Friday, May 26, 2017

Growing With the Flow Between Reality and Thought

As a deus-praying Raccoon in good standing, I am bound to agree with Kierkegaard that the deepest -- or highest -- truths do not reveal their "innermost significance when directly communicated" (Watts). But... what I just said right there is among the deepest and highest truths. So, how do I get away with communicating it so nakedly? Is there some kind of exemption for meta-truths?

Why, yes. There must be such an exemption, or we can't think at all. The point is, you have to define your exemption up front and be prepared to live with it. In faith.

For example, there is a widespread faith in contemporary philosophy that metaphysics is impossible. But that's a metaphysical belief -- similar to how the positivist claim that only empirically or logically verifiable statements are true cannot itself be empirically or logically verified. Checkmate.

I often go back to St. Francis Assisi's gag about how we ought to preach the gospel at all times, and even use words if necessary. Thus, words are a kind of poor substitute for experience, which puts the whole notion of "sola scriptura" in an interesting light: for only scripture would equate to no experience and therefore no gospel.

It goes back again to Gödel, doesn't it? I don't mean to namedrop him so often, but what could be more important than knowing up front that what you know can never contain reality? With that in mind you will no longer be fooled or taken in by manmade ideologies, for Gödel has opened an escape hatch that can never be closed.

The same cannot be said for God-given ideologies, assuming they exist. Do they? Let's stipulate that either they do or don't. But if the latter, that falls under Gödel's hammer, because it attempts to contain the uncontainable. The truth is, you can't know a priori if God-given ideologies do not exist. Rather, you have to keep an open mind. Forever.

Which means that, in order to be intellectually honest and consistent, you have to be open to God. But wait. The word "God" has an awful lot of baggage -- cultural, historical, and personal (and the latter both conscious and unconscious). In other words, we are forever trying to get around Gödel by containing what is by definition uncontainable.

Which is why I often apply the unsaturated symbol O to the reality in question. We must always be "open to O" because we cannot not be -- not in reality. That is, unless we arbitrarily close ourselves to O, which is psychic death by asphyxiation or auto-endarkenment. In order to thrive, the psyche needs nonlocal air and light.

In my morning rounds, I bumped into a provocative piece called This is Your Brain on Ideology. The author's name was unfamiliar to me, but a look at his twitter feed finds him to be a bit of an atheistic twit. Or in other words, a closed-minded ideologue.

For example, he pompously claims that "A curious mind is fatally toxic to religions," so "Keep asking questions." I don't know which religion he's talking about... oh wait. I do. However, for us, the whole point of religion-as-such is to maintain an open relationship to the ground of all questions. A curious mind is indeed fatal to ideologies, but if you don't have a permanent and unquenchable curiosity about O, then you're doing it -- not just religion, but Life -- wrong.

I'm hardly suggesting that people don't reduce religion to ideology and even ideolatry. Of course they do -- just as they expand ideology to religion. It has gotten to the point that the whole "religious vs. irreligious" distinction is of no use at all. Rather, man is either religious or pretending not to be.

What we call "faith" does not properly begin prior to thought, although there are people who do deploy faith in that manner. Rather, for us, it begins where thought -- manmade thought, precisely -- ends.

In other words, there is always a gap between thought and reality. But in reality, if you're doing it correctly, there is a kind of circular flow from reality to thought and then back again. It is tempting to crystalize the flow into an ideology, but it can't be done. You just have to grow with the flow.

Really, it comes down to a simple acknowledgement of the infinite, doesn't it? What makes you imagine you can ever contain the infinite within finitude? The same restriction, of course, doesn't apply to God, who does it all the time.

Literally. For what is time but the moving image of eternity? Likewise, what is space but the radiant image of the infinite? O is immanent because transcendent, and transcendent because immanent. There is no way of getting "outside" or "beyond" this statement, because reality is what it is despite the banal rewordgitations of infertile eggheads.

Our Father who art in heaven.

In other words, not "contained" here, but Absolute, Infinite, Transcendent.

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Yesterday it occurred to me that it is as if this is a picture of verticality. Of note, it obviously implies that God's will is not always done down here. Which is why we pray that it be done; which is to say, the point seems to be to align our will with God's will, which I visualize as being open to, and in alignment with, O. It is simultaneously the best we can do and all we can do.

So it would seem that in order to open the doors of consciousness to the dimension of 'infinite reality' with its 'infinite possibilities,' one first needs to renounce one's total trust in, and attachment to, the rational mind... (Watts).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Rabbit Hole Higher than Me

Fell into an unanticipated rabbit hole, the spirit blowing where it will and all...

It was evoked by this provocative point which will stand as our invocation:

According to Bloom, if you are a worthy thinker such as Max Weber, and yet a lesser man than the great-souled Nietzsche, you will inevitably convey something diluted when you try to capture and express Nietzsche’s thought. The only guard against it is to keep saying to your readers, your students, and yourself, as Bloom does, “look higher than me."

Sounds like I ought to reread The Closing of the American Mind. I'm not sure I got much out of it the first time. In my defense, I was still a liberal when it came out in 1987. 1987 was so long ago that the NY Times actually gave it a positive review, according to the blurb on the back. The book was an unlikely bestseller that many more people bought than read.

Hmm. My highlighting suggests that I was one of those who made it to the end. I wonder what I found noteworthy at the time? Pardon the self-indulgence. If I find nothing of general interest, I'll move on.

I do remember this line from the foreword by Saul Bellow: "It may well be that your true readers are not here as yet and that your books will cause them to materialize."

Ah, my True Readers. I guess a few have materialized, but most are taking their time.

When did tenure go from an honorific to a joke, and then from joke to disease? It seems that the latter occurred some time in the 1980s, but most people failed to notice it at the time, perhaps because they projected their past experience of college onto the present; someone who attended college, say, in the 1950s, assumed it had the same value in the 1980s. Therefore, most people missed the deterioration, and here we are, in the end stages of the disease.

The tenured. "Particularly revealing are the various imposters whose business it is to appeal to the young. These culture peddlers have the strongest of motives for finding out the appetites of the young -- so they are useful guides into the labyrinths of the spirit of the times" (Bloom).

What an important but unappreciated point: because of the idiotic idea that everyone ought to attend college, it has become Big Business. And in order to succeed, a business must cater -- if not pander -- to its clientele. The clientele of the university consists of immature minds eager to conform to the latest intellectual fashion. Gravity takes care of the rest.

Truly: it inevitably goes downhill from there, for example, when students make "demands" of the university. In my state, these aggressively illiterate and entitled students thugs demand

a 4-year housing guarantee to live in the Rosa Parks African American Themed House; bring back the building’s lounge; paint its exterior the “Pan-Afrikan colors” of red, green and black; and force all new incoming students to go through a mandatory diversity competency training.

How can a world become so inverted? And yet, no one can look these goons in the eyes and calmly tell them to fuck off. One has to pretend they have a point. I mean, Pan-Afrikan colors. My spellcheck won't even acknowledge the word "Afrikan."

Which only means my computer is racist and must be forced to undergo diversity competency training. Besides, the thing is a kind of silvery color, so that's flat-out triggering.

What ever happened to not judging computers by the color of their monitor but the content of their components?

Students. "[S]tudents are only potential, but potential points beyond itself.... No real teacher can doubt that his task is to assist his pupil to fulfill human nature against all the deforming forces of convention and prejudice."

Er, what human nature? Once you've gotten rid of that, then human potential no longer points beyond itself: a Progressive is born, such that the soul's progress is barred. No, that's too soft a characterization; the soul is aborted, and your reason for being is forever unknown to you. Which is hell, precisely.

Know thyself. Good advice for two or three millennia, at least until the recent discovery that there is no self to know ("who" discovered it, I wonder?). Now we say: know thy self doesn't exist, and besides, it's just a social construct rooted in oppression.

Rawls. Not the wise one, Lou, but the leftist quackademic, John. If you draw out his principles, "indiscriminateness is a moral imperative because its opposite is discrimination." Discrimination is bad, even though it is the quintessence of thought, i.e., discrimination between the real and unreal (also more and less real: for indiscriminate flatlanders there is only one or the other, which excludes the vast spectrum of more and less real).

Minorities. "For the Founders, minorities are in general bad things, mostly identical to factions, selfish groups who have no concern as such for the common good."

You will have noticed that the modern left is precisely an agglomeration of self-styled minorities. It is in principle opposed to the Individual, the real persecuted minority, for there is no smaller unit than one. And the purpose of "civil rights" is to protect this individual. The Constitution knows nothing of groups, except perhaps citizens and non-citizens -- another vital discrimination the left ignores.

Multiculturalism. We -- the Christian West -- invented it, numbskull: "Only in the Western nations, i.e., those influenced by Greek philosophy, is there some willingness to doubt the identification of the good with one's own way." But so-called "multiculturalists" place cultures with no such doubt on the same plane as ours!

Which is not just crazy but suicidal. Literally, as we saw in Manchester the other night. Speaking of which, this is the best book I've read on the subject: Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West. That's another rabbit hole I could jump down, but I will restrain myself and stay in this one.

In any event, "The scientific study of other cultures is almost exclusively a Western phenomenon, and in its origin was obviously connected with the search for new and better ways, or at least for validation of the hope that our own culture really is the better way, a validation for which there is no felt need in other cultures."

There is of course a way to rank cultures and distinguish between healthy ones and those that are just collective forms of mental illness. Two words: integration and actualization.

In short, how psychically integrated and actualized are the people produced by this or that culture (or subculture)? In the Palestinian terrortory, for example, we can say "not very." That alone is sufficient for us to determine that it is objectively evil. What about Israel? The question answers itself, except for leftists and other anti-Semites.

Greek philosophers -- our cognitive founders -- were the first to raise this question. "They related the good to the fulfillment of the whole natural human potential and were aware that few, if any, of the nations of men had ways that allowed such fulfillment." True in 300 BC, true today.

Truth? Oh please. Cultural relativism has succeeded in "destroying the West's universal or intellectually imperialistic claims, leaving it to be just another culture." And "imperialistic" is a apt term, for we should want to be conquered by truth. Anyone who doesn't ardently desire to be so conquered makes a god of himself, and it's Genesis 3 all over again.

Bottom line: look higher than me. (As if you don't know that.)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Finitude and Infini-Dude

If you didn't make it to the end of the previous post, we left off with a hint or suggestion that it is as if our two cerebral hemispheres reflect -- or are the reflection of -- two "ultimates," one finite, the other infinite. Each maps a different terrain, one having more to do with physical survival, the other with spiritual awareness and perception.

It is difficult to have a spiritual life without a robustly functioning right cerebral hemisphere -- just as, for example, it would be a challenge to breathe or maintain one's heartbeat without a medulla, or to have an emotional life without a hippocampus.

Now, not only can finitude never contain infinitude, it won't even admit it really exists, except maybe as a word -- a placeholder, like "zero." It never really ponders the ineluctable fact of infinitude.

Conversely, finitude fits easily into a tiny corner of infinitude, with room left over for every philosophy ever devised by man. But reality is under no obligation to fit into the schemes of the tenured, or Gödel was just deepakin' the chopra, bigtime.

Religions are finite expressions of the infinite, or forms of the formless. Christianity goes one step further, and claims that a particular person is an expression of the infinite; and not only an expression, but its very incarnation.

Or in other words, Jesus contains the uncontainable. Which perhaps "explains" -- in a manner of speaking -- the Resurrection, which is a reflection of the fact that Death -- which is finite -- could not contain him.

Death is finite. Whew! That's a relief. But life is infinite, which means that, in order to properly understand it, we must invert the cosmos and look at it bright-side up. As the Fathers said, God became man so that man might become God; in so doing, Life takes on Death so that Death might become Life.

Not biological life, of course, biology as such being merely a "downward projection," so to speak, of the Life Divine (the bio-Logos). If the universe were fundamentally dead, you couldn't squeeze life out of it in... 13.7 billion years, no matter how hard you tried.

Analysis true: "Kierkegaard wants us to realize that, ultimately, we can rationally understand neither the world we live in nor our true nature or purpose in life" (Watts). So stop trying!

Or rather, always situate reason within Reason. In short, in order to be a true Christian Dudeist, you must abide in the dynamic space of complementarity -- the pneumatic third -- between these two: ultimately "between" finitude and infinitude. Animals are finite. God is infinite. You are the monkey in the middle.

For finitude is a mode of the Infinite. Just as creation reflects the Creator, immanence always points to transcendence. Frankly, nothing is merely "natural," full stop. Nature itself is supernatural, everywhere spilling out of itself and flowing back to its nonlocal source.

This is precisely what is happening when you view a landscape of primordial beauty: you are participating in this return -- so long as you are looking through the right brain. Otherwise it's just another blandscape.

Looking through. That reminds me of a comment by William Blake (in Upton): "I question not the doctrines and practices of my religion any more than I would question a window concerning sight; I look through them, not with them."

I'm also thinking of how the synapses of the brain work via electrical polarity. No polarity, no action. For us, what is the ultimate polarity? It is by definition "God and man" -- or Creator and creation, and therefore Infinite and finite, Absolute and relative, Eternal and temporal, Whole and part, etc.

So: in order to cultivate a vibrant spiritual life, one must maintain the polarity between self and God, AKA (¶) and O. This is what prayer is all about; or humility, which is a sine qua non.

Note that humility has nothing to do with "humiliation," but rather, is simply an objective appreciation of our finitude. Awareness of finitude makes a man humble. Or should, anyway.

A kind of "energy" is potentiated with the polarization of God and man. If we fail to polarize, then "we dissipate our energy and squander our lives in a variety of meaningless ways" (Watts). This is where "desire" comes in to fill the void.

Obviously, a kind of polarity is created by what we Want and Don't Have. So we fill our lives accumulating the latter and then re-potentiating until the next purchase. I'm obviously not some anti-capitalist imbecile, but you have to use it, rather than vice versa. We've all been there.

For Kierkegaard, Abraham represents a kind of cosmic hinge. Think about it: he -- the father of us all -- allows himself to be completely polarized vis-a-vis Yahweh (similar to Mary's later submission and polarization). He "represents the first man in the Bible to devote himself in complete faith, and through free choice, to One God -- an act that represented a radically new understanding that formed the foundation of Western civilization" (Watts).

Foundation! I say (!) because this foundation is.... empty, so to speak. It is not an assertion, but a listening, an "active passivity." Go. Go where? To the land I will show you. B-... Just go, alright?

Here is how Rabbi Kushner describes it in one of our favorite little mystical tracts:

Abraham, our father,

Was simply told to leave....

This is the setting out.

The leaving of everything behind.

Leaving the social milieu. The preconceptions.

The definitions. The language. The narrowed field of vision. The expectations....

To be, in a word: Open.

AKA the receptive state of (o).


If you think you know what you will find,

Then you will find nothing.

If you expect nothing,

Then you will always be surprised.