On the Nature of Our Prison
But for the materialist, this is utterly untrue. Rather, he is condemned to immanence -- i.e., to a completely intramundane existence -- and has no access to transcendence at all.
Which is funny, because if man really has no access to transcendence, he wouldn't even have a name for it. One might say -- no, one must say, in order to be consistent -- that if transcendence doesn't exist, man cannot know it. For to know it is to touch the very transcendence one denies.
Nevertheless, it is this question of transcendence that fundamentally divides left and right, or conservative liberals and illiberal leftists.
The question of transcendence is closely related to that of language -- or to symbolism more generally. When we were more animal than human -- remember? -- it was quite frustrating to be unable to symbolize our subjective states and communicate them to those around us.
But gradually we were inducted and plugged into our culture's symbolic matrix, which was a huge relief. No longer were we reduced to shrieking and throwing tantrums in order to get attention. In short, we were no longer leftists.
However, some people confuse this liberation with a new kind of prison. We call them "deconstructionists." True, language is a kind of prison, if you choose to look at it that way. It is clearly a limitation, just as musical scales are a limitation on sound. But if we deconstruct the scales in favor of producing random noises, is this a liberation? Or is a return to the anarchic prison from whence we came?
Just so with language. Or logic, for that matter. One can deny aristotelean logic, as does the postmodern rabble, but this only ends up creating a cognitive hell from which escape is impossible.
So yes, we are imprisoned. We have already stipulated that. I think Schuon has provided the most succinct description of the outlines of our cosmic prison. In fact, I posted on this subject about four years ago, and since I'm squeezed for time again, I think I'll just playgiarize with myself for awhile:
Schuon goes into what he calls four essential limitations or "infirmities" of the soul. The first is the Biggest, which is why it is enshrined in the First Commandment: sorry, but you are not God. You are "creature, not Creator, manifestation and not Principle or Being."
In fact, only the godless can be unaware of the fact that they are not God, which is probably the greatest source of their political mischief. As Obama might say, "if I had a God, he'd look like me."
Two, we are not angels. We are not celestial beings but mid-terrestrial ones. We are not at the top of the vertical hierarchy, nor are we at the bottom (unless we choose to fall even further than where we begin).
Rather, we are somewhere in the middle -- which, of course, goes to the issue of free will, as we are suspended halfway between our better and worse selves. A saint is a man who has more or less succeeded in elevating himself to the border between middle and top, or time and eternity. Thus, he is like an angel on earth.
Third, I am me and you are you. We are different. Thank God! And I mean this literally, for our individual differences -- at least for the Christian -- are not accidental or purely contingent.
Rather, our differences are essential; paradoxically, our contingency is a kind of absolute in miniature. For those of you with more than one child, this is obvious. The differences are a blessing, not a curse. Every face is unique, and yet, a member of the human family. God has counted every hair on your head. We're all different to him (which is the ultimate source of our differences, in that we are different ideas of God). And yet mankind is one.
Fourth are the differences that are not essential but contingent. These include mind parasites, which mostly result from the scars of misbegotten relationships and assimilations along the way. They are "accidental infirmities" that cause a man to either sink beneath himself or become someone else entirely. The problem with a mind parasite is that it's not you, only pretending to be. It is a difference that is peripheral, i.e., from earth (or lower), not from celestial central, i.e., the principial realm.
Now, anyone can see the bloody mayhem that results if we don't keep these categories straight. The leftist -- because he turns the cosmos upside down and inside out -- begins with #4, the wholly relative, accidental, and contingent, and then elevates it to the highest reality.
Again, this is why the Democratic party is the party of cranks, weirdos, freaks, perverts, misfits, losers, reactionary rebels, rebellious conformists, tyrannical punks, and the generally barbarous. (It also attracts -- let's be fair -- a great many basically decent but just LoFo and easily manipulated folks).
If you've followed me this far, then you will understand what Schuon means when he says that "Relativism engenders a spirit of rebellion and is at the same time its fruit. The spirit of rebellion, unlike holy anger, is not a passing state, nor is it directed at some worldly abuse; on the contrary it is a chronic malady directed toward Heaven and against everything that represents Heaven or is a reminder of it."
Tell me about it! The leftist is either in rebellion against God, and therefore human nature, or against human nature, and therefore God. Either way, he always confuses a prison break with solitary confinement for eternity. But why oh why does he want to force the rest of us to join him?
[T]he primordial and normative attitude is this: to think only in reference to what surpasses us and to live for the sake of surpassing ourselves.... Not to acknowledge what surpasses us and not to wish to surpass ourselves: this is... the very definition of Lucifer. --F. Schuon