Thursday, March 28, 2013

Turning Faint Signals into Cosmic Vibes

The redemption of reality is the function of the imagination. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

So: human beings are constantly attending and responding to a spectrum of information that is somehow "embedded" in the cosmos and "radiates" outward.

Conversely, a mere animal attends only to things that have a direct bearing on survival or pleasure. A dog, for example, will just fall asleep if there are no walks or no food in the offing.

In my opinion, this capacity of ours is rooted in developmental psychology, specifically, the vicissitudes of attachment in the neurologically incomplete infant. As a result of this, our very being is intersubjective right down to the ground.

Of course, this still begs the question of how intersubjectivity could get into the cosmos to begin with. In my view, it is because ultimate reality is irreducibly trinitarian. We are members of one another because this is a reflection of the interior economy of the Godhead.

I think Alexander errs in attempting to hitch his empirical / phenomenological findings to a scientific metaphysic. I can see that by the fourth volume he begins to slip in the G-word, but it is almost in an apologetic way.

Nor does he do so in the context of any actual theology, just in a vague sort of mystical way. I'm not necessarily criticizing him, because there was a time that I might have attempted the same thing, i.e., to toss out religion and tradition but retain God (or at least the experience of this thing people have historically called "God").

The bottom line is that Alexander is often speaking of God -- or better, O -- without seeming to realize it.

For example, he describes the feeling he is looking for in an effective design: "It is some ultimate, beyond experience. When I reach for it, I try to find -- I can partly feel -- the illumination of existence, a glimpse of that ultimate. It is always the same thing at root. Yet, of course, it takes an infinite variety of forms."

This is O, as it undergoes transformation from eternity to time. Or, just say "transformation in O."

He even speaks of how the most sublime examples of what he is talking about have occurred in a mystico-religious context, but he doesn't seem to put one and one and one together -- as if there is no transhuman input (↓) going on, and that, say, the designers of Chartres just had really good taste.

Similarly, he speaks of encountering the "I" "in a work of art, or a work of nature, which makes one feel related to it." This "I" is none other than the personal / intersubjective nature of existence, as alluded to above.

We all recognize it, for the simple reason that we are persons. It is nothing that anyone needs to "prove," because the experience of it is as constant as it is unavoidable. It is never not happening, unless one is autistic, blunted, or soul-damaged in some other way.

Nevertheless, there are obviously degrees of sensitivity to it. But in any event, atheism is not something anyone can ever experience. Rather, it is a mental abstraction that can only be imagined, never lived.

What Alexander has attempted to do in his life and work -- and I'll let others decide whether he has succeeded -- is to "amplify" the sense of personhood that is provoked in these architectural encounters with O. In this regard, I don't think he's doing anything different from an expert or connoisseur in any field. It certainly pertains to the religious matters we discuss here.

I spoke of this in the book, for example, with respect to the symbol (), which stands for the sympathetic resonance that occurs between us and a more evolved human fleshlight. This resonance "amplifies" our own signal, and as we grow spiritually, we are better able to receive the signal.

In other words, the communication is occurring all the time. The limiting factor is our capacity to receive it. Alexander wants to amplify our ability to receive and create beauty.

I'm just flipping through the book page by page, so this post may be a bit disorganized.

On page 8, Alexander mentions one of his key findings, that "it is in the nature of matter, that it is soaked through with self or 'I.'"

I agree entirely, but he seems to think he can better articulate this via science than religious metaphysics. I disagree. Science is posterior to metaphysics, and I think he's falling into the very trap he decries by trying to subordinate his ideas to science.

For example, you wouldn't say God is nonlocal because the quantum world is. Rather, vice versa: the world is nonlocal because God is. Likewise, we don't say that God must be love because human beings are capable of love. Rather, we love because God does.

Alexander wants to heal the "bifurcation of nature" (into the object/subject duality) that occurred with the scientific revolution, but you don't do that by trying to force science into being something it isn't. Rather, you do so by putting everything in its proper place in the scheme of things. Obviously, science is not, and can never be, at the top.

Little time this morning. We'll leave you with another aphorism or three by Don Colacho, a cosmotherapist who finally gets me:

If man is the sole end of man, an inane reciprocity is born from that principle, like the mutual reflection of two empty mirrors. And

The natural and supernatural are not overlapping planes, but intertwined threads. And

The scientific proposition presents an abrupt alternative: understanding it or not understanding it. The philosophical proposition, however, is susceptible to growing insight. Finally, the religious proposition is a vertical ascent that allows one to see the same landscape from different altitudes.

16 Comments:

Blogger swiftone said...

There is a photo of me as a tot, atop the family fridge, hunched down to take a leap. Mother informed me that I never did jump. (I remember being caught.) I've not read any of Alexander, but there he is atop the fridge, unwilling to make that little jump. Faith can come lots of ways. For some of us, it's as simple as falling off our own "high horse."

3/28/2013 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger swiftone said...

There is a photo of me as a tot, atop the family fridge, hunched down to take a leap. Mother informed me that I never did jump. (I remember being caught.) I've not read any of Alexander, but there he is atop the fridge, unwilling to make that little jump. Faith can come lots of ways. For some of us, it's as simple as falling off our own "high horse."

3/28/2013 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger swiftone said...

Hmmm... usually I can't post. Today I get mulitples. Ok.

3/28/2013 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

If man is the sole end of man, an inane reciprocity is born from that principle, like the mutual reflection of two empty mirrors.

Without the light that shines between them, the two mirrors would just be two flat rocks.

3/28/2013 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

A dog, for example, will just fall asleep if there are no walks or no food in the offing.

As my nephew said about golf, "If I'm that bored, I can always take a nap."

For example, he describes the feeling he is looking for in an effective design: "It is some ultimate, beyond experience. When I reach for it, I try to find -- I can partly feel -- the illumination of existence, a glimpse of that ultimate. It is always the same thing at root. Yet, of course, it takes an infinite variety of forms."


Sounds Platonic, that ideal that is within all of us that responses to Yosemite because it reminds us of something we know is out there. It looks like home.


In other words, the communication is occurring all the time. The limiting factor is our capacity to receive it.


This is something that I return to over and over. I think it has probably kept me from going completely insane.


The natural and supernatural are not overlapping planes, but intertwined threads.


Whoa. I really like that one. It appeals to the developer in me.

3/28/2013 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

"it is in the nature of matter, that it is soaked through with self or 'I.'" ...or Mind---even that matter which you might insist no one is aware of, occurs only to a Mind...but ah wouldn't say that's the matter's fault or doing, but Mind's!
Because matter isnt ultimately there upon examination and pulverization, just space is

3/28/2013 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Matter: the lumps in your mashed light.

3/28/2013 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Wo---there's the new Pope washing -kissing inmates' tootsies
Caramba! that's wild, revolutionary, a touch of creepy?

3/28/2013 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Does this matter?

"Light itself is always invisible. We see only things, only objects, not
light."
-Zajonc's "Catching the Light: The
Entwined History of Light and Mind:"

3/28/2013 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Well, if you follow the concept of his Wholeness, you come to the conclusion that the wholeness is maybe not the cause of itself (since the parts are made 'parts of a whole' by the wholeness and not the other way around - observe the growth a plant and this is obvious, it only gets muddled when we have to construct parts to assemble the predefined whole that we get lost) but rather, wholeness exists because of the anterior wholeness that creates - the I AM of God.

3/29/2013 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Light is only what is seen but is always invisible. Matter is invisible but when light comes, we see only matter. (Think of how cones and rods work to get the paradox.)

I think there's a corollary between the Spirit and the Son inherent to these contradictions.

3/29/2013 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Open Trench said...

How about Peyote to amplify the cosmic vibe?

Does the use of substances help the soul, harm it, some combinations of the two, or none of the above?

Quanah Parker stated:

The White Man goes into church to talk about Jesus.

The Indian goes into the tipi to talk to Jesus.

Thoughts?

3/29/2013 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Dougman said...

Does the use of substances help the soul, harm it, some combinations of the two, or none of the above?

Afflicting one's self is used in many ceremonies & rituals.

Don't know if they can help the soul but I would be interested to see some research results in controlled settings of the natural substances that are used.

3/30/2013 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Back in the day, one of Timothy Leary's controlled experiments involved Harvard divinity school students. Half were given Psilocybin, the other half placebos. It might even have been Good Friday, if memory serves.

At any rate, something like 90% of the dosed group met God, or at least thought they did. Problem is, you can't take psilocybin on a daily basis. Besides, transient states mean nothing if they aren't transformed into enduring traits.

3/30/2013 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

Mushrooms! Agh...
Yeah, I never cared for hallucinations.
Now the psychotic episode I experienced was a joy as well as an I-opener.

3/30/2013 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter!

3/31/2013 08:43:00 PM  

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