Friday, August 08, 2014

Thank God for Accidental Things!

Dávila (Don Colacho) has many aphorisms that go to the idea that genuine happiness is something that cannot be planned. Rather, a key element is surprise.

Thus, "The gods do not punish the pursuit of happiness but the ambition to forge it with our own hands." Clearly there is a danger in the implicit assumption that we are the source of our own happiness. Therefore, "the only licit desire is for something that does not depend on us at all."

This is one of the things that contributes to my own feverish lack of ambition. Succeeding on my terms would be no success at all! Besides, virtually everything worthwhile in my life came as a surprise, not a plan. I didn't plan my wife, my career, my child, my new friend. Not even the internet. Those things just came to me while I wasn't paying attention.

Ambition combined with education -- or indoctrination -- is responsible for most human ills, at least in the modern west. Therefore, "After seeing work exploit and demolish the world, laziness seems like the mother of the virtues." How much more *progress* can we take before the ambitious eggheads of the left succeed in destroying civilization?

Two symmetrical aphorisms: "The only man who should speak of wealth or power is the one who did not extend his hand when they were within his reach." I don't know that it was ever in reach, but let's just say I've kept my hands to mysoph. And "To learn that the most valuable goods are the least rare requires a long apprenticeship." Quite true. It took me half (I hope!) my life.

Taken to its logical extreme, "God is the name of the sole enigma that, if it were deciphered, would not be a disappointment." Which is to say, everything short of God is going to be a little disappointing. Or maybe not, so long as we don't try to wring more out of it than there is in it. A little perspective goes a long way, and a sense of Cosmic Irony is not a bad thing.

You often see parents -- especially where I live -- essentially rob children of their childhood because of an insane ambition, which, if fulfilled, would result in the children being as happy as those reflexively ambitious parents. Which is to say, not very happy at all -- in fact, so unfulfilled that they have to project it into the child, and then imagine that they will finally be fulfilled if only their child achieves an arbitrary level of success defined by someone else! In short, they simply punt their spiritual emptiness to the next generation.

I had an insight into this dynamic long ago, on the occasion of snatching my BA degree. My parents were quite thrilled, no doubt partly due to the element of surprise at the unexpected accomplishment of a wayward child. Me? Couldn't care less, except that it was one less hoop to jump through.

One of the happiest days of my life -- I still get chills thinking about it -- was my last day of high school. Because of the accomplishment? Please. It was all about having the conspiracy off my back after thirteen years of torture enhanced indoctrination!

Back to my shattering insight upon becoming a confirmed bachelor: while it was obvious that my parents were far more excited than I was, this went to a more general principle that the success of our children means much more to us than does our own success (at least if we aren't pathological narcissists). First word, first step, first sleepover, first chapter book, whatever. My own firsts are matters of complete indifference to me, whereas my son's firsts never fail to bang the naches button.

Ah, here is the exact aphorism I was looking for: "Only the unexpected fully satisfies. Nothing that satisfies our expectations fulfills our hopes." This is why I so enjoy this medium of expression. If someone were to offer me money to write a commentary on Don Colacho's Aphorisms, I would be miserable. Blogging is only fulfilling -- and it is, very -- because there is absolutely No Plan. Every morning, I can't wait to wake up and accomplish nothing, only maybe a little more deeply this time!

Here is another: "The man who wants to avoid grotesque collapses should not look for anything to fulfill him in space or time." This I wholeheartedly and wholeheadedly believe. I have never been under any delusion that I will be fulfilled after X. Rather, to the extent that fulfillment is possible, it is only possible now. Everything else is a dodge, a mortgage you will never pay off. ¡"There are only instants"!

Has your team ever won the World Series or Super Bowl? Talk about a letdown! The whole point is to live in the tension of that impossible future. Should it actually arrive, the only way to top it is to burn down the city.

As to the surprise-myself blogging, this also goes to why I would never want to be considered an "expert," because that would mean game over. Let others bear the burden of expertise! It's too much fun being an absolute beginner.

Besides, "The prophet is not God's confidante, but a rag blown by sacred squalls." And "There is no spiritual victory that need not be won anew each day" -- or each post. Got another game tomorrow, and the season never ends. Yes, we may dream of winning the World Series, but God forbid we should ever make it there!

For "whoever celebrates future harmonies sells himself to the devil." Rather, "One must live for the moment and for eternity. Not for the disloyalty of time." Live now and for (and in) eternity, not the future, and certainly not the past!

Because "religious thought does not go forward, like scientific thought, but rather goes deeper" -- into the now and therefore eternal. Don't wait until you are sick or old to appreciate your poverty and dependence! For "Wisdom comes down to not showing God how things should be done." And "True talent consists in not making oneself independent from God."

Hey, sorry about all the exclamation marks! It just happened. I'm not trying to go all breathy adolescent on you.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Myth, Science, Scientific Myth, and Myths of Science

Myth can be thought of as a medium of the imagination; for Don Colacho, it is "not a premature science of the universe, but a specific dimension of language." It "intuits the transcendent in the sensory," so it is analogous to how we perceive beauty in the material world. Just as beauty is of Beauty, truths are of Truth, irrespective of the medium of transmission.

Science, in contrast to myth, consists of a heterogeneous list of propositions that cannot be falsified -- today. Thus, progress in science -- in particular, major leaps or paradigm shifts -- "usually comes from the care with which we study the trivial exception to the rule."

As it pertains to climate science, for example, anyone who approaches it with an open mind is struck by the many exceptions that refute its central claim. So many black swans! It will not progress until those black swans can be reconciled with the white, and yet, proponents try to pretend the former don't even exist.

In this regard, climate science is more like neurosis than science, since it operates via repression, rationalization, compartmentalization, wishful thinking, projection, etc.

It's no different with the sciences of human intelligence, of race, of homosexuality, or of sexual differences. Liberals don't even bother disagreeing with the science, but deny its existence altogether -- which is more of a psychotic than neurotic defense mechanism. It seems to be working so far, but there's going to be hell to pay once reality rears its beautiful head.

As Kevin Williamson writes (National Review, July 7, 2014), the great majority of citizens are not intellectually equipped "to understand even modestly sophisticated scientific problems."

All humans, however, "are able to understand prestige, and the uses to which prestige may be put." When at a gathering of liberal relatives -- well, first of all, I never bring up politics. But they inevitably do. And I suppose what is most troubling is that they do not bow before my great prestige. Rather, they seem to think there are others more prestigious than I!

Oh well. A prophet among his own, and all that.

I read somewhere that Cat Stevens managed to convert his entire extended family to Islam. One suspects this has more to do with the material than spiritual rewards of being a Friend of Cat. No such material rewards attach to my prestige.

The thought just occurred to me that I once held Ken Wilber in high regard. But his prestige was deflated the moment Bill Clinton began citing him and Al Gore was seen with one of his books. For "he who sees that his ideas propagate must suspect that they betray him." Or worse, that the ideas were a betrayal to begin with -- thus the appeal to the base, the treacherous, the lowdown.

Truly, it should be the other way around: if you are praised by the likes of a Bill Clinton or Al Gore, this should be an occasion for the deepest soul-searching. For it is written: "Enraging the typically modern man is the sure sign of being right" (DC).

Metaphysical ideas are not susceptible to scientific falsification. But they are subject to constant true-ification in light of who despises them -- by trollification. Thus sayeth the Master: the world will hate you for My sake.

What we merely know can never exhaust what Really Is. This is because Being is inexhaustible, and knowledge flows therefrom. Indeed, as we have mentioned before, ignorance by definition grows with the accumulation of factual and empirical knowledge because of the expansion of the surface area of our illuminated sphere.

Even so, man has a cosmic right to know (roughly) what the hell is going on in and beyond this sphere, no matter how large or small its dimensions, hence the purpose of revelation, of myth, of higher imagination, which embody truths that will remain true no matter how fervently an Al Gore or Bill Clinton believes them. They can be spoiled by no man's prestige, from Popes to professors to politicians.

Meanwhile, the "settled science" will be the prejudice existing at the moment man becomes extinct (paraphrasing Don Colacho).

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Cosmic Shrinkage: From Wisdom to Knowledge to Facts to Stupidity to Liberalism

Here is an elementary cosmic bifurcation, expressed with maximum concision: "The nominalist lives among facts. The realist lives among gods" (Don Colacho). The rest of this post will no doubt be a wordy exegesis of that. Yes, it is original, bearing in mind that "Originality is the plagiarizing of a genius" (DC).

Now, if you don't know exactly what the first aphorism means -- for example, if you attended graduate school or have been otherwise warped by the spirit of the times -- you are directed to Richard Weaver's CoonClassic Ideas Have Consequences, because that is its theme.

After reading the latter, I typed up and printed out a handy summary of the contents. For example, "Without imagination, the world is reduced to a brute fact -- there is nothing to 'spiritualize' it, to give it depth. And when matter is placed above spirit, quantity displaces quality. But QUALITY IS NOT JUST ANOTHER QUANTITY, DUMMY!"

Indeed, "What ceases to be thought qualitatively so as to be thought quantitatively ceases to be thought significantly" (DC).

But this is one of the Original Metaphysical Sins of the left, and we see it everywhere, i.e., reality being reduced to statistics (which are themselves conditioned and selected by the left's dysfunctional organizing principles). Especially "in the social sciences, one generally weighs, counts and measures in order to avoid having to think."

After all, science is by definition what anyone can know. It is radically egalitarian, and therefore (if elevated to a metaphysic) anti-individual. In that perverse sense, progressives -- shudder -- do indeed "believe in science" -- and that's a threat!

Which is why "Nothing is as alarming as science in the hands of an ignoramus." But then "everything that can be reduced to a system ends up in the hands of fools" (DC).

The good news: progressives also fervently believe in man. The bad news: "The worship of humanity is celebrated with Human sacrifices" -- abortion mills being only one facet of this.

A real system, if that is what you want to call it, does not proceed in a linear manner from conclusion to conclusion. Rather, it grows from the center out, so the first task is to locate the Center -- both His and ours, since the two are as mirrors held to one another.

Where fact becomes our only criterion, knowledge -- let alone wisdom -- is rendered unattainable. The vertical roads that lead upward are barricaded. Which is why every attack on religion is an attack on mind -- and on man. A humanism without God is just a kind of absurdly narcissistic animalism.

The word was made flesh, not vice versa. Flesh can only pretend to become word, let alone the last word! But as we ourselves have said in so many ways, the left is less an "ideological strategy" than "a lexicographical tactic" (ibid.).

So beware: "Whoever accepts the lexicon of the enemy surrenders without knowing it." Leftism Revisited is all over that problem, beginning with the preposterous misnaming of leftists "liberal," a contradiction in terms.

We should hasten to add that in our incarnotional metaphysic, we have the deepest respect for the human animal. And it goes without saying that we respect the other end, the unique individual soul.

But we have no patience for, or interest in, the vast "middle zone of an animal with opinions," where the tenured spend their lives trying to confine us in their verbal prisons. But the human-animal is a beautiful thing, for as Elder Don says, "the sensual is the presence of a value in the sensible," i.e., the word or idea or spirit in the flesh.

Facts do not speak for themselves. At the very least, they require a principle of selection that no fact can provide. This principle is "out of this world," i.e., not in the world of facts. But to reduce semantics to syntax -- or meaning to structure -- is to deny language its ontological referent.

In other words, in a properly right side up cosmos, the purpose of syntactical structure is to converge upon and reveal meaning -- and meaning lives among the gods, not the facts. One cannot live a human life among facts only without asphyxiating or freezing or being compressed to stone.

Bottom line: the liberal gulag has walls, but can have no ceiling that prevents vertical escape, since they don't even know about that dimension.

Don't worry: he's not looking out but looking in with a combination of curiosity and pity:

(photo: Leslie Godwin)

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Full Faith and Credit in the First Bank of Reality (or, Never Take an Intellectual Check from a Liberal)

Notice how Don Colacho's aphorisms alternate between the highest reaches of spirit and the lowest circle of politics, or between reality and appearance. I suppose that's one more reason why I so relate. I don't find the juxtaposition odd or jarring at all. Rather, each is an entailment of the same principles. Indeed, somewhere he has an aphorism that goes to this.

Here it is: "Conservatism should not be a party but the normal attitude of every decent man." It is common sense, common decency, and a common inheritance of the Permanent Things.

But it's not all bad news for the left, because at least we conservatives "provide idiots the pleasure of feeling like daring avant-garde thinkers."

Notice how our daring and avant-garde -- and confident and clueless -- president takes abundant advantage of this service we provide. And what thanks do we get?

Oh well. Raccoons don't care about manmode honors and encomia. Conservatives understand that "man is a problem without a human solution," much less a political one. Obama is trying to heal his own wounded soul via politics, but he splits and then projects the wound into others -- into the victims of the left and the sadists of the right, making himself savior to the one and martyr of the other.

Or in other words, Obama is a classic Christian pervert (or inverted Christian), something to bear in mind for folks who still cling to the idea that he is a closet Muslim.

No, for starters, a real Muslim wouldn't project the sadism, but act on it (use of the IRS to persecute political enemies notwithstanding). Nor would he give a fig about so-called victims. It's just not a part of their culture -- except when politically expedient to propagandize the useful Jew-hating idiots of the international left.

For "In the end we only defend and attack religious positions with zeal." Think about that one. I'll wait.

You could even say that it is possible to implicitly know a man's religion by paying attention to what gets his zeal up. For example, is there a commenter more zealous, more on fire for his incoherent cause, than our anonymous troll? Clearly, something is eating him, but you will also have noticed that he is unable to articulate it in terms of principles. It's all just lashing out at projected ghosts. Here is a hint: since 2005, One Cosmos been providing idiots the pleasure of feeling like daring avant-garde thinkers.

But here is a timeless avant which no garde can surpass: "The greatest political puerility is to attribute to certain social structures the vices inherent in the human condition." We can argue about whether Obama is the most far left president we've ever had, but he is without question the most puerile. I know this because I believed the same crap when I was but a puer boy, caught up in the cultural peter pandemic.

Back to Imagination, which is why we're here. "Without an alert imagination intelligence runs aground." I love this one, because it implies that intelligence is a ship with a destination. But it is navigating over a kind of dark sea, or at least a nonlocal sea that is full of potential dangers. Tradition, of course, provides nautical maps, but each person must nevertheless set sail, and in the words of Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face -- or until they are caught in a hurricane.

I believe I have spoken before of how this nonlocal ocean feels to me. It is filled with subtle forces and attractors that one must "feel" one's way into and through. When one is in the right spot, one will feel the flow of spirit along one's keel, so to speak. Likewise there are doldrums, storms, and, as implied by the aphorism, rocks and icebergs.

So, "Imagination is the capacity to perceive, through the senses, the attributes of the object which the senses do not perceive." Analogously, this would apply even to something as prosaic as a baseball game. Two people can watch the identical game, but someone who knows nothing about baseball will not have access to 95% of what is going on. Same with religion, only without the designated hitter.

This one is so poetic that I almost hate to spoil it: "Nothing important is is reached simply by walking. But jumping is not enough to cross the abyss; one must have wings."

We can talk about why later, but it has not pleased God that man should be saved by walking or by jumping, but by flying. Walking is either the purely intellectual approach or the completely voluntaristic (i.e., will-based); each embodies the pelagian heresy, which essentially means that (↑) is completely sufficient without (↓). (In the cosmically correct formulation, the former is generally necessary but the latter is sufficient.)

Now, what is (↓) but the wings God provides for vertical flight (↑)? Not only is walking a little stupid, but it is also a refusal of the gift of wings. While you're at it, might as well refuse the gifts of reason, language, and truth. Or in other words, become a postmodern leftist who has convinced himself that "his impotence is the measure of things." Which, in a way, it is for the cognitively impotent man (i.e., the infertile egghead) or for the barren ovary tower feminist.

Just yesterday I was thinking about how ideas need to be backed by the full faith and credit of the First Bank of Reality. But the postmodernist has abolished the bank and issues counterfeit notes from his own printer. This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass -- excuse me! Dupree did that while I was taking a leak -- when you pretend that words do not refer to things but only to other words. There has never been a president who lies as casually as Obama, but only because he has assimilated the greatest Lie of all.

So I know just what Brother Colacho means when he says: "Nearly every idea is an overdrawn check that circulates until it is presented for payment." For the last six years, President Obama has been confidently presenting his bankrupt ideas for payment.

What a time to find out he has nothing but funny money and rubber checks! No wonder the Fed keeps cranking it out. Gotta keep the dream alive for another two years. But the rest of us will be paying off his college loans forever.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Stay Thirsty My, Friends. Better Yet, Just Stay on Fire and the Thirst will Take Care of Itself.

"The Bible is not the voice of God but that of the man who encounters him" (by the way, this is one of the places from which I compiled my own list of favorites). This aphorism may be taken the wrong way, of course, but it is nevertheless true that the Bible is obviously not God, but rather, a compilation of living encounters with the living God, reduced to written form.

Early Christians -- obviously -- did not have a "New Testament" except insofar as it consisted of new beliefs, new oral traditions, and a new liturgy. I read somewhere that under the best of circumstances, even someone like Augustine might have had some of the individual books in codex form, but I don't believe he would had the single book we know of as The Bible, all right there between two covers.

Remember too that each chapter is its own imaginative "book," and that it requires a work of collective meta-imagination to apprehend their inner unity and to bring them all together. Just because the book is a solid material object in space, it doesn't mean you have perceived its interior meta-unity! I mean, who has?

I think this is an important consideration, because the real action doesn't occur "in" scripture, but rather, in the imaginative space of the one who encounters and dwells in it. Unlike routine secular knowledge, it cannot be a one-way vector from book to head. Rather, it is always relational, transactional, intersubjective, alive.

This goes to the next aphorism that metaphorically leaps out at me, "Metaphor supposes a universe in which each object mysteriously contains the others."

I have discussed this idea in a number of posts, and it is indeed one of those things that earthlings simply take for granted, believer and infidel alike. How is it, say, that we can affirm -- accurately, I might add -- that the universe is a tree with its roots aloft, its branches down below?

This is a metaphor, but only because everything contains or refers to everything else; and the latter is true because of a trinitarian Godhead in whom persons are both distinct and yet interior to one another. It is why communication of any kind is possible, including metaphor (and really, virtually all communication is metaphorical, in the sense that one thing must stand for another).

The following aphorism also goes to the present discussion: "Serious books do not instruct, but interrogate." This relates to what was said above about the relationality of the Bible, and also about metaphor. A serious book doesn't literally interrogate us. But it might as well.

Another metaphorical truth: "We only dig the channels for a momentary torrent." It is up to us to clean out the rain gutters and flood channels for the orderly flow of (↓). Similarly, "We call abstract truths the dry channels through which the waters of any rain flow." The abstract truth is empty in order to be filled by experience, as we were discussing a few weeks back.

Note also that the point is not so much to be a lake or reservoir as a river. The flow never stops, so we can never be "filled" in this life. I mean, if self-emptying is good enough for God...

So, if there is no end to the flow, then "One philosophy surpasses others only when it defines more precisely the same insoluble mystery."

Normally we think of "precision" and "mystery" as being at opposite extremes, but in point of fact they are a dialectic -- perhaps the dialectic, to which I have assigned the "ultimate" abstraction of O <--> (¶). I don't see how there can be anything "beyond" this dialectic in this life, short of becoming God, which is not going to happen. But we can perpetually dig those channels and clean those gutters for the Flow.

The above dialectic could be encapsulated: "The soul is the task of man."

And -- if you're not careful -- "Thirst runs out before the water does." So stay thirsty, my friends.

Now, this I like: "Religion is not a set of solutions to known problems but a new dimension of the universe." This is precisely what I believe: you might say that it is to psychology or neurology what biology is to physics. Biology is not just statistically unlikely physics, but rather, an entirely new dimension of existence irreducible to physics, the biosphere. It is at a right angle, so to speak, to everything that came before.

So too is revelation, bearing in mind that I count no less than four Revelations, or dimensions of Revelation, 1) the miracle of creation, 2) the miracle of intelligibility, 3) the miracle of the human subject, and 4) the miracle of the divine murmurandoms known as revelation proper. Each of these can only be understood in reference to the verticality that is woven into the nature of things: reality is always pointing beyond itself in a bidirectional manner, toward its inspiraling goround and its perichoretic deustiny.

And speaking of trees and branches, "Religion is the tremor that the shaking of our roots transmits to our branches." Maybe we can't see the root, but we can certainly tell when the branches are atremble.

Now, assuming our roots are aloft, this makes absolutely perfect nonsense. It's a metaphor, but a realmetaphor -- just as the early fathers saw Jesus as the "true myth," or the primordial myth -- dimly apprehended or pre-viewed by earlier generations -- incarnate.

Because "'Intuition' is the perception of the invisible, just as 'perception' is the intuition of the visible." And "When imagination and perception coincide, the soul is burned."


(yoinked from the bowels of Happy Acres)

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Cold Hard Facts of Music

1. Only in the last few years have I discovered the quirky greatness of Porter Wagoner. He had a syndicated TV show when I was a kid, but he might as well have been from another planet.

A perfectly crafted lyric, with a great little twist there at the end. Note also where he refers to the noises getting "louder from within." Is he referring to the naughty activity inside the house, or to the command hallucinations in his head? In three minutes the narrator goes from clueless innocence ("gosh, I'll sure surprise my wife!") to a hard-bitten cynicism in which he one-ups the worldly stranger.

It's fun to think that during the Summer of Love, when Wagoner would have appeared so out of touch to my 11 year old mind, he was actually singing of the Permanent Things, i.e., the Cold Hard Brutal Unchanging Facts of Life.

Wagoner specialized in a whole sub-genre of tortured and darkly troubled souls, 29 of which are collected in The Rubber Room. And of course, his duets with Dolly Parton define the art.

Here's a little song about another mixed race sociopath for whom things don't turn out well:

2. The Pixies: last truly great rock group? If not, who am overlooking?

3. The greatest live rock album just got greater: The Complete 1971 Fillmore East Concerts by the Allman Brothers Band. Speaking of the Permanent Things, solid audio proof of at least three of the four transcendentals, truth, beauty, and unity (although the latter was no doubt aided by performance enhancing drugs).

For you young 'uns, in this famous track, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, there are two guitar solos. The first one is by Dickie Betts, at about 3:10, and it's great: thoughtful, exploratory, and then passionate at the end. But then, after the organ interlude, comes Duane's solo at 7:48. Notice how it slowly builds to such a peak of intensity (starting at about 10:10), calms down momentarily, and then soars even higher at 11:40. There are lots of virtuosos, but few with that kind of pacing and narrative drive:

4. Fuggin' hippies in the line of fire. Classic!