Sunday, October 15, 2006

Free of God, Animalized Intellect, Encased in Mud (10.03.08)

When we were young as a babe’s I AM and our world was fresh and new, Heaven touched the earth and angels whispered their secrets to us through the wind, rivers, mountains and stars. But as we lose our naiveté and innocence, the world is increasingly demystified and we become subject to the brutal “reign of quantity” inside the prison of the senses.

Life at the center is exchanged for life at the periphery. It is as if we are trapped below a sheet of ice: “Mistaking the ice that imprisons us for Reality, we do not acknowledge what it excludes and experience no desire for deliverance; we try to compel the ice to be happiness” (Schuon). A strange new world is created, built from the bottom up rather than the top down. But since this barren world contains no real Truth, it cannot satisfy the exiled soul, which begins its endless quest for greater thrills and excitement to fill the void. New. More. Faster. Rage Against the Machine--not up, but further down and out, where only one last barrier remains: blasphemy and destruction.

Press release: “Slayer, the fastest, heaviest and darkest band on earth retakes its unholy throne with their first studio album in six years, Christ Illusion, its first studio effort with the original lineup since 1990’s Seasons In The Abyss. The album will be available on June 6, 2006—that’s right, 6/6/06.”

Can music adversely affect the soul? That's a stupid question. Can beautiful music elevate the soul? When I give my son his nightly “big sendoff” into dreamland, I sing him lullabies, the music of choice usually being angelic Beach Boy songs that spontaneously pop into my head, such as In My Room or the beautiful Hushabye:

Hushabye, hushabye
Oh my darlin' don't you cry
Guardian angels up above
Take care of the one I love

Lullabye and goodnight
In your dreams I hold you tight
Lullabye and goodnight
Til the dawn's early light

Pillows lying on your bed
Oh my darling rest your head
Sandman will be coming soon
Singing you a slumber tune

Bear in mind that this song was recorded by grown men without irony just a couple of generations ago. It might as well have been 1,000 years ago, for such unguarded innocence is almost unthinkable in today’s musical climate.


The Vital Beings are the ones who do not wish to recover their humanity and who are fully at home in this fallen world. Breaking through the ice would involve surpassing themselves, the one thing the vital man is loath to do. For he loves the world with all his heart, all his soul, and all his mind--which is precisely to lack heart, soul and mind, or at least to deny their provenance. It is to be “born again from below.”

Lately the news has focussed on some of the increasingly routine horrors being perpetrated against children in our schools and elsewhere. Father Rose, who wrote his piece on nihilism in the late fifties, prior to the vast explosion in crime caused by lenient liberal social policies and a forgiving attitude toward evil, predicted all of this. As he writes, “Crime in most previous ages had been a localized phenomenon and had apparent and comprehensible causes in the human passions of greed, lust, envy, jealousy, and the like; never has there been anything more than a faint prefiguration of the crime that has become typical of our own century, crime for which the only name is one the avant-garde today is fond of using in another Nihilist context: ‘absurd.’”

That is an excellent point, for the absurd sadism of so many of our crimes--far too many to chronicle here--matches the absurdity of an art that celebrates ugliness or “authenticity” and an educational system that promulgates the lie that truth does not exist. When your elites spend several generations creating an absurd world, don’t be surprised if you end up with absurd people and meaningless crimes.

“When questioned, those apprehended for such crimes explain their behavior in the same way: it was an ‘impulse’ or an ‘urge’ that drove them, or it was a sadistic pleasure in committing the crime, or there was some totally irrelevant pretext, such as boredom, confusion, or resentment. In a word, they cannot explain their behavior at all, there is no readily comprehensible motive for it, and in consequence... there is no remorse.”

I just flipped on the news today, oh boy, while giving a bottle to His Majesty. A 22 year-old man arrested in Iowa for murdering his parents and three sisters. Family of four in Florida murdered. High school football players remove their helmets and use them as weapons to beat their opponents.

As a brief aside, I remember studying film noir back in film school. The professor divided it into several sub-genres that evolved--or devolved--over the years, and which seemed to reflect the societal degeneration of which Father Rose speaks. I won’t get into a whole dissertation here, but early film noir such as Double Indemnity depicts a man who is pulled down into circumstances beyond his control due either to bad luck or some identifiable motive such as greed or lust. But in late film noir, the entire world has become corrupt, both the criminals and law enforcement. In fact, every human institution has become corrupt. In such a world, the antihero or outlaw becomes the hero with whom we identify. The corruption extends even into the family, which becomes a breeding ground for psychopaths, as in White Heat (starring James Cagney) or The Godfather saga. In these films, evil merely fights evil, so we inevitably find ourselves identifying with evil. There is no “good.” There are only hypocrites.

In the Real world, Spirit is substance, matter is accident. Spirit precedes matter, the latter of which is the final deustination of God’s involution into time and space. A corresponding world of the senses arises, but this shifting realm is hardly the world of reality. Rather, the uncorrupted intellect knows objective reality as the Spirit.

As mentioned in a previous post, a counter-religious movement gained steam in the 1950’s, led by the “Beats,” by confused psychoanalysts such as N.O. Brown, and by charming rogues such as Timothy Leary and Alan Watts, for whom transcendence was the last thing on their minds. Just as N.O. Brown wrote that repression was the essence of pathology and that we would live in a sort of eden if we would merely express our lower instincts in an unmediated way, the new age teachers created bastardized forms of zen and taoism to exalt “spontaneity” and “naturalism” so as to obscure the deeper desire to stay high and sleep with coeds under a veneer of spiritualism. (Ironically, Rose was a student of Watts at the Academy of Asian Arts in San Francisco in 1955.)

The human being has an animal nature which is not by definition beneath him. It only becomes so “when man renounces his humanity and fails to humanize what he shares with the animals” (Schuon). To humanize is to spiritualize, which is to “open the natural to the supernatural whence it proceeds ontologically.” In other words, this hardly represents repression, but a recovery of our true being. If anything, the uninhibited and shameless vital man represses his humanness, for one can just as easily repress what is higher as what is lower.

Interestingly, just as sexuality, in order to be properly human, must be spiritualized, Schuon notes that intellectual (i.e., spiritual) knowledge has an ecstatic dimension to it, if for no other reason that it is known with the heart (or mind in the heart, the “location” of the higher mind): “There is a spiritualization of sexuality just as there is, conversely, an animalization of intelligence [what we are calling the vital mind]; in the first case, what can be the occasion of a fall becomes a means of elevation; in the second case, intelligence is dehumanized and gives rise to materialism, even existentialism, hence to ‘thinking’ which is human only in its mode and of which the content is properly subhuman.”

But then, these subhuman philosophies become the justification to fall further into vital animality. Postmodern philosophies use the spirit to deny the spirit, leaving us with a wholly horizontal wasteland of matter and instinct. This intellectual operation is a complete success, even though the patient--the human qua human--does not survive it. A new kind of infrahuman is born, forgetful of his fall and “at ease in a world that presents itself as an end in itself, and which exempts man from the effort of transcending himself”--which is to have shunned and bypassed our reason for being here.

The fall is nearly complete. But not before we drag this whole despiritualized existentialada down with us, which we will do tomorrow in discussing the final stage of the nihilist dialectic: destruction.


nb said...

I agree that Norman O. Brown was wrong, but what must be acknowledged is that he was a very rigorous thinker who gives those of us who disagree with him a lot to think about -- unlike charlatans like Watts and Leary.

Ernest Becker had an interesting critique of Brown. I imagine that you are not a fan of Becker but would be curious as to your take nevertheless.

I also find it interesting that you went to film school, and would love a top 10 "Gagdad Bob's favorite films" list!

A wonderful post as always.

Gagdad Bob said...

Ernest Becker's Denial of Death is a wonderful book for what it is. But what it is is a form of existentialism, which is a priori error. It was also written prior to the "object relations" revolution in psychoanalysis, so his analytic thinking is also very old-fashioned and outmoded as well.

I can only say that no one reads Brown anymore, certainly no clinician, since his ideas are worthless in that arena. To the extent that anyone takes his ideas seriously, I am guessing that that would be restricted to neo-Marxist academics who only imagine they understand psychoanalysis but never actually do.

There was a whole movement in the 1960s that tried to combine psychoanalysis with various leftist liberation movements--Marcuse, Fromm, Brown and others. This doctrine of unrepressed self-expression then became a pillar of the new age movement, which is why it is so shallow and narcissistic to the core.

Bubba Wertheit said...

You could only stay away from us for one day! Thanks. Your comments just seem to get better and better - or my understanding is growing. Maybe both.

There are those who, perhaps, were at least made aware of the possible existense of the 'vertical dimension' by the same route Leary and Watts took - whatever their subsequent actions; some negative, others not.

Do you find Watts' restatements of the Tao 'The Watercourse Way' or Vedanta 'The Book' to be a continuation of rogue-ish ways or a realization of timeless truths?

Karl Vicent said...

Dear friends of One Cosmos,
I realize that I am an alien in your midsts. In fact I find Bob and the contributors to offer a sincere commitment to your views and express them with intellectual integrity. Cousin Dupree, you should lighten up and either dismiss me with civility or express yourself through standards that rise to the level of this blog and its contributors. Now here is a poem for Bob and the rest of you:
(btw, you can read about me at
A babe is born by whose behest?
It suckles at its mother's breast,
Eventually matures to man
and starts the process once again.
He's bound to ask, 'by whose decree
upon this Earth I've come to be?
Am I but one link in a chain of worlds with nothing to attain?'
Some say that it's by God's decree upon this Earth we've come to be,
So he may judge for those who rate
An entry through yon 'pearly gate'.
But then I ask if there is mold
And mildew on the baker's fold
The fault should fall upon whose stead?
That of the Baker, or the Bread?

And here's a second one for you guys and gals,

Time and space are relatives,
says Albert E., but worse
The product of their incest
is our bloddy universe.
Karl Vincent

hoarhey said...

Stick around Karl. Perhaps you'll find an avenue to rise above your victimhood to find God rather than blame God.
The majority here have.

Hoarhey said...

And don't be dis'n on the Cuz.

Gagdad Bob said...


Yes, don't let my comments about Watts detract from the fact that he was a wonderful entertainer who, although a self-admitted fraud, inspired many more genuine seekers to go after the real thing. The spirit chooses strange vehicles to get the message out. I was discussng this with someone just yesterday. At the end, Watts was consuming a quart of vodka a day, ironic, because alcoholism is almost always a spiritual disease that can only be "cured" or treated by submission to a higher spiritual power. A charming rogue nonetheless.

Cousin Dupree said...


Not to be obnoxious about it, but the fact of the matter is that your atheism is nothing more and nothing less than a frank and honest confession of ignorance of any planes of reality transcending the senses. I seriously doubt that anyone who enjoys Bob's blog is the least bit interested in regressing to to such a pre-post-postmodern way of knowing the world. Thus, it is possible that you are boldly courting mockery, even though I, Cousin Dupree, promise to refrain from such low and vital amusement myself.

Anonymous said...

Karl said, regarding cosmic responsibility:

"The fault should fall upon whose stead?
That of the Baker, or the Bread?"

I say responsibility falls upon both. In another analogy: God has set up the playing field. It is up to each person to play their best game.

weerdoh said...

Cousin Dupree said, in response to Karl:

"Not to be obnoxious about it, but the fact of the matter is that your atheism is nothing more and nothing less than a frank and honest confession of ignorance of any planes of reality transcending the senses."

This is correct, in that religiosity is a function of a God-sensing organ (some tangle of ganglia that is evolving the same way that primitive eye-spots evolved on paramecium) that is not found in all persons.

In persons without it (let's call them God-spot negatives) atheism is the acme of sensibility. Any other position would be phony. Yes, an atheist must make a frank and honest confession of "ignorance"-by the caprice of the genetic dice he can't detect God because he is not biologically equipped to do so.

The take home point is that you can't "get" God with morality, intellect, or any such avenue. You MUST sense It directly with your organ of perception, buried in the brain or mind somewhere. Some can, some can't. To ascribe moral values for this irregularity of evolution is absurd.

Nobody "transcends" the senses. The best God-touchers simply make good use of the extra sense that they are equipped with.

Phil said...


Thanks for the illuminating post.

I have almost the entire Watts library. It's funny to think back about how much they affected me (college ~10 years ago) and how much I thought I was getting out of them.

One thing I've learned from you, Bob, is that we have a spiritual drive regardless of our formal religious identification. Perhaps my drive was channeled into the more familiar horizontal dimension (and finding all of its dead ends) before venturing first steps in the vertical.

Of course there's there's something to be said for being charming- I really enjoyed Stuart Wilde as well.

Again, thanks for your all your writings. And, I second the top ten film list!


Karl Vincent said...

To Weerdoh, et alia
Your analysis of my "defect" makes perfect sense, although it would imply that I have no soul. Is that what you are saying?
Karl Vincent

nb said...

Interesting take on Becker and Watts. Have you written about Ken Wilber? Would also be curious about what you think of him.

cousin dupree said...


No. It would only imply that you are not identified with your soul, but rather with your frontal personality, or what some people call your ego. For to be in touch with the soul is to be in touch with God. Unless you believe that the soul arises from dirt, which is metaphysically preposterous, being that the infinitely valuable cannot arise from the infinitely worthless.

cousin dupree said...

Or perhaps you should define how you are using the term "soul" for we are undoubtedly referring to very different realities by it.

By the way, there are some people who do not possess a human soul, such as Stalin.

jwm said...

Karl wrote:
But then I ask if there is mold
And mildew on the baker's fold
The fault should fall upon whose stead?
That of the Baker, or the Bread?

Fault (blame) is immaterial. The mold and mildew exist. All loaves have them. Imperfection exists in everyone. That's life in a fallen world. Along with ants, flies, roaches, mosquitoes, germs, viruses, and all sorts of other stuff. Somehow, it's all a part of the grand scheme of things. Can I give a satisfactory reason for it? No. Hell, I can't give you a satisfsctory reason for half the hoses under the hood of my car. I just take it on faith that they all do something important.


Petey said...

As it so happens, in this necessarily relative world (relative on pain of not existing), the Sovereign Good manifests as qualities, and therefore, the possibility of perfection. Or so we have heard from the wise.

Van said...

Karl Vincent said...
"The fault should fall upon whose stead?
That of the Baker, or the Bread?"
This makes an analogy that serves to point to the perspective you are lacking. Anonymous suggested a sports analogy I'll get to in a moment, that may be far better, but weerdoh said that your missing the view were somehow due to a physical defect, which I don't buy at all. If you're conscious, and not massively retarded, you have all the physical equipment you need to perceive the Soul, what is lacking is an intent to find it and it's origen, to strain to see what is in the distance. The only telescope available is what you develop through the lens of your focused thoughts and actions .

If you don't make an effort to see the distant lands, then you won't see them.

The Sports analogy that I think is better than your culinary example, is that you have a game such as baseball, Abner Doubleday designs the game, the purpose being to pitch the ball so that the batter has difficulty in hitting it, and when successful, he runs around the basses without being tagged or his ball being caught. Those who either hit a homerun, or are driven in by the hit of another, score.

Now with the game in place and the rules laid out, is it the game designer who is at fault when the batter hits a foul ball, or even a series of them and fouls out? Or more directly, if the pitcher purposefully strikes the batter with the ball? or if the batter purposefully runs into a basemen and breaks his leg, is it the fault of the games designer? or if there is a bench clearing fight with both teams brawling in the infield, is it the fault of the players or the coaches or again of DoubleDei's?

Even the best player may, through a momentary lack of focus, or distraction, strike out, foul out, strike the batter, lose their temper and cuss out the Ump, but these faults are not the fault of the Deisigner, but of the players, and the good ones know it, and do their to keep their mind on the game, they do their best to improve their performance and that of their team.

And somewhere 'ol DoubleDei is in the box seats enjoying the game.

P.S. I put a comment up on the end of yesterdays post relating to this - Gagdad faked me out about not posting daily... can't keep the thoughts away from your keys, can you? ;-)

Gagdad Bob said...

Or you might say that baseball as such is the perfect game, even though such and such a baseball game may not be perfect.

Karl Vincent said...

to JWM,
Adam and Eve were originally not in a fallen world. Makes me want to go Hmmmm?
To Cousin Dupree,
Stalin had no soul? Think about this. Without Pontius Pilate's critical decision, there would have been no Redemption. How can you presume to identify a souless human being. Is that more of Weerdo's gentic defect theory?
Karl Vincent

cousin dupree said...


If we told you, you would neither believe nor understand. This we know a priori by virtue of your atheistic metaphysic.

Karl Vincent said...

To Van,
Your sports analogy of "DoubleDEi" watching the game with an interest in the outcome, essentially denies your DoubleDei the faculty of omniscience, an ommision which certainly contradicts the Old Testament. Of course, that does not invalidate your argument, but it does create an anomoly in Judeo-Christian scripture. I think cosmological debate does not lend itself to analogies of sporting events. You make your doubledei so anthropomorphic that I suspect you couldn't possibly take your own analogy seriously. You are sincere,I'm sure, in your embrace of God's revelation to you. But you cannot know his mind, or his purpose... only what you believe he's revealed.

Karl Vincent

Petey said...

Foolishness! The Omniscient One permits many things he does not will, but never vice versa.

Eeevil Right Wing Nut said...

Karl --

“But then I ask if there is mold
And mildew on the baker's fold
The fault should fall upon whose stead?
That of the Baker, or the Bread?”

That all depends of if the Baker made the Bread with the ability and knowledge to keep it from becoming moldy and mildewed. If the Bread does not know it is moldy or how to keep from being moldy nor has the ability to prevent mold growth, then the fault is the Baker’s. If the Bread knows it can get moldy and how to and can prevent that mold, then it is the Bread’s fault if it chooses not to.

Eeevil Right Wing Nut said...

Cousin D --

Stalin had a soul alright; it was vile, disgusting thing sort of like the stuff living their entire lives in the dark and feeding on decay under a rotting log. It serves a purpose but we may not always be able to figure out what that purpose is right away.

Eeevil Right Wing Nut said...

Weerdoh --

“This is correct, in that religiosity is a function of a God-sensing organ (some tangle of ganglia that is evolving the same way that primitive eye-spots evolved on paramecium) that is not found in all persons.”

I would have to strongly disagree with the last part of this statement. We all have the God-sensing organ but it is like looking through a clear pane of glass. If ones concentration is focused solely on the world outside the glass, one will never notice the glass. You must step back and “refocus” your eyes to see the glass. Indeed one must want to see the glass otherwise one can remain intentionally blind to what is front of one’s nose.

Connecticut Yankee said...


If baseball is the perfect game, how do you account for the AL and the abomination of the DH?

Joe said...

If I may ask a question of Karl Vincent.

Karl, If for a moment you put aside all that you know about god and religion -yet keeping your curiosity- what then do you seek?

Gagdad Bob said...


You are touching on elements of theodicy, or perhaps theidiocy, that are very tricky--that is, reconciling God's goodness with the existence of the DH. Let us just say that since God is both absolute necessity and infinite possibilty, he is the source of all that can be, which includes the absurd possibility of the DH, even though the DH is not God's will. In other words, the DH results--not as necessity but as possibilty--from the structure of creation as such, and it is important to know that God detests and weeps over the DH every day--i.e., he "suffers" the American League along with the rest of us.

karl vincent said...

Answers that touch my sense of being in a way I can feel at one with the reality I perceive. And fulfillment in life, of course, which I have achieved better than most judging by those who surround me. I do not disparage your beliefs, Joe. They just don't work for me.

Michael said...

I wish this series of essays could be read by more people. Actually, I wish it would be. The odds seem against that.

It's some of the best work you've done in my opinion.

It might be time for people who would read it to head for the 21st c. version of a 6th c. monastery. A few then saved the world by saving and developing what was worth saving and developing - while the outside world fell under barbarian invasion.

It took some centuries, but the monasteries eventually civilized the barbarians.

That may be our hope for these days.

I don't know. I think we need a major turnaround, and soon, to avoid something like that.

Van said...

Karl said...

"I think cosmological debate does not lend itself to analogies of sporting events."

What can I say, 'Tis the season for sports analogies.

"watching the game with an interest in the outcome, essentially denies your DoubleDei the faculty of omniscience, an ommision which certainly contradicts the Old Testament."

You tempt me to quip that I can't tell you how many times I've watched the "Star Wars" & "Harry Potter" movies with my kids, or re-read Plato, Aristotle & Cicero - knowing perfectly well how they'd come out & what they'd say next - and yet thoroughly enjoyed them each time, and gleaned more from them than I'd found previously.

"You are sincere,I'm sure, in your embrace of God's revelation to you. But you cannot know his mind, or his purpose... only what you believe he's revealed."

I posted on this at my site a short while ago - you might find it not too different from your sense of the matter.

If there is a God, I don't pretend to tell him what he can and can't do, or declare this or that book to have been the final word on the matter, I only seek to find Truth and revel in it.

And occasionally smack down fraud and falsehood. Troll Abatement, don't you know.

Van said...

[original deleted for wacky spelling revelations]

By the way Karl, did you ever re-read one of your own books? Did you find any of your characters taking surprising twists as you were writing them?

The thing about analogies is they're only analogies, not the thing in itself.

It helps to remember that.

knockwurst said...

It's ridiculous to blame school shootings on liberal social policies. There are children being blown up in far greater numbers in other countries by religious zealots who live by a very strict moral code.

PSGInfinity said...

" is important to know that God detests and weeps over the DH every day..."

(Wipes tears from eyes)

Angels, dance slippers, ferric sewing implement, some assembly required...

Eeevil Right Wing Nut said...


Where is the ‘morality’ in a moral code that tells it’s children it is a good thing to blow oneself up and take as many of your enemies with you as possible?

PSGInfinity said...


'Tis true that many more children suffer in third world (scat)holes than die in American screwel shootings, but you're missing the point. The same illiberal force that opposes meaningful self-protection also opposes meaningful corrective action vis-a-vis the turd world. And loosed the fatal spiritual rot afflicting us today, BTW.

Joe said...

Karl, how can you disparage my beliefs when you do not know them?

In your answer to my question - when you say that you (would) seek: "Answers that touch my sense of being in a way I can feel at one with the reality I perceive" ... Do you realise that for any answer to meet such restrictive criteria ("in a way I feel at one with") it will have to be rated as *of an acceptable feel* to you before it gets the time of day. Such a rule assumes freedom of thought while simultaneously killing off anything that *feels wrong*. You have created a rule for yourself the internal logic of which rules out all answers that offer any challenge to your state of mind.

Its a bad rule.

Are you sure that's your intention?