Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Crazy Must Be Gods

Apropos of our recent musings, Instapundit links to a piece at Scientistic American called Could Multiple Personality Disorder Explain Life, the Universe and Everything? Pretty silly, but it shows the lengths to which reductionites and neuromaniacs will go to deny the obvious, AKA God. Here's the bottom line:

We know empirically [sic] from DID [AKA Split or Multiple Personality Disorder] that consciousness [whatever that is] can give rise [whatever that means] to many operationally distinct centers [sic] of concurrent experience [?], each with its own [?] personality and sense of identity. Therefore, if something analogous to DID happens at a universal level, the one universal consciousness could, as a result, give rise to many alters with private inner lives like yours and ours. As such, we may [science!] all be alters -- dissociated personalities -- of universal consciousness.

Moreover, as we’ve seen earlier, there is something dissociative processes look like in the brain of a patient with DID. So, if some form of universal-level DID happens, the alters of universal consciousness must also have an extrinsic appearance. We posit that this appearance is life itself: metabolizing organisms are simply [simply?] what universal-level dissociative processes look like.

Of course, if this were the case, then no one would be able to see or know anything outside his particular dissociative process, AKA split personality. Everyone would essentially be crazy, so no one would have access to the "universal consciousness." As such, the theory is hoisted on its own retardedness.

Genuine Multiple Personality Disorder [I prefer the older and more evocative term] also happens to be exceedingly rare. Certainly I've never seen a case. Having said that, I do believe it is simply an extreme form of something much more common and indeed present in most everyone, i.e., semi-autonomous subselves with varying degrees of independence. The situation is only pathological per se when there is little-to-no integration between these centers of subjectivity.

The most common form of this lack of integration is Borderline Personality Disorder, which you might say is situated between full-blown Multiple Personality and garden variety neurosis, AKA Here Comes Everybody. Who is fully integrated and harmonious with himself all the time? A saint, maybe. Or a complete idiot.

A borderline person easily switches from one sub-personality to another (usually in the context of stress, or lack of empathy, or abandonment depression, or separation anxiety), except there is a degree of insight -- or at least potential insight -- into the switch. Typically they don't understand it while it's happening, but they can gain insight the morning after the night before. That's usually why they seek treatment: because the subselves are beyond their control and ruining their lives.

Here's a charming example plucked from thin air -- or from a combination of idle clicking and morbid curiosity: Heather Locklear is hospitalized for threatening to shoot herself 'after flying into jealous rage over suspicion her fiance was cheating, then choking her mom and hitting her dad as they tried to help her'.

I know we're not supposed to diagnose from afar, but some things can be seen from a mile away, and that right there is a borderline personality. Yes, drugs and/or alcohol may be involved, but they are both cause and consequence, in that borderlines are always impulsive and often attempt to self-medicate in self-defeating ways. The reason they self-medicate is that it confers a degree of integration or pseudo-wholeness, at least while the illusion lasts.

Come to think of it, I recently read the autobiography of Waylon Jennings, in which he's quite candid about his addiction to amphetamine and then cocaine for some 21 years, during the main part of his career. He didn't put it exactly this way, but it is clear that the bullet-proof stud we call Waylon Jennings was a product of speed. When he stopped using it, this larger-than-life character vanished with it. He could no longer storm the stage with total confidence and take over a room, no matter how large. He was just a regular guy -- who, from the perspective of Big Ol' Waymore, was almost a nonentity.

There must be a similar dynamic fueling the addictions of other celebrities, no? What struck me about Jennings is that it went on for so long that it affected a kind of relatively stable transmutation, such that the drug-fueled self became the real self, while the real self withered on the vine.

Not too long ago I evaluated the ex-wife of another prominent drug-addicted celebrity. He too had been on drugs for most of his adult life, such that when he attempted -- one of many failed attempts -- sobriety, it was as if he were beginning all over as an awkward teen.

What have we learned today? Not much yet. I want to go back to the passage about how DID may Reveal the Secret Of Everything. There are so many angles from which to approach its stupidity. For example, it certainly appeals to our gnostic sense, which we all possess, either in a healthy or a pathological way. There are of course "secrets," but they are mostly hiding in plain sight. Religion is always esoteric in a certain sense, or at least you need recourse to esoterism in order to eliminate its inevitable absurdities, infertile paradoxes, and ad hockeries posing as mysteries.

In fact, you could reframe everything the author says in straight-up religious metaphysics, such that it as if the headline is ripped straight from the Upanishads, written several thousand years ago.


Okay, There are two selves, the apparent self and the real Self. Of these it is the real Self, and he alone, who must be felt as truly existing. Or, The universe is a tree eternally existing, its root aloft, its branches spread below. This could easily be trancelighted to Christian terms, e.g., Creator-source and image-likeness.

One difference is that we do not have to resort to extreme psychopathology in order to make sense of this. After all, Multiple and Borderline Personality Disorders are associated with prolonged childhood trauma. In my experience, you might regard borderline personality as a case of chronic Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Is that what we are? A bunch of PTSD victims?

Well, before you answer... There is an ontological trauma or rupture at the foundation of things, isn't there? Adam and Eve are presumably "whole" and integrated until they take the plunge into fragmentation, contingency, impermanence, relativity, disequilibrium, et al. Life is tough. Much tougher if you pretend that severe mental illness is a kind of norm that explains everything.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Father, Son, and the Holy Post

This post is all over the place. Welcome to my mind!

As often happens with the blog, the subject under discussion is provoking an acute case of Baader-Meinhof syndrome, in that I'm seeing it everywhere, thus making it difficult to reduce to order. It reminds me of when I run into one of those apparent cosmic dead ends, but then bump into an author who opens up so many potential avenues that I have to read his entire output.

The same thing happens with music. I no sooner discover a new artist than I need to hear everything. This just happened a couple days ago, as a result of reading the Leonard Cohen bio. He is by no means a new discovery, but until now I thought a "best of" collection was sufficient. The book prompted me to order the complete works (although he fooled the record company and recorded three more after this came out). $21 for eleven CDs is an offer I couldn't refuse. "My only weakness is that I'm weak" (H. Simpson).

The problem is, everything about Schuon mirrors everything else. He even alludes to this in the foreword of another collection I'm re-re-reading, The Play of Masks. In it he points out that the book consists of "small independent treatises" that nevertheless "often summarize the whole doctrine." Boy and how. Fractal is what it is: each thread unravels the whole area rug.

I was actually trying to divert myself into a new subject while blogging about the present one, but this book is only aggravating the Baader-Meinhof. Turns out that "the play of masks" is just another way of looking at "little big self." In other words, little self -- the ego -- is of course a mask, but it turns out that God himself is a master of disguise, if I may put it that way. I'll explain as we proceed.

No, maybe I'll jump ahead to the explanation right now. I'll paraphrase, but Schuon maintains that the "reality-appearance" dialectic or reciprocity or complementarity may be followed all the way up and into God; it is "in divinas" before it is down amongus, and it is only amongus because it is first in Him. Without question -- in my opinion -- this is a mystery at which the doctrine of the Trinity is trying to hint.

Wait. Are you saying there is "appearance" or "illusion" or "contingency" in God? Well, yes and no. Let's just say "in a manner of speaking." But if you speak in this manner, it explains a lot; it clears up a great deal of pneumababbling yada yada that tends to deepak over the chopra just when you need more light.

The next paragraph of the foreword repeats what I just said in plain Schuonese:

Without a doubt, metaphysics aims in the first place at the comprehension of the whole Universe, which extends from the Divine Order to the terrestrial contingencies -- this is the reciprocity between Atma and Maya -- yet it offers in addition intellectually less demanding but humanly crucial openings; which is all the more important in that we live in a world wherein the abuse of intelligence replaces wisdom.

Metaphysics is like a map of the sky which includes holes so as to escape the limitations of the map. Light streams into the cosmos from above -- like pure light through a prism. The prism is metaphysics, spreading out into the spectrum of colors we perceive herebelow. A color is an "appearance," but nevertheless not other than the primordial light.

With that image in mind, compare with this passage by Schuon from a book we were plagiarizing with yesterday: "it is equally true that pure Intelligence exists and that its nature is to tend toward its own source." Maybe you don't see it that way, but here is some aphoristic backup:

Thought can avoid the idea of God as long as it limits itself to meditating on minor problems.

Meditating on minor problems is one way to remain locked into vertically closed Little Self. It's one of the main reasons I can no longer relate to my profession, in that so much of psychotherapy involves nothing more than exchanging one mask for another -- perhaps less painful, but a mask nonetheless.

Christianity does not deny the splendor of the world but encourages us to seek its origin, to ascend to its pure snow.

"Splendor" is really none other than the divine light alluded to above, shining through phenomena.

Only God and the central point of my consciousness are not adventitious to me.

For the Rio Linda contingent, "adventitious" means continent, or relative, or extrinsic. We could say also that it is Maya, or appearance. Thus, in the whole wide world, only two things are not Maya, which is to say, God and Big Self, the latter a prolongation of the former. So really, it comes down to the eternal dance of O and ʘ, or player, playmate, and holy game.

Or just say man is in the image of the Creator and have a nice weekend.

The universe is important if it is appearance, and insignificant if it is reality. --Dávila

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Lazy Man's Way to God

Speaking of Little Big Self, a coincidence -- in the Leonard Cohen bio, his Zen teacher, Roshi, summarizes the doctrine in six words: "Destroy particular self and absolute appears."

Well yes, I suppose. I don't want to knock another fellow's merchandise, but is there a less... austere way? It reminds me of an aphorism:

I do not want to conquer serenity, like a Stoic, but to welcome serenity in, like a Christian. --Dávila

I might have said "like a lazy man," but I like the way Dávila puts it. It elevates my indolence to a virtue. Besides, I don't know if it's really laziness per se, more like an appreciation of the magnitude of the enterprise. How many birds on fire for Zen actually cross the phoenix line?

Analogously, if I don't become a nuclear physicist, it's not just because I'm a slackcentric gentleman loafer. There are also questions of aptitude, passion, and sustained will. It's hard to pretend to be interested in something that disinterests us, even if it's in our interest to be interested.

Now I'm reminded of the whole question of self-power vs. other power. Zen might be the quintessential case of the former. This is from a previous post on the subject:

The “power of oneself" is "that of intelligence and of will seen from the point of view of the salvific capacity which they possess in principle," such that "man is freed thanks to his intelligence and by his own efforts..."

Conversely, "other power" "does not belong to us in any way," but "belongs to the 'Other' as its name indicates... in this context, man is saved by Grace, which does not however mean that he need not collaborate with this salvation by his receptivity and according to the modes that human nature allows or imposes on him" (Schuon).

So, even the lazy man must cooperate with the Other, which, ironically, is more difficult for a certain type of person. Some people just don't like to submit or surrender to or even acknowledge a higher power. Others can't help it. Yokes and folks. Vines and branches.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Me? I gave up long ago. Of his own, Lil' Bob can do nothing. I wouldn't give him the slightest attention.

Getting sidetracked. I suppose this whole line of thought was triggered by a passage in an essay called The Two Paradises:

[T]here are in man two subjects -- or subjectivities -- with no common measure and with the opposite tendencies, though there is also, in some respect, coincidence between the two.

On the one hand there is the anima or empirical ego, woven out of objective as well as subjective contingencies, such as memories and desires; on the other hand there is the spiritus or pure Intelligence, whose subjectivity is rooted in the Absolute, so that it sees the empirical ego as being no more than a husk, that is, something outward and foreign to the true "my-self," or rather "One-self," at once transcendent and immanent.

This mirrors the primordial distinction between Creator and creation, or Absolute and relative, in that man has a subject (or subjectivity) corresponding to each. In the book, I symbolize these two subjectivities as (¶) and (•); the former relates to -- and is ultimately a prolongation of -- O, while the latter takes "the world" as its object.

Thus, in a broad sense, we can say that the dialectic between (•) and world is the realm of science, while that between (¶) and O is religion. The image of the first is concentric circles around a point, while the latter is the domain of continuous radii from the same central point.

So yes, Roshi is correct: destroy (•) and O appears. In other words, eliminate the concentric circles -- via self-power -- and only the Absolute is left. But there is always the other path of simultaneously radiant and attractive grace drawing us upward and inward, toward Celestial Central.

Along these lines, in another book Schuon says that "humility" is "awareness of our metaphysical nothingness," and that "to have a sense of the sacred is to be aware that all qualities or values not only proceed from the Infinite but also attract towards It (emphasis mine).

Back to The Two Paradises. Schuon notes that "pure Intelligence exists," and "its nature is to tend toward its own source."

Indeed, what is the alternative? Either the intellect is a prolongation, or radiation, from and to that central point, or it can do no more than chase its tail in one of those concentric circles. This latter is a vertically closed system from which the purpose of religion is to save us.

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Little Big Self

The subject of this post strikes me as absolutely fundamental, bound to appear or reappear in some fashion, whether explicitly or implicitly, in any analysis of our existence, whether secular or religious.

Our subject is the "two selves" or subjectivities of every person; to be perfectly accurate, I should say "no fewer than two," but the multiple subselves that populate the psyche are generally on the same plane, and this post is more concerned with the dialectic of planes as opposed to the content of the fragmented selves of a single plane, i.e., with verticality rather than horizontality.

As alluded to in the first paragraph, everyone knows they are more than one self, because they experience the different selves from day to day and moment to moment. For example, our professional self is different from our family self, and this is different from our private self. There is no one to whom we say everything we are thinking, any more than civilization could exist if everyone walked around naked.

Speaking of which, I remember an essay by Schuon that describes our different subjectivities in terms of bodily location; here it is, in an essay called The Message of the Human Body. In it he describes various forms of our subjectivity, such as masculine and feminine, or adult and child. More generally,

The human body comprises three fundamental regions: the body properly so-called, the head, the sexual parts; these are almost three different subjectivities.

Indeed, think of how a good deal of "maturity" involves learning how to get these three on the same page and interacting harmoniously, both vertically and horizontally. As said in the bʘʘK, the vector of maturity is always toward actualization and integration. What's the alternative, regression and fragmentation? Sure. But this post is not about the left.

Note that you need both: actualization without integration leads to a kind of protean expressiveness with no center (a great many artists fall into this superficially open-ended but ultimately blind alley), while the converse would be a kind of static and repressive sclerosis. The first is all wet, the latter all dried up. You need both fire and earth. Not to mention wind.

Regarding the sexual center, Schuon makes the point that it manifests, "quite paradoxically, a dynamic subjectivity at once animal and divine, if one may express it thus." Yes you may, because it certainly helps explain the deep pain and confusion -- to oneself and others -- that can result.

As it so happens, I'm reading a biography of Leonard Cohen, and this is certainly one of the central themes of his life. I'm only about halfway through, and he's not close to sorting it out, i.e., integrating the two. You can't say he didn't try, as he later spent many years (when he was in his 60s) in a Zen monastery. That is a way of detachment from various subjective centers in favor of identification with the One Center, i.e., the Big Self (which for Zen is No Self).

I'm not sure if this is the best way, but we'll return to the question as we proceed.

At any rate, an essential ambiguity is introduced into the subject because all selves are in relation, and to a certain extent determined by the relation. Who would you be if you had had a different mother and father? Or a different spouse? Or a different culture, i.e., different cultural objects available to discover and express oneself?

Impossible to say, but you would certainly be different, and yet, somehow the same. We are always woven of chance and necessity, or music and geometry, or freedom and determinism, and that's just the way it is down here. It's why the future is always different from the past, and yet the same old same old.

Who am I now?

Well, when I blog, I am definitely interacting with Big Self, however you wish to conceptualize it. I like to call it O, since we can posit its existence without necessarily knowing a thing about it until it manifests through us, which is to say Lil' Self.

What we're really attemting is a kind of open, dynamic, and flowing Center-to-center communication. But isn't that just another name for "religion" -- or better, religiosity? I think it is what we're doing when we do religion. I'm just doing it in a certain way with the blogging.

As usual, Schuon describes what's going on with adamantine clarity and precision:

[H]uman nature is made of centrality and totality, and hence of objectivity; objectivity being the capacity to step outside oneself, while centrality and totality are the capacity to conceive the Absolute.

As far as the blog is concerned, "totality" is the integration of the One Cosmos, interior and exterior, subject and object, vertical and horizontal. The Absolute is O, while objectivity is detachment from Lil' Bob. "Centrality" is the ongoing process of metabolism and assimilation of O, in the dialectical space between it and (¶). (This latter might go by the name of Intermediate Bob.)

This was just the first blast at the subject, so don't expect any final integration. We'll continue blasting tomorrow. For now I have to revert to Lil' Bob and get on with the day.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Deus-continuity Amidst Discontinuity

Yesterday's post didn't quite achieve Total Clarity on the subject of radiance and reverberation, no doubt because I'm not quite clear myself. Let's give it one more shot. One problem is that Schuon doesn't say all that much about these principles -- leaving them unsaturated -- so it's up to us to fill them with meaning.

First of all, Creation doesn't just occur 13.8 billion years ago (or whenever you posit the "beginning") but absolutely continuously. This is indeed orthodoxy -- not just for Christianity, but for thought. Put conversely, if your doctrine doesn't allow for continuous creation, then it's wrong at best.

So, how are we to think of the creation of this world? And when we refer to this world, we don't mean just earth, or the galaxy, or even the cosmos, but existence as such. In other words, how does existence exist? What is its source?

Again, religious doctrine -- just like any other map -- provides "points of reference" to approach this problem in a fruitful manner. For example, the Bible lets us know on the first page that existence is not self-sufficient, but dependent upon a higher principle. This dependency is perpetual, not a one-time event.

According to González, the doctrine of creation "stands at the root of the Christian understanding of the relationship between God and the world." The Creator, according to the creed, is the maker of all things, both visible and invisible. Perhaps you've noticed that no secular creation myth can even begin to account for the latter. Rather, they always try to swallow the invisible into the visible.

Think, for example, of Marxism and all its ghastly progeny, from feminism to climate hysteria. It rightly (from its own standpoint) sees religion not just as wrong, but as a kind of disease, wholly parasitic on matter. Religion is the opiate of the masses, when in reality Marxism is the pacifier of the tenured; the latter provides a kind of pseudo-heart in a heartless cosmos, or an archimedean vertical perspective in a world devoid of verticality. It is a view from nowhere by a bunch of nobodies.

Often a Christian doctrine is not just to posit a truth but to counter falsehoods. In order to understand certain doctrines, you need to appreciate them in the context of what they are arguing against.

In this case, González points out that the doctrine of creation "rejects two views that have repeatedly challenged it through the centuries: dualism and monism," the former positing two ultimate principles of creation, the latter denying the distinction between Creator and creation.

Both of these alternatives -- dualism and monism -- are heretical, not just for Christianity but for religion as such. In short, they are intrinsic as opposed to extrinsic heresies, the latter going to doctrines that only apply to this or that religion.

This heretical confusion persists to this day, in both religious and irreligious circles. Scientism, for example, begins with the inexplicable dualism of mind and matter, but then makes the dualism go away by reducing it to an absurd monism. I'm not sure if the pilgrimage from inexplicable to absurd represents progress, but there you go.

As for religious heresies, "creationism" comes to mind. Creationism is most definitely not synonymous with the venerable doctrine of creation, but rather, a kind of vulgar substitute that borrows from and tries to imitate scientism. You could say that it horizontalizes and temporalizes what is properly vertical and atemporal.

Interestingly, the doctrine of creation also set itself against another ancient idea (embraced by Neo- and Paleo-Platonists alike), emanationism -- the notion that

All things are derived from the first reality or perfect God by steps of degradation to lesser degrees of the first reality or God, and at every step the emanating beings are less pure, less perfect, less divine.

In other words, the doctrine of creation opposes the idea that the world is simply a kind of necessary side-effect of the One. Rather, it wants to emphasize and preserve God's freedom and autonomy in creating this world.

However, in emphasizing this one side, the doctrine of creation tends to obscure important truths conveyed by emanationism. In my opinion, the most fruitful approach is to see the two principles -- creation and emanation -- as complementary, not opposed.

For ultimately, creation goes to the discontinuity between Creator and creation, man and God; while emanation goes to the equally important continuity. Indeed, the principle -- or fact, rather -- of Incarnation seems to me to harmonize the two, i.e., Christ as simultaneously all God and all man. Come to think of it, there is a kind of discontinuity-amidst-continuity within the Trinity itself.

Note how different denominations tend to emphasize one side over the other. For example, Augustine highlights the discontinuity, what with our fallen depravity, whereas in the Orthodox east they have always emphasized the continuity with the doctrine of theosis (itself a reflection of the idea that man is a reflection of God).

We're almost out of time here, but Schuon relates this to the distinction between substance, which goes more to emanation and continuity, and essence, which would go more to creation and discontinuity:

The notion of essence denotes an excellence which is, so to say, discontinuous with respect to accidents, whereas the notion of substance implies on the contrary a kind of continuity...

Hmm. I'll bet radiance has to do with substance, reverberation with essence, but we'll have to wait until next week.

Just heard about Charles Krauthammer. Damn. That one hurts. There is a man.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

An Intense Beam of Darkness, AKA This Post

Yesterday's post ended before it was about to get underway, or at least left alert readers in a quandary as to what is so special about the principles Radiance and Reverberation.

To review, Schuon's metaphysic begins with the Absolute. However, the Absolute is not a featureless blob, but has certain implications or translogical entailments, among them Infinitude:

To speak of the Absolute, is to speak of the Infinite; Infinitude is an intrinsic aspect of the Absolute. It is from this "dimension" of Infinitude that the world springs forth; the world exists because the Absolute, being such, implies Infinitude.

Can't get clearer than that, although we are playing rather high above the terrestrial rim, near the summit of abstraction, before God swallows himself in his own Beyond-Being. On a clear day you can see forever up here. Nevertheless, it is not possible to contain the Absolute in language, only to point to -- or perhaps better, from -- it.

Along these lines, Schuon adds that the Absolute is not any mere "possible Reality," but rather necessary Reality. I suppose you could say that if we eliminate all contingency, possibility, and appearance from the world, what we are left with is the Absolute -- which is the changeless ground out of which the contingency and possibility flow.

Ultimately, absoluteness is what distinguishes a thing from nonexistence. In other words, to even exist is to partake of absoluteness; as such, our existence is contingent, whereas God's is necessary: God is that reality which cannot not be.

We could also say that he is the person who who cannot not be, but that would take us away from the main thread. Suffice it to say, no Him, no you or I. Remove God from the equation and we are not even nothing.

Possibility and Necessity. Don't leave home without them. Or at least don't try to think seriously about existence without them, for you can't. You can try to eliminate one, but it will always return in unanticipated whys.

Now, if the Absolute is necessary reality, the Infinite is -- you guessed it -- possible reality. However, bear in mind that this possibility is necessary; possibility as such must be, even though this or that possibility may or may not be. Creators gonna create, and that's all there is to it. But no one knows what they might come up with next.

There are further implications. The Infinite, for example, "appears as modes of expanse or extension, such as space, time, form or diversity, number or multiplicity, matter or substance."

Looked at this way, space is the "conserving mode" of infinitude, while time is its "transforming mode" (for both good and ill, i.e., progress and decay). Likewise, there is a qualitative mode (form), a quantitative mode (number), and a substantial mode (matter). Taken together, these "are the very pillars of universal existence": space, time, form, number, (prime) matter.

These pillars of the cosmic community are always at play in all phenomena. They are simultaneously beyond and in the world, for example, in the practice of art. Indeed, I would say that in practicing art -- or indulging in creativity -- we are reflecting the Divine play-nature. It's probably why we tend to idealize great artists.

The point is, because of the structure of existence, you might say that there are things (quantities) and perfections (qualities). If you manage create a perfect thing, you qualify as an Artist. I know I qualify because of my son. Not unlike God.

Now, back to our words of the day, radiance and reverberation. Recall from yesterpost that

Absolute Substance extends Itself, through relativization, under the aspects of Radiance and Reverberation; that is to say, It [substance] is accompanied -- at a lesser degree of reality -- by two forms of emanation, one that is dynamic, continuous, and radiating; and the other static, discontinuous, and formative....

Expressed in geometric terms, the Substance is the center; Radiance is the cluster of the radii, and Reverberation, or the Image, is the circle. [Existence] is the surface which enables this unfolding.

Now we see that Infinitude redounds to possible reality which redounds to relativization, this under the auspices of two modes: radiance, which is dynamic and continuous, like radii extending from the cosmic center; and reverberation, which is static and discontinuous, like concentric circles around a central point.

Okay, but what does any of this have to do with just living your life? Well, let me think...

I know! We are situated at the periphery, which is full of change, dynamism, progress, and decay; but nevertheless partake of the center, which is transtemporal contemplation, prayer, serenity, and peace. Lines radiate from the nonlocal center, and this is grace or "divine attraction." We reverberate at the periphery, and these are degrees of being.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Re-verberations in the Logosphere

I'm always struck by how Schuon can use such ordinary words to disclose the most profound profundities: no mathematical equations, no specialized vocabulary, no idiosyncratic neologisms, and certainly no tenured flimflammery.


I can think of many, for example, center and periphery, radii and circumference, absolute and infinite, horizontal and vertical, inward and outward, possibility and necessity, geometry and music, or (as we've been discussing lately) form and substance.

Incidentally, you will notice that with each of these antinomies, one side goes with all the others. Thus, center, radii, absolute, vertical, inward, necessity, geometry, substance; and periphery, circumference, infinite, horizontal, outward, possibility, music, form.

And in my opinion, this is because each of these antinomies must be grounded in an (or the) ultimate Antinomy. Each is a reflection or fractal of the one Antinomy.

Which itself is (ortho)paradoxical, since "one" and "antinomy" would appear to be antinomic. In other words, One is one; or as they say in Islam, "there is no Allah but Allah." But if there is an ultimate antinomy, doesn't this imply a vicious dualism, as in Manichaeism?

Antinomy: a contradiction between two apparently equally valid principles or between inferences correctly drawn from such principles; a fundamental and apparently unresolvable conflict or contradiction.

I believe the doctrine of the Trinity is here to rescue us from what is otherwise an insoluble metaphysical nul de slack. The problem is, if All is One, then all this many-ness is just an illusion and the world is reduced to insignificance, AKA mayaplicity. In my opinion, the antinomies in which we are plunged can only be resolved with recourse to an eternally dynamic threeness.

At any rate, I am no longer able to see how one could possibly understand the world without these ordinary words which clothe such weighty concepts. Indeed, how can one understand anything of consequence in the absence of just verticality alone? It's not as if one can rid the world of verticality, or reduce it to horizontality with no remainder.

Time out for aphorisms, for Dávila too discloses the deepest of truths with the plainest of words. I have taken the liberty of arranging them hierarchically in order to reveal the final (!):

The lesser truths tend to eclipse the highest truths.

Often the simpler a truth is the more difficult it is to understand.

Every truth is a tension between contradictory evidences that claim our simultaneous allegiance.

The man does not escape from his prison of paradoxes except by means of a vertical act of faith.

There was never any conflict between reason and faith, but between two faiths.

Truths do not contradict each other except when they get out of order.

The two poles are the individual and God; the two antagonists are God and man.

As long as we do not arrive at religious categories, our explanations are not founded upon rock.

If it is not of God that we are speaking, it is not sensible to speak of anything seriously.

Four or five invulnerable philosophical propositions allow us to make fun of the rest.


We've gotten far afield, because I wanted to discuss two of those ordinary words, "reverberation" and "resonance." According to Schuon,

Absolute Substance extends Itself, through relativization, under the aspects of Radiance and Reverberation; that is to say, It is accompanied -- at a lesser degree of reality -- by two forms of emanation, one that is dynamic, continuous, and radiating; and the other static, discontinuous, and formative.

If this were not the case, then quite frankly, "the world would not be."

Bold statement!

Later in the same chapter he says, "Expressed in geometric terms, the Substance is the center; Radiance is the cluster of the radii, and Reverberation, or the Image, is the circle." What we perceive as Existence "is the surface which enables this unfolding."

We'll continue to unfold this tomorrow, as we're out of time.

Condolences to Ted for the loss of his feline friend. All loss is the image -- or reverberation -- of Loss.