Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cynicism, Sincerity, and Illusions of Reality

A cynical man is never a sophisticated man and therefore can know nothing of the divine plane. Or, to be perfectly accurate, a cynical man is always a sophisticated man in the original sense of the term, for somehow the meaning of this word has been turned upside down. It is related to such pejoratives as "sophism," "sophist, and "sophistry," which involve the fallacious use of reason for deceitful ends. According to Webster's, "sophisticated" connotes such things as not being in a natural, pure, or original state; adulterated; deprived of genuineness or native or original simplicity; and worldly-wise.

Likewise, "sophistication" has to do with the use of sophistry; making impure or weak; and lastly, the process of becoming cultured, knowledgeable, or disillusioned. One reason sophisticated people cannot know God is that they have become disillusioned, precisely. Illusion in its healthy and functional sense is what makes us human, and a person we call "disillusioned" is usually a sadly disappointed person -- someone whose childhood illusions -- which are so vital to one's psychological health later on -- were not supported by an empathic environment.

For example, my primary task as a parent at this early developmental stage is not to disillusion my child -- which would be an unimaginable cruelty -- but to nourish and prolong his illusions, for it is only in the space of his illusions -- what the brilliant psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott called the "transitional space" -- that such quintessentially human things such as love, hope, trust, creativity, and imagination will come into being. The transitional space is also the space where religion takes place, so to prematurely foreclose it -- to disillusion your child -- is to create a machine or monster or at the very least a world-weary sophisticate who will get a perverse kick out of doing the same thing to others, i.e., "disillusioning" them.

A disillusioned (and therefore disillusioning) mind parasite is often the unconscious motivation behind the militant, obligatiory atheist. (I call an "obligatory" atheist someone who does not know God because they cannot know God.) It is also the motivation behind much contemporary art, which aims at "authenticity" as a poor substitute for transcendence. A bestial "naturalism" or "realism" are all that is left to the artistically inclined person who has lost all contact with the sufficient reason for art's existence, which is to render the transcendent present to our sensibilities. Thus, properly speaking, there is nothing ontologically real about "realism," which is always sub-realism from the human point of view, hardly distinguishable from frank pornography -- which is ironically called "adult entertainment" when its appeal (to the extent that it becomes a substitute reality) lies specifically in a failure to achieve adult psychosexual maturity.

Thus, to pick a name at random, one may think that, say, Bill Maher, is a highly "sophisticated" man, when in fact he is obviously quite sophisticated. Cynical, worldly-wise, disillusioned, etc. He may or may not be "intelligent" in the narrow and morally and developmentally neutral sense of the term, but I can assure you that if you were to be cornered into a conversation with him, you would immediately become uncomfortably aware of the "narrowness" of his soul horizons -- or shall we say the "thinness" of his being. For depth of being is not only the measure of soul, but soul is the very measure of depth in the Cosmos.

Or put it this way: there is nothing intrinsically deep in the world, there are only deep souls who make it so. Animals do not experience cosmic depth, only surfaces. And quite obviously, "depth" is a thing entirely apart from mere intelligence. The presence of depth is one of the first clues of the awakened mind as it journeys back to God, who is obviously the ultimate source of the depth. There can be no depth without God, if for no other reason that there can be no interior without God, "the interior of interiority," so to speak.

Let's take William Shakespeare and, say, Steven Pinker or Noam Chomsky. Here are two statements that are equally accurate: "William Shakespeare was an expert in language," and "Noam Chomsky is an expert in language." Obviously this is an absurd comparison, because next to Shakespeare, Chomsky is a frivolous ass and a silly retard -- full of sound and fury but signifying tenure.

Here is the difference, my fellow Coons: what Chomsky knows -- or thinks he knows -- of language may be explicitly specified. He can write it down and put it in one of the sophisticated books he writes for his sophisticated audiences -- and which are used to abuse and poison children for the rest of their lives by making them disillusioned and sophisticated, just like he is -- which is the whole point of the tedious exercise. (Yes, I realize that he used to write "scientific" books, but I believe his simplistic approach to language fosters his paranoid approach to politics.)

No writer is more popular than Chomsky on the campuses of liberal academia, which is a tragic statement if you consider the purpose of education to be the perfection of the soul. This type of perverse education is soul-killing, and once the mind is infected with it, it may never recover. We can see it in the morbid, death-infused writing of the two bloggers who were hired by the transparently sophisticated shyster lawyer, John Edwards. (Speaking of whom, the reason why an uncorrupted soul experiences such palpable toxicity upon hearing a John Edwards or Hillary Clinton speak is due to their utter lack of sincerity and innocence, more on which below.)

Unlike Chomsky, the protean Shakespeare could never, ever, pen a treatise in which he explicitly articulated the nature and extent of his unfathomable linguistic expertise. In fact, if he could do so, he would not be Shakespeare, for it would mean that his depthless creativity could be limited and contained by some mechanical set of rules. Rather, his expertise was simply "lived" but could never be specified. It was literally inexhaustible, in the same sense that the perfect circle will always elude the explicit equation of pi, no matter how many billions of decimal places it is extended.

Nor, for that matter, will there ever be a "Theory of Everything" which the cosmologists quixotically seek -- at least not in any mathematical form. There is already an adequate theory of everything -- in the sense of being adequate to the Real -- but it is embodied in the symbology of religious metaphysics, not in any mathematical equation. No scientific finding can ever undermine primordial Truth, to say the least. DNA does not contain the secret of life, but life contains the secret of DNA.

It is the same with music. No amount of learning the rules of musical composition could ever contain or be superior to Bach's non-explicit mastery of music. A work of art is not beautiful because it is artistic but artistic because it is beautiful. Otherwise, how would we know it is beautiful?

The scientific rationalist believes that something is true because it is logical, but it is the reverse: something is logical because it is true. Naturally, what is true of one transcendental is true of the other two: for example, something is not virtuous merely because it is legal. This is another one of the fallacies at the heart of contemporary -- which is to say, sophisticated -- liberalism, in that it reduces morality to legality and in so doing strips man of his moral soul.

What is virtuous for the uncorrupted soul can no more be specified in manmade law than the rules for beautiful art can be specified by a pointy-headed academic. But this is what the left always does -- displacing the reality of the soul with coercive rules and laws. In so doing, its cure for mankind eventually kills the patient -- political correctness, "tolerance," moral and cultural relativism -- these are all death to the intellect and to the soul.

One is reminded of the boneheaded Sandra Day O'Connor, who wrote that affirmative action would be necessary so long as racism existed, when the opposite is true: racism will exist so long as affirmative action exists, for racism is not against the law, it is against the soul, and since liberalism is ipso facto against the soul, it cannot help but foster a climate of racism -- just as feminist ideology has hardly increased harmony and understanding between the sexes but caused great damage to proper coonjugal relations. Few things are more pathetic than a cluelessly sophisticated feminist such as Maureen Dowd, whom a proper man wouldn't touch with a barge pole {shudder}.

Now, quite obviously, God cannot be reduced to man's categories, so the whole idea of an "academic theology" is absurd. A true theologian -- and this sense of the term is preserved by both Orthodox Christianity and by Vedanta -- is not someone who "knows" God but who does God, whether in word or deed. One could no more explicitly specify the theology of a Schuon, or a von Balthasar, or an Eckhart than one could specify with explicit rules the music of Beethoven.

In the case of Beethoven, or even a Thelonious Monk, the music always transcends the rules, and the same is true of the great theologian. Naturally this does not mean that dogma is unnecessary -- any more than Beethoven could do without a piano or the rules of music. But pianos are for playing, not for "figuring out." A piano tuner with perfect pitch is not an artist, any more than Noam Chomsky -- whose vulgar manner of expression is always so coarse and ugly -- is a language expert.

One thing the modern sophisticate never wishes anyone to believe of him is that he is naive. This is the horror of horrors, much worse than merely being wrong. He never wants the wool pulled over his eyes, so to speak. He is happy to be wrong so long as he is not naive -- which, of course, is a form of pride, which always excludes knowledge of God. The proudly cynical and disillusioned man won't be taken in, especially by religion. His cynicism will make certain of that. Thus, he thinks that he is a tough-minded cynic because he knows God does not exist, when God does not exist for him because of his pathetic cynicism.

The opposite of cynicism is sincerity. A cynic is never actually sincere. Rather, his bluntness is just a caricature of sincerity -- again, a Bill Maher comes to mind. Sincerity, as Schuon has written, is "the fundamental quality of goodness." Leftists especially hated Ronald Reagan, not just because of his beliefs but because of his obvious sincerity. In fact, they hate President Bush for the same reason.

It is fascinating to me that the vast majority of leftists who criticize President Bush on the grounds of his so-called lack of intelligence are not nearly as intelligent as he is -- yes, especially you two longtime middle-brow trolls. Don't think I don't see you. As noted in a recent American Thinker piece, "George W. Bush's SAT score of 1206 has been widely reported. The SAT score (if taken prior to 1995) can be used to estimate IQ, to compare to the general population, and to compare to occupational averages and popular figures in history. Using such estimates, President Bush's IQ is between 125 and 130 which ranks him as more intelligent than over 95% of the population, more intelligent than most college professors and medical doctors, and similar to Abraham Lincoln, Rousseau and Thackeray (comparative IQs of 128)."

Yes Coons, it is his sincerity they hate. But if you are in revolt against God, how could you not hate sincerity? You must become disillusioned, so that you too can become as sophisticated as Noam Chomsky, or John Edwards, or Bill Clinton, or Bill Maher.

The horror.


Speaking of the soul-corrupted Edwards bloggers, Iowahawk has gotten ahold of one of their resumes:


"Seeking challenging, fast-paced thought leadership position in major Western industrial phallocracy. I have experience in a number of positions, including chapters 1-6 of the Kama Sutra, and an established record of speaking angry truth to theocratic power through edgy PostModern Riot Grrrrl punk feminism, which I am happy to disavow at your request....


"A2/01/2007-2/13/2007: Blog Master, Edwards For President, Raleigh NC. Managed campaign website for top Democratic presidential candidate. Crafted strategic economic and military position papers, spearheaded outreach programs to progressive online community, led cross-functional archive-erasing teams, coordinated crisis management program, achieved follow-through on apology plan, renegotiated labor contracts, spell-checked resignation letter, successfully avoided pregnancy. Reason for leaving: international theocratic christofascist conspiracy."


GLASR said...

Well, uh, um, ah, maybe with YOUR barge pole or Ben's, maybe Van's, perhaps psginfinity's that.

Trying to remember this print that a shop owner(in foreclosure) gave to me. I put it in a frame and gave it to my sister to put in the children's play room(mine long since turned into a bar) - it was JESUS, standing by a very tall stone wall, there was a wooden door, the only hardware visible on HIS side were the hinges. Think that's it, gonna give her a call later, see if I got it right. Way more to the story, save it for some other time.

AMERICA and AMERICANS go VERTICAL this afternoon. Around 14:30hrs EST in DAYTONA BEACH FLA USA! Globalization a factor, the Japanese have "cars" in the fray! That whole jet fuel thing not very nice - eh, what the hey!;~)

juliec said...

Glasr, you never cease to bemuse me ; )

Speaking about art and sophistication (truly a dirty wod! I always suspected...), when I was in college working toward my art degree we were required to take not just art history but art theory, in which we were shown works of art and subjected to the thought processes of the people who created them. Since talking about the thought process of creating art is a relatively recent phenomena, we were only exposed to artists from the late 1800s onward, when the various modern and deconstructionist schools became popular. Thus it was necessary to have a class discussion about what art is. The answer? Anything created by a human (or occasionally an animal) and called art by that or any other person (especially if signed). Hence we had a perfectly ordinary manufactured toilet. Somebody put a signature on it, and it was immediately whisked into a museum for the world to marvel at.
"It's good because it challenges what people think of as art."

I mostly slept through that class.

In reference to yesterdays post where you mentioned forcing Mrs. G. to eat omega threes, I ran across this gem in a news article this morning:

"The researchers said limiting pregnant women's weekly intake to 12 ounces (340 grams) of fish and seafood, as advised by the U.S. government, did not protect their children from developmental problems. Women who avoid seafood, they said, may actually be harming their babies by depriving them of essential nutrients needed for the developing fetal brain.
"When you look at the net benefits of the nutrients in seafood and the net risks in seafood, it appears that the advisory inadvertently causes the harm that it was intended to prevent," Hibbeln said."

It sounds like you had the right idea, Bob.

I see the road to hell is beginning to look more like a six-lane superhighway, heading in only one direction.

juliec said...

doh! dirty word

Joan of Argghh! said...


Chilly, breezy, clearing skies here in north Florida. Nice day for a cold Daytona 500 track, cool running cars, and chilled beer. Sit back and be glad you don't have to travel anywhere within 100 miles of Daytona today. Unfortunately, that would include the tens of thousands of cars heading south on I-95 and I-4 for the three-day weekend.

Me? I'm far too sophisticated to care about NASCAR. But just damn! if those boys aren't nuts to be out there mixing it up at 180+ mph. The brisk air'll make 'em frisky, should be a good show for the accident-mongers.

Okay, what kind of Turing Word is:
bhnabadi? Help!

debass said...

You are correct about music. In college music theory, they teach the rules before the music when in reality it's the music then the rules. What the students and professors seem to miss in that the rules are there so that you can write in a specific style, ie; in the style of Bach, Mozart, etc. But, it's is not going to sound like them. They were improvisors like Monk or Coltrane(my favorite you have probably guessed by now). They only wrote it down after they played it. It flows from God through their bodies, through their instrument.
So, what happens in school is that many students are afraid to write anything without the rules, instead of just writing from their soul.

mako said...


I agree with what you are saying about "sophistication" as a sign of separation from God.

But, I notice in this post and others that you refer to the destruction or corruption of the soul in the "dissillusioned," and this struck me as needing clarification.

I understand all souls to be indestructible and eternally pure (even Bill Maher's), for if not, what happens to souls that are destroyed? Are they reincorporated into the soul-mass of God?
In the cosmos, the body of God, nothing can leave as there is nothing outside of it. True annhilation is not an option. So that's the problem I had with your assertion.

The working theory I had to account for life-error (separation from God) is that it occurs only in the mind/ego/subconscious/body and that these elements are discarded at the end of life and recycled.

The Soul itself then assimilates the lessons of the life just completed (especially what went wrong) and tries again.

I think you have been somewhat lax about defining the soul and its relation to God and other elements of the being, which serves to hyperbolize your arguments against your percieved enemies and makes your thinking look fuzzy.

Gagdad Bob said...

Thank you, your fuzziness, for sowing confusion about the elementary distinction between soul and spirit. I'll call you if I need you to shed more obscurity on the subject.

Petey said...

To imagine you cannot damage your soul is as foolish as believing you cannot damage your body just because your body is ultimately "one with God." Please. You sound like you are missing the point of life.

uss ben said...

Thanks for the uh, compliment, but I never heard it referred to as a barge pole before.

uss ben said...

You are one barge pole short and drifting in the ridiculous.

WV: erqrh

will said...

>>Illusion in its healthy and functional sense is what makes us human<<

A small quibble re the word "illusion" - I tend to think of a child's "illusions", eg., feelings of expansive well-being and safety, of magic and wonder, even of, say, a belief in Santa Claus as being essentially an apprehension of the Real, albeit it is an apprehension, a remembrance, perhaps, of a pure Real uncorrupted by materiality.

Of course, this apprehension eventually meets head-on with the real world of illusion, ie., the material world, the world of maya. The task then is to individualize and integrate one's apprehension of the Real so that it is not overwhelmed by the world of illusion/materiality - and in this sense, to be "dis-illusioned" is a spiritual necessity.

uss ben said...

"But this is what the left always does -- displacing the reality of the soul with coercive rules and laws. In so doing, its cure for mankind eventually kills the patient -- political correctness, "tolerance," moral and cultural relativism -- these are all death to the intellect and to the soul."

Bullseye Bob!
The Left pretends to be for freedom and creativity, unless it 'breaks' their coercive rules and laws.

Ironically, the Left never see's the irony in their blind vision of utopia and how they contradict everything they say they stand for.

End racism? The Left promotes it.
Free Speech? Only if it's politically correct.
Art? Only if it offends or distorts.
'Hate' speech? Only if talking about Christians, conservatives, the 'wealthy' or Jews.

Well, no need to beat a dead donkey.

uss ben said...

Dis-illusion of the vertical is bad.

Dis-illusion of the horizontal is good.

And vice-versa.

Coon Digest, the paraphrased edition, vol.2, issue over 40 something.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, to make it clear, I am using "illusion" in an ironic and paradoxical sense, which is the way Winnicott intended it. His paradoxical point was that reality must be rooted in illusion, so to speak -- the "illusion" that the universe is benign and trustworthy. For if you don't start off life with that illusion, you'll never get past your own bitterness and paranoia.

goy said...

"So, what happens in school is that many students are afraid to write anything without the rules, instead of just writing from their soul."

Oh So True. Decades ago during my first career, which was as lead singer/bassist for an L.A. dance band, my brother and I were the only two 'seat-of-the-pants' musicians. We were also the only two to ever bring any original music into the group for a long time.

Going through one of these originals for the very first time, I was calling out the chord changes based on the bass notes I was playing. This incited a 45 minute argument with the drummer (an accomplished, classically trained percussionist who was fluent in all of the many instruments in that group). He maintained, rather emphatically, that one couldn't go from the 'Farnsworth' key to the 'Dallywagon' key. It wasn't allowed by musical theory. Turned out one of my bass notes was not the actual root of the 'Dallywagon' chord, and when they finally figured that out, all was well.

The discussion lasted as long as it did because we were speaking two different languages. He, in theory, I, in inspiration. The two seem to rarely meet, but when they do you get Bach, Coltrane, Isham, etc.

Gagdad Bob said...

IN exasperation, trying to get the right feel, MIles Davis once told one of his sidemen -- I forget who, but it might have been John McLaughlin -- to "play like you don't know how to play."

bubba said...

There is a tale, told of Beethoven appropriate to today’s posting. An aside – Is it just me or does it seem Bob’s Sunday postings surpass the normally brilliant weekday musings?

Back to Ludwig. In the salons of the time, musicians often vied for the attentions (and funds) of those influential in musical circles (duh) and rivalries ensued. He once sat at a piano recently vacated by one of his rivals, took the sheet music from which he had just played his ‘magnum opus,’ turned it upside down and using the ending few notes (inversely, of course) constructed a theme from which he proceeded to improvise for close to an hour. We don’t hear much about the other guy anymore.

Juliec – I prefer wod! It’s more cartoonish. Art school was torture for me. My triumph there was translating a portion of one of my professors’ works into English for extra credit – Die Vorgeschichte der Abstakten Kunst. My studio work was often the object of ridicule and I had another famous teacher who had graduate assistants slave with the other students while he worked on his own stuff. He looked at my work a total of once and asked if I was one of his students. Your toilet signer was close to a plagiarist:

bubba said...

Ooops, that's 'AbstRakten.'

GLASR said...

Me neither, till this AM's reading. Nice one Bob. Nice work with the WoVeri Master Chief ;~()!

And well you should have, slept through THAT class(?). Hope you got four credits for your troub .. uh, um, ah, coonzternationzzzzzzzz. Wish ya said amuse, that's ok, I'll, well, uh, um, ah, for you? Anything.;~)

Joan!?!? You're a computer?!?! It's disambiguation, reverse Turing, alternation, iteration, waterfall, cascade, wtf?. You been bad, lately? I suspect that the cool temps may help with gas mileage(for algore), tire wear and driver fatigue - could be a keerash free day. Kinda doubt it though. Try to make Dover, one of the two. AMTRAK has a nice deal. Get real close on a spur, then buses - race over, buses to the train out first, north bound on south bound 95, thank you Delaware State Police. Been to a couple of other tracks, nothing like being there. ;~)!

Van said...

Glasr - Hands off my barge pole!

Gagdad Bob said...


I guess the way I am using the term "illusion" parallels the divine vs. satanic uses of imagination. As Ben implies, the disillusioned person is often simply in thrall to the horizontal, exchanging one illusion for another.

Van said...

Gagdad Bob said "... paradoxical point was that reality must be rooted in illusion, so to speak -- the "illusion" that the universe is benign and trustworthy. For if you don't start off life with that illusion, you'll never get past your own bitterness and paranoia. ..."

Will said "...The task then is to individualize and integrate one's apprehension of the Real so that it is not overwhelmed by the world of illusion/materiality ..."

I remember in my not so long ago perspective, that it really use to gall me when, as an invocation to a speech, or event, or sermon (!doh!), the speaker - often a cleric, would say something like "...and dear God to Thee, the wise, good, true, righteous, compassionate, pure, gracious God, we render thanks and ask that you graciously afford us protection and care, and we earnestly beseech Thee evermore..." and so on.

And during this I was always thinking "ok, well at least he isn't rattling thigh bones and sprinkling pixie dust". It's only slowly dawned on me that what he is doing is erecting a scaffold of illusion, laying out a foundation in God, and a soaring structure (triangular pops into my mind, but I'm not seeing an obvious reason for that other than it well represents hierarchy) of Wisdom, Goodness, Truth and our interactive uses of them with Righteousness, Compassion, etc.

It seems to me that with that scaffold of illusion solidly in place, the speaker and the audience have a footing, a frame of reference for placing what is coming into proper place and perspective. Throughout the coming speech or activity, all involved - if they have been properly illusioned, will be 'erecting' their words and actions in line with that scaffolding, and at some point the new erec...(Glasr! Stop it!) structure will stand on its own. At that point the scaffold can be cast off, but having guided the building of the structure, it will remain in spirit and be inherent within it.

In that sense, disillusioning would be harmful, even destructive, in that the following activity, structure, whatever, would be deprived of its direction, blueprint, and touch points for integrating into the audiences minds. Of course this also requires an interactive participation in the illusioning on the part of not only the speaker, but the audience, to consent to acknowledging the building of the illusory scaffolding, that it is there, and that they must participate in the integrity of matching what follows, with it.

The lack of not only the invocations in our public activities, but the peoples expectations of, and willingness to participate in practical illusion, has produced effects which I think we can all see - 'Disillusionment' is exactly what has been happening to us in everything from football games to debates and education.

Van said...

Goy said "...It wasn't allowed by musical theory. Turned out one of my bass notes was not the actual root of the 'Dallywagon' chord, and when they finally figured that out, all was well..."

Oh man! Can I ever relate to that situation! You'd get all worked up screaming "Is the Sound there to serve the Key or the key there to serve the Sound!?"

(hmm "The sabbath is there to serve Man, not Man the sabbath" seems to come to mind [not quote checked])

(Just how many of us ex(?)-bassists are there out there?)

Van said...

Juliec & Bubba, I was thinking "woid" would fit well, evoking the sacred Three Stooges comedic pronunciation Key, circa 1930 to 1950's era tonal structure.

Gagdad Bob said...


That is an excellent point -- a religion is a structure or scaffolding with which to facilitate religious thought and action, so to speak, just as musical theory is merely a structure for music to come down or through.

ximeze said...

About Sophisticates and their "norrowness of soul horizons & thinness of being".

What usually strikes me first is a sense of overall HEAVY-ness, their weighty ponderousness (what in the Spanish-speaking world is to describe someone as "pesado") - a lack of nimbleness.

They may be glib & witty, but somehow too facile, studied or heavyhanded. It's like they're trying too hard. Can't imagine them having fun with serendipitous WordVeri games or sharing Alan's "how do sex & elephants go together" comment of two days ago.

And there's an underlying cruelty about them too, of which they don't seem to be aware: as it's all in good fun. Yuk!

Case in point: was watching "What Not To Wear": hosts=urban sophisticates of the MetroSexual kind, target=poor slob who needs their help. Played video of target pre-transformation, with target's friends & family present, while they have a hoot at target's expense: all in good fun.

Hosts to for jugular: Ha Ha, target laughs nerviously on & on. In the background (friends & family) is a woman with a horrified expression on her face.
We only got to see her twice, in all later takes "woman with a clue" is hidden behind other people. They just couldn't show the face of someone who wasn't "with it."

Ditto re visual arts & music. CAN see Bach getting into the WordVeri game, but NOT Chomsky. The latter is too busy making Serious the trivial, while the former is Playing with serious.

goy said...

Dear Leader said: "A disillusioned (and therefore disillusioning) mind parasite is often the unconscious motivation behind the militant, obligatiory atheist."

Like this guy?

Van said: "Oh man! Can I ever relate to that situation!"

Yeah, I think I mentioned before that your profile reads like a slightly reordered version of what mine would be. If I had one. ;-)

Anyway, yeah. We actually had a number of those kinds of exchanges. Especially when we went in the studio to do demos. Theory-vs-'feel' squabbles re-ensued, as well as tiffs over musical production 'orthodoxy' vs 'what sounded right'.

Just how many of us ex(?)-bassists are there out there?
Ex??? Hey! I played bass just last night. Admittedly it was in my living room, playing along with two guitarist friends I don't get to see often enough, but I think it qualifies. Sorta. :-)

Dear Leader also said: "...musical theory is merely a structure for music to come down or through."

Here's an epiphany, of sorts, that hit me as I read that (and it's still simmering, so...). Having finally started to learn theory and sight-reading when I began to study 'cello about 4 years ago, the purpose - or I should say utility - of both became clear. But I don't think I would ever have appreciated their value if I hadn't already achieved the self-taught level of musical proficiency needed to experience expressing myself musically 'in-the-raw', so to speak.

There's more to this thought, and it involves an analogy connecting religion-as-framework, musical theory-as-structure and language, i.e., as the framework we're using for what's going between me and the Coonifesto when I (re-)read it or here in the OC, now. But it's still simmering...

Jacob C. said...

Ximeze: CAN see Bach getting into the WordVeri game, but NOT Chomsky. The latter is too busy making Serious the trivial, while the former is Playing with serious.

"'Serious' people are dense and know it. But, they think, if they can be grave enough about Yugoslavia their gravity will make up for the fact that—like most people—they don't know what's going on there, and—like all people—they don't know what to do about it. Seriousness is stupidity sent to college.

"Serious topics also make unimportant people feel as important as what they're discussing...

"Seriousness is also the only practical tone to take when lying... ALL lies are told with a straight face. It's truth that's said with a dismissive giggle.

"Real seriousness is involuntary. If you're held at gunpoint or run over by a bus, you'll be serious about it. If you're a decent person, you'll also have some serious feeling when you see someone else threatened or squashed. In fact, if you're a decent person faced with the world's catastrophes... you'll do the right thing whether you're serious or not.

"Sir Thomas More jested with his head on the block. 'My neck is very short,' he warned the executioner. 'Take heed, therefore, thou strike not awry, for saving of thine honesty.' The Persian king Xerxes was astonished when his scouts told him the Spartans holding the pass at Thermopylae were combing their hair and changing into clean clothes for the battle. Gallantry is the proper tone for those who are worth being taken seriously. With one exception—serious look and serious voice are absolutely necessary when calling the dog."

--P J O'Rourke

Gagdad Bob said...

For you bass players out there, I rented a terrific video the other night on the making of Aja, by Steely Dan. Even if you don't care for the album, the DVD prominently features Chuck Rainey, both speaking and playing, and not only is he clean and articulate, but they isolate some of his lines on the mixing board, and let's just say that his chops scare my chops -- not that I ever really had any to begin with.

What wouldn't I give to be so funky for just one hour?

River Cocytus said...

I don't play bass, I sing it...

But I understand completely. It is even worse some times-- there are people who don't know music theory who are worse off than the other folks-- at least those who know all that music theory can appropriate these things-- some know little to nothing about music, in the horizontal sense, and also know nothing of it in the vertical sense. Reading the lyrics to a lot of the gospel music we sing, it makes me wonder if ANYONE is actually paying attention to them?! But even further, are they paying attention to what the melody does? To what the harmony does? Do they even FEEL it, in the vertical sense? Or are they stuck in both tradition and ignorance? With those blues musicians it was like "You worship what you do not know" (In spirit) For many of the musicians it is like the pharisees (they worship what they know - in truth) but to find one who does both, is a true musician. Bach did.

I think a grounding in theory is utterly important, even though it is a scaffold, an illusion, that is necessary to apprehend and substantiate the bigger thing, Music itself. But, like James Taylor and some others prove, it can break through without it, if only the person will actually open their ears to it.

Van, more on the struggle from a few threads back-- it seems that some of the people in my church have come to worship the bible. By this I mean, the Bible itself to them takes on the qualities of God, and it necessitates them to create horizontal illusions to sustain this idea. I love the physical word deeply, as it is indeed one of the most reliable works in all history, and it contains great truth, and it also contains the revelation of all revelations itself. But the physical book is something that is to lead you upward towards God himself; not that you will defy it (as you guys said it remains in spirit) but that you will rise above its confines.

I am called to teach; but I want to do it correctly and to not improperly disillusion them. I'm afraid that if I tell them how flawed (in the physical sense) the book is, that they will lose faith in God (of all horrors!) I don't want to approach it as a sophisticate trying to win arguments and set myself against them, instead I want to urge them higher that they may DO instead of just BELIEVE. James understood this and so did Paul. Someone had disagreed with James quite a lot earlier, but I think James was saying that real religion (as opposed to religion) is a DOING thing in which the DOING arises from the faith, as opposed to doing things to try to gain salvation (which was freely given) or doing things to have personal gain, or to believe just to gain salvation and not DO.

Anyway, the process of breaking free of the scaffolds always involves a lot of falling stuff and loud noise. Upward and onward!

PS in North Korea, there is a giant hotel they were building but never finished; it is there with complete scaffolds but incomplete building. A spiritual symbol no doubt.

Van said...

I finally tracked down a portion of a poem that today’s talk of the importance of childhood illusions to the adult, brought to mind:

By Matthew Arnold

Weary of myself, and sick of asking
What I am, and what I ought to be,
At this vessel's prow I stand, which bears me
Forwards, forwards o'er the starlit sea.

And a look of passionate desire
O'er the sea and to the stars I send:
``Ye who from my childhood up have calmed me,
Calm me, ah, compose me to the end!

``Ah, once more,'' I cried, ``ye stars, ye waters,
On my heart your mighty charm renew;
Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,
Feel my soul becoming vast like you!''

From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven,
Over the lit sea's unquiet way,
In the rustling night-air came the answer:
``Wouldst thou BE as these are? LIVE as they.

The disillusioned would never face their crisis, or draw upon childhood guides or seek a star to steer by. They would get as far as the first two lines and go no further, except to wallow in or proclaim them as 'truths'. The (better) sort of disillusioned Sophisticate would face such a crisis of soul with a sneering sarcasm while downing several shots in pursuit of the worm at the bottom of the bottle. The worse sort would proudly state the first two lines as one of their multi-culti truths & ethos, well suited to either teach to their students as ends to be sought, or to campaign for office upon them.

Give me the unsophisticated & illusioned (illumined) sort, any night of the week.

juliec said...

Bubba - that's actually the one I was thinking of (it's been a few years). IMHO amusing, and sure I suppose it makes you "think," but since Mutt/Duchamp didn't make the urinal, I hardly think he can take credit for it just 'cause his name's on it. If you're going to call it a work of art, I think the credit should go to the manufacturer, for crafting something that does in fact help make the world a better place (and is fairly aesthetically pleasing, given what it is).

Apparently I was wrong about it showing up in a museum, at least initially (I know that if the original still existed, today's museums would gladly exchange half their lesser known paintings just to show it).

bubba said...

'...and not only is he clean and articulate...'

Let us not get into Joe Biden territory. Watch it!

River Cocytus said...

Here's the photo...

It is foreboding and sad.

River Cocytus said...

Light is the illusion that is real.

And Christ is the Light of the World.

juliec said...

the link doesn't work but if you cut out all the bits after the last / you'll find the page the picture came from. Lots of interesting images from North Korea there, and the hotel is towards the bottom.

Very interesting structure.

bubba said...

As long as we're talking bassists, I'd like to offer up my favorite:

(You can actually sample his work.)

He plucks and bows an acoustic stand-up bass viol (which is a couple of centuries old, not that that matters) as well as being an accomplished pianist, he dabbles with many other instruments. I've mentioned him here a couple of times and, without belaboring the point, he is extraordinary.

As for jazz bassists, I've always been partial to Ron Carter.

bubba said...

What the heck, I insist you go there now! If you are disappointed, I'll give you a full refund.

Trix_Rabbit said...

Anything created by a human (or occasionally an animal) and called art by that or any other person (especially if signed). Hence we had a perfectly ordinary manufactured toilet. Somebody put a signature on it, and it was immediately whisked into a museum for the world to marvel at.

That reminds me of a story of Pablo Picasso who was at a dinner party with some friends. They were complaining about money or the lack thereof. Picasso stood up autographed their napkins and said: "There. Idiots will pay money for that."

River Cocytus said...

julie: link worked for me... hmm, well, anyway, they never finished the hotel and people aren't supposed to take pictures.

Something about not being able to remove the illusion when the thing is built-- for with them, what has been built is actually not beautiful and true, but stark, foreboding and ugly.

Spiritual lessons in architecture I guess.

Jesus WAS a carpenter....

cosanostradamus said...

Arts, music, literature...and architecture, like the great cathedrals of Europe that often took hundreds of years of devotion to an ideal to complete. The effect of walking into a Chartres Cathedral is a little different than that of entering a Schulleristic Crystal Cathedral in terms of holy illusion. One draws the soul upward while instilling humility at the awe and majesty of God and the other, well, just makes me cynical.

River - I couldn't access the link either. But check it out via Google Earth - the Ryugyong Hotel is in Pyongyang, and looks more like an alien spaceship than a hotel.

debass said...

Somethings are very serious. That is why I believe, because of my science background and my stay at a Holiday Inn, that when we convert to the metric system, we should also convert to the metric music system.
"Beat me daddy, ten to the bar".
That would be ten deciquavers for all you theorists.
And I played upright bass on a jazz gig last night.
oglosd-Oglo, South Dakota?

ximeze said...


Don't make yourself crazy over the someones who may be currently unteachable.

It may not be the content or the technique of presentation, rather the "abilities" of the recipients. Some won't get it now or ever.

Feel out your calling & be sure it's not tied somehow to gathering scalps.

When all is said & done, you never know WHAT will actually reach people. Take me for instance: the Late, Great Dr Gene Scott was the one to reach me (via shortwave). He was off-the-wall, funny & smart "enough", and a believer, to get me to listen. And listen I did, for the last 10yrs of his life. He's still my favorite. His widow, Melissa, has taken over his ministry, but doesn't reach me in a comparable way.

Consider that the current "lessons" may be more for you, than for those who you are trying to reach.

PSGInfinity said...

GLASR said...

On behalf of Ben and Van, ewwwwwwww!!!

Props to Dear Leader for coming up with the euphemism, 'though. Perhaps Noam could at long last do society some good...

Van said...

River Cocytus,
I think your earlier comment is right on target. What the literalists and atheists miss, is that form and meaning are complementary, just as musical theory, keys, go with the music, are lost without it, and the music is but slop without them. To fixate on one to the exclusion of the other is to produce nothing but pedantry or noise - music is made from their marriage.

Poetry in general, and scripture in particular relies on a similar such marriage between one the one hand of form, dogma, style, meter, allusion, etc, and content on the other.

As Gagdad mentioned about the lack of depth of the disillusioned (whether it be literalist or atheist), is that they read the text alone and go no further, and so lose far more of worth than they ever realize exists.

The early Church Fathers and later the Scholastics such as St. Thomas Aquinas studied the Bible and particularly the epistles of Paul by typically seeking to read it to a depth of four levels. Dante used this formula in his epic (Divine Comedy), and in a letter to a patron (down at #7 if you follow the link) attempted to explain and express the necessity of going deeper, far deeper than the surface, to get the spiritual value from scripture.

The levels were the literal (or historical), the allegorical, the tropological (or moral), and the anagogical (Vertical, higher meaning, mystical).
In a lecture from the Teaching Company, Prof. Louis Markos summarizes Dante's explanation of the passage “when Israel out of Egypt came.”, as:
"Taken literally, this verse refers to the Exodus; allegorically (or typologically), it signifies how Christ freed us from sin; tropologically, it describes the conversion of the soul from its bondage to sin to its new freedom in Christ; anagogically, it prophesies that final, glorious moment when the human soul will leave behind the body’s long slavery to death and corruption and enter the true Promised Land of Heaven. The anagogical level has to do with “leading upward” and with “final things.”"

To stop at the literal level of the text as a Rev. Jerry Falwell or Sam Harris would, is to leave most of the meaning out, and as you say, deify the bible itself for their purposes, either pro or con, and miss out completely on the doing of its meaning being actively threaded through the readers soul.

(ok wordverif:itrfn Yes it is.)

Van said...

And River, as Ximeze said, remember you can't take them farther than they're ready to go. It may be that at this point you can only indicate that there is more to what they read than what they're seeing.

If I'd have happened across One Cosmos a few years ago, I'd have been a good natured but still rather fiesty troll.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink... and if you try to force it either he'll drown, or you'll be stomped and fed it's own little green apples.

( apples & barge poles... a shudderific day in the Cosmos)

River Cocytus said...

Van: my friends and I have a joke involving a Shetland Pony. That's as far as that one goes.

Thanks for the help guys, I really wasn't looking at it from the right perspective (that is, from a teaching perspective) but from a debating perspective. That being as it is, I'll try to figure out where folks are and lead them to more metaphoric understandings of scripture. I bought a bunch of Schoun's books and I also bought Polyani's 'Meaning'. I'm going to ask my old Greek Orthodox Christian History teacher to send me some recommendations for reading/studying on bible and church history.

This way if/when I teach about bible history I can back it up with reliable sources.

Thanks again, y'all. If you have any other ideas, please feel free to let me know. (That includes you, Bob.)

I might start a section in my blog about it, but dunno.

Honest answers beat sophisticated ones every day of the week.

'yvigau'! ... 'bvidahvehnagau!'

(say it out loud, the first is the turing word..)

goy said...

Bob and bubba: thanks for the recc's.

I pulled up Meyer's web page and switched back here to continue reading. Quite a sample selection!! While listening, I thought, "hmmm... tastes a little like Béla Fleck." Sure enough, turns out they have a history. Cool.

Found a DVD that sounds like the Aja doc'y here. That it?

Gagdad Bob said...

That's the one. Speaking of immortal bassists, another outstanding DVD is the making of Who's Next, also available on Netflix...

NoMo said...

There is a universe within the thin line between horizontal-bound cynicism and the vertical climb that can be propelled by healthy skepticism. Healthy skepticism prepares itself to recognize and embrace truth when it appears. Cynicism prepares itself only for there being no truth to embrace. Some of the most sincere people I've ever know were sincerely wrong.

And, on a lighter note. My vote for bassmaster (that's long "a" bass) has to be Jaco Pastorius. And now back to the weather report...

River Cocytus said...

Jaco all the way, Nomo. With you on that one...

'ofpwngy'? Sounds like an internet exclamation.

Magnus Itland said...

Van, thank you for the beautiful mental picture of ritual as scaffolding. It completely explained to me the paradoxical use of "illusion" in the original post.