On the Presence of the Past and Absence of the Present
Even so, I wonder if this is both too convoluted and too... I don't want to say "mythic" sounding, but is there a more abstract way of expressing it, such that it sounds more universal and less concrete? In other words, is there a way to think through or beyond the images?
Frankly, this is what I am always trying to do. I have no idea whether it is the right thing to do, but for me, the purpose of the words is to convey a truth, such that the truth and the words are separable, and the same truth can be conveyed in different terms. This was the whole idea behind trying to come up with "empty symbols" for the accumulation and storage of concrete spiritual experience and meaning. For clearly, the word "God" is -- or can be -- entirely different from the experience of God. After all, "Allah" just means "God." But does it really?
Think back to the first person who used the word (or a word for) God. Or better, think down. This is one of Corbin's points -- that "the past is not behind us but 'beneath our feet.'" Therefore, from a certain angle -- a 45˚ angle, to be precise -- human space "possesses all its fullness in every place," such that the past is "eternally present."
I give this statement zero pinocchios, because it is completely true. Time in this view becomes spatialized, because in reality, the soul is not so much in time as time is in the soul; or, it can be either way, depending upon whether we are outside-in or inside-out.
I can see this is going to get real convoluted real fast if I'm not careful. Unlike some Sufi mystics, I want to be very concrete and very clear. No mystagoguery here, just the cosmic facts.
It is humans who decide if there is a past at all, or rather, a present for the past. To take an obvious example, our Constitution is "in the past," but only if we allow liberals to triumph. In reality, it is right beneath our feet, so our task is to render it present so as to confer upon it a future. Ultimately, this is what prevents the past from determining the present. In the case of animals, this is the case, in that they are more or less enclosed in linear time. Only humans may "contain" the past.
Quintessentially one could say the same of God and religion. Tradition, one might say, is the presence of the past beneath our feet. The "me-and-Jesus" type who denies all continuity with the past is really a kind of mirror image of the scientific materialist who does the same thing.
How's that? See if the following makes sense, especially in light of our recent discussions about what happens when we split the world in two (matter and mind) and then wonder how the world got split in half.
If we travel back in time -- or rather, down below -- to before the Big Divorce, we see that being and thought are happily married. As we have expressed it before, it is not "I think therefore I am," but "Being Is (or I AM) therefore I think." As Cheetham puts it, "thought is an expression of a mode of being."
Indeed, we must posit this reality, on pain of a permanent restraining order between thought and being. Once you remove thought from being, there is no way to put it back, such that it becomes an absurd epiphenomenon, or just a kind of parasite on being. Any "alienated" person is coming at the world from this blunt angle. He is alienated because of a prior auto-alienation -- here again, not so much in the past as down below.
Ironic that the most pretentious and self-important thinkers are the ones who implicitly render human thought entirely trivial -- you know, atheists, Darwinians, neo-Marxists, community organizers, etc. Only the properly religious person puts a kind of ultimate value on human thought, not for its own sake, but because it is the cosmic membrane between us and Truth.
So, as we've been saying, the whole modern project is founded upon this dissociation of thought and being, resulting in a denial of the human [vertical] adventure.
Now, real thinking changes us. How could it not? To say that "I once thought that but I now think this" is to say "I have changed." But there are countless forms of pseudo-thought that leave the thinker unchanged, which goes back to what was said above in paragraph three, about the difference between the experience of God and the word God.
In order to experience God, we must be present to his Presence. Obviously, if we are present but God isn't, then our own presence is not only "empty," but really inexplicable. And if God is present but we aren't... well, that's another way of saying tenure.
Allow Cheetham to explain what I think I mean, nice and easy, one point at a time. First, "the objectivity of all the sciences is based on an impersonal, abstract, and distanced relation with the knower and known," in accordance with the Cartesian dualism.
BUT, when you do this, you unwittingly bypass the present, or rather, frame it in terms of something already known. This can be done in both microscopic and macroscopically aggressive ways. In the case of the latter, this is the function of ideology, which really ends up murdering experience -- the encounter with reality -- in the crib. All of the obnoxious "narratives" of the left are of this nature, which is why they render themselves incapable of contact with reality.
But worse, in the ultimate sense, the present is understood via something that is not there and which is absent. Therefore, absence becomes the new presence, which in turn explains why the leftist is always bitter, always alienated, and always insatiable. And frankly, always stupid. No amount of rioting will fill an immaterial emptiness, just as no amount of tenure will make you wise.
Ironically, the progressive is always living in the past -- not the past beneath our feet, but the abstract past that is the efficient cause of the present. Hence the whole category of victimhood, since victims are first and foremost automated consequences of the past they have constructed for themselves. In order to "set them free," they must exit that horizontal structure and enter the vertical. But to think as a victim is to forever live in the past and to render oneself absent to the Presence, both God's and one's own.
This will become clearer as we proceed out of the present, one eternal moment at a time. Or in other words, to be continued.