Friday, May 29, 2015

The Cosmic Law & Disorder of the Left

A brief unscheduled snidetrip while my brain wakes up.

I was arrested by this observation at Happy Acres, to the effect that "A movement toward the Left, and ultimately toward despotism and collapse, is the 'normal course of history', in exactly the same way that the 'normal course' of a river is to run downhill."

Quite true. Axiomatic even. But why? Following the quote to its source, the author points out that "the phenomenon is even more general than either history or human nature: in conformance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, it is in fact a manifestation of entropy -- of the wearing down of complex and specific structures, the destruction of the particular in favor of the general, and the relentless erosion of all of the gradients, distinctions, and disequilibria that are the only possible source of usable energy, and therefore useful work, in any system."

In short, the left is "an entropic historical force." And "any compromise with entropy is ultimately futile, because all such compromises are necessarily a unidirectional movement toward greater disorder" (ibid.).

Entropy explains the left. But what explains the right (or better, the ordered and creative liberty of conservative liberalism)?

As it so happens, this does converge upon our recent discussion of the "struggle for the true self," except that it is on a collective/political/civilizational scale. For if there is no attractor above or ahead, then chaos is the norm and order is just arbitrary, or oppressive, or meaningless. Which is pretty much what I believed when I was a leftist. It explains why the left can only destroy but not create.

This discussion takes me back to that enigmatic Russian Orthodox esoterist, Boris Mouravieff. The amazon page informs me that I purchased his book Gnosis Vol. One on March Forth! 2003. A lot of his writing is kooky, but a lot is orthoparadoxically sound. My recollection is that the three volumes become less sound -- or more occultish -- as they proceed, so the first is the best.

On page 3 he has a good description of the ordinary life of quiet entropy: "Man is so caught up in the toils of mechanical life that he has neither time to stop nor the power of attention needed to turn his mental vision upon himself. Man thus passes his days absorbed in external circumstances. The great machine that drags him along turns without stopping, and forbids him to stop under penalty of being crushed," such that "he quickly exhausts himself in the frantic race, impelled in a direction which in the end leads nowhere."

In that single paragraph he describes the absence of Slack (time theft) due to the power of the Conspiracy (the great machine), ending in Entropic Death (exhaustion leading nowhere). The result? "Life passes away from him almost unseen, swift as a ray of light, and man falls engulfed still absent from himself."

Now you know what inspired the obscure passage on pp. 257-258 that reads: So long. So short! Whoosh! there went your life (see footnote 33).

So, it's all connected in the cosmic area rug.

Should we fail to become ourselves, then naturally "life will be in effect a factitious existence," because if you're not you, who are you? Whose life are you living? "This state of things" is called "The Law of Chance, or The Law of Accident," and is "the principal law under whose authority he leads his illusory existence."

So, a lawless and disordered life that has no higher authority than transient impulses and desires is actually the most lawful life of all, except that it is the law of Chance, Accident, and Entropy. Which is why all those dysfunctional Democrat-run cities such as Baltimore are actually quite lawful. But instead of "law and order," they reflect "law and disorder."

Now, man does have different centers of consciousness, the question being which one will rule the roost, and how integrated they are. One can conceptualize these in different ways, but let's just call them intellect, emotion, and will; or mind, heart, and body.

We are not born with a harmonious synthesis of these three; to the contrary, the whole purpose of human development -- at least on the horizontal plane -- is to achieve their integration. As I also wrote in the book, we may judge the value of a culture in terms of how effectively it produces integrated and actualized human beings, the latter (actualization) largely depending upon the former (integration). In other words, it is difficult to actualize oneself in the absence of one self.

Sometimes we have to fall -- or be torn -- apart, in order to be properly put back together and reassembled in accordance with our higher clueprint.

For example, the self-satisfied entropic man will "live in the absurd and inconsequential, taking his desires and illusions for reality." Such a one is in desperate need of a kind of breakdown, or existential pimpslap; he must see his life for the meaningless null-de-slack that it is, and get out while he can. This is no doubt the principle behind Jesus's warnings to the wealthy and powerful caught up in their counterfeit versions of terrestrial slack.

Therefore, we must facilitate "a transformation of our factitious existence -- whose value is no more than potential -- into real existence."

Now, every lie is the dark penumbra of a factitious existence. And some people are lies, such that they veritably radiate darkness, as in the case of an Obama.

Truth is alive; it is a living thing, because its source and substance is Life Itself. Conversely, the Lie must partake of Death. This is the true meaning of the so-called "death culture," which is really founded upon a lie culture.

Here again, this is precisely what Jesus means with his crack about those who will be "persecuted for my sake." Yes, it is difficult to "love one's enemies." But bear in mind that telling them the truth is a way of loving them while irritating them at the same time, so perhaps not.

Importantly, the Lie doesn't just function in terms of its content, but rather, its very form. That is to say, the Lie is a way of achieving a kind of factitious continuity in the self. A narcissist such as Obama, for example, lives in a narrative in which he is so brilliant that he is always right about everything, and therefore entitled to appropriate our God-given Slack. That is an enviable psychic continuity, but obviously quite thin and brittle, and dependent upon millions of enablers to help prop up the fantasy.

Mouravieff describes what would happen if such a Lie were suddenly taken away: "Life would become impossible due to the shocks and conflicts which we would have to face." Here we see that the real function of lie is to serve as a buffer, "like the buffers of railway carriages which soften shocks."

So, Rule One in the adventure of consciousness is to stop lying, especially to yourself. Think about it: how can the lie get you anywhere except deeper into it? If, as Mouravieff says, the goal is "the march [forth] towards Consciousness," then it would be a contradiction in terms "to try to approach the truth while continuing to lie to ourselves or to believe in our own lies."

In short, the vertical march is a march toward truth, and vice versa. Conversely, lying is the satanic eucharist, such that when we eat it, it eats us, like in that Garden once upin a timeless.

I want to get back to the subject of the Law of the Left, which is entropy. Mouravieff calls it the General Law, whereas the Raccoon just calls it vertical gravity. Thankfully there is another law that opposes the General Law, or just call it the Great Attractor.

As we always say, man is situated between two vertical attractors; call them God and Satan if you like, but those terms might be too loaded.

For Mouravieff, "the Devil" is simply "the personalized moral aspect of the General Law"; he is the personification of a principle, so you needn't literally believe in satan so long as you see how he operates, which is via the broad way that leads to destruction and dissipation -- the abyss -- as opposed to the strait gate and narrow way that lead to Life and Truth -- the other Abyss.

What I really want to say is that time will indeed be entropic or cyclic at best unless we step in to prevent it. Hence the old adage that any institution that is not explicitly conservative will eventually drift toward the left.

Preventing this eventuality requires the ingression of truth into an otherwise vertically closed system. At the other extreme -- should truth be more or less completely rejected -- is a Flood or Holocaust of total destruction, which is where the left always leads us.

But as we all noah, at least those of us who survive the flood get a fresh start.

Mouravieff says that the "bipolar" structure of our intelligence exactly mirrors the structure of "the World," in that both are situated between what we call the two Attractors. The point is to lay up those upper vertical treasures that moths can't eat and thieves can't steal. The more we are bound to the lower, the less power we have, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. Rather, "power means liberty," or freedom of vertical movement. Which is why the meek shall inherit the earth and blessed are the poor in spirit, and all that.

So, we got that going for us.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bob, Bobber, and Bobbest

Whether you are a religious believer or merely a faithful atheist, you have to admit that the structure of human existence is a little strange.

What I mean is, all living things have a telos, i.e., a mature form toward which their development is drawn, or at least might as well be.

I remember reading Sheldrake's A New Science of Life, on morphic resonance and formative causation, way back when it came out in the early 1980s. Something about his presentation struck (even) me as a little dodgy, but I don't see any way around the broader point that biology makes no sense at all in the absence of teleonomy, which essentially comes down to "future causation."

I see that the wiki article on teleonomy mentions Robert Rosen in the third paragraph, and it wasn't until his books fell into my lap that I felt I had a Coonworthy theoretical biologist to bring along on the bus.

Rosen may be saying some of the same things as Sheldrake, but since half the time I have no idea what he's talking about, it gives me confidence that he knows what he's talking about. In contrast, Sheldrake comes across as rather facile, and in the ensuing years has become downright Chopraesque.

Another rider we picked up along the way was the apparently obscure philosopher Errol Harris, whom we don't discuss much. He wrote a number of books, beginning with Revelation Through Reason, which were revelations to me at the time, but I have since then become more reasonable.

Let's inspect some of my Higher Marginalia in the latter book, shall we? "Life is the universe flowing through itself." That is literally true, because instead of traveling in a straight line, toward entropy and disorder, the universe somehow wraps around itself, creating a boundary through which energy and information pass. That's life.

A lot of this must have stuck with me, for example, "God's reality cannot be denied, as any such denial must rest on grounds which only God's reality can provide" (that may be a direct quote or my own formulation).

Here is another proof of God: "Every proposition is contingent, but in order for this to be so, there is one fact that must be asserted, and that is the existence of the completed system.... The perfected whole of knowledge and reality is, therefore, the necessary presupposition of all reasoning and all proof. The denial of its reality is self-refuting, such that without God's existence all rational discourse is undermined."

But we're getting a little far afield. Back to the weird structure of human existence. Just as every animal develops toward its mature form, human beings also mature toward theirs. The Big Difference is that this doesn't just take place in the key of matter -- i.e., our bodily form -- but is somehow transposed to the key of psyche.

In other words -- and I don't see how this can be denied, any more than biological teleonomy -- human beings develop towards their "true" (or at least truer) selves. That may not be the most felicitous terminology, but the main point is that we always live in a kind of dynamic and fruitful tension that reaches toward our better, or fuller, or more actualized selves: in my case, Bob, Bobber, and Bobbest.

Which is precisely Corbin's point, with all the angel business.

Because the first thing the curious primate wants to know is, "since this higher Bob is not yet here, where is he?" In other words, he surely "exists," but only in potential. But where is this "potential existence," and what is its ontological status? What about Bob?

For Corbin, this true self is our "angel." It is the source of our uniqueness, our individuality.

Again, it is indeed curious that, just as each human being has a distinctly recognizable face, we somehow possess a unique self, even if it is only in potential and generally stillborn. Much of the drama of history has involved creating political and economic conditions that will allow the self to be born and to flourish in this world.

This flaming article by Ann Coulter helps explain why this is so, as most cultures essentially function to either suppress individuality or allow only pathological versions of it. Liberals will no doubt call her "racist" for being so objective about these worthless cultures.

What happens to an animal if it is prevented from achieving its mature form? Another name for this is death, since the maturation process will take care of itself so long as something or someone doesn't prevent it.

Does something similar -- okay, identical -- occur with regard to psychological development, i.e., soul death, or zombiehood?

If zombies could vote, they would vote for someone like, I don't know, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, and that could never happen here, of all places, the Land of the Free and Home of the non-Zombies.

Rather than using the loaded term "angel," my preference is to simply use an unsaturated placeholder, or pneumaticon, for the angelic phenomena. The symbols I use came to me in about five minutes. Perhaps they look like it, but they have nevertheless done the job over the past ten or fifteen years, in this case (¶). When Corbin says "angel," I just think (¶), as in the following:

Each (¶) "is unique because it mirrors the potential individuality of the soul. It is a call to our individuality. Becoming yourself is a task. We are born with the potential to become who we truly are -- to engage in the struggle for the [¶] who is our celestial counterpart" (Cheetham).

I'll have more time tomorrow. To be continued...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dreams and Delusions

The first thing that occurred to me upon hitting the publish button yesterday, was "what about the Constitution?"

Recall that we were speaking of the necessity of ambiguity in order to avoid turning words and texts into idols. Wouldn't the leftist enthusiastically respond, "Exactly so! Which is why we cannot allow ourselves to be imprisoned in the unambiguity of a bunch of 18th century empenised people of pallor."

First of all, the leftist pretends to find ambiguity where there is none, in order to disingenuously "discover" his preferences there, such as government bans on free speech and guns, or the right to a dead baby, or compulsory racial and gender discrimination, or the power to impose a new definition of the word "marriage."

More generally, what is the difference between deconstruction and Raccoonstruction?

First, we must inquire into where language comes from. From the scientistic perspective, it must in some sense be continuous with matter, and therefore come from below.

Conversely, in our logocentric perspective, language is essentially an emanation of God; it comes from above, which explains, for example, how it is able to so effortlessly embody and transmit truth and beauty.

Those latter capacities become inexplicable in the bottom-up view. But that doesn't stop the left, because with truth out of the way, they have the opening to project power and desire into language, turning it into a form of domination. The rest is politics.

Note the interesting trick: through deconstruction we slip through the bars of language, only to be recaptured by something worse.

In reality, ambiguity is only ambiguous with reference to the providentially unambiguous. Thus, the ambiguity of the constitution, for example, must be interpreted in light of its more unambiguous reason for being.

When we are confronted with an ambiguity in the text, it must be examined in the con-text of its overall purpose, or that toward which it is designed to converge upon, e.g., to secure God-given rights that are anterior to the state. The ambiguity cannot be used as a pretext to deny the very purpose of the text.

In reality, language does span the entire spectrum of reality; the leftist is half right in his belief that it proceeds from matter to mind, but all wrong in failing to see that this is only possible because of a prior involution from intelligence to matter, or from God on down. To promulgate the former while denying the latter is to saw off the limb one is sitting upon while bellowing incomprehensibly at the tree. You know, tenure.

Remember, language is symbolic, and a symbol is something "thrown across." Thus, a symbol is a link between worlds. As a result, there are two possible errors: one redounds to what Whitehead calls the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, such that language becomes its own end instead of pointing beyond itself; it is rendered closed to transcendence. The other error is to open it up, but only toward the lower vertical.

Corbin's whole project involves opening language to the upper vertical, so that it may restore its highest purpose of "translating messages from a divine source."

Now clearly -- for it is axiomatic -- language cannot contain what contains it. Language can never exhaustively describe the world, for which we may literally thank God, AKA our ultimate Container. As Cheetham says, "only a tiny fraction of reality is ever accounted for in any theory of anything." Nevertheless, an ideologue such as Obama does not live in reality, but rather, in his theory about it. Nice theory. Wrong species.

You could say that the leftist is able to achieve a level of psychic comfort by relaxing in the safety and security of his own delusions. Why then are they so congenitally unhappy and agitated? Thomas Sowell provides a clue (via Happy Acres): to spend your life replacing what works with what sounds good is a recipe for misery, because reality always has the last word (because it is the first Word).

Theories are fine and necessary things, but they are tools, not houses. They allow us to "see things," but can "blind us to everything else" if we enclose ourselves in one. "If it's a good and useful interpretation, then it is easy to take literally, and then it becomes hard to continue seeing in other ways. That is why it's important to keep that dreamlike hesitancy and ambiguity as our primary mode of awareness. Useful interpretations are like tools, and we need to remember to put them down" (Cheetham).

Only you can keep the Dream alive! Or kill it.

With regard to the latter, think of the function of art, which is always a kind of living dreamwork: "the nature of any artistic activity, if it's valuable, is a journey and is of value only in so far as the journey... goes somewhere, comes back and reports what it has found there. Art is the report of a place, not an idea about something" (Kelly, in Cheetham).

Most contemporary art, since it has been barred from the high road, comes back with reports of the lower vertical. Thus, it is not art properly so-called, but closer to proctology or composting or necrophilia. It is simultaneously not enough and too much information.

Cheetham references Emerson, who wrote that "all symbols are fluxional" and "all language is vehicular and transitive," such that its proper function is "as ferries and horses are, for conveyance, not as farms and houses are, for homestead."

Language can become frozen at one end or dissipated at the other, but it really needs to maintain a kind of fluidity and openness to what transcends us.

Only in this way can vertical murmurandoms annunciate themselves and be enfleshed in the womb of human language, and thereby illuminate the way up.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Seeing Through Atheism and Other Idols

As we mentioned a few posts back, an icon is the opposite of an idol: we look at the latter but through the former. Thus, we should never an idolator be, but always through an icon see.

See what?

"[O]ur quest," writes Cheetham, "is to recover the interior speech, the language of our deep self." Therefore, the last thing we want to do is turn words into idols and speech into idolatry.

Rather, language must remain transparent to its true object, so as to avoid ending in a brightly endarkened null-de-slack of unambiguous meaning.

When language becomes unambiguous, it is time to reach for your revolver. Among other enormities, you are about to be deprived of your vertical freedom, which is to say, your freedom to be who you are, which is freedom lived (or incarnated; freedom is the incarnation of the true self, just as the true self is the incarnation of freedom).

There are some exceptions to this rule, as in pure math or metaphysics, but even then math is transparent to beauty, while metaphysics is ultimately transparent to God; neither is simply an end in itself.

In his famous Apology, the mathematician G.H Hardy writes that "A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns," patterns made of ideas. These patterns "must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colours or words, must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics."

Note the surprising use (in a discussion of mathematics) of that word must: the patterns must be beautiful. Normally we think of mathematics as the Land of Must, of pure necessity (if not tautology).

But here Hardy is situating mathematics in the Higher Musticism of transcendent beauty. As such, he is not idolizing numbers, but properly icon-ilizing them. He sees right through their tricks.

All language is symbolic, meaning that it is a bridge between worlds. But the world itself is made of language, so one might say that religion as such is the symbolic link between heaven and earth, celestial and terrestrial, God and man, vertical and horizontal.

And if this pre-existing Logos actually becomes man, it means -- in a manner of speaking -- that God is "symbolizing" himself in man (just as we symbolize God via the man Jesus).

Or to paraphrase Schuon, Jesus is at once God's icon of man and our icon of God. In between is the space through which symbolic forms are tossed back and forth, or rather, clothe and channel the up-and-down energies.

"[T]he text of the world, and the soul itself" are "metaphors for the reality from which they derive. Meta-phor means to 'carry over,' and the metaphoric vision of reality sees through the literal appearance of things to the ever-shifting and mysterious Presence that lies behind the daylight Face of things" (Cheetham).

A face is a window on the soul; it is itself a manner of expression, the first symbolic evidence (in the form of the mothers's smile) of the interiority of the world.

Thus, the First Face is also a bridge between worlds, interior to interior and soul to soul. It ushers us into a "mode of perception" that is simultaneously a "mode of being," "a way of living that refuses the literal. It is how we can live the refusal of idolatry" and transform idols into icons.

The idol is a prison. For example, I mentioned a few months ago that when I first studied psychoanalysis, it was as if I were imprisoned or contained in an idol. It was depressing, because it was one of those confining null-de-slacks alluded to above.

One could say the same of Darwinism, or feminism, or any other modern intellectual pathology. Each one traps you in its idolatry and restricts vertical movement.

Cheetham links this problem to the widespread acquisition of literacy and its access to the text -- which is no doubt why the tenured are the biggest idolaters of all.

The text contributes to the illusion of a static, cutandry meaning, for which reason scientism and a certain type of Protestantism are mirror images of one another. Bibliolatry is no more or less literal than any scientistic idolatry (or any other ideology, which are really masturbatory idea-olatries).

This is not a new problem, only more widespread. For example, "Plato worried about what would happen when people started to read his words fixed on a page rather than think along with him in dialogue -- he feared that they would take his words 'literally.'"

There are Christians who believe in sola scriptura, which leads one to wonder how the first Christians learned about Christianity before the Bible was canonized 300 years after the death of Jesus. The New Testament is the deposit of their faith, not its first cause or ground source.

The good news about the Good News? The Book "recognize[s] this danger in various ways and provides hermeneutic techniques for keeping the mystery of the words alive" (ibid.). Which we will get into tomorrow.