Monday, May 11, 2015

Angelic Beings: Always in the Last Place You Look

When a human being is born-again-from-above, it follows that God is born-again-herebelow, since God will be known and expressed in a way that had previously been barred.

Cheetham calls this the "paradox of monotheism," but it's only paradoxical if we conceive of God as having no relations. If God has -- indeed, is -- relations, then every relation will be unique. Everything both IS and is WHAT it is because of this relation to the Absolutely Unique. Otherwise everything would be the same, as in multiculturalism.

For Corbin, the Holy Spirit is the "Angel of Individuation." Where things get a little weird is in his belief that each of us has a nonlocal celestial twin to whom we are attracted. You might say that this attraction, or the voyage from one to the other, constitutes the drama of our existence.

I have frequently written about this subject, except that I never thought of our true self as an Angelic Being. However, it doesn't really matter what you call it, so long as you recognize this gap between Who We Are and Who We Were Meant to Be, or between (•) and (¶).

Then again, this does raise the question of the ontological status of the latter. If it's not here, where is it? And how did it get there? And why is it so organized and so specific in its attractions, its abilities, its revulsions? Whatever the case, it is certainly as if we have a "double" or "eternal twin" toward whom we are "battling to return." Specifically,

"We are battling to unite with the Figure who completes our being..." It is as if we are forever "lagging behind" ourselves and trying to catch up. Thus "the earthly soul lives in nostalgia and anticipation, in exiled incompleteness, in longing and hope."

Or, you could just say that man is always proportioned to something transcending himself. Analogously, think of how any animal is always growing toward, or on the way to, its final mature form. The difference is that the animal or vegetable form can be attained on this side of eternity.

For man it is the same way, except that our "final form" is not to be fully realized in this world. Rather, it is always just over the subjective horizon, as we chase after our better half. What distinguishes man from the beasts is that we reach toward our nonlocal Form without ever grasping it.

However, according to Corbin, we do actually have the opportunity to meet our Celestial Twin. When we die.

Here I don't want to get bobbed down in Corbin's particular way of looking at this, but is it possible that he is conveying an essential truth that can be expressed in a more straightforward way? For it seems to me that when our soul is "weighed" on the occasion of our vertical autopsy, it cannot only be weighed on a universal scale that rigidly applies equally to everyone.

Rather, surely there must be some consideration given to who we are, and of what we were reasonably capable -- you know, to the way God made us. As one chap put it "to whom much is given, much is required."

There are also no doubt cultural considerations, for in some cultures it is easy to be good, whereas in others it is darn near impossible. For me, reading a book on theology is a joy. In the Soviet Union, or in Iran, or in China, it might get you killed.

For some reason, Corbin misses the whole christological angle in all of this. He seems to think that Christian orthodoxy obscures the truths he is trying to express, whereas I see it as the perfect expression thereof. That is, just because Christ is Objective Fact he is nevertheless known only via relationship, each relationship being unique because each person is.

Corbin even suggests that "the Supreme Being has an Angel," but I think this is another unnecessary I AMbellishment. As he puts it, the function of Angels is to "go out ahead" and "eternally manifest new horizons, open up new distances within Eternity itself."

The reason I think this is redundant is that the Trinity takes care of this issue in a more elegant way. The Trinity is forever surpassing itself because of its unending love-and-creativity.

As we mentioned a couple of posts back, this is the archetypal "timeless time" of which our "temporal time" is an image. God has a "past" and a "future," except that his past never degrades, his present is always perfect, and his future is just a novel perfection -- like an artist who never peaks out and never repeats himself. For God, it's one masterpiece after another.

Lest you be tempted to think that none of this sounds very orthodox, I've been reading another book by the theologian David Schindler, and much of what Corbin says can be translated into his more familiar idiom.

For example, "each being truly participates in [the] creational love of God, even as each does so in a way proportionate to its distinct way of being."

He quotes Ratzinger, who writes of "the inherent existential tendency of man, who is created in the image of God, to tend toward that which is in keeping with God.... If he does not hide from his own self, he comes to the insight: this is the goal toward which my whole being tends, this is where I want to go."

"Hiding from oneself" is like rejecting and cutting off relations with one's Angel.

The vertical recollection of our deeper self -- OM, now I remurmur! -- "is identical with the foundations of our existence, is the reason that mission is both possible and justified.... [M]y ego is the place where I must transcend myself most profoundly, the place where I am touched by my ultimate origin and goal."

To deny this is Genesis 3 all over again.

18 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

For Corbin, the Holy Spirit is the "Angel of Individuation." Where things get a little weird is in his belief that each of us has a nonlocal celestial twin to whom we are attracted. You might say that this attraction, or the voyage from one to the other, constitutes the drama of our existence.

Still working my way through the Corbin, I was literally just a moment ago thinking that his description of the difference between an angelic being and a mere mortal (so to speak) is a bit like what happens to white light after passing through a prism, where a whole is split into different parts. Which then of course brings one back to our Unknown Friend.

5/11/2015 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It also goes to the Kabbalistic understanding of Rabbi Steinsaltz in the Thirteen Petalled Rose, in which we are seen not as "points" but more like lines that descend from heaven to earth.

5/11/2015 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

I still think my namesake had a more elegant summation of the situation:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

That envelops the mystery in a much more powerful way for me, to the point where I really can't put it into words very well. I can easily observe the desires of my heart and my resultant behavior and see that I am not yet a new man. But! Somehow, in spite of this, at the same time, I am this new man. I know it through and through. I really have no explanation, other than this is exactly what we are told would happen to us.

Maybe I'm just a bit grouchy today, but bringing an "angelic/celestial twin" into the picture seems awfully strained and ripe for active misunderstanding. Does all of this rigamarole really add that much to the concept of telos?

5/11/2015 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Is it just a way of rendering "who you will be after you die?" There will be this future Self of yours, standing before the Godhead.

5/11/2015 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think it's just a mythic/imaginal/right brain way of expressing metaphysical truths.

5/11/2015 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's like, "here's who you could have been. Wha' happened?"

5/11/2015 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

I believe Father Baron suggests we'll all be saints in Heaven; each of us once there will be known as Saint So-and-so.

Also, as to why angelic rather than simply telos, I think telos does not always necessarily apply to "person". It could apply to mere objects, such as an axe or shovel and so forth.

5/11/2015 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

"Rather, surely there must be some consideration given to who we are, and of what we were reasonably capable.."

This recalls the parable of the talents.

5/11/2015 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

Boy, coming back and reading my comment again, I DO sound grouchy. Maybe I'll go get some coffee.

5/11/2015 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

:)

I will say, I don't think you were wrong. Then again it seemed like Bob made a similar point within the post:

"For some reason, Corbin misses the whole christological angle in all of this. He seems to think that Christian orthodoxy obscures the truths he is trying to express, whereas I see it as the perfect expression thereof."

5/11/2015 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

He seems to think that Christian orthodoxy obscures the truths he is trying to express, whereas I see it as the perfect expression thereof.

I would agree that it can obscure the truth. We want to preserve and exalt the deity and uniqueness of Christ as the Son, and we ought to be careful.

But I think, too, that we sometimes fail to appreciate how far up He pulls us toward sonship.

5/11/2015 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Paul, as to the question at the end of your first comment, another way to ask it might be, "who is this for?"

I get the impression that Corbin's biggest appeal would be to Westerners suffering from either oikophobia or the Jesus Willies. Or some combination. To such an audience, the appeal to a higher Angelic self, without the specifics of Christianity, might resonate in some way that mainstream Christianity failed to do.

5/11/2015 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

OT but I hafta share this, by Kurt Schlichter:
"We’d rather die than “live” on our knees, begging permission to exercise the right God gave us to say whatever we damn well please, whenever we damn well please, and in the manner we damn well please. And those who want to shut us up better be equally committed if they want to succeed.

After Garland, they went too far. They showed their hand and their goal, a world where they decide who gets to say what. Imagine the same hysterical social justice drama queens who shriek about microaggressions getting to decide what you can and can’t say. Just understand, you fascist bastards, that if you want to be Nazis, you’ll need to do what the Nazis did and find some armed thugs – yeah, I’m using the word “thugs” whether you like it or not – to come stop us. Tell them to wear Kevlar.

Garland and the sorry aftermath of terrorist apologetics that followed were a warning to every freedom-loving American, as well as an illustration of what one freedom-loving American with training and a Glock can do against the forces of totalitarianism. These jihadi savages tried to silence and intimidate all free Americans. They failed.

Progressives mutter without conviction about how they can’t support violence, but … but … but, in fact, they do support violence. It’s not just their chilling with bomb-planting guys around the neighborhood and free passes for the looters in Ferguson and Baltimore. They support whatever it takes to silence us."

Bravo zulu Kurt!
http://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2015/05/11/speak-free-or-die-n1996058

5/11/2015 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I tweeted the other day that liberals hate the second amendment unless it's used to deny the first.

5/11/2015 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ha! That's true. Ironically, if the left was left to their own deVices (nationally) they would hafta convert to Islam.

5/11/2015 03:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
Serpent and dove stuff. Wait for it. After you are what is called dead, that is really when the hard work happens.

Stuff does not mostly get fixed in what is called three dimensions of space, and one of time. When there is two and two, then that is hard work.

Or, what is called sacrifice bleeds out, mostly dangerous, unless provoked. That three stuff is a hologram.

Sorry about that. That up and down part is blood and time. But, work with what you have been given.

5/11/2015 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Is that you, Neal?

5/11/2015 07:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

I'm 3 and a half holographic sheets to the wind and I still don't get it.

5/11/2015 07:30:00 PM  

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