Sunday, September 10, 2006

More Thoughts on Metahistory and the Cosmic Path to 9-11

All our destinies are interwoven; and until the last of us has lived, the significance of the first cannot finally be clear. --Hans Urs von Balthasar

I was trying to place the controversy of the 9-11 movie in a larger context, when I thought of the great historian Christopher Dawson, who made the provocative and yet axiomatic assertion that being an eye witness to history is of no consequence whatsoever to historical insight. Obviously, most of us lived through the Clinton years, so we think we know what happened. We were there. But were we really, at least historically?

Dawson uses the example of the Battle of Hastings, which every British schoolchild evidently knows: “A visitor from another planet who witnessed the Battle of Hastings would possess far greater knowledge of the facts than any modern historian, yet this knowledge would not be historical knowledge for lack of any tradition to which it could be related; whereas the child who says ‘William the Conqueror 1066’ has already made his atom of knowledge a historical fact by relating it to a national tradition and placing it in the time-series of Christian culture.”

Similarly, an eye witness to the crucifixion of Jesus would have undoubtedly taken as much notice of the two criminals who were crucified beside him. Only in hindsight was the centrality of Jesus’ death recognized. It is fair to say that no one who witnessed it thought to themselves, “Hmm, interesting. This is the center and still point of history. Yesterday was BC. Tomorrow will be AD.”

As Dawson writes, “Behind the rational sequence of political and economic cause and effect, hidden spiritual forces are at work which confer on events a wholly new significance. The real meaning of history is something entirely different from that which the human actors in the historical drama themselves intend or believe.” A contemporary observer cannot have imagined that “the execution of an obscure Jewish religious leader in the first century of the Roman Empire would affect the lives and thoughts of millions who never heard the names of the great statesmen and generals of the age.”

Thus, there is an unavoidably eschatological aspect of history. Events cannot be fully understood without reference to their finality, that is, what they point toward and reveal only in the fullness of time. As Dawson says, “The pure fact is not as such historical. It only becomes historical when it can be brought in relation with a tradition so that it can be part of an organic whole.” Another historian, Dermot Quinn, writes that “The fact does not tell the story; the story, as it were, tells the fact. It is the latter that gives pattern and meaning; it is the former that lacks a meaning of its own.”

Therefore, in order to be a proper historian, you had better have your story right. And what is the story? Ah, that’s the question, isn’t it? For it is fair to say that left and right are operating under the umbrella of vastly different stories--politically, culturally, economically, psychologically, theologically, and in just about every other -ally way.

If history involved nothing more than the accumulation of facts, it would be of no use to us. Detail alone does not constitute history, any more than randomly played notes constitute harmony and melody. Only by knowing what history is for can we know what is of importance in history. Since history as it happens consists of unique and unrepeatable events, it is unintelligible unless bound into a larger scheme of order.

As Quinn puts it, “Randomness has no meaning. Yet to give meaning to events in time is to remove them from time itself, to deny them the singularity that makes them historical.” Likewise, as the philosopher Michael Polanyi argued, to see meaning beyond the local is to see it in the local. A fact does not and cannot speak for itself. Depending on your nonlocal understanding of history, you will see completely different facts and regard them very differently.

For Dawson, it was the incarnation of Christ that gave history its center and therefore significance: “Viewed from this center the history of humanity became an organic unity. Eternity had entered into time and henceforward the singular and temporal had acquired an eternal significance. The closed circle of time had been broken and a ladder had been let down from heaven to earth by which mankind could escape from the ‘sorrowful wheel’ which had cast its shadow over Greek and Indian thought, and go forward in newness of life to a new world.” On the other hand, people outside the Judeo-Christian tradition tended “to solve the problem of history by a radical denial of its significance."

Thus, Dawson admits his metahistorical prejudice at the outset. And whether they admit it or not, all historians operate under a similar “metahistory.” Without one, they could not “see” or imagine history at all. I know I have my own metahistory. It is outlined in my book, where I did my best to take into consideration all of the facts of existence--scientific, biological, psychological, anthropological, historical, and theological--and weave them into a tapestry of 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution. Based on this model, I know what is of historical significance to me. It is those things that either facilitate or impede the cosmic evolution of which human consciousness is the leading edge.

In ether worlds, I attempted to place history in the ultimate context, for in the absence of an ultimate context, secular history really is a dark prison from which there is no hope of escape: “It is a prison in which the human spirit confines itself when it is shut out of the wider world of reality. But as soon as the light comes, all the elaborate mechanisms that have been constructed for living in the dark become useless. The recovery of spiritual vision gives man back his spiritual freedom” (Dawson).

The radically secular culture of the left can only exist by keeping us in the dark. So don’t ever be surprised when they attack the Light.

When the prophets are silent and society no longer possesses any channel of communication with the divine world, the way to the lower depths is still open and man's frustrated spiritual powers will find their outlet in the unlimited will to power and destruction. --Christopher Dawson


Lisa said...

The Democratic leadership's attempted censorship of a TV docudrama should really highlight how tolerant they truly are of ideas and points of view that differ from their own. They are proving to be more of a threat to our freedoms than the so-called "Christian Theocracy" and BusHitler! I have a feeling that their attempts at silencing the truth will cause more people to watch this series. Disney could not have hoped for better free advertising than this. Looks like a case of "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

P.S. Sorry for creating the horrifying image of Harry Reid in drag!!!!

Nagarjuna said...

"I think they ought to tell the truth, particularly if they are going to claim it is based on the 9/11 Commission report...They shouldn't have scenes that are directly contradicted by the findings of the 9/11 report." (Bill Clinton)

Lisa, I don't know if the controversial scenes in the film are accurate recreations of actual events or not. According to Clinton and other officials, these scenes are not faithful to what really happened or to the official findings of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission regarding what really happened.

So, for instance, if Sandy Berger is telling the truth when he says that he really didn't refuse to authorize an attack on bin Laden when he had the chance to have him killed or captured, could you reasonably blame him or the "Democratic leadership" from wanting this scene removed or changed to reflect what really happened, especially when a big election is imminent? I couldn't, any more than I could reasonably blame Republicans for not wanting blatantly false scenes in a film about a highly charged historical event from being shown that could damage their cause in an upcoming election.

Lisa said...

You mean the same Sandy Berger that shoved national documents down his pants as he tried to steal them from the National Archive? Yeah, ok, he has such a history of being completely honest.....

Plus, being a "docudrama" means that some scenes were played out not exactly verbatim but to provide dramatic effect.

Will said...

I think history is generally viewed as a process of cause and effect, that is, *action* is the fuse and ultimate determinate of historical meaning. Those who are bereft of spiritual comprehension, would of course place all emphasis on the cause - that is, action - in the hopes of creating the desired utopian effect. Thus the less spiritual comprehension, the more reliance on "revolutionary" action.

However, were we to view history from the spiritual vantage point, say, from several thousand years in the future, or maybe after we pass from the material plane, we might see that the things that really mattered, the things that really shaped the larger arc of history were not a matter of action alone but of *being*, the latter being of far more importance than the first. In fact, I think it could be argued that "being", if at an advanced spiritual level, is in itself an action that has a profound effect on the health of the planet. Christ of course, "did things" during his tenure on earth, things that went into the historical record and have had a profound (and beneficial) effect on philosophy, theology, politics, even, I would wager, science. I think, however, it's possible that Christ's greatest accomplishment was in the unseen arena - the anchoring of a literal Light on earth, which may have saved earth from self-destruction (and saved a lot of departed souls, past, present, future, from being permanently trapped in astral goo). And this would have resulted from Christ's being Itself, His capacity as a clear channel for the Light above.

With this in mind, I think it's possible that the most profound, impacting "history" is being written today by those who might be completely obscure, those without any political or even social leverage whatsoever, but who allow themselves to be Light channels. Fact is, in this sense, we are all makers of history, and what we are as individuals may have much more of an impact on world events than what we usually think.

BTW, Lisa, right-on with your view on the Clintonista attempt to censor the ABC show. And yes, Harry Reid in drag is a very horrifying image, but it fits, it fits.

Bill C. said...

That's right, Nags. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, I never said I regretted not handing over bin Laden, Sandy Burgler didn't steal those documents from the national archives, Farenhiet 9-11 tells it like it is, liberals don't believe in censorship, and you are not a useful idiot.

Nagarjuna said...

Lisa, for all I know at the present time, you may be right. Berger may be lying about what really happened. But let's set that issue aside for now and look at the matter more philosophically. Let us say, hypothetically speaking, that Berger's telling the truth and that the scene in question is a complete fabrication. Can you reasonably blame him and the Democrats in general for not wanting that scene included in this particular film, said to be based on the 9/11 Commission Report, airing at this particular time?

"Plus, being a "docudrama" means that some scenes were played out not exactly verbatim but to provide dramatic effect."

When one is making a film about such a uniquely important and emotionally charged event as this one and airing it on the eve of 9/11 and soon before a Congressional election and saying that it's based on the findings of an official bipartisan Commission set up to discover and evaluate what actually happened, would you not agree that it's one thing to flesh out scenes for narrative detail and "dramatic effect" while still remaining as true to the facts as possible, and quite another to take dramatic license in ways that portray blatant falsehood or unsubstantiated allegations that cast an administration or political party in an unfavorable light?

Will said...

And for what it's worth, here's another thought: There is in the human soul a desire, if not a longing, to understand the "history beyond history", ie., spiritual history. However, just as the human desire for spiritual Oneness and brotherhood was utterly warped by secularist thought into the evils of communism and assorted leftist spin-offs, so too is the innate desire to understand "hidden history" warped by secularist thought into . . . political conspiracy theory!

Witness the plethora of 9/11 conspiracy theories and the vehemence and downright hatred that fuels them. If there is a universal spiritual quickening at hand, those who have no capacity for higher vision are going to become more and more agitated, more and more susceptible to warped perspective.

Anonymous said...


Here's a novel idea. Why don't you just watch the entire film and judge for yourself, instead of accepting the self-serving word of proven liars at face value? After five years of constantly distorting facts and deceiving the public, if you think the left has suddenly developed an interest in the truth of 9-11, you are an even bigger buffoon than anyone realized.

Anonymous said...

Or, to quote Dr. Sanity today:

"If only some of the wasted and counterproductive energy these morons are expending could be put to some good use in this war! Instead, they comfort themselves with the fantasy that they are 'standing up for the truth'. Give me a break. These people have been unwilling to face truth for some years now and have been desperately trying to pave a path back to 9/10--or even earlier to the magical, golden years of the perfect Clinton era (i.e., when they were in power).

"Althouse clearly notes the presence of psychological displacement even in the title of her piece: 'It's too late to decide to attack Bin Laden, so let's attack this TV show.'

"Displacement has been used to great effect by the political left to justify any kind of attack on the current administration; and there has been not one single action on the part of Bush that they have not hysterically attacked from the time the ruins of the twin towers stopped smoldering. Displacement is, in fact, the root psychological cause of the left's intense Bush Derangement Syndrome."

Nagarjuna said...

I do intend to watch the film, my friend. But if it contains scenes depicting blatant factual and prejudicial errors regarding the actions of either Democrats or Republicans, I hope they will be removed or corrected before it's aired.

And, for the record, I never said I accepted anyone's word about this "at face value," and I hope you don't accept anyone's, Democrat's or Republican's, word "at face value" either. The real issue I was raising was whether it really matters if this particular film being shown at this particular time gets the facts as right as possible or not, or whether it's perfectly okay if it contains scenes of blatant falsehood or unsubstantiated allegations of a prejudicial nature in the name of "dramatic license."

natty bumpo said...

Nagarjuna, you have missed the entire point of Bob's post, thus proving its point.

Anonymous said...

Bob: Your quote from Dawson --

"When the prophets are silent and society no longer possesses any channel of communication with the divine's frustrated spiritual powers will find their outlet in power and destruction."

seems mistaken (not your fault, of course). Since when have prophets ever been required as "channels of communication with the divine world?" Doesn't each individual take care of divine communication for herself? Prophets can be helpful, but I assert that they have never been essential. Therefore, "spiritual frustration" befalling any civilization would more likely be the result of God's action, not ours. I doubt that spiritual frustration on a group scale ever existed.
And, Will's notion that one can best influence the course of history by simply being a "clear channel for the light" is interesting. I intuitively grasp what he means; perhaps a field of influence radiates outward from the spiritual/pious person which affects other people and things. This comes under the category of "things which I hope are true."
History is the accretion of individual actions and attitudes. If you want to write history, BE the future you want, is what I hear as a subtext to Will's posting.
What "lefties" do or say is immaterial. They do not control the inner sanctum of the heart and mind, which is the only thing that matters. Bob writes "The radically secular culture of the left can only exist by keeping us in the dark." Well, they can't keep us in the dark. They can only keep themselves there.

Nagarjuna said...

My comments have been responses to Lisa's original comment and to her and other people's comments on my comments.

But then, what IS the point of Bob's post that I have somehow proven? That I am 'attacking the Light' by asking whether it's important that the Light of Truth rather than the Darkness of falsehood be presented regarding the "Path to 9/11"?

gumshoe1 said...

you gotta laugh.

language is not
this man's (Dermot Quinn's) friend
...did he climb to the top of the tower of Babel before

[Another historian, Dermot Quinn, writes that]....

“The fact does not tell the story; the story, as it were, tells the fact. It is the latter that gives pattern and meaning; it is the former that lacks a meaning of its own.”

latter? former??
he's eating his own tail and trying to speak at the same time,even if you get what he's after.

i find this funny,because a lot
of the pre-9/11 mini-series hype
surrounds the "fake but accurate" meme.

WorldNetDaily,not a particulalry
non-partisan online news-rag
(its very right-slanted),
quoted comments from Clinton's nuke-handbag manager,
who was witness to some of the
"get OBL" opportunities passed up
by Wm Jefferson Hollywood:

"In an interview with WND, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert “Buzz” Patterson said producer and writer Cyrus Nowrasteh called him the morning of Sept. 1, explaining he had used Patterson’s book “Dereliction of Duty” as a source for the drama.

Later that day, Nowrasteh brought a preview copy of “The Path to 9/11″ to Patterson for him to view at home. Patterson, who says he has talked with the director seven or eight times since then, also received a phone call from an ABC senior vice president, Quinn Taylor.

Patterson told WND he recognizes the television production conflates several events, but, in terms of conveying how the Clinton administration handled its opportunities to get bin Laden, it’s “100 percent factually correct,” he said.

imo,a "television production [that]conflates several events" and...
“100 percent factually correct”
do not make what i call a documentary film.

a docu-fiction is not "factual",
and attempts to insist they are is
just more "fake but accurate"

i'd suggest that examining the facts is simply still too painful
for a large number of people.

the noise-chamber accusation that the "rethuglicans" endorse the mini-series(which the majority have yet to see) because
"they hope" it will tar the Clinton Admin and its decisions,despite the film being
a docu-fiction,is particularly empty.

anyone not trying to *manufacture* a narrative knows decisions and actions taken during the Clinton Admin led to events that followed after their departure.

that anyone needs a mini-series to discover such a basic observation
is mind-boggling.

grant said...

Nagarjuna's point has not been adequately rebutted; unless you can prove that Bill Clinton and Sandy Berger are lying about their assessment of this mini-series, then it must be viewed with suspicion as a possible right-wing power-grab propaganda film. The possibility cannot be ruled out without further inquiry.
The Bushites have no more scruples than did the Clintonists who came before; there is far less difference, in fact, between supposed "left" and "right" in American politics than is often supposed.
Clinton was damn fine leader. I'd take him for another term. Bush is a fine leader also, and apporpriately warlike. They both had to warp the truth to get things done and there's nothing wrong with that.

Gagdad Bob said...


"right-wing power-grab propaganda film"?

I didn't know you were from planet moonbat.

In any event, the truth of what Clinton did--or failed to do--is much worse than what is depicted in the film. True, the one scene liberals object to is not "factual." Rather, it relies upon an artistic device that is of necessity used in virtually any historical film. It is a composite of several incidents in which bin Laden's whereabouts were known but the feckless Clinton failed to follow up.

As Rick Moran wrote, "I would like to see that scene deleted to be replaced by four new scenes showing in excruciatingly accurate detail the four missed opportunities we had to kill Bin Laden. I’m sure our friends on the left would want to see history portrayed accurately in this regard."

Van said...

nagarjuna said "But let's set that issue aside for now and look at the matter more philosophically."
Has anyone noticed that that phrase always seems to mean "lets pretend reality isn't real so I can pull this next theory over your head".
Hi Nagarjuna!

Van said...

Grant said "Clinton was damn fine leader."

Clinton may have been an damn fine media personality, but a leader he was not.

A leader sees the world as it is, identifies it as such for his followers, explains what is wrong, why, and how to fix it.

Clinton may have had a vision of how the world should be, but he never faced reality as it was, and you need both to properly lead.

"I want you to listen to me, I never had..." you know the rest; and he applied the same approach to the mid-east and everywhere else.

Nagarjuna said...

What "reality" is that, Van? Did the controversial scene involving Sandy Berger really happen or not? And does it matter? BOTH are important, don't you think?