Thursday, March 23, 2023

100% of Everything is Stupid

I suppose it comes back to Sturgeon's Law, that 90% of everything is crap.

Including Sturgeon's Law.


Yes, because closer to 98% of everything is crap. 

Go on.

Strictly speaking, the figure -- the percentage of stupid -- is relative. 

For example, for a person with an IQ of 100, only half of everything is stupid. But just two standard deviations above the norm (130) renders 97.8% everything stupid. This is one reason why it is so easy for an intelligent person to be an atheist, because most everything, including religion, will seem stupid to him.

But atheism is stupid.

Correct. And only an imbecile would say that IQ is everything. Just as reason unaware of its limitations becomes irrational, intelligence unaware of other critical variables, modes, dimensions, and degrees of consciousness renders itself unintelligent.  

Moreover, "crap" is just worthless. What about an intelligence turned toward the diabolical?

I see what you mean. It's as if we need to supplement the standard Bell Curve with another one in a negative space, so to speak. 

Take an evil-doer with an above average IQ of, say, 130. Turned toward the diabolical end of things, we would say it is negative 130. Clearly, most of the real trouble in the world isn't caused by low IQ hordes but by high negative-IQ types. 

That is correct. Low IQ is self limiting. Unless those with greater intelligence decide to unleash it upon us. Not that the people who run the Democrat party are geniuses, but they are certainly more intelligent than the street criminals they are foisting on us. 

Say what you want about George Soros, he's clearly more intelligent than George Floyd or Alvin Bragg or Kim Foxx. Antifa only exists because more (negative) intelligent people want it to.

With this in mind, let's get back to yesterday's subject: why religion is so stupid. Thanks to Petey's unusually voluble insights, we see that it is no longer a mystery: any intelligent idiot can see it. 

But the same idiot cannot see, let alone comprehend, Aquinas, or Schuon, or Garrigou-Lagrange, or any number of similar luminaries.

It's very much as if the person who sees that 97.8% of everything is stupid, doesn't see the 2.2% that surpasses him. (And please don't take any of these numbers literally -- we're only using them for purposes of illustration & giggles.)

Now, God is not only infinitely intelligent, he is the very ground and possibility of both intelligence as such and of intelligibility. Therefore, if you're God -- assuming my math is correct -- then 100% of everything is stupid.

Recall Jesus' question, Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. One could equally ask, Why do you call me intelligent? No one is intelligent but God. Same vis-a-vis beauty and any other transcendental.

Why do you call me evil? No one is evil but...

I see where you're going there, but Satan can't literally be "one," since he is the very anti-principle of division, scattering, entropy, and chaos. 

And if your other insights are correct, then Satan must have the highest negative IQ conceivable, even if one is silly enough to believe he doesn't literally exist. Principles are principles. We only dwell in them.

Now we're in a better position to revisit yesterday's subject of why exoteric religion can at times appear so stupid. The question is no longer, How can that be?, but How could it not be?  

And as I've said previously on many occasions, one of the surprises of my life has been that the intellectual depth is right there on the surface, hiding in plain sight.

In the past I've used the analogy of a hybrid SACD, in which the CD layer is on the surface, but the SACD layer is deeper. In order to access the latter -- which encodes exponentially more information -- you need an SACD player to shine the laser light another micron or so beneath the surface. 

Same with scripture. Obviously. For example, I just finished reading Dennis Prager's line-by-line exegesis of Deuteronomy, which follows his previous stabs at Genesis and Exodus. And he's just one person. Imagine all the previous brilliant interpreters.

Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax -- YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT I'M LIVING IN THE FUCKING PAST!  

Speaking of which, I am told that the average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews is 115, which is to say, a standard deviation above the norm. 

I took statistics back in the 1980s, but if I remember correctly, this would mean that 84% of these Jews have above average intelligence, and that if I were one of them I could figure out exactly what percentage of them has an IQ >130, but it's a lot.

Why then are so many of them Democrats? 

Prager actually addresses this in the book, but suffice it to say that they're as Jewish as fucking Tevye, only displacing certain religious categories and impulses to the secular dimension.  

So, what are you saying? When you turn progressive you turn in your library card? You get a new license? You stop being Jewish?

Don't ask me, I'm out of my depth. But maybe the higher IQ goes from positive to negative? 

Much of modern Jewish history is a history of Jews abandoning God, the Torah, and the covenant and replacing them with other gods, beliefs, and other "torahs." Whenever Jews did this... they created or joined new substitute religions: secular ones. 
Virtually every "-ism" of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries was a substitute for biblical religion. And nearly every one of them -- Marxism, communism, secular humanism, socialism, among others -- was founded and/or disproportionately led by secular Jews or non-Jewish descendents of Jews who abandoned Judaism (Prager).

For example, remember that secular Jewish uncle of mine, the eminent University of Chicago historian? The brilliant relativist? Not only was he literally a red-diaper baby, but he never stopped being one.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Different Planets, Diverse Modes, and Alternate Universes

We ended yesterday's post back at the beginning, with Schuon's observation that "to change one's religion is to change planets." 

While he doesn't say so, I believe he would have meant going from, say, Earth to Mars or Venus -- in other words, different planets but same solar system, let alone universe. 

For example, I very much enjoyed my recent trip to Planet Jew. But on the other hand, nothing increases one's faith so much as contact with the faithless, such as my secular Jewish in-laws, speaking of different planets.

One of Schuon's central teachings is that the orthodox religions all orbit, as it were, around the same central sun. God is one by definition, and ultimately mankind is one as a consequence. 

However, on each planet the variables will have a different emphasis or ratio, e.g., heat, light, gravity, etc., and so too with religion. (I might add that in this analogy, some planets are by definition closer than others to the Sun.)

What are some of the important religious variables? Let's see, off the top of my head, God, heaven, grace, scripture, wisdom, avatar, sacred, profane, sin, sacrifice, salvation, judgment, atonement, union... Even fictional religions such as Scientology or Mormonism partake of these in some form or fashion. (Different subject, but this goes to why even a made up religion can produce good people.)

Now, leftism isn't so much fictional as inverted. For this reason, it isn't so much a different planet as an alternate universe. To the extent that it shares the variables, the variables are upside down and inside out. 

For example, there are still avatars, but the vicious and petty kind, like an Obama or Carter (just wait until the latter croaks, and you will cringe at the nauseating paeans to this nasty specimen). 

Which is why it is becoming more of a struggle for a good person to exist on the left (assuming awareness of what the left is; many folks such as my mother-in-law have no earthly idea that this is not the party of JFK or even Bill Clinton, rather, of Reverend Sharpton and Saint George Floyd).

But this is a boring subject, and besides, I'm preaching to the coonverted. Consider our trolls. Despite their superficial differences, they share one main characteristic: they are impervious to even low-level truth and fact, let alone the stuff Bob dishes out on a daily basis. In this regard, I almost feel sorry for them, because they will never get the yoke, despite how easy it is.

At any rate, I'm going to change subjects to another essay that punched me right in the nous and made me see stars (mostly in this universe), called Deficiencies in the World of Faith. Lot's of fine religious insultainment. Assuming he's not talking about us

And I'll be honest: I never quite know if I'm in on the joke or if he's snickering at me. It reminds me of the old problem of Protestantism (or of predestination, to be precise), of having no way of knowing whether or not one is among the saved. So one is always looking for clues in order to ameliorate the spiritual insecurity and ontological anxiety.

Are we among the Spiritual Elite? The trouble is, even if this were true, I certainly wouldn't say it out loud, but I can't even think it, knowing myself as I do. But are there spiritual elites? Of course: saints, doctors, mystics, and sundry wise guys. We don't confuse them with the central sun -- that would be cultism -- but they're closer to the sun than I am, thank God.

Having said that, take this out for a spin:

One may be astonished and even scandalized at the frequency, in religious climates, of more or less unintelligent opinions and attitudes, let it be said without euphemism.

Now, this is just true. The stupidity of exoteric religion is what kept me out of it for most of my life, and it is no less stupid today than it has ever been.  

In its favor, it is far less stupid than secular leftism, and let's not even revisit the ugliness and depravity of the latter. 

But why must exoteric religiosity be so unintelligent?

Because people are unintelligent. 

Bingo, apparently, albeit with many qualifications that we'll specify as we proceed, since there is a more or less infinite distance between the "unintelligent Intelligence" (so to speak) of tradition, and the stupid unintelligence of the left. The former are on my team, the latter warriors from a different universe.

The goal of any big-box religion "is to save the largest possible number of souls and not to satisfy the need for causal explanations of an intellectual elite." You have only to sit through a homily or sermon to know that they don't really try to address intelligence as such:

In conformity with its end and with the capacity of the majority, the religious message is basically addressed to intuition, sentiment and imagination, and then to the will and to reason to the extent that the human condition requires it... 

The message still hits on all the important variables alluded to above, e.g., "the reality of God, the immortality of the soul and of [the] ensuing consequences for man, and... offers man the means of saving himself." 

This can't help sounding more than a bit condescending, but again, you know it's true, he whispered creepily. For this and other reasons (e.g., poorly developed sense of humor) I never recommend the blog to everyday believers who are intellectually satisfied, let alone to the typical nonbeliever who is so intellectually negligible as to actually be satisfied by progressivism or scientism or secularism and all those other universes.

Has this gone on long enough already? Speaking only for myself, I would put it this way: yes, it's inevitably a bit cringeworthy what passes for religion. 

But it is even more cringeworthy to imagine that I am superior to the average believer. It's just that the majority is always going to be either disinterested in metaphysics or incapable of it, and while intelligence is far from everything, it has its rights. Nor do we need to look far to see that, for example,

In the Scriptures, intelligence -- or what appeals to it -- is found primarily in the symbolism, which offers all that the loftiest minds could need...

Moreover, if metaphysics is your thing, it's right there as well: for it is "necessarily found in the dogmas themselves inasmuch as they are universal symbols." 

I would never say that there exist "two truths," but I have become increasingly comfortable practicing my religion one way, and practicing the blog in another way, while knowing full well that both (to say nothing of one's prayer life) all circle the same sun. 

Put it this way: exoterism and esoterism are complementary, not opposites, let alone different universes. And 

God does not ask for the submission of intelligence, but rather an intelligent submission.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Ultimate Reality is a Fractally Organized Motion Picture or Something

The following passing comment by Schuon caught my eye. It is in the context of a discussion of how the Pure Absolute necessarily takes on this or that form in a particular religion. 

I say "necessarily" because I don't see a loophole here, as comforting as it might be to believe one's own religion is the Pure Absolute. But even St. Thomas cautioned against this, what with his radical apophaticism. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but he did say this:

This is the final human knowledge of God: to know that we do not know God.

Having said that, I don't think such an esoteric doctrine is appropriate for all and sundry. Rather, only for the pneumatic weirdo type discussed in yesterday's post, the "man-center" who is "determined by the intellect" as opposed to the "man-periphery, who is more or less accident." 

And by no means is Schuon trying to downgrade the practice of religion. I myself only practice an orthodox one because Schuon says I must. And no, this doesn't mean that I only do so based on his authority. Not at all. Rather, it is because I see and understand his point entirely, that you can't play music without learning an instrument, so to speak. I'm not a cultist. 

Ultimately it has to do with that distinction between the Pure Absolute, AKA Beyond-Being, and Being. Again, this is the First Line, and once seen it cannot be unseen, at least by me. For me it literally makes perfect nonsense, except now it is up to me to situate the "perfect sense" of religion into this necessary context. 

In practical terms it means I must situate Catholicism in this "deeper" context, which is bound to clash with anyone who thinks that Catholicism is already literally the deepest context. 

Well, the latter is also correct, so long as we're talking about the Being side of things. I've mentioned before that the deepest structure of deep structures must be a kind of eternally dynamic perichoresis between Beyond-Being and Being.  

I've also said that I suspect the Trinity is revealed to us precisely in order to help us get a handle on this deeeeep structure. I don't recall ever devoting an entire post to this subject, because I don't know that I've ever thought it through completely, nor if it is even entirely thinkable; surely not, although we can try, can we not?

For Christians the Trinity is revealed to us in the form of "Father," "Son," and "Holy Spirit." At the same time, however, there is nothing about any Trinity per se in scripture, rather, it is something the early fathers had to piece together and infer from various clues left to us. 

The bottom and/or top line for us is that Ultimate Reality is at once radically one and more than one -- not quantitatively, of course, but qualitatively. 

I like to pull back and open the aperture of our lens as wide as humanly possible, to an f-stop of, say, plus or minus 1/∞, in order to allow for the maximum light. But apparently there are tradeoffs, because we also want the sharpest possible image and the greatest depth of field. Where is Robin Starfish when you need him?

Maybe the photography analogy is no good. Obviously it's a motion picture.

Is it obvious?

Good point. Is God -- or the Ultimate Real, AKA O -- really immutable? Or does O change? Or both -- even though that would seem to violate the law of noncontradiction?

In my opinion we have to say "both." Moreover, I believe this must be one of points of the revelation of the Trinity, since... there are many ways to put it, but the Son is always returning to the Father via the Spirit, and the number 3 itself implies the return to Unity... if I can find the reference... something to the effect that if 1 is Unity and Principle, 2 is duality and Manifestation, so 3 is the return to the Principle.

My blood sugar is a tad low at the moment, but I do vaguely recall an old post touching on the idea of considering the Father as a way of talking about "Beyond-Being" and the Son as "Being." By no means is this a perfect analogy, nor can it be perfectly harmonized with Christian metaphysics... unless we consider Beyond-Being and Being not as a duality, but indeed an always dynamic tri-complementarity. Then I think it works, at least if your blood sugar is low enough.  

Let's consider the following passage by Schuon, and see if we can't tweak it a bit: 

The “Father” is God as such, that is as metacosm; the “Son” is God insofar as He manifests Himself in the world, hence in the macrocosm; and the “Holy Spirit” is God insofar as He manifests Himself in the soul, hence in the microcosm.

That is a fruitful way of looking at it, but I doubt Schuon ever thought or even knew about fractals, and I believe that if we think of the Trinity as a single substance fractally organized, this helps us to grasp the idea that Being is always dialectically related to Beyond-Being, and vice versa. But it's not a dualistic photograph, rather, a trialistic motion picture.  

Elsewhere Schuon writes that  

The vertical perspective -- Beyond-Being, Being, Existence -- envisages the hypostases as “descending” from Unity or from the Absolute -- or from the Essence it could be said -- which means that it envisages the degrees of Reality. 

Except that Christianity specifically rules out such an emanationist metaphysic. Rather, it would horizontalize this scheme and say that all three are always involved as coequal branches of divine government.

I'm just about out of time, and I never even got to the passage mentioned in the first paragraph, which was that "to change one's religion is to change planets." 

Moreover, I had intended to write of how this applies to contemporary politics, i.e., what planet the left is from, and what kind of barbaric religion they practice there. It'll have to wait...

Monday, March 20, 2023

Surrounded by Accidental Humans

Life can be a tricksy business when you're not like the Others, because it's difficult to know whether one is better or worse, superior or inferior, sane or crazy. 

There's always a vertical scale, even -- or especially -- for those who deny it, for example, woke relativists who are the fastest to cancel those who differ from them. They never explain why My Truth can't be that men aren't women, or that two men playing house is not the same as "marriage," or that perverts who like to talk about sex to children is called a red flag.

I don't even like to use the word "superior," because it contradicts the very humility that is a prerequisite and marker of superiority. Claims to superiority are also often the result of reaction formation, the latter but a defense mechanism that transforms inferiority to superiority via projection. 

For example, think of the countless journalists and other Democrats who maintain a rigid denial of the Biden Lumber Company and project it into Trump, transforming his splinters into beams.  

To say that no one is better or worse than anyone else is among the Greatest Lies Ever Told, but thinking otherwise is also among the greatest temptations, so in judging others one must exercise the strictest objectivity and self-awareness.

When I was younger I used to assume my own inferiority. Later in life I covered this with an obnoxious mask of superiority. But this frankly adolescent phase only lasted until I was in my 40s.   

Speaking of masks, Schuon devotes an essay to just this subject in The Play of Masks. In fact, skimming the first paragraph is what prompted the above reflections. Let's reread it and consider it a little more closely.

By way of preface, when we look at man, we have to do so at the intersection of vertical and horizontal. If one man is superior to another, we mean in the sense of objective values, not, say, in wealth or physical strength. Nor can the former have only to do with intelligence, for we are surrounded and ruled by intelligent cretins (notwithstanding the multitude of merely cretinous cretins).

Here's how Schuon puts it: it is necessary for us 

to distinguish a priori between the man-center, who is determined by the intellect and is therefore rooted in the Immutable, and the man-periphery, who is more or less an accident.

You've no doubt never thought of it this way, but we all know Accidental and Necessary humans, and there are many more of the former than the latter. Moreover, one of the points of life -- if not the point -- is to transition from Accidental to Necessary. 

I don't known if "Necessary" is the best word.


That's good.


Also good. I'm thinking too of how Washington is called the "indispensable man," because he is the Man Without Whom. But he couldn't have been the Man Without Whom in the absence of certain immutable traits that made him the Man With Whom, or Through Which.  

I keep this imposing photo of Schuon on my desk. I just now glanced at his eyes, and he communicated in so many words that I am correct in suspecting that he might be one of those necessary men of whom he speaks. He has certainly been necessary for me -- a Man Without Whom -- but let's stay on track.

Who are the Necessary Men of history? There aren't that many; or, on the other hand, perhaps there are many who fly under the radar of history. 

For that matter, the majority of men who make history are the peripheral type, for example Karl Marx: no substance whatsoever, since falsehood is not a substance, nor is envy. But not only did he regard himself as superior, but superior to every previous philosopher, especially those who were superior to him.  

Schuon almost never writes in the first person, but here and there he will present something that I suspect refers to himself. The following is an example: he speaks of the "pneumatic" or "central" man, who

is detached because he does not identify with the accidents; and he is good-willed because, for that very reason, he could be neither egoistic nor petty.

Superior humility. Just like me!


Okay, humble brag. In any event,

his very superiority poses for him problems of adaptation, for on the one hand he must form part of the human ambiance, and on the other he cannot grasp immediately all its absurdity.

That's me in the spotlight, losing my irreligion, and it's been me for as long as I can remember. I've always thought the world is absurd, which, now that I think about it, is why I couldn't be seduced by the accidents. Everything was so stupid beyond belief that I just couldn't care less about it.

Perhaps if you had been more talented...

That's actually a good point. Given my mediocre gifts, I was never marked out for Most Likely to Succeed. It's not as if I had to narrow down my choices between neurosurgeon and Supreme Court justice. Rather, it came down to the choice between days or graveyard shift in the supermarket.    

This is not to say I ever fit into that ambiance either, because that is when my brain (or whatever it was) suddenly activated after about 23 years of slumber, which initially prompted the defensive superiority referenced above. It took a number of years to sort that out and try to figure out where I do fit in.

Based upon the number of comments, it would seem that I still don't fit in anywhere. Either that, or the world is so filled with members of the Man-Periphery that there's just no audience to or from Man Central:

The man-center is necessarily situated in an isolation from which he cannot but suffer "externally": feeling that every man is in a certain way like himself, he sincerely puts himself in their place, but it is far from the case that others put themselves in his. 

Well boo hoo.

You misunderstand. I'm not complaining. I like being weird, and I like to think that the blog helps other weirdos feel good about not being peripheral humans. 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Divine Relative and Absolute Relativism

The first and most consequential line is that between Absolute and Relative. We capitalize the latter in order to distinguish it from its prolongation herebelow, or in other words, to situate it solidly within Divinity itself, or within Celestial Central.

Why does this matter?   

Mainly because any other metaphysical conceptualization of the total Universe -- the Universe of which this universe is a more or less distant reflection -- annoys me to no end. I simply cannot pretend that illogic is logical or inconsistency is consistent, nor do I appreciate being told it is a Mystery -- whether a religious or scientistic one -- just when things start to get interesting. 

The very existence of the Intellect implies a right to know. And a responsibility to know it. 

Know what?


Don't be an ass. No one can know everything, not even me.

Yes, but even you can know that in knowing this, you have touched the Absolute Mystery, and transcended the little annoying ones they try to throw in our path to mollify our curiosity. Of course Ultimate Reality is a Mystery -- an infinitely intelligible one. 

Now, what do you call a Mystery that never stops pouring out clues to itself?

Beats me. I don't think there is a name.

I do. I think it's called the Trinity, for who is the Father but the eternal self-giving self-revelation to the eternally receptive Son? True, it is a Mystery: the Mystery of the Eternal Radiance of Truth, Love, and Beauty from one Person to another and back. In this eternal spiral is the gorounding of Big Relativity. 

Not only is the Godhead Relative, there can be none more relative. All others are number four or higher.

With this in mind, let us return to Schuon's essay on the Prerogatives of the Human State, and reframe what he says in light of what we just threw out there above.

Human intelligence is, virtually and vocationally, certitude of the Absolute.

Again, this is where we begin and must begin. Or end. 

Literally. This is either the first line (i.e., distinction), or there are no lines, and we are thereby plunged into the eternal darkness and primordial slime of Prog World -- the very world from which God rescues us on page 1 of his bestselling mystery thriller, the Bible.

As it so happens, I'm just now reading Dennis Prager's thoroughly exoteric line-by-line exejewsis of Deuteronomy, and although he and I work in different vertical neighborhoods, we agree on the following: that in creating, the Creator's first creation is order itself:

The second verse of [Genesis] describes the world as being chaotic ("null and void"). God then brought [I would say brings] order through separations and distinctions in Genesis and throughout the Torah:

Night and day.

Land and water,

God and man.

God and nature.

Good and evil.

Human and animal.

Man and woman.

Holy and profane.

We have in the past characterized the left as the institutionalization of man's fall, but it is also the denial of every God-given distinction, or in other words, the reassertion of primordial Chaos.

Now, this Chaos is at once absolute relativism, but an inverse and perverse reflection of the Divine Relative, since it is detached from the Absolute pole which would render it meaningful. 

This is precisely how we end up living in a former civilization where it is considered the height of progressive sophistication to not only deny the distinction between man and woman, but to then assault the innocence of children by forcing them to endure Pervert Story Time. 

The deeper point is that relativism (like any other idolatrous ideological -ism) is a systematic denial of the Divine Relative:

The idea of the Absolute implies on the one hand that of the relative and on the other that of the relationships between the two, namely the prefiguration of the relative in the Absolute and the projection of the Absolute in the relative (Schuon).

Here is where I respectfully disagree with Schuon, but this is related to a more general question of Controlling Paradigm, his being Vedanta, mine being Trinitarian. The question is, which system is relative to which? 

Yesterday I mentioned to a reader that I had recently had a Meta-Cosmic brainwave that "perhaps each major religion outside Christianity expresses this or that person of the Trinity." He emailed back that 

I think there is a sense in which the spiritual raison d’être of the Trinity is captured by other faiths, albeit in diverse modes that are particular to their providentially unique perspectives. 
This can only be true, though, if different religions are, in fact, "willed" by God as the Pope has said (notwithstanding all the other difficulties with that man!). 
The question then remains as to whether the metaphysical (and salvific) "function" of the three persons is fully embodied in the Trinity alone, and thus only imperfectly reflected in non-Christian traditions (which, in other respects however, may have their own strengths).

Of course, my brainwave was just that -- a wave and not yet particulate. In order for it to become the latter, I need to write about it and see if it holds water molecules.

Let's start with Prager's commentary on Deuteronomy, since it is literally close at hand, and I am a lazy man. Supposing we start with our Trinitarian brainwave alluded to above, which aspect of it is reflected in Judaism, and how exactly, in that the whole point of Judaism -- like Islam -- is to preserve a radical monotheism seemingly at odds with any such distinctions in God?

This is a rather big subject to throw out at the end of a post. I think we can deal with the challenge, but we'll do so tomorrow.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Relative Intelligence and Absolute Stupidity

Back-up blog here:

I haven't yet fully thought through the idea that if something can be demonstrated to be absolutely necessary and true on the metaphysical plane, then we must adjust our understanding of revelation accordingly. Again, since this is true of scientific truth, why not metaphysical truth? 

Because there are as many metaphysics as there are metaphysicians.

Yes and no. That's like saying there are as many writers as there are people who write. The former is a tiny fraction of the latter. In the case of metaphysics the fraction is even smaller. 

Which then leads to the problem of authority, which then circles back to the question of revelation, because God is of necessity the ultimate authority.

Whose God?

Yes, which circles back around to faith, i.e., belief in this or that version of God. 

Is there any way out of the circle?

Which one? There are two.

Yes, I forgot. We are always situated in two, one of them closed, the other open. This sounds paradoxical but it's not. 

Consider language, for example, or better, the alphabet. It is closed in order to be open. Or the rule of law: we need to have it in order to have liberty. 

"The truth shall set you free."

Yes, and sometimes the truth hurts. 

And freedom can be painful and frightening, hence feminized progressive statists.  

Let's circle back and find out exactly what the Catechism says about this question of truth. What is open and what is closed? The biblical canon, for example is closed. But language itself is always open. 

159 Faith and science: "Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth."

That seems clear enough.

I'm thinking that if theology is the queen of the sciences, and revelation the king, then perhaps metaphysics is the child, since it's always a product of both. Sophia. But if we're not careful, we end up with something as stupid as this: or this:

Cosmolatry is no better than bibliolatry. In fact, it's considerably worse, since it reduces to vulgar pantheism. As if the cosmos is the Absolute!

And as if human intelligence is reducible to What Science Can Know!

No matter how big your scientistic cosmos, it is a tiny circle compared to the Absolute.

One of the keys to the understanding of our true nature and of our ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world never measure up to the real range of our intelligence. Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or it is nothing (Schuon).

Nor can we help it if our intelligence so surpasses the range of these intelligent primates. For

Intelligence gives rise not only to discernment, but also -- ipso facto -- to the awareness of our superiority in relation to those who do not know how to discern; contrary to what many moralists think, this awareness is not in itself a fault, for we cannot help being aware of something that exists and is perceptible to us thanks to our intelligence, precisely (ibid.).

And what do we see that they do not see, precisely? That human intelligence is "the certitude of the Absolute," which in turn "implies the relative." And clearly, the latter must always be situated in the former. To invert this necessary relationship is --

Absolute stupidity?

Yes, that's a good way of putting it, except that it cannot be taken literally, since stupidity is necessarily relative to Intelligence. Which we say in all humility, since 

the same intelligence that makes us aware of a superiority, also makes us aware of the relativity of this superiority and, more than this, it makes us aware of all our limitations. This means that an essential function of intelligence is self-knowledge: hence the knowledge -- positive or negative according to the aspects in view -- of our own nature. 

Intelligence and humility covary. Truly, to call oneself a "human being" is simultaneously a boast and a confession. It is the ultimate humble brag, for we live in that ambiguous space between Image and Fall, or between the truly human, the all-too-human, and the infrahuman. 

And without the x-factor of grace we can never restore the first and will invariably end in the last:

It is only too evident that mental effort does not automatically give rise to the perception of the real; the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error. 

The paradoxical phenomenon of even a “brilliant” intelligence being the vehicle of error is explained first of all by the possibility of a mental operation that is exclusively “horizontal,” hence lacking all awareness of “vertical” relationships; however, the definition “intelligence” still applies, because there is still a discernment between something essential and something secondary, or between a cause and an effect. 

A decisive factor in the phenomenon of “intelligent error” is plainly the intervention of an extra-intellectual element, such as sentimentality or passion; the exclusivism of “horizontality” creates a void that the irrational necessarily comes to fill (ibid.).

Monday, February 20, 2023

The Post From Nothing to Nowhere

A post of unalloyed free association, AKA compost. It came from nothing, and from nothing comes nothing. But a Coon will never ask for money, because free association is freeeee!

It’s difficult to talk about the “spark of divinity” at the core of each person without sounding as if one is on the new age spooktrum of oprified woowooitry.

This metaphor evokes the image of a central fire throwing off sparks of light, so it’s not bad for a folk metaphysic. “Light” is always featured in such mythopoetic modes of thought, as are such elemental things as fire, water, heat, wind, rock, rain, and thunder. So let’s try to dig beneath the veil of language and find out what’s going on with all these metaphors, similes, and allegories.

Regarding the latter, one of the scandals of Christianity is that it is all allegory at the foundation, or in other words, abstract principles embodied via history. 

Why not just give those of us on the right side of the Bell Curve the straight-up abstractions? Why the middle-man of history? Why the Jews? And before that, Abraham? And after that, Mary? And before any of them, I AM? 

Why present the beautiful abstractions of metaphysics via the crooked timber and dissonant timbre of a primate hurtling through time?  

Why the flying monkeys?       

Seriously, is there some reason why we have to swallow what sounds like a big myth? Certainly I can understand why God would want to condescend to the Peoples of the Left Side of the B.C. I get it. But why superior specimens such as ourselves?  

That’s why.


Those with ears, yada yada. We’re gonna have to move on.

Now, a spark is not substantially different from the fire, rather, just a smaller version, much like a fractal. Come to think off it, we had a fire last night, because global warming isn't happening fast enough in my corner of the planet. Seriously, it was freezing last night. 

Outside in the dark, I could see some sparks flying up and out of the chimney, and just now I thought of something Harry Nilsson said.

Good advice, but no, that's not it.

Late last night, in search of light, I watched a ball of fire streak across the midnight sky. I watched it glow, then grow, then shrink, then sink into the silhouette of morning. As I watched it die, I said, "Hey, I’ve got a lot in common with that light." That’s right. I’m alive with the fire of my life, which streaks across my span of time and is seen by those who lift their eyes in search of light to help them though the long, dark night.
That’s the one. But are we nothing more than little streaks of light to help the other little streaks see in the dark for as long as the streaks last? Is all of history nothing but a huge streak show?

Where do the sparks come from, that’s the question. From the fire? I can’t think of any other plausible answer, but what is the fire and how does it get here -- or anywhere?  

Just spiritballin’ here, but heat and fire can happen with enough friction. I just had an image of the perichoresis inside the Trinity happening so fast that fire breaks out, like a, like a Disco Inferno! 

Wait, what?

Why? What’s that supposed to mean?

I don’t know. Ask a rabbi.

Okay, I will, but in the context of an old post that streaked past us a decade ago:

"Man is human because he has a task in life to relate to the world, to raise it up and give it meaning and purpose. Otherwise the universe is an endless repetition, a question without an answer, a movement without a goal" (Steinsaltz, emphasis mine). A dead, because closed, circle.

In doing his cosmic duty, man elevates himself (and everything else) and is "lifted up out of the earth," such that "hidden sparks of holiness are released" to become "part of a higher level of reality" (ibid.).

About our material substrate. We are not wholly immaterial (angelic) beings. Rather, "the Divine soul of man had to be fastened to something firm and steady like the earth," for "man is also the lever and the hoist of all of creation, the factor that can raise the essentially inert parts of the world" (ibid.).

Yes, just like God. For what is artistic creation but essentially raising up inert parts of the world, whether color, sound, or rhyme? Man creates beauty, discovers truth, and embodies -- incarnates -- virtue and love. This is called "why we're here."

"A circle is thus formed; the end meets the beginning. Indeed, it would seem that the end and beginning have something in common that is of the very essence of the whole," for purpose "requires the simultaneity of both the end and the beginning. The end of the matter is in the nature of the beginning. The original idea contains the result; the final result contains the initial notion" (ibid., emphasis mine).
So, if I understand correctly, we are like a spark from the fire, only a spark capable of making a you turn -- from I to Thou -- back into the fire.