I Once Was Blind. And Deaf. And Stupid.
It is quite important to understand -- I suppose for both religious and irreligious persons alike -- that this is not intended in any romantic or sentimental or fruity way, but quite literally.
I used to be one of those people who would hear something like this and just tune it out: "right, all is love, blah blah blah." Oddly, I didn't have the same reservations when uttered by John Lennon. Maybe because he expressed it in such a romantic, sentimental, and fruity manner.
Now that I think about it, the Beatles became my religion right around the same time I declared my atheism at age nine or ten. I remember one of the PowerLine guys saying that he first learned politics at the knee of John Lennon. I did too, but also my theology, sociology, and economics.
Of course, I mean this in a more general way, in the sense that I simply absorbed the sensibilities of 1960s at a very impressionable age. I think it explains why to this day I am such an improvisational orthoparadoxical bohemian classical liberal neo-traditional retrofuturistic freevangelical conservative hippie gentleman slacker. I'm still as weird as ever. It's the others who got all normal and surrendered to the Conspiracy. ge know what I'm talkin' 'bout.
That being the case, something like Catholicism or institutional religion in general would have been at antipodes to my rebellious and free-spirited podes. Naturally I was drawn toward cool nonwestern spiritual traditions that promised low-cost liberation from all problems.
If someone were to ask how I left that world behind and below, I would cite three little factors: 1) empirical reality, 2) common sense, and 3) spiritual discernment. Take away those three, and I'd no doubt be as lost and confused as Obama's mama.
Back to baseball. How, philosophically speaking, do we get to first base? Again, there are no freebies in baseball, nor can one steal first base. Rather, one has to earn one's way there.
There's no hiding in baseball either, no team to anonymously blend into so as to conceal your deficiencies. Rather, it's just you and the pitcher, and he's trying to prevent you from getting to first, so again, no one is going to give it to you. You are naked unto the world, with barely more than the tools God and nature gave you -- just you and a stick. (That reminds me of a tweet by Iowahawk: that figure skating might be interesting if there were more defense.)
But you can do a lot with a stick. I am immediately reminded of Polanyi's analogy of how the blind person uses his stick to probe the space around him. At first he is aware only of sensations in the hand. But eventually the hand-sensations become subsidiary to his focal awareness of the space around him; or, you could say a dialectical and expanding space opens up between unconscious/conscious, implicit/explicit, latent/manifest, etc.
The point is that a three-dimensional sensorium has been opened up via one-dimensional taps on the surface of the skin. The blind man has succeeded in getting to first base with no cheating at all, and certainly no affirmative discrimination to simply plop him on first and pretend he hit a line drive into the gap.
An even better example would be Helen Keller, who could neither see nor hear. How did she ever get on base? How did she transcend a one- or two-dimensional animal or vegetable existence?
It doesn't matter if it's apocryphal -- for it is the story Man -- but there is a moment in the 1962 film when Helen discovers transcendence and thus enters the human Gap. It is also when she discovers the Word, in this case the word for water. Before this, there are a multitude of unconnected experiences of water, but a sudden unity emerges that ties all these experiences together. Ah ha! Water!
Me? My only film appearance was in the 1973 made-for-TV classic, The Man Who Could Talk to Kids. I was slacking off with a couple of friends in Malibu, having skipped school, and the director gave us five dollars each to be extras. To get paid for ditching pretty much makes it the Best Day Ever.)
Back into our cold and bracing stream of thought. It turns out that everything is just a variation of the stick in the dark: microscopes, telescopes, language, philosophy, science, scripture, blogging, whatever. Everything takes place in the Gap and widens and deepens the Gap. To discover universals is to have discovered the universe. The deeper person simply has the more encompassing Gap, both in terms of unified content and dimensionality.
Regarding the latter, it is not as if there is only one transcendent dimension we enter when we discover the existence of universals. Rather, the discovery of universals sends us hither and yon, into a wider world of freedom, truth, beauty, virtue.
And yes, love, of all things.
Whoever does not see here is blind. Whoever does not hear here is deaf. And whoever does not begin to adore here and to praise the creating Intelligence is dumb. --Saint Bonaventure