Friday, December 04, 2015

Coming to a Theater Near You, Your Life

In a comment, reader Magister suggests that life is analogous to a film, but to what is a film analogous?

Hey, I should know this because back off man, I was a film major. Yes, like the esteemed James Taranto I attended Cal State Northridge, the Harvard of the west San Fernando Valley. Except in my case I bothered to graduate. By which I mean they let me slide with a "gentleman's BA."

Why did I major in film? Because I couldn't think of an easier subject. Except for PE, and even I have more self-respect than that.

Turned out to be more difficult than I had imagined, but it goes to show that some things never change, in this case, my basic temperament. I've just never been able to take the Conspiracy seriously. Things it regards as important are malevolent or silly to me, whereas things I think are important are attacked or devalued -- if noticed at all -- by Big Con.

My whole life, at least from the age of nine or so, has been focussed on outwitting the Conspiracy. I've had some wins and some losses, but overall, I would say I've been able to preserve my sacred eccentricity and thus my Slack. So, open your Encirclopedia to page 261 and let's say it together:

Do the monkey bone, do the shingaling, get your slack back & take a trip, slip, lose your grip, & turn a backover flip and say: not the god of the philosophers, not the god of the scholars!

You know, like Pascal.

Back to the subject at hand: yes, your life is like a film. But what is the film really about? There are characters of course, conflicts, a crazy plot, and also a theme. What's yours? I already told you mine: Slack vs. Conspiracy. Everything else is a subset of that.

We've no doubt discussed this in the past, but I don't recall what I wrote, and besides, readers come and some even go, so it won't be a stale bobservation for one or two of you.

Volume One of Gnosis by slack hustler Boris Mouravieff has some helpful things to say. Indeed! I just opened the book to a random page and out popped this:

"... [S]omeone who has studied esoteric science can and must better understand the comedy of life, in which pretentious blind men lead other more modest blind men towards an abyss which will engulf both" (italics in original).

This is so true it tickles and hurts at the same time -- unless you just can't think of a Pretentious Blind Man who is leading our nation toward an abyss.

Now, the term "esoteric science" is a bit pretentious and bordering on the conspiratorial itself. For our counter-conspiratorial cult, the Cosmic Raccoons, "esoteric science" is just the way things really are. It's "esoteric" in the same sense that Bob is "abnormal" while actually being normal.

In other words, for the Raccoon, the most esoteric thing of all is a little common fucking sense.

Thus the false esoterism of the tenured, which is just more blindness from the pretentious -- systematic myopia masquerading as another -- and superior -- form of vision.

Real vision is of course 20/, which really means that the Raccoon can perceive the Infinite from any angle or distance, even its Fine Prince.

You might say that seeing the Infinite Abyss prevents us from falling into all the manmade ones.

Still, we must be cautious, as there are snares everywhere: "He who studies esoteric science must watch, and take care not to return once again to the crowd, nor, 'like everyone else,' to follow that broad way that leads to the abyss" (Mouravieff).

This is reminiscent of that fine prince's remark to the effect that He who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for service in the Kingdom of Slack.

Blah blah yada yada, time has seven dimensions, the last one being O, which is the Alpha and Omega: "It is not the void. It is the seed and end" of all that exists. It is source and destiny. You can't actually get out of it anyway -- that's a tip-toptical delusion, right? -- so you might as well be in it.

Put it this way. What we call "science" -- I mean the whole existentialada, not just this or that discipline -- tries to account for the whole of reality. You might say that it superimposes its vision over O, and does a pretty decent job of it, or at least metacosmically blind folks fall for it.

Nevertheless, there is always a gap between this and reality, and this gap is infinite. Or better, as Mouravieff terms it, there is a "zone of illusion" between us and reality, AKA O. Grace is here -- among other reasons -- to get us over that hump, i.e., to swim the moat.

In fact, here is where I differ with Mouravieff (and there are many such differences), because no amount of effort on our part can propel us over the void. To believe so is... the last temptation, as it were -- the sort of thing to which Jesus was tempted in the desert.

The Raccoon "takes the easy way out" by following the Law of Attraction instead of the Law of Force. But orthoparadoxically, it obviously takes a lot of effort to give up and trust God, no?

Another important orthoparadox is that what they call "civilization" is really a great wilderness, whereas genuine civilization is always out here in the bewilderness. For it is here where all the inaction -- the evolutionary non-doodling -- takes place. It is in this space of bewilderness -- unplugged from the conspiratorial grid -- that we may float upstream on wings of Slack, AKA grace.

The conspiracy loves its own. Therefore it hates us. But the tool's reproach is a kingly title, is it not?

I might add that the conspirator is in a cage, so he can't even really get at you. He needs you for food, but if you just ignore him he'll starve. Atheists, for example, need us. We don't need them, except maybe to toy with and sharpen our arguments and insultainments.

Ah, here's the part I was looking for: "between the limits drawn by birth and death" is a film representing "the life of each of us, all the beings we have met, and the ensemble of material and moral circumstances which surround us."

We watch -- or experience -- this film through a little slot we call the "present." Now, it seems that this present can't really be a part of the film per se.

Rather, it must somehow be outside or above it, right? Or at least more or less so. We all know people who are so immersed in their film that they are unable to stand back and see where it is going or what is the point of it all.

So, the Present has a kind of breadth and depth, does it not? And isn't the Conspiracy always trying to compress this slot and draw us into the agitation and drownian emotion of its urgent nihilocracy? That's the function of the liberal media, to force us to play roles in its low budget film-narrative.

Note that one is either in or out of this narrative. If you are in it, you are not permitted to be out.

Which is why a liberal, for example, is not permitted to watch Fox News, or not permitted to question global warming, or not permitted to doubt vulgar Darwinism.

But once outside the narrow slot of the Conspiracy, one awakens to the wider world -- the expansive cosmic bewilderness. It's so roomy here, who would want to leave?

To reiterate, the "essential aim" is to broaden "the individual slot that opens directly on the Present" (ibid.). Do that and you can read the Signs of the Times like a lesser man reads the clowns of the Times.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Freedom: Divine, Human, and Anti-human

For Hartshorne, God is still omniscient, in that he knows infallibly all that can be known. It's just that he can't know what can't be known in principle.

In a similar sense, he is obviously free, but not to violate his own nature. Like any other person, he is constrained by who he is!

It really comes down to freedom and creativity -- whether these words really mean what they mean, or are just nice sounding platitudes.

Is there freedom in God? Then God is undetermined to himself. Are we free? Then we are (at least partly, but genuinely) undetermined by and for God.

Thus, "Either we determine the divine knowing, in some degree, or we determine nothing at all.... if we cannot do this, then we have no freedom whatsoever."

Not only does this touch on freedom and creativity, but love and truth, for what is the merit of love if it is determined and therefore compulsory? What is its value if it isn't freely given? Is it even love anymore?

In this context, what does it mean to say God is love, if love operates like an inanimate machine? Again, it is reduced to a kind of meaningless platitude.

In my world, truth is the virtue and light of the intellect. If our beliefs are determined -- if we are not free to discover and devote ourselves to truth -- then what is its merit? Eliminate freedom and we eliminate truth.

So, all of these things -- freedom, love, truth, creativity, relationship, and goodness -- are densely connected in the divine hyperspace; each is a necessary reflection of the others. Not one of them is understandable without its sister transcendentals.

When we say that "God is unchanging," it means that he is unchanging in these necessary attributes. His love, for example, is steadfast, but steadfast is not the same as static, for how can love ever be static?

What happens when the Divine Freedom confronts the human freedom? Yes, the Incarnation, but when God incarnates he does so as man, and not just a man. Or, at the very least, we are free to participate in that ultimate drama of freedom.

I suppose there are millions of self-styled Christians who don't believe in the Trinity. To which I would say, if God isn't Trinity, then to hell with it. Who needs him?

For me, that sort of God is literally equivalent to no God. It's certainly not a God I can relate to, because there would be nothing relative in him.

Does such a vision of God limit his power or glory or supremacy? Well, what is power? Or, what would it mean to exert power but not respond to what is produced or brought about by the power?

Isn't this like a dictator or tyrant, all Who and no Whom? Yes, it's "power," but is it divine power? Which type of leader is more like God, the autocrat or the servant-leader who is intimately related to his subjects?

This touches on a quintessential difference between Christianity, on the one hand, and leftism or Islamism on the other.

For the latter two, God, or ultimate power, comes down to authority and obedience. Freedom -- and therefore truth and love -- doesn't enter into it.

Allah, whatever else he is, isn't especially lovable, as far as I can tell. Seems to me he's more interested in respect than love. And he certainly doesn't care about freedom, for in every nation dominated by Islam, freedom is conspicuously absent.

Freedom is a Christian value. Even the left's perverse version of it could only exist in a Christianized person who has simply severed it from its sister transcendentals (in particular, a prior moral responsibility without which freedom is not only inconceivable but toxic).

God is creative -- it says so in the first sentence of the Bible -- therefore he contains alternatives within himself. The world isn't necessary. He could have created another world.

But I would suggest that he cannot not create, any more than he cannot fail to love.

Again, when we speak of God's "changelessness," I think this is what we are referring to. Creating is necessary. This or that creation are contingent.

As it so happens, all this far-out Christian Duddism we've been discussing lately has profound links to Evolution 2.0, that is, the real evolution, not just the watered down Darwinian variety.

For with the God we have described above, creative evolution becomes necessary instead of an impossible absurdity (which it is for both creationists and atheistic Darwinans).

But that's the subject of a different post, one that will appear "necessarily," even if the contingent details are not worked out at this time.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Hovering in Love Around the Above

In response to yesterday's post, reader Magister suggests that life is analogous to a film, and that "whether the film is already shot is a matter of perspective. To those immersed in time, it can never appear to be already shot," in contrast to God, who is "both in and outside time."

That is precisely the issue, or one of them, anyway. Take only the Incarnation, which is analogous to the director jumping into his own film or the playwright into the play.

Thus, if God is subjecting himself to the full monty of humanness, then surely he is submitting to time, no? For if he isn't, then not only is he excluding one of the most characteristic features of humanness, but he isn't really with us all the way to the end of our cosmic predicament. Not even the beginning, really, since it all begins in time. For humanness, time is surely of the essence.

Magister continues: "The question to me is this: how must we understand the relationship between God’s be-ing and His knowledge? If God's being is infinite, then so too must be His knowledge. Otherwise, it is difficult for me to understand how God could be present to something and not know it. The two must be co-extensive.

"I’m not sure then what to make of a claim that God’s omniscience and his omnipresence can be separated. Jewish thinkers have speculated about a void' (tsimstum?) that God created to put a space between Himself and creation, a space where He is neither present nor, presumably, even aware. I get the metaphor, but have a difficult time seeing the logic in it."

Allow me. Regarding tzimtzum, it is an important Kabbalistic concept meaning God's prior "withdrawal" from being in order to leave a zone of real cosmic and human freedom.

This is a metaphysical concept, so it cannot really be contrasted to the physics of the big bang. I wouldn't take tzimtzum absolutely literally; rather, it's an "as if" story that helps to elucidate the phemomena -- you know, like Darwinism.

But it is as if, instead of expanding outward with a badda-bing, badda BANG!, God first "contracts" to "a point of infinite density" before taking up the work of creation with the resultant void; this void is the Great Nothing out of which and into which God creates. It very much reminds me of the Tao, which says, for example, that we build a house but use the space.

I appreciate this way of looking at things because it is so "existentially near," so to speak. When we say, for example, "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," we are acknowledging that God is present in heaven in a way that is different from his presence on earth.

Under celestial conditions he is "fully present," but here on earth he seems to be slightly introverted. He doesn't overwhelm us or suck all the oxygen from the room. He gives us our... space. He is not, in the words of the Book of the Same Name, an "ainsoferable gnosis all."

As to the relationship between God's being and knowledge, yes, in him knowledge -- which is to say truth -- would be entirely wrapped up in his being (as would the other transcendentals, beauty, goodness, and unity). However, it would seem to me that God's ultimate attributes are love and relationship -- AKA Trinity -- such that God's being is always a giving-and-receiving.

I think this goes to Mushroom's later comment to the effect that "There is an eternal 'depth' to time like a spring boiling up from beneath." Now we're plunging into the Eckhart of the matter, because that is precisely how the Meistero describes it. Admittedly we are attempting to describe the indescribable, and yet, I don't think God wants us to be out here with no earthly idea of what goes on in there.

In one of my favorite books, Bernard McGinn writes of "the dynamic reciprocity of the 'flowing forth' of all things from the hidden ground of God, and the 'flowing back,' or 'breaking through,' of the universe into essential identity with this divine source."

Now, I think this flowing-forth and flowing-back result in "change" in God. You could say that with the Incarnation, God includes man in this eternal freeflow of the Trinity. We are cordially invited to participate in this same eternal creation-in-love. How this can be reduced to a static and changeless reality, I have no idea. Who needs a heart that doesn't beat?

Magister writes that "Emotionally, I'm all for freedom, joy, unpredictability, improvisation, and unpredictability. I completely agree with Bob: 'I'd want to create a little realm of unpredictability just to relieve the tedium!'”

Well, what we have outlined above provides an airtight alibi for belief in the divine freedom, unpredictability, and improvisation, AKA the Adventure of Consciousness in which we may participate -- but only by mirroring God's own kenosis, i.e., chucking our illusions of control and predictability and surrendering to the the flow (especially the vertical flow of grace). Conversely, to be drifting downstream in the creek of time without a kenosis is to be sealed up in our own personal hell.

Magister continues that "In the Thomistic view, God is an infinite supernova of creative love. All be-ing is present to Him, the good and the evil, He sees it all elapse, He responds to its elapsing, and He has it all, every bit of it, in His embrace. But here we can only resort to metaphor. God does not experience the sequential thing called 'tedium' because God is not only in time."

Well, yes and no. If he does indeed "respond" -- and he does -- to things that are in time, then he has surrendered at least a part of himself to time. It's just that he always "enlivens" time, and I would go so far as to say that he is the life in the time, which is why in a genuine religious practice, we enjoy the time of our lives.

Again, the Incarnation is necessarily an In-temporalization. And we have heard it from the wise that this temporalization shall continue to the end of the age, during which Christ is "always with us." Being that we are undoubtedly in time, then if God is with us, then he too is in time.

Think of the alternative -- which strikes me as absurd -- in which "God influences all things, nothing influences God" (Hartshorne). What, is God autistic, like Obama, oblivious to the reality he has brought about?

But Genesis tells us that this is not the way God rolls. Rather, each time he creates, he responds to what he has created by declaring it "good." It seems to me that if he just creates but doesn't respond to his own creation, then that is more like the God of deism, in which there is one creation, one time, and then we're on our own.

I won't press the point, but for me, this is a more sublime description of our Ultimate Reality: "He influences us supremely because he is supremely open to our influence. He responds delicately to all things, as we respond delicately to changes in our nerve cells," although "Of course, his delicacy is infinitely greater" (ibid.). And no way would we have this delicate responsiveness if he didn't first.

The point is, the creation is a two-way street, not a one-way nul-de-slack. And in this regard, it again mirrors the interior of the Trinity. Therefore, if becoming is the primary reality, then God's being is only an abstraction from his perpetual becoming-in-Trinity.

Thus, in contrast -- or better, addition -- to Magister's point above about God's being and knowledge being co-extensive, prior to this would be his becoming and his knowing. And this is indeed "infinite delight."

In conclusion, our love of God is a kind of floating on the currents of his eternal trinitarian mystery. Don Colacho even says so:

To love is to hover without rest around the impenetrability of a being. And Religious thought does not go forward, like scientific thought, but rather goes deeper.

Hovering in vertical space, drawn ever deeper into the vortex of the Great Attractor. The Raccoon lifestyle.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Cosmic Freedom and Divine Presence

Not much time this morning... Continuing with our theme of divine omniscience, it seems to me that God can either be omniscient (in the traditional sense) or free, but not both. After all, to be free is to be undetermined, but to know everything in advance is to be completely determined.

I feel as if I'm beating a dead horse, but the vast majority of believers would apparently disagree on this point. Rather, God by definition knows everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen. I can go along with the first two, but not the third, because the second -- the present -- includes a space of real freedom and therefore uncertainty. Woo hoo!

We used to have an irreligious reader who would come by and flog his theory that man has no free will, but is totally caused by antecedents. I could never make him realize that if his theory were universally true (and it was probably more or less true of him), then truth itself would be impossible because there would be no point of vantage outside the deterministic system. (I say true "of him," because the theory was likely an autobiography of his sense of being enclosed in and determined by his mind parasites.)

If everything is just an effect of antecedents, then there can be no exception for your little theory. So the theory falls by its own standard: eliminate freedom and you simultaneously abolish truth and creativity. D'oh!

There is existence and there is experience. Perhaps the central mystery of the cosmos is how the former becomes the latter -- how experience gets in here at all, and what is its meaning.

Now, one of the first principles of the ancient Raccoon teachings is that you can't derive experience from existence. There's not even a theory for a theory of how this would be possible on a purely scientific basis, i.e., how an objective universe can become subjective -- how the outside can become inside and then perceive and understand its own outside.

It's difficult enough to comprehend how a single cell can become a human being, but an even deeper issue is how a dead cosmos can come to life without presupposing Life.

Experience can only take place in the present, and indeed, in a certain way, is the present. If that is the case, then "presence" and "experience" co-arise, such that each moment is reality presencing itself.

But if there were no being to experience the presence, then the present wouldn't exist. It seems to me that there would just be a kind of perpetual "pasting," i.e., one damn objective thing after another, each determined by its immediate predecessors. But how can you even say "object" without implicitly positing the Subject?

Is the present a function of the experiencer, or vice versa? I think ultimately the whole existentialada falls apart unless we posit a Divine Experiencer. Remove him from the equation, and I don't see how you get to subjects, to human beings, and to the present (in which freedom and creativity are expressed).

Hartshorne: "To live is to decide, and decide anew, each moment." If each moment is already decided for us, then life is a kind of illusion. We are really dead, or at least there is no fundamental difference between being dead and being alive.

Here we go: "we shall never understand life and the world until we see that the zero of freedom can only be the zero of experiencing, and even of reality" (ibid.). And another Raccoon principle is that it is experiencing all the way down, because the manifested world is really a prolongation of the Divine Experiencer; or, to put it another way, God can create nothing that doesn't reflect his God-ness.

The cosmos is shot through with organicism, or internal relations, which is why every teeny weeny, right down to the last itsy bitsy, "is in some measure free; for experiencing is partly free act. Thus creativity, emergent novelty, is universal" (ibid.).

To see this, one must only look through the correct end of the cosmic telos-scope. Among other benefits, "with the admission of universal creativity, dualism loses its necessity."

Experiences are facts; the only question is, what else is fact? --Charles Hartshorne

Monday, November 30, 2015

If I Were Omniscient, I'd Give it Up for a Moment of Creativity

I'm not sure how anyone, even God, could know the future in every detail. If the future were determined, why would grace need to exist as a kind of separate Godling (or Godding, i.e., a verb) who largely manifests by changing the course of one's life, AKA the future?

So, what is God's relation to this unknowable thing we call the future?

Hartshorne writes that knowledge and prediction of the future aren't merely limited by ignorance, "but by the very meaning of the future," what with our countless "decisions yet unmade, issues not yet settled even by the totality of causes already operating."

In other words, in order to know the future, one must not only know every cause before it becomes an effect, but an infinitude of variables that aren't yet even causes.

It's a big job.

Furthermore, if the world could be known in this way, it would eliminate creativity: "Reality is predictable just in so far as it is not creative, but rather mechanical, automatic, compulsive, habit-ridden" (ibid.).

So yes, much of our world is "uncreative and hence predictable." But who wants to live in such a world? And if we don't want to, why on earth would God? Indeed, if I were an omniscient God, I'd want to create a little realm of unpredictability just to relieve the tedium! Otherwise you reduce God to the last word in obsessive-compulsive disorder. You make him a control freak.

Speaking of having skin in the game, I think this must apply quintessentially to the Incarnation. I'm not one of those people who thinks the whole thing was orchestrated from beginning to end.

Rather, the entire arc of the Incarnation -- the theo-drama -- involves a confrontation between two freedoms, divine and human. This means it plays out creatively, with the only sure thing being that God will somehow find a way to redeem man, no matter how weird the details. And boy, did they turn out weird!

I might add that if the future is known, it makes it absolutely indistinguishable from past and present. In reality, although we call past, present, and future diverse modes of time, this tends to conceal how radically different they are.

What is the difference between "what happened" and "what will happen?" In a mechanical world there is no difference, because the future is in the past (and present) without remainder.

But there is a remainder. What do we call it? For starters, we call it freedom. Also creativity. And from the divine end, grace.

Grace must be accepted in freedom, but when we do, it means that the future is going to be different from what it might have been. If the Father is divine, I don't know, "law," and the Son is logos, then the Holy Spirit is divine surprise.


Nicolás Gómez Dávila has some excellent aphorisms that go to this general subject, sometimes even plausibly. For example, "I distrust the system deliberately constructed by thought; I trust in the one that results from the pattern of footprints."

You could say that God is no Hegelian, superimposing some rational idea over the world. Rather, again, it is divine Freedom vs. (or with) human freedom, the result being an unpredictable path of footprints. That's the whole bloody fun of it!

One reason why tenure is the embalming fluid of the left is that, unlike God, they really do pretend to know it all. But "History shows that man's good ideas are accidental and his mistakes methodical." Ho!

At one end we have the subhumanity of scientism ("His serious university training shields the technician against any idea"), at the other end the anti-science proglodytes of the humanities. A machine at one end, an asylum at the other.

Thus, "maturity" for the wanker bee scientist is a kind of vulgar atheism, whereas the developmental telos of the humanities is a state of perpetual immaturity where, to paraphrase Nicolás Gómez, idiocies are not seen as obvious. For "A confused idea attracts a fool like a flame attracts an insect."

Which is why this is the case. And when you mix the two -- science and politics -- out pops the scientistic idiocy of global warming. Note that its adherents are like false Gods that can know the future in every detail, but are ignoramuses about the present and past.

Insufficient time this morning to wrap this all up in a neat package.

The believer is not a possessor of inherited property recorded in a land registry, but an admiral looking upon the shores of an unexplored continent.

And One must live for the moment and for eternity. Not for the disloyalty of time.... whoever celebrates future harmonies sells himself to the devil. --NGD