Angelic Beings: Always in the Last Place You Look
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.