Bob's Weekend Acid Trip
For man -- who, as explained in the previous post, is "condemned to transcendence" -- this extraordinary condition is our ordinary condition, a kind of inexhaustible, or perpetually renewable, supernatural re-source. As such, deviations from the pattern -- especially when systematic and not just occasional or accidental -- are intrinsically pneumopathological.
You'll have to excuse me if this comes out more awkwordly than usual, because I'm trying to type with one or perhaps 1.25 hands, due to a little "gardening accident." Short story shorter, I was atop a ladder, trimming some branches that overhang the pool. Need I say more?
In this case, yes, because I believe there are mitigating circumstances. As a largish branch became unmoored and descended toward the pool, I instinctively -- I would say skillfully -- wife would say foolishly -- grabbed the branch with my customary lightning reflexes.
This set in motion a chain of events that, as they say, "all happened so fast" -- way too fast for my life to flash before me (but not too fast for my death to so flash). First of all, the branch was heftier than visual inspection had foreseen, pulling me in the direction of the pool.
Which would have been fine -- fun and games for all, as dad falls into the pool! -- except that on this particular day, the pool happened to be full of acid. Yes, part of the resurfacing process involves putting sufficient acid in the pool to eat away the new surface and expose the colorful aggregate of minerals beneath.
Faced with the choice of a brick nap or an acid bath, I chose the former. Again, it a. h. s. f. The last thing I remember is my foot missing the rung, followed by, "wo, Dad, are you okay? I'll get mom!"
Meanwhile, the ladder was nowhere to be seen. Oh, there it is, at the bottom of the pool! Don't worry, though. We fished it out before it disintegrated.
The main injury is to the left hand and wrist. Near as I can tell, I must have hyperextended the whole area -- wrist, fingers, and thumb -- backwards as I touched down and landed on it. The hand is now swollen to at least twice its original size, but remarkably, I don't think anything's broken. But typing with it is like trying to use Joe Biden's brain to think. Pretty much a blunt instrument.
So, with that out of the way, back to our subject. Using my little arboreal adventure as a cautionary metaphor, man is always on the ladder -- or vertical eschaltor -- between his source and destiny, the beginning and the beyond. And we can fall in two directions, even though we inevitably land in the same place.
The myths of Adam and Prometheus and Kramden (variants of which are sprinkled throughout Finnegans Wake) warn us of what happens if we become so full of ourselves that we fall too high. This was the usual way until about 300 years ago, whence began the collective resistance to theology and metaphysics -- which was initially confined to a handful of infertile eggheads before spreading to the rabble of tenured apes laboring in Blake's dark satanic diploma mills.
Remember, man's proper place is on the ladder between transcendence and immanence, pruning the Upanishadic tree, with its nonlocal roots aloft and local branches herebelow. All the while being mindful of that fulsome acid pit just south of us.
For Voegelin it is more or less a constant struggle to "overcome the devastating effects of this deformation of philosophy." It is devastating collectively, of course, but it first must devastate -- or literally lay waste to -- the individual soul.
With great understatement, he makes reference to "the numerous unfortunates of the 19th and 20th centuries, who were denied" access to "the grace of God" -- grace revolving around the vertical energy flow that can only occur on the ladder, between the beginning and the beyond. If one steps -- or falls -- from the ladder, one is subject to a pervertical counterflow that energizes all forms of modern political Gonosticism.
Not to shift gears too violently, but did you know there is something called an "O machine"? I learned this from Gilder's Knowledge and Power, which I would consider a must-read. He doesn't say much about it, but it sure sounds familiar. It was invented -- or posited -- by the all around genius Alan Turing:
"Turing imagined a deterministic computing machine that made non-deterministic leaps when necessary by consulting 'a kind of oracle, as it were. We shall not go any further into the nature of the oracle apart from saying that it cannot be a machine.'" In other words, let's keep it unsaturated, and not reduce it to one of our logical categories.
This speculative "machine" is "closer to the way real intelligence works," and is a necessary consequence of Gödel's theorems, which of course prove that no logical system can account for the principles and axioms upon which it is based. For Gödel, this did not mean that truth is inaccessible. Rather, the miracle, as it were, is that we can access transcendent truth despite the closed nature of our immanent logico-mathematical systems.
I would suggest that the mind itself is an "O machine," meaning that it is able to construct horizontal systems without becoming enclosed in them, because of our constant engagement with O.
The moral of the story? Don't blame the ladder for your failure to climb on board, for your own fall, or for its failure to reach all the way to heaven. It's just a ladder, not an obstacle and not the oracle.
So that's it for today. Hand is starting to ache a bit.