Friday, January 10, 2014

One Truth, One Cosmos, One Transdimensional Lodge

Warning: this highly praised book on the unintended consequences of the Protestant Reformation is a bit of a slog. Which is unfortunate, because it's an extremely important subject. The author shows how everything we -- by which I mean Coons and Coonistas -- despise about modernity are the stalks, shoots, and then leaves of seeds shot by philosophical, theological, and metaphysical snipers some 500 years ago.

Could the crockup have been avoided? Well, to even posit this question is to wonder if history is inevitable, which it clearly is not. And yet, one of the consequences of post-Reformation thought is a kind of implicit historicism that parcels out history into discrete developmental stages, one atop the previous. The author calls it "supercessionism," which I suppose is a handy word to have around. It's just that it takes him 100 pages to say it.

But because of this implicit historical mythunderstanding, modern atheists, for example, imagine they have nothing to do with premodern deviant theists, e.g., Occam and the rest of the nominalists.

In a comment the other day I mentioned the well known scandal of there not being one church. But the scandal goes way beyond that, for why isn't there One Truth in general? Other animals are guided by one truth -- each lives in its own truth, from aardvark to zebra. Only man can have fundamentally different ideas about how man is supposed to live. Almost like we have free will or something. Or as if our lives are dictated neither by suprahuman forces nor subhuman farces, e.g., "selfish genes."

I suppose the every-man-for-himsoph approach wouldn't be so problematic if these fascist völkers didn't try to impose their authoritarian ideas on the rest of as, as do Islamists and leftists. I mean, by definition, Obama believes he knows more about how we should conduct our lives than we do. Frankly, I doubted this idea the moment I laid eyes on Michelle, but found it impossible to believe once she opened her mouth.

But how is this different from, say, some church telling me how to run my isness? Prior to the Reformation, we had "more than a millennium during which Christianity provided a framework for shared intellectual, social, and moral life in the West." But how much choice did people really -- not just theoretically -- have?

A better question than Could the modern crack-up have been avoided? is Could we have proceeded on a trijectory leading to all the good things about modernity, minus all the fragmentation, polarization, alienation, and homicideologies?

From our historical standpoint, it seems almost inconceivable, because modernity seems to be built from bricks of skepticism, suspicion, cynicism, irony, and doubt. Seen in this light, the pre-Reformation world seems to us impossibly innocent.

I personally don't think we could ever recover and restore such historical innocence, probobly because I personally couldn't (maybe you can). I don't see how one can put the truthpaste back in the tube, so gnostalgia is futile.

But the ambient culture is spiritually intolerable -- so toxic as to asfyxiate the soul. So, we can't go back and we can't stay here, shipwrecked in the present. Where does this leave us?

Yes, a March 4th into higher unity, into a recovery of wholeness, which just so happens to be the mission of this blog, i.e., One Cosmos. Under God. With liberation and joycetice for all. It even says so in the Coonifesto -- at least I think that's what it says:

Take us before & beyond this womantary maninfestation, reveal not the horizontal but our inmost upmost vertical bigending. Here, far from the twisted reach of yestermorrow, we are finally cured of plurality -- plurality being a symptom of feeling down in the humpty dumps.

Gregory likens history to a river with many tributaries. If we examine the river here and now, there is no way to disentangle the waters and identify where they came from. We know for certain that their source is upstream somewhere, but it seems impossible to be any more specific than that.

For which reason he reminds us of Faulkner's well known wisecrack that "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

This is an important truth, for it renders any kind of literal supersessionism -- i.e., compartmentalization of history -- absurd; but it also renders both atheistic and theistic predetermination impossible -- which is no coincidence, because Gregory traces both to the same upstream tributary. Prior to the Reformation, it was understood that history had a meaning and a purpose that was partly determined by human choice.

Why can't we just agree that truth cannot contradict Truth, and get one with it? Is it really that painful? Which is to say, is the Adversary really that powerful? Are you really paralyzed in plurality, unable to pull yourself together?

"Knowledge of Divinity is an endless movement of the spirit. But a mystery always remains, which can never be plumbed to the bottom. And this is expressed in symbol: it cannot be expressed in concepts" (Berdyaev).

O. I see.

'Symbol'... means both 'sign' and 'union.' Symbol and symbolization predicate the existence of two worlds, two orders of being. If there is only one world, one order of being, symbol has no place. Symbol tells us that the meaning of one world lies in another, that signs of meaning are given from this other world. Symbol tells us, not only that another world exists, that being is not all-included in our world, but that connection between the two is possible, the union of one with the other. --Berdyaev

ʘ. 1C.

33 Comments:

Blogger ted said...

I was never a huge Dead fan, but this song has some lyrics that resonate with today's post.

The wheel is turning and you can't slow down
You can't let go and you can't hold on
You can't go back and you can't stand still
If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will.

1/10/2014 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The Dead are pretty much dead to me, but Robert Hunter was a good wordsmith.

1/10/2014 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Van Morrison catches a glimpse of it too.

1/10/2014 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Frankly, I abandoned this idea the moment I laid eyes on Michelle.

Nice one. I laughed.

1/10/2014 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Really? I cried.

1/10/2014 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

It's true that he probably passes some of his suffering on to us: "No, no, babe, stay in Hawaii an extra week. Sure, I'll be miserable, but you deserve some YOU time."

1/10/2014 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Reminds me of one of Spengler's Universal Laws mentioned by Vanderleun yesterday:

"At all times and in all places, the men and women of every culture deserve each other."

1/10/2014 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

It may be that one thing helped us, intuitively at least, understand "supercessionsism" was that our lifestyles and livelihoods generally depended on it. You could have taken my grandfather (born in 1863) back to any shop from the Iron Age forward, and he would have known what everything was for. A smith from ancient Greece could have been dropped into Grandpa's shop and figured out most of what was going on in a day or two.

1/10/2014 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Developments in the last couple of hundred years have been more specialized and increasingly isolated.

1/10/2014 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I personally don't think we could ever recover and restore such historical innocence, probobly because I personally couldn't (maybe you can). I don't see how one can put the truthpaste back in the tube, so gnostalgia is futile.

I think part of the issue is that innocence - historical and otherwise - is so intertwined with ignorance. Going all the way to the beginning, come to think of it, since Eve was convinced that she'd be learning something worth knowing if she just took a bite of the forbidden stuff.

1/10/2014 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

I've heard reliable historians describe this book as disingenuous, politically unhelpful, and "screedy."

1/10/2014 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just seems like a mediocre mind trying to put on his big boy academic pants and imitate the pompous and affected manner of the tenured, substituting turgidity for depth.

1/10/2014 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Nevertheless, on to chapter 2 (of 6). We'll see if he can mount a comeback.

1/10/2014 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Now that I think about it, his thoughts are quite banal when not dressed up in tortuous academese.

1/10/2014 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Bob, I'm thinking of reading a book by Theodore Dalrymple. Got some suggestions?

1/10/2014 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

They're all equally good. He is a terrific essayist, the only problem being that, taken together, the start to add up to a rather sour worldview. He's an excellent diagnostician, but he offers no cure; he bums you out but doesn't lift you up -- except perhaps by the crackling sprightliness of his prose.

1/10/2014 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

That was my sense, but I'm ok with someone recognizing the disease without laying out the medicine or prevention. Especially if they have the flair for it! I do find it amusing that although he's an atheist, he is a strong advocate for religion. He must see a cure in there.

1/10/2014 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He might be agnostic, or at least he's entirely sympathetic to sane religion. He had an extremely bizarre childhood, and I think it foreclosed certain psychic avenues. If memory serves, I heard him say that his father never once spoke to his mother during his entire childhood, and he never knew why. A little tense, you might say.

1/10/2014 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

Wow, talk about a stiff upper lip!

1/10/2014 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

That's awful. I guess he turned out pretty well, considering.

1/10/2014 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Speaking of Dalrymple, In Praise of Prejudice is a winner too.

1/10/2014 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Yet another weekend discovery of hard-to-pronounce current postmod. Euro writer of wild potential relevance!

Seiobo translator Ottilie Mulzet notes in her interview with Krasznahorkai that he addresses what has effectively become taboo: “The question of ‘sacred’ in a world which has no need for it anymore.” The Hungarian author’s works are known for their promise of higher meaning and their tendency to approach, but never quite reach, resolution. Krasznahorkai’s previous titles in English (War & War, The Melancholy of Resistance, and Satantango) earned critical recognition from Susan Sontag and James Wood for their strange, apocalyptic impression. Rife with peculiar characters and sealed into sophisticated structures (Satantango adopts the form of the tango dance, while Seiobo There Below, though billed as a novel, presents distinct stories numbered by the Fibonacci sequence), Krasznahorkai’s fiction makes contact with the otherworldly...


http://www.themillions.com/2013/10/a-prism-of-hidden-meanings-on-laszlo-krasznahorkais-seiobo-there-below.html

1/11/2014 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

ON perpetual topic, if that boast still stands:
The Best Article About the Velvet Underground Ever, by Lance Loud in 1975
http://www.litkicks.com/VelvetsByLanceLoud#.UtKL8vviGks

I knew that guy...

1/12/2014 04:45:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, SMOD. Via Vanderleun, without whom I might remain blissfully unaware of some things.

But to tie that in with the end of the post, If there is only one world, one order of being, or one gender, symbol has no place. And life has no meaning.

1/12/2014 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Magister said...

Gregory evidently feels a need to tell Grand Narratives, to fly at 30,000+ feet, because other people with endowed professorships do the same, and big boy academicians gain prestige by telling Big Stories. And if they fudge a bit to get there, well, that's the price that has to be paid in order to have The Grand View. Counterfactuals are for little people, the ankle-biters, the untenured.

He has done an awful lot of homework, and I would bet seriously that his heart is in the right place. He just lacks political savvy and (sometimes) charity. He reminds me of the old saw that academics are people that care more about ideas than people.

I have it on very good authority that he can be lovely in person, very generous to his students, and without a doubt sincere in his fidelity and devotion.

1/12/2014 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He seems like someone who wants desperately to be accepted by the tenured, which makes him come off as pathetic. I finally gave up today after one too many uses of the word "gendered."

1/12/2014 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

He even goes out of his way to assure readers of his concern about Global Warming. Like that has a lot to do with the Reformation.

1/12/2014 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Magister said...

Bob, I think you have him pretty much pegged.

1/13/2014 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And I have no idea what happened to today's post. Could have sworn I published it. Guess I'll try again tomorrow morning.

1/13/2014 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Weird - I know you did publish it, because I left a comment. Then wondered why nobody else was saying anything.

1/13/2014 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

---and i 'think' i left a comment on this thread that vanished too

1/13/2014 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I don't see anything in the spam file. Might be another hallucination.

1/14/2014 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger onething said...

Hello,

Having stumbled upon this blog, I was charmed by the style and have ordered the One Cosmos book. The commentary is odd, seemingly not related to the post. I'll put this book on my wish list, but my take on the general idea is "of course" but the roots of it all are the Roman church, against which a rebellion was inevitable, and against whose theology there has not been a reformation. The roots of atheism as well lie in the theology of the west, whether Catholic or Protestant.

1/28/2014 08:43:00 AM  

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