Friday, March 15, 2013

There is No God but Godlessness, and Obama is His Prophet

Truth is hierarchical and symphonic, which implies both One (i.e., one symphony) and many (i.e., a multitude of instruments and individual parts -- motifs, melodies, counter-melodies, etc.).

In contrast -- to paraphrase one of my favorite aphorisms of Don Colacho -- leveling is the barbarian's substitute for order. Which is why -- to paraphrase another aphorism -- in order to understand leftism, a vocabulary of ten words is sufficient.

In other words, relativism is another word for leveling, which is why leftist is another word for barbarian, and barbarism the end result of leftism.

What is the uni-versity? Or rather, what was the university? For starters, it was a way to cure our barbarism by elevating the intellect and perfecting the soul.

"The university," writes Schall, "grew out of the structure of the medieval Church." Thus, for example -- and it is not my intention to induce vomiting -- the dean of a university is analogous to the pope, while the professors represent a priesthood of knowledge and truth, for the purpose of both forming and saving young souls.

This is still the case, except that when one's first principle is relativism, then one's pope is actually an anti-pope whose main task is to enforce leveling so as to ensure barbarism. Which is why universities are secular seminaries whose tenured apes churn out so many well-programmed chimps.

Best popetweet I've heard so far: Francis has been linked to an anti-Marxist organization -- the Catholic Church.

"Unless some objective criterion of truth is available and acknowledged, unless some reality in fact exists, freedom means little" (Schall). Why is that? Because to insist that "my freedom" consists of "my truth" (and vice versa) is to again collapse the hierarchical space in which truth is sought. In other words, it eliminates any meaningful vector to our cognitive and psychospiritual lives, so there is no direction om.

It is no different than if we could somehow eliminate desire from the soul. If there is nothing to desire, then there is no reason to so much as move. This is typical of Major Depression, a central feature of which is anhedonia, or loss of pleasure. In the absence of a sense of pleasure, the world goes "flat," and the person literally doesn't know which way to turn, since it doesn't matter. Since nothing induces pleasure, why bother?

The resultant apathy and withdrawal can culminate in a kind of interior implosion analogous to a black hole. All because the psychic hierarchy has collapsed in on itself.

I am not being polemical when I say that the identical thing occurs in various cognitive pathologies of the left. The left talks about "academic freedom," but in the absence of transcendent truth this is just whistling past the slaveyard. In reality it is quite literally academic slavery, for one is beholden to something less than truth -- whims, inclinations, intellectual fashions, career advancement, political correctness, etc.

What is the point of knowing if it is not to know truth? If we don't know truth, then what is knowledge? Freedom unbound from its proper object reduces to mere will -- just as, say, sex unbound from its proper object is nothing but a selfish impulse.

Indeed, a good wanking definition of "perversion" is any impulse detached from its proper object, whether we are talking about sex, intelligence, art, religion, politics, etc. Just as there are sexual perversions, there are artistic perversions, perversions of justice, perversions of philosophy, etc.

Among other things, God is Logos-Word-Reason, which is why he is intelligible (not in total, of course, but within the forms of our sensibility), and indeed why there is both intelligence and intelligibility in the cosmos, the one mirroring the other. Schall (actually, Benedict, on whose lecture he is commenting) contrasts this with Islam, which has no such conception.

Rather, the latter "implies a Godhead whose power is not in principle limited even by the principle of contradiction, the principle that governs reason.... Any such restriction would be seen as a denial of the omnipotence of God" (and you will have noticed that this is the same aberration that afflicts certain Christian fundamentalists).

It seems that normative Islam (not, say, the esoteric Sufism of Schuon) is not addressed to our reason, but rather, to our will: "This position affirms God is not Himself bound by His own truth. It would limit His glory to impose any restrictions, even of contradiction. The effect of this view is to eliminate any secondary causality which would attribute to non-divine things an inherent order" (ibid., emphasis mine).

Now, what is this beautiful order of secondary causes but the cosmic hierarchy? Yes, God is at the top, but this doesn't negate all of the intermediate levels, any more than our own free will negates the relative autonomy of the atoms, molecules, cells, and organs that constitute us. The One doesn't negate the many, any more than the One reduces to the many. Or, just say transcendence and immanence, the latter a consequence of the former.

But Islam eliminates secondary causes, and insists that everything that happens is directly caused by God. Therefore, there is no reason to study the world, because God does what he wills, with no guarantee of reason, law, predictability, or consistency: "His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality."

Things couldn't have developed more differently in Christendom, as the logos wended its way through history, resulting in such benefits as science, natural law, and the preciousness of the individual. As such, Allah, "in the Christian view, cannot be reasonable. Indeed, he cannot be God.... Not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's name." No offense, but simple as. The two positions are irreconcilable.

(And this is not to imply that God never does things we cannot comprehend, nor that everything in God is comprehensible in human terms; rather, we're just refracting the mirroraculous analogy between macrocosmos-God and microcosmos-man.)

So: "if God is understood to be only power or a will that transcends reason, then reason is subservient to will." That's right: fascism by another name.

And now you understand the alliance between Islamists and the Left, because their ways of thinking are so similar. In his lecture, Benedict discusses the three stages of what he calls the "dehellenization" of the West, which, as you have no doubt noticed, results in a creeping hellification of culture, hell being defined as any place where Reason is impotent. You know, like the New York Times editorial board, or the womyn's studies department of a major university.

More on the deep connection between Islam and the Left as we continue....

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dreams of Reason and Nightmares of History

Hey, this book on Pope Benedict's Regensburg Lecture is pretty good.

Wait! Don't go away! It's not as dry as it sounds. Far from it. Rather, it provides something like a Master Key to understanding our whole civilizational decline, from Moses/Socrates/Jesus to Obama/Biden/Reid.

But before getting to that, a brief comment about the surprising architectural skills of the Dreamer. Now that Alexander has schooled me on what to look for, I can't help but noticing what a marvelous architect I am.

In your dreams!

Yes, in my dreams. I already conceded that.

The question is, how can this be? I don't have any architectural training, and probably not even good taste. Not so my Dreamer, who has an unerring sense of what goes where (unless he's just being ironic or trying to make a point).

Last night, for example, I somehow got through security and wandered into the most beautifully constructed high-end country club. Here words fail, since I'm not an architect or an interior decorator or a Lileks, so I am reduced to such feeble adjectives as "cool!" or "awesome!"

The thing is, I've noticed the phenomenon before, but I always marked it down to more of a literary/narrative/cinematic skill. But now I see that this cannot be the case, since it takes more than just glibness or a good eye to produce these fabulous sets (which are not copies of anything I've ever actually seen in awakeworld). Now that I know what to look for, I see that my Dreamer knows all about the 15 fundamental properties of life as elucidated by Alexander, e.g., strong centers, gradation, echoes, local symmetries, good shape, etc.

I have a feeling the dream might have been provoked by watching the popification on TV yesterday. Again, now that I know what to look for, I was noticing how the beautiful architecture in Vatican City manifests so many of the Fifteen Fundamental Properties.

Now, it may seem like a trivial observation to say that the Dreamer has "good taste" in architecture, but the implications are actually quite profound. For it suggests that, just as man doesn't invent logic but discovers it to be woven into the very fabric of his being, it also turns out that Good Taste isn't just subjective, but rather, that an aesthetic sense is also built into the f. of our b.

And this is indeed Alexander's point: that aesthetic reality is just as objective and as real as material reality. In fact, the two can only be artificially separated, because nature herself effortlessly tosses out beautiful objects, just as does the Dreamer.

Odd, but nature rarely makes ugly things. Rather, almost all of the ugliness in the world comes from man. Only man could makes a place as ugly and lifeless as, say, Lancaster, CA, or MSNBC. But the California desert itself -- unmolested by man -- has a kind of austere beauty thingy going for it.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Benedict's Regensburg Lecture, whatever that was? The LoFo world, if it remembers it at all, will have remembered it for accurately describing the problems of Islam, thereby earning the condemnation of the same LoFo world (which is led by the mullah-terror & nasty-old-leftist complex).

Alert readers will recall last Tuesday's post, wherein I mentioned the term "rapprochement." Now, how many times a year does one hear that word? And yet, I'm reading The Regensburg Lecture yesterday, and it must have turned up a dozen times. In the words of Beavis, this means something, numb nuts.

Remember what I said about my use of the term, which is intended in both its colloquial and human developmental senses? But my ultimate point was again to suggest that man begins his journey fused with nature, just as the infant starts out fused with the (m)other. Our separation from nature culminates in the scientific revolution, whereby we are able to study nature in a wholly objective, abstract, and quantitative way. But now it is time for a rapprochement of mind and nature, which is one of the themes of my book, of this blog, and of Alexander's whole approach.

It is also the theme of the Regensburg Lecture, but by now I'm accustomed to these dense synchronicities.

To preview where this post is headed, Benedict locates the ground of western civilization in a unique synthesis of revelation and (upper case R) Reason, which was achieved by the Bible being filtered through the Greek mind. This observation itself isn't new, i.e., the Athens-Jerusalem matrix.

What is apparently new is Benedict's suggestion that this syntheses, this "Greek turn" was providential, not just some random occurrence. Fascinatingly, he supports this through recourse to Paul's Dreamer, who tells him (see Acts 16:9) DON'T GO TO ASIA, but rather, MACEDONIA IS REALLY NICE THIS TIME OF YEAR!

Could it be that the whole of western civilization hinges on a dream?

Western civilization begins with the vision of a rapprochement of God and Reason. As we proceed, we will appreciate just how different this is from the dreams of the left and of Islam, for in each case, no such rapprochement is possible.

Islam, for example has a strictly voluntarist theology (which is really no theology -- i.e., theo-logos -- at all), rooted in God's will, not his logos (Reason). This can be appreciated with reference to the differences between "Israel," which means wrestle with God, and "Islam," which means submit to Allah. In Islam no wrestling is allowed, except with others, who had better submit on pain of violence and death.

Likewise, for the leftist there can be no rapprochement of Reason and Revelation, since the latter is just a dream (heh). But as soon as you think about it, you realize that this is no different than Islam, for which there also can be no rapprochement of knowing and being. In both cases, there is no Logos/Reason lighting up the world from within.

As a result, all that is left is submission, either to Allah, or sharia, or the caliphate, or political correctness, or Obamacare, or the tyranny of relativism, whatever. What is not permitted is liberty in its classic sense, predicated on the individual's access to the Truth of Things. Authoritarianism to follow.


To be continued...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wholeness, Happiness, Order, and Discrimination

Recognizing this life in things is equivalent to saying, "The universe is made of person-stuff. I always thought it was made of machine-stuff, but now I see that it is not." --Christopher Alexander

The whole thing reminds me of Eckhart's key principle of the Ground: Alexander speaks of how "the structure we call wholeness is connected with a ground where matter becomes personal..." This is why nature so obviously "speaks" to us, both in terms of feeling and of thought, art and science, beauty and truth. If we take this comm-unication seriously, the implications are endless.

For example, this is why language is even possible, because the person-stuff of the universe is interiorly related and therefore capable of encoding and transmission from one body or region to another. Our ability to see the beauty or apprehend the deep structure of the world represents one cidence of of the same coin-. It is to receive the memO and be in the lOʘp.

For this reason, we now understand how and why scientists are guided by feeling and artists by science. In other words, a scientist wouldn't even know what to investigate in the absence of a feeling that reduces the infinite field of phenomena to something "interesting," something that attracts his attention.

As it so happens, not too long ago I evaluated a former research scientist who had developed a dementia. It was still in its incipient stages, so he was well aware of how it had robbed him of his ability to perceive the deeper significance in things.

It reminds me again of a hybrid SACD, which has a standard CD encoded on the surface and the SACD layer encoded below that. Only an SACD player is able to reach beyond the surface and retrieve the denser, high-def information at the center. My research scientist was like this: his laser could no longer penetrate below the surface.

There is something analogous to this phenomenon in any discipline, from art, to science, to literature and religion, the difference being that there aren't just two levels to reality (i.e., CD and SACD), but an inexhaustible number. There is no end to the depth, but this depth extends in both directions, into the object and into the subject, which, in the end, are complementary aspects of one another.

In other words: we can only see the depth in things to the extent to which we have become deep. As I've said before, depth is a very real feature of the cosmos, not something merely "subjective." In many ways, it's the whole point, isn't it? It's certainly the point of this blog. And of this life, for that matter. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be a cosmic surface dweller. I know I was there, but I can no longer remember what it felt like.

Schall raises the same point in this book I'm reading -- or at least I'm seeing obvious links. For example: "The Catholic [you could also say Raccoon] soul is not a divided soul. What is characteristically Catholic is the mind that pays full attention to the truths of reason and revelation on the basis of the truth that they both belong to a coherent whole."

More: "The 'wholeness' of all things to be known, something that fascinated a Plato, an Aristotle, an Aquinas, a Dante, cannot leave anything out and still claim to be concerned with the full scope of mind.... Philosophy is the quest for knowledge of the whole, a quest that, in principle, cannot omit any claim to the truth of things and still claim to be open to all things."

Thus, any form of bonehead atheism or vulgar scientism is a philosophical non-starter, because each has closed itself to the living ground (both "outside" and "inside").

Dennis Prager makes a similar point in his Still the Best Hope, which should be required reading for all human beings struggling to cure themselves of the liberal plague. He writes of how

"It is difficult to overstate the depth of the differences between the Judeo-Christian view of the world and that of its opponents on the Left. In addition to such basic issues as objective versus subjective morality, it involves the question of whether there is order to the world" (emphasis mine, and bear in mind that Alexander's quadrilogy is called The Nature of Order).

Now, as Alexander explains, order is intrinsically related to life, to wholeness, to depth, and to happiness (I would prefer a slightly more spiritually inflected term such as ananda-bliss, beatitude, or slack). And as Prager points out, "Basic to the biblical worldview is the proposition that God made order out of chaos -- order expressed largely through separation and distinction."

Indeed, what is order but distinction? And what is thinking but discrimination and synthesis? And what is chaos but indiscriminate blending?

Now, we all know that the religious are happier than the irreligious, conservatives happier than liberals. Might this have something to do with the unregenerate muddleheadedness of the latter?

Prager discusses the most obvious distinctions that the left denies, thereby engendering chaos and fueling unhappiness, such as good and evil, God and man, man and woman, holy and profane, human and animal, and great and poor art.

Denying these distinctions has devastating material, psychological, and spiritual consequences for both the individual and the society. At the very least, it creates unhappy people, and unhappy people are responsible for most of the world's problems. Happy people don't become activists, utopians, and ideologues. But to deny the nature of human order is to defeat the order of human nature. Which is the quintessence of soph-defeating beehivior.

Thus, "Almost all disorders of private or public life somehow begin in the souls of an educated elite..." And these elites are shielded from the devastating consequences of their noxious ideas by such things as tenure, jerrymandering, and wealth (the most wealthy counties in the country are the most liberal).

"A wise man," writes Schall, "knows how to find the order in things."

Bottom line: Everything that exists is an orderly circle that flows from and returns to the ground, Alpha to Omega. And some circles are deeper and more expansive than others. A stone is a smaller circle than a plant.

Likewise, your life is a circle, the difference being that this is the only circle that isn't simply "given." Yours needn't be a little jerk circle. Rather, it has some free play, some slack. How wide will you make it? And how deep is the order? Or how depthless, rather?

For the name of this depthlessness is God.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Taking Reality Personally while Championing the Bobvious

Over the years, I've made any number of references to the trinitarian structure of reality. Actually, "structure" isn't quite the right word, because structure implies parts. In my view, it would be more orthoparadoxically correct to call it a trinitarian substance, which features an irreducible interiority and intersubjectivity (each a reflection of the other).

I've now completed volume one of The Nature of Order, and there are several places where Alexander essentially expresses the same idea, although not in any Christian context. Rather, his approach is entirely empirical and phenomenological: he's just observing and describing how things truly and objectively appear in our subjective experience. His metaphysics is posterior to the experience.

The first half of the book shows how and why "degrees of life" are present in space (i.e., space itself is inseparable from life), and how we are able to objectively perceive these levels of intensity. In the second half he shows how the presence of life is inseparable from the question of personhood. Indeed, chapter seven is called The Personal Nature of Order.

Thus, as it turns out -- and again, this is based first on observation, not any kind of apriorism -- "living structure is at once both structural and personal."

As applied to philosophy and metaphysics, this is his key idea, as it furnishes the means to "bridge the gap that Whitehead called 'the bifurcation of nature.' It unites the objective and the subjective," and ultimately, science and person, physics and poetry, thinking and feeling. Yes, instead of mythopoetic you might call it mathopoetic.

Jumping ahead a bit, the first thought that occurred to me in reading this chapter is that this is all foretold in scripture. In particular, I'm thinking of Proverbs 8, where it suggests that reality is ultimately composed of -- not just by or with -- "God's wisdom," so to speak:

The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way,

Before His works of old.

I have been established from everlasting,

From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.

When there were no depths I was brought forth,

When there were no fountains abounding with water.

Before the mountains were settled,

Before the hills, I was brought forth;

While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields,

Or the primal dust of the world.

When He prepared the heavens, I was there,

When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,

When He established the clouds above,

When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,

When He assigned to the sea its limit,

So that the waters would not transgress His command,

When He marked out the foundations of the earth,

Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman.

All of this establishes the personal nature of the divine wisdom that infuses the cosmos, lighting it from within. This light can be seen scientifically or aesthetically, for it is the same Light. To paraphrase Schuon, truth is analogous to the light, while beauty is analogous to the warmth that naturally radiates from it.

In this next passage we see how "blessings" flow from human perception of this wisdom:

And I was daily His delight,

Rejoicing always before Him,

Rejoicing in His inhabited world,

And my delight was with the sons of men.

“Now therefore, listen to me, my children,

For blessed are those who keep my ways.

Hear instruction and be wise,

And do not disdain it.

Blessed is the man who listens to me,

Watching daily at my gates,

Waiting at the posts of my doors.

For whoever finds me finds life,

And obtains favor from the Lord;

But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;

All those who hate me love death.”

Whoever sees this wisdom finds life. Others find death, which isn't surprising, for if you begin with the premise that the world is fundamentally dead, then any life you happen to find will just be an anomalous accident. It won't tell you anything important or fundamental about the cosmos, much less about the nature of man -- despite the fact that man is uniquely able to perceive the degrees of life implicit in the cosmos.

Speaking of "implicit," it's interesting how we spend our lives rediscovering the same thing over and over. I suppose I first made this discovery back in 1985, and I've been making it ever since, although expressing it in different languages, e.g., the languages of physics, psychoanalysis, anthropology, metaphysics, theology, music, etc.

Gnote: I regard diverse disciplines as "languages," fundamentally no different than the various languages of human groups. Thus, just as one can express the identical truth in French, English, or German, one can express the same truth in physics, psychology, and religion.

And indeed, in order to express the fullness of truth, one must see it from all of these angles; it is as if truth is the white light that passes through the human prism, and comes out the other side in the form of different colors, i.e., disciplines.

A long time ago, I decided that what we call a "genius" is a person who uses this or that discipline or idiom to express a primordial truth. Depending upon his gift, the genius can accomplish it with a pen or pun or piano or paintbrush.

My personal discovery involved seeing a spontaneous connection between the metaphysics implicit in modern physics and the metapsychology implicit in modern psychoanalysis. This discovery suggested that either the cosmos is built like a person, or persons are built like the cosmos. Or that both of these statements are true.

So now you know why my dissertation had the ponderous title of Psychoanalysis, Postmodern Physics, and the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution: Toward a Rapprochement of Mind and Nature. Today I wouldn't use the loaded word "postmodern," but I didn't intend it in the obnoxious sense. "Post-Newtonian" or "post-Cartesian" would be more accurate. But the "rapprochement of mind and nature" is precisely what Alexander is up to.

And my use of the term rapprochement had a double meaning, intended in both the colloquial and psychoanalytic senses. Ultimately, what I meant is that, just as the baby must separate from the mother in order to relate in a more mature manner, it seems that human beings had to first separate from Mother Nature -- this being the scientific revolution -- in order to relate to her in a more mature manner -- this being the "new physics" of Alexander (or of anyone else who sees the underlying truth from whatever discipline).

I know! Too much me. Nevertheless, tucked away in my dissertation is a little speech I had to deliver upon receiving an award for the thing in 1988 (I've mentioned it before, but that was Long Ago). The speech could have been written by Alexander:

"This dissertation is really a reflection of my own personal obsession, which happens to be the relationship between the mind -- that is, the subjective internal world -- and the objective physical universe.... In the three hundred years since the onset of the scientific revolution, science has gradually come to regard everything in the universe -- including ourselves -- as mere machines....

Blah blah yada yada, "What is so interesting is that these patterns of process seem to be woven into the very fabric of the universe, cutting across and repeating at all the various levels we study -- including human mental development."

I mean seriously folks, this sounds like straight up Alexander, although it's only me again: "The appearance of life itself forces us to reconsider all of the reductionistic schemes and artificial boundaries we have invented to divide various domains such as mind and matter, animate and inanimate, physics and psychology.

"The great physicist Werner Heisenberg said that The same forces that have created nature in all her forms, are responsible for the structure of our soul, and likewise for our capacity to think.... With our new understanding, we can truly say that the development of the cosmos culminates in an unbroken fashion with the thought of man."

So, to say "One Cosmos" or "One Cosmos Under God" is just the same old sane old, from Proverbs to bobswords.

For Alexander -- and I agree with him entirely -- it means that we are at "the threshold of a new kind of objectivity," i.e., a higher synthesis of objectivity with what we usually consign to subjectivity in order to dismiss it, and thereby save the scientistic appearances.

But in dismissing the latter we are 1) devaluing the human knower, thereby undercutting the basis of all our knowledge, 2) chucking the most interesting and even astonishing fact in all of creation, and 3) ignoring an impossibly rich source of data about reality, not just in terms of content, but vis-a-vis the human form as such (in other words, the human form itself -- before we have even thought anything -- reveals important truths about the nature of reality).

Getting late. Gotta get some work done....