary human soul, a soul of depth and sobriety, what do you owe Karl Marx?" (ibid.).

No man can answer that question. Not until April 15th, tax day.

The point is, "Plato illumines, whilst Marx sweeps away" (ibid.). Indeed, Marx said that, unlike other philosophers -- who merely illuminate reality -- his goal was to change it. This particular soul-sickness has decimated our universities, where activism has displaced the quest for truth.

Obviously, it is impossible to imagine a person of any spiritual insight or stature getting caught up in the Obama hysteria. But it is equally impossible to imagine such a person being caught up in any kind of political hysteria, politics being what it is. It is one of the reasons we can never match the diabolical energy of the left. Since the leftist is condemned to the horizontal world, he channels his spiritual energy into politics.

Transforming the world: the occupation of a convict resigned to his punishment. --Don Colacho's Aphorims.

The project of the left is to make us all useful to the collective, when the only possible justification for the collective can be in its usefulness to the individual -- not in a horizontal, egotistical sense, but in a vertical sense. Assuming that life has a transcendent purpose -- and you cannot be human and not make this assumption -- then the purpose of society should be to help human beings achieve this purpose -- i.e., to be useful to others by being faithful to their created archetype, so to speak.

But horizontal man, in denying the vertical, necessarily replaces it with a counterfeit version that substitutes the collective for the One and human will for the Divine authority. There is no one so inflated with narcissistic hubris as the leftist social engineer who will save mankind from its own self-inflicted wounds. Such persons, to paraphrase Eliot, dream of systems in which it will be unnecessary for anyone to be good.

Likewise, "the moment we talk about 'social conscience,' and forget about conscience, we are in moral danger. Eliminate the idea of moral struggle," and "you must expect human beings to become more and more vaporous" (Eliot). Since man is placed at the crossroads where he is free to choose between good and evil, to forget this is to abolish liberty, conscience, and transcendent meaning and purpose in a single stroke.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Once Upon a Time There was a President

This week should bring some brief periods of patchy slackshine, but no sustained episodes of time dilation or vertical belowback. Therefore, a timely reposting of what we wrote here in the immediate wake of Obama's funereal procession four years ago next month.

However, I ended up throwing in so much new material that I can probably divide it into two posts. But... isn't it unfair to alter a post that was supposedly about predicting the future? Never you mind. Just sit back and enjoy the insultainment. Besides, the essence hasn't been changed, only some details.

We begin with a hearty laphorism:

No folktale ever began this way: Once upon a time, there was a president… --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

Okay. Would you believe one folktale? Because a lot of folkers believed it.

Frankly, anycoon could have seen our dystopian future coming with their own two -- let alone three -- eyes, but I think you'll stil enjoy this gnostalgiac lookback. It was in the context of a discussion of Letter XI of Meditations on the Tarot, The Force, a book which all One Cosmos readers should by now have at least pretended to read:

The Force is a timely symbol for the events of the day, as the force of the left has ascended the political Wheel of Fortune. We sincerely hope they enjoy their brief little day in the sun -- er, moonshine. It won't get any better for them than this, for the apex marks the transition to the nadir. Or top to bottom, for those living in Rio Linda.

We immortals can draw consolation from the fact that, being that leftism is a closed intellectual and spiritual system, it is already, as we speak, "on the way down," outward appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. In insulating itself from the vertical ingressions of grace and then claiming powers entitled to no man, the left is blind to its own Icarus factor.

In short, its end is in its beginning, as the poe t.s. aid. Furthermore, the higher it ascends in its intoxicated reach for power, the further it will fall. The concrete fact of Obama shall soon enough obliterate the vaporous idea of Obama. There is no way around this vacuous cycle except all the way, 360 degrees, century after century.

Actually, there is one way out, and that is by avoiding the whole tedious promethean power-grab thingy to begin with. If you remain on the ground, or even on the second floor, you can't fall very far.

But if one is the greatest orator since Cicero, or the greatest presidential writer since Lincoln, or the Man who will Slow the Rise of the Oceans, then you my fiend are in competition with Felix Baumgartner.

The following passage by our Unknown Friend is perfectly apt today: "Plato has never had success as a revolutionary and never will do so. But Plato himself will always live throughout the centuries of human history... and will be in each century the companion of the young and old who love pure thought, seeking only the light which it comprises."

In other worlds, you can never have a mass revolution of people oriented to a target that few can even see and no one can actually hit.

This interior revolution is an individual endeavor, not the sort of thing that could ever occur on a massive scale. And the left is a mass movement, which automatically condemns it to mediocrity on a good day. It is led by a blundering herd of elites who imagine themselves superior, but nothing could be more banal -- and self-contradictory -- than the idea of "mass excellence."

Through history, all leftist revolutionaries have understood this, which is why leftism has never come "from the bottom up." Rather, it is always a trickle-down affair, led by an intellectual priesthood who can barely conceal their contempt for the working class dolts they wish to redeem.

Great stupidities do not come from the people. First, they have seduced intelligent men. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

These intellectuals show their true farce whenever some ingrate they presume to save declines their offer, as actress Stacey Dash discovered last week. The line she joins is long and distinguished.

This is the way things "must be," since the left is simply an inversion of Christianity, and could only have emerged in a Christianized culture. As Billington writes, these are men who see "in revolution an object of faith and a source of vocation, a channel for sublimated emotion and sublime ambition."

In contrast to Marx's crack about religion being the opiate of the masses, "revolutionary faith might well be called the amphetamine of the intellectuals" (ibid.).

For the manically revved-up revolutionary -- and remember, on the eve of his election Obama promised a fundamental transformation of this country -- "history is seen prophetically as a kind of unfolding morality play. The present [is] hell, and the revolution a collective purgatory leading to a future earthly paradise" (ibid.).

Thus, Obama's campaign essentially revolves around trying to convince us that this is purgatory, not hell; and that the purgation of our RacistSexistHomophobic past must last a little longer before we arrive in multicultural and redistributionist heaven.

Yes, "Once upon a time, there was a president." How'd that One turn out? And are we condemned to repeat the same myth forever? Is it possible for man to purge himself of fairy tales, and finally live in the real world?

Excellent question, even if it cannot be answered, because at least it recognizes the problem.

Looked at from a cosmo-historical perspective, Billington is "inclined to believe that the end may be approaching of the political religion which saw in revolution the sunrise of a perfect society."

And he is "further disposed to wonder if this secular creed, which arose in Judeo-Christian culture, might not ultimately prove to be only a stage in the continuing metamorphosis of older forms of faith, and to speculate that the belief in secular revolution, which has legitimized so much authoritarianism in the twentieth century, might dialectically prefigure some rediscovery of religious evolution to revalidate democracy in the twenty-first."

His lips to God's ear! Or rather, vice versa: God's lips to our ears.

Modern history is the dialogue between two men: one who believes in God, another who believes he is a god. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A Completely Selfish Post

When I'm stumped about what to write about, it's usually for the same reason: I forget about the purpose of this blog. Which, you might say, is entirely selfish.

That is, I write in order to find out what I think. But when I get boxed in, it's usually because I'm unselfishly thinking of my readers, which means that instead of writing to discover what I think, I'm doing so in order to tell what I know.

Which isn't much. Moreover, whatever it is, it must be rediscovered every day.

This also explains why, just as I begin to pick up more readers, I lose them, because things get weird again. But it would never occur to me to write for "the day." Why bother? Rather, the only purpose I can see in writing is to try to do so for ever: to infinity, and beyond! Or in other words, to try to write "from" eternity. I'm not saying I succeed, only that a man needs a hobby.

The bottom line is that to write unselfishly ends up a kind of self-centered and self-aggrandizing act. Conversely, to write selfishly results in a more selfless product.

Of course, this is all predicated on the notion that to plunge Bobward eventually ends in something universal. We all have to "look within" to discover anything, but that doesn't mean that everything we discover there is hopelessly tainted by our own beastly presence.

So in this post I'm just going to forget about you all, leap into the Subject, and see where he takes us.

In yesterday's post we embarked on a discussion of the complementarity of individual <--> group, or personal <--> universal. For Perry, this comes down to "remembering our divine essence, on the one hand, without forgetting our human nothingness, on the other." In short, "Noble radiation and humble effacement."

You might say that Perry's prescription involves simultaneous recollection of two opposites. Which isn't invalid, but does omit an awful lot of the in-between where we actually live.

It's as if there is nothing between complete nihilism and mystical union; or that nothing short of mystical union has any real value. But if that's the case, why do we have this magnificent cosmos? Why does the Creator go to all the trouble?

This last question is critical, I think, and cannot be resolved in the purely metaphysical and extra-revelational manner of the Traditionalists. For they come very close to suggesting that the cosmos springs into being of necessity (i.e., "emanationism"), and that it is subject to inevitable decay for the same reason. It is in the nature of the Sovereign Good, they say, to radiate itself, which results in a Manifestation, i.e., the cosmos. But then the cosmos, as it inevitably becomes more distant from its ground and origin, succumbs to entropy. Game over. (But which then begins a new cycle.)

Some of that is true as far as it goes, but it cannot ultimately be reconciled with the Judeo-Christian view of a creation that is pure gift and completely unnecessary. The Traditionalist would probably say that the real purpose of such an assertion is to remind us of our nothingness -- our pure contingency -- before God; but this then implies a very different sort of God, one that is rather impersonal and doesn't really care about individuals.

To jump ahead to our conclusion, we believe that person is the ultimate category of existence; and that personhood is neither thinkable nor derivable from any kind of purely monadic metaphysic. I believe one comes from two, not vice versa. Which means that love is not so much "higher" than truth, but rather, the truth of existence. And love is impossible in a matrix of unalloyed oneness, unless you have a very different definition of love, or you are Barack Obama.

I hope this isn't getting too abstract, but it is important. The Traditionalist (and they would say universal) metaphysic begins with Beyond Being. I do not disagree with this, because it is fully consistent with the apophatic Godhead about which we can say nothing. Unless we are very sneaky. Eckhart, for example, has many fine orthoparadoxical descriptions of the Godhead. In Sermon 2 he tells us that the intellect -- man's highest faculty --

"is not worthy even for an instant to cast a single glance into this citadel... neither power nor mode can gaze into it, not even God himself! In very truth and as God lives! God himself never looks in there for one instant, in so far as he exists in modes and in the properties of his persons..."

It is here "wherein God ever blooms and is verdant in all his Godhead, and... ever bears his only-begotten Son as truly as in himself, for truly he dwells in this power, and the spirit gives birth with the Father to the same only-begotten Son, and to itself as the self-same Son, and is itself the self-same Son in this light, and is the Truth."

As you can see, words begin to fail at the threshold of the Godhead; language begins to disintegrate -- or perhaps we should say "re-aggregate" in the light of the divine darkness. At the very least, we must try to outfox language in order to see around the coroner, or past our own headlights.

In Sermon 101, Eckhart speaks of "the eternal birth which God the Father bore and bears unceasingly in eternity, because this same birth is now born in time, in human nature." He quotes Augustine, who asks "What does it avail me that this birth is always happening, if it does not happen in me? That it should happen in me is what matters."

Selfish, right?

No. Contemplating the complementarity of individual <--> group leads in a very different direction if we begin in a Christian rather than, say, Vedantin metaphysic. The orthoparadoxical Christian view is that the Godhead is a kind of "group," even while not being anything other than one.

Conversely, the Vedantic view (at least for Shankara) is that the illusion of twoness ultimately dissolves into the Oneness of Brahman. For truly, when all is said and done, it never happened. The illusion of separateness was just a dream, for all This is That.

I used to believe that. For one thing, you don't need revelation to tell you that "all is one." Rather, you need revelation to tell you it isn't. Or at least to confirm your suspicions and let you know you're on the bright trek.

And if you understand what I just said, then perhaps you can understand Eckhart's understanding that "It does not now seem to me that God understands because he exists, but rather that he exists because he understands."

For it takes three to understand: knower, known, and knowledge. Or better: lover, beloved, and love.


Just because I like the photo. Captures that interior we've been talking about:

Monday, October 08, 2012

Very Important Persons and Very Inflated Presidents

In our previous post we touched on the complementarity of universal and particular. There is an irresolvable tension between these poles -- and happily so, because without it we wouldn't be able to understand anything.

In other words, thinking always involves the search for universals behind phenomena -- for the principle behind the manifestation; and also the exploration of new instances and exemplifications of the principle. Cognitive metabolism consists of analysis and synthesis, unity and plenitude (which I suppose are prolongations of Absolute and Infinite).

A lot can go wrong with both of these. Some people get lost in particulars. We call them nominalists. Others are stranded in the dream world of abstract principles. This can result in anything from philosophical idealism (culminating in a Hegel) to political demagoguery to religious and secular cultism.

Obama, for example, cannot cope with what you and I call "economic reality" because the principles he holds dear simply do not go there. In short, the economic theory to which he is beholden is inadequate to the real world of a complex market economy.

For example, to express the desire to "spread the wealth around" conveys breathtaking ignorance of how wealth is created, and more importantly, how to continue creating it. True, a politician can force the distribution of income at the point of a gun.

But this only works once (or up to a point), since it puts in place a huge disincentive to the wealth creators. As we know, leftists embrace science so long as it doesn't clash with their ideology. In this case, the needs of the state require operant conditioning to be underbussed.

Likewise the fantasy of a "right to healthcare." First, let's be clear on what we're talking about here. Obama isn't really talking about a right to healthcare, since we already have that right.

Rather, he's talking about the state forcing one party to render its services to another. That's an obligation, not a right. A genuine right, as understood by the founders, entails no one's obligation. For example, my right to freedom of speech doesn't mean that MSNBC has to give me airtime to rebut their wild beliefs and accusations.

But we're getting far afield. What I really want to discuss is the complementarity of universal and particular as it manifests in human beings. This obviously occurs in the exterior/anatomical sense, in that we are all "human beings," even though each of us is unique. This is most noticeable in the face, each human face being unique.

We all have the ability to instantly distinguish one human face from another, to such an extent that we don't even think about how remarkable a feat this is.

For example, I'm guessing that if a dachshund looks us in the face, our face will be as indistinct to it as dachshund faces are to us. Sure, there are some differences. But if you were to put seven billion dachshunds in a room, yours would blend in with the rest. However, you could pick your own child out in an instant.

The fact that we can do this must mean that individuals are Very Important, both to Nature and Nature's God. And they are. For whatever reason, the cosmos puts a very high premium on Persons.

Specifically, as it pertains to our interior humanness, the universal/particular complementarity appears in the form of group/individual, or community/person. Human beings are, of course, "social animals." But they are equally "personal animals," or just say persons, each one as unique and unrepeatable as the face that exteriorizes him or her.

One obvious way this complementarity plays out is in our political arrangement. Democrats and leftists more generally emphasize the group at the expense of the individual. This is the reason why leftism feels so "un-American" to us, because our classical liberal founders emphasized the sanctity of the individual.

For such conservative liberals, the group exists for the individual, whereas for the left, the individual is subordinated to the group. If one is grounded in the latter metaphysic, then something like Obamacare is both logical and necessary.

This is the topic of Mark Perry's new book, The Mystery of Individuality: Grandeur and Delusion of the Human Condition. He is a traditionalist of the Geunon/Schuon school, and too hardcore for me.

However, this doesn't mean that he doesn't have some valuable insights, just as the fact that a scientist happens to be an atheist doesn't imply any kind of blanket refutation of his genuine insights. Again, we take truth where we find it, since any and all truth -- and even the very possibility of truth -- is of God.

All religions address this issue in one way or another, and usually in a negative way. In other words, most religions try to serve as a kind of brake on runaway individualism, and emphasize our indebtedness to the group.

In itself this is not necessarily problematic, so long as we don't confuse "group" and "state." The state is not a genuine group, contrary to the left's belief that it is "the one thing we all belong to." There is no interior to the state except in extremely pathological cases such as National Socialism, in which case the state embodied "the will of the people"

Or, think of eastern religions which focus on the eradication of the "ego." This is a very problematic word, since it is based on a bad translation (a latinisation) of Freud's German "das Ich," which essentially connotes the I.

Why would anyone ever want to get rid of his I, since this would be the equivalent of suicide? More generally, the term "ego" doesn't actually appear in any Buddhist or Hindu scripture, since it was only coined in the early 20th century.

Anyway, a lot of religions attempt to tame or "eliminate" the ego-I, but not too many seem to celebrate it. And there are good enough reasons for this, since excess or disproportionate celebration of the I is what we call narcissism or sociopathy.

Criminals and politicians, for example, generally do not suffer from low self esteem, but way too much. It takes an absurd amount of self-esteem and ego-inflation to feel entitled to rob a man, whether with a gun or through legislation. It would never occur to an appropriately humble man to be an Al Capone or Barack Obama.

So there is that negative reality of the ego-I. And if we look around us, it isn't hard to condemn its excesses and abysses. Just turn on the television. It's everywhere. But does this mean that there is no appropriate -- and even sanctified -- individualism?

To be continued...

Yeah, I'd recognize that mug anywhere:

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Joy of Unknowing

It cannot have been easy for early Christians. First of all they weren't yet Christians, but rather, deviant messianic Jews. Except this messiah had appeared in a form no one had anticipated, nor would anyone invent, because the story is just too implausible, most especially for Jews. I mean, if you're going to invent a religion, why invent one that's more than a little incoherent (on the surface) and difficult to reconcile with your existing one?

Here is what I mean -- or rather, Voegelin means. As alluded to yesterday, one of the purposes of scripture -- or of a closed canon, more precisely -- is to protect and preserve the insights disclosed by the revelation.

You can't let just anything into the canon, or the revelation will become as diluted and undiscerning as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I mean, Billy Joel? C'mon. And what's Miles Davis doing in there? Talk about mixing up revelations. While you're at it, why not put Babe Ruth in the football hall of fame?

For Christian R & D there was a two-pronged challenge: first, to reconcile it with the existing scripture, second, to the wider world (or vice versa, if you like, i.e., world to revelation). With regard to the latter, for various reasons it was necessary to develop "a theology that mobilized for the defense of truth the arms of the intellectually superior and for that reason most serious competitor, of Hellenistic-Roman philosophy" (Voegelin).

In other words, man has -- and in many ways is -- a mind, and has every right to a revelation that speaks to its depths, and certainly doesn't devalue it. So early Christians went about the task of assimilating both Athens and Jerusalem to the new revelation.

A similar thing occurred with Judaism in the form of Philo Judaeus, who was not only a contemporary of Christ (though there is no evidence he knew of him) but a later influence on many of the early Fathers. (Then again, according to McGinn, "Christian legend has him meeting St. Peter in Rome!")

As Andrew Louth writes, "Starting from an idea of God without parallel in his philosophical milieu, Philo develops an understanding of the Word that sees meditation on Scripture, that is, God's self-disclosure, as central to the soul's search for God. This is quite new -- something that the Christian Fathers were to take up and make their own."

One of the reasons for this is Philo's emphasis on the Divine Word, i.e., Logos, "as an intermediary between the absolutely transcendent and unknowable God and the human soul" (McGinn).

The following passage by Philo is pretty striking if you're into cosmic coonspiracy theories: "To his chief messenger and most venerable Logos, the Father who engendered the universe has granted the singular gift to stand between and separate the creature from Creator." This Logos-gift is "midway between the two extremes, serving as a pledge for both."

The logos is God turned toward -- and in a way into -- man, so to speak. It is "immanent in all things, but in a special way in the human mind," i.e., "within the higher dimension or nous" (ibid).

McGinn agrees that Philo "was the first figure in Western history to wed the Greek contemplative ideal to the monotheistic faith of the Bible," a feat which some have welcomed, others have condemned. Me, I welcome truth in whatever form it comes my way.

Philo obviously had the same liberal attitude. He made no apologies for using "the best Greek philosophy both apologetically, that is, to prove that Judaism was the true religion, and speculatively, that is, to draw out [its] inner meaning..."

This "reconciliation was achieved not only by seeking a deeper and more universal meaning in the scriptures, but also by transforming Platonic contemplation into a more personalistic mode" (ibid.).

Universal and personalistic. I'm all over that. This itself is a provocative and spicy combination of modes that one might think of as being at antipodes.

In other words, to say "universal" is to exclude the particular, and the individual is nothing if not particular. I always compare it to jazz, which takes the universals of music and expresses them in a uniquely individual way via spontaneous composition, i.e., improvisation. So when I say I'm "winging it" here, that's actually what I mean. I try to work with universals but give them my own spin -- which is a way of understanding them from the inside-out, with the whole of one's being.

It's like a quest or something. An adventure of consciousness. But "there is no guarantee of success on the quest: for God must reveal Himself, and the soul can do nothing to elicit this disclosure -- it can only prepare. But even so, the quest by itself is sufficient satisfaction. One might say that the quest is the goal and the goal is the quest" (Louth).

And as Voegelin is at pains to emphasize vis-a-vis our "in between" status, "the quest is never-ending -- the goal is always beyond because God is infinite and incomprehensible." Nevertheless, "the quest is joy in itself." As such, "Philo can be seen to have developed a mysticism of love and yearning for God in himself, in his unknowability" (ibid).


Thursday, October 04, 2012

Banging the Boards with Your Cosmic Big Man

As children develop, it is as if certain neurological windows open for the purpose of imprinting various things, e.g., speech, attachment, basic trust, etc.

For example, when the language window is open, children learn to speak with the greatest of ease. After it closes, it becomes much more of a challenge. My kid picks up Mandarin as easily as I forget what happened yesterday.

I wonder if something similar occurs with the collective? I was thinking about the so-called axial age, when so many of the world's major revelations were downloaded. Was there something analogous to a historo-developmental window that made such divine-human communication more fluid and "present"? It would certainly explain a lot.

Voegelin notes that the Pentateuch starts to be assembled and organized by the sixth century "and is substantially completed in the first half of the fourth century B.C." Additional scripture is downloaded later, and debates about what to include and exclude are wrapped up by the second century A.D. You might say that the revelational window has closed.

How do we know when revelation is occurring, how long it is going on, and when it ends? Whatever the case may be, "By a remarkable feat of mythical imagination," a testament is assembled "against the pressure of competing wisdoms," with the purpose of revealing "once and for all the mystery of divine creativity in the cosmos as well as man's existence in society and history" (Voegelin). Well played!

It seems to me that this is something one couldn't do if one were "trying," and perhaps that provides an insight into why such a thing couldn't occur today.

As alluded to at the top, who but a child is able to be so empty and fluid as to effortlessly download language? Who but a child can listen so well, without even trying? Perhaps it's the same with premodern man, whose mind must have been so uncluttered compared to ours.

It reminds me of something the great Chick Hearn once said about a certain beast of a power forward, maybe Karl Malone: "He's got muscles in places I don't even have places!"

Similarly, modern man has thoughts and ideas and concepts and lies and trivia in places premodern men didn't even have places. The mind must have been like a beautiful and expansive clear blue sky (so long as the person wasn't overrun by mind parasites).

Become as children. Interesting word, become. It means to come into being. You wouldn't say be a child, much less regress to childhood. To become implies bringing something new into existence, not reverting to a previous stage. A child is a person to whom one gives birth.

Back to scripture. Again, it is impossible to believe that anyone -- and certainly no committee! -- could be creative enough to pull it off. Indeed, it reminds me of dreaming, which we all surely do, but which none of us can consciously produce. Sure, we can be creative, but imagine being able to close your eyes and enter a world as vivid and seemingly real as dreams are. Can't do it. Although I do wonder about someone like Shakespeare, or someone like Mozart vis-a-vis musical worlds.

At any rate, Voegelin agrees that this business of scripture can't simply be "dismissed as clever invention," because no one is that clever. Indeed think of someone like L. Ron Hubbard, who thought he was clever enough to invent a religion. The best he can manage is bad but very expensive science fiction.

Nor could a manmade invention "remain historically effective for two thousand years," much less "mobilize the experience of the comprehensive, prepersonal reality breaking forth into self-illuminating truth." Who can do that? I would say that truly great works of art do something similar, but only by way of pale analogy.

Note the fundamental difference between Judaism and Christianity. The former revolves around laws which are disclosed to the collective. The collective attempts to discern and comport with the law in order to become "divinized," so to speak. In other words, by following God's will, the group will manifest some of the sanctity and holiness that emanate from the divine reality.

With Christianity the accent shifts to the individual, or in my opinion to an individuality that could only have been incubated in the prior Judaic matrix (which means womb). It is fair to say that subsequent to the appearance of Christ, the Church stands for both the Virgin and for Israel, as a kind of saint-making -- or sanctity enabling -- thingummy. A womb, as it were... So yes, do vote with your lady parts.

What I mean is that the earthly measure of a revelation and tradition is its saint-making capacity. With reference again to L. Ron, we know Scientology isn't a real religion because it never has and never will product a saint, and the only sanctity in it is transparently phony. It's a womb alright -- for idiots and psychopaths.

So with the appearance of Christ we have this new insight of "the universal presence of divine reality as the source of illumination in every man." In other words, the shift is from law to light, and collective to individual. (And of course, the same shift may be seen in esoteric Judaism, i.e., Kabbalah, if I am not mishuggen.)

Recall what was said above about the divinization of the community. In Christ we have the full instantiation, the maximal presence, of divinity in the individual, in a way that man can never achieve on his own, irrespective of how much effort he puts into it, or how hard he pulls on his own buddhastraps. So the appearance of Christ is good news / bad news.

The bad news? He has muscles in places you don't have places.

The good news? "by responding to this maximal fullness through faith," men may "achieve the fullness of their own existence" (Voegelin).

Out of time. As always, I apologize in advance to our Jewish friends for misunderstanding / misrepresenting / misconscrewing up anything. I'm just winging it, in case no one's noticed.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

¡¿ Out of This World ?!

The world is not of this world. Or, the world has an exit out of itself. This exit is called Man.

You no doubt recall page 181, where man is confronted with the option of being pulled back into the hivemind or moving upward, into a "new dimension beyond the boundaries of the senses."

Yes, our uptight furbears "began envisioning and longing for the whole, for an ideal existence located somewhere in the past, an eden, or in the future, a heaven, where all tensions are resolved, the circle is unbroken, and we are returned to the source from whence we came."

Blah blah blah, the earliest definitive documentation of conscious human awareness of the exit appears in the Upanishads, which were probably composed between 1,000 and 600 BC.

Looks like Voegelin concurs: "The finest early explorations of the movement in this second [read: vertical] direction are certain dialogues of the Upanishads," which take the reader up and out of the horizontal, to what the Vedic seers call Brahman.

Which is what now?

"It is not a further knowable thing; it rather is the reality at which the questioning has to stop, not because the movement has been futile, but because this reality, by its position beyond the knowable hierarchy of things, reveals itself as the answer to the questioning ascent."

The movement of history results in further differentiation of this compact truth, for example, in Augustine's insight "that the super-reflective truth, when reached by the reflective ascent, illuminates the questioning as a response to the movement of divine presence in the soul."

By now you will have gnosissed that the very quest-ion which motivates the quest for the aeon -- which we symbolize (?!) for the sacred WTF -- "leads to the Beyond of the world because it is not altogether of the world in which it is asked."

In other worlds, not only does (↑) evoke (↓), but in the end -- or top -- it turns out that (↑) and (↓) were allone allalong.

Hohohoho, Mister Finn, you're going to be Mister Finnagain!

Note however that this is a differentiated one, "a movement of revelatory appeal from the divine side and a countermovement of apperceptive and imaginative response from the human side." In other words, "Both appeal and response belong to the one reality that becomes luminous in the experience."

So we really have a threesome here, although it is more difficult to conceptualize the Third than it is the first two. I am reminded of a passage by Eliot: Who is the third who walks always beside you? / When I count, there are only you and I together / But when I look ahead up the white road / There is always another one walking beside you.

This touches on the famous space we have discussed in the past, where it all goes down. It is the immaterial space inhabited and colonized by humans. When my seven year-old asks why he has to go to school, I respond as any parent would: "Why do you think? So you can colonize hyperspace and not be a moron."

It goes without saying that many things can go wrong with this space, for the simple reason that they can go right.

For example, as Voegelin describes, the space can become "eclipsed" if our two partners -- divine and human -- are reified into a rigid duality, or compressed into a single entity. Doing so destroys "the dynamics of movement and counter-movement in the event of reality becoming luminous," resulting in "a wasteland of static objects."

Respect the space!

Voegelin makes another subtle point about the relationship between language and the Space. Because this space is a kind of living byproduct of the divine-human encounter, it is a mistake for the serious pneumanaut to try to overburden it with a lot of predigested language.

Rather, give this space some space. Let it breathe. Enter it and let language take care of itself, as I am doodling at the moment. Otherwise you run the risk of superimposing the lower on the higher, or the terrestrial on the celestial, i.e., deepaking the chopra.

Eh, that's it for today. Gotta get some work done.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Spending Time Out of Time in a Space Out of Space

We're still meditating on the Beginning and the Beyond, two constructs that are trickier than common usage would suggest. To put it bluntly, we don't really know what we're talking about when we use these words.

Rather, they are more like empty placeholders that designate a limit or boundary -- in this case, the boundary between finite and infinite; or just say knowable and unknowable, like a flashlight that illuminates a spherical area and leaves everything else in darkness. The finite is just a little luminous space in the infinite.

In space we are aware of four cardinal directions (north, west, east, and south), plus up and down. Likewise, in time we are aware of two directions that extend out from the present. But "as he moves in either of the two directions," writes Voegelin, "man the questioner will find himself both frustrated and illumined."

Try to imagine the situation of premodern man confronted with the enigma of time. It's both more difficult and easier than you might think, because each of us is superimposed, so to speak, on a premodern man, just as we are on a mammal (the midbrain) and a reptile (the hindbrain).

You might say that the whole phenomenon of existentialism emerged as a result of modern men who were suddenly denied the comforting -- and containing -- myths of antiquity, and therefore had to confront the vastness of time and space with no map and no direction home.

Thus, a Pascal -- who was not an existentialist but could see where history was headed -- described the terror of "the eternal silence of these infinite spaces," and of being "engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces whereof I know nothing, and which know nothing of me."


So: "As he moves back on the time line," man will soon enough "discover the regress to be indefinite." One will not find any kind of beginning in time; rather, only more time, time after time.

Recall what was said above about the six directions of space and the two directions of time. It turns out that there two additional directions that extend out from the present. Let's just call them Up and Down; thus, in the present moment we may face forward, backward, up, or down.

The Up and Down need to be emphasized, for it is only because of them that it is possible to "see" the forward and the backward. Animals, for example, don't have a history because they have no vantage point to see -- or make -- it. They are both in and of time, whereas man is of time but partly of something else as well.

I won't dwell on it, but we've just hit on one of the essential distinctions between left and right. For the left there is no vantage point outside history, and thus no universal or permanent truths. Rather, everything is conditioned by history, and this historicism condemns man to be both in and of time, full stop.

Of course, no leftist believes this consistently or in his bones, because a leftist is still a man, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto. Every leftist will still speak passionately of "social justice" or "women's rights" or "marriage equality," as if these things can exist outside his animal desires.

Back to the Beginning. Again, searching for it backward in time is (literally) a non-starter.

Okay, what about down? Good choice! "The ground [man] is seeking is to be found, not in the things of the cosmos and their time dimension, but in the mystery of a creative beginning of the cosmos in a time out of time."

Language suitable for describing profane time and space begins to break down when we try to apply it to higher and lower dimensions. Nevertheless, we need not "abandon the directional index" of before and after, "but use it analogically to symbolize the divinely-creative beginning of a reality that has a time dimension after all."

In other words, we are using the word "beginning," but applying it to the vertical instead of the horizontal. In so doing, this "analogical symbol will denote... a beginning in the analogical time of a creation story." The myths that arise from this ground serve to articulate "the truth of a cosmos that is not altogether of this world."

WE ALL KNOW -- on pain of cashing in our humanness -- that neither we nor the cosmos are reducible to This World. If that weren't the case, then you wouldn't even be free to disagree with me.

Therefore, "the reality of things, it appears, cannot be fully understood in terms of the world and its time; for the things are circumfused by an ambience of mystery that can be understood only in terms of the Myth."

Good word, "circumfused."

More miraculous than the creation story itself is the miracle of a human imagination that finds the symbols to express a myth that is adequate to the (infinite) subject. As we've mentioned before, the more one studies Genesis, the more one is convinced that it must have a divine source -- or that it specifically flourishes in the vertical space between man and God (no less today than 3,000 years ago).

We're talking about illiterate nomads on the lam here, not theologians or metaphysicians writing from the comfort of their book-lined slackatoreums. And yet, they came up with something to keep theologians and metaphysicians busy forever.

As Voegelin writes, we are converging on the reality "of an imagination and a language that is itself... not altogether of this world."

You don't say.

True, but you never stop trying.

Not much "time" this morning. "Out!"

(Unless otherwise indicated, all the quotes are from Voegelin)