Friday, June 02, 2017

Saying What Can't be Said

I was out late last night making merry at a high school graduation party, so this will probably be an abbreviated one. But you never know. I just show up at the keyboard. What happens next is what happens next.

High school graduation. I remember mine as if it were yesterday. In many ways I've never gotten over it.

Yesterday we spoke of "liberation." Well, I don't know that I've ever had a sense of liberation that surpasses the feeling of that day. But then, every summer was a little like that -- like an anticipatory fractal of the Big Liberation that occurred with high school.

Many things in life are a kind of rehearsal for death -- losses of various kinds, illnesses, humiliations, IRS audits. I wonder if there is something analogous on the positive side, i.e., rehearsals for salvation or liberation? Must be. Come to think of it, what is the liturgy but a kind of r. for s.? I just ordered this book on the subject, called Nothing Superfluous. The mass is a little like attending your own Wake, isn't it?

And every real celebration marks a birth and a death -- or death and rebirth, Easter being the Urchetype of archetypes. Yesterday's celebration was very much on that order -- more like a psychic bat mitzvah marking the death of the girl and birth of the woman. Mine wasn't like that at all. Rather, more like the death of the caged child and birth of the liberated child. "Manhood" didn't enter into the equation at all.

Birth is a funeral, and a funeral is a birth. Haven't we discussed this before? My brain is a little foggy, so I can't remember. I do recall mentioning something Christopher Hitchens once said. An interviewer, trying to draw him out, asked how he felt upon the birth of his son: "Like I was looking into the eyes of my funeral director."

One doesn't have to go that far to realize that upon becoming Father, one is no longer Son. At least in my case. My father was already gone by the time of my son's birth. You fathers out there whose own fathers are still alive, do you feel like a son? Or is it more of a lateral relationship, father to father?

Back to matters at hand. We're still flipping through this biography of Kierkegaard. Every time I try to finish it and move on, I get hung up on some passage.

Like today, for example. I find it interesting that we don't need actually need Gödel to tell us about his theorems. Rather, they're just common sense: Kierkegaard recognized that "humans are incomplete and all philosophical systems imply completeness." Simple as. This is what I was trying to convey to my internetlocutor over at Instapundit, but he was having none of it.

Which I don't get. In short, he was trying to vigorously defend Gödel while transparently violating him. It's as if he wants to have the birth without the death. My final response to him was a comment by Gödel himself to the effect that "sooner or later my proof will be made useful for religion." Well, duh.

"At the very least," writes Goldstein, "Gödel believed his first incompleteness theorem supported Platonism's insistence on the existence of a suprasensible domain of eternal verities." Any attempts on our part to enclose reality within our "limpid constructions" and thereby "keep out all contradictions and paradox, are doomed to failure." Boom.

It's an orthoparadoxical cosmos. Deal with it. "Gödel's first incompleteness theorem tells us that any consistent formal system... must leave out much of mathematical reality," while the second shows that no formal system can "prove itself to be self-consistent." Therefore, your little system can be consistent or complete, but not both. Never. Forever and ever. Amen. Period.

Now thankfully, God is under no such limitation. Obviously. How do we know this? Because reality -- by which I mean the Real, from top to bottom, inside and out, vertical and horizontal -- is by definition consistent and complete. I mean, just because we can't explain how, this hardly means that reality isn't what it is. Reality always slips through our fingertips. And our TOEs, i.e., Theories of Everything.

It is only "aspects of mathematical reality that must escape our formal systematizing," but "not our knowledge" (ibid.). This is apparently a controversial assertion, but only for people who pretend it is possible to reduce knowledge to math or physics or computation. But according to Goldstein, Gödel "believed our expressible knowledge, demonstrably our mathematical knowledge, is greater than our systems."

In other words, we always know more than we can say, such that what we say can never catch up to what we know. It's why, for example, the blah-blah-blogging goes on forever, irrespective of whether you are pro- or antiBoB.

Therefore -- and this is the, or at least a, Bottom Line of the Whole Existentialada -- "Whereof we cannot formalize, thereof we can still know." Which is a kind of inversion of Wittgenstein's famous gag that "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

Not true! Indeed, it reminds me of this book by Cardinal Sarah on The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise. Now we're really in the world of orthoparadox, because you might say that the book is an eloquent soliloquy on the silence of ultimate reality. So, you can always say what can't be said. Just don't pretend there's nothing more to say.

22 comments:

swiftone said...

The gnostic cosmos contains a snake that eats its own tail. Isn't that the perfect picture of the world made by human logic and made complete. It's a closed circle.. Existence, reality are so much more than my closed circle. I'll take liturgical practice for $200, Alex, to spiral out of my own closed circle.

Van Harvey said...

"Friday, June 02, 2017
Saying What Can't be Said
I was out late last night making merry at a high school graduation party..."

:-) Got family from across the country, in house, for the last graduation - O party!

julie said...

Congrats to your final grad, Van!

Swiftone - yes, exactly. And good to see you!

Anonymous said...

Great post; stellar work as usual.

On your assertion that reality is consistent and complete--how do you arrive at that conclusion?

Reality is very inconsistent indeed. Quantum fluctuations, particle entanglements, etc are very inconsistent. "Miracles" occur when the usual rules are flouted, reversed, or otherwise tinkered with by 0 as it sees fit to do. The cosmos is expanding furiously and is obviously in an evolutionary process of some sort. So where is the "completeness?" All that real estate out there is probably being developed as here, also. Its a work in flux.

I also want to comment,in passing, that your book is massively reductionist and expresses precisely a TOE. You reduce it to O instead of known physics, is the only apparent difference between you and Stephen Hawking.

Petey said...

{shrug}

ted said...

Did anyone catch the PBS Sgt. Pepper special on Saturday? I thought it was well done, and went in to the depths of how the songs were crafted.

son of a preacher man said...

Talk about confusing the map for the terrain.

son of a preacher man said...

Caught the last few minutes of that, definitely have to catch that in its entirety. Sgt Pepper was the first album i bought with my own money.

Gagdad Bob said...

The program did provide a few insights & explanations I'd I'd never heard before. And the new remix is fabulous. (Prior to it, the mono was the only way to properly hear it.)

Still, I am of the belief that Sgt. Pepper is way overrated. I have no use for She's Leaving Home and When I'm Sixty Four, and Good Morning Good Morning and Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite are barely songs -- just ideas for songs. Also, Within You & Without You is kind of boring. The whole thing is redeemed by A Day in the Life, but I am one of those misfits who prefers the early material, which really Rocks.

I also love Lennon's run of immortal psychedelia, Rain --> Tomorrow Never Knows --> Strawberry Fields --> Walrus --> Baby You're A Rich Man --> Hey Bulldog --> Glass Onion.

ted said...

I'm mostly in agreement Bob, although I do find the melody in She's Leaving Home angelic. That's a gem for me, but the other songs you mention are high grade filler.

Gagdad Bob said...

You must understand that at heart I'm a smug and sardonic independent record store clerk who scorns any kind of sentimentality.

Gagdad Bob said...

Except in an ironic way.

julie said...

Is that the audio version of Comic Book Guy?

julie said...

Probably less nerdy, though. And chinbeardy.

Gagdad Bob said...

I was going to say Comic Book Guy, but Record Store Guys are a little different. Or maybe not. Perhaps just variations on a theme. But I'm not nearly as bad as I used to be, when music was a religion. Speaking of which, very enjoyable interview of Dion DiMucci on EWTN.

Gagdad Bob said...

Check out this Twitter Guy who simply tweets excerpts from loony left academic journals. Way beyond the dreams of parody.

Gagdad Bob said...

What strikes me about most of them is the profound narcissism and even solipsism.

julie said...

Wow. It must be exhausting to be them. I wonder occasionally how someone who thinks like that goes about an average day? How do they even function when they can't actually think?

Gagdad Bob said...

That's what academia is for: to shelter these poor souls who can't cope with reality. In the last 50 years we've emptied the asylums but filled the universities.

ted said...

You must understand that at heart I'm a smug and sardonic independent record store clerk who scorns any kind of sentimentality.

I totally relate to that guy, and have some of him myself. And you can even say anything sentimental is a lower form of music - in that it manipulates the senses away from O. But I also have a romantic side that appreciates sap from time to time.

And by the way, I do recall a Bread album on your blog. :)

Gagdad Bob said...

That's different: ironic nostalgia!

Van Harvey said...

Thanks Julie!