Monday, July 22, 2013

Oases of Slack in the Ideological Desert

I find myself in that neutral blandscape between what I had been blogging about and what I will be or could be blogging about, but with no impulsion to proceed one way or the other.

In fact, "impulsion" is the wrong word, because it only works when it is an attraction. Trying to push one's way in is like trying to press Jello through a small hole -- a hole called the present. I long ago gave up trying to do that. Much easier to be sucked up and in through the hole.

Also, we're still being plagued by the Great Remodeling. Might seem like a small thing to you, but I can't even enter my own liberatoreum today because the hazmat pests are removing the cottage cheese ceiling (which apparently contains an infinitesimal amount of asbestos). Had to remove every last object from the Divine Orifice -- the sacred omphalos of Upper Tonga -- which is beyond overkill, but this is California. I'm sure it's more dangerous walking to the mailbox and exposing oneself to the sun.

So I'm sitting here in utterly unfamiliar blogging territory, at the dining room table, and it's just not the same.

I know. First World Problems.

Every day I have to start all over, but at least there's a trace of continuity. Then again, this condition of wandering in the bewilderness is a permanent feature of human existence in tension toward the divine ground, as Voegelin puts it. I read his Autobiographical Reflections over the weekend, and he says that the essential task of philosophy -- real, literal philosophy -- is to live in the erotic tension toward transcendent wisdom:

"The center of consciousness I found to be the experience of participation, meaning thereby the reality of being in contact with reality outside myself." Thus, human consciousness "is neither in the subject nor in the world of objects but In-Between, and that means In-Between the poles of man and the reality that he experiences."

This obviously cannot be explained by -- or reduced to -- biology, because this mysterious "place" is nowhere to be found in the physical world. Rather, it is specifically in between a physical world and a world of pure transcendence at the other end. Thus the soul is the loving "sensorium of transcendence" (i.e., a love directed toward the transcendent ground).

In the past I have referred to this as the "transitional space" (coined by the psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott), and it is the discovery, colonization, and expansion of this space that characterizes our human journey -- or exodeus -- through the bewilderness.

The bewilderness -- the desert, if you like -- is this very space, and one cannot collapse this space without cashing in one's humanness to one degree or another. It is always "dehumanizing" to do so, but that hardly stops humans from doing it.

And in our day, the principle way to do it is via ideology, e.g., positivism, scientism, leftism, Darwinism, or any other dogma that freezes us at one end or the other of this Great Divide where all the light gets in.

One cannot turn this space into an object or system, as much as man tries to do so. Rather, it is "a flow of participatory reality in which reality becomes luminous to itself" (Voegelin). Nowhere else but here can the light be seen -- or participated in, to be precise.

What is so shocking is that this mysterious space is ordered. Why should it be ordered? I would say for the same reason we discover order at the levels of physics and biology. "By order," writes Voegelin, "is meant the structure of reality as experienced as well as the attunement of man to an order that is not of his making, i.e., the cosmic order."

To exist outside this order is to exist in a state of alienation, and the purpose of ideology is to "cure" this alienation in a way that only perpetuates itself (which is why, for example, leftism can never work, especially to the extent that it works). Alienation from the divine ground -- or logos -- is not only a "withdrawal from oneself" but "from reason in existence," so no manmade system can put the truthpaste back into the tube.

One who tries to do so must inevitably "arrive at the death of God, not because God is dead but because divine reason has been rejected in the egophanic revolt" -- the latter defined as "defiant self assertion claiming independence from a transcendent ground."

Which would be fine, if the ideologues would simply leave us alone. But "Anybody with an informed and reflective mind" can see that we are "hemmed in, if not oppressed, from all sides by a flood of ideological language..."

And one "cannot deal with the users of ideological language as partners in a discussion" -- i.e., you can't reason with a liberal. Rather, one can only "make them the object of investigation" (and insultainment, I might add).

We may take comfort in the fact that this is hardly the first time in history that "language has been degraded and corrupted to such a degree that it can no longer be used for expressing the truth of existence" (ibid). Moreover, "there are always enclaves" where one may continue the journey despite "the intellectual terrorism of institutions such as the mass media, university departments, foundations, and commercial publishing houses."

To paraphrase Voegelin, no one -- at least in the west -- is obligated to participate in the aberrations, disorders, deformities, and perversions of his day. But it's a constant struggle against the hostile, infrahuman forces that would compel us to do so.

23 Comments:

Blogger Rick said...

"To paraphrase Voegelin, no one -- at least in the west -- is obligated to participate in the aberrations, disorders, deformities, and perversions of his day."

There is a wonderful scene in The Passion movie where Pontius Pilate says to Jesus who is standing there beaten to a pulp; Pilate says to the effect, "If you would just speak, I can put an end to all this..." By that he means: admit that you are a fraud and that everything they just said is true. To which Jesus replies to the effect, "You think you're in charge here?"

7/22/2013 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Why "erotic" tension?

7/22/2013 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Refers to the literal meaning of philo-sophy, i.e., love of wisdom and truth (as opposed to dominating, possessing or despising; or, all the various forms of philo-doxy, i.e., love of opinion.

7/22/2013 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Not sure what's gained by the Greek, but no matter.

Walker Percy has this nice passage about the deflated feeling he gets when returning to the mundane. 'Peak' feeling is difficult to sustain.

There's a zone of feeling, a state of zoe, that meshes well with a calm desire for O. Think Magician from MOTT, or the Hermit, instead of dirty old Socrates.

Summer slack is a beautiful thing. The mulberries are ripe, the garden is warm, and we just had rain. Work is steady. Lunch is quiet. There's jazz at night.

7/22/2013 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Philozoe also works.

7/22/2013 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Incidentally, there was a nice first reading at Mass this Sunday. The Lord appeared to Abraham in the guise of three men, whom Abraham and Sarah then welcomed and fed. In return, their welcome received divine fertility. It's the state of hospitality that can be maintained, which then makes miraculous things possible.

Just wanted to enthuse.

7/22/2013 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

dirty old Socrates

Don't know why, but that cracks me up.

One cannot turn this space into an object or system, as much as man tries to do so.

And that's how idolatry is born...

7/22/2013 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Leftism violates the first and tenth commandments way before the stealing and killing start.

7/22/2013 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Or looked at another way, that's how some people end up worshiping the finger instead of looking toward where it's pointing...

7/22/2013 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oops - talking out of order. But to your point, that reminds me of something that occurred to me after last night's barbecue discussion: from the standpoint of Cain and Abel, I guess meat really is murder.

7/22/2013 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Might seem like a small thing to you, but I can't even enter my own liberatoreum today ...

No, it's not a small thing. I work from home almost all the time and my office is like my head. My wife does not understand why I get so upset when she decides to move stuff around without me. How would you like it if somebody started randomly rearranging your thoughts?

7/22/2013 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Walker Percy is the perfect writer for this summer. He understood signs.

7/22/2013 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

How would you like it if somebody started randomly rearranging your thoughts?

Ha! That describes my typical day.

7/22/2013 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Might seem like a small thing to you, but I can't even enter my own liberatoreum today because..."

Ohhh can I ever relate. I have been so out of sorts since the tornado, I can hardly get a post together. No liberatoreum at all, only a foot of books available from it, but those are in the bedroom, not the dining room, but everyone and everything else is sure in there.. .

All of my timelessness is out of joint.

Gone with the wind....

7/22/2013 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Seems like there's a lot of personal space upheaval going on around these parts lately. I think you got it the worst though, Van. I hope your house is put to rights very soon.

7/22/2013 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

"All kings are created equal"

7/22/2013 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Julie said "I hope your house is put to rights very soon."

Thanks Julie. Of course we had the best bad luck possible, no one was injured, most of our possessions are just fine, though locked away in storage, and we've got a secure and dry (and tiny) place to stay... but it's weird all the same.

We keep giving each other the look we give when shopping that says "Yeah, nothing more to see here, lets go"... but there's no going yet.

I stopped by the house yesterday, all the carpets are torn out, the drywall is stripped from the upstairs walls, most of the remaining ceilings are gone, and you can see all the 2x4's & trusses that were just cracked and split and wrenched apart by it... doesn't really have that 'home sweet home' feeling anymore... more of a "♫ ♪♬ Should I stay or should I go now... ♬♪♫" one.

Oh well, on with the show.

7/23/2013 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"One cannot turn this space into an object or system, as much as man tries to do so. Rather, it is "a flow of participatory reality in which reality becomes luminous to itself" (Voegelin). Nowhere else but here can the light be seen -- or participated in, to be precise."

It I-opening though, to discover how much of your colonized space, you had unconsciously linked up with external landmarks, and how disoriented you can feel, even though you can still very clearly 'see' the lay of the interior landscape, but without the familiar external signposts... it's like looking at a satellite picture with and without the mapped & marked rivers, roads, etc.

The reality is still there, and you recognize it... but... it's not complete.

7/23/2013 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

I think anarchists would probably have a shockingly intense experience of this if they ever (momentarily) got their way.

7/23/2013 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"One who tries to do so must inevitably "arrive at the death of God, not because God is dead but because divine reason has been rejected in the egophanic revolt" -- the latter defined as "defiant self assertion claiming independence from a transcendent ground.""

Back to the Lord of the Rings, someone once spoke about the Wraithing process, that possessing the One Ring, or any of the lesser ones, gradually 'thinned' a person's soul, until finally they disappeared. That quest for, and exercise of Power over reality (in the traditional or I imagine the erotic sense as well), rather than Reasoning with and through it, separates you from the depth of what is actually real and true, and affixes you to the flat materiality you desire... though are increasingly unsatisfied by.

At some point I suppose you can't take the ring off and you go all Belushi, Elvis, Monteith on it.

Fiction. Right. Gotta love a good joke.

7/23/2013 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Sorry, Van. I had no idea about the storm when I made that silly ref to Dorothy Gale.
Prayers to you and family..

7/23/2013 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Van, prayers.

7/23/2013 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

I am weiner woman hear me woar

can we say: 'shove it you nitwit!'

7/24/2013 07:35:00 AM  

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