If You're Bored, You're Wrong
I know. Tragedy. Progress in theology will be set back for at least another 24 hours.
If the world is a reflection of the Creator, then we shouldn't be surprised that it is neither a radical One -- a featureless monad -- nor a disorganized mess of a Many. Rather, we should expect to see wholeness everywhere we look.
A typical case would be DNA, each part of which contains all of the information necessary to create the whole.
More generally, we see that wholeness -- which is a state of irreducible interior relatedness of part and whole -- appears in a different way at each level of the cosmic hierarchy. On the plane of physics, for example, we see it in the phenomenon of nonlocality; in biology, the ecosystem; in man, intersubjectivity; in spirit, the Trinity.
By the way, I was pleased to discover an analogue of the Trinity in Judaism. In his excellent The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning, Rabbi Sacks writes of how in Genesis God is initially called Elohim, "a noun meaning roughly the totality of forces operating in the universe." Exterior and impersonal, as it were.
However, a little later he is called Hashem, which might be understood as "the transcendental reality of interpersonal relations," which is how and why "our experience of God mirrors our experience of other people."
The deeper point is that we are not related to the world in some superficial manner, like two objects placed side by side. That is exterior relationship. In contrast, interior relationship is an intrinsic connection, more in manner of how the parts of our body relate.
But there again, that is only a biological analogy. On the psychological -- i.e., cognitive and emotional -- planes, it means that there is a kind of endlessly extended space between any two subjects. It is obviously the case between two human beings, in which you can spend your whole life exploring and deepening that space with just one other person.
But it is also true with the non-human world, which is why there is no end to any discipline. There is no conceivable end to physics, for the same reason we'll never run out of poems or melodies.
Rather, we are assured a kind of endless harvest for the very reason that we are not God. Or, to be perfectly accurate, because 1) God is, and 2) because we are not him. You might say that this formula results in a burning bush that can never be consumed, or in a hidden source of nourishment that prevents us from ever going hungry.
For Alexander it means that "the character of this relatedness is not invented or concocted in our minds, but actual." It is the prior condition of everything.
Furthermore, the relation is always personal, but not in the impossibly atomistic manner of subreal modern science, but rather, in the retrofuturistic manner I have discussed over the previous 2,500 or so posts.
It can hardly be overemphasized that this is entirely consistent with the way we experience the world. It is not an abstraction. Rather, the problem is that, over the course of a lifetime of indoctrination, we superimpose a psychopneumatic grid of scientistic abstractions over the world, and then wonder why it has lost its savor.
Here is a hint: if you are ever bored, you are wrong. And I mean this ontologically, where there is no word for boredom. Rather, you should call it what it is: deadness, the deadness that results inevitably from being a closed system.
It is a truism that a closed system is dead, and that we die when we are no longer an open system. What is not generally understood is that openness is the prior condition, and deadness the secondary condition.
We cannot create life. Rather, we can only live or encounter it. We can, however, "create" death, so to speak. Once you recognize this, you experience signs of life -- and of death -- everywhere. You see how the left has managed to create a culture of death, or why television has all the life of a stagnant pond.
Again, Alexander is simply taking these ideas seriously and drawing out their implications in his chosen field of architecture. Thus, he writes of how it is only in connection with deeply "living things that I am fully real."
However, this life is coming from both ends of the relation, and is a mutually reinforcing and deepening spiral. He writes of how this relatedness "is the most fundamental, most vivid way in which I exist as a human being" (italics in original).
Under such naturally supernatural conditions we experience ourselves as we "truly are," that is, "a creature which is undivided and a part of everything: a small extension of a greater and infinite self."
I think this intense bond between man and cosmos accounts for the erotics of being, in which our lives consist of a kind of journey whereby (in the words of Christopher Bollas we discover our idiom, our unique soulstench, our fingerprint with no hands. We find our(prior)self through attraction to the various cultural objects, experiences, and persons we need in order to actualize it.
Well, the man with the sledgehammer is here, and it's challenging enough to do this when the walls aren't tumbling down around me. But if you search "Bollas" on the blog, you'll probably find a lot more on this subject of using the cosmos to discover yourself. Or is it the cosmos deploying you to articulate itself?