And the Weird Became Flesh
As you know, I regard the neurologically immature human infant as the hinge of pneumacosmic evolution. Without the invention of the helpless human baby, there would have been no way to exit mere animality. Rather, we would be immersed in the senses and engulfed in the world, just like the other beasts.
For the longest time, I encountered no other writer who placed infancy in this cosmic context. So imagine my surprise when I found that Balthasar and Ratzinger -- maybe the two greatest theologians of the 20th century -- did the same.
For example, in this beautiful passage from Life Out of Death, Balthasar writes of how
The little child opens wide eyes at the world. What he sees -- forms, colors, sounds... -- he does not comprehend. The phenomena are neither familiar nor strange to him because he cannot yet apply them to himself. His self is not yet disclosed to him; whatever consciousness he possesses lies halfway between subject and object.
Now this is the true miracle among all these miracles of the beginning [by which I think he means that any kind of radical genesis is a miracle]: that one day the mother's smile is recognized by the child as a sign of his acceptance in the world and that the center of his own self is disclosed to him as he returns the smile. And because a You has found him, all the He that also surrounds him can be included in the relationship of familiarity (emphases mine, ellipsis in original).
The language is simple but the truth(s) it conveys could hardly be more profound. For this how God makes a human, one at a time, both today and in the past.
Mere Darwinism can't explain it, because a merely genetically complete Homo sapiens can never breach the walls of humanness in the absence of the Loving M(o)ther. So obviously, loving mothers and helpless babies had to co-arise; and given the time and energy it takes to care for a helpless infant, the father had to be there too.
Thus we have the image of concentric circles, with the baby at the center, surrounded by the mother, and with the father's protective arms encircling them. And of course, it couldn't have been accomplished without culture either, so you can add another circle. And there is no culture without cult, but that's getting a little far afield for our present purposes. Let's get back to the quote.
At first, the baby doesn't comprehend the world into which he has been thrown -- not just the exterior world, but the interior world which registers it. It is very much as if the world is all periphery and no center. Things just happen, with no continuity or point of reference. You might say that we "suffer" the world-sensations in a purely passive way. It's non-stop catastrophic novelty (which I think goes to grown-ups who retain an element of neophobia).
"Whatever consciousness he possesses lies halfway between subject and object." He's not yet a self, nor is there a stable or fully formed recognition of the other, so it's a strange world indeed. You would probably have to take LSD to simulate the experience of such radical novelty. No wonder babies cry!
I remember back in the day, reading a book on just this subject, i.e., taking LSD in order to regress to infancy and try to resolve one's issues. In the midst of a trip, people would draw their infanitle experiences. I wonder if I can find them online? Of course.
Ah. Here is birth:
Here's someone who seems to have had a bummer of a prenatal ride:
Anyway, the trippiest part of it all is how there is no I without a You. It's full of delightful orthoparadox, because the other You is really her own I, so becoming human is really an intimate mater of seeing things I to I. In the absence of that experience, we will remain at the periphery of ourselves, -- and of the world -- constantly persecuted by malevolent, unmetabolized experience.
In a certain way, human development -- i.e., individuation -- is always an ongrowing centration; not in the sense of being self-centered, because if things proceed the way they are supposed to, then the deepening of the self leads to a deepening of everything else, including one's ability to compassionately identify with others. The grandiose and brittle self-centeredness of an Obama would represent the pneumagraphic negative of what is supposed to happen in development.
Now, all of this has the most urgent religious connotations, because this whole situation reveals something essential about how God rolls. Yes, we are the image-and-likeness of God. But God is not a static thing!
Rather -- just for starters -- in God, the Father ceaselessly begets the Son, or gives birth to the Word. Thus, it ultimately explains how "finding God" and "being found by God" are the same thing (like finding mother and discovering oneself in the bargain).
In any event, the extremely weird situation revolving around the premature, neurologically incomplete and helpless baby turns out to be the only way I can think of to create a being in the image and likeness of an ec-centric Creator who is always lovingly giving away his own center.
The Cosmic Baby, blissfully floating before the fleeting flickering universe, stork naked in brahma daynight, worshiping in oneder in a weecosmic womb with a pew...: