Bon Voyage, Angel!
"Intimacy," writes Kenneth Schmitz, "is the self-disclosure of a personal presence;" this presence is ultimately "rooted in nothing short of the unique act of existing of each person." Thus, "in intimacy we come upon and are received into the very act of existing of another."
This whole line of thought obviously goes to Genesis' quaintly euphemistic way of equating sexual intimacy with "knowing"; in reality, this is not so quaint, but rather, goes straight to the metaphysical essence.
As an asnide, we could also say that the left celebrates privacy while devaluing and destroying intimacy. After all, to destroy persons one has only to destroy intimacy, as is understood by all totalitarian regimes.
Intimacy is the voluntary sharing of presence(s): it cannot be forced, which no doubt goes to the horror of rape, i.e., stealing what can only be given.
In intimate sharing -- in the space of intimacy -- we become more "real," or we are able to existentiate our personal reality, our Personhood.
To the extent that this is the case -- and I am assured by Petey that it is the case -- it seems to me that it is because we are images of an ultimate reality which is dynamically "structured" in the same way.
For the Father and Son are the quintessence of intimate presence to one another. You might say that threeness is far more intimate than oneness, for in the case of the latter you can only be intimate with yourself, and we know what that means: yes, it results in spiritual blindness. Three's company but one is a... lonely and pathetic number.
This concept of presence has repeatedly been making itself present to me for several weeks. If I were Henry Corbin, I might say that the Angel of Presence has been trying to get my attention, for where he differs with Plato is that for him, real ideas are not static but active presences. They are angels, or vertical messengers between levels of being. This means that you and I too are angelic beings, unless we choose not to be. This will all become clear as we proceed.
For Corbin (according to Cheetham), the Big Question is, "To what is human presence present?" "Around this question," writes Cheetham, "revolve the central motivations of the spiritual Voyager, and here lies the ultimate significance of the Personal God of all the Religions of the Book..."
Evangelicals have done us the service of re-emphasizing this notion of personal relationship. Referring back to what was said in the first few paragraphs above, at the deepest level, these two -- person(al) and relation(ship) -- might as well be synonymous, for to be a person is to have relations, while to have relations is to manifest the personal, however attenuated. It is why the world is present to us, and vice versa.
Our "limitless cosmos is full of Presences, full of Persons -- full of Angels." In the book I refer to these as "nonlocal operators standing by, ready to assist you."
Yes, that is a "joke," but only to throw the unworthy off the scent, for there is simply no question that -- however you wish to express it -- there exist benign vertical presences with whom we may "relate" and who communicate with us via a sympathetic resonance (≈).
And like all Persons, they love communicating! Conversely, it makes them sad to be ignored, again, like any other person. Communicating real truth is a joy. Why? Well, for starters, it goes back to the idea of the intimate sharing through which we make ourselves Present. It makes us really exist, or exist more real-ly.
I think it also bums out God when people pretend not to believe in him, because he is denied that unique presence and therefore the joy of that particular relationship. Why else did he create you, just for the hassle?
Looked at this way, it is up to us to render God present, each in our own uniquely personal way. This doesn't imply relativism, except that it does. Actually, it is a way to have an Absolute without absolutism and a relativity without relativism.
Corbin puts forth the wild and wacky -- but appealing -- idea that "Each human soul has a counterpart in Heaven, who is the eternal and perfected individuality of that soul."
Before you reject your Angel out of hand, please understand that Corbin is expressing a kind of undeniable truth, even if you object to his particular way of expressing it.
For what does it mean to grow, to develop, to surpass ourselves even while becoming ourselves? This clearly implies a personal telos, but what is the ontological status of this telos? Where and what and who and why is it?
You can call it an Angel, as long as you define your terms and explain what you mean. In the book, in order to free it of its mythic baggage, I just call it (¶), to distinguish it from (•). Your Angel doesn't mind, so long as you don't blow him off.
In between these two vertical attractors is the Spiritual Voyage alluded to above, which confers the direction and meaning upon our lives, the measure of which is our deepening Personhood and intimacy with God (which are two seeds of the same coon).