Tending to Your Own Isness in the Present Tense
Just a few more items to cover in Voegelin's massive missives before moving on to Knowledge and Power.
One reader mentioned that he had some difficulty with Voegelin's use of the word "tension," which is so central to his thinking.
Specifically, it refers to the intrinsic tension of undeformed human existence -- of the fundamental experience of tending to, or longing for, transcendence. Human beings live in the space between appearances and reality, or manifestation and principle, or relative and absolute, or (•) and O. Way it is.
Voegelin addresses this in a letter, noting that "The Latin tensio derives from the verb tendere, which means, just as in English, tend, being stretched or tending in a certain direction toward something."
Hey, no offense, but "I am at a bit of a loss to understand why the philosophical meaning of tension, which stresses the directional factor in the existential tension, should cause such difficulty?"
Rather, "this tension of existence manifests itself concretely in the 'quest,' the 'search, the 'questioning and inquiring' of the thinker in the direction of the ground of his existence that is, at the same time, the 'mover' of the inquiry and the 'drawer' of the soul toward its immortality." (You know the crack -- "God becomes man so that man might become God." In an orthoparadoxical manner of speaking, of course.)
Pretty clear, no? I find it interesting that Voegelin regarded this description as not only an unsurpassable truth, but a literally scientific account of man's ontological situation. And I believe he is correct, because it cannot be explicitly refuted without being implicitly affirmed. We always live in tension toward the Great Attractor, O.
Unless we don't. To rip an example from the LoFo headlines, what do you suppose Miley Cyrus is oriented toward? Where is the tension in her life?
Well, for starters, she appears to believe that all such tension represents a kind of oppression, and that in order to exist in freedom we must, to parableat Lileks, cross every line, push every envelope, and transgress every norm. Until there is nothing creepy and no one left to creep out. She exists in tension toward the bottom -- Ø -- and won't stop until she gets there.
Which reminds me of something Alan Watts once said -- something to the effect that the stripper is sexy until she removes the last veil. As Lileks says of Cyrus (strange to see those two names in the same sentence), she has "no mystery, no allure, no skill, [and] no art." Which, on the one hand, is obvious. But the reason she has none of these is because of the abolition of the Tension.
Tension is good, and coincidentally, it is one of the major themes of Gilder's Knowledge and Power. Briefly -- for we'll get into it in much more detail later -- not just the raving Krugmaniacs, but even sane and sober economists labor under the misplaced metaphor of a Newtonian system to describe the economy.
In short, they see it as a spontaneous order that tends to equilibrium. But in reality, it is a system of information that requires the vertical ingression of entreprenurial creativity to avoid equilibrium. Equilibrium, as in biology, means death.
As we shall see, order is actually the opposite of information; order is low entropy, whereas information is high entropy -- for which reason the top-down approaches of the statists never work, because they try to replace high entropy information with low-entropy power to achieve order.
Never mind the trillions of dollars Obama has removed from the productive economy. Much more dreadful and damaging is the untold information he has destroyed or prevented along with it.
Don't worry. You'll get it. The point is, money doesn't have the same value in different people. For example, it has much more value -- because more information -- in the hands of a Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos or a Koch brother than it does in the hands of an Obama, a Reid, or a Pelosi.
Welfare and food stamps are about as low entropy as money can get, for you can't make a man more valuable by paying him more than he's worth, nor can you conjure success by simply subsidizing one of its side effects, i.e., "money." Give money to an Israeli and he'll create a high tech company around his new invention. Give it to a Palestinian and he'll buy more rat poison and ball bearings to blow up the inventor.
Hmm. It occurs to me that low entropy envies high entropy as a way to obliterate the Tension. That pretty much explains the left, doesn't it? There was a time when we admired the successful, i.e., tolerated the tension between us and them. The left is all about filling that space with bitterness, envy, resentment, entitlement, and charges of racism, homophobia, gynophobia, and all the rest. All of these words have become low-entropy ciphers in the mouths of the left. They pretty much mean nothing but "gimme."
Conversely, God -- or O -- would have to represent the most intense degree of entropy. And interestingly, a high entropy message can be indistinguishable from a low entropy message, because it will appear random. This dovetails nicely with Voegelin's acknowledgement that "behind the [low entropy] gods of the Myth," exists "the real [high entropy] God about whom one can say nothing" -- since the entropy of this Word is just too maxed out.
So "when somebody says that I am a mystic, I am afraid I cannot deny it. My enterprise of what you call 'de-reification' would not be possible, unless I were a mystic."
To sum up then, a Gnostic -- including of course the political Gnostic -- is low information and low entropy, which is what makes them such crashing borgs. Conversely, the mystic lives in dynamic tension toward the first and last Word in high entropy in-formation, O. Anything short of this implicitly violates the second Commandment, for
No symbolization is adequate to the ineffability of the divine Beyond. Hence, when you are a believer on the level of symbol, you become an "infidel" to the ineffable truth of divine reality...--Voegelin