Wednesday, April 08, 2015

We Don't Need Your Stinking Creativity!

Every once in awhile I do find myself saying to myself: why only eight comments? That was solid metaphysical entertainment! Two nights ago I had a dream that goes to this question of what I'm doing here. Perhaps we'll be able to weave it into today's sophering.

Back to the topic at hand, which is the convertibility of love and logos. In a footnote that could have been clearer, Schindler adverts to this "convertibility of order and love in Jesus Christ," which is in turn "revelatory of the circumincession of order and love in the Trinity..."

Now, circumincession is synonymous with perichoresis, which you might say is the interior dance of the three Persons; but the whole thing is fractal, in that the same threeness is present in each one, so it must look like... I don't know, like a dancing trinitarian fractal:

If I understand him correctly, Schindler is saying that this circumincession of love and order in the Trinity is the "primary analogue" for what we experience as beauty herebelow. To reduce it to a mathematical equation, we might say that personal order (i.e., the ordered subject) + divine love = beauty.

But that's all Schindler says about it, so we're left wanting a little more.

Help us out, Schuon!

"Art is the quest for -- and the revelation of -- the center, within us as well as around us."

We might say that it is an exteriorization of an order that transcends us, thus a kind of immanent ordering of spirit-love. In this way we imitate the creativity of the Creator -- in whom, I might add, the two cannot be separated. In other words, even more than "doing" creation, the Creator is creation. Or, he is what he does, and vice versa.

Schuon even says so in that peculiar way of his: "The essential function of sacred art is to transfer Substance, which is both one and inexhaustible, into the world of accident and to bring the accidental consciousness back to Substance.

"One could say also that sacred art transposes Being to the world of existence, of action or of becoming, or that it transposes in a certain way the Infinite to the world of the finite, or Essence to the world of forms; it thereby suggests a continuity proceeding from the one to the other, a way starting from appearance or accident and opening onto Substance or its celestial reverberations."

What this suggests is that "the man" Jesus is a kind of divine art, such that he is -- or in him is -- a continuous "transfer" of the divine beauty into our terrestrial order (and "personal order," quintessentially), for the purpose of raising that order into the divine beauty.

Yesterday we spoke of the divine attraction, of how "God is not force but attraction (to beauty and truth), persuasion, surrender-in-freedom. Or one might say that love is his force."

Therefore, we are (at least) equally attracted to the beauty as to the truth of Christ, and both paths are equally valid. Apparently this has become a controversial idea as a result of the iconoclastic tendencies of the protestant movement, but truth without beauty is... letter without spirit, light without warmth, absolute without infinite, particle without wave, etc.

So, "Art has a function that is both magical and spiritual: magical, it renders present principles, powers and also things that it attracts by virtue of a 'sympathetic magic'; spiritual, it exteriorizes truths and beauties in view of our interiorization, of our return to the 'kingdom of God that is within you'" (Schuon).

Right? In the book, I symbolize this sympathetic magic with the squiggly equal sign (≈). It can only take place between persons -- which doesn't mean that it cannot take place between you and an "inanimate" object.

What it means is that certain so-called inanimate objects -- works of genuine art -- have this effect on us because they communicate person, specifically, the Divine Person. We could say the same of the supernatural beauties of nature. Otherwise, how did they get here? These beauties are interior-to-interior communication, and ultimately person(s)-to-person(s).

Schuon kind of agrees that art is "a means of expression" of our personality, "a movement from ourselves to ourselves, or from the immanent Self to transcendent Being" and back again. The exteriorized work of art is like the contrail, or tracks left behind and below from this encounter(ing).

Which goes to why modern art is generally so deficient, because it fails to begin in reception, but rather, is mired in a promethean creativity that presumes to cut itself off from the very source of beauty. How stupid is that? Thus, it is a repetition of the Fall, only transposed to the key of art.

Again, Schuon kind of agrees, even though I'm thinking this through independently: "The modern conception of art is false insofar as it puts creative imagination – or even simply the impulse to create -- in the place of... an objective and spiritual" encounter.

In other words, we don't need your stinking creativity if it merely emerges from the abyss of your own festering sinkhole of inappropriate self-regard. For "profane art," as Schuon observes, "exists only for man and by that very fact betrays him." "Art for art's sake" is cosmic treason.

In reality, "beauty stems from the Divine Love, this Love being the will to deploy itself and to give itself, to realize itself in 'another'; thus it is that 'God created the world by love'" (Schuon).

And yes, cartesian dualism undermines all of the above, and leads directly to the grotesquely ugly world of contemporary liberalism. Schindler explains how:

"Liberalism's intended priority of method over content and its purely formal procedures entail a mechanizing of order and a 'subjectivizing' of love, thus involving us in the end in nothing less than an obstruction to holiness" and exclusion from the eternal perichoresis of order and love.

But -- and this is the good news -- nothing obligates us to participate in this cosmic inversion. At least so long as we can evade the Cake Nazis.

19 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

What this suggests is that "the man" Jesus is a kind of divine art ...

Yes, He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature ... (Hebrews 1:3).

This is why I like the ESV -- it is usually more convergent than some other translations.

4/08/2015 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

As to the dearth of comments on some of these potent posts, you've been digging in this for quite some time. For some of us, it's not that getting whacked by the cluehammer is at all unpleasant, but it still tends to leave us a little stunned.

4/08/2015 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

Bob, let me throw some encouragement your way, because I have really been enjoying your posts lately, and they have been well timed to coincide with the little bits and pieces of Polanyi that I have been trying to read in the evenings lately.

Commentary on much of anything has been light in my neck of the woods because my available slack has been close to nil, and what little there is has been spent trying to follow in some pretty overt directions shown to us. Exciting, but exhausting.

4/08/2015 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Polanyi definitely figures into the web we've been weaving. We'll eventually get to him.

4/08/2015 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Which goes to why modern art is generally so deficient, because it fails to begin in reception, but rather, is mired in a promethean creativity that presumes to cut itself off from the very source of beauty. How stupid is that?

Having been to art school I can honestly say, extremely. Also, surprisingly repetitive, as the artist who tries to create "something" from the nothing of his imagination almost inevitably ends up making the same sort of mess, over and over and over again. Quite often literally in circles. Ugly ones.

Re. the dearth of comments, as Paul noted there's only so much slack in a day, and the conspiracy never rests...

4/08/2015 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

And as all those who know me probably expected, I've been outside the post office for days waiting for the release of the Maya Angelou stamps.

4/08/2015 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

:D

4/08/2015 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Kurt said...

Bob,
I read your blog most every day. If something you write really hits home with me I may venture a comment. Your current thread of exploration has not really 'banged the gong' if you will, and that is not a negative judgment on you or on me (but I am a bit of a slow learner). Regardless of my day-to-day reaction to your words I still remember and value what I have gained through you: One Cosmos, the MOTT, Schuon, Master Eckhart, and many other treasures besides. For these gifts I will be forever grateful. Lastly, I assume at its heart your blog is for you, and that, like St. Paul, you can say: 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!' So preach on, brother! I am doing my best to keep up!

4/08/2015 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

There is no blog that comes close to yours in height, depth, and span. Hence don't get looped in the "Reign of Quantity" that pervades our culture. Or as Dogen said about having one good Raccoon.

4/08/2015 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

It's so funny that when we do comment, it's as though we're speaking out loud to hear our heads roar with the "incoming!" slack. For a holy Nothing, Slack sure has a lot to not say.

4/08/2015 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Hale Adams said...

Bob,

You write, "Every once in awhile I do find myself saying to myself: why only eight comments? That was solid metaphysical entertainment!"

Why, yes it is. Which is why your blog is a daily stop, and has been for a few years now. If I don't comment, which is 99 and 44/100 percent of the time, it's because I leave the site with a lot to think about.

Keep plugging away, Bob.

Thanks,

Hale Adams
Long-time reader, infrequent commenter
Pikesville, People's still-mostly-Democratic Republic of Maryland

4/08/2015 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"What it means is that certain so-called inanimate objects -- works of genuine art -- have this effect on us because they communicate person, specifically, the Divine Person. We could say the same of the supernatural beauties of nature. Otherwise, how did they get here? These beauties are interior-to-interior communication, and ultimately person(s)-to-person(s)."

Beauty of a post, Bob.

4/09/2015 02:36:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Now, circumincession is synonymous with perichoresis, which you might say is the interior dance of the three Persons; but the whole thing is fractal, in that the same threeness is present in each one, so it must look like... I don't know, like a dancing trinitarian fractal:"

At first I thought you said circumcision so I had to read it again. I'm glad I only misread it.

4/09/2015 03:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your book and blog have profoundly changed just about everything that goes on in my little raccoon brain. I rarely comment because I'm too busy pondering and reflecting to add anything meaningful to the conversation.

4/09/2015 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Bob, this is beautiful stuff.

4/09/2015 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Which goes to why modern art is generally so deficient, because it fails to begin in reception, but rather, is mired in a promethean creativity that presumes to cut itself off from the very source of beauty. How stupid is that? Thus, it is a repetition of the Fall, only transposed to the key of art."

That illustrates it really well, the deliberate avoidance of beauty that de-animates modern art... and those who dwell on it. "..a repetition of the Fall, only transposed to the key of art." That rings True.

4/09/2015 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"..why only eight comments?"

Sometimes there's time, sometimes there isn't.

4/09/2015 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Just to pile on - I love ya man, even though I don't tell you often enough.

But seriously, even though I don't comment very often, I enjoy this labor of love of yours and I find it not only highly entertaining, but also uplifting and certainly thought provoking.

But aside from what I get out of this website, I think you deserve our thanks and admiration for the time and effort you put into this. Yes, I'm sure you get a lot of personal growth and satisfaction too, but you have been doing this for a l-o-o-o-o-n-g time and your dedication and perseverence is commendable. Well done sir. Keep up the good work.

4/09/2015 09:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read you all the time--i have not commented in years.

There is often little to add, and I feel you are beyond cheer leading, so I do not see the need.

This post in particular is useful to me: once I made a false god out of "art" (classical music, really), but I just cannot shake my love for it. This post helps me reconcile this a bit.

4/09/2015 10:57:00 AM  

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