Thursday, October 23, 2014

Eavesdropping on Nature's God

Continuing with yesterday's line of thought... well, first of all, here are some highlights from the second repost I promised:

Reader Magister commented that "Feminists seem to be perpetually at war with their own bodies." However, this resentment is projected into men and into babies, as if it's our fault that their bodies are so sexually alluring, or the baby's fault that women have such nice cozy wombs just perfect for perpetuating the species. It's almost as if the female body has a purpose or something.

However, feminists reject the sufficient reason of their bodies -- for readers living in Rio Linda or laboring under the delusions of gender theory, that means the reason why your body exists. I mean, everything has a reason, right? Can we at least agree on that? Or do feminists now regard logic as an abusive form of mansplaining?

No? I see. It's a form of rape. Besides, that's not funny!

Did you know that 90% of workplace deaths occur to men? So, why isn't everyone freaking out about MORTALITY INEQUALITY!

In my response to Magister's comment, I wrote that, "Speaking of cosmic rights, the baby certainly has a legitimate right to the mother's body, which is why, you know, breasts. (Which are to be distinguished from boobs, which is what breasts look like to a man.)

"More generally, as we've discussed in the past, not only are our minds intrinsically intersubjective, but so too are our bodies. Man and woman point beyond themselves and 'refer' to one another. So to say that we 'own' our bodies and that's that is a little simplistic, to say the least, and certainly not humanistic." (I don't want to imply that I am devaluing the gift of our individuality, only that it is a gift that must be given in return, ultimately for reasons of cosmic math, i.e., to assure that 1 + 1 = 3.)

The reasons humanism is not humanistic are that a) human beings could not have evolved from such a static situation, and b) no existing human being lives as an isolated body, cut off from the rest of mankind. Rather, a living body is an open system at every level, biologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually. Or supposed to be, rather.

Now, in order for language, or information, or meaning, to exist, one thing must be capable of standing for another. This is an extremely simple and basic concept, so simple that you have to be the victim of a public education to not know it.

Of note, this feature is woven into the very fabric of existence, and was here long before human beings arrived on the cosmic scene. Consider DNA, for example, through which a gene, or combination of genes, stands for -- one might even say "symbolizes" -- this or that trait.

But even prior to that, we know that the world is always susceptible to intelligible abstraction, which is why, for example, we can talk about a "big bang." We can talk about a big bang because of background radiation that encodes information referring to that primordial event -- just as light striking your retina can tell you that a star existed a billion years ago, or however long it took the light to get here and now.

This means that at the moment of luminous impact, our present and the star's past -- or the star's past and future -- are thoroughly entangled in this moment of knowing. When the star gave out that light a billion years ago, little did it know that it would someday arrive at the back of the eye of a lifeform that didn't yet exist. But stars were bigger back then. It's the cosmos that's gotten smaller.

Now, perhaps the one Big Idea I have retained from Christopher Alexander is that Life Itself is latent or implicate everywhere in the cosmos, but becomes manifest or explicate under certain conditions.

This is an extremely handy idea for discerning the Living from the Dead at every level of the cosmos. But it is really helpful in sorting between the humans and the zombies, because the language of the latter is both dead and endeadening (see the leaden communiques of our anonymous troll, for example). There is something wrong with their whole encoding system. They radiate Death from every pore.

Now, to recognize the implicit Life in things is to realize that "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).

Yes, exactly. Person-stuff. Among other things, this means that human beings -- better, Persons -- are not late arrivals to the cosmic manifestivus, but its whole basis; or rather, its quintessential expression, only made explicate and local. For anything, the end reveals its purpose, right? Final cause is chronologically last but ontologically first.

This is why everything makes so much damn sense, but it also explains when and why things don't, because things are supposed to make sense. Absurdity is the exception, not the rule -- just as most things in the world -- unspoiled nature, that is -- are oddly beautiful. Why? What's with all this useless beauty? Indeed, what's with all this useless truth?

So, that is the end of the old post. On to the new. Recall what was said about cosmic messages: somehow, everything in nature is a message, or encoded information. I recall Chesterton making this point. He says something to the effect that if we're going to talk about messages, it makes a great deal of difference who the messenger is. Agreed, the world is a message. But from whom?

The message of Darwinism (or any other secular philosophy) is that there are no messages -- at least no human messages, nothing addressed to us. Yes, there are instructions for encoding proteins, but that's pretty much it: we might say there are messages but no messenger and no recipient.

So, how did humans decode the message? I guess you'd have to say that, like the NSA, we're just eavesdropping on conversations (or monologues) that are none of our business.

All of this goes to the fact that it is impossible to imagine a more inhuman philosophy than humanism, since it isolates the human being from this whole trimorphic network of messenger-message-recipient. In his From the Divine to the Human, Schuon has a typically illuminating essay called The Message of the Human Body.

Now, in the Raccoon view of things, everything is a revelation. Or in other words, there is revelation proper, AKA scripture, or the Incarnation, or direct mystical experience (or infused contemplation).

But obviously the creation itself is a revelation, as is the human person. By way of comparison, I can know with certainty that another person exists, for he is revealed to me. However -- and this is where revelation proper comes in -- I cannot truly understand "what he's like" unless he reveals it to me. So, the world is like that: it certainly reveals a Creator, even if it cannot necessarily convey intimate details of his subjective life -- what he's really like.

Back to the human body: what is its message? "Choom Gang '79?" No, no, not the tattoos. Just the body itself. Schuon suggests -- or reads, rather -- that the male body accentuates absoluteness, while the female body expresses the infinite; or I suppose one might say strength and nurturance.

"Even without knowing that femininity derives from an 'Eternal Feminine' of transcendent order," writes Schuon, "one is obliged to take note of the fact that woman, being situated like the male in the human state, is deiform because this state is deiform." Nor can there be any strict demarcation between the two, because we all descend from the "primoridal androgyne" that "survives in each of us."

This seems like common sense -- and certainly common experience: "the feminine body is far too perfect and spiritually too eloquent to be no more than a kind of transitory accident." Can I get an amen or two from a man or two? Dávila says something similar: The laws of biology alone do not have fingers delicate enough to fashion the beauty of a face.

The child too carries a message, which all spiritually attuned parents recognize. (Again, for Jesus to emphasize this reality in the ancient world was almost unheard of.) The child reveals to us "what is simple, pure, innocent, primordial, and close to the Essence." His "beauty has all the charm of promise, of hope, and of blossoming," of "a paradise not yet lost" (Schuon).

You could say that the child has not yet drifted so far from the "divine intention"; they are much higher upstream, where the crystal waters flow. Thus the necessity of retaining the message of childhood in the wisdom and maturity of the adult, e.g., "the qualities of simplicity and freshness, of gratitude and trust, which he possessed in the springtime of his life."

There's more, but that's enough for today....

25 Comments:

Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I've never pulled the trigger on this book on Nature's Hidden Message, but it seems to touch on the subject of today's post...

10/23/2014 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

the feminine body is far too perfect and spiritually too eloquent to be no more than a kind of transitory accident

Sophia.

10/23/2014 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

You could say that the child has not yet drifted so far from the "divine intention"; they are much higher upstream, where the crystal waters flow. Thus the necessity of retaining the message of childhood in the wisdom and maturity of the adult,

Or as David Bentley Hart said: Wisdom is the recovery of innocence at the far end of experience!

10/23/2014 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Very good. I would add that innocence is not just a state of being but a mode of knowledge.

10/23/2014 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Mushroom:

Why indeed is wisdom always feminine? Partly, I would imagine, to complement the ideal of masculine knowledge, which is unambiguous, firm, active, unyielding, lawful, etc. Conversely, wisdom is receptive, living, fertile, nourishing, etc.

10/23/2014 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of cosmic rights, the baby certainly has a legitimate right to the mother's body, which is why, you know, breasts.

At risk of TMI, this one makes me laugh, because my 2 year old girl clearly thinks they're her property, and she was bottle fed. Some things are extremely hard wired.

10/23/2014 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I heard a funny story about a woman who had to finally draw a line and wean her five year old boy. He gave her a disappointing look and said something like, "Okay... But can I see them one more time?"

10/23/2014 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

lol

The sad/ genuinely creepy and disturbing thing is, there are women who let it carry on that long. Few, I think, but still. If memory serves there was a story from England a couple years ago about a woman who just didn't wean her daughters, period. The older kid finally gave it up around 7 or so, but the younger was still firmly attached at about the same age. It seemed they literally didn't think of their mother as a person so much as a pair of ambulatory breasts.

(Insert Sideshow Bob shudder)

Anyway, my kid mostly just thinks it's a fine place to rest her arm when I'm carrying her.

10/23/2014 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

"Man and woman point beyond themselves and 'refer' to one another"

When I was fifteen, my best friend gave up his virginity to an older girl. I asked him what it felt like. Unable to find words for a minute, he finally said, with a happy dazed look in his eyes, "like it *belongs* there!" I didn't find this descriptive or helpful, but it didn't take me that long to find out that he was right.

So, a big "amen" from this corner.

I took a walk after lunch today. The trees were ablaze with light, shining gold, yellow, brown, and scarlet. Leaves swung gently through the air and lay like water on the lakeside path. I remembered the typical lines from Hopkins, filed away this year's frost date (Oct 22), thought about pruning, etc. The natural world is unhurriedly beautiful.

10/23/2014 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Yes, women represent the mysterious and "unknowable".

I like 'em.

10/23/2014 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This book on how the left came to hate Israel, David into Goliath, is terrific....

10/23/2014 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Which I mention because I probably won't otherwise be blogging about it....

10/23/2014 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Along those lines, at Ace's today there's a dissection of AP headlines about a terrorist attack that left a baby dead. The original: Israeli police shoot man in east Jerusalem

10/23/2014 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

One thing that comes through very clearly in this book is that geopolitics is always three-dimensional chess and that the US had just as many serious challenges in '60s and 70s as today, except we didn't have an idiot with a fantasy ideology at the helm to make matters worse. Nixon, for example, wasn't 1% of the crook Obama is, but ten times the global strategist.

10/23/2014 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The book also reminds us that no matter how depraved the UN is, it somehow always finds a way to soar beneath itself to a new low.

Got to be America's Worst Invention.

10/23/2014 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous neal said...

Starting soon. Partial eclipse, in North America.
Just sun and moon stuff, by way of memory.

Maybe dress, or not. Just look upon the thing itself, or at least remind the loved ones.

Not very above, not something to write home about.

They say time and gravity bows down when this happens.
Doors, not minds. About the least scary thing a person could just watch, and wait for.

Enough to pile up altars, later.

10/23/2014 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"This seems like common sense -- and certainly common experience: "the feminine body is far too perfect and spiritually too eloquent to be no more than a kind of transitory accident." Can I get an amen or two from a man or two? Dávila says something similar: The laws of biology alone do not have fingers delicate enough to fashion the beauty of a face."

Amen, amen. And amen. Because I feel generous today.
And that deserves three amens.

10/23/2014 03:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Speakin' of women:
http://youtu.be/4HR0P3sIb80

10/23/2014 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

One thing that comes through very clearly in this book is that geopolitics is always three-dimensional chess and that the US had just as many serious challenges in '60s and 70s as today, except we didn't have an idiot with a fantasy ideology at the helm to make matters worse. Nixon, for example, wasn't 1% of the crook Obama is, but ten times the global strategist."

Aye, Nixon was a dick but he sure wasn't an incompetent idiot like Obama or Carter.

10/23/2014 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger swiftone said...

Very late and mostly OT, but finally was pointed toward Arthur Clarke's ancient tele tale on fractals. Some of the mathematicians and scientific types are working pretty hard to avoid seeing the right hand of God there. An hour, but worth the watch. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk6QU94xAb8

10/23/2014 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

From Ace:

""Obama is the weakest of U.S. presidents, he had humiliating defeats in the region. Under him the Islamic awakening happened," Younesi said in a Farsi language interview with Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.

"Americans witnessed their greatest defeats in Obama’s era: Terrorism expanded, [the] U.S. had huge defeats under Obama [and] that is why they want to compromise with Iran," Younesi said...."

Never thought I would agree with anyone from the Iranian regime but this is right on,

10/23/2014 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

By definition, liberals don't learn from history, since they are so much more enlightened than our racist/sexist/homophobic/sky god worshiping forebears. Therefore, each generation must make the same mistakes and relearn the same lessons.

10/23/2014 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Aye, libs are stuck in catastropic reruns. Same old bullshit.
Every. Time.

If only their destructive ideas affected them.

10/23/2014 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

What's So Great About Fractals

Not that they are possible (of course they are; their programmers make them so).

But that persons can look at them and say, "there is the coastline of Maine," or "that fern looks like a fractal."

Or, that lady looks like Burt Renolds.

Or, I see God with the same eye that He sees me.

Fractals are a comment on "likeness" our relation to them and "the miracle of vision" and that persons can see likeness in inexact things.

10/24/2014 05:38:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Now, in order for language, or information, or meaning, to exist, one thing must be capable of standing for another. This is an extremely simple and basic concept, so simple that you have to be the victim of a public education to not know it."

Sadly the number of degrees possessed, is a fairly reliable indicator of the degree of stupidity you will unhesitatingly endorse.

10/24/2014 09:57:00 AM  

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